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  • Andrew M. Trauger

The Nephreqin

Prior to the Wars of Attrition, very few knew of the Nephreqin. Rumors were vague and sketchy, and most were limited to historians of the ancient Kedethian Empire. They told of a splinter group of Kedethians who migrated further eastward, seeking a more profound and thorough devotion to the Kedethian Decree. These "radicals" eventually sailed into the Cobalt Expanse, never to be heard from again.

During the Wars, as Kedeth battled Lothania over a decade, merging and dividing countries multiple times, the Nephreqin emerged. Strong, decisive, cunning, and lethal. Kings died in their sleep, nations toppled, and others suddenly gained their freedom. From their first appearance to the treaty signing that ended the conflicts, less than a year had transpired and every nation of Arelatha was on alert. In a series of brilliant strokes, nation no longer fought each other but imploded with successive reports of infiltration and subterfuge.

It's been over a dozen years since the end of the Wars, but still little is known about the Nephreqin. Rumors now speak of an "All-Father" who directs all affairs, but nothing is known of his location, lineage, or personal attributes. It is now known that they settled an island well off the coast called the Janwyn Chersonese, a forbidding place frequently enshrouded by fog when not buffeted by oceanic storms. For most people who encounter the Nephreqin--a visit none soon forget--the agent is revealed as a former trusted friend, teacher, government official, or soldier. This agent, often cloaked in red at the moment of his outing, displays a flurry of abilities and talents never hinted at, making him a years-long traitor.

Agents are always male, but recently a swarm of shadow-walking women called the Skaen Sisters, have made their deadly presences known, instilling a fresh wave of fear upon the land. All of these activities are coordinated regionally by someone known only as "The Watcher," a man--we think--who operates from a position of supreme secrecy.

Whatever else they intend to do, it is clear the Nephreqin exist for nothing short of complete control of Arelatha, with the subjugation of all peoples. Or extermination. Either is acceptable. Lamentably, these plans are backed by the same theories that have backed the Kedethian Empire for countless ages, driving a sharp wedge between them and their ancestral kin.

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