'River Turn Keep Main Corridor

Opulent chandeliers dangle from the arched ceilings of the main corridor of River Turn Keep. The hallway extends from the biinwood double doors opening onto the courtyard to the northern archway granting access to the ballroom.

The doorway to the west leads to the spacious, well-used dining hall, while the eastern doorway opens into the master bedroom.

Katrin is wandering down the hallway, taking her near the Master Bedroom, her cape wrapped tightly around herself, despite the warmth of the room. She frowns slightly, looking around her slowly.

Arturo Lomasa makes his way out of his bedroom, fiddling slightly with the clasp of his cloak as he secures it. Two guards stand reading in Lomasa livery, one on either side of the door, standing a little straigher as the Baron emerges.

A servant approaches the Baron of River Keep, bowing sweepingly. "Your Lordship, your Uncle, His Grace the Duke of East Leg, is here to see you." As the man speaks thus, Sinon overtakes him, smiling radiantly. "Nephew! Arturo! My lad! You look splendid, splendid indeed. How are you today?"

Upon seeing Arturo, Katrin smiles, starting in that direction slowly, but when the servant approaches, proclaiming Sinon's presence, she turns slightly, trying to slink down the hall, unseen.

Arturo Lomasa blinks slightly as his awakening is enforced to a rather higher state than his nap perhaps would wish, nodding to the servant before blinking again and offering Sinon a warm smile and a chuckle. "Well, Uncle....I am quite well. Though I would be better if craftsmen moved faster. I'm having a time getting all I need to furnish the keep properly. And yourself? You look as spry as always."

"Craftsmen? Yes, I do agree. They are all so much like snails, aren't I right?" Sinon smiles smugly, giving his nephew a pat on the shoulder. "You are making fine stuff out of this place, I have to say. Even what little of it I've seen so far. But say, my boy..." Sinon glances towards the guards and leans in to Arturo. "Have you heard from your sister? Seen her? I have not heard anything, and am in great worry."

Katrin lifts her cape up around her a little more securely, her pace increasing slightly, the cape hiding most of her from view. She bites on her lip a little bit, seeming a little worried.

Anton Wheat arrives from River Turn Keep Courtyard Anton Wheat has arrived.

Arturo Lomasa considers this question, and nods, his face taking on a more serious expression. "I worry also. If it's true that the Surrector is trying to declare her shadow-touched, they'll be trying to kill mother for bearing her. And you know that isn't possible Uncle. Folly maybe, but not Shadow. We'll not stand for the Kahar smearing the Lomasa name and threatening mother's life just to protect Adaer Kahar from his own stupidity, will we?"

"The Surrector has bigger problems now than her status," Sinon says confidentially. "He is falling from the Emperor's grace. It will be a while before he'll consider picking up this thread again -- but then he will do it with a vengeance. Hence my concern. We must find her, Arturo. Find her, and bring her to safety."

Katrin starts to turn to leave the Keep, her eyes focused on the ground, looking a little troubled about things. She tightens her cape around her, again, shivering slightly, despite the warmth of the big room.

Arturo Lomasa stands near the doorway of the master bedroom, speaking with Sinon. Katrin has her cloak drawn tight about her, slipping down the hallway as quietly as possible. Two Lomasa guards stand near the Baron's position, just far enough to allow him a discrete conversation.

Anton Wheat is lead into the main corridor of River Turn Keep by a man servant, probably of middle age. Anton himself is clothed warmly in his cloak and wool shirt and pants, his hat having been pulled off and clasped in his hand. He is too far away to make out the nobles at the moment.

Arturo Lomasa considers this response thoughtfully, reaching a hand up to stroke his chin, then nodding. "I'll not have them making her a Lesser, Uncle. I'll have Gell Mikin before the Church if need be. Him accusing her is no less an affront than Adaer accusing the Zahir, certainly. The crime is the same. And the Emperor may well let him take that fall if he's already falling from grace."

"No, my boy. You stay out of it. Another member of the family need not be drawn into the affair." The Duke of East Leg shakes his head, and dismisses that thread of their exchange. "But I need to know where she is. Have you no idea? You are her brother, surely she would at least leave you a message?"

Katrin smiles slightly to Anton, though appear tense, "Good eve," she greets softly, keeping her voice down for the most part, brushing back a strand of her hair.

Upon spotting the cook, the farmer smiles broadly and makes a welcoming gesture. "Mistress Katrin!" He says, perhaps a bit too loudly. "How do you fare this fine, frigid night?"

Arturo Lomasa considers this, and nods slightly, before pausing. After a moment, he nods. "I've heard from her. And she's safe for now, Uncle. Safe, and happy for once. It would be better had none of this occured of course. You'll see that the Surrector doesn't succeed, Uncle? I am not losing my mother and sister so someone else can hide their foolishness behind claims of Shadow magic."

"Good to hear, nephew," Sinon says, nodding. "Yet, I still need to speak to her in person. It is very important to me that I see her. As soon as possible."

"I am well, Master Wheat," Katrin says, smiling slightly, despite the worry in her eyes. "You come to see the Baron?" she asks curiously, brushing back a strand of her hair carefully.

Anton Wheat nods, removing a sac that he had been holding under his cloak to show to Katrin. He smiles warmly. "Indeed I am, Mistress Ebonwood. I bring honey for his Lordship... even in winter, my bees work faithfully!" Although the farmer says this with much glee, the manservant looks on passively.

Arturo Lomasa pauses, considering this, and finally nods. "If you would care to wait in the Dining Hall, Uncle, I will send for her. She is not so far away. I trust I'll not regret bringing her to you, Uncle. I've always been able to trust you in past. I thought her dead as they said, until she showed up to greet me a few days ago."

Sinon Lomasa puts a heavy hand on Arturo's shoulder, and squeezes once. "Thank you, Arturo. I will be expecting her." He turns from his nephew with a glance down the corridor, and strides for the dining hall.

River Turn Keep Dining Hall

An airy chamber with floor-to-ceiling windows, a long polished biinwood table surrounded by twenty-four chairs beneath a glittering crystal chandelier, and an open kitchen preparation area with an L-shaped counter, where the estate's servants work in full view of the guests.'

Katrin arrives from River Turn Keep Main Corridor Katrin has arrived.

Sinon Lomasa is seated at the head of the table, chair pulled back. His fingers are steepled before his frowning face, and his eyes closed in thought.

Katrin steps into the Dining Hall, looking around her a little worriedly, brushing back a strand of hair from her pale face. Seeing Sinon, she slowly makes her way towards the noble, bowing before him, but being careful to stay out of reach, "Your grace," she murmurs.

Sinon Lomasa opens his eyes, looking irritated the first moment as he gazes over Katrin, before that expression gives way to a moment of perplexity. "...Dianna?" he asks quietly.

Katrin inclines her head slightly, "M'Lord," she says quietly, wrapping her arms around herself securely, shifting back a step, a faint frown on her lips. "You wished to speak to me, M'Lord?"

"I see you are unharmed, dear niece," Sinon says as quietly as before, but with the warmer expression of a smile that causes wrinkles in the corners his lips and eyes. "Good. Good." With a sigh, Sinon gets up from his chair, clasping his hands behind his back as he glances out of the windows. "Dianna, you are with certainty one of the most obstinate young women I have known in my life. And you'll believe me when I say that I have come to know a lot."

Katrin inclines her head slightly, but doesn't say anything, standing quietly, waiting patiently for whatever is to come. As Sinon rises, she backs away a little bit, her arms tightening around herself slightly.

Sinon Lomasa turns his head to give Katrin a look from over the shoulder, lifting his brows slightly. "You're afraid of me, my dear?" he says, more statement then question.

Katrin puts it quite simply, "Yes." She frowns a little bit, tightening her arms around herself. "At this point, I trust few, and those I cannot trust, I fear, since if I do not, they could be the one that put me, or those I care about, in danger."

Sinon Lomasa turns his head back to the window, nodding to himself in a moment of silence before he turns to Katrin, unclasping his hands. "It should pain me to hear that you lost trust in me, Dianna," he says, shaking his head. "But it doesn't. Not after the ingratitude you showed towards me and others in what you did. Not after casting all caution to the four winds," and the metaphorical temperature of his voice drops ever lower, "and having the audacity to go and try to spin your wicked yarn around the Emperor himself. I loved you as a father would love a daughter, Dianna, and I found myself abused and misguided. No. I think you have good reason to feel fear."

"I have a good reason to fear a good many people," Katrin says quietly. "Did you wish to speak to me for a reason, M'Lord?" she asks. "If not, then I do not wish to waste your time, so I shall leave."

Sinon Lomasa wanders slowly across the room, along the walls, in the manner of a man idly setting one foot before the other. "Yes, my dear niece," he says, stopping to trace a carving that runs along the doors leading out into the corridors. He turns from that, looking at Katrin again. "Yes, I do have good reason to speak to you. You were not, you see, the only one to speak to His Majesty that day."

Katrin tenses as Sinon looks at her, her arms tightening yet again, "He summoned Markus Kahar. I know this much. The Duke was furious as me, and insulted me, and my family quite a bit, as well as struck me."

"Hardly unexpected," Sinon says with a slight shake of his head. "But, no; it is not him that I meant. That the Emperor would speak to his cousin was no surprise. But, Dianna: I, too, received a summons, at noon the very same day." The Duke narrows his eyes. "I need not point out that His Majesty was livid."

Katrin inclines her head slightly, "I had guessed that he would involves all of those that assisted in the escape that I did not want to begin with," she says coolly.

"It appears you will have what you wished for in the beginning," Sinon says, and without ado or flourish draws the sword girded to his side, though does not lift it. It remains a silent statement in his hand as he says, more loudly, "Dianna Lomasa, daughter of Iagu Paronas Lomasa, my younger brother: as Duke of East Leg, ruler of this dukedom and liegeman to the Emperor, I order you arrested under Imperial behest. You will come with me to be escorted to Fastheld Keep, where you will be delivered to the keep's dungeons."

Katrin stands quietly, not shock, anger, or pain flashing across her face, "And if I refuse?" she asks quietly.

The mien of her uncle is similarly blank, features frozen in a cold, stern expression. "Then I will have my men bind and gag you, to be transported to the Palace district as a peddler would do with his goods."

Katrin frowns at Sinon, "It would appear that more of my kin proves to be unreliable," she says quietly. "You sell your own flesh and blood for what price, dear Uncle?" she asks, her voice slightly sarcastic. "So you may continue to be Duke of East Leg?" she shakes her head, "Has my brother been a part of your plotting as well?"

"Spare me the poison of your speech, Dianna," Sinon says with a curt shake of his head. "Your tainted tongue will not be of any avail to you anymore. You have endangered the lives of countless people; rankly abused them. This ends now. What compassion I felt towards you is forfeit. I will take you to the Palace dungeons, where you will be taken care of until the day your fate comes to its conclusion."

Katrin rolls her eyes slightly, "I will be willing, if I may have final words with my brother before you take me off," she says quietly. "My tainted tongue? Have you been whispered enough poisoned words that you actually believe that I have been Touched?"

"The poison came from your mouth, Dianna." Sinon takes a step to the side and opens the door. "But there is only so much poison a snake can spew before the victim grows resistant." He gestures towards the now open doorway. "You may have a last word with Arturo."

Katrin inclines her head slightly, a frown on her lips, "How very kind of you," she says coldly, turning to leave the room.

Arturo Lomasa arrives from River Turn Keep Main Corridor Arturo Lomasa has arrived.

Arturo Lomasa makes his way into the dining hall, looking well pleased with events. His two guards are with him as always, but one is sampling honey from a pot as he walks, tasting it as the noble looks to him for a reaction.

Sinon Lomasa stands by the door, sword out but lowered, following Katrin with a frozenly blank face as she transverses the room towards the door.

Katrin basicly runs into her brother, stumbling back a few feet, before looking up, her lips pressed together, "You chose poorly, brother," she says quietly. "Our /Uncle/ takes me to the Palace dungeon where my fate will be decided."

The presence of a sword causes the guard not holding the honey to lay his hand to the hilt of his own blade, a fact that starts to distract both Baron and guard from their own honey. Arturo is just turning to investigate the shifting when Katrin runs into him, reaching out a hand automatically to try to catch whatever encountered him. He blinks at her, jaw parting slightly at her words, before wide eyes stare between her and Sinon for a moment, nbelieving.

"" It's then he notices the sword, and his eyes widen again, before he abruptly snatches the axe from his side, looking to Sinon with a mix of anger, surprise, and confusion. "Uncle, what are you *do*ing? The dungeon? What fool notion is this? You know what they'll do to her there."

"Yes," says Sinon calmly as he turns to Arturo. "I do indeed know what they will do to her. They will keep her prisoner until the day she is publically put to death." He glances at the axe in Arturo's hand. "I know also who will be the one to swing the axe that day." His eyes shift back up, cold and empty of any of his usual mirth or smugness. "It will be I."

Katrin shifts a little closer to Arturo, fear evident in her eyes. She trembles a little bit, but tugs on her brother's tunic gently, "Tury, put the weapon down. I can run from what has been coming only so many times," she says gently. "Be a good brother and do me two things. Please, do this for me."

"To Death!?" Little doubt everyone nearby has heard that, Arturo going from surprised to livid, knuckles whitening on the axe as he holds it before him. "To death for what? You KNOW she's not touched, Uncle. You know it! You'd betray your own kin? And mother, will you behead her too? What plot of darkness is this?" His own jaw sets, teeth gritted, eyes going hard and hot rather than cold and empty. He opens his mouth to speak again, before Katrin speaks, eyes shifting down to look at her aghast. "Diadem what are you saying?"

"ARTURO LOMASA!" The Duke's voice elevates to a shout without warning, and his expression shows he is not going to let his nephew into his way. "As long as /I/ sit in Heron Hall, /I/ am the Duke of East Leg! You will hold your tongue, lest you give me the impression to be of the same Taint that your sister is and force me to remove you from land and title by force! I act out the explicit will of the Emperor. I have no knowledge of how deeply your sister's sinister influence penetrated into your mind, but if you do not put that axe aside this very moment, I will consider it an act of treason against the Crown and Empire of Fastheld!"

Katrin steps in front of her brother in a protective gesture, "He is not touched by the Taint, but then again, neither am I. He merely does what he thinks he needs to do as my brother. An older, over protective brother," she explains hastily to Sinon, before turning to look at Arturo, "Tury, please, put the weapon down. Don't make me lose you because of this as well. I need you to find two people for me. Let them know what has happened, and ask them not to grieve, but to move on with life," she says gently to him. "Althea Weaver of Vozhdya, and Likan Hammersfeld, my husband, of Light's Reach," she pauses, and with great reluctance, removes the ring from her finger. "Return this to him. I will have no need for it where I go." Her trembling increases slightly. "Be strong, Tury, and find the both of them. Please." Katrin gives Silver Light's Eye Ring to Arturo Lomasa

Arturo Lomasa trembles with rage at The Duke's shout, meeting him will for will as his fingers tighten further on the shaft of the axe. Katrin's movement makes him pause whatever sought exit from his lips, staring at her as if some strange vision had sprung from the ground. He struggles for a long moment, before one hand uncurls from the axe blade to take the ring, eyes beginning to glisten. He lifts them to look to the Duke, whispering darkly. "You lied to me. You said you were worried to protect her. Now you take her to her death. Duke you are, your grace, but my Uncle you are no longer." The hand that still holds the axe goes suddenly in motion, flinging it far aside to bury the blade in the wall of the room. It's then the tears come, and he turns to attempt to clutch Katrin to him in a hug, leaning to kiss her forehead. "I'll find them, diadem. I'm....forgive me."

"Your father would delight in hearing you utter these words," Sinon remarks evenly, remaining as smooth and cold as a sheet of ice over a dark, deep pool. "My brother never was particularly fond of me. It seems as though that family tradition will be carried on at last." The Duke shrugs it off as one would a mote of dust, and points his free hand at one of the guards. "You! Signal my men. You will find them ready and assembled outside. We ride for Fastheld Keep."

Katrin hugs Arturo tightly, "Hush, Tury, it'll be alright," she says quietly, stroking his back gently. "Don't do anything stupid, and always do what is best for everyone. And you might want to try and inform Adaer as well. He might like to know that his child will end up dead soon," she adds, sighing. "Be well, brother. I love you."

Arturo Lomasa hugs Katrin tightly in return, kissing her forehead again, and weeping openly. "I love you too, Dianna. Remember that." He shakes his head as she mentions Adaer. "I suppose...perhaps it will prompt him to do something right for a change. I won't forget you, diadem." He waves a vague hand to indicate for the guard to follow the Duke's orders, then reluctantly steps back from his sister, raising his eyes to the Duke. "Yes, your funeral will be cause for great celebration throughout the family, I am sure. Don't bother darkening my portal again. You're no longer welcome here." He turns sharp and quick, moving towards the wall to work at unburying the axe.

"Is that so." Sinon almost smiles in a darkly amused manner. "I, however, give you permission to darken East Leg with your presence for the time being. Don't forget, my dear nephew: East Leg is /my/ dukedom." He shakes his head. "You are welcome to do as others in the family no doubt already do and plot my untimely demise. It was no mere accident that tore Stentor from this plane; I doubt it will be in my case." He nods at five tall, well-equipped men with no-nonsensical miens, no doubt ducal guardsmen, that arrive from the corridors. "We leave," he tells them, and nods towards the door. "Dianna... please go on ahead."

Katrin nods her head, casting a glance towards her brother once, before turning to walk out the door again, her arms wrapped tightly around her. "Don't forget, Arturo," she calls back, before looking away, still dry eyed.

Arturo Lomasa yanks the axe blade from the wall with a forceful growl, but looks back to Katrin at her words. 'I won't. I promise. Stay in the Light, Dianna. I love you, diadem. Always." He refuses to look at or acknowledge the Duke at all, moving towards the side door where the food stores are brought in, shoulders beginning to shake in a manner that betrays his attempts to choke back his tears. Reaching it, he flings the door wide and steps out, his own two guards looking at each other before moving to guard the door uncertainly.

River Turn Keep <Main Corridor> Opulent chandeliers dangle from the arched ceilings of the main corridor of River Turn Keep. The hallway extends from the biinwood double doors opening onto the courtyard to the northern archway granting access to the ballroom.

The doorway to the west leads to the spacious, well-used dining hall, while the eastern doorway opens into the master bedroom.<

Ah, " Warlan looks up, "My dear Duke, I had not thought to find you here," though no surprise registers on his scarred face. Then recognizing the young woman with him, "Nor you young lady Lomasa. I imagine the escort is for you?"

The fact that five of the guardsmen currently accompanying Sinon have formed a tight ring around Dianna should make clear that yes, the escort is for her, and not in the positive sense either. Sinon himself spearheads the group, having resheathed his sword. He nods an acknowledgement towards Warlan, stating clearly with the curtness of that gesture that he is in a hurry and does not have time for idle formalities. "I am getting around a lot these days, Your Lordship," he says crisply. "As I am right now. What can I do for you? If this is to be a simple visit of goodwill, you picked an inopportune time, as I have a delivery to make to the Palace."

"Glad to know I've now become a package," Katrin mutters to herself before giving a nod to Warlan, "Good eve, Cousin. Before it is too late, I wish to thank you for your kindness to me," she says to Warlan, before getting pushed forward by one of the guards, making her grumble to herself.

Warlan forces a simple but pleasant enough smile, "Yes, I had intended only a pleasant visit with my noble cousin." Though he turns aside to keep pace with the company. "May I ask Uncle, your reasoning in this? If I correctly guess you intend to deliver young Dianna to the palace? Did not the Emperor himself turn her out?" Warlan speaks aside to Dianna, over the shoulder of the intervening guards. "You are most welcome Dianna. Though I must caution that my concern is also for our family and its place in the Fastheld."

"So it may have been," Sinon says, nodding at one of his men to go on ahead and prepare the horses. "But I was summoned before the throne and placed under Imperial orders to put her into the dungeons of Fastheld Keep, where she will remain until the day she is put to death. And if a word of caution is allowed: be wary of her. Her tainted speech has even brought the Surrector to fall."

Katrin finds it best not to comment, following along with her guards, growling softly at she is pushed again. She tucks back a strand of her hair, sighing softly.

Warlan acknowledges the Duke's explanation with a bare glance at Dianna. "I see, then this will clear the family of suspicion then? If you do what the Vozyd Kahar could not?" Turning again to look at Dianna, he continues speaking to the duke. "I do not fear her words, they have without a doubt done more harm to her own self than any other. All else seems to rest on fear and shame, as I hear it." Warlan catches and holds Dianna's gaze, "Dianna, dear cousin, your fate seems sealed. I offered you my advice, I only wish you had taken it, for all our sakes. Now it is all but done.'

Katrin merely nods her head, "I am sorry my brother will suffer," she says quietly, before looking away, standing quietly as she guards do what they were told to do.

"Good words." Sinon nods simply, and lifts his hand, waving his men onwards. "But now we must leave. His Majesty made very explicitly clear that delays are no longer tolerated. We will speak another time, when Heron Hall looks out over happier times. Keeplight, your Lordship." And the Duke of East Leg makes for the exit with long strides.

Later on...

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.

Likan Hammersfeld stands near the Gatehouse pleading with a guard. "My wife," he says. "Katrin Ebonwood. I came with her here a week ago, and now I cannot find her. Please. She is with child."

A company of horses comes gallopping uphill, flanking a light carriage. The men bear the crest of East Leg, the red bull's head on silver, and spearheading the troupe is the Duke of that domain himself, Sinnon Danaides Lomasa. As they approach the gatehouse the company slows into a trot, with Sinon still in the lead, who directs his horse towards the guards. "Duke Sinon Lomasa," he calls out to them, "for the Keep Dungeon. Dianna Lomasa has been apprehended. Send word on ahead!" Upon which the guard -- a low-ranking Bladesman -- salutes, and stes off towards the gatehouse stables.

Katrin peeks out her carriage, sighing a little bit, wrapping her arms around herself, shifting uncomfortably in her seat. She narrows her eyes slightly, looking towards the man standing at the Gatehouse, "No...Likan wouldn't be here," she murmurs to herself, worry etched on her face, nevertheless.

Likan steps away from the oncoming carriage and stands momentarily dumbfounded by the announcement from the Duke Lomasa. "Dianna?" he stammers. "KATRIN!" He runs toward the carriage.

The sudden movement from Likan draws an immediate reaction from the guardsmen flanking the carriage. Two speed their horses between the man and the carriage, while other dismount and draw weapons. It is very much clear that this is a high-security situation, and that no one is allowed near the prisoner who is not deemed to have business there. "Halt!" Sinon calls. "Stand and identify yourself man, before I have my men lop your head off!"

Hearing Likan's voice, Katrin straightens, looking around, "Likan? Likan!" she calls, "No, go back, please," she says, before turning to Sinon, "Please, let him go," desperation creeping into her voice. "Please, Uncle, if you care for me at all, or if you ever did, let me see him."

Likan skids to a stop on the slick snow just feet away from the carriage. He arches his neck to try and see past the guards. "KATRIN!" he yells. The guards close in on him and he looks wildeyed to the Duke. "My wife," he says. "You have my wife, Katrin! Let her go!" He moves forward against the guards, trying to use his bulk to get past them.

As the man advances on the guards, the men form a tight chain of steel and leather around him. None threaten him with their weapons, as they see no danger emanating from him, but their daggers and swords are close at hand should the unforseen come to pass. Sinon turns his horse around, letting it trot closer to look at Likan from the saddle. He looks the man up and down, and shakes his head sadly. "Another one who fell victim to my niece's Taint," he says, and gestures for two of his men to remove Likan from the scene. "Get the man hence. The rest of you, on to the Keep!"

"No, please, let me see him," Katrin calls. "Likan?! Find my brother, please. He's in East Leg. Find him!" she calls to Likan, a few tears streaking her cheeks. "I love you, Likan!" she adds, before turning her attention back to Sinon, "Please, let me talk to him. Uncle, please!"

Likan shoves against one of the nearby guards roughly and attempts to grab the guard's extra dagger from his belt. "Let me see my wife!" he growls.

Likan's attempt to grab a dagger only works very marginally: while quick enough to grab the hilt of the weapon, it turns out that the dagger was still secured to the sheath with a leather strap, which gives the guard in question a chance to prevent the weapon from being taken from him. Seeing their comrade struggling with the man proclaiming to be the husband of the Shadow-Touched they escort, the rest of the guards draw steel, the ring of a dozen swords clearing out of their scabbards lingering in the air.

"Stop this madness this instant!" Sinon bellows, in the tone of voice that is inherent to all men in positions of power: harsh, loud, and not allowing for disobedience. "Stand away from my men! I /will/ have you cut down where you stand, you hear?"

Katrin trembles, watching, and hearing the swords leave their sheathes. "No, please don't hurt him!" she almost screams, tears running down her cheeks freely. "Likan, please leave. Leave before they kill you! Go to my brother. Go to Althea. Please, just leave here now. Likan, leave!" she begs.

Likan grapples with the guard who's dagger he had attempted to grab, trying to force his way toward the carriage. "Shadow take your Soul, Lomasa!" he screams. "My wife will /not/ suffer in the name of house feuds! I have had enough of this!"

"She 'suffers' in the name of keeping the Empire free from taint, man," Sinon replies, deigning to answer the angry shout with a calm response. "She had me fooled for longer than you. Count yourself lucky you get out of this... marriage... unscathed. She would have turned on you, too, before too long." He raises his hand and waves the driver to set the carriage into motion again. "If her power over you should last that long, you will be able to come see her the day her head is severed from her rump." There is no evidence in the Duke's monotonous tone of voice that he ever considered Dianna to be his favourite.

Katrin leans out the window, her hand raised, as if to pull Likan towards her, "Likan!" she calls. "Leave, please. Leave before they kill you. I love you, don't forget it," she adds, more tears running down her cheeks.

As the carriage rolls away, Likan shoves against the guard again, hand on the man's wrist, trying to wrestle the man to the ground and force the sword from the guard's hand. HIs jaw is tight with determination, muscles straining with the effort.

The effort is valiant but in vain: the guardsman, a burly veteran of the trade, who has spent long years patrolling streets and the neck of the woods alike, does not relinquish his grasp on his sword; and the longer the two wrestle like this, the clearer it becomes that before long Likan will be overcome -- especially since several of the guard's comrades make moves to intercept.

Sinon Lomasa pulls his horse around, and makes a curt gesture with his hand. "End this silliness," he orders his men. "We will not be delayed further." Upon that, the guards advance on Likan; not with their blades, but their fists will surely prove to suffice.

"No!" Katrin screams, "Leave him alone. Don't hurt him!" she shouts. "Likan, run, please. If you love me, you'll leave now! Don't let him kill you too. Likan leave PLEASE!"

As the guards advance, Likan fights as hard as he can, even against the odds. "KATRIN!" Seeing a fist come toward him, he tries to dodge and weave away.

Unfortunately for the miner, he is no match for the seasoned guards. His face snaps around as the fist finds his jaw, and he careens into the other two, who kick him to the ground. Likan tries to crawl away, but meets boot and fist instead, until bleeding, bruised, and broken, he can only groan. "I'm sorry," he whispers. "My love. My son." One last strike to the head, and blackness.

Their work done, the guards settle back atop their horses, and follow their Duke as he leads them and the carriage bearing their prisoner through the gates and into the Keep.

Katrin is openly weeping, "Likan," she screams again, powerless to go to her battered husband as the carriage moves onward. "Please, Uncle go back," she begs, but her pleas fall on deaf ears.

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