Whiteblossom Manor rose like a ghost out of the swirling snow flurries, its pale marble walls blending in with the winter landscape. If it had been spring or summer, the lane and carriage circle of Whiteblossom would have been resplendent with colorful and fragrant flowers, but now the shrubs were naught but skeletal black branches clawing out of a blue-white blanket of snow. Endolynn Arvast spurred her horse, Sandy, through the gates, riding up the lane to the carriage circle. A heavily cloaked hostler hurried from the stables to take hold of the reigns. "Oy mistress. Tis a fearsome day for being abroad!" The hostler was a young woman, who glanced up from the hood of her cloak. "It is indeed," Endolynn agreed, dismounting. "I have come to call on Lord Imardis. Is he here?" "Yes mistress, he is. Give a tug on the bell and Tarcelle will let you in," the hostler answered before leading Sandy away to the stables. Endolynn hurried up the steps and did as she was told, yanking on the bellpull to announce her presence. It did not take long for the polished mahogany door to be answered by a well-dressed woman with a tall, elegant face and waves of chestnut hair. She quickly ushered Endolynn in out of the cold. "Come in, come in. You look positively frigid. I am Tarcelle Maylia, steward of Whiteblossom Manor. Can I take your cloak?" the woman asked. Endolynn removed her cloak and passed it over. "Greetings milady. I am-" "Endolynn Arvast, reputed scholar of Magestar," Tarcelle answered for her, daintily folding up the garment. "We were aware you were visiting Skara Brae." At Endolynn's surprised reaction, Tarcelle explained, "Imardis employs several Fellows to make the rounds about Skara Brae and to keep him informed about what goes on with the Fellowship and with these lands in general. He prefers to keep abrest of all the news." "I confess I find it surprising I am news," Endolynn said. Tarcelle looked her up and down mischievously. "A lovely woman arriving in Skara Brae? That's the sort of news that would most pique Imardis's attention," she laughed. Endolynn blushed and tried to form a reply. She had heard the rumors that Imardis Slenderleaf enjoyed the company of women and surrounded himself with as many beauties as he could. Indeed, both the hostler and the steward were comely women. Endolynn finally stammered out, "Then-then perhaps my visit here was moot and my news is already known to him." Tarcelle shrugged. "I have heard no news and was not expecting you. When the weather turns sour, news travels slower, they say. Come, this way." Tarcelle led her through the manor house which was richly appointed. She was shown into a lush study with plush wine red carpet, tall cherrywood bookshelves, and a roaring fire in the hearth. "Please seat yourself and be comfortable," Tarcelle urged. "I will inform Imardis you are here." With that, she took her leave. Endolynn took a seat at the embrasure, staring out at the darkening landscape. She did not wait long, however. Imardis Slenderleaf came briskly into the room. He was a lean man and handsome, smartly attired in hues of wine and black. He was not tall, but he stood straight and proud. He was not bulky but his bare arms were well-corded. His jawline was pleasing to Endolynn's eyes and stubbled with a day's growth of beard which gave him a roguish and mischiveous look. His black eyes were arresting in their intensity, often hiding behind stray locks of his black hair. Endolynn was quite impressed with the Fellowlord of Whiteblossom Manor. "Lady Endolynn, a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I hope I did not keep you waiting long," Imardis said. Endolynn rose. "I had hardly any wait, your lordship. I hope I am not imposing upon you." He chuckled. "It is no imposition and please, call me Imardis. And please, sit." Imardis went to a cupboard and drew open the doors. Within were crystal carafes fillled with liquors, amber, brown, and burgundy. "Might I offer you a drink? Or I could send for wine or a spot of tea. I find however these concoctions to warm one from within on a cold day such as today." Imardis took up the brandy and exhibited it for Endolynn to which she nodded in answer. "Very good," he said, taking up two matching crystal glasses and filling them. "Now, how may I be of service to you?" he asked, handing her a glass. "Earlier this afternoon, I was meeting with scholars from other guilds. It was at this time that Brendan Bordell, the barkeep at the Shattered Skull approached me and told of a mysterious visitor who had left a message and curious instructions. As Brendan tells it, the message was to be left out in the open, a table reserved for this sole purpose. Brendan did not like the look of this man and so urged us to read the message. He said this man smacked of the dark arts." "Brendan has a keen eye, no doubt from his service to the Skirmishers of Skara Brae," Imardis commented. He took a sip of his brandy, then said, "So you read the message?" "Yes, I shared it with the other scholars," Endolynn answered, "scholars from the Rangers of Skara Brae and the Society of Ancestral Guardian Elders. It proved well, for it was a letter with dire contents. It was addressed to the Shadowlords and mentioned blackrock and payment. It also said something about being discovered and of fleeing to a lighthouse. It was signed with the name Rhenium." "Rhenium," Imardis echoed. "Is that not the name that was found in the expedition to to Dungeon Rock?" "Truly, milord? I had not been acquainted with the name until today," Endolynn said. "Yes, we sent an expedition to Dungeon Rock, a known Shadowlord haunt, hoping to disrupt whatever schemes they are concocting in the dark places of the world," Imardis explained. "We've grown tired of waiting for them to unleash horrors upon the world, horrors like the wars they waged against the Shrines of Love or attrocities like the destruction of Haven. So we thought we'd attack them instead. Lady Tarahalia was our representative. Are you familiar with her?" "I cannot say that I am, milord," Endolynn answered. "A fine young woman, much like yourself. There were others from the Society and Rangers among the expedition as well," Imardis explained. "It was another unified effort and it proved fruitful. A chest of containing nuggets of blackrock was recovered along with a message. Rhenium's name was on this message as well. I find it odd, however, that the letter should be left in the open." "Yes it is strange, milord," Endolynn agreed. "We've sent a party to seek this Rhenium at whatever lighthouse he has taken refuge in. Meanwhile, we intend to have the message watched and when the recipient for the messenger shows, to have them seized and questioned. I come to you for aid in this." Imardis nodded. "Yes of course, an excellent plan. I will pay the wages for the duty and will ask that Tarcelle recruit the Fellows necessary to man the watch. With the Shadowlords involved, there is no small measure of danger." "The Rangers and Society will be watching as well, milord," Endolynn pointed out. "It is watched even now." "Excellent! Now let us go find Tarcelle without delay. This matter is of the utmost importance."