Waystone Network

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The Waystone network was constructed during the Mage Wars, though why and by whom is not known. Even the exact age is in debate, as some Waystones are thought to pre-date High Tower. One theory is they were created as a training network by an early guild of Wayshifters now lost to history.

Description

Each Waystone is a Magical Artifact that takes the form of a large standing stone, or menhir. These are usually roughly-hewn, but natural stones have been found. The enchanted stone itself is surrounded by a henge and together creates a Ritual site. While only the central stone is itself enchanted, the precise placement of the henge pieces is vital to make the enchantment work. At least four stones are required, placed equidistant from the center, and usually aligned with the cardinal directions. Most sites have eight or more stones, with the average number of five.

Usage

Any one waystone can take the user to any other waystone. They can also be activated remotely. Touch is required, and the stone can generally only move a single person or small number of people. An animal can be transported through if it is held or tethered in some way to the traveler.

Non-mages can access waystones with the aid of a special control rod, itself an enchanted item. Special charms have also been found that take the holder from one stone to another specific stone. Individuals with only an extremely limited magical ability can activate a waystone using any gem they hold. A mage who is familiar with the use of the stones need only touch it with their hand an invoke the proper magics.

History

Exactly who built the waystones and when is unknown, though dating of some sites indicates a network may have existed as early as two hundred years before the establishment of High Tower, putting their creation sometime in the Age of Darkness. They were definitely constructed after the Fall of Roads, though given the difficulty of fixing dates within this murky period it is unlikely any exact course of events will ever be known. It is believed construction happened slowly over a long period of time, and new Waystones were installed as late as 3500 B.G.A..

In any case, by the mid First Chaotic Period, the network existed with tens of thousands of nodes all across the known worlds. It is believed whoever constructed it meant for it to be a secret, as no known nodes exist within inhabited settlements. Settlements were sometimes built around them many centuries later, but they were always placed in inconspicuous, out of the way areas.

The first documented, systematic exploration of the waystone network was during the Intermediate Period, when a mage known only as L. wrote a guidebook with instructions and a sort of atlas of various worlds. L. included a forward that seemed to indicate, by that time, the network was seen as an archaic remnant of some bygone era. Only the first and third volumes of L.'s book survive, but the notations in the table of contents seem to indicate tens of thousands of nodes.

L. was most likely a Wayshifter and thus would have been able to return home without the use of the stones. The book cautions readers to be very careful, lest they become forever lost.

During the Dynastic Period, much of the network was destroyed. The Marcons, in particular, sought out nodes and smashed them. Since the network did allow relatively unskilled mages a wide array of travel, it did present a serious threat of espionage.

In the Second Chaotic Period, the network was used quite extensively, and towns even sprung up around nodes. It was particularly popular amongst the freed peoples, for whom it made an especially potent tool to strike back at the remaining empires from the dynastic era.

During the early part of the Golden Age the network remained in wide use, though the number of nodes had greatly diminished. About 3,000 were recorded as existing at this time. While mages could still be trained to use them, the ability to create tools for the lay-person had been lost. The term "wayshifter" continued to be used for mages who understood the network after actual Wayshifters became increasingly scarce.

The advent of the GATE network made the waystones entirely obsolete, and by the end of the Golden Age only a few people still knew how to use them. Some mages sought to preserve the network by creating special spellbooks that allowed anyone with even the vaguest suggestion of magic to travel to a specific waystone by opening a page and activating both book and stone. However, the ability to make these books was even soon lost, and by the third century of the Second Age, only a handful were left. Since they also contained the only complete guide to the remaining fragments of the network, the books soon became far to valuable for any individual to possess, and were kept under lock and key in various large collections. Slowly, these disappeared as well.

Mass-produced and non-functional copies of the waybooks survive, and a few waystone sites are preserved and mapped, but the network is now lost to time.