The Too Far Outpost
The Too Far Outpost
* The Outpost is equally distant from everywhere else.
* Change comes from the inside
* Everyone leaves something behind
* The build up is precarious
* Answers can be found in the build up
Typical Genre: Pastoral

On the edge of of the Empire, far enough from everywhere to be nowhere at all, sits the Too Far Outpost. Left to its own devices for generations, it is a queer place of old magic and strange secrets.

But now the Empire turns its eyes, once more, towards the Outpost.

Subregions

The Palace

The palace is old. No one is sure who exactly built it. The last envoy of an empire retreated from here over 50 (100?) years ago. The central ways, treasure rooms, personal audience chambers etc are locked and in a state of some disrepair. Families still live in the palace, but they are the descendants of servants and guards from long ago. They keep with their duties. The eunuchs have long since died out. The palace is a compound, build according to the ancient traditions, with different walls, halls and areas. It is surrounded by larger exterior walls (blue grey and emerald green) and a moat. It is over large for such a small town. The Local official lives within the palace, but in the south east corner

Hook: The Central Halls

The central way has been in non-use for years. The outpost is too far from all empires to hold for long. The last ruler sealed the doors behind them. It is unclear what all was left, or if anyone still lives in the central halls.

The Town Square

The town square lies before the palace. In the center of the square lies the pile, though it is largely ignored by the locals, who wind around it. Only those wishing to add to it seem to pay it any attention. On the south end slightly to the East is the bell tower, to the west is the Drum tower. Travelling through the towers leads to the East and west gates.

Hook: The Pile

In the middle of the square is a great pile of things. It is vast, covered in trinkets from around the world and numerous prayer flags. Rumour has it there is a great treasure or secret deep in the middle of the pile. However, it is considered taboo to disturb the pile (lots of it are religious talismans, or viewed as such). Even if it weren't, it would take one man years to dig through it all.

The Markets

There are large markets near beside both the bell and drum towers in the inner city. They are very cramped. The stalls usually cluster into types (like cultural goods, metal goods, etc), but which streets have which never seems the same, though the locals seem to have a subconscious, intuitive understanding of which market area is selling what. The one exception is street food, which is everywhere, especially near gates. Food style tends to be like Xi'an, though there are more exotic things, though seafood is rare (the outpost is in a grassland area far from everywhere else. There are a few small lakes in the mountains to the north with a bit of freshwater seafood, but it is relatively rare. The palace also has carp in its pools, which are occasionally eaten. There is a tendency to say that you can find anything there, though it might take some time. The outer city also has markets, though they tend to focus more on consumables and simple things.

Hook: Gold Sand's Inn: Beside the markets are numerous small inns, continuing into some of the alleys around them. Buildings where people can eat, drink and sleep. Down some small alleys near the western market in the inner city is Gold Sand's house. This house tends to attract the most singular individuals. Its wine is unique and pale green, its food delicious but not recognizable.

The Archives

Beside the palace in the North East corner of the inner city is the archive. It is a tower, but unlike most buildings it is build above a cave. It is seems larger on the inside than the outside, and by winding through the shelves, they stairs going deeper and deeper can be found.

Hook: Lost Languages

Many of the records are written in strange ways, from languages all around the world. There is enough material that with enough time any language could be deciphered, but it would require searching for days.

The Engineering Grounds and Barracks

On the west side of the palace (opposite the archive) are the engineering grounds. There is equipment for building almost anything (and remains from the ages), as well as astronomy equipment. Beside here are the main barracks, which are surprisingly small.

Hook: The Guards

The guards/soldiers of the area are very heterodox. Different units

The Inner City

Like many Chinese cities, the plan consists of a nested series of 3 areas within different walls. The Inner city has many gates), though 3 are larger than the others (center South, and the two most southern gates on the East and the West.

Interestingly, there are temples/shrines in the palace, and in the outer city, but none in the inner city

Hook: The Walls

The Inner City walls made of what looks like a mafic rock (it is sort of black-blue-green). None of the rocks in the area are near this (the mountains to the north are tan, light grey with occasional redish and blackish streaks (Mafic rocks tend to be found in oceanic crust, not in the middle of continents). The walls are miraculously strong

There is a moat around the walls. It has become full of lotuses over the years. There are said to be lots of things living in the moat, added over the ages, possibly even a dragon.

The bureaucracy is not really clear as to what you need to cross the gates outside of market hours. Every guard thinks the rules are something different.

The Outer City

The outer city consists of two major parts: a chunk within the outer city walls and a bit of a sprawl beyond (with lots of gers, houses made from bits of old wagons and other such things
There are actually remains of multiple outer walls. The inner most is relatively intact, but is missing a decent chunk of the southwest. Fortunately, the next wall is most intact in the East North East and all of the south west. There are a few bits of a third wall still standing. These walls are made mostly from dark grey and tan rocks, from fairly local sources. They are purely mundane (except for 8 rocks in the south wall of the third circle, which are made of the same stuff as the walls of the inner city.

A relatively small, shallow river (5 m wide and 1.5m deep) runs through the city from the north between the 1st and 2nd outer walls in the east. There are a few formal bridges, and some fords.

Hook: The Cultural Enclaves

Within the outer city, different ethnic groups, religions and cultural groups tend to cluster together, though there are often a couple secondary enclaves of each.

Hook:The Silent District

An area set aside for the emissaries of the Western Lands of the Po. Even though it has been almost 1000 years since the emissaries stopped coming, the district remains empty. Sometimes, new travellers see this empty area as somewhere open to set up shop, or to take the wagons. By the next new moon the district is empty again and everything taken has been returned (except the emissary robes if any have been left… those can still taken). There are old wagons. The area is hugely faded, but is in surprisingly good condition.
Sometimes, an emissary is half glimpsed walking the area.

The Mountain Temple

High in the hills near the too far outpost is a small, very inaccessible temple. It consists of a wall (crimson), with 3 halls and a few other small buildings and a garden. One family watches over it, overlooking its upkeep, slowly improving it.

Hook: The Guardian Stele

In the first major courtyard past the first hall there is a dragon turtle stele. Carved from a huge chunk of white quartz (with small metalic veins), it has been stained by moss over the centuries. There was an inscription on this stele that was said to have been written by a famous figure passing through (some say Laozi, some say Xuanzang, some say Bodhidharma, etc). The characters have almost disappeared, but it is said to say something profound

Hook: The Ancient Pool

There is a small path leading out from the storage room in the North East corner of the compound. It leads through an isolated path with a number of pine trees and ferns. It is always cool (never cold, never hot), with very still, slightly foggy air (that always very faintly smells of incense and damp mold). It is very silent, muffling all sounds, though there are crows that are clear in the trees. At the end is a glade. In the center is a spring emptying into a small basin, which has a run off channel that runs out of the area in a crack too small for anyone to squeeze through. Though it is hard to tell, people carved the area, though things have worn smooth. Sleeping while dangling some body part into the pool gives is said to give you dreams other than your own, drinking the water is said to do something. Some say positive things, some say negative. The water varies slightly in shade every day, though the correlation between effect and color is obscure.

The Burned-out Monastery

About 10 km south east, there are the remains of a larger monastery. One of the halls is relatively intact, and a small community lives there. The Stupa is Tibetan in style.

Hook: The Stone Books

In a still ruined hall, there are some very old books made of slate. They are very heavy, but intact.

Hook: The Stubborn Ghosts

A portion of the "people" who live in this monastery are a bunch of ghosts, who live in the main hall. They move like it is intact, seeing what other people do not see. They refuse to believe that they are dead, and become more monstrous the more the truth is forced on them.

The Park

From the North North West of the city is a walled park, going up the mountain, that was developed by earlier administrators. It has a very unique ecosystem (animals and plants were brought as gifts over time). Parts are overgrown, parts are relatively well maintained

Hook: The Tree

In the north west quadrant of the gardens is the largest tree, a huge cryptomeria. It is so big that it seems like it must be older than building the park, maybe even the outpost. But cryptomeria is not native to the area. Its has numerous bells and charms tied to its branches.

The Villages

Very near the outpost are a number of fields, manned by agricultural types who came to the area over time. They are usually walled, and keep a few animals. The granary is always rather central, as are small temples. Some basically consist of a larger temple, with people living within the walls

Hook: Village Gods and Village Elders

Every Village has its own ruling class, made up of the elders and small gods. Most do not like the other nearby village, feel that the outpost is a bit too big and want lots of things for their communities (incessant demands). They have numerous, almost arcane, usually trivial grudges over all sorts of issues with virtually all of the others in the area. Are obsequious when they know they are being watched.

Hook: The Death Village

About 20 Km away from the outpost lies the tomb area. There is a pillared road to the west kingdom here, and many many tombs of numerous traditions here.

The Grottoes

To the East of the outpost, some of the mountains are more sandstone. These are full of small caves that had been expanded as places of meditation. Lots of Buddhist paintings and carvings, but some for other traditions as well.

Hook: Lin Zhihui's cubby

Within the heart of the Grottoes lies the small cave where Malchin and De Yun found Lin Zhihui when she ran away from her father as a child instead of going to the Po court. It is here that she is said to have realized she was Manjushri walking the world.

The Meadow

Further from the city are the grasslands, where bands of nomads raise all sorts of herd animals.

Hook: Nomadic Tribes

There is a contingent of almost every nomad group still herding their animals here. Of strange note, there appears to be two herds that are only seen in tracks: one seems to keep Rhinos and Elephants, and one that has large bird like feet. There are foot prints mixed in, but no one remembers actually meeting these tribes

Hook: Nadam

One of the major festivals in the area, a celebration of the Nomad cultures. However, more than just nomads attend. It will always be out in the grasslands, there will always be the 3 manly sports (Archery, Wrestling and Riding). It will be rustic, rough and honest

Hook: The Bandit Strongholds

There are bandit fortresses a ways out from the outpost, as close to the roads as possible. The Nomads (which are lumped in with the bandits) usually don't like them and vice versa. They tend to have specific rituals of their own, granting them some power. Though somewhat tricky, many of the fortresses were made as final fall back points, as it has almost always not been worth the Empire's efforts to chase someone here.

Hook: The Tusul Zhunun Ikh Ortoo

The nearest of the Mongolian relay posts to the Outpost, putting it a couple hundred km from the Outpost proper. It is a bit of a village, despite being in the meadows, with some fields of millet, barley, and vegetables to feed the monastery and people manning the post.

Pillared Roads:

Throughout the landscape, particularly a little ways from society are chunks of dead end roads. Near the dead end (a few 100 m away) are a pair of pillars. If you stand at the start of the road (where they diverge from the main road, always marked with a bit of an uninhabited rest area), you can see the horizon between the pillars. 90%+ travel west, but a very few are in other directions, and some have started to become overgrown.

The Difficult Wilds:

The area near to the outpost is habitable, but it quickly falls off into horrible wilderness, where only monsters live (be they animal, human or spirit). It descends into chaos faster going north and south than east and west.

The Gated Passes

On the very edges of the plateau that holds the Too Far Outpost are gates that represent a return to civilization. The guards' families have been here forever, and they are pretty lazy and suspicious of anyone approaching the gate from either side.

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