Come On Inn <Shadow District>

The entryway to this place is composed of a fairly large room with many, many hallways leading from it. They puncture the stone walls, two per wall, their once-fine marble archways dimmed and chipped in the faint glow of oil lanterns set between. Once an Imperial home, as the Shadow District decayed this place was taken for progressively lower purposes until now it is one of the most notorious brothels around.
In keeping with its reputation, the Come On Inn is furnished with images of naked and semi-clad women and men, each set in an archway above an oil lamp. Poorly illuminated scenes of group orgies, whippings, and bound personages rest there; many of them are screened by the maze of potted plants which gives some illusion of privacy to the doorways. At the head of the room is a heavy wooden desk, on it a bell.

The Light Maiden, fully armoured, stands speaking to three younger church-clad Scourges. Her face is grave beneath her helm.

Cielle moves into the foyer with small steps, hands clasped just in front of her person. Her eyes spend the first few seconds adjusting to the lighting of the room before she is able to note the others present in the room. She begins to pick out a path in Iestyn's general direction, though she stops several feet away from the woman, not even saying a word to interrupt whatever it is she is doing.

"...follow Sister Velvela and offer her assistance. It's most likely she's already left," the Holy Maiden instructs. "You are under no circumstances to incite combat without Sister Mikin present, do you understand?" All three Scourges, nearly featureless beneath their identical armour, nod. At a final blessing from their superior, they turn to clank out the door.

Cielle remains absolutely silent, even as the conversation draws to a close. From her positioning she would only come into view once Iestyn turns at least to the side. Her head is slightly tilted down, though she keeps her eyes on the woman, watching her movements closely.

The older woman is silent for a moment, not turning, her blue eyes focused inwards. After only a second or two of this, though, she turns with an appraising glance at Cielle. One eyebrow lifts in a silent query.

Cielle places one foot behind her, poised on toe, and lowers down into a shallow curtsey. Her head tips down to the ground, and she holds one hand over her heart before rising upright again. "Your Eminence," she begins, her voice quiet but steady. "I arrived last night in hopes that I may provide some sort of Priestly services in the coming day. If should have need of me in any way, I am at your disposal."

Iestyn Nillu continues to look at the young priest, evaluative still, her face set in a slight frown heightened by the crinkle work of burgeoning wrinkles that flank it. "My child," she says slowly, "this will be a place of blood, soon. Will you be of use in such a place?"

Cielle dips her head in a slow nod, speaking as she does so, apparently unfazed by the mention of blood. "I go where the Light wills, and it has guided me here. I may not be able to stand along the front lines with my Sisters, but I can attend to the injured and the frightened, or perform other duties that may be asked of me." There is a confidence in her words, despite their quiet tone, and she settles her eyes along the woman's face, though they are far from a stare.

"Have you a healer's knowledge of herbs, then?" the Light Maiden wonders. Her frown draws a little darker, the silver arches of her brows closing in and down.

Cielle continues to nod her head in agreement. "I do, Your Eminence." Her hands remain clasped in front of her, her entire body language depicting a calm interior.

"Then your hands will be welcome. What is your name, child?" Iestyn's voice is a trifle heavier, perhaps, as she asks that question, and her eyes no longer remain on the priestess.

Cielle lowers into another curtsey, the same depth as the first one had been. "I am Sister Cielle," she replies simply, adding nothing else in flourish. "Captain Seamel has most graciously provided for me here, so that I may be close at hand when needed."

"Captain Seamel has done so?" Iestyn asks, her gaze sharpening slightly. "Are you, perchance, employed on his lands?"

Cielle lets her head tilt to the side in curiosity, the first sign of an actual emotion in her face. "No, Your Eminence. I arrived into the District late last night, and he would not hear of me staying anywhere but in a room provided for me here. I have not known him before last eve." That curiosity tinges her words, and she slowly looks between Iestyn's eyes.

"Very well. If Captain Seamel wishes to take you under his wing, I've no issue with it. If afterwards he wishes you to tend a temple, that may be all the better," Iestyn decides briskly, "Attach yourself to his bladesmen, therefore."

Cielle lowers her head once more, accepting the words given to her. "As the Light wishes." She replies simply. "If that is all then, I wish to get a feel for my surroundings before the day grows any later. It won’t do to be called someplace and spend hours trying to make my way there."

"Sister," the Light Maiden says, "this is the Shadow District. A woman, especially alone and unarmed, had best not wander. Captain Seamel will escort you when necessary to where necessary. This ...dwelling... should be safe, however."

Cielle brings a hand up, palm facing outwards as if to stop something. "I am aware of the dangers, but I will abide by the measures you set forth. The Light wills it so, and I am but a humble follower." She pauses for a moment to allow her eyes to cast around the room, noting the faces she can see before turning back to Iestyn. "Have you seen him yet today?"

"No, Cielle, but I have not been looking," Iestyn replies rather gently. "If you wish, in the meantime, the... girls of this place are somewhat disarranged. It would be useful if you could comfort them."

Cielle nods several times, her head tipping up then down. "I also told the Captain I would speak with a few of his men. It seems more than a few have been distracted by the...amenities provided here. I will have enough to keep me busy in the meantime." The sides of her lips curl upwards in a tiny smile.

Iestyn Nillu's blue eyes focus once more on Cielle in a tight, quick evaluation. "Why would you speak with them on that account?"

Cielle replies simply, her tone level. "To convince them that it isn't proper with their duties as they are. Many have found themselves too preoccupied." Her eyebrows come down to furrow against the top of her nose. "Would you prefer that I not, Your Eminence?"

"It is the captain's decision as how to order his men, and you work with the captain. How he chooses to busy you is his concern, and your choice," the Light Maiden says. She shifts slightly, easing her weight to the accompaniment of chinking amour. The pause is slight, and then she adds, "We’ve some small time yet, and those with time to spare will deserve pleasure before this day's through, however."

Sarrai is breathlessly quiet at her entrance. She comes in from the visitor's hall, and then pulls back a little to appraise the newcomers from her unobtrusive niche. She's got a rag in her hands, and she wipes her fingers idly, and loiters.

Cielle lets her expression fade back into blandness. "I do the Light's bidding, not merely the whims of a Captain. All the better, though, when those two paths cross." Her eyes spare a quick look towards the Sarrai as she enters, but the gaze returns to Iestyn soon after. "Despite what the day holds, a man should do his best to stay on the straight and narrow Path."

Iestyn Nillu doesn't look at Sarrai, for her attention is all on Cielle. "The path is neither straight nor narrow, Cielle. So long as he toils hard, speaks truthfully, and upholds his word, a man has done his best and succeeded. If it not interferes with these pillard, there is no reason to deny the joy of rewards."

Sarrai gives of an air of paranoia and suspicion, but that's nothing new to the Shadow District. Clutching the rag, she sashays out of the visitor's hallway and makes her way toward the gold hall.

Cielle lowers her head at Iestyn's words, though for what purpose it is unclear. "The rewards are the blessings that only the Light may afford us, and these will be reached when one traverses a straight Path towards the Truth. There will be temptations, and bends in the road, but the Path remains ever vigilant." Despite the context of her words they are said quite humbly, the tone soft and without added adornment.

"These words, that to find Light one must abjure the pleasures of the world, are new, Cielle. You are young, and perhaps others have spoken to you of such things and seemed reasonable. They are, however, not the words of the Church. They are wrong, child. The world is the path to light, and we forsake that within it only when it does in truth interfere with a pillar." Iestyn speaks gently as well, her eyes remaining on the young priestess unwaveringly.

Cielle gives a shake to her head, only enough motion to let the action be seen before it ceases again. "I'm afraid I have been misunderstood." She begins, returning her hands to the clasp in front of her body. "I do not mean say that a person must always turn away from the enjoyments of life. If that was my implication, please accept my deepest apologies. At this moment, these men's duties require them to perform to certain expectations, and to waiver from that road which has been set before them by the Light is to act unTruthfully. Each Path is different, but one should adhere to their own as firmly as possible."

"If indeed they have other duties, then of course you are correct," Iestyn responds, her voice warm with a slender thread of approval. She sighs, and a smile finds its way onto her face. "You should do well at the task. Is there aught else you'd ask?"

Luthais comes stomping in from the Common Room, reeking of days-old ale and unwashed filth. His hair hangs in greasy clumps; his tunic is covered in sticky-looking brown stains, as are his trousers, and his overall demeanor smacks of vagrancy to the fullest. Leaning on the doorframe of the Visitors Hall, Luthais lets out a loud belch - one that sounds vaguely similar to that of a horribly out of tune tuba - and grins wickedly at no one in particular. Hanging his head so as to allow his matted hair to dangle like so many tentacles, Luthais begins chuckling softly and muttering to himself. It is obvious he has yet to notice the two women dressed in full Church regalia.

Cielle seems to draw from Iestyn's own smile, offering one of her own in return. "I simply ask that if the need arises that you call upon me without hestiation. I fear not the risks involved in pursuing my own Path." The smile on her lips hesitates at the sound of the belch, and she shifts her attention in the direction it has emanated from. She looks upon the man for a long moment, eyes settled upon his face levelly. Iestyn Nillu turns as well, one eyebrow arching upwards a fraction. "A bladesman?" she asks.

Luthais slowly raises his head, his piercing, frantic eyes scanning the faces in the foyer for the first time. As they come upon those of the two Scourges, he freezes in mid movement and mouths a few things to himself. In an instant he paints a grin onto his face - one that causes his unnaturally cleft lip to curl into a rictus snarl - nods courteously to the both of them, and takes a few wobbly steps toward the door before having to balance his weight on a nearby tabletop with an outstretched arm. Another madman's cackle bellows forth from his barrel-chest, his entire body heaving with the force of his laughter. "Oh! 'Scuse me there, miladies! I's jes on m' way ou' th' door, I was!"

Cielle continues to watch the man until he finally exits the room, her head canting back and forth with a bit of sadness. "The Light illumines his path..." she remarks quietly before readdressing Iestyn before her.”I do hope this is not out of place, and will gladly accept if you choose to deem it so. But may I ask what you believe will happen today, good or bad? Your gut instinct that is."

"The Light helps those who help themselves," Iestyn says, her own tones more tired than sad. She shakes her head side-to-side in a quick shake. "We are to make an assault upon the Ravager, the shadow creature that destroyed Light's Reach."

Cielle nods once, the gesture marked with agreement. "I simply find interest in what a persons body tell them about a situation. It tends to explain a great deal about why they make certain decisions. A silly habit of mine, I hope you can excuse it. In any case, what comes to pass is what is meant to be. I will pray that the outcome is what we currently believe to be the best."

"Your prayers will be welcomed, child," Iestyn says sincerely. "I will take some rest now, but if other Scourges arrive, send them to me there," she says, and points to the white hall.

Cielle presses one foot back to lower into a short curtsey again. "Yes, Your Eminence." She replies, and though the words are short they are marked with sincere respect for the woman she speaks with.

Iestyn Nillu smiles again, and she is still smiling when she turns away.

Some time passes...

Come On Inn: Common Room <Shadow District>

Shadows fleet along the corners of this spacious room, chased by the blazing burn in a central firepit. Every movement is magnified into shadow along the walls, every table highlighted as a grimacing monster of twisted form there. The common room has simple wooden chairs and tables serviced by a cook and a beer-wench, the latter of whom is most popular on most nights. It's strewn with slightly limp rushes and swept out regularly, but cobwebs creep into the high ceilings.

The brothel-come headquarters is an oddly diverse place-- Girls of negociable virtues, like Bethany and Sarrai, who sit talking-- And then people of good blood, such as the leather-clad archer captain who sits at one of the humble wooden tables, with Paelnor and Cielle. The conversations go between hushed and normally toned, but there's no outright 'noise' in this place, just the humming of unspoken tension.

Bethany smiles at Aiden greets her and says quietly to Sarrai as Aiden prepares to pay her. "I'll catch up with yah then. Gotta run." With that she turns and hurries out of the room.

A sudden, determined clank breaks through the hum, and Iestyn Nillu enters in lockstep with a Ray Perfect, nine gleaming attired Scourges who shadow her every move. She stops in the doorway, her voice rolling out crisply. "Captain Bladesman!"

Thell Mikin lifts his head from a half-doze, freezes, and lowers his head back to his chair's back very slowly.

Harper nods his head to Jodfrey. "Aye," he replies, turning about to prepare to leave, when the entrance of the Light Maiden has him stiffening and falling still, as well as silent.

Cielle remains silent as Jodfrey and Paelnor converse, but her attention is quickly drawn by the clank and voice coming from Iestyn's direction. She makes no reaction to the words, but then again, she is not addressed.

That stops Sarrai. She backs away from the door and slinks back to the hearth to watch the Ray Perfect. Her body is tight with alarm, and her response is typical of most of the girls in the place. Not everyone here may know what a scourge is, exactly, but everyone is suitably impressed by the formation and uniform. And the arms.

The Captain quite nearly spits out his own tea, and stands with quite more haste than grace. "Your /Holiness/!" He blusters, eyes widening behind his spectacles. "Er...” Setting his chair right, the man seems to recover his wits. He approaches to a polite distance, then bows deeply at the waist. "Captain Jodfrey Seamel, at your service." First impressions hopefully don't count for much.

Aiden Zahir, along with everyone else it would seem, is distracted by the entrance of the Scourges, their arrival causing a distinct downturn in the Spymaster's otherwise ebullient attitude. Leave it to the Church to upstage everyone else.

The Light Maiden's vibrant blue eyes snap, lively in the slight nestwork of wrinkles that show through her visor. Her voice, though muffled slightly by the visor, is the essence of determination. "We march, Captain Bladesman, to the Cathedral! Do your men march with us?" Behind her nine armoured statues do not so much as blink.

Cielle can't help but give a start as Jodfrey nearly flies up from his seat beside her. Out of the same sort of respect, though done with far more grace, she rises from her chair and steps around the table with her small stride. Despite the fact that the Light Maiden makes not even a look in her direction, she lowers into a curtsey, palm pressed to her heart in an obvious sign of natural respect.

Harper doesn't move, taking in the sight of the Light Maiden quietly. The way her armor shines in the light. The power in her voice. Her posture. Clearly he's never seen a woman of such power before. The faintest of redness comes to his cheeks.

Thell Mikin closes his eyes again and deliberately relaxes his loose posture back towards that of sleep. The slimmest green edge remains visible through his eyelashes.

"They do if they know what's good for them, Lightmaiden." He declares in response, moustache quavering with his wide grin. That begins it; He turns to start bellowing orders over his shoulder, the mild personality absent from any aspect of his visage. Although he isn't able to get the sheer volume of some of the more bombastic commanders, the noise of people in iron armor fills the Come on Inn as the order spreads-- Squires of the noble Blades scramble to try and assemble the leavings of their masters.

Aiden Zahir lifts the hood of his cloak over his head in readiness, hands pulling his riding gloves taut over his hands as he makes to approach the Lord Captain and the Light Maiden. "Your Holiness," he greets the latter with a cracking smile, "Duke Aiden Zahir, Imperial Symaster, in your thrall," the Zahir introduces himself with an artful bow. "I shall be in attendance as the Imperial Council's representative. And I trust that betwixt your own valiant charges, and those of the Lord Captain," a glance to Jodfrey, "we shall meet with every success."

Iestyn Nillu stands watching with bright blue eyes, as still as her following Scourges. After a moment or two she turns, and those statues follow her with four pairs of brown eyes, two of green, two of blue, and one of grey. Nothing more on them moves, although one set of brown eyes does deviate to Aiden Zahir when he speaks. "Sisters," the Light Maiden says, her brisk voice carrying far enough, "assemble the Scourges without. Chela, tell Sister Left we march." It's only then, with the Scourges behind her wheeling as one that she looks back to Aiden with those twinkling ice chips that serve her for eyes. "Have you a guard, Duke Zahir?" she asks plainly.

Formerly sitting down on some seats near a fire, Lucius was in the process of donning his armor (along with another heavy infantryman) as the Light Maiden enters. As soon as her entourage is seen, Lucius and the other Blade rise and bow at the woman, slipping in a quiet, "M'lady." before his tassets and greaves are placed on. Then he gets to the work of clicking together his beautiful segmented iron cuirass, its leather buckles fastened quickly.

A great tide of whispering sweeps the room, rippling from girl to girl. Only the nobles and those not native to the Shadow District sit immune, islands which the tide moves around, and does not touch, and even some of the Blades are not so immune as that. There's confusion writ large on many faces, and fear. Sarrai looks around for someone to explain this to her, and finds no one, only other people as puzzled as she.

Harper responds to the barking of orders by quickly springing into action, moving to and out the door, careful not to jostle or run into any of the Shadowscourges or Light Maiden.

Cielle takes the steps necessary to bring her up to Jodfrey's side, and speaks to him in a quiet tone, lowered even more from her already quiet speech. "Am I to accompany, Captain?" One of her eyebrows perches slightly higher than the other, giving her an inquisitive look as she watches for some sort of response.

Jodfrey Seamel nods in a gruff manner to Aiden, although he doesn't reply to the man's words. His attention is distracted with mobilizing his command and pulling them out of the hapless brothel, barking orders off to passing men in either leather or iron. Offering no explanation to the people who actually own the establishment, he instead turns to Cielle. "Thank you for your guidance, Preistess. If you don't have a mount, you may ride with myself to accompany, yes.. Just remember that I want you out of the way for anything dangerous."

Aiden Zahir readily nods at the Light Maiden's inquiry, answering as he ties his cloak round a robed throat, "I have a guard in retainer with my steed, Your Holiness. Granted, I have no intention of venturing into the fray, but I trust in both Holy Mother Church and the able Bladesmen to provide protection should it come to as much. Intending to stay out of danger, I do hope it won't be required."

Lucius Nepos rises from his seat, smiling at the presence of his superior the Captain Seamel. He pats him in an amiable manner on the shoulder pauldron, nodding. He hefts his shield. "Sir, that's a wise idea. You are in an appropriate position to keep danger away from the Lady Priestess." He motions towards Jodfrey's bow, pointing now towards the door. "Move out, sir?" The second Blade inspects his iron throwing spears.

"You are in danger, Duke," Iestyn says, her voice smiling behind the muffle of her visor. "Tonight, the Shadow District is our battleground. Light shield you. You will come behind our march on the road, and ensure that no ...women.. of this place follow. Their home given, I will not take their blood as well."

Aiden Zahir's grin tightens, the Spymaster answering curtly, "I'd not be here if I weren't aware of the risks, Your Holiness. I am as prepared to meet the consequences of what we go to do as anyone else. But as you request, I shall have my notary keep watch to make certain none of the local slatterns attempt to follow."

Cielle keeps herself aware of those moving about the room, stepping to one side or the other as the need becomes apparent. Her size itself doesn't present her as too formidable of an obstacle, but she seems well adept at moving out of the way. She offers but a nod in response to Jodfrey, apparently accepting the offer he presents her with.

"We go," Iestyn announces, her crisp voice supported to spill over the din, "in the Light, we go." The Light Maiden, the last Scourge remaining in the room, turns and exits with a soft clank of armor. Her steps disappear purposefully down the hall.

"A notary isn't capable of doing anything to stop them, you know." Jodfrey adds into the conversation, glancing over a shoulder at the spymaster with a frown. "The pages and squires left behind should be adequate to get our belongings out. Anyhow, Duke, so long as you stay out of the battle lines, it'll be fine. If you wished to be helpful, you could find this 'Akeela' person and make payment arrangements for our time spent here." With that, he walks for the exit, flagging down a small gaggle of guardians. "You, you three, go help upstairs before joining the rest of us."

Return to Season 3 (2005)

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