The sun greeted the city of Colthlan in a barrage of cold light, which illuminated and simultaneously polarized the hard, proud fortifications of the northern stronghold. The walls were built from a strange midnight black stone that seemed less like stone, and more like glass - smooth, reflective, and polished. The architecture had the elegance and curves that indicated that perhaps it had been designed, and even potentially built, with the help of the agudners somewhere in the distant past before relations between the two races vanished, or perhaps after the mass enslaving of the agudners in the east that ignited the conflict between the now subjugated east and the north. It was, in a word, imposing. The walls themselves were no shorter than forty feet in height, which kept the city itself from being seen from the outside. Behind the imposing, impregnable walls of the northern stronghold, lay the city itself, and the fortress that jutted into the cold, bitter sky. The roofs were steeply angled, reminiscent of those that were found in the Lyvank Mountains, where the snow fell in thick enough drifts to cave roofs in if allowed to accumulate. It gave a very triangular, exotic look to the dark fortress, which only made it more impressive and imposing in appearance.

            This was where the General ruled the north and the conquered territories with her ruthless, bloody iron fist. And for that simple reason, Fenicia was filled with a slight sense of foreboding as she entered into the shadow of the fortress, giving a small, sharp nod to the heavily armed guards, who nodded back respectfully and allowed her to pass. She stepped under the tall, sharply graceful arches of the entrance and into the torchlit inside, the firelight casting grotesquely dancing shadows throughout the hall. She stepped quietly through the grim hall unaccompanied, but undoubtedly watched by the elite guard hidden and obscured expertly by the shadows, watching the northern soldier quietly, in the impossibility that she decided to make an attempt on the General's life.

            The captain quietly paused at the grand, heavy metal door at the end of the hall. After a few seconds' pause, she reached out almost hesitantly, sucking in her breath in quiet apprehension to what lay ahead of her, to give a nervous, but firm knock on the door. How she had come to the notice of General Rain in the first place was nothing short of a mystery to her, and it was inconceivable as to why Rain had summoned her by name. She wasn't remarkable enough by any stretch of the imagination to have caught the general's attention - right?

            The doors rumbled slightly as they were slowly pulled open, swinging inward slowly. Fenicia quietly watched the sight, catching the first sight of the General's hall. It was as tall, spacious, and impressive as any cathedral, if not more so. The stained and colored glass filtered in the cold sunlight as various soft mosaics of color splashing across the floor. A pair of guards stood on either side of the doorway, standing straight and at attention. Their pikes were held upright in a rigid grip, as they stood, facing one another in a nearly unblinking stare. Fenicia passed between them, and they stiffened, their pikes pulled slightly more against their chests as they stood at the most rigid attention the captain had seen. She continued into the spacious hall, where the general was seated in an opulent seat, lounging quietly on the thick, soft cushions. A male agudner quietly brushed her fur, clearly taking pains to ensure the job was immaculate. When she had spotted Fenicia, Rain Silves gave a small smile, motioning with her hand for the agudner to pause his brushing, before she stood, her height dominating that of everyone else in the room at an impressive seven feet. Her fur was a dark blue on her back, her belly taking on a white color, the fur evidently thick, indicative of a northerner. She seemed neither to notice nor care the fact that she was devoid of any clothing whatsoever, simply allowing her fur to conceal her. "I am pleased to see you made it," Silves spoke quietly, the room carrying her voice with little effort needed.

            "Thank you, General," replied Fenicia, her nerves wracking her gut at this point, twisting her stomach into a knot of anxiety. Rain Silves was far more intimidating up close than she had pictured, the northern leader standing a full foot taller than her, looking quite literally down on her as she spoke.

            Silves nodded her head, her remarkably frightening gold eyes watching Fenicia intently. "I have heard much about you, Fenicia. I have heard you are one of the best warriors under my command, and that you are an ambitious, capable leader, and that your soldiers are some of the most highly skilled fighters this world has seen. That is most certainly worthy of a congratulation."

            Fenicia tried to keep a calm, neutral demeanor, but felt slightly disappointed inside. That was why she was brought here? To simply be congratulated? That couldn't be right, could it? Why would someone as busy as the General make such an effort to have her come here for something as simple as that?

            Before Fenicia had much time to ponder and wonder about this, the General continued speaking. "Of course, as you no doubt have guessed, that is not the reason - or more honestly, the sole reason - I brought you here." She took a pause, before she took up her seat again, beckoning with a word for Fenicia to come closer. Naturally, Fenicia didn't hesitate to follow those orders - to do so would be imprudent at best. The male agudner quietly resumed his brushing, to the visible satisfaction of the much taller northerner. "You see, I have also heard you are so successful because your intelligence is nothing short of immaculate, and I am in dire need of it."

            Fenicia quietly listened, nodding her head respectfully, as she heard the reasoning for her visit. So the truth comes out this quickly, she thought to herself quietly, musing over the implications of the timing and sheer straightforwardness the General was displaying. "Of course, General," she replied after the briefest of moments. "In what capacity is my intelligence gathering needed to serve you?" she asked, wording it ever so carefully to ensure that they could not be mistaken for disinterest in the mission.

            The general gave a grin in reply, the features of her face making her look as deranged and frightening as her reputation painted her to be, before she seemed to return back to normal. "I am tasking you to do a search and extraction for me. You are to find the individual that I specify, and bring him back here unharmed. Do you understand?"

            Fenicia quietly blinked in surprise at the nature of the orders. This was quite different than what she would have expected. Perhaps an assassination would have made more sense to her. She cocks her head a bit. "Yes, but might I ask why?"

            "Why is irrelevant and will only distract you from the mission. If you have no further questions, you are dismissed to await my word."

            Fenicia nodded and after a moment began to step away from the General.

            "If you kill the person I am ordering you to find, or allow him to die," the general said behind her, loud enough to be heard, "I will hang you by your insides on a pike myself. Am I clear?"

            Fenicia shivered a bit, a pang of fear rushing through her. However, she forced herself to nod sharply and reply, "Yes, General."

The End

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