The burning light of Norrath’s sun waned, leaving the lands bathed in twilight. The undead that once returned to darkness as the sun rose were free to wander during daylight hours. There was no rhyme or reason for what was called “The Fading,” but nonetheless, it was upon the world.
Theories and fears of The Fading were shouted across the towns and villages. Doomsayers blamed a curse on the world brought by angry gods. Scholars blamed magic practiced by the unwise and unlearned and have since had their noses in books looking for a cause and solution. The rest just watched the sky . . . waiting. The world knew something was coming on the ever-darkening horizon.
And something did come. Sailors the world over began to tell tall tales of a great whirlpool that appeared off the east coast of Odus. It was so large and powerful when it appeared, they said, that it chewed up the place they once knew as Granite Island. They all call the great destructive whirlpool the Mouth of Prexus. They said it drew the sea and everything in it into its great maw.
When the whirlpool first appeared, Norrathians rushed to investigate. Some went out of simple curiosity and some to profit. Docks were built and ships from all corners of the globe anchored in the Buried Sea.
The Blacksail pirates who had the run of the islands in the Buried Sea were none too happy about these events. While their monopoly of trade was threatened, they had little doubt they would find the means to retain control.
Ignoring the pirates’ threats, scholars studied the whirlpool and the islands in the Buried Sea. The standing ruins of the region were quickly identified as Combine in origin. This new information brought excitement to the many guilds of wizards across the lands and it raised many questions. Was the legend true? Did the Combine Loyalists truly build a city to sustain Tsaph Katta and protect him from General Seru and his army? It was discarded as myth many years ago!
Above the sea, there was anticipation. Beneath it, terror. A Combine city was indeed built and still exists leagues beneath the sea. It is called Katta Castrum, built by the Loyalists of the Combine Empire hundreds of years ago to protect and hold Tsaph Katta who was poisoned by his traitorous friend, General Seru.
High above the center of the city is a great artifact known as the Pellarus Satum. It bears a mysterious magic that sustains the people and shields them from the sea above. Recently for some unknown reason, it began to fail. A small funnel formed at the apex of the magical dome that protected the city. In only three days it grew and stretched so high into the sea that no one could see its end. Fortunately, the city remained safe with very little water filling the city’s floor, but something would have to be done quickly.
The Collegium of the Combine gathered to discuss the dangers. They all agreed to reveal themselves and appeal to the benevolent races of the world for help. They would only send one wizard as the rest were needed to defend the city against the onslaught of Shissar attacks. However, when it came time to send the first wizard, Vesturus, to the surface, they found their portals were malfunctioning. Tragically, they lost Vesturus to the void.
The Collegium reconvened to find another solution. As one wizard, Callrium, searched his mind for answers he turned his eyes to the funnel overhead. In that moment he had a rather preposterous idea that he felt he must propose.
“I believe we have enough summoning magic among us to secure teleportation through that funnel to the surface. If we can sustain it, it will provide safe passage through this physical space,” he told the Collegium. At first there were snickers among the elder Combine, but then came frowns of thoughtful consideration. Soon murmurs of agreement were heard. It was not long before the details of the alteration of space and the summoning of protection were in order.
Callrium volunteered to be the one sent to the surface. He would carry a sealed message with him and a small satchel of portal dust that he would lay down as a teleportation beacon at the spire on Jardel’s Hook . . . if he survived. To his good fortune and the rest of the Combine’s, the teleportation spell worked on the first attempt and he was sent through the funnel.
Callrium rose high above the whirlpool and with an adept incantation of a levitation spell, slowly floated toward a nearby rock. He was surprised to see all sorts of onlookers surrounding the Mouth of Prexus staring at him with incredulity.
Next to him stood a blue-robed gnome with his mouth agape.
“You are of the Combine, aren’t you?” the gnome asked.
“Indeed. I have a message for you and your good people. The Combine rest at the bottom of the sea in a great city and we are in danger. Our city threatens to collapse around us. We must save it and our beloved Tsaph Katta. Take this sealed message as proof and send your best to us,” Callrium said.
“Tsaph Katta?! He’s alive? By Brell! But how do we get to the city? I see no way to it and the spire does not function. We’ve tried . . .” the gnome pestered.
“Our portals are not functioning as they should. My people only have enough strength to secure passage to the city through that whirlpool. You will find it a safe journey. Hurry, friend. There is little time!” Callrium said. He turned and floated across the water toward Jardel’s Hook and the inactive Combine teleportation spire.