The Witch-Queen paced up and down her modest palace. It wasn’t modest by Skye’s standards, but in comparison to the Brimonian and Battersean palaces – it was… meagre.
Not that this was her present on concern.
“You promised me prisoners, Witch-Queen!” barked the Lord of Brimone. He stomped his way towards her, his massive form looming over her.
“And prisoners I gave you,” replied the Witch-Queen calmly.
“Disgrace,” spat the Lord, “Disgrace is what you gave me. You promised me a grand spectacle! A spectacle in which my father’s murderess would be untimely humiliated and killed mercilessly! I find your word quite unreliable!”
“Is it my fault your guards are useless in a fight?” the Witch-Queen huffed.
The Lord of Brimone was about to pounce on her, when the gentle hand of the Lady of Battersea touched his arm and restrained him, “This is not our current worry, Lord Grumm,” she said smoothly, “Mariqah is free. This stokes a problem for us. She will want her pound of flesh. She will make blood have blood.”
“It is no problem of ours, Lady Flaed,” said the Lord, “But a problem for our dear Witch-Queen!”
The Witch-Queen flared for a moment, but the Lady of Battersea said, “Yes, it is her problem, but – by extension – ours. The Witch-Queen has allied with us in our scheming. We have made a pact, Lord Grumm. We must hold to it.”
The Lord of Brimone grunted a concession, “With that I agree.”
“Mercia, for the moment, is jumpy and afraid. She is out of the way. The Lord and Lady of Eversby have not yet caught wind of our plot,” said the Lady of Battersea, “However, I doubt they will want to join with us. They harbour a love for humans, and their Gate-Keeper won’t do much in the way of allowing us passage. The Witch-Queen, being human herself, is our only direction forward. But Mariqah… Mariqah will come for you first, Witch-Queen.”
“I know a way to subdue our Mercenary,” said the Witch-Queen, “I have a cursed man in my keeping. A man who is skilled in the art of death. He has captured Mariqah once, he can kill her now.”
“Subdued by the same man? Mariqah? I think not,” scoffed the Lady of Battersea.
“Hmm…” the Lord of Brimone stepped forward, “I agree with Lady Flaed. Let us err on the side of caution. Could you curse a second man or woman, Witch-Queen?”
The Witch-Queen smiled, “That I could,” she turned to the Messenger, “and I know just the person for it.”