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Sophanem


A woman wrapped head to ankle in off-white linens raps on the door of High Priest Klenter's private chambers.

A gruff voice from inside answers the knock. "What is it? Don't I deserve a rest?"

"Is that all you deserve?" answers the woman.

A moment passes and the locks on the door start being removed. When that is done, Klenter opens the door with a furtive smile on his face and beckons the woman inside. "Did anyone see you?" he asks as he closes and locks the door.

"I am sure someone did, but no one is going to keep a Sister from going about her business," she says, removing her head scarf and shaking out her bright red hair. She takes a seat on the side of Klenter's bed.

Klenter makes his way over and runs his fingers through her hair, enchanted by its color and shine. "I wish you would be more careful, my princess." He sits next to her.

"You have never hidden something in plain sight, have you, dear? It is all secrets and closed doors with you, isn't it?"

"I am a public figure. There is no hiding in plain sight for me." He moves to kiss her.

She places and on his chest and gently pushes him away, much to his confusion. "That is what I have come to talk to you about. Your faithful are murmuring, and the Pharaoh is getting suspicious."

"About us?" he asks, shocked.

"No, about what the Emir of Al-Kharid has been saying. That there are Amascutians amongst the religious orders and the government."

His face turns red at the accusation. "WHAT!? How dare they! We serve Icthlarin and only Icthlarin, and aid him in his struggles against her. Without us their souls would fall prey to the Devourer!"

"Shhh, shhh, only Icthlarin? Do you wish Tumeken to hide his face in shame and the Elid to dry up?"

"I... of course not, but I am a priest of Icthlarin. The others in the pantheon have their High Priests too. Save for the Devourer, of course. But I can't be the High Priest of all. I can praise the sun and the river, but if I do not attend to the shepherd of the dead, then what is the use?" He pauses. "Why? Why are they believing the Emir's lies?"

"Simple... There are agents of the Emirate -- hidden in plain sight."

He grabs her by the shoulders and shakes her. "Damn you, why are you always so cryptic? Who? Who is it?"

"I don't know yet!"

Klenter stands for better leverage and for a more menacing effect. "I have tolerated your games so far, but this crosses the line. These are serious accusations and I will not fool around about such things."

He raises his hand to slap her, but she responds with a swift block and a punch to his gut. He doubles over in pain.

"Are you really ready to end our affair like that, Klenter?" she asks, seething. "It is to your benefit that I leave here today without bruises. Who knows who may see me on my way out?" She stands and pushes him over onto the floor. "As for your bruises..." She squats over him begins undressing him.

"What are you doing?"

"It looks like you don't have any, yet," she says, ignoring him. "You don't want any, do you? People will start asking more questions if they see their High Priest covered with bruises. But if you play well, I'll tell you who I suspect is spreading these rumors." With a smirk she says, "We can play nice pleasant games or mean nasty ones, but you will play. You are my toy, Klenter."

Pollnivneach


"Sumona! Give up! We have this warehouse surrounded and my men are sweeping through it. We will find you. And don't think your sister is going to come in and rescue you; we have already captured her."

"Thieves! Pollnivneach deserves better than you! Don't you dare touch my sister!" Though the warehouse is full and the walls are made up mostly of mudbrick and plaster, the answering woman's voice seems to echo from everywhere at once, as if it were an empty room built of smooth stone.

"We aren't thieves! We are soldiers in Pharaoh's army, and Pollnivneach belongs to him! The supplies in this warehouse belong to us!"

"Pharaoh's soldiers, the Emir's soldiers, it does not matter! You are all thieves!"

"Heh heh, general, look what I found. Ear muffs. How does she even sell these heh heh."

"Get those off your head, you look stupi--"

"BANSHEES!"

"Oh gods, no..."

Al-Kharid Palace


Osman walks into the Spymaster's chambers with his two battered prisoners.

"I see your hunt was successful, Osman. Congratulations," says Spymaster Yasmin.

"Thank you, madam. But these two have told me there is still a third at large," Osman admits.

"And they didn't tell you who it is or where they could be found?" inquires the spymaster.

"No, they claim not to know. The Menaphites keep secrets even from their own agents, it seems."

"Oh, it is necessary to do that sometimes." She takes a long assessing look at the prisoners. "But in this case, they know. They are lying," she says with a hungry grin. "You have much to learn, Osman, but I see a very bright future for you. Bring them to the special interrogation room, and I'll show you how to deal with their stubbornness."

"No, please, we really don't know anything!" begs one of the prisoners.

Yasmin sighs as she and Osman drag the prisoners off. "Why must they always contradict me?" Yasmin asks, faux-tearfully. "I really hate the special interrogation room. The things one must do for the protection of one's countrymen are so horrible."

"I am sure they have done the same to our agents," Osman answers.

"You really don't know how to comfort a woman, do you Osman? That means they'll be prepared for that sort of torture and we'll just have to keep trying things until we find something much worse than what they prepared for!" Yasmin says, blubbering and dragging her struggling prisoner along.

Osman can't help but raise an eyebrow at the spectacle.

Varrock


"You can't do this Straven! Yes, we were going to sell the shield sometime, but to LUCIEN? No!"

"I didn't know he was Lucien. But why do you care, Katrine? He is not law enforcement, he's the furthest thing from it! And he is paying much more than what is fair. We'll split it Katrine, just like we promised each other, and well be set for life."

"Will you two stop yelling?" A young face with long, curly strawberry blonde hair peeks down at the two arguing adults below from the stair leading up to her and her sister Katrine's rooms. "I am trying to practice my magic!"

But it isn't just Straven and Katrine there. It's the whole gang.

"Be quiet witch!" Straven hollers up at her. "Adults are talking!"

"Don't you talk to Keli that way! She's an important asset to this gang and it would be wise to keep yourself on her good side, and mine," Katrine answers back.

"Heh, what is wrong with you? Is it that bloody time of the month again? Bloody women." Straven leans back in his chair, arms crossed and grinning.

Keli descends the stairs and makes her way through the crowd, sometimes having to push aside burly gang members with her unnatural strength.

Katrine, opposite Straven at the table, seethes with barely contained anger. "What the fuck is wrong with you? Remember who helped you steal that shield and who helped you to get away. And guess what, it was that time of month." She glances toward the center of the table where the shield lay, and then goes back to glaring at Straven. "This legitimate business foolishness is making you soft in the head. First you think it's a good idea to sell to a buyer who is paying a suspiciously large sum without knowing who that buyer is, then when I tell you it is a mahjarrat, you don't give a damn! And now you have the nerve to ignore me just because I am a woman? What the fuck is with you? This isn't you."

"Listen," Straven begins.

But he is stopped when he notices shimmering purple lines of force circulating an empty volume where the shield once was. The lines fade, and Straven turns to Keli, as does Katrine.

"Who is Lucien and what is a mahjarrat?" demands Keli, standing with the shield, now in front of the rest of the gang.

Straven puts on a friendly smile, "You would like him, Keli. He wields magics beyond even your imaginings. I am sure if you bring the shield to me, he'll be so thankful that we sold it to him that he will gladly take you on as his apprentice."

"Keli, don't you dare give it to him. We are nothing to mahjarrat. Lucien won't teach you, he'd rather kill you and bring you back as a zombie. You won't be learning magics for him, he would be using you to cast spells like some kind of walking magic wand." Katrine turns to Straven. "Why do you think Lucien wants the shield in the first place? He wants us defenseless. What good will that money do you if there's nowhere to spend it?"

Katrine turns back to her sister. "We can sell it back to the nobles here in Varrock. But it needs to stay here in Varrock. And then I could send you to a real magic school. Please, listen to me, Keli."

"And what if that noble turns around and sells it to Lucien?" Keli asks.

"The rich get richer and the poor get poorer," answers Straven smugly.

Keli turns toward Straven, then looks at the shield, studying it. Then with one swift movement, she splits the shield over her knee.

Straven raises a crossbow at Keli, and roars, "YOU BITCH! What good is it going to be to anyone now?!"

"Stop!" Katrine's crossbow is pointed at Straven's head. Everyone else in the house is also leveling crossbows at someone else, save for Keli, whose hands are occupied by the halves of the shield.

"Think," Katrine orders. "That shield is supposed to be indestructible; what do you think she'll be able to do to you, Straven?" Oh gods what the fuck, how the fuck did she do that?

"I can kill her before she raises a finger against me!" Straven bellows.

"Maybe you could, but you had to open your mouth. You blinked, Straven, you blinked. If you pull that trigger, we are all going to die. No more Phoenix Gang. We can't come back from this," Katrine warns.

"Then what do you suggest?" Straven asks, voice thick with sarcasm.

No one moves, until Keli walks over to Straven's side of the table. Straven keeps his crossbow aimed at her head, even up to the point when she presses her forehead against it for show.

She places half of the shield on the table in front of him, and calmly makes her way back to sister, with her back turned to Straven and his crossbow the entire way. At Katrine's side, she turns back around to Straven, with a determined look on her face and the other half of the shield in her arms.

"Get out."

Straven lowers his crossbow and Katrine does the same. The rest of the gang follows suit.

Straven takes his half of the shield and leaves. As does half the gang gathered there.

"No more Phoenix Gang," Keli says, echoing Katrine.

"Keli, what are we going to do now? Lucien was going to come after the shield whether we sold it to him or not. If he finds out it is broken..." Katrine says, worriedly.

"If and when. That all depends on Straven's remaining cleverness and Lucien's gullibility. Then we'll see if this Lucien deserves this reputation you and Straven give him."

"... I like your confidence, but this is nuts."

The syzygy approaches, and the mahjarrat are weak, panicking. I can feel it.

The Frozen North, Daemonheim


"Hahaha! Bill! Bill! Okay, I will admit, you have improved security significantly around here. I am impressed."

Amascut, surrounded by the ichor and entrails of Bilrach's summoned demons and her Scabarite warriors, drops the illusion that she is the Red Mistress, the shining red beetle priestess of Purification and the gods Scarabas and Amascut. "You broke all my soldiers, Bill!"

The walls of the place rumble. "... why are you doing this Amascut? ..."

"Zam Zams? Is that you? You beautiful traitorous pile of shapeshifting dung, where are you?" she asks the room with a smile.

"... why are you stopping here? ..."

"Because it would be no fun doing this alone. Bill! I know what you are doing here! But you are never going to finish before the syzygy!" she taunts. "You are missing another ritual!"

"... why? ..." the walls rumble.

"You are cheating, Zam Zams," she sings at the walls. "You are driving poor Bill crazy. Isn't that right Bill? You are going to die, Bill! You are dead!"

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