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The ruined Temple-city of Zultec was once a mere satellite town of Pahuax, not at all huge by the standards of Lizardmen cities. Yet from the canopy of the jungle, Zultec can be seen stretching to the horizon.[1b]

Less than a league away from the city's outskirts reside a number of partially overgrown ziggurats the size of small hills. These structures are hidden from view by the jungle, only visible from atop the trees or unless one knows where to look.[1b]

Even in its present state, Zultec's outer limits are overgrown with bushes that, more often than not, become too dense to penetrate without first hacking apart. The jungle and ruins of ancient buildings provide so much cover as to make the area the perfect setting for an ambush.[1b]

During periods of heavy rain, the sound of it all drowns out any stealthy approach made by aggressors. This is further aided and abetted by the natural noises of the jungle - the chattering of monkeys, screaming of birds, the distant roar of the big, predatory Carnosaurs as they seek out prey.[1b]

Simply passing through the shadows of titanic stone buildings, one will find themselves under the glare of massive, stylized heads that look as if modelled on some bizarre combination of Human, Daemon and toad.[1b]

Those who move along immense causeways will find said-ways run through gigantic ponds, in whose murky waters strange and frightening shapes swim.[1b]

The Zigurrats

In the side of one crumbling step-pyramid, an entrance into said-ziggurat's interior can be found.[1b] Within its gloomy chamber, the smell of mould mingles with rotting leaves and ancient dampness. For both men and Elves, the ceiling is low enough to touch, the stone chill, wet and blotched in places with a sort of fungal growth.[1c]

From this building, it becomes reasonable to believe it had been built for a race far shorter than Humans or Elves. If one had not known better (and wasn't a Dwarf) it would be easy to assume the Dwarfs had something to do with the ziggurat's construction. The stonework had some of the monumental quality associated with the sons of Grungni. Massive blocks had been placed together with great cunning and precision.[1c]

Yet it is the carvings in the stone that tells a different tale: pictograms chiseled into each stone block, depicting - to an outsider's eyes - oddly square-looking, humanoid lizards going about their incomprehensible business. They were all of different sizes. Some were apparently rulers, carried around on palanquins by ones who were obviously slaves.[1c]

Central Temple

By far the largest structure in Zultec, the central ziggurat rises above the jungle like a mountain: gigantic, eternal and indestructible. Hundreds of statues on every step of it, though some are toppled over.[1c]

The main bulk of the structure is completely intact, in no small part thanks to each of its stone blocks weighing tens of tons. Indeed, it is speculated that the creation of this pyramid involved magic or the labour of tens of thousands of slaves.[1c]

Steps and ramps line the sides of the ziggurat, the latter proving easier to climb if only because the steps had been placed at distances too awkward for the human or elf stride.[1c]

Climbing eventually leads to an extensive, arched opening. It is from here that a strange smell of rot and decay fouls the air, stronger than that which brooded over the jungle, emerging "like the stinking breath of some undead giant".[1c]

The ceilings and corridors that lay beyond the archway is low but wide. So low, in fact, that in some places one must stoop. This is in part because of the way lizardmen walk. They keep their heads lower, even if their bodies would have been longer than a human or elf stretched out on the floor.[1c]

As the most sacred area within the temple-city, before the Slann abandoned Zultec, they left traps both mundane and magical to ensure infidels never reached its holy shrines. Indeed, the interior of the ziggurat was an elaborate maze, built accordingly to Slann geometric principles.[1d]

Magic within Zultec

When Teclis used magic to perceive the temple-city, in XI, 110, he found a great many things. He sensed the gigantic, terrifying presence of an alien intelligence, a thing half-asleep but still vaguely aware of what was going on around it.[1c]

The mage knew it to be one of the great Slann lords of Hexoatl, slothfully vigilant in watching over its ancient, ancestral lands even as it dreamed. Teclis knew that if the mage-priest fully awakened, it would unleash a power from within itself that was close to that of a god.[1c]

But in Zultec, upon looking from a birds-eye view, Teclis saw that the city itself channelled magic in the same way as the spell Teclis had created. He saw pulsing lines of light laid out beneath him. Though unsure of what purpose this vast, magical structure served, the mage saw that parts of it were dead.[1c]

The pattern was incomplete. Something had gone wrong. Teclis surmised that the entire city of Zultec was like one huge rune, and parts of that rune had been defaced by the destruction of buildings and the way the city had become overgrown by the jungle.[1c]

Though no longer capable of whatever the city was meant to do, the remnants of the vast spell still trapped power in pools. One such pool had curdled and congealed into something inexorably loathsome that made Teclis shudder: Dark Magic.[1c]

Indeed, Zultec's design was meant to collect ambient magic, with the central ziggurat acting as its focal point. When this power reserve was corrupted, the temple-city had to be abandoned.[1d]

Trivia

  • Though the trees are not as colossal as the millennia old giants of Lustria's deep wood, the trees surrounding Zultec are each far taller than the mast of an ocean-going ship. From the canopy of one such tree, Zultec stretches to the horizon.[1b]
  • Despite his instincts telling him that the layout and nature of the city had something to do with mathematical formulae, Tyrion could not comprehend the "strange geometry" of Zultec. Indeed, it was a city far older than any built by the Asur on Ulthuan. In all his 116 years alive, it was one of the few places that made him uneasy when he and Teclis arrived in XI 110.[1b]
  • The ancient city of Zultec had been destroyed while Lothern was but a mere collection of wooden huts around an empty bay.[1b]

Source

  • 1: Sword of Caledor (Novel), by William King
    • 1a: Chapter 2
    • 1b: Chapter 3
    • 1c: Chapter 4
    • 1d: Chapter 5

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