by Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold
Baccara is one of the dark ones from among the ranks of the Rose Knights. She is a pale woman, needle-thin with large eyes dark as bruises. She always goes clad in satin of a color that falls somewhere between maroon and leaf mold. Baccara follows battle rather than leading it like most of her fellows, always in the service of the Armies of the Moon.
Baccara can hear the whispers of the departing souls of the dead. From them she bargains for secrets. And the Velvet Knight always keeps her bargains.
She chanced upon a forest ambush one early winter's day. A man lay dying beneath a massive fir tree, propped up by arrows, his pelvis broken. He held a map case across his lap, and pain was drawn upon his weathered face, already scarred by life and sunlight.
"I am a cartographer," he announced to her, as if they'd met over two bottles of ale in some wayside tavern.
"Of course you are," she answered quietly. "Save your words, friend. God has allowed you very few more."
He smiled through the pale draining of his face. "Words are to be spent, not saved. Like rabbits, they multiply themselves."
After scanning for hidden archers or worse, she crouched before him, tugging the scabbard of her slim blade upward so as not to snag upon the ground should his attackers return. "What happened here? Who were your enemies?"