Geraptiku: The Lost Chapter
I saw it. I witnessed it all. From the most innocent of days to the deadliest of nights. The downfall of the most prosperous civilization of the islands. And the spirits…I saw them! It frightens me to this very moment. I need to record what I have witnessed. I need to write it down before the spirits come for me too, to silence my work.
We should’ve known better than to erase the gods. A civilization full of pride and arrogance could only end in disaster. There were warnings, oh so many warnings, all ignored with laughs and scoffs. But one doesn’t anger the spirits without repercussions. It was sadly inevitable.
I’m getting ahead of myself. I need to paint a picture of Geraptiku life prior to last night’s events, for it will surely fade over time. In the beginning, we were grateful guests. It’s no secret that the islands belong to the spirits, and that any so-called “inhabitants” are merely long-term visitors. It is with good grace and kindness that we can stay here, to live out our lives in such a gorgeous and bountiful landscape. But, at the end of the day, we are still guests to the home of the spirits. This is their land, and we must respect that.
In the image of the gods we erected temples and monuments. The largest of these was a tomb, built to house the remains of the first king of Geraptiku, and to honour his memory. As well, it served as a gift to the spirits, a symbol of respect for allowing us use of their land. Atop it sat a large stone ring, shaped like an eye in reminder that the spirits are always watching and we must be cognizant of that. We must remain humble.
Over time, Geraptiku grew. It turned from a small town into a veritable metropolis. It expanded further into the jungle, thrived with life, and became a place of joy. The inhabitants adored their city and the land. It was said to be the greatest paradise on the planet. Rare visitors would come and be taken aback by the beauty of such an empire. How had we created such a jewel, they wondered? The spirits had guided us, allowed us to prosper.
But the story morphed, over time. The wording changed ever so slightly. It was told that we thrived because the spirits saw our potential and wished to help us along. This small difference began our descent into oblivion. With a few simple words, we shifted the reverence from the spirits onto ourselves. It was we who were the great ones.
Politics fueled this change. The new king, Ba-------- (the text is illegible at this point), saw our people as the masters of the land, and not “servants to the gods”. He insisted we were capable of greatness with or without the spirits. We expanded our borders, built new weapons, clothing, and technology, all without once considering our ancient ancestors. To the king, this was proof that we had no need for the spirits, and no longer had to be shackled to them.
The skeptics began noticing an increase in storms. Many good crops were washed out by deluges of rain, fires were started by blinding flashes of lightning, and rugged ocean waves pounded at the islands. Geraptiku rallied by replanting crops, putting out the fires and building more homes, and building walls to seal off the ocean’s spray. We tamed the weather, and in doing so, disregarded the warnings of the spirits. We spat at their proverbial faces. These were mere omens of what was to come.
The final straw came just the other night. The tomb of our ancestral king, in the heart of the city, was slated to be demolished. Our king declared that to be true masters of the land, we had to cut ties with our wayward olden ways. In its place, we would build a new monument as a testament to our iron wills and determination to not only survive but to thrive.
Last night, he climbed the time-worn steps to the top of the tomb where the stone ring sat and judged us all. With him he brought a hammer and a chisel, hoping to dislodge the stone from its rooted spot and send it tumbling to the ground. With an arrogant smirk, he touched the stone, ready to dethrone it. And that was precisely when all chaos broke loose.
It had been a rainy day, and the storm only worsened as the afternoon wore on. By the time the king reached the top of the tomb, the wind had picked up and the sky was very dark. The moment he touched the stone, the worst of the storm began with an ominous rumble. A few short seconds later, lightning arced from the sky and struck the king where he stood with a deafening roar. The light was so bright and the sound so loud, no one knew where the king ended up.
What we did see, however, was a figure standing atop the stone eye, a figure who was most definitely not our king. It balanced on the stone, gazing at our horror-stricken city in mute anger. More flashes of lightning illuminated its face, or rather, its concealed visage. A large wooden mask hid its features. I will never forget the terror that mask brought me. Carved into it was a single eye shape with red, yellow, and black paint creating a jarring vision. It looked like a monster of vengeance, and it was.
From behind it, from the clouds, more haunting creatures emerged. Large serpents with rows of deadly teeth, powerful felines with sickle-like claws, birds with spikes for feathers. They swirled around their god, listening where we hadn’t. Another flash of lightning, and they attacked.
I can’t recount the horrors that followed, for they haunt me too much. What I will say is that in a single night, Geraptiku was decimated. In the morning, as the storm cleared, nothing remained but an eerie calm. Our so-called “great civilization” has ceased to exist. The spirits had reclaimed their land.
And soon, they will arrive for me too, I know it. Let this writing not be lost to the ages, for as they say: with ignorance, history is doomed to repeat itself. This is a warning, a cautionary tale, for all future guests to the islands. Do not repeat our mistakes. Respect the spirits, and they will be benevolent in return. But, turn your back to them, and they will have no mercy.
I place these scribblings in the now-deserted tomb of our first king, in vain hopes that they will be safe. After all, the spirits will not dare destroy the site that they so fervently protected from our malice. One day, dear explorer, you will discover these notes, and I hope you share them with the world. I do not want the terrors of the past few days repeated ever again. Please, I beg of you, publish these findings before it’s too late for another city. That is my final request.
And please, remember, no one is greater than the spirits of the islands. No civilization is too big to fall. We are all merely guests, and must respect our hosts.