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So I stalled a little while after starting the game last month and haven't been able to bring myself to play again.

I claimed the first spire, siding with the Vendrien Guard and told the chorus/disfavored to ESAD... but when I was making plans with the guard I made it very clear that they were simply following me etc and they weren't actually re-establishing their little city-state or whatever.

What I assumed could happen was my character making a third faction, still loyal to the empire, but a little more autonomous than the rest of it. Basically the army of misfits.

...Except every time I went to deal with another nearby matter and gather more followers it was all 'Join me in the fight against Kyros!'

Which is a fine story branch, but not what I wanted to do. I also don't want to just slaughter everybody.

Is there a way to save the guard and not betray the empire?


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It doesn't matter which side you choose, you'll have to :
a) rebell against Kyros
b) slaughter everyone else outside your faction


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I'd say that 1. you can't rebel against Kyros (Myothis' letters point at that); 2. and suggest to break the alliance with the Vendrien Guard. From there most of fractions will consider you as an independent agent of justice.