20th of Snow’s Maiden, 108 of the Second Age…
With only the pale glow of the moon to illuminate it, Rosina Py’lrie’s body seemed almost peaceful as it was laid before the gates. As a small crowd gathered about, the horrors of what had happened to the woman became more evident. Few had seen the silhouette of the figure that had dropped the woman’s body at the gates- a dark shroud, some said, that left a lingering chill as it slowly departed. The tone it spoke was ice to the skin of those who heard it, for it was flat and devoid of any care or regard for the poor victim’s life. None had a hint of a clue, but all agreed that had they lifted the hood, they would have seen Death herself.
It must have been the cruel mistress herself to take Rosina’s life, but that did not stop further speculation as to whom it may have been.
Those who looked first at the flayed patch of her arm claimed it was the work of an upstart cult.
Two wandering humans came and felt the body: cold, drenched, clearly drowned. The work of highway robbers.
Another citizen pointed out the jewelry- rings, necklaces, bands- stuffed in her mouth and surmised that the work was done by a blood magician.
A thousand signs, each contradicting the last, gave rise to more and more theories, even as the body was finally lifted and brought to the clinic. Disemboweled. A common criminal? A gaping chest wound revealing a missing heart. A witch in need of ingredients for a spell? Her head had suffered some trauma. A falling rock? Other cuts, bruises, and wounds. Well, the forests were always dangerous at night. Perhaps it was an animal?
These thoughts, and more, doubtless bounced throughout Valyris Wynasul’s mind as she cleaned the poor woman’s body, giving it the dignity that she had been robbed of in death. The specter that had dropped the body off at the gates seemed to unsettle everyone. Was it that figure that did the deed? A young boy had claimed to see a mali’ker woman suspiciously lingering about, claiming to look for a medic, but also giving a cold look to any who passed by. Could she have lured out Rosina, knowing her to be obligated to aid her?
Who could be capable of such a horrible act?
The moon of midnight rose high above the towers of Fi’andria, but that mattered little to Rosina Py’lrie. As Head Physician of Celia'nor, it was her duty to attend to all who needed help, and tonight a call for aid prompted her to take to her horse and make her way down to the lake just outside the city. It was a mali’ker woman with shining blue eyes who had begged her for help, but, oddly, as the two rode through the endless apple orchard down to the banks of the lake, the woman was silent. Was it shock, perhaps? Rosina had no time to care, though, such things were not for her to question.
When they finally reached the scene, all but the injury itself seemed almost peculiar to Rosina. Two figures were near the banks of the lake, both difficult to make out in the darkness. The first was a woman with brown hair who was sitting just beside the waters. She spoke calmly enough and told Rosina that she had been hurt in a fall. She pointed to her foot, which was bleeding, but not so horribly that it could not be fixed quickly. Beside her, though, was a thing that the medic could not make out. At one moment it was a dim orb, the next it was a dark haze, but as it hovered beside the injured woman Rosina could not help but feel a sense of dread.
Rosina tried to allay these pervasive thoughts as she reached into her medical bag and looked through it for some basic ointment and bandages to clean the wound. However, when she reached over to examine the woman’s food, she could not help but notice it was remarkably… fine. Although there was blood, there was no cut, wound, not even the mildest of scratches. Far from a fall, this woman had not suffered at all. There was no sign of a fracture, a sprain, or anything like that. Rosina was about to glance up to the woman and ask her what had truly happened when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw an outstretched arm spring up.
It was the shade- too quick to give her even a moment to react. Nary a thought crossed her mind as an orb, this time it was surely an orb, shot forth from the thing’s hand and struck her across the head. She fell to the ground, limp, knocked out, as the three who had brought her there slowly surrounded her unconscious figure. The shadowy figure took charge, dragging the woman’s body towards the lake. As it did so, it rummaged through her pockets, taking every valuable and stuffing them into her mouth.
The mali’ker woman pointed to the body. “Her heart.”
The shadow nodded, then pushed down the body into the lake. It waited for a few long moments, until the air bubbles stopped rising to the surface. “Then I desire the body.” It spoke, its voice soft, yet devoid of passion.
“No. We leave it at the gates,” ordered the dark elf. She spoke with authority, and the shade relented, though not without further comment. The payment for their role would be higher, and a ‘Mother’ would have to be spoken to.
It was not as if Rosina could hear them. Drowned and beaten, the life within her had been extinguished minutes ago. The only small mercy she received that night was, as the mali’ker plunged a dagger into her chest, she was unable to feel her heart being torn from her. The deed was done, and her body was dragged back onto the horse and spirited away to the front gates of the city, to be left behind for her kin. Another small mercy given to her that night, it seemed.