Madness on the Moonsea
Name: Grinding Teeth
Demon Lord: Shub’Naraghul, the Hollow Fury
To describe this abyssal realm, the Grinding Teeth, as a rocky desert is to sin unforgivably against the arid regions of the mortal realm. Black mountains pierce what passes for a sky in this nightmare in all directions like rotten teeth closing around the observer, and ochre dust and rubble flow between them like desiccated slobber. Fire flows from countless wounds in the ground, and gouts of magma descend from the ash clouds that obscure the sky without warning. Great orbs, like the defiled carcasses of a thousand stolen suns, wander listlessly through the tortured atmosphere, sometimes disappearing above the ashen vault, and sometimes colliding with the ground to cataclysmic effect. Stillness here is unheard of; sand storms are constant, the very rocks and sand writhe as though in agony and fiery fissures seem to hunt with unnatural will for victims as they tear open the putrid landscape.
The lord of Grinding Teeth is a mind wrecking monstrosity wholly suitable for lordship over such a vile realm. Thirty meters tall stands the hulking frame of this vaguely humanoid, hunched and obscenely brutal creature. Its flesh is the black of the thickest clotted blood, and its many pustules and fissures ooze a glowing hot ichor. Three mighty cloven hooves hold the creature’s bulk aloft, leaving smouldering craters where they fall, and a writhing tales strikes out from his back, many times his height in length. From the beasts upper body, three pairs of oversized limbs reach out; one is a pair of shrivelled, hag-like talons hanging from his chest that burn with eldritch power; the second, from his shoulders, are great rending bestial claws that constantly drip with curtains of gore; the third is a mighty pare of leathery wings, not unlike great webbed hands, that cast off great clouds of burning ash as they beat. The creatures head is a misshapen fleshy mass of countless unmatched eyes that see unknowable truths and mouths that speak affronts to all creation, and above this head floats a darkly majestic crown of fire. Finally, from whence the beast takes its name, a great wound is open in his chest that reveals an infinite void of utter shrivelling blackness, deep within which a great burning eye stares forth with incomprehensible malignance. The tools of evil possessed by the Hollow Fury are many, and the unique and mighty attendants that follow it are uncounted.
As abyssal life defies and defiles true life, it thrives and cavorts in this impossible place. Hordes of mindless swarm beasts without mortal analogue infest every corner of this realm. They nest in the mountains, swim in the magma and orbit in great flocks around the drifting spheres, obscuring what little illumination they cast upon the place. Not everything here is mindless, however; vast fortified temple-cities, preserved by the dark grace of the Hollow Fury, stand as monuments to hatred and pain of such magnitude as to trivialise all mortal constructions. As well as demons and undead of every persuasion, things that once were men dwell in these accursed places. They came from the mortal empire that would one day be known as Imaskar, and they are descended from the first magi of that land who dared the horrors of the Abyss. Now they rule the temple-cities as the priesthood of the Hollow Fury, and care naught for their long forgotten home world.
Fires of the Un-Creator:
A circle of nine mighty volcanoes that thrust up from the centre of a vast ash plane, they are notable for the terrible lava flow that they issue forth. From each peak, an unceasing column of twisting magma plunges up into the ash clouds above, never to be seen again. These mighty pillars of fire, miles high, can be seen from nearly any corner of the abyssal realm, conditions permitting. The destructive power of this liquid fire is also notable; the very souls of those unfortunate to die by their heat are trapped there to burn forever unless rescued by the most potent of spells, and even the most powerful of artefacts can be reduced to glowing dust. With the correct ritual sacrifice, even the memory of that consumed by the fires can be burned from existence.
The Hollow City:
On a cratered peak not far from the Fires of the Un-Creator, the greatest of the Hollow Fury’s many temple-cities rises, and from this terrible place he lords over his dominion. Tides of blood flow forever down every stair and down from every window, turning all the lands around the Hollow City into festering swamps, great bone pyres populate every alley and corner with dancing shadows, and the screams and bellows of the places ungodly inhabitants form a constant symphony for the pleasure of their master. Here is where many of the greatest of the once-human magi and the least insane demons hold court and plot against each other, scrabbling for power and pursuing their own obscene projects. Desecrated magic of great power not seen on Toril since the death of Mystra can be found here, and services rendered to the powers of this place can fetch a high price indeed.
Once an island kingdom of Zakara ruled by black magic, the realm sank under the weight of its own depravity and eventually came to rest among the mountains of Grinding Teeth. The inhabitants of this blasphemous realm were not given the gift of sweet death, however, and now they form a legion of undead bound forever in their spectral forms to this land of the dead and the will of the Hollow Fury.
1’000 Temples of Fury:
The thousand or so temple-cities that thrust jaggedly from the landscape of Grinding Teeth swell constantly with the commerce of evil and the machinery of war, and for every living temple-city, there are easily a thousand more that lay in half plundered and smouldering ruin. Loath as the abyss is to tolerate any order or reason, these monuments to pain and hatred are for the most part ruled by once-human mage cabals with demon and undead enforcers bound to their will, and their economies are based for the most part on slavery, plunder, blood sacrifice and the mining of supernatural materials from the very flesh of Grinding Teeth. As their supreme act of worship, these bloody theocracies make endless war on each other and the more primitive inhabitants of the layer, striving ever to find favour with their distant master and long lost power in the unending layers of ruin and death carpeting the lands.
Pit of Achariel:
On one of the relatively quiet regions of the Hollow Fury’s vast realm there is place where the scorching heat and deadly fumes relent. This place is a great, jagged, bottomless pit out of which whispers a cool breeze, on which the careful listener can hear pleas for help. In the void of this pit the Hollow Fury has bound the spirit of a powerful avenging angel and an army of righteous souls, those of a holy crusade that came looking for the ancient Imaskari who had left their home world. As punishment for their insolence, the walls of the crusaders prison have been studded with many portals leading to many secret places across the planes; ones that, on their own, the crusaders will never reach.
Mighty though the Hollow Fury and his realm are, they are both young by the measure of Abyssal layers and relatively reclusive. The Hollow Fury is by and large happy to play at being a godling within his own realm and draw sustenance from the endless strife in his name. This unusual behaviour has on occasion attracted the attention of other demon lords, not least Orcus and Demogorgon, who have been known to send armies into Grinding Teeth to try and pluck out what secrets and resources they might happen across, but the realm has thus far proved strangely resilient. The relationship the hollow Fury has developed with Graz’zt, however, could almost be described as civilised. Shub’Naraghul has on occasion acted as a prophet and vizier in Graz’zts cosmos spanning intrigues, and in return has been given conquered territories Graz’zt no longer desires. These scraps of abyssal territory have been slowly assimilated into Grinding Teeth, to what end is anyone’s guess.