-Capital Crocus, afternoon-
Wearing her usual "office lady" attire, Diana was sitting in the outdoors portion of a cafe and sipping coffee while reading a copy of today's newspaper that a previous patron had left behind. The newspaper had two articles that were of interest to the mage... one of them dealt in rumors and the other dealt in solid fact. Diana set her coffee cup on the provided white saucer and picked up the newspaper with a rustle of paper. It was still warm from lying out in the sun.
The first article had a headline that trumpeted "FRANCESCA CORLONE SPOTTED ON CRESCENT ISLAND!" The blonde's eyes narrowed while reading the article, which was short on detail but long on rumor. It claimed that the mob princess had been spotted in Earthland's premier vacation destination fifteen days ago and that she had left in a hurry once the media had spotted her. The picture accompanying the article had an outstretched hand thrown in front of a female face with long hair. While that was not definitive proof that her old adversary had been on Crescent Island, the trail was worth going down, if only to see how the mob princess was faring now that Mr. Corlone was no longer the head of a criminal empire.
The next article concerned Mr. L'Argesse, the wealthy man and purported Shadow Collective backer she had recently taken out in Bellum. The headline trumpeted "WEALTHY BELLUM MAN POSTHUMOUSLY CONNECTED TO HUMAN TRAFFICKING!" Diana kept a straight face as she read the article on him.
The Bellum police were investigating the incident, but it did not seem to be their highest priority because the paper hinted that the authorities believed the death was a suicide. Of greater interest to the authorities was a trail of evidence that linked him to human trafficking; he dealt exclusively in young women. That information put Mr. L'Argesse's choice of companion to the movie theater and his boast that he could buy any woman he wanted in an unpleasant new light. More information about the fallen millionaire was on the next page.
Diana flipped the page and picked reading where she had left off. The next segment stated that business ledgers uncovered in his closet safe indicated that the most frequent destination for his illicit cargo was Desierto, but he had also sent captives to Rose Garden and Minstrel. Diana then read on and learned that while the authorities in Rose Garden and Minstrel were doing their best to find the captives, the authorities of Desierto had not yet responded to Bellum and did not seem like they were ever going to reply. She had a feeling that lack of response was because the Desierto authorities did not have any control of the region outside of the Tri-Council cities. She then concluded that lack of control suited the Tri-Council cities just fine because the sultans could always threaten to exile dissidents from the relative safety of the cities to the lawless wastes dominated by bandits and slavers.
[Word Count: 515]
[Total Word Count: 515/500]