By Ryan St.
Once a great Kardi city sat at the mouth of the Halcyon Sea. Tales speak of lilting music, elaborate hieroglyphs upon each wall, and statues of ancient queens so lifelike that their marble forms seemed to breathe. That city died with the arrival of the Living Gods, who buried the city, enslaved its people, and scoured its name from memory. In its place, layer upon layer, stands the labyrinthine city that now bears the name of its God, Balohn.
The city is famous for tales of tragedy; by tradition, once a year the God’s priests search the city endlessly, carefully choosing three exceptional young adults to bring before the entrance to the Depths. There, at a gate more like a gaping maw, the eyes of Balohn can be seen through a veil of smoke, and his voice will issue forth, judging a candidate’s worth. The unworthy are sacrificed; the worthy proceed into the Depths. Mercifully, the God’s appetite for human sacrifice has eased in recent years, are rarely have candidates been denied entry to his inverted temple. Like the dead, the worthy do not return.
Masks, frequently changed, adorn many Balo faces in public. While polite society in Balohn is conducted between masked faces, outsiders are discouraged from wearing masks. Those that ignore this taboo have often felt a strange madness growing within them from the first moment. With time, the feeling passes.
Behind the masks, the most beautiful Balo women have mysterious, sultry eyes and dark, heavy makeup.
Serious meeting place for Names
Perhaps the city is best captured in the old Halcyon adage: “Many lose their way in Balohn.”