01/01/11

I've made my way through across the vast Western desert and am at the foot of the great mountains that surround the nameless city, the destination of my pilgrimage. The great city that is only shown on maps as temenos – "holy precinct". No roads, no landmarks. Simply the city beyond the mountains.

That's not to say that it's mysterious – aspects of it are, certainly, but it is the destination of countless pilgrimages like my own. By ancient law, however, neither it nor its patron gods are ever named, and no map of its features shall ever leave its walls. Just as no building is allowed to mar the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains, or the barren wastes of the desert outside.

I have no supplies left. Pilgrims are allowed to carry only enough to sustain themselves through the desert. Beyond this point, the only drink we are allowed is water from the mountain streams, and food left by monks at small shrines along the holy path.

One more week, and I'm there. I'm told this is the easier part – normally the final stretch would seem the longest, but the beauty and stimulation of the mountains makes time pass by quicker after the endless stretches of the Western desert.


I've stopped at the first shrine. An almost invisible statue tucked underneath a small outcropping of rock. There are flowers placed at its feet, and fruit and prayer beads. Thankfully the fruit shows absolutely no sign of spoil. I eat as much as I can, and bury the stems and inedbile skins a short ways away.

I return, and rest a while. Now's probably a good idea as any to give a quick overview of my goal: the nameless city.

It was founded ages ago by a secretive cult. Little is known about them or their practices, or even their beliefs save for one thing: they worship two gods, male and female. Much like the city they founded, the gods themselves are nameless, or at least their names have never been shared with outsiders. They are described simply as the Man in Red and the Lady in White. Of course, myth tells that the city was founded by the gods themselves, but scattered historical docoments suggests that the cult existed prior to its founding.

Over time, the city grew. Slowly, due to its secluded location and it remained secretive, trading little with other cities on the continent . Periodically, however, traveling monks from its church would visit distant cities and speak with their holy men.

Anyways, long story short, eventually other religions started sending their own monks to check out this mysterious city. It came to be known as a holy place, a haven for the faithful of not just one religion, but any religion.

As time passed, even other temples sprouted up there, and grew, and fell, until the city had not just its two founding gods, but a strange pantheon of gods borrowed from other lands. And so, today, every god who has ever received a prayer from human lips is known there, and if tales are to be believed, every god ever known to man has at least one faithful worshipper there.

But there are ten that stand out: ten that, though I do not know the layout of the land, have had districts of the city named after them.

Three are of Egyptian origin:

One is a deified angel, Hebrew:

And the rest are of Greek or Roman origin: