Lightholder Crossroads - Interdistrict Carriage Hub <Palace District>
A small village has sprouted on the edge of the Lightholder River where the cobblestone roads from Fastheld's other prominent districts intersect, in the shadow of Caryas Hill and the majestic gray silhouette of Fastheld Keep - the seat of power for the entire realm.
Sutlers, traveling performers and other small-time merchants ply their trades along this main crossroads - competing for space with carriages hauling passengers, couriers rushing important communiques from one district to another, and the soldiers of the Emperor's Blades who regularly patrol the area.
On the northwest corner of the intersection, next to the road that twists north toward Lightholder Bridge and the palace, sits a large tavern and inn where weary travelers can refresh themselves.
It is a temperate late evening. The air is stagnant, not stirring with the slightest breeze. Puffy white clouds fill most of the sky. The following of the six moons are visible in the sky: Herald (blue/waning), Torch II (gray/waning).
There's just the vaguest of flashes within the shimmering rift before a tall, slender figure emerges from it, clad in blue robes and a hood. He has no time to react before gravity takes hold and sends him tumbling into the crowd of Bladesmen encircling the anomaly in the middle of the crossroads.
Needless to say, the figure flying out of the rift he's been guarding for a week takes priority over Norran's conversation with Paelnor. Located closely enough to it, the longsword leaning against Norran's shoulder comes to bear as his eyes widen toward the figure. "By the Light! Something's come out!" he calls aloud.
Norran's proclamation, combined with similar excited and alarmed shouts from the other Blades about, causes Harper to nearly jump out of his saddle in surprise. An unintelligable cry is his response as he struggles to hold Ghost still, the horse reacting to it's rider's nervousness, before reaching to yank one of the long spears from the tie on it's saddle.
The first reaction that most of the troops have at something finally coming through is a bit of shock. Then, training kicks in. There are twenty five Blades, scattered about the area, some in the tavern eating, some talking in groups and others standing about the rift in their proper place. Some of the close latter ones quickly move to try and form a perimeter around Marrokamir of about five, a tighter one than was formed around the rift. Others are slower to react. Lucius simply pushes his way through, drawing his own sword. "Identify yourself." He says simply. No cries of Touched-ness, no accusations of being a fiendish monster, just simple language. His body language though is quite defensive, shield now raised in front of his body and sword raised above that even, poised to strike.
The stranger from the rift hasn't even picked himself up off the ground before the Bladesmen tighten their circle around him and Nepos makes his demand. His pale eyes sweep around to take in each soldier in turn, and what details of his surroundings can be made out through their armored legs. Ultimately, drawing himself up to his full height, he stares down at Lucius and says, "Antoocha salakari nyem skarl."
Amalai stands by the entrance to the clothing store, speaking quietly with another person. That is until everyone's attention is drawn to the rift as the man makes his entrance. Her eyes go wide and she ducks behind another person, and peeks up over their shoulder to watch.
Norran remains on the outside of the circle surrounding the stranger, remaining near Paelnor. He begins to move forward, not attempting to push his way past the other Blades but taking up a position a few feet behind one of his shorter comrades so that he may look over the newcomer.
From his mounted vantage point, Harper has a clearer view of the tall 'man', the boy attempting to not gawk at the sight of it. He hefts his spear a bit, holding it ready, taking at least some comfort from it's weight.
Lucius Nepos squints at the silver haired man. "Must be from beyond the Wall or some such. Bloody shades, he doesn't even speak our language." However, his posture doesn't relax an inch. "Well.. I don't really know how to proceed with this. I suppose we should bind him. A frail creature he looks to be, even if he's taller than any man I've ever seen."
"Ja mek attam tweh bin me, but you would find yourself rather brutally chastened." Like the tuning of a liltrum, it would appear the stranger was making himself accustomed to the local language. Within seconds, he can be understood. A thin smile creeps across his lips. "What is this place?"
Amalai looks about at the number of Bladesmen surrounding the crossroads, but her eyes are drawn back to the figure which came from the rift. She stays back, but continues to watch what's going on.
Norran looks rather surprised as the tall man shifts from, atleast his point of view, random gibberish to rather proficient Common. "I don't know, Marshal, but if the Church gets wind of this I think we can accurately /predict/ their reaction," suggests Norran of Lucius, green eyes narrowing on the newcomer.
Paelnor Harper hisses a soft breath as it's speech changes to something intelligable, glancing to Norran. "The damn shadow is it?" he mutters, mostly to himself. Realizing it's not his place to speak, he keeps his voice low for the time being.
Lucius Nepos's brows knit now, wary of the language change and Marrokamir's apparent complacency. "Yes, Bladesmen, I think you're quite correct which is why we best not let that happen yet. This is the Empire of Fastheld, more specifically, Lightholder Crossroads. But more importantly. WHO are you and WHAT are you doing here coming out of that accursed.. thing?" He motions with a nod of his head to the rift.
Marrokamir glances casually toward the rift. Returns his gaze to Lucius. "Who I am is unimportant. If that rift, as you call it, is how I came to be here, then I am at a loss. I was walking through the city of..." His voice trails off and his jaw tightens. "Fastheld? I have never heard of this place."
Amalai takes a few steps forward, perhaps to get a better view of the tall man and the Bladesmen surrounding him. She keeps herself pretty covered by other citizens of Fastheld that have gathered about to watch. To say she looks nervous would be a slight understatement.
"It appeared here a week ago, out of nowhere. Nothing has gone into it, and nothing has come out...untill now," speaks Norran toward the unusually tall humanoid, a firm grip kept on his longsword although he seems to have backed down from a defensive stance. He remains behind the circle of Blades, but the stranger's height allows him to address him easily enough over the heads of his fellow Blades. "As the Marshal said, this is the Empire of Fastheld, within the Aegis. We are the Emperor's Blades, protectors of this realm."
Harper shifts on the saddle a bit, raising the point of the spear slightly towards the sky, resting the shaft on his shoulder as his arm begins to tire. Ghost snorts quietly and lightly stamps a hoof at the cobble. A bit of a distasteful look crosses his youthful features as he continues to stare intently at the outsider. "Through what city, huh?" he calls out, glancing to a soldier next to him.
"I know nothing of your empire, your Emperor, or your Aegis," the stranger replies. "But if matters are as I suspect they are, then it would be best that I say nothing more of the world I know."
Amalai can't seem to take her eyes off the scene, or more specifically, the man the Blades speak with. Her eyebrows draw in in slight confusion, but she still doesn't speak up.
"No city has ever been here except the one that is here now, atleast not since the Cataclysm. But, I am no scholar," explains the enlisted nobleman aloud, half to the stranger and half toward Paelnor, although his attention turns back to the taller humanoid. "This sort of thing doesn't happen every other fortnight. But atleast he's no giant flying bushdragon," mutters Norran, though mostly to himself.
Lucius Nepos relaxes a little bit, sliding his sword back into its scabbard. His shield remains held firmly, though. "Pity for you, then. You come from the Wildlands I imagine? Maybe under the domination of Val'sharax the Arbitrator? Or perhaps beyond that, even.. because there is no other world than the one you stand on." He seems definately convinced of that fact, at least.
"Should probably get it to.." Harper begins to say, cutting himself off as Lucius voices his exact same thought. He nods slightly to himself. "Maybe make him say how big of a force they have..if they're going to attack us or something?" He mostly seems to be talking to a gawking Bladesman standing next to him.
The stranger crosses his lanky arms. "The lands where I dwell are civilized, not wild. I know nothing of this Val'sharax of which you speak. However, it is best that neither of us make further attempts to put names to whats and wheres. Instead, I should return through that rift to where I belong."
Amalai visibly relaxes some as the conversation continues, and looks about over the crowd. She still seems quite interested, and stays put, with her hands rested on her hips.
"Go back through the rift?" Norran asks, looking slightly confused. "A remarkably simple solution," mulls the nobleman to himself, his brow furrowing in a bout of uncertainty before looking back to the stranger. "Could you...could you get rid of it? Afterward? It's distracting," requests Norran of the towering humanoid, rather casually.
"It is simply a term we use for them due to.. circumstances. Most inhabitants of the Wildlands, besides the Wildlings themselves, are not wild. Though I've only met a small portion of them. Val'sharax is a great drake of enormous power." The Marshal waves at the troops to open up the circle in the direction of the rift. "If you think it is a prudent idea to step back into that rift, then go ahead. I for one would not do so for all of Ebonhold's seraphite. But before you do go, tell me - how did you come through that rift and into Fastheld?" He nods in agreeance to Norran's request.
Harper grimaces at the mention of great drakes, apparently reliving some rather unpleasant memories.
"I have no idea how I came through, except that I did," the stranger replies to Lucius. He turns to stare at the crackling scar in the air. "Nothing like *that* showed before me. I was where I was and then I was here." He rubs his chin with his three-jointed fingers. "Has anyone else attempted to pass through it from this side?"
Amalai looks up at the rift as it's spoken of, watching it for a moment before returning her attention to the others. She moves around a few others in the crowd, getting a little closer.
"We've been terribly reluctant to jump headfirst into wholly unnatural gashes in the air. I imagine you could /agree/ with that sort of methodology," Norran answers aloud, the touch of humor now in his voice previously unheard of until now. "As such, we've also been careful to hold back the...curiousity...of others. Looked like some sort of Shadow-Taken wizardry."
"No. Well, yes. But the madmen who tried to run into it were repelled. This thing is unnatural, which is why we have the area under such heavy guard. It is unnatural and it is disrupting our trade and way of life." Lucius Nepos regards the stranger suspiciously. "The more I speak to you, the more I think that perhaps we should bring you to the Emperor. Perhaps he would know what to do."
"Wouldn't know what else it'd be, than Shadow," Harper states in response to Norran's words, frowning at the bladesman. He tightens his grip on his weapon again at the talk of it, the rift recieving another worried look.
Marrokamir furrows his brow. He takes a small pendant from around his neck, depicting a ring of six colorful discs arrayed around a central circle of amber. Experimentally, he flings the pendant toward the rift. There's a faint 'POP!' and then a scattering of dust as the pendant is destroyed by its contact with the rift. "Repelled?" the stranger muses. He shakes his head. "I want no more contact with your ... empire ... than already has occurred. Untold damage might be caused by such interference."
Amalai follows the pendant with her eyes as its thrown at the rift. She furrows her brows, and begins to inch over toward the tavern.
Norran's own green eyes follow the pendant carefully, widening slightly at it's destruction. "It looks like treading lightly has paid off," idly notes the Lomasa to himself, leaning the blade of his longsword once again on his shoulder as he looks back to the stranger. "Well, a grand majority of our people with not hail your arrival with feasts and galas. Your height alone will attract notice. I won't even guess what the Church would attempt."
"Repelled by us soldiers. We made sure they didn't get into it, is what we mean. As soon as it sprung up, Blades were posted here." Lucius quirks his helmeted head to the side. "What do you mean, untold damage? Who are you? Where are you from, that you will cause damage simply from being here? Were I a suspicious man, and I am not, I would have labelled you Touched. And no doubt, people who would do so are on their way or will hear of you soon enough. Be on yours or I will take you to the only safe place that there is, here. The Emperor might protect you. Others will not." The pendant turning to dust causes a frown. "It looks as if you are not going to be going back, unless you wish that to happen to you."
"No, it does not appear that I will be going back," the stranger agrees. "But I cannot stay here. Night is falling." He looks up at the moons and his eyes narrow. His gaze shifts, taking in the stars. Moments pass, his eyes drifting back and forth, in a calculating pause similar to the one that led to his acquisition of the local language. Finally, he says, "This is my world. The moons are those I have known all my life. But the stars ..." He tilts his head, fingers steepled before himself. "The stars are tens of thousands of years out of alignment. Forward or back, I cannot tell. I will know more with the dawn, when I can see the sun and judge its age. Until then, I will keep my counsel in the wilderness. If I determine that my knowledge can do no harm to you and your people, then I will agree to visit your Emperor."
Now standing to the side of the entrance to the tavern, Amalai keeps her eyes ahead as she fishes around inside the haversack, in search of something. Finally, she retrieves a chunk of bread wrapped in a white cloth, which she begins eating rather quickly.
"What are your orders, Marshal? Many have witnessed this, and I'm sure news will spread quickly," mentions Norran after the stranger speaks, taking a look over the darkening Crossroads.
"Whatever harmful knowledge you have, stranger, your mere presence has already doubtlessly caused. Let him go, Bladesman. There is nothing we can do to stop him, I suspect." The Marshal quirks his head to the side. "You say you are from tens of thousands of years away.. this is greatly disturbing."
"To me as well, I assure you," the stranger replies, inclining his head to the Marshal and then turning to walk past the rift, toward the Imperial woodlands. "And far more than you could ever know," he mutters to the moonlit shadows that swallow him and leave only the faintest cerulean aura around the figure as he fades into the night.