Closure

“The most important part of any summary execution is to remember to have fun and be yourself.”
– Dread Empress Malevolent II

The last time Alaya had come to Wolof was decades ago, when the ashes of the civil war were still warm. She’d gone to humble a rival and assert control on a stage all the High Lords would be avidly watching, and found victory. She’d not returned until now. The more years passed, the more desperate High Lady Tasia had become. Even when she’d thought she was winning, she had felt the noose beginning to tighten. Now the Dread Empress of Praes had returned to the oldest city in the Empire, one that boasted it alone had suffered no foreign occupation since the Miezans. Even the crusaders under Eleanor Fairfax had shied from those high walls and the horrors kept leashed behind them. A statement that had resounded lightly, coming from a host that had pulled down the Tower itself on the head of the most powerful madwoman to ever rule Praes. Alaya did not share Amadeus’ contempt for Dread Empress Triumphant, as it happened. Oh, she did not deny his reasons.

Triumphant had spent a generation of the Wasteland’s youth on foreign fields, forged the Principate through her massacres and managed to drive to war two empires separated from the Empire by an entire sea. It could not be denied that she had broken Praes so thoroughly that four decades had passed before war could be taken to the crusader kings that had carved realms out of the Wasteland’s meat. For all that, Triumphant had understood the nature of the Empire better than any Tyrant before or since. Under her rule there had been no betrayals, no scheming Chancellor or rebellious High Lords. All had been united in terror of the monster of monsters. It was not a sustainable method of rule, of course, as the swift collapse of Triumphant’s conquests has proved. Yet there were lessons to be learned from her successes, not to be dismissed for her penultimate failure.

For the Empire to function as a single, smoothly running entity, there could be no snake held close. Triumphant had achieved this through overwhelming might, Alaya had by censuring the Name out of existence. There could be no High Lords in a position to pose a threat, either. Instead of crucifying half of them and binding devils to the rest, she had achieved this by slowly and carefully destroying the influence of the Court in the ruling structure of the Empire. The only conflict among the highborn now was between the Moderates and her own followers, warring for her favour and backing. Having achieved both these conditions, what Dread Empress Malicia needed was terror. The ability to inflict large-scale destruction at will, to give pause to anyone who would threaten her position. A deterrent beyond argument. She’d once thought Amadeus could be this, but her dear friend was a scalpel and what she needed was an earthquake. Catherine might become this, given her affinity for destruction, but she was difficult to control and would need years to grow.

Alaya had sought alternatives and found one that suited, a keystone for the monument she had spent her entire life crafting. It would require sacrifice to be birthed, but if Malicia had to bleed it would be by her own design and no one else’s. Quietly amused at the thought, the Empress watched the legionaries pour through the gates of Wolof.

Taking the city by force, even with the three legions assembled here under Marshal Nim, would have been horrifically difficult. Wolof was the heart of sorcery in Praes, its ritual sites millennia old and its vaults of monsters deep and terrible. But the city had not stood united behind High Lady Tasia. It had been eating itself alive as Tasia’s nephew attempted to usurp her seat, all those powerful mages and hardened soldiers slaughtering each other in the streets. Sargon Sahelian had unleashed all the devils held by ancient pacts only to corner dearest Tasia into calling on a demon of Madness. Half the city had violently butchered itself merely from suffering its presence, until desperate rituals managed to banish it. And then Marshal Nim’s legions had calmly marched through the gate, wading through the sea of corpses. Fifty thousand dead, by the most conservative estimates. The contracts of at least a hundred devils had been twisted beyond control by the demon and the creatures were still loose in Wolof, Legion mages sweeping through to bind and banish them wherever they could be found.

Many would escape into the Wasteland, roaming for years before they were finally caught. No matter. It would occupy the days of new High Lord of Wolof long enough he would not realize his power was being curtailed until it was too late for Wolof’s influence to recover in this lifetime. Sargon was still among the living; this much had been confirmed. He was under Legion protection and would remain there until he swore allegiance to Alaya. The Dread Empress set her mount to a trot, the silent Sentinels surrounding her scaring even legionaries enough that they gave the procession a wide berth. The ancient fortress at the heart of the city had been breached this morning, its wards shattered and the few remaining loyal household troops put to the sword by the newly-raised Fourteenth Legion. They’d been in need of tempering, Marshal Nim had told her over a cup of wine. Forcing a dug-in position with heavy mage presence would bloody them enough they would be ready for the inevitable war with Procer. It was not as inevitable as the ogre thought, but that was a hand best kept in the dark until the very last moment.

High Lady Tasia had been captured by noon, after much struggle. Two full cohorts had died in the struggle before mages managed to break her power. She’d drained the life of hundreds to replenish her vitality when wounded and almost managed to collapse the fortress on the soldiers of the Fourteenth with some sort of ancient artefact. It was an undeniable confirmation that Alaya had been correct to accept her surrender decades ago, no matter how Amadeus had chafed. If she could do this much when spent, how much blood would it have taken to break her in the fullness of her power? Now the proud aristocrat that schemed to destroy Alaya for so many years was bound and shackled, unable to call on even a speck of sorcery. The Empress could have ordered her executed, and would, but a conversation was owed before. An old enemy was dear as an old friend, in some ways, and some courtesies were due. Tasia had almost as much of a hand in what the Wasteland had been shaped to become as Alaya herself, after all.

No unnecessary risks were taken. Additional runic shackles of different patterns were added to ensure Tasia would not be able to use a last moment surprise, every inch of her body inspected for weapons and artefacts. The room where they would speak would be in the city, not her fortress, and heavily warded against dimensional interference. No hidden space would be emptied to destroy them both. The Sentinels spread out around the beautiful stone manse the Empress had chosen for this matter, some following her inside but remaining at the door of the salon she entered. Tea had already been served when Alaya entered – her own brew, a precautions perhaps unnecessary but taken regardless – though the fragrantly steaming porcelain pot remained full. With her hands bound, Tasia had been unable to pour herself a cup. The High Lady of Wolof was bruised and not even her poise could hide her exhaustion, but she had not been touched since her capture. Torture of an old enemy was very much gauche, after all, beneath women such as them. Even in this state, Tasia was beautiful. She did not seem a day older than thirty, her smooth dark skin and golden eyes something even a young girl would envy.

“Your Dread Majesty,” the High Lady of Wolof greeted her.

“Dearest Tasia,” Malicia smiled, taking the teapot in hand and pouring two cups deftly.

She waited for an invitation before seating herself across the elegant table for two. Hands still shackled, the other Soninke sipped at her cup before chuckling languidly

“My favourite,” she complimented. “You always did play the Game beautifully.”

“Iron sharpens iron,” Malicia replied in a backhanded compliment.

Tasia leaned back against the cushioned back of her seat, a minor breach of decorum her old enemy would never have allowed herself if she’d thought she would survive the day.

“It was the irony of it I could not resist,” Tasia said. “All that gold you poured into Procer, turned to silver and sent to my coffers. You might as well have been funding me yourself.”

“It was a long game,” Malicia said. “And an expensive one. Truly, ruining you cost more than the Conquest itself.”

“You knew since the beginning, then,” the High Lady sighed, almost admiring. “Nigh forty years of preparation for a single blow. I am in awe, Malicia. We’ve not seen the likes of you in centuries.”

You have never seen the likes of me, Alaya thought. And never will. That was your mistake from the beginning, measuring me through names long dead. It would have been tawdry to gloat, and so the thought remained unspoken.

“I truly do regret that you will not see the coming years,” the Empress said, genuinely saddened. “That you must leave us at all. A mind like yours, Tasia, the wonders I could have crafted with it.”

“It was always going to be this way,” Tasia said gently. “You are smothering the soul of Praes one exquisite scheme at a time. I honour the method, but despise the intent.”

Alaya conceded the point silently. A waste, but perhaps an inevitable one. Tasia had been one of the few highborn in the Wasteland to grasp her intent. It was her tragedy that she’d lacked the ability to do anything about it.

“Would you like to tell me your plan?” Malicia offered.

The High Lady sipped her tea, considering the matter.

“Yes,” she decided. “You must have grasped the shape of it, by now.”

“Your daughter to replace me,” the Empress said. “Yourself holding the strings.”

“She chafed at the notion,” Tasia confessed. “But as long as I held her father, she would have submitted.”

“He fled the city not long before she betrayed you, I believe,” Malicia said.

“He must have been in contact with her for years under my nose,” she sighed. “Such a talented man. He would have made a fitting consort, had he any ambition at all.”

“Callow?” Malicia asked.

“Cowed through diabolism,” Tasia smiled. “I’d gathered a great many contracts, before my nephew usurped them. As for your Duni hound, he could be leashed through his attachment to that Callowan girl. With him under our thumb the rest of the Calamities would have fallen in line.”

It never ceased to amaze Alaya how, even after decades of Amadeus crushing them in every conflict, the High Lords never quite managed to understand exactly what they were dealing with. They would all have been dead within the year, even if their fall broke Praes for generations.

“You believed your agents in the Legion would bring enough to your side, then,” Malicia said.

“Ah,” Tasia breathed. “You found them?”

“I have hooks in the minds of every officer of legate or above in the Wasteland,” the Empress said. “Your attempts to turn them were doomed from inception.”

The other woman smiled.

“A precaution to check me or the Carrion Lord, I wonder?” she said.

Amadeus was not aware that she’d surpassed the limitations of Speaking, that much was true. By feeding her aspect of Rule into the act she could plant commands without ever saying them out loud, something not even Wekesa could reproduce. Maddie would be furious if he knew, but there were risks Alaya was not willing to take and twelve thousand men in Praes she did not control directly was one of them. As for Tasia’s insinuation, it was only that. Amadeus would never turn on her, not even if it killed him. If there was one person she could trust in Creation it was him, even if in the dark of night the fear came to her. Alaya would not be ruled by old wounds, and chose to match faith for faith.

“I take it you have no true notion of what Akua is doing in Liesse?” Malicia said.

“I’d believed it to be wards, to keep the Squire at bay,” Tasia said. “Evidently I was wrong. She must have infiltrated my spies.”

“Mine as well,” Malicia laughed. “Though not as well as she thinks.”

“You’ve been watching her since the beginning, then?” the High Lady asked.

“Oh yes,” the Empress murmured. “I went to a great deal of trouble to get her the materials she needed without her catching on.”

The golden-eyed woman hid her surprise, but not quite well enough. Alaya pretended not to notice – Tasia was quite weary, some allowances must be made.

“You don’t intend to destroy her work,” she said.

“No,” Malicia said, savouring the fragrant tea. “She’s truly brilliant, your daughter. She would be a match for Warlock, were he thirty years younger. I must compliment you on the education you afforded her.”

“Talent must be fostered,” Tasia waved away, managing to inject grace to the gesture even shackled. “A weapon, is it?”

“The likes of which have not been seen since the birth of the Kingdom of the Dead,” Malicia said.

“Yet you do not intend to make use it, after taking it from her,” the High Lady of Wolof said.

“I imagine she will unleash it at least once, when dear Catherine comes for her,” the Empress replied. “It will be demonstration enough. A deterrent, Tasia. It will be the deterrent we have always needed. A weapon even Cordelia Hasenbach fears.”

“A lesser ambition, this,” the other woman chided.

“I would rather rule the Empire forever than the continent for a year, darling,” Malicia replied. “A mere difference in intent.”

They remained silent for a moment after that, the comfortable quiet between two women who had for so long tried to ruin the other.

“She may yet triumph,” Tasia finally said. “She has the best of me and of her father as well. If what we are could ever beat you, it will be through her.”

“She will try,” Malicia said sadly. “They always do.”

Finishing her tea, the High Lady of Wolof met her enemy’s eyes.

“The cup,” she said. “Coated with poison before I was taken here?”

“Sweetsleep,” the Empress agreed.

“What a soft touch you are,” Tasia teased. “It could have gone either way, couldn’t it?”

“Yes,” the Dread Empress of Praes lied.

“Liar,” the High Lady of Wolof smiled fondly, and her eyes closed.

She took no breath after that.

“Goodbye, Tasia,” Alaya murmured. “I think I will miss you, if only a little.”

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46 thoughts on “Closure

    1. dumdum

      This chapter pains me. I honestly think Malicia’s chapters deserve this stories title more than every single of main chapters and Amadeus’ POVs combined. This is evil. Main chapters are theme park hero stories and Amadeus’ is an antihero at best.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. MagnaMalusLupus

        And yet without the practical aspects of the soldiers on the field this would all be no more than courtly intrigues with no sense of stakes. You need both to tell this story, and Malicia’s might be fun occasionally, many of them would inevitably be waiting and posturing which would be boring to read after a few. They serve better as rare treats than as the meat of Cat’s story. And, in the end, this is Cat’s story; Malicia had hers 20+ years before.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Letouriste

        Give cat some time^^ she is only a beginner at this game.also,malicia pov is pretty boring.we like that only because they are rare and on point.

        You are wrong about Amadeus btw:/ he is totally evil.the way evil has always been.malicia and him are pretty similar,only means are different

        Like

  1. stevenneiman

    Interesting that even the woman who is trying to destroy every doomed bit of the Praes that once was still observes villainous decorum. I guess some respect is due to anyone who can even figure out as much as Tasia did of Malicia’s schemes, even if it was too little, too late.

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  2. Shequi

    And so the Truebloods pass from existence. With Wolof now in Malicia’s hands, the repositories of Sorcery and knowledge there will pass into the tower, I’d assume. It’s beyond thinking of for Malicia not to plunder those, unless this Sargon can somehow play an absolute blinder from a position of weakness.

    Like

  3. maresther23

    In the old times, myths and legends were a tool to teach the young about the world, to guide them through the trials of life. Here, in a quiet conversation we see the world, where war is just an other tools of politics.

    Like

  4. The quietist

    I wonder if Malicia is making a mistake on a few levels.

    1) Cat, if she survives, will likely not take kindly to Malicia knowingly having let this new weapon be tested in Callow. If she dies problem solved but then the problem of controlling Callow returns, and Black is likely narked.

    2) Relying on superweapons is a bad idea. Malicia and Black’s success was built on recognising this and now she seems to be losing sight of it. True she plans to use it as a deterrent not for conquest and will still have the Legions which avoids the classic mistakes, but in fact it could hasten the conflict she’s trying to avoid. Cordelia is convinced that Praes is expansionist and will likely just see it as preparation for conquest so presses ahead and the Heroes, who are likely soon to be leaving the League, will be given a clear heroic target to destroy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wombat

    “By feeding her aspect of Rule into the act she could plant commands without ever saying them out loud”
    This is making me wonder if she had planted commands in Catherine’s head, and if so, what they are…

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    1. Blinks

      I think she’s too smart for that. Black spoke up about the problem of lying to his student before. This could well end up much the same. Any such command would almost inevitably show it’s face at an awful time and it’s a coin flip if it’d be awful for The Empress or Catherine.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Letouriste

      Cat is growing stronger,so is diabolist.i doubt either of these two can be killed by speaking now.too much weight in creation.
      Putting a command in a named is bound to turn badly for you given how villainous conduct work in this universe^^
      I doubt she did that.she could have done that in her officers though.ominious

      Like

    3. KageLupus

      I doubt it. Rule as an aspect is tied very much into the hierarchy of the Empire. Officers in the Legions are quite obviously going to buy into the power of the Dread Empress and the Tower. Cat considers herself a Callowan who is using the Empire as much as it is using her. I am sure that she would feel the weight of Rule if Malicia ever Spoke at her, but the underlying belief that she has to obey because the Empress commanded it is not there.

      Like

  6. Malicia went to Wrobel ten years ago (or whatever the place is named) and “She’d not returned until now.”

    This implies she hadn’t returned FROM there until now. Took me awhile to figure out. I thought you were saying the Tower was there or something. Poor wording.

    It was not as inevitable as the ogre thought, but that was a hand best kept in the dark until the very last moment

    How is avoiding a war with Procer a “hand?” Is this refering to something that wasn’t introduced intil later in this same chapter? (Akua’s weapon). If so, you have to remember, EE, that your readers don’t know what’s coming like you do.

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    1. Letouriste

      ? I don’t see anything strange in the way he wrote that(second quote).
      I mean,even if the autor didn’t reveal the hand in this chapter,that still would have been ok.

      Like

    2. narcoduck

      What?
      “The last time Alaya had come to Wolof was decades ago, when the ashes of the civil war were still warm. She’d gone to humble a rival and assert control on a stage all the High Lords would be avidly watching, and found victory. She’d not returned until now.”
      The first sentence establishes that it’s been decades since her last visit detailed in Extra Chapter: Reign. The last sentence finishes the thought that now she has finally come back to finish the job. Given the flow of the paragraph, the thought reads like “The last time Alaya had come to Wolof was decades ago […]. She’d not returned [to Wolof] until now.” Also, the Tower is in Ater as established in the last two books.

      For you second grief, how is a character referring to coming information the reader doesn’t have yet a problem? It builds suspense as more of the plot is revealed. Taking this as an example, the Empress internally monologues about the political conditions for her reign to succeed, one condition (terror) being missing. Then, EE throws in a stray thought about the inevitable war with Procer not being so inevitable. Up to this point, everyone including Cat and Black have been planning for it, but the Empress has a “hand best kept in the dark.” My curiosity is piqued at this point, a question in my mind as the chapter proceeds; what is she planning? And finally the chapter concludes with her “hand” being Akua’s secret weapon, the terror that the Empress needs, neatly tying up her thoughts for this chapter.

      Note how the readers still don’t know what the shape Akua’s weapon takes even though the Empress definitely knows. And that’s good, because it’ll be a surprise when Cat eventually faces off against it. Suspense is all about keeping the readers in the dark, revealing more and more until the opportune moment. The showdown at Liesse has been building up ever since the epilogue of Book II, all of Akua’s interludes hinting more and more what shape that will take.

      What this chapter told me is that Akua thinks the Empress doesn’t know what Akua’s weapon is, but the Empress does know to the exclusion of all others. And now the question in my mind is how will Cat react to the Empress knowing all along what Akua was building, especially after what I assume will be a climactic and bloody battle in the heart of Callow.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Jaime

    Every time the reference to flying fortresses appear in the story, I can’t help but think about the song Stargazer by Rainbow… It surely makes a fitting theme for crazy villains…

    Like

  8. Letouriste

    Hum…why I feel like cat will destroy that mighty weapon?^^

    Btw,her name is really terrifying.every officer under her command? Would be an hell for cat to fight against…exept malicia talked about praes,not the troops on callow ground…

    Like

      1. delspaig

        “I’m more intrigued by the fact that Cat’s Third Aspect is Fall. If Malicia pushes against Cat, I wonder what Fall could do to Malicia’s position and planning.”

        It might end up being a lot more straightforward than that. Diabolist turned Liesse into a flying fortress? Cat comes to bring about its Fall 😀

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Lightdefender

    “I would rather rule the Empire forever than the continent for a year, darling,” Malicia replied. “A mere difference in intent.”

    But better to rule the continent forever, hmm?

    Twenty years ago she conquered Callow. This current fiasco will leave her with the wasteland firmly under her control, and perhaps Deorthe firmly under Catherine’s. In another 20 years it might be time to pick up the free cities, or maybe only one or two of them. And then 20 years after that, well. No one said she had to conquer the continent all at once.

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    1. Dylan Tullos

      Lightbringer:

      No, Malicia is right here. Trying to “rule the continent” is exactly how you end up at war with two foreign empires while the peoples you conquered seize every opportunity to revolt. If the Dread Empire grows too large and powerful, it will force the world into an alliance against it. Malicia is already facing Procer, Ashur, and the Dominion; she doesn’t need to encourage more nations to worry about Praesi ambitions.

      Praes has been occupying Callow for about twenty years, and they’re still working on incorporating them into the Dread Empire. I don’t know where you get the idea that Deoraithe has any interest in following Catherine Foundling; they’re famously xenophobic, and they always an independent nation, not a province of Callow.

      As soon as Praes invades the Free Cities, they will have to fight Procer and Ashur. If the Free Cities are smart, they’ll band together to resist invasion; even the rulers of the Evil-aligned Cities don’t want Praes to take over. The only possible result of such a war would be defeat for the Dread Empire, probably followed by a Proceran invasion of Callow.

      Malicia refuses to make the classic villain mistake of believing that others will just stand by and allow her to expand one little bit at a time. The Proceran civil war provided her with a priceless opportunity to conquer Callow, but her enemies aren’t going to give her the same opportunity twice. Once people realize that you’re committed to unlimited expansion, they’re going to form permanent alliances against you. Malicia’s entire policy is for the Dread Empire to behave like a pragmatic nation-state, not like a stereotypical “evil empire” that wants to conquer everything in sight.

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    2. RandomFan

      Leave the continent for millennia and generations later. They barely have the resources to subvert Callow, and they’ve triggered Black’s final countdown in the process, it seems.

      In a century, Callow might be permanently tied to Praes. In another, you might have the organization and power to take out the free cities. But even then- the dead king is active, but if he hadn’t destroyed the continent, then “conquer the continent” is probably a sucker’s game altogether.

      Like

  10. Byzantine

    Malicia is making a mistake, here. She’s letting Akua summon a superweapon on the presumption she can take it from her. She underestimates Catherine and Akua on that front.

    Even if Akua summons it I have little doubt Catherine will manage to Break it. If she’s feeling particularly vindictive she would manage to throw it at the King of Winter. And she has been feeling vindictive lately.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hardric62

    This chapter shows exactly how wrong Tasia and the Trueblood were and always are. It shows even now, decades later, they still don’t wrap their head about the actual reasons Alaya and Amadeus crushed them, they still don’t have any plan worth anything confronted to reality. They tried to teach a little better to the next generation, but Akua showed how superficially that generation understood the world they were born into. And that’s the most total victory you could ever win: drawing your foes to irrelevance to the point you can crush them effortlessly, letting history advance and bury them. And that shows exactly how good at that game Alaya is.

    Amadeus wanted to slit their throats, but the fallout would have crippled the Wasteland. Alaya strangled them, and although it took decades, they die in a whimper. I’m curious abouut how Amadeus would judge bettween this way and his.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. James, Mostly Harmless

    This chapter shows an interesting contrast between the 14th and 15th Legions, even though they were raised at about the same time. The 14th is just now getting tempered in battle while for the 15th that happened back at the Battle of Three Hills.

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    1. More importantly, the 14th was raised in Praes, where Malicia could implant things in commanders’ heads. The 15th was raised in Callow. While that’s not outside Malicia’s sphere of control, one hopes more folks are free of her there.

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  13. KageLupus

    So, if I had to hazard a guess at Malicia’s plan I would say that she is aware that Diabolist is building a flying fortress and approves of the plan in general. As long as Squire can take her out, that would then leave this weapon of flying, mass destruction sitting right there in Callow, just a stone’s throw away from the Principate. It is a really subtle kind of long game, and a bit risky, but the pay out is having a serious deterrent in an ideal position before a troublesome war ever actually flares up.

    We know that Cat would probably never use that fortress willingly, unless it was absolutely necessary. The fact that it requires so much power that human sacrifices are almost definitely necessary is part of the issue. So is the fact that anyone riding around in a flying fortress is just waiting for an unhappy ending to their story.

    But the First Prince doesn’t necessarily know all of that. All she needs to know is that Callow belongs to the Empire, and has a weapon of mass destruction primed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. That is going to give Cordelia pause if nothing else.

    Or I could be completely off base here and Malicia has a different plan altogether

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    1. We know that the Flying Fortress was a by-the-way aside for the Diabolist (she happened to have the fae to sacrifice to power it); the actual thing Akua is planning is still a mystery to us (but not the Empress), other than it’s somehow connected to the entity that the Watch is tied to. But other than that, you’re probably right about Malicia’s probable end game.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. “I went to a great deal of trouble to get her the materials she needed without her catching on.” + “I imagine she will unleash it at least once, when dear Catherine comes for her,” the Empress replied. “It will be demonstration enough.”

    ^^ and with these lines, if Akua succeeds in the demonstration (or even if she does not, but Cat finds out about this conversation), Malicia has written her death sentence from Cat. No one kills Callowans but her.
    I was wondering how Cat, who has shown no ambition to climb the tower, was going to be motivated to go after the Dread Empress.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. … and now that I think about it, maybe Cat isn’t right about Names just making you more of what you are. Maybe the Names change you, as you change it (by changing the stories associated with it).

    Consider Alaya – she’s becoming more and more Dread Empress Malicia, relying on an Aspect, relying on a SuperWeapon, gloating and monologuing at her long-time enemy. She’s becoming a classical villian. And with that change, she undoes some of what Amadeus was trying to achieve, and sets the stage for her fall. The Rule Praes forever requires her to be immortal, amongst other things. Maybe she always was a classical villain, who merely used Amadeus’ philosophy to get her where she is?

    The cynical bit of me wonders if Alaya trusts Amadeus because she Spoke at him, but then the line about meet faith with faith reassures me.

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    1. RandomFan

      Every villian gloats and monologues. Even Black does it at times, abet more to allies than enemies. As long as it’s an evil vs. evil story and proper precautions are enforced, monologues seem plausibly… not safe, but safer. The setting has soft power players especially safe to monologue with.

      She’s trying to use the hard power of a superweapon as the soft power of “you don’t want to fight us, we don’t want to fight you.” I expect it’ll be repackaged for the heroes as “Wait for us to come for you. The story where we use it ends in our doom, but not nearly as likely if you’re the one attacking.” That’s better than normal villiany, at least.

      Like

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