Lady Uniana Anduin Nalfein is a prominent socialite and currently maintains partial citizenship in Ta'Vaalor.
Uniana was the only child of Lady Vlienive and Lord Chengric Le’Gondren Nalfein. Her father a minor noble and aspiring vintner, her mother of an ancient noble house and a former courtesan. She is the cousin of Lysistrata, Lear and Vyctus Scio on her mother's side.
When she had come of age she was inducted to the Order of the Lily, a revered training house for the courtesan arts, though it was alleged to create operatives in all matters of the clandestine. When it was discovered that she had a latent aptitude for manipulating air currents she briefly was put into their elemancer program but her ability to pull and weave the flows of essence was sloppy and she seemed uninterested in attempting to apply herself to their rigorous research requirements. Even still, more recently she became something of a student of Lord Veythorne, prior to his reclusion, learning more about the theology of air as well as the physical properties of the element.
After graduating from the Order of the Lily, she spent several years entertaining and offering companionship to the upper echelons of the City-States' society. Hearsay suggests that sometime around 5102 her frequent trips to the West were due to her supposed involvement with the Dark Alliance and that she was perhaps intimately connected to the Painlord Eryael. It is rumored that at some point around 5107 Ta'Illistim put her on trial for her supposed crimes towards the City-State during the second Griffin Sword War. This could explain her complete disappearance from society and the gossip that she was serving as a lady's maid. At the end of summer 5121 she reappeared into society on retainer under the mysterious "H". This would be her last assignation and she retired from her Order before the end of the year.
She married Lord Teveriel Anduin Vaalor on Ivastaen the Twenty-First of 5122 and using her passion of cartography and understanding of air currents serves as the Chief Navigator for his fleet.
- You see Lady Uniana Le'Gondren Nalfein the Socialite.
- She appears to be an Elf.
- She is shorter than average. She appears to have come of age. She has violet-shadowed, pale lilac eyes and ivory skin. She has long, silky black cherry-hued hair twisted into loose ringlets. She has an unlined face and subtly arched eyebrows. Her soft lips are tinged with understated carmine.
- She has a thin scar of delicate intertwined thorns on her neck.
- She is in good shape.
- She is holding an alum-slated viridian silk fan in her right hand.
- She is wearing a fanning necklet of cabochon emeralds and minute black pearls, a shoulder-gathered emerald satin chiton with a dramatic plunging neckline, an upward terminating faenor cincher of wrought thorn vines, a domed rich viridian faenor signet ring, and some soft ebon suede ankle-tied sandals beaded with oblong nephrites.
- an alum-slated viridian silk fan
- Intricately etched to mimic the curve, length, and texture of a rose vine, three of the fan's alum slats are imbedded with tiny malachite chips, while the remaining three are carved into a twisted thorn shape. Viridian marbrinus silk stretches between beautifully wrought slats and is painted with a blooming ebon rose, whose petals are appliqued with crushed velvet. A pair of malachite cabochons is set within the alum handle, which is fitted with an ebon-veined viridian silk wrist strap.
- a domed rich viridian faenor signet ring
- The signet is made of faenor in the design of an elven-style crest, divided in the imperial style. The background is composed of green jade with a single blood red spiral curling from the top to encompass a black rose. Set below the rose is a thistle of deep amethyst accented with hues of blood red, resting atop a black dagger. Flanked to the right side is a stalk of golden foxglove resting on an ebon wine goblet and to the left is a pure white lily with a blood red center.
- You see Lady Uniana Anduin Nalfein.
- She appears to be an Elf.
- She is shorter than average and has a nipped waist silhouette. She appears to have come of age. She has violet-shadowed, pale lilac eyes and ivory skin. She has long, silky black cherry-hued hair falling about her body in fragile tufts with some speckled pale apple blossoms amid the large, soft curls. She has an unlined face and subtly arched eyebrows. Her soft lips are tinged with understated carmine. She has some helical nacreous vaalin chains adorned with some gold-dipped feathers dangling from her ears.
- She has a thin scar of delicate intertwined thorns on her neck.
- She is in good shape.
- She is holding a feathery silk-tied bouquet of vibrant greenery and pale blossoms in her left hand.
- She is wearing a hair-thin chain of electrum and nacre resting against the sternum, a long vert train of tonal silk forming dark-hearted roses and gilt-traced dragonstalks over a tiered-hem hunter green chiffon gown hung from two wispy diaphanous panels, a floriated petite lasimor band gracing the left ring finger, a voluminous jade silk dupioni underskirt warmed by honey sheens, and a pair of thick cork-heeled sandals secured by a cagelike array of gold samite straps.
Sometime in 5105
It was in his nature to approach with humility but his demeanor now might even border on timid perhaps even fearful. After a lifetime of service and the multitude of times entering somewhere unheard, there was so much effort extended now into being respectful and quiet, almost silent. The study was darker than it should have been, a symptom of the prompt dismissal of any who dare to enter. The concentration of light was focused on a heavy wood desk. The silhouette of a fragile female elf leaned against the edge of the tabletop focused on what lay beneath.
Without looking up from the map that she so intently studied, her voice questioned with a tiredness she either couldn't manage to hide or no longer cared to, "what?"
The recent intruder offered in a gentle tone, "can I get you something? When was the last time you accepted a meal?"
Though her fist tightened her tone did not change as she repeated, "what is it?"
There was no getting around what had to be said and it felt like even a sigh of exasperation would be a wasted breath. He mustered all of the courage and strength that he had gained from being in the employ of such an infamous creature and explained, "The bank will loan no more on your credit and your accounts are exhausted. Perhaps it is time to consider calling off the expedition."
Finally, the female elf lifted her face and settled her heavy purple-toned gaze upon her servant. Her demeanor was neither cold nor angry, she spoke evenly almost as a matter of fact, "then levy the estates, the vineyard, the lake house, sell the galleon. Clean out every closet, every jewelry box, anything of value that is remotely in my possession."
As her servant opened his mouth in what was sure to be a cautious protest she cut him off and made her intent clear once again. "The only conclusion to this endeavor is finding Eryael Ladrinyth alive."
< Originally posted in 2005>
Harsh, shrill air whipped over her face with a violent sting, bringing tears to her blood-shot eyes. The cold of the mountain made the muscles of her face burn deep into the nerves. With a hopeless sigh, she turned and looked at the darkness that surrounded her, icy crags shrouded in grey fog. It would not be much different than the maze exercises her Order had insisted that she practice. Her watery gaze studied the incline for an extended moment and then the lithe elf shut her eyes. Inside her mind a pattern developed --each twist and turn, each rock and ravine she would be able to surmount and comb through. After calculating erratically the position of where the Black Temple had fallen, she began her ascension up the Dragonspine.
Her movement was sluggish as she trudged along in the deep snow, sinking into her knees with each step. The thin silk skirt that was draped over her legs was dampened by the wet fall. Like a thousand slivers digging into her feet, she could feel every crack and point of unleveled ground beneath her. Feebly, she tried to keep her hands warm by sheltering them within her sleeves but it was only a matter of hours before the painful sensations that plagued them were replaced with consuming numbness.
It was difficult for her to focus on the white-capped peaks ahead, even where she stood now the wind howled and clawed at her exposed skin. She took a gasping breath of frozen air that made her lungs burn in her chest and cried out, agonized voice echoing among the looming alpines, “Eryael!” Warm tears flooded her eyes until they breached the edges, succumbing to the frigid environment. Stumbling under a large conifer the girl huddled against the tree to shield herself from the unrelenting chill. The wind peeled at the layers of her cracked lips, while she parted them to murmur, “I will find you…”.
How long had it been since she was found atop the side of the mountain? When she was found her extremities were a dark blue-purple with frostbite, malnourished and near completely under the influence of Zelia. She was recovering but her delicate elven features were now gaunt and sickly, her lips still healing from the deep chapped cracks. In the past months she spent most of her time laying on a chaise longue next to the window in her room that faced the Dragonspine. Days were spent in eerie silence as she looked at the mountain forlornly.
After all this time, she finally sent for him in the midst of getting her ringleted hair brushed. She did not dismiss her handmaiden as she spoke but neither turned to look at him either. “Is it true?”
He took a step where she reclined and nodded to dismiss the handmaiden. He claimed the brush from her before she left and began to pull through the black cherry-hued strands with a loving gentleness. “The City-State is calling in your loans,” pausing to add for clarity, “all of them.”
She made no sound but stretched out her legs from next to her, extending them to the end of the chaise. “Then we return home, for now,” she responded.
The hesitation was almost paralyzing as her servant spoke, “there is more. Our sources have stated they have seen a warrant being drafted at the magistrate’s office. They know that the expedition is not a recovery but a rescue. Evidence has mounted and it is only a matter of days before you are formally charged with treason and high-crimes against the Shining City. It seems reasonable that the Sapphire Guard will be at our door within the week.”
He couldn’t see her smile but he could hear the musing in her soft voice, “then we had better pack fast.”
The idle brushing continued as he delivered a grim counter, “we would have been safe from extradition had the state of the accounts not been so vast. The debt is nearly immeasurable. Nalfein will deliver us without hesitation.”
“Oh,” was the simple reply and it was followed by a length of silence with only the subtle rustle of the horsehair brush through her dark red hair. Then she sat up, pulling away and stated with no urgency, “have Samiel lay out the cardinal dupioni silk gown, the gold and eahnor pendant that goes with it. Then I want you to give whatever we have left to the remaining servants and dismiss them under the cover of night.” Standing up then, she turns towards her servant, “you have been the truest and given more than I ever had the right to ask for. There is a bottle in the cellar that is marked with a faint golden script near the bottom of the middle rack. Inside are the details of a seaside villa that has no ties to me or my family in the Bay of Black Pearls. It is yours with my deepest gratitude.” Another pause was taken so that she could place her hands upon his, clutching them around the brush. “This is my final ask of you and I will hear no retort.”
Her hands were bound with steel cuffs, it seemed unnecessary but also rather ironic. At least she could find some humor in the situation, if not a bit of flattery. As she shifted her small wrists in the heavy shackles a booming voice rang out in the small chamber.
“Uniana Le’Gondren Nalfein, you stand charged with treason against the City-State of Illistim, stimulating war against the Shining City, encouraging sorcery within the city walls, endangering the safety of others and aiding and abetting known war criminals. How do you plead?”
“Often and believably. Would you like to hear?” Uniana pulled her lips into a side-set grin.
Another voice came from off to the side, as Murstyr Javilerre quipped “Of course she wouldn’t take this seriously.”
Uniana shook her head. “I noticed there is no one recording this briefing but I would like to go on record that I appreciate Lord Javilerre’s forceful method of cuffing.” She raised her shackled wrists for emphasis and changed her gaze to focus directly on the aged elf and murmured lasciviously, “now I know where your son acquired his skills.”
Murstyr moved towards the small enclosed platform where she stood in a threatening manner before the commanding voice from before ordered, “Enough. The evidence against you is insurmountable. We have every believable argument to sentence you to death.” The voice took a pause while Uniana remained in silence looking into the darkened corners of the chamber unphased. “Though, you have curried favor with the Argent and at the suggestion of the Council of Thrones we offer you some conditions that will see your life spared in return for effective services.”
“Like what?” Uniana asked with her voice dripping with aloofness.
“Describe your familiarity with the sorcerer Mekthros Savius Faendryl?”
Her blood ran like fire and her voice became sharp and biting, “if you expect to me to sit in one of your dungeons playing a part in incriminating anyone but myself you should just kill me here and now. Death over bondage.”
A new voice, one distinctly feminine spoke out now, “ah, she’s just as melodramatic as was suggested.”
Uniana narrowed her eyes and retorted, “not unlike having a puppet court in a dark chamber with your interrogators in shadow.”
Another voice now, scholarly and low, explained “we are interested in your ability to record potentially illegal sorcerous activity within and without the city walls. There is mounting pressure after the events of the past years to ensure that we are aware of any potential individuals of concern. Your proximity and unfettered access to one of the most powerful and feared Faendryl sorcerers at present places you in a unique position.”
“To simply walk up and insert myself?” Uniana thought to herself. She knew that the Illistimi were problematic when it came to subterfuge but even this must seem poorly thought out.
“There is a prominent sorceress of a well-to-do family who is in need of a lady's maid and guide to Ta’Illistim. She coincidentally also is looking for an enchantress on retainer. She has agreed to pay a large amount of interest on your debts in order to take you into her service. You are to watch and report on any findings,” the female voice explained, “despite the manner of your recent apprehension it is said you are a master at discretion.”
Murstyr spoke again, “and there are additional conditions for this arrangement. You are to now and forever cease contact with anyone who ever had an association with the Dark Alliance, including family members. While under this agreement you are prohibited from performing any other,” he paused to emphasize disgust in the next word, “duties. You are simply a lady’s maid and an indentured enchantress. If there is any inclination that you are attempting to contact or signal someone with supposed ties to enemies of the City-State, it will be deathwort for both of you.”
A plea for death rose up in her throat. What life would that be? And what if a sorcerer conclave discovered what had she been doing? Most assuredly a fate worse than death. Then briefly, she felt it. The subtle pound of an alien heart within her chest, it was momentary but undeniable. She could almost hear the thumping. An echo of the connection that they once shared. Something to cling to. Something to live for.
“Fourteen years and nothing reported,” the voice outside her cell was heavy with anger.
“Fourteen years and nothing TO REPORT.” Uniana shouted with annoyance and laid her head back against the stone wall of her cell. “I told your Commander a year ago, kill me. I have no desire to waste away in this cell giving myself over to madness.”
“It will not be much longer now, Commander Javillerre requested your file this morning. You’ll be in the embrace of Gosaena before sunrise tomorrow.”
She didn’t want to give in to the fear or the taking stock of how she got here and what it all meant. Her regrets, her struggles, her joy, and triumphs were vacant now. She found solace in the fact that maybe that was true for everyone at the end. Her laments were mostly with regards to her cousin. Lysistrata was never overly tender but her words always provided a measure of strength to Uniana when she doubted herself and she desperately wished she could tell her how much her mentorship and guidance had meant. Somehow she still managed to feel embarrassed that she had never discovered the fate of Eryael.
She paused to quiet her mind and still her breath. Only one heartbeat. Her own lonely heart pumping with increasing speed at the threat of her anxiety.
A loud clatter made her recoil in fear. The gate to her cell was pulled open. A small box filled with her things was placed on the ground and then kicked inside. Atop her belongings was an elegantly scripted vellum letter sealed by a dark crimson wax imprinted with a storm griffin rending a deer. Her dirty hands pulled it apart with a frustrated curiosity.
Lady Uniana Le’Gondren Nalfein,
I await you at the garden shrine. This is not a request.
Her lips parted into an open-mouth smile as she let out a pant of relief that ended up sounding more like a chuckle.
Some things never change.
Fifteen years. It had been fifteen years since she last attended a ball. She had danced with Teveriel then too though she couldn’t quite remember the whole of the details. There wasn’t much to note at the time; it was just another event in a string of balls that she would attend for the social season. The most she recounted was a masquerade in Ta’Illistim and she recalled she had a metallic lace rose mask fashioned especially. They were still enemies at the time, sharing a dance under veiled pretense of civility. A small piece of her had hoped that the ball to honor the fallen would serve as an opportunity to rewrite a history that should have been. But her story was never much intended to be a fairy tale and she knew as much.
The events of last night would serve as an opportunity. She had let her guard down, she felt too safe in Ta’Vaalor. Too safe under the eyes of the Legion. A mistake that would be immediately corrected. Today she was awake early, not in the typical way where she was restless and cursing Ronan. This morning, she woke with purpose and found Teveriel still asleep on the divan where Hanshayr had deposited him last night. She fetched a folded blanket from a cabinet, draped it over him and then departed the chalet. He was awake when she returned carrying a large object with a canvas shroud in her hand. Other packages followed behind her, a couple members of the household staff ushering them in. She called for them to be taken to the kitchen and have all that was presently in the pantry and larder tossed out. Though she briefly considered if she could season, preserve and package it and have it delivered to the Obsidian Tower in the West.
Then she greeted him, setting the object down on the floor next to the divan. She inquired into his current state and gave him a slow, chaste kiss on the forehead, then held her cheek there to check the warmth. Seeming pleased with his progress of recovery she'd call for his breakfast - a large plate of poached eggs covered in sliced beetroot and a herbaceous green sauce served with a chilled glass of pomegranate juice. As he went to reach for a fork she halted him, pulled the cover off the large object and revealed an alert, small sparrowhawk in a gilt-frosted iron cage. She took the silverware and cut a tiny piece from the side of his eggs and placed it in the cage, watching the bird devour it. Taking the spoon she dotted it into the juice and allowed the bird to nip at the dark liquid. Sitting in silence for a moment she watched the bird keenly, before nodding in approval, "I'll see a clean spoon is brought up." She offered him a kind smile and went off to tend to more fortifications to ensure the chalet would remain a safe haven in a city where she no longer felt safe.
She was up early, again. Not troubled or restless, she could see the path before her clearly and resolutely. The bower had grown too cold as it seemed the snowfall had continued throughout the night. After tea was delivered and the fire tended she gathered a fur robe about herself and leaned up against the mullioned windows, her violet-haunted gaze focused on the glade below.
Teveriel had probably been up for hours at this point but you wouldn’t know it by the swing of his arm as he cut through the air with his blunted sword. His aim was true time and time again, slashing into a barkless tree marked with notches to represent the heights of various enemies. There was a new notch this morning, one towering above the others and he seemed to swing relentlessly at it with grim determination.
“The berserker,” she thought as she adjusted the teacup in her hands to palm the bottom of it while her other steadied the handle, taking a pause to flex her fingers and release some of the stiffness. No doubt this was a result of her attempting to aid Akenna last night with the imbuing of runes. Such tedious work, manipulating the elements. Not like people.
The flurry of hacking sounds pulled her from her thoughts as Teveriel made a rapid assault against the tree. She knew the idea of Zerroth’s return had brought him dark thoughts and opened old wounds that never really healed. But that wasn’t all the news there was to consider. Her carmine lips pulled into a faint smile before she took another sip of tea. She longed to have this chapter concluded and return east. There was so much to do. Parties to plan, dinners to host as the festive season drew near.
And then there was her harp. People had said before that she was something of an artist at it. She'd like to earn that title once more.
Who would she reunite with if given the chance?
Her mother? No. She doesn’t need to see all the ways she’s failed. Let her rest.
Eryael? Well, he doesn’t really seem to be dead now. Makes that answer a bit easier.
But what about...oh yes, him. And then she thought about his funeral.
It was a typical day and she was bringing up a tray to her Mistress. The paper had been folded neatly, placed off to the side as she had done morning after morning but today when she reached the top of the stairs it slipped down and became a clump on the floor. Bending down to pick it up, she tried to crease it neatly the way it had been folded before when she took note of a headline along the corner: “SUPPOSED DEMONOLOGIST FROM NALFEIN SUCCUMBS TO FAILED SUMMONING”
She left the tray unattended on a nearby console table as she reviewed the details of the article. The facts were murky enough but his name was there and that he would be sent back home for a private funeral.
They executed him.
She had heard rumors that his name had come up numerous times in the treason and sedition trials following the war. She had seen him manipulate the forces beyond a hundred times and his power over them was confident, even aloof. He would have never lost control.
They wouldn’t suffer a sorcerer.
His family probably paid good money to keep the real cause from public record and this helped shape the continued narrative of the Shining City, that demons were dangerous and unyielding, even to pure elves.
Reclaiming her composure, she delivered her mistress her breakfast, paper neatly folded on the side and then requested a brief leave to visit her ailing great aunt in Ta’Nalfein. During the whole of her trip she was shadowed by a lithe figure in a dark cobalt silk cloak. The Sapphire Guard wasn’t being subtle, they didn’t need to be, but then again whoever was assigned to this task probably wasn’t exactly operating as one of their best.
The day of the funeral she made her way down into the kitchen of her aunt’s townhouse. She did have an aunt in Ta’Nalfein, though she was more alcoholic than ailing. And she wasn’t even staying here at the townhouse. Nothing made Uniana come to terms with her fallen status in society as much as the fact that her own great aunt would not receive her at the family estate but rather kept her at one of her minor properties, like she was some lukewarm acquaintance or passing merchant. Uniana vowed that if she lived through this ordeal she would ensure her status among her family and society would be elevated once more.
If. He certainly didn’t make it out alive.
She grabbed one of the aprons and a plain leather-backed chainsil cloak from off one of the hooks near the backdoor and quietly made her way down the var, head lowered in discretion and possibly shame. The sidegate that led to his family’s garden was left open so that visitors could pay their respects but when she came upon the gathering there were only two males, about his age, dressed in plainish mourning clothes, a half-elf who was in brigandine and his mother. She had met his mother once. Uniana found her kind and smart, real smart. Not some kind of Nalfein feigned intelligence where you read a bit about this or that so you can manage conversations at parties but rather brilliant.
She looked so frail now, pouring loam and ash over a newly dug mound. Next to the smallish mound was a stone of ebony marble and Uniana could determine that it might have been rimmed in black ora but she didn’t dare get closer to the gathering. She remained near the gate out of both respect and fear. This was her fault. He was her mark. She had brought him to the Dark Alliance. She made his mother childless.
It wasn’t all a game to her though. Uniana was actually quite fond of him. He took things easily and he was powerful, a bit of a scoundrel but ever clinging to his elven superiority. There may have even been love between them if they could ever stop using each other.
The small group began to walk back towards the main house, the mother stopped to consider Uniana at a distance but turned away. She doesn’t recognize me.
Why would she? Uniana was concealed in outerwear suited only for the scullery and the dress underneath was an ill-fitted hand-me-down from her mistress who never used proper Elven tailors. Uniana took the opportunity to draw near the loose soil and she could see now that the small plaque had his name and had a tiny fragment of his runestaff contained within. From within the pocket of her loose dress she removed a single cutout snowflake crafted from dull metallic parchment. The necklace he had given her was long since sold for whatever meager silver it would have fetched but she still felt sentimental about it. And the ball where she wore it and after, the first time they kissed, even if it was all pretense.
He was by no means innocent but did he deserve this? Did he hate her for it all? Was any of it worth it? She didn’t deserve those questions answered though. If she could bring him back for one night, for the Eve of the Reunion, it wouldn’t be to calculate the cost of her deeds. She’d simply ask if he had a message for his mother.
Eve of the Reunion 5121
As they raced down the pier Teveriel called for the crew to begin cutting the lines. The entire dock rolled under the swell of water that came in fast, continuous waves. The onslaught of rain in the whipping wind and the blinding flashes made it nearly impossible to see and Uniana was certain if she hadn't made the journey across the gangplank numerous times before she would have lost her footing. She kept a close grip on Yukito as Teveriel ushered both of them from a sentinel position in the rear.
As soon as they were aboard the ship lurched away from the dock, the sails flapping in the wind. Teveriel ordered the capstan up and Uniana saw Yukito positioned safely below deck. When she got to the helm she questioned their departure but Teveriel assessed rightly that they had no time to spare. To punctuate his statement a crashing wave came over the railing and forced the ship against the dock briefly. Uniana pulled the wheel away and managed to give Teveriel a fearful glance but he confidently assured her, "she will hold." He captained the crew to adjust the sails to catch the frightful wind and they instantly pulled away from the structure.
Goliath waves crashed into the island as they sailed north and away from the doomed land. The peril was far from over as they struggled to navigate the storm. At one point Uniana realized they had been going west again for the better part of half hour but was able to chart them back to the northeast. A few hours into their journey the storm gave way to a gentle, though constant, rain. Uniana took the opportunity to tie the wheel off and give her hands a rest. She went below deck and had tea brewed for herself, the captain and their guests. Before she went back to attend her duties she offered Yukito a blanket and encouraged him to find some real rest.
Dawn broke on the horizon but it only lit the clouds from behind, doing nothing to cease the rains. Before midday they reached their port and Calepher was as good as his word. Upon pulling into the bustling port of Ta'Loenthra, a skiff bearing a silver-harp on a purple sail came out to meet them. They were not permitted to dock but they were granted permission to anchor, supply and take rest for the evening. When morning came it did not go unnoticed that somehow Teveriel had smuggled aboard some artisan pastries and fresh coffee. Then while the crew prepared the ship for the exhausting voyage back to the West the trio of them leaned against the railing of the Blue Fortress, sipping their coffee and watching the sun come up in a clear sky for the first time in what seemed to be the better part of a month.
She had met with “H” all of three times before this encounter and each time he had used his intimidating presence to establish the nature of their relationship. He was in absolute control, he knew her movements, he knew things she assumed she had whispered in empty rooms and the way he regarded the things she said with a questioning, imperious glare made her feel as though he could sense her innermost thoughts. It made her wonder if he hadn’t a student or two of Harith in his service as well.
Even still, there was something to be said for the way he deferred to her insight or recommendations about how to rally or connect with the pockets of elves who privately acknowledged Mularos as their patron. He knew that she was a lynchpin to Eryael and if Eryael accomplished nothing else he fostered a new era of Mularosian worship in the City-States. Politicians, nobility, commanders --though without leadership these silent proselytes were floundering. They were in need of a sycophant and “H” was just the type to take up the mantle or at least instill a puppet figurehead.
That’s where the necessity of Eryael’s fate came in. Too many of them were even still under somewhat of his spell, much like Uniana. They required closure before they could possibly consider accepting a new head of their sects. No one would have been more knowledgeable or better equipped to discover the truth of his fate besides one of his soulbonds, Uniana. Uniana, who had spent years searching amongst the rubble of the Black Temple. Uniana, who had learned cartography to better understand the layout of the Dragonspine. Uniana, who studied under Lord Veythorne to learn more of wind currents and possible trajectories of debris on that day. Uniana, who still bore his mark with as much pride as one would display a wedding ring.
“The terms you had placed on my contract are complete,” she offered in the dark office that smelled of bourbon, velvetier and freshly-inked parchment. There was no lingering hint of roses in this room and she wondered if that would begin to dissipate from the other rooms of the estate as well. She reiterated to him the details she had collected and her own interpretation for him, “he is not dead but he is not on this plane. If you wish to commune with him I would recommend finding the best painters, vocalists and musicians and watching them. He will look for beauty and creativity as an anchor, only ones that are born of suffering and anguish. Though they have to be the very best, they would have to make Eorgina inclined to steal them away to build a second Li'aerion.”
“H” made no immediate reaction but drummed his fingers along a vellum that rested atop his desk. “Eager to have your new paramour buy you out from the Order hrm? And what of Eryael, will you try to lure him back? You’re artistically inclined or at least the documents suggest.” He paused his hand and regarded her with a cruel smile, “I’ve never had the pleasure.”
She opted not to address his second question and instead correct him on the details of his first, “the Order of the Lily does not deal in slavery or indentured servitude, I am free to resign at will. However, Lord Anduin is offering them a fair amount to ensure that we part amicably. Though my worth to them is obviously diminished along with my credibility.”
“H” offered her a dark smile. “Yes, a bit of a novelty now, aren’t you? No longer a main attraction. Still my contacts at the bank suggest that Lord Anduin is pulling together a prince’s ransom. At least someone still thinks you are worth that kind of trouble. Are you?”
Uniana didn’t respond, keeping her expressionless gaze on him.
“H” stood from behind his desk in a precise, clipped motion. He announced, “well then, there is one more bit of business to conclude. You will join me in the garden,” he gestured behind her towards the door and added with a barely suppressed maliciousness, “I trust you remember the way, if not, permit me to show you.”
A letter crafted in the middle of the night on Phoenatos 28th, 5121.
The folded parchment bears no other detail on it except the word “Diamond” in a neat, black ink across the front
I apologize for not writing again since the sentence was commuted. It is difficult to ensure that these will get to you without the risk of any obtrusion. I have found myself in the West for the time being. Making contact with old connections for old purposes.
You were always my council, my heart and head are never to be trusted. I worry that my time away has made me soft and weak. The long years are giving me a desire to resign myself from all this wretched business. Is that pathetic? If I do press forward am I being stubborn? A part of me feels like I have already invested so much, I have to see an end.
Dear, I find myself questioning if I am foolish. What kind of madness am I infected with that I would continue to give myself to this thankless cause? Isn’t everything I lost enough of a reason to abandon my foolish need for closure? For resolution? There is another aspect of all this too, one I dare not even put down on the page lest the documentation of it makes it more real.
I would give anything to be in your radiant presence again but for now your words will more than suffice.
Your Loving Cousin,
A letter crafted in the morning on Eoantos 23rd, 5121.
Uniana held her quill above the parchment and considered for a moment that she should write the following in their coded hand. Upon further reflection, the nature of the letter spoke to honesty and the absence of clandestine operations in her life, so she wrote freely in Elven.
I hope this finds you ever radiant and in proud spirits. Vyctus seems to be thriving with his naval endeavors and I hear that Lear is once more the talk of the Ardenai court with his charm and steady aim.
By now you have learned that I have left the Order of the Lily, my last contract fulfilled and myself now retired. My credibility amongst certain circles tarnished after my exposed allegiance during the war, my movements would never hold the power they once did. At least not as a courtesan.
And that brings to the point of this letter. These last few months I have been keeping the company of Lord Teveriel Anduin, who you know to be of good character and renowned as a hero among his house. He has inherited the title and estates of his father after his passing during the war. Some fifteen years ago we were so much in each other’s orbit but now the pull is undeniable. As the matriarch of our house, I seek your blessing if there is the opportunity for a formal alliance.
The fine scripting on the vellum becomes a bit less neat.
I know I have not always brought honor to our family and so your council in this matter will be heeded.
She took great care once more as she addressed the front with “Lady Lysistrata Scio”
The fires in the grand hall were roaring but only the loudest pops and crackles were heard over the litany of conversations and the upbeat, rhythmic playing of the orchestra. Everywhere she looked were glittering metallic ornaments and ladies garbed in rich jewel toned velvet. Her own gown felt unnecessarily warm between the barrage of the fires and the density of the crowded room. It made her feel flush or perhaps that was the passing smile of a familiar face across the room.
Evergreen and gingerbread hung heavy in the air and she could almost taste the cinnamon and nutmeg of the mulled wine. Almost. Because none of this was real. Just another meditative daydream in an effort to escape the grim reality of her cold, dark cell somewhere in the labyrinthian building of the Ta'Illistim Keep. The pleasant noise of her dream was replaced by the constant patter of dripping water from the ceiling. A soft sob could be heard from down the hall within another cell. Uniana rolled on her cot and shut her eyes, trying not curse Ronan for the thousandth time. She hoped briefly that execution would come quickly, she couldn't take another winter in solitude. She wouldn't.
It was the sixth evening of their honeymoon in Ta’Nalfein and everything in her soul called to Uniana to remain in their shared bed. Yet, who knew when they would return to Ta'Nalfein again. At least some business would require her attention before more pleasure. She had made time to dive deeper into the organization known as the Sparrows of the Night Queen, she and her new husband had visited some family and prominent shops and that left one final distraction.
She had barely put her feet on the floor when her husband asked with a hint of disappointment, "you still mean to go then?" Her dark curls shifted subtly around her face as she nodded wordlessly which prompted him to rise as well. They dressed in cloaks with encompassing hoods and made their way to the distant side of the city to a small domed basilica trimmed in ivory marble.
The curved doors were open allowing for the quiet interior to be cooled by the sea air. Uniana stepped in first followed by Teveriel who narrowed his eyes as he studied the dim sanctuary. Uniana had no sooner pushed back her hood when a robed figure approached, arms outstretched. "I was hoping you would pay us a visit," the older elf's voice was warm and his demeanor full of familiarity. Uniana embraced him and he put an arm around her, nodding over to Teveriel. "You are very welcome here, Lord of Vaalor."
The older elf and Uniana began to walk down the aisle that led to the altar. Teveriel shifted a moment and considered following them but opted to sit and allow the two a private reunion. Teveriel watched them as they whispered back and forth with smiles, his own lips set firm with displeasure as they drew closer to an ivory statue of an elf with rose vines binding his wrists, the thorns piercing into the stone with such detail that it appeared as pliable flesh.
The duo bowed their heads before the statue and continued in muted conversation. The priest disappeared and returned, taking Uniana by the arm as he escorted her back to Teveriel who could now hear some of their conversation.
"We didn't win," the priest said emotionlessly, "and yet we did not lose. You are a good ambassador, you could have been a good scion but that was not your path," and the priest looked out into the pews to Teveriel who sat in a terse silence. "You are in a cycle of pleasure and beauty, doesn't the pain and loss you felt make it all the sweeter?" He did not let Uniana answer, "I have something for you. You earned it. You can walk in the light but the shadow of Lornon will always welcome you."
He opened a small box of night-dark glass rimmed in pearls that were just as black. Even as he opened it the jeweled item inside sparkled in the sparse light. His aged hands held it reverently and he lifted it to crown her. As it blended into Uniana's dark cherry curls the blazestar halo began to fade away and her form was bathed in a muted crimson essence. Teveriel took in a deep, steading breath.