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“What makes you think I'd have even the slightest possible interest in seeing him?” asked the Night Mother with venomous sweetness.
“We are having a busy day,” she smiled, clapping her hands together with delight. “Show him in.”
Zuuk entered the chamber. His metallic skin, though exposed only at his face and hands, caught the light of the fireplace and the lightning of the stormy night from the window. The Night Mother noted also that she could see herself as he saw her: serene, beautiful, fear-inspiring. He handed her his letter from the Empress without a word. Sipping her wine, she read it.
“The Duke of Morrowind also offered me an appreciable sum to have the Emperor murdered earlier this year,” she said, folding the letter. “His payment sunk, and never was delivered. It was a considerable annoyance, particularly as I had already gone to the trouble of putting one of my agents in the palace. Why should I assume that your more-than-generous payment, from a dead woman, will arrive?”
“I brought it with me,” said Zuuk simply. “It is in the carriage outside.”
“Then bring it in and our business is complete,” smiled the Night Mother. “The Emperor will be dead by year's end. You may leave the gold with Apaladith. Unless you'd care for some wine?”
Zuuk declined the offer and withdrew. The moment he left the room, Miramor slipped noiselessly back from behind the dark tapestry. The Night Mother offered him a glass of wine, and he accepted it.
“I know that fellow, Zuuk,” said Miramor carefully. “I didn't know he worked for the old Empress though.”
“Let's talk about you some more, if you don't mind,” she said, knowing he would, in fact, not mind.
“Let me show you my worth,” said Miramor. “Let me be the one to do the Emperor in. I've already killed his son, and you saw there how well I can hide myself away. Tell me you saw one ripple in the tapestry.”
The Night Mother smiled. Things were falling into place rather nicely.
“If you know how to use a dagger, you will find him at Bodrum,” she said, and described to him what he must do.
3 Sun's Dusk, 2920
The Duke stared out the window. It was early morning, and for the fourth straight day, a red mist hung over the city, flashing lightning. A freakish wind blew through the streets, ripping his flags from the castle battlements, forcing all his people to close their shudders tightly. Something terrible was coming to his land. He was not a greatly learned man, but he knew the signs. So too did his subjects.
“When will my messengers reach the Three?” he growled, turning to his castellan.
“Vivec is far to the north, negotiating the treaty with the Emperor,” the man said, his face and voice trembling with fear. “Almalexia and Sotha Sil are in Necrom. Perhaps they can be reached in a few days time.”
The Duke nodded. He knew his messengers were fast, but so too was the hand of Oblivion.