Dien was fostered from his own family to that of their liege and grew up being instructed in the correct way of ruling and the responsibilities of rulership. Many of his relatives were killed during the Twelve Year War, and he nursed a desire for revenge against the Wasp Empire. Looking further afield for allies, he was asked to go to the Lowlands, and Collegium in particular to make contact. Amongst the locals he is known as Salma. He fell in with Stenwold Maker and identified an enemy of the wasps. His circle of friends, and Prowess Forum Team, includes Cheerwell Maker, Tynisa and Totho.
Empire in Black and GoldEdit
Salme Dien, informally known as Salma, is a member of the Prowess Forum dueling team The Magnificent Felbling alongside Cheerwell Maker, Tynisa and Totho. He uses the duels as training for his life as an agent of Stenwold Maker. Salma is sent off to Helleron with Che, Totho and Tynisa on the Sky Without, Cheerwell replacing Stenwold to avoid capture by Wasp agents. Unfortunately discovered anyway near the end of the flight, Salma and the others abandon the airship in a fixed-wing flyer and make their way into Helleron on foot. He and Cheerwell manage to stay together after their meeting with their contact Bolwyn turns out to be a trap and the others scatter. Che takes him to her cousin, Elias Monger, at his townhouse. He treats them as guests, then takes them out to one of his houses near his mine holdings. Elias, however, sells them to Rekef officer Thalric, who drags them off with runaway slaves to Asta. En route Salma is enchanted by the butterfly-kinen woman Grief in Chains, and then the three are taken to Myna on the same heliopter. Eventually he is rescued by Stenwold and his allies from the dungeons of the wasp governor's palace, but pines for Grief. As the group returns towards Helleron, he decides that he needs to follow the Wasp army were she was last seen and heads off towards Tark, with Skrill, a halfbreed Mynan/Skater-kinden guide. The pair are joined by Totho, who has left the rest of the group, and approach Tark to find it besiged by the Wasp Empire's Fourth Army.
Outside Tark Salma, Totho and Skrill are captured by Tarkesh scouts who bring them as prisoners into the city. After a brief interrogation they are freed and assist in the defense of the city against the Imperial 4th Army, the Barbs, from a wall-tower commanded by Parops, a Tarkesh Ant-kinden commander considered ecclectic by his people for his slightly independent thinking. They meet Nero, a Fly-kinden artist and friend of Parops' who is also an old friend of Stenwold's. Salma participates in the defense against airborne waves of Wasp-kinden shock troops, the Hornet-kinden, and kills their commander.
After Totho discerns that the Wasps are building airships which will be able to bomb Tark from above without fear of counter-attack as a previous wave of Wasp attackers had deliberately tragetted Tark's air defenses, a desperate mission is concocted to slip into the Wasp camp and sabotage the airships. Salma accompanies the strike-team who use an underground tunnel to emerge into the Wasp camp, and as an Ant soldier on a suicide mission distracts the guards the rest carry timed bombs into the airfield. Salma helps by killing the guards but the mission fails when a whole wave of fresh guards arrive to defend the airfield before any of the bombs can be detonated. Attempting to escape Salma is impaled by a Wasp soldier and lies dying on the edge of the airfield.
Salma is found by the Daughters of Mercy, an organization of Wasp women who train as healers and tend the Wasp wounded. Among them is Grief in Chains, now renamed Aagen's Joy since briefly belonging to him in Myna, and she takes Salma in for healing, using her Art to keep him alive. Brought back from the brink of death he faces life as a Wasp slave, until Totho trades Salma's freedom for entering service as an Auxilian-Artificer in the Wasp army. Salma resists Totho's sacrifice, but the deal had already been made.
Salma is secreted away from the Wasp camp by members of the Broken Sword, an anti-war movement within the Wasp army. In the wilds west of Tark he falls in with a group of displaced war-refugees and becomes their de-facto leader after driving off a brutal Beetle named Cosgren who terrorized the group. The group is found by a group of bandits led by a Mynan Soldier-Beetle named Phalmes, and Salma barters with the bandits leading to them joining the refugees. The men were forced to become bandits by circumstance, being former Auxilians of the Wasps who had escaped. Phalmes becomes Salma's second-in-command due to his militay experience.
As the group heads west towards Sarn, which is soon to come under attack by the Wasp 7th Army, they grow in numbers as more displaced people join them. They protect small settlements from bandit raids in return for food and shelter, and it is after the first such fight that Phalmes finds an Ant-made shortsword for Salma to use, replacing the weapon he lost at Tark.