Kitezh (Ки́теж) is a mythical city said to have sunken under Lake Svetloyar in the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast in western Russia in the early 13th century. The city was allegedly built by Georgy II, Grand Prince of Vladimir, on the lake's shores and named "Bolshoy Kitezh", or "Big Kitezh". When Batu Khan of the Mongolian Golden Horde learned of the city, he drove his army to pillage it, overrunning another of Georgy II's settlements, Maly Kitezh ("Little Kitezh"), along the way and forcing the prince to flee for Bolshoy Kitezh. Upon arriving at the city, Batu Khan found it completely defenseless, its residents praying to God for their salvation. When the Mongols charged, however, Bolshoy Kitezh submerged beneath the lake. The story of Kitezh appears to originate in "Kitezh Chronicle", an anonymous book written in the late 18th century that some scholars have attributed to a splinter group of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Rise of the Tomb RaiderEdit
Rise of the Tomb Raider features the myth of Kitezh. According to Lara Croft's investigation, Kitezh's origins lie in the Deathless Prophet of Constantinople, a prophet and purported miracle-worker who rose to prominence in the Byzantine Empire in the 10th century and established a city for his followers in an oasis in Syria. The Order of Trinity hunted down the Prophet and his followers, but although their knights reportedly killed the Prophet, rumors surfaced he had returned to life. Trinity pursued the Prophet's followers to their oasis city and trapped them in the Prophet's tomb, but the Prophet cheated death once again and escaped, leading his surviving followers to safety.
Deep within Siberia, the Prophet's followers constructed Kitezh, a new city in a sheltered mountain valley. There, they hoped to lead a peaceful existence under the Prophet's guidance, away from the persecution of Trinity and the greed of those who sought after their most prized artifact: the Divine Source. Unfortunately, this hope was in vain. A Mongol army ventured into the mountains in search of Kitezh decades later, prodded by Trinity's claims of treasure. The army razed much of Kitezh, and the heart of the city was buried under an avalanche and entombed within the resulting glacier.
The following winters were harsh for the Kitezh survivors. They had arrived in Siberia largely ignorant of how to survive in the wild, and had built a city comparable to anything in the Byzantine Empire to live in comfort; without the conveniences and luxuries they had taken for granted for so long, many of the Prophet's people perished. Those who were left decided that the loss of their city had been a rebuke by God. They became the Remnants, and taught themselves to how live off of the land rather than subjugate it. In the midst of the ruins of Kitezh's outskirts, they constructed a humble village and took up hunting, fishing, and farming.
Centuries later, in the 1960's, the Soviet Red Army invaded the region and set up a mining operation to extract copper and uranium. The Soviets enslaved many of the Remnants to work in the mine, supplementing the prisoners they had brought along for the task. The main Remnant settlement on the other side of the mountains remained hidden, and from there the rest of the Remnants methodically plotted their counterattack over the next several years. As the uranium deposits began to run out in 1970, the Soviets accidentally bored into one of the subterranean structures of Kitezh and discovered its wealth of artifacts. Spurred into action by the Soviets' plundering of their heritage, the Remnants attacked the Soviet installation in force but failed to dislodge them. The Soviet commander realized that his men would lose a war of attrition, and, unable to request reinforcements due to the Remnants having cut the communication lines, ordered the installation be abandoned. After boarding the last train out of the region, however, the Soviets found that the Remnants had dismantled the tracks, trapping them. None survived the Remnants' wrath and the subsequent winter.
Most recently, Trinity resumed its quest for the Prophet and the Divine Source, which led them to Kitezh. They set up their command center in the old Soviet installation while they narrowed down the Divine Source's location by interrogating and torturing the Remnants. After raiding the Remnants' village, they learned of the Atlas, an artifact that the Prophet's followers had made for him so that he might always know the Divine Source's location. Trinity recovered the Atlas in Kitezh's cathedral, a structure that had avoided the avalanche centuries before, and used it to locate Kitezh proper. There, they encountered overwhelming resistance by the Deathless Ones, the immortal warriors who had defended the city during the Mongol attack and now guarded the Source. Though Trinity managed to reach the Source, Lara Croft succeeded in the destroying it. With the artifact they had been charged with protecting gone, the Remnants began to venture into the outside world for the first time, signalling the final end of Kitezh and the Prophet's following.