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Where to even start! The way this story is being told is beautifully done, first of all. It flows so naturally from past to present, from anger to sadness, from suffocating pressure to eerie openess.

The use of music and sounds is especially beautifully done. That scene with the whip crack noises made me flinch more than once while I had to ponder options.

That alone is justification enough to love this, but oh, it just gets better! The world building isn't shoved in your face all at once, and nor is it so empty and barely there that it may as well not exist at all. It's just the right amount at just the right times. Then, the cherry on top of the frosting on top of this cake- the characters!!

To say I'm in love with all of them is becoming rapidly true as I write this. Mathias is so interesting to me. The way he views the commander-- me in this case-- and how it plays into how he goes about things is so intriguing. I end up going along with being a tad angry at him, and I believe I ended up on the friendship path (for the time being). You can tell he has so much to say. So much is just in that head of his that he's always considering, always trying to come up with solutions too. He either can't say some of it due to his status, or he won't say it because of his status. I feel like he genuinely cares for me but then the constant reminder of his position, of what he can become, of what he is to become, it just makes me think.....maybe he's not as kind as I think. It leaves me guessing!!!!! It's so fun.

Then there's Mandra. Oh sweet beloved oh so hot and powerful and sexy Mandra. I'm not gonna lie the moment I had any chance to be Mandra I was all over it. Mandra is SO fun. A force to be reckoned with, who dismisses the idiotic nobles and all their weird traditions and hang-ups on appearance. Not to mention, the inherent bond I felt I had with them. The pain we shared, that only we will ever really understand, gives a solid foundation to our relationship, which is close no matter how it ends up being spun I bet. We became comrades in a war that tore me in two, and we continue to be as such, despite not seeing one another for 3 whole years. But.....Mandra knows that they can't protect me. Their force and brute strength does nothing in a battle of papers and words and emotion filled glances. It does nothing to keep me safe from the court that seems so intent on ripping the rug right from beneath my feet. Mandra can protect me physically, but.....nothing can exactly fight off words without dire consequences to such actions. They know this and remind me of this, wanting me to be safe and happy, notably, with someone who isn't their older brother. I have to say I see their point entirely.

Alas, we come to the adoptive Mother turned tyrant, turned gentle yet wise Queen. The beginning where it described how she played dress with me, how she let herself be vulnerable and more child-like near me, it pained my heart. To think that she had to confide in little ol me, who was probably still reeling from all the things happening in that damned palace, it made me feel deeply for her. I could feel the kindness in her actions, the trust she showed me by being vulnerable to me when I was much younger than her. I do see her as a mother figure, maybe not one who was particularly close with me, but one who could be a shoulder to cry on for me, if the situation called for it. At the same time, I feel distant from her. I know she's not my real mother, I know she busies herself more with Mathias as she wishes him to be kind, and probably worries over Mandra who's always out at battle and who has only just returned. I feel.....shelved, in a sense. The real children before the one she dragged to take punishment for her son in. It hurts, especially when I consider she knew what the late king was like, and still thought it was pertinent that someone take his wrath, when I think she should've overthrown his ass the moment he got violent. Traditions be damned in that sense. It's a rage that I direct silently at her, because I don't know what will happen with her, and I still am fond of her, despite the hand she played in taking my ragdoll body and setting it on fire. I can't imagine what she was like when she was more forceful like the late king, just the thought of someone so nice to me turning in the man who ruined my body and soul makes me wanna scream and cry and throw up. As she gets gentler, and perhaps considers me once again, outside of her cooing to her little harpy, I hope she shows me that everything has been genuine this whole time, and that she knows im a person and now a piece on a board to crown her son king.

Her lover, the great Doctor and spymaster herself, I absolutely adore. A stern and strict woman who takes no one's shit and will absolutely not have a had in dealing the shit unless it's needed. Her constant strong and ever-present personality is comforting in this cast of people who have so much to hide or say, with only so few words to say them. It's nice seeing her driven on healing her lover, seeing her not waver in her duties despite the dire times, and to still make time for the others of the small circle of people she serves and allies herself with. I can't wait to see what all that spymaster magic gets us in the last few parts of this story, honestly. I hope her and the queen can live much longer than what is fated for them.

Then the ever elusive Master Curio! Oh, they baffle me to no end. What does Curio want? Why teach Mathias? Why humor that weirdly timid yet prideful man? Does Curio need something? is this just a whim of their's? I don't even know. I love Curio, despite the unknown motives and possible danger that lurk in those hundreds of years they've seemingly lived. They're kind to me, and helped me not get caught easedropping, so for the time being, I see them as an easygoing and laid-back ally. Perhaps Curio will be integral to what I want done, to what I need to do, or to what becomes of me. I just hope whatever the circumstance, curio is on my side.

Then we've got my loyal second in command, Valencia! Oh, she's drop dead gorgeous, I have to say. I have full faith and trust her. Reading her dialogue just made me feel like I was chatting with a best friend, despite the formal speech and environment. She felt so cozy to be around, different to the Mandra cozy, but similar in how it's formed through fighting alongside one another, I think. She seems like a lantern that will never die out, so long as I ask the lantern to be by my side. She's so quick to aide me and only shows hesitance when it's for my sake. My lovely second-in-command. I want more stuff from her soooo bad.

This game is SO interesting and I hope there's at least a little erotic holding of swords to people who've harmed and healed me so I can release all this welled up emotion I have as the mc of the game. I have SO many feelings. I WANT more of this story soooo bad. I wish it wasn't just gonna be four chapters, I'd play a 3 day long vn of this world. I genuinely would!

Thank you so much for this lovely story, it's sooo good. <3