“I’m not going to talk to her,” insisted Darvinia, Enchantress of the Cursed Forest.
Punmurr, Warlady of the Blood Keep sighed and looked out at the jagged landscape below The Pernicious Donjon. The common wisdom was that such a hostile environment would break any army that had the foolish notion to lay siege to this fortress of darkness. That was a solid theory if your troop cared about discomfort or needed to eat. The vast undead host below was immune to such concerns.
“I know that you and your sister don’t always get along-”
“HA!” interrupted Darvinia.
“-but she has asked for a parley,” finished the Warlady.
“With an army at our doorstep?”
“She says, she is here to offer aid to us.”
“That’s a lie.”
“I mean, it might be,” said Punmurr, “On the other hand, it could be the solution to our staffing issues.
“Do you really want to trust her to protect us?”
“We need troops, and let’s face it, we don’t have a lot of options. Our offer to the Troll-Lands did not end well.”
“Who needs them?” snipped Darvinia.
Silence stopped by for a brief, awkward visit.
“Listen, we’ve all been real patient with you. Family can’t be a pain in the ass, you’ve met my brothers so you know I’m speaking from experience.”
“I know bu-”
“I’m not done, Madame Chairlady. The fact is, we are screwed. We need troops and the Goblin gravy boat is empty. They are allied now with the Adventures Guild, two groups who have zero amount of affection for us. If they decide to destroy the Society of the Night, it’s over.”
“This will end VERY, VERY badly! My sister is not a stable necromancer!”
“None of them are! They play with dead things, it’s baked into that lifestyle. We need you to play nice, get a good deal for her undead troops, and pretend to have a healthy sisterly bond so that happens.”
“I’m the Chairlady of this cabal of evil and I say no. That is final!”
Punmurr took Darvinia gently by the shoulders and looked her in the eyes. She had to look down as she was a good foot taller than the Chairlady. The Warlady hated to look down because she felt as though it was an unflattering angle for her, and she did it because she wanted to get across the seriousness of what she would say next.
“If you refuse to treat with your sister and gain our security, the other members of the Low Council will vote you out of office and do it anyway.”
Darvinia was about to speak when Punmurr shook her head.
“If that isn’t enough to convince you, they will offer you up to Exhaultia as a gesture of goodwill. We do not want to do that, because it’s a given that you will not go down without a fight. Ultimately, this will weaken the Society of the Night, and I have to believe that is not what you want.”
“Are you serious?” sputtered Darvinia.
The Warlady presented a scroll with a no-confidence vote, the only seal missing was Punmurr’s.
“Look at it this way. Get this done, and you’ll be an icon to the Fell community for eons to come.”
Darvinia’s shoulders slumped and she said, “Fine… I’ll do it. But I hate you all.”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Dressing in her finest gown, woven from the living gold-leaf plant, Darvinia exited the Pernicious Donjon and rode a wave of bright red vines to the elaborate bone tent Exhaultia had set up. She was ushered in by a skeletal servant to a cozy meeting area. If can call a room furnished entirely out of bones cozy.
“Sister!” declared the necromancer.
They air-kissed, as was their want.
“This is all very… Impressive,” said Darvinia.
“Praise from the leader of the Society of the Night! You flatter me.”
“Please, let us talk as family. That is what we are, after all.”
“Of course we are!”
“I can see you’ve done quite well for yourself.”
“It seemed to me, that at our last chitchat, that I didn’t express myself as well as I wished to. So I thought to myself, ‘how can I make my wishes clear?’ Then it came to me, a practical demonstration might just do the trick.”
“You have made quite the impression.”
“Why thank you!”
Just then, the skeletal servant places a delicate tea service in front of the sisters. It looked to be made of bird bones.
“While I’d love to while away the hours catching up with you, as Chairlady, I am compelled to discuss terms with you. For your service to the Society.”
“Business before pleasure, I suppose.”
Darvinia shrugged in a what are you going to do way.
“Well, for providing troops for all Society membership, is going to cost a grand total of nothing,” the necromancer said with a smile.
“If the darkness doesn’t stick together, the light will prevail.”
“So you want no gold? No treasure? No magical artifacts?”
Exhaultia laughed. It was not a comforting laugh.
“No, I’m not doing this for baubles! I just want to help.”
Darvinia looked at her sister’s face. She seemed sincere.
“If that is true-” began Darvinia
“-it is!” interjected Exhaultia.
“Then it seems we have an accord.”
“We must celebrate!”
A chilled bottle of wine in a bucket with Gnomish skeletal legs trotted in and Exhaultia poured them each a glass. They were about to toast when the necromancer paused.
“Before we seal this, there is one little thing I would love.”
“And what is that?” Darvinia asked as she stifled all her instincts.
Leaning in, Exhaultia whispered into her sister’s ear.
It was then, that the real trouble began.