Friday, May 24, 2019

Hamun-ran

South of the mountains streches a great salt desert, white dunes as far as the eye can see and a wind that stings the eyes. It is not hot, but rain never falls, and the air is drier than anywhere else in the world. There are no rivers, but there are oases, where water bubbles to the surface. The greatest of these springs is surrounded by the palace of the god-king Hamun, which is surrounded by the city of Hamun-ran, "Hamun's Household," built entirely out of salt.

Hamun has absolute control over the spring. Not a sip is drunk in the city without his blessing. It is his terrace-tower gardens that supply all food. It is his masked and voiceless guard who keep the peace, it is they who prevent any from leaving the city.

Hamun's wife, the Queen of Birds, keeps watch over the people through the eyes of vultures. She alone lives in a building not made of salt, but a gilded stone tower whose shine becomes painful to look at when the sun has risen. No one has seen the Queen of Birds, and it is rumored that there have been many Queens, discarded and replaced at Hamun's whim.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Making Use of an Empty Thing

At the north side of the steppe, where the great grey mountains that birth the ten rivers rise out of the grass, there is an ancient, isolated nation where they practice an ancient and terrible tradition called Making Use of an Empty Thing. They do not believe, or do not care, about the warnings and proscriptions applied by all civilized nations to necromancy. They had convinced themselves that as long as necromancy was practiced on beasts, and not on people, they were not doomed. As a servant of the Saint, it was Allix's duty to save them from themselves.

Allix had seen a military parade where the necromancers displayed their masterworks. Steppe crabs, killed with poison and then animated, riveted with steel plates and painted yellow-gold for the parade. They carried howdahs of black lacquered wood with tall banners and seats for two crab-knights, one armed with a pike, one with a long-barreled musket, and both in black chitin lamellar. 

Allix had fled the parade as fast as he could without attracting attention, and returned to the boarding house where he was staying, hurrying to his room and latching the door behind him. He felt for the burlap bundle beneath his bed and pulled it out, unwrapping it to check the contents. The larvae had almost finished off the pig carcass they had been living in, but it was no matter. Soon they would mature, and then the parasitic wasps they grew into would seek dead flesh, eating and growing and multiplying until no dead thing could last and every undead beast were devoured from the inside.