Part 4: The Underworld
And so it was that, for a time, the races of Pellatarrum lived in peace.
Unless, of course, you counted the bottom of the disk.
Which no one did, because as far as the Elder Races were concerned, it was just a bottom. If they gave it any thought at all, they would probably suppose that anything on the reverse side of the disk would just fall into the sky and eventually hit the Elemental Planes, because when the Material Plane was being created the Dwarves had insisted upon having objective gravity (something about how it was the foundation of the plane, and without it everything would fall about the place, and the Elves and Dragons chose just to cede the point rather than endure centuries of Dwarven sulking and complaining).
But in actuality, the bottom of the disk was fertile and habitable. Much like Australia in our own world, its biology had moved in a direction different from the topside. Creatures of the underworld tended towards chitinous shells, tentacular appendages, and inherent abilities both strange and wondrous. The underworld is the origin of all aberrations... which is probably the result of its most notable inhabitants, the Illithid.
Illithids, also known as Mind Flayers, were ancient when the elder races were young, and in fact predate even the Genies. They are the sole surviving civilization of the Godswar, and they managed this because they fled into the Astral Plane to escape the destruction of the Material. For eons they remained there, buttressed upon the corpses of dead gods, their incredible mental powers growing ever stronger within the timeless realm of pure thought and psychic energy. And then one day -- if days could truly be measured in the timeless, silvery waste of the Astral -- something remarkable happened: reality was re-forged.
The Illithids rejoiced at this, in their own alien way, and left their sterile fortresses to colonize this new world. They imported their livestock (food, slaves, and beasts of burden) and proceeded to adapt their environment to suit them. Or, to be more precise, they altered a strain of livestock to make the necessary adjustments for them, because the Illithids had better things to do than manual labor.
And thus were born the Beholders, who after their genetic uplift were far, far smarter than their masters ever expected...
(Note: some readers may feel I am repeating myself with the "Elder race creates a slave race which gains independence" motif. This is deliberate, as recurrence of patterns is a key theme in Pellatarrum. This is a cosmos with a clockwork progression of seasons, reincarnation, and an "as above, so below" relationship between the Material and Elemental Planes. In short, I'm not being lazy, I'm establishing a theme.)
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