Kallias Jeridar

A close descendent of Mallion, a god of chaos, Kallias can change any metal substance into gold. This ability empowered him to take the throne at a young age when his father died.

Unfortunately, Kallias’s useful ability is now an obsession. No matter how much gold Kallias acquires, he wants more. Since he took the throne, Darzia has become the wealthiest nation in the world, but drained of important natural resources.

Kallias Sketch

Story excerpt
(bonus content set before the visual novel)

A wiry young man sat alone in large room of stone next to a table piled with gold. He was sixteen years old, and the bejeweled crown upon his head had been so recently placed that his mop of short, candy yellow hair still struggled to hold it upright.

Kallias tapped his fingers upon the table, causing the gold coins on top of it to jingle incessantly. He didn’t mind the sound. In fact, he found it reassuring, and he needed all the reassurance he could get right now. He liked every physical indication of the gold piled in front of him, especially the bright golden glow it cast throughout the dull room of stone, or the sparkles that ignited where beams of sunlight from the window struck the coins directly. He formed a rhythm with the tapping of his fingers and the jingle of the coins, then started to hum a little melody with it.

When the door of his room opened, the melody died in Kallias’s throat with a whimper. His fingers stopped tapping and his body stiffened like a block of stone. His big amber eyes stared at the swinging entrance until the pupils widened into gaping black holes. He watched and waited, his tense body unable to move except to tremble, as a dark figure slipped through the opening.

The man before Kallias was tall and slender, and he seemed to move more gracefully than his own shadow. A long hooded cloak hung from his shoulders, covering most of his body in undulating swaths of black fabric. His soft leather boots barely whispered as he walked across the stones, and as his cloak billowed around him like wings unfolding, Kallias wondered if the stranger secretly flew. Then, just as quietly, he came to a stop in the middle of the room. His hands reached up—two appendages of pale, skeletal white flesh against the dark clothing—and grabbed the edge of his hood.

Kallias struggled to keep breathing as he watched the hood fall back. The shadows retreated to reveal a long, gaunt face with an ashy white complexion. Most startling against his pale skin was his deep black hair which flowed past his shoulders, and eye sockets so dark that Kallias suspected the use of powder to accentuate their sunken appearance. Little emphasis needed to be added to such eyes, however, the irises of which peered forward with sizzling red brilliance.

Just as Kallias began to wonder if he would ever overcome his awe in time to welcome his guest, the Wolven flinched and recoiled, reaching up to cover his eyes.

“Belazar’s blazes,” hissed the stranger. The god of wrath’s name, when spoken aloud, sent chills down Kallias’s body. “That gold is going to blind me.”

“Oh… you don’t like gold?” Kallias’s heart fell to his stomach. Goldons were his only leverage with a man like this. If the Wolven did not want them…

“I like goldons well enough,” grumbled the assassin. “But I prefer them in storage.”

“Ah, yes, of course.” At long last, Kallias found the strength to rise from his seat. He rushed to a window and grabbed the curtains, yanking them across the aperture. Darkness poured over the gold, extinguishing the lustrous glow from the room. Kallias sighed at the loss. But when he saw the Wolven relax, he decided the gesture had been worth it.

“So… you’re Xavier?” asked Kallias at last. “A Wolven assassin?”

The Wolven answered with a nod, so small it was almost imperceptible. But then he tilted his head and narrowed his red eyes at Kallias. “And you’re the new king?”

Kallias puffed up a little, feeling a surge of pride feed his confidence. In this Wolven’s presence, he had almost forgotten his own authority. When he lifted his head, the weight of his golden crown seemed to increase. “Obviously.”

Xavier should have bowed before him—but he did not. “How old are you?”

Kallias’s chest deflated again. “Sixteen.”

“I thought monarchs had to be seventeen years of age in this country.”

“Usually, yes. But Father’s death…” His throat constricted and his breath faltered. Then he planted his fists on his hips, glowering with all the strength of his thin golden eyes. “No matter. I am special enough to be an exception. One way or another I am the king, and you are in no place to question that.”

Xavier grew very still. Then the edges of his thin lips pulled up with a smirk. “You’re very brave to summon me in this fashion, with no guards to protect you. You must want me to kill someone quite important, yes?”

Kallias forced a swallow down his throat. “I don’t need you to kill anyone… at present.”

The Wolven’s smile quickly turned downward. His red eyes narrowed until Kallias thought he felt heat emanating from them. He moved forward ever so slightly, just one foot shifting while his body started to lean, yet Kallias fought the urge to turn and flee the room. “Then why am I here?”

“To… to… establish our friendship.”

Xavier’s eyes blinked and opened wide again. He drew back and studied the young king in silence for a short while. At long last he said, “Friendship?” and his tongue seemed to struggle with the word.

“Naturally.” Kallias didn’t know whether to feel better or worse about the fact he had caught the Wolven off guard. “I understand who and what you are. I know that you’ve killed monarchs before. I know that for the right price, you’ll kill anyone. And though most people around here are happy with me on the throne because I keep the treasury overrunning, I suspect there are those who might tire of me anyway, or become so greedy they want the throne regardless.”

Xavier’s face contorted, and then he began to chuckle. A genuine smile looked strange on the Wolven’s face, as if his muscles were not accustomed to moving in such directions.

“What’s so funny?” asked Kallias, purely curious.

“Only a Jeridar would be so greedy, and you’re the only left in Castle Krondolee. Isn’t that so?”

The words struck Kallias like a bucket of icy water. He bristled and turned away, hoping to hide his pain and discomfort.

He could still feel Xavier’s hot red eyes crawling over him. “I’ve upset you. I didn’t expect to. I thought Jeridars liked being on their own. Less competition that way.”

Kallias remained silent, his heart a frustrating lump in his chest that ached with every beat.

After another long silence, Xavier sighed. “Just tell me what you what you want from me. I didn’t mean to… prattle on. I haven’t talked this much in awhile, so I’m out of practice. Let’s just get to business.”

For one small moment, Kallias sensed something in Xavier that he had not expected from a Wolven, either. Something that no one else might have noticed, but Kallias saw it as pure as golden daylight, for he knew the emotion all too well. Loneliness.

The revelation finally gave Kallias the strength to straighten back up and look at the Wolven once more. This time, Xavier was the one who avoided his gaze. “Right: business. I summoned you here to give you this gold.”

The Wolven shifted uncomfortably. “Payment to a Wolven should only be given upon a job’s completion. And if you don’t want anyone dead, you have nothing to pay me for, anyway. My services are quite… limited.”

“I understand that. This gold is to ensure my own safety. If anyone else tries to hire you to kill me, then you can refuse them, because I’ve already paid you more. And if by Mallion’s miracles they can pay you more than I’m offering now—then I’ll pay you the difference.”

Xavier did not move or speak for a while. Kallias tried to read the Wolven’s face, but failed. Perhaps the Wolven himself did not know how to feel about this.

“I can’t accept it,” said Xavier at last. “It is not the Wolven way.”

Panic fluttered through Kallias’s stomach. “But… but… it seems like it should be. If someone can pay you for death, shouldn’t someone also be able to pay you for life?”

Once again Xavier blinked and stared at the king with wide open eyes. Then even his mouth started to gape open. “I… that’s…”

Seeing the Wolven so taken aback made Kallias hopeful. “Perhaps I can pay you to make an oath to Belazar? One ensuring my safety?”

Xavier bristled. His face twisted, his lips pulling back into a snarl. “Out of the question. Belazar barters in blood, and blood only.”

Kallias considered this. He reached up and twiddled his fingers against his chin as his mind raced for a solution. “Ah, I have it!” he cried out, face beaming with a smile. “I’ll hire you with this money to kill anyone who ever asks you to kill me.”

Xavier’s scowl dissipated. His red eyes flicked from Kallias, to the money, and back to Kallias again. Finally, a smile wound back up his face. “Now that… I can work with.”



Serafina Elborn

Serafina has grown up in a harsh jungle full of ferocious predators and crafty prey. She knows little of the world outside the jungle, and her only human contact has been with Arken, whom she looks to as a father.

But by the age of seventeen, Serafina’s desire to explore the world outside the jungle grows daily. And eventually, her curiosity may get the better of her…

Serafina Sketch

Story excerpt
(bonus content)

Serafina watched her prey through a tangle of leaves and forced her body to petrify. Her toes pushed against the thin leather fabric of her boots and dug into the soil, like a tree planting roots. Her breath softened until it matched the flow of the breeze weaving a melody around hundreds of tree branches. The muscles of her limbs tightened like ropes pulling taut. Her fingers clenched around her spear, but she refused to let the wooden shaft tremble until the moment came to throw it. Her green eyes glittered as they focused on her target, and the rest of the world melted into darkness.

A furry capybara munched on the leaves of a grenzo bush beneath a single beam of sunlight. Grenzo plants provided a rich source of nutrition in the Darzian jungle, but larger herbivores usually dominated the areas in which it grew. Grenzo bushes needed a great deal of sunlight to survive, and under the the thick jungle canopy such illumination was scarce. To find a grenzo bush unprotected like this one must have been a dream come true to the little capybara. Thus as it ate to its heart content, forgetting its surroundings, the scenario provided Serafina a rare opportunity, as well.

Serafina had been hunting all day without success—until now. She had wandered further from home than she usually dared, so far that she did not know the layout of the jungle beyond this point.


Normally she would continue to scout the area before initiating a hunt, ensuring that she would not be surprised by a larger predator or trip unknowingly into a grove of poisonous pollies. But this lone capybara provided an opportunity too prosperous to ignore. Capybaras, which looked like over-sized rats, were far from her top choice of meats, but they were also clever and quick and she rarely laid eyes on one for more than a few seconds before it vanished from sight. She would not squander this chance to obtain one for dinner.

She felt the moment approaching, like a rhythm building towards a grand crescendo. Perhaps she got a little too excited, for she lifted her spear and shifted slightly. Then the capybara looked up.

A moment of stillness, as Serafina held her breath and the capybara strained its tiny little ears for other signs of danger. But its hunger trumped its fear, for at last it plunged its head back into the grenzo bush.

Serafina sprang. Her body launched upward, and all the coiled muscles of her body released their dormant strength into the shaft of her spear. The metal tip sliced the air faster than the eye could follow, flying wingless towards the vulnerable flesh of the little capybara…

…only to sink into empty soil.

Serafina blinked a few times, unbelieving. The capybara was gone, except for a faint brown blur on the edge of her vision. Somehow, it had reacted quickly enough to escape the bite of her weapon. The little wily bastard! Rage rushed through her, forcing her hands to clench until her nails stabbed her palms. She should have speared it. She had done everything right. Her stomach ached with hunger, and she wanted to appease it with that pesky little rodent!

At last she rushed forward to retrieve her spear, and she should have stopped there. She should have accepted defeat and begun the search for another source of sustenance. But her rage pushed her onward. And before she paused to consider the consequences, she raced after the capybara.


The capybara could scramble through tight tangles of vines and twigs in order to escape Serafina, so she needed to use her size to her advantage. Her legs pumped upwards and her hands slapped the gritty bark of a chinder tree. The forest floor shrank beneath her as she scrambled up the tree trunk. Her eyes scanned the maze of branches stretching skyward until she found a path forward. Then she climbed into the labyrinth.

Soon she soared above the forest floor from one branch to the next, her hands extending, gripping, and releasing in perfect harmony with the jumping of her feet. Leaves and twigs whipped her body as she sped through the intricate network of foliage, slicing her skin and drawing out tiny beads of blood. But she ignored every lash of pain, every ache of her muscles as she landed on one branch and pounced for another, as she fought to keep her balance and never lose momentum, and while her eyes searched tirelessly for tiny brown blur of the capybara far below.

She had already passed the point of no return, for she had broken the most important rule of surviving in the jungle: never rush into unknown territory. She did not know this part of the forest. She had no idea where she was going. She might not even know how to get back to where she started.

She had already placed herself in grave danger. So she might as well keep going.

Her state of mind had lost all equilibrium. The world started to brighten, as if a flood of light was pouring into the forest. She did not pay much attention. The strange vision could very well be a result of her panic, manifesting in the sensation that the shadows of the jungle faded into a white oblivion representing the unknown.

But the intensity of light surrounding Serafina was no trick of her subconscious. It was reality; a result of the fact that the canopy was thinning, that the trees spread out and left wider gaps between them, and that eventually she could no longer jump from branch to branch but had to jump back down into soil.

She kept running through the sparse trees, but she did not see the capybara. She saw nothing but a bright light ahead of her, growing brighter and brighter, like a huge tide of golden air pouring into the forest. Then reached the edge of the shadow, where nothing but light lay ahead of her.

She skidded to a stop, shook her head, and waited for her eyes to adjust.

Thousands of tall, skinny blades of yellow grass leaned into the wind. A vast blue sky stretched to infinity above and before her. So much light, so much open space… she felt like the emptiness would drown her. The breeze struck her body, an unusual sensation, sending tingles across her skin and dozens of new scents into her nose.

She had reached the edge of the jungle—which she must never leave—and stared for the first time into the great world beyond.

She struggled to breathe. Fear flowed through her limbs. Papa said that the world beyond the jungle was a terrible place, rife with evil humans and mind-bending illusions. The world beyond encompassed a human hive of greed, debauchery, and cruelty. The jungle consisted of physical danger, but the world beyond would poison her mind beyond repair.

She saw something moving in the grass. She took another step forward.

Then she saw a young man.


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