In today's Plane Above
excerpt, we explore another of the divine dominions. Although deities might die, their dominions endure. These shattered dominions are easier to find than the smaller astral motes. Although the shattered dominions drift on the tides of the Astral Sea like other motes, all but Erishani have functioning color veils that extend into the Astral Sea, remnants of magic from eons past when these places were visited on purpose.
A veil of mist floats atop the silver waters of the Astral Sea, parting at length to reveal a blue-gray landscape broken by withered rock and gnarled gray trees that clutch the stones tightly. There is no sun or moon; rather, the light of the realm comes from a towering golden statue in the center of the island. The humanoid shape is locked in a half-kneeling posture: It appears to be poised to move forward, extending a hand in front of itself. However, the hand is not out in a shielding gesture. It seems as if the figure is about to attack, but it has not moved in thousands of years.
This is the realm of the golden monolith—a broken, unstable graveyard realm roughly one hundred miles in diameter that surrounds a petrified primordial. If the deities know who this great entity was, they aren’t saying. Erishani is the name of the only angel known to have fought in the battle that shattered this realm, and she is long gone. Legends say that Erishani was responsible for petrifying the golden primordial, but that claim is by no means certain.
Erishani was the dominion of a deity who perished in the Dawn War and has been forgotten since. It once held cities, but most were wiped away when the primordials invaded the realm during the War. The broken husks and withered remains of what must once have been fearsome war machines and siege engines used in the Dawn War are scattered everywhere in Erishani, bearing moldering testament to the fury of the battle that transpired there.
New inhabitants have moved into the dominion since that time, however, thanks to the fact that the domain’s elemental energy makes it comfortable for outsiders and other mortals. A few of the dominion’s better-known sites are described below.
Radiating around the sunken knee of the Golden Monolith is a stretch of Erishani that’s clearly under enormous elemental pressure. It is a treacherous bog made up of disparate elements: a soup of scalding mud, partly submerged pieces of molten rock that give rise to clouds of acidic mist, and jets of air so cold as to freeze intruders in their tracks. The land is unstable and can be shaped by a powerful will.
Creatures commonly associated with the Elemental Chaos are plentiful here, rising from the murk as though spontaneously generated. Perhaps there are portals to the Plane Below at the bottom of the bog, and creatures swim up through the morass with no idea that they are about to emerge beneath the monolith.
The Golden Monolith
The petrified primordial waits, eternally silent, poised on one knee, its other leg half submerged in the ground, and its arm raised to unleash a destructive blast. Its elemental nature infuses the shattered dominion. No deities have been able to bend the land to their will and claim the territory for themselves.
Even Erathis’s project to reclaim the Lattice of Heaven regards the Golden Monolith as a problem to address in the far future.
If the gods couldn’t do it, it’s no surprise that mortal magic has failed to touch the statue. There is clearly energy of unknown origin circulating inside the monolith. The truly daring find it warm to the touch. The creature is not dead—just slumbering until some conjunction of events unleashes it once more.
The monolith is big enough—over 170 feet tall—to be seen from every corner of the dominion. Even though it does not move its head and its eyes are blank orbs, those who walk upon Erishani or fly around its perimeter have the unsettling feeling that the monolith seems to be watching them.
Rhym Katal is a rarity; it’s a pirate haven that aims to stay well clear of githyanki tribute or githyanki enforcement. Hidden within a cove secluded by high rocks somewhere along the edge or the bottom of Erishani, Rhym Katal is populated by the crew and hangers-on of between six and twenty-four ships of all sizes and quality. The current pirate queen of the haven, an eladrin with the uncommonly short name of Mal, has enslaved a few of the demons that slithered out of the Chaos Bog and enlisted some other creatures in her service. So far, the pirates seem safe from outside forces. Perhaps they chose their hiding place well. Or perhaps the githyanki of Tu’narath and the deities of the dominions prefer not to send powerful forces into the area around the Golden Monolith, avoiding the risk of an inadvertent triggering event.
Hovel and Twisp
No one knows how this collection of huts, shanties, and tents with rain-collecting, cup-shaped roofs got the whimsical part of its name, though the first part is clear enough. Perhaps the inhabitants want to be thought of as innocuous. Given that they are mainly the descendants of mortal primordial cultists who hoped to reawaken the monolith, their desire to keep a low profile is understandable. The pirates of Rhym Katal mostly leave them alone, though it’s not clear whether that’s because Hovel and Twisp’s inhabitants are too poor to provide good sport or because the descendants of the cultists have magical power to adequately defend themselves.
The Golden Monolith holds a number of adventure threads of its own.
Abyssal Portal: The Chaos Bog could be a gateway for powerful demons from the Abyss, using this dominion’s remoteness as cover and the humble inhabitants of Hovel and Twisp as agents or fodder.
Pirate Haven: Rhym Katal has the advantage of owing allegiance only to itself. Characters who want to sample the pirate’s life could do worse than to crack a few skulls, beat down or ally with Mal, and buckle swashes.
Elder Magic: The real prize of Erishani might be only indirectly connected to the Golden Monolith—it could be the knowledge of the magic that could freeze a primordial for eons. A mission to the bottom of the Chaos Bog might uncover the secrets of the arcane or divine magic that accomplished the deed.