If you’re looking to escape the ever-watchful gaze of the Eye Tyrants, there’s a legend you might want to check out. You’d better be on your guard though, because no cutter seems to agree on what you might find inside. I’m getting ahead of myself though, I should tell you a bit of history first.
Have you heard of Illionth? They are (or were) the first blood to catalogue the Realm of One Million Eyes for the Fraternity of Order, back in the days of old Factol Jarkopple the Inflexible. They didn’t discover it by visiting though, it was through a psychic vision. Or astral projection. Don’t ask me, do I look like a githyanki? Don’t answer that. Anyway, this illithid – oh did I forget to mention Illionth is a mind flayer — explored the tunnels of the Realm in their mind’s eye, pronounced it the source of all corruption and evil, and then gathered a band of brave/foolish explorers to go and destroy the place. I can only assume they didn’t know about the Great Mother, or were really, really addled.
Anyway, Illionth was obviously never heard from again and that should be the end of the story. Except that hundreds of years later there are persistent rumours of a stronghold on the layer that’s come to be known as the Bastion of the Blinded. Chant reckons that Illionth, being a sly one, didn’t get put into the dead-book as fast as everyone had assumed, and managed to carved out some kind of sanctuary amidst the twisted tunnels of the beholder realm — a feat not for the faint of heart, let me tell you. Chant also goes that it’s a place wrought with perils that would send shivers down any cutter’s spine.
Picture it, a dark, haunting fortress, where sight is but a memory; the only way to navigate those wretched halls is through senses beyond the ordinary. The very air is thick with a psychic maelstrom, a storm of thoughts and impulses that overwhelm the sense of sight with hypnotic patterns. It seems Illionth was a clever one, a mind flayer with skills that put them a cut above the rest. They managed to adapt, to find a way to remove the sight from any being’s eyes and then adapted to thrive in the darkness. With psychic senses honed to a razor’s edge, maybe they could navigate the fortress with ease, filtering a mental image of the surroundings from the swirling maelstrom of thoughts and energies. The fortress itself became an extension of the mind, a place where every stone and every chamber resonated with Illionth’s psychic imprint.
They say defensive mechanisms of the most inventive kind guard every corner. We’re talking traps that ensnare the mind, labyrinths that twist and turn upon themselves in impossible geometries, a true test for the sighted, let alone the blind. The place is a maze, a puzzle that only the sharpest of minds could hope to solve. And in this way the canny illithid managed to evade the sight of the beholders.
You’d think it a place devoid of life, yet whispers tell of beings who’ve managed to evolve to this hostile environment, creatures transformed by the psychic energies into something… different. Sightless, yes, but with senses attuned to the swirling energies of the fortress, capable of seeing in ways that defy the imagination. Some say Illionth forged alliances with these beings, forming a community of the blinded, a society where appearances were irrelevant. Some say Illionth may even still be alive, although given the life span of a mind flayer I wonder about their maths of Some.
Now, if you’re asking for advice, which you ain’t but I’m giving it anyway — this ain’t a place for a sightseeing tour, unless you’re eager to sacrifice your eyes for a glimpse into the unknown, to trade sight for insight, as it were. Venturing into the Bastion of the Blinded might get your away from the beholders but it may end up being a one-way ticket to a world of madness. But if you fancy a trip into the unknown, or really need a place to hide from beholders, just remember in the Bastion of the Blinded, it’s not what you see, it’s how you see it.
Sources: Jon Winter-Holt, mimir.net