The beaten spyglass showed a beacon of hope to the thirsty, starving group. In the distance, a glittering cross high in the sky. Beneath that, Jamiel could see other buildings, and trees and fields. Praise to God! This was no less than a miracle!
The Seven Cities of Gold have had many incarnations. They first came into popular imagination during the Moorish invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. Seven bishops, their staff and clergy, and a select and devoted group of followers were said to have boarded seven ships and sailed westward with all their riches and holy relics. After long travel, they reached an island, where they founded seven holy cities, safe from the predations of the outside world (or, in other tellings, each of the seven cities was founded on a different island, all near each other). Since then, their descendants have had time to harvest the riches of the paradise on Earth they found and developed.
When explorers crossed the Atlantic Ocean and failed to find the island(s), the legend transferred to the New World, starting first with Caveza de Vaca's trial and continuing. In North America, the tales told of the cities being north, in an area anywhere from Western Texas up to Utah and west to Arizona and east to Kansas (the Kansas area was considered the Spanish region of Gran Quivira). Numerous expeditions were sent, with no results. The Seven Cities have morphed into mines and caves over time. In South America, the seven cities came to be synonymous with the Incan Empire, until that was conquered. Then, they moved to the jungles of the Amazon rain forest.
Game and Story Use
- A party or person is lost in the high desert or on the seas and finds refuge at one of the Seven Cities, only to be told he must leave when he recovers. He is given plenty of supplies and an escort, until the escort is able to get him within a few days hike of known lands. Then, the rumors spread….
- Certain diabolists are desperately seeking the cities, in order to claim certain artifacts or volumes of ancient lore for use in their own rituals….
- The Nazi Ahnenerbe has survived, and has used the last 60 years to secretly acquire pieces of the True Cross. But, the largest recovered piece, the one with stains from Christ's blood, was taken by the Seven Bishops. The Nazis have a lead, and need somebody to help them explore (or to stop them or even to set up a fake city to misdirect them).
- The descendants intermarried with local tribes, and are now running a very successful casino empire. However, no one knows where the start up money came from, or why the Gran Quivira Casino is suddenly acquiring Christian relics….