Remember when I promised that I was going to try to share more world-building details and background of how I go about crafting these stories? I think this is the first post to move that effort forward. Back in September, I finally got ahead on my Blood Magic writing schedule, even beginning part one of the two-part season finale (released in November and December), so it seemed a good time to release something extra.
I’ve been trying to build out world-building materials for Blood Magic as I go, including descriptions of its history, places, peoples, politics, and religions. Sometimes, this is written from my perspective as all-knowing author-god, who created the world and all of its creatures, but sometimes I write it from an in-world perspective. In this case, I wrote about Heart City, which you may remember from Here There Be Dragons, from the perspective of Daribro, who is in charge of a joint expedition between Merolate and the Isle of Blood to study Heart City. They were sent there in 84 PU, just after the events of Here There Be Dragons. Daribro wrote this letter to Borivat after being at Heart City for about a year.
For a time, I considered including this letter in episode 11, but ultimately determined that it would have slowed down the action too much, and didn’t fit with the rest of the episode, so instead provide the necessary context through narration and introspection on the part of the characters involved. That means that you don’t need to read this to understand what happens in the season finale, nor is it pivotal to the overall story of Blood Magic. However, I thought you might find it interest, so I’ve included it here.
It is my hope that this missive finds you in good health. Winter here in Heart City has been particularly brutal, making me long for the moderating coastal breezes of our beautiful port city, but we have not allowed any lowness of temperature to reflect itself in our spirits, nor in the vigor of our continued work. Truly, this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I cannot resist but thanking you once again for recommending me for this expedition. I can only hope that our results will be repayment enough for this privilege. I have included an overview of those results thus far in this letter, and of course you are welcome to dig more deeply into the contents of the full report with which this missive is being sent. Doubtless you will find it as fascinating as I do.
Most scholars and archeologists will tell you that the history of humankind in this, the western hemisphere, began with the so-called “Warring Tribes” period, beginning approximately 1000 PU. This is true of modern man, which is the nuance that these scholars use to justify ignoring an additional one thousand years of history. Civilization existed on Lufilna long before the advent of modern man. Or at least, a sort of civilization existed. Heart City is the only evidence of that civilization that exists today, such as it is, and to the best of our knowledge, the only city that this civilization ever created. Its precise role is uncertain, but it is known that Heart City’s civilization dominated most of the continent of Lufilna, and possibly extended its reach as far as Nycheril and Sankt. It did not so much control this territory, as it did demand and receive tribute, mostly in the form of human sacrifice.
Heart City’s remains have been estimated at some 1200 years old, indicating that the city fell as recently as 1100 PU – what caused its demise is unknown. Recent studies have found evidence of remarkably advanced metalworking and other technologies in the ruins, anomalous considering the generally accepted idea that the civilization that built Heart City never built anything else. There are no traces of roads that lead to or from Heart City, no evidence of so much as a suburb. They did not even build, to the best of our knowledge, a port, although some of the metals found in Heart City are supposed to have come from Nycheril – if true, this would cement the hemispheric reach of Heart City’s civilization.
Also of note are the gargantuan proportions of Heart City’s remains; the size of the buildings and roads imply occupancy by creatures significantly larger than humans. Serious scholars are apt to dismiss the notion that Heart City was built by gods as some manner of dwelling for themselves on the mortal world, but they might do well to consider a kernel of truth at the core of this assertation. It is not inconceivable, and indeed I think it likely, that Heart City was, while not actually the home of the gods, believed by the continent’s other inhabitants at the time to be the home of the gods. Perhaps, if Heart City’s language could be translated, we would find answers to some of these perplexing puzzles, but we are no closer to cracking that code than we were when we first discovered it.
How long Heart City stood before its fall is also, of course, mired in controversy, with many claiming that it could not conceivably have been built prior to 1300 PU. For that matter, most archeologists prefer to ignore the existence of Heart City altogether, and simply begin their timelines at 1000 PU, about the time that the first “modern humans” appeared on Nycheril. However, our studies at Heart City over the course of the past year have revealed a significantly different estimate. From the quantity of writing discovered, and the layers of remains in differing styles, it is the conclusion of this team that Heart City may have held sway for as much as eight hundred years before its fall in 1100 PU, making it by far the longest-lasting civilization in this hemisphere (in contrast, Sankt maintained a major civilization for only about four hundred years, and the Blood Empire only lasted for two hundred years. Our own civilization has not yet even endured a century.
I do not know if we will ever have answers to all of the questions that Heart City poses, but I am encouraged by our results so far this year. Our allies of circumstance, the Blood Priests, have been truly remarkable. I know that their scholars tend to receive a certain negative stigma in our scholarly circles because of their embrace of the dual-Worlds model and other, unconventional beliefs, but truthfully I write you that I have found them to be consistently more open-minded, curious, and philosophically rigorous than our own scholars, as much as it pains me to write as much. We all had our doubts, you more than most, I think, about this joint expedition, but I have been pleasantly surprised, and if there are any doubts in the castle about the continuation of this scholastic partnership with the Isle of Blood, let my hearty endorsement please put them to rest. Losing the Blood Priests as members of this team would be a serious mistake, at least in the view of this initially skeptical archeologist.
There is so much more yet to learn here, and after the fruitfulness of the past year I am encouraged by what we stand to accomplish in the year ahead – perhaps even a translation of Heart City’s language, surely the pinnacle achievement and ultimate goal of any serious study undertaken of Heart City. Fruitful scholarship and long life to you, my friend.
Daribro, ArcheologistLetter to Borivat, Advisor to Prime Wezzix, in 85 PU, but Daribro, Chief Archeologist of the joint expedition to Heart City