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Book 1 Edit

  • “In the beginning, there were only the Gods.
  • Aeons untold passed as they drifted aimlessly through the Void, until they grew bored with this state of affairs. In their infinite wisdom they brought into existence Creation, but with Creation came discord. The Gods disagreed on the nature of things: some believed their children should be guided to greater things, while others believed that they must rule over the creatures they had made.”
  • “So, we are told, were born Good and Evil.”
  • “Ages passed in fruitless argument between them until finally a wager was agreed on: it would be the mortals that settled the matter, for strife between the gods would only result in the destruction of all. We know this wager as Fate, and thus Creation came to know war. Through the passing of the years grooves appeared in the workings of Fate, patterns repeated until they came into existence easier than not, and those grooves came to be called Roles. The Gods gifted these Roles with Names, and with those came power. We are all born free, but for every man and woman comes a time where a Choice must be made.”
  • “It is, we are told, the only choice that ever really matters.”

– First page of the Book of All Things Prologue

  • How many Praesi does it take to change a lantern’s wick?
  • A legion to conquer all the candlemakers, a High Lord to sell the wicks down south and then we’re taxed for being in the dark.”

– Overheard in a Laure tavern – Chapter 1: Knife

  • “Before embarking on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. One for the fool and one for all those pesky relatives.”

– Dread Emperor Vindictive the First – Chapter 2: Invitation

  • I see I’ll have to take drastic measures to ensure intelligent conversation around here.”

– Dread Empress Maledicta II, before having the tongues of the entire Imperial court ripped out – Chapter 3: Party

  • Power is mostly a matter of making the right corpses at the right time.”

– Dread Empress Malicia the First – Chapter 4: Name

  • Where have all the good men gone? Graveyards, mostly.”

– Dread Emperor Malevolent III, the Pithy – Chapter 5: Role

  • Funny, isn’t it? No matter what language they speak, everyone sounds the same when you pull out their fingernails.”

– Dread Emperor Foul III, “the Linguist” – Chapter 6: Aspect

  • “A single strike parts a champion from a corpse.”

– Praesi proverb – Chapter 7: Sword

  • Note: orc buoyancy is limited. Avoid fighting the damnable rebels near shoddily-built dams in the future.”

– Extract from the journal of Dread Emperor Malignant II – Chapter 8: Introduction

  • Gaining power’s a lot like scaling a tower, Chancellor. The longer you do, the more likely you are to fall.”

– Dread Empress Regalia the First, before ordering her Chancellor thrown out the window – Chapter 9: Claimant

  • Threats are useless unless you have previously committed the level of violence your are threatening to use. Make examples of the enemies you cannot control so those that you can will be cowed. This is the foundation of ruling.”

– Extract from the personal memoirs of Dread Emperor Terribilis II – Chapter 10: Menace

  • Ha! And I bet you didn’t even see it coming!”

– Dread Emperor Traitorous the First – Chapter 11: Sucker Punch

  • Now kneel, fools, and witness my ascension to GODHOOD!”

– Last words of Dread Empress Sinistra IV, the Erroneous – Chapter 12: Squire

  • Mercy might be the mark of a great man, but then so’s a tombstone.”

– Extract from the personal memoirs of Dread Emperor Terribilis II – Chapter 13: Order

  • All lessons worth learning are drenched in blood.”

– Dread Empress Triumphant, First and Only of Her Name – Chapter 14: Villain

  • I’ve found that the best way to win at shatranj is usually to turn into a giant snake and tear my opponent’s throat out.”

– Dread Empress Vindictive III – Chapter 15: Company

  • Those who live by the sword kill those who don’t.”

– Dread Emperor Vile the First – Chapter 16: Game

  • I’ll be honest, Chancellor – revenge is the motivation for over half the decrees I’ve made.”

– Dread Empress Sanguinia II, best known for outlawing cats and being taller than her – Chapter 17: Set

  • Always mistrust these three: a battle that seems won, a chancellor who smiles and a ruler calling you friend.”

– Extract from the personal journals of Dread Emperor Terribilis II – Chapter 18: Match

  • “Please, do keep digging your own grave. I look forward to your splendidly inevitable demise.”

– Dread Emperor Benevolent the First – Chapter 19: Pivot

  • Who reigns up high?
  • A dead man’s sigh
  • What sleeps below?
  • A crown of woe
  • That is the Tower:
  • Learn and cower.

– Extract from ‘And So I Dreamt I Was Awake’, Sherehazad the Seer – Chapter 20: Rise

  • Victory, most fickle of friends.”

– Taghreb saying – Chapter 21: Fall

  • Diplomacy is the art of selling a deal you don’t want to people you don’t trust for reasons you won’t admit to.”

– Prokopia Lekapene, first and only Hierarch of the League of Free Cities – Chapter 22: All According To

  • Trust is the victory of sentiment over reason.”

– Extract from the personal memoirs of Dread Emperor Terribilis II – Chapter 23: Morok’s Plan

  • Grand designs in war are a thing of vanity. Victory goes to the general that blunders the least.”

– Theodosius the Unconquered, Tyrant of Helike – Chapter 24: Aisha’s Plan

  • The patient knife always strikes true.”

– Soninke saying – Chapter 25: Snatcher’s Plan

  • “Never back the Praesi in a corner, son. That’s when the devil-summoning starts, and it’s all downhill from there.”

King Jehan of Callow, addressing the future King Pater the Unheeding Chapter 26: Juniper’s Plan

  • “What Foundling does isn’t thinking outside the box so much as stealing the box and hitting her opponents with it until they stop moving.”

– Extract from “A Commentary on the Uncivil Wars”,  by Juniper of the Red Moon Clan – Chapter 27: Callow’s Plan

  • “Our doctrine is one of cost-efficiency. Any officer who believes extermination of the enemy is a valid path to victory should immediately be demoted back to the ranks.”

Marshal Ranker – Chapter 28: Win Condition

  • “What say you, Empress of Praes?
  • Here you lie upon the blood-soaked ruins of your dominion, surrounded by the corpses of the legions that once swarmed over the world.  Hundreds of thousands dead for the sake of your wretched ambition, your mad design to bring to heel the kingdoms of man. In all the history of Creation no one woman has been so wicked as you, and I will have my answer.
  • Why, o Empress of Ruins?”
  • She shrugged.
  • “Why not?”

– Last lines of the “The Fall of Empress Triumphant, First and Only of Her Name” – Epilogue

Book 2 Edit

  • “You can’t drop a pin in Procer without hitting royalty.”

– Eleusia Vokor, Nicaean ambassador to the Principate – Prologue

  • “I’ve been informed that the position of the King Under the Mountains is that ‘since only dwarves own property, only dwarves can be stolen from’. I’m afraid that if you insist on getting your family jewels back, my lord, we will have to buy them.”

– Official state missive from Cygnus of Liesse, ambassador to the Kingdom Under – Chapter 1: Supply

  • “The closest equivalent I’ve found to the Imperial court is the act of shoving your hand in a bag that could be full of jewels but is, most of the time, full of razor blades.”

– Extract from the personal memoirs of Dread Empress Maleficent II – Chapter 2: Demand

  • “Sooner or later, the Tower always gets its due.”

– Praesi saying – Chapter 3: Cost

  • “Seventy-three: always send the comic relief in front if you suspect there’s a trap. The Gods won’t allow you to be rid of them so easily.”

– “Two Hundred Heroic Axioms”, unknown author – Heroic Interlude: Balestra

  • “Home is wherever you can order someone drowned and not get any odd looks.”

– Dread Emperor Malignant III – Chapter 4: Return

  • “The essence of sorcery is blasphemy. Through will and power, every mage usurps dominion over the laws of Creation from the gods Above and Below.”

– Extract from “The Most Noble Art of Magic”, by Dread Emperor Sorcerous – Chapter 5: Recognition

  • “There’s no surer sign you’re being played than being certain you’ve grasped your opponent’s intent.”

– Dread Emperor Benevolent – Chapter 6: Rapport

  • “Always walk into traps. Evil is clever and patient and never as vulnerable as when it thinks it holds all the cards.”

– Eudokia the Oft-Abducted, Basilea of Nicae – Chapter 7: Reception

  • “There’s nothing better in life than the look on your enemy’s face when they realize you’ve played them every step of the way. Why do you think I keep starting secret cabals trying to overthrow me?”

– Dread Emperor Traitorous – Chapter 8: Reversal

  • “I never keep grudges. Not for long, anyway.”

– Dread Empress Maleficent II – Chapter 9: Rematch

  • “Did you really think I wouldn’t cheat just because I was already winning?”

– Dread Emperor Terribilis II – Chapter 10: Release

  • “Note: those meddling heroes keep surviving getting thrown off cliffs. Must build taller ones in anticipation of the next encounter.”

– Extract from the journal of Dread Emperor Malignant II – Chapter 11: Report

  • “There’s a very important difference between a nice man and a good one.”

– King Jehan the Wise – Chapter 12: Reproval

  • “Thirty-one: use a sword fit for your height and built, not the largest chunk of metal you can find. It will both improve your life expectancy and save you a great many jokes about overcompensation.”

– “Two Hundred Heroic Axioms”, unknown author – Heroic Interlude: Riposte

  • “Still waters are the hungriest.”

– Soninke saying – Villainous Interlude: Coulisse

  • “Swiftness is the lifeblood of war. No army can win a battle if it isn’t standing on the battlefield.”

– Theodosius the Unconquered, Tyrant of Helike – Chapter 13: Fireside

  • “Any plan with more than four steps is not a plan, it is wishful thinking.”

– Dread Empress Maleficent II – Chapter 14: Situation

  • “If you can’t play to your strengths, play to your enemy’s weaknesses.”

– Marshal Grem One-Eye – Chapter 15: Council

  • “Treason is more art than act.”

– Dread Emperor Traitorous – Chapter 16: Trust

  • “In war, begin as you would end.”

– Marshal Nim – Chapter 17: Aplomb

  • “In most histories of the Uncivil Wars, the Battle of Three Hills is but a footnote – especially given its proximity to the much more contentious Battle of Marchford. But for us, back then? Marchford might have been the crucible that forged us, but Three Hills lit the furnace.”

– Extract from the personal memoirs of Lady Aisha Bishara – Chapter 18: Tinder

  • “Maybe I’ll lose one day. But not today, and not to the likes of you.”

– Dread Empress Maleficent the First – Chapter 19: Flame

  • “We fought,
  • across field and river,
  • carrying the Tower’s writ
  • to the foot of the Wall.
  • We fought
  • and did not grow old.”

– Spoken Kharsum verse attributed to Sharok the Blinded, chieftain of the Iron Bears (banned by Imperial decree) – Chapter 20: Ashes

  • “The best revenge isn’t living well, it’s living to crucify all your enemies.”

– Dread Emperor Malevolent III, the Pithy – Chapter 21: Marchford

  • “Never hold anything in a cage you can’t put back in, should it get out.”

– Dread Emperor Terribilis II – Villainous Interlude: Coup de Théatre

  • “Those who clap others in irons always end up choking on them.”

– Eleanor Fairfax, founder of the Fairfax dynasty – Heroic Interlude: Attaque au Fer

  • “Prayer and a sword gets better results than prayer alone.”

– King Jehan the Wise – Chapter 22: Rescue

  • “Tyrants do not lose. We face temporary setbacks.”

– Dread Empress Maledicta II – Chapter 23: Defeat

  • “My mother used to tell me it gets worse before it gets better, but I’ve found it’s usually the other way around.”

– Eudokia the Oft-Abducted, Basilea of Nicae – Chapter 24: Archer

  • “Only heroes get to have the torch handed to them. Villains must take it from their predecessor’s corpse.”

– Dread Empress Malicia, First of her Name – Chapter 25: Wake

  • “A villain should make plans with the understanding that everything you can conceive of going wrong will, and then a few others things too.”

– Dread Empress Regalia – Chapter 26: Seek

  • “The worst sin a villain can commit is to hesitate.”

– Dread Empress Maleficent II – Chapter 27: Cut

  • “Look, if he didn’t want to be fed to my acid-spewing crocodiles he shouldn’t have brought me bad news.”

– Dread Emperor Malignant II, the Particularly Petty – Chapter 28: Prelude

  • “The Kharsum word for war is derived from the one used for a full cookpot. That tells you everything you need to know about how the Clans think of Creation.”

– Extract from “Horrors and Wonders”, famed travelogue of Anabas the Ashuran – Interlude: Greenskins

  • “There’s a lot of people in the Fifteenth who remember Marchford as the day we proved we could spit in the eye of Hell and get away with it. For me, though? It was the first time I ever put on legionary armour with pride. In the end, I think that might have meant more.”

– Extract from the “Forlorn Memoirs”, author unknown – Chapter 29: Stand

  • “Don’t think of it so much as a fall, but rather as an opportunity to learn how to fly.”

– Dread Emperor Venal, in the act of succeeding his predecessor – Chapter 30: Deliver

  • “Oh, give me a bloodthirsty, fire-and-brimstone conquering villain any day. It’s the schemers you have to watch out for.”

– Queen Elizabeth Alban of Callow – Chapter 31: Sleight

  • “You have to enjoy life’s little pleasures, like lazy mornings and strawberries and invading Callow with an invisible army.”

– Dread Empress Malevolent III – Chapter 32: Draw

  • “Of course I don’t step on people’s throats using my own heels. Have you seen how gorgeous these boots are? I’m not getting blood on these beauties: it takes at least two princes to get the right amount of skin, and duke leather just isn’t the same.”

– Dread Emperor Nihilis I, the Tanner – Chapter 33: Clean-up

  • “The Praesi take on negotiations is to slam a severed head on the table and smile at your interlocutor until they reconsider their position.”

– Prokopia Lakene, first Hierarch of the League of Free Cities – Chapter 34: Lesson

  • “I trust people to act according to their nature. Anything more is sentimentality.”

– Dread Empress Malicia the First – Chapter 35: Spur

  • “you call me villain
  • cast the word as you
  • would a stone;
  • seek to bury under
  • scorn of herded
  • multitude, and yet
  • forget my Name:
  • I am empress 
  • most dread,
  • savage ruler of
  • yet fiercer race;
  • did you expect
  • meekness of me?
  • you call me villain
  • speak it a curse
  • as if Hells were
  • grasping instead
  • of grasped;
  • as if I had knelt.
  • you dare?
  • I am tyrant,
  • bringer of calamity;
  • crowned and 
  • crowning glory
  • of mine empire
  • be fearful now
  • tremble; for
  • my reach is long
  • my wrath is great
  • patient but
  • unrivalled
  • above or below
  • and I will be 
  • Triumphant

– Extract from the play “I, Triumphant”, author unknown, banned by decree of the Tower under Terribilis II – Chapter 36: Madman

  • “I’ve been told one can only be betrayed by a friend, which is why I constantly surround myself with enemies.”

– Dread Emperor Traitorous – Interlude: Nemeses

  • “I don’t trust wizards. Every time I levy taxes on them, they try to get my political opponents to pull swords from stones.”

– Attributed to Louis Merovins, seventh First Prince of Procer – Chapter 37: Apprentice

  • “Hahahahaha. Ha. You can’t beat me now, this is the first part of my plan!”

– Dread Emperor Irritant I, the Oddly Successful – Chapter 38: Juncture

  • “The victor in a war is usually decided before the first battle’s been fought.”

– Prince Louis of Brabant, later eighth First Prince of Procer – Villainous Interlude: Impresario

  • Three can keep a secret, if two are dead. Unless you’re a necromancer, anyway, then the world is your blasphemous undead oyster.”

– Dread Emperor Sorcerous – Interlude: Rats

  • Maybe I won’t go to Heaven but you’ve never owned a pit full of man-eating tapirs so who’s the real loser here?”

– Dread Empress Atrocious, best known for comprehensive tax reform and having been eaten by man-eating tapirs. They were later executed by her successor for treason after a lengthy trial. – Chapter 39: Countdown

  • “There is nowhere angels fear to tread.”

– Callowan proverb – Heroic Interlude: Prise au Fer

  • “The Heavens have a way of favouring the general with the better army.”

– Theodosius the Unconquered, Tyrant of Helike – Chapter 40: Knock

  • … such wanton deviousness had been unseen since the days of Dread Emperor Traitorous, who famously passed for his own Chancellor through cunning use of a wig and a pair of cantaloupes…”

– Extract from “The Most Illustrious Histories of the Inimitable Dread Empire of Praes”, volume IV – Chapter 41: Retrieve

  • “Sometimes you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, executing the hens who laid them on trumped up charges and setting the most rebellious henhouse on fire as an example to the others.”

– Dread Empress Maleficent II – Chapter 42: Flaw

  • “The best defence is to have killed all your enemies.”

– Dread Emperor Terribilis I, the Thorough – Chapter 43: Truce

  • “Does not show traditional heroic talent for forging strong friendships but considered a leader by her peers. Responds aggressively to threats. Displays continued recklessness and an aptitude for thinking on her feet. This agent recommends disposal before she can turn into a legitimate threat to the peace of the realm.”

– Report ‘for the eyes of Lord Black only’, concerning the Imperial ward Catherine Foundling – Chapter 44: Victory

  • “It probably doesn’t count as cannibalism if you’re already dead.”

– Dread Empress Sanguinia I, the Gourmet – Chapter 45: Corpses

  • “Note: only offer the hero the chance to replace my right-hand man when my right-hand man is no longer in the room. 
  • Additional note:  find out estimated rebuilding cost for the summer palace.”

– Extract from the journal of Dread Emperor Malignant II – Chapter 46: Squire (Redux)

  • “The question of who the most vindictive people of Calernia are has long been debated. Some say it is the Arlesites, who will duel to the death over the use of the wrong adjective in a verse. Others say it is those of the Free Cities, where the moving of a border by half a mile will spawn a war lasting three generations. Others yet say it is the Praesi, who indulge in political assassination the way other nations enjoy a cup of good wine. I would humbly put forward, however, that the answer is the people of Callow. Steal an apple from a farmer of the Kingdom and fifty years later his grandson will find yours on the other side of the continent, sock him in the eye and take three apples back.”

– Extract from “Horrors and Wonders”, famed travelogue of Anabas the Ashuran – Chapter 47: And Justice For All

  • “Nothing is half as dangerous to a villain as victory. We raise our own gallows.”

– Dread Empress Maleficent the First – Chapter 48: Threes

  • “There’s a degree of argument among scholars as to whether the Liesse Rebellion was the underlying cause of the Uncivil Wars or the first of them. I was there, though, and I can tell you this: the seeds that were sown in Liesse are what we reaped in the years that followed.”

– Extract from the personal memoirs of Lady Aisha Bishara – Chapter 49: Triumph

  • “Procerans have always been the villains in our plays, scheming Alamans and grasping Arlesites. Given our history this is understandable, my Strategos, but you and I know the truth of of it.  The Principate is the final line of defence between Calernia and Evil. Two millennia they have kept the Dead King on his shore of the northern lakes and even longer have they turned back the ratling plague, without aid or succour from the rest of the continent. When Procer fails, the light of civilization dims and the monsters all get a little closer to our homes.”

– Eleusia Vokor, Nicean ambassador to the Principate – Interlude: Precipitation

  • “Your mistake, Queen of Blades, is in thinking that virtue is the province of Good. Every Tyrant who has ever claimed the Tower, every fool and every madman, had the seed of greatness in them. Courage, cleverness, ambition, will. We may lose our way, we may lose ourselves, but every time we get… a little closer. You think I am afraid of death? I am a droplet in the tide that will drown Creation. I take pride in this, even in my hour of failure. Empresses rise, Empresses fall. But the Tower?
  • Oh, the Tower endures.”

– Last words of Dread Empress Regalia the First – Epilogue

Book 3 Edit

  • “The most dangerous opponent for a master is a novice. Therefore, seek to be a novice in all things.”

– Isabella the Mad, only general to ever defeat Theodosius the Unconquered on the field – Prologue

  • “Do not make laws you do not intend to enforce. Allowing one law to be broken with impunity undermines them all.”

– Extract from the personal journals of Dread Emperor Terribilis II – Chapter 1: Right

  • “We make the shepherds kings at the end of our stories because they already know how to lead recalcitrant, bleating creatures of limited intellect.”

– Prokopia Lekapene, first and only Hierarch of the Free Cities – Chapter 2: Might

  • “Oh, I get it. The real treasure was the people I had executed along the way!”

– Dread Emperor Irritant I, the Oddly Successful – Interlude: Gate

  • “Sixty-seven: putting an arrow in a villain during their monologue is a perfectly acceptable method of victory. Heroes believing otherwise do not get to retire.”

– Two Hundred Heroic Axioms, unknown author – Heroic Interlude: Arraignment

  • “You can never have too many tiger pits, Chancellor. That’s the same lack of vision that has people say “that’s too large a field of energy to absorb” or “calling yourself a living god is blasphemy”.”

– Dread Emperor Malignant III, before his death and second reign as Dread Emperor Revenant – Chapter 3: Demesne

  • “The viper that bites a Matron dies poisoned.”

– Taghreb saying – Chapter 4: Developments

  • “Look at how edible you are. You’re basically asking for it.”

– Warlord Grog the King-Eater, addressing the king of Okoro during the sack of the same – Chapter 5: Beachhead

  • “One learns more from defeat than victory. Therefore, fear the general that has never won a battle.”

– Isabella the Mad, Proceran general – Chapter 6: Backlash

  • “Ah, but being defeated was always part of my plan! Yet another glorious victory for the Empire.”

– Dread Emperor Irritant, the Oddly Successful – Chapter 7: Elaboration

  • “It is a shallow soul who fights to the cry of ‘might makes right’. The truth is more concise: might makes.”

– Dread Emperor Terribilis I, the Lawgiver – Villainous Interlude: Chiaroscuro

  • “One hundred and twelve: always be kind to any monster held in a cage by your nemesis. When it inevitably gets loose, it will remember the kindness and attempt to destroy the villain instead.”

– “Two Hundred Heroic Axioms”, author unknown – Heroic Interlude: Appellant

  • “Invading? Good Gods, of course not. We’re merely manoeuvring.”

– Dread Empress Sinistra II “the Coy”, after being hailed by the garrison of Summerholm – Chapter 8: Lies

  • “Gentlemen, there is no need to worry: our plan is flawless. The Emperor will never see it coming.”

– Grandmaster Ouroboros of the Order of Unholy Obsidian, later revealed to have been Dread Emperor Traitorous all along – Chapter 9: More Lies

  • “No one ever won a war by being shy.”

– Queen Elizabeth Alban of Callow – Chapter 10: Entrance

  • “Only if it’s ‘being executed’.”

– Dread Emperor Terribilis I, upon being asked for a last request by a hero – Chapter 11: Swerve

  • “It admittedly took me a few years to make my peace with the fact that Lady Foundling’s take on diplomacy is essentially to bring a bottle of cheap wine and a sword to the table, then remind the interlocutor that while the wine might be awful it is still arguably better than being stabbed.”

– Extract from the personal memoirs of Lady Aisha Bishara – Chapter 12: Double Down

  • “The heart of warfare is deception. Therefore, the general who can deceive even themself is invincible.”

– Isabella the Mad, Proceran general – Chapter 13: Forgery

  • “I can’t beat your band of heroes, true, but what if there were another eightbands also out for my blood? Ha! What are you going to do, form a line?”

– Dread Emperor Irritant, the Oddly Successful – Chapter 14: Trick

  • “Most live out their days on an isle of vapid ignorance, shying away from the dark and hungry waters that surround it. To seek power is to brave the tides, but one who does should not expect to see those shores again.”

– Translation of the Kabbalis Book of Darkness, widely attributed to the young Dead King – Chapter 15: Bestowal – Chapter 15: Bestowal

  • “We should never forget that for a great evil to be defeated, a lesser evil must first become great.”

– Queen Eleanor Fairfax, founder of the Fairfax dynasty – Villainous Interlude: Proscenium

  • “The covenant of the hungry lasts as long as the meal.”

– Taghreb saying – Villainous Interlude: Stormfront

  • “See, this is exactly the kind of trouble I’d be avoiding by mind controlling the entire world. You fools are making my point for me, can’t you see?”

– Dread Emperor Imperious, shortly before being torn apart by an Ater mob – Chapter 16: Shambles

  • “There’s a natural hierarchy to the world, Chancellor: there’s me, then my boot, then all of Creation under the boot.”

– Dread Empress Regalia – Chapter 17: Allegiance

  • “Kingdoms don’t die on battlefields. They die in dark, quiet rooms where deals are made between those who should know better.”

– King Edward Alban of Callow, best known for annexing the Kingdom of Liesse – Chapter 18: Crack

  • “In the aftermath of a rebellion do not execute merely those who rebelled. Remove those that remained uncommitted as well, for any power not bound to you is a threat.”

– Extract from the personal journals of Dread Emperor Terribilis II – Chapter 19: Order (Redux)

  • “An alliance of victors is like a hearth in summer.”

– Julienne Merovins, tenth First Princess of Procer – Chapter 20: Skew

  • “To conquer until all of Creation is desert or province: that is the ideal of Praes. Mock their failures if you must but do not ever forget their victories.”

– King Albert Fairfax of Callow, the Thrice-Invaded – Chapter 21: Example

  • “We do not forget.”

– Official motto of the House of Iarsmai – Chapter 22: Govern

  • “From small slights, long prices.”

– Deoraithe proverb – Chapter 23: Reassessment

  • “The source of wonder and horror is the same, and the boundary between them thinner than you would think.”

– Dread Empress Sanguinia I – Interlude – Apprentice

  • “If Creation is not mine, what need is there to be a Creation at all?”

– Dread Empress Triumphant, First and Only of Her Name – Villainous Interlude: Exeunt

  • “Morality is a force, not a law. Deviating from it has costs and benefits both – a ruler should weigh those when making a decision, and ignore the delusion of any position being inherently superior.”

– Dread Emperor Benevolent – Villainous Interlude: Decorum

  • “Forty-nine: if any wizard over the age of fifty suddenly becomes evasive when asked about your parents, you may safely assume yourself to be either royalty or related to your archenemy in some way.”

– “Two Hundred Heroic Axioms”, author unknown – Heroic Interlude: Injunction

  • “My dear Chancellor, I didn’t murder my entire family and use their blood to turn myself into an undead abomination to be told I couldn’t do things.”

– Dread Emperor Revenant – Chapter 24: Vanguard

  • “Trust the Heavens but tie your horse.”

– Callowan proverb – Chapter 25: Intent

  • “You’d be surprised at the breadth of things that can be powered by the souls of the innocent. Fortresses, swords, my favourite chandelier.”

– Dread Empress Malevolent II – Chapter 26: Advance

  • “No matter how hallowed the crown, it fits only one head.”

– Proceran saying – Chapter 27: Expedition

  • “When historians try to pin down Foundling’s methods they point to the Battle of the Camps or the Princes’ Graveyard, but those came later. After she’d learned her trade.  If you want to understand how she operated, look to the Battle of Four Armies and One – from the beginning to the end, she was playing an entirely different game from every other commander on the field.”

– Extract from “A Commentary on the Uncivil Wars”, by Juniper of the Red Shields – Interlude: Commanders

  • “I’ve yet to encounter a situation that couldn’t be improved by a copious amount of lies and body doubles.”

– Dread Emperor Traitorous – Chapter 28: Gambits

  • “Ah, mortal wounds. My only weakness.”

– Dread Empress Sanguinia II – Chapter 29: Scale

  • “The classic Callowan blunder. Sending an army into the Wasteland you can’t handle if it comes marching back as undead.”

– Dread Emperor Sorcerous – Chapter 30: Riot

  • “My dear friends, I have a confession to make. Some creative reframing of the truth may have taken place during the planning of this coup.”

– Dread Emperor Traitorous, addressing the Order of the Unholy Obsidian upon successfully usurping the throne from himself – Chapter 31: High Noon

  • “Oh, on most days we lose. But once in a while, just once, it works. And those moments of perfect clarity where all the world is in the palm of your hand, a hundred thousand middling minds made into flawless assembly by your will? Those are worth all the rest.”

– Dread Empress Regalia II – Chapter 32: Close

  • “Taxes. Taxes and triplicate forms.”

– Dread Emperor Terribilis I, upon being asked what powerful sorceries he would use to humble the High Lords – Villainous Interlude: Cadenza

  • “We have grown to mock Tyrants for they are mad but that is a very dangerous thing. A madman thinks the world other than what it is, and in a mortal that is a harmless thing. Not so in one who moulds Creation to their will, as all Named do.”

– King Edmund of Callow, the Inkhand – Villainous Interlude: Thunder

  • “That’s the thing with invincibility. You have it until you don’t.”

– Dread Empress Prudence the First, the ‘Frequently Vanquished’ – Villainous Interlude: Calamity I

  • “Who should really be afraid, between the dragon and the peasant with a sword?”

– Dread Emperor Reprobate the First – Villainous Interlude: Calamity II

  • “The truth of monsters is that, in the end, they die. If they didn’t we would have to call them gods.”

– Eudokia the Oft-Abducted, Basilea of Nicae – Villainous Interlude: Calamity III

  • “No matter how good the horse, it can only bear one saddle.”

-Callowan proverb – Chapter 33: Promises

  • “Tonight we must speak of Callow, that stubborn graveyard of empires. Princes and princesses of Procer, we must now admit this truth: we have lost an entire kingdom to peasants and bandits.”

– Beginning of First Princess Éloïse of Aequitan’s speech to the Highest Assembly, on the subject of withdrawal from occupied Callow – Chapter 34: Talks

  • “To bargain with devils is to paint with your own blood: the greater the work, the harsher the price.”

– Dread Empress Maleficent II – Chapter 35: Questions

  • “It is impossible for the Empire to make an appreciable gain so long as this gain is a loss to every other nation on Calernia. To remedy this, we must discard the traditional lines of allying only to Evil polities and make it so that it is in the interest of other powers for us to rise.”

– Extract from ‘The Death of the Age of Wonders’, a treatise by Dread Empress Malicia – Chapter 36: Malice

  • “Truth and silence lie better than the silvermost tongue.”

– Soninke saying – Chapter 37: Procedures

  • “It is said that the founding First Prince spoke of Procer as a great tower, every principality a stone raising it to ever greater heights. I have found the sentiment more poetic than accurate. Procer is no single tower but twenty-three of them, and their owners constantly steal each other’s stones to rise at the expense of the others.”

-Extract from ‘The Labyrinth Empire, or, A Short History of Procer’, by Princess Eliza of Salamans – Chapter 38: Host

  • “It’s hard for people to understand what it means to have been part of the Fifteenth. We were farmboys and thieves, not people that were ever supposed to matter. Fodder for noose and ledger. But then she came along, and told us we were to be the doom of gods. Heavens forgive me, but I believed her then and believe her still.”

– Extract from the ‘Forlorn Memoirs’, author unknown – Chapter 39: Exposition

  • “When approaching a siege, a general must draw distinction between tactical and strategic importance. The costs of a victory on the tactical theatre of a campaign may yield defeat on the strategic one.”

– “Considerations on Warfare”, by Marshal Grem One-Eye – Chapter 40: Rising Action

  • “Better behind a Tyrant than before them.”

– Praesi saying – Chapter 41: Turning Point

  • “Ah, but every palace you destroy has to be rebuilt! You’ve single-handedly pulled the Empire out of a slump, hahaha. Once again sweet victory is mine.”

– Dread Emperor Irritant I, the Oddly Successful – Chapter 42: Plateau

  • “Of course not, did you see the height of that drop? That is the last we’ve seen of the Shining Prince, I assure you.”

– Dread Empress Sinistra IV, the Erroneous – Chapter 43: Cliff

  • “The only thing more dangerous than being hated by a villain is to be loved by them.”

– Dread Empress Regalia II – Chapter 44: Drop

  • “And so Maleficent said: ‘Though you be god I am Empress, crowned of dread, and by my hand comes your doom. Rage in vain, for from your bones will rise a great tower whose shadow will be cast upon all the world.’”

– Extract from the Scroll of Chains, first of the Secret Histories of Praes – Chapter 45: Falling Action

  • “Never wound a man you do not intend to kill.”

– Extract from the personal journals of Dread Emperor Terribilis II – Chapter 46: Denouement

  • “Here is the truth of our dreadful crown: to claim it a declaration of war on banality, on mediocrity. The banner of the enemy is apathy, the slow grind of the inevitable. Victor or ruin, every Tyrant that ever lived bet their madness against the bridle of the Heavens.”

– Dread Empress Regalia II – Chapter 47: Offers

  • “I was once told that character is what you are in the dark. I found, my dear Chancellor, that I was the dark.”

– Dread Emperor Sorcerous – Chapter 48: Interrogation

  • “Truth is a lie grown old and beloved.”

– Soninke saying – Chapter 49: Hearsay

  • “Doubt is the mother of failure.”

– Dread Emperor Terribilis I, the Lawgiver – Chapter 50: Preparation

  • “It is ever the temptation of chroniclers to ascribe great failures to a single turning point, a flaw revealed or enemy virtue displayed. This simplification of history ignores the starker truth of all great enterprises, that in the end though all leaders are captains of a ship they rule neither wind nor tide. Failure and victory are the collection of choices small and great, shaped by perspectives of the myriad making them.”

– Extract from ‘The Ruin of Empire, or, a Call to Reform of the Highest Assembly’, by Princess Eliza of Salamans – Chapter 51: Overlooked

  • “What cannot bend is fated to break.”

– Taghreb saying – Chapter 52: Tensile

  • “War is a breed of conflict decided by the allocation of resources. Through better apportionment a lesser nation can defeat a greater, but never if decision-making is of equal standing on both sides.”

– Extract from “The Modern Legion”, a treatise by Marshal Ranker – Chapter 53: Manoeuvring

  • “If I had an aurelius for every assassination attempt, I wouldn’t have to keep raising taxes.”

– Dread Emperor Pernicious, the Imperiled – Interlude: Skirmish I

  • “Mark my words, the Imperial banner will be flying above Summerholm by midsummer.”

– Dread Empress Regalia II, shortly before initiating the Sixty Years War – Interlude: Skirmish II

  • “I imagine the High Lords would be inclined to protest the mind control, if I hadn’t seized control of their minds, which just goes to show this was the right decision all along.”

– Dread Emperor Imperious – Chapter 54: Wake

  • “The heart of succession is always murder. The new cannot grow where the old remains.”

– Theodore Langman, Wizard of the West – Chapter 55: Reunion

  • “And on your grave we shall have inscribed: he was witty all the way into the tiger pit.”

– Dread Emperor Vindictive – Chapter 56: Recess

  • “Men make swords, Heavens the sheath.”

– Callowan saying – Chapter 57: Revolve

  • “And so Subira of the Sahelians slew Maleficent and said: ‘Emperor am I now, Sinister of name and deed. Let this be the truth of our empire, that iron ever sharpens iron ‘til the last cut is made.’”

– Extract from the Scroll of Thrones, second of the Secret Histories of Praes – Chapter 58: Hard Measures

  • “Peace is a fine thing, but war is the crucible of crowns.”

– Queen Elizabeth Alban of Callow – Chapter 59: Anacrusis

  • “Then let us be wicked,
  • Let us be reddest ruin
  • Rent, broken, crooked
  • Black hearted and cruel
  • Then let us be doom,
  • To both friend and foe
  • Fly banner of gloom
  • We lowest of the low
  • Rise, rise all ye villains
  • You rogues and madmen
  • Proudly claim the stage,
  • Of this wondrous age
  • We are not kind or just
  • Deserving of any victory
  • We are a thing of dust
  • Promised only misery
  • So smile, Tyrants,
  • And let us be wicked”

– Final monologue of “The Many Deaths of Traitorous”, a play on the reign of the Dread Emperor Traitorous – Villainous Interlude: Crescendo

  • “Victory is transient. To seek it is to remain so. I have seen the face of that which is eternal, and it stands beyond struggle.”

– Translation of the Kabbalis Book of Darkness, widely attributed to the young Dead King – Chapter 60: Opening

  • “It is true, Chancellor, that a house divided cannot stand. Why do you think mine is the only one I left standing?”

– Dread Emperor Callous – Chapter 61: Tempo

  • “One hundred and eighty-seven: should one of your trusted companions be taken hostage at knife-point, check for the following features – cliff, moat, or any kind of sharp drop. Should one be nearby, you may assume the situation will solve itself momentarily.”

– “Two Hundred Heroic Axioms”, author unknown – Chapter 62: Verse

  • “Do not ever speak of victory before the last foe is dead.”

– Queen Elizabeth Alban of Callow – Interlude: Liesse I

  • “There’s not a lot of difference between court and a swamp. Colourful things are poisonous, lots of buried corpses, crocodiles are often involved.”

– Dread Empress Prudence the First, the ‘Frequently Vanquished’ – Interlude: Liesse II

  • “Oh, woe is me, you’ve destroyed my army… Hahaha, you fell for it again! I haven’t paid them in a year, they were about to depose me. Once more, Irritant triumphs against all odds!”

– Dread Emperor Irritant I, the Oddly Successful – Interlude: Liesse III

  • “Rulers must exercise restraint. Every action ripples across Creation, bringing three unintended consequences for every one anticipated.”

– Extract from the personal journals of Dread Emperor Terribilis II – Interlude: Liesse IV

  • “A dilemma is no such thing if it is flammable.”

– Dread Empress Sulphurous, the ‘Technically Correct’ – Chapter 63: Bridge

  • “Food riots, is it? Well, I do enjoy when a problem is its own solution.”

– Dread Empress Sanguinia I, the Gourmet – Chapter 64: Solo

  • “A hero should not confuse striking at Evil and doing Good, lest their Good become the act of striking.”

– Theodore Langman, Wizard of the West – Chapter 65: Elision

  • “On the third month of the year I found myself on the outskirts of the city of Okoro, and stumbled upon one of the famous Praesi field rituals. The throats of ten and three men were slit on dusty ground, and from the lifeblood spilled the earth turned from yellow to black. Granted audience with the lord presiding, I asked him the meaning of the ceremony. ‘Everywhere men bleed,’ he told me. ‘In Praes we get the full worth of it.’”

– Extract from “Horrors and Wonders”, famed travelogue of Anabas the Ashuran – Chapter 66: Refrain

  • “Change, my friend, is the admission that one falls short of perfection. A plebeian sort of doubt, best reserved for rulers who don’t make their enemies eat their own hands.”

– Dread Emperor Revenant – Chapter 67: Middle Eight

  • “Here, have a butter knife. Let it not be said I do not tend to the needs of my beloved subjects.”

– Dread Emperor Revenant, having dinner with an enemy – Chapter 68: Coda

  • “Thus the Gods granted us the first boon: as we live we will die, and in dying be granted our just deserts.” 

– The Book of All Things, fourth verse of the second hymn – Chapter 69: Swan Song

  • “Six wars I fought since my coronation, so hear me when I say this: war may be fought for righteous reasons, but no war can ever deserve that epithet.”

– King Jehan the Wise, apocryphal last words – Chapter 70: Reverb

  • “It is easiest to win a game when no one else knows you’re playing.”

– Dread Empress Maleficent II – Chapter 71: Reprise

  • “Tall your tower may be, but what was raised by the hands of men can by those same hands be torn down.”

– Queen Eleanor Fairfax of Callow – Chapter 72: Curtains

  • “You who pass this gate, know yourself beyond hope.”  

– Written above the gates of Keter, earthly seat of the Dead King – Epilogue

Book 4 Edit

  • “If my allies were half as reliable as my enemies, I would have a different moniker.”

– King Henry Fairfax, the Landless, upon being told of the Praesi invasion of Principate-occupied Callow – Prologue

  • “Though official records state that the Principate fought a mere score civil wars, it should be noted that this does not include wars fought between less than five principalities. Should the definition be amended, Procer has on average fought a civil war every decade since the year of its founding. No single nation has ever spilled so much Proceran blood as the Principate itself.”

– Extract from ‘The Labyrinth Empire, or, A Short History of Procer’, by Princess Eliza of Salamans – Interlude: Stairway

  • “Those who withstood the sword, I laid low with ink.”

– Words carved into the tomb of Dread Emperor Terribilis I, the Lawgiver – Chapter 1: Observatory

  • “In conclusion, the court recognizes the desertion of the sentient tiger army raised by Dread Emperor Sorcerous as sufficient precedent to rule that tapirs can, in fact, commit treason but that lack of sentience bars them from laying claim to the Tower by right of usurpation.”

– Official transcript from the Trial of Unexpected Teeth, which resulted in the execution of the man-eating tapirs that devoured Dread Empress Atrocious – Chapter 2: Alarm

  • “I must say, Chancellor, you’ve become quite the conversationalist.”

– Dread Empress Maledicta II – Chapter 3: Chat

  • “I’m not saying all your closest friends are shapeshifting devils I sent to spy on you after having the originals murdered, but I’m certainly implying it very heavily.”

​​​​​– Dread Emperor Traitorous, making small talk  ​​​​​– Chapter 4: Warpath

  • “Ruling is not unlike gardening, if all the weeds were heavily armed and plotting your demise.”

– Dread Empress Prudence the First, the ‘Frequently Vanquished’ – Chapter 5: Interests

  • “Irritant’s Law: inevitable doom is a finite resource, and becomes mere doom when split between multiple heroic bands. Nemeses should never simultaneously engage a single villain.”

– Extract from ‘The Axiom Appendix’, multiple contributors – Chapter 6: Hedges

  • “Petty thieves hang, the great wear crowns.”

– Proceran saying – Chapter 7: Snares

  • “That is the secret to a peaceful court, Chancellor. Regularly having the High Lords for dinner.”

– Dread Empress Sanguinia I, the Gourmet – Chapter 8: Dialogue

  • “There is no absolute virtue to peace. To avoid war out of petty fear is the exact same moral failure as waging war in name of it.”

– Clément Merovins, fourth First Prince of Procer – Interlude: Crusaders

  • “Casualties are a consequence of properly employed tactics, not the intent. To merely bludgeon away is to reduce the conduct of war to arithmetic.”

– Theodosius the Unconquered, Tyrant of Helike – Chapter 9: Grand Pas

  • “There are no reserves, you fool, only second waves!”

– Isabella the Mad, only general to have ever defeated Theodosius the Unconquered on the field – Chapter 10: Allegro

  • “You might say that they’ll never see me coming.”

– Dread Empress Malevolent II, announcing the raising of her invisible army – Chapter 11: Ballon

  • “In a finite world, one’s gain (victory, large cave) inevitably means loss (dead female, enemy grows) for another. There can be no peace (looking away, knife already in a corpse) when the very nature of Creation is contest (not enough meat, talking).”

– Extract from a theorized translation of ‘Remnant and Ruin’, one of the few goblin texts ever obtained – Chapter 12: Cambré

  • “Civilized men disapprove of murder, of course. Unless it involves banners and great numbers: then it becomes one’s patriotic duty.”

– King Edmund of Callow, the Inkhand – Chapter 13: Élevé

  • “So spoke His Dread Majesty in the wake of battle, even as the High Lords praised him: ‘Speak not flattering untruths. Another such victory and I will rule an empire of ghosts.’”

– Extract from ‘Commentaries on the Campaigns of Dread Emperor Terribilis the Second’ – Chapter 14: Arabesque

  • “And so my reign ends as it began, with fewer allies than stab wounds.”

– Alleged last words of Dread Emperor Pernicious, the Imperiled – Chapter 15: Bravura

  • “When the abyss stares back, wave. Offer refreshments. Being impolite to the abyss is never a good idea.”

– Dread Emperor Malevolent I, the Unhallowed – Chapter 16: Pirouette

  • “Spoken like a man I’ll have raised from the dead just to execute a second time.” 

– Dread Emperor Malignant III – Interlude: Kaleidoscope

  • “Fear is the mother of character. Without it we remain children until death.”

– Queen Elizabeth Alban of Callow – Interlude: Kaleidoscope II

  • “The meaning of the exercise of war is the destruction of your foe’s ability to wage it. ‘Victory’ does not exist as an independent entity; it is merely the manifestation of the enemy’s defeat.”

– Extract from ‘Considerations on Warfare’ by Marshal Grem One-Eye – Interlude: Kaleidoscope III

  • “And so Dread Emperor Irritant addressed the heroes thus: Lo and behold, I fear not your burning Light, for I am already on fire.”

– Extract from Volume IX of the official Imperial Chronicles – Interlude: Kaleidoscope IV

  • “The final disappointment of heroism is to find that a just war was, in the end, just a war.” 

– Theodore Langman, Wizard of the West – Interlude: Kaleidoscope V

  • “You can have the throne when I’m done with it, which will be never.”

– Dread Emperor Revenant, initiating the First War of the Dead – Interlude: Kaleidoscope VI

  • “Peace is little more than the reсognition that the reasons for which war was undertaken are no longer relevant.”

– Dread Emperor Benevolent the First – Chapter 17: Contingent

  • “Seven battles I won on my feet, and lost the war sitting at a table.”

– Periander Theodosian, Tyrant of Helike, after the founding of the League of Free Cities – Chapter 18: Cradle

  • “To seek to ascertain the worth of even a single a soul through morality is to force unnecessary mysticism onto a simple matter. As in all things, supply and demand determine the price.”

– Extract from “Bought and Sold”, a collection of the teachings of the Merchant Prince Irenos, founder of Mercantis – Chapter 19: Recovery

  • “Proceran promises should be treated like stew: unless you know every ingredient, best not swallow.”

– King Charles Fairfax of Callow, the Rightfully Wary – Chapter 20: Onset

  • “Invading Callow is much like drunkenly playing dice: the odds are never as good as you believe, and you know you’ve reached bottom when snake eyes are involved.”

– Dread Emperor Malevolent III, the Pithy – Chapter 21: Tug-of-War

  • “A war fought and won for the wrong reasons, under the wrong cause, can be a greater threat to the Praes than simple defeat. Maleficent the First spoke of villains raising their own gallows, but failed to add that the killing stroke in a hanging comes from the height of the drop.”

– Extract from ‘The Death of the Age of Wonders’, a treatise by Dread Empress Malicia – Chapter 22: Trip

  • “Red the flowers, red the crown
  • Red this day of bleak renown
  • How soon they forgot Eleanor
  • Along every oath they swore

 

  • Red the flowers, red the wreath
  • Red the sword that left the sheath
  • Now a king lies dead on the grass
  • Taught the vows of princes pass

 

  • Red the flowers, red the grave
  • Red the biers of knights so brave
  • They who thrice rode and died
  • Under banners of olden pride

 

  • Red the flowers, red the right
  • Red the fires this day will light
  • For every slight there is a price
  • Ours will be long and paid twice.”

– ‘Red The Flowers’, a Callowan rebel song written in the wake of the Proceran occupation of Callow – Interlude: Red The Flowers

  • “Sing we of rage,
  • In Tower and field
  • Of this dying age
  • That will not yield

 

  • Sing we of steel,
  • Forged in the east
  • As turns the wheel
  • And carrion feast

 

  • Sing we of empire,
  • For which we bled
  • Of flickering fire
  • Now all but dead

 

  • Sing we of foe,
  • Of victories won
  • And that first woe
  • Tyranny of the sun

 

  • Sing we of ruin,
  • As again we tread
  • West, ever pursuing
  • Fate writ in dread.”

– ‘The Tyranny of the Sun’, a Praesi song written in the latter stages of the Sixty Years War. Banned by decree of Dread Emperor Nihilis. – Interlude: Sing We Of Rage

  • “The moon rose, midnight eye
  • Serenaded by the owl’s cry
  • In Hannoven the arrows fly 
  • Hold the wall, lest dawn fail

 

  • No southern song for your ear
  • No pretty lass or merry cheer
  • For you only night and spear

 

  • Hold the wall, lest dawn fail

 

  • Come rats and king of dead
  • Legions dark, and darkly led
  • What is a grave if not a bed?

 

  • Hold the wall, lest dawn fail

 

  • Quell the tremor in your hand
  • Keep to no fear of the damned
  • They came ere, and yet we stand

 

  • So we’ll hold the wall, 
  • Lest dawn fail.”

– Lycaonese folk song, origins unknown, dated before annexation by the Principate – Interlude: Lest Dawn Fail

  • “Take no comfort in that, hero. For though dawn ever comes, night ever does precede it.”

– Dread Empress Regalia II – Chapter 23: Recoup

  • “The enemy of my enemy is second on the list.”

– Dread Empress Vindictive III – Chapter 24: Invitation (Redux)

  • “My dear Betrayer, I resent this accusation of selling you out to the heroes. No coin changed hands, it was really more of a bartering.”

– Dread Emperor Traitorous – Chapter 25: Edge

  • “If war is to be understood as the pursuit of statecraft through violence, then the Principate is a failure as a nation: the Highest Assembly has proved chronically incapable of either agreeing on or seeing through a single ambition through the undertaking of warfare.”

– Extract from ‘The Ruin of Empire, or, A Call to Reform of the Highest Assembly’ by Princess Eliza of Salamans – Chapter 26: Plunge

  • “The existence of death is the first lie we are taught. There is little difference between a corpse and a man, save the journey of the soul. They who learn to slip this noose find the threshold of apotheosis, for in the denial of passing they have taken themselves beyond the yoke of fate.”

– Translation of the Kabbalis Book of Darkness, widely attributed to the young Dead King – Chapter 27: Into Dusk

  • “An offer to ‘kneel or die’ would be insincere, Matrons. Deny me and your corpses will be made to kneel anyway, as I have a chorus of your children scream a cheerful tune.”

– Dread Emperor Nihilis I, the Tanner, negotiating the end of the Fourth Goblin Rebellion – Chapter 28: Archaic

  • “Don’t be absurd, Black Knight. It would have been called treason if I’d lost – this is merely succession.”

– Dread Emperor Vile the First – Chapter 29: Sixth

  • “There is only one lesson to be learned from shatranj: no matter who wins the game, the pieces return to the same box.”

– Dread Emperor Benevolent the First – Chapter 30: Witness

  • “You’re a masterful schemer, it’s true. Let’s see if that helps any in the alligator pit..”

– Dread Empress Malignant I, holding court – Chapter 31: Spectation

  • “Match the smile but watch the knife.”

– Soninke saying – Chapter 32: Kernel

  • “And so Triumphant said: ‘Tremble, for I am not yet content.'”

– Extract from the Scroll of Dominion, twenty-fourth of the Secret Histories of Praes – Chapter 33: Keter

  • “You could gather the stuff of all the Hells and still find less Evil within than lies in the soul of a single man. The worst monsters are always those that chose to be.”

– King Edmund of Callow, the Inkhand – Chapter 34: Abyss

  • “Seventeen: always agree when offered to share in the rule of the world by a villain. The three to four heartbeats of sheer surprise that will earn you are a golden opportunity to kill them before it comes to a monologue.”

– ‘Two Hundred Heroic Axioms’, author unknown – Chapter 35: Stroll

  • “I’ve found that nothing quite sets the tone for council like strangling a courtier with my bare hands just before we begin.”

– Dread Emperor Venal – Chapter 36: Enchère

  • “Callowans as a people can be summed up by the fact that, before the Uncivil Wars had even come to a close, it’d become a common boast among the populace that the Black Queen had not even spent a sennight in Keter before having several counts of arson and murder to her name.”

– Extract from the personal memoirs of Lady Aisha Bishara – Chapter 37: Offing

  • “It is said that on the eve of the Maddened Fields, the Tyrant Theodosius consulted with the many Delosi soothsayers among his host. He asked them if he would find victory or defeat, should he give battle at dawn as he intended. The Delosi squabbled among themselves for hours, until the eldest among them looked the Tyrant in the eyes and spoke his answer: Yes.”

– Extract from ‘The Banquet of Follies, or, A Comprehensive History of the First League War’ by Prince Alexandre of Lyonis – Chapter 38: All According To (Redux)

  • “My dear prince, why would I settle for merely being on the right side of history when I could be on all sides of it instead?”

– Extract from the minutes of the Conference of the Blessed Isle, between the Shining Prince Harry Alban and Dread Emperor Traitorous – Chapter 39: Hakram’s Plan

  • “A battle is, in my experience, a handful of hours where one of two generals proceeds to destroy his own army while the other simply happens to be there.”

– Prince Fernando of Salamans – Chapter 40: Vivienne’s Plan

  • “Note: though ‘fell down the stairs’ is common fate for Praesi highborn, further study demonstrate this is not nearly as lethal as the records would imply. It took, on average, five repeats to reliably kill someone in this manner. The tiger pit remains most practical.”

– Dread Emperor Malignant II, the Particularly Petty – Chapter 41: Akua’s Plan

  • “Chaos is a ladder, Chancellor. It never goes quite where you need it to, and the rise is always more graceful than the descent.”

– Dread Emperor Perfidious – Chapter 42: The Skein’s Plan

  • “Kings and shepherds fit in the same cook pot.”

– Orc saying – Chapter 43: Masego’s Plan

  • “From the example of the claimant Desolate we can learn this: no scheme is so perfect that it is invulnerable to the utter idiocy of an opponent.”

– Extract from an untitled historical commentary on the War of Thirteen Tyrants and One, by the Imperial Concubine Alaya of the Green Stretch – Chapter 44: Catherine’s Plan

  • “As the Bellerophans had not redrawn their war maps in over a century, their expedition against Penthes instead began with the sack of three outlying Delosi towns, one of which was walled and whose watchmen rebuffed the assault of the army. The Republic ultimately withdrew a month later after capturing a Stygian trade caravan carrying a handful Penthesian goods, announcing the unequivocal success of its punitive expedition to the great confusion of the Exarch of Penthes, who was still mustering her army over three hundred miles to the north.”

– Extract from ‘A Pack of Squabbles, or, A History of Internal League Warfare’ by Prince Alexandre of Lyonis – Chapter 45: Ambush

  • “To declare an assertion of the People untrue is unlawful, even if it was retroactively asserted by vote to be untrue, at which point referring to it as either true or untrue is equally unlawful.”

– Bellerophan formal codex of laws, circa 1321 A.D. – Chapter 46: Possibly A Plan

  • “Do not call a man loyal who still draws breath.”

– Dread Emperor Terribilis II – Chapter 47: Culmination

  • “Spring brings southern weddings and northern burials.”

– Lycaonese saying – Interlude: Empires

  • “A passable plan done in a day will nearly always beat an exquisite scheme requiring a month.”

– Dread Empress Regalia II – Chapter 48: Shadows

  • “Forty-two: should a disagreement lead one of the party to leave, you should expect combat within the week as you will either be captured to be rescued by the departed or the opposite. Let it happen, as a common enemy will heal all internal disputes and you can share a good laugh over the corpse of your nemesis’ dead lieutenant.”

– Two Hundred Heroic Axioms, author unknown – Chapter 49: Wrangle

  • “There is no poison more potent than hatred made silent.”

– Arlesite saying – Chapter 50: Partings

  • “All serve, by whip or by writ.”

– Inscription carved above the entrance to Stygia’s Magisterium – Chapter 51: First Impressions

  • “No, see, you’ll profit as well. All you need is to convince five others of contributing coin and when they do you’ll get a part of their own contribution. It’ll all work out, I promise.”

– Dread Emperor Irritant, the Oddly Successful, convincing High Lords to invest in the construction of ritual pyramid outside Ater – Chapter 52: Finesse

  • “I am ever amused to hear men speak of senseless violence. What is violence, if not the failure of reason? One might as well bemoan the wetness of water.”

– King Edmund of Callow, the Inkhand – Chapter 53: Gloom

  • “One hundred and ninety-three: should your nemesis offer you a wager, a truce or delay for the first time always accept it. Villains with a fated heroic match have reached the peak of their power, whereas you and your companions can only grow.”

– “Two Hundred Heroic Axioms”, author unknown – Chapter 54: Scavenger

  • “Over the month I spent in Atalante I witnessed no fewer than two hundred debates take place under the gaze of the pale statues of the Temple of Manifold Truths, for the people of the city delight in such exercises of rhetoric as those of Stygia delight in bloodsport. The subjects varied from the purpose of mankind to the proper shape of apples, though the true wonder of the place was that I do not believe a single speaker left the Temple believing they had been wrong.”

– Extract from ‘Horrors and Wonders’, famed travelogue of Anabas the Ashuran – Chapter 55: Outskirts

  • “Best not to think too deeply, lest the dwarves take the thought.”

– Mercantian saying – Chapter 56: Knock Knock

  • “Come now, my lords, you started this war knowing what I’m about.”

– Dread Empress Massacre the First – Chapter 57: Betwixt

  • “May the Heavens strike me down if I lie. Again.”

– Dread Emperor Abominable, the Thrice-Struck – Chapter 58: Quiet

  • “Note: bottling up the power of friendship cannot be achieved by bottling up friends. Must pursue further trials, perhaps prior liquefaction diluted the substance.”

– Extract from the journal of Dread Emperor Malignant II – Chapter 59: Audience

  • “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is lynched.”

– Praesi saying – Chapter 60: Profiteers

  • “Beware those who peddle sweet truths, for that which cleanses is rarely gentle.”

— King Edmund of Callow, the Inkhand — Chapter 61: Remonstration

  • “Do I even need to give the order?”

– Dread Empress Massacre — Interlude: Queen’s Gambit, Offered

  • “Of course I fear my friends. If they did not scare me, why befriend them at all?”

– Dread Empress Prudence the First, the Frequently Vanquished — Interlude: Zwischenzug

  • “He who trusts no one finds only enemies.”

– Callowan saying — Interlude: Giuoco Pianissimo

  • “In the East they say that doubt is the death of men, but I have seen the end of the forking path and reply this: so is certainty, only for others.”

– Theodore Langman, Wizard of the West — Interlude: Zwischenzug II

  • “A man could sift through all of Creation and never find so much as a speck of this elusive thing called the greater good. Like all the most dangerous altars, it is entirely of our own raising.”

– King Edmund of Callow, the Inkhand — Interlude: Giuoco Pianissimio II

  • “Fifty-nine: it is always better to interrupt a plan than carry one out. Your finest successes will always be the failures of your enemy.”

– ‘Two Hundred Heroic Axioms’, author unknown — Interlude: Queen’s Gambit, Declined

  • “I don’t care if they’ve been training, it’s only been two months. What could they possibly have learned that would threaten me?”

– Dread Empress Sinistra IV, the Erroneous — Chapter 62: Impulse

  • “Blood sacrifice is such an ugly term. I prefer to think of it a ‘blood redistribution’, a thriving new form of Imperial enterprise.”

– Dread Empress Sinistra II, the Coy — Chapter 63: Initiation

  • “When in doubt, attack. When doubtless, attack as well.”

– Bastien de Hauteville, Proceran general — Chapter 64: Momentum

  • “‘lo and behold, I have brought peace to the Empire.”

– Dread Empress Massacre, after ordering the Burning of Okoro – Chapter 65: Impact

  • “It is a small-minded man who needs a reason to create a ritual that would crash the moon into Creation.”

– Dread Emperor Malignant III, before his death and second reign as Dread Emperor Revenant – Chapter 66: Tremors

  • “With great madness comes great possibility.”

– Dread Emperor Malevolent I, the Unhallowed – Chapter 67: Breakthrough

  • “It is common practice among the lower classes of Praes, who lack surnames, to name their children after themselves in the hopes of confounding any devils coming to collect on debts.”

– Extract from “Horrors and Wonders”, famed travelogue of Anabas the Ashuran – Interlude: Heretics

  • “And so Sinistra said: ‘What we cannot grow we will take by dread, and damnation on all who deny this.'”

– Extract from the Scroll of Misfortunes, thirteenth of the Secret Histories of Praes – Interlude: Dreadful

  • “There is greater power in severing than binding, in releasing than capturing. The most fundamental act of will is to cut.”

– Translation from the Kabbalis Book of Darkness, widely attributed to the young Dead King – Interlude: Apostates

  • “It is a bitter truth that in trying to escape the flaws of our parents we inevitably inherit the worst of them.”

– King Pater of Callow, the Unheeding – Interlude: Apogee

  • “Dearest Edda, beloved daughter. I would offer you words of wisdom or comfort, but after a lifetime of ink I find my hands have finally taken leave of me. I have written of good and evil for many years, seeking truths, but in the end I have no answers to offer. All I have, my heart, is a prayer. That you be kind. That you leave the world a little better than you found it and teach your children to do the same. And maybe, just maybe, one day we will be what we pretend we are.”

– Last will and testament of King Edmund of Callow, the Inkhand – Interlude: Inheritance

  • “Obviously you can’t kill me now: your enmity is with the Dread Emperor of Praes, and I’ve already abdicated. I am now but a humble shoemaker, and what kind of hero slays a shoemaker?”

– Dread Emperor Irritant, the Oddly Successful. Later noted to have made surprisingly nice shoes during his three abdications. – Chapter 68: Poised

Extra Chapters Edit

  • “In its infancy, the Fifteenth was in the awkward position of being within spitting distance of the heart of the Empire without being part of it. Legate Juniper, ever brutally sardonic, pointed out that give how tall their manors stood, they had a better chance of landing the spit on us than us on them. History wasted no time in proving her correct.”

– Extract from the personal memoirs of Lady Aisha Bishara – Conspiracy I

  • They call Ater the City of Gates and then forget to mention how often those are shut on people’s fingers.”

– Dread Empress Regalia II – Conspiracy II

  • “This eye for an eye business is horridly proportional. I assure you, if I’m losing an eye then so is everyone else.”

– Dread Empress Sanguinia II – Red Skies

  • “I stared into the abyss and found what stared back… wanting.”

– Translation of the Kabbalis Book of Darkness, widely attributed to the young Dead King – Beast

  • “Refuge is not a city so much as it is a cluster of vagabonds, held together by awe of the Lady of the Lake. There are no laws here, save for her whims, and those she inflicts only rarely. The Kingdom Under seems to consider Refuge a protectorate, though they have no real presence on the premises, and I should not need to remind you of Lady Ranger’s infamous ties to the Calamities. The Consortium must tread lightly. This is the woman who once hunted the Wild Hunt for sport, and she has not grown meeker with the passing of years.”

– Varrus Ipsimos, agent for the Consortium – Regard

  • “Authority is the lie we all agree on for fear of chaos.”

– Dread Empress Maleficent II – Reign

  • “That slip of a girl from Rhenia is playing ruler, coming south with her pretty little army. I’ll have driven her out of Brus by winter, then we can turn our attentions to real threats like the Princess of Aisne.”

– Extract from the correspondence of Prince Dagobert of Lange, dated four months before the fall of Lange – Crowned

  • “One hundred and forty-three: do not try to avert prophecy, fulfil prophecy or in any way tinker with prophecy. Swallowing poison will lead to a quicker death and less ironic horror inflicted upon Creation.”

– “Two Hundred Heroic Axioms”, author unknown – Usurpation

  • “May you become the weakest link in the Chain of Hunger.”

– Ancient Lycaonese curse – Warden I

  • “There’s only a thousand of them, I don’t care if they’re on a hill. This will be over by midday, Black Knight, mark my words.”

– Dread Empress Sulphurous, the Technically Correct – Warden II

  • “Though goblins are the most secretive of all peoples, audiences with Matrons granted me some insight into their people. The Tribes have no true concept of war because there is no such thing as peace, to a goblin – only the temporary witholding of violence.”

– Extract from “Horrors and Wonders”, famed travelogue of Anabas the Ashuran – Raid

  • “I do not fear wicked men, who know only cruelty and pain. The fear they inflict leashes them as well. But a decent man? Oh, there is no limit to the devilry a decent man will fall to, if he believes it necessary.”

– King Edward III of Callow – Deadhand

  • “The most important part of any summary execution is to remember to have fun and be yourself.”

– Dread Empress Malevolent II – Closure

  • “Even the kindest hero stands over a spreading graveyard.”

– Theodore Langman, Wizard of the West – Dues

  • “The true tragedy of Evil is that it is not absolute. That even the worst of men can love their children, be moved to kindness. Damnation is earned piecemeal.”

– King Edmund of Callow, the Inkhand – Background

  • “To follow a principle is to ascribe value to it, and value always has worth that can be quantified. Is to value quantifiable worth above all, therefore, not to follow the greatest of all principles?”

– Extract from “Bought and Sold”, a collection of the teachings of the Merchant Prince Irenos, founder of Mercantis – Fletched

  • “No man in Creation is so dangerous as a well-meaning fool.”

– Dread Empress Regalia II – Prodigy

  • “Heed my warning princes and princesses of Procer: for every empire laid low by Evil, a hundred were wrecked by mere greed and stupidity.”

– Extract from ‘The Ruin of Empire, or, a Call to Reform of the Highest Assembly’, by Princess Eliza of Salamans – Hierarchy

  • “He who casts judgement will ever be judged in turn.”

– Ashuran saying – Prosecution I

  • “Men often speak of justice as the middle way, the compromise, but that is the guise of lesser evils. Justice is to uphold that which is right, and there is no place for compromise in this.”

– King Jehan the Wise of Callow – Prosecution II

  • “Ruling is to promise a man a boat and his brother the river while owning neither.”

– Kind Edmund of Callow, the Inkhand – Court I

  • “Salvation is ever an act of violence, be it within or without.”

– Dread Emperor Reprobate the First – Court II

  • “Power is a blanket that never covers quite as much as you need it to.”

– Queen Matilda the Elder of Callow – Court III

  • “There is enough room to fit the entire span of Creation between the Heavens and the mouths of priests.”

– Antoine Merovins, twenty-second First Prince of Procer – Fatalism I

  • “What is it if not sorcery, that I can tax a single belltower in Salia and set half a dozen cities ablaze?”

– First Princess Anaïs of Cantal, referring to the incident that began the First Liturgical War. Later became the Proceran shorthand of ‘Salian belltower’, referring to a small act carrying disastrous consequences. – Fatalism II

  • “I fear the man of one book, even if that book is about the pastoral habits of the common Callowan cow. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a cow? They are a depthless abyss of cold nihilism.”

– King Edward V of Callow, the Sufficiently Paranoid – Fatalism III

  • “Alas, though your jest was cutting this axe is even sharper.”

– Dread Emperor Vindictive — Ye Mighty