Marané, the witch


You study the scented letter you just received. The rich blue of the wax seal almost glimmers in the morning light—the stamp is so clean that it would almost be a waste to break it. When you turn the envelope to look at the back, a flowing script appears.

My Dear Friend,

You know what to do if you wish to see me.

Yours,

M.

You indeed know what to do. You break the seal and the string of smoke that leaves the wax turns into mist. It fills your vision, intrudes into your nostrils with its scent, and you can taste it in the back of your throat.

When you open your eyes, you're under a starry sky, and Marané stands up to welcome you.

"I am so glad you could make it."

Marané is on borrowed time.

The mages of the Halls of Elevation are not usually seen in the streets of Carolise; as the only heir of her sponsor, she is only allowed freedom in order to take care of her mentor's worldly affairs before she is forced back into the gilded cage she hates.

She makes a token effort to appear soft, with her silks and perfumes, but they can't hide the fire burning within her or the hardness of her eyes. They always fall on you.

Are you passing her unspoken tests, you wonder. Will she ever trust you enough to confide in you?

Will she ever see you as something more than a tool she can use to raze the city and start anew?

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