by Arref Mak
The manner in which power is obtained and preserved in the Courts of Chaos is intriguing and difficult to fathom to the outsider. Likewise, the traditions of the various Houses stretch far into history. The individual traditions, the House Culture, if you will, is very vigorously preserved. They may be shared, or learned by diplomats, in a way that the House Protocols never are.
But due to the complexities of the Houses, and the nature of Shadow near the Courts, a constant vigilance is required to maintain the physical premises of the Houses, as well as their courtly power. Physical security and combat readiness are combined in the expression of the House's architectural prescence in the Courts. The ShadowMasters are always vigilant in the protection of the designs of the various Ways.
But Houses fall and personal Ways usually die with their patrons. In the usual case, this is not much of a problem. . . . for without maintenance, the Ways unbind and soon effectively dissappear. Tattered Shadow stuff is then swept away in the abundant Shadow currents of the Courts and the intense magics near the Abyss.
Ah, but rare cases do happen in such a long history as the Courts of Chaos enjoys. . . and the dangers and mystery of the LostWays are something of a minor legend there.
Officially, the LostWays do not exist. They are not mapped. There are no access points on the Boulevard, and the manner of exploring them is an archeological quest all of its own. In the secret Protocols of each House, any passages that have been abandoned are marked for demolition. The elders charged with oversight of security may not choose to involve the ShadowMasters, and truely, each House has some qualified people that it may rely on that have no ties to the Guild of ShadowMasters. The proper dismantling of unused or obsolete Ways goes on from generation to generation.
And then, there may be Ways that are officially closed, and not dismantled. To say more, would violate the Protocols of a half dozen Houses.
Of course, there is not a common linkage to these phantom places. Like warrens or catacombs, they lie in disparate locations, and sometimes boast non-linear geometry. Some say that many are actually non-human in design, only existing as a mathematical or metaphysical abstraction.
Probably just a fanciful tale.
But the LostWays do exist. Some lay buried, persisting beneath more modern techniques of knitting Shadow together and still defying decay. Some are deliberate devices for unknown entry and exit of secure Houses. Some are strange forgotten experiments. Even more rare, are the rumors of fortress like Ways that actively repair themselves and refuse to be dismantled.
Some explorers, the idle young of the Courts, of course, never return from their explorations.
A word of warning then, this brief sketch of the subject should be sufficient to aver disaster. Beware casual scouting of anything resembling a disused Way while in the Courts.