The Gate of Daazan, less commonly called the Arch of Daazan, is an impressive, yet time-worn edifice, an arch constructed of slowly eroding iron, slow to erode due to the irons particular properties, towering ninety feet over the listless sands of eastern Iuhai, with a width of forty feet column to iron column. In distant ages, it was said, the Arch was erected for some unknown purpose, but it was whispered and still is in our time, that desert birds would carry the souls of the dead, beyond the iron gate, and into eternity. It was also said that a dæmon, Daazan, guarded the gate named for him, but could do naught to stop or waylay the avian soul-carriers, swooping into and past the gate, and delivering the souls safely to the afterlife.
All in all a pleasant tale, but one originally fabricated by the throat-singers of the desert clans, inventors of many tales, which tried to explain the many anomalies of Iuhai’s deserts. The truer, older, legends are somewhat different.
Long ago, the shamans say, there lived the star-god Daazan, and his lover, the mortal woman, Utheleii. Daazan shone high in the skies, above his adoring mortal worshipers, and burned brightly with passion and lust for the untouched maiden, who it was said, was a rare beauty, one even the gods could admire. In turn, Utheleii allowed the god to deflower her and soon after, their passion and lust turned into the deepest, purest love, a love that can only be imagined by mere mortals, and never felt or truly understood.
It came to pass that Aunoch the Overstar grew jealous of Utheleii's love for Daazan, for he looked upon the earth, and saw no one more desirous than Utheleii, and grew covetous, and smote his perceived rival, banishing Daazan to the earth, and cursing him into the form of metal, an arch of iron.
And why was this the nature of Aunochs curse, the children ask when told this tale? Holy books tell us that the gods were made of stardust, of every element in the known worlds and beyond. It was a true punishment and humiliation for a divine being to be reduced to only one, or a handful of elements. And so it came to pass, that Aunoch chose cold, hard iron for Daazans new cursed form.
And when Utheleii rebuffed Aunoch the Overstars advances, pledging her self eternally to Daazan, she was likewise punished and cursed, and transformed by the Overstar into the form of earth and soil and dirt. And thus, unknown to all but the rare few, Daazan the Iron Gate and Utheleii the earth elemental came to be. And so it came to pass, that after crawling across the entire earth for many years, scraping and undulating in her new amorphous form, Utheleii came upon the deserts of Iuhai and found Daazan , her love and lover.
And the woman-of-earth recognized Daazan for who he truly was, and in turn the Iron God recognized the once-mortal woman. And they embraced, as best they could, and Daazan's tears came unbidden like dew-drops upon his body, and turned to patches of rust. Utheleii stayed, and the two have dwelled together in this stark, visceral landscape for the last nine centuries, and their love is as strong now as it was before, and maybe stronger still.
Daazan is rigid and unmoving, yet sentient. Unable to perform any physical action, though still infused with some divine power, Daazan stands firm and nightly gazes upon his love, and into the firmament, ablaze with his shining kin, knowing that his curse will last only a thousand score years, a shorter time for a god than a man.
The Iron God’s presence is almost palpable in the vicinity of the gate, a pressing feeling as if one were standing next to a giant of a man, clad in shadow. Focusing his will upon an individual, Daazan is able to make one fearful and hesitant, and somehow aware that he or she is the presence of something far greater, as well as a sense of foreboding, as if one was being judged by some mysterious power.
Legends of the desert tribes claim that Daazan’s memories of his eternal romance flow, unseen, across the desert sands, filling the heads of receptive travellers with thoughts of love, and the images of one perfectly good and beautiful, but unattainable human woman. His thoughts likewise, and dreams, flow upon the waves of sand as well, so pervasive as to subconciously force every artist in a hundred mile vicinity, who tries to craft the likeliness of a beautiful woman to craft an image of Utheleii as she once was, instead.
Other tribe’s legends say that the desert-winds, the hot siroccos passing through the arch, bear whispers from the higher realms normally only other gods can hear, but if one medidates upon the sands, and remains perfectly still and silent for many hours, and sometimes days, one can hear the whispers of divine wisdom.
Daazan’s form is as mentioned above, a great iron gate some ninety feet tall and forty feet across. The two main iron columns are circular pillars that taper as they rise from the earth until the come to two wicked spikes. The two are connected by crossmembers spaced about ten feet apart from the ground up to about sixty feet. Above this, the increasingly thin spires are unconnected. The gate is an impressive twenty-two feet in height and opens in the middle to swing outwards, each door twenty feet in length. Once, these doors were oiled and balanced enough that even a child could push them open and closed. Now the hinges are fouled with rust and debris and moving the gate takes a monumental effort. Daazan can ‘assist’ in moving his gates, making the task possible for a single person, but still difficult. Iron-etched patterns adorn the lenght of the gate. The patterns shift according Daazan’s moods and whenever he dreams.
Utheleii, once a beautiful maiden and consort of the divine, is now a strange composite creature. Most elementals are formed of a single element, or single aspect of an element. Utheleii is now both soil, sand, and rock, what would normally compose three elementals instead of one. Most of the time, the lover of a god spends her time as a sentient ‘carpet’ of earthen material. She can draw her corpus into a humanoid form, but her level of control is difficult and she only does so on rare occasions, usually to clean debris from Daazan’s body or dissuade would be vandals from damaging the gate. She can speak in a grinding low voice in most any of her forms, though the years of isolation have taken a toll on her sanity.
Utheleii despises mirrors, and any surface which allows her to see herself as she now is. Indeed, her mind is quite fragile after all these years.
To preserve her sanity, she tries to stay occupied, devising games with numerous stones and boulders, trying to draw music from the rocks, by bashing or shaping them, for she knows they will be ready to sing a most beautiful hymn to Dazaan the day his godliness is restored.
It is rare that Daazan and Utheleii are ever called to do battle to defend themselves or each other. Utheleii does all of the physical fighting as Daazan is completely immobile. She can smother in carpet form, she can also wrap herself around parts of a foe to immobilize them. Grabbing someone at a full run who steps on her is a good way to shatter their ankle. Should further battle be required she can draw herself up into a rough humanoid shape and swing rock studded fists with deadly effect. She can also grapple with a foe, envelope them with her body and sink, drawing both down into the ground. The entombed victim needs a fast way to dig out of the ground, or they will suffucate in their unmarked grave. Daazan is not completely helpless. While he cannot move or speak, he can flex a bit of his divine nature. He is immune to low to moderate level sorcery, and with effort, he can extend this immunity to Utheleii for a few rounds of combat. His final mode of defense is his occasional ability to influence magnetism, making all compasses in the vicinity go awry, making weapons of metal attach to his form, as they are torn from their wielders’ hands, and sending iron-clad warriors flying through the air, sometimes smashing against the gate.
Not So Random Encounters and Hooks
Finding the duo out in the Iuhai desert can be rather easy. The iron gate can be seen from a great distance as it sits in the middle of a broad stone plateau unmarred by wind eroded rock formations. The spires can be seen easily during the day. During the rare thunderstorms that dance across the desert, the gate attracts a stunning number of lightning strikes.
Shaman Vision Quest
The legend of the soul carrier birds is still alive and strong among the desert nomads in Iuhai. When a cheiftan or shaman dies, the tribe will send emissaries to release birds through the gate and to leave offerings there. Utheleii has since learned to leave the nomads alone as they have no interest in harming Daazan, and they seldom linger after the birds are released. Oddly, merely flying between the spires is enough to be considered ‘passing through the gate’.
The Children of Glass are rare in Iuhai, but there are a rare few. These exiles and outcastes, their hemisas broken, will occasionally visit the gate to collect the pieces of lightning born glass, fused from desert sand. The glass seekers will quite oddly speak to the gate in their own tongue, sometimes for hours, before departing.
The rumor of persistent iron are enough to draw the rare team of iron mongers to find the gate. With wagons, axes, hammers and other tools they would plan on bringing down the gate in pieces and carting it off to smelt. Utheleii has learned various ways to deal with these interlopers. Most of the time she will break the wheels of their wagons and carts, and snap the legs of oxen and other livestock intended to pull said wagons. Most mongers turn back for home once their method of moving the iron is gone.
The Restoration of Divinity
There will come a time when Daazan’s terrestrial form with cease to be. When the iron pillars fall, and the black wrought gates are flaked away to nothing, the star god will be free to return to the heavens and his brethren. It is expected that when this happens two things will also occur. Daazan is assuredly going to return Utheleii to her human form. It is not known how much of her intelligence and beauty will remain after so long being imprisoned as earth and stone. The second is that Aunoch the Overstar will have to face a reckoning. Daazan will rise from the Iuhai desert stronger, tempered by his long imprisonment and contemplation, while Aunoch has been a bit more hedonistic with his time and forgetful of the hatred Daazan still bares him.
Perhaps something needs to be done in the world before Dazaan’s ascent can begin. Perhaps certain items need be gathered or certain quests undertaken. Thus, the Daazan and Uthelei have a potential reason for sharing knowledge and secrets with certain outsiders (interacting with PCs)