I have heard of your reputation from the past and would like to challenge you.
Arena or first strike?
You may have both if you so wish. I will find you in your arena.
I have taken the initiative and chosen the dead city of Vitri.
I apologize for my long silence.
The stars were falling.
It seemed that every night, the sky was filled with falling stars over the Frelante, the accursed land. The lonely inhabitants of the desolate country looked up at the turbulent heavens, and wondered if the world was about to come to an end, as it had in the terrible legends passed down through generations. The monsters of the land behaved differently, hunting in packs and destroying whole wandering tribes. Stories from the survivors made their way into Vitri, varying in detail and length, but all carrying one commonality: dark beings with weapons of death.
Vitri was the only city the Nerim had built. The rest of their cities were thousands of years old, and no more than featureless rubble marked by ruined structures. After the Cataclysm so many years ago, when their entire continent had been razed and the land burnt into its hellish state, the Nerim had survived in tribes, preyed upon by the free-ranging monsters and living off what they could forage from the desolation. Only relatively recently had a band of tribes pacified a patch between two polluted rivers, and over generations erected Vitri, the city of black concrete walls. From this city, the new Kings of the Nerim had ruled over a part of the plains of the Frelante, slowly rebuilding their technology and power to its former glory. The rise of the city aggravated the inter-tribal warfare, driving smaller tribes out of their ancestral lands. Some became so desperate that they braved the Deathlands that surrounded the Frelante into the outside world, where they were never heard of again.
The king of Vitri believed that his kingdom was safe from whatever new kind of monster terrorized the primitive tribes outside; nevertheless, he ordered the wall garrison increased. (But could anything really bring down the high concrete walls that extended like blunt teeth into the sky, with black towers rising from them that blotted out the falling stars?)
A star fell.
Tribesmen on the plains felt afraid, but could not see the source of their fear among the cracked hills of the Frelante. Monsters stopped tracking their fleeing prey and howled into the stillness.
The highest tower on the concrete wall was no longer garrisoned by the city guards. For this reason, the king’s daughter found it the perfect hiding place when her governess was trying to punish her for not studying or playing tricks on her brother. She smiled as she stopped hearing the angry yells from far away, and saw the falling star. She made a wish: that she would never be caught by her governess. To her surprise, the star became brighter and larger as it came nearer, then landed on the roof. A soft rustling reached her ears for a moment, then silence. Yawning, she went to sleep in an old, red cloak, ignorant of the wish that was about to come true in a way she had not imagined.
From high above, a Nerim guardsman surveyed the empty plains. He fluttered the small wings on his back as he pondered the old legend of the Cataclysm. So many mysteries were unsolved…better to think of more enjoyable things, like the recent wholesale massacre of a trespassing tribe last moonrise. He was startled out of his reverie by a flaming apparition in the middle of the city.
“Accursed sinners, who once dared to challenge the divine will, you have again trespassed into the realms from which you were forbidden. Judgment is to be passed upon your soulless vessels. I will return you to the chaos from which you were formed.”
The guard only thought that he should have been given some sort of warning before his body exploded.
The houses in Vitri were made of the same black concrete as the walls. They were stacked on top of each other, in levels and terraces, to form mounds that resembled those of the plain ants, only more square and blocky, like lumps of salt. Their inhabitants were aroused from their slumber by crashing sounds around them, as boiling lumps of concrete fell around their homes. They ran out of their houses, searching for escape, only to be slain immediately by the divine bolts of the Angels of Execution. Some of those who survived long enough wondered how the city could be under attack when the walls still stood. Others raced down to the gates, only to find them locked, and themselves trapped in an inferno of death of destruction. Adults and children, male and female, the elderly and the newborn, all perished in the merciless extermination conducted by the agents of heaven. The walls were finally cast down, and those who remained rushed to the gaps, only to find their deaths in the mouths of the ravenous monsters of the wild desolation outside.
The lead Angel of Execution surveyed the price the Nerim of Vitri had paid for the crime they had committed against the world by their cursed existence. Vague memories filled his mind, but he suppressed them, knowing that he had gotten his revenge. A subordinate Angel reported the status of the mission to him, and he ordered the withdrawal of the Angel Host. When the subordinate Angel requested to know why their leader was staying, Akxatar replied: “The judgment we brought upon these wretches will have been noticed by one of our lost. I will stay to confront her.”
He crouched alone on the roof of the former king’s residence, surveying the monsters as they roamed the empty, lifeless streets of Vitri, and waiting for his destiny to unfold.