By Nick Kristof and Ryan St.

City of Kemmak, God of War

I’ve wandered the “streets” of sprawling Ravibe. Hah—if you can call them streets. The city knows very few buildings; most of the Dacs who call the city home live in tents, and they move their tents often. Streets don’t last long when the “buildings” between them up and move every few weeks.

I was the guest of a Dac akma and lived in their amdi for several days. The amdi was made up of six tents, all arranged around a central gathering place. Then one morning, before the sun’s rise, they woke me to help with the work. Within two hours, the entire amdi was taken down, moved several hundred yards to the east, and re-assembled! Turns out the Great Deck had told them to move.

From there, I lived with a Gam nobleman and his family. The Gam, as well, lived in tents, but where the Dacs’ were mainly animal hide, the Gams’ were of a thick and bright woven cloth—at least that was so in Ravibe. And they never moved their tent—thought it was funny that their fellow Ravibities did. But Zebra Zhuvpril was proud of his city and all of its inhabitants.

He told me that his city was as a great wagon wheel. A vast circle of tents, the Dacs’ made of white, tan, and brown animal hide, constantly moving, rotating, about its hub. And the hub, solid and strong, a smaller circle of bright and colourful tents that belonged to the Gam nobility, most of whom were soldiers, prepared always to fight for their city. And in the very center sat the great Pavilion, rising up like a plateau. It was massive and tall, that tent-temple and palace of strong and brutal Kemmak.

But Zebra Zhupril was most proud of his sons, all of whom regularly fought in the gladiator pits over the (Name) Crevice, within which dwells the battlescarred Drake of Ravibe. He took me there one day, to witness his eldest in battle. We walked along the north bank of the Harappa, a wide and slow river that runs southward through the ruins of Yi’ersh before spilling into the Halcyon Sea. He wanted me to see the women who bathe unashamed in the sun while lying on its beach of pure white sand. But I had already seen them—on my first day in the city! Across the river from that beach rises the tiered Pavilion, and in its shadow sits the Crevice.

Many of the gladiators wore tattoos upon their backs and shoulders. For the Gam, typically the animal whose name they shared, but for the Dacs, intricate symbols, strange alphabets, and pictures. They told me that a tattooist in Ravibe is more skilled than anywhere on the Halcyon, but I declined their offer of painting. I am a plain man, and my skin should be so as well.