- A small village has sprouted on the edge of the Lightholder River where the cobblestone roads from Fastheld's other prominent districts intersect, in the shadow of Caryas Hill and the majestic gray silhouette of Fastheld Keep - the seat of power for the entire realm.
- Sutlers, traveling performers and other small-time merchants ply their trades along this main crossroads - competing for space with carriages hauling passengers, couriers rushing important communiques from one district to another, and the soldiers of the Emperor's Blades who regularly patrol the area.
- On the northwest corner of the intersection, next to the road that twists north toward Lightholder Bridge and the palace, sits a large tavern and inn where weary travelers can refresh themselves.
Norran Lomasa is currently amongst those guarding the rift, as he quite usually is. The Blade is pretty easy to pick out, as among those guarding the rift he may be the only or one of the few wearing almost needlessly extravagant Imperial Steel. He carries an equally elaborate shield on his right arm, with a far from elaborate oaken half-pike in his left hand. He stands near a couple of other Blades with a smug expression, looking over the crowds of Lightholder.
The little camp which had been set up near the rift is now a bit more bare, as many of the Justiciar's Claws who were maintaining it have stripped their belongings and brought them back up to Fastheld Keep. The replacement guards, meanwhile, have been slow coming in. Lucius is clomping on down the path from Caryas Hill with another Blade at his side, eyes peering over the area.
Emerging from the door to the Lightholder Tavern, Vhramis comes into view, the man looking rather impatient at something. Moving a few steps to the side of the door, so as to not block any individuals who may wish to come and go, he leans against the outside wall, intently looking about those who travel the crossroads at this hour of the night.
It seems that someone, or something, was also keeping an eye out for the ranger. With a raucus avian cackle, Medivh takes wing from a nearby rooftop, swooping down at Vhramis, seeking perch on a shoulder.
The glow is seen first, from the misty environs of the Imperial Huntswood. This close to the crossroads, the forest is little more than a bristling of shattered tree stumps, so the shroud of cerulean energy can plainly be seen as it forms an aura around the looming figure of the creature that emerged from the rift weeks ago and wrought havoc with the forces of the Church of True Light. Within moments, Marrokamir steps into the midst of the crossroads and fixes his attention briefly on the rift before gazing down at Norran Lomasa. "It grows smaller," the strange being states.
Norran is firstly, of course, drawn to stare blankly at the approaching stranger for a few moments. The stranger's words grant no immediate reaction, as the Blade is busy staring. After a moment, however, a couple quick blinks cause him to glance toward the rift. "Does it? I can't tell," he answers, before looking back to the stranger, confused. "I'm surprised you haven't obliterated us, yet."
Well, the arrival of such a lovely glowing being is kind of hard not to notice. People begin to clear out from the Crossroads at a remarkable rate. Lucius speeds his pace up considerably, followed by the second soldier close behind. He comes to a stop once he's reached Marrokamir. "You know, I tried to warn the Priest not to meddle with you. He told me you were here to assassinate our Emperor. I told him that was rubbish and he simply smiled at me. But was that necessary? You injured several people at the crossroads with debris, Marrokamir." It looks like Lucky's been doing some research.
With a surprised cry as his world is suddenly reduced to a noisy raven flapping it's wings at him, Vhramis shoves off from the building waving his gloved hands at the bird, trying to fend it off. "Medivh, I swear, you damnable.." he begins to protest, before the glow permeating the crossroads from Marrokamir draws his attention. As it has everyone else.
With the results of the last interaction with the stranger well known, the various people still out and about in the Crossroads promptly make themselves scarce. "He came into the town?" Vhramis blurts in disbelief, his distraction finally allowing Medivh the perch the bird so desired. Moving swiftly away from the building, the raven forgotten, Vhramis all but sprints towards the small gathering by the rift.
"I had no intention of hurting anyone until they stormed into the woodland and tried to kill me," Marrokamir says with a sanguine shrug. "I underestimated the amplification of my power in this place. It seems ... stronger ... than I recall." A faint smile. He turns toward the ruined wood and then waves a slender hand through the air. The glow pulsates, grows, illuminates the forest as the trunks begin to reform and stretch upward, branches furling outward in the shadows.
Norran tilts his head as he watches what appears to be the Huntswood regrowing at an /unusual/ pace before his very eyes. "As the Marshal said, the Church very rarely tends to think before they charge," adds Norran to Lucius' words, still staring at the Huntswood as he leans on the half-pike for support. "As far as I know, several horses scared and hurt some of our Blades from that blast. Property damage, mostly," idly explains Norran as the stranger speaks of the damage caused.
Lucius Nepos stares in what could be called amazement as Marrokamir reforms the trees in the forest. "Huh. Fancy that. I doubt he cares much of property damage, Norran; it must seem rather patronizing to someone with nearly the power of a Drake." Lucius finally shifts his eyes up to the extremely large man's, stroking his chin. "So what is it you're going to do now that you're here then? Would you now be willing to talk to our Emperor?"
Vhramis' little jog slows, the man almost tripping over his feet as the trees all but spring back upwards, gawking at the swiftly growing plantlife. Composing himself, he turns to regard the two soldiers and stranger, lifting his hand to swat at Medivh, sending the raven cackling in protest before taking off again. "Marrokamir..Composer?" he speaks up, eyes locking on the tall creature as he halts by the group.
"And what would I say to your Emperor," the tall stranger inquires of Lucius, "assuming I could get close enough to do so?" His brows knit and his lips are drawn into a frown as the other Fastheldian, Vhramis, utters two familiar words. Pale eyes narrow as he stares at Wolfsbane. "You seem to know a great deal for someone raised within the ignorant confines of this benighted realm."
"You really think the Emperor's going to agree to talking to him, Marshal?" queries the Lomasa, glancing side-long momentarily to Lucius, before the stranger looks toward Vhramis. Norran, too, turns to settle his gaze on Vhramis, brow quirking from under his helm. "Vhramis...what in the Shadow are you talking about?" asks Norran aloud, after the stranger speaks, before taking a concerned look around the crossroads.
"I think he might have something to say to you. There are certain facts about him that.. are better left untold." Lucius shrugs his armoured shoulders and then turns to watch Vhramis's response to the Kamir's statement, not wishing to answer for him. Norran simply gets a downward wave of the hand.
Vhramis seems somewhat unbalanced at the response Marrokamir offers. The ranger glances to Lucius and Norran again, before frowning slightly, and returning his gaze to the tall, glowing man. "..yes," he agrees. "I've come from speaking with Val'sharax? Do you know him?" he asks, speaking slowly, as if testing the waters.
A pause, then: "Passing familiarity." The Kamir chuckles. "Val'sharax dwelled on this world while the rocks that form your Aegis were still cooling within the ground itself and your ancestors writhed merrily in mud puddles." He tilts his head and laces his long fingers together. "Someday, perhaps, you shall tell me how one who is sheltered within that obscene wall managed to make contact with one of the ancients."
Norran is content to stand there and listen, unfamiliar as he is with the words and concepts being used between the stranger and Vhramis. When the stranger admits to knowing of Val'Sharax, Norran glances briefly to Lucius before returning to his nonchalance.
"Right. Someday, when you want to sit down for a few hours," Vhramis mutters at that, glancing to Lucius at his question and shrugging slightly. "To put it shortly, we're..aquaintances," the ranger tries to explain to the Kamir. "We met after..Kalath'aria.." - his tongue trips over the name - "..left to travel who knows where. But, this is all somewhat not important, currently."
Marrokamir lifts an eyebrow at the mention of Kalath'aria. "No, not important at all." He regards Lucius with a thin smile and says, "Your kind, in ages past, accomplished great ... and terrible ... deeds. More advanced? Certainly. It is hard to get as backward as you have become without *really* trying. Those in power seem to have done an excellent job of ensuring a culture of ignorance."
Norran can only stand there and listen to the exchange, trying to comprehend as much as he can. He frowns a little at Marrokamir's last words, although he doesn't speak anything of it. He keeps a firm grip on his half-pike as he watches the conversation.
"Were there people around here, I would do my best to shoot that argument down. As it stands.." Lucius sweeps his helmeted gaze around the area, making sure it's deserted before he looks back to Marrokamir, "I have to agree with you. I travelled outside of our walls, afterall. There's a great world for us to discover.. which some people don't wish us to." He gestures in the vague direction of North, first to Caryas Hill and then further past. To the educated, that's Sun's Keep way, way off in the distance. Aside to Norran, Lucius says, "Much to learn still, eh Bladesman?" A bit of a weak grin is present on his face.
"Val'sharax has named you a Taint upon the Order, in his words," Vhramis states bluntly to the Kamir, beginning to grow a little frustrated. "From what I've seen, he simply destroys things he decides do not 'fit'. "Likewise, he could easily decide to wipe out a large portion of Fastheld with it, just to be sure the taint is fully removed." The ranger shakes his head at that, rubbing at his chin roughly with the palm of his hand.
"The drake is not incorrect in its assessment," Marrokamir replies, matter-of-factly. "My presence here, even without the fracas with the Church warriors, disturbs the order that has been established on this world. However, I would counter that it was order imposed through *artifice*. Your entire civilization is heaped upon the singular conceit that the great wall protects you from the bad things outside it, when in truth it traps you all and makes you prisoners of those who wield authority here." The thin smile returns and his eyes settle on Lucius: "A fact your new Emperor knows all too well. The last Emperor knew it too."
"The most bizarre and evil thing I've personally had to deal with before this rift mess were wildlings, Marshal. I generally enjoyed believing that was as bad as it was going to get," answers Norran to Lucius with a faint grin, shifting his weight to another foot as he continues to listen. "A far cry from the confused being that flew out of that rift, isn't he? We should all spend a couple weeks alone in the wood."
"Hmm. Not much that any of us can do about it though, realistically." Again, Lucius turns to the Lomasa. His face bears a look of utmost seriousness as he says, "No. You should spend a couple of weeks out in the Wilds. Except that you can't be alone there.. because alone, you will die. We're so insulated here that we're almost completely unprepared for the real world." How cryptic. That done, he turns back to Marrokamir.
"Many of us know ways out," Vhramis states with a small shrug. "Though, you're right. Everyone else is trapped here, and even if there was a large gate in the Aegis, with soldiers allowing citizens free passage, many wouldn't take it. But, the point is, I can get /you/ out. And bring you to Val'sharax. He wouldn't come out and tell me a manner in which to possibly send you back to where you belong, and probably prefer to be, but perhaps he'd be more forthcoming if we went to him." He looks sharply to Lucius and Norran, perhaps trying to see how they may respond to that thought.
The Kamir studies the rift, with its faint crackling sound, and shakes his head. "This, I believe, is beyond even the fathomless ken of the ancients." His lips quirk upward. "Besides, who is to say that I am not in this place and time for a reason? I could go back to the past of this world, yes, but how would I bring myself to trudge through each day of my existence, knowing that *this* fate awaited my home?" He looks over at Vhramis and says, "I know that at some point, my people left this world while the drakes remained. I suspect we did not leave without some ... resistance. Knowing what I know now, I would be too much of a hazard to the continuum of history. Knowing what I know of *then*, however, perhaps I can be of some use *now*."
"Calm yourself, Marshal. Saying he was in the Wilds would've been completely incorrect, and if what you speak is true it's making that wall sound like a better and better idea if these 'Wilds' would kill us all in such a sure manner," retorts Norran to Lucius a little indignantly, returning his gaze back to the stranger and Vhramis. "That's the Marshal's word, Vhramis," a pause, before his eyes look curiously to the stranger, "As for you, Marrokamir...what is it exactly would you do to change what is now? The Church damns the profane and the people tend to follow, as blind as they may be."
Lucius Nepos is kind of at a loss of what to say when the Kamir busts out with his history lesson. He crosses his arms behind his back, and simply waits for a response from Vhramis, not necessarily affected by the Ranger's previous suggestion but more than a bit by Marro's words. When Norran speaks though, Lucius simply rolls his eyes. "I am quite calm. I am realistic. We are simply unprepared because of our ignorance. And this makes us weak."
"Some use to things now," Vhramis mutters, eyeing Marrokamir in a skeptical manner, still seeming unsure of how or what to think of him. "I don't suppose you could tear down the Aegis," he half jokes, shifting on his feet. "I know of a very young boy who would be all the better for it being gone." A moment passes, before his eyes widen in faint alarm, and he lifts his hand in a 'hold' gesture. He can't know whether he'll be taken seriously or not.
"It is only a wall," the Kamir replies with a smirk. "Your Emperor will tell me soon what is to be done. We *have* talked. We have reached an accord. I am at his disposal." With a smirk, he turns and starts walking once more toward the re-grown wilderness.
"At Zolor's disposal?" asks Norran aloud, blinking as he watches the Kamir head off toward the regrown Huntswood once-more. He glance toward Lucius, answering dryly, "I could care less about being called ignorant and weak, right now, when a man who effortlessly destroyed a decent chunk of the Huntswood and Twelve Scourges just said he was at Zolor's disposal."
"He's no man." Says Lucius as Marrokamir walks off back into the woods. "And that is more than a bit disturbing. I wonder what that lunatic has planned for Fastheld. I shudder at it, more accurately." Lucius glances up at Fastheld Keep in the distance.
Vhramis rocks back on his heels at that, looking almost afronted. "Wait.." he begins to say, watching the Kamir begin to move off. He gives a paniced look to Lucius and Norran, before moving to pursue the tall, glowing stranger. "Wait! You..I loathe to use any word such as 'evil', because that and 'good' are very relative terms. But..Zolor is as close to the term as any can come. What is he offering you?"
The Kamir stops just shy of the wood so that he can turn and look down at the pursuing human. "The accord is between your Emperor and *me*, so the terms are hardly any of your concern. However, as I understand that you are a pawn of Val'sharax and must needs report all you hear of me to the drake, I reveal what you wish to know: He offers me nothing but sanctuary against further assaults by your Church. Beyond that, we have naught to say." That business finished, Marrokamir delves deeper into the woods, his glow fading as he goes.
"I've never even seen a dragon, Shades!" Norran mutters aloud in reply, shaking his head slowly and glancing toward his half-pike. "This sounds like a lot of trouble. A lot of trouble we can't do a /thing/ about. It's the best kind of trouble."
Vhramis stares for a long moment after Marrokamir, his face darkening, and a somewhat distant look crossing over his expression. Finally turning about, he returns to the two soldiers, looking between the two. "I don't like him," he states quietly, almost fuming.
Lucius Nepos shakes his head. "How impressive. Really, I'm quite curious on how that bloody sorceror convinced our friend in the woods that it was a good idea to follow what he was saying." His voice is kept low for.. obvious reasons. People start to peek back in the square to see if things are safe again.
"Sorcerer?" queries Norran, narrowing his eyes at Lucius. "What, /now/ you're telling me that the Emperor is a Shadow Mage? What next? The Light is actually an obese chitter? I may as well start believing everything people tell me, as it's turning out they tend to be right!"
"I can't reason with that thing. I'd have better luck talking with a wildling," Vhramis states, almost talking to himself, a small frown on his face. "Especially since he sees me as Val'sharax's pawn. Which I'm not." He blinks at that, considering that, before shaking his head and looking between the two again, almost seeming to have forgotten they were there. "I have to go back, again. To the Ashlands."
Lucius Nepos just smirks innocently at Norran's statement, nodding at Vhramis. "Yes.. I do suppose you do. I wish I could accompany you out there. It's a dangerous place, even for one as experienced in the wilds as yourself. Unfortunately, I don't think that's possible. Not with the recent turn of events though.. perhaps I could swing it. If you give me a day I could possibly do something."
"Wildlands? I've never been, and that's reason enough to join," suggests Norran, grinning to Vhramis. "Haven't been on a decent voyage since 624. Although, there's the 'No venturing beyond the Aegis on pain of death' rule that I'm not entirely fond of breaking. Depends on your word, Marshal. If you need men, you've got me," volunteers Norran, beaming a bright, hopeful grin in Lucius' direction.
"Val'sharax..I remember him as being much more personable," Vhramis states with a small frown, eyeing the two critically. "..when he wasn't threatening to raze Fastheld, or kill Ashlynn, that is. If you two are coming with me, we're moving quickly. Come with light armor. I don't want you clunking around in the woods in that plate. We stay mostly out of wildling territory, thankfully, so it should be quiet going."
"Ever the optimist, I see. I know if I ask you when you'd want to leave you'll say.. right now. How long of a trip is it to get out there?" Asks Lucius, chuckling at the other Blade. "Oh, don't you worry. There's many exploitations. We're just searching for bandits, right?" A wink.
"No plate?" Norran asks, frowning in disappointment as he looks down over his brand new, brilliantly forged armor. "Well, I did keep that standard chain around for a reason. I left it back at Light's Watch, should be a short ride there and back with Rampart. Guess I'll be bringing Fortitude and Retribution, my haversack, my cloak..." Norran begins eagerly listing an obscene amount of items that may or may not include small mammals.
"If not right now, then right after," Vhramis replies to Lucius with a shrug, before turning his attention back at Norran. He stares at the man blankly as he lists provisions.
Lucius Nepos shakes his head. "No. You bring rations, a weapon, a shield, cloak, bedroll and keep it at that. We mustn't be too laden down. How long is the journey?"
"How about rations, my claymore, my rapier, a shield, the chain, and my haversack, which has a bedroll on it. That's entirely acceptable, right? I'll prepare immediately," Norran answers with a quick nod, slinging his shield over his shoulder and moving quickly toward the stables.
Vhramis glances to Lucius and thinks for a few moments, considering. "A week, perhaps," he suggests with a small shrug, before glancing to Norran as he watches him off to the stables. "It depends on our speed, really."
Lucius Nepos shakes his head in utter disbelief, fixing Vhramis with a, 'Did I just hear that correctly' look. "Lomasa! You heard what I said. Take your sabre and leather, if you've got it. If not then I suppose chain will do." A nod is passed to the man. "Yes. Well, our speed would be compromised if he decided to take his claymore with him. Bloody lunatic."
"I left my sabre back at the forge! Trust me, that claymore's lighter than a baby! Chain's all I got, the leather has...complications!" A quick conversation with the stablehand, and Norran takes his time in clambering atop the highmount, eventually managing to secure a place on the saddle with a fair amount of effort. Urging Rampart, he sets off at a trot to the south about securing his half-pike to the side of his horse.
"Whatever he brings, he can just carry, or drop," Vhramis states with a small shrug. "He's probably used to walking around burdened, anyway." Nodding his head to the Marshal, he claps him on one of his pauldrons. "Bane's View Tavern, in Wedgecrest. I'll wait there for the next few days for you two."
Lucius Nepos spits on the ground. "I'm so impressed that he actually listens to me. He's like a farmhand on his first day ranching. Alright. We'll be there.. hopefully we can leave tommorow. I need to meet my fiance's mother, see." He smiles coyly.
With a cry of, "WOO!" Norran is off like a flash of lightning toward the south once he and Rampart clear the crowds, heading off at a strong gallop along the south road.
"Great. Wonderful," Vhramis mutters, still looking rather disturbed about the nights events. He turns about and wanders off, beginning to talk to himself rather animatedly.
Lucius Nepos too heads elsewhere, up the hill as he shakes his head with a certain OOMPH in it. The crazies under his command.