The Down Deep

Twisting, dark, and abyssal.

Overview

When the Fifth Floor broke, so too did The Daybreak Mountains. Their slopes crumbled, revealing gaping mouths of darkness; holes into the heart of the mountain. The interior of the mountain had been shown to be a hollow maze of passageways and antechambers. The roots of The Great Tree crisscrossed through the caves, squeezing through tight gaps and clinging to walls of massive openings.   These caves came to be known as the Down Deep.

Geography

There is currently only two known main entrances to the cave system, on the slopes of the Daybreaks. The first is on the southern slopes of the Daybreaks, at least a mile away from the walls of Stone Castle Invictus. The second is more to the east of the Castle, and much closer to the walls. For this reason, the southern cave entrance is favoured by the denizens of Branch, the city within the boughs of The Great Tree.   Immediately upon entry, the first impression of the Down Deep is how dark it is; light from the surface openings seems to die off mere steps into the cave. The intensity of the darkness does not grow the deeper as one goes, as one would expect -- instead the strength of the darkness rises and falls in seemingly random areas. This is due to the prevalence of Dark Root; a root that clings to cave walls, and blankets the surroundings in darkness.  

Dark Root
Species | Jul 31, 2019

The tainted root of a massive tree, found in a sprawling network of abyssal caves.

 

cave entrance.jpg

The southern entrance to the Down Deep. Its opening is surrounded by stones left there by explorers clearing out the path downwards.

Into Darkness

The system of caves is split up into a series of hallways, crevasses, antechambers, and massive rooms. Due to the oppressive darkness within, losing one's way within the caves is deceptively easy. This fact has led frequenters of the cave to claim that the walls themselves will shift while one is inside; the entrance to a room will inexplicably be missing upon return, forcing the explorer to find a new way out.    
Take sight of this map o' here. Rrk. Now don' go lettin your bark be seen anywhat's near them red X's. Thems where I heard the ringing of metmen. Thems where I know I'd be gettin felled if I stayed for too long. The metmen have rooted themselves all over down here, so we's gotta keep sight and sound of where's they might be, rrk?
— Unnamed Tree-man
 

Ringing in the Deep

There are other, more secretive entrances to these caves, used by denizens of Stone Castle Invictus . These tunnels are made by hand, instead of by nature; and most of them appear to avoid the main cave system, instead connecting to secret chambers and chasms. A hollow, echoing ringing sound can often be heard through the stone, as the clockwork horde continues whatever nefarious plan they have below.    

Lost Clockwork

Perhaps an unintended mistake made by the clockwork horde, or a byproduct of the second Clockwork Forge. Whatever the case, various small clockwork creatures have been found crawling throughout the caves. Most commonly found is a small Clockwork Mole ; about 1' long, and evidently harmless. The autonomous brass mole ignores any and all stimuli, instead burrowing from tunnel to tunnel, leaving behind tiny shafts between the tunnels. Explorers of the Down Deep from the Great Tree have discovered occassional uses for the moles; some play games with the moles, while others use them to find water.

Unchanging Antechamber

In one of the deepest areas of the cave, there lies a massive, unchanging room. Explorers entering this room find that the oppressive darkness recedes, confining its self only to the chasm within this room. The chasm its self is impenetrably dark -- and yet heat radiates from the darkness. An explorer may spend any amount of time they choose in this room, and the entrances will always be in the same place they remember. None choose to stay within this room for very long however, as here is where the sound of ringing metal reverberates strongest -- it echoes from the deep blackness of the chasm.

Alternative Name(s)
Abyssal Caves, The Dark
Type
Cave System
Location under
The Daybreaks

Found in the Deep

Water

It's hard to pack in enough water to make a trip through the Down Deep. Thus one must seek out additional sources of water while underground. Unfortunately, some of the water in the underground can be tainted. Pools of crystal clear water will seem safe, when in reality the liquid is incredibly dangerous to drink. One safe method of determining whether or not water is safe to drink is by checking to see if any normal Great Tree roots are nearby, as the roots will turn into Dark Root when touching tainted water. While Dark Root is safe to consume, the water that taints it is not.  

Roots of The Great Tree

Not all of the Great Tree's roots have been tainted and twisted into Dark Root ; occasionally an explorer can find tendrils of regular, wooden roots. These non-tainted roots are beneficial to seek out, as they can be used as a temporary map to lead one to clean water. With no Dark Root in these passages, the areas seem bright in comparison. The roots are not permanent however. Over time, the tainted roots take over, and soon the pathway will be once again bathed in darkness.  

Rodents

A source of food within the caves, and the main source of food for the Broken Souls of Stone Castle Invictus. The rodents are small, and sightless. They use a mixture of echolocation and sense of smell to seek out sources of untainted water. The "chirps" the rodents let out are often mistaken for ringing metal, causing fearful explorers to miss out on a pool of clean water.  

Personal Map

Cave Map.png
A rough map made by one explorer. The map shows rooms that he personally visited, in locations he believes are true; however, subsequent explorers may find an entirely different layout. Any maps made of the the Down Deep are best used as a reference, rather than true maps. The darkness below plays tricks on all who enter.

Comments

Author's Notes

All images created by Stormbril


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Master Redclaw123
Elias Redclaw
5 Jul, 2019 03:03

Pardon me as i scream with joy but JESUS CHRIST! This article is indeed truly a formatting and content masterpiece! The way you deliver the content with your amazing prose, voice and formatting skills is simply wonderful! I truly loved this article!   First off, i really REALLY need to compliment the formatting here. The way you used embedded images, block links and columns to deliver content into bite sized yet interesting pieces is just amazing! It definitely allows for a lot of detail , both technical and otherwise, to be put into this article and yet be so interesting! You did an amazing job there storm!   Secondly, i would love to compliment the artwork here! It just blends in so well with the CSS and combined with that, sets a tone for this article that is incredibly difficult to imitate. The artwork and CSS itself gives this article a cave-y atmosphere and with your amazing writing, makes me almost feel like i was in this cave myself!   Last but not least, the content itself was just amazing! Caves have always been my jam ( i visit too many caves in my life lol) and i have always loved visiting them myself!   Now coming to the critique part!   Firstly i dont have much to say for the formatting but you could use a quote at the very beginning too! It will blend in spectacularly with the vignette and make this article even more interesting to read!   As for the content itself, i had a few questions!   1) Have there been any large scale expeditions here by the inhabitants of the tower? What were its results?   2) What other flora and fauna besides the dark roots and rodents can be found here?   3) Are there any legends or myths related to this location? What are they?   I really tried my best to leave as good of a comment as i could in as short a time period as possible. I apologize if my feedback was in any way bland or second rate and you are free to discard it even. I wont mind at all! Still, i really loved this article due to the spectacular effort you put into each part of this article! Congrats storm and keep up the amazing work!

9 Jul, 2019 01:07

Hey Blood! Thanks for the MASSIVE comment! I always love getting these, and delving into the questions people have. Plus it's always super nice to see what they liked about it :)   I had a lot of fun letting my inner Qurillion loose with this one, writing about caves! Glad you enjoyed them!   Lets answer these questions:   1) Large? No. There's been a lot of small-scale ones from citizens of the Great Tree, but no large ones. The people of the Fifth Floor are too broken, reduced to primitive versions of themselves, to be able to plan anything large. The Fifth Floor is quarantined from the other floors of the tower as the result of war -- but perhaps if the quarantine lifts, there will be a large scale expedition?   2) Clockwork moles! As well as other various rodents of the biological variety. I've left it fairly vague so far, but there's a lot of room to fit others in. I'm thinking some good ol fashioned worms and centipedes. Nothing overly big or dangerous -- I want the danger of this place to remain the darkness, and the tainted water.   There is, however, a source of the tainted water in the deep. But that's a secret. Muahahaha >:)   3) Not really, nope! It's a mostly unexplored system of caves on a floor broken by war. The people that would tell legends or myths about it are too busy trying to reassemble the parts of their minds, hide from corrupted clockwork, and make a living on branches of a massive tree.   You left a great comment, and it's always appreciated! Thanks again Blood.

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