The Great Temple is the central, main temple in Underhill, dedicated to all of the Goddesses of the Yuriban Pantheon, located in a central part of Underhill where paths and the different regions of the various communities come together. The Temple grounds consist of the main temple, a library used as a school secondary to the library within the Great Temple, a set of dormitories for the priestesses, a hospital, and a small barn and farm. To the north of the Great Temple stand the grounds used for the Centennial Gathering.
Building and Layout
An unassuming sort of building, it is large nonetheless, constructed of stone walls and wooden roofs. The stone for the most part appears to be one solid piece, appearing as if the temple were carved out of a giant boulder, forming the large circular building.
Eight obvious hallways lead off of the circle, four long, four short, a hallway at each compass point, the shorter ones at the main cardinal directions. Entering the temple comes up the south-eastern hallway, finding the main center circular building to be open in the center to the elements, the outer ring covered with a roof.
The South-Western Hall
Part of the temple, the south-western hall acts more as the 'business' section of it, the hall extended out over a dip of a hill, a second story below. The upper level of the hallway houses the extensive library of the temple, the library taking up most of the upper floor with only a small part dedicated to a scribe room and to the room where the priestesses prepare for services. The second level houses the storage and cleaning items for the rest of the temple, a room for candle making and different repair rooms for statue and stone. Taking up the part of the lower story that looks out over the hill is a large lounge and kitchen, intended for banquets and dinners in celebration or reflection after various ceremony and services.
All of the Ladies are represented within the Great Temple, though it is overall dedicated to The Lady, as she is the utmost among them and deserves the greatest of devotions. The most interesting feature of the individual shrines would be how aside from the Shrine to The Lady, all of the shrines are set up in such a way that they could be moved easily, no decoration such as paint or mosaic on the walls. This leave things open to expansion, following along with the Yuriban belief that the eventual end of the spiral of the soul is to join with the deities, perhaps even becoming one as well.
The Lady's Garden
The immediate focal point of the temple as one comes up the entrance hallway is The Lady's Garden, and the reason for the open roof design of the temple. An immense oak tree rises from a mound at the center, up through the opening and branching out in a wide shading umbrella of leaves. Gnarled roots tangle around and over large boulders and hold the oak into the ground, the roots reaching out into the wide circle of the temple, toward and down each of the hallways through grooves in the stone floor. Multitude of birdsong rings out from the oak, a rainbow of color from all of the birds that nest and flock through the tree, and make home within it’s roots.
Around the base of the oak, wild roses nestle within and climb about the oak roots, their white color a soft brightness amid the green mosses and grass that grows under the tree. Small pools of water lay within some of the smoothly curved stones and in small ponds hidden within the roots, a few waterfalling into each other and forming small streams that disappear below stones. There is no formal altar, but between a small circle of boulders lies a clearing easily accessible from the walkway around the garden, the clearing obviously the altar of the garden. Candles rest on each of the boulders, ages of wax dripping down the stones. Small vases of flowers and bundles of offerings are tucked into the spaces between the boulders and in the roots within reach from the clearing.
The Ladies of the Seasons
Within the small hallways off of each of the four compass points are the shrines to the Ladies of the Seasons and compass directions, the hallways lined with wide windows and soft padded benches below each. Between each window hang iron torch sconces for lighting at night, the wall above each darkened slightly with a bit of soot. The ceiling is a warm, tan wood, wide panels forming the roofs.
Fuyuzora's shrine is housed within the northern hallway, nestled at the end of the hall. A niche carved in the wall holds a painted white marble statue of a young woman clothed in white, light blue, and gray robes that flow and give the impression of thick, snow heavy clouds. Her face is shrouded with the winter hood of her robes and strands of her long silvery hair, her hands folded together and partly obscured by the long arms of the robe. Despite the wintery aspects of the statue, her stance hints at a welcoming person below the hood, should you try to look. Behind the statue a cool fog drifts down from the ceiling, crawling over the floor and setting a glittering 'diamond dust' of small snowflakes eternally in the air. An altar stands in front of the statue, white and blue candles placed upon it, offerings scattered over it's surface and laid on the snowy stone hill the statue stands on. Set on pillars at either side of the altar are two Juniper bonsai within white stone urns, each fairly tall and old, roots crawling over the edges of the urns.
To the south opposite of Fuyuzora's shrine lies the shrine to Zansho, statue in the niche at the back wall. Unlike the other hallways, instead of stone the niche is made from one solid panel of glass that forms a little dome like a small greenhouse. The painted white marble statue is of a lounging, nude, adult woman stretched on her side, her head propped up in one hand, the other dangling a piece of grass above a cat that stands on its hind legs to try to catch it, another large, fluffy seeming cat curled up in the crook of her hip. Zansho shares similar traits with the cats, deep purple cat ears perk up through her long pale yellow hair, her hair long enough to drape over her form, a long tail the same color as her ears laid up over her hip. An altar stands in front of the statue, flowers of every kind in short vases cover the surface, filling the hallway with their fragrance, hiding offerings amid their petals. Growing from pots on either side of the altar are two dwarf Powder Grapefruit trees, each tree constantly in flower yet also with ripe fruit every week.
The western hallway houses the shrine to Akibimi, like the other hallways with a statue in the niche of the back wall. The painted white marble statue is of a young adult raven haired woman seated on a stone at the side of a flowing creek, one foot stretched down into the water, she wearing a kimono patterned with falling leaves and painted with the colors of autumn; vibrant oranges, yellows, reds and some browns. The ground around her is coated with fallen leaves of every kind of tree and a few fallen branches. Within the statue's hair hang more leaves, these seeming to be a physical part of the woman depicted, and a wreath of branches crowns her brow. The altar in front of the statue is laid out with small bundles of twigs and sticks tied with vine, pressed leaves covering the surface below. Bits and pieces of offerings lie within the twigs and leaves. Set on pedestals on either side of the altar are two Japanese Maple bonsai. The larger bonsai on the left is obviously dead, the artistically formed branches now the base for growing mosses and small mushrooms, while the bonsai on the right is young, growing and smaller, showing promise of growth into an artistic tree like the other.
Across from Akibimi is the shrine to Harumeku, nestled within the eastern facing hallway. A statue of a matronly, curvy and busty older woman rests cross-legged in a field of grass, her rabbit ears perked high, face holding a warm, welcoming smile, a wreath of woven ribbons resting between her ears atop her gray touched brunette hair, the ribbons trailing down over her shoulders. She holds her apron bottom up in front of herself, it filled with baby animals, rabbits, squirrels, birds, foxes. Around her lie and play other baby animals including a wolf and bear cub along with several different bird chicks, and more rabbits. The altar in front of her is all but hidden below trailing ribbons of her favored colors; indigo, soft blue and lilac. Empty bird nests and braided clippings of hair are among the offerings to her. Standing in four pots, two on the floor and two on short bases, are four eternally blooming sakura trees, their fragrance filling the hallway, petals draped over the floor.
The North-Eastern Hall
The North-Eastern hall is fairly long, four short hallways jutting out from it, two on each side. Each short hallway is a shrine to a Goddess, the rest of the hallway lined with windows and torch sconces, the end of the hallway holding a flowing tapestry split into four distinct sections. The tapestry depicts each of the Goddesses housed within this hallway.
The first hallway to the left is where the shrine of Issui stands. The statue of the goddess depicts a lithe, aqua haired woman stepping gracefully from the crest of a wave, her body draped in vibrant green seaweed, she holding a native fishing boat in her hands in front of her. Leaping from the wave and water around her are various fish and aquatic animals, a pair of otter twining about her feet and swimming forward like an escort. From the stone flows a waterfall that pours down from the statues base, pooling in a wide raised tub, koi fish and turtles lazily swimming about within the water. Standing in the tub and rising above it is her altar, a fine blue silk draped over the surface. Shells, stones, fishing nets and hooks, and a coil of boat rope along with a nautical compass are among the offerings to her. To either side of the altar, in the 'second' level of the tub, two dwarf Yuriban Mangroves grow, their roots coiled about the tub and trailing down into the tub below where the fish swim around them.
Continuing down the left side of the hallway, is the shrine to Amanohara. Her statue is of a willowy woman standing facing into the wind, her blond curls tousled and tossed behind her. Her light sundress, painted in shades of pale blues, gray and white, is caught up around her legs as the wind plays with it, the wind caught in the open cup of her large feathered, white and blue wings. She smiles into the wind, her eyes closed, feet braced against it and bare toes gripping down into the cloud that forms the base of her statue. Soft fog rolls from the base of the cloud, drifting down to the floor and partly down the hallway. The altar in front of the statue holds numerous candles in various shades of gray, shiny pieces of lightning glass glittering on the altars surface among the various offerings to the goddess. Held in large vases at either side of the altar are artful bundles of willow switches and reeds, feathers of all sorts of different birds, but mostly white crane and Lucent Swan feathers, are tied among the willows. A soft whistling sound is heard constantly blowing through the willows and reeds.
Across from Amanohara's shrine on the right side of the hallway, the brightly lit and warm hallway leads to the shrine to Kaika. The windows within this hallway are constantly open, for the statue of the shrine stands amid a constantly burning flame, letting the smoke and warmth escape. Kaika’s statue depicts the dark haired woman in the end of a pirouette, the athletic woman with her arms raised in dance, her flowing red dress dancing around her like the flickering flames that burn around her. The altar in front of her, set a bit further away from the statue than the others due to the flames, is covered by a red cloth. A small dagger, oil lantern, and cooking pot are among the offerings to her. To either side of the altar stand tall ever burning torches, though while the fire around the statue produces heat and light, the torches have a sense of magic shielding that protects any from burning themselves with the statue's flame.
Back down the hallway on the right side, across from Issui, Chikyuu has her shrine. Unlike the white marble which makes up the other statues, this statue at first glance may seem like an actual oread standing there, the statue a dark brown and rose granite. Standing boldly and facing down the hallway, the short haired Chikyuu stands with her arms crossed over her chest, a hammer and chisel in her hands, carpenter and stone workers tools scattered about at her feet. The altar in front of her is a boulder with a smoothed carved top, more small symbolic tools left in offering to her among the bronze candlesticks. The light from the brown colored candles glitters off of the precious gemstones sparkling in the base of the statue and left in offering on the altar. To either side of the altar stand two stone pillars hewn from a single stone, ivy and moss twining around the pillars and into the pile of stones that lay below the statue and altar.
The North-Western Hall
The North-Western hall is fairly long, four short hallways jutting out from it, two on each side. Each short hallway is a shrine to a Goddess, the rest of the hallway lined with windows and torch sconces, the end of the hallway this time with a shrine there rather than a tapestry. This hallway is a bit darker than the North-Eastern hall, a few less windows, a few less torches, but light radiates out brightly from the shrine first along the right side of the hall, a softer light from the shrine furthest back on the left.
The main source of light for the main hallway would be coming from the shrine to Kikoutei down the first hallway to the right. The statue itself radiates light, bright but somehow not harming the eyes to look at. A tall, strawberry blond haired older woman stands, dressed in travelers robes and pants painted a vibrant gold with red and bronze trim. Her hands securely hold a long pole, a swinging lantern tied to the tip, the source of most of the light from the statue. The bronze and copper altar in front of the statue is laden with crane feathers and mirrors, small lanterns that mimic the one the statue holds, and small vases of heliotrope flowers. Offerings of small bronze disks glitter in the light from the lantern. Standing on the floor at either side of the altar are two long, full length mirrors in an oval shape, the frame a bronze that shines in the light. The mirror on the left is covered mostly with a cloth, while the mirror on the right is left uncovered.
Across the hallway from Kikoutei’s shrine on the left side is the shrine to Engetsu. Her painted marble statue depicts a huntress, crouched against a ragged boulder that looks like the craggy peak of a mountain, her tan hair pulled back in a ponytail as she looks off into the distance down the hallway, wolfish ears perked high on her head, wolf tail curled along her side. She carries a bow in one hand, an arrow prepared in the other. A pair of wolves crouch and stand at her side, looking off in the same direction. The altar in front of the statue is carved of moonstone, small carved Moon Turtle shells are placed about it, filled with clear, still water, the larger bowls holding wide white water lilies. Offerings of arrowheads and small carved wolves dot about the altar. To either side of the altar are a pair of short pillars each holding a pot, dwarf silver leaf elm trees growing up level with the statue in each.
The main hallway grows darker as one passes the shrine of the sun, soft, cool light coming from both hallway, brighter moonlight coming from the shrine to Tsuki. The statue of the dark robed woman kneels with her face turned away, one hand covering her eyes, pale blond hair hiding most of her face. Her other hand rests atop a softly glowing lantern at her feet, the source of the pale blueish light that fills the hallway when the moon is full, the hallway falling dark with the new moon, the level of light varying with the phases of the moon. The onyx altar in front of her is largely bare, a black cloth draped over it’s surface, though a few tokens symbolizing the moon phases are there, along with folded handkerchiefs. Small pieces of jewelry and other personal effects are placed in small bowls of water, the pieces seeming to have little obvious connection to the statue. To either side of the altar in wide, water and soil filled tubs hold black willow trees, their branches and viney leaves hanging low and brushing over the floor.
Across the hallway from the varying light of Tsuki’s shrine shines the more solid light shining from Tenteisei's shrine, the light coming from the statue herself. The statue is of a dark haired and pale skinned blindfolded woman, she holding her arms out and her deep purple cloak open in a welcoming gesture as she kneels on one knee, smiling softly down to any in front of the statue. Within the folds of the voluminous cloak shine stars, the cloak spreading out and down to the floor on either side of the pillar she kneels upon, all of the constellations of the sky able to be found shining within. On a sash wrapped around her waist are more stars, these symbolizing Tenteisei's Servants, those stars not always seen in the sky. The altar is made of silver and lower to the floor, more like a proper table, pillows on the floor in front of it. The altar is draped over with a soft white piece of silk; closed tarot decks, small piles of knuckle bones and other offerings fill the altar. To either side of the altar stand low pillars, telescopes, a starmap, and a compass made of gold set on top of each.
At the very end of the hallway, not off to either side, is a final shrine, this one to Zokutou, the shrine and statue not dimly lit like the rest of the hallway, lanterns holding a blue flame on the wall at either side of it. This statue is large, the white marble depicting an older, grey haired woman with a knowing, small smile, seated on a wide stump of a tree. She’s clothed in a long grey robe that pools about her feet, her hands folded in her lap over top of a large nautilus shell. Hanging from a branch that still extends off of the stump is a Mourning Bat, it's wings wrapped around itself as if in rest, but one eye is open and watching down the hall. Sharp eyes would notice that the surface of the stump Zokutou is seated upon is carved with a spiral winding in toward the center of it. The altar in front of her is a gray and white marble, filled with dozens and dozens of little offerings among the tall white candles. Each offering seems rather personal in nature, from hair ties to even braids of hair, rings and other jewelry, stones and dried flowers. To either side of the altar are pillars made of the same stone as the altar, but there seems to be nothing set on top of them.
It's location is a guarded secret, as it is not meant to accept offerings, but the priestesses assure that somewhere within the temple is a small acknowledgement of Inishie. When asked, they explain that to deny her presence is to in a way deny The Lady, that Inishie is still a part of it all and deserves at the very least a note of her presence within the temple dedicated to them all. Where this is however is not accessible to the public.
The Temple Complex
Making up the rest of the temple grounds, the various pieces of the complex form the daily life of the priestesses and visitors to the temple. The library there is a large, two story building, classrooms on the second story with individual rooms for quieter study and reading. The books within the library are mostly copies of the originals housed within the temple itself, and a growing collection of stories that the priestesses of Zokutou have gathered during the Centennial Gathering. Attached to the library is a multi story dormitory for the priestesses, bedrooms, private libraries, a large kitchen and gathering room are the main features of this. Set a distance back from the dorm and library is a small farm dedicated to growing the food for the temple residents, mostly vegetables and some domesticated animals, any fruits needed are gathered from the Centennial grounds. Set in front of the dorms and near to the temple is a large hospital, a clinic for routine visits, a surgery and recovery rooms for longer stays and requirements. Part of the hospital is dedicated to something of a hospice and care home for the elder priestesses.