The Legend of the Lost Kingdom
I first encountered the tale about which this work centers when I was very young, in the same manner as I expect the majority of my readers initially heard it: as a morality story told by an elder, in this case, my grandfather. While, in all probability, the tale was mostly fiction by the time it reached my ears, I always sensed that it had some basis in reality. It seemed to me more than the standard myth designed to instruct children about the costs of hubris--there was something deeper to it, something that warranted further investigation.
The idea for this project lingered in the back of my mind for many years, and likely it would have there remained, had it not been for a longtime friend and traveling companion, now sadly deceased, who brought it to my attention once more. He was a mapmaker, and had traveled throughout the land, charting kingdoms and empires, coastlines and mountain ranges, cities and towns, until there was scarcely an acre of soil that he had not yet set foot upon; and yet, he told me, there was a blank space in his map for which his observations and calculations could not account. Upon consultation with other cartographers, he found that this was not an uncommon anomaly. It seemed that the only explanation was for the existence--or, rather, nonexistence--of a landlocked region roughly 250 miles from west to east and 300 north to south, where something should have been but nothing was.
My immediate reaction was of recognition. What else could this missing place be but the lost kingdom about which my grandfather had spoken?
I write this introduction nearly ten years to the day after commencing my expedition to uncover the true story of this lost kingdom. Unfortunately, my mission was unsuccessful. Despite many long miles walked and many hundreds of records unearthed, I cannot tell the reader how, when or why the lost kingdom was lost.
This, however, I have determined beyond a doubt:
There was once a great and powerful land called Zairu, a land which--sometime between the 70-Years-War and the Great Famine--simply vanished from the face of the earth.
As for the rest, I shall allow the reader to draw his own conclusions from the stories, poems and historical documents that I have here compiled. As always, safe journeys, and may our paths one day cross again.