The Shimmering Depths.
The Simmering depths are a surreal and otherworldly realm of transcendental beauty and abhorrent nightmares. The further one ventures inside, a litany of chiming song resonates throughout from the very crystal itself. Growing louder and louder the further one descents as the walls burst into a brilliant array of lights and colour, pulsating rhythmically with the melody. The Siren call of its melodic harmony can lead even the most even the most seasoned explorer to a most unfortunate end...A primordial labyrinth of twisting tunnels, caves and passageways that run throughout this pure crystal glacier like veins, carving their way throughout the glacier by natural water ways and rivers or burrows and warrens made by the creatures that call the depths home. It is a primordial realm of transcendental beauty and abhorrent nightmares. The depths are a surreal and otherworldly place, vast caverns, gulley's and crevasses have been formed by seismic activity over the eons. Other less elegant tunnel systems have been physically carved out from centuries of mining operations, boring into the glacier by the denizens of the deep. Its name comes from the crystals the form the vast glacier, the bountiful magically energies that emanate throughout pulsate with incandescent energies. The depths are known to be the primary source of magically infused crystal in all of the Sunless realms known as Magicite Crystals. Numerous attempts have been made over the century by various explorers over the centuries to chart the depths to little avail. The crystal itself is seemingly alive, tunnels seemingly disappear overnight, reacting to unwanted intruders. Some say the ancient magics that run throughout the glacier are of a long dead deity, and that this is all that remains. There are many reports and stories by explorers and raiders into the depths that claim to have heard the crystals sing, and harmonise with one another, as if they are communicating. Though this has never been officially confirmed by academics that have attempted to record the phenomenon, veteran explorers of the depths with swear otherwise. Claiming that when you hear the glacier sing, the horrors of the depths are not too far behind. There have been many attempts to harness the vast riches in these caverns, each has been met with disaster and failure, crippling nobles aspirations, merchant guilds and would-be-kings in the process. Due to the potency, these crystals are highly coveted by mages, craftsmen and artisans alike. All manner of potent magical apparatus and equipment can be crafted from the crystals that reach a high price dependant on the quality. Pools of water known as mana fonts are found throughout The depths, opulent blue liquid that contains high magical energies, used by mages and artificers for magical incarnations and enchantments.
When I was a child I asked my mother, "Where do the stars come from?" my mother turned to me and smiled, "Why, the Dwarin mine them from the glistening caves below your feet, so the elves can place then in the sky dear one." My dream would be filled with adventures deep in the crystal caverns below, trying to find the brightest gem to become a star. It is a tale I still remember to this day.
GeographyMagnificent doesn't quite come close to describe the sheer wonder and mystery of this crystalline region of the Underworld represents. The beauty of its subterranean geological formation are something that has fascinated exploders' for untold centuries since the first recorded documents detailing it's discovery. Leading many expeditions to meet uncertain ends, never to remerge again. The glacier is spread across vast swathes of the bottom most region of what is agreed by most denizens of the deep to be the middle layer of the underworld, breaching through into the lower layer below. To call the Shimmering depths vast is an grievous understatement, it's true scope remaining largely uncharted with much remaining unexplored to this day.
The Crystal PoolsThe Crystalline pools are perhaps one of the most famous entryways into the depths, accessed from following the length of the Borvoural rift that runs through the Rie'shi'Mainze. This large crevasse is filled by pools of opulent turquoise water, fed by a series of cascading waterfalls that spill over from the rivers fed from Lake Rieyla. An abundance of strange and unusual plant life grows around this area, believed to be the work of the magic the crystals here resonate. Attracting many animals as a natural source of pure water, to drinks and bathe in. As such, the denizens of Rie'shae have been known to travel to this location to bathe and relax, seeming as this area is known to be relatively peaceful. It's only if one was to venture further into the shimmering depths, things begin to become more hostile.
The Perils of the Depths.
It is not unheard of for explorers, prospects and entire companies of cavern raiders to go missing without a trace in the depths. There have been many attempts to find these missing expeditions in the past but to no avail, not one single map or chart that has been made of the depths is the same, or correct. Many of these rescue expeditions find themselves lost, having to retrace their steps only to find the way they had came is no longer the same. Or the very walls themselves breaking free, and coming alive to the peril of it’s victims. It is highly recommended that anyone wishing to risk charting the Shimmering Depths take a gatekeeper with them as part of their party, should they become hopelessly lost, or assailed by impossible odds, they would be able to escape without becoming more lost souls.
These dangerous and foreboding depths have been the folly of many. All manner of fell creatures are attracted to the Shimmering depths, sentient or otherwise. To either explore it for its riches or to call it their new home. Many beasts have spawned from the depths themselves, creatures born from the living crystal itself. It's thought that the magic here is so strong, sometimes it can give life, bringing into being creatures born from the very rock they call home; Crystalline golems and crystal beasts, amongst others. But it's most infamous and tyrannical resident is the Kyvandros - The Shimmering Emperor..
The Volcanic BasinAt the lowest point of the depths is where the crystalline glacier conjoins with the volcanic underbelly of Evalaw, deep in the furthest recesses of the underworld. The Crystals here take on a very different form, turning into a deep vibrant crimson, amongst the obsidian and lava flumes that run throughout. These crystals are highly infused with elemental energies, but are considered to be highly unstable and precarious to obtain. Great fissures and rifts rupture throughout, filled with vast lakes of lava and jagged rocks where the caverns have broken apart and reformed from geothermic movements.
The Fall of house VivisslithOne of the most famous examples of an organisation trying to harness the vast riches of the glacier was house House Vivisslith. The Dral’azie noble house used much of it’s power and influence to establish mines and colonies, eliminate it’s rivals and corner their monopoly on the trade of crystals from the depths. And, for a time they were Very successful. The house became very wealthy from it’s venture, however this unbridled success would come crashing down around then, in the arrival of the Shimmering Emperor. Destroying the houses mining operations and crippling it’s source of income indefiantly. To this way house Vivisslith spends much of it’s waning wealth hiring expeditions and veteran monster says to rid the depths of the beast, to no avail.
Crystal CustodiansSpeculated by scholars to be defenders of the Shimmering depths, not much is known about these ancient custodians. Many of these giants lie silent and dormant, undisturbed in an eternal slumber. However, on occasion one has been known to awaken when a threat to the depths or themselves becomes apparent. These colossi are made from the very depths themselves, each varying in size, shape and hue. These caretakers of the crystals are not to be taken lightly, and should one emerge, it is generally agreed upon to run. Seldom have they been known stop and talk and discuss such matters. Loosely taking on the unnatural appearance of giant humanoid, a custodian is entirely composed of crystal and rock. How and why they came to be remains speculation among many academics that have had the chance to study the phenomena, what is agreed upon is that the custodians are living creatures and not mindless constructs.
Crystal corruptionDespite the depths otherworldly majesty and splendour, there are numerous malignant dangers in the depths delvers must contend with. None more sinister than perilous than the crystal corruption. The corruption here is rife to any would-be prospectors and explorer that go too deep, their flesh being swallowed up and crystallised. Many unfortunate soul had been found entirely encased in crystal that had begun to grow, and eventually completely enveloped them. It's reasoning is seem as a natural defence of the crystal, there are many that believe that the crystals themselves are alive and a part of a larger organism. The corruption is easily treatable if caught early, fragments removed and the areas sterilised by magic. Should it grow too much, though it can be made dormant many will have to live with these crystalline growths indefinitely.
Commonly referred to as the delvers curse, it was originally miners whom were synonymous with contracting the corruption opposed to explorers into the depths. Many unfortunate miners could not be attended to for hours after contracting the corruption losing fingers or limbs. Those unfortunate enough for the corruption to enter the eyes or bloodstream would prove to be fatal. Whereas most delvers take precautions to ensure they starve off the blight.