11 December, 2016

The Caves of the Endless Chant


The slowly drifting river weaves it's way through the karst mountains on the edge of a decaying kingdom, once a part of an empire now forgotten. Few modern maps detail the path of the river, fewer still mark the location of scattered caves or the mountain temples inhabited by hermits and esoteric mystic orders. Only a single map indicates the point where the river not only weaves around the jutting spire, but also cuts through the limestone karst. No maps indicate that the underground path of this river branch houses ancient temples at the entrance and exit of its subterranean journey.

In the great purges of heresy, many monks in temples like these were hunted down for their sacrilegious beliefs... but not the monks of this nameless ancient order, those known locally as the monks of the endless chant. Those who know the history of this place claim that the endless chant keeps an ancient evil trapped within the bowels of the cave system. The monks themselves never delve into the labyrinthine complex of twisting passages, every generation or two a scholar brings a party of adventurers and hired hands to explore the caves... almost every generation they vanish without a trace, and the monks continue with their chanting. Occasionally, perhaps once every century, one or two delvers returns to the surface, muttering of living shadow, lidless eyes and tendrils of degenerate flesh. As they continue their chant, the monks may be forced to put these traumatised souls out of their misery, otherwise they use medicinal herbs and fungi to cleanse the memory of the delvers, setting them adrift on reed rafts where they are returned to civilisation by the aid of river fishermen downstream.

It's been over three weeks since I've posted anything here. I've been mapping. You may have seen my work-in-progress images for this map on G+, this is pretty much the finished piece. It's one of the many maps that I've drawn up on some pads of A3 isometric gridded paper over the past couple of weeks. There will probably be a few more finished pieces posted here on the blog between now and the end of the year.
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