It was only upon returning for a third day that I began to notice other things. There was a cart always parked in the same place and upon it sat the same two men, conversing. There was an old lady in a wide, hooped dress who waved to a friend across the square. As you may imagine I found all this quite unsettling and at once set aside my business in the city in order to devote more time to its study.
On the fourth day I accosted the young man just a moment earlier and begged his pardon before asking whether he knew at what time the market closed that day. He answered politely enough and proceeded about his daily ritual, but I noticed that when he bade the woman good day he strode off at an accelerated pace.
I was a month in the city of Bylignion and by the time I took my leave and had learned enough that I feared to learn more. The city’s every inhabitant moved to the beat of a hidden drum that I could not hear. It was not, as I had first supposed, the same every day. Rather, it made endless variations upon its own patterns, like bell ringers ringing their changes.
It was only after I departed that I began to wonder: was I myself and my various experiments merely the catalyst for some new variation? The more I thought on this the less I slept and it has troubled me ever since. And yet I must content myself never to know, for should I return to Byligion once more I greatly fear what more I might learn.
Whilst nominally ruled from Stonehargh, in reality Bylignion was more like an independent city-state. Although its officials were often seen busily attending to their duties there was never any outward sign as to from where their orders originated. So it was that the rulers of the city came to be called the Unseen Masters of Bylignion.
The activities of the Unseen Masters extended to a great deal more than the running of the city. Across two generations of careful study a detailed ritual had been drawn up in which every building, object and resident of the city was a moving part. The purpose of this giant human mechanism was to generate arcane energies, which the Unseen Masters directed to various ends in defence of the city and in pursuit of their own goals.
First and foremost the Unseen Masters use their power to control the actions of those in and near the city. From the moment a traveller draws near they become part of the endless dance.
Second, the Unseen Masters use the power of the ritual to accelerate their own thoughts. In this way they achieve as much scholarship and philosophy in a single lifetime as would normally require half a dozen.
Finally, the power of the city is used to dampen the effects of other secrets which might otherwise harm Bylignion. Although the protection of the Imperiarch has meant that no direct attack on the city ever took place, the Unseen Masters know something of what monsters stalk the world and have armed themselves against as many such threats as possible.