Hall of Blades <Fastheld Keep>
This masonwork edifice is partially contained within the western wall of Fastheld Keep, but extends about twenty feet into the main grounds of the fortress. The ceilings are buttressed with seasoned brownwood rafters. Stanchions line the broad corridor, which ends to the west with a flight of steps that lead up to a dais that holds a large bronze gong that's emblazoned with twin swords crossing each other above a crown.
Doors lead to the facility's armory, spacious training hall, and the Blademaster's office. Steps lead down into the lower portion of the barracks.
Hartnek Lomasa is standing outside the training hall, arms crossed under his chest as he watches two Bladesmen match polearms against each other on a cushioned mat. Rain patters lightly beyond the archway that leads out into the keep.
Raindrops spatter off of her cape and otherwise make her fine silk outfit rather soggy and waterstained, as Sahna walks into the main hall. Under one arm she carries a package wrapped in oilskin, expression drier than the rest of her. She turns automatically towards Hartnek's office.
The Blademaster hears a sound scarcely louder than the droplets of water splashing outside: The footsteps of Sahna Nillu. His gaze shifts from the ongoing contest between his warriors to the arriving assessor. He starts to open his mouth to say something as she turns to approach his office. His mouth then snaps shut and twitches into a smirk. He opts against calling attention to himself just yet.
She stops at the door and gives it a good pound with her fist. "Hartnek? " Pausing, the Assessor watches the door, waiting for the answering growl.
The smirk gets a little broader, but Hartnek remains silent, observing Sahna's efforts to get the attention of someone inside the office.
A cross expression replaces the neutral one. No growl. No Hartnek. She pauses another beat to wait, pounding again, then gives it up. She raises her voice and calls, "Hey, where's Hartnek? Did the healers finally manage to get him unstuck from the chair?"
Hartnek's brow furrows at the jibe. He stifles a hrmph! and then looks toward the two Bladesmen locked in combat. He ponders for a moment. The smirk returns and then blossoms into a wicked smile before he puts his hands on his hips and bellows into the training hall: "IS THAT YOUR IDEA OF DEFENSE, TWIG?! I'VE SEEN A BILLOWING SHIRT ON A LINE PUT UP MORE OF A FIGHT AGAINST A STRONG BREEZE!"
Horn works, try the lights! Sahna's startle-reflex is pretty decent, apparently, since she drops the oilskin on her feet. Parchment spills out across the floor of the blades hall. "There you are." She murmurs, sticking a finger in one ear for emphasis. "Inside voices, Hartnek, are a delightful concept."
"Don't you be telling me how to do my job, missy, and I'll not tell you how to do yours," the Blademaster snarls grinningly. "Good on you getting back in the Emperor's good graces, by the way, so you got a job to do again." His eyebrows arch as he peruses the spillage on the floor. "Still working your way up to getting an assistant again, though, I take it?"
"You'd try if you thought you could get away with it!" Sahna replies, with a wicked return smile. "Yes, I was terribly worried about being able to afford food and all. Might've had to sleep on the street or something. Really, though, I'm charmed! You can be my assistant any time." She kneels to start collecting the papers, reaching out with gloved fingertips.
"I might help," the Blademaster replies as he lets his arms fall to his sides and starts walking toward the office door, "but the healers said I shouldn't overdo it after wresting me free of that chair." He steps over a couple of parchment scrolls on the floor, then pushes open the door and walks inside.
Blademaster's Office <Fastheld Keep>
This chamber serves as Blademaster Hartnek Lomasa's official private space on this level of the barracks, where can meet with individual soldiers and visiting dignitaries, but it isn't designed for frequent occupation. It has a few wooden chairs, a writing desk with inkwell and quill, and a tapestry featuring images depicting an assault on the fortress by werebeasts some three centuries ago.
"Well, that's true!" Sahna replies as she tails after him, both eyebrows raised. "Has anyone filled you in, when it comes to the council meeting we've had?" She glances around the office, absently. "Also.. How's morale, right now?"
Hartnek Lomasa shrugs. "Morale's been better, but it's been worse too. Mostly, the men are nervous about this whole Lightbringing business." He settles into his familiar chair, hands settling on the armrests. "Why?"
Sahna starts speading some papers across the desk, most of them covered with figures. "The reason I ask is because we're planning on expanding our protection to the people living outside of the walls." She answers, softly. "I know we only have a finite amount of blades, and going out there is still considered mostly taboo."
"This about the Aegisport Gate and our elements out in Crown's Refuge?" the Blademaster inquires with a knowing smile. "Aye, got clued in about that, I did. Not a bad idea. Kind of exciting, really. And with the Church getting some wild ideas about its place in things, well, I know some of the men won't mind a good excuse to get beyond the Aegis now and again. Of course, the Church gets wind of this ... well, not likely to go over well with their kind."
"Exactly. " Sahna replies, brightening. "You know, I wasn't certain what you'd make of it. I don't think Oren likes the direction things are going, in some ways." She reaches out, to tap one of the papers. "How many men do you think you can safely detach for this? There's the initial supplies we'll need to ship by water, but I don't know what kind of kits you want to outfit them with. Oh, the church doesn't like it at all. That snide little bastard was there for the meeting. I swear, I just wanted to slug him."
"Snide bastard? You must mean Bandus Flint," Hartnek remarks with a chuckle. "I *did* slug him. Once. Some time ago." He takes the indicated paper in hand and starts perusing it. "When are we thinking of sending them out. The amount I can afford to dispatch on such a mission would depend a great deal on weather conditions. In the chill of winter, the Wildlings move just about not at all, so we can afford a few more off the Aegis."
She stares at Hartnek for a moment, mouth twitching. "Allright, just for that, I won't call you any more pet names.. In public." She leans back for a moment, considering it. "The first bunch.. Let's call it a wave, will go out by the river, on some borrowed Darkwater ships or even some other set.. Shallow-bottom ones, I think, since we don't know how the river is outside the walls, smaller and more manuverable to minimize the loss. That set should be sent out as soon as we can, I think. They need the help out there, and we can throw materials and men that way, for construction of an outpost and general fortifications. Eventually we'll need to cut a land route, probably means serious wildling-cleaning and road-building. /That/ will be a ways off."
Hartnek Lomasa nods slowly. "Fifty men, at least initially. Given weather, mishaps, misadventure...at least half end up in Crown's Refuge to aid in defense and provide training for the civilians in town. Come the thaw, we can think about the next wave, yes?"
The Assessor mulls it over for a few moments, then nods. "For the military, yes. But let's also send some specialists. It costs less to send a man to check into what kind of stone can be quarried on-site than to plan on sending Fastheldian stuff. They may even have techniques or resources unknown to us. That /does/ remind me.." She grimaces. "Your Guardian Nepos is in trouble with Flint. He came to the council meeting with a glowing shield."
Hartnek Lomasa laughs and shakes his head. "Knapsack should have *known* the Churchies were running around the grounds." He sighs. "If Bandus Flint wants to come gripe to me about Knapsack, he can do so and I'll send him away with another ruptured nose." He shoves the paper back across the desk to Sahna. "You worry about the specialists. They'll have Bladesmen to protect them on the way up the river."
"He's not going to come gripe. He's practically ordered Nepos to report in to Sun's Keep.. Well, I don't remember the exact phrasing, but I'm certain he wasn't going to bother to go through you first. To make things worse, /Rowena/ showed up with a glowing ring." Drumming her fingers for a moment, Sahna nods. "Allright. Are you going to send the Flying Daggers on this? Might be good for Nepos to get past the Aegis for a while. Same with anyone that Flint's bothering, if ya ask me."
Hartnek Lomasa nods. "He can go, aye. Just as soon as His Majesty makes his baronet thing official, Knapsack'll be free to go."
"Well enough.. Good people deserve the recognition. Now, these other papers are mainly things that have been discussed verbally.. A few contractor estimates, some outfitting costs. I need you to decide what gear they're going in, since platemail might not be ideal. When you designate someone in charge, can you send them to me so we can coordinate?" She flashes another grin, this time impishly. "Or if you prefer I could come see you more often instead."
Hartnek Lomasa growls, peering over the newest set of papers to snarl at Sahna. "Knapsack. If the Daggers are going, he can outfit them. Deal with him."
"Right, I'll send him a note tonight, he can report in the morrow. " Rolling her neck to work out a stiffness, Sahna pulls herself to her feet. "I'm looking forward to the noble's ball.. Heh! I'll bet you that if you show, you'll be in uniform and won't bother to dance. "
Hartnek blinks. "A ball? Totally missed that on the royal calendar. With dancing? Hrmph." He suddenly seems much more interested in the information on the pages before him. "Have Knapsack give me a requisition for anything he'll need for the mission." He shoves the papers back toward Sahna. Smiles faintly. "Get one of the men on watch to carry a hide or something over your head on the way back to your tower. Make sure you don't drown."
"I've got your type so pegged." Sahna brags, with a smirk. She reaches out to take the papers, with a low chuckle. "Oh, don't worry. I'm skinny enough that, if I try, I can sneak between the raindrops." She jogs ger eyebrows, grinning again. "Still, it's a pity. Goodnight, Hartnek."
Hartnek Lomasa grunts. Nods. "Night," he growls.
Return to Season 3 (2005)