The People of Well

Vast portions of inland Nartham are largely unexplored. While it’s known that the native Sia once inhabited a large portion of the continent, near the Albreni colonies on the west coast there is very little surviving evidence of this once-great civilization. This hasn’t stopped explorers and adventurers from mounting expeditions into the continent’s interior in the hope of finding the remains of Sia settlements or cities. As is their wont, some of the adventurers who return do so with fantastic tales of what they supposedly found.

The tale of the People of Well, or the Siwamo in the Sia tongue, is one of the most persistent on the streets of Dixton. It tells of the last and greatest Sia city, nestled in the badlands on the south-eastern flank of Nartham’s central mountain range. Accessed only after a rigorous journey through arid, barren land followed by miles of winding, treacherous cliff paths, the city is built into a hidden mesa.

Those who tell of Siwamo insist that the city’s magnificence doesn’t stop with the elaborate bridges, statues, and dwellings built into the outer cliffs. The massive cliffs only serve to flank the entrance to the city proper, which is built within an enormous cenote. The circular cave is open to the sky, but descends an unknown distance into the mesa’s heart. Accounts differ regarding the exact layout – some say the dwellings and buildings are all built into the walls, while others claim there streets and buildings built on massive stone platforms jutting from the walls – but all agree that there is a large pool or lake at the bottom of the cave, filled with water that is always clean, clear, and cool. The most detailed account – claims the water is held sacred by the Sia who still inhabit the the city. They allow no one to touch the surface of the water save for members of a dedicated priesthood. What, if anything, is inside the water depends on the teller – in some versions it is bottomless, while in others the bottom can be seen filled with riches or even more buildings (tying into persistent legends from sailors about aquatic Sia). Sometimes the waters can heal or have other effects, or else they kill any non-Sia who touch it.

The Sia of Dixton themselves have no stories of Siwamo itself in their oral tradition, although they do tell of similar – if far less grandiose – cities to the east. Most scholars dismiss the tale as an exaggeration, since crumbling, abandoned Sia cliff dwellings are not unknown to the east of Dixton. But the lure of Sia artefacts and technology is enough for adventurers, explorers, and scholars to overlook these details and try to find the city anyway. So far, no organized expedition has returned from the journey inland with anything corroborating the stories about Siwamo – in fact, a great number of them haven’t returned at all.

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