“Not yet, gimme time to think.”


She didn’t like the term ‘hero’.

She first started hearing it more and more frequently when she first went to Anvil — seemingly everyone was a hero there. ‘The heroes of the Empire’ went to battle. ‘The heroes of the Empire’ did this, or that, or sat on a bench, according to the Pledge. According to people on the roads, in the inns and taverns, a citizen could be a ‘Hero’ if they had ever gone to Anvil, like it conferred some mystical mark, like it made you wiser or more influential. She didn’t like the term being used, at least to her mind, like a catch-all for ‘someone who can tell you just how deep Anvil mud gets.’

To her, a hero was supposed to be a great figure, like in stories and songs. They were Paragons, Exemplars. They were Empresses, Generals, Cardinals, Archmages, Gatekeepers. (Senators… well, jury was still out. There were only a few there that she’d call ‘heroic’. )

There were some notable people who had done great things, things that improved or inspired the Empire. There were the heroes of battles, the ones who charged in (sensibly or otherwise), the heroes who snuck behind enemy lines to rescue the injured, those who pushed beyond fear and went on to do great things for the Empire, those people are heroes.  But that wasn’t everyone, and once upon a time, she had felt like it wasn’t such a bad thing to not be a hero.

So it sat like a pit of ice in her stomach when she started to recognise the look in the other captives’ eyes — the look of soldiers looking for orders from their captain. It wasn’t a discussion, ‘Okay, what do you all think we should do?’

She hadn’t known when, but at some point someone had recognised something — could have been the mask, which some of the Towerjacks would certainly recognise as being like General Gabriel’s mask, so that makes her a Barossa. Could have been… anything. At some point, someone had figured it out, told the others, and then 6 pairs of Imperial eyes had turned to her, asked her ‘What do you think we should do?’

In the back of her mind, she knew they only asked her because they, like everyone else in the Empire, would define her a hero because she knew how deep Anvil mud was.


“Barossa…. they’re coming back.”

“Okay. This is what we’re going to do…”


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