Against that positivism which stops before phenomena, saying “there are only facts,” I should say: no, it is precisely facts that do not exist, only interpretations…
Back then, when the heroes of their time had faced their final trial.
It was Emperor Thorgrim who had centralized his powers, and having bent the Church of Eternal Fire he was finally able to muster the Legion. His goal had been to conquer Shimeh, the Holy City. Allied with King Conrad of Temeros, the Imperial Order and its assembled armies had formed an unstoppable force. Naming its ‘Warmaster’ – or supreme ‘figurehead’ commander – had been one of the longest debates of the past century. For the Warmaster would lead the largest army of his age to its greatest war.
Finally, both Temerians, Imperials and Church officials agreed on appointing the Westerling raised as an Imperial icon, the man known as Dantena van Torquaz. His quest was to free the Emperor’s Daughter Elena, kidnapped by the God King’s own son, Prince Hoshin. The abduction had been Dantena van Torquaz’s motto when inspiring the armies of the Alliance.
However, he came back a broken and flayed undead wraith, betrayed by someone. He recalled following Gamorein’s lead, and took the Holy City with a dozen men. And he recalled the Imperial Princess lying in a pool of blood, her murderer standing above her. A man he never Dantena van Torquaz had never seen before. A man baring a traditional clergy tunic, with a bold hair and a determined gaze. A man who crushed him and his allies. Who could have betrayed their plan and leaked its content, guiding the Assassin in their wake, to disgrace Dantena van Torquaz forever?
Having failed as the Warmaster of the Conquest, he had been branded a traitor, sent to the ashpits before being pardoned, and was now working for the Night Watch of Emperor Arius, rushing to find the Sinistros, a deadly killer. The former’s bloody trail led him to confront Lord Captain Arthur Paragon, one of his closest friends in Shimeh and now a suspicious military commander facing a demon’s corpse.
Arthur Paragon spoke:
“What is the meaning of this?”
Closing his fists, Torquaz replied, furious:
“Was it you, Paragon?
You, who led that freak upon us, killing half of our men, before leaving me crippled? He, who killed the Emperor’s Daughter?” Torquaz questioned, anger poorly contained.
Of course not,’ Paragon denied. ‘I was at your side that day. But if you suspect me, you have probably made up your mind. Knowing you, Torquaz.
I believe what I see’ Torquaz pointed at the demonic corpse. ‘Is this your doing.”
Paragon was answerless.
“This is what I’ve thought.
- Well, you are not as unbreakable as you think. Additionally, old friend, we have both seen the war. Magic is DEAD! I have been tasked with leading this experiments.”
Before Torquaz could answer, Paragon continued:
“It was NOT my choice! However, when I receive orders from above, I have to follow at least a few of those. Even building magical weapons on Asylum Inmates. This is… MY… curse.”
He lowered his eyes before pursuing:
“The Sinistros knows of this, obviously. And he wanted YOU to know. But I assure you, on the Oathpact, that I have nothing to do with his murders.
- You know what I think of oaths.” Torquaz spat. “I trust you. So who? Who could master my style and know of the inner workings of the Empire? Only one of us…
The Assassin of Kings just killed half of us. We were a dozen. You must know Gamorein is in the capital. So is Norman, and so is Tel’Sian.”
These last two, Torquaz didn’t know.
“The high command is preparing something. The Fulgams are quiet. The Great Houses are scheming. The Ironlands produce new weaponry. A new age has begun, Dantena. An age without gods and magic.
- I doubt it,” Torquaz turned his back at him. “If you want this’ he pointed at the altered body, ‘to stay quiet, you’ll give me command of the Citadel until tomorrow’s Curfew. Agreed?”
The Lord Captain nodded.
“So you haven’t just given up yet,” Arthur’s voice followed his footsteps.
“You would be a fool Arthur,’ Torquaz replied. ‘Dreams don’t die with us. And magic isn’t dead, otherwise I would be.”
And like that, the man known as Dantena van Torquaz left.