Her commanding violet eyes stared down at the figure slumped piteously in a high-backed armchair, her tongue clicking with impatience. “You should be celebrating Viktor.” Viktor Cotume’s eyes remained fixated on the cobblestone floor as he fingered the delicate craftsmanship of a luminous new sash sported over his dark tunic. “I know…. But… did we really need to condemn him, Aezriana?” Her booted heels impacted heavily on the uneven floor as she quickly covered the distance between them and placed a pallid hand to the side of his gaunt face. “Look at me,” she breathed gently, her icy fingertips caressing his unshaven cheek as his sunken grey orbs rose to meet hers. A vicious slap landed mercilessly upon his left cheek, his weather-worn skin splitting under the sheer force of the blow. “You repulse me, Cotume!” she spat angrily “Our plans are fast coming to fruition and you sit here, wallowing in self-pity!” “But Ellis… The Council is going to arrest him for trea…” “Silence!” Aezriana hissed, raising her hand threateningly “It was a necessary ploy… and it worked did it not? Or am I mistaken in seeing ‘Commander’ printed upon that sash?” Viktor’s gloved fingers resumed their idle toying of his glossy sash as Aezriana considered him with a bemused expression. “Duffield sided with the enemy; he condemned himself without your aid! And after such actions of course Casca would reward you for your unyielding fealty and obedience!” Viktor nodded, a small smile finally working its way across his thin lips. “You are right my dear, I cannot blame myself… I have been promoted, we have the genie statuette… this truly is a time for reveling,” Viktor made a move to get to his feet but a booted heel pressed firmly against his chest, forcing him to remain seated. Aezriana leaned in closely, grazing her lips with his and trailing her cold fingers across his armoured chest, pausing briefly to stroke his sash before bringing them to rest upon his thigh. “I understand Viktor… Oh how I pity humanity, how difficult it must be… being a slave to your conscience,” Heavy footfalls echoed in the room beyond announcing the impending arrival of… “Lucy!” Viktor yelped, hastily pushing Aezriana away and clambering to his feet. A fleeting devious smirk flashed across Aezriana’s lips as she dematerialized into the shadows just as the old ash door creaked open ajar. “V…Viktor?” came Lucy’s timid voice as her pretty face peeked around the heavy door. “I… I heard voices,” Viktor seized the door and pulled it forcefully from Lucy’s grasp “You heard wrong,” he snapped as the door slammed shut inches from the young Herald’s tear streaked face.