In the second night of our major Wildling event, "They Who Search," negotiations with the creatures under the Bane's View Tavern fare less than well...

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.

In the shadows beneath Wedgecrest, within the cramped underground crawlspace, the Wildlings resume dragging Vhramis. The Castellan is tugged along, rounding a corner in the darkness to the tune of the rasping grunts of the clawed creatures and the crunching of his boots along the loose soil and rocks.

Joran stands near the trap door, but not right on top of it, watching it with his right hand holding his sword hilt which is in his scabbard. The Guardian looks to have passed time in the Tavern, his hair smoothed over with a hand.

The trap door, currently closed and locked, rattles as one of the Wildlings bangs on the underside of it from a position on the stone steps leading down to the storeroom.

Tor sits at a table near the sealed trapdoor, sword in scabbard. He tenses slightly as the door rattles, and frowns. "Now that the Second Blademaster has departed, what do you think about assaulting the Wildlings, Baron?"

Helpless to do much as he's dragged, Vhramis merely lays limp. He blinks in the darkness as he's tugged along, the jostling helping him to quickly recover from his grogginess.

The Horseman Norran Lomasa stands near the trap door, a safe distance away, however, as he stares at the door. The the rattle, he looks as if about to draw his sabre, but thinks better of it, staring at the door. "What is it you wish now, Shadowspawn? You still wish to bargain?" he asks loudly, so that the resident beneath the door would hear.

"Where is *She*?" one of the Wildlings hisses at Vhramis as they round another corner in the darkness. Even lit, it is unlikely the route would be all that easy for the Castellan to gauge. In these dense shadows, it's virtually impossible to discern where he's been or where he's bound.

As the door starts rattling, Joran slides his longsword out of it's sabbard some, to where a few inches of blade is visible. He glances at Norran, then back towards the door.

Through the trap door comes a hissed: "Where is *She*? Free She. One goes free."

Tor watches the situation with some interest, resting a hand on the pommel of his longsword once more. "Baron Lomasa?" Tor gestures to the man, indicating the other seat at his own table.

Her face pinched with an unconscious frown, Ashlynn works her way through the room until she can see the trapdoor leading into the cellar, remaining silent for the moment as she waits for any response that might follow Norran's challenge.

Vhramis groans as he is spoken to, the seriousness of his dire situation finally setting in fully. Blind eyes flickering around, and with a massive effort to keep from losing it in the cramped space, he grunts out a strained, "Who is /she/? Where are you taking me?"

"First, you answer my question of /who/ is 'She'? Is she one of us? One of yours?" Norran Lomasa asks again, aloud, though he looks over to Tor. "I'm a tad occupied, M'lord," is his answer, as he focuses back on the trap door.

Ester Shardwood slips into the tavern, bow in hand. She's followed by a bearded man dressed in hunter's garb. She glances around briefly as she heads straight towards the area of the trapdoor.

In the underground passage, the shadows begin to yield a little to faint starlight and the raspy huffs of the Wildlings is gradually joined by the rippling and splashing of water. One of the Wildlings dragging Vhramis hisses at the Castellan: "She waits. You wait. She free. You free." Onward they tug.

Karell Mikin makes his way into the Tavern, and turns his head to the rather noticable crowd gathered around the trap door. Walking over inquisitively he tries to make as little noise as he can.

Soram Nillu stands by the trapdoor, sword held at his side. His rockwolf stands back by the tables, hackles raised. The Spymaster looks down at the closed door, then back at Norran. "They don't seem intent on answering that question."

Sophia Mikin keeps far enough back not to be in too much danger though closer enough to hear what is being communcated.

Fael Mikin is standing relatively near the doorway, watching the situation as it unfolds but apparently not feeling confident in his understanding of events to freely offer advice to those in charge. He notices Ester enter and moves towards her. "Good evening, huntsmistress" he says softly with a nod of his head to both her and her companion.

"She waits," the Wildling below the trap door hisses back at Norran. "You hold. We want. She free. One free."

Ashlynn looks around impatiently as the questioning continues, and upon spying Ester, she slips away toward the woman, nodding curtly in greeting. "Mistress Ester," she murmurs. "Any news from the scouts?"

Tor smirks slightly. "Yes, it seems they are fairly uncooperative. I gather that they don't plan on telling us much more, Horseman. We might wish to consider..other avenues."

Amore Nillu quietly steps into the tavern and blinks a few times. "What's going on?" she murmurs.

Rayk Nillu holds the ancient sword, Wildfang, closely, trying to discern more events from where he stands at the end of armed nobles.

"Who the Light is /she/?" Vhramis shouts as some of the panic tears loose, the strain becoming too much from him. He stiffens immediately after, muttering to himself and closing his eyes. He's been in tight situations before...has to be some way out of this also, right?

Ester Shardwood stops and nods and Fael first, "Evening M'Lord." She then smiles grimly at Ashlynn and shakes her head, "No, no word yet." She strains her head to see. "What are they up to now? she queries.

"Vhramis is alive!" Sophia cries out searching wildly at those gathered. She keeps near Fael as her heart pounds loudly in her ears. There is hope!

"Huntmistress," Joran says in greeting, then follows it with, "My lords. My Ladies." This is all said with his eyes remaining locked on the trapdoor, "It sounds as if they...think" he pauses on the word 'think', and says it as if still not sure, "that we hold she prisoner. Do we hold any of the Shadow-Touched in prison, my lords?"

After walking into the tavern a few moments ago, Gavin takes a moment to look around and let his eyes adjust to the light within then walks over to the bar and sets a pouch down on its surface. He then takes a moment to look about the people gathered in this place as he reaches up and settles his traveling cloak back from his shoulders.

The Lomasa's eyes narrow at yet another vague answer from the beasts below. He lifts a single iron boot to stomp down audibly on the floor, as he speaks again, "Not good enough, Shadowspawn. We hold nothing, absolutely nothing. I am a mere 20 years of age, my father died in the last war your kind forced upon us for this vague ambition, while I was but a child. We cannot bring you this 'She' unless you tell us /who/ 'She' is. Has 'She' a name?"

"She Who Guides," the Wildling speaking to Vhramis hisses as he is pulled out of the underground passage, over a scree of scattered soil and rocks. "She Who Protects." The Castellan's boots bounce along the little hill of debris and then he finds himself in a familiar cavern, on the shore of a familiar underground basin, gazing up at a crack in the ceiling of the great chamber while falls churn nearby. "She Who Was Lost."

Ashlynn shrugs, grimacing at the contessa's wild cry before she trades her gaze between those gathered around the trap door and Ester. "The same," she says simply in low tones, before taking a deep breath and asking urgently, "Where did you send them? Where do they search? The tunnel cannot possibly extend *so* far..."

Tor sighs, shaking his head. He pushes to his feet, scales coming together with small clicks. "It is pointless," he mutters, removing his hand from the pommel of his blade. He crosses his arms over his chest, just waiting.

Fael Mikin listens to Ashlynn and Ester converse about scouts? He frowns thoughtfully, then reaches out to put his hand on Sophia's shoulder in an attempt to comfort his cousin. "Aye, trust in the light", he whispers to her. "You have scouts out?", he queries of the huntsmistress, then shifts his attention to Ashlynn with a faint grin over his serious expression. "Mistress Birch. Somehow I am unsurprised to see you in the midst of things."

"She," the Wildling below the trap door hisses in frustration, with a tone that suggests the creature finds the intelligence of the creatures above to be dubious at best. "She Who Guides. She Who Protects. She Who Was Lost. She Who Was Kept. The walldwellers hold She. Want She. Free She. We free the one."

Karell Mikin looks at the trap door, trying to disern what is being said, "She who protects..?" he mumbles to himself, "Protects who?" he frowns at the puzzle.

Porker wanders in from outside, looking disgruntled. He pushes aside the crowd near the trap door again and speaks in the general direction of some of the armed soldiers and nobles. "I took a wide walk 'round the place, checked under some stuff... gave it a good search, yar? No entrance to be found. Don't know about him, though." He jerks a thumb towards Joran, then crosses his arms again. His knife is again hidden in his pocket.

If there was any color remaining in Vhramis' face, it swiftly drains away as he is dragged backwards into the cavern. "What? But we were..." he whispers, though he promptly clams up and attempts to look for the known method of escape, a patch of moss covered wall leading to the starlight crack. " long as she been gone? Is she"

"Perhaps, my Lord, you should, 'it' to describe what she looks like?" Joran says to Norann. Porker somehow manages to get Joran's eyes off the trapdoor, "-You-, he says, "Were no-where to be seen when I went outisde. Your idea of looking for a trapdoor probally considted of finding another meal," he says, then looks back to the trapdoor, watching.

"Between here and the Ageis," Ester replies to Ashlynn and nods at Fael, "Yes. But very little time has passed. I don't expect any news soon." She shakes her head, "It's a large area to cover."

Vhramis' searching eyes will find the moss-covered wall, just like it was when he found it last. Well, mostly. Now, between him and the escape route are a couple of malevolent-looking Wildlings with poisoned fangs and claws, crouched and snarling. The other puts its claws against Vhramis' forehead again, hissing, "Lost so long. The racing moons are many. She lost. We lost."

"There /are/ no other venues. There are no other entrances. There is no way to take action. All we have is /this/," Norran answers to Tor with a bit of frustration on his voice. His attention turns back to the trap door, and he continues his efforts to question the evasive Wildling. "The wall has been established for 600 years, Shadowspawn. How am /I/ to know who this 'She' is, unless you give some sort of mark of 'Shes existance? Answer my questions, and a bargain may be struck. Answer. Is she one of us? One of yours? Does she look like us or you? Is she Tainted or Pure?"

"We can kill these scum," Tor bites out, "And pursue the others." He continues. "Attempting to reason with this mindless, vaguely speaking beast is getting us /nowhere/. And meanwhile there is no doubt the Castellan is falling into more danger."

"Is not walldweller," the Wildling under the trap door growls disdainfully. "Is not One Who Searches. Is great. But lost."

Wincing as he feels the familiar pressure on his head, Vhramis is unable to prevent himself from shirking away ever so slightly. He stares at the assembled monsters, mind racing as fast as it can considering the situation. "Does she still li..." he begins to say, though apparently swiftly decides that that line of questioning would not be overly beneficial to his health. "What does she protect from?" he asks instead, his talking the only thing keeping him from losing it.

And, in spite of her near-palpable concern, Ashlynn's mouth twitches abruptly at Fael's unusual greeting. "It is not always my fault, m'lord, despite what the castellan may have everyone believe," she says before frowning in thought at Ester's information. "How quickly can Wildlings dig? Do you know what the land is composed of around here? I do not believe they attempted this tunnel so long ago - after all, they only attacked Hawk's Aerie a few months before, and they were already searching for 'her' then. To the south, there is the river...if they went in that direction, the tunnel can only extend till there. If they head in the other directions...are they obstructed by rock or other formations?"

"He," snarls the Wildling poking at Vhramis' forehead. "He Who Destroys."

Soram Nillu sighs and shakes his head at Tor. "If we attempt to pursue them, the Castellan will be killed."

Gavin quietly listens to the conversations above the trapdoor and hears the man speaking loudly to those below about the wall and then looks down at the bar, his face showing the concentration of his thoughts... then looks up and grabs his pouch, setting it's strap over his shoulder and crossing the room to Joran and tapping on his shoulder to get his attention...

More gobbledygook. Vhramis doesn't seem to mind, as any time spent talking is time not spent dying. "What.../who/ is he?" He glances away from the assembled monstrosities to look to his other side, to the falls and rushing water.

Sophia Mikin waits and waits rather patiently to see if anyone will do anything other than converse with an evil creature.

Karell Mikin watches the trapdoor as Norran talks while miming some quiet words to himself, a vacant cloud flows over his eyes as he departs into his own little world of thought.

"Neither a Wildling nor an inbaitant of Fastheld," Joran murmer, then looks towards Gavin, "Yes?" he asks, acknowledging him before looking back towards the trap door. He then looks back at Porker, "Perhaps we should send -you- down there. Alone."

Gavin says, "Fergive me fer bargin in again Sir but I was thinkin... If... If we was to catch us one o' them things down there alive... where would it a'been taken to?" Gavin asks in a quiet tone as he still looks like he is trying to think of something..."

Stepping into the Tavern, Orell Mikin looks at the crowd gathered here, nodding to the ones you recognise, and he frowns the wildling speaking in revulsion.

Ester Shardwood listens to Ashlynn and knits her brow as she considers her answer. "The ground here is quite rocky." She looks towards the south, "Hmm,what if they were able to come down the river..."

Again, Norran looks back to Tor with a bit of a glare, speaking lowly, "We can /not/. If we kill them, they obviously have a way of communicating with the others. He will die if we assault, and many more will die with him." Dismissing Tor after that, Norran Lomasa focuses back on the trap door. "Your cursed race seems to have survived well enough, without the need of this 'She', as you continue to pointlessly assault us. Why would you need this 'She'? If she is not one of us, or you, what is 'She'? What exact physical attributes does this 'She' have? If 'She' exists, we would know of one who would survive this long. No Tainted are welcome here, so how could she be kept by us? If you do not speak with us, and continue these pointless answers, you will never find her." At Porker's words, Norran glares at the peasant, calling, "Guardian! /Silence/ that peasant before I do it myself!"

Fael Mikin nods at thoughtfully at the Courier. "I don't know the lay of the land well around here. Ironically enough, Vhramis is probably the one most familiar with the terrain." He sighs, then glances towards the huntsmistress, "Where would they come down the river from?"

Tor looks to Soram. "So you would rather strike a bargain with a pack of creatures who would kill you in an instant?" His gaze then moves to Norran, "You would prefer to open the realm to them, just to save the Castellan. Is that your wish? Death and destruction at the claws of these beasts, to save one man? There is no reasoning with the Shadow!"

Orell Mikin hears Tor and walks over to him, whispering in his ears, "What we can find about their intent, the better to anticipate their next attack." and then looks at the Wildling awaiting its answer.

A pause from under the trap door, then a hissed: "We wait. Walldwellers fight. Walldweller leader then speak."

Soram Nillu narrows his eyes at Tor. "Whether the Castellan lives or dies is not my decision." He looks back down at the trap door.

"I don't know M'lord," Ester says with a frown, "I'm more just thinking out loud. I have this nagging feeling I'm missing something and its bothering me."

Ashlynn shakes her head with a wry snort at Fael's comment. "I should have dragged him out more often, or I might know enough to provide aid now. And even then, the only time we made an outting, we fell into a..." She pauses, blinks, and then she finishes dazedly, "We fell into an underground river that empties into the Fastheld River. An underground tunnel...with an entire, underground cavern and waterfall, and...and *everything*. How many of those do you suppose this land is riddled with?"

"So do I." Joran says with a glance to Ester, then turns towards Porker, drawing his sword out another inch, "You heard my Lord. Be silent!"

Sophia Mikin winces at the mention of tunnels though she doesn't comment. No, instead she clutches her healer's bag waiting and hoping.

The Wildling crouched next to Vhramis, claws to his forehead, tilts its head and clicks its fangs as it glowers down at the Castellan. "He Who Destroys!" The tone suggests the meaning should be obvious.

"You /ASSUME/ too much, Vozhd," Norran Lomasa sneers at Tor, his glare falling upon him. "You have no thought. No tact. You are just like the Mikin in this. Let this continue, or leave this effort. I do not need a zealot screaming in my ear!" Clearly, the young Horseman is getting frustrated with both Tor, Porker, and the vague Wildling. As the wildling answers, unsurprisingly, differently once more, he calms himself to continue. "We are not the ones unsure of ourselves, Shadowspawn. You are. Your words, your explainations mean /nothing/ to us. We do not understand."

Karell Mikin scratches his chin, "A rhyme... Looking for She who protects... She isn't human so... Well... Boats arent human but they are thought of as she's.... could it be another creation of the shadow... A Bog Ape or something.. No, no, that doesn't seem right" he continues, his voice raising just enough to be heard by someone next to him.

"Walldwellers not understand," the Wildling beneath the trap door of the tavern grunts. "Walldwellers not *hear*. Lesser things. Hopeless."

Sophia Mikin glares over at Norran with the mention of her family name. SHe is not pleased. Not one bloody damn bit. The Contessa does not offer any words of her displeasure she simply draws in a shakey breath as she waits for someone to save Vhramis.

Fael Mikin gives a gently squeeze on his cousins shoulder as he feels her tension building, though his attention remains largely focused on the conversation with the Courier and Hunter. "Tunnels?", he queries Ashlynn with a raised eyebrow. "The ground is hard here, its entirely possible that near the river there could be a lot of tunnels formed over time." He frowns and glances towards Norran as well, though he doesn't display his own displeasure.

Ester Shardwood visibly straightens and tenses at Ashlynn's recalled memory. "Aye," she says quietly the strain of her thoughts apparent by the wrinkles on her brow, "I have heard of such tunnels. Most troubling." She looks back over at the nobles by the door as the tension between them increases and narrows her eyes.

Stepping up towards the Wildling, Orell pauses to glare at Norran, apparently promising a word later with him about speaking ill on his family on Mikin land. He addresses the Wildling, "By lost, what do you mean? Is she dead?"

"If we are such Lesser things, Shadowspawn, how come you cannot speak in words that allow us to understand? You know our language, yet you speak like a lame peasant, which you are not proving to be far from. I am here. I am willing to 'hear', but you are not willing to tell me. You speak in riddles and lies, Shadowspawn, not us," offers the Lomasa, his standing position steady from his distance from the trap door as he continues efforts.

Karell Mikin licks his upper lip and pouts slightly confused and annoyed, looking up at Norran he speaks, hoping to catch the attention of the blade, "Have you asked why they need /She/? Or how we might find /She/? Is /She/ their god? Or maybe one of many? You need to find out as much as we can, even if the creature speaks in riddles."

Vhramis can't help but have his gaze be torn back to look at the clicking fangs. He draws in a ragged breath, trying to steady himself as he looks up to the thing's eyes. Time to try a different angle. " your name? Do you have a name? Light...does /She/ have a name? Besides being She?" He stops himself abruptly, realizing he had begun to ramble.

Tor's expression darkens, his grip falling to the handgrip of his weapon. "You are a fool, Lomasa. You claim to serve the Emperor and yet seek to stike peace with the shadow. -That- is no service to the Emperor, and certianly not to Fastheld. You endanger everyone with your foolhardy attempts at a bargain. You are a disgrace to the reputation of the Blades and to the Emperor." He turns his back to the horseman, moving quickly toward the gathering outside the nobles. He comes to a halt before Sophia. "Countessa, do you know of any place the Shadowspawn might have been able to burrow from near here?"

"Know walldweller garble," the Wildling under the trap door confirms in a hissing rasp. "Not all. Difficult. Senseless." A pause as it listens to Orell, and then frustration returns to the creature's voice, as if it is irritated and trying to explain a simple concept to a child. "Is lost. If dead, no search. Senseless."

"Could they not have taken advantage of such a thing?" Ashlynn asks - hope, perhaps, pushing logic a bit farther than it would normally strain, but the connection still enough to extend the possibility. "Have you searched in that area? The waterfall that I spoke of is not far from here."

Sophia Mikin darts her eyes directly to Fael apprehensively. She never thought of those evil creatures using a tunnel near her keep, her township. "Possibly." Sophia answers the Vozhd-Kahar.

Gavin turns and looks around those inside the tavern, his face showing a look of concern as he looks around quickly... "Was there someone talkin 'bout tunnels an' such?"

"Perhaps we should search the waterfall." Joran says, turning towards Ester and Ashlynn with Porker now, atleast, being silent. HE tries his best to ignore the bickering between the nobles, but by his expression, it's annoying him, at the least.

"Four-Splotch," the Wildling in the distant cavern with Vhramis hisses as it keeps its claws pressed to the Castellan's forehead. "She name. She Who Protects." His head tilts and his fangs gnash. "Simple."

Wildlings in Wedgecrest. That was certainly worthy of checking out and after near running her horse to death it better be more than mere rumor. Stepping up to the Tavern door, it swings open and insteps a brass armoured Scourge. For several moments it stands there in the doorway before reaching up to remove the helmet from her head and lifts a gauntleted hand up to brush back her red hair. Glancing around with her purple hued eyes the very young scourge catches the trail end of some statement. Brow furrowing drawing the eyebrows together Moira speaks out not loudly but perhaps loud enough to be heard. "Who is making a bargain with what?"

Ester Shardwood shakes her head, "Personally? No I haven't. I only left the tavern to check on my horse. I've been here the whole time." She hears Gavin's question and searches for its source, "Yes we are," she calls out to Gavin. She nods at Joran, "Is it near?" At the Scourges entrance she stops speaking and looks from her, to the nobles and back again.

"It is not bargaining," Soram replies to Moira. "We're attempting to decipher the ramblings of these aberrations." He gestures with his sword toward the trap door in the floor.

Four-splotch? Vhramis almost .../almost/... starts to instinctively look about for the mentioned splotches. "Simple...yes," he grimaces, making an effort to not stare at the Wildling's body. Strange what a stressedd mind will clasp onto to keep from shattering in half. "I'm...Vhramis." Even more strange that he's introducing himself to a Wildling. It had started as such a nice day too...nice fresh baked bread, a bit of wine..." take the claws off my forehead? You've got me nicely outnumbered here...Four-splotch."

All that Tor's accusations grant him are ignorance and silence from the Lomasa Blade. Norran nods at Orell's arrival, appreciative that atleast he understands what the Lomasa is trying to do unlike the more vocal fanatics of the room. Norran again poses questions to the Wildling through the trap door, seeking information, "Our society does not condone the Touch, Shadowspawn. Longevity is an obvious evidence of this. If she still lives, she either hides or is not in Fastheld. Do you understand this, Shadowspawn?"

Fael Mikin catches a glimpse of Sophia's apprehensive gaze and looks towards her. "What?", he asks carefully, searching her gaze. At the arrival of the Shadowscourge he bows his head slightly. "Greetings sister", he says respectfully, "I believe the Baron Norran Lomasa is in charge at the moment", he supplies the information freely without any attempts at explanation. For the moment he leaves the conversation with Ashlynn and Ester behind as other conceerns press in on him.

Gavin brightens a bit hearing the lady answer and he makes his way towards them and saying to himself, "Ahh... I thought I 'eard 'em say that." His crosses over to them quickly and pauses to the side of their group to listen to what is being said.

Four-Splotch regards Vhramis with cold, silent curiosity for a few moments. Then, it hisses: "Vuuurrramisssss." It lifts the claws from the Castellan's forehead long enough to let them trail down his face - a hair above the flesh - and then to settle on the man's throat.

Ashlynn nods promptly, eager to be off now that there is something that can be done. "Yes, it is. If you have your bow ready, and if there are some more skilled with weapons who can ride quickly - let us go now. Even if we are wrong, I would rather find it out as soon as possible."

"Oh," Tor seems to have calmed down a bit, glancing from Sophia to Fael. "Do tell, perhaps we can actually make some strides in this." Then, as the scourge enters, Tor turns to face the woman. "They refuse to destroy the shadowspawn that are currently in the cellar of this place, Sister. They would rather discuss some trivial matter with the beasts than kill them." He glances back to Ashlynn as he overhears the words, holding out his hand to halt her.

Eyes fall upon Soram as Moira gives him a very quick and brief once over before blinking her eyes and nods, "Oh, well that's sensible." It is tough to decipher if the innocent tone of her voice is facetious or simply that light. The looko though continues to gaze at the man before she looks towards Fael and offers a very slight incline of her head. "Baron Lomasa... of course. I am certain than that nothing will occur that would be in discord with the teachings... such as collaboration with them." Again a soft statement delivered in an innocent tone but perhaps holding more meaning. Following the indications of others, Moira begins to look very carefully in the direction of Baron Lomasa.

"Understand walldweller fools," the creature under the trap door of the tavern replies to Norran. "She Who Protects. Very old. Very wise."

Joran says, "I would be willing to go, my Lady. I can not ride, but I can use a sword." He then clears his throat, then takes a step towards Norran, "My Lord," he begins, softly enough to be heard by Norran, but hopefully not loud enough for the Wildlings to hear, "There are some caves down by the river. We should search them for any signs of Wildlings."

Karell Mikin gives frowning another chance as he goes back to quiet contemplation. "A tree.. whats the oldest thing I know... the sky..." he sighs and yawns slightly.

Ester Shardwood watches the scourge for a moment until Ashlynn speaks, her gaze focused on her. "Aye Mistress. I will go, with you."

Rayk Nillu falls back from his position to stand a few paces from Sophia and her entourage, dropping the edge of Wildfang gently. He sighs, unsure of what to do and looks about for answers.

The gritting of the Castellan's teeth together is probably quite audible as a cold sweat springs to his forehead. He closes his eyes as his face tingles, the stubble on his jaw and chin feeling the claw quite acutely. Swallowling a lump in his throat as the Wildling's hand reaches it's destination, he does what would be a substitution for a nod with a brief quirk of his eyebrows. "Yes...I liked the forehead better, Four-Splotch..." he says, voice cracking. So much for bravely facing down the unknown.

Fael Mikin leans forward with a slight frown and whispers something in Sophia's ear, then gives her shoulder a squeeze and looks towards the Courier, overhearing her words. "It appears that I am mostly useless hear, Mistress Birch. If its not too much of a burden, I would like to come along. Hopefully, I can be of some use."

Gavin speaks up to those he is standing near, "Ye'll need lanterns an' torches if ye be going down to find caves at this time o' night."

Ashlynn nods to each of them in turn, breaking into her first, genuine smile of the evening. "Thank you," she begins, before catching Tor's motion out of the corners of her eyes. "Yes, m'lord?" she asks with a frown of concern, even as she rocks impatiently on her feet, already leaning toward the door as if just about to take a step in that direction.

Orell Mikin shakes his head to contemplation, his deep blue eyes glazed over, "Very old and wise.... And who Protects, " he looks over to the rest of the nobles, nodding towards the Scourge who has just entered.

Sophia Mikin nods her head to something Fael advises then whispers back quietly.

"Only our kind dwell in these walls, Shadowspawn. The rest are hunted and purged. If she remains in these walls, then she is dead," Norran Lomasa states bluntly, nodding once to no-one in particular. "Your inability to cooperate is frustrating, Shadowspawn. The one you have taken has fought valiantly. He has led a full life, and if it were not for him we would not know of the menace below us. He has served the Light, and should he be killed, a sad, pointless thing to have done, then he shall be with the Light once more. The thing 'we' fight of is if he is worth this. Why wouldn't we just accept his loss and slay you and your kin below us?" At Joran's words, Norran nods once and speaks quietly back, "Take the Guardian with you, and others willing to join. We will remain here. Move swiftly, Guardian," Norran bids Joran, nodding over to Ardrek.

Ardrek nods at Norran's words, and moves towards the exit of the Tavern.

Moving, letting the footfalls land a bit more heavily then necessary, Moira approaches towards the Trap Door slipping around any who do not move out of her way. Once she is several paces away from the others, the steely look on her eyes falls upon those who are leading the 'negotiations'. "Is there a reason in particular... that you are conducting... any sort of communications?" The question is mostly directed at whoever is closest to the trap door.

"Yes," Soram responds to Moira. "They have one of our own. A Castellan." He frowns. "If it were not for this, we would be taking action."

"Yes, my Lord. The Light shine on you." Joran says, then turns from Norran, and heads back towards Ashlynn, "We can leave when you are ready, my Lady." he says, letting his sword slide the rest of the way back into it's scabbard.

"Hold, Mistress," Tor speaks to Ashlynn, "Wait for the others who will join you before you leave." He rests his hand on his blade, nodding to Gavin. "Collect a few torches, and we shall go." He shoots a cold glance toward Norran, but seems glad to see the scourge dealing with the situation.

Four-Splotch tilts its head, eyes shifting toward the other two Wildlings. Their gazes swivel simultaneously toward each other. Then Four-Splotch returns his gaze to the Castellan. "It goes badly. Walldweller angerbabble. Sunlover interloper. We fail." The claws dance softly up and down against the skin of Vhramis' throat.

Gavin says "Aye Sir," and turns.. walking quickly out the door to find something for torches...

Quickly, Moira's head snaps to Soram. "So because of one man... you taint this place by engaging in conversation with them? Is one life worth the risk you take to your soul by even associating with the shadow?" There is no coldness in her voice, it comes out like an innocent, childlike question.

The Wildling below the tavern trap door hisses up to Norran. "Hopeless. No choice."

Ashlynn takes a breath as if to protest, already single-mindedly focused upon her goal, before she quickly shakes herself and nods instead, merely offering an impatient, "Hurry..." As she is distracted, however, her attention finally turns to what is occurring around the trapdoor, and she suddenly hisses, "What are they doing? Tell them to stall! Are they *trying* to get Vhramis killed?!"

Soram Nillu's frown deepens. "It is not my place to decide whether the man is to join the Light, Sister."

Gavin returns to the tavern after not finding anything of use, looks around and then walks over to the wall and looks at the torch set into a holder and sees that it will come out fairly easily.

Ester Shardwood adjusts her cloak and steps towards her companion who has been waiting silently by the door. "Oldman, go see what we have in the saddle bags. I'm unsure whats..." She turns quickly at Ashlynn's hiss, eyeing the assembled men and scourge at the trapdoor. "Hurry," she states simply and the man nods and strides out the door.

"How long will it take to get to these caves?" Joran asks, turning to watch the assembly by the trapdoor as he waits.

Vhramis winces as his throat is tickled. Light, it actually tickles. That's a horrible thought. Curiosity at the Wildling's words mixes with stress and fear to create another burst of sweat. "They're confused," he whispers, at least trying to keep the silly conversation going. "They need time...we don't see your type every day...Four-Splotch." He trips on the name a little. "You don't see us every day either, I don't think."

Moira's eyes remain steadily locked upon Soram for several long moments before she smiles rather abruptly as if walking through a sunny field. "I will go seek out assistance from a Ray I saw riding towards the Keep on my way here... and return with instructions." Turning, the girl begins to walk towards the door with a quick step.

Fael Mikin nods to Sophia with a smile and plants a kiss on her forehead, before moving away towards the Huntsmistress and courier as they are preparing to depart. He glances cautiously towards Tor, remembering him from another night not too long previous. "Whats the delay?", he asks Ashlynn with a frown?

Ardrek waits by the exit for the rest of the people who are going to look for the caverns, a gauntleted hand impatiently tapping on the hilt of his sword.

"See walldwellers too often," Four-Splotch offers almost apologetically as the Wildling leans through the shadows, resting the claws of the left hand against the Castellan's throat - and driving the claws of the right hand through a crease in Vhramis' belly armor, penetrating the man's stomach with poison-tainted claws. Not terribly deep, but deep enough to hurt - and deep enough to introduce the toxin to the man's veins. The other two Wildlings start scampering up the moss-covered walls, their clawed hands and feet shredding the coarse moss as they ascend toward the crack in the ceiling.

Ester Shardwood shakes her head and steps halfway through the door. "Come," she calls to whoever is waiting. "Grab your mounts and assemble in the front."

"*Not* hopeless!" Ashlynn calls unabashedly across the tavern, pitching her voice deliberately. Desperately, she cries out, "We will get Her for you! But you must keep him alive or you will never have Her!" and without further ado, she runs for the stables, no longer willing to wait, and letting the others determine whether they will follow now or later.

"The Second Bladesmaster has charged me with the duty of handling the situation. /He/ saw fit to 'speak' with the Shadowspawn, and so will I. If you have something against it - any of you - seek him out, as he is the one who has ordered me to act as I now do," announces Norran loudly to the general room of the tavern, as he now looks to the trap door. "We want nothing more than your kind's advances into our home to end, Shadowspawn. We can be a reasonable people. There is hope in this, as we hold ourselves to honor. Speak further, we are making progress. Do not flee so quickly."

"We are waiting on torches," Tor answers, nodding toward Gavin and his growing collection of them. "Then we shall embark. Hopefully we will find something of interest in these caves." He then begins to move for the exit.

Orell Mikin frowns, his blue gaze turning back to the trapdoor, his face steady and stern, "We still don't know what they want. I will go with the Huntmistress and the Blades to see what we can find from there." and he follows Ashlynn and Ester out.

Vhramis grunts as he's struck, eyes driving wide at the combined shock and pain. So much for talking. He begins to mouth something, though he trails off as he feels the tingling numbness begin to spread from his stomach. Legs slowly grow heavy. Arms slowly grow heavy. Maybe he tries to fight it, but it doesn't do much good, as after a moment his head slumps back the extra inch to the rock, eyes freezing in a confused look.

Sophia Mikin isn't going. she will wait and if needed use her healing skills.

"My Lady," Joran says, following Ashlynn and Ester out, "I do not have a mount, but I wish to accompany you still."

"We search. Not flee. Trapped," explains the Wildling from the storeroom under the tavern. "One dying."

Ardrek follows the group out of the Tavern as well, "Same here." he says nodding at Joran as he hurries after them.

Four-Splotch watches the poison take effect on Vhramis with the curiosity someone might demonstrate for a wriggling turtle on its back in the sun. Then, the Wildling follows after its companions, scuttering up the moss-covered wall toward the crevice, where twin silhouettes backed by moonlight can be seen.

"Ride double with me if you can, but if you fall off, I will not wait for you," Ashlynn snaps to Joran as she picks out Cleo, barely even taking the time to tighten the loosened girth before she is hurriedly throwing the lead line over the river trotter's neck and swinging into the saddle. "Forget the torches, the moonlight will suffice!"

Gavin grabs up a few more torches in his hands and handing one to each of the others as they prepare to leave the tavern.

Soram Nillu's eyes widen, then narrow again. He looks up at Norran. "I think time for conversation has ceased."

Fael Mikin follows quickly after the rest of the group. Once outside he swings quickly up into Neider's saddle, grasping the reins with his left hand and preparing the animal for a run should it be needed.

Tor takes a torch anyway, seeing the rain falling from the sky. He moves out of the tavern, and toward the stable, nodding at the two blades. "Yes, I share the same plight as these men. My mount is in Vozhdya, unfortunatly."

Orell Mikin unstables Sprinter from the stable and climbs unto it, preparing his mount for a swift gallop.

Ester's strides from the tavern and her companion meets her leading two horses. She takes the reigns of the large shire and in one swift movement pulls herself up into the saddle. She guides him beside Ashlynn and peers into the darkness. "Which way?" The other hunter follows suit and falls in beside Ester.

Gavin turns and steps out the door... taking a moment to un-hitch the wagon from his horse as the others are mounting up onto their own horses and then swings up into the saddle of his own, grabbing at Xan's reins and turning the horse to follow the others through the night. "One o' ye get on... " he says as he rides over to those without horses...

"I shall not fall off," Joran says, pulling himself up to ride behind Ashlynn on the horse. He uses his sword arm to hold onto Ashlynn, "Do not worry, I will let go if I feel myself falling."

"Follow me...near the river," Ashlynn states shortly at Ester's question, waiting only long enough for Joran to find his seat before she kicks Cleo straight into a gallop, leaning low over the mare's neck.

Ester Shardwood doesn't hesitate. The large shire leaps forward and follows.

Karell Mikin looks at Norran, waiting on his next move, as he seems to be in control.

Ardrek nods slightly at Tor as Gavin rides up towards them, "You first, my lord." He says.

Laeria's entrance is waylaid by a rush of people and shouts. Most noticeable is Ashlynn and Fael as they rush to fetch their mounts. "Fael?" She follows after the duo, crisp steps carrying her toward Neider. Apparently something is happening. "Let me ride double with you." A hand outstretches to her sibling, already hooking her foot into the back of the stirrup to help swing herself over. It wasn't a question.

"And trapped you will remain," Norran states lowly, drawing his sabre from his scabbard and fetching his shield, as he looks about the tavern. "I was /attempting/ to gather intelligence from these beasts, but those with dim wit have granted that both that objective has failed and the Castellan is dead. Hold pride in yourself for this," Norran then looks to the trap door. "You will not exit this township alive, Shadowspawn!"

Fael Mikin holds up long enough to extend an arm and help his sister up into the saddle behind him before proceeding at a gallop after Ashlynn and Ester. He directs his best gallant smile at the Scourge and says, "It would be a privilege, M'lady", before absently jostling her with his elbow.

Tor nods to Ardrek, "Thank you, Guardian." He holds his torch carefully aloft as he lifts himself lightly behind Gavin, bracing himself for movement. Eyes glance momentarily back to the tavern, but they soon center again on the path ahead.

"No," the Wildling under the trap door agrees, loping down the steps to where a broken keg has spilled its contents on the rough flagstones. It glances toward the five brethren crouching around the now-sealed tunnel. They all bob their heads in unison. "We search no more," they hiss together. And then the leader draws back a clawed hand and brings down the lethal digits in a vicious arc that ends with the claws scraping against the stone, creating sparks that ignite the alcohol from the keg. The fire spreads rapidly toward the pallet loaded with similar kegs. The room becomes aglow with flickering firelight, which illuminates the Wildlings and the bloodied corpse of the barkeep. Instinctively, the creatures back toward the shadows as the blaze continues to grow.

"As it was when we were children, Lord Constable." Sister Laeria shortly responds with an arrogant air befitting of the most haughty of noblewomen. In spite of the rushing adrenaline, there is a hint of mirth on the young paladin's returned smile. Her arms secure themselves around Fael's middle as the moonslit scenery flies by.

Rayk Nillu sniffs cautiously as a disturbing smell tickles his nose. He thinks for a moment, eyes widening and he yells loud enough to be heard, "I smell smoke, and I don't think it's from the Fireplace.... we /need/ to evacute the tavern."

As Four-Splotch rejoins the other two Wildlings along the crevice in the top of the cavern where Vhramis lies dying, the creatures take a few moments to stare down at the human as raindrops trickle from the heavens. They glance to the southeast then, making unified sniffing noises. And then they crouch and scurry off into the darkness, leaving Vhramis and their brethren in the tavern to their dooms.

Ashlynn does not look back, seemingly barely aware that others are behind her as she urges her mare on as fast as it can carry them, taking the straightest path possible toward the cavern from memory.

Norran Lomasa's nose twitches as he sniffs the air, eyes narrowing. "Smoke from the cellar," he speaks, as if to himself, nodding to Rayk. "Everyone, outside!" he calls aloud, sheathing his sabre as he attempts to urge whatever people gathered through the doorway.

Soram Nillu reacts to Norran's call, sheathing his own sword and making his way hastily towards the exit.

Joran rides behind Ashlynn on heer mouth, still holding on with his sword arm. All of his efforts are focused on remaining on the horse, his scabbard flapping against his leg in both the wind, and the horse's steps.

Ester Shardwood flicks the reigns against her mount urging the shire on. The other hunter follows just behind an to the side. "There's light in the bags Ester," he shouts at her. Ester calls back over her shoulder her voice almost lost in the sound of clattering hoofs, "Good thing, we'll need it."

Gavin urges Xan to move faster in the darkness as he follows the others and making sure to keep a tight hold on the torch in his hand as well as the reins as they ride following the others towards what the Light only knows...

Orell Mikin follows the Huntmistress' lead, heeling his mount into a swift gallop behind

Rayk Nillu stands by the doorway, urging people to leave the tavern. he waits untill all are gone before leaving the burning building himself.

Like Rayk, Norran Lomasa is one of the last the exit the tavern. Though, he doesn't stop outside to view the inevitable occurance, circling the building as if to look for a possible escape route for the doomed Wildlings.

Fael Mikin smiles faintly. "Indeed", he says as he looks behind them towards the town of Wedgecrest before returning his gaze to the road ahead. "Just like old times", he says as his sister slides her arms around his waist, then leans forwards as though urging Neider to make even better speed than he already is.

Melina is startled by the mass of people not to mention the smoke pouring from the tavern before she has a chance to enter. She hastily tries to avoid the oncoming throng

Before long, the Wildlings in the storeroom under the Bane's View Tavern can find no shelter against the irrefutable glow of the growing inferno as it consumes the contents of the broken keg, then the keg itself, and then ignites the pallet loaded with about a dozen more full kegs. Several other kegs, similarly burdened, are arrayed around the storage space. The Wildlings form a tight circle, shielding their eyes with clawed fingers and awaiting the end. Then the kegs erupt, exploding and setting off a chain reaction of further detonations of the other pallets. The blast consumes the stoic Wildlings before ripping through the trap door and floor boards of the tavern, scattering furniture in the fiery maelstrom that takes flight once it gets free of the underground. The explosion continues, blowing out windows and spiraling through the ruptured roof. The sky behind the desperate riders rumbles with the sound of the blast and glows with the light of the burning building.

Return to Season 2 (2004).

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