A crash resounded through the room as Irette Plamine hurled her glass across her private study. The crystal vessel struck the ornate carved stone bookshelf built into the wall and shattered, flinging shards across the room. The only other person present, the youngest member of her triad, Biritite Cryslas, flinched as her true skin repelled the sharp slivers and tried to pacify her leader.
"Th-They can't have gotten far, we still have tracking spells attached to the two of them, we'll know where they are shortly."
Plamine rounded on the younger Shaper in a fury, her hands slashed through the air as she spoke as if she were attempting to strike down the reality around her.
"Know where they are? Oh, I know where they are. I received word two minutes ago that they surfaced not a hundred metres outside the gates of Stonehall!"
"No!" Cryslas gasped.
"Oh, that's not all! They hung around just long for every guard on the wall to spot them before fleeing. They'll have geomancers trace their tunnel straight back to us!"
Plamine's eyes were wild with rage as she explained to her triad member the depth of the disaster that had just taken place. That stupid bug! All it had to do was die and their backers in the city would be happy. How could they anticipate one pitiful insect would be so difficult to kill?!
"Can we insert our own people into the city's search party? They must be a Shaper, right?"
"They never use anyone who isn't totally loyal to the Warrior's circle! Don't be so stupid," Plamine said.
She resisted the urge to strike her contemporary. She needed to be calm, there had to be a way to salvage this.
"I-is there a chance we can count on assistance? Fr-From our backers?" Cryslas hesitated to suggest.
Her only response was a growl that emanated from deep within her leader's throat. Their 'backers' had proven to be far more trouble than they were worth. The money and resources they'd provided had pushed their faction to the top of the Worm Cult in only a few years, but the moment that had been achieved, the demands started to roll in. Ever since, they'd been tying themselves in knots trying to meet their outrageous demands whilst also advancing the proper agenda of the Cult, a delicate tightrope that had taken an immense amount of skill to navigate.
"They won't help us," Plamine said bitterly, "they'll cut ties the moment they sense the stone is crumbling. If anything, we can expect them to be the loudest amongst those seeking to bring us down."
Cryslas stepped forward, filled with energy.
"Then why don't we pull them down with us?" She hissed, suddenly fierce. "We have enough compromising material to drag them through the mud for a generation. They'll have to help us!"
Her leader slowed her pacing as she tried to think.
"That would be "
Dangerous. Risky. Madness. Not to mention a matter well above her station in the hierarchy of the Cult.
"I'd need to contact the leadership. But we don't have time! DAMN IT!"
At that moment, Oridene Gravus burst into the room, rage written all across his face. Plamine flung a hand up to point right between his eyes before he could speak.
"Not a word out of you! Not. One. If you hadn't been so blatant we could have moved quietly against that blasted creature a week ago! Like we'd intended!"
She turned back to Cryslas.
"Your idea has some merit. I'll reach out to our contact and try to put pressure on. I'll need the two of you with me to present a unified front. We're playing a dangerous game now and we don't have much time."
She strode behind her desk and pulled out a drawer filled with enchanted communication crystals, each nestled in its own pouch and clearly labelled. Gravus turned to the other member of the triad, his brow furrowed.
"They were spotted outside the city," Cryslas filled him in, her voice terse, "the city might be able to trace them back to us."
His eyes grew wide.
"If they think we were raising ants in here"
"Exactly!" She snapped. "We'd be finished. The entire Worm Cult might get pulled out by the roots by the time the Warrior's Circle is done with us!"
"But they were the ones" he spluttered.
Cryslas leaned in and jabbed him in the chest.
"You and I know that, Oridene. But are they going to own up to their part in it?"
His expression soured as he contemplated the likelihood of that ever happening. They'd be only too happy to send their 'allies' into oblivion if it kept their own noses clean.
"It's ready," Plamine announced, "Oridene, Biritite, come join me."
The crystal glimmered with a bright light as it was placed into its carved holder in the centre of the quartz desk that dominated the study. The triad took their places for the call, Gravus and Cryslas flanking Plamine as she sat in the seat of her office and stared down domineeringly at the crystal.
It wasn't long before the matching crystal was activated and a projection of the Golgari at the other end appeared in the air above the crystal. The triad as one shrank back instinctively from the withered Warrior whose image had appeared.
"This had better be important, Plamine. I've little to waste on the likes of you," he sneered.
Irette Plamine swallowed and steadied herself. No matter how far she rose, or how much she detested them, a lifetime of submissiveness to the Warrior caste was difficult to overcome.
"We have an issue that will soon become yours as well."
A frown creased the already aged face.
"Oh? This had better be interesting." He warned.
"We've had two specimens escape from the outpost," she stated, "one of which was the monster you asked us to put down."
His eyes bulged.
"It still isn't dead?" He raged. "You were told to kill it the moment it was in your hands!"
"It wasn't expedient to do so."
"Expedient?!" He glared, "I have little care for what you consider 'expedient'. You were told to get it done and so you should have done it! Who do you think holds your leash?"
Irrette forced her anger down and strove to remain calm.
"We are not able to act as we please here in the cult. Certain customs still need to be observed. Just because an old family in the Warrior's Circle wants something dead doesn't mean we will leap to obey! We aren't your assassins."
"You are our servants, bought and paid for!"
Gravus was trembling with rage by this time and Cryslas covertly reached a hand around to grip his arm. If he blew up at their contact then there was little chance they would secure the assistance they needed.
"Well, this is about to become your problem," Plamine snapped, "since the two monsters who escaped have turned up outside the city gates!"
"They what? ah. There will be a search for the insect. The city is going to get involved and you don't want it being traced back to you I see. I presume you want me and those I represent to intervene on your behalf?"
"We think it's time for the old clans to step forward and get their hands dirty. We wouldn't be in this situation if one of your scions didn't lack even the slightest element of control!"
There was a pause.
"Watch your words Shaper. Don't forget who you are, and who you are talking to. We can make you disappear overnight with a snap of our fingers."
"You might be getting yourself a little dirty with the blowback from such a situation. It's so hard to stay clean these days."
"I'll contact you again in an hour. If you haven't got a lead for me by then I'll bury that entire outpost and leave you to the Dungeon. You hear me Plamine?"