Those close to Alieron Mikin go before Emperor Talus Kahar XIV to plead mercy for the Chancellor-turned-traitor...

Throne Room <Fastheld Keep>

The high ceilings of this gray stone chamber are supported by rows of massive columns along an aisle that features a purple carpet that extends from the arched entrance to the Emperor's throne room and ends at the first step of the dais that holds the gleaming majesty of the Imperial throne - a chair of gold, armrests encrusted in jewels, back and seat cushioned with stuffed pillows covered with crimson velvet.
Torches flicker in stanchions attached to the columns. The fluttering wings and twitter of birds can occasionally be heard in the shadows overhead, where the fowl have nested after coming into the estate through one of the balconies or the courtyard.
The seal of Fastheld - a crown within a dark, unbroken circle - is on the tapestry that hangs behind and above the throne of Talus Kahar.

Talus Kahar sits upon the throne of Fastheld, the gray haze of clouded daylight filtering through the slits high in the walls. The misty pitterpat of rain whispers through the chamber. The Imperial guards are arrayed amidst the shadows that shroud much of the cavernous chamber, torchlight flickering off their armor and swords as they stand watch.

It is upon the Second hour by the Shadow on Riverstretch, the 33rd day of Huntsmoon, that Serath Kahar paces into the Throne Room upon steps of near feline grace; behind him, a cloak of royal blue velvet flows in the wake of his form, clinging to the reddish-gold armor that shrouds his form as it refracts the light from the various stanchions that he passes on his way towards the Emperor. Behind him, an entourage of Mikin follow suit, watched over by the six Knights of Bronze that currently add to the usual complement of Palace Guards, intently watching the Horsemaster for any signals or gestures, which he does in fact give; a raised palm, indicating for them to remain at ease.

Merielle comes quietly, her faintly silvered hair done with immaculate precision and her eyes cradled in black hollows. She walks as straight as ever, stepping into the throne room and falling at once into a deep curtsey to the Emperor. Her mouth is a line that betrays no expression.

Sophia Mikin quietly enters the throne room with her mother and betrothal with the Prince of the Blood leading. There is a definite blank expression within the depths of her crystal blue eyes. Upon Sophia's pale face are streaks of grim from sweat and tears that have long been spent. The Heir of Light's Reach's long ebony tresses are slightly disheveled. Her expensive silk dress covered in wrinkles yet she does hold her chin up just slightly with Mikin pride. As soon as the petite Marchioness is in the presence of the Emperor, immediately Sophia dips into a deep cursty; her blue gaze dropping to focus upon the floor. Sophia is anything but at ease. The brave facade of strenghty is easily seen through worry etched upon her delicate features.

Fael Mikin enters, a half step behind the others. His dark eyes are immediately drawn to the seated form of the Emperor who he addresses with a respectful bow before allowing his gaze to habitually drift around him. His expression is drawn and tired, but reveals little beyond that as he gazes at the horsemen then back to the Emperor once again.

Talus Kahar nods somberly to each of the guests in turn, then allows his gaze to settle on Merielle. "Duchess, your husband, Alieron Mikin, has been condemned as a traitor to the realm. It is the Crown's prerogative to summarily execute traitors or imprison them for life. I would hear your thoughts on this, on whether he should live or die." His eyes then drift toward Sophia and Fael. "From each of you."

His Duty to the Crown fulfilled for the moment, Serath gracefully moves to stand to the left of the Throne, and his brother in turn, taking up a regal position of sentry there, but consigning himself to merely watch on.

Merielle Mikin straightens from her curtsey, though her face remains lowered. The hollow of her throat flutters as she swallows some emotion, and then she lifts her face to Talus finally. "My Emperor, he is my husband and the father of my children. I cannot excuse his actions; his lack of faith in you, in myself, in anyone save the commoners defies my belief. I cannot condone his actions, and yet, I would beg for the life and the freedom of my husband." She swallows again, her eyes very bright. "I recognise the need for safety and peace in your realm, and I know he cannot simply walk out with what he has done. I beg you to consider alternatives."

Sophia Mikin listens to her mother as a single tear trinkles down her face. Softly she speaks out, her voice hoarse and scratchy. "I beg the Emperor for mercy in regards to my father. He has been a loyal and dutiful subject to your Majesty. His zealous faith to the Light blinded his judgment in his words of last eve. I feel within my heart the Surrector provoked the incident. I believe my father would have retracted his traitorous declarations if the Surrector had not accused his heir of being in league with those who have been touched and tainted with evil. " Sophia utters keeping her eyes leveled upon the floor unable to look up. "I owe my alliegence to the crown, and I will glad forfeit my life if my father's life would be spared. I know within my heart that if my father's blindness could be lifted he would see the error of his madness. I beseech his Majesty's mercy."

Fael Mikin rests his gaze firmly on the Emperor's face, taking the measure of the man who leads him as many a soldier has done over the years. His expression is not disrespectful however and he quickly averts his gaze once again. "I seldom consider it my place to speak to the fate of my superiors", the Constable comments softly. "Duke Alieron's actions were rash and ill thought out, in my opinion", he says more loudly an angry expression crossing his features in a flash. "But if what he said is true, then I do not doubt that he had the best interests of the realm in mind, though he chose an infinitely poor method of voicing his concern." He raises his gaze again to search the Emperor's face questioningly.

"Your husband's choices leave me few of my own, Duchess," the Emperor says, tapping the fingers of his right hand on the armrest. "He branded me a traitor to the realm before hundreds of people and incited them to riot, causing dozens of deaths and injuries." His attention then shifts to Sophia. "No one intended for you to be accused of being in league with Shadow. The Surrector was trying to refer to the fact that your own Castellan had been witness to the strange powers the Wildlings possess. The power I sought to counteract with our deal with the Luminary. A power that will now go unchecked because I must now revoke the deal in the interest of peace, because of your father's slanderous, blood-spilling lies." He shakes his head, sighing. "He was my *Chancellor*, my most trusted adviser. Had I been a puppet of the Shadow, why in the Light would I reveal that the bargain had been struck to a *Mikin*?! If anything, I wanted to make certain it was known, to be above question, and to confront any questions he might have had. Had he made these accusations before the Imperial Council, I would feel more favorable toward mercy. But he rallied people against me. His words sparked the deaths of many. And his obliteration of the deal with the Luminary will likely spark the deaths of many more at the claws of the Wildlings." He leans back in the throne, the gray daylight giving a leaden appearance to his crown. "Tell me: How do I show him mercy while explaining to the victims of his actions that he meant well?"

Merielle's tongue comes out to touch her lips before she speaks, and her voice is very soft, shattering and breaking around her words. She presses on with determination nonetheless, "you would have let the Shadowed one who aided you live, My Emperor. To one of Alieron's health the dungeon is a death sentance as surely as hanging. He has lost his lands; he has lost his job which meant more to him than life itself. If you must, strike his nobility. If you must, confine him to the District of Shadows. If you must, in the Light, if you must, put him over the Wall with those loyal retainers and family who will go with him. But please, do not kill my husband."

"You are the Emperor and you asked each of us our reasons for pleading for your pardon and mercy. I have done so your Majesty. I regret all that has occurred and if I could change the wheels of time I would do so. He is my father and despite his crimes I love him. The severity of the situation clearly shows that evil has spread its net on those who have been and who are loyal to the crown. I have not been privy to my father's thoughts, I have always strived to be what he wished me to be and that is a loyal subject to his Majesty. I am a Mikin and now I have to wear this name with shame because of words ushered forth from a man who /thought/ he was doing right. He was wrong to accuse your Majesty, he was so wrong. But he was blinded by his faith." Sophia pleads with the Emperor. "I beg of you your Majesty not to execute my father. Perhaps the confinement of a monastery to for his punishment for his crimes. Please Majesty, I know my father is responsible for many lifes, but I am his child, his daughter, his heir and I am begging you to spare my father's life. I will do anything you request of me your Majesty. Anything." Sophia's voice trembles with anxiety and emotion. "I beg of you your Majesty."

Fael Mikin frowns at the Emperor's words, but falls silent, his expression thoughtful. He glances over to Merielle as she speaks, then towards Sophia, then back at the Emperor but clasps his hands behind his back and doesn't say anything more. His own thoughts on the matter remain his own for the moment.

The Emperor nods slowly, considering the words uttered by those closest to the traitorous Chancellor. His brow furrows and he laces his fingers together, elbows settling on the armrests of the throne. "No doubt, you are needed in Light's Reach, to help restore order. I have ordered a detachment of Bladesmen to help secure the peace. It should be safe for you to return and help begin the process of healing the rifts created by the Duke's actions. I will think on your words, I will give them ample weight, and when I have made my decision, a courier will be dispatched to summon you to hear it. You are now free to go."

Merielle's blue-black eyes fasten themselves on Talus' face for a long moment, studying him intensely as if his features might somehow hold the answer right now. Still quietly, she says, "Might I come to see him?"

Sophia Mikin tries to rise upon wobbly legs but falters in doing so. She tightens her eyes willing herself not to cry, not right now. Sophia nods her head with the Emperor's decision. Her blue orbs are bloodshot with dark circles prominent under her eyes. A quiver of a breath is inhaled as her gaze flickers towards her mother as she finally is able to stand, though clearly shaken from the whole affair.

"Yes, Duchess," Talus replies, offering a faint nod. His pale blue eyes glimmer in the shadows of his face as he grimly replies, "His kin are permitted to visit him in the dungeons. Escorted, of course." A downturning of his mouth, then he says, "The Light keep and protect you, cousin. May it give you and yours the strength to persevere in such dark times."

Fael Mikin bows at the wait. "Thank you, Your Highness", he says softly before reaching down to help Sophia stand his expression now concerned. Since business is taken care and they have been dismissed he begins to move towards the exit.

"Thank you, Your Majesty," the Duchess returns to Talus directly, "it will. It must. And might it guide you and the Empress in these dark times. She catches her mouth before a frown can do more than twitch at it, and she then curtsies again and turns to go.

"May the Light Protect your Majesty and the Empress." Sophia manages to utter as fatigue consumes her entire body. Waving slightly, she is assisted by Fael. "Thank you." She utters as her eyes again drop to focus upon the floor.

The Emperor nods, watching as the Mikins depart, and then his pale gaze settles on the Prince of the Blood to his left. Outside, the rain starts falling a little harder, and the ravens in the rafters squawk and flutter as thunder rumbles.

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