The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice – The Modern Gates, Part IV

Under The Abyssal Aquarium, the deepest in Europe!

Just Step This Way – Monsieur Marty

Next up we have the modern gates of the west…

37) This remote gate opens in an ancient, slightly damaged, manse on the Kerguelen Islands near the Cook Glacier. Unfortunately, it’s the control center for the local Geomantic Network – one of the few functional ones left on Earth. Currently it’s in defensive mode, and has assorted guardians, traps, and weapons ready to deter intruders – both physical and spiritual. If repaired, it and it’s network are capable of regulating the weather across the island, as well as providing some conveniences and rendering the place immutable – a final bastion against chaos, and a place to start rebuilding reality from if the worst should happen (an eventuality which seemed all too possible towards the end of the first age). Of course, the curious geography of the place has attracted some scientific attention – but the current climate is too harsh for actual settlement, leaving the network purposeless.

38) Deep in the Southern Atlantic, this gate appears to be little more than an arch of deep-water coral, buried within a tangled maze of fans, mounds, and other delicate shapes. It’s presence has, however, twisted and awakened the local coral; occasional pieces have properties equivalent to Yasal crystal, anyone visiting the site will find that it functions as a NATURAL manse with a substantial power reserve – and the coral itself has developed a vague sapience, and transmits it’s inchoate prayers through the gate to provide the guardians of the gate with a modest “cult” – as long as they continue to protect the coral garden.

39) Tumbling through space a little beyond the orbit of the moon, this gate is located within the ruins of a palace of silver, still cloaked and defended against mundane detection by ancient wards. Here, in what was once a shadowland, in the ruins of the palace and the eternal night within it’s walls, the long-dead play out their ancient pantomime – pale shadows of the past miming to amuse the core of frozen malevolence which was once their ancient master, abandoned by the Neverborn and so vulnerable to entrapment during the Reshaping. Without air, or sound, or life, or an independent will to call their own, they wait – standing guard over secrets long lost.

When the Reshaping occurred, the Neverborn and most of the Deathlords simply vanished, to pass into the deep Wyld and recreate (or perhaps to create) themselves beyond the reach of the Shinma. The Void… fractured. Geomantic upheavals, and the raw energies of the Wyld, poured through the underworld, destroying and reshaping. Most of the ancient ghosts were disrupted, and passed into Lethe. The Monstrances of Celestial Portion, assailed by primal chaos and bereft of the will and power of the Neverborn, the Deathlords, and Oblivion – shattered. While the fragments remain potent, and empower those wraiths that possess them or items that they are embedded in, they no longer bind the Abyssal Shards – and they no longer suppress the memory-fragments that plague the Abyssal Exalted in the slightest. Thus, some Abyssal shards carry memories of the original Deathlords.

New bearers of those shards were not at all inclined to favor the beings that had enslaved their predecessors – but they sought training and knowledge, reaching through Elsewhere along ancient links in search of fragments of lore. Eventually they found a treasure-trove; the Silver Prince had been abandoned by his Patron Neverborn for his “softheartedness” – and so had not been drawn into the Wyld in his Patrons wake. Even better (at least from the new Abyssals point of view), without his ex-patrons protection, and stripped of all but the remnants of his Abyssal and Solar charms, he had been vulnerable – and had been trapped in a timeless instant, suspended between moments while the ages passed. Even though his personal powers (high essence, ghost and spirit charms, intermediate-level necromancy, thaumaturgy, some remnant low-grade Abyssal powers, and his personal artifacts) were a mere shadow of his former might the Silver Prince retained his vast knowledge. All the dark lore that an Abyssal Exalt could desire…

He was still formidable – but he was weak enough that merely pulling him back into true time, and a bit of lip service, served to extract what the new masters of darkness desired.

With the Silver Prince’s help, the new Abyssals found his physical location – and with it the Earth, and the Elemental Pole that formed it. They offered to “show their devotion” by destroying the peoples of the then-primitive planet – but the Silver Prince had different ideas. He saw potential in letting Earth’s population, and its destructive capabilities, grow. The time to strike was not now. Still, that time would come.

It did. Mortals were the ones responsible for the atrocities of the Second World War – but they had opted to listen to whispering shadows. The pale occultists and ruthless military advisers working for the Axis powers reintroduced the taint of necromancy to Terrestrial bloodlines for a reason. The amount of soulsteel recovered from areas held by the Germans, Italians, and Japanese increased during and after the war.

Those few Abyssals who cared to bother understand why this was. Their mentor wanted the last remnant of the original Creation to himself. The Silver Prince would have the Earth’s First Age weapons, its soulsteel, and – especially – the Dragons of a Different Color who survived.

They would have the cosmos. Leaving one small world – or cluster of galaxies – to their crippled mentor is no price at all. The place has no real sentimental value to THEM.

40) Tumbling lazily around the earth in a wide and erratic elliptic orbit, and occasionally passing between the Earth and Moon, is an ancient coral reef – in which a hidden grotto boasts a Yu-Shan gate. Within that ambiance, a fertile moonlet has grown; it’s adapted corals fusing the hydrogen of space to iron for energy, using Essence to hold an envelope of air and moisture around themselves, and fishing in the void for additional elements with which to build. Upon that foundation various plants grow, crabs crawl – and flocks of colorful fish-birds swirl, an exaltation of life adrift in the void. The view is spectacular, and the beauty of this reef of space rivals that of the loveliest gardens of Yu-Shan – making it a popular spot to stop by and view the universe (and to occasionally harvest a bit of old coral-iron to use in making environmental-protection charms). While the location is decidedly awkward for most purposes, a variety of gods have taken it under their protection – shielding it from disturbances, speaking quite sternly to anyone who damages the place, and making sure that no nosy mortals stumble upon this celestial island.

41) This ancient manse once rested upon the bottom of the western sea, and served as a base for the submarine vessels of the high first age. Now it, and it’s associated Yu-Shan gate, drifts at the trailing earth-moon Lagrange Point – L5 – where a few small revisions in it’s design have turned it into one of the busiest Yu-Shan gates in Creation, at least as far as the Sidereals go. For whatever reason – perhaps the benevolence of Gaia, perhaps something else – the manse resonates with interstellar travel Charms. It reduces the cost of such abilities by five motes (minimum of 0). The Celestial Bureaucracy doesn’t know if the manse would reduce the cost of interstellar travel Charms used by creatures of darkness. Nevertheless, it doesn’t want to find out. This gate is also one of the best-monitored, making it a poor choice for illicit business.

42) This gates abrupt relocation to the L2 trans-lunar Lagrange Point during the Reshaping carried along a fairly formidable local elemental court – which had fallen back on the gate in hopes of reinforcements. Fortunately for those spirits, the reshaping fitted them to their new environment – transforming spirits of water, air, earth, wood, and fire, into spirits of space, time, electromagnetism, gravitation, and radiation – and the gate now opens into their communal sanctum which opens onto the Lagrange Point. Few gods come this way: from a traditional point of view a court based on modern physics is EXTREMELY weird – even if they do serve a useful purpose as go-betweens with the even stranger spirits of deep space – and there isn’t much of anywhere else to go within most gods travel range.

43) Deep in the cavern behind Rainbow Falls (Wailuku River, Hawaii) this gate murmurs and whispers, a constant stream of sound that merges with the thunder of the falls to hang on the edge of comprehension. Centuries past, mortal shamans would risk the swim beneath the falls and into the cave to hear the voices of their gods.

They were right. While it’s likely that no one outside the keepers of secrets remembers how to control the system, this particular gate allows a skilled operator to open communications links to and from an immense number of locations – and individuals – in Yu-Shan. Even without control, prayers directed into the gate are amplified and focused; it was not uncommon for those shamans to return with some small miracle. Today the massed voices of Yu-Shan continue to murmur within the cavern, although few come to listen.

44) Isla Salas y Gómez is a mere rock in the ocean – but, hidden beneath the surface of the stone, is a Yu-Shan gate. Hidden below the island is something far more ominous. In the mass death of the Reshaping, the city of Shining Reefs – like other places before it – was drawn into the Underworld – turning the indestructible jade tube which linked it to the surface into a fault in the barriers between the living and the dead. Here masses of material from the first age – tools, exotic vehicles, weapons, and artifacts – have been merged with their necrotic shadows, becoming more flawed – but greater and more powerful – thereby. Here too, guided by some dark whisper and riding a river of blood, have gathered some of the darkest and most fanatical shades of the modern world to investigate those terrible secrets and weapons and claim them as their own. Aboard dead ships the wraiths of an evil thought dead seek to rise to build a Fourth Reich – and none shall escape their terrible reign.

OK: this just wouldn’t be a Modern RPG setting without some form of secret Nazi outpost seeking to restore the Reich. It’s pretty much mandatory; you’ve just GOT to have one, even if having saved Hitler’s Brain or cells to clone him with is an optional extra. The whole thing is likely to be a ploy of the Silver Prince’s or some such – but legions of the dead are in relatively short supply these days. There’s no point in leaving one just lying around without guidance.

45) Deep in the Amazon Rain Forest along the Rio Negro (and surprisingly near the Brazil-Colombia-Venezuela junction), this gate lies in the center of a collection of manses – several of them malfunctioning. Their chaotic essence flows often induce bizarre mutations in the local flora and fauna, as well as causing a wide variety of environmental hazards and disruptions. Few of these are of any great concern to an essence-wielder (who can generally easily divert annoying animals, respire essence instead of allowing it to mutate them, and sense and avoid the areas affected by the manses) but – unsurprisingly – the local tribesmen have long considered the area a place of ill-omen. It is, however, often used for training trips from Yu-Shan; it’s quite safe with experienced divine supervision, and offers a wide variety of situations for young godbloods and Exalts to learn to deal with.

46) This gate stands on the side of a small outcropping overlooking Lost Lake near Canyon City Oregon. It settled down long centuries ago, but for a few millennia after the Reshaping it was so unstable that it’s only use was to throw junk into it – which seeded the area with plenty of gold, silver, and precious minerals (cheap decoration and building material in Yu-Shan, however precious by mortal standards), occasional chunks of jade, and even rare bits of other magical materials. When mortals found this enormous horde, it led to quite a gold rush until the “placer deposits” were mined out. Today Canyon City is a minor backwater, with lovely scenery and just enough scattered bits of valuable material hidden in the soil to busy occasional hobbyists and small-scale prospectors – as well as a modest underground community of mystics who wish to use the magical potentials of such materials or to pass prayers directly through the gate. A few gods occasionally set up small deposits in the area to be “discovered” by mortals just to amuse themselves watching the ensuing micro-rushes.

This particular gate is, however, also a remote terminal for playing the Games of Divinity, with full-sensory immersion – originally an access point for Kimbery and several other quasi-aquatic Primordials who didn’t like to leave the sea to come to Yu-Shan to take their turns. While the secrets of it’s activation have been long lost (along with the very existence of this function), you never know when some tinkering mortal might suddenly get to destroy his or her mind while interrupting the Incarnae to take a turn in the greatest of all games.

47) This gate lies deep within the Grand Canyon, hidden in a ravine near Supai, Arizona. Here even the mortal residents can sense the surging power of the gate-manse – a power that amplifies mortal thaumaturgy, enables vision-questing, and which (while it’s not generally known) transmigrates the souls of the dying into the hawks which populate the Canyon. Sadly, the locale is so inaccessible that these benefits have remained the secret of the local indians for millennia; while modern improvements to the trail down the walls of the canyon has made it possible to take mules in and out, it’s still a long and precarious trip.

48) In Georgia, in a near-forgotten section of the Atlanta Underground, underneath a small park – and deeply entangled in roots – stands a simple archway, leading to an obviously collapsed passage. The Celestial Lions guarding the gate actually have a reasonably good relationship with the local Terrestrial Clan – the Morgans – thanks to the considerable volume of import-and-export traffic which passes through the gate. The burning of Atlanta put a strain on the relationship for a long time – the Celestial Lions saw it as a failure to defend the gate – but that’s almost a thing of the past now. Still, that tension – and Yu-Shan’s current relatively low opinion of the Sidereal Exalted – has prevented the Celestial Lions from correcting the Morgan’s various misconceptions about the Sidereals and “Starbreaking”.

As one of the few gateways which is currently both readily accessible and in the midst of a major population center, the Atlanta Gate sees a lot of traffic – and the ensuing concentration of god-bloods and supernatural occurrences has firmly established Atlanta as one of the great magical cities of the world. In it’s underground, and parks, a discerning consumer can actually find the occasional genuine alchemist, enchanter, or other thaumaturgical expert working almost openly – including in the local technology and broadcasting industries.

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3 Responses

  1. […] Modern Gates Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V: The locations of Yu-Shan’s gates in the modern world and their various unique […]

  2. […] Modern Gates Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V: The locations of Yu-Shan’s gates in the modern world and their various unique […]

  3. […] Modern Gates Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V: The locations of Yu-Shan’s gates in the modern world and their various unique […]

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