Courtyard <Shadowcull Castle>

The courtyard sits inside the inner wall, and is dominated by the huge square keep, its own stubby towers projecting into the sky above. This area is always lively, and several small artisan shops line the inner wall, along with a guard barracks and stables. The massive doors the the keep loom ahead, however, with their guards alert, pikes sharp and resting on their brawny shoulders.
It is a temperate night. The air is stagnant, not stirring with the slightest breeze. Misty white fog roils across the landscape.

Gell Mikin walks outside the walls of the main keep, mist wrapping around his ankles as he strolls through the moonlit shadows.

From Torch's saddle, Tomassa Zahir approaches the Keep at a gallop, but slows as she draws nearer to the entrance. "Surrector Tomassa Zahir to see Gell Mikin!" her husky voice shouts to the guards on duty. She briskly dismounts in a swirl of black velvet cloak, taking the reins of the shire in one hand.

The guards nod to Tomassa, then turn toward Gell. They don't have to announce it, though. Her voice echoes off the walls of the compound. Under the flickering glow of one torch, the cloaked form of Gell Mikin turns and glowers in Tomassa's direction. "Go away."

Tomassa Zahir leads her horse inside, but simply releases the reins rather than leading him to the stable. The well-trained equine lowers his head a little and seems content to stand in place where his reins dangle. Tomassa strolls toward the shape of the former Surrector in her dulled obsidian armor. Clad in such darkness, she almost seems a shadow, herself. "I expected such a greeting," she admits as she pauses and looks the man over. "You seem much better than it has been reported."

"Do I?" Gell growls. "Because I do not feel at all well." He stares at the newly annointed Surrector. He reaches up with his right hand, jostling the fingers - charred and uncharred - dangling from his new necklace. His good eye narrows. "What do you want?"

"For many years, you have served Fastheld as its Shadowhunter. Your experience is vast. It would indeed be a folly to not make use of such knowledge," Tomassa states as she reaches up to pull off her helmet. She shakes out her ear-length hair and quirks a brow at her predecessor. "I am here to offer you employment, Mikin. Do you prefer to languish here in your Keep or would you welcome further opportunity to hunt?"

Gell Mikin scoffs harshly. "You came here to *insult* me, by throwing some scraps at my feet? No, Lady Surrector, I will *not* work for you. You are a Zahir. You are a woman. You are an affront to the office! I will *not* be reduced to your lackey." Scowling, he stalks back toward the guards and the doors of his keep. "Serve the Emperor. I serve the Light."

Tomassa Zahir's scowl mirrors Gell's as she watches him turn away. "I came out of -respect-," she calls after him. "Because you are *Gell Mikin*. I did not think that you would hold my gender or my House against me - not when the Emperor himself has chosen me to follow you. If you think I am not fit for this office, then -teach- me!" There is challenge to her words. "Make me into the Surrector you would have follow in your footsteps!"

Gell Mikin stops near the doors, turning, his body cast half in shadow, half in the illumination of the glowing moons in the sky above. After a long few moments of silence, the retired Surrector shakes his head and says, "No. Find your own way. You want to make it on your own terms? You want to prove your worth? Do it without my help. Succeed on your own, and I will have no grounds to question your competence. Or the Emperor's." The guards pull open the doors. "Don't look to me for guidance." Gell stalks onward toward the open doors.

Tomassa Zahir watches the old Surrector until he is within his Keep, expression enigmatic. She puts her helmet back upon her head, fastening it in place. Purposeful steps take her to her waiting horse. Gathering the reins, Tomassa mounts Torch and turns him back toward the entrance.

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