Trail of Ashes (2020) - full transcript

The search for the empress's daughter reunites two long lost brothers who grew up on opposite sides of a war and now must choose between family bonds and political alliances.

Can you hear me?

I am eternal, always present.

Though you may silence me,
I am not gone.

You may see me,
but I cannot be touched.

I am inside you,
but not by choice.

Who am I?

She arrived two centuries ago.

A red scorpion

mounted on a steed.

And along with her, destruction.

Wave after wave, they
enveloped the Holy Mountain,

our home...

until nothing remained.

upon the tombs of our ancestors...

they built their city.

They called it Num,
capital of the Lothos Empire.

Now, after centuries of sleep,

the Holy Mountain declares
war on the city

as fire dances far and above.

The empire grows vulnerable as trade
dwindles and the economy collapses.

Few of us managed to survive,

but from beneath the ash,

we take back our home.


You can speak
in your own tongue, if you want.

I won't report you.


Ranieri Alvala.

And where are you from, Ranieri?


How long have you been a quill?

An year.

This will only put you to sleep.

It won't hurt.

I promise.

- Please, don't.
- Listen.


You are not my enemy.

But you are the one they sent.

And I need a way in.

Please, don't go.
Please, don't go!

Don't go, come back!

Come back!

Dear Silas...

the time for sorrow is over.

The ashes from the Holy Mountain
guide our path to victory.

And we must not hesitate.

I'm sure by now
word has reached you

regarding the identity
of the prisoner.

Do not tangle with hope,

not inside the scorpion's lair.

The boy you remember
as your brother is dead,

reshaped as a pawn
of the empress.

Focus on your mission, Silas.

Find the girl.

She is all that matters.

With gratitude,

Crow Council.

Please, listen.

This afternoon,

we received news
that another girl went missing.

This time on Hindas.

This is the fourth girl
in the past two weeks.

The crown in offering
five queens

to anyone who possesses
any information

that could lead to her rescue.

Since we, at the One-Eyed Deer,

have no golden,
nor silver coin to offer,

we promise you free drinks
until you're flat on your belly!

Celebrate! Thank you, everybody.

They told me that someone
is on his way.

You were the last person
I expected to see.

There's not many of us left.


How is the garden?

The owner has not reported
the plant stolen.

But I'm still looking forward
for some people pointing fingers.

Nobody knows
what is going on up there.

That is why you really need
to be extremely careful.

You know him?

The prisoner?

- I do.
- Ah.

I don't know how they approved.


I know what you can do.

You can even pull this one off.

But you need
to remember me that...

you'll always be that jittery
kid that we need to rescue.

I know.

Will you stay awhile?

They are expecting me
back at the palace.

I'll report back in two days.

Very well.

How am I supposed
to call you now?




May Chance ever be at your side.

And yours.

As if our days
were not bleak enough.

The ash is like
rubbing salt on a wound.

I am the Empress Voice.

And usually...

not the one doing the waiting.

Forgive the delay.

My name is Ranieri Alvala.

I am Master Louis's replacement.

We received the message
that he had taken ill

on account of the ash.

I thought if...

I arrived on a full stomach,

I wouldn't waste
the royal food supplies.

One less plate for me is...

another one for the Empress.

That's the reason for the delay?

We have plenty of food.

Enough to survive
the Holy Mountain.

What have you heard?


there is talk of a drought.

And the state of trade routes

between the southern kingdoms
and the empire are unknown.

People are worried.

I can assure you
there's nothing to worry about.

Do you know what case
you will be handling?

I do not.

What do you know
about the inquisitors?

Not much, I am afraid.

People have different
ideas about them.

Elite guards, ghosts...


"If you misbehave, the Empress
will send an inquisitor after you."

If I am the Empress's voice,

the inquisitors
are certainly her hands.

They have no names.

No family.

And they live
only to serve the Empress.

Like trained animals?

Oh, they do receive
some education.

Taught to speak many languages.

You may think that's ironic,

but while we are allowed
to speak only the common tongue,

most of our enemies
whisper in foreign ones.

One of our inquisitors
turned on us.

He went...


He gained access to the
Empress's daughter and took her.

We managed
to contain the situation.

The last thing we need right now
is chaos on the streets.

Is he the prisoner?

The inquisitor?

We found him deep in the forest

a couple of days ago.


no trace of the girl.

Has he said anything?

Here you will find every information
we have on the inquisitor.

As a matter of precaution,

you are not allowed
to leave this room

while in possession
of these records.

Tomorrow you will have your
first visit with the prisoner.

The Empress will be present.

I trust you remember
your decorum?

I am not to stare
or address her directly.

How long have you been a quill?

About a year.

Tomorrow, then.

Your holiness wishes
to know the location of her daughter.

To beg is beneath her.

We have brought a quill today.

You will answer
his every question.

You will be concise
and truthful.

The crown has been
good to you, inquisitor.

It's the very least you can do.

Should you refuse to answer,

your eyes shall be cut out
and fed to you,

so that you may taste
your lack of perception.

I know that torture
is not part of your job,

but you have our permission
to do whatever is necessary

to get the truth out of him.

My name is Ranieri Alvala.

I'm a member of the Quill.

Employed by Your Holiness,

Empress Mara II.

I am here to take
your official testimony

on the events that led to and...

culminated in your imprisonment.

My job dictates
that I make an assessment

based on the information
I gather here.

Though the Empress
will have the last word...

this assessment can
and will affect your sentence.

You are the one they call Mute.

I know you can speak.

I am here to help.

Maybe you were...

blackmailed by the enemy.

Or the Empire.

Maybe you just...

lost your way.

I understand you have no kin.

I am an orphan as well.

Lost my family when I was young.


The accusations
against you are...


There will be a rope around
your neck before you know it.

I am on your side.

But I need to know...

what happened.

Where's the Empress's daughter?

She is dead.

You are lying.




She's dead!

Come on, quill,
let us handle this.

In a moment.

Out, quill!

Tomorrow, then?


I would have told him,
"Remember me? I'm your brother."

You kiss, you hug,
you gain his trust

and you get the location
of the girl.

He's not there.

I might as well
be talking to a wall.

They took another girl today.

Not two miles from here.

And this is not us
doing these ones.


Two weeks ago, we intended to do

the very thing
that worries you now.

Yes, but this is us.

Because we are so much better?

We were never going
to hurt that girl.

She was just leverage.

Do you know
how many prophecies we have?

- Too many.
- And how many of them have become true?


Except for this one,

"From beneath the ash,

we'll take back what is ours."

The Holy Mountain did its part,

now the rest depends on us.

You need to finish your job
so I can finish mine,

which is to keep track
of your damn job!

Now, tomorrow
you go back to that cell

and make him talk.

Girls are disappearing
throughout the Empire.

I'm guessing it is related
to this situation.

Who are you?

Someone who wants to help.

I will be dead in four days.

If you're honest...

I can make a compelling
argument in your favor.

It is my fate.

I accept it.

My mind is not my own...

but my heart is.

I will tell you what I saw.

Two days...

before the girl was taken...

I'd just finished
my last assignment...

as an inquisitor.

Your dagger is broken.

- It works.
- I'm not sure I like your tone.

I heard what happened.

Eight stabs is seven too many.

It's not our way.

The crows are advancing.

- Our reports says they are...
- Kill her.

Grab her by the neck
and strangle her.

Don't listen.

I know...

I broke our deal.

I spoke too soon.

I need some time.


Take that dagger
to the blacksmith.

And report
back to me in two days.

At dawn.

- Understood?
- Yes.

Look. Just in time.

Allow me to formally introduce
her royal highness Lina.

The Empress's daughter.

She just turned
ten years of old,

and will soon begin her five
winters with the inquisitors.

This is the one we call Mute.

Don't worry, he can speak now.

Her Majesty has some questions
for the five inquisitors.

For example.

What is your specialty?


How many people have you killed?

Go ahead.

Teel the truth.

You had no choice.

- Fifty?
- Liar.

That's modest of you.

Have you ever been
deep in the forest?

And is it true
that it is haunted?

Yes, I've been in the forest.

And no,
I don't think it is haun...

Are you pleased?

A thousand
crackles celebrated my birth.

Are you here to honor me
after all these years?

They are serious
about this recipe.

Believe me.

I tried to get it out of them.

There is no need for this.


She is trying to get rid of you.

That remedy
will destroy your mind.


You've been coming more often.

And taking trevilia in this form

can be very dangerous.

This will be the last time...

for at least a few weeks.





Marco, there's nothing on you.

There's nothing on you...

I will see you in a while.


The flower?

Are you referring to the monks?

The ones on the mountain's peak?

I used to accompany my mother.

They have many healing herbs.

They prepare trevilia
in such a way that...

it is not harmful to the person.

But still retain
some of its effects.

Did they know about the voices?

The inquisitors?

I'm guessing they did not know
about the talos woman either.

Swindlers, spies...

traders of secrets.

They are a poison to any city.

I made sure nobody knew.


Marco, wake up.

Marco, wake up. Marco.

I think you need to go back.

There was an attack
on the palace last night.

The Empress?

No, her daughter.

Help me up.

They saw the First Inquisitor head
into the forest two hours ago.


Now you seek my help?

Ungrateful child.

One death is
not enough to save her.

You'd be in my debt.

It's late. Time to go.

You don't remember him?

Not much.

He was devout.

To your father it wasn't simply
about the occasional gathering.

It was a calling.

He predicted that the revolution
would occur during our lifespan.

I was skeptical.

But then...

the people kept saying this
during centuries.

And look where we are now.

You told him?


See that man over there?

He could drink a whole barrel
of ale all by himself.

Great for the business.

But very bad
for the wife and the kids.

He wished the thing away.

He cursed it, but he fall on it
over and over again.

Now he's playing
a more dangerous game.

Trying to assert
his control over it,

but from some distance,
which is an illusion.


doesn't mean
that you have any control.

Control is knowing

how to measure.

I'm in control.

This is a royal decree
from Her Holiness.

We are about to search
every inch of this place.

You shall not move.

You shall not speak.

If you catch a glimpse
of my inquisitors,

she or he will be the last thing
you will ever see.

So, please...

stay calm.

What is a quill doing here?

We have a bar
inside the palace, you know.

Unless you prefer this...


Good boy.

You may continue
your festivities.

Second visit this week.

Third bloodbath.

Do you ever feel regret
after killing someone?

Like the crows in the forest?

The crow tribe
is part of the history

of the Lothos Empire.

History describes them as...


But I think
they are more than that.

They are savages.

Is that
what they taught you here?

Bring him back

from the chasms of your mind.

Embrace him.


Embrace me.



You may continue.

Look at her.

She could not save her family,

nor protect Her Young Highness.

What is the worth of a title,

if one cannot fulfill
its duties?

She is now a stain in the line
of First Inquisitors.

She will carry that burden
for the rest of her life.

Be a good soul.

End it.


I told you to report back.

They are going
to be looking for us.

I disobeyed her.

She just stood there.

Her daughter was just taken
and she wouldn't give the order.


For the pain.

I failed Lina.

Twice now.

She had been ill
these last few months.

The Empress grew distant.

They were bringing in doctors.

I felt useless.

I was in charge
of her protection.


how do you protect someone
from themselves?

She was ill?

An affliction of some sort.

You are going after them?


Help me up.

What do you see?

Don't fight it. Embrace it.

The price your mind pays
exceeds the cost of my silence.

We need to move along.


The same rules
of conduct apply here.

You will do
as you are instructed.

This is just another assignment.

You have been granted
a great honor, inquisitor.

Like no lowly man
has ever been granted before.

Remove your mask.

Who was that?



This is not a game.

I need you to answer plainly.

Who was that?

I told you what I saw.

What are you doing here so late?

Can I have some wine?

You came all the way here, in the
middle of the night, to drink some wine?

They have a bar at the palace.

I spend all day
surrounded by imperials.

I'd rather be here.

Very well.

I want to help him.

You have...

a mission.


I know.

The girl is all that counts now.

He could still be useful.

Listen. I... I feel you.

And like you, most people here

have lost someone
to that witch in the palace.

The girls is
our only chance to destroy her.

I never thought
you were the right man

for this assignment.

I'm going to ask
for an audience.

An audience with whom?

The Emperor.

You have access to him?

He hasn't been seen
with the Empress in ages.

What are you planning?

Not sure.


if you stay a while longer,
we... we can come up with a plan.


I just want to finish this wine.


Highness, I am a quill.

I have a few questions for you.


It is urgent, Highness.

Stop calling me that.

Would you happen
to have a knife?

So I can cut you some carrots.


What good are you then?

It's regarding your daughter.


How is she?

When was the last time
you saw her?

I don't know.

I can't really
tell time in here.

She was bigger.

Bigger than
the last time I saw her.

Perhaps a month ago.

We had dinner.

Roasted turkey.

Merotian wine.

The bread.

Who was present at this dinner?


Mara, her voice.

Servants, etcetera.

I can't remember exactly.

Except that Lina was acting
a wee bit strange.



She was, um...

saving the bones
of a turkey we ate.

Conversing with them.


Did anyone else react to this?

Mara kept ignoring her behavior.

So I intervened...

and ended up in this cage.


Pretty, isn't it?

I wasn't really allowed to see
her as much as I would've liked.

But I did care for the lass.

Considering she wasn't...

Well, you know.

I told Louis...

about my suspicions.

What suspicions?

Don't insult me.

You already know.


We all know she is not mine.

Infernal wife.

I destroyed kingdoms
for her hand.

And she deemed it...

irrelevant to our marriage.

My one job.

And now...

the Great Terror of nations...

tamed, fatherless lion.

You said it was urgent.
Get on with it.

Lina was kidnapped two weeks ago.

I was told not to divulge
any information to you.

Devil's cow.
Feeds off my misery.

As you can see.

Are you going to find Lina?

My job as a quill is to prove

if the prisoner
is guilty or innocent...

It's not about jobs.

Naturally, in the process,

I hope to find more information
about her whereabouts.

I'd like to help.

But there's not much
a fallen God can do from a tomb.

Leave me.

And don't think
for one second...

that she doesn't know exactly
what we've talked about here.

Good night, quill.


He never talked about his job.

Only that it involved protecting
someone powerful in the city.

And how long have you known
about the voices?

That's what let me
to him in the first place.

And you've been
treating him ever since?

What he has is beyond me.

Trevilia helped for some time.

But that flower is also known
to have harmful effects.

He's gotten worse.

So I don't know
if I'm helping him.

The crime he was charged with...

you were with him that night.

You can speak in favor
of his innocence.

Then why is he in prison?

The timing of the events were
somewhat inconvenient for him.

I want to help him.


important to me.

Then you are 20 years too late.

Soon enough,
it will become second nature.

Every night,
before going to bed,

you will be brought here,
so you can say your prayers.


I'm glad to see you here.

This is Lina.

The Empress's daughter.

This man right here is a quill.

They provide hope and justice
throughout the Empire.

Though some people
are well beyond saving.

I was about to teach Lina
of her ancestor.

The founder of the Empire

and how she ruled
with a steady hand.

With a steady spear, you mean.

A different time.

Now that we are at peace,

we protect our people
with laws and regulations.

Oh, I wasn't criticizing
her methods.

At least you know the person
holding the spear wants to harm you.

Shall we go visit the library?

Very well.

Are you ready
for your assessment tomorrow?


The assessment is in four days.

Now that the princess is safe...

she can simply point
to the man responsible.

May I have a word?

In private.

Wait for me outside, dear.

I thought they wore their veil
after their coronation.

What do you want?

What any quill wants.


You are young still.

In time,

you will realize
how flexible justice really is.

It's fine.

I have orders to stay.

I can assure you,
I'm in no danger.

I have my orders,
you have yours.

It seems...

we are a little short in time.

If I am to help you,

I'm going to need every detail.


I wanted to thank
you for being here.

Excuse me.

Watch it!


I felt dizzy.

It must be the ash.

I want to thank you
for being here...

and watching over my back.

You were promised to me.


What was that?

We are blessed, Marco.

The gods have chosen our family.

The gods tell me themselves.


You will help reclaim our home

from bad people
that took it from us.

you will learn about sacrifice.

The food I put on the table
does not fall from the sky.

Sometimes, to give life...

we must take.


For the gods.

And one for us.

Take out your knife.

Go on.

Take out your knife!

Get a hold of yourself.

She needs us.

They are close.

Can you hear their song?

- Save her.
- They baptize their queen.

The one who will give
them back their home.

Do you not find it amusing?

Time rewarded their patience
with a rotten gift.

Not rotten,


Help her.


settle your debt.


The First Inquisitor.

What happened to them?


The voices...

they scream.

Make it stop.



It's me.

Do you know who I am?


It's me.

They found a replacement.

They will do whatever they can

to make sure
she doesn't come back.

What did you...

Look at him.

Risking everything
for something long lost.

You are both pathetic crows.

Unworthy of my guidance.

When you die, no crows
will come to take you home.

You will wander
the afterlife alone!

She wanted to help him.


Not this time, little brother.



A guard dead.

A quill unconscious.

I got careless.

That's so unlike you.

I know.

Another quill
is coming to the city.

He will arrive
the day after tomorrow.

I think they weren't convinced
about your performance,

so I have to smuggle you out.

- When?
- This afternoon.

- Fine.
- Listen.

If all this is true,
about your brother and her,

the crows will have
a claim to the throne.

She's also family.

And the heir.

And my family.

Good evening.
How may I help you?

I'm looking for the location...

Is there somewhere we can talk?

Yes, of course.

Please, led the way.