|“||Do you know why I always loved you, Monza? Even after you betrayed me? More, after you betrayed me? Because I know you don't really believe any of that rubbish. Those are the lies you tell yourself so you can live with what you've done. What you've had to do.||”|
Chapter Summary Edit
After an exhausting night calming the chaos in Talins, Monza and Shivers go to Fontezarmo, where the final assault on the inner walls of the fortress are prepared. Monza begs Cosca not to abandon her now, and to her surprise he agrees; even though she once betrayed him, he still loves her and knows her ruthlessness is feigned, she is really a better person than he is. As she leaves, Cosca orders Friendly to protect Monza during the assault.
When the mercenary company's assault begins, most of the men in the initial charge are slaughtered. Nevertheless, the defenders are spread too thin, and eventually ladders are raised, and some of the mercenaries get to top of the walls. Monza and Shivers are in the third wave of the attack. Monza ushers them on through the chaos within the fortress. However, Shivers halts and Monza stares at him. He is sick of Monza's scorn, and turns on her, drawing his axe ready to kill her. Suddenly, Friendly bowls into him, and the pair plunge over the balcony to the kitchen down below.
Monza continues to follow the company through the carnage to Grand Duke Orso’s private study. There she finds a group of mercenaries eagerly bursting into the room for booty. She follows them inside, but seven of Orso's personal guard easily cut down the mercenaries with flatbows. Monza is forced to take refuge behind a heavy table.
Meanwhile in the kitchen, Shivers and Friendly set on each other, with shield and axe, and cleaver and dagger. The brutal fight continues through the kitchen into a domed pavilion, but they are too well matched for either to come out on top. Both covered in blood, Friendly eventually slips, and Shivers pounces on him. Although Friendly manages to stab him in the leg, Shivers continues to pummel him. Reaching for his axe to put an end to him, a mysterious stranger suddenly appears; Shenkt. Shenkt grabs Shivers and flings him across the room, where he crumples insensible. The barely conscious Friendly watches as Shenkt casually continues up the stairs to Duke Orso’s private study.
Outside the walls, Morveer sneaks through the mercenaries encampment to Cosca’s command post. There he poisons all the wine, as the surest way to kill the old alcoholic rogue. However, Cosca and Victus get into a violent standoff of their own, with Cosca keen to rid himself of the last of the senior captains who betrayed him. Victus eventually gets the upper hand with a flatbow trained on Cosca. Gloating, Victus takes a swig of wide, and immediately clutches his stomach. A desperate tussle ensues for the flatbow. When Morveer emerges from his hiding place, he finds the pair collapsed on the ground. Assuming they've both died of the poison, he cautiously approaches with a poison needle in hand. However, Cosca suddenly stabs him in the groin, and grabbing his hand, pushes the needle into Morveer's neck. As Morveer slowly dies, Cosca gloats that he didn’t drink the wine, and in fact has abstained ever since Sipani thanks to Morveers mocking. His flask only contains goats milk.1 Morveer finally dies, killed by his own agent.2
Back in Orso’s private study, the Grand Duke recognises Monza and calls for his personal guard to wait. He grudgingly congratulates her for destroying everything he's built. When Monza snaps back that he deserves it for killing her brother, Orso tells her that he knows that she and Benna were working to usurp his Duchy. They both slowly realise the truth, that Benna had work on this alone, without Monza's knowledge.3 Suddenly, Shenkt casually steps into the room. Seeing him, Orso order him to kill her, but Shenkt just offers Monza her ring back, and kills all his personal guard; he is the mysterious healer who healed her, and has been following her all across Styria not to kill her, but to protect her. Monza calmly stands and walks up to Orso, and stabs him through the heart with little fanfair.
|Nicomo Cosca||Grand Duke Orso|
Locations and Terms Edit
|Talins||Styria||Fontezarmo||The Thousand Swords|
- Finally we have an explanation for Cosca's sudden and frequently repeated conversations about his goat throughout the novel.
- Morveer goes to great lengths to ensure that he won't be poisoned by his own concoctions, drilling Day endlessly about what a common fate this is for poisoners. Morveer does indeed die in exactly the manner described.
- For all Duke Orso has been portrayed as the villian, and Monza's roaring rampage of vengeance as paying evil onto evil, he was completely justified in having Benna killed. His only mistake was to believe that Monza was complicit in Benna's plan.