City of Auria, Capital of the Federation of Alkimia:
Hall of the Privy Council, Tower of the Sun:
"... We will not - we cannot - die for the mistakes you have made, not while we protect what must be protected. And so, we have accepted the offer made by Gobwin Knob. We will stand aside as their troops move north to Alkimia, and in return, they will leave us unharmed. We are not formally breaking alliance with Alkimia..."
As the clerk read out Cameria's missive, the broad face of Lord Crust flushed first pink, then red, then scarlet. By the time the clerk reached the conclusion, the War Minister had acquired a coloring akin to that of the invaders. From the top of the Tower of the Sun, the invading force was clearly visible in the distance. Just past the rich hills that had yielded Auria's wealth was a massive column of infantry and cavalry, all dressed in striking red and black, that stretched past the tiny leaning tower of Bailey, across the river Aqua and off towards the horizon. And over the column swirled dark clouds of Dwagons - reds, yellows and purples.
It was a great crimson-and-black snake poised to strike at the heart of Alkimia. For the first time since the ancient days, the Federation was in mortal danger, and the Councillors gathered in the hall knew it (for given values of "know", though). The question was why things had come to this point.
They had their own ideas and suspicions, yes, and normally they would have discussed them. But these were different times. First Minister Lear was ailing, and it was doubtful if he even knew the extent of the danger Alkimia was in. Lord Crust, the War Minister, had spent many of the past turns with the First Minister, answering the same questions over and over: "So, tell me about these Duellists again? And Description? Why are we fighting them?" As Lord Lear grew more feeble, Lord Crust assumed more and more power. But at other times the First Minister was lucid, asking how Alkimia would succeed where so many other powers had failed. After a particularly dramatic episode when Lear himself questioned Crust's growing influence, the First Minister was suddenly ordered by the hired Healomancer to stay in his chambers and to not be disturbed. Lord Crust, in "admirable selflessness", took upon himself the First Minister's daily briefings and threatened to cut the upkeep for any ministry that contacted Lord Lear directly. It soon became obvious that questioning Lord Crust was not a wise career move, and so no one spoke up when Lord Crust ordered nearly all Alkimian forces southeast to Gall for a stand against the Decrypted.
So instead of debating like normal in this time of crisis, the Privy Council sat waiting for Lord Crust's decision. But for once, no decision came. Still crimson, Lord Crust departed the hall silently. The Council looked at each other briefly before leaving as well...
Alkimian Heartland Battlespace - Thinkagram to all Allied Commanders
"To all United Nations forces entering the battlespace: Thank you for your support in these critical times. As you may know, the enemy has already arrived and is positioned for a major assault on the Vital Triangle shortly. In addition, I regret to inform you that War Minister Crust is... indisposed... and will not be able to coordinate the defense of Alkimia. Please engage the enemy at your discretion, and feel free to give Alkimian forces orders as needed. Without Lord Crust, our chain of command has been thrown into disarray, and in my humble opinion, our troops would do more good under your guidance.
May Titans smile upon you and Alkimia.
-Lady Hillary Albright, Foreign Minister of the Federation of Alkimia.