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The Great Temple of Tonatuih

by hughpierre

Purpose / Function

A multi-purpose building meant to dominate the skyline from even very far-away. It was to serve as:-
  • the tallest sacrificial site
  • the heart of the city's water management
  • the place to hold court
  • the home for foreign dignitaries to stay in luxury
  • the official residence of the emperor
  Currently, it can only serve 4 out of its 5 intended purposes. A rare moment of over-engineering made the raised platform too high away from the crowed plaza to be a practical stage. The Sang have had many sites dedicated to sacrifices; especially so, within the Sacred Precinct.


The design of the great temple has taken inspirations from the great structures and traditions of the valley. Construction is divided into three tiers: -

Moon Stone Base

A circular limestone base that forms the foundation to the tiers above it. Standing seven stories above ground; it is extraly braced by columns and wedges of basalt and granite against an ever-growing mound of black sand, porous rock and sharp gravel. During the construction phase; this rising island pushed up and out, helping to aggrandize the Moon Base by necessity and by itself become a pricy project. There is little room left for an interior; except for long, winding and narrowing passages, for both men and water, and maze through restricted treasure rooms and hidden prison cells.   It stands 200 feet and partly submerged between three stony islands that help in stabilizing the base for the additional tiers. The base's rock and stone construction is covered in black glass tiles forged by the glassmakers in Ocumtit from the moon pieces of condemned buildings and the torn ground. It is from this glass that the foundation gets its name; and has the effect of drinking the sunlight during the day and releasing it at night in a menagerie of brilliant but subtle colours.  

Prison of the Gods

The God Prison got its name from the many, many plundered depictions of Gods of conquered cities that used to live in the city center but now rest in the Precinct. Surrounding them are the rust red bones of their former worshipers. Using the bones of your enemies to build the tangible symbol of your power sends a message. Using the bones of an idol's followers to enshrine that idol comes across as mocking the God; as some have criticized.   Regardless, the ancient carcasses are made firm and rigid, preserved in cinnabar, knotted together by the limbs and stacked atop each other with the front facing the public in 5x5 columns, 45 feet tall. The cinnabar grants the slain the blood red stain they are known for and seeps deep into their bones. So even when patches of skin fall off, the hollow insides do not break with the colour scheme.   It is reputedly unsettling, even to the adjusted, to be watched by the dead in this manner. Especially so, when visiting ambassadors are given the most luxurious apartments with all the amenities in the world and a corner of bloody skulls towering over them as they sleep.  

Stepped Pyramid

An architectural structure that uses flat platforms receding from the ground up, to achieve a completed shape resembling a mountain. Pyramids like this are typically large and made of several layers of stone and full of earth; but that would be impossible if it were to double as a roof. To accomplish this, lighter clay bricks are being tried instead, but last-minute changes by a past Speaker has complicated matters. He wanted rooms for the royal family to be incorporated into the pyramid design. Architects could only manage this by making a hollow hill of the mountain, so wooden beams and rafters were built in the shape of a box that would later be the new apartments. This purportedly uglified the roof, so was torn down and plans for positioning the bricks in such a way that it leaves an unspecified number of caverns to inhabit.   It is mostly in finding the appropriate configuration in the blocks that have so delayed the pyramid’s completion. Half the emperors that have ever been, since its renovation, do not take full advantage of the royal apartments on account of the persistent building going on above their heads.


Main Entrance

Really, no one has the access or the desire to enter the Moon Stone. The grand staircase wraps around the circular base into the open-air God Prison. It is a long and tiring climb for those unused to the ascent.

Prison of the Gods

The Prison has no external walls. The dead have a clear view of the cityscape and sometimes would bear witness to the seedier moments of Sang politics on the balconies and over the ledge.

Water Channels

There have been a few instances where water mice have been sucked in by the changing currents through the ducts connecting to various wells. The most powerful is the well that the great temple was built over. The wardens do often find the bodies of the drowned child slaves in random passages and rooms within the Moon Stone. Rarer; a mouse might find an air-pocket and not be carried away until the water levels lower.


Moon Stone

Unknown to most, serious prisoners unworthy of sacrifice or a clean death are kept here.

God Prison

A tier dedicated almost exclusively the politics of the realm. Court is held inside, and many notable domestic and foreign dignitaries are given rooms inside.

Stepped Pyramid

Even though this part is still incomplete, it serves as the primary residence of the Great Speaker.


It is rumored that a hoard of cursed gold is stashed in the temple's bowels. Storied as the Blood Gold, it grows just a little more when touched by a life form.   More certain and in public view, are the hundreds of foreign idols from conquered lands. Large or small, they are arrayed on fully display in the God Prison for all visitors to know of the superiority of the Triple Alignment. An increased need for interior space has decreed that older, uglier effigies be moved to the outside terraces.

Hazards & Traps

Moon Base

In the depths of the foundations of the Moon Stone is a bubbling spring that pushes foams of water through the narrow halls and obscure cracks. This wellspring is one of the few fresh water sources that exist as apart of the Mixed Lake. Jailers and guards take it upon themselves to keep track of the water levels that rise and sink every day; and report to the Water Warden who would then open extra reservoirs, spill ways and aqueduct reroutes.   Those who regularly traverse the dark halls have notice that they can only walk around the circumference of the base. Of course, since it is mostly filled in, then it makes sense. What unnerves the denizens are the irregular quakes that are focused on the Moon Stone.  


As the temple is still an ongoing construction site; there are alot of heavy materials being lifted to the roof. Given that during its ending stages, the columns had collapsed many times, special attention is being given to the amount of allowed weights on the pyramid at a given time. Once, the ceiling of an empty room in the Speaker's apartment fell in. Underscoring the need of passersby to watch their heads.


As the temple has been under ongoing construction for the past half century, there have been many opportunities for alterations. The most noteworthy was the controversial use of iron in the corpse columns. These columns are the most stunning feature of the Great Temple and was part of the holiest tier. Many cults established in Sangsalgu believe that human blood, and by extension the human body, is the most valuable commodity that could be offered to the Gods.   The corpses of important captives and volunteers were enchanted in cinnabar powder and stacked atop each other to hold the stepped construct above it. This led to collapse before all of them were even finished. It was repeated a few times before architects decided to staple iron bars to hold the bodies together. Which helped; and motivated the addition of marble and iron cores into the pillars to better hold up the brick pyramid.   Copious use of hard metals was seen by many priesthoods as undermining their ritual powers they themselves imbued into the columns. Doing so was apparently offensive to the priests and they pressured the leadership in ordering their removal. This led to several back-and-forths between the devotes and the engineers in including and excluding iron through the project.


Moon Stone

At the centre of the Sacred Precinct sits the great temple's predecessor. A spiral and stepped building filled with ash where people followed the spiral to the top which serves as a platform to crowds. Though not the most imposing; the uniqueness of its design makes it more memorable to the ordinary citizen. So, its layout was copied for the Moon Stone and scaled up considerably.   This foundation layer got its name from the coloured, refractive material that tiles the facade of this tier, and adds a certain luminous quality at night.  

Prison of the Gods

It is abundantly clear that the corpse columns of the God Prison are a grisly twist on the Sun Pillars. Not seen anywhere else, it was clear midway in their erection that they alone would not be capable of bearing the weight of the pyramid tier. Declarations of faith in the Gods pushed it through though.  

Stepped Pyramid

Pyramids are not new to the valley. Earthworks raised in their shape decorate Dragonsgrave from Plot to Court and have been apart of the local culture for a millennium. The Sang have since adopted them in their own style as sacrificial sites with a conventional temple on top.   Unlike those that came before, this as-yet-completed, pyramid built on a building that's built on another building will have an interior to be used. A first in the valley. Originally to be made entirely of limestone; stresses observed in the columns beneath made the engineers reconsider. As a result, two thirds of the upper portion are to be made of brick, then plastered to give the appearance of a limestone colour.

Alternative Names
  • Temple of Power
  • Divine Channel
  • Triple Tier Temple
  • Raised Pyramid
Temple / Religious complex
Parent Location
Included Locations
Connected Rooms
Related Professions
Ruling/Owning Rank
Compartment of Vehicle
Owning Organization
Related Materials
Related Plots
Triple Alignment
Organization | Jan 18, 2021
Black Salt
Material | Mar 31, 2020

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Feb 21, 2019 14:35

Hello! Thanks for sharing your article. I found the sections on the construction of the temple to be the most interesting. I appreciate the thought you put into how the building was constructed. These details say a lot about the culture of the Sang and their stubborn attitudes.
A few things could be made more clear. Why exactly is the temple made in three distinct sections with three distinct styles? Was this always the plan or does it just keep getting built up by later architects?
It sounds like in spite of the fact that this is called a temple that the structure isn't actually controlled by priests. I see that public sacrifices cannot be made, but are any other religious rites performed here?

Feb 21, 2019 16:10

Your right. In world, it was initially planned to be just that, but like with real world super projects more was being added with no one really saying "no, stop." The state had invested so much that they decided to move some government functions into it to recoup their investment. The priests act as advisers and heralds; the Great Speaker is technically a priest. But most had largely returned to their pre-existing temples.   The Sang basically want to rule the entire valley and the temple was made in three distinct sections with three distinct styles to reflect the maximum of cultures and religions in the valley. I was trying for it to say with this that "the Sang are better than you, your ancestors and all your descendants"   Some rites are done here, but usually only the nobles or other elites are allowed to bare witness.

Feb 22, 2019 06:29 by R. Dylon Elder

All right, so thanks for sharing the article :) and I really enjoyed it. The various descriptiona game me a bit of an Aztec or Mayan influence. That's awesome. I love those cultures.   The imagery of the step pyramids and tieing tbs bodies together really drove home what your going for. I found it a little hard to read, especially at the beginning some of your sentences read a tiny bit on the clunky side. Not so much you can't understand it, but enough to sang the reader who at that point is trying to immersed themselves in the article. It happened to me most in the first paragraph.   I still enjoyed it though. As for a question. The section marked hazards a d traps really only seems to detail hazards. What about traps. Are there anymore? If so, like what

Feb 22, 2019 14:42

And a third comment! Thanks for sharing and I too enjoyed the reading of the article. I like the content of what you have here the most, but you really need to work on the presentation. Grammar and word choice are an issue in places, as is sentence structure. I'd stick justify tags around everything, and either drop caps or inset tags. You also have an abrupt transition in topic marked by an extra horizontal line. You need an H1 heading there. I'd also consider looking for a few more images to stick in for the text to wrap around. If not, maybe call out some side facts in aloud boxes. Something to break up the wall of text that can be a little much.   A detail I particularly enjoyed was the mention of the infighting between the engineers trying to get the thing to stand, and the priests telling them to take the iron supports out because it makes them look bad and faith should just see them through. I can just see the engineers throwing up their hands like, "no, faith isn't going to hold this thing up!"   A specific question, are water mice = slave children? I wasn't sure exactly what was being said in the water channels section. I'd clarify that.