With a tunnel through the maelstrom opened, and the old regent dead, the Scarlet Chorus quickly made preparations to claim ownership of the Blade Grave, formerly called the Kingdom of Stalwart. Their banners flew, snapping in the fierce winds from the Edict of Storms, and the commander suggested I return to Voices of Nerat to report on the success of the mission.
That the Edict still stood was a sore spot for me, particularly after having found a way to both save the baby and end the proclamation. Wordlessly I lead my small band back to Cacophany, their camp at the border of the Stone Sea, and spent most of the nearly three travel days in brooding silence. I had no love for Voices of Nerat, particularly his perversion of Kyros’ laws, and his agents had twisted my methods against my purpose.
Voices of Nerat met me with an expression as stoic as the rocky grounds of the blasted land on which we stood. “Well done, Fatebinder,” he complimented flatly. “Now for your next task.”
I must have looked incredulous. After performing his errands and doing his dirty work, in large part to ascertain the truth about his role in the internal strife between Kyros’ armies, he had the audacity to demand more of me? I clenched my jaw but said nothing.
“This land is made barren by the Edict of Stone, which lasts as long as the Archon Cairn lives. He grew overconvinced of his own importance during the war, and word was brought to the Overlord that Cairn may have even have considered taking this countryside for himself. Kyros’ Edict took care of that, but still none of my scouts have been able to get through the Earthshaker mages which consider him an interesting object of study.”
“You want me to kill the leader of the Earthshakers, who is a loyal general of the Disfavored, and end the Edict for what purpose?”
“You misunderstand,” Voices of Nerat smiled distantly, as if reminiscing, “he drank too deeply of the magic which fueled his conquests and he has lost almost all semblance of his mind. The Earthshakers study him, not follow him. What they learn aids the Disfavored, true, but he no more leads them than clouds lead the rainstorm. The Edict was meant to kill him and his would-be rebellion, but the old man’s tougher even than he looks.”
He directed me to the ruined city of Halfgate, and to an agent of his stationed there. “She will help you,” he smirked.
By Kyros I prayed that this task would be complete soon. While I had plenty of reason to dislike Graven Ashe, Voices of Nerat had proven himself to be truly repugnant, inside and out. Even without all of the mounting evidence against him I may have been tempted to lay blame squarely at his feet.
As I departed the Scarlet Chorus camp, I received word that a message had arrived from Tunon himself. I did not ask how he knew I would be at the Camp, and I did not question his demand, short and precise as it was:
You are to report to the Bastard City at once. Be prompt, lest I mistake your tardiness for reluctance.
— Tunon the Adjudicator,
Archon of Justice
We turned North toward the Bastard City.