Before The Gateway
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The gate stood. Tall. Magnificent. An archway of unbreakable stone that had stood for as long as time had existed, and some said, longer even than that.

No one knew how to use it, though everyone knew what it had been used for. Before they had all gone cold. Beneath the arch, a Withstander sat in an eternal vigilance. A formality, most thought, as by now there was nothing to guard.

Now, it was overshadowed by buildings built around it. Were it not indestructible, it's likely it would have been flattened for yet more living space in the ever shrinking space of Shattershock. As it were, below and around the stairway, had gathered a marketplace. One of the most popular in all the Islands. Beings of all sorts crowded the stalls, of all manner of size, shape, and dimensionality.

On a normal day, the marketplace would be in an uproar, a rush of ever constant movement through every hour, every state of the weather, money and items exchanging hands, tentacles, thoughts. As eternal as the marketplace was the noise.

But today was not a normal day. Today, the marketplace, for the first time since it had appeared, was still.

Because today the Withstander had moved.

Old, creaking limbs twisted into place, and thirteen eyes flared to life. This Presence was something that everything living and unliving on all the known islands knew at one point or another. When a Withstander was watching, you knew. And they could see everything.

Dust was coughed up from the crevices of the mechanical being as its dormancy came to an end, standing over 10 feet tall.

In response, the gate flared to life.

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And something stepped through.

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