|Opened||19 Lunar 8979 GE|
The Arioch Cloud is a rift in the bowels of the ancient city Shoglomph. It is an open rift, today unreachable, linking Bal-Kriav with the Abyssal world Arioch. The history of the rift and the deep areas beneath the city got some clarity in the Second Epoch.
In 1445, the kuo-toan ruler Lagdú Gúrkúlub hired a band of adventurers. They were tasked with finding out why negative entropy and entropic energies were swelling up from below the city. These energies had long played on the minds of the population, having complete reversals in how the population was governed. Rulers had periods of stern order, then spells of lawlessness which they seemed to encourage. The group hired to undertake this daring mission deep into the bowels of the city was a band of heroes called the Marching Twenty. These adventurers went down more than 500' into areas of ancient construction. It far outdated the city sewers, canals and kuo-toa hatcheries above it. As they went deeper, they began battling ancient things. Demons and angels with armor styles not seen since the Demon Spawn War. They claim that sometimes they were aided by one side or the other, or that the foes ignored them, more interested in getting at each other.
We learned to our dismay, that killing them was only temporary, in a few days they were back up, locked in temporal stasis until something got near them. For us, death was death, necessitating the dreaded resurrection.
- Batti, of the Marching Twenty - "Old Foes"
The Marching Twenty came across demonic fortifications and a great fortress surrounding a mining pit. In the mining pit was a spiraling field of debris frozen in place. The adventurers could not enter the cloud, since touching anything in it would also cause the person or item to become frozen in place and in time. One of the group's mages used wizard eye spells to explore the cloud. It took many attempts before she was able to get the spell into the core of the area. At the base of a cloud was an angel frozen in time. In his hands was an hourglass slowly spilling granules of sand into its lower half.
The Marching Twenty reported their finding to Lagdú Gúrkúlub and hypothesized that the cloud they found was a gate to the Abyss, most likely a swampy realm considering the number of amphibian-like demons encountered. The angel was someone who nobly sacrificed himself to close the gate. The hourglass was no doubt an artifact of divine power and the only thing keeping the gate from opening. The feelings of law and chaos that are sometimes felt in the city are the emotions of the trapped angel and those of an entire world of demons frozen in time.
When the Marching Twenty got to the surface, they reported their finding to the seers at Paradomea Institute. The scholars of this renown institute named the rift Arioch Cloud. This came several years later when in the deeps of the Green Nebulous, divers found a coffer of scrolls. One of these was an intelligence document of an angel garrisoned at Phollûma. In summary, this document written during the Demon Spawn War, said that the Arioch Cloud was an inter-system bridge, an invasion route for the armies under the demon lord Athroond.
Interrogations of demon prisoners is conclusive that they they came across in 1s, 2s, sometimes in 10s or more, but it was not an organized effort. One lowly quasit boasted how everyone was told to head towards the rift and along the way they were treated with bags of baubles, purses of copper, wine, mead, food - with some still living, and all manner of other things to entice us to cross over and plunder a world where the enemy's souls were for the taking.
The other side of the rift opened up in newly built fortress with just as many missile weapons pointing inward as outward. We stepped out of the rift into a mining pit ringed at the top with battlements. The crack of the whip echoed off in th distance and for those weak non-flying types, they were encouraged to move at a quick pace.
They then tried to cross 143 miles of dark passages, some of these they held but most of the time our forces had the numbers and organization to handle their chaotic advance on Phollûma. This went on steadily for two years, we killed thousands, tens of thousands, yet they still came on. The demon horde seemed to have unlimited soldiers. They wore us down from exhaustion and caused losses that we could not dream of replacing like the steady stream coming out of the Arioch Cloud.
- Delgûmâ, chief intelligence officer of Phollûma - "Hordes of Arioch"
The Arioch Cloud was shutdown when the Covenant commander Marindecar activated the Timepiece of Chronos. It required all of her life energy to power up this god artifact. Upon activation it froze everything in the area around the rift, the elite angels guarding Marindecar became locked in time next to their dead leader, hundreds of demons and angels battling it out across many levels were frozen in time. This dilation of the time continuum spilled through the rift to Arioch, freezing Athroond and the entire world around him. Everything in these areas are still frozen in time, unreachable by even the Higher Powers; except perhaps Chronos.
In addition to the emanations affecting Shoglomph, the rift's existence changed the Green Nebulous. Even though the rift is frozen in time, abyssal energy still leaks across, changing the area's vegetation and its color.