Interlude: Concourse III

“All law is upheld through violence, but when violence itself becomes the law then only disorder can come of it. As prosperity requires order, to ensure prosperity a ruler must therefore suborn violence to law.”
– Extract from the memoirs of Dread Emperor Terribilis II

Razin Tanja was not yet lord of Malaga, and in truth might never be. Father had named him heir, before they left Levant, and so of all that could lay claim his right would be the foremost and hardest to dispute. Yet he remained only heir, until he’d stood the ancestral grounds of the Tanja and been acclaimed to lordship by his closest kin. Razin had no right to call on the oaths once sworn to his father and so the captains of Malaga could defy him his orders if they so wished, though on war-grounds with the death of Akil Tanja still fresh they’d chosen to follow his commands nonetheless. It was because of that frail arrangement and the rights of his Blood he was considered to have voice equal to the other three standing at this council, though it would be foolish to assume the others did not regard his standing to be the lowest among them. Yet here they were nonetheless, the four of highest authority among the Dominion’s armies, having woken from the waking-dreams the Peregrine had sent them to hold these talks.

There were only seats and a deep-dug firepit within the tent, for though it belonged to Lord Yannu Marave it was not the same they’d before used for war councils. This one was rather smaller and behind ancient ward-stones brought from Levant, gifts from the Gigantes that had been rarely made and were even more rarely taken away from ancestral grounds There they kept veiled from sorcery and spying the affairs of the families owning them, as it should be. Though the stones could have been set around a larger tent, Razin knew enough of sorcery to know that certain patterns must be kept arithmetically exact to exert their full strength. The wonder-makers of the Titanomachy were free in speaking the secrets of use when they granted gits, though never the secrets of making, and no two such gifts were ever truly the same. If the Lord of Alava had chosen this lesser tent, it would be for good reason. Razin would acknowledge, in the quiet of his own thoughts, that the closer seats and crackling flames set to the talks a different tone than that of the battle-councils.

It was easier to see the truth of the others this way. Lord Yannu Marave – Careful Yannu, as the man was known in Levant – had not personally taken the field, yet the general of the Champion’s Blood looked drained under his sweat-flecked facepaint. For him Razin found little compassion, for the man had slain his father even if the matter had been settled in fair and honourable duel. He found near as little for Lady Itima Ifriqui of the Brigand’s Blood, who had held command of the Vaccei warriors but left her eldest son to lead the vanguard that’d tried the fortifications of the Callowans. Moro of the Brigand’s Blood had been made to sleep again, fed herbal potions concocted by binders so that if there was more to be seen in dreams one of the Blood would see it. He might yet be allowed entrance to this tent, should he come with pressing knowledge. Though Lord Yannu sat on the other side of the flames and Lady Itima to Razin’s right, to his left was the only person in this tent he counted as more companion than foe. Lady Aquiline Osena, who twice had tried to see him slain before they had shared strife against the drow. He found his gaze drawn to her bronze-green paint, the sinuous lay of it covering every inch of skin not covered by her tanned leather vest.

He’d not forgot the sight of her running over moonlit snow like a whisper of smoke over water, beautiful and terrible like some ancient goddess of the hunt from olden days. Ashen Gods, how could he? He might as well been branded with a hot iron. Aquiline found his gaze, for he’d allowed himself to linger too long, and though the cast of her face was difficult to read under the colours she did not seem displeased in the slightest. Though Razin had known women before, something of the wicked glint in her eye had him feeling like he should blush. He looked away, careful not do display undue haste in doing so that would draw attention from the others but found he had to force down something like a smile.

“The Peregrine is dead,” Yannu Marave said, voice shattering the silence. “We have all seen it.”

And more besides, Razin thought. The journey the five Bestowed who’d gone to fight the Dead King had not been shared in full, he thought, but enough had been offered to know what need be known. The Grey Pilgrim had gone to death for the sake of all the world, and though the Black Queen was wicked and scheming she had not schemed his death nor broken the bargains she had made. The same could not be said of the Regicide, which had troubled all. Laurence de Montfort, though unfortunately Proceran, had been held in high esteem by most of them. Rarely had the Heavens known so righteous or unyielding a servant.

“The Tyrant of Helike must die,” Lady Itima of the Brigand’s Blood harshly said. “The Theodosian line should be ended for good, lest the viper keep biting again and again.”

“Are we to wage war on the League, then?” Aquiline replied, unconvinced. “The One-Eyed King is poison to all he touches, but still surrounded by a great host.”

“We can petition the Grand Alliance for soldiers,” Lady Itima insisted.

“Which ally would you petition, Ifriqui?” Razin calmly said. “Ashur, broken at Thalassina and besieged on its own island by the fleets of Nicae? Or perhaps Procer, who even now makes desperate war on the Hidden Horror?”

“You would let this go unavenged, Tanza?” the Lady of Vaccei sneered. “All knew you without magic, but are you without honour as well? You talk like a coward.”

His teeth clenched, his anger rose.

“Razin Tanja rode with a slayer band and fought death steel in hand,” Aquiline sharply said. “Can you claim the same tonight, Itima Ifriqui? Did you even come close enough to drow or legionaries to loose a single arrow?”

“I have nothing to prove to you, girl,” Lady Itima replied, tone just as sharp. “When you’ve fought in half as many battles as I have, then you-”

“The Peregrine is dead,” Yannu Marave repeated, calmvoice cutting through the rising voice. “And so, without his wise hand to guide us, we must decide where the honour of Levant lies.”

Though neither of the two ladies were pleased with the interruption, they allowed it nonetheless. There would be other nights to pursue their feuds.

“Dangerous words, Marave,” Aquiline warned. “It is the Holy Seljun who keeps the Dominion’s honour, on behalf of the Majilis.”

“Must we keep to that pretence even now that he is dead?” Lord Yannu asked, tone exhausted. “Custom is custom, yet we all knew who was the Isbili we followed – stripped of that name or not. In this tent are four of the five that would be seated if the Majilis was called to session. The fifth has not been more than a decoration in my lifetime.”

“Hasn’t been a ruler of the Pilgrim’s line worth the name since Yasa Isbili,” Lady Itima conceded.

“What it is you suggested, Lord Marave?” Razin stiffly asked.

“That decision must be made as to the fate of this Grand Alliance,” the Lord of Alava said. “What has it brought us, to warrant what we’ve lost in its name?”

“You’d abandon the Tenth Crusade?” Aquiline asked, genuinely surprised.

“What Tenth Crusade is that?” Yannu Marave asked. “We’ve marched for more than a year now, and I’ve yet to see it. We have fought soldiers of Callow, soldiers of the League and now the drow servants of the Black Queen. Was it not the Tower we swore to war upon? Pretty words were spoken yet the truth is plain: only Ashur tread Wasteland soil, and it has been defeated. The Tenth Crusade is done, and if there can be said to have been so much as a thimble’s worth victory to it then it belongs to the Queen of Callow.”

He exhaled.

“Let us go home,” he said. “Let us bury our dead and see to our lands, instead of chasing shadows for Cordelia Hasenbach’s sake.”

“Oaths were made,” Lady Itima said.

“To march,” Lord Yannu said. “March we have, and fought too. How much more can be owed? Aid was given, oaths kept.”

“And what will happen, when the Dead King devours the entire Principate and raises it as an army that’ll outnumber grains of sand?” Razin said. “Do you suppose he’ll simply stop at our borders and turn around?”

“The Red Snake Wall has never been breached,” the Lady of Vaccei said.

Her Blood knew the great work better than any other, having often snuck past it to raid Arlesite lands, but this was foolishness. Aquiline agreed, it seemed.

“Never has the Hidden Horror tried it,” the Lady of Tartessos said. “Mighty as the enchantments of the spellsingers are, the Crown of the Dead is a spawning pool of endless fresh horrors. What manner of abomination might be made from the corpse of an empire? Best not find out, for all our sakes.”

“It is not written in stone that Procer will fall,” Lord Yannu said. “Bestowed have flocked to the north, and now both the Black Queen and the League offer truce to the First Prince. Let Procerans see to the defence of their own lands, and if friendship so compels your souls we may offer other bounty than the blood of our people. Foodstuffs and arms, loans of gold to fund their war.”

“And so when the war for Calernia’s survival is ended, we shall be remembered as those that crawled back to our own lands after the first taste of bloodshed,” Aquiline scathingly said. “Or, even as the continent dies around us, we’ll be cursed as the cowards who might have preserved it – if not for the wisdom of Yannu Marave.”

“Thousands have been lost already,” the Lord of Alava said. “Our old ally the Thalassocracy is ruined for at least a generation even if it shakes the Nicaean boot off its throat, which is hardly certain. Would you exhaust our every army as well so that Salia can reclaim Levant after the war end? We all know how much alliance meant to princes, after Callow lost its armies in the last eastern crusade.”

“The First Prince is an honourable woman,” Lady Itima said with a grimace, looking like it cost her to admit it.

Though the Brigand’s Blood was fervent in its hatred of enemies abroad and Procerans in particular, the Lady of Vaccei had spoken of Cordelia Hasenbach with respect more than once. The peace forged between Vaccei and Procer by its First Prince could have been so costly as to ruin the Ifriqui, for none had stood behind Lady Itima in her warmongering and would have protested heavy reparations overmuch, but Hasenbach had been restrained and allowed for honour in peace. That’d been remembered just as much as the many treacheries of the Principate.

“Will her successor be as well?” Lord Yannu retorted. “Or will our spent lands be hungrily eyed by Arlesite crowns and a would-be conqueror be elected after her?”

“To ward off a betrayal that might be,” Razin mildly said, “you instead offer a betrayal that is. I see no honour in this, Marave. Only fear.”

“Hear hear,” Aquiline said. “It might be the Tower we declared war on, but it is the Dead King that now seeks our end. Until the Last Dusk that old thing will be our enemy, and I will not retreat without even catching sight of his armies once.”

The Lord of Alava turned to fix Itima of the Brigand’s Blood with a steady look.

“Your judgement, Lady Itima?” Lord Yannu asked.

The older woman hesitated.

“It is not the war we agreed to fight, no denying that,” she said. “And you speak sense in being wary of Arlesite friendship. Yet honour must be observed. Some may remain, but others should return.”

Lord Yannu said nothing, gazing at them over the fire.

“Then let it be remembered that when the Enemy marched, Vaccei flinched and Alava turned tail,” Lady Aquiline Osena said, tone cold and contemptuous. “Tartessos will not shame itself in such a manner. My captains will remain, and I with them. Run back behind tall walls, if that is the sum of you.”

The gaze moved to him.

“Malaga stays,” Razin simply said.

“You’re not lord, boy,” Lady Itima replied. “You’ve no call to make that decision. It will be put to the captains.”

“I imagine it will,” Razin Tanja of the Grim Binder’s line replied. “I will be certain to tell them the Lady of Vaccei believes them so cowardly as to flee. No doubt they’ll be eager to prove you right.”

It might have been enough, Razin suspected, just for the captains to be told that retreat was Lord Yannu Marave’s own notion. His slaying of Father had seen him politely despised among the men and women who’d spent decades in the service of Akil Tanja. Now that one of the Brigand’s Blood had called their bravery into doubt this way? Gods, there might be honour-duels over insinuations they’d even considered returning south. Lord Yannu gazed at him for a long and silent moment, until he tiredly sighed.

“Has your shoulder been fully healed, Razin Tanja of Binder’s Blood?” the Lord of Alava asked.

It had been. Though the drow’s blow had been hard enough it was still tender, the healing of his binders had ensured that within perhaps a day he would perfectly hale. As it was, save for a mild ache when he moved there was naught left to fix.  Still, a strange amusement took him when he realized they were not even speaking of the same shoulder wound as the previous time – it was not a goblin blade that’d hurt him last but a monstrous drow appendage.

“It has,” Razin acknowledged.

He would not lower himself to lying over the matter, even if Yannu Marave meant now to kill him just as he’d killed Father.

“By smoke add dust you vowed enmity between us,” Lord Yannu said. “To be set aside until healing was seen to.”

The Lord of Alava rose from his seat, graceful for all his exhaustion.

“Let us settle matters of honour, then,” Yannu of the Champion’s Blood said.

“As was sworn,” Razin calmly agreed, rising to match him.

The tent was not large, he thought, yet neither was it so small it could not be put to use as duelling-grounds. It would best to keep this away from the eyes of their captains, regardless.

“Will either of you require an officiant?” Lady Itima drawled. “I’ve no horse in this race, and so put forward my name.”

Razin declined, as did Lord Yannu. Theirs would be a duel to the death, not first blood or first wound, and so there was no need of another pair of eyes to adjudicate when to call a halt. Aquiline had risen as well, and leaned closer so her whisper would not be overheard.

“I’ve seen the two of you fight, Razin,” she said. “You’re one of the finest blades I know, but he is finer still and experienced in such duels besides. You will not be the victor in this.”

“He is tired,” Razin replied.

“So are you,” she said.

“I vowed enmity nonetheless,” he told her.

She studied him in silence.

“So you did,” Aquiline conceded.

She leaned closer still, and for a heartbeat he believed she might kiss him. Instead he swallowed a gasp when he felt a knife slide into his lower belly. He’d not even seen her draw. Still studying him, the Lady of Tartessos nodded approvingly.

“You didn’t scream,” she said, sounding proud. “Good. You may consider this the formal beginning of our courtship.”

“Well,” Razin croaked, “you’ve certainly made an impression.”

“Lady Aquiline, what is your meaning by intervening here?” Lord Yannu coldly asked.

Aquiline graced his reply with a twitch of the lips before turning to the Lord of Alava.

“As Razin Tanja is injured, he may not fight you,” the Lady of Tartessos said.

That was one way to delay the matter, he conceded. She’d even been kind enough to slide the blade somewhere that had little risk of killing him. Yet it would amount to little, for Yannu Marave’s intent remained: the man would slay either himself or Aquiline, and so ensure that few enough captains remained that those of Malaga or Tartessos would follow the rest home simply not to be stranded without allies in the midst of the Principate. Before long, there would be one more-

“And so I claim his right as his champion,” Aquiline Osena casually continued. “Any may contest this claim if they so wish, but it will have to be blade in hand.”

“Aquiline,” he began, “don’t-”

“Alas, he has become delirious from the pain,” she said. “And so his word can no longer be taken over the matter.”

Lord Yannu’s cool eyes moved from him to the Lady of Tartessos, assessing.

“So it seems,” the Lord of Alava agreed.

The choice was clear, Razin supposed, between a mere unacclaimed heir like himself and a true ruling lady like Aquiline. If one of them had to die, in Yannu’s eye she would be the better choice for unlike him, she could call on oaths to force her decisions onto captains. Knowing there was no point, he set aside the urge to continue protesting. Both duellists moved to the side of the tent, where they would have more room to move, and the other two of the Blood were invited to withdraw to the opposite end of the tent. Knife still in his belly, Razin obeyed.

“Even if she is the victor,” Lady Itima casually told him. “I’ve not agreed to your own decision.”

“What do you want, Ifriqui?” he grunted.

“The Tyrant of Helike,” she murmured. “If not the annihilation of his line, then at least his head.”

Aquiline and Yannu unsheathed their long, hooked swords and bowed. The Lord of Alava was taller than her, he could not help but notice. Larger and heavier with a great deal more blood on his hands. The Slayer’s Blood were unnaturally skilled duellists, it was true, and Aquiline skilled even compared to her kin. Yet the Champion’s Blood were known to reap lives like wheat and laugh through wounds great and small. There was no telling who would be the winner.

“We’ve no soldiers for that reckoning,” Razin said. “And no ally to borrow them from.”

“You know my terms, boy,” the Lady of Vaccei simply replied. “They will not change. If you and the girl want my warriors, earn them.”

The unspoken threat being that otherwise she would leave with her host, and perhaps the Alava men as well. If Yannu was slain and no other captains left, the Alavans might be shamed into remaining with the greater army – lest they be known as the sole warriors of the Dominion to have fled. It the Vaccei swords left with them, however, there could not be talk of dishonour. Or at least not quite as pointed, which for men who wanted to leave would suffice. Of course, this meant nothing unless Aquiline won. The two duellists had begun to move, he saw, yet blades had yet to clash. They were fighting over position, for now, looking for an opening to end it quick and clean. They were both tired and well-aware of it. The Alavan captains would be hard to keep, he thought, if Lord Yannu was killed. The hill-folk of Alava disliked taking orders from any save the Champion’s Blood, and were prouder than most. Aquiline suddenly lunged forward, blade flickering forward, but Lord Yannu calmly parried and withdrew, with the hook of his blade scoring a long cut on the Lady of Tartessos’ cheek. Red blood trailed down onto paint of green and bronze.

This would only end when one of them died, Razin thought, and in that moment the though disgusted him. The Peregrine’s corpse was hardly cold that already the children of others lines were killing each other over disputes of honour. Was there really any honour to be found in this? Razin wondered, watching Aquiline deftly manoeuvre around the fire pit to avoid a blow that would have taken her hand and scoring a cut of her own on Lord Yannu’s face – above his brow, where the blood might trickle down onto his eye if he was not careful.  There was skill, that much was certain. Admirable skill. But honour? It was his own father being avenged, Razin reminded himself. His father who had been slain in a honour-duel much like this one, disagreeing over a decision of great import. Theirs were hard ways, Razin Tanja knew, but he’d been taught that they were also honest ways. Unlike Procerans who poisoned and schemed, unlike the Free Cities and their empty trials, those of Levant did not leave the rot to fester. The brought it out, cut it out, settled the matters so they would not grow and settled them in honour. Honour-duels, he thought. Honour-wars. So much honour was there to be found in the Dominion, and all of it derived from blood.

“If he kills her, the Osena will feud with the Marave,” he quietly said.

And, though it would be early and almost presumptuous of him to say, the Tanja as well.

“So they will,” Lady Itima shrugged.

She was unmoved, for this was simply the way of the world. Steel touched steel, as they watched, as a quick exchange that had Razin’s heard racing saw Aquiline avoiding a cut throat but taking a blow to the side of the head from Lord Yannu’s heavy pommel. She seemed dizzied, and so his stomach clenched in fear. Razin Tanja had stood just like he was standing now and watched his own father be slain, because this was an honourable way to settle things and it would be dishonourable of him to do otherwise. This settles nothing, he thought. It is rule by the blade, and it brings ever more the same. If Aquiline slew Yannu, avenging Razin’s own father, then some other Marave would one day come for her to avenge Yannu. And then in years after someone would come for her killer, and on and on and on it would go until either Levant died or the Last Dusk came to pass. Razin felt as if he were standing on the edge of a tall precipice, as if he were about to fall, and every inch of him wanted to retreat. To take a step back. But he thought, in that moment, not of anything his father or teachers had ever said but of a pair of cool brown eyes and a cutting grin wreathed in smoke. You mock yourself, the great monster of their age had told him almost gently, by pretending today did not happen. It did. Learn from it, or die in a ditch somewhere blaming everything but yourself.

“Enough,” Razin Tanja of the Binder’s Blood said.

Lady Itima eyed him curiously, but nothing else came of it.

Enough,” Razin hissed, and he ripped the knife out of his own guts.

Even when the blade clattered on the ground they did not cease their fighting, though when bleeding and wincing he stepped in between them the blades were held back.

“Razin,” Aquiline harshly said, “do not-”

“How many years has it been, since the Dominion was founded?” he interrupted. “Three hundred and change, I’d say. That is how long it has been since Procerans ceased killing us and we’ve started doing it to ourselves. Enough, damn you.”

“You dishonour yourself,” Yannu Marave scorned him. “Fearing defeat-”

“The Valiant Champion took up arms to end tyrants, didn’t she?” Razin said. “Rulers who forced their will through force of arms. I wonder how much difference she’d really see, between you and a prince.”

The Lord of Alava paled, either in dismay or white-hot fury.

“If there is honour to be lost,” Razin said, scorning the very word as he had himself been scorned, “then let it be mine.”

“You would let your father’s death go unavenged?” Aquiline asked, and there was something like contempt in her voice.

That wounded, it did, but still he must press on. Learn from it, or die, he told himself.

“Someone has to,” he snarled back. “What does this change? What does any of this change?”

Something in him snapped, for if he’d been able to see this why hadn’t they? Why did it have to be him, bearing those disdainful looks like he’d somehow spewed in their cup by arguing that more killing wasn’t going to get them out of the put killing had first dug.

“It settles our disagreement,” Lord Yannu said. “Move aside, Tanja, or be struck down.”

Razin laughed.

“Do it,” he said, extending his arms and wincing from the wound in his gut being stretched. “Is this what we are now? Even when the world is half-ended we kill each other over battle plans and decisions and how we’ve killed each other over the last two. Are we truly that… little?”

“I will not warn you again,” Yannu Marave calmly told him.

“Move, Razin,” Aquiline said, and though there was still disdain in the voice there was more worry.

It was not much of a balm, but it was not nothing.

“No,” Razin said. “If you want to force this through look it in the eye, Yannu Marave – admit that you are willing to cut down an unarmed man to get your way.”

“Damn you, boy,” Lord Yannu hoarsely said, but raised his sword anyway.

The knife came to rest against his throat without anyone having it heard unsheathed. The Lord of Alava stilled.

“Keep talking, Tanja,” Lady Itima said.

A convulsive chuckle ripped its way free of his throat.

“Do I truly need to make some great argument,” he said, absurdly amused, “of why we should cease slaughtering each other at least on the same night when the sky almost fell on our heads?”

There was a heartbeat of silence.

“Gods Above,” Razin said. “Look at us. We might as well be an Alamans farce: the four fools who duelled on the night the world almost ended. We’ve fought half a score in battles and skirmishes against the Army of Callow and the League and the drow, yet the closest the Dominion’s armies have come to breaking this winter is this very hour. Think on that, for a moment. We’ve wounded ourselves more viciously than the Black Queen and all her heretic cohorts put together.”

“Much have you chided us,” Aquiline said, “yet you’ve said nothing of how to mend the wound.”

“We bring back the Peregrine’s corpse,” Razin Tanja said. “And we put it to a proper pyre. And when that’s done? We don’t butcher ourselves like fucking animals. If we are to decide the fate of Levant, then let Levant have a say.”

“The Holy Seljun?” Lady Itima said, sounding surprised.

“No,” Lord Yannu softly said. “He means the captains. He means that we speak our case to an assembly of our soldiers, and choose our way by acclamation.”

Razin nodded.

“And if the soldiers choose to go home?” Aquiline pointedly asked.

“Then we go home,” Razin said. “We have to be willing to lose, Aquiline, to bend. Otherwise this only ever ends with swords bared.”

“That has been our way,” she replied, “and it has served us well.”

“Has it?” he softly asked. “The Grey Pilgrim has been dead for nary an hour, and already in this tent the seeds of a decade of war have been sown. Can you truly say our way has served us well?”

“I will agree,” Yannu Marave said, “to sending warriors to bring back the Peregrine in honour.”

Razin admired, against his will, how calm the man’s tone was when Itima’s knife had yet to leave his throat.

“The escort and the assembly both have my agreement,” Lady Itima of the Brigand’s Blood said. “Be it battle or retreat, let it be chosen before Gods and men.”

“The escort and the assembly,” Aquiline agreed after a moment, tone brisk. “The right decision will be clear to all that are not craven fools.”

Razin Tanja idly wondered if it would be ill-taken to send for a priest or a binder for his stomach wound before an honour guard of warriors was assembled to take the Peregrine back to his kin.

“The escort and the assembly,” he said, as if there’d been any doubt.

He was still bleeding from the belly when they left the tent, but at least no one had died. That was, he decided, better than he’d had any right to hope for.

243 thoughts on “Interlude: Concourse III

  1. Psyrix

    ugh, I’ve honestly become a drug addict chasing a high xD, was refreshing and refreshing for 3 mins and was scared that there’d be a delay xD. Thank the godssss
    (also, voteeee [don’t have the link rn i’ll add when im done reading the chappie]

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Caerulea

      Just so you know, the RSS feed updates with the url (I mean, you could have guessed it for this one but in general) before anything else updates with the link. 14 seconds after midnight tonight, though it has been later on occasion.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Jeffery Wells

      I’m getting worried. I see the dates on the chapters as I’m catching up and the story isn’t done yet! What am I going to do when I finally catch up? Wait??

      Like

  2. So, Razin’s proving that Cat’s decision to spare him was worth it.

    Hmmmm, it will be interesting to see how Tariq having been resurrected will affect the Levantines.

    Ah, so they at least saw enough to tell that Laurence was unreliable.

    Liked by 17 people

    1. Cicero

      Actually I reread that section, and I think it was a comment on how Cat killed the Saint and how that disquieted them. It was not a comment on Laurence’s unreliability.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I very much read it as a comment on Laurence’s unreliability.

        >though the Black Queen was wicked and scheming she had not schemed his death nor broken the bargains she had made. The same could not be said of the Regicide

        The same does not refer to ‘his death’ specifically here because bargains are mentioned afterwards, it’d be a pretty tortured reading.

        Liked by 9 people

        1. Morgenstern

          Agreed. To make it un-tortured it would have to be something along the lines of “the same could not be said of *what she did to* the Regicide”. It very much reads like the Regicide having schemed death or at least broken bargains, the way it is.

          Liked by 4 people

    2. Shveiran

      It seems Cat’s decision was very much on point, yes. Though I must say I wish her parting words with Razin had been more on point.

      Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this outcome. I wish it was ice cream so I could eat it up, I like it so much. But while I’m enamored with the outcome, Cat’s words seem a bit weak to provoke this sharp a turn.

      I mean, Razin ends up very close to Cat’s own point of view here, if through Dominion lens: sick of the death, realizing the status quo is a vicious cycle that cannot be escaped unless we are willing to break it. I can’t help but wish her words to him had been closer to such insight. As is, moving from “You mock yourself, by pretending today did not happen. It did. Learn from it, or die in a ditch somewhere blaming everything but yourself.” to this radical a change seems a bit weak.

      Well, perhaps not weak, but it seems a lot more related to Razin than the words, it’s what I’m saying. Perhaps something more pointed could be arranged, before publication, if that’s what EE is planning? I think it wouldn’t be forced to have Cat say something more related to breaking the cycle of violence.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Jessica Day

        I disagree with this assessment. She told him to look inward and take responsibility. Such a thing required one to look at their own belief structures. Having done so, he essentially is asking the same in turn of the others.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. Ultimate_Procrastinator

        “it seems a lot more related to Razin than the words”

        If I may offer my opinion, that assessment is exactly why I liked what happened here. Razin didn’t upset the status quo because Cat made a neat, perfectly applicable speech to him, just like so many other, usually trite works of fiction; rather, he received a nudge, saw that the direction it pushed him in was a good one, and rolled with it on his own. It feels much more human, real, and satisfying to me to see Razin take a relatively minor comment, see how it applies, and go well beyond the initial scope of the statement. It also helps, in my mind, that he just recently saw his father die; losing family and friends has a way of making people people stop and reassess what is important to them, then take actions they never would have been brave or committed enough to do beforehand.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Lets see this from his point of view he comes from a long line of mages and is constantly put down by everyone besides his father for his lack of magic. He already has to prove himself and be creative in how he solves his problems since he does not have magic to rely on. He has had to make practical choices.

          -Black queen defeated him, because he was so focused on honor/pride/blood
          – Whipped/dishonored in front of all dominion for his mistake(humbled)
          -His father was defeated in an honor duel because of honor/pride/blood
          -He sets aside honor/pride/blood, to help a former enemy(who attempted to have him murdered twice), because they share a common goal
          -He along with many of the dominion see the Peregrine himself set aside honor/pride/blood to ally with villains to face a common evil.
          -The last nudge was seeing a new found ally/love interest risking their life for his honor/pride/blood in a pointless duel that would most likely result in 12 years of war.

          He had seen the success of putting aside pride and the downfalls of on blind belief adherence to honor. The Black Queen may have begun his journey of discovery but it was the lessons from the events that surrounded the war that allowed him to truly learn from the mistakes of the past.

          Chat was a beginning but

          Liked by 6 people

        2. This!

          Catherine only brushed him by; it feels a lot more real for him to have come to the same conclusion from entirely different premises. The conclusion is a good one, that’s all.

          Liked by 1 person

      3. I think it being unrelated is precisely the point. Catherine isn’t magically enchanting the continent into following her views, she is just one ripple on the wave of change where Razin is another. A thing she incidentally said about something entirely unrelated was well-put enough to resonate with him on a basic level and end up applicable here. He’s not following her, they’re standing side by side, she just figured it out first.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. jonnnney

        Too many Bestowed on the field for a new one to pop up without damn good reason. A single decision might push Razin towards a Name, but he has been too weak and wishy washy for a bit of common sense to yield a name.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. “A bit of common sense” doesn’t really cover putting yourself between two duelists and daring one of them to kill you because you’re trying to overturn literally centuries of deeply ingrained cultural dysfunction, in my eyes. Razin is more than how you’re painting him, in this moment in particular.

          Liked by 9 people

          1. Agent J

            What he did is impressive, yes. But it’s leagues away from the goblin steel that is the Will of Named. There’s a level of madness to every Named we know intimately. Cat, Tariq, Hakram, Laurence, Amadeus, Indrani, Kairos, Masego. Their madness takes different forms and is expressed in different ways, but all are mad to the bone.

            For what else can one be when they look at the lay of Creation and know the truth of it. Cat knows it can be better. Hakram knows she can make it so. Black knows the game is rigged and that he can win despite that. Laurence knows Evil must be Cut from the world. Indrani knows the only way to live is to absolutely fucking live. Masego knows Creation itself is the greatest miracle ever woven and that he can crack the code of it. Our lovely little lordling, by comparison, knows nothing at all.

            Razin is far from mad, his will far from steel, and he is far from Named.

            Liked by 5 people

            1. I mean Cat was given the Squire name after being stabbed by the Black Knight.
              One named changed her world along with her purpose to change the status quo.

              Razin may get a name from
              Being stabbed stealthily in the belly by slayers
              Whipped by the binders
              Trading blades with the champion
              ***tricking the brigands line
              **** receiving the blessing of the confirmed Grey Pilgrim

              Just saying there is a great deal of weight behind the actions he takes, and the pattern is there.
              He could be the Dominator, The New Blood, Progenitor

              Liked by 3 people

              1. Agent J

                Cat was given a Claim to the Name Squire by the reigning Black Knight. Being able to grant that Claim is his due.

                All that you have listed pales in comparison to what Cordelia has done and she’s not getting a Name anytime soon. Named are exceedingly rare. What Razin has accomplished is not. It does not set him apart from the chaff. Hells, the Arlesite up north warring on the Dead King has a greater story behind his sails, along with more absurd feats, and inspires greater awe in those around him, yet he still bears no Name and you would argue being whipped for his massive fuck up in Sarcella is a worthwhile accomplishment that could lead to a Name?

                Honestly, if the readers were the ones doling out Names instead of Providence, a third of Calernia would be Bestowed.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Andrew Mitchell

                  While I agree that Razin (and the noble up north whose name I can’t recall) might (or might not) get a name. I think you’re massively overstating readers’ opinions on this matter.

                  > Honestly, if the readers were the ones doling out Names instead of Providence, a third of Calernia would be Bestowed.

                  Think about this for a second. There’s about 400,000 troops and civilians present in Iserre. To my recollection, there is literally only two people who have been the subject of recent Name speculation – Razin and Rozala. That’s 1 out of 200,000. Or 0.0005%

                  Liked by 2 people

                2. ninegardens

                  >Hells, the Arlesite up north warring on the Dead King has a greater story behind his sails

                  I mean…. I kind of wonder if that one IS secretly named, given how enigmatic he is, and how we see glimpses of him but its explicitly not clear how he does all this shit.

                  Liked by 4 people

                    1. He was raised in a society where killing at the drop of a hat was expected. Merely the fact that two experienced generals launched into a duel resulting in death and no one batted an eye in the middle of a crusade no less. The expectation to kill one another due to past slights was strong. He was the son of the general and the expectation for him to be killed or kill was also high.

                      He was raised in this society where blood mean t more than personal beliefs meant more than the lives of all. In a society like that he decided to argue for peace.

                      I understand that we have seen a lot of big things going down and expectation are very high for who should be named and who should not be.

                      -He is royalty which in this universe gives him a high chance of being named.
                      -He has a vengeance story (pattern of three with Yanu)
                      -He has purpose to change the honor bound ways of his people
                      -He has faced a drow with hundred of years of killing behind its back and survived

                      While there may be many in the dominion who use honor or respond when there honor is questioned. He chose to let go, to give up his honor for peace.

                      This was one of the pivot moments Chat is always using in her favor. Guess what Razin did the excat same thing that the Black Queen did and his efforts halted a war and ensured nne of the generals died for blood feuds.

                      “Razin felt as if he were standing on the edge of a tall precipice, as if he were about to fall, and every inch of him wanted to retreat. To take a step back. But he thought, in that moment, not of anything his father or teachers had ever said but of a pair of cool brown eyes […] Learn from it, or die in a ditch somewhere blaming everything but yourself.”

                      He knew the implications of his actions and chose to do them anyway. He chose to do something that has not been done for years to settle for peace. I mean no offence but did Hakram have any major feats besides being near Catherine. I think Razin does to just deserve a name but needs one to enact the changes he has already begun.

                      Liked by 3 people

                    2. I think the difference between Hakram and Razin here is, Hakram was widely known as the Squire’s adjutant and fit the cultural groove for that well. He’s The Adjutant, as stories go, it makes sense.

                      The What would you call Razin? How would you define him in terms of easily summarized and easily understood character archetypes?

                      Liked by 1 person

              2. You are being distracted by Black’s theatrics, which another Named (I forget which) was very clear was strictly unnecessary. He might well get his name by a touch from Pilgrim. Pilgrim could apply a thwack upside the head with his new staff (I assume he’ll just pick one out of the Twilight environment), but Pilgrim is way less theatrical than Black was, so I doubt he’ll do that unless Razin manages to annoy him first.

                Liked by 3 people

                1. Razin is the son of the Grim Binder, he is widely known as the child without magic that still stands against beast. He faced the black queen survived, faced the drow on the fields and survived, challenged Yanu in front of assembly of all under the dominion. In the future he will bed the slayer, trick the brigand, and maybe even duel Yanu then deny him death so he will forever live in shame, and for all these deeds and more he will be recognized by the Peregrine who unbeknownst to all killed his own nephew to ensure peace. No to mention his country right now does not have to follow him but they do out of loyalty to his decisions. Nothing binds them to him they follow him because they see the soul of a hero in his blood. His actions have proven as much.

                  Razin will be the one he will see as the future for Dominion someone who sees past there honor and what is good and instead focus on what must be done however much it cost personally.

                  I think with all these feats it would be foolish not to think he should at least become a candidate for a name. Don’t forget the side of good has been loosing a great deal of heroes lately. I think they are seeking new heroes to fill in the gaps left by old. He can fulfill some story line that has him defeat the dead king or atleast be apart of the group that faces the hidden horror. the weakest hero usually yeild the greatest pivot for the heavens to work through.

                  Liked by 2 people

          2. In particular, note how he set “true” honor against Yannu’s “careful” exploitation of the rules. “[Do you actually care about honor, or just killing anyone who says “no” to you?]”

            And the keystone: “We have to be willing to lose, Aquiline, to bend.”. Honor-duels to the death are for people who can’t handle losing, who’d rather burn the house down than move to a different chair.

            Liked by 4 people

    1. WuseMajor

      Eh, peacemakers don’t get Names.

      ….ok, well, the Grey Pilgrim is still taken and he’d probably think it was sacrilegious to end up with any name other than Grim Binder.

      Still, people remember and write stories about Warriors, not diplomats.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. My very own name

        Hierarch is pretty much a diplomat Name, at least originally.

        And peacemakers might be the minority, but they are there as well. If they truly believe in peace, it would be possible to fuel a Name.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. There might be an issue as to which Name would fit. That was Grey Pilgrim work, and he’s of the wrong line. Also… that Name is currently complicated by being a little bit of a silver mackerel tabby of the Schrödinger variety. :/

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “Pilgrim” means “wanderer”. Tariq earned the Name by going off to wander the land and do good where he can. Until and unless Razin goes on a similar journey, he cannot lay claim there.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. erebus42

      I mean Razin has been in the process of reevaluating himself ever since getting his ass handed to him by Cat and his father dying. I’m personally ok with him having an epiphany. It may be sudden but it wasn’t completely out of nowhere

      Liked by 17 people

      1. Ultimate_Procrastinator

        Also, people reassessing what’s important to them right after the death of a family member or friend (like, say, a father killed in an honor duel) is pretty realistic, as is them suddenly committing to things they would not have before

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Shequi

    That’s an interesting turn; fresh from a fight as a great swordsman, and now speaking cooperation. I think Bestowal approaches for Razin Tanja of the Grim Binder’s Blood.

    Liked by 11 people

        1. Andrew Mitchell

          My money’s on a new Name. But I’m also in two minds about whether or not he will get a Name and if so whether or not that will be a good thing. I mean, I’d hate for him to get a leadership related Name and then be excluded from actually leading the Levantines.

          Liked by 2 people

  4. Decius

    The Peregrine’s values appear to have migrated to a new host, who is willing to see himself dishonored if it means not forcing an unending series of feuds and wars over honor.

    Liked by 12 people

  5. Andrew Mitchell

    I was NOT expecting Cat’s chastisement of Razin to have such an impact so quickly. She certainly knows what words to say.

    It’s going to be great seeing the GP rally the assembly of captains in person, and not just as a corpse.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Catherine serves as a wise crone without even trying to – she didn’t actually mean anything by her words other than the immediate context, she just chose them well enough they ended up echoing to apply everywhere ❤ ❤ ❤

      Cha 20!

      Liked by 12 people

      1. > Catherine serves as a wise crone without even trying to

        More like a “wise child”, really. A crone is the representative of tradition and accumulated wisdom. But a wise child can answer what a crone cannot, precisely because they “don’t know better” — they are not blinded by “received wisdom”, nor bound by precedent.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I would say “do not look away from what happened today” is more along the lines of “canned yet still actually valid wisdom” that you’d get from a crone :3

          Catherine’s thing is very largely repeating rather obvious things that she was brought up on and then recontextualized and verified: killing is bad, trust is good, etc. That’s the “old person” kind of wisdom, not the child kind :3

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Huh? I’d say the opposite, “killing is bad, trust is good” is simple enough for a child. It’s the “grown-ups” who then tell children “don’t trust those people“, and “explain” (justify) why they have to hurt someone. (Especially when they say “it’s for your own good”!) But more generally, it’s young folks that challenge the rules, while old folks try to enforce them.

            The Pilgrim himself was a classic example, until Cat battered him into yielding by demonstrating that her methods could consistently beat his. Cat’s brilliance is in taking what she’s been taught and transforming it with creativity, specifically by challenging the assumptions that came along with it.

            Liked by 3 people

            1. Do note that when she was younger Catherine very much favored the approach of “kill it with fire until it stops moving”. It’s the dynamic – is the person saying the thing because they haven’t yet been taught otherwise, or are they saying it because they tried the other way and found out this one was better? Catherine has very much tried the other way. It’s not about the simplicity, it’s about the source of the wisdom. Catherine’s is experience. disproportionally extensive for her age.

              Liked by 3 people

      1. ninegardens

        I mean… similar OP story role, with mysterious motives and questionable free will but…

        I was gonna say but, but then after that list I’m not so sure.

        Bard has to LEARN her skills. She has age, but learning. Contessa gets them by magic, but has no context.
        in some sense, I’d say Bard is Wis/Cha while Contessa is (effectively) Int and Dex.

        But yes, having thought about, I agree, the similarities run deep.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. RandomFan

        That’s one model. I think it’s the least useful: Contessa has a goal, and motions to get to them, but there’s no logic to the tapestry, and the only thing you can do to mitigate her is make victory impossible, or to use weaknesses that I don’t think anyone in canon both knows and can exploit.

        Another is this: Bard is a very wise, but still limited, seer, who is frantically trying to tug the story her way. She’s falible, she’s failed before and will fail again, but usually the failures only have prices in time, suffering or forms she doesn’t have to pay. There’s not much you can do to beat her, but there’s a lot that can make her lose- it’s just a lot harder to make her stay defeated than anything else, and she has some amount of supernatural support for her

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Andrew Mitchell

      (I expect Gillan was a typo and you meant Villain.)

      I think a Villain Name is unlikely, but not impossible. He’s not setting out to take or exercise power for himself. He’s just using his leadership skills & position to shake up an existing system for the good of everyone. I think that’s pretty unambiguously Good. Plus, you know, Levantines as a nation are aligned to Good. I think Razin’s headed towards a Good Name.

      I don’t know what it would be though. What do you think?

      Liked by 8 people

      1. Jessica Day

        Seeing as this change was wrought by Cat, I think we may be moving away from names. Just look at the princess in the previous chapter, upset at how names decide her life and others. The closer we get to the Accords, the more I think Cat’s influence will be pushing people away from names. She herself no longer has a name and neither does Vivienne. And now people begin to break away from those old stories…

        And so when the young heir stands between 2 blades it feels less like someone trying to impose their will and more like someone pleading for a better way, for a change to the old system.

        Liked by 3 people

          1. My very own name

            But we have to take into account the fact that Levantine culture highly values its Named, while Procer, as a culture, does not easily lead to Named. So, probably, Levantines get many more Named.

            Liked by 2 people

    2. caoimhinh

      His desire is not to break the system nor is it powered by ambitions, he merely wants the well-being of his nation and to stop needless bloodshed.
      If he actually gets a Name, it will be a Heroic one.

      Liked by 9 people

      1. dalazar6942

        Based on the prologue of PGtE, the first page of the book of all things no less, The two sides of the debate that have come to be called Good and Evil, or Above and Below, actually are neither. They spawned out of the choice between guidance and rule, or control. However, looking at the behaviors of both sides, from the Choirs’ absolute values and requirements, and the Devils overwriting of localized reality, you have to appreciate that it’s never really been specified whether Good or Evil represented guidance or rule. So as for Good = Law and Evil = Chaos, just look at the republic of Bellephron. Law = Chaos = Evil.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. IIRC we have word of god from EE that Above and Below actually do correspond roughly to good and evil as we would conventionally understand them. As far as the Book of All Things goes, it’s no more necessarily correct than any other book written by mortals.

          Further, even if the BoAT is correct there I don’t think the Gods making Creation to settle an argument over guidance/control vs. freedom/anarchy (depending on what coat of paint you put on each of those) necessarily invalidates the premise that they’re actually good and evil respectively. You can make an argument that they wouldn’t use creation to settle an argument over good vs. evil as such because there is no settling such an argument between two sets of entities that are (meta)physically incapable of changing their nature; an argument over approach, on the other hand, might actually be possible to settle.

          Liked by 5 people

          1. Qwormuli

            Gods have no precedent in inability to change and the only(albeit not 100% reliable, I’ll agree) source present claims the opposite. Demons too, are capable of change, it seems. Only angels are seen as static(currently) and I suspect them to be as far from the big G’s as us.

            Liked by 2 people

        2. I mean, the Book of All Things is just. A religious book. Both Catherine and Laurence have commented on its limited… credibility.

          And WoG is that Good=good and Evil=evil…

          And honestly the in-universe conclusion of it works as well -_-

          Liked by 2 people

        3. StarlightGlimmer

          My crazy conspiracy theory is that Above and Below do not map to the factions of the Titans, but there are elements of both in each. Contrition and Justice are aligned with the Titans who seek to rule mortals, given their demands for total obedience, while Mercy is aligned with guiding mortals to something greater. Below offers power to get someone started making their own way, and they offer the creation destroying power of demons to prove mortals are too foolish to make their own way. As I said, crazy conspiracy theory.

          Liked by 1 person

    3. Qwormuli

      The people responding to you seem to forgotten differences between good and Good and vice versa, it seems to me. Personally, I think of it as a bit of a tossup, if he even gets a name, as diffusers of strife have had rough times with names.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ben Serreau-Raskin

    Man, Razin is really growing on me.

    Fascinating look at the internal politics of Levant. They’re trying to run their government like a band of Five but none of them can stand each other.

    Liked by 11 people

    1. The part where Razin tried to stop Aquiline, but Yannu agreed to her argument he is delirious from pain… and Razin thought “of course he’d rather kill her than me”. Like, holy fucking shit. Their law is based on emotional decisions made in the height of passion, but it doesn’t exactly enforce that you aren’t allowed to do the same things out of political convenience, how would it? Even though that’s not the intent.

      This is just… pain. All pain.

      Liked by 8 people

        1. Less stupid and more horrifying. “Which of the two teenagers is it more politically convenient for me to murder through the opportunity given to me by killing the father of one of them?”

          Liked by 9 people

          1. caoimhinh

            Also, arrogant. Their take on “honor” is simply fame and prestige, not actual honorable conduct, morals or ethics.
            On another note, Razin and Aquiline are at least in their early twenties. I’m almost sure Aquiline is older than Catherine.
            Cat just came out of the Ever Dark calling practically everyone without wrinkles in the face a child, because she now feels like an old lady weary due to waging war. Going like “look at them, they are so young” when they are her age and older, hahaha.

            She has also had a streak of condescending thoughts during this book, though it’s less noticeable when she is thinking about someone who is older than thirty. Kairos is the notable exception to all this, as he is about 16-17 years old but Cat has never acted or even thought in a condescending manner about Kairos; this is of course because Kairos is a dangerous individual who has proved that can’t be underestimated, he is a Named armed with madness visionary wisdom and large resourcefulness, after all.

            Liked by 10 people

            1. I wouldn’t call ‘oh my god why are CHILDREN in their twenties COMMANDING ARMIES’ condescending… but then, I think like that too (and I’m not much older than Cat AND I WOULD NOT LIKE TO COMMAND AN ARMY THANKS)

              tbf their take on honor is SUPPOSED to include morals. That’s why Razin still has something to compare it to. It just, uh, derailed a little along the way -_-

              Oh, and Kairos is no more than a year younger than Cat. He was 16 as of Interlude: Precipitation, which falls on Cat being 17 but not yet 18.

              Liked by 3 people

              1. Cat complaining about “children” commanding armies is pretty rich. I think she herself is still young enough to be snippy about people who “don’t get it” — that is, she lacks the maturity to realize that just because she’s figured something out doesn’t mean it is, or should be, obvious to everyone else.

                Liked by 3 people

                1. caoimhinh

                  I know, right?
                  She came out of the Ever Dark with the attitude of someone facing a mid-life crisis, suddenly everyone under 30 is “so young” and she starts to condescend them and feel bad for fighting them because she is “killing children”, plus her interactions with the Good King Edward showed plans of dying once she succeeds in stopping the meaningless wars…
                  And she is just 21. She should stop acting like a 70 years-old veteran who fought in both World Wars. She has seen some very nasty shit in her campaigns from both sides of the fence of Good and Evil, which makes sense for her to be weary of war and slaughter, but the condescending attitude should stop. It’s really not like Catherine to look at someone and treat them like ignorant children simply because of their age, when she knows perfectly well that wisdom doesn’t come from age but from experience and some of the brightest people she has met are as young as her (like Akua, Masego and Indrani).

                  Liked by 1 person

                    1. caoimhinh

                      True, there isn’t.
                      But there’s a whole world of difference in “I don’t want to kill people” and “I don’t want to kill these ignorant innocent children”, especially when those “children” are about the same age of the person saying it (in their late teens and early twenties).

                      Saying “you are mistaken” is not the same as saying “you made a mistake, idiot”, two completely different attitudes, right?

                      It’s not about the act, but the attitude.
                      The issue here is that Catherine is mentally putting herself both distant and above the others, with an attitude of “I know the answer, and you ignorant brats don’t.” which one could see when Winter took hold of her (at those times, both her speech and inner thoughts narration patterns shifted to a more prideful tone, like a predator staring at prey) but the current Cat is free of that mental influence and principle alienation, plus she is taking a more humane path that aims to benefit everyone in Calernia as a whole, beyond being Good or Evil, so that condescending attitude is not fitting with her nor suitable for her goals.

                      Liked by 2 people

                  1. Well, that’s what I’m saying. That prematurely world-weary attitude, condescending to those who don’t see what she sees — that’s classic teenage behavior, though it does sometimes last into early 20s.

                    Normally parents don’t appreciate that, and try to train it out of their own kids… but Cat hasn’t had much in the way of actual parenting.

                    Learning not to condescend is something that (sometimes) comes with maturity. She’ll get there — even while she’s been battering and manipulating others to her will, she’s also been getting her own harsh lessons.

                    Liked by 3 people

                    1. caoimhinh

                      Hmm, I would argue that world-weary attitude, condescending attitude is something that comes from old people.
                      The pretense that one has all answers and can do things better than everyone else if one were in their position, or that one can do everything one sets to do if one simply had the right chance, and usually blaming others for the lack of those, that’s teenage attitude.

                      It’s common to see a defiant teenager thinking he knows better than the elders and accompanied with the eagerness to prove it, however it’s the elders who have the weariness in their attitude when they say things like “Oh, child, if you only knew” while sighing into the distance and wondering why the world is as it is, which is kinda what Cat has been doing.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    2. Old people come by world-weariness and the voice of experience honestly (e.g., Pilgrim and Saint). When teenagers do it, it’s unwarranted and usually misaimed. Cat is an exceptional case, exactly because she’s facing “experience and treachery” with “youthful vigor, idealism”… and also some treachery of her own. Not to mention lateral thinking for good measure. 😉

                      Liked by 3 people

                    3. caoimhinh

                      Exactly.

                      I agree with you, but I think my point stands. Cat really shouldn’t be looking into the distance and sighing while saying “they are so young” when she sees people that are her same age.

                      Liked by 2 people

              2. caoimhinh

                Yeah, but Catherine isn’t horrified by young people leading armies, she is looking at them with a melancholic expression and muttering to herself “look at them… so young, with so much life ahead, and I have to kill them” as if she were an old person. That’s the attitude that someone like Pilgrim or Saint would have, after a lifetime of fighting and arriving to the point where their enemies are people vastly younger than themselves. Cat shouldn’t be acting in such a way, she is not much older than any of them.

                Dominion’s Honor has stopped being moral a long time ago, to the point that right now it’s all about fame and prestige, “saving face” like they say in chinese novels, it seems like the ones who practiced honors including morals were only their founders.

                I think Kairos was like 3-4 years younger than Cat, when we were first shown Kairos, he had just come to power, and he was somewhere between 13 and 15, Cat was already close to 18 (she was 15 by chapter 1, making her 16 by the beginning of book 2 and 17 somewhere in the middle of it -we never know of Catherine’s birthdays, she and other people simply vaguely mention her age at intervals-).

                Liked by 2 people

                1. >Cat shouldn’t be acting in such a way, she is not much older than any of them.

                  Don’t see why she shouldn’t. True statements remain true, and “young people shouldn’t be dying in a war” is a true statement regardless of how old the person saying it is.

                  >when we were first shown Kairos, he had just come to power

                  Nope! He was 16 and he’d been a ruler for a solid 3 years by then. I can’t really look for the quote right now but he’s mentioned to be 16 in Precipitation.

                  And Cat would be about 17.5 in Precipitation, bc reasonable timeline puts her birthday in winter and Precipitation was in summer. So depending on when Kairos’s birthday is, he could be exactly a year younger (16.5), a year and a half younger (just turned 16), or half a year younger (about to be 17). Or anything in between, a year being average.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. IIRC even Cat doesn’t know her actual birthday, given she’s a foundling. Of course, many cultures in our own world count age by “winters”, New Year’s, Midsummer’s Day, or such like; that’s mostly cultures that don’t have very good calendars, but in this case something like that would be a reasonable measure for the orphanage to take.

                    Liked by 2 people

                    1. More likely her birthdate is recorded as the day she was taken in as a ward by the Imperial Orphanage. Or the day she was “found”, if those aren’t the same.
                      Ie, if she were found at the Orphanage’s front door, she’d probably be taken in right away, but if she was left/found somewhere else, she might not have been taken immediately to the Orphanage as a ward, but might have been treated as a misplaced child with parents to be located.

                      Liked by 3 people

                    2. Huh, yeah, she probably counts her ‘birthday’ on the new year (which there’s no reason not to assume to be in midwinter, seeing how that’s what fits with the timeline decently).

                      Liked by 1 person

        1. Right?? I’m predicting the Peregrine showing up at the height of the conclave dealy the Levantines are calling and basically looking like he came back from the dead to back Razin up, so talk about a credibility booster there.

          (Meanwhile I’m betting Cat will actually be giving her armies and prob the Procerans an absolutely scalding talking-to for almost starting the fight she’s put so much effort into stopping by being paranoid and freaking out; let’s note that for all the dysfunction in the Levantines’ council here “taking vengeance” on the Black Queen like everybody else was thinking they’d try to was literally never even on the table for a single second).

          Liked by 7 people

  7. Novice

    Cat changing the core stories of different nations small step by small step is honestly a treat to behold. I can’t wait for the debates/discussions between characters when the Accords proposal hits the table.

    Also, I’m glad this particular ship is still sailing. Not gonna lie, sliding a knife through his belly as the start of the courtship is metal as fuck.

    Liked by 18 people

    1. RoflCat

      Imagine a ‘how I met you mother’ moment in the future.

      “So we hated each other’s guts at the start, then I found her fighting figure very hot, and then she confessed to me with a stab to the stomach”

      Liked by 19 people

          1. And at least seven different poisons, darling. None of this “just use ricin” boorishness, either. A proper wedding requires an interlocking web of toxins that coordinate as a distinct theme. Preferably to go with/ culminate with the flowers.

            Liked by 5 people

  8. erebus42

    Well well Razin Tanja, aren’t you full of surprises. Looks like Cat made a good call in sparing you.
    Also, awww Aquiline you big romantic! Nothing say love like a knife wound in the stomach and volunteering as their champion in a duel to the death. I’m shipping you guys already. #Raziline

    Liked by 15 people

      1. caoimhinh

        Captains of Malava: Lord Razin! What happened? You are wounded!
        Razin (still bleeding and clutching his stomach): *smiles wryly* Well. it’s a funny story, actually.
        Captains of Malava: What happened, sir?
        Razin: Well… I started a courtship with Lady Aquiline.
        Captains of Malava: Oh. That explains it. Good for you, sir. We see it was successful.
        Razin: Is that sarcasm or do you really believe me?
        Captains of Malava: Yes.

        Liked by 21 people

          1. caoimhinh

            I learned recently thanks to the advise of other commenters, now I will pass on the wisdom.
            Basically you just add variations of before and after the words that you want changed, but in the closure you need to put

            So for example, to write bold words you put the letter b inside the and you put /b inside the closing to mark that it is the end of the words you want altered.
            That way, we can write in bold words , in itallics and even in slashed text .
            It’s pretty cool right? Adds a nice touch to the commends.

            This site can show you how to do it in more detail and with many more examples:
            https://www.w3schools.com/html/html_formatting.asp

            Liked by 2 people

              1. Andrew Mitchell

                Both names are correct. They’re inequality signs when they are being used in mathematics. And angled brackets when used in text (and HTML text formatting).

                Liked by 2 people

              1. Andrew Mitchell

                ASFAIK it’s just simple HTML formatting. But give it a CSS a go and let me know what you find. 🙂

                BTW I recently discovered that the same simple HTML formatting can be used on Patreon as well.

                Liked by 1 person

          2. caoimhinh

            Eh, the previous comment didn’t come out as I expected. I made an image to explain better and uploaded it to imgur, here’s the link:

            Nevertheless, the link I posted in the comment above leads you to a site that explains how to use the html script commands.

            Liked by 2 people

                1. Most blogs use either HTML or BBcode for comments; Github and (IIRC) MediaWiki use markdown. Using something besides HTML is a pretty good security measure — if your site isn’t passing comments through an HTML parser at all, you don’t have to worry about security holes in a parser that’s trying (and perhaps failing) to dumb down a full-power HTML engine (letting visitors write HTML code for public display is a security nightmare).

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. My very own name

                    MediaWiki unfortunately has its own syntax. It’s similar to Markdown in some ways, but not at all in others. I feel like it’s usually more powerful, but at the same time makes for uglier “source code”, which is understandable, given that Markdown was the one made specifically to look pretty with or without processing.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Andrew Mitchell

                      Good points. You made me consider which one started first and my feeling was that MediaWiki was created much earlier but I was wrong. MediaWiki launched in 2003 and Markdown was invented in 2004 so they may have been separate efforts or Markdown may have been an effort to make something better than MediaWiki’s approach.

                      Like

              1. There’s a certain amount of backoff so that random less-than signs or backslashes don’t break text when they weren’t actually being used in HTML elements. However, you can also use entities to get various characters when they would otherwise start something in HTML:

                &lt; for <
                &gt; also works for > (but is usually unnecessary)
                &amp; for &

                Liked by 2 people

        1. Raved Thrad

          Meanwhile, in the Tartessan corner:
          “Do you see? Looks like he got knifed.”
          “Is that…?”
          “Yes. Looks like she angled it just right.”
          “Gods Above, she must be so hot for him!”
          “Tell the attendants to lay out the good pillows. And the red bed spread. That way, the blood stains don’t show.”
          “Squee!”

          Liked by 7 people

            1. Raved Thrad

              That really depends on whether or not they’ve both had enough blood flowing foreplay to proceed directly to the thrusting boinking. No screaming, though: apparently both like it quiet.

              Liked by 3 people

              1. caoimhinh

                Oh? That trilogy has been recommended to me before, I’m told it has an interesting take on angels, plus certain… themes about the search of love and pleasure. With the main character being an anguissette.

                Liked by 2 people

          1. caoimhinh

            And let’s not forget that Razin comes from a long line of Binders, so he probably has training in bondage.
            This is quite the kinky pair, aren’t they? After all, Razin has just awakened to the pleasure of knife-point courtship by Aquiline. Hahahahaha

            Liked by 3 people

      1. Sparsebeard

        Yet, if you reverse the roles and a villain made a flying realm where everyone and their pure breed Zombie horse could walk through (except the living I presume) people would start to get offended… discrimination I tell you!

        I wonder if the DK could send a small band of adventurers to protect all that is evil and unholy from this abomination!!!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Actually I don’t think they’d be offended. Terrified, maybe, but only if the villain actually used the realm to attack them, otherwise it’d be like the Dark Day protocols: nobody actually KNOWS those exist 😀

          Liked by 2 people

        2. I suspect that his Revenants don’t normally get their own storylines, being subordinate to their master. King Edward was an exception, but he was carrying his own original storyline, to the effect of “the Good King has been in durance vile, but eventually there shall come a chance for redemption and revenge”. For that matter, he’d said as much back in Keter… and it seems even the Dead King failed his Evil Overlord Trope save against it.

          Liked by 4 people

    1. Not quite, but Cat is totally putting the lie to Malicia’s claim that the Age of Wonders has ended. New goddess(es), formerly hidden race comes out as badasses, new (friendly) fork of Arcadia, and of course a legendary Queen to match Triumphant.

      Liked by 8 people

        1. Raved Thrad

          With how often Chekhov’s Gun is used in this series, I wouldn’t be surprised if, at some point, it is revealed that Catherine is the reincarnation of Triumphant.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Andrew Mitchell

            ASFAIK there’s no reincarnation in PGtE. Unless you count devils which get a clean re-spawn.

            But the Triumphant thing does seem to be a gun ready to fire but no one really knows when or where. Except EE, of course.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Eh,,, apparently the Praesi have been doing that MSNR thing almost since her defeat (thousands of years?). As one of the others (Hakram?) said, “that is a prayer” — and while Below isn’t terribly demonstrative, I suspect even they will respect a prayer that’s been repeated by an entire nation for millennia. My puckish suggestion aside, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

              That said, the legend of the Black Queen might well eclipse that of the Dread Empress! Indeed, that might be a key factor in Cat’s long-term success. After all, she is trying to rewrite the stories!

              Liked by 3 people

  9. caoimhinh

    LMAO, I like Aquiline, starting the formal courtship with a knife. That’s one crazy woman, but that means a very interesting relationship for Razin. And it pretty much assures us that there will be no being unfaithful to that wife.

    Good for Razin for being the voice of reason, willing to risk shame and death for the sake of what is right rather than their wicked version of honor that honestly seems like nothing more than reputation and fame, rather than true honorable deeds.

    Who would have thought that the first one to agree with him and back his proposal of looking for a peaceful solution would be Itima?
    The interludes aren’t over yet, it seems I was right there was something more than the Levantines marching to fight; apparently there won’t be even the slightest conflict now, just the other two armies tensing due to their speculation while the Dominion’s army is actually just holding an assembly, not preparing to fight. If they send a message to Procer the doubts will be cleared pretty fast.

    Unless… maybe the place Catherine will appear (with the Peregrine, but no one knows that) is somewhere close to Levant’s camp, or worse, in the middle of their camp. That would mean that Hakram, who has friendship-powered radar attuned to Catherine, will march a group of Legionaries there, that could really add to the tension since it could easily be misunderstood.

    Typos found:
    they granted gits / they granted gifts
    he would perfectly hale / he would be perfectly hale
    By smoke add dust / By smoke and dust
    It the Vaccei swords left / If the Vaccei swords left
    the though disgusted him / the thought disgusted him
    The brought it / They brought it
    Razin’s heard racing / Razin’s heart racing
    out of the put / out of the pit

    Liked by 6 people

    1. IDKWhoitis

      I’m personally worried that after a silent and quick chat, Pilgrim will tell Cat he should stay dead.

      Like he has acculumated a lot of narrative weight that can be used, and maybe he is really broken over Saint dying.
      Or maybe Fate will be a fickle bitch, and the Twilight realm won’t work with a guiding star of some sort…

      So Cat showing up with Grey’s corpse in the middle of the Lev camp will truly turn the tension well past 11.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. >I’m personally worried that after a silent and quick chat, Pilgrim will tell Cat he should stay dead.

        And you think she’ll just take that? Pfff. She’ll come back with him bound and gagged if she has to

        Liked by 9 people

      2. caoimhinh

        I think he will take it with resignation, accepting that he still has a role to fulfill, besides, the Ophanim will be there talking to him, so that will probably help him cope with his resurrection better.
        Pilgrim had said that he was weary from the long life he has lived and the bitter experience of fighting Evil and alleviating suffering in the world, but he referred to his death as “when the Heavens see fit to let me rest” so I don’t think he will run or become depressed, nor do I think he will blame Cat or the Angels for his resurrection. He will carry on with his duty; I actually believe he will be more shocked by the fact that the Ophanim allowed Cat to do resurrect him, that could blow his mind.

        Liked by 7 people

          1. caoimhinh

            Living to the limit, right?
            Then again, if one is faithful, one has nothing to fear of a Yandere. Those guys only die due to being cheaters XD.

            Like

  10. IDKWhoitis

    It seems like our boy here might be getting the first shivers of a Name…
    And he seems to be fond of breaking traditions and cycles…
    Using the words our dear old Cat tossed at him.

    Also, I was have expecting the Grey Pilgrim to come into the tent near the end screaming something along the lines of “What are you doing children?!?”

    Liked by 8 people

  11. Amy Lear

    At this point I’m genuinely starting to be concerned that erraticerrata might actually consume all of the remaining awesome left in the universe before completing this book.

    At this rate, our universe will be left pale and barren beyond the one spark of a tome, and its sequel will never be written because there is simply nothing left.

    Please, erraticerrata, you must stop. Or, if you cannot stop, you must slow down.

    All of existence is in peril at your hands.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Andrew Mitchell

      I choose to believe that awesomeness is an unlimited resource and that the more awesomeness there is the faster it grows.

      This recent arc has been better than I could have imagined… So the next book?!? My💥mind💥!💥!💥!💥💥💥💥💥💥💥💥

      Liked by 7 people

    2. caoimhinh

      Don’t worry, Great Authors like ErraticErrata have a personal Dimensional Gate to the Elemental Plane of Awesome.
      Our universe’s amount of Awesomenium is safe and ever-increasing in fact, thanks to the vast quantities they pour in their works.

      Liked by 9 people

    1. Yanu knew what he was doing was cowardly, and he would not be able to hold his throne if ran away especially with the slayer’s woman all but guaranteeing his name would be mud.

      He would go back home be killed by his own men/kin “for the blood”

      Liked by 2 people

  12. broadaxe

    Hmm, It’s intersting that originally they had the make a god, then slay the god to get the realm they needed, but they ended up with a still borne god that they then ressurected. Just thought of that, curious reversal of the plans 😛

    Liked by 8 people

    1. caoimhinh

      They made a god, then that god abdicated his throne and a large part of his power but likely retained a lot of it, then they put another person on the throne of that god and we don’t know if he became a god too for a while (though I don’t think so, given how he simply stabbed himself with a common sword and bled to death so perhaps the transfiguration hadn’t taken place yet) and then he died, but was resurrected probably as a mortal again…

      Just as planned.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. caoimhinh

          Not exactly.
          Cat couldn’t feel any power from them, but she could tell there was something there, they were not mere mortals.
          They are an entirely new kind of Fae, and we are still uncertain wheter the death of the Twilight King (Tariq, as he was the one with the crown at the moment) means the disolution of the Twilight Court of Fae, and if the former Wild Hunt still have a connection to it through which they can draw power, or maybe they are completely free Fae unbound to any Court right now.

          Liked by 3 people

  13. Nairne .01

    I have been wondering about the nature of the Bard’s powers.

    What if roles, names, the narrative is part of a domain that is spread across the whole continent of Celernia? Even if it’s not the Bard’s domain, what if there is a god that didn’t join a side, and is just enjoying the show. The Hierarch called her a servant of Stillness.

    It just came to me when I thought how Cat influenced Razin.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. So this is not the first time a woman stabbed a man in the stomach as a means of saving their life.

    Beginning of courtship, end of apprenticeship, you say pot-ay-to I say pot-ah-to 😀

    Liked by 6 people

  15. Author Unknown

    Instead he swallowed a gasp when he felt a knife slide into his lower belly. He’d not even seen her draw. Still studying him, the Lady of Tartessos nodded approvingly.

    “You didn’t scream,” she said, sounding proud. “Good. You may consider this the formal beginning of our courtship.”

    I can’t help but feel this is still more humane than high school romances.

    Liked by 10 people

      1. So in order to win a girls heart from a slayers group
        -46 lashes
        -Face an old horror that lived beneath the ground murdering it’s own kin
        -Save her life, twice
        – Take a shank in the belly without screaming

        You may now begin courtship…

        Liked by 4 people

    1. If he was to receive a name it might be a villainous one he is going against one of the practices of the above. Evil names are not just for the “bad” people they are for the people who want to change the reality of there world through there own means not relying on the heavens.

      Just saying Hierarch(absolute democracy), Archer(freedom in all things), Heirophant (dissecting miracles). Theses are not exactly evil. The peaceful approach that Razin is ordering the dominion to take goes against 300 years of ingrained honor. The champions blood Mansin was willing to throw away his life for honor/ the blood.

      Razin is asking them to turn away from there blood. to betray what they have built there nation on. He is hinting at causing the same amount of upheaval that Chat demanded of the drow “to be better”. Even more alarming he was successful by only shedding his own blood.

      He is at the precipice for something but maybe not a heroic name.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good is “follow these rules for everyone’s sake”. Evil is “do whatever you want and can get away with”. Yannu is a lot closer to Evil than Razin is; the latter is just reminding people that there are more rules than the ones about when you get to try and kill someone.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. >Evil names are not just for the “bad” people they are for the people who want to change the reality of there world through there own means not relying on the heavens.

        No.

        Most heroes don’t “rely” on the Heavens for anything, Heavens just choose to support them.

        Evil Names are for:

        – people who deliberately turn to Below for power;
        – people politically aligned with Evil.

        Liked by 2 people

  16. mavant

    [i]I wait outside the pilgrim’s door
    With insufficient schemes.
    The black queen chants
    the funeral march,
    The cracked brass bells will ring;
    To summon back the fire witch
    To the court of the crimson king.[/i]

    Liked by 4 people

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