Saturday, 14 April 2018

Life in the Unremembered City

The Unremembered City bears that name because, in all of the worlds inside the crocodile's mind, it is the only place which is made not of the stuff of memory, but of the real world. Every grain of sand comprising the island on which it sits; every pebble making up its walls, columns and plazas; every blade of grass and flower; and every fleck of paint or crumb of gold leaf which decorates it, was brought there physically by the Naacals in the Age of Discovery and imbued with magic to ensure that the crocodile does not remember it. Unlike anywhere else within its mind, the Unremembered City is not malleable and does not give rise to refractions. It remains.

At first glance, the Unremembered City is like no city anywhere. It does not have houses, or apparently dwellings of any kind: it is a place of plazas, wide open spaces, separated from each other by low walls. Some of the plazas are gardens thick with vegetation; others are starkly empty, made only of vast plain flagstones, baked by the sun. Towering over them stand thin, high pyramids, and geometrically-shaped mounds of earth on which stand colonnades and open-walled belvederes and pavilions, carved from black or white stone and decorated with pictographs of gold or silver leaf. It resembles not so much a settlement as a gathering of monuments, like the life's work of the world's greatest architects brought together in one place - which, of course, is what it is, or once was.

The Naacals living in the Unremembered City do not build houses because they do not have need of them: the last time any of them chose to marry or have children is now so long ago that none of them can remember it, and they cast aside material concerns even longer ago than that; they have no individual property to protect. When it rains, they shelter under a nearby colonnade or pavilion; at night, they seek privacy wherever they fancy, since their population has now dwindled to such an extent that much of the city lies empty for most of the time. The rest of their days, they roam where they will, sometimes coming together to sing, to dance, or to make love, as the mood takes them, but at other times sitting each alone and in silence, contemplating the passage of time and wondering about what meaning life can have when it is infinitely long.

The Naacals who remain in the Unremembered City are impossibly old, and their proclivities accentuate the natural conservatism that comes with age: the few who remain are the least enterprising of their race. Any of their brethren who had any curiosity about life and any desire to live it left long ago to explore the infinite worlds of the crocodile's mind and find their fortunes within it - and their descendants live there still. What is left is the rump: those who were too cowardly, feeble and dull to leave when they were young, and who have grown ever more cowardly, feeble and dull with every passing moment since. Their ancient husk-like figures - untouched by age but somehow bent and twisted by time nonetheless - haunt it like ghosts.

But this in no way means the Unremembered City is not a place for adventure. Far from it. Naacal treasures and technological artifacts are everywhere - lying largely abandoned by the inhabitants of the City, who long ago considered themselves to have reached the pinnacle of achievement in the arts, philosophy, and science, and lost interest in those pursuits as a result. Their riches and powerful technologies are available, then, to those who would come to the City and take them - and as a consequence, agents of the Seven are often abroad in its plazas and walkways, on the lookout for tools they can bring home to their masters to further their ends. And at the same time, the servitors of the Naacals have not decayed at all in their faculties since their creation, and these many different automata - guardians, sentinels, and others besides - are as active as they have ever been, protecting the shadows of the civilization which once created them. That is to say, great wealth and power awaits explorers of the Unremembered City, but they will meet competition - and hostility - if they want to get it.

11 comments:

  1. Is this from an existing setting? There's enough vagueness to give off an impression of a larger world. Had to google "Naacals", now I have another weird piece of lore in my brain.
    Double Nice indeed!

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    1. It's from the setting book I'm working on at the moment. If you click the "Behind Gently Smiling Jaws" label at the bottom of the post all will be revealed. Kind of.

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  2. This is a very nice entry, but there is a little thing nagging at me, and I'm realized that it's not specific to this particular city/part of a setting.

    It's the "place adventurers go to loot" notion. And by adventurers, I don't meant just the adventuring party the PCs are in, but adventurers in general. If it's a world where they are somewhat uncommon (as opposed to completely exceptional)... why hasn't been the ruin been completely picked clean by now?

    I think it's really cool to be in a large ruin/dungeon and there are NPCs "competitors" present (it can make for some awesome battles and high tension) but at the same time, it's hard to believe that another group 5 years ago didn't already clean out the place...

    Ancalagon

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    1. I know what you mean in general. In the case of the Unremembered City it's because of the guards, and because there are no adventurers really - there are agents of the Seven, but that's a bit different for reasons which will become clear.

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