The Loom and Spindle
Oak planks form the walls and floor of this shop in Vozhdya Square. Light streams from two windows on either side of the door, and from a single window on the east wall of the shop. Near the east wall window stands a short fat belly stove, two wooden chairs, and a wooden stool. Next to the stove, is the entrance to the shop's workroom.
The back wall is covered with wood shelves stacked with fabric samples and finished clothing. A long wood counter runs in front of the back wall, leaving just enough room for one person to pass between shelves and the counter. A wood stool stands behind the counter. The west wall is empty save for a door leading to a set of stairs and two additional rooms.
Ellion nods several times as Althea pours him the tea and then brings the cup closer to his lips, blowing in to cool it off. "Very good tea," he states and sips, placing it back on the table. "Greatest tea, yes. Yes! I expect no less, ayuh. In Silkfield, there is no tea quite like this, ayuh. Ha! Lady Althea, do tell -- what is Hawk's Aerie like? Never been there, no. No! Not there. Not at all. Ayuh. I want to hunt all over so one day I will, yes. Yes! There. Yes!" He nods again and beams happily and turns to Katrin. "Tell the captain about the stars, eh! The stars are beautiful." He turns to the soldier. "Ayuh, good stars they are. Nice as tea."
Into the Loom and Spindle steps a gaunt, bald man with a grisly necklace of what appear to be fingers dangling against his chest. His eyes are narrowed, predatory, as he takes in the surroundings. He takes two steps in from the door, sidesteps to the left, and then quietly regards those lingering.
Althea Weaver pours another cup of tea for the Captain, then turns at the sound of the door, and seeing the gaunt man with the grisly necklace, stands quickly. "Good Eve, Excellency," she says, her voice tight and a bit fearful. "Welcome to the Loom and Spindle. It is late, but if you are in need of tailoring, I would be happy to assist. Would you care for some tea to drive away the chill?"
While having never actually seen or met Gell Mikin up close, the descriptions as well as the rumours are enough to supply Lucius with a recognition of the man entering the Loom & Spindle. He nods to Althea in thanks, puts his tea down, rises and bows.
Katrin notes the Surrector entering the shop, and swallows hard, lifting her cup to take a sip, a soft, barely audible moan can be heard, only to those within a foot or two. Meanwhile, Victor rises his head up and shifts his body towards the new arrival, but does not make any noise.
Ellion turns to look at the new arrival and stands up, bowing several times. Unlike the rest of the people with him, he doesn't seem to share any sort of tenseness or worry. He just sits back down and goes back to sipping tea.
Gell Mikin walks slowly toward Althea. "You are the proprietor," he says, matter-of-factly. He favors each other inhabitant with a brief but measured gaze before refocusing his narrowed gaze on the tailor. "I learned of the unfortunate incident involving Dianna Lomasa. I decided that it would be best to pursue my own independent investigation, since I have not heard from the local authorities in some days since her disappearance. Did you know her?"
Althea bows belatedly, her skirts rustling in the silence befalling the room. Her eyes and head remain downcast as she musters the courage to answer the Surrector. "Yes, Excellency," she replies, her voice shakey and tight. "I did know the Lady of the Warren." She quietly sets the teapot on the table and stands with her hands behind her back, her knuckles white.
Lucius Nepos backs off calmly from the two's conversation. His eyes travel around the room before settling on his dog, who looks up at him. He ruffles his fur, safely out of sight of Gell Mikin's watchful gaze.
Katrin is sitting quiet and pale in her chair, keeping her eyes focused on the fire, her hands trembling slightly. She tries to remain as invicible as possible.
Ellion looks around, noting once more the anxiety that seems present. This time he doesn't join in, however. He sips his tea and smiles, tossing a glance in Althea's direction. For the moment, he remains blessedly quiet.
Victor pads around in a circle before settling on its haunches.
"Have you any word of her fate?" the Surrector inquires of Althea, a faint smile touching his lips. "The last I heard, brigands had kidnapped her. Any talk of ransom?" His gaze drifts briefly toward the men - it lingers almost not at all on Katrin - and then he regards Althea once more. "I have seen no indications of an organized search for a body or for whatever lair these criminals might have spirited her off to. Who knows what degredations she may be suffering at this very moment, as you sip your tea and make small talk, yes? The lack of apparent concern for such matters elevates my own concern." His voice becomes softer as he says, "I become more dogged in my own pursuits when such concerns become elevated."
Althea looks up, her eyes wide with shock. "I had heard she had /died/, Surrector," she asserts. "Kidnapped and killed was the rumor." She turns to the Captain. "Is this true, Captain Nepos? Is there hope that Lady Lomassa still lives?" She grips the chair as if over taken by a strong emotion. "I'd given up hope to ever see her again. I've grieved for her, bitter to not even be able to be at her burial." She swallows and closes her eyes.
Katrin closes her eyes, gripping her cup tightly in her hands, keeping her eyes on the fire, as she sips, a frown on her lips. Lucius Nepos arches an eyebrow, turning his body to face both Gell Mikin and Althea. "That is the rumour, Mistress Weaver. I would somehow doubt that brigands would simply kill the lady - they'd have gotten nothing out of it. More likely they'll come forward with a ransom offer." He says honestly.
"When I hunt," Ellion points out suddenly and apparently to no one in particular, "I sometimes trick the animals, you see. Yes! Tricks. Some animals run from movement, ayuh. Stillness lures them, yes. Yes! They think I am food, then they come, yes they do. Ha! Maybe the person you speak of is doing something similar, ayuh! Yes! A trick. Maybe she does it to lure, or scare off." He shrugs and beams, sipping from his tea. "Lady Althea, this is the greatest tea, ayuh. What is the dog called, Captain?"
"It has been *days* since the kidnapping," Gell Mikin intones with a grating rasp in his voice as he clenches his teeth, staring at Lucius. "If she *had* been kidnapped, a ransom demand surely would have been made by now. If she were *dead*, evidence would be found - either delivered by the murderers or perhaps discovered by the bands of relentless searchers that I continue to note have *not* been combing the very countryside for their missing noblewoman." He turns his attention back to Althea, jaw loosening a bit, voice softening.
"Given the sentiment of certain individuals I met with prior to Lady Lomasa's disappearance and her convenient vanishment on the very day she was to be delivered to me to await the Lessening, I am growing increasingly suspicious that she has not disappeared as a result of foul play but as the result of a conspiracy orchestrated by the local authorities. So, you may safely assume that if her body is not found, if no ransom is demanded, if she has merely vanished into thin air, then the conspiracy will be thwarted and the conspirators will be smoked out and pilloried, disgraced and deprived of land and title." He lifts his chin. Another smile touches his lips. "I will remain in Vozhdya to continue my investigation. Do let me know if you hear anything, yes?"
Lucius Nepos nods dutifully, and remains silent. He doesn't look particularly vexed by Gell's speech - as well, he chooses to ignore Ellison for the moment.
Althea swallow hard and stares at the floor during the Surrector's tirade. Once he ends with his question, she looks up again, her face dead calm and steady. She bows stiffly. "Yes, Excellency," she says.
Katrin is looking at her cup, tears in her eyes, though hidden beneath drooped eyelids. She trembles a tiny bit, but remaines looking at the fire, sighing softly.
Ellion doesn't seem to mind the fact that he is ignored. "Katrin, yes. Yes! I will hunt a big animal for you to cook. A gift, yes. Yes! Special. Ayuh. You look too sad. Not good, no. Not at all. No! A gift, ayuh." He nods, sealing the deal and quelling any sparks of conflict that may rise in the woman's heart before they even burst out. "Ha."
Gell Mikin now fixes his gaze on Katrin, his attention drawn back to her by Ellion's outburst. His brow furrows as she sighs. "You." He tilts his head. The finger necklace whispers morbidly against the fabric of his shirt. "Did *you* know the Lady Lomasa?"
Althea's breath ceases a moment as the attention shifts from her to Katrin.
Katrin looks up at Gell, rising hastily, bowing, "M'Lord, please forgive me. I didn't hear y'come in. Little hard o'hearing, y'know." she pauses, pondering the question, "I've heard o'the Lady Lomasa, but I can't say I knew her." she says thoughtfully. "I'm sorry I can't be more help t'ya. It'd be an honor to help a noble character such as y'self."
Lucius Nepos also shifts his gaze to the woman, his hands falling to his belt, and specifically, his sword. His right hand dances at the hilt, eyes peering at Katrin while she responds. He may have noticed something, indicated by his frown, but he doesn't voice it.
Victor pads around in a circle before settling on its haunches.
Ellion blinks as Katrin is suddenly addressed and he silently watches the exchange.
Gell Mikin narrows his eyes. He listens to the woman's voice. His mouth twitches into another grim smile. He clasps his hands behind his back. "An honor to help me? Indeed? Your devotion to the needs of the realm is most refreshing. Tell me, girl, what is your name?"
"I'm Katrin, M'Lord." The girl says, bowing again, looking up at the Surrector for a moment, before lowering her eyes once again, studying the floor between them.
Althea sees the movement of Luc's hand and her lips tighten in worry.
Lucius Nepos continues to watch the scene unfold, his hands remaining where they are. Any light traces of alcohol that seem to have been in his system before are gone, replaced with adrenaline. His eyes are wide open. Victor also seems to sense the forboding mood in the room and gets up to stand by his master's side.
Ellion blows some more on his tea and sips with a content smile. "A squirrel," he muses aloud, blinking. "Yes. It will be a squirrel. Those are good for apprentice cooks, ayuh." He looks at Katrin to offer a smile but notes instead her worry. For the first time since Gell Mikin arrived, he puts the cup down and watches with real interest.
"Your family name?" the Surrector inquires. If he noticed Lucius shifting a hand toward his sword, he either offers no indication or does not care. His focus appears to be entirely on the young woman at the table. "Where are you from?"
Althea looks from Ellion to Katrin to Lucius, her face pale and her body stiff. She shifts slightly as if placing her feet more firmly on the floor.
Katrin smiles brightly at Gell, "Ebonwood, M'Lord. I'm from up north. My family didn't like livin' in towns, so we were somewhere inbetween East Leg, and Eastwatch." she explains helpfully. She seems quite relaxed, though tense at being in the presence of a member of royalty.
Ellion remains quiet. He unconsciously begins to pat the table. Tap, tap, tap, tap. His eyes, however, remain on the two.
Gell Mikin doesn't smile. His eyes narrow above the angular nose. The nickname Emperor's Hawk may seem quite apt under such circumstances as these. "Family? Where do your relatives dwell these days?" A pause, then: "And how long have you been in Vozhdya?"
Katrin trembles slightly, "M'family died. My dear old Pa just passed away. He was the last I had, so I came to Vozhdya, hopin' t'find a new home. I've only been here a few days. So far, nothin's caught m'interest, so I was plannin' t'move on soon." she blinks a little bit, "M'Lord? I dun understand why you're askin' me all these questions. I never was important enough to be asked about. My dear old Ma said so all th'time."
A frown appears on the Captain's face. Again, silence reigns for the most part. Victor sits down, watching intently. For a dog, anyways.
Althea remains wary, yet calm as Katrin tells her sad tale.
"My pa' used to tell me I was dropped on my head as a toddler, ayuh," Ellion offers. "My ma' said a lot of stuff but I never understood because sometimes she just started talking about one and then went on about another and I never knew what she meant. One time, she was telling about birds, yes. Yes! Birds. Then it was food and drink. Like this tea. Ha! Good tea, Lady Althea, ayuh."
Gell Mikin smiles broadly. To some, this might be terribly unnerving. But it quickly passes, the smile fades back into a flatline. "A few days, you say? Perhaps ... four? Five days? Perhaps on the very day poor Lady Lomasa met an uncertain end at the hands of savage brigands on Kahar Road?" He places his hands palms-down on the table and leans toward Katrin. The finger necklace dangles, the shriveled digits swaying slowly back and forth as he speaks softly to her: "It would be best, I think, if you *did* move on. For if our paths cross again, I fear I will be far more certain of my nagging suspicions." He tilts his head, still speaking calmly. "Understood, Mistress *Ebonwood*?"
Althea visibly relaxes and stands again with her head bowed in reverence to the Surrector.
Katrin looks at Gell, blinking slightly, "M'Lord, it's only been a day or two. Three at th'most." she whispers. She trembles slightly, "M'Lord, if I wasn't so scared o'what you'd do to me if y'decided I was Lady Lomasa, I'd be honored y'thought I was a noble."
Lucius Nepos can't seem to get rid of the frown that he's stuck on his face and again, continues what seems to be working for him - shutting his yap.
Victor pads around in a circle before settling on its haunches.
Tap, tap, tap. Ellion continues to pat the table while he listens.
The Surrector just stares coldly at Katrin. "Silence your gibbering denials, woman. All I require of you is a promise that you will leave at once and never return to this township." He straightens, clasping his hands behind his back once more. "I grant you this brief armistice for the sake of your friends and for the sake of the noble house that would suffer great shame were this egregious lie to be exposed. So, I ask once more: Is this understood?"
Althea shifts her eyes in Katrin's direction, a look of pleading dancing across her green eyes.
"Yes m'Lord." Katrin says softly, bowing before the Surrector once again. "It's understood."
More taps and not a peep from Ellion, who now seems very, very interested in the exchange.
Lucius Nepos, likewise, is interested in the conversation, but for different reasons than Ellion. Mostly that his lord's honour is at stake.
Gell Mikin nods curtly at Katrin, then swings his gaze toward Althea. His eyes narrow once more, and his jaw sets beneath a grim look that conveys distrust - a dark and certain knowledge of attempted deceit. He says nothing more, however. Instead, he stalks away toward the door in silence. He glances back only once, staring at Katrin briefly - pointedly - before pushing open the door and stepping out into the street.
Return to Season 2 (2004)