Throne Room <Fastheld Keep>
The high ceilings of this gray stone chamber are supported by rows of massive columns along an aisle that features a purple carpet that extends from the arched entrance to the Emperor's throne room and ends at the first step of the dais that holds the gleaming majesty of the Imperial throne - a chair of gold, armrests encrusted in jewels, back and seat cushioned with stuffed pillows covered with crimson velvet.
Torches flicker in stanchions attached to the columns. The fluttering wings and twitter of birds can occasionally be heard in the shadows overhead, where the fowl have nested after coming into the estate through one of the balconies or the courtyard.
The seal of Fastheld - a crown within a dark, unbroken circle - is on the tapestry that hangs behind and above the throne of Talus Kahar.
Emperor Talus Kahar XIV is sitting upon the throne, reading an unscrolled parchment as a raven flutters in through an open window and settles on a roost near an aide. The aide steps over, unfastens a loop of leather around the raven's leg, and detaches a small cylinder of parchment. The raven squawks, then waits. A herald stands near the throne room entrance, and turns to see Likan and Katrin as they arrive. The herald straightens, clears his throat and inquires: "Have you an appointment to see His Majesty?"
Likan holds Katrin about the shoulders protectively, but says nothing.
Katrin steps into the Throne Room, shaking her head, "I fear not. I have come to beg for an audience from His Majesty," she says quietly, and slowly, pressing her lips together slightly.
The herald lifts his chin. "It's not commoners' day. You appear to be commoners. The next commoners' day should be next month."
Likan looks to Katrin, a question on his lips, but he is silent.
Katrin straightens her shoulders proudly, "I am not a commoner. I am Dianna Lomasa of East Leg," she says quietly. "I have come to speak with His Majesty reguarding the events which have brought shame to my House."
That gets a double-take from the herald, who almost says something else, but thinks better of it. Without another word, he motions for Katrin to remain where she is for now, and then walks toward the throne. "Begging your forgiveness, Your Highness, but a woman of common appearance has arrived, claiming to be the Lady Dianna Lomasa." Emperor Talus Kahar barely lifts his eyebrows, continuing to read the parchment in his hand as he replies, "Yes, Manar, and next you'll be telling me that a bird claiming to be Goram Zahir has fluttered into the pantry." The herald shifts, twisting his mouth uncomfortably, then says, "She appears rather serious about this, Majesty, and indicated some urgency in the matter." The Emperor scowls, twisting the parchment into a cylinder and handing to the Manar: "Tell me, when do I receive visitors who demonstrate a sense of anything *but* urgency?" He sighs, shakes his head, then says, "I'll humor her." The herald turns, then motions for Katrin to approach.
Likan watches the herald carefully, nervously shifting from foot to foot.
Katrin nods her head silently to the herald, taking a step foward, slowly, nudging Likan back, leaning to whisper to him softly. She moves down the aisle slowly, with grace, towards the throne. Stopping a little away from the throne, and step, she goes into a deep bow, one of great respect, "Your Highness, I beg your forgiveness for intruding upon your important business."
Talus Kahar inclines his head to Katrin. "What business do you have with the throne? You claim to be the Lady Dianna Lomasa, I am led to understand."
Likan tries to follow, then seeing the guards, stands and nervously watches Katrin approach the throne.
"I am Dianna Lomasa," the woman says quietly, her tone still respectful. "I have to you to to beg that you call off the Surrector. Despite what he thinks, I am not Shadow-Touched, and I have never been."
"If you are who you claim to be, then the question of whether you are Shadow-touched or not is rather academic," the Emperor replies, tapping the fingers of his right hand on the armrest of his throne. "I was led to believe that you had died at the hands of brigands."
"Who the brigands were, I would not know, but after time in their hands, I was released," Katrin says quietly. "It is a possibility they were of East Leg, my hometown, wanting to help me, not thinking of the consequences, should they be caught," she ponders aloud, before bowing again, "I was frightened once released, and I left my name behind, leaving Vozhdya in order to protect those there."
Talus Kahar raises a hand. "Spare me further lies, Lady Lomasa. I tire of them. Your convenient disappearance on the eve of your surrender to Gell Mikin was a conspiracy. By my estimation, it probably did involve your kin, but it also required the collaboration of my own kin, Markus Kahar. Give me the full truth of your vanishment and I will consider leniency for your part in this."
"As far as I know, Markus Kahar was an innocent bystander in that," Katrin says, pondering over the thought carefully. "He had given me his word that he would do nothing, and allow me to face the Surrector. I have no doubt someone was involved in the 'abduction', yet I was released, the men all well covered, and in the dark, it was hard to make out any faces."
"No one has been innocent in this entire wretched affair, from your treacherous coupling with Cygony Zahir to your former husband's antics to your miraculous disappearance," the Emperor growls. "And if you say the Emperor's Hawk continued to trouble you after your 'kidnapping,' that suggests even *he* was complicit to a degree in this conspiracy's aftermath. You, Lady Lomasa, are nothing but trouble, Shadow-touched or not. Your insistence to press this issue has opened a bag of snakes that will leave no one unbitten."
Katrin presses her lips together slightly, before nodding her head, "Your Highness, it is impossible for me to change what I have done in the past, and there is no excuse for what I have done. If I /could/ take it back, I would, but no one can do such a thing. I only insist on this, because I have no wish to have harm come to those I care for. I wish for this to all end, so I may live a normal life, unmolested by the Surrector."
Talus Kahar narrows his eyes at Katrin. "You fool! If Gell Mikin wanted to harm you, you would be harmed already!" He stands upon the dais of his throne, glowering at the woman. "A normal life? I do not believe it is *possible* for a well-dressed gutter harlot like you to *live* a normal life. I do not believe you can be satisfied with the simple pleasures of going from one day to another *without* being the center of a whirlwind of strife! I will make a full inquiry into this matter, from Markus Kahar to Gell Mikin. This conspiracy will be fully exposed." Flustered, red in the face, the Emperor takes a few deep breaths and settles back into his throne. "Go. You are no longer welcome in the palace."
"Please," Katrin says, desperation in her voice, "I care not for titles or money, or anything else, besides being able to live in peace, with those I love," she explains, her voice shaking. "That is all I ask for. To not have to live in fear of the Surrector coming to take me for being Shadow-Touched, when I am not."
"Are you really just this stupid?" Emperor Talus Kahar inquires, his voice dropping, sounding dangerously low. "If Gell Mikin knew you were alive, if he knew about the conspiracy, he could have had you dragged off at any time. That he didn't means he most likely was keeping your situation a secret because of the very scandal you are exposing. Right now, I assure you, Gell Mikin is the *least* of your worries. You leave me no choice but to bring down my full wrath upon the elements of House Kahar in Vozhdya, as well as any other conspirators who aided in your disappearance. You *had* a chance at a normal life, by disappearing. By reappearing, you ruin that chance - and you ruin the good names of others." He crosses his arms and shakes his head. "Go. I will not tell you again."
"I /never/ had a chance at a normal life when Gell Mikin was lurking about," Katrin says, her voice trembling. "Please, leave the Vozhd-Kahars out of it. As it was my fault that any of this occurred, I should be the one to take the punishment." She shudders slightly, wrapping her arms around herself.
A couple of guards move forward from the throne. The herald moves to her side, saying, "The Emperor has spoken, Lady Lomasa."
"Your Highness, please, I am at fault, so I should pay," Katrin says again. "The Vozhd-Kahars do not deserve to be punished for something when their part in all of this mess was minor, at most."
"Lady Lomasa," the herald continues, as the Emperor beckons for a scribe, "you must leave now. Enough harm has been done. Do no more."
"Harm will be done to innocent people, that do not deserve it," Katrin replies to the herald, loud enough for the Emperor to hear. "Nobles, and royals are meant to protect those that are in need of it. The Vozhd-Kahars are the innocents in this."
"The Vozhd-Kahars perpetrated a fraud against the crown," the herald says, shaking his head. "Do not press this matter further, my lady. His Majesty is angry enough. Allow others to answer for their actions. Go now while you still can."
"They do not deserve it," Katrin repeats, but bows before the Emperor, "Please, I hope that you will be merciful upon the Vozhd-Kahars. They deserve no punishment, only I," she says quietly, before starting to slowly make her way towards the door.
The herald looks a little sympathetic to the woman's plight, but the Emperor is occupied with the arrival of a scribe bearing a portable writing lecturn and parchment. "Prepare a letter to Duke Markus Kahar," the Emperor commands the scribe.
Katrin continues slowly towards the door, before leaving, a look of failure in her eyes.
The herald moves back into position near the doors to the Rulers Passage, clasping his hands behind his back. Talus Kahar begins to dictate a letter, summoning the patriarch of Vozhdya for an audience.
Return to Season 2 (2004)