Malanza

“It would be a curse to be born Good. If virtue were easy, if doing right was painless, Creation would have no meaning: what worth is there in a trial that does not try you?

– Extract from the ‘Truths of the Shore’, a collection of the teachings of Arianna Galadon (considered holy text only in Procer)

I

The statue was titled ‘Lorenzo Triumphant’.

There were eleven statues of the famous Lorenzo Malanza within the city of Aequitan, and every single one depicted the man with long flowing locks and youthful good looks. Rozala, who had long admired the brilliant general who’d made the Malanzas into the rulers of Aequitan, had been disappointed to learn the depiction was something of a lie. By the time Lorenzo had been winning the great victories in Levant that ultimately raised him to princeship he’d been forty, balding and with a severe limp from a lance wound he’d taken in the leg.

Lorenzo Triumphant somewhat acknowledged the last detail by depicting a stylish bandage over the young conqueror’s leg, but it only served to enhance the brimming heroism of the victor of Tartessos and Lazar Valley. The marble had been beautifully carved, though it was kept bare instead of the gaudy Free Cities painted manner, and the lance he raised manfully towards the sky was worked in gold leaf. Rozala had always hated the bloody thing, as it stood in the Shaded Courtyard. Where Mother made her wait on the bench near the wall until the Princess of Aequitan was finally ready to receive her.

Rozala had never once been made to wait here except when she was about to be punished, so that cursed marble statue was as ill an omen as there could be.

It was different today. Rozala had spent most of the last hour looking at the statue and the orange trees of the courtyard, wracking her mind to come up with a misdeed she’d done warranting punishment, but there had been nothing. She’d dumped worms in Hernan’s pillows again, but the little shit hadn’t caught on yet and now that he was nine he’d grown too proud to rat her out as eagerly as he used to.  He’d asked for it, anyways, mocking her for having a hard time memorizing the first stanzas of the ‘Tragedy of King Konrad’. Reitz was hard, and unlike her brother she wasn’t getting any better at it.

The day broke from precedent again when instead of one of Mother’s attendants it was Mother herself who came to find Rozala. Aenor of Aequitan, Rozala thought with pride, was still known as one of the great beauties of the south even in her dawning middle age for good reason. She didn’t need glittering jewels or powders to impress, just a well-done braid and an elegant silken dress. One day, Rozala promised herself, she would be just as beautiful. Mother offered her a lovely smile before sitting by her side on the bench.

“Is there anything you would care to tell me, Rozala?” Princess Aenor meaningfully asked.

“Nothing at all,” Rozala lied.

The tanned princess looked faintly amused.

“Your delivery needs work,” Mother said.

Rozala said nothing, primly looking ahead and hoping if she did not move the subject would be dropped. Her mother was a skilled interrogator when she put her mind to it.

“But that is not why I sent for you today,” Mother lightly added.

The ten year old girl breathed out in relief.

“May I know why I am here, if not to be punished?” Rozala asked.

“Most of your tutors will be dismissed this evening,” the Princess of Aequitan said. “I will be taking care of your education personally, at least in some regards.”

Though thrilled, Rozala forced herself to remain calm.

“Sister Lisella said last week that I was not yet ready for such tutelage,” she said.

Mother looked at her with approval.

“I am hurrying the transition,” the Princess of Aequitan agreed. “There are… growing undercurrents to the Ebb and Flow, my darling. I’ve come to believe the years ahead will bring with them great perils.”

“Through peril, rise,” Rozala replied without hesitation.

The words of the House of Malanza had been drilled into her since she could walk, along with the duty she had to her family and her people. Mother simply nodded, as if the answer had been a given.

“There will be opportunities,” Aenor Malanza agreed, eyes coming to rest on the statue of their famous forbear. “Of the very same kind he found, I expect.”

“It will be war, then?” Rozala softly asked.

“It might yet come to that,” the Princess of Aequitan said. “So let us learn the lessons of Lorenzo’s life, yes?”

Rozala turned attentive dark eyes onto her mother, waiting for the wisdom she had to impart.

“Have you ever seen a statue of Juan Osuna?” Mother asked.

The young girl startled in surprise at the question. The last name she recognized – how could she not, when the House of Osuna had preceded the Malanzas on the throne of Aequitan – but the given name took her shamefully long to place. Prince Juan Osuna was mostly known as Juan the Abjurer’, in the histories, for he had been the last prince of the Osuna and abjured his right to throne before fleeing east into Salamans.

“I have not,” Rozala admitted.

“The question was a trick,” Princess Aenor easily said, “for you pass by such a statue every time your ride through the eastern gate.”

The young girl blinked, and only then put the pieces together.

“The Wicked Elder is meant to represent him?” Rozala said, doubtful. “But the statue is of an old man, decrepit and… impious.”

There was something unsettling about the statue’s gaze, and the unseemly face it stared out of. It was somehow ribald and heinous at the same time. The young girl frowned, drawing back a strand of hair.

“I’ve been taught that Juan the Abjurer was fifteen, when renounced the throne,” she added.

“He was,” Mother thinly smiled. “And yet he lost, and so when he was still remembered at all it was as a hideous figure. While Lorenzo, who was nearly thrice his age, won and is now depicted as a golden youth all over the city.”

The Princess of Aequitan continued to stare at the statue.

“It is the victor who decides who was wicked and who was righteous, in the end,” Aenor Malanza told her daughter. “When that statue was first raised, my lovely, it was known as a lie.  But who remembers it now save a few scholars?”

Rozala almost shivered, though the afternoon heat was stifling even in the shade.

“But we’ve lost wars, haven’t we?” she softly asked. “In the years since. And it did not destroy us like it did the Osuna.”

“Because we did not flee, my darling,” Mother smiled. “We abjure nothing, we Malanzas. When the sun dims, when hard ends find us, we embrace the dark. We survive, whatever the cost, and through peril-“

“Rise,” Rozala finished in whisper.

“Juan Osuna fled east and ever returned, Rozala,” Mother said. “He might have won, had he fought. Had he had the stomach for the fight.”

Instead, Rozala thought, all that was left of the man was a half-forgotten lie. It was the first lesson her mother ever taught her.

She did not forget it.

IV

Cordelia Hasenbach had been crowned First Prince of Procer but there were some who argued, and not without reason, that it was Prince Amadis Milenan of Iserre who had won the Great War. What else could it be called but a victory, when without his lands having ever known war a man rose to become one of the great powers of the land? Prince Amadis did not hold the highest office in the Principate, but he had not beggared himself and his allies to seize it as the First Prince had. And down here, in the south, old blood knew the strength of patience. The Lycaonese despot would fall sooner or later, and when she did the Prince of Iserre would rise in her stead.

Rozala Malanza, made Princess of Aequitan by her mother’s decree before she drank the regal mercy, had heard much of this sort of talk in Salia. Not in the streets, of course, for the people were jubilant at the election of a First Prince and the end of the Great War, but behind the doors of great mansions in the city. Rozala had remained aloof, even when invited to attend dinners, preferring to study the currents at the capital from a distance. Hasenbach was not as weak as was argued, she saw, and there was wishful thinking clouding the judgements. She had the votes in the Highest Assembly, and the bite of her armies would not be soon forgot. For now, she had the run of the Principate.

And she was comfortable enough in her seat to make gestures, such as refraining from contesting Rozala’s acclamation as princess before the Highest Assembly. It was tradition, when a princess of the blood took the regal mercy, that their choice of successor not be challenged. Yet tradition was only that, not law, and Hasenbach had the strength to dispense with it should she wish it.

It had burned Rozala like acid, kneeling on the floor of the Highest Assembly as she faced the cold-eyed savage that’d made her mother drink poison. The hate clung at her insides like a thousand hooks, and these days fear was beginning to do the same. For Hasenbach had been merciful, yes – wasn’t it the talk of city, the virtue and kindness of their fresh young ruler? – but she had not been soft. Rozala wore a crown but her young brother Hernan, the same little shit who’d tattled on her as a boy and tried to steal her throne as a man, was now a member of the First Prince’s court in Salia.

Tread carefully, Cordelia Hasenbach’s cool blue eyes had told Rozala as she knelt. Tread carefully, or else.

Yet she could not. Gods, how could she? Mother was dead and now the savage had put a knife at her throat. She would not be called to heel like a dog, browbeaten into obedience. Yet the House of Malanza had few friends, these days, for it had come close to the throne but in the end it had lost. No one wanted to share the taint by association, not even those who had been her mother’s most ardent supporters. And so Princess Rozala Malanza at last accepted an invitation to taste the latest Iserran vintages, finding herself seated across Prince Amadis Milenan. A handsome man, the Prince of Iserre, and well-spoken.

“I’d despaired of ever having the pleasure of your company, Your Grace,” Prince Amadis smiled, pouring her a second cup with a steady hand and offering it. “Yet I suppose allowances must be made for grief.”

Allowances, he had said. The chosen word was not happenstance. There was only one master in the alliance that Amadis Milenan was gathering under his banner, and he would not suffer any talk to the contrary. His protection, his help, would come at a price. It ate at Rozala’s pride, and she almost turned back, but she could not. Rozala Malanza would not go into exile, abjure the death of her mother and the answer it must be given. She had the stomach for this fight. And so she smiled, thanked the prince for his courtesy and took the cup she had been offered.

Through peril, rise, Rozala swore, and drank deep.

II

The First Prince died and the Highest Assembly gave answer. Too many answers, in truth, and there lay the tragedy: seven growingly urgent sessions were held, and even at the end of the seventh no one had the votes to sit the high throne.

Princess Constance of Aisne – no true princess, not even born to the House of Groseiller but to a branch family of a different name – claimed regency and rule of Salia until a First Prince could be elected, claiming it her right under ancient laws as the closest kin to the buried First Prince. Rozala’s mother laughed and walked out of the Hall of Assembly without another word, Dagobert of Lange and Fabien of Lyonis not far behind her. It would be war, then. Regretful, Rozala’s mother said, but it’d all be settled in a few years after battles separated the serious contenders from the chaff and compromises were forced.

The people bled. The people sang, growing quiet when riders neared. It was a new song, but in a sense it was also as old as the Principate.

Princess said she had a right, it went.

Princess said it’d be a fight

Now princess are all aflight,

And the pot it is boiling.

Rozala Malanza learned war in the saddle as a girl barely grown, taking lesson from fantassin captains and highborn generals as she wore mail and rode under the banner of the House of Malanza. She took her first life at fourteen and Mother’s smile when she returned bloodied was luminous.

“You will be what I cannot,” Aenor of Aequitan said, stroking her hair. “I am no warrior, it is not in my nature, but you are taking splendidly to it.”

One day mother would rule in Salia, Rozala at her side, and bookish Hernan would be made steward of Aequitan as Rozala herself was schooled to ensure the dawn of a Malanza dynasty on the high throne. But it was a golden dream, and the Gods ever laughed at such designs. First defeats in the east, as Constance the Usurper drove back an offensive into Orne at the Battle of the Swallows. It stung, but the war continued. And when the first of the Great Claimants was smashed up north, Fabien of Lyonis kneeling to another’s rights, the armies of Aequitan and its allies marched north to prevent Dagobert of Lange from consolidating power.

The Sack of Lullefeuille decimated Aequitan’s army, cunning Prince Dagobert and his Goethal right hand penning it up in the city and smashing it piecemeal. Rozala broke the encirclement, leading out a few thousand haggard survivors, but it was an unmitigated disaster. Yet Aenor of Aquitan’s tongue was silver, and her treasury overflowing even in defeat, so armies were raised again. The war was not over. When word came of the savage Lycaonese sallying south, it was considered an amusing anecdote. Then Brus fell. Then Lange surrendered, as Segovia and Lyonis knelt.

The anecdotes were no longer amused.

It still shook Rozala to the bone, when she saw that Mother was entertaining envoys from Constance the Usurper. Secretly, but the wind was turning and alliance was in the air. Only for so long, but this Cordelia Hasenbach – who most of Procer had barely heard of a year ago, back then know only for the fanciful tales of Praesi manipulation she’d sent letters about – was scaring the opposition. The Great War was entering its last stretch, and neither Aenor Malanza nor Constance Groseiller had broken a dozen armies to end up allowing some slip of a girl from the edge of the world to claim the high throne in their stead.

“It will be done, my darling,” Mother told her one night. “The alliance is agreed upon, all that is left is haggling terms.”

“I had twenty cousins when this war began, Mother,” Rozala harshly replied. “I now have three.”

And these only because even Constance the Usurper would not blacken her name by having toddlers and newborn babes murdered.

“You would break bread with the woman who ordered this?” Rozala asked. “Share a cause with her?”

The very thought was enough to make her sick.

“I have not forgotten a single thing, Rozala,” Princess Aenor harshly replied. “But I am a princess, not a swaggering duellist: there are times when honour must be set aside. When the deaths are blindly dealt and so pride must be swallowed. Sometimes we make bargains with those we hate, when duty demands it of us.”

V

Weeping Gods, but it had all gone wrong.

The Army of Callow should have been in no state to fight after the bruising clashes of the previous day, but Rozala’s belated suspicions had proved true: even as the dead rose from the water, hammering home the gravity of her mistake, the legionaries of the Black Queen had struck. Where the day before had been a dance of manoeuvres and daring, and the day before it a terrifying battle of Chosen and Damned, this one was nothing so clean. It was a blind melee, vicious and messy and chaotic. Exhausted and bloodied by the days of fighting, the Army of Callow and the crusaders went at each other like ragged dogs.

And silently, eerily, the blue-eyed dead kept coming in waves.

The Chosen had gone out into the waters to fight the Black Queen: ice raged in the swamp as spurts of sorcery lit up the morning sky and screams echoed from afar. Rozala would pray for their victory, but not count on it. The battle did not grow any less nasty as the hours stretched, she found, for while a desperate defence was mounted by the soldiers from Orne and the enemy kept from sweeping the camp, the Army of Callow settled into a brutal slugging match with the crusaders – a slugging match Rozala could already see would turn in favour of the enemy eventually, for the dead were coming by the water and the lines holding the shore slowly buckling.

Thrice she traded a charge with the Order of the Broken Bells, hoping her more numerous horse would shatter the enemy’s knights and allow her to strike the flanks, but the Callowan knights were hardy and unflinching. She was forced to withdraw when the left flank of her shield wall, too close to the swamp, began to collapse and rout. Rozala rode there in haste and brought fantassin reinforcements, but all it did was restore the stalemate: her attempt at a push into the enemy’s lines was swiftly answered with goblin munitions and heavy foot. Not long after some of the Chosen return to her side, the Pilgrim and the Saint foremost among them, while others went to bolster the army.

It gave the men spine, Rozala saw, but it wouldn’t win the battle.

“Where is the Black Queen?” the Princess of Aequitan urgently asked, shouting over the sounds of battle.

If she was dead, then this could still be turned around. But before the Peregrine could say a word, a shape was glimpsed riding a winged horse above them and Rozala got her answer. The Enemy approached on graceful wings, bringing death with her, and the heroes at Rozala’s side readied for the fight. Legends, both of them, and still they looked grim. Yet when the Black Queen threw herself down into a hard landing, it was not to fight.

“Truce,” Catherine Foundling claimed. “I’m here to talk.”

And the heroes hemmed and hawed over this, over continuing the fight even under truce flag, but all Rozala could think of was that there would be no winner today. In this brutal mess of mud and blood, no one would win. No matter who claimed mastery of the field at the end of the day, both armies would be broken. And so, when the Chosen spoke pretty words to talk themselves into the killing, Rozala listened to an older voice speaking older words. She was a princess, not a swaggering duellist.

“Stop,” Princess Rozala Malanza ordered, and took off her helmet.

It was a monster she was facing now, one it disgusted her to think she might strike a bargain with, but the Princess of Aequitan had a duty.

III

The Great War ended on the fields of Aisne, not in the thunderous clash of arms but in the quiet hours that followed the end of the battle.

Unerring, eerily precise, Cordelia Hasenbach’s riders had found the princes and princesses fleeing the catastrophic defeat. Rozala took dark amusement in the way that Contance of Aisne and her party had been seized before the Malanzas were. The House of Malanza might not have won the war, but at least it could be said that their claim had outlasted that of their most hated rivals. The few months that followed were spent in comfortable but thorough captivity as Cordelia Hasenbach herself journeyed down from Rhenia to formally accept the surrender of her captives and the acclamation of her allies.

Mother’s attempts to get messages out without the knowledge of their captors had resulted only in two servants hanged and their party being stripped of ink and parchment, the Iron Prince not even bothering to tell them in person before giving the orders. The Lycaonese were living up to their rough reputation. Though Rozala insisted, screamed and then even begged, Mother refused to allow her to sit in on the conversation with Prince Cordelia – who was not yet First Prince, for all her high-handedness. Aenor of Aequitan was subdued when she returned, sapped of her usual boundless spirit.

The Princess of Aequitan formally surrendered the morning after and sent orders to her assermenté in Salia to vote in favour of Cordelia Hasenbach’s candidature to the high throne. After making a few public oaths, she was allowed to return with Aequitan with her household, no ‘escort’ accompanying her or ransoms being demanded. Rozala found herself quite startled. These were very lenient terms of surrender Prince Cordelia had accepted, unlike what the Malanzas would have demanded were the positions reversed. The heiress to Aequitan found she rather admired the Lycaonese for her restraint, her mercy.

That last word turned to ash on her, when they returned home and the real terms of surrender were unveiled. Aenor of Aequitan would drink poison, recalled early to the feet of the Heavens. The regal mercy, some called it.

Rozala boiled out with rage. She tried to raise the palace to war again, but the halls with empty with the losses of too many defeats and the eyes of the commanders gone gloomy. There was no stomach left for the fight in Aequitan. And still Rozala raged, for what else could she do? But the march forward of fate was inexorable, and Mother now seemed so… tired. Rozala did not refuse the summons when they came and the servants led her to the ancient throne room of Aequitan. Mother sat the throne, a cup of wine in hand.

“You will have to be wary of your brother,” Aenor Malanza said. “He was raised to rule Aequitan for you as you followed me to Salia. That power is not a prize easily relinquished.”

Rozala nodded, mute from the grief that had snared her throat.

“It was the price for rule of Aequitan staying with our line instead of passing to a lesser branch, my darling,” Mother gently said. “And perhaps it is better this way.”

“There is nothing better in this,” the hard-eyed daughter replied.

“There are deeds, days that demand an answer, Rozala,” the Princess of Aequitan said. “The Ebb and the Flow rule us all, but sometimes… sometimes there are higher callings. Listen to them, my darling. Heed them, and in time you will live up to what I see in you now.”

“Mother,” Rozala begged, tears in her eyes, “there must be another way.”

Her mother stroked her hand gently.

“Through peril, rise,” Aenor of Aequitan whispered. “Go, Rozala. While I still have the strength.”

Aenor of Aquitan took the poison exactly a day after Constance of Aisne was made to do the same. And with that cruellest of mercies, the last defeated claimant to have fought in the Great War died. An era had come to an end. Long live First Prince Cordelia, the people shouted in the streets. Rozala thought of the sound the doors of the throne room had made closing, and polished her sword.

VI

Princess Rozala Malanza stood as the only princess, the only royalty of her people, in all of Iserre.

This night, this graveyard of princes, had been a madness beyond what the Ebb and the Flow could frame in understanding. Legends had died who’d been legends for longer than Rozala had been alive. Angels had touched the world, the Dead King been forced to stay his hand and some magnificent eldritch realm had been born of trickery and sacrifice. And of all the western crowns that had sat brows when steel was first bared, only hers remained. Handed back to her by the Black Queen, terrifying praise from a terrifying foe.

Rozala Malanza alone of seven did not flinch, when sacrifice was asked, the Arch-heretic of the East had said, eyes hard and judging. For that, she keeps her crown.

It had been a grand gesture, the Princess of Aequitan thought. One made for honour, not advantage, for there were other crowns that would have been more useful for Catherine Foundling to preserve. So when in the wake of the gesture Rozala’s own kind had begun to squabble like dogs worrying a bone over how the given grace could be traded and twisted, she’d felt something deeper than disappointment course through her veins. It’d been like scales lifted from her eyes.

She saw the contempt in the eyes of the Chosen, the way the Tyrant of Helike grinned at them all with something akin to fondness. Gods, but how petty they must all seem to those eyes. Arrayed against the Principate were Theodosius the Unconquered’s mad get and the greatest warlord of their age, how was this the best to be mustered against them? Even their allies were led by the likes of the Peregrine, royal blood hallowed by angels. Procer had been challenged to meet the hour of doom thrust upon it, to match the calibre of the great men and women standing with and against the realm.

And Rozala Malanza saw, in the eyes of those same people, that Procer had failed to meet the challenge.

It burned that she could not deny it. Even as the hour grew late and the Black Queen played them all for fools one last time, bringing back alive a dead man. Even as the great lords of Levant swore oaths atop the hill, straight-backed and solemn.

“Let it be remembered,” the Grey Pilgrim said, shining bright with pride, “that when the Enemy came for the world, Levant did not shirk its duty.”

Rozala grieved the sight, for what had Procer done to warrant such friendship? Nothing and less. It burned still, that feeling she could now name as shame. Because she knew the honour of tonight might be betrayed in years to come. That her people might live up to the worst of themselves instead of the best. Was that not the nature of the Ebb and Flow? So I beg you, Merciful Gods, could we not rise above ourselves? Even if only one, just once. But the Heavens did not answer any more than they had when she’d been but a girl stewing in grief and rage. Silence. But there were days, deeds that demanded an answer.

And if the Gods would not give it, then she would. So Rozala’s fingers closed around the hilt of the same sword she’d once polished, dreaming of how it would cut through Cordelia Hasenbach’s neck.

Princess Rozala Malanza bared her blade and heeded a higher calling.

VII

Once she’d marched on Trifelin and suffered a stinging defeat.

The second time she’d marched there, she’d eked out a bloody victory.

Now the Princess of Aequitan watched the endless spread of the dead marching against her, a shambling tide of steel and darkness. Slowly she unsheathed her sword and raised it, thousands answering her with glittering steel and torches.

“Through peril,” Rozala Malanza screamed.

Rise,” the people screamed back.

She had been a slow learner, in many ways, but Rozala had never ceased to learn. And the third battle of Trifelin would be hers body and soul, this she swore.

One day she would teach her daughter about it.

70 thoughts on “Malanza

      1. Miles

        It’s just lame when it’s the last line, like did you seriously just scroll to the end without reading just to be first?

        At least read your own post to check if it makes sense.

        Like

  1. magesbe

    Honestly I’m almost surprised she didn’t become a Named through this. She certainly has the belief of what is right and that she’s willing to bend the world to make it such.

    Liked by 15 people

    1. Sir Nil

      Not everyone needs to be a Named. Hells, Hasenbach’s whole arc is rejecting the roles of God’s and Fate to enforce the will of man. And belief can’t be all that matters, most Names are precedented, something carved out by someone else before, perhaps some roles just don’t exist yet.

      It’s probably why Cat’s taking so long in her Name. A Name that brings together both Good and Evil might be unprecedented except for the Wandering Bard, and she’s still alive so that can’t be taken.

      Liked by 17 people

      1. Taichi

        Indeed.
        Roles are granted by strength of will and belief, like a stone parting the water of a stream, but Names are something more than just that — for Villains, they are, as noted, a coronation, or consolidation of power, whereas for Heroes they are a bestowal of power.

        That is to say: Rosalie might have the weight of belief to hold a Role (and I don’t think anyone would argue that), but not everyone with that weight is given a Name, because Above and Below act on certain criteria to Bestow power to the existing pool of qualified candidates.

        She might well get a Name in the future, but she has not yet reached the time for that to happen. Frankly, I would not expect her to, given her subordinate status to Hasenblech — had Hastenbach become the Warden of the West, I think Ronzale would have developed a parallel or subordinate Name, but Hasenboob’s rejection likely had an impact upon Ronzali as well.

        Liked by 18 people

        1. Names are made of Roles, and Roles are made of stories. And Rozala doesn’t really have an individual story that would resound with her culture. To peasants, Proceran princes are like the clouds in the sky – one second there, the other gone, and mostly without individual identity. Procer doesn’t have ruling Names, and where Frederic managed to win himself a story as an individual in the north, Rozala’s deeds were mostly outside of public understanding and interest. Agreeing to a truce is not as punchy as leading a raid against the dead.

          And it’s the stories that matter, the cultural weight.

          Rozala just… doesn’t have it. Nothing she’s done is something that would make small children’s eyes burn with the desire to see her or be her.

          Liked by 12 people

        2. mamm0nn

          Not to mention we have nearly 50 Named of Above including a Prince named Kingfisher, there’s probably a limit to how many Named there can be running around without even the Heavens seeing that there’s too many to avoid Irritant’s Law.

          With every Named added, it probably becomes harder for another Named to rise without some falling first, and their Name shallower for it. If only because Providence already has someone on hand to fill the Role and therefore doesn’t make another.

          And I personally think that being a ruler / a significant title not easily made numerous, such as Princess, carries special weight warranting a greater Name. The likes of Tyrant and Dread Emperor are probably more powerful than Hunter and Lone Swordsman because they’re one and able to decide the faith of countries by title alone. Hence why Catherine is simply a cut above the rest even when she was still Squire, being heir of Callow made her more than the title and that only bolstered once she donned the crown.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. We have early WoG that there’s a hierarchy of power among Names, and according to that information (as confirmed by observations so far) transitional Names < regular Names < ruler Names.

            Which is indeed intuitive, just as it should be with story-based things.

            Like

    2. That’s not what makes Named, no matter what Amadeus might have once said.

      Stories do. And in stories, Rozala is not much more than one of many, yet. Even her oath is that of her as a representative of her faction, not her as a standout individual (as it was very much intended).

      Liked by 5 people

        1. I agree it has enough weight to produce a Name, but that’s when it fires – which hopefully won’t be within Rozala’s lifetime, even. No, if Rozala’s getting a Name it’ll be unrelated to that thing – which yeah, good observation, quite a bit of her narrative weight will have transferred to that, so she needs a new story that is not about the Princes’ Graveyard and what happened there.

          Liked by 3 people

      1. SpeckofStardust

        Honestly even the oath would likely have produced a name, if you know their was any worth culturally that it meant anything, it does mind you, and she (Cause she’s going to keep it) is likely paving the way for a Name for people that come after her but she’s not walking down a already set path.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Yeah, when the time comes for the oath to be fulfilled that’s a Name setup big time. But that’s over there and Rozala is over here, and frankly the story of the oath might not even remember her by name after some generations. If she’s to get a Name, she needs to become well known in a story that’s about her and has a relatively complete narrative (which the oath story does not at the moment).

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Ooh, Malanza origins.

    Nice.

    Rozala – always learning from her experiences. That’s going to continue to serve her well.

    I suspect Hernan’s going to cause Rozala trouble at some point in the future … and not at Cordelia’s direction or allowance.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I imagine so. Many of the sections are written in such a way to tease or foreshadow something that happens in another section. IV mentions the “mercy” but we only really find out what it is later on in III or so. The extra effort to understand what is going on increases the readers’ involvement with the chapter, which is a cool technique.

      Liked by 7 people

    2. The numbers represent the chronological order of the segments. There is a pretty clear pattern to the presented order of numbers, so it is likely to be intentional, although I cannot speak as to the intentions of the author.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. kinghaart

      I wasn’t sure at first but it’s pretty clear by the end that it is. The themes of Rozala’s origin echo through the events of recent times, so the pairings make more sense as the chapter goes on. Personally, I had chills by the end (more than for kingfisher).

      Like

      1. Zggt

        “Through peril, rise” wouldn’t be surprising as a Drow proverb. Choosing when to fight, when not to fight, and what to fight, and viewing things through that lens is a way we can interpret the defining moments of Rozala’s life, and that seems to be a constant for the Drow culture (alongside their religious beliefs).

        Liked by 3 people

  3. It really is kind of fascinating that she didn’t earn a Name, as her will seems strong enough. The only reason I can think of is that she has a lot of sympathy for the Villains, but is probably hesitant to fully align herself with Below and abandon Above. It could also be that a true Villainous Prince(ss) isn’t an established Name, so she’s encountering a similar issue to Cat and having to carve it from scratch, but that seems like a stretch.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Will does have a aprt in some names, mostly villains but even some heroes, and like i said i bet all the meta weight went into cemented a future role/name for that Oath she made in front of everyone on that hill.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Will is a part of some stories. It’s a prerequisite for some Roles the same way the Gift / martial skill / whatever is a prerequisite for others. Will is admittedly more universal than those, but exactly because of that it doesn’t produce a Name on its own – it’s not narrow enough, not distinctly memetic enough.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Mmm funny thing but i think it was hinted Hakram got the Name of Adjutant mostly due to his will to follow Cat, at the end i suppose there isn’t an unique formule for names, there are just too many ways 1 can get a name, Cat hinted a certain fantassin captain was worth keeping an eye on because he survived a lot of shit for example xD

            Liked by 1 person

            1. > at the end i suppose there isn’t an unique formule for names, there are just too many ways 1 can get a name

              thisssss

              my fav example is Sabah who was BORN to hers. Like that about sums it up yeah? As long as there’s story enough for a Role there’s a Name.

              The trick is that the story has to be one IN-UNIVERSE. What we think is a story might not be one for Calernians. Hence no Name for Rozala, Juniper, Robber etc.

              But what the story IS is… genuinely unlimited. Maybe you’re super skilled, maybe you’re born to a curse, maybe you’ve been elected ruler of the League of Free Cities, maybe the angels like you, maybe you’ve survived what nobody should have, maybe you’re just THAT righteous, or maybe you kill the previous Black Knight and claim his title.

              Some are more common than others, some are more diverse / all-encompassing than others. Will is generally required for all of ‘seize someone else’s mantle’ AND ‘super skilled’ AND ‘unusually righteous’ categories. But there’s plenty others!

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    1. kinghaart

      I don’t see the Villain angle personally. She thinks of Cat as disgusting and vile, not with sympathy, and seems to more idealistic than pragmatic in some ways – her ideals just happen to be pragmatic ones, like “pursuing a higher calling”.

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      1. Lox

        I think it’s more of a groove. You can take advantage of a groove (even unintentionally) even if you’re not named. All you need is the weight of the story. That’s my take.

        Liked by 8 people

        1. mamm0nn

          But a Revenant is probably still more a finger on the scales than a Non-Named, so they can probably undo it if Rozala doesn’t have any Named with her. And those Named can’t piggyback on something that is completely hers, so I don’t think that it will work like that. As we’ve seen before, Named are very notably a finger on the scales, but non-Named still obey the principles of reality lest there are Named involved.

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      2. Crash

        Cat hasn’t been Named for a couple books now and yet.

        Being Named makes these story grooves stronger but they don’t suddenly disappear just because you’re not The Very Important Person.

        It has been discussed fairly recently even, in the stocks when Cat was using the Grey Pilgrim and Hanno to guide Akua where she wanted her to go. How the armies might not be as affected by it as a single person but could make use of Providence still.

        I don’t think this guarantees her victory so much as maybe things are more likely to work out in her favour than usual. Maybe her soldiers are quicker to obey, less inclined to rout and such.

        Like

      3. Normally yes but they are facing the DK a big named so something of it will bleed through not as certaina s 2 named but still there. The danger is that DK knows this and has experience twisting it and using the rules.

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    1. There was 2 rules of three I saw. The easily seen one is at the end of the chapter, but there is an over arching one. Rozala is now fighting in her 3rd war: She lost in the first one (The Proceran Civil War), The 10th Crusade basically ended in a draw and now she is fighting in a 3rd one against Keter at a pivotal spot.

      Liked by 5 people

  4. gwennafran

    Cool as it is, this chapter has left me deeply confused about timelines.

    I thought Rozala was 16 when she lost her mom, and three years younger than Cordelia.

    I also worked under the impression that the Proceran Great War started just after the Conquest of Callow. Only, those two things doesn’t fit together at all here. :/

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    1. mamm0nn

      The Great War took about 40 years if I recall, though Rozala’s mother still being around at the time and Rozala herself already being born suggests otherwise? Thirty already sounds like a lot given that, but if I’m not mistaken they explicitly said roughly 40 years somewhere in the first or second book. Then again, it could’ve been said back when the Battle of the Camps was still a glint in EE’s eyes and he since changed the timeline for personal character reasons and flow.

      Malicia didn’t start it, so it could’ve been going on for a few years before she even got involved. A decade, even. And the war already ended a few years before Cat became the Squire, so there are a few years of give afterwards.

      There is however no need for Malicia to be accounted for here, as Black is about 80 and thus Named for about 60, granting plenty of room for Malicia to be Dread Empress and stabilise her reign before she would start meddling in the Proceran civil war. Doesn’t resolve the issue with the Malanza age, though.

      I think Cordelia is a bit older though, and Rozala not nearly that young. But I wouldn’t know for sure either, truthfully.

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      1. mamm0nn

        Correction, I re-read Extra Chapter Crowned and saw it is roughly 20 years plus the time it took for Cordelia to take Procer.

        The Proceran civil war probably still started before the Conquest, but ended a while before Cat became the Squire nonetheless. It and Callow’s occupation are roughly as long as the other, just not exactly the same time.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. gwennafran

          Cordelia was 26 in book 4.

          And she became First Prince at either age 18 or 19 (cant remember if it was before she got 19 or when she was 19). So we know the war in Procer ended a few years before Book 1.

          The time it took her to win the war I think was about a year. She swooped in with her northern troops – that traditionally stayed out of such matters – and trampled over pretty much all her competition, that had long ago spent up a lot of their best people in the war.

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  5. Noldo

    Is the third battle of Trifelin happening right now or does that refer to a past attack which left Rozala wanting to keep her feet always on ground in order to hear the incoming undead?

    Like

  6. Juff

    Typo Thread:

    time your ride > time you ride
    when renounced > when he renounced
    talk of city > talk of the city
    Aquitan’s > Aequitan’s
    no longer amused. > no longer amusing.
    Chosen return > Chosen returned
    return with Aequitan > return to Aequitan
    halls with empty > halls were empty
    Mother sat the > Mother sat on the
    age, how > age — how

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  7. Big I

    Malaza is one of the people I wonder whether they’ll get a name before everything is done. Her, Brandon Talbot, Otto Redcrown, and Robber. Thought Nauk might have been in the running as well, but that didn’t work out so well.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I think that despite this interlude, Malaza doesn’t have enough protagonista for a Name. She’s getting there, but I’m with Liliet that she doesn’t have any particular Role. That could change, but it hasn’t yet.

      Brandon Talbot definitely doesn’t have enough protagonista, let alone Otto Redcrown. If either of those were going to get a Name, they’d have done so already.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Salt

        Rozala is getting quite close to meeting requirements imo, especially since she’s been a recurring major character since the crusades.

        The only real prerequisites we’ve seen so far to being Named is that you have story with some weight, and you have an excessively strong belief that you know what is right/how the world should be, and have the will to see it done.

        The former filled by just being such a regular major character, and the latter pretty heavily shown by the character development that’s shown in the chapter.

        Definitive probably not, especially since we’re so close to end of series, but definitely a lot more likely than many of the other side characters.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Gamer7956

      Robber might already have a name. Remember in the first book, it was discussed. Goblins as a species are so secretive that any name they get will likely lend itself to being hidden…

      Liked by 2 people

    3. talenel

      Talking about people who might get a name, I think Malanza and Robber are good bets. I also think Abigail has very strong chances (I could certainly see her as a sort of the Paranoid/Cowardly General who is also lucky and quick on their feet). I think Razin Tanja depending upon his future character arc has chances as well. He has some similarities to the Rogue Sorcerer as a magic-less leader of a bunch of magicians as well as a potential Name story arc if, for instance, his lady love dies. Besides them, I’m having some difficulties pointing out people who currently feel like they have strong chances of a name. I guess Ivah maybe. It’s hard with the Drow since a number of them feel like they are already part of the way to a name, but are lacking the cultural stories at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. mamm0nn

      A Name needs a Role, a purpose to come into being. We’ve got about 50 Bestowed running around right now and everything revolves around the war against the Dead King where they are almost all involved in. Providence and Above have plenty of people to fill the grooves and roles that need filling, so it’s probably incredibly hard for a new Named to just come into being. Especially a big-timer like a Princess of Procer, whose title probably directly equates to a more powerful Named than just a Headhunter or Artificer.

      If she’s getting a Name, it will probably be after a serious culling of Named by the Dead King blindsiding the Alliance and taking a hefty toll. I don’t think she, let alone the others, will get a Name until there’s a need for it that others cannot provide.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sertorius

    In response to the many queries concerning her getting a name, I’d say that she is currently etching a groove for a future name. Remember, Roles don’t happen the first time someone does something or has the right willpower for it, Roles happen when that same thing has happened many times before.
    She is building a groove in Creation for the Role of benevolent warrior princess or some such – perhaps linked to the sword and oath she gave after the Princes’ Graveyard.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. IDKWhoitis

    Anyone else read the 2nd to last section and think Mals would end up a villain if she were to become named? Because I don’t think she would every leave things to Fate or above anymore…

    Brings back memories of Barlet in the cathedral, doing so much and still being disappointed with the circumstances they find themselves in.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Voidvortex

    About the Rozala name thing that is being talked about in the comments.

    Names appear because one of two things:

    The first and by far the most common is a previous history. Those are the so called roles and they can belong to above, like the White Knight, below, like the Black Knight, and both or neither, like the Squire or the Ranger. The more history there is, the lesser need for a strong will, like we see with the Royal Conjurer, and viceversa, like we see with the Kingfisher Prince.

    Then there are times that someone does something so mind bogglingly awesome and has a strong enought will to create a name for himself, most likely a below name, like the Hierophant. That seems to be more common for people alredy named, like the previously mentioned Hierophant or Catherine’s new neme

    And my guess is that above has something similar, that a strong enought show of fatih by someone with strong enough will also creates a name, but that is just my theory.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. masterofbones

    I’d really like Rozala as first prince. Cordelia seems to be a constant thorn in the side of anyone trying to do… anything productive at all. Her one saving grace is having someone who can predict the future, but that trump card fades in power the longer people have known it exists.

    Rozala has shown herself to be competent, calculating, and willing to compromise. Any sane ruler of Procer needs to, *because they don’t have leverage for shit right now*. Cordelia is constantly acting like she is one of the big players, and that behavior is going to get her killed. Whether by Rozala or by one of the big players remains to be seen.

    Like

    1. laguz24

      It’s not that Cordelia isn’t a constant thorn in everyone’s sides its the fact that they all have their own agendas which clash with everyone else’s. Also procer, as lacking in leverage as it is right now is still one of the big players. It is the place where they are fighting right now and is the one shouldering most of the costs of the war.

      Like

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