The Ziggurat of Blood

The army of zealous dark elves that had been dispatched to Dhesabro from the vast city of Umru Zashrah had done their job with ruthless efficiency. They had managed to round up four thousand, three hundred and ninety-one of their fellow drow and marched them in chains back to Umru Zashrah to face the judgement of High Priestess Chironsa. There had been some casualties but the pathetic denizens of Dhesabro hadn’t offered much resistance to the far superior forces that the High Priestess had unleashed upon them.

As per the orders given by the High Priestess the prisoners were marched single file up the steps of the great ziggurat in the center of Umru Zashrah. Still in chains to keep them from fleeing, they were guarded on both sides by the fearsome and terrifying manscorpions that Chironsa used as her personal thugs. As the prisoners reached the top of the ziggurat they were unshackled and forced into the temple. There in the center of the room was an altar for sacrifices. One by one the prisoners were forced to lie face down on the alter and their throats were slit. The blood ran down the sides of the altar and into a trough. This trough emptied into a hole in the floor and in a chamber beneath the altar sat a massive iron cauldron that caught the stream of blood. In this cauldron chamber were thirteen of Chironsa’s most trusted priestesses who continually chanted homage to “he who stalks the underdark and gives life to fear and horror.”

Only one of the prisoners was to be spared as per the instructions given by the High Priestess. The one to be spared was the albino dark elven priestess named Qehedru the Pale. Upon reaching the top of the ziggurat she was unshackled and taken through the sacrificial room to another chamber, and from there down three flights of stairs and down a long hall. At the end of this hall was a single cell with a windowless steel door. Qehedru was thrown inside, and the door closed and locked from the outside. Feeling about inside the cell Qehedru could guess it was only about twelve feet wide and about the same in depth. She could only guess at the height of the room, because the darkness in this cell was unnatural in nature. She found a corner and slumped down into it. Her mind raced with the possibilities of what awaited her.

Gradually Qehedru began to realize that she was not alone in this horrible space. She could almost hear somebody breathing, but her infravision could not discern anyone in the room with her. A chill ran through her body, and she could feel her own heart rate quicken. She whispered hoarsely, “Is there somebody in here?”

Qehedru could hear the breathing get stronger as if something unseen was getting closer. A strange and disturbing voice, almost two voices at the same time, one being deep and masculine and the other harsh and feminine replied with a hissing whisper, “I am always with you, Qehedru. I have great plans for you. But you will not enjoy the role you have to play.” There followed a sharp and ringing laugh, and Qehedru screamed in fear. The disembodied voice continued, “I will enjoy it immensely, though!” and the laughter all but drowned out the screams of Qehedru the pale.