The towers were ghostly, shimmering gently in the dark light of the Sister. They were unfeasibly tall; slender needles that reached far into the sky, born from the worn remnants that lay crumpled across the ground around him. Fragile looking bridges spanned the spaces between them, creating a sparse un-patterned web above. He leant back, resting against the ruin of one such tower, gazing upwards into the dark sky. Sister's Night, when she shone fully, uncloaked and such memories as these were revealed. A night of portent, happenstance and mercurial events. Nights that were becoming all too rare, as she retreated before the coming convergence of her siblings the Twins, he thought with sadness.
The Sister had crossed a quarter of the sky by the time he roused himself, stiff from lying motionlessly for so long. He rolled his blanket, slinging it across his shoulder. He felt vaguely comforted by its weight and warmth, yet he strode quickly through ghosts of streets and towers. He reached the edge of the city, walking through the shadow of the wall that had once been there, failing to suppress a shudder as he did so. He walked into the scrubland beyond, following the faint remnants of what once must have been a road, long since gone. A few minutes later he was climbing a gentle hill, turning just before its summit to gaze back at the once-city, its towers and walls ethereal and haunting.
After a long moment he turned again, pausing as he reached the summit, staring down at a camp-fire where there should have been a fire unlit, and two horses where there should have been one. He frowned, and found himself gripping the handles of the two Shames. He took a deep breath, letting go of the long blades and descended the hill.
As he approached the camp-fire he realised that the owner of the other horse was seated at the edge of the light cast by the campfire, seemingly relaxed and patient. He entered the light, dropping his blanket by his bedroll, eyeing the woman waiting for him.
She was tall, even when sitting down it was more than evident. She was dressed in plain leather armour, her hair dark and plaited, silver thread running through it. A veil of fine silver mesh hid the lower part of her face, dark eyes that were kohled in glittering midnight. With that he knew who she was and the sudden chill undid the benefit of the fire. He knelt by it, holding his hands to the warmth to hide his dismay, and then looked up at her.
"Lady Grief." he said, and waited, unsure what to do next.
She tilted her head slightly, as if in consideration.
"Bava Ren. You are a hard man to find. Inconsiderately so."
He broke eye contact and looked back down at the fire. He shrugged.
"I did not think anybody would care where I was."
"The whole world wonders at what you do, and why. And, indeed, as to where you are. Which is here. In the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of a city tens of thousands of years dead."
He could hear the impatience in her voice. He swallowed, eyes averted, staring blindly at the flames. Lady Grief, he thought, whom it was said that it was unwise to frustrate. Lady Grief of the Veil, one of the Bound, sometimes referred to as the Veiled. Irritated. With him.
He took a deep breath and forced his gaze back to hers. It would not do to be afraid. To be cowed by this one. It would not do.
"I bear the Queen's Mark. I am Unbound. I go where I will." He said, surprised at the calmness in his voice.
She stared at him, and nodded once.
"Yes, yes, you do, don't you?"
He waited, easing himself back into a more comfortable sitting position.
It was a while before she answered.
"I have come to ask... a favour of you. Something I nor any other Bound can do."
"And that is, Lady Grief?"
She leant forward then, her eyes glittering in the firelight.
"I need you to kill someone. Someone special. Someone even more special than you, Bava Ren Shame-bearer."