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The City of Hearts

by Colin Davidson

Within the city itself, the outer suburbs (referred to as The Web) are inhabited mainly by Taranteans and their phanaton servants; anyone entering the city is certain to disturb the web, and will soon be confronted with a horde of inhabitants. Taranteans in this region are in almost constant communication with each other using their strange, vibratory language which carry right through the webs; intruders are found and eliminated quickly.

Inside the city are eight temples, evenly distributed in a ring around the centre of the town. These temples, known as the Pumps, are all dedicated to Arik, being filled with symbols associated with the Eye and the Taranteans. They act as entry points into the centre of the city, an area called Venom. It is in Venom that the Eye of Arik is located, and the most sinister secrets of Arachne reside.

Venom

The central district of Heart, known as Venom, is home to the darkest, most evil inhabitants of Arachne. Here the Tarantean high priests of Arik work diligently to turn themselves into the perfect beings in readiness for the return of their immortal. Plunging the depths of the darkest magics on Mystara, they research inter-planar and inter dimensional travel as well as chronomancy and demonology; all of the arts that might be used to return Arik to the prime plane.

Venom is a claustrophobic complex of what was formerly the human temple and palace in the city of heart. Extending for around 400 yards in each direction (and many hundreds of feet down into the volcanic rock below), and buried under at least 150' of tightly knit web, it is dark, damp and highly dangerous. While the high wizard, the high priest and their underlings are found in the buildings on the 'surface', down below all manner of evil creatures attracted to the eye of Arik (buried deep under the city) from other planes are to be found.

The High Wizard of the Taranteans (her name does not translate from the unusual form of communication common amongst the Taranteans, but she is known to her Phanaton slaves simply as Hem) is an ancient being, has been the ruler of this land for centuries. It is her goal, her quest for immortality in the sphere of entropy, to return Arik from his prison plane, after first destroying a human civilisation (which she has already accomplished). Her immortal patron in this task is Arik, one of the few immortals foolhardy enough to desire Ariks return from exile.

The High Priest (referred to by his slaves as Meh) is the High Wizards consort; he is dwarfed by the massive bulk of the female, but is still a wily, intelligent, and powerful individual. It is his goal to attain immortality in the sphere of entropy by creating a new race to unleash on the world, a race that is the perfect combination of Tarantean and beholder, thus turning his own race into one closer to the beholder immortal Arik. Most of the creatures guarding the Eye are of this kind, and although few of his experiments have been entirely successful, most of them are at least potent.

All living Taranteans, are the progeny of the Hem and Meh. None can become fertile themselves until they are removed from the island, the maturation process taking 3d12 weeks, and none can leave the web without Hem and Meh instantly becoming aware. While parties of Taranteans are found across the island, none are known to have escaped Hem and Meh.