The Abyssal Shelf

The Abyss itself is a massive hole in existence, a place so devoid of anything that the mind strains to create something, anything in there. Falling into the Abyss means death, or at least being put forever beyond the reach of those who remain in Shadow.

Despite the danger, or perhaps because of it, it is on the cracked rocky shelf that surrounds this greatest of pits that the Royal Palace of Chaos is built. All around the shelf itself, the mightiest of the Houses of Chaos have built their Ways. Other places and buildings rest here as well, structures of stragetic importance from battles long forgotten, or weird relics from past ages.

The Royal Palace:

Stark and forbidding from the outside, the Palace is very much a fortress, ready to repel attacks whenever necessary. Though the palace has not been openly attacked by armies in millenia, the lessons of the past are hard forgotten. The area around the palace is covered in mosaics, the meaning of most having been long lost. A few proud statues of Kings or Princes stand by the edge of the Abyss, as if to watch over it.

Palace Grounds

Two notable structures stand by the Palace itself. The first is a post for the Royal Guard, known as the Serpent Guard. It is here that the filmeys that transport demons and nobles across the pit deliver their passengers to the Palace.

The other structure is a grim and pitted stair of iron, leading up to a platform that hangs dangerously over the Abyss. When a Lord or Lady of Chaos sufficiently offends the Crown, it is here that they are dragged to be publicly executed, and their remains hurled into the Abyss itself.

The Abyssal Ways

The houses who built their Ways on the edge of the Abyss are the oldest and most venerable houses of Chaos. They are often the most powerful, though some of these old houses have suffered losses of status in recent times. By tradition, only the houses with Ways by the Abyss itself may sit on the Privy Council, but this is a tradition that some up and coming houses in the Black Zone are chafing against.

The Ways of Analia

The Ways of the Historians are weathered and dignified in dingy white stone. The Ways themselves look from the outside like nothing more than a smallish fortress, but those walls have stood longer than the Royal Palace itself, according to legend. Obelisks inscribed with stories and deeds from the first age of Chaos dot the grounds, some of them transported here long ago, some having been carved on the spot they sit. Inside, the Ways have been shadowcrafted to appear as normal rooms, but a command word or item inside the room can be activated change the walls to bookshelves. The books on those shelves will always be related to the history of the room, or objects in the room, or the scene visible through the room’s windows.

The Ways of Chanicut

The House of the Shadowcrafters has some of the most elaborate Ways in all of Chaos, unsurprisingly. Before the Chanicut Ways were constructed, this spot was merely a bare shelf of rock with a couple of chunks of stone jutting upward. Now, there are literally thousands of windows and balconies that simply appear out of Shadow over the spot, hung like jewels in a massive structure of lacy thin blue stone. Behind each window or balcony is a scene of some fantastic or brilliant shadow, yet everything is perfectly arranged so the eye is never overwhelmed, the structure never seems tacky. The grounds in front of the Ways are a labyrinth of manicured paths, winding about around mosaics, gardens, and sculptures. These paths might not lead one where they seem to go, many of them take the walker through shadow. Chanicut is the only House that has a shadowcrafted path leading directly to the Royal Palace.

The Ways of Faragis:

As is appropriate to the cultivators of Faragis, their Ways are almost entirely alive, twined trees, massive vines, and strange walls of scaled lichen make up the structure of the Ways. As a result, the Ways open doors for visitors, and keep an eye on them at the same time. The Ways are known to play favorites, and enemies forgiven by the House Leader may still wish to stay out of reach of the walls. The structure is asymmetric and seemingly rough, but taken in as a whole it has a wild, primal beauty that simultaneously pleases and makes one wary. Though the Faragisways seem to have no proper guards or soldiers at hand, in addition to the living structure there are many guard creatures that move through the tangle, perfectly camouflaged.

The Ways of Hendrake:

Black metal rises high into brutal spikes over walls of some impenetrable gray material. The Ways of Hendrake are not beautiful to look at, but they fill the viewer with despair of ever breaching them. The walls themselves rise to impossible heights, and every surface is crafted to either prevent assault or allow defenders access to destroy an invader. No demons, creatures of shadow, or undead minions guard the Hendrakeways. As a matter of pride, the Ways are guarded only by younger Lords and Hellmaids of the House itself. The grounds around the Ways are unadorned, totally open on a bare shelf of rock, providing no cover at all for anyone within sight of the massive towers.

The Ways of Laenash:

A gloom hangs around these Ways. A black keep seemingly forged out of a multitude of volcanic cones is what can be seen from the outside. The grounds are covered with strange pools of Logrus energy which slither back and forth. These Ways are guarded by many demons, which either change form frequently, or are replaced often. In many places this setting might deter visitors, but it is considered a pleasant location in Chaos, and many a visitor comes for no reason but to admire the Logrus manipulations the House has created.

The Ways of Sawall:

Sawall’s ways are built on a series of floating islands over the Abyss itself, the only House who’s Ways are not on the rocky shelf proper. There are no bridges between the islands, the various buildings are connected via shadowcrafted tunnels through other shadows. The buildings are all different, one a fortress, one a mansion, and so on. They are all predomenantly made of black stone, and guarded by various hulking demons. The Sawallways are hovering over the Abyss near a ruin on the Abyssal Shelf. That ruin is often visited by priests of the Serpent.

The Abyssal Shelf

Amber: War of the Crossings Drascus