The Parable of Two Cities

Daghles was a city of merchants and artisans that suddenly developed a taste for war. Nihzy had been a city-state of proud military tradition, but was hundreds of years past its prime. The Daghles strike was swift and precise. They were able to craft innovative armor and weapons while Nihzy struggled along with leftovers from its last military campaign. The battle, which took place in the land between the cities, became known in Daghles as the 3-day war. It was not really so brief, but in the end the effect the same: Nihzy was routed and its forces sent fleeing back to the city. Daghles soldiers followed and laid siege. What citizens were left alive after 30 days of famine died when Daghles soldiers lost patience and set fire to the barricaded city.

After the embers cooled, they picked over the ashes. It became vogue to posses objects from the fallen city. Jewelry was dismantled and the beads repurposed into familiar designs. Cornices were scavenged from buildings and cut into mantelpieces. A color called Nihzy purple came into fashion when a group of looters broke into a dye workshop hidden under layers of slag so its recipes had escaped the flames.

The Daghles people came to pity their enemies, lamenting that they had been a noble, if ultimately wrongheaded folk.

After enough time had passed, a new religion emerged with Nihzyan flavors. It revolved around the worship of a god called Erzeniz, which meant “dragon from Nihzy.” As it happens, the religion spread like a healthy rash. It started with corner proselytizers and graduated to outdoor gatherings quickly. Worshipers were encouraged to cast away material possessions. The uniform was, of course, Nihzy purple.

Soon, churches were built. Statesmen began worshiping in secret. Self-flagellation became commonplace.

The Daghles autocrat looked at the lavender cast of the streets, his prefects flogging one another, and bowed to the winds of change.

Erzenihz was declared the official deity. Supplicants celebrated with a bonfire of household furnishings. Now that the religion gained foothold, it grew austere. Citizens went around with open wounds displayed like flags. The staple grain of the city was deemed wicked, replaced by a leafy green that did poorly in Daghles’ dry climate. Salt was forbidden on food. If a man had in his house an object too big to be carried by a single mule, he was stripped and shamed.

The city no longer produced works of art. Trade was forgotten. Now all labor was dedicated to processing the hemp that made their robes. The city wore down to almost nothing.

It was one tired day among many others that the edict came down: the children of Daghles must be sacrificed.

The ripple it created was not as large as it once might have been, for they were led to it in steps. Once the outrage died down, the dutiful stepped to the fore.

The first wave loosened the knot. The second untied it completely. Soon whole families fell under the sword without flinching. There were not enough hands to replace the ones being taken, so food production slowed and finally stopped.

The day arrived when the few Daghlites left were past the age of producing children. They wound down their days scrabbling through the remains of their once-thriving city, waiting for the inevitable day when the last Daghleite would die of old age.

And it was in this way that silent Nihzy avenged itself.

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