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‘I really don’t see why all this business is necessary Nessa’
Andrew Corinth shrugged his cloak back from his face, placing his hand on his companion’s shoulder
‘We still hold great power within Noxus, we should not sneak around like sewer rats.’
‘You do not know as much as you think you do Andrew, now raise your cloak and follow me.’
Stepping out from beneath his arm, Vanessa Leblanc hurried down a side street, her long strides carrying her away from Andrew. Hurrying to catch up, he stumbled into a puddle, soaking his finely tooled boots.
‘This whole passageway nonsense is ridiculous,’ complained Andrew, ‘What’s keeping us from concealing ourselves and taking our normal routes?’
The street ended in a solid brick wall. Vanessa spun on her heels, tapping the end of her staff upon the cobblestones beneath her. A Raven flitted across the streets oil lantern, casting an inky shadow across the wall. By the time the Raven moved on, the two travellers had disappeared.
‘Marc Tiberius, that snake. It’s him you should be complaining to Andrew, not me.’
The travellers stood in a low stone chamber, pitch black save for the light cast from Vanessa’s staff. The wall behind them was solid rock with a small alcove cut through to the street behind it. At the opposite end of the chamber stood an iron-bound oaken door, barely visible in the downcast blue light.
‘So an old friend scorned you and found himself a cushy job, what’s it to you?’ Andrew asked, shaking water from his boots.
‘There is nothing personal about this Andrew. This, along with everything else is about the society. Marc’s cushy job threatens the future of our organization. It’s a mess of magic, murder, betrayal, subterfuge, and sabotage even we may not be able to contain.’
Vanessa stepped through the doorway, with Andrew close behind. The corridor beyond was seven feet tall, with scarcely room for two people to walk abreast. The only light came from pale blue lanterns recessed into the walls every few feet, yet the hallway glowed with an eerie aura. The walls, floors, and ceilings were all crafted from polished silver mirrors, reflecting the light in an endless array. Andrew sported a quizzical look as they continued down the passage.
‘Murder? You think Darkwill and Tiberius are aligned?’
The far end of the hallway came into view, a solid, mirrored wall.
‘Oh no, not aligned, conveniently serving each other’s purpose. Yet those purposes undermine the society.’
Lightly placing her hand upon the wall, Vanessa whispered ‘within the mirror, the truth lies.’ An audible click echoed along the passageway, and the wall slid back to reveal a chamber bearing the same mirrored surfaces. The center of the table was adorned with a five-sided crystal table, surrounded by five crystal chairs. The low lighting and reflective walls caused to casual observer to be totally oblivious to the furniture.
Four of the chairs were filled with figures, wearing the same hooded robes as Vanessa and Andrew. The hidden doorway slid back into its niche, and all six of the chamber’s occupants removed their hoods. The six all bore the same haughty posture, born from lives of power and luxury. Andrew and Vanessa were stark contrast to the other occupants, young and vibrant among wizened elders. Two men and two women, each of at least seventy years, bearing silvered hair and ponderous expressions.
‘You’re late,’ accused the man to their right, ‘the matron of the society cannot afford to keep the council waiting Vanessa.’
‘Yes, Titos. I am well aware that I am late. You know as well as I do that these new measures are making everything take a little longer. As for the council, I believe the issues we are gathered to discuss warrants a few wasted minutes.’ Vanessa moved to the final empty chair, ‘Andrew, it is time for you to leave us.’
‘Yes, I will see myself out.’ Andrew quickly crossed the chamber, exiting the door opposite his entry, and ensuring it was sealed behind him.
Titos furrowed his heavy brow as his gaze turned to Vanessa. ‘Why did you bring him here, these matters are too delicate to escape the ears of the council.’
‘Well, we are lucky we were not discussing said matters in his presence then, aren’t we uncle? He was my companion as I travelled the city streets, safety in numbers as they say.’ Vanessa turned her gaze downward, studying the man that was hovering slightly above the table before her. His head situated at her end of the table, she watched intensely as the muscles in his face twitched, confessing his nerves to her. Sweat began to drip through the man’s mouse-brown hair, travelling down the ropey locks and dripping onto the table beneath him. Each drop fell only a small distance before it fizzled out of existence. Torn clothing clung loosely to his shoulders and hips, and he sported several bruises from some recent struggle. Breathing heavily, he otherwise hovered in silence.
Vanessa addressed the council, swinging her gaze towards Titos. ‘Let us convene the sixty-fourth council of the Black Rose, called together by Titos Varun. Titos, for what reason have you gathered us?’
‘My agents captured the man you see before us two nights past as he departed The Wanderer’s Resolve Tavern. A suspected agent of Boram Darkwill, thirteen hours of interrogation confirmed this.’ Titos gestured to the man on the table, who’s breathing tightened. ‘Seated before you is Markus Rehn, messenger and errand boy of Boram Darkwill. Upon discovering this information, I called the council to hear what information he can provide, and face the council’s judgement.’
A smile crept onto Vanessa’s face as she once again surveyed the prisoner. ‘Well, what news did our new friend have for us?’
‘He was involved in delivering two messages, both to important figures; One to Marc Tiberius, and the second to General Salith. Both messages were from Darkwill’s own hand, pertaining to important information regarding the restoration of Noxus.’ The prisoner’s eyes began rolling in their sockets at the mention of the letters, his breathing grew faster and his brow creased. Despite the obvious distress, he remained silent. ‘The letter addressed to General Salith pertained to the corpse of the recently deceased ruler of Noxus, our good friend Gareth Wryman. The body was to be burned, and the ashes shipped to Bilgewater on a trading galley, where they would be scattered into the Guardian’s Sea. A body double was to take his place at the state funeral, after Darkwill’s magicians had altered his appearance.
The second letter, addressed to Marc Tiberius regarded the security of Noxus during the transition of power. It stated that a rogue group of magicians sought to undermine the transition, and requested that Tiberius aid Darkwill in putting down the pretenders who label themselves the Black Rose.
‘So, Darkwill is disposing of the evidence he murdered Wryman, and trying to get Tiberius to root us out for him, and this puppet is his tool for doing so.’ Vanessa casually flicked a lock of hair behind her shoulder. ‘I don’t suppose there is any disagreement on the council’s judgement of this individual?’
A silence loomed over the chamber, no objections, no questions.
‘Markus Rehn, servant of Boram Darkwill, this council finds you guilty of treason and conspiracy against the rightful authority of Noxus. The Council of the Black Rose condemns you to death.’
Vanessa snapped her fingers, and the ceiling above them shattered into a million razor-sharp shards. As one, they pointed towards the prisoner and drove into his body. His eyes grew wide and his breathing slowed, and it was over. The shards retreated to the ceiling, magically reforming into a single, unbroken mirror.
The council exited the chamber, and the corpse of Markus Rehn slowly lowered towards the crystal table. An instant before contact was made, the corpse disappeared, leaving only a wisp of smoke and the stench of singed hair.