Kallia wasn't asleep. She'd gladly, maybe desperately, participated in the revelry but she couldn't fall asleep afterwards and had lain on the overstuffed chair under the blanket. It had once been upholstered in fine satin, though it was, like much of everything else in Vergence, a more than a little worn.
So she saw her friend—-she hoped Terhali was her friend but had to confess she wasn’t sure—-standing on the balcony. She was staring into the empty, dark sky, and the cold mist was rolling through the streets. Kallia pulled the blanket close around herself and walked over to the curtain. Her breath came in the mist. Terhali was standing naked on the balcony, her back to Kallia. Kallia could see the elf standing, stock still and seemingly oblivious to the cold. A slight radiance seemed to emanate from her and Kallia could swear she could see the broken balcony railthrough her for a moment.
Kallia had met Terhali earlier in the day. Ever since Lord Caudrian had died in the battle with the kraggen in Vergence, she'd been slowly decending from the heights of a Lord's betrothed to… well she wasn't sure because there didn't seem to be a bottom floor. She'd sold the jewels she'd gotten from him, but Caudrian's remaining men had made off with a lot and she knew her time was limited before everything was gone. Her family simply wasn't important enough and besides it wasn't even clear whether her father was still alive. And what difference did it make because he was in Vastia anyway? She'd come to Vergence with Caudrian and now she had no way of getting back to Vastia.
She'd been looking for a new place to live after Caudrian's townhouse was confiscated for refugees and all her servants had left. But she'd gotten lost in a bad part of town, assuming any part of town except the Emperor's palace or the Oathsworn barracks could be said to be good these days. And she'd run into slavers. She'd done her best to run, but they had a wide-mawed war hound, and there were many, a half dozen at least, and besides, they were experienced at preying on such as her. Soon they had her driven into a cul-de-sac.
She'd found herself in the circle of them, her dress ripped as the Lumerian devil-blooded sergeant leading them tore it and nearly threw her towards the waiting rough hands of two of his men. "You're going to fetch a good price, bitch, but first we'll gentle you down.” He laughed. “Luigi, Umberto, you’ll get your turn… hold her!"
Terhali appeared suddenly out of the mist. Kallia knew who Terhali was. She'd been at the Emperor’s Palace with Caudrian when Terhali was there and Kallia had witnessed it. She'd also been in Vastia when Smergway was overthrown and the Emperor brought justice, and knew the elf woman dressed in motley who'd mocked Smergway and killed his men left and right with a blade from the shadows, with the Emperor himself. The last she'd heard, Terhali was dead, fallen in yet another of the titanic battles that seemed to be the fate of all now, but evidenty that was mistaken.
Suddenly, for a third time, Terhali appeared out of the mists in the middle of the Lumerians, dressed in funeral garb and decorated with the Raven. They were simply too stunned to react. Terhali calmly walked through the line to the Lumerian sergeant. He stared, looking more like a landed fish than a veteran turned slaver. Terhali reached up and calmly plucked his left eye from its socket while a ghostly, mutilated great cat leapt out of the sky and savaged the wardog.
Kallia knew a good chance when she saw it and took the opportunity to slip from Luigi’s rough hands after bringing her heel down on the top of his, hard.
Kallia had hidden and watched as Terhali methodically and passionlessly slaughtered the remaining slavers with her bare hands as the great cat ran down any that moved to escape.
So she’d found herself with Terhali, who had few words for her, and seemed to be looking for something. She spoke in elven, a language that Kallia knew a few words in but she didn't understand what Terhali was saying. At this point Kallia didn't know where she was in Vergence or even have a place to be, and this was as good as any place, and so she'd followed.
As she thought about it, staring at her friend on the balcony, Kallia realized that, more than herself, Terhali needed taking care of, and that she, Kallia d'Este, youngest daughter of Lord Antoni d'Este, once the betrothed of dead Lord Caudrian Agostino, and thus nobody at all anymore, was the one to do it.