Zahara It is at a small tavern, she has chosen to meet with Ebon Blade of Vengeance. The very same in which she had recently drank with her new...friends, at the post-Calibration party. She is wearing somewhat common clothes to the casual glance, and she has acquired a back room for their use.
EbonBladeOfVengeance is waiting for Zahara in the room, which has no windows -- and all the lanterns are extinguished. Once she has entered and closed the door, he steps out of the darkest shadows in one corner, appearing and seating himself at the central table without saying a word.
Zahara raises a brow, shifting to essence sight. "A bit dramatic, don't you think?"
Zahara smiles a little and seats herself across from him. "Tell me, how have you been? It has been a long time since we've spoken face to face."
EbonBladeOfVengeance lifts the cup -- of lukewarm water -- that he requested Zahara bring him with one hand, while his other lazily twirls a large, jagged soulsteel knife. "I have been busy."
Zahara sips her own cup of wine
Zahara "That is good to hear. What have you been doing?"
EbonBladeOfVengeance sips his water quietly before answering. "There are many foolish individuals who plot against the rulership of the Sunlands."
Zahara "Are any of them still alive?"
EbonBladeOfVengeance stabs his blade swiftly into the table, then in one fluid motion reaches the hand out behind himself, grabs some sort of burlap sack, and on the far end of the table dumps out its contents: three recently severed heads.
Zahara stops one from rolling off the table with the tip of her finger, then turns each of the faces towards herself, inspecting them. "Cleanly done. Did any of them give you any trouble?"
EbonBladeOfVengeance "No." As the heads are arranged, Zahara gets a better look at them. One, an older man, has a rather elaborate tattoo: a sun, cracked in half, around his left eye. Another, a woman, shows the unmistakable signs of Earth-aspect Terrestrial Exaltation.
Zahara "Part of a conspiracy, or independent agents?"
EbonBladeOfVengeance "Independent agents are not worthy of my time." He withdraws the knife and taps the broken sun crest on the one face. "This mark has been appearing in greater frequency amongst those I have observed."
Zahara inspects the tattoo, frowning thoughtfully. "Fascinating. Do they dislike all Solars or just the Sunlands?"
EbonBladeOfVengeance "Uncertain. I have observed them in action against targets within the Sunlands, but not in communication regarding their goals."
Zahara "Hmm. Then perhaps the next one you encounter should be taken alive."
EbonBladeOfVengeance coughs. "Usually it is not necessary for me to take foes alive for their intentions to be gleaned. Do you lack the capacity to do so?"
Zahara "Why no, I have you to do it for me." She smiles. "If you would, please." She gestures.
EbonBladeOfVengeance picks up his empty water glass in one hand and the knife in the other. With practiced, swift movements, he pops the eyes out of the head and into the cup, then reaches in to sever the tongue -- which rapidly joins the eyes. (...)
EbonBladeOfVengeance When this is done, he takes two polished black stones and a piece of silver from his pouch, places them into the head, and feeds several motes of Essence into them while chanting very quietly under his breath -- at which point the head becomes very slightly animate.
Zahara regards the animated head for a moment before speaking. "Tell me, who do you work for?"
SeveredHead The head speaks in a dull monotone. "I do not work for anyone. I live no longer."
Zahara rolls her eyes. "Who did you work for when you lived?"
SeveredHead "I honorably served my liege Jerro Ten-Leaf, and also I engaged in the tasks set to me by the Broken Suns ."
Zahara "What are the goals of the Broken Suns?"
SeveredHead "To cast down tyrants."
Zahara "Name the tyrants the Broken Suns work against."
SeveredHead "Our cells do not communicate. I know that I worked to cast down the tyrannical rulers of the Sunlands."
Zahara "What exalts do you have among your ranks?"
SeveredHead "My cell had three. Cells do not communicate, but I know that many more must have existed."
Zahara "What are the names of the three?"
SeveredHead "Bent Grass, Hezel Rel, and Four Rivers." Ebon Blade helpfully indicates the second and third heads as he lists the first two names. "Four Rivers did not have a head left to bring," the Abyssal adds in conclusion.
Zahara "Ah, thank you. I was wondering about the fourth."
Zahara turns back to the head, "How did you come to join the Broken Suns?"
SeveredHead "My family lost all that we had at the hands of Exalted tyrants, and I was reduced to servitude in the house of another. One day, I was visited in a dream by a figure I could not see, who spoke to me of vengeance.
SeveredHead "They gestured, and I saw a vision of thousands upon thousands of souls in tiny, interlocking circles, all working torwards the same goal, and one such circle with a gap destined for me.
Zahara considers whether she'd been the Exalt that destroyed this man's livelihood, trying to remember if she'd heard of him before. Her mental list of names is, however, rather long.
SeveredHead "Then I saw a local tavern, and a shape in the clouds like a banner -- three days later when I saw that cloud in the sky, I went to the tavern and there met my contacts. I was tattooed that night, and given the means to hide my affiliation by day by the others in my cell."
Zahara frowns, considering that this enemy has rather...interesting methods of communication that indicate power.
EbonBladeOfVengeance "Are you finished with this head?"
Zahara "Unless you have anything to say, yes."
EbonBladeOfVengeance unceremoniously shoves his hand into the head's face and pulls his tiny devices out, replacing them in his pouch.
Zahara "Thank you, Ebon, you have been very helpful."
EbonBladeOfVengeance nods. "I do as I am made to do."
Zahara "Do you find your employment with me satisfactory?"
EbonBladeOfVengeance "It is what it is. I am free to kill; I am not subject to foolish constraints."
Zahara nods. "Good. Is there anything you need from me?"
EbonBladeOfVengeance stands up and shakes his head brusquely. "You will know if anything I discover in my further killing necessitates your attention."
Zahara "Ah, one more thing, actually."
EbonBladeOfVengeance pauses and waits for Zahara to speak
Zahara "Your name has come up in discussion of the Exalted Deliberative."
EbonBladeOfVengeance raises an eyebrow.
Zahara "You have proven yourself as an ally of the Sunlands," she nods to the heads, "and in doing so, helped to protect Creation and those who live upon it. Does the thought interest you?"
EbonBladeOfVengeance realizes what Zahara is actually suggesting, seems to shift gears, and responds: "What benefit could such a thing hold for me?"
Zahara sips her wine, leaning back in her chair. "Power, influence. You would have domain over something suited to you."
EbonBladeOfVengeance "I am not interested in power and influence."
Zahara "What does interest you, Ebon Blade of Vengeance?"
EbonBladeOfVengeance "Death," he says, and turns to walk out the back door of the hidden chamber.
Zahara tilts her head to one side and watches him.