They think it's all over

Somewhere in Spol

Freezeday, Illusion week, Fire season - evening (on the mundane)

Somewhere in Spol, in some castle basement or catacomb, behind ancient built walls covered with old hangings and tapestries displaying black dragons devouring knights or maidens, Devshira is lying on her couch, the room lit by a single brazier. She plays with a refined chiselled silver stick to excite the anger of a small black scorpion in a wooden box. When she hears the tinkling steps of a familiar presence, she casts a glance to the approaching silhouette. It’s a pretty blonde Dara Happan, one of the youngest witches of her Sabbat. Like all young novices, she is clothed in a simple black dress with, as a unique item of jewellery, firmly attached between her ankles, a light bronze chain equipped with tiny bells: no chance for her to surprise her mistresses. It’s quite unusual to find any Dara Happan among Spolite witches but Devshira is well placed to know that as giving birth and spreading life is a sin for the Lord of Evil’s Devotees, Spolite witches usually don’t reproduce naturally. As she remembers her name, she remembers that the young girl was stolen from a noble family when she was still a baby. If she survives her instruction, she will probably be sent back among her own people, to cast her shadows in the secret war, which true Spolites still fight ritually against the Solar Empire.

Like a fat satisfied cat observing a mouse, Devshira observes the novice’s face, notes with satisfaction her efforts to keep it emotionless and appreciates even more that she is fully able to read her like in an open book. Her stiff posture denotes her fear and the marks of old whip lashes on her shoulders and probably on her back are quite enough obvious explanations for this, but her wicked smile is the sign of a growing assurance. Devshira considers this and ponders if it could become the signal of some possible future danger. At the age of this young novice, Devshira had already successfully planned the indirect poisoning of her own tutoring witch, but she notices then the apprehensive hope in her glance: as long as the novice counts on the approbation of her elders, there will be some goodness in her to manipulate and to exploit to avoid any danger of rebellion.

"Speak clearly, Sister," Devshira invites.

"The black squadron for which we made our sacrifices during all these years is back, dreadful Devshira," the novice answers simply.

"They are waiting for Devshira in the pentagram?" the witch inquires, suddenly interested.

"No they departed immediately after having made their report...” answers the novice, now openly anxious.

"They departed before reporting to Devshira… to where?!” Devshira exclaims, this time surprised.

"They said they were going to complain to Deshlotralas. They were… hmmm... hurt."

"Hurt? By Yelm’s putrid entrails, how can Deshlotralas’ black squadron get hurt?"

"I don’t know, your Cruelty. Some of them were missing limbs..."

"Impossible, no mortal can beat them! And certainly not a sixteen year old lost bastard, it would require a full army of heroes and even so..." Devshira now displays obvious signs of fury and the novice suddenly regrets the curiosity she had when she volunteered to announce the news.

"Did they bring back the medallion?" Asks the ageless woman, as her malign mind begins to assess the extent of her failure after all these years of constant efforts.

"No, neither did they bring back the bastard’s soul... They certify that they killed him but they lost his tracks in the afterlife, they said."

Devshira’s eyes narrow as she interprets the novice’s words. "Which probably means that after having been taken away, the medallion has found its place back on the corpse, perhaps in the bastard’s sepulchre... and we will definitively lose it if we don’t find where this ever-lucky bastard has died and been buried... Did the Jukhars say anything about that?"

"They said cryptically that the target has died in a right place..."

"Knowing their way, Devshira would bet on something like a cemetery, which doesn’t help us a lot..."

Struggling with frustration and rage, the mistress-witch is now considering throwing the small black scorpion on the novice just for the pleasure of destroying this disrespectful messenger, but a Dara Happan witch is too valuable a pawn to be destroyed just to calm her down. A whipping will be more meaningful for her. Instead, ignoring the poisonous threat, she crushes the small darkness creature with her single thumb. Scorpions can easily be replaced and the amazed look of the novice watching the sting biting her hand uselessly is another source of pleasure: already a good lesson for this stupid blonde heifer.

Retrieving her cold senses is a good thing, as inspiration comes back immediately to her. "If the Bastard just died, it means that we have seven days to retrieve his soul before it’s gone beyond our grip..." Devshira thinks aloud. "Then... I know the place where I can find it for sure..."

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