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The Valiant Rose - An Epilogue (Ongoing)

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Preface: This is was an idea I was pushed to follow through on by @dessysalta, providing an epilogue and final ending to the story of Adalwin Von Roes. I don't know exactly how this will end yet, but for now I hope to use it as a chance to explore a few ideas I never got around to during his time on the Horizon, and to provide me some closure.

Part 1 - One Chance


"Goodbye, Sadie Almayer."

Clank. The airlock to Adalwin's holding cell closes harshly.

"I think it is time you left."

Hiss. The bolts slid into place, locking the door.

"I love you, Adalwin Von Roes."

Thud. His legs finally gave way, and the ex-noble's body fell to the floor. The pain didn't register. He no longer wore his cape, but his now well-worn suit was stained bloody from the officers that had taken him. That pain hadn't registered either. Nothing compared to that of the previous few hours.

"Adalwin Zerich Von Roes, you are charged with breaking the Fifth of Her Edicts, engaging in romantic relations with the synthetic known as Sadie. You are to be extradited, and returned to Her Empire, where you will stand judgment before Her Church, and receive Her Divine Mercy."

He hadn't resisted. He knew what he had done. Lured by the flame, he had grown too close, thinking himself immune to the warmth. Now he had been burned. He was an Edictbreaker, and there was only one absolution for those. The Tribunal offered him mercy, a chance at retribution, if not in this life then in the next. This was his one chance at a second chance. He would not squander it.

Even still, he was afraid. Afraid of death, something he had never expected. He had been so ready to die in the Goddess' name so many times. He just never imagined it like this. Afraid for his family, and how they would react. He would break his fathers' hearts, and his sister's too. His brother would just be disappointed.

And he was afraid for Sadie too, no matter how hard he tried to push that fear away. He did not know how she had taken his rejection. He hoped she had gone to the Trinary; They could watch over her better than he could have.

Even now, he contemplated heresies. Had he truly been so corrupted? Turned away from Her light so completely? He reminisced old days, long since past: A spire, in the heart of Nova Luxembourg, looking out across the vast city, the snow-capped mountains and trees in the distance. The top of the Archive had been his favourite recluse, back then. Back before he left on the orders of a priestess. Before the Horizon, and his solitude, and the companionship he had found in Sadie. And everything else she had shown him.

Hiss. Clank. The bolts released, and the airlock slid open. A man - one of the officers, he recognised him from earlier - stood on the other side, arms folded, a now clean truncheon in one hand.

"Apostate. You, Adalwin Zerich Von Roes, stand informed that you are to stand trial for your crimes before the Tribunal in Nova Luxembourg, twelve days from now." He began his disdain for Alwin as clear as his Vulgar Morozi accent.

Twelve days until absolution.

"Given the nature of this conviction, your title of Holy Knight of the Holy Order of the Red Dove is hereby revoked."

He had somewhat assumed that.

"Similarly, your status as the heir of the late Baronet Von Roes is also hereby revoked."

The world froze. Had he heard that correctly? He- He couldn't have. Sören couldn't be-

"D-did you ju-just say... l-late?"

The officer chuffed, unfolding his arms. He shut his eyes, bracing himself for the impact of the truncheon, punishment for daring to speak. Instead, he heard paper fall in front of him.

"I suppose even a heretic deserves to know the fate of their family." He replied, his tone a little softer, though still full of hatred for the disgraced Primary. "This would have been delivered to you in the morning."

Alwin opened his eyes, seeing the envelope that had been placed on the ground. Ser Adalwin Zerich Von Roes it read. He was no Ser anymore, but he supposed this had been written before that. He broke the seal, pulling out the folded paper inside. The officer turns to return to the door, as a smaller piece of paper falls from within. Alwin quickly scans the words, yet they make no sense to his mind. He pockets it and returns to reading the letter itself.

Dear Ser,

I regret to inform you that tragedy has struck your House in your absence. Your twin brother, Captain Lucian Theodore Von Roes, was discovered by Tribunal Constables to be involved in smuggling synthetics out of the Frontier. He unfortunately fled the Empire before he could be apprehended. His whereabouts are presently unknown.

Additionally, your step-sister, Doctor Katherine Céleste Von Roes-Blanc, disappeared the day after the discovery of your brother's betrayal. Her whereabouts are likewise, unknown, but she is suspected to have been involved in the operation.

Finally, your father, Baronet Sören Amadeus Jannsten Von Roes, had taken ill health prior to these events. With these discoveries, it seems he lost his will to live.

As the final heir to Baronet Von Roes, you are requested to return to the Empire immediately to be present for the reading of his will.

Goddess speed,

Isaac Avington, Imperial Foreign Affairs

Adalwin's head swam with the information he had just read. His brother and sister were both heretics, just like him. His father was dead. He was his father's last heir. Or had been. The news cycled round and round in his head, a torrent of emotions swirling in his thoughts. He could accept the Goddess demanding anything of him: His service, he had given decades ago; His arm, sacrificed in a heartbeat; Even his life, he had accepted that price. But his family? He did not care if it dishonoured him, he drew the line there. He would not recognise the "mercy" of a Goddess who wished his brother and sister dead too.

Clank. Hiss. The airlock closed and locked again, leaving him alone in his cell once more. He sat down on the metal bedframe, still processing the letter. He returned it to the envelope, and pulled from his pocket the other scrap of paper, re-reading the words, their meaning now clear in his mind.

I am alive. Meet on Biesel. - Kat.

His sister was a heretic.

His sister was alive.

And his sister was headed to Biesel.

He knew that, somehow, he would see her again. This was his one chance at a second chance. He would not squander it.


Part 2 - The Many Crimes of Adalwin Von Roes


Adalwin tossed and turned in his sleep, the metal bed offering no comfort to his slumbering body.

"But why are we going to the capital, father? I thought the Tournament wasn't for another fortnight?" The thirteen-year old Alwin had asked. Lucian sat next to him in the train carriage, across from Sören and Aivar.

"You will see, my sons. Your Goddess-mother has requested our aid with some new visitors to the Empire. All our aid." Sören replied calmly. Alwin nodded, though he wasn't certain why the Baroness would want him and Luke meeting some foreign guests - They were just Secondary children, far from the best impression one could give of Dominia.

The train sped across the Morozian countryside, finally arriving in Nova Luxembourg several hours later. It wasn't the first time Alwin had seen the capital of the Empire, but the sight of it always filled him with wonder. The scale and splendour was surely proof of their status as the chosen people of the Goddess. They disembarked, and travelled by foot through the busy streets. Alwin wanted to stop and stare and marvel at the sights on every street corner, but he knew better. They were here for a reason, whatever that may be.

Sören led them to a large hall, a few blocks away from the spaceport. Alwin supposed that made sense, if they were meeting diplomats. He wondered where they would be from. He was in for a surprise.

They entered into the hall to find a number of  Primaries, and a few other Secondaries invited by their patrons like themselves. But the true surprise were the non-Imperials. The non-humans. Towering, reptilian figures, some with faces like dragons in myths of old, others more akin to Earthen crocodiles or snakes. Unathi. Alwin had heard of them before, but never seen one in the flesh. Never even imagined he might meet one. Yet here they were, on Moroz. In the same room as him.

There was a ceremony to greet their new guests, the newest of the Emperor's faithful servants, after which there was a lot of mingling. Alwin noticed how on edge all the adults, human and unathi alike, seemed to be around each other. He didn't understand it really; They all served the Emperor and the Goddess after all, didn’t they?

Alwin decided to break the ice with them - For all their scary looks, surely they would be pleasant conversationalists. They must have some stories, to have traveled this far from their home.

“Excuse me sir? Might I offer a warm welco-” Alwin was cut off as the reddish-scaled unathi he had approached turned to face him. He could hardly claim to be able to read an unathi’s emotions, but this seemed clear enough. Rage.

“Warm? Warm! Issss that what you call thisss, boy?! I am posssitively chilled to my boness.” The sinta looked down at him, but before he could respond, Alwin felt a strong grip on his shoulder, pulling him back between some of the other guests.

“A word of advisssse, child.” Another sinta’s voice began. Alwin spun around on his heels to see that he had not been saved from the other unathi by one of his fathers as he had expected, but by a tall, stone-brown coloured unathi, standing proud with a large dorsal fin and dragon-like frills adorning his head. Alwin couldn’t claim to understand unathi beauty standards, but he was fairly certain this wasn’t it. “You might want to be more careful when treating with the Han’ssanss. That one in particular. Ackrozh is a belligerent sssinta. Sstrong warrior, jusst not good at diplomassy.”

Alwin nodded shakily, a little in shock after his first failed attempt at diplomacy himself. “Th-thank you, sir.”

“Of coursssse. Mou’ro’sau Kazhkz, a pleasssure.”

“Adalwin Von Roes. L-l-likewise.”

“Well young Adalwin. Perhapss you can ssshed ssome light on the wayss of thisss world. It iss all new to me.”

“It would be m-my pleasure, Lord Kazhkz.”

Alwin’s dream faded out, a new scene taking hold in its place.

A sixteen-year old Alwin was standing in the drawing room of his Goddess-mother’s home. The Baroness had offered to host, given the occasion was fitting of more than the living room in their family’s personal home. Alwin stood there, in his finest attire - A red and black two-piece suit, his jet-black hair neatly combed, his eyes trained forwards where the portrait artist their hostess had paid for was working. To his right stood Luke, dressed and groomed identically, yet somehow still maintaining his ever present slight-disorderly look. Flanking them were his Goddess-mother - Baroness Marie-Hélène Cere-Strelitz; Count Erland Strelitz - Whose life Alwin’s father had saved, earning him his new title; And his fathers. Aivar dressed in a white and red suit; The newly appointed Baronet Sören in his own brown and red three-piece, resting in his wooden wheelchair - The price he had paid for the Count’s life. And then in front of Alwin sat another: a girl a few years younger than Luke and him, dressed in a white, black and red dress in the classical Morozi fashion. Katherine Blanc, now Von Roes-Blanc, Sören’s new ward and Alwin’s step-sister.

Once again the dream shifts.

Now the age of 25, Alwin is once again in Baroness Cere-Strelitz’s drawing room. A brief respite from the party ongoing outside. Alwin sipped from his drink, sighing. He enjoyed these events and was glad his Goddess-mother offered to celebrate this occasion - Closing the case on the Communalists had been the first major achievement in his career - but he quickly found himself exhausted with all the attention on him. Speaking of which…

A woman approached Alwin, taller than him by a few inches - Primary born he guessed - and bowed briefly before him.

“Constable Von Roes, the man of the evening. I hope I am not intruding.” She smiled..

Alwin didn’t recognise the woman, yet her attire told him everything he needed to know. Red beret atop her long brown hair, red makeup across her blue eyes, red and gold cloak. A priestess of the Tribunal.

“Ah, not at all Priestess…”


Alwin nodded. “A pleasure, Priestess Merridus, I hope you are enjoying the festivities. Can I help you with anything?”

She nodded in response. “Perhaps. Or perhaps I can offer advice of my own. Tell me, do you believe you best serve Her will here, on Moroz, hunting heretics?”

“It is my duty as a Constable to root out the unfaithful wherever they may be found.”

“Of course. I simply wish to highlight an alternative; To spread Her influence beyond our borders, rather than to consolidate it within. I think perhaps it is something you should consider.”

“And are those your thoughts, Priestess, or the Tribunal’s?”

“Are they not one and the same, Constable?” She smiled again before adding. “That is all. I wish you a pleasant evening.” And with that she turned and left.

And again…

Three whistles. After two years aboard the OHLV Lightwatcher, Alwin knew perfectly well what that signaled. They were under attack. He flicked open the radio on his wrist, requesting a situation report from his superiors.

Reports of breaches, starboard side, near the chapel. He rushed off down the corridors of the Frigate. He arrived to find an engineer having already sealed the breach. Goddess bless their speed. He rushed past them into the onboard chapel, the priestess still inside.

“Ma’am. I would request you follow me to a safer part of the vessel until this engagement is over.”

“Of course. Lead the way, Officer.”

Alwin turned to lead the priestess out when the vessel shook as something impacted into the hull. Outside the chapel’s windows, Alwin saw a hole torn in the hull, a metal pod attached outside, a sole black-scaled Sinta emerging from inside. Alwin recognised the black, red and white livery she wore immediately - Hiskyn Revanchists. He drew his sabre, and rushed forward. Right now he was the only one between this unathi boarder and the priestess and engineer. 

She dodged his first thrust, and went for a weapon of her own. She had hardly grasped it, however, before Alwin’s second strike landed, a slashing movement straight across her neck. The sinta collapsed at his feet. Then he saw what she had grabbed. 

Not a sword, but a grenade.

A grenade with the pin now removed.

“Get ba-!” Was all he managed to yell before it detonated. He felt the fiery pain engulf him. He felt his right arm call out in agony. Then he felt it stop calling out. Then it all went black.

Alwin awoke in a cold sweat, the nightmares having only subsided as he came to from his slumber. He turned to sit on the bed frame, running a hand through his grease-ridden hair.

He was in Dominian space now - He had heard one of the guards mentioning such a day or so ago. Another day or two and they would land on Moroz. A day after that, he would have his trial.

That was his only plan. He knew he had no chance of overpowering the guards: There were more of them than there were of him, he had no equipment, no plan. And now, he was nearing the heart of the Empire. No, escape was impossible. Instead, he would plead his case before the Tribunal. Call on his long service and ask for mercy. Aivar might testify for him, being his only child left; He equally might testify against him, another Von Roes turned heretic. He doubted there was anyone else who would speak for him.

So that was all he had to try and save his life. His words.

And an unending desire to see himself free of this Empire once and for all.


Edited by Sparky_hotdog
Part 2!
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