A war was fought over the ninth planet from Earth before anyone even reached it. Believers at Avalon discovered Xahna's location, but refused to share it with the cartel of mega-corporations known as ASP, the Ardent Secular Pragmatists whose core beliefs are based on the idea that money rules, not some unknown creator who isn't even a shareholder.

ASP responding by declaring an interplanetary extermination order on Believers and anyone who harbored them. The hammer fell first on Avalon, where the Believer fleet was lucky to escape. Fleeing to Xahna, the Believers could only hope there was something on the blue-green planet so similar to Earth that could aid their cause.

Xahna held a surprise greater they could have ever expected. On Xahna, cities create their own supreme beings called ka.

The planet has a shallow sea covered in rings of coral. Within each ring a colony of microorganisms called sayathi pumps salt out of the ring to create fresh water. One drink will kill any creature, unless that animal first bleeds into the pool. After a blood sacrifice, the sayathi develop antibodies to that individual. Once recognized by the pool, the individual can drink and the sayathi survive as symbiotes, granting increased immunity to disease, faster healing and longer life.

Xahnans are willing to sacrifice individual freedom for collective safety. They also have a deep connection with the environment, and have persisted in a steam-era technology level for centuries.

Xahnans look similar to humans in appearance, save their partially webbed fingers and the three feather-like tufts of bundled hair behind their ears called sifa.

A small fraction of Xahnans experience a hole in the barrier that separates the physical world from the power of the creator. These adepts have varied abilities ranging from sensing and controlling animals to altering the forces of nature or even feeling the emotions and thoughts of others. By trading their own will power, Xahnan adepts can force their will on objects, animals, people or chemicals around them. Trading will for action seems to be a universal constraint of life.

But that is where the sayathi pools change the game. At the center of each pool is amber-like crystal called the bloodstone. Within it, the ruling sayathi send electrical signals through the conduits in the pool that create high frequency acoustoelectrical resonances in sayathenite nodules, allowing them to control their sayathi over great distances. When an adept consumes the bloodstone in a ceremony called "The Exalting", the ruling sayathi within the adept are able to draw will from everyone bound to the pool. For a city with a common source of drinking water, this means the city's ka has access to the will of tens of thousands of people, making them incredibly powerful.

The greatest ka on Xahna is a despot known as Vetas-ka, who rules an empire on the desert continent of Torsica. Seeking to extend his rule to the mountainous continent of Aesica, Vetas-ka runs into a snag when the bloodstone of Shoul Falls falls into the hands of young woman from Norr named Dana. A druid adept able to control animals, Dana attempts to keep the stone from Vetas-ka's adepts known as kazen. But their world is about to change when ships from ASP and the Believers reach Xahna. For Xahna holds the power that can save the Believers, or doom them. 

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