The Fallen City beckoned her onward though she knew it would likely mean her end. After all, how could her liege lord continue to support her as an instrument of his designs when she had failed so spectacularly? The elves of Nianthos Brae would likely tell the world that the Kingdom of the Dead once again was spreading tendrils into the lands of the living, wouldn’t they?
Long ago she had forsworn the lands of the living, answering the call into her Lord’s service as eyes and ears in the world. Not once had she looked back. Never did she regret her decision as she gained more power and held the ear of the world’s most powerful ruler.
She was escorted by two hulking, rotting brutes in the traditional black armor of the Kingsguard. Every echoing step she was reminded of her true size compared to the world she had left. She was but a speck with the power of a flea. Her life was forfeit. Her eyes watched the floor, noticing details of the finery that once was. Tiny decorative patterns matching the house symbols of the rose and sword, dissolving thread by thread.
Before she was even at the foot of the throne, she heard movement before her but dared not raise her head. Her escorts stopped and in lockstep turned to walk back the way they’d come. Heavy step after heavy step echoed until the giant doors were closed. The only breathing she heard was her own.
“Rise, Arryn. Let us talk,” said the King of the Dead. She nodded.
“Thank you for your service. Your reports from the field have been… informative.”
“Thank you my Lord. I am yours. It is my duty to serve.”
“Do the elves truly know of our plans?”
“I don’t believe so my Lord, but they are smart. And patient. Not as patient as you, but patient. I think there is a chance they may wait until they know more. But they will be more vigilant at the very least.”
There was a scrape on the armrest of the throne. He was waiting for a clearer answer.
“No my Lord, they do not know of your plans.”
“Good. They will wait. We will get to them in due time. Our armies are almost ready… It is unfortunate that they discovered you among them. Your value in the field has been… compromised.”
“Yes my Lord.”
“What shall I do with you Arryn? You have served me well.”
“I will serve my Lord however he sees fit.”
A grinding of teeth was the only warning she had and suddenly he was standing before her, his hands on either side of her head. “Yes, you will.”
Her last breath among the living was sharp and full of pain, but it was over quickly.
When next she opened her eyes, she saw things… differently. The throne room she had thought empty was full of spirits, drained of color, swirling like mists through the air. One caught her staring, put a finger to her lips, and smiled a horrible grin full of teeth.
But it was her Lord’s appearance that made her fall to her knees. Before he appeared old, dusty, and weak as nothing more than a skeleton wearing armor from a thousand years ago. Now she saw him as he truly was… a figure wreathed in spirit fire ready to take back the world that was once his.
What had she done?