The Underground

In a dark, dark city, on a dark, dark street, down some dark, dark stairs, through a dark, dark tunnel, inside a dark, dark hollow…
Three burrowers live!

– The beginning of a famous children's story of unknown authorship

A faint dripping of water. Shadows lurking within the darkness. Footsteps rhythmically clattering against metal. A repugnant smell creeping out from the ground. Down a tunnel, it seems as if there is a distant light flickering.

Far below the vast structures on the surface, another kingdom lies. To the animals who have lived their lives above, not much is known about the networks of tunnels underneath, closely monitored by the Knights patrolling the gloomy depths. It thrives with a different kind of life, home to those well-adapted to the unfavourable conditions. They are burrowing animals to whom the Underground is second nature. They are animals once considered pests, resilient and tactical. They are others who have utilised the haven of the world below.

The way of life in the Underground has functioned as such for as long as common memory allows. And it has succeeded in sustaining those who live down there.

One thing is for certain, though: all who choose to make the subterranean city their home must answer to The Rat King.

An expansive network of waterways runs below the City, one of the main remnants of human engineering no longer in use. Grimy, grotty, home only to those who may have once considered this place a safe haven during the times of human presence. Nonetheless, they provide many good hideouts from foes and harsh Winter conditions alike, water, and a sense of safety to all who choose to enter.

Which is likely the reason why the first King of the Underground and his Knights chose to make the Underground their domain many years ago. Scurrying around every empty tunnel, washing and splashing through the filth, hoarding whatever leftovers they can. In such adversity, society in the Underground thrives, which is why the oral traditions down there appear to have diverged into their own…

Once, the hive below the surface was as equally buzzing as above it, but it has fallen silent. It’s been a long time since the whoosh of metal shuttles routinely passing through was last heard.

In the humans’ wake, there lies an intricate labyrinth of interconnected tunnels linking various parts of the City to each other, accessible via stairwells or shafts designated by a blue beacon beaming at the entrance. Some of them remain illuminated by a dim glow. Most, however, exist in a state of permanent night-time regardless of where the sun is in the sky above. Nature has reclaimed some more than others. Some have been flooded. Dotted throughout the labyrinth, abandoned carcasses of rusting metallic beasts like smaller relatives of the Behemoth Twins in the Plains can be found in a variety of different colours. It is rumoured that the tunnels were used as an intricate means to facilitate faster movement around the City.

The Underground is not just limited to the manmade confines underneath the main limits of the City. Further out, nestled in amongst the groves of the Forest or hidden near the City's Waterways, many caves can be found. However, the precise location of each cave isn't something that many folk actually know except for those who live in them or are well-acquainted with them through other means.

The caves are the natural home ground for animals who prefer to dwell in the darkness: many mammals, insects, amphibians, and other creatures of the night. Each cave has its own unique quality and natural beauty about it, contrasting with the unsavoury aesthetic of the City's labyrinths. They can be found adorned with rock features, trickles of water, moss, plants, and other mysteries not yet uncovered…

The Rat King (he/him): The King of the Underground. Reported to live in a grand lair somewhere in the depths.

Count Vincent von Unten (he/him): Withdrawn but widely respected – a vampire bat and King's Knight of the Highest Order, overseeing much of the Knights' activity. Most active at night, either on patrol or brooding in the Nether Labyrinth. Seems to know a lot about the Underground and the City, but he keeps the information mostly to himself.

Gruff (they/he): A white-furred goat and Underground scholar. Has an eccentric personality and is often found gaining knowledge of the way the world works both above and below the surface. If approached, is more than keen to share stories and discuss scholarly topics.

Moose Musculus (he/him): A devoted and skilled Knight, who is often found patrolling the tunnels of the Murky Waters. For a mouse, he is large and brawny, and prizes himself on his intimidating presence.

Cole (he/him): An old wolf who lives in a cave somewhere within the Forest. Reclusive, and rarely seen out and about.

  • underground.txt
  • Last modified: 2023/07/17 14:39
  • by gm_geraint