The Ever-burning Lights of Trithemius

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The Imaginarium
Jealousy, rage, regret. Though monsters are terrifying in visage and in ability, they are nothing compared to what dwells within the hearts of men.

Submitted: September 30, 2018

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Submitted: September 30, 2018

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Trithemius, the crown jewel of the Akaterii desert. It was a city of such beauty that the words of any language would be hard pressed to describe it. Its creation was a testament to the endless creativity and ingenuity of Humans. Yet its story is a testament to their limitless greed and cruelty.

 

In the center of the city sat two things of great importance. First and foremost, the beautiful oasis around which the city was built. Secondly, a bank. Not a bank in the sense that you or I know, rather a place where all the people of the city collectively stored a portion of their personal wealth to be used for the maintenance and upkeep of the city. As all of its inhabitants were quite wealthy, the city being a major hub for trading and transportation, the amounts contained within this bank were astronomical. Ten times greater than the treasure vaults of any of the nearby kings.

 

One man, a silk trader and goldsmith, desired to have these two things all to himself. He wanted the oasis all to himself for he was weary of seeing its beauty “tarnished” by the presence of those less wealthy than himself, whom he viewed as inferior. He desired possession of the bank because he was jealous of those wealthier than himself and was outraged at the thought of them looking down their noses at him... as though he were inferior.

 

One day a group of bandits attacked the city, but its high sandstone walls and heavy wrought-iron gates easily held them at bay. For weeks the bandits tried, and failed, to find a weakness in the city's defenses. Late one moonless night, as the bandits were about to give up and move on, a hooded man came to the bandit chief with a proposition. This silk trader and gold smith would open the gates for him on two conditions. First, the oasis was not to be touched during the raid. Second, he and he alone would have access to the bank, but a fraction of the city's wealth. The rest belonged to the bandits.

 

Their bargain struck, the man opened the gates and the bandits came flooding in, slaughtering the people and pillaging everything in sight. Everything except the bank and the oasis. As the bandits divided out their loot among the burning buildings, the merchant went into the bank to gaze upon his newly obtained fortune. But, as he looked at his piles of gold and gems, sorrow filled his heart. Perhaps gold and gems were not so important after all. He took comfort in the fact that at least he would finally have his beautiful oasis all to himself. When he stepped out of the bank, what greeted him was not a beautiful oasis, but a horrific nightmare. The once beautiful oasis had been turned into a nightmarish swamp. The lush green grass had been trampled into the dirt and doused with blood in such a way that all that was left behind was thick, red mud. Two mangled corpses, unfortunate victims of one particularly savage bandit, floated in the pool turning its pristine, blue waters a turbulent shade of bright red. Soot from the burning buildings had settled upon the three palm trees that stood at the water's edge turning them varying shades of black and gray.

 

Something inside him snapped, though whether it was his heart or his mind, none can be certain. In that moment, he saw the full scope of his horrific deed. He saw past the piles of gold and gems and he saw past his precious oasis. In this moment he saw the deaths of the people who had called him friend and the destruction of the place he called home. In that moment he saw what he had truly done. He ran, screaming, down the stairs of the bank, across the red mud of the oasis and into the thickening pool of water,blood and soot. He sank to the bottom, weighted by his guilt. As the blood and water mixed with the soot of the burning city, it thickened to the consistency of tar, trapping  the final anguished screams of the dying merchant. Fearing this to be the work of a curse, the bandit chief ordered his men to drop everything they were carrying and run for their lives. His men, having come to the same conclusion, offered no arguments.

 

For years after this tragic event travelers passing by the ruins of Trithemius, carefully steering well clear, claimed to see strange blue lights and hear the cracks of a thousand whips and the heart broken cries of a single man up until the day the ruins of the city vanished. Some say the weight of the pain and sorrow of the betrayal sank the city beneath the sands, while others say the desert itself was so disturbed by the events and the lingering pain they caused that it swallowed the city in hopes that one day its people would be able to move on and forget the tragic story that was the city of Trithemius.


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