Author: Justin Love

The City

When The City was built, they named it Stonerise, and that name, albeit in a forgotten hand, is still carved over it's main entrance. Today most know it as simply 'The City.' If pressed, followers of Shine will give it's name as Sunrise, and followers of Shimmer will name it Moonrise. The City is built over the mouth of The River Division. The river flows under parts of the city, and streets running over these areas often have central dividers that open onto the water flowing below, with rails around the edge. The city's central street is not among these; the river forks at it's mouth forming a small islet in the center, which certainly doesn't hurt the city's physical support system.

Looking at The City, it is not difficult to determine that it has grown up instead of out. Upper level buildings have a distinct, usually lower quality architectural style to them. Nonetheless, the higher level buildings are considered better; without other buildings on top of them, they allow for many windows and even skylights opening on the resident's god, Shimmer.

The City's once grand central avenue is now shaded by myriad walkways overhead, and it's landmarks are largely forgotten by the residents. Visitors would be ill advised to miss the points of interest at either end, however.

The Gate

Today, the eastward end of the grand avenue goes through a great arch which opens onto a large balcony overlooking The River Division. Occasionally, residents wonder at the small room off to the side of the arch. Before the spell of isolation, this arch was the main, and only known, gate connecting Underlight to the other spheres. The room to the side was a guardhouse, to monitor, and do their best to control, inter-sphere traffic.

The people of The City still call this arch 'the gateway,' and west is sometimes called gate-wards, though the original meaning is forgotten.

The Tomb of Sharza-Zara

On the westward end of the grand avenue, now shrouded by shadows and the legacy of it's occupant largely forgotten, lies the tomb of Sharza-Zara. The entire tomb is built of stone; the inner chamber where she lies is actually part of the city's wall, making digging in from the sides difficult at best.

The outer room is a memorial, it has no door and was built with the intent that visitors would come. Over the outermost doorway is written 'Here lies Sharza-Zara. Rest in Peace.', or at least something to that effect. The inner walls of the room are covered with sheets of rock upon which is inscribed the history of Sharza-Zara's life, so far as it concerns the realm. She came, was a benefactor to the people, had the city built, cast a great spell and inflicted a great punishment when the people whom she had taken to warred, and so on. Half of these sheets are of a yellowish rock, and the other half is made of a greyish stone. The line that divides them runs from the entrance to the room to the door to the inner sanctum on the opposite wall. (The yellow stone is to the north, and the grey to the south. The entrance looks west and the door further in is on the east wall.) Two sheets are conspicuously missing, from symmetrically opposite sides, one from each type of stone. These may be found in the respective temples of Shine and Shimmer. The sections of the history from which the are taken deal with the realm before Sharza-Zara, in particular describing the two faiths.

The stone door inward, however is closed and has been for centuries. It is not locked, but difficult to move. The stone shows the age somewhat, but it's integrity is uncompromised, reinforced by magic. On the door there were once two carvings, one of the sun and one of the moon, which were on raised disks on the door. At some point (more likely some kind of vandalism than some organized spiritual attack) the image of the sun was carved off, bringing it level with the door, and a nearly identical moon image placed there. The stone here looks slightly 'fresher.'

Inside the door is a short hallway to the inner sanctum. On either side of the walkway, on slightly raised sections, are six statues of gargoyles, standing half crouched. On the left side are three made of gold, on the right, three of silver. Should any intruder so much as lay foot inside the door (on an equivalent amount of intrusion; touching the floor isn't necessary should there be a floating or flying hero, but in most circumstances the instant their foot touches the floor makes a good mark of trespassing,) the eyes of the first pair of gargoyles light up, and a moment later, a powerful, resounding voice speaks "Sharza-Zara sleeps here. None shall disturb her rest." The voice will repeat (perhaps growing louder and more commanding/threatening) every few moments so long as the intruder does not remove themselves. Those who do not heed the warnings and continue in will see the remaining gargoyles eyes light up in turn, and then, starting with the ones near the outside door again, they will start to stand. Trespassers who continue on despite this, will find themselves forcibly removed by the gargoyles. The gargoyles have very high element scores, primarily earth (being metal), with a close second in fire, and the rest as high as the guide feels like allowing them.

The gargoyles are there for one purpose: keep people out of Sharza-Zara's tomb. From a game standpoint, they serve two purposes: keep the heros out of the tomb, because there is nothing terribly interesting there, and to demonstrate that Sharza-Zara was a powerful mage, which is an important thing to realize. As such, should the gargoyles fail to expel the heros, (and the gargoyles should be played as extremely competent in their duties,) the guide has all the tools that a powerful realm-warping mage would have at their disposal to protect their tomb: sudden powerful blasts of wind to blow the heros out, bouts of flame, sudden extreme heat or cold, or a barrage of cuts and slashes as if from unseen knives are just a few examples. The gargoyles are the polite form or protection. If threats fail, there is that favorite axiom: 'a sucking chest wound is the GM's way of telling you to slow down.'

On the far side of the room is a door identical to the first, except that the magical protections of the hallway have spared it any vandalism; one can observe two raised disks, one of the sun and one of the moon, and it can be observed just fine from the outside doorway. This door is locked and reinforced, both by stone and by magic. Trespassers beyond the door are extremely unlikely.

In the unlikely event that someone should get (or at least see) beyond the inner door, however, the inner sanctum looks thus. It is about the same size as the outer memorial room (which is wider but about the same depth and height as the hallway,) and the walls are covered with runes that seem to glow with magical power (and some light resulting from said magical power.) It is otherwise bare except for the sarcophagus, (is that the right term?) which has long pots running along each side, one containing a row of sun roses, the other containing a row of moon roses, both sustained by magic. If anybody tries to open the sarcophagus, refer the aforementioned magical protections. They shouldn't succeed, because if they do, they should die, and killing heros is generally considered bad form.

Pretty much everyone knows about the tomb at the end of the old street, but few pay it much mind. The language the memorial was written in can still be recognized as the base from which the current written language evolved, but only a very few scholars in the city can decipher the old form, although with a little work the old form can be recognized as a only slightly changed from of a common writing method amongst the spheres (cue educated hero.) Despite it's significance being largely forgotten, east is still sometimes called 'tomb-wards.'

The Temple of Shimmer

There are two major temples in The City, as well as a number of other smaller places of worship. Once they were evenly divided between Shine and Shimmer, but now that the followers of Shimmer dominate The City, they have converted the temples as well. Because it still has it's original, superior, decorations, the major temple which was originally dedicated to Shimmer is held above the other. The gods, however, have not forgotten the original alignment of the temples. The temples formally dedicated to Shine have somewhat of a bad rep amongst devotees of Shimmer. Worshipers report eerie feelings and less of a feeling of connection with their god. Priests and Priestess assigned to these temples are always grateful to receive promotions elsewhere.

As far as the original main temple of Shimmer is concerned: The windows are beautiful stained glass, and moon roses are placed about the temple. The rest of the temple has a beautiful but modest method of decoration. On the wall near the altar, a slab of grey stone is hung which details the rights of initiation into Shimmers good favor. Upon careful examination, it can be deduced that this slab was taken from the memorial room of Sharza-Zara's tomb.

See Also: