Khalva Oasis — Part I

It was a quiet day at the Khalva Oasis. The large body of water was still, except for the seldom movement of a crocodile. The palm trees that surrounded the water danced slowly to the tunes of the slight breeze. Three two-story buildings stood nearby, erected in a u-shape that had a yard in the middle. The yard was populated by some elderly and a number of teenagers. Despite the number of people, the only thing that one’s ears would catch was the chirping of crickets. They all looked bored and half asleep.

Experimental photos created on Dall-E, I’ll be noting prompts here: Three adobe buildings in a desert with many people in medieval clothes around

Back in the day, this would be a rare sight. The Oasis was on the trade and travel route between the Western Kingdoms and the Jewel of the Desert, the city of Lut Gholein, which in turn was the heart of trade in the Aranoch Desert and through its port, a common gateway to both Kehjistan in the north-east and Kurast in the east. In the same old days, one could find passage to Skovos in the south and even to the Northlands, if they dared a long journey.

In those times, Khalva used to be very busy. Many who passed through the gloomy Eastgate Keep would spend some time in the festive oasis. The tavern had good wine, a multitude of passing and resident bards and poets always livened the location up and the large oasis lake was simply a beautiful, refreshing view that made people forget they had entered a long journey into a desert.

Inside of a medieval-style decorated inn made of adobe blocks, with a bard singing and patrons sitting at tables

Few would have believed that Khalva would turn into an abandoned, sombre shadow of itself. None would believe how it happened.

It was the forces of death. Out of nowhere came the reapers in all places that men walked. Uncaring, and dispassionate, they relentlessly slaughtered men, women, children, rich, poor, virtuous, sinful, indiscriminately. It looked as if humanity would meet its end in this unstoppable wave of death. But for reasons unbeknownst to most men, the reapers stopped. It was sudden, just the way it started.

“Common people in a medieval town surrounded by monsters in dark cloaks, gothic digital art”

While the horrific reapers went away at the call of their master, the nightmare wasn’t over. Countless inhuman creatures had found their way into the world. Most were beyond a common man’s ken and many could and would kill effortlessly. Even when brave folks and heroes fought the monsters away, another threat showed its ugly face: Humanity itself.

With millions dead and few left to carry out the rules and wisdom that humans called civilization, some people decided they could and would forcefully take from those who didn’t have the power to stop them. Others didn’t hesitate to kill to get what they want, or simply for pleasure. In their greed and cruelty fueled race in owning the most, common gangs evolved into warbands, fighting each other with no regard for collateral damage. Common folk had no say, no power in these little wars and had very few to defend them. Whenever a hero of sorts rose, it wasn’t uncommon for the gangs to band up to end the threat before they went into their bloody quarrels. If people tried to organize to help each other, it was guaranteed that they would be “taxed” so heavily that there was none left to help.

It wasn’t as bad in some parts of the world and even worse in others. Trade continued one way or the other, which meant the trade routes were still required and places like Khalva would never fall out of relevance completely. However, not only had the activity reduced immensely but also this grim new world left little for people to enjoy. Save for the youngest, everyone remembered the terrible slaughter and had suffered an unforgettable loss. And the youth, who were born after the reapers’ carnage or were too young to understand what was happening, found themselves growing up in a bleak world devoid of hope.

And that was the picture in the yard in Khalva. There were two older men and a woman, staring into nothingness, lost in a maelstrom of dark memories and trauma. The five young people who also sat in the yard saw little point in doing anything, after years of dark stories and bitter words that brought down any moments of happiness, any expression of positivity and any attempts at exerting their energy in a constructive way.

Desert caravan with five camels travelling toward the viewer, digital art

A caravan appeared on the horizon, travelling from Eastgate Keep. It looked like there were more than four camels, which counted as a large caravan in the aftermath of all that happened. A young woman gasped, the energy of youth showing up despite the constant suppression. The elderly turned their heads at the road, slow as turtles, and smacked their lips. One mumbled something about how gold meant nothing anymore. Another one sounded like she hoped they’d be bandits arriving to put them out of their misery. The rest of the teenagers, despite breathing out of their noses, shoulders slouched; had a glimpse of curiosity in their eyes, a clear hope for something interesting to happen.

So they stood and they started guessing and betting on the caravan, ignoring whatever orders the elderly barked in their discouraging gloom. Finally, the impatient minutes ended and the caravan arrived.

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Gamer, gaming industry wanderer, development and design enthusiast. Current WIP: TBD

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Ekrem Atamer

Gamer, gaming industry wanderer, development and design enthusiast. Current WIP: TBD