Rishoka - Vylin Asylum - Midnight
Creeks in the old building eerily echoed off the paint-stripped walls. It was, however, not something many paid attention to. The smell of the building took much of the senses—it was old, rotten, filled with mold unhealthy for any to breath.
It did not matter to the few that arranged the meeting, however. No, they cared only for a safe place to speak freely about their beliefs.
One man stood on a stage, or what seemed like a stage, as if to place himself above the rest. He planned to speak, though the sound of a strange moan caught his attention briefly. It wasn't a moan that you'd expect from a brothel—one that he was no stranger to—but something much more hair raising. It sounded like a moan from someone who was suffering, that had no way to express pain but through a primal noise.
But he did not let that distract him for long. Even if the building was actually cursed, even if the undead lived here, he needed to pay attention to the goal of the night, and so, shrouded in his black cloak, he awaited the men and women that shared his distaste of the empire.
Kharia had heard rumors about Vylin Asylum for years on end through local gossip - the cursed wreck with ghosts haunting its unhallowed halls. Tonight, she finally had an excuse to enter the old and rotting building, wandering its decomposing halls filled with condensation, rats, and the faint moans of the long dead. It seemed creepy enough to warrant a few ghost stories at least, but the only thing that really stood out to her was the shamblings of the undead, despite now having actually seen any. She wondered if they were, perhaps, trapped in the walls or some hidden section of the Asylum - it would be a pretty convenient method of doing so if you didn't want to get your hands dirty.
This Ebony Order she had been hearing whispers about didn't seem to have that problem though, this entire meeting was discussing getting their hands dirty, a unification to discuss how to best take down the Empire. The idea of a secret society moving in the shadows and fighting against the Empire was appealing to her, but some dark thoughts lingered in the back of her mind, like their methodology. How would they fight the Empire? Would they take the fight to the perpetrators of the corrupt system - the nobles and highborn that look down on the common folk? Would they simply be hurt and betrayed people lashing out at anyone that would make them feel better - innocents and bystanders?
Kharia was one of the first to arrive, shuffling into the room and immediately blending into the shadows near the stage to keep a low profile. In addition to the cloak, she had made sure to pack a mask and armor befitting the theme. If she was going to be a member of this order or pretending to be a member, might as well go all the way. Now that she was here, all she had to do was wait and see...
The Shadowmancer stepped out from the darkness soundlessly, footsteps silenced with a simple application of his sorcerous skill. The man wore nondescript clothing of blacks and greys, plain enough to not be worth noting but fine enough to belong to at least a man from the merchant class. The various greys that made up the clothing blended in better with the shadows than pure black ever could. The vampire’s dark brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail and his red eyes where disguised behind dark brown contact lenses which disguised the unnatural eye colour. Having fed mere hours before give his cheeks a blush of life and helped hide the usual deathly parlour as per his vampiric nature. However this last precaution was unseen behind the white featureless porcelain mask he wore with a simple black design around the left eye. He couldn’t risk being recognised for the sake of his wife or the people under their rule.
Despite the lenses his night vision was unaffected and he let his gaze sweep the area as he moved. Paranoia driving him forward. He carried a plain dagger at his waist and, hidden beneath his jacket, was one of the Blades of Tranquillity. Not that Varian had any plans to fight tonight, if things went south the immortal had every intention of fleeing as fast as his feet, or magic, could take him. His enhanced hearing was bombarded with what sounded like a cry of agony before he even entered the building, once he took a step into the old rickety halls the vampire had to avoid grimacing at the groaning and screeching that seemed to emanate from every inch of the old dilapidated building. Varian had been to his fair share of clandestine meetings over the centuries but why did some groups have to be so melodramatic, there were plenty of private clubs where one could have a private and civilised meeting. He dearly hoped the Ebony Order didn’t turn out to be another group of amateurs flailing uselessly against the Empire. Varian had helped the organisation a few times in the past, under throw away cover identities, but nothing as involved as attending a meeting such as this.
The man’s intimate knowledge of the Oculi Imperium made the vampire paranoid, wondering if they had any agents spying on the meeting and if so how many? Would there be a raid part way through? If so could he escape unharmed? Paranoid thoughts perhaps but was it really paranoia when the threat was so real?
When Varian slipped into the meeting hall he noted that he was one of a handful of attendees and guessed that there was still a number of individuals to come. He also noted that he was not the only one to hide his face behind a mask, this precaution actually give him more faith in those that attended. It at least meant that some of those here weren’t carless fools. Finding a spot near the stage, but in dim enough light that he could shadow-step if necessary, the vampire quietly waited for the meeting to begin.
Catrina had arrived at the meeting, she was here to assist in any way she can, the empire had to be punished, for their crimes. Yes, they may argue their crimes were committed by there ancestors, but they had no issue living off the ongoing profits and power they had from throughs crimes. They had taken Volkarana, and the other provinces against their will, and forced them to submit to their laws. They were superior to these people as individuals, and they had no right to tell them what to do, all they had was numbers.
She was dressed in a black cloak and attire, she was also padded out, and her breast was held back uncomfortably so, to disguise her figure. She was wearing a porcelain white mask, with a golden wire mesh, where eyes would be, this so no one could see her red eyes. So she looked like someone else, as she did not want to put volkarna at risk from reprisals, from being here. Though she would help in this act if she could.
As she sat down, in a place in the dark, with a single ray of light crossing over her. She had a day ring, that came from the living side of the Volkarna family. She waited, for the meeting to start, and relaxed in her seat.
Rendon could count the days on his hand that he had spent on the mainland these past few months. He was always more comfortable at sea, however this opportunity was looking too good to pass up. Ever the opportunist, he didn't particularly care whether the Empire lived or died. What he did care about was how he could take advantage of the chaos this kind of organization could provide.
He thought it a little over the top however when he was instructed to wear a robe and a mask to the party, they would already be meeting in a secret place to discuss their plans so this just seemed like an unnecessarily cult like step in their security. He knew that if he had stumbled across a bunch of miscellaneous robed and masked person's he would run to the nearest holy man with messages of vile rituals. But, such as it was, Rendon complied and purchased himself some cheap, disposable gear that barely fit over his uniform. Even in disguise, Rendon's old Imperial uniform was immaculate, and most certainly easy to see through his meager disguise. It wouldn't take a genius to figure out who he was just based on reputation.
The building was a subject of interest to him. He enjoyed the study of necromancy, though unlike some of his more unstable colleagues he had met, he had no real interest in bringing back people from the dead. As far as he was concerned, it was impossible. So instead once he had figured out the method, he would use dead bodies for manual labor. Rowers or marines perhaps. So once this was all over, maybe he would take a wander through the halls and see what kind of ghouls he could find and perhaps bind to his will.
He eventually made his way to the meeting place, his shoddy disguise doing very little to protect his identity, not that he cared. He was already a wanted man. He stood military straight, though with an inkling of sardonic amusement about this whole situation. His casual glances around the room looked to be more of a glare, but otherwise did nothing and waited for someone else to begin speaking.
"Thank you everyone for coming," the man on the stage spoke, hoping to hush whatever chatter was going on in the crowd.
He looked around, spotting a suspicious looking man but not minding too much. Everyone's identity was hidden by their cloaks,they were away from the general population that could possibly choose to back him up, and most here were likely true believers. There was very little risk to the group in this setting, outside of a raid, of course, but the building was old and probably had more open holes than a whore house.
"As you all know, we are the Ebony Order. Our one and only goal is to dismantle the Empire's governing body to bring freedom to the people of it's land. The only real way to do that is by eliminating the aristocracy. The Emperor, his spawn and any and all ruling families that stand with the Empire."
"KILL ALL THE NOBLES!" someone in the crowd shouted. A few shouted in agreement, though some shuffled uncomfortably.The man on the stage was about to say something when he was stopped by someone screaming, "What the fuck?!"
The man who screamed it stumbled into the room, looking around wide eye'd. "I just fucking left! I JUST FUCKING LEFT!"
"What are you talking about?" one man asked, slightly annoyed the meeting was being interrupted by someone who looked high and crazy.
"I left this cursed meeting," the crazy looking man started. "I made a mistake coming here. But when I opened the door to leave, it lead back here. Then I tried another path. And another! And another! What the FUCK is happening here?!"
"Only a lesser mind can't recognize a simple illusion spell when one sees one."
Behind the man who was freaking out came two more individuals. Both were dressed the same, sporting long, black, sleek leather outfits with a flowing cape behind them. Their heads were covered by heavy helmets cut with a mesh cloth to hide the person's face underneath. The taller of the two was the one who spoke, but in reality it was hard to know that based on the muffled and muted sound out of the mask. It could have been either of them speaking and none far away would know the difference.
Walking up to the man the smaller of the two would come and kick him suddenly behind the knees, dropping him to the floor before shoving him forward and pressing her other foot against the back of his neck to keep him from resisting. The other continued walking on as if nothing had transpired from his cohort.
"Did none of you think there would be security measures in place? Did you all think this meeting of liars, schemers, and traitors would be so openly accessible that you could run off and go call the nearest garrison?" The man stopped and waved his hand over his face with a grand laughing gesture. "If one wishes to leave they will carry their secrets to the grave with them."
Behind him, the smaller of the two black-robbed figures would start pressing down painfully against the man's neck until it cracked, echoing in the sound of the hall for all to hear. He squirmed trying to push back but for some strange reason it seemed she was stronger than she should have been. As if things weren't the way they were being seen. The small of the two would then adjust herself so she was standing straight, and go to the door to shut them all inside. Not that any of them could escape otherwise. Not until the spell was broken (or they had a knowledge of advanced illusion magic. A certain spell passed down by generations of the Blankenship family whom their two youngest heirs were contemplating a coup against the Empire that raised them.
"So I welcome you all," said the same person, "To the Ebony Order. You may address me as Alpha, and my partner here is Omega. I trust you will all make this as painless as possible. We have a government to overthrow."
One by one, the others appeared in the room, some actually walking in, and others appearing to simply come out of the shadows. It was difficult to actually ascertain who had been here before her and who was just arriving, but it didn't really matter - she had left the shop in the dead of night with this get-up on, and since they didn't know each other, they wouldn't have known to be waiting outside it. The fact that there were so few here was encouraging, if this EBony Order tried to go to the extreme, then this meant there wouldn't be an excess of members starting out. If she acted quickly enough, she might be able to cut the head from the snake early on.
She stood at attention and listened intently as the spokesman took to the stage...only to immediately suppress a groan. Putting aside that his speech was one of the most piss-poor attempts at rallying the troops she had ever heard, killing the Emperor's children as well? She didn't know Lilith Monteux personally but she knew that she was a good woman, and Tybalt was...well, he wasn't a horrible person. The point being that this was disproportionate to what needed to be done, it seemed more like revenge than a genuine attempt to make the world better. As if to accentuate that, she turned her head toward the one member who tried to leave just as he was forced to the ground.
The voices of the pair were muted and distorted, but she recognized enough. Her heart sank at the thought of Noa and Ana being a part of this, and in such a seemingly important capacity as enforcers. Those two had only just begun to recover from something horrible, and something Kharia herself tried to help them with, this was the last thing they needed. After this was over, she would need to have a talk with the twins, though she would need to take measures to ensure that...well, the sound of a neck crunching in on itself was enough warning for her.
Kharia brushed back her cloak, sparks of flame igniting in her palm as she wordlessly incinerated the corpse, leaving it as a flaming monument to those that defied the Ebony Order. It was true that she didn't agree, but she wanted to maintain her cover until the meeting was over, and it would also light up the dark corners, letting her get a peek at who else was here in terms of numbers.
Varian was a little surprised at just how many people had seemed to show up for this clandestine meeting. It would seem things have changed over the centuries, back in his first decades as an immortal it had been like pulling teeth trying to get people to agree to this sort of thing. It would appear the popularity of the throne had declined rapidly over the centuries. Smiling behind his mask he hoped this was a positive sign of things to come. Whilst all the ruling families went a bit beyond the scope of what the Vampire wanted to accomplish he was willing to let the Ebony Order do whatever it wanted so long as it guaranteed the extinction of the Emperor’s bloodline.
As a panicking man began screeching about being unable to find his way out of the room Varian rolled his eyes behind his mask. It seemed like the organisers of today’s gathering hadn’t been overly picking when it came to selecting invitees. Any mage could sense the illusionary magic at place here and although it was beyond Varian’s ability to expel it was easily within his power to use shadow magic to simply leave whenever he wished.
A man and woman soon give voice to what the Vampire had been thinking to himself. They both, like many of the attendants, had chosen to hide their faces behind masks which only made sense when one was plotting treason after all. Varian raised an eyebrow as they knocked the formerly screaming man to the ground. ‘A little harsh.’ he thought to himself before chuckling softly, it would appear the duo had a flare for the dramatic. A sharp crack sounded out throughout the room as they snapped the poor fellow’s neck, well at least that was done with.
‘Alpha and Omega? Is this a theatrical performance?’ he wondered silently.
Before he could speak a figure at one side sent a flicker of fire magic to scorch the corpse. The masked Vampire grimaced at the sight. Gods he hated pyromancers. Although the flare of light did help to light up the area allowed Varian to quickly scan the faces of those foolish enough not to take precautions against identification.
Varian would remain silent however, there was no reason to talk yet and he had no wish to stand out any more than anyone else in the audience until the duo leading the meeting give him reason to do so.
After his little speech, no one replied. While he enjoyed the fact he'd now successfully taken over the room, he expected at least one person to oppose him or call him out. Perhaps they were waiting for the next moment. Stepping forward, Alpha would move into the circle of the room and turn to inspect the gathering of hooded figures. His sister stayed behind, waiting for an instruction or act of violence to move. To her left, someone did step forward, but not to attack them (not to say she wasn't ready to spring into action just in case). The figure ignited a fire in their hand and burned the body Omega had just killed. Inside his mask, Alpha smirked and thought to himself, "I see they are as ruthless as ever. Their lust for blood will be useful."
"I'm sure you all have your own reasons for being here. But let me share with you mine. The noble filth of Rhisoka have been stewing in their own piss for far too long. They are obsessed with power and like greedy pigs they take whatever they can to keep it. No matter the cost, no matter the pain it causes others, they do sorely as they wish without fear or reciprocation. Their king is no different.
"There was a time when Avsolom was united! We were a glorious nation. But now, a lazy and decrepit old man sits upon that throne with no aspiration besides living past his time. And what has become of our great nation? Nothing. We are broken now. Our privinces declare they are no longer loyal to us, to you. How does that make you feel?"
Alpha took a moment to let that pause before turning back to the main person in charge and pointing a finger his way. "I have a proposition for you. One I'm sure you've considered all on your own as well. It's on everyone's minds. It's on the edge of each of our tongues yet none dare speak it. We kill the Emperor."
The next and most obvious question came from someone nameless in the crowd, "Ha! And how do you suppose we do that?"
Alpha spun around and for a second, just a quick flash, there was a shining light by his eyes. Suddenly around them in the center of the crowd were certain...apparitions. They were dressed in fancy clothes and dancing around. They were hollow and made of light, no physical body could touch them as their hands would pass right through. The ghosts moved in circles with their partners dancing to the beat of a song no one could hear.
"There is a ball tonight. I'm sure many of you have connections to go there. Someone of you may already be invited. I say, tonight, we strike. We take out the fat cretin and his entire family. What say you?!"
"I'd say that sounds like the worst idea I've heard in the last ten minutes." Rendon growled. He cared little for the man the so called alpha and omega killed. He didn't know him, so he didn't care for him. What he did care about was the needless theatrics and the casual waste of that mans life. He was a human being god damn it. His life had value!
He was having seconds thoughts about this whole thing, but to be fair his original goal remained the same. He was just disappointed that this group seemed to be so murderous. He had no qualms about killing, but revenge is the worst reason for it. But it was a reason nonetheless, and the people assembled here simply reeked with frustrations at perceived slights and petty squabbles. Many here are most likely nobles themselves, looking to use a bit of backroom stabbings to increase their positions in life. How foolish they must feel.
"You propose we assassinate the Emperor, a renowned mage, as well as his family, who are also powerful mages and warriors in their own right? While in public, surrounded by nobility each of whom is in their own way a dangerous adversary whether through the myst or by their martial skill? Seems like a good recipe to get ourselves killed, and this movement along with it." Rendon ground out. His voice carrying casual derision and vague mockery.
"This Empire will not fall in a day, even if our most vaunted monarch dropped dead with the rest of his family tomorrow. We are in for a long, grinding campaign ladies and gentlemen, not a single battle and quick march home. What we must do is show the people that their rulers are not to be trusted, as well as pit the more powerful houses against one another. Their infighting will bring this country down around them without our interference. All we need to do is speed it along." Rendon gave his own little mini-speech with all the confidence and imperiousness an officer should have, and his voice carried throughout the room even though he never needed to speak louder to be heard.
Mere moments passed before the room finally began to live a little, different theories and plans and counter-plans and arguments being tossed around like sports balls between casual players. Kharia knew full well that at least two people in this room were of noble blood, so they weren't about to go for the 'kill all the nobles' plan, instead opting to just kill the Emperor and his family, which she could not allow. Self-righteous perhaps? Definitely, but all the same, people had so little time on this plane, it was best to act according to your own beliefs and hope things work out. This Ebony Order could wreak untold havoc on the Empire, and more importantly, it's citizens.
Kharia cleared her voice, blending it with a small masking spell supplemented by her own lightning through her voicebox, distorting her voice out of recognition while still being intelligible. "This is asinine, the Emperor may look frail and old, but he has the seat for a reason, a reason that most of you have perhaps forgotten, despite being nobles yourselves - do not shirk, we all know there are some of the hierarchy in attendance, looking to improve their standing." She said coarsely, gesturing toward them all while stepping from the shadows, letting the hate and malevolence drip from the deep reserves in her soul. "The Admiral is correct, this will not be so simple, and this method of eroding the Empire will not be clean or simply executed. Those of you not willing to commit to war and death and bloodshed, both or your enemies and, quite possibly, of innocents, should leave now...none of us will act against you if you do not want blood on your hands." She looked at Noa and Ana, glaring at them through the blank black eyes of her mask. "But heed these words, do not tell anyone of this night, for our ears hear much, and our eyes carry far...we will know."
With any luck, this would either cut some of the Order's membership down, or just render some of them that little bit more afraid of rebelling, delay or retreat was most definitely a victory in her eyes. Still, she had no intention of actually aiding this Order, she just needed them to think she was so they didn't stick an arrow in her eye.
Catrina, liked this, okay not the bit about killing all nobles, but this was a possible way of setting
Volkarna free. She was sold, she knew it might mean death, but freedom was worth the risk. She smiled under her mask, but would Silas Hael understand or would he be in favour of the status quo. She loved him, but her duty was to free Volkarna from the grip of the empire. She was no wimp, she might get lucky, but volkarna was more important than her.
She stood up, I volunteer to help, in any way I can. Just tell me what you want from me, and I will do my duty by it. She was serious and would help.
Varian frowned from behind his mask as the supposed organiser of this little gathering began their speech. The vampire remained silent for a time, listening with a mixture of interest and exasperation. He was a professional assassin, he had killed literally hundreds perhaps thousands over the centuries. He had organised groups of killers from across the continents. However the Vampire did not enjoy this flare for the dramatic. The vampire also didn’t give a damn about the Empire, be it the one that currently existed or the one that used to sprawl across the known world. Kingdoms came and went, they rose and fell. Varian was eternal and he was beyond such petty matters. The Empire could go on as long as it wanted under whatever ruler it wanted. All this Vampire wanted was the end of a bloodline, the death of all who descended from the Emperor, but in truth he couldn’t care less what came next. Saviour or tyrant it was all the same to Varian.
Others spoke up, mostly against the plan it seemed aside from one who was practically fatalistic in wishing to follow the stupid idea, Varian shook his head. When he at last spoke it was in a flawless Western Nal Akima accent. “A fool’s plan.” he announced stepping out of his corner. “I am in agreement with those who have voiced their concerns.”
Hands clasped behind his back the Vampire’s eyes, red eyes appearing dark brown thanks to his contact lens, as he stared at the pair who had titled themselves Alpha and Omega. “Others have already said so but I shall add my voice to theirs. This is an idiotic idea with absolutely no measurable benefits when put against what will be risked. The so called fat cretin hate him as we might is the greatest Emperor this realm has seen in generations. His magical prowess is without equal, those that share his blood are also potent magi who will no doubt be in attendance. Then you have the various nobility, who also cultivate their arcane talents, in attendance. At least a number will jump to the Emperor’s aid and none will stand with rebels because failure would be the forfeiture of their land. It would take a special kind of stupid to risk losing their family’s territories or titles.”
Shaking his head with disgust he waved a hand through the air as if brushing the plan aside. “This is not even mentioning some of the greatest Knights, Guards and Warriors in the world that will no doubt be standing by to protect the Emperor and the other high nobility.” he noted.
He looked around the room but no one spoke against him so he continued.“Now for the risks. This Order is a fledgling organisation, all that came before have failed and I have read files on them, they failed due to acting too fast and being too inexperienced. This group is not yet ready… this is not a judgement but simple fact.”he insisted “To act now would be to throw away the few strengths you do have. Secrecy. Revealing yourself to the Empire would be a mistake I assure you.”
Unclasping his hands from behind his back the Vampire sighed. “Stay secret. Gather your forces. Train people in assassination, spying, sabotage and the best espionage practices possible in a short period of time. Teach basic martial principles. Daggers, short blades and crossbows are easily taught. Network to find more allies, powerful allies, insignificant allies. People high and low to be brought into the fold.”
He turned to look around the hall once more as he spoke before focusing on Alpha once more. “This is a time to plan. A time to prepare. Not a time to strike.”
This group was in truth no different to the ones he’d worked with in the past, the ones who had failed but if they listened they could be different.