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As the Magistrate reformed under the leadership of House Aico, many around the Realm looked towards the Resistance and Valera for their next move. However, where they expected a voice to respond to them, silence was all they were met with. Valera was gone.
Ever since she learned of the future Atlas saw, Valera’s mind wouldn’t drift from concern. It was only Io that saved them as they nearly fell in conflict over the Shattered Desert. It was only Azaan who ensured Yagorath was sealed away once more. Time and time again, the Resistance rallied to fight for what she felt was right, and time and time again they barely survived, and never won.
In the wake of her own disillusion, her opposite Karne stepped away from the Magistrate. Her old friend, her war-torn adversary, felt he had failed the people he sought to serve. Had she not as well? Heroes of the past, nearly as faded as the banners they defended the Realm under. They both have lived long lives, fought so many battles that have endangered many beyond themselves. She couldn’t stomach it anymore.
As the new Magistrate spoke of peace and stability, Valera felt herself slowly missing the field. She had thoughts creeping into her mind, curiosities about events and places, past and future. This vision showed her what she wanted: Paladins, restored to glory and looked upon with hope, but without her at their command. So, she departed quietly one evening, with nothing but the wind in her wake.
Zhin, faced with a reality where Lian sits on the throne that was rightfully his, saw an opportunity in the power vacuum. He has built the Thousand Hands Guild as the opposite of House Aico, a power coming from the common people nobility cast aside. Reports began to come in from across the Realm: Magistrate soldiers are given more and more leeway in how they stomp out those who dissent. This reckless abandon for how her men act, it would be her undoing. A simple command was issued: All Guild members are permitted to attack Aico troops whenever they harm others. All a fire needs is a few sparks.
As conflicts rise, Vatu finds himself assigned to track down a Magistrate captain of particular infamy: targeting & oppression of Ska’drin mercilessly. He follows the captain, awaiting an opening on a night’s cargo line to strike. When the cart stops & his moment arrives: Vatu is caught aback as a blur appears between the two & strikes the captain in the nose, knocking him down.
It’s…a boy. Ska’drin and young. Guards begin to swarm and he prepares to intervene, yet the young one holds his own. He’s scrappy, undisciplined, but with potential. As Vatu watches, his eyes never leave the captain’s body. As the warrior leaves the guards unconscious, the Captain begins to pull out his firearm. In an instant, he launches himself between the boy & Captain, and swiftly puts an end to his harm of the Ska’drin people.
The boy would introduce himself as Talus, and speaks of his determination to fight for their people. Vatu can’t help but feel for him, and offers to watch over him and train his passion into progress. Afterwards, Vatu reports to Zhin his success, as well as the prowess Talus displayed. At this moment, Zhin sees the fruits of his scheme. A member of those scared into silence, rising up against the treachery the Magistrate abetted in broad daylight, heeding his call to fight back. An innocent and honorable face, opposite the blindness of Lian’s rule. This is how he would prove she was unfit, how he would ensure her undoing.
So, he went to work. Vatu would be the boy’s mentor, two Ska’drin side by side. The Thousand Hand would whisper across the Realm, spreading the word of Talus’ bravery, and the tragedy that came with it. Soon, sentiments spread and many members of the Resistance would rally behind their new symbol: a hope for a better future, a Realm welcoming to all. Such a large movement casts a wide shadow, one Zhin would be able to utilize as he pleases.
From the ashes of the Resistance rose another movement, with renewed purpose: freedom for all people to pursue their own futures and achieve their own dreams, not just with Crystals but their lives. This future ensured the allies the Resistance had remained around, and even brought new faces into the fold. Turns out many roguish hands would like to see the Magistrate fall, even if it means less coin.
However, while Zhin was finding his place in this new world, so was the Magistrate. Lian has been handed all she could want as Grand Magister, and with the arrival of Lilith she has more control at her disposal than ever before. The Abyss is a source of immense power, but one that can corrupt souls. What is Lian willing to sacrifice to see the Realm united under House Aico rule?
Unbeknownst to either side, Zhin and Lian were not the ones truly pulling the strings. Far above their conflict, a new Queen has taken her throne overseeing the Realm. Soon, they all would be her pawns.
Paladins Chronicles are short stories meant to enrich the world of Paladins & serve as context for future events. This is the first of a short series planned, please provide us your feedback on socials!