The Royal Exchange - <Trade District, Lionsgate>

The merchant heart of Lionsgate, the Royal Exchange serves as the hub for travel and commerce throughout the Kahar seat. A great circle sits at its heart, paved with white cobblestone, with a grassy knoll in its center. On a pedestal, a statue of Talus Kahar I sits among the flowers planted here, looking north to the Walk of Legends.
Arrayed about the circle are numerous shops and establishments, in old wooden buildings, for the most part. In the northern half of the circle, carriages roll to and from the covered Carriage Hub, with the office of the Fastheld Courier Service nearby, to take advantage of the carriages for delivery.
On the edge of the road to the noble district to the west sits the Sleeping Wolf Coach House, a respectable looking two story structure, with ivy growing up its southern wall. Further away, nearer to the freelander district, a squat tavern sits, with a Laughing Bear painted on its sign.
Four main streets spread out like the spokes on a wheel from this point. To the north, the street heads through the Walk of Legends. To the west the road passes through the manors of Lionsheart, the noble district of the city, while beyond it to the southwest the White Tower can be seen looming over both the the city and the surrounding forest.
The "Old Town" sits to the east, its compact streets housing the freelanders of the city. Finally, to the south is the Cathedral District, where the great Cathedral of the Light stands - one of the largest in the Empire.

The heavens are raging. Rain pours down from the sky, a solid sheet of water obscuring everything beyond a few feet away. Even worse are the clouds, low and menacing, blocking out all but the faintest tendrils of light, only to be torn asunder by jagged swords of lightning.

A few people dart frantically through the streets of Lionsgate's Royal Exchange, clutching cloaks about their shoulders, covering their heads as best they can with hoods and hats and even the occasional basket. Somewhere, a child cries as thunder echoes across the buildings. The danger is slight enough... for now, but that doesn't make the weather pleasant.

Pardus Lomasa has been accustomed to traveling in the nasty weather before, but its never meant that he's actually enjoyed such. With his hood pulled as far over his head as possible, the young Knight strains to look forward, his steps carrying him in the vauge direction of the Sleeping Wolf while periodically shaking his head to knock of the water from his eyes. The crying does clasp at his attention momentarily, but with the sheets of rains and booming thunder, its difficult to see or hear anything farther than five feet away. Though this storm might scare him too if he were boy, regardless of weather or not he was inside.

There's a cry, somewhere in that gloom--a woman. A slight, quick-moving shadow flits through the dark, bending to gather something in her arms.

Flash. The neon glow of a lightning strike, followed closely by an earsplitting crack! illuminates the pair. Mother and child, the sobbing boy clutched close to the woman's breast.

Wagon wheels roll through the mire, splashing mud and water aside, just audible through the noise. More dark, and the woman's cry can be heard again, accompanied by a soft, wet splash.

Grunting disdainfully, Pardus strains his both vision and hearing out into the sheeting gray, the realization dawning on him that somewhere close by is a child left out in this nightmarish torrent. He visibially cringes at the thunderclap, now understanding how truely close the storm is overheard, but the figure doesn't go unnoticed to his eyes. Throwing caution into the wind, the Lomasa begins at a run to the spot where in that instant of lightning, he saw the pair in the darkness.

As he grows nearer, the two are just visible in the darkness. On the ground. The wagon trundles away, driver swearing into the rain, either unaware or uncaring.

Close, it can be seen that the woman is a Freelander, small and slight, barely out of her girlhood. Huddled on the wet cobbles at the edge of the road, it's impossible to tell whether she's hurt or how badly, only that she's very obviously terrified. A bawling child--perhaps two years old--clings to her.

While in any other situation, Pardus would be inclined to give that wagon driver a peace of mind on how to be watchful for pedestrians, this is a different case, the man quickly forgetting about it. He slows his pace as he reaches the two and kneeling down. "We must get you two out of this foul weather!" the hooded Knight states, trying to get his voice through the deafening downpour. He doesn't wait for a response, for their safety and health for that matter is far more important, and begins to scoop the two up and into his arms.

This time, the clap of thunder is accompanied by the woman's frightened shriek, high and piercing, twisting away from Pardus and hugging that child even closer and dropping nimbly to her feet. Not so nimbly. With another cry--this time one of pain--she falls back, striking her shoulder against the wall of a building with an audible thud, and backing her herself hurriedly towards the corner. "Ye getche away fro' me," she warns, a distinct tremble to her voice. "I don' wan' no trouble, now."

The soaked skin and clothing never when trying to get a grip, the woman wriggling out his grip quite easily. "I mean you no harm." Pardus gently reasurres. "You and your child, you need to get out of this lest you both catch your death of cold." he says, keeping his distance while trying not to frighten her anymore than she already is, and pulling his hood down to perhaps not appear so intimidating. "I am a Knight of House Lomasa, let me help you and your child. Please." he almost pleads.

The woman tries to squeeze herself tighter into the corner, though peering now at Pardus through the rain and the curtain of her own drenched hair hanging in her eyes. "Who 're ye?" she manages tightly. "An' 'ow d' I know ye mean no harm?" She takes a step... in some direction. Perhaps towards Pardus. Perhaps to edge along the wall away from him, but it doesn't matter. She lets out another cry as her injured leg buckles beneath her, dropping her once more to the cobblestones at Pardus' feet. The child squalls even louder, and she looks up to the knight, fear and hope visible on her face in equal measure. A change of heart? Possibly.

"I am Pardus Lomasa." the teen replies, gazing at the woman's leg. "I have no proof to give that I mean no harm, only my word as a Knight of the Silver Tankard." he states, but its apparent he's not really concerned with his title so much and more on getting them away and out of the storm. "Allow me to at least help you get dry and safe, then you may question me about my intentions to your hearts content." The man looks to woman's leg while wiping his own soaked hair out of his face, and frowns. Pulling his cloak out, he extends it as far as it will go, trying to give them some momentary shelter from the constant downpour. "You will not be able to walk and hold your son at the same time; you leg, it looks twisted. Please, let me help you."

The extended cloak catches some of the raindrops--not all of them, but enough to provide some sort of small shelter. Still shivering, though from what cause is hard to say, the woman nods. Once. Tentatively. "A-aye. Pl-please, Sir..?" She's still holding that child protectively close, but she seems willing to accept Pardus' aid, now.

Pardus Lomasa simply nods. "It may hurt when I pick you and your son up, but I will carry you both to shelter if I must." he warns before even touching the woman. "Hold onto your child tightly now." the man adds, then placing one arm up and under her knees and the other around her shoulders. "I will take you to the coach house not far away. Alright, ready? 1...2..3!" he counts down and grunts, starting again to pick the two of them up.

The woman catches her breath as she's lifted, holding her child and rocking him gently back and forth. There's a slight wince, a tightening of her features as Pardus jostles her leg just slightly, but she doesn't cry out or struggle this time. In this way--tense as a drawn bowstring and in pain, but docile enough--she'll allow herself to be carried as far as it takes.

Determination is the word to describe the look on Pardus's face as he slowly begins his march to the Sleeping Wolf. Its not that he doesn't want to look down and make sure the two of them are alright, but making that he doesn't fall as well takes precedence. Step by step he continues on, appearing as if he doesn't even notice the rain hitting his face. His grip on the woman is tense, but at the same time gentle, as if he were holding an egg; well aware of how fragile the two of them might be.

The woman is not heavy, even with her young son clasped in her arms, and as still as stone, too. She does nothing to slow the journey, or make it in any way more difficult, only huddling a little closer against the driving rain. The child still moans softly, but he's ceased his struggling--probably due to how hard his mother grips him.

Vestibule - <Sleeping Wolf Coach House, Lionsgate>

Royal blue and gold dominate the vestibule of the Sleeping Wolf Coach House, one of the more venerable establishments in the Kahar city of Lionsgate. The lofty ceiling leaves plenty of room on either side of the streetside door for a pair of bay windows with cushioned seats on their ledges for those who wish a place to relax.
Oak walls are stained to an ecru darkened by years of maintenance and lacquering, and floral patterns have been carved into the main support beams.
The floor itself has been laid out with blue marble tiles streaked with a darker yellow stone which contributes to the illusion of embedded gold. Nearby sits the dark biinwood counter where the proprietor waits to take reservations, and a boy waits to guide patrons to their rooms.
To the left when entering from the Royal Exchange, an open archway leads away into the dining hall, while to the right another archway leads into the common room. Across from the main door is the staircase leading directly up to the floor above.
At the foot of the stairs rests a black marble statue depicting a sleeping wolf. Residing at the ends of either banister, two carved wildcats are perched on all fours and gazing down onto the wolf.

Pardus Lomasa pretty much has to kick in the door as his hands are currently occupied with the woman and her son, the three of them looking more or less drenched to the bone. The Knight doesn't waste time, looking right at the host. "I will be requiring two rooms. And make sure they both have a hot bath prepared. These two need to get out of their clothes as soon as possible, lest illness strikes them both." he almost commands; not out of arrogance, but of haste. "Set the bill to my name; Baron Pardus Lomasa." he adds. "Point me out the nearest room availble. They need to warmed as quickly as possible."

The host lifts his bushy eyebrows in surprise. First his door his knocked in. Second, this soaked water-thing of a man is standing in his doorway, shouting orders and demanding a room. Third, he's holding a woman who's supposed to get out of her clothes, ASAP.

Fourth, though. That's the bit that says he's noble. And nobility means coin, after all. "As you wish, M'lord," he says, sending a couple of boys scurrying off to ready the rooms, and he himself jotting something down on a sheet of parchment before him. The tip of his quill bobs back and forth with infuriating slowness. "Follow the lads, now. Up the stairs--you'll see the rooms."

"I will also pay for any repairs to your doors, in case it requires payment. My apologizes." Pardus absently points out over his shoulder, but he's intent on getting the woman and her child out of harm's way. They may be out of the rain, but as a soldier, the Knight is very aware of the dangers of not warming and getting dry after an extended amount of time in cold rain. He's seen it happen to fellow guardsmen more times than he'd like to recall. But up he goes.

Upstairs Hallway - <Sleeping Wolf Coach House, Lionsgate>

At the top of the stairs the semicircular landing is covered with dark viridian tile. Light is provided by the gently flickering flames of waxy candles set into a hanging chandelier. The banister curls around the edge of the landing, and in its woodwork where the railing would normally be are delicate engravings of men in knightly attire on parade.
The wooden walls have been adorned with a few velvet tapestries depicting great moments in Kahar history. Near the banister a small collection of cushioned chairs for casual meetings sits in a ring with a small table in their midst.
A hall stretches beyond the landing with several doors set into the wall on each side. The portraits of past Emperors line the corridor with each stern, silent face watching the passersby. An empty spot in the line of paintings sits directly above the landing where the portrait of the current child Emperor will reside as dictated by a small golden plaque bearing the name "Talus Kahar XV".

"Mmph," the host mutters irritably, jerking a thumb over his shoulder up the stairs again, even as Pardus heads that way with the woman in tow. The woman herself has grown even stiller, almost sleepily so, her tense posture relaxing noticeably.

The boys are visible at the top of the stairs, darting between a pair of rooms with sheets and pillowcases, preparing the baths and toting buckets of water to and fro. One of them pauses as he spies the Lomasa, nodding towards the Basic Suite. "That'un's ready, M'lord." His eyes pass curiously over the sopping bundle of Freelander in the knight's arms.

"Very good. My thanks. You two work quite fast." Pardus nods, very much unaware of how soaked he himself is. The door to the Basic thankfully has been left open, and he walks inside.

Basic Suite - <Sleeping Wolf Coach House, Lionsgate>

The simplicity of this room is designed to serve the purposes of the passing traveler with only the barest of amenities offered for comfort. The wooden floor goes uncarpeted, although it is kept clean of dust and dirt, and a small window framed by white cotton curtains is set into the wall opposite the door.
A small, rectangular bed fit for one person sits against the wall along the right draped over with a brown, woolen blanket while a second one is folded at the foot for extra warmth. Beside the bed sits a small nightstand with a single empty drawer for storing personal items, and atop it rests an empty basin accompanied by an ewer filled with water for washing. A wooden trunk has been placed at the foot of the bed for travelers to store their clothing overnight.

The suite has indeed been prepared, a few extra amenities added to conform more to the status of a nobleman. Every once in a while, one of the boys moves in and out of the room, finishing with the pillowcases one last time, adding a little more hot water to the baths... Clean sheets have been added to the bed, and steam rises off the water.

"Here you are." Pardus gently says, lowering the woman down to the floor near the bath. "Warm yourself and your boy. The chill is quick to seep to your bones." He looks back to one of the young boys, flagging him down with a flick of his hand. "Send a handmaiden in to assist with her and her son's bath, won't you? Her leg has been injured." he asks, reaching into his belt pouch. He sets five kahars in his young boy's hand. "Be quick now." he grins and turns back to the woman. "You are safe now. Rest while you can. I will be in the room next should you need me." the Knight says, smiling. "Are you alright?"

The woman stirs, clutching her son tightly once again. As she moves, her skirts shift up a little, revealing a nasty-looking purplish bruise across her ankle. It looks like the wagon may have run right over her foot. "Aye," she murmurs, putting her back to the bathtub and just resting. "Thank ye, M'lord."

"I could not let a woman and her child be left out in a storm such as that, or I could not look in the mirror and call myself a Knight." Pardus softly replies. "There will be handmaiden here shortly to help you out of these soaked rags and into your bath. And I will make sure your ankle is looked at. But first, you need to warm you and your son, its imparitive." he says, rising up to his feet. "I will give you the privacy you need. I'll be waiting outside." At that, he bows and leaves the room for said privacy.

The door shuts behind him, and after a moment there's a distinctive splash to announce the woman's entrance into the bath. And from downstairs... a shout. "Ah want t' see mah wife! Now is she 'ere, or isn't she?" The more soft-spoken words of the host, followed by the sounds of a struggle.

As Pardus closes the door behind him, he blinks at hearing the ensuing argument. "And that must be the loving husband." he muses to himself with a small smirk, then moving to head back downstairs. And yes, he's completly forgotten that he too is quite soaked. But there is still a duty to be done.

Vestibule - <Sleeping Wolf Coach House, Lionsgate>

Royal blue and gold dominate the vestibule of the Sleeping Wolf Coach House, one of the more venerable establishments in the Kahar city of Lionsgate. The lofty ceiling leaves plenty of room on either side of the street-side door for a pair of bay windows with cushioned seats on their ledges for those who wish a place to relax.
Oak walls are stained to an ecru darkened by years of maintenance and lacquering, and floral patterns have been carved into the main support beams.
The floor itself has been laid out with blue marble tiles streaked with a darker yellow stone which contributes to the illusion of embedded gold. Nearby sits the dark biinwood counter where the proprietor waits to take reservations, and a boy waits to guide patrons to their rooms.
To the left when entering from the Royal Exchange, an open archway leads away into the dining hall, while to the right another archway leads into the common room. Across from the main door is the staircase leading directly up to the floor above.
At the foot of the stairs rests a black marble statue depicting a sleeping wolf. Residing at the ends of either banister, two carved wildcats are perched on all fours and gazing down onto the wolf.

The downstairs area is a *mess*. Pardus' muddy footpring is clearly visible on the door, which swings open, and three men are trying to restrain a particularly large, burly fellow with a lot of reddish hair and a temper to match. He's doing his best to reach the stairs, despite the repeated attempts of the host to stop him. "Ah want t' see mah wife!" he repeats, rather single-mindedly. His breath smells faintly of alcohol.

"Now see here!" Pardus's voice booms over commotion, using that noble teachings for a change. "There is no cause for rash actions." he states stepping down the stairs, staring down the angered large man. "Your wife will be fine. She and your son are bathing as we speak. But first, you need to calm yourself if you wish to see her." the Knight points out sternly. "That being said; is there going to be a problem with that?"

The 'loving husband' stops his struggling, shaking off the other men and staring defiantly up at Pardus--that's a full four inches up. "Well, I s'pose that depends, don't it? Ye gonna stop me from seein' my own wife in th' middle o' th' damn storm, *Lord*?"

Pardus Lomasa doesn't flinch, even though he has to look up at the larger man. "Are you going to stop causing a ruckus? If you can act in a civil manner, and simply -wait- for your wife to finish bathing and dressing, you can see her shortly. However, if it were not for me, its likely she and your son would both still be out there, and most likely in worse condition." he explains stoically. "I will only stop you if you force my hand, I would rather it not come to that. We can act as men in this, yes?"

The husband narrows his eyes, squinting down at Pardus and clenching and unclenching his fists at his sides. A glob of spittle flies from his mouth, landing at Pardus' feet with a disgusting splash. "Men," he grumbles. "What good 's a man if'n 'e cannae even see 'is wife?" Despite being hindered by the other men, despite his drunkenness, he tries to duck to the side.

Needing only to side step in a quick fluid motion, the young man is once again infront of the husband. "As a Knight of the Silver Tankard, I gave her my word that she would not be bothered while she bathed and rested, and that means -anyone-, including you as well as myself." Pardus says, his voice edging on irratated. "A man is a good one if he gives his wife the respect and privacy that she deserves after an incident such as this. A comprimise then; I fetch someone to send word that you have arrived and ask if she wishes to see you. Then, and -only- then will I let you pass. Are we agreed?"

The man grits his teeth, fingers twitching at his sides, before he whirls suddenly. A closed fist flies towards Pardus, erratic and drunken, only half a punch rather than simply a stray hand moving on the fly. But it could hit pretty hard, if it does. Without waiting around to see what happens next, he heads for the door.

Better than to start a fight in one of favorite establishment, Pardus moves out of the way of the half-hearted swing. He does though latch onto the man's should, his grip almost vice-like. "If you yell, hurt, or anything of that sort to your wife, I -will- hurt you. I will drag you out into the street and beat you like drunken braggard that you are. Keep that very clear in your drunken haze." he hisses, then instanly letting go of his hand. He proceeds to exit the stairwell at that, and sets a money pouch on the host's desk, the sound of clinking kahars against one another inside. "That should do, I hope? If it is not enough, feel free to let me know." he states, distant. His eyes are still locked onto the staircase for the time being.

Stopped. Suddenly, that vice-like grip on his shoulder halting him in place, the husband turns around. "Who d'ye think ye are, tellin' a man 'ow t' live 'is life? Ye may be sum nobleman, but ye're 'ardly a man. Ye think o' disturbin' me, an' we'll see who's the better 'ere." And just like that, he flees out into the pouring rain.

"I didn't know that hurting your wife made you a man." Paruds replies. "Apparently I have been taught the wrong ideals." He watches the man run out the building. "I suppose he did not wish to test my sincerity. A wise decision, I think. For both of us." he murmurs, looking back to the host, then moving to look at the door. A sigh. "I truely apologize, but I could not let her go and I was in such a rush..." he trials off. "I will make it up, I swear."

The host waves a hand, attempting at laziness and coming across as more than a little tentative. "'tis fine. Ye've agreed to pay for it. 'tis enough. That girl was hurt?"

Pardus Lomasa nods. "She was. I think a roaming cart in the rain ran over her leg and didn't even realize due to the rain. She will need looking after." he says, shutting the door. "And her 'husband' if he calls himself such...I did not trust his state of mind with as much ale as I smelled off of him. I fear she could have been injured more."

Steps at the top of the stairs. The young woman appears there, cleaner, warmer, her hair lying in rats' tails across her shoulders. She leans heavily on one of the boys, cradling the sleeping two-year-old against her hip with the other hand. "M'lord!" she greets, more than a little gratitude in her voice.

Turning about, Pardus is all smiles, stepping across the vestibule to extend a hand help steady the woman, should she need. "You are back on your feet, I see. A hardy one, you are. You both are looking much better." he says, sounding a little relieved as he eyes look between her and her boy. "I will have to give you my apologizes however. Your husband was here. He wished to see you, but he seemed more than belligerent. And he appeared more than a little drunk as well, so I thought it best that he not bother you until you felt ready. I am sorry if it was not my place to do so, but I was looking out for your interests and I did not think it wise."

The smile fades from the Freelander's face at the mention of her husband. Still using the boy as a human crutch, she makes her way over to someplace to sit. "Oh. 'e was? Did 'e... did 'e bother anyone? I tol' 'im not t' come lookin' fer me this time."

"He tried to force his way past a few men, yelling and carrying on. As well as attempting to injure my pride, and failing." Pardus grins. "I convinced him it would be wiser to leave than try getting past me, as that would not of gone very well. He left to go lick his bruised ego, I think." he says. "You do not wish to see him? Then I am glad I prevented him from seeing you."

The woman bites her lower lip, looking truly young now. "I... 'tisn't right fer a woman not t' wish t' see her husband," she murmurs lowly. "'e's just so... 'arsh?"

"If he has harmed you, you have every right to not want to see him." Pardus replies. "It is none of my business, but I would say if you told him not to come looking for you, then there was obviously a reason for it, yes?"

The woman shakes her head. "'e sayed 'e were sorry," she murmurs. "All gentlemanly, like. Promised ne'er t' do 't no more." She hugs her son a little tighter, swinging her uninjured foot and looking positively lost for what to say.

"No man, Freelander or Noble, no matter what you may think will ever have the right to strike a woman in such a way like that. Ever." Pardus says gently. "Women are to be protected and cherished for being givers of life and caretakers of children. You have to look out for you and your son. I will not tell you how to live your life, but I think you should be a bit a cautious should you decide to see him again."

The young woman simply nods, struggling once more to her feet and heading for the door at a painfully limping gait. There she pauses, glancing back at the nobleman with a small, grateful smile. "Thank ye, M'lord."

Pardus Lomasa nods. "You know, I have paid for that room throughout the night. So should you decide to have a night to relax by yourself, you should." he says, smiling. "Besides, I think its still raining. Would be silly to be cleaned up only to return to be soaked once again. Enjoy yourself here tonight." The woman hesitates with her hand reaching out for that battered doorhandle. Backs up a step. "That *do* sound nice," she notes. "Ye's too kind--I cannae repay you..." Her gaze slides downwards, towards the floor.

"There is no payment needed. Seeing you and your son safe and sound is payment enough. Just promise me that you will take care of him and yourself." Pardus replies softly. "I will make sure to check up on the both of you whenever I venture to Lionsgate." he winks. He turns momentarily to the host. "Should the lady require any food or drink, simply add it to my bill." Then back at the young woman. "Enjoy your stay...uhm, I never got your name." "Or your son's."

Making her way to the base of the stairs, the woman stops before starting up. "Kimae," she answers softly. "Kimae Hazelnut, M'lord, an' this be Sauzin." Flashing another small smile, Kimae makes her way up the stairs, leaning heavily on the rail but doing all right, headed for the promise of a night without the threat of her husband's fists hanging over her.

Return to Season 7 (2008)