Notes on the Previous Four Stolen Cities

I must prepend this by stating that most of these notes were left in my care by the astonishingly erudite Mr. Nathan Weismuller, who has since disappeared from the Bazaar. I have awaited his return for over a month, but since he has not and I have received no communication from him, I must assume he would prefer these notes were made available to other scholars of the Bazaar and of the cities which have preceded London as its home rather than continue to moulder in my secret lockbox.

Without further ado, then, his notes read as follows:

As far as I can ascertain- the Fourth City was Karakorum, which was claimed by the Bazaar approximately five hundred years ago.

The Third is uncertain, although possibly American- the use of obsidian weapons is indicative. It was claimed one thousand years ago. (N.B. — I have since learned that common scholarship now ascribes Hopelchèn, in northern Mexico, as the general location of the Third City. As there are extensive ruins and two large cave complexes in this area, my sense of it is that this is indeed a most likely site for it.)

The dating on both the Fourth and Third Cities is unambiguous and a matter of record. The Second, based on a combination of various pieces of evidence- the aversion of the Masters to both it and Egypt, a comment made by Mr. Eaten that stated the Pharoah’s daughters were most congenial in the Second City, and so on, would imply the Second City to be Alexandria, no later than the fall of the Ptolemaic Kingdom- so, no later than 30 BC, and possibly earlier.

The First City is of uncertain provenance, although I suspect t to be Phoenician due to the cedar imagery. The presence of coins places it absolutely no earlier than 700 BC, when the Lydians invented coinage, and the fact that it was ‘young’ when ‘Babylon fell’, combined with a date after 700 BC, implies that it was taken before the Persian Empire under King Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC. (N.B. — in later conversation I suggested ancient Sarepta as a likely candidate for the First City; though no direct evidence exists that can corroborate or disprove it, it did seem a good possibility to us both.)

I invite your comments of course. I only wish he were here to discuss them, for I miss him greatly.

ETA: As most of you will have noted, our dear Mr. W. has returned indeed! I couldn’t be happier!

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35 Comments

  1. August 10, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    The theories seem sound enough; clearly, more work is needed to uncover further evidence, particularly as regards the First City. Perhaps we can even begin to assemble a concept as to why the cities keep falling in the first place.

  2. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 10, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    One other item I should have mentioned was the unusually large gap in time between the acquisition of of the second city and the third.

    As to why they keep falling… that is another field upon which we speculate. What is that rumor about the “stone pigs” again, has anyone recalled it?

  3. August 10, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Fortuitous timing. Someone had just commented upon it. It’s part of the general rumours of things under the City:

    “In no particular order, these are said to be: the first Four Cities; the Masters’ summer homes; the hatcheries of the Rubbery Men; and a number of gigantic sleeping beasts which are drugged every year to prevent them awakening and destroying the Neath. These are sometimes referred to as the ‘stone pigs,’ but that’s probably some sort of mistranslation.”

    I would venture the theory that the reason for the gap and the disgust of the Masters for both the Second City and all things Egyptian may involve the awakening of said ‘stone pigs’ during the period of the Second City.

  4. Theodor said,

    August 10, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    When I have had time to review these notes in detail, I may have more to contribute; I would, however, like to make mention of the well in Big King Square, where a voice speaks of the tall man’s daughters, the city of granite, and the drowning. I have discussed with Henrik the possibility that the city of granite might be the Second City, and the tall man’s daughters the Pharoah’s daughters Mr Eaten found congenial. Henrik also theorized that the drowning is a reference to Egypt’s floods.

  5. Theodor said,

    August 10, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Also, I find Mr Eaten’s fondness for Egypt most intriguing, in light of the Masters’ collective antipathy for it. Could Mr Eaten have had role in the Second City’s fall?

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 10, 2010 at 5:05 pm

      The Masters also have an antipathy toward Mr. Eaten.

      • Theodor said,

        August 10, 2010 at 5:09 pm

        I must share my own notes on Mr Eaten with you later — but here is a selection:

        It is unclear whether Mr Eaten is or was a Master. What is clear is that the Masters share disdain for him. Mr Veils has called him ‘the shadow of a sliver of regret’. Mr Spices has said ‘a deceitful remnant, no more’ and refers to a regrettable ‘fall.’ Mr Hearts has asked its customers to stop selling skin to him, for he has not ‘the least idea what to do with it.’ Disputes among the Masters are common, but there is a definite sense in which the others do not even regard him as a Master.

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          August 10, 2010 at 5:16 pm

          *nodding* Perhaps the bone of contention was originally the Second City, or its fall.

      • August 10, 2010 at 5:11 pm

        It is possible, then, that the two are connected in that case.

  6. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 10, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Mr. duHart raises an interesting conjecture — if the “stone pigs” were awakened and did destory the second city, it might well account for why it took so long to acquire and set up the third.

    Conjecture, speculate… it’s all we have for now, but the theories can be most enlightening.

  7. Henrik Paulsen said,

    August 10, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I am deeply interested in whether the Bazaar’s cities have always been so intimately proximate to Hell. The sheer length of time over which Hell has been investigating the Correspondence — over a thousand years — and the strong connection between the Correspondence and features of the Bazaar (its characters are written on the Bazaar’s spires; one inevitably writes in it during the pursuit of Mr Eaten’s name) indicates that this sustained proximity is likely. This, then, is the question I pose: Why were the five cities brought into conjunction with Hell?

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 10, 2010 at 6:34 pm

      I suspect a deal between the Masters of the Bazaar and Hell, having to do with free run of the city, access to souls, and commerce.

      It’s just a suspicion for I cannot figure out why the Masters are so interested in commerce.

  8. August 10, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Fascinating. We’ve heard no two scholars pick any of the four cities the same way… and yet all have sounded so plausible.

    Could not fourth( or even third) city residents still be quite alive in the tomb colonies? We should hunt them down to get a first hand account.

    • Henrik Paulsen said,

      August 10, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      You make an excellent point, Commodore. I shall try to locate such residents when next I return to Venderbight.

    • NWeismuller said,

      August 10, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      The Fourth City has the good grace to have a certain fountain that most assuredly was originally in Karakorum. You may see this fountain if you visit the Forgotten Quarter- thus I consider its identification unambiguous.

  9. Israel Salvador said,

    August 10, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Phoenicia, Fallen? No ashes to rise from! There may be very much more to the stories than we can find!

    They, ah, didn’t keep many records! That is to say, the records didn’t keep. The papyrus they used was very very fragile, all lost now to fire and tearing time! Did the Masters know? Did they want to start with an easily eroded empire? Are there Phoenician Accounts about the Masters?

    Oh, and obviously also, the Phoenicians were tip-top Traders! If the Bazaar was founded at the First Fall, where better to set up shop?

  10. curious_fellow said,

    August 10, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    I have come into possession of several coins that are purported to have originated from the First City, and upon their face they bear the shape of a cedar tree. Similarly, in some of the older texts that I’ve seen, they refer to the First City as the ‘Crossroads Shaded by Cedars’.

    Therefore, it should be clear to the educated that the First City was in a geographical locale where cedar trees were prominent. Given the assumption that the First City must be a location inhabited in antiquity, I would posit – and I must admit this is a leap of logic – that it may be the city of Byblos, considered to be one of the oldest cities in the world, and in an area known for its cedars.

    Interestingly, there was a great amount of trade between Egypt and Byblos…

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 10, 2010 at 7:09 pm

      But was Byblos “Young when Babylon fell?” that is the other clue we have.

      • curious_fellow said,

        August 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm

        An excellent point. That it certainly was /not/.

        Unfortunately, I can’t think of any cities that would qualify that /were/ young during the fall of Babylon – Byblos is even known to some to have been the ‘crossroads’ of the ancient world.

        The saying may, after all, be in error.

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          August 10, 2010 at 7:24 pm

          Consider Sarepta for awhile, and tell me what you think. :)

          • curious_fellow said,

            August 10, 2010 at 7:33 pm

            I can unfortunately find no solid information as to the date of Sarepta’s founding. While it is within the shadow of the cedars, its location seems odd for a ‘crossroads’ of any sort.

            • cl0ckw0rks said,

              August 10, 2010 at 8:04 pm

              Truly, though I cannot remember it clearly now I do believe I once found some reference to the general time of its founding. I shall have to scour my notes for the reference — I’ve thrown over most of this research in favor of working on the Parabola Equation, I’m afraid.

              • curious_fellow said,

                August 10, 2010 at 10:11 pm

                I must admit, my own studies have drifted far from such esoterica as well since my initial probings into the matter of the older Cities – into entirely different estoterica, of course. Hah.

      • NWeismuller said,

        August 10, 2010 at 7:29 pm

        What I consider possible is that, although the city that became the First City may not have been young, as a city, when Babylon fell- perhaps the First City itself was ‘young’, as the First City. For it is sometimes spoken of as if London and Fallen London are, in a way, two different cities, one born of the disappearance of the first.

        • curious_fellow said,

          August 10, 2010 at 7:35 pm

          An enlightening possibility, my good man, and an excellent point.

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          August 10, 2010 at 8:00 pm

          Oh goodness, I had not considered it in that light. It does complicate the dating process, doesn’t it….

  11. Theodor said,

    August 11, 2010 at 9:52 am

    For convenience’s sake, I have copied the rumours surrounding the cities preceding London, word for word as they were repeated to me — I will leave them here, for the convenience of others …

    First City:

    What was the First City? Only two things are known to remain of the First City: the name, the Crossroads Shaded By Cedars, and the saying: even the First City was young when Babylon fell.

    First City Coins: One side bears what might be a cedar tree. [I've] never met anyone who can read the script on the other side.

    Second City:

    What’s the problem with the Second City? Never mention the Second City to the Masters of the Bazaar. Mr Wines will look at you narrowly and give you his worst vintage. Mr Cups will fly into a rage. Mr Veils will harangue you for your discourtesy. Mr Iron will say nothing, only write down your name with its left hand.

    A peculiar antipathy Certain of the Masters of the Bazaar – Mr Stones, Mr Apples and Mr Wines, and possibly others – seem to have a particular contempt for Egypt and the Egyptological. Perhaps they’re simply reacting to the fashion for the Pharaonic that overcame London before the Descent. But it’s unusual that they should care.

    Mr Eaten’s opinion on Egypt: I think the place is charming; the weather, delightful; the Pharaoh’s daughters, most hospitable.

    The things it said! The things it said! [...] The tall man’s daughters. The city of granite. The drowning.

    Relic of the Second City: Gypsum heads and indecipherable clay tablets.

    Third City:

    What was the Third City? No-one talks much about the cities that preceded London. The Third City seems to have been acquired a thousand years ago. It had five wells, they say. And the weather was better.

    What is the Correspondence? [...] They say it’s the last accounts of the last days of the Third City, strung in beads on cord in a code no-one living understands.

    Careful study. ‘…now study most carefully as Miss Forward performs a dance of antiquity from the Third City. Note the sinuous motions and ungodly rhythms of this ancient art. From the costume we must deduce that the Third City was very warm…’
    ‘… be hypnotised by the rhythmic movements of her hips … marvel at that thing she is doing now with that silk veil …’

    The patience of Hell. [...] The devils’ interest in the Correspondence is still unclear, but something to note is that their records of investigating it go back a long way. To at least the Third City, in fact. They have been looking for something for at least a thousand years.

    Skyglass Knife: These turn up in the ruins. From the Third City, it’s said. They’re useless as cutlery, but handy for murder.

    Relic of the Third City: Cinnabar beads and little square granite gods.

    Fourth City:

    What can you find in the Forgotten Quarter? The Quarter is the last remnant of the Fourth City, which the Bazaar acquired five hundred years ago. Statues of warrior-kings line silent avenues. A fountain shaped like a silver tree stands before a ruined palace at its heart.

    Who carves horse-head amulets out of bone? Whoever lived in the Fourth City. If all the Fourth City amulets on sale are real, they must really have liked horses.

    A troubled conversation about dusty stones. “If they said … and she meant … and we were on the Ramparts on the night the Constables never came … has the fountain always been dry?”
    “But where does the Forgotten Quarter fit into it? And why are there no foxes in the city?”
    It’s something about the silver tree. And a battle that never happened. “Blood on the troubled garments …”

    Wherever the city was in its surface days, it was definitely somewhere closer to Samarkand than Rome.

    The Forgotten Quarter’s avenues are disquietingly wide [...] There are remnants of the Fourth city scattered around: a dusty stone tortoise here, a few horsehead amulets there.

    … a strange torchlight glow from a large building [that] resembles an Oriental temple ….

    None of these places really have names, but sometimes visitors give them names that stick for a while. So, here, the Shuddering Stones. There, the Shadowed Dome. This must be the Fountain of Names. That might be the Holy Chasm.

    Relic of the Fourth City: Horsehead amulets carved from bones and blue-glazed potsherds.

  12. Arthur B said,

    August 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Note that, if the theory outlined is correct, all the first four cities were crucial centres of major empires, and the empires did not last long after the loss of the city. I suspect a political motive somewhere.

    Does anyone know what happened to the British Empire since the Fall? The Traitor Empress is still an Empress, god bless her, but one suspects that control of her surface holdings is difficult to maintain from down here.

  13. Mlle. J Esper said,

    October 30, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Thank you for posting those Theodore, They are quite convenient. I just arrived in Fallen London the day before last and I love these mysteries.

    I’m curious as to the assumption that the Second City is Egyptian or that any of the cities are Egyptian at all (knowing the distaste of the Masters). My own digging makes me believe that Sippar is likely. It’s a city famous for clay tablets and both tablets and a gypsum head from the city have been exhibited in the British Museum.

    Also, I’m rather confused about the Third City now since the “beads on a cord” reference suggests quipu (Incan). Now I can’t find much of anything on Incan wells, but there are plenty on Mayan wells (natural formations called cenotes). Interestingly, one major city called Coba, built around five of them, was abruptly abandoned around 900 AD. It was situated on the northeastern tip of the Yucatan which has decidedly nice weather. Also, the rumor, “…The city of granite. The drowning.”, might refer to the Third City since the Mayans did ritually drown people (in these cenotes) to appease their rain god.

    Anyways, that’s what I’ve found so far. I’ll keep looking into the other two cities. I’d love to hear what you guys think.

    • Mlle. J Esper said,

      October 30, 2010 at 11:52 pm

      Ah, but that sinuous dance can’t be Mayan, can it? Belly dancing (if such is what it is) is Middle Eastern. Victorian England certainly knew of it. Back to the drawing board.

    • Mlle. J Esper said,

      October 30, 2010 at 11:55 pm

      Nevermind. I’m stupid. I didn’t read that rumor about not mentioning the Second City to the Masters. So it’s Egyptian.

    • Anna said,

      February 3, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      Adding to the idea of an Egyptian Second City, is that eyes on cobblestones have a tendency to turn up. The complete lack of context provided about these eyes seems suspect, especially considering the symbolic importance of eyes in Egyptian culture and the Master’s dislike for it. The eye is a symbol of Horus, the god who was made from the death of his father, and is associated with the rebirth from a scattering of parts, a potent symbol for a fallen city whose Pharoh would die (imagined as Osiris) only to rise again as Horus. Furthermore, one of the eyes of Horus was gouged out, and became the moon, for it’s light was much less than his other eye, the sun. The Egyptian mythological cannon provides much that would support the successful ability to ideologically adapt in the Neath.

  14. Sinspired said,

    November 10, 2010 at 12:48 am

    A city known for it’s Five Wells is the city of Zadar, in Croatia, so that is my bet for the Third City.

    As for the First City, too bad Anjar is dated quite a bit after your conjecture. There is a famous crossroads there, with tetrapylons. While we’re naturally focusing on Lebanon, it’s even possible that the clues refer to Damascus.

    • Anna said,

      February 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm

      The city of Zadar also holds with the writings of Pliny the Elder (from Pontus to Boaetica) and the letter addressed from Signapore, both of which refer to the area where the Prisoner’s Honey seems to be found (the Exile’s Rose). Suggesting that the origin of Prisoner’s Roses and Red Honey to be Zadar, it was destroyed, has five wells, and was a large trading center in the ancient world.

  15. John Evans said,

    February 7, 2011 at 8:43 am

    I had the opportunity to research and peddle medical elixirs, and this interesting thing happened:

    “You pored over the ancient medical texts (such as there were. Where did the Egyptian ones go?) In several antique herbals you find information about London’s most abundant resource – mushrooms…”

    http://fallenlondon.com/c/691562


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