He sat cross-legged and alone amidst a blasted wasteland of destruction. What that place had been no longer had a name, thus by the reckoning of the world it no longer mattered. It would gain a new name in time, but in this moment it was as nameless as the sitting man. He drew in a breath, redolent with the smells of the nameless place, held it for a count of seven, let it out, and began again. In his mind he fashioned a box and put in that box such things as needed to be hidden away from all things, most importantly from himself. He closed the box and tied it with a scrap of string.
Both the box and the string were terribly fragile things, save for in the most important ways. They could be broken into, they could be pried apart, could be forced open to reveal the things within. But they were of the man, and thus could not be disturbed without his knowing. And they were about the things that needed hiding, and thus the things that needed hiding would be hidden from all.
The man breathed out, put the box in a darkened space within his thoughts, stood up, and walked away from that blasted wasteland to find a new name for himself. He no longer recalled who he had been or what he had done, only that he judged the world a better place for that knowledge being lost.
But the world abhorred a nameless vacuum and thus a new name for the nameless place was already being whispered on fearful lips: The Deadlands, the place from which nothing returned alive. How it had come to be would be the subject of endless conjecture and debate. Scores of expeditions would venture forth to search for answers, and none who went onto The Deadlands would return except as the mindless, moving dead. The man would be spoken of in hushed whispers in the quiet places of the night, his name never spoken lest it hall him, spawning rumor that there was one who had walked away from The Deadlands. That perhaps he had been its creator, its architect, its origin. Others would seek for the man, desiring to find the box and pry it open, to re-learn that which had been forgotten.
For now, the nameless man new nothing of this as he stepped across the razor-sharp divide between blasted wasteland and healthy, living ground. He walked out in search of a name, both for others to call him by, and so that he would know himself.
But as the man walked and pondered these things, he came to the conclusion that in order to know his new self he would have to name himself. Any name given to him by another could only be a mask for him to wear and a mold for him to fill.
“I am Kaore he Ingoa. Here in this place and time my story begins.”
Only the living ground was there as witness to Kaore’s pronouncement, but that was enough. A name had been spoken to the world, and the world would judge its worth.
Some days of walking later...
Kaore he Ingoa walked across the grassland in search of a tree. He carried neither tools nor clothes, and would need shelter before the oncoming night fell. A tree to climb up in would have to serve, risky as it may be. There were few big cats on these grasslands, but the trees were even fewer. Kaore found a lone Joshua tree just before the sun set below the horizon. It was old and somewhat battered, with a windowmaker hooked on a dying branch. Kaore knocked the branch and the windowmaker free on general principles, curled up in the nook between a healthy branch and the trunk, and drifted off to sleep.
He woke with the dawn, climbed down to the ground, and considered the windowmaker and the branch. The windowmaker had been sun-bleached and showed signs of dry rot. It was only good for firewood, if Kaore wanted to risk setting the whole grasslands aflame. He shook his head. Hot food would be nice, but not worth the risk of a wildfire. The branch was only mostly dead, which made it only partially useful. Kaore's stomach growled hungrily, reminding him that he had not eaten for several days at this point. Kaore looked about the grasslands and sighed. There was no readily edible plant-life visible. The grasses as far as his eyes could see were dotted with clumps of seed- or grain- bearing plants, but he had no way to cook the seeds into a more edible form. Meat was likewise out, as it would need a fire to cook, and a fire amidst a dry grassland was a very bad idea.
Kaore heaved his shoulders and strained his ears for the sound of flowing water. Its portability would be dubious at best, but it would keep him going. Kaore followed the sound of running water to a wild, slow river. He knelt and drank before following it upstream. There were fish in the river, not many and not large, but protein was protein. Even better, the riverbank had an outcropping of flint. Stone hand-tools were no good for hunting, but a hand-ax would cut wood. Kaore kept watch for another tree. Even a large-ish sapling would do for an improvised fishing-spear, and the mud-and-stone riverbank held all of the materials he would need for a fire-pit.
it was not much, but it was enough for Kaore to subsist upon. the river would lead to a village at least, perhaps a town. there Kaore could find other people and begin his new life.
Beneath Kaore's feet's the world kept turning, news spreading as fast as lips could speak it, ears could hear it, and feet could carry it. The Deadlands, as it was now known, was already drawing tentative explorers. They would be its first victims, their disappearances the seeds of The Deadland's reputation.
In the heart of The Deadlands, where Kaore had closed up his box and where no feet had tread since he left, the ground cracked. it peeled back like the opening of a flower before five walls pushed upwards and curled back in. they formed a hexagonal structure with one side and one sixth of the spiral roof missing. they looked at first like simple stone walls, but closer inspection showed neither crack nor mortar nor seam. The walls were like a single piece of stone, carved to shape about the spiral stairway that dropped into the depths of the earth below.
With fresh blood spilt, The Deadlands Dungeon showed its face to the world for the first time. It was spotted by far-scrying spells almost at once, being the only structure standing for miles. It would be much, much longer before anyone reached its door.