It is a small valley on the mountain’s side, that can be found by chance or purpose. An old track of little use leads here, between two large stones that resemble pillars (that’s what most people think is the reason for the name).
Like the pillars, there are more stones crudely shaped to resemble something - mostly animals, or humanoid shapes. There are several old fireplaces, strange wooden constructions, even a small hut or two, but no permanent structures for no one stayed here to live. The more sensitive people can feel a small draught sometimes, as if there was a window open in your house. Animals will be unquiet at times, and sleeping here tends to produce strange dreams.
The most important feature is all but invisible to the eye, and a great power of mind is needed to find it. There is a crack in the mountain, thinner than a hair, which leads deep, all the way to the other side.
Useless to a mortal, it is a passage for spirits, a frequented crossroads in the spirit world. Those of a shamanistic bent (and sometimes even those without) can make contact here easily, not only with mountain spirits, but with many others, depending on their luck or lack thereof. Wise people of the tribes living around visit this place, to look for help and guidance. More than one shaman of their own is buried here.
(It should be noted that this valley is holy to the tribes around, and trespassers can get into trouble easily.)
The Mountain Gate has been always there, for ages untold. Some stories tell, that when the world was young, a giant spirit walked the earth, as immense as it was slow. It took millennia to reach this place, and here is where it fell asleep. Her many children were smaller and more agile, they played and explored and made the place their home; some of them grew up and became the other mountains of this mountain-range. Now, ages later, there are still late descendants living in the body of their ancestor. It is said, that one day, when the stars will come down from the sky, and the Sun will douse its flame, the spirit will wake up and lead all its kindred away. That will be the end.
And the crack, they say, is one of her ears.
If you want to speak with the spirits, this is the place to go. Many typical plots can arise:
- it is necessary to know the future, or the past, or simply get some other useful information. Assist the shaman on the way there, and during the rituals.
- a shaman/wise person/random passer-by has been possessed by a spirit. It is not necessarily malevolent, but needs something to take care of yet, or just wants to have fun. Catch him/her and bring back to the Mountain Gate where it all started. Proceed with exorcism. (Works especially well if the spirit belongs to someone the characters have known or even killed.)
- there have been several weak earthquakes recently, but they are getting stronger. As it is hard to contact any earthly spirit at the time, volunteers are necessary that will leave their body for a while, and find out what happens inside of the mountain. Perhaps a civil war between the rock spirits/elementals? Or were they insulted by the Living, and seek vengeance? A psychedelic trip with a diplomatic mission attached, and don’t you get lost for your body might die…
- the place is a source of power and prestige. One of the tribes that share it wants to make it exclusive property; alternatively, someone from outside invades it. Of course it must be taken back. Pity that violence may attract spirits you really don’t want to call.
- a powerful villain decides to seal the Crack forever. Help him or hinder him, and deal with all the consequences.