The spired ruins known as
Fanghenge, located along the east coast of the province of
Manthria near the port city of
Marduran, hold a fascinating, if horrific, history.
According to the stories surrounding the place, Fanghenge is made from the
teeth of a demon who died in battle with
another great demon named Gaurgoroth. The
site certainly appears to be a collection of six massive fangs, each three
peds tall, protruding from
the ground in a last defiant scream of death. The great battle between the
demons is told in the popular myth "The
Rise and Fall of the Wizard Clendor". In addition, Fanghenge is said to be
haunted by the so-called apparitions known as the
watchers. These phantasms are described
as ghostly shadows who appear in the darkest of nights. The local folk of
Marduran know well to stay away from the area for it
is said that Fanghenge is cursed by the spiritual vestiges of the
demon that died there.
Description. According to legend, Fanghenge stands as a monument to an unholy battle between two titanic forces of evil. As such, the area is not a place the locals would call tranquil and quiet. The ground whereupon the “fangs” protrude is a bleak, grey landscape covered in stones and boulders of various sizes. It stands atop a small hill overlooking the White Fish Cove. For a distance of perhaps eight to nine peds around the area, nothing green grows. The ground is but fetid earth devoid of any kind of fauna. It is as if the demon remains below the earth had poisoned the soil for all eternity.
Each of the six fang spires are approximately three peds tall and one and a half peds wide at each base. The fangs are a dull white colour with scratch marks over the surface. Local stories say that the marks indicate evidence of chewing when the demon was alive to actually eat prey. Over the years, the fangs have born evidence of other man-made markings. Scholars of ancient history have theorized that possibly the scratches are of an extinct language not used since the War of the Chosen. Other stories say the scratches were made by strange cultists such as the True Vision Cult who revere the site as a place of worship. Each scratch mark appears to have been made at different times, with some quite faded while others appear fresh, as if made recently.
There are other indications of strange activity upon the fangs, including the dark, faded splotches of red visible on each spires' surfaces. Again, local legend paints a rather horrific origin of these red splotches as human and animal blood. One persistent claim is that Fanghenge is revered by dark cultists who perform sacrifices to the dead demon in depraved rituals. The True Vision Cult takes the brunt of the blame for these unholy performances, though no proof has ever been found that points to them. There is no doubt among scholars that Fanghenge's history and reputation has attracted many unsavory people to the area. Worshipers of Coór, for example, are known to exist all over Sarvonia and especially thrived during the Third Sarvonian War. Quite possibly, sages say, Fanghenge was used as a place to conduct worship to the Lord of Darkness himself in ages past.
In the center of the circle of fangs is a bare ground. It is said that once ever few years, when the moon’s light casts its baleful eye upon the circle, a hole opens up to reveal the remains of the demon’s skull below ground. The story has spurned many a treasure hunter and eager demonologist scholar to the site to witness such a gruesome sight. However, no one has ever documented such a hole appearing. Interestingly, attempts have been made by explorers who have tried to physically dig into the ground in and around the fangs. Their efforts have been futile. The ground is extremely hard and has withstood all attempts to penetrate it. Despite this, some say there are areas of weakness on the surface of the ground. An old Rat Brownie myth (described below) says that these are possibly Shadow Brownie tunnels dug under the fangs.
Many of those brave enough to visit Fanghenge at night have told tales that a strange fog wafts up from the ground to envelope the fangs in a hungry embrace. There have been few attempts to study this fog as most of the locals believe it to be a malicious curse that bestows illness upon visitors. Still, other researchers, such as the infamous gnomish scholar Waudrin Ghortz, have said that the fog is simply a naturally occurring phenomena based upon the weather conditions and the proximity to the coast. Ghortz and his allies also seek to explain the myths surrounding the site by claiming that the fangs were built ages ago by simple nature worshipers. The stone from which the fangs are crafted, Ghortz says, is simply granite posts carved by expert artisans. As for the barren ground, it also is nothing special, Ghortz claims. According to him, it is just a patch of earth not conducive to growth.
The entire area of Fanghenge is said to be alive with a subtle yet palpable evil. The malevolent atmosphere seems to deter any natural growth of plant life. The nearest tree grows about half a day's journey to the west of Fanghenge. Also, the local people have long known that the surrounding area of Fanghenge is devoid of any animal life. Local hunters know that no game can be found around Fanghenge. Not even birds fly over it, hunters say. It is as if Fanghenge pushes away life and growth and not even the sunlight can bestow any kind of life upon the area.
Location. Fanghenge is located on the eastern coast of the Santharian province of Manthria, between the Mithral Mountains and the coast. It lies just a day’s journey west of the White Fish Cove and two days journey to Clendor Tower to the northeast. The port city of Marduran is a three day journey from Fanghenge.
People. There are three groups of people one finds around the Fanghenge Ruins: The Marduran Locals, the True Vision Cult and the Shadow Rat Brownies:
The locals of the port city of Marduran are well familiar with the legend of Fanghenge. The city is a large fishing port with many adventurous and wild-spirited locals. The people of Marduran will likely tell many stories of Fanghenge history to anyone who asks. Marduran sits within days travel of a handful of ancient historical sites in addition to Clendor Tower and Fanghenge. Dead Fisherman's Grotto and the ruins of Karthmor are all popular attractions for visitors and locals alike. Marduran is alive with the spirit of the Avennorian people, much of the city's population being the adventurous, wealth seeking type. The locals warn away more visitors curious in exploring the mysteries of Fanghenge. Some storytellers and guides offer their services to those who wish to visit Fanghenge and attempt to discover its secrets. Most of these so-called guides and experts reside in many of the city's taverns taking payment in coin in exchange for revealing the latest reports of strange happenings at Fanghenge.
True Vision Cult
The scratches, blood stains and persistent rumors of cult activity at Fanghenge over the years has given rise to stories that the infamous demon-worshiping group known as the True Vision Cult have made the area a frequent site of dark worship. These mysterious communities of depraved people are often blamed for all manner of sordid activity. The Cult is rumoured to have originated near Ximax, but rumours are whispered all over Santharia that the cult has spread. According to scholars, the wild and unpredictable spirit of Marduran has drawn these cultists to the city. Knowing full well the reputation of Fanghenge as a place discouraged from visitation, it is likely the local True Vision community would find the site a place relatively safe to conduct gatherings. The cultists are commonly believed to be prowl the night, recruiting new members and are regarded as a group to be peaceful unless disturbed or harassed. If any True Vision cultists do consider Fanghenge as a meeting place, surely they would not commit atrocious crimes there. At least, that is what the locals would like to believe.
The Shadow Rat Brownies
Gratcha Swath, one of the most preeminent Rat Brownie researchers, who herself is of the Milken Brownie clan, believes that a race of Shadow Brownies may live within some hidden network of caves under Fanghenge. Gratcha's information comes from an ancient myth told by a Rat Brownie clan called the "Red Biters" who live in the sewers of Marduran. The myth, as told below, tells of the creation of these Shadow Brownies when the demons battled to the death. The Red Biters call their shadow brethren the "Prowlers of the Teeth". These Shadow Brownies are cloaked in darkness and emerge every night from their tunnels underneath the fangs. They hunt and prowl the land around Fanghenge for unwary travelers and curious passersby. When the moonlight strikes them, the Prowlers appear as tiny vague gray shapes scurrying about. Brownie lore says that Shadow Brownies are mythical and no real proof has ever been presented concerning their true existence. Nevertheless, the Red Biters insist that these "Prowlers of the Teeth" are very real and very dangerous. Gratcha says that it could explain some of the scratch marks on the fangs since Shadow Brownies are said to possess powerful claws.
Myth/Lore. Fanghenge is a place that holds many a tale:
The Creation of Fanghenge
The creation of Fanghenge is explained in popular myth known as "The Rise and Fall of the Wizard Clendor". The compendiumist Grunok the Exile was the first to publish the myth in the Santharian Compendium. The tale recounts how a wizard named Clendor, who lived before the War of the Chosen, summoned a powerful demon named Gaurgoroth to build him a great tower. He foolishly made a pact with the demon and promised the creature payment in exchange for his services. The wizard, powerful as he was, enslaved the demon and once the tower was finished, Clendor betrayed the beast and banished it back to the Netherworld. Sometime later, when Clendor's students became skilled enough to summon their own demon, it was the betrayed Gaurgoroth who answered. He exacted revenge upon the foolish Clendor and killed him and all but one of his students. The last remaining mage summoned a lesser demon to battle with Gaurgaroth. The two beasts clashed in an mighty battle until Gaurgaroth at last smote the lesser demon into the earth. While most of its vanquished form returned to the Netherworld, the teeth remained behind, visible in the mortal world in the form of Fanghenge as it is known today. Gaurgaroth was driven away, never to be seen again, at least not by that name.
"Prowlers of the Teeth"
As told by Brownie researcher Gratcha Swath, the myth of the creation of the Shadow Brownies at Fanghenge is a fascinating tale. The Red Biter Rat Brownies of Marduran have been telling this myth for ages and have always stayed far from Fanghenge for this reason. The tale begins during the creation of Fanghenge itself. When the demons battled to the death, their fight was long and bloody. Gaurgaroth pummeled his adversary with powerful blows, raining down black blood like an unholy storm. The contest raged into the night, under the smiling gaze of the moon, until at last Gaurgaroth's foe was defeated. The lesser demon's body was banished back to the Netherworld, with his fangs remaining as evidence of the battle.
The story, however, does not end there, according to the Red Biters. When the demon's blood struck the ground, much of the earth was stained. Under the moonlight, from the pools of blood sprang small dark shapes. The blood and earth mingled to create the Shadow Brownies, darkly evil and twisted beyond all imagination. First, terrible little claws burst from the stained ground. What followed were hundreds of tiny heads with glowing red eyes. The creatures struggled out of the ground, pulling themselves up, until finally they stood naked and wet in the chill night. The Brownies immediately began to dig into the ground where the demon fell. Within days, they formed a large tunnel complex underneath the fangs with the entrances sealed with dark magic. To this day, the "Prowlers of the Teeth" still exist and thrive, haunting Fanghenge. This is yet another reason to avoid the place if at all possible.
Fanghenge has long been considered haunted by dark apparitions known as watchers." These phantoms are a well known phenomenon throughout Sarvonia and are said to be encountered around moors, swamps, deep ancient forests and cemeteries. While Fanghenge is none of these things, it is a thought to be a sort of resting place for a demon, so the legends of the watchers inhabiting the place are not surprising. The existence of the watchers cannot be verified as there has never been a truly solid eyewitness account of one. However, over the years, hunters have claimed to have seen vague shadows around Fanghenge at night. These shadows have been described as human-shaped, with barely discernible legs and arms, cloaked in foggy mist. Because they are said to only appear in the darkest of nights, witnesses have only claimed to have seen quick movements of the shadows before they disappear.