Chapter Thirty-Four -The Maegester, The Cardinal, and The Witch

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S'RYLLA, HIVE MOTHER OF THE DAEMON EMPIRE, gazed into the Eye of Malignus, a look of confusion crossed her horned features. She studied the glowing orb before her and the multiple points of magic flashing over its surface. The warrior sent to the upper world to hunt down the Key imprisoning her race; had not returned. But then, as if by some miracle the magical Key they sought manifested itself just beyond the walls. She had allowed a party of warriors to be sent to try and retrieve it. But they too failed. S'rylla continued to track the magic—deciding on what course of action to take next—when it disappeared. But something else appeared. Something she was well acquainted with. A powerful spike of Daemon magic. There were few within the Daemon race who could wield such power, but only one who held a vested interest in obtaining this Key. Only one who knew of its sudden appearance. Charnel, her Grand Cardinal.

S'rylla suspected long ago that Charnel could not be trusted. She may be Queen, but the Grand Cardinal held an influential position within the Hive, without positive proof it could prove unwise to make accusations against him. So she was biding her time, letting him make the mistake of thinking her a fool. Then, and only then would she deliver him into the hands of the Lords of The Dark Infernal. They could decide his fate. A fate she hoped would rid her of his interference and serve as a warning to others who may seek to subvert her reign.

 A fate she hoped would rid her of his interference and serve as a warning to others who may seek to subvert her reign

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She followed the paths of energy pulsating within the orb. The Daemon magic had taken the Grand Cardinal outside the barrier, something she had forbidden him from doing. But once again he chose to disregard her commands. Of one thing she was certain; the appearance of Charnel beyond the wall and the disappearance of the Key were connected. She wondered how he could have obtained the magic and concealed its aura from the Eye of Malignus. Which given the power of the Eye, would be formidable even for someone with the Cardinal's abilities. Unfortunately, for him, he had failed to completely hide himself and the Eye now showed him to be back in the city. S'rylla swiftly dispatched a detail of Inquisitors to track his whereabouts. But so far they had not reported back.

More troubling to the Queen was the materialization of yet more magic. It too was now in the city. A dark and powerful kind, that interrupted the ebb and flow of the magical energies that swirled around the metropolis. Momentarily, S'rylla found herself blinded unable to trace the movement of Charnel. It was also making it difficult to control and direct the vast army of Daemons that did her bidding. She mouthed a silent curse and rounded on one of her servants who stood cowering by the doorway.

'Summons Maegester Morcant,' she shrieked at him. 'Tell him I command he attends immediately. I will tolerate this masquerade no longer.'

The ragged servant bowed low and scuttled from the room.

Morcant was one of the few she could depend upon to carry out her wishes without question. The Maegester had little to gain from betraying her trust. In charge of the Inquisitors; the Queen's personal guard, he held a position of power that more than suited his needs. A position that allowed him to go about his duties almost without challenge. S'rylla had noted long ago that even among the Daemon race, Morcant possessed a particularly blood-thirsty nature. She had used that trait to mould him into a unique type of warrior, one that held no allegiance to any other, one that obeyed her every whim. He lived for the pleasure of the kill and the many ways he could sate his bloodlust. Any, who attracted the Queen's wrath or sought to cause dissent among the cities inhabitants would be dealt with swiftly and mercilessly. Trapped within the confines of the barrier, the remnants of the once great Daemon race was stripped of its natural instinct to overrun and slaughter anything that differed from their species. Without it, they had taken to fighting and scheming among themselves. From trivial problems that could quickly escalate into something more serious, to all-out war between rival fractions living in the overcrowded metropolis. Maegester Morcant and the Inquisitors speedily put an end to any such situations even if it meant laying waste to whole blocks to prevent the spread of the disorder.

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