Many enjoy living next to l’Étendue Sombre, or the Dark Desert – a fragrant desert of dark sands and slowly shifting dunes where the faint smell of anise suffuses the dry air. Those used to life in colder and wetter climes find the border cities around l’Étendue to be therapeutic. The desert itself is less pleasant though – a land where even magical rains fail to fall. Once someone is more than a day’s travel from the nearest of the border cities, there is no sign of life remaining… just dark scented sand and the occasional exposed outcropping of dark stone or bleached bones.
One of these stone outcroppings remains above the desert sands at all times, as if the dunes are avoiding the becursed place. Within is a single 20 foot wide cavern leading to the only standing water in l’Étendue Sombre – and the Demon Pillars of Iv. 28 massive bronze pillars are within this cave and if the pattern holds true, there are at least seven more buried in the rock. Each pillar is a full ten feet wide and roughly forty feet tall (although at least ten feet are beneath the floor level of the caves, and another ten to twenty feet rise up past the cavern ceiling).
Each pillar bears the face of a demon and is usually accompanied by thousands of runes that spell out the mighty deeds, patrons, servants, dictates, and foibles of the demon in question. Once properly understood, these also spell out a riddle that is said to be the key to the demon’s true name and the means required to release it from the pillar.
In the stagnant (and quite poisonous) water, there is a space where one more pillar should be based on the pattern. They say that the Warlock Edrezzen spent 11 years learning everything about that pillar and finally managed to summon forth the demon that was contained within and it then destroyed the six cities of legend.
But that’s obviously complete hyperbole.
The caves have been home to research teams and cults over the ages. The northern section was carved out originally to give better access to the pillars there but in time became a temple to a cult that worshiped or appeased the entrapped demons. The cult is gone now, but the cult’s assassins still come here to entreat the demons for help to cut down their enemies, and to make sure that no one figures out how to free another one.
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