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Nak’mbu. Valley of the lost. Oasis in the jungle. The location formerly known as: Biazo Swallowtail Geoball Stadium, sponsored by: Sanzang Electronics, home of the Twenty-Second Geoball Reigning Champions, the Biazo Batters. All of these descriptors not quite accurate, each not quite capturing the full extent to which history has left a mark upon the place now called Nak’mbu. Once the widest enclosed space imaginable, formerly torn asunder and exposed to the sun, now encroached upon by vine and undergrowth; concrete once white, formerly blasted black, now colored by damp and darkrot. Once, tens of thousands of cheering mouths. Formerly, the silence of none. Now? A village of some sixty inhabitants, but quiet, still so quiet. The hypothetical visitor finds Nak’mbu only with great difficulty, from the exterior hardly distinguished from the remainder of the jungle. From the east stands of the stadium it is impossible to sight any sign of residence; only on an approach from the north (for the south has long collapsed into a canyon pit) might the first signs of residence resolve to the eye. Leaf-thatched roofs emerge between the trees. Hard-fought clearings grow elephantine yams and cassava. The signs of fire percolate through the foliage. The footpath – note the singular – leads one house to another, all in a chain, for it is easier to tread old roads than to hack new ones from the earth. At the near end of the footpath is the beat-wood clinic of one Isabel Payne. At the far end past the last homes and up the stands is the announcers’ box of the stadium, now one of a handful of vantages from which one may see the sweeping canopy of the jungle and, on lonely nights, glimpse lights flickering from the tops of other towers scattered across the dead city. And one may dream of one day meeting one another across a green-vined eternity of distance. There are other points of note. In the middle of the old freeway to the North has erupted a grand old palm, entirely alone up to an altitude of a hundred feet, on the ground poisoning everything that grows within a hundred yards. Water collects in its roots’ asphalt eaves, attracting the local wildlife and the villagers alike. The animals and villagers do not yet realize it, but palm water is an exceptional abortive, which is why the waters are ever-clear and free of mosquitoes. If our hypothetical visitor should look west, they will see the heart of Bi’le’ah, an emerald glow like some radiant fallout from a weapon long ago. The glow ripples, on dark nights, upwards as a spear thrust from the heart of the world. To the south, a long gash exposes caves from which half-men and unnaturals look upwards, and into which the above-ground visitor may look down. The two worlds are exposed to one another but are not incident, not here, and not now. This hypothetical visitor remains entirely hypothetical. There are, after all, no roads leading into Nak’mbu. It is a lost place, entirely forgotten. Those who find it are just as like to have forgotten what they really came here for, no? Because when they arrive, they will find that they have found exactly that which they remember: Nothing at all.
In all eleven years of Khada Reis's relatively short career as a thief, he had not once wavered in his tasks. A fine challenge, that, seeing as he'd been stealing since he was ten. During that period of time, Reis had seen and heard many strange things, many of which the man had never been able to prove true or false. Being a thief, Reis had kept an ear to the sky for anything related to gold, rare artifacts, strange foreign delicacies, and anything else worth the thief's time. Occasionally, he heard things that begged further questioning. For instance, back on Earth, a lord in the far East that apparently owned a dragon egg, kept safe deep underground. That had been false; In actuality, the egg had just been a large, unpolished sapphire. Very valuable, but nothing in comparison to what a real dragon egg would have brought in. Another instance of this was an odd rumor involving magic amulets that were being transported from the sea, guarded by a couple dozen armed troops. It had been a half-truth. There were soldiers, but no amulets. The point was that Reis hardly ever backed down from challenges, or mysterious finds, even if it ended up being a waste of time. He had known that it could potentially be his undoing, but he hadn't thought much of it except for a select few occurrences. Like today, for instance It had started with a tip. Khada Reis had been a little busy worrying about his new predicament for a few weeks by then, unsure of what to do. Instead of a thin, dark-haired young man, he was now an even thinner, red, short bipedal lizard that people around him kept calling a "kobold". Reis didn't know what that meant yet, but based off of the thinly - veiled looks of annoyance and distrust, he guessed that they weren't the most noble of creatures. Instead of worrying about that, he'd just thrown a coat on and tried to ignore it all. Then had come the shock of the new world he'd found himself in, with it's. . . energy. And technology. And magic. The less said about that, the better. Still, Reis had begun to cope. He still had his own equipment. He'd simply begun to look for projects he could undertake, mainly anything that involved making money quick. He'd offered his skills to anyone who seemed like they knew what they wanted (to have stolen for them), which was how he'd come across the name of Terrenus. Specifically, a place they called “Bi'le'ah”. Reis hadn't read too much into the place, but it was apparently an old, ruined city known for it's destruction and its strange (and mostly dangerous) magic occurrences. It was more than halfway across the map of Valucre. A completely ridiculous expedition. The lizard couldn't help himself. After three trips by airship, and a long land trip, he'd found himself in Biazo Isle, ready to enter this ruined city full of danger and items. With the benefit of hindsight, Reis figured that he shouldn't have bypassed the large city of Aspyn in his excitement. If he hadn't, he might have known about the more specific dangers that awaited travelers there. For instance, giant, nightmarish spiders. Or flash storms of ice - or fire. The former was particularly terrifying to Reis, as one of them had chased the kobold for the majority of the day. It had only broken off when a sudden thunderstorm sprung up, allowing him to escape. Barely. Khada Reis was currently on the very outskirts of Bi'le'ah - or Biazo City, it was occasionally called - surveying the mess from afar. It truly was a wreck. From his position, partially hidden in the brush, he could just barely make out signs of a clear sky in the distance, choked out by dark clouds which continuously poured out rain, like a waterfall from the heavens. Reis didn’t know it could even rain that much. Off to the left, there were the remains of several large buildings, and the beginnings of a large tower, which had long since been toppled by the crush of greenery that was common in the area. Besides that, nothing much was obvious. Khada sighed, scratching the tip of his snout idly. This wasn’t what he’d been expecting. It was like a post-apocalyptic landscape, rather than the ruins he’d expected as a kid. A pity. But there was work to be done. With a grunt, the kobold got to his feet, joints clicking as he stretched. He’d been crouching there for around two hours by then, trying to remain hidden from anything that might have been in the area. During that time, he’d seen a few more odd creatures, all of which he couldn’t fully describe. Luckily, the group seemed to have lost interest in the area and left. It was now or never. Khada was certain that the city was fairly large, so he’d start with the smallest buildings, which were close to him. After that, it would be the arduous task of trying to navigate the alleys and ruined streets, trying to uncover anything useful that he could nab and sell. He’d make a more detailed plan on the fly. That was just his style. Hopefully nothing went wrong. . . A common occurrence in an area like this. Reis corrected himself. Hopefully he didn’t die. With a quick intake of breath, the kobold stepped out of his hiding spot, glancing around a couple times before beginning his slow crawl towards the closest building, which seemed to have been some sort of storehouse of sorts. Perhaps things were built in this area of the city. . . Reis didn't get too far before things began to take a turn for the worse once more. The wind was shifting. It was only a slight change, but noticeable enough to make the lizard dash the last hundred feet into the storehouse. It was still storming, but Reis feared that something else was brewing. It just didn't feel right. Perhaps Reis was just paranoid. Still, the wind was steadily picking up. . . And buckets were changing into tubs as the rain came down impossibly harder. The kobold glared upwards as droplets of water pounded down on the ceiling. With his luck so far, he wouldn't have been surprised if the ceiling collapsed. . . Of course, he'd survive, only to end up in a worse situation. That was just his sort of luck today.