Gell Mikin has survived the blast in Hawk's Aerie, but he's in grave condition, and the cost of his search for Farris Wind is more than he expected. And the final showdown with Farris brings Orell Mikin face-to-face with Zolor Zahir, whose son died under the hooves of Orell's horse a year before ...

Hawk's Aerie Temple (River District)

The solemn shadows of the Church of True Light temple are kept at bay by the soft glow of oil lanterns that flicker and gleam in iron frames attached to the walls of quarried gray stone.
Parishioners enter through an arched doorway from the Hawk’s Aerie Crossroads, passing tapestries of blue, green and yellow velvet on their way to the biinwood columns that flank the aisle that leads into the main worship chamber. Within that chamber are twelve pews, six on each side of the aisle.
The aisle ends at an open area for the temple leader to give his condemnations of the Shadow and his praise for the Light.

Zurhael Zahir stands with the Baroness, flanked on either side by two guards, one tall and strongly built, the other short and toad-like. Both look to be of ill character.

Jirand Zahir enters quietly from the square, gazing around the room. After the trouble yesterday he thought to have a look in on the injured, should they still be here.

Vhramis raises a fist in the air to greet Tor as he is nodded to. He starts to move across the room towards the wounded man, inspecting him closely as he approaches.

Damiante turns to Zurhael. "You indicated that a man named Farris Wind was the culprit in this attack?" she says. "What else have you learned? Do we know where this man can be found?"

Zurhael Zahir shakes his head. "I do not. Only that he was seen causing the attack and leaving the inn. He managed to escape amongst the confusion. I doubt he could've gotten too far, as he probably escaped on foot."

Kevares Kahar sighs as the bleeding has not, in fact, slowed down and excuses himself. "Please excuse me." He bows to Damiante before leaving.

Jirand Zahir frowns slightly and walks towards Zurhael and Damiante, "Has a search of the surrounding area been conducted yet?"

Tor rests a hand on the pommel of his rapier. Overall he is dirty, and a bit bloody, but the weapon seems to be in good shape still. He clears his throat, then addresses Damiante. "Excuse me, Baroness. You do not happen to know where I can find a good healer? My wound is small, I hate to interrupt the duties of those here when they have such an important person to deal with in worse condition than I," he gestures at the prone form of the Surrector.

Damiante shakes her head. "I've not organized one as yet," she replies. "I was uncertain what had already taken place as far as searching." She looks back at Zurhael with a tilt of her head. "I heard rumor that a merchant's horse had been stolen. Could he have escaped on horseback?"

Vhramis steps up behind Damiante as he hears her comment, "Pardon, Lady. It was not the merchant's horse. I checked on that when I heard him going at the stablehand...turns out his horse just got a bit scared during all the fuss that it ran a bit." He bows to her and Tor.

"The horse was recovered. Wind was nowhere to be found." Zurhael replies. "I believe the one who has the most knowledge of this man," he nods toward the body of Gell, "Is Surrector Mikin."

Damiante sighs and looks over to the unconscious man. After a moment, she straightens and begins to stride towards the altar with as much haste and quiet as she can manage. The healers step aside and bow as she passes. Once she reaches the prone and bandaged man she kneels and watches for any sign on movement from the Surrector.

Jirand Zahir hmms and scratches at his chin before running a hand up to his head to replace a loose strand of hair. He turns to Zurhael questioningly, "Wind..that horse sounds familiar. Do you recall who it belongs to?"

Zurhael Zahir shakes his head. "I refer to Farris Wind, the man we are looking for. The horse's name was Lexis."

Tor takes his seat again, resting with a soft sigh onto the pew. He follows the conversation, raising an eyebrow slightly at Jirand's question. The young Lord has no reason to correct the other noble, and nods slightly as Zurhael speaks. Still following the conversation, he turns his head to regard Gell Mikin again.

Jirand Zahir nods with a slight smile at his own mistake, "Well, that certainly changes the direction my mind was going."

Vhramis frowns slightly as he also turns to look at the Surrector. He slowly follows the Baroness over to him to look also. "I suppose he does look slightly like me..." he mutters to himself, having nothing else to really say.

Gell Mikin opens his good right eye. The left is swollen and shut from a burn. His mouth is also burned on the left side and swollen, but he can open it enough on the right side to speak. "Farsss..." His right hand comes up a little beside the cot.

Orell Mikin walks into the temple with his guards trailing behind him. He motions for them to remain outside the temple as he enters, nodding at Castellan Vhramis and the other nobles gathered there. His attention is undoubtedly on the injured figure of Gell on the floor. Upon hearing Gell Mikin speaks, Orell steps up quickly to listen.

Damiante gently takes the Surrector's hand. "Easy, Excellency," she says. "It is Damiante. You are safe in the Temple. But we have lost Farris Wind, Excellency, and seek whatever council you can provide." A nearby healer dabs cool water on the Surrector's parched lips.

Zurhael Zahir looks over at the Gell, walking towards him slowly. "Surrector," he says, quite calmly, as if Gell was in perfect condition, "Do you know where this Farris could've gone?" He kneels beside the cot

Vhramis' eyes widen slightly at the unexpected awakening of the Surrector. He says nothing, merely leaning in slightly to listen closer to anything he may say.

"Zol...," Gell manages to rasp. "Zir. Must. Warn."

Zurhael Zahir furrows his brow. "Duke Zolor? Is this who you mean?"

Gell Mikin nods slowly, then winces. He sighs, grunts, and then lowers his right hand once more. "Zol."

Orell Mikin looks quizzically at Gell, as he does not interrupt his speech, silently commiting his words to memory. He clenches his teeth and lines show on his cheek, as he remembers Zolor Zahir's manner and deeds.

Vhramis frowns as he hears the words, turning to look to his betters on their decision on this matter. Small fish in a big pond, afterall.

Tor relaxes in the pew, unable or unwilling to stand. His eyes remains on the form of Gell, and he strives to hear the words that the man speaks, though he does not seem like he is able to participate in such a hunt that would be called for.

Zurhael Zahir stands, hand resting on the hilt of his longsword. "He'll be headed for Fanghill." He turns to the others. "Shadow threatens to run rampant. We'll need to get to Fanghill as fast as possible. Get your horses and any equipment you'll need."

Damiante's eyes widen. "Is Zolor in danger, Excellency?" she says quickly. "Must we ride withfull force?"

All Gell can manage now is a faint nod at Damiante.

Vhramis nods his head as he hears Zurhael's command, agreeing with the sense of it. He turns about to leave, almost bumping into Orell. "Your Grace," he greets. "Seems we often times meet under less than ideal circumstances."

Damiante nods and squeezes his hand. "We will do all we can, Excellency," she says. "Rest. Light Keep." She stands quickly and strides toward the others. "You will need the city guard. I should stay with my own guard should Farris return." She looks to Orell. "Excellency Mikin, will you command my men?"

Orell Mikin straightens before Gell, "Rest well, Surrector, we will follow your instructions, " and he turns towards Vhramis, "We ride to Fanghill, Castellan." and gives a nod to the aide standing by the temple door, "Prepare my armor." and the aide heads off to the stable to retrieve Orell's armor. He then nods at Damiante, "Of course, Lady Damiante, the Castellan Vhramis will assist me, and we will follow the Zahir Lord's directions to Fanghill."

Tor seems to perk up a bit as he sees order falling together. The man nods slightly as he hears the words that are being spoken, but not knowing the location of Fanghill well, nor knowing much about Zolor Zahir, maintains his silence. Content to rest, he closes his eyes, tilting his head back a bit.

Vhramis bows to Damiante again, before spinning about to snap a salute to Orell, fist to heart. "Understood, your Grace." he says simply, before turning to rush out of the temple.

Damiante nods gravelly to the assembled nobles. "Light Guide and Keep you all," she says raising her hand in benediction.

Orell Mikin contemplates a little before speaking to Damiante, "Lady Damiante, on second thoughts, would you please leave your men here in the township to protect the Surrector, to ease my concern about his conditions. My men will be riding with us to Fanghill."

Damiante nods again. "Wise, Your Grace," she says. "My men will protect him." She smiles wanly and leans close. "Find him, Your Grace. My city is depending upon you."

Zurhael Zahir nods. "Yes, I shall guide. The route through Zahir road is, well, difficult for those who do not know it." He gestures to the temple door. "Are we off then? I doubt Farris will be polite and wait for us."

Orell Mikin nods at Damiante with a resolute nod, "We will." and then nods to Zurhael, "Thank you for your guidance." and walks out towards the door to put on the armor prepared by his aide.

Zurhael Zahir bows slightly to Damiante. "Light Keep you, Baroness." With that, he and his guards walk out.

Damiante stands at the door and watches the nobles leave. She nods to her personal guard. He begins to distribute the other guards at key parts of the temple. The healers continue their work on the wounded.

Damiante sits on a low stool near Gell Mikin who rests near the altar on a stretcher. Healers tend the man's wounds.

Tor rests in a pew, a bandage wrapped around his neck. Aside from that, the man look tired, but otherwise alright.

Gell Mikin is badly burned, mostly on his left side, from head to toe. His left arm is swaddled in damp cloths, but is apparently immobile.

As usual per her entries, Sister Laeria's presence is preceded by her chainmail boots, the subtle clinks sounding against steel and the clop of unyielding soles hitting floor. It's with a sniff of a pink nose that the faintly freckled Shadowscourge enters the temple. Her gauntlets are already removed - hanging from her belt - which enables her nude hands to rub together for warmth in the friction created from skin against skin.

One of the healers tending to the Surrector peeks under the cloth wrappings on his arm, then looks toward Damiante. "M'lady, this arm is badly burned and infected. If it gets much worse, his blood will be poisoned. He will die."

Damiante looks over to the healers and sighs. "Light keep," she says. "Do what you must Nuar." She looks up and sees the young scourge approach. She stands to welcome her. "Sister Laeria," she says. "Welcome."

Tor glances over to the newest entrant to the church. He nods slightly to the scourge. "Greetings, Sister," he comments to the woman. Then he turns back to watch the healers and Gell Mikin with some interest.

The expression that Laeria wears is one of puzzled concern, hybrid green splashed blue pools surveying the scene, gliding from Tor to Gell and finally resting on the Baroness. She grants an angled dip of her head toward her collarbones, one of her usual payments of respect. "I would bid a good eve but that would seem inappropriate. Pray tell what has happened?"

"Does anyone have an axe?" the healer asks, looking around the temple as he carefully lifts the left hand, setting it on the altar so the arm is extended.

Glancing to the tending healers, the duty-bound Sister reflexively touches the sharpened silvery katar hanging from her belt. "I have no axe; however, I do possess a blade. Will this suffice?" Laeria pulls free the weapon with a practiced twirl, barred handle held toward the healer if he does so wish to take it.

Tor stands, slightly weakly, and draws forth the blade from his hip. "I have this, Healer. It is sharp. If nothing better is on hand, I offer my blade." He glances over at Laera, half ready to sheath his own sword.

Damiante watches the movement of the blade, a slight pallor to her cheeks. "A shadow touched man named Farris Wind caused a terrible explosion," she says. "Nobles from the Great Houses now ride to Fanghill to assist Zolor Zahir, the man the Surrector believes is his next target." She places a gentle hand on the Scourge's arm. "They have no Sunkissed among them, Sister. Will you ride to aid them?"

The healer looks first at Tor's blade, then at the more elegant blade of the Shadowscourge. "It would be best, I think, if someone from the Church did this." He bows his head to Tor. "But thank you, m'lord." He stands, moving behind Gell's head and holding the Surrector's left shoulder. "Above the elbow would be best, I think."

Tor nods, sliding his blade back into it's sheath. "Of course, Healer. Wake me if I can be of assistance, I feel useless here." He settles back into his pew, watching, and perhaps dozing off.

Laeria firstly addresses the frayed Baroness, pale dusty blonde eyebrows dipping in a silent conviction. Already she has made up her mind. Shadow Touched is all the paladin of Holy Mother Church needs to hear. "This is grave news. I will personally see to it with haste. Rest assured." Stepping up to the altar, the white-gold Scourge swirls the katar about in the palm of her hand so that she now firmly grips the handle. Another katar, this one ebony in hue, joins its brother to counterbalance the coming blow. "Above the elbow." She echoes in a show of acknowledgment, gazing down at the Surrector's extended arm. "Brace steady." And without so much as a blink, the girl swings her arm into motion.

Damiante nods and watches the healers make preparations to bind the wound once the arm is free.

The arm is severed, just above the elbow. Blood gushes, but the healers move quickly to bind it. It's actually about twenty seconds after the dismemberment that the Surrector's good eye flashes open and a wailing moan escapes through his burned mouth.

A guard touches Damiante on the elbow. "Excellency," he murmurs. "You are needed outside." She nods and looks to Laeria. "Well done, Sister. He will surely live now. Go in Light and all haste to Fanghill. They will need you there." With a quick turn she leaves the temple.

Scwhing-clack. Sister Laeria's aim is straight and true, cutting through bone and muscle alike until stopping at the solid block of altar. The appendage now severed, she retracts her blade to hold down by her side, Gell's blood marring its silver surface. "Light Guides my hand." A murmur to herself before returning her attention to the painfully conscious Surrector. "Light Bless. Will he manage?"

"He will, I think, thank you, Sister," the healer says, and then goes back to quietly tending the trembling Surrector.

Laeria is standing near the altar where Gell Mikin lays in stretcher. A severed arm - Gell's severed arm - remains set atop the solid surface.

Thayndor Zahir steps into the Temple, looking around curiously. The unmistakable sound of sword through flesh makes him wince and eyes snap to the source. Thayndor takes one or two steps inside, then stops. "Sister?" he questions, looking about. "I have just come from Darkwater ... the Fleet has been watching the rivers all night. What have you heard of the search? Where has the hunt gone?"

Dipping a resolute nod to the healer, the faithful Scourge turns sharply about on the heels of her boots, armor and chain tinkling. There, she is met face to face with the Count of Darkwater. Determination of duty has turned her pleasant visage into something impassively stony. "The search carries to Fanghill. Apparently the Surrector believed Zolor Zahir to be this Farris Wind's next target." Even speaking the name brings distaste to the young teen's lips, twisting in disgust. "I ride there now with Light at my side."

Thayndor Zahir blinks. "Zolor ..." he nods. "I will ride, as well, although it may be too late."

Laeria doesn't have time to tarry and debate Count Thayndor's involvement. "You do so at your own peril, Count. I have duties to attend."

Some time later, in Fanghill ...

Goat's Horn Tavern (Fanghill)

Someone seems to be saving money on candles and lantern oil, keeping this cozy stone tavern minimally illuminated by virtue of a central square fireplace of quarried sun clay that remains stoked and burning throughout the day and night by the barkeep and his employees. The floors are strewn with amber rushes and sand imported from Nillu lands to soak up the stickier spilled beverages.
About a dozen polished shardwood tables provide seating for groups who want to socialize in the Goat's Horn, perhaps the most popular spot in the township of Fanghill. Despite the shadowy nature of the bar, patrons can lose themselves in good conversation, song and dance, or parlor games.
A C-shaped counter along the west wall is fronted by six stools for lone patrons just looking for a drink.

Zolor Zahir sits at his usual corner table, a golden goblet before him, his back to the wall as he faces the door. His mouth curls into a quirk of a smile as he watches people flowing in.

Zurhael Zahir runs in, followed by two guards. He obviously doesn't notice Zolor in the back. "Everyone! Your Duke Zolor Zahir is in danger!"

"Again?" someone quips in the crowd.

Vhramis promptly enters the building behind Zurhael. He warily looks about the unfamiliar room as he steps slightly to the side of the entrance.

Orell Mikin steps through the door of the tavern, with several of his guards. On seeing Zolor Zahir, he bows lightly and motions some of his guards to leave to guard the door and he deploys his guards around the township area outside to watch for any suspicious movements, he heads towards Zolor, his tone formal, "Greetings, Lord Zolor, the Surrector has instructed us to come to Fanghill to warn you of the possibility of a miscreant heading for you. He has blown up several buildings and is named Farris Wind."

Fael Mikin steps into the Tavern a few steps behind the others. Unlike the other noblemen, he is unaccompanied by guards of any kind. Rather than speak, he scans the inhabitants of the building, while he isn't particularly likely to recognize the man in question, years of instinct dictate his actions.

"Farris Wind comes to harm me?" Zolor Zahir inquires sardonically, an eyebrow twitching upward as he stares at Orell Mikin. "And you come to warn me. I find this ironic." His smile etches up a little more on both sides. "Of course, I also find it doubly ironic that you come too late." Slowly, a young man begins to materialize from nothingness behind Zolor Zahir. He's got a knife to the nobleman's throat.

"Come any closer," Farris Wind warns, "and I'll destroy this tavern and everyone in it."

Zurhael Zahir frowns, hand straying towards his longsword. "Shadow-touched fiend," he snarls. "This is madness. Unhand your Duke."

Vhramis stiffens as Faris makes his appearance and threat, trying to not move in the slightest. He has already faced one explosion in the past week and the prospect of facing another doesn't please him at all. "Easy, Boy." he calls across the room, trying to keep the nervousness out of his voice. "Lets relax may have survived that last wreak you caused, but this one would doubtlessly consume you."

Orell Mikin frowns, "I come at the Surrector's instructions and a desire to prevent further blood..," he starts speaking as Zolor stops, when his voice falters and his eyes widens at the sudden appearance of Farris. He turns towards Farris, his hands moving to grip at his longsword.

"It seems I'm dead either way," Farris replies, keeping the blade at Zolor's throat. "If I release him, I die. If I kill him, I die. I am already dead. It is simply a matter of how at this point, yes?"

Fael Mikin also tenses as the young man steps forward, though that tightness is barely visible beneath his armor. No longer hovering in the general vicinity of his longsword, his right hand now rests on the pommel of the weapon. Again he says nothing, since the others seem to have the talking under control. Instead his eyes sweep the room quickly but cautiously, in an attempt to come fully to terms with the situation facing them.

"The boy has a point," Zolor adds.

Zurhael Zahir stares at Farris, resting his hand on the hilt of his longsword. "Indeed. Master Farris, I must ask you," he glances at the Duke, then back at Farris, "is why you do this."

Vhramis licks his lips, trying to play the negotiator, there being nothing else he can do from his distance. He listens carefully to the questions asked and waits for Farris' response.

Orell Mikin frowns as he speaks, his face angered and red, "Indeed, what profit do you hope to gain by doing all these? Harming my sister and hurting the citizens at Light's Reach and then at Hawk's Aerie and now this!"

Farris chuckles, keeping the blade of his knife pressed to the throat of Zolor Zahir. "I did it all because *this* man is evil. I blew up that statue so you'd kill Lord Zahir yourself." He sneers at Orell. "But you're a bloody coward without so much spine as a worm has. And I destroyed the flophouse in Hawk's Aerie to get away from that awful Surrector. So, now I'm going to kill Zolor Zahir myself."

Fael Mikin defers, for the time being to the higher ranking noblemen. He remains next to the door allowing the others to interact with the crazed courier while he focuses his attention on the other inhabitants of the room. A couple of commoners seated at a table directly in front of him begin to edge their way towards the door, apparently deciding that watching the show may not be worth the consequences.

Vhramis stands tensed near the door with Fael, the both of them watching the drama unfold across the room, where Farris Wind has a knife to Zolor Zahir's neck. Orell and Zurhael stand close to the courier and Duke, both with hands on their weapons.

Vhramis calls across the room, a few beads of nervous sweat beginning to drip down his head. "Come on, boy, whats these folk in this here tavern have to do with all that?"

"Well, you did a wonderful job on the Surrector, and for that I applaud you." Zurhael grins at Farris. "Now, what did Duke Zolor do that was so evil? Please enlighten us."

Orell Mikin nods as things click together in his head, he backs away a little towards where a window can be found and with enough room around him, he narrows his eyes at Farris, "Surely there would be other recourses besides violence to resolve this? If he's evil, you can well have come to look for us to present the evidence."

"Guilt by inaction," Farris hisses at Vhramis, keeping the knife to Zolor's throat. "That's why I will kill every last person here if you interfere. They serve this man. They do his bidding!"

Zolor rolls his eyes. "Boy, really, such a melodramatic display. *I* did not kill your parents. *You* brought down the face of the cliff with that remarkable ability of yours. Blaming me may let you sleep at night."

Soft scrunches of heavy boot twisting against ground precede one white-blonde paladin of Holy Mother Church. It's none other than Sister Laeria, sibling to the Lord Constable that she now stands behind. And from appearances alone she has come well prepared and ready. Gripped firmly in her pale hands, down by her sides, are her katars, one silver, soiled in blood, and the other ebony as night. Her narrowed greenblue eyes betray an intense loathing; a twisted disgust.

Fael Mikin's gaze falls upon the departing couple as the slip slowly out the doorway and into the square. A wry grin touches his face, possibly as a though contemplating the benefits of cowardice. The grin disappears as his sister strides through the doorway and his expression becomes a mix of anxiety and confidence. He nods slightly to her as his eyes drift down towards the weapons in her hands, then tilts his head slightly towards the courier. As he turns away from the doorway, his right hand tightens its grip on the hilt of his sword as he prepares for the inevitable.

The Castellan's eyes move to the door as Laeria enters. "Sister..." he breathes. Continuing in a hushed voice, he adds, "We make a move, he'll blow this whole building."

Zurhael Zahir shakes his head. "Boy, there are better ways to deal with this than running about killing nobles. Have you tried poetry? Singing? Glass-blowing?" He pauses. "Perhaps you need to find yourself a woman."

"None of that matters now," Farris snaps, etching the blade of the knife a little into the flesh of Zolor's neck. "None of it. I might as well just kill us all now..."

Orell Mikin blinks at Zurhael, as if questioning his sanity that he is speaking in such a manner in the situation, Orell's eyes speaks of a slight relief as he notices Laeria's entrance. He looks in shock at Farris' reply, as he backs away more, as his fingers move barely perceptibly towards his guards, his mouth however addressing the courier, "Look, we can talk a little more, there can be a way..." As he speaks, the lieutenant in Orell's guardsmen move in the shadow in the opposite direction of Orell, lifting his shortbow and looking for a possibity of a clear shot to the courier from the darkness of the tavern.

Vhramis glances over to Orell and his guards as they begins to move, and does likewise, inching a bit more away from the door, finding a straight shot where he wont endanger anyone. His free hand slowly grips an arrow in the quiver hanging at his waist.

Laeria doesn't even spare a glance to either her brother or the Castellan, her focus straight forward and short sighted to the scene at hand. "The Light will Protect. Hold faith." It's not a reassurance, it's an admonishment of fact. She pushes ahead of the men tarrying at the door, blonde ringlets tumbling across the neckline of her armor. "You, Touched. You will do no such harm here this eve. By the Light, I will /not/ allow you to exact your twisted revenge on these innocents. Your dark tendrils of taint will not pervade beyond this tavern." Though young in her teens, the girl doesn't lack conviction and vehement determination in her faith. This is all too evident in her clipped words.

Farris takes the blade from Zolor's throat, steps back and brings up his right hand as if to summon his ability, pointing at the fireplace in the center of the tavern. But, thanks to the void imposed by Laeria's ability, nothing happens. Furious, he draws back the knife and lunges toward Zolor, aiming to stab him in the back.

A faint shimmering aura, first centered upon the Sunkissed teen, expands to envelop the entire main room of the tavern - including its occupants. Sister Laeria inhales deeply with a varied sense of centered stillness, but jerks into action at the sight of Farris' lunge. She springs forward after him, blades twirling in the offensive to strike the moving man.

Vhramis slides his bow off his shoulder, taking it in hand while nocking the arrow in one fluid motion. "Heads down!" he roars to the patrons remaining in the tavern as he fires his arrow at Farris, mindful to not to hit anyone else.

Orell Mikin heaves a sigh of relief as Laeria's ability seems to have stopped them all from getting killed in a giant blaze, seeing that the blade has left Zolor's throat, Orell draws his longsword and attacks Farris from the other direction (from laeria) to encircle him.

Farris is bringing the knife down in a lethal arc to stab Zolor in the back when Laeria catches him in the thresher of her deadly blades. She separates his knife hand from the arm - and then the arm from his body - before she whirls out of the path of the arrow fired by Vhramis, which strikes Farris in the left side of the chest. He spins toward the approaching Orell Mikin, and catches the Trademaster's longsword in his belly. His eyes go wide.

From his position across the room, Fael really has no opportunity to really react. With a faint ringing sound he pulls an inch or so of steel clear of the scabbard, then frowns slightly and slams it back. A cold laugh bursts from his lips as each attack strikes the courier in turn, though the sound is likely drowned out as a room full of tavern-goers suddenly attempts to place as much distance between the melee and themselves as possible.

Zurhael Zahir draws his sword, but stops as it appears Farris has already been adequately stabbed. "Feh," The Harbormaster mutters, folding his arms and watching Farris and those who've gotten to skewer him.

Grunting, the stoic-faced Sister reaches her target with a two-step dance that brings one arm arcing upward to cleanly sever the potential threat from its wrist and then half-turns her body to allow her obsidian heirloom free range on the Touched man's arm itself. Schhllng. The second amputated arm that night for this blonde youth. At Vhramis' bellow, however, she quickly extracts herself from close-quarter melee, in time to watch the arrow zing past.

Zolor Zahir rises casually from his seat at the table, stroking gently at the red scratch where the blade dug into the flesh of his neck. He turns to see the courier skewered on Orell's blade. Another smirking twitch of his lips. He leans close to the brutally wounded young man, who seems oblivious to the blood gushing from his ruined arm, his eyes fixed on the gleaming steel of the Mikin nobleman's sword. Zolor whispers something into Farris Wind's ear, and then gives him a push, off the sword. The courier's eyes roll back in his head and he collapses on the floor. Zolor taps a boot against the corpse, then looks toward Orell, eyes narrowing. "Now I find myself owing gratitude to the very Mikin who killed my son." His head tilts. "No shortage of irony this night." He walks back to his chair, settles into it, and drinks from his goblet as if nothing has happened.

Vhramis lowers his bow slowly, watching Farris drop to the ground with a grim expression on his face. He blinks as he stares for a moment, before his view is blocked by the surge of fleeing patrons. Suddenly he finds himself struggling to just avoid being trampled, as he shoves and curses the mass back.

A half-step backward places Fael safely out of harms way, his back against the wall as more people now go rushing past him. Apparently while the commoners in this township are likely just as willing to engage in a brawl from time to time, this much bared steel is unsettling. Over the crowd he watchs the conclusion of the combat with a half grin and a shake of his head, particularly as the man who had just moments earlier been a hostage to a madman, calmly takes a seat and drinks his wine.

Orell Mikin frowns as he shakes his head at Zolor, "No gratitude is neccessary, Lord Zolor, I am just following the instructions of the Surrector. It's to him that you owe your gratitude." He speaks as he straightens from his lunge and hands his longsword, blade-downwards, to his aide to wipe clean. He looks at the corpse of the shadowtouched man, "Orell abides no minions of the Shadow, in any case." and then he looks over at Laeria, "The Sun Keep will investigate him and his belongings, I assume? Lest there are more plots behind this man's motives than he speaks of?"

Zurhael Zahir hmphs. "Well. I guess that's that then. I assume I'm no longer needed." He gives a curt nod to those present. "Have a lovely evening, all of you. Light keep." He walks to the other side of the tavern to find his minions, who have hidden behind a chair during this encounter.

The rush subsided, and Vhramis only slightly the worse for wear, he stumbles over to Fael, pulling his bow back over his shoulder. He looks to the Constable for a moment, seeing his smirk, before saying nothing and turning to look over to Zolor and Orell.

Laeria keeps her readied stance despite the fleeing patrons, donning an irritation in her brow as people rush past and briefly obscure her view of the vile target. Yet it doesn't appear as if Farris will be going anywhere. The Sister actually smirks to herself while looking on the corpse. It's only Orell's voice that stirs her attention away from the scene. Her posture returns poised, attitude mellowing. "I assure you that Holy Mother Church will receive word of this. Do not fret. This matter is ours. I will search the man and see to it that his remains are but dust."

"You might deliver his fingers to the Surrector," Zolor suggests, glancing over to the Shadowscourge. "I recall he has a prediliction for severed digits of his kind."

Fael Mikin glances towards a Castellan, then back towards his sister and the other standing over Farris' corpse. "Nice shot", he says simply. As the crowd begins to thin, he moves forward, picking his way carefully between tables towards the others. Upon his arrival, he carefully places his hand on his sisters shoulder. "Brilliantly done, Sister." His tone implies that the term is used in its most official sense, though the glimmer in his eyes belies that.

Orell Mikin receives his longsword from his aide and then places it back into the scabbard. He then nods towards the rest of his kinsmen, "Well, we are done here, let's head back to Central Bazaar? We can have dinner back there." as he turns to walk towards the exit of the tavern.

Laeria awkwardly returns a stiffened not of her head to Zolor, covering up the uncertainty there his comment may have caused. "I shall keep that in mind. Although I do not think he appreciative if I were the one to deliver them." Considering the earlier escapades of that night. But she leaves them unsaid. Her brother's touch causes her to send him a final glance of acknowledgment, forcing a brief, small smile. "My thanks, but I merely did my humble duty. The Light has shown its might. No Shadow can remain hidden or uncleansed in its presence for long."

Vhramis stays standing near the door, not looking too enthusiastic with the idea of getting closer to the corpse of the ex-courier. As Orell heads over to him, he salutes the man, before turning to walk out of the tavern, pausing only long enough to toss another look.

Zolor Zahir smirks at Laeria, inclining his head, then takes another sip from his goblet.

Now that the fighting is over, the tavern really begins to return to normal. Death seems to have little long term significance for these people, provided it is not ones own death in question. Fael looks around him as people settle back into their seats and begin to order more drinks, then leans down to examine what remains of the infamous courier. A thoughtful frown touches his lips and spreads across his features.

Zolor Zahir sets down his goblet, glancing over at Fael and his fascination with the corpse. "Never seen one before?"

Laeria's boots clack lightly on the hardwood floors as she joins her sibling to stand beside the corpse. She examines his face a moment. "What troubles you?"

A soft chuckle escapes the Constable's lips at what surely is a jest. "Never seen /this/ one before", he says, then lifts his face slightly. His thoughtful expression softens at the sound of his sisters voice. "Nothing troubles me, good Scourge, especially with you here to protect me." He grins, then shakes his head. "Death is oft times a source for sombre thinking."

The dutiful Scourge slips into something more relaxed and genuine at her brother's half-serious jest. "What are Sisters for?" It's a play on words obviously. One that she can't hide a smile from. Well, until he mentions somber times of death. "He is marked of the Shadow. It is not death. It is righteous. It is justice. It is the way it should be." Laeria shakes her head a few times, blonde hair swaying. "Do not mourn for darkness. There is no call for it."

Zolor Zahir finishes off his wine, then stands, sliding the goblet aside. He grimaces at the corpse on the floor. "Well. Do with him as you will. I will send my sincerest commendation to the Church for your effort tonight, Sister." He smiles, then turns and makes his way across the tavern toward the door.

"My deep gratitudes to you. I do appreciate it. May Light continue to Keep and Watch over you as it has this eve." Sister Laeria imparts to the Zahir, bowing her head in trademark respect and acknowledgment for his departure.

Carried on feet shod in chain, Dathos Mikin plods into the tavern, heralded by the steady chink, chink of steel. His armor looks hastily donned, several of its clasps and buckles as yet undone. And neither cloak nor hammer grace his stooped back.

Fael Mikin nods respectfully to the departing Zahir, though as his eyes follow the man's progress towards the exit, his expression betrays a hint of distrust. Raising his arm to his sister, so that she may help him regain his feet, he shakes his head slightly. "You mistake me, Lae" He purses his lips, "I don't mourn for him, I merely consider what he may have been, had he not been born with the taint, and I consider the pain he has caused to others." His eyes shift towards the newly arrived Scourge and he smiles faintly to the man, though he says nothing to him, yet.

Fanghill Township (Fanghill)

About halfway up the gray-green heights of Fanghill Peak, the rough dirt road enters a town that feels dark and oppressed, as if the very stones that form the buildings are shrinking away from the forbidding castle that perches atop the peak.
The town of Fanghill was settled nearly seven hundred years ago by Avram Zahir, the father of Gavor Zahir and grandfather of Goram Zahir. Avram Zahir oversaw the construction of the bleak fortress known as Fanghill Keep, and it was that castle that Goram Zahir inherited when he rose to prominence in service of Emperor Talus Kahar I.
But Fanghill fell into ignominy and shame throughout the realm when Goram Zahir betrayed the Emperor and hundreds of Bladesmen to a Wildling ambush along the Fastheld River.
These days, the township and keep are ruled by a dour and merciless man known as Zolor Zahir, who is suspected to have links to gambling and other vices in the Shadow District. It is also well known that his only legitimate son and heir, Zolde Zahir, died after being trampled by a royal Mikin's horse while in service to the Emperor's Blades. Ironically enough, the torch towers of Light's Reach are often visible from the edge of town, blazing day and night.
The main dirt road continues to climb the peak toward Fanghill Keep, while other roads twist off toward the farming terraces and mines that help provide resources for the township.

Aylora's brow furrows. "Claimed innocence?" she says. She looks toward the Tavern. "So he killed to save us? Strange way to be a hero." She tugs on her bandages and winces slightly.

Zolor Zahir emerges from the tavern, then makes his way uphill toward the forboding keep he calls home.

Orell Mikin shakes his head, nodding to Zolor Zahir as he passes, "I think the Touch of the Shadow has driven reason from his mind." he speaks to Aylora, "The Scourges are already inside and I had best return to Hawk's Aerie to check on the Surrector."

Aylora seems lost in thought, then a gasp escapes her lips. She puts her hand to her throat and seems to waver slightly. Turning away she reaches out to a nearby horse to steady herself.

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