|“||My first glimpse of the plain awed me. Its immensity was indescribable. It was as flat as a table forever. It was grey on grey on grey, with the road just barely darker. There was no doubt whatsoever that this was all one vast artifact.||”|
The glittering plain (sometimes place/plateau/plain of glittering stone, or simply the plain) is a gigantic, flat, circular plateau of grey stone, nearly 80 miles across, that connects sixteen entirely different worlds through a series of magic roads and Shadowgates. Until the events of Soldiers Live, the plain was utterly infested by lethal shadows for untold generations, but this had not always been the case.
The plain was a key location in the earliest history of the Black Company. And, more than 400 years later, it was revisited by descendants of the Company several times, beginning several months after the end of the Shadowmaster wars in She Is the Darkness; next, at the conclusion of Water Sleeps, and finally, during the events of Soldiers Live.
Only 3 of the 16 worlds linked by the plain are visited in the Annals: the homeworld of Croaker the Annalist; Hsien; and the Voroshk world. The worlds are physically similar if not identical, although they have different sets of constellations and even moons.
Overview[edit | edit source]
Geography and features[edit | edit source]
The plain is crisscrossed by roads which are of a slightly different color. Every six miles along these roads is a large circle the same color as the road, used as camping grounds by travelers. It is otherwise as flat and featureless as a table, marked only by standing stones bearing glittering, shifting inscriptions. The plain is capable of healing damage: small holes almost immediately; large fissures (such as the one created by an earthquake) in several years. Likewise, it slowly absorbs detritus and waste. In the center of the plain is the fortress with no name, from where the prehistoric golem called Shivetya has oversight and a degree of control over the entire plain. However, the fortress was a later addition and does not have the supernatural healing properties exhibited by the plain itself.
Sensations upon entry[edit | edit source]
Crossing a Shadowgate into the plain gives people a bizarre sensation of coldness, but, it is more of a psychic chill. The voice of an interlocutor on the other side of a Shadowgate sounds like it reaches one's ears "through a long metal tunnel" and having "a dampened, distant quality" despite being only a few feet away. On the plain, the world on the other side of a Shadowgate looks "kind of shimmery, as though [one is] seeing it through a curtain of heat", according to Murgen.
Prehistorical events[edit | edit source]
Creation[edit | edit source]
The plain was constructed ages in the past by mysterious entities known only as the Nef. In the beginning the plain was completely unadorned, containing only the roads which needed to be walked a certain way: all travelers must cross the circle at the center to reach other worlds. Travel was freely possible; there were no Shadowgates, no shadows, and no fortress yet.
The fortress and Kina[edit | edit source]
Eventually, armies of would-be conquerors warred across the plain. To put an end to the fighting, powerful sorcerers from a dozen worlds combined and erected the fortress with no name, staffing it with "created immortal guardians" to halt the armies.
In the next age, dimly reflected in Gunni myth, Kina began her murderous career. She was imprisoned by her enemies, and Shivetya, the the Steadfast Guardian, was appointed to guard her prison chamber beneath the fortress. Shivetya may have been the last of the original guardians of the fortress.
The shadows and standing stones[edit | edit source]
Afterward, a mad sorcerer of very high magnitude fancied himself a god, and sent millions of followers out to conquer all 16 worlds. In response, a race of sorcerers from one world captured millions of them, and, using a mass ritual sorcery, warped their souls into the shadows. Other races built the Shadowgates and protective fields over the roads to trap the horrible entities, shutting off the plain to all but the bravest and well-prepared travelers. The standing stones described in the Books of Glittering Stone were the last addition to the plain.