Shrine of True Light

A small garden, basically a well-kept patch of lawn bisected by a pathway. It is shadowed by two trees to both sides of the path, with a bench set between them on either side.
The path ends at a sunstone: a man-high slab of marble, engraved beautifully with the Eight-Rayed Sunburst.

Chaori Balsam smiles, seemingly pleased that he approves of the pie. "I'm sorry," she says to Savarius. "I've always been fond of solving mysteries and I don't know what else to say." She, the Shadowscourge and a guard in black and violet are all getting soaked to the skin.

It is a quite cold evening. The slightest breeze stirs over the land infrequently. A thick curtain of water drenches all under the sky.

"Ah.. Well, if you d-do have any additional information, it would be welcomed.. But you m-must understand, child, that I cannot merely sp-speculate and converse over the deaths of two of my brethren. I thought you perhaps knew one of th-them and that your heart n-needed the balm of discussing the situation; As it is, all I can t-tell you is that father church takes c-care of his own, and that the g-guilty parties, when caught, will be punished." Savarius smiles faintly, dawnstar armor creaking as he moves.

A cloaked and hooded figure slogs down the damp pathway, slowing as she spies the two figures. A gentle nod is given as she passes on her way to the large sunburst carved into the slab of marble.

Chaori Balsam nods back to the cloaked figure, but lets her be. "I never met either, Reverend Sir," she says to Savarius. "I thought you had and might need a little balm yourself. I wish I knew more than the heralds do, but I do not."

Savarius nods gravely to the cloaked figure, before turning back to Chaori. "A kind thing for you to s-say, my child, but I am a sh-shadowscourge of the L-Light. Life and death are merely parts of the cycle, and I am well enough acquainted with both that I am at p-peace. The heralds have told all that needs to be s-said on the matter."

The figure reaches the slab and slowly kneels before it. From the folds of her cloak a hand appears holding a handful of snowy white flowers. Gently she lays it down in front of her.

"I will send word if I encounter an-any who need a healer." Savarius answers, with a faint smile. "Light bless you, child." With that, he turns on a booted heel, striding down the well-maintained path away from the shrine. Ester bows her head forward and starts murmuring quietly just under her breath. The rain drips incessantly off the hem of her hood adding to the puddles that are forming around foot and knee.

Chaori Balsam bows her head in prayer for a moment, but remains standing right where she is.

The figure lapses into silence for a goodly amount of time, before standing and turning from the stone. It is only then that she speaks out loud. "Good day Mistress Balsam," comes the voice from insider the hood.

Chaori Balsam replies, "Good day, Lady Ester. I didn't disturb you, did I?"

"No, it is a public space," Ester replies with a polite smile, "No one holds rights over another here."

Chaori Balsam's answering smile is sympathetic. "Shall I leave you to pray, lady? It can't be easy to talk to me and pray at the same time."

Ester shakes her head, "No Mistress. I have said my prayers for the day. But I do appreciate your concern." . Chaori Balsam politely says, "You are very welcome. Did you wish to speak to me?" She peers at Ester for a moment, studying her for signs of illness."

Ester shakes her head, "Nye Mistress not particularly. I was making polite greeting is all. But I do wonder why you are out and about in this weather." She smiles slightly, in attempt at light conversation, "I would assume that you as a healer would know how bad it is for you."

Chaori Balsam chuckles. "I came out on a condolence call. Yes, I almost stayed home." She pauses for a moment, then adds, "I think we should all get out of the wet."

"Perhaps that would be a good idea," Ester states and looks down the path. She takes a step, "No need to be out unless it is needed I suppose."

Chaori Balsam agrees, "Certainly not." She takes a few steps towards her guard and the exit. Ester glances at the guard as she walks down the path towards the main crossroads, "Do you feel yourself in danger Mistress Balsam?" Ester inquires.

. Lightholder Crossroads - Interdistrict Carriage Hub <Palace District>

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.

Chaori Balsam replies, "After Duchess Gabriella Seamel produced a weapon in front of the gates of the Tribunal and threatened my life, the Baron insisted that I have a guard. I didn't have the heart to refuse."

"Ah I see," Ester says simply with the faint hint of amusement tainting both voice and expression. She starts fiddling with the finger on one of her gloves as she walks.

Chaori Balsam says, "I thank the Light that the Imperial Justiciar heard my scream. Anyway, I do feel better knowing that someone with me is prepared to unblock doorways."

Ester quirks another small smile and looks straight ahead. "Yes it is troubling when one feels threatened, whether it's real or not," she comments. She switches her fiddling to her other glove.

Chaori Balsam walks along, not fiddling with anything. "It most certainly is," she says, "and some kinds of threats should always be taken seriously."

Ester pauses for a moment before responding her expression lost in the security of her hood. "And you truly believe that the this threat is real? What did the Justiciar say of it?"

Chaori Balsam says, "The Justiciar was greatly displeased to have such things going on right in front of the Tribunal. He said that House Seamel's affairs are not above the Emperor's affairs, nor are they above Imperial Law. He prefers written proof and witnesses, by the way. Speaking of which, I wonder whatever became of the snaplizards in those fields?"

Ester stops and turns her head to gaze at Chaori. "Written proof and witnesses? For what? I believe that you have left out an important part of your explanation. For you see I have little clue why you or Duchess Seamel were there in the first place so it is difficult to make sense of it." She nods, "As with the snaplizards. Were they part of the problem in some way?"

Chaori Balsam says, "I was there at the Hall of Healing because I was filling in for the Royal Healer at the time. Lady Broess Seamel had come to call on me and was offering me a guard when the Duchess arrived. Her original purpose was to get help with snaplizards in her fields, but it flew right out of her head at the sight of me. That incident was the worst the Duchess has ever been, but it's not the only time, not at all."

Ester listens quietly to the explanation. "And the Duchess flew out of her head for no reason?" she inquires. Her hood slips back enough to see her face and a brow lifted in question.

Chaori Balsam says, "None whatsoever. She does that around me. The last time she noticed me and was in her right mind was the night the Emperor died. She called me several things I refuse to repeat, threatened to strangle me in a dark spot some night and promised to have my tongue cut out. She was threatening the poor Blades charged with carrying out her husband's orders with her husband, too."

Ester regards Chaori with silent thought. "I see," she says her sceptism apparent in her tone. "Though I make little judgement of the behavior of the Duchess I find it difficult to believe that you have not least some inkling of what did provoke her. In my experience there is very few of these types of situations that just arrive out of the blue."

Ester and Chaori are conversing near the path that leads to the shrine. They are both quite damp and sodden looking.

From Rei's saddle, Yah, Yah! Gallop and away! Well, not really, but Ganeos does tap his heels into the flanks of his horse, reins carried in one hand, joining the light traffic on the road. An easy trot, not so fast that it's likely he'll make it into local town crier's wailing as a baby killer, but fast enough that it doesn't seem like he's wasting time.

Chaori Balsam is, fortunately, out of most traffic paths. She says to Ester, "You might do better asking that question of the Duchess, or the Duke. I remember that the first time she flew into a rage was when he very kindly invited me home from the Sprouting Keg to call upon her. Fortunately, that was a cold rage."

Ester casts a side-long glance at the source of the sound of the approaching horse. She smiles weakly at Chaori, "Well yes I could ask. Though it is not her opinion that I am interested in at the moment. It is your opinion Mistress Balsam. I just cannot fathom that you do not at least have an opinion of what the source of her rage may be." Another weak smile, "There is no judgement here. As you see I have passed none so far on the particulars of the situation. Only that there is always more then one side to every story."

From Rei's saddle, Clickity-clap. Clickity-Clap. Ganeos slowly turns up the road that leads to the shrine as well, moving along at an easy pace. He spots the two wet women, quirking an eyebrow at the sight, tapping his heels again to urge a slightly faster pace. Curiosity.

Chaori Balsam coldly replies to Ester, "I do not know. At this point, neither do I care. I tried to apologize to her for speaking as my teachers spoke to me on the steps of the Tribunal, at her husband's request. She ignored it." .

Ester looks a little confused and queries, "Your teachers were involved as well?" She looks apologetic, "And please forgive all this questioning. You see it is a matter of some import that has ramifications far reaching."

From Rei's saddle, Ganeos jerks his hood back, pulling up alongside the women. His normally oiled hair is just as slick as it normally is, but no longer with the sweet smelling liquid. Water is sufficing for now. "Ladies," Ganeos says, "Quite a day to be out and walking at one's ease, isn't it? You'll catch your death from the cold."

Chaori Balsam smiles brightly at Ganeos. "Hello, Baron! Yes, I should be getting home out of the wet. How are you and how is your fiancee?"

Ester turns, nods and bows respectfully, "Greetings, m'Lord."

From Rei's saddle, Ganeos swings off his horse, taking in the reins, reaching up to stroke Rei's head. "Duchess Nillu is well, if tired. I, likewise, am so. If a bit waterlogged now." A bit? Yeah. "Ah, Deputy Surrector. Greetings."

From Rei's saddle, "What has so enthralled the pair of you into conversations that you won't even leave to find shelter?" Ganeos asks, looking between the pair.

Chaori Balsam replies, "Misery. You've already heard this tale, noble lord." She says to Ester, "It's too long a tale to tell out here. What ramifications? Are you telling me that the Duchess is dead and you think I'm responsible? If not, go talk to the Tax Assessor about ramifications." She looks up at Ganeos. "She *did* find someone to cover Fastheld Keep until the Royal Healer returns, correct?"

Ester stiffens and her tone gets very calm even, "Excuse me Mistress Balsam, but you speak in much haste and with little forethought to whom you are speaking to and to whom you are ordering around." A polite smile graces her features, "Once can be forgiven on the count of shear ignorance. I do hope that is simply the reason for such force of comments."

From Rei's saddle, "Must I forcibly separate the pair of you?" Ganeos voice chirps in. "Chaori, dear, you must learn this thing we like to call a proper tone. Just because I can deign to be polite, doesn't mean I am answerable to you. Nor does the Deputy Surrector, from what I've seen, deserve such passion. Perhaps the two of you would like some hot tea at Lightholder's for a bit? A chance to warm up bodies chilled by the damnable rain."

Chaori Balsam formally curtseys to both Ganeos and Ester. "I do most humbly beg your pardons for any inadvertent offense I may have given either one of you. Baron, I fear I must decline your offer; the Lightholder is one of Duchess Gabriella's favorite spots. Deputy Surrector, if you are not going to charge me with a crime, I am going to return to my patients."

Ester nods at Chaori's apology and leaves things at that. "The Duchess will not be returning to Lightholders for some time Mistress. She met with and unfortunate riding mishap last evening and will be recuperating in the forest district for several week. You have little to fear here."

From Rei's saddle, "Well, then, I insist on your presence then. As the Deputy Surrector has said, there shouldn't be any threat to your safety from Duchess Seamel." Ganeos says, pulling his hood back up.

Chaori Balsam heaves a great sigh. "If I must, I must. Goodness me. A riding accident? I certainly understand your motives now, Deputy Surrector." Chaori places her left hand over her heart and raises her right hand. "I had no knowledge of this matter before you mentioned it. I had nothing to do with it, nor did I arrange to have it done." She lowers her hands. "I understand that the Royal Healer's teacher lives in Silkfield; I'm sure she's better than the Royal Healer and I added together."

"Mistress Balsam," Ester says firmly after a brief and pointed glance at Ganeos, "Do not assume that you in anyway understand my motives. It is best never to dabble in trying. The Duchess's accident is /not/ under investigation. I witnessed it myself. A simple misstep is all. It is completely unrelated and has absolutely no bearing on my queries.

"From Rei's saddle, Ganeos looks between the two, hood pulled over his face, shadowing it. "Enough of this. Gabriella's misfortune is just that, a misfortune. Ester's curiosity is likewise just that, curiosity. May we go now? Good." Without another word, the Baron starts to lead Rei toward the tavern, boots squelching in the mud.

Chaori Balsam sighs again and walks towards the tavern.

Ester ignores the healer as she walks off and turns her gaze onto the retreating Ganeos. "M'lord," she says in a respectful tone, "May I request a moment of private speech?"

Ganeos pauses for a bit, looking back to the woman, then reverts his course. "Of course, Ester. Chaori, please, go to the tavern and order your food and drink. I'm sure we'll be along shortly. The shrine, if you like, Deputy Surrector."

Chaori Balsam shrugs and wanders into the tavern.

"As you wish m'Lord," Ester states as she turns and walks quickly towards the shrine. .

Shrine of True Light

A small garden, basically a well-kept patch of lawn bisected by a pathway. It is shadowed by two trees to both sides of the path, with a bench set between them on either side.
The path ends at a sunstone: a man-high slab of marble, engraved beautifully with the Eight-Rayed Sunburst.

Ganeos follows Ester in, cloak dripping water on the marble cobblestone. "I suppose you had something mildly important to impart onto me, Deputy Surrector? If so, no need to be shy."

Ester stops and spins to face the Seamel nobleman. Her expression is tight, "I have little time or patience to be shy m'lord so I will be blunt." She smiles politely, "My job is to question on matters of import to the office that I serve. Now I will give that you came upon on conversation in the middle and perhaps do not understand what you walked into... but to treat it as mere quibbling amongst a pair of women and the queries I made of her as mere curiosity on my part undermines the authority necessary for this office and the crown to function." She lifts a brow, "I would hope that as a future husband of a member of the Imperial Council would understand the necessity of such authority or at least the appearance of such authority to remain intact."

"Ah, this is a lecture." Ganeos says, his own face going tight. "I appreciate your efforts to pull this into a private setting, at least, which I will extend my thanks. What I don't enjoy is this patronizing accusations. I am saddened that you feel my interjections to be a tugging at your precious authority, but your own lips made it seem as if this wasn't anything under investigation, but a mere conversation between the two of you. I'd also prefer if you didn't bring up Sahna in this. I am very much aware of my position, and her's as well. I don't need your observations to help me along with the fact that my finch is a member of the Council. I am not a child."

Ester smiles politely, "And how would you wish that I approach it then m'Lord? For I am not intending to patronize nor accuse one of being a child. I am simply trying to point out that falsity of assumption that my words need to sound like a grilling in order for one to realize not to make light of it."

Ganeos relaxes, rubbing at his forehead. "Your point was delivered eloquently enough, Ester. I will refrain from my humorous proddings in the future, no matter how perfect for the situation I may find them to be. Are you done?"

"Yes," Ester says with a small nod that causes drops of rain to fly off the edges of her hood. "And m'Lord I just wish to add that there are such time when your humor is appreciated, unfortunately at least in light of my situation, they are limited in their times and participants. I hope you can understand this." She flashes a small but genuine smile.

"Ah, dear, you have to understand the idle class. We are nothing but inappropriate humor and mistiming, making those that struggle with actual responsibility ever more so tortured. It's our lot in life. Sahna is doing her best to break me of the habit. Perhaps this was best that you less then subtle reproaches were brought up as they were. It's refreshing being called down by someone other then my intended." He scratches his chin. "Speaking of which, a question before we return to Mistress Balsam's company. What exactly did you find so amusing that late night a few days back?"

Ester's expression takes on the an air of embarrassment. "In the spirt of the frank way we are speaking m' was a bad day." She smiles ruefully, "And I believe you nailed it well enough. Stress, a couple of glasses of wine, coupled with a personal matter and yes the actions between you and the Duchess. It was a side of her I hadn't seen and though there is nothing remotely wrong or surprising in just set me off. I do apologize. It was rather out of character."

"Sahna's affection does sometimes set me off an edge as well, I admit." Ganeos says, smiling slyly. "She's multilayered enough that I have to play defensively. Even then, I often lose. No reason to apologize. It was rather enjoyable seeing someone enjoying themselves. All the drama about makes me weary."

"Well I'm glad you enjoyed it m'Lord because I doubt it will occur again," Ester returns with a resigned smile. She turns her gaze back towards the crossroads. "Now if you will forgive me I have little inclination or time to sit and be social with Mistress Balsam." She passes a quick glance back at him, "I have some business to attend too down in Silkfield and have a ways to travel."

"Take care, Ester." Ganeos says, flipping the hood of his cloak back over his head. "If you happen upon Gabriella eventually, be so kind as to give her my regards. She, for all her faults, is a sweet woman." The Seamel stands still, allowing the woman the opportunity to escape first.

"Yes I will pass them on. Light Blessings Lord Seamel," Ester says with a small bow before slogging through puddles and mud on her way back to the crossroads.

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