Underneath the realms is a network named by the Orrish as “the black mother’s veins” – a place of vertigo and confusion, a vast ecology of twisted creatures in a sunless world connected by strange portals, tunnels and home to all manner of evil minded and foul tempered denizens. The Deeping is spoken of only in whispers and academic circles. It is a place under the land of connected caverns, tunnels, rivers, and byways which stretches under the entire continent. It is unknown how far east and under the mountains it may go. Parents use it to frighten children, in legends and history it is spoken of and referred to by many names, but always it is attached to evil deeds, evil places and evil outcomes. Some say it is a refuge of the gods of darkness, but their minions suffer the same effects, swallowed by its endless hunger.
The manifestation of the cosmic presence of The Deeping and its effects have had a massive detrimental impact. It is believed that its sheltering of species and creatures that would normally have been hunted to extinction or killed is directly responsible for the lack of technological growth and several massive setbacks of the development of the Steel Realms. It is said to run from The Cosheus Abyssal in the south to the Beyne River in the north. It is inhabited by Piglem, a Nurthlings, The Lightless, evil men, fey elves, renegade Ducateon and Orrish.
Cultures, if any, are localized. The strong rule the weak by violence, terror and a willing depravity from which stem their shadow-tales in the lighted world above.
Sustenance is lichen, cave mana, raids on the lands above, domesticated blind goats, cannibalism, and even normal crops in the more remote places where those on the surface will not detect them.
Where water passes through the shadow and gets in from the surface somehow, the infamous Deepwort is known to grow and feed.
The earliest corruption which is thought to be the origins of The Deeping in the realms is the Valley of Sighs. Because several minor and demigods died there, as well as the wounding of the demiurge of the world spirit of Helca, it was less a single powerful god and more the lingering essence of several lesser divinities. The prolonged orgy of terror and violence were the catalyst.
The Orrish and Nurth have nurtured it.
Djubahthi: This is the man (human in all legends) who is given credit to originally discovering The Deeping in the Steel Realms. It is said he was the only living being that could see the force at work, and even that he mastered the force and was able to channel and contain its effect. Many myths and legends exist around
this figure of which virtually nothing of fact is known.
The Orrish are known to risk its use to traverse great distances. Rumors say that the echoes of their war drums and battle horns can be heard distantly at times. This causes uncontrolled shakes and a chattering of teeth so hard that it can break them.
Caverns of Nailutchi Gnash: This legendary place is the supposed home of the Nurth-King. No one knows exactly where it is, or what the “king” presides over… just that no one has returned and it has foiled all attempts to locate it.
Hungerdouse: The Orrish fortress of Hungerdouse (where hunger is slaked!) lies in the southeast Saelish of Dunstrand somewhere – lost to memory and sealed up. From the time of CY 7620, the earliest reckongings of Orrish using the name, the fortress spent 800 years as one of the most feared names in the central heartlands. The Orrish established a base of operations, and began breeding Nurth slaves and raiders, off-spawn, and all manner of foul, shadowy things to haunt the lands. In CY 8242, the Red Fiend Adventuring Band, lead by the infamous Corpsebolt the Crazed – a deadly necromancer – was promised a vast reward if they were to stop the incessant raids which went out across Umbak, Dunstrand, and Fandelok. They were to strike it down, and be made titled lords and ladies in return. They were never heard from again. However, the raids were greatly reduced, and after 20 more years of raiding, they had exhausted what was left of the Orrish (seemingly) population in the fortress. Forays were made, and Druids sealed up the tunnels in the hills – there were many entrances and exits. Over the years though, powerful adventuring bands have broken the seals, hidden by Wyldsign, and gone seeking fortune. The Halls of Hungerdouse were said to contain near a millennium of loot from raids – a vast fortune. Few ever returned – and most would not speak of what they saw, only that vast numbers of Nurthlings still crawled the darker reaches. For a few hundred years, it was forgotten, until settlers from county Faer in Dunstrand built Womac Tower in the southeast Saelish of Bar-Innis. When they were excavating the few sewers made for the town, they opened a tunnel which lead to Hungerdouse. Troops from Faer and Bar-Innis were sent in. A hundred or more went in, only a handful made it out alive – to come out in ones and twos in the hills above the town. They never saw the dark halls of the fortress itself, but the tunnels lead for miles in all directions and the Nurth ambushed them at every turn. Those that lived suffered nightmares and madness. The tunnel was sealed up – some say over a dozen feet thick wall of magic brick-work was laid.
The true origins of The Deeping in the Steel Realms are the death of hundreds of the True Celestine (Celestials) and the corrupting influence of a massive vein of Entrophy that runs under the Tolkisson mountain range, all the way down to under the Black Fens and out into the desert lands of the fallen south of Synedcia.