As Alpha and Bravo flew through the catacombs, the temperature outside plummeted. Mala covered Felsted’s face and head with a Nirosk veil he carried with him for his own purposes. The veil, spun from Caldomede spiders’ silk, allowed the wearer, assuming their mind was adequately prepared and receptive, to see and even feel, the colour of a soul. A very helpful advantage when living the life of a blind pilgrim. From the outside, the veil made it impossible to see the face of its wearer.
The Nirosk, were held in such high regard for their power of prayer and meditation, that the Association of Eastern Caldomede Merchants had for centuries, awarded their patronage exclusively to the sect. Consequently, Nirosk pilgrims were revered throughout the Elvish kingdoms and left alone when they visited the sacred Citadel of Monikadia.
The punishment for harming them, or forcibly removing their veil, was hanging.
The only thing worse than removing their veil was impersonating them — this was equated to spying for the Lawcundali and would not simply result in hanging but would mean the perpetrator would be handed over to King Theobald’s Master Torturer – a mountain born, cave dwelling elf popularly known as Hagan the Monster, the only elf thought to be older than Felsted.
No living soul had ever seen Hagan’s face. Queen Didriana, King Thobald’s deceased mother, was the only one to have ever looked upon him and to not have been killed by him. She had personally asked him to serve her after her army had been prevented passing through Sessa Gorge by ‘a crazed monster,’ who had killed her ten champions — these occurrences happening long before Felsted’s service.
The Queen, herself not a Elven (female elf), to be told that she would have to make a detour, ordered her scouts take her into the Gorge to confront this ‘monster,’ dismissing their objections with a wave of her hand. Queen Didriana, who among many talents had the gift of voice — she could sing like an angel — walked into the pass singing an ancient warrior ode to the dead.
Quite why she did this remains a mystery and part of the legend around this meeting; but whatever strange enchantment Didriana carried in her voice captivated Hagan. For it was that day he left the caves of Sessa Gorge and…