Colossus in the Playground
Join Date: Jan 2007
The Silver Heaven of Lunia [Gates of Heaven, FRUITFLAVOURED, WIP]
The Silver Heaven of Lunia
I had just a second to take it all in, before I fell.
Overhead, the sky was deepest, velvet blackness, safe for a faint purple along the horizon, like early dawn creeping in from all directions at once. It was cloudless, and vast, and infinite, and a legion of stars stood there, twinkling in all colours of the rainbow, reflected in the silver waters below.
Then the ocean closed above my head.
As I flailed my arms about in desperation, I felt the weight of my backpack and armour dragging me down. The sword at my hip, the links of mithril chain, the spices I had come to sell.
Dying, inhaling water, I still heard the waves lapping overhead, making the sweetest music, like tinkling chimes, and below them, in the deep, the currents like mighty drums and silver bells the size of mountains.
But then, I heard song over the music of the water, and a dozen green hands grabbed me, swept me upwards towards the surface, even as I fell unconcious.
When I awoke, I smelt the coll night air, the wind, bearing traces of spices and flowers coming from the distance. The water all about me was sweetest nectar, as I once again stared upwards at that sky with it's myriad constellations, each and every point of light a soul, saved and remade into purest light.
Below me, mighty muscles moved as the whale on whose back I was lying carried me off towards a beach of pure white sand, and I knew: while the powers of Celestia would not let anyone drown, they also would not let them enter before tasting the holy waters first.
Lunia is a place of peace and quiet, where eternally calm winds gently blow over a slowly moving sea of silvery water. The sky above is eternally black, safe for the myriad constellations of stars and lantern archons dancing over teh waters, and the purple glow shining through the wispy clouds obscuring the summits of the mountainous islands. Here, the wind is like a faint song in the distance, the water sounds like chimes, the rustling of leaves and the lapping of waves gently calling visitors to rest for a moment from the trials of the planes they have endured in the name of good and law.
From the Silver sea rise the domains and communities of Lunia: an endless number of islands, with beaches of white sand, and silvery grey cliffs. Each island rises to a single, steep summit, obscured by clouds that glow with the layers above, each a different pathway towards englightenment.
The silver sea is Celestia's first line of defence: an entire ocean of holy water. Each being arriving here, upon first entering, is baptized in these waters, wether they arrive by magic or more mundane means. Even flyers find that their wings will not support them for a few precious seconds and boats are pushed below the waves for just a moment. For those of good and lawful alignment, the waters taste like sweet memories and the promise of victory, but the wicked burn with their own sins.
No one drowns in the waters of Celestia, though: the Zoveri, main inhabitants of these oceans, are always ready to save a traveler not able to find a shore on his own, carrying them to the nearest beach or ship.
It is said that, in Celestia, everyone can find their own true self: that one's reflection upon the silver sea is subtly changed to reflect one's inner self, that the music of the wind plays a different tune for every soul, that even the constellations above show shapes of a different kind to everyone who gazes upon them for long enough. It is therefore no surprise that many travel to Celestia to find out more about themselves: not just to travel the paths of the virtues, but also to merely contemplate what they see in peace.
Lunia is special among the layers of Celestia in that it has a sizeable population of petitioners still in the shape of mortals. These are the souls of lawful good creatures who have not yet taken the shape of lantern archons, and perhaps never will.
The humanoid petitiones of Lunia are those souls who lead good lives, helping others in small things, but never standing up for their ideals, never trying to improve themselves or the world around them. They are those who longed for peace and order, staying content with what they have achieved instead of striving for higher ideals. Here, in Lunia's eternal twilight, they find the quiet life they have always longed for, while still seeing the archons around them and the light from the higher layers through the clouds above, a reminder of what they could become if they only tried.
As they were in life, these are calm and collected people, leading respectable, but ordinary lifes. They live in villages and small towns much like the ones they came from, as healers, judges, craftsmen or farmers. These communities are peaceful and harmonious, people respecting their neighbours and the laws, helping each other in small ways, but never striving to become more than what they already are.
The Lantern Archons are those petitioners of Celestial that have left their previous lives behind, unlike those still in human shape. Freed from their mortal desires, they take on a new form of pure light, and a personality of childlike innocence. The lanterns are everywhere in Lunia: hovering over the Silver Sea in groups of many-coloured light, flitting between the stars high up above like new constellations.
The Fortress Eternal and Everlasting
Older than Celestia or time itself, or so it's inhabitants claim, the Fortress Eternal and Everlasting rises from the seas. It's stones are old and weathered, but well cared for by it's caretakers. One can feel the age of the place in every block of stone, where cracks of age appeared and where once again polished away by wind or wave over millenia.
The Fortress is home to a race of constructs calling themselves only the Caretakers, towering suits of armour twelve feet high or taller, crafted carefully from celestial alloys and precious metals. Each caretaker wears a face he shaped himself, his own ideal of beauty, wrought in metals with eyes of crystal.
The Caretakers claim that they did not build the fortress, that it was made by their nameless creator, before the multiverse began, and that their mission is to maintain it until the multiverse ends and their ruler will return and reward them for their diligence. While each Caretaker maintains himself carefully, replacing each part before it fails, they say that there were once many more of them, lost to the sea, demonic invasion or irreversible breakdown.
The Caretakers are great craftsmen: they build gigantic battle golems and siege engines to repell invasions, which always stand ready to assist the archons in that duty. Their greatest pride, however, is in crafting lesser servants and body parts: these are not the crude creation of lesser races. Instead, each creation of a Caretaker is the result of decades of careful work, beautifully crafted from the rarest metals and adorned with gems and carvings. Once crafted, the Caretakers freely give them to the needy as prostethics: any cripple can come to the Fortress and obtain a new arm, or leg, or hand that is so finely made that it's clockwork can not be seen by naked eye.
Below the Caretakers, who are numbered in the dozens now, are their servants and associates: hundreds of golden clockwork creatures, as well as dwarves, gnomes, warforged and other mechanically inclined races, studying the work of the Caretakers. They are patient masters, stating that a decade supervising a student is nothing compared to the eternity they still have to face, or the endless millenia they already endured.
The largest island of the Silver Sea, and the one on which the largest mountain rises, is, to most, just known as Celestia. Where others have cliffs, Celestia has grassy slopes that gently fall down to flat, white beaches. As with many outer planar locations, it is difficult to say just how large this island is, but it can be said with certainty that one can travel for more than a day without seeing the sea more than once, instead encountering peaceful farming villages, connected by a well-maintained road system. The isle of Celestia is home to three cities, each formed around a large gate to another plane lying just off their coast: Nemmiron, leading to Arcadia, Heart's Faith, leading to the Outlands and Soul's Desire, leading to Bytopia.
Nemmiron, Gate to Arcadia
Nemmiron, the Gate City leading to Arcadia, the Plane of benevolent Law, lies on the banks and in the delta of a mighty river of sapphire blue water, the Nem. It's many black and golden ziggurats, dark shapes against the purple and violet sky, can be seen from far out to the sea. Each is a temple dedicated to one of the lawful good powers. The two largest Ziggurats, with seven mighty steps each, are dedicated to the Mordinsamman of the Dwarves and the Platinum Dragon, Bahamut. The lie on two low hills opposite each other, each overlooking one of the two banks.
Around and between the Ziggurats lie broad avenues planted with mighty cedar trees growing in the twilight, their mighty branches casting soft shade and their resin filling the air with their scent. The buildings are box-like in appearance, built from the same black marble as the ziggurats or from painted bricks of river clay. The entire city is full of fragrant plants, as flowering gardens have been planted on all the building roofs, and the slopes of the temple ziggurats, watered by an extensive system of irrigation, driven by beautifully crafted white-glazed clay golems working day and night driving the screws and pumps.
At the center of the city lie it's portals to Arcadia, seven arches of black marble, all leading to a corresponding city on the other side.
According to legend, the city of Nemmiron was founded more than three thousand Mechanus-cycles ago. At that time, so the tales say, a demigod daughter of Marduk, visiting from Arcadia, fell in love with a half-dragon son of Bahamut of Celestia. Marduk, since ancient times an enemy of all dragonkind, was enraged when his daughter approached him and confessed her love, and exiled her. So the two founded a new city on the river Nem, Nemmiron. To this day, the draconic and divine heritage is found in many inhabitants of Nemmiron, and many children are born with faint features of dragontouched or celestial. There is another sizeable group of inhabitants here, dwarves of Abellio who, retreating from the unstoppable march of the Formians across Arcadia, have retreated here, entering close trade relations with their Moradinic cousins higher up the mountain.
The ruler of the city, for more than three hundred years now, is queen Negivi, a half-human, half-silver dragon with celestial blood, and head of an extensive family of half-dragons who hold many important positions as high-priests and ministers, said to trace their line back to the founders of the city. The hierarchy of Nemmiron is steep, and few of the commoners and citizens ever gain positions in the government.
The town of Nemmiron enforces it's laws strictly, but not cruelly. Respect for one's elders, the priests and visiting archons is expected under all circumstances, and those who do not follow proper etiquette (or, in the case of strangers, at least make an attempt at it), are frowned upon.
Squads of guards, armed with heavy shields of golden bronze, long spears and heavy Kopesh, each accompanied by a golem, patrol the streets at all hours, and guard towers, toll booths and barracks can be found in each district. It is said that lately, the government has become suspicious of everyone passing into town from Arcadia: many expansionist power blocs from that plane, from the Harmonium over the Formian Empire to the Arcadian Avengers, are said to have designs for the city and Celestia itself and therefore, strangers passing through the gates are subject to intense scrutiny.
The economy of Nemmiron is built partially on trade with Arcadia and the other cities across the seas of Lunia, and partially on the many pilgrims arriving from all over the planes to visit it's many temples, but also on it's agriculture: the river Nem floods regularly every four months, depositing rich soil on the banks. Regularly spaced canals and pumps reach far inland from the river, dividing the land into irrigated, square fields that reach as far as one can see from the top of the great ziggurats. Raised, dry streets cut through these fields, ruler-straight.
The gatetown to Bytopia, the plane of organized goodness, is Soul's Desire. It is, a small and peaceful town, compared to the other gate towns of Celestia, a few hundred half-timbered houses, two or three stories high, built on a low, wooded hill overlooking a wide bay sheltered from Celestia's rare storms by two outcroppings of white chalk cliffs.
The inhabitants - mostly humans, gnomes and halflings, some with celestial blood - are for the most part honest, quiet and peaceful people, crafts- and fishermen, sailors and merchants. There is a joke among Planewalkers: "If you find yourself in Soul's Desire, how do you tell a petitioner from a living inhabitant? The petitioner is more adventurous."
Soul's Desire lives from trade, and endless supply of mastercrafted goods and raw materials from Bytopia - ores and timber, mostly - passing in one direction to supply the celestial armies, blessed water, orichalcum, holy and celestial magic items passing in the other, to be passed down the River Oceanus.
The Celestial Fleet of Lunia has many of shipyards here, even if its naval bases lie elsewhere. Ships are built from exotic woods such as bytopian oak, elysian whitewood, darkwood from the deepest layers of the Beastlands, and countless others from far Arvandor and Asgard, and the Celestial Fleet always needs more ships.
The town is ruled by a council with seventy-seven seats, distributed according to a byzantine and complicated system filling several books. The richest trading families, the most important craftsman's guilds, high priests, archmages, the various mortal races, the Archons and a dozen other power groups (which, however, often overlap in the same person) all have the right to elect or appoint their own representatives into the council.
For all it's apparently quiet surface, Soul's Desire also has another side. Under the city lie extensive networks of tunnels and caverns, inhabited by a small and secretive collective of mindflayers, a mere two dozen strong, who, millennia ago, were reformed by the archons and renounced their ties to Illsensine and the elder brains. Through meditation and exercise, they have developed new psychic powers, making them more symbionts than predators. These reformed mindflayers feed on psychic energies instead of entire brains, partaking of the emotions of other sentient beings for their nourishment.
Many pilgrims, looking to ascend the mountain in their search for enlightenment, begin their pilgrimage in Soul's Desire. Among the informed, the city has a special reputation: pilgrims looking to purify themselves come here to, for the last time, indulge themselves, enjoy the many pleasures of the mind and flesh and thereby ridding themselves of their base impulses. This, too, is connected to the mindflayers living under the city: they use psionic constructs and servants to run gourmet restaurants, high-class brothels, theaters, bathing houses, and more exotic, psionically enhanced houses of pleasure of all kind in the town. None of these are large or ostentatious from the outside, fitting into the small town surface of Soul's Desire, and they all make special offers for pilgrims ascending the mountain that make them cheap enough that even the poorest can afford them.
Of course, the Mindflayers use these venues to feed themselves, which, to them, serves the double purpose of temporarily cleaning the pilgrims of the uncleaned desires thus removed and keeping them alive. They see it as a service for the community and the few archons knowing about them at least let them do their business in peace.
Things to detail:
Barachiel's Citadel of Stars
The Tower of Flames
The Amber Gates
Cities of Lunia
The Realm of the Zoveri
Inhabitants of Lunia
The Order of Planes Militant
The Celestial Fleet
Last edited by Eldan : 03-08-2011 at 08:23 AM.