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The City of the Dead
Long ago, ancient even before the time of the Great Fall, there existed a city by the name of Kel'shyra, a walled metropolis located deep within the Desert of Sand. At some point in its life, Kel'shyra was a magnificent cradle of civilization - a civilization long since forgotten to the ravages of time. It is unknown exactly what, but there was a huge cataclysm which destroyed the city and the fertile lands surrounding it, leaving only the empty shell of a once great city and miles upon miles of desert.

Some say that this cataclysm involved not just this plane of existence, but the next as well, somehow binding them together through the city. It is a purgatory through which even death is afraid to tread. It is said that the souls of the lost, stuck in this plane instead of moving on, gravitate towards this mystical point, getting trapped inside the impenetrable fortress walls forever.

Necromancers, a type of death mage which are all extinct save one in this day and age, are said to have the key to this city. No man may enter the city, and no soul may leave it, but the necromancers may come and go as they please. Using their knowledge of the two planes, the necromancers of ancient times created a doorway to the city from which any man may come and go as he pleases. However, to protect the secrets of this fabled city, they have put a guardian at this gate, allowing access only to those who prove themselves worthy.

The gatekeeper gives the applicant a deadly choice. If they manage to successfully answer three questions correctly, they will be given unfettered access to the city for as long as they continue to live and breathe. If they fail this task, they will be trapped within it forever, never dying or leaving for all eternity. Those whose fear prevents them from taking on the challenge in the first place will forget the existence of the city, so that they can never find their way back, or send others in their place.

Inside the city, the crumbling remains of the once great empire are a constant reminder of the mysterious and unexplained apocalypse which visited this city thousands upon thousands of years past. Housed within these dilapidated structures are the millions of lost souls stuck between one plane and the next. The stories say that once death has taken the body, if the soul doesn't move on like the natural order demands, it will feel a strong pull towards the city, as if the gravity of fate itself had come calling.

If the lost souls do not heed this call, they will be tracked through the night by a demonic stalker called the Reaper, said to be invisible to all but the dead and the insane, and taken by force to the city. Where the Reaper came from or what purpose it serves by collecting lost souls is unknown, but there are certain dark legends of Reaper sightings that chill even the most stout men's souls. Some say that the Reaper serves a higher master. Perhaps one of the long lost gods of ancient times. However, some say that he lives off these souls, devouring them like candy. Nobody knows for certain, as such knowledge would not come without a heavy price. Only the souls captured by necromancers are safe to roam.

In the center of the city is a large tower reaching far into the clouds, which is rumored to be the home to a once great necromancer of the past. It contains knowledge that man was not meant to know, so horrid and terrifying that no mortal man could ever hope to grasp for fear of losing his sanity. This necromancer was said to have owned a book so grotesque in purpose that it could exist nowhere else but the City of the Dead. It contained the very formula for life itself between its two flesh sleeved covers. Even Fluffy, the last of the true necromancers, has been known to change the subject when this book is brought up.

If the tower reached into the heavens themselves, then the caves below the city must be hell. Filled with the overpowering smell of sulfer and brimstone, these caves house the lost spirits shunned even by those in the damned city above. Murderers, rapists, violent thieves, and all manner of villany are represented in force in these dank caverns, drawn to the more powerful connection to the next plane.

No mortal could ever hope to understand the mysteries of the City of Dead. To even attempt to seek answers leads only to a fate worse than death. Only the masters of the necromantic arts can hope to control the city, and even then, it is a dangerous prospect. Forget everything you've ever heard about the City of the Dead, for that tiny thread which binds you and me to this mortal coil is not strong enough to survive your curiosity.



Copyright 2001 - 2008 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.