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There was a Knight came riding by
In early spring when the roads were dry;
And he heard that lady sing at the noon,
Two red roses across the moon.


Hall of Dawn <Dawnstar Keep>


Set within a contrast of the dark bluish-gray from the arsenic shades of the stone walls, the shimmering jet from the white-flecked marble floor, the silver of the wall sconces, the gold of the flames they contain, and the deep ruby of the carpeting path below, the Hall of Dawn is a location rich in color, mood, and warmth.
The hall itself is of an uncomplicated design that consists of a generally rectangular space that tapirs into an isosceles trapezium at the western end, with the eastern side remaining that which leads back to the vestibule beyond, and which faces the city of Light's Reach beyond the keep.
In the middle of isosceles trapezium sits the dais upon which the magnificent Dragonharp Throne rests. Two white-marble support pillars - entwinted with rich, serpentine, ivy filigree - stand just forward of the throne, flanking the seat of power on both sides while creating a little pocket of privacy to ensure that only those standing directly in front of the throne can look upon those within the enclave without obstruction.
A large and somewhat ornate chandelier hangs above the Hall of Dawn to cast additional warm light upon those below, while tapestries hang from most walls to challenge the arsenic shades beneath them. Passageways lead to the North and South wings of Dawnstar Keep, while behind the Dragonharp throne itself can one find a large insignia of a rising silver sun above a jade landscape.

Upon the Sixth hour by the Shadow on Idleforge, the 26th day of Seedwarming, the Hall of Dawn of Dawnstar Keep is as quiet as it is solemn. The reason for this is clear: it is vacant, save for that of the Sovereign Prince of the Blood, who sits upon the Dragonharp Throne as if waiting for something - or, rather, someone.

For once, one might actually mistake him for the Prince that he is supposed to be in looks rather than just nature, for he is clad in a distinctive set of Half-Plate armor that is utterly bone white in color. No mere argentite or silver is that armor, but something else entirely, and entirely befitting of Blood Royalty such as he. It does not shine like a metal should, but seems instead to drink in light. However, a metal it remains all the same, and upon the Prince of the Blood it seems to be empowered with all the authority of Emperors of both recent and long forgotten history alike.

He wears no helm, however, and one might note that the argent of his hair and the ethereal and unworldly azure of his eyes seem to complement that armor well enough.

Though night may fall beyond the arsenic-hued walls of the elaborate Keep, silver sconces and torches burn warmly with golden flame, and the polished marble of the floor beneath adds the final touches of providence to this regal scene - one that suits the coming ceremony well.


And so approaches the sound of advancing, armored boots - only one pair, it seems, the source soon being revealed as the amethyst-cloaked form of Sir Norran Lomasa. Bristling with weaponry while simultaniously bearing the bold colors of the Royal Order despite his meticulously well-kept suit of obsidian half-plate, the Lomasa Knight walks quite calmly into the hall with his usual proud bearing.

He steps his way calmly toward where Serath sits, his equipment shifting and jingling lightly as he walks before he finds a suitable place to fall comfortably to a kneel.

Norran bows his head in greeting, speaking in welcome, "I've come as you have summoned, Your Highness. Very few Knightly things to accomplish in this city, I'm afraid, but the taphouse made it more than worth the while. That aside, what is it you ask of me, Your Highness? I am prepared for the task."


"I'll make this as swift as possible, then," Serath remarks with mirth, matching Norran's subtle attepts at humor with his own, "Lest the Taphouse find itself with more alcohol than it knows what to do with without a Lomasa on hand to assist in keeping it all from getting out of hand."

With a smile, the Prince of the Blood takes a moment to clear his throat and raises from the Dragonharp Throne, drawing the steel longsword that previously rested upon his lap to stand with him, tip to the ground, crossguard at his waist, hands upon the pommel.

"Norran Lomasa," he announces in a stately tone, the name spoken with respect, "Earl of Riverhold Castle; Son of Nolan; Knight-Errant of the Royal Order; distinguished Noble of House Lomasa; by the power and authority granted to me by the Kingdom and the Light, I have summoned you here so that I may bestow upon you a great honor, and so that we might reshape the course of the realm.

He pauses for a moment, and then commands: "Kneel."


Norran seems to be sorely lacking in witty remarks or dashing repartee after Serath's words, that fact alone likely distressing him for a moment before he seems to accept his fate and take on a slight grin. At the command, his expression is steeled into a somewhat unorthodox seriousness for the young nobleman.

He takes to his knee carefully, comfortably settling himself as the amethyst of his cloak pools lightly about his form. His head is bowed reverently, eyes cast patiently downward as he listens to Serath.


"It is the decision of the Sovereign Prince of the Blood," Serath begins, walking slowly down from the dias to stand in front of Norran, "Speaking in the interests of the People and Nobility of Fastheld, that you be granted all the powers and privileges of one who holds the title of Grand Master of the Royal Order."

"Knights-Errants of the Royal Order are not trained," he continues, "but chosen: individuals forged in the fire of service and battle; those whose actions elevate them above the rank and file."

"They are an ideal - a symbol; the embodiment of courage, determination, and self-reliance. They are the right hand of the Kingdom; instruments of the People's will."

"Knight-Errants bear a great burden: they are protectors of the People and the Law - our strongest of defense. The safety of the Kingdom is theirs to uphold, for the People look to them for hope and guidance, acting as they will as beacons of Light when everything around them is cast in darkness."

"As Grand Master of the Royal Order, you shall stand at the head of this exemplary model; the embodiment of all that the Royal Order shall now become; the hand that guides the Sword of Justice as well as the Shield of Law."

"As the sun has set on the Imperial Tribunal, so shall it now rise for the Royal Order. In the warmth of this new dawn, you shall become the personification of the Royal Law; an authority second only to the Ruling Steward in Government Hierarchy, and fourth in Royal standing, if not in blood."

"You will be held to a standard far higher than you have been held to before, as power does not come with responsibility, and trust and faith must be earned and maintained in kind. As the vanguard of justice, you must also be exemplary in action and chivalry, flawless in nature, virtuous in deed and renown."

"Norran Lomasa," he finishes after a few moments of silence for Norran to take the speech in, "In the name of the Light and the Land, do you accept this charge?"


Norran remains in his position for a few moments, form unmoving as he listens to Serath. Once the question is asked of him, the Lomasa Knight responds in but a moment, "By the grace of the Light, the King and the Kingdom, I gladly and readily accept this charge and the burden that accompanies it. I will stand in vigil of Fastheld's Law and become Justice's blade. I will uphold this duty until I am no longer capable of accomplishing it."


At that affirmation, Serath hefts the blade of the steel longsword upwards to lay the tip flat on Norran's right shoulder, and then upon his left a moment or two later. This done, the Prince of the Blood returns the sword to its previous position of standing tip-down in front of him as he regards the kneeling Noble.

"Then I dub you Sir Norran Lomasa, first Grand Master of the Royal Order of the Sovereign Crown, and bestow upon you all the rights and honors that the title permits. As you knelt as Nobility, now rise as Royalty, Grand Master."


And so, the newly-dubbed Grand Master rises to stand before the Prince. His downcast gaze is finally lifted toward the Prince once he's risen, his expression relaxing considerably as he thumps a gauntleted fist against his breastplate in the form of the old Blades salute.

"I am honored to serve, Your Highness, and shall take to my duties immediately. The Order is fresh and must be properly tempered to stand the tests of time." The Lomasa then looks somewhat at a loss for a couple moments before he manages a pleased smile once again, attention once-again set on the Prince.

"In other words, I've quite a lot of work to do. For now, however, is there any other details I should be made aware of that I've not previously been informed of, and are there any specific duties you'd like me to overtake in the mean time?"


"For all intents and purposes, Norran," Serath remarks, his tone now dropping back to a more casual level of conversation as he does so, "you're the new Justiciar. Except that you're not. I'd like to think that this should become a more 'hands on' reworking of that position. Don't feel that you have to lock yourself away in an office somewhere, hidden beneath mountains of paperwork - you have *Staff* to do that for you."

"Speaking of Justiciars," the Prince then adds, sounding as if he's just remembered something, "I have a gift for you, in celebration of how far you've climbed."


"If that's what the position entailed of, Your Highness, I don't think I could have accepted it no matter how honorable it could have been. I still remember how awkward a man like Hartnek looked stuck behind that desk in the Hall of Blades, it wasn't quite what I imagined it to be. Unless I'm allowed to go out into the fray, it's simply not my place, and if I'm chosen to lead I won't be doing so from the top of a tower," replies Norran, his tone sure as he quirks a brow toward Serath's next words.

"A gift? I wasn't aware until you appointed the Viscountess to the position, but as I understand it this blade on my back was gifted to me by the Warpriest of the Imperial Cult, whom I now know was you. You've already granted me an ally to which I doubt there will ever be another match, as welcoming as my kin are known to be I don't have any form of thanks to rightly word the boons you've given me," Norran then pauses, his expression growing excitedly curious, "However! My words are meaningless, as I'm /very/ curious to see what it could be."


Deciding that there are few replies that would do sufficient justice to the level of (albeit awkward) honor that was just bestowed upon him by Norran, Serath merely nods, smiles, and then beckons for the Grand Master to follow in his wake, promptly leading the way over to a previously unremarkable chest tucked away between two pillars (and perhaps placed in such an overlookable position on purpose).

"Obviously, the gift in question is inside the chest," the Prince notes, "rather than being the chest itself. Which I have no doubt that you would have accepted the chest and pretended that it was, in fact, the greatest chest that you'd ever set eyes upon, with a level of craftsmanship that bards will sing of for centuries to come, and... well, you know."

He shrugs softly, and then gestures for Norran to open it himself, lest he steal the Lomasa’s thunder and defeat the entire purpose of placing the gift in the container to begin with.


The Lomasa follows after Serath, his brow raising still at the Prince's words before he laughs quite openly. "The chest? I'd like to think I've improved somewhat over the years, perhaps I'd have utilized such a tactic when I was still a Baron as I was unfamiliar with you and foolish enough to assume you'd enjoy it. Tempest, however, is a masterpiece. As worthy as any statue of Talus Kahar the First if not for the irony that it hangs off the back of an insane man such as I. I fight not to make this sword worthy of me but for me to be worthy of this sword - erm, I'm sure you've heard enough about that. My apologies," chuckles Norran, giving a nod to the prince and kneels down to unlatch and open the chest.

"Now as for this chest... I'm not a carpenter, I'm sure it's a /very/ fine chest, but it's not Tempest. My apologies if I've wounded your pride of your boxes, Your Highness, it was far from intended."

Once the chest has opened, however, Norran grows absolutely silence as he stares at the armor within. "By the Light," breathes the Lomasa, eyes open wide as he runs his hands over the craftsmanship, taking note of the subtle touches and the construction. "You've outdone yourself, Your Highness. I withdraw everything I said about this chest."


"Well, you can keep the chest if you like it so much," the Prince quips, evidently pleased that the Grand Master is impressed with it, "as well as any baubles or trinkets you might find inside. I'm sure they'll palm in comparison to the smooth planks and carved beams of the chest itself, but who knows?"

"On a more serious note, though," Serath continues, "The Imperial Tribunal building and the Bronze Hall are both available for you to call home until we can get a more fitting location established to act as the Royal Order's official home. The Imperial Tribunal should continue to be the focus of the actual administrative side of the law, as it was for the Tribunal itself, and those who are switching over from the Tribunal are familiar with the location enough to keep things ticking over, even if they're under the banner of the Royal Guard now."

"I believe the Bronze Hall will remain the perfect location for the initiation of House Knights into the Order, and I'm sure Varius Kahar will be more than happy to maintain his role in that process," he adds, considering. "In the meanwhile, Dawnstar Keep is more than willing to accommodate you, should you wish to remain in Light's Reach for a while."


"The chest will prove to be a stalwart container, I'm certain, to house this armor. Although I may miss the value of wearing a suit of armor gifted to me by a woman who'd enjoy my death, I have a feeling that the hall of the Royal Order will be wherever I stand while I'm wearing this," admits Norran, closing and securing the chest with a grin before rising and bowing his head to Serath.

"You've my thanks again, Your Highness, and I'll see to it to take up residence when residence is needed in those places. For now, however, I should journey north to find Count Valoria and see to his admittance along with the Guild's establishment...which leads to a few more questions, if you wouldn't mind answering," realizes Norran, gaze set curiously on Serath as he continues, "First, which is quite important, I've been unaware up til now but, in your mind, Your Highness, what are the exact criteria for inducting a noble into the Royal Order? Must he be as obvious as I, or is it not the equipment and the weapon of choice that matters so much as other merits? And of this Guild - should we simply call it the Adventurer's Guild, perhaps establish a hall somewhere, or is there some other vision you had in mind?"

"As for Varius..." muses Norran, a chuckle coming from him as he grins further, "He's still Varius Kahar, not Valoria? I'm not surprised he'd keep to something like that - I'd be quite grateful for him to resume his service."


The Prince stares at Norran for a moment as that point of observation falls into place. "Varius Valoria, sorry. Three decades of naming convention don't wash off easily, it seems." He smiles, sighs at himself, and then merely nods in affirmation in regards to both of Norran's questions. "I believe that the "Adventurer's Guild" will suffice. Whatever ever names it inherits along the way will serve as unofficial titles just as well, no doubt, but *officially* the simple name works well. It is what it is, after all."

"As for criteria," Serath continues, moving on, "The quality of the uniform can sometimes be as important as the quality of the Knight - especially when you're looking to maintain high standards. I would ensure that both are up to scratch, as well as paying heed to local House laws while affirming that the Duchy themselves are playing by the book."


"Oh, I thought he merely chose to keep the name. Suited him. But I had a fondness for it myself, even if I never was a Kahar. Either way, he's far better with words than I and knows the ceremony," Norran admits, giving the Prince a nod as he glances down toward the chest. "Very well. The Order will take its place, as will the Guild. Both will become not what I shape them to be, but mostly whome those I chose to serve shape them to be. The Count will make a fine addition - I actually heard Rowena was 'holding on' to his petition, perhaps I will need to speak with her personally again before I set him off."

"Duke Driscol has also expressed interest - he's a fine fellow, not nearly as seasoned as Varal but he's a good spirit. I'd think I should see to him as well. Those are all the candidates for the Order I can think of in the immediate sense, however, but it should be enough. I recently helped a boy into my House's Order, but I believe he has yet to prove himself. I learned from Godric not to jump to conclusions from admirable first-impressions. The Guild will likely be much more popular, but we'll see if Varal will take care of it."

"Well! Unless you've any further orders, Your Highness, I'm quite eager to try on this armor and see to my duties. There is, however, one last question I have for you... but don't feel any pressure to answer it if you don't wish to," begins Norran, his expression softening as he becomes slightly more cautious, arching a brow toward Serath as he continues, "You've handed Ailith the title of Warpriest, and me the title of Grandmaster. This is but a guess of mine, but I'm somewhat worried of the prospect - have you done this in entirely for the Kingdom's future, perhaps because you've grown tired of serving in so many myriad positions, or...is there some need for you to be replaced?"


"Where there was once an Emperor and a Council, there became but a Prince, a Steward, and a Royal Healer," Serath explains without hesitation. "In time, we established the Council of Six once again, which then became the Council of Four. For the last year or two, however, much of Fastheld's fate has rested in my hands. By choice, yes, but also by nescessity - for who else was there to take up the torch in my brother's wake?"

He sighs all the same, but smiles a sad smile regardless. "Now the fate of the Kingdom deserves to be placed back in the hands of others, and Fastheld needs to accept that I can't continue to be everything to everyone. Indeed, I would much rather *not* be everything to everyone, solving each and every problem and heading each and every branch of the Crown anymore. My position as Sovereign permits me to do much without the need for additional titles anyhow, so... far better to let others lead the way, and to nudge them in the right direction from time to time should they wander off track."

"In all," he concludes, "I'm attempting to distribute my power base to other people so that I might be able to find some time to my self again."


“It's a Prince with free time that worries me the most, Your Highness, as I can't say I've ever seen one. But! If anyone deserves it, I'm certain you do. I'll carry this burden for you gladly, even if it only alleviates you a slight amount," replies Norran, beaming a smile at Serath before he chuckles.

"Well, then, you have my thanks, Prince of the Blood. If you ever require my sword for any purpose, it is yours without question. Despite all that I've gone through and all that I've come to be, little has carried me further than your faith in me, Your Highness, and it will not be misplaced. Unless there's anything else you require of me," ventures Norran, his eyes turning toward the hall's exit. "I will proceed to drag this magnificent trunk outside and leave you to yourself with your permission."


“You should find that you have more connections now than you had as even Duke Lomasa," Serath notes as final words of wisdom, "Though I suspect it'll take you a few weeks to find your feet - which is perfectly acceptable, make no mistake. Until then, you have my permission to drag that magnificent trunk outside before going forth to cause mischief... or prevent mischief. Perhaps both."


"There's no fun at all in it being just one or the other. Light be with you, Your Highness," answers Norran with a wide grin and a final, deep bow to Serath. Thus dismissed, the Lomasa then looks to contemplate the chest. With a slight frown, he grabs one of handles and proceeds to try to drag the thing out of the hall - unlikely it would be to carry it since he's already carrying multiple swords and clad in half-plate - albeit as elegantly as he can. The elegant part doesn't go very well at all, but he moves to make a good pace.

"This is off to quite a promising start," murmurs the Lomasa as he makes his way out of the hall - title and treasure in tow.


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