Decadere Diaboli had never liked Vale. It was a dull city, comprised primarily - it seemed - of equally dull people. If he hadn't known better, he would have thought the city itself was afflicted with some kind of wasting sickness. But no, even after all this time, Vale was just as sad and grey as he remembered.
He hadn't been in the city long, but already he felt a part of himself longing to return home, to Mistral. There was no shortage of work to be done there. Weapons to be bought. Plans to be made. Orders to be given...
As the mobster made his way downtown, he caught a flash of movement to his right, and turned to find himself standing outside a small bakery. Directly in front of him stood a young man - sharply dressed in a bespoke white suit that matched his ashen hair, and whose pale skin was marred slightly by still-healing burns that adorned the left side of his face. Three silver rings held shut his left eyelid, concealing the dark pit behind, while his right eye gleamed like a pale blue gemstone.
Diaboli studied his reflection intently for a moment, running his gloved fingers over the faint scarring before pushing them through his messy fringe. These last few weeks hadn't been kind to him, that was true. Yet after years of idle waiting, he finally felt a reinvigorating excitement taking hold, and he watched as the corners of the reflection's mouth pulled up in a small, satisfied smile.
This is my hour.
There was just one problem. A problem that had been troubling him for some time now.
The Ninth Dragon.
When Diaboli had last spoken with Zanipher Hei'An, he had been certain they had come to an understanding. Vale was her territory, just as Mistral was his. And while their relationship had not been the healthiest at times, even he couldn't deny their compatability. Was he naive for thinking that such a friendship could be maintained? Probably. But that didn't make her betrayal any less painful.
"I just don't get it," he admitted to his reflection, hoping it would reveal some hint as to the mistake he had made. Instead, the man in the glass merely narrowed his gaze, almost in reprimand.
Behind the man, a cloaked figure stood. Seven feet tall, and swathed head to toe in dark green fabric, the giant waited with infinite patience as Diaboli glared daggers at himself. Fellow pedestrians - no doubt overly familiar with strange individuals in their city - paid little attention to the pair as they went about their business. Had they been able to see the armoured plating and synthetic scales beneath the cloth, though, their presence might have been a fair bit more alarming.
"Come on. Let's get this over with," Diaboli decided, turning sharply away from the storefront and motioning for his loyal shadow to follow.
A few city blocks later, the grey architecture surrounding them began to peel away and become replaced with somewhat more impressive buildings. Diaboli noted how the casual outfits of the city's residents were slowly replaced with smarter attires more fitting for the area's more commercial orientation, confirming in his mind that they were headed in the right direction.
Soon after, Diaboli found himself standing outside a tall office building. Nothing conspicuous stood out to the mobster, but no doubt that was the point. Above him, a security camera pointed directly down at him, obviously orientated to get a clear view of anybody coming in and out of the front entrance. He looked up at it for several long seconds, before turning to his companion.
"Stay here. These people might still be a bit miffed about you breaking down their door the first time around." Flattening the front of his suit, Diaboli tightened the patchwork tie around his neck and coughed awkwardly. "If I you don't hear from me in an hour, proceed with the plan."
As his bodyguard took his place outside the Syndicate building, Diaboli took a deep breath - glanced at the camera one last time - before stepping forward and pushing open the double doors to the Dragon's den.