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1.4.16.25: Jawless Fishes - Biology

1.4.16.25: Jawless Fishes - Biology



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Learning Objectives

  • Identify the common characteristics of jawless fishes

Jawless fishes are craniates that represent an ancient vertebrate lineage that arose over one half-billion years ago. In the past, the hagfishes and lampreys were classified together as agnathans. Today, hagfishes and lampreys are recognized as separate clades, primarily because lampreys are true vertebrates, whereas hagfishes are not. A defining feature is the lack of paired lateral appendages (fins). Some of the earliest jawless fishes were the ostracoderms (which translates to “shell-skin”). Ostracoderms were vertebrate fishes encased in bony armor, unlike present-day jawless fishes, which lack bone in their scales.

Myxini: Hagfishes

The clade Myxini includes at least 20 species of hagfishes. Hagfishes are eel-like scavengers that live on the ocean floor and feed on dead invertebrates, other fishes, and marine mammals (Figure 1). Hagfishes are entirely marine and are found in oceans around the world, except for the polar regions. A unique feature of these animals is the slime glands beneath the skin that release mucus through surface pores. This mucus allows the hagfish to escape from the grip of predators. Hagfish can also twist their bodies in a knot to feed and sometimes eat carcasses from the inside out.

The skeleton of a hagfish is composed of cartilage, which includes a cartilaginous notochord that runs the length of the body. This notochord provides support to the hagfish’s body. Hagfishes do not replace the notochord with a vertebral column during development, as do true vertebrates.

Petromyzontidae: Lampreys

The clade Petromyzontidae includes approximately 35–40 or more species of lampreys. Lampreys are similar to hagfishes in size and shape; however, lampreys possess some vertebral elements. Lampreys lack paired appendages and bone, as do the hagfishes. As adults, lampreys are characterized by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth. Many species have a parasitic stage of their life cycle during which they are ectoparasites of fishes (Figure 2).

Lampreys live primarily in coastal and fresh waters, and have a worldwide distribution, except for in the tropics and polar regions. Some species are marine, but all species spawn in fresh water. Eggs are fertilized externally, and the larvae distinctly differ from the adult form, spending 3 to 15 years as suspension feeders. Once they attain sexual maturity, the adults reproduce and die within days.

Lampreys possess a notochord as adults; however, this notochord is surrounded by a cartilaginous structure called an arcualia, which may resemble an evolutionarily early form of the vertebral column.


Lamprey

Lampreys / ˈ l æ m p r i z / (sometimes inaccurately called lamprey eels) are an ancient extant lineage of jawless fish of the order Petromyzontiformes / ˌ p ɛ t r oʊ m ɪ ˈ z ɒ n t ɪ f ɔːr m iː z / , placed in the superclass Cyclostomata. The adult lamprey may be characterized by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth. The common name "lamprey" is probably derived from Latin lampetra, which may mean "stone licker" (lambere "to lick" + petra "stone"), though the etymology is uncertain. [3] The plural form lamprey is sometimes seen. [4]

There are about 38 known extant species of lampreys and five known extinct species. [5] Parasitic carnivorous species are the most well-known, and feed by boring into the flesh of other fish to suck their blood [6] but only 18 species of lampreys engage in this micropredatory lifestyle. [7] [8] Of the 18 carnivorous species, nine migrate from saltwater to freshwater to breed (some of them also have freshwater populations), and nine live exclusively in freshwater. All non-carnivorous forms are freshwater species. [9] Adults of the non-carnivorous species do not feed they live off reserves acquired as ammocoetes (larvae), which they obtain through filter feeding.


Thread: Official Thief 4 Timeline (Confirm?)

Apparently this is the official timeline for Thief 4:

This could potentially go into spoilers, but essentially. the Garrett in Thief 4 is not the Garrett we know at all.

Anyone want to confirm this? Apparently you find old Garrett's mechanical eye in the asylum level of Thief 4, and there are paintings of Karras everywhere.

I really hope that this is true. God I am so fickle.

I actually quite like the idea that there are shadows of the terrible events that almost happened in the past (TMA, TDP) being repeated and now yet another thief steps forward/is drawn in to eventually save the day (and for some reason, also happens to be called Garrett. I have not played the game, but perhaps this Erin lass could be a bit of a Deus Ex machina who has been subtley guiding nuGarrett ala keepers. or actually, like a Istari (read on ).

I love the idea that nuThief it does not trash the history of the original - perhaps the final glyth [TDS] had such an effect that the city was finally allowed to grow free from keeper influnces. but now the old powers are beginning to reassert themselves under yet another guise. It will be interesting to see if things can be alligned to the orderchoas, controlfreedom, technology ature axises from the orginial.

I remember a brilliant thread back in the early days about how the thief universe could be potentially tied way back into Lord of the Ring mythology - the idea being that TDP, TMA and TDS were like the 6th, 7th or 8th Age of middle earth. The Silmarils were still kicking around in the way that elements were so magical, or possibly it was the Silmarils or the rings of power that had become part of things like the eye and the crown. I am now keen to play the game to see if I can fit this theory into the new game. Like in the hobbit, it is a thief that is the key to the events to come.

If it did appear to be consistant (at least to the level normally demanded from fan theories) then I would be happy with that - it hints at deeper and darker motivations (which is totally in line with the orginial thief) and is a better attempt at a "reboot" than Leonard Nimoy turning up to tell us all that we are in a different universe, like, totally, and ALTERNATIVE TIME LINE dudes. [Let's face it, fans of star trek are never going to really let go of the original timeline - and I would expect the 3rd star trek file, or maybe the 4th, or a spin of tv series to reunite the two timelines.].

These are the related letters and documents in the Asylum. This is an elaborate easter egg and nod back to the old game. Two letters are clues that lead you to the location of the Mechanical Eye.

This leads you to a couple of "Ancient Ingots" the same loot you find in the old Keeper Library, and other areas that are considered older parts of the city. Plus the reference to the strange mechanical clicking.

The next letter in this series from this patient is Treasure in vents just above the Old Prison

Let us not forget, however, that the care of the mentally ill comes with a price. We must pay it with our care, with our patience, and with our blood. For it is of our blood that these poor creatures come, and it is to us that they owe their peculiar sentiments.

Take, for example, the master Sneak Thief so attributed to these times of woe. He is a man sorely tempted by that which, to him, does not belong -- a misplacement of desire, to see the world in an order which it must not deviate from.

Which talks about the Sneak thief who is apparently the cause of the 'times of woe' (a reference to the Dark Age?), and his psychological profile.

Then one of the ghosts says

Then the note on the eye itself which links back it the description made by the inmate

Finally for finding all the Sneak Thief's caches and the Mechanical Eye you get this achievement at least in the Steam version

In addition, the Moira connection is a continuation of sorts from her position in Thief: Deadly Shadows. Where you have the option of 'stealing her inheritance' and must do it on expert. Which causes her to be angry at you, and even wanting to take revenge. You find out that the Asylum look at the statue in the front which says it was founded by "Edwina Moira" and the date it was founded. Because she wanted to treat people with various ailments (the Sneak Thief is used as one example of the type of individuals she wanted to treat).

There is also some interesting references to Moira being alive during the Baron Bresling dynasty (this is made more clear in the Thief Companion App if you have access to it). More fun bits is that that you hear the ghost of a maid tasked to bring Edwina her wine, and also the ghost of Ediwina attacks you when you try to enter a certain room, and basically paraphrases some of the things she said in Thief: Deadly Shadows.

Ya, another mission does touch on the possibility of time travel, Project Pendulum. But doesn't necessarily have any importance on this particular level.

Also its interesting to note that the Thief Companion App also includes quite a bit more explanation on the fall of the Hammerites, Keepers, and Pagans. Why Trickster and Builder (it mentions them) are not followed anymore in the present. Thanks to the Northcrests over the last 300-400 years.

Also interesting nod is the mention of why there are so many layers of 'hidden city' in that the city has been hit by cataclysms multiple times, that have more or less wiped the previous city off the map, changed the dynasty, and a new city rebuilt on top of the last. Previous dynasties included House Black, House Flevanter, House Eydark, House Bresling, House Marlham, and in recent times House Northcrest. Also its explained that much of the current city was built in the last 15-20 years or so by the current Baron, Elias Northcrest and his architect Theodore Eastwick.


Also the model for the mechanical eye appears to be based on this

The City stretches across a large island and the surrounding coastline, and is connected by a number of bridges. It is an autonomous city-state comprised of six districts: Stonemarket, South Quarter, Dayport, Cinderfall, Auldale and Old Town. There is a large port and docks area to the south of the main island which drives a large part of the economy.

The City was once a maritime power and has been the stage for many conflicts and wars through time, both civil and otherwise. Its merchant fleet dominated the South Seas for many years, but its power has now waned considerably.

The City is sometimes referred to as the Eternal City for, despite disasters, wars and burning riots, it always seems to rise again from the ruins with each iteration built upon the bones of the last. This has created a massive network of subterranean passages, rooms and anti-chambers known as the hidden city. The deeper one ventures the further back in history one goes.

Over time the origin of The City has been a popular source of conversation and gossip in the streets and alehouses. Theories of The City having been built by the old gods, formed with magical forces and mysterious energies and secretly controlled by a powerful hidden sect have all been beliefs at one time or another.

No matter what, the citizens believe that The City is special, to some a nightmare, to others a dream.

While there appear to be no surviving historical records that deal directly with the earliest origins of The City, the available evidence has led several scholars to agree that the founders came from across the South Seas. The First Landing Marker in the city’s docks is where they supposedly landed to colonize the area. It is believed that the initial goal of the small colony was to simply create a trading outpost. Whatever the goal, the colonist quickly realized the richness of the surrounding lands. It provided them with good agriculture and a variety of natural resources. The small outpost quickly became a large trading city.

Eras passed as subsequent lords, leaders and kings imposed various political and ruling systems from monarchy to feudalism to theocracy and even merchant conglomerates. It wasn't until Lord Laurence of House Black, second of his generation, first took the Baron's Chair, reset the calendar and ushered in the age of Barons, that things began to stabilize. For over 800 years since that time, The City has been led by a ruling Baron taken from one of the Great Family Houses.

Over time historical accounts have spoken of city-wide catastrophes and terrible periods of total destruction that appear to have wiped The City from the map but remarkably it has always risen from the ruins to be reborn stronger than ever. More often than not, this bizarre cycle of destruction would spell the end of the ruling House and pave the way for change as The City recovered.

The most recent disaster to befall The City was a massive storm over 200 years ago that saw the end of the rule of House Marlham. There were huge landslides and a large part of The City collapsed. Since that time House Northcrest took power over the weakened House Marlham and brought sweeping changes. The latest generations have begun attacking religious beliefs and imposing a ruthless drive for industry and technical progress.

Under the rule of Baron Elias Northcrest, this change has had some major impacts on different aspects of the city. The modernization process has introduced social change and economic development. This is evident by the large pipelines leading from factories crossing every district and large smokestacks spewing black smoke in the air from the Baron’s prize factory in Cinderfall.

The industrialization hasn’t been good for everyone, and many below the rich waterline have struggled with the Baron's relentless vision of the future with cheap labor and faster production methods. This has been further compounded by the Baron’s disbanding of the guild system in the city and the forming of the Baron’s Council – a semi-oligarchy of wealthy land owners, businessmen and loyal supports of the Baron.

Things became even worse when the city-wide sickness known as the gloom began to sweep through the streets leading to the eventual lockdown and dysfunction within the city's already pressured infrastructure.

There is no mainstream religion in the City in present times. With more than a century of pressure from the ruling Northcrest line, worship of the old gods has been heavily suppressed.

The Northcrest family learned early that directly forbidding the populace to worship their old gods was a bad strategy. After a first attempt that led to Isaiah Northcrest being assassinated as he took the chair, they have since changed tack.

Subsequently, through systematic propaganda, institutionalization and preaching the way forward through industrial and technological advancements, the people have lost focus on the past ways and names such as the Builder and the Trickster have passed into old language with little emphasis on the modern. For many, the old gods have begun to pass into legend and superstition.

Although small pockets of die-hard believers still practice quietly out of sight, the populace has, to the larger degree, given up on the old gods helping them and turned to the Baron and his promise of a brighter and better future.

The Nobles (Great Families Houses)

The full list of Great Family Houses in recorded history since the change of the calendar are: House Black (fallen), House Eydark, House Sterling, House Flevanter, House Bresling (fallen), House Castinet (fallen), House Marlham and House Northcrest. Although eight families are listed only five still remain in current times.

The competition to rule The City is always fierce although surprisingly, the ruling period of a Family House can extend for hundreds of years in most cases. The few families who have ruled the chair to date include House Black, House Flevanter, House Eydark, House Bresling, House Marlham and House Northcrest.

The Upper Class (Rich Bourgeoisie)

This class is on the rise and resides mainly in the richer district of Dayport. It mainly comes from the middle and merchant classes whose status or power comes from employment, education and wealth which distinguishes itself from those who are born into an aristocratic family. They are called “new money” by the nobility. They follow and support the Baron without question and help oppress the middle and lower class.

This social class includes highly skilled workers, craftsmen, merchants, shop owners, scholars, military, etc. This class has been hurt by the disbanding of the city guilds, which represented the interests of specific businesses and industries (bakers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, etc.)

This social class has the highest population out of all the other classes. This class includes the homeless, the peasants, struggling merchants and the new laborer (also known as the urban peasant). Although the gloom does not differentiate between class, the lower classes have fewer means to curtail or slow it (such as access to opium). These are also among the first people to join The Graven Dawn.

The Primal is a fundamental form of energy as old as the Thief universe itself but its origin, substance and purpose remain unproven. Be it power, natural order, the magic of the gods or spirituality, those who profess to know are deeply split between their persepectives.

Primal is everywhere but cannot be directly sensed by most people. Certain members of humanity insist they can feel or 'see' it and thus can understand and use it.

Post-game: the Scientific Perspective

The Baron’s approach to the Primal in the game is a scientific one. He believes it to be a phenomenal, and dangerous, source of power.

The Baron’s family has been digging deep into Primal research for at least the last 3 generations. Elias Northcrest’s grandfather started the ball rolling although previous Barons have known of its existence due to their supposed ability to sense it directly.

Elias, after having formed the secret society known as the Awakened, worked out a way to truly command the Primal as a pure energy source with the discovery of an ancient tome discovered below the city.

More than a mere book, the actual frame and protective casing acted as a conduit that could directly affect the Primal energy and agitate it into what the Baron would describe as a 'raw and usable state'.

The ring needed to open the book was also the actual trigger mechanism that allowed the book's 'frame' to function in this way as a completed circuit.

In its raw state, Primal is dangerous but vulnerable to manipulation. Normally found in and below the earth, the Primal looks for a natural balance when agitated. The only element discovered to attract the raw Primal in this way was something the Awakened called the Primal Stone. Once the energy was contained in this stone it would very slowly radiate power which Northcrest realized he could use as an intense form of long-term fuel for his city.

The only drawback is that raw Primal causes serious health issues if exposed to people. In addition to mental problems the body becomes sick and begins to degenerate with painful deformation to the skeletal structure and internal organs.

To overcome this problem, Baron Northcrest asked his architect Eastwick to change the internal structure of the Keep installing the huge protective strongbox at the very top in which the Primal stone would be housed 'safely' away from the populace.

Post-game: the Spiritual Perspective

On the flip side of the Primal coin, there is an equally large portion of its existence and purpose that is purely spiritual that falls under no scientific understanding whatsoever. This is when the Primal is viewed as the thing that holds everything together, the general mojo of life, 'universal glue'.

From this very spiritual approach the Primal helps us to try and understand who we are, where we came from and where we’re going. Primal needs to be balanced and thus represents the duality of life.

Who and what we are all of humanity’s memories and dreams, triumphs and tragedies are said to be contained within the Primal like a primordial tapestry. If those memories are unravelled or released from the Primal the person ceases to have ever been, losing their humanity and becoming horribly twisted in both mind and body.

Other fun bits? In Chapter 7, the The Old Cathedral is the location of the old Haunted Cathedral in Old Quarter now in ruins. It is filled with Hammerite iconography.

Also in the same level about 7 layers down through The Pit under the Cathedral is the City Artifact, a keystone of the City with another Hammerite symbol. Below it are many more layers, which pass through some Catacombs, below that another city, "Old City" where a The Rotunda can be found, athe area looks like something out of either Lost City or Sunken Citadel in architectural style or a mix of both.

In the House of Blossoms/Keeper Level, which are the ruins of the Keeper Compound and Library after several hundred years of ruin, you can find a ring, that mentions St. Edgar, and how he was fundamental in designing the city, and his work can be seen in every arch and work.

Carlysle Court is in about the same place as Castle Carlysle in Thief 2. The Keep is in about the same area as Angelwatch. Also note towards the beginning of the same level, you can spot a Bell Tower off to one side similar to the starting location in Thief 2. The level is more than a little nod to Life of the Party.

The Crippled Burrick name plate acknowledges that it was moved from one part of the city (a reference to Wayside) to its current location during one of the City's many cataclysms. You can spot a mention of Wayside Dock District specifically if you read the labels of the bottles of Markham's Rum! Cragscleft, Shalebridge, Eastport, and many other locations you don't get to visit get shout outs, if you listen or read everything!

Bohn, Blackbrook, Cyric, Throvia, and Illyria all get mentioned in various places.

It's a shame that to fully understand the story you have to rely on the Companion app. It explains Aldous motives better than the game does even.

It does appear to be the power behind the glyphs. You get to see some glyphs in the game down in the old Keeper library ruins and they are activated by Primal. Mostly glyphs appear to be dead though. There is a glyph key though that is able to read old glyph carvings and unlock some secrets.

Also the bonus focus points glyphs have the keeper key and lock symbol on them.

So it seems keepers were controlling primal. But not trying to abuse it. They tried to make sure it was in Balance.

The gloom appears to largely be a sickness of the mind with physical side-effects and was not greatly understood by early medical observers. In addition to general loss of physical health, victims are afflicted with melancholia, manic-depression and ultimately suicidal tendencies fuelled by internalized voices and visions in the head.

On the basis of people's fervent desire to find a cure for the gloom, countless examples of charlatans and tricksters flooded the black market with their own cures in bottles and philters of every shape and size. The only official attempt at a cure came via Doctor Troy, possibly the most well-known physician within The City.

With his upstanding reputation, Troy's research into a cure for the gloom reportedly delivered a believable remedy but the truth of this was ultimately challenged when Troy seemed unable to produce a working sample for actual use.

Below is a text compiled by Troy & Co. from his research:

Observed symptoms and expected prognosis

- Onset of chronic depression general fatigue loss of appetite lack of self-esteem headaches and general symptoms of cold or flu (coughing, sneezing) possibly due to a lowering of the immune system.
- Extreme withdrawal loss of social function depression considered at a clinical level all appetite gone physical wasting begins coughing becomes painful.
- Depression elevates to manic psychological deviations manifest imagined voices and sounds experienced without cause extreme nightmares when trying to sleep.
- Severe body pain terrible headaches psychological disorder reaching insanity levels imagined voices are considered unbearable sleep not possible visions of extreme negative nature while awake suicidal tendencies manifest.
- Subjects will push objects into their ears to stop the voices or push in their eyes with their thumbs to make the visions go away most take their own lives to end the trauma.
- Majority of subjects commit suicide before death occurs by malnutrition, lack of sleep, malfunctioning biological process and/or organ failure.

It was found that the gloom could be slowed by ingesting opium, distracting the user perhaps and delaying symptomatic depression. As a cure this proved expensive and not easily accessible to everyone. Opium dens such as the House of Blossoms became much more popular than normal within rich circles. The general supply of opium powder and poppy milk (a liquid form) quickly became a lucrative black market trade.

Political effect of the gloom

Fear of the gloom led to sanctions being placed on certain goods/imports. These were largely fallacies devised by the Baron and his cohorts to serve their own business ends. The gloom was treated as if it was something akin to the plague, and although the deaths were real, the sickness was more supernatural. Therefore none of the measures put in place had any discernible impact and were eventually dropped.

Post-game: the unreal cause of the gloom?

On some level it appears that the Primal interacts and has an effect on the psyche of the people who live in and around its influence although how this works exactly remains a mystery to practically everyone.

When Erin fell into the ritual at Northcrest Manor the mysterious energy known as the Primal somehow merged with her mind essentially fusing The City with her emotions and memories.

As long as Erin was sedated with poppy milk, the influence on the Primal was hard to discern. But as the opium trade began to waver, Erin began to temporarily regain consciousness and a subsequent wave of negativity and anger swept through the people of The City.

These negative feelings eventually grew worse and worse as Erin continued to destabilize amidst the already angry and mistreated population. People began to see and hear more and more terrible things in their own minds which ultimately led them to being overwhelmed with feelings of manic-depression and a desire to end it all.

Through this, the gloom also took the nickname of the Suicide Sickness.

At Northcrest Manor in a cold, stone wine cellar, Harland Northcrest, 9th Baron of his family line, lay with the personal handmaiden of his wife, Naomi.

It was the spring of 781. Some 9 months later, the handmaiden gave birth to a boy who she named Aldous, illegitimate heir to the seat of House Northcrest.

The handmaiden’s name was Elspeth Hucks. Her life had taken an upturn when she had earlier landed the lucrative position at Northcrest Manor but after the grunting show of drunken and thoughtless ardor at the hands of Harland Northcrest that fateful night, the growing belly and vicious rumors that began to swirl in court soon led to her blunt dismissal.

For a while, Harland suffered noticeable damage to the reputation of House Northcrest within the City and it became an embarrassment for several years after. Harland’s son, Elias, even as a young man and ultimate heir to the seat was especially mortified that his future as leader of the City seemed bound to start as the son of Harland and his uncontrollable libido.

With the dismissal of Elspeth, baby Aldous left House Northcrest with her and grew up on the streets of the City. His mother did not hide his heritage from her son and did not spare him any of her bitterness at the treatment she received at the hand of his father.

Aldous’ bitterness grew in kind as he watched his half-brother, Elias, take the seat and control of the City. He was a very strict leader and suffered no wanton behaviour or debauchery, a large motivation for this from his private embarrassment of his father’s actions. He appeared to be somewhat dispassionate to the people but many interesting and beneficial inventions soon began to be seen around the City and the people warmed to his leadership if not in love with the man.

After the death of his mother on the cusp of poverty, Aldous’ resentment, focussed on Elias, became a silent but incredibly hot fire that burned deep within his gut. Aldous eventually took work as a helper in a struggling hospice in Stonemarket and life continued.

When Baron Elias Northcrest realized he needed people who were attuned, people who had a natural connection and ability to sense and work with Primal energy, he began to wonder about his brother’s whereabouts. The Northcrest’s had an inherited ability to be attuned to the Primal and Elias had even formed a secret society known as the Awakened with him as the head of the organization.

Now he needed more people to help him with the ritual that would turn the Primal into usable energy. In addition to a small handful of specials, the only other person he knew of that had the raw capabilities was his half-brother, Aldous.

He sent some of his private entourage into the City and Aldous was located and approached. At first, Aldous was outraged and wouldn’t acknowledge his visitors intentions with a polite response. Yet eventually his mind began to change.

Better to be close to his snake of a brother than far. Aldous could do nothing to bleed his deeply private jealousy whilst scraping a living together helping people on the streets. He swallowed his pride, pretended that the past was the past and joined with his brother, entering the Awakened and aiding Elias with his grand plans for a future of progress and industry.

Secretly, Aldous saw himself as more of a natural Northcrest leader than Elias was. Although a half-blood, Aldous’ love of the people but lack of power to do anything that made them revere him like his brother, ate away at his soul. He was constantly looking for ways in which he felt his brother was failing or weak or misguided or close to error so that he could widen the wound and show Elias to be flawed.

The master plan to convert the Primal and store it in the Primal Stone was the crack that Aldous saw as his chance. The research and development of the ritual process had highlighted that it represented more than moderate risk to manipulate too much energy at the same time yet Elias was belligerent in his desire to pull as much as he could grasp out of the air and the earth.

Aldous consistently gave his conflicting argument that his brother was going too far and that bad things could come about. Elias refused to court his opinion and the ritual went ahead.

When the accident occurred, Aldous’ fears were realized. The positive side of all this was that he now had the leverage he needed to attack his brother from a righteous angle that would suitably disguise his deep psychological jealous hatred of his sibling.

He threatened to expose Elias’ entire plan and his obvious disregard for the safety of the people and their future over the mechanics and logistical utopia of his industrial future. Whether this would have worked on the people or not, Elias was furious with his brother’s apparent betrayal. Although his ulterior motives were darker than a pure desire to see his brother under the roof of House Northcrest once again, Elias was aghast that Aldous would turn on him this way. The Baron ordered that Aldous be privately taken, muzzled and incarcerated in Moira Asylum off the island, never to be seen from or heard of again.

With this penalty imposed, Aldous was horrified that Elias would betray him in kind in such a heartless fashion. Each half-brother remained equally inflamed at the other’s actions.

Aldous sat in Moira Asylum and rotted inside as his bitterness and feelings of betrayal grew wild and all-consuming like a cancer within his core. He would shout and implore with other prisoners or the guards as they walked past that he was the true heir to the Baron’s seat. He was a Northcrest and always would be. They, of course, judged him mad and gave him no heed. In this environment, Aldous grew quietly sick inside his mind and consumed with hatred.

While incarcerated, some prisoners did listen to Aldous’ intense and passionate speeches to any who would listen. A naturally charismatic man, his fervour grew upon these few prisoners who began to believe him and became bonded with the man. Characters such as Jacob and Sally were with him from the beginning as he sat rotting with them in the lowest levels of the asylum dungeons in Moira.

Aldous would also watch Erin being wheeled past his cell every day as she was taken to be experimented on by the Baron and his doctors. He also witnessed an even stranger event. Many of the prisoners in the cells on this level began to exhibit extreme levels of aggressive madness and their bodies began to twist over time.

Eventually, these prisoners literally began to lose their humanity and became more monsters than men. Their strength was inhuman as was their demeanour and the noises that rolled from their throats. It became difficult for the guards to keep them subdued and eventually several broke out and began causing chaos.

In this madness, a riot ensued as Aldous took advantage and broke out of prison with his faithful. He made his way to Erin’s cell and took her with him using her ability to twist and deform the very architecture itself in a bid for freedom.

Why did Aldous himself not become a freakish monstrosity? Around Aldous’ neck hung the small piece of Primal stone he had taken that fateful night of the accident. The stone was routing most of the corrupting nature of the Primal and protecting Aldous from a full transformation. Inside his mind, however, regardless of how well-spoken he could be, the man’s mind was a twisted mess.

Aldous’ faithful also sidestepped this freakish destiny by their close proximity to their new leader although their passion and madness were certainly magnified by their exposure to the Primal that was emanating from Erin as she sat in their midst, heavily drugged on opiates, day after day.

Aldous and faithful took to the back alleys and went into hiding with Erin. Aldous understood how preciously important Erin was to his brother. His desire to take her from Moira was more out of a desire to anger and damage his brother’s dreams than kindness towards the girl.

For a short time, Aldous implored the less fortunate of the City to understand his position. He no longer spoke of himself as the true heir to the Baron’s seat. No, he now felt that he was on the other side of this coin. He didn’t want the Baron’s chair anymore. He wanted people to revere and love him, yes, but most of all he wanted to see the fall of his despised brother. If the people began to hate Elias then Aldous would have everything he wanted the collapse of his precious sibling and the need of the citizens to boot.

To protect his original identity he began referring to himself as Orion and positioned himself politically as the voice of the oppressed in opposition to the heartless Iron Leader.

His new connection to the underground quickly led to news of a strange, underground space, a hidden city of sorts where Orion and those faithful to him could exist without prosecution. This space below the cathedral became a haven against the Baron’s Watch and their persecution.

Orion remained behind the dark walls and closed doors of the City, giving rousing and dramatic speeches that appealed to the hearts of the lower and working classes while his political activists such as Jacob and Sally took the message more aggressively to the public streets to try and appropriate civilian interest in their cause. Over time in this manner, the numbers of faithful began to swell as the Baron’s inability to install his form of energy for the future continued with failed experiment after failed experiment.

At the back of his mind, Orion could feel his plan had an element of success but controlling the will of the people was an almost impossible task unless he could do something that extended beyond political rhetoric, an act that would show his actions were as potent as his words. He had two very different ways to do this in his mind.

The first was a promise of passive salvation, a premise whereby the oppressed would leave the City and create a better world for themselves. To this end and to give his faithful a sense of purpose in the earlier days, he instructed them to start building a large ship that would enable hundreds of people to leave the island en masse under the cover of riots and a last angry message to his cursed brother.

The second was most intriguing to him but much more difficult to realize. If Orion could find a cure to the terrible sickness that had gripped the city’s throat, the gloom, then the people would naturally turn to him as a saviour and leave Elias and his industry in the dust. But how to cure the gloom?

He turned once again to his peripheral knowledge of the Primal from his time spent with Elias regarding the ritual process and the ancient writings they had explored from an ancient book that the Awakened had unearthed.

This book had spoken of the Primal as if it possessed restorative or curative properties. The message had been unclear but Orion became convinced that with the original information from this book, now lost to humanity since the accident, he would discover a cure to the gloom and have the people looking to him for salvation, not Elias. The only problem being that the book was destroyed. Orion put out a message to the black market that he needed the information from this book a written copy, anything.

Orion also knew well from his time with the Awakened that he needed the special ring that would open it. The last person he had seen with the ring was Cornelius at the ritual, the old aristocrat entrusted with it by the Baron himself.

Orion had sent someone to Cornelius’ place in Dayport to take it but his man had been nearly apprehended and the report had come back that Cornelius had recently died. Because of panicky fears that his demise was the gloom, his body had been quickly carried from Dayport and given over to the Watch’s newly formed unit that was disposing of the many dead piling up on the streets.

To add spice to the situation, a very interesting rumour had made its way back to Orion in the meantime that the ‘information’ he had requested might actually be available. Orion hardly dared believe it and probed further.

So now Orion had a dilemma. He needed the ring from Cornelius and the body was in the middle of the old factory being processed with the rest of the dead. He had no man skilled enough to go in and take it so he approached the underworld once more and was introduced to a gentleman by the name of Basso.

The shady but talented fence seemed to take a liking to the charismatic Orion and his straight-talking about the Baron and his oppressive guard squeezing the common man. Orion had Basso promise to find him the best man he could find and Basso left with the message that he would come back to Orion before the end of the week with a solution.

The good news dropped several days later. Orion had found someone, better than the best apparently and Basso was confident that the ring would be delivered as requested.

Orion was very pleased to hear this and became even more so when he heard another rumour from his underground contacts. Not only was it rumoured that a copy of the information existed from the original book but an actual copy of the book itself could be found somewhere within the mysterious confines of the House of Blossoms.

Orion was astounded at his good luck but was far from done. When the ring was delivered as promised he urged Basso to let him meet this remarkable thief, Garrett.

Garrett went on to locate and steal the book from the House of Blossoms and Orion read it voraciously, trying to decipher the ancient scripts inside to find what he needed. It wasn’t long before he happened upon the part he remembered. Following half-understood steps he realized that he could connect with the Primal directly using the piece of the Primal Stone he had and the actual blood of Erin as the conduit.

His experimentation on himself and his most faithful was electrifying. All experienced a huge rush of euphoria and a sensation of immortality, of great strength and a scouring of all fatigue and sickness. Orion’s twisting mind knew this for the salvation the people had been looking for. This was it. No longer political speeches, the cure was here and he had it.

The message raged through the streets. Orion had the cure and the people turned their desperate ears towards this potential life-saving call. In just a few days the Graven faithful swelled in numbers as hopeful civilians grouped behind his voice and message.

Orion’s instruction was clear. He couldn’t cure the people while he remained trapped underground and unable to publicly walk the streets. The people needed to pull the baron from the seat of power. When that had happened, the curing could begin. The people rose to the call determined to kill the Baron and free the way for Orion and his cure.


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