We finally did it. We saved the plane of Faerûn from being overrun by the demon lords from the Abyss. They were expelled by Lolth, brought into the Underdark not of their own volition but by a powerful spell cast by Madame Baenre, drow priestess and leader of House Baenre in Menzoberranzan. We learned this knowledge only too late and it was of little consequence at the time. With the demon lords swallowing up the Underdark more and more each passing minute, we needed to find the Maze Engine and hopefully activate the device before meeting our inevitable destruction.

As we followed the map found in the mystical library, Gravenhallow, the same place we learned of the fate of the realm if we were to fail, I ruminated on our journey so far. I left the temple on a pilgrimage to better myself and share my knowledge with those who would listen. I planned on using my skills in carpentry and woodworking to teach others how to live a life of happiness and satisfaction. It was by unfortunate circumstance the dark elves came upon my camp while I lay sleeping beneath an ancient tree in the forest. Even it could not protect me from the poison and dark magic of the drow. My capture marked a turning point in my life, a life quickly consumed by uncertainty and fear as I was forced to traverse the sunless caverns of the Underdark. At first I cursed my luck, but as I look back I must be somewhat grateful to the drow. If not for my capture, I would never have met my companions, my friends with who I have come so far. If not for my capture, I might never have been able to test the limits of my body and mind. And, perhaps most importantly, if I were not forced to traverse the lightless depths of the Underdark, I might never have appreciated my orc heritage, for it is the orc blood that grants me the ability to peer into the darkness without fear of the unknown.

I also glimpsed into the pasts of my companions with the intention of getting a better understanding of their true character. We have journeyed far together, each of us taking turns to watch over the others as they sleep, each of us pushing our minds and bodies to the limit to overcome whatever obstacles we encounter, each of us laying life and limb on the line to defeat whatever foe challenges,

The Maze Engine was hidden deep within a sleeping volcano, hidden within a labyrinth of chaotic design marked by nine sigils of Hell. The walls pulsed with a dark, oppressive gravitas even I could not ignore. Even our cleric, perhaps best known for her cheerful disposition in the most dire of situations, was unable to crack so much as a smile after being forced to interact with the dark machinations of this unholy place. We solved the riddles, maneuvered through the mire, and bested evil’s champion, a skeletal fiend who made its home in the heart of the volcano.

The power of the ninth sigil brought us to our final destination, the Maze Engine, a massive creation no doubt filled with terrible power, the power necessary to save this realm and countless lives. Orvan, capable guide through the treacherous Underdark, and El Shazan, former slave of the darkness and master of the light, both seemed to intuitively know how to activate it. We discussed which spells and preparations to make before bringing the demon lords here. El Shazan echoed my initial thoughts on the direness of our situation: “Best-case scenario, the Maze Engine returns the demon lords to the Abyss and we all die.” Sometimes I hate being right.

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