- It is said - primarily by the proprietor, a jovial merchant-classer named Solas Creek - that all roads in Fastheld lead to the Lightholder Tavern. On any given night, it's not hard to see why he might justify such a claim.
- The pub, which started centuries ago as a small refreshment wagon for laborers building Fastheld Keep atop Caryas Hill, sees boisterous crowds filling its rafters with laughter and pipe smoke at all hours of the day and night as travelers make their way through the realm.
- About three dozen tables are arranged among the polished wooden columns on which hang the wrought-iron lanterns that help give the tavern its name. Solas or one of his assistants can usually be found working behind a wide C-shaped counter, serving mugs of keg-tapped ale to thirsty patrons who stand at the bar.
- The floor is strewn with amber rushes, except in a circle of about twenty feet in diameter, where the stone fireplace and chimney rise toward the ceiling.
"Lord Captain, please, join us," Varal insists, motioning for another glass to be brought to the table. Two tankards of wine, one red and the other glossy star, rest in front of the three nobles, though most of the red is gone.
Lump pads around in a circle before settling on its haunches.
"Certainly! Much thanks, gentlemen, and lady," Norran seems as if he's about to kneel down infront of Mirabelle, but Thayndor's glance gives him second thoughts. He decides to pull up a chair near Varal, taking a firm share of wine as his guards go to sit at a nearby table.
Mirabelle withdraws her extended hand, and uses it to nudge her papers into a neater pile, as though that were what she meant to do all along. Seeing as introductions are not forthcoming, she sits back down.
The door to the Lightholder is pushed open, and Demetrius enters, brushing a bit of roadside dust from his doublet as he enters, and tossing a lock of hair out of his face to scan the room once.
"My lady Mirabelle, this is Lord Captain Norran Lomasa," Thayndor explains with a gesture. "Lord Captain, the Lady Mirabelle Vozhd-Kahar." He smiles politely and pushes out the last remaining chair. "Please join us if you'd like. The Lord Mikin has been gracious enough to purchase the first round of wine for the evening. I was about to offer the second."
"'Tis a pleasure, Viscount. A glass of wine can do more than even a pen, sometimes," Varal jokes on the cliche that's been mentioned at least once tonight. He takes another sip from his glass, though obviously a slow drinker - he's not going to become inebriated amongst present company.
The Lomasa, though, gives no harsh looks to abundant wine. He drinks easily, and deeply, seeming tolerant of it. He looks over to Mirabelle with a grin, "Honored to meet you, M'lady Mirabelle," he speaks, then looks over to Thayndor, then Varal, then back to Thayndor. "Very odd, Viscount. I never knew you personally knew the Lord Captain. One might think you'd mention you personally knew the very man your cousin quarrels with."
Demetrius passes by on his way to the counters, noting the presence of the nobles with a look, a smile and a bow as he passes them on his way.
Mirabelle dips her head politely to the Lomasa, murmuring, "The pleasure is all mine..." She reaches for her glass, twirling the stem between her fingers as she holds it against her lips, inhaling the bouquet
"I hadn't met him personally until just tonight," Thayndor says to Norran. He smiles mischievously and adds, "and besides, one should not bring one's quarrels needlessly to public places." Thayndor turns to Mirabelle. "Have you sent your first letter to the Emperor, my lady?"
Varal Mikin smiles in an almost threatening manner at Norran. "The conflict between Tomassa Zahir and myself is over, honor is satiated. To say we have a quarrel is to discuss the past. The Zahir-Mikin feud is over. No one at this table are enemies," the Mikin explains, though maybe not that convincingly. He's quick to change the subject. "My dear Captain, I notice that you are currently without a sword. If you're awaiting for one to be finished, you can feel free to borrow a blade from my armory." Cook Yokol Greengrass accepts your money in exchange for the item which is placed on the counter.
"Assuming quarrels are a bad thing," idly comments Norran, seeming to take no meaning of anger or apology in the matter. "Without quarrels, I'd honestly say I'd have to stop jousting due to boredom," the Lomasa laughs to himself, quickly returning to his wine, before looking over to Varal with an almost frighteningly bright smile. "Really, Lord Captain? I am in need of a rapier...Master Smith Kolenko is currently forging my armor and blades. I'd /very/ much like that, Sir, thank you /very/ /much/." Sure, the guy emphasizes his words a bit too often, but maybe that's just the wine.
Mirabelle nods, looking down at her papers, "Oh yes," she replies, "I am working on other letters, now... but are any of you hungry?" She picks up her purse, and fishes a few coins out. She looks around the room, her dark gaze resting on Demetrius. Lifting a finger in the air she calls, "Young man! Could you fetch us some stew, please?" She takes a slow sip of wine, the liquid giving her cheeks a cherry hue.
Lump wags its tail.
"For my part, I could eat an entire deer," Thayndor agrees. He allows Norran and Varal to handle their business, his attention focused on Mirabelle. He smirks at her call to Demetrius, and allows the expression to linger. He follows her gaze to the man, as if waiting to see what happens next.
Demetrius raises his brows slightly when he realizes that it is he whom Mirabelle is talking to, but smiles readily as he bows with a flourish. "Your wish is a gentleman's command, M'lady," he answers the request that he might otherwise do off with a shrug. he claps his hand and procures four dishes of stew from Master Creek, and, leaving his own glass of wine behind, maneuvers all four to the table in an act of daring dish acrobatics. Once there, he puts all four bowls down, and steps back with a bow and a roguish smile. "May it satiate your hunger, Mylady," he speaks, looking at Mirabelle with his rugged smirk. "And may it draw an even livelier colour to your cheeks."
Varal Mikin blinks at Demetrius, shaking his head with a slight grin as he takes a sip of his wine. "One ought to be careful what he says to a noble lady, especially in view of her company," he chides lightly, obviously happy to have some stew in front of him. He turns to the Lomassa Lord. "And 'twould be a pleasure to loan you a rapier, my good Captain."
"Much thanks, indeed!" chimes the Lomasa, though eyeing Demetrius a moment at his address to Mirabelle. He looks blankly at the man for a moment, before grinning widely. "About time old Solas started to hire some good people!"
Mirabelle reaches up to touch her cheek, which floods with a pink tinge that nearly matches the rosy lace of her gloves. She looks away quickly, and reaches into her purse, drawing out some coins and handing them to the acrobat.
Thayndor Zahir evaluates Demetrius, nonplussed. "Odd," he observes. "I had always thought that the phrase 'common sense' derived from commoners posessing a sort of intuitive wisdom." Thayndor hmms. "Perhaps I was mistaken." The noble flips an Imperial in Demetrius' direction and waves dismissively. "For your quick service. Now run along, my boy."
Varal Mikin chuckles lightly at Thayndor and Mirabelle's reaction. He digs into his stew, keeping decent manners, and is quiet for the most part.
Demetrius only smiles, and bows again, with a flourish of his hand before straightening out again. "I would not know why a compliment to a young lady should be out of place, when beauty has graced her so evidently, mylord," he sas to Varal, befor cocking his head at Thayndor. "And you mylord, misjudge me greatly. You speak of common sense. Well, according to common sense 'Boy' the address to someone barely outgrown of his first gown. It strikes me as odd to hear such from one masking his youth with a beard." He bows again, the smirk never leaving his mouth. "Do as you please, but please do not refer as 'boy' to your elders."
Norran Lomasa's eyebrow raises at Demetrius' comments, squinting at the man as he glances between Varal and Thayndor. He then focuses on Varal, and asks, "Lord Captain, I don't suppose you have more than one blade I may borrow untill we can meet for that rapier? I'd like to make sure my travel back north goes without fail."
Lump wags its tail.
At the beginning of Demetrius's speech, Mirabelle cannot help but smile, for it is a rare lady that can resist smiling at a proffered compliment on her beauty. As Demetrius's speech continues, however, her smile fades and is replaced by a look of quiet alarm, as she turns her head to look at Thayndor, her dark eyes widening, to see how he takes it.
Thayndor Zahir's eyes gleam coldly. "For one so long out of his first gown, commoner, you speak with no more intelligence than a child," The young noble returns. "You come dangerously close to insulting your betters." He smiles thinly; it is a mirthless gesture. "Leave now and I may, for the sake of the lady who's beauty you so correctly described, forgive your intrusion." He leaves the other consequence unsaid, deigning at this point to bring his wineglass to his lips. He does not even bother to make eye contact with the other man.
Thayndor Zahir's other hand very casually slides the velvet of his cloak aside at his hip, revealing the gold hilt of a rapier. He rests a languid hand against the gilded metal, drumming his fingers against it idly.
Varal Mikin slides a sabre out of a loop in his belt, spinning it lazily, and sliding it across the table to the Lomasa. "Of course, Captain. I hope you shan't need it." He smiles at Norran briefly before turning to the Zahir. "Calm, Viscount. No need to shed blood here." Slowly, he turns to stand and face Demetrius. "Nonetheless, 'tis not your place to be talking so to a peer of the realm. Apologize." Just as Thayndor rests his hand on his blade, Varal places his hand on a greatsword sized hilt.
"A nice cattleprod there at your side, mylord," Demetrius says amusedly, his brows lifting over his greyish green eyes as he continues to smirk at Thayndor. "Far be it from me to insult my betters, mylord. But wherein /you/ would be better than I, I cannot see." He lifts his hands at Varal, and dips his head. "No need, Lord Captain, no need. To you, and to the Lady -- should she be offended -- I apologize... for that is your title, if I overheard correctly. The very same that crossed the Lioness, I think? Yes, the description fits." Anotehr smirk crawls over his features. "They speak of that day all the way to Road's End, I hear."
The Lomasa accepts the sabre with a respectful bow of the head. "Thank you muchly. You'll get it back soon, I promise," speaks Norran to Varal with a grin, as he sets the sabre down to hang from his belt.
Mirabelle stares at Demetrius for a moment, the flickering flames of the fire casting a glow on her surprised face. Her lips part slightly, but she remains silent, at a loss for words. She glances up sidelong at Thayndor, then over at Varal, then back at Demetrius again.
"I am the Viscount Thayndor Zahir, commoner," the young noble replies, moving to rise. "And should you continue this foolish line of talk, my face will be the last thing you see." His hand rests firmly on the hilt of his sword now. "This is your final warning."
Lee arrives from Lightholder Crossroads
Varal Mikin blinks at Demetrius, and then frowns. His eyes narrow dangerously as he chooses his words carefully. "If you wish to insult me, do so at your own peril. If you're so interested at meeting someone on the dueling field, I am more than willing. Unlike with the Contessa, the contents of your veins seem to belong to the soil of Fastheld. I have no qualms about tearing a man limb from limb," Varal says icily, paying no heed to the Zahir. "I doubt that you'd last more than even a blow against the Lioness."
Lee walks into with a tired look on his face and slinks over to the bar and into a seat and waves down the bartender for a drink Cook Yokol Greengrass accepts Lee's money in exchange for the item which is placed on the counter.
Lee lets off a slight sigh as he takes a gulp of his ale
"I? Insult you, Lord Captain? Far be it from me." Demetrius lifts his hands defensively, but never without his smile. "You did me no wrong, and I do not seek to wrong you either. It is a pitiable fact that rumour spreads quickly in the realm and reaches unfortunate proportions the further it gets from its origin. As before, to you I apologize." He turns back to Thanydor Zahir, and bows elaborately before putting his hand on the handguard of his rapier as though to rest it there. "Viscount Thanydor Zahir," he repeats. "An honour to make your illustrious acquaintance, I am sure. I am called Demetrius da Voe; though landless, I am not without honour, and I consider your behaviour to be untolerable, Viscount." All of this in the most amiable tones imaginable, and ever with a smile.
Lump wags its tail.
Norran Lomasa keeps his seated, sitting back and just listening to the happening at the table, looking over to Mirabelle every so often.
Lee quietly raises his brow slighty listening into the arugement while drinking his ale
Mirabelle opens her fan with a loud snap, revealing a pattern of pink roses on a blue background. She begins fanning herself rather rapidly, the breeze from the fan causing the little wisps around her forehead to undulate. Her cheeks are flushed rouge with embarassment, and her lashes are lowered, veiling her eyes.
Thayndor Zahir smiles coolly. "Were you posessed of honor, *commoner*, you would have known your place and withdrew when I gave you the opportunity. Your appraisal of my lady Mirabelle was correct - she is as stunning a woman as can be found in Fastheld. It was not, however, your place to say so, landless one. You were given the opportunity more than once to redeem yourself and failed to do so." There is the rasp of metal on leather as he begins to draw his rapier. His eye falls on Mirabelle, then glances back to Demetrius. "It is improper to fight in front of a lady." His steel slams home again. "but I will continue this lesson in manners. Outside. Now."
Varal Mikin inclines his head in agreement with the Zahir. "You have an interesting choice of words for one who does not wish to offend," Mikin analyzes. "A polite tongue saves a sword at dawn. Though it almost pains me to say it, I would be honored to serve as your second, Viscount."
Demetrius bows deeply. "Your rashness betrays your youth, Viscount," he quips, then straightens and brushes his hair back. "As you wish: outside then. You will excuse the lack of a second, but to call on one would take time that your hurt pride would not allow me. But, onwards! We shall settle this with a play of steel." And the commoner with the uncommon attitude moves on and out.
Lightholder Crossroads A small village has sprouted on the edge of the Lightholder River where the cobblestone roads from Fastheld's other prominent districts intersect, in the shadow of Caryas Hill and the majestic gray silhouette of Fastheld Keep - the seat of power for the entire realm.
Sutlers, traveling performers and other small-time merchants ply their trades along this main crossroads - competing for space with carriages hauling passengers, couriers rushing important communiques from one district to another, and the soldiers of the Emperor's Blades who regularly patrol the area.
On the northwest corner of the intersection, next to the road that twists north toward Lightholder Bridge and the palace, sits a large tavern and inn where weary travelers can refresh themselves.
Thayndor Zahir arrives from Lightholder Tavern.
Varal Mikin arrives from Lightholder Tavern.
Lee arrives from Lightholder Tavern.
Lee quietly walks out of the Inn after a minute passes and idly watches leaning slighty on the Taverns wall
Thayndor Zahir stands several paces away from the entrance to Lightholder Tavern. He loosens his cloak, then unclasps it and offers it to his second who is - oddly enough - Varal. His other hand draws his rapier. "Make yourself ready," he challenges Demetrius.
Varal Mikin takes the proffered cloak from Thayndor, and takes a step back. "Bleed the commoner scum," the Mikin mutters encouragingly to the Zahir.
A pair of soldiers clad in the armor of the Emperor's Blades, on their nightly patrol rounds, step off the Lightholder Bridge and turn toward the crossroads and the tavern. One looks to the other after noting the cluster of noblemen. "At this hour, can't be good," he grumbles. His comrade nods, saying, "Like as not, all drunk, the lot of 'em. C'mon, then." And they start walking that way.
Demetrius has, as of now, not drawn blank. Instead, he looks towards Varal, and, with another bow, says, "I wish to note that I do not agree with the place and time of this duel," he says, "but I do believe I fall on deaf ears with it. I simply ask that you confirm to my words later, however." Then he looks to Thayndor. "What terms, Viscount? First, Second, Third Blood?"
Thayndor Zahir arches an eyebrow, his rapier still up. "You do not agree with the place and time? Name another, and I will open you then." He smiles coolly. "Perhaps it will allow you time enough to realize the error of your ways. I am not a cruel man." His eyes glint under the light of many moons, and he lets his rapier tip drop somewhat.
"Your wishes are duly noted, da Voe," Varal responds. "Though it seems that the Viscount is happy to arrange another time." He pauses a moment, smirking slightly. "I must say, your surname is a strange one, especially for a commoner with delusions of grandeur." From the dangerous gleam in the moonlight that are Varal's eyes, one can guess at what he's stabbing at.
"Right," one of the Bladesmen says as he and his companion arrive near the nobles. "What's all this, then?" His companion rests a hand on the hilt of a steel shortsword. Chill rain splatters the cobblestones and trickles in rivulets down the helmets and armor plates. "Trouble flagging down a carriage, m'lords?"
Demetrius shrugs one shoulder, resting his hand on the handguard of his still sheathed sword. "Your answer comes in a Blades' armour," he calls across to Thayndor just before the Bladesmen enter the scene, to which he offers a dipping nod of his head. "Good evening," he greets them, smiling sweetly. "His Lordship the Viscount and I are having an argument of the adamant kind. I must beg your pardon, but his pride is so riled he sought to fight me in the middle of the road. I profess, I am not without guilt in't, but disagree with the current circumstances."
Thayndor Zahir slides his rapier back into its scabbard with practiced grace. He inclines his head to Demetrius. "The commoner's assessment is understated, but correct. Cooler heads having prevailed, a more proper place and time will be discussed." Thayndor's tones are clipped and formal.
"Bloody well right to disagree," the Bladesman grunts, narrowing his eyes as he looks from Demetrius to Thayndor. "Beggin' your pardon, m'lords, but if you've got quarrels to settle, keep 'em down south where they belong. His Majesty don't stand for petty brawls and duels in the Palace District. We aim to keep order 'round these parts."
Varal Mikin slowly raises his hood over his head, to keep the rain from his eyes. Seeing the situation slowly calm, he hands the cloak towards Thayndor, offering the Blades a polite nod. "Well then, gentlemen, unless honor is satiated, you need a date and locale."
Lee lets off a slight frown as he realizes there will not be a duel and brushes some raindrops off his tunic before walking back into the Tavern
Lee heads into Lightholder Tavern.
Demetrius inclines his head to the Blades, smiling winningly. "Of course, Master Bladesman. That is what we shall do." He lifts his hand, and makes a dismissive gesture. "I suggest your domain, mylord, on Shadowwatch one week hence. Does that sound agreeable to your Lordship?"
Thayndor Zahir sniffs. "Quite. Arrive in Hedgehem a week and three days hence to recieve your due comeuppance." He slides his cloak about his shoulders and clasps it, then turns for the tavern again. "Honor will be satisfied."
Demetrius bows with a flourish of his hand. "If your Lordship says it will, then it surely will be so," he responds, and straightens away. The smirk haunting the corner of his lips as he turns away suggests that he is entirely confident of his abilities so far as this duel is concerned.
Varal Mikin offers the Blades another slight nod. "Thank you, men, for your assistance." He grimaces slightly at the mention of Hedgehem, and turns to head back into the tavern. He pauses to yawn. "Though the hour grows late, I may return to Light's Reach."
The Bladesmen stand nearby, watching to make sure the crowd does indeed disperse peacefully.
Thayndor Zahir does not respond to Demetrius, and disappears inside the tavern again.