Abbey of the Unceasing Tide
From the soaring, limestone walls of its central spire, to the winding corridors and sea-water filled reflecting pools of the tunnels beneath, the Abbey of the Unceasing Tide is a monument to the sea. Its name is, in truth, a historical artifact that does not reflect modern reality. Modern reality is that this "Abbey" is one of the grandest temples in the world, built up by the incalculable wealth of first the Empire of the Sea, and then its successor, the Dokhar League.
Purpose / Function
The original purpose of the Abbey was to serve as a place for practitioners of the Andokh Ren—a spiritual and magical practice dedicated to the sea—to hone a more intimate connection with the ocean, when their previous fascilities on Lo Dokh became unsuitable with the expansive growth of the cities on that island. This expanded to include the training new acolytes in the Andokh Ren, after its practice coalesced under the monastic Order of the Unceasing Tide. However, following the loss of the entirety of Lo Dokh after the War of Shadow, and the resultant transfer of the Order's headquarters to the Abbey, as well as the growth of the city of Myh Dokh around the Abbey, the Abbey itself became unsuitable, just as the facilities on Lo Dokh had before it. The training of new acolytes fell to other facilities, and a cave system was expanded those who did not require absolute isolation, but from then on the primary purpose of the Abbey was to act as the primary administrative center for the Order, in turn making it the center of Dokhar religion.
The majority of the Abbey's alterations over its history have been expansions. That is, constructing additional facilities to serve the same purposes as the old, in tandem with the old—dormitories and meditation chambers. As the population living in the abbey grew, new kitchen and dining facilities were constructed when the old were no longer large enough to accommodate the growth, with the old being repurposed. Following the War of Shadow, the vast majority of rooms in the Abbey were repurposed, but little of the existing architecture was changed. That having been said, more was added—the caves below the Abbey were expanded to create new meditation chambers, the Hall of Tomes was built to hold writing of all kinds, and new dormitories were constructed.
The structure of the Abbey consists chiefly of flowing curves cut wholly from limestone. The original Abbey building, in the center, has its rooms arranged in a spiral, in an imitation of the shell of a nautilus, with a courtyard at the very center. At the center of this courtyard is a five story tower, supported by its incredibly thick walls. The Abbey's numerous expansions came in two varoeties: adding on to the spiral, which progressed until the building reached the edge of the cliff it had been built on, and digging new rooms beneath existing ones. These new rooms were primarily cut out of an existing cave system, the highest point of which was just a few meters below the surface, and lowest point was well below sea level. The highest of these rooms included dormitories and the Hall of Tomes, which holds scripture, memoirs, and records of both the Order of the Unceasing Tide and the Dokhar League. The majority of the Abbey's subterranean rooms, however, are dedicated to meditation chambers, which are circular, domed, and sparse, being unadorned save for a reflecting pool at the center. These are connected by a long and winding corridor, which closely follows the path of the preexisting cave system it was cut from. Deep in the Abbey, at the point where the hallway reaches sea level, is a large wrought iron door, past which are the Abbey's Dark Rooms. The candles used to navigate the rest of the Abbey are forbidden after this point, and the only persons permitted to pass are those sufficiently advanced in the techniques of Andokh Ren that they can navigate exclusively using their connection to the waves and the tides. The Dark Rooms contain yet more meditation rooms, their reflecting pools exclusively containing seawater. The deepest part of the Abbey, at the bottom of the Dark Rooms, is the room containing the Pool of Sacrifice. The Pool of Sacrifice is a large pool connected to the ocean by underwater caves, and is central to the most important rites of the Order of the Unceasing Tide.
As the practice of Andokh Ren—"Heartbeat of Waters"—brought wealth and prosperity to the Seven Cities of Lo Dokh, some of its practitioners grew to desire a place where they could hone their spiritual connection to the sea, somewhere far from the indeterminate rhythms of city life, where they could focus exclusively on the unceasing rhythm of the tide. It was to this end that the Abbey of the Unceasing Tide was built, east of Lo Dokh, on top of a seaside cliff on the mainland of the continent of Munuth. An order of priests was founded to tend to the maintenance of the Abbey, called, fittingly, the Order of the Unceasing Tide. As the Order of the Unceasing Tide grew to dominate religious life on Lo Dokh, the Abbey became central to the training of its Acolytes, and it was expanded so that it could fulfill its initial purpose—to provide a place where practitioners of Andokh Ren could grow closer to the sea—for more people, most of whom were less experienced than the Abbey's original inhabitants. To maintain the Abbey's relative isolation, the headquarters of the Order was moved to Lo Dokh, specifically to the City of Kalokh Soro. Over the next few centuries, the Abbey itself would grow, as the influence of the Order grew with the Dokhar Empire of the Sea, but its purpose would remain unaltered until the War of Shadow. The opening act of the War was Khoron Lodovar, a Spirit of the Green, raising up the wilderness on the island of Lo Dokh to overrun its Seven Cities, effectively wiping out the administration of the Empire of the Sea, leaving the survivors to turn to what remained of the Order of the Unceasing Tide. The Order's surviving leadership directed the refugees to the largest location remaining to them: The Abbey of the Unceasing Tide. Over night, the refugees poured in, and the Abbey became the headquarters both of the Order, and of the fight against the forces of Enthroned Shadow, avatar of the mighty Vassar, in the Empire's former territory. When the Enthroned Shadow was destroyed, and the War was won, the semi-permanent refugee camps that had been built around the Abbey had already been replaced by permanent structures, as people settled into new lives on the mainland. As, despite victory, Lo Dokh had not and could not be reclaimed, the Abbey's status as headquarters of the Order was made permanent. This raised questions about the purpose the Abbey had previously served. As the business of the Order was now run out of the Abbey, and the city of Myh Dokh was rapidly growing just outside its walls, it was no longer isolated from the rest of the world, and the rhythms of civilization were making it difficult for both inexperienced acolytes, and those experienced monks seeking to perfect their abilities, to focus on the rhythms of the ocean. However, in the aftermath of the War, the Order was hesitant to send its them away to a single location. Thus, the Abbey's old purpose was fulfilled by a number of new, secret abbeys, which were built on islands throughout the Shimmering Sea, and a cave system beneath the Abbey was expanded to provide a more easily accessible space for those who did not require total isolation. As what had previously been the Empire of the Sea restructured itself with Myh Dokh at its center, and with the Order of the Unceasing Tide more intimately tied into governance, the Abbey grew further still, and it settled into its modern paradigm as a center of administration and religion.