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After years of fighting Great King Kalvan and his army, Styphon's House's control over the Five Great Kingdoms is in jeopardy: in Hos-Bletha there are two great kings, in Hos-Agrys the Prince-Regent's rule is threatened as the young Prince reaches his majority, in Hos-Harphax the new Great Queen is taxing her subjects to the breaking point, while in Hos-Zygros Great King Phidestros openly defies Styphon's House. Only in Hos-Ktemnos is there a stable regime supporting Styphon's House.
The Fireseed Temple's resources are great, including large mercantile houses, tobacco and cotton monopolies, along with the Great Banking houses. Regardless, Great Queen Rylla decides that the time has come to reassert Hostigi power and return home to Hos-Hostigos. Not everyone is happy — including Kalvan — with this turn of events, but Rylla is a force of nature and asserts her will. Now it's up to Great King Kalvan to find a way to make their return to Hos-Hostigos a permanent one. His first task will be to besiege and destroy the Zarthani Knights' great fortress at Tarr-Ceros.
However, Kalvan has an even bigger problem: Great King Phidestros, the new ruler of Hos-Zygros. If Phidestros finds cause to join forces with Styphon's House, Kalvan may find himself in embroiled in a war he cannot win.