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Literature / A Memory of Flames

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Snow: I have dreams. Memories of other lives I've lived. Many, many lives, but all of them long ago. I remember when my kind flew in our hundreds. I remember the silver gods and the very breaking of the earth itself, then a hundred lives of bright thoughts and flying free. And then, Little One Kailin, something changed, and everything since has faded into an eternal dull blur, dim and inpenetrable. Out of reach. All of my kin are still sleepwalking their lives...In my dreams your kind were never anything more than prey, and your thoughts were always filled with hopeless terror. Why would you wish to return to such a world?

A Memory of Flames is a fantasy series written by Stephen Deas. So far, it consists of four books: The Adamantine Palace, The King of the Crags, The Order of the Scales and The Black Mausoleum. Once, dragons and other strange monsters ruled the world and humans were simply prey. Thanks to the intervention of a mysterious figure called The Silver King, however, the dragons were tamed (read: drugged into docility) and became the cavalry of kings and queens, kept in check by a mysterious organization known as The Order of the Scales. It's been so long since dragons were free that most humans have forgotten just how dangerous they truly are.

Instead, they play games of twisted politics that would rival Niccolò Machiavelli's works. Their ultimate goal is to become the speaker—the king of kings—and reside in the Adamantine Palace. They will do anything to achieve that, including murder.


Then one day a dragon named Snow, the first perfect white to have ever been bred, escapes from captivity. Aided by a revenge-driven mercenary named Kemir, they seek to free all dragons from their slavery and return the world to its former state of dragon rule—which would be mankind's destruction.

Basically, the story is about what things would be really like if dragons were as common, powerful and intelligent as people these days would like them to be. Short answer? Not good.

The next trilogy "The Silver Kings" composed of 3 books: The Dragon Queen, The Splintered Gods and The Silver Kings bridge the events between The Order of the Scales and The Black Mausoleum and characters from The Thief Taker series also join the cast here.

There will be flames.


This series provides examples of:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Zafir.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Elemental Men's bladeless knife
  • Action Duo: Sollos and Kemir.
  • Action Girl: Shezira and Jaslyn qualify.
  • Adorkable: Chang-Liang
  • Aerith and Bob: Not so much when it comes to the human names, but among the tamed dragons you have names across the board. Simple ones (Snow, Onyx), poetic ones (Silence, Unmaker), compound ones (Wraithwing, Awestriker), two-word ones (Morning Sun, Storm's Shadow) to just plain weird ones (B'thannan). Word of God is that each eyrie has a different naming pattern for dragons.
  • Affably Evil: Kithyr, the Taiytekei and the dragons can all be polite, friendly and in the dragons' case, even heartwarming at times. Usually right before they kill a whole bunch of people.
  • After the End: The Black Mausoleum.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: If you're a king, you are in possession of a few hundred dragons.
  • Ambiguously Evil: It's probably easier to list who isn't than who is.
  • Anyone Can Die: Oh, yes.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The Order of the Scales.
  • Arc Words: A number; mainly the realms need a speaker and the potions are running out.
    • Dragons for one of you. Queens for both. An empress.
  • A Shared Suffering: Snow and Silence.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Vale goes from being the nameless leader of the Adamantine Guard in The Adamantine Palace to a heroic protagonist in the next two books.
    • In Order Of The Scales the nameless Adamantine Guardsmen that tries to kill Silence is fully fleshed out in The Black Mausoleum.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Silence's and Blackscar's true names: Crisp Cold Shaft Of Winter Sunlight and Black Scar Of Sorrow Over The Earth, respectively.
    • I am Red Lin Feyn, daughter in blood of Feyn Charin and the Crimson Sunburst, enchantress, navigator. Arbiter of the Dralamut.
    • To give a clearer view: Feyn Charin is the first guy to explore the Storm-Dark, who finds a way to move between world, Crimson Sunburst is the woman who goes to war against the residential boogey man- the elemental man and very nearly won. Both title of enchantress and navigator ain't for pushovers either.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The last thing Jehal calls out before he dies? Zafir.
  • Badass Bookworm: Vale Tassan.
    • Lin Feyn. Emphasis on badass.
  • Badass Creed: When night comes it falls to the Adamantine Men to keep watch over the nine realms.
  • Badass In Distress: All of them at differing points, but Kemir in particular.
    • This is the whole point of The Dragon Queen to Zafir.
  • Beast of Battle: In serious battles, dragons are the only unit. For obvious reasons.
  • Beware The Nice Ones: Vale Tassan is polite, friendly, and always leaves his door open. He's the greatest warrior in the realm.
  • Big Bad: It depends on your viewpoint, but it's either Snow or the Taiytakei. Neither of them, the real big bad are the Silver Kings: Isai Iah and Black Moon.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Bizarrely, Snow of all characters gets a moment, saving Kemir and Kataros from pirates in the nick of time.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Everyone is bad, even the sympathetically-displayed characters, although some are much worse than others. The possible exceptions are Vale Tassan, Kataros and Lystra. Snow could also be excused due to the fact that she's not human. Justified in that it's a Crapsack World.
  • Blingof War: Taiyeteki wears gold and glass armour to battle. Justified since it is the only kind of armour that can withstand lightning strike.
    • Zafir's flying suit-armour. It is glorious.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: We don't know enough about the Taiytakei to judge them, but it seems to be this. Snow claims that dragons have no morals whatsoever in a Screw The Rules, I Make Them! fashion.
    • Actually, dragons did have morals, they used to be incredibly loyal to their master but due to years of mind-slaving. they become like this. And the Taiytakei is actually like a bunch of rich guys playing with really dangerous stuff.
    • The truly unknown are theElemental Man.

  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Deconstructed. Both dragons and humans alike will regularly let their enemies go or make silly mistakes, because of inherit flaws in their nature.
  • Born Again Immortality: When a dragon dies, its soul wanders in purgatory for a little while, before it returns as a hatchling.
  • Break The Badass: It takes a while, but eventually Snow does it to Kemir.
    • In The Dragon Queen, this happens to Zafir.
  • Break the Cutie: Lystra and Kataros and Chang-Liang.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Jehal, finally coming face-to-face with Snow.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Well, actually it's sister-sister incest. Lystra and Jaslyn.
  • Bullying A Dragon: In a very literal sense, Kemir.
    • Shrin Chris Kwen to Zafir
  • The Bus Came Back: Bellophros
  • Canon Welding: The Black Mausoleum to both the original three books and The Thief Taker series. The next trilogy continues from there.
  • The Chessmaster: Many try to be this. They all fail.
  • The Chosen Zero: Played with. Kemir is probably the Red Rider, but he doesn't deal out very much justice.
  • Crapsack World: For the nobles, perhaps not so much, but if you're an Outsider, this most certainly applies.
  • Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The little incident involving Jehal and a crossbow.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Master Sy lived and breathed by this trope.
    • Subverted by the Sun Monks: they foughtlike Kungfu master because their main purpose was to establish order, not to kill people.
  • Companion Cube: Skjorl openly describes his axe as "his lady, his lover."
  • Conveniently Coherent Thoughts: Snow can, apparently, read Kemir's mind so well that she knows what he's going to do before he knows. Snow also manages to guess each and every one of Jehal's secret fears while he's literally shitting himself about the fact that she's about to squeeze him to death.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Oddly a very literal example.
  • The Day of Reckoning: Climax of Book Three.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Common with the realms' royal families.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many, but in particular Meteroa.
    • Baros Tsen got this so bad that not even a dragon can stop it.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Deas likes this trope. In the first book, we have Shezira and Sollos. In the second, we have Semian and Jostan.
  • Demoted to Extra: Shezira goes from being a major protagonist and one of the few genuine "good guys" in The Adamantine Palace (though that may merely be because she simply had no opportunity to do anything bad) to speaking in only one chapter in The King of the Crags. The effects of her imprisonment are felt throughout the series, however.
  • Demonic Possession: Siff suffers from this.
  • Determinator: It takes a lot to break Kemir...
  • Despair Event Horizon:...yet he comes very close to this at the beginning of Order of the Scales.
    • Zafir is this when she realizes she can't go home.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Meteroa kills a dragon without any divine weapons. Likewise with Skjorl—twice.
  • Disaster Scavengers: Called ferals in the fourth book.
  • Disney Death: Invoked— Snow throws Kemir off a mountain, but she intended for him to survive.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": "You may know my true name, but that does not give you the right to use it."
  • Downer Ending: Things really aren't looking too good for the human race now that dragons are ruling the roost again. It's implied that the end of the world is not far away, either.
  • The Dragon: Meteroa for Jehal, and in an odd role-reversal, Kemir for Snow. You could also count the drugged dragons for their riders.
  • The Dragons Come Back: Not in a literal sense, but they are most certainly returning.
  • Dragon Rider: Deconstructed in that although Kemir does indeed ride on Snow's back, she's the one in charge. Played straight in most other examples, as when drugged the dragons are no smarter than dogs.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The quadrat in The Black Mausoleum all have serious issues: Kataros is a Broken Bird and persecuted by everyone due to being an alchemist, Jasaan is sick of life, Skjorl borders on pure evil, and Siff's just insane.
  • Empath: Awakened dragons can read feelings, and their own emotions are projected onto those around them. Since dragons are usually always enraged, the effect on humans is...not pretty.
  • End of an Age: The time of humans is done; the dragons' is just beginning.
  • The End of the World As We Know It: This is how the world will flames.
  • Equivalent Exchange: With the Adamantine Spear: What you do with it, it will do to you. So if you use it to kill...
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Aside from hunting down Skjorl, Blackscar's main objective is to find the new body his mate has been reborn into.
  • Exact Words: Thieves and liars shall quiver and weep... They do, along with everyone else.
  • Fantastic Drug: Souldust.
  • Fatal Flaw: Lots of these—but the best examples are probably Kemir, who is so dead-set on revenge that he all but destroys the world, and Skjorl, who has serious lust issues.
    • In-universe example: The one way you are guaranteed to beat a dragon is by playing the waiting game. Dragons have no patience whatsoever.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Alas...this turns out to be poor Kemir's undoing in Order of the Scales. He forgets he's wearing dragon-knight armour when he walks into a village with a known hatred of dragon knights.
  • Fling A Light Into The Future: In a Dying Moment of Awesome, Vale Tassan throws the Adamantine Spear into the church, so that the survivors have a chance of defending themselves against the dragons.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself, Man!: In one of their eerie-sweet shared dreams, Snow to Kemir.
  • Ghost City: Evenspire and Bloodsalt in The Black Mausoleum.
  • Giant Flyer: The dragons.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Well, Kemir wanted dead dragon-knights...
    • Zafir just want to go home...
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Silence Mind Rapes a Scales by telling him the truth of dragons.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Two examples: Zafir, what with her complete inability to run anything properly, and Jaslyn, who is essentially responsible for all the deaths at Outwatch due to her awakening of Silence.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Kind of. The "worst" dragon we see is black, while the most empathetic (in a relative sense) is white. Blackscar, described as an unusually intelligent and patient dragon, is golden.
  • Groin Attack: With a crossbow, no less.
  • Handicapped Badass: Rider Semian, after being crippled in one leg by Kemir's arrows, manages to hold his own in a rematch while not having the protection of his armor and escape from several angry dragons.
  • Happily Arranged Marriage: To Jehal's surprise, his marriage to Lystra is this.
  • Heroic BSoD: Kemir at the beginning of The Order of the Scales. He slips in and out of it for the remainder of the book.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Deconstructed. Jasaan bitterly remarks that because of Skjorl's brave and heroic death, he'll only be remembered for that, and not all the horrible things he did in his life.
  • Hidden Badass: Lystra in the third book. Winning a duel after just giving birth? Awesome.
  • Hidden Depths: Snow can cook.
  • Hobbes Was Right: The realms need a speaker.
  • Horse of a Different Colour: Again, the dragons—but only when they're drugged.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Dragons certainly think so.
  • I Am A Humanitarian: In the fourth book, both Skjorl and Jaasan eat human flesh without much of a fuss. Justified in that they've got absolutely no other food.
  • I Call It "Vera": Skjorl names his axe "Dragon-blooded" after using it to kill Bright Lands Under Starlight.
  • I Know Your True Name: Averted. A dragon's true name is not given lightly, but they aren't secret and spells can't be worked on them, as Snow explains to Kemir.
  • I Think You Broke Him: Kemir to Snow, and once vice-versa.
  • Ignored Experts: The alchemists.
  • Immortals Fear Death: The dragons are absolutely terrified of the Black Moon, because it's disrupting their cycle of rebirth.
  • Immortal Life Is Cheap:
    Jaslyn: "You'll starve. You'll die."
    Silence: Yes. Again and again and again, and each time I will return. What does it matter to us?'
    • Invoked by Isentine. Like most fictions, a dragon body can survive for many centuries—but most, due to their disregard for their own lives, barely make it past twenty years. This is not including the hatchlings that commit suicide by starving themselves to death, refusing to accept a lifetime of slavery.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: There are always the same number of dragons in the universe, because dragon souls are immortal and simply recycle bodies with all the memories of their previous lives. The entire number is not known due to the secrecy of dragon kings about how many monsters they own, but it's suspected to be about a thousand. Hence the overwhelming majority of eggs laid by dragons do not hatch, as they can only do so when there's a dragon soul in purgatory waiting to be reborn.
  • Incest: Meteroa really, really liked his nephew Calzarin, who may have also been his son.
  • Insistent Terminology: Skjorl and Kataros insist on calling the Disaster Scavengers "ferals" and "men" respectively, highlighting the differences in their nature.
  • Killed Off For Real: Lots and lots.
    • The Adamantine Palace: Sollos, Hyram, Kailin, Nastria, Aliphera and Ash (inasmuch that we never see him again) And Bellephoros—maybe.
    • The King of the Crags: Shezira, Valgar, Sakabian and his family, Jostan, Semian, Nadira
    • The Order of the Scales: Meteroa, Kemir, Isentine, Kithyr, The Picker, Valmeyan, Prince Tichane, Jehal, Vale, Almiri, Sirion. Yeah.
    • The Black Mausoleum: Surprisingly few, considering previous instalments: Skjorl and Siff.
  • Kissing Cousins: Doesn't actually happen, but Sakabian really has a thing for his cousin Zafir.
  • Legendary Weapon: The Adamantine Spear.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Meteroa and Lystra in one memorable siege.
  • Let's Mock The Monsters: You could have a drinking game for the number of times Kemir calls Snow an idiot.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: The dragons' view. They can't understand why a human would willingly die when they don't know what's facing them.
  • Magitek: Teyiteki
  • Mercy Kill: Jehal to his father.
    Jehal: "I'm not sorry I'm doing this...I should have done it a long time ago."
  • Mind Rape: Dragons are capable of this; this is most apparent when Reborn!Silence breaks the mind of a Scales simply by "telling him the truth".
    • Three... little... slices. You!Obey!Me!
  • Mood Whiplash: There's a tear-jerking heart-to-heart between Snow and Kemir in which Kemir tells Snow that she can't go around wantonly killing babies and children, because they're innocent and might just serve a higher purpose. Snow thinks this over, agrees, and promptly eats the boy in question's parents.
  • Morality Pet: Lystra to Jehal, and sometimes Kemir to Snow.
    • Myst and Onix to Zafir, Kalaiya to Baros Tsen
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jehal has a few moments sometimes. Usually they don't last.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Vale is the Night Watchman. If that doesn't tip you off, he also has another name when he goes to war. The Scorpion King.
    • Invoked with the given names of some dragons, such as Silence, Sabre, Vengeance and Unmaker. Played straight with some of the dragons' true names.
    • Jehal is known as the Viper. It's justified.
    • We never do find out the Picker's real name...
  • Necessarily Evil: Outsiders are required to do some pretty awful things just to stay alive.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Discussed. See Heroic Sacrifice above.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Many examples. Basically, the dragons' return is the result of a whole string of mistakes made by people who really, really should have known better, such as refusing to give the alchemists more resources to create potions, despite knowing that they're the only things keeping the dragons under control, or the kings ignoring the rogue dragon let loose in the Worldspine even though there have been so many historic examples of what one dragon can do. In a more specific example, the Outwatch massacre could have been avoided or at least delayed if a) Jaslyn had listened to her alchemists or b) Isentine had grown a spine and killed the monster.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Valmeyan spelt his own demise when he forced all his enemies to unite against him. The Taytakei soldiers ended their own campaign when one of their desperately-sought after dragon eggs has the misfortune of hatching Silence.
  • Nominal Hero: Skjorl, in a strong deconstruction of the whole thing.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Kemir doesn't particularly want the dragons free; he just doesn't want there to be any more dragon knights. However, Snow once claims that this is not the case.
    Kemir: If you die, dragon, who will free the others?
    Snow: (seemingly puzzled that he had to ask) You, Kemir. You will do it.
  • Not So Different:
    • Skjorl defeats Blackscar because he knows that the dragon simply can't take the pragmatic course of action—that would be too easy and unsatisfying. He knows this because...
    • When Kemir has been forcibly ejected from the rogue dragons' group he questions the morality of his actions, and comes to the conclusion that it doesn't matter—he is who he is, and he does what he does to survive.
    Snow: So do we, Kemir.
  • Oh, Crap!: Anybody who has the misfortune to be in target of the dragons, but special mentions to Silence.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Dragons are creatures of impulse and destruction and whim. Common behaviour for them is abandoning a hidden enemy even if they know where he is, landing in places where there's no room to take off again, and attacking at night even when they don't do very well in it. The characters are far more frightened of Blackscar, a dragon who waited outside Skjorl's hiding place for months, than they are of other dragons. Justified in that he is much, much older than the other dragons and has learned patience.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: In Deas' universe, dragons are at least fifty feet tall, were apparently created by magic, don't need to breathe, are capable of mind-raping humans, have immortal souls that simply recycle bodies (which burst into flame when they die) and think of humans as nothing more than amusing food. Did we mention they used to rule the world? Did we mention that humans have been keeping them as pets?
  • One Dragon Army: The chapter A Taste of Happiness in Book Two shows exactly what one angry dragon can do.
    • Upto Eleven in the final chapters of The Dragon Queen. One fully-trained dragon and rider against a city defended by Tesla Coil, Flying Airship and Lightning-flinging Titan? they don't stand a chance.
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Played with. Snow is a much kinder dragon when it's just herself and Kemir, but becomes extremely short-tempered and destructive once she joins up with her own kind. Kemir's character, on the other hand, quickly degenerates without anyone to restrain him, and it's only when he meets up with Kataros that he begins to redeem himself. Both lampshade this.
  • Person of Mass Destruction Snow describes herself as one.
    Kemir: "Dragons aren't weapons."
    Snow: No, Kemir, that is exactly what we are. But not for you.
    • The Black Mausoleum reveals that dragons were designed as the ultimate weapon for use in the Silver Kings' wars.
  • Pet the Dog: For an amoral killing machine, Snow has a number of moments, culminating in when she spares a little boy on Kemir's request and then spends half the day carefully cooking a meal for him.
  • Possession Burnout: Eventually Siff.
  • Puny Earthlings: Dragons describe humans as "amusing food."
  • Pre-Ass Kicking One Liner: Little one, I am hungry.
  • Prophecy Twist: The prophecy that moves King of the Crags is as follows: And out of the sun shall come a white dragon, and with the white dragon a red rider. Thieves and liars shall quiver and weep, for the red rider's name shall be Justice, and the dragon shall be Vengeance. The prophecy does come true to an extent—there is a white dragon and there is a red rider ( Kemir) and thieves and liars do quiver and weep—along with the rest of the human race. But in reality, it's the white dragon that brings justice, and the red rider that brings vengeance.
  • Psychic Link: In the third book, Snow and Kemir develop one.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: It's been one of the few topics that the series has stayed unusually light on; but whenever we do see rape, it's treated as a Moral Event Horizon.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: If the pasts of Outsiders like Kemir and Siff are anything to go by, this is incredibly common even in peacetime.
  • The "Reason You Suck" Speech: Jehal gets two: an incredibly awesome one from Vale, and another one not long after from Snow
  • Rebellious Princess: Jaslyn. It doesn't end well.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Although not seriously believed, Hyram was actually correct when he maintained that King Tyan, Jehal's father, was being poisoned. However, he was wrong about it being Jehal doing it. It's actually Meteroa, Tyan's brother and Jehal's uncle and The Dragon.
  • Royally Screwed Up: Jehal's brother had a few...issues. Namely killing virtually his entire family and having an affair with his uncle.
  • Science Marches On: In the old days, a heap of people had to be sacrificed a week to keep the dragons under control. Now...
  • Servile Snarker: Meteroa.
  • Shut Up, Snow! Kemir again.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Skjorl.
  • Staring Down Cthulhu: Kemir regularly mocks and insults Snow, a dragon who thinks so little of him that she occasionally forgets that he's on her back and breaks his face.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Another deconstruction involving Skjorl. At first, during his chapters, Skjorl appears simply to be a hard-hearted but pragmatic Anti-Hero. However, when we see him through the eyes of other characters, he's as much a monster as the dragons he hunts, and that's even before we get to Scarsdale...
    • Likewise, known bad people such as Jehal, Zafir. become a lot more easy to like when we're in their head.
  • Telepathy: Dragons speak using this.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Vale and Jehal in the first three books embody this, but this trope is heavily deconstructed in The Black Mausoleum, where none of the main characters like each other at all.
  • Terse Talker: Skjorl.
  • Those Who Fight Monsters: Skjorl is compared several times throughout the fourth book as worse than a dragon, and he even admits it to himself in the book's climax.
    • The Dragon Queen goes further in this idea: the only way to tame the dragons is for riders to be as tough, as ruthless and as unyielding as the dragons they command. So in a retrospective, Skjorl is the ideal Adamantine Man. He was probably the same before the dragons awakened, the Crapsack World setting just brings out the worst of him.
  • Title Drop: Everyone wants to be in the Adamantine Palace. The King of the Worldspine is known as The King of the Crags. Dragons are kept drugged to their eyeballs by The Order of the Scales. The Black Mausoleum is also where everyone wants to be at.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Kataros, oh so much.
  • Villain Protagonist: A number, including the Picker, Kithyr and depending on your mileage, Meteroa, Zafir and Jehal.
  • We Have Become Complacent: Most humans don't even know that dragons are only kept dumb by potions, and most of the ones who do know don't care. Even after a whole bunch of dragons awaken and start blowing up castles, they're far more concerned about their petty power struggles, to the alchemists' dismay.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Bizarrely enough, Jehal of all people.
    Jehal: "I do wish you could have told me, just once, that you were proud of what I've done. That I'm not a monster like Calzarin."
  • What Happened to the Mouse? In-universe example. Vale and Zafir both wonder over what actually happened to Knight-Marshal Nastria.
  • What The Hell, Hero? A few examples, but the one that most stands out is when Snow prevents Kemir from raping a female dragon knight with a healthy helping of irony and "I told you so."
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Two examples. Jaslyn wilfully awakens Silence, believing he will be her Loyal Animal Companion. The next comes with Sakabian, who labours under the Everything but the Girl trope. Neither end well.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Snow's justification for throwing Kemir off a mountain and telling him she'll kill him. To be fair, she made that clear from the start.

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