Everil called it the Squalid Sett, but the inhabitants refer to it only as the Queen's City. The Queen protects them, the Queen provides, to give it a name would be to suggest that the place could endure or hold a purpose without the Queen.
At the end of the west canyon there sits a squat stone tower: this is the citadel of the Queen. In the mornings those who have need gather at the base of the tower to take their portion of the white mold that grows there and apply it to their skin. Some of them cut or scrape themselves bloody before doing so: this gives the mold a better place to take hold, and gives it quicker passage into the body, and thus it nourishes and enlightens them even more swiftly and effectively.
There are visitors here, those who have not accepted what the Queen offers, and they are tolerated. There are no zealots here, no forced conversions. Those who serve the Symbiont Queen do so because she has given them cause. With her they have a safety and a sustenance that is more reliable than any they could find in the world above.
The Queen herself is a servant, they say, not a tyrant. She serves a forgotten divinity and passes its blessings on to those who need it. Is it true that she took half the Ways from the badger kings of old? Well, yes. But only to secure for herself a simple domain in which to carry out her religious duties, and the age when one could claim a realm for oneself without impinging upon someone else's claim was long past.
And now the time has come and she will grant an audience to Marjo Gull and her hired men. Her servant Lubien leads them to the citadel. He is of a race none of you have seen in the flesh before: one of the dark elvenkind. The white mold grows in elaborate striped patterns all across his back, chest and arms, following the ridges of old and new scars. Lubien takes you into the tower but instead of ascending to the highest floor he leads you down, down, into the narrow, wormy tunnels of a deep cellar.
Lubien stops midway through a long, straight passage. "Go on ahead," he says in his whisper-soft voice. "She will receive you alone."
The doorway at the end of the passage, about sixty feet distant, glows with a faint indigo luminescence.