| "Are you sure you want to know this?"
Beyond this point lie major spoilers for Fallen London, Sunless Sea, or Sunless Skies. This may include endgame or Fate-locked content. Proceed at your own risk.
London is not the only city to have been brought down to the Neath. Four other cities came before it, all traded to the Bazaar for their own various reasons. Very few wish to consider the possibility of any coming after.
Traces of these former cities can be found, usually through their relics: First City coins, Second City tablets, Third City statues, those ever-popular Fourth City horsehead figurines. Eager (and persistent) archeologists can find out more about these lost civilizations. The Fourth City is the easiest to learn of by far, as a remnant stands just outside the city: the Forgotten Quarter. London is also in frequent contact and rivalry with the Khanate, the floating city-state established by Fourth City refugees on the Unterzee.
The process of Falling a city is as follows: the Masters of the Bazaar arrive at a powerful and well-populated city and broker a deal with its rulers. Said deal often involves love. After the deal is brokered, the new city literally falls on top of the old one, which, of course, kills nearly all of the previous city's inhabitants. The new city is then subjugated by the Bazaar, and business carries on as usual.
Extraordinary circumstances and the very impermanent nature of death in the Neath mean that certain people from the previous cities may survive long after their cities were crushed. The majority of these have left for the Tomb Colonies, however, as these cities stretch far back into antiquity. Anybody who could survive that long and still remain a part of Fifth City life is either incredibly wily, powerful, or simply useful.
The First City, date unknownEdit
"Only two things are known to remain of the First City: the name, the Crossroads Shaded By Cedars, and the saying: even the First City was young when Babylon fell."The First City may have been the Sumerian city of Uruk. Some have debated, however, that it's the Hurrian city of Nagar aka Tell Brak, Syria, in which an eye temple mentioned in Fallen London is located. The remnants of the city live on in Polythreme.
There are a few confirmed living survivors of the fall of the First City:
- The Manager of the Royal Bethlehem Hotel. He may be the mythical hero Gilgamesh (hinted at by a number of similarities in the game) or merely a Hurrian king. The Manager is responsible for the fall of the First City, as he exchanged his city for the life of his lover.
- Polythreme's King With a Hundred Hearts. If the Manager is Gilgamesh, then the King is an allusion to Enkidu, Gilgamesh's closest friend in the epic. However, there are also references to the King originally being a merchant from China, rather than being a creature of clay the whole time. The merchant was dying of "fits", so the Manager brokered a deal with the Masters of the Bazaar to save his life. They accomplished the task by shoving a large jewel from the Mountain of Light into his chest, turning him into what he is now.
- The Capering Relicker, who was the first to brew Hesperidean Cider. He is the Manager’s uncle, so if the Manager is Gilgamesh, perhaps he is Utnapishtim.
- The Cladery Heir's mother is from the First City, and she is spoken of as if she were still alive. She was the surgeon responsible for lobotomizing the Bazaar, removing its urge to deliver messages.
So-called First City coins, which apparently are recent fakes, are used in the Marvellous as a substitute for ’fragments of a primal power’. They're traditionally exchanged in sets of thirty, the number of silver coins Judas was paid for betraying Jesus.
The Second City, circa 1335 BCEEdit
"Never mention the Second City to the Masters of the Bazaar. Mr Wines will look at you narrowly and give you its worst vintage. Mr Cups will fly into a rage. Mr Veils will harangue you for your discourtesy. Mr Iron will say nothing, only write down your name with its left hand."
"Certain of the Masters of the Bazaar - Mr Stones, Mr Apples and Mr Wines, and possibly others - seem to have a particular contempt for Egypt and the Egyptological. Perhaps they're simply reacting to the fashion for the Pharaonic that overcame London before the Descent. But it's unusual that they should care."
The Second City was Amarna, briefly the capital of ancient Egypt under Akhenaten, judging by the snippets above and some interestingly intertwined facts about the Duchess and her family. The remnants of the city live on in Visage and Arbor.
A living survivor of the fall of the Second City is the Duchess, known in her day as Pharaoh Tutankhamun's sister-wife Ankhesenamun, who orchestrated the fall to save her brother-husband's life. Well, maybe. Poor King Tut was transformed into the Cantigaster by the Masters, saving his life from a snake bite at a heavy price. What the Masters didn't realize yet was that his sister-wife dearest orchestrated the poisoning, because the entire fall of the Second City was one big Bazaar trap that left it "chained" in an event called the Treachery of Sands.
Thanks to this means of sale, the Second City had an extremely antagonistic relationship with the Bazaar and the Masters; many of its denizens also ran schemes that jeopardized the Bazaar's mission. The consequences of Amarna's long stay in the Neath would be felt later.
Three sisters of the Duchess and the Cantigaster also survived the Fall. Well, four, but the eldest, Meritaten, died in the House of the Feather (whose exact location and purpose is unconfirmed). Meketaten, the second of the six sisters, is the Obstinate Adoratrice, intent on finishing her older sister's work in building the Palace of the Rising in Parabola. The Duchess is the third; the fourth is Neferneferuaten, who became the Mother Superior of Abbey Rock. The fifth, Neferneferure, became the first Roseate Queen of Arbor. The youngest sister, Setepenre, died in childhood both in this universe and in real life.
Some of the Duchess's sisters still live yet, but their work will live on for much longer in Parabola, where the eldest two built the Skin of the Sun to house the Second City's refugees and shine cosmogone false-sunlight across the dream-realm.
The Third City, 800s-900s CEEdit
"No-one talks much about the cities that preceded London. The Third City seems to have been acquired a thousand years ago. It had five wells, they say. And the weather was better."
The Third City was Mayan. It may have been Chichen Itza, Tikal, or Hopelchén; the latter doesn't fit the 'powerful' criteria of the first two, but its name does mean "five wells." The majority of the Tomb-Colonies are primarily based upon Third City architecture and mythology.
There are a handful of living survivors of the fall of the Third City: the First Curator, and the God-Eaters, for example. To sink this city, the Masters offered the flesh of a god to the three leaders of this city, turning them into the monstrosities they are now. As for the god, let's just say it is very, very, perturbed.
The Fourth City, 1254 CEEdit
"Who carves horse-head amulets out of bone? Whoever lived in the Fourth City. If all the Fourth City amulets on sale are real, they must really have liked horses."
The identity of the Fourth City has been conclusively proven in The Silver Tree to be Karakorum, once the capital of the Mongol Empire.
A living survivor of the fall of the Fourth City is the Gracious Widow (the daughter of Mongke Khan, whose real name is Cheren). It was her forbidden love for William of Paris, a European artist, that brought Mr. Wines to the city. It's unclear whether Cheren or her father made the deal for the fall of the city, as The Silver Tree has multiple contradictory endings.
The Fifth City, 1862 CEEdit
"The city around the Bazaar is called the Fifth City because, they say, it's not the first the Bazaar chose as a home. You can still turn up bricks from the older cities, now and then. Look: here's one marked with an eye."
There are numerous living survivors of the fall of London. It is widely known that Queen Victoria arranged the Fall to save her Prince Consort, as poor Albert was dying of typhoid fever. The Consort seems rather wan, and something else has already befallen the rest of the royal family...
The Sixth City, and the Seventh?Edit
"The Masters have always been fond of Paris."
It is hinted in several places that Paris will be the Sixth City. Makes sense. After all, Paris is the City of Love.
As for the Seventh City, nothing is really known for sure. Perhaps Moscow?
Some content from NiteBrite; most information from http://community.failbettergames.com/topic23-fallen-cities-a-great-many-spoilers.aspx.