Dealings In The Deeper Darkness

Deep in the bowels of the Warj'Arune, under dank caves and hidden tunnels, the plottings and schemings of the Drow Houses go largely unnoticed by the world above. Deeper still, another, hidden, force moves and manipulates the subterranean realms above it, insidiously plotting and maneuvering its pawns among the various factions of the Drow, and even Duergar. Caught between the Drow above and this hidden power below, an ancient remnant of the Tanar'ri Wars lingers on…

Urgoop Moeepash, a mighty shaman and chief of his tribe, is a minotaur to be feared by anyone who values their life. Towering over most other minotaurs at 11 feet, and weighing enough to make a Greater Slaad jealous, this monstrous being can humble even the mightiest of creatures with sheer muscle, let alone magic. But, they say, "There is always a larger mountain," and Urgoop knows this all too well.

It all began the day he met the one he calls Red Spirit of Shugak. For a time, the Spirit came to him during his slumber, in his dreams, night after night unceasing. Always the message was the same: "Follow my lead, Urgoop, and I will bring you the glory of the Old Ways." While minotaurs are not a race known for piety, Urgoop is a truly devout follower of the Old Ways, and a Shaman of the Old Spirit. Most of the tribe elders laugh behind his back, saying that the Old Spirit is dead, but Urgoop knows better. Always he carries with him the small statue of Shugak, greatest of the Old Spirit's champions from the Great War of Creation and Oblivion; the relic was given him by his father, who gained it from his own father, and so on, beyond all memories.

Urgoop believes that the Red Spirit of Shugak was sent to him by the Old Spirit. Surely, this Red Spirit has the likeness of Shugak. And surely, the strange warmth he feels radiating from his small statue of Shugak during all of his recent prayer chants is a sign of the Red Spirit's watchful presence.

When the day came that the dream changed, Urgoop was ready. The Red Spirit appeared before him in majestic form and light as always, however, this time it had something different to say: "Go, now, you must do as I command. Take your tribe up to the Drow. Go to them with offers of peace, of agreement, of alliance. Go to them with the gifts that I provide you. You must be my eyes, my ears, and my poised muscle among them."

As always, the words of the Red Spirit of Shugak resounded in Urgoop's mind. He was smart for a minotaur, but even for him such concepts were rather enlightening to consider. His people had learned long ago to stay away from the Drow, who wielded strong magics and proved to be a dangerous adversary. But, if the Red Spirit of Shugak was so bold, then Urgoop would happily mate on the floor of the greatest of Drow palaces before angering this herald of the Old Spirit and the Old Ways.

When he awoke the following morning, he called a moot of all of the tribe's strongest males. Before them all, Urgoop casually informed the elders that the tribe would now be called the Tribe of Shugak, and that they were to migrate to the Drow city above them. Those who disagreed with his decision were quickly brained and eaten by Urgoop, and his loyal followers. It only took one or two such "examples" for the rest of the tribe to fall into line.

And so, it was a strange day in Morga Aborathras when an army of four-hundred and twenty-four long forgotten minotaurs came rumbling out of the depths of the Underdark, catching the city's defenses completely by surprise. Urgoop had laughed at the Drow militia, for he saw in those moments that he could have ravaged their city were it not for the Red Spirit's command; they had never expected an attack from below. And yet, they had strong magic, and Urgoop's people were not long after surrounded by the Drow priestesses and wizards. It was clear he had not intended to assault them, for his tribe had struck not a single Drow. Even as their warriors gathered about his people, making his position utterly vulnerable, he made no move against them, but rather stood his ground with pride and faith in the Old Ways. Perhaps this is why they stayed their spells, to hear him.

Urgoop will always remember the strange look of shock, followed by a wry smile, that crossed the face of the pretty Drow priestess, Ezz'min Er'krath, with whom he had spoken that day. Strangely, she, a female, seemed to rule the Drow city. When she stepped forth to announce herself and demand his name and purpose in trespassing, all of the Drow men bowed to her, and bowed low indeed. Urgoop did not bow. Before an amazed group of the dark-skinned elves, Urgoop raised his voice and howled the salute of the Old Masters as he held aloft a strange book the Red Spirit had given him. Then he presented the pretty priestess with the book, as well as the other gift he had been instructed to give her; a statue of a spider with a woman's body, carved from the blackest stone. The sudden collective gasp from the Drow priestesses all around told him that the Red Spirit had not lead him astray, as did the moment of unconcealed shock on Ezz'min's face. Shock which quickly turned to greed, curiosity, and a wry smile.

"Where did you get these, strong one?" she had asked in a suddenly sweet, seductive voice. A voice that wrapped itself around the native language of his people quite skillfully. The woman even had the gall to lay her hand upon Urgoop's great fist! But he did not shy away, nor lash out; a flick of his tail was the only evidence of his annoyance.

The Drows' collective response turned to shock once more as Urgoop proceeded to display amazing intelligence for one of his kind, with a reply in Undercommon. "Me, Urgoop Moeepash, comes with gifts forr mayke peace, Dark-Elfses chieftan woo-man," was his rumbled response. "We have much strong tribe, for small spaces are we too many. You have big city, for yous's so small army toos fews to stop enemy you. We come to city and make yous's so small army to be big much strong tribe army, and not so small space for tribe, and make enemy run like do Rothe smoosh smash'em."

The look of amused triumph that the female Ezz'min displayed let Urgoop know the Red Spirit's ploy had worked. The laughter from the haughty Drow nobles let him know his own ploy had worked even better. Let them think him dumb. Yes, the idiots. Urgoop had them all fooled. Now the Drow would never suspect he was going to mate on their cleanest palace floor…

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