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CURDLED & CHEERLESS

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Glowering down at the village below, Murky Manor seems to hunch across the hill like a bird of prey about its dinner. Bats swarm and swoop in the dark which presses in on every side. Dead trees scratch at the night sky as a bitter wind sweeps the untended gardens and frets the creaking gate which marks its boundary. Upon the grounds, cloaks billow as countless Occultists wander solemnly, the inverted crescent on their hoods glowing faintly in the dark light. From a topmost window, Countess Issadora Curdle looks out across her domain, a small smile lighting her features. The attic room in which she stands is covered with various newspaper clippings, witness statements, Magus Elite investigative paperwork and indeed scrolls from the High Coven itself. Issadora mutters a few words over her glowing, bulbous staff and it glows briefly, sending out a shimmering light which enchants all the documents, sending lines of various colours through them, connecting them. Everything she has collected links together, except a patch in the middle. Her smile broadens as she picks up a parchment from the nearby table. It’s a witness statement signed magically by one of the Magus Elite; Plusim the Alchemist.

Issadora approaches a patch devoid of purple linking lines and flicks her finger. Plusim’s statement flies stiffly from her hand and into pride of place. The purple lines crawl together and as they finally meet, a flash ripples through all the connections. The various papers rustle and straighten themselves self-importantly. ‘At last!’ Issadora exclaims as her eyes greedily scour the various proofs of misdeeds, hushed would-be scandals and corruption.

She bursts from the attic and scurries down the stairs, her skirts whirling. Stepping lightly through the darkened house, she makes her way hurriedly, excitement radiating from her. She checks one room after another, surging through doorways and seeing time and again, no one is there. Undeterred, Issadora checks yet more rooms looking for an Occultist with whom to share the good news but they, like the others, are empty. She is utterly alone. The smiling victory which had lit up her face slides away.

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