Perilous Gateways

Great Rift Portals

By Jeff Quick

Deeperdown Reservoir Portal

In 786 DR, one of the major wells in Eartheart dried up. This well provided water for an entire Deeperdown clan neighborhood within the city. After divination and thorough hydrological inspection, the Eartheart Water Inspection Council determined that this failure was purely natural -- not an attack, not the result of an accident, and unrelated to any known prophesies. The well simply dried up. It seemed an almost pleasant change for a major occurrence not to be tied to some portent of doom. Once the dwarves were done feeling relieved though, they still had a water supply problem to solve.

The council's representatives studied the problem for two months. When they returned with their proposals, they had three options. Their first option, digging to connect the well with an underground lake several miles away, was ruined when an aboleth suddenly took up residence in the lake and the aberration's scum fouled the waters. The second option proved unfeasible when the necessary aqueducts to bring water in passed through dense residential areas of Eartheart. The third option was no one's favorite, but the only feasible solution: Go to the surface for water.

The dwarven representatives had found a suitable lake about three days' pony ride south of the Rift in a wooded glen. It was clean water, fed by two streams, in the open Shaar. After some observation, it seemed that only animals and a wemic tribe knew of its existence. Though relying on a surface lake for water seemed unorthodox and perhaps even a little risky, the dwarves decided to try it.

The dwarves dispatched a wizard and a team of engineers to the site. The engineers built temporary dams and drained the lake. Then the wizard set about the muddy task of creating a portal in the floor of the lake and the engineers began moving earth to create a deeper reservoir. When done, the engineers installed a mithral grate over the portal to prevent intrusion, and the wizard summoned a Huge water elemental to stand guard in the water. Then the dwarves released their dams, stopped up the lake's outflow, and watched their new reservoir begin to fill. They built an underground guard bunker next to the reservoir for dwarven warriors to keep watch. Then they left a dozen stout warriors to look over it and rode back to the Rift.

The portal is delimited by a 1-foot diameter ring of stones, which are carved with runes and arranged in shapes of larger runes. It is one-way and always open, allowing a constant flood of water through. Within Eartheart, the water appears from the ceiling above an open plaza in the Deeperdown clan neighborhood. In a thunderous cascade, the water spills into a specially carved basin that serves as both water supply and public fountain, serving the community splendidly.

The arrangement has worked for the last 580 years, with all the precision that one would expect from a dwarven engineering project. Only the guard has slipped over the years. As time wore on, and the reservoir began to seem safe and stable, the guard positions posted at the reservoir were reassigned to other posts. Today, only a single dwarf, Rauthas Deeperdown (N male dwarf Drd9), lives in the old bunker, keeping watch over the reservoir. As a full-blooded Deeperdown, Rauthas feels it is his duty to make sure that the water remains undisturbed. He also prefers the solitude, even if it is above ground. The elemental remains, vigilant as ever, and the grate is still as tough as the day it was bolted down into the surrounding bedrock.

Unfortunately, other things have changed. An evil water genasi from Dambrath, Mavesta Krinindo (LE female water genasi Clr5) has discovered the gold dwarves' water supply. She has reported the find to her half-drow masters, and they have devised a terrible plan. Mavesta is to take a score of rogue and warrior confederates to kill Rauthas. Then they intend to poison the reservoir and wait for the dwarves to sicken and die. Once the poison has had time to set in, they will enter the city through the portal in water form and kill everyone they find. What the half-drow believe they will accomplish by doing this remains their own secret.

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Great Rift Portals