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Throne Room <Fastheld Keep> ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: (Indoors) (Cover: Good) (Owner: Talus Kahar)

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.

Zolor Zahir is here. The masterpiece Battle of Rolling Green is here. A decorative Obsidian Scimitar rests here.


Also here: Tribunal Guard Marker, Fastheld Courier Service Obvious exits: Leave Throne Room <LTR>


Tomassa stops outside of the throne room to speak to those that guard the entrance. Quietly, she requests an audience with Zolor.

The guards nod to Tomassa, waving her in. The herald announces: "Tomassa Zahir!" The Emperor glances over from his shadow-cloaked throne.

Tomassa strolls inward at an easy pace, moving straight up the room's center and bypassing the midpoint she regarded as important yesterday without so much as batting an eye. Stopping before the throne, the woman eases into a rather formal bow, the unusual fur of her cloak brushing the floor. "Your Majesty," she says.

Zolor Zahir inclines his head in acknowledgement of Tomassa. "What brings you before us this afternoon?"

"Questions, requests, and information," Tomassa admits with a faint smile. "I have been," she admits as she clasps her hands behind her back, "Taking food to the dungeon's prisoners. It has proven quite effective in learning their feelings on the coup."

"Indeed?" the Emperor replies, interlacing his fingers. He waits, the silence conveying expectation.

"There is confusion among those who served as Bladesmen," the Zahiress relates. "But I believe that if you call Lucius Nepos before you, you will find that he is as willing to serve you as he was the last regime. The actual -person- of the Emperor seems of little matter to him as long as he -has- an Emperor to serve."

Zolor Zahir nods as he considers Tomassa's analysis. "See that he is brought before me, then. I would be most curious to hear from his own mouth that he would willingly serve me, after being so preachy to the guards who take him into custody yesterday."

One corner of Tomassa's mouth quirks. "I believe his pride was wounded that he was as easily herded away as any other. The Freelander seems to have enjoyed what bit of power he has wielded." She conversationally laments, "Tis a shame about Sahna Nillu. I would be impressed with her integrity toward her word were it not _Ester_ she defended." There is just a hint of disdain at the Surrector's name, but not enough to reveal the true depth of what the woman feels toward her. Tomassa unclasps her hands and absently gestures with one. "You have imprisoned two others that I wish to bring to your attention," she murmurs.

"Go on," Zolor says, nodding.

Tomassa draws in a breath and exhales it through her nose, a faint, wry smile coalescing upon her features. "A Zahir has been imprisoned. A Bladesman by the name of Aylor. It seems that he resisted when the coup took place, but..." She lifts both hands in front of her chest as she shrugs and lightly grins. "I'm not quite sure he was intelligent enough to realize what was happening. He continues to spout loyalty to the old regime, but I truly think he doesn't know any better." Her smile becomes quiet and genuine. "I think some time in the dungeon will do him good, frankly, but I confess that I should not like to see him fall to worse punishment. He..." She trails off and gathers her words. "Honestly, his hair reminds me of Shalis and his dumb determination reminds me of Corriden Lomasa," is her amused admission. "Two entirely selfish reasons to spare him harm, I admit, but I shall defer to your judgement."

Zolor Zahir ponders this for a few moments and then says, "I will hear him and make a decision based on my assessment of his attitude. If he fails to satisfactorily indicate fealty to the Crown, then I will allow you to keep his head, if the hair means that much to you."

Tomassa's chin dips in acknowledgement, her eyes lowering for that moment as well. "Kenneth Fionnlagh also takes up space in your cells," she states as her chin lifts. "I have better reasons for wishing him to be spared from harm."

"Oh?" the Emperor asks.

"He has long been my spy," the former Contessa admits. "Against the Mikins and... others such as Dianna Lomasa. I should not like to see him come to harm as he is quite skilled at gathering information without drawing attention to himself. Nonetheless, those are the very attributes that compel me to suggest that you -keep- him in the dungeons at this time. The forester would be a useful set of eyes and ears to the conversations between the current prisoners. As for his safety, I humbly request that his service to me and my fondness for him be taken into account when the time comes."

Zolor Zahir nods. "And so it shall be. Any other matters that the Crown should consider?"

Tomassa's lips purse and she considers for a moment. "There... are," she cautiously admits, "Though I should ask to be granted the chance to ask you a few questions, first." The copper of her gaze studies the newly placed Emperor with quiet assessment.

"Ask your questions," Zolor says with a faint shrug in the shadows.

The silence stretches as Tomassa lowers her head, gaze studying her feet for a moment. Then, quietly, simply, she asks, "What are your feelings on the Church?'

"It has its uses," the Emperor answers.

"And what place shall they take under your power?" Tomassa counters, her eyes lifting again to look at Zolor.

Zolor Zahir shrugs. "Certain compromises were necessary to ensure their cooperation in the establishment and support of a new regime, of course. But they will remain apart from the dealings of the Crown so long as the Crown gives the Church no reason to interfere."

The woman's unhappy receipt of that news is plain in the set of her face. "I see," Tomassa murmurs. "I... have information that might aid you in how you will deal with them." Tomassa's words are quietly spoken and her fingers toy with the thin, strawberry blond braid of hair that encircles her right wrist like a bracelet.

Zolor nods. He scratches briefly at his left cheek, stifles a yawn and then says, "Yes, yes. Go on."

Words fall from Tomassa's lips in quiet, weighty pronouncement. "The Church has absolutely no ability to detect Shadow power in someone unless that person reveals himself by his own actions."

"I eagerly await the *news* in this," the Emperor responds.

Both of Tomassa's brows lift. "You knew?" she asks in genuine surprise. "You _knew_ that most of the people they have tortured and killed were likely guilty of nothing more than giving the wrong reply? You knew that Gell Mikin was nothing more than a murderous madman?"

Zolor Zahir sighs, shaking his head. "I knew that Gell Mikin was a *Mikin*. Calling him a Mikin *and* a murderous madman is rather redundant, actually." He chuckles. "Anyone with half a functioning brain in this realm should have known the Church picked and chose its targets based on credibility or the lack thereof. Only rarely could they persecute or kill a *genuine* Touched person, because most have the good sense to guard their talents closely."

Still visibly surprised, Tomassa's expression edges into wry amusement. "I suppose I was naive," she murmurs. "People thought I did not serve as dutifully as Gell because I did not maim or kill as many as he did." Shaking herself, slightly, she inhales, "Well. As it seems I have nothing more to offer at this time, I suppose I shall be on my way, then." Tomassa almost begins to bow, but stops herself. "Forgive my forays into the dungeon? One can only walk the castle grounds so many times, you know."

Zolor Zahir smiles tautly. "Forgiven, if you do one more favor for the Crown. Tell the guards I wish to see Ashlynn Birch. At once."

Tomassa tilts her head and inclines it as well as her body, offering a slight, sharp bow. "As you command, my Emperor," she responds with a quick grin. One hand grasps the edge of her cloak as she turns away, anchoring it somewhat as she stalks toward the doors at the back of the room.


DOWN BELOW

In the Dank Corridor, to be a dungeon, there has certainly been a lot of foot traffic in its hallways of late. Stalking, purposeful steps echo off the walls further down the tunnel, growing crisper in sound as they get closer.

From Dungeon Cell, Leaning against the bars with hands draped over bent knees as she struggles to untangle her hair and bind it in a neater plait, Ashlynn tilts her head with squinted eyes, watching the corridor's entrance warily over the curve of her shoulder.


Dank Corridor <Fastheld Keep> ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: (Indoors) (Cover: Fair) (Owner: Talus Kahar)

A narrow corridor, about four feet wide and eight feet high, it runs twenty feet from the northwestern bend that leads to the tower to the eastern bend, deeper into the dungeon.

The cobbled stone walls are slick with moisture and twists of root sprawl across the ceiling.

Heavy iron doors leading into the cramped cells of the Fastheld dungeon line the corridor.

You appear to be alone here. Obvious exits: Cell 2 <C2>, Cell 1 <C1>, East <E>, Northwest <NW>


Tomassa stops outside of the window in the heavy iron door, peering inward. "Ashlynn Birch," announces a husky contralto. "The Emperor requests the honor of your presence in the throne room."

From Dungeon Cell, "Emperor..." Ashlynn echoes with a quick flash of bared teeth before she trains her expression back into blankness, unfolding herself from the floor with only a slight stiffness. "How kind of him to get to me so quickly," she says with a bland tone. "I am ready."

Tomassa steps back from the door and gestures to the guard at her side with a sharp motion. With a jangling of keys, he works the lock and the former Surrector pulls open the cell's door. The Zahir's expression is neutral as the guard reaches in for the prisoner.

From Dungeon Cell, Ashlynn pulls back, a frown flickering across her face. "I will walk on my own. Rather foolish, don't you think, for me to attempt something now?"

"She has a point," Tomassa says to the guardsman, idly waving him away with one hand. "I shall escort her. Lock the door, fool, before Dianna propositions you."

From Dungeon Cell, Looks sharply toward Tomassa for the last dig before she shakes her head with a disbelieving snort, stepping out when the guard moves aside and striding down the corridor ahead of the former surrector.

From Dungeon Cell, A dark sigh comes from the direction of Wilesly's cell. "It's always the waiting that is the worst part.", his voice observes.

Tomassa -almost- grins, her steps turning to pace steadily behind Ashlynn as the guard quickly secures the door once more.

From Dungeon Cell, Ashlynn heads into Dank Corridor. Ashlynn arrives from Dungeon Cell From Dungeon Cell, Ashlynn has left. Ashlynn has arrived.


UP ABOVE

Tomassa's steps are just quick enough to draw her even with Ashlynn as they depart the palace's dank dungeons. Nonetheless, the woman doesn't take the former consort's elbow or obviously act as if she is insuring her path. She moves with her along the entire route to the throne room.

With ample time to prepare, this time Ashlynn's expression is serenely smooth as she pauses upon the threshold, taking a long look around to note those present and the subtle changes made before she approaches the throne. At the prescribed number of paces before the throne, she stops, her gaze boldly meeting the Zahir's as she gives a shallow bow.

"Ashlynn Birch," Zolor Zahir says with just the hint of a smirk on his thin lips. "The transition to the new regime is proceeding rather smoothly, but there is the matter of what I should do with the tattered remnants of bygone days. Surely, you must agree that it would be the wisest course of action to mitigate and marginalize all potential threats to the Crown. Further, it cannot be contested that, as the former Consort of the late Emperor who specifically benefitted from the misfeasance that contributed to this transition, you pose no small concern for the Crown. The question upon us: What is to be done with you?"

Tomassa does not proceed as far into the room as the prisoner. The Zahiress' steps draw her to the room's center, but no more, allowing an illusion of privacy to the Emperor and Ashlynn. In a habitual gesture, Tomassa's left hand drifts upward to cup the pommel of her sword, lightly resting there.

"Surely there is little to fear from a common-born courier?" Ashlynn returns evenly. "I would not insult your intelligence by attempting to pretend...immediate loyalty. But I have learned that even an emperor must occasionally bow to greater pressures...or, at least, throw them a scrap or two. I am not foolish enough to attempt an even greater feat."

Zolor Zahir nods as he considers the courier's comments. "I would prefer to limit the bloodshed required to secure the complete transfer of authority to the new regime. As such, I would quite like to let you walk out of the gates of this palace under your own power and with your head firmly affixed to your neck. I will allow this, if you do one small thing for the Crown."

Ashlynn shifts her weight, the first hint of unease beginning to seep into her demeanor as she asks, "What might that be?"

Tomassa attempts to remain impassive, but even she feels a twinge of curiosity.

A herald approaches Ashlynn. In one hand, he bears a parchment scroll. In the other, he holds a tray that carries an inkwell and a quill - the very inkwell and quill Ashlynn so often used to chronicle the meetings of the Imperial Council. The Emperor says, "You must sign a paper declaring your fealty to Emperor Zolor Zahir, acknowledging that your life, your lands ... and the lives and lands of your beloved family, of whom Emmon eventually spoke so highly ... will be forfeit should you act against the interests of the Crown."

Ashlynn's facade cracks as she stares at the well-known implements and listens to his ultimatum, a shudder passing through her frame as she struggles to suppress her immediate reaction. "Emmon?" she asks hoarsely, trying to distract herself. "Where is he now?"

"Elsewhere," Zolor answers. He nods toward the tray as the herald holds the parchment scroll out to Ashlynn. "Sign."

Behind Ashlynn, there is no hint of sympathy from Tomassa as the woman remains still.

Ashlynn reaches out with a trembling hand to take the quill, poising it over the inkwell before she hesitates. "What if..." She licks dry lips before attempting again, "What if...I were to offer to remain here? Let me help with the care of Talus, perhaps, to keep me busy. A familiar voice would surely help to keep him more tractable after all the recent upsets of being orphaned and with the change in power; he is, after all, more excitable and prone to fits of temper than most children due to his handicap. And I would be under constant observation. There would never be any doubt, then."

Zolor Zahir smiles thinly, leaning back in the throne and lacing his fingers together as he utters: "Handicap? What handicap?"

This time, Tomassa's curiosity manifests itself in her eyes as she begins to study Ashlynn.

Ashlynn's gaze jerks up, narrowing with uncertainty upon the man before she swallows, takes a deep breath, and states grimly, "Blind. The boy is blind. The Aegis took his sight."

Zolor Zahir ahs and nods, pondering this revelation. "So, when history recounts how Talus Kahar XV never saw the end of his bloodline's days on the throne coming, it will be the literal truth. How splendidly *apt*." He shrugs then and says, "Sign the pact, Ashlynn, and I will consider your request."

Blind. The news does little to change Tomassa's demeanor. She remains quiet and impassive at the center of the room, perhaps unable to be touched by much of anything since all of her recent losses.

Ashlynn looks back down at the parchment, and her lips curl in distaste as she finally dips the pen and then sketches her signature quickly across the bottom, fully aware of the mere formality of the gesture.

"Excellent," the Emperor says as the herald retrieves the parchment and steps back from Ashlynn. "You will be allowed to roam freely about the grounds ... save for the residence, unless you are summoned back here ... until such time as the gates are reopened. By the time the gates reopen, I will make a decision regarding whether you enter service here."

Ashlynn watches the parchment being removed with a preoccupied gaze before Zahir's words draws her attention back to him. There is a beat or two in which she absorbs the shift in her situation before she executes a stiff bow. "Please, feel free to summon me if you would like any further details to help with such a decision," she offers with the sort of mad humor that comes from tension borne too long.

The Emperor nods and then gestures toward the exit. "You may go."

From behind the former Consort, Tomassa's voice casually inquires, "Shall I bring Nepos now, Your Majesty?" Her hand drifts from her sword to fall casually at her side.

"Yes. Nepos," Zolor answers. "Bring him. And put the axeman on standby."

Ashlynn's jaw tightens sharply at Zolor's casual pronouncement, but she turns upon her heel before she can think of further reactions, walking rapidly from the room.

"As you command, my Emperor," Tomassa responds, a touch of ironic humor in her features. She seems to enjoy saying that to Zolor for some reason as evidenced by the slight grin it brings each time. Turning, she follows after Ashlynn at a slower pace.

Ashlynn heads into Rulers Passage. Ashlynn has left.


DOWN BELOW

From Dungeon Cell, Lucius Nepos stands in his cell, currently donning his armor once more. At the moment he seems to be doing the finishing touches - putting his bracers on with a click, he then moves to the gauntlets. From Dungeon Cell, Lucius Nepos equips Imperial Plate Vambraces.

Tomassa's steps are rapid and purposeful as she approaches the cell again. She does -not- return with Ashlynn, the last prisoner she took. Pausing, she looks into the cell door and arches an eyebrow at Lucky's movements. "Must you put all of that on?" the woman asks in disappointed tones with a mock-sigh.

From Dungeon Cell, A light chuckle comes from Sly's cell. "You see knapsack. You've even an admirer at your lowest low.", Wilesly jests with a light laugh. He's been keeping himself busy with a cheery tavern melody.

From Dungeon Cell, "It is a simple of my duty, Grace, and it makes sure that I am in a presentable form for His Majesty." Lucius seems to have either not noticed Tomassa's jestful sigh, or has chosen not to, his gauntlets slipping over dirt caked fingers. Finally, the Marshal hefts his shield and straps it on his back by way of a leather strap, then picks his helm up, which is clasped to a ring on his belt. "T'would be nice to think so, yes." He does seem to crack now; a little smirk appears at one side of his lips.

From Dungeon Cell, Lucius Nepos equips Imperial Plate Gauntlets.

"How soon he's forgotten what I once admitted to him," Tomassa murmurs to Sly as her own mouth smirks. She jangles a key in the lock and pulls the heavy door open.

From Dungeon Cell, With nothing really to leave behind and his waterskin fastened securely on his belt, Lucius exits the cell without any sort of looking back. Good riddance, Mr. Dank Cell. Again, he offers a courteous bow to Tomassa. "I haven't forgot, Grace." He winks, and the smirk remains in place.

From Dungeon Cell, Fionnlagh stirs from his sleep, and sits up, running his fingers through his hair. There's the sound of a yawn from his cell, and the groan of stretching muscles, followed by the inevitable. Squeak! Crunch! It's his own private hunting preserve. Pity the game are so small.

Tomassa pushes the door to Nepos' cell closed, locking it out of habit. The keys jangle together as she absently slides the ring over her wrist like an overly large bracelet. "This way," she says to the Dagger, but her steps pause at Fionnlagh's cell. "Awake, are you?" she call inward. "Those are going to be rather disgusting by the time they decompose, you know."

From Dungeon Cell, Lucius Nepos heads into Dank Corridor. Lucius Nepos arrives from Dungeon Cell From Dungeon Cell, Lucius Nepos has left. Lucius Nepos has arrived.

"If he eats them he'll have little problem with that." Notes Nepos, his boots crunching against the compacted earth for the last time as he exits. Now, they give a familiar clopping sound on the cobbled stone floors, and he stretches out. The Marshal waits for Tomassa to lead the way.

From Dungeon Cell, "Do put in a good word for us, Lucius.", Wilesly calls after him with a slight chuckle. He sighs eventually and sinks back against the wall. "What a lovely turn of events.", Sly murmurs to himself.

From Dungeon Cell, "Aye, awake," notes Fionnlagh, reasonably cheerfully, and actually chuckles at the latter. "I was just thinking of starting a bit of hay on fire...a nice rat roast. Besides, animal corpses are my stock in trade, my lady."

Tomassa lifts a hand to stay Lucius for a moment, a small smile upon her lips. "I have spoken for you to the Emperor, Kenneth. Be patient." Turning to Lucius, she casually warns, "The Emperor told me to put the axeman on standby. Just so you know."

"I am unarmed, your Grace." Returns Lucius, arching an eyebrow quizzically.

From Dungeon Cell, "A hunter must be endlessly patient, Tomassa," returns the Forester, chuckling quietly. "This really isn't so much worse than the time I slept in a cave with a hatch of nightsliders. Except the local company is nicer." To Lucius' words, he offers cheerily, "I believe she meant the execution, milord. Mind you, his butchering technique leaves much to be desired."

Tomassa almost says something else, but a glance along the hallway and to Lucius causes her to fall silent. Instead, she simply, lightly, pats the door to Fionnlagh's cell before stepping down the corridor. "This way, Lucius. This way," she exhales.


UP ABOVE

Tomassa opens the doors at the back of the room and, with a mockingly formal gesture, waves Lucius Nepos inward.

Lucius Nepos follows Tomassa into the Throne Room, eyes set straight ahead. He is once more fully armored, except for his shield which is strapped to his back by way of a leather strap running along his armor, and his helmet which is clasped to his belt on a metal ring.

Zolor Zahir observes the arrival of Tomassa Zahir and her companion, Lucius Nepos. The Emperor motions for the soldier to approach the throne.

The former, former Surrector strolls in behind the Dagger, moving until she's once again in the center of the room. Close enough to hear, but far enough away to give the illusion of privacy.

Lucius Nepos does as the Emperor has requested, and when he reaches an appropriate distance from the actual seat of power (which, by the formality of his Freelander status is a few meters away), he bows down as deeply as he can. Just as deeply as he had done with the former Emperor, Talus Kahar XIV, and just as sincerely. "Hail, your Imperial Majesty."

Zolor Zahir offers a wan smile to the Flying Dagger. "Lucius Nepos. The Crown is given to understand that although you were rather upset with the change of authority within the palace yesterday, you have experienced a change of heart. Is this correct?"

"Your Majesty is correct in that I was surprised at the change of authority. I was simply confused at why I had not been informed of such before. Conversely, I support the stability and authority your Majesty brings to the realm, where there was none before." Lucius explains, asserting what he says with a nod.

A herald approaches Lucius with a parchment scroll in one hand and a tray bearing an inkwell and quill in the other. The Emperor says: "You can secure your freedom by signing a pact, declaring fealty to the Crown and acknowledging that any act against the interests of the Crown will result in the forfeiture of your life and lands."

Tomassa clasps her hands behind her back, capturing her fur cloak in the circle of her arms.

"I do so gladly, your Majesty. It is the duty of a Blade to serve both the Crown and the Realm." Says Lucius, looking up directly at the new sovereign of Fastheld. When the herald approaches Lucius with the parchment and quill, the Marshal removes his gauntlets, revealing slightly dirty hands. After all, he did spend a night on a dirt floor. Lifting the quill out of its inkwell and tapping it off to make sure none drips, he moves to sign his name at the bottom of the paper.

Zolor Zahir nods in satisfaction as the herald retrieves the pact and steps away from Lucius. The Emperor says, "You are no longer a prisoner. I am assigning you to protect my new Chamberlain." He nods to Tomassa. "I trust that's acceptable to you, Chamberlain?"

Tomassa draws breath in preparation to release a sigh of relief once Lucius has signed, but the woman almost chokes upon it at Zolor's next pronouncement. She coughs, quickly releasing her hands to slap one against her upper chest. "I... Aye," she says after a moment, looking to Nepos with an arched brow and a small grin.

"Does that mean, Majesty, that I am no longer in command of the Flying Daggers?" Asks Lucius as his hand leaves the quill and drops to his side. His eyebrows both inch up a tad bit, pupils dilating.

"The Flying Daggers were an artifact of the old regime," Zolor replies with a shrug. "Embrace change, Nepos."

Lucius replies quickly, his eyebrows lowering back down. Still, no emotion shows on his face. "Of course, your Majesty. I have one final question, if that is acceptable."

"Ask," the Emperor says.

"Has the Blademaster, Hartnek Lomasa kept his position, or will the former Imperial Justiciar take his place, Majesty?" Comes Lucius's voice, swiftly.

Zolor smiles briefly as he listens to the question. In the end, the smile fades and he says, simply, "The status of that position remains uncertain." Then a curt nod, followed by: "Dismissed."

Lucius Nepos nods, and drops into another properly respectful bow, his hands nearly brushing the floor. "Thank you, Majesty." With that, he turns about and begins to walk out. Still, his features are emotionless.

Tomassa considers Lucius as he approaches her and passes, her gaze drawing back to Zolor. "Shall I fetch anyone else, Majesty?" she politely inquires.

The Emperor ponders the question for a moment and then shakes his head. "No. Let the others wait a while longer."

Tomassa takes a few steps closer, lazily. "I am honored by my new position," the woman's contralto murmurs. "Thank you."

Lucius Nepos continues to walk until he's reached the throne room's entrance; there he turns and waits for his newfound charge to come.

Zolor Zahir nods. "I am certain you will thrive in it. Off you go, then. We will speak again soon."

Turning, there is a small, anticipatory smile upon Tomassa's features as she finds Lucius awaiting her. Swift, purposeful strides carry her in his direction, her cloak flaring outward. "Come, Nepos," she drawls as she passes him.

You head into Rulers Passage.

Rulers Passage <Fastheld Keep> :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: (Indoors) (Cover: Fair) (Owner: Talus Kahar)

Bronze statues of past rulers of Fastheld line this dimly lit stone corridor, which opens onto a balcony to the west and Emperor Talus Kahar's throne room to the east.

This passage also serves as a display gallery for boons of art and treasure bestowed upon the Emperor and his royal family by the nobles who occasionally visit, to pay their respects or seek his aid.

Stairs lead down to the great hall and up into the Imperial personal quarters. Guards of the Emperor's Blades are posted by the stairs, the throne room and the balcony.

You appear to be alone here. Obvious exits: Up the Stairs <UP>, Balcony B, Throne Room <TR>, Down the Stairs <D>


Lucius Nepos arrives from Throne Room Lucius Nepos has arrived.

Lucius Nepos exits the throne room, and once his face is out of sight of the Tribunal soldiers who flank it his features drop. In fact, he looks rather dejected at the news. "Thank you, Grace." He manages to sputter out. "I should retrieve my weapons."

Tomassa's demeanor, too, changes once she is out of the room. She exhales and inhales, glancing toward the stairs as if considering them as a possible place to sit down. Her hand lifts, however, to touch the man's armored shoulder. "I am sorry, Lucius," are her quiet words. "But I shall be glad to have you with me." She lightly pats the metal that protects him, faintly smiling. "Go. Rest. Walk... bathe. Clear your head. I believe I am going to need to do much the same thing."

"I am glad too, Grace, that I am able to serve somebody I have great respect for but..." Lucius has averted Tomassa's gaze until this moment, where his green-blue eyes lift up to engage the Chamberlain's. "I am not stupid, either. He took my command away because the message is I'm not to be trusted with an assignment over troops. While my rank still affords me the ability to order them to do things.. I.. well, you understand."

"Things will settle," the woman quietly says. "You may yet find yourself in command again, Lucius." She offers him a slightly sad, but encouraging smile. "At least, you have the opportunity to prove yourself since your head is still upon your shoulders?"

Lucius Nepos is anything but heartened by the smile. If he hadn't of gained such excellent control over his emotions in his years as a soldier, the Chamberlain might find him crying. And while he doesn't come close to that, his eyes waver, noticeably to Tomassa. "Aye... It feels like a kick in the gut. I will survive."

Tomassa hesitates, glancing away and toward the doors to the throne room. Then, lowering her eyes, she steps close to the soldier and reaches to gently enfold his armored form into a hug.

Lucius Nepos seems rather surprised by this show, regardless of what feelings may have been between Tomassa and Lucius in the past. Nevertheless, he accepts it and even seems to relax, his armored shoulders un-tensing and lowering. "Thank you, Grace. I really should be getting myself cleaned up."

"Yes, you should," Tomassa agrees with a hint of amusement in her voice. She steps back from him and, wryly smiling, says, "If you have any extra... clothing in the Blades Hall, do you think I might at least borrow a clean tunic?"

"I.. I'll check, your Grace. Though a good portion of my tunics bear the insignia of the Blade embroidered and are certainly too broad for your form." Lucius nods to himself, turning about to head downstairs before any answer can be delivered.

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