Chapter 32: Draw

“You have to enjoy life’s little pleasures, like lazy mornings and strawberries and invading Callow with an invisible army.”
– Dread Empress Malevolent III

A heartbeat passed as my brains struggled to cope with too many surprises in a row – I forced myself to focus on one at a time. Had Heiress just casually banished a fucking demon? No, that couldn’t be. I didn’t even think she was a mage, and even if she was there was no way a girl barely older than me had that much power at her fingertips. Apprentice couldn’t even do that, and sorcery was at the heart of his Name. Black I could see pulling out something from his apparently bottomless bag of tricks, Warlock probably and Malicia almost certainly but Heiress? No. I’d missed something. My eyes drifted to my rival’s saddle, noticing she was resting her gloved hand on a long wooden haft. Old wood, with fresh new runes carved into it. It took another heartbeat before everything clicked into place. Triumphant’s demons had been bound to the standards of her Legions, Masego had told us. She never let it loose. She let it out, and after she got what she wanted she just… popped it back in. Heiress’ irritatingly perfect face was the picture of friendliness, but I thought I saw a glimmer of vicious amusement in her eyes when she met my stare.

“Would I be correct in assuming she’s the person responsible for the demon running around?” Archer asked in a very, very calm tone.

“That’s the one,” I confirmed.

Heiress’ face painted itself with what I would have believed to be genuine surprise, had I not known who I was dealing with. I couldn’t make out too much of her in the dark, but what I did see was perfectly groomed. Not a speck of dust on her polished steel scales or that rather nice green shawl wrapped around her neck. Even the horse was spotless, and a beautiful beast besides: all grey, and Callowan stock too.

“Is that how you’ll be trying to get out of this grave you’ve dug?” the aristocrat asked. “By pinning the blame on me? We both know the Silver Spears would never had come over the temple holding the demon, had you not pushed them so relentlessly after your victory.”

“Oh, you bitch,” I replied.

“Uncouth language only betrays your lesser breeding,” she informed me with a sneer. “I will not take the fall for you, Squire. You made the decision to hound their retreat out of petty spite, I am told. Something about the death of a Tribune Nilin?”

My fingers tightened around the grip of my sword until I felt them turning white. I’d thought I knew hatred, from the days where I’d lived under the thumb of Mazus. I found now I’d been mistaken. The Governor grinding his heel over the city’s throat was an impersonal sort of attack, directed at a people instead of my own person. This? This was personal.

“Well, Miss,” Archer smiled. “You and I seem to have an account to settle. Do try to struggle, it’ll be that much more satisfying.”

My eyes remained on Heiress’ gloved fingers, watching them drum absent-mindedly against the haft of wood. I could see the place where metal rings had once bound the cloth part of the standard. The dark-skinned villain met my eyes again, the implied threat perfectly clear. I let it out once. If my life is in danger, I might just do it again.

“You’d be the representative from Refuge, yes?” my rival said.

Archer flicked her wrist, slowly spinning the longknife in her hand.

“Could be I’m just a concerned citizen,” she replied.

Heiress cocked her head to the side. “I’m given to understand that you were sent to smooth over a little diplomatic wrinkle with the Tower. I wonder what the consequences for your mistress would be, if you attempt the murder of a Praesi aristocrat in broad daylight?”

“Oh, I won’t be ‘attempting’ anything,” Archer chuckled. “Anyhow, I’ve got doubts anyone here will bear witness for your corpse afterwards.”

Why had she forced the demon back in the standard? I allowed their words to drift past me as I put all my mind to figuring that one riddle out. If she’d waited a few moments longer, it might have killed me. Or corrupted me, at which point she’d have an excuse to put me down that not even the Empress could dispute. Her victory condition for this does not involve me being permanently out of the game. What was she actually after, then? Crippling the Fifteenth, maybe. Or she might have been trying to avoid something that would cause her to lose. If I’d been dead or corrupted, there were decent odds the defence of Marchford would have collapsed. At which point the entire population and the remnants of a legion would have ended up corrupted puppets. And Black would have killed her outright for it, because she’d have been responsible for an existential threat to the Empire.

By stopping now, the only strength on the field to have been damaged was mine. The Fifteenth was in shambles, I’d damaged my Name irreparably and she could just stroll in at the end of the fight to claim credit for the “victory”. It was a twisted, labyrinthine plan that had at least half a dozen possible point of failures I could name off the top of my head.  The very kind of plot the Praesi brand of villains loved the most. The enormity of what she’d just done slowly sunk in. She had, when it came down to it, used a genuine threat to Creation itself as a fucking hunting hound to damage my position. Hundreds of soldiers, my soldiers, had died just so that smiling failure of a human being could hobble me for the rest of this war. I took a long breath. Archer was right: Heiress didn’t get to walk away from something like this.

“Apprentice, you still with us?” I called out.

“Still alive,” Masego replied through gritted teeth.

“If you had the standard a demon is bound to, would you be able to use it?” I asked, glancing at the bespectacled mage.

“Easiest thing in the world,” he replied, baring his teeth at Heiress.

“I’ll need you to hold off the demon for a while,” I told Archer. “This is going to get messy.”

The ochre-skinned woman nodded sharply, leaning forward in anticipation. Heiress cleared her throat.

“As to your earlier point about witnesses, Envoy,” she said, idly waving her hand. “I would dispute that statement.”

The still-lingering cloud of dust and ash dispersed under an unseen wind. Magic, I knew instantly. Without incantation, which was even more worrying – although not as much as the sight now revealed. Lightly armoured men bearing large oval shields and spears, quietly marching down the avenue. Numbers were hard to gauge, but I could see them spreading out in the distance beyond how far I could see. At least a thousand. Behind me I heard Nauk calling for my legionaries to form up in proper ranks. Gods, I’d misunderstood her endgame. She didn’t want us mauled for a long-term advantage. She wanted us as weak as possible before wiping us out with her own men, using the excuse of possible corruption as a political shield afterwards. And I’d danced to her tune the whole time, never knowing who was playing the lute. I reached for my Name, finding the well still near-empty. Might be able to pass over that if I tap into Struggle.

Alarmed yells started coming from the back of Heiress’ column a moment later. Out of principle I refused to try to push myself up on the tip of my toes to catch a glimpse of what was happening – instead I looked at the aristocrat, and for the first time a flicker of doubt passed through her face. The crossbow bolt passed three inches away from her mount’s head, clattering on the ground, and I turned to watch Robber scuttle down from a roof to the left like an ugly leering green spider. His sappers lined that entire flank, crossbows loaded and ready.

“Evening, Boss,” he said.

“Tribune,” I replied, schooling my face to make it look like I knew exactly what was happening.

I’d gotten a lot of experience at that since I got put in charge of a legion.

“The Callowan volunteers are in place,” he reported. “Learning a bunch of Proceran looters were visiting their home got them motivated good and proper.”

Half of Heiress’ army had been made of Proceran light infantry, I remembered. Robber hadn’t been at the briefing where General Sacker had told me that… but Juniper had. Three cheers for the godsdamned Hellhound, may she ever keep one step ahead of our enemies, I thought, turning to face my opponent.

“Looks like you called it off too early,” I told Heiress.

“I have numbers on my side,” she noted in a neutral tone.

“Lady,” Robber broke in with a malevolent smile. “We just fucked up a bunch of devils and most our number in mercenaries with a demon’s hand shoved up their arse. Chewing up your pretty lads will be light exercise before we turn in for the night. But please, doubt me. Try us.”

I laughed. “You heard the goblin, Akua,” I grinned. “Take out your sword. Last time we had a chance to dance, you legged it before we got to the good stuff.”

Heiress’ face went blank and she remained silent for a long moment before she sighed.

“I suppose now and then one must be willing to settle for a draw,” she said.

“I still say we knife her and put the head on a pike,” Archer growled.

“You kill her now and the Empress might have to declare war on Refuge,” I admitted. “She’s not without backing.”

With another growl, the Named shoved her longknives back in their sheaths and strode away. My rival seemed about to add a pithy comment to the situation, but before she could someone tossed an empty bottle at her head. Or tried to, at least – it missed by a solid three feet.

“Boooo,” the Wandering Bard yelled. “Boooo, villains, boooo.”

Of course Almorava would show up. This night just wouldn’t be shitty enough with the mouthy heroine making an appearance. Evidently the godly quota for screwing me over this month had yet to be filled in full. I bet she practiced the booing, too, there’s no way it could sound this excruciatingly obnoxious otherwise.

“I paid good money for this seat,” she called out from the ledge where she was seated, surrounded by a line of my sappers. “Show me some blood, or at least lose some clothes!”

The olive-skinned heroine still wore the only outfit I’d ever seen her in, garishly coloured silks that were just a little too wide for her. The sleeves were longer than her arm and larger than her wrist, flopping around as she gesticulated. I could make out a few stains on her clothes, and I’d been a waitress long enough to recognize the effect of liquor spills on nice garments. Sloppy.

“Lieutenant Rattler,” Robber gasped. “What’s the meaning of this? Why is that woman’s kidney going unstabbed? This is against all we stand for.”

A female goblin – Lieutenant Rattler, I assumed – saluted sloppily.

“I’m afraid she bribed me, sir,” she replied.

“We don’t take bribes,” the yellow-eyed tribune chided her.

“I’ll cut you in for half?”

Robber turned towards me. “Protocol was followed, Boss.”

I knew from experience that actually getting the Bard to leave was next to impossible, but at least my soldiers were making pocket change out of her presence. That was… a win, maybe? Having to ask myself that question at all honestly felt like a loss of its own.

“You again,” Heiress spoke with distaste.

“Oh, it’s… Inheritor? Successor? Legatee, maybe?” Almorava mused. “I’m sorry, you just weren’t that interesting of a person. Anyhow, nice to see you again. Watcha been doing since you let that demon out?”

At the edge of my vision I saw Archer still for a heartbeat before she continued walking away. Most of my legionaries weren’t in hearing range of the Bard’s declaration, but those that were eyed Heiress like they were measuring where to slide the knife in. The knowledge of exactly who had caused our demon troubles hadn’t been spread outside of the Fifteenth general staff, but now it was a given all of my soldiers would know who to blame before dawn rose. Godsdamnit. I hadn’t had a reason to keep that morsel under wraps aside from not seeing a reason the information should be spread, but Almorava throwing it out there was bad news. She definitely had a reason, and I doubted it was to my benefit.

“Unusual, that your accusations and that of a known heroine coincide,” Heiress spoke, keeping me in her peripheral vision as she faced the drunken minstrel. “It smells of… untoward sympathies.”

“I’d watch my mouth, if I were you,” I replied cheerfully. “Accidents happen all the time, on campaigns.”

“You kinda grew into the villain thing, didn’t you Cat?” the Bard mused. “I mean, you’ve got the distinctive wound down with your limp. You’ve already got a notable tic with the clenching fingers thing, so basically all you need now is a catchphrase and you’re set.”

I did actually have one of those. One that had been crafted in response to something said by a hero, even. Not that I was about to admit as much to the bloody pest.

“You’ll probably even manage to get a few atrocities under your belt before the war’s over, if your friend here doesn’t beat you to them,” Almorava continued, toasting me with a half-empty bottle of rum.

“Ah, heroic posturing,” Heiress said softly. “Considering the behaviour of your little band of murderers in Summerholm, any talk of ‘atrocities’ coming from your mouth is the height of hypocrisy.”

“Says the slaver,” the Bard smiled.

“I employ only free men,” the aristocrat sneered.

“Well, at least you fed them properly after buying them,” Almorava conceded. “Truly, you are the cream of the scum of Creation.”

Huh. So the Bard could get under Heiress’ skin almost effortlessly. That was good to know. Exploitable right now? Unlikely. The Ashuran had no real combat abilities, as far as I knew. In a way that made her sudden presence more worrying: physical assault I could prepare for, but the subtler forms of Name warfare were largely beyond me. I could try to slit Heiress’ throat while she was being distracted, but I was nigh-powerless while she was at full tilt. No to mention I wasn’t sure exactly what the consequences would be, if I managed it. A fresh battle with her mercenaries, possibly, and for all that I’d pretended to be unmoved at the idea I really did not want to pull that trigger. My men were exhausted and the volunteers were not real soldiers – maybe we’d win, but the odds weren’t much in our favour.

“Why are you here, Almorava?” I asked instead, playing for time.

It should keep her distracted long enough for the sappers I was pretty sure Robber had discreetly mobilized to to make their move.

“Why are any of us here, Squire?” she wondered waving the now almost entirely empty bottle around. I hadn’t even seen her take another swig.  “Interesting question. Well, for you it’s that you think you’re doing the right thing. That road to the Hells you’re paving is looking real good these days. Your fellow villain thinks she is the right thing, and is hilariously mistaken about that in pretty much every way that matters. As for me, I’m just having a gander.”

“One of these days, you wretched little foreigner,” Heiress said pleasantly, “I am going to have your mouth sown shut.”

“Everyone here who was actually born in Callow, raise your fucking hand,” I spoke sweetly.

Robber raised his hand.

“I feel that, spiritually, I have told the truth,” my tribune offered when I glared at him.

“The standards for Legion discipline have truly grown lax if you allow this kind of backtalk,” Heiress scoffed. “A trickle down effect, I imagine.”

“Oh, you don’t want to start going down that road,” I replied with bared teeth.

Almorava suddenly gasped, killing the tension before it could escalate.

“Clatter, you’ve betrayed me?”

“Rattler,” the sapper reminder her. “My name is Rattler. Also yes.”

“I thought we had something real,” the Ashuran deplored.

There were a series of sharper detonations under the roof where the Bard was seated, the tiles collapsing as a neat hole and the heroine dropping in. A long moment passed until another goblin popped his head out from the house’s front door.

“No body, ma’am,” he reported.

Yeah, I hadn’t really counted on one. At least she was gone. From the corner of my eyes I watched Lieutenant Rattler bite down on a silver coin and curse when it bent easily. Counterfeit silver, I realized with an involuntary twitch of the lips. She’d bribed my sappers with counterfeit silver, and not even a good fake.

“We appear do be done here,” Akua decided, turning her horse around. “My host will be occupying the Countess’ manor, as it is the only lodging in this… backwater befitting someone of my rank.”

“You do that,” I grunted, watching her ride away back to her troops.

I waited for her to be out of hearing range.

“Robber?”

“Boss?”

“I want that manor on fire before she ever sets foot on the grounds.”

“Gods, I love this outfit,” the yellow-eyed goblin confessed.

43 thoughts on “Chapter 32: Draw

    1. Bart

      “Not only did Squire cause a demon to be loosed, which I rebound, but then Squire went and destroyed the manor of the Countess.”

      Either Heiress gets the manor, or she gets something else to blame Squire for. Either way she wins.

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      1. Sir

        She could easily sum it up as collateral damage for the war.

        “Oh yes we believed a demon was hiding in there so we as protocol states burnt it to the ground” and she wouldn’t even be lying if heiress does stay there she would probably keep the demon close.

        Wait actually now I think about it she probably wouldn’t keep the demon that seems like a fools move.

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      2. Not necessarily. There’s many an excuse to use: whoops… “That hearth spell we had Apprentice use can be so unreliable, even though it has upsides.” “I wondered where that consignment of oil went…” “Stray corrupted things to mop up; what else could we do?” And, so on.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Bart

        An accident like that is preventable with proper material handling. An “accident” like that would rightly be their responsibility.

        Like

  1. George

    “I found now I’d been mistaking.” should be “I found now I’d been mistaken.”
    “crossbows loaded and read.” should be “crossbows loaded and ready.”
    “Not that I was about to admit as much to the bloody best.” should, I think, be “Not that I was about to admit as much to the bloody beast.”

    Also the url is ‘chapter-31-draw’ rather than ‘chapter-32-draw’

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  2. Akim

    Well Black knows how to create a monster. The 15th seems to become the largest ragtag group of misfits since Chrono Trigger 2.

    Also which Name could possibly befit a gleefully murderous demolitions expert ?

    As hard as I try, I come up empty.

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    1. Shoddi

      @Akim – Agreed, if Robber gets a Name, it should be “Grenadier”. Tossing verbal & literal bombs hither & yonder about the battlefield. Glorious.

      Like

    2. Breaker, Bombardier,and Arsonist would all be pretty good Names, I think.

      Possible Aspects would be even more fun: Incinerate, Explode, Scatter, Survive, Immolate, and risk all come to mind immediately.

      One way or another, more fire=better, 100% of the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. AVR

    Catherine, not everything is about you. Almorava wasn’t aiming at you when she publicly revealed Akua/Heiress was responsible for the demon, that was obviously aimed at Heiress!

    A couple more typos

    calling form my
    calling for my

    fitting someone of my rank.”
    befitting someone of my rank.”

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  4. Cap'nSmurfy

    Okay clearly Heiress needs to wise up on her name lore. Attacking a worn out, wise-mouthing, group of ragtag soldiers with a superior force? Against a Commander who works best against superior forces so much that she has Struggle in her name? There is no way this could have ended well for her.

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  5. Heiress doesn’t realise it yet, but she’s already lost. She’s used to political games where she can bluff and demand proof from any accusers. Except she’s just attacked one of Black’s legions. I give odds that Black can use that as grounds to execute her, proof or no proof. And, for the icing on the cake, she also attacked the son of Warlock and two of Ranger’s followers. Cat doesn’t have to do anything except point the Calamities in Heiress’s direction. Her pride hath come before her destruction, her haughty spirit before her fall.

    Or possibly something else will happen, but it’d be nice to have some (evil) authority figures bring reasonable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “…(evil) authority figures bring reasonable.”
      You seeing the problem with this? xD

      I admit that the current villains in power are very logical and reasonable…. but I doubt black or rogue will try to kill her… At most “inconvenience” her a bit for what she did, but nothing as drastic as killing. (though depending on HOW grave a crippled name is black might…. react badly.)

      Why? First Black wants to train Cat and a nemesis/rival on hero and villain side will be needed for what he wants, at least if I didnt misunderstand the story so far.
      Secondly Black already has troubles with the current Mistress of the tower…. who wants to keep the aristocrates under her control…. killing uhm… i seriously forgot. damned bard…. gotta read it up fast xD ah yeah Heiress would kind of make this…. harder than it already is. Which is kinda near borderline impossible without going against their dreams. (Fire and brimstone conquering villains ya know…) also I think dear heiress has to die the typical villain death…😉
      Third: Rogue gives me the impression don’t mess with the tower as long as they dont mess with me. An Archer was picking the fight and if Lancer would… well Hero vs Villain thing.
      The only one I can somehow see kill her if I try is Warlock…. which I doubt that he will though honestly xD

      What I am interested in… what means the name is crippled? In theory she wouldn’t be the squire anymore if it would be crippled, but people still know her as squire, which would force her in that role… If not what is an aspect or role exactly? A demon can hardly steal an aspect… and if he can…. well how would one gain that aspect back? Assimilate with the demon? Kill the demon? Make a deal with it? Or can she gain new aspects? (Which is what i think is highly likely… and necessary. Maybe her mini clones inside her could lend a hand? If yes I doubt its a simple take my hand and be reborn thingy…)
      And roles seem to be forced upon one, but can be worked for. Honestly…. I can’t see Cat with a name currently. Maybe the Goatmaster? (Goblins give her the name~) Or maybe one can gain several names at once…. well we will see. =P (She just invite Bard to the tavern already… those two fit each other far to well xD And maybe take some lessons in nameology from her xD)

      Thanks for the chapter^^

      Like

      1. Note the fact that Black has made it a point to not reveal what he knows about the Name system. As we’ve seen Cat do things such as come into her name extremely fast from not knowing she couldn’t do that, it’s entirely possible for her to break more “rules”. This leaves open the potential of regenerating her Aspects, among the other various possibilities.

        Like

      2. George

        @Cheez she *has* been told her name of squire is permanently maimed, though, so that trick isn’t in play
        We’re more likely to see her lean on Struggle like she mentions here I think, until she transitions into a new name and gets fresh aspects that way.

        Like

      3. Nivek

        You left out “feed Heiress to the shadow-beast that represents her name” or perhaps “feed the Name Heiress to the shadow-beast that represents her name”

        Like

  6. Man Square Red

    Juniper was right when she pointed out the lack of respect for the chain of command that some officers seem to display. While the core of Cat’s forces is made up of friends and close allies, insubordination can be misinterpreted by both her enemies and other members of her own forces. Consider the way she dealt with the two deserters (a merciful death) and add to that the apparent lack of respect from her subordinates, and rumors might begin to spread that she does not care about discipline, or that she is soft-handed.

    One might argue that by curbing this sort of behavior she would be curbing the “freedom of exchange of ideas” or some other such notion, thus leading to a excessively rigid organizational culture. I disagree, since the legions were apparently designed around the idea of unit cohesion and discipline in combat (evidenced by the type of weapons they carry and the tactics applied). We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of maintaining an image of competence, discipline and professionalism in the upper ranks.

    Perhaps someone with more knowledge of war strategy might prove me wrong on that.

    One might also argue that the story/narrative favors the wise-mouthed, quick-witted group of characters, but the possible (and uncertain) benefits of relying on that don’t seem to outweigh by the risks.

    Lastly, the act of burning the manor was an open emotional display, it was petty. Heiress excels in the game in part because she knows how to detach or disguise her feelings from the situation at hand. If one does not know what she is feeling and thinking, one cannot predict what her next moves are, nor can they bait her into making a mistake (as she has done to Cat in the past).

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  7. Anon

    Physically crippled for good, lost a part of her soul, Squire as a name will be crippled (possibly forever), heavy casualties for the Fifteenth (including an unknown amount corrupted), and now the Lone Swordsman has an even greater army behind him… and they’ll be forced to protect Heiress (because the entire battle was because you must protect all citizens of the Empire). The immediate future isn’t looking too bright.

    Like

    1. stevenneiman

      How does the fact that they need to protect innocent civilians affect their behavior towards an enemy of the state who is also generally capable enough of protecting herself that Squire wouldn’t be held responsible if she got herself killed off?

      Like

      1. Anon

        Heiress isn’t an enemy of the state. On the contrary, she has had some victories in the current war. There is no concrete proof she did anything wrong, which is what that entire plan hinged upon. Squire wouldn’t be held responsible, unless there would be an army of thousands of ex-slaves and leaving Heiress to their tender mercies would mean executing a citizen of the empire by inaction, exactly like if they left that town to the mercies of their demonic foes. The motivation for the orcs and goblins was that all citizens of the empire need to be protected no matter how distasteful they find the job – either Squire ends up a liar, or helps Heiress deal with that entire mess.

        Also, Heiress would release that devil in a second if it came down to her life being at risk… in the middle of a large scale battle, the corruption would spread and cause more damage than fighting to protect Heiress would. And playing with demons is legal, despite it being extremely distasteful. It kinda sucks that Heiress always seems to beat Squire no matter what, but she is in a great position right now.

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  8. Sir

    I really think one of bards aspects is disrespect. The ability to annoy anyone.

    I also really want Bard to meet papa Black I can only imagine the banter.

    Like

  9. Akim

    Justification only matters to the just ( or similiar ) her answer, not yet given, to swordsman to how she can live with herself .. hero yadda yadda ..

    Like

  10. nick012000

    Cat should have just gone “Come at me, Heiress.”

    Then gotten Apprentice to bring back all the dead soldiers and mercenaries as a zombie army, and have them hit Heiress’s force from behind.

    Like

  11. stevenneiman

    I love Robber and Almorava so much. There is at least one thing that I’m pretty sure that Cat got wrong about her: I don’t think she needs practice to do something in the most annoying way possible. In fact, I’m pretty sure one of her Aspects is something along the lines of Irk. Even the things she says shouldn’t tick people off as much as they seem to, especially since some of them have senses of humor that would generally be unfazed by her behavior. And of course, whatever her methods, they are obviously extra effective against someone whose whole identity is based around being smug and arrogant.

    Like

  12. Alegio

    Well, this situation could go really good or really bad, on one hand heiress atacked and almost killed 4 aprentices of THE calamities wich could make them act pretty bad against her. And on the other hand we know things always go from bad to worse and the lone swordsman is in a pretty srtong position right now while cath is in a pretty bad one so… yep pretty shure shit is gonna hit the fan.

    And, did heiress just tried to fight an army of the legions of terror, with a genius tactitian, 4 nameds (one with struggle as trait) and all that while having a great advantage and being a villian? Im pretty shure thats suicide in this world.😄

    Like

    1. Nivek

      5 named (at least, I wouldn’t put it past Robber to have a goblin variant of the Bard archetype): Adjunct, Apprentice, Archer, Hunter and Squire. Additionally, at least three of them are in that grey zone between hero and villain (Archer, Hunter and Squire while Apprentice is pretty grey-zone as well)

      Like

  13. Yiiiiissssss!!

    My Robber x Bard pairing inches closer towards pun filled interracial coitus!

    The sad part about Akua is that she would have made a wonderful villain if she would just lose that massive chip on her shoulder. I mean, using the demon as effectively as she did was a well played move, but she overplayed her hand to stay and gloat. Now she’s at a stalemate instead of in a position of superiority. Then again, I forget that she also believes that Scribe isn’t dangerous, so…

    An interesting point raised in this chapter though: what sort of legal status do heroes hold in the Empire? I mean, heroes tell the truth, so would that mean a heroes testimony would be seen as more truthy, or will they go with a villain out of spite?

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  14. Berder

    This is absurd. KILL AKUA! Who cares about diplomatic problems if you can take care of someone who is willing to unleash a DEMON and still has it? She’s unquestionably going to do much worse in the future! This chapter is challenging my suspension of disbelief. I might just stop reading here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bart

      Because it always goes so well for the bad guys when the villains start slaughtering themselves and otherwise infighting in the middle of a battle with the good guys.😉

      Like

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