PART ONE: Ruin
12th Year of the Sparrow, 572
I'm not leading a war. I'm leading a massacre.
The mouth of the stairwell is laden with the dead. Limbs and hair and streaks of war paint obscure into one giant heap of blood-soaked warriors before me.
None of them are mine. Though I loathe myself to admit it, I wish some of them were. That way it might have seemed like a fair fight.
I hesitate just inside the watchtower's entrance, desperately seeking a route up the stairs that doesn't involve contact with the corpses. It's an impossible endeavor; bodies dangle from the banister and lie otherwise strewn about the staircase as far as I can see. Taking a step inside, the bitter scent of iron mixed with gunpowder hits me like lightning. Brief glimpses of past battles flash through my minddeath and victory and loss and despair all culminate into that twofold scent, like a vignoire hallucination playing tricks on me. I force down a swallow.
I manage to wade t