SQUID GAME meets THE WITCHER in a South East Asian-inspired setting.
Debt-ridden and unemployed, a sentimental book thief and an ex-brawler with a heart of gold enroll in the conquessing arena to pay off their bills. But the monsters they battle are far from the worse things they encounter—and the arena’s manipulative match-master just might top the list.
Lythlet Tairel was ordinarily fond of lightning-bees, but on this rainy winter’s night, she wished they would silence their incessant buzzing.
She stood beneath a streetlight, shivering in the cold. A hive hovered overhead, the colony whirring as its thumb-sized citizens illuminated the street. Two were squabbling, their droning dissonance heightening her agitation.
The loanshark would come at dawn to collect on Desil’s debt, and they would not escape unscathed if Lythlet didn’t scrounge up enough coin by then. If past experience was anything to go by, they’d end the day with bruised ribs and threats painted over their walls.
A sly thought nudged her towards a downhill road: thievery would stitch together her purse strings.
But Lythlet hesitated. It had been many years since she turned to thievery, and it weighed heavily on both her conscience and her pride that she had to resort to it again.
She pulled her last copper out of her pocket, deferring the decision to fate.
“Tell me where my story leads tonight, Sunsmith and Moonmachinist.” Clapping her hands together thrice, she stared at the heavens. “Heads, I listen to my good conscience, return home, and wait for the loanshark’s punishment. Ship, I go thieving in the night and make what I can from the squalor of Setgad.”
With a flick of her thumb, she sent the coin soaring overhead and caught it in her palm.
The Fated Ship stared back at her.