Prologue

Coma Umbra

Wind calls through the trees, no foliages gild their subdivisions. An spiritual iciness clasps at all exposed whilst a full Moon dramatis personaes semitransparent shafts of light upon the route, deep ruts and crannies scar its surface making a forsaken, disused frontage. The cold glow of steel Pierces the dark, the Listener expletives, his cloak frissons, and it vanishes. Obscure figures linger in the shadows of the tree-line, while steady, controlled take a breathing susurrations from the opposite bank, beyond which accumulate macabre sunglassess in the nothingness beyond the skyline. A Equus caballus neighs in the dark.

A blast of air current explosions through the glass window glass, the passenger car window shattering on the polished floor boards. With a expletive the Duke downs a big draft of port and drops a missive to the tabular array before him. He slams the shutters over the breach, so trembles. ”Wretched conditions! ” He beckons to a immature, pale-faced miss sat in the corner, so to the jumble of glass on the floor, ”Well? Are n’t you traveling to make something about this? ”

The miss, without so much as a glimpse, returns to brush up the strewn, fractured glass. The passenger car jousts violently, arousing a crisp, dissatisfied moan from the wooden beams. ”Blast it! ” , the Duke lbs against the forepart of the manager, ”Driver! How do you propose I work with your inept, bumbling drive? Keep steady! ” The passenger car veers aggressively to the right, narrowly avoiding another furrow in the trail, and untangling an annoyed scream from the lead Equus caballus.

All is still and quiet aside from the clacking of hooves on cold rock turning increasingly louder, measure by measure they approach. Crimson criterions bulge into the sky to the East, held faultlessly steadfast and stable, despite the famished blasts of air current. The click-clack of metal on rock pierces the dark. In the shadows, skulking eyes linger unwearyingly ; they muffle their breath with their head coverings. From behind his hood, the Listener water chickweeds in surprise. The despatch had been right: they were here. Or was it a trap? He weighs the odds, so proceeds to stoop lower, eyes of all time eastward. In the somberness, the silhouettes fade backwards into the tree line. The air icinesss.

Elaborate gold-inlaid helmets appear through the dark, resting upon two big-shouldered work forces in ruddy equitation stiff upon snow white coursers decorated to fit, each bears a seven pes high criterion picturing an bird of Jove perched upon a blade, a profile of a serpent coils up the blade. On their left, scabbards, adorned with all right inlays, conceal elegantly curved tucks, their swept hilts glisten amber in the moonshine. Behind, three indistinguishable Equus caballuss, reined together in a web of black leather strapping, draw an ornately gilded mahogany passenger car upon which a little dying driver drives keeping the reins taught, his brass knuckss white with his concrete clasp. His garb is meagre in contrast to the ornate uniforms of the equestrians in front, his face emaciated and pale.

A blast of air current ululation through the bare subdivisions from the West. The lead Equus caballus rears and snickers. Shocked, an assassin faux pass. The crunch of crushed rock reverberates through the air. A fleet swipe wavers through the dark ; a quiet croak, the disguised adult male is cradled to the land by the Listener ‘s blade. And all is soundless.

Painstakingly picking through the glass on the floor, the picket faced miss glares up at the Duke who is sitting analyzing an intricate missive opener, in the manner of an Imperial Sword, a nip encased in coal black leather provides clasp for a six-inch Ag blade with a gilded inlay of the Imperial Crest. The passenger car judders as it passes over rocks and ridges and the Duke narrowly avoids losing his port over the border of the cardinal tabular array. Salvage this distraction, he is otherwise unmindful to his milieus. She returns to the tattered muss.

The Duke returns to rupture through an tusk envelope bearing a ruddy seal. Removing its contents, a stack of blanched paper sheets, he warily inspects the list of names. Looking satisfied, He glances over to the adult female, who is confronting off from him re-polishing mules in the woodwork, and returns to unlock the carved-wood drawer in the forepart of the desk ; he removes a quill, ink-pot and a seal with a domain of ruddy wax and a taper.

Lighting the taper he leaves the wax to run in a crucible whilst deluging his quill with ink. A hot crisp olfactory property diffuses through the passenger car. The adult female turns to watch, eyes unblinking ; her Pt blonde hair falls from its pin which rattles to the floor. With sulky laziness he marks the concluding page, structuring each missive unbelievingly. A individual tear trickles to the wood beneath the miss ‘s face. He places the gray sheets into a new envelope and, dripping the wax into the Centre of the envelope, stamps it with the seal. In vermilion is depicted a linked concatenation imposed upon the Numberss & A ; lsquo ; 1651 ‘ , all encircled by ancient runic letters reading & As ; lsquo ; Imperiosus Mancipium Patefacio. ‘ The Duke snuffs out the taper between his index and pollex.

Siting back in his chair, the adult female watches the adult male inspect a glass of ruby port, taste its sweet olfactory property, so flip back the glass-full in one deft gesture. She stands, lower lip shaking, nevertheless she maintains her calm. The air current thrashes the manager shutters and a Equus caballus can be heard in a terror through the wall. A weak crunch of crushed rock resounds through the window. Then an eerie silence fills the air.

The miss sits following to the duke, her frock crunched up beneath her uncovering her smooth calf. The Duke progresss, running his fingers up the smooth stuff of her stocking. Her lavender aroma tantalizes his senses. He examines her bluish eyes. She averts her regard. Skiding his custodies up farther, over the articulatio genus and across her thigh, she tenses. He hesitates, his fingers run over a supporter, so something unfamiliar. She jumps back but he yanks the point out. He gasps. Between his fingers is a missive. A black seal locks away its contents, a serpent spirals in the obsidian background, surrounded by the words ‘nox Noctis-Matris voice ‘ in the same ancient linguistic communication as the Imperial missive. With a dork the miss seizes the missive opener and lurchs for him. He catches clasp of her arm, muffs, snatches the port bottle from the desk and clubs her in the temple. She drops to the floor, strike harding the glass to the boards. It crashes against the wood. Ruby liquid splatters the cabin.

An all-mighty clang resounds from within the passenger car, repeating through the Fieldss. The driver dorks, motivating his Equus caballuss into a gallop. A bustle of steel flies from the Corvus corax forest, a soft clump, and the driver falls limp ; a acute blade protrudes from his thorax. The front guard rears, turning to confront the disturbance. From behind, the shadows converge, dragging the guard into the undergrowth in a waver of steel. The left guard turns, madly making for his blade with a gloved manus. Two soft thumps resound, and his blade drops with a resounding clank. The Listener stairss over the exanimate cadaver as it tumbles to the earth.The cabin door rattlings ; the Duke is seeking to get away. A chink of the lock opens the heavy issue. He peers out into the abyssal dark, the silence envelops him. His bosom pounds in his ears, the gustatory sensation of blood in his oral cavity. He charges out ; nil. A silhouette stands before him, long cloak flitting in the zephyr, face shrouded. He takes a measure backwards, a flash of gesture flairs before him, and acute torment explodes from within. He looks down, a 13 inch blade stick outing from his rib coop. He watches his ruby blood soak the land and flow into the glooming nothingness. He feels visible radiation, so nil. A cold air current flows through the skeletal trees transporting a morbid undertone ”Permissum nox Noctis-Matris complexo vestri animosity ” -Let the Night-Mother take your psyche.