Preface: This is the second story set in the 'Sovereign' book series, and a sequel to Sovereign: Ascension. However, it it follows a predominantly new cast and can be safely read as its own stand-alone story. Taking place on the world of Atheris, it is a fantasy setting characterized by more 'functional' magics, dogmatic organizations, social stratification, and personal identity. This particular story is set in what is known as the 'Imperial Era', a period analogous to the real-world's early 20th century. More information about the setting of this and other stories can be found on my profile. Feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

(Content Warning: May contain violent or romantic content. While other mature themes may be present, the material presented should not stray far beyond a T or PG-13 rating)


Prologue

No matter the age or era, magic reigned supreme upon the world's stage. An arcane energy, a gift from the gods, a manifestation of raw power and potential, every soul knew of magic even if they hadn't the privilege of its succulent taste. With its bounty, humanity moved out from under the oppressive foot of beasts and set about conquering the world they stood upon. Civilizations rose that would stand the test of time. Orders gathered mystic ideologues that would shape and bind the limitless arcane. Society advanced, often despite itself. And for the past millennia, the continent of Ardonia presented itself as the supreme paragon of both progress and conflict, the two often brought about hand in hand.

From this land came the Templars, mystic knights with neither lords nor lands of their own, defenders sworn only to discipline and duty.

From this land came the Sovereigns, dark exiles who sought an understanding of all magics, no matter how dangerous or profane.

From this land came the Federation, born of free nations united by a common foe, standing side by side with their Templar allies.

From this land came the Dominion, a seething nation born of an eternal monarch, supported by the might of the Sovereign Order.

And thus, two major powers took center stage. A federation allied with noble independents and an empire ruled by unchained mystics. A free people defended by honorable knights and a nation dominated by amoral supremacists. Two sides, soon to be trapped in the throes of a great war. Whilst the Dominion spread its influence, conquering lands through force or personality, the Federation turned a blind eye to the militant empire's advances. At least, until one of its own came under attack. The final target of its sweep across northern Ardonia, the Dominion invaded the nation of Esheron, beginning the greatest conflict the world had ever seen.

But no matter how much some wished it, the war could not last forever. After fifty-five long years, just as a lull began to overtake the sparring nations, the Dominion sought to strike at the heart of its foes. And with but one decisive battle, they attained absolute victory. Thus began the new era. A Modern Era. An Imperial Era. Ardonia was now of two equal parts. North and south. Dominion and Federation. And it fell to all parties to adapt.

Despite its substantial winnings, the Dominion was in no position to rest on its accomplishments. Disorder persisted, inside and outside its borders, even without a war to propagate it. Even the Sovereign Order, populated by paragons of power, individuality, and supremacy, had not escaped unscathed. Many a mystic perished in the final hours of the Great War, forming many a broken link in the chains of command that connected the lowliest warriors to the highest of rulers.

Beings that once stood above all else found themselves decidedly sunken. Without a war to grant them identity or purpose, once indomitable figures found themselves lost in the new era. But Sovereigns had always been and forever will be the Dominion's greatest resource. And with a surplus of free talent available, one man saw an opportunity.

Thus, the Executors were born.

The brainchild of Lord Kelric, member of the Magisterium and one of the ten most influential Sovereigns to populate the Order, the Executors were to be a force capable of swiftly dealing with whatever threats might seek to disrupt the new era of peace. Vengeful Templars. Warmongering Sovereigns. Anyone and everyone that dared to defy the Emperor's will. With the aid of a battle-tested veteran and outcast, Kelric set out to forge a governmental organization unlike any that preceded it, seeking wayward mystics to fundamental change what it meant to be a Sovereign in service of the Dominion. Sovereigns without a superior to take orders from. Without a war to earn a living wage. Without any purpose at all. But with the foundations still being put in place, Kelric could not afford to begin widespread recruitment, not before the Executors had established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Thus, the Magister sought a very specific group of individuals. A trio of misfits believed to possess untapped potential. A trio capable of changing the Dominion, if not the world.

But the Magister had an entire Ministry to preside over. He could ill afford to devote all of his time to the Executors, no matter his personal investment. Thus, it fell to his subordinate and ally, the mysterious Executor Zero to work in his stead, overseeing the organization and personally taking Kelric's trio under his wing. Having already propelled multiple acolytes to greatness, he seemed like the perfect man to see Kelric's dreams through to fruition. But things were rarely so simple. Needing to convince a trio of headstrong individualists to work together, to uncover an untapped potential he's not sure even exists with them, Executor Zero's had been given a monumental task. One made all the more impossible by a world that seemed to insist on challenging him every step of the way.

But to be a Sovereign was to embrace challenge. Thus, with everything in place, Executor Zero went to work. Of course, his and Kelric's plan hinged on convincing the trio to join them in the first place.