Based on a Civilization III game, written 2005 for (inter)National Novel Writing Month. This is the abridged version, and as such isn't truly complete as far as the civilization is concerned. However, after I finished the last section (Delphi Fox & Jane Pilat) I really just lost enthusiasm for adding more. If at first you find it boring (it is a bit really) then skip forward to Chapter 5.
Colossal forces in motion; spontaneous eruptions as vast chunks of semi-molten solids impact upon a larger semi-molten ball, whipped into a spherical form by the mass of fusion it's spatial motion encircles. Slowly, it cools. Gas condenses into liquid; liquid 'freezes' into solid. Impacts are now sparse, in part prevented by a rock's solitary orbit. Continents form, as, ponderously, seismic and tectonic activity mould the surface. Life emerges from the primordial environment; simple at first, gradually gaining in complexity as forms evolve to better exploit their situation. Steadily, life grows, covering every niche of the planet's ecology; like a great heart-beat it booms, then dies off in great waves, through ice ages and further extraterrestrial impacts.
Until one species, with its reckless manipulation of its environment, and the ability to exploit resources in order to make tools, seeks to rise among the rest. Gradually, its inventions gain in complexity, and the members of the species expand in intellect, outstripping it's peers with the ability to learn, to not merely react to the environment, and to quickly and easily communicate new thoughts and ideas throughout its community.
The rise of man was, like all other happenings on the planet, slow in the happening, though relatively quickly when compared to the changes of the planet itself. The various tribes of humanity were many and diverse, travelling continuously in pursuit of their prey, but a select few were the first to settle in fixed locations, and cultivate their surrounding environment. This removed the necessity of nomadic hunting, and increased defence against tribal conflicts.
The initial reaction of many a nomadic tribe, or 'barbarian' as they were referred to by the settlers, to any advance made by a neighbouring tribe, was to take it by force, and to hopefully annihilate the advanced tribe in question in the process. Stout city walls to take defence behind were one of the first new innovations settlers created, and it was now almost a guarantee that the marauding barbarians were vanquished.
One such settling tribe were the Gaian people, who, like many, settled on a river, and were also close to the coast. Surrounded by fertile grassland, their crops were plentiful, and commonly provided excess to requirements. Remembering their nomadic days of wandering the wilderness, with food in a scarcity, their chief, a venerable elder named Chimaera, discouraged those that would eat greater amounts, but instead joined his builders, and designed and constructed buildings, crude at first, to store their surplus grain (hence the name of granary).
Made of thick stone blocks for greater insulation, and protection against the elements, the granaries were pyramidal in shape, because of its sound structural strength, and low profile. As necessary, granaries were often extended beneath the ground, or rebuilt in increased size. Indeed, the granary of their initial city (now known simply as Gaia, being the home of their people) was reconstructed after a few centuries as a great pyramid dozens of spans high. Due to food and it's harvesting being the core of their living, Gaians believed that there was no greater honour than to be entombed beneath a granary, and so invariably honoured their chieftains with great tombs excavated beneath the pyramids.
Also inhabiting the surrounding area were large herds of cattle, the Gaian's former prey when they were nomadic hunters. No longer relying on them as a primary food source, many Gaians undertook the task of domesticating the herds, thus adding a steady flow of red meat and dairy products to the diet of the growing city.
As Gaia continued to grow beyond a reasonably capacity of population, many more adventurous Gaians took to heart the overcrowding, and journeyed out beyond the influence of their former home, in search of new environs to settle in. The first new settlement was named Delphi, after the leading settler, and was situated several week's walk to the 'South' (the direction defined as being between the rising and the setting of the sun, when sunrise is on your left; North being when sunrise is to your right). Like Gaia, Delphi was built on a river, but more specifically a river delta, and was built on the shores of the sea. It was also not surrounded by grassland, but well-drained sand and gravel plains. The extremely fertile soil was to prove excellent for grain growth, giving the Delphi residents enormous excesses. However, rather than store it primarily in a granary, like the residents of Gaia, they instead decided that a much larger population could be supported. In the boom of reproduction that followed, many young families chose to make like their ancestors and pursue another settlement elsewhere.
The third Gaian city to be established was Lagash, on the banks of a river wending its way through savannah-grasses, surrounded by mountains, hills, and forests. Shortly thereafter, exploring Gaians crested the mountains over which the sun set, and viewed, spread out before them, another river flowing down the mountain-sides, expanses of plains dotted with forests, and, further along the river, more of the same fertile 'flood-plains' on which Delphi was built. The fourth Gaian city of Umma was soon established.
Meanwhile, in addition to steady expansion, the very nature of the Gaian civilization began to change. As more efficient ways of farming their crops and cattle were practiced, cultivating and harvesting food became steadily less the central part of Gaian life, leaving much greater time every day for other pursuits. Now, it must be explained at this point how the ruling system of the Gaian civilization worked. Veritably by default, the chieftain of Gaia itself, being a direct descendant of the original, was the overall chieftain, or Kahn, of the Gaian people as a whole. However, he had to rely heavily on runners in order to remain in contact, and therefore a semblance of control, over the other Gaian cities.
Two solutions were implemented to counter-act this. Firstly, he knew that the messages he sent were limited by the runner's memory, in that he could not say too much at once, for fear that the message might be garbled or in part forgotten. He therefore instituted some of the more intellectual citizens to create a method by which he might communicate better with the chieftains of the other cities. A written language was therefore created, and now lengthy written messages might be sent, and more complete and informed reports made.
The second solution was to make the messenger's journey more efficient. Seeing that less time was needed in order to keep the populous fed, he reorganized the society, almost completely. Paved roads were already used in order to make the journey out to the surrounding farms and mines much easier, and the difference was quite noticeable. The chieftain therefore decided to undertake a great project; to connect the cities of the civilization with paved roads. Taking all the workers that were less than proficient at their current jobs, he pressed them into road-working.
Those citizens that were better workers now compensated for the absence of the road-workers, bringing the time spent working back up to a premium.
The more industrious, and specialized citizens, successfully pleaded absence from either of these tasks. Some were engineers, designing and constructing new buildings in the cities. These included temples, where partnership ceremonies were conducted; amphitheaters, where citizens, having finished work for the day, were treated to shows put on by various talented citizens; libraries, where scholars used the new writing system to record events, and scientists and alchemists worked to discover new and useful things.
One such discovery arrived by caravan from Lagash. Miners, working to excavate stone blocks from the mountains, had come across veins of a (relatively) soft, shiny metal. The only metals known to the Gains hitherto were copper and bronze. Scientists could find little use for 'gold', however, except for its appearance, which many Gaian ladies took a fancy to. It was, however, quite scarce, and could not be given away lightly.
This presented a problem. The Gaian way of life was relatively simple; during the day, you worked, which entitled you to your share food, shows at the amphitheater, lessons from scholars at the library; basically, whatever took your fancy. Everything was owned by the civilization as a whole, and was freely available to all those who lived in it. But now, with a larger population, there were people doing little or no work, but being provided for the same as people who worked the hardest. And now, there was also an element of scarcity at work, and not only with the introduction of gold. Many talented citizens had been excused off more mundane work in order to pursue craftsmanship, carving wood, fashioning bronze, or chiseling stone, for example. Every piece they made was unique, but it was, like everything else, owned by the people as a whole, and the craftsman simply displayed it somewhere, and it was taken away by the first person who took a fancy to it. There was also the proviso that one might request a certain piece to be crafted, in which case it was customary that something be given in return. It had all worked fairly well, albeit not perfectly, but now it appeared something should be done.
The solution came, perhaps unsurprisingly, from the craftsmen themselves. Currency, as they called it (given that it was always a 'current' value), was a simple system by which a citizen was rewarded a certain amount, based on the work they had done, with which they could then redeem for their food, entertainment, or to purchase a piece of craftsmanship. Given that these had an indefinite lifespan, savings could be made toward a particularly high-valued item, such as gold, for instance. The idea was taken on almost immediately.
The Kahn of the time also saw an extra refinement to be made, and instructed several of the engineers to design and construct a large amphitheater-style building, where craftsmen of all types could display their wares. This marketplace meant that anyone with something to sell could do so, and that anyone wishing to buy items could survey everything the city's craftsmen had to offer, before making a choice. It also provided an excellent place in which to make public announcements; the amphitheater similarity meaning that someone standing on the 'stage' area could cut through any and all din being created. The old communal way of life was reduced, and in it's place rose a society built on capitalism.
All these changes seem hurried, but Delphi alone took hundreds of years to build, and the time between its construction and the immigration to Lagash was also centuries, and similar from there to Umma. One thing did manage to stay constant; the Khan dynasty was continually unbroken from father to son throughout the centuries, spanning countless generations. The Gaian conception of the world was constantly evolving; originally believing in pagan spirituality, like most ancient peoples – the simple spirits of fire, fertility, and the like. This wasn't enough to satisfy the more curious, and a polytheistic system consisting of a pantheon of gods was conceived.
After libraries were constructed, and the more intellectual citizens were allowed to leave manual labour duties to pursue knowledge more freely, change came much swifter. The polytheistic system of belief was replaced by a simpler monotheism, with all power stemming from a single God, a system that lasted for centuries more to come.