Lorgan's Notes: Snake's Den
The Snake's Den is as venomous as its most famous inhabitant. Only the Nevemere Nomads traverse it with regularity, so if you're headed into the interior, whether tourist or adventurer, hire them to take you. Otherwise, you might not make it back.
by our intrepid Finder hero, Lorgan the
Magnificent Brilliant Clever Handsome Compassionate Humble
In this Research Document:
by our intrepid Finder hero, Lorgan the
all images by Shanda Nelson unless otherwise stated
4381 REP, 8 of Death
The Snake's Den has copious amounts of drivel written on it. Plowing through the myth and legends to find something based in reality drives me to drink. No moreso than Laken, I suppose. I'd call him insufferable, but sitting in the Fields for over a millennia makes one a little odd. It rests in the upper jaw part of the Snake's Head Peninsula, starting at the Snake's 'eye', which is a large dry lakebed called the Dryan. Flora and fauna are not plentiful but present. The red stone has been carved away by wind, though the flash flooding of early-year rains has done its share of destructive rock design. The majority of roads are actually dried riverbeds and ravines, impassible in the wet season. The days are stifling, the nights chilling.
The history is interesting. The upper jaw part of the peninsula wasn't always a desert, even if the lower was. Water from the Gulf of Teeth rode the winds inland until they struck against the coastal Snake Mountains. The majority of the water did not make it over and stayed north, creating a rich rainforest. Around twenty-thousand years previous, the ghosts of dryans settled the area because they thought the forest would provide an excellent place to construct a new lake. Native communities hated the invasion and fought against the settlement, but the Astri interfered--surprise surprise there--and the dryans dammed up the major river, the Liness, which ran from the lake to Crooked Bay. And they dammed the mists, too, of course. The eastern forest, denied both water and magic, began to wilt away. The natives declared war, but without powerful spiritesti, they made no progress against the dryans.
As far as I can tell, this caused an ecological disaster. The easternmost forest died, starting a chain reaction that spanned the entire length of the upper jaw. The mists dispelled, and the lake dried up. Why this affected the winds off the Teeth eludes me, but they dissipated as well. The dryans returned south and left the natives to cope with an alien landscape that no longer held the plants and animals they knew. Death haunted their footsteps, the poor beings. So the once lush rainforest peninsula became a harsh desert of red rocks, hardy brown grasses and twiggy rovem brush, with a few Death's Stand trees scattered along the oases. Animals associated with drier climates moved in, and nearly all the thinking beings moved out, but for a couple of religious bastions, the Nevemere and the Voristi Nomads, and the Merdian pirates of the northwest coast.
Avani Maan from Unsplash
Snake's Den, Rose Waterfall, before the dryans
Patrick Hendry from Unsplash
Snake's Den, Rose Waterfall, after the dryans
NOTE: look into why Old Man Death didn't prevent the disaster. He could have. Curious he didn't, considering he tended to stick his nose into other affairs.
NOTE: must book a caravan from Uka's Grace and take Liness Road up to the Snake's Den. The last Finders who tried to sail into the Teeth had their ships sunk by Merdians who thought they were in on the pirate games.
Donald Giannatti from UnsplashEntrance to the Black Temple
Raquel Mogado from Adobe StockLight's Eye
Eddie Kopp from UnsplashElfine tourist on dry Dryan Lake bed. There's a group who think they can restore the rainforest to the peninsula. Yeah, good luck.
Points of Interest
I really don't understand the want to live in such a wretched environment. Mists are scarce because water is scarce. Food is scarce because water is scarce. Seasons are Dry 1 and Dry 2 and Dry 3, and oh look, rain for a day! OK, maybe a few days (MAYBE). The wildflowers that erupt after showers are pretty, but wilt quick when the heat returns. Most of these plants have bulbs under the ground that hold water, for up to five years. Something to keep in mind if you have native companions and they need a drink.
- Black Temple
Built by the Nevemere ancestors before the jungle disappeared, they still run the place. Dedicated to Darkness, it's a vast black stone complex situated mostly underground, because "Darkness". There's an underground river that runs through it, so they have water. That's how they can maintain the wrent fields, which is their staple food. Breek cattle are kept underground and oddly thrive without sunlight, so they have a source of meat. And, of course, if there's a river in the Evenacht, there are mists. And these mists, by all accounts, are potent. A good place for ghosts to visit and recharge their essences.
- Light's Eye
Not the most inventive lot, these Nevemere. Light's Eye is an oasis surrounding a small, oval lake near the Black Temple. It must be fed by the underground river. Pilgrims travel there because the surface is mirror-like, and reflects rainbows during the day. A long rock juts out into the middle of it, acting kind of like a pupil.
Deep hollow where landed Voristi live. They build brick homes underneath the jutting rock ledges. The hollow can get quite cold at night. Only place to resupply in the central Den, as it's in the middle of nowhere.
- The Dryan
Punch back after the fact, calling a mostly dry lake bed after water-living folk. It's the remains of the dryan lake. During the rainy season it gets full, and the roads crisscrossing it are impassible.
- Snake's Den
Name of the area of the Snake's Head Peninsula, as well as the entire temple complex dedicated to the Snake. My research materials say the Nevemere worship him, so it's the only place they refuse to take travelers and adventurers. Too holy. You need to ask them to guide you to Grindal Oasis or the Sunbright Temple of Ga Son, the two places near the actual Den. Then it's a hike on foot or using local pack animals, usually the large spit (named because they spit, so stay clear of their heads) or the ronyx (heavy antelope bred by the nomads to pull loads). Don't bring animals not native to the region--they'll die.
- Grindal Oasis
Largest oasis in the Den, actually supports a town with both Nevemere and Voristi. Kept viable through traveler funds. Guides aplenty, too.
- Sunbright Temple of Ga Son
Their guides are the best hope of getting into Underruin because they don't see it as holy. Elfine run it, and the nomads put up with them because they've promised to return the rainforest. They travel the breadth of the Den as well, though not to the extent of the Nevemere.
Dangers and Helpers
- Scarp Pig
Brutish, sandy pink pig with arm-length tusks. Don't let cute piglets distract you; adults will gore without provocation
Jumpy creatures, they have muscular legs due to all the travel between oases. Will stampede with little provocation. Follow them to find water.
- Dune Cat
Large cat, finger-length fangs, dusty color that blends with the grasses. Can use instinctual Mental Touch to drain a spirit of its energy, just like it would eat a living being.
The pictures look like a mix between a beetle and a tortoise, with a piggy tail. Which syimlin designed this thing? I mean, a piggy tail? When upset or feeling in danger, it makes a series of clicks and gas erupts from it. Can be deadly to the living, and interferes with essence manipulation in the dead. If you see them on prickles, leave them be.
Fauna to watch for:
I was offended by the name at first, but to touch the plant is to get pricked then immediately die. I think that's legend, because I've read in healing books that the prickles, when ground, make a credible painkiller.
- Dusky Thorn
Nasty plant. Dead brown, with twisty, woody vines and thick thorns. It's invasive, and if it takes root in an oasis, will clog it to the point it becomes unusable by both the living and dead. It takes its energy from the mists, leaving none for spirits to consume.
- Desert Hopper Hare
Who names these things? It doesn't hop, nor is it a hare. It is an orange flower that grows atop a green prickle base. Crushing the petals gives a spirit a jolt of energy the equivalent to a night's worth of sucking essence. Find a cluster, if the dusky thorn has overtaken the oasis you've stopped at.
Flora to watch for:
Did I mistake sandstorms? Nope. The Snake's Den has winds strong enough to pick up fist-sized rocks and batter the landscape with them. So, if even a hint of red-colored dust rises on the horizon, seek cover immediately. Ghosts can lose their Physical form when struck with numerous rocks, and the living fare worse. And then animals and insects rain down after the winds die down. Watch for trapper viper and sandcrickets. Quite the effort, to get them untangled from hair, clothes, packs, tents...
Heat and cold
Deserts love extremes, and the Snake's Den is no exception. But when I say extreme, I mean it. Temperatures in the daytime, at the wrong time of year (seasons of the Sun), will kill the living in a few hours and sap spirits of their energy. Since the mists are so sparse, re-energizing after discorporation doesn't happen fast enough during the night for one to escape to shelter. Why? It gets cold enough for hypothermia and other cold-related illnesses during the darkest times, which, again saps the energy gained during twilight. Why does anyone live there, again?
Ghosts hate to be reminded of the Final Death, but greddels are a danger we face in the Den. Come in contact with these wispy remains of spirits who, for whatever sad circumstance, experienced the Final Death in the desert but left behind a little something, and you're in for a terrible time. They're mindless forms in search of energy, and they'll suck you dry to quench an unquenchable thirst. They'll hunt you, too, until they lose the flavor of your essence. Destroying them is not easy, but should be done. Otherwise, flee fast.
The Volodeme (Volo for short) is a large round hole of volcanic activity near the Black Temple. Most days, it smolders. On bad days, it belches out a toxic gas that kills wildlife and any natives unlucky enough to be within its confines. Winds carry the gas, so the death isn't kept in the immediate vicinity. Ghosts are not affected by it as far as I can tell, but any Evenacht natives and animals will be.
Atypeek Dgn from Pexels
The entrance to the Snake's Den temple complex. Is there another way around?
Roxanne Shewchuk from Pexels
Is it me, or are these columns too narrow for a ginormous snake to fit through?
From Parli's docs. It's the only pic I can authenticate concerning the altar. She says it's the best place to speak with the Snake. Again, how does a Snake fit? Unless he's a ghost.
The Snake is a snake. Duh. But a mystical snake. He's taken the aspect of the rocks surrounding his home, so his scales look like red stone rather than skin. His hood is enormous, and there are accounts where pilgrims thought they rested beneath an overhang, but it was really his hood. Scary thought.
The Snake lives in the Underruins of Snake's Den, named because they're underground, I guess? The complex was once called Affinity's Touch, but it fell to ruin along with everything else after the dryans got done with the peninsula. The buildings are tumbled brick and stone with most of it buried under sand and dirt. I read an eyewitness account from a Finder named Parli who claimed the ruin is a labyrinth that spans a day's walk in all directions from the central altar, so it's an easy place to get lost. The Nevemere built the altar. Parli said that the nomads offer food, drink, and expensive jewelry to the snake and leave it there. When they return for another offering, all that they left is gone. If it's not, it means the Snake disliked the offering, and they need to come up with an extra-special one or unspecific bad things will happen.
What might that calamity be? Don't know, though the nomads think he caused the desert to form, not the dryans' greed. While out-desert sources talk about the Snake, little is mentioned about him other than his rocky appearance. What Mental Touch does he employ? Is he a ghost or a native? I doubt the syimlin angle, since there are no large snakes in the Evenacht--or on Talis, for that matter--so my guess is that he's a ghost that prefers the aspect of a snake. He might be a worshipper of Maed Enne, since she changes animal form at will. I expect he is excellent at Physical and Mental Touch, with deep energy reserves. One does not cause desert-creating calamities without knowledge and a lot of magic. The lack of info concerns me, though. Lots of gossip, no firm evidence of his abilities. How can I plan to retrieve Laken's essence without a better understanding of the creature that guards it? Parli says vi-van have secret access to him, but they don't exactly like ghosts much.