Thursday, January 18, 2018

Three Empty Cities

Tliuklef is sometimes called the City of Glass Thorns or the Growling City, and some bards are trying to coin it as the Swamp King’s Castle, although anyone can see that it lacks a castle entirely. Each day it grows a little more out of the swamp, as if it sunk long ago and is now rising back up. But surely it has changed, as now it is impossible to enter without hearing a constant scratching, clicking, and buzzing from every direction. No source of this noise can be seen, and in fact the city has an eerily complete lack of any life whatsoever.

Those who explore soon leave, finding nothing of use, and food brought into the city is always stolen overnight, leaving only the faintest remnants. Only a few people have run screaming from the place, covered in cuts and punctures. Some have been lost to the city, and those who survive these mysterious attacks claim that they saw nothing, but were suddenly attacked from all directions as if by tiny invisible knives. This has earned it a fearsome reputation of being cursed, or full of unseen hazards, though some survivors claim that it was no idle thorns that threatened them, but rather a ubiquitous and malicious force.

The Growling City is inhabited by a hive of giant, invisible insects. Each one is about the size of two fists put together, and they have barbed mandibles that rip apart flesh. They are generally peaceful, but those who have died within were simply unlucky enough to step on one, angering the swarm. These insects are not the reason for the city’s return to the surface, they merely took up residence there.


The Coward’s Peak is a small city built on a mountain pass, presumably once a great trade route. Now it is called cursed, a place of eternal darkness and nightmares. The city looks shaded from afar, a dark space nestled between two mountains, in a way that seems almost natural. But even when the sun shines on it, no light reaches those towers or streets.

From within it is even worse; the sun and moon disappear, the sky becomes black, and the stars open up into gaping, soulless eyes. None can walk the streets without feeling death at their heels, and sleep only yields endless nightmares of ripping oneself apart using nails and spikes. The city is also filthy, filled with the stench of rot and obvious signs of decay.

The only group to have stayed longer and returned said that they could see eyes in every shadow, and always when they turned there would be something poking out from the corner that quickly ducked back out of view. After their return they have proved to be mad, one killing their spouse and children, while another ran into the wilderness and disappeared. Any who die within the city are found dead beyond its walls the next morning, even if there were no survivors to carry the bodies.

The only thing living there is a powerful monster and the aura of fear it exudes. It doesn’t want to kill, or even to be known. But when people enter its city, it fears them. And with this fear it creates nightmares, showing people what they fear most and attempting to chase them from the city. If they still linger, then it will attack, shrouding itself in their greatest fear. It weeps tears of terror as it attacks, killing the trespassers and dumping their bodies safely out of its city, its sanctuary, the only place where it can be safe.


The Wild City appears to be a great metropolis, but like Tliuklef there is not a single thing living within. What makes this even stranger verging on impossible, the city lies in the middle of a forest, near a well travelled road. Anyone who enters beyond view disappears quickly and quietly, leaving no traces. Many travellers have disappeared along that road, and are thought to have been taken in by the city, devoured.

It looks beautiful, with elegant archways and clean, seemingly polished surfaces. The gates are open and inviting, and a faint smell of baking bread surrounds the place. This city is in fact a mimic. Possibly one gigantic mimic, possibly a colony of them (like algae), or perhaps even the god of all mimics.