The Kingdom of Dust

In the vast, golden-sanded desert of Klor stood a kingdom. Alone in the wilderness, it rose majestically, robed with precious stones. Traders traveled for many days under the blazing hot sun, not just to make a trade, but also to lay their eyes on such architectural beauty. After all, it wasn’t called the “Jewel of the Desert” for nothing.

Eklaysia’s high walls glittered with small shards of amethyst. And between the cracks of its stone pavements, red rubies sparkled under the sun. The citizens dressed in the finest silks. The jewelry around their necks, cuffing their wrists, and adorning their fingers, were fit for the king of kings. But although it was the richest—if not the most beautiful—kingdom in the realm, it was one of the weakest. And unfortunately, its people thought otherwise. With their ancestral belief of magic residing within the magnificent gems, reality soon put their faith to flames.

For many years, no one dared conquer Eklaysia as it rooted itself far from any other kingdom. Traveling there would take days. And one wouldn’t only face the threat of sandstorms, but also the unknown monsters slumbering beneath the sand. Though traders were familiar with the route, kings and generals took little interest in 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 wish, 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 of his men died from dehydration, while others were devoured by sandy beasts. But, many survived. And when they arrived, they camped outside Eklaysia demanding that the gates be opened, or blood would be shed. Under the illusion of being well fortified, through the magic embedded in its walls, Eklaysia kept its gates closed. But after five days, the prince was done waiting.

A storm of arrows brought down the soldiers on the walls, and showered over unsuspecting citizens. The second volley—lit with amber flames—set houses and people ablaze. The fire devoured most of the structures, leaving many without a place to hide. In their hope for victory, Eklaysia found none. Their towering, glorious fortress now imprisoned them—their lives subjected to the mercy of their enemy.

With a generation of nonbelievers, magic was a broken religion. No one knew how to harness its power. Oblivious to how magic could save them, the citizens quickly lost faith—failing to see magic as a solution. Left with no other option, Eklaysia sought aid from its allies. But despite sending word, not one kingdom acted upon the call for help. Nothing could be done at the eleventh hour—exclusion came with a price.

Miraculously, Eklaysia managed to keep Pithr at bay for a few days. But when boulders were catapulted at the walls, the enemy broke into the kingdom. Most of the citizens fled. They ran from the blood fest while one soldier slayed another. And after three days, the battle ended—the streets strewn with bodies, the palace covered in iron-stench blood, and only precious stones remained. No survivor lingered to face the enemy’s swords— none brave enough to toy with death.

Those who successfully escaped sought refuge in the kingdoms that would welcome them. Some went as far as the kingdom in the south. Others formed their own tribes and lived within the thick forests of the east. But many took refuge in Alpenwhist, by the waters of Suduratt.

Because it was along a major trade route, Alpenwhist had strong walls, a sizable army, and a boastful list of allies. Though the general population wasn’t wealthy, the kingdom flourished through its 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.

At that time, the king warmly welcomed the refugees of Eklaysia—a peace treaty was signed not long before Eklaysia fell under attack. The Eklaysians were treated equally and provided homes. The people naturally returned the king’s kindness by presenting their precious stones, gaining them favor for many years. But as time passed, the Eklaysians grew in number.

The Eklaysians multiplied alongside the citizens of Alpenwhist. What was once a single-race kingdom now diversified with sun-kissed people—in the lifetime of its last free generation, there was one Alpenwhist child to one Eklaysian child. With such a growth, it was hard to feign ignorance. However, that alone wouldn’t have jarred history. The culprit was the Eklaysians’ adaptive nature. They blended into society with respectable jobs and fine education. Despite their physical difference—standing in contrast to a common Alpenwhister of pale skin and light-shaded hair—their stature was earned. It was only a matter of time before their everyday presence couldn’t be ignored—before the citizens of Alpenwhist felt threatened by the excellence of a supposed outsider.

The sight of those 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 questionable 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 resorted to racial slurs and discrimination, while they pestered their king to take action. Three generations later, the Eklaysians had nothing left to buy peace—there were no more precious stones.

The strain between the two races made every day a battle for concord. Inevitably, the new king felt the suffocating pressure from his own people. Having the same paranoia and ethnocentric upbringing, he erected a new law: those who weren’t pure-blooded citizens of Alpenwhist were second-class. They were to hold jobs as lowly as slaves, and an extension in the kingdom was built as separate living quarters for them. If any refused to abide by the new law—if any tried to flee—they would be sentenced to death.

In the midst of such injustice, some boldly petitioned for change. But all those who spoke courageously—requesting their basic human rights—met death. Soon, their very existence meant nothing.

The Eklaysians eventually grew accustomed to their new life. They left their angry mutters and unhappy rants at home, plowing the fields of their masters and scrubbing their kitchen floors. Brutality, mockery, and poverty became a part of their daily routine. Even among themselves, those who spoke of retaliation were silenced—many had died fighting, and they had had enough of the bloodshed.

If one spoke of Eklaysia, it was as a desolate portrait framed by words—a fallen kingdom of slaves. Long gone were the days of its glory. And long gone was hope for its people. Eklaysia remained a kingdom of wealth and freedom in fairytales—enshrouded in the ashes of its history, until its true heir rose to be its savior.

Next Chapter: Chapter 1