Light's Reach (Forest District)
The first township established by House Mikin outside of the old city (now known as the Shadow District), Light's Reach was founded by Fahral Mikin atop a mound of grassy earth called Eastwatch Hill some six hundred and fifty years ago, as the mortar still dried on the uppermost battlements of the Aegis surrounding the Imperial realm.
The buildings are of quarried gray Nillu stone, their walls kept clean of crawling vines that might otherwise encroach and give them a greater sense of antiquity. Wooden shutters angle out from many open windows when weather permits.
The township derives its name rather literally from the fact that it has become a beacon in the heart of the Forest District: Four high stone towers rise at the four corners of Light's Reach, with great lanterns kept blazing throughout the night, to stave off the evils of the Shadow. Fahral Mikin was rather obsessed with the defeat of darkness, particularly after the death of his youngest son, Allal. That son fought in the first Wildling War in service to Emperor Talus Kahar I, and died in the bloody betrayal at the Valley of Blades, where Zahir treachery let the Wildlings overwhelm the Bladesmen.
The town center includes the Warm Shining Tavern, a Church of True Light temple, Light's Reach Mercantile, and the local constabulary. Shadowcull Keep, the legendary home of Surector Gell Mikin - direct descendant of Fahral Mikin - looms on a hill to the northeast. Other Mikin nobility hold keeps along the road the proceeds away from town. Most notable among these keeps are West Bluff and East Bluff - the torch tower guardians and practically mirror images of each other in design.
Zurhael Zahir steps out of a carriage, tossing the driver a small bag of coins. He looks around, hands akimbo on his hips. "So, this is Light's Reach. Can't say I'm impressed." He chuckles to himself, almost stepping on a squirrel as he walks toward the tavern.
Fionnlagh guides his horse into town, escorted by a pair of foresters....one young and one old, and a massive white wolf who lopes alongside the horse, over three feet high at the shoulder. His course takes him towards the auction house at a fast clop.
Zurhael Zahir is busily walking towards the tavern, small furry animals taking care not to get trodden underfoot.
Katrin comes out of the tavern, frowning a little bit, her eyes narrowed slightly from thought. She slowly makes her way towards the stables, takign care to avoid running into anyone.
Fionnlagh continues his course, generally moving towards the pair with his escorts. Snowshadow, the white wolf, notes Katrin before the others, and goes loping off to greet her with nuzzles to the hand. This of course draws Fionnlagh's attention, and he and his two guards head towards her at an easy pace.
Zurhael Zahir hmphs as he strides haughtily towards the tavern. "Damnable Mikins," he mutters to himself. Anyone near him might note the House Zahir raven on his chest.
Katrin stops dead coming out of the Tavern as she notes teh Zahir raven. Her cheeks go rather pale, and she presses a hand against her heart. Fainting appears to be high on the list of things to do, until Snowshadow nuzzles her hand, which makes the young woman jump, and snap out of it.
Fionnlagh is startled as Katrin reacts, and kicks his horse's sides, spurring the hooves to a quick run as the two guards with him fan out to either side. The forester rides up to place his horse between Katrin and the nobleman protectively, only then looking down to see just what has caused her fear. As he spots the raven, his jaw sets, and he grimaces a moment before addressing Zurhael authoritatively. "My lord, unless you bear a letter of safe passage, I must demand you leave this town at once, on orders of the Duke's Steward."
Zurhael Zahir scoffs at Fionnlagh. "You dare threaten Harbormaster Zurhael Zahir?" He says, using his oh-so-officious title. His eyes narrow, but he smiles maliciously. "I am only passing through, good /sir/," He enunciates the last word with sarcasm. "Unless you'd like to make something of it, you'll stand down."
Katrin shifts a little behind Firelight, trying to peek over the horse's hindquarters. She continues to stroke Snowshadow gently, shaking a little bit from fear.
Fionnlagh draws his bow from his shoulder, and knocks an arrow calmly, beginning to pull. To either side, behind Zurhael, the old and young foresters move close, drawing their own bows. While Fionnlagh holds at a half-pull, they pull full length. "I am not threatening, my lord Zahir. I am only following my orders. And the Duke's steward has commanded that no Zahirs enter Light's Reach without special permission. If you are just passing through, then I suggest you be on your way, my Lord. I am only doing my duty as a member of the Mikin Forest Guards."
Zurhael Zahir chuckles, shaking his head. "Forester, you /are/ rash. Your Steward has no proof of the link between Duke Zolor Zahir and the events that transpired here as of late. If you strike me down, you /will/ face the full wrath of House Zahir, I assure you." He glances around at the other foresters. "And I'd hardly call this," he gestures around, "a fair fight."
Katrin timidly looks towards the Zahir, and then up at Fionnlagh, "Master Fionnlagh, if I may...what he says is true. The wrath of House Zahir is truly a horrible thing to be around, and rashness can hardly be accepted in such a situation," she says quietly, before ducking back behind the horse, petting Snowshadow for comfort.
Fionnlagh keeps his bow at the half-pull, and shakes his head. "I'm not being rash, my Lord. I'm only following orders. It's not my desire to strike you down, nor should you oblige me to. You may direct complaints of the Steward's commands to the Duke. I only enforce the rules, I don't make them, my lord. It isn't my choice."
Zurhael Zahir scratches his chin. "I see... so, what you're saying is..." he glances at Katrin before continuing. "..nothing but a puppet, then? You'd take on an army of Wildlings, as long as you were told to by your Steward? I'd listen to your wench, forester."
Katrin scowls at Zurhael, "Just who do you think you're calling a wench?!" she snaps, her eyes flashing at the man angrily. She steps out from behind the horse to glower at the man, her eyes narrowed slightly.
Fionnlagh inclines his head politely. "If it suffices you to call me so, my Lord, you may. But the fact remains that the Duke's steward has ordered that all Zahirs be turned out, and I must obey it. It is not within my discretion to do otherwise, my Lord."
Zurhael Zahir sneers at Katrin. "I believe I was addressing you, wench." He turns back to Fionnlagh. "Indeed. Well, this certainly was entertaining. Walk in the light, forester." He adds almost mocklingly, turning around to hail a passing carriage, cape fluttering in the breeze.
Zurhael Zahir hires a passing carriage and it pulls up so they can board.
Katrin growls at Zurhael, "Light knows I hate those Zahirs," she mutters, almost shaking from anger. "Jeez, I didn't even /do/ anything this time, and I'm being called a wench..."
Fionnlagh glances to Katrin, giving her a warning look, but a gentle word. "Keep your head, Katrin." He grimaces faintly at the Zahir's parting words, but inclines his head politely. "And yourself, my Lord."
The two forester's flanking the Zahir walk their horses back with easy nudges of their knees, making plenty of room for the Zahir to board his carriage. Snowshadow looks up at Katrin, then at the Zahir, and adds a growl of its own to match hers, ears twitching.
Katrin pats Snowshadow on the head lightly, as if to help calm the wolf's temper, as well as her own. She nods to Fionnlagh, "Forgive me, Master Fionnlagh," she says quietly, bowing, taking a few retreating steps.
Zurhael Zahir climbs aboard onto the carriage, flashing another mocking smile towards the group as the driver whips the horses into motion.
Fionnlagh nods his thanks to the two foresters, and then unknocks his arrow once the carriage is well away, returning it to his quiver and the bow to his shoulder before sliding off Firelight's back. He shakes his head, glancing towards the carriage, and then steps closer to Katrin, looking at her with concern. "Are you alright, Katrin? I am sorry for his rudeness to you. It does little to improve my opinion of his House."
Katrin smiles weakly, "It's alright, I'm used to the rude comments from men," she says quietly. "And...not all people from his House are bad, Master Fionnlagh. Most are, but not all of them," she adds softly, looking down at the ground.
Fionnlagh offers a small smile, reaching to lay a hand on her shoulder lightly. "I apologize for it, all the same. Not all men are rude, either. And aye, I think well of the Contessa Tomasa. She was a great aid during the incident with the statue. I've given her a letter of safe passage and my ring in token. Come ... I was just headed to the auction house. We've some new furniture to pick up."
Return to Season 4 (2004)