Holyrood Abbey

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Located in Edinburgh, Holyrood Abbey is the center of the Jacobite church in physical Scotland. It is an important stronghold in Ea as well. Built around the ruins of the old abbey, Holyrood is much larger underground that it is above.

Aboveground there is the Hall of Songs, where manifestations of the Maiar Jacobi, Inglis, and Eriol recount the holy texts to any who enter the Abbey and wish to hear. Jacobi, with his short silver tangle of hair, voice wry and wise and cutting, and mandorla like a winter sun through mist, sings the most ancient and holy of these, the Silmarillion. Inglis, with his wild red mane, voice like old pages and the comfort of a fireside, and mandorla like flames curling through golden smoke, sings the younger tome, the Red Book of Westmarch. And Eriol, with eyes like starlight and hair so black it cannot be told apart from the mandorla of night behind him, his voice high and sweet and sad, sings the youngest of these, the Ea Isse, the ongoing tale of the reconstruction of Valinor and the hope of crossing the Sundering Seas. The upper floor is divided into three chapels, each with a dais at the fore where the Maiar will manifest to sing if but one supplicant approaches.

One floor below are the ruins of the old abbey amid a field of moss and simbelmynĂ« (pratia puberula alba), lit by sunglobes that mimic the time of day above. Here the Subcreators and any favored of the abbey can come to rest and contemplate. An ancient ruin in a field of mourning stars is the sort of place most Jacobites love best, and you can oft find them sleeping curled on a mossbank or leaning against the old walls with eyes closed, humming the holy songs to themselves. No raised voices are permitted, though it is fine to stroll and talk. On high holy days, the Brothers and Sisters hold feasts here – at which singing, drinking, dancing, and rowdiness are permitted – but no fireworks.

On the floor below that, the building widens into a honeycomb where the younger Jacobites log in, each resting in his or her “bark,” as they call the silver, canoe shaped pods with their swanhead prows. All Jacobites who maintain physical lives, as well as visiting subcreators and allies, log in on this level. Security is run by the Mearas, Synths in the shape of white horses who moderate and monitor the server on that level. They are a hybrid AI, with individual consciousnesses but a single will, like a hive with its queen. They will let you ride them to your bark, if it is far, and they answer questions in deep voices, each unique. But if you come with any malware attached or attempt to change any of the deep structures of code without permission, they are swift and terrible in their attacks, tearing the sleeper from his bark both physically and in the realms of Ea, with teeth and code. If you do not resist, they will bring you to a cell to await questioning and debugging. If you do, they may trample you on the spot. They seem able to feel both affection and wrath, and are more dangerous for it than your average AI.

On the floor below that is the Helcaraxe, the bridge of ice. Here older Jacobites or those who have earned the right to forgo Arda altogether are kept in this in between place. A massive cryogenics holding chamber, it appears like a server room, with solid white towers stretching in a grid. Within the towers the Subcreators are held in stasis. They are only half frozen, not a full stasis, for then their minds would not be free to wander. But their bodies are slowed so that they require few nutrients and live longer than the average human lifespan. The Subcreators here have flown in spirit to Valinor, their consciousnesses inhabiting robotic bodies far away, terraforming Mars polar fields into a paradise. ElenwĂ«, the security AI of the Helcaraxe, exists solely in Ea. She only appears to threats and to the dying – for even here bodies must fail. There are various tales about her appearance, from a mad, dessicated wight to a guiding spirit pale as the moon and swathed in a lace of frost. Since the only ones who see her die, and her programmers have joined the ones she gathered, no one able to speak of it knows. Fear of her alone keeps the Helcaraxe safe from all but the most daring blasphemers.

Holyrood Abbey

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