FANDOM


By the Gatehouse <Fastheld Keep>


The heart of the walled city-state of Fastheld, this expansive fortress serves as the center of government for all the districts and the home of Emperor Talus Kahar and his wife, the Empress Freia Seamel.
Soldiers of the Emperor's Blades can be seen walking along the battlements and throughout the grounds on regular patrols.
The Imperial Stables are off to the northwest, overshadowed by the ancient Bronze Hall of the Imperial Horsemen; so named for its appearance of being thatched in bronze, finials on the rooftops cutting dramatic silhouettes upon the skyline, while regal banners flank the huge doors that guard the Hall.
The Imperial Residence sprawls toward the north and east, while to the north rest the royal tournament grounds. Finally, one can find a gatehouse, defended by large double doors, leading toward the Palace Road to the south.

It is a very cold early evening. The slightest breeze stirs over the land infrequently.



Ester is standing next to the gatehouse adjusting her gloves. A quiver and a black longbow lay at her feet.


Ganeos strides in, black cloak enshrouding him, tugging at his own gloves, breath coming out into a steamy cloud in the frigid air.


Ester looks up and nods politely at Ganeos, "M'Lord." The words puffing out a cloud of air that swirls around her head.


"Ah, Deputy Surrector." Ganeos replies, returning the nod. His words take flight like smoke from the fire, losing coherence quickly, fading away. "Are you taking your leave of the palace already?"


Ester casts a sidelong glance at the gatehouse, "I come and go quite regularly M'lord. I am usually not quartered here unless business necessitates."


"Oh, well, then. I suppose business has been.. handled. I don't see another misfortune of the magnitude hitting us too soon." Hazel eyes turn to her bow, Ganeos studying it thoughtfully. "You are a hunter first, deputy second, yes?"


"Again that depends M'lord. My duties to the crown take precedence. Though as deputy I am a different sort of hunter." Ester replies. "I am also officially Guildmistress of the Hunters guild but as of late it has fallen to no more then a figurehead. I have a good group of people that tend to the duties in my absence." She smile politely, "Men and women of the wilds tend to be of the independent sort."


"Hmm." Ganeos acknowledges the correction with a slight wrinkling of his nose, but no sharp retorts. "You prefer the bow, obviously. How well can you shoot it?"


"I'm decent enough to get the job done M'lord," Ester replies with a small smile, "Though I do have skills with other tools as well. There are many ways to kill."


"More then I have any intention to learn." Ganeos agrees, looking back to the Deputy. "I was about to head to the chapel to pay respect to the Emperor's remains. Could I insist on a small measure of your time as company, and... well, a guide? I am still new to the keep, and I have been remiss in my service to attend to the Church's teachings.


Ester hesitates and looks north across the expansive grounds. When she looks back she nods once and stoops to pick up bow and quiver. "Of course M'lord. I will take you." She beckons as she turns towards the tournament grounds.


Ganeos quietly follows, hands disappearing within the folds of his cloak.


Ester skirts the edge of the field as she walks, her expression taking on a solemn air.


Ganeos glides after the woman, speaking after a moment. "Thank you."


Along the North Wall <Fastheld Keep>


A well-trodden path leads along the grassy lawn of the revered keep of Fastheld, marking the passage of innumerable footsteps on patrol past the ancient stones the form the north wall of the fortress.
Here, the path goes past the gated entrance to the royal crypt, while the palace tournament grounds extend to the south.


"No need M'lord," Ester replies quietly. As the entrance to the royal crypt comes into view several small groups of people can be seen milling about. Some dressed in the lavish finery of the noble classes and others the most simplest of common dress. However today they all have one thing in common. An air of melancholy laced with traces of tension of a future left uncertain hangs in the cold air.


Ganeos moves up beside the Deputy, briefly focusing on the people, and the shared sense of grief. "So very sad." His voice is musing, and he runs a finger across his thin beard, considering. "The Emperor ruled in a manner that caused many to question him, but no one can doubt that he was loved, once they have visited here. A great lost to us all."


A woman comes out of the Crypt obviously shaken up, dressed in the common cloth of a commoner, a gray coat thrown across her shoulder. Obviously her escort's, the man holding her close, as she sobs out her grief.


Aye," Ester replies quietly her own voice catching on that most simplest of words. She continues on to the door, nodding at the woman and her escort as they pass them. "He was a good man. In ways that many may never know..."


The Seamel follows after the Huntress, offering the distressed couple a glance, reaching up to absently clutch the brooch that holds the cloak closed.


Ester steps into the dim light of the royal crypt.



Royal Crypt Entrance <Fastheld Keep>


A domed green marble rotunda serves as the entrance of the royal crypt, where the masters of the city-state of Fastheld and their spouses and offspring have been buried for more than sixty generations. A fountain adorned with brass cherubim gurgles in the center of the chamber.
The chapel where services for the deceased are held is through an archway to the west. The mausoleum, where the bodies are interred, can be reached by walking down the steps into the shadows below the northern wall of the castle.


Ganeos light footstep take on a more ominous sound in the crypt, the pounding of a heart inside an area designed to house the dead.


Ester looks towards the archway that leads to the chapel and the flicker of candlelight that lies beyond it. Several people move in and out signaling that is indeed where the remains lie. She gestures with her hand, "After you M'lord."


Ganeos nods solemnly, purposely striding into the room.



Memorial Chapel <Fastheld Keep


An arch-ceilinged chamber of green marble with stained glass windows depicting the various phases of construction of the Aegis wall, this chapel is a reverent place suited for quiet contemplation and the remembrance of those who are lost.
Rows of wooden pews flank a wide aisle of cobbled stones that leads to the funeral bier where caskets are placed, and the dais for those who speak in memory of the deceased.


The chapel is lit with dozens of tapered candles that line the walls from one end to the other. Several guards dressed in their finest uniforms stand watch, expressions showing little emotion. The urn itself sits on the dais, two candles on either side. The dais is draped in a royal blue cloth, the color of the house of Kahar.


Ester steps inside an gasps softly on sight of the urn. Her head drops forward as she murmurs something under her breath.


The only difference in the Seamel is the sudden tension around his eyes, relieved by closing them for a second, then reopening them to the sight. The guards in finery. The urn upon the royal crest of blue. The lingering essence of a dead man surrounded only by his subjects he left behind, and the trappings of power he attempted to flee from.


Ester steps off to the side, moving out of the way to allow other passage unimpeded. "I will wait here M'lord," she says, her voice just above a whisper.


Ganeos continues forward, stopping a respectful distance from the dias, kneeling down. His gaze likewise drops, hands steepling before him, a catechism to the Light coming to his lips.


Ester watches as group of young boys file into the room coxed on by a matronly looking woman.


"I don't wanna be her, ma!" One of the boys says, attempting a whisper. The Mother's response is predictable, hand clawing into a shoulders, directing a glare that shuts up the whiner and subdues any other forecoming complaints or agreements from the others.


Ganeos continues his solemn duty to the dead, a soft prayer ending with a sharp blessing, slowly rising back to his feet.


Ester looks around the chapel gaze falling everywhere expect on the urn. She appears to be making quite an effort to avoid looking at it for any period of time longer then a glance.


Ganeos tightens the cloak again, turning away from the dais and heading back for the doorway. "Let us leave."



Royal Crypt Entrance <Fastheld Keep>


A domed green marble rotunda serves as the entrance of the royal crypt, where the masters of the city-state of Fastheld and their spouses and offspring have been buried for more than sixty generations. A fountain adorned with brass cherubim gurgles in the center of the chamber.
The chapel where services for the deceased are held is through an archway to the west. The mausoleum, where the bodies are interred, can be reached by walking down the steps into the shadows below the northern wall of the castle.


"Thank your for attending. I know that must be harder for you then it was for me, as you knew him far more then I did." Ganeos says, eyes focused ahead, hands disappearing back into the cloak.


Ester follows a half step behind. "It was no trouble M'lord," Ester replies and ponders something for a moment, "Just rather surreal."


"What do you mean?" Ganeos asks, "Do you mean that you never expected him to die?"


"No," Ester replies with some consternation. They head out the door as she continues, "That, that is all that is left."


"Ah. Yes. I suppose I can see how that could be surreal." Ganeos replies, leaving the crypt behind.



Along the North Wall <Fastheld Keep>


A well-trodden path leads along the grassy lawn of the revered keep of

Fastheld, marking the passage of innumerable footsteps on patrol past the ancient stones the form the north wall of the fortress.

Here, the path goes past the gated entrance to the royal crypt, while the

palace tournament grounds extend to the south.



The people are still there. The atmosphere is still there. Little has changed as the pair exit the crypt. Ester stays silent lost in her thoughts as she slings the quiver she's still carrying over her shoulder.


Ganeos takes a deep breath, throwing a quick look around at all those gathered around, then continues on. Quiet, for once, leaving Ester to her thoughts.


Ester finally pipes up, "If you will excuse me Lord Seamel I have some business I need to attend to. I trust you can find your way from here?"


"I can. Light's Blessing, Deputy Surrector." Ganeos continues on, returning to the keep proper.


Ester watches the man take his leave and turns east, walking off towards the tower.




Some time later................


Memorial Chapel <Fastheld Keep


An arch-ceilinged chamber of green marble with stained glass windows depicting the various phases of construction of the Aegis wall, this chapel is a reverent place suited for quiet contemplation and the remembrance of those who are lost.
Rows of wooden pews flank a wide aisle of cobbled stones that leads to the funeral bier where caskets are placed, and the dais for those who speak in memory of the deceased.


The chapel is lit with dozens of tapered candles that line the walls from one end to the other. Several guards dressed in their finest uniforms stand watch, expressions showing little emotion. The urn itself sits on the dais, two candles on either side. The dais is draped in a royal blue cloth, the color of the house of Kahar.


Thayndor Zahir kneels next to the front row of pews, head slightly bowed in contemplation. The flickering light of the candles causes the play of dramatic shadows amidst the folds of his cloak and the short tussle of his hair; his cap, usually worn, is held in the hand that maintains his balance on the floor. Two of his own guards, Deepers, sit quietly in the rear pew, reverent for once.


Ester steps into the chapel and stops, the candlelight glinting off of her blond hair. Hazel eyes blink slowly at the sight of the urn on the dais as she regards it with tense expression. She makes no move until a couple, noble in dress, come up behind her, whispering a soft, "Excuse Mistress." A sidestep and a soft apologetic nod and the couple move by, silently walking to the front of the room.


Thayndor Zahir does not move as the couple approach his position, although he lifts his head to regard the ashes. At the rear of the room, his guards exchange nonplused glances as the couple pass, but examine Ester with a mite more care.


The couple takes their seat across from the lord and settle into quiet contemplation. Ester however still doesn't move. She stands in place at the back, watching with gloved hand slowly flexing and unflexing at her side.


At length, Thayndor rises, regarding the urn with hands clasped behind his back. After a moment he pulls up the cowl of his cloak.


The movement catches Ester's eye moving it from ashes to Zahir. She regards him with absent interest.


Thayndor Zahir takes a step back, then turns, his cowl ruffled up about his neck but not yet concealing his face. He stretches and straightens the cap in his other hand as he walks towards the exit; seeing this, his guards rise. "Bout time," one mutters to the other, very quiet. "It's not as if he was the Emperor's good buddy or anything."


Ester's gaze narrows on the Zahir as she catches sight of his face, expression searching for something. Perhaps recognition.


Thayndor Zahir returns the look as if he felt it coming, nodding to the woman. "Good afternoon," he says in a whisper. At a gesture, his guards turn and walk for the door, presumably to wait for him outside.


"Lord Zahir?" Ester queries in a similar whisper, still uncertain, "Lord Thayndor Zahir of Darkwater?"


Thayndor Zahir nods, brows knitting. "That I am," he replies, giving Ester a more attentive look. The tone of his voice invites her to continue.


Ester smiles politely and dips her head, "Deputy Surrector Ester Shardwood. I'm wondering if you have a moment to speak." She glances around, "Perhaps in a place better fitting a conversation."


Thayndor Zahir nods, acknowledging the bow, and arches one eyebrow. "I see. Yes, then. Let's be off." He gestures towards the door. "If you'd be so kind."


Royal Crypt Entrance <Fastheld Keep>


A domed green marble rotunda serves as the entrance of the royal crypt, where the masters of the city-state of Fastheld and their spouses and offspring have been buried for more than sixty generations. A fountain adorned with brass cherubim gurgles in the center of the chamber.
The chapel where services for the deceased are held is through an archway to the west. The mausoleum, where the bodies are interred, can be reached by walking down the steps into the shadows below the northern wall of the castle.


"Did you have someplace specific in mind?" Thayndor asks, hands finding themselves once more behind his back. The silhouettes of his guards are visible outside, knotted with four more shapes in similar attire.


Ester nods and beckons him to follow her to the other side of the fountain away from the door and the mingling mourners.


Thayndor Zahir steps alongside Ester, adjusting his cloak against the cold. His guards remain out of earshot, near the door.


Ester dips her head again before starting, "Forgive me for interrupting your visit. I shall get straight to the point Lord Zahir. I was made aware of you by a colleague of mine." She smiles politely, "I have a hypothetical question to ask."


"I had finished paying my respects. No apologies are necessary." He listens quietly to her request, then: "By all means," he says smoothly, "Ask."


"If one was to need a ship. A good ship, with a good crew, for a job that would hold the need for the utmost of discretion would you be the one to talk to Lord Zahir?" Ester asks her tone neutral.


"There would be no one else," Thayndor says. "Darkwater's availability would rest very much on the nature of the task, however."


"Mmm...well that is good to know." Ester pauses, her mouth hinting at a wry smile as she thinks. "Now if someone was to request such a ship for a job most outside of what is usual within the walls of Fastheld, and I as a representative of the Surrectors office asked to be informed of such a request would the willingness to pass on the information reside in you Lord Zahir?"


Thayndor Zahir smiles slightly. "Ah," he says. "You are asking me to pass on information about any prospective clients. That, I suppose, depends on the nature of the request I would be looking for."


Ester smiles politely, "Not every client Lord Zahir. I have little interest in the daily goings on." She pauses," Though I think if a prospective client should happen to approach you a request such as this, it would be quite apparent that it's nature would be that outside of your daily toils, whatever they may be."


"I see." The Zahir scratches under his chin with a gloved hand. "I don't suppose you could be more specific."


Ester looks apologetic and offers and ever so slight shake of her head, "I'm afraid not Lord Zahir. It's just as things have to be. It is a sensitive time where trust and loyalty fall into question." She offers him a knowing look, "I believe that if I have heard correctly that you are one to understand the way of such things."


"I suppose my actions will have to vouch for me in that regard," Thayndor says, drawing a breath. "Very well. I will give extra consideration to such ... unusual requests." He tilts his head. "Am I to understand that the Surrector wishes to interfere with a specific operation?"


Ester smiles politely, "That will be up to the Surrector. As of now. Information is all that is required." Her hands clasp behind her back, "If such information should happen to come your way please feel free to speak with me about this, or anything else that you should think I might find interesting. I would be disappointed if such did not happen."


"Such things occur more often if reciprocated in some fashion," Thayndor replies, a sharp look in his eye.


Ester catches the look and dips her chin. "Yes of course they do. And I believe that in this case this is where the trust that I was speaking about comes into play."


Thayndor Zahir chuckles. "Indeed, Mistress Shardwood." He nods, and bares his hands, palms forward. "If that is all, I have matters which require my attention."


"That is all Lord Zahir," Ester returns with a respectful nod, "Thank you for speaking with me. And Light's Blessings to you and yours in this sad time."


"Likewise," Thayndor replies. "I must return to my Keep posthaste. Hopefully Darkwater's isolated nature kept the pox at bay in my absence. It is the usual way of these things."


"Hopefully," Ester replies and lapses into silence.


"In any event. Light guide you." Thayndor nods to Ester and slips away towards his guards, who fall into step behind him as he moves to the south end of the Keep.


Ester watches the nobleman make his retreat and after he moves out of eyesight, lets out a long and relieved breath, as if she had been holding it all this time. She rubs the back of her neck, murmuring to herself, "Liiight."

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.