She had served the House Sordheim before, however briefly. Alchemical supplies during the mysterious illness of the Countess, may the divines rest her soul - her business had been nearby at the time, and the exchanges were quite lucrative. She recalled the former Count of Blightwatch as a formal man, and she could have painted his features from memory even now. They were such drawn and weathered features, and his eyes had always left her leery. They were hungry eyes, agleam with a hint of malevolence.
Ah, yes, she had seen such eyes many times.
That was ten years ago, and she’d long since left the woebegone County for greener shores. In truth, she’d never intended on a return. She was mobile by trade and by choice, and the very inclination of setting down roots, even well past her thirtieth year of life, was troublesome. There were things she preferred left scrounging around by her flitting from place to place. There was too much she feared might catch up with her if she stood still for too long.
Yet she couldn’t turn down this invitation. She had heard of the misfortune which had befallen the House Sordheim: a series of dreadful tragedies exacerbated, no doubt, by the insidious rumors brewed in the courts. The title and land had fallen to the son now, the heir. She’d never met Malark Sordheim himself. As she recalled it, he’d been off studying somewhere during her liaisons with his parents. They must have recorded their transactions somewhere, because he remembered her regardless, and had written to her requesting her aid in the medical treatment of one of his servants.
That was how she found herself thus: on a long and winding road through the craggy planes of Blightwatch, the oppressively grey sky looming low overhead and the horizon spotted not by stars but by the occasional flickering half-light of torches. Villages were sparse. People were sparser. She passed a fellow traveler now and then, and she imagined she was giving them the same look they gave her - a sort of muted bewilderment, as though wondering why and how this other had found themselves on this lonely road.
She was never aggressed. That surprised her. She prepared for it, because tales of how infested Blightwatch was with crime were well circulated, even far from Highrock. Rivenspire in and of itself was not a cheery place, but this County in particular bore the taste of something tainted. Something haunted.
When finally she came upon Schloss Sordheim, looming beyond a gate hanging ajar, she hesitated. It looked abandoned. Half of the structure had caved in, and the rare light of the moon highlighted the rubble which had never been cleared away. It was derelict, a remnant of a bygone era passed down to a man who had given up.
No, she thought. It is unwise to make such assumptions.
She dismounted her horse. It was spooked already, and she had to keep that creeping feeling from crawling under her own skin. It was an old gelding, a well broken and reliable thing, and she didn’t bother tying it off. Besides, in the event that some pack of wolves came roaming towards it while she ventured into the castle, she preferred to give the beast a fighting chance to run away.
A final pat to its neck, and she strode forward. In spite of the unwelcoming atmosphere that Schloss Sordheim projected, she was bolstered by the fact that she had been there before. She bore with her the letter of invitation from the Count himself, assuring that she was welcome, assuring that she had been summoned.
She reached the great oaken doors and grasped the knocker, slamming it home three times.
Minutes ticked by, and when no answer came and no butler arrived to show her through, Evirea Velacel pushed against that unlocked door, and disappeared inside.