Chapter one: The descend
The great labyrinth of Dazaúl Daz is truly a sight to behold, stretching thousands of miles in every direction, covering the landscape and even delving deep underneath the earth's crust. No living soul no, living on the surface, could remember exactly how or why it was build or created, only vaguely remembering the lore of old; stories told by parents to their little ones or to those who made the great journey.
A few of the old tablets and scriptures still hinted at its origin, telling of a time when the last high-emperor still reigned, the person who ruled over all five kingdoms . A dark time. A time of endless war and bloodshed. The tale hinted at a crumbling empire that was besieged on all sides, enemies outnumbering them by the thousands. Resistance was simply prolonging the inevitable. Gods were preyed to, sacrifices made, yet none of them answered. In their darkest hour the light had failed the city, for every good force they had believed in had chosen to remain silent. Still, there was one whisper that offered redemption, although at a cost. The voice came from the darkness, from a land where the light did not shine, nor would it ever. Its whisper was venomous and ancient, yet it did not lie.
A pact as made and paid in blood, continuing until this day.
The only remnants of what had happened on the day the of the shadow-pact were the nearly indestructible miles of maze-walls all around them and the inscriptions on them, depicting a demonic force that was annihilated by monstrous creatures. The once great five kingdoms were now five major trade hubs scattered around the maze, containing its inhabitants.
After the great war and the shadow pact the empire had been shattered and lesser kings had risen to power, fighting amongst themselves for many years until they themselves crumbled into chaos further. Now only the five major cities, or trade-hubs were still standing as tribute to the days of old.
Still, there were two things that people did remember; The high-emperor's crown that lay hidden somewhere in the maze and the monster that guarded it, the basilisk.
Walkers; the unofficial term for the brave individuals that were frequently traversing the gigantic maze. Each walker had his own map, his little book of notes and scribbles that helped him or her traverse the maze, leading from one place to another or simply to chart it out. A thousand men could work side by side to map it all out, yet they would need several generations to even map out a quarter of it, not to mention that occasionally a wall could be seen moving to block or open a path.
There are many exotic and strange creatures in the maze, some dangerous, others even more. The pelts, claws and Fangs of these creatures are worth quite the penny on the market, yet each of them is hard to bring down. The only thing more dangerous is the occasional sighting of the giant Serpents; Behemoth beasts that sometimes go up to the surface to decimate adventuring groups or to slam the maze walls in different positions, changing the game. They are nearly impossible to kill, yet their scales makes for the toughest armor and their ground up fangs the best poisons and salves.
Most of the walkers acted as hunters for the local wildlife or guides, helping trade caravans and patrols go from one trade-hub to the next, whilst others simply did it to scavenge for ancient weapons, amours and other materials that could occasionally still be found lying around in the maze corridors, fetching quite a price at the local forge. Still, there was one breed of walkers that were braver than most, not to mention more daring and insane. These individuals not only traversed the maze above, yet also below, claiming the legendary high-emperor's final resting place was located there, along with his crown.
The crown itself was a fortune, having been forged from the finest steel and the brightest gems, yet the true wealth lay in its importance. The one who found the crown would have a legitimate claim at the title of Emperor, uniting the five trade-hubs once more as a nation.
The cities, or now trade-hubs, used to be separated by race, yet overtime it has muddied somewhat, having as much half-breeds as it has purebloods still living. In this day of age there are the Humans, the Elves, the Dwarves, the Orcs and the Dark-Elves. It isn't strange to see walkers group up with one another or even form closely knit groups, all aiming to go one floor lower than the other groups, another inch closer to gaining the crown.
Something stirred deep below the ground, awakened by a insatiable hunger that it knew all too well for it had endured it for as long as it could remember. It felt the tugging at his mind, feeling the hive-like bonds it had with its kin, each one of them assaulting his mind with sensory information and incoherent thoughts, letting it all assault him like a wave of screams and imagery.
It watched with the eyes of his kin as another group of individuals walked the Maze he had constructed, making a straight line towards one of the entrances to the labyrinth that lay underground. He knew that they had in possession a half-charted map that had belonged to a previous Walker, a man that had been a captive of it for many years before it had released him again, letting him end up in a feverish and delusional at the last hours of his life. The man had only shared the map with this group and had explained that there was something ancient down there before he died, not able to form coherent enough thoughts to warn the group that he did not meant the crown but the basilisk itself.
The creature rose up and reached out to its brethren, instructing all to do as he commanded. The hunger increased even further, nearly driving him mad with the urge to gorge himself on the surface creatures and the unbearable urge to breed and further his kind and lineage.