The Horseshoe Temple Oasis was a large and important oasis located deep inside the Quoya Desert of the Endless Wastes. It was home to the Horseshoe Temple, a large holy site sacred to three different faiths of the Hordelands, before it was seized by oni.
It was located in a box canyon concealed by the mountains and valleys of the desert, with walls of red sandstone. A small stone pyramid stood at the opening of the canyon, marking its entrance. Despite the surroundings, the Horseshoe Temple Oasis had an ample supply of pure fresh water that bubbled up from underground. This underground water supply allowed the oasis to never dry out, even under periods of extreme heat.
The bottom of the oasis was covered in grasses and flowers, and a number of small streams flowed out from the spring. Near the cliff side of the canyon was a dense grove of pine trees, planted before the mid–12th century by the priests who had carved the many caves in the cliff side.
The most prominent feature of the oasis was the network of over thirty caves, carved at various heights along the cliff-face, that formed the temple complex. From the foot of the cliff, carved from the face itself, was a broad staircase flanked by many statues (most later shattered by oni) and leading to a terrace on the first level. Higher levels were reached via wooden galleries or ladders hanging on the side of the cliff, or by stairways inside the cliff. There were four levels in all. These caves faced south and received some light during the day, via small windows cut through the rock. The carving was generally simple and lacking adornment, as were the furnishings. The caves were kept spotlessly clean by the priests, but the oni left them filthy and cluttered with debris.
Inside one of these caves on the third was the item the temple and oasis got its name from, a large block of polished sandstone with an impression of a large horseshoe in it. According to legend, it was at this spot that the Heavenly Sage, Hung Te Ping, stopped to rest during his travels between Shou Lung and the Celestial Bureaucracy. During this stop, the sage's wondrous horse was said to have struck its hoof on the rock, leaving the impression that remained for centuries after. Many followers of the Way believed this to be a holy site. The Great Horseshoe Chamber was huge and held a gigantic statue of Hung Te Ping, before which was the sandstone block. The room emanated an aura of goodness.
While by far the most important, there were other caves of note in this complex. On the ground level were the Grottos of the Nine Sages, each of which was dedicated to one of the great sages of Shou Lung legend. Important in the Path of Enlightenment, the Nine Sacred Sages here were Chou Zhiangpen the Lame; Ta-wan, the Little Holy Man; Tai Hsueh-chi, the White-Boned Healer; Li Chih-wu of Cham Fao; Yao Tsung-i the Swordbreaker; P'eng Khaisan the Barbarian; Hung Te Ping the Scholar; Hsiao Tzu-chi, the Grand Advisor; and Princess Pieh-chi. Statues of lesser sages stood in niches in the Gallery of Statues on the cliff-face. The goblins were allowed to dwell in the Grottos by the oni.
For the Padhran religion, the Hall of the Enlightened One housed statues of the three incarnations of the Enlightened One, surrounded by frescoes. The oni knocked the heads of these statues and defaced the frescoes, and installed a shrine to Li Pei here. Statues of lesser incarnations stood among the sages in the Gallery of Statues. The Hall of the Water Buffalo held a statue of the holy water buffalo Yampa. But most impressively, carved into a shelf in the cliff-face on the third level was a massive statue of the Enlightened One, reclining and asleep.
The Hall of Contemplation, built inside the cliff, contained niches holding statues and carvings of scripture.
Higher up were the Chambers of the Emperor Kao, built in honor of a great emperor of the Kao Dynasty of Shou Lung. These were filled with valuable treasures left there by various emperors of Shou Lung's dynasties.
The Lesser Hall of Perfect Understanding served as quarters to the abbots, and later to Halbasho. The Cave of Tranquil Peace was home to the bones of deceased abbots, which were neatly stacked in niches in the walls. The oni avoided entering this crypt, fearing the power of the dead abbots' spirits. They painted protective charms in the name of Li Pei on the walls leading to it.
Also in the complex was a private altar room, small and dark, for conducting personal prayers and offerings. The oni heaped garbage here. There were also residence halls for the priests and the Sutra Library, where large prayer wheels on posts from floor to ceiling were mounted and turned.
The Horseshoe Temple was normally inhabited by priests of the Way hailing from Shou Lung.
Some time before 1358 DR, a desperate band of goblins wandered out of the west. They'd fled from angry Firepeaks dwarves after stealing a fortune in platinum coins from them, and then been pursued over the steppe by nomad horsemen, and many had been killed in their flight. Whatever their wicked ways, the goblins were wretched and defeated when they arrived at Horseshoe Temple Oasis. Following their faith, the priests permitted them to settle in the far end of the canyon, on the provision that they behaved. Each day, the priests taught the goblins their faith, with some success, even turning them good.
However, circa 1358 DR, the temple fell under the control of evil oni, who slew the priests and made the location their home. As a few surviving priests escaped back to Shou Lung, the oni moved into the temple. They enslaved the goblins and systematically defaced the shrines and destroyed the artwork and treasures in the cavern complex, converting it to a temple to Li Pei, Lord of the Underworld.
Numbering 27, the goblins served the oni with reluctance, remembering the priests' kindness and teachings. In their crude understanding of the Way, the goblins viewed the oni as karmic punishment for the sins of goblin-kind, with a blend of regret and fatalism. Nevertheless, they cowered and waited a chance to fight back.
Some treasures yet survived the oni's desecration including a bell of warning, a biwa of calm, and eight diagram coins. The goblins saved some charms of protection from spirits when the oni ordered them to get rid of them. Otherwise, the caves still held some silver ornaments, the dwarves' platinum coins, and various gems prised from the statues.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 58–59. ISBN 978-0880388689.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Cards). (TSR, Inc), pp. 3a,3b. ISBN 978-0880388689.