Vozhdya Square

The city of Vozhdya is a bustling commercial center bordering the Aegis' major eastern gate. Hundreds of red brick cottages dot the shire's lowlands, populating the grassy hills and rolling valleys. The stone chalets grow more concentrated in the city, eventually clustering around a large central square. There, brightly colored tarpaulins cover small merchant shanties and larger brick storefronts. In the very center of the market is a large limestone fountain, supplying fresh water to the townsmen year-round. A few snaking chimneys protrude from the city's skyline, intermittently releasing plumes of black smoke in to the air.
Vozhdya's outlying lands are a patchwork of fields divided by ivy-claimed stone walls. Her western borders are a chain of forested mountains and her eastern border is the Aegis itself - looming in the distance and dwarfing all in its shadow. To the north, behind high walls, the battlements of Vozhd Keep can be seen, and to the south the precipitous towers of The Warren. In the far east, the rippling purple banners of the East Aegis Garrison remind visitors that above all else, Vozhdya is a stronghold of Imperial authority.

Indomitable rides into town, the small and seemingly gaunt beast carrying both a man armored in full silver and a pregnant woman in robes an cape to ward off the cold and rain. Nine cavalrymen, three of them horse archers, surround the horse.

Markus Kahar talks quietly with a man at the courier station, the streets sopping wet following the storm.

From Indomitable's saddle, Dianna Lomasa clings to Arturo, looking around her slowly, eyes almost closed, a soft tremor going through her. "It's been so long since I was here..." she whispers, a hint of longing, and unhappiness residing in her voice.

From Indomitable's saddle, Arturo Lomasa nods gently to his sister, the rain cascading off his rich lilac cloak and down the horse's flanks, one hand straying to stroke her shoulder. "I know, diadem. But I'm here."

Markus Kahar looks up towards the lilac-cloaked riders, watching them for a moment before returning his attention to the courier, "...well then. Forty imp's extra for your work. Gallop; ride swift."

From Indomitable's saddle, "I know, Arturo," Dianna says softly, still trembling, leaning closer to her brother as she continues to look around. Her eyes stray to Markus, before she shivers again, this time from uneasiness.

From Indomitable's saddle, Arturo Lomasa feels his sister shivering, the small pregnant form and the tall thin armored form both crammed aboard the small and gaunt figure of Indomitable. Yet, true to its name, the horse seems unbothered by their weight, or by the rain cascading off its sides. Arturo follows her eyes, grimacing slightly, and then offers. "We don't have to do this, sis. We can turn aside....get out of this rain."

Ghost has arrived.

Markus Kahar's eyes again focus on the group of guards. Strange - is it not – for such a group to ride into his city? The Duke emerges from underneath the canopy of the Courier station, a hand on his longsword. He peers through the darkness, "Announce yourselves," he calls, "... ye, who would call so escorted."

From Sable's saddle, Rain dripping down off of Adaer's cloak lands onto Sable. The rain has just stopped although clouds still hang low in the sky. Adaer enters the town square and he stops to pull the cowl off his head. He looks around and spots his uncle calling out to a group. He turns to face them after calling to his uncle, "What's going on?"

Ghost gallops in from the north, handling the reins in a fairly experienced manner. His rider is ducked down, cloaked in brown as he heads for the stable. The rider notices Markus, and moves to approach at a lighter trot toward the large formation. He moves his horse to flank a little behind Markus, unslinging the longbow from his shoulder and keeping it ready should the need arise to use it.

From Indomitable's saddle, Because of Markus, and Adaer's presence, Dianna's trembling increases, a soft whimper of unhappiness escaping her lips as she presses tightly against her brother. "Not him, please not him. I can handle Markus, but not Adaer," she whispers to Arturo.

Silkdancer has arrived.

Elymara Threadgoode slides off of her horse with a frustrated sigh, pulling her cloak a little tighter around her as a breeze wafts around her. She reaches up to gather her horse's reins in her hands.

From Indomitable's saddle, Arturo Lomasa turns his horse towards Markus at his call, pausing as Dianna trembles. "Leave Adaer to me, diadem. He'll not disturb you without answering for it." he murmurs quietly, then turns attention to Markus again, sitting up to call out in return strongly and firm and raised to be well heard. "Baron Arturo Lomasa of River Turn, and his sister the Lady Dianna Lomasa. Do you always greet noble guests so unwarmly in your town, Your Grace?"

Elymara Threadgoode pays a stableboy to have Silkdancer stabled in East Aegis Stables. The boy leads the horse back into the stables.

From Indomitable's saddle, Arturo Lomasa and Dianna sit astride the small, gaunt form of Indomitable, surrounded by six light cavalrymen and three horse archers in Lomasa livery, matching that of the silver armor-clad Arturo.

Ghost currently stands still nearby Markus, the rider atop him having his cloak fully drawn about him with his bow in hand at the ready.

Markus Kahar's eyes grow in surprise, then slowly narrow, his eyes filling with rage. "Indeed I do, when they ride into my city en force. Though now that I know whom is being escorted, it comes as no surprise." Markus' hand grips the pommel of his longsword, for the moment unaware of the dark rider behind him - and only seeing his nephew. He counts - at least six guards, and two Lomasas. Bad odds. "Nothing, nephew. Just an unwelcome visitor. I thought I told you to never come back here, Dianna. In truth - I thought you to be rotting away in the Tower."

From Sable's saddle, Adaer Kahar's eyebrows narrow and his face grows pale; he doesn't quite frown, nor smile; he gasps a bit and his eyes widen. What!? Dianna.. Free? Adaer looks to Markus and inquires without words. The Baron shrugs some water of his shoulders and begins a dismount from Sable.

From Ghost's saddle, The cloaked archer blinks a little from inside his cloak upon hearing the words. He lowers his bow, though keeps it at his side, as he looks to Markus. His removes his hood, rain halted, and speaks, "Dianna Lomasa? Freed? Your Grace, it is a shame Althea is no longer here. She tells me Dianna was a friend of hers."

Elymara Threadgoode steps away from the stableboy, humming a merry, off-key folk tune under her breath as she pockets some change. She looks up and sees all the armed people facing off, and her humming falters, trailing off after a few notes.

From Indomitable's saddle, "You would only be too pleased to have me rotting away, Your Grace," Dianna replies softly. She glances at Adaer for a moment, color rising on her cheeks, before she looks back to Markus, "I would have thought a Duke would learn to treat his guests better," she adds, her voice slowly growing a little weaker as she is forced to lean against Arturo for support.

From Indomitable's saddle, Arturo Lomasa sits straighter in the saddle, throwing back his hood to let the lights of the town gleam upon his silver helm, and meets Markus look with a smoldering one of his own. "it is necessary often to have guards upon the roads, particularly when riding into towns where Dukes strike pregnant women to prove their manhood, Your Grace. We have let you know my sister has been cleared of the false rumors of Shadows." His voice is sharp, combative, raised to be sure it's easily heard by all ears nearby, when his eyes fall upon Adaer. " you have emerged from your hiding place at last? Still letting innocents suffer for your own stupidity?"

Markus Kahar sniffs haughtily. As the rain begins to pick up again, he shivers lightly, wearing only his formal robes: totally unarmored. Markus' eyes dart between his guards, Arturo and Dianna. "That whore that rides behind you betrayed my family and shamed our name. She cost me my position as Second Blademaster, and the friendship of my cousin, the Emperor. She is lucky that all she received was a sturdy backhand, and*" Markus peers behind him at the sound of Lotan's voice, "... perhaps. Why Althea finds Dianna so beloved, however, is beyond me." He looks back to the pair of Lomasas now, "... she is worthless."

Adaer Kahar is shocked by all that's going on.. He looks to Arturo and calls out, "Who are you to call forth such vile towards me! I ought to come over there and backhand you like My Grace did Dianna. So she is free.. Not proof enough for me that she deserves to be!" Adaer walks over next to his uncle and places his hand upon his sword hilt as Markus had.

From Ghost's saddle, "So the Surrector just suddenly /decided/ that he made a mistake and freed her?" Lotan asks toward Markus with a frown. "This makes absolutely no sense. For all we know, she could've been smuggled out of there."

From Indomitable's saddle, Dianna Lomasa shrinks farther against Arturo, before frowning at Markus, "You were happy enough to lay with me," she spits out, her eyes flashing angrily. "And your /nephew/ is the one who shamed your family and name. I did nothing. /He/ is the one that set himself on fire, and then dared to blame Cygony."

Elymara Threadgoode keeps her hand in her pocket, and turns around, scuttling along the edge of the square, trying to avoid notice. Elymara Threadgoode walks away toward the North.

From Indomitable's saddle, Arturo Lomasa's nostrils flare at Markus' words, hatred in his eyes. He starts to snarl..."You dare..." but then Dianna's words arrest him, shock bringing him to a halt. He blinks at her over his shoulder, looking at those flashing eyes. "He....lay with you?" He wavers slightly in the saddle, as if the shock would undo him, then glares at Markus. "You *slept* with my *sister?!*" His own hand moves to rest upon his own axe, causing his guards to tense and shift formation as he looks to Adaer dangerously. "If you begin to think you're man enough, worm, try it."

Markus Kahar looks back to Lotan for a moment, eyes flashing in sudden thought, before turning to look towards Dianna and Arturo, "How. EXACTLY. Did you get released from the 'pits, Dianna? I thi*," Upon Arturo's words, Markus' fingers tighten on the pommel of his sword. "*MAKE* your move, Lomasa, and I swear by the ancestors of this land there will be murder this night. You do not move against my kin, again. And my relations with that tramp are no secret - even the Emperor knows. Who doesn't? She couldn't keep her hands off of me."

Adaer Kahar yells out, "Lay with Dianna?" More to mock the Baron looks around surprised, "Light save us! Dianna.. Sleeping around out of wedlock.. Not Dianna.." Yells over to Arturo, "Come down out from the midst of those guards and I will show you how man I am.."

From Ghost's saddle, Lotan himself seems a little shocked at this, staring blankly over at the group. His gaze then moves to Adaer nearby, eyebrow raising. "Here I thought that was all rumor. She /really/ gets around," slowly speaks the archer, hopefully lowly enough just to be heard in the Kahar posse. He then focuses his attention on the others, idly picking an arrow from his quiver and setting it on his longbow.

From Indomitable's saddle, "You only seek to flatter yourself, Markus," Dianna says coldly. "I believe it was vice versa. Who would wish to lay with one as elderly as yourself, when there are plenty of younger, more attractive men. Good Light, even your nephew is better than you," she adds, rolling her eyes.

From Indomitable's saddle, Arturo Lomasa glares between Markus and Adaer, venom meeting venom in his look as three arrows from three quivers react to Lotan's movements, and six axe shafts are grasped as the guards react to Markus' words. "Yes, I suppose murder would not be unexpected, Vozhd-Kahar. Doubtless I should find your blade seeking my sister instead of me, were I to ride forward." He lifts his hand from his blade, and instead withdraws a silver gauntlet, casting it down at the two nobles' feet. "If you would call my sister a whore for sleeping with you, you call yourself nothing less, Vozhd-Kahar. It only remains remarkable to me how you can commit so many shameful acts and yet manage to blame those around you." He winces at Dianna's words, closing his eyes a moment before turning his horse. "Aerie Heights has already seen one duel. I suppose it will do for another. And if your man turns that arrow on my sister, it will be his live and yours. I promise you that."

Markus Kahar arches a brow, the lilt of his voice evidence of his bemusement. "Apparently, you would, Dianna. I simply wanted to confirm that your character was, as it is, base. I cannot have the future of my realms rest with my nephew, when his wife would betray him at *any* moment. Which you did." Markus looks towards the gauntlets, eyes narrowing to slits, "... why wait to Hawk's Aerie? Why not now? Whom do you wish to draw your blood - myself or my nephew?"

Markus' lips pull into a tight smile, "... as for your sister's life? Do you think *I* am the only one who wishes her dead?"

From Ghost's saddle, "I only harm that which harms me," Lotan calls out with a frown to the group, glaring openly at them. "And, if you seek to fight me just for defending /my/ home against those who seek to enter /my/ home with bows and axes drawn, then call me insane and consider your own lack of courtesy." After that, he keeps his ready, quiet.

Following Elymara from the keep to the north are five Ducal Guardsmen, armored and carrying their traditional sabres and bows. They quickly survey the scene, but are entirely at a loss, only moving quickly towards Lotan. This brings even more alarm to the people of the square, who make to scatter in all directions. One guardsmen calls out, "Captain Lotan! We were informed of a situation, We... I..."

Adaer Kahar looks to the gauntlet and nods to what Markus says. "Perhaps he is not man enough.." Adaer frowns keeping his hand on his sword hilt and looks back to Lotan and nods, "Every word true.." Adaer notices the Guardsmen approaching and looks back to Markus and then Arturo.

From Indomitable's saddle, "Arturo, don't!" Dianna says worriedly, hugging her brother. "If you do, and win, they will kill you just to redeem their honor. Either way you will be murdered in cold blood," she adds, trembling in fear.

From Indomitable's saddle, Arturo Lomasa looks up at Lotan's words, and shakes his head, marshalling his anger to address him with a tremoring voice, willpower vying with rage. "There were no weapons drawn till you knocked arrow, sir. If you are an honest man, you will bear witness to that. Do not accuse me of incourtesy when you are the first to draw weapon. If you harm only that which harms you, then you have no need fear in this night." He turns attention between the two nobles, and sniffs haughtily, the need of answering Lotan evenly causing some of his heat to dissipate, along with Dianna's plea. "Do something useful, Adaer, and set yourself on fire again. Just don't put it out this time. You might make a passable torch at least, and raise your worth. Do not think the Church has forgotten how you sought to use them for vengeance." He turns imperious gaze to Markus. "As for you, Vozhd-Kahar, I prefer a ground where a man who so lightly admits to inchastity, assault, and intent to murder will be under watchful eyes to see that all rules are followed with an honor that he clearly lacks. It was not without cause you were thrust from your station. My sister at least has admitted her fault, and sought to right it while the might Vozhd-Kahar bask in their baseless pride and pretend righteousness."

From Ghost's saddle, "And no bows were drawn until you galloped in here with a squad!" Lotan retorts quickly, looking over to the men as they approach. "Defensive line! Quickly! Only strike if they make the first move, then and /only/ then!" Lotan barks to the other men, keeping his eye on the group. "There is no need for violence. This township showed you no harm until you entered it with armed men. We have a right to defend ourselves against those who show harm toward the citizens of Vozhdya. If /your/ values are as low as to accept this, then you deserve no mark other than that of ruffian."

Markus Kahar snarls his words, trying - and perhaps losing - the battle of calmness. "/My/ retainer only protects /my/ well-being, he will notch an arrow when your men pour into my city armed and in battle formation. If you want a duel, you have it. You decry my honour, yet it is your whore of a kinswoman who betrayed /us/. If you are too cowardly to duel me now, like a man, then we shall wait until your nerve is steeled enough, like children. Either have at me or Adaer now, or tell us whom you wish to duel and win. Have you no decorum, Lomasa?"

Elymara Threadgoode scuttles around the side of the square until she reaches the Loom and Spindle. Flinging open the door, she darts inside.

By the events passing, by the words spoken, and by those calling forth Adaer has grown hot. His face reddening; his teeth clenching; and the grip on his sword tightening. In despise Adaer yells out, "Hold your tongue. For I will make you swallow the vile you spit. And you words will become laughter as the people of Fastheld pass the stories through the land. For everyone will know how I killed the man who sought to dishonor me and my Uncle! Vozhdya!" Adaer's frown deepens, "Heed my words Arturo!"

From Indomitable's saddle, Arturo Lomasa looks to Lotan, then Markus, then Adaer...then slowly turns in the saddle to pan his eyes across his nine men before nodding slowly. "Yes...I can see how you would quake in fear at my mighty army of nine men. Certainly, that would make any township tremble. I trust you give as hot a reception to the Duchess Mikin. I have seen her ride through towns with a dozen. How strange that only here in Vozhdya a Baron cannot ride with a handful of retainers to guard him from bandits along the way. I have met no such reception in Light's Reach or Hawk's Aerie." He snorts, and shakes his head, turning his horse to depart. "Perhaps both, but I will take the young torchlight first. The hour is late, I will speak to the Baron and Baroness about the use of their grounds."

Markus Kahar shakes his head as the man begins to ride off. "Your one mistake:

  • they* are welcome here. We are over. Leave now, contact me only with the details."

A rider gallops in on a snorting steed, the hooves padding at the soil and slowly ebbing into a casual walk. "Yield, Avocet." It's with a scuffle of chainmail against steel in dismount that a youthful teen of sunspun ringlets swings down from what must be her personal horse. Unmistakable is her dress: that of the Order, a Scourge. She murmurs into the animal's ear, sea-breeze orbs of green-spilled-green swerving away to take inventory of her surroundings. Something isn't right... and the word 'Arturo,' followed by his familiar voice, tips that off.

From Indomitable's saddle, "And how have I /ever/ betrayed you and yours, Markus?" Dianna questions softly. "I spoke truth to those who serve the Light. They are higher than you. Yes, I spent a few weeks with another man, but that is hardly anything," she snaps, before letting her brother begin to ride away. She twists slightly, her eyes floating over Markus, and then Adaer, a bit of sadness in them.

From Ghost's saddle, "Let's see you attack the Imperial Garrison to the east with that attitude!" Lotan sneers as the man begins to ride off, lowering his bow slightly as he does so. He then looks to Markus, asking, "Never did answer your question as to how she got out, Your Grace."

Adaer Kahar mutters under his breath, loud enough for Markus to hear, "Coward." The Baron huffs at Dianna's words and calls out, "Truth to those who serve the light? You hide from the Church, did you not?"

Markus Kahar nods, calling out to Dianna before she leaves, "Indeed - how /exactly/ did you get released from your richly-deserved holding pen, Dianna?"

While turning her mount around, Sister Laeria's gaze levels to the bevy of men that Indomitable is parting from. Her light-colored eyes, slightly narrowed in puzzlement, linger particularly on the faces of Markus and Lotan, having been in their midst the night previous. "Baron, Dianna." She intones with the intent of garnering their attention, setting her mount to intercept and join their path of departure.

From Indomitable's saddle, Dianna Lomasa pulls the horse to a stop, ignoring Arturo's protests, first giving a deep nod of respect to Laeria, "Light keep you, Sister," she says softly, a warm tone reaching her voice, though it's overall, very weak. She then turns, looking at Markus, "According to the Surrector, strange things have still been afoot, surrounding Vozhdya, and I was far away, unable to meddle in the affairs of anyone," she gets out, before leaning against her brother, looking at Lae, "Laeria, please help me, I feel so weak," she whispers.

From Ghost's saddle, "That. Is. It. He went from wanting to kill you, suddenly, using dead logic, to figuring you were utterly uncorrupted, just because funny things were happening elsewhere? The Surrector never seemed nearly as fickle as you portray him," Lotan speaks, frown on his face as he hears this.

Adaer Kahar is a bit startled by Lotan's words and wonders why his Uncle lets him speak out as he does. The Baron looks to Markus and frowns a bit. He then looks to Laeria and decides not to return any words to the departing Dianna.

Markus Kahar nods in agreement, his attention turning to the sudden entrance of the Scourge - "You lie, Dianna! The Emperor himself sentenced you there - why, pray, are you suddenly released! Do you come to spy on us? What strange going-ons are afoot in Vozhdya? That we are at peace, for once, without your insanity?"

At Dianna's pallor complexion and her soft plea, the dutiful Sister sidles Avocet closer to the Lomasa Baron's steed, close enough so that they're within comfortable arm's reach. She tugs off one of her gauntlets between holding onto the horn of her horse's saddle. "Are you well, Dianna? You appear ill." The free hand raises to feel the other girl's forehead, the others around her ignored for now. Well, ignored so much as that she still listens enough to sic a reply on Markus. "That is a matter for Holy Mother Church to see into, good sir. One that I and my Ray are seeing to. I would hope that you would not wish to meddle in affairs that you know naught fully of."

From Indomitable's saddle, "I feel odd... it hurts," Dianna whispers, her hand vaguely indicating to her abdomen. "Oh, Light it hurts..." she mumbles, before slipping out of the saddle, her strength gone from her. Arturo makes a grab, but misses, and unless Lae grabs her, she hits the ground, rather hard.

From Ghost's saddle, "Figures," Lotan grunts, making his horse face north again, "Something is being hidden, that is certain. Unless I am further needed, your grace, I will continue home in preparation for time on the wall, a noble duty such as some may never partake in." With that, he sets his horse off at a trot northward.

Markus Kahar shakes his head, "Come, Lotan." He looks to Laeria, reserving comment, "... she makes claims to come here and spy in my lands. I highly doubt that this, of all things, is the Church's intention. Guardsmen, Nephew, take the girl to Vozhd Keep. We will place her under my supervision."

Adaer Kahar looks to Markus and then to the Guardsmen expecting them to do so. Adaer walks over to Markus and whispers to him something with a frown.

Laeria's attention is split and then redirected solely upon the sickly Lomasa girl. Before she can realize what is transpiring, Dianna is swooning off Arturo's saddle with a harsh sound on impact. "Dianna...!" The white-blonde sister seamlessly swings off Avocet, dropping to solid ground. "Are you injured? The child?" She murmurs lowly for the other girl alone to respond to, ready to help if she wishes to try and stand again. "If you are to take Dianna into supervision, then I humbly request that I too am allowed to accompany her. Where you may have right to Law and Rule, I have right to Light and Truth. Both seem to rest on Dianna."

Dianna Lomasa dismounts from Indomitable.

Dianna Lomasa lifts a hand to grasp Laeria's, a soft moan escaping her lips, "Send for Rowena, please," She begs, tears streaking down her cheeks. "Oh, Light, it hurts," she whispers. She doesn't spare a glance to Markus, or any of the Kahars, her eyes focused solely on the woman in front of her.

Markus Kahar barks the command again, "Captain Lotan! Take her to Vozhd Keep, immediately." Markus turns his attention to Laeria, for the moment leaving his nephew unanswered. His voice is heated, even quite angry, but he seems to succeed in reigning his temper in. "Madame Laeria, with all due respect, the Church has released the cur back into the Wild and she has returned - again - to Vozhdya. Where she nearly destroyed my House, my family and my reputation. The Emperor expressly forbid her release - why now is she released? She spoke of the Church suspecting strange things in my city - and I was not informed. This reeks of subterfuge. I believe this woman to be a spy, out once again to destroy the name of my family."

Markus stiffens, "... based on this information, unless you can offer any other explanation, then I see no reason to further trust certain members of the Church who seemed driven towards my ruination. I have nary *any* idea why I am so persecuted when I have faithfully given my dues and funded the creation of an entirely new citadel to the Light in my city. However, I will no longer accept this. Unless you can prove to me your good intentions - which shall be so very hard to do - I must *respectfully* /turn down/ your request. The Lady Dianna will be escorted back to Vozhd Keep, and I shall send a dispatch to the Emperor requesting an explanation, immediately. These are /my/ lands, and this is /my/ word."

From Ghost's saddle, stops his horse at the order, quickly tucking his quiver and longbow to the steed as he swiftly hops down from him. He then goes into a dash toward Dianna and Laeria, kneeling down to offer assistance.

Umbrus rides in.

Arturo Lomasa dismounts from Indomitable.

From Umbrus's saddle, After a long period of rest, Rowena left West Bluff again, this time with a lighter heart. Her posture is straighter upon the saddle, expression eager as Umbrus gallops into Vozhdya. Her words for the Duke rehearse in her mind, keeping her calm while the cold wind blows around. A few escorting horsemen gallop in behind her, lanterns raised to offer light.

"There is naught I can do, Dianna... Understand." Sister Laeria gently relays to the pained Lomasa girl, glancing sidelong to Lotan as he comes to take Markus' new 'guest.' "Be gentle with her." She then returns to standing, a slow motion that ruffles her armor with odd tinks and clinks. Her dusty blonde eyebrows flinch as if to narrow at the words, words that cause her green-blue spheres to dull and cloud. "Driven toward your ruination? Do you dare place such a preface in relation to the Holy Church or her chosen? I am appalled."

Arturo tried to ride off but Dianna persisted, staying to answer Markus' question of why she had been released. After informing him that the Church is suspecting Vozhdya again, Markus has assumed Dianna to be a spy and has ordered Lotan to take her to Vozhd Keep.

Lotan is now cradling the nearly-fainted Dianna.

Dianna Lomasa tries to grip Laeria's hand, trembling, "Oh, Light, don't let them take me. I will be dead before the next rising of the sun if you do," she moans. "Please don't leave me!"

Markus Kahar's eyes narrow at Laeria. "Give me reason *not* to suspect? Why is she back, in my lands, when I expressly forbid her to come? Why is she released at all, and from her own lips, telling me that things are afoot in Vozhdya? No one informed me of this, so either a dishonorable member of our clergy is lying, or she is. I am inclined to believe that *she* is. Either way, the Emperor will have the proper solution."

"Of course, My Lady," Lotan speaks to Laeria, looking over Dianna for a moment and asking in a polite tone, "Can you walk, My Lady? If not, I can carry you."

Imagine Sophia's surprise as the petite Contessa steps forth from the carriage to see so many nobles gathered about in the square. Not wishing to intrude on any private moments, Sophia lingers in close proximately to where the carriage previously halted and watches with trepidation.

Adaer Kahar walks over to the stables at this and has Sable unstabled. If you think it's best, Markus, The Baron thinks to himself. He has doubts but takes the reigns of Sable and hops up into the saddle. Adaer turns Sable about and rides to Dianna and Lotan. The noble jumps from sable and says to Lotan, "Place her on my horse."

From Umbrus's saddle, Umbrus slows his pace to a trot, veering to seize a patch of baby grass in his teeth. Scowling at her horse's behavior, Rowena jerks his reins harshly to the left and commands him to continue. As they trot further into the square, an odd sight is noted. Her eyes squint in vain to identify the throng of people, and lips turn into a deeper frown at the sight of one huddled upon the ground. Perhaps her meeting with the Duke would have to wait. Very well. Slowing Umbrus to a steady walk, she gestures for her guards to accompany her as she nears in attempts to name the faces.

Arturo Lomasa growls, and moves forward towards Dianna's side, shaking his head at Adaer. "She can ride on my own horse. I do not think she will want the care of those who called her whore."

Awaiting the Mikins, and any other recently-entering persons, would be something akin to the great stand-off. Markus and Adaer are verbally fighting with Arturo Lomasa and Dianna Lomasa, with Laeria in the middle. Ringed about them are a number of guardsmen - both Lomasa and Vozhd - staring at each other in heated anger. The situation is escalating.

Markus Kahar's hand flies to his longsword, his voice growing grave as his hear beats a pulse faster. His sword is not drawn, but his fingers twitch in anticipation. The hairs on the back of his neck rise. "DIANNA remains *here!* This is no longer a petty duel, but a matter of House security! She has accused Vozhdya of a crime most mysterious to me, and now it seems the Church, too, has reason. That girl will stay and answer questions, and the Emperor will be sent for. House Vozhd will no longer take this abuse - so help me, thou shalt not move this girl another inch!"

Laeria says, "Holy Mother Church cannot be held accountable for Dianna's own volition to come here. Simply because information is not informed to all Fastheld does not mean there is malicious intent accruing. Your suspicion is unfounded." Sister Laeria couters with a shake of her head, blonde ringlets swaying and face tempered incredulous that this conversation is even happening. "However, you can be well assured that the Light Maiden will hear of this as well."

"Holy Mother Church cannot be held accountable for Dianna's own volition to come here. Simply because information is not informed to all Fastheld does not mean there is malicious intent accruing. Your suspicion is unfounded." Sister Laeria counters with a shake of her head, blonde ringlets swaying and face tempered incredulous that this conversation is even happening. "However, you can be well assured that the Light Maiden will hear of this as well."

Dianna Lomasa moans again, /almost/ unconscious within her pain, and misery, her body flopping weakly, like a ragdoll. "Please, someone help me," she whispers. "I need help. Please, help me. Oh, Light, please help me," she says repeatedly.

Arturo Lomasa growls at Markus, and shakes his head, though he doesn't go for his axe just yet. "My sister is going nowhere near your keep, Vozhd-Kahar. Call the Emperor if you wish, but it will be on your own head. There is no matter of House Security. If the words of a Sister of the Church mean nothing to you, then so it is. But if the Sister goes with us you may be assured that your complaints may be heard in due time. Do not make the situation worse. If you have no respect for anything else, have respect for the fact she bears a child."

"You have no say in the matter Baron Arturo. The Duke has commanded.. So shall happen," retorts Adaer before turning to Lotan, "Put her upon Sable and use him to escort her to the Keep." The Baron looks up to Arturo and says, "Have you anything more to say?"

Lotan seems to grow annoyed at all this occurring, looking at Dianna with sympathy before rising to look at Arturo. "I assure you, Sir, on my honor as a Blade, that she will have the guest room at the keep and be treated with the utmost of hospitality. If you or she," Lotan notes with a nod to Laeria, "Wish to come along, I see no difficulties with this. It is clear to me that this conflict needs to end here and now. Two problems are here, and the best way is to continue this out of public. She is obviously not in the condition to lay there flailing on the floor, pregnant and half-starved. If this is good, Your Grace, I will perform it," Lotan then looks over to Markus in waiting.

From Umbrus's saddle, Oh, lovely. There is no mistaking the flushed face of Markus in anger, as Rowena has seen it before. Lomasa colors, as well. It seems they had delivered the message in person before she could first prepare the Duke.

Sighing, she waves for her guards to remain behind rather than add to the commotion. Umbrus is prompted into a light trot, closing the distance more rapidly as the shouting match continues. "It seems my intentions come only too late." she mutters, eyes settling upon Markus before flitting to the form of a pained Dianna on the ground. She pales a notch, knowing that unless this was a form of odd It was too soon! "Don't touch her!" She snaps suddenly from the sidelines, and yanks Umbrus to a halt before hastily dismounting.

"It is on the crown's order that she is free! I saw to her in the Palace! I'd hoped that she would have made it safely home by now..." Her eyes befall Arturo in question, but not anger. To her guards, "Find the local healer, I've not substantial items in my saddlebag for this. Send them to the tavern, for that is the only place she shall go this night. And a long night it shall be..." She then makes brisk strides to the tavern, regretting that she could do nothing to postpone the labor just yet.

This is a situation Sophia believes she should not bear witness to---a confrontation betwixt neighboring nobility and the Church, all this completely out of the Contessa's element so what other recourse can Sophia do other than move slowly towards the group when she hears Dianna's pleas for help. The Contessa's crystal blue eyes flicker up towards the mounted Rowena with a great deal of confusion before her eyes dart to Dianna then to Arturo; her gaze momentarily fixed upon Arturo. "Please forgive my intrusion, but I believe the lady..." Sophia motions to Dianna with a worried glance. "is under duress and needs a healer at once." This is said as Sophia moves closer towards Dianna. "Please if you gentlemen could curtail any arguments and see to the lady's needs before any further unpleasant words come forth?" Yes, the Contessa has a voice and a dainty sounding voice it is though full of conviction and a bit of common sense under the circumstances. "The Lady needs assistance, please do her a courtesy and help the lady then do what you must."

Markus Kahar takes a long breath, before finally bellowing out in a loud voice, his face red and body exhausted: "ENOUGH! Now hear this, and let this be the final word! You are in /VOZHDYA/, under the Jurisdiction of the House Vozhd, of which I am the Patriarch! I invoke Imperial Law which grants me this right - furthermore, I am the 2nd Blademaster and invoke my Imperial charge to defend the realm from instability. Baron Arturo, with the dignity of a nobleman, if you refuse to leave your sister's side, then in the name of the constabulary I shall too arrest you and lock you, under guard, in Vozhd Keep. Do not draw your sword and tell your men to stand down - they will be quartered in the Garrison to the east. If anyone dared to challenge or prevent my word from being carried out, be prepared to defend thy life!"

Markus Kahar adds quickly, "Madame Laeria, you may accompany us to the Keep as well - it may very well be that your help is needed."

Adaer's grim frown looks past the Mikin's and their arrival as he focuses on gathering himself ready to follow Markus to the keep. He looks to Lotan and huffs.. "How dare you.." Adaer walks over and jumps upon his stead and turns about twice, "You heard him!" he yells back to Lotan. Adaer then pulls the reins of Sable and gallops off next to Markus.

Tensing at the threat of violence, the teen Shadowscourge darts her green-blue eyes over her shoulder to check on Dianna and linger on Arturo. There's both distaste for their predicament and support rimming her liquid pools. Support that she will in some form or another stand byside her duties... and the Baron. Returning to Markus, she nods a clipped agreement. "I will accompany you. And I trust no blood shall be shed. Let the Light of Truth shine on the situation as we exhaust all venues for information."

Shockingly, Dianna lifts her hand, holding it towards the retreating form of Adaer, even though it shakes, and he is almost gone. "Adaer, help me, please. Help /our/ child," she says weakly. At Markus' words, she flinches, tears continuing to stain her cheeks. "Arturo, go now. Please, I shall trust myself into the hospitality of House Vozhd-Kahar once again."

Arturo Lomasa stays guardingly over Dianna as threats are exchanged, and looks ready to meet Markus as his hand strays to his own blade. But he pauses at Laeria's words, turning his eyes to study her, and then Lotan, and then down to Dianna. Another long moment, and he looks to Laeria. "The Duke of Vozhd-Kahar has stated this night before witnesses his desire to see her dead. I will agree, on three requirements. The Sister will remain by her side...the Duchess will be sent to minister to her, and no Vozhd-Kahar or any of their ilk save this Bladesman..." he nods head to Lotan. "Shall touch her till the Emperor has been called and allowed to judge between us. I trust his pledge, and that of a Sister of the Church. But if you murder my sister, Vozhd-Kahar, I will see your head fall upon the Emperor's own execution block for it. I swear that."

"About time, My Lord," Lotan says to Arturo, quickly moving to kneel down beside Dianna and attempt to either help her onto her feet or lift her altogether, depending on her following actions. "Come now, My Lady. The room is very fine, I stayed in it myself for a time. No harm will come to you."

Sophia Mikin is truly taken aback with the indignity of Markus's bellowing threatening words. The Contessa stiffens and draws up upon her impending statue of her full 5'1" in slippered feet of course. Sophia's eyes dart to Markus where the crystal blue orbs narrow as she looks upon the Duke's face. She doesn't move from her position near Dianna, who would of guessed the timid heir to Light's Reach has any courage and inner strength. Sophia turns to Arturo and says in her dainty voice, "Baron Arturo.." Sophia speaks up. "I would like to help if allowed Milord? Perhaps I may assist in whatever way I can?" She is trying to help Arturo not get himself injured or killed. "That is of course if the powerful Duke Markus will allow me to help?" This is said as her blue gaze darts back to Markus.

Markus Kahar wets his lips. "You have *no* authority to make demands, Arturo. You are outnumbered and within the jurisdiction of my House. However let it not be said that I am not without mercy. You shall have two of your requests - however if we must speak to that /woman/, then we shall speak to that woman." Markus turns his attention to Sophia, eyes narrowing as he smarts from the sarcasm, "I am disinclined to grant you that privilege," Markus stares with an icy anger at the assorted lot, "... it seems we have a hidden enemy in this city. I know not who I can trust, ergo, I will not make our house more vulnerable then it already is. If we are in need of your assistance, you shall be called for. Until then - no. That is all. M'lord Guardsman! Let us away to the Keep!"

Laeria delays her steps for a few moments, even after the Lomasa Baron and Duke have said their parts. "Then so it will be." Her legs laboriously set in motion, one at a time, step beyond step, until she returns to Dianna's side. "Hold to us tight." She passes to the pregnant teen while helping Lotan with the burden. Green-blue discs glance up to Arturo during this time, affording a reassuring nod. "We will see through this matter. Fret not so much."

Dianna Lomasa is crying in pain, and fear, her eyes looking around her franticly, though she holds no recognition, no matter who they fall upon. "Light help me," she cries out softly, trembling franticly, her hands gripping at the sides of her dress. "Adaer, Likan, Rowena, Arturo... someone help me..."

Arturo Lomasa wrankles at Markus' words, but nods to Laeria. "I place her life in your hands, Sister." At Dianna's cries, he speaks softer still. "I love you, Dianna. The Sister will care for you. Be strong. Light Keep." He turns, signaling his men to stand down, and finally lighting attention on Sophia. "I am sorry you witness such, my lady. If the Vozhd-Kahar refuses your help, I shall take it, if you will come with me."

Varal Mikin steps from a carriage, his eyes sweeping the square. While his initial orientation seems to be directed at the Loom and Spindle, he turns himself towards the knot of arguing nobility being none-to-quiet. He frowns slightly as he slowly recognizes various individuals, and his pace quickens.

Sophia Mikin inclines her head to Markus /orders/ then steps aside from Dianna when Laeria moves to the pregnant young woman's side. There is a great deal of pity in the Contessa's eyes. A soft prayer is murmured in hopes that Dianna's pleas go answered and soon. How very lucky Sophia is that she never has to wed a man like Markus. Her blue gaze drifts up to Arturo. "Baron Lomassa, seeing your Lady Sister being treated so especially being so near her time to give birth sickens me to no end. May the Light give your sister strength and comfort and punish those without compassion or mercy."

"Alright, then," Lotan grunts, lifting Dianna as best he can with Laeria's help. He then starts to move off toward Ghost.

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