Distracting Decisions Three figures emerged from the darkness, displacing the stagnant air that had long ago settled in the catacombs. Their sudden entrance was unmarked by the usual din of sound and light that accompanies teleportation – unlike the haughty mages of humans and elves they were not bound by tradition, circle, or spell. Indeed, they defied physical existence, or perhaps even transcended it. Under their hooded visage lay burning coals instead of eyes. Billowing cloaks tossed by an unseen wind held nothingness, yet a nothingness that filled and defined them. They resembled mankind only because from man’s heart was born the darkness they embodied. They were the antithesis of Virtue, the despoilers of Lord British’s legacy. The Shadowlords. “The search continues.” The voice was female, soft and alluring, subtle. Any mortal might be ensnared by such a siren voice, lured to do the bidding of Fear and Betrayal incarnate. She was Nosfentor, the Shadowlord of Cowardice. “It must be found.” A second voice, this time male, had rejoined her brief statement. The words seeped through the air on hidden currents, circling and twisting amongst each other; convincing words, sincere words. He was Faulinei, the Shadowlord of Falsehood. “Yes.” The third and final of the three spoke. The terse response penetrated the depths of the catacombs like steel, carried onward without echo and then lost. He was Astaroth, the Shadowlord of Hatred. Nosfentor stretched forth her voice again, motioning as she did so. Beneath her Sosaria appeared, like a map being unrolled upon a table. “We are interfered with.” She pointed to the capital city of Britain and a glow overtook the slumbering town. “There.” The other two regarded the pinprick of light below. “Yet our servants have performed… adequately,” began Faulinei. “Have they?” Astaroth interrupted, daring the other two to contradict. The Eight Cities of Virtue had been besieged, their peoples slaughtered, the barriers between Felucca and Trammel weakened – Trammel itself invaded, then lost and sealed off again. This had been foreseen, as the Shadowlords were not prepared to begin their dark work in earnest until the last artifact binding their powers was found. Yet their search had been in vain, none of the cities had held it, and so their methods changed. “Britannia, old and new alike, is all but ours,” replied Faulinei. “What of the rest?” “There are too many… complications,” Nosfentor replied quietly; a hint of complaint. “Agreed,” the others replied. For a time they regarded the world below. “Let us distract them. That our agents become free to pursue their tasks, and end this interference.” “It must be something small, lest our hand is discovered early.” “Let me, then.” This time it was Faulinei who reached out, speaking into the mind of his chosen servant, commanding him to make… arrangements.