Even for a broken down, nigh-condemned building, this seemed like a strange place to meet an mafia contact. That was all he had on the man, "an underworld contact able to put you on your path", but this place was just... unnerving.
High overhead, the sound of an ancient bell began to toll. The wind was getting fierce outside the old church. The tremulous sound shook the entire structure, sending a swarm of bats perched in the skeletal rafters overhead scattering in all directions. Their cries were as painful as the constant clamor of the huge, brass bell.
Wincing, he stepped into the comfort of a deep, granite cloister, one of the few left in the crumbling sanctuary...
...and immediately darted back out of it, moving as fast as he could to get away from the sudden hissing of something lurking in its shadows.
"You're late, Destinae." The voice was a strange mix of rasp and growl, as sibilant as it was hostile. Ravyn could not see the speaker clearly but the outline was most certainly not human. His mind started to draw a very unfortunate picture of what Kalinda might actually have meant by the word 'underworld'. Perhaps this had nothing to do with...
"The mafia? No." A truly unholy laugh echoed from the dark, stone-ringed room beyond. "Not even a little."
Bloodravyn sighed inwardly. Could everyone on Mercy Island read his damned mind?
Again, laughter slipped from the shadows. "No. Just anyone who matters." Then, with a sudden shift into a far more serious tone, "And be careful with that. Don't be so ready to call yourself damned. You are closer to that fate than you know, larval."
Ravyn focused on the darkness again, trying to see who was speaking. He did not like dealing with someone who could not see. The voice was disturbing enough. He suspected the actual form of this potential contact would be even more...
"Worry not about that. There will be time for explanations later."
Clenching one hand, Ravyn forced himself to let the matter drop. For now. Whoever this was, he... she... it... was right. There were other concerns right now, most predominantly the influx of magic-wielding thugs on the streets of the Rogue Isles. Between them and the Circle of Thorns, vile druids and necromancers lurking in the only wild areas left in Arachnos territory, arcane power here was in some very wicked hands.
"Nothing wrong with wicked hands."
The voice sounded amused. Ravyn was most assuredly not. "Please get out of my mind."
"I am not in your mind. But if you keep shouting your thoughts, I cannot help hearing them, son of the dr..." The voice trailed off. Ravyn wanted to press for more but it was obvious from the now-total silence tat whoever this was would say nothing else on the matter. Fine. That could drop too.
But this wasn't over. Not by a long shot.
"You are here because the Lonely One wishes something done about the inheritors of Shitan, yes? That is why we are meeting?"
Ravyn nodded. He was no surprised the strange shadowy being knew about the reason for this visit already. Surely whoever it was had been contacted by Kalinda and asked to come here. Perhaps even paid, though he suspected that, like all his other meetings this past week, if there was a price for this aid he would be the one paying it.
Probably in trade. And likely by bartering violence.
"Yes, sir. These 'inheritors' as you call them are a rival power group on the Isles, something Arachnos cannot and will not allow. Rather than start a war, the Lonely One... ummm, Kalinda... wishes me to..."
Another laugh, this one softer but no less inhuman or menacing. "Miss." And to prove it, the figure came just far enough to the edge of the room's shadows that one long, sleek leg extended into the dim, silver moonlight. Though Ravyn could not see anything else, the silhouette of the dark being was most definitely... feminine.
"My apologies, ma'am."
"How gallant." The voice had no inflection, leaving him unable to tell if she was mocking him or not. Given past experience, probably.
"Tell the Lonely One that I will aid you. You amuse me."
Yes, indeed. Mocking. Damn it.
"As you wish, miss. I will tell Kalinda that immediately, and thank..."
"Kalinda?" There was a touch of confusion in the otherwise heavy, breathy voice. "You think I mean the puppet over the puppeteer? How..." He could see the silhouette of the night-clad woman raise her hand to her lips, playing over unseen lips for a moment. "How delightful."
"What do you mean?"
The woman slipped back a little further into the darkness. "No, no. If this is her game, I will play it a little longer. Tell Kalinda I will aid you in removing a few key pawns from this sorcerous gambit." She had moved farther away but her voice now sounded considerably more feminine. Feminine and now very amused.
"If that is what you wish, it will be done. Anything else?" Again, he was rapidly stepping outside his comfort zone here. Lethane cuddles had felt safer; how sad was that?
The shadows purred. No other word accurately described that sound of pleasure. "Mmmm... such tempting offer. But I'm not supposed to poach, so run along for now."
Ravyn wasn't entirely sure why but that suggestion sounded extremely good right now. He bowed and turned away, intending to to exactly that - run. Before he could talk a single step, a strange fluttering sound caught his attention and stopped him cold.
Laying just at the edge of the cloister doorway, a bundle of black cloth was piled loosely as if dropped there. A strange dark silver amulet rested on top of the freefall - a brooch for what appeared to be a cloak. He looked from it to the shadows, barely making out the dim outline of the figure again. Whoever... or whatever... she was, she seemed considerably less dressed now.
"Take that with you, midnight paladin. You'll need it in the coming days."
He knelt, picking up the cloth, marvelling at how smooth and warm the strange garment felt in his hands. "My thanks, miss, but why will I need it?"
She was gone by the time he looked up to ask that question. The cloister was empty, the bell was now silent and the bats were once more perched all around him on the stones and beams of the forsaken church.
It felt now like it was time for him to go. He was no longer welcome here.
Ravyn didn't question the instinct. Clutching his bundle, the fallen hero dashed out of the defiled temple as fast as he could run. There was so much going here that made so sense, a daily occurrence for him these days.
Running he knew. Getting back to his base, his room; all that that he knew. Reporting in he knew and Kalinda he knew.
Or did he?