Elf-Gates

I fear the day the Gates become our only escape. It will come, and I pray we are ready when it does.
— priest of Alseta
  Elf-gates, known as aiudara in Elven, are large stone portals crafted by ancient elven immigrants under the guidance of Alseta, elven goddess of doorways and paths. The art of their creation is a closely-held secret that even the elves barely retain, though it is said that Alseta whispers the secret to any truly in need of it.  

History

There is no way of knowing how long truly ancient aiudara have existed, such as the one at the centre of Melaeden that first brought the elven race to Istralar. Elven lore describes a history full of past home worlds, each befalling a dark fate that has allowed them precious little time to flee: the legend of Verti Xi'corie holds a tale of their most recent loss, over seven millennia into the past. Some scholars - across all races, not elves alone - have posited that they may have existed prior to Seren's creation of the elves, even; others hold that Desna herself made way for the aiudara.   Whatever the truth, the aiudara exist and the elves survive alongside them.

Utility

If the tales told in elven legend and history are true, elf-gates serve as the elven means of travel between countries and entire worlds. Each gate is linked to a nexus and thus can transport the elves across large spans of distance, but only if the correct key to the corresponding gate is possessed - if a key has been lost, only the will of the gods can typically assist in getting to the otherwise-abandoned partner gate.   Activating an elf-gate is simple, so long as one possesses a key. Using the key on the gate - by saying it or touching the key to the gate, depending on the form of key - causes the gate's archway to fill with glittering light of a colour appropriate to the destination selected. It may then be passed through by any wishing to go to destination in question, and deactivates after a short period of inactivity.

Manufacturing

New elf-gates are an arduous endeavour, and only hold sparks of the immense power held in the truly ancient aiudara. Modern gates are constructed by the Kingdom of the Galasthin Elves almost exclusively, with the nine Noble Houses holding nine secrets to their creation whilst the tenth lies with the throne. Despite the concerted effort that goes into their construction, newer elf-gates only work across the surface of Istralar; it has been alleged that deific intervention preventing access to Terra Arcana pre-Worldrend is responsible for this change.  
I wonder... do you think a Champion could make a true aiudara...?
— scholar of the Alu'thaniel
Access & Availability
Modern-day elf-gates can be found in large elven civilisations both above-ground and in the Underdark, as well as scattered around ancient ruins and forgotten places. Only one truly ancient aiudara of greater power is known of upon Istralar, and it lies in a heavily-defended crystalline garden at the centre of Galasthin's capital.   Examples of modern elf-gates can be seen at the Tower of Sathelis, Ilendras, and scattered throughout Galasthin. One exists within the Sunari Wilderness, though its key has since been lost to time, and another within the halls of Jäätta that has similarly been lost.   Various other settlements possess elf-gates, but rarely do they understand how to activate the ancient constructions.  
Our people live because of the aiudara. We prosper thanks to their gift. This, we must not forget.
— druid of the Querei


Cover image: Elf-Gate by Hanhula via Flowscape & Affinity Photo w/ credit to Buddy_Nath on Pixabay

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