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Akycha's Gate

Although the weather here follows the same patterns as those elsewhere in the region, the presence of an eternal flame keeps the cave mouth and its surroundings free of snow. On the slopes above the cave, the occasional patch of ground bare of snow can be seen, evidence that the ground there is thin and possibly unstable, thin enough for the heat of the flames to reach the snow above.
The product of a fool's impulsive action, Akycha's Gate is the entrance to a vast underground cavern full of natural gas. Years ago, a rather young scientist who had never before actually explored the outside world was part of an expedition that was to explore the cave. Having realized that the cave was full of natural gas, they quickly retreated, not wanting to poison themselves. The young scientist, being rather lacking in common sense, had been smoking a cigar when the others beat a hasty retreat, and he flicked the still-lit stub into the cave without realizing that gas is a fuel. The resulting explosion killed him and half of his party instantly, and lit a fire that still burns today; no one knows how much of the gas remains in the underground chamber, but it doesn't look like it is going to run out any time soon.
  • Akycha's Gate has been active for only sixty or so years; elders of the region can remember a time when it was not lit. But even before the fire began, Akycha's Gate was known as a place of strange happenings. Oracles were rumored to prophecy best within the cave; the natives had no knowledge of natural gas, and luckily never brought fire close to the cave, preferring to travel by moon- and starlight as the ancestors had done before them. Torches were frowned upon in such sacred places. The prophecies spoken at the Gate would be held upon a pedestal, their strength and power unquestioned; it was not a matter of if, but of when. However, the prophecies were always uttered in code; even the oracles themselves had to decipher what the prophecy meant once they returned to the outer world. Of course, now science has explained this phenomenon; the gas acted as a drug, and when combined with the hallucinogenic properties of the oracles' favored tea, put them into that mysterious trance and made nonsense spill out of their mouths. The prophecies were put to an end when the Gate was lit, but people still travel there as a sort of pilgrimage, to meditate and seek answers for their questions.
  • Do not venture too close to the Gate, or you run the risk of being burned. Gas is unpredictable, and if there is even the slightest breath of wind, the flames will dance and spread. A wildfire began six years ago due to this; it was late summer, and the land was dry. A brisk wind blew the flames from the Gate all the way to the forest nearby, and lit the dead trees on fire.
  • Even if it looks like the flames have stopped, they haven't. Approaching the Gate without proper caution can and has led to death; the flames are somewhat invisible at times, but they are still there. In bright sunlight, especially, they turn quite invisible.

Original location inspiration by SeaCrest-Star
Location art by Foxjot