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Zuwayza--Arena 19

The founding of Zuwayza lies so far in the past that no tales now speak of it, but none doubt that it was the ancestors of the far-trading Ferincians who first set stone upon stone here. The curiously carved greenish stones of the oldest days may still be glimpsed at the edges of the Silent Place. That ancient and dire grove lies well upstream from the present city, for the sea has retreated from these shores, and the Shining River that flows into it issues out as the Darkwater--at seasons, even the Deathwater (though this has not come to pass in living memory).

What story may be found in those stones no one knows, and no one asks...now. Some ten years past, the elder brother of the last Satrap of Zuwayza, Tandeces, who was at that time heir apparent to the Satrap Zakar, did seek knowledge there. With two scholars from the court of Karnhorn and a troop of guardsmen, he did enter that tree-shadowed ruin, never to return. Thus when Alkurias became Satrap in his stead, he ordered the Silent Grove fenced with both iron and magic, that none might enter there, and he declared it accursed. In the market many legends are told concerning the glorious past of Zuwayza and its destiny yet to come. Long has Zuwayza stood as an outpost of true civilization against the barbarians--thrice has the city been destroyed by the savage tribes of the Shewish Forest, such as gather at Malcorn, and thrice rebuilt, for the people of Zuwayza are unconquerable--so the stories go. There is carved over the door of the oldest temple in the city the ancient prophecy that Zuwayza will be nine times destroyed and nine times rebuilt before it finally falls, though you cannot see the carving now that the Satrap has ordered it plastered over. For the prophecy has been proven worthless, since it applied only to Ferincian Zuwayza, and Zuwayza is now a gem in the girdle of Karnhorn, and Ferincian no more. Karnhorn cities do not fall, even to be rebuilt.

Zuwayza lives by the trade that comes to it across the cold sea, from the almost-legendary dwarven kingdoms of the far north such as Dalmordan, and from the exotic east, passing their goods to the west, and from that which comes down from the north, overland from Vithicar of the Mages. The trade is still handled by the old Ferincian families, but it is controlled by the Satrap, as all trade on the Storm Sea is controlled by Karnhorns.

With the trade, news of the world comes into the city also, and news of the new gladiatorial sport of the western cities. At the enthusiastic petition of the restless young men of the city, the Satrap in his wisdom decreed that Zuwayza, too, should host an arena, and he ordered that it be built on the Island of Stones in the dark river and that it be more magnificent than any other, for the honor and glory of the Karnhorn Empire. There gather the eager young men of the city, and there also are sent, for a time, those who are taken up for brawling in the streets and for other minor crimes and peccadilloes, so that crime in the city is now much less.

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Published on: 2002-07-14 (1376 reads)

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