|Underground Forest (M)|
A connecting realm with passages to the surface, the Kobolds maintain a presence in this strange underground grove.
When Astrior and her people had settled themselves in their new cavernous home, they began to explore. The first place they explored was a vast cavern that was linked to their cavern. When the first group of Kobolds, led by Astrior's daughter Kolfinna, exited the tunnel that connected the two caverns, they came to a sudden stop, for the path ended before them. As they peered down over the edge, all they could see was a faint glow beneath them. Determined to investigate the glow, the Kobolds searched for a way down to the bottom of the cavern.
With some careful searching, Kolfinna found a ledge that led downward, following the curve of the cavern. Slowly the Kobolds followed the ledge down to the cavern's floor. As they reached the cavern's floor, they were amazed by what they saw before them. The glow they had seen from the cavern's entrance was slightly brighter here, allowing the Kobolds to see that they stood on the edge of a vast underground forest. But it was a strange forest, filled with what looked like trees, although no Kobold had ever seen trees like these before.
The trunks of these trees varied in color from white to a very pale yellow, and were spotted with a black slimy substance. The tops of the trees were not filled with leaves but were capped with a curved structure, like that of a mushroom top. These caps varied greatly in color from more whites and pale yellows to bright oranges, reds and yellows. At the base of each tree was a small mass of twisted roots that disappeared beneath the floor of the cave. The floor itself was littered with rocks, dirt, and pale curving, intertwined roots. After a quick investigation by Kolfinna, she determined that the glow that surrounded the Kobolds came from the trunks of the trees themselves. Fascinated, the Kobolds continued their exploration through the forest.
Things seemed to be going well for the Kobolds. They hadn't encountered a single creature or person as they wandered through the forest. Then, without warning, the Kobolds stumbled across a group of people like none they had ever seen. These people, who conversed with each other in a rapid language, had golden-orange skin that was patterned with red swirls. From their heads, ears, and wrists, spiky horns grew. The Kobolds were frightened by these strange people and launched a few arrows at them. The Kobolds hoped the arrows would scare away the strangers, but when they didn't, the Kobolds turned and fled into the forest for fear of their lives.
As the Kolfinna led the Kobolds through the forest, they received another shock. As Kolfinna and the others crashed through the forest into a clearing, they came to a sudden halt at the sight of another group of strangers. Unlike the first group, these strangers were very different from the first. They were about the same size as the Kobolds, but their skin was white tinged with a pale-bluish color. Their eyes were huge, as if made for seeing in the dark, and their faces were very angular. Again the Kobolds launched a few arrows at the pale strangers then fled into the forest again. They thankfully did not encounter anyone else in their flight back to Nyttheim.
Once back in Nyttheim, Kolfinna and the others made their report to Astrior. They told her of the orange skinned people, who turned out to be called the Shar, and the pale people, called the Inconnu. Although Astrior wished to close off the forest entrance, Kolfinna persuaded her not to. She encouraged her mother to post guards at the entrance, but allow her and the others to continue their exploration. Kolfinna believed that if the other races were out in the forest, there must be something out there, and she was determined to find it before they did. And find it she did in spite of the fights that broke out when the Kobolds encountered both the Shar and the Inconnu.
The first thing Kolfinna found was a hidden tunnel that led upwards. As Kolfinna followed the tunnel, it spiraled up and up through the ground. As she continued upwards, the air in the tunnel grew chill with cold. Finally Kolfinna reached the end of the tunnel. After having a few of her group help in clearing the entrance, Kolfinna and the others emerged onto a high mountain top. Kolfinna knew she had discovered a way for the Kobolds to enjoy fresh air and sunshine without having to interact with the other people of Midgard. Astrior was pleased with Kolfinna's discovered and arranged for guard patrols to escort Kobolds to the secret entrance. But the mountain top, named Freya's Brow by the Kobolds, was not the only place Kolfinna was to find. Her next discovery turned out to be the most important and the most tragic for the Kobolds.
As Kolfinna and some other Kobolds were out exploring, they happened across the entrance to a mysterious cave. Kolfinna and the others decided to investigate the cave. Everything seemed normal as they explored until Kolfinna approached the far corner of the cave. It was then that a wave of fear and evil unlike anything else passed through the Kobolds and out into the room. The Kobolds with the exception of Kolfinna were frozen in fear. One of them managed to find his voice to call out to Kolfinna but she ignored him and continued moving towards the corner. Just then another wave of evil and fear washed across the room and this time it even stopped Kolfinna. Shaking as if she was just waking from a bad dream, Kolfinna turned and ordered her group out of the cave. As they began to run from the cave, they caught sight of a group of Shar fleeing before them even as the Kobolds nearly tripped over a group of Inconnu that were also in the cave. Not caring that she had been seen by the enemy, Kolfinna led her group back to Nyttheim.
Back in Nyttheim, Kolfinna told her mother of their experience in the cave. Astrior listened with skepticism to Kolfinna's tale, but allowed her daughter to take her to the cave. As she neared the corner, she realized that her daughter was telling the truth. She could feel the malevolent force emanating from the area. She ordered all Kobolds to avoid that area until both the source of the evil and a way to stop it could be found. As time passed, Astrior became busy with the daily routines of ruling Nyttheim and forgot about the cave, although Kolfinna hadn't. From time to time she would remind her mother only to be told that it wasn't such a big problem. Later when Kolfinna ruled Nyttheim, she too became distracted and did nothing about the evil presence in the cave.
If Astrior and later Kolfinna had taken the time to search for a way to deal with the evil, perhaps it would not have escalated the way it did, nor become such a threat to the Kobolds of both Nyttheim and the Undercity. What no one realized was that the wave of evil was Gullveig's way of scanning the minds of those in the cave for information she could use. When Gullveig scanned the mines of Kolfinna and the others, she found a way to draw upon their energy to strengthen her power while slowly draining them of their free will. Through her connection with Kolfinna and the others, Gullveig's evil was able to spread from the cave and into the forest and the mountain top beyond and ultimately into Nyttheim where she now controls a good portion of the Kobolds.