Throughout Riiga are a set of colossal prehistoric structures built by an ancient people or pre-human beings referred to as the Manamorians, who lived somewhere between 5000 and 500,000 years ago. The ruins themselves are generally called high ruins or archaios in the west, or feixou in the east. The ruins names are given by the people who discovered them, primarily Temaneans and Benevans.
They are the largest structures in all of Riiga and are built mainly into cliffs or mountainsides. With the exclusion of Dalmuvar in Nor, they all show signs of significant and sudden damage, with huge solid stones seemingly blown apart by unknown forces. Erosion has also taken its toll on many ruins, though the way they treated their stone work seems to make it more resilient than what modern humans are capable of. The builders of the archaios demonstrate a more advanced understanding of architecture and geometry than modern masters. They are all made of the same durable grey-blue stone, all bearing the same patterns which don't match anything else in the world, and all show similar levels of decay, implying that they all come from around the same period. Some patterns, though very worn, are thought to depict unknown animals, suggesting that they were made in a time possibly hundreds of thousands of years in the past. The vastness and complexity of most of the ruins also implies that they could have been used as cities, able to house thousands of individuals.
On rare occasions, artifacts are found in archaios, but they are usually shards of pottery which sometimes holds onto its brilliant green or blue hues in the right conditions, strange small orbs as large as a fist and seemingly made of pure metals like gold, copper, or silver, or fragments of tools of unknown make and use. Rarer artifacts include weapon-like items, round stones containing crystalline formations, sealed metal or ceramic vessels, and other trinkets similar in appearance to bells, hooks, rings, clasps, circlets, and other jewellery, but these items are considered to be extremely rare and many doubt such things even exist.
Though adventurers today will likely not find any powerful magical items -- usually called artifacts -- when exploring archaios, the occasional artifact has been discovered in recent history. This leads magic scholars to believe that the vast majority of artifacts came from the first explorers of archaios, and from there the items wound their way across kingdoms and empires, mostly ending up in the hands of magic scholars, great rulers, and sometimes the very ambitious. Most artifacts are items that can be worn, but some are weapons. There are rumours of artifacts that also don't seem to hold any magic, such as mechanical weapons similar in nature to the crossbow, but no surviving item exists.
Features and Rooms
There are legends that tell of the very first adventurers who delved into the archaios and discovered very strange things. Tales tell of murals or carvings that, when touched, force an experience upon the person, like a memory or dream from another life. There are also stories of deadly enchanted traps that will drain the life out of those caught in them, further enhancing the trap's magic; illusory hallways that trap victims in endless cycles of corridors, or even a single room; rooms dedicated to depicting a horrific fate in the form of jagged sculptures, spaces that seem lethal to enter, mutilated bodies caught in traps, and so on, presumably to either warn of dangerous traps or to describe historic events.
Na Hangme is located in the Valley of Life, at the western-most end of Ttudyqu. It has a long history with the Dunin people, who have used it as a sacred ritual site in the past, but have since declared it a place of great evil, as monsters seem to enjoy frequenting it in recent decades. Unlike the other temples, it is in a very dry, dusty environment, and has little in the way of plant growth to adorn its ancient surfaces. It is primarily built into either side of a canyon which has suffered a lot of collapse over time, so much of the archaios has become rubble in the valley itself. Architectural features suggest a bridge once connected the two sides of the valley, which would have been the second largest stone bridge in the world, reaching around 300 meters (985 feet) across three arches above a river 120 meters (390 feet) below. The largest would have been the Patre bridge of Mautava.
This archaios is located at the eastern-most end of the Blood Mountains in Batur. It is very overgrown and is built into a mountainside. Some of its stones were borrowed to construct the Ladarean Wall around 800BD, as it is near the southern-most point of the wall's beginnings. During the Thousand Wars Period around 500BD, Sefu Nas was used as a shelter for refugees trying to flee west into Baturun lands from the Rui Pi Kingdom. However, after some of the refugees began to disappear, and a secret hole leading into unknown black depths was discovered, the refugees fled the scene, never to return. Sefu Nas is not known to house monsters to the degree that Na Hangme does, but those who venture into the secret tunnels leading inside never return to tell of their findings.
Sanists believe that Riiga was instead created by powerful gods who had a great civilisation centered around the Archaios city of Sefu Nas. They thrived there and spread prosperity and wealth until they decided to make human servants for themselves. The humans, consumed by envy and pride, defied their divine masters and caused the downfall of the kingdom of the gods, and the ruin of Sefu Nas. Worship is reserved for these gods, rather than for one's ancestors, who were traitors who gave in to their human flaws.
Alacas is the only archaios which has been adapted for human use, and shares the same name as the city which is built upon its foundations in Alacas. The archaios Alacas lies within a gathering point where water from the entire Tiuta Basin gathers, resulting in multiple levels of massive waterfalls. In the middle of this waterfall area is the archaios itself, its durable stonework barely worn by the constant rushing water. Alations in 100BD took advantage of the ruin's unassailable and picturesque position and settled, eventually building a grand city upon the ruins. Some say that doing so has made the people of Alacas slightly more magical than usual, and that the waters of the surrounding area have healing properties.
Found among the dark cliffs at the western-most end of Velena, Vyenri is invisible from the land above. One can only see the sheer stonework from below, either on the shores or from Umber Bay. Due to its position, it is one of the more difficult archaios to gain access to; many openings exist on the ruined city's sheer face, but descending from above has proven fatal on countless occasions, and ascending from below has only worked for a handful of people over the centuries. Many of the openings lead to supported walkways and structures, most of which overlook the waters, and explorers report it mainly being filled with sand, grass, and thousands of nests of seabirds. There are rumours that Qeyu pirates found a secret way into the sea level floors of Vyenri and used it to hide their treasure, but they lost access to these portions when the way collapsed about 700 years ago.
Dalmuver sits atop the northern-most cliffs at the north end of Granland. It is covered entirely in thick moss and sits on top of 350 meter high (1150 feet) cliffs and rises up another 80 or so meters (262 feet) itself, though the original undoubtedly was a lot taller. Like Vyenri, it is the home to many seabirds, some pirate coves among the rubble at the shore below, and the occasional adventurer looking for artifacts. Unlike Vyenri, however, it is one of the easiest archaios to access; the back end of it has heaps of grass-covered rubble that make it a short steep hike to reach the upper levels of Dalmuver. It is also one of the wider archaios, stretching along the cliffs with enough space to house a small city of people.
Found deep in the mountainous forests north of Fortria in Margon, Etlas is the most inhabited of the archaios after Alacas. Preserved by the surrounding forests to shield it from harsh weather, it supposedly still contains many enclosed spaces, and has historically been known to house the Venquis order; as such, common folk are not allowed anywhere near it. Legend has it that the first Venquis actually won the ruins from the clutches of monsters that lived there back in the days of the Vastins, in 412AL, and that the remains of the Giakdon that guarded it remain within the Venquis as a show of their authority against monsters.
The following are structures on the scale of Archaios, but are made using what appears to be different techniques, different materials, and different patterns of stonework. Whether or not these count as archaios is a controversial topic among historians.
Deep in the lush jungles of Ngoe in the Pzenkarl Basin, in the middle of the Keid capital city of Shuptalxia, sits a mighty temple draped in gigantic jungle trees. Like with Daarbang below, Genxren seems to be made of red stone blocks, unlike the grey-blue stone of all the other archaios. It is lived in by Keid, and Buroba himself dwells in the heart of the structure, despite it looking as though it has been crumbling for centuries, held apart mostly by large roots of trees. No human has ever been allowed to enter Genxren. It is doubted whether the Keid built Genxren or Daarbang, as they have nothing else even remotely as extravagant as these two monumental structures.
Daarbang is an ancient stone wall deep in the eastern end of the Pzenkarl Basin, near the Red Peaks. According to explorers, the Keid built it to keep away Fanoran invaders, but, much like with Genxren, the amount of stone, knowledge, and labour needed to build a stone wall so high (40 meters, 130 feet on average), thick, and long in the middle of a jungle does not seem to be something the Keid possess in the slightest. Additionally, if it was the wall the Keid rely on to deter invaders from the east, one would expect them to maintain the structure, yet it shows no signs of having ever been repaired.
Abyss of Aiaosia
A recent discovery by the Benevis was the land of Aiaosia, a piece of Solcul which extends north enough to not be permanently covered in ice. At the western end of the land lived the Aiaosi, a primitive people, and on the eastern end was what is now called the Abyss of Aiaosia. Much like the archaios above, it is a monumental structure made of stone, but this one seemed to have been a city wrapped around the inside rim of a gigantic sinkhole of some kind. The only difference between this pit and a regular sinkhole is that this one has no discernible bottom, and it is far bigger than any other, measuring at about 1km in diameter (3280 feet). The bottom cannot be seen because the sun never holds the right angle to shine down, and not enough refracted light reaches below. The sounds heard echoing from the vast black hole have instilled terror in those who have heard it, and monsters have been sighted in the lower tiers of the city itself.
Not only is the design vastly different from any other archaios, but the stonework is also different; the stones are brown, and the patterns are different to the other known archaios.
Narhau is a great ruined structure similar in appearance to a well believed to have been built by the Patre. The opening is about 40 meters across (130 feet) but is filled in almost to the top. Even in the time of its discovery, the well was in ruins, heavily worn by countless years of desert weather. As with Mautava, it is thought by some to have been built well before the Patre appeared between 400BD and 100AL, indicating that they appeared previously a very long time ago, or some other race built these two structures.
Mautava is what appears to have once been a giant bridge and is also believed to have been built by the Patre. It is a bridge that is around the same height of the bridge at Na Hangme at around 120 meters (390 feet) in height, but the remains of the supports indiciate that it once stretched several kilometers in length, reaching from hills to the east into the desert to the west until the stones are buried deep under the sand. Two great stone pedestals marks the bridge's beginning. It is not known where the bridge once led.
A remote and hostile land of uncertain existence. The Nwasha and Erechai peoples speak of it in their legends, describing it as a large remote arid valley filled with a variety of ancient structures which seem to be very reminiscent of other archaios. But there are no reliable records of anyone who has visited and returned from the area. The name is also used for the tower that sits in the middle of the region, which, according to legend, is so high it pierces the stars at night. The clans warn anyone who shows interest in the land that it is cursed and sealed, and that venturing there will bring nothing but destruction, unleashing monsters and other unspoken atrocities upon the lands. It seems to share no history with the Patre.