FROM: General Debinani Rahl
RE: Chapter Thirteen – Justice is a Fickle Mistress
Justice is a Fickle Mistress: An Official Affidavit
I find it strangely ironic that my thirteenth chapter in
these Annals is one of such despair. And sadly enough it
would appear that I brought it on myself through trust and
ignorance. I will vouch for this document, if it ever comes
to light, as being my official affidavit on the matter.
My discourse begins where my last left off, at the court of
Lord British. I was allowed into the conference room to
greet British and one of his advisors, one Soltain
Grishnac. Apparently, Grishnac was in charge of any matters
having to do with frontier territories. We sat, had a light
breakfast and had small talk. British remains surprisingly
well informed. He asked about the men and the health of
Lieutenant Shade. He seems to have heard of our break from
the mercenary life and he seemed pleased and somewhat
relieved all at the same time to know that the army resting
in his back-waters had decided to follow an ancient credo
of Justice and Honor before the lure of gold. I can’t blame
him for that.
His question about Shade brought me swiftly to the point.
“Shade’s dead, as well as most of my men.”
That’s how I started. I had never really had breakfast with
such a powerful man before, and I was somewhat hesitant to
make the demands that I had to make. I must say, British
has a powerful presence. He’s a strong man no matter what
any of the others may say about him. As you can tell he
left quite an impression on me. I had never been able to
speak with him up close, Blackthorn sure, but never the Man
himself. But I digress.
I invoked feudal law concerning an unlanded noble and his
liege. British seemed somewhat surprised to hear that the
Captain of the legendary Black Rose Society wanted a formal
commission and blessing to raise arms against enemies of
the people, but he took it in stride. Grishnac however
almost burst into flames; the man looked that appalled…
infuriated even. British looked me in the eye and stabbed
his fork into his fruit like a hardened warrior stabs his
blade into the earth and leaned forward and looked me in
the eyes. I don’t think I’ve ever been intimidated before
in my life until that very moment. We looked at each other…
into each other for what seemed an eternity. I don’t know
what he saw in me, but I saw a hardened warrior trying to
do the best for his people that he could. A warrior and
leader with a vision of something better. In that moment,
Lord British took this single, independent soldier and made
a Britannian. I believed in him…and even now that feeling
hasn’t faded. It’s a disturbing feeling. The moment that I
started to become uncomfortable under his scrutiny, he
immediately relaxed and sat back in his chair with a sigh.
“I trust you, ” he said quietly, after a moment of thought.
“It’s not misplaced sir, ” I managed to sputter out. I must
have looked as shaken as I felt because he laughed and gave
me a pound on the shoulder that I can only assume was meant
to be a pat of camaraderie.
“Very well then, I’ve heard of your accomplishments as a
leader. You may raise your army for the purposes of ending
the hostile occupation of Yew. You will receive a Royal
commission of General, and your Society will be entered in
the record books as the Guard of Stormstone Sound. Their
ranking will last as long as the liberation. You will set
forth from here to Yew and march your army to the remains
of Stormstone Sound with the intent of destroying the evil
presence there. Once that is done the army will be
disbanded and you will report back to Britain for
reassignment. The term of your commission will be three
years starting at sunrise tomorrow. And to be completely
honest I’d like to take advantages of your abilities at the
“A…General?” I sputtered.
“Aye, a General indeed. Now, I must depart. Grishnac will
take care of the commission and have it ready for you on
the morrow. Good day, General Rahl.”
I looked to Grishnac. He seemed to have composed himself,
but just barely. He gave me a curt nod and hurried out. The
rest of the day went without incident.
The following day I returned to the palace to find Grishnac
sitting in the tiny conference room behind an absolutely
massive stack of paperwork. He was all grins and smiles. I
thought at the time that British might have spoken to the
man about his behavior the previous day. Little did I know.
The signing of the commission was done with within minutes
and then another subject came up….
“Lord British did much thinking about the state of Yew last
night, General, ” the man began, “And he wished me to brief
you on the decisions he came to.”
He offered me some mulled wine to fight off the damp and
vaulted into a very complex speech of legalese, which I
struggled to understand and could not possibly repeat. I
found myself getting groggy listening to it all. I finally
stopped the man and asked him to explain to me in plain
speech what he was talking about.
“Freedom, ” the man responded, “Freedom and Independence
for all of Yew.”
I blinked several times, trying to wrap my mind around the
“What do you mean?” I said
“Lord British listens very closely to the pulse of the
people. He spent the entire evening looking over export and
tax reports and whatnot, and he decided that if Yew were to
present enough strength to liberate itself from the
invaders, then the people should be free. He felt that as a
free nation of people happy to be free would be in the
greater good than a part of a nation unhappy with its lot.”
I know what you’re thinking…how could anyone possibly
believe a word of it? Well, I’ve been wondering that myself
in retrospect. I may not know much of law and politics, but
I know that no ruler gives up anything that he doesn’t have
to for any reason. I had only assumed the cloudiness of my
thoughts had been fatigue from the night’s battle and a
spurious assault of legal-talk, however Society’s healer
and alchemist seems to think I was drugged. He said it was
very probably that Greshnic stuck a certain herb in the
mulling spices that caused a susceptibility to suggestion.
I don’t know much of such things but it could be the only
explanation I have that I actually agreed to this nonsense.
I spent most of the rest of the day in a haze. I had two
agreements in hand when I had expected only one. But I
pressed forward. Vengeance still drove me on. And thus I
made my proclamation. A proclamation that I was leading an
army to burn the fort to the ground and that Yew would be
free. And we all know it didn’t go over very well in many
Well, a few days later Grishnac brought it to British’s
attention that I was building an Army in Yew with the
purposes of breaking the Shadowclan and liberating the
territory from the Crown. I don’t want to think about the
betrayal he must have felt. British made a leap of faith
that a lone soldier could do what is right. I don’t want to
imagine his disappointment in me. As much as I “don’t want”
I always do though. It creeps into my head right beside the
sense of loyalty and pride his probing gaze instilled in
me. The charge of High Treason was leveled on my head
before the ink on the commission was dry.
And thus I’ve been laying low. I’ve been living in the
rough of the New Lands for over a week now while my men,
loyal to the last, work to clear my name. At this point I’m
not entirely sure I deserve it. Even if I was drugged, I
can’t believe I let myself fall into that situation.
Perhaps the children will forgive me when this all finally
comes to light.
Last night wasn’t a good night. Fighting between the
Society and other groups has started over the issue.
Grishnac was slaughtered last night in his bed. So was my
dear friend Denis in the Royal Library. So was Cyan
Mosvani, RingWielder of Water, and the only friend we had
among The Five, who tried desperately to warn us that Lord
Spirit’s hand was in this plot. All are dead. All killed
horribly with some manner of magic. The Court is trying to
pin me with Grishnac and Denis’ deaths. But I know. I know
who’s behind all of it now. Lord Spirit just got many more
lost lives piled onto the charges I will make him answer to.
Signed and Witnessed
Captain of The Black Rose Society
Independent Counsel to General Rahl
Member of the Esteemed Order of Legalists