Dusk had fallen, and the Lady, as was her custom, went to watch for the messengers that came daily riding in from the west and from the north. The day’s word had already come from Jalra the Younger, but the messenger from Zamorra tarried on the road.

She was not alone. Looking down over the Tattash Gate towards the west, the elf-ambassador was attended by a straggling group of courtiers, lackeys and lapdogs, and the honor-guard assigned him by the captain of the palace guard–primarily to keep him out of Jalra the Elder’s sight.

He was Moratha, once called a prince himself. He had ridden in alone, with no more fanfare than the hurried salutes of the gate guards who recognized his House-token and the sign he gave, to see the old king buried and the new crowned. He had arrived early, though through some oversight, he had not been summoned.

Fifty mules, heavy-loaded but with their packs shapelessly shrouded in cloth, and heavily guarded, had departed from Jalra the Elder’s great house that evening. They had not lost themselves in darkness, for it was rarely dark in the high city, and difficult to truly lose one’s way; but they had disappeared.