Fallen Cities (A Great Many Spoilers)

It is common knowledge that London is the Fifth City to Fall and join the Bazaar. Prelapsarian study has long been one of the great pursuits of mystery-minded Netheans - and rather less immediately risky than pursuits into celestial languages or the names of ruminated gentlemen. I suggest that here, as well as anywhere, would be a good place to collate evidence, compare notes, and try to piece together which cities have previously graced the Neath, and why. I believe that our ever-delightful hostess, the Duchess, is something of an expert on this subject. It would of course be the very soul of rudeness to make any demands of her knowledge - though perhaps a cat might give me a nudge if I drop any particularly howling bricks!

To begin with the barest facts: London, capital of the British Empire, fell ‘three decades’ before 1889. The lives of the Empress and/or her Consort were somehow tied to this exchange of premises. London retains much of its structure of government - Parliament still stands and the bureaucratic machine rolls on. The Masters exert a great deal of control over London’s society and structure, and many names are gradually being lost… but I digress. Many alive remember the Fall and can recount their experiences.

The Fourth City is largely intact as the Forgotten Quarter, and, while it is remote and sometimes dangerous, its outskirts are frequently visited by archaeologists, students and sightseers. Artefacts from the Fourth City include pottery, statuary, fragments of text and even intact food and drink. All of these strongly suggest that the city belonged to the Mongolian Empire - an expansionistic, legalistic, commercial entity not unlike Britain, and famous for its horsemanship. Scattered records and modern esoteric texts suggest that the Fourth City fell during a period of siege and imminent battle. The Forgotten Quarter houses at its heart a palace and a magnificent silver fountain. One of the Mongol capitals, Karakorum, was built around a palace and a silver fountain, and was invaded by the Ming Empire in the fourteenth century, approximately five hundred years before the Fall of London.

This much, we may say, is moderately obvious. The earlier cities are a trickier parcel of plums, and I shall retreat for now to re-order my notes and allow others to continue, contradict and correct (I have no doubt you’ve far better ideas than I!)

I suspect the First City is Jerusalem, but I have nothing to base this on other than the First City coins, which are silver in colour and exchanged in batches of 30.

It is not possible for Jerusalem to have been the First City, at least by the information that we have been given. We hear that “Only two things are known to remain of the First City: the name, the Crossroads Shaded By Cedars, and the saying: even the First City was young when Babylon fell.”
As Jerusalem dates back to almost 2,000 BCE and Babylon’s fall wasn’t until a couple of centuries BCE (I’d find the specific dates if it was important), this means that Jerusalem could in no way be considererd to have been ‘young’ then.
(In addition to this, Jerusalem still exists as a city, and has not itself fallen. Once a City is taken by the Bazaar, it ceases to have a role in the world above. There are a number of candidates for the title of First City, but the most obvious criterion is that it must no longer be a city!)

I must offer my support for the Jerusalem theory. Regarding this saying, might I theorise that with Jerusalem’s Fall, the First City was born? In which case, it may well have been young when Babylon fell. Particularly if, for example, Jerusalem Fell at the time it was besieged by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar II, mere decades before Babylon itself fell to the Persians. And, if we are to consider this relevant, approximately 500 years before Alexandria fell to the Romans. I think it also worth noting that, Biblically, the great wealth of Jerusalem was described in terms of its abundance of silver and of cedars.

(Regarding your second objection: have we had any word on the state of Jerusalem on the Surface? Or, if we limit ourselves to cities which clearly haven’t been swallowed up in reality, then London is disqualified as well.)

Before I delve into the identification of cities preceding London – permit me to offer to the discussion a compilation of whispers heard in London and abroad. (Or, in other words, let me offer some quotes from the game, which we may pick apart and piece together at will.)

Of the First City:

What was the First City? Only two things are known to remain of the First City: the name, the Crossroads Shaded By Cedars, and the saying: even the First City was young when Babylon fell.

The script is primitive and the hand is clumsy. The scribe was better used to a clay tablet and a blunt reed. You’ve seen the script before, on a coin. You can’t make out what it says, but this is definitely First City writing.

First City Coins: One side bears what might be a cedar tree. You’ve never met anyone who can read the script on the other side.

Of the Second City:

What’s the problem with the Second City? Never mention the Second City to the Masters of the Bazaar. Mr Wines will look at you narrowly and give you his worst vintage. Mr Cups will fly into a rage. Mr Veils will harangue you for your discourtesy. Mr Iron will say nothing, only write down your name with its left hand.

A peculiar antipathy Certain of the Masters of the Bazaar – Mr Stones, Mr Apples and Mr Wines, and possibly others – seem to have a particular contempt for Egypt and the Egyptological. Perhaps they’re simply reacting to the fashion for the Pharaonic that overcame London before the Descent. But it’s unusual that they should care.

Mr Eaten’s opinion on Egypt: I think the place is charming; the weather, delightful; the Pharaoh’s daughters, most hospitable.

The things it said! The things it said! […] The tall man’s daughters. The city of granite. The drowning.

… the hieroglyphic tablets from the Second City, more than three thousand years ago, which mention [the Vake’s] taste for royal blood …

… a memory that used to belong to a jackal. You pad across chilly sand. Royal flesh! The Pharoah’s youngest daughter escaped, but you’ll crack the bones of the others where they lie bleaching in the desert sun …

‘The insets date from the Second City, although the mirror and frame are of recent manufacture …’

Some of this stonework is old, old, old. Here is a glyph daubed in dried and ancient blood. There is a faded fresco of a bird-headed man carrying a lamp …

The symbols on the gravestones aren’t words at all, they are rows and rows of precisely-carved images. Stylised hawks and oversized lizards; something which must surely be the sun; a boat with a single sail; water poured from a jar. Everywhere, twined around and between everything, there are cats curled up as if asleep. And what’s that in the corner of the oldest stone? A row of tiny cloaked and hooded figures, one bearing a goblet?

… a small coffer … a strong whiff of dust and rotting fish … a bundle surrounded by a number of interesting trinkets. The bundle is wrapped in yellowing fabric and is terribly thin, with a narrow neck, a triangular head, and no limbs. A painted scene on the inside of the coffer shows a boat with a single sail, and a sleeping cat.

A woman passes you. She is dressed in a simple white linen shift and about twenty pounds of gold jewellery. She is dark-skinned: African, perhaps.

‘A long time ago … three cities ago in fact … when I was more than a Duchess, but still a friend to cats … I was betrothed. I loved him a great deal, and when a serpent stung him, I was distraught … I would have done anything to save him.’ […] ‘There is always a cost that is known, and a cost that is not. The Empress knows this now. My sisters and I learnt it then.’

The bats are surly, but they don’t object to you getting close and removing tiny cylinders from their legs. […] One of the messages is written in the picture-alphabet of the Second City. The part you can make out says, ‘…all the Pharoah’s daughters bar one are gone…’

But you enjoy a pleasant half-hour listening to Mr Wines’ tales of previous cities: … the sour beer of the Second …

‘These days, I’m researching the music of the second city. I’ll be giving a zummara recital next week.’

Relic of the Second City: Gypsum heads and indecipherable clay tablets.

Of the Third City:

What was the Third City? No-one talks much about the cities that preceded London. The Third City seems to have been acquired a thousand years ago. It had five wells, they say. And the weather was better.

What is the Correspondence? […] They say it’s the last accounts of the last days of the Third City, strung in beads on cord in a code no-one living understands.

Careful study. ‘…now study most carefully as Miss Forward performs a dance of antiquity from the Third City. Note the sinuous motions and ungodly rhythms of this ancient art. From the costume we must deduce that the Third City was very warm…’
‘… be hypnotised by the rhythmic movements of her hips … marvel at that thing she is doing now with that silk veil …’

The patience of Hell. […] The devils’ interest in the Correspondence is still unclear, but something to note is that their records of investigating it go back a long way. To at least the Third City, in fact. They have been looking for something for at least a thousand years.

The ruins resemble a long, walled courtyard rather than a building. If you weren’t here to research, you might think to string up a tennis net […] Skyglass shards, perished lumps of indiarubber, a few bones. This court was definitely built and used by people of the Third City.

You spend some careful hours looking at bas-reliefs depicting what could be rituals from the Third City …

The Fragrant Academic is studying the Third City […] Over the course of a few days you drip-feed him juicy clues, and he invites you to spend several honey-fuelled evenings in speculation. You pick his brains, paying careful attention to his ideas — skyglass knives, black mirrors, and well-attended sporting events? Fascinating!

But you enjoy a pleasant half-hour listening to Mr Wines’ tales of previous cities: … the maize-wine of the Third …

Skyglass Knife: These turn up in the ruins. From the Third City, it’s said. They’re useless as cutlery, but handy for murder.

Relic of the Third City: Cinnabar beads and little square granite gods.

Of the Fourth City:

What can you find in the Forgotten Quarter? The Quarter is the last remnant of the Fourth City, which the Bazaar acquired five hundred years ago. Statues of warrior-kings line silent avenues. A fountain shaped like a silver tree stands before a ruined palace at its heart.

Who carves horse-head amulets out of bone? Whoever lived in the Fourth City. If all the Fourth City amulets on sale are real, they must really have liked horses.

A troubled conversation about dusty stones. “If they said … and she meant … and we were on the Ramparts on the night the Constables never came … has the fountain always been dry?”
“But where does the Forgotten Quarter fit into it? And why are there no foxes in the city?”
It’s something about the silver tree. And a battle that never happened. “Blood on the troubled garments …”

Wherever the city was in its surface days, it was definitely somewhere closer to Samarkand than Rome.

The Forgotten Quarter’s avenues are disquietingly wide […] There are remnants of the Fourth city scattered around: a dusty stone tortoise here, a few horsehead amulets there.

The far reaches of the Forgotten Quarter are dominated by monuments: dry fountains and statues of warrior kings.

… a strange torchlight glow from a large building [that] resembles an Oriental temple ….

None of these places really have names, but sometimes visitors give them names that stick for a while. So, here, the Shuddering Stones. There, the Shadowed Dome. This must be the Fountain of Names. That might be the Holy Chasm.

Horse-bone amulets and cracked clay rice-bowls. A stone monument, its bell-like shape familiar to you from your outings to the Forgotten Quarter, now subsumed by clinging moss. The denizens of the Fourth City came here in numbers.

You spend some careful hours … turning over what might be potsherds from vessels used for offerings in the Fourth City …

Tonight the view from your window is of the armies ringing the Fourth City, the night before it came underground …

But you enjoy a pleasant half-hour listening to Mr Wines’ tales of previous cities: … the fermented mare’s milk he sold in the Fourth …

Relic of the Fourth City: Horsehead amulets carved from bones and blue-glazed potsherds.

Fourth City Rags: This threadbare garment whispers to you in your dreams. When you wake, sometimes you remember.

Fourth City Airag, Year of the Tortoise: At last you find an obliging fellow from Tartay who can translate the faded label: ‘For the Khan of Dreams’. It smells like horse-sick.
edited by theodor_gylden on 12/19/2011

When researching the Correspondence, a kind gentleman informed me – well, screamed really – of a more likely location for the Fourth City: Shàngdū, better known to Western scholars as Xanadu, the summer capital of China under the Mongolian rule of Kublai Khan. In our universe, the Ming army conquered and destroyed it in 1369. This is consistent with flashbacks of a great siege before the Fourth City’s fall in the Royal Bethlehem. It would also explain why the city’s architecture looks more Chinese with heavy Mongolian influences than straight Mongolian, with grand pagodas instead of yurts.

edited by Patrick Reding on 12/19/2011
edited by Patrick Reding on 12/19/2011

We all now that the ruler of London is the traitor empress (god bless her) But i have looked into the past and found that there once was a pharaoh, and here Mr. pages http://twitter.com/#!/Mr_Pages/status/22509374145 states that Kubla Khan knew the masters, and could have been a past ruler. Also the widow might be the wife or a lover of Kubla Khan. We know the Duchess could be the wife of the pharaoh, in the university storyline we see her with the cantagaster who might be the pharaoh. The Bazaar might have offered to save him in exchange for the pharaohs city, which probably is the second city. Maybe all the cities are made by exchanging the life of a loved one for the stolen city. Please correct me if I got anything wrong.

I got the singular impression that the Fourth City was Karakorum, based on a passing reference to its famous Silver Tree.

As for the first city, the reference to Cedars certainly puts one in mind of present-day Lebanon; “young when Babylon fell” and the existence of coins points us, I think, to sometime in the 7th or 6th centuries BCE.

It is probably obvious, but the second city is clearly somewhere in Egypt. As far as the third city goes, I believe it to be in mesoamerica, due to the maize-wine as well as the well-attended sporting event, which is likely the mesoamerican ball game http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerican_ballgame

It’s important to note that all cities were the capitals of the most powerful empires of their respective times. So my guess would be that Alexandria fills the role as the second city.

I theorize that the the Second City is Amarna, and that the Duchess is not the Pharoah’s wife, but one of his daughters. The latter, because she refers to the lessons she and her ‘sisters’ learnt, and because Mr Eaten, the memory of the jackal, and the note on Corpescage Island all refer to the Pharaoh’s daughters. The jackal’s memory and the note, in particular, refer to one daughter – the youngest daughter – surviving.

As for why Amarna – Akenaten (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhenaten) had many daughters, and his reign was a complex and troubled one. You may also note that he embarked on the wide-scale erasure of traditional gods’ names and draw comparisons to the fate of a certain fallen master.

The ‘indecipherable clay tablets’ sold at the Bazaar also resemble the Amarna letters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarna_letters), if somewhat superficially.

I think Amarna is too old to be Second City. They had coins in the First City, but when Amarna was built coins weren’t even invented (as far as we know). Alexandria seems more likely (especially because I believe that the Duchess is Cleopatra), but of course Alexandria still exists today… My Egyptological knowledge doesn’t go very far, but how about Memphis? It was the capital of the empire (at least for a time) and it doesn’t exist anymore.

My guess for Third City would be Teotihuacan, though I haven’t checked the dates.

I’d say Xanadu/Shangdu/Shangri-La/Shambhala was the Fourth City, especially because of the mention of a “Holy Chasm”.

That leaves us with City #1. I’m pretty sure that it’s Uruk in Mesopotamia because it’s one of the oldest cities in the world and it’s the place where the first writing system was developed. Also, the reason behind that invention was that merchants needed to keep count of the ever-increasing numbers of traded goods – that seems like a good birthplace for the Bazaar.

[quote=theodor_gylden]I theorize that the the Second City is Amarna, and that the Duchess is not the Pharoah’s wife, but one of his daughters. The latter, because she refers to the lessons she and her ‘sisters’ learnt, and because Mr Eaten, the memory of the jackal, and the note on Corpescage Island all refer to the Pharaoh’s daughters. The jackal’s memory and the note, in particular, refer to one daughter – the youngest daughter – surviving.

As for why Amarna – Akenaten (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhenaten) had many daughters, and his reign was a complex and troubled one. You may also note that he embarked on the wide-scale erasure of traditional gods’ names and draw comparisons to the fate of a certain fallen master.

The ‘indecipherable clay tablets’ sold at the Bazaar also resemble the Amarna letters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarna_letters), if somewhat superficially.[/quote]

Never knew that! its sounds like a much more plausible theory then mine. However who is the Duchesses lover? Some people say that the seventh city will be the city to rise to the surface. There are seven continents, and i think all the past stolon cities have been in separate continents, so the next cites will probability be at North America or the south pole. One last thing: do you you have any ideas why the Pharaoh is called “the tall man”?
edited by Jack Blackstone on 12/19/2011

The art of the time depicted Akhenaten as long-limbed, narrow-featured, and remarkably tall. However, in identifying him, I neglected to consider the ages of the other cities – especially the First City –

In addition to having coinage, the First City needs to have been young when Babylon fell to the Persians in 539 BC … Damn.

Further evidence for claiming the Fourth City is Karakorum. Compare this image of the Forgotten Quarter – http://images.fallenlondon.com/headers/forgottenquarter.jpg – to a reconstruction of the silver fountain and the palace behind it – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kharkorum_silver_tree1.jpg. Notice the shapes of the buildings, the tiered structure of the tree.

Oh, that tree is really impressive! But of course, they could’ve had something similar in Xanadu, as well?
I guess I just like that idea of Xanadu being the Fourth City… Kubla Khan is one of my favourite poems ;)

[b]theodor_gylden[/b] wrote:     

And my Memphis theory is contradicted: it was founded ca. 3000 BC, so it definitely wasn’t young when Babylon fell. And Alexandria is too young, it wasn’t even founded in 539 BC!

But are you sure about that date? Babylon &quotfell&quot quite a few times (click here). Is there any evidence that the fall in question is the Persian invasion of 539 BC?
edited by Rupho Schartenhauer on 3/24/2015

Oh boy! There’s been a lot of speculation about this on the nets for the past few years, but never a good centralized place to put it. Here’s a summary of the best of what I’ve been able to find, both by my own searching and that which I found on blogs, etc…

  1. The fourth city is almost certainly Mongolian. The best evidence for this, I would argue, is the existence of an item called “Fourth City Airag”: Airag was a traditional Mongolian drink, centuries ago, brewed from clotted mare’s milk. Additionally, horses were the major artistic focus of the Mongolian Emlpire, the domes connote the architecture of Kublai Khan, and jade comes predominantly from Eastern Central Asia.

Yeah, it’s probably Karakorum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karakorum), which, like Xanadu, was put to the torch in the late 14th century (and don’t forget the large fountain shaped like a silver tree)

  1. The third city is probably Mayan, not Aztec as first guesses might suggest. The Third City was acquired “about a thousand years ago,” which ties in well with the fall of the Mayan Empire. Like the Aztecs, the Mayans made heavy use of obsidian, although they also used more Cinnabar in their ceremonial crafts.

The most likely candidate? Hopelchén, a city whose name means “Place of Five Wells” in Mayan, and which is surrounded by ruins. Supposedly, the Mayan city of Coba also had five wells.

  1. Second city is tough, although we know it’s most likely an Egyptian city with an old past (hieroglyphic tablets going back 3000 years). Gypsum also suggests Egypt.

  2. Silver currency originated in the 7th century BCE; a lack of gold in the first city suggests the city fell not too longer. Anywhere in the Southeastern Mediterranean (Lebanon, Libya, etc.) is a good candidate for cedars. However, much of this area was Phoenician; the Phoenicians are notable for creating the precursor of most phonetic alphabets, a script in which they began to move away from cutting into tablets with reeds (while this was still done, the clue—and the fact that no one can read the language—suggests more that the First City used a cuneiform language, which suggests to me perhaps Babylon or Assyria as the location of the first city).

The first city cannot be Babylon. They say it was young when Babylon fell after all.
edited by Urthdigger on 12/20/2011

I’m just gonna drop this link here.

Right; I said “Babylon” when I meant “Babylonia.” There are actually quite a few Babylonian cities on the Euphrates which might qualify.

Something of note on the first city: The first city coins are made of silver, and mentioned as commonly given 30 at a time. Judas was paid 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus. Just a thought.