Dank Corridor <Fastheld Keep>
- A narrow corridor, about four feet wide and eight feet high, it runs thirty feet from the northwestern bend that leads to the tower to a southeastern archway, deeper into the dungeon.
- The cobbled stone walls are slick with moisture and twists of root sprawl across the ceiling.
- Heavy iron doors leading into the cramped cells of the Fastheld dungeon line the corridor.
From the distance are the pitter patter of booted feet, and by the sound of the hobnails crunching on the ground one can hear they are a soldier's boots. Light cascades from far away, and as the soldier approaches, shines brighter on the cells that Amaas and Renkek are in.
- Before you stands good looking young freelander man. His body seems to be that of a professional soldier - lean, strong muscle packed onto his arms, legs, back and chest. He stands 5 foot and 7 inches tall. His skin is what could be called slightly tanned. Below his cropped brown hair, lies two dark green-blue eyes and a prominent Roman nose. His facial bones are somewhat angular. All these feature seem to be further accented by the grey stubble that eternally rests on his face. He seems to have been born of good stock, and he carries an air of joviality with him.
- This man wears a long sleeved, off white tunic. The hem of the tunic reaches to above his knees, and below that are a pair of light grey breeches, tucked into his leather boots. Over the trousers are a pair of flexible steel leggings, while over his shins are two steel greaves. The tunic's waist is fastened by a thin brown military style belt. On his left hip is a scabbard which contains a very deadly looking short sword, the blade 26" long with parallel double edges.
- He wears a variant Imperial Plate cuirass, made of several different pieces of strong curved and laminated platinum plates attached with hinges and buckles. The top and bottom both consist of these plates, segmented from eachother, with two large shoulder pieces covering his collarbone and shoulders. It looks both sturdy and flexible. A golden tabard, embroidered with the Ivory Tree of the Blades, is hung from the base of the breastplate to his thighs. His steel helmet looks protective while remaining fairly open. In the back extends a neckguard which projects outward slighly, while cheek guards rest on his temples and cheeks. An iron crosspiece keeps the helmet from being split open on top. He wears a pair of bracers & gauntlets. He carries a standard 30 by 22 inch Imperial Tower Shield, the Ivory Tree painted on it. Behind his shield in a compartment is held a small 4' throwing spear, tip wrought of iron.
From Dungeon Cell, Pressed against the rusted iron bars on the eastern periphery of the corridor is Amaas. He seems to be in a crude form of conversation with the Kaharian man adjacent to him, his hands wrapped around the bars before him. The light floods into his cell of the catacomb-like system of the dungeon, and he shrinks back, his lithe hands drawn to shield his eyes. He squints, nearly shutting his dark eyes, reacting much like a bat in the sun.
- Short and cadaverous, this spry young man stands at a slight five foot two or three, and cannot be any older than twenty two years of age. His dark auburn hair would fall just past his eyes were it not erect. His eyebrows contrast oddly with his lighter hair in a hue of black, along with his dark and thin goatee. The corners of his eyes seem to be tugged subtley to the outer edges, giving this Fastheldian an exotic or foreign demeanour.
- His attire is nothing short of ragged; a once-green tunic now stained with blood in the front, while in the back a purposeful tear reveals a small, bored hole in his flesh. This tunic dangles over his body by one shoulder sleeve, while his pants fare similarly. The knees and above have residue of blood and grass, while they have minute holes in the lower cuffs. The small man's wrists have abrasive wounds, where the skin has been rubbed raw by an apparent rope. Possibly hemp. His nose has dried blood caking the nostrils, whils his lip is split and his left eye has a beauty of a shiner. His hair is no loger kempt.
"Amaas!" Lucius bellows down the hallway, if his intent was not clear before. He wears a deepset frown on his face as he approaches the end of the cells, stopping in front of the thief's. "Well, how do you like your accomodations?"
From Dungeon Cell, The thief flees from the light like a hare from a hawk, retreating to the corner for refuge. "A bit dank," says Amaas, "But I like the decorations." The muse, more than likely just another nail in his coffin, seems quite ready for his predicament.
"Good. That makes me pleased. Come, we need to have a little chat." Lucius's frown fades until he wears nothing but a look of stony neutrality on his face. An eyebrow arches up. "I suppose you know what happens if you try to escape, so I'll spare you the details." He slips his key into the door, opening it.
From Dungeon Cell, The click ensues a small start from Amaas, and he is before the soldier with a hasty dash surprising for his state of starvation. He's in an utter state of disrepair benath the bath of pale light; his nose is flattened against his face and blood cakes his lower visage, and his favors his left side as he moves. "Aye," the knave says, "Don't bother." He shuffles laggingly behind the soldier, wary of something - or someone, that might spring from the shadows.
Luckily for the thief, nothing of the sort happens. Lucius raises his shield a bit closer to his body, reflexively, and motions towards the east with a lamped hand. "C'mon." He waits for Amaas to move.
Torture Chamber <Fastheld Keep>
- A domed chamber that has been carved out of the rock under the keep, it is about forty feet across and twenty feet high at its apex. A heavy iron doorleads out into the dungeon corridor.
- The room is equipped with a variety of sinister-looking devices, from anangled metal slab with rope straps and an affixed tray cluttered with knives to an isolation sarcophagus to a rack for stretching the truth out of recalcitrant prisoners.
Lucius Nepos leads Amaas into the torture chamber, eyes darting about the room and lingering a little bit longer on a small hearth which is perpetually kept going. "Go sit yourself down. I have some bread for you. I find when a prisoner is fed, they're more likely to be reasonable." He removes exactly that - a FRESH loaf of bread, and tosses it at Amaas.
Amaas's hands fumble the morsel about before finally achieving a grip upon it - it was almost as if the loaf was slippery or eel-like. Ravished and emaciated, the dimunitive man makes no hesitation before bringing the food to his lips, his yeellowed, haggard teeth biting into the outer crust and wrenching it away. "Vurry gud," says the knavish Amaas with a mouth full of bread. Another bite. It seems the food has effectively averted his attention from the paraphenalia about the room.
"Alright. Now, do tell me, since this was not the first time you stealing, obviously.. what in your right mind possessed you to try to steal from a respectable lady such as Amalai, a woman of the Crescent Moon, in FRONT of a Blade?" Asks Lucius, leaning back on the wall. The loave seems to have vanished, wether it be by sleight of hand or a ravenous appetite. Amaas' eyes cast toward Lucius, and the man is for an astonishing moment allowed to gaze upon his sober countenence. At once it becomes obvious; the sylphis man is nothing but a struggling freeman, whose adroitness lies nowhere but his sticky fingers. "Respected?" snorts the aesthetic man, but apts wisely to not articulate. "I 'ad a round 'er two too much, sir."
"That's your excuse? You had a round too much? So you decided to not only pick her pocket.. but to hold her up. In Lightholder Crossroads." Lucius shakes his head, distaste finally returning to colour his features. "Yeesh. You /are/ a fool." He shrugs armoured shoulders. "Why is that you started to steal? Circumstances? Easy money? Do you not have the ability or want to learn a trade?"
"There ain' much work in line fer a erliterate," mutters Amaas. "I skinted out on school. Pops got washed wit' debt, sent ter the bars an' chains. I 'ad to work it off some'ow, I figgered, an' I did." The young man's voice grows stronger with every word, voice, confidence and eye with Lucius contact all increasing. "By now, can't get meself inter any sorta trade er perfession. I fucked meself o'er."
"Of course there is. You're limiting yourself by believing what you say. Firstly, learn to read. If you want to keep current in the happenings of the city-state, then you need to." Lucius pauses, green blue eyes peering right back at Amaas. "Or, join the Blades. There are people hiring for jobs here and there that require little else besides some common sense and decent manners when it comes to dealing with others. Which is something you need to work on."
"I ain't got none o' those," says Amaas rapidly. "I ain't got manners, and 'parently I ain't got no sense." He pauses, his tongue digging at his molars in an attempt to free trapped tidbits of bread. "An' I ain't got no need to know what 'appens in the ol' crown an' sceptor."
"It affects you just as much as it affects a royal Zahir, boy, which is something YOU must begin to understand. You do not show any remorse for your crimes, then?" Lucius tilts his helmeted head to the side. "No wish to better yourself with a real job, no promise you won't steal again?"
The subtle pointing to the machinery behind Lucius sets Amaas off into a plighted state of fright. He hadn't noticed the torture weapons prior. "N-n-now, I di'n't say I 'ad no remorse. I ain' ever gon' do that again," stammers a flumoxed thief. The promises may be hollow and forced by intimidation, but they came out. "I'll find somethin'...I-I-I'll be a shoe-man, a cobbler!"
"Stop spewing bullshit." Lucius barks, noting that his tilt of the head had actually been pointing at the instruments of hurt - not his intention, but supposedly effective anyways. "You're just scared of torturing you. I don't torture. I'm direct. I want a direct damned answer."
Amaas nods vigorously, the threat still daunting upon his head. "Awright, awright...I can't find nothin' to do - t'be. I'm fucked royally, like one o' you trees in a damned mess o' wildlings on the other side o'the Aegis."
"What in the Light does that have to do with anything?" Lucius asks, lowering his shield to the ground. He then extends his armoured left vambrace and sticking his hand under it, removes a obsidian dagger by its flattened pommel. "I'm going to need to punish you, unfortunately for you. You broke the Imperial Law and there is a punishment. Regardless, I would like to hear your plans for when you get out.. having you back on the street doing what you do is simply not an option unless you want lose your hand the next time."
The convicted Amaas shifts his weight from one foot to the other, contemplating a predetermined fate. At least eh isn't going to be killed, that's for sure. His mouth gapes at the question and he hesitates. "Uhh, I could be a bard," he says. "A story-teller in the taverns, perhaps." He seems completely false, unsure, and scared witless. His eyes dart about settling on the knife, until he speaks the obvious, "What do you plan to do with that?"
"We'll see, because such things depend on the nature of the answer you give me. You, a bard?" Lucius seems to find this quite hilarious; indeed, his features crack open, if only for a moment, to reveal a wide grin and a bellyaching laugh. "Light, you ARE going to keep stealing, aren't you? I should conscript you on the spot for manual labour."
Amaas' movements begin to grow expedient, beginning with his interrupting of Lucius. "No, no! See, it was a joke? See?" he says rapidly. "I was joking. What I *really* meant was that I could begin to apprentice a woodworker." He begins to grow slightly more confident, and he sounds slightly more truthful. "Yeah. I know a bub back in Sweetwater that's good at widdling. He could teach me."
Lucius Nepos's eyes narrow at Amaas as he tries to con his way out of manual labour, any evidence of good nature having been wiped clean off of his face. He slowly strides over to the room's small heart and slides his already obsidian blade into it.
"Don't like my jokes, huh?" quanders Amaas meekly. "Alright, listen. I don't know much else. I screwed myself when I fucked school over." He's genuine now, and there is no doubt about that. His fore is touched by a gentle pitifulness, and his dark eyes peer directly at the Tree's face. "If y'can gimme a good idea, sir, I'll go fer it. I don't want to be ins'bordinate anymore, an' I certainly don't wanter do some conscript shit."
"I never went to school. You're a lucky person to have been able to even have that choice. I didn't, my brothers didn't, and I know precious few who did. I learnt to read by my mother and father, by family and friends. Same with all the other sciences of living." Lucius says as an aside, watching precious seconds tick by with the blade still heating. He doesn't turn to Amaas. "It is not to me to find a job for you. Thieving, it is all you know?"
Something weighs heavy on Amaas as the silence ebbs with a definate suspense. "I c'read, an' write," he offers with a hint of hope. The blade is almost done, he knows, and his fate may be decided by the entailing moments, however brief. "And cards, dice. I can gamble, but that's no better. Maybe I can repair housing - I worked on roofs back in Sweetwater as it was being constructed."
"Drafting, yes?" Lucius asks, finally lifting his green blue eyes to briefly glance at Amaas. "Yes, perhaps you could be used in that capacity. Eventually work yourself up to carpentry." With a quick motion of the hand, the searing hot blade (looking just as cold as the moment it was removed from the man's sheath, mind) is lifted up. The Marshal wears no _expression on his face. "Luckily one does not need a pinky for drafting." He approaches Amaas.
A veil of horror resembles looming storm clouds as it passes over Amaas' countenance. His breath becomes nothing more than rapid, shallow huffs of fright. "C'mon, mate," pleads the thief. "Y'don't hafta do this. Nobody'll e'er know the difference. I'll do somet'in fer ya, anything..."
"Yes, I do have to do this." The Blade's voice is steadfast, firm in its intent. "You're lucky you got such a laid back lawman as I, for normally one such as yourself would lose the entire hand. And I catch you or hear of this again and that is indeed what will happen. Now sit down, shut up and let's be over with this. You don't use a pinky for anything anyways. Thrust out your opposite, not your writing hand."
"I'm a changed man," he stammers, but nonetheless complies, pinky extended outwards towards the knife. His left hand, as instructed. Even before the blade dismembers the digit, Amaas grimaces, turning his head far from the point of amputation. He remains in this tense cringe, his shoulders drawn up, his head canted away, and his back crooked. "I...don't know," he admits, cupping his hand in his other. It seems lighter. "I've nary an idear. I'm Shadin' blind as ter what I'll do next. Roof works ain't very compatible with my build," says Amaas as he gestures over his dimunitive, emaciated frame. "I never lived outside the Un'erworld, sir. I'm not 'zactly sure if I can, teh be 'oness."
"Hmmf. Maybe I should boot you into the river and save us the trouble." States Lucius, crossing his armoured arms over his chest and simply staring at the man. "You can't build or do labour, you're too stupid and versed in street culture that you don't even think you can integrate into normal society. So.. what?"
"You pu'et rather bluntly," says Amaas, his eyes flicking to the cold floor. "Maybe I could be an acutioneer." The idea seems a bright star, alone on a carpet of velvet. A possible opportunity. "I've the street smarts to know wares, an' I gots the ability to sell the unsellable." Amaas shift slightly, his eyes averting to look at Lucius' reaction.
"That's not my business." Lucius appears to be unaware at the possible pun on Amaas's new line of work. "But if that is what suits you, then that is what shall be. I warn you now - if I find you dipping into people's coinpurses again, I will unhand you. And if you resist, I will kill you, or elsewise maim you. Keep your nose clean and you will not have anything to worry about. Come." Lucius motions at the door;
From his location, Amaas makes a shuffle to the door. "Yer lenience is 'preciated," he says as he makes his pained intrepid to the door. "But I don't know ther way out, I'm 'fraid."
"That is why you walk," Lucius again motions towards the door, "and I will tell you where to turn and such. Move." Finally, he replaces his dagger in its hidden vambrace sheath.
True to his words, Amaas makes no move of escape or insubordination. He passes on through the door, hissing in a display of agony with every shallow stride. It's tedious, but he's making progress.
Entrance to Fastheld Keep <Palace District>
- The Palace Road widens into a clearing of packed dirt as it arrives at the southern approach to the imposing majesty of Fastheld Keep, with its high stone parapets and lofty tower spires flying the Kahar family banner (a field of bright blue emblazoned with a prowling black wildcat).
- Soldiers of the Emperor's Blades can be seen along the south wall - on the parapet and flanking the gatehouse - standing guard over the Imperial keep that sits perched atop a ridge of earth known as Caryas Hill.
- The Lighthold River can be seen twisting beyond the thick woods to the west. Beyond that rises the barrier of the Shadow District. To the south, one can see the misty rolling hills and woodlands of the Forest District. Off to the east sprawl the thriving bazaars of the Market District.
- The road twists off to the southwest, downhill toward Lightholder Bridge and the Imperial Thoroughfare that leads all over the realm.
Once they've made the trek outside the palace, Lucius once again crosses his arms across his chest. "Go on now, get out of here. If I hear anything..." He trails off, threat unfinished.
The Bladesman didn't need to finish - considering the scared shitless Amaas. He flags down a passing carriage, clambering in it without a signal of departure to Lucius. The cart rambles off down the hill, bouncing about perilously with increasing velocity.