The Sacred Armoury

An armoury, a church, and a fortress refuge

“So . . . what’s in Fort Whistler, then?”   Graeme smiled, though he knew Woodhouse couldn’t see it in the faint grey moonlight shed by the window. “The Sacred Armoury.”   “The Sacred . . . wot?”   Graeme sat up on his elbow. “The Sacred Armoury. It’s where the holy weapons of the Slingers are stored between lives, until we come back and swear our Oaths again. Then we take ‘em back up, to carry through each successive life ‘til our penance is served.” He touched the ivory-handled pistols dangling from a hook on the bunk. “It was all right for me to use these ones ‘cause I had none of my own and needed ‘em. But now I got to give them back, and they’ll do a rite and find out which one of the Old Slingers I am. Then I’ll get my own weapons, whatever they might be.”
Borderland by Diane Morrison
  The Sacred Armoury is the spiritual centre of the Gunslinger Order. Located in the heart of Fort Whistler, this remarkable building is a site for sacred pilgrimage, a storage facility for the sacred weapons of the Gunslingers, and a logistics and operational command centre for the Order's activities.

Purpose / Function

The Sacred Armoury is the first, and most significant temple, of the Gunslingers -- although they would never use the word "temple" to describe their structures. It is also, as the name might suggest, an armoury; the place where the Slingers store all of the Holy Guns they have recovered from the gunslingers of the past. Finally, it is a fortress and a refuge for Slingers everywhere.   Strangely, it was originally built in pre-Cataclysmic times as an art gallery.

Alterations

Glass was used extensively in the production of the original gallery to line the sloped walkway that leads up to the building, and also its covered walkways and skylights. Most of the glass, except for the skylights, has been replaced with meticulously-scavenged bulletproof glass, preserving the original glass shapes and dimensions as much as possible. More remains in storage should any of it need to be replaced.   The glass walkways have been equipped with brass shields that can be cranked down quickly to protect the exposed glass structure. The brass shields include view-slits, so that the Armoury is better equipped to withstand a siege.   A clever team of technicians managed to convert the gallery's electrical system to an ether-powered voltaic system. The lighting is not as smooth and soothing as it was before the Cataclysm -- but it works. Items in voltaic-illuminated rooms are cast with a flickering blue or golden light.   Some of the grounds have also been altered to allow for granaries, stables, and a blacksmith's forge. To prevent them from becoming targets, they, like the Armoury itself, have been constructed to blend into the surrounding terrain.

Architecture

A former art gallery might seem like an unusual choice for the site of an arsenal, especially one that contains the all-important holy weapons of the Gunslingers. But the Sacred Armoury had several unique features that made it an ideal site. Aside from being located almost dead in the centre of town, allowing a 360 degree view to ascertain possible threats, it was designed specifically for the many challenges that the climate and landscape of Fort Whistler create.  

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Audain Art Museum by RAEF.ca
To deal with the fact that it is constructed on a flood plain, the entire building is built a full storey off the ground, and was sealed by a state-of-the-art moisture-reducing membrane to protect its valuable contents. This is yet another reason why the building was selected, as it helps to preserve the Holy Guns between incarnations of the Slinger who wields them. The drainage system of the building was also state-of-the-art, and dedicated tech-savvy people work to maintain it. It features a sophisticated drainage board that directs water away from the concrete pillars that support the building, preventing degradation.   To deal with the incredible volume of annual snowfall in this high alpine environment that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, the roof was constructed with steep angled slants, allowing the snow to simply slide and melt off, and not put pressure on the roof, or allow moisture to pool on its surface.   The exterior is clad with a dark metal stainless alloy, which can be closed to protect it from attack or from weather, or opened to provide access to its incredible, distinctive entry porch or glazed walkways to the temple rooms -- which were once the galleries. This dark metal blends into the surrounding treescape, making it difficult to sight from a distance.   The spacious interior room that was once reserved to host exhibitions made a perfect interior meeting and "chapel" space for Gunslinger gatherings.   Or, perhaps the Gunslingers simply chose the Armoury as their base of operations because of its simple, minimalist beauty. It is constructed of warm wood slats which are shaped to welcome a wealth of natural light and shadow, even in the building's interior.

History

The Sacred Armoury began its life as the Audain Art Museum, which, in pre-Cataclysmic times, was world-famous for its unusual architecture. It was admired as a triumph of form and function. Not only is it a grand feat of engineering by any standard, whether pre- or post-Cataclysm, but it somehow managed to use these restrictions as an opportunity to create unique features of beauty.

Tourism

Some people travel to Fort Whistler just to see the Armoury, although the Gunslingers are choosy about whom they grant admission to. Two different Gunslingers must attest that a would-be sightseer lacks the "taint of darkness" before they will be permitted to enter.  

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Western Scene by Jean Beaufort
Perhaps a hundred Gunslingers make their way to the Sacred Armoury for Pilgrimage every year. It's an obligation of newly-minted Slingers, and some undertake it as a form of spiritual cleansing. When a new Gunslinger arrives, they are gifted with their legacy weapons from among the Holy Guns in a secret ritual (see Gunslinger's Investiture ).   The art gallery featured an impressive collection of Indigenous art. The Gunslingers maintain this collection "in trust." Since detailed records of the artists who created each piece has been kept, it is their policy to return any given piece to the appropriate Nation if they come asking for it and have the necessary authority among their people to do so. However, many pieces still remain preserved by the conditions of the former gallery.   There are also a number of original paintings from the famous Canadian artist Emily Carr. The Gunslingers present them in an annual art show on Midsummer, and people travel from all over the Dominion to see them and celebrate the Midsummer festival.   There are a few hotels that survived the Cataclysm nearby, which serve as residences for Gunslingers or visitors. There are also a number of bed-and-breakfast establishments in the area that cater specifically to visitors to the Armoury.

Remember that you can click on the glowing gear icon on the left to access the menu at any time!

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Books in the Wyrd West Chronicles

Serial:

Novel:

Once Upon a Time in the Wyrd West (Wyrd West Chronicles #1-6)

Anthology:

Gunsmoke & Dragonfire (featuring The Teeth of Winter (Wyrd West Chronicles #7)
 

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Gunslinger Emblem by Diane Morrison

One of the most distinctive features of the entry porch is He-Yay Meymuy, or "Big Flood," an aluminum sculpture that the carefully-preserved records of the original gallery say was created by Xwalacktun (Rick Harry), an Indigenous artist of Coast Salish Squamish and Kwakwaka’wakw ancestry.   It features negative-space carvings (or cuttings, perhaps?) of Coast Salish mythological figures. While the technique to create it has been lost, it remains well-preserved -- even the original LED lights have been powered by the voltaic restoration.   This sculpture is believed to have totemic powers, and it is not uncommon for people who visit, even Gunslingers in permanent residence, to touch the sculpture in the hopes that it will grant a blessing of protection.
Founding Date
2016 BtF
Type
Arsenal
Parent Location
Fort Whistler
Owning Organization
Gunslinger Order

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Once Upon a Time in the Wyrd West

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Please check out the Audain Art Museum link, especially its architecture page, and the Whistler page devoted to the gallery, to get a more complete picture of this amazing real-world structure.


Cover image: Armoury by Lilla Frenchs

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