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The Grotto

Lida's family walked together in a comfortable silence al the way to the doors of the Grotto. Her mother took a deep breath and then pushed the heavy doors open. The fragrances of the temple's altars wafted over the group as they entered the softly illuminated space. The hush of others was all around her.

The Grotto is the main temple of Aidona. Here, all of the major Deep deities are represented with their own alcoves, furnished with altars and appropriate decorations. Because each deity has its own standards concerning appropriate worship, the altars receive different levels of care and are visited at different times on different days.


The Grotto is built into the side of the cavern's southern wall. It began as a small cave but has over time been expanded and carved out to fit the needs of the hub's populace.

The Grotto is accessible by a single large entrance. It protrudes out from the wall by about ten feet, creating a small entrance hall that is ten feet deep and around the same width and height, with a rounded roof. The entire entrance hall is built from stacked flat stones taken from the mines, including the roof. Large gaps between the stones are plugged with pebbles and small rocks, but as yet the walls are not airtight. The doors to the entryway are heavy and made of wood, although they were originally constructed out of stone slabs that were pulled and pushed along stone tracks in the floor. The wooden doors were adopted after the Breaching, when it became clear that the very heavy stone doors were an obstacle to some Aidonians. Because wood is not readily found in the Deep, these doors were very expensive and are very carefully preserved and tended to prevent a need for replacement for a very long time.

Two stone pillars on either side of this entryway are topped with mage lanterns, marking for passerby the importance of the building. These pillars have been carved with scenes from the history of the Deep and of Aidona. One pillar is completely carved from base to top, but work has only recently started on carving the other one. They are a symbol of not only the hub's history, but a reminder that the present is also its own history and that it is continuing to unfold.

Inside the Grotto, the space opens up quite a bit. The ceiling of the main room stretches nearly thirty feet from the floor, which has been carefully smoothed and flattened to prevent stumbles. The room itself is about sixty feet long and twenty feet wide, giving quite a lot of room for Aidonians to walk around. On each of the long sides of the room, there are three smaller alcoves carved into the walls. Each of these contains an altar for one of the six major Deep deities. The far wall has a larger alcove carved into it, whose altar is more multipurpose and can be used to honor the more minor Deep deities or even surface deities, although this is more rare.

There are two side passages in the Grotto near the far wall. The left passage leads to the attendants' quarters, where the appointed temple attendants live. There are three furnished private rooms and a larger main room shared by all of the attendants. The right passage leads to a private prayer room, which can be used by asking a temple attendant. It is larger than the alcoves and has access to groundwater in one corner. This private prayer room is usually used for more specialized ceremonies that demand privacy or concentration. It can also be used for when an Aidonian wishes to go into deep prayer or meditation and requires a quiet, private space in which to do so.

There is a small shop stand across the roadway from the entrance to the Grotto. This is the Grotto's shop and sells many of the basic prayer components for use at the altars inside. This includes incense mixes, prayer tablets, and scrolls on which to write prayers.


The Grotto was first used after the hub was established in 1088. It was originally one small cave that extended into the wall of the main cavern, which made it a convenient place to go for privacy during prayer. In AV 1098, the Grotto was officially named and construction began on the entrance hall, which took several cycles to complete. Once the population of the hub began growing and more folk with different primary deities began to arrive, it was necessary to expand the cave and add space for the needs of the newcomers. It took a long time to carve out extra room, about fifteen years, because most workers were diverted to the main mines to look for valuable resources.

Once the main cavern itself had been carved out, altars were set up along the walls. It soon became clear, however, that the space was quite crowded with everyone in the same space, so work began to add alcoves for each altar, making more space on the main cavern floor. This setup worked well until after the Breaching, when surface folk began to trickle down. Many surface folk who stayed for an extended period in Aidona wanted a dedicated place to pray, but there was no room in the Grotto at that time to support additional altars.

As more surface folk began to live in Aidona, calls for an expansion to the Grotto became louder. Even some Deepfolk, many of whose primary deities were minor and not represented in the Grotto, joined the cry for better representation in the Grotto. Just before Aidona was sealed off, the current lord and her council finally met to discuss this issue. They knew that it would not be acceptable to simply ignore the rising outcry, as it could lead to instability in the hub and lower public opinion about its leadership, but the council determined that it was also not reasonable to expect a dedicated altar to each and every deity, as there were countless deities and the addition of surface folk only added to this. Eventually, after much deliberation, the council agreed to fund the construction of a large alcove whose altar would be used for any minor or surface deity. The construction occurred while the hub was sealed off and took two years to complete. Although this satisfied the advocates for an expansion, in recent years a new campaign has emerged to allow consideration for the construction of altars for deities who had a sufficient number of followers in the hub. The council has yet to meet on this topic.

Founding Date
AV 1098
Temple / Religious complex
Parent Location

The Altars


The Deep deity of rocks and gems, Kivanh holds a special place among many mine workers. As such, it is most frequented just before a shift change in the mines, when incoming miners begin their weeks-long shifts in the mines. This altar takes the form of a tall, intricately carved and decorated statue of one of the depictions of Kivanh. Two stone pillars on either side of the statue support small stone bowls into which coins and small gemstones are placed along with a prayer. The eyes on the statue are made from carved blue gemstones in the traditional style of Deep deity depictions. Before the statue sits a shallow ceramic platter into which the sacred incense of Kivanh is placed. This incense is sold at the temple's shop. Some visitors to the altar hang stone prayer tablets on hooks carved onto the statue.


As the Deep deity of light and pathfinding, many visitors to Aidona will spend some time at this altar before they leave. Many Aidonians also visit this altar on a regular basis to give thanks for the light. The altar is a large upright stone panel, on which eight half-bowls are set. Each is inscribed with the symbol of an eye, and some visitors report a feeling that all of the eyes are watching them. These bowls are set in a ring surrounding a central, larger bowl, carved with the image of a closed eye. A mage lantern is cupped in each of the bowls. A set of four hand-shaped bowls at the foot of the panel receives offerings. These offerings often take the place of dried food, prayer scrolls, and the occasional coin. An incense brazier on the ground in front of the statue holds cones of incense, lit by petitioners. There is also a large urn next to the panel into whose spout some visitors pour a small amount of oil. The oil is used in a ceremony each year, where it is burned while those who honor Tykais walk through the smoke as a form of receiving blessing.


In Aidona, the altar of Zykais receives fewer visitors that the altar to the deity of darkness's twin, Tykais. It is mostly frequented by Aidonians and visitors who favor the calm of darkness to the harsh realities of light. Others visit simply out of fear, to prevent the deity from haunting their next trip outside the safety of light. The altar is a misshapen, black pedestal on which an iron mask wrought in the visage of Zykais is affixed. The alcove is separated from the main cavern by a heavy curtain. A phosphorescent paint is regularly applied to the mask to give it a faintly glowing outline and to prevent anyone from walking into the altar itself. The paint is also applied to the four hand-shaped bowls which receive offerings, usually prayer tablets, pieces of dried foods, or coins. Because of the heavy curtain, the space is too enclosed to light incense, and instead an incense brazier hangs on the wall of the main room next to the alcove's opening.


Khelmeeshe is a very popular deity, as she is said to be the creator of the Deepfolk and the first deity of the Deep. She is also the deity of fortune. The altar of Khelmeeshe is a stone statue of a woman, albeit a very rough shape. Two of the outstretched hands of the statue hold bowls into which visitors deposit coins, gems, and other bits of wealth. Prayer tablets are hung from the fingers of the other two hands. Incense burns in a small dish at the feet of the statue. Khelmeeshe is often visited by merchants and folk who are making important decisions regarding their careers or businesses.


The deity of fire and magma, Ikhmir is not often the primary deity of Deepfolk, although it is honored by most. It is visited most often by those who use heat and fire in their lines of work, including smiths and cooks. Its alcove contains a three-tiered altar. The highest tier holds an incense burner and two mage lanterns which glow with an orange-yellow light. The middle tier has three bowls into which small offerings can be placed such as prayer tablets, coins, and food offerings. Into the lowest tier is carved a coal brazier, into which visitors may drop prayer scrolls. These scrolls are burnt on the hot coals, and the smoke is inhaled by the one making the prayer, said to be a way of bringing the blessings closer to one's inner heat.


The deity of ice, the altar of Eitas is not regularly visited given Aidona's position in Mid Deep, which is not a particularly cold part of the Deep. As a major deity, however, it is still given an altar, which is mostly visited by folk whose ancestry is from Lower Deep.Its altar is a statue of the deity, which resembles an icy pillar and is built from a white stone. It has a pillar on either side with a bowl carved into the top of each, where offerings of light-colored stones, coins, and silver nuggets are placed. There is no incense used for the altar of Eitas, but prayer tablets can be hung from the statue's body.

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