The Kingdom of Dust

In the vast, gold-sanded desert of Klor stood a kingdom. Alone in the wilderness, it rose majestically, robed with precious stones. Traders would travel for many days under the blazing hot sun, not just to make a trade, but to also lay their eyes on such an architectural beauty. The high walls glittered with small shards of diamonds, and between the cracks of the stone pavements were red jewels sparkling under the sun. The citizens would dress in the finest silks, and the jewellery that hung from their necks, cuffed around their wrists, and clung onto their fingers, were fit for the king of kings. Eklaysia was known to be the richest kingdom in the realm, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the strongest.

For many years, no one dared conquered Eklaysia, for it rooted itself in a location far from any other kingdom. Travelling would take days, and one wouldn’t only face the threat of sandstorms but the unknown monsters resting beneath the sand. Though traders were familiar with the route, kings and generals took little interest in learning it. It wasn’t until a princess from a kingdom of the west sought the treasures within its walls, that Eklaysia faced an unexpected attack.

There was a prince from Pithr who had long desired the hand of the princess. And upon hearing her greatest desire, he decided to claim Eklaysia as a wedding gift. The warrior-prince gathered forty thousand men, and braved the deadly desert for forty days. Some died from dehydration, others were devoured by the sandy beasts, but many survived. And when they arrived, they camped outside Eklaysia demanding the gates to be opened – if blood wasn’t to be shed. Believing they were strong enough, Eklaysia kept their gates closed. But after five days, the prince was done waiting.

A storm of arrows took down the soldiers on the walls, and showered over unsuspecting citizens. The second rain were arrows lit on fire, setting both houses and people ablaze. The fire devoured most of the structures, leaving many without a place to hide. Eklaysia had sent word to their alliances when Pithr first arrived, but none of them acted upon the call for help – it was impossible to do anything at that hour.

Miraculously, Eklaysia was able to keep the enemy at bay for a few days. But when flying boulders were sent against the walls, the war broke into the kingdom. Fleeing was what most of the citizens did. They ran from the blood fest while every soldier slay another. Three days later, the war ended. The streets were strewn with bodies, the palace was covered in blood, and only precious stones remained. No survivor stayed behind to face the enemy’s swords.

Those who managed to escape quickly sought refuge in the kingdoms that would welcome them. Some went as far as the kingdom in the north, others formed their own tribes and lived within the thick forests of the east, but many took refuge in Alpenwhist.

Alpenwhist was a kingdom near the south sea. Because it wasn’t in seclusion like Eklaysia, Alpenwhist had strong walls and a large army. Though the people weren’t as wealthy, they flourished through their sea trade and agriculture. The palace itself was made of marble and gold, and the rich and royal adorned themselves more luxuriously than any common citizen of Eklaysia.

The king at that time warmly welcomed the citizens of Eklaysia, as a peace treaty was signed not long before Eklaysia went under attack. They were treated equally and were given homes to live in. The people naturally returned the king’s kindness by presenting their precious stones to him, which gained them favour for many years.

But as time went by, the Eklaysians grew in number. They multiplied alongside the citizens of Alpenwhist. In the lifetime of its last free generation, there was one Alpenwhist child to one Eklaysian child. And with such a growth, it was hard not to notice. However, that alone wouldn’t have jarred history. The culprit was their adaptive nature. The Eklaysians blended into society with good jobs and good education. It was only a matter of time before their everyday presence became evident – before the citizens of Alpenwhist felt threatened by the excellence of a supposed outsider.

The sight of another race, taking their jobs, rising above their own, and living comfortably, didn’t sit well with the people of Alpenwhist. If only they could send the Eklaysians home, their fears would be doused. Unfortunately, the majestic kingdom in the desert had withered to an ancient ruin buried under the sands of time. The people’s only resort was ethnic slurs while they pestered their king to take action.

Three generations after the Eklaysians’ arrival, there were no more precious stones to keep the peace. The strain between the two races made every day a walk in a minefield. Inevitably, the new king felt the suffocating pressure of his own people. Having grown with the same paranoia and ethnocentric upbringing, he thoughtlessly erected a new law: those who weren’t true citizens were of second-class. They were to hold jobs as lowly as slaves, and an extension in the kingdom was built to create a separate living quarters for them. If any refused to abide by the new law – if any tried to flee from the law – they would be sentenced to death.

That law became an ultimatum, as the Eklaysians were indebted to Alpenwhist over the years. But in the midst of such injustice, some boldly petitioned for a change. And for all those who spoke courageously, requesting for their basic human rights, they met death. Soon, their very existence meant nothing.

The Eklaysians eventually grew accustomed to their new life, leaving their angry mutters and unhappy rants at home before they ploughed under the sun and scrubbed the kitchen floors. Brutality, mockery, and poverty became their way of life. Even amongst themselves, they silenced those who spoke of retaliation – many had died fighting and they had enough of the bloodshed.

If one spoke of Eklaysia today, the only portrait framed by words is a fallen kingdom of slaves. Long gone were the days of glory, and long gone was hope. Eklaysia became a kingdom of wealth and freedom in fairytales. And it would remain in the ashes of its history, unless its true heir rose to be its saviour.

Next Chapter: Chapter 1