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Heartworks-0

The Heartworks are Lathe’s spiritual and cultural center, a highly vertical and open cavern within the rib cage of the petrified behemoth. The outer carapace of the beast has collapsed into an opening to the world outside some hundred yards tall, a yawning hole through which the enormous Spear of Triumph enters the carcass. This opening makes the district one of the few places in Lathe that benefits from sunshine and fresh air, and thus the Heartworks maintain great popularity among the rich as a place of residence. The Heartworks contain many locations of wonder from a wide open-air amphitheater shaped inside the beast’s ruptured lung to the many-storied garden monastery of the Immaculate Order that borders the Order’s public temple. Marble-paved roads and bridges criss-cross the district at various heights and lead to carefully supported platforms that play host to manors, theaters, libraries, bureaucratic offices, carefully tended parks and even an artificial lake inhabited by colorful birds and dragonflies.

The greatest attraction of the Heartworks, though, is the mighty spear that pierces the husk’s massive tubular heart. The heart itself hangs suspended by stony veins above the district, its surface riddled with beautiful stained glass windows depicting numerous warriors in colorful armor. A wooden bridge from the sloping ramps of the beast’s ribs leads to the entrance of the Temple of Triumph that has been carved inside the heart, a sacred sanctum to a god that has been missing and silent since time immemorial.

The Immaculate Order’s version of the temple’s origins speak of twenty heroic Dragon-blooded champions who with ancient magic combined themselves into one giant warrior. This merged champion then ripped a vein of magical metal straight out of a mountain and hurled it at the rampaging primal abomination called Heart-Cleaving Lathe, pinning it to the volcano with the power of the Five Immaculate Dragons. Mela’s breath gave the spear its speed as Daana’d’s fury kept Heart-Cleaving Lathe from leaving the island, Sextes Jylis’ jungles wrapped around the primal spirit’s hundred legs to keep it still while Heshiesh’s flames erupted from the volcano to scorch the monster. Pasiap himself finally appeared, turned the beast to stone and sealed it inside a sarcophagus of earth for all time. The native tribals of the area have a different version of the events and speak of an islander woman by the name of Thousand Song who with golden light slew the spirit - an oral tradition the Immaculate Order has tried to make them forget. Regardless of the truth, the Temple of Triumph is unanimously accepted a sign of victory over insurmountable odds and overwhelming obstacles. The Immaculate Order stresses strength in unity and a local tradition has formed over the years that suggests that whenever a new citizen arrives to Lathe, they give an article of white or red clothing to be wrapped around the spear’s shaft.

The Immaculate Order in Lathe values piety, not zealotry. The highest ranking Immaculate, the air-aspected High Priestess Mistral, knows the value of moderation and patience and actively bestows her wisdom to those under her command. Rather than purge the demon cultists with a heavy hand, Mistral would rather set a good example and show people the virtues of the Immaculate Dragons. A cult brutally purged with sword and flame will always spring back up, but teaching people the truth and wisdom of the Immaculate Way will turn them to the side of righteousness forever. This approach takes time, and sometimes seems intolerable to those who lack wisdom, but it is the surest way to cure Lathe. Even with such a reserved attitude, the Immaculate Order won’t hesitate to eliminate anyone who actively threatens Lathe, including rioting cultists, predatory raksha, rogue demon summoners and, of course, Anathema. The demon slayers of the cult of Meherest that inhabit the submerged levels of Lathe might not be followers of the Immaculate Dragons, but the Order finds their paradigm similar enough that they are willing to cooperate with them when it comes to the threat of Malfeas. On top of that, the Immaculate has devout followers in all areas of life in Lathe, acting as informers for the Temple about the comings and goings of the various factions. The Immaculate Order has become slightly more popular since Satrap Ogata and Jagamaru started throwing their weight around, as the people have begun to see how inoffensive the Immaculates are in comparison. Skeptics still suspect that the two groups are secretly working together to show the Order in a more positive light.