While attempting to locate Misery the following morning, I came across a refuge begging for my attention. “Please, Fatebinder, I ask you to intercede on my behalf – we have rights under Kyros’ peace.” The Scarlet Chorus member who had been beating him gave his words no mind, striking him soundly in the teeth.

“Let him speak,” I said coldly. My purpose was to adjudicate breaches of the law, and the law holds no man or woman over another, regardless of birth or historic fealty. The man knelt in supplication to my decision while the woman rolled her eyes, taking a step back.

He explained that, while taking refuge in the area, they had been set upon by the Scarlet Chorus, particularly a war-band lead by the woman who had been striking him. “We pledged ourselves to Tunon,” he recounted, “we promised to be loyal members of the Empire, but she wishes for our deaths.”

“If they won’t pledge themselves to the Voices of Nerat, we have no use of them. They know we don’t have the manpower to send them up to the Bastard City with an escort, so they’ll just try to escape as soon as they get out of camp.”

I considered the man, his bearing and his condition. “You are well-spoken and knowledgeable of Kyros’ laws. Your robes are faded by deeply blue, your hair dirtied but blond. Your hands have never worked tool nor wielded weapons. If there anything else you wish to tell me before I make my final ruling?”

The man nodded, slowly, realizing I had seen more than he had hoped. Pulling down the collar of his robe he revealed a gnarled, scarred insignia below his collarbone. The mark of a Azure royal – Azure being the name of this land before the Edict of Stone ravaged the province.

“We are able to provide a great deal of information,” the man offered, gesturing to three bound companions, “particularly about the history, rulers, and geography of Azure. All of which would be most useful for Kyros,” he explained as I considered my next words. The Scarlet Chorus who had been beating him obviously didn’t understand the significance of his brand, and would likely take issue with any decision I made. Thus, I was left to make the one that would benefit the Empire the most, everything else being equal.

“Send these refugees to the Bastard City to serve within the Courts. They have pledged themselves to Tunon and thus have a right to live under Kyros’ Peace.”

The woman gave me a steely-eyed glare. “When – not if – they escape, I’ll tell everyone it was a Fatebinder who let turned them loose.”

As he was being lead away, the noble praised me and my judgment, promising to repay the favor some day.

It was time to find Misery, before Misery found us.