On the first night of a three-night major Wildling event in Fastheld, trouble comes to the Bane's View tavern in Wedgecrest and finds Vhramis Skinner, the Castellan of Wedgecrest Falls...

Bane's View <River District>

Day or night, great pains are taken to illuminate nearly every nook and cranny within this establishment. Using lanterns, torches and the showcase arch-manteled fireplace in the north wall, the proprietors keep the shadows at bay.
Windows grant views of traffic on the main road through Wedgecrest, as well as the landmark granite hill called Night's Bane on the opposite shore of the Fastheld River.

Markus Kahar steps into Bane's View, fishing a cigar from his belt-pouch as he gestures Tor inside. "Come come, let's sit and eat. No use rushing off to Eastwatch on an empty stomach."

Porker continues to sip his drinks slowly, seeming disinterested with life in general. He sniffs, and eyes the Nobles' food-laden table hungrily. He meets any looks they send him with a defiant glare, and licks his lips.

Thayndor Zahir adjusts the fall of his cloak over the shield, quiver and longbow strapped to his back as he steps into the tavern shortly before Markus and Tor.

Celise Mikin seems to be without escort, unless someone makes assumptions about the Nillu and his guards who walked in at her back. But as not a second glance is thrown their way, an observer could probably cross that option off. The noble lady inclines her head towards Norran at his grin, but doesn't immediately gravitate towards any of the others. "I could use a fine ale to wash the dust from my mouth," Celise requests of the bartender, before even looking at any menu.

"I've only been a blade for a short time," speaks Norran to Joran with a nod, then looks to Soram. "East Leg is quiet, lately. Like here. Not much happens," he explains, then looks torward Vhramis with a quirked brow under his helm, "Did you ever consider joining the Blades, Master Skinner?"

Tor steps in along with Markus, armor scales clinking slightly with each steps he takes. He blinks a bit against the light of the place, and nods to Markus. "Indeed, one cannot preform well on an empty stomach."

A moment passes before a small entourage in tawny leather enter the tavern after Thayndor; on their armor is the raven-on-crossed-rapiers sigil of Darkwater Keep.

So many notable patrons. Vhramis looks to the door as people continue to pile in, obviously surprised at the patronage of the usually very quiet tavern. He shakes his head slightly to Norran's question, "Never quite thought of it, my Lord, no...please excuse me?" With a considering look to Celise, Vhramis stands from his chair, reaching to the wall to grab the halberd he had leaned against it, and makes his way over. "My Lady Mikin? I believed I recognized you." He bows formally as best he can in his armor. "Welcome to Wedgecrest...have you come to see the Contessa?"

Markus Kahar arches a brow at the mention of the Blades, his eyes flitting across the room to the speaker - only to re-focus on Norran. His interest piqued, he nods to Tor, "Order us some food. A moment, please." With this, the Duke crosses the room towards the Blades-inclined Lomasa.

One tittering noblewoman clucks to another shaking her head. "Did you hear? You won't imagine it you simply won't. That Nessa Kahar the recluse? Of course you haven't met her dear she never leaves her Keep. They say she's horribly disfigured you know. She's getting *married*! Can you believe it? To Thain Nillu - that Baron over in Nillu's Lode. I hear there's a mine changing hands over it. Don't ask me which way."

Soram Nillu nods as Norran speaks. "Indeed. This place strikes me as uneventful. Though in a good way." He sips his wine again and gives the rockwolf laying next to his chair a scratch behind the ears.

Tor nods briefly to Markus, moving toward the counter. "The Duke and I would like a bit of Roast Elk, and wine," he orders, half distracted as his eyes wander across the room. Settling against the bar he continues to look through the area with mild interest.

Porker squirms about uncomfortably, his excess weight drooping over the seat's edge, as he sees all the rich nobles and horribly beweaponed Blades entering the tavern for dinner. "I knew I shoulda come later..." *Sip*.

"I have not been a Blade long, either," Joran says, before begging to eat some of the stew. After he swallows, he looks over his shoulder towards the door, then back to Norran as he starts on eating another bit of the stew, content to only respond to statments or questions directed towards him.

"This tavern, tonight, is busy! And I hear this place is currently for sale. Interest should rise," idly chides Norran to his 'guests', smiling brightly to them all. At the approach of Markus, Norran rises from his seat to salute the man traditionally. "Eve, Sir," he greets respectfully, though brightly. He glances sidelong to Joran, "This would be the Second Blademaster himself, Guardian," whispers the Lomasa quickly.

Markus Kahar approaches Norran before clearing his throat, returning the gesture with his own - and a light smile. "... are you an approved recruiter for the Blades, Cavalryman? If no, you should be. Guardian, evening. Some rest and relaxation before returning to the wall, boys?"

Thayndor Zahir steps to the side as Markus arrives, inclining his head politely and offering, "Excellency," before his attention is diverted by Norran. "M'lord Norran ... indeed, it seems we've all wound up at this tavern tonight - how serendipitous." He gestures vaguely with a hand, and the six Deepers with him move to sit at the bar and order drinks.

The barkeep, a square-headed man with curly red hair and dangly jowls, is wiping the counter with a towel as the crowd continues to grow in the Bane's View tavern. He walks past the window that opens onto the vista of the granite dome of Night's Bane and the glittering snake of the Fastheld River. He tucks the towel into the back pocket of his trousers, then wanders over to a corner table that remains unoccupied. Next to this particular table is a trap door in the floor. The barkeep kneels with a grunt, grasps the handle of the trap door and pulls it open. He grabs a flickering candle off the table, then starts walking down the steps into the shadows of the underground storeroom.

"Now why, by the Light's Grace, would you not serve ale?" Celise questions the bartender rather sharply. "This is a tavern, is it not?" A bare hand gestures emphatically towards the entry way, even now admitting more hungry citizenry. Affecting dismay, and with the barkeep going on about his own business, Celise snatches up Vhramis' opportunity for distraction. "Indeed, though you have me at a disadvantage - I can't quite recall your name, merely your posting," she responds. "Is the Contessa indeed nearby then?"

Joran's eyes widden when Norran identifies the person standing at the table, and he rises quickly enough to cause his chair to scoot back and his shield to fall to the floor from it's position leaning on the chair, "Forgive me, my Lord. I...I did not recognize you." he says with as deep of a bow one can make in heavy armor."

Porker stands and approaches the bar again just as the bartender goes down to fetch things from the Storeroom. He swears and glances around the tavern, checking to see if anyone if looking, then decides he does not care. Leaning far over the bar, he fills his glasses himself from the last keg of ale, then throws an obviously too-small amount of Imperials onto the bartop and returns to his table.

Tor glances in Thayndor's direction as the man and his entourage place themselves near him. He bows his head slightly to the man. "Greetings, Count, I trust all is well in Darkwater?" He catches sight of the Bladesman over Thayndor's shoulder, smirking a little at his reaction to Markus' presence.

Soram Nillu tosses a scrap of meat to his wolf, who devours it eagerly. "Quite crowded tonight," he remarks to no one in particular. His eyes flicker across the patrons' faces, sipping from his goblet.

Sister Laeria enters the crowded tavern, helm tucked beneath her arm and garbed in the new issue-ordered regalia of the Church. It's refractive brass. Ominously different; A new change for a new age. The young white-blonde teen's booted steps, clipped and precise, are muddled in the din of the tavern.

Markus Kahar shakes his head, gesturing for the man to sit. "There's ten thousand men in the Blades and only one of me. Please, sit." Markus does this himself, sitting with a pleasured sigh as he tucks the tail of his tabbard beneath him. He looks to invite Tor, only to find him otherwise engaged with Thayndor, to whom Markus flashes a smile in greeting. With this, he returns to his Bladesmen: "When did you join the force, Guardian? I hope the good Lord Lomasa has been keeping good count of you?"

The flickering light of the barkeep's candle dances on the rough stone walls of the stairway leading down into the storeroom. As he gets to the bottom of the steps, he scratches his scruffy chin with his free hand and turns to look toward a pallet loaded with ale kegs. He grunts, starts making his way toward the pallet.

"My father was taken is the Second Wildling War, Sir," Norran explains to Markus, gesturing to a chair for the man to sit. "It's since been my dream to be a Knight of the Imperial Horsemen. I'm afraid my uncle's attempts didn't quite work so well, so I intend to prove myself to the Horsemaster traditionally." After this, Norran himself sits, looking about the crowded tavern with a gentle chuckle. To Rayk and Thayndor, he also invites to sit.

"Vhramis Skinner, my Lady," Vhramis introduces, bowing his head again. He glances to the window just opened briefly before looking back to Celise. "She is currently in residence at Wedgecrest Falls, but I believe she may have retired early for the evening. Though you are of course more than welcome as our guests for as long as you wish." Another entrance, and another look from the Castellan to the door. His mouth quirks as he sees Laeria, as if he's remembering some previous event, and he nods his head to her, though she most likely wouldn't see his motion out of the many in the crowded room.

Joran lowers himself back into the chair, and leans over to right his shield where it props up against it again, "Not long, my Lord." he says, "I have only completed my training a few months ago. This is the first time I've met Lord Lomasa."

Stepping into the Tavern, Orell Mikin looks around at the huge crowd gathered within with some surprise in his eyes. He inclines his head towards Markus, and Soram when he sees them and then heads over to join them, "Evening Duke Markus, Duke Soram, pleasure to meet you all indeed."

Thayndor Zahir nods to Tor. "Darkwater fares well, thank you, Lord Tor," he replies, walking to Norran's table. There's a rustle of his kit behind him as he moves to sit.

Quite right indeed. Laeria doesn't catch sight of the Castellan's wordless greeting, but she does pause in her steps to seek out the 'tender. Apparently not available. So, instead she bides her time by roaming her watery gaze across the surrounding sea of patrons. "Pardon." She murmurs to a dark-haired fellow as they bump elbows, him squeezing past and she in the way, sticking out like an aimless lamb.

Soram Nillu nods toward the Trademaster. "Duke Orell, well met this evening. How goes it?"

Porker's gaze catches on the armored Laeria as she enters the tavern, recognizing her as the target of his taunts at the crossroads yesterday. He rises and moves a bit farther back into the tavern, trying to keep a good distance from the scourge.

Celise Mikin accepts Vhramis' bow with a quirk of her head, "That is most kind, and an offer I am pleased to hear after the trip to Wedgecrest." She clasps her hands behind her back, lingering at the bar for lack of a better destination in the crowding room. Her eyes, sliding down the length of the proprietor's personal space to track the absent barkeep, note the peasant preparing himself a drink. Chin lifts slightly, and in a low voice, Celise asks of Vhramis - "Who among this crowd might be interested in a theft?"

Markus Kahar smiles to Oren, before glances towards his compatriots, "Good Orell, you know Sirs Norran Lomasa and Joran Nillu, I hope? Joran is a new Guardian in the Blades." Markus nods towards Norran, "... I understand. Your father was a hero of the highest calibre. Have *patience*. Of all people, I know how... trying... the Horsemaster can be. He is a soldier without equal, but he thinks like one too. You will be rejected a thousand times before accepted even once."

Soram's rockwolf, having eaten the scrap given to him, lays his head back down contentedly.

The barkeep is about three feet from the keg pallet when something springs through the shadows left by the dissipation of his passing candlelight. As the barkeep is knocked off his feet, the candle arcs through the air and bounces along the wooden floor. It comes to a stop near a polished oak baseboard. The barkeep falls back into the pale circle of light, an angry grimace on his face as he shouts, "Off me, brigand!" And then something goes SNIKT-k-CHUNK! His eyes go flat and empty. A crimson pool expands toward the guttering candle, extinguishing the flame.

"A theft, my Lady?" Vhramis asks with an eyebrow raising. He pauses as he considers the question, before shrugging and saying quietly as well, "It would depend where it occured. I would listen to what occured if you wished, perhaps then I could advise you better." He tilts his head slightly, his eyes narrowing as he hears something, and he spins about to look to the open trap door. "Excuse me..." he mutters in a brief apology, pushing through the crowd as politely as possible to approach the source.

At Markus's words, Norran Lomasa laughs jovially, grinning to him. "I hear he's not a very approachable fellow, unless you're a woman. I sadly lack that trait," he muses aloud, "But to him, actions speak better than words, and so I will do them. You've no doubt heard of the 'maiming' of a Shadowbane I committed in rumors, have you not?" asks Norran, but really to Markus so much as the table, meanwhile inviting Tor to sit. "Such is true, but it was to Jorah Weald. She was one of those tainted who fell trying to kill other Shadowbanes. This has relieved me a great deal. I was not the one who fell her, but I did fall her temporarily with my blade some weeks before and brought her to the keep. I've decided after this, I will not intervene with Church business any longer."

Orell Mikin inclines his head towards Soram and acknowledges the Blades being introduced with a nod, "Well met indeed... What under the light..." His voice cuts off suddenly as he hears the shout of brigand, he starts towards the source behind Vhramis.

"Joran Storm, my Lord." Joran corrects Markus, before tilting his head, as if listening for something. A second later, he quickly reaches down, and straps his shield into his left arm, and stands, his right hand gripping his sword hilt, "Did you hear that, my Lords?" he asks.

Thayndor Zahir frowns halfway through sitting at Norran's table, his left hand on the table's edge. "Did you hear that?" His eyes follow Vhramis to the trapdoor as the young Noble straightens, his hand on the hilt of a longsword in his scabbard.

Soram Nillu sets his goblet down, leaning back slightly in his chair. "Hmm?" He raises an eyebrow at Joran, then at Thayndor. "I didn't hear anything."

"Hear what?" asks Norran, his hand instinctively reaching for his shield as he peers to Thayndor. "What did you hear?"

Porker looks up with confusion as he sees some of the others look around in confusion, and others stand and approach the trap door. "Greaat, now i'll neva' get anotherr drink..." He already sounds quite drunk anyway, and simply leans back to watch the others ready their weapons and investigate whatever happened. Perhaps there will be a fight- that could make up for any lost drink.

Laeria too casts a look towards where the source of the perceived muffled shout came from. Brigands, did he say? Her hybrid greenblue eyes search the patrons to see if anyone else heard the noise. Validation comes in the form of Vhramis walking to where her gaze had been a moment before. Orell too. She pushes past a couple with a uttered excuse and joins alongside the Castellan. "Do you suppose there an attack? I am to assume I am not alone in hearing the shout..."

Markus Kahar chuckles lightly towards Norran, "Indeed, he's known for being quite the char*... what was that?" Markus' eyes peer towards the door, before looking towards Thayndor: "I did. It sounded like something fell. Below." The Duke taps his foot on the floorboards.

Ester Shardwood enters the tavern and yawns cover her mouth with her hand. As she glances around the interior she arches her back in a stretch.

Tor has made his way to Norran's table when a few of the others begin to speak of the noise. "I heard nothing," Tor interjects, "But I suppose I might have been distracted." He looks the way of the trap door, a hand falling lightly to the hilt of his sword, but doing nothing more.

The trap door is open in the northeast corner of the tavern, with stone steps leading down into the underground storeroom.

"Of course," Celise excuses, as Vhramis offers an open ear and then promptly departs for an entirely uninteresting trap door in the floor. The ladylike response is followed quickly by a look of dismay at being ignored, and she takes it upon herself to step down the bar and count the Imperials the peasant set down there as payment. She tries to look for Porker, but the crowds are making it a bit of an exercise.

"I hear the Horsemaster's a /little/ miffed at the First Horselord." States one Knight of the Imperial Horseman to his beautiful fiancee. "Apparently the Horselord decided to recuit someone of his own family by asking the *Emperor* instead of the Horsemaster. Went right behind the Horsemaster's back. The Prince had little option but to go against tradition and give the Noble a try. That didn't make him very happy. Not very happy at all." He grins.

Slowing as he reaches his destination of the open trap door, Vhramis glances about him to those who apparently also heard the noise and went to investigate. "Unsure what it was..." he says quickly in response to Laeria's question. Lowering the head of his halberd to the open hole, he taps raps it against the floor. "Finn?" he calls, hoping to get some response from the barkeep. "Finn! What's going on down there?"

Rayk Nillu sits in the back of tavern quietly now, three armed men also sitting at his table. He doesn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary.

Thayndor Zahir exchanges looks with Markus, his hand tightening on his sword hilt as he takes a step towards the trapdoor.

Stepping forward beside Vhramis to look within the trap door, Orell frowns, "Brigands /in/ the cellar? That sounds strange." but he grips the hilt of his longsword.

Markus Kahar glances towards Vhramis and stands, pushing his chair in with measured patience. The 2nd Blademaster apparently does his best to be a gentleman, even in unusual situations. He glances towards Tor, "Come, kith", and approaches Vhramis: "Everything alright?"

The Horseman Norran Lomasa rises to his seat to accompany Laeria and Vhramis, grabbing his helm and donning it as he walks with them. He leaves his cloak and haversack behind, though he keeps his shield slung over a shoulder as he approaches. "What exactly's going on, Master Skinner?" asks Norran of Vhramis, nodding politely in familiarity to Laeria.

No response comes from the barkeep below. The shadows malinger and harbor their secrets without a sound.

Joran, already standing, follows Norran and Markus, standing near them looking much like some sort of guard. His hand remains on his sword hilt, ready to draw at a second's notice.

Soram Nillu looks toward those making their way towards the trapdoor. He stands slowly, hand place on the hilt of his sword. He clicks his tongue, signalling his rockwolf to stand.

Tor nods to Markus. "As you wish," he mutters, the elk he wished for earlier forgotten. He moves along with Markus, hand still resting lightly on the pommel of his blade, though more a casual pose than anything else.

Porker stands on wobbling legs and takes a few steps forward, squinting and trying to look over the shoulders of those gathered near the door from a safe distance. He hand grasps something in his pocket for a second, then strays back to his bottle. A grin spreads over his face as he takes another swig, watching the tension mount.

Ardrek places his hand on his sword hilt and makes his way through the crowd towards the trap door.

Ester Shardwood steps off to the side of the entrance. She pulls the quiver off of her back and starts loosening her cloak with one hand. She looks over at the people investigating the trap door, her interest piqued. She raises her eyebrow in question until distracted by a bearded man dressed in hunter's garb who enter the tavern and taps her on the shoulder. She glances at him, "Oy Oldman, the horses okay?" He nods once his interest is grabbed as well by the goings on by the trapdoor.

Laeria is beyond formalities at the current moment, simply glancing to the herding nobles in both acknowledgment and scrutiny. Perhaps gauging their ability to help. She then focuses on Vhramis again. "Would you care to go first? I can cover your flank, should the need arise." At the same moment, the young paladin flicks free her silvery and obsidian katars, twirling them deftly about in the palm of her hands so the tips point down at the floor.

Furrowing his brows, Orell steps a little away from the trapdoor and looks around for one of the lamps, "Let's get some torches, we're not going to be able to see much in this darkness down there."

"I heard Finn, the barkeep here, shout after he descended," Vhramis explains for those gathered by him. He narrows his eyes as he futilely attemps to stare down into the darkness. "Something about brigands. We should check..." he mutters, looking about and nodding to Laeria's suggestion before hesitantly putting a foot on the top of the stairs. "There should be some torches or a lantern down there, your Grace. Wouldn't be Finn if he didn't plan for these things." Clearing his throat, he calls down into the cellar, "Right! Best drop any weapons you have. You're outnumbered badly." Bluster at it's best.

Rayk Nillu hmms curiously as he notes multiple people over by the bar, watching the events unfold with interest. He leans forward and murmurs to one of the men, who stands and walks to the back of the group, trying to discern what is going on.

Markus Kahar glances at the myriad weapons drawn and follows suit, unlatching Shimmer from his scabbard and nodding towards Vhramis, "You or I first, boyee, but there's no use waiting about. Care to lead?"

Soram Nillu quietly draws his obsidian longsword, which makes a smooth, silver hiss as it leaves its sheath. "Stay," he mutters to his rockwolf, who obeys. The Spymaster takes a few steps toward the crowd by the trapdoor.

"I'm afraid the stairs don't look like they're suitable for supporting the arrival of four armored footmen at once, Your Grace," idly comments Norran to Orell with a faint, weak chuckle. At Vhramis's plan, Norran seems to think it well as he draws his sabre from his scabbard, tapping it a fair distance from the trap door. "That's right! You won't survive!" he calls back, though almost looks to the point of breaking out into laughter as he does, gripping his sabre tightly none-the-less. Figuring it a good idea, Norran grabs a nearby goblet of wine and tries to throw it into the trap door opening.

The shadows of the storeroom seem broken only by the thin light afforded down the chute of the stone stairwell. But several tables in the tavern are equipped with flickering candles.

Thayndor Zahir glances over his shoulder at the Deepers at the bar. They mutter and slide their beer an inch or two away from their hands, then just wait as the entrance to the trapdoor gets crowded. Thayndor turns his gaze to Vhramis as he steps forward, snagging a candle in its holder in his left hand as he approaches. "Well, Castellan? Are we, or aren't we?" His longsword slides clear of its scabbard as he moves to shoulder up next to the man, trading looks with Markus and he both. "I'll go first. Hold this." He offers the light to Norran, adjusting his grip on the longsword with a gloved hand.

Orell Mikin takes hold of a couple of candles from the adjoining tables, reaching down to hand one to the Castellan, before gripping his own in one hand and his longsword in the other, he peers down to check how far is the drop if the ladder gives away.

Joran follows suit with everyone else, and slides his longsword from his scabbard, holding it ready for use. "It would be best, my lords, for the Blades to descend first." he says, moving closer to the trap door.

Markus Kahar glances quickly towards Vhramis once more, "You seem familiar with this place - are there any other entrances... exits? Another way to get in - downstairs?"

Tor loosens his own blade in its scabbard, planning to follow whatever move Markus makes. After a moments hesitation, he steps slightly to the side, and draws his blade fully. The steel glints slightly in the light of the room, though certainly won't once it is brought into darkness.

Celise Mikin turns an almost wistful look towards the group of nobles determined to act the rescuers over by the trap door, but censors her own actions and doesn't follow through on any implications of that expression. "Still posturing," she voices under her breath, the words riding on a sigh of breath. Instead, her seeking eyes pick out Porker and his ale, and she heads towards the peasant with chin lifted.

"Bunch of brave warriors you all are!" Porker shouts sarcastically from a few meters behind the bunched up group. He is about to suggest hurling some candles down and simply burning them out, then figures that would cause far too bloodless a situation, and keeps his mouth shut. His hand strays once more to his pocket, his sickly smile widening as the they prepare to go down. He takes a few more steps forward and looks into the hole, waiting for a thrown dagger or, perhaps, and arrow to issue out and take one of the guards in their throats. That would be fine, yes.

Laeria's faintly freckled visage twitches in the briefest of bemused expressions at the bravado display by some of the men. Nobles among them, even. All this testosterone and eagerness. "Please, do not crowd. We need space between us if we are to bare arms - unless friendly casualty is little for what you care for." This is an admonishment sent to the huddle of people before nodding to Vhramis. "I will follow at your ready." She crept the stairs at the Castellan's lead.

Nodding his head to Markus, Vhramis lowers the halberd into a suitable position to advance with, "Allow me, my Lords. No use risking yourselves to some lucky swipe from a brigand," he mutters. He glances at the offered candle and shakes his head, unable to carry it at the moment. "I wasn't aware, your Grace," he responds to Markus, "Though I haven't been in the cellar that much, Finn never told me of any other entrances." He frowns before he descends the stairs fully.

The Nillu guard walks back over to where Rayk sits, muttering a few words with the noble. He smiles slightly, shruging and says outloud, "Why not join in the fun?" At this point, he draws his own sword, Wildfang, and stands up, glancing over to where the armed and armored persons stand.

"What's going on?" the bearded hunter asks Ester. She shakes her head and says slowly, eyes now on the drawn weapons, "I don't know..." Slowly she loosens the tie on the cap of her quiver and gives Oldman a slient nod and a gesture to his own. She pulls out an unstrung short bow. With deft movement she steps on one end, heaves the other down and strings it so it's taut. The bearded man nods, turns quickly on his heal and heads back out the door. Ester slings the quiver back over her shoulder, cap open, arrows at the ready. She turns a little and looks out the window, eyes studying the darkness.

Markus Kahar nods. "Well and fit then. Let us descend then, lest my sword rust."

Tor remains standing to the side of the cluster slightly, shield still slung over his back. He holds his blade loosely, though in a position ready should it be needed. His eyes watch as Vhramis descends.

As Vhramis gets closer to the bottom of the stairs, two clawed hands covered in mottled green flesh lash out of the shadows at his chest, snatching for the velvet House Mikin tabard and trying to get a firm grip on Vhramis so as to yank him into the shadows to a bloody fate.

"My Lady," Norran suddenly requests, looking to Celise. "I don't wish to trouble you, but I'd rather not risk it while I'm here. Could you take my haversack for me?"

Orell Mikin holds the candle in his offhand while he holds it in the position to afford the castellan as much light as possible.

Sophia Mikin stays in the back holding her healers kit watching with concern. After all Vhramis is her trusty Castellan.

Markus Kahar pauses for a moment, before bellowing downwards into the depths of the cellar: "Is everything fine down there, boye?"... "Drunken barman most likely slipped," he murmers.

Celise Mikin rustles her way past the cluster of bustling and plotting nobility, her eyes intent on the hulking Porker drinking in front of her. But while seeking out something to accomplish, she isn't completely ignoring said nobles, and she pauses a stride past Norran. "Of course, sir," Celise responds, reaching an arm out towards the Lomassa to take the haversack. "Brigands don't need that extra target," she offers, a light curl to her lips.

Joran still stands beside Markus, his sword held ready to strike at anything that might come up that's not Vhramis or the Barkeep.

Sophia Mikin looks about the room with a great deal concern and seeing someone in particular, she avoids eye contact at once.

"It's at the table," casually answers Norran Lomasa to Celise, smiling gently as he points to the haversack by his former table. "Much thanks, M'lady."

Rayk Nillu casually walks over from his table, sword tip resting on his shoulder as he strolls over to the group. He peeks over a few of the men, but gives up trying to see over them, and waits patiently for news.

The stairs creaking under the weight of Vhramis' armored form, he Castellan descends the stairs further, moving his halberd head from one side to the other in an attempt to cover all potential unseen threats. He is so focused on the darkness ahead of him, that he is quite unprepared for then the claws reach from the /sides/ of the stairs, digging into his tabard and tearing it nearly. His eyes widen as he starts to be yanked. "Dog shi!" he shouts before being flung into the darkness.

On such a still evening, the only sound that a new individual has arrived into the tavern is the creaking of the door. A figure in black leather stops there for a moment, taking a moment to guardingly adjust his baldric to a more perfect location of rest as he notices a certain person in his look around the room. With a frown, Varal mutters something under his breath and takes a few, tentative steps into the establishment. Clearing his throat, and hearing some shouting, "What is going on here?" he questions to anyone willing to answer.

Porker crosses his arms, impatiant with the lack of action. He begins to tap his foot impatiantly, then shoves though the crowd for a better look down. "Bah, someone jus' go down an' kill the bloody- " He suddenly hears the shout from below, and his mood brightens just as suddenly. He directs his next call down into the black depths. "Very good, Mr. Brigands! But theres still qui' a few more up here, so dunt get too cockay!"

Ester Shardwood the bearded hunter returns carrying a crossbow in one hand. He glances at Ester and then at the group by the trapdoor and raises and eyebrow at her. She shakes her head and shrugs, "Dunno, stay back. Keep and eye out here. There's enough of them there to..." She is interrupted by the sound of the shout and tenses.

"What /is/ that!" Orell turns around and looks at Markus, "I saw green hands and claws!" His knuckles turn white around his grip on the Longsword.

Markus Kahar's eyes narrow in alarm at the Castellan's cry; he immediately raises his sword at the ready. "Well done, Vhramis!," the 2nd Blademaster mutter-spits, before clenching the cigar between his teeth, "... looks like we have to do everything ourselves." Markus begins to descend the stairs before a familiar click-clatter reveals a pair of clawed hands. The 2nd Blademaster nearly drops his cigar: "Oxballs," and without further adieu, "... Tor. Guardsmen. *LINGSIGHTING*."

Sophia Mikin winces not liking this at all. Her blue eyes lock toward the group and a gasp of horror emits from her lips with the disapearence of her trust Castellan.

Having walked into the tavern a couple of minutes ago, Gavin is looking to get a couple of drinks and sees several people milling around, several of those with drawn weapons. This piques his curiosity but not enough to go barging into the group so he instead wanders over and stands by the end of the bar nearest the door...

Thayndor Zahir's eyes widen. "Claws," he whispers. "Green claws ... I've seen those claws before." He grips his longsword more tightly and hisses, "Wildlings!" The young Zahir's unencumbered right hand - being left handed - touches his side as his face pales, as if at some old memory.

"Wildlings?" Joran says, hand tightning on his sword hilt, "What are Wildlings doing this far inside the Aegis?" His voice is remarkably calm, given the situation, however his face betrays his nervousness.

"Shadowspawn!" cries Norran Lomasa at the sight of the claws, having encountered such beasts in force as he looks over to Markus. "Sir! The towers didn't sound at a breach of the wall!" he points out, apparently feeling this to be an important detail as he slings his shield off his shoulder onto his right arm.

At sight of the claws, Porker stumbled back and fumbles around in his pocket. "They've either got a damn bear or some shadow-cursed horseshits been let out in there!

"Ah, I see sir," Celise corrects after Norran's explanation, with a polite dip of skirts, turning around just when the rest of the nobles are responding to the Castellan's cry. Her back is to the sight, but her ears are still open to the shouts from those watching. Markus and Thayndor's in particular being quite enlightening. The Mikin lady tenses, seeming to shorten slightly as legs crouch under the mask of her skirts, but she forces herself to step away from the trap door and towards the haversack as if nothing was out of the ordinary. But she can't stop herself from responding to Joran with: "Isn't that what you should be telling us?"

Ardrek frowns as he tightens the grip on his sword, and moves closer to the trapdoor.

Porker manages to draw a long, black knife from his pocket as he stumbles backward from the door. He grips it before him in his two chubby hands, point forward. He wipes some sweat from his forehead and waits.

The rough handling of the creatures in the shadows sends Vhramis hurtling through the darkness, banging against the pallet stacked with ale kegs, loosing a couple of them to bounce and thunk around on the floor. His halberd goes twirling off into the shadows, and then Vhramis, rebounding off the kegs, falls on his back next to the corpse of the barkeep. His bald head comes down in a sticky puddle of something that does nothing to soften the impact of his landing. He's out cold.

Soram Nillu furrows his brow, gripping the hilt of his sword tightly. Armor plates clink together as he takes a step toward the door. "Light save," he says under his breath.

"Vhramis!" Sophia yells out clearly distressed as she pushes her way towards the group. "Great Light someone do something!" The petite Contessa demands in her soft sounding to voice.

Laeria readjusts the grip on the barred hilts of her katars, curling and unfurling her fingers. Her focused gaze watches the liquid darkness that the Castellan descends into, and then being gone in the next second. Literally flung. What exactly was it? Wildlings come some shouts from behind her. Shadow-filth! No time to twiddle thumbs and postulate. She spearheads forward, blades extended in a defensive draw before her chest, each step carefully taken.

Porker hears the word 'wildlings' uttered from various people in the crown. "Well... how 'bout that." He grips the knife harder as takes a few steps back before gathering is courage and alcohol together into one big manly ball of persuasion and taking a few timid steps back to the track door, eyes narrowing.

Markus Kahar growls distinctly, cigar rolling from one corner of his mouth to the other. "Miserable day not to wear armor! There *MUST BE* another entrance to the tavern here; else the Wildlings could not have gotten in. Two armed men need to flank the tavern, or try and find another entrance! You and you!" the 2nd Blademaster points Joran and Porker, "... *FIND* an exit! You others, sortie yourselves in a circle - lanterns high - and with me... go... down!"

"No one?" Varal says softly as he looks around, but apparently the focus of the crowd is elsewhere. Then, after some screaming, shouting, and general declarations of Shadowspawn, the Lord Captain's face turns grim. He stops for a moment. "Make way for the Captain," he orders as he begins to press his way towards the site of the commotion. "Contessa? Contessa?!" he shouts towards Sophia, attempting to gain her attention, at least for now.

Tor raises an eyebrow as the situation changes slightly from brigands to Wildings. He curses quietly under his breath, quickly taking his shield in hand and hefting his longsword. With his preperations made, the Lord Marshal seems ready to descend.

Ester Shardwood strains to hear whats being said as the commotion starts. "Did they say Wildlings? " she gasps. She doesn't wait for and the from the other hunter, "Oldman watch the door, " she orders as she strides towards the groups at the trapdoor.

Next after Laeria is the young Count of Darkwater, nodding at Markus' orders. The candle he had offered to Norran a moment before is held up, pale flickering light a weak defense against the darkness as he becomes a point on the circle to Markus' left, his longsword held up at the ready as he joins in the descent to darkness.

Porker glances uncertainly at Joran at they receive their orders, seeming rooted to the spot. "You! Joran's ya'r name?! What're we... gonna do?!

Rayk Nillu hmmms as he hears the commotion, eyes widening slightly at the sound of Wildlings. He grips the hilt of Wildfang tighter, hoping the blade can save him and the other people of Fastheld gathered here from it's namesake. He brings up the rear of this circle.

Orell Mikin holds his station by the side of the trapdoor, holding aloft the candle to afford those descending some light.

As Markus and the Bladesmen prepare to make their descent down the narrow stairway, a raspy voice hisses up from the shadows. "Come no closer. We kill the one." In the darkness, three sharpened claws press into the flesh just above Vhramis' eyebrows, prepared to burst into his skull with little or no warning as he slowly regains consciousness.

Sophia Mikin hears Contessa being shouted and looking towards Varal she gives the Captain a cold, hard look before returning her gaze towards the area Vhramis was dragged in. Sophia knows she can't help in the fighting so she hangs back ready to heal.

Gavin is startled by the shouts and a few muffled thumps and then the cries of wildlings... he takes a step back from the bar.. backing towards the door slowly as he sees a rather imposing figure walk towards the group of people calling out for someone and carrying two large swords in a menacing manner.

Joran grimaces once as he's set to flanking the Tavern, despite his earlier nervousness, he still wants to be down in the basement, fighting. His grimace is repeated when he looks towards Porker, "I hope you can use that thing. Follow me, we will search outside of the Tavern for another entrance, as the Second Blademaster said." he glances towards Markus, "They may have burrowed, my Lord." he says, heading for the door to leave the tavern, gripping his sword tight in case the Wildlings decide to attack through the entrance to the Tavern as well.

"It's a dirt cellar, Sir, they likely did burrow, as the Guardian suggested," Norran agrees to Joran, looking to Markus before his eyes widen as the voice raises from the door. "They...speak?" he asks in disbelief, as he gazes to the door. "We cannot attack from here, Sir. Not with this choke point. There's no telling how many are down there."

Conciousness hits him as abruptly as it was taken away. Vhramis moans loudly, eyes slowly creeping open as he looks about groggily, quite confused. He freezes, noticing something horribly wrong about...something. Then he remembers. He stiffens ever so slightly as he becomes more aware of the claws pressing against his head. "Light..." he rasps, his voice barely audible.

Ardrek moves into the circle a bit behind and to the right of Markus, as he peers carefully into the darkness of the cellar.

Gavin sees the large man with a knife turn and blot from the tavern and gets the idea to go with him, but then looks to the one named Joran and says, "Come on then lad, he's gone as yesterday is.. let's be about it then."

Soram Nillu steps so that he is closer to the cellar. He peers in, as if trying to distinguish anything in the dark.

Markus Kahar's eye twitches spastically - the Wildlings speak? Markus does his best to supress the shock in his voice, "... give us proof that he still lives, first. Understand that there is *no* way you can escape. You are totally surrounded, Shadowspawn." Markus' voice grumbles, in hopes that confidence can mask a lie. "WHAT are you after!"

"They speak," Thayndor whispers, face pale and breathing shallow. Sweat forms on his forehead. "They speak three words - they always speak three words." His leather-clad bootsteps halt on the stone steps as the claws make furrows on Vhramis' flesh. "You'll hear them before they leave." He swallows and adjusts his grip on the longsword, hefting it higher.

Orell Mikin narrows his eyes as he peers down, hearing the speech of the Wildlings, "The cursed things can speak? I have heard of rumors of that, but to think it is true...." He nods towards the Second Blademaster, deferring to his experience with the Wildlings.

Gavin turns and heads to the door feeling a bit worried for whoever went down the stairs and even more so for his own self as he mutters, "Light keep an' guide..."

"Speak," hisses the Wildling that has its claws pressed against Vhramis' forehead.

Tor tenses slightly at the words that rasp from beneath. All he has heard of Wildlings have portrayed them as mindless beasts, and this new twist seems to have surpised the man a bit. He glances in confusion toward Markus, frowning slightly but holding his tongue.

"Do not move, Vhramis." Sister Laeria sharply admonishes the rousing Castellan while drawing to a halt where she is on the steps. The twist of loathing disgust wrinkling her fair features transforms it into something altogether unrecognizable. "They do speak indeed." The Daughter of the Light bitterly confesses, not surprised by this. Church knowledge most likely. "If you kill him, Light willing, I will not allow you to leave."

Not being very inclined to resist, Vhramis begins to attempt to talk, words jumbling together on his tounge as his panic begins to grow. He focuses on the last thing he heard, the Shadowscourges voice. "Laeeriaa," he slurs, still groggy from the blow to the head.

Varal Mikin pales slightly as a withering glare is sent his way, but quickly recovers. Frowning, he continues to push his way towards Markus and Orell, about to make an angry declaration until he recognizes the pair of men and realizes this situation is most certainly not under his control. Frowning, he idly spins his knife, smart enough to know that doing the same with his sword under such crowded conditions could cause the unpleasant to occur. Clearing his throat, he addresses Orell. "Duke Mikin, what is happening?"

Long fingers rest on the haversack of Bladesman Norran Lomassa, and Celise shifts her balance from foot to foot as she listens in on the discussions of the nobility surrounding the trap door. "Choke point indeed," the Mikin lady mulls quietly, not needing any attention to actually watch the haversack. "On both sides. Should toss a flame down there and be done with it." Celise bites back her words as soon as they're said, having spoken to Vhramis mere minutes earlier.

Ester Shardwood pulls an arrow out of her quiver as she walks, setting it at the ready, holding it loosely ready to be cocked in and instant. She steps up to Orell's side. "Lord Mikin," she says quietly making him aware of her presence and listens for an answer to Varal's question of him.

Norran Lomasa holds steady in his position by Markus, his sabre wielded firmly in his nimble, iron-gauntleted left hand while his right arm holds his shield at ready. "He lives," confirms Norran as Vhramis's voice reaches the tavern from the door, his eyes narrowing as he stares at the trap door. "What is it you wish, that you have not killed him already?"

Markus Kahar shakes his head, steel returned, his voice focused: "Indeed - why are you here? Why have you taken our man by the throat?"

"Where is she?" another Wildling hisses from the shadows of the underground storeroom. More voices, as many as a dozen, can be heard in a rasping chorus from all over the subterranean chamber: "Where is she?"

Orell Mikin tilts his head towards Varal, "The Barkeep screamed something from below the trapdoor as I walked in and then the Castellan went down to investigate, and there turns out to be Wildlings in there and they are... " he coughs slightly in distaste, "talking to us and holding Vhramis hostage." and he nods at Ester in acknowledgement.

Fael Mikin steps into the tavern, a concerned expression on his face. Seeing a group of people standing around, apparently observing something happening on the floor, he begins to move towards them, nearly stumbling over Gavin in the process. He waves the man away and proceeds to carefully pick his way between the tables towards the group.

Sophia Mikin pushes her way towards Orell looking desperately about with fear in her eyes. "What can I do Uncle, I have my healer's kit?" Sophia isn't a fighter but her healing skills aren't too shabby.

The bearded hunter lets Joran and Gavin pass, commenting to them, "I'll watch from here. He stands crossbow at the ready peering out the door.

"/Who/ is *she*?" Thayndor replies, holding the candle higher as if in hopes of casting its dim pool of light deeper into the basement. "They asked me that question before I found claws in my side," he whispers to those about him. "Be ready."

Markus Kahar wets his lips, his brow knit. "You mean... She? The She that you seek? We..." Markus glances towards his compatriots, "... we know *exactly* where She is. But you will not milk secrets from us with the blood of our kin. Killing the two will only seal our lips. Show yourselves to be... ... ... reasonable."

Varal Mikin nods for a second, taking stock of the situation. "While I rather like Castellan Skinner, there is absolutely no reason to deal with the Shadow. If he is in their hands, then only the Light can protect him now." He pauses a moment, looking at the trap door. "With the Duke's leave, Y'Grace, I will rid Wedgecrest of this problem." He does his best to studiously ignore Sophia, though her presence makes him obviously nervous.

Tor watches and listens, confusion still written on his face. At the further words of the Wildlings, he shakes his head. Tightening his grip on his blade, he glances again to Markus, nodding slightly at the words of the man.

A pair of large, glittering eyes reflect the light from Thayndor's candle and a fanged mouth speaks in response to Markus: "Show us. Be true. We spare the one." The Wildling crouched by Vhramis is joined by a second, then a third. The creatures kneel over him, hot breath huffing from their mottled green faces.

Orell Mikin tilts his head towards Varal, "Hold up, the Second Blademaster has control of the situation, do not move until he speaks."

The Spymaster looks toward Markus. Although he does not say anything, he raises a brow incredulously.

Norran Lomasa's eyes widen at Markus's words, shaking his head slowly at the direction he has taken. Unable to speak further on the matter, which would only worsen the situation, he stays silent and still.

Sophia Mikin glares up at Varal. "Unlike you Captain, the Castellan is loyal." She hisses at Varal then glances to Orell. "Tell me what you need of me Uncle and I shall do it. I don't want anyone to be lost to these evil creatures.

"Sheee..." Vhramis echos, still trying to pull himself out of his confusion and stupor. That was one nasty blow to the head. His eyes widen as he suddenly finds himself face to face with...Wildlings? "Wha...?" Ah yes...the claws. That explains it.

The eerie symphony of hisses causes the young Sister to flinch variably around the narrowed eyebrows, steeling herself doubly so. Her pooled gaze scours the darkness, caution highlighted as more come to the fore to crowd around Vhramis. "Show you where she is? You wish to know where she is? Use your tongue to speak more of who she is and we shall see."

Ester Shardwood breathes deeply and lets the air out slowly from her mouth. She tenses as she eyes the trapdoor.

Markus Kahar growls lightly. The creatures apparently having knowledge of Marketspeak, the Duke changes tact. His eyes flit towards Varal, then Tor; in Vozhd, he retortes: "This is a trap; we'll be nailed like boards to a wall in the tunnels. Take Varal - he's sword-ready - and join the Guardian outside. If there's another exit, get in and take them from behind. We'll try and stall them - and if we can - cajole them to release Vhramis and the barman." Markus Kahar then glances to Orell, and in Marketpseak, offers up: "We have one here who knows where She is - but we cannot trust so ancient an enemy. Release the barman, so that we may know your honour."

Orell Mikin places his hand on Sophia's shoulder, urging her to stay away from the Trapdoor, "This be not the time for this, keep safe first. I suspect we will need your skills later, Contessa."

Fael Mikin moves quickly towards the most familiar group of people, namely Orell, Sophia, and Varal. He pulls up hesitantly as Sophia hisses at Varal, then places a restraining hand on her shoulder. Glancing between Varal and Orell he queries, "Whats going on?" He looks towards the centre of the group and the trapdoor.

"If the barman was alive, Sir, they would have taken him instead of Master Skinner," Norran tells Markus logically, though quiets up immediately afterward.

The Wildling speaking from the shadows at the bottom of the stairs tilts its domed, long-lobed head, black eyes glittering malevolently and fangs clicking as it looks from Markus to the Sister. The dark gaze returns to the Duke of Vozhdya. "Walldweller lies." It turns, chittering something angrily in the alien tongue of the Wildlings. The Wildlings crouched next to Vhramis grab him by the arms and start dragging him through the shadows.

Tor listens to Markus, nodding at his Duke's words. He then points to Varal, his gaunleted hand then gesturing for the man to follow him. With this, he strikes out quickly toward the doorway.

Varal Mikin's eyes narrow. He speaks angrily, but keeps his tone soft as he doesn't follow Tor. "With all do respect, Blademaster, I am not leaving here. It is my duty to keep the Ducal Family of Light's Reach and Wedgecrest alive with my life if needed, so I will not leave the Duke's side not matter what others have to say about my loyalty. Moreover, I am not going to leave a Castellan in my service out of my sight while there are Wildlings. Find another in my place."

Hidden desire gets the better of Celise, and she picks up the haversack, settling it to a reasonably well-balanced position at her back and steping back towards the open trap door to try and get a view to go along with the words she overhears. "That's quite a chance they're taking," she observes, unsettled. A sharp eye tries to peer through the crowds, and her voice grows harsh. "Bargaining with the Shadow..."

Realizing a bit more what's happening, more specifically that he's being dragged, Vhramis opens his mouth to attempt to say something again, his eyes on Laeria in her armor. The dim light seems to catch on it, causing it to glint dully in the darkness. "Sister...?" he blurts, alarm clear in his voice as he's dragged helplessly off into the darkness.

"If you don't do what you are told your Castellan will go out of sight forever," Thayndor snaps to Varal. As the Wildlings retreat, he takes another step downward, passing a little below Markus.

"I insist Uncle you order Captain Varal to assist in the rescue of Wedgecrest Fall's Castellan." Sophia states calmly to Orell. "This man has proven his service and loyalty to me." Her eyes flicker to Fael. "Isn't this so Fael?"

"Wait!" calls Norran Lomasa to the trap door, eyes narrowing as he takes a slight step forward, but still not near the trap door. "You speak of a She, yet you grant us no name. What would we know this 'She' as? Taking the man with you will serve no purpose. You refuse to listen to us, why take him?"

"My Lord," Joren says, stepping back inside the Tavern, "I have searched and was unable to locate any entrance near the Tavern. Furthermore, I have warned anyone I saw away from the Tavern. His eyes dance around the Tavern, looking to see if the 2nd Blademaster is even still on the surface, and has not descended into the cellar.

Gavin steps back into the tavern following Joran, still holding the aged hunting bow at his side, retrieved from the packs on his horse. He steps back over to where he stood at the bar before as Joran speaks.

Markus Kahar stares pointedly at Varal, biting his tongue for later, before nodding emphatically to Thayndor and retorting down the starewell. "Enough lies," he seems to offer to Norran, "... this is the truth, Ling. If you take away our man, we'll kill Her. We have no qualms about spilling blood for blood. If you wish ANY hope of having Her free, you *will* release our man. We are not monsters; we care for our own. Give us a SIGN."

"Barter," the Wildling at the bottom of the stairs hisses raspily. "Show us she. The one returns. Free she. Free the one."

Fael Mikin blinks. "The Castellan?", he asks glancing towards the cellar, removing his hand from Sophia's shoulder, "Vhramis is down there?" He still doesn't appear to know exactly whats going on, particularly that there are Wildlings present. He moves closer to the trapdoor to see whats going on, his eyes shifting about as he attempts to piece things together, then looks back towards Varal with a question in his eyes.

A brief surprise surfaces on Laeria Mikin's visage at hearing the Vozdhya Duke claim to know someone who knows this She. It's a facade that she can easily see through. The surprise turns into a stormy glare. "Desist!" The paladin calls after the retreating Wildlings with the Castellan, venting a curse beneath her breath.

Nodding at Sophia, Orell Mikin sighs, "There'd be chances and more to shed blood, now is not the time. The Second Blademaster, I wager, have far more experience dealing with these than the Lord Captain." His deep blue eyes slightly adminishing, evidently sensing the tension between the two. At the Wildlings' words, he glances around back to Markus, and also to Laeria, apparently the Church is privy to more information about the Wildlings than they divulge.

Tor slows at Varal's words, then pauses completely as Joren returns. With this, he turns back to the gather, speaking in Vozhd to Markus. "Their tunnels must reach all the way back to beyond the Aegis, or otherwise I am sure some warning would have been spread. We must draw them out, your grace."

As Varal tightens his fists around the hilts of his weapons, his leather gloves creak in protest. He slowly grinds his jaw as he meets Markus' gaze, then in turn snaps at Thayndor: "I will not have a Zahir weakling tell me how to conduct myself in the defense of my own men. Many have been sacrificed in the war against the Shadow, and many will continue. We will remember the Castellan's sacrifice, although regrettable." He pauses a moment, continuing to ignore Sophia. "And need I remind the assembled company that these are Shadowspawn. You risk your purity in the Light even considering negotiation. The Church *will* be informed."

Sophia Mikin draws in a deep breath then looks up at Varal. "If you have any honor what so ever, I am ordering you to help the Castellan. You betrayed me Captain, do not betray a loyal servant to Light's Reach and Wedgecrest."

"Pointless," Norran Lomasa snaps in dissatisfaction of the Wildling's words, looking to Markus. "These Shadowborn have no honor. No logic, no true intelligence. If they really took whatever their venture was seriously, they wouldn't be such failures in the retrieval of the one they seek," Norran states firmly. At Varal's words, Norran's eyes narrow further as he turns away from the door to approach. "They burrowed /underground/, you fool! Have you any knowledge of /tact/. If you truely wish to save him, brute force without the slightest momentum of thought will grant you nothing but further death. You choose to bicker and accuse your allies, no true warrior of honor would do this. If you wish to further do so and hinder our attempts, you are unwanted, and I suggest you leave."

The Wildlings with Vhramis drag the Castellan through a rough-hewn opening in the wall, over a bumpy ridge of loose dirt and stone, and then into a deeper, more cramped and narrow darkness as they haul their bald but armored burden off into the darkness. A few more Wildlings speak in their alien tongue with the leader at the bottom of the stairs and then they too scuttle off to follow into the tunnel to provide reinforcements should Vhramis become recalcitrant. That leaves the leader and five other Wildlings lurking in the lower shadows, watching the bickering humans above.

Markus Kahar nods again towards Tor, apparently in agreement with his words, before he calls out down the stairs: "So be it. We will take you to her, perhaps you possess the power to free her from... bondage," the Duke adlibs to his best abilities, but discretely flashes a sign behind his back - three fingers forward with his thumb behind them: ambush. "But you must trust us. If you give us your word that you will not harm our man, we will put up our swords. But you must NOT harm him!" Markus glances towards Norran, "... they have all the cards. If we want Vhramis alive, what more can we do?"

The huntress's eyes flicker to and from each noble as they speak. Ester shakes her head at the rising tension and bites her tongue to say silent, her expression showing her disgust at the situation.

Ashlynn is still patting the dust off of her clothes as she enters the tavern, looking up only after she has fully entered - and then freezing with a blank stare at the scene that presents itself.

Gavin looks down at the bar for a minute and then walks over to Joran and taps him on the shoulder..." 'scue me Sir, I was thinkin... they had t' tunnel in right? Well... what if we go out there an' dig into the tunnel from above? Surpise 'em like?"

Orell Mikin frowns slightly, not privy to the knowledge of the sign, but he acknowledges Markus' experience with dealing with the Wildlings and prepares to step back.

Ardrek watches Markus speaking with the wildlings, and readys himself as he notices the sign that is flashed.

"Hold your tongue," comes Thayndor's dismissive reply to Varal, tone clipped, absent. From his position a few steps down the stairway, sword in hand, eyes glued to the flitting images of mottled green flesh granted by dim candlelight. "Excellency, they move - look! They're taking him ..." He steps lower still. "Return us our man, Shadowspawn!" His sword point lowers to level at the shadows.

Hearing a very familiar voice emanating from the depths of the cellar, Fael turns away from the stupid bickering goin on around him and attempts to get a better look at what lies beneath the cellar. His right hand shifts towards the hilt of the longsword attached to his belt as he moves forward. "Wildlings?", he mouths a little disbelieving as he moves.

Tor straightens slightly as he sees the second blademaster flash the signal. He glances toward Varal, shaking his head slightly in disgust, but soon turns back to the situation at hand. He grips the longsword easily, not overly tight nor so loose it dangles in his hand. He waits.

"How long would it take?" Joran asks Gavin, "And do we have any shovels nearby?" he then looks towards Markus in time to catch the side, and his a deep, understanding node to the 2nd Blademaster. He glances at Norran, then looks back towards Markus. His longsword is still held in his hand, ready to be used.

"They have the cards because you gave it to them." Laeria doesn't elaborate further by providing the explanation of how Markus' lie set them off in the first place. "Can you do nothing right?" She quips under her breath, stressed from deigning to 'converse' with Shadowspawn and perturbed that Vhramis' welfare is in jeopardy.

"It is not my fault that you all are too blinded with all your wit to notice where things will end up. I am no fool, but I can't say the same about you with all your pathetic, lovesick mewling and effeminate moodiness," Varal hisses at Norran. He turns to give Sophia an icy look. "The only betrayal was my mother's. Our chances died with my birth." Slowly, he raises his sword and readies himself, taking a step or two back. "We waste our time. His only chance is hitting them faster than they can react, anything else shan't succeed."

Once the Wildlings dragging Vhramis have moved down about twenty yards of tunnel, one of the creatures kicks a clawed foot at a loosely-set support strut. This move triggers a thundering collapse of the tunnel between the storeroom and their current location, pitching Vhramis in utter darkness with a trio of hot-breathed, sharp-clawed and fanged monstrosities. Taking that signal, the leader of the Wildlings peers up through the shadows and hisses: "Bring she. Or the one dies."

Celise Mikin stays well back from the posturing guards and nobility, a hand shifting to her skirts as if straightening them. "Now that sounds like a fine idea," the lady calls towards Gavin positively, but with no authority. Then her eyes turn a bit canny, narrowing - "Assuming we know from where the the tunnel leaves. Would tax the Lightmaiden herself to dig all the way around this Tavern. Right now, there is but one entrance. Make use of it." A hand lifts, fingers curling in a gesture.

Gavin looks to the lady and nods as he listens to her... "Seems to me it'd be straight out... not all curvy.. that'd slow 'em down.."

"You are not worthy of the worn floorboards you stand upon, thin-minded welp. Don't blame me for your repetitive failures," Norran hisses in turn to Varal, turning his back on the man to ignore him and walk to Markus once more. He takes note of the sound of the collapse, looking to Markus. "Did you hear that, Sir?"

"I will offer 10000 imperials for the man who saves my Castellan." Sophie cries out her eyes dart to Varal and murmurs something quietly.

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