(This page is a work in progress!)
No one could just go to the doctor and say 'hey, I'm sick.' Why would they do that? That gets them kicked out. Being sick with the Crystal, it's not sickness to the Kyrati. It's a moral failure. So why would you tell someone, and get kicked out of the comfortable walled city you live in, be forced to live in a dirty slum or venture through a world you're terrified of to find somewhere else to live that isn't protected because now you're barred from all commonwealth cities, when you can simply hide it? The walls foster a fear, you know. A fear of everything around them. An insistence that they're different from that. And I'd know, I was raised within that fear. It hurts to say, but it's no wonder Kyrata fell.
In a world adjacent to, but very unlike our own world, a kind of Crystal has bled into the ocean, the earth, the sky.
This Crystal has embodied the world for only recent history, but one disputed on. Some say 200 years, others say over 500. But what everyone but the most diehard skeptics hold as truth is that some time ago, a deity (called many things: meneyon bokh, caulda seng, noddhiv, qaulem-di-yama...) burst out of the earth like a baby from a womb. They say its roaring caused volcanic eruptions, that the drag of its umbilical cord cut canyons, that its grasping hands indented craters. But most of all, it released the Crystal out into the world.
This Crystal does many things. Depending on who you ask, it causes incurable sickness, keeps pained corpses alive and in agony, sends souls to the wrong bodies in reincarnation, gives noikhin their magic, supplies the eerie and wandering ocean red with its beasts, so on and so forth. And it truly does depend on who you ask, because the world is divided between the privileged and "safe" that live within scattered city-states surrounded by layers of walls that politically dominate, and the many opinions and factions among literally everyone else.
If you live inside the walls, you will never see a single mote of Crystal. The security on the walls is incredibly tight, and the only people you may ever talk to, if you're never denounced, will be those from the same walled city as you and other such walled cities. You will live a life of comfort, but there's always a kicker. Any baby born with any defect is believed to be infected with Crystal, and possibly risky surgery is required or you will be denounced. You may never leave the walls, the tunnels, or any boats deemed safe, or you will be denounced. You may never come into face to face contact with a person who lives outside the walls, or you will be denounced. Denounced means getting thrown out, and when you learn your whole life that any contact with any Crystal is a death sentence, it'll be hard to live out in the world without retreating to the slums that surround many walled cities, mingling among those that suffered at your hand.
It has always been this way with the walls. And the fall of Kyrata only made things worse.
Kyrata used to be the capital of the commonwealth of walled cities, the cultural and technological height of man in the modern world. In barely a week, it was complete rubble. No one knows how exactly it happened - every hypothesis is backed up with extreme passion and seemingly damning evidence every time - but what's for certain is that it left hundreds of thousands of Kyrati people dead (with the thousands more who managed to escape denied refuge at other walled cities unless they were the topmost elite), the mouth of the Lipekay-Budva river permanently poisoned and bleeding like the ocean red, and walled society's fear of the crystal permanently cemented, with ten times more fervor.
It's been ten years since the fall of Kyrata when Sinta, an aimless noikhi and sailor of not exactly legal affiliations, strikes a friendship with a shepherd from a lonely little village in the south straw lands who's left their home because of a historical curiosity; they want to figure out what truly and concretely happened make Kyrata fall. Sinta is reluctant, but a desire for her life to have meaning and her own friendship with them drives her to tag along anyways.
On their search, they travel all across this keenly grotesque world. Forming friendships with likeminded and equally strange people from all over and with all sorts of backgrounds, the little group ends up posing as a ragtag troupe of anything from musicians and artists to soldiers, mechanics, even politicians as a way to get where they want. And all of them end up learning much, much more than they bargained for.
Every time Tunín Bunenalcha walked into the northern nghan on Iyajarmna, he always felt that same sense of smallness, of awe. The doors were open today, as he'd seen as he walked up, the outward turning doors casting long shadows on the street in front of it. Those doors seemed to welcome him with open arms. And be welcomed he was.
A 2127 word short story about grief and spirituality, in which Tunín goes to a nghan, or temple, in order to mourn and has a conversation with his friend, one of the monks.