Riverview Keep Salon

A spacious antechamber between Riverview's receiving hall, grand ballroom and lush gardens. The salon, used as a waiting area and social gathering spot, is furnished with several blue-velvet cushioned couches and armchairs. Silver lamps mounted on the wall glow with flickering candles. Biinwood doors lead into the ballroom, while another pair of glass-paned doors open onto the gardens. An archway leads back to the receiving hall.

Alieron Mikin is sitting in one of the blue armchairs, a grave look on his face, staring out the windows at the thunderous stormy night. He has a grave look on his face, sipping on wine, and remaining in complete silence. Servants sometimes mill through, keeping the various candles lit in the salon.

Rowena enters softly, a small line of worry drawn across her brow. "Alieron, I was upstairs writing and heard commotion...what has happened?" She questions. Her strides lengthen, bringing her closer at a swifter pace.

Alieron Mikin rises, shaking his head, "I have come to a decision." He turns away from his sister, as if not wishing to face her, "Sophia shall marry Duke Markus Kahar. I informed her of such, and she stormed out." He continues to gaze out at the storm, "I do not know where she has gone, I assume to her room."

It is a cool night. A strong breeze blows over the land, occasionally gusting powerfully. It is raining. Lightning flashes in the sky and thunder echoes off

Rowena halts at the words, her face paling with a numbed expression of shock. Her hands lift to fold lightly over her heart. "Alieron.'ve...?" Slowly, she turns her head to look at the rain pounding upon the glass. "What have you done?" Her voice inquires softly, tone melancholy but hardly above a whisper.

Alieron Mikin shakes his head, "She must marry him. Vozhdya grows in power all the time. A union between Light's Reach Mikins, and the Vozhd-Kahar would be benefit to both Houses." He gazes upon his sister, awaiting her response.

Seconds past into nearly a minute where the only sound to be heard is the rage of the storm. Rowena can only stare, the corners of her eyes wrinkled into an enduring wince while her lips tremble slowly into a frown. "When did you reach this decision?" She murmurs, hardly able to hear the words herself. But in the course of a few seconds, something changes inside and when she opens her mouth again, her voice grows in angered strength. "WHY did you reach this decision!? Are you mad?" She demands, a weak laugh forced from her throat before another belt "Are you truly mad!?" She gapes, astounded, and turns to pace with her arms thrown wide. "How is that beneficial to the house? What will that gain!? A decade? Two decades perhaps? Surely there won't be a second generation to carry on the tie..." she trails off shaking her head in disbelief and then wheels around to face him with a shout that rivals the thunder outside. "And what about Her, Alieron? What of your daughter? Where is she now?! I heard her not climb the stairs!"

Alieron Mikin suddenly expresses shock in his face. Shock with Rowena's anger, and shock that his daughter may indeed be gone. He remains silent for a moment, stunned, as another lightning flash flashes through the windows. He then shakes his head, running toward the Receiving Hall, "GUARDS!. GUARDS!" One of the Ducal Guards rushes in, "Your Grace! What is wrong!." He now has an almost wild look, "Sophia is gone! Have you seen her!." The Ducal Guard shakes his head, "No sir!." Alieron glances back toward Rowena quickly, and then toward the guard. "Organize a search party immediately! Find my daughter!"

Listening to the sudden panic with numbed ears, Rowena continues to stare at Alieron, her hands slowly clenching into fists. "A fool..." She whispers. Her mouth struggles to form another word but she cannot and so instead turns with a flare of heat rising to her cheeks, perhaps mirroring her niece's prior frenzy. "Power! Power is what you crave..." She bellows, gathering her skirts into her hands. "Look outside, Alieron. THAT is power. Raw, unmatched FURY that you have just thrown your daughter into!" In haste, Rowena leaves him with that remark and after gathering her hem from the floor, runs towards the door to the receiving hall.

Alieron Mikin runs towards Rowena, apparently intending to run out into the Receiving Hall, and perhaps to attempt to ride out of the keep to look for his daughter with a troupe of guard himself. He dashes out. Already in the Receiving Hall a group of Ducal Guard are forming up together to go out as a secondary search party.

Riverview Keep Receiving Hall

A massive crystalline chandelier hangs suspended above a white marble floor from a domed ceiling of this receiving hall that is illustrated by frescoes of famous figures from the history of House Mikin against a backdrop of gleaming suns and puffy clouds, ringed in gold.

White marble staircases with black velvet runners wind up the right and left toward a balcony that serves as a protective border for Riverview's upper foyer. Draped over the balcony is the glowing flame banner of Light's Reach. Below the balcony and the banner, one can see white double doors leading to the keep's mastery. Archways lead to the dining hall and salon. Doors to the north open onto the courtyard.

"I'm coming along." Rowena snaps and heads briskly for the main set of doors. "We'll be lucky to see even three feet ahead in this weather. I hope she's too frightened to go far."

Alieron Mikin gazes around him quickly, nodding, as he motions to a servant "Prepare our horses!" The servant nods, quickly rushing out into the courtyard to do so. The Ducal Guards rush around, a Lieutenant approaches Alieron. "Your Grace, shall the second search party go out now." He nods quickly, "Yes! And send some through the gardens, and to the river." He gasps slightly, as if having a hard time breathing, perhaps in a panic himself. "You four, come with us!." He points to some already suited up Ducal Guards standing in the Receiving Hall. He rushes toward the now open doors, pulling his hood over his head. As the doors are open, wind blows rain inside, and the banner hanging from the balcony in the Receiving Hall blows heavily. Outside Ducal Guard fight the weather to get onto their horses, and stable boys rush around trying to cover their eyes as they prepare the horses.

Riverview Keep Courtyard

Centuries ago, during the First Wildling War, this grassy ridge along the northern shore of the Fastheld River served as an encampment for the Emperor's Blades and Emperor Talus Kahar I as they prepared to launch their assault on the granite dome known as Night's Bane, to the east. Legend holds that the Emperor gave the troops an inspirational speech while standing under the sprawling, ancient river oak tree that rises near the western wall of what is now a palatial estate known as Riverview.

A polished iron gate grants entrance through the high white marble wall. Through the two-part gate - fashioned with a lithe golden mongoose in the middle - snakes the entrance road, which winds around a small grove of shardwood trees before ending at a broad cobblestone circle in front of the main house of Riverview, whose silver-plated front doors await ingress.

In the middle of the cobblestone circle is a smaller circle bristling with green grass, with a white marble fountain gurgling in the center.

A stable with a blue thatched roof sits to the west of the courtyard, while the similarly roofed servant's quarters sit to the east. The gray dome of Night's Bane looms above the eastern wall.

Looking like a ghost fleeing from the home, Rowena tears out into the yard after Alieron, the wind threatening to parachute her away with her gown. She curses an oath loudly, storm drowning out her speech and so she swears another to expel the anger. Trudging ahead towards the stables, she screams across to Alieron. "Wait for me! I must change attire..."

From Accolade's saddle, Following a carriage coming in through the wind comes a small, yet bulky horse bearing the rider of Norran Lomasa. He bears a woodland brown cloak about his form. The heavy clopping of hooves heralds his arrival as he nears the keep. Noticing the people exiting, he swiftly moves to trot toward them.

There is vast commotion in the courtyard as the Ducal Guard attempt to mount their frightened horses, and stable boys run around getting the horses prepared.

Alieron Mikin rushes out, glancing back toward Rowena, nodding. He stands, awaiting his horse as a stable boy brings it around if he can. He then gets ready to mount the horse, glancing back toward Rowena.

From Accolade's saddle, "Eve!" calls Norran as Accolade nears the commotion, focused on Rowena. Norran's eyes fix on her as he moves his steady horse toward her. "I was just dropping by. Sadly, the Light does not bid the weather well. What's with all this commotion?" queries Norran aloud, focused on keeping Accolade calm for the moment.

In just a few minutes, Rowena has shuffled out of her gown and into tunic and trousers inside the sketchy privacy of the stables. Her mind is focused on one thing alone...finding Sophia. Almost tripping in her haste back outside, she stuffs her poor gown into a saddlebag, ignoring the visitor. Rain lashes against her face, acting as a blind to distant faces. Gripping the slick horn of the saddle, she mounts Umbrus swiftly, swinging a leg o'er to the other side. She would ride as a man tonight. Her cloak grows heavier with the downpour, draped over her shoulders and to her straddling knees.

Alieron Mikin jumps onto his horse, Zalor, and pulls the reigns to keep the horse under control as another loud burst of thunder shakes. His hooded cloak is already becoming soaked, he turns his head back toward the four Ducal Guard who have mounted their horses along with five other Ducal Guard. He motions, "Follow us!." He yells in the night, moving his force forward, and also not even noting the visitor as he spurs his horse down the road toward the gates of the estate.

The rain suddenly stops, as well as the lightning, and thunder slowly recedes away as the weather seems to calm a bit. Yet the wind still blows harshly, blowing the cloaks and clothing of the riders. Whistling through the river nearby, and all about as a thick fog comes upon the landscpae.

From Accolade's saddle, "That's wonderful! I come down to say welcome to the River District, and you all utterly ignore me, while you look like you're going off to assault Wedgecrest. You folks don't seem too nice, but can someone tell me where the Contessa is, please?" queries Norran aloud, though he doesn't seem to expect an answer as he urges Accolade into a fast gallop toward the North.

Rowena shouts, spurring Umbrus forward with a 'whump' from her heels. "She may have tried to flee home! Let us ride there." Umbrus trots forward, bearing the Duchess closer to Alieron. In the process, she steers the horse alongside Accolade and turns her head to glare at Norran. Water dribbles from her hair, over her nose, and off her chin. "My niece has gone. She's run out into the storm after..." A deeper glare fires to Alieron and she says no more. "I suggest you try another time after we've managed to locate her."

From Zalor's saddle, Alieron Mikin nods an quick affirming nod toward Rowena, still not seeming to pay attention to Norran as he rides, attempting to speed his horse. He yells out an order to the Ducal Guards following on their horses behind, "To East Bluff!" The guards speed up their own horses, two of them coming to the forefront to insure the road is clear for the two royal riders.

Umbrus speeds off at a gallop toward the North.

From Accolade's saddle, Norran Lomasa frowns quickly as Rowena speaks, continuing off after her. "Sophia? Gone? Duchess Mikin, after /what/?!" asks Norran as he steers Accolade toward the north. Accolade speeds off at a gallop toward the North.

"That is not of your concern right now!" Rowena calls back to Accolade and its rider. She continues on.

Much later that night...

East Bluff Tournament Field <The Twins>

Added two centuries after the death of Fahral Mikin, the East Bluff tournament field is a grassy oval bowl carved out of the hilltop, with jousting lists, rock tossing pit, and a wide circle for combatants to compete against each other with swords, pole arms and other weapons. An observation platform for nobility rises along the northern face of the bowl, while commoners are relegated to the grounds of the field itself.

East Bluff is known throughout the realm as one of the only sites to hold night-time tournaments, because of the ample illumination provided by the nearby torch tower. The castle known as East Twin, a grim edifice of gray stone, rises to the south. The town proper of Light's Reach is off to the west.

It is a cool night. A strong breeze blows over the land. The sky is filled by dark, low clouds.

The echoes of shouts and turbulent hooves stir quite the clamor in the keep yard. The voices of panicked men and shrill horses carry through the air. From the distant commotion, a single horse rides, bearing its drenched owner in a steadfast gallop towards the tournament field. The cloak, heavy with water from the recent storm flops lifelessly at the figure's sides. The rider's hair is plastered over her forehead, to her cheeks, and in wind-blown clumps over her back.

"SOPHIA!?" A hoarse and desperate voice cries forth into the humid night air. "Sophie!" A foot-weary Umbrus whinnies loudly as Rowena steers him abruptly to the right to perform a fleet-footed pace over the grounds. Her booted feet brace firmly in the stirrups and rear is raised just slightly off the saddle in a stiff lean forward, head held high.

"You look somewhat wet, Rowena." The voice is calm and somewhat reflective right now, with a casual nature and an authoritative edge that should make it instantly identifiable. It is of course that of Serath's, and tracing it back one might find him stood just outside of the doorway that leads into the Guest Manor, leaning against the frame, and evidently clad in the Bronze Armor that denotes his position in this life. Though his distinctive is missing, letting his hair fall free, the armor more than makes up for it. It would seem that, protected by a new royal blue velvet cloak, he's been watching the storm from within the relative safety of the doorway, and the neutral expression that rests upon his enduringly dashing visage is one of contentment; and now a warm smile. "And not in the good sense of the word, either."

Wha? Rowena's frightened eyes bulge wider and her heels jam downwards, body weight tugging back on the horse's reins. Umbrus protests to the sudden stomp loudly, tongue lolling around hit bit as he rears up, ebony mane snapping in the wind. Rowena utters a low curse and curls forward while hugging the steed tightly with her knees. She clings tightly and manages to turns Umbrus' flail into a sharp wheel around.

The horse's hooves slam back into the ground with a definitive *splat* in the mud, sending up a small spray. His sides heave in effortful breaths, a snort billowing puffs of breath into the air. Likewise, Rowena pants, staring at Serath in relative surprise. She closes her eyes to the muggy air and flits her tongue over dried lips before speaking. "I was not aware you were here." She inhales a bit more slowly, blood no longer pounding madly into her ears. Blinking her eyes open again, she reaches to swipe some of the water away from her temples. "I don't know how long we've been out. The storm was mad, and...and Alieron...Sophia." She lifts a hand to her mouth and produces a short hacking cough, clearing her throat. "You by chance haven't seen a certain heir to Light's Reach fleeing the cruel future her father has sentenced her to?"

The Prince of the Blood shakes his head a little, causing the braided plait of hair that rests over his right shoulder to swing back behind his neck, vanishing behind a torrent of well managed black hair. "The rain was so heavy that I'd have been lucky to see you in it where you stand now." he notes in that usual tone of warmth he reserves for Rowena, a touch of curious concern flickering across his features. His arms are folded against his chest; something that seems to have long caused any droplets of rain that should have managed to fall upon his bronze cuirass to have been smeared away. The soft glistening of moisture does seem to be apparent upon his boots, however. No mud, though. "And I imagine that if anyone had attempted to cross the field, they'd be waist-deep in mud now, and no doubt offering a string of curses that would make finding them quite easy. But..." he sighs regretfully, " heir. Should I even ask?"

Rowena sighs, slumping then leaning back in the saddle. Her head throws back with a frustrated growl and curse to the darkened skies. "Why in the Light's name am I plagued with this!?" She shouts, flashing eyes having expressed much happier emotions than they do now. Her naked fists pound down once on her thighs, narrowly missing the glint of a blade that rests upon her hip. Her chin dips forward with an exasperated sigh and the rest of her follows, using Umbrus' back and neck as a surface on which to lay face-down upon. The horse cranes his neck around to snort at her unhappily and then looks to Serath with big, watery eyes.

"We were visiting Riverview keep for the first time. After the tour, I went upstairs to rest and write. When I found Alieron later, Sophia was missing. He told the poor child he has intentions of wedding her to Duke Markus Vozhd-Kahar..." She trails off, stare dazed as it burrows past Serath into oblivion. Her cheek molds to the horse's neck, squeezing some water forth from the mane.

"It never rains..." Serath softly states with a touch of irony, pushing himself up from the doorframe to wade out into the water-sodden grounds towards Rowena. Big, watery eyes - especially when Rowena's - have that kind of effect on him, and thus, with bronze boots now shining reddish-gold from beneath a veneer of mud, the Horsemaster moves to Umbrus's side, offering arms to Rowena. "Come on," he purrs, "How about I carry you across the mud and we get you dried off, and into a hot bath?"

A synchronized sigh huffs into the air from both horse and rider, further displaying their bond. As Umbrus turns his head to follow Serath's movement curiously, Rowena remains limp. "Sophia's alone somewhere in this dark night, Serath...she's so inexperienced, and I worry." Umbrus swishes his tail and stamps a hoof, perhaps urging the woman to get off. Slowly, the duchess does move. Her hands grip the beast's shoulders and she pushes herself back into an upright position. One hand extends to Serath while she shakes her left foot loose of a stirrup. "I've yet to find the ease in which you men can free yourselves of this position." Her other boot shakes loose, a bit stiffer than the first.

"Of course I worry." Serath notes, watching his friend do battle with the stirrups with a degree of affection, "However, if Sophia is anything like you, I'm sure she'll be fine, and... oh." The Horsemaster blinks at something, then smiles, "You mean dismounting your steed. Suffice to say I /had/ to get used to it."

"Well, obviously." Rowena states lowly, concentrating on drawing her left knee upwards without toppling from her mount. Precariously balanced, she reaches behind and peels her cloak off its cling upon the bags behind her. "Tis easier to ride in such a way, but to dismount..." She carefully scoots around so that both legs now hang over the edge towards Serath. Victory. A hesitant smile creeps back onto her face and she extends both hands to him after sweeping her hair over her shoulder. "All right, I'm ready."

Serath pauses for a moment to consider the best way in which to do this without having them both end up in a somewhat intimate position in the mud. No doubt just as Talus looks out of the window, too. He smiles, then shakes his head of the thought, though silently declaring that such a position wouldn't be all that bad. Placing an ice-blue gaze back upon Rowena, the Horsemaster decides to move closer to Umbrus, placing himself in a stance in which Rowena can easily slip her arms around his neck and shoulders when she slides off her mount, while allowing him to support her back with one arm, and her legs with the other. The 'carry over the threshold' position, if you will.

Rowena wavers to the side, debating on how she should go about 'leaping' into the arms without sending her friend off balance. Unable to meet his gaze without smiling in slight embarrassment, she reaches forward and clasps her right hand onto his left shoulder. After that initial step, she lets herself slip off, trying to curl so that her feet wouldn't hit the ground as dead weight while her other arm wraps around his neck. The metallic armor doesn't aid in getting a grip, but she manages.

Umbrus nickers softly in relief and shakes his head vigorously to clear water from the stubby remains of his left ear. Free of human burden, he bows his neck forward and nibbles some muddy grass.

Serath's catch of Rowena is flawless, managing to maintain his balance on the muddy ground while counterbalancing the force of Rowena's dismount. It would seem that his 'fears' of ending up in the mud in a compromising position were in vain after all. With his left arm (tactfully) under Rowena's legs, and his right arm supporting her back, the Prince smiles a warm smile at his friend. "Now this, I like." he warmly states.

Rowena laughs softly for the first time this wretched night and casts a swift glance around. "As do I." She murmurs, tease glinting in her eye. "From horse to feet shall never be forced to touch the ground again!" She pauses and takes a deep breath. "Though I promise I shan't spur your flanks with my heels."

"And I promise I won't ri..." Serath trails off, catching his words as the transition from pun to innuendo that finishing that comment would have becomes more apparent than the one about the rain. You could swear he almost blushes, but his smile is affectionate, even if he can't meet Rowena's gaze for a moment or two. He turns and, after making sure Rowena is secure, and that he can support her, carefully moves back across the soil, heading towards the doorway. "Married to Markus." he offers, changing the subject, voice warm, "Poor girl."

The accidental commentary soars over Rowena's head and she can only nod in agreement to the second. "Aye...Alieron wishes to bind the houses for power. For 'benefits'." She smirks. "He acts as though he did not hear her, nor our Lord Captain profess their love. I do hope she's found a warm place for the night. Our guards won't sleep until they've located her, but there's no limit to where she may have gone. Her heart is fragile, I fear."

"Well now, Alieron has finally made his intent of sharing Vozhdya's wealth known, has he?" The Horsemaster can't help but smile a dark smile; one that evidently reflects a suspicion of power-grabbing he's been holding for some time. One careful step, and then another, brings the two friends closer to home. "And I know that Markus would love a slice of Light's Reach to expand his Empire-building ambitions with. Very interesting." he smiles warmly once more, catching Rowena's gaze, "Very foolish, too. He's going to split up your House from the inside. Politics over love, it seems."

"It would seem so..." Rowena mumbles, mirth vanished though a corner of her lip curls slightly when Serath looks to her. She adjusts her grip over his shoulders, clasping her left hand over her right wrist. "I intend to raise as big a stink as I possibly can when we do find her, however. She wished to have a delightful ball when the weather warms...not a wedding to a man she despises. I don't know whether to be flattered or afraid that her spirit grows closer to mine each day. If it continues as such, she shall become an old maid, but if it does not, she will remain most unhappy."

Serath can't help but snicker at that last comment, all the while drawing closer to the door. He seems to be taking his time, however, as he could have been inside by now. Of course, the reason for this casual pace isn't really a secret: How often does he get to hold Rowena like this? His cloak flutters behind him as the wind picks up. "Old maid, indeed." he states in an amused tone. "And that is your fate, is it?"

Rowena's cloak is still too wet to flap much, and instead oozes a bead of water down her collar which causes a small shiver. Her cheeks flush somewhat and she averts her eyes to watch the clouds. Would the stars emerge? "Well, I know nothing of any other who has remained untouched into her twenty-sixth year, had a train of several suitors, then dismissed them all in under a month. I ran from it when I was young and thus the eyes of men have fallen elsewhere. My niece now feels the brunt of that."

"Not all eyes." comes a whisper of a comment as Serath looks over Rowena and upon the door now before him. Not a moment too soon, either, for as the Horsemaster carries his friend over the threshold of the manor, the first droplets of rain begin to heavily fall again, spurred on a sudden flash of lightning. The storm's back, it would seem. Not that the horses seem to mind. "Besides, you're not the only one, Rowena."

Rowena remains quiet for a moment, uncertain as to how she should respond. The return of the rain provides only a temporary distraction of course, so she can't crawl away from the conversation. As they cross inside, she curls a bit more in his hold, not wishing for her toes to bump into the door's frame. Bit by bit, she returns her gaze to his face, suddenly very aware of the up-close proximity. "What eyes then?" She questions boldly, but in a child's whisper so as to not announce it to the world within.

An ice-blue falls upon the wet form of Rowena, moving to catch her gaze as the bronze-clad Horseman smiles a slight smile at his friend. The gaze of an Emperor; only less remote, more compassionate, and saddened by the wisdom and affection of a man born in these times. Serath catches the door with the heel of his right foot, pushing it a little and letting the gales beyond pull it firmly shut. "If you have to ask..." he teases, "'ll never know."

East Bluff Guest Manor - Entrance Hall

A snarling man-killer bear rug sprawls just inside the entrance of this spacious hall, with its polished biinwood floors, green marble columns and crystal chandeliers. Here, important guests of East Bluff find rather posh lodging on the verge of the tournament field.

Rectangular archways lead into the dining hall, parlor and study. A biinwood-railed staircase divides the entrance hall as it climbs to the residence level on the upper floor.

Rowena's breath seems to be sucked out of her lungs by the gale as well, and she feels incredibly small again beneath his gaze, held captive yet without the urge to flee. A swallow clears her throat some and she manages to look away for a second, about the interior shyly. "I didn't *have* to ask..." She retorts gently in defense.

Serath reluctantly kneels a little, tilting Rowena forward slightly to let her find her feet better should she choose to finally be put down. "Then I don't have to tell you." he offers, ever the man of enigma.

"We aren't much in favor of forward answers, now are we?" Rowena mumbles and loosens her grip to hook a hand on each shoulder as her feet slide to the floor. Once her footing is solid, she releases him hesitantly and then clasps her hands behind her back. She allows her gaze to wander the interior, peeking from behind a wet tendril of hair. "For as long as I've lived upon these grounds, I don't recall entering so far inside as to actually cross through the door."

"I'm sure the day that Alieron calls you a 'guest' will be a day he wished he hadn't." Serath muses with a smile, looking around the interior in an idle manner, just to keep up with what Rowena's looking at. He folds his arms against his chest again, evidently not impressed. "I find it somewhat amusing that Alieron has shoved Talus here, and then vanished off to Riverview. But, this doesn't really do anything for me..." he gestures to the dead bear without comment, then looks to the ceiling, "Just like forward answers, I guess."

Rowena sighs, landing her eyes upon the bear with a furrowed brow. Not very inviting. "Aye, I did send word, inviting you both to join us, but I suppose the courier had wandered elsewhere." She stares at the bear some more, then walks decisively forward. When she reaches it, she crouches and runs her fingers through the fur upon the head. "Always curious as to what they felt like." She comments and throws him a somewhat crooked grin over her shoulder. "But I suppose I'm glad I never had the chance to close enough to do so."

"They're not as nice when you see them up close." Serath notes in a playful, yet knowing, tone of voice. Noticing Rowena's still dripping of rain water, the Horsemaster sighs, and then just smiles. "Now then, I believe I promised you a hot bath."

Ah, yes...Leaving the angry, dead bear alone, Rowena stands and looks with dismay at the soggy footprints she left behind. "The fulfillment of such promise would be most graciously accepted." Her smile mellows to an expression less goofy and more serene. Her fingers pick at the cuffs of her sleeves. "Though I fear that any garment left in my saddlebag is no longer dry as a suitable change."

"You can wear something of mine." states the Horsemaster in a somewhat eager tone, pausing a moment to rub at the back of is neck with a hand that, for once, isn't shielded by a bronze gauntlet. "*I* might even wear something of mine." Considering just what he brought with him, Serath looks up the stairs, and then back upon Rowena. "Or, you could wear nothing at all?" he teases.

Rowena's neck feels heated beneath the standing collar and she senses that her cheeks are growing deeper with crimson. Unable to quiet lift her eyes from the floor after that remark, she closes them and tries to mask her startled emotion with a sly smile and retort. "I don't believe it's warm enough weather to do such a thing. Besides, if word let out that the Mikin manor was so generous in its 'displays' we may quickly have our hands too full with guests."

Satisfied that he's cheered Rowena up, and taken her mind off the Sophia affair, Serath proceeds to remove his cloak, when he then offers to Rowena while holding the neck. "Something to use as a robe." he notes with a warmth resting within his gaze, before gesturing to the fire crackling away in the fire amidst the sound of the gale-force winds that throw themselves at the walls of the manor, haunted by the shadows of the thick fog that the rain has now become.

Rowena takes hold of the cloak carefully, as though it may bite at first, then backs up a step and looks to the fire. Finding the radiating heat quite inviting, she ambles in that direction and keeps the offered cloak dry for now by folding it over her arm. "Thank you." She adds with a glance over her shoulder. Her heels clop to a standing point near the flames and she squats down before them, then falls back onto her rump, legs sprawled before her.

Serath, though tempted to wait and peek, decides he'd better not do. He *is* a Prince, after all, even if one of the most unconventional in all of Fastheldian history. With an almost regretful sigh, and a content smile, the Horsemaster proceeds to head upstairs, scalemail tassets clinking with every step. "I'll shout you when it's ready." he calls back, then vanishes to the upper level of the manor. It's not everyday that you have a Prince running a bath for a Duchess...

Rowena looks around to the open hall she's left in, eyes watching the archways skeptically. This is perhaps the most terrifying stunt she's attempted. Deciding to play it safe and start with the boots, Rowena nods to Serath in silence and works to unlace them. They pop off easily and she lines them neatly before the fire. Next to go is the cloak, sprawled flat upon the floor like a rug. Rowena continues in greater haste, skin bristling as a chilly draft sneaks past the fire's warmth. Cursed rain. Her mouth opens with a wide grimace to the wet mane that fuses itself to her bare back and she quickly swaddles herself in the donated, blue cloak to recover her decency.

Now, she waits. Sitting carefully on the floor, cloak wrapped as many times as it can around her torso, she listens to the harmonious rhythm of fire and water.

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