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CHAPTER 6Edit

The evening of Whistlewind 29, 626 A.T.A.

Common Room <Lost Hope Inn>


(Indoors) (Cover: Fair)

In stark contrast to this inn's somber title, the interior seems bright, cheerful, and frequently full of people. Perhaps because this establishment lies so close to the Palace District border, its denizens are not so wont to be overcome with the general depression that afflicts a large portion of the Shadow District's other residents.

Entertainers often attempt to earn their keep up on the common room's central stage, and others relax over wine and ale on cushioned chairs beside the wide hearth.



Aughol Zahir enters the Inn, flanked by his guard who is seeming a bit sickly. He moves to the bartender, frowning slightly. "Where is Miss Balsam?"

Chaori Balsam calls down the stairs, "I am here, Baron. I am sorry. Would someone please at least come help me for a minute?"

Aughol Zahir glances towards the stairs, nodding as he waves for the guard. "Coming, Miss Balsam."

The guard downstairs actually seems to be recovering.

Chaori Balsam repeats from up the stairs, "Thank you, your lordship. In a way, it is fitting that it should be you."

Aughol Zahir raises an eyebrow as he ascends the stairs, followed by the guard. "And why is that?" He inquires, frowning slightly.

Chaori Balsam is struggling with the corpse of the less skilled guard you assigned to her. "He just didn't respond to treatment at all," she says sadly.

Aughol Zahir frowns as he hears her word, before looking to the guard. "I... I am sure you did all you could."

Chaori Balsam bows her head. Silently, she nods.

Aughol Zahir shakes his head slowly. "So, it was the pox? I suppose I underestimated the danger..."

Chaori Balsam replies, "The dark pox does not always respond well to treatment. The mispreserved batch of herbs I accidentally used this morning certainly didn't help."

Aughol Zahir sighs, nodding once more. "Indeed. Would you like a replacement?" HIs eyes linger on the body.

Chaori Balsam sighs too. "A Marshal Nepos of the Blades is supposed to be arriving, if his duties ever permit it. Of the two other guards you left here, I think one has recovered. I've got the other one in bed upstairs, but he's doing as well as could be expected."

Tahnin has long since been left alone by his healthier partners, who have since gone off to greener pastures where they aren't likely to keep over and die. And, thus, the man is busy keeping to himself and wandering about, much like a caged animal.

Aughol Zahir nods his head. "Very well... Is there any other way I can assist you?" He asks, frowning slightly.

Chaori says to Aughol, "He needs to be cremated, of course. Bury the ashes in stone, not just earth. I cannot carry a letter to the Lightholder courier. If you're willing to do so, I'll write one to the Chancellor."

Aughol Zahir's expression seems to grow graver, as he finally shifts his eyes fully to Chaori. "Miss Balsam... Have you..." He stops there, blinking a few times.

Chaori Balsam gives Aughol a sad, reassuring smile. "It is a hazard of the profession. I could be much worse. I've had to leave downstairs to itself and stay up here."

The thug/mercenary/whatever pauses at the sight of the conversing pair, and the guard being hauled off. The man stares for a moment, seeming slightly more tired than usual (which says much, considering he always looks to be on the verge of falling asleep).

Aughol Zahir sighs, nodding slowly. "Very well... Tell me what you'd like to be said in a letter... I'll write it. Better chance of it actually being read, especially since you're sick... Is there anything else?"

Chaori Balsam thinks. "No, not yet, your lordship. Thank you." Is Tahnin making much noise?

After Tahnin takes a few steps, it becomes fairly obvious that the mere fact that he's standing is somewhat miraculous. And he apparently couldn't keep it up for very long. The man reaches out to try to grab at the wall as he loses his balance to a dizzy spell, and he drops to his knees, squeezing his eyes closed and cursing quietly.

Aughol Zahir glances to Tahnin, taking a few steps back. "He does not look all that great, Miss Balsam."

As she hears the noise, Chaori gently sets the corpse down on the stairs and climbs back up the stairs. Reaching Tahnin's side, she tries to help him to his feet. "Easy now," she says to Tahnin. "Here, lean on me and try to stand."

Tahnin has broken into a sweat, and growls quietly as Chaori approaches and reaches to him. The man rips his helmet off and tosses it to the side. "Shades, what is this?" he demands, looking up to her. "You said you'd make me better."

Chaori Balsam replies, firmly, "I am trying to do just that. Dark pox is difficult to treat. Please, let me help you back to bed. It's time for another dose of herbs anyway."

"Fine...give me the shading herbs. They'd better work," Tahnin grunts, struggling to stand on his own. That attempt fails, and he grudgingly accepts her help. "Why is it so hot?" He's talkative today.

Aughol Zahir watches from a relatively safe distance away, a frown plastered to his face. "Miss Balsam... When you are done, please inform me of just what you'd like sent to the chancellor..."

Chaori Balsam calls over her shoulder, "I will." She tells Tahnin, "You're running a fever, that's why. You need to lie quiet and let your body fight the pox."

"Yeah. Yeah," Tahnin grunts, staggering along. "Fine. Just get me better."

Chaori Balsam helps Tahnin back to his bed. "I'll be back with the medicine in just a bit," she promises. "Lie quiet and rest."

Aughol Zahir glances about uneasily, adjusting the cloak about him as he awaits Chaori's return.

Chaori Balsam returns, but isn't willing to come more than halfway down the stairs. "Do you have parchment, ink and pen?"

Tahnin does as told and lays down, settling in on the bed.

Aughol Zahir shakes his head. "Just tell me the message, I shall deliver it, do not worry."

Chaori Balsam sits on the stairs and composes herself. "Today's date of course."

Aughol Zahir steps back, motioning for the bartender, whom rummages under the bar for writing materials. Scrawling the date, he nods. "Continue."

Chaori Balsam continues, "Your Grace: I apologize for missing the last few days of reports, but I contracted the pox. No one was available to carry a message for me to the Lightholder courier."

Chaori finished dictating the letter. Supposedly, a courier sent a raven with it to Fastheld Keep.

CHAPTER 7Edit

It is the Third hour by the Shadow on Shadowwatch, the 32nd day of Whistlewind in the year 626.

Second Floor <Lost Hope Inn>


(Indoors) (Cover: Fair)

The stairs from below lead up into this maze of hallways which provide access to all of the Lost Hope's many guest rooms. Every available nook and cranny big enough to fit a warm body has been walled-in and converted into a room; in some cases, where there was not even enough room for a full door, a simple curtain provides privacy.

At the rear of the floor, in contrast with the jumble of forward rooms, is a triple set of spacious suites, each containing multiple bedrooms, a private supper room, and a sitting room. They tend to be most frequently used by Blades that are passing through, though nobles and other citizens 'looking for adventure' can on occasion be found there as well.


Burp. Tahnin appears to be a bit gassy this afternoon, but all in all, his condition seems to be improving. Compared to how he was the other day, at least. He's laying out on a spot on the floor in one of the hallways, keeping a grip on his sword and an eye out. Burp.

Chaori Balsam comes down the hall with cups and a big pitcher. That guard of hers is just loosely keeping an eye on things. Theoretically, everyone here is too sick to assault their healer. She eventually reaches Tahnin and kneels next to him. "You look much better today," she says in an encouraging fashion.

Looking up to the approaching healer, a small frown fixes on Tahnin's face. He doesn't answer. Verbally, at least. Though he does burp quietly, the man patting at his short sword hilt.

Chaori Balsam pours out a cup of an herbal infusion. "I know how foul this tastes, but please drink it down anyway." She holds out the cup to Tahnin.

The mercenary gives a long suffering sigh. Why has the Light frowned on him such? It's not like he's a bad person. Well... "What is it?" he asks in a grunt, gingerly taking the cup and frowning into it.

Chaori Balsam replies, "Your medicine. I know precisely how bad it tastes. If I could choke it down, so can you."

Good enough. And it's not like he has all that much a choice. The man gulps it down, blanching when he's done and dropping the cup to the side.

Chaori Balsam scoops up the cup. "You really do seem to be recovering today. You might be well as early as tomorrow. By the way, why are you lying out in the hall? I could have sworn we had some niches with pallets left."

"I like it better," the man answers tersely, fixing his eyes on her. They seem to be almost accusing. "Why do you want me there?"

Chaori says, "It's more comfortable? You'll stay warmer? I won't trip over you?"

"Lots of people in the halls, anyway," Tahnin grunts, laying back down and rolling over. "Walk around."

Chaori Balsam shakes her head. "Trust me, lying out on the bare floor without a blanket isn't doing you any good. No one here will harm you."

"I'll get one later," Tahnin grunts obtusely, closing his eyes. "Go away. Help someone else."

Chaori Balsam walks away for a few minutes. She tiptoes back and tries to shake out a blanket over Tahnin. If she succeeds, he will be covered.

Tahnin turns halfway to direct a scowl at the healer, holding out an arm. "Back away," he tells her flatly. "I don't want a blanket."

Chaori Balsam frowns down at Tahnin. "Maybe I'll just tuck it underneath your head. Then you'll have a pillow and can wrap yourself up later. Would you like that?"

Another long suffering sigh. Maybe if he tithes at a church, or some such...? "Give it, then," he grunts, keeping his hand held out. "I'll do something with it. "

Chaori Balsam gives Tahnin the blanket. "You must be recovering, since you don't appear to be in pain. Anyone dying wouldn't have the energy to be this grumpy."

Tahnin appears to take that as a compliment, the man nodding at the healer and stuffing the blanket under his arm before laying back down.

Chaori Balsam smiles a little at Tahnin. "Are you sure you're comfortable?" "Yes," he sighs, tilting his helm down a bit. "Leave me be. I think I hear someone dying in the other room."

Chaori Balsam comments, "You're probably hearing screams from the Lightholder. Remember, rest." She gets to her feet and goes back to her rounds here. The guard trails after her.


CHAPTER 8Edit

It is the Eleventh hour by the Shadow on Shadowwatch, the 32nd day of Whistlewind in the year 626.

Private Quarters <Fastheld Keep>


(Indoors) (Cover: Fair) (Owner: Talus Kahar)

Soldiers of the Emperor's Blades, at least two but usually more, split shifts at the top of the stairs in this, the most sensitive of all the guarded sectors of the Fastheld realm. Here, the Emperor, Empress and other royals keep their private dwellings.

The long corridor is lined with doors to the rooms of lesser royals, then comes an archway - also guarded - that leads to the palace nursery, where newborn royals are kept by nursemaids in their earliest days, and then the corridor ends at the high wooden doors that open into the Imperial Suite.


Chaori Balsam comes up the stairs, not looking any more rested.

Lucius Nepos stands a few feet away from the chambers of the Emperor, steps down from the main hallway. The guards around the Chamber look rather stricken and seem to be refusing to let anybody in. For now, the Blade simply waits patiently, unspeaking.

Roland slows to a stop a few paces from the Marshal, glancing around as he too waits.

Duhnen emerges from the Imperial Suite a few moments after the Emperor's guard, the man closing the door behind him. He turns to regard those about the hallway, digging his heels in directly in front of the door. "Vacate this hallway," he orders, voice carefully controlled, as if he's holding back a flood of some strong emotion.

Roland glances over to Lucius.

Chaori Balsam says from the stairwell, "Gladly, Surrector. You can take your medicine elsewhere."

Lucius Nepos is not one to question an order from the Surrector, who, as most Blades know holds the rank of Captain in the Blades if he needs to assert his position. However, Lucius also respects Duhnen, and gives him a nod. "Yes sir." He answers, doing an about face and walking down.

Roland follows Lucius as he turns to leave.

Duhnen draws Nameless Light from its scabbard, fixing the tip down on the floor, as much to lean on it for support as to give a message to all arriving the stairs that they should shove off.

Chaori Balsam shrugs. "All you have to do is swallow. If you refuse, I have an immediate appointment with the Chancellor."

Lucius Nepos heads into Rulers Passage. Lucius Nepos has left.

Emmon leans over to Duhnen and says, "You should tell them, Lord Seamel."

Chaori Balsam looks closely at Duhnen - just how sick is he?

Roland heads into Rulers Passage. Roland has left.

[OOC] Duhnen Seamel says, "He's broken out in a sweat."

Duhnen glances to Emmon, considering the guard before responding in a faint nod. "Emmon, if you could send two of your men. One to find the Chancellor. Inform him that his presence is needed here immediately. The other, locate the Assessor. She may be too ill to come, and if that is the case, I will come see her soon."

Chaori Balsam replies, "She is too ill to come. I count myself lucky that I got her up the stairs. Fine, you can use the nasty cup. This will take only a moment."

Looking back to Chaori, Duhnen frowns faintly at her. "You haven't left yet." He reaches to grab the cup away and gulps back the liquid, before handing it back. "It's done. Now, please. There are many who need your help."

Chaori says, "Thank you, Surrector."

Emmon bows his head to the Surrector, then moves toward the stairs and descends.

Or he just knocks on the Chancellor's door.

From Chancellor's Suite, Oren Nillu yells, "Come... in."

Chancellor's Suite <Palace District>


(Indoors) (Cover: Fair) (Owner: Talus Kahar)

A spacious chamber with walls of polished biinwood and arched windows overlooking the courtyard below, this is the room that the Imperial Chancellor calls home.

The room includes a washbasin, a chamber pot that servants frequently replace for cleaning, a wardrobes for clothing, and a four-post bed with an arched white canopy, polished biinwood headboard, thick beige blankets and comfortable fowl-feather pillows. An angled writing table is provided for the chancellor or his vassals to work on correspondence. A bedroll is provided for a vassal to sleep close by the chancellor's vicinity.

High wooden doors lead out into the quarters corridor.


The door opens and Emmon enters the suite, followed by Chaori Balsam.

Chaori Balsam sticks her head in just long enough to say, "I think you get to see me tomorrow, Your Grace. No, wait, I have something for you to swallow."

Oren Nillu is currently abed. A parchment he was reading has been lowered against his chest so he can address the visitor. "Something to swallow, is it? If it will give me more strength, Mistress Balsam, I will welcome it. As much as I value your opinion as a healer, I will not be kept in this bed for too long, even if it means I will fall unconscious somewhere in the palace. I have work to do." He covers his mouth and coughs a few times, a hoarse sound caused by the stirrings of phlegm in his throat. "Pox or no pox."

Chaori Balsam finds a cup and fills it with a nasty-looking liquid from her pitcher. "Work or no work, Chancellor, you'll come far closer to dying if you get out of bed." She brings the cup over to Oren. "Try to get this down in one gulp."

The guard winces at the healer's choice of words, then forces a grim smile and says, "Excuse me a moment." He steps back outside.

"Death comes to us all, Mistress Balsam," Oren explains with a calm smile. "Specially to those of us with one foot already dangling over the edge of time." He takes the cup and sips from it, grimacing. "Lovely concoction. You should've been a cook."

Chaori says, "I think we should all be thankful I'm not a cook."

The potion is truly foul.

Oren Nillu takes another sip from the cup, winces and then rests it on his bedside table. "Indeed, Balsam. Indeed."

Chaori Balsam checks the cup. Is it empty?

No, it is not. "I will finish it during the course of the night," the old man assures. "Unless there is need for me to chug it down? If so, I cannot promise I will keep it all in."

Chaori says, "One gulp is best and no one else has been bringing it back up. Trust me. It's easier that way."

Duhnen steps into the room, the man's face as grim as it is feverish. He regards the bedridden Chancellor, and then the healer. "Mistress, please, if you would leave the room. I will speak to his Grace alone." He steps to the side and gestures to the open door.

"One gulp it is, Mistress Balsam. I will do so soon. Now," Oren says, nodding towards Duhnen, "duty calls. Call on me again on the morrow."

Chaori Balsam warns, "It won't help if you don't," and ducks back out the door.


CHAPTER 9Edit

It is the Second hour by the Shadow on Willowwalk, the 33rd day of Whistlewind in the year 626.

Lightholder Tavern <Palace District>


(Indoors) (Cover: Fair) (Owner: Solas Creek)

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.


Chaori Balsam hurries in from outside.

A man sits in the back of the tavern his clothing all off except for a light tunic and a pair of trousers. Dark boil like spots cover ever inch of the man's exposed skin. His feet are up upon the table in front of him, his head is pointed down at his chest, not really noticing anything that's going on around him. His eyes are closed, his breathing is short, rapid, and his nasal system seems to be mostly clogged.

Chaori Balsam ducks into the kitchen for a moment, after counting the number of sick people. She reappears with one of the big pitchers and a tray of cups. She fills a cup, goes over to the man at death's door and gently tries to wake him. "Wake up," she whispers.

Trenton slowly opens his eyes, only to be startled by the woman that is wakeing him. He soon finds himself falling backwards, for he had forgott his feet were upon the table and the seat now goes flying backwards, landing him flat on his back. Thankfully it was not that big of a fall, he lets out a loud 'oof', "Don't sneak up on me while I'm bloody sleeping..." he says, in a painful sneer.

Chaori Balsam sets the cup down on the table and tries to help Trenton back into his chair. "That's a bad sleeping position," she comments. "It's time for your medicine today, Master Lark. One big gulp and you can go back to sleep."

Trenton allows himself to be helped back up, his eyes squinting from both pain of the pox and his fall. He looks down at the cups and he looks over at her, with a grimace he pulls the strength too him to speak to her, "Last time...it nearly killed me with a bad reaction. Certain people in high positions will not be pleased if this stuff kills me this time."

Chaori Balsam says with a faint twinkle in her blue eyes, "On the other hand, you can cheat them of the pleasure of hanging you. One big gulp, now."

Trenton moves his hand twoards the cup, picking it up, he looks over at her and shakes his head before gulping down the herbal liquids inside of it. He bites his teeth down, after swallowing and lets air come through his teeth, making a 'thhhhhh' sound in doing so. He then replies to her words, "I'm sure they would be very interested to know that you treated me that very day and allowed me to leave the district and told me I was not sick."

Chaori Balsam replies, "The Chancellor already knows that, Master Lark." She's trying to get Trenton to swallow his medicine.

Harper shoves the door open to the tavern, the boy fully armored. He takes half a step in - just enough for the door to close behind him - and observes the room with a distinct look of distaste on what parts of his face aren't covered by the helmet. "Smells like someone horfed up a three week old dead horse in here, right?" he comments to himself.

Trenton sighs after taking his medicine. He nods to the healer, "All hostility aside, Miss Balsam. I appreciate the good you are doing. Please.." he stops, and raches towards his side, where a dagger is located. He reaches towards it, but then past it, and retrieves a coin pouch. "Take these..It's all I can do."

Chaori Balsam smiles down at Trenton. "Are you sure you won't need that? I think you actually are better today."

Tracing his fingers along the head of his steel mace, Harper continues to observe the room and sick people within. "This place is gonna damn well riot soon," he grumbles.

Trenton nods to Chaori and gives her the pouch, a second one still being tied to his belt. "It is not all I have...as I will live...I cannot leave my fiancee alone on this Earth just yet." he says, closing his eyes, ignoring the blade that had just entered the room.

Chaori Balsam says in a soothing voice to Trenton, "Thank you. I appreciate it. I've been buying herbs with - " Then she notices the weight of the purse. "Master Lark, surely this is too much!" She looks briefly at Paelnor. "You should have been here yesterday. Most of the people here left last night."

"Probably getting the whole rest of Fastheld sick," Harper grumps, fixing a frown on Trenton. Yeah, he remembers him. The boy shakes his head and turns around, preparing to leave.

Trenton looks down at his left hand, his thumb completely gone, his eyes glare upon the man's back, as he leaves. Then looking back to the healer he shakes his head, "Please, I would give more if I was in the able, but I be not. So, do not question it, just keep making me feel better, and eventually completely better, and I'll see what I can indeed pay you."

Chaori Balsam soothes with a smile, "That would have paid the bill for half the Shadow District. Then again, renting the entire Lost Hope Inn isn't cheap. I thank you. Everyone there thanks you. Rest now."

Trenton frowns, "Everyone here would rather kill me..." he says, shaking his head, "And the Emperor..." his eyes squint, his words become spoken with passion, "It is all my fault, Healer. It be me who killed them....It was an accident! I swear I had no intention...."

Paelnor Harper heads into Lightholder Crossroads - Interdistrict Carriage Hub. Paelnor Harper has left.

Chaori Balsam replies, "I know you did not know. Neither did I. If I had, I would have kept you there. As for the Emperor, there were plenty of people wandering in and out of the keep who were carrying the pox."

Trenton nods to Chaori and frowns, "It won't change their mind from hanging, stabbing, or burning me, I fear." he says while slumping back in his chair, "I'll see you tomorrow then, aye?" he says and puts his feet back upon the chair.

Chaori Balsam nods. "You will indeed, Master Lark." She turns and feeds the foul herbal mixture to every other victim of the pox in here. Eventually, she washes up and leaves.



Return to Season 4 (2006)

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