Pan Post 97 takes place in the city of Ampersand where a lad, revealed as Carian Myste, was born into a rich family and met a noble lady of possible love interest but his father plunges the family into bankruptcy and the lad is left living on the streets. One night he infiltrates a grand manor and sees the lady at the ball but she is with another man. Instead of robbing the manor he instead follows the love rival after the ball and threatens him with a beam of light emitting from his pocketwatch. The man, who is Highemperor, is not alone and Soriel appears behind Carian with his sword. Highemperor, however, doesn't want Soriel to kill the boy.
Lad of a Faraway Land
In a cosmos, far removed from the NeSiverse across the Deep Void, there is a world that we would find unusual - yet in some ways eerily similar. The planet is all air and wind around a dense core of poisonous and toxic gases. The sun shines closely to the planet, burning hot and blindingly bright.
A great city-state is built on clouds in the air of this world. The cumulus puffs are solidified by strange technology, and districts are built atop them. The nobility live on the lowest layers of clouds, with the upper layers blocking some of the light and heat - whereas the poorest wretches live on the topmost layer, which is hot as a desert and as blinding as a sunglare.
In the lowest layer, a young lad lives in a splendid manor. He has grown up on the lap of luxury, spoiled by his father as the only child. A maid who is his age has been his playmate all his life - and he has just met the daughter of another noble house, who is beautiful and gracious, and just as drawn to him as he is to her.
However, before he can even think about having to choose between the two girls, his father goes bankrupt. Debts and corruption come to light, and the lad loses everything in a night. Driven to thievery and subsisting in the topmost cloud layers, he regularly descends to the noble district where he grew up to pilfer valuable objects.
A great deal of the money he gets from fencing goes to helping the other poor and hungry on the top layer; the spoiled lad has discovered that his personal needs are actually rather little.
But one night, while breaking into one great manor, he sees through the window a great party downstairs. Men and women mingle and waltz - and the noble girl to whom he was drawn is there, talking quite earnestly with an older man, with whom she seems quite taken.
Devastated, the lad watches as the man and girl dance, and she looks longingly after him as he eventually withdraws from the party and left.
His plan, to rob the upstairs of the manor whilst everyone was busy downstairs, evaporates, and he creeps after the older man through the streets. How odd, he thinks, that this strangely dressed man walks, rather than taking a carriage.
But whatever fate has arranged this, the lad welcomes the chance to avenge his heart.
The man turns around, and the lad pulls out a small object, opening it to beam a bright light - collected from the heat of the top layer of the floating city-state - into the man's face.
Lad: I'm armed. Empty your pockets and you won't be harmed.
The man stares unflinchingly into the light, and the lad feels a slight prickle of unease. This prickle of unease is quickly replaced by another prickle - a hard metal point against his back.
Older Man: Don't kill him.
Man Behind Lad: You never let me kill anyone.
Older Man: We just slaughtered the orc hordes of Iazarleen.
Man Behind Lad: That was yesterday!
Older Man: This lad reminds me of myself.
He looks the lad in the eyes now, clearly somehow not blinded by the light that still beams into his face.
Older Man: You once had everything, didn't you, lad? And lost it all?
The lad does not trust himself to speak, but nods.
Lad: Highemperor of what?
Highemp: Why does everyone ask that?
Soriel: I don't know why that surprises you.
Highemp: Highemperor of my own destiny - and one day, perhaps, of all destinies. What is your name?
Lad: Carian Myste...