A page exits the Grand Duchess's wing of the palace, several messages stuffed into his satchel for delivery. Walking swiftly, he makes his way through the crowds of people that always seem to be present at the palace.
The extra wieght on the doors swings it wider than had hoped, a trail of blood following the door's path. Hanging on the door is one of Victoria's messangers, quiet dead, a single spike run through his heart, pinning him to the door. Attached to the spike is a rolled up parchment, tied with red silk ribbon and attached to the spike.
The young lady in waiting sreams, and promptly passes out cold. In the blink of an eye Chip is standing there, but where he had come from you couldn't exactly say he appeared so quickly. He reaches out and takes the parchment off the spike and unfurls it....
I'm terribly sorry to hear that your so called "Heroes of the Breach" have decided not to help me find my lost stone, but such is the way of things. I'd hoped not to have to worry about these morsels as I searched the hills. Suffice it to say that if their paths cross mine or my family that things will not end well for them. If your Grace is truly concerned about their well being, I would then strongly suggest you speak to them about not treading on my family's feeding grounds. To do so would be, well, devastating to the residents of the Breach. As well, if your Grace is truly a benefactor of these people as you have claimed to be, I would hold you responsible for their actions. Do not meddle in the affairs that could lead you to harm your Grace, it would be a shame for the realm to lose another Masterson.
And just as a side note, you should guard your cellar a bit more, several of your servants have been tasting the vintage stored there according to my pallet.
Victoria stands in the hallway, visibly calm to those who might be watching, but inside anger builds, how dare he invade her home she thinks. Her newest Lady-in-Waiting lies unconscious on the floor and a body is dripping blood on the floor. Chip had handed her the parchment just a few moments ago, and with barely contained anger had set about increasing the guard and started questioning those who had been on duty as to what they had seen or heard.
Looking at the pages that just arrived and is bowing before her, she says to one “Thomas, get to the Fatespinner’s room as quickly as you can….tell her what has happened and request the she come personally with healers.” Turning to the second young man, she says “Colin, you head off the Arcane Sanctum. Inform the Regent, Az’Caine, that the palace has been breached by an intruder who has committed murder within these walls. He may come to investigate himself if he wishes; otherwise I will be happy to keep him informed as to our findings.” And turning to the final page before her, she says “Will, please head off to the barracks and inform the Commander what has occurred and ask him to come so that he may be involved in the investigation.”
She turns to watch her pages as they rush out the door and sees Laurent standing there. She says to the guards at the door “Let him pass” and gestures for Laurent to approach.
Will escorts the Commander to the Grand Duchess's wing of the Palace, extra guards having been posted along the way. Taking the Commander past two guards at the start of the main hallway in the Duchess's wing, Will stands to the side so the Commander can see the end of the hall where the Duchess is standing with others around a very gruesome sight. "Here you are Sir" he says and bows once again.
Az'Caine scans the throne room. Immediately he checks the Circle of Power encompassing the King's throne to find it is secure. His next stop is the King's private chambers to ensure the Wards are in place. Satisfied that they are, Az'Caine then makes his way to the Vaults.
Seeing the doors secured and the Wards and Circles still in place the ArchMage finds himself heading towards the Duchess' wing of the palace.
Hearing Will's voice at the other end of the hall, Victoria turns to note that the Commander has arrived and that coming up just behind him was the Fatespinner. She waits patiently for them to arrive at the scene.
The moment Zanthia sees the bodies on the floor she rushes over to them, careful not to disturb anything. A glange at the messenger's body immediately tells her that he is dead, and since his body is still here, he is not coming back. Turning her attention to the young woman, she uses her skills to check her over and is relieved.
"She has only fainted. No physical damage done." Zanthia calls up her power, "I command you to awaken." The girl's eyes slowly flutter open. "How are you feeling?"
"A little light headed My Lady Fatespinner." Alexandria says as she starts sitting up carefully, she sees the dripping body still on hanging on the door and her face turns white, but she doesn't faint this time. "I think I'd like to go lie down if that is alright." She looks to the Grand Duchess, her new employer, saying "That is if you don't need me Your Grace."
"I think the Commander and perhaps even the Fatespinner may have some questions for you dear, but once they have asked you anything they need to, you may certainly be excused from service for the remainder of the day." Victoria says to her newest lady-in-waiting.
Az'Caine approaches the macabre scene. He nods to both the Fatespinner and the Commander. Without missing a beat he continues down the corridor to the Duchess' private chambers. He stops at the door and holds out his hand. Feeling the Ward placed around the room is still intact he drops his hand to his side. Not even waiting, he pushes open the door and enters her chambers. Once again he holds up his hand and slowly turns in place, his eyes closed. The ArchMage can feel the Ward's presence and ensures that all exits to the chamber is secure. The windows and doorways are all secure and there has been no attempt at breaching the Ward.
Satisfied that this room is secure, the ArchMage steps out of the room, closes the door and then proceeds to the Duchess' solarium.
Upon the Arch Mages' approach, Victoria says "Thank you for coming Arch Mage. As you are Regent currently until my brother returns, I demand to know what you are going to do about this intruder? He threatens the good people of this country, as well as myself, and has breached the very Palace itself! It is your duty as Regent to see that this creature is dealt with to protect the people!" She looks boldly at Az'Caine while delivering her speech, her anger at this intrusion finally unable to be contained. Beside her, Chip stands a bit taller and puffs out his chest, ready to protect the Duchess if need be.
The ArchMage raises an eyebrow in a mixture of disbelief, anger and sheer disdain for the Duchess. "How dare you?" he yells towards the Duchess, his voice raised, apparently at a boiling point. As he grasps his staff tightly and the aura of power in his hands intensifies. "You brash, impudent child! I will well advise you to watch your tone with me, Regeant or not. I will not have the likes of YOU making demands of me! Who do you think you are, really? A Duchess by deeds of her BROTHER and NOTHING more! I would well advise you to concentrate more on finding your brother than throwing lavish parties at the expense of the people who you say you serve! If your brother, our King, fails to be rescued, your reign as Duchess will be at an end once a new King is declared by the Grand Council." by this time shadows have formed behind the ArchMage, his hands glowing so fiercely with power, and he looks as though he has grown taller and become younger during his tirade.
Looking over to her bodyguard the ArchMage steps closer to the Duchess. "If he takes one more step or reaches for his weapon there will be a charred stain on the ground where he was standing". He leans in so close to her face that she can feel the heat of his Celestial magics and it stings her. His voice lowers to a whisper and his eyes narrow. "If you ever forget your place again in such a manner with so many as witnesses to your impudence, I will OBLITERATE you from existance. If you take it upon yourself to be these people's proclaimed benefactor and overreach, then you will pay the price," pausing to look at the door with the macabre ornament nailed to it "and apparently with the blood of others. I hope for your sake the games you continue play do not harm more innocents."
Az'Caine steps back and calms slightly. The shadows surrounding him fade and his grip on his staff loosens. His wrinkles once again line his face and he shrinks back to fit his original frame and the glow surrounding his hands lessen. He turns to Commander Strongbow. "Commander, the Palace Wards and Circles are intact and show no signs of tampering or attempts at breaching. As far as the Sanctum is concerned the Palace is secure. As for the non-warded areas, that is up to the Home Guard to investigate."
"I will be back at the Conclave Penta concentrating my efforts on returning the King to his throne. If you happen to apprehend this Vampire, then the Sanctum will adjuicate his trial on charges or break and enter, murder and of course Mockery of a Noble." Az'Caine last words, dripping with venom, clear his lips. His gaze settles upon the Duchess once again. "Your... Grace.." he says as though speaking to a child.
With that he turns to leave, waiting only a moment for any in the room to retort.
Victoria smirks as Az'Caine walks away, motioning for Chip to relax as she does so. She does so love getting under that old goats skin...although he was very angry this time and even though she did not back down or even flinch, and even now has a slight smile on her face, inside she is seething with anger and yes a bit scared at his display of power if she were to admit it…not that she ever would of course. She glances at Laurent, pondering his potential as her “advocate” in the political world and wondering if he would come to her defense, even against someone as powerful as Az’Caine, if there ever came a day when it was truly needed.
As for his misguided notions about throwing parties instead of helping to find her brother....if he only knew the resources she has sent out in search of a means to rescue the King, was it not her people that found the 4th map piece? And parties are simply a nice gesture to reward the people who have put their lives on the line, and indeed lost friends during their struggles, it is the least that any monarch should be doing for the people of their country who are doing what the people of Parson's Breach are doing. But then Az'Caine doesn't really seem to care much about the people themselves, he is all for the King. Which is fine as well, even necessary perhaps, but someone needs to be concerned about the actual human lives being put on the line and that is why she has taken it upon herself to take care of them. A good ruler must be able to focus on more than one problem or situation at a time, Az'Caine seems to be focusing solely on finding the King and cares about nothing else...so someone has to pick up the slack for him, even if he doesn't like her "meddling".
"Commander and Zanthia, if you have no further need of me at this moment, I must see to extra guards, have a letter sent to this boys family with condolences and money for the funeral, as well as various other items that need my attention including how to deal with this Vampire, since the "most powerful" person in this kingdom doesn't seem to care at the moment. We have people to protect as best we can. Chip and any of my guards will be available to you both should you have more questions. Laurent, come with me and we will have our meeting now while I work." With a nod to both the Commander and the Fatespinner, Victoria heads back into her solarium to work. They know where to find her should they require anything else.