The hilltop had been fortified, the walls were lined with guardians, it was only as we crept closer did we realize that they were statues, carved and armed as though they were soldiers dating from a distant age. Inside the walls was a palace surrounded by parade fields and a small number of barracks. Even there, the statues of soldiers were everywhere, a army of them. But all was quiet, no living being seemed about.
It was as we moved among them, closer to the central palace, that someone observed that the grounds and buildings were in perfect repair, as were the statues . . .
Stone Army of Xarixes
The Emperor Xarixes defeated by an alliance of petty city-states in his drive to conquer, retreated to gather a new army and resume his conquest once all was prepared. His advisers and his children were worried about his obsession, and slowly maneuvered him out of power, moving him to a newly build fortress-palace to “oversee the raising of the army” and cycled small numbers of soldiers through to keep him happy. Once he was seen talking to suits of armor as though they were soldiers, they started replacing some of the soldiers with statues, and as Xarixes demands for new and varied troops increased, it became easier to assign sculptors than to send new troops. Then, at some point, all of the living people vanished from the fortress and all that were left were the statues.
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