Just read Swan Song and oh boy. Wow. Um, taking a moment to process this--I felt before and still feel now that how the whole Akua plotline was wrapped up was...random, in a lot of ways. For the amount of time spent on it, it didn't seem like a logical or satisfying conclusion, to have it wrapped up the way it was, though I suppose it technically isn't wrapped up, what with her soul still unaccounted for. Looking back, it very much feels like the last chapter happened solely to get us to this one already. Having said that, it did get us to this chapter, and goddamn was it a powerful chapter. A bunch of things that were a long time coming finally came to a head, as Cat clashed with Malicia over this whole mess and the costs Callow's had to face, hashing something out between them--but, more than that, Black and Malicia argue about their methods. And, horrible though both methods are, you can see the logic, the points that both have to make. Malicia fears the armies Procer brings, the forces it has arrayed, and more, believing that if they fail or even fight, everything they've built will burn in the process. The Crusades are something they cannot face as they are, especially with the heroes that will no doubt back it. War with half the continent is risky fucking business for them at best. But Black's point is just as good--this whole mess killed hundreds of thousands to build a superweapon that can beam permanent Hellgates into the heart of any major country on the continent--it's a sword held over the heads of millions and even if Malicia says she won't use it, who can believe that? And even if people believe it, who's to say they can trust the next madman to come along with it? It will bring down a heroic response, and not in small numbers; every hero on the continent who finds out about this is immediately doing to go to war, including the one's who'd been doubting and waiting. And even if this avoided a Crusade in the short term, the moment the sword over everyone's heads is gone, every country is going to go to war with Praes. And what's worse, they don't really understand or control the weapon. THat's bad news. And yet this 'solution' does not help either. Even leaving aside the consequences Keagen mentioned about what would happen if all the souls were unleashed--something like burning down a third of Callow, IIRC?--getting rid of it like this throws everything straight to hell, burns a lot of bridges, and, perhaps worst of all, leaves them all in that shitty situation with nothing to show for it. Six armies broken, the heart of the South torn out, quite possibly the South burnt down because of this, war on it's way, and the biggest reason to call for a Crusade in living memory--and they have nothing to show for any of it. It's a massive clusterfuck and the Bard wrecked everyone casually with, like, three sentences a month ago. Wow.