The latest Shadows of the Apt short story is to be found here.

A lot of this batch of stories are, as you may have noticed, taking place specifically up in the Commonweal during the Twelve-years War with the Empire, a conflict over before Empire in Black and Gold starts, and taking place in lands that we're unlikely to actually see first hand for some time. So why?

Nothing in Empire makes sense without the Twelve-year war. Salma, for example, is a child of that war. He would have been around eight years old when it started. It dominated most of his life. His father and his foster-sister were both casualties of it, as were many other people he knew.

And then there's Thalric, whose duty committed him to atrocity in that same war, who was just a young officer when Myna was taken, but came out of the Commonweal clash a bloody-handed veteran.

But most importantly, there is the Empire. The Empire was already a great and accelerating force when it commenced its invasion of the Commonweal, but it was in its battles with the Dragonfly-kinden that it honed its skills, especially its new technologies. Those skills are now to be turned on Stenwold's people and the rest of the Lowlands.

And of course, it was a near thing, in the end, once Myna and its neighbouring cities were conquered. What a small change of strategy would have seen the imperial forces chasing Stenwold all the way back to Collegium seventeen years ago, rather than turning their attention north?

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