Chapter 58: Prolong

“All are free, or none. Ye of this land, suffer no compromise in this.”
– Inscription on the founding stele of Bellerophon

My heart skipped a beat. Certainly, it was no deep secret that I had bound Akua Sahelian to the collar of the Mantle of Woe and there would be some who suspected the true nature of the ‘Advisor Kivule’. Still, none I’d not brought into the secret had ever spoken of it until now save for Kairos Theodosian. And the Tyrant could have bargained for that knowledge with the Dead King, who knew all of my deeds that Masego had known of, or even through the use of whatever aspect allowed him to be so sharply perceptive of the wants of others. Black, though? If he knew now it was either because officers of the Legions-in-Exile both knew and had passed it along since he woke, or because it’d been known to him before he was captured. Or maybe, I reluctantly thought, he’d just known me well enough from the start to tell where that story was headed.

“Flowery language, that was,” I carefully said. “Perhaps a little lacking in precision.”

His face had grown no easier to read, for all the purported insouciance he’d been carrying himself with since he woke.

“Use them,” Black said. “Our madmen, our warlocks and sorcerers. Give them laws, give them coin and great undertakings to embrace. Else they find all these on their own.”

I calmed, the slightest bit. It was still no small thing, he was speaking of – Cardinal as neutral grounds for the Accords as well as the seat of the legion that’d enforce them by steel if need be would already be costly, but to make it a centre of sorcery as well? I was no great scholar of sorcery, but I’d had a close looks at the deep pockets required for the sort of research that Masego and his father had considered to be leading-edge. The costs to both found and fund a mage’s school would be daunting, to say the last. He wasn’t wrong about the virtues of keeping Praesi mages occupied, though, especially those who would have before then spent much of their years learning the intricacies of diabolism. The notion of even a hundred furious highborn Wasteland warlocks out in the world with little left to lose was the sort of thing disasters were made of. And quite possible Named, though I’d always known that dropping this large a stone in the pond would cause ripples. I’d counted on it, in truth. If instead of ruinous wars between Good and Evil I could instead make the crux of the conflict strife between Named that heeded their laws and did not? Then it became a war of Names, not nations, and Calernia avoided another coming of Akua’s Folly.

“Did you perhaps believe I meant the shade of Akua Sahelian?” the green-eyed man casually asked, smile sudden and sharp.

His sense of humour, it seemed, had not been gentled by the loss of his Name. I supposed that’d been a little too much to hope for.

“Oh, it would please some of High Lords to have her placed in position of importance,” he conceded. “Yet when it comes to the Doom of Liesse, my advice will always remain the same: no matter how clever you believe your scheme to be, it isn’t. Kill her now, in full and beyond anyone’s mending.”

“I have a purpose for her,” I said.

“And she for you, Catherine,” he chided. “It would hardly do to forget that. If a single victory was all it took to bind the highborn to one’s cause, the Tower would not change rulers the way other lands change seasons.”

“I know that,” I said, a tad sharply. “There’s a lot you don’t know, Black. Couldn’t know, because after I told you to get your shit together you instead decided to take a walk through the heartlands of Procer with a torch in hand.”

“A calculated measure meant to ensure the Principate could not continue waging war as it had,” he said. “The morality of it I’ve no intention of debating, though I’ll say that if the First Prince of Procer intends to use massed levies to fight wars then she marked her peasantry as a war asset by her own hand.”

“You condemned hundreds of thousands to a slow death by starvation,” I flatly said. “Not innocents, perhaps, not all of them. But certainly non-combatants. There are manners in which waging war is acceptable, Black, and you used to know them. You didn’t allow sacks during the Conquest, or any of the other myriad atrocities that followed the old Legions like a loyal dog.”

“I set boundaries appropriate to the manner of outcome I desired,” Black calmly replied. “As I did in the Principate. There can be no peace settlement with a crusade, Catherine. They end when one side is no longer capable of prosecuting the war. I took the most swift and plausible path to that ending.”

“You also failed,” I told him. “Failed hard enough my Marshal had to commit Callow’s armies to bailing out your own and I had to tangle with two of the most potent heroes alive to take back your soul after they’d fucking cut it out.”

I would have thought less of him, after, if he’d made the argument that the legions under Grem had bled not long before to defend the Red Flower Vales and so relief had been owed. It was true, and the debt that lay there was one of the reasons I’d not entire lost my temper at Juniper’s adventurous western campaign. But it would have been, implicitly, an admission he’d expected someone to step in and save him. Coming from the man who’d taught me to pray at the altar of taking responsibility for one’s actions, be they righteous or wicked, that would have been… disappointing.

“Indeed,” he frankly admitted. “I significantly miscalculated in both assessing the danger posed by the Grey Pilgrim and the lay of the strategies decided by Calernia’s great powers. Marching the legions north towards the Stairway would have been the correct decision, in retrospective. Klaus Papenheim would have followed us and so arrived to bolster the defence of Hainaut in time to avoid losing the shores. The losses would still have been bloody for both him and Malanza’s hosts, still leaving the First Prince in a vulnerable position but without having committed either my legions or your Army of Callow to the field.”

The assessment was spoken clearly and concisely, like some chirurgeon slicing open the cadaver of a mistake one word at a time. At least he wasn’t shying away from admitting he could blunder. And my own hands were not clean as driven snow here. Malicia might not have told him of her attempted dealings with Keter, but neither had I, so he’d made his decisions blind. And though the famine he’d wrought on the Principate was both a lasting shame and a lasting complication, it would have been dishonest to pretend I’d not also benefited from it. And from someone else doing it, too, so that my hands would not be stained by the deed.

“Procer wouldn’t be so willing to bargain with me now if you hadn’t first broken their wealthiest and most fertile territories,” I admitted. “And I’ve reason to believe that the Grey Pilgrim went after you in particular to secure a hold on me.”

He cocked his head to the side, sharp-boned face gone pensive.

“Not a hostage,” he decided. “That would have carried… considerable risks. Forcing a confrontation on his own terms, then.”

I looked at him then, the mind at work behind the pale green eyes, and still saw the bones of the man who’d become the Carrion Lord. He’d lost a mould of power, when he’d lost his Name, but the substance of what made Amadeus of the Green Stretch dangerous remained. A fresh mould might yet be found, I thought, and if it was what came of it would not be gentle. His eyes finally flicked to staff in my hand.

“Pattern of three,” he deduced.

I dipped my head, an acknowledgement that at least I suspected as much.

“Congratulations are in order, then,” Black said, to my surprise. “You have been marked the equal of one whose influence spans more than half of Calernia.”

His lips twitched, but I’d learned to tell the difference between mockery and amusement with those and this was of the latter.

“I have higher ambitions still,” I admitted.

“Indeed,” he said. “You are aware that there are some who will say the council you propose will be the true ruler of Calernia from the shadows. Especially if your proposed enforced succeed at attracting Named as well as funding a standing army.”

“It’s not going to be a campaign army like Juniper and Grem command,” I felt compelled to say. “It’ll be meant for battles and hitting cornered Names who gathered people to their banner. For large-scale warfare we’d call on the signatories.”

“That will always be one of  the weaknesses of your Accords,” Black warned. “You saw firsthand the shortcomings of a ruling council in Laure: voting blocks forming and personal interests coming to command the debates is inevitable. Forming a diplomatic council including an elected hero and villain to settle disputes will only aid so much, if every signatory’s designated representative fights for their country’s interests alone. Outside enmities and alliances will interfere with the diplomatic mechanisms functioning as intended.”

“That’s one of the reasons in need Praes to sign on and claim a seat,” I admitted. “I’m not sure the League will sign on – certainly not as long as the Hierarch lives, however long that’ll last – so without the Empire the signatories are essentially the Grand Alliance, Callow and the drow. It’ll be too imbalanced.”

“It is unlikely the Golden Bloom will deign to participate in such a treaty,” he agreed. “Or the Titanomachy, for that matter.”

Which meant Levant and Ashur, historically close allies since the Dominion’s founding, and Procer with all its wealth and influence radiating outwards. Callow and the Empire Ever Dark, as nations on the outskirts who must deal with Procer to have any significant trade presence, would inevitably end up on the outskirts of the Accords’ council as well. If the Empire was a signatory, the game changed. Ashur would have commercial interests on the Praesi coast, and the Wasteland would be closely aligned with Callow’s own interests as it would be its effective granary and strongest trade partner. If the west pulled together so would the east, and that’d prevent any bloc from commanding a strong majority in council. Which, considering that I’d set in law that such a council could call on signatories for war against a nation in breach of the Accords, was essential if I wanted them to actually function as intended. If the council in Cardinal became a way for an alliance of nations to force its influence at the expense of others, the Liesse Accords would inevitably collapse.

“A roving band of Named enforcing your laws backed by an army will earn resistance in and of itself,” Back said. “Yet combined with your insistence that Named cannot rule or own property of more than a specific total worth – which should be higher in general, by my reckoning, but significantly stricter on landholding in particular – it may very well be taken as the villain Catherine Foundling attempting to claim rulership of Calernia from behind a veil of shared laws.”

“I won’t have any particular authority under the Accords,” I pointed out. “In Cardinal itself yes, but-“

“But the Woe makes up a significant portion of living villains, you are a ruling queen with great resources at your disposal and undeniably the most famous Named of your generation,” he calmly interrupted. “It is near a certainty you will have a seat on that council as the representative for Below. That will be enough for rumours.”

“Fine,” I said. “But on the other side of the table, odds are it’ll be the Peregrine speaking for Above. The man commands a lot of trust in the west, Black.”

A moment passed.

“It has a story’s shape,” he conceded, which was praise and condemnation both. “That does not, however, change the truth that you would be risking war every time you tried to depose a popular ruler having come into a Name.”

“It’s necessary to avoid the worst Named can deal out,” I insisted. “Sure, a Good King will usually improve things more than not. And a powerful Dread Empress binds Praes together for at least part of her reign, allowing for growth. But if they share a border, what would be skirmishing between mundane rulers becomes much more prone to escalation – and capable of escalating to vicious heights no one else could reach.”

“A Good King being told to abdicate by a council mostly made up of foreigners will withdraw from the Accords and bitterly fight against any attempt to have its terms enforced upon him,” Black said. “The Dominion sees its Named as figures of religious reverence, at least those from the great lines. Even if the Pilgrim backs you, you’d be using to obtain compliance the very trait you seek to eradicate. A tower of shallow foundations, that. In Procer you might find agreement, for Named do not rule there, but where else?”

“Named are under influence,” I said. “Below or Above’s, it doesn’t matter, the judgement will always be impaired. Sometimes that impairment leads to upright deeds but even then it still remains a thinning of their ability to make clear-headed choices.”

“Will you also place law in the Accords forbidding the crowning of a drunk or an idiot?” Amadeus asked. “These, too, are impairments.”

“You know that’s not the same thing,” I said.

“I know you are attempting to dictate who can and cannot rule nations that are barely your allies if at all, nations you have not conquered or truly defeated, nation on which you are attempting to impose your personal belief in the face of centuries of culture speaking to other directions. And, most of all, this is directed at nations whose goodwill you need very badly for the Liesse Accord to exist as more than ink and fantasy,” he said, tone never rising nor ebbing low. “You are overstepping.”

My fingers clenched.

“You know we’d all be better off if we agreed on excluding Named from rule,” I said. “Gods, even just Praes getting rid of some of its-”

“Until the Dread Empire itself desires the mending of that wound, no amount of treaties will change a thing,” Black said, tone bland. “That was made plain to me, in knowing and truth. It is not enough to be correct in principle, Catherine. If you cannot offer a practical way to deliver on your beliefs, then they are wind. No one will agree on the Cardinal council having right to call signatories to war to depose a Named ruler, not even your own people once you’ve passed on the crown. It is best you make your peace with that early and prepare yourself to fight more salient battles.”

He didn’t suggest taking the articles out though, I noted. Ah, of course he wouldn’t. Since in his eyes it’d never been something worth seriously attempting, scrapping it became an easy concession in a true negotiation. I wasn’t convinced, honestly, that he was right. But I could at least consider him as a herald of the opposition I would face in days to come, and that meant at the very least some parts of this would have to be reconsidered. There was no point in making a toothless law, but one with too much bite might be even worse considering most of the signatories would have been recently at war with each other to one extent or another.

“Such as?” I asked.

“Your academy,” he said. “True, without it the Accords die with you. If your rules of engagement are not carved into a pattern all must heed, they will fade the moment the strength behind them does. Yet you must address the inherent difficulties in gathering Named and forcing lessons and laws upon them.”

“I’m not making a War College, Black,” I said. “It won’t be classes and lectures for both a fourteen-year-old Squire and a grizzled Unconquered Champion in their late thirties, that’s doomed to failure. The main purpose of the that academy is to teach the Articles of Strife – acceptable levels of violence against other Named and Nameless – and set out rules of behaviour. I expect most will attend for a few months only and wander back out into the world. But they’ll be wandering with the knowledge that seeding an undead plague in some village’s well brings Named killers down on their head, that calling an angel down on a city will get your throat slit and that city quarantined. I can’t control a continent’s worth of Named, it’d be absurd to even try. But if I can teach them rules of engagement and get them to agree that those rules should be enforced? Then the Accords have already done half of what they were meant to.”

“Short-sighted,” Black said. “Do you not realize the amount of influence Cardinal – and by extension your academy – will inevitably accrue? The Good King. The Dread Empress. The Tyrant of Helike. The Grey Pilgrim. What do all these have in commons?”

“They are or can all be the head of their nation,” I frowned.

Oh, I thought.

“The crowns of most of Calernia will spend at least half a year studying abroad in Cardinal,” I said. “Shit.”

He’d didn’t need to expand on the point any further, my mind was already spinning. If I wanted the spending of months in a foreign city to be seen as more than an imposition on a sovereign or sovereign-to-be, Cardinal needed to provide more than just an education in the intricacies of the Accords. That much could be provided by tutors when it came down to it, and that meant no one had motivation to fund Cardinal’s existence – which meant the weakening of a heart to them, and that was a death knoll in the making.

“Sorcerers,” I said. “We’ll need every damned one we can get, and any grimoire we can get our hands on. Teachers and books as well, of every subject and stripe. League histories, Ashuran atlases, Proceran poems. It can’t just be for Named, can it? It has to be the school, so that when some angry kid with a sword and growing powers is offered a chance to study there it’s an opportunity and not a chore. They have to want to come.”

“Oh, you’ll get more than Named and Named-incipient if you succeed at that,” Amadeus of the Green Stretch smiled, thin and bladelike. “Gather such fine teachers, such deep knowledge, and you’ll find even nobles sending their children there. Do you think any tutor in the Dominion could match the education you have spoken of? In Callow, in any city of the League? Highborn and diplomats and the ambitious seeking to become intimates of Named still in their rise: all these will knock at your door, demanding a place.”

“That’s…” I hesitated. “It’ll cost a fortune. And you don’t even know where the city is to be raised.”

“I am not a fool,” my father said, sounding amused, “so I do. You are still, deep in your bones, Callowan. You’ll have it carved out of the Red Flower Vales, putting neutral grounds between yourself and Procer while also opening the gate to enriching trade.”

I wondered how many more people had seen through that. It wasn’t like it’d be a mistake to do that – as Queen of Callow I could cede enough fields to support the city from my side, and given the way Procer would be gaining much from the Accord while losing less than anyone else getting an equivalent land grant on the other side of the Whitecaps shouldn’t be impossible. It was at the centre of Calernia, too the crossroads of the west and the east. Still, it would have been a lie to say I’d not intended the location of it to be boon for Callow.

“You’ll be making the capital of a new age,” Black said. “And so you must reassess your negotiating stance accordingly, or see yourself outplayed. It will not be your backyard alone, Catherine. You are founding the royal court of Calernia itself.”

And his lips were quirking as he spoke, like the world demanded that they turn into a smile regardless of his wants.

“I need you to see it through,” I admitted. “I need you at that table, speaking for Praes and signing the Accords. Gods, I need you just to have someone I can speak to about these things.”

Someone who, unlike Hakram and Vivienne, had desires sometimes estranged from my own. Who’d look at my schemes and see weaknesses I had not.

“Help me,” I asked. “Help me to break the Game of the Gods.”

He looked away, at the hung parchments that laid out my fool’s dream in ink and law.

“A better world, is it?” he pensively said.

Pale green eyes narrowed, something cold at the heart of them. Like great cogs of steel, made to half yet stuttering back into movement.

“It can be done,” Amadeus of the Green Stretch said. “And if nothing else, it ought to be an interesting way to spend my twilight years.”

136 thoughts on “Chapter 58: Prolong

  1. taovkool

    Hard boiled wars with Named and pther assorted monsters vs school life drama.

    I’m not sure which is worst, to be honest. Odds are about equal, I think.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. edrey

      if you read douluo dalu you won’t find it too bad. the principal ends like a general in the continental wars, uniting all the powerhouses and ignoring the rulers8

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sckarred

        Douluo Dalu is bad for other reasons, like the usual deus ex machina powerups, some martial art style that is somehow literally better then people on the path to godhood…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Pzarndt

      I’m guessing that the academy survives, but Calernia remains divided. So much story potential in old friends from school coming to power as leaders of enemy nations.

      The magic school keeps the academy popular, and the named portion of the school teaches them how to manipulate a story as well as Black and Cat can

      Liked by 3 people

      1. > teaches them how to manipulate a story as well as Black and Cat can

        Well… most students simply won’t be capable of that. But they can get a decent grounding in the common storylines and major hazards thereof. Now, people keep appointing Pilgrim to university positions, when the thing is he’d first have to live long enough to make it a “lifetime position”. The dude was already into (we think) his 80s before getting resurrected in slightly-damaged condition. For normal people, 80s and up is into “just keeled over one day” territory, and that’s when they’re healthy. He could live to 100 or more, but I wouldn’t sell him any life insurance. Not even with exclusions for “acts of war” and “acts of the Gods”! 😉

        What he might live long enough for, is to finish writing his journals/memoirs, including his newest insights. 😉 And of course his memoirs will be a required text at the Cardinal School….

        Liked by 2 people

  2. RoflCat

    >If you cannot offer a practical way to deliver on your beliefs, then they are wind.

    So, what you’re saying, is there needs to be a Practical Guide for it.

    Liked by 29 people

    1. Mennolt van Alten

      The final chapter of this fiction will end with
      ‘And that is a comprehensive overview of the making of The School and the start of the age of the Nameless Rulers.
      – The Historian, compiled for course HA4-101: History of the Age of Named’

      Liked by 1 person

    1. erebus42

      That is a pretty awesome line. This probably says more about me than anything else, but if I was a God and my creations managed to break the game of my peers and I and essentially flip us off, I’d be way more proud of them than angry. Idk maybe there is something to that whole Sacred Betrayal thing.

      Liked by 14 people

    2. Gerionar

      The gods promoting freedom (the chaotic ones) will welcome the breaking of the game, since this is what they always wanted. Those who argued it would be best to rule over the mortals (the lawful ones) will be tempted to flip the board. They will send the Bard at Cat and to everything to keep the Game going.
      The longer I think about it the less I think thar these two factions are identical to Above and Below.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think that is not not the right interpretation of the prologue.

        One faction thought that they [the Gods] should guide their children to greatness. The other faction thought that they [the children] should rule over other creatures and each other.

        And that’s Above and Below.

        Both factions are generally in favor of mortals doing whatever the fuck they get up to, since that’s the essence of the wager.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. konstantinvoncarstein

      If Named are the product of a culture, ruling Named are too. And therefore impossible to eradicate without a massive change of this culture, which is impossible to implement without causing revolts. And a all-our war.

      Liked by 9 people

      1. Andrew Mitchell

        Yep. Honestly I didn’t see it as much of an issue but there were a lot of good arguments presented in the comments that made me change my mind. And Amadeus agrees with the commenters so its a done deal now.

        Liked by 5 people

  3. caoimhinh

    I like how Amadeus leads Catherine so she can reach the conclusions of his points without him outright saying it. I’m kinda surprised she hadn’t seen the reach of that Academy until Amadeus pointed it out that they were the leaders of the Calernia. Maybe she was really convinced that they were going to agree on banning Named rulers.

    It’s also cool that he is like “Ok, asking to ban Named rulers is overstepping (which was his polite way of saying it was dumb, arrogant and impractical to attempt) but don’t take it out of the proposal. We’ll use it as a concession to get leverage in pushing something more important and practical.”

    Amadeus immediately saw the coming conferences and the signing of the Liesse Accords as what they were: a negotiation. Which was what Cat had failed to see, she expected every country to agree and sign by common sense and force of arms, but she expected them to accept the Accords in their current form, which was obviously impossible.
    Amadeus hasn’t even read the whole document and is already improving it; fuck, he hasn’t been awake more than a few hours and has already started to put in motion and improved the plan to change the whole continent.
    A sharp mind indeed.

    Liked by 20 people

    1. TBF Catherine is 20. She’s lucky af that the first person to look at her Accords and criticize the fuck out of her inexperience showing is her teacher ❤ ❤ ❤

      (Who will ever remain such, formal apprenticeship being over or not)

      (btw, I love how his revised-in-retrospect plan for acting after getting trapped on the other side of the Vales involves getting Papenheim's army to Hainaut in time ❤ ❤ <3)

      Liked by 10 people

      1. caoimhinh

        Yes, but that was glaringly obvious, and being so versed in Name lore and story-fu as she is, she should have known better. I mean, her defense when Amadeus pointed it out was “but we’d all be better off if we agreed on excluding Named from rule”, there was no practicallity there, only wishful thinking.

        Also, the Accords’ current form is not Catherine’s work alone; Hakram, Akua, Aisha, Viviene, and many others participated, just last chapter we were reminded of the many hours spent talking with lawyers and profesionals of political science, many chapters ago it was also said that the Woe consulted with experts of Praesi, Callowan and Proceran law for the current documents of the Liesse Accords.

        I would expect at least Hakram to know, as he is aware of the process it took to disappear the Warlord Name from the Orcs. Maybe he kept quiet because he wanted Cat to realize this on her own, or maybe he was waiting for the appropriate time to bring up the subject? Maybe Hakram thought the same as Amadeus and simply went “well, this can be a concession during the negotiation, let’s leave it there”.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Akua didn’t participate, and I’m guessing there are so many detailed practicalities there that they got consumed by those and details of the big picture were left at stage 1. They were answering the question “how can we make THIS work?” rather than “what exactly SHOULD we be trying to achieve?”

          Liked by 3 people

        2. KageLupus

          I think this is actually a really good example of Cat’s other point, that Named have influences which make them think and behave differently. It is not just whether they are on team Above or Below though. Every Named is a little crazy in their own way. There is some thing that drives them so fully they end up with their Role.

          For Cat it has always been other people being selfish and impractical when it is so obvious (to her) how you could make the world a better place for everyone instead. That little hiccup in her thinking is one of the things that lead to her being Named. Cat can look at a problem and say “Well if we all do X then this isn’t a problem and everyone wins.” Black is reminding her that other people will hear that and say “X shouldn’t apply to me” because they don’t care about everyone winning.

          You are right that it is strange for Cat to not realize that other people wouldn’t agree to the no Named rulers clause in the Accords. But it is not because she didn’t think about it. It is because she can plainly see that it would be the best choice, so people not going along with it just doesn’t make as much sense to her.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. “It is not enough to be correct in principle” <= this is a conflict from allll the way back in her first Name vision, the one after Black stabbed her. She called her Good twin 'Idiot Twin' for just that. Sounds like that's the direction she found herself leaning anyways :3

            Liked by 2 people

    2. > It’s also cool that he is like “Ok, asking to ban Named rulers is overstepping (which was his polite way of saying it was dumb, arrogant and impractical to attempt) but don’t take it out of the proposal. We’ll use it as a concession to get leverage in pushing something more important and practical.”

      It’s not like I didn’t like Amadeus already, but that’s still some extra brownie points right there. I don’t want to make this about contemporary politics bc that tends to turn into a shitshow real quick so I’m not going to name any names, but it high-key makes me crazy when politicians proactively compromise on their positions in advance and act like they actually expect that will make their opposition not push back and try to make them compromise on their proposals now. Like. No. They will always push back, because that’s what makes them the opposition instead of your allies. And now you’re getting pushed into compromising from your compromise, so JUST STOP IT ALREADY.

      Alright, I’m gonna go breathe into a paper bag now. Good talk, guys. tl;dr – Amadeus smart, and I’m super disturbed that I like an avowedly Evil villain’s style of seeking positive change better than most of the people I actually get the option of voting for.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. caoimhinh

        Well, Amadeus is Evil, after all…

        I actually saw it more as a business deal mindset, like starting the bargain by asking a price that you know it’s too high to actually sell the thing, then slowly compromise into selling it at a lower price but still within your winning range.
        Which is absolutely what they have to do, practicalities aside, as their opposition (Procer in particular) will not let this be “a victory for Evil” so they won’t let the plan go unopposed and unquestioned, specially when so many of the points are unequivocally an advantage to Callow in particular (like the administration and location of Cardinal, for example), no matter how much Catherine tries to say this is for the whole continent, the ones most benefitted from the Accords are Callowan. So the Proceran Princes, being the kind of bastards we have seen for 5 books, will not let that slide easily. It’s the kind of mindset of the person who is fine doing a job for ten thousand dollars, but will raise a ruckus if they find out that the other members of the team are getting paid a hundred thousand.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Well, admittedly Amadeus’s brand of Evil somehow magically includes “binding warlocks to a higher purpose” and considering the good of the many to override the good of the few (including yourself and your inner circle)…

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Also, re: Catherine not seeing this stuff that seems kind of obvious – this is exactly the phenomenon of being too close to something to see it clearly after you’ve been living and breathing it for months while you build it from the ground up, and it’s exactly why smart people don’t rely on themselves or their immediate collaborators to catch everything and instead bring in trusted outsiders prior to actually releasing something to give an eyes-on and point out anything glaring. Which is exactly what Cat’s just done at the earliest plausible opportunity, and just look at how quick she is to pick up on legitimate feedback when she gets it.

      In other words, this isn’t an example of Cat being uncharacteristically dumb IMO, this is more like a demonstration of just how smart she actually is. This is exactly best practice for formulating this kind of major project/proposal, and there’s a reason for that. The fact that she’s as subject to that reason as anyone else isn’t a slight against her intellect or a failing as such IMO, and the fact that she’s almost flawlessly implementing that best practice here I think is a testament to her actual intelligence.

      Liked by 6 people

  4. edrey

    if you read douluo dalu you won’t find it too bad. the principal ends like a general in the continental wars, uniting all the powerhouses and ignoring the rulers

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Alivaril

    I’m still not really sold on the Accords. Yes, it’d make for a neat setting and I can see the heroes cooperating, but the villainous side of the table? I can’t realistically see them sincerely agreeing to become glorified gladiators instead of actual, y’know, Villains. Insincerely agreeing, maybe, but that just means the villages of undead will be created a little more quietly, inevitable failure be damned (and Damned).

    And here I was hoping Cat’s endgame would be to force Fate into a physical form so she could stab it. :V

    Liked by 4 people

    1. magesbe

      The thing is, most villains aren’t Kairos. They have a goal beyond being a villain. Cat isn’t trying to end all conflict, she’s trying to make it clear to everyone that certain things are not okay. I am not actually positive where undead plagues come in this.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. edrey

        plagues are good examples of cause, consequence and process. i am little curious in bandit like names, it woud be a great problem, not to mention names like assassine

        Liked by 5 people

    2. Panchoadrenalina

      I think is because you are seeing 2 sides (good evil) when there are 4. As we saw in the mess in twilight.

      Practical/pragmatic good (pilgrim)

      Practical evil (cat)

      Mustache twirling evil (kairos)

      Unyielding good (saint)

      And we have many examples of all of the sides. The practical sides will join in cardinal fighting tose who will not go there. Fun

      Liked by 4 people

    3. WuseMajor

      It depends on the villain. Masego really just wants to study the universe and maybe dissect a few gods. He’d honestly probably enjoy having a very clear cut set of rules for what is allowed and what will get a hit squad sent to murder him.

      Akua really just wants to do GREAT things, I think. She can be awesome or awful, as long as she’s provoking Awe. So…. give her things to do. Allow her to be the Great and Powerful person she needs to be and she will be your slave. I suspect there are many wizards who feel this way. They’re a bit like Sparks.

      The Alchemist that the Saint mentioned, the one who was experimenting on humans, I am…not sure about. Given that, after being threatened with death should he backslide, the first thing he did was go find a powerful leader who could protect him and get him experimental subjects, I kind of feel like he’d betray the rules the moment people stopped watching him. That said, getting him a teacher who could help him see that, maybe you don’t need to experiment on people, might have made all the difference. It’s impossible to know.

      So, yeah. Depends on the villain. The hero too. I’m not sure the Lone Swordsman would sign and the Saint would probably rather chop the head off everyone involved than see anyone sign them. I mean, she’d probably assume that Praes would sign eagerly, then go right back to brewing plagues in their basements, forcing the heroes to fight them with one hand tied behind their backs.

      Liked by 7 people

    4. “Glorified gladiators” is in this sense something they’ve always been. Fighting for the gods’ purposes is what Catherine means here. She’s not introducing new indignity, just acknowledging that the existing one is the limit on how far the peace can go.

      What the fuck would villains want to antagonize heroes for? Consider Kairos Theodosian, the most textbook example of a Villain For The Evulz we’ve seen, and consider how his game in the Free Cities had been to exploit the existing system and put his own candidate in charge – through legal process, if with a good helping of mass murder. He didn’t aim to destroy the League or the Good cities, he didn’t need it for anything. The organization that accomodated him, he took full advantage of, and has since been very willing to do diplomacy, too.

      As far as villains are concerned, the world around them consists of tools and obstacles. Catherine’s arranging the obstacles so some paths to achieving their goals would look a lot less attractive / easy than others, and placing tools within their reach so they’d know the locations of the obstacles for a fact. Consider the killing street in the battle of Marchford: armies follow the path of least resistance. So do villains.

      Not to mention those who would be fully satisfied with the existing system full stop, like all the numerous mages. See, indeed, Masego.

      Sure, for some villains the undead plagues etc are the end rather than the means. They are a very small minority though, and those who can’t be convinced to pick an end that will bring them actual renown and glory rather than an inglorious end at the hand of absolutely everyone else at the same time, are a smaller minority stil. Isolating and killing those is the point entire.

      Liked by 4 people

    5. Alegio

      I’m pretty sure she knows that they are just gonna say yes without meaning it at first. But after a couple of classes of “If you kill civilians we will literally use a portal through another dimension to f”ck you up wherever you are” most of them will probably listen.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Andrew Mitchell

        > If you kill civilians

        I’m pretty sure there’s going to be limits on the types of things you can do, and not just a blanket ban on ANY killing of civilians. Cat’s going to stop any large scale abuses. To set the limit at zero is entirely impractical IMO.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. IDKWhoitis

    I can see a parliamentary system being in charge of Cardinal. Not the academy itself, although the headmaster would probably serve as the representative of the school itself. But the city being run, and the international diplomatic missions would probably have a council of sorts.

    This can either turn into every major power owning a section of the city, to ease the burden of funding the city, and allowing the different sections to be extraterriotial. This would also ease the worries of foreign powers (specifically Prócer and Callow) from having too much influence within the city.

    I doubt a D.C. System would be appropriate, with several embassies, and the academy owning pretty much the rest of the city. Cardinal would have to be self sufficient in that case. It would make Cardinal a seperate entity in the world and that has both benefits and challenges.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. IDKWhoitis

        There’s a difference from being self sufficient from the beginning and being self sufficient 10 years down the line after everything is built. Even then, a matter of interdependenicies will act as a binder between nations.

        It’s why I find it very likely that Cardinal will have to be bought in by everyone, so that everyone is invested in not only a financial sense (which is important as well) but a cultural and philosophical connection to Cardinal. If Cardinal is to be the Socio-economic powerhouse with the Political power that would make it the de facto Captial of Calernia, it cannot be perceived as “other” by some of the countries. Levant and Ashur must feel a connection to Cardinal to see it as anything other than a foreign city deep in Callow/Prócer. Cardinal would be stronger politically if it was seen as the battleground for interstate diplomacy. Trading internal politics for external politics.

        In the financial sense, the startup Captial required to build a city in the mountains is going to be, to put it lightly, a couple metric fuck tons. Prócer and Callow are two battle torn countries, and Callow wasn’t wealthy prior to the war, so even if they could fund it (which would be a pain to extract as a Concession from Cordelia) we would see a clash in influence and finances from the get go. Meanwhile if everyone buys a section of the city, the start up funds are secured, influence is roughly equal, and Cardinal can start acculumating money off the trade routes it will tax and economic activities itself will generate.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. JRogue

      You charge people, Nobles specifically.

      Named get to attend for free of course. Magically inclined students have to pay a fee of some kind. The children of Nobles? They get charged out the nose so their children can rub elbows with up and coming Named and other soon to be powers of the continent AND get a top-notch education to boot. Also, charge each nation a fee to lease the land their embassies are built on.

      Like Amedeus said (have to remember to stop calling him Black) Nobles will be chomping at the bit for their kids to be there. If given the lands and you give people a reason to settle and work those lands from Callow and Procer, food shouldn’t be a problem. It will be the crossroads of the continent, so Merchants will want to be there, a small tax on goods will also give more money. Additionally, with all those Noble children there, plenty of Artisans will show up. Tailor’s, all kinds of Metalsmith’s, Carpenters, Jewelers, etc. It will be THE place to be for people who make things. A tiny tax on these people charging exurbanite prices will add up quickly. The Tax Collector would become a new Name attached to Cardinal, probably one of many Names specific to Cardinal.

      I would be willing to bet more than a few Named Artisans pop up too, possibly further expanding the neutral Names.

      The money is there, more than enough to support the city and the school.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. IDKWhoitis

        The Start up capital is the horrendously hard part. Everything you said, is true in the long run once things are built. But to clear the mountain passes that were blown beyond recognition by Warlocks dance, the start up capital must be acquired. Cardinal will need Investors, and getting the Nobles to buy into the idea will take time. At this point, National budgets vastly exceed what the Nobles can bring to bear. (National budget in Callow being what Cat can “convince” the little nobility that is left to “loan” her.)

        Liked by 3 people

        1. JRogue

          Absolutely true, the first real financial hurdle is start-up capital. Procer and Callow will be giving land grants, so that will have to be considered part of their “tithe” if you will. All Signatures will have to chip in money, but also possibly manpower. I think the Warlock and The Witch of the Woods battle may actually help, its already blown up, just gotta move it now. Also, Goblins will be more than willing to lend a hand, encluding engineering help, properly compensated of coarse. The mountainous area offers all sorts of stone to build with, I cannot recall how wooded the area is.

          The one thing that could be a problem is that it has to happen fast. Grey Pilgram will not be around forever, he is already old and I imagine what just happened aged him more. Maybe a large, well planned Legion style camp as a basis, then start building from there.

          The logistics of this is fascinating to me.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. > The mountainous area offers all sorts of stone to build with,

            Lately including some which probably aren’t native to Creation proper…

            >I cannot recall how wooded the area is.

            I’d be amazed if anything survived the battle.


      2. Basically you have my yes to all of this! I’ll just add that charging nobles shatteringly high tuition to attend will be extremely easy to present as a feature, not a bug. Nothing makes it easier to sell something as a prestige item than making it stupidly expensive, and there’s literally almost nothing nobles (and rich people who want to feel socially equal to nobility, like merchant princes) love more than prestige. And the only reason I say almost nothing instead of nothing is because the more ambitious nobles will prize power more highly… which this kind of high-end hobnobbing is also useful for cultivating.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. IDKWhoitis

    I also wonder what specifically prevents the Dead King from signing the Liesse Accords. The same arguments used about Praes can also be applied. The other nations may bitch at first, but there are specific pragmatic reasons for allowing it.

    What the Dead King gets:
    -Not getting labeled as The Big Bad
    -Another area to fight the Bard over
    -A way to spread his influence over the millennia
    -A way to slowly fix his PR
    -A means to foster, and potentially scout useful Allies in the future.
    -Surviving the current war while gaining something. (Cat intends for the Drow to take Keter anyways)
    -A means to integrate himself into the wider international community, and smother future crusades in the crib.
    -Peace and quiet (he’s not in love with war, and only really prepares as much for it because he lacks other methods for countering the Bard)

    What Cardinal gains :
    -Keter (maybe just a lease, with significant DK presence) , solves Cat’s bargain. Creates a buffer zone between DK and creation at large.
    -Not having the Dead King be an enemy they have to topple (this is already going to be monstrously difficult, and likely won’t kill the bastard outright)
    -Access to undead labor, very cheap for construction, usage within the city, and farming afterwards.
    -Access to a portion of the undead army, which the control of can be transferred over. Undead would make a great first wave as the mediator force, they don’t need to worry about logistical concerns, they move fast because they don’t tire, moral is not a concern, or no sympathizers/spies. The upkeep is very low. They can maintain a high state of readiness for extremely long periods of time. Casualty rates for the undead mediator force would not impact concerns of politics between nations (no debate about who takes first wave, or waiting for nations to gather armies).
    -The Dead King’s very large library of knowledge, both magical and mundane. Especially the name lore.
    -A way to mediate the Intercessor, which will always be Scheming. Having a counter to that force is necessary.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Andrew Mitchell

      You’re making a very, VERY convincing argument there. I’ve gone from not considering that a question at all; all the way to thinking it’s probably going to happen.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. IDKWhoitis

        My internal debate is whether Nesh reaches out with malicious intentions or if he would actually like to join it. Him saying he wants to join would be be met with the same public reaction that Cat saying she wanted to join the Great Alliance. If he screws around with PR a bit, he could sink the credibility of the Accords before any terms are signed. But he is smart enough to just let the question hang in the air, and maybe prod along Cat and Black to make it feasible the Accords asks him instead.

        Time will tell, because there is going to be an end to this monster of a war soon, one way or the other.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. > whether Nesh reaches out with malicious intentions or if he would actually like to join it.

          OR? Joining the Accords would give him insider access to Cardinal before he drops his first magical eaves. And he knows he’ll outlive almost all the founders. This is that “100 years peace”, but without confining him to Keter, and giving him a direct voice in your own counsels.

          Liked by 6 people

      2. ninegardens

        Given that Nash was like “Cat, do you want 100 years of peace” and she thought about and said “No”, I don’t see this working. As far as Cat is concerned (And Procer), DK is going down, no ifs, no buts, no questions asked.

        I don’t see it happening.

        Liked by 5 people

      1. Thanatoss

        Yes, it was stated somewhere that Dead King is Name. Probably most powerful Name there is. It was stated that there are only 3 Named as powerful as Cathereine (when she was most powerful in Everdark) Sword Saint, Ranger and Dead King.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Sean

      On a purely utilitarian level what you say makes sense, and I agree the Dead King himself would love a chance to support Cardinal. But… You have to keep in mind the Dead King has essentially been responsible for dozens of attempted and partial genocides against the other signatories of the accords. That’s not the sort of thing folk are liable to forgive and forget.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. IDKWhoitis

        This could be seen as declawing the Dead King in a martial sense, while allowing him a foot in international politics. He would be the one coming down from a position of martial supremacy.

        Meanwhile we see old Nesh gain a lot of potential tools and opportunities to expand and exploit his influence. This whole thing is dependent on him to find this more useful than the thousands of kilometers of land he just conquered.

        And in the face of the butchers Bill that will be pushing back the Dead King, Calernia may choose to temporarily forgive past transgressions, if it means an end to this war other than status quo.

        Prócer is broken for at least a generation, they have lost their North, the people of the North, and their Center was just put to torch and likely mass starvation is going to hit. That is not a nation that can weather the sorts of madness the Dead King can employ if he really cares about not being pushed back. I’ll eat my hat if Nesh isnt holding on to worst kingdom killers than Black Water or chemical warfare that will make WW1 flinch.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. > This could be seen as declawing the Dead King in a martial sense, while allowing him a foot in international politics. He would be the one coming down from a position of martial supremacy.

          Except, he isn’t. There’s no actual disarmament involved in the Accords. He’ll still have all his armies and all his sorcery and all his etc. The Accords just impose “if you cross these lines, everybody comes down on you”. And that’s already pretty much what happens when he invades, as we’re seeing currently. So you would be giving him what you acknowledge (and what everybody else would certainly recognize) are “a lot of potential tools and opportunities to expand and exploit his influence” when the only thing he loses is actually nothing, since the Accords can’t impose any consequence beyond what he already faces as the default. So you would be giving the Dead King – literally the Dead King, Mr. Genocide himself as far as the rest of Calernia is concerned especially by the time this war is done – a whole big lot of something for nothing. That’s a non-starter on the face of it. No offense, but I don’t understand why anyone is treating this as plausible.

          If what you’re referring to is DK also voluntarily handing back the North, cancelling the war, and going home (which upon reviewing your comment again I think is what you’re suggesting?), well, that’s a whole separate thing from the Accords as such. The Accords do not per se have anything to do with stopping wars between nations, they just limit the terms of engagement especially for Named. So if what you’re suggesting is offering DK the right to join the Accords in exchange for massive territorial concessions and an indefinite truce for free and he actually goes for that, then that will instantly cement everyone’s belief that the Accords are a trojan horse for the Hidden Horror, because why else would he just hand over so much for apparently so little? At which point you have just kneecapped your chances of anyone else wanting to stick with them – good luck selling “hey, come send your children, heirs, and heroes to hang out with the Dead King’s trojan horse in one convenient location that is now electively within his influence!”. And then when the Accords fall apart the thing you were offering the Dead King in exchange for his retreat is no longer available to offer, and so he is no longer going to retreat. And now you have neither the Accords or the North back. I just really can’t see this idea ever being seriously entertained by anyone – I mean, Kairos might suggest it just because that’s how much of a troll he is, but if anything that just highlights what a bad idea it actually is.

          P.S. – also, what Liliet said. DK didn’t invade because he got bored and they don’t get cable TV in Keter, he’s actually after something. Assuming this is just about the Intercessor is I think missing the point – it doesn’t appear to me that he opposes the Intercessor as a primary goal, he opposes her because she’s the most dangerous/formidable obstacle to what he actually wants. Oh, and the whole point of the Serenity is that his position is never static because even when he’s been driven back (or “driven back” depending on your level of cynicism/paranoia) he’s still able to continuously build his strength.

          Liked by 4 people

      1. IDKWhoitis

        Him invading Calernia is more of a power play against Bard than owning the continent. He gains very little in just owning Calernia outright. Akua has already covered how his realm in Hell is already better than anything he can hope for on Calernia. In his willingness to trade peace and even a fragment of his immortal soul, we can see that the Intercessor, not Calernia is the point of this war and 4 way shitshow in the flying city. Even when he asked for territorial concessions from Malica and Cat, he was more than willing to partition territory and allow his “Allies” to survive. He even let Triumphant own Calernia, he had no problems not owning territory in those wars. His immortal nature makes the shifting of borders a matter of time, and right now his only option for making diplomatic plays is war. He is not in a weak position, true, but he is stuck in a static one. In any great game, a static position will eventually be overrun.

        We know the Intercessor will always be there to arm the next crusade, make the next batch of heroes. Even him winning this war, is a defeat in the making, because it shifts narrative weight ever so slowly to the Intercessor favor.

        The Hidden Horror is not stupid or vain, he does not gain much by being an enemy or holding onto a thousand kilometers of land. We know he is capable of taking the positions and even enjoys doing so like a game. We do know that he has ascertained a secret about the Intercessor. One so insidious it would break her influence for a generation. What does he gain from staying the big bad here? Why would he not want to spread this secret to truly screw over his opponent?

        Liked by 4 people

        1. ninegardens

          Do remember that he is invading partially on HER invite (“Eat the baby”).

          Also, I’m pretty sure he IS trying to take over the world (or at least continent). He is just doing so very slowly, and VERY carefully.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. > We do know that he has ascertained a secret about the Intercessor. One so insidious it would break her influence for a generation.

          It would be really funny if he tries to spill his secret, and everyone’s like “Duh, we figured that out ages ago”.

          Liked by 1 person


    I love that it's made clear Catherine is attempting to bite off a bit more than she can chew – on her own, at least. This is a project that will benefit from EVERY player at the table taking it seriously as a goal. Catherine both can't and doesn't need to do it alone, and that's the entire point ❤

    Liked by 6 people

  9. caoimhinh

    I just remembered that Refuge is actually sort of a mini-example of what Cardinal is set to be.
    A neutral power, independent of other countries, but strong enough that nobody fucks with it and is also controlled by Named. It even has a small school for Named, as we know for a fact that Ranger raises and trains Named disciples, I think in book 2 it was said that there were currently five such disciples, we got to know Archer and Hunter, and Indrani mentioned another, I think it was Beast Tamer.

    The important thing is, there is a precedent for this, albeit in a smaller scale and less impact, but still is a relevant thing as it adds impulse to the story. Also, involving Ranger in the project would be a huge boost for it, as she can serve as a neutral party and an awesome instructor.
    Plus, both Catherine and Ranger have experience dealing with the Kingdom Under (Refuge is nominally a Dwarf protectorate) so that can also be a huge boost to the Liesse Accords and Cardinal, there’s still potential to be explored in other directions than what Catherine has apparently considered so far.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. So, rounding up: I had guessed a while back that Cat might have to yield on the Named-ruler thing, that’s looking more likely. Good to see more elaboration on my concerns about The Committee.

    Re: IDKWhoItIs’s idea of DK signing on: I’d assume the other signatories would have to agree to accept them! That said… The problem is that for DK this is still a short-term game, it would be really hard to find a way to really bind him, but that’s exactly what they’d need. The thing is, existing plans are for the Drow to surround and perhaps occupy Keter, keeping him out of Creation — that would seem to make his interest moot in any case.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. TheGlyphstone

    Is it wrong that I really, really want to see a Cardinal spinoff now set post-story? High school comedy-drama with superpowered students, toying with the tropes of that genre as thoroughly as PGtE did with classical high fantasy.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. This, too, has the shape of a Story: wise teacher and talented student coming back together after years apart, to create some great breakthrough idea, the student in her prime, and the teacher coming out of retirement for his final work.


    Liked by 3 people

  13. ninegardens

    So…. just realized, while thinking about Cardinal etc…

    Laurence was right in her assessment of Cat. The city of Cardinal is EXACTLY the kind of thing she would strive to rip out tooth and claw, a place where arrogant Procer nobles will hang out with treacherous Praesi nobles, a place of Sorcery unbound by the gods or common folk, a place that will be at best Lawful neutral and more likely in the region of lawful Evil for much of its history. It’s a place of nobles- exactly the sort of thing the regicide would hate.
    A place of “rot”, as it were, reaching out its tendrils across the entire Continent. Given the moneys and ambitions involved, it will be VERY easy for this to become an “academy of evil”- even with a constant influx of Heroes (I mean, “Bestowed”).

    Laurence wasn’t paranoid, she wasn’t stupid, she wasn’t blinded by prejudice or past actions. She read Cat *correctly*. She read EXACTLY the kind of bullshit that Cat was capable of forging, and she didn’t like it.
    The only mistake in some sense was that the Twighlight realm was actually pretty tame compared to what Cat had planned for later.

    Liked by 5 people

  14. Daniel E

    I feel like the GM’s of this Game will not appreciate their players going off the rails, as it were. They might even be inclined to force the Game back onto its’ proper track.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Remember, per the Bard’s comments, when the Dead King “bit the hand that fed him” (presumably by conquering a plane of Hell), he didn’t get smited or anything… Below just got less generous with their “gifts” to future Named. Even when he tried to conquer a second plane of Hell, he got slapped down, but within the rules of Creation. Reading between the lines, it might have been “hey, if you’re gonna be out conquering Hells, that’s gonna leave you vulnerable to attacks from other players (oh hello Elf-King, have you met my old friend Neshy? Now, don’t be jealous… 😉 ).

      Liked by 3 people

  15. nipi

    I see what Amadeus is doing by pushing for a Magic school. While it is true that other nations would benefit from it too, the fact that the Wastland has the greatest abundance of those with the gift remains. Meanwhile the school will need lots of magic tomes, ingredients, teachers – stuff that is likely to come in no small part from the Empire. Thats both bargaining material and later positions from where to influence the students.

    Liked by 3 people

          1. The big-name Praesi sorcerers are probably going to not care, assuming they get pulled there along with the center. Which is exactly the plan.

            Malicia, uh, well… Amadeus is kind of past the point of asking her opinions on that, which means so is everyone else 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

    1. Andrew Mitchell

      I think Amadeus (he’s no longer Black) would quite happily die on the way to achieving this vision provided his sacrifice helps Cat. (Remember he does see this as a worthwhile way to invest his “twilight years”. I think Cat wants him to stick around afterwards to enjoy the results. Personally I think he will end up having to become the Emperor of Praes but that’s not a strongly held view.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Amadeus will be Emperor. He’s the most successful and lowest body count acceptable option for Praes.
      While he would be an excellent head of Cardinal, in terms of knowledge base, skills, and experience, he would have more problems dealing with the Heroes and Procerans.

      Besides, other people (Cat and the Woe) can do the job of running Cardinal nearly as well as Amadeus could, but he’s basically the only way to bring in Praes, including the greenskins.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Yeah.
          There aren’t many viable options for Praes. It’s Amadeus as Dread Emperor, Cat as Dread Empress, or a breakup of the Empire.
          The latter two options result in open warfare. The former may result in warfare, but it will likely be more limited and likely involve a lot more of Assassin being let off the leash to clean up High Lords.

          Liked by 2 people

    3. I agree with both of the above and add my vote as “both in succession” Or At Least That’s How I Would Write A Sequel Fanfic.

      Amadeus gets the Empire into shape and prepares an acceptable successor, then abdicates and goes into his true passion – teaching.

      I am willing to back up that latter statement with textual quotes.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. ninegardens

        I kind of love the fact that many of Amadeus’s teaching quotes are “I don’t really know anything about how to teach a person, and thus am not actually planning to do it. By the way, here are a stack of books, and let me introduce you to several named and a large number of story tropes. Now lets analyze your thought process on previous events and review”

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Y e s.

          My favorite however remains that one quote with him chastising himself about his lack of patience with slow students…

          …referring to the Grey Pilgrim…

          …while bound, held hostage, about to have his soul cut out, and bitter as all hell about his old friend’s death.

          But he could never be a good teacher. He just doesn’t have the patience for it!

          Liked by 4 people

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