No sooner than he had lifted his mask above scarlet, sweat laden hair, an explosive sound tore through the night. It came from further South, so far as he could tell.
The man’s sigh and dejected gaze caused hair to fall in front of his face, etching blazing lines across his skin.
A tinge of red glazed his light brown features whenever soft flames from torches in his chamber or the rays of a Mother Moon chanced a glance upon the man.
It was an ever rarified event.
He was the mask and the mask was he; his last decade spent wearing the mantle of another man. He’d stolen the arm of Mezir De Blancana, and was awarded his mask and legacy as compensation; all in aid to The Grand Councilor.
To father. The same man who’d torn his life apart and all but destroyed his people.
We had a plan. A damn good one.
They had created a nearly impeccable plan to best Lord White but Mezir never gave the signal; never got the chance. The scarlet haired imposter found himself hoping every disturbance was his dear friend, coming back for vengeance.
The explosion he heard could easily be Mezir and even if not he was keenly aware that there would only be a few short moments before someone came to his door asking for his presence or assistance.
The man looked into the mirror in his chambers with furious intent.
Mezir. He stared himself down as he thought the name.
He willed as hard as he could, wanting so hard to believe the lie, but he’d known Mezir. He had known the man when he was but a boy. The true Mezir didn’t look tired or rough, never had patchy stubble on his lavishly handsome face. His adeptness with essence kept him looking younger, like all true Legends, while the man in the mirror had telltale signs of haggard age.
The mask hid all of it though.
All the insecurities and daily pains his lies elicited were kept behind the tech-heavy Legend’s mask. The view from within was a view from another world; another being entirely. He had the wisdom, the prowess of Mezir, practically given to him.
He would have never believed something like it existed on Noctra before The Fracturing; and for the last decade, it was his.
It knew him as he knew it and it helped him with all the difficult decisions. The mask kept him sane as he could be. It had been the only reason he had recognized Amberosin on the North Port’s main road those few weeks ago.
The teardrop mask had tracked her movement as she ran away, caught the jump from one wall to another in a loop, and let him watch until it finally dawned on him.
Amberosin had looked so different than when he taught her to jump like that.
Making contact with the eyes of his reflection the man slowly slid the mask over his head and watched the tired, sleeplessly tormented fool disappear. In his place standing tall and proud was Blancana’s living Legend.
“Mezir.” a gruff, muffled voice called through the door.
“One moment please, Heria. I’m not quite decent.”
“We’ll be here all night if we’re waiting for you to look anything near decent. Ehrm, Sir?” she chuckled deep and low.
Thank the Lords it was Heria.
“It’s still weird, isn’t it? Don’t worry, we’ll keep that as a rule only when important guests are around. Otherwise, no more ‘Sirs’, yeah?” A quick grunt followed by a meager laugh escaped Heria on the other side.
He shook his head with a chuckle of his own and fixed his cape to look more rounded up top. Straight backed with a confident stride, the man left beside his large armed companion.
Blessed with a few more hours away from his antagonizing reflection, he set out at the head of the full estate guard. Heria scouted ahead in the shadows, meant to meet with them at regular intervals.
Though the walk was short, familiar to his guard, everyone was on alert. Whatever awaited them was surely more than a few guild thieves running amuck.
Fast and easy just like she wanted it to be.
Amberosin was in and out of the merchant’s shop within minutes. She’d known the layout like it was her own home because, for nearly a month, it had been.
It had been a slow few years aside from petty theft and squabbles between noble families, both new and old, so Amberosin wasn’t surprised there hadn’t been a soul four streets out from her destination.
Everyone was headed south, starved for entertainment and bloodshed.
She had said a quick prayer to the stranger and hoped intensely for his safety before she dove down to the empty streets and sped to the shop’s rear entrance. The key completed its task flawlessly and Amberosin was but a flash as she slid, dove, and jumped across the shop in a hungered frenzy, grabbing nearly all the food her sack could handle.
A quick stop by the register to snag a few coins and she was gone, back into the streets and climbing up to the rooftops with her bulging sack. Amberosin allowed herself a small celebration in the form of some pastries and thanked the Creator she had stopped to do so, otherwise, she may not have heard the heavy footsteps echoing from the north.
The direction of the White’s Estate.
They were still distant, likely five minutes out, but the empty streets cast the incessant clanging of metal boots to each end of the city. Amberosin figured it was the estate guard and knowing who led them decided it best to fly home on the rowdy winds.
She nearly went out at the broken wall on the eastern side where she entered earlier but found there to be an influx of guards, searching for the bandaged stranger no doubt. He really seemed to have done a number on them as not one guard she saw was free from the expression of fear on their face. They’d seen something that paled their skin and widened their eyes.
Amberosin wanted to find the man and thank him for whatever it was.
The guard’s frenzied state, however, made it harder for her to sneak past without spooking someone and having another unfair fight on her hands. Amberosin was tired... And hungry, by the Legends, was she hungry. Her celebratory snack had only proven to agitate the need to eat.
In the short time it had taken her to sprint back on the flat open rooftops of Blancana a massive crowd had already gathered, shoving and squeezing to get a closer look at something towards the southern entrance; just below the tower lights where she had seen the man before.
Amberosin had to descend past the crowd to sneak out of the front entrance with her large sack in hand and decided to crouch low for a few moments behind a crate before moving out.
Crouched there behind the crates waiting out the crowd Amberosin saw a hooded shadow limping into the distance and she swore she saw him bouncing a pouch full of coins as he did so.
Gotta be him.
Every fiber in her being told her to run and leave Blancana for as long as she could with all the food and coins she had stolen, but Amberosin had to see that the stranger was okay. He’d left the pouch for her and she owed him for that kindness.
“Just a quick peek to make sure he’s alright, maybe leave him some food… maybe ask for some coin… no, no just a peek and then I go.” She reassured herself vigorously as she crouched low and ran across to the darkened street she’d seen the stranger go down.
Amberosin could hear the estate guard quickly walk down the street behind her but refused to look and chance another encounter with Mezir or his grotesquely strong lady friend.
Shame about her teeth, she would probably be cute otherwise. Amberosin could look past the arms, but that woman’s teeth were terrifying, and what they did to her voice… “the fucking teeth..” she shuddered at the thought.
Clearing her mind of any concerns or distractions Amberosin delved deeper into the shadows after a man who probably didn’t want her around to begin.
Because she just fucking had to.