From a message from Admiral Tiberius of the 7th Imperial fleet to General Quinn, leader of Imperial operations on Shadow; intercepted by Anthony Biggs, communications officer for the Army of the Alliance.
I’ve just finished reading your report, and I’m sorry to hear of your defeat at New Sandrith. While the operation was more intended to test the strength and response time of the new dragonborn government than to actually take Shadow, I had held out some hope for your success. I also regret that this is the first you’ve heard of your mission’s true purpose, though you may have already guessed it. When the Empire finally sets its sights on Shadow, we will bring far more than five whale ships and a few hundred men.
You performed your task admirably and cut your losses at an appropriate time. Your negotiation for the return of your imprisoned soldiers was well done, and the reported losses looked acceptable to me. While Engin and Ortwin will be sorely missed, we always knew that not everyone would return from this venture.
Caelius, however, is a thorn removed from the 7th fleet’s side. Though your report indicated that you had no prior knowledge of his suicidal and unsupported surprise attack on New Sandrith’s watchtower fortress, the end result was not at all regrettable. Despite his rank among us, he was a liability to the Empire, and one that I thought had been dealt with previously.
Most interesting was your report regarding the support the dragonborn received from the Platinum Knights. While we knew of their involvement in taking the planet from the Cult of Setesh, we had not anticipated so many having remained on-world. It is not common to see five of them working together outside of a major military action. Perhaps we underestimate their dedication to the continued independence of the dragonborn people.
To answer the question you asked in the personal letter attached to your report, no, I did not know of the spies in New Sandrith. Engin must have arranged for those on his own, and none of his reports more than vaguely allude to the man you saw standing on the bridge or the other operative responsible for the theft of our golem. As both disappeared along with the mechanical monstrosity, I have cause to wonder what their true motivations were. More information than that was taken with Engin to his grave.
Finally, I must admit my failure to inform you of the changing loyalties of the Blue Shield mercenaries. We had no knowledge that one of their teams had been dispatched to aid the defense of New Sandrith. I know you would rather fight an honourable battle in which everyone’s loyalties are known to his enemies, but I do not regret the circumstances of their defection. My only regret is their lack of success. Those that survive must now be bargained for with the Emperor’s coin, and I don’t doubt that the dragonborn will ask a heavy price.
Return with all haste to the 7th. Shadow can wait for another day, and rest assured that it will fall into Imperial hands in good time. But for now, the Emperor has another objective for us, and we have received the transfer of a number of seasoned soldiers to replace those lost on Shadow. We must continue our work of unification for the betterment of the spheres. Long live the Emperor!
Biggs’s note: Admiral Tiberius’s claim that he had no knowledge of traitors within New Sandrith is at odds with intercepted missives from him to Engin, an Imperial commander who met his end on Shadow. Their correspondence indicates that the traitor John Kyton had been promised a plot of land on Shadow if he aided Imperial forces in the taking of the city. As for other saboteurs, a young woman representing a spellfilching guild associated with the Greater Elven Consortium was contracted to awaken and instruct the warforged titan employed by the Empire during the siege of New Sandrith. Other intelligence suggests that this young woman was being compelled against her will in some way, though her motivations are now inconsequential. Allusions to another traitor placed on the Ruling Council of New Sandrith were also made, though the specific person is never mentioned by name.