Mastery (The Twins)

A foot-high black marble dais serves as the perch for a cushioned, high-back biinwood chair where the master of the East Twin sits while holding court beneath the banner of Light's Reach. The polished biinwood table off to the left of the dais provides a meeting place for the keep's council, with the largest and most comfortable chair reserved for the master. The table is often stacked with parchment and a ready supply of quills, wax seals and ink. A scored wooden raven's roost sits beneath a glowing lantern. Double doors lead out into the receiving hall.

A slow, hesitant knock interrupts whatever may be going on inside the mastery. Rowena waits patiently outside, her shoulder leaning against the wall while her eyelids threaten to droop.

The clomp-clomp of metal boots against echos as Varal comes up behind Rowena. He offers the Duchess a smile as he come to her side, not knocking. Spiked gauntlets can do bad things to wood... "I trust that Y'Grace is well and settled her business?"

Adosh pads around in a circle before settling on its haunches.

Zareef rises onto its hind legs and chitters at something.

Alieron Mikin sits upon the throne upon the black marble dais, flanked by two Ducal Guards. At his feet lays Adosh, resting, though his eyes are open as he gazes down toward the door. Two Ducal Guards flank the entrance doors, and a herald stands aside. Alieron reviews a parchment paper.

"Nay, our paths did not cross as intended." Rowena replies softly, keeping her eyes focused on the door. Zareef sniffs beneath the door, his whiskers poking through to the other side. Rowena knocks gently again, causing the mongoose to jump back a good foot or so in surprise.

"A pity," Varal says, offering empathy. "Though, from what the Duchess described it as, it may be for the best." His mouth quirks into a slight smile that fades after a few second. He eyes return to watching the door lazily as he adjusts his cloak and makes sure his armor is in order. Waiting for it to open, he rests a hand on the pommel of his sword - for comfort, not drawing the weapon.

The Ducal Guards by the doors after a delay open the doors, and allow those waiting in. Alieron Mikin raises his head from the parchment he is reading, and gazes at his sister then to Varal.

Entering in silence, Rowena keeps a steady eye on Alieron, perhaps gauging him for anymore outbursts while she's still near the exit. Zareef slinks along the floor, just behind her heels like the loyal creature he is. Perhaps he feels guilty for causing a ruckus during the race.

Adosh wags its tail.

Zareef sniffs as it lifts its snout into the air.

Varal walks about half the distance before lowering to a knee and bowing his head to Alieron. "Your Grace," he says with devotion, awaiting command.

Alieron Mikin nods slowly toward Varal, placing the parchment aside. "Stand, Varal Mikin. You will have an important moment soon. Though for now." He gazes over toward his sister, "I wish to speak with my sister. Though you may await here with us." He gazes toward Rowena.

She had a hunch this would come. Rowena remains a few feet from the dais with a neutral expression upon her face as though prepared to undergo interrogation. Her hands clasp neatly at the low of her back, her chin lifted in a stance that says 'hit me with your best shot'. Zareef takes the opportunity to explore, letting his nose guide him around the room.

Varal rises to his feet, bowing. "Aye, Y'Grace," he says, moving to the side, allowing Rowena to take center stage. He watches the two siblings discuss, interested in learning what is going on, but keeping a stony, impassive look on his face to maintain at least the pretense of not being interesting, or even listening.

Alieron Mikin gazes toward Rowena, pointing at her, "You, my sister, have many things to tell." He lowers his hands to the armrests, taking on an almost judgmental posture, "What news have you heard sister, that you would not keep from your brother?" He gazes at her sternly, apparently having not forgotten the past nights.

"I have heard none that I was not told to keep from my brother." Rowena replies in a witty riddle of an answer. Her fingers toy with her signet ring behind her back, eyes remaining confidently lock on his. "It is true that a less than desirable man flew many a day to this keep to pay me visit, and his name was already unveiled that night." Knowing he remembers it well, she continues. "However the words the Horsemaster had for me are indeed as he remain between our ears alone until further notice. Unfortunately, those words are not yet complete, as the night proceeding the race was of ill timing to me."

Varal frowns ever-so-slightly, trying to make sense of what Rowena is saying. Despite an outwardly calm appearance, a slight light of confusion can be seen in his eyes. He doesn't like not knowing what is going on.

Alieron Mikin is sitting upon the throne upon the black marble dais. Varal is standing to the side, and Rowena is standing before the throne speaking to Alieron. Alieron does not look pleased at the moment. Two Ducal Guards flank the throne, and the large entrance doors as well as a herald standing aside. Zareef is snooping around the room.

Fionnlagh speaks quietly with a servant at the door, who proceeds near to the Ducal throne to announce. "Head Forester Fionnlagh has arrived, Your Graces. Shall I show him in?"

Alieron Mikin looks up from the questioning of his sister to see the servant, he nods slowly, "Allow the Head Forester in." The two Ducal Guards open the doors wider to allow him in. Alieron then looks down at Rowena, "I will speak with you in more privacy sister, concerning our matters. For now, we have a ceremony to conduct with you as a witness." He looks upon Varal, "A ceremony concerning you."

Rowena steps back and to the side of the dais, giving a nod of approval across the room to Varal, though a smile is a difficult thing to summon when she knows her near future would be far more grim.

Varal manages a smile despite the dour mood perpetrated by Rowena. He bows yet again to Alieron before walking towards him, hand still resting lazily on the pommel of his sword.

Adosh wags its tail.

Zareef sniffs as it lifts its snout into the air.

The servant bows low, retreating out of the way of things as Fionnlagh makes his way in, a little better dressed than his typical foresting garb, as he's tried to make a point of when visiting the keep. He approaches, bowing to both Alieron and Rowena. "Light's greetings, Your Graces. "

Alieron Mikin nods slowly, "Greetings Head Forester. It has been awhile since I have spoken with you. I had wished you to be present for this ceremony concerning Varal.

Alieron Mikin he gazes toward Varal, then back to the Head Forester, "You may stand with my sister, and bear witness to this." He then gazes over to one of his servants, "Bring me Forgefire." The servant bows, rushing out to retrieve the legendary sword. The three hundred and sixty year old sword that had once been used to kill many Shadow-Touched, and was wielded by a Church of True Light patron known as Amazon Mikin whom inaugurated the Imperial "Blade Days" with it.

"Good eve.." Rowena murmurs to Fionnlagh, letting her hands slide free of their grip and to her sides. With little knowledge as to what is at hand, aside from her scolding, she makes no movement in any direction. Zareef, on the other hand, comes scampering out from under Alieron's desk with a friendly run towards the forester.

Varal offers Fionnlagh a brief, polite smile, then turns to watch the servant who goes to fetch the sword. A serene expression slowly makes it across his face, an intense glow of pride obvious in his eyes.

Fionnlagh nods his agreement with Alieron's first words, allowing. "Aye, an age it seems, with all that has transpired." To Rowena he offers a warm smile and a nod. "It is good to see you looking more yourself, your grace." At the instruction, he moves to stand beside Rowena, returning Varal's greeting with a small nod as he waits, expression neutral, observing the actions of the Duke.

Alieron Mikin nods slowly, "Approach, Varal Mikin." He indicates to approach as close as possible to the throne, he slowly gestures to Adosh whom dashes off the throne to the side to gaze at the events. He then gazes slowly over to Fionnlagh, then to Rowena, as his eyes return to Varal. A few moments later, the servant rushes through the door carrying a red velvet pillow upon which is the sword wrapped in red cloth. He rushes toward the throne, up the dais, and to the side of the throne to hold the pillow next to Alieron. Alieron rises from the throne, gazing at the others present.

With yet another bow, Varal does as ordered and approaches. His steel boots clicks softly against the metal floor as he makes his way to the dais. His back is rigid, his head held high as he walks, almost as though he were to be crowned Emperor.

A faint smile finally touches upon Rowena's lips as she watches with respect in her eyes.

Fionnlagh watches quietly, curiosity flickering a bit in his eyes, but otherwise unmoving, standing mere inches from Rowena as he waits to see what will come.

Alieron Mikin gazes down upon Varal, "Kneel, Varal Mikin." His face is solemn as the gravity, and importance of the ceremony is in the very air. The Ducal Guard flanking the throne, and door are silent. The servants have stopped moving, to stand with their hands clasped behind their back. Even Adosh shows his reverence in his silence as he watches with his eyes.

Varal kneels as ordered, lowering his head.

Adosh pads around in a circle before settling on its haunches.

Zareef curls up on the ground.

Fionnlagh lifts an eyebrow as Varal is directed to kneel, but otherwise remains stationary, eyes hooding speculative thoughts.

Alieron Mikin begins to speak in a loud, announcing voice, though one that is leveled. It is one of solemn sacredness, as if he were preaching a sermon of the Light. He begins, "Varal Mikin, you will now take the Oath of the Captain that has been taken many times before you. You have been chosen to bring honor to this office, and restore honor to your family."

Varal breathes deeply, knowing the ritual and patiently waiting for it to continue. The sense of importance to the man is nearly tangible.

Attention focused squarely on Varal, Rowena offers the reverence earned. She breathes softly, lips kept closed in a warm smile.

Fionnlagh blinks at this pronouncement...definitely caught off guard by it, though he martials his expression back to neutral observation with the rapidity of one used to controlling such emotions.

Alieron Mikin nods slowly, "Repeat after me. "I, Varal Mikin, vow to protect this Ducal Family, and the domain of Light's Reach even at the cost of my own life." He pauses, gazing at Varal, he continues the oath, "I will defend the people of Light's Reach, striving to keep the taint of Shadow away from Light's Reach, and those who would harm the line of heirs of Light's Reach....."he pauses, as if to continue the oath

Adosh wags its tail.

Zareef stares impassively at its surroundings.

"I," Varal says softly, his voice weak at first and gaining strength, "Varal Mikin, vow to protect this Ducal Family, and the domain of Light's Reach even at the cost of my own life." His tone is cold, serious, heartfelt. He pauses as Alieron did, and continues. "I will defend the people of Light's Reach, striving to keep the taint of Shadow away from Light's Reach, and those who would harm the line of heirs of Light's Reach..." Again, he stops as Alieron does.

Nodding in approval to the words as they pause, Rowena continues to stand as a silent witness. Her eyes hold a sort of maternal affection in them, as if she were watching a child leave a university as a man.

Fionnlagh pays close attention to the words of the oath, his expression intensifying slightly with the gravity of the words being repeated. He studies Varal, studies Alieron, glances to the movements of Adosh and the impassive look of Zareef.

Alieron Mikin continues reciting the oath, "I will keep the flames of the Twins forever burning, a symbol of the Light in the night. With all of my strength I will strive to keep these vows, and promises until the very end." He looks at Varal sternly, gazing upon him with all seriousness.

Varal swallows before continuing, careful to maintain a strong an even tone as he begins. "I will keep the flames of the Twins forever burning, a symbol of the Light in the night. With all of my strength I will strive to keep these vows, and promise until the very end." He pauses a moment, and then adds. "Under the Light, so I swear."

Fionnlagh nods faintly, an unconscious action as Varal finishes his vows, glancing to Rowena and then back to the proceedings.

Alieron Mikin nods solemnly, taking the sword Forgefire from the pillow. He removes the red cloth, placing it back upon it. He holds up Forgefire, with its flame shaped hand guard, hilt of silver and gold embedded with light's eye and waterstone gems. Writhing flames engraved in the 36-inch polished steel length of the blade. He holds it up for all to see....

Varal Mikin glances up at the sword, though his body remains still. He doesn't breath for a moment, captivated by the legendary weapon.

Rowena's eyes drift to land upon the blade, still struck in awe at its beauty and power. She remains standing as the ceremony continues.

Fionnlagh studies the blade as it's lifted, then looks to Varal as he waits.

Alieron Mikin steps forward to the kneeled Varal in a very dignified ceremonious manner, "I proclaim you, Varal Mikin,..." he lowers the sword to one shoulder, then as he lowers it to the other, "Lord Captain of the Ducal Guard of Light's Reach." He looks upon him, raising the blade in completion of the ceremony.

Varal Mikin slowly rises to his feet, taking a step backwards and bowing to Alieron. "Your Grace, I will not fail," he utters as seriously as a heart attack.

Waiting a moment to let the realization sink in to Varal's mind, and giving him a bit to breathe, Rowena then proclaims. "I as a witness trust in you to serve my family well, Lord Captain, Varal Mikin." She takes one step forward and graces him with a bow of her head.

Fionnlagh nods slightly and slowly, taking in the ceremony and the ending of it. He waits a moment, to see if the action is completed, before offering quietly after Rowena. "And I also am witness. My congratulations, Lord Captain." A genuine tone, if slightly sober, before he bows to Alieron and then Rowena. "If your graces will permit, the hour grows late, and I have a long ride before me. I will depart for the night."

Adosh wags its tail.

Zareef stares impassively at its surroundings.

Alieron Mikin nods slowly toward Fionnlagh, "Then ride, Head Forester. Light be with you." He turns toward Varal, "You may go as well, now knowing that you hold this honored office."

"Aye, keep well." Rowena offers to Fionnlagh, eyes lingering on his for a moment extra before returning to Varal and Alieron.

Varal Mikin bows to Alieron another time. "I thank Y'Grace." He turns to Rowena, bowing again. "And the Duchess." Finally, he half-bows respectfully to Fionnalgh. "And you, Head Forester. I hope to better make your acquaintance in the near future."

Fionnlagh nods simply, inclining his head again. "Light keep you all. I'll return when I may." He glances to Rowena, offering. "I should like to speak with you at a more convenient time about some herbs I found. Stay in the Light." With that, he turns, slipping out to ride home.

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