Most of Everness is dominated by the Nexuses, powerful trading companies that employ thousands of people across the continent. Sevren Hydar is an employee of the Lilac Nexus, although he has been stealing from them for nearly a year and a half after they slashed trade moving in and out of his village.
On the distant island of Marotria, where the most dedicated pilgrims of the Changing Tides travel for enlightenment, Ellan hides a shameful secret: he is completely unable to engage in Projection, the elementary form of the far more advanced magic he is told he must master for the good of Everness. The teachings cannot be circumvented, however, so he is nonetheless sent on a mission to assassinate the New King of Rytn’sar, whose face hasn’t been seen since his coronation a year and a half ago. Without Projection on his side, Ellan begrudgingly begins to recruit allies all over Everness.
This story is gritty, adventurous, and dark.
Sevren walked over to the torch stand, pulled a cigar from his pocket, and stuck it inside the smoldering embers. As he moved, the dock shifted heavily again and Aetin stumbled, sending weary glances at the dark waters around him. Sevren chuckled darkly as he pulled from his newly ignited cigar and returned to his previous spot, making a point to step in a way that would upset their footing once more.
Aetin glared at him, but quickly regained his composure. “There are reports of unrest in Rytn’sar.”
“Really?” Sevren said indifferently, exhaling smoke in the man’s direction.
“Brewing insurrection, according to my sources.” When Sevren didn’t answer, he added, “Against His Majesty. They’ve taken a whole village just south of Jinsad.”
“And? What do we care of ‘Sarian politics? It’s a new king every week over there.”
“We care,” Aetin said pointedly, “because a large shipment from here fell prey to the rebels just under a week ago. The third in the last month.”
Sevren said nothing.
“Eight thousand marks of lost merchandise and a great loss of profit,” Aetin went on. “This is bad for business.”
“I can send additional workers with upcoming shipments, starting tomorrow if I can cobble some up.”
“Well, you see, Nexon, there are reports that these thefts are not… complete accidents.”
His eyes, still obviously pale despite the darkness, bored into his. Sevren’s mind worked in overdrive as he drew in another breath, then exhaled, his face hardening.
“What are you accusing me of?” he said at last.
“Gross negligence, at the very least. But one report even claims your crews are sympathizing with the rebels, and letting them steal from the shipments before they actually reach Jinsad.”
“I can assure you that my workers are only looking to get their pay and that I am not hiring incompetents. That story sounds like a load of ‘Sarian gossip.”
“Careful, Nexon. ‘Sarian gossip can be highly informative.”
“Sure, one in a hundred remarks might be true intel, but it makes far more sense that this report is only meant to slander you, me, Undercove, and the Lilac. This is some conniving noble looking for a reason to cut us off.” He could tell his idea was creeping into the other man’s mind. “Hey, I promise to look into it, and I guarantee that I will fire any and all rebel sympathizers I come across. The Lilac has no business meddling in political affairs.”
One of the greatest lies ever told, Sevren thought to himself.
“Indeed,” Aetin agreed. “The High Nexon runs a reputable organization.”
“That he does.”
The gray-haired man stared at him in silence for another few moments. “Mm. At any rate. Good evening, Nexon.”
Aetin scurried off, clearly eager to get back onto the more stable raised platforms that comprised the ‘streets’ of the village. Sevren exhaled audibly when the man was out of earshot and paced over to the edge of the dock, pulling once more on his half-finished cigar before tossing it in the water, where it landed with a barely audible hiss. After another moment of staring at the gleaming reflection of the moon on the dark waters, Sevren turned and began walking back towards his home.