Entering the ruin, it was evident that this building consisted of a single room- though the original function of this place long-forgotten, it didn't matter. They sought the doorway in the far side- shimmering with violet light, marked with crackles of blue lightning. Misty shadows rolled along the ground, lending itself to the eerie atmosphere within.
"Fortunately for us, this is a permanently open portal. If it was not, we might have difficulty... I'm fairly certain neither of us knows how to create such things." Lord Taco and Vendetta stepped through together. The trip appeared hazy, a violet-washed blur... Just as they adjusted, their vision cleared; a rather pleasant room greeted them. Polished wood shone bright against various torches and candles set about for light. In the center of the room, a round table with three seats awaited. Each chair had a place set out- and a wide array of food decorated the middle. Clearly, they had been expected.
"It appears as if we were expected by this Lady. I wonder where she is..."
"I'm afraid I know not more than you, Lady Vendetta."
"All we can do is keep to ourselves, until they arrive."
"Very fortunate for you, you need not wait too long." A new voice filtered into the room, causing heads to turn. Standing in the doorway were two people, a man and a woman. The man was quite tall, wiry in body with extremely vivid red hair. He stood rigid, looking down at the group. Beside him, a woman a good half-foot shorter stood there. The man strode in, paying the newcomers little mind.
Quietly she walked in, a picture of elegance and beauty. Crimson satin draped her body in the form of a long skirt and corset; black spiderweb silk lent accent, draped over the skirt and as a veil. Obsidian hair tumbled, wavy waterfalls framing her lovely face. Glittering sapphire eyes regarded everyone- and she gave off a soft smile. "Please, have a seat- help yourselves. I know travels can be long, and perilous." The man, still rigid and silent, drew a chair for her. Once everyone was seated, food was given out.
"You are most kind to us, Lady Silversorrow. We appreciate the hospitality shown here."
"Please, Lady Selina is sufficient." At his nod, she smiled a bit deeper. "I'm afraid I did not catch anyone's names."
"Forgive my lack of manners, Lady Selina. My name is Jayce, though this group has taken to calling me Lord Taco. It's a story for another time."
"Very well... and what about yourself?"
"...Vendetta." Her voice barely could be heard. She was eyeing the woman, as if the two had met sometime before...
"As you already know, I am Lady Selina Silversorrow. This gentleman here is Zakir, my butler. Please forgive him- he is a man laconic... and of short temper." Lady Selina smiled in amusement as Zakir exhaled sharply. It seemed easy to needle him- though Vendetta felt doing such would be unwise. All three dined, two of them silently inquisitive of the Lady's motive. Conversation light in temperament dominated the dining table, mostly idle chit-chat. Servants came in and out, seeing to everyone's needs. After some time, table contents cleared, Zakir led the trio to an adjoining room.
This room was much nicer- the polished wood aesthetic carried over, but velvet and spiderweb silk lent an elegant softness. Soft chaises and chairs decorated the room, alongside a fireplace dominating the far wall. A familiar-yet-strange floral scent wove its way through the air, mingling with a very familiar sweet scent. Blood-red wine, apple cider and a cold, watery-ink colored drink were offered. To compliment this, small tarts were set out on a table within reach. Lady Selina took very good care of her guests.
"For those curious, it's blackberry juice." Nods all around, as people were satisfied with the explanation. Lady Selina sighed; business was never something she enjoyed discussing.
"Right, to business. As it may be known, Prince Rolan and the Deathless Watch preside over the city. Greed and corruption plague their ranks... In truth, the'll be trouble for us- especially early on. Damnable Deathless, extracting bribes... Beating, and killing innocents. Running the Tempered District and Fettered Ward... even have control over the Shattered Isles." Here, Lady Selina relaxed herself once more, and re-gained composure.
"You're trying to reign in the chaos, so to speak, I presume?"
"Something to that effect, yes."
Both of them took that in. Lady Selina took the chance to explain further. "The Shadowfell descends into chaos and anarchy. Crime runs overly rampant. People corrupted, devious, sadistic. Evil is taking over; hope, civility and good are dying fast. I reached out to many, seeking anyone who would help restore these things to a scattered people...
You are the ones who heeded my call. For this, I thank you- very few would traverse to such a place. What I ask is a great deal- spread a message of hope, civility and good in these lands. In this, we also..." Here she trailed off, and Vendetta spoke up.
"Seek to end the Deathless watch. And all who side with them."
Lady Selina looked over, in amusement and surprise. Flickering darkness told Vendetta she was right on the mark. Taking her opportunity, she pressed her advantage.
"Asking us to both be a force of light and shadow is a lot, my Lady." Here, she addressed the other. "The best tactic- divide and conquer. My Lord, you can spread your message of civilization, peace and community. Lady Selina and I will destroy the Deathless."
"I see a concern, Lady Vendetta- and Lady Selina. This is not something I can condone. Many things I'm willing to see beyond- but murder, and high treason? These are things I cannot accept."
"Is it truly murder, if their blood is shed in war- after being given a chance to join us in peace? Can it be called high treason, when their Prince wields no control? We of the Dust Quarter hold the real influence. Most all within feel it is time for a better way- and we're willing to do what it takes."
"It's the deception and darkness that disturb me. That is no way to handle anything, and it never was! I cannot stand for this, and-"
"Darkness IS our light; this is what we do." His eyes flicked to hers, as she cut him off. She got to her feet, staring with her intense amethyst gaze. "And yes, it seems wrong- it's equally wrong to let corruption reach a point where outside intervention is required. At this point, reason is gone; a few decent souls may remain, but the rest need to be destroyed- like burning a decayed forest, for new growth."
"...I know not how to answer that, Lady Vendetta. I-"
"-Have only been taught a certain way. Light is good, dark is evil. Straightforward conflict, this is the way you embrace. Honorable, to be sure. Not all in these worlds are honorable, however; the Deathless Watch most certainly is not. They deceit, cheat, steal, cause great suffering and more. We fight darkness with darkness- the difference being, theirs is murky with malevolence. Ours is pure, full of fire and hope.
If you still stand against us, after all this... make sure I'm in Raven's embrace. Same with Lady Selina. This woman, of her own accord, reached out to us. When a people's rulers fail them, you do what is right for the people. I believe she- with our help- can redeem the Shadowfell. And I'll stand by her until my death."
By the end, all eyes were on her. Shock registered upon every single face in that room; it seemed the ice-cold, sullen woman he'd traveled with had quite a bit of fire buried deep within. Intense her stare was, locked onto Lord Taco's astonished glance. Nobody knew what to say; the silence stretched, eternities filling that void. All the while, the revelations laid out still resonated deep within. Eventually, with a soft voice, Lord Taco spoke once more.
"...I'd never suspected that much fire laid deep within... Ladies, please- forgive me. I was... misguided in my earlier judgement. Lady Vendetta is rather accurate in her claims; my worldviews could be perceived as... limited. Justice, honor, clarity- these are carried in light. I have forgotten... one person's darkness is another's light. And not all deal in honor."
All eyes shifted to Lady Selina. Vendetta was the one who broke the next silence. "How shall we go about doing all that needs to be done?"
"We will travel into the Temple District, Drowned Quarter, Shattered Isles, and the lands beyond. Much needs to be done- supplies are being brought in from the Inky Seas, and from my own lands. We shall rebuild the worst parts. Guide those lost in faith once more- though I'm sure embracing the ways of the Raven may be difficult. If we are careful..."
"The Raven Queen, Moradin and Pelor would coexist, Lady Selina."
"Exactly. We could use some good influence here." Everyone began to relax once more. "As required, healing would be administered. Rare is the instance we revive the dead, but if it is needed... the Raven Queen will make her will known. We will also require intel. Who's the true leader of the Deathless Watch? What happened to the Prince, so that he lay near death? Feria- her role in everything is as yet unknown. Once we know what we're up against, and their end game... Vendetta knows."
Vendetta nodded, having calmed down. "The will of Lady Selina be done, then."
"The will of the Midnight Citadel be done." Lady Selina looked to them. "I suppose we should touch upon what you two seek out of this."
"I will admit, it took a lot for us to get here. I've no idea how long we'll remain... Moreover, I'm unfamiliar with the Fell- but of what little I know? Shadow Sickness will drive me insane before long. To say nothing of the suspicion, and distrust..."
"I can help with that. Zakir, if you please." Zakir had slipped out at her words. "As to everything else... These letters will allow you near everywhere within Gloomwrought, and everywhere in the Silversorrow lands. Keep them on you. In addition, you'll be given a fair amount weekly. And of course, anything you find is yours to keep. Is this fair?"
In silence, the pair nodded. Sounded good to them. Zakir slipped back in, and bowed gently to Lady Selina once more. One of his hands was clenched tightly shut, as he approached her once more. He gave her the items from his hand- two clusters of glowing crystals, on silver-and-black leather cords.
May I ask what those are? They look beautiful... but strange..."
"Fell Crystals, my Lord. They drive away Shadow Sickness in your case, by absorbing the energies of the plane. In my case, they will store energy, for when I am away from these lands. Either way, they are incredibly useful."
"If you wish, both of you may reside here. Elsewise, rooms at the Sapphire Moonlight Inn will be there. I do prefer company, however. You'll have plenty of allies- simply seek those wearing similar-colored cords. If further verification is required, simply say 'Valar dohaeris.' If they do not answer in kind, or with 'Valar morghulis,' you will know them false."
"All men must serve, and..."
"...All men must die." The two shared a glance- the phrases were Shadar-Kai in origin. How did he know what Valar dohaeris meant?
Moving to gather their things, both decided to remain in Lady Silversorrow's home. A great deal had been done this day- mental exhaustion took its toll. Zakir led the way, slowing them to rooms in the West wing- near Lady Selina's chambers. Everyone settled in, grateful for the chance to settle down. The morrow saw first attempts at the real work.