Location: Three hours outside of Three Bulls, south of Sijan
- Aspect: Solar
- Rating: •••
- Hearthstone: Gem of Grace
- Drawbacks: None
- Powers: Attunement Recognition, Basic Senses, Cosmetic Displays, Basic Conveniences (1, running water, interior lights, powered doors), Summoning Chamber (1, reduce resistance of summoned creature by Hearthstone rating), Well-Flavored Aspect (1), Bound Servitor (2, pair of bull automatons), Temple Manse (2, Unconquered Sun), Integrated Essence Artillery (3), Outside Fate (4)
The Taurean Sanctuary was a massive manse dedicated to a very specific purpose during the First Age: the indoctrination and training of young Zeniths shortly after their Exaltation. Set a half-day's travel to the east of the small farming and mining town of Three Bulls, the Sanctuary has yet to be entered by anyone in this age, for only those of the Zenith Caste may overcome and render safe the terrible safeguards erected to prevent the manse's assault.
The Taurean Sanctuary is a powerful Solar-aspected Manse. The Hearth Chamber produces a Gem of Grace, which produces mild feelings of respect and awe in those who hear the words of the speaker that bears the stone (granting +2 dice to appropriate Charisma and Manipulation checks).
- 1 Appearance
- 2 Defenses
- 3 Exterior
- 4 Interior
- 5 Level Three
- 6 Level Two
- 7 Level One
The manse itself is constructed from fine white marble that is shot through with gold veins and flecks. There is golden glass used in much of its construction as well, creating an incredibly well-lit place – the golden glass has some strange property that not only allows sunlight to pass through it quite strongly, but it amplifies and causes the light to travel, so that light that strikes the top of the manse travels down the myriad veins of the glass in the walls, illuminating it brightly.
Additionally, the light of a Solar caste-mark reacts with the golden glass so that it illuminates a room; a soft anima aura will illuminate several rooms around the Exalt, and a full bonfire anima causes the entirety of the temple to burst into light.
The lines here are sharp right angles, quite squared and blocky. Writings in Old Realm decorate flat surfaces, and carvings in the gold-veined marble are in all the corners and archways.
The defenses of the Taurean Sanctuary are detailed below. These are controlled by the wielder of the manse's Hearthstone while he is within the vicinity of the manse proper, and exist in one of two states: active and inactive. All of them are considered to be active currently.
The Bulls At the Altar
The Bulls At the Altar defend the dias, entrances to the third level and altar of the Taurean Sanctuary. Anyone who nears them activates the trap. There is the sound a growling rush of air, like the warning huff of an angry bull and the eyes of the bull statues begin to glow. Should the person in question not immediately back away, a web of white-hot fire sprouts from the caste marks of the bulls and arcs to its horns, where the flares of solar fire then leap to the horns of the other bulls, providing a defensive circle.
Those who still do not back away or come near are immediately assaulted by bolts of the solar fire, which strike with an Accuracy of 18, inflicting 10L damage (aggravated to creatures of darkness). Those who are struck by the bolts must also make a Stamina + Athletics check, (Difficulty 4) or be knocked backwards a number of yards equal to the Health Levels of damage taken x2.
Those who take a single Health Level of damage find their own virtues turning against them. They must roll their highest Virtue; if they gain any successes, that virtue refuses to allow them to press forward: Compassionate characters are overwhelmed with sorrow at the thought of entering the doors, Convicted characters consider doing so against their every code, Temperate characters consider doing so an act of rashness and Valorous characters consider drawing any nearer to be manifestly cowardly. As usual, the character may spend a Willpower point to fight that inclination (and gain Limit for doing so where appropriate).
The Bulls At the Altar may fire a single bolt once per 3 ticks, as the area becomes a ravening field of arcing atomic fire.
A Zenith Caste who draws near to the bulls, however, may roll Wits + Essence, Dif 2. Success indicates that he feels a compunction to show his caste-mark or anima as he nears. If he shows his caste-mark, the bulls do not attack him; if he shows his full anima, then anyone in the light of the anima is spared.
The Bulls At the Altar are powerful artifacts that can only be destroyed by weapons crafted of the Five Magical Materials. They immediately fire a bolt of solar fire at any being that attacks them with such an item, as a counterattack (which does not take up their normal action for the tick). They have a soak of 30B/20L and 50 Health Levels.
Note that the statues above the doors on the first floor (which are currently buried) have the same effects.
The temple's exterior is nearly completely buried beneath a pair of hills. The largest of these hills once utterly covered the main body of the temple, but erosion has worn away the top of the hill, revealing the top of the stepped pyramid and the altar of white marble and orichalcum, with its guardian winged bulls.
There are several other outbuildings currently buried under the hills, but they would have to be dug out from under the hills there in order to be accessed – there are no passages from the Sanctuary to those buildings. Some of these include an armory, several dormitories, a stables and several guest chambers, as well as an outside auditorium of white marble that saw frequent use in debates and lessons in speaking.
The Altar of Bulls
The altar sits atop the stepped pyramid proper, a powerful construction of white marble, edged in orichalcum with the symbol of the Unconquered Sun in orichalcum. Its four sides are carved with the horn, shield, lance and laurel branch, and a prominent bust of a bull's head carved of white marble, with the symbol of the Zenith caste in orichalcum on its forehead.
The dias upon which the Altar of Bulls rests is quite large, standing some eight feet tall. The steps lead directly up to it, but there are also entrances to the interior in the cardinal points of the dias. The top of the dias, upon which the altar rests, is crafted in gold glass which channels the light of the Unconquered Sun down into the temple, illuminating the entire temple at the precise zenith of the sun's travel across the daily sky.
On the four corners of the dias sit massive statues of white winged bulls with the Zenith caste-mark on their foreheads. These are the cornerstones of the Bulls At the Altar trap, below.
There are two large double doors that lead in to the main floor of the Santuary, but these are long since buried. The only entrances now are the ones that are overlooked by the great winged bull statues on the dias, guarded by the Bulls At the Altar trap.
The Hill of Bulls
The Hill of Bulls is the hill created when the Taurean Sanctuary was buried. The top of this hill has eroded away, however, leaving a bowl-like depression at the top of it. Cresting the hill, only the bulls can be seen, standing tall and majestic. Any character that gets close enough to see the actual top of the pyramid activates the Bulls At the Altar trap.
Doors: The doors to the interior are strong marble doors edged with tarnished metal. Each one of the doors is emblazoned with the Zenith caste mark in orichalcum, the center of which is inscribed the laurel (north), the spear (east), the shield (south) and the horn (west).
The doors have a Soak of 20B/14L, and 20 Health Levels
Any Zenith showing a caste-mark or anima can near the door and it will open by silent act of will. Other Solars may open it as well, but they must spend 5 motes to do so, a fact which they can ascertain by being near it and making a reflexive Dif 1 Perception + Occult roll.
These doors open by sliding silently into the wall in which they are set, revealing a short flight of steps that leads downwards.
This was originally used as a gathering and prayer chamber for the priests of the Sanctuary. It is lit from above by light through the golden glass, and has four sets of spiral staircases that lead down into the body of the temple itself. In the center is a railed opening that looks down past the second floor, all the way to the first floor. The second floor is some thirty feet away; the first floor is fully one hundred.
Originally the floor where much of the more esoteric learning went on, this is divided into four wings: the Gracious Laurel Hall, the Wondrous Spear Hall, the Stalwart Shield Hall and the Perfected Horn Halls. Each of these halls is entered through a majestic arch that features the appropriate iconography of the hall in question, from the central Sun Chamber. The name of each hall is worked into its arch in Old Realm, as well. Currently, in each of the archways stands one of the bull-automatons in their minotaur form. They awaken the minute anyone comes within sight of them.
The Gracious Laurel Hall
This hall is quite simply the dining chambers of the Taurean Sanctuary. Here can be found the remnants of a massive and impressive table, obviously destroyed through terrible violence. The moldering remnants of three corpses can be found here, protected against absolute rot by the sealing of the temple. One of them is wedged under the table, while the other is slumped against the wall. The third lies in two pieces near the door.
Likewise, the kitchens bear the remnants of four corpses, all of them obviously killed with great power.
The Wondrous Spear Hall
This massive room sits with its doors hanging open, and it features a vast array of shelves standing free in the center of the room. They obviously once held scrolls and books of some kind, but those that were not burned to ash have long since disintegrated. Three corpses can be found here, as well.
The Stalwart Shield Hall
This hall was obviously a dojo of some kind, with rotted woven reed mats on the floor and impressive carvings on the walls of a martial nature. It was obviously the site of an incredible battle as well, for there is significant damage to the walls from what appear to be either weapon strikes or even possibly barehanded blows. This place has the remains of two corpses.
The Perfected Horn Halls
These halls are actually two chambers. They bear identical doors, which were sealed in a manner similar to those above. The doors bear the emblazon of a horn – the northern door's horn curved downwards and is placed above the pentagram sigil that is the occult sign for the Five Elements, and thus, Creation.
The southern door features a horn curved upwards, with an inverted pentagram above it – the marking for things inimical but in mockery of Creation: normally, the infernal.
Each of these chambers has remained unsealed since the assault that killed everyone in the Sanctuary. The northern chamber is decorated quite spartanly. In the center of the room is a circle crafted of orichalcum and jade of the five colors. The walls are decorated with all manner of strange ideograms, diagrams, sigils and bas relief stories.
The southern chamber is, in many ways, the polar opposite of the northern one. This is decorated with all manner of luxurious furnishings, including some that look more like torture instruments. The decorations upon the walls in here are horrors, pure and simple – depictions of demons in their favorite acts of degradation and torture are featured here, as are strange engravings of words that seem to echo in the mind when they are read.
The circle here is crafted of orichalcum and some kind of strange greenish brass, and set with dark black and blood-red stones.
Like the first chamber, this one is an artifact designed to better summon demons; additionally, it has two spells woven into the fabric of its mad décor – Demon of the First Circle and Corrupted Words.
The first floor of the Taurean Sanctuary saw much of the general day-to-day activity of the place. It is utterly massive, over a hundred yards on a side (though the actual pyramid itself is much, much larger).
This floor is a veritable charnel house, as well – it is obvious that much of the original fighting occurred here. Moldering corpses about, especially in the conference rooms off the Hearthstone Chamber, for many of the dead were dragged there by the few remaining gods that dwelled here in the last days of the First Age, as the place was being buried. They are laid out and covered in burial shrouds.
There are four of the Taurean Automatons on this level, one standing in the arch that leads to each of the four wings. Additionally, should one of them be destroyed, the massive dais in the center of the room shimmers, and another automaton appears, summoned from Elsewhere to defend the manse. There are only two remaining automatons in Elsewhere, however.
The hearthstone chamber of the Taurean Sanctuary is also the main temple. In the center of the room is a massive orichalcum dais, with a statue of the Unconquered Sun standing upon it. There is some strange enchantment upon it that makes it seem that one is facing the front of the statue regardless of where one is actually standing around it.
The statue itself is some twenty feet tall, and resplendent in orichalcum, jade and shining steel. The figure wears a kilt and breastplate, and carries the four sacred symbols of the Unconquered Sun in each of his four hands: the laurel, the shield, the spear and the horn.
In the center of his forehead, where a caste-mark would be were he an Exalt, is the Hearthstone of the Taurean Sanctuary.
The large conference chambers used for large meetings and councils are empty of furniture (long since destroyed) and now serve as makeshift tombs for a large number of corpses, which are lined up in rows, and covered with gigantic white and golden funereal shrouds that obviously used to be tapestries of some kind.
Chief Priest's Chambers and Offices
The furniture in the office is in ruins – what was obviously a great and terrible battle took place here, and the walls are bleached utterly white. The blows being struck here were so powerful and Essence-laden that where men struck walls, they left after-shadows like the black images in the vision after one gazes at the sun.
The living quarters of the Chief Priest are likewise demolished, as the battle continued through the door and into here. The furniture here was obviously of incredibly high quality.
These were the living quarters of the under-priests assigned to the Sanctuary. Though smaller than the Chief Priest's chambers, they were still quite obviously opulent. These have the running water basins that still work, as well as the small water-closets, that also function.
These are obviously large ritual chambers of some kind. The center of each of these is an elaborate raised altar upon which sacrifices could be made, with channels that run down into a small baptismal font. From the carvings on the walls, some kind of Mystery tradition was practiced here, one that likely involved the sacrifice of bulls, but the details are unclear.
The Inner Sanctuary is smaller than the other areas and completely bare. When the doors are opened, it can be illuminated normally, though it lacks the golden glass piping within that marks the rest of the temple. The walls within are utterly bleached white, however – indeed, the bleaching goes so deep that the top several inches of the stone are transluscent. Once the door is sealed, however, no light can shine within it, even that caused by a Solar's anima.
In ancient times, it was used by the Zeniths as part of their initiation ceremony. After ingesting hallucinogens and engaging in fervent prayer while being anointed with the blood of a sacrificed bull, they were tucked away into the inner sanctuary.
For many, they simply remained in the grip of powerful hallucinogens while they communed with the Unconquered Sun – but for some, they were gifted with a visitation from the Unconquered Sun himself, whose radiance was so powerful that it bleached the walls utterly.
The library was obviously utterly ransacked and then burnt, in its entirety. There are many corpses here as well, that were obviously thrown into the fires as they raged herein.
The wooden seats here and the large marble podium were destroyed utterly by fighting – marks on the walls that indicate the presence of Essence-driven battle are very present.
These chambers are untouched. Each of them has a full-length pad of fine woven material upon which one might sit or lay and the light brought into these chambers from overhead is great, indeed, akin to sitting beneath the noon-day sun on a desert mountain for long periods.