Darkest Mercy

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The wind howled through the night. Ice hit the glass windows of her contemporary loft. Late in winter these storms didn't happen often. Unprepared humans clung to their hoodies and jackets. Chroma knew that this wasn't a normal ice storm. The magic behind every ice drop that fell on the glass of her window she was familiar with. If humans knew the fey they were walking past as they hurried into cover they would either run and hide in fear or perhaps be mesmerized. Chroma leaned her head against the window and listened to the pitter patter of the ice. She knew the reason why the meteorologists were wrong about the current weather. The Winter King was in mourning. Some thing had gone wrong.
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Whatever that SOMETHING was, she refused to be concerned. Even if it involved the dashing Winter King, it didn't involve her court. So instead she decided to simply watch the hurt ice fall from the sky. Her court would not be concerned with whatever was hurting the Winter King at the moment. Right now her court was well out of sight and strong. That is all she needed in order to be considered a strong ruler. Outside she saw a few of her people walking in the ice cold, they stopped and bowed when they saw her in the window, whether it be in the middle of the street or sidewalk.
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It had been many several minutes of looking out the window when her advisor walked into the room. Turning her head she hadnt realized frost has been spreading down her cheek.

"My Queen, something has happened." Was all her advisor said as she walked into the modern contemporary room, steel furniture lacing every square foot.
The first day cast an omen
Fortifying fears
Frozen, fleeting moments
Caught in icy tears

The second day casts shadow
The storm is closing in
Mourning of our losses
The snow and ice and wind

The third day will wreak havoc

To those on earth that live
Rejoice now to the heavens
To those with life that live

The fourth day, white will blanket
Snow to earth has wept
To those that died, the northern skies
Will hail for their death.

~Mourning hymn of the Winter Court~

View attachment 3676The poetic words of the forefathers brought little comfort to Eldren Durante, ruler and King of the Icy Winter court. His mind was heavy with frustration and concern as thick sheets of ice and snow relentlessly rained down over the earth, perfectly mirroring his own emotions. It was truly a spectacle to behold. The mourning loss and traditional four day storm signified the intense inner pain felt by all those loyal to the Winter court. It was proof that they weren't as cold and emotionless as they appeared to be, at least on the inside.

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Eldren stared out the window of his heavily guarded throne room. He knew by the fourth day all the surrounding courts would feel the frozen wrath. This was a good thing, he wanted them all to feel the cold, wanted their boots to lay heavy footsteps on the frozen ground, and above all else, wanted them to be as cold as his own mourning minions on this most sorrowful of days. For on this day, The King suspected foul play within the Courts.

To be clear, the four day storm of mourning was a sign of respect to the dead. It did not vary in ferocity due to rank, social standing or political importance. Every man, women and child that lived inside the walls of the Winter court would be mourned the same.

And so goes on the cycle of life, gifted by humanity and brought to end by the forces of nature

Footsteps echoed through the outer chambers of the throne room where two heavily armored Knights stood at ever-ready guard. When there was no pause between the footsteps and the sound of the Throne room door opening, The Winter king knew exactly who it was, the only one granted immediate access to his inner chambers, his trusted Chancellor, Amen Judiah.

Amen had worked in service of the King since his reign began, and before that, was a dear friend and faithful adviser to the previous King. His dedicated servitude was well known throughout the Court. While his current duty consisted mostly of unquestioningly listening to The Winter Kings decisions and delivering them to the knights and servants that carried out his bidding, as of late he had been curious about the King. It seemed he was preoccupied by something, although as to what it was? This Remained a mystery to Amen.

After the Throne room door was tightly closed, and the two men were alone, safe from the ears of the guards outside, the King spoke.

"Four days of storm, my friend. Once again our collective loss will be felt throughout the land."

Outside the stained glass windows that hung over head, the storm continued to pound in steady, ice laced sheets.

"I fear that The Winter court may be in danger and I wish to seek counsel with the Chorma, the Metal Queen"

His voice was cold and stern, giving no sign of anything other than duty, but still Amen thought he noticed a twinge of something else in his voice as he spoke the metal Queens name.

"I would like for you to arrange a meeting between the us, not the Courts, but her and I alone"

Eldren handed his loyal Chancellor a letter, stamped with the his own personal seal.

Amen stared at his beloved king and ruler for a split second before bowing deeply and turning to fulfill his request. And that very day, that very hour, a message was on its way to the beautiful metal queen requesting her company.

Within the letter were the following words.


As I am sure you have noticed, we have lost one of our court. The storms of mourning have begun, and will continue for three more days. I wish this could wait, but I am regrettably in a situation that requires me to take immediate action. However, I do not wish to alert our respective courts, as this matter is sensitive. Please do me the honer of a meeting, two nights from today, when the moon is high and full. I have the designated location listed below, it is a neutral place between our two Courts. Bring only your personal guards as this should be kept as quiet as possible.

We have lost one of our own, and I fear the worst.

- Eldren Durante

The letter was passed into the hands of the fastest messenger and well on its way to the Metal court by nightfall.
Aleena gazed out through frost covered windows at the hail of sorrow abusing her castle. "You have got to be kidding me." She turned to the servant scrubbing the floor around her throne, though it was obvious she wasn't actually lowering herself to the point of talking to it. "Do you see this?" She thrust her hand at the storm and rolled dark grey eyes. "Absolutely ridiculous." She muttered a string of obscenities that, when carried by her chocolate voice, sounded more like a caress than the insult they were. "I mourn every time a Winterling dies too." She grumbled, yanking the curtains until they shut out the offending storm. "I mourn decent weather and nights without hail."

The Dark Queen heaved a put-upon sigh and floated from the room, shadows trailing around her so as to give the illusion of her feet not actually touching the ground. If she worked at it, she could truly stand upon the summoned darkness, but it wasn't worth the effort in her own castle. She slipped through a hidden doorway and wound her way up the spiral staircase that lead to the inner chamber where she hid from the world. Very few people even knew the turret was there, let alone how to get into it. One man however, somehow found his way in no matter how many ways she tried to hide it. This man awaited her when she opened the wooden door and stepped inside.

"Kheldar. How do you always find me?" She greeted him with a passionate kiss that stole his breath; a typical hello for close friends and family. "I cast a light and look in the opposite direction, my queen." The little man replied with a sly smile. Laughing, Aleena took a seat on the plush velvet couch that adorned the entire left side of the room. "What news do you bring me?"

Kheldar and Aleena had grown up together, two thirds of a friendship that had lost their final counterpart around the same time as Aleena gained the throne. Kheldar and the third person were the only other people who knew precisely what happened to cause Aleena's sudden rise to power. Of course, there were countless rumours, but no one knew for certian. Upon the loss of the third man, Aleena and Kheldar grew very close and she took him with her when she became queen, appointing him her spy master; a job he had excelled at beyond her wildest imaginings.

The two Fae talked for hours about the rise and fall of the powers within the other courts, of notable relationships and suspected crimes. The spy master indulged the queen's every curiosity until she had heard all the news the world had to offer; for this was the dark queen's greatest asset. Unbeknownst to the other courts, Aleena held the ropes to the most extensive spy network in the Fae kingdoms; even having infiltrated a few of the other court's castles. She led her people with a confidence fed by information and her rule had been a successful one.

When the moon had fallen prey to the rising of the sun, Aleena grew tired of talking and offered Kheldar a place in her bed. The spy master accepted, admittedly not only for duty as she was surely one of the most beautiful Fae he had ever seen, and satiated his queen's physical needs as much as he had her others before they both fell into a slumber that drowned out the wailing of the winter king's storm and the rest of the world with it.

The cold winter swept even the walls of the Wraith court, an irritation to Daevas that he barely tolerated. It was infuriating that the cold weather would affect his court, not because he preferred the sunshine and warmth -- he did not -- but because it showed that the Winter Court affected his court as well. The icy wind reflected Daevas's lack of ability to control the weather around his own court, even if he'd probably keep it cold anyway.

Sitting on his chill black throne, Daevas tapped his fingers one by one of the armrest of the chair and looked out the window. It was a shame, he thought, that he could not get along well with the Winter court, but they were too sympathetic to the others and too soft in general. Daevas yawned and wondered what exactly was going on to cause this mourning by winter, though he did not care so much as was curious.

"Brother! Come here" Daevas yelled to the next room, frowning.

Daevas might once have considered trying to get along with Winter or one of the others, when he was in brighter spirits. It was the others' faults though, and Daevas blamed them bitterly. The one joy in his life, the one light that had given him something to be happy about, had been stolen away from him. This was of course the Queen of the Wraith Court, the beloved bride of Daevas.

Where Daevas was cold and manipulative, his queen had not been taken from his own court and had not been the same. She had been more gentle than he and more willing to get along with the other courts, as well as to encourage Daevas's cooperation. She had been the one to stir the currents of his heart and now she was gone.

Though he did not know who had taken her, she'd been stolen from him. This much Daevas knew, she'd gone missing from her chambers one morning but he knew in his heart that she would never have left him. Daevas had decided that it must have been one of the other courts, to gain leverage or simply to hurt him, that had taken his wife.

Chroma ripped open the blue wax seal. The envelope was cold to the touch, and as the lid to the envelope opened a hint of frost covered the corners, sending a chill from her fingertips down her spine. Carefully she read and re-read the words that had been written on the paper.
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Turning to her advisor she handed the letter to her and smiled before excusing her. The Winter court was the most loyal of all. So it came as no surprise that the King would fear the worst if one of his people were killed under (what she could only assume from the urgency in which the letter was taken down) more than suspicious circumstances.

But she had an obligation to serve her own court. Her fey were solitaries. She understood their independent allegiance to her and their selected freedom from ice, sunshine or darkness. Helping the Winter court could result in her own people being dragged into something she feared could be messy. And she must, above all, protect her people.
There was also the concern that plagued her and worried her court. She was mostly human. Though she held some fey qualities, nearly seventy percent of her remained fragile and breakable. And this, she knew, was an easy target. Though she didn't like to admit it, she was almost always in immediate danger.

All night she pondered these thoughts and weighed the options. Before she fell into a deep sleep she knew one thing: Had it been any other court the request for a meeting would have been quickly denied. But, it was his. So she was to go. Whether or not she would offer her help was still to be seen.

Two nights passed.

As she stood in front of the mirror getting ready she mulled over a multitude of things. Sweeping silver eye shadow over the lids of her gray eyes she thought about the strange goings on within Winter court. Carefully applying black liquid to her lashes she shouted for her advisor.

"Yes my Queen?" Her advisor asked moments later.

Turning to look at the fey she considered her friend, the flecks of steel in her eye shadow sparkled in the light. "Send a guard out to learn about the current state of each court. I want them back and in full knowledge by the end of the night." Turning back to her mirror she picked up her lipstick tube.

"Yes my Queen." Taking the message she left promptly.

For what must have been a good five minutes she started at her lipstick tube. Steel also laced the contents of her lipstick. With a defeated sigh she put down the tube and opted for costume makeup that was also silver but didn't contain any iron or steel. Swiping the lipstick on followed by a wet, clear gloss she walked out of the bathroom, slipped into her silver dress and put on her black high heeled shoes.

Walking out of the building she motioned for four of her guards to follow. The letter specified two but she didn't care, for her safety she would bring four. Turning to her guards she smiled as she clicked the button to open the locks on the car door of her silver Audi R8.

"Please follow me by foot, I do no wish you to endure the ride in my steel transport. We are traveling to the fey Library." And with that she turned and slid into her favorite car, her steel haven. Tires squealing on the cement she raced out of the parking garage in a flash of stylish steel.
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A few minutes later.

The wheels of her car skidded to a stop. Stepping out of the car and into the snow covered pathway that lead to the large oak doors of the long abandoned Library she walked forward. Unflinching when snow melted into her shoes. Her high heels clicked on the stairs as she walked up the to the double doors and yanked open the door.

Two of her guards stood at either side of her, protecting their loved Queen.

The shapes the shadows made made her nervous, as they seemed to follow her up the staircase and into the room that had a door handle frosted over with ice. Bowing her head she acknowledged the Winter King that stood before her.

View attachment 3707Eldren knew that time was of the essence, that wasn't even a question, if there was something rotten within the courts, it was only a matter of time before sides would have to taken, and inevitably, swords would have to be drawn. However something else sat simmering on the back-burner of his mind. It played in his thoughts, as if to tease him; Was making and establishing an alliance with the Metal court the true reason Eldren wanted to meet with Chroma?

The storm continued to pound down from the heavens. Cold, relentless and brutal. An endless sea of white covered everything, representing death and promising revenge on those responsible.

View attachment 3708The Winter King, along with his two Henchmen who stood broad chested and easily shared 13 feet between the two of them, stood on the top floor of the library. The heavy plumes of steam that rose from Eldrens lips turned to shards of glass in the air and crumbled to the ground. The three men were dressed in long navy colored leather coats with thick fur lining. Large hoods were pulled over their heads and heavy boot clad feet stood steadfast on the cold ground of the abandoned library. Really, the only distinguishing feature of the three men was the icy air that surrounded the King, for as his tittle implied, his powers were the strongest.

As footsteps approached, the Henchmen's hands instinctively fell on their swords. Eldren raised his hand, for at that moment the Queen of the metal court came into view.

Eldren felt a not unwelcome tinge of heat in his chest.

After he returned the bow he beckoned the Queen to walk with him to a near by window, where outside Snow pelted the earth with vicious ferocity.

"Chroma, as you know we are in mourning. It has come to my understanding that there is foul play within the courts. I suspect that the War court is behind it, but I am not sure...."

He paused as frost gently fell from his lips

"....Not sure enough to go to war. However, in the event that war is eminent I wish to make an allegiance with the Metal Court."

After he had finished speaking he let his cold, steel blue eyes fall upon Chroma. She was clad in a beautiful dress and accents of metallic iridescent light shone off her face. At that moment, Eldren was consumed by a sudden fire in his chest, it took all his strength to hold it back and keep his seemingly emotionless demeanor.
The golden halls were dimmed by the season yet still they echoes with the sounds of merriment. The throne room itself with its piles of cushions for assembled courtiers were alive with motions as sensual as they were erotic. If spring was the season of love then summer was the season of blind passion but not even the girl resting her head on his knee, the bright beads accenting her strait, dark hair could ease his troubled mind.

Her head shot up as the self titled lord of light, king of the summer court stood his staff of office in his hand as he gazed over the hall. He lifted the staff and brought it dons on the stone dais it's ring permeating every corner. Slowly, meekly, the girl stood and descended the dais. The courtiers scrambled to pay attention their cries and moans of extract ceasing as he dismissed them with a wave of his hand.

"What is it Lord?"

He held up his hand as the room emptied the delights of summer merely irritating in their constant interruption of his train of thought. Alone now he sat back down.


It was then that he hear it, the soft patter of stealthy footsteps, someone running without wanting to do heard. Be ducked to the side as where his head had been the split second before exploded the bullet ricocheting off the stone throne before a ray of light shone from one of the high windows and reflected from the staff up into the recesses of the ceiling. With a scream he knew he had found the assassin and he was now blinded, what he didn't expect was the falling body as the assassin lost his footing and plummeted to the stone floor.

There wasn't much left to look at, a puddle, what looked like a split sack filled with the bits thrown away by a butchery. But the cloths were unmistakable and the face half familiar.

"As i feared..." he turned to the guards running up the hall. "The winter court ambassador, Emmerson. Bring him here now, in chains, he will answer for this." He stepped into the puddle and bent down to left the gun that almost ended his life as the guard ran off, to return minuets later a man in sleeping cloths, bound and blindfolded.

The lord of light ripped the blindfold from the man's face and pressed the gun to the man's forehead. "You have ten seconds to explain why an assassin tried to take my life." he half shouted as the man stammered. The gun collided with the side of the mans head. "He wears the cloths of your people, his face is of your people. I have seen him in your court myself, why has he broken into my palace to kill me.

He knew why... Winter's power was waning and summer's was rising, winter wanted to stay on top. "Expel him from the kingdom, him and all him countrymen! Let them take word to their king their plan failed." he turned away from the man as he was dragged off. "And call my scribe. We will need allies."

Once again he sat on the damaged throne, regal, unconquerable. Even though winter had many allies the children of summer would not stand by and accept the odds. If he could give Darkness a reason to join him they may not have to face winter alone.
Walking forward and keeping her eyes on the ice that hit the floor outside she stated one simple fact: "You're fortunate to have received a meeting with me at all." Had it been any other court the meeting would have been denied.

The moment she turned around to find his ice blue eyes staring at her intently it was as if a cage full of overly anxious butterflies exploded into her stomach. Carefully she kept her game face going. Silently however she was cursing her human condition for sending a rush of blood up to her cheeks.

Putting a hand on his arm they walked forward. "The War court thrives in discord and chaos. It is natural to assume they are behind any acts you find out of the ordinary or suspicious. However, don't assume things too quickly." As she spoke her last words she let her eyes wander by the shadows that seemed to be moving in odd ways.

The frost from his breaths grazed her cheeks. Then he asked the inevitable question. Alliance. Stopping their walk she looked at him and furrowed her bow just slightly.
"War is far too large an act to impose on the fey as a whole, Winter, Summer, Dark or Metal for the death of one." Metal and Winter shared many qualities, but also had many oppositions. Unfortunately they both shared unmoving stubbornness. Glaciers cannot be melted and steel cannot be bent.

And in her mind she silently added: 'And I'm human! I don't have super speed, my skin is fragile and my military skills are LACKING! Are you NUTS!?'

Trying to look at his handsome face and speak the next sentence at the same time was a challenge. But somehow it came out as smooth as iron. "I won't grant your request."
View attachment 3728In the large halls of the abandoned library, Chroma's words reverberated off the walls and planted them selves defiantly in Eldren's ears, like a milk thistle deeply rooted in an otherwise beautiful garden. Her response was direct and seemingly absolute, but the Winter King gave no sign of caring, no sign of opposition or inclination towards argument. He simply continued looking at her with the same emotionless, cold expression.

It was apparent to Eldren that she wasn't seeing the whole picture, but instead viewing it through a long, one-way tunnel. He didn't attribute this to his own Kingdoms personal experience with war, or to her obvious lack there of, but instead he took solace in the fact that once her eye's were open to the larger image, she would be frightened to stand alone against a force as self-serving as the treacherous War court. The winter King, inspired by the hope that they could work together, spoke again. This time he painted a more detailed picture of what he suspected.

"I honor your words, your majesty"

his voice Cold as frozen brick

"However, I am not here on a self-serving mission. While it is true, only one man died, you have to realize that there is more at play. The war court, as I am sure you know, is an truly underhanded group. If I am correct in believing that they are behind this...."

He paused, searcing for words, knowing that he had to be careful what he said. Laying blame on another court, even the war court, could be a deadly decision.

"...Then this is just the beginning. I do not wish to go to war over one mans death, however from this apparent Murder other events are on the horizon that will spark and expose corruption in the courts. I won't ask you again, but know this. If the true nature of this event reveals itself, we will have one of two relationships: Standing side by side or divided and therefore against one another."

He threw cation to the icy wind, and spoke with utter conviction

"Mark my words, Chroma, the war court, more than anything else, wants us to be divided."

Although his voice remained neutral, in tone and volume, his words still carried. Both Tristam and Bishop stirred, ever so slightly, as their king laid down his true feelings on the matter. Both Henchmen knew that this could very well be the end of the meeting, and more than that, it would mean that the Winter court stood alone.

((OOC, was told by Symphony that I was still considered in this even though I didn't get a chance to post till today, I'll whip up a proper character sheet in the sign up thread if anyone wants to see it.))

Several days ago his network had informed him of a clandestine meeting between the courts of Metal and Ice. Such a meeting wasn't commonplace in their world, and it warrant a personal touch. Taking his leave of his mistress Aleena, he went to do what he excelled so well at. Lingering within the shadows. None save for Aleena knew what his face actually even looked. He always kept himself shouded in shadows and darkness. Often times he would simply go stalk someone just to keep himself sharp and ontop of his trade.

For now however, he was collecting valued information for his queen. Information that would rattle the collective courts to it's core. An act of war was suspected of the War court, and a possible allegence was attempting to be brokered by the court of Ice. He found it curious that the Ice court would be the one to seek it. Perhaps they intended to seek retirbution and were looking for support? Nevertheless, it wasn't his place to impose his own views on the facts. He reported only what he saw. Not what he thought.

Kheldar stood motionless and quiet in the still of the dark and shadows of the library eavesdropping on the meeting. The man with no face would have much to tell his mistress. Of this she was certain to be quite interested. This turn of events was starting to make him wonder just how the state of the courts would fare after this ordeal had sorted itself. What did fate hold in store for them?
Chroma listened carefully. But he spoke as though she were one of them, and though she was a regent of a court she was not. She was human.

"I take heed in your statements Winter, but as you know I must look out for my people and you're not sure." The winter cold was beginning to get to her, angrily she forced the shivers away from her body.

"When you are sure, call on me again and you shall have your answer." And that was that, she could not melt an iceburg, and his cold hands could not bend steel. "Until then I will, as I always do remain neutral." Right then she wanted to tell him she was inexperienced. She needed help, she needed training. But none of those words could get past the wall of pride that covered her mouth shut.

Then, it happened. Though she was regal, though she was self-assured and moved forward with great purpose sometimes she was also prone to involuntary falling down. Translation: She is a tad clumsy.

A book that hand't been there a few moments ago slid infront of her foot, and the moment she started to side step him to leave she instead tripped, held onto his arm and fell, pulling him right along with him. With a thud they both hit the floor.

((K Everyone! Sorry about the plot hogging, mine and Winters are pretty much done, Summer, Dark, War! TAke the stage! AFter Octy's post I exit stage left.))
View attachment 3742Eldren was not an unrealistic King, he understood that there were a number of reasons why Chroma was questioning him. It was, after all, a spur of the moment decision by The Winter king. His two dedicated Henchmen looked on, awaiting their command to escort the King from the Library back to the castle.

"I understand, and respect your decision. Remaining neutral might be the best thing for the Metal court to do at present time."

He lowered his head, ever so slightly, keeping his ice cold eyes trained on her.

Just as he was turning to leave, Chroma slipped, and at the same time she grabbed Eldrens arm and pulled him to the ground. They landed in a very awkward, but nonetheless compromising position, with her legs straddling his midsection. Eldren stared up from the ground, her face only inches from his own, their lips practically breathing the same air. He could feel the heat from her body, as steam began to rise from where their bodies touched. There was a moment when Eldren was sure he was going to kiss her, but then…

"Sir, Durante!"

Yelled Bishop, his sword drawn, with Tristam not far behind him. The henchmen were so dedicated that if the King was really being attacked by the Queen, they wouldn't have thought twice about killing her.

"Sir, what is this trickery!"

"At ease, men, at ease. It was but an accident. If you would be so kind as to help us up?"

This interruption by his Henchmen was no doubt for the best. After Eldren and Chroma were helped to their feet, The winter King took his leave. Barely bothering to say goodbye to the Metal Queen. If she wanted something more from him, he would leave that up to her.

As the saying went in chess

The move was now on her side of the board.

Once back at the castle, Amen, The chancellor to the winter King, who seemingly never took a day off, announced what had happened in the Summer court. The Winter king simply stared out the window where the four day storm was coming to an end. He knew that this was going to happen.
He knew.

"I feared this, Amen. We are no doubt being turned against one another. It is my suspicion that the war court is behind this, and if they have their way we will all kill each other off, leaving them the dominate force by default. In the event that war is sought by the Summer court, we will fight. I see no hope in negotiations now, but keep in mind, they are not our true enemy, but instead a puppet of a truly greater evil"


The feral smile on Daevas's face expressed no genuine joy at all but rather the searing satisfaction that all was going according to his plan. The servant bearing the information, in the absence of his chancellor who seemed to have taken ill, bowed low to tell him of the tension between winter and summer. The click of his nails on the throne halted when the servant continued on with his words "The Trackers have worked tirelessly but there is still no clue to the whereabouts of the Queen..." Daevas slammed his palm against the chilled black stone of this throne.

"NOTHING?! How can there still be nothing? I told him to ignore every boundary, to search each court... Bring him before me!" Daevas's anger ignited, the servant nearly tripped over himself to hasten to the door.

"I will tell Huntmaster Gathas to come have an audience straight away, highness" the servant squeaked, slamming the door behind him as he left. Daevas exhaled sharply and rubbed his temples with one hand. He knew that his anger would not be productive to take out on the Huntmaster - never had a more loyal man served the court of war and it would do nothing to get angry with him. Instead, Daevas wished to request a Tracker to travel with in addition to a few of his guards. He would go to the court of Darkness himself, the only court he was still on relative speaking terms with, and speak with the Queen. It was impossible that Aesma could disappear and no one would know of her whereabouts. Daevas was willing to risk his hide believing in at least common interests to travel to the court and try to get information from another.
He waited for a long time after the Steel Queen and Frozen King left the confines of the structure. After they left and he decided the coast was decidedly clear he broke his cover. Long pointed tendrils of shadow creeped out from the darkness as a form seperated itself from a shadow next to a wall. Bathed in darkness he looked as though he was wearing large black cloak that had a mind of it's own. A black hood covered his head and total black shrouded his face. The only hint of anything behind the 'mask' were two triangle like eyes that cut the darkness. Quietly he strode through the empty library and made his exit.

His return to Aleena was timely. As he strode through the halls of her home his black hood peeled back and revealed his face to her. His short cut hair, stubble rimmed jaw and blue eyes greeted her with a nod of his head and a soft bow. "Aleena, my queen. I have information you. Information you will most enjoy."

He gestured for her to join him in her private quarters. "The Frost King and Steel Queen had a clandestine meeting. The Frost King suspects War is seeking to instigate a conflict after he'd lost someone. He was seeking aid from the Steel Queen. She refused opting for neutrality, but the possibility for an alliance between them stands. That is all my mistress."
A slow smile creeped across the queen's lips and she nodded slowly. "I expected neutrality from Chroma. Little girls should not play in Fae games. The queen has only lived this long because she is aware of this. But I did not expect Eldren to seek an alliance with her. Why would he turn to a notoriously neutral court with a weak leader for an alliance in a war against the second most deadly Fae court? I suspect there is more to that..."

She leaned back against her couch and sighed softly. "Occasionally it is very inconvenient to have a secret room. I have grown so accustomed to an obedient manservant." She rose and strode over to an aquarium lining the wall. She searched the tangled pile of reptiles and reached in, lifting rather large black and brown one. She lifted it so she may look into its beady little eyes. "I am hungry. Go to my kitchen and curl up on the counter, my chef will know what to do. Then return to me."

She dropped the snake outside the door and left it ajar as she fell back onto the couch. "So, my dear Kheldar. What action do you suggest we take?"
"It would be unwise to play our hand so soon, but they warrent supervision. It would also prove prudent to dispatch eyes on War to investigate Eldren's claims. Should he prove to be speaking truthfully they might prove to be a useful tool against the Wraith Court. As always though we should take care in collecting the facts before making any lasting moves. That is of course what I think my mistress."

He knelt before her, his cloak billowing and writhing about as if it were alive. A combination of the darkness and fabric mixed into one surreal combination to create the illusion he was something more. Something different. His mastery over the darkness was such that in a unique way he was able to bend the darkness around him. Use it to shield himself from light, from eyes, and magic if need be. The darkness was his home. When he rose his eyes met hers and his heart stopped a beat. Entranced by her, his mistress, his queen.
"Feel free to dispatch additional spies to the Wraith court, and gather as much information as possible from those already there. The same for the other courts, though they are not the priority at this time. We shall not yet move." She agreed. The door slid open a little and an angular brown head slipped through, followed by a long body holding a truly gigantic bulge.

She smiled and parted the shadows draping from her waist, revealing a length of porcelain leg. Pulling a dagger from a band around her thigh she reached down, cleanly slicing off the snake's head. The queen then dragged the blade down to the length of the reptile and lifted a covered tray from the remains. Removing the lid she lifted a cherry from the bowl and offered the food to Kheldar. She kissed the cherry from its stem and gazed at her spy master through her eyelashes.

"You will not leave my side until the hands of the other courts are revealed. And, of course, you will stay in my chambers." Her teeth would pull at her lower lip and she'd reach for another cherry. "Mmm..." She'd reach out toward him delicately. "I must speak with the Queen. But first..." She left the sentence hanging, her gaze a silent invitation.
The summer lord's anger had not abated and he would not wait.

Queen Aleena,

I bring bad tidings and a worse request.

War is looming between the courts of Summer and Winter after a failed attempt on my life.

We are mustering out entire army but the seasonal cycle still leaves us weak.

I request your aid in the coming conflict, with generous terms should your choose to ally with us, with me.

Aleena, this is a personal plea as well as on behalf of my court, with the known close relation between winter and metal I cannot stand alone in this.

Please consider my words, and think of that you would want in exchange.

The scribe finished copying the letter and placed it withing a protective casing. "See that she gets it or you'll have you life to pay." Surrounded by guards it was once again hard to thing, hard to concentrate, but not the uncertainty was over, the path clearer.
He nodded with her assesment and watched the overtly extragent delivery system at work. While most were unacustomed to Aleena's methods, Khel was intimately close to them. Often times he knew what she was thinking or what she wanted before she expressed the desire for it. It's part of why he worked so well as her information collector. Coupled with a skillset perfectly suited to being unseen or heard and getting what he needed. With Aleena's direction he cultivated an expansive and vast intelligence network. With arms that reached in many directions. And hands that touched everything.

"But of course m'lady. And what would have you me do?...."

He shed his cloak from which he was famous for being seen in. As it fell to the floor it seemed to writhe and crawl over towards the wall and coiled around the bed post of the massive and ornate wooden frame bed in her chambers. He slowly backed himself towards it until he felt the edge of her bed at the back of his legs.
She smiled at him and rose, gliding toward him upon a rolling cloud of shadows. "You know the answer to that, Kheldar." Her voice was like melted chocolate, her skin like slivers of moonlight through dark clouds. She stole his lips and his breath in a kiss as they tumbled to the satin covers, their lust so passionate and deep it could be mistaken for love by a more romantic person.

After close to a fourth of a day spent in bed with her Spy Master, Aleena rose and made her customary appearance to her castle, eating and retrieving her mail. She issued a few idle orders, one of which was to have her sheets changed and a buffet of food delivered to her bed chambers for Kheldar; she knew he would be more comfortable not showing his face. Plus, she wanted to keep him there for when she returned, she had no doubt she would need him at least twice more before sun down.

Her gaze caught on a message from the Summer king which she read, and had to read again for laughter had blurred her vision. The trio of manservants at her feet looked to her curiously. "The King of Summer wants me to fight for him." She chuckled, resting the tip of the paper against the lit wick of a nearby candle. "Write the presumptuous ass and tell him that I demand vassalage for me to even consider his request." She ordered no one in particular before taking her leave in the direction of her secret room.

She walked past the door to the room she usually took refuge in and opened the shadows at the end of the hall to reveal another door, this one inlaid with metal. She hissed and wrinkled her nose at it, crafting a small pole out of shadows which she used to open the door without touching it. She slipped inside and tossed a plate of food at the figure chained in the back of the room. "Eat."

Sitting across from the woman, Aleena was quiet for a long time. She'd sacrificed a loyal manservant to bind this woman with metal chains. Of course, the metal hadn't been what killed him, but he'd seen her tunnel and therefore she'd had to dispose of him. A pity really. "Your husband appears to be trying to start a war between the Summer court and the Winter court. Winter is seeking an alliance with Metal. Summer," she paused to chuckle again, "with me. Which was, of course, denied. My eyes and ears within your castle tell me that your husband is still looking for you. Does that bring you happiness? That he has not yet given up? I hope so. I really hate keeping you down here but it's nothing personal you understand...I'd remove the metal if I could trust you not to run away...or kill me in my sleep. I am sorry." She heaved a sigh. "If you have some information, I might be able to arrange a change in scenery...or, at least, some slightly less painful bindings." Aleena offered. She truly didn't like keeping the other Fae queen like this, but she really didn't have much choice. And it would be a lie to say that it weighed on her conscious more than just a whisper of guilt at being so cruel to the only other worthy queen.