Major Altar Locations of the Basanic Tao
Unlike other Altars the Twelve Trees are based exclusively in cities; its members following local fashions and trends, socializing with the best of them. Altar locations are most likely to be inns or local landmarks and certainly amongst the oldest of the buildings in the city or township; here the spirits of Kethlan linked to towns are more powerful, statues more easily animated and hearths more easily contacted. The older the building and the more frequented it is the more powerful that it is likely to be; such buildings often generate their own lay lines and give power to new groves and Altars as they grow. They are always well defended both in the real world and in the spirit world by Vormearn and Hearth spirits respectively, both are bound to the Altar and are well tended and in the case of the spirits sacrificed to with goods and materials.
The largest Altar to the Twelve Trees is in Maryat, the old and abandoned capitol of the Royal Basin. Its buildings and the spirits bound to them are over two thousand years old and the power that is locked away within the ruins of that edifice is legend. When the city of the Great Basin fell to Undead and Daemons, an eon ago, the Melkarr and Ulmagarns of that time spent long days in ritual whilst the Vormearn battled to the last protecting them. They sealed the greatest Altar with word and rite and the spirits that served it where likewise locked there. It is said that if the Altar is reopened then the power of the tired day will be released.
There are Altars to the Creeping Vine scattered across the lands of the Royal Basin, all of them are deep within the confines of the wild lands of Kethlan. The Altar of the Great Pack is a secret to all but its members but it is rumoured to be built at the heart of the lost town of Woodford. If the stories are to be believed then the town was bought low by the Altar and through the sacrifice of the “civilization” of the place so Ravage grew in strength and in power. It is this action that has been the inspiration for the growth of other Altars within the borders of the Royal Basin. Ruined temples, farmsteads, abandoned hamlets even areas that have become overwhelmed by force or subterfuge all serve as the hearths of the fires that blaze in the centre of the Altars power.
Obviously the oldest Altar for the Gorgon that still exists can be found nestled in the roots of an ancient Kavortis tree that leans like a wearied elder in the Northern fields of Green Lakes arable sector. It provides an ample view of the township and the fabled lakes themselves. The council hold sway here and many of the Melkarr indulge themselves in this idyllic location at least two or three times a year. Major festivals of the Altar always take place in Green Lakes, two large fields have been set aside for just such a purpose and well tended to year in and out.
The original Altar still exists at the heart of Maryat but powerful rituals of sealing where conducted there years ago during the time of Maryats fall. It is know that there are many relics sacred to the Tao still locked away there but that any expedition to recover them would still be a fool hardy endeavour. The council has ruled against such plans in the past but still disputatious voices are heard. Of course powerful Altars can be found in all of the major Tao held areas of the Royal Basin but beyond the two mentioned both Strabain and Rendrith boast sizeable Altars which have birthed many notable Melkarr over the years and indeed attracted Ritualists from several noble families most notably the Hertisans.
The main altar of the Emerald Willow is located in the wilds of the Gielden Woods on what the Royal Basin identifies as the border of the Bitter Vale and Iron Stone Bay. The Altar is at the centre of ancient Hunting Lodge that was built during the Canorsay Ways over sixteen hundred years ago and as seen the summoning of practically every spirit that is known to the Tao. Over the years areas of the land that the Hunting Lodge rests on have been dedicated to different causes and now acres of the woodland is populated by the Melkarr and their followers. Asides from the Lodge the Willow has Altars in most of the deep recesses of the darkest woodland. Most are centred on areas of great populations of those beasts that are sacred to Ravage and rather than being fixed points the Melkarr tend to move through the wilds never setting down permanent roots.
It is said that every time an Altar or Grove falls to corruption it becomes a candidate for the power of the Ele Strom. It becomes their duty to reclaim it and then to dedicate it to the Broken Lady or which grove is responsible for the vindication of Justice in that era. To this end the Altars to the Broken Lady are drab unglamorous affairs that are without the expected support of a community of workers and specialists as many of the Altars do. Instead they are few and far between radiating the raw power of Kethlan whilst assuming the horror that they underwent during their corruption; they are places to be avoided by the normal populace at all costs.
The main Altar is located in what was once the Grove of Resplendent Zeal; a forerunner to the amalgamation that flies under the flag of the Emerald Willow nowadays. It is located partially in the Hartwell Woodland but was also driven into the near Spirit Realm when it was taken and possessed by the power of Thraxilluis Culn, a Wight like entity in service to one of the houses of Caravek. It is believed that the creature is still imprisoned within the Spirit World; when the Ele Strom arrived they lay the enemy to destruction and reclaimed their grove leaving the submersion in the spirit world as it was to enhance their own power with them.
The original Stone Circle Altar is located in the Northern part of Rhygahrea but now falls into a section of the woodland that is hallowed to the forces of nature that roam free. Sadly it can longer be accessed or used by the Vormearn but on occasion it is visited for the purpose of ceremony. Now the only Circle is settled in the Tao controlled community of Ironroot in the Western Marches in the foot hills of the Razorback Mountains. The Altar fills the three villages; Darkridge, Handfast and Fall Shale, that make up Ironroot. There are many normal villagers that support the Altar, working the farms and facilities that keep the Altar running.
The area is littered with various training grounds and barracks as well as halls for lecturing on the finer arts of hunting and the identification of flora and fauna. The local forests are kept packed with game and training filters out into the field as the new generations of Vormearn chase down prey and emerge exultant with their first rabbits and deer. Indeed it is mainly the young that dwell here and the villagers have seen many young arrive but never return on their placing with another Altar; the life of a Vormearn is often a short one.
For long years the great Kingdom of Rhygahrea was the seat of the power of the Tao and as such drew great and unwholesome attention from the enemies of the Wyld. Many struggled to overcome this ancient bastion and eventually the power of the Daemon Realm made its way into the lay lines that criss crossed it. This began the fall of the greatest Empire of the Gillieabad in Mortal hands and almost ended in the death of Kethlan himself after Robar Redwolf, the Hierophant was killed. Yet Kethlan provides and after the survival of the Wyld he created the great land of Azilir to the South of the Royal Basin as a seat of power for the new Hierophant. The land is secretive and those that dwell their elusive but there is no doubt as to the power that rests there.
Whilst Kethlan’s Kingdom has gelled into a forward moving economical and political power many traditionalists have pointed to a falling away from the teachings of the early hierophants and the direct words they have learnt from Kethlan itself. Since the dawn of the time of the new ways, however, Dreff Wood has been at the heart of all things Wyld. It was the place of the death of Kalarm and the awakening Kethlan, here the Lady Mogaddon sought to enhance her status by mastering the art of the Wild. Here St Lucien built his ghost priory and was defeated by the Stonecrow, here both Sarkith and the Dark One was born and here the Hunting Horrors were born. All of these evils have come to Dreff Wood and each and every one of them has been driven back by the power of Mosses Grove, the Grove of Dreff, where the most feted Druid of all ages bore his power.
Dreff has become the “Holy” place of the Wild, those of the grove of Dreff are held in greatest reverence by all of those within the culture. It is regarded as a bastion of all things truly of the Wild, all wisdom, power, strength and purity flow from the grove. To walk in the presence of a member of the Grove is an honour to all who show reverence to Kethlan and any insult to a Dreff Druid is returned with blood. Such is the power of the Druids of Dreff that even the Hierophant bends the knee to them and any decision made by the Hierophants council can be overturned by one word from even the lowest member of the order. To reach Dreff is said to be unlikely as it rests far out to Sea on an island surrounded by mists, only seven ways are known to reach there and each one is impossibly guarded.
Moss and the Hierophant
These two figures, the first responsible for Dreff and the other responsible for the Tao itself, are two powerful, legendary figures that few within the Wyld have had cause to know or even to meet. Their names are well known to the peoples that they serve but only that. Beyond this they are shadows, whispers and above all else a story for the wind.