Somewhere, East of Thiria...At the border of the Spine and the Blightlands, the border between Winter and Autumn...
When one isn't looking...
There exists a series of caves, known to be little more than a death trap for any adventurer brave enough to enter.
Entrances have been boarded up with wood and boulders, only for another one to make its inviting appearance a few weeks later...
Waiting for someone curious enough to continue through the perilous, winding walls of the mazelike darkness.
One does not enter Lortha on purpose. Nicknamed the Slumbering City, she is the first of three cities comprising the Kindgdom of Nid, an architectural marvel once closely associated with the Winter Courts. There is no true consensus on the origin of the city's name, though two theories have been considered since its rather recent rediscovery. The first was based on the written account of the city’s presence prior to the arrival of the first modern settlers. In Efferil Cithreth’s journal, as a group of lost explorers explored the stalactite-like architecture, they came upon the body of a woman, Lorindiel, sleeping on her throne. The second theory was based simply upon the eerie silence that the city offers as one approaches. Even during the liveliest of celebrations, Lortha from afar appears still and silent beneath the luminescent canopy provided by nature’s own little stars.
A total of five paths lead out of Lortha. One to Iveril, the second city, two into Ur, the third city, and two more leading to a number of mazelike cave systems and eventually above ground- if you can survive the trip.
You have managed to survive.
Enamored by the luminous flora, you followed the narrow, damp hallways. You crawled on your belly through claustrophia inducing keyholes. Completely lost, you finally thought you could see the stars above you only to make one simple misstep. The ground caved in beneath you and you tumbled helplessly through the air. Landing in the underground rapids, the water pulled you along to the end where the water and air met, dropping down too many feet to count. The waterfall carried your screaming body down. And down you plummeted until, with a bone-jarring crash, you landed in the dimly lit cavern below.
Dazed. Disoriented. The water slowed to a lull, gently carrying your body along. You hear soft giggling of a child hiding in the grass, but you only see glowing as your eyes adjust to the darkness. It felt like an eternity, your body aching as you barely maintain consciousness. But eventually you wash up into the stony ground alongside. You look up and illuminated only by the light of glowworms, you see the pathway leading up to a kingdom that appeared to be carved in the stalactites themselves.
The child stood before you, nudging your battered body with her foot.
"Psst." She whispered quietly, making an attempt to wake you before the locals arrived. From the darkness, you see the flickering blue-green torchlight and a group of fae descending along the pathway. Their features, sharp and ethereal, as they closed in. It is clear they regard the disturbance with suspicion.
"Who goes there?" The booming voice of their leader, and elderly man is heard. He can see the child, but not you.