During my drafting this week, I came across this little gem of an excerpt that I wanted to share with you. Don’t worry about me spoiling the feast before it arrives, either, FoD 1/2 are each larger than Chaos—so book off a good week to read! Anyway, what struck me as interesting about this segment is that we’re so used to seeing Brutus as a horrific monster, and seeing so few of the moments that made his original legend: that of a benevolent king who cultivated a mystical realm where nature, man and beast were in harmony. So that’s one of the snippets I wanted to share with you, an introduction to Zioch, City of Gold…before the fall.
CHAPTER VI: WHAT WAS LOST
Oleander bloomed year-round in Zioch. Truly, though, the city’s gentle tropical clime served to cultivate every genus of flower, and not a road could be taken that wasn’t as rich in hues as a sunset over Gorgonath. Indeed, it was almost too much vibrancy, for a city already paved in golden alloy. It was not gold, but rather a Mor’Kethian mineral with all of the sparkle yet none of the softness of that ore. Come dawn or dusk, and Zioch became a dizzying panoply of color. Here, any traveler could see that nature ruled alongside man. Old-fashioned carriages traversed rustic lanes, their wheels traced in moss, and occasionally their roofs burdened with beds of grass where families of birds were annoyed at the jostling of transit. Vines and rosebushes entwined the clockwork skyscrapers built of rods and church-windowed spires that puffed magik into the sky: clean vapors that filled the heavens like a thinner veil of clouds. Flocks of fair creatures soared through that gossamer haze; they could have been birds, or creatures of bird and beast, bird and green, or windup owls, for such harmony between the forces of nature, magik, and man were hardly uncommon in Zioch. True, verdant passion had threaded itself into every golden brick and metal shingle of the city’s many grand and steepled keeps that stood stoutly, not hidden, in the shadows of taller structures. It would have been a mistake to believe that the realm wasn’t without design, or had been left to the whims of nature and artisans; order was plainly obvious in the placement of the golden towers and keeps spread out on radial tracks of road surrounding the looming ziggurat—more tower than pyramid—at the heart of the city.
To a wayfarer, the many keeps might have seemed to exist in antithesis to the dark ateliers of the Iron City. Perhaps a likeness, too, could be drawn between the King’s ziggurat and the Crucible. However, Zioch’s keeps and towers were houses of serenity, learning, and lodging—not factories for evil.
The King’s grand, jutting edifice of gold, cast in banners of sunlight and clouds, portrayed only the purest mystery and benevolence. Tolling songs rang out from unseen belfries, or mayhap from the gentle hammering of the city’s technomagikal industry where metal-and-magik craft was at peace with nature. Indeed, in Zioch, the greatest arts of metallurgy and engineering in all of Geadhain were practiced. The smiths knew how to coax the oldest secrets from ore and wood. Speak to any such tranquil craftsman or woman, and she’d stop her singing to metal and timber, and explain how here the elements were shaped by a discussion, a romance with the material, and not merely by hammer and grit. Things wanted to be shaped, wanted to be used. One only had to know how to ask—which these sorcerers did.
It was the way of Zioch to find nature’s tune, to dance to her song, or with her as a partner. Still, Zioch was not a wanton society, lacking in discipline or morals. Earthspeakers and watersculptors tended the great gardens surrounding housing and keeps. Firecallers toiled in the lofty forges atop the great towers with the metalsmiths and windsingers, who removed the toxic qualities borne on the smoke of industry. The smoke was sweet, if one were to taste it, and full with the nutrients of love. For the people loved their city, and in loving it, their magik and toil became an expression, a manifestation, of their love. It was said that one could never be unhappy in Zioch, and this was very much true, for the air was affected by the people’s bliss, and it roused in men passion, vigor, and desire.
People lived in what houses they chose and were tied not by taxation or duty. For in addition to his brother’s Nine Laws, the Sun King had set forth an astonishing edict for the modern world. Amid all of this progress, an anachronistic grace persisted where men and women worked for the land, and sought not to denigrate their city with skycarriages or a proliferation of self-aggrandizing ingenuities. Aside from their homes, their plant and animal husbandry, and their constant attempts to achieve a perfect balance with the land—how to purify water and waste without exhaust, how to light their homes without burning wood, how to grow the largest bloom, how to cultivate the prettiest sculptures and songs of fire, ice, and wind—the people wanted for nothing. Their humility and gentle pride could be observed, less transcendentally, in the city’s numerous parks, wherein the King’s words had been inscribed on podiums set with plaques. People flocked to these monuments, where they sometimes slept in the warm grass beds surrounding them. In their dreams they murmured the adage upon which every man, woman, and child of Zioch was weaned.
When once I loved, I ached with greatness of my heart. So, too, shall the keepers of the Golden City cherish soil and stone, water and loam, as if each were a child of their own. Love this garden as you would love me, as I have loved her, as I now love you. Love is the flower that we share, the ache that we bear, and the beauty that endures beyond stone.
Since it was known that Kericot had summered a season in Zioch—the era in which the Nine Laws and Brutus’s edict had come to pass—the romantic innuendo within the King’s prose was never taken at face value. Undoubtedly, Brutus had spoken broadly, and Kericot, being Kericot, had floridly interpreted his words. No one believed that the Brutus had loved or would love another as much as he did his brother and the people of Geadhain. Even an Immortal’s heart could only be so full.