Late afternoon on the grounds of a once-fine manor.
A woman in a blue dress—pretty, though by no means unduly elegant—stands on a gravel drive, her body inclined to examine a pink rose whose vines have taken over a weathered stone bench.
Farther down the hill, a man in a grey business suit opens a large, rusting iron gate and enters the property; he shuts the gate behind him and climbs the gentle hill.
'Sapphire,' he says in a level voice that could convey greeting, or merely acknowledgement.
The woman looks up from the flower. 'Steel,' she answers, the ghost of a smile in her voice.
Less than the shadow of that ghost appears upon her face, yet even so she wears a warmer expression than any the man has yet shown.
'Where are we?' the man asks.
'An abandoned estate—quite old,' she replies; the man winces at this assessment. 'Uninhabited for . . . about fourteen years, at this time.'
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