The city of Shade, capital of Netheril, is a city floating miles in the air, looking down upon the landscape. Inaccessible by land, the only way to get to the city is to use an airship or powerful magic.
Around the city, one can see several dozen large earth motes. Although these large masses of earth now float peacefully around the city (among many other locales in the realms), their origin is anything but peaceful. They appeared during the Spellplague almost one hundred years ago, during which time the weave was shattered, and the twin worlds of Abeir and Toril collided. The event was so cataclysmic that it caused each world to partially merge with the other.
Recently, one of the larger motes had caught the eye of the Netherese, who suspected that it had once been part of the continent below, and therefore part of Old Netheril. Many secrets and treasures were believed to remain hidden within its ancient ruins, a belief that remained unproven until recently, when a party of explorers had found a large ancient doorway on the mote itself.
Unaware of the magical traps set on the door, the party had attempted to open it, the result of which had been utterly disastrous. Only one explorer had survived, and was barely able to return to Shade with the results of the expedition. At the news that his party had been destroyed by an ancient magical door, the explorer was quickly granted an audience with the Princes of Shade.
The Princes knew the rumors and the stories of old, and upon learning of what had happened couldn’t help but to wonder if this door held the secrets that could one day bring Netheril back to its former glory. The explorer was cared for and thanked, after which the Princes quickly summoned one of their most trusted wizards, the Nethermancer Ylormik Zjan, to investigate the mote. The wizard was allowed to bring one companion, and in the heat of the moment had chosen his young pupil Ezmereth Nemrin.
Now the pair was standing at the door, having disabled the trap that had killed the exploring party and preparing to open the door. Ylormik took out an old parchment which contained the words necessary and began his chant. At the same time, Ezmereth advanced and drew three large orange Xs on the door itself.
The Xs began to glow in a miasma of colors. Surprised, Ezmereth stepped back, half expecting the door to explode into a number of small pieces. His master smirked as it simply ceased to glow and the Xs vanished.
“Excellent,” he said. “The door is unlocked.”
Ylormik walked to the door, raised a hand and pressed forward. The door was surprisingly heavy, but did move, and was soon opening inwards, slowly rumbling as it went. Beyond the door was a darkness the likes of which the pair had never seen, a darkness that swallowed any light that passed into it from the door.
“What do you think is inside?” Ezmereth asked, peering inside curiously.
As his head entered the darkened area beyond the door, a flame flicked itself to life on a sconce on the wall. Ezmereth jumped back, taken by surprise.
“You are lucky that this magic was not meant as a trap,” Ylormik remarked, “Otherwise you may have found yourself without a head.
Ezmereth ignored his master and looked beyond at what the light revealed. A stoned spiral staircase was now visible, and it led down, deeper into the mote.
The two Netherese took a few steps down and as a result, a second flame spontaneously combusted on a sconce further down below. As they continued, and lights continued to flicker on, it became apparent that the sconces were enchanted to illuminate automatically for whoever descended the stairs.
Slowly they made their way down the staircase, and every two steps or so a new sconce would light up further down the path. Partway down, Ezmereth began to wonder how deep this staircase went, and if they would reach the bottom of the mote instead of some hidden treasure. His fears were soon put to rest as the stairs ended, revealing a large chamber illuminated by the light of over a dozen sconces on its walls.
At the center of the chamber stood an altar, on top of which sat a large vellum open about midway. An unlit candle stood next to the tome, the wick dangling down and much wax hardened at its base.
“I believe we have found the interior of the temple, master,” said Ezmereth. “Which deity do you believe this once belonged to?”
“A good question, my pupil,” the old man responded. “And I believe the answer might lie within this book.”
Ylormik made his way to the altar, his fingers twitching in anticipation at the find he and his student had just made for Netheril. As he approached however, a ghastly voice spoke, echoing throughout the chamber.
“You shall not touch that which is belonging to the True Lord of Magic,” the voice said.