Welcome to Sword of the Nation’s third preview. In this one, I’ll be presenting you with a brief look at the villains of the story: The Ashen Reckoning, and their leader, Dogma.

Once again, I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to reiterate that these previews aren’t 100% final and may be subject to change before the book is published, in addition to that, certain information will be withheld for spoiler purposes.

That being said, let’s get to it.

The Ashen Reckoning is the most dangerous threat to the peace and security of the Nation of Vaifen in recent times. It is a terrorist organization that seeks to unravel the nation and it’s ways through their heinous and atrocious attacks.

Seemingly formless, vicious, and cruel, they have already taken the lives of over a dozen thousand civilians, scarred the lives of even more, and planted the seeds of fear and chaos among the populace. Over the past two years, The Ashen Reckoning has employed several types of attacks; so far, their most common modus operandi involves the use of explosive devices concealed in plain sight, which the perpetrators have detonated at key locations during precise hours to ensure the maximum number of casualties whilst sacrificing themselves for their perverse cause. The kidnapping and murder of various politicians, businessmen, and notorious citizens has also been part of their vile repertoire.

It is theorized that they have access to vast amounts of detailed information regarding Vaifen’s inner workings, which allows them to orchestrate their attacks with maximum effectiveness. As if such hypothesis wasn’t unsettling enough, the remains of the perpetrators cannot be identified by any means; dental records, DNA samples, fingerprints, nothing has yielded any result whatsoever—as if they’re are ghosts themselves, the entirely of their lives’ data footprint seemingly expunged, or even tampered with.

As such, not even Vaifen’s own civil registry data can be trusted anymore, for it may have been infiltrated by the Ashen Reckoning, not even foreign databases that have been obtained through several means by Vaifen’s intelligence apparatus have been of help when it comes to identifying its members.

The origins and nature of the Ashen Reckoning’s funding remains a mystery as well. The amount of resources and logistics that would be involved on each and every of their meticulous attacks means that they’re funded and aided by a group or groups with the resources required—whether these groups are external or internal factors within Vaifen is the point of speculation.

Not much is known about their internal organization, let alone the full extent and reach of it; one thing is certain, the Ashen Reckoning was founded and is led by it’s only ‘public’ figure: a man only known to the world as ‘Dogma’.

The Ashen Reckoning owes much of its viciousness and ruthlessness to their leader. Dogma is an enigmatic figure that made his existence known through a series of video recordings, all filmed in clandestine locations, and always taking extreme precautions so as to not reveal his location.

Through these video recordings (which have made their way to the hands of the media through untraceable means) Dogma presents himself to the Nation of Vaifen, concealing his identity with the use of a white featureless helmet; his voice sounds distorted, ethereal, and otherworldly. Although he lacks honesty when it comes to presenting his appearance, he has been straightforward with his intentions, which gives a glimpse into the inner workings of his psyche.

Dogma, through the actions of the Ashen Reckoning, seeks to ‘free’ Vaifen’s people from what he considers is, the tyrannical rule of the Crown, the corruption of the Senate, and the blind indifference of the Tribunal. While his facial expressions are concealed by the unique headgear he wears, one can easily perceive the vitriolic hate and contempt that he has towards the Nation’s way of governance through the tone of his voice, his hand gestures only help to reinforce what already is, a strong message.

Even though the organization he leads is actively murdering citizens of Vaifen, he often extends an invitation to the very men and women that the Ashen Reckoning has been murdering and kidnapping, the very same people whose livelihood he’s been infecting with chaos, terror, and death, to join him, to take up arms, and rebel against Vaifen’s trinity—so that they can all together, as brothers as sisters, deliver swift and decisive justice to the elites that have enslaved them for so long, to build a new Vaifen for all of its citizens, where everyone is equal and free. Vaifen’s government has taken every step to prevent the broadcasting and spread of Dogma’s messages to no avail, their efforts rendered futile time and time again.

Dogma has compartmentalized the entire structure of the terrorist organization he built from the ground up, making sure that each group is able to act independently while only providing them with the bare minimum information needed to carry out his will; thus, even if one were to capture a high ranking member of the Ashen Reckoning, they wouldn’t know the full extent and hierarchy of the organization.

For over two years, the Ashen Reckoning has dictated the pace of the macabre game they’ve forced Vaifen to play. Now, with the arrival of the Gestalt team, the scales will begin to tip in the besieged Nation’s favor. Their heroism and loyalty to Vaifen will soon clash against Dogma’s vengeful schemes, and with his cunning and astute ways.

-Kal


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