In the wake of the death’s of Alta’s father and brother, Lucretia had not been idle. While Alta slowly came to terms with her new shift in lifestyle, Lucretia had already begun gathering information. For all that these stranger who brought the Soulless had caused the pale flower to bloom in Alta’s chest, Lucretia was extremely wary that they wouldn’t let the young daughter of the Bounty line continue to live.
Despite Lucretia’s growing martial prowess and hundreds of years at persuasion, she was unable to unearth anything definite. But where she found no figures, she found tracks. Certain officials with less than savory records would be placed in positions of responsibility. Sudden influxes of cash to certain business ventures. Unexpected disappearances and a marked lack of complaints against any of the series of government agencies that took over the Bounty Family’s assets.
Someone wanted control of the transportation between branches and had taken it in one fell swoop. While everyone else gathered around to devour the enormous wealth of the Bounty Family powerplants, someone snatched up the ties that held the world economy together.
The seven lands of the Randidly’s Soulskill were originally split so that one race dominated its own land, but as time passed the peoples of the world spread. Now there was a large intermingling, although there were a few notable exceptions. Part of the problem with maintaining the trade routes, however, was that the order of the lands occasionally changed. The bottomland lifted to the middle. The second from the top fell to the lower reaches.
Lucretia believed that these changes were due to Randidly's shift in how he viewed himself. However, that was hard to prove. In addition, he had an increasing amount of connections to others through Aether, so it was possible that it was simply the influence of others.
Either way, keeping abreast of these changes was imperative for a land that depended heavily on its economy, like the Spriggit homeland that housed Taft. Currently, it was the 5th land, meaning that from the bottom, it was the fifth land up. Below them sat the Weavers land, and above was the sparse land of the White Hunters.
Once Lucretia believed she found the motives, she began to keep track of which actors could benefit from seizing control of the transportation. The immediately obvious culprits appeared to be the hardline military faction among the Ministers of Taft. After the Bounty holdings were dispersed, it seemed that more and more the voices calling for the open exchange of weapons were gaining in volume. And those that didn't want it for military reasons, believed that intervention would free up more mineral resources for the Spriggit people.
So Lucretia moved on one Minister who suddenly seemed to switch allegiances after the change and helped set up the agencies governing the transportation. That night she had met with the man was the closest Lucretia came to dying and it wasn’t enough one of the Minister’s camp.
An Earth Golem was hired to keep tabs on the Minister, and when the Minister confessed he was being threatened under Lucretia’s torture, the Earth Golem moved.
It was a hard battle and reminded Lucretia that she was not truly the most powerful individual in the Soulskill, not even close. But she had won and had faced a hard decision.
If the organization they were seeking could have a figure of that caliber keeping tabs on a single Minister, who would they mobilize when they knew that Lucretia was tracking their movements and moving against them?
So she killed the Minister and every soul at his residence at the time. Word could not be leaked. She would not allow a calamity to fall on Alta’s head so soon after she had lost her family.
But she had gathered a name for this shadow organization from the deceased Minister: the Council of Fates.
Afterward, Lucretia had pulled back and stayed relatively inactive. She kept track of the politics of the world, but she made no moves and the tragedy that struck that poor Minister was considered just one more attack of foreign powers. The voices for open arms dealing switched to active Spriggit intervention in other lands, using their technological superiority to assist in conflicts.
Those voices had won.
Years later, Lucretia and Alta made a reservation at a rather famous restaurant in Taft, the Lowbeam. They came dressed nicely, but casually, joking back and forth as they walked past the warm wooden interior to find their small table in the hall.
It was around halfway through their salad that he arrived.
The White Martyr walked with the unnatural grace of the White Hunters, all deadly sinew and sharp limbs. But this was a very special individual among the White Hunters. After all, he claimed to have been alive for almost 1000 years and lived through the great cataclysm when the Soulless invaded. Currently, he had descended to the Spriggit land to urge that the MInistry cease their interventions in the 3rd Land.
“Enjoying your food? You have such a look on your face, Creta.” Alta said playfully.
Lucretia harrumphed and took a dainty sip of water. Of course, she appreciated those few chances to see this side of Alta, but Lucretia knew better than anyone that this was a front. The energy of the evening was charged beyond repair. Without a distraction, the meal was unpalatable. The Council of Fates was very interested in the continued war in the Earth Golem land, and they would stop at nothing to keep this political figure from mucking up their game. Lucretia's investigation seemed to indicate that tonight was the night.
Assassination may be a rather crude instrument to accomplish their ends, but it would undoubtedly be an effective one.
As if reading the mood, most of the people around Alta and Lucretia also noticed the arrival of the White Hunter, and the conversation shifted in that direction.
“We don’t need to be at war,” One middle-aged man at a nearby table was explaining to his partner. “The monsters and Earth Golems thrive on violence; paying attention to them is a waste of time. Let them form factions and charge at each other. The pointlessness is why the war is unpopular.”
“Don’t be daft. They crowned an Emperor! For the first time in hundreds of years!” The woman replied with a shocked expression. “They say all Earth Golems kneel before him, and he wields an artefact of the Progenitor!”
“If everyone kneeled before him, why are they fighting so much?” The man replied tiredly.
Lucretia gestured sharply at Alta, noticing the other woman’s attention had wandered with the random person’s conversation. “Focus. Let’s just enjoy the night while we can.”
“Bah, I already can barely sit still. It’s incredible how calm you are; aren't you afraid you might die?” Alta’s eyes twinkled as she looked at Lucretia.
“Not as afraid as I am that you will die,” Lucretia replied smartly. “A wall could fall on you and you’d be fucked. So worry more about yourself than me.”
“Is it from fighting in the Arena? Is that why you are so… composed?”
Both of them knew that the other woman had gone to say the word cold and decided better of it. But their relationship was not something that would be shaken by the truth of what they were to each other. Such was the influence of necessity.
Alta rolled her eyes. The meal continued with the next course, which was a springy bread and some pickled vegetables. It made Lucretia was to cry a little. One of the many things that she missed about the outside world was the food. Courses came and went and all of it was just… blah. Even Randidly could cook better than this!
By the desserts, Alta was beginning to get antsy. “Are you sure it was going to be here? There hasn’t-”
“Patience,” Lucretia said shortly. Then she glanced over at the White Martyr. It ate alone with methodical movement. From its features, it was hard to intuit what it was thinking. Did it suspect that an attempt on his life would be today?
On cue, the lights winked out. In a leisurely manner, Lucretia stood and cracked her neck. Time to get to work.
The windows exploded inwards as several figures smashed into the restaurant. Patrons began to scream and fall over themselves as they attempted to find out what was happening around them. Lucretia tapped Alta’s shoulder to tell her to stay still while her eyes adjusted to the dark.
Very quickly, she spotted the six figures in dark clothes that were moving quickly towards the White Martyr. What did surprise her was that the White Martyr was still sitting and eating, as though all of this was beneath his interest.
Interesting, that smelled a lot like confidence and competence.
Two of the figures split off and waded into the other patrons, slaughtering wantonly. Likely, it was done to distract from the true purpose. What was also interesting was that all six were White Hunters themselves.
Finally, as the figures approached the White Martyr’s table, he looked up at them and frowned. “Need we do this? Why play these games?”
The four that continued towards him didn’t answer. The White Martyr could only sigh before standing to face them.