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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 brought 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—they also 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 which resulted in the extinction of most of their civilization at 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 lead 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, the Four Saints, and the Adrestian Empire in Imperial Year 91, "those who slither in the dark" 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 is known as the Valley of Torment, a place bathed eternally in lava believed by the commonfolk to have been born as a product of the goddess punishing the sinners who resided in that village. In a burnt report located in Abyss, it is 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" on 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" collaborated with Edelgard under the identity of the Flame Emperor to orchestrate several violent conflicts within Fódlan, including an attempt to steal Seiros' remains from the Holy Mausoleum, the abduction of the Nabatean Flayn, the massacre of the inhabitants of Remire Village, the assassination of the Knight of Seiros Jeralt, and an attack on Duke Gerth of Adrestia in order to steal the Fetters of Dromi. Their ultimate goal was to use Edelgard to wipe out the Kingdom, Alliance, and Church so they could rule over Fódlan. Eventually, Edelgard led a raid on the Holy Tomb, was exposed as the Flame Emperor, and formally declared war on the Church.
Five Year War and Downfall
When Edelgard declared war on the Church of Seiros, "those who slither in the dark" aided Edelgard during the invasion of Garreg Mach, attaining victory over their enemies. On non-Crimson Flower routes, Archbishop Rhea was 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 was pushed into the depths of a canyon by a blast of Thales' dark magic and went missing for the next five years. They then had the agent impersonating Cornelia overthrow Prince Dimitri in a coup and turn the Kingdom into the Faerghus Dukedom. The group silently supported Edelgard's army throughout the war by sending some of their troops to key battles, such as the Battle at Gronder (Azure Moon and Verdant Wind), the Resistance Army's/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 used a "javelin of light" to destroy Fort Merceus in an attempt to kill Byleth/Claude's forces. Hubert used this attack to discover the secret location of Shambhala and exposed them in a posthumous letter, allowing the Resistance/Alliance forces to besiege Shambhala. Facing defeat, the Agarthan leader Thales used all of his javelins of light to destroy Shambhala, and the Resistance/Alliance only survived thanks to Rhea turning into the Immaculate One. In one final act of spite, the Agarthans resurrected Nemesis and unleashed him on Fódlan, but he was defeated by the Alliance and the surviving Agarthans (including Cornelia) fled into hiding. If Claude marries Byleth, it is mentioned that the Agarthans teamed up with Imperial remnants to attack Derdriu, but were repelled by Almyran forces led by Claude.
On the Azure Moon route, after the Battle at Gronder, Kingdom forces led by Dimitri besieged and liberated Fhirdiad and killed Cornelia. Thales, in his disguise of Lord Volkhard von Arundel, led an attack on the weakened Alliance, but was repelled and slain by Dimitri. Agarthan troops led by the warlock Myson supported Edelgard in the final battle of the war, but were again defeated, and the survivors were driven back into hiding.
In most of Hapi's character endings, it is mentioned that those who slither in the dark eventually returned to menace Fódlan once again, but were opposed and ultimately defeated.
On the Crimson Flower route, Edelgard worked to minimize the Agarthans' influence within the Empire throughout the war. After the Leicester Alliance was conquered, the Agarthans collected the Heroes' Relics from the former Alliance territories. Edelgard later double-crossed the Agarthans by attacking Fort Arianrhod in Faerghus and killing Cornelia, causing Thales to destroy Arianrhod with a javelin of light in retaliation. Edelgard and the Empire ultimately won the war, reunified Fódlan, and set out to completely destroy those who slither in the dark; 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. [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