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Lighthouse of the Winds

"Banners of Light led the way up the steep mountainside, brilliant and bright even in the shine of the sun. But the source of our guidance, divine as it felt, declined to be known to us. Alas, it faded away on the winds, as we came to reach the top of the grand plateau."
- Where the Dawn Rests

Summary

The Lighthouse of the Winds is supposedly a landmark that appears only during times of great change. The building is described several different ways, but always contains the key fixtures of a tower with a great light at its peak. Some reports of the lighthouse seem anachronistic, given the advent of the lenses used in some lighthouses now are a relatively recent development.   The Lighthouse has become a fable as much as a rumored historical event. The lighthouse keeper is said to be able to see through the hearts of whomever visits, and is often featured in novels as an archetype of sorts. The last historical reference of the Lighthouse and its keeper promised that at its next appearing, a path would be carved back to those who were lost.   This has been interpreted most commonly as an apocalypse or the return of the departed souls.

Historical Basis

The Lighthouse is documented as appearing when Orela sought where to found his capital city - gleaming from the top of a mountain far in the distance, and leading him to the plateau where he would eventually found Dawnfall. Orela's memoirs and diaries make little mention of the Lighthouse's physical appearance, though he does say it seemed to 'blow away on the wind' as he approached.   Ahera made reference to a Lighthouse in her writings as well, though its debated whether those references were meant to be callbacks to what was by then an increasingly common metaphor, or actual observances.

Variations & Mutation

Physical descriptions of the Lighthouse have been given, though most are considered to be inventions of later retellings. Some say the stones are weathered, others clean and new-cut, some claim the building is of wood instead or a material yet unknown. A few refer to it as a Cloud come to earth.   Around Dawnfall, the Lighthouse is considered more factual than mythical, and the Lighthouse Keeper a divine prophet associated with Elder Sister, Ama.   In Eastern Lialin, particularly around the coast, the Lighthouse is accepted as likely an optical illusion of some kind or mistranslation, but still honored.   In Western Lialin, the region now mostly Theolin, the Lighthouse is a dream figure. The regional variations of stories in this region are the most fantastical, including the cloud-tower version of the tale.   What has not changed, however, are the Lighthouse Keeper's parting words, when they speak at all.  
"When I return again, it will be to carve a path back to those who were lost."
- Keeper of Lighthouse of Winds
  Still others interpret the Lighthouse Keeper as a sort of ferryman, guiding the dead through the winds. This makes the Keeper's final prophecy all the more concerning for those who believe it references the living - and peaceful for those who believe it references the dead.

Cultural Reception

The residents of Dawnfall often construct important buildings - such as government buildings, the homes of the particularly influential, and temples (particularly those to the Sun Sisters) - in the image of the Lighthouse. Given the different ways lighthouses can be constructed and the vagaries of descriptions available, there's quite a degree of variance.   Nobility in other regions sometimes follow suit, though to less extreme degrees.   It has also become the source of several sayings, such as 'when the lost winds return' for something that will never happen, or 'a Lighthouse promise' to refer to an empty threat or promise of aid.

In Literature

The Lighthouse and its Keeper are an archetype and expected reference in literature across Lialin. Heroes consult the Lighthouse Keeper before their final battles, or go on grand quests to find and seek the Keeper's wisdom.   It is also, in some forms, used to disparage writing skills. Calling some development or tool in a story the 'Lighthouse' of the tale is similar to calling it a deus ex machina, or impossible resolution.
Date of First Recording
References as early as 300 B.F.
Date of Setting
Unknown

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Cover image: by Zac Cain

Comments

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Grandmaster PBE
William Belley
2 Jul, 2021 03:48

Woah that was a nice read. the anachronistic details on the structure makes it feels like it plane shift through time and space by itself, which is nice. and the change of symbols in the settlement nearby is a great cultural idea.   Happy SummerCamp!