Traits: Entryways into the Hydra’s Spine are typically nondescript structures made out of the natural materials available from the surrounding environment, though artificial structures have been observed.
The interior of the Hydra’s Spine consists of a network of smooth dirt tunnels of largely uniform diameter. Periodically, tunnels will fork, intersect, or end in wooden doors that serve as the exit and entrance points of the system.
On occasion, the smooth dirt walls and floor of the Hydra’s Spine will give way to unique sections. Examples include:
- Polished obsidian with a pulsating, color changing light visible beneath the floor.
- Filled with daylight where the walls and floor are covered in ivy.
- Permanent ice that is covered in the musical notes of the Ancient Camdorian script.
- Pure amber containing various forms of aquatic life.
- Translucent floors and walls through which one may observe the stars and planets of the Andromeda Galaxy.
Nature: Entryways into the Hydra’s Spine demonstrate trial loyalty, with each entrance and exit having a unique item or substance that serves as a key. Typically this is something that can be found within the local environment, but is rare or obscure enough that it is not readily available. A suitable amount of chicken (feet, head, etc) living or dead, can be used as a skeleton key to access any and all entryways and exits within the Hydra’s Spine. The passage of time within the interior is dependent on the user’s home world, with individuals experiencing time dilation or contraction maintaining this effect within the confines of the tunnels.
History & Associated Parties: The Hydra’s Spine is traditionally thought to have been constructed by the Ancient Camdorians during the height of their civilization. Numerous records have shown that the Camdorians used the tunnel network both as a means of conquest and trade through a vast network of colonies.
It is unclear at what point the Hydra’s Spine fell out of Camdorian control, but it is believed to have occurred simultaneously with the collapse of their civilization on their home world. Primary accounts written by Camdorian shamans, and secondary accounts from Camdorian descendants describe the event as “The Dark Coda”.
Following the fall of Ancient Camdoria, the Hydra’s Spine fell largely into disuse with the exception of expeditions by scholars and explorers who managed to find entryways into the tunnel network. It was not until Henri de Oyonnax completed his Carte du Labyrinthe Camdorien that the Hydra’s Spine became of popular interest again.
Currently, the Hydra’s Spine is used by many wishing to access the Wanderer’s Library, visit one of the many locations that can only be reached via the tunnel system, or by Camdorian and Non-Camdorian merchants en route to one of many diverse markets. As of the late 20th century, the SCP Foundation has begun explorations within the immediate tunnel system surrounding their entryway. While the Foundation has encountered numerous known civilizations, their intentions currently seem to be one of expedition rather than imprisonment.
Due to the nature of the Hydra’s Spine, the numerous civilizations accessed through the tunnel system compose a large list of associated parties. While many of these civilizations are highly intelligent, only a handful have discovered access to the Hydra’s spine and even fewer actively use it for any meaningful purpose. Notable examples of these civilizations include:
- Camdorians: Consisting of a pale, legless, humanoid torso with arms, and a spherical mirror for a head, the Camdorians are frequently encountered in many worlds and dimensions accessed by the Hydra’s Spine. Camdorians speak in a language that is entirely music based. Provided that a traveler is capable of crossing this language barrier, they will not find a more compassionate being than a Camdorian. Several of their shamans have shown interest in the works of the Serpent’s Hand and consider it both an honor and privilege to wear its emblem on their face.
- Acerians: Consisting of a humanoid body made of wound plants, with a face resembling a skull, the Acerians are a species heralding from Hydra’s Spine exit AA-350. Coming from a world where thoughts can spread mental infections between individuals, Acerians are very slow to communicate and often distrusting of outsiders. They use the Hydra’s Spine rarely, and only to travel to exits in the near vicinity of their entryway.
- Razumites: Composed of no corporeal body, the Razumites generally represent themselves as glowing orbs of light. Being renowned tricksters of no discernible home world, the Razumites often travel alone or in small groups from location to location along the Hydra’s Spine. There, they’ll often pester the native inhabitants for their own amusement by communicating directly with the individual’s mind.
Approach: Numerous keys to the entryways and exits of the Hydra’s Spine exist that allow entry and exit from that specific point. A useful skeleton key has been found by travelers who carry with them a suitable quantity of chicken components, be it living or dead. The reason for this remains unknown as surviving Camdorians have no recollection of chickens serving any important position within their history.
Handling of the Hydra’s Spine varies by destination. Most non-humans traveling within the Hydra’s Spine are familiar enough with humans and beings of terrestrial origins that encounters should prove relatively mundane. Travelers wishing to exit the Hydra’s Spine for another world are advised to properly research the local natives for local customs so as to best ensure a safe trip. Not all exits have been explored thoroughly, and using an uncharted exit may be risky.
Additionally, it is advisable that travelers avoid any exits and entrances near exit SC-16 as this is the entryway currently under control by the Jailors.
“Sweet music sings for those who travel the Planestrider's Path with a friend.” ~ Ancient Camdorian proverb.
“First off, let me begin by saying that if you are even remotely claustrophobic, put this book down. The Hydra’s Spine is not for you.” ~ Opening line from A Millennium Underground: Scorpio Bradshaw’s Guide to Navigating the Hydra’s Spine
While many of the accounts of the Hydra's Spine are either fabricated or littered with inconsistencies, several volumes do exist that are considered essential to any individual wishing to make a trek into the Hydra’s Spine. Such noteworthy volumes include but are not limited to:
- Zehntausend Gesichter : Das Volk der Wirbelsäule des Hydra By Hans Jauch: Guide of known civilizations accessible from the Hydra’s Spine and their customs.
- Carte du Labyrinthe Camdorien By Henri de Oyonnax: Standard map of the interior of the Hydra’s Spine. Current editions which include recent discoveries within the far reaches of the Hydra’s Spine are available.
- A Millennium Underground: Scorpio Bradshaw’s Guide to Navigating the Hydra’s Spine By Scorpio Bradshaw: A humorous traveler’s guide to successful navigation within the Hydra’s Spine.
Due to the fact that roughly one-sixth of the exits from the Hydra’s Spine take the traveler to the Wanderer’s Library, it is often theorized that the Ancient Camdorians either frequented the library or played some major role therein. While there are accounts of Ancient Camdorians frequenting the Library during the peak of their civilization, texts of Camdorian origin are few and far between. Those texts that have been recovered are often untranslatable due to no direct translation of the Ancient Camdorian dialect existing both within the Library and among the surviving Camdorian people.
Travelers have observed the destruction of several Hydra's Spine entryways over the years. However, no traveler has recorded observing the creation of a new entryway. Surviving Camdorian people have either been unaware or unwilling to share how entryways are created, with most shamans claiming, “What has been sung cannot be sung again.” This calls into question as to whether or not the Ancient Camdorians themselves created the Hydra’s Spine or simply adopted it from another unknown source.
If the Jailors are truly launching expeditions into the Hydra’s Spine, it’s only going to be a matter of time before they start to set up outposts. From there I can only imagine how they will “Secure, Contain, and Protect” the native inhabitants of the dimensions and worlds they visit. We’ve got to nip this problem in the bud now, before it progresses into something irreversible. — Hayden L.
We can't be so fast to jump to violence. From the looks of it, the Jailors are only sending in expeditionary forces, just as we have done for decades. No containing, no jailing. It would be hypocritical to respond to largely harmless exploration with an unprovoked attack. That's Bookburner talk. We're better than that. — Lola S.
First comes the exploration. Then the colonies. Then the genocide. We've seen this exact scenario play out with the European conquest of the Western Hemisphere. I'm with Hayden on this, we cannot afford to let the Jailors get any traction in the Hydra's Spine. — Zeb T.
They've already gotten traction. The Tesseraians and the Oldomerites have already become fast friends with the Jailors. If you're planning on stopping them it would be wise to do it quickly, or the problem could escalate into a war between worlds. — Jana O.