Planejammer: The Seven Stars
Tovag Baragu (“Navel of the Oerth” in Bakluni) is a set of five broad circles composed of huge, smooth pillars of an extremely hard white rock. The pillars are sometimes fluted but more often entirely featureless, and they are set in a broad pavement of blocks made from the same material. The entire structure is circular and more than a mile across. It is perfectly level, though the land about it slopes westward towards Udrukankar. On its western border, one may descend from the platform in a series of broad shallow steps that ends rather abruptly some 20 or 30 feet above the salt flats. The eastern border of Tovag Baragu is of a height with the surrounding terrain, and dust and vegetation have invaded its margin.
It must have been a great work to transport the pillars, which are some 40 feet high each, to their present site. There is not rock of that sort within 200 miles, and indeed the origin of the stone is not known. Perhaps the blocks could have been transported on barges if the large rivers that once flowed across the steppe were present when Tovag Baragu was built. Also surprising, especially since so little else survived the Invoked Devastation, is the pristine condition of Tovag Baragu. There is no erosion, and not so much as a tilted pillar or canted paving stone. The local tribes make no claim that their ancestors ever constructed Tovag Baragu. This is most unusual given the nature of the locals and the undoubted accomplishments of their ancestors. For instance, nomads will solemnly aver that the rocky pinnacles north of Lake Udrukankar were once a vast lighthouse constructed for the lakeside city which stood there a millennium ago! Perhaps they are correct. Tovag Baragu does bear some fleeting resemblance to the badly eroded ruins one may encounter in the Jotens and Crystalmists, which have been attributed to an ancient civilization of stone giants. In the absence of evidence, however, Tovag Baragu cannot be said to have any certain origin, though the most obvious one is that of Bakluni construction.
Local human and centaur nomads hold Tovag Baragu to be holy, and many of the Dry Steppe tribes make it the subject of a yearly pilgrimage and festival, where they trade, contract marriages, and meet in ceremonial commemoration of the Suels’ destruction while their priests call down further curses on that land. The entire event lasts two weeks, and those attending it or traveling to or from it must abstain from feuds or warfare and are themselves immune from the same. For much of the rest of the year, the site is abandoned and it is considered ill fortune to see it even on the horizon. This is readily understandable; some of the phenomena that may be encountered there are disturbing even to the civilized mind.
One effect which is frequently observed by those who wander among the circles is that distant objects seen between them are sometimes magnified. Similar augmentations of the other senses may occur as well. In this manner it is possible to learn some astounding things, as in the case of Celene—but that is a topic for another account than this one. With concentration, it is sometimes possible to sharpen the focus, or choose one’s target. However, on occasion things may be seen through the pillars which are almost surely distant in time or planes rather than in space. One of the most frequent is a glimpse of a great lakeside city, usually at night. Another is of a verdant plain crowded with the peculiar mammalian life which may be found on occasion near the Sulhauts. More rarely one may see or hear regions which must surely be those of the Outer Planes.
These views would be entertaining rather than unnerving were it not that on occasion a connection is formed, and objects may pass between Tovag Baragu and the area depicted. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, these openings are rather fleeting. They may however account for some of the unusual creatures in the southern part of the Dry Steppe.
It remains to be mentioned that the locals believe Tovag Baragu has an effect on the weather. This is well substantiated, since those few outsiders allowed to observe the yearly ceremonies may see that the weather-summoning powers of the nomads’ priests are greatly augmented. Whether in fact Tovag Baragu operates unguided is an open question.
It was through the portals of Tovag Baragu that the Seven Stars chased Vecna and Dukagsh as the two wrestled for divinity.