"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."- Michael Liberty, 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. 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.
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 honor her memory, for he didn't know how else to - 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 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.
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's reign 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.
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.