This page contains spoilers for the following products: Ruins of Azlant (adventure path).
|City of Golden Gates|
|Size||Metropolis (assumed); currently ruins|
Source: Tower of the Drowned Dead, pg(s). 67
The City of Golden Gates was the resplendent capital of the Azlanti Empire, the first great human empire of Golarion. It was almost completely destroyed by Earthfall, but its corpse still hints at the glory of the long-gone empire.
According to the Manual of City-Building (the most reliable account of the City of Golden Gates), it was built upon the sides of a 500-foot-high hill above a verdant plain surrounded by a forest where noble manors and commoners' houses were located. The Imperial Palace with its famous Throne of Glass, was located on the summit of the hill, separated by the city proper by a deep canal fed by a never-ending stream of water which rose from the earth. From this canal, four channels led the water through the four quarters of that level of the city before supplying another circular canal on a lower level. Four such concentric canals existed on different levels of the city; the lowest one received all the water and discharged it into the chief port of the empire, on the eastern coast of Azlant. The Imperial Palace, perched upon the eastern edge of the highest canal, dominated the city's skyline and watched over Azlant's colonies on other continents.
The City of Golden Gates was the epicentre of Earthfall's devastation. Its eastern third was directly hit by a meteor which slammed into the rest of the city, reducing it to rubble. In the following earthquakes, the majority of the plains surrounding the city, sank down into the Arcadian Ocean, leaving the ruins of its upper districts, the High City, overlooking the sea below. The Imperial Palace was almost completely erased, but shards of its famous glass ceiling retain their hardness, and are forged into throneglass weapons by the Knights of the Ioun Star. The palace's garden springs continue to flow, creating majestic waterfalls on the city's sheared eastern edge. Some of Azlant's greatest treasures allegedly can be found in the ruins of the City of Golden Gates, but it has been centuries since an expedition returned.
Despite the destruction of Earthfall and ten millennia of erosion, numerous structures still remain in the Low City. The most important of them is the Lore of the First Masters, an enormous horacalcum monolith in a wide plaza, inscribed with the story of Azlant's founders and the laws they wrote for their subjects. Other buildings include temples to nearly all the Azlanti pantheon of deities and the immense original chapter house of the Knights of the Ioun Star. Some very rare subterranean vaults remain undisturbed, sealed from the Arcadian Ocean's waters, and packed with unimaginable lore and wealth.
Just off the original coast and the site of the old harbour, on the floor of the Arcadian Ocean, lies an enormous rift connecting the Arcadian Ocean to the Inverted Sea. A waterspout known as the Braid extends upwards through the rift.
The upper districts of the City of Golden Gates are now inhabited by dangerous creatures: dragons drawn there by its majesty, morlocks descended from the nobles who once walked its streets, and evil outsiders that were once bound by the Azlanti, but were freed by Earthfall and now see themselves as petty kings of their former masters' dominion.
Due to the pure waters from the Imperial Palace's springs, many sea dwellers view it as a sacred site and fight over the sea below, particularly nereids, who feel an overwhelming calm unlike anywhere else on Golarion, and endlessly and ferociously defend their territory from evil merfolk, water elementals, and sahuagin who seek to claim the waters.
Followers of Abadar regard the City of Golden Gates as the perfect example of a city. While Abadar's First Vault is said to contain an ideal version of everything that has ever existed, the City of Golden Gates is said to be an exception, Abadar's gift to the Azlanti, with no parallel in the First Vault. Old clerics of Abadar sometimes make a pilgrimage to the ruins to live out their final days among perfection and keep its fires burning for heroes who might restore it. Every morning, they gaze down to the depths with a blank expression, supposedly to contemplate that even humanity's greatest works must eventually end.
In truth, the Abadaran cultists are controlled by the alghollthus, the true masters of Azlant since the Age of Legend. Although the empire is long gone, the alghollthus still jealously scheme and maintain their claim on the ruined City of Golden Gates from its deepest corners. They watch lesser creatures squabbling, occasionally psychically nudging them to keep things interesting or remove potential threats. They zealously protect the Lore of the First Masters, which is the product of their propaganda on the first Azlanti, especially from vandals or thieves. Some merfolk and gillmen consider it a sacred site and leave behind offerings, attracting explorers who find themselves attacked by the alghollthus who constantly watch over it, and seek to mind control them as sleeper agents.