Before long, both Graven Ashe and Voices of Nerat drew their armies back to their respective camps, there to draw up plans for a new assault against one another. The Scarlet Chorus respected my claim over the citadel, and my declaration that it should stand as a tribute to Kyros’ will and rightful rule over the valley. As the next days passed, the wounded and injured were nursed to health, the generals schemed in their tents, and I explored the strange fortress that was, for the time being, to serve as my home and base of operations. I had much to think about, not the least of which was the brewing war between Kyros’ two most powerful armies.
Rumors spread faster than plans do however, and Tunon himself, my lord and Kyron’s Archon of Justice, heard of the chaos and discord spreading across the land before I could properly pen the words. I was summoned North and ordered to report on my actions during the campaign to take the peninsula. I had not returned to the Bastard City since we sacked it nearly three years ago, but the stable and guiding hand of Kyros had been kind to it; it seemed far more presentable, respectable, than the backwater fishing village I saw before.
It had been some time since I was last in Tunon’s presence, and while I never forgot the power and command he wielded, my base instincts did. It was not without great difficulty that I stood in his presence, listening to commanders of both armies give testimony. He did not seem to be interested in their words or their bickering – he focused his attention on me. The man had a terrifying and chilling effect on people; doubtlessly useful when attempting to determine the truth of a situation.
At once he brought the full weight of his bearing onto me, asking for a full recounting of my time in the Tiers, and my observations regarding Graven Ashe and the Voices of Nerat.
Tunon was quiet for a long time after I finished speaking, his arms crossed before him. “Very well” was all he said, before acknowledging that my testimony had been entered into the record, and that his mind had not yet been made up as to the fates of Kyros’ two armies. He dismissed the court, beckoning me to approach that we may talk in private, rather than in an official capacity. Bowing both to show deference and to hide my trepidation, I did as commanded.
In the history of the empire, nothing of the events of the Tier campaign had been seen elsewhere, to the extent of my knowledge – never before had two Archons openly gone to war, particularly in the middle of a military campaign. Such things were not done by Kyros’ officers. And yet, under my watch, it had.
“Our allies squabble while our enemies regroup,” he began, bemoaning both the widespread support the oathbreakers were able to accumulate and the current state of what should have been Kyros’ finest fighting forces. “It falls upon the Court to measure the extent of the damage, and to execute the agents of disorder.” His steely gaze left no doubt as to who would be responsible for seeing these commands followed.
“I suspect that treachery, negligence, disunity, and greed have infected one or both of our esteemed Archons and their followers. Until you are instructed otherwise, this matter is the Court’s primary focus.” I bowed again. He further clarified that I was to closely examine both Graven Ashe and the Voices of Nerat, to observe them and prepare a report that one of them was responsible for the failures and near-failures of what should have been an unremarkable military campaign.
My mind swam with possibilities, including scenarios where both or neither of the Archons had been truly responsible, but his order rang very clear – one of them would be found responsible, and I was to determine, through investigation and evidence, the guilty party.
With several leads to follow, separate investigations that may ultimately be part of the central matter, I was dismissed to the wilds of the Tiers. Tunon expected frequent, and accurate, reports of my progress.