Chapter: Earth and Sky

Information relevant to the 5th chapter of The Chosen

the Labyrinth
Isle in Osrakum

Lying within the Yden, the Labyrinth covers the ridge connecting the Plain of Thrones to the Pillar of Heaven. It consists of an immense, hypostyle hall in which each column is a mausoleum for a past God Emperor, Empress or other important personage from the House of the Masks; there are over one thousand of these column mausolea. Originally they were free standing; it was only later that they were spanned by arches, and the whole structure roofed over. The Halls of Rebirth are partially built into the south-western wall of the Plain of Thrones but they also spill into the Labyrinth

Labyrinth lying between the Plain of Thrones and the Pillar of Heaven

The two depressions that ‘nip’ the cross-section of the Pillar of Heaven contain the only ways by which it can be climbed. The north-western depression contains the Rainbow Stair

the Pillar of Heaven
the Pillar of Heaven

The Pillar of Heaven is the remains of the last volcanic eruption at Osrakum. A vast cinder cone, eroded over aeons, leaving only the basaltic intrusion of the main vent. This structure actually consists of two pipes ‘welded’ together, that reach a height of 2500m above the level of the Skymere

first conception of the Pillar of Heaven

This sketch shows my initial conception of the Pillar of Heaven that had a small lake set into its summit. This lake fed a series of waterfalls that cascaded down the Pillar, in what later became the Rainbow Stair. At this point I conceived of the Halls of Thunder as being built into the cliffs overlooking this lake. Both these and the summit lake were discarded

The final form the Pillar took is shown in the first diagram—and can also be seen in the model I made of Osrakum. It is based on Devil’s Tower in Wyoming— that, incidentally, was the mountain playing a central role in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The Pillar of Heaven, at the heart of the crater, dominates Osrakum. Close to its summit it has been hollowed to form the caves and chambers known as the Halls of Thunder. It is here that the God Emperor and the rest of the House of the Masks retire from the summer heat. In this respect, the Halls of Thunder perform the same function for the Imperial House as do the various eyries of the other Houses of the Chosen. The Halls of Thunder are reached from the Labyrinth by means of the Rainbow Stair

the Rainbow Stair

The Rainbow Stair is a staircase cut into the rock of the Pillar of Heaven, in a depression running up its north-western face. Its name derives from the way it is paved, as is described in The Chosen:

“steps striped with red chalcedony and amber, gold, jade, turquoise and lapis blue and, where they touched the Pillar, bordered by a band of amethyst”

The Chosen believe rainbows link earth and sky. This is why the God Emperor, and others of the House of the Masks, wear a vertical rainbow strip as part of their heraldry. The Rainbow Stair connects the earth of the Labyrinth with the Halls of Thunder cut high into the Pillar of Heaven. These halls are believed to be in the sky

various ‘landings’ of the Rainbow Stair

These three diagrams show sections of the Rainbow Stair as it zig-zags 2000m up the face of the Pillar of Heaven. The lowest diagram shows the steps rising from the ground. The middle diagram shows a portion of the Stair (in which a scene from The Chosen is enacted) that is bordered on its northern edge by a narrow lake, and on its southern edge by wayhouses. These wayhouses are caverns cut into the rock in which the traffic going up and down the Stair can shelter for the night. The topmost diagram shows the termination of the Stair at the gates to the Halls of Thunder