Alsara: Requiem and Revolution
The Bastion Conspiracy
It began innocently enough.
In early March, a thousand two hundred and fourteen years since the Dragon Avitus succumbed to the Torpor, Aslan Harith and Luka Vlasi—Luka the Green, at the time—disembarked from a ship onto the docks of Bastion, the overcrowded City of Coin. It was less then a minute before they encountered Ariadne Vangelis, who was purportedly working as a hawker for a local tavern. An hour later they took a wrong turn and were mugged in an alley.
You laugh, dear reader, with incredulity. I know; I could hardly believe it myself when I was told. But before you discard this account as pure fantasy, remember that even King Merik Serendi himself worked as a humble farmer for some of the most formative years of his life. Not everyone bound for glory necessarily starts that way. If you chose to disbelieve what you are reading, well, I hope you at least find these pages of lies to be entertaining if they cannot be educational.
Some background might be necessary before I go on.
This was perhaps two months into the Galanis Plot, and already they cracks were starting to show in the walls, so to speak. Corban Galanis, then Grand General of the Neck, had closed passage north of Bastion on the Great River. He had claimed that this was to prevent the spread of a plague in the Empire from reaching Bastion; the truth, of course, was that he was delaying the arrival of the Princesses Lidiya and Natalya from reaching the city before he was ready. Besides the obvious strife and tension growing in the foreigner’s districts of the city, the nefarious Serpent Guard had begun a string of assassinations to remove the most vocal of the opposition to Bastion’s secession from Vokaya. Tensions were high in every social strata.
Ariadne, Luka, and Aslan were another three lost souls in the midst of this chaos, wandering blind into their future. Feel free to take a moment to chuckle.
None of them had come without cause, of course. Luka the Green had arrived in the city in order to seek out his father, to exact a revenge for reasons I could not coax out of him. Aslan Harith had taken up his family’s legacy, though the reasons why proved more nefarious then he could have ever imagined. And Ariadne? She was looking for her father Viventus Vangelis, though she had little hope of finding the man. For her, so I understand, Bastion was more of an escape then it was a destination; I, however, can only speculate.
The trio began by finding work with a disreputable fellow named Andrew “Churl” Corvish, a unscrupulous villain with pretensions at grandeur. Churl ran a number of small gambling operations in the back of a ratty tavern called The Swinging Tankard. Have no fear, dear reader: the world knows justice, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that at some point during the Galanis Plot the building was burned to its foundations. Working for Churl, the trio spent a time doing odd jobs, most of which they regret with some vigor. After a particularly close call involving a treacherous wizard, they decided that the life of a criminal enforcer was not for them, and took up positions with the city guard.
The transition was helped along by a man named Gwaren. Out of respect for his desire for privacy, I will mention him only where it is strictly necessary in this narrative. With his help and connections, the trio was able to get a clean slate on their records, and start over as lawful citizens of Bastion. I also understand that it was this point that Ariadne received the Light of Aonan, though just how I cannot say.
Up until now, we have been setting the stage, and the pieces were being assembled on the board. It was at this moment that the curtain began to rise.
During the funeral of Councilor Prokopis Xanthopoulos—a man almost assuredly murdered by the servants of the corrupt Serpent Guard—there was an attempt on Lord Cole Argos, Arbiter General of the Neck. He was a clear target: a strongly principled man, Lord Argos has been unflinching in his vocal support for both the Vokayagora Zemla and the staunch upholding of the law. He would never support secession, especially the unlawful coup that the Corban Galanis had prepared. For his honor, Lord Argoswas stabbed twice in the chest, and the only priest in attendance was struck in the back of the head before the attempt.
Lord Argos would almost certainly have bled to death, if fate had not intervened: unbeknownst to the would-be assassin, the trio were at the funeral, and Ariadne was on hand to deliver healing magic in the nick of time. Aslan and Luka, with the unexpected help of Yamamura Saburo, slew the assassin as he attempted to escape the building, rendering the attempt an utter failure.
It might have ended there, if Ariadne had not given Lord Argos her name before they departed the area. Not long after the assassination, she received an urgent letter from the Arbiter General: she was to meet with him, in secret, that very night, in order to perform a task for him of utmost importance. Drawn in by the scent of mystery as much as a sense of civic duty, Ariadne arrived in a punctual fashion, to find Lord Argos eagerly awaiting her arrival.
I have spoken to both parties involved with the incident, and I have been convinced (with much effort, I assure you) that the purpose of the meeting was far from lascivious. Despite what rumor has suggested, Lord Argos had actually called Ariadne there to affect the protection of another member of the government. Lady Iona Hanas, the Minister of Coin, had criticized the Grand General for raising the chain preventing travel northward, and had fallen under his lethal scrutiny.
Ariadne was to deliver to her a teleportation stone so she could escape in the case of such an attempt, and Ariadne delivered it in the nick of time: just as she was handing over the stone, an assassin fired a crossbow from a nearby vantage point, striking Lady Hanas in the back. In the precious seconds before the assassin could finish the job, Ariadne activated the stone, shielding Iona Hanas from further harm with her own body. They escaped to the Blackwall without further injury, and there the Grand Marshal Catharine Alanis brought Ariadne up to speed on what was going on in the city.
After so many suspicious disappearances and outright killings and attacks, Lady Alanis had devised that Corban Galanis was making a play for power. She had not anticipated the depth of his betrayal, nor his collusion with the corrupted Serpent Guard or his involvement with the Demons, but she had begun to assemble her Loyalist forces against his in anticipation for what was to come. Having proven their ability by saving both Cole Argos and Iona Hanas, Lady Alanis brought Ariadne Vangelis, Luka Vlasi, Aslan Harith, and Yamamura Saburo to the Loyalist cause. This began as special assignments taking them away from their regular guard duties, and evolved to become the tip of the spear after the fall of the Serpent Guard.
It was only days after these events that the truth began to reveal itself to our four protagonists. In the space of a single day, they discovered that the Serpent Guard had become divided in its purpose, and, much more worrisome, that the curse of Vokaya had spread as far south as the Neck: Demons were present in the City of Coin.
They could only act on one of these leads, however, and the opportunity to gather vital information on the Serpent Guard appeared in the city of Stonehaven, ten miles east of Bastion. It is here that our narrative must split, however, as another matter of some urgency appeared at the same time: with Churl’s help, Luka had caught a whiff of his father’s scent. He could not turn away from the very reason that he left home, and so while the other three left for Stonehaven, Luka stayed behind, eagerly awaiting the confrontation with his father.
He got his wish, but it was not what he expected.
Luka Vlasi is not a very talkative man at the best of times, and he was further reluctant to speak to me about what happened that night. He did share how it started: he, Churl, and three of Churl’s thugs attempted to ambush a group that was somehow connected to Luka’s father. It did not go as planned; only seconds after the battle was joined, the Serpent Guard revealed themselves from hiding and viciously attacked both parties. With their backs to the wall, Churl and his men fled into the night, leaving Luka in the hands of those they had been intending to capture. Allies of opportunity, Luka and these hostile strangers banded together to fight their way free of the trap, and as luck would have it, he got his wish anyway: the group turned out to be the Silent, a secret organization led by Ivan Vlasi to combat the Demons in Bastion. Luka was taken right to his father, and they met face-to-face for the first time.
Knowing both the men involved, I imagine the confrontation was spectacular; however, I can only speculate on the details.
Whatever was said between them, Luka apparently elected not to murder the man; instead, he joined the Silent as a provisional member, eager to inform Ariadne, Aslan, and Saburo of the new resources at their disposal when they returned to Bastion.
Those three, however, were rather busy on their own. The trip to Stonehaven proved extremely eventful: halfway to their destination they were waylaid by Black Hand Raiders. The confrontation would have proven dire, but, through some quick thinking, Ariadne assembled an illusion of a terrifying Demon, scaring the mighty Orcs into a retreat. The full ramifications were lost to them at the time, but rest assured, the simple escape turned out to have fascinating consequences.
Having cleared the way, the three continued on to their true mission: Aslan Harith managed to witness a secret meeting between agents of the foul Serpent Guard, plotting the assassination of none other than Commander-Provost Adrian Deimos! The mission went off without a hitch (though I suspect there is more of a story to it than that; my sources are only unreliable when they lie to me) and the group hurried to act on the information, slaying the Whiteshore catspaws that the vicious Serpent Guard had planned to use to end Deimos’ life.
This only delayed the wicked Serpent Guard’s plans, however, as without intermediaries they would almost certainly perform the act in person. If anything, the danger to the Commander-Provost had only increased; nevertheless, they had anticipated this. It may sound cold, but if the perfidious Serpent Guard were known to kill a member of their own government, then the tables would be turned against them. The only hard part would be not tipping off the assassins until it was too late to pull out, without letting them slay Adrian Deimos.
At the same time, the looming specter of Demonic involvement hung over all their heads. Never before had this been as clear and ever-present as when the four of them began to work with the Silent in earnest. There had been hints and evidence that the evil Serpent Guard had become infiltrated by Demons, and the Silent confirmed them, as the four of them fought Demons and Serpents standing side by side. The stakes were raised, but the answers were still lagging behind the questions.
The Assassination of the Commander-Provost was a complicated affair, but most of the knowledge is public record. As he addressed the Bastion High Council, four men attempted to gain the stage and attack him with swords, while a fifth maintained a Sphere of Anti-Magic to disable to Provost’s substantial arcane defenses. This plan was disrupted by several mysterious figures, who had been in hiding in the famous statue of the Dragon Maximus that dominates the Council chamber. The assassins were slain or disabled in seconds.
To set the record straight, the figures acting in the defense of the Commander-Provost were none other than Ariadne Vangelis, Aslan Harith, and Luka Vlasi. Yamamura Saburo was also in attendance, but was unable to reach the central chamber before the fighting had concluded.
I must interject here, by stating that while Aslan and Luka secreted themselves in the statue the previous night, Ariadne entered the building as the aide to none other than Lord Cole Argos. I have been enthusiastically informed by both parties that the circumstance was entirely professional, and despite no small amount of investigation I’ve found no evidence beyond their own testimony.
Regardless, it was a crushing victory for the Loyalist forces. While at the time it was announced that Adrian Deimos had succumbed to injuries after the battle, I can safely inform you, dear reader, that he emerged from the encounter without a scratch, and had gone into hiding in order to trick the enemy into underestimating the Loyalist resources.
In the aftermath of the assassination, the traitorous Serpent Guard were declared enemies of the state and were to be arrested on sight. Unfortunately, their true locations were unknown, and thus they continued to operate in secret. Nevertheless, they now had to work from the shadows, and the eyes of the city were upon them. With all visible threats dealt with, the Loyalists and the Silent began to consolidate their resources and influence. Even with the relative breathing room, the Demons and their true plans remained mysterious, and the pressure was still on. Corban Galanis still walked free, without so much as a stain to his reputation.
For the first time in over a month, the group had a week to themselves. The four of them took a halting breath, unaware of how much further they would dive in the coming month.
The Black Hand Raiders, however, had responded badly to the presence of Demons in their area of influence. Believing the enemy to be holed up in Stonehaven, they mobilized to wipe the city off the map, hoping to eradicate the Demon cultists before anything truly horrible could happen. They would have been successful, too, but the city of Bastion deployed its substantial military to stop the assault before it could begin. The two armies stood in a standoff, with the Raiders unable to face Bastion head-on, and Bastion unable to navigate the terrain to find and eliminate their foes. If not for the skirmishes back and forth nearly daily, it would have been hard to tell there was a war even when standing on the front lines.
With too much pressure from both within the city and without, Corban Galanis was forced to give up the charade: the northern chain was finally lowered. On that very day, the Silent (guided by our heroes) found evidence of a long and nefarious plot: barrels of a toxic substance, brewed in a secret Serpent Guard lair, protected by Demons both large and small. The trail was cold, but something was building on the horizon, and the four were shaken by the possibilities. They began to suspect that, despite becoming public enemy number one, the murderous Serpent Guard were more dangerous than ever.
When a merchant made a sudden—and eventually lethal—change of plans, the party began to wonder at his motivations. Acting on a hunch, they boarded the merchant’s north-bound ship, expecting the worst. They were not disappointed: the ship was crawling with Serpent Guard. Their purpose became clear when the ship encountered a transport bearing the colors of House Serendi. The Serpent Guard onboard quickly overpowered the captain and crew, ramming the Royal Barge and boarding her in great numbers. Our heroes weren’t far behind, and moved to hit the Serpents from the rear.
Once the dust of battle had settled, the party discovered the reason for the Serpent Guard’s attack: the Royal ship was bearing the Princesses Lidiya and Natalya, who had been trying to reach Bastion for weeks. With the chain barring northward travel lowered, they could safely reach the city, and the Secessionist assassins had been quick to try and prevent their arrival. Fortunately, due in no small part to the actions of our protagonists, the plan was a failure. In the company of House Serendi, Ariadne, Aslan, and Luka returned to Bastion.
When they arrived, they found the Silent in chaos. While the party had been gone, members of the Silent led by Nadia Kalfas had attempted to strike a Serpent Guard warren, only to fall into a dangerous trap. While they suffered few casualties, most of the Silent was now injured and out of commission. Despite their lack of resources, our heroes decided the best course of action was to hit the enemy back, hard; after all, if it was worth protecting, it was worth destroying. Infiltrating the building was trivial for them, and inside they found irrefutable evidence of Demonic presence: cages, designed to breed Corrupter Demons, fifteen in number. They now had a number for their enemies, but they were unable to act: the man who had jurisdiction over hunting the Serpent Guard was none other than their secret master, Corban Galanis. Evidence would be useless in the public eye.
This was the least of the city’s worries, however. Upon her arrival, Princess Lidiya moved to the Council chambers and announced that Vokaya would be calling upon the Founding Treaty. Bastion would surrender most of its armed forces, and loan a massive stipend to Vokaya, including substantial taxes evaded for the last fifty years. With the bulk of Bastion’s military deployed against the Black Hand Raiders assaulting Stonehaven
There was another problem gnawing away at them: the barrels of poison brewed by the Serpent Guard. The Silent mostly disabled, and Corban Galanis paralyzing efforts to move against the Serpent Guard openly, our heroes decided to track down the dangerous barrels themselves.
They got their first clue just a moment too late. They found the toxin, but not before a large portion was unleashed on the city, and its true purpose revealed: it was not a poison meant to kill, but to infect. Those who succumbed to the disease became mad Ghouls; necromantic constructs designed to murder and to propagate. The plague spread quickly and threatened to overwhelm the foreigner’s district of the city, if not for the swift action of the Grand Marshal, Lady Alanis. She deployed personally into the evacuation of the district, sealing the gates and moving to protect the civilians from the insane monsters. This act proved effective, but costly: while thousands of lives were surely saved, over a hundred of the city guard fell in the fighting, and Catherine herself lost a leg and suffered numerous other injuries.
Our heroes’ efforts were not in vain, however. They did destroy the remainder of the plague, and were able to help the Commander-Provost (who had emerged from hiding to combat the undead) fabricate a cure. I am told he managed the feat in less than a day, as incredible as it sounds. But even that was only the icing on the cake: the real prize was a map, stolen from the Serpent Guard’s hiding place, that revealed their secret base of operations. At last, as elusive as they were, the wretched Serpent Guard were vulnerable.
The Loyalists wasted no time. Our heroes worked in conjunction with the remains of the Silent and the warriors of the Order of Sol; a halfling organization that had arrived in the city and were stopped by the chain like many others, and had remained after the Demons became more prevalent.
The strike happened near the dead of night, with the Silent striking from above, and the the Order of Sol moving in through the sewer entrances. It was executed perfectly, and before most of them even knew it had happened, the traitorous Serpent Guard were slain to a man. A victory for the Loyalists and our heroes, unequivocal and absolute.
But the aftermath still left questions in its wake. A Demon wearing the face of the previous Master Emissary had been slain in the fighting, but was she the true engine behind this plan? And with the Serpent Guard gone, would Corban Galanis be forced to give up his scheme, or advance to even greater lengths to succeed? Only a few Corrupter Demons had been slain; nowhere near enough to fill all the cages that our heroes discovered. Where were the remainder? These questions needed to be answered, and the only people who could find the truth were, as you might guess, our four protagonists.
At least, that was the opinion of the Grand Marshal. Hindsight has granted us miraculous powers of introspection, and it is easy to wonder if more competent or knowledgeable parties could have been found to ferret out the truth. Would things have been better if they had? Different, certainly, but I will leave the morality for scholars; I am just a storyteller with a touch of historian.
Regardless if it was the wisest choice, the Grand Marshal granted our heroes all the power she had at her disposal to root out Corban Galanis’ plot, and any of the conspirators that were to side with him. The burden was heavy, but for the first time yet, our heroes would see the full scope of the forces arrayed against them.
The actions they took while under the mandate of the Grand Marshal are private matters, and not suitable for record in this book. I can, however, relate to you what their investigations uncovered…and let me assure you, it was not what anyone had expected.
Grand General Corban Galanis was not the master of the Galanis Plot. A Demon known as a Whisper Demon had infiltrated his mind, corrupting his memory, encouraging a hatred against Vokaya. Any acts that Lord Galanis would not condone were concealed from his sight, and at the same time he was manipulated into gathering forces against an imaginary threat. The Demon spoke to him wearing the face of an old friend that had been inserted into Lord Galanis’ memory, and the name of this imaginary friend was Myridan Tusa.
Myridan had been managing the Serpent Guard, had been gathering intelligence, had been arranging the plans and encouraging Corban Galanis to act. It was Myridan’s hand that brought about the undead plague, and then it was Myridan’s tongue that claimed the plague was manufactured by Vokayans. The true enemy had, at long last, been revealed, but how does one fight a phantasm of the mind?
Before they could even begin to answer the question, the phantasm became reality. A Corrupter Demon, wearing a face stolen from Corban’s false memory, became elected as the Master Emissary of the Neck. The name he used was none other Myridan Tusa. How was a relative stranger elected so quickly, you ask? Well, here the plot grows thicker.
When Princess Lidiya had called upon the Founding Treaty, the Council had been unable to come to consensus on whether to honor the treaty. They requested two weeks from the Princess in order to gather the gold and soldiers necessary to fulfill the treaty, but in truth it was to debate if the she should be ignored entirely. Betraying the Founding Treaty would mean war for the Neck, as Vokaya would not allow its wealthiest colony to turn its back on the Kingdom in such a time of crisis. The Council knew this, but still they debated, even going to far as to suggest that they might win such a war. Some of these Councilors were honestly deluded, but the most influential of them had a different agenda in mind: for in truth, they were but Corrupter Demons in disguise!
With such control over the Council, Myradin Tusa had no trouble fabricating his existence and winning the votes he needed to come into power. He immediately set himself up as the second in command of the city Guard, technically underneath the Grand Marshal, but watching her always, ready to eliminate her at the first opportunity. There were but a few days left before the vote on whether or not to uphold the treaty, and the Council was in the control of Demons. The situation looked grim, but it was even worse than it at first appeared.
Winning the vote would have been a bloodless victory for the Secessionists: with war against Vokaya, the city would rally behind the cause of independence, and the Neck would declare itself its own nation, standing against the might of Vokaya. If that wasn’t possible, however, Myridan was prepared for a messier approach.
The plan, as far as I have come to understand, was originally to use the raw power of Bastion’s military to take control of the city, where they would kill the Royal Family and bring war upon their heads regardless of what the Council decided. Corban Galanis, as Grand General, would be too difficult to replace in time to mount an effective defense against Vokaya, and he would take control of the Neck with little difficulty in the time of war.
However, with the intensifying conflict against the Black Hand Raiders, the military might of Bastion suddenly was out of the Grand General’s grasp; he could not withdraw from the front lines without losing Stonehaven and a substantial portion of his army, leaving the Neck defenseless against Vokaya. In order to effectively control the city, he would have to contend with the entirety of the city guard, and he had only a single platoon of soldiers and the Lord Admiral’s Marines to fight with. Perhaps three hundred Secessionists, versus a full force of over a thousand trained guards and Aturan mercenaries fighting for the Loyalists. He was hopelessly outmatched.
However, with Myridan’s appointment to second-in-command of the Guard, the tables began to turn. While portions of the Guard would surely remain loyal to their Grand Marshal, the mercenaries the city had purchased would doubtless follow whomever could secure their services first. Only the students and teachers of the Topos Maethisis under the dubious command of the resurrected Adrian Deimos would stand against the Secessionists now, and if Myridan used his Corrupter powers to subvert the Grand Marshal, all hope for the Loyalists would be lost.
Our heroes, however, developed a plan. Through their investigations, they had discovered the identities of which among the council had been replaced by Corrupter Demons. With Myridan in control of the Guard, they could not arrest the false Councilors, and trying to kill them would only alert the creatures and send them into hiding. No, in order to secure the vote, they developed an audacious plan to out the Demons in the midst of the Council chambers, the very day of the vote. Not even Myridan would be able to act against them in time.
That still left the possibility of Myridan capturing the city by force. With the precious days they had before time was up, Ariadne, Luka, and Aslan hurried to secure the loyalty of the Guard and the Aturan mercenaries under the city’s employ. They convinced Lady Alanis to take refuge among the Silent, to prevent her assassination or subversion by the poisonous Myridan. And last, most important of all, they assembled the resources they would need to free Corban Galanis from his Demonic possession. With Lord Galanis and the Grand Marshal on the side of the Loyalists, the Secessionist cause would crumble. Or at least, that was the plan.
However, Myridan was not unaware of the protagonists of our tale. The day before the vote, he tricked them into a cunning ambush a few miles out of the city, where they were brutally attacked by a powerful Harvester Demon. Even with all the cards stacked against them, and the fate of the whole nation riding on their lives, our heroes escaped to the city in time to warn the Order of Sol of the Harvester’s approach. The Halflings mobilized to eradicate the threat, and our heroes rushed to the Council chamber to reveal the Demons in their midst.
I will take a moment to emphasize that, throughout my life, proven time and time again, stories are far more dramatic that reality, and that history tends to grow in the retelling. Even I find myself having to resist succumbing to my desire to awe you, dear reader, in order to explain what really happened. All that said, what happened over the course of the tenth of May, twelve thousand and fourteen years after the Torpor, needs no exaggeration.
When they reached the Council chambers, Ariadne Vangelis, Luka Vlasi, and Aslan Harith were in the company of Lady Irena Galanis, Lord Delbin Mattas, and three clerics of the Vokayan Sept. Upon entering the Council chamber, Ariadne took the podium and declared her intentions before all assembled: they would channel the light of the Gods into the chamber, to reveal the Demons that had poisoned their leadership. Over shouts of protest, she raised her hands up high and commanded the priests to begin the spell. Three members of the Council, each of them men targeted by our heroes as Corrupters in disguise, caught flame and collapsed to the ground. While one disintegrated entirely, the others eventually stopped thrashing and revealed their true, monstrous forms. The evidence was irrefutable: Demons had influenced the Council.
Before chaos could erupt, the Demon within the Grand General decided it was time to run, and he fled through the roof of the building. Taking fast pursuit, our heroes caught him launching a flare high into the sky; a signal for the coup to begin. However, while he might have thought it would have mobilized nearly all the forces in the city, in truth only a few moved in response to the signal. The mercenaries turned on one another (one side having been secretly secured by Myridan), the Guard rallied under the Grand Marshal, and the Navy Marines remained at their posts. None answered the call to action except Myridan himself, but we will get to him in a moment.
Upon seeing the Grand General, Ariadne unleashed the power of Aonan, and slew the Demon controlling his mind and body. Thus freed from outside influences, he was coaxed into betraying the plans of his master, Myridan: even without any chance of secession, the evil Corrupter Demon would attempt to slay the Princesses Natalya and Lidiya as best he could. War or not, their deaths would weaken the reach of House Serendi and erode support for King Merik. With not a moment to lose, our heroes hurried to intercept Myridan before he could reach his target.
At the same time, the massive Harvester broke away from the Order of Sol and charged towards Bastion. While the Order had inflicted heavy casualties on the ranks of the Shaper Demons in the area, they had done little to harm the greater Demon leading them, and it had made its way to Bastion virtually unmolested. With the Harvester attacking from above, and Myridan himself striking from below, the Demons began their assault on the Royal mansion.
They could not have anticipated the resistance they would face. Ranks upon ranks of guards, mercenaries, and mages stood against the Harvester, barring its path. Against Myridan, who had slipped by them all, our heroes were the last line of defense. They arrived in the mansion just in time to prevent the Corrupter Demon from breaching the barrier into the Royal sanctuary, and alone, against the backdrop of the battle against the Harvester, they fought.
If this were a simple copper novel I would leave you there, waiting with baited breath for the next issue in my deluge of florid waste. Sadly, though, this is a history, and thus you more than likely already know what happened: Myridan was killed by Aslan, Luka, and Ariadne. The Harvester was driven off by the combined forces of Bastion. We won. But, it was not without some surprises.
In the clearing of the dust, Aslan was able to verify that Myridan’s true form, the shape he held while his demonic powers were at their strongest, was that of Bastion’s former Master Emissary: Bellanca Teresi. She had apparently been captured and converted by a Progenitor demon during her foray into Vokaya, and upon her return had set about trying to destabilize Bastion as well. She would nearly have succeeded, if not for the intervention of our heroes.
Instead, however, she was slain, and her plots laid bare and defeated.
Bastion elected a new Master Emissary, Nadia Kalfas; a woman who had been instrumental in organizing the Silent, as well as a decorated veteran and ranking member of the Magos Dionkitae.
With the aid of Yamamura Saburo, the war with the Black Hand was ended, and the orcish Raiders agreed to a peace settlement of a most peculiar nature: they would be given land and Vokayan citizenship, provided they were willing to travel northward and enlist into the Vokayan military as an auxiliary division.
The Grand General was arrested and tried for treason, but rather than execution, he was exiled from the Neck. The enterprising Princess Lidiya took the opportunity to offer him a position in the Vokayan Military, though the specifics of his post are not for this book. The position of Grand General was filled by Sinon Hatzis, one of Galanis’ top commanders and a decorated veteran of several wars.
The Grand Marshal recovered from her injuries, and in fact was quickly sporting an artificial limb for her trouble; an early version of the Deimos Device you might be more familiar with. She remained Grand Marshal until much later.
And what of our protagonists? Well, Yamamuro Saburo and Ariadne Vangelis were offered positions amongst the Dragon’s Teeth, which they both accepted. But for Aslan Harith and Luka Vlasi, their paths struck out in a different direction entirely, which would bring them to places darker than the deepest sewer in Bastion, and more dangerous than even the den of the Serpent Guard. But that is a different story.
A story which I will cover, dear reader, so before you believe me above the acts of the low con-men of the copper novel, I simply direct you to my next book in this series: Sins of the Father.