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Snaring the Rabbit (Navarre)

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With little protest did the heavy ironwood of the chamber door inch open, its occupant apparently well at ease within the stone facade of House Navarre’s ancestral manor. The lady lay alone upon her side, her breaths even and steady in her slumber. In perfect silence, the hooded figure that shadowed her threshold stood and waited until satisfied that his quarry was sound asleep.


Only after a few breaths without Lady Arillaine Navarre stirring a single muscle did the stranger approach. There was a glint of steel as a long poignard was bared, flashing an angry red in the filtered light of the coming dawn. To the figure’s mind, it seemed to drink of it greedily, as if thirsty for more of the red it had drunk mere bells earlier.


Any hesitation on the cloaked man’s part was short-lived as it strode the remaining fulms to the bedside. The dagger lifted in one black-gloved hand and smoothly slipped beneath the slumbering elezenmaid’s pillow. Already he heard voices from the other wing - no doubt, his previous handiwork had been found by the house guards. In the shadow of his hood, lips tightened in a firm, resolute line. It was time to depart.


Sparing not a single moment his long legs brought him to the north-facing window and pulled it ajar, a sudden rush of chilling wind stirring his cloak of grey wool and eliciting a sleepy groan from Arillaine. The invader was already gone mere seconds later when she woke, shivering with cold. She could scarcely believe her ears at the voice she heard rising above the commotion in her house.


“Search the manor! Fury save us, the Lord is slain!”

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“I do not know,” Arillaine replied to the Inquisitor, not for the first time. “I do not own such a weapon.” The last sentence was repeated, several times, in whispers that came unwillingly from her own lips. She felt as if she might go mad from confusion, everything had happened so quickly. One moment she was crying herself to sleep, hoping that her husband - Lord Chatelaine, curse his name, may he burn in each of the Hells - would leave her be this night; the next, she was watching the house guards search her bedchamber. It did not take long for them to find the dagger.


This Inquisitor, Piette, was a rail of a man even as far as Elezen went. But he was a hard one, had seen how ruthlessly he pursued any suspected heretic - and, to her knowledge, not one of them had been found ‘innocent’ of their supposed crimes. He and his ilk were to be feared now, perhaps, more than ever; given the revelations brought forth by Ser Aymeric after the Archbishop’s fall, many in the Church were growing more desperate by the day to display the power they wielded.


Arillaine suspected the Inquisitor would prove no exception.


Piette turned the blade over in his slender fingers, lips pursed as if deep in thought. The jewel in the pommel, red as any dragonfire, was no jewel at all. It was of glass, designed to be easily broken and the blood within drunk by the wielder should he or she wish. Dragon’s blood.


“Yet it was found within your own bedchamber,” the Inquisitor reminded her with an indifferent sigh, removing one glove to test the weapon’s edge. He quickly placed the wounded finger between his lips, sucking softly - it was razor sharp, certainly more than sufficient to plunge into a Lordly heart. He perked a brow at the woman, silently prompting her to plead her case on the matter.


“The true killer must have planted it,” she all but shouted. “Did no one see? How could no one see?” Her question was directed at no one, tears trickling unimpeded down her cheeks. Why must she see one torment ended only to face another? Ishgardian justice would not be kind, she knew. When she looked up, she saw her fears reflected in the cruel gaze of Inquisitor Piette.


“How indeed?” The thin elezen hissed the question, rising from his chair. “I grow tired of this exercise, Lady Arillaine.” Her former title was emphasized with a sneer. “All know the price to pay for heresy. You shall be judged at Witchdrop,” he announced, his voice rising to complete his proclamation over the wail that erupted from the Lady’s lips. “And you will spend this night in the custody of my men.” He strode over to where she now knelt, her body wracked by her inner turmoil as she sobbed uncontrollably into her hands. His voice lowered again to a coeurlish growl. “I suggest that you spend the night in repentance. Ours is swift, but the Fury’s justice is eternal.”


As the Inquisitor turned to march out of the manor, Arillaine was flanked by two armored knights who, not ungently, lifted the still sobbing Lady to her feet and, until she could will her own feet to move, all but dragged her to the street beyond. To my doom, she thought in despair.


The light of day was blinding, but the elezenmaid had no need of her eyes to see the fate that awaited her.

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