Using what information she'd gleaned from her still-warm kill, Elizabeth mounted her trusty black stallion, Tenebrous, and rode off into the midnight air. She kept calculating and assessing potential situations upon running into the caravan she had targeted. Her employers called her a fool for taking it all on herself, citing that it had an armed Hylian escort. Said escort was now short one scout, who was barely a challenge to the infamous Black Betty.
She was hoping beyond hope that they were still in camp for the night. To be able to get the drop on such a prize with defenses down would excite her. Defenseless targets were more fun, even though they were less of a challenge to her skills.
As light began to break through the clouds and pierce night sky turning to the beauty of dawn, Elizabeth saw guards and merchants saddling horses and preparing wagons. Her riding cloak was jet black, drawn full, and obstructing her face. They were watchful and cautious, just like she had anticipated.
Toy with their fate. Give them a chance to surrender. Then water the grass with their vitae.
Elizabeth was seen by the Hylian escort, who drew their weapons at the sight of a dark-cloaked rider on a horse just as deeply shaded. There was no subtlety in her criminal ways. The only thing keeping her from being overrun by the law was the fact that they were never able to tail her back to any of her safe houses or the desert. She never left survivors, and prisoners she took were always brutally slain. Some were even offered as sacrifices to her dark masters, so the rumors had said.
"Of all the jobs we get and she has to raid our caravan! Men, to arms! Now is our chance!"
Four moderately armored knights formed a line, attempting to dismount her from Tenebrous. She drew her Apocrypha, a longsword coated in onyx ichor. It bore a red sigil at the crossguard resembling an inverted insignia of Din; that was the only part of the blade that let any light glimmer. Its magical properties were sealed, and Elizabeth believed that feeding it enough blood would eventually awaken its power. Once it had slain one hundred thousand in the name of her Lords. Then she would know true power.
Trampling two of them under hoof, Elizabeth severed the sword arm from another and rode around for another pass. Some of the merchants grabbed spears, though they stood no chance. Rearing up on her steed, she threw her hood back and taunted them, pulling out of her charge.
"If you give me what I want, the bloodshed ends. It's your choice, though it seems you've already committed. Is my bounty really worth that risk, gentlemen?"
One of the merchants retorted. "Someday you'll get yours. You're a traitor to your own people! It would be treason not to try to stop you."
The guards turned and looked at him, sighing. "She never lets anyone live and you spoke for all of us? We had a chance. All we're going to do today is raise her bounty."
Elizabeth laughed playfully, flicking a loose lock of hair behind her left ear.
"The knights are right, you insignificant, ware-peddling worms! Your lives are forfeit. Fall before me and I can promise a quickened passing."
Dismounting from her horse in a graceful fashion, she approached them quickly with both blades drawn. And she proceeded to dance through them, effortlessly taking all nine lives in the caravan. For one wagon's worth of goods. Her victims were arranged in profane and intimidating fashion, with heads on pikes as well as severed limbs and innards strewn about what was left of the camp. They all died bravely in battle, but Black Betty rode off with the spoils. She took the horses and led them behind her in tow with the wagon and made way for the Gerudo Desert.
"Only the Gerudo will buy this stuff off me. Time to find a fenc e or two and then check in."
Towing a pair of horses and a wagon full of hot merchandise was a huge risk. Especially considering that she was one of Hyrule's Most Wanted. Many of the finest bounty hunters and knights fell at her feet. She'd even bested Goron and Zora who tried to take her down. As far as she was concerned, Elizabeth had earned the ability to be open in her revelry of carnage.
The few who saw her as she rode along either averted their eyes or changed course, hoping she would not focus on them. Once she made up her mind to bring anguish to an individual, death would follow at some point. Her hooded riding cloak was fully drawn, but Apocrypha's scabbard, forged of darksteel and deep brown leather, poked out from it. Tenebrous began to tire a bit, but Elizabeth had to reach the desert to avoid having to deal with more unnecessary interruptions. Guard patrols had attacked her before, as did self-perceived heroes. Killing wasn't an issue. It was the time spent doing it. And she was bound to defeat all who challenged her as part of her pact to the dark masters. Death to the unworthy. It was an obsession to murder all who opposed her.
As she rode along, admiring the scenery and keeping an eye out for problems, Elizabeth wondered if the Royal Family fell under that purview. Or the other ruling powers that upheld her bounty. Only the Gerudo would welcome her, and that was after paying hefty tribute up front as well as seasonal deposits. The bright side of this agreement was access to some of the best fences in the land. And material with which to craft musical instruments for their people, as she knew how to make lutes, flutes, and drums of remarkable caliber.
She had at least another few hours to reach the desert, and it was a hot day. Elizabeth was running low on water, and her spare bottle of desecrated wine was not recommended as part of her diet on the move. Luckily, it was quiet. However, the silence bothered her. No news could be bad news when you've got a six-figure bounty on your hea d that is approaching seven-figures.
Being on the run was tiring work. As the day got hotter, Elizabeth's riding cloak got a good bit sticky with sweat and her thirst began to grow significantly. The horses were run hard, but the only moisture they would be put away with was also their own perspiration. In the brushlands at Hyrule Field's outskirts lie a few streams. The desert was in sight, but she knew going in without watering up would be quite problematic.
Dismounting and leading the horses to water, she began to fill her canteen as they drank. Would anyone follow her this far? She saw a prison caravan in the distance and had considered sacking it, but she did not want to risk losing her cargo. This payload would cover her rent for at least the next year. And no one would dare come this way unless they were asking for trouble. Gerudo lookouts were only a few miles down the dried ravine into the desert. And they were very good shots who prided themselves in remaining unseen.
Elizabeth kept herself alert. Sleep was not something she got enough of out of habit, and her safehouse network did not extend into this area yet. She never slept in her meeting hall, even though her cult spent a lot of time there. They were not to be trusted. Her teachings mirrored her dark masters in stating the only one who can be trusted is yourself.
Water never tasted so good. Sure, it was sandy and had a strong earthy scent to it, but it was worth the risk of getting sick. Her two waterskins were filled with the stuff, and she took this time to run a quick inventory as her horses were getting their fill of brush.
After watering up and preparing her horses for the trip, Elizabeth drew her riding cloak to protect against the sun and set out. It was a bit of a challenge getting the wagon across the divide, as she had to go down the steep ravine terrain and ford the wagon with the horses. It almost capsized a few times. But she was able to get back up and onward toward the stinging sand and biting heat of the desert.
It took a lot longer than expected to get things going to her liking, but Elizabeth soldiered on, thinking of how great it would be to have a steady place to lay her head for a change. Serving her deity was not easy, and she was aware of this when she swore her pact of fealty. Sometimes her mind would be taken from her. Other times she would intensely focus on one thing or another, and would not be able to break that intense concentration. But the power that came with it was worth the cost. She was able to use her False Light toward many ends. Bending the mortal limitations in her blood and tapping into the fallen angel she was becoming.
Her music was affected adversely. Of course, she wrote brilliant pieces and played them quite well. And she remembered her old material remarkably well on top of that. But anything new she tried to write ended up becoming a profane hymn or dirge to her masters. The obsessive devotion ruined her creativity to pursue her normal career as a traveling musician, and that's when she decided it was time to cultivate followers of the fallen angel to whom she offered her black prayers. The songs moved them in ways her others could not. Thus, the Crimson Eclipse or "Crimsonites" became a beacon for those who reveled in their own damnation, rebellion, or otherwise needed an outlet to bask in evil ways. She did not mind the comraderie, but had vetted every single member very carefully.
In thinking of different ways to celebrate this huge pay day, Elizabeth considered bringing copious amounts of fine food and drink to her cult. A night of uncouth and undignified revelry would do her some good. Especially because when she was with her cult, no one would try to kill her or curse her or otherwise speak their unpleasantries toward her. Those things only fueled her dark rages and made murder most foul become murder most fun.
But for now, it was just her, the horses, and the hot desert sun.
Elizabeth Bryce brazenly traversed the desert reach, leading packhorses by their reins as she trekked purposefully over sand dunes passing between immense, looming walls of rock. She was not unwelcome in the lands of the Gerudo, but she seemed to delight in flaunting their relative indifference. General Namira found the woman’s gall amusing, and even useful, but Captain Nabrun and those she supervised showed less disregard. The woman was a thorn in King Dromand’s paw, certainly, and that was reason enough to shelter her when necessary, but she was also dangerous.
She seemed not to notice the almost imperceptibly timed flashes of reflected sunlight, but there was no ignoring when the well disguised Gerudo sentries emerged from their places of hiding, sliding down the rocky faces from their higher precipices, or else rising up from the sand, throwing off the earth toned, earth covered blankets that had blended them in with the barren wasteland all about.
Grim faced Gerudo soldiers leveled their naginatas or bared their wickedly curved scimitars in a show of overt threat, until Nerisse descended from the edge of the sandstone cliff above and waved them all off.
“Elizabeth Bryce.” It was not a question. “General Namira, exalted commander of the Gerudo people, has instructed me to bring you to her as soon as you returned to our lands.” She looked around behind her to the handful of armed and warily watching women at her back, then looked back around at the huntress in black. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist.”
Ambushed. Detained. Elizabeth did not understand her current diplomatic status in these lands. Criminal treatment was not unexpected but it felt unwelcome considering she was carrying a haul of goods for these people that was quite high in street value.
"Am I under arrest? Because I certainly did not draw my blades on you. If this is merely an armed escort, then I accept your request as well as your General's. If I am charged with a crime, then it is my right to know also."
Being surrounded did not scare her. But she had to be sure this was not a trap or a ruse. She decided to keep it civil for now until she knew more.
Border Scout Nerisse“Not under arrest, Miss Bryce.” Nerisse replied respectfully. She was, after all, merely obeying orders. More than that, she knew of Elizabeth’s reputation, and had no interest in drawing her ire. “However, General Namira regards you as something of a… free spirit. She was unsure of whether you would come, and instructed me in no uncertain terms to see to the matter personally.
“I apologize if my subordinates here have threatened you excessively. If you feel the need I’m sure that Namira would not miss one or two of them.” At the shocked and horrified expressions that passed over the faces of the assembled Gerudo scouts, she chuckled. “Otherwise I believe that we may consider this,” she said with a general gesture toward the others, “as an armed escort, as you said, and be on our way. It is best not to keep the General waiting if it can be avoided.”
And the collection of naginata and scimitar wielding Gerudo fell into step around Nerisse and the fiery haired woman in black, marching on into the desert and the fortress that lay within.
Elizabeth"Thank you for clearing that up. Your subordinates' presentation of the matter...well..."
Elizabeth drew Apocrypha and admired its lack of reflection in the desert sun. Some of her escort could be heard gulping and being disturbed in breathing.
"But, since who knows what's out here, consider yourselves...fortunate."
Replacing blade in scabbard and showing an incredibly rare display of mercy, she chuckled.
"Your General is wise in thinking so. I had intended on delivering this shipment to your fortress, stolen from a Hylian caravan near Ordon. To know Lady Namira herself will be receiving it personally is all the more exciting."
Adjusting her equipment, Elizabeth removed her right gauntlet. Another rare display. What appeared to be an ancient symbol of Light was inverted and glowing pale green on the back of her hand as it pulsed. Her master had given it to her nearly five years earlier, and she bore it with pride in the presence of her followers. The heathens would never understand. It evoked feelings of disgust and hatred in the sleepers nearly every time.
As she gave Tenebrous some leg pressure to move him forward, she held the back of her hand against her forehead and began to utter in a sinister tongue. Her eyes fluttered and closed, and a palpable wave of profane energies swept out from her.
"What was that?," One of the sentries asked. "Your hand...it's...marked...you really are the devil's daughter..."
Elizabeth smirked. She reveled in the fact that she was marked by the Fallen One, but it hurt her so many times more than it actually helped improve a situation.
"Black prayers. I'm in love with the darkness, what can I say? My master will protect us in his profane grace."
They shook their heads and rode onward. Either she was crazy, or sure of something no one would ever understand. The seed of glorious wonder was planted.
Gerudo Fortress, Late Afternoon of the First General Namira
The roof, unfortunately, was not yet finished in Namira’s audience chamber. No, she had to sit with the brutal desert sun beating down upon her as her scouts and officers came to make their reports to her. The eastern border was sound; the Hylians seemed content to ignore them as they focused on the potential conflict with the Zoras.
Namira was fine with that. As much as she liked her chances in a fight, she didn’t have the resources that the other tribes did and she wasn’t going to squander what she had.
She adjusted herself in her seat and fixed her veil so that it better protected her head from the sun’s glaring rays. She wondered idly if having the builders flogged would speed their progress, she would feel more comfortable with her position in this land if the great fortress of her people was complete and impregnable. Right now it was a disaster waiting to happen if any armed force did invade, unlikely as that was.
She suspected that, with the progress they were making on the fortress and the increased raids along the border to snatch up Hylian peasants for labor and breeding males, the Hylian King might turn his eye to the desert if not for the other threats he was faced with. Namira felt a powerful need to keep that enmity alive and fresh.
It was why her next appointment came flanked by armed and agile Gerudo warriors. She did not give the appearance of a woman under guard, Namira noted, despite the weapons born by her escort. Elizabeth Bryce was not one to be intimidated, that was why Namira had sent for her.
“Lady Bryce.” Namira greeted her pleasantly. “It is of course a pleasure to see you again.”
Interactions between the pair of them had always been cordial; they had a mutually beneficial arrangement that had so far proved quite lucrative. Elizabeth had certain skills that were outside the general consciousness and conscience, and Namira had a land where Bryce wouldn’t be constantly beset by bounty hunters and the governmental authority.
“I apologize for the theatrics,” Namira said with a casual flip of her hand to the Gerudo guards and scouts at the woman’s back, “but I needed to be certain that you would come when called for.
“I have need of you just now on some business in Hyrule. There are some individuals, prominent and… less so, who need to be dealt with. I cannot have my own people do it, not openly, but you are not one of my people.”
Namira leveled her striking violet gaze directly at Bryce. Very few in Gerudo Desert and fewer still in the lands beyond would dare hold the woman’s eyes in so direct a manner, but Namira had not risen to lead her people by being afraid.
“Merton Felick, chief constable in Hyrule Castle Town, has begun detaining high numbers of visitors from the neighboring tribes since the Castle Town incident last night.” When Elizabeth seemed surprised by the speed at which information traveled, Namira offered only a small smile. “Mobies make excellent messengers, and they’re so very swift.”
She cleared her throat and went on. “Moreover, of course, is the fact that Constable Felick has the ear of the King, so if he turns up dead it will immediately draw the attention of Dromand and the government. With the way things have been going over there, it will seem most likely that any assassin was sent by the Zoras or one of their other enemies. That is a line of thinking I would like to strongly encourage.”
At last Namira stood up, stepped forward into the shadow of the overhanging, incomplete roof, and faced Elizabeth eye to eye. “This is just the first target of several. I will be sending Corporal Nerisse with you as well to assist how she can. Particularly with this first job, however, you will need to appear to be acting alone. When you have completed the first job, Nerisse will give you the next.” She held out her hand. “Can you do this?”
This was a job that she could only have dreamed of. Not only would Elizabeth continue to be able to ride across the nation sowing seeds of anguish, discord, and strife, but now she had an opportunity of being the invisible hand of an entire nation of people. Of course, compensation would need to be discussed, but sending souls to the Dark Father was good enough in its own right. She made her own money before from plundering.
Some of this sounded suspicious, but having assistants was a benefit she often didn't have unless they were creatures of darkness. It was a missionary journey!
Elizabeth curtsied at being recognized, smiling in her sadistic fashion.
"No offense taken, General. You were being cautious, which I fully expected. But all you would need to do is ask. I am grateful for this sanctuary in your land. Know I will not put that in jeopardy. I may be notoriously twisted, but my promises are all kept. If Felick dies by my hand, I can engineer a direction of blame far from this land."
In listening to the description of the job and playing it over again in her head, this would be a perfect mark for her. Constable Felick was highly responsible for the horribly designed wanted posters posted all about Castle Town and Kakariko. It painted her in a false light. Sure, she was misunderstood, but "Thin Lizzy" was never a nickname she liked. She preferred things like "Black Betty" and "Bloody Beth" a lot more.
Others in the room were amazed that Elizabeth remained so calm. With a reputation like hers, they were surprised she didn't leave a trail of corpses in the desert.
Namira showed her a healthy amount of respect. For being forceful in requesting an audience, she sure was bold and courageous. Elizabeth liked that. They weren't too different in their worldviews. One just happened to lead a nation while the other had a growing cult. Raising her hand to meet Namira's, she had a few questions.
"Your deal sounds very fair to me, and I am honored to take lives for a noble purpose. Felick will lament crossing you. What do you wish as proof of demise? And what are we speaking of in terms of compensation? As there will be a series of bloodletting, I want to be sure my disciples will be responsibly taken care of."
A glint of malevolent joy filled Elizabeth's eyes as she reached her hand closer to Namira's.
Gerudo Fortress, Early Evening of the First
General Namira“Your disciples will be welcome within Gerudo lands as they have been for some time now, Elizabeth. They will be as comfortable as one can be in this desert heat. I can offer them little more for now.” She stepped down from her chair and motioned for the woman to walk with her, and together they departed the audience chamber. “As far as the need for proof, I have none. Nerisse will signal me when you have completed a job and moved on to the next, that way I can keep track of our progress.”
Once out of the unfinished hall, Namira found the interior darkness and shade of the corridors much more comfortable. Today was a particularly hot day, and the damp air was cool as they meandered the maze of her fortress.
“If you should need to go off schedule for some reason, that will be understandable. Hyrule is an upset hive right now and all of the bees are buzzing; I suspect there will be times when you run into difficulty. Nerisse will be my eyes and ears with you. She will understand and relate that understanding back to me.
“For every job you successfully complete, there will be payment. I have set aside a private vault for you in the bowels of this place, a secure vault and I will deposit your earnings directly into that vault when I receive word of a mission’s completion. I suspect that by the time you’re finished with my list, you’ll be a very wealthy young woman.”
They stopped in the middle of a corridor by the main gate and Namira gave Elizabeth a pointed look. “If you agree then you should go and attend to your people now. I will need you gone by morning.”
ElizabethNamira's offer was fair and just. Even better, it was to the point. Rupees and treasure for blood. Thankfully, Elizabeth was not one of a simple mind. And refuge for the Crimsonites was comfort enough. They had found an ancient cavern that used to be proving grounds in the past, and it served well for initiations, rituals, and services of dark worship. She could only imagine what kinds of treasures the General could muster up.
The General was paying high grade yield for this to be done right. Each kill would need to be done to order with much detail.
This stronghold had the makings of a very secure facility. Even unfinished, Elizabeth felt the place was like a second home. Somewhere she could be comfortable for quite some time if her welcome were not worn out, which it appeared Namira was getting at.
"Your offer sounds more than fair, General. Thank you for taking care of my people. If you have need of their services, I have instructed them to work with the Gerudo in service of the Fallen One. As our benefactors, we will create further prosperity in your lands."
To have an escort and companion would be an interesting twist. When it came to focused murders, she usually worked alone. But the Gerudo were known for being secretive and subtle as well as beautiful. Their mysterious culture would serve to her advantage as she grew more in its understanding.
"It is understandable. And thank you for Nerisse. She will prove very valuable in this journey. There will be times when things will have to cool down before I take another life. But I assure you, even if it means committing regicide against other kingdoms, it will be done. Most of the land wants me dead but fears me too much to do anything about it. And I will show them why that fear is healthy."
There were a few more things Elizabeth had to attend to before departing the fortress. In order to infiltrate Castle Town, she would either have to use one of the lesser known hidden ways in (and hope that any Sheikah weren't in the tunnels at the time), or find a convincing disguise. Considering her hair was of a shade matching her much darker-skinned allies, and that little was known about them, she could masquerade as one and ride right through the gate.
"I shall make myself scarce soon, General. In order to infiltrate Castle Town I must invest in some things. I need to pay a quick visit to your quartermaster and bath house, and I shan't be long. Nerisse and I will head to our black sanctuary under cover of darkness. Farewell, General."
With another respectful curtsy, Elizabeth made her way with Nerisse in tow over to the provisioner. She invested in Gerudo garb that accentuated her nubile frame while providing decent protection, as well as picking up a halberd and pair of scimitars. They were of decent quality. It wasn't Apocrypha or her darksteel short sword, but they were capable of taking lives. The armor wasn't as protective as her hauberk, greaves, or boots, and she wouldn't have her chain underwoven leather skirting, but it was better than all of Castle Town looking at her and screaming Bloody Beth. Felick would certainly live through a prolonged onslaught with Hylian troops. She was a one woman death squad, but with no way to escape it'd be her last battle.
Nerisse answered Elizabeth's many questions about Gerudo culture, including the secrets of how they did their hair. Elizabeth had naturally wavy hair that did not react well to heat or water. She had to braid or bundle it to keep it tamed, and washing it was a luxury that she often did not have as much time for as she would prefer. In bathing, getting the grime of battle, toil, and travel out of it and off of her skin felt divine. Her followers were not known for their cosmetic expertise, so getting assistance from Nerisse in doing her hair like a Gerudo felt like a welcome relief in and of itself.
The other Gerudo looked at her strangely and many kept their distance. Some accused Nerisse of being insane. Many prayed for her safety. Few knew that Elizabeth had a list of tenets she followed to keep herself from fully embracing the chaotic lure of darkness. Refined evil was much more fearful, after all.
After rearming herself and gathering what supplies they needed, Elizabeth and Nerisse departed the fortress through a hidden exit and rode off toward the Crimson Sanctuary. Her Gerudo companion looked visibly nervous about being the guest of a blatantly evil cult.
Gerudo Desert, Night of the FirstIt was good to not be riding alone. It was good to have received a decent payday for her hot cargo. And it was very good to be returning to the Crimson Sanctuary. Nerisse actually wasn't half bad to travel with, even if she didn't totally see where Elizabeth was coming from in her theology or her life's work of infamy. They had a ladies' agreement that they would both act in the best interest of the Gerudo people. Though she had not been raised as one of them, her extensive studies during her youth and early years of adolescence educated her well enough in the culture. It was just a matter of where they were in their history...
They spoke of Namira and her vision for the people, as well as plots on how to infiltrate Castle Town without being detained by the Constable too early as well as possibly some secret ways in and out. When asked how Elizabeth knew these, she tried to write it off as trade secrets of a criminal. But apparently the Gerudo knew a lot of criminals, so she eventually confessed to keeping it to herself. She had to be careful with how much she gave away. Though she wasn't entirely familiar with the political climate, her secret network of hiding spots and safe houses could not be compromised. And with Nerisse following her around, a few of those places ran the risk of exposure. Given the Order of Crimson Eclipse was unofficially sanctioned now, the headquarters were fair enough game.
Elizabeth made no secret that the Gerudo were welcome in her following. Any willing being who pledged their service to the Fallen One was welcome after proving loyalty. This was done with an act of blood, lust, greed, destruction, or deceit. The more heinous, the better. When the time came for her to turn to infamy, she cast off almost all of her former ties by way of murder and pillaging. Most places she previously performed in were closed to her. However, she still put on the occasional show in seedy underground criminal establishments in Kakariko and Castle Town. It was getting into Castle Town undisguised that proved to be the biggest challenge.
Nerisse was very intrigued by these stories. Most who spent time with Elizabeth outside of her cult were repulsed and frightened by her. But Nerisse found a fellow strong and independent woman to respect. Not worship, but respect. Elizabeth made no secret she would give her an opportunity to become a Crimsonite, which did put her at pause in reservation. Rumors abounded that members of her cult dabbled in profane magicks and artes. Witchery. Toying with fate. The list continued.
As they approached the cave where most would not dare to enter, Lynel sentries patrolled, both red and blue. They were friendly to Elizabeth as she'd managed to command their obedience with her Mark. She also did not restrict their liberty. They were still somewhat free-willed, but allured by the power her dark masters offered.
The Crimson Sanctuary, Night of the FirstThe Order of Crimson Eclipse wasn't populated by just Hylians, Gerudo, or other humanoid beings. Creatures of Darkness also pledged devotion. Moblins. Goriyas. Bokoblins. They also were represented. This was home to those who had been rejected by modern society or those who had rejected it themselves in a quest to transform it. However, since migrating to the desert, more and more Gerudo began to attend the black mass as well as take part in sacrificial feasts. The finest large wild boar had been offered just a month before, and another was slated to be killed this night.
"We walk the night with demons of dread. We fear nothing, least of all our enemies. I bear His Mark, sentry. Let us through."
The path was cleared. And into a large cave mouth the two entered. Lit by flame and guided by the same torches that guided their path through the desert, Elizabeth was welcomed heartily by her cult. Nerisse was visibly disturbed at how openly they spoke of sin and its twisted glory. This was a place where evil was celebrated in its purest form. And while being evil, a perverted sense of righteousness permeated the air. Being bad never felt so good.
"Elizabeth, I honestly had no idea these people upheld ideals like this so strongly. What do you eventually intend to do with your movement?"
In response to Nerisse's query, she grinned and brought attention to it.
"Brothers and Sisters of the Eclipse, what is our aim?"
In unison shouting, the chamber echoed with two dreadful statements.
"Prepare this world for our Dark Father's coming! Extinguish all hope!"
But who was the Dark Father? Did he have a name? Sure, there was the Fallen One, but Elizabeth dare not speak it to anyone as there was a blood price to pay for truly invoking it. Nerisse was left in the shadows on that one for now. But she was impressed that so many were so loyal to someone so despicable. She was assured that if the Gerudo people allowed her to continue operation in her lands, they would be welcomed as allies when their deity finally walked the land. The main goal was to overthrow any regime who opposed them and bring about an age of tyrannical oppression.
The Border Guard was amazed at how many of her fellow sisters made their way out to meetings such as this. And she was even more amazed at how quickly their dinner was prepared. Elizabeth nodded in approval as a wild boar was viciously cut down and butchered. She painted sigils near its corpse out of its own blood, whispering maledictions and thanks to her master.
After eating to fullness and drinking to a good buzz, Elizabeth offered lodging for her companion and took her leave for the night. They had planned to depart in the morning after some of the Gerudo cultists agreed to help disguise her at first light. Revelry continued long after, but Nerisse was able to find a place to sleep comfortably a few doors down from Elizabeth.
The Crimson Sanctuary, Dawn of the Second Day Elizabeth
Though she had been sleep deprived the day before in pursuit of blood money, Elizabeth woke as usual, uttering praises to her deity and curses to the Triune and her mother. It didn't take her long to wash up. Her followers would leave a basin of precious fresh water just inside her bedchambers and tried their best not to ever wake her. Nerisse had slipped a note under her door also, stating that she was already awake and to get her as soon as they were ready.
Today, Elizabeth was not dressing as herself. She had to don the garb of her patronesses, so after washing up and donning a dark robe, she sent for Nerisse.
"Nerisse, I need an honest opinion of style when I am finished readying up. In order to complete my mission, I cannot be made as Black Betty. So I'm going to need some help."
Her Gerudo companion chuckled and shook her head.
"Our General insisted upon aiding in your success to a degree. But if you can't get into Castle Town as the most feared woman in all the land, I have a feeling you probably don't deserve to gain entry. Or avoid getting caught. But since Felick needs to die, I'll critique you. And you need to work on your accent."
Elizabeth slipped behind her dressing screen and donned her purchased gear. It lacked serious protection compared to the armor she normally wore. She had no intention of fighting while wearing it unless absolutely necessary. She was well versed enough in swordsmanship to use their curved blades, and smart enough to figure out how to use their long spears. But she couldn't take a hit like a Gerudo. Her ancestry and heritage didn't lend well to taking sustained physical punishment.
Slipping from behind the screen, Nerisse gave her a good once over.
"It'll probably work. Just don't talk too much. And take a different horse this time. Does your demon steed come when called? Because you're much more pale than the rest of us. And your eyes are lighter. But we are still a mysterious people yet. Walk tall. You've no trouble being arrogant and elitist. And remember, in our land, we make the rules and the males break their backs."
Elizabeth was amused and grinning behind her mask. She regretted having to leave Tenebrous behind on this one, but for temporary cover it would need to happen. She could always come back for him, and she was working on a summoning spell for him. In a pinch if he was needed it could work, but it could also kill him if he was unwilling to serve at that time.
"Very well then, Nerisse. My true equipment can be well hidden in my luggage. Our cover story should be good enough. And if Felick jails us, I will break out of the cell and kill him in a manner that will not get your people fingered for the deed."
It didn't take her long to prepare. After gathering food and water for the desert trip, Nerisse believed it would take most of the morning to cross over to the Valley. By noon time, they could hit Hyrule Field with a strenuous pace, and then gain entry to Castle Town not too long after that. The Gerudo were not trusted, but they were not bound by law on sight of Hylian guards either.
Gerudo Desert, Sanctuary Patrol Route
The Sanctuary was quiet and empty. Other than the Lynel patrols, all of the revelers had returned to their homes. Elizabeth commanded her sentries to keep their vigil. And across the desert they went as hard as their horses could handle. There was very little incident in their trek, and they continued to become acquainted. For being unashamed in her evil ways, Elizabeth was at least open in sharing her tales and her musical interests. But when it came to family, her font of bardic knowledge shut tight. Even with no shame, she dare not speak of them.
Horses had to be watered and food had to be eaten. After Elizabeth had finished her meal, she pulled out her lute and entertained Nerisse as she nursed the rest of her drink. Even while disguised she could play beautifully, and went with a relevant tune. It was one of the classics that made her famous in her travels, Home Again. It hinted at her flirtations with what she was to become. No one ever interpreted it as such as it was a tavern song meant to be sung in varying stages of inebriation. Nerisse gained further understanding of this and was honored to have received a private performance. She was also glad no one was around to hear it, because while Bryce's music did still cause establishments to have a good time, it also would draw unwanted attention.
"That was beautiful, Lady Bryce. But I implore you not to perform while in Castle Town, even while disguised. Your voice is uniquely beautiful as are you, but some may remember how sweetly the plucking of your lute sounds."
Nerisse's suggestions were starting to wear on her, but victory had to be assured in these first few killings. Rapport had to be gained. Ball had to be played.
"Honored that you enjoy my work. Very well. But I fully intend to freely strum at night. I promise I won't play any of my known work, though."
After a compromise they rode on to Hyrule Field.
Hyrule Field, Afternoon of the Second
One of the geographical benefits of the Valley's location was a much shorter ride to civilization than the Ordonians and Zora had. The Gorons did not have much of a distance to roll, and Hylians were in advantage of being centrally located as it was. They rode at a gentle, steady pace so as to not draw unwanted attention. Elizabeth kept adjusting her mask to ensure it did not fall off. Her obsidian shard stud earrings were replaced with Gerudo gold hoops, and those dangles bothered her a bit. But it was worth it in order to gain entry to a place she had not been welcome in over a year.
Soldier and scout patrols were moving in formation, but they did not detain the Gerudo duo. Odd looks were thrown, but no heed was paid. With Castle Town in clear view, it appeared that increased activity at the gate might make entry a little slower. Bags weren't being searched, but there was a line of folks on horseback and on foot answering questions. An impromptu customs detail had been set up. What is your business in Castle Town? How long will you be here? State your name, anything to declare, and so forth. Elizabeth had a cover identity and had been working on her accent all morning. Nerisse deemed it passable.
"You'll have to put that dulcet voice to the test soon enough, miss Nocturna. Just don't go crazy while you try too hard."