The Valley of Shifting Shadow
Far, far to the south, where east and west meet and become north, there is a valley, carven not by the slow slide of the world's rocky skin over her firey heart, but rather the wind and water have carven it, deep and narrow, folding away from the sun. Here, at its deepest depths, the Light never reaches. Here, at the top of the bottom of the world, lies the place which Shadow and Darkness have dedicated to themselves.
To reach the Valley is among the world's most difficult of treks, for the land surrounding it is one of perpetual snow and ice, the features drifting and shifting with the passage of wind and time, while the cold tears at the skin and settles down into the marrow of the traveler's bones. Few are doughty enough to undertake the antarctic voyage, fewer still survive to tell the tale. Still, legends are whispered of the Valley of Shifting Shadows, with none but those hearty handful who returned knowing the truth... and even the tiny fraction of those who are not mad have trouble sifting the truth from the legend. They have decended down the icy slopes, forever frozen, never again to melt and drip into the deep crevices. They have made passage from the howling winds into the thundering din of total silence, and they have descended along the dead bones of the Earth into complete and total Darkness.
There, at the bottom of the Valley, the shadows are absolute, and no light save that of the Beginning can even begin to penetrate them. Mortal lights, be they flame, phosphoresence, or electric filament fail, shedding no light, even as they continue to burn, slower and slower. Sound, too, is utterly stilled, the breath silent, the voice gone into nothingness. Man, monster, machine, all are the same, swallowed into nothing as they move into the Valley of Shifting Shadows, their very lives stopping. And then, somehow, somewhen, the center is reached, and all is revealed.
Here, at the farthest end of the world, the World has Ended. Here, one goes to see the face of the Final Death, the end of all the universe, and all the universes. Here, physically at the End of Time, wherever one looks, one can see only backwards, into the depths of the past - the past which is all possible pasts, presents, and futures of all possible worlds, no matter when or where the adventurer came from. From here, one can watch the rise and fall of men and gods, of empires, of worlds, of stars, of galaxies. Here, one can see the deeds and hear the words of the ancient dead, which is all that ever was, all that ever may be, and all that had the potential to be and was not - but it is difficult to tell what was from what will be, and to sort shall from may. It is an ever shifting display. It is the kaleidoscope of all realities, gazing backwards through time towards the Light of the Beginning, spinning, changing, ever showing new refractions, never repeating, and through sheer insubstantial enormity, it can fragment the mortal mind.
Here is a place that the living are not meant to be, and they will find themselves upon the icy slopes of the valley, exposed to the shredding, awful winds. They may even have returned to the reflection of reality from which they came. And then, if they would still live after they have gazed upon all that was, they must return through the ice and snow - with when and where being an open possibility...
It is intended that this location be used with the Six Who Are, dedicated to Kronath, the Queen of Shadow and Death.
At the End of Time, where the valley truly rests, all manners of divination are possible - this alone may send the PCs here. It is also possible to transit through here to other times and other worlds, though it is difficult to control, and more difficult still to return. Even so, it is a ploy for the truly desperate.
PCs may not have to go here themselves - but they may have to sort through the stories of one who was, whose mind shattered from staring eternity in the face.
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? Responses (13)-13
I really like this idea for a location. A deep and mysterious place where the once sane go mad is always a way to let the mind be creative. If alone just in the things you can show the party or have the party encounter. Maddened Frost Trolls are always SUPER fun to deal with. And at the very least it set's up a hook for the part to try and find an individual or the writings of to progress story. Or even get some of that sweet sweet world lore. Keep up the good work!
Good write-up of a mind-boggling location for adventuring/divination and the combo use with ephe's sub would be... wow, more mind-boggling I can only say.
Some nice purple prose, and a sort of a Lovecraftian nexus. I can see the miskatonic university department of geography mounting a expedition the rift.
There are some nice turns of phrase in here.
The intent was less Lovecraft, more Total Perspective Vortex, It wasn't entirely intentional until I sat down and went, 'Now what happens, exactly, when you stand at the end of Time and look back? You see everything and your brain goes 'boom' from the overload.'
So what happens if you enter the Valley of Shifting Shadow and eat the fairy cake?
'If I told you how much I needed this I wouldn't have time to eat it'
Zarquon appears, of course.
A dangerous place to go.
cosmically horrifying location and great prose! The type of place an old jaded individual would voluntarily seek out toward the end of his life, because you know, he's done everything else. Now to just stare out into the void and contemplate...and die.
Ah, but see... that's the worst part of it. You can't die in the Shifting Shadows. There's no time for it. Every visit is exactly as long as the never that lasts for eternity.
all you need is the non-euclidean angles! 4.5/5
I like it a lot. I think it works well as a maddening, terrible location, for one thing. But I also rather like the notion of connecting the south pole (or just the antarctic), where every direction is north, to somewhere where every direction is back in time. That's very cool, and is an idea that I think could be extended toothier concepts, too.
The important thing here to me was that it was located at a geographically symbolic 'the end of the world'. It was also important that while the darkness here be natural, it be 'unexpected' - The dark and sealed voids of the earth belong to the Lord of Law and Stone, but this shadow belongs to the Mistress of Shadow and Death, where all the universe ends.
I have used this basic symbology concept in game elsewhere - Doors were transitions between places, and it is easier to walk through a door here and emerge through another door a hundred miles away than it was to simply teleport. Windows could be used to look, and talk, into other places. Reading a book is an easy way to read a mind, etc.