THE ARENA PERILOUS is a massive, mutable colosseum built above the Temple of the Coalescent. One, several, or all of The 9 Progenitors designed the Arena at some point in Khora’s forgotten past.

Eventually the Arena became sentient. Khoric scholars don’t know if this was the intent of the 9, but the Arena’s proximity to The Coalescent created a “pairing” of the two structures, and now the Arena changes its landscape according to The Coalescent’s desires. One theory claims that the 9 themselves are responsible for any modern changes in the Arena, specifically the Warrior, who watches every contest and alters the landscape to ensure fair play.

Other theories concerning the Arena are speculative, at best: that the Arena drinks the blood of any Khoric wounded within its walls; that the Politician manipulates the space to gain insight into all players; that the Inventor created the energy-sphere for unknown (but nefarious) reasons.

“I began not so much as a tourist in the city of Khora but as a cosmic stowaway: no less Khoric in appearance than many of its citizens but ignorant of their customs. My first visit to Khora saw me wandering in stupefied awe at the sky-piercing towers and glaciers of metal and glass whose shadows covered countless streets. I visited taverns and laboratories, stadiums for sport, theaters of government; I saw legions of automatons, swarms of mechanical devices constantly at work. Construction of a building that would take years in our world took mere minutes in Khora, and then, just as quickly, these swarms would deconstruct whatever they had built, leaving a space soon filled with vines of alarming vitality.

“Above it all stood the Arena Perilous, a structure of such size that it took me weeks to circumnavigate. During my journey I spoke with men, women, and persons of uncertain genders and creeds who bore no accents and yet somehow knew English, French, Spanish, Urdu, Swahili—all the languages I am proficient in. Of my world they seemed to know everything, of their world I knew nothing. I cannot say any of them were happy, nor were they content. Nor did they display passions as you and I understand them. But sorrow and anger were equally absent, replaced with a sort of stoic, abiding innocence.”

Codex Eternicus, “The Traveler Arrives”