Duhnen Seamel's Chamber <Fastheld Keep>
- A spartan chamber, kept neat and tidy by a meticulous occupant, this edifice includes simple and fairly modest furnishings compared to most rooms in the rest of the Imperial fortress.
- The bed is a basic four-poster, no canopy, with neatly trimmed beige blankets and thin pillows covered in linen.
- An ink well and quill sit perched atop an angled wooden writing desk that seems to have received a great deal of use over the years. Next to the ink well is a seal for pressing the familiar wax "DS" on communiques to the Chancellor, Blademaster and other worthy recipients. A gray stone wash basin is off to one corner, available for cleansing. A plain pinewood wardrobe stands against the northern wall, holding the clothes of the Emperor's Hawk.
- Two crimson-curtained archways lead out onto balconies.
Duhnen sits on the edge of his bed, half hunched over, and staring at a small reed trill that he holds in his armored hands.
Tomassa traverses familiar steps with a measured pace, pausing to draw in a breath before the Surrector's door. She lifts an armored hand and sharply raps upon the surface of the massive door of the room that used to be her quarters.
The current Surrector gives no immediate reaction to the knock, continuing to stare at his instrument. Finally, his eyes lift to the door, peering at it with a tired look. "Yes?" he asks, calling. "Come in."
The former Surrector pushes the door open and steps inward far enough to close the door once more. "Greetings, *Surrector*," she drawls, half in amusement and half in mocking. When she turns to look toward the bed, her fur cloak slithers against her back with a whisper of sound.
"'lo, Tomassa," Duhnen returns, considering her, before looking back down to his toy, his interest lost.
"Something wrong?" the woman queries before making her way to the sofa and easing down upon it. She rests one hand on her leg and idly inspects the other.
Duhnen makes a soft 'hm' noise as he stops one of the drilled holes with an armored finger, the gauntlet making his hand a bit too clumsy to do it gracefully. "Welcome back to the keep," he offers, ignoring the question.
"Am I truly welcome?" the woman asks with a hint of chagrin. "If this is not a convenient time for you, I can return later. I merely wished to see if you were hating this position as much as I did." Her lifted hand falls to her lap and she leans forward as if to stand.
"You are welcome," Duhnen assures, turning his head and cocking it to the side to observe her. "I wouldn't speak the words if I didn't mean them." And if those last few words did seem a bit overly harsh, the small smile that curls his lips serves to take the edge off, and show that he meant them not in chiding, but more a statement of fact. "The position doesn't bother me. More my lack of effectiveness, to answer your question."
Tomassa nods, her own visage softening a touch with Duhnen's smile. "I am empathetic to your feelings. The position is a difficult one. It truly requires a network of spies to outshine those of the Imperial Spymaster. That is the only way to truly find those who are a danger," she quietly states, remaining perched upon the edge of the sofa's cushion.
Duhnen nods his head at that, reaching to lay the trill to the stand by the bed, and rises to his feet, giving his arms a stretch. "I have my ways in finding dangers. Though it's the stupid ones that are always easy to find. The wise ones keep their mouth shut and are almost impossible to pick up." He turns to approach her on the couch, shrugging. "This you all know."
"The wise ones are less of a danger in some ways than the stupid ones. The stupid ones are more likely to unintentionally cause harm to people," Tomassa muses, emitting a soft sigh. She falls still -and- silent before there is a small slump to her shoulders. "I miss Corriden," she suddenly admits in a soft whisper. "I could use him about now."
Duhnen sidesteps and sinks into a chair across from the Lioness, nodding his head to her, his smile taking a bit more of a gentle look to it. "His absense has left a hole in all of us," he murmurs, leaving her room to continue if she wishes.
Tomassa draws in the sort of breath that people take when they're trying not to let tears prick their eyes. "I didn't marry him and it cost me both of the men that I loved... in the end." She thickly swallows and looks up at the Seamel who was also Corriden's friend. "But I suppose that is how all the lost feel when they have taken the wrong path."
Duhnen considers Tomassa in silence for a few moments, mulling over her words. "Do you remember what we spoke of, Tomassa? It must have been a long ways back. It was in this very room...and I believe in the exact same seating arrangement." He smiles a bit at that.
The woman's mouth quirks as she gives her head a small shake. "Do not think ill of me, if I do not remember, Duhnen? Much has passed since that time. Much hope and worry. Much grief."
Duhnen lifts a hand to signal that she shouldn't fret over it, the man chuckling quietly. "It was on feelings of guilt. Especially over things we couldn't control, nor had no insight into."
Tomassa looks down to her hands and lightly clasps them, the armor remaining relatively noiseless. "I wanted to throw myself upon Shalis' pyre. I had known for a long time, in my heart, that he was gone. If he was not dead, he would have returned to me. Nonetheless, I wanted to join him. I have never felt such a... an intense impulse before. It frightened me. It was only an impulse, though. One that I resisted."
"And what caused you to resist it?" Duhnen prompts, watching her patiently. He knows the therapy that can come about from talking things through.
"Such an act would've been weak," the former Surrector replies, lifting her coppery gaze to her replacement. "And I am too strong for that. My father was not that weak. I... lit the pyre and watched it burn until everything was gone. Everything. I didn't leave the courtyard until it was done."
"And you have your son to live for," Duhnen adds to her, nodding his head. "Tomas wouldn't understand, Tomassa, if you left like that. I think we all have something to live for, if we look for it."
Tomassa says somewhat bitterly, "Ah, my son. He would be better off without me." Her mouth curves into a sad smile. "Shalis was better for him than I have ever been. Tomas is one reason that I have sought you. Do you know of any worthy scholars who might wish a student?" the woman quietly inquires.
"That's a very unfair thing to say about yourself," Duhnen responds. Now he is gently chiding. "A son is blessed to have a mother to look to, so long as she's fair to him. And I can't see you not being that way." He shifts in the chair, thinking. "...a scholar of what type?"
Tomassa shrugs one shoulder as best she's able in obsidian armor. "He enjoys books and music. History. He is of an age where it will benefit him to seek tutelage outside the keep. Especially -my- keep." A smirk replaces the sad smile. "My library is lacking," is her simple explanation. "And... it will allow me to find my way again. Alone. If he is safely settled."
"There is a decent amount of records and history to be found at the Tribunal," Duhnen suggests after a moment. "Perhaps you could send him there to study. And he'd certainly be safe. It rivals here in security."
"Will you speak for him?" she asks, almost formal in her tone. "I fear I am not respected much in Fastheld anymore. Will you do this for my son, Duhnen?"
"I can speak for him, if you wish," Duhnen nods his head slowly at that. "Though, I fear my reputation may not be the best either. But I will do what I can. I will speak to the Justiciar himself, perhaps."
Tomassa finally seems to relax just a little, her armored hands unclasping. "Thank you, Duhnen. I will be in your debt." She pauses and then curiously asks, "Is it true that the Duchess Rowena has gone beyond the wall?"
Duhnen smiles and nods his head. "Glad to help. And yes, she has, to go to Crown's Refuge. I'm unsure of when they are scheduled to return, however."
The former Surrector bows her head again, pensive and slightly dismayed. "I wish I had known she was going," she states with a sigh. "I would have accompanied her." Mouth pursing, Tomassa lifts her head and begins to slowly push herself to her feet.
"I've only heard stories of what occurs out there," Duhnen responds, rising to his feet. "I believe you'd have had to speak to the Tax Assessor. But...that's past now. Most likely there will be more trips out there, though."
"Until then, I shall work to improve my wilderness skills. They are... decidedly lacking," the woman admits with a small smirk. "I would be of little use beyond the wall, most likely, unless they needed a good sword arm."
"They most likely need those," Duhnen shrugs. "From all reports on the wildlings out there. Though we've never seemed to have a shortage of them inside the walls."
"Are you sure?" Tomassa asks as she straightens her fur cloak. "There've been less around my Keep than before the Ravager merged with that other thing. At least that is what my men have reported." She hesitates, but then offers a hand to Duhnen. "Thank you. For listening. It seems that I have few friends left after the deaths of Corriden and Shalis."
"It was a wildling that shot Oren with an arrow, I believe," Duhnen tells her, clasping her hand with his, two gauntlets, black and red. "It was good to see you. Feel free to come visit if you wish to talk again. I'm available to listen."
Tomassa quietly begins to smile. "Next time," she suggests as she releases the man's hand, "Let's raise a drink in memory of Corriden. Shall we?"
"I keep some here," Duhnen nods to her, smiling back. "Until then."
Tomassa lifts her hand in partial salute to the Surrector, inclining her head to him. Without another word, she turns toward the door. A brief smile is given to Duhnen before she makes her exit.
Return to Season 4 (2006)