Wedgecrest Falls Keep Receiving Hall

The Receiving Hall of the Keep is a warm and inviting room despite the enormous open space. The paneled polished wooden walls are adorned with the ancestral portraits of former Lords and ladies of House Mikin in various dignified poses. Expensive padded chairs have been placed through out the hall as well as padded benches lined in crimson red and gold brocade set along the walls as well as an elaborate marble fireplace with gilded gold trimming about the mantle.
The floor is made of a white marble, clean and flawless with hand-woven silk and wool rugs strategically placed. In the exact center of the floor, a large ring of black within which is a black and red mongoose with a white rose clutched its mouth is formed interrupts the white marble.
Frescos in elaborate designs and patterns of mythological creatures grace the ceiling in an intoxicating display of vivid colors and hues adding to the majestic ambiance and grandeur of the entire hall. Marking off ten feet in distance at north and south sides of the room are grand marble pillars, made from a fine white marble, stretching upwards for about forty feet to join the arches which form the upper balcony to the second floor of the Keep.
You appear to be alone here. A squire stands watch here. A Pikeman stands watch here. A black velvet birch bench is here. A black velvet birch bench is here.

"I don't doubt that you could." The quiet, cold evening beyond the Keep lends an equally muted atmosphere to the high Receiving Hall within; muted, that is, save for the murmuring of a conversation in motion that seems to originate from where the Keep's Pikeman usually holds station.

However, the voice that is currently speaking is that of a curious regal purr, who seems to be debating the merit of... well, something or other. "However, I do doubt that you'd be able to *do* anything with it in here. I mean, that Pike is eighteen feet long, and the distance between the pillars are... what? Ten feet? You see my concern here."

The Pikeman maintains his rigid posture, chin pressed deeply into his throat as he takes a moment to contemplate what the prince had just postulated. Very reluctantly, he flickers a glance to the pillars, then to his weapon. Curious...

The silent kiss of velvet against marble brushes over the floor above as Rowena stirs from her chamber. Her feet slowly guide her to the staircase's summit, posture resembling more a sneaking child than courtly duchess. The gentle 'clink' of jewelry against stone marks the place where her fingers press against the wall and ear bends to listen.

"Unless you need to fend off a swarm of angry looking pigeons." Serath muses, tilting his head a little at the curious expression of the slightly taller Pikeman, gesturing to the length of the Pike, and the height of the hall, to stress his point. "Should that ever happen, I'm sure that Wedgecrest will be in your debt."

The tone of the voice of the Sovereign Prince of the Blood are such that it should be clear that he isn't being serious, and that regal purr falls silent a moment later as Serath swirls his leather cloak around his form, setting it over his shoulders, and sealing the clasp at the neck.

"And you bought /how/ much grain?" comes the voice of Wedgecrest Fall's steward, echoing in from the spacious ballroom. The response from the other party in the conversation is lost from the ringing of boots as he and Vhramis stride into the receiving hall, the steward looking at a bit of parchment with a definite confused look on his face. "I said, and even wrote 50 barrels. Not 500..." he mutters, lifting a finger to point. "See? 50."

The Pikeman utters an inward sigh and rolls his eyes upwards to dutifully watch the ceilings. Pigeons... pah.

Tilting her head to lean her cheek against the coolness of the stone, Rowena closes her eyes to the sound of Vhramis' dismayed echo. She'd not suffered the nuisances of household disorder in ages. 450 surplus barrels may be more than a nuisance for the budget, of course...and wherever would they be stored? Fortunately, the mending of such a problem lay not in her responsibility.

Drifting away from the wall, Rowena gathers the soft wool of her gown into her palms and moves into a fluid descent of the stairs.

"Maybe a raven or two if you're lucky." Clasp secured, Serath offers one final knowing glance to the Pikeman, a playful smile caressing his features. "Just to keep things interesting." That said, the Prince turns around on the spot to look upon that which shatters the previously quiet setting of the Hall: A somewhat stressed Steward, by all accounts. Cloak swaying to a halt behind him, and falling upon his form once again, Serath can only look on in amusement.

Vhramis lifts a hand to rub at his scalp as he looks between parchment and companion. "Well," he muses after a long moment. "Maybe I can go speak with him, since we don't actually have it just yet. You should come with me though, Nathan." The other man, looking to be roughly the same age as Vhramis, grimaces and nods his head. "But we won't go just yet. First thing tomorrow, hm?"

Rolling up the parchment in one swift motion, Vhramis hands it to him as he begins to look about, and he promptly spots the armored guest in the receiving hall. He smiles politely as he begins to move forward to unrecognized Prince, even as he tries to place a name to the face he has only seen once before.

Pausing upon the final step to look between the supportive pillar and rail, Rowena tugs the lopsided sway of her pendant into place. Her inquisitive eyes watch from around the pillar in noiseless study, a tendril of hair slipping to mask a portion of the exposed cheek. A mixture of amusement and affection play upon her stilled lips. That poor pikeman.

Seeing the shadow of Vhramis's stride pass her by, Rowena comes to life from her hiding place and sinks back. She passes between the pillars now, taking a more indirect, meandering path to join the small gathering.

Serath offers a respectful incline of his head towards the of Wedgecrest, folding his arms tightly across his chest to bring the charcoal leather scales the vambraces of his armor against the obsidian ringmail hauberk that rests beneath the equally charcoal strips of intercrossing leather that form the cuirass of the Prince's armor. Yet the motion makes little sound, remaining as quiet as cloth.

His smile warms slightly as he notes Rowena's approach also; the expression speaking words that voice could not.

"Good Evening to you," Vhramis offers to Serath, stopping at a respectful distance away and folding his hands behind his back. He bows his head to the man. "Welcome to Wedgecrest Falls." There is a brief hesitation as he considers the Prince's features. "I... apologize, but I feel we've met perhaps once or twice, but I can't quite recall a name. I am Vhramis Skinner."

The Pikeman's eyes glance over to Vhramis, but he doesn't comment.

"He arrived two nights prior..." Rowena interjects with a somewhat secretive smile, closing the distance between herself and present company. "I apologize if I've been scarce to inform you of such." Coming to stand a modest distance alongside her most beloved guest, Rowena folds her hands together at her waist and falls quiet to allow introductions to continue as desired.

The ice-blue gaze of the Imperial Bloodline shifts from Rowena and back upon Vhramis once more. His stance flawlessly maintained, and as casual as one can be when in full Pathfinder gear, Serath waits for a few moments to see if Rowena is going to answer the question of identity. When she doesn't, he merely purrs: "Serath Kahar. It's good to see you've fully recovered since last we met."

"Your Grace," Vhramis greets Rowena with a bow before he listens to Serath's response. It's not everyone day one finds out that a Prince is visiting, and the steward reacts accordingly. His eyes widen faintly and he takes a step back to drop into a second bow. "Your highness. I didn't... well. I don't remember much of that night. My apologies."

Dwelling yet in her muted state, Rowena turns her smile from the steward's rush of formality to glance around Serath at the Pikeman. Their eyes meet and she wrinkles her brow into an apology. It's returned with the same, bland expression that he casts to all other forms in the room, people and pillars alike.

"Regardless, after that night..." Serath softly states, his voice a regal purr of serenity as he regards the bowing Steward with a light sigh, "You need not bow before *anyone* but the Emperor. I certainly won't demand it. Your selfless actions have earned you that much respect, and the realm owes you a debt of gratitude. Though..."

He muses at something, and then smiles, "We can start to pay that debt back a little. If they insist on attempting to sell you the full five hundred... tell them that the Prince of the Blood demands they back down."

Vhramis manages a light chuckle, despite his obvious embarrassment at the praise. "Please, your highness. It's not needed. Perhaps we can find something to do with it, should they not wish to renegotiate. I'm just glad things turned out ok."

"And may the turning of events continue to do so," Rowena declares, tone soft, yet voice firm. Her hands release one another only to rejoin at the base of her spine. The faintest glow of blue seeps from the darkness of her enclosed palm and into the creases of her slender fingers. Daring to stray into the world of business for but a moment, she then tilts her head with intrigue to Vhramis. "If I may so ask...has fruit come of the search for the poachers you suspected to roam this wood?"

"Well, if that fails, then just stick a rapier through their chest. That's worked well for me in the past." Though obviously not sincere in his comment, judging by the light smile and the tone of his voice, one can't help wonder how much truth actually exists in such a statement. Regardless, Serath merely inclines his head a little in affirmation of the Stewards words, and then looks back upon Rowena.

"A pair of trackers made their way out to see if they couldn't find more signs of them, your Grace," Vhramis answers Rowena, with a dry chuckle and nod to Serath. "I've had no word of them yet, but they knew not to engage them. Merely just to locate them."

Casting Serath a scolding glance with less than threatening eyes, Rowena recalls the warmth to her features. "I'm pleased to hear that the hunt continues safely then. I'm certain that Sophia will rest well knowing that effort is being made."

At the mention of Trackers and Hunting, Serath can only sigh; his arms unfolding from his chest to rest upon the hilts of the Scimitars that sleep in their scabbards at either side of his waist, half-shrouded beneath the black leather cloaks that drapes around the Prince's frame, though still clear enough to catch and refract whatever light dares to fall upon their polished forms. He checks each weapon in turn, sliding them forward a little, before pushing them back in with a low 'slk' of fine metal against smooth leather.

"It's time." He softly states to Rowena, looking back upon her form and catching her gaze with his own.

Vhramis bows his head thankfully to Rowena. "We'll have to see about taking more definitive action once we know more about the situation." The comment from Serath catches his attention and he looks to him. "It's time?" A moment of more hesitation before he simply says, "I spoke to the Lord Chancellor."

The rich, heartening colors of the hall swirl together into a blurred vision of crimson and gold as Rowena's face turns completely away from Vhramis so she may settle her somber eyes in the captivating light of Serath's. The waterstone glints sharply as it rises and falls upon her chest's new rhythm. It trembles.

Ghosts of words leave her lips as they part without sound to merely breathe. Finally, her chin lowers into a nod of understanding. The way of the realm could not shed mercy eternally on a hopeful heart. Such requests would be selfish.

"So did I." Serath asides to Vhramis, almost disdainfully, upon a whisper of a purr as he watches Rowena without fail. Gloved hands clasping the hilts of the vicious weapons that flank him, deciding now to elaborate on what it is that he needed to see the Duchess first over.

"My path is bound for Light's Reach," he purrs, his voice a mixture of compassion and something akin to guilt at having to admit this course, "with my flight taking me through to Hedgehem, where I'll leave Shiningcoat behind and travel on foot." He pauses, and then adds, "Alone." for clarification. Though clarification for whom is debatable.

"There are Pathfinders in that region, who I intend to catch up with, but for the most part this is a venture I undertake with only my blades as company. The Chancellor intends to form a scouting party to do much the same as I have set out to do. That I will be there long before they will speak words as to why I have to go."

Vhramis wasn't expecting that. "I was informed you wished this," he answers, frowning faintly. "I was going to go in the party he formed, but I'm unsure now if you would rather it not happen. Two groups there could just cause difficulties."

A tiny noise emerges from Rowena's throat in reply, her opinion of the condemned region evident in the blanching color of her cheeks. Somewhere in the depths of her mind's furious spin, there's a tiny reminder to breathe, and so she does. Shallowly. "As it sleeps..." She's strained to whisper, throat clenched in attempts to maintain control over her form.

Now a pair of watery, pools of jade, her soulful eyes rest beneath the heavy beat of her lashes. There in darkness she can think. Accompanied by a light sniff, her lips twitch into a fading hint of a smile. It is as though he knew she'd seek to accompany. "...Alone."

"One group." Serath states to Vhramis, correcting his estimation of what's to be involved. That spoken, he elaborates: "One group. One Ranger. Two Scimitars. One creature of Shadow." He smiles, just slightly, as he again looks back upon his fiancée, "That you were informed I wished to form a fellowship to travel with me is slightly inaccurate. I told the Chancellor I was going. In following, he made motions to finally form the scouting group he spoke of two month ago. That's the only connection."

Vhramis isn't one to argue with a Prince. "I'm not one to argue, your Highness,” he says, looking between Prince and Duchess. "Perhaps I'd best leave you two to your conversation," he adds after a moment. "I need to consider thing, and perhaps speak to the Lord Chancellor again."

"A creature that has turned a town...the surrector to ash. A creature that already lives in death." Rowena murmurs, more so to herself than for Serath's benefit. He was aware of the risks, this she knew. Many things of shadow had been cast into the dirt beneath his blades. But in turn, such a thing had once caused him to fall. Flesh she could mend....but she could not breathe life into the scattered ashes.

Opening her eyes to escape the darkness that's become suddenly frightful with memory, Rowena searches the hall with a lost expression for a moment before putting her feet into motion. She moves a fair distance away to sit, letting her weight sink into the reliable 'squish' of the cushion. Warmth.

"I don't intend to do unholy battle with the creature, Row." As if suddenly realizing that this might not as obvious as he thinks it is, Serath's voice takes on a touch of warmth as he offers it. Just for the record, some might say, but mostly for Rowena's peace of mind. "Though there may be a few Wildlings in the area that will taste the chill of steel, attempting to slay a creature that is rumored to exist in death already, and that destroyed one of the largest townships of Fastheld, is not my idea of justifiable odds."

The steward's green eyes look to Rowena as she claims her seat, and though he looks concerned, he's aware that there's nothing he can do to help her. And he's more aware that he's more or less a third party to this discussion. With a deep bow he takes several steps back. "I...need to tend to some matters, your Highness. Your Grace. Please, if you need anything, don't hesitate to ask. Light protect you." He looks back to Serath as he straightens, and seems to consider saying something else, though he lets it pass, instead simply nodding his head and making his way to the stairs.

Folding her hands over the crease of her elbows, Rowena lifts her chin from the slouch, relief drawing a rush of wind from her lungs. Raising a shaking hand to bid Vhramis farewell, she tightens the other one over her knee in efforts to calm it before she stands. A nervous touch of a chuckle leaves her throat as she approaches Serath to send him on his way.

"Forgive me, I... I just assumed that... your purpose was such, though I suppose that you'd not have promised a return, if..." Trailing away from the end of that wretchedly delivered sentence, she ignores the Pikeman's presence as though he were a piece of the furniture and throws her arms about her love's shoulders with a startlingly strong squeeze. "I will always fear for those I love." She whispers into his ear and then buries her face into the space that armor permits at the base of his neck.

Return to Season 3 (2005)

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