In the great Palace of Marinhalk the bustle of everyday life was well under way. The activity was vibrant by midmorning in all but the north wing. It was as though day had not yet come to that area.
The north wing was the smallest and yet most isolated part of the palace. Standing far into the courtyard, only a long elevated corridor connected it to the rest of the capital building. Running at the height of the second floor, the enclosed passage was supported by a series of elaborate arches amidst a rose garden.
The interior of the span was the true masterpiece of the palace. Stained glass windowpanes adorned the walls along its entire length. They were separated into sections in which events had been depicted in the shaded glass. Each area illustrated a great event in the military history of the Mandrean Empire. Common characteristics were an emperor basking in the glory of victory with his followers gazing at him in adoration and slain enemies at his feet. The gore of battle had been omitted as the emperor was consistently portrayed in a heroic if not god-like fashion. White marble tiles seamlessly covered the floor in opulence. Slender columns separated the glass portraits. They supported a vaulted ceiling of amber glass. The designers had gone to great lengths to ensure the area was generously illuminated from dawn to dusk. It was the ultimate shrine to Mandrean greatness.
At the palace end of the hall were grand oak double-doors on polished brass hinges. To their side was a staircase spiraling down toward the lower parts of the palace. So discreet was the opening it blended with the columns nearby and nearly went unnoticed.
The unmistakable sound of footsteps on the stairs shattered the previously tranquil moment. A diminutive figure emerged from the stairwell with a sense of purpose. The person wore a turquoise hooded robe that covered the head and made the face only visible from the front. Even though the person was roughly the height of Necromancer, the figure clearly belonged to someone else. The attire too was of fine quality but not to the standard he had displayed.
Silently the robed person walked with a brisk pace down the center of the hall toward the North Wing. A majesty of colors descended from the stained glass to change the appearance of the robe and dance across the marble floor. Unimpressed, the figure continued to advance on the north end of the passage.
Clearly coming into view was another double door. This one was hand carved with scrollwork and artistry rarely seen. An Imperial Guard stood on either side at attention with a spear in their hand closest to the door. As the robed person approached, the sentries did not avert their eyes from their focus down the hall. They crossed their spears before the entrance to impede any further progress.