Chapter 80 The World Reacts to the Fall of Vallis

Arc 8: Defoliation

“Goodmorning, today we break bread over something truly horrendous. We sit stunned by the atrocities committed to the metropolis Vallis just hours earlier. A broadcast taken late last night was sent to every major news network on the Sister continent, recorded by the party responsible for all but genociding the entire city-state The news comes months after a similar conquest took place in Ophir, by the same party who call themselves Villain Throne, the leader of which is named Deo. We have left the scenes of violence uncensored as DialNews is the boldest channel bringing you daily updates on the world’s most pressing events, today however, we are reporting something dire. We have the full, unedited clips streaming all day and night. Our top reporting specialist has come back from vacation early to narrate the slaughter. Yiuri, walk us through what we’re witnessing in these horrific displays of human cruelty.”

“Yes, horrific certainly fits this scenario. By recording these videos, the leader is sending a clear message, that he declares war on humanity.”

“How would you describe the videos?”

“Ritualistic. The cannibalism, the dancing and fires are symbols that denote a festival. And what happens in a festival is the consuming of lavish foods around a bonfire with dances and music and a great sense of community. In this festival, it is the human that is being eaten, forced to spin and jump like some sort of beast. Deo is making it known that he looks down on humans, that we are cattle to him. It is an unfortunate but common trend among tyrants. It means they are willing to do whatever they can to achieve power.”

“Should any other city-state be worried by Deo’s actions?”

“Oh yes, very much so. What Deo is saying beyond the disrespect for human life is that he is confident and only beginning his empire. He understands the backlash he might receive on a geo-political level and the potential for alliances to be formed in order to dispatch him. You could even say he is counting on some unification and retaliation. He is provoking the city-states to better gauge their reactions and next moves.”

“And you can deduce all this from the nature of the videos?”

“That’s right! What’s more is the fact that there is, we are understanding, some eight million alive in Vallis left. That’s down from eighty million according to the city’s latest census taken three years ago. The gore you are watching is coming after a month and a half long siege. Travel is restricted and communications have been severed so there is little we can go off of concerning the current state of Vallis this morning.”

“The aftermath for the survivors must be unreal.”

“One can only hope that the Villain Throne will be dealt with swiftly… Oh but notice this scene right here. As you may already know, Deo, their self proclaimed leader, has the ability to raise the dead and command them. We haven’t figured out all the details but that much seems to be true. Watch this scene as these people are set on fire and given the chance to run to the rivers. The torture being performed is a crime against humanity. Humans are being chased, pulled apart and eaten alive.”

“And this is all an act to draw attention, you think?”

“Mhmm, it is. There was none of this in Ophir, though our technicians found a broadcast from Deo after he razed Ophir in an unused footage file.”

“Might have that first video been vital in preparing for a siege , had it been taken more seriously from the beginning?”

“You know the saying, hindsight is twenty-twenty. No one could have predicted Deo would be such a force to be reckoned with and certainly an all out assault on Vallis, one of the most peaceful of the city-states, providing food and textiles to the rest of the continent.”

“But Vallis becomes the logical choice after learning his motivations.”

“Yes and Vallis has suffered greatly. Deo, it appears, wants nothing but chaos and destruction. Vallis is a proving grounds, if you will, for him to experiment, broadcast and establish who he is to the world.”

“And the world will respond.”

“Oh yes it will. Deo is public enemy number one right now. Responses from various governments around the world have spoken out their anger and vowing revenge. Those on the Brother continent offer their condolences and sympathy as they face their own mysterious series of destructions.”

“Might Deo and the Brother continent mystery be related?”

“I do not think so. Whatever is destroying the metropoli is not leaving a trace. Deo is actively showing the world his intentions.”

“Has there been any signs of mobilization from the neighboring city-states of Vallis?”

“So far it is too early to tell. Unfortunately preparing an army to assault Deo may take some time. The latest report from Aceldama says that Deo’s undead army numbers upward into the hundred million. Apparently any partially intact human remains can be turned into the undead.”

“That is chilling news.”

“Indeed it is. The city-states have been in place and built over previous cities for thousands of years, meaning older civilizations that have buried and mummified their dead can be added to Deo’s army.”

“Conservation and historical groups must be at odds deciding whether it is worth destroying all these ancient burials as insurance against Deo.”

“I imagine so. As the morning continues and the news breaks, people from all sorts of phases of society must stop to consider the past night’s events. On one hand destroying our historical past is like admitting defeat to this enemy. Yet if Vallis fell so quickly, action may have to be taken preemptively. We will have to wait and see, though I am guessing it will be down to a governmental and military decision.”

“Well it certainly is a wake up call for the Sister continent. Thank you for the debriefing. We will be discussing more of Deo’s conquest later today, but first we’ve been promising an exclusive live interview with none other than the successful revolutionary of Eleavear, Lazulie. He is a busy man and is kind enough to offer an hour of his time for DialNews, who has long been following the revolution. Stay tuned for Lennath Stone who will be hosting Lazulie just after this commercial break.”

Live Comments – Active Users 370,000+

Noooo!!!

This is sick.

Huddled with my family crying.

They should not be allowed to show this.

DialNews always shows gore, people should know this by now. It’s called sensationalism

It’s not sensationalism, it’s actual things happening in the world. 

How did this happen? Someone that powerful should have been on the registry??

I had fucking relatives in Vallis!!

CHATBOT – Comment flagged for inappropriate language – view comment anyways

I had some in Ophir. This guy needs to be stopped.

Yea, good luck trying to get the city-states to mobilize a joint operation again.

The sister continents biggest concern should be Garghent, not this random warmonger.

Don’t hate on Garghent because we are the best

CHATBOT – Comment reported for harassment/spam – view comment anyways

The Coalition of the Sister was a setup BY Garghent, they are getting ready for a power play.

Yawn. Tired of hearing this conspiracy. They amassed the largest army in modern history and got whooped bad. Garghent’s military is unparalleled. 

Garghent’s military is unparalleled because they raise children to be soldiers.

How did neglecting a real military work for Vallis? Everyone hates on Garghent until someone like Deo comes along.

So we can all agree Garghent, who is the most able to stop Deo, is going to do nothing.

Gotta exploit the other metropolises while they deal with this crisis themselves. F*cking hypocrites.

Still can’t believe Vallis got conquered like that. There goes the best potatoes.

This is why the world is screwed, people like you care more about food than the millions that lost their lives.

Hey man, I’ve got a family to feed and don’t want crappy food. Nothing wrong with that.

Still, I feel like it’s insensitive. 

I’m not the one who killed them dumbass

CHATBOT – Comment flagged for inappropriate language – view comment anyways

Starvation might actually become a problem. Vallis was a huge producer and distributor, without their massive manufacturing exports we could see prices of everything skyrocket.

Assuming the new leader of Vallis doesn’t start the farms again. There could be huge profits for him.

Did you see the videos? I don’t think he’s into farming and not like he has to feed his army.

I just think it’s an opportunity for him to take advantage of. Control the food markets and jack up the prices. People will be forced to buy or go hungry.

I get where you are coming from, but I think he’s just going to let them go hungry.

Hmm I agree that Deo would be smarter to rebuild the farms and factories. If he doesn’t open trade networks, people will find an alternative to survive. If he opens agriculture trade, people won’t look for alternatives and therefore makes them less prepared for when he does cut off trade. The guy is obviously a genius and his options are practically unlimited.

Yeah he needs to be stopped. I’ve seen some leaked footage of the siege by security cameras that survived and he’s got some friggin crazy Specters, most of them unregistered.

Can I get a link to those?

I’ll post it later, they keep getting taken down. The Registry probably wants exclusive screening.

Both continents facing some serious threats, just hope my city stays safe.

Stocking up on survival gear and canned food. My cousin warned me years ago to start preparing, should’ve listened then. 

Holy shit I moved out of Vallis in the winter.

CHABOT – Comment flagged for inappropriate language – view comment anyways

They show human sacrifice in full HD but you can’t curse on their stupid live chat. what the f.

Lol what is with these doomsday preppers. If you’re so worried just move out of your city

And leave behind careers, friends, society? Don’t be daft.

Won’t have that regardless if the world’s ending..

I’m just watching for the interview. Something like this happens all the time. It’s a change of power, read a history book my goodness people. 

Name someone from history who razed a city and genocided most of its population.

Recently there was king Eberon which everyone seems to forget. Not fifty years ago did he start a war that killed upwards of a hundred fifty million people.

There is a fundamental difference between a military excursion and a genocidal megalomaniac.

Some excursion, that was full scale war. Don’t split hairs. Not like this Deo has killed 100% of any population.

Are you seriously defending him? 

Ah yes I am automatically a sympathizer whilst you take the moral high ground. If you have a problem then do something about it. Everyone in the comments is panicking and dreading the future and possible wars. If you are so worried then train, get strong and awaken an Aspect and defend your city. Stop waiting for others who don’t have your best interest to help you. Do it yourself!

This mf acting like Aspects aren’t one in a million. This means out of the billion or so people in the world about a thousand have an Aspect. We’ll say two thousand just to be on the safe side for the unregistered.

Less than a billion now; Ophir, Vallis, Avalaes, Tul, Arandac. All gone in the last decade. 

I was reading some reports and it turns out Vallis lost millions to starvation and disease leading up to the final assault.

Deo needs to be assassinated, just saying.

Assassinating world leaders costs billions.

Why won’t the governments use their own assassins?

I worked in espionage for about twenty years and the most skilled spies and assassins were freelancers. Apparently this is true across the board. I guess it has to do with safety. The government will get paranoid of their assassins and one party always ends up dead.

Who needs to be paid to take out a tyrant? I would do that for free because the alternative is more genocide.

Assassins don’t do charity work wtf.

There is a new world leader and empire. He’s ambitious and willing to do what it takes. Plenty of other leaders do the same thing.

It’s Vallis’ own fault for neglecting their military, Ophir too for that matter. Those cities were practically begging to be conquered. It’s what happens when you try to run a metropolis through alternate governing styles. 

While it’s probably true that Ophir and Vallis were at the edge of a power struggle, I think people are more upset by the manner of how it happened. The videos are inhumane and meant to cause a reaction.

Should have seen the photos from the Siege of Garghent. War is war, man. Losers get tortured, mutilated, raped, everything. Nothing new.

CHATBOT – Comment is flagged for inappropriate language – view comment anyways

Just because it’s nothing new doesn’t mean it’s acceptable, hence why war crimes exist. There is a line that can be crossed. Deo crossed it a hundred times over just in the videos.

Still no response from other cities. Governments are too scared to make a move. Slight the wrong city and you’ll be wiped out. A lot depends on Garghent’s reaction.

I hear their Janiform is meeting with the Generals and Gentlemans to decide something big. Deo is probably going to come up in their meeting.

My guess is Garghent stays on the sideline for this one. Why weaken themselves fighting Deo when other cities can expose themselves trying that?

Garghent could anticipate Deo’s power scaling up with every conquest and want to take him out soon.

That would be the most likely scenario I think. If Garghent is the one to defeat Deo, they could claim Ophir and Vallis, rebuild them and with Daedal under their control, they’ll pretty much own half the Sister continent right there. 

I guess this is going to be the golden age for Garghent. 

Damn and I thought the Brother continent was screwed up.

CHATBOT – Comment flagged for inappropriate language – view comment anyways

ERROR  LOADING COMMENTS…

“And we are back, thanks for staying tuned. As promised, the DialNews hour long exclusive live interview of Lazulie hosted by Lenneth Stone.”

Lenneth Stone gestured to his guest. “Have a seat, Mr. Lazulie.”

“Thank you.” Lazulie reclined into the chair and sipped from a glass of water. 

“Let me start by acknowledging how incredible it is that you are even sitting here across from me. A truly remarkable accomplishment.”

Lazulie’s river blue eyes stretched thin under a forced smile. “I am honored to be on your show. Of all the interviewers I have watched, you are the most experienced and conscious of who you are speaking to and sensitive to the subject at hand.”

Lenneth was a sixty year old veteran of interviews, having spoken with some of the most famous musicians, businessmen, world leaders, even Specters. Lenneth Stone was not always the choice candidate for interviews because he was opinionated, passionate, intelligent and well researched. Most interviews are designed to do nothing but promote the guest and their agenda. Lenneth never sold out or shilled for anyone, though the networks made his career suffer, he remained true to his principles and built a following from viewers over decades. DialNews managed to hire him for this interview because of who the guest is, and because the guest would not likely speak to anyone but Lenneth.

There was a mutual level of respect the two had for each other in their individual fields, though this did not mean they agreed or liked one another.

Lenneth twirled his white and grey mustache, something he’d never shaved off for the duration of his entire life.

“I appreciate the compliment.” Lenneth replied in his iron voice, forged from half a century of speaking with the right pitch and tone to be understood and listened to enjoyably. His unique and gruff voice was part practiced and part aged so that in its current state he spoke no other way, the vocal cords changing and healing over worn out tissue.

“Well let’s start from the beginning.” Lenneth fired the first question. “You were a university student of psychology and sociology, working on your thesis when you began to question the authority around you, correct?”

Lazulie nodded slowly. “That is fair to say.”

“How significant an event was the banning of your published thesis to your overall plans or ideology of revolution?”

“By that time I knew what I was going to do. The thesis was not for my benefit, but for those who would join my revolution or wished to start their own wherever they may be. They are blueprints on how to be successful at controlling crowds, free availability is important and it should be studied carefully.”

“The paper is no longer banned. Eleavear is flourishing under my guidance.” Lazulie’s voice was gentle, but edged with sharpened silver.

“Well let me stop you there,” Lenneth interrupted. “You say guidance like you aren’t the leader of Eleavear’s government.”

“I do not rule land. No one does. At best we can be one with land. As a metropolis, the entire populace contributes to decision making. The governmental body is nothing more than a medium for the people to distinguish their needs, wants and frustrations. Eleavear started as an oligarchy and me and my followers pushed for an anarcho-syndicate to oppose the authority, revolted and have since shifted to a community managed government after our successful coup.”

“Now I am old schooled in thought and lifestyle, I suppose you can say. As someone who follows closely to your work and beliefs, you know not as a fan or supporter but as a man of intellect and philosophy. What about changing governments is so important to a well run city? I would imagine stability is the foundation for any dynasty.”

Lazulie leaned forward in his chair. “The very idea of a dynasty is flawed. It is the incestuous nature of the dynasty that never tries to change which ultimately leads to its downfall. Static governments are dynastic in nature.”

“People are opposed to change.” Lenneth rebutted.

“That is false. People are opposed to inconvenience. There is a scale of what people can be complacent toward and what they are fed up with. That is what inspires the greatest change. A governmental system that understands this need to evolve will thrive indefinitely until it grows complacent which breeds decadency.”

“Then answer me this, how do you avoid decadence when it is the law of a civilization to entropy as time moves on.”

“While I use terms to generalize information and get across points of complexity, the truth is humans are not equations. Studying psychology will reveal that the brain has too many factors, especially the individuation factor, to be reduced to numbers and lines. Now take a society, a metropolis. Viewed from a high distance the city’s nucleus, the veins and pathways resemble an amorphic brain. In reality, what we call culture is really a living, organic super-being. It is an organism made of individuals. The greatest lie in culture is the lie that an individual does not contribute to its community.”

Lenneth cleared his throat. “I’ve heard you talk about this before in writings and speeches. I find it very fascinating. Human organizations are essentially cell clusters on a larger scale. Each person specializes in a task or process and from there the whole system forms in supra and sub cultures, divided by various… what would you call it, careers, jobs, social constructs?”

Lazulie nodded and sipped more water.

Lenneth kept the conversation alive. “So what is your contribution to the community? As a guide, what is your role in this newly revolutionized Eleavear of yours?”

“I am both teacher and student. I am a citizen like every other.”

“Teacher I can understand. What do you mean by student?” Lenneth asked, pulling on the hair of his mustache.

“We should all remain as students. That is growth. The moment you stop bettering yourself, physically, intellectually, personably. That is the antithesis of life. I am constantly learning new things, from experts, professors, anyone more experienced and knowledgeable than me. For example, I have been learning circuitry.”

“Circuitry?”

“Do you know how the camera that records you works? Do you understand what goes into a livestream such as this one?”

Lenneth shrugged. “Can I turn on a camera? Sure. Can I upload a broadcast? Sure. Do I understand how the motherboard interacts with the rest of the computer parts? No, not in the sense that I could build one from scratch. I understand the usefulness of broadening one’s horizons so to speak, but my line of work does not require me to learn the inner workings of a camera. I focus on other subjects, such as learning about my guests.”

“It is important to know things, an ontological study of epistemology. That is my philosophy. It turns out learning circuitry is vital in grasping the complex mycorrhizal relationships of fungi and plant life. Because of these networks we have completely revitalized our agriculture and expanded the functionality of the mushroom farms.”

“And for those who are unfamiliar with Eleavear, they are the foremost producer of mushroom and fungal technology in the world.”

“Now that research and productivity is increasing at an exponential rate.”

“Let me ask this then, what is the secret? We can sit here talking philosophy but what is it the Eleavear your revolution is doing that is so much better than the previous Eleavear?”

“That is a fair question, though I think you’ll retain your skepticism. To you and the viewers, and most of the world for that matter, Eleavear is some social experiment to be watched or read on the weekends late after work. The fetishizing of another city’s plight goes hand in hand with the  bystander effect. You observe us like a circus for entertainment. But to answer your question, we blend professions. Carpenters will work with chemists, doctors work with grocers, mechanics work with biologists. The fresh perspective and exchanging of ideas and worlds has compounding effects on quality, style and morale. People are enjoying their work and together we are building Eleavear into an advanced metropolis.”

Lenneth was a prideful man and Lazulie could tell that what he said irked the old interviewer. “I don’t want to argue with your take on the whole bystander thing, so I will move the discussion to the rapidity of your success following two long years of revolution. How did you manage to go from nothing to overthrowing your sovereign rulers?”

“That’s just it. I didn’t have nothing. At my disposal was the knowledge of the greatest minds of our species, we all have that. What I built was inspired by generals of antiquity, poets of romanticism, inventors of wonders. I am a student before I am a revolutionary. The system suppressing the people of Eleavear met a foe unwilling to bow before their nepotism. Inciting interest groups and my peers spread like wildfire the ideas of revolt. Without the spoken words of change, no one imagines it. The word must exist before the idea can take hold in the mind.”

Lazulie represented the best, most honest qualities of humans. Someone born to lead and humble enough to decline power. On the surface, that is. Deeper under the fleshy parts of the body lay a terrible force intolerant to mediocrity and tyranny. Lazulie had, after all, publicly executed the entire highest chain of command in Eleavear upon successfully leading the rebellion from scratch.

“For the last few minutes of your time, we decided to try something where viewers submitted questions weeks in advance by mail with their own questions for you. So I’ve got them here.” Lenneth pulled out a stack of envelopes.

“Sounds good.” Lazulie said.

“Okay, let me just open this first question here, the letter is from…” Lenneth turned red. “Ah, I apologize. This first question is a prank of some sort.” Lenneth folded the paper and set it aside. Lenneth pulled out another letter and read it again. The old man clenched his jaw trying to hide his irritation. He quickly sifted through a bunch of letters, self conscious of the growing silence. Always a bad sign in an interview.

“It appears whoever sorted through these thought it would be funny to change them from our real questions. I can’t apologize enough.”

Lazulie waved his hand. “It is no issue, really. I am curious, Lenneth, what do the letters say?”

“Take a look for yourself.” Lenneth slid one letter across the table to Lazulie who stopped it from falling.

Lazulie remained motionless. “We can talk about this. I think there are fewer subjects more relevant in the consciousness of the Sister continent right now.”

“If it is okay with you then yes, we’ll proceed.” Lenneth gave a cursory ‘ahem’ and with throat cleared again, read the letter. “Will you join me? Signed, Deo.”

Lazulie smiled coldly, looked directly into a camera, “no.” his gaze returned to the host.

“You have made up your mind already?” Lenneth asked.

“Naturally. I am assuming one of your technicians has defected to the new master of Vallis.”

Lenneth gave a very exasperated, “yes, seems that way.”

“What are your thoughts on Deo, now that we have arrived at that subject.”

“I believe Deo has the power of a Master but the mentality of a child. I do not mean this in a condescending way, but psychology describes various stages of life. Child, adult, elder, one school of thought purports. The child is someone idealistic and enthralled by the outside world. Think of a child’s wonderment of new things. They like to explore, to test people, to get reactions out and draw attention to themselves. The child enjoys burning ants with magnifying glasses and tearing open living and nonliving things to see what’s inside. You follow? Deo happens to be self aware enough to accept that the child offers the most creativity, the archetype that is bound by nothing, not even consequences. He holds on to the child because he has weaponized it.”

“I understand your analysis, but do you think saying those things, knowing that he is likely watching this program as we speak, might anger him into a full scale attack on you and your Eleavear?”

“He will not attempt anything in the near future. He sees me as an equal, I imagine. His dream right now is that I will join him and help conquer the Sister. What I will now say is this. Deo, you may come to Eleavear but you will never be welcome. You cannot beat me. Eleavear’s stance toward Deo is war, should he approach my border.”

“You have a confidence that I will not underestimate.” Lenneth commended. “For someone without an Aspect, with an army a fraction of the amount and a newly revolutionized city, I believe your words as if I said them myself.”

“I have no need for an Aspect. To me they are obscene, not for some humanitarian or moral reason, but rather I think they are the easy way out. People manifest their own complacency into an ability instead of overcoming their weaknesses. I think Deo is the most complacent of them all.”

“Never heard it argued like that before. You are an interesting man, though I already knew that going into this.”

“Well, I appreciate the talk, thank you for having me.”

“Yes, this has been most enlightening. Thank you for joining me. You are a busy man so I will send you off now, farewell Lazulie of Eleavear.”

The television shut off.

Hales tossed the remote at the screen. “Stupid.” She blinked and realized the damage she’d done to the whole wall. Apparently she’d launched a planet with the remote when she threw it.

“Doesn’t matter. It’s just fools in that box. Nobody understands Deo.” Hales didn’t quite know why she was so mad. She was allowed to hate Deo, but not these other people. He wasn’t theirs to denigrate.

‘Oh, oh, so all of a sudden now you want to be on Deo’s side, now that everyone wants him dead.’

No, she always wanted to be on his side, he just left at a bad time.

‘You’re defending her when she wants to do something idiotic?’

You can feel sympathetic to someone even if they chose a different path! Obviously she knows she can’t leave Garghent.

‘Does she?’ Somehow I don’t buy it.’

Trust me, if anyone wants Deo dead, it’s her.

“Shut up!” Hales screamed.

She needed to vent, a lot. 

Hales’ spiraling galaxy eyes filled with plasma tears that burned her cheek on the way down.