Four weeks ago
“Why are you doing this? You don’t need to do this.”
“It’s the only way. It’s the best way.”
She thought it was her conscience saying this, but she could swear she heard it out loud. She had a sinking feeling it was the Eye.
Renda looked in the dingy mirror. She traced a hand along the burn marks on one side of her face. That would soon be the least of her worries- from a comeliness perspective at least.
She looked down into the basin of cold water, and moved the knife towards her eye.
RedRiver. Three years ago.
The captain of the guard threw Renda roughly into the cell. She fell to the floor, tearing her silk dress. She yelled and stood up and the guard slammed the cell.
“Quiet. Whore. Or I’ll strangle you right here myself.”
She shot daggers into his soul with that look.
“Listen bitch, maybe you can cut the face of a member of the city guard north of the River, but in Verma, whores get hung for that.”
“I am no whore.”
Terwick believed her. He knew many whores. He even kept bottles of perfumes as gifts for them. There was something different about this one.
The guard left her and walked up the stairs. At the top of the stairs he moved to his bottle of ale which he had opened before the alarm bell rang. Hopefully the rest of the night would be quiet.
Then he sensed something behind him. He turned around. The man sat in the corner of the room, in black plate with green trim. He wore a beard with no mustache, and had a severe face. On the table in front of him was a large spiked mace.
“I am here to take charge of the girl you just brought in. The one from Pallmoor.”
The guard would not look the man in the eyes. He had a feeling he knew who it was. The Magistrate.
“Is this about the stories she told? About having useful information to sell? Passwords and such?”
The severe man stood up.
“That is not your concern. Bring her to me now.”
Three weeks and three days ago, the Hall of the Second Seat
Dessicatia Rottli sat on her bone throne, in the Hall of the Second Seat.
“At the risk of sounding like a cliche!” she yelled, then turned to a whisper “You have failed me for the last time. Ha!”
Renda screwed up her courage.
“I helped you take this city!”
“It was ours the moment we decided to take it.”
“I got you the captain of the guard at Lakewood!”
“An affected, useless weakling!” Dessicatia stood up.
“I …retrieved the body of the Magistrate so he could do your bidding once more.” She knew it was a mistake as it left her mouth.
“HA! If you did your job correctly my dear he would not have DIED!” She took a step towards Renda.
“I burned Est Harbour! I did all you asked! I…I stole the Silver Spear!!”
Dessicatia looked at Wu Shen. Renda had a feeling Wu Shen never told Dessicatia about that. This was her last card. Well, almost her last.
Dessicatia giggled like a girl. Renda breathed a sigh of relief. And then…
Impossibly, Dessicatia withdrew the spear from her robes, as if out of nowhere, and broke it in half with her hands.
“It’s a faaaaaaaaaaaake!” She whispered. And spat across the room at Renda. She started to mumble dark words.
Renda fingered the Eye in her pocket. Perhaps if she handed this over. No, something told her. Hold on to this.
“I can get you the Night Rangers. I have a plan. They want the Sage, right? I can get you the Night Rangers.”
Dessicatia turned away and smiled.
“They won’t trust you. Not without very, very good reason my dear.”
Two weeks ago, The Nexus
Dugan scratched at his bushy red beard, then ran his gloved hand over his shaved head.
“I think she can help us. We need the bodies.”
Gruner looked her over from his desk.
“No. Send her away. You should not have brought her.”
“Gruner, I had the priests look her over. She is no Saint. She was a member of the thieves guild. But she claims a hatred for the Baron and the priests say it is true. She knows a rapier. We need her. “
Gruner stood up. “Tell me, Arden, is it? Why do you want to risk your life to fight the Baron?”
Renda, wearing a porcelain mask to cover her wounds, and a blonde wig, pulled the mask from her face. Where her left eye was days ago, there was a bloody, empty hole.
“This is why”
Three days ago
Renda‘s body lay strewn about the stairs, dead. True death. If her soul were anywhere, it was not in her body. The blood underneath her had dried. Her porcelain mask was fused to her face. Half of her face was missing skin. A centipede crawed into her skull through her jaw. There was one great rumble in the earth, as if the burning death of a dozen souls unlocked the hatred of all of the bodies buried beneath them for eons.
Her arm twitched.
Her arm reached to the porcelain mask and pulled it off.
A cat’s eye gem was underneath, in that dead eye socket.
Both eyes blinked.
“My sisters.” That which was not Renda croaked. “I will free you, my sisters!”