The Three Descents

In the « …a fading wash of sunlight » story from years ago, we could obtain this text by choosing « Bask in the light »

A voice?
&quotThe first taught restraint and the second betrayed. The third taught us hunger: the fourth we remade. The fifth will live on in the heart of the Sun, and the sixth…&quot

This take place near the Bazaar, and it is possible that she is the one speaking. It clearly seem to refer to the previous cities that I has fallen. However, it was also possible to obtain this text:

Whose memories are these?
The first descent, the unnaming of flight, that was forgiven and all shall be well. So It said. The second, a shrug and a time. It was fair[…]. The third, oh the rage at the deceptions of sand.

(Unfortunately, I can not find the complete version at this specific event, so I have to used the abridged text from the wiki.) Now, this text is interesting, since it is also mentioned elsewhere. The question I want to answer is: Is this piece of text also talking about the Fallen Cities? The other text in Baskin in Light does not seem to refer to the other city, so I would assume that it is not redundant, but it is possible. Then, we have the Seeking version, which is obtained while collecting Footsteps of the False Saints:

The scent and the turn
A third soul whirling like a compass needle! There is only one direction. It is not Hell but Hell has its scent.
Whose memories are these?
The first descent, the unnaming of flight, that was forgiven and all shall be well. So it said. The second, a shrug and a time. It was fair, It was fair. The third, oh the rage at the deceptions of sand. All of us were, all of us, and now all of us will.

We can see that at least one sentence was added to the text, which is why I hesitate to say if the rest is completely identical to the text above. Finally, we have this sermon delivered in the Chapel of Lights, both in Sunless Sea and Seeking. This is the Seeking version, with the « Lady in Lilac » comments:

“There were three descents,” the Priest confides, “before the betrayal.”
“The first descent was that which was given for that which was promised. (The Drowned Man makes no promises to us. He gives us only lessons.) For the second, the hunters of echoes remembered the ways of sunlight, and learnt the stories of the heart. (The Drowned Man’s heart was flensed, and we will taste it.) The third: O, the treacherous walkers of the river’s shadow! They snared the echo-hunters! (This began the chain of tales which concluded in the Drowned Man’s first-feast. So praise that treachery.)”
The Priest speaks of cities fallen, and stories risen. His words echo in the stalactites above, while water trickles from the walls. (Cosy, isn’t it? Rest your head in my lap. It won’t be much longer.) A shadowed figure watches from the darkest corner of the apse. The worshippers studiously ignore it.

This is the lesson of Sant Cerise, a candle you obtain by sacrificing something of great value down a well. So my questions is, are these about the fall of the first three cities? I am not so sure about that; what are the descent mentioned?

I’m fairly sure all of these descents are referring to the descent of a city to the Neath. Unfortunately my memory on details is a little fuzzy.

[spoiler]&quotUnnaming of flight&quot: when the Masters were forced into service of the Bazaar and could no longer freely fly the High Wilderness. The First City.

The Masters were tricked into accepting the Second City, Amarna, based on a fabricated love story. (&quotThe deceptions of sand&quot Possibly this is under &quotthird&quot because they could only take their vengeance once they had another city secured. &quottreacherous walkers of the river’s shadow! They snared the echo-hunters!&quot also sounds like the Second City.)

&quotThe Drowned Man’s feast&quot is when Mr Eaten was murdered and fed to the God-Eaters, the rulers of the Third City, as payment for said city. [/spoiler]

I know about the Sphinxstones and the plot hatched by the Second City, but I don’t understand why there are three descent if the betrayal took place in the Second city. At first I though it’s because it’s from Mr Eaten POV, however the Bazaar say the same thing!

It sounds like these descents are about the Masters more than about the cities. The third betrayal is definitely the scheme by the Pharaoh’s daughters, but the first two are less clear. Possibly this all relates to how the Masters ended up in the service of the Bazaar in the first place.

I’d speculate that the first descent was when the Masters first came into the service of the Bazaar (unnaming of flight = no longer able to fly on their own. that which was given = servitude to the Bazaar. That which was promised = All Shall Be Well).

The second descent was when the Bazaar started its crazy city-stealing scheme and brought the Masters into the Neath to manage them. (A shrug and a time = The Masters didn’t expect the whole thing to take very long, a few centuries tops, so they went with it. Hunters of echoes = The Masters. Learnt the stories of the heart = started collecting love stories. Remembered the ways of sunlight = ???)

The third descent then was the Masters were tricked by the Pharaoh’s daughters and trapped in the Salt-Lions, which did lead the way to the eatening of Mr. Eaten. (Walkers of the river’s shadow = Egyptians. Deceptions of sand = The scheme to trade a fake city. Ensnared the echo-hunters = Trapping the Masters under a sphinx)

The second city is when the Masters were tricked by the Pharaoh’s daughters. The third city is when Mr Eaten was betrayed by his compatriots. Either of those could be the &quotBetrayal.&quot The most facile explanation is that the Betrayal is Mr Eaten being eaten, and the three Descents are the three cities.

I think the first few passages clearly relate to cities. They all come from the same event, so it’s natural to assume they share a numbering scheme. The sermon from the Chapel of Lights is a different text, and when it enumerates Descents, it might not be aligning with the lists in the other texts. Those seem more like falls from grace, or moving lower on the Chain. They could be about cities, if &quotwalkers of the river’s shadow&quot could possibly be referring to the third city, although most likely that’s the second city again.

Here’s my guess for the Descents in the sermon: First is bondage to the Bazaar, and loss of freedom to roam the high wilderness, like NotaWalrus says. The second is Mr Eaten becoming friendly with humans. The third is the entrapment of the Masters by the daughters of the Pharaoh.

That “River’s shadow” line interests me. I feel like it must refer to the Nile. A quick google shows that there are two books called “Shadows on the Nile” and “In the Shadow of the Nile”, but neither of them seem like the sort of book Fallen London would make a reference to. Both books might well be referencing a third thing which is more appropriate for this context.