The city was so old, many thought it had been there forever. A permanent fixture of the mountain, that had existed for all time, or at least before time had existed for us.
When the envoys had found the mountain, its pearlescent face reflecting the Sun itself, they hadn’t noticed the city. It wasn’t hard to miss it. The city was nestled near the summit, but the tunnels and mines inside the mountain stretched to the bottom.
Through what they thought was a small cave they found the entrance to the mines.
They saw steel mines of the finest quality, the ore glimmering against their torchlight in the dark caves. Stalactites bore down on them light the angry maw of a beast. The mine appeared empty, as if it was abandoned in haste. Still, steel remained.
They saw gold deposits so brilliant in color, they thought first they had stumbled on lava. The core of the earth couldn’t compare to the shimmer offered from these ingots to be.
As they got out of the mines, they found the tunnels, assumed to be used for transportation between different levels of the city. Grand hallways gave way to massive bridges within the mountain’s core. Huge staircases climbed against a waterfall rushing though the center.
That’s when they emerged into the city proper, carved from the marble walls of the cliffs themselves. The streets were inlaid with gold and silver, and lit by lamps fed from an unseen source. The homes all stood as sentinels, stretching from the cliff faces towards the summit, stacked one on top of another.
A magnificent garden sat on a plateau, fostering the growth of all types of plants. It sat shaded by its own trees, and supported fruits and vegetables finer than we had ever tasted. The rich minerals of the mountain provided the best growing conditions, and we ate our fill.
Any secrets this city had to hold had yet to be revealed. There sat a massive round door, the stone it was made from not native to the mountain. It bore writing in a language we could not read, and interlocking gears formed a mechanism we could not understand. Many tried their hand, but the door has yet to surrender.
It wasn’t until the full caravan arrived that the fighting started. Men and women alike armed themselves with the steel stolen, claimed gold and Gods their own, and went to war. The mountain stood watching, uncaring for the whims of men as we slaughtered each other in the streets. The blood spilled down the white roads, clung to the sides of shops and homes, tarnished the gold with the iron it contained, and fueled its own fire.
We had taken so much, and now it was time to repay our debts. We traded steel for kin, gold for iron, marble for home, and eternity for pleasure. You can carve your safety from the stone of the Earth, but it too will be subject to the whims of flesh and the lust for more. It will require blood to be payed, and pay we did.
That’s when we learned it had not been abandoned. The round door gave way, and we saw the face of a God.