The Buried City
Somewhere in the southern sands, before the arrival of man, before the reign of the Nameless One, before horse and sheep and proud cities of brick, there was a city of stone.
Before Al-Haikk, rich and bloated; before Bel Aliad, blessed and cursed; before the cities of the dead; before even the sea of sand, everything south of Ka Sabar was green. The venomous, suffocating jungles of the south reached farther that they do today, and in those jungles stood, tall and strong in its arrogance, the city of the first race, under the gaze of the red pyramid.
No man ever saw this city. There dwelled the cold blooded sons of the jungle, a scaly and feral race born in unknown days, devoted to unknown gods and committed to unknown purposes. There they practiced their rites and delved into their mysteries. They raised their eyes to the stars and read what men could not. They brandished weapons with pride and armies marched out of colossal stone gates to wage war and conquest, although no tale recorded who their foes were. In the walls of their temples they left the tale of their days, aeons of glory and dominion in a hellish world ravaged by wars long forgotten and where man was like an animal in the inscrutable eyes of the masters of the city.
But the gods are unforgiving and punish hubris in beast as well as in man. The winds changed and with them the fate of the city. A sand storm like the world had never seen raged in the south and with it came the desert to make war on the jungle. That war lasted for centuries but only one victor could there be. Mighty Khsar, faceless lord of the shifting sands, had spoken; the jungles retreated far to the south and the domain of the Faceless expanded, to make place for his incoming sons. The people of the city watched, impotent, as their domains dried and died. No longer protected by the vast canopy of their jungle, their eyes and skin burned under the unflinching gaze of the sun, they buried themselves deep in their monuments, far away from the light.
So the seeds of an eternal hatred were born in their cold hearts.
Then came the night when Khsar’s anger reached its pinnacle. The storm raged over the pyramid and dunes the size of mountains buried the city, blocked its stone gates and when the wind finally died, there was no proof it ever existed.
But it is there, and there they remain, entombed and forgotten, and so they will until the end of days, when Khsar will make the world a desert. There they endure and degenerate, deprived of guidance, full of hatred for the sand that killed their city, for the sun that scorched their eyes, for man above all, who replaced them and erected proud cities, ignorant of what lays dormant beneath the sand. That ignorance, the city dwellers pay it in blood when the moon is red in the sky and the sons of the red pyramid find their way to the surface to wage the war their jungle lost, killing the sons of the desert before succumbing to the wrath of the sun. Through the centuries, some men learned to trace their bleached bones back to the place where they emerged. Our father Ad Sha’ar did it, but what he saw he never told, and he never revealed the location where the bones took him.
But it is a rare, inauspicious day when they surface, and entombed they remain. Buried alive yet undying, they fester in their hatred and raise their claws to the sky they cannot see, to the portents they cannot read, and wait for the day the wind will blow in the right direction and free the gates.
Listen to your sheikh: Fear the southern wind. Obey Khsar and pray he never angers and sweeps the sand away. Pray to the Faceless that the sands never retreat, lest they return, lest the red pyramid rise again beneath the moons.
-Qamar Abd-al-Khsar Sha’ar, sheikh of the Sha’ar tribe, watchers of the shifting sands -