((The belated Wednesday Triple catch-up: page 3 of 3))
He’d suppressed violent rebellions without firing a shot. He’d not only turned his enemies from their cause, but won their loyalty, their respect.
He’d done all of that, yet here he sat. A prisoner. A failed revolutionary. On his way to Akagokai, the Red Cage, one of the most infamous prisons in the Higher West Layer. A miserable hole where they meant to keep him for the remainder of his life.
The fools. They knew not whom they had crossed.
But they would. One day, they would. Every betrayal, every suffered indignity, and every fallen comrade--Royo would not forget a single one.
But how had it all gone so wrong so quickly? He knew the answer to that, of course. He had scarcely thought of anything else during his confinement.
It was that stranger’s doing. The Foreigner. Everything had been proceeding in lockstep with the revolts in Acacero and Poppeyo until this treasure-hunting hysteria arrived. After that, it was like everyone had lost their minds. All sense of caution vanished in pursuit of some unknown fortune, and chaos upended the entire city.
And he had not been immune to it, either. Royo remembered winding his own men up over a few baseless rumors and leading them to their doom. His goals, forgotten. His small group of loyalists, captured or killed.
It made no sense at all. How could he have been so blind? So lacking in forethought?
In retrospect, he couldn’t have. Not without some kind of fell sorcery distorting his mind. The Foreigner had twisted his thoughts, somehow, along with all the rest of Babbadelo.
Yes, it sounded like a far-fetched and desperate excuse, but it was also the only explanation for something that was otherwise inexplicable. Why else could he not remember the Foreigner’s face? Royo was absolutely certain that he had spoken directly to him.