Stepping into her chambers, Mnemon sighed heavily, shaking her head. Crossing to her dressing-table, she sat in the chair before it for a few moments, eyes watching the mirror in front of her absently, steepling her fingers as she considered the situations laid out before her. For all that it was useful to have some skilled people on her council, it was also tiring.
There was the faintest whisper of sound to her left. A part of her mind categorized it, considered it for potential threat, and then set it aside. â€œI assume you were listening in?â€
â€œAlways.â€ Perfected Tears Upon Alabaster Sorrow melted from the shadows, unsurprised that he had been heard. â€œThey might have coordinated their actions with your Abyssals.â€ He paused when Mnemon failed to react, and shrugged. â€œNothing? Not even an annoyed glance?â€
â€œYou already know why I haven't told them about my forces. You've seen how they balk at alliance with the Celestials, or worse yet, with demons. If they knew that I had trafficked with a deathlord, and before the current crisis began...â€ Mnemon trailed off, and shrugged. â€œAt best, my reign would not survive the end of this war. At worst, it would not survive another second.â€
â€œI suppose. So it's the same old, then.â€ Sorrow dropped onto one of the long couches laid around the sides of the room, looking thoughtful. â€œNo more progress on cracking the things open, I suppose?â€
That earned him a look of ire. When Mnemon had first seized the Monstrances, she had assumed that controlling them would also allow her to select new Abyssal soldiers. After the sacrifice of a few expendable minions, she had quickly realized that this was not the case; necromancy of the highest level seemed to be required to actually open a Monstrance, and she didn't have access to it. She controlled a few Abyssals who did, but she didn't trust them with that kind of access, and so she was stuck with just under three dozen servants, many of whom resented her at best and loathed her at worst. It was a snake pit that made the Dynasty seem like feuding children, and a part of her loved the challenge. A much larger part of her would have foregone it in a heartbeat if it meant another forty Celestial Exalts on her side.
After a moment, she shook her head. â€œI don't think that's a solveable problem. I have found some references to artifacts that might grant me access to necromancy, but nowhere near on the level I would need to use the Monstrances to Exalt servants. No, I think we will simply have to make do.â€
â€œCould be worse, then. Having nine squads of high-power saboteurs doesn't hurt.â€ Smiling faintly, Sorrow leaned back against the divan. â€œAnything else new?â€
â€œPerhaps.â€ Mnemon glanced over at him. â€œI presume you heard about the pirate raids along the northwestern shore?â€
â€œMm.â€ Craning his neck, Sorrow sat back up. â€œFormer servants of the Bodhissatva, weren't they? Didn't seem that important compared to everything else.â€
â€œNormally, I would agree.â€ Mnemon held out a hand, with two rolled-up scrolls. Standing, Sorrow walked over and took them. As he unrolled them, she continued. â€œThe first is a list of their targets.â€
â€œAnd the second?â€ As he spoke, Sorrow began comparing the lists.
â€œLocations of the dragon lines that feed the Imperial Manse.â€
Sorrow lowered the scroll to stare at Mnemon. â€œHow could they possibly know that?â€
â€œThe Bodhissatva appears to have been connected to the Manse in life; he was a member of the Circle that commanded it. He knows more about it than I am comfortable with.â€ Mnemon shook her head. â€œAs near as I can tell, he was trying to find a way to avoid its wards and take control of it.â€
â€œI can imagine.â€ Sorrow sat back down, looking at the scrolls thoughtfully. â€œThe Manse would be a marvelous weapon against Creation.â€
â€œNot particularly.â€ When Sorrow looked up again in surprise, Mnemon smiled. â€œYou will never be a true occultist, Sorrow. The Manse draws its power from elemental dragon lines. Firing it at Creation only strengthens the fabric of the world. And it wouldn't be of great use as a weapon against us, because he would have two shots at most before Gaia's minions could disable it. No, I think he was planning on triggering it to self-destruct. He could have destroyed the Imperial City and thrown the Realm into chaos.â€ She laughed bitterly. â€œOf course, we've since managed that on our own. My worry now is that his servants know the dragon lines, and are trying to choke them with shadowlands.â€
â€œAh.â€ Sorrow compared the scrolls, and then nodded. â€œI suppose it makes sense. Keep it out of anyone's hands. Wasted effort, though. I can't imagine the wards on the Manse would let the Empress in, and we don't...â€ He trailed off, his eyes narrowing, and he looked over at Mnemon. She looked back innocently. â€œYou've found a way in?â€
Mnemon smiled. â€œNot quite. But combining the Silver Prince's information with what I've gathered from my mother's works, I think I'll be ready within a few months.â€
â€œGods above and below.â€ Sorrow stared in surprise, his expression shocked out of its usual blandness. Then, after a moment, its usual shape returned. â€œWell, that should be something to see. I only regret that I won't be able to attend.â€ When Mnemon didn't respond, he frowned, and added, â€œBecause of my own death-taint. Right?â€
Mnemon only smiled.