Rylie had of course heard that the world was hollow and that devils, trolls, and the occasional politician lived in the depths far below normal people's feet. Some empty headed bozo had been peddling that sad story his entire life. Being a rational man, he had ignored or openly mocked any one who actually believed such dumb children's stories. But now, as he looked out over what could only be described as a cavern. As cavernous. It extended endlessly beyond his sight, disappearing into the distant shadows cast from the dim glow of what appeared to be a lumious lichen that clung to the shores of what he suspected to be a massive underground ocean. There were boats out there for crying out loud. They all had a skull, spider, or something oh so melodramatic painted on the sails. Whatever. They were still boats on an underground ocean!
Into this underground world of darkness he had crept following the trail of the false elves. They had descended into the darkness to a poorly defended camp. Clearly they felt little danger here. Why would they, any army from the surface faced with this unreality would break and run if they weren't busy begging their gods for mercy. Thobis the burnt out wizard and Nealo the priest of Alilili had been dumped unceremoniously in what could only be described as a pen. A slave pen. They were chained and left on their own. After a time they had finally stirred. Thobis, the great genius that he was, had immediately tried to cast some sort of spell. This had just alerted the guards that he needed "special" treatment. He'd been summarily beaten, hog tied, and gagged. Nealo priest of Alilili was as useful as always, and reminded Thobis that Alilili didn't help those who couldn't help themselves. Thobis responded with suitably aggressive wiggles and gagged voice noises. Nealo busied herself with staring at nothing. Neither of them seemed to notice the absense of Rylie from the bondage they found themselves in. Perhaps they thought him a coward. Perhaps he thought, he wasn't the one in chains needing rescue.
Next to them in the slave pen was a large pile of hair. Suddenly it blinked and deep set eyes full of a lifetime of misery and remorse peered around. It shifted and fixated upon the new comers. "So, uh what are ya in for?" He looked at them as if he wasn't stripped to his under shorts, afixed to the floor with chains, or in a slave pen miles beneath the surface. "Adventurers huh?" He continued without waiting for a response through a moustache that completely hid his mouth and quivered with each word. "You know adventurering is a noble profession, first practiced by the anciet Humbuaeites." He nodded to himself as if he was agreeing with his own comment. "They didn't invent the word though. Oh no," he shook his head causing the great flaps of skin that passed for his ears to flop well past the point when his head otherwise stopped moving, "That was the Othamotiradins in distant Kool'Zoo of course. Their head Uoozith was said to be the first cousin twice removed of the one of the greatest Adventurers. Of course that was years before the Ix and their heresy machine set all the Othamotira temples to the holy cleansing fire of M'dekfaoe, but that was only on account of the price of a good Onqaovneowav in those days. Why I could tell you some stories about the..." In mid speech a rock cracked into his temple. He stopped talking and regarded them with the same woebegone expression he'd maintained during the entire speech, except now blood trickled down his face.
One of the evil elfin guards slithered and strutted into the pen and loomed angelically over him, "You have been warned to cease your prattling or we will remove your fat tongue one hair width at a time until your only story is an endless poem of pain and suffering." The content of the warning was dire, but one couldn't help but admire the dulcet tones of the slaver's voice. Rylie pinched his arm to remind himself that this cherubic being had just threatened slow and deliberate torture for the heinous crime of talking too much. The impish horror reached down and trailled one of its fingers across the hairy man's scalp. The softness of his touch was matched only by the casual elegance of his movements. Without warning there was a blur of movement, and then a sharp crack of skin and bone hitting skin and bone. The waifish cherub struck with such velocity and violence that it sent the hairy man to the ground groaning amidst a sea of wild hair.
And there standing above the prone form, with a grin of such satisfaction and pleasure, was the very image of innocence. Then with perfectly pointed fangs glimmering in the dim light, the smile twisted. The illusion suddenly faded. All of the beauty and grace that had surrounded this hell spawn beast like a second skin was gone and only the twisted, spite filled embodiment of cruelty and sadism stood there over the prone man. Everything seemed darker in that instant as if the light itself was afraid. The twisted creature purred in a newly thin and shrill voice, "If you forget again, I will wield the knife personally."
Then, just as switfly as the illusion had left, it was back and the elf stood and twirled a stylish pirouet. Once again it became near impossible to see anything except utter sophistication as it skipped out of sight whistling a happy tune that would have made children smile and caper in delight.