Must Have Snacks (Dread pt.8)

Lady Ambermane stood out on the balcony over looking the forest that surrounded Autumn Hill. The leaves danced in the breeze flashing brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows. She could see the rooftops in Autumn Hill and several chimneys were already billowing smoke, lightly scented with bacon and sausage. Lady Ambermane deeply inhaled as she commanded the breeze towards her and a sudden wave of wind crashed onto the balcony. The delightful smell was making her hungry. A knock at the bedroom door startled her. She made her way inside gliding over the stone floor in her night clothes.

“Ah, good morning Johannes,” Lady Ambermane said coolly, barely peeking out from behind the door. “My first engagement of the day isn't scheduled till after lunch.”

“I know, my lady,” Johannes replied with a bow, “but Iliana has returned and I figured you would want to speak with her as soon as possible. Your breakfast should be on its way up.”

“Very good,” Lady Ambermane replied, “have Iliana wait in the sitting room for me and try to keep her away from her brother in the library. Carberos doesn't need to be antagonized this early in the morning.”

Johannes gave a quick bow and trotted off down the stairs. Lady Ambermane took a seat at her vanity to start getting ready for the day. Her auburn hair was still wrapped up in a head scarf and her eyes still sat sleepily in her skull. She rubbed her eyes with the back of her hands and pulled out a hand mirror to make sure all the sleep had been rubbed away.

She was shocked to see her face had a purplish-grey tint starting to come through and her bright amber eyes had yellow spots beginning to form in her irises. Lady Ambermane quickly put the hand mirror away and frantically began combing through her dresser drawers. Once she finally found the jar she was looking for, Lady Ambermane sat on the side of her large fourposter bed and shook out three teeth. She labored to keep herself from eating the whole jar. This supply was only for emergencies.

Lady Ambermane could feel her skin and eyes revert to their normal state once she swallowed the first two teeth. She rolled the third one around in her hand for a moment and contemplated if she needed another. There were still bits of gum attached to the molar, this added extra flavor in Lady Ambermane's mind. She decided to treat herself seeing as she was going to have to be civil with Iliana Winterborne. She tossed the tooth in her mouth and froze the second her taste buds made contact with it.

Visions of what someone else was seeing, or had seen, invaded her mind and she had to steady herself on the bed. It took a great deal of focus to try and make out what was going on. This phenomenon only occurred when she ate a piece of someone who is still alive. The vision was fuzzy and she could see two boys asleep on the ground under what appeared to be a yurt. The vision changed as the person moved closer to the boys and woke them up as the sun began breaking through the opening in the roof. Lady Ambermane could make out red and yellow leaves. This tooth was from someone who was out in the forest. She focused back on what was going on, whoever this was woke the boys up and convinced them to follow out the back of the yurt. One of them mouthed a question Lady Ambermane couldn't decipher and they all looked up to watch a strong breeze roll through the tree tops. Whatever was going on here had happened this morning. That was the same breeze Lady Ambermane had summoned to smell the breakfasts of the Autumn Hill residents. The vision turned suddenly and centered on a horse, then back to these boys. They seemed to be crying. Lady Ambermane tried her hardest to hear what was going on, but it seemed she would be stuck with pantomime and lip reading, which she was bad at.

She was close to being bored with this vision when the tooth owner pulled out a broken piece of mirror from their bag and looked into it. Lady Ambermane grew furious as she looked into the eyes of Adlana Winters, still free. Adlana then reached into her own mouth and tore out another tooth and dropped in onto the ground. The deserter's cure made it easy for her to do so. Her body was rotting from the inside.

Lady Ambermane spit the tooth out into her hand and set it down on the bedside table.

“She thinks this is funny,” Lady Ambermane growled to herself. “Messing with the balance is not a game.”

She quickly changed into a casual outfit of forest green linen pants and matching tunic before gracefully making her way down into the sitting room. She ran into a maid who was carrying her breakfast and took the tray of food from her and continued her descent. Iliana was eating her own breakfast by a window that overlooked a greener part of the forest.

“Did I wake you?,” Iliana laughed seeing Lady Ambermane's casual appearance. “I'm not used to such a relaxed look from you. The head wrap is a nice touch, makes you look human.”

Lady Ambermane rolled her eyes and sat down at the other end of the couch Iliana was sitting on and placed her own tray of food on her lap.

“Your report please,” she said glaring at Iliana.

“Nox is almost done with the wolf situation,” Iliana began, “she said there were two or three more left and she should be back in a couple weeks. I personally think she deserves a break afterwords since she's been out there for a couple months now. All of the summons flyers you had made were taken and I wasn't able to find any of the parties, so it would be safe to assume they have either been killed and collected or gave up. All the constructs have been destroyed so we are in the dark as far as surveillance goes, at least until more can be made. I didn't run into any of your personal hands so I have nothing to report about my dear aunt.”

“She's still out there,” Lady Ambermane sighed finishing her breakfast. “She seems to have found two men camping out in the forest which would mean that one of the bait parties is alive. My hands will take care of them and their bodies will be used for new constructs. As for Adlana, I have faith she will be dealt with soon and this wild goose chace can be put to rest.”

Iliana sat in silence. The two men Lady Ambermane mentioned could have been the brothers, but there was no mention of seeing Nox. What she found concerning was that if it really was the brothers, then Adlana was hiding near Nox's camp which would explain why the wendigo came despite Iliana hanging around. The scent of old bones would be very enticing to a starved beast.

“I may have an idea to where Adlana is and where she'll be heading,” Iliana finally said.

Lady Ambermane cocked an eyebrow inquisitively.

“And why would that matter? The bait party will bring her here and when they try to ask for a reward, the two men will be disposed of and our operation can resume,” Lady Ambermane said taking a sip of her tea. “The balance will be maintained.”

“If there are only two of them escorting her she could still get away,” Iliana replied.

“My hands will find them and keep watch from a distance. And I am sure if Nox were to come across the party she would make sure Adlana makes it here. You can go now.”

Lady Ambermane dismissed Iliana and left the sitting room to go get ready for her other meetings. Iliana sat on the couch and sighed. If Adlana makes it back and spills the truth of how she escaped, it wouldn't just be the throwaway mercenaries who lose their lives, it would be Iliana as well.