Exologue One: Executors

Deep within the black halls of the Citadel, things were in constant flux. It had been weeks since the end of the Great War, but peace brought little solace. Sovereigns and Imperials alike worked tirelessly to ensure the new era proved as undisruptive as possible. But two mystics—two elders—went above and beyond. Rather than shuffle pieces around, they were intent on changing the entire game.

Lords Kelric and Syrosk stood shoulder to shoulder in front of a round table, eyes glued to the numerous documents that littered the flat surface. Whilst the outlander continued to wear his usual dark robes, his pale fellow opted to shed his outer layer, baring his vest and rolled-up sleeves. And yet, no matter how intense the thoughts running through their heads might have been, they looked practically slothful compared to the Imperials that bustled around them. Mundane men and women clad in the usual semi-formal grays continued to pour in and out of the room, bringing with them stacks of boxes and unassembled furniture to occupy the otherwise barren office. Neither too cramped nor expansive, the dozen or so Imperials still found less and less room to move around in as various cabinets, desks, and equipment fought for floorspace.

"After spending so much time amongst Sovereigns, it's almost a treat to see a group of motivated Imperials," Syrosk rasped, momentarily shifting his gaze away from the papers atop the conference table.

Kelric took a moment to study his subordinates as well, a slight curl forming on his lips. "They are quite something, aren't they? Though they seem to be slacking a bit. Had the Nat-Cit office set up in under thirty minutes."

"The Nat-Cit office was composed of little more than paperboard to make it look presentable," Syrosk muttered, returning his focus to the myriad of documents. "I trust this will be treated as a true base of operations, yes?"

"But of course," Kelric replied, lowering his gaze right alongside the black Lord. "So, what do you think?"

"Hard to judge when I still don't know what exactly we'll be doing," Syrosk admitted. Nestled amongst the walls of text were a selection of dossiers, governmental profiles each detailing a very particular kind of Sovereign.

Kelric offered a light chuckle. "Do you know the definition of 'Economics', Syrosk?"

The other mystic arched his brow. "Managing resources... production... distribution..."

"Managing one's household," Kelric corrected. "And my house is the entirety of the Dominion. Mine is the Ministry that fills in the cracks, every nook and cranny that exists between the rest of the Magisterium. Indeed, that includes the production and transportation of goods, but my authority reaches far beyond such mundane matters. Thus, with this group, we will be doing anything and everything necessary to ensure the great machine that is the empire continues to run smoothly without a war to... grease the wheels."

"Does this group even have a name yet?" Syrosk asked.

"But of course. It is to take the name of the very organization I've modeled it after." Kelric paused. "How familiar are you with the Altyr's history pre-Dominion?"

"Not very."

"Well, before our Emperor assassinated each head of state within the span of twenty-five hours, there were five great Empires," Kelric explained. "Faelen. Ornus. Hossat. Kendora. And, of course, Altyr, the greatest of them all. When we merged to form the Imperial Dominion, it was Altyr that informed much of the culture we as a people hold dear to this day. And yet, one thing did not... could not survive the transition, despite the fact that much of Altyr's success can be attributed to them. A group of mystics, one that for all their similarities to our Order could not be properly integrated. The Executors."

"Can't say I'm familiar with them," Syrosk admitted.

"They were the personal agents of the Altyrian Emperor, tasked with doing whatever necessary to see his will realized. They were agents of both stability and change. Peacekeepers and peacemakers. Mystics that were given a task and then expected to deliver results. I would like to see something similar, a group of Sovereigns that directly serve the empire rather than the self."

"Even though they'll be serving you," Syrosk bluntly stated.

Another light chuckle from Kelric. "Oh, I've no interest in getting personally involved. After everything is set up, the Executors will report to their handlers and administrators. And you, I suppose."

Syrosk shot his fellow a raised eyebrow. "You really think people will be okay with an outlander heading such an organization?"

"I didn't take you for a man who cared for such thoughts."

"Alone, I can endure any vitriol sent my way. I just worry it could disrupt what we hope to accomplish. I've no intention of ever working from the shadows again, but..."

As Syrosk trailed off, Kelric's grin returned in full force.

"Let the bigots rave and riot. We'll be far too busy producing results to even notice," said the pureblood.

A subtle bobbing of his head, the black Lord was instilled with a newfound confidence. "So, what is to be my role in all this?"

"Leadership. Insight. I want you to be the foundation upon which the Executors stand. You hold the Dominion's best interests in your heart, so I've no doubt you can properly motivate Imperials and Sovereigns alike." Again, Kelric paused. "But... I'd also like you to closely oversee a particular batch of recruits."

Syrosk let out a chortle of his own. "You're giving me a new set of apprentices?"

"No, not quite. There is a time and place for hierarchies and traditions. This isn't one of them. We are asking those we bring in to abandon their previous ranks and titles. They'll be Executors. Not apprentices. Not Lords. Not Archons."

"No Archons," Syrosk declared. "They'll destabilize the whole thing with power plays and prideful endeavors. If I'm to go along with this, I need to be sure it won't devolve into the same chaos I've witnessed the past several decades."

Kelric nodded. "Very well, no Archons. Not that I had any in mind. Our ideal recruits will be young Sovereigns who lost their masters in the war. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Wayward mystics whose talents would be otherwise wasted."

Syrosk leaned forward, taking a closer look at the three dossiers in front of him. "What's so special about this trio?"

"I believe them to possess unrealized potential. Potential that might never see the light of day without proper guidance."

"Guidance you think I can provide," Syrosk suggested.

"Correct," replied Kelric. "I'd very much like the Executors to work in teams, rather than be the singular agents they were centuries ago. And with the results you produced with your former apprentices, I want to see what you can do with these three."

"A trio is quite a different dynamic," Syrosk admitted. "If one falters, it could drag down the other two. There's a chance all three won't even be compatible."

"I did not simply pluck three profiles at random," Kelric offered with a chuckle. "If you can get these people to work together, I daresay you'll have a force quite unlike any other. A force that can be directed toward bettering the empire."

"Very well. But so long as we're suggesting trios, I've a few Sovereigns I'd like to bring in," Syrosk admitted.

"Some of Bradic's former associates?"

A nod from Syrosk. "Since I was technically responsible for his downfall, I feel I should at least offer his subordinates some work. The less bigoted ones, at least."

"Very well," Kelric replied. The pair fell silent, even as the surrounding chamber was filled with the noise of moving Imperials. "And what of Bradic's apprentice? I don't suppose he's tried to contact you."

"No, he hasn't," Syrosk muttered, a touch somber. "When he said he was walking away, I guess he truly meant it."

"A shame, really. I know he was practically marked for death, but I feel he would have been quite the asset to bring in. I could have at least tried to protect him as he worked off his master's debts."

"The man seems quite keen on taking the entirety of that burden himself." Syrosk drew and released a deep breath, straightening out his posture before shooting the Magister a sidewards glance. "Doran was a good Sovereign, better than most. And now he's doomed to spend the rest of his life paying for the mistakes of his master." A pause. "Know that after the Academy, I truly have no patience for hidden agendas. If this is some game, some ploy... if I found out that this is all one big lie, I will not hesitate to kill you."

Kelric's lips curled into a coy smirk. "I see you haven't lost your spirit. Good. You're going to need it."

Syrosk's story continues in... 'Sovereign: Dominion'.