A Verse to the Void Song
A Verse to the Void Song is the title Castian gave to a particular batch of Underdark which he assisted in crafting. The induced dream has the user become one of the Acaelican heroes who managed to release The Void Song from its arcane prison during the first weeks of The Demon War.
It is perhaps the most ambitious, theatrical and visceral batch of the drug made to date.
The Party's First Exposure
Following the commencement ceremony of the seventh Perish Day in Necine, The Party gained the attention and curiosity of Inibis Valmeia after they were loudly, publically, and not-entirely-unfairly accused of stealing from a local shopkeeper during the bidding presentation. Although Castian ignored the accusation, instead adding the shopkeeper himself to the group of Perish Day prisoners for the crime of "interrupting and delaying Perish Day festivities," the party had already gained the attention of Inibis Valmeia. Seeing the dressed-for-battle adventurers remain in the courtyard following the crowd's dispersal as Perish Day began, she approached them and found them interesting enough to invite to the afterparty she was about to attend at Castian's.
The party accepted her invitation and would find themselves responding to a series of questions about themselves and how they came to Necine, with Inibis finding it particularly odd to find such apparently capable adventurers who were not affiliated with Kairos. After a vague (but emphatic) story from Johann VonGruppen, Inibis decided that this group would likely be entertaining as part of Castian's latest and greatest Underdark sequence, and offered them the opportunity to partake.
Six vials were offered to them and it was explained that the drug would put them to sleep and into a shared dream. Evidently, the partygoers would be able to watch this dream in real time using a device Castian had constructed. Five of the group accepted the offer but Grihymm Phrahdrandon declined (perhaps believing that leaving the whole party asleep and helpless in this tense situation might not be the wisest of choices). The dragonborn paladin was left to observe his friends' dream while conversing intimately with Inibis Valmeia--one of the most powerful and influential people on the Prime Material Plane.
The Dream Sequence
The Creature's Cell
The party found themselves in a cavernous, almost blindingly white room. The only sound was an occasional loud but echoless "tick" that repeated at a static rhythm, always perfectly on cue.
The walls and ceiling were entirely plain and constructed of a metallic substance that none of them could identify. Otherwise, other than the door through they they knew they had just entered, the only features of the space were stairs leading down to three immense, heavily-sigiled and occasionally illuminating obelisks, positioned into an equilateral triangle. They appeared to light up in a static rhythm, always one--the apparent source of the ticking sound--followed by the second, followed by the third and then repeating at a constant rhythm. The obelisks themselves reminded the party loosely of the (much smaller) Repeaters that they had seen recently in Necine.
Upon getting their bearings and adjusting their eyes, two more of the room's features became clear. One was a simple, pedestal-like panel between themselves and the obelisks. The other was [what at least appeared to be] a pale child, wearing plain white clothes and floating absolutely silent and still several feet above the ground. The child was apparently devoid of hair and had soft and utterly androgyonous features. He or she hung silently in midair centered amid the three obelisks and gave no signs of life--or even movement--whatsoever.
The Cast and the Call
Taking this all in, the party took a moment to appreciate the strangeness of this experience. They were perhaps distantly aware of their true selves asleep in an impossibly distant room, but they knew also that in this moment they were not those people.
Faewynn Treewalker knew that she was Pickles, the Minotaur barbarian.
Murmus Bigtoe knew that he was Fan-Garm the warlock.
Vornaar knew that he was Teoz Ironmane.
All of them knew their friend, Waywocket Turen, the Gnome bard, and all of them knew one another. More importantly, they knew what they were here to do and questioned it no more than anyone questions the logic of their own dreams while having them. The task was the task and that was that: they needed to release this creature of dread to have a chance at saving Acaelica... and they needed to lead it out of its prison.
Releasing the Void Song
Walking down to the pedestal, a clear space was carved into the panel in the shape of a large hand. A kind of blue arcane energy coursed softly around the outline of the hand, occasionally arcing slightly inward towards a pool of that energy at the center. No one doubted that placing their hand into this energy would accomplish the first of their tasks in this place. Looking briefly around and finding nothing more worthy of their attention in this room, it was Pickles who placed his hand on the panel.
Feeling briefly a sensation not unlike static electricity coursing through his hand, the blue energy arced, faded and disappeared. Afterward, both the panels and the obelisks began to sink swiftly and oddly silently downward into the floor until they became totally flush with it, leaving no trace that they were ever there. The steady ticking sound stopped on its next beat, and in the following moment, the child fell several feet to the floor with an unceremonious and unpleasant thud. No cry of pain, shock or surprise followed it, however. The child drew up to its knees, wobbled a moment and opened their eyelids... but no eyes gazed out from beyond them.
It was as though there were two black holes there instead. Not as though their eyes had been removed, but as though there was simply nothing there to see but darkness.
A second later, the child opened their mouth, but again, there was only an impossibly deep emptiness.
But then, with a distant sound not unlike a rapidly wharbling, simultaneous hum and whistle, that darkness began to spread outward across the rest of the child's face. In a moment, there was no more face at all... and soon there was no child, either. The darkness within this person reached outward in tendrils and continued to grow until it had consumed the whole of the child's body before continuing to spread in all directions thereafter, the sound growing louder and closer with every inch of expansion.
As the party turned to flee, they noticed a contingent of twelve ancient constructs marching in formation toward them. These had apparently come out from the walls behind them--the same walls that a moment ago had been perfectly smooth and featureless and which now were a network of huge, interlocking hexagonal panels. The blue energy previously seen in the pedestal's handprint flowed rapidly in the cracks between these panels and just beyond the growing volume of the Void Song was the sound of enormous machinations behind the walls. It was as if the entire tower had come to life... but they had more pressing concerns even than that for the moment.
Correctly identifying that the constructs had come for the creature and not for themselves, the party circumnavigated the contingent and these constructs indeed paid them no mind, marching directly for the Void Song. Turning briefly to see them engage with the creature (but deciding against watching the fight at the cost of their eardrums), the party fled the room with Fan-Garm leading the way atop his summoned tentacle steed. What little they saw did not encourage them to confront the Void Song, as four of the constructs fell apparently dead in just the first few moments of the skirmish.
As the party exited the cell of Void Song, they found themselves in an extremely long and high-ceilinged hallway that their dream "characters" were certain had previously been only stairs. The length of the hallway seemed impossible given what they had believed to be the total diamater of this inverted tower, but the panels composing the walls, floor and ceiling continued to move and shuffle constantly all around them. In fact, they seemed to be constructing the hallway in front of them even as they ran toward the only apparent exit on the far side.
Upon reaching that exit (and getting some apparent distance between themselves and the Void Song), they found themselved in a simple rectangular room with a large, sealed door on the far side. Beyond this, at the center of both the east and west walls they noticed a hemisphere of the blue arcane energy that seemed to permeate this space. After trying the energy first with their weapons, they found the energy arced toward and around them. Later attempting with a mage hand, they found that the hand was apparently consumed by the energy, which caused it to briefly expand wider out from the wall.
Moments after, though, some chains were heard rattling overhead. Looking up, they noticed a number of incredibly alien- and unfriendly-looking creatures hanging from black, prismatic chains. Shortly after, they dropped down softly into the room beneath them, and getting a closer look did nothing to assuage the party's concerns. Indeed, these were unlike any creature any of them had ever seen--in a dream or otherwise.
From here, the party intuited that a robed and masked lifeform assembled of numberless worms surrounded by three vicious-looking brutes (who had somehow been turned completely inside out) did not mean them well. This would turn out to be an astute insight, as the fighting commenced without any further ado.
True to form, the creatures demonstrated bizarre psychic and arcane powers that made even this small battlefield an extremely chaotic one. Space seemed to bend and refract throughout the battle, and everyone kept finding themselves swapping places or appearing suddenly elsewhere than they'd expect. Teoz in particular made the unfortunate mistake of attempting to use psychic powers against these foes and caused massive damage to himself and his friends in the attempt.
The heroes proved up to the challenge and managed to slay the four aberrant monsters that had besieged them. Their victory meant little to the sealed doorway before them however, and the sound of the Void Song in the distance behind them was again beginning to make itself known.
The First Puzzle
Interacting once again with the pools of arcane energy on the far walls of this room, the party found that they could painlessly amplify it simply by touching it. With some further experimentation, Fan-Garm noted (with an impressive quickness) that they could indeed conduct this energy through themselves (though the corpses of the fallen did not seem to produce the same results).
Joining hands across the room, they found that--fully outstretched end to end--they were short of the distance needed to complete the circuit. Ignoring the plainly magical chains hanging over their heads, Fan-Garm remembered his tentacle steed who was able to help close the gap that much further. They still found themselves mere inches away from accomplishing their goal, however.
Fan-Garm's spider familiar Kumo was happy to help, but proved not quite sufficient to close the gap himself. This was likely due to his being a spider. Thankfully, though, Teoz's mouse Squeaks--from tail to tip--extended them just far enough to make the link.
As this arcane energy completed its circuit across the room, it begin to expand outward from each wall toward the sealed door, and upon reaching it, lowered it into the floor. It revealed a wide and steep staircase beyond, which the party swiftly climbed in search of an exit to this tower of madness. Unfortunately, it only led to another large hallway heading back in the previous direction.
The Second Puzzle
The second hallway was vastly different from the first. It stretched out beneath a thick glass dome which itself revealed a beautiful, sunny sky beyond. Regardless of a general belief that it was in fact nighttime, the party were further aware that they were deep underground and that this must be an illusion, though the as-yet-distant sound of the Void Song made them disinclined to investigate further.
Lining either side of the pathway to the hallway's end were dozens of evenly spaced trees of a species that no one recognized. In place of wood, the trunks appeared to be made of metal, although white, blue and silver foliage sprouted forth from it nonetheless. These trees also bore a strange, purple fruit that, once more, none of them recognized.
Advancing past this hallway and through the only door at its end revealed a room absolutely filled with a blue, crystalline, sandlike substance that not only covered the floor but also the ceiling, as particles of it seemed to float softly upwards all throughout the space, with many such suspended in midair before them. Everything about the room felt strikingly cold, though the party could not see their breath as they entered.
At the far side of the room was an open door leading to another staircase. Above it hung a moderately-sized container of solid, dark metal in the shape of a birdcage. As the party moved to investigate these, they found something extremely bizarre. Although they found they could move laterally along the wall behind them without much effort, taking steps further into the room made their entire body feel impossibly heavy and stiff, and by the time they reached near midway, they found they simply could not progress any futher. Their bodies simply refused to carry them another inch before they turned back toward the entrance.
Experimenting with moving around the room, Fan-Garm was able to notice certain "currents" in places throughout the room. It was difficult to spot them without paying very close attention (and indeed the rest of the party struggled to understand him), but he became aware that certain spaces in this room were somehow "less dense" than others, and that moving through them was easier than other parts.
Unable to identify a path through, the team attempted to strike at the apparent "cage" above the door on the far side. Their magic and weapons seemed to carry without issue through to the far side, and striking the cage with arrows produced from inside it a scratching sound, as of claws against metal.
Eventually, Quafiz found he was able to Misty Step successfully to the far side of the room. There, he found that he was able to undo a latch beneath this cage to drop its floor and reveal what it held. He was greeted by yet another species totally alien to him, though this one at least did seem to be friendly--and indeed curious--toward him.
Despite each of these qualities, Quafiz found himself at a loss for how to communicate with the strangely beautiful creature before him. This ermine dragon sniffed at his pockets a few times before randomly pacing and playing around in the blue sand at their feet. A Speak with Animals spell was cast, but the creature simply refused to interact or converse with Quafiz despite evidently understanding his words. Quafiz further offered some rations to the creature, but it refused them.
Unable for some time to make headway with the creature, the party pressed on attempting to find a way through the strange substance that blocked their way. Eventually finding that Pickles' Broom of Flying had no issues traversing the space, the party was able to use it to just barely carry their other gnome across, though found that it would sink into the sand when attempting to carry anyone larger.
However, with some time and effort, they found that the broom would indeed be able to drag individuals across using rope. However, this was taking time the party was increasingly aware they did not have, hearing the sound of the Void Song grow louder behind them.
Finally, Zherrius came up with an idea and ran back into the hallway they had just come from.
Plucking some fruit from the nearest tree and returning, he found he had the rapt attention of the ermine dragon next to Quafiz. Offering the fruit to the creature, it began a delicate dance through the floating blue sand, taking an odd and seemingly random path from its side to theirs and happily eating the fruit it was offered.
Noticing the path of footprints it left behind and following them carefully, the party was able to walk across the room as though it were no obstacle whatsoever. Taking their new friend with them, they advanced quickly into the next stairway.
The Final Battle
This last staircase climbed a good distance before opening into yet one more large hall. This one devoid of anything, save a sort of circular pit at its center. The pit was shielded with a layer of thick arcane energy, but getting closer, the party could see through this veil into what appeared to be a writhing mass of flesh. Moving in wildly unpredictable patterns, it was hideous and indeed disgusting to behold, but oddly gave off no sound or scent.
Staring at it for a moment longer, some of the flesh moved to reveal a giant eye. In an instant, many other smaller eyes opened all around it, staring upwards and out at the party. As the veil of energy fell and the scent they had certainly expected (but had hitherto been spared) assaulted their nostrils, the mound of flesh began to rise up and out of the pit.
It rose to a towering height, making horrible squelching and gnashing sounds as it grew, before spinning wildly and launching several globs of acid at each of the party. All were hit, with Fan-Garm and Waywocket nearly dying instantly. Yet more dangerously, gibbering mouthers rose up from the globs of acid left on the floor and began to attack alongside the massive aberration.
Quafiz masterfully utilized his arcane spellbook in this fight, dropping it and abandoning the room before using his magic to cast his spells safely through it (sparing himself much of the onslaught). However, with some failed divine intervention from Zherrius and some other brutal strikes from the mass of flesh dominating the room, the rest of the party were in dire straits.
Teoz, however, would turn the tide with some critically powerful strikes, dealing more damage than anyone anticipated to more than make up for his earlier transgression involving psychic energies. Lashing out and landing a series of heavy blows, he gave his fellow adventurers hope as he managed to bring the monstrosity to the brink of its life.
Rallying around their fierce companion, the party focused all of their attentions on it and managed--miraculously--to bring it down. The mouthers remaining were dealt with quite swiftly thereafter, and the battlefield went quiet except for the still distantly droning Void Song.
Noting that the door to the outside world was open, the party checked back to ensure they were still being pursued by the creature they had come here to free. Confirming that the sound was getting louder and closer, they called out to it before exiting the inverted tower onto an Acaesuran battlefield all around them.
As demons swarmed in every direction around them, Zauroth led them quickly through the planar gate they knew awaited them. As the heroes exited the warzone, they found themselves awake in Necine to cheers and applause from Inibis, Castian, and the wealthy nobles who had apparently watched their unmitigated success.