Thunder clapped loudly outside the keep. A blonde woman sitting at a small desk briefly looked up from the book she was reading. She had been intently reading an ancient tome on the properties of mandrakes. For a moment she wondered if the thunder was merely the weather or if her master was angered. Cymri was an advisor to Lord Aquilius, reigning Dark Mage of the Imber Mountains. The woman shuddered as she thought of her master’s mood. Not wishing to dwell on the issue, Cymri turned her attention back to her reading. Her mind attributed the thunder to a passing summer storm. For nearly thirty minutes she was engrossed in reading her book. Mandrakes have fascinating properties. When the clock struck midnight, Cymri closed the book she had been stuyding. With a small yawn she stood up and walked slowly over to an open window. Looking outside, the sky appeared fairly clear, the moon was bright & full and the start were shining. Cymri had no time to contemplate the matter, she rushed over to the door and opened it. Standing in the doorway was a scruffy, squint-eyed man. “Yer wanted by the master.” he spat out and immediately trod away down the hallway. Cymri sighed inwardly. She smoothed the skirt of her blue satin gown. Then she grabbed the gold chain around her waist that was attached to a small hand mirror. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, Cymri smoothed her long golden hair with her left hand. In a moment she was walking down the dimly lit hallway to her master’s throne room. After a short walk, Cymri entered Lord Aquilius’s opulent throne room. Pushing past the guards at the door, the small woman purposefully strode to the dais where master sat on his purple velvet throne. She curtsied deeply. When she arose, Cymri was careful to keep her eyes off Lord Aquilius’s disfigured face. “How may I serve you, my lord?” she asked in a servile tone that belied her true nature. “To start you can look at me and not the floor, Cym” Lord Aquilius commanded. Cymri obeyed still averting her focus from the jagged scar that married the left side of her master’s face. “I have an errand for you.” he said. “Whatever you wish of me, I will accomplish.” Cymri replied softly. “Excellent” he grinned. “It seems my wayward servant, Michel, has stolen the Star Emerald. You do know how important that is to me. Don’t you?” he querried. “Yes, my lord, I do.” Cymri responded. “But how does this involve me?” “Simple, Cym. I wish for you to quietly leave the castle, locate Michel, bring back both him and the Star Emerald.” Aquilius told her. “Wouldn’t one of your men be better…” Cymri began. But she was cut off. “No,” he said speaking louder. “I trust you to handle this matter completely & discretely.” He threw a bag of coins at Cymri’s feet. “Go now. Hire whatever help you need.” With a wave of his hand, Cymri knew she was dismissed. She curtsied, picked up the bag and hurried to her private chamber. In her room, Cymri changed into more practical clothing and bounder her long hair into a braid. Grabbing a grey cloak, she left the castle unnoticed. Cymri went to the stable to saddle her own brown mare. She wanted to make her way to a nearby tavern under the dark of night.