(Chpt. 0) The City of Heaven
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Hey everyone! This has been a long time coming! The rewrite of the famous, infamous dungeon core story that wasn't a dungeon core, the story that was supposed to be cute yet turned into grimdark, the story that won the first anniversary competition in ScribbleHub! Alright, it's just a joke — I doubt anyone actually remembers the story LOL — This is a rewrite I wanted to do after rereading the original work, this is what it should've been originally. No pandering to the readers, just pure dark fantasy, a climb out of a hell-hole. 

This has some inspiration from Salvos and Kumo desu ga, nani ka? Though at the end of the day it could be said to be fully original aside from a little bit of concept inspiration! Ah, this is chapter 0, though could be considered a mini-prologue! Not super relevant.

Special thanks to night0w1. 

Without saying much more. Welcome to:

Escalation Protocol


Waiting was a sickly pleasure. 

The new cycle. That waiting time was true exhilaration in his dreaded life of repetitiveness. The dullness of his day by day was truly getting to him. But a new cycle was always a pleasure. With great effort, and consideration, a cycle began every year or two. And every single one in his long life was a highlight. Whether it was the fireworks that came, the disasters, the blessings, or the enemies. Everything was welcome. 

So many interesting ones. Every single cycle came with different things, many little joys that drove him to strive harder towards his single goal. He owed it to someone. Peacefulness. A place where everything was deathly quiet⁠— Arlesh, the city of heaven. Or so that was his aim; to rise himself and his city to one that was a heaven for anyone.  

A place devoid of violence, devoid of human emotions, devoid of conflict. A perfect society. One that was named after him and carried his legacy. In his own room, everything was controlled, the lavish carpet and ebony desk were nothing more than pleasant eye-candy in his mind. 

Arlesh sighed. Fiddling with a sphere on his hands, it was ghastly white and reflected the lights on the ceiling with a flicker of rainbow in its surface. “The cycle begins anew,” He deeply spoke, putting the sphere into his pocket. “And with it, a potential threat, harvest, or blessing.” 

He looked at the window in the dead of night. His deep scarlet eyes followed a shadow in the distance, he combed his hair with his hand and smiled. It was all going well, the development plan of the city was progressing better than ever thanks to the talks with the neighboring region. Buildings rose in the darkness thanks to the workers. Though, he felt conflicted. 

“There are just too many variables, first the crimson desert’s bitch…” He paused gritting his teeth. “And the new challenger that has arrived.” A dangerous person had made way into his city, one that was too volatile for his liking. And then, there was something else that had caught his attention the very same day. 

“People really don’t want this place to flourish, the city's undercurrents have shifted. The escalation protocol…” His deathly pale hand grabbed the sphere again, feeling the mana coursing within its crystalline body. “Will you be a curse and a blessing? Oh, I wonder. Fate is hard to break.” 

He turned to look at his desk and at the papers with the reports. It was time to send his guards over, and see how this cycle had turned out. 

A curse, a disaster, or a blessing for his town. He couldn’t wait to know. In the end, the outcome was meaningless. Arlesh would triumph in the face of adversity, just like always. Closing his eyes, he played with the mana stone in his pocket. 

Now was the time to wait for things to unfurl...