The first stones that would become the Compass Tower were laid down by the Zo circa 9000 BGM (Before the Greater Moon). Believing they were being led by the Goddess, Zoë, the Ancients crossed over the frigid Crown of Aenya Mountains, where they discovered the uncharacteristically warm and lush valley of Tyrnael, and the solitary mountain at its center, from which the Potamis River, the Lifeblood of Aenya, trickles down to the One Sea. Ongoing visions led the Zo into the mountain, and to the sacred pool from which, it is believed, the first living cells on Aenya originated. Consecrated as the birthplace of Zoë, the Compass Tower was built in her honor, rising from the mountain like a spear in the hands of a stone giant. Decades later, the Compass Tower became the seat of power, home to the first kings of the Zo. A network of bridges reaching out from it connected to the terraced monoliths populating the city, and in later times, to the seven neighboring cities across the valley.
As Zo influence spread throughout the world, resistance grew amongst smaller tribes of humans, who wished to remain independent, and who resented the technological excesses of the Zo, believing that the men who had overthrown the Septhera were seduced by the power once wielded by their reptilian slavers. By 8000 BGM, civil war ravaged Aenya. Convinced of their moral and intellectual superiority, the Zo fought to quell the rebellion. By 2000 BGM, the Nova Knights, the military arm of the Zo, flew from village to village on bird-like machines, claiming victory for the new empire.
In 200 BGM, engineers reverse engineered Xexaz technology, originally brought by the Septhera, to open portals into space-time. The first of these, the Fantastigate, was hidden at the base of the Compass Tower, but the use of the machine resulted in disaster. One effect which remained, was a change in the flow of time, slowing years into cycles for the people of Tyrnael. Whether the gate was built to escape the expanding sun, or if any of the Zo managed to survive the cataclysm by fleeing into it, is not known. But in 120 BGM, Eldin, a mathematician finding “strange angles in space-time,” accidentally disappeared into the past.
By 40 BGM, the monarchy had dissolved into an oligarchy consisting of philosophers and scientists, the Zo Ascendancy. Thirty-five years later, the two greatest thinkers of the age, Kjus and Kzell, met in the Compass Tower to debate how best to save Aenya from the expanding sun. Kjus urged a continuation of the Mass Piston Project, which utilized a machine at the core to swing the planet into a safer orbit. Believing that the plan was improbable, Kzell asked Kjus to join him in the Zo collective, a melding of minds in an invincible golem body, to preserve their civilization.
In 5 AGM (After the Greater Moon) tidal forces from the Mass Piston ravaged the planet, resulting in ninety percent species extinction. The Zo civilization collapsed, and the once-great city of Tyrnael faded into myth, becoming known by future civilizations as Mythradanaiil. But some Tyrnaeleans, having weathered the destruction in various underground strongholds, survive to rebuild the city and the Compass Tower at its center. With the Ascendency having fled the planet, a new line of kings, and a new dynasty, begins.
The Compass Tower has been rebuilt and repaired countless times over the centuries, taking on various shapes and dimensions, with advanced materials overlaying the simpler masonry of past ages. After the greater moon, when advanced building techniques were abandoned, primitive stonework again replaced the synthetic alloys of the Zo. Some historians believe that at its prime, the Compass Tower reached into space, but that after the cataclysm it collapsed entirely. Rebuilt several times in the ensuing millennia, it ascended to its current height of one thousand feet.
The entire structure consists of several hundred rooms, most of which have either caved in, been built over, or are forgotten. A great spiraling stair abutting the perimeter wall reaches the tower’s peak, the compass floor, which is without roof or rail, etched with runes indicating a southerly direction at every turn. At the compass’s center, Aenya’s north pole rises, a throne of amethyst crystal, with a curved wall rising thirty feet above it. Moving down from here, a series of postern doors leads to a web of threadlike bridges, a few so narrow that only one person can cross at a time, connecting the main tower to its neighboring minarets. The princess’s bower, as well as those of her eloai servants, is housed in one of these smaller towers.
The atrium below is adorned with fluted colonnades inlaid with beryl and lapis lazuli, flaming onyx urns, and enormous musical instruments of brass and string, including harps that encompass entire rooms. A garden with pools and fountains defines the adjoining courtyard, with vegetation hanging from stone rafters, flowering bougainvillea climbing walls, and fruiting vines wrapped about every column. Vast libraries, with nearly a million tomes, are located in the chambers adjacent to the courtyard. Most of the books are damaged, having suffered the ravages of entropy, and those that remain legible are written in the forgotten dialect of the Zo. The few deciphered works deal with astronomy, geology, chemistry, engineering, history, and medicine. Fewer writings contain literature, poetry, and discussions on religion. Scientific instruments, like astrolabes, telescopes, and maps of the cosmos, are scattered here and there, but most of these have fallen into disrepair, or their functions are no longer understood.
The Hall of Kings, built between 40 and 10,000 AGM, honors the kings of antiquity, beginning with the Lawgivers. The enormous passage houses rows of fifty-foot statues, each made of marble, draped in silver and gold.
The Royal Stables adjoins the outer wall, where a solitary unicorn resides. Having been lured there by Queen Lumina, the thirty-third descendant of the first king, the gold and white image of a bucking unicorn remains the sigil of Tyrnael.
Beneath the ground, a labyrinth of chambers sprawls vein-like across the mountain. It is here that the greatest of the Ancient’s technological achievements await discovery. Among these, the Fantastigate stands, warping space and time for leagues around.
Deeper still, the bodies of the city’s ancestors are held, in a subterranean catacomb that extends down through the ages. As newer tombs replaced older ones, the remains of the most ancient kings were lost, particularly those rulers predating the cataclysm, as have the remnants of the Nova Knights, who were also entombed therein.
The Compass Tower appears in the upcoming The Princess of Aenya. Image courtesy of Alexey Lipatov.