It was to us that the Ancient the world would come to know as Yarrum The Eternal Worm would come. Deep below the Mother Mountain, the Everworm rose during the time of Rending and our elders did contend with that great ancient.
We were arrogant in that time. Our bones were as strong as the stone in which we made our homes and our cities rose high to the sky and deep beneath the ground. As the Eldest of the children of Pangera, we saw this world as ours to inherit and control. From our great fortress capital Marrazan we projected our strength outward from the Mother Mountain and forged the first great surface empire.
As the mana rose and the calamity befell us, the first sign of the doom to come was a faint grinding echo reported by the deepest miner Triads. For weeks the sound grew louder until even wisest and most powerful of our Shapers in their towers high atop the peaks couldn't sleep for the incessant noise. As if the mountain itself ground its teeth, the sound was said to drive some to despair as it grew louder day by day. Despite this warning, it was a great shock to our people the day Yarrum came. Who could have possibly been prepared for such a thing?
If you go to Marrazan today, and should you be granted entry to the lower tunnels by the Sentinels, there you would find a place guarded by the strongest of our race, watched over by the most powerful of the Shapers. The Zirakkan'nolia, the Gateway to the Underworld. No portal or working of spatial magic, the Gateway is a three hundred metre wide tunnel and stretches beneath the city to an unknown depth. Some speculate the tunnel, created by the Everworm as it rose to the surface, leads directly to the centre of the world. If any have been able to measure its depth, their findings have been kept hidden.
Why Yarrum chose to rise to us we don't know. Why the worm chose to descend the same way it came up, we don't' know. The ancient empire battled the worm for many years before the lowering mana levels forced it to retreat below. In that time, only one of the earth kin was known to have exchanged words with the ancient, Igniun Faranon. The greatest of the Shapers in the ancient empire, she sought to commune with monster for reasons she kept to herself.
Whatever she learned, she did not share and retreated from the public eye. When the war was finally over and the campaign to reclaim the homeland of the Kin began, she vanished entirely. To where, to do what, is still not known.
Excerpt from 'The Fall of the Ancient Empire' by Shaper Scholar Raknos of the Iron Circle.
Granin Lazus leaned heavily on his staff as did his Triad mates beside him. The difficulty of such a mental working was high and the strain was considerable against normal foes. That the triad had been pushed to such an extent against a single foe was testament to the strength of the individual monster they had tackled. Granin himself was shaken from his brief encounter with that alien mind.
Images of swarming ant monsters crawling through tunnels, walking over the top of each other, their antennae always moving. Chambers filled with heaving larvae, glistening eggs and an endless number of monster bodies being brought in to feed their ravenous hunger. Most striking had been the fleeting glimpse he had seen of what he could only assume was the Queen. A monstrous creature of immense size, an alien intelligence gleaming in its' eyes.
It was enough to make his granite skin feel brittle.
"Are you well, Ternate Lazus?" Corun Nium, the second of the Triad asked.
"I need a moment to recover, Nium. The mind of the monster was bizarre and alien. I learned more than I wanted to, I think."
"Knowledge of the monster?" the second leaned closer, "surely that is valuable to us? Were you able to confirm we have found the right creature?"
Granin frowned and lowered his voice.
"Do not speak not of this now. Not all are with us."
Nium pulled back, properly chastened by his Ternate. Fortunately, the younger Golgarin Mind Shaper was spared having his blushes seen by the dark basalt he had chosen for his true skin.
The third member of the triad, Torrina Lakshan, stood quietly, recovering. The strain of their group working was showing on her face.
"Take the time you need to recover your strength, Lakshan," Nium told her, "the other triads will need more time to properly subdue our target."
The weary Mind Shaper looked toward her elder and nodded her understanding. Nium couldn't help but grunt. Not one for many words was his youngest apprentice. Feeling his age, he scratched at his granite coated arms and groaned aloud as he sat on a nearby rock outcropping.
The beginnings of a headache were starting to grind the stones in his old head and there was no escaping it. He'd pay a high price for the shaping he'd undertaken this day. In some ways he couldn't wait to lay on eyes on the monster who'd needed a full triad of Mind Shapers to knock it out and managed to avoid capture from two triads of the Golgari's famed warriors.
"Hopefully this creature will be the key we need," he muttered to himself.
For the next ten minutes he and his fellow triad members rested and recovered their strength as each fought to stave off the pain that blossomed in their heads. Conversation sputtered to nothing as none among them would cope well with speaking in the midst of their suffering. Stone skin they might have, but stone minds they did not!
Not far away the shriek and clang of combat continued as the other triads fought off the myriad creatures lured down by their quarry's ingenious call. The Shapers were left out of it, thankfully. When another five minutes had passed the noise finally dimmed and Granin felt in control of himself enough to summon his team and move to meet the creature he had helped to capture.
Still weary, he did his best to conceal it and trudged toward the others.
He was quickly confronted by an angry pair of eyes that belonged to the leader of this expedition, an experienced delver with a powerful sword arm and solid skills. Granin didn't like him. The other had chosen limestone streaked with silver as his true skin, a laughable indulgence of vanity. It made the Golgari warrior shine with colour and reflect the light like liquid metal, but the stone was brittle and weak.
"About time you crawled over here. Some of us have been working."
Granin ignored the pup. He had eyes only for the monster, the next candidate to attempt to bear the Red Truth.