Quintus Valerius Corvus was a figure in the days of the Old Empire.
He held the rank of Legatus.
"The insane goal of my masters will not - cannot - be achieved, and when the powers that be finally realize this, they will ascribe their own failure to incompetence on my part. Though I may not preserve my life, I will keep these notes both to reinforce my sanity and protect my good name."
"I was told that the construction at Al-Akia was completed only two years ago, but the pyramid is plainly much older than the other buildings. The Qantari are everywhere, like an infestation of desert worm. I do not like them and I do not trust them. I have made my opinions known to the High Magus, but he is buried in his research and oblivious to everything else.
"Apparently, he cannot generate sufficient Power to enact his mad scheme, which lends me the slight hope that whoever anointed this insufferable ass High Magus will one day find himself removed from his head by a very sharp blade. In any case the High Magus now spends his days scribbling “theoretical” (or “nonsensical”, to the layman) geometries and consulting with the Qantari. Imagine an Imperial High Magus sitting down with half-naked savages who paint themselves with blood! Disgrace upon disgrace."
"The High Magus and his imbeciles built have managed to assemble some contraption on top of the pyramid. And without a single one falling to his death, mores the pity. When I asked him what it was, he said the answer would be too much for my fragile mind. I considered that any mind would seem fragile under the blow of a war hammer, but I will save my wit for the report to the Senate.
"Predictably, the first two attempts were utter failures, generating not so much as a colored spark. The High Magus walks more quietly now, and speaks softly. He even appears to be avoiding me. I have begun a first draft of my findings for the Senate, but I must be careful not to show how gratified I am by this catastrophe. One more week I will give him, one week to tighten the noose yet further."
"It worked! The blasted, thrice-accursed, misbegotten whore of a machine worked. And it would have been my greatest triumph if not for the meddling of those knuckle-dragging primitives! The High Magus told me – me, a Legatus! – to oversee the installation of a “fail-safe” device as if I were some lowly mechanus.
"I delegated the task to the Qantari chief. Our translator, the only man other than the High Magus fluent in their abrasive tongue, had expired from the sting of a desert insect the week before, so that some few details may have been miscommunicated. In any event, the barbarian grinned at me with his filed teeth and assured me that my will would be done."
"Obviously, the device malfunctioned – truth be told I suspect they all knew it would not work. This drivel about a fail-safe was like as not a ploy to shift the blame to me – and the Power surge turned the three “champions” to charcoal. I thank whatever Gods the Magus is praying to that he wasn’t there to see it.
"I had a few of my personal slaves clean everything up and replaced the erstwhile champions with three soldiers under my command. Take note, dear reader, of the difference between a leader and a talker. I made this project work and when we ran into a problem, I found a solution. And unlike the great and mighty Magi it didn't take me years to do so."