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Those who slither in the dark
Those who slither in the dark (Japanese: 闇に蠢く者 those who wriggle in the dark) are a hidden organization operating throughout Fódlan. They are the remnants of an ancient civilization known as Agartha (Japanese: アガルタ Agartha).
Agartha was an ancient civilization who Sothis and the Children of the Goddess, also known as the Nabateans, shared their knowledge with, which allowed their people to create highly advanced technology and architecture. Over time, the Agarthans started to fight against themselves and bringing destruction across Fódlan, all while wishing to overthrow their Nabatean rulers. According to a text located in Abyss—heavily implied to have been written by an Agarthan—it is also revealed they feared Sothis would retaliate against them due to their penchant for carnage. All of these factors led the Agarthans to create "pillars of light", giant ballistic missiles powered by magic, which they employed to wage war against Sothis and her kin in an attempt to impose their hegemony, a battle they ultimately lost and resulted in the extinction of most of their civilization by the hands of Sothis in an phenomenon described as a flood called "Despair". This forced the remaining survivors to hide underground alongside any remains of technology available. The Agarthans soon created their current base of operations, Shambhala, and plotted their revenge against Sothis and the Children of the Goddess for having caused their destruction and had taken from them what they believed was their right of ruling the surface world.
It is speculated by Rhea and Seteth that sometime after this, they allied themselves with a thief called Nemesis, whom they leaded to the Holy Tomb where Sothis rested after her battle with the Agarthans, and had him harvest her remains in order for them to create the Sword of the Creator and obtain the Crest of Flames, which he later used in Zanado to slaughter more Nabateans in order to obtain more power by collecting more material for the Agarthans to forge into weapons, named as the Heroes' Relics, which he later shared with his allies. After his death at the hands of Seiros, one of the Children of the Goddess who survived Nemesis' slaughter of Zanado, the Four Saints (also Children of the Goddess) and the Adrestian Empire in Imperial Year 91. "Those who slither in the dark" then recovered Nemesis' corpse and hid underground once more.
Many years later, they attempted to destroy Garreg Mach Monastery with another pillar of light, which the humans from the surface referred to as a "javelin of light". Unbeknownst to them, the Holy Tomb had a jamming spell placed by Sothis, which redirected their weapon into a village named Ailell, consuming it in flames. This created what it is known as the Valley of Torment, a place bathed eternally in lava the commonfolk believe it was born as a product of the goddess punishing the sinners who resided in that village. In a burnt report located in Abyss, it's speculated "those who slither in the dark" were involved with with the creation of the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus by aiding Loog's rebellion, providing him weapons, soldiers and possibly also his strategist, Pan. Loog's rebellion was eventually quelled thanks to his victory over the Adrestian Empire in 751, leading the Church of Seiros to mediate between both sides and granting Faerghus its independence under the condition the Seiros' faith would be the kingdom's main religion. "Those who slither in the dark" then vanished once more.
Over time, the Agarthan descendants made their way into the surface during the next twelve centuries, slowly replacing and impersonating key people with their own agents, such as Faerghus' Court mage Cornelia, Garreg Mach's Librarian Tomas and Adrestia's Regent Volkhard von Arundel. This led to the group capitalizing on both the Tragedy of Duscur, acting as instigators of the conflict, and the Insurrection of the Seven, infiltrating the Adrestian Emperor Ionius IX's repression of the Hrym territory so they could perform test runs of "blood reconstruction surgeries" in the scions of House Ordelia with the purpose of infusing crests into humans, and allying with Adrestia's Prime Minister Ludwig von Aegir in order to secure access to the Hresvelg line of heirs, all for the purpose of securing a manipulable vessel they would bestow the Crest of Flames, which would become in their eyes their ultimate weapon against the Children of the Goddess and those who worship them. Sometime around 1175-1180, the only surviving Hresvelg scion, Edelgard von Hresvelg, allied with the group with the intention of using their resources and troops to take down the Church of Seiros and unify Fódlan for her own separate reasons, while the Agarthan descendants from their part supported her by providing some of their soldiers and weapons. In spite of this alliance however, Edelgard planned to dispose them once she had achieved her goals, in revenge for having destroyed the lives of her family and her siblings, as well for their involvement in the Tragedy of Duscur. Her retainer Hubert, future head of House Vestra, also began researching the group during this period in order to facilitate their eventual destruction for his future emperor, and it was in the course of this process that he began using the nickname the Agarthans are more identified as during the story: "those who slither in the dark".
In 1180, "those who slither in the dark" along with the Flame Emperor Army, led by Edelgard under the identity of the Flame Emperor, collaborated with the Western Church in an attempt to recover Seiros' bones from the Holy Mausoleum in Garreg Mach Monastery, only to discover the coffin supposedly carrying the Saint's remains actually held the Sword of the Creator. The weapon was taken away by Byleth, who awakened its full power in spite of the sword lacking a visible Crest Stone. Thales, the current leader of the Agarthans, upon hearing this information from his co-worker, reached the conclusion Byleth must likely has Sothis' Crest Stone somewhere inside his body. Thus, with the assistance of the Death Knight, Edelgard's lieutenant, he kidnaps Flayn and has her blood extracted with the intention of creating Artificial Crest Stones. During Byleth's rescue of Flayn, the Death Knight also plants the Agarthan assassin Kronya near the Nabatean under the identity of a missing student named Monica, sneaking her into the Monastery once he is forced to retreat by the Flame Emperor. Some time later, the Agarthan dark bishop Solon, under the identity of Tomas, travels to Remire Village and creates a plague which infects its inhabitants and makes them violent and bloodthirsty. Byleth along with their father Jeralt, are alerted of the situation and attempt to save as many villagers as possible. During this event, Solon reveals his true appearance while taunting his foes and recognizing Byleth as the reincarnation of Sothis, and after he is defeated, declares the whole experiment a success and warps away. One month later, Kronya proceeds to lure students into an abandoned chapel in the monastery, where they're experimented upon and eventually turned into Experimental Demonic Beasts. As Jeralt and Byleth show up into the scene to slay the monsters and save the students, Kronya sneaks in under her Monica disguise and fatally stabs Jeralt once he lowers his guard. Seeing this, Byleth activates their Divine Pulse to go back in time and slay Kronya before it's too late, only for his attack to be intercepted by Thales himself, who quickly grabs his underling before teleporting away. Days later, Thales, Kronya and the Flame Emperor have a secret meeting in the monastery, where the leader of the group orders Kronya to stay with Solon as he still requires her services. Byleth, upon learning their father's killer resides in the Sealed Forest, storms along with his class into the location and confront Kronya under her true identity. She is then quickly defeated and attempts to run away as she stumbles with Solon, begging for his help. Solon obligues and to her surprise, she is ritually sacrificed and has her heart ripped out so the dark bishop can summon the Forbidden Spell of Zaharas, which proceeds to engulf and vanish Byleth into a realm of never-ending darkness. Solon gloats over his victory with Byleth's students, only for their teacher from break from his spell after fusing with Sothis, who had resided in their mind all this time. Solon panics and attempts to vanquish Byleth before they master their new power, only to meet his end. With his last breath, he hopes that Thales will be able to carry out their mission after his absence.
Five Year War and Downfall
When Edelgard declares war on the Church of Seiros, "those who slither in the dark" aid their co-worker during Adrestia's invasion of Garreg Mach, attaining victory over their enemies. On non-Crimson Flower routes, Archbishop Rhea is captured during the fight and jailed in a secret chamber in the Imperial Palace, being kept alive by Edelgard as a bargaining chip against the Agarthans, while Byleth is pushed into the depths of a canyon by a blast of Thales' dark magic as they attempt to save Rhea, going missing for five years.
On the Silver Snow, Azure Moon and Verdant Wind routes, the Agarthan impersonating Cornelia frames up Prince Dimitri for the death of his uncle Rufus and makes the public believe he had been executed while in reality he managed to escape, thanks to his vassal Dedue, from the Kingdom. The territory is soon turned into the Faerghus Dukedom, with many Houses defecting to the Adrestian Empire as "Cornelia" opens the Kingdom's borders. The group also silently supports Edelgard's army by sending some of their troops to key battles, such as the Battle at Gronder (Azure Moon and Verdant Wind), the Resistance's Army/Leicester Alliance's invasion of Enbarr (Silver Snow and Verdant Wind) and during the final battle at the imperial palace.
On the Silver Snow and Verdant Wind routes, the Agarthans launch a "javelin of light" at Fort Merceus as Byleth/Claude's forces attempt to capture it. This is foiled by the Death Knight, who tells Byleth to run away from the place while pointing to the sky, just as the missiles fall and instantly reduce the fort to rubble. After Edelgard's death, it's revealed through a letter left postmortem by Hubert that, thanks to said attack, he calculated the location of "those who slither in the dark"'s headquarters, Shambhala. He also tells the victors to follow the soldier who carried said letter, as they will lead them to the chambers where a weakened Rhea resides. Once Byleth, Rhea and co. arrive at Shambhala, Thales begins to mobilize his forces and activate Titanus and Viksam's as the enemy gets closer to his chambers, where he is at long last fought and defeated. Thales then begins summoning multiple "javelins of light" over Shambhala in one last attempt to obliterate his enemies, causing his own demise in the process. Seeing this, Rhea transforms into The Immaculate One and protects her allies by destroying some of the missiles while taking heavy damage. On the Verdant Wind route, Nemesis and his army are released in a zombified state from Shambhala, seeking to destroy Seiros and all of Fódlan. During this process, the dark bishop Odesse provides supporting troops to Nemesis in order to ensure his victory, an attempt which is foiled thanks to the combined forces of Claude and Byleth, who ultimately slay Nemesis. The Agarthans then go into hiding once again, with Cornelia vanishing to parts unknown after the fall of the Empire.
On the Azure Moon route, after Dimitri finally reawakens his resolve and abandons his desire of revenge, he begins mobilizing the Kingdom army in order to take back Faerghus from Cornelia's clutches. During the ensuing battle, Cornelia is mortally wounded and attempts to break Dimitri's resolve by revealing his stepmother's part in the Tragedy of Duscur right as she dies. In spite of the shocking news, Dimitri continues moving onward just when a letter arrives from Claude, asking his help in Derdriu as being attacked by Lord Arundel, being impersonated by Thales, and his Adrestian troops, due to Edelgard still being fairly weakened after the Battle at Gronder. The Kingdom Army eventually arrives and defeat Arundel's forces. Dimitri takes the chance to ask him the truth about Duscur and his stepmother's involvement it, which he refuses to share as he draws breath and sees a vision of the light he longed for. During the final battle in the Imperial Palace against Hegemon Edelgard, Myson commands some Agarthan forces on her favor, only to be slain and have said soldiers escape from the battle as they see it as a lost cause, vanishing the group once more from the surface world after Edelgard's death.
On the Crimson Flower route, after Byleth's return, Hubert communicates them of their alliance with "those who slither in the dark" and their required assistance for the time being, promising they will be dealt with in due time. After the Leicester Alliance is conquered, it's mentioned Arundel is collecting the Heroes' Relics from the territory, with Edelgard stating it's not yet time to chime him in. In an optional mission in the Sealed Forest, Arundel seeks help as his Agarthan troops are being hunted by renegade Demonic Beasts. After clearing said mission, the group gifts Hubert an Arrow of Indra and Arundel leaves. Hubert speculates the whole ordeal must have been the Agarthan's attempt to showcase their superiority, which he surmises achieved the opposite effect in the end. The Black Eagle Strike Force later performs a surprise attack against the Fort Arianrhod in Faerghus, where Cornelia had been residing and waiting to make her move. Suprised by this development, she collaborates with Rodrigue and the Kingdom army as they fight Edelgard's forces, only to be destroyed alongside them. Arundel soon pays Edelgard a visit and demands an explanation for Cornelia's death, and once she fails to give him a satisfactory answer, he deploys a "javelin of light" at the conquered fort in an attempt to keep her at bay. Right before the final battle against Rhea in Fhirdriad, Arundel visits Edelgard one last time to witness the upcoming battle from afar, proposing that a world ruled by the Empire could be in sight for the foreseeable future. Edelgard turns down the offer as she moves onto fighting and slaying Rhea. After her victory and successful reunification of Fódlan, Edelgard proceeds to fight silently against "those who slither in the dark", and multiple character endings confirm the group was eventually wiped out.
|Leader of "those who slither in the dark".||Three Houses|
Volkhard von Arundel
|Public leader of "those who slither in the dark" behind closed doors. Heavily implied to be Thales in disguise since 1174.||Three Houses|
|High ranking member sent to inflitrate Garreg Mach Monastery in 1179.||Three Houses|
|High ranking member sent to inflitrate Garreg Mach Monastery in 1180.||Three Houses, Heroes|
|High ranking member impersonating the real Cornelia. Sent to infiltrate Faerghus between 1165-1168.||Three Houses|
|High ranking member involved with miscellaneous tasks. Provides reinforcements to Edelgard in the Azure Moon route.||Three Houses|
|High ranking member in charge of summoning Titanus in Shambhala.||Three Houses|
|High ranking member in charge of keeping the Viskam operational in Shambhala.||Three Houses|
|High ranking member in charge of guarding Shambhala's center room.||Three Houses|
|High ranking member who provides reinforcements to Nemesis in the Verdant Wind route.||Three Houses|
- All high ranking members have names of Greek origin; six of them are named after the Seven Sages of Greece, while Kronya is either likely named after a Greek festival or the nymph Clonia. Likewise, all of them have Agarthan Technology as their personal abilities.
- Character data reveals there was meant to be one more member called Cleobulus, who was cut from the final release for unknown reasons.
- All soldiers regarded as Agarthans have white pale skin on their 3D models.
Etymology and other languages
|Names, etymology and in other regions|
|Language||Name||Definition, etymology and notes|
|English||• "Those who slither in the dark"
|Agartha is a legendary kingdom said to have been located in the Earth's core.|
|• Those who wriggle/squirm (i.e. move like a worm) in the dark|
- "Kusakihara: In that world, originally the race that could change into dragons, the so called citizens of Nabatea, were scattered about Fódlan in the different places/lands as governors (rulers) but, there were the citizens of Agartha who held hatred against the citizens of Nabatea… in other words, Those Who Slither in the Dark wanted to overturn this state of affairs (of the Nabateans as rulers) and as such, they devised schemes." — Nintendo Dream May 2020 Issue, translated by Serenes Forest, Published: March 21, 2020, Retrieved: March 25, 2020
- "In the land of Thinis, where the old gods are said to live, the False God has awakened. (...) It will bring extinction to all children of men, and salvation to all beasts of the land, sky and sea. For the children of men who spilled too much of the blood of life, it promises only cruel retribution." — Romance of the World's Perdition in the Shadow Library of Abyss, Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- "Yet even still, the False God stands. And soon, a flood apty named Despair will drown this world. The children of men fled to the depths of the earth, beyond the sight of the False God, beyond the embrace of the sacred sun, and beyond the reach of the waters called Despair." — Romance of the World's Perdition in the Shadow Library of Abyss, Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- "Kusakihara: (...) They granted humans the technology to make powerful weapons from the corpses of the citizens of Nabatea, or so was their plan that they enacted, to which they went forward with this plan using the human, Nemesis. As a result, what would happen to humans who gained power… they would want even more power, and find a dragon much stronger to beat in order to collect materials forcefully, in order to make even more powerful weapons… and so that was the cycle that was born." — Nintendo Dream May 2020 Issue, translated by Serenes Forest, Published: March 21, 2020, Retrieved: March 25, 2020
- "...The Faerghus Rebellion. I harbor doubts about the army Loog has raised. How did he recruit so many soldiers without raising suspicions in the Empire? How did he acquire those mysterious weapons, so like Heroes' Relics? What is the rumored identity of Pan, the tactician, rumored to have been integral to Loog's victories? And Those Who Slither In the Dark..." — Burn Remnants of a Report in the Shadow Library of Abyss, Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- "I've got a message for ya... from a dead man. The emperor was keeping the archbishop alive as insurance against those who slither in the dark." — A thief found in Abyss during Silver Snow/Verdant Wind's Chapter 20/21, Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- "Cornelia of the Faerghus Dukedom seems to have disappeared from the palace...and rather swiftly. They (Cornelia and Count Bergliez) must have realized that the revival of the old Kingdom was a real threat." — A merchant in Garreg Mach Monastery during Verdant Wind's Chapter 21, Fire Emblem: Three Houses