Alarath squatted on the sidewalk and observed the new world he'd found himself in. The first thing that struck him about the city was how many people seemed to be living in it. Though it was night, there seemed to be more people on this street than you’d find during midday in the Daeva capital. And all were dressed in outfits colorful enough to match those of the Daeva kings. The textiles of this land seemed to come in an endless variety. What shocked him more was how clean they all were. There was no dirt smeared on their faces. Their hair was well groomed. Few wore torn clothing.
Three people passed by in another of the loud, self-propelled carriages. They had puzzled him when he first saw them on the streets. Without horses to draw them, he assumed they moved with magic. But as he’d studied them more, he’d begun to suspect something else. Behind the gate of a building labeled “Dave’s Mechanics and Auto Repair”, he’d found several of the carriages caged, their shells open. The guts inside reminded him of something he’d seen years ago, in the war against the Broken Lords. Perhaps these people had learned to harness a similar power? But he’d seen no signs of the infestation that came with the embrace of the God. Strange. When he had the opportunity, he would to take apart one of these carriages to learn its secrets.
Few people seemed concerned as they passed him on the street. They most likely confused him for one of the worn-looking beggars that seemed to be everywhere. An insult he could ignore for now.
A man in a dark blue, unwrinkled outfit approached and stood next to Alarath. He smiled down at him. “Enjoying the view?”
Alarath eyed the man. He was tall, skinny, and gave the impression of a person who had never been in a true fight. His hair was silver and ghostlike in its thinness. On his neck was a tattoo of a slit-pupiled eye.
“Are you the one who brought me here?” said Alarath.
“I am but a lowly messenger,” said the man. He bowed deeply. Before he could rise back up, Alarath snatched his collar and pulled him in close. He pressed his dagger to the man’s throat. In the corner of his eye, he saw a pedestrian jump back. Someone nearby screamed.
“Then perhaps I should send a message.”
The stranger seemed unconcerned by the blade. “Wouldn’t you prefer to receive one first?”
“Speak quickly. While you still can.”
A man grabbed Alarath’s shoulder. “Hey man, what the hell do you think you’re-” he cut off as Alarath’s elbow smashed against his jaw. He fell to the ground, clutching his bloody mouth.
The stranger nodded appreciatively. “Excellent. That’s the kind of aggression you’ll need if you want to bring back the Daeva.”
Alarath’s grip on the knife tightened. “What did you say?”
“You don’t think a civilization like this could exist as long as your people were still around, do you?” He gestured to the buildings around. “Your empire has been extinct for thousands of years. Wiped out for getting too casual with powers they didn’t understand.”
“Impossible. The Daeva empire will reign eternal. It was foretold.”
“Well, I doubt any of the people here would agree with you. I bet none of them even know what the Daeva were.”
Alarath looked at the crowd that had gathered around them. Such passive, fearful faces. They looked like human cattle, too dumb to react or take any sort of initiative that hadn’t been thrust upon them. Such people would never have been found in his city. They died too easily.
“And how do you expect me to bring back a civilization that’s thousands of years dead?”
“First I hope that you’ll release me. Then, we’ll need to find a certain book…”