A gleaming black spider crawled cautiously across the window sill, pausing to inspect the pale obstacle of Morgynn's still hand. It reached out tentatively with its forelegs, tapping her skin lightly, testing the surface before continuing its slow progression. A short jump brought it to land on the knuckle of her index finger. Several black eyes glittered as it inspected this new terrain, searching for food. She did not notice the intrusion, lost in thought, miles away from the tower she stood in and the battle she awaited that danced in the scrying bowl. The world in the bowl swirled and rippled, still displaying her last viewing despite her lack of concentration.
Goorgian, who'd crafted the scrying bowl, was a mysterious figure in Nar's past, thanks in large part to such magic. Never leaving his fortress, he'd been able to send his magic across great distances. He preferred to watch the world pass him by, even up to that moment when the armies of Raumathar had come marching across the horizon. The spider crawled cautiously, feeling the surface of her skin grow warm as an unseen current flowed beneath its feet. Her pulse quickened and still she did not move, but the spider grew agitated as its new perch twitched. Feeling threatened, its fangs glistened with venom and its rose on its hind legs in a defensive posture, turning in tight circles. Slowly the spider's world calmed, the soft ground it stood upon grew still and cooled. "Peskhas," Morgynn whispered, and the spider's body stiffened and instantly turned to ash. With a quick puff of breath, it crumbled and blew away, joining the dust on the floor.
She turned and found Khaemil still guarding the doorway, though his eyes were closed and his lips whispered silent prayers. She did not begrudge his loyalty to Gargauth, but it annoyed her nonetheless. She was not accustomed to placing her faith in the gods or anything else except herself and the magic. Her servants' worship and granted powers were tools to her, nothing more. Walking back to the reddened waters of the wooden bowl, she gazed into the black mirror at the bottom.
"Ravahlas su geska," she muttered, and watched the liquid's surface boil and waver, casting shadows upon the mirror below. It pulsed in tune to her heartbeat, sensing her will and forming images to satisfy what she desired. The scene changed and the silhouette of Brookhollow's walls coalesced, tinged in the crimson of the blooded water. Narrowing her eyes, the walls loomed into view, pulling near to the gates her forces would soon push through to gut the city. She bared her teeth as she noticed tiny figures moving along the crude battlements, carrying bows and spears. She searched their ranks, focusing on faces that were blind to her spying eyes. Those faces were set in determination-and some fear, she noted with slight satisfaction. "Fear drives them to stand and fight, regardless of faith," she whispered. "I underestimated their instinct for survival."
Viewing their numbers for a few moments more, she leaned back and smiled despite her irritation. Khaemil had ceased his meditations and turned to watch her as she spread her hands over the bowl, creating ripples in the water's surface with her fingertips. Her eyes, sparkling with cruelty, met his steady gaze. "Their warriors stand against us to defend the city," she said and he stood straighter, hefting his mace as if the battle were merely yards away. "Worry not, dear one. Their oracle witches do not stand with them." He eased his stance but stepped closer, watching as the bowl began to glow with a red light. Morgynn lifted the carved box of bone that contained the secrets of her plague. She dispelled the seal on its lid and gently took the yellowed scrolls from within, tracing her thumbs over the arcane letters and symbols written on the parchments. Leafing carefully through the brittle pages, she pulled one free and sighed in anticipation. Blood flooded to her fingertips, attracted to the magic that tingled along her arms in the scroll's presence. Her eyes became deep crimson orbs as she summoned the spell to her lips. The scene in the bowl changed again. Gone were Brookhollow's walls, replaced by the marbled floors of the Hidden Circle's sanctuary. She smiled. No god interrupted her view of the sanctuary, no divine protection repelled her power. The image grew darker, the distorted and nightmarish forms of several figures moved in and out of view. "The oracles will not act against their god's wishes," she said, slightly amused while choosing from among the shifting silhouettes. Her voice hollowed and hummed with power. "I will make sure they do not."