|“||Ten years ago...those ruins were called Nemeton Monastery. In reality, the monastery was a jail for political prisoners with life sentences. In time, its role as a prison faded away and the building was bought by a man named Patrick. Then, that dreadful incident happened...||„|
|~ Roger Bacon (about the Nemeton Monastery).|
The Nemeton Monastery, also called "Nemeton", is a haunted monastic complex and a location in the Shadow Hearts videogame series. Nemeton is where the game Koudelka takes place and it is a pivotal plot point for the following games Shadow Hearts and Shadow Hearts: Covenant. The Monastery has a dark history steeped in Malice, death and primordial theology.
According to Roger Bacon and the Émigré Manuscript of the Three Ancient Tomes, the Nemeton Monastery was built by prehistoric humans as a temple honoring the Outer Gods. It was built on top of the site of the "Neam" - "Float", in an ancient language, the last location touched by "God" before His departure from the planet. Though at the time there was no monastery, what would later become the lower levels of the building housed mass graves of things not human and the ancient Druids infused the area with much magic, consecrating it as holy ground, at least "holy" by their cultural standards.
The "hallowed" grounds of the monastery would be purified by a saint named Daniel Scoutus who helped spread Christianity throughout Wales in the Middle Ages. Scoutus sensed the ground was infused with great powers, powers which the ancient Druids considered holy but which Christianity considered quite the opposite. Scoutus reconsecrated the entire site to ward away the old magics. Since the area had been considered a location of dark magicks, Scoutus' purification of it was considered quite a feat, and upon his death, the people of Wales felt it fitting that Scoutus was buried on the purified grounds.
Connecting to the ancient tunnels were built extensive hallways to act as Saint Daniel Scoutus' tomb. Over time, a monastery was built on ground level to mark the location of Scoutus's tomb and was a simple retreat for monks to train and to become closer to the Holy Spirit.
In time, the monastery was commandeered by Inquisitors. As the monastery was a holy site with a massive underground complex it was seen as an ideal location to "reform heretics". The massive catacombs were converted to dungeons and the zealous Inquisitors filled them with heretics, political prisoners and the mentally ill (assumed to be possessed). Whatever excuses were used in the Vatican to justify the Inquisition, the residents of the halls of Nemeton Monastery, both inmates and Inquisitors, knew the place to be nothing but a massive torture complex, where there was no right answer to the Inquisitors' charges and the only redemption offered was over the dead bodies of the reformed.
The old diary of one guard states how he arrived there to do the work of God but became unnerved when he saw his fellow Inquisitors delighting in tormenting old women, children and the like accused with the crime of heresy. The guard however was pressured by his peers into believing it was all for the greater good and learned to shut out the screams. It was not for a year that the guard in question found out that all the others had similar reservations at first too but were themselves pressured by their predecessors. The last pages of the guard's diary speak of a massive break-out and that the inmates were coming for him. Though the guard had not tortured anyone himself, he is certain he would have been persuaded to if asked and felt his imminent death was punishment for casually shutting-out the cries of the inmates.
How the break-out occurred is unknown, but after it, the Nemeton Monastery was abandoned. Blood stained the halls, giant piles of corpses were stacked behind bars on what used to be holy corridors and the entire monastery sent shivers down the spines of all those who set foot on the grounds, even the upper levels which were left untouched by the Inquisitors. Yet the pain and anguish of all those killed in the name of God were still held at bay by the spirit of Saint Daniel Scoutus whose holy aura allowed the inmates' spirits to rest in peace.
After years have passed, the monastery was bought by a man named Patrick Heyworth. Patrick had lost his wife Elaine and moved to the Monastery with his servants Ogden and Bessy Hartman. Patrick had procured a document of the ancient Formor Druids called the Émigré Manuscript from a Cardinal who stole it from it's resting place in the Vatican. The Émigré Manuscript held many secrets of sorcery and alchemy including how to bring the dead to life. The Émigré Manuscript spoke of the site of Neam which was one of the planet's nerve points and that such points were the best places to conduct the rituals. Patrick retreated to the lower levels of the Monastery, the very oldest parts that predated Scoutus, feeling he was about to undertake an unholy rite he wished to be hidden away from the eyes of God while he studied the cursed tome.
Patrick would soon realize the rites came with a price, human sacrifice, a price he was deplored by at first but over time justified to himself with the help of one of his sponsors, Dogol, who had convinced him to overlook such a price to see his wife again. With Ogden and Bessy's help poisoning and chopping up visitors and the Royal Medical Society's help having fresh people brought in from the slave-trade, Patrick slowly gathered more and more victims and with each one lost a bit more of his conscience until murder was just a causal everyday activity for him. Patrick said his first dozen or so murders should have been enough to revive Elaine but that he could feel the mystical energies hampered by something. Patrick became certain that St. Daniel Scoutus's spirit, which he at first felt protected him from the monastery's dark past, was what was slowing the ritual, but once the slave trade started pouring in dozens of victims a day the energies for the rites started flowing naturally. In time even Saint Daniel's spirit could not hold back the hate and Malice of all Patrick's victims and a great tree grew in Patrick's lab, the Tree of Life. Patrick placed Elaine's body at the roots of the tree to be revived and it was absorbed into the tree and would soon bloom from it with new life. A few days after Elaine's body was placed in the tree it bloomed forth alive as Patrick had dreamed, but what came out was not his wife. Elaine's body was revived but not her soul. Patrick was not only horrified that he had defiled his wife's body and depressed that he had to face life alone without Elaine but he also could no longer justify all those he had murdered and his renewed guilt came rushing over him with a vengeance. Patrick in despair fed himself to his wife's body.
Ogden and Bessy never heard what became of their master and were instructed never to go down into the depths of his lab and so even without Patrick at the helm the Nemeton Monastery continued to claim the lives of any who dared enter it's halls. The experiments with the Émigré Manuscript had revived more than just Elaine and the centuries of dead "heretics", sadistic priests, murder victims and eldrich horrors at the monastery's depths were all unleashed once Scoutus' hold was weakened by Patrick. As a result waves of inhuman monsters and twisted undead things began plaguing the halls. The most dangerous of the creatures lurked at the bottom of the monastery where they died but each level had it's own share of monsters. While only minor supernatural phenomena occurred on the top levels like odd sounds or objects moving on their own (which some considered as poltergeist activities), the Malice unleashed attracted supernatural creatures from surrounding areas to congregate within the Nemeton Monastery. Bessy and Ogden either locked themselves in secured rooms when such creatures came around or Ogden would blow them apart with a few well placed shotgun blasts.
When the game Koudelka starts, Koudelka Iasant, a witch and medium, was called to the monastery by the cries of a spirit in pain. Koudelka would meet Edward Plunkett and Father James O'Flaherty in the monastery. Edward was lured to the monastery by stories spread by the Royal Medical Society, that said the monastery hosted orgies, a ruse to get any spare travelers they could to Patrick. James was there to recover the Émigré Manuscript for the Vatican and was an old friend of Patrick's trying to save his friend's soul from paganism. Over the course of their time there Koudelka, Edward and James confront the vast dark history of the monastery. Though at first it seems the monastery's malice resonated from the Inquisitorial Halls upon meeting the ghost Charlotte, the three soon find that the sadism of the Inquisitors was just a small part of the monastery's darkness. When the party meets Roger Bacon, the writer of the Émigré Manuscript, resting in Scoutus' tomb in a hibernation state he tells them the Émigré Manuscript was certainly the cause of it and that someone must have misused it to try to bring the dead back to life.
Over time it is revealed that it was Elaine who called Koudelka there. Elaine's spirit had been revived with her body, however she was not in control of it and doomed to undeath as long as her body existed in it's current state. Elaine asked Koudelka and James to kill her body so she could rest in peace. The three seek advice from Roger on how to put Elaine to rest and ending the Émigré Manuscript's hold on the Monastery, Roger tells them that the hand of Daniel Scoutus is on the grounds and that if it were thrown into the cauldron, the Tree of Life sprouted from it would weaken the tree allowing them to destroy it. Upon tossing the hand into the cauldron and defeated the angered tree James gathered some accelerant, douses the tree in it and lit it on fire. The fire spread through-out the monastery but allowed the party to get passed it to Elaine's corpse, after an intense fight in the flaming monastery and James sacrificing his life to God to redeem Elaine from undeath, the Nemeton Monastery burns down, however Koudleka, Edward and Roger escape. Though Koudelka and Edward go their own ways Roger seals the lower levels and sets up a home near by to renew his prior scholarly pursuits and keep an eye on the ruins to ensure nothing ever escaped from them.
In the game Shadow Hearts, the heroes, Yuri Hyuga, Alice Elliot, Zhuzhen Li, Margarete Gertrude Zelle, Keith Valentine and Halley Plunkett come upon the Nemeton Monastery ruins while searching for Roger Bacon. Roger's student Albert Simon had kidnapped Koudelka, who was Halley's mother, and the group had come seeking out Roger on her advice before she disappeared with Simon. Roger happened upon the party during a stroll in the ruins and told them of the monastery's previous application and Koudelka's involvement in them. Bacon also revealed that the one who had stolen the Émigré Manuscript for Patrick was Albert and so he certainly knew what sort of darkness lurked beneath the ruins. Roger said Albert had surely taken Koudelka to act as a key for a very dangerous ritual and that if he truly knew what he was doing he would chose a place of great power that Koudelka had a history with, so it seemed natural the ruins were the site of it. Upon hearing Yuri, Alice and the others history with Albert prior Roger decided to unlock the basement of the Nemeton Monetary for them, but warned them that ancient horrors still roamed the lowest halls which had survived the fire.
With unfinished business between them and Albert and Halley's mother's life at stake, the party would be all too eager to travel into the haunted depths despite Roger's warnings. Passing through Patrick's lab Alice fell weakened from the residual Malice that had brought Elaine's body to life and all the lives that had fed the cauldron. Going deeper the party found all manner of twisted creatures roaming the dungeons and points of magic still active in some areas. Albert was at a ritual site in the deepest part of Nemeton passed a door that even Koudelka and Patrick had never managed to open in a tomb containing various non-human graves. Albert was using the site not just for it's passed history or as a ley-line hot spot but said that Neam was less a temple than a beacon built with a very specific purpose. Albert was just using Koudelka and what he had learned testing out the Émigré Manuscript with Patrick to activate the beacon early. Though Koudelka attempted to take out Albert with her, when she realized what he was trying to do and that it would end up killing her son along with billions of others, Albert overpowered her with his demonic benefactor Amon. The party confronted Amon and defeated him but Albert had a backup plan they had unwittingly helped him achieve. Albert's ritual site was designed to run on any energy expelled within it originally meant to be Koudelka but the battle between them and Amon had expelled enough energy to activate it instead.
Albert teleported out to see his works and the party soon followed. The power activating the ritual site in the Nemeton Ruins had run through massive underground cables that connected to a living underwater fortress. The fortress was called "Neam" or The Float. The Float was an alarm system left behind by God set to go off when His experiment, that was life on Earth, went bad and needed to be disposed of. Albert said that God would arrive within 7 days and wipe out all life on Earth something he considered well worth the effort based on his past experiences with humanity. Yuri and his friends would receive Roger's help again to reach the Float where they would fight Albert for the last time and attempt to drive back the angry hand of God.
After the events of Shadow Hearts Roger and Yuri hid the Émigré Manuscript away in the newly unearthed Neam depths at the bottom of the crater created when the cables to the Float were uprooted. In order to get a hold of the Émigré Manuscript, an organization with former ties to Albert Simon, known as Sapientes Gladio, had kidnapped Roger to find out the book's location. Roger never talked and used his advanced age as an excuse to play senile however Sapientes Gladio's lieutenant Nicolai Conrad decided if he could not break Bacon he would trade his safe return to Yuri for the Émigré Manuscript. With Roger's life on the line, Yuri and his new traveling companions Karin Koenig, Gepetto, Blanca, Joachim Valentine and Lucia decided to journey into the winding depths of Nemeton's dungeons to retrieve the cursed tome. The dungeons connecting Nemeton to Neam were twisting corridors of floating floors and force-fields triggered by various switches. The dungeons themselves were filled with more alien creatures left behind by God rather than the necromantic horrors seen in the monastery but eventually Yuri and his friends were able to make it passed them to get to the Émigré Manuscript.
Close to the end of Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a side mission to recover another book for Roger lost while he was exploring the deepest parts of the ruins, previously sealed. Roger asks the party to retrieve his book, though Roger offers no reward and is just frantic to get his book back the mission grants many rewards for the player, including some of the most powerful crest magicks, a new move for the character Anastasia Romanov, a high level area to train in and triggers three other high reward side quests one of which is the final fusion for Yuri into the Dark Seraphim. The newly discovered Nemeton dungeon depths were far more complex than the previous one and seemed to stretch down into an endless darkness. The winding depths of Nemeton dungeons were not part of the original structure but a scenic route to limbo created by Patrick's experiments. There was eventually a bottom to the dungeon, a bottom inhabited by one of the Lords of Hell, Orobas, god of chaos and king of limbo. With the passage now cleared Orobas said he intended to destroy the world, when asked why he seemed unsure and just felt it was what he should probably do being a Lord of Hell. When defeated though Orobas congratulates the party and apparently thought of the intense battle as nothing more that a fun game after which he was happy serve them in gratitude for the amusement. When recovering the book dropped by Roger the party discovers it was in-fact a porno magazine.
- The word "Nemeton" is a Celtic phrase meaning "sacred" or "arcane".