February 2019 Prologue

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[RUINS OF THE FREEHOLD BROTHERHOOD CHAPTERHOUSE; FEBRUARY 1, 2019 (WR)]

The magics that made a ruin of the Chapterhouse had also turned that locale into a wasteland. Trees were flattened, streams pooled into the crater, and even the local elementals were warped into forms and visages both strange and perilous. Even the charred air, the very moonlight, in this place was fringed with a poisonous magic.

What was forsaken and maligned to mere mortals was simply inconvenient to those unfettered by such limitations. Tenebrous strode past fallen tree and shattered pillar, soundless, ethereal and fell as a demon’s smile.

Clothed in the body of the Kenrei princess and crowned in shadowy glory, Tenebrous was solitary as they entered the clearing. However, every Warp Elemental that dared approach the Immortal was bent and suborned to their indomitable will. What were to be assailants became slaves instead and they followed the Immortal mindlessly thereafter.

Yet for all of their power and all of their might, the Immortals were not immune to disappointment — no, it was not here. Moreover, there were others that were looking for it.

The Fang-zharan golems and their leader received the Warp Elementals’ attacks with sufficient temerity. Whatever strange augmentations the Golemics received was more than enough to withstand the magics of the ruined crater and they even proved proof to Tenebrous’ insidious domination. Minutes flew by as elementals clashed with constructs amid the ruins of a fortress. Slaves of energy and darkness battled titanic thralls of steel and spirit, as it did in the times of old. Thundering claws crashed into metallic frames even as iron blades bit into aethyric flesh. The Immortal smiled at the memories that this vista conjured.

Then, Tenebrous espied the Golems’ leader as she tried to escape. Oh, she was slight and spry and strong and stubborn — but she was not an Immortal.

She took thirty steps, then fifty, then a hundred — muscles and spirit augmented by Fang-zharan toys. But such machinations did not save her from being shackled by benighted magics and pulled taut against a nearby tree. Augmented or not, the shadows were quicker and easier than a courtier’s lies.

“Marlowe, was it?” Tenebrous appeared before her, stepping forth from beneath the shadows of a hundred moonlit leaves. Their eyes, all of them, narrowed. “Your husband still feels for you, as do the rest of your friends and allies in Freehold.”

“Kill me now, if you dare!” Her prey hissed fury and zealotry. “You cannot stop my mistress!”

“I thought that you had something of mine, but it seems that you don’t.” Sighing, they turned around and gestured to the air, but the underside of the tree’s leaves and of every pebble watched Marlowe all the same.

Marlowe screamed silently, a single eye suddenly glaring red. But she remained ensnared and enstilled within the Immortal’s web.

Tenebrous continued speaking, careless and confident as a philosopher before a forum. “That little tinker made it a little difficult for me to ‘take’ you. But I wonder what would happen if I started removing things? First from your flesh…and then we start on your soul if that doesn’t work.”

They looked up, alone in their soliloquy, but never truly apart. The night sky was only partially veiled by leaves and clouds. This part of the Hinterlands was not flattened by Brotherhood folly.

“I mean, it has never ever worked, of course. But I have time aplenty and Fang-zhara has an overabundance… of… toys…” Tenebrous’ voice trailed off as their gaze left Marlowe. They focused instead upon a point in the skyscape amidst stars and moon and stygian void.

There was only a moment of thinking before a decision was made by all of them, the entirety of the Crescent Council and all the rest. Marlowe was ripped in half during the last tenth of that thought, torso cast away and legs forgotten.

Interesting. 

No dwelling on old questions. It was time for a new toy, after all.

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