The Dasos Arena hadn’t been used in a very long time. Everything was overgrown and straggly, filled with a mixture of dead honey-oak trees and decaying fir trees, their roots mingling in the stagnant mud. It had always been designed as an arena filled with trees, but as fads came and went, the Raptor had decided that it was too difficult to host battles in the large, dense forest of an arena.
But now it was coming back into commission. Sort of. Nothing had been done to repair the amphitheatre-like seating areas. Little had been done to fix the lighting. The whole arena was dark and eerie and utterly horrible. It would have been eerily silent as well, if the sound of the Dessaron Battle Arena announcers weren’t echoing in the distance. The arena had been repurposed for a brand new type of arena battle, and the announcers and commentators were buzzing like crazy.
“This is scary…” Claudia, an energetic Cassid who had always wanted to take part in an event, whispered as she tiptoed through this dark forest. Normally, DBA Challengers had their own equipment, but today’s set of challengers had been given just a handful of weapons. Mostly pointy things. A knife here. A spear there. Worst, the rest of their weaponry and armour had been scattered around the arena for them to find.
“Eh, could be scarier…” Vernard, a teenage Vrekan, had been following Claudia for a while. They’d bumped into each other at the start of this event. None of them knew who they were up against. Their PHAM devices, special mechanical belts and bands that essentially gave them health meters, only ever seemed to light up when they were near other Challengers. The lighting up meant that they were allies and that they weren’t to harm each other. Their actual health values were a mystery.
“Yeah. There could be a murderer on the loose in here. We’re being filmed. We’re not going to die.”
Claudia straightened herself up and trotted onwards, feeling better. “You’re right. We’ll just battle whatever we’re up against a-”
A hideous screech echoed through the trees directly ahead of the Cassid and the Vrekan. Claudia jumped out of her skin, Vernard was visibly shaking despite his attempts to remain calm. Once he had finally regained his composure, Vernard drew his knife and stepped forward, pushing his way between two trees.
Lying on the ground was a Rethan, their body covered in mud.
“Uh, Claudia?” Vernard whispered as he inched closer. “How many Challengers are there today?”
“Eight…” Claudia followed Vernard, peering over his shoulder with her long, slender neck. “Uh, seven now…”
Suddenly, a band on the Rethan’s neck lit up. Their PHAM device activated, teleporting the Rethan out of the arena and most likely to the recovery rooms. Vernard tutted, feeling annoyed at himself for falling for the gore effects built into the PHAM system.
“So what are we fighting?” Claudia asked. “What could have done that? That wasn’t any of the markings of a normal House Fighter! That looked like… a wild animal! Something just smashing the poor blighter into the ground!” The more Claudia theorized about what happened the more anxious she became.
While she rambled on, Vernard decided to take a cautious look around, keeping his small blade by his side.
“Or maybe, maybe it’s like in those horror movies, and you can only see the monster if you’re scared. Which I’m not, I should point out! I’m totally not scared! Just a bit anxious! What do you think, Vernard?”
Claudia turned around. Vernard wasn’t there. She turned back and screamed, as the Vrekan was dangling in front of her.
“WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE!” Claudia immediately twisted round and tried to run, but something was pulling at her tail. She took a step backwards, only to find that something had snared around her leg.
The cause appeared out of the gloom, standing tall and proud. It was a Cassid, but its face was concealed by a horrible, bloodied yet blank mask.
Screams echoed across the Dasos Arena, before abruptly being silenced.
“And Iasonas has caught all eight, folks!” the announcers shouted with glee. “Who is this mysterious Iasonas? Find out next time in the next episode of Thursday the Fifteenth!”