Known variously as The Mistress of Cats, The Lady of the White Veil, The Teacher of the Unseen, The Mistress and, so the tales would have it, by one person simply as Cats, Mistress Cats is said to be the leader and instructor of the world's greatest thieves. This same claim can be found carved by ancient hands in long-buried stones and has been told in markets and bazaars for as long as tales have been told, which leads the wise to believe that The Mistress of Cats is either a title handed down across the years or simply a myth. Sometimes the wise are foolish.
Some tales say Mistress Cats is as old as age itself and lived when The Absented was still among us. Some say it was she who taught Arbor Vulpa how to commit The Greatest Theft in The World. Some that, to this day, she instructs the eldest sons and daughters of the Vulpate line in her craft. Some tales tell of her kindness and some of her cruelty. It is said she casts her young pupils into prison, teaching only those who escape their bonds, leaving their fellows to wither away in chains. It is said she raises beggars to kingship and is a mother and father to all orphans. It is said she weeps every night for the woman who broke the world's heart.1
Whatever the case, and whatever their many differences, tales of The Mistress do agree on certain matters. The first of these is that she is a tall and slender figure, apparently in her early middle age and said to move like silk in a breeze. The second is that her hair is silver, like water in moonlight. The third is that, though she smiles often and easily, she has laughed only three times and each time meant the fall of an empire, though which empires fell and the dates of their falling are matters that vary from tale to tale.
The stories further agree that Mistress Cats' academy of thievery lies in the city of Veresh, carved into a mountain of red rock that lies deep among the sands of Afar. But more of that strange city another time.
|Reputed Entrance to Veresh|
1. Of whom more can be read here↩