A Traveller’s Guide: Keverynn (Guest Post from Melissa Stone)
Hiya! Welcome to another “Traveller’s Guide”!
“A Traveller’s Guide…” is a fun little project where authors introduce us to their realms, worlds, and hidden places. There will be times where I (or a certain goblin) will guide you around parts of Venari, but there will also be times (like today!) when another author will pop in and take us on a little adventure.
In this edition, author Melissa Stone will be introducing us to Ashrinn Chimekin and the world of Keverynn as part of the Escapist Book Co’s tour for “Path of the Warrior”.
“Path of the Warrior” is the first book in Melissa Stone’s Keverynn series, a sci-fantasy trilogy.
About “Path of the Warrior”:
Ashrinn Chimekin is a Fugitive Recovery Agent tasked with helping the crew of the Shrike in their pursuit of the rogue Cult of Atraxia. When something goes horribly wrong during an infiltration attempt on the cult’s compound, Ashrinn and the crew find themselves on a strange, new world. Worse yet, the cultists made their way to this new world as well.
Told that the capture of the cultists will lead them back home, the simple task becomes much harder when Ashrinn and the crew discover the cultists have allied themselves with the Darkriders, people who will stop at nothing to gain total control over their world. And making matters worse, the cultists have gained mysterious, dangerous magic powers.
Ashrinn forges alliances with the Dragonlords, the force in opposition to the Darkriders, in hopes of stopping both the cultists and the Darkriders once and for all. As she fights, she finds herself getting closer to uncovering the mystery behind the black sword that appears when she’s in dire need – and if it will affect her desire to return home.
Asharos scowled and planted his fists against his hips. He tapped his toes against the smooth metal flooring. “Find him! He can’t have gone far, not in his condition.” His followers saluted, their hands forming the sign of the goddess, and scattered to carry out his instructions.
He sighed and smoothed his pale features in an attempt to look unconcerned. He scanned the room, passing over each of his maesters until his eyes landed on Aenek. “Did he say anything to you? Anything at all?”
The only way to tell the twins apart these days was their health. Both men sported shaggy reddish–brown hair and blue eyes, but Aenek lacked the deep bruising and eczema brought on by Kenian’s illness. Aenek’s complexion appeared healthy and, in this case, looks weren’t deceptive. Why the illness presented in only one twin was a mystery. The cause of Rescher’s Syndrome was as yet unknown, so both the twins and their doctors remained in the dark.
“He told me the date of one of his appointments changed at the last minute and he had to leave,” Aenek said. “It happens sometimes with the specialists he sees. He should have been back by now.”
Asharos’s scowl deepened. “What are the chances he stayed overnight in Aren’march?” Aenek shook his head. “If he had, he would have sent word to keep me from worrying.” He paused. “Now that I think about it, he should have sent word that he arrived safely at his appointment.”
“You’re just now realising this?”
“Forgive me, High Priest.” Aenek cringed, taking an involuntary step back. “Shortly before he told me about the change, you’d invited me to participate in the Ritual of Colours, which is why I didn’t go with him.. I was so tired after that I forgot to check my messages.”
One of the women snorted, pushing a strand of her long, dark hair away from her face. “Some brother you are.”
“Leave off, Yakima,” Aenek snapped. “Asharos, I humbly request that you send a search party to look for Kenian. I’m worried he didn’t make it to Aren’march.”
Asharos folded his arms, tilting his head to one side. It was rare for Aenek to address him by name rather than title. They’d known each other long enough to give him the right to do so, a right he rarely exercised. The other maesters gave Aenek a sideways glance at his audacity. Their friendship was no secret, but both men avoided drawing attention to it, especially in front of lower ranking members. “Your request is reasonable, but you know what the plains are like. There’s a chance we may find nothing.”
Aenek bowed his head. “That’s a chance I’m willing to accept.”
“I’ll see to the arrangements. I suggest you retire to your room and pray to our merciful goddess that he still lives.”
“We all will,” a woman with short brown hair said, elbowing Yakima in the ribs.
Yakima scowled at her, but said nothing. Asharos waved his hand, dismissing his maesters. He wandered the sterile halls of the compound for a time, scowling at the unwavering artificial light. Even though he preached against the use of technology, he had to admit—if only to himself—that this compound wouldn’t have been possible to build or maintain without it. Generators to power it, air recyclers and water purifiers to keep them breathing and the water fresh.
He paused in front of the glass door of the hydroponics bay and watched while some of his followers harvested vegetables for the night’s meal. He prided himself on the compound’s near total self-reliance. From time to time, they required things they couldn’t make for themselves and so they—typically the lowest ranking members—had to brave the inherent dangers of Atharia’s cities.
Asharos inspected the facilities on each level before making his way to the lowest level. Sometimes he hated that his rooms were so far removed from the rest of the compound, but it had its perks. He paused at the bottom of the stairs and turned to look at the black double doors at the other end of the long hallway from his room. The mere sight of the temple doors calmed him. He took a deep, calming breath and went into his room, cringing as his hands touched the cold metal door.
He paused inside the doorway to activate the chime on his console before going to the thick, black carpet in the middle of his room and sitting cross-legged, eyes closed. The console pinged, dragging him away from his meditation. It took him a moment to reorient himself. The persistent chime annoyed him, but he’d set it that way on purpose. He got up to check the time and frowned.
The scouts have only been gone for a few hours. I doubt they’ve found him. He stretched, and left his room, walked up the long flight of stairs to the hangar level, nodding absently as the people working in the hangar bowed. He waited for the roof to finish retracting before speaking with the scouts.
“Goddess bless you, High Priest,” one of the scouts said, bowing at his approach.
“Her blessings to you as well,” Asharos returned. “What did you discover?”
“We regret to inform you that we could not locate Maester Kenian.”
Asharos nodded. “Did you find his speeder?”
“There was no sign of it.”
“I see.” He snapped his fingers in the general direction of one of the hangar workers. The nearest one approached and bowed. “See to the requisitioning of a replacement.”
The man bowed again and left.
“Sir, would you like us to pass the news on to Maester Aenek?” the scout continued.
“No, I’ll see to it myself. You’re dismissed.”
The scouts bowed again as he walked away. He stopped at a comm panel on the wall, sending a brief text message to his maesters, instructing them to meet him in the temple. He signed off and made his way to the bottom level of the complex. His followers bowed as he passed, but he paid them no mind. He had far more pressing concerns.
The black doors leading into the temple were open when he arrived. He nodded, expecting this, and entered. Unlike the rest of the compound—which had white plastered walls—the temple walls were covered in multicoloured tiles that formed intricate patterns. At the far end was an altar made from rough cut black stone. On top of the altar was a silver platter holding a severed hand. The sight didn’t faze him at all. He knew exactly whose hand it was and why it was still there. His maesters waited for him inside, seated on the wooden benches typically used by his other followers. They rose as he entered, bowing their heads as he strode past them. He nodded as he sat down in the throne–like chair at the far end, behind the black stone altar. He arranged his robes around him and smoothed his dark hair back.
He gazed at each of his maeters to gauge their mood. Dark-haired Yakima looked as though she was trying to hide how bored she was. Mikia, equally as dark-haired as Yakima sat with her back stiff, leaning slightly forward, eager to hear whatever he had to say. He knew she wasn’t as devout as she made herself look, but so far she was the most promising of his maesters so he let it be. The brunette—Ophalia—he knew to be the most fervent of the five—
Four, he corrected himself. I have four maesters. Even when Kenian was here, he barely counted as one of them.
He looked at Aenek, who had one hand over his tunic. Asharos knew he was fiddling with the necklace he wore. He had one half and Kenian had the other.
He swallowed, composing himself before speaking.
“Be seated.” As one, the maesters sat down. “The scouts have returned.”
Aenek leaned forward. “Was there any sign of my brother?”
“Well, there you have it,” Yakima said with a snort. “He’s become food for some lucky scavenger.”
“That’s my brother you’re talking about,” Aenek snapped.
“He’s a sweet boy, but I never quite liked him. No offence, Aenek,” Mikia said.
Aenek clenched his fists, biting back a retort. He took a deep breath before speaking again. “None taken. He didn’t exactly try to fit in around here. He was always a little odd, even before his diagnosis. I know none of you like him much. It’s ok. I don’t take it personally.”
Mikia frowned, looking as though she didn’t quite believe him. She held her tongue, twisting a strand of her dark hair around one finger.
“There’s a possibility you’re not considering,” Asharos said. Their eyes focused back on him. “His only logical destination was Aren’march. These speeders don’t have the range to get anywhere else before running out of fuel. Maintenance reports that no fuel canisters are missing, so wherever he went, he only had one tank. While the possibility exists that he perished out on the plain, it’s equally possible that he arrived safely at his destination.”
Ophalia frowned. “If that’s the case, why hasn’t he contacted Aenek?”
Asharos laced his fingers together. “I’ve been wondering about that myself since learning about this situation. I am of two minds. It’s possible that he arrived safely at his appointment, but succumbed to his illness shortly after.”
Aenek swallowed a lump in his throat. “The doctor doesn’t have accurate contact information for me, given who we are. Kenian uses a false name to keep us from being caught.”
“That’s the only smart thing he’s done,” Yakima commented.
“It’s usually not a problem as I go with him to his appointments,” Aenek continued, shooting a glare at Yakima. “Including this one, he’s only gone alone a handful of times.”
“It isn’t safe for the two of you to go together,” Ophalia pointed out. “There can’t be that many twins in your situation.”
“There aren’t. In every case of twins and Rescher’s Syndrome, both are sick. I don’t go into the clinic with him to avoid certain uncomfortable questions.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Of course not. Why would you? No one here cares about him except me.” Aenek balled his hands into fists. “Now he’s missing or dead and…”
“You said you had another thought, High Priest?” Mikia asked when Aenek didn’t continue.
“I dislike thinking this, but after hearing it, you may wish your brother were dead,” Asharos said, watching Aenek. “The Agency knows our names and faces. It’s possible that they apprehended him on his way to his appointment.”
“No…” Aenek stared at Asharos
“It’s not something I wish to consider, but as I said, the possibility exists. In that case, I fear for his continued health and safety.”
“He’s sick! They wouldn’t hurt him. Would they?”
“I don’t think they’d cause him harm, but they’ve been after us for so long now that I fear they’ve become… desperate. If they have him, they’ll do what they can to extract any useful information from him. What happens to him after that… well, who knows?”
Yakima turned her cold, dark eyes to Aenek. “Better that he’d died out on the plain.”
He shook his head. “For the first time, I agree with you.”
“We can’t take any chances,” Asharos continued. “I want the compound running on minimal power for the next senday. No one goes in or out.”
“We have people out on missions right now,” Mikia reminded him.
Asharos shrugged. “They’ll have to seek shelter elsewhere or take their chances in the desert.”
“They’ll die out there.”
“If the goddess wills them to live, they’ll find a way,” he reminded her.
She bowed her head. “Yes, High Priest.”
“What about the mission?” Ophalia asked.
“Continue preparing, but until we can confirm Kenian’s fate, no one is to leave the sanctuary without my permission.”
Yakima balled her hands into fists, gritting her teeth. “All the work we’ve put into it could be for nothing.”
“It can’t be helped,” Mikia said, shrugging. “I, for one, would rather miss this opportunity than take the risk and wind up in a holding cell.” The others mumbled their agreement.
“Stay calm. Remember your studies and prayers. The goddess will keep us safe.” He stood and raised his arms above his head. The others stood and mimicked the gesture.
“Abeatsu harinn tenyulann. Ya’tu jakrann hecterebaysu. Antaoru qurana tulann gentar Keverynn. Miisu bebadye yatsufurya. Da’enn koll vo’vure Atraxia,” they said, speaking as a group. One by one, they left the temple.
Got all that? Now, it’s time to take you to Keverynn…
Although I’m far from the best person to write a guide like this, given that I’ve only been here a few months, there’s a chance it’ll come in handy to anyone else who finds themselves stranded here like we were.
My name is Ashrinn Chimekin and I’m from Atharia, not Keverynn. I don’t know how far away my home is, but I’m guessing it’s pretty far. There’s a formation we call the Maia Nebula that can also be seen from Keverynn.
The first thing you need to understand about Keverynn is that it has three moons: red, blue, and grey. The locals say the big white one is silver, but it looks light grey to me.
The red moon—Ana-Leta—is the smallest and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it in the sky every day since we arrived. Logically, that’s not possible, but it may have been in its new phase on nights when I wasn’t looking at or paying attention to the sky.
We arrived at the beginning of summer, so we’ve mostly experienced warm weather with the occasional storm. Jiyandi, being a Swimmer, doesn’t handle heat well, so she was all too happy to come with me that time I went to talk to the nomads.
Geographically speaking, Keverynn looks and feels a lot like Atharia, but that’s to be expected. Worlds where humanoid life is found are often very similar to each other.
It’s unclear if the river I’ve seen dividing the continent on maps is actually a river or if what the locals think of as the mainland is really two different land masses that happen to be close together. In the latter case, are they drifting apart or coming together? At any rate, we lack the equipment to figure it out.
There are a few different races who call Keverynn home. The first people we met were the wolflings. They look a lot like humans, but they have long, pointed ears. I grew up hearing stories about people like them, so seeing one was something of a shock.
Next, we encountered the winged siathi. Again, they look mostly like humans. They’re taller than humans with wildly coloured hair and wings.
I’ve never seen a chume’taly for myself, but I’m told they look like cats. I don’t know what a cat is, so that information was less than helpful. After Drianna went down to Chume’vera, she told me that they kind of look like khortwû (a species of wild, predatory mammals), only bipedal.
Most of the people I’ve encountered so far are human, which strikes me as weird. How did they get here? Did they come from some other planet like we did? No one seems to know.
The biggest (pun intended) thing, though, is the dragons. Like wolflings, I thought them the stuff of stories. The reality of them is hard to grasp, even after having ridden on them several times.
I don’t want to, but if I’m going to mention dragons, I have to bring up the existence of their smaller, less kind counterparts. As of writing this, I haven’t seen many wyvern up close, but they’re hideous. Not even in a so ugly, it’s cute kind of way. They’re just ugly.
As I understand it, there are four different groups: Dragonlords, Darkriders, Nomads, and the siathi. You can find siathi pretty much anywhere, but their homeland of Salcreria is its own thing, separate from the others. They often ally themselves with the Dragonlords, but not always.
Dragonlord is both a title and a group designation, which can be confusing. The Dragonlord is the leader of their respective province and head of its army. Under their command are the dragonriders and other non-rider army personnel. I’m not entirely sure how the government works, but it looks like we’re going to be here a while, so I’ll probably figure it out at some point. At any rate, they’re the major power in the east.
The word Darkrider is used in a similar manner, denoting anyone with any kind of affiliation with the wyvern. They have almost complete control over the western half of the continent. I don’t know a lot about them, and most of what I do know is outdated or hearsay.
The Shrike’s crew is, at present, affiliated with both Salcreria and the Dragonlords in the war against the Darkriders. A war, I should point out, that the Darkriders started. The locals have taken to referring to it as the Fourth Darkrider Incursion.
The Nomads live in the far north. For the most part, they share borders with the Dragonlords, but two of their nations are on the western side of the continent where the Darkriders are. Despite this—and numerous attempts by the Darkriders to wipe them out—the Nomads tend to stay out of global affairs.
One of the perks of my job is travelling to strange and sometimes alien places in pursuit of our targets. That said, I’ve never seen anything quite like the siathi towers. I’m so used to the high-tech cities of Atharia that these simple yet elegant buildings take my breath away.
The couple towns I’ve been to feel more like what I’m used to, even if their level of tech is best described as basic. Having said that, it feels weird to describe a society that utilizes intelligent, flying lizards in aerial combat as basic.
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About the Author
Melissa Stone lives in Cut Knife, Saskatchewan with her husband, two kids, dog, and two cats. When she’s not writing she enjoys a variety of handicrafts, art, and working at the local library.
She writes primarily in the fantasy genre and currently has a few projects on the go. She’s self-published several novels to date, though none traditionally.
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