Chapter 16: Shambles

“See, this is exactly the kind of trouble I’d be avoiding by mind controlling the entire world. You fools are making my point for me, can’t you see?”
– Dread Emperor Imperious, shortly before being torn apart by an Ater mob

“That’s not the good news face,” I said.

There were only three of us in the war room: Juniper, Ratface and myself. We’d have a real staff meeting later today or tomorrow, but for now I’d kept the people to a minimum. When the whole family was at the table discussions tended to take longer, and for now what I wanted was a solid notion of what had happened in Callow while I was gone. And, to my unpleasant surprise, I’d been gone quite a bit longer than I’d thought: three months as of the morning I woke up. Considering Summer had already been probing the borders when I’d left and being well aware that Heiress was going to go full bastard the moment I disappeared, I was not expecting a basket of flowers. Yet the sheer dourness on the Hellhound’s face gave me pause. I glanced at Ratface – he wasn’t looking any happier. Well, at least it was unlikely to be worse than having my heart stolen by an angry Winter god. Weeping Heavens, let it not be worse than having my heart stolen by an angry Winter god. I firmly believed that was not too high of a bar to set for this conversation, but already I was getting the beginnings of a headache.

“Everything’s fucked,” Ratface flatly contributed.

“Fucked how,” I prompted. “That’s the important part.”

“Military affairs first,” Juniper said. “We are at war on at least two fronts, possibly up to five.”

I missed the days when two mortal enemies had been the upper limit, not the starting point.

“Summer,” I counted out. “Heiress?”

“Diabolist,” Ratface corrected grimly.

“She transitioned?” I said. “Shit. I had my money on her aiming for Dread Empress off the bat.”

“You weren’t the only one,” my Supply Tribune said. “Everybody’s wondering what her game is, right now.”

“A lot of people dying, if I had to venture I guess,” I grunted. “All right, Juniper, lay it on me. Summer. What are we dealing with?”

“We don’t have hard numbers,” the Hellhound replied. “Trying to scry them lost two mages their eyesight.”

The dream I’d had before waking up in Creation was still fresh in my mind – it didn’t feel like a memory, something that would fade in time or become less vivid. A Name dream was the closest equivalent I could come up with, and even those didn’t feel quite as… tangible, afterwards. Considering some of the things I’d seen Summer do in that sequence, I wasn’t all that surprised scrying them was dangerous. It must have been like staring straight into the sun.

“But you have guesses,” I said.

She nodded, and tapped her thick fingers against the map spread across the table to get my attention. There were two red stones set in southern Callow: one on Dormer, the other on Holden. Considering those two were the closest Callowan cities to the Waning Woods, why they were marked as Summer strongholds needed no explanation.

“We’ve received intelligence from General Sacker that was collected from refugees of both cities,” Juniper gravelled. “One of them was former Royal Guard, so we can put more stock in her assessment of force numbers. At least five thousand both times, and we’re fairly sure it wasn’t the same army.”

Ten thousand godsdamned fairies. No wonder she’d looked like someone had shot Aisha, earlier. Even the few hundred lesser fae we’d had to contain in Marchford had inflicted rough losses on the Fifteenth, and unlike those poor expendable bastards Summer would have titled fae leading their hosts.

“Have they moved since taking the cities?” I asked.

“No,” my general said. “Not on any large scale, anyway. They’re sending raiding parties but nearly all of them are headed towards our second problem.”

The orc did not need to point at the black stone set over Liesse for me to know what she was talking about.

“She shouldn’t have any forces to speak of,” I said. “I had the Ruling Council strike down her right to anything but a city guard.”

And her own personal retinue, a privilege granted to Praesi highborn that not even I could touch. Given her high birth the number allowed was not negligible – a thousand men – but still very far from an army.

“She doesn’t care about the Council anymore,” Ratface said. “No one does, Cat. But we’ll talk about that mess later.”

A trickle of the fury that went through me at those words must have shown on my face, because when the dark-eyed Taghreb looked at me he paled. I took a long breath, calming myself. It did not escape my notice that the temperature in the war room had significantly cooled. Joy, another power that’ll start backfiring if I don’t learn how it works, I thought. Just what I needed.

“She’s hired mercenaries,” Juniper said. “Levantines, Helikeans and allegedly some drow.”

“The last bunch she hired was wiped out to the last man,” I frowned. “By us, even.”

“She scraped the bottom of the barrel in Mercantis,” Ratface said. “But over half her people are from the Wasteland and those will be reliable. She’s pretty much taken over the Truebloods.”

“And her mother’s done nothing about this?” I said, surprised.

“Her mother is fighting her own war in Wolof,” the tanned man replied. “Against a nephew trying to overthrow her and the Legions trying to contain the angry beehive the city turned into.”

“The Empress intervened,” I said.

“With a light touch,” Juniper grunted. “But she can’t allow the kind of summons they’re throwing at each other to spill out into the Wasteland. There’s reports of a demon being used.”

I didn’t ask what kind – any kind was bad enough. That meant no reinforcements from Praes, which was as much a relief as it was a problem. We’d be on our own for this.

“Praesi,” I said. “So, household troops and mages?”

“A lot of mages,” Ratface said. “And with Liesse currently packed with refugees, I don’t need to tell you how bad that could get.”

“If she so much as sacrifices a single man she’s rebelling,” I coldly said.

“She’s already rebelling, Foundling,” Juniper said. “She’s been summoning devils to pit against the fae – your Council made laws against that. And you don’t assemble an illegal army of ten thousand if you intend to return to the fold afterwards.”

“She’s reached her end game, then,” I muttered. “Fuck. It’s always trouble to fight Praesi when they’re cornered. Everybody knows that.”

There was no longer any debate about whether or not Heiress – no, Diabolist, I needed to remember that – was ending up on the chopping block by the end of this. She’d given me an excuse to see her head on a pike and she knew I would not allow it to pass me by. Which meant that, by the end of her play she intended to be beyond any sanctions I could inflict. Was she trying to carve out her own kingdom in southern Callow? That would be building on sand, she was hated there.

“All right,” I finally said, still digesting the news. “Those two are covered. Now what’s the rest?”

Juniper glanced at Ratface, who shrugged then cleared his throat.

“Duchess Kegan has put the Duchy of Daoine on war footing,” he said. “She’s mobilizing both her army and the Watch, and she’s refused to explain why.”

“Oh come on,” I barked. “I already conceded Council authority doesn’t extend to Daoine. What the Hells more does she think she’s going to get by rebelling?”

“We don’t think she’s rebelling, not since last week anyway,” Juniper said. “She’s imprisoned Praesi in the duchy but she hasn’t killed them and she hasn’t declared war on the Empire.”

“Deoraithe don’t declare war,” I replied flatly. “You realize there’s a one going on when you’re neck deep in Watch.”

“I said the same thing, but then Robber returned from the south,” Ratface said.

“Special Tribune Robber,” Juniper sternly corrected.

Considering how much grief she’d given me over promoting the goblin, I was more than a little amused she was now insisting on the proper address. It wasn’t that she’d disagreed that Robber with a detached cohort would bleed Akua’s forces in the south, the orc was well aware of what the vicious little bastard could do. But removing an ‘insubordinate wretch’ like him from the usual chain of command and the supervision it entailed had not sat well with her. She was Legion to the bone, though: now that he had the position she wouldn’t let anyone dismiss the respect it was supposed to carry. Not even Robber himself, much as he tried.

“Yes, Special Tribune Robber,” Ratface said, barely refraining from rolling his eyes.

He was going to be paying for that later, by the look on the Hellhound’s face.

“He broke into Liesse with a tenth,” the Supply Tribune continued. “And found out the Diabolist has Deoraithe stashed below the Ducal Palace, at the centre of some sort of array.”

I raised an eyebrow, reluctantly impressed.

“Her laboratory had to be a regular fortress,” I said. “He managed to get through the wards?”

“Not exactly,” Juniper growled.

“He ran into the Thief,” Ratface said, eyeing me carefully.

“She was bound to turn up eventually,” I sighed. “I’ll get furious about her meddling when I can spare the time. So, captive Deoraithe and the Duchess mobilizing her troops. Might not be rebellion, then.”

“We can’t afford the risk that it is,” Juniper said. “Marshal Ranker pulled the Twelfth Legion from Summerholm to reinforce her at Denier in case she needs to deny the crossing.”

Ranker would be horribly outnumbered, I frowned. Eight thousand legionaries against what, a conservative estimate of twenty thousand at least a fourth of which was Watch? Ranker’s Fourth Legion was heavy on the sappers, since the core of it had been raised from the tribe she’d once ruled over as Matron, but there was only so much preparation could do.

“Marshal Grem should be in charge,” I said. “What has he been doing?”

“He deferred operational command,” the Hellhound gravelled. “He’s need in the Vales.”

“Which brings us to our fourth problem,” Ratface said. “The Principate is moving.”

“Godsdamnit,” I cursed. “Is there anyone who’s not trying to invade us right now?”

There was pause.

“The Golden Bloom,” the Taghreb said.

“Don’t you bring the fucking elves into this, Ratface,” I said. “We already have a net surplus of genocidal maniacs.”

“The Tower’s used the emergency channels to inform everyone of general rank or higher that the Golden Bloom is phasing out of Creation,” Juniper told me.

I rubbed the bridge of my nose.

“Last time they did that was was when Triumphant was kicking around, right?” I moaned.

I ignored the twin ‘may she never return’ the other two spoke, while pressing their knuckles to their foreheads.

“That’s not a no,” I decided. “And just like that, Diabolist kicks up the priority list. Fucking Hells.”

“Most likely, yes” Ratface grimly agreed.

“If One Eye’s staying at the border, that means we have three full Legions sitting this out,” I said.

The First, Tenth and Eleventh. Considering a dragon and a vampire ran the last two, I could at least find a silver lining in the fact that their absence would limit collateral damage. Two thirds of the Tenth Legion were undead mostly because General Catastrophe had the nasty habit of torching his own soldiers as well as the enemy. What that would do close to a major city I preferred not to think about.

“The Marshal has sent word he does not believe the Principate seriously intends to make an invasion attempt,” the Hellhound said. “The two principalities at the border assembled their armies, but they don’t have the men to breach the Vales.”

“They’re just acting up so our Legions can’t leave,” I grimaced. “We could call that bluff.”

“We can’t afford a slugging match with the First Prince when our own backyard’s on fire, Cat,” Ratface said. “She gets to have this one.”

How lovely, that the old trend of Procer screwing over Callow continued no matter who was in charge of it. There were some permanent constants in Creation, like the Tower being a pile of horrors beyond human understand and the Principate always being run by a bunch of rapacious assholes. One of these days, Cordelia Hasenbach and I were going to sit down and have a nice little chat over the subject. Knives might be involved.

“So your mother’s in charge of Imperial response, then,” I said, eyes flicking to Juniper.

“General Istrid,” the orc replied, galaring, “has seniority. She’s currently mustering north of Vale. Her own Sixth Legion has been joined by General Sacker’s Ninth already. The Fifth under General Orim is supposed to be joining them, but has been delayed.”

Orim the Grim and his boys served as Laure’s garrison, so I supposed we’d arrived to the part of the conversation where I was going to get absolutely livid.

“Tell me,” I ordered.

Ratface swallowed loudly.

“Foundling,” Juniper said. “Your shadow’s moving. Cut it the Hells out. It’s not the Supply Tribune’s fault your Ruling Council collapsed.”

Surprised, I glanced behind me and found my shadow still as it should be. I raised an eyebrow. Juniper wasn’t the type to exaggerate, to I’d take her word for it.

“Sorry, Ratface,” I said. “Picked up something in Arcadia, it’s making my Name act up.”

The Hellhound’s eyes narrowed.

“Is that why you’ve turned into a botched weather ritual?” she asked. “Learn to control it before we march. If you can make ice at will it has useful implications for our supply train.”

Only Juniper, I mused, would respond to my usurping a part of Winter by trying to make me into the Fifteenth’s personal magic coldbox. I coughed to hide my amusement.

“I’ll get right on it, General,” I said. “Tell me about Laure, Supply Tribune.”

“Approximately two weeks after you disappeared into Arcadia,” Ratface said, “Murad Kalbid and Satang Motherless executed a coup in the capital.”

I closed my eyes and counted to ten. I’d tried, I had, to involved Praesi in ruling Callow. I’d held up my part of the deal I’d struck with the High Lords on the Empress’ side. I should have remembered that even if they were Malicia’s tigers, they were still fucking tigers. They’d always strike when they smelled weakness.

“And they succeeded?” I asked, eyes still closed.

“The two Callowan members of the Council are gone,” the dark-eyed man said. “Sister Abigail was killed in broad daylight, allegedly by members of the Guild of Assassins. Baroness Kendal was wounded, but she managed to flee and no body was found.”

I opened my eyes.

“Her Dread Majesty’s representative?” I prompted.

“Disappeared,” Ratface said. “If anyone knows where, they’re not telling. The usurpers are turning over every rock in Laure looking for her so it’s probably not their doing.”

“Oh, they’re not going to be finding that woman anytime soon,” I murmured. “So they murdered their way to the top, like good little Wastelanders. Then they declared martial law?”

“Across all of Callow,” Ratface agreed. “There’s been rioting in every major city as a consequence.”

I cursed in Kharsum, which had the Hellhound frowning. She kept telling me my accent was horrible, more offended by that than the rough language.

“How bad?”

“Bad enough General Istrid is mustering outside Vale because she believes if she tries entering the city she’ll have to take it by force,” Juniper said.

“The governors you appointed, the Callowans,” Ratface said. “They’re denouncing the current Council as illegitimate and refuse to answer to Imperial authorities until you ‘restore order’.”

“They weren’t sure I would come back,” I groaned.

“Neither were the usurpers,” Ratface said. “They took a risk by making their move.”

I chewed over that for a while.

“Why’s Orim stuck in Laure?” I asked. “Those two are treacherous pricks, but they aren’t idiots – after the initial riot they should have lined the pocket of the Guilds to calm things down in the city.”

“They don’t have the treasury,” the dark-haired man said, sounding amused. “When they tried to take it they found the vaults empty.”

“Then who the Hells has it?” I asked.

“Guild of Thieves,” Juniper informed me. “They left a note.”

“They have to know they’re declaring war on me by doing that,” I frowned.

“Special Tribune Robber found the source of their courage in Liesse,” Ratface said.

I blinked. Before I’d left, he’d told me that the Guild was under new management: a new King of Thieves had taken their reins. No, not a king – a queen.

“Thief,” I hissed. “The Thief did this. She runs them now?”

“As far as we can tell,” Ratface said. “She, uh, passed a message through the Special Tribune. If you have an issue with what she’s been doing, you can take it up with her in Laure.”

I narrowed my eyes at him.

“You’re leaving something out,” I said.

“She was rather unpleasant about the phrasing,” the Supply Tribune replied frankly.

I decided not to push. I was pissed enough as was and more anger wasn’t going to make me think any clearer. I leaned back in my seat and closed my eyes again, thinking this through. I had six months to either break the Summer Court or force a peace settlement on them. I hated the thought of giving Akua any longer to prepare, but bloodying my army on the walls of Liesse when there were still flame-happy demigods wandering the countryside would be a major blunder. I couldn’t just march the Fifteen south, though. I needed General Istrid’s army in the field, and they weren’t moving until the Fifth Legion joined them. Juniper’s mother was reckless but not even she would take on Summer with only eight thousand men. So that meant I had to clean up the mess in Laure before taking care of the rest. Opening my eyes, I set my hands on the table.

“I’ll need Nauk and his men ready to march,” I told Juniper. “And Robber’s cohort. Laure takes priority for now.”

“We’d be thinning the defences around the portal,” the Hellhound said.

“We’re emptying them,” I said. “Winter’s dealt with, at the moment. I bought us at least six months until anything goes down.”

Six times the coming of my title, the King of Winter had said. Overly dramatic phrasing but at least I had a number.

“Then the rest of the Fifteenth be moving as well,” Juniper said.

“Six months, Hellhound, is also our timetable for wrecking Summer,” I said. “I hope you’ve been thinking about ways to kill fae.”

“Oh, Foundling,” the orc replied happily, baring her teeth. “I have been thinking of precious little else.”

I was not too proud to admit to myself that Juniper scared me a little, sometimes.

“Give Nauk two thousand men,” I told her after a moment. “That should be more than enough. That leaves you a little over full legion to work with, no?”

“More,” my general replied. “As of yesterday’s census, the Fifteenth Legion now numbers eight thousand soldiers.”

I blinked.

What?” I spluttered.

“The south is literally on fire, Cat,” Ratface said. “And we have a reputation for both taking in Callowan soldiers and killing anything that invades the region. We’ve had a lot of recruits pouring in.”

“As well as some less desirable individuals,” Juniper added coldly. “The nephew of the defunct Countess of Marchford showed up last month.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“He tried to take back the city when it was under fae siege and occupied by what’s pretty much two full legions?”

Nobility wasn’t as inbred in Callow as it was in the Principate, so that level of blatant idiocy was a little surprising.

“He’s renounced his claim on Marchford publicly, actually,” Ratface said. “Says he wants an audience with you, won’t talk to anyone else.”

“He’s in a cell,” the Hellhound said. “I’ve no patience for agitators.”

“I’ll look into it,” I said.

Another thing for the list. There either needed to be more hours in a day or I needed to find a way to get rid of sleep entirely.

“We’ll have a more formal meeting to plan our operations, but get Nauk ready to go as soon as possible,” I said, rising to my feet.

I made to leave, but turned when Juniper called out.

“Foundling.”

I met her eyes.

“Catherine,” she said, more softly. “What happened in Arcadia?”

“You’ll get the whole story when everyone’s there,” I said. “But in short? I fucked up. The Winter King was playing me before I ever stepped foot in there.”

I clenched my fingers, then unclenched them.

“Doesn’t matter,” I finally added. “I think I got what we need to win this war.”

The hourglass had already been flipped and time was slipping away. What I’d thought I needed was more of it, but I might have found a way around the need. I was the Duchess of Moonless Nights, nowadays. And Apprentice had once told me that high-ranking fae could open portals both in and out of Arcadia.

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68 thoughts on “Chapter 16: Shambles

    1. Morgenstern

      No longer needing to “convince” some fae to open a portal for them, like Black and Warlock had to…. 😉 That is, if she can find out HOW and get the grips on it. Apprentice sure has the technical know-how, but implementing it might be a bit more difficult. Still…. portals. =P

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    1. Interesting idea: can she open something like a Lesser Breach? I realise that rules for crossing over from Arcadia are different than the ones for Hell (if anything, Arcadia is a similar position to the Creation as the Creation is to Hell), but maybe there are ways to bind Fae?

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      1. Haihappen

        I second that idea. Perhaps Masego can whip up a binding around the portal? Caveat: Binding lesser nobility sworn to other higher lords&ladies could result in “ruffled feathers”. Apart from that, Is there a reason why the fae would even USE that portal? It surely has “By entering this portal, you accept the term and conditions” written on it.

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    1. Haihappen

      I guess she would be able to persuade some, if, and thats a big IF, the King of Winter did not issue a policy of not interfering with his little plaything.
      He surely has an endgame that may not be apparent, apart from being a suicidal immortal.
      Of course, by persuading, I mean “bribing”, and she should be very careful about the sort of promises she makes.

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  1. Gunslinger

    And so it begins. Lots of cool touches in this chapter such as Cat scaring poor ratface. I can’t imagine how scared the rebels would be once they find out Cat is back. She might hand them over to Apprentice to play with.

    On a side note the second last line doesn’t make much sense – “What I’d thought O needed was more of it, but I might have found a way around the need.”

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      1. Morgenstern

        It’s a typo… O is directly next to I…. o_Ô Just in case someone actually hasn’t noted although I would guess that was not the problem with understanding the sentence? Yeah, it’s about her probably being able to now open portals and thus *maybe* move a lot of people a lot faster (through Arcadia), as she is now of both planes. Unless, of course, they should somehow get lost in Arcadia on the way and lose time instead of win it (thinking of how Cat has lost three MONTHS in there during her little visist)… Seems the time can get faster AND slower in comparison, which is pretty shitty for such plans. It tends to come back to bite you when you least need it…. ^^

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  2. Nicole

    Ooooh, I love it!! talk about the ability to sneak attack! Wow! (at least against non-fae)

    I am soooo curious about all the new powers Catherine picked up. Edge of my seat!

    Excellent chapter 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nairne

      While that’s a very interesting point, I’m more interested in how she will dispatch her enemies.

      Suddenly two chapters a week seem like not much (still better than one though).

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Morgenstern

      … and non-MAGES, you seem to forgot. Akua has a heck of them, so it will definitely not work against her. Probably not against the other Praesi either. Might come in handy against Procer, though, when that jar of pickles is finally opened.

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      1. Dragrath

        The question is if Akua’s forces are still mages. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear she underwent something akin to the Dead Emperor guy(forget exact title/name oops) and converted her entire domain into a literal aspect of the hells as well she is a freaking Diobolist now… 0_o
        Luckily she is probably focused on currently sacrificing Summer by stealing their very existence as fuel for demonic rituals…

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    1. Morgenstern

      Power- and intimidation-wise, probably. 😉

      I’d argue there’s still some more lacking in terms of character, plans, hero-offing tactics etc., though 😉

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    1. Haihappen

      And before this is over, something or someone is gonna BURN. Hmm, how to kill a god made of magical energy? What substance to we know eats magic? *cackles away*

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      1. Nairne

        I’m sure that would be the reason for Masego, Science (ehm, Curiosity?). For Cat it would be more like Applied Science 🙂

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  3. Burnsy

    There are two Legions commanded by a vampire and a dragon?? Has that never come up before? That’s awesome.

    I wonder what those particular creatures are like in the Guideverse. We’ve seen pretty unique spins on most stereotypical monsters so far, so I’m looking forward to those two appearing in story at some point.

    Also I adore Cat. She’s so entertaining to watch, I can’t wait to see her rampaging her way across Callow.

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  4. So, Catherine thinks she has at least one advantage: a way around to spare time that consists of having the Fifteenth march through Arcadia. This way, she can come ahead of the deadline and solve all her problems in less than six months.

    What are the chances that she’ll run into the elves instead?

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      1. Haihappen

        Actually, Moving her Army through a portal to finish her objective ahead of schedule would result in them arriving in the nick of time for dramatic effect. Because the elves are not only big on the narrative imperative but also huge drama queens.

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    1. JackbeThimble

      The elves seem to be pretty strategically conservative. Picking a fight with a team of villains backed by half a legion and led by a de jure Fey duchess in Arcadia seems like it would involve quite a few irreplacable casualties, especially since she’s the enemy of their enemy anyway.

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  5. nipi

    “And Apprentice had once told me that high-ranking fae could open portals both in and out of Arcadia.”
    So she can now basically teleport armies across creation, Yes? Cant wait until Hellhound sees this.

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  6. Catherine Foundling: orphan, baby Calamity, undead-munitions-raiser, demon-killer, angel-scammer, Callowan nobel, Winter noble, creepy shadow-maker, teleport-spammer… walking supply chain refrigerator. xD

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    1. Haihappen

      Also, her heart is Frozen, and she just can’t Let It Go. Wait until she starts making snow and ice golems, filled to the brim with munitions and goblinfire as by the Foundling trade mark.

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      1. Nairne

        Can’t let it go. I wonder if that could become an aspect 😛 (probably not, as it’s a sentence, but maybe “Keep”?).

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  7. Am I the only one wondering if the Second, Third, Seventh, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Legions are ALL tied up in the Wasteland? Even going with the lower number mentioned for Sacker’s Eighth Legion of 8,000 to a Legion, that’s 40,000 Legionnaires with the effective operational command structure to be deployed against 4-5 different targets. I get that the craziness going on with the attempted coup in Wolof against Diabolist’s mother is a big deal, but FIVE Legions big a deal?

    I suppose if Malicia has deployed Two Legions on each side of the Wolof internal feud to contain their Demon and other summonings, that’d be four of those five Legions tied up, and maybe the fifth of those not otherwise engaged Legions is keeping Ater itself secure?

    Thirty-two thousand men seems like a lot for containment of Wolof though. What does everyone else think?

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    1. Kilimandaros

      Legions are four thousands strong, only fifteenth is eight thousands strong because of previous half-legion shenanigans. “even she would take on Summer with only eight thousand men” meant two legions: Istrid’s 6th and Sacker’s 9th. So it makes 20 thousands in Wastelands, 24 if you would also count 8th Legion (it isn’t listed in this chapter, you mistakenly listed it as Sacker’s). 24 thousands in whole pre-conquest Praes, we can’t really say how many might be needed somewhere else than Wolof. Problem is that 4 thousands of them are from green 14th Legion and 13th is heavy on cavalery which isn’t exactly useful in cities. However it still minor problems, big problem is that they are there to suppress not to burn everything to the ground. What can be a bit troublesome when thousands years old lineage of mages is infighting without pulling their punches.

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    2. jonnnney

      I’m guessing Wolof is merely the most pressing concern rather than the only concern. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a legion keeping an eye on the Goblin tribes at all times and another in the Greenskin Marshes keeping an eye on the Watch/Orcs. They mentioned the Empress is using a light touch, so I would say two legions keeping the Hellspawn out of the Wasteland.

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    1. RandomFan

      Duchess of *Moonless Nights*, not the calling on her new Fae-heir powers. She has Six *moonless nights* to bring peace from the battlefield before she loses her heart forever.

      It’s not a use limit. Or if it is, it’s fae trickery where it’s masked as a time limit.

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      1. RoflCat

        I mean, given how the duke summoned squalls for his use, maybe it is ALSO a use limit.

        As in when she uses her title in combat, it would also turn the location into a moonless night.
        Alternatively her power spikes under moonless nights.

        But hey, maybe that’ll be how she gets back at Winter, by binding Arcadia to the concept of time.
        Instead of the Summer vs Winter being like a match of DotA or similar game that after the victory is decided the players all leave the game, then Spring or Autumn take over as the clean up crew.
        Make the cycle of season binding over the fae, so rather than a match that resets after reaching a conclusion, it’s a cycle that never ends.

        In Summer/Winter, their respective Court advances.
        Then in Spring/Autumn, the advancing Court loses their momentum. (and the current ruler may change here)

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      2. Captain Amazing

        I had thought she needed to be the Duchess of 6 more duchies, but your explanation makes much more sense.

        Like

  8. agumentic

    “Sister Abigail was killed in broad daylight, allegedly by members of the Guild of Assassins”

    Since no one else said it – RIP Abigail, we hardly knew ye. You seemed like a pretty cool old church gal.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. stevenneiman

    “You realize there’s [a] one going on when you’re neck deep in Watch”
    “the Tower being a pile of horrors beyond human [understand->understanding]”

    Well, this is a number of fine messes Cat’s in now. I wonder if Kairos’ plan to piss of Black is going to work.

    Like

  10. amc

    anyone else worried about how time in Arcadia doesn’t necessarily map to time in “reality”? Cat could take her legion on a “shortcut”, and show up 15 years later (or before!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dragrath

      Yeah though the before part could be interesting and there is a question if her new title/role in winter might allow her influence over how Arcadia messes with time, which like everything else in the realm surely follows story rules to the ultimate extreme meaning arriving exactly when the plot for a spun story calls for it. So presumably learning how to spin stories of Arcadia will be a means to control that time dilation…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. jonnnney

      I’m getting the feeling that the King does at least nominally want Cat to succeed so I’d say that the timing isn’t gonna fuck her up too bad. Plus Black and Warlock managed to reverse the time shenanigans so it isn’t a stretch that Apprentice could do the same.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Darkening

      Time flows faster or slower depending on how the wind is blowing or the whims of powerful fae, but I don’t believe it can run backwards.

      Like

  11. Captain Amazing

    I think it’s become clear now that Foundling’s group is starting to mimic the setup of the Calamities.

    The Squire, the student of Lord Black.

    Adjutant, her fiercely loyal second in command for Captain.

    Aprentice, son and protege of Warlock.

    Archer from Refuge, student of Ranger. (Notice how she tries to get in Catherine’s pants?)

    Finally, Thief, the embodiment of a criminal profession and ideological outsider, for Assassin.

    It’s uncanny and virtually has to be Role shenanegans. Black now has literal replacememts in place should he fail.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Nairne

        That’s a pretty poor distinction. I’m more inclined to believe Thief is more like Hunter. A name very slightly on the Hero side of the border.

        Like

    1. Gunslinger

      At this point I suspect erraticerrata is just teasing us and will never make him a name. I can get that though, the sheer awesomeness of a named Robber would shake creation

      Like

  12. alegio

    I go out and stop reading for 2 weeks and.. well, s”!t happens.

    Giving Heiress the name Diabolist is something I had not tought about but in retrospective makes lot of sense. She became the heiress of the old villians ways, demons, rituals, sacrifices, all that is what she now is trying to represent.

    Like

  13. callmesteve

    Some chapters are missing from the ToC: The backstories of Captain and Warlock, and probably others. I wanted to re-read those for the shock-and-awe factor, but darn if I can’t find them.

    Like

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