Excerpt from ‘The history of the Black Shroud, from Amdapor to Gridania’ by Archon Niniri Niri.
A complex of tunnels hidden deep beneath the South Shroud, the Thousand Maws are modified natural caves that were used as a prison for the most heinous criminals of Gridania. What exactly constituted the worst possible criminal is different in Gridania due to the influence of the elementals, with poachers and arsonists being imprisoned with the complex due to the existential threat their actions posed towards both the forest and Gridania itself. Thirty years ago the prison was deemed untenable due to the widespread mistreatment of its prisoners, and after construction of a jail closer to the city, it was abandoned. Toto-Rak has since become home to countless terrible beasts. The gaol was named after Toto-Rak, a formidable man-eating beast from padjali folklore with, apparently, a great many maws. Rumors exist that this may have been in response to a warden of the prison taking the beast’s name as an intimidating epithet.
The Initial Tunnels
However unpleasant Toto-Rak was when it was in operation, decades of infestation and neglect have not improved its original state. Without the torches of the guard, the complex is now lit primarily by bioluminescent moss, and the influences of Gelmorra on the construction of early Gridania can be seen very easily here in these subterranean holdings. Unfortunately the team was unable to explore the complex in its totality due to the blocked off-shoots and cells with cave-ins. A junior researcher found a small note stuck to a wooden board in these tunnels however.
The note was written by an individual named Rydel, a First Spear of the Wood Wailers. The First Spears are a detachment of the Wood Wailers that specialize in training and recruitment, perhaps implying that Rydel was leading a group of trainees. The note details reports of devices that glowed within the tunnels, apparently Garlean creations named magitek photocells according to representatives of the Ashcrown Consortium, an organization that presides over the aether crystal market in Eorzea, originally founded by sylphs. The First Spear resolved to collect these devices. Further investigation yielded another two notes, apparently written on the second and third days of the Wood Wailer’s tenure here, the first recounting a discovery that the photocells grew in luminosity when grouped together and that they seemed to deactivate when leaving Toto-Rak. The second detailed the death or injury of a Wood Wailer attempting to breach a magitek field.
The Accusation Chamber
A large chamber nearby the entrance of Toto-Rak, the Accusation Chamber was fitted with a large, secure door when the team arrived. Although it has since become a diremite nest, the name might suggest that it was used as a form of trial grounds of sentencing chamber for those imprisoned within the gaol.
The Way of Penance
One of the few areas of the jail open to the air, with a hole in the cave roof far above, the Way of Penance is a walkway over the top of a deep crevice into the depths of the earth. The name of the walkway is somewhat ominous, and may imply that this area was used in some way to encourage penance or even outright punish prisoners. Gridania has been understandably averse to discuss the horrors of their prison, so how exactly this area earned its name is unclear, but it could be speculated that the temptation of the sunlight, now lost to the prisoners played a part, or even that the dizzying drop from the walkway did, Twelve forbid.
A final note from Rydel was found here, stating that one of his teams of Wood Wailers had disappeared in the complex and commenting on a growing sense of paranoia within himself. Without any further notes found, it seems likely that the beast within the Confession Chamber slew him and his men. A report will be sent to Gridania with his writings.
The Confession Chamber
Another circular room, the Confession Chamber has a number of entryways and contains the leftover machinery that our technological advisor tells us was likely the remains of the magitek field generator reported by First Spear Rydel in his notes, though it has since been deactivated. Knowing the dark history of Toto-Rak, one cannot assume that gentle methods of persuasion were used to pry confessions from the inmates here.
The Deeper Tunnels
Although the structure of the tunnels remained the same as the team delved deeper within Toto-Rak, they did experience the marked change of a dramatic increase in vegetation and the diversity of the vegetation itself. This section of the gaol seems to be more of a residential area, whereas the tunnels previously described seemed to have been at least partially administrative in nature. Singular and communal cells can be found here, as well as signs of the complex’s increasingly obvious diremite population.
The Fool’s Rest
Another sinister chamber, the Fool’s Rest is utterly infested with diremite eggs. The meaning of the room’s name could mean a number of things, but the most obvious implication of Fool’s Rest is that it refers to the death of those foolish enough to earn such a penalty in the state of Gridania, or perhaps more specifically Toto-Rak. This could well be an execution chamber.
Bergand the Broken’s Cell
The first cell that the research team found with a preserved name attributed to it was the cell of Bergand the Broken. Very little information has persisted with regards to Bergrand, making him an unfortunate loss of history.
Ser Aucheforne of the High Tide’s Cell
A figure of significantly more renown than Bergand, Aucheforne was a false knight who was a member of a criminal organization named the Zer’maat Five. After his release from the custody of Gridania he employed a blight of slugs to devastate Gridania’s rye crop while also attempting to sell Gridanian citizens Vylbrandian rye at a vastly marked up price. Some reports state that he was slain by adventurers on Vylbrand for this very same crime. The cell has since been flooded by the vile corruption of the lower gaol.
The Torn’s Rest
A long walkway with a deep pit to its side, the Torn’s Rest is the true beginning of the deep, slowing sludge that fills the lower reaches of the gaol. Vile and inconvenient, one can only imagine the destruction wrought by this matter upon the traces left by history in this place. This location’s name seems to relate to the previous Torn’s Rest, and may be another execution chamber or even a burial grounds.
Joukil Halfmoor’s Cell
This chamber barely resembles a single-occupant cell at all due to its size, but investigations revealed that this was once the cell of Joukil Halfmoor. Joukil was an archer of some skill whose legacy has since gone much the way of Bergand and been forgotten. That she was an archer may suggest that she was a poacher prior to her arrest.
The Abacination Chamber
The final chamber of Toto-Rak revealed the nature of the green liquid in the final reaches of the gaol to the research team; it is the thick internal fluids of banemite eggs. The Abacination Chamber is simply enormous, despite the little amount of room required for abacination, and implies a form of ceremony. Regardless, this is difficult to determine currently due to the immense banemite webs and eggs infesting the chamber currently. Further excavation is recommended at a later date. Abacination is, of course, the process of applying a red-hot plate to a victim’s eyes, a method of torture that results in both blindness and horrible burns. Ghastly stuff.