Dark Havens

15th February - Graymire, The Rovers Guild - Morning

Emma brushed aside the curtain and looked down on the damp street below. Several Elesian soldier were marching past with one of their huge mechan automatons stomping along behind. The citizens of Graymire cowered away and kept their distance from the alien soldiers and their deadly machine.

She watched as a small child ran out and tagged the leg of the Mechan causing it to turn and reach down for the mischievous imp. A terrified mother screamed out from a nearby doorway and one of the soldiers barked and order that stopped the Mechan in its tracks. The childs mother ran out then and scooped up her terrified son and carried him back out of harms reach. As the soldiers and mechan continued their patrol the woman spat on the ground and went back inside slamming her door closed.

"Have we heard anything from the Ashen?" at the sound of his voice Emma turned to see Connor standing leaning in the doorway. He was peering beyond her through the window into the black sky beyond.

"The Rovers say they are refusing to help." Emma replied, "Well not so much refusing as saying nothing. Most of them will not come into town since the Elesians arrived in numbers. Any word from Dusk?"

Connor shrugged, "Only the usual, the people are starving, the Nexus is still closed up tight and the the Council and Red Crew are haggling over the scraps."

"Is Tully still in town?"

"He left a few hours ago." Connor stepped into the room, "We should have gone with him if you ask me."

"I am not asking you." she snapped and immediately regretted it. Connor had been as patient as a rock these last months. They had arrived at Graymire to find the place in complete disarray. Something had gone wrong in the Delve and it had been closed and locked down from within. The Ashen were troubled and leaving the town in drives to hide in their shanty town out beyond the inner fences. If not for the generosity of the Rovers and the coin Connor had won back in Dusk they would have been forced to go back there and then. Then a day later the Elesians had arrived fleeing the Dusk uprising. The town was overrun with the bastards.

"We will find a way in." Connor said at last, as much to break the silence as anything she thought.

"It has been four months, she could be..." Emma broke into a sob of despair and found herself in his arms as she had done so many times of late. It was cruel she knew, he had feelings that she could not return, not while Lina... she stopped that train of thought and shook her head, moving away from the man.

"We will find a way in." she repeated his words with a slight nod of her head. "I just wish we knew what was going on in there!"

"The Upper Delve - Morning"

Serenity Montclaire was beginning to forget what life was like outside of this gods forsaken mine. She walked behind to prison guards carrying laundry to the queens room. That's what she was calling herself now. Queen of the Delve! It was bloody ridiculous but the men were falling in line and treating the woman like damned royalty. They all shared the same vacant adoring look when they were around her.

Abigail.. she repeated the name in her head several times. The womans name was Abigail Rutledge, she had seen it on the prisoner manifesto and Lina had known the woman. She was not a queen, there were no queens outside of fairy tails...she...she...there was a small pressure building in the back of her mind as if something to worm its way in. She pushed back and for a moment it was gone and then...

She stepped into the wide bedroom chamber and dropped to her knees as the guards took her burden from her hands and placed the blankets on a nearby table. She could see the queen standing there... her beloved queen, so beautiful, so serene. Her vision swam for a moment and she saw a sickly looking woman standing there leaning on the bed post for support, her lip curled in a snarl of disgust...and then.

"Your majesty." Serenity breathed, "How may I serve you?"

"You are highborn in the City of Dusk yes?" Abigail asked in an imperious tone.

"Y...yes your majesty." again her vision swam and the opulence of the room was replaced with the vision of a dirty, dark cell with a dank cot at its centre in replacement of the four poster bed she knew to be there...

"I require instruction." Abigail said, "When I return to the city I will rule, so you will teach me how. You will teach me."

Serenity did not understand, Abigail was already of the highest breeding and shining example of powerful womanhood she was... the smell of sweat and damp filled her nostril and she blinked as the room became dark for a moment... what was happening.

"Leave us!" Abigail cried out and Serenity made to move. "Not you!" the woman ordered and as everyone else left the room Serenity remained kneeling. Once the doors closed the "queen" turned to her and smiled.

"You have a strong mind." she said, "And I...I am growing weak. let us drop the charade."

Another sharp pressure at the base of her skull and Serenity found herself gasping for air and kneeling in a rank cell with a woman standing before her who was anything but regal. She looked to be terribly ill and she was if Serenity was not mistaken, with child.

"I need your help." Abigail said, "The Elesians grow impatient. Any day now they will storm this place and when they do you will help me slip away. I will return you to Dusk my dear, to your family and in turn you will help me find my place in Highholm, amongst your kind."

"W..why? why would you..." Serenity began.

"Why would I what? Want a comfortable life amongst the elite of Dusk. Perhaps you take it for granted, it being your birthright but I...I was not born so high. So do we have a deal? Your freedom for my fortune?"

"Yes." Serenity breathed, gods help her yes they had a deal.

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