Nordlings say the Nilfgaardian court is like a viper’s nest. Nilfgaardians think it’s cute. Just to survive there is a success. To move up the ladder, to exert your influence on the empire’s policies, and emperor himself – you have to be the master of backstage deals and treacherous plots.
Ardal aep Dahy is just such a man. He rose to the very top – and then helped Emhyr var Emreis to depose the Usurper and became new Emperor’s right-hand man. Now, on the cusp of a new war of the North, he has been entrusted with the leadership of the East Army Group. It can be interpreted in two ways – either as a great honour, or as a trap. Ardal aep Dahy knows that Emhyr expects nothing less than an immediate and complete success – and anything less than that could be used as an excuse to send him to the gallows. Of course, they’re still close allies, but Ardal understands perfectly well that this can change overnight. He cannot give Emhyr any reasons to doubt his loyalties – or talents. But his main goal is not to win the war, but to ensure that once the peace treaties are signed, his head is still firmly attached to his neck.
Ardal aep Dahy doesn’t wear plate armour and his sword is purely ceremonial, too blunt to cut a bar of butter. But don’t let this fool you, he is a ruthless general. There’s no oath he will hesitate to break, no holy site he’ll refuse to sack, no amount of civilian lives he will not sacrifice in exchange for a tactical advantage. He fights with carefully phrased letters, not blades.
Concept art by Bogna Gawrońska
Illustration by Bartłomiej Gaweł