Narrate: The workshop of Amielle Latimer was the birthplace of the modern firearm, but today it’s a themed restaurant with nonfunctional weapons adorning the walls. The empty tables around you warp into workbenches lined with half-carved stocks, iron shavings, and well-sealed jars of firedust. Amielle sits, patiently cleaning a handcrafted pistol. She takes one look at the imperious outfit Kasvarina wears and shakes her head.
Amielle: (sweet and patronizing) I don’t do bulk orders—I’m a gunsmith, not a factory. If you need me to teach you which end the bullets come out of, knife-ear, that’s extra.
Narrate: Standing beside her, Nicodemus (now wearing the body of a younger man) bristles and starts to say something in Kasvarina’s defense, but the matriarch cooly beats him to the punch.
Kasvarina: Yes, a poor primal savage like me surely wouldn’t even understand why those weapons don’t work well in a humid Elfaivaran jungle. I’ll stick with my blade.
Amielle: (sputters) How—?
Nicodemus: (cutting in) Ms. Latimer, so good to finally meet you! I’ve heard much of your exploits in the Second Yerasol War. They say you’ve developed quite the killing tool. I’d wager that with the right sponsor, you truly could open a factory of your own… maybe several.
Amielle: Maybe… but a factory that makes guns would only be useful in times of war. I’ve had my fill of war.
Kasvarina: Does that simply mean you’re retired? Or that you’re sick of seeing people die?
Nic: If the latter, we may have a proposition for you.
Narrate: Amielle pauses, looking baffled at the both of them for a few moments before breaking out into laughter.
Amielle: Wait… you…? (snorts, laughs) Are you recruiting for the Mystics? Because I hear that you have to get set on fire to be initiated, and I have to say that might not work so well with me…!
Narrate: Nic and Kasvarina exchange smirks. Nic shakes his head.
Kasvarina: We’re recruiting for… an organization. One that seeks to bring Risur and Danor closer together. And that starts with showing Risur that Danoran technology isn’t just fire and devilry.
Nic: We want you to become a Risuri citizen, gain the king’s trust, show off the value of firegems and steam-power, and help to turn Flint into a city of industry.
Amielle: … You’re serious. That’s a tall order. Assuming I were interested, how would I even start?
Nic: Help to solve a problem that the king himself cannot solve. Soon, a representative of Crisillyir will be arriving in Flint, to—
Kasvarina: (holding up a hand) Nic, she hasn’t agreed to anything yet. “Founded in Secrecy,” remember? Amielle, suffice to say we have the perfect ‘in’ for you. But it will require you to submit yourself to a geas, swearing you to keep the existence of our organization a complete secret to the rest of the world. (her tone darkens) … We’ve been betrayed too many times to afford to be lax about this.
Narrate: Amielle looks uncertain, and Nic leans in.
Nic: Skepticism is healthy, Ms. Latimer. But try to imagine a world in which technology and magic can work in harmony. A world where resources are abundant, and can be efficiently processed. A world where thinkers and doers can more easily see eye-to-eye, unbiased by their cultures and ideologies… Don’t you think that petty squabbles over islands would be far less common in worlds like that?
Narrate: He pauses, catching sight of a wooden rifle on one of her worktables, in the middle of receiving a bright coat of paint, and obviously destined to be a child’s toy. He picks it up somberly.
Nic: Or would you rather sit back, enjoy retirement, and wait for the next generation to sail off on Danor’s warships?
Amielle: Enough. What do I have to do?
Narrate: Nic looks to Kasvarina for approval, and she nods after a moment’s consideration. He plucks a ring of electrum from his shirt pocket and hands it to Amielle.
Nic: Welcome, Ms. Latimer, to the Obscurati.