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The Altar of Antiquity

Kyris put the latest issue of Sauvage down with a sigh. "This is the sort of article that makes me feel outdated. The wilds are supposed to be 'wild', but this jaunty stroll through the woods and hills is all the rage now. The wilds have been tamed, so anyone with a pack and a sturdy pair of boots can spend a week traipsing through the countryside just for fun."   "Maybe that's just a sign you did your job?" The pub they were drinking at had a bag of peanuts at every table; Alistair was working his way through the pile. "Isn't it a good thing nobody's afraid of bear or aurochs attacks?"   "The animals, yes, the attitudes not really." Kyris took a long drink from her cocktail before unfolding the journal to a page, pointing at the illustration. "This is the Altar of Antiquity I mentioned a while ago. Not much there anymore, some worn down stones, but the very idea of something that predates all known civilization and is lost to living memory should evoke reverence, at least a little bit. Now it's just another point of interest on the trail next to the funny looking tree and the stream crossing."   Alistair shook his head. "There's no obvious reason to me why we should be reverent for old things, just because they're old. The skapet system was old, and I don't think anyone wants that nonsense back. I vastly prefer being here in the Capital instead of scratching the dirt back in Low Timbers."   "True enough, but we're careening in the opposite tack. This altar was important to someone or something, whoever made it thousands of years ago, but now it's just another place to take a look or sit down before whatever bored noble continues on their moderately pointless journey of self-discovery, before writing some fluff piece for the Standard about their enlightenment through hiking." Kyris downed her drink with a grimace. "I don't know. I just feel like people are getting more and more self-absorbed, as though Progress is only in the self and not society as a whole."   The wizard had eaten the last peanut in the bag. "I'm pretty cynical when it comes to stuff like this. I doubt the folks back then were reverential either. They were probably as venal, self-absorbed, and dull as the average Etoilean today. We just have better records of it. If this Altar was that important, it was on them to leave a more-lasting record in some way about its significance."

Purpose / Function

The Altar of Antiquity is an ancient ruin site at the summit of Grey Mountain, the tallest point on the continent of West Saibh (though Grey Mountain itself pales in comparison to the true mountains found in the archipelagoes on East Saibh). They are merely mysterious stonework ruins to modern Etoile; researchers from The Academy of Etoile have recorded the etchings and inscriptions, but they are simply too worn to be of any real use in analysis. The Altar is merely a marker point for hikers summiting Grey Mountain while on a pleasure hike, and posted signage identifies the ruins as protected under Principality of Etoile law.   The true inscriptions, well over five thousand years old, describe the creation of the Saibh continent. The Altar itself was the site of a summoning ritual, potentially magical in nature, that literally raised the continent out from under the waves. That ritual is a Conceptual Object of Creus, though the altar of the ritual is merely a marker of the location in use.


The ruined area of the Altar has been weathered by the elements for thousands of years. Grey Mountain is subject to heavy thunderstorms and high winds; the weather is likely responsible for the deterioration of the etchings on the altar's sides.


The Altar and its surroundings are all highly regular stonework - a spherical altar flanked by two parallel rows of large, square columns (though the corners have been worn down by time). Its age precludes any assignment to any particular architectural era.


The Altar of Antiquity has been a known ruin since prehistory, with several legends and myths focused on it. The majority of these tales were cautionary and superstitious in nature; most travelers heading to the summit of Grey Mountain heeded these myths and did not linger, though some took the opposite tack and rubbed the stones for good luck.   The founding of the Principality of Etoile led to an expedition to the Altar from The Academy of Etoile. The Altar was recorded in drawings from multiple angles and charcoal inscriptions of the markings were taken, but the Altar was considered too degraded to be worthy of particular conservation. Guides to through-hikers of the West Saibh central range all note the Altar as a waypoint and convenient shelter spot. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the buildup of trash in the area, as hikers wrongly assume that the area around the Altar is maintained by the local councils or the District Commander.


Pleasure-hiking is a new pasttime in the Principality of Etoile and has been extremely popular in outdoors-focused journals in the Etoile Capital City such as Sauvage. This has resulted in parties of young adventurers commonly transiting the area, following the Saibh 'through-hike' trail across the continent over a series of weeks. While Grey Mountain is not particularly steep and a road for Power-Wagons could be constructed to the summit, the lack of a charging resource nearby has made this prospect unlikely.
Pre-historical, prior to 0PH
Founding Date
Parent Location

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Aug 24, 2022 11:48 by sointex

Best opening to any of the lost monument entries I've read so far. It felt like I was there, and I wanted to spend more time in that scene and the world. Thank you for participating in SC22!

Aug 26, 2022 06:36

My pleasure! It's my goal that the world I'm writing is somewhere where people would love to spend a good amount of time. Thank you for reading.