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    Postfest II: The Celestial Archway
    Posted on Tue, April 06, 2004 by Farcluun
    Coldpenguin625 writes "It is said that of all Celestian’s holy sites, none is holier than the Celestial Archway, for within the arch is the very essence of Celestian, or at least that’s the theory. Every clergyman of the Far Wanderer is expected to undertake a pilgrimage to this site at least once in their lifetime; often this pilgrimage is taken during midlife, usually when questions of faith begin to creep into a clergyman’s mind.

    The Celestial Archway
    By: Coldpenguin625
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    The Celestial Archway

    “The stars may reveal their secrets if you study them” – Dogma of Celestian

    It is said that of all Celestian’s holy sites, none is holier than the Celestial Archway, for within the arch is the very essence of Celestian, or at least that’s the theory. Every clergyman of the Far Wanderer is expected to undertake a pilgrimage to this site at least once in their lifetime; often this pilgrimage is taken during midlife, usually when questions of faith begin to creep into a clergyman’s mind.

    Located high in the Barrier Peaks, the archway is kept secret by the Celestian faith and its location is only given to clerics of the Fourth Order or higher. Priests of lower rank are not allowed this knowledge for three reasons:

    1) So that those who are not truly faith but wish to see the gates do not enter the clergy and immediately gain permission to visit the gateway.

    2) To keep knowledge of the gateway from the common people in order to protect the gates from those who would attempt to plunder the precious materials that make up the physical structure of the gateway.

    3) The clergy is terrified of what exists on the other side of the gate, although what exactly this threat could be has never been revealed.

    The archway itself is a twenty-foot arch, made entirely out of a strange, bluish metal and a pure white stone. It is said among the clergy that the materials of the arch were constructed from metal and stone gathered from the crash-site of a fallen star. Many scholars laugh this claim off as absurd; they claim that stars simply cannot fall and even if they could, they’re only made of gases and such. Regardless, the metals and stone can be identified by neither sage nor magic. Also, the two massive stone doors that are within the arch have been completely sealed by powerful and long-forgotten magic.

    What is the archway’s purpose exactly? Simply put, it is a door to the lifeless, aquamarine moon of Celene. Beyond the threshold of the gate can be seen a towering city of massive spires reaching higher than any structure upon the Oerth. This has led many to believe that once life existed on the moon of Celene; why else would a gate have been constructed to allow passage from the main planet to the moon?

    Only once since the discovery of the Celestial Archway in -198 CY by Bellon Defern has the arch ever been opened. This resulted in a complete disaster when the five men who opened the gate were simply blown out into the cold vacuum; their bodies were never recovered. Although a tragedy, the foolish opening of the gate did allow onlookers who were far enough away to view the other side and to determine what exactly was the purpose of the doorway.

    This prompted the clergy to take action, in -196 CY, the gateway was declared a holy site and the decision to seal it to prevent further accidents was agreed upon by the high clerics of the Seventh Order. The high clerics devised a ceremony that would bind the gates together and make them unbreakable for roughly seven hundred years.

    Recently, the Seventh Order has received several requests to increase the number of guardians and defenses around the gateway due to efforts by the splinter group known as the Cult of the Celestial Arch. The cult believes that a great cataclysm will befall the Oerth and that only those faithful to Celestian will be saved, but only if the gateway to Celestian’s home is opened through enough sacrifice. The cult believes that the city beyond the gates is the paradise of Celestian and the “heaven” they will live in after the great cataclysm engulfs the Oerth. It is because of this that they have taken to hiring several mercenary bands to bolster their forces and have begun ambushing patrols sent out by the Celestial Temple.

    While the higher-ranking clerics of the Seventh Order consider the cult to simply be a rabble of misguided fools, Adrialla of Dyvers (female/paladin12), the commandant of forces charged with protecting the gateway, is convinced they are much more. Already she has suffered several casualties and two of her captains have been killed and another wounded. She has repeatedly beseeched the Seventh Order for more men but they simply accuse her of exaggerating the situation and overestimating the cult’s forces. Adrialla currently has seventy-five clerics and twelve paladins under her command though she believes the enemy outnumbers her greatly and is even considering hiring outsiders to support her forces. Of course, this would be done without the Order’s knowledge as they’d punish her severely, but she sees no alternative to her situation if reinforcements do not arrive in the near future.

    Notes for the Dungeon Master:

    The Celestial Gateway is guarded at all times during the year by several clerics and paladins of Celestian’s Sixth Order. These sentries are spread throughout the surrounding region and warn travelers to stay away using as little force as possible, often simply making up stories of landslides ruining the terrain ahead and such. Of course, any outsider who lays eyes upon the gateway meets an unfortunate end and any clergy member of the Third Order or below is violently blinded by the clergy as penance.

    Also, cult members stalk the region at night. The cultists are usually accompanied by several mercenaries and usually bring a couple magic-wielding allies for support, usually clerics but sometimes a sorcerer or wizard.

    Beyond the gateway is what was once a massive city but is now a burnt out husk. The city is infested with undead, as the city met a violent destruction and the souls of those who died have not departed this plane and any living creature would be the target of their revenge. Of course, to even reach the city, the adventurers would require a method of survival in an airless vacuum.

    Also, the gate may be sealed for now, but the dweomers are fading rapidly and who can tell what may exist on the other side waiting to come to the Oerth? Is it really Celestian’s paradise, or is it something malevolent and dark that should stay locked behind the magical gate?

    "
     
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    Re: The Celestial Archway (Score: 1)
    by Abysslin (abyss@canonfire.com) on Wed, April 07, 2004
    (User Info | Send a Message | Journal) http://www.canonfire.com
    hey CP. You pulled out like Wes and put alot of quality into a very short submission.

    Sweet submission!

    I think its great when authors do their research and I look forward to reading the extension on this topic you were referring to awhile back (if you still plan on writing it.)



    Re: The Celestial Archway (Score: 1)
    by cwslyclgh on Wed, April 07, 2004
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    great job CP.

    I was wondering if you had read "Gates in the World of Greyhawk" by Roger E. Moore (it can be downloaded from the WotC site IIRC). it postulates that perhaps, while the surface of Celene is lifeless, the interier might not be, like some sort of huge dungeon-world... a great underdark inhabited by dark eleves and other unsavory creatures and mostly conquered by Lolth.

    maybe there is an entrance into that vast underworld in your city of spires, perhaps through a sophisticated series of airlocks that keep the air in the underworld :)

    great article.



    Re: The Celestial Archway (Score: 1)
    by Valkaun_Dain on Thu, April 08, 2004
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    What is the necklace that allows you to go without air? A necklace of adaptation? A cube of force, a telekenisis item and a bag of wind or similar air elemental. Beware the horg.



    Re: The Celestial Archway (Score: 1)
    by donimator on Mon, April 19, 2004
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Great article. I like the introduction of the cult faction rising against the church hierarchy and the desperation faced by the one chosen to protect the arch. A party of adventures may be the very ones she hires...this postfest is giving me way to many ideas!!




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