Tuesday, 3 November 2015

What if? Metropolis - Travelogue

My own internal logic decided it'd be a better idea to write the travelogue before drawing any thumbnails, as I figured I'd be able to use my own words to springboard into other ideas, whereas If I had already drawn 50 thumbnails before a travelogue had even been considered, I'd be a slave to what I had already drawn. 

Anyway, preamble aside, here's the travelogue for Belial. I'm not saying it's final as there's always a few changes to make here and there. 


Journeying towards the setting sun for three score days, the traveller encounters a patchwork landscape; the sky often being of an eerie hue the closer one is steered towards the moors. Black mountains claw the sky like arthritic fingers, while their feet reach down and choke a swamp black.  Following the lay of the expanse will draw you towards a series of obsidian cathedrals, their scale on par and in some cases exceeding that of the mountain range. To tarry is folly, as those who gaze upon the skyline can never be sure if it is indeed the same each day so as to seem as though being accosted from afar, or maybe even warned away.
This is the grand city of Belial, which rather confusingly can be referred to as Yachal depending on which guildsman you speak to, and in some circumstances on which day you speak to him. But know this, never expect the same man to remember these encounters, for the passing of time is strange in that place called Belial, and how you chart your own course through time isn’t necessarily how Belial will remember it.

You enter the city of Belial through a large, long ago drained series of aqueducts. An effluence of muck, sediment and long evaporated bilgewater cling to the stone of the canals.  Perhaps it is the creepers that draw the eye of the traveller, the dry bones of royal sloops, half embarked from their slipways, or even the proud granite effigies, now barely decipherable as human nobility and characters from folklore, some angry at some unseen sleight, while others demure. These stand equidistant for the remainder of the canal until disappearing into piles of granite rubble. The vestiges of staircases lead you from the sculptor's funeral procession, passing up to a larger viewing platform, replete with a wind shelter, until giving way to a hole.  

For the layman, It would certainly be easy to become lost in the blackness, for only the most journeyed of travellers can resist the plunge of the crater. To chance a look away to the supermassive circumference of the cavity, shows in greater detail the primordial devastation once wrought on the city of Belial. Chains, beams and concrete ballasts sit incomplete against the pit, not broken, just not there, as if what was once a whole structure had simply become one half of itself. The artists quarter quite literally quartered; balconies overlooking nothing, a sheet of dust obstructing the ornate interiors visible now due to the absence of the walls. Similarly the many spired cathedrals that make up the silhouette of Belial appear as mere faces, when belfry and high altar cease, where the robes of the papal unit of the once faithful Belial now lay, in rapturous affront. The Orrery bequeathed to the city by the late pope smashed, gutted and ultimately unable to perform its function of divination.    

If there’s any greater impression to take from the catastrophe of Belial, it is courted by many a tongue to be this; it is a dead city. That is to say, it is destroyed, defunct and downmoded. But it is also said that there is life in Belial, Or at least the pretense of life. Indeed if you were to put your back towards the hole, facing the way you came, you would see in greater detail the dwellings built upon the carcass of Belial. A structure of wooden scaffolding encroaching on the outside, forming crude fascias with parasitical architecture worming it’s way through the grand windows of the old structures, in and through the buildings like a cancer. A primitive existence resides within, pictish in technological age and achievement, Belial's new stewards merely occupy the negative space left in the desolation; living a harsh existence, they themselves never feeling inspired to leave their surroundings to become shades of the dead city; feeling dazed by the thickness of time in places, and the gaudiness it promotes when leaving such areas. The only thing a guildsman, or anyone for that matter, may engage upon, is contemplation on the nature of the many inconsistencies born in Belial, doors that do not lead to their expected outcome, a malignancy barely perceptible save for the odor of sulphur in the night.

In fact the inconsistencies with time don’t begin, or necessarily end there; parting one's own gaze to the left wing of Belial, within what can be presumed to be a center for mercantile affairs, a smaller, less apparent, but by no means less significant hole can be spied; in amongst a market, or a bazaar or a meeting hall, or something. Depending on the time of day, one can spy things in that hole; Impossible vistas wherein no great city of Belial exists, half melted glaciers groping the landscape, the comings and goings of Belial's populace too on the rare occasion, sleek carriages that traverse any surface and yet are pulled by no animal. These bubbles of inconsistent, thick time are the peril, but also the treasure, of Belial, serving to ensnare the traveller into it’s own madness.

It is said that when the reactor blew, the shock wave could be felt for miles, but there was no light, no signifier that Belial had gone, only that the world seemed dimmer, as if a candle had been snuffed out. I remember the addled natterings of a guildsman who repeated - If one is standing alone near the great pit, where the center of the city should be, and they gaze long enough into the depths, when all colour has drained from vision and all purpose of thought has left, that the city of Belial shares itself. Sometimes in a whisper, sometimes a glimpse of beyond the veil, of a time when Belial prospered, of a time when the heart of Belial beat steadily and strong, when it’s people grew as bold as they could reach. But that time is not now, and never shall be again, for this is the dead city of Belial.


I'm currently surging onwards with the thumbnails, charting at number 42 as I type. Tomorrow shall be a day of scanning and cleaning up thumbnails. I'm feeling positive for a change, trying to get over myself a bit and let loose with drawing!

Come on then OGR let's be havin' you! 

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