A tenuous peace rules the imperial city of Paradesh after the empire's collapse. The new republic is led by an elected Senate. Kathius, one of the senators and a child of the old nobilty, works hard to secure new freedoms for his people, but there are those who desire the return of the empire.
Marked for death, Kathius remains vigilant. When convinced to attend a play in one of Paradesh's theaters by his sister, Kathius is caught by surprise when the city is attacked. The senator flees, knowing that the death of the city's leaders could end the republic. The city is set ablaze. Kathius' worst fear comes to pass: forces loyal to the banished emperor have started a war.
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