Monday, January 01, 1990

The Citadel--The Keepers

The Noble Houses are not the only power that shapes the Citadel. The Keepers also wield influence within the city of Iron.

From time immemorial there have been the Keepers, servants of Pheric (blessed be) and bearers of his words. The earliest Keepers served him at the Core, the first temple of the god of Iron and Thunder, carved by the Progenitors themselves. During the Rape, these Keepers sealed themselves into the Core that this most holy place might be preserved. Five generations passed while the Keepers waited for the surface to become safe. Finally they emerged into a changed world. This world knew nothing of the mighty Pheric (blessed be) or his servants. So the Keepers sent out missionaries to spread the message of Pheric (blessed be). The Keepers claim that these missionaries traveled the length and breadth of the land and that there is no place on all of Alyria that has not felt the tread of a faithful Keeper. Certainly they traveled far. Many never returned. Some were consumed by ravenous beasts. Others were martyred. Still others died from disease and infection. Still, more and more Keepers left the Core, wearing the metallic green of a mendicant preacher.

Some of these missionaries came upon what is now the Citadel. At this time, the Citadel was barely more than a shanty town built in the ruins of Kryshana. Much knowledge had been lost, and the inhabitants of the Citadel lived in squalor, barely eking out enough food from the earth to feed them. To them the Keepers brought a message of hope. The Keepers spoke of machines and gears, steam and iron, weapons and armor. Above all they spoke of the divine Essence of Pheric (blessed be) that makes light from nothing. The people were moved deeply, and the High Lords took notice. A meeting of the Council was convened, and the High Lords took urgent council with each other. Their course was clear.

The next day the High Lords announced that they were converting to this new religion. The Keepers would be welcomed into the city and given land to build a temple. Any who spoke against them would be put to death. The Keepers knew that this conversion was one born of necessity, not faith, and their response was hotly debated. Some of the Keepers wanted to wait for further evidence of true faith, but most of the Keepers were happy to be in a place that treated them like kings. The objecting Keepers left the Citadel to begin the long trip home. The rest remained and began building.

So it was that the Keepers built the Citadel. They fashioned its walls and forged its gates. They built factories and armories for the High Lords. But, most important of all, they built the Great Temple of Pheric. This huge building hulks in the center of the Citadel. Its iron buttresses are impregnable, keeping the world outside from entering in. Within the walls of the Temple, the sacred rites of Pheric are performed. Within these walls, the Keepers channel the sacred essence of Pheric to power the lights and machinery of the Citadel. And, rising from the center of the Temple, looming over the city, is the giant clock tower Kron. Every hour its huge bell tolls the time. It weighs on the city, laying on it the burden of time. The tolling of Kron oppresses, depresses, destroys. Under that constant barrage, even the mightiest must quail and submit to the ticking and the tolling of the clock.

Yet the Keepers miscalculated when they constructed the mighty Kron. For it is built with a twenty-four hour clock, while the Alyrian day has twenty-five hours. Therefore, every night, just before midnight, a Keeper climbs the 1331 stairs of the tower, chanting the secret Name of Pheric (blessed be) and carrying a lamp and an hour glass. At the stroke of midnight, he stops the clock and turns over the hour glass. Silence descends on the city. Every machine, every generator, every factory ceases to operate while Kron is still. All that can be heard is the demented screaming from the Howling Lands to the northeast. There, in that tiny room at the top of the tower, the Keeper waits, deep in prayer. When the hour has passed, he will restart the clock and descend the 1331 stairs, thankful that Pheric has restarted time. And the city breaths a sigh of relief.

It is said that the demons walk the night during this hour, trying to find Time and kill him. It is said that monsters roam the city streets during this hour, devouring those that they find. Only the brave and foolhardy venture into the dark of the Devil’s Hour.


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