Throne Room <Fastheld Keep>

The high ceilings of this gray stone chamber are supported by rows of massive columns along an aisle that features a purple carpet that extends from the arched entrance to the Emperor's throne room and ends at the first step of the dais that holds the gleaming majesty of the Imperial throne - a chair of gold, armrests encrusted in jewels, back and seat cushioned with stuffed pillows covered with crimson velvet.
Torches flicker in stanchions attached to the columns. The fluttering wings and twitter of birds can occasionally be heard in the shadows overhead, where the fowl have nested after coming into the estate through one of the balconies or the courtyard.
The seal of Fastheld - a crown within a dark, unbroken circle - is on the tapestry that hangs behind and above the throne of Talus Kahar.

Talus Kahar is currently pacing in front of the throne, his hands clasped behind his back, moonlight gleaming off the circlet of gold around his chestnut hair. The herald inclines his head to Alieron and says, "Good evening, Chancellor. The Emperor will see you."

The Lord Chancellor, Alieron Mikin, steps into the Throne Room. He strides in a confident, and proud yet reserved posture. His composure is that of confidence, and nobility though he appears in his face to be tired. As he steps in, a look of humility crosses his face as he gazes upon the Emperor, awaiting to be acknowledged.

Talus Kahar gets to a column where two Imperial Guards stand stern-looking and somber as they lurk in the shadows. He turns to walk back the other way and sights the Chancellor. He stops, inclines his head and says, "Chancellor, good evening. I trust you had an uneventful journey."

Alieron Mikin bows low, "Your Majesty, yes, but not an uneventful day. My aunt, the Dowager Countess Athara Mikin has come to stay at Riverview...." He has a brief look of annoyance when he speaks of her, but then continues on, "Other than that, my day was uneventful."

Talus Kahar nods understandingly. "Relatives can be an inconvenience." He smiles faintly, then steps up onto the dais and settles into the throne, resting his hands on the armrests. "So, what news have you?"

Alieron Mikin shakes his head slowly, his eyes growing distant as he recounts, "I am deeply disturbed by the Wildling attack upon Wedgecrest, and what implications it has. " He clasps his hands behind his back, speaking clearer now, "That they burrowed under Wedgecrest, and could do so anywhere is disturbing." He shakes his head slowly, "I hope this 'She' they are looking for is not tied to the Mikins in any way."

Talus Kahar shakes his head. "I doubt that 'She' is. But we are working on determining that, with the aid of the Luminary." He settles back into his throne, observing the Chancellor.

Alieron Mikin suddenly has a look of utter astonishment crosses his face, and his eyes widen. He clears his throat, speaking in a broken sentence, "Your..Majes...the Luminary?!" He appears frozen in place, gazing upon the Emperor with a look of utter astonishment, and horror.

"Well, not the entire Luminary, no," the Emperor replies, lifting his eyebrows. "But Faeyd will assign one of their number to aid us. It is only temporary, until we determine who 'She' is and deal with her. Then, the emissary will be exiled beyond the Aegis."

Alieron Mikin raises his voice, bursting out, "Your Majesty! This is insanity! We cannot work with the Shadow! This is heresy!" His eyes are widened, and he is now speaking in almost a panicked tone mixed with anger, "Your Majesty, this cannot be true! You are not dealing with the Shadow?!" He backs away slowly, a look of shock upon his face, "Do you not realize, the Wildlings are of the Shadow?! The Luminary is of the Shadow! It is all touched by the Shadow, therefore they are all in league together!"

The guards around the throne shift not all that subtly, resting hands on sword hilts at the outburst. Talus furrows his brow. "Chancellor, you forget your place."

Alieron Mikin continues his tangent, "Your Majesty.!" Then falls into a stutter, and then silence as he sees the guards movement. His mouth remains agape as if he wants to speak, but then he shuts it quickly. He gulps, his face one still of panic, and horror but he stops moving away as he stands silently. He just stares at the Emperor.

Once the Chancellor has stilled himself, the Emperor nods slowly. "I know that both are of the Shadow, Chancellor. But I also know that it is in the best interests of the Luminary to see to it that the Wildlings go no further in their attacks on our townships in search of 'She'. The Wildlings are capable of communicating and coordinating their group movements with their minds. We are strategically disadvantaged in this regard. They seek an entity that they cannot or will not verbally describe. We are strategically disadvantaged in thisr regard. So, I am balancing our status strategically by enlisting the aid of a single Shadow-Touched mage who might touch their minds and learn what we must learn, to save the realm as a whole."

Alieron Mikin remains silent as the Emperor explains the purpose, appearing to be trembling slightly, as his face grows into one of full internal conflict. He clears his throat, simply replying, "Yes, Your Majesty." He shakes his head, his eyes downcast, then he raises them to the Emperor steadily. "Your Majesty, the Shadow cannot be trusted. The Luminary despises the Light, they want our downfall. Even if the Wildlings and the Shadow-Touched of Fastheld are not allies, they are both pawns of the Shadow. They both seek the destruction of the Light, and the destruction of Fastheld as we know it." He shakes his head, gulping once again, "The Wildlings have not overrun Fastheld, we are not at the end of our road, why deal with those of the Shadow?"

"Chancellor, which would you find more repulsive?" Talus inquires, tilting his head. "Dealing with the Luminary for this one occasion or sacrificing your daughter to the Wildlings because we remain too stubborn to do what must be done to help ourselves?"

Alieron Mikin just continues shaking his head, "Dealing with the Shadow at all is repulsive, Your Majesty. It is dangerous, and unprecedented for the past hundreds of years. This is a dangerous road, Your Majesty, it is perilous."

"More repulsive than allowing your daughter, your wife, *my* son, the sons and daughters of the nobles and free people of Fastheld to die in these continued incursions against our lands?" the Emperor presses, scowling. "Spare me the sermon about the dangers of the Shadow. I know all too well. My blood has been cursed by it. I *know*. Do not for a moment assume that I am untroubled by this decision. I am *most* troubled by it. I do it only because I recognize no other choice. I am condemned if I do it. I am condemned if I had the opportunity to do it but failed to do so, costing countless lives. Therefore, I choose to be condemned for doing that which may be wrong for the *right* reasons than to do what is right for the *wrong* reasons! Is this clear?"

Alieron Mikin nods slowly, gulping once again, "Yes, Your Majesty. You are the Emperor of Fastheld." He gazes at him in a look that says he wishes to say more, but he restrains himself, and he remains silent. He shakes his head, "It is upon your shoulders, but it now weighs heavily upon me that my Emperor has dealt with one of the Shadow, and my mind is discontent." He sighs deeply, "What is done is done, and cannot be undone."

Talus Kahar nods. "It is my burden to bear, as it always has been and as it always will be. I leave it to those who watch on the sidelines to pretend at greater wisdom. I do not require your approval. I only require the satisfaction of knowing I did what was best for the people of this realm rather than for my reputation among the crowds of second-guessers that are as populous as fall leaves in a forest gulley." His brow knits. "Do you have any other matters to discuss?"

Alieron Mikin shakes his head slowly, his eyes downtrodden once more, "No, Your Majesty. With your leave, I shall return to Riverview." He says this gravely, his stance less confident now, as he executes a slow rough bow.

Talus Kahar nods slowly. "Keep in the Light." He settles back into the mixture of shadows and flickering firelight cast by torches jutting from columns around the throne room. His guards incline their heads out of respect to the Chancellor as he leaves the Emperor as the Emperor always ends: Alone with his choices, decisions, and potential consequences.

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