Voss read over the letter again, his hand shaking with rage!
If you ever wish to see Lady Faucramois alive again, you will provide us with the location of the shoals. You have two days.
It was preposterous! Of course the Tairens had resorted to some underhanded tactics in the past, but this was a new low. Kidnapping the aging and much beloved matriarch of the House of Faucramois? This could not go unpunished.
Later that day, Voss held the letter in his hand, waving it for the assembled Winged Guards to see. "This is what the Stone now stoops to, but today we show them the ferocity of the Mayene. We will swoop down on their fetid swamp of a city like the hawks that emblazon our cloaks!' He looked each member of the team in the eye. Every one was a trusted friend, and a deadly warrior. Naomi, Dennel, Vdayr, Brandor, Danei, Leiya, and Theq--together they would make the Tairens pay for their villainy.
They marched across the drowned lands to the gates of Tear. Inside, a lone Defender fled from the fearsome force. Naomi scouted ahead, while the rest of the crew swept into the city to confront Sheldan himself. He called for backup, and it came, but even a dozen defenders were no match for the combined strength of the Winged Guard on a mission. Fighting back to back, the corpses piled up around them, until finally Sheldan O'Shae fell on top of the pile.
Voss held up the scalp of the fallen thug. "We will make an example of this villain, and mount his head atop the battlements of the Stone itself! But first we find Lady Faucramois." All the crew nodded grimly. They knew that to invade the Stone was to court death, but not a woman or man among them was afraid. Again and again they were forced back from the gate of the Stone, before finally slaying the gatekeeper. Even the Elite Assassins were no match for the assembled band. Twice groups of soldiers attacked them, and even the servants fought. The stairway rang with the sounds of battle. As the final officer collapsed ready to draw his last breath, Voss lifted the mans chin. "We are here for Lady Faucramois. Where is she?" The officer glared then tried to spit, but his breath failed. Letting the now lifeless form fall to the stones, Voss nodded to his companions. "Search every door. We leave with her, or we die here." Locked doors were picked or smashed in, and time and again the band was beset, but finally they came to a tall door clearly meant to house a Lord. It was impossible to pick, so together they charged, splintering the wood as they burst into the room. Lady Faucramois was tied to a chair near the window. Her eyes grew wide when as she recognized the colors of her beloved city. The men bowed in respect while the women quickly untied the matriarch. Lady Naomi said, "It is time we got you back home. But there is one thing we must do first."
Every sword, dagger and club was bloody by the time they reached the top of the Stone. Voss planted Sheldan O'Shae's head atop the battlement. "The Stone may still stand, but today justice was served, and the banner of the First flies above it!"
Shouts rang out as the bloodied band came within sight of the walls of Mayene. As they entered the city gates, servants from House Faucramois rushed to see to the needs of their mistress, but she waved them off. She whispered something to one of the servants, who nodded and dashed off. Then the stately Lady turned to face the battle-weary rescuers. "You are an honor to the First, and to Mayene, and I thank you from the depths of my heart. This may be a new low for Tear, but you have shown them that the Winged Guard will not stand for their oppression." She nodded to the servant who came running back with a chest in his arms. "Please accept these tokens of my thanks for risking your lives to save mine." Opening the chest, she pulled out 6 silver cuffs adorned with jewels set in the shape of a crimson hawk. She handed one to each member of the rescue party. "The crimson hawk is the symbol of House Faucramois. No gift can express my gratitude, but let this remind you of what you have done today." As Lord Dennel received his gift, he whispered something to Lady Faucramois. She smiled as she turned toward Voss. "Lord Dennel informs me that you are in need of a new name, and I am in need of a strong presence in our House. Perhaps an adoption could serve us both well." Voss's jaw dropped, but no words came out of his open mouth, then he smiled and choked out, "I would be honored!" Lady Faucramois returned a wry smile of her own. I will have the official papers drawn up. But for now. all are invited to dine with me tonight...after I have a chance to freshen up. I need a good bath to wash the stink of that city from me!"