- It is the Seventh hour by the Shadow on Fealty, the 16th day of Stormclaw in the year 624. It is a very cold late evening. A strong breeze blows over the land. A severe blizzard prevents you from seeing even the hand in front of your face.
Dank Corridor (Fastheld Keep)
- A narrow corridor, about four feet wide and eight feet high, it runs twenty feet from the northwestern bend that leads to the tower to the eastern bend, deeper into the dungeon.
- The cobbled stone walls are slick with moisture and twists of root sprawl across the ceiling.
- Heavy iron doors leading into the cramped cells of the Fastheld dungeon line the corridor.
Gell Mikin walks down the corridor, ducking his bald head as he passes beneath a clump of roots. The shriveled fingers dance on the chain around his neck, their wiggling a bit more pronounced by the flickering glow of torches jutting from the wall as he passes the cells.
From Dungeon Cell, Dianna Lomasa is curled up in her cell, her arms wrapped tightly around her body, trembling from the Shadows, which dance around the cell. She tries, slowly, to lift her hand to run it through her hair, but wrinkles her nose at the presence of so many knots, and eventually lowers her hand again.
Gell Mikin stops outside Dianna's cell. He peers inside, through the small window. "Lady Lomasa. I trust I haven't come at an inconvenient time." A faint smile touches his lips.
From Dungeon Cell, Dianna Lomasa's head snaps up, eyes widening in fright as the voice of Gell Mikin bounces through the small cell. Her trembling increases, arms tightening around her body as she slowly clears her throat, "You would grace my humble /cell/ with your presence, Surrector," she murmurs, slightly sarcastic, voice scratchy.
The Surrector's smile twitches upward. He nods curtly. "Your behavior during imprisonment has been exemplary. You are to be commended."
From Dungeon Cell, "If you mean my lack of trying to escape, Surrector," Dianna says softly, "Then what use would it be, even if I could? The people of Fastheld hate, and revile me for something that I am not. What is the use of trying to live in such a land?"
"Some hate you for quite a different reason," Gell Mikin replies blandly, lacing his fingers together as he stares into Dianna's cell. "But I have come with tidings you may find uplifting."
From Dungeon Cell, Dianna Lomasa ndos her head slowly, "Yes, I know others hate for different reasons, other than just the false accusation of my being Touched," she says softly. "For my reckless actions, many hate me." She gives a sigh, before lifting her head, "And what uplifting news do you bring, Surrector?"
"Right this way, m'Lord," a voice says, the sound echoing down the stone corridor. A few moments later, Oren Nillu appears, walking the length of the hall with a grim expression on his face. He does even turn to look at any cell but that which he intends to visit. Upon arrival, he offers Gell a nod. "Lord Surrector."
Gell Mikin tilts his head, the smile snaking farther across his face. "An opportunity for freedom. It is within my authority to grant you amnesty and clear your name, declaring you free of the Shadow's Touch, under certain conditions." He turns as Oren Nillu arrives. "Lord Chamberlain. Good evening to you."
From Dungeon Cell, Dianna Lomasa intakes a sharp breath, her eyes lifting to squint towards the door, "And may that be achieved, Surrector?" she asks softly. "You were the one to first declare me Touched... what has changed?"
"Good evening," Oren answers, glancing briefly at the open window. "I was of a mind to visit the prisoner. I hope I am not interrupting."
"Initially, you seemed to be the common denominator in the bizarre happenings in Vozhdya," the Surrector explains, steepling his fingers and tapping them against his chin. "Since your imprisonment, however, the troubles have continued. And they've spread. The new hub of this strangeness, according to my investigation, would seem to be a friend of yours: Althea Weaver." He shakes his head at Oren. "You may feel free. If she cooperates fully, you may have the opportunity to escort her from this place."
From Dungeon Cell, Dianna Lomasa sits up straight, "What? Althea? No, please tell me she is not Touched by the Shadow," she whispers, tears starting to fill up in her eyes. She takes a trembling breath, "What is it you want of me, Surrector?"
Oren Nillu raises a single eyebrow, but nods. "Very well," he says, eyes flickering briefly to the necklace around Gell Mikin's neck. He then turns to watch the exchange in thoughtful silence.
"A signed statement asserting your belief that Althea Weaver used the powers of the Shadow to influence you, your husband and others in recent months," Gell Mikin replies matter-of-factly. "The most recent puppet of her influence seems to have been a carpenter named Pash Cobble, used to kill a Shadowscourge to allow for two of Mistress Weaver's Shadow-Touched friends to escape pursuit."
From Dungeon Cell, Dianna Lomasa rises up to her feet, using her hand, and the wall to keep herself upright, "Althea is Touched?" she asks softly, no strength in her voice. "How could she... Are you sure that it is her, Surrector? Could it not be another Vozhdian?"
"There is no point in stalling, young Lady Lomasa," Oren intervenes. "The Lord Surrector is a man who does his work thoroughly. He has given you the conditions for your release. Denial will change nothing."
"You spent a significant amount of time in her shop, did you not?" the Surrector inquires. "Your husband, perhaps even Cygony Zahir, did business with her. Days later, you're betraying your vows with another man and soon after that, your husband set his own arm on fire to try to besmirch the Zahir nobleman's good name. She helped harbor you when you became a fugitive. She earned your trust. She did business with Pash Cobble, and within days, he had become a fugitive for murdering a Shadowscourge on behalf of two of Mistress Weaver's friends. Lady Lomasa, you must see, she is weaving more than posh clothing in that shop of hers."
From Dungeon Cell, Dianna Lomasa buries her face in her hands, tears sliding down her cheeks rapidly, "How could she do such a thing? She was my friend, one of the few that I could trust," she whispers. Trembling, she looks up slowly, towards the door again, "I only wish to help the Church, the Emperor, and the Light, Surrector," she says quietly. "She is well respected throughout Fastheld... and my statement would do little, but... I long to hold my husband once again."
Oren Nillu offers no comment this time, watching quietly, hands clasped behind his back.
Gell Mikin glances toward Oren. "Chamberlain, while she ponders this opportunity, could you please secure parchment, a quill and inkwell, and an ink stamp?"
From Dungeon Cell, "Surrector, while few do little to help me," Dianna notes, "Many would seek to help Althea. She is much loved, and respected by the Duke of Vozhdya," she says, shaking her head. "...I will do my duty to the Light, Surrector, and should she prove to be innocent of the Touch, I pray that she will forgive me."
"Certainly. The dungeonmaster doubtless has these things," the Chamberlain notes, turning to walk back up the stone corridor. Each of his steps reverberates against the rock walls, like the sound of a drum heralding an event of great importance.
Gell Mikin nods curtly, watching the Chamberlain stride away, then turns his attention back to Dianna. "There will be no proving innocent, I am afraid. She has been connected to too many dark acts. In your case, we can clearly see that you are not Shadow-Touched. You are merely dimwitted. That is, unfortunately, not an offense worthy of execution."
From Dungeon Cell, "My trust was wrongly placed, Surrector," Dianna says softly. "It will be a lesson well learned. What will be become of Althea? Will she become a Lesser, or executed, as I was to be?" she asks quietly, a sad frown flickering across her lips.
"That will depend on her level of cooperation," the Surrector replies. From Dungeon Cell, Dianna Lomasa sighs softly, "An execution would be kinder," she murmurs. "Surrector, may I ask what has happened in Fastheld? News is truly hard to come by in this cell."
Gell Mikin smiles faintly. "You can learn all that for yourself, once you have secured your freedom." Hearing footsteps, he glances down the corridor. "Ah. The chamberlain approaches."
Oren Nillu does indeed return, bearing the requested items. He offers them to Gell Mikin.
From Dungeon Cell, Dianna Lomasa trembles, resting against the wall, "Light forgive me if I send an innocent woman to her death," she says quietly.
Dungeon Cell (Fastheld Keep)
- This chamber is six feet wide and deep, and about eight feet high. It has a musty pile of hay and a ratty gray blanket that passes for a bed. A grimy-looking wooden bucket serves as a toilet. A similar bucket contains brackish drinking water. Take care to know the difference.
- Iron shackles and manacles are affixed to the wall, and can be used to neutralize troublesome prisoners.
Gell Mikin takes the items from the chamberlain, unlocks Dianna's cell and steps inside, into the shadowy cell that has been Dianna Lomasa's home for months. "The Greening will come soon, Lady Lomasa. You will emerge in time to see it, because of your wisdom." He offers the items. "All you have to do is write the letter. State that Althea Weaver is Shadow-Touched and influenced your behavior and that of others. Sign it. Simple as that, you go free."
From Dank Corridor, Oren Nillu awaits patiently outside the cell, a slight frown creasing his brows as he watches.
With trembling hands, Dianna takes the items, tears slipping free once more. Slowly, she begins to write out the letter, a few ters blotting the parchment.
Gell Mikin laces his fingers together, moving out of the way of any extra illumination that might filter through the crack in the cell door.
From Dank Corridor, "It is for the best," Oren Nillu says, his voice soft but firm, eyes locked on Dianna Lomasa as she writes.
Dianna Lomasa nods her head slowly, handing the supplies back, and the freshly written letter. "I pray the Light offers her mercy," she whispers.
Gell Mikin smiles. "Stamp it with your name, please."
From Dank Corridor, Oren Nillu remains quiet.
Dianna Lomasa nods her head, silently stamping the letter, before offering it to Gell, tears still streaking down her cheeks.
- To my knowledge Althea Weaver of Vozhdya appears to have the taint of the Shadow and influenced my behavior and that of those around me during my time in Vozhdya.
- Dianna Lomasa
Gell Mikin takes the letter from Lady Lomasa. Reviews it in the light coming through the cell door. Nods in approval. "See? Simple." He looks toward Oren. "Chamberlain, show her to one of the tower guest suites. Give her fresh clothes and a soft bed." His gaze returns to Dianna. "You'll want to clean up. But I would recommend against traveling in the blizzard. Wait until morning, when the weather calms."
From Dank Corridor, "Come, Lady Lomasa. Too much time already have you spent in this grim place," Oren Nillu says, awaiting for the noblewoman to come.
Dianna Lomasa gives a wobbly bow to Gell, "Thank you," She murmurs, stepping towards the door, very slowly, her arms wrapped tightly around her.
Gell Mikin inclines his head, folding the letter.
From Dank Corridor, Oren Nillu awaits outside, offering his arm to Dianna as she exits. "A warm bed awaits," he promises. "And peaceful dreams. I will send a healer to you so he may offer you drinks to sleep better. After too long in a place as dark as this, it is not beyond reason to assume you may me uncomfortable outside." He glances briefly at Gell. "Light be with you, Surrector. Let us go, Lady Lomasa."
Gell Mikin nods. "Keep in the Light."
Dianna Lomasa trembles as she steps out of the cell, taking the arm, "I am free?" she questions, looking around her with wonderment, before bowing slowly, and painfully to Gell again, "You as well, Surrector."
"Yes," Oren answers and guides her down the hall.