Solitude of life, fury of beasts

As we begin to wind down our location features, we visit two outlying districts of the city which yet still reflect the temperament of the deities they were raised to pay tribute to…

Teselli Alari, “Alarielle’s Solace”

In the Age of Myth, this was an arboreal suburb of Amasya, primarily occupied by Sylvaneth and what are now Wanderers. Now, it has been almost completely overgrown, buildings and parks turned into trackless forests by the passage of years. Only the strongest mortal constructions remain, and even these are under siege by the sea of green. One day the forest will have its due.

Once, the community was centered around a leafy temple to its patron goddess, where the mortal races could come to honor and worship her. In the course of more than five centuries, though, the trees and vines beloved to Alarielle have undone much of what was wrought in her name- the mighty amphitheatre has been turned into a woody hollow, the altar split apart by the trunk of a massive oak, monuments and images washed away as the forest performs truer worship than even the Wanderers ever could.

The pattern of the streets has long been subsumed, but some of the major intersections can still be identified by the proud waystones and statues that stood at their center. Each of these ancient monuments still crackles with power, which has driven off all but the hardiest roots and shoots and kept them intact throughout the years. Though the plants hate them, they have not yet been able to overcome the inbuilt defenses, and thus the stones still stand- but their power is finite, and left to their own devices they will crumble along with everything else before the relentless tide of green.

The heart of the forest has always been the tree called Hyperion, a giant goldwood pine stretching five hundred feet into the air. In Amasya’s heyday, the tree was revered by the Sylvaneth as a direct manifestation of their goddess- this reverence has continued among the spites that are now the sole inhabitants of Alarielle’s Solace. At night, they swarm like fireflies around Hyperion, bathing it in their luminescence. Few, if any, have seen this and lived to tell the tale, though- the spites have grown mad with abandonment, and would readily strip flesh from bone or bark from stem of any who dared trespass in their sacred grove.

Gorkoyuk, “Gorkamorka’s Pits”

On the fringes of the city, this coliseum and menagerie stood as monument to the power of Gorkamorka, a sort of temple to the Twin-Headed God where his worshippers could bring him their trophies from across the Realms. Beasts of every possible description and talent roamed freely through the pits, and their keepers eagerly awaited the times when two or more would come to blows. Though the keepers may have abandoned the pits long ago, the walls are deep and sheer, and it’s easy to imagine something surviving still trapped inside.

When the Pantheon was united, the fringes of the pits served as part casino, part racetrack, part open-air bazaar. Hundreds if not thousands of people of every possible race and description gathered to bet on the fights to come and their results, to hold various and sundry sport of their own devising, and to buy and sell away from the constant danger of the Palace of Shadows and the watchful eyes of Azyrhol. Now, it is merely a threshold- whatever fences or walls kept spectators from falling into the beasts’ lair have long since crumbled away, meaning that walking too close to the edge is a precarious course indeed.

The pits themselves are host to teeming wildlife of all kinds, as well as the apex predators that feed upon it. Descending into the depths is a profoundly dangerous move- it is difficult to quickly ascend back up the pit walls, and once on the ground the thick underbrush makes it hard to spot potential threats before they become urgently important. If there is a reason to walk this earth beyond bravado and the thrill of the hunt, it is in search of the ancient warding-amulets left behind by the architects of the pits, crude but effective guards against mighty beasts such as rule this sunken land.

During the Age of Myth, it was believed that the pits served as an effective containment for its inhabitants- rage as they might, the fearsome creatures could not escape to trouble the rest of the city. While there were monster-hunters and followers of the Twin-Headed God patrolling the fringes, this was maybe almost true- now that they have gone or been exterminated, though, this has been shown for the lie it always was. There are caverns beneath the pits, some flooded, some dry, by which particularly clever or stupid but lucky creatures may make their way into the Ur-River or the depths of other parts of the city. Even the beasts are wary of this place, though, for in its lightless depths dwell the albino rockwyrms, ever ready to leap out and consume the careless and the bold.

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