I keep reading over Ash's report, trying to wrap my mind around it. It could only have been Marcus's idea...brilliant, but completely insane...even by my standards. What keeps me from declaring war on Count Belhaven now is that as extreme as the plan was, the End did indeed justify the Means...and it worked.
Marcus, Gematria, and Koen sacrificed themselves when they crashed the Midas into Winterfell. They had already mapped out the coordinates where they would arrive in the next realm...Erebus. From there, he convinced the former subjects of the Obsidian King that he was Bloodwing reborn (being a hybrid clone, he is at least partially correct), arrived with his children to defeat the Hydra and assume the crown. The three of them amassed the remnants of the Imperial Guard to contain the Hydra.
And of course, they kept the Sisterhood and myself completely in the dark, for our own safety.
My reanimation of Koen almost lost the war. His immortal self, the Vortex, resisted being drawn towards the light, but the mortal incarnation of Koen was brought back...without the demon's latent abilities, and without my genetic code. He was in such a state when I found him that only the Bloodtail pattern, and none of his human ancestry through me, survived reanimation. He is a neko separated from his ka. He has none of his "nine lives" to fall back on, he is as mortal as any human.
That is why Ash gave me an inert, useless soul chip...to keep me from pulling Gematria as well away from the battle on the other side of the Styx.
Count Diablo jeopardized everything. He not only pulled Marcus back to this world, but allowed the Hydra itself...not just a head or two, mind you, but the whole mountain-sized abomination...a chance to escape to this world.
Marcus saved Belhaven, but lost his chance to rule Erebus in the process. My guess is the Hydra was immobilized on the other side when it was forcing its way through the portal. Were Vortex and Gem able to seize on the Hydra's weakness? Did they defeat the Hydra? Can we bring them back? Do they even want to come back, or are they now so embroiled with Ereb'ai politics that they seize the throne for themselves...or fight each other for it?
I must journey to Belhaven to find out what Marcus knows. I don't know what sort of person he's turned into since I opened my soul to him. Maybe he has a conscience now. Maybe he doesn't use it. There's only one way to find out.