After the taking of the Bastard City and fortification of our new holdings, Kyros’ armies split in order to attack two fronts at once; the realm of Apex and the settlement of Lethian’s Crossing. Preferring to take a first-hand approach to my duties as a Fatebinder, adjudicator of law and order, I rode toward Lethian’s Crossing, trusting the commanders headed toward Apex to follow my instructions.

The first rains of 429 were sprinkling across the hills as we approached, knowing the rich iron deposits the town was famous for would strengthen our armies. Bronze was a serviceable metal, in use across the world, but the creations of the Northern smith-mages, the unparalleled craftsmanship of weapons and armour of iron, put any lesser implement to shame. We had to take these lands if our campaign were to succeed.

One of our great heroes was Sirin, Kryos’ Archon of Song. Through her charm scores of locals had joined the Scarlet Chorus, and her successes were critical to the survival of the army, so short was their average lifespan in war. Her recruitment tactics had been instrumental over the past year, though tempers flared when a young Disfavored soldier left his post to be by her side, enthralled by her message. His superiors wanted me to forcibly remove the Archon of Song, saying her cult of followers had grown too strong and needed to be violently subdued. The Scarlet Chorus didn’t see anything wrong with what Sirin had done, suggesting that the Disfavored’s desertion was a testament to her power and necessity.

Ultimately I sided with the Scarlet Chorus – they relied heavily on her ability to coerce men and women to join their cause and to quash her efforts would harm the whole of the war effort. Her newest recruits were sent to the front lines of the Apex campaign, survivors welcomed to stay in Kryos’ army. Their performance would stand as testimony to Sirin’s effectiveness. The Disfavored did not appreciate my tact in this matter and left the meeting tent in a huff, though they made no public displays of disrespect.

One of the preliminary smith-mages brought to the region found himself swearing allegiance to the Scarlet Chorus, instead of the Disfavored whom he had served for years. Demanding his return, and making not-very-veiled references to the Archon of Song and my previous decision, the Disfavored claimed that the secret of iron-forging was theirs and theirs alone. The Scarlet Chorus insisted their right to take allegiance from any source, and both turned to me for a decision. I stood firm with Kryos’ law, which dictated that the secrets of iron be granted only to the smith-mages, and then only for the use of the Disfavored. I offered the Scarlet Chorus a choice – either I would have the mage’s mind wiped of all iron knowledge, and allow them to keep him, or the Disfavored could return him to their camps in chains. Predictably they saw the uselessness of having a smith-mage with no smithing ability, and so allowed the Disfavored to arrest the errant mage.

As the war progressed, the Scarlet Chorus’ methods became more exotic, including the hiring of foreign mercenaries to raid local stockpiles and harass civilians at all hours. One such mercenary mistook his target and “accidentally” crippled a mage-smith, leaving him unable to practice his craft. On order from Tunon the Adjudicator, I demanded that both armies leave the area once the capital fell, only a token force staying behind to keep order.

As the Disfavored were the primary beneficiaries of the region’s iron, I left it to them to protect. This did not garner me any friends in the Scarlet Chorus, but my decisions are based on sound wartime strategy, not political gamesmanship.

By the close of the year, the region was ours.