Ashen Tomb
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LIMSPACE CLASSIFICATION


Difficulty 2/5 Survival is simple, given that hazards in the system remain unprovoked.
Entity Count 3/5 Populated with pseudo-humans native to the Collapsing Liminal System; prone to unexpected emotional shifts
Chaos Gradient 3/5 Mostly self-consistent, although certain structures disappear and are replaced with similar ones periodically. Risk of sudden collapse exists due to the properties of its Liminal System
Basset-Frazier Index 2.667/5 Habitation is relatively simple if in possession of sufficient primary resources, but risky nevertheless.

DESCRIPTION


ash1.jpg

Cinderblock found in the northwest side of the Ashen Tomb.

Belonging to the greatly-populated Collapsing Liminal System, the Ashen Tomb is a 2km wide cavity within a geographical depression surrounded by rock cliffs. These cliffs, extending for several hundred meters above ground level, have not yet been scaled; where they lead is not known.

Among frequent storms, the Ashen Tomb is characterized by being almost entirely covered in cinders, barely lit by some ashes burning still. Scorched statues and flagpoles guard hundreds of mounds across the entire cavity, all unmarked and devoid of apparent identity; flags have burned away or are uniformly gray. Some tree stumps can be found across the lower half of the cavity, close to the undying fire at its center.

Each mound, never taller than two meters, covers a stone sarcophagus, marked only by a single glyph in its upper side. These have been observed to be variable; swords, star-maps, suns, rain and eyes, among others. Glyphs do not appear indicative of content; sarcophagi with swords have been broken open to find books, armor, armored men, and weapons alike. The latter is the most important resource that the Ashen Tomb can provide — bladed artifacts, untouched by rust, fire or jagging.

These are invaluable when traversing unexplored sections of the Collapsing System, as gunpowder is scarce and ever-scarcer as the upper limspaces of the system get more and more inhabitants. The only reliable source of weaponry of the Collapsing Liminal System outside of the Tomb, as well as the single source of superior weapons, is the Factory, held by the native Gunmen entities. While a separate faction of anomalous entities (nicknamed “Red Scythes” by the few Archivists that have seen them) have pushed the Gunmen back to the Forge of the Factory, their advance has long since been halted; such weapons will not be easily accessible for the Archivists of the Collapsing System in years.

Mounds are not to be dug upon! While the underlying sarcophagi and their resources are alluring to travelers of all kinds, such actions are prone to revive the flame at the bottom of the Ashen Tomb.

While devoid of entities and most kinds of travelers, one is not to mistake the Tomb for a friendly place. Not for combat and not for pillaging, all actions of anger and disrespect threaten to set the entire cavity ablaze from below, turning the quiet ashes into a firestorm of certain death.

The burning of the Ashen Tomb is beautiful when seen from afar; as the flame rises to tens of meters in height, its dead desolation returns to glory once lost. Tree stumps grow into a majestic crown of fire, accentuated by the furious tolling of bells. Mighty towers can be seen throughout the distorted air, guarded by fiery figures that rise from their tombs and are heralded by flags of fire. Messenger Moths of bone light the sky, long tails leaving a red trail.

ash2.jpg

Attempt to light fire outside of the cavity; note reduced reach and brightness.

The fires can last for weeks and months, imperceptibly diminishing each day. But eventually, it does indeed fade, and only ash is left. What former kingdoms past and future are remembered by the flames is a mystery; some Archivists speculate that the Ashen Tomb is a tomb of nations, undone by the fire and made equal as ash. The variety in weapons and styles of armor seems to clue toward such a conclusion, but the flames insistently destroy all flags and insignia that could confirm it.

A single structure in the Tomb has survived the cycle; a stout, short belltower with no bell stands in the eastern side of the cavity, a place of rest and conversation for those fearless or foolish enough to approach it.

Between the cavity and the rock cliffs extends a darkened field. Only a few hundred meters wide in most directions, it extends indefinitely northwest. Where it leads is unknown; none have braved the path yet.

As part of the Collapsing Liminal System, the Tomb is under constant risk of destruction. However, none of the common warning signs have been discovered by any Archivists, save for its ‘proximity’ to now-destroyed limspaces.


POPULATION:


The Ashen Tomb is not a common place for permanent habitation; most natives of the Collapsing System go through it in small groups or alone, with few daring enough to settle anywhere near the volatile cavity. The collapse of several limspaces within the System provoked massive migrations in the past, creating a number of permanent camps that may still be found near the central cavity.

Nevertheless, there are two independent populations that inhabit the Tomb, both nameless, but nicknamed Gravekeepers by Archivists in the Collapsing System. Both groups inhabit the southmost side of the cavity, having constructed haphazard but resilient concrete domes with fire retardant materials from other limspaces of the Collapsing System. It is rumored that most of these were acquired from separate Liminal Systems.

They are friendly, but a hazard nevertheless; a threat to the crestfallen and the unkneeling alike, their hearts are with the tombs and the ash, and as such they are prone to crush the zest of those who most need it to stay alive. Some join them, some meet their end guarding the mounds with newfound appreciation for those warriors long gone, and some lie with the fire at the bottom of the cavity, hoping perhaps to light the Tomb aflame with their lives.

ash3.jpg

Photograph of the fire in the lower half of the cavity. Note the presence of a stone sarcophagus and 2 unidentified objects.

They are also the only ones to truly know the nature and history of the Ashen Tomb, wisdom they refuse to share. They insist that the Tomb is “different” from what most explorers see in it, but are only capable of claiming that “the flame makes all stories alike in ash”.

Commerce of food and clothing is viable through the Gravekeepers, but will require an exorbitant amount of resources; as the Ashen Tomb’s only natural resource is weapons and armor, food is logically hard to acquire for those that live in it. Instead, commerce of food in exchange for implements for combat is much easier.

They are friendly with the lost wanderer and the beggar; wounded and ravenous men are taken care of and given gray robes before being sent on their way, often with depressing tales and fables to guide them across the ashen wasteland.


COLONIES AND OUTPOSTS:


Eastern Gravekeeper Settlement:

Characterized by a larger house-dome with a marketplace, the Eastern Gravekeeper Settlement is the easier way to acquire weapons from the Ashen Tomb. Food, clothing, and building materials commonly do the bartering trick, but supplies tend to eventually run low. While the Tomb appears to eventually replenish itself, it is still important to take price hikes into account when taking the time to travel to the Tomb. Sometimes, only bullets and gunpowder may be enough.

The Eastern Gravekeeper Settlement is stocked with guns and cannons that never see use, yet are not for sale. It is unknown to any Archivists why this is the case; no inhabitants of the Eastern Settlement are known to have ever engaged in hostilities with inhabitants of the Collapsing System or vice versa.

Southern Gravekeeper Settlement:

Adjacent to the entry from the Wayside Island limspace. Considerably more hostile to strangers than the Eastern Gravekeeper Settlement, and will attempt to discourage entry to the Ashen Tomb proper. They most often ignore or actively hamper travelers, unless assured that one is not attempting to pillage the Tomb’s mounds.

Commerce is rarer with the Southern Gravekeeper Settlement, but still possible. Prices are considerably lower, but any attempt at pillaging the Tomb will invoke the silent hostility of the Southern Gravekeepers.

It is highly unadvised to enter the cavity directly after passing through the Southern Gravekeeper Settlement, as they are known to hunt down any visitors that enter the Tomb with the intention of acquiring weaponry and armor. However, such a tendency can be exploited; by causing the Southern Gravekeepers to attack other travelers, the Ashen Tomb may be indirectly lit aflame, potentially creating new mounds and sarcophagi, as well as gaining the opportunity to witness one of the most beautiful sights of the Collapsing System.

Belltower:

A common place of rest for tired travelers of the Collapsing System. Cozy campfires and calm folk may be found here, at the risk of being robbed while distracted. Archivists Jonathan and Espert have set up a small laboratory in its basement, complete with a Precursor Terminal. While they are willing to receive other Archivists, they have asked that they not do so if possible, in order to preserve their outpost (and the invaluable Terminal) from other inhabitants of the Collapsing System.

The nature and origin of the Beltower are uncertain; resisting all fire from the cavity for years on end without any sign of damage. Curious travelers have observed that the Belltower is made of a unique kind of rock covered by a softer layer of cinders. While brittle and thus harder to mold than normal rock or metal, certain Archivists are more than certain that the Belltower rock must have a possible use, if only as a flame retardant material.

Past Settlements and Outposts:

It is believed that the Ashen Tomb once held many more inhabitants and settlements, as potentially evidenced by the modern implements that are occasionally found within its sarcophagi.

Long before the rediscovery of the Archivist Intranet, it is certain a Precursor group held the northern side of the cavity, as evidenced by the remains of a scorched outpost and various technological devices that are occasionally discovered. However, it is believed that the outpost in question was destroyed after the Tomb was set aflame.

ash4.jpg

Burning of early Archivist outpost.

A second group, known only by name and rumours spread between the inhabitants of the Collapsing System, had taken residence in the Ashen Tomb in recent times. Self-named the “Tomb Protectors”, these were independent natives that had supposedly taken immense respect for the remains inside the cavity, vowing to protect them from scavengers.

The Protectors were the only known group to attempt to catalogue and organize the ancient history of the Ashen Tomb; all of their rumoured archives, if they ever existed, have been lost. What exactly drew the group to disbanding or destruction is unknown.

There is significant evidence for the presence of other, older settlements within the cavity. Ancient cinderblocks and pieces of elaborately-decorated stone are routinely recovered by natives and Archivists that happen to stumble upon them. Attempts to date or identify them have been so far unsuccessful; these are merely considered historical curiosities, although ones of significant value. Some natives claim to have encountered human bones throughout the Ashen Tomb, but rarely do they have proof of the discovery.


ENTRANCES AND EXITS


Entrances:

Note: The Tomb cannot be accessed from outside the Collapsing Liminal System. A guide for the shortest access routes has been attached below.

  • Through the Catacombs of Wayside Island; leads to the Southern Gravekeeper Settlement.
  • Through the Outer Dark Corridor; leads to variable locations outside the cavity.
  • Through a floodgate in the Tower limspace; leads to the rock cliffs in the distance of the Tomb. It is strongly suggested to supply yourself with a durable light source if attempting entry through this entrance, as the cliffs are several kilometers away from the cavity. Theoretically works as an exit, but it has not yet been attempted.
  • Unknown entry used by a migrating group from the Tower limspace. It is possible that the unstable nature of the Collapsing Liminal System entirely destroyed it.

Exits:

  • Through a mound in the lower half of the cavity, leading either to the Lake or outside the Collapsing System. Note that it may not always exist.


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