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The effect this place has is not only to extend life and warp the mind, but to stop the souls of the dead from ever leaving. And if you have spoken to Niamh, you will know that a person less deserving of such a fate never lived.
~ Edgar the Axe

Niamh Cinn Oir (Niamh of Golden Hair) is an ancient ghost encountered in Aeternis

Background[]

Niamh was a member of a Pict tribe inhabiting north-eastern Scotland in the fourth century CE, who discovered the caves of Wick. She and her sister, Sasha, were forced into the caves as a human sacrifice during a solar eclipse to return the sun to its rightful place.[1] The ceremony saw people come from a hundred miles away and the girls entered the caves to meet the God Sun... However, they wound up lost, traveling through the byzantine corridors for years on end, slowly succumbing to grailstone. The beasts that lived in the caverns below drove them back and prevented them from penetrating the lower realms. Eventually, they managed to find a way below. Sasha became enamored with the ancient buildings below and separated from her sister.[2] It was then that Oisin came, with dark hair and a cloak clasped with an amulet. Oisin spent a year with Niamh, before Sasha returned and he left to return to his people. Niamh tried to follow him, but the long years in the caves and the influence of grailstone rendered her vulnerable to sunlight. Oisin left, promising Niamh a reunion in the future.[3][4][5]

Niamh was later killed while sitting by the watering hole, near an ancient Byzantine well. A creature attacked and dragged her body into the well, where it would remain for centuries, kept from decaying by grailstone. It is entirely possible that this creature was, in fact, Sasha, as long term exposure to grailstone caused her to heavily mutate and become one of the most dangerous creatures in the waters underground, terrorizing man and animal alike.[6] It is entirely possible that the creature that attacked Niamh by the ancient [7]

Interactions[]

  • Niamh is encountered in the well room. She provides a little bit of background on the habitation of Aeternis after the extinction of the Byzantines. Her body has the key to the chest in the mine maze, which contains Oisin's amulet that can be used to drive Sasha back.
  • Talking with Niamh is tricky, as pointing out the fact that she's dead will cause her to disappear, as will incessant questions about things she has no knowledge of, like anything that happened after her death (construction of Aeternis etc.)

Behind the scenes[]

Niamh 'golden hair' was a member of the Celtic tribe called the Solenta, who originally came upon the caves of Dunstanburgh about 1900 BC (see History). She was forced into the caves as a human sacrifice by the Druids in a fruitless effort to appease the evil demons within, The Druids kept sending miners into the caves in an attempt to extract the valuable Grailstone, but each expedition was brutally driven back or lost. Eventually and reluctantly the site was abandoned and the Solenta moved on.

Deep underground, lost and alone, the beautiful Niamh survived.

As mentioned in Celtic mythology, Oisin came upon her several hundred years later in his wanderings. They fell in love, but any attempt to leave the caves made her ill and weak. He turned his back upon the world and joined her in the caves as her lover. When she died tragically several years later, he left and returned to Ireland. He of course died shortly afterwards of old age, terribly alone and astounded that three hundred years had passed in his absence.

In 1364 the Guardians came upon her ghost whilst exploring the caves. Touched by her sad beauty they moved her bones above into the holier surroundings of Aeternis. She resides now in the Chapel Minor on Level Two,

~ Design document
  • Niamh is a reference to the Celtic myth about Tír na nÓg and was written as such in the design document. Her role was only slightly altered: She was originally a Byzantine tribeswoman, not a Pict, and her ghost would be encountered in the chapel, where the guardians would have interred her.[8]

Gallery[]

References[]

  1. Holy Thief: "I saw what I think was a ghost by an old well."
    Tobias: "Yes. Niamh. She was part of a Pictish tribe that lived outside Aeternis in, I think, the fourth century. They were a barbarous people and she was a sacrifice to the beasts. As for the presence of her soul. This place has a certain reluctance to let the dead remain so. Even when a body can no longer support life, the soul will not leave it."
  2. Niamh: "Sasha? She was always willful. She hated me when we were infants. But later she was as willing a sacrifice as I. Until that is, we went down into the deeper realm of the Gods and she became so enamoured of that place she spent longer and longer away from me"
  3. Niamh: "He is from Errin. He is wondrous. He taught me to read and write and the history of his land. We spent a peaceful year together (sudden fierce jealousy) then my sister returned. She wanted him. She tried to confound his mind. I know it.(becomes sad). Then he left to return to his people. I would have joined him but the sun burnt my eyes. How much longer will I have to wait here>"
  4. Niamh: "(despair)Oh no.(slowly, sadly, she sighs)My name is Niamh. Our tribe gave my sister Sasha and I to the Gods when Sun closed his eye many years ago. (BREAK) It was the greatest honour. People came from a hundred miles. (BREAK) We entered the caves hoping to meet the God Sun himself, but instead we wandered, avoiding the guardians for years. [BREAK) We couldn't go down to the deep realm of Sun for fear of them. (Sighs) I thought Oisin was Sun come at last when he walked into the cave of blossoms. Perhaps you've seen him? He's tall and beautiful. He has long dark hair and beard and a cloak fastened with a shining brooch"
  5. Entry 19
  6. Niamh: "Wondrous places. Their shaping of stone was like nothing I have seen. But Sasha was changed by it. She wanted Oisin. (her voice becomes fierce and protective)And the Gods had punished her by making her ugly. Oisin would have nothing to do with her.(Again sad)But why hasn’t he come back?"
  7. Niamh: "(laughs) A ghost. How can that be. I'd know if I had......Wait a minute. There was some kind of creature in the well. It hurt me. (The ghost shape turns toward the well.) (her voice filling with fear) Who is that in the water? (It moves closer.)No. No. No. OISIN!........"
  8. Design document: "Niamh Cinn Oir
    Oisin left his home, met Niamh Cinn Oir and journeyed to Tir Nam Og (the Land of Youth), Timelessness-he stayed 300 years though never aged Returning to Ireland he found:St Patrick and Christianity now had control and, putting his foot upon the earth, lost Tir Nan Og and so aged and died – Celtic myth
    Niamh 'Golden Hair' was a member of the Celtic tribe called the Solenta, who originally came upon the caves of Dunstanburgh about 1900 BC (see History). She was forced into the caves as a human sacrifice by the Druids in a fruitless effort to appease the evil demons within, The Druids kept sending miners into the caves in an attempt to extract the valuable Grailstone, but each expedition was brutally driven back or lost. Eventually and reluctantly the site was abandoned and the Solenta moved on. Deep underground, lost and alone, the beautiful Niamh survived. As mentioned in Celtic mythology, Oisin came upon her several hundred years later in his wanderings. They fell in love, but any attempt to leave the caves made her ill and weak. He turned his back upon the world and joined her in the caves as her lover. When she died tragically several years later, he left and returned to Ireland. He of course died shortly afterwards of old age, terribly alone and astounded that three hundred years had passed in his absence. In 1364 the Guardians came upon her ghost whilst exploring the caves. Touched by her sad beauty they moved her bones above into the holier surroundings of Aeternis. She resides now in the Chapel Minor on Level Two."
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