By Tooth And Claw Dragons

The Forgotten City Of The Desert

A legend about the ruins of a city buried by sand, the only reminder of the foolish pride of its builders.

You might think it impossible that anything at all should be forgotten in Ristell. Especially in Arcadia, given how carefully the sphinxes safeguard all knowledge. But if you head out into the deep desert, far from any city, you might find a few scattered stones and a half-buried foot. These forlorn stones are all that remain of a great city that was meant to rival Eden itself, but you'll not hear it from any sphinx. Nor will you even get them to admit there's even the ruins of a city there. But we denizens of the deep desert keep many secrets.

This tale begins long, long ago, when Ristell was still young. The reigning pharaoh had ruled for many decades, and though she was wise, she was surrounded by treacherous advisors who kept their true colors a closely guarded secret, all the while plotting her downfall. For many years, she placed her trust in them as they continued to grow in power. By the time she began to suspect they weren’t as loyal as they seemed, it was too late to stop them from attempting their wicked plans.

They had built for themselves a grand city, intending for it to become the new capital of Arcadia, and from there they began to launch their plot. An attempted coup brought so much upheaval that numerous city officials, military leaders, and even the pharaoh’s intended consort could not escape their conspiracy. But they underestimated the pharaoh and her devoted loyalists. They journeyed to their city, falsely secure in their supposed victory, while the pharaoh rallied her forces and secured her position ever stronger.

By the time the plotters realized the pharaoh was not only still alive, but secure in her seat of power, it was too late for them. Their city was swifty surrounded, trapping them in what was to be their grand monument to themselves. Unable to flee, too proud to beg for mercy, they succumbed to despair and infighting; each accused the other of being at fault. All the while the pharaoh waited, allowing them the time to tear each other down.

Only after they'd weakened themselves severely did the pharaoh strike, her vengeance swift and terrible. By the time she was done, there was nothing left of the grand city but a few scattered stones and a single foot, the sole reminder that a statue once stood there. The site was left to fall victim to the sands of time, buried and forgotten. The names of the traitors were removed from every official record, and forbidden to be spoken. Soon enough, their names had passed out of all knowledge, for while we knew of the old city, we respected the pharaoh's decree, and refused to speak the forbidden names even among ourselves.

Yes, we could lead you to the old stones. No, we will not. That secret is ours to carry, and ours alone. The city has been forgotten, and so it shall remain. Should you happen to stumble upon it yourself, you would do well to tell yourself it is a mere mirage, a trick of your eyes. Why then did we tell you this tale? A warning. A cautionary story meant to warn against such arrogance mixed with such stupidity. Had they remained true, perhaps they would be remembered. Instead, the pharaoh remains well known, though not for this bit of forgotten history. No, she is known for many other, more wonderful things.

You likely already know her name, if you know any of Ristell's history, but I will not speak it here. Her name will never again be connected to the traitors who were deigned too unworthy to be even be remembered. All that remains of them, all that will remain, are a few old stones that will, in time, be lost forever to the uncaring sands. So did the pharaoh request of Azcen himself, and so did Azcen agree. One final lesson to understand from this: while no one remembers things so well as sphinxes, with their grand libraries and sharp minds, no one forgets like they do either. Theirs is a condemnation that quickens their descent into oblivion.

Written/Told by: Heru, salawa shaman
Contributed by: Fyfergrund

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