I haven’t been in the smaller room more’n a minute when a roar erupts from outside. A chant is starting, but I cannot make it out. Something about rights, or anti-soldier, or some anarchist shit, I don’t know. All’s I can say is that it causes a flash of worry over all the pale, cowled faces in the room with me. The sisters look from one to the next, their secret society hand sign flashing in their sleeves to each other. Best I can figure, this isn’t the first time such has happened, and knowing how the border wars are going, weren’t like as to be the last. People get ornery when the food stipend stops coming out but the palace still holds its fancy dinners and all. What with the Cornucopia in the Great Hall, you’d think it’d be easy enough to feed this whole damned world, but the Blessing has been a long time coming back, and the Priestesses haven’t heard much word from the higher ups in Central Allerhan in some time. Least not as I heard it.
There is some more frantic hand wiggling, and then I am led into a tiny room off to the side of the main entryway. In there is just myself, a desk, a couple of ratty chairs, and a severe looking woman decked out in her Moonday best black robes. A New Moon Sister, pale as her dark complexion would allow, her arms exposed to the elbows and all bangled with scrying gems and the like. She strikes quite the imposing figure, especially when she smiles with her soot-black teeth and gestures for me to sit. And sit I do, you don’t refuse a New Mooner, not lest you want to end up the wrong side of their scythes at any rate. She gives me the thrice over, clears her throat, and speaks:
“You don’t have the sign of a child in you, girl. You don’t much look like you make it out of the slums very often at that. So what I am wondering is,” here she clears her throat, “why have you bothered to show up in my glass this rainy morning? Why has the Mother refused to show me why you come to petition the Sisters?” She steeples her fingers and looks at me over the tips, her black eyes impassive, but knowing.
“Well, sir, Sister…” My words fail under her stare, withered up and dry in my throat. I begin to sweat, and fidget with a few stray hairs fallen down in front of my right eye, tucking them behind my ear. “Sister, I think I’m in a world of trouble, and rightly as you said, not in the family way.”
She continues to look at me, saying nothing. It feels like she is drawing the words out from the back of my mind, by force.
“I woke up this morning next to a dead soldier. I don’t know how she died, or why I didn’t hear anything happening, but Mother save me, I am sure to have a price on my head the moment they put it all together.” It comes out in a rush, unbidden, my words choked and hurried. I shiver slightly when she smiles again at me.
“So that’s it, then? A matter of death and disquiet.” She doesn’t break eye contact, but something changes, and my back is less rigid, my breathing more relaxed. “This soldier, what was her name? The world is dark to me.”
“They don’t give ‘em to us, Sister, not usually. We don’t run the kind of business what likes to leave a paper trail, yeah?”
She nods, and finally looks away. She stares at a bangle on her wrist, her brow wrinkled with concentration. Her lips begin to move and I feel the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stand on end. There’s magics going on, and it isn’t the kind that knits up a wound. More like the feel of that what makes ‘em. I can’t make out the words she’s saying, but the room grows colder, and colder, until I start up a shiver in my chair, and my breath comes out like steam heat in winter. This is the magic of the Dead God she’s using. Or more like as not the Dead Moon he speared into the vault of the sky when the world was young. The chill aches its way into my bones, and it feels like they will crack. Still she chants, still she stares, until it feels as though I’m going to break from the inside out.
And just as sudden as it began it all stops, she is looking at me, and I am sweating like a whore at a meeting with a Sister of Mercy. She actually looks worried, and I can’t imagine that it bodes any kind of well for me.
“Oh child,” she says quietly, almost sympathetically. “Oh, child, you are in a world of peril. You’ve gone and killed a Queensguard.”