Guest Quarters <Fastheld Keep>
- Honored guests of the Emperor and Empress are afforded lodging in this spacious tower-top chamber, with a huge canopy bed, a writing desk with inkwell and quill, a padded chair, a clawed-foot brass and ceramic bathing tub, green marble wash basin, rich brownwood wardrobe and a waste bucket for personal relief.
- The heavy wooden door can be locked and latched against unwanted visitors. Two blue-curtained archways lead out onto balconies.
Dianna Lomasa is resting in bed, looking incredibly pale, and weak, her eyes closed. Dressed in a warm nightgown, the remains of her old clothes are resting in a corner, while new clothes rest closer to the bed.
Freed. She had been correct in her assumptions all along, and yet her brother had thought her to be a fool in her disbelief of Dianna's taint. After climbing the last of the stairs with her healer's satchel slung dutifully over her shoulder, Rowena pauses to breathe just outside the door and gather her senses. She'd come to answer Arturo's frantic message. She prays that the horrid conditions of Dianna's previous lodgings hadn't done too much damage to the babe. Lifting her head from her chest now that her head is cleared, the Duchess knocks twice, firmly upon the door, while palace guard watches from behind.
A small yawn escapes Dianna, hands lifting to rub her eyes carefully, fear overtaking her for a moment as she glances around her surroundings, a soft tremor running through her body. After taking a few deep breaths to relax herself, she lifts her voice, "Enter," she calls, her voice rough, and scratchy. She squirms a little uncomfortably upon the soft bed, a faint frown flickering across her lips.
As Rowena presses a palm against the wooden door, the shuffling noise of an odd gait and huffing breath scrabbles up the stairs behind her. She turns, satisfied to see a servant toting a bucket of steaming water her way. The girl struggles to carry it carefully so as to not slosh the boiled contents and risk burning herself. "My thanks go to you." Rowena says kindly and gestures for the girl to follow her inside.
Together, they enter the young woman's temporary residence. While the girl drags the bucket to the wash basin and empties a small portion into it, Rowena steps quietly over the stone floor towards Dianna's bed-ridden frame. Her garments sway faintly as she walks, the cold having forced her to wear heavier attire. "I cannot begin to express how relieved I am to be finding you above ground." She voices in a low greeting.
Dianna Lomasa glances up, a faint smile forming on her lips, "Your grace," she says softly, slipping out of the bed, bowing before the Duchess. "I cannot express how happy, and yet sad I am to be free," she adds, one hand resting on the bed to help support her. Her whole body trembles slightly from the overall weakness, and still being forced to hold her weight. "I take it my brother has sent you the news then?"
"Aye, I received it late last night and set out at once." Rowena shakes her head to Dianna's movement and droops her left shoulder to allow her bag to rest upon the ground. She extends a hand to assist her if need be and gestures to the bed. "You must keep still. When have they last offered you food?" She questions, going immediately to work. While the familiar warmth seeps from her eyes, another thing has embedded itself into her features. Strain.
"Last evening," Dianna replies softly, sitting back down onto the bed. "Your grace, please, I will be well after I have been able to rest, and recover my strength. Do not allow me to cause you any trouble," she protests, seeing the strain. She is quiet for a moment, before sighing, "You know of Althea Weaver, the tailor of Vozhdya?"
The servant girl continues her work in the meantime, taking a rag from her belt and draping it over the washbasin. She then places another over the top of the bucket in efforts to trap the steam and prolong the water's heat. When this is done, she tucks a wisp of straw-colored hair behind her ear and slips unobtrusively out.
Rowena nods, turning her back to Dianna for a moment to open the leather flap of her satchel. "Aye, I have had many things sewn by her. She has remarkable talent. If my niece's celebration is ever scheduled, than I shall place another gown order with her shop."
Now...what was she searching for? Staring blankly at the contents for a moment, she mumbles a rehearsed list to herself. Ah yes. Her hands begin to pluck a few tiny pouches from within, as well as a brush.
Dianna Lomasa stares down at the ground for a few moments, before tears start to form, her trembling increasing, "The Surrector has informed me that Althea is Touched," she whispers. "It is the only reason I was released... he had me sign a confession, saying I thought she was Touched, and used her powers to manipulate me, and those around me..." Her voice trails off as she tears come at more rapid pace.
"Tou..." Rowena's mouth forms a stunned 'o', and she nearly drops one of the herbal packets. Turning in full, fingers grasping at her tools of trade, she tilts her head to Dianna's tearful voice. "Well how has this assumption come about? Less than a week ago, another youth was labeled as such."
She glances once over her shoulder to the wash basin and bucket, knowing that if she didn't work swiftly, the needed heat would diminish. Torn between keeping to her duties and comforting a mother-to-be, Rowena sets the items upon the foot of the bed with a sigh.
"You mustn't fret, so." She insists gently. The hem of her gown whispers as it brushes over the floor. Coming to perch at Dianna's side, she places her nose just inches before the other. "Not everyone is who they seem. Many things of confusion and regret have happened in Fastheld these past months. We must simply remember to keep to our wits and pray." A silken thumb wipes away one of Dianna's tears, careful to not tear her parchment-thin skin.
"Althea has been my closest, and one of my only friends since I went to Vozhdya," Dianna says softly. "I grieve for I sold her out, even if she is Touched. If she is Touched, then the stories of the Shadow-Touched are wrong, because Althea is one of the kindest, warmest souls I have ever known. She's the only one who supported me for so long..." Dianna's voice trails off, unhappiness written all over her face. "The Light will be kind... and let Althea live on."
"If the Light wills it so, then she shall." Rowena murmurs, then draws her hand away from Dianna's face and stands to cross the room. She rolls back her sleeves, a low hum forming in her throat. A melancholy tune with small lilt of hope at the end of the notes. She submerges the rag into the hot water, flesh tingling in response to the heat. The rag wheezes in her squeezing grip, dribbling forth excess water.
"Do not blame yourself for her misfortune. Truth will unveil itself in time, just as it has to set you free."
Dianna Lomasa nods her head slowly, "I only long to be with my husband once again, and away from all of this. If I never take a step near Fastheld Keep again, I shall be happy. East Leg is my home, and that is where I wish to return to... that or to Light's Reach... How is Master Fionnlagh? It has been many months since I have heard word of him..."
Master? Rowena arches a brow as she addresses the forester friend so generously. "He is well." She assures her and returns bedside. "He's had much luck in hunting lizards, though suffered a bite or two of his own." Encouraging the conversation's topic change with a managed smile, she sweeps back a few more strands of Dianna's hair from her face, then touches the warm and damp cloth to her forehead. "Don't worry such on well being of others, this day. We must focus on reviving your own body first."
Dianna Lomasa smiles a little bit again, "It is the only way I made it through those terrible months. If I had worried for myself, and helping myself, I would have died within the first month. My love, worry for others helped. I would not want my husband to suffer more because he could not help me, and I died in the dungeons..."
"Think not on that. He shall be elated to see you again." Rowena insists with a touch of firmness in her voice. Her hands pause in their work, lifting to fix her own hair behind her ears. "What sort of things had you to eat these past months?" She inquires, readied to draw forth a list of remedies for poor nutrition.
"Bread," Dianna says, wrinkling her nose. "Bad water. I long for a cup of warm tea, and some stew," she adds with a sigh. "It has been many months since I could eat something that is not old, and hard."
There is a muffled knocking upon the door leading to Out.
"Only bread?" Rowena presses, a line of worry forming over her brow as she glances to the swell of Dianna's abdomen. Before she can speak however, another knocks from outside. Folding the damp cloth over in her hands, but not leaving her station at her patient's side....
Rowena Mikin yells, "Enter!"
Arturo Lomasa arrives from Southwest Tower Top
Dianna Lomasa nods her head, her hand resting lightly against the growing abdoment, a soft sigh escaping her lips. She is sitting with Rowena on the bed, looking a bit worried.
"Come on, step aside, man, step aside" comes the impatient growl of a very familiar voice. Nothing like following an aged porter up an endless stairwell to make an agitated man even more agitated. It's a rather different Arturo that steps in though, then either last saw, clad from head to toe in armor of shining silver, emblazoned with his own personal crest. As the door swings open at his push, a half dozen men in leather armor, horsemen and archers, can be seen shuffling for position as the aged porter tries to reach the stairwell again, before the most senior of them pulls the door back closed behind their Baron. "Rowena, is she well?" The worried question comes even before he's made it through the door to see matters, quick eyes darting to seek his sister's location.
Eyes betraying slight bewilderment at the well-armed arrival, as well as the throng that gathers outside, Rowena toys with the rag in her hands and answers with as plain an expression as she can muster. "She is alive, and shall remain so, but I have not yet had a chance to examine her." Indeed, her supplies are for the most part untouched.
Offering Dianna a chance to speak for herself, she rises from the bed and noiselessly crosses the room to the wash basin. The rag is left to soak within before she paces back to the foot of the bed. Her fingers select two of the pouches, lifting each to her nose for approval. Satisfied that they are suitable, Rowena returns to the bucket of water.
"Arturo!" Dianna struggles to her feet, hastily moving across the distance, hugging her brother tightly. "I'm safe, Brother," she murmurs. "Alive, and safe, though terribly sore in my heart," she sighs, hugging Arturo tightly.
Arturo Lomasa glances to Rowena, offering a briefly thankful look before setting his attention wholly on his sister. As she approaches, he takes a moment to discard silver helmet and gauntlets, then slips to a knee to embrace his more diminutive sister tightly, kissing her cheek and burying his face against her neck, tears starting to fall unashamed. "Oh Dianna....I've been fighting so hard...I've missed you so much. You look terrible...but so very good." One hand strokes her hair lightly, the other remaining wrapped about her to hold her to him as tight as he dares hug a pregnant woman. "I love you, diadem."
Rowena casts them both a slight frown as Dianna lurches herself out of bed, but she chastises not. Keeping her attentions as focused on her work as she can, the healer pulls back the cloth from the bucket's top, releasing a billow of steam. She closes her eyes against the rush of heat and backs up until she can snag her satchel with her toe. Pulling it closer, she retrieves a small, wooden cup from with, as well as a spoon.
Dianna Lomasa is crying right along with her brother, hugging Arturo tightly, "I love you too, Tury," she murmurs, trembling slightly from standing. "So much has happened... I am still a little weak from being in the cell for so long, I am afraid..."
Arturo Lomasa braces, and makes the effort of lifting his little sister from her feet, and for the moment it matters little what the pregnant woman weighs as he carries her back to the bed. "I'm sorry, Dianna....I wish I could have done something to spare you this...kept you safe..." A pause, and he moves to sit, setting her smaller form on his lap if she doesn't object. "Did you get my letter? I sent a courier ahead...." Another pause and he adds. "I sent word to Damiante and Laeria....we'll probably have visitors. But I told them you'd be at my Keep if we could leave here.
"Not yet." Rowena interjects softly from her side of the room. Her back remains facing them, but her ears keep alert. "I want to administer a few things first, lest she worsen along the ride. The weather is still frightfully cold."
Folding her legs comfortably beneath her, Rowena takes seat on the floor, and her gown creates a rippling of forest green around her. She unties one of the pouches and dips the cup into the hot water. When it is sufficiently filled, she takes a pinch of the contents and sprinkles them inside. She adds granules and leaves from another pouch.
Dianna Lomasa sits comfortably against her brother, nodding to Rowena, "As soon as my healer says I can leave, I want to," she murmurs. "I want to leave this terrible place and never return, if possible. It has all been too much for me..."
Arturo Lomasa encourages the lean, casting a glance to Rowena for a moment, acknowledging her presence more. "I understand, Rowena....and thank you. You've been one of the finest friends either of us could ask throughout this. You have my deep gratitude and affection for it." One hand continues to lightly stroke through Dianna's hair, searching out and delicately undoing tangles in the process, and he murmurs. "Too much for us both. Though worse for you. If not for Rowena and Laeria and Damiante, I might have lost all hope. Or taken a foolish course. They have each been a true friend."
"I am only slow to condemn, is all." Rowena murmurs for sake of humility, though her lips do curl slightly in pride as the water turns an appropriate color. She lets the contents soak, releasing their properties while she knots the little packets closed again. Her fingers work with nimble speed, and soon she is tucking the bound herbs into the satchel. A very faint smell carries through the air on bed of diminishing steam as the water cools. She stirs the mixture slowly, pressing the leaves against the sides of the cup to extract the juices.
Dianna Lomasa smiles slightly, nods her head, "Nevertheless, thank you, Your Grace," she says softly. "You have done so much for my brother, and me. I do not know what we could have done without you."
"If more were, my sister would not have gone through so much, Your Grace." He echoes Dianna, then sighs, squeezing her again. "I'm just glad you're alive, diadem. We'll go home when Rowena says you're ready."
"I am glad they set you free." Is all Rowena says for now. She lets brother and sister enjoy each other's company for awhile as she finishes her work. A third packet is pulled from the bag, in addition to a pair of grinding stones. She shakes a bit of crumbled brown and gray substance onto one stone, then begins to twist and grind the second over the top, pulverizing the final ingredient. Her hair slips over her raise shoulder in the act, forming a blind over the side of her face.
Dianna Lomasa nods her head, "Yes, I don't care where we go, as long as it is not here..." she says softly. "Or the home of our Uncle... I do not know how he will react to such news. He will most likely believe I have brought the Surrector under my command... I still fear many, Tury."
"We're going home....River Turn. Where I can keep you under my care. And Duchess Rowena's as well, if she is willing to visit and see to you?" He directs this question slightly Rowena's way, before clenching his jaw at the last words. "I have disowned Sinon to his face....we will not be visiting him again. Nor he us where I have anything to say of it."
Rowena's actions pause long enough for her to peek over her shoulder in confirmation. "I will be checking upon Dianna's health many times before the child arrives." Facing the bucket again, she rests the grinding stone on her satchel and rubs some of the powder onto her fingertips before lifting it to the light for inspection. The water has now cooled substantially, in the cup, to a lukewarm temperature. It would allow for some of the powder to bind with the other ingredients. Or so the notes did read.
Dianna Lomasa nods her head slowly, "Thank you, Your Grace..." she murmurs softly, before pausing, hesitating. "What news of Adaer?" she asks slowly. She drops her eyes down, hugging her brother closer, a soft sigh escaping her lips.
Arturo Lomasa grimaces at that last name, but forces some of it from him to continue hugging and stroking Dianna. "There is no news of Adaer." he responds, managing a neutral flatness but not a gentle tone. "I left word with his brother for him to face me, and he has returned me no answer. So I have taken my time with more important individuals than that fool. I shall have to speak with his uncle eventually as well."
Rowena keeps silent on that note, pretending to be totally absorbed in the task at hand. She lowers her hand from the light's spray and brushes it off into the bucket. Perfect. With great caution and balance, she tips the stone over the cup. Bit by bit, the soft granules tumble in. They do not totally dissolve, to her contentment. With the thin spoon, she stirs it further and plucks out the leaves, discarding them into the bucket as well. As some of the concoction thickens, she removes a precise amount of water. The end result is a very potent, mushy substance. A little more watery than porridge, but nowhere near the consistency of tea.
Dianna Lomasa nods her head slowly, her eyes dropping down, a small unhappy frown settling over her lips, "I see..." she murmurs. "I would have thought he would have had the decency, at least to worry over the condition of his child..." she says softly. "No matter, I will not let him touch it when it born anyway. He would be a horrible influence."
Rowena chooses to interrupt the conversation now. Rising from the floor, she shrinks the pool of green velvet that had formed around her and cups the drink tightly between her palms. Interlacing her fingers around it, she approaches Dianna and Arturo. "After this has entered your system, I shall release you to travel homeward." She announces softly and offers it to Dianna. A tiny sparkle emerges in her eyes and she pivots to reach for the brush. "After, of course, we can dignify your appearance again."
A soft laugh escapes Dianna's lips as she nods her head, "Yes, Your grace," she murmurs, nodding her head to Rowena. "Thank you for all of your help. You have done so much, and are truly a wonderful person."
Arturo Lomasa offers Rowena a beaming smile as Dianna laughs, and a look of gratitude. He grins softly at his sister, studying her eyes. "Shall I leave you two ladies alone to get presentable, or shall I remain, sister? And you are indeed a wonderful person, Your Grace."
Rowena humbly lowers her lashes to the compliments, and a tiny grin tugs helplessly at her cheeks. "I simply follow the just and merciful path." She comments, and continues holding the medicinal cup until Dianna takes it from her. She finds the polished handle of the boar-bristle brush with a blind hand and the nods to Dianna. "If you will swallow as much of this as you can, then I shall work to free your locks."
Dianna Lomasa nods her head, "Stay, Tury, it has been many months since I have seen you," she says firmly, before taking the cup, sniffing at it warily, before sipping slowly. "What is it?"
"Something that will jar the life back into you for several hours." Rowena replies. "It will help you to begin internal healing. And for the child." She scoots on her knees around Dianna to her back so that she may begin work on the hair. "There is another feast this night at Hawk's Aerie I may be expected to appear. And tomorrow's eve brings a dire event I must attend in Light's Reach." She pauses, picking at a knot until the bristles comb smoothly through it. "Therefore I take my leave of you when I am through here.
Arturo Lomasa nods to Rowena's words. "I will likely not attend, unless Dianna wishes to risk so much movement so soon, which I should advise against. But Damiante knows where I am, so she will understand. Just two nights ago I was at the guest lodge to see the Lord Chancellor about visiting Dianna....Damiante and Laeria and the other Scourge wished to join me....Laeria will still come, but I am hopeful her Ray mentor will see no further need. He is not an ill man, perhaps, but very dour. Did you tell Dianna you'd taken over West Bluff, Your Grace?"
"May the Light shine upon you, Your grace," Dianna says softly. "Let me take up no more of your time..." she then turns to look at Arturo, "May I rest a little before we leave for home? It has been a trying day for me."
Arturo Lomasa nods gently, smiling at his sister. "Of course, diadem. Rest a bit, and I will see the retainers make arrangements."
"Nay, it hadn't come up in conversation." Rowena replies to Arturo, then pauses in grooming Dianna's hair. She places the brush upon the bed, leaving it for her to keep. "Very well, dear," She murmurs, and slips off the other side of the bed. "But see to it that you finish the mixture before you leave." She warns with a smile of understanding. "I set you free to the hands of your brother. I shall visit soon enough, perhaps in a few days time." Sinking back to her satchel, she packs her supplies.
"Thank you, Your grace," Dianna says quietly, continuing to sip at the mixture. She eyes the brush, running her fingers through her hair carefully, a soft sigh escaping, before she sets the cup down, slipping to the side to curl up in the bed.
Arturo Lomasa offers Rowena another grateful look. "Thank you, Your Grace...I have meant three times to stop at West Bluff and greet you, but each time matters have arisen. Perhaps Dianna and I shall come together when we can." He reaches to draw a blanket over Dianna as she curls up, standing carefully to gather his helmet and gloves from the floor to a more proper resting place on a table. "I hope...that you still count me a friend, Rowena? I should like the chance, if the Light grants, to meet you on more pleasant circumstances when things have settled. I still owe you a dance, after all." He grins just slightly, remembrance of their drunken stumble coming to mind.
Arturo Lomasa considers, then adds. "If you go to the feast, please take Damiante aside when you can, and tell her how Dianna fares, and that I send my love and will be taking Dianna home to River Turn."
Rowena loops the strap over her shoulder and straightens out with a final glance around the room to ensure she hadn't left anything. The water remained, but she would wish to cleanse again before leaving. Servants would clean it, if not. Another night would come to pass before she could allow herself to slumber.
Inhaling deeply, Rowena takes a few steps to the door, then halts. She offers Arturo a nod at his request, serenity having overridden the tiredness on her brow. "There are no grounds upon which I may forget you as a friend, thus you still stand such." She replies with a twitch of a smile. "And yes...you do owe me a dance." Facing the door now, she closes the distance to it and pulls it slightly open. A final time, her eyes gaze to the side, focusing on Dianna. "Light keep until I see you again." She murmurs, and then slips out in a quiet rustle of cloth.