For a limited time, I am going to leave this first draft of my current work in progress here on this blog. The Fall of Kisla’ak is the first story chronologically in the set I am working on, and it sets some of the lore and backstory for what is going on in the world.
I would love to hear feedback from anyone who takes the time to read this. I hope you enjoy it!
The Fall of Kisla’ak
by Joshua A. Derocher
“On that day did the eternal city fall, and it came to pass that the unholy was released into our world. The darkness did consume the weak, and the strong escaped the darkness. The darkness shall consume the weak, and the strong shall overpower the darkness. Thus it was when The City fell, and thus shall it be again.” - The book of the Prophet Mordicai Chapter 23, verse 1
The city of Kisla’ak had stood for ten thousand years, and it was the greatest city that mortal men could conceive. It stood as an endless example of the near immortality of its citizens. It was founded by a tribe of wandering nomads who decided one day that they would roam the plains no more. This is where they would stay and rest their heads until the day that they died. They would no longer climb the mountains, but instead they would build a city and fish and farm for food.
Little did these nomads know on that day, that they would be founding an ageless city. The city of Kisla’ak. Their children would rule this land for generations. They never expanded or became an empire. They had no interest in conquering the lands around them. The merely wanted to live their lives in peace with the land around them: to hunt, fish, and gather crops.
The city was filled with white washed square houses stacked upon each other, nestled into the cliffs and hills around the city. Originally the city was founded on plain between two hills by the mouth of a rive. It was here that they built the city’s first dock. As time passed the city grew outwards from this point and shaped itself to the many hills in the area, and eventually it even began to creep up the sides of cliffs on the surrounding mountains. It was ever increasing; ever becoming larger. The streets curved around the hills and went up and down, forming a winding maze around the cacophony of houses. When people would look upon the city they would see a sea of white; the walls of one house attached itself to another house, and often times a new house would be built on top of older one. In portions of the magnificent city you would find streets that half covered older homes that were millennia old.
Ten thousand years passed, but the look of the city never really changed much. The architecture was always the same angular walls and square buildings. As the city expanded the houses became larger. The rich always tried to build new houses on the edge of the city so they would have room for giant mansions. As time passed the city grew richer and the houses grew larger. The center of the city eventually became a mountain of tiny square huts built upon each other. This man made hill covered the original plain of Kisla’ak. It was here that the poor and beggars of the city dwelled. The poor could look out from this hill and see the rich living in their massive multi-story houses on the edge of town.
The city of Kisla’ak was no longer a simple collection of farmers and fishermen. They had strayed far from their roots. Wealth became their driving force. The seas were drained of all the fish, and the fields were covered in more houses. The ageless spanned from one mountain to another, and there were no more fields to plow. The city was too big to sustain itself. This forced them to change their way of life. They built ships to explore the seas around them, and they discovered that in the distant oceans there were giant whales. These whales would soon be hunted for their oil and meat, which could be traded with the small towns around them for food. This became the new trade of Kisla’al. Whaling became the basis for the economy. Whales were venerated as gods.
The rich became richer through whaling. It took a lot of gold to own and operate a fleet of whaling ships. The poor had nothing left to them except for becoming whalers or servants to the wealthy. Classes began to divide the people. The wealthy lived in exorbitant style with parties filled with drunken revelry and orgies, while the poor fought over scraps of food and their children died from disease.
On one of the many winding streets of the city there stood a peculiar tower. It was nothing that would really catch the eye of anyone passing by. It was about 50 feet in height and 30 feet in diameter. The only thing that made it stand apart from the other buildings in Kisla’ak was the fact that it was round. All of the other houses and towers were square. This odd tower was the only round building in the entire city. Not that the beggars or the poor around it really noticed or cared to much. It was just an oddity.
This tower was built many years ago by the prophet Amela’ar. He built this tower hundreds of years ago, and he would stand on the top and preach to the city around him. He taught that men should lead a simpler life, and that there constant growth and greed would lead to their doom. He had a few disciples, and his teaching were followed by some, but he has fallen into obscurity. Today, people barely remember the mad prophet Amela’ar. But his dusty old tower still stands. People feared it as holy ground, even though they didn’t really remember why. They passed by it daily, and they didn’t give it a second thought.
About a hundred years ago, a scholar named Azariah moved into the abandoned tower. He cleaned out the cobwebs and boarded up the holes. He choose this tower because people were afraid of it, and this would allow him to work in peace. The people around thought he was a mad tinkerer. He collected old books and oddities, and he rarely ever came outside. These books would be brought to him by merchants who travelled to other cities. It became known that he would pay good money for an old scroll, so the merchants and captains would often search for such treasures to sell to him. Most of them were filled with old legends and mythology. He would translate some of these books into the common tongue of the city, and he would sell them on occasion in the market. The wealthy were known for wanting to explore new things, and reading about another far away land excited them. They were much too comfortable in their rich homes to ever want to venture away, but they would pay to read about something foreign. They would usually discuss these places at their extravagant gatherings and declare how barbaric the rest of the world was.
The elderly Azariah made a fair amount of coin selling his scrolls to the foolish wealthy in the town, but this wasn’t his motivation for collecting old volumes. He was searching for something: something that was always hinted at in the ancient texts, but it was never fully explained. He was searching for power. Power over men, power over the elements, or maybe power over both. He didn’t care, but he wanted something. He knew there had to be more ways to control this world than with money or strength. He was looking for strength of mind. To be able to shape the world around him.
In all of the legends he had ever read, from every land, he had always read about powerful heroes sent by the gods, or how the gods themselves would walk among mortals. Who were these gods? Why did the ancients always talk about miracles and the supernatural? These things didn’t happen today.
People were quick to say that these ancient stories were fabrications of creative minds. They were simply stories told around fires at night. Azariah believed that there was something greater at work in the world. All of these ancient stories shared similarities to one another. Even tribes and villages that were on opposite sides of separated continents would tell the same stories about seeing the white gods of old.
Azariah spent years studying ancient texts and puzzling tomes. He began to believe that something was being omitted from the history of Kisla’ak. The shepherds who founded this ageless city had decided to omit any mention of the gods from their history. Every other culture shared the same stories of how man was created in the likeness of the gods, and how the gods power was used to start mans path towards becoming civilised, but they were never mentioned in any volume recorded in the city of Kisla’ak. The deliberately covered up the stories of the gods. But why? Why did they decided to abandon this part of their heritage?
One fateful day Azariah heard about a curious tome that was discovered in a temple on an island across the sea. A tome filled with arcane scrawlings and symbols that were unlike anything ever seen. This book wasn’t written upon paper or papyrus like the other writings he had been studying. This book was etched upon plates of steel. The fine details of the work of this book would take a lifetime of a skilled craftsman to recreate. It was probably worth thousands of pounds in gold coin.
The steel book was about an arms length wide and twice that in height. It was a large and heavy volume that would require six or seven men to move the book.
Azariah began to sell off what he had in other books and scrolls. He only kept his notes from his studies. He didn’t need those books anymore. He had learned what he could from them, and he had to find more knowledge to satisfy his quest for understanding.
He gave all of this gold to the captain of a whaling ship that was heading in that direction with instructions to return the tome to him.
Azariah stood and watched every night for the rest of the summer season until the ship bearing his bizarre cargo returned. Once the ship arrived he instructed the captain to wait until nightfall to move the book. Azariah wanted complete secrecy about this book. He wanted to avoid being disturbed by curiosity seekers and the city’s riff-raff. He had the book wrapped in cloth and a wooden crate built around it. It took eight men to move the crate off the ship and onto a wagon. A team of horses pulled the cart across the blackened streets of the city.
Once inside the tower he sent away the men that had helped move it. He opened the package alone and was amazed at what he saw. He wasn’t really sure he believed the stories that sailors had told about this book. He half expected to be disappointed with some rusted metal that had a few carvings on it. But here it was. Just like they described it. It was a large collection of steel plates bound together with giant steel rings. Each plate was immaculately cared with other worldly symbols and pictures.
Over the next twenty years Azariah dedicated his life to studying this tome. He was able to translate a few of the symbols from notes that he had made from ancient languages, and slowly over time he was able to read most of the arcane writing. It was a book about the mind and how to control it. It was filled with secrets of telepathy and out of body control.
He learned to control small things at first. He could bend his mind to listen to what others were thinking. He was able to direct his thoughts to influence others too. He couldn’t make people jump off a bridge or cut their own hands off, but he could plant ideas and thoughts into their minds. They would think it was something they wanted to do, or just a weird urge that they had, but they never suspected that it came from an old book collector.
He began to be able to move objects. At first, he learned how to knock a glass of water over or levitate a spoon an inch above the table. Over time he learned how levitate himself. He would meditate while floating above the ground. He removed himself from existence while only his mind remained. He learned how to gain almost total control of his mind. Most people live their entire lives using only a fraction of what their brain is capable of. Azariah learned how to use all of it. He sat patiently and meditated for days on end.
He began to spend entire months meditating sometimes. He would levitate completely motionless. His physical eyes shut while he saw with the mind’s eye. He soon learned how to leave his body while he was deep in thought. He would drift away to other places. He could see neighboring cities, and their struggling farmers trying to make a living.
He continued to explore the world around him during these out of body experiences. He learned the shape of the mountains, the flow of the rivers, and the layout of the land around Kis’laal became very familiar to him. He did this for years. Soon he became bored and he tried to focus his mind on the unknown; places that he had never seen or heard of. He thought it might be possible to go beyond the local mountains and seas. He continued to study the strange tome in search of new ways to push his powers even further.
He soon began to see a place that wasn’t familiar to him. It was always covered in fog. When he looked down the ground was just pure white alabaster, and the sky above him was total blackness. The more he visited this place, the more he could see into the distance. At first it seemed to be barren. The alabaster ground went in every direction; an endless sea that was smooth and white. Soon the fog was gone altogether, and there was a red sun overhead and pyramids on the horizon. The red sun shined brightly, but it didn’t give light to the world. The ground seemed to give itself light, as did the pyramids in the distance. They were thousands of miles away, but they could be seen as tiny specks on the horizon. The black sky overhead wasn’t black because of the darkness, it was dark because there was no sky above. It was a void. There was nothing above, and was a painful and dark empty space.
After visiting this strange place multiple times, Azariah began to wonder where it was and what he was seeing. What was this strange land with a red sun and no sky? What were those pyramids in the distance?
He began to believe that this was the plane of the gods. This is where they went to when they left the plane that men dwelt upon. He dreamed about seeing them, and talking to them. Why was there pain and suffering in the world? Why had these supernatural being created man and then left them? Where they actually gods?
One page of the giant steel tome had always confused Azariah, but the more time he spent out of his physical body meditating in the astral plane, the lines and circles on the arcane page began make sense to him. It was a thought pattern that could move a person from where his physical body was to where his mind was. If he mastered it, he would be able to move anywhere at will. Even to the plane of the gods. He would set his mind to mastering this skill so he could cross that alabaster plane and face the gods.
Azariah began to spend his time attempting to move his body to the location of his mind. At first it was much harder to learn than any of the other mental feats that he accomplished. He didn’t see any results. With levitation he was able to lift things a few inches off the ground, and he could easily see his own body as he began to have out-of-body experiences. This was different. He felt nothing, and he saw no results.
Azariah wouldn’t give up easily though. He had spent years training his mind. He could spend days staring at the wall contemplating the cracks and their intricacies. This would merely take him more focus.
He wrapped bandages over his head to cover his eyes, nose and ears. This way he would deprive himself of any outside stimulation. He then sat down on the floor and began to meditate. He spent almost an entire day forcing any thoughts from his mind trying to achieve a state of total clarity. Once he felt he had achieved this he allowed his mind to travel outside of the building.
It was near dawn and the sun began to spread its rays over the ivory buildings of Kis’laak. He then began to follow the patterns that he saw in the ancient tome. He forced his mind to recreate all of the shapes, and he pondered their meaning and attached visual objects to each shape. He focused so intently on these thoughts that he lost all sense of time and self.
Azariah came to his senses standing outside of his home in the dark streets of Kis’laak. At least a day had past since he started his meditation, and was very likely that it had been a few days. He wasn’t really sure. He had done it. He had moved his physical body to the same place that his mind occupied. He was beginning to transcend his mortal body and take advantage of the full power of his mind.
Suddenly a rumbling could be heard in the ground below. It was just a faint tremor; a mild earthquake. Azariah had never experienced the ground shaking like this before. He had read about legends of people claiming the gods were angry, and he began to wonder if he had angered someone.
A giant boom like the crack of thunder sounded off in the distance, and the horizon lit up faintly with an eruption of a volcano on one of the distance mountains. Villagers began to run into the streets to point at this spectacle in terrified awe. Kis’laak wasn’t in any danger, but it was still a dreadful sight to behold.
Azariah returned inside his home, still shaken at the entire experience. “Did I cause that eruption?” he pondered. It was highly unlikely he decided. It was just a coincidence.
it had to be just a coincidence.
Azariah kept practicing his ability, and each time he caused an earthquake and the volcano to erupt. After the second time he knew it wasn’t chance that caused this to happen when he teleported. This happened four times before Azariah decided to stop. What good was this power if he destroyed his home? He searched for a way to control it, but there were too many runes to understand.
He grew tired and impatient of studying. The distant land with the alabaster ground was calling to him. It engulfed his very being, and he needed to go there.
He set aside his worries for his home city and decided to try one desperate effort to reach the other world. He knew it would be dangerous, but what did he care? He would be gone if this worked correctly.
Azariah hired a keeper to watch over his tower while he was away. The ancient tome was sealed in a wooden crate in the upstairs chamber. Azariah told the keeper to never enter the room upstairs, but to just make sure that the locks were intact and the property was maintained.
He went into the cold room upstairs and stripped off his clothing. He began to meditate. His mind must be perfect. He spent days preparing his mind. Once again he covered his eyes and ears to block out external senses, and he focused the eye of his mind inward. His thoughts went deeper and deeper, twisting into odd shapes of logic and focus that the human mind can barely grasp.
After a fortnight of this, and his body being nearly broken, he began to chanel his mind into the other world. He could feel the cold alabaster underneath him, and he knew he was there. His mind could see the white pyramids and the deep red sun. He felt at peace here. He forced his body to move to where his mind was. He could feel it begin to happen as his skin started to burn. It started as an itching sensation, but it soon transformed into a dreadful burning and tearing of his outer layer of skin.
His blood trickled out onto the floor of his home, and also onto the white alabaster of the ethereal plane. He was starting to lose his focus, but he knew that if he lost control he would be torn to shreds by the shear force of his body traversing the path in his mind.
He doubled his efforts to concentrate. He ignored the pain that was increasing all over his body. His flesh began to smoke and tear. His hair came out in clumps as he ripped at it, and it fell onto the floor of his home.
The smell of burnt flesh began to crawl into his nostrils, and that point he knew he had made it to the other side. His body was being fully pushed out of this world. He stopped his deep train of thought and became fully aware of the torment his body was suffering, and he let out a blood curdling scream that could be heard throughout the district of the city of Kis’laak.
And then there was silence. The dark chamber held only the strange metal book. A small burning circle with bits of flesh and torn out hair was all that was left of Azariah.
The pyramids loomed in the distance against the perfectly black horizon. The ever shining sun of red hung perfectly centered above Azariah. His body was nearly destroyed. His flesh was suffering from burns. He looked like the victim of a terrible fire. He was in dreadful pain, but he knew he had made it. He let out a cry of ecstasy, followed by laughing and crying.
He was too weak to walk, so he began to crawl towards the distant pyramids. He would figure out where this plane was, and who built these enormous structures.
Azariah the scholar would talk with the gods.
Dawn was rising on the great white city. It had rained that night, and the ground smelled like rain still. A few early rising children kicked around a ball in one of the wider streets. Workers began to clamber off to their jobs, shopkeepers started to put their wares out on display. It was a normal, peaceful morning in the city.
No one knew that it would be the end of the immortal metropolis. Ten thousand years Kisla’ak had stood, and today it would fall.
Birds chirped, hailing a welcome to the rising sun, it’s warm glow cast a tint on the marble and alabaster buildings and streets. Carts began to clack on the uneven pavement as more people started to crowd the marketplaces and squares.
And then it began.
A faint glow appeared from one of the houses in the city. It began to shine slowly with a bright light. It was unlike any light that the world had ever seen. It was heavenly in nature, and was a thousand times brighter than the sun.
The house belonged to Azariah, the madman who wished to speak to the gods.
The light grew brighter, and it the house shattered into pieces, bricks and debris scattered into the streets.
People began to scream, and astonished children cried and ran away.
What was this unnatural horror?
The light began to take on a shape of an orb as it grew, it’s perfectly circular edge slowly expanded from the ruined house. Everything it touched was destroyed. Chunks of brick blasted into the air, as if the entire area were being hit by a lightning. The trees and grass turned to ash as the light touched it, and black smoke wafted into the air.
The citizens of the town ran screaming from this ethereal force. The circle of light grew slowly, creeping forward inches at a time.
Panicked voices began to cry out.
“Will it stop?”
“What is this terror?”
“What is happening?”
Some of the more adventurous youth of the city walked closer to it, seeing that it only moved forward slowly. They poked it with sticks, and watched as the wood burned and blackened. They cautiously backed away.
“Quick!” called out an elderly man, “someone alert the town council, we must sound an alarm!”. As he cried out he walked away from the disaster, the young men around him realized that he was right and they ran off towards the citadel. Others started pounding on doors and yelling to get the attention of anyone nearby. They needed to flee.
The streets started to fill with chaotic throngs of people, who were confused as to what was going on. They knew something evil was happening, but they didn’t know what. Some began to see the light in growing from the city’s poor district, and they knew the problem had to be coming from their.
The giant bell atop the citadel began to ring out. The bell was a call of alarm that had not been sounded in a thousand years, not since the bandit raids from Jezreel. This ancient voice was an omen of bad tidings for the people of the city, and they slowly began to realize the dreaded situation they were in.
The ever growing light began to claim its first human victims as the crowds pushed and shoved to escape its deathly touch. The elderly man who yelled to sound the alarm hobbled as fast as he could, but the pressing crowd was more than he could manage. He couldn’t push his way past the shrieking women who were rushing their children to safety. He wasn’t as strong as the young men who investigated the fiery abomination. He turned to face the light, and it was the last thing his wizened eyes would ever see. His flesh was burned, and his blood trickled down the streets, trampled by the running traffic.
The masses of the city pressed outwards towards its edges, and after a few hours of the orb growing steadily in size, they knew it would not stop.
They began to pile onto the ships in the harbor, knowing that they must get as far away from the enlightened city as they possibly could. What once stood as a symbol of eternity, was now the thing that men were afraid of.
The escaping citizens didn’t stop to think of the destruction of their ten-thousand year old city, and the loss that mankind was faced with. They only thought of their own lives.
The harbor filled with escaping ships, which were filling up more and more as people became aware of the sudden evacuation attempt. Some disparate beggars jumped into the water, since they didn’t have boats of their own. They hoped to find room on someone elses ship, and hopefully they would show pity to the unfortunate.
Hours had passed, and the light now consumed over half the city as darkness began to fall. Almost every ship and boat had been cast out to sea, along with anything else that might serve as a makeshift raft. Villagers tied boards together, in an attempt to make something that would float. Others had simply tried their luck swimming away, only to drown in the rampaging ocean. Their bodies began to drift back towards the shore, adding to the panic and fear of the fleeing crowds.
The blinding white orb stood as a perfect sphere, covering miles of the city and rising just as high into the sky. Dark clouds formed around the higher parts of it, and lightning flashed in the night sky.
Suddenly, the white light began to fade.
Could this nightmare be over? Surely whatever this monstrosity was, it could end and spare the rest of the city. A flicker of hope sparked in the hearts of the people.
But it wouldn’t last.
The white orb of light suddenly collapsed, and for a brief second everything was still.
And faster than the blink of an eye, the moment of calm ended.
The light returned to it’s full size, but this time is was blue in color and brighter than before. A deep thump rumbled through the city, it’s bass tone was felt by everyone.
And that’s when they appeared.
Their shadows could be seen against the now blue orb. A thousand pairs of wings darkened the eldritch light, and the cry of the damned filled the air.
No one had ever seen anything like this. There weren’t even tales told about such things. They talked of ghosts, and malevolent spirits, but nothing this terrifying had ever been uttered by mortal lips.
They looked like men, but they had grey stone-like flesh. They had wings like bats, and their facial features were exaggerated in terrible gruesome ways. Their eyes were huge, and filled with pure hatred. Their mouth stretched out beyond their heads, and deadly teeth protruded out. They had four arms, and long lizard like tails. Their hands ended with reaching claws, that stabbed into the flesh of escaping victims.
The already terrified masses went into an hysterical frenzy. They climbed on top of the elderly, the weak, and they trampled children in order to save themselves. The began to fight and beat others for a place on one of the last ships.
The cries of murder poured out as the monsters killed escaping people. The ground was covered in blood.
If killing wasn’t vile enough, they began to ravage and rape any woman they caught. They began to eat the flesh of the dead, and they seemed to be joyous at this occasion to destroy life. They started to kill more brutally, rather than just stabbing with their sharp claws they would tear someone’s legs off and leave them to die, or grab them and fly a mile into the air and drop them onto the stones below.
Kisla’ak had become a place of death.
What was happening? What were this vile daemons?
Within an hour, everyone was either on an escaping boat, dead, or captured by the foul monsters.
And then the orb of light collapsed, letting out another ear shattering thud of bass tones. The flying terrors flew into the collapsing portal.
It was over.
Some of the survivors on the shore cried out for help from the fleeing ships, but none would dare turn around. They didn’t dare to risk their own survival to help those left behind. The monsters might still be lurking, their other wordly faces eager to tear into human flesh. The disaster might start again tomorrow, the orb might come back at any moment.
They gave up hope for the city, and anyone unfortunate enough to be left behind, and they fled for their own lives.
The once great city was in ruins, the burning trees had started a fire that now consumed what the light had left behind. Never had so horrible had a scene been seen in the world, and those who managed to escape would always speak of this day.
The day the great city fell.
The fall of Kisla’ak.