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There are at least two ways into the caverns, a large obvious passage and a secret "back" passage. The system is very large, and one can be easily lost within it. It consists of tunnels connecting nearly-identical chambers.
The caverns are decorated in many ways, including ropey "swirls" which resemble vines. A "heartbeat" sound echoes in the caverns, getting louder as one approached the large central chamber housing a giant khaydarin crystal.
During the Aeon of Strife, the Shelak Tribe collected xel'naga relics, protecting them from the other tribes. However, only two tribe members, Savassan and Temlaa, were interested in studying the relics; both left the tribe to better do so without interference.
- Main article: Khas and the Psychic Link
Through the use of khaydarin crystals, the two scholars were able to understand the writing on the relics. Unfortunately, the relics had been damaged due to wear and attacks from hostile tribes, so much of the writing had been lost. They both dreamed about the relics, and in these dreams Temlaa made a breakthrough; in one case, he "grabbed" a damaged stone tablet while dreaming, causing it to become whole within the dream. He memorized the symbols and woke up to write them down so Savassan could interpret them. They held a description of a place that held even more xel'naga relics. The two mystics continued to have more directed dreams, hoping to find the archive of relics.
- Main article: Wonder and Horror
Eventually they discovered the back entrance of the caverns. Savassan discovered the secret of the Golden Mean, opening the chamber.
Inside, they found a platform holding several desiccated "dead" protoss. Deeper within they found a huge glowing khaydarin crystal, attached to the corpses with vines. Savassan attached himself to the vines, and once he was disconnected he declared that he and the crystal "shared things" and now he knew the path to end the Aeon of Strife.
The New Beginning
The Conclave made a brief study of the caverns early in their history, then forbade the protoss from entering it. The Shel'na Kryhas, a group stranded on Aiur for several years after its fall, held to that prohibition, but the Tal'darim cult moved into the system.
- Main article: Shadow Hunters
The caverns became the home of the Tal'darim cult after a large group of protoss were stranded on Aiur. They served a Benefactor which they called the Xava'tor, who places strange creatures in vats in the giant crystal chamber, as well as drained corpses in the first chamber.
These tunnels were invaded by the preserver Zamara and her protege, the terran Jake Ramsey. Accompanied by a band of protoss and Alzadar (a former member of the Tal'darim), they reached the giant crystal's chamber and removed a piece of it. However, they were ambushed on the way out (first by Tal'darim, then by zerg). The unity of the Tal'darim was shattered when they learned the truth of their Benefactor. The interlopers escaped.
Afterward, the zerg, led by Ethan Stewart, poured in, following a weakened Ulrezaj, letting the Queen of Blades see many of its secrets. Ulrezaj was forced to flee in a xel'naga vessel found there.
By 2506, the zerg had infested the caverns and established hive clusters within them.
During the End War, the Daelaam under the command of Hierarch Artanis sought to reclaim Aiur from Amon and his forces. To this end, they agreed to shut down the psionic matrix to prevent Amon from warping the Golden Armada to the planet to defend it. Artanis personally led a group of warriors into the Xel'naga caverns to destroy one of the three khaydarin crystals there, that supported the psionic matrix. By the time they reached the part of the cavern with the crystal, the destruction of the other two had caused a storm of psionic energy to consume the cavern. Artanis and his warriors outran the storm, destroyed the crystal and warped back to the Spear of Adun, before the psionic storm overran the whole cavern.
The back passage normally appears as a flat, bare area with hundreds of khaydarin crystals. Entering the Golden Mean pattern into the crystals causes a giant block of earth to rise, revealing a stairway.
The first chamber at the base of the stairway has five tunnels leading from it.
It features a gem-studded pillar. Activating the gems (using the Golden Mean pattern) causes a platform to extend from the far wall. During the Aeon of Strife, the platform held desiccated protoss "corpses" taken from different tribes. These corpses were attached to the vine system.
Giant Crystal Chamber
The room houses empty platforms like those seen in the first chamber. It was here that Savassan learned many secrets of the xel'naga by attaching himself to the vines. He was drained by the vines, then restored. During this time, he shared information with the giant crystal. Savassan soon left the caverns to spread the Khala.
- Golden, Christie (May 22, 2007). StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga #1: Firstborn. Simon & Schuster (Pocket Star). ISBN 0-7434-7125-3.
- Golden, Christie (November 27, 2007). StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga #2: Shadow Hunters. Simon & Schuster (Pocket Star). ISBN 0-7434-7126-1.
- Golden, Christie (June 30, 2009). StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga #3: Twilight. Simon & Schuster (Pocket Star). ISBN 978-0-7434-7129-9.
- Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void. Vivendi Games. Mission: Templar's Return. (in English). November 10, 2015