[NORTHWESTERN FRINGES OF FREEHOLD, JULY 09, 2018 (WR)]
With a full moon illuminating the warm summer night, Marlowe stepped into the threshold of the farmhouse’s ruin with nary a sound. With precise claw and godly skill, her Mistress had fused her flesh with metal and power. She was stronger and swifter now, even more than she ever was…even more than she ever could be. What was once a young human woman from the Pariah of Kali-Ishtar was now the keenest knife in the arsenal of Fang-zhara, the Eternal Architect.
She found her Mistress standing over what used to be the farmhouse’s fireplace. Everything else from the building had been broken and scattered. Neither wall nor roof remained where they had been, with only burnt beams and shattered stone to mark what had once been a home. When rain would come, its fall would sizzle and steam over flame and forge — but there was no rain tonight, just a clear night sky and a bright moon.
The Immortal had turned the fireplace into a workshop in the span of an hour. The bright fires of her creation cast long shadows into the night and illuminated the silhouette of her horns and her wings. She could have been mistaken for a statuesque Nightkin from behind, but for her green scales and a palpable aura of peril that surrounded her. From this place, Fang-zhara forged soldiers and servants, horrors and monsters, to fight, work and die for her as she wished.
These augmentations made Marlowe understand her place in things, of course, which is why she knelt as soon as she came close enough. “Mistress, there is no sign of the Deceiver”
Fang-zhara put down her tools and stepped away from her forge. Her voice quavered only slightly as she hissed: “I know he is near. I can sense his lies!”
“Then I have failed you once again. Let me be punished according to your will”
“No” Firmly yet gently, the Immortal’s clawed hand clutched Marlowe’s chin, firmly yet gently, and guided her to standing.
“Primus’ lies will never again harm me and mine. You still have a role to play in his doom, Dearest” The Immortal’s words burned with both hatred and affection.
“Must we ally ourselves with Portia and Tenebrous? What is their role in all of this?”
Her questions gave Fang-zhara pause. It seemed to Marlowe that her Mistress had much to think about these days.
After a moment, the Immortal paced as she spoke, giving some voice to her mind’s whispers. “We have common enemies and the Deceiver is not the only one. Furthermore, we have come to an agreement and they have promised me the Vashalla beneath Freehold and the Hinterlands”
“In this era, it is called Mercurium. It is a rare, powerful mineral and very useful in my craft. In all of our crafts, in fact”
Marlowe nodded but her uncertainty remained with her. “I see. And the others, they will let you have it after Freehold has been defeated?”
Fang-zhara could not help but laugh then. “Oh, Dearest! Of course not!”
“Then why help them, Mistress?” Marlowe’s hands balled into fists, with her golemic arm seizing with supernal strength. Within her, the golemic heart filled her with elemental energies as the thought of the Mistress’ betrayal brought her boundless wrath. Had she not suffered enough? Had she not seen enough lies?
Fang-zhara turned back to her work, her visage lit by the glow of the forge. “Because I will break anyone who will keep me from what is mine, even another Immortal”
Clarify: Those with the Mark of Fang-zhara are aware of the exchange in the prologue, in bits and pieces, as though a dream, although the Marked characters are fully aware of its reality.