As the infantry surged forward to crash the gates, the defenders did what we expected and swarmed the main entrance, hoping to hold it against our assault. As they crowded in the small entrance the Scarlet Chorus’ fire mages rained choking soot and burning ash down upon them, causing chaos, pain, and confusion among the oathbreaker ranks. We toppled the gate and found the enemy in complete disarray, just as we had hoped. While many made it behind the interior walls, any who stayed inside the courtyard were put to the sword.
Approaching the impressive inner gates, a commotion was heard from the East – drawn from their posts by our surge at the main gate, most of the perimeter guards had attempted to join the fray, leaving the sides of the citadel ripe for assault. Just the kind of plan the Disfavored enjoyed, particularly when they were able to claim credit for the assault.
A tense stand-off took place between the two armies, united under one banner but separated by so much more than simple ideology, with me at the center of it all. I don’t know if the first arrow to be loosed was an accident, stress from the confrontation making a warrior’s fingers slip, but I know the second, and the third, were not. The Scarlet Chorus and Disfavored were at open war, at the front door of the keep we were tasked with taking. Ordering several senior soldiers to my side, I marched through the imposing front door, leaving the feckless idiots to their distractions. I would have time to deal with them after I ensured the Edict wouldn’t bath the valley in fire.
Storming into the main keep, we were met with heavy resistance. The oathbreakers were tired from months of fighting but knew keeping us from the main hall was their last stand; one way or another, their fighting would end here. Leading them was Tarkis Arri, leader of the quickly-dwindling Vendrien Guard. She sneered as we approached, proclaiming that as the ancient rite of kings was decided in the sacred hall, so would this brutal conflict.
I do not revel in the recounting of battle. Of note was their particular use of magic, far different than either the Disfavored or Scarlet Chorus, and that their officers had weapons of iron – weapons of great strength and value. Once Tarkis Arri and her chief wizard had submitted, their comrades dead about them, finally the Scarlet Chorus commanders saw fit to enter the throne room.
I could have screamed in outrage at how often the Chorus arrived after the hard work was done, but I knew this was my sole opportunity to show our new prisoners how Kyros’ will was enforced, even in the most remote lands of the continent. I thanked the Chorus for the opportunity to have a hand in their glory, demanding that the prisoners’ wounds be tended to. They had information I didn’t want in either of the two armies’ hands, and I would write to my master on how to move forward on the matter.
As I proclaimed Ascension Hall taken in the name of Kyros, and thus the Edict fulfilled, a great light began filling the room – I quickly realized that the light was coming from my own body. The power filling the room lifted me into the air, which seemed to explode without sound. My small party, my two prisoners, and the Scarlet Chorus commander all found ourselves high in the air, atop a spire that stretched into the clouds.
The rest of the assembled were as confused as I, looking this way and that, eyes drawn to the stunning view of Vendrien’s Well below us, the unusual and finely-wrought decorations built into the top of the spire, and the fact that none of the regular rank-and-file had been transported with us. Feeling the time was right to make a proclamation, no matter how many questions I myself had at this new circumstance, I announced that the spire had been taken, the war concluded, and that all combatants should retire to their camps. I still felt residual sparks of energy, I hoped from the Edict, running along my fingers in a most uncomfortable way.
I ordered the Scarlet Chorus to tell their Archon that the day was won, pointing to a portal located at the edge of the spire. “Presumably, that leads back down.”
Below us, I could hear the sounds of battle renewed – the Disfavored and Scarlet Chorus, now freed from the Overlord’s death sentence, had turned their attention on each other.