For how many generations have the walls of Yrus stood? The old stories tell of kings, of battles, of monsters, and of famines, of the nature of life and the formation of the mountains and the seas; yet there are no stories of the walls. Smooth milk-gloss stone, twenty cubits by twenty, and ten thousand cubits long if it were a hair – the walls are impressive enough on their own to be sure – but in order to truly know the wall you must feel it. Put your hand against its ancient weight. Pray.
The city is a wonder in itself, built atop deep springs which spit life from the belly of the earth and from the desert a great flower bloomed, full of all good things like the mythical walled gardens the ancestors spoke of and after such the city of Yrus was named. The people of Yrus are happy and fat. We live without worry of the hatred and discontent that grips the world, and in fact live largely ignorant to it. We go without want for food or clean water, and take our pleasure in art and song and theater.
On the matter of divine beliefs not a lip will part, for it is well known that anyone who speaks of our religion shall find judgment, although each member of the city still finds themselves well versed in its practice. Piety is observed in the polis through intricate idioglossia made up of cryptic somatic gestures and shibboleths. Priests, and there are thought to be priests, are anonymous even to one another; although be there one, or a dozen, or none at all – none would be the wiser.
On our holy days we feast (although no one could say why), and, due to the peculiar nature of these holy days, which themselves were subject to a great amount of secrecy and have no known dates, they could be taken at any point in the year. If too few feasts are taken in a year, it is assumed that some of the feasts sufficed for more than one celebration, and if too many it is assumed they were partitioned.
Our faith has lasted this way for generations untold, as long as stories have been spoken on the earth. Perhaps it is even as old as the walls themselves.
Outsiders passed periodically through those ever formidable gates. Although Yrus needs not for wealth, the people here have come to crave foreign comforts from the world round. A wine merchant arrived today, bringing the finest of vintages to our fair city by ox-cart. A man well traveled, a man who has sailed seas and seen peoples of a dozen shades – even he gapes at the walls of Yrus.
The merchant is a man of great wealth, and tells often of his travels in which he had left no luxury unsampled, yet almost at once, as if intoxicated by the smooth milk-gloss stone or the fresh green of the gardens or the old stories of kings and battles and monsters and famines and the nature of life and formation of the mountains and the seas, the man took to the city feverish the way a child might. He loiters daily in the markets asking his questions of the people which they answer with a gentle patience, except those questions which begged word of their faith, to which the citizens would only turn their faces.
It wasn’t more than a week of searching before he stumbles upon a box hidden flush into a carved hollow in the wall. Inside that ancient box there sat a single scroll and upon it there was script wherefrom he reads aloud the name. He makes his way to the market once more to ask the citizens of the box and its name but when he speaks it the people only turn and leave, each one of them, abandoning their stalls unpacked.
He loiters in the market like he did in days past, but he cannot seem to hold gaze with a single person. They turn from him, tuck themselves in houses when they see him approach. By the morning, it appeared to the wine merchant as if the city was empty. He approached the gates, fearing this sudden shift in hospitality, but the guards looked around everywhere but to him. He called up to them, but they were silent, and the gates did not move.
After a few days of wandering alone he slaughters his golden ox and eats it raw. Blood runs over the primordial flagstone. Even still, not a soul moves, and the merchant chews in silence. He goes mad not long after, and dashes himself upon the stone. When he grows still the people emerge and continue their lives without mention of the wine merchant or his curiosity.
After a long time someone gather his bones, and the bones of his ox, both of which are disposed of somewhere outside the city without ceremony. After a longer time, the wine in his barrels dries, and the wood begins to rot and give. Eventually this too will collapse, and only then can it be recognized and disposed of. Is there any God greater than this one? For of all the ancient powers resting in the walls of Yrus, there is none greater than he; there is no palisade so fast as a God which can say, as this one may: “I am unheard”.