- See also: Horizon (disambiguation)
Created in the 1450s, Horizon is in many ways the United Nations for mages: as an ideal, it was a place for Tradition mages to meet and collaborate in peace and mutual respect, whether to resolve disputes, discuss magical theory, or plan for the Ascension War. In reality, the Council Chambers has for centuries been a center for politicking, infighting, and foot dragging. And though Horizon was crafted as the embodiment of everything the Traditions could accomplish, its distance from the troubles of Earth often contributed to the insularity of those who resided there. Since the Avatar Storm, travel to Horizon has become nearly impossible, and it is uncertain what remains of the realm or the fate of those who lived there. As such, most of the information in this article speaks of Horizon at its height, when it was the forum for the Council of Nine and a refuge from the onslaught of the Order of Reason.
The founders of Horizon made the Realm the size of a small moon with two continents, Orbis Finiens and Posht, most of which are wilderness occupied only by the bygones sheltered from the decline of magic. Two bridges of land connect the continents along the east and west, while the oceans Arcturis and Triton's Deep border them to the north and south. Orbis Finiens has long been the headquarters of the Traditions, with the Council Chambers at its center, Concordia around it, and beyond open valleys, shining lakes, and a variety of small villages. To the north are great timber forests and then the Glacial Pools from which the land's rivers spring. In the west the plains eventually turn into desert, while in the east the land grows colder as rolling hills stretch on. Finally, Orbin Finiens' southern edge is ringed by great mountain ranges from which tall waterfalls drop into the sea.
Posht was until recently considered frontier land, a much harsher version of its sister. In recent years, however, it was divided equally between the Traditions as pie-slices extending from Mount Apollo and a number of smaller mountains at the continent's center. In 1995 a sudden earthquake opened an immense rift in the south between the territories claimed by the Sons of Ether and Virtual Adepts, seemingly creating a tenth slice of territory that has thus far remained unclaimed.
About half of Horizon's population of thirty thousand resides together in the only true mage city in existence. Roughly 15 miles in diameter and surrounded by a 50-foot wall that has long since become mere decoration, Concordia is divided into nine Wards named for each Sphere, with each Tradition given the responsibility of governance for the Ward corresponding to their seat on the Council of Nine. Unlike the subrealms of the Council Chambers, however, there is no actual segregation amongst citizens and cross-tradition assistance between the Ward bureaucracies is common. Concordia has a number of individual sites and attractions befitting a mage society attempting to embrace the diversity of Earth's cultures, including magical artifacts and edifices that the Traditions have offered to one another as gifts in the past. Poverty is nonexistent within the city and there is overall harmony among the populace, though as with any large community there are still incidents of petty crime and prejudice.
The Council Chambers
In the center of Concordia lies the Council Chambers, a large circular structure built atop an ancient hill. Everything about the building is a celebration of the diversity and unity the Traditions hope to embody, smoothly blending architectural styles from different centuries and cultures around the world. The innermost room is a 600-foot domed hall where meetings of the Council of Nine and Horizon's other governing sessions are held. The Fenestrae, ten high circular windows in the dome, constantly channel quintessence into the room, filling it with palpable energy and charging the ten Seats of Power positioned around a huge table in the middle of the chamber. Each Seat is tied to a particular Sphere of magic and bears its symbol. For centuries the 10th Seat was reserved for guests and bore no mark, but in 1993 a strange rune appeared upon it, sparking intense struggles as each Tradition tried to claim it as their own. Even stranger, all of the Seats began rearranging themselves at 20-day intervals with no apparent pattern. What any of it means remains a mystery, but speculation runs wild as to what these events portend.
Ten hallways lead out from the main room, nine of which lead to the small subrealms devoted to the culture and beliefs of one of the nine Traditions. Powered by the energy from the Fenestrae, these areas normally serve as meeting grounds and rest stops for a Tradition's members, though some Council Members have turned their realms to more personal uses. Visitors are usually allowed in after some sort of protocol expressing respect for the Tradition's ways, a small attempt at discouraging those not sympathetic to the Tradition's beliefs. Just beyond these rooms are the courtyard and the Hall of Records, which houses over a billion volumes collected over the centuries. Set into the hill below the Council Chambers are any number of dormitories, libraries, classrooms, temples, and other areas necessary for an enlightened society.
Guarded by centuries of wards created by some of the most powerful mages in history, entering Horizon is no simple feat. While it is possible to teleport directly there, doing so is incredibly difficult and dangerous, certain to draw Paradox and alert the realm's guards. Instead, a number of pathways are maintained and carefully watched by the realm's defenders that can be used by those given permission. There are of course a few secret entrances maintained by some of the Traditions, but these tend to be even more heavily guarded than the main gates.
Each of the Traditions has contributed a major node of great power as well as a number of smaller nodes to the upkeep and defense of Horizon. Nine star-shaped bastions along the Diamond Wall of Concordia channel quintessence from these nodes on Earth, through the Fenestrae and into Horizon Chantry. Between every two bastion is a gate named after one of the Spheres of magic, such as the Gate of Forces or the Gate of Life, that is controlled by the appropriate Tradition and leads to one of the major nodes. These are heavily guarded, for the nodes have been frequent targets of the Technocracy and losing access to them would be heavily damaging to Horizon. The gates, who controls them, and where they lead are listed below:
- The Gate of Correspondence (Virtual Adepts): The Digital Web
- The Gate of Entropy (Euthanatos): Artaxerxes' Court, Persepolis
- The Gate of Forces (Order of Hermes): The Library of Alexandria, Carthage
- The Gate of Life (Verbena): Lough Neagh, Ireland
- The Gate of Matter (Sons of Ether): Thomas Edison National Historical Park, New Jersey
- The Gate of Mind (Akashic Brotherhood): The Dragons of Guilin
- The Gate of Prime (Celestial Chorus): San Lorenzo in Lucina
- The Gate of Spirit (Dreamspeakers): Arches National Park
- The Gate of Time (Cult of Ecstasy): Gediz Caves, Turkey
Officially, there are only three portals leading from Earth and along twisting paths in the Umbra leading to Horizon. Named for the Greek Fates, Atropos, Clotho, and Lachesis, these portals are guarded by the mages called the Servitors Principle, who oversee the maps and passwords necessary to enter. These are changed daily, with close records being kept of who is informed of new protocols. In order to be given this information, an individual with suitable clout in one of the Traditions must have a message sent from a respectable chantry to Horizon requesting permission for passage. Without this information, an individual is likely to be banished or attacked by the gates' powerful guardians or the portals themselves before even stepping foot into the Umbra.
Even after passing through the portals, the road through the Umbra is not an easy one. In fact it is deliberately disorienting and unnerving, meant to discourage even Masters who do not show enough determination. The laws of physics break down as travelers are assaulted by impossible sensations, shifting paths, and strange puzzles. The experience is never the same twice, nor is the destination; while most of the time individuals end up within a mile of Concordia, sometimes the Ways deposit someone much farther from the Horizon Chantry.