Into a circular, candlelit chamber she strode, her dark dress trailing behind her. For a long time she stood at a lone podium at its center, casually flipping through the pages of a book that lay upon it. She stiffened, suddenly aware of another presence in the room. “You’ve come”, she half whispered.

“My Master desires an answer Witch.” hissed the voice from the darkening shadows.

Turning around to face the voice a frown crossed the woman’s face as she narrowed her eyes trying to pierce the shadows. “And did you tell your Master he would have to sweeten his deal?” she said sternly. There was a long pause “Speak now beast or cease wasting my time!” she barked, the sheer Majesty of her voice breaching the shadows.

It was clear to the beast she would not be so easily tempted. “Yes, yes.” The voice hissed. “My Master wishes to convey to you the following arrangement. Eliminate the would be heroes of Travance, destroy their capacity to make their war against my Master, crush their spirit, enslave their people, kill their leaders…” A long hiss escaped the darkness. “For this, my Master shall grant to thee absolute dominion of these lands west of the rift for thee to subjugate without interference from my Master.”

There was a long pause, as she stood resolute contemplating the deal. “Without interference you say? All of these lands? …”

“Yesss”, hissed the beast. “Do we have accord?”

“No we do not," She stated, "Travance is but one faction, and your master knows as well as I they will not be so easily contained. I will deal with Travance, but your Master must eliminate the others… all of the others. Thereby leaving these lands to my rule and mine alone, do we have an accord beast?”

An angry hiss echoed throughout the room, and silence followed. After a short moment the shadows seemed to grow in darkness and a new, deeper and darker voice could be heard. “You have been freed and restored to your kingdom, now it is time for you to uphold your part of the bargain…”

The Queen let out a wicked laugh and flicked her wrist over her shoulder. Somewhere in the distance a bell tolled. Shortly after could be heard a great deal of commotion. Horns sounded and the martial beat of drums called soldiers to formation. She turned and tossed back a curtain which lead out on a balcony overlooking a courtyard rapidly filling with formations of soldiers. Priests strode back and forth in front of the formations intoning the blessing of Galladel. She stood in silence as the masses assembled. When the formations were in order and the blessings complete she raised her hands and silence washed over the army as she addressed them.

“My people hear me!” Long have I been in meditation, seeking insight to the tide of darkness that threatens to overwhelm not only us but also all of Arawyn. Long did I ponder, long did I ask for guidance from our Patron. And low did an Angel of Galladel visit me in my mediation and bring to me a vision in this hour of great need!” She paused scanning the crowd, all eyes locked upon her. “This darkness, this terror, this foulness which infects the land is the direct result of the blasphemies propagated by the heathens of Kormyre!” She proclaimed. “Their heretical god Valos and pretender King have brought this terror upon us.” She paused again, as the jeers broke out from the assembled ranks. All raised their voices high to Galladel cursing the name of heretics and blasphemers. She raised her hands once again and silence once again fell upon the courtyard. “And so it was in my vision that we must go forth and bring Galladels righteous vengeance upon these heretics. That we should be the saviors of this world, that the very fate of Arawyn rests upon our shoulders! Go now; go now my valiant people! raise the call across the land, for now is the time of righteous crusade to rid the world once and for all of these blasphemers. May Galladel bless and keep you all, may his light and mercy guide your sword! Now GO!” She intoned, raising her arms to the triumphant cheers that erupted. The cries of holy crusade echoed throughout the courtyard. Sword and mace beat against shield, drums beat and horns sounded.

As the courtyard emptied, she turned and walked back into the dark room. “Nothing drives men to more fight than the cause of righteousness.” She spoke to the darkness. “My people will follow me to the end…” The room was silent and when the Dark Queen realized that she was alone once again, she turned and gracefully strode from the room.

Moments later the candles in the seemingly empty room extinguished one by one, and a low, dark laughter echoed, followed by a simple growling statement “…and that they shall…” 

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