Edgar's real name wasn't Edgar of course; it was an alias that he liked.
When Edgar was a boy, his father had forbidden him to watch any of the plebeian Vid-shows, but Edgar was far too slippery for his idiotic NoM housekeepers and his multiple nannies. When he finally did manage to catch a Vid-cast in the break room of the manor, the hero who blasted apart a hydra's nest was called Edgar.
It was such a masculine name, rolling off the tongue with its pedantic, near-silent E, followed by the full, syllabic luxury of that long GAR. Far more thrilling to the ear than his own.
“Edgar. Come See,” Faceless called from above. The shapeshifter was his partner and temporary companion, Faceless, or John Citizen, as Edgar liked to think of him; was nobody and everybody.
A swirly of grey dust blew from Edgar’s feet as his body grew light, propelling himself from the bottom of the pit towards the ledge whereby Faceless stood in that ubiquitous, illusory cowl their organisation always made the members wear.
“What is it?”
“Scryed Visions from Sector Four," Faceless replied, his pitch both high and low as he spoke. His genderless companion then produced a Magic Item from underneath his cowl.
A sprout of water appeared before them, forming into a mirror-like pane. The vision was hazy, for the spell worked best when one knew the target of the invocation more intimately. From the semi-transparent surface of the pool of water, the duo saw what appeared to be high school students going on a field trip. The image shifted here and there, showing a few groups moving across the lower sector of the Uloola fire trail.
“Kids… Acolytes?” Edgar rubbed his chin. The constant glamour of the cowl made his beard itch. “Any good ones?”
Faceless's illusory mien became a smug looking middle-aged man licking his chops as if before a great feast.
Edgar observed the goosebumps rising and falling on his skin. The shapeshifter's ability was a hellish sight to behold. One of the Others once said that Faceless consumed the souls of those whose shape he took.
The scrying pool dissolved to reform elsewhere. Another image appeared this time clearer, indicating that Faceless had been following this group for some time.
They watched a group of young Mages making their way through the fire trail, expertly picking off the critters generated from the leylines of the Wildlands. The leading girl, a spirited looking Asian girl, was throwing unstable Firebolts all over the joint.
“Ooo very nice, Faceless!” Edgar applauded. “And that chest! She would fetch a pretty good price for sure.”
The scene changed again, and this time the group was facing off against a gigantic Diprotodon, a formidable enemy that would make even Edgar break a sweat. They watched it crush the Shields conjured by the Ice Abjurer, swatting the youth aside as the final barrier shattered. As a creature aligned with Fire, the beast had remarkable resistance to heat, and so ignored the blasts that were gouging chunks of fur from its flank. Then, a jolt of purple lightning materialised from the air, striking the creature square in the face before escalating into a storm of blue-white electricity that smothered the hulking mass until smoke began to pour from its nose and mouth.
“Nice catch, number two!” Edgar’s voice raised an extra octave. The dust around him swirled and spun to form small vortexes that flowed out uncontrollably here and there, carving channels in the stone. “Such a beautiful face as well, they told me this place was an uninhabited shithole! But it's turned out to be a crystal mine!”
“No…” Edgar’s face cowl was bobbing up and down with glee, “You telling me there's MORE than meets the Scry?”
The final pool that formed showed the ice Mage being picked from the floor by the others. The kid looked like he had broken his arm, but in the next moment, a little blonde girl kelt and cast an assortment of healing and blessing spells. In the next minute, the injured mage stood by the strength of his very own self and gave his arm a good stretch while the other appeared to be making calls and pulling up camp.
“A Healer!” Edgar blurted out. “We’ve hit the lottery! Clerics are rare as shit here in the Frontier! You know I love myself a good Cleric, their mana is very fortifying, and their bodies can withstand punishment like nobody else.”
Faceless' illusory mien turned to that of a wicked grin, the yellow teeth covering the area under his cowl.
“Three girls…” Edgar considered his options, “They look to be about tier 2… The Fire one would probably sell pretty quickly, the Lightning one’s a real looker, so maybe keep her around for a while longer. The healer, that’s the real bank right there, old man.”
“No! No way!” Edgar was beside himself. “What is this? Did Lilith's lose a bus in the woods or something, you mean to tell me there are more?”
“This One. Now.” Faceless waved a hand. The final scrying pool displayed what appeared to be a base camp with a few concrete buildings. The duo had seen them before but had not known it had became occupied in the weeks since they began their operation. They watched a few instructor-looking Mages going about their rounds disinterestedly when suddenly, the spell became drawn to a woman in a bright red racing suit. The scrying pool was unusually focused, denoting that the caster, Faceless, knew her already. The vision followed her as she moved into the compound, where she suddenly stopped. Unexpectedly, she turned, giving them a glimpse of a strikingly beautiful face, before a blast of scarlet flame seemed to wipe out the divination window, dispelling it entirely in a hiss of steam.
Edgar stumbled back at the moment of impact, almost falling over the ledge before his still-activated Flight spell caught him.
“Christ!” He cried out loudly. “What the fuck, Faceless! That was the Scarlet Flame! The fucking Crimson Goddess herself! What the fuck are you doing scrying her?”
A frightened female face appeared before the Faceless man’s cowl, before turning into one of cruel cunning.
“She Suspects,” Faceless replied. “She Does Not Know.”
“Well, we better get a fucking move on then.”
The two of them looked below, where the charmed Neophytes were laying out the final parts of the puzzle. Around the central dais of what seemed to be an excavated cavern, was a man-sized, egg-like artefact cordoned off by layer upon layers of scrolls that formed a pentagram-like sigil around its exterior. Two dozen or so of the ‘apprentices’ were still busy bloodletting, making precise incisions into their hands and wrists, and using the blood to inscribe the last touches of the Arcane Cauldron. They had euphoric expressions that juxtaposed oddly with the state of their wane bodies.
The sun was now striking the horizon, sending a mauve light over the dusky bushland.
“Think it’s possible to nail the Scarlet Bitch?”
“Not Impossible,” Faceless seemed to ponder proposal, his face changing to that of the thinking man, before turning into a toothy grin. “Ambush. You And Me. She and I. Grudge.”
“Get the girls first.” Edgar licked his lips. “I am short on funds and favours.”
“Distractions,” Faceless intoned, his scowling face becoming one of displeasure.
“3:7 my way, and I’ll take point on the Scarlet Bitch.”
“…” The cowl changed to a celebratory expression. “Agreed. But Her Face. Mine. If We Succeed. Must repay her brother-in-craft, the esteemed Paladin Shultz.”
“Sure thing.” Edgar shrugged, he liked his friend, but the gent had sick tastes. If it was true that he ate souls, then the Transmuter was a Necromancer to boot. Nobody wanted to associate with that.
They looked down below into the pit once more, where yet another ‘apprentice’ collapsed from blood loss and exhaustion.
The night is nigh, and they could hardly wait.