Up From the Ashes
The five-sided fortress Manse.
The inside of the manse is a bit of a maze – not a supernatural one, just confusing to navigate without Survival, War or familiarity. Much of it is sparse, but there is a kitchen with a door made of blue jade that leads into a little storage room that preserves food indefinitely; there are some supplies in there already, mostly rice, flatbreads and vegetables. Aleena will vaguely remember that Wen Zhe never ate meat. Out on the parapets are a few platforms that look like they might once have held mounted artillery, but the weapons themselves are gone.
The hearthroom is a pentagon-shaped room with a mandala of runes and pentagrams made of pale yellow light rotating slowly up on the ceiling, providing the room with light. Each of the five walls seems to be dedicated to a separate purpose:
- One wall is dedicated to War. Several First Age maps hang there and a hearthstone bearer can activate a long wooden table that can generate models of terrain, troops, strongholds, vehicles, trenches, etc. for strategy planning. (This table can count as a War tutor, up to War 3.) There is a book that contains brief entries on people that Wen Zhe was apparently keeping an eye on; many of them are Dawns and Chosen of Battles or Endings, and one is a Winter Caste Lunar called Tamuz, whom Wen Zhe notes is quite possibly the most brilliant and dedicated military strategist in the world, Solars be damned. In a carved and locked box, there are two Quagmire Perimeter Mines (see p. 91 of Wonders of the Lost Age).
- One wall is dedicated to Martial Arts. Trophies and awards hang in a case here…most of them are second place. There are a few wall scrolls that expound upon martial philosophies and outline various katas, in several languages. A hearthstone bearer can touch a marble touchplate to open a door and reveal a training room. (These wall scrolls and the training room can count as a tutor for MA, up to MA 3.) There’s also a scroll here that describes the Essential River Channeling thaumaturgical ritual, which is a rare Master degree geomantic ritual that can supposedly awaken mortal Essence.
- One wall is dedicated to surveillance. A hearthstone bearer can make the wall light up with panels and displays, and a periscope that can be used to watch several specific locations around Chiaroscuro, including the bay and the docks; the area around the Field of Gold (once, you may recall Savannah telling you, the Tower of the Sun); the area surrounding these two manses here; and the Plaza where Grandmother Bright lives. It can also be trained on a few places in the far North and around Creation, but there doesn’t seem to be anything interesting there now—just frozen wasteland or wilderness.
- One wall seems to be some kind of…cooperation station or something. There’s a machine to which two hearthstone bearers can hook themselves up, one donor and one recipient. The machine can mimic the effects of Essence-Lending Method, Will-Bolstering Method and Virtue-Donating Grace, and can allow one person to donate HL to the other as a misc action. However, the donor loses 1.5 times the amount of resource given, rounded up.
- The last wall protrudes into the center of the room, sloping down to form what looks like a white jade hand, palm up and fingers bent, its arm extended. Each finger ends in a setting where the hearthstones go.
Additionally: The Manse produces five identical Hearthstones: the Gemstones of Synchronicity.
This five-sided fortress is an Earth-aspected Manse that once belonged to Wen Zhe, but has now been claimed by his successor, Aleena. It is under Chiaroscuro, and possesses a currently non-functional elevator to the surface. It is very close to a Lunar-aspected Manse, called the Falling Star Bath House.