Syndra had a problem.
It was something that a few in Mhaldor had come to know of the Apostate. If they paid attention to the quiet Troni. To others, it would come as a complete surprise.
The little Siren had an addiction. However, her obsession didn’t fall under the usual categories or vices. Neither drugs or booze tempted Syndra from her path towards Perfection, but something more insidious in nature.
Hearts and souls.
Unlike her Sireni brethren, the Mhaldorian girl didn’t acquire them in the usual way. There were no coquettish fluttering of lashes, or sly crook of fingers. No. She went straight through the ribcage, enjoying the popping of sinew, the rending of muscle, the shattering of bone, before she wrenched the still beating heart form the chest cavity of her prey.
She was so adept at it, some three years since her first consumption of a heart, that it led to her most recent problem: where to store her gory bounty?
While she was known to share her excess of essence with the other necromancers in the Lord’s city, she still kept a stash for herself. Which led to her squirrel-like behaviour; tucking them about the city in nooks and crannies, chests, shelves, and specimen jars, just out of sight, but always within easy distance for the wee addict.
But, her usual stores were full of hearts, even after separating out the larger creatures, most notably chewy Troll hearts and fatty dragon aortas, from the smaller races.
The most recent raid upon the Heathens of the tree-top village of Eleusis had earned many corpses, all hacked to pieces, and preserved for the blood-thirsty necromancers. Once safe within the city, the divvying up of the bounty had commenced, leaving Syndra with her arms laden with gore, the promise of stolen souls still bound to the ghastly flesh. The sight of her trudging about the city bedecked in splatters of sanguine wasn't unsuaul. White was, alas, a terrible choice to wear on the Red Isle, but despite how often she had to change clothing, the Siren still chose the luminous shade, just to showcase the garish violence of crimson. Now, it was hard to tell her cloak had once been white with how much blood had seeped into the fibres.
Her first stop was Stygian, as was the norm. Beneath the watchful eye of the dispersing raiders, Syndra searched the bone chest there, hoping to find a spot amidst the armour and castoffs for the slaves.
The chest was full. The same was found in her nooks in the Baelgrim Fortress, and the Red Square.
Finally, a new hiding spot was uncovered in the Cathedral. Who would notice an extra few hearts or blood splatters in the summoning room? The pentagram etched on the black granite floor was permanently stained with the rust-red of blood. No amount of cleaning—and she’d tried as a slave—had returned it to its former glory.
Opening an empty wooden trinket box, large enough and long enough to hold a sacrificial sword, Syndra tucked her hearts in around it before closing it.
With one final look at her new hiding spot, the Siren slipped out of the Cathedral with only a trail of blood to mark her wake.
A few months passed, and Syndra’s accumulation of hearts remained undetected. Until the Weaver, needing a supply from the Cathedral, opened a box. Slightly shrivelled, yet retaining their globular shape, the Dragoness blinked down at the pile of organs. Only the faintest reek of decay emanating from it.
“Why are there four hearts…," the dragoness stopped and shook her head. She knew the culprit since she'd walked in on her protege stockpiling some in the Worm and Grub a year ago. "Oh, Syndra.”
The Exemplar shook her head and closed the box again, giving it a little pat for safekeeping.