Aetolian Game News
The Den of Shadows
Written by: Anonymous
Date: Sunday, July 11th, 2021
Addressed to: Everyone
"STOP! THIEF!" Came the shout of a merchant at his stall as a raven-haired girl picked his pockets and dashed for the exit. Guards appeared at every twist and turn barring her escape until she was finally cornered near the Ironmaw with no less than nine guards surrounding her. The citizens of the Republic gathered quickly in wake of the shouting, surrounding her and waiting uncertainly.
The Warden, Ardent Riahl stepped forward and questioned the girl with patience and acceptance. Dismantling her sarcasm and offensive comments, the Warden revealed the truth of her dire situation and let her go. She left without another word, not even looking back at the large gathering with her bread and sovereigns in hand.
Not long after, a man cloaked and hooded roamed the streets of Spinesreach in a suspicious manner, poking his head where he should not and making all manners of clicking noises. Far more curious, he used the signs of the Syssin with notable precision which brought the Umbral Hand Seurimas and some of his fellow Syssin, Feirenz and Inkh quickly came to investigate the man in attempt to discover his origins. Though an answer was given, no one believed it as he slipped away into the shadows with little more than a helpless gesture of his hands.
Looking into his claims, the Syssin put out a private investigation, looking to see who this shady man was and why he knew Syssin secrets and skills. And to the surprise of the Republic the thief from nearly a year ago returned, in a state of complete mutation. Scales protruded from her face and her eyes were no longer bright and vibrant, but clouded and near-blind as she stumbled forwards clutching sovereigns. Inhuman fangs protruded from her canines and broke through her upper lip, making her unable to talk properly as she begged for the Warden's presence once more.
Desperate to cleanse herself of sin before she died, she pushed the sovereigns she stole back in his hands, pleading for him to forgive her so that she can die without fear. Promising she would not die, the citizens of Spinesreach attempted to gather materials to keep her breathing and off her feet. It was not in time though, and the sovereigns dropped between her shaking hands as she drew her last breath.
Charged with emotion and determined to not let a child die this way, Ardent Riahl took the corpse of the girl and brought her to the Tear of Lleis and begged the Gods, any of Them who might be listening now that he would do anything for her to return. Knowing that she may hate him for the rest of her life, for letting her come back the way she was, he promised to the sky that he would never stop looking for a cure. "Children don't die this way."
The Tear took the girl and the girl took back, eyes fluttering open and drawing a raspy breath as she was given a second chance at life. Wasting no time to take her to surgery, the historian and surgeon Inkh quickly led the Warden and the raven-haired girl to his operating room.
Taking a sample of crumbling scales from her cheeks, the Archivist Architect Saidenn used it to formulate an antidote for the girl's condition, allowing the scales to be easily removed and boosting her body's ability to fight back against the mutation. The operation was a success and the girl was brought to a safe place to rest for as long as she needed to recover.
With the girl saved, Spinesreach's wrath was quickly heightened to discover the shady man was the culprit behind the girl's mutation. An alert was put out to the guards to keep an eye out for his return, and many of the citizens began to join the Syssin in searches for where he might be hiding.
The search was brought to them, though, as the shady man returned once more demanding he have his daughter back. This time, he was guarded by a humanoid assassin covered in scales and conversing using the same odd clicking noise that he did. Friction rose as words were exchanged, and with his daughter unwilling to return with him, the man left after swearing he would return for her.
With quick thinking and a trace placed upon the man, a compass and some numerology was used as Saidenn and Cassomyr attempted to follow him back to his hiding place. Around and around they went, watching the needle spin north, then east, then west, and then east again until they found themselves before Rebel's Ridge.
Tucked away within the serpentine tunnels beneath Rebels' Ridge, a massive statue of a metallic snake was discovered. The locals have little information on it, and at first it appeared to be nothing more than a tribute to a gigantic metal snake from a time long since passed. The Architect and Umbral Hand agreed to spend the next few weeks gathering information rather than going down blind.
Having found a plethora of snakes within the Den of Shadows, Inkh was quick to solve the puzzle with four statues laid out in the underground corridors to reveal yet another passage that leads down in. What they found below, however, was not for the faint of heart; experiments of all kinds shambled through the dark, dank, putrid tunnels, and none among them were older than late teenagers. Researchers bearing some claim to the Cabalist ways were flanked by mutated assassins trained with singular purpose. At the end of the tunnels, the man was found within his private quarters and questioned by Seurimas, Inkh and Ardent.
The Spireans searched for a peaceful settlement, but the shady man had no such thoughts in mind and went on the offensive, crushing them multiple times. Despite trying to keep the dispute contained between themselves, the Spireans soon found themselves inundated with outside help. With renewed effort, the shady man was soundly beaten and granted no opportunity to flee or get in the last word.
Only moments after the shady man was killed, an unbearable mental pressure affected those in the tunnels. Some light exploration led them to find Amitivis, a gargantuan snake made of silvery scales that had taken up residence within an even larger cavern below the Den of Shadows. He spoke physically, his very power thrumming with each shift of his glimmering scales or coil of its humongous body around a stone pillar that he easily crushed. His thoughts intruded into those who found him, offering some information on his connection to the shady man, but taking no claim to the twisted experiments that litter the Den's corridors.
What will come of finding Amitivis after having no word of him for hundreds of years? What plans could possibly be enabled by his power- let alone his size?
Penned by my hand on Gosday, the 7th of Khepary, in the year 496 MA.
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