"Valerian Mengsk. There's a name that is synonymous with terror, betrayal and violence. A living example of the ends justifying the means. The assassin of The Empire's father as well as his own. A friend of the poor, commander of the unstoppable Clockwork Army, and the Usurper King. A savage barbarian who never let anything or anyone get in his way. And yet, he is charming, erudite and intelligent. When you're in his presence you feel that he's really listening to you, that your opinions matter, that you're someone important if you agree with him. It's amazing. I have often wondered if men like Mengsk don't carry around their own reality-warping bubbles, and all who fall in are suddenly transported to another dimension where the hellish things he says and does suddenly make sense. At least, that's the effect he always had on me."- Historian
Zero is known to the public about Valerian's childhood. This is because Arcturus was able to keep his son secret by sending him away. His existence wasn't revealed to the world until he was 13, but his revealing was met with fanfare at a large display at the Colosseum.
From a young age Valerian received the best education, learning everything from fighting, to history, to naval strategy, to ethics and philosophy, to endless genealogies, and much more.
One day he had a strange visitor. This Hobgoblin called himself Dr. Skelter and asked Valerian a lot of questions (see Helter Skelter for more info.).
When Valerian was 10 one of his professors, Dalton Kearn, came up to him. Dalton asked him if he wished to join a secret club. Intrigued Valerian inquired what the man meant. Dalton told him that if he could prove he could keep a secret, he would let him become a member of this secret group. Valerian said he would try and asked what the secret he had to keep was. Dalton told him that he would sneak him out a couple times a night and teach him how to use magic. Valerian's eyes grew wide. He learned about magic, but never learned how to use it. Dalton told him that if he could keep these escapades and his magical abilities that he was to learn a secret, he would know that he was good enough to join the group. Valerian excitedly agreed.
Dalton taught Valerian mainly two kinds of magic: conjuring magic, and the Azlanti's lost form of divination magic. Valerian became one of the only people in the world to learn of this rare form of magic and carry on it's legacy. While Dalton was teaching Valerian this magic, he would also tell him of the great Azlanti Empire - it's history, it's rise and fall, and how wonderful it was when it existed. He would tell Valerian to stand proud knowing that this great people's blood flowed through his veins. Over the years Valerian developed a strong sense of pride in his ancestry, and held a high regard for the old Azlanti Empire.
Valerian showed an aptitude for magic, and when he learned that it was possible to summon creatures he poured a lot of time and energy into learning how to do so. His favorite thing to summon was Hell Hounds, and he would summon them often. Not to fight or anything like that, but he would simply play with them. he was lonely, and they became his only friend. He got a special ring that would protect him from their flames, and in that he way he would enjoy their company.
Even after Valerian was moved back to Korhal and revealed to the world, Dalton would still find excuses to be alone with Valerian and teach him magic. When he turned 16 the day finally came. Dalton revealed to Valerian that he worked for a secret organization known as the N.I.C.E., and that they had seen a lot of potential in him and needed him to do something very important. All his training and lessons was so that he could help this organization could accomplish it's grand purpose - to rebuild the Azlanti Empire of old. Valerian readily agreed to this honor and demanded to become a full fledged member of the N.I.C.E. Dalton agreed that he was ready, and brought him to meet with the heads of the organization.
Frost and Wither met with Valerian and revealed to him their grand design. It would take years, many years before their dream could be fulfilled, but if Valerian was patient he could shape the world as they knew it! Valerian became a full-fledged member of the N.I.C.E.'s inner circle, and given a mark that signified this. The mark was a tattoo of a sun, the old Azlanti empire's symbol, on the palm of his hand. The tattoo was invisible, and that would only be visible while it was exposed to intense heat. Valerian became obsessed with his newly found life's goal. To raise that Ancient and fantastical empire, what a purpose! Valerian gave everything he had to it, and soon he was given an assignment that would change his life forever.
Night of Hell's Hounds
Dalton came to Valerian with a task from the Institute unlike any of the tasks he had been given before. He told Valerian that the time had come, he was to replace his father. In two weeks there was to be a meeting of all the most important people to Arcturus' regime. Dalton told him where and when it was to take place, and gave Valerian his orders. He was to kill everyone at that meeting. When Valerian asked how he was to do this Dalton told him, "Why do you think we taught you all that magic, so that you can play duck duck goose with Hell Hounds?"
When the time came Valerian prepared himself, and went down a section that was closed for renovation, and he heard whispering. The information was correct, the meeting was happening just as he was told. Valerian went over to the room where the meeting was being held and listening at the door, he heard the people in this meeting discussing the people of The Empire as if they were tools to be used, burdens to overcome, fodder for their goals. Valerian was shaken, for he recognized almost all the voices in that room. They belonged to all his mentors, and his father's cabinet. Valerian didn't know what to do, he didn't know the corruption had spread this far into the fruit, as to begin to turn the pit. Then he heard an all too familiar voice speaking. "I will not be stopped. Not by you, or the Orcs, or the people of this Empire, or anyone! I will rule this world or see it burnt to ashes around me." The voice belonged to his father. Valerian relived all the moments of when his father spoke to him about 'caring for the people' and 'being a kind and loving ruler.' All lies. Every moment he relived was another moment of realization that his father only ever said and did what he thought others needed to hear for them to do what he wanted them to do for his own ends. Overcome with a passionate anger Valerian's heart turned, this wasn't business anymore, this just got personal - and he was about to show just how personal business can get.He summoned his hounds to slaughter them. Letting them go free into the room with no restrictions, the hounds of hell tore the people in that room into violent ribbons. Listening to the whole thing shook Valerian, but not as much as what was to happen next. One of the men managed to escape the room, and fled into Valerian! Valerian didn't have time to think, only react. He grabbed the man and forced him on the ground. What transpired next can only be described as brutal pugilism. In a few short moments that felt like minutes, Valerian brutally fought and quenched the life out of the man. All his training had come to bear, and he for the first time saw that the was a force to be reckoned with.
Then he heard something come crashing to the floor. Still straddling the man he killed he looked up to see a servant knocked to the floor, and Arcturus running down the hall, stopping only for a moment to stare into Valerian's eyes. No, this wasn't supposed to happen! Arcturus was to be killed! Now he was gone, and he knew Valerian did this! This event threw everything into chaos for the prince. He realized he was still on the now dead man, and got off of him. He picked himself up and walked over to the room. Putting his hand on the handle he pushed it forward, opening the door.
All that was left was meat - red meat. Nothing resembling a person or even an animal was left, only meat. He had to act quickly. He dispatched the hounds, who were gnawing on their freshly killed game, and quickly left the palace. He knew he wouldn't have time to get to his room to pack, would he even have time to get a horse? It didn't matter, without one he'd be caught in no time flat, he had to risk it. He went to the stables of the palace and calmly, trying to hide the blood on his clothes, got a horse prepared for him. Mounting it he rode it hard out of the palace, not even looking back once. Just like that, he had left his life behind, gone from being a prince to a wanted criminal. What was to happen now, he knew not. What happened to people who failed the Institute? Running is all he knew now, he had to run, the rest he could figure out later. He just had to run.
Capture and Holding
Valerian knew he was going to be hunted, and he was right. Arcturus immediately sent out a special hunting party. There were no mercs among the group, but instead it's members were handpicked by the emperor himself and were given specific orders to bring Valerian in alive and as unharmed if possible. But whatever they had to do to capture him, they were authorized to do.Valerian ran away to the South. He didn't stop, except to forage for food, for he had no money with him to buy anything. It was then that his lessons of his childhood came into play again. As he traveled he had nothing, except time - time to think about what his next move was. It was obvious to him that his father was a fraud, and as soon as his father realized he knew that, his father would kill him. "Heck even know he's probably given his men orders to kill me on site, this man has no love in his heart, even for his family, there's not enough room in his heart, it's too filled with love of self. Did he even love his mother?" Valerian thought. After a lot of soul searching Valerian decided to go to Winterhaven and hide out there. He knew there was a large slave trade there, and thus would be able to hide among the slavers.
During his travel to Winterhaven, he was able to finally come to his inevitable conclusion. He must replace his father, and soon if he was to curry favor with those who he failed. And the only way that man would come off the throne, was if his head was forced to come off, so that his remaining body could be pushed off. But Valerian had no time to come up with plans on how to do this, as his hunters found him out. After a short horse chase south of the town, Valerian found himself surrounded, with nothing but his dead horse and his wits. Smiling Valerian knew he wouldn't be alone long, as he summoned his fiery friends to help him slay his enemies. Things did not go as planned. These were not hapless victims, meeting in a room, these were seasoned warriors, the best of the best. The battle was exciting and causality ridden, and in the end left a wounded and out of magic Valerian. He was shackled and brought back into the city to be held prisoner while his captors sent back word of their victory and awaited further orders from their benevolent leader.
In order to hide Valerian's betrayal from the people he was forced to wear a mask during his time as prisoner, and was given a new name, Guy Montag. Valerian laughed to himself when he heard that name, he knew his father must of come up with it as it was the name of one of his favorite characters from a novel he read when he was younger.
After receiving word of his son's capture Arcturus immediately dawned a disguise went to go see his son, not wanting people to see him leave and wonder why the emperor was leaving in such a rush. Meeting with Valerian his father had his masked raised so he could see his son's face and asked why he would do such a thing, and why he'd run. Valerian responded, "I renounce you oh father. I renounce you and everything you stand for. You want me to become my own man? Well here I am. Tell me father are you proud of me? I've found a cause and stood up for it, just as you once have. Except the cause I pick up is that of the people, not that of myself."Arcturus remained calm, "Son you have no clue what I've done for the people, how I've sacrificed for them. This whole empire started as a revolution for the people that you speak so highly..." Valerian cut him off, "Silence! Enough with your lies! You may be able to fool your friends, your subjects, and even the whole world. I wonder did you even lie to my mother, your wife? But I see right through you. I was there father, at the meeting. I heard what you had to say, that you'd watch the whole world burn around you before you'd give up your power. We'll hear me oh emperor, you may just get your wish. I will succeed you, and you will not live to see it. I will give the people the emperor they deserve - no matter the cost."
Arcturus stared at his son, uncharacteristically saying nothing. "What's the matter, Arcturus? No glib remark? No pithy comeback?" came Valerian, childishly uncomfortable by the silence. Arcturus responded dryly, "You were not ready to come out into the world, you're still a child. What a waist, loosing you is really going to set my plans back a few years. My son has died today, too weak to survive, if only he was strong enough to put away his childish ideals and take his place by his father's side - to do what was necessary. Put the mask back down, after today no one will ever look on the face of Valerian Mengsk again. He is to wear that mask permanently," emphasizing the world 'permanently' was the only fluctuation in Arcturus' voice in the entire conversation.
Valerian responded, "In that you are right father, for Valerian Mengsk is dead, he died with his childlike innocence and grand hopes for a world without corruption and father who loved him. And like a phoenix, born out of the ashes Guy Montag comes into existence. And he counts the days until he can, like the phoenix, also turn to ash and let Valerian rise up once again. Only the ashes he rises up from, will be yours."
With that Guy Montag was born.
Arcturus ordered that Guy be held there until a time that a carriage came to pick him up. Arcturus returned to his palace in Korhal and made preparations for his son's transport to prison. Something inside Mengsk, maybe the last visage of humanity left in his cold dark heart, couldn't put his own son to death, so he would have him spend life in prison instead. He knew his son though, and knew he would attempt to escape, he had something more powerful than tools to take of the manacles. He had drive and ambition, and as Arcturus knew best out of anyone in the whole world, those tools were powerful enough. So he had a special carriage designed to restrict Guy's powers and abilities, and set up a special Task Force to escort Guy to prison. With these two things in place Arcturus was confident his chapter would come to a close. He was wrong.
See Task Force for more information.
During his escape from the prisoner's carriage, something curious happened. A Catfolk, a common Catfolk girl grabbed something of his, a piece of his heart. No, she was no common Catfolk girl, she was something else, something special. What it was, or why this girl had such an effect on him, Guy couldn't understand (for he had never experienced love before, and was completely ignorant to it's effects). He didn't know why he felt the desire to spare her and her friends. Yet he did, he spared them. It worked out well for him, for he was able to turn them from working for his father to working against him.
He told them to meet him in Korhal, and from there he would give them the next part of the plan. Truth was he needed the time to come up with one. All the time he was locked up he spent planning for his escape, but now his planning mind was shifted to figuring out how to go about the overthrowing of his father and accomplish the mission given to him by the Institute . But something interfered with his planning - something kept popping into his mind as he tried to plan. Well not a something so much as a someone: Mana, the Catfolk girl with whom he had become so infatuated with. Guy decided to do something, something risky, something foolish, but he had to. He had to go see her again, before they left. But he knew he couldn't, it wouldn't be wise. What Guy didn't realize was that he couldn't not go see her. Eventually he gave in, played a dangerous game by taking of the mask so that she wouldn't recognize him, but risking being recognized by others. During The Empire's anniversary celebration, he danced with her... and he kissed her. He didn't mean to, he was only to dance with her for a few moments than leave before she realized who he was, but things... things just didn't go as he planned. He saw her in that fire light, dancing with her, holding her, looking at those lips, looking at those eyes; the kiss just... happened. Involuntary he heard the word 'strawberries' come out of his mouth as he tasted her, and at that moment Guy experienced something - peace. A single moment of peace. Mana opened her mouth to say something and he stopped her. He just wanted to drink in the moment. Enjoy it he did, if only for a few brief moments. He had gone too far, things had gone on too long. He was only supposed to dance with her for a few moments. Reason came flooding back into his mind, and he let her go and hid himself into the crowd. It was his first kiss, and it was more than he had ever expected. From that moment on he knew he couldn't just let them go off to Korhal by themselves, he had to make sure they made it safely north - make sure she made it safely north.
After sending her some strawberries, a way of saying I'm thinking about you without her knowing who, but still knowing who, he followed them North. The winter was harsh and the party began to have trouble traveling through a snowstorm. He was fine however, as he had his pets to keep him warm, and could bury his face in their fiery fur, and let their flaming tongues of fire lick around him. He kept trying to plan for his father's upheaval, but he kept thinking about her, about Mana. One night he stayed up late into the night, or should I say early into the morning thinking about her, trying to figure out what was going on inside him, why he was feeling these feelings. After Guy saw that the party had a safe means of getting to Korhal, he traveled there ahead of them to be sure they could find a safe place to stay. When he woke up the next day, the most miserable thing happened. He found Mana's frozen corpse. He quickly went into survival mode and checked on the rest of the group, without them his task would be harder. Only Nero was alive, and just barley. Guy grabbed him and Mana's corpse, and took them north himself, on his hound's backs. He cried that night. Not even the driving snow could stop his tears - they could only freeze them.After getting to Korhal, Guy bought a plot of land and personally buried her in an unmarked grave. As a prince he rarely had to do any manual labor himself, but he had been getting his hands dirty a lot lately. He visited it frequently, taking care of the strawberry plant he planted on her grave. He felt... responsible for her death. If he wasn't so foolishly letting his emotions get in his way, he wouldn't of been up so late, and would of woken up earlier, early enough to warm her up and stop her from freezing to death. It was the first time his emotions ever overwhelmed his logic, and he hated the result. He vowed that it would never happen again.
Guy set up a safe-house of sorts for everyone to stay in and then spent the coming weeks planning, but not just how to overthrow his father, but also how to go about interacting with Mana. He settled on an idea, a way to try and impress her. He decided to go to the next slave auction and a buy a Catfolk slave, and free him there on the spot. He wasn't entirely sure why or what that was to accomplish. Perhaps it was just a way to show Mana he cared about her and her people's plight. Perhaps it was just a way to honor her memory, for he didn't know how else to. - he realized he actually knew very little about her. Wait, was she ever a slave? She had to be right? He realized he actually knew very little about her. Cursing himself for the whole situation he made good on his plan, and freed the first Catfolk that fit his fancy, but something unexpected happened. This Catfolk, wanted to stay with him.}}
Seth, as the Catfolk's name was, wanted of all things to stay with him. Guy decided to free this Catfolk, not just on paper but in every way possible. He wanted to give his Cat his total freedom, so he did. He never denied a request of the Catfolk, when it came to what he wanted to do. Why Guy gave Seth this power over him is unclear, maybe it was out of some misplaced recompense for Mana. Regardless, as a result of this freedom Guy found Seth hanging around him often, and wanting to talk. Even though Guy personally hated these discussion with Seth, as they would always break down in yelling matches, he continued to have them, feeling obligated to let Seth have whatever he wanted. He was after all a free Cat. In this way, he would Seth would end up being his confidant.
Guy provided him with whatever he asked for, and in return found that Seth would often do him favors. When ever Guy needed someone to do a job for him he would ask, asking was a characteristic uncommon to Guy, and Seth would always oblige. At one point Seth told him to stop asking, and just tell him what to do and he'd do it, he said he was used to getting orders. Guy continued to ask (see Seth for more info.).
Guy continued leaving strawberries on her grave, even after he became emperor. Even if it was driving rain, or freezing cold he would make the trip and visit her. Sometimes during the winter he would just sit there and watch as the strawberries he brought would freeze on top of her grave.
- ''I remember the first time that I realized my little boy was all grown up. I saw him all dressed up in his uniform and there he was. You know, this stunning young man with this one wild lock of hair fallen in front of his face and it was really amazing. I was so proud, and knew that he would grow up to do great things."' - Juliana Mengsk on her son
After arriving at Korhal, Guy brought Nero to a local inn. Right now Nero was his only ally, and Guy knew the man, how could he ever forget. He had allied with his mother's murderer, and couldn't stand it. With every passing moment looking at this passed out figure Guy wanted to choke the life out of him, and give his hell hounds some supper. But he set his feelings aside to get the job done, like he had done so many times before, and would have to do so many times again. He left Nero with plans to find him again. He had to take care of some things first, he needed to take care of Mana's body, and needed time to plan. But when he was done he would find Nero and begin to put his plan into action.
As luck would have it, he didn't have to plan at all. Guy walked by a pauper, throwing a few copper in his hat the pauper looked up and said, "Thank you ... Valerian." Valerian stopped in his tracks, he turned around and saw the pauper stand up. He motioned to Guy to follow him and the two entered a unoccupied building. There the pauper revealed that he was apart of the Institute and that the Institute was pleased with him. This came as a surprise to Guy. "Pleased? But I failed!" The pauper told Valerian that though things could have gone better, Valerian had still put the Institute in a very good position, and not all was lost. Valerian was told of how he was going to overthrow his father. The pauper told Guy that the Institute would be in touch, but the first thing he was to do was to gain a few people to his side that he knew he could trust would do whatever he wanted. Valerian knew exactly where to start.
He found the party/Nero at the Hattori Mansion. Using his powers of manipulation, he found a way to secure Nero's new friends' help. He used their love for their father, to fuel their hate for his. He told them he would find their parent's murderer and give him over to them if only they would help him. They agreed, and Guy was not foolish enough to think this accord would last on it's own merit. Over the coming year he would subtly plant in their heads ideas of how unhappy people were with Arcturus, and how corrupt and evil, and worth supplanting he was. It worked, they followed him, and did his bidding and put their all into the overthrow of Arcturus Mengsk. That was all Guy needed.
Some of the party stayed with Guy at his safe-house, and others stayed at the Hattori Mansion. In this way there would always be a back-up place to retreat to if one of them were found out. Guy was pleased with his new allies with one exception - he had allied with his mother's murderer, and couldn't stand it. With every passing moment looking at Nero Guy wanted to choke the life out of him, and give his hell hounds some supper. But his feelings of anger stepped aside whenever he saw Mana's face - after all he was her friend. It is this fact that is the only reason Nero continued to draw breath.
A contact from the Institute gave him the next part of the plan. He was to find and interrogate a man named Friedrich Yahn - his work with the Empire involved some new military technology. Guy's orders were to find out everything he could about this new technology. Guy captured and interrogated Friedrich Yahn and what he found out was beyond his imaginings. The Empire was building a army of fearless soldiers. Soldiers that had no fear and could be replaced as quickly as they were taken. He learned from Yahn that they were controlled by a special scroll. After informing the Institute of this they told him to replace the current control scroll, with a special control scroll that they created that would force the Clockwork army to follow Guy's commands instead of his father's. He had the party deliver it to the factory, and install it.
After that was finished the Institute informed him of the next part of their plan. they gave Guy a plague vile and told him to release it in order to distract the administration of The Empire. He had the party deliver the plague and release it up north in the nearby town of Mountain Creek.
The next part of the plan the Institute shared with him was to help the Horde begin to win so that Arcturus's precious Undead Dragon Riders would be occupied, as it would take a long time for Arcturus to redistribute his armies from the other fronts so he would send his Dragons in as a temporary solution. They gave him a recipe of how to form a Regenerator (a powerful and unstoppable creature with outstanding regenerative capabilities), and told him where to find the ingredients to make the beast. Guy had the party deliver the recipe and supply the ingredients to the Horde.
While all this happened the Institute used it's massive infrastructure to plan riots, culminating in a massive timed riot. The effect was a week of riots leading up to The Empire's anniversary, that The Empire were busy trying to quell. The Institute informed Guy that on The Empire's anniversary he was to storm the Palace and that he would have sufficient back up provided to him. Guy asked how, but was told to trust them, so he did. They gave him one last piece of instruction telling him that after his father had been killed, he was to shoot off a flare into the sky. They told him that no one from his father's old regime was to survive. Guy was to kill all of them, leaving no survivors.On The Empire's anniversary, one year from Guy's escape, at high noon while The Empire was distracted taking care of the plague, Horde's progression, and attempting to quell the riots, suddenly the people stopped fighting each other, and turned to face the palace. They all dawned masks similar to Guy's and charged the palace. By themselves the palace would of held, but when the guards heard the loud clanging and whirring of gears suddenly they were frightened as large beasts made of machine worked their way through the crowd and broke the gates down. An army of Clockwork stormed the palace along with the people, and along with Guy and his team.
With Guy leading them and knowing the ins and outs of the palace, he led them straight to the throne room, where he confronted his father. "What are you doing my son?" Arcturus asked surprisingly. Guy had only three words in response, "Succeeding you, father." Arcturus was surprised for only a few moments more, then Arcturus dropped the act and smiled, "You think I'd let an animal like you close to me without an insurance policy?" With that Guy's heart sunk. How did his father know he was coming, everything had been so well planned and orchestrated, how did he know?! Guy didn't have time to think as a dragon loomed into view, flying in the window. But there was no turning back, it'd be now or never. One Mengsk was going to die in that room, and he was going to make damn sure it wasn't him.
The battle was rough, and bloody. But in the end Guy was right, there was only one Mengsk left standing, and it was him. He drank in the moment, but only for a moment, for he still had work to do. He went to the window and shot out a flare, it ended up being a sign to stop the riots, and that he had won. He went through the palace and gathered up many of the most important people into a room. There he declared his new position as Emperor and went uncontested.
- "You made yourself into a monster Valerian!"
- "No you made us all into monsters." - Arcturus and Valerian share their last words together.
Over the next few weeks Valerian commenced with a bloody coup. He killed man after man after man who worked for his father. Though it was an order, Valerian found himself wanting to kill them. He wanted no one left who was part of the old corrupt leadership, he wouldn't let them have this empire any longer, in the end there were almost no survivors of the old regime. One of the people who did survive was Duran. Valerian wanted to kill him but his interactions with Seth taught him that a dissenting opinion was valuable to keep around (see Samir Duran for more info.).
The Institute informed Guy that he needed to appear loving, and gave him various tasks he could do to garner the favor of the people. He cleaned house, ridding the palace of it's excesses and vanities, dismantling the harems and redistributing the egregious amount of food that was set for only so few people.
Valerian announced to the public that his father was dead and that he had taken the throne, at an event held at the Colosseum. Valerian learned well from his father, and shrewdly was able to carry out his orders. He gained the people's favor by painting Arcturus' reign as a failure, and that in one day Valerian had succeeded where his father had failed, that he could secure their safety, and their futures. He said that the Orcs were already being pushed back by the Clockworks (taking credit for their existence). He said that he would focus on the people, and that his first step was to make sure that everyone in The Empire would have food. As a sign of his commitment he swore to eat only bread and water until every single person in the capital had food and drink to spare (see The Empire for more info.).
He was met with rigorous applause and the reign of Valerian Mengsk began, as Guy Montag faded into obscurity.
Valerian was 25 when he took the throne. He appointed those who had helped him come to power to positions within the government:
Kanto Nightshade - Adviser
Nero Sparda - Mana's Guard (at her request)
Hanzo Hattori - Shadow Ops
(Lee Sin and Kanna Zoi died during the battle of thrones, and Sy Hattori did not want any position)
Valerian's reign has been/was short but tranquil. It was not known as a time of peace in the sense that there were no wars, as there was still war to the West, and different campaigns as The Empire continued to spread, but life in The Empire improved drastically. Though it was designed by the Institute that Valerian appeared to be a man of the people, he found himself actually caring about his people, and it showed even in his dealings with the plague. He didn't just ship people off to a quarantined zone to die, but actually gave them supplies to make the remainder of their lives as good as it could be under the circumstances. He spent his time helping the people, and as feared as his father was, Valerian was loved.
- "The days of military oppression, forced labor, and unlawful conscription are coming to an end. I have already begun establishing new regulations and limitations for the senate to weed out corruption and ensure that it stands as a clear and unwavering voice of the people. Our military will be re-purposed to protect the people instead of proscribing them.This new order of rule, this new Empire, shall be maintained by liberty and justice to the citizens of mankind, those courageous pioneers who have fought through horrors unimaginable to become stewards of this distant end of the world. Never again will fear, greed, or alien threats force us from our rightful place in this land, or from the sacred human desire for freedom." - Valerian Mengsk addressing thousands at the Colosseum
The Institute gave him many tasks to do, and with his new position of emperor he was now more able to help them more than ever. The whole time he served them willingly, wanting one day to see the rise of the old Azlanti Empire. But that all ended in the blink of an eye. At some point within his first year of reign the Institute just stopped contacting him. Valerian later explored what had happened by sending Hanzo Hattori to the Institute, to find out the entire Institute had drastically changed it's methods and behavior and literally did not care about Valerian anymore. Valerian was actually relieved.
The Love that Cost an Empire it's Worship
- "I know you mean what you say, but you don't always say what you think. You keep almost everything of what goes on inside you close to your chest, and you don't let anyone see what you're thinking unless you want them to. All right then, you must want her to know what you're thinking, because she seems to know you better than most of us."- Duran on Guy's relationships with Mana
There was really only one thing that Valerian did that was universally disliked, and If he had not done so much good already, and continued to do so much after, it may have very well cost him his seat.
One day Valerian made a decree that only Baphomet was to be worshiped, and that no other god could be worshiped within the lands of The Empire. All old temples were either to be re-purposed or closed. He would not force those who did not desire to worship Baphomet to do so, but only those that did would have any religious rights. His reasoning was that it would be one of the only ways to foster fear in the Orcs, and that no one would want to touch The Empire if they had that god on their side.
The real reason was something far more selfish. All that Valerian had did in his life, nearly every major act was for others. He was willing to bleed and die for the people. But this, this one thing he had to do, this one selfish act he must have. He must have Mana back. She plagued him. He would see her. Standing in a crowd, looking at him, he would close his eyes to sleep at night and see her face. He couldn't get her out of his mind. He needed to have her back, he needed to have the only person he ever loved. Though great pains, Valerian used forbidden magic to learn where she was in the afterlife and which god had claim to her soul. The ritual cost him part of himself, and was said to take a year off of a man's life. He didn't care. But what he found surprised him. Mana served Baphomet? Baphomet of all gods? But she was so sweet, so kind, so gentle, how could she worship the god of chaos? It didn't matter, he must have her. Using the information he gathered through the use of the forbidden magic he traveled to Baphomet's temple. It was risky, going into the temple of a god and summoning him would be dangerous. He could very well get killed, and his death would throw tens of thousands of people's future into jeopardy. It didn't matter, Mana was in the clutches of a vile god, and he had to rescue her. If not only to be with her again, but to save her from the terrible afterlife Baphomet must be giving her. She deserved better.
Arriving he forced a servant of Baphomet to summon the god. Baphomet was not pleased to be forcefully summoned. Seeing Guy he gave him a minute to explain himself before he would be destroyed. Guy struck a bargain, a nation's, nay the biggest nation's worship, for the life of one Catfolk girl. Guy knew that gods feed off of the worship they get from others, and the worship of so many would be irresistible. Baphomet agreed. Guy was no fool though, he made sure even in this, to protect his people. He made Baphomet swear that if his armies ever walk this earth again, they would spare all within Korhal's walls. And with that Mana was returned to this world, and Guy carried her off back to Korhal. He was almost overcome with emotion as he stared at her in his lap. As he petted her head he saw her going the rigors of resurrection sickness. He kept telling her it was okay, that he was here now.
The Institute was not pleased, they did not tell him to do this, and Valerian did not ask the Institute for permission or even inform them of it. They confronted him and he showed no remorse. This marked the point where the Institute began to be weary of Valerian.
Mana's return had a higher price than Valerian had first expected, for she did not stay long with him. She didn't take to palace life very well, and when she found out Nero was going to the South to help his friends, she wanted to tag along. With a heavy heart Valerian let her, having spent only a few weeks with her. Valerian made the second selfish decision in his life. He went with her. He declared to the people that he was going South to explore the lands to the South and make new allies and foster new and good relationships. He lied, he went only to be with the woman he loved.
Again the Institute was not pleased, just as with his decision to make Baphomet the official god of the empire, Valerian completely left them out of the decision. The Institute made it clear that they were loosing their trust in Valerian, and they were quickly figuring out the real reason he was doing these things. He found a goal more important to him than that of the Institute - to be with and love Mana.
Helping Mana's friend, his mother's murderer, with his goal Valerian retook the name Guy to hide his identity. He ventured to the South and helped as much as he could, but when an opportunity came to help the people of The Empire, he couldn't refuse it. He found the Southern Islands and saw the massive benefit owning them would have on The Empire. One could always acquire them through war, but Guy hatched another plan. What if he could kill the leadership, and throw the place into chaos. Then The Empire could come in under the guise of helping to quell the rising storm and bring order. Before everyone knew it, The Empire would have sufficient military might on the ground to simply annex the islands without much struggle. If it worked it would save thousands of lives of people who would otherwise die in a messy invasion.
The CoinWhen Guy buried Mana, he found on her person a coin. It was a rather unique coin. It was double-sided, with one side scratched out. You see Mana changed Valerian. His whole life was one big example of the ends justify the means. But he knew how... good Mana was. That she would never subscribe to such a way of thinking, that she would tell him he could find a better way, that there's always a better way. So when time came to make a decision for a good reason, but required a terrible action he would flip the coin. Heads he would do what he thought she would want him to do, and tails he would do what he felt was necessary. During their travels in the South Mana noticed that he would flip it, and she recognized the coin. Asking him about it he handed it to her and told her why he flipped it. She asked him something he would never forget, "Why don't you just always choose what you think I'd do?" He had no answer for her. He took the coin back, he had come to need it. One wonders which he thought he needed more, the coin or her.
But Guy should have listened to her, he should have started to make decisions based off of what was right, not based off of the flip of the coin. For he was about to make arguably the biggest mistake of his life, and he decided it on the flip of coin. And it came up bad.
- "Tell me, how does it feel to be mortal?" - Guy Montag
He kidnapped the governor of the islands and his daughter. Forcing him to give him a boat, Guy let his daughter go free but killed the man himself. Now all Guy had to do was wait for the chaos to ensue, then he would come in with The Empire's forces and be hailed as a savior. Guy went down into the ship to talk to Mana, who he knew would be upset with him. It was the last he saw of her.
He came to his senses in the water, debris was around him and he could hear nothing but the sound of water and fire. The ship had been rigged to blow, Guy had made a mistake along the way, someone saw him kidnap the governor. His first thought went to Mana, and he began shouting for her with a guttural yell. He swam around looking for her, and he summoned flying creatures to search for her, but she was not to be found. Mana was no more, there wasn't even enough left of her to bury. Guy was destroyed. He was so distraught he didn't even realize that half of his face was disfigured by the blast. The ones who rigged the boat came and picked him and the other survivors (Nero and Hanzo) up, and Guy fought back not. He just stared into the void overcome with having been the reason she died. Again she died, and again it was his fault. He didn't know what to do and was as a zombie, just shuffling around doing whatever he was told as he contemplated his loss and his part to play in it. He wanted to die.
When he was being taken to 'the gallows', as it were, he had come up with a plan. He would survive, and he would find Mana. No, he couldn't. She made him tell her, she made him promise to let her rest in peace when she died again. She didn't want to be returned to life. All Guy wanted was her, that's all he wanted in the whole wide world, and he couldn't have her. Even when he got her back he barley was able to spend time with her, and lost her so fast. Sure he had wanted to spend time with her, but he didn't want to force himself on Mana. He wanted her to choose him, not feel obligated to be with him against her will because he resurrected her, so he took things slow. Indeed he even held back from her the exact way in which he resurrected her, even though she asked many times, in order to avoid weighing her down with guilt at the price it cost.
If he couldn't bring her to him, he could still go to her right? Yes, yes, that's what he'd do. He'd find out where she was and he'd find a way to go be with her. He'd employ every thing in his power to be with her again - no matter the cost.
- "We're just a bunch of good people, doing bad things, due to circumstance." - Guy Montag
But it was not to be. All his attempts to buy time before his people would come and free him were fruitless and he was hurled off of a cliff as a death sentence. As he fell he held onto the coin which had affected him so. He thought his whole life was just one big flip of the coin, and he always ended scratched side up. He laughed to himself and wondered which side would end facing up when he hit the cliff, his good side, or his scratched side.
He let all those thoughts wash away as he closed his eyes and listened to her. He remembered her song, the one she sang to him to calm him down that one night. He listened to her lullaby as he vanished from this world, and entered the next.
See The Empire for more Information.
"I'd watch the world burn to ashes, if it meant Mana and I were still around to walk on them." - Valerian Mengsk
Valerian's whole life had been lived for the purpose shown to him by the Institute, to bring back the ancient Azlanti Kingdom of yore. But with them gone, and him together with Mana he changed, he gained a new purpose - to always be with her and make her happy. At first this sounds like a good thing, but Guy's nature twisted even this. Guy was so dedicated to her that he was willing to do literally anything to achieve being with her, and he was a man of great influence and power (see Mana Evergreen for more info.).
The two got married soon after Valerian took power. It was a wonderful, though not overproduced affair, as Valerian knew she would not like that. Friends attended including the ones who helped him gain power, Alan Schezar even played the piano for the service. Valerian gave Mana a special wedding ring that, like his own, protected her from fire telling her that he never wanted her afraid that anything he'd do would hurt her (as he often liked to summon Hell Hounds).
Some looked down on the marriage out of bigotry and because they knew what this was to mean, and they were right. During the second year of Valerian's reign together they abolished slavery of all kinds, though it was no mystery that it was the Catfolk who made up the vast majority of slaves. This garnered a great-deal of good will between the Catfolks and the imperial couple, but had the opposite effect on those whose pockets got lighter due to the new law. This was minimized though as Valerian had done many things to mitigate the inevitable blow-back over the past year, and is in fact why he didn't free the slaves day one of being married to Mana. This cause friction between the two but Valerian promised Mana that this way would be the best for both his reign, The Empire as a whole, and most of all for the Catfolk themselves. If they were to be freed all those who saw it as their property being stolen from them would treat the freed Catfolk with such disdain that they would have been severely abused and mistreated for long after their freeing. Mana trusted Guy but did not like the truth.
Over the year Valerian was able to plan it out in such a way as to mitigate all these repercussion. One of the things he did was to set up a fund that reimbursed every slave owner 80% of the value of their slaves. Another thing Valerian did was to give all Catfolk who had been alive during The Empire's taking of their nation instant citizenship. Valerian did many other things to make the freeing of the Catfolks as smooth as possible and Valerian's planning had the desired effect and while bigotry will never be gone, Catfolk are miles ahead of where they would have been, and enjoy, in eyes of the law anyway, the same rights and freedoms as any other imperial resident.
Valerian protects his most valued treasure very well. He set a guard, one even better than his own, to guard her day and night. Valerian used his clockwork to great effect, as he could absolutely trust them, and didn't have to worry about them keeping their mouth shut if anything happened around Mana that was sensitive whether politically in nature or regarding matters of decency. He also has a few very trusted men assigned to her as well. Though this is a constant source of tension between the two as Mana wants less and less protection and Guy more and more. The guard itself doesn't even bother her much, but she worries about those she wishes to interact with being scared by her guard, especially since she visits children so often.
As mentioned earlier Valerian would do anything for Mana, the ends of her safety and their being together would justify literally any means to Valerian. The only other thing that justifies any means, is the ends of making Mana happy. Mana, being one of if not the only truly good person in this world, has told Valerian that all she wants is a world of hope and unity. So Valerian is doing everything within his considerable power to do this for her. Though her influence on him as him not expending every mean available to him because she constantly shows concern over not only what Valerian does, but how he does it. When Valerian expressed to her how difficult he found it to do things 'rightly' she told him that before he would do something he's not sure of to simply ask himself, "What would Mana do in this situation. Would she be happy if I did this or that." That way he would never have to worry about doing the wrong thing and hurting one person to make another happy. Valerian often does this and this holds him back from being the brutal man he could very well be.
The two are madly in love and often talk about how they wish they didn't have to rule, and could just be with each other. Not letting something as trivial as the rule of an entire nation get in their way, the two early on in their marriage promised each other that not a time would go by where the sun would rise and two hadn't seen each other at least once that day. It is very rare for the two not to begin and end their day together in their own bed at the Palace.
Truth be told Valerian never truly believed her, never believed Mana that he wasn't a monster. He felt that whatever good she saw in him was a mere reflection of herself, like looking into a mirror. Whatever good Guy did was because of her, and he knew that without her he would become the worst monster the world had ever known. This had him protect her even more.
Valerian had long been trying to get out of the thumb of this deal he had inherited from his father. He had to honor an agreement to provide the lich Anub'rekhan with bodies from The Empire in exchange for the undead dragon rider's services. Very carefully, and in secret, Valerian learned all he could about the person he was in league with. He assigned Alexandra Mahone to the task of finding a good way to attack the Lich if it were to come down to it. Valerian had Yi Suchong develop a clockwork dragon in order that they might maintain air dominance after their deal with the Lich was terminated. In the 10th year of his reign, at the age of 35, Valerian finally succeeded on breaking the deal, but not exactly as he had expected. He was visited by a self-proclaimed prophet giving him a way to kill the Lich (see Man in the White Suit for more info.). This prophet's word proved to be true. Three men came to him, and one claimed to be from another world. They brought to him a scroll that had the locations of the Lich's castle, and his dragons' nests. Valerian gave the prophet's word a second shot since his first words proved true.
Valerian hired a good deal of mercenaries, under shell identities that did not tie back to The Empire, to attack the Lich's castle in order to get the Lich to recall all his dragons to himself to protect his person. While the dragons were distracted at the Castle, he sent the party that had brought him the scroll to go to the dragons' nests and destroy some of the eggs there. He sent Fenix to help escort them to the eggs, but did not have him try to help directly with the attack for three reasons. One, he did not want to risk Fenix's life in case the distraction did not work. Second, he did not want any sign of The Empire's involvement to be seen, and Fenix was well known as working for The Empire. Third, the prophet said it could only be them, so he bargained that the prophet's words were correct. He was right, as the party successfully slew the single dragon guarding the eggs and blew up an entire nest. In reality this was not serving the purpose of crippling the dragon's reproduction, but as a better distraction. For in truth Valerian had no desire to wipe out an entire species of creatures, he respected life to some extent.
The party was recalled and sent to the Lich's castle. Valerian wanted every single dragon to be sent to guard the eggs. He knew a simple assault would of been folly, and easily killed by the dragons normally guarding the nests. But with them guarding the Lich's Castle, the fact their eggs were being popped would prove to be so upsetting that every single dragon would have been recalled to protect the eggs. Valerian was mostly right. Again heeding the words of the prophet he sent the party with only a few hell-hounds as backup to slay the Lich. They succeeded and the Lich died, and with his death all the dragons that were under his thrall were freed. Valerian immediately put his final phase of his plan into motion.
He had a brilliant display at the The Colosseum where he revealed his new Clockwork Dragons and told the people what had happened, how they were free from the fear of dragons. In addition timing was perfect for him to declare victory over the terrorist that had been plaguing them so (see The Colosseum for more info.).
A bit before and during the time when Valerian was dealing with his dragon and lich issue, The Empire, Korhal specifically, was plagued with acts of terrorism. No group claimed responsibility, only ever one man. This guy would leave notes, or fantastical displays with his acts all trying to prove some point that no one was getting. But Valerian was getting it. This terrorist was trying to show the world Guy Mengsk, and Guy would not allow it. Guy did everything in his power, worked very hard an in a dedicated fashion to try and stop and catch or kill this terrorist. Everyone mistook his passion as desire for the people's safety, but in truth it was desire for his. But then a few days before his great victory over the Lich was to be realized and revealed, he was visited by the terrorist in the flesh (see Ransom Fisher-King for more info.).
This man, Ransom as Guy learned, revealed to everyone currently in his throne room Guy's true colors. Ransom had Guy in a terrible position, Guy was going to have to play his little game and reveal to the world who Guy really was. But Guy refused to play along, he refused to loose, to let this guy go when he could end it all right here. Guy scanned the room and marked everyone in there as expendable. Duran was away on errand, and the only person of any significance that was there was Kanto Nightshade. "Acceptable losses," Valerian with sadness though to himself. Guy went right up to Ransom as he held his bomb and smashed Ransom's face in, setting off the bomb. Guy knew everyone in the room would die, but he also knew he'd survive. Guy always wore a ring that protected him from fire, he used it to keep safe from his Hell Hounds. But it could only protect against so much, as the explosion while not killing him, scarred the right side of his face in a horrific fashion. Guy ran out, decidedly to save Mana, but was able to save others in the process. After he saved her, and knew she was safe in his arms he let himself pass out, as a wave of pain spread from his face into his mind and the rest of his body.
Mana slowly woke up and found herself confused. Why was she here, why is there so much commotion, why does she smell smoke? Then she caught sight of whose arms she was in! Catching sight of his disfigured face, she jump out of his arms bent down to his face and used a healing spell on him. It didn't work. What? Why wasn't her spells working? She tried again, and again but to no avail. She screamed for help, and when the Empress screams for help you better believe people respond. A few soldiers came around the corner, Mana had so many questions for them but knew she had to take care of Guy first. She ordered them to quickly go to get a cleric, they acknowledged her, and left. Very soon after one of the returned with a detachment of clockwork praetorian guard and surrounded the rulers.
Over the coming hour Mana learned that there were no clerics in the palace, but some were being sent for. She and Guy were taken to a room and he was laid down on a bed. Guy began groaning and moving slightly. It was towards the end of the hour that it happened. Guy began screaming, and thrashing around. Guards held him down and made sure he didn't hurt himself or others in his thrashing, but no one could speak to him, he didn't acknowledge anyone's presence, didn't acknowledge anything but the pain. Mana tried to comfort him, telling him that she was there, that everything was okay. It helped little.
Mana found out that there were no Clerics in all of Korhal, for some reason they had all either been slain at the Hospital when it was attacked, or were to scared to stay in Korhal and left. Mana couldn't believe it. She was informed that a messenger had been sent out to the nearest cleric and they could expect him to show up within the week. It took her a moment but she then realized that everyone was looking at her. She looked up at them from Guy's side. "What?" she said. "My lady," Duran responded, "with Emperor Valerian ... disposed, it falls to you to rule." "He is not dead!" she almost yelled back. "Empress, what are your orders?" Duran posed to her. Mana tried to respond but could not she kept stuttering, not knowing what to say. She finally got her words together, "You orders are this! Make Valerian better, at all costs. Get every doctor and soothsayer in the capitol to come here and take care of Valerian until the cleric arrives. Understand?" Duran nodded. "I will remain here, where I belong, with Guy." Mana crept into Guy's bed and put her arms around him. He stopped thrashing and his yelling turned to small whimpers. "But my lady, you can't..." Mana shot back, "I am the Empress and I have made my decision! No one is to come through those doors unless they are the praetorian guard, or are a doctor led in here by them." Duran nodded, and motioned everyone except the guard out of the room.
Over the next few days Mana stayed with Guy. Whenever he would throw a fit she would help calm him down, and with her there he survived until the cleric finally came. During this time Valerian knew nothing but blinding, deafening, debilitating pain. During this time no one led The Empire, and all of Korhal was in the dark and gossiping about what had happened at the palace. With no communication some had wondered if there was anyone left to lead. The Senate and other politicians schemed and made plans how to grab power if Valerian should be found to be dead. All this was for waste however as the cleric did his job and Valerian made a full recovery. It would take another day's worth of preparation of spells to fully heal Valerian, but he was good enough to get up and get around. After a few sweet moments of words between him and Mana, he addressed the situation. His first thought went to survival, not physically, but politically.
Guy immediately found out if anyone had survived the attack aside from him. Only a few were injured, none were killed in the courtyard and lobby, Valerian's warning had saved them. However Guy's heart dropped when he was told that one person had survived the explosion in the throne room - Kanto Nightshade. Guy went to his bedside and cleared the room. He knew what he had to do. He talked to Kanto who was barely able to talk, and asked him if he remembered what happened. His response had a deafening effect, "I remember everything." "I see", came Guy's slow response. "And would you be willing to tell everyone the truth of what happened - tell them exactly what happened?" Kanto nodded painfully. "That's my boy," he almost fatherly petted his head, "always willing to do the right thing no matter the cost. Well don't worry, I got everything handled, just go back to sleep." Kanto locked eyes with Guy for a moment or two before closing them for intended rest. Valerian said soothing words as he picked up one of the pillows and began to smother Kanto. Kanto tried to fight back but was too weak, and in a matter of minutes he passed. Guy put the pillow back, waited a minute or two, then opened the door declaring to the doctors that something was wrong, that all of a sudden Kanto stopped breathing. They rushed in, but told Valerian that it was too late. He knew that.
"Why did he look at me like that?" Guy thought. "It was almost as if he knew what I was going to do. Did he do that on purpose? Did he try to keep his eyes open knowing that as long as he had them open he'd be safe? WHY DID HE STARE AT ME LIKE THAT?!" Guy ended up struggling with that stare for years to come, and it was added to his list of guilty memories that haunted him.
With Kanto's death no one knew the truth of what happened, how Guy killed an entire room just so that he could hide his dark secrets. How he would kill a friend, if that's what it took.
After the speech he gave at the Colosseum, Valerian held a party to celebrate their victory over the Lich, success in taking down the terrorist, and the good job people did on the clockwork dragon. During this party Guy was dancing with Mana and while they were dancing slow he said to her, "I guess now the outside reflects the inside, ay?" She shook her head slightly, held her hand to his scarred face and cast a Restoration spell on him. After his scars disappeared she said back, "No. Now the outside reflects the inside." The two soon retired to their room together.
Mana had, in fact, gone out and gotten a scroll of regeneration. She slipped it in her pocket and casted it at the dance, as a gift to her husband, who she loved so much.
Threats from Another World
Valerian had always seen a threat that no one else did - the potential for an unknowable threat from another world to come into his world and wreak havoc. Valerian had decided, after he had established his reign, to address this issue. It was a difficult issue to tackle. Imagine if an entire united world had some way to visit his and decided to invade. Or what if a creature, that no one has ever even conceived of, found itself somehow in his. What would his world be able to do? If an alien threat were to assault this world, it would find the world easy prey as it was divided among itself and constantly was in 'civil war' as it were - it's own denizens fighting among each other.
The best way to survive such an assault would be to prepare for it, but that was a challenging proposition. Valerian couldn't just assign people to try and prevent or prepare for this eventuality, no one would call him sane. Valerian knew that the only time the world would recognize this as a real threat is after it was to late, after aliens had already begun assaulting the world with their presence. The biggest way to prepare for this, Valerian thought, was to unite the world. It was something he had already dedicated himself to in order to fulfill Mana's dream, so this he was able to do with full effort. But surely more had to be done. Ironically it was a person from another world that really enabled Valerian to create a solid plan of resistance aside from unification.
When Valerian, according to the prophet's words, put many of his plans in the man from another world's hands things worked out as the prophet said. Valerian knew that he could never predict all possible other-worldly threats. But if he had David at his side to advise him as things happened he could adapt to each situation. Valerian could learn from not just another man's, but another world's experience. Imagine all the things that people learned over the generations that a world witnessed. All this knowledge pent up in one man was more than Valerian could ask for. After a bit of manipulation, which was simply and easy for Valerian, David agreed to be his adviser. It did not last long however before David used a request, which Valerian gave to him as a reward for his good work with the Lich problem, to leave and travel to the north.
When he did have David's advisorship, Valerian was able to learn that his fears were justified. It appeared that things other than David had been coming from his world, and all of them evil in nature. It was during this time Valerian was able to connect the dots regarding the Terminator. Earlier his men had come across a creature so vastly powerful that it took quite a production to subdue it. They learned of it's anatomy, how it was robotic in nature. He had previously assumed that someone had out-done his clockwork technology and he had his scientists, specifically Yi Suchong, try to reverse engineer it. Now Valerian realized that it had not been created by anyone in his world, but was a creature from David's world. Valerian learned that the creatures from David's world did not stay dead - that after killed they revived to reek havoc again. This allowed Suchong to be more heavy-handed with his reverse engineering, allowing him to take steps destroying pieces of the Terminator in order to learn about others, just to be able to have the parts all whole again at a later time by killing and re-capturing the creature.
SCPTo tackle this threat to his world Valerian had to come up with a solution to find, capture, and imprison the creatures from David's world, since merely slaying them would result in them respawning. Valerian's solution was as ingenious as he is.
Valerian had the Lich's castle refurbished and repurposed to be a prison facility for all the creatures from David's world. It was also made to be a staging area for Suchong to work hard on the reverse-engineering of the terminator to create a machine more powerful and skillful than the world had ever seen. Valerian hired a very powerful wizard, Aldaris, at no small price to help Suchong create this creature powerful enough to hunt all the creatures coming from David's world. But as previously established these creatures would simply respawn, so to handle that Valerian had Aldaris create an object, now known as the Horadric Cube, that would draw all creatures to itself at the delicate state where they manifested themselves. In this way Valerian was able to produce a facility that was designed to be able to capture these creatures at the cube, and imprison them in this facility.
Valerian took precautions to protect his people and himself. He had the place, known as the SCP Foundation, bought for, established, and answering to a private shell corporation. In this way he could supply all the money and supplies necessary to make this facility a success, which no other entity smaller than an empire really could do, but not have anything that might happen to backfire blow back on him or The Empire.
With the cube and facility in place, when reverse engineering finished and the Keepers were created, they were sent out into the world to hunt down anything not native to his world. This marks the only use of other-worldly technology that Valerian has allowed to date. Valerian is cautions, worrying that not fully understanding technology and items from other worlds, it may back-fire on him. What if a creature came from David's world that could control any technology based on tech from it's world? Then all the things Valerian produced with that technology would be used against him. Surely there was other unforeseeable dangers such as that, that could prove to be catastrophic. So the Keepers remain the only exception to that rule, though Suchong constantly promotes that the rule should be abolished, seeing how useful lessons learned from other worldly technology could be to his world.
"That can be one of his only weaknesses - he can be provoked, I've seen it." - David regarding Valerian
David's request to go to the north had to be honored, but it posed problems as relations with the north were delicate. Valerian sent his best man, Fenix Augustgrad, to 'babysit' David and make sure that he caused no problems and was to return alive. Though Fenix ended up messing up the assignment at one point, Valerian used this to manipulate Fenix to be so dedicated that he would be sure David returned alive, even if it costed Fenix his life.
After some time had passed and he had not received word from Fenix he feared the worst. He sent a message to the King of Antioch to request David's safe return. He had to get David back, he held knowledge that was very powerful. Valerian had to have it, and especially keep it out of anyone else's hands, especially a kingdom which it was very possible he might have to go to war with one day. So he tasked David's return with the one person he knew would get the job done - Alexandra Mahone. She had been reassigned to prepare for war with Antioch if it had become inevitable, and had done enough research to become to the best person who knew the most about Antioch to go and deal with them. Of course Valerian knew the most out of everyone, learning about the Azlanti Kingdom in his youth and early teens gave him an advantage as Antioch's language and culture is based heavily on Azlanta.
Alexandra Mahone returned with bad news - the king had refused to cooperate. Valerian didn't have much time to react as soon he received word of an ambassador from Antioch! After meeting with him Valerian learned that David had killed some villain and become a great hero in the north. So much for not causing trouble, he ended up helping improve the view of commoners to the north - fortuitous. Valerian still needed David back though, and sent back this letter with the ambassador:
- Dear Honorable, Nobel, and Righteous King,
- I want to first thank you for the honor you did me, by sending a very member of your court, Mr. Ashitaka to me in such an expedient manner. Along with this letter, I hope Ashitaka conveyed my compelling motivation for wanting the return of your hero David Cohen. Enclosed in this letter is another letter I wish to find it's way into Mr. Cohen's hands. After reading this letter he will want to immediately return to Korhal, it would be a personal favor to me if you teleport him as you did Mr. Ashitaka to Korhal. If after reading the letter he does not desire to return what would that matter to a man such as you? You are powerful, and hold such sway! What could a man, even a hero do against your will? I ask that you escort him here against his will if necessary. Any bad will you get from your people by doing so, will most certainly be outweighed by my happiness don't you agree?
- If you are putting your will towards something I know that your men honor you so much that they would put your will to motion immediately. So expecting you to accomplish this by anytime later than midnight tonight would be an insult to your person, for it would assume you do not have the loyalty of your men. I would not disgrace you in such a way. It only follows reason that if he is not returned to me by then, that it was not your will to honor my request. Such a spit in the face if received by my father would surely result in violent repercussions. It is a good thing I am not my father ay?
- On another note, you will be glad to hear that the war with the Orcish Horde is tidying up nicely, soon it will be finished and both our lands will be made safer, as the Horde wouldn't have stopped at our borders. You should be pleased that you have not known war, it is a dirty business. No matter who wins there's always casualties on both sides. I'm sure your people are proud that your majesty has been able to keep peace for as long as you have. It is surely a great achievement. From one ruler to another, let me tell you how tiring it is to wage war. For example right now I have to allocate thousands of Clockwork war machines to bare against the Horde. I'm able to match their numbers with my machines, and though they loose lives, I loose only metal which is replaced in a day. To put it in perspective take note of your territory's size, and double it – that is how wide the Horde has spread through the land. Imagine the number of soldiers I have to employ to overcome such an enemy! With their emanate defeat I will be pleased to have all those resources no longer tied up, and set about other tasks.
- I wish to no longer meet via proxies. Your greatness is only to be honored by my presence, and not the presence of those I send. Let our next meeting be face to face, you and I. I have such important matters to discuss I would do it with you alone, and none-other.
- Emperor Valerian Mengsk
- The following was the attached letter:
- As of two days ago, I now hold sway over the creatures from your world. Come to me and I will give you all the answers you have been seeking.
- Your friend,
- Emperor Valerian Mengsk
The letter was dripping with political venom. Valerian had hoped it would cause the king of Antioch to avoid risking the trouble, and send David back to him. If this tactic would have worked had the king not been David in disguise is up for debate, what isn't up for debate is that it did not work. The following was the letter Valerian received back:
- Emperor Mengsk,
- I have relayed your message to our common friend he in turn wrote a letter which is being delivered with this letter and told me he is leaving at first light. As you know he is a hero to our lands and a free man and I will allow him to return to you his way.
- As to the rest of the letter. It is true we marvel here in the north at your great machine army and we are grateful for your sacrifices in holding back the orc hordes which would no doubt be a threat to our lands too. We of course have no great army and yet I would not consider us weak or defenseless. You see great Emperor you do not always have to defeat an army on the field of battle to take away a mans will to fight. We have always found finding what people love and cherish most what it is they are fighting for or to protect is the best way to end a conflict, everyone has a weak spot we are very good at locating and exploiting such a spot that is our strength.
- But I could go on forever about such things, I agree let's meet face to face and as a demonstration of what I just wrote about earlier I will come to you and surprise you when you least expect it (all in good fun of course). You are truly a great leader of men and someone I wish to call a friend.
- Your Humble Friend,
- Sun Tzu
- The following was the attached letter:
- My Emperor,
- I have received your correspondence and I am anxious to learn of this "sway" you have acquired. During my journeys here I also have learned much more in way of the mysterious nature of my world mixing with this world. I can't explain everything now I have so much to yell you my friend. I cannot return immediately I have one more stone to turn over but it is on my way back. I will ride out towards Korhal tomorrow and will arrive to you within 60 days. Please do not take this as a disrespect to you or be angry with the Northern King. When I return to you and tell you everything that has happened I promise you will understand why it must be this way.
- Your friend and servant,
Valerian grew furious. "We have always found finding what people love and cherish most what it is they are fighting for or to protect is the best way to end a conflict." Valerian recognized this for what it was - a threat. Valerian was not innocent of threatening in his letter, it was dripping with veiled threats, but this threat was not so much veiled as it was sloppily hidden beneath glass. And this letter did one thing his didn't - it threatened Mana. There was no forgiveness or political games to be played anymore, relations be damned. Valerian drafted the following letter in anger:
- King Sun Tzu,
- You are not the wise King I at first thought you were. Your method of ending a conflict does not end conflicts, but instead starts them, the most vicious kind that do not end with treaties or with strategic victories, or with anything. When you take away someone's reason for 'doing', you also take away that person's reason for 'stopping'. With what can you barter, when you've taken away everything someone's ever wanted?
- I do not have a copy of the letter I wrote to you with me, so I can't be sure, but for the life of me I can't remember writing a damn thing about letting David return to me in 'his way.' I thought I made it pretty clear that if you do not return to him to me by midnight that I would take this as a spit to my face. I'm a man of my word.
- You've made a mistake.
- Expect no further correspondence with me. I will accept no letters, I will host no representatives. I will deal with you, or no one. Korhal's gates open at sunrise, I'm sure the arrival of your litter will make it's way to my ears. I am not a child, and this is no game. Appear to me when I 'least expect', and your trip will be short and unproductive.
- Emperor Valerian Mengsk – son of Arcturus
- P.S. Thank you for giving me the honor of knowing your name, 'Master Sun'. Interesting name for someone who's kingdom housed a 'mad' man who shattered the moon.
With Valerian's knowledge of Azlanti he was able to dissect the meaning of the emperor's name, and recognized for what it was, a fake ironically made for the amusement of it's author. Valerian's hopes with this letter was to force the King to degrade himself by entering in without any sort of pomp or circumstance held by Valerian. Valerian would either see this King on his terms, or not at all. Since the latter was a true possibility, Valerian switched gears from trying to return David to himself peacefully, to returning him forcefully and to wage a secret-war with Antioch. Valerian could not risk these people hurting Mana, so he preemptively attacked them to take them out of the game.
The first thing he did was send in a spy that knew Azlanti and knew how to practice medicine to assassinate a local Antiochian doctor and pose as him via a Hat of Disguise. Planted there, the doctor spread the plague into Antioch's lands with each person he 'treated'. The second thing Valerian did was meet with Hanzo Hattori and brief him on the situation preparing him to go in and extract David. This proved to not be needed as soon Valerian received this letter back:
- I'm sorry that I have offended you great emperor, I wish to accept your invitation of a face-to-face meeting in order to resolve our differences and misunderstandings. Please advise on a time and place to meet.
Valerian set up the meeting and soon he and the King met face-to-face. Valerian was caught completely off guard, a thing that is very rare to happen, when the King revealed himself to be David. Valerian was so taken aback by this that he had the room emptied, and he embraced David revealing to him that it was him who spread the plague - a thing that Valerian should not have done but his emotions got the better of him, again a rare thing to happen.
The two caught up and Valerian brought David to the SCP Foundation and filled him in on everything about it. David told Valerian all he knew about the things from his world and how one was still on the loose, a powerful perhaps leader called Kaizer Soze. Valerian assured David that his Keepers would catch up with him eventually.
Valerian then turned his mind to the renewed possibility of peacefully acquiring Antioch. He set forth a new plan, he told David that he would send his army to stop the band of marauders coming at him (see Sanctuary for more info.). In this way he hoped that there would be some good will gained by the people of Antioch towards The Empire. In addition to this he was going to send some top men to come in and handle their plague situation and make sure that it didn't wipe out their population and they could retain their home-land. With both of these things done he had hoped that a great deal of good-will would be fostered between their two peoples. In addition he had David start work on an embassy in Antioch and Valerian would do the same in The Empire. The final thing David was to do was to reveal the truth to the people that there was no King, but it was Oroku Saki who lead their nation. This last thing David did not do, though he said he would.
Valerian didn't have much contact with David for a while until something was captured at the SCP Foundation that perplexed everyone - it was simple dog. Valerian sent a letter asking David about it and scheduled a long-overdue checkup meeting. Valerian set up a outing with Mana and her orphans, at the Crystal Shore, a piece of shore that the Merfolk and The Empire made a deal a long time ago to secure from beasts in order that people would have a place to enjoy themselves safely. There Valerian got an update and was encouraged to tell David that no other SCPs existed outside of the facility. David requested an audience with Kaizer, and Valerian obliged. After David had his fill at the SCP Foundation he talked to David about the next steps of his plan to acquire Antioch.
Valerian was deeply disappointed to find out that David had not yet revealed to his people that there was no King. This was to set Valerian's plans back - he could only have David replaced after the King was revealed. Valerian compensated by pushing the part of his plan where David was replaced faster - he realized that David was simply not well equipped for this sort of work. He told David that he was going to plan David's fake death, and his replacement will be someone experienced from The Empire. That person will carry out the rest of the plan to join Antioch to The Empire. It would be simple enough, the person would be able to illustrate how poor their way of leadership truly was and after all the positive interaction would order, as his last act as Oroku Saki, that Antioch become apart of The Empire. They would retain their land, but would now have to obey the laws of The Empire, and would have guaranteed representation in the senate, and thus have a voice in the laws that they were to follow. In addition they could keep local government to their liking as long as nothing they did contradicted any laws. Then Valerian would be one-step closer to a unified world, and would certainly have an even more powerful army as he'd have the strength of nature that the Antiochians commanded at his beck and call.
David did not agree to this plan, he did not like deceiving the people of his land. Valerian scoffed at him since the entire Kingship was a deception, and David himself wore a mask and went by a fake name. Valerian, as he had done almost since the beginning of knowing David, was honest with him and told him what he'd be willing to do to make sure Antioch joined The Empire - anything. David made a deal, he asked for two weeks and if he wasn't able to get Antioch to join The Empire by then, then he'd agree to Valerian's method. Valerian thought about it for a long time but in the end agreed. So far David found success in all he put his hand to, so perhaps this too would have the same result. Valerian ended up regretting this decision.
Valerian was in midst of a normal day, and it came to the part of the day when he entertained citizens exercising their right to have an audience with the emperor. It was not unusual for a group to come in and talk about an issue they have united for or against, but when this group brought in their common issue, it didn't tale long for Valerian to realize it was a nefarious one. Valerian asked them what they wanted and their response came, "There is only one thing you can do for us Emperor." Valerian perked up when he heard the Azlanti accent these men spoke with. Before Valerian knew what was happening all of a sudden these men were armed and attacking his court. One with a great feat of acrobatics made his was to Valerian's side. Valerian tried to pull his flail from it's holster, but the assassin stabbed a sharpened sai into his side, pinning Valerian's weapon to it's holster. The assassin and Valerian dance for a bit, the assassin providing the blows, Valerian the dodges. Valerian enraged declared, "Enough!" wreathed himself in flame, pulled the sai out with the strength this form provided him and destroyed his attacker so thoroughly that there was not enough face to recognize this man from any other. This did not stop Valerian from shouting at the man, "Who sent you, WHO SENT YOU?!" Valerian's guard tried to stop him, clearly seeing the man would never answer anyone's questions ever again. Valerian regained some of his senses and surveyed his surroundings to find that his Praetorian guard did it's job and dispatched the other assassins. Letting himself return to human form he was escorted out of the throne room as he shouted out, "Take any that are still alive, and interrogate them. Find out who sent them!"Valerian was taken to a safe-room where Mana met him. Together over a few excruciating hours Valerian found out that this was only a single part of a coordinated attack on The Empire, that there were many important people and places who fell (see The Empire for more info.). Valerian was told that all those responsible either had escaped or were killed and that there was none to interrogate. Valerian heard and saw that the people who tried to kill him were Antiochian but that could have been a clever ploy to have him attack a nation that had actuality done nothing, provoking a war to someone's benefit. Valerian wished not to wait or make decisions based off of lacking intelligence, so he performed a ritual he had learned when he was young, a form of lost Azlanti divination magic. While worlds of knowledge was available to him at any given moment via this ritual, Valerian did not do it often because it was said that it took time off a man's life every time he used it. When he had told Mana this she made him promise to never do it because she didn't want him to hurt himself. With Mana pleading with him not to do it, there and then Valerian broke his promise and used the magic. What he learned made him burn with anger deep inside.
What goes on in Valerian's head during the ritual.
David had betrayed him! How could he had been so foolish. He had fooled himself! Valerian had always known that things from another world were going to be the biggest threat to this one, and for some foolish reason he had put so much trust in another one. What angered Valerian even more was that he thought he had found a true friend, something short in supply in Valerian's life, and even more hurtful was that it took a being from another world for him to find one. Everything that had come over from David's world was evil, why did he think David was an exception?
This was nothing short of an act of war, a preemptive strike against The Empire decided because David had revealed Valerian's intentions. So truth be told it was Valerian who threatened to 'strike' first, and this was simply Antioch's response. But who needed to know that? After all the commotion was passed, Valerian repurposed a scheduled show at the Colosseum to help heal the people and try to dissuade fear. The show was to be the announcement of the end of the war with the Orcish Horde, and the beginning of the first period of peace for The Empire. Instead Valerian had it into a giant funeral for all those lost in the attacks during the Night of the Silent Arrow as it had been referred to as. During the funeral something stirred deep inside Valerian. His mind poured over the situation back and forth trying to determine what to do next. After a long period of silence he made a decision. The only way this could go well for The Empire is war, there was no other solution. Valerian, unplanned, stood up and spoke to the people (see The Colosseum for more info.). From then on The Empire was at war with Antioch (see The Empire for more info.).
Not long into the war Valerian was at the Colosseum and witnessed Nova Terra's defeat. After a bit more fun he met with the gladiators who had beaten her (see The Colosseum for more info.). Learning that they were David Cohen and Thaurin Dragonson Valerian had them captured and imprisoned. While they were incarcerated and Valerian was pondering what to do with them he received urgent word that the SCP Foundation had been lost, but the containment breach protocols weren't working. Valerian decided, not knowing that it was with 'The Author's' influence, to send in David and Thaurin to go deal with the mess they had helped create. Before sending them out he sat down with them and tried to learn the one thing his vision did not tell him - why? He did not receive the answers he was looking for, and unsatisfied sent them to their certain death to retake the SCP Foundation.
A familiar face greeted Valerian - the prophet! Valerian had his guards hold him and he demanded to know how he got into his private chambers. The prophet offered no explanation, stepped ethereal-like through the blades holding him back (which should have been impossible since the weapons of Valerian's Praetorian guard had the ghost touch special ability on them) and delivered his message saying, "If you leave now, with no restraint or delay and get to David and help him, he and all who came over from his world with him will return before the sun crosses the horizon. David is marked with blood that Thaurin has in his possession, mark yourself as he does or you will perish along with the creatures you have feared so much." The prophet turned and left the room not waiting for Valerian's reply. Valerian obeyed, knowing that the prophet had proved himself to be true each time before.
Valerian had himself teleported to the SCP Foundation, and there he fought the Terminator and watched as David and all his other-worlders were destroyed by the great destroyer. Valerian did as the prophet told him, and survived, and stood there alone with Thaurin, Setsuko, and Anub'rekhan in an empty field.