Five cities, like agitated siblings, marred the lush plains of the lower Jordan in the southern regions of the land of Canaan. The cities of Admah and Zeboiim, two twin brothers competing for recognition, but always falling short of their bigger brother and sister. Sodom, the eldest, and Gomorrah, the sister city in a continual angst for supremacy of the northern plains. Their constant bickering fell to the background only when they formed a reluctant alliance to defeat outside threats or throw off the shackles of Edamite rule. And finally, tiny Bela, an afterthought, maybe a mistake, clung to the edge of the plain where the mountain cliffs encroached. It boasted of no great stories and its king only simpered in the shadow of King Bera of Sodom.
Sodom welcomed travellers the way a scorpion greets a tarantula. The city was large, nearly six miles across an irregular circle. A ramshackle wooden fence of warped planks and twisted logs wrapped around edges of the city like the coils of a great serpent. A great southern gate and a smaller western gate provided access for carts coming to the central market. An eastern gate catered to foot traffic accessing the eastern slopes to collect wild fruits or to hunt the meaty hyrax or mountain hare. Some hunters would brave the wrath of the Moabites and climb the steppe to the great Moab plain for ostrich, mountain gazelle, or oryx. The scorpions, guards in dun colored robes armed with spears, manned all the gates.
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