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Central Bazaar <Market District>


Massive archways adorned with bas relief sculptures grant access to the central bazaar from the main thoroughfares that pass through the Market District: Providence Road to the west and east, Market Road to the north, and Guild Row to the south.
The corners of the bazaar are marked by monolithic statues by artisan Harlim Nillu. The northwest corner features a forty-foot-tall rearing mongoose, the familiar of House Mikin. A snarling mudbear looms in the northeast corner, signifying House Nillu. At the southeast corner rears a stallion with an armored rider, the symbol of House Seamel. The southwestern corner is dominated by the massive form of a solid, intractable bull with curved horns, representative of House Lomasa. In the center of the bazaar rises a fifty-foot-tall snarling, rearing wildcat of House Kahar.
Conspicuously absent from the statuary homages to the noble houses of Fastheld is the raven of House Zahir. In his entire career as an artisan of Fastheld, Harlim Nillu refused to craft the visage of the raven. He considered them an ill omen, particularly given the traitorous behavior of Goram Zahir during the First Wildling War.
Although some small concessions have been made to recognizing House Zahir on Guild Row and in the market quads, the city-state has remained true to Harlim Nillu's vision for the dominant design of the bazaar - free of significant Zahir presence.

Trudging along the road from Guild Row is a man hauling a bulky sack slung over his shoulders. He's humming off key to himself, probably to try to take his mind off the cold.


"His favorite color is red I believe. Maybe a nice red dress." Aughol says quietly, accompanied by a wink.


Neriym Zahir nods quickly, pensively, "You know Cousin, you're on to something there. He could probably use one too, knowing him."


The sack laden man is wearing red! As uninteresting as that is, it's true, though the tunic looks rather well worn. A random breeze brings his humming to a halt and he curses quietly, tugging his cloak around him a bit tighter.


Aughol Zahir grins as he catches sight of the man dressed in red, pointing at him with a grin. "Or we could get him a tunic like that and force him to wear it."


Neriym Zahir stands back and admires Chriss after listening to the Zahiran man, "Yes, very fashionable. The commoner look is quite popular amongst the families at the moment, if I'm any testament. Yes, let us buy him one of those, a battered old tunic. It'll match his features to the letter."


Criss glances over to the pair of nobles as it becomes clear he's being spoken about. He regards them with a faintly suspicious expression before he hastens his steps, turning towards the northwest quad.


Aughol Zahir snickers softly as he watches Criss head off, "I don't think he liked us talking about him."


Neriym Zahir shrugs a little, watching the man, "We should buy the tunic off him. At least he couldn't think badly of us then, even if it doesn't matter in the slightest."


If he doesn't look at them, maybe they'll forget about him. At least, that's the philosophy Criss seems to be going with this evening.


Aughol Zahir smiles at the suggestion, nodding slightly. "Go ahead, and ask him."


Neriym Zahir hikes up her skirt a little, giving her the ability to at least jog, and she hurries over towards Criss, at the most ladylike pace she can manage.


From Eclipse's saddle, Chaori Balsam rides in from the west along Providence Road. Once her horse and wagon come to a stop, she reaches into the saddlebags and hauls out a map.


"Light help me," Criss whispers to himself as he hears footsteps approaching, taking a guess that it's one of the nobles. He turns slowly about to look, staring at the Lady as she nears.


Neriym Zahir lets her dress go as she nears Criss, and begins walking over to him calmly. When she's close enough, she says to him, "You there, Lady Zahir has come to make you a generous offer."


Aughol Zahir glances away from Neriym to scan the bazaar, smiling slightly as he sees Chaori. Raising a hand in a wave, he calls out to her. "Good evening, Miss Balsam!"


"You're offering something?" Criss asks her, glancing to Aughol briefly. "If it's about gems or stones, my boys and I haven't been mining since the cold set in..."


From Eclipse's saddle, Chaori Balsam calls down from her saddle, "Good evening, Baron Aughol! Have you found an artist yet?"


Aughol Zahir steps towards Chaori, waving in the direction of Neriym. "My cousin, Lady Neriym, has seen fit to join me at Outroost. She's a painter of middling talent."


Neriym Zahir dismisses Criss' notion with a flutter of her hand. "Your tunic, I will be purchasing it from you, as a gift for another. How much will this be setting me back...?" She raises an eyebrow towards him as she produces a small pouch of coins.

Chaori Balsam says to Aughol, "Wonderful! I am certain your esteemed relative is an excellent painter and will understand what you want. Where, pray tell, is Outroost?"


Maybe Criss didn't hear her correctly. Or he did, and he just doesn't think so. "My what?" he asks, reaching his free hand to pat at his chest in no small amount of confusion.


"It's a short ride north of Hedgehem. Feel free to drop by whenever you'd wish, though it's in a state of disarray at the moment." Aughol grins, glancing briefly back to his cousin.


Neriym smiles a sweet smile, then speaks, "Your tunic Good Sir. That piece of cloth around your torso. Do I need to repeat the second half of my generous offer?"


Chaori Balsam says to Aughol, "I shall have to ride in search of it, when the weather improves. I was in the neighborhood once, but the fog was rolling in. If my duties permit, that is. I think I was robbed by the Imperial Tax Assessor," she concludes in a tone of rueful admiration.


"Ah...I'm not a clothes merchant, ma'am...Lady...something," Criss answers a bit slowly, beginning to look a little uncomfortable with all of this. "And I don't want to be running around in this weather without a shirt. But, if you really want to spend money, I can sell you some of these candles I got from the chandler." He laughs dryly, gesturing to the sack slung over his shoulder.


Neriym Zahir simply inquires, "One thousand Imperials?" and holds up the small pouch.


Aughol Zahir raises an eyebrow, a slight frown replacing his former grin. "How so?" Catching a bit of the conversation a short bit of way he turns. "Neriym, do me a favor and buy a few of those candles!" After this he turns back to Chaori, watching her intently.


Chaori Balsam asks Aughol, "Did you hear the criers announcing Imperial properties to rent?"


"...and another two hundred for some of these candles, since my dear dear Cousin is too busy with..." Neriym glances towards Chaori, "His lady friend."


Chaori Balsam continues, "I spoke with the estimable Imperial Tax Assessor yestereve about renting a cottage. She traded me a cottage in Sweetwater in exchange for looking after everyone in a rather long triangle. Lightholder and the Palace are on one end and Eastwatch and Aegisview are on the other. I was robbed."


Aughol's eyes seem to get a bit bigger as he hears Chaori, before grinning slightly. "Wow. You're not kidding. How big is this cottage?" He inquires.


Chaori Balsam tells Aughol, "I don't know. I haven't been there yet. I only received precise directions and the key early this afternoon."


The dry, nervous laughter fades away rather quickly as Criss looks between Neriym and Aughol, the disbelieving look being replaced by something of wonderment. "Light. You're serious, aren't you? Look...I'm quite sure that whoever it is could really use my clothes..." He begins to take some steps backwards. "And I'm sure that his lordship needs these candles immediately...but both of these commodities are either in use, or going to be put to use rather soon."


Neriym Zahir sighs softly, dramatically, and tucks her pouch away. "Your loss... take care then." The woman whirls around and walks off towards Aughol and Chaori.


Aughol Zahir nods slowly, before speaking. "Well, if the cottage is not to your expectations I can offer you a small room at Outroost in exchange for you acting as the Keep's healer." His gaze once more shifts to Neriym, but turns back to Chaori after seeing her walking in his direction.


Chaori Balsam replies to Aughol, "That is very kind of you, noble lord. I should really wait on such a decision until the Royal Healer returns from the mission she's on. In her absence, the Palace may be summoning me."


Criss watches the noblewoman walk away, still looking a bit shocked. Though he still gets a good look at her form, before shaking his head and continuing on his way.

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