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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

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"It is alright Alric" Emelda rode up beside Myrrhi. "She is among her Sisters" she said with a pacifying smile. Alric looked from Myrrhi to Emelda then Ialsa. One couldn't live in the city much less be a guard in Falme without being able to easily recognize Aes Sedai when they saw them. With the Blue based in a manor, Falme had become something of a hub and Alric knew a great many of the ones that resided within the town. 

 

"Emelda Sedai" He gave a bit of a bow. "I did not see you" he apologized. 

 

"It is alright" she gave the young guard a smile. "But we do have urgent business and a long ride aside. So if you don't mind" Emelda gave a nod to the gate. 

 

"Right right" Alric hopped to it and opened the it for the three allowing them passage out of Falme. They took their time but soon set their horses to a gallop. 

 

"We should ride till morning then look for a place to shelter a bit." Ialsa told the other two. "Get some distance from Falme. Myrrhi, which direction did you come from when you arrived at the city" she turned to look at the young woman. 

 

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It did not take Vai Sedai long to find where the three had gone. A bit of sorting through crowds but the Inn was easily found. She had the Blue sister's with her fan out and search the building then the stalls as she questioned the Innkeeper. Grunting in annoyance when she found that they had acquired horses and headed out. Vai commandeered what horses remained in the stables and set off to the nearest gate. Alric  bowed when she arrived and seemed genuinely shocked when she informed him of her pursuit. 

 

Liking his job, his life, Alric readily directed the Aes Sedai in the direction the three had gone. And Vai was quickly out the gate, out of Falme and in pursuit. 

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"I was coming from Baerlon," Myrrhi replied. "I didn't meet any sisters there. Maybe we should go that way?"

 

Before Baerlon, the young Green had been in Andor where she had met her Sisters and searched a couple of libraries. She had also spent a lot of times on empty flelds and forests where she had practiced some of her combat weaves. She had found a very interesting way to create beams of ice. Of course, she had directed them to plants and insects but she was looking forward to use it against bigger targets.

 

She twisted on her saddle and looked towards the Brown Sedai.

 

"Thanks, Emelda," she said, still not trusting the woman. "Thanks for helping us out with the guard."

 

Myrrhi hoped that the night would go by fast. She didn' t really feel like talking with her companions, instead she concentrated on the path ahead. Even if her mare was really kind and sweet, she was not accustomed to Myrrhi as her rider, and the young Green didn't want to take any chance. She didn't want to fall nor to make a fool of herself in front of two ... probably senior... Aes Sedai.

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"Say nothing of it" Emelda waved the thanks off as she kept pace a little behind and to the left of Myrrhi. "I left with Iasla, Wouldn't do me any good to stay within the city now" she explained easily. 

 

"I hope you weren't too invested there" Ialsa chimed in a little apologetically which got Emelda to laugh. 

 

"I learned a long time ago, that it is better to throw my weight in with you than against you" The Brown sister chuckled and it seemed her whole body chuckled with her. An action that nearly lost her her seat on her mount. Ialsa reached a hand out and easily caught her old friend giving her time to get situated back in her saddle. A blush coming to the woman's cheeks even visible in the night air. "Been far too long since I've been on one of these beasts" she laughed a little nervously as Ialsa smiled amused

 

The three continued on in the night mostly in silence. Choosing not to talk just in case any riders behind might be able to hear. The noise from the horses was more than enough to Ialsa's liking. She knew someone would give pursuit, that was just logical. And the Blue were definitely that. Just as the sky started to brighten, but before the first rays of light burned off the haze of night Ialsa led the three off the main road. A faint, gentle breeze blowing in right behind them and naturally covering any tracks they had made. 

The lights of a small village were up ahead, right down the road, and Ialsa wanted any Blue pursuers to believe thats where they had headed and holed up. All the while the three renegade Aes Sedai would venture perpendicular from the road. Away from the town and away from people and any natural path to follow. The sun had peeked over the horizon and one couldn't see either the road nor the town before they came to a stop. It was a decently sized grove of trees, Ialsa heading toward a patch where the limbs interwove and would diffuse any fire they may or may not light. Weaving their horses carefully through the bushes and underbrush to a clearing that was just large enough for the three women and a fire. A large boulder would hide the light of a flame from any coming from the direction of the town or the road. 

 

Ialsa slid off her horse and hobbled it near a tree. "I think I saw some wildberries a few paces back" Emelda stated

 

"Just keep low and out of sight" Ialsa told her "And Emelda, try not to trip and scare the birds" It was hard to tell if Ialsa was joking or not but Emelda blushed and headed off once her horse was secure. Ialsa set to gathering some wood before arranging a fire. Only taking her sword off and carefully resting it at her side when she went to sit down. "I do apologize for sucking you into this mess" she told Myrrhi. "Had I known this is what things have come to here I would kept my distance and any attention my arrival drew away from you" 

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That's enough excitement for one night, Alric though to himself as he stared off after the Aes Sedai. Just as he looked back, a pair of grey eyes made of fiery determination were staring right at him, through him. The outlandish man was impossibly - I heard nothing!- only a few paces away heading towards the gate. Alric started to speak, held his tongue, and waved him through. Only a fool messed with Aes Sedai, and only a bigger fool messed with someone giving chase. Chuckling to himself, he decided to head home for the night, not wanting to see what the night may yet hold.

 

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Kaito heaved a sigh of relief, he had not wanted to kill that man, and ran. He had never ridden a horse before; it was not the way of the Aiel, and he was not willing to start trusting them now, not in a chase so precious as this. The Blues were still in sight, and arrogant as they were, did nothing to hide their tracks, although Kaito doubted he would need to resort to tracking. They were slightly outpacing him, but he estimated it would be quite some time before they were out of sight completely. Fury fuelled his run, and he concentrated on keeping them in sight.

 

Soon, soon I will have my vengeance. He allowed a slight smile to touch his lips and ran.

 

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Vai was still in disbelief, as they rode on. Emelda, a spy!. She knew the Browns were scattered throughout the different Ajah's but spying was not one of their traits, their noses were too deep in their precious books for that. You shall pay Emelda Sedai, this I swear upon the light. She had not thought the Brown even capable of deceit, and was secretly impressed, still, that did nothing to suppress her rage.

 

"The tracks either vanish or mix here!" one of the sisters shouted back. She was the best in the group in tracking, Vai had never bothered herself with that skill; there was always someone else to do that. They all stopped their mounts, waiting for her command. Vai scanned their surroundings, trees lay to either side of the road, a bit far off, and a small village just ahead. She had always been logical, picking which Ajah had never really been a decision for her. 

 

They are scared, and made a quick escape. To allow their speed, they must have not had much on their backs, meaning they must not have many supplies. Vai smiled, she prided herself on her thinking. "The village" she announced simply. She did not have to speak very loudly for it to be a command. Other sisters nodded in agreement, apparently having come to the same conclusion as herself. No one argued, and with that they once again set off in pursuit.

 

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Kaito stared at the small village ahead, they had gone in a short while ago. The sky had started to brighten now, and before going in, he picked a few wildberries in some bushes a few paces from the road. The morning was rearing its head and he expected the Blues were tired, wetlanders never had much stamina, even riding a horse. He expected whether they found who they were looking for or not, they would end up at an inn, either to rest or interrogate, or both. And in a village as small as this, there would not be many inns, hopefully only one.

 

Popping the wildberries in his mouth, he checked that the forkroot was still in his pouch and headed into the village, preparing to set his trap.

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"Don't worry," Myrrhi answered. "It's nothing."

 

She took a deep breathe and allowed herself some time to think. The three Oath forbade her to lie, her own words made her realize that she had enjoyed the little adventure. She had grown bored the past few weeks, traveling from one library to the next. She did like to discover new books, read about new weaves or the art of combat but she was not a Brown. She needed action, every now and then.

 

"I guess I would have had to leave Falme soon, anyways," she went on. "Let's get some of these wildberries."

 

Hearing her stomach grumbling, she thought back about the village. She would have love to go there to get a full meal but she understood that they didn't have the choice. Going to the village nearby would have been a very bad strategy.

 

***

 

The three Aes Sedai had stayed together in their hunt for food. Ialsa had given so many instructions to Emelda about the way she should move that Myrrhi had to wonder whether or not she had been joking. It appeared she hadn't. Emelda, like most of the Brown, had probably spend the best part of her life as an Aes Sedai in the Tower or in other safe buildings reading, learning or reaching.

 

The young Green found herself glaring at the Brown a couple of times. She stepped on a branch... again.... Wait no.... she tripped? What kind of Aes Sedai is she....

 

Myrrhi hadn't had the chance to walk in the forest much. But she knew what she had to pay attention to.

 

The broken branch of a small tree attracted her attention. Since it was hanging at hip height, the Green wondered whether it could be the sign that something or someone had recently damaged it.

 

"Wait," she whispered, advancing towards it as slowly as she could. She touched the branch and immediately got confirmation about the fact that the branch had been broken not that long ago. It was still wet because of the tree sap.

The Green pointed towards it, while meeting Ialsa's eyes.

 

She looked around hoping to find what kind of animal was responsible of the damage.

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Ialsa was just helping Emelda from tripping over a root when Myrrhi whispered for them to wait. Seeing what the young woman was pointing to she nodded and let Myrrhi take the lead. It was a task best suited to one rather than three, and Myrrhi was a Green. Ialsa covered Emelda's mouth with her hand just before she was about to question why they had stopped. Staying put Ialsa watched Myrrhi progress quietly through the brush. 

 

The trail was sparse and vaguely able to be followed but Myrrhi did a good enough job to get a glimpse of a man heading out of the brush and toward the town. His hood was pulled tightly over his head but the weapon on his back was plain to the young Green Aes Sedai. His movements spoke volumes to her as well. He clearly did not want to be seen and was heading towards the village with stealth as his guide. But he was going in the direction they weren't, which was a good thing. 

 

"What was it?" Ialsa whispered once Myrrhi was back within range. 

 

"Anything we could hunt and eat?" Emelda asked her stomach already rumbling

 

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There was indeed only one inn within the small town and that is where Vai set up. She had sent her Sisters to spread out through the town and make a sweep in the hopes of locating the three other Aes Sedai. If they did not locate them, then at the very least she hoped to gain some information on their movements. People must have been stirring by the time they should have reached the town, someone had to have seen something. 

 

Vai was fuming though. For the most part she was good with her emotions, but betrayal, the destruction back in Falme, It angered her. It should not have happened, it should not have been able to happen. A Brown, of all people. She gripped her mug of ale firmly, nearly breaking it before taking a breath to calm herself. 

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The sun had reached its maximum height, and was creeping back towards the horizon when the final sister came back. 

 

Nothing.

 

They all looked flustered, and seemed quite complacent, sitting there together on the table with her. None had complained out loud though, not in front of Vai.

 

"They're gone Vai". Vai glowered at her, "Sedai" she added hastily. "The damage is done, and I'm as mad as anyone sitting around this table, but if they've escaped this far then it is unlikely that we will catch them!" The volume of her voice had risen slowly through that speech of hers, Vai still glowered. She continued. "My point is we should head back to Falme, we've already been set back because of the collapse of the manor, Light knows what the Reds may plan when they find out, we should rebuild as soon as we can". 

 

"We control the West, have eyes and ears everywhere, we will send word of their description, Vai Sedai, no need for this chase". The other sisters slowly nodded in agreement.

 

Vai wondered when it was that her sisters had lost their spine. Have we been planning, sitting idly, for too long in Falme?. Her sisters spoke logic of course, but sometimes emotion outweighed logic, especially when those they were chasing had killed one of theirs, maybe more. She talks about the collapse of the manor, and yet completely skirts the fact that it was they who had caused it. A look of contempt crept up onto her face. She could not bear sitting with them any longer and needed space to think.

 

"You will stay here, all of you, perhaps on different tables, and keep a lookout for them, they may walk into here yet." She saw the sisters relax, perhaps they thought she was giving up. "I will go upstairs to think what our next move is, do not trouble me unless the building has caught fire, or you have found them. Report to me at nightfall." With that she headed upstairs. Her room was fitted with simple furnishings, an old four-post bed, a washstand with a basin, and a mirror with a chair underneath. It was quite cramped and yet the biggest in the inn. The serving girl came with the hot water she had called for, but no towels. The girl nearly jumped out of her skin when Vai pointed it out and by the time the girl came back with towels and a cup, she had just finished washing. 

 

"Complimentary tea Lady Mistress Aes Sedai". The fool girl obviously had no idea how to address her. The tea was not odd though. She was obviously a woman who could channel, their group had done nothing to hide that fact, not in the west, and were often served like this because of what they were. As soon as the girl was gone, she took three sips, quite soothing after the past events. Now, our next step is to.., our next step.., wait, what was I thinking again?. The blackness enveloped as her face rushed to meet the floor.

 

 

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"Hello Vai". The voice was one filled with anticipation, and contempt. "You enjoyed the forkroot tea yes?". His fury filled grey eyes betrayed him as an Aiel-man. He was veiled. 

 

But has he already killed, or is it me he plans to kill? ​She reached for saidar, but to her horror could not even feel it, she would have ran had she been able to move.

 

"Two Aes Sedai and a man were in the Three-, the Waste some years ago, what were their names?". She thought the man was insane. "The closest to the, Spine of the World you call it?, are the Reds now, but I have since learnt that if there was a man, it was not a Red, so what were their names!" 

 

Has it reached nightfall yet??. 

 

"Wait until my sisters get here" she managed. Barely. 

 

"Oh you mean them?" He approached her, as she realised she was seated on the chair, and turned her around to face the bed, where four limp bodies lay, dead or simply unconscious, she could not tell. Fear started to grip her.

 

"You don't venture out into our land much, and you seem to know everything, keep record of everything, so surely the brave leader of at least part of the Blue Ajah, would know something". He sounded as if his logic was the only one, no other possible alternatives existed to him.

 

"I don't know". She would not weep, she was not even sure she could.

 

"Don't lie to me!" he shouted. How is no one in the inn investigating this noise?!. "Otherwise you will outlive your usefulness.". She knew nothing of a venture into the waste by any sisters, but she always prided herself on her thinking. A dagger appeared in his hand. Someone must come to help, only if I stall him long enough.

 

"There are two women and a girl!" she said suddenly, "We were chasing them, they know. I think they were heading for Tar Valon". That was a guess, but anything to stall. He looked at her doubtfully, she hoped he would take the bait. "One of them is of the Brown Ajah, she mentions the Waste frequently". Two out of the three with her had not taken the oaths, she had, unfortunately, but this was no lie, Emelda always wanted to know more about the Waste. And after you leave, I will be sure to hunt and kill you first Aiel-man, then Emelda. She had never known the Aiel to dislike Aes Sedai, she knew now.

 

"They are not dead". Relief washed over Vai. "I overheard their conversation, they have no intent of completing a chase". His voice was void of any emotion now. "You however, seem to be willing to go to the Spine and back". Panic consumed her. "That would be dangerous to myself, and my goal". He said it simply and with no room for argument, the dagger moved.

 

The last thing Vai Sedai saw was his eyes. Hate, passionate rage, vengeance, all in those grey determined eyes.

Edited by NotAWiseOne
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OOC : aaaaargh! Don't know what to write :tongue:

Skipping my turn :wink:

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There was a kind of peace in dying. A sense of knowing. A comfort in embracing the end of the pattern of your life.  And as the blood trickled out of Vai, taking every last vestige of life with it, she simply knew. All things were complete. Certainly not as she would have thought, but her Pattern was done, her role fulfilled. And it was good. Every thread she was meant to place was placed. Now there was simply, slowly, the end of life. 

 

Her blood pooled on the floor, she teetered, then slumped. No strength remained to keep her upright. The last thing to cross Vai's sight was the Aiel-man's boots leaving the room. The sound of near silent gasps from one of her Sister's that had begun to wake. And the last soft breath to flow out of her lips. 

 

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Kaito would have his work cut out for him in tracking down Ialsa, Myrrhi and Emelda. They had covered their tracks well. Fear of being delayed, of being brought back to Falme. Fear of being.....captive was a powerful motivator. Ialsa had quietly ushered Myrrhi and Emelda away from whatever noise or tracks they had found. Back to the relative safety of their camp. It was no use in being curious about this. It would only expose them, and they needed to recharge and move. "Eat fast," Ialsa instructed of the berries they had collected. "And refresh your horses we ride on in ten minutes" 

 

"Surely we can rest a bit more" Emelda protested but got an only half amused look from Ialsa. 

 

"They are too close, and we have much to lose. We must keep moving."  Was all she said of the matter. And true to her word, in ten minutes their horses refreshed she had them mounted and on their way, taking a wide berth from the town the plodded on. "Myrrhi, do you have much in the way of coin?" Ialsa asked once they had put a distance to the small town and only once they approached another. This one a good bit larger than the town that now held Vai's body. 

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Myrrhi patted one of the purses that hanged from her belt. She would never keep her coins only for herself, especially if there were people in need, but it didn't mean she could be free with her possessions. She would have a life after Ialsa and Emelda and needs... she would need money if she wanted to go on hunting for books and knowledge.

 

By chance, all her coins were not stashed in the same purse nor the same pocket. She could tell her companions about the gold and the silver she kept in the most obvious places and keep what was left secret and safe.

 

"It depends on what you want to do with it," she answered, trying not to scowl.

 

Emelda closed in, with a smile on her face.

 

"We should maybe buy a map?"

 

Myrrhi turned her head towards the Brown.  "Maps are expensive," she said. "And I am sure we can travel without one. We all have geography classes back in the Tower, right?"

 

Of course, there are something we studied that some of us don't remember, she added to herself.

 

The young Green had never lost herself while traveling, even if she had to admit that she had only been raised for a year or so.

 

"But, I have to say that a bath would be most welcome, " she went on. After two days spent in the wild, she knew that the three channelers would start to smell bad and very un-Aes Sedai like. "Unless, of course, we want to pass as common people. But that means that you will have to find a way to cover your face."

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"Just essential food and supplies." Ialsa ignored the covering their faces comment. There was  a bit of rashness to the young Aes Sedai, but that was to be expected in the beginning. She had time and would learn in time. Ialsa didn't like to associate her sisters with their Ajahs, but it was slightly amusing and seemingly appropriate that Myrrhi had chosen the Green. "It isn't wise to stop any longer than for food and supplies. If we can make this distance then so can the Blue Sisters. We need to push farther than they would and then we will be able to rest" 

 

Emelda grumbled a bit under her breath at what that meant, twisting ever so slightly in her saddle. It was beginning to wear on her as no doubt she was wearing on her steed. "I will pay for a meal if we can get off the horses for half an hour" she offered. She didn't have much on her, a small purse of money and a few books that she was either working on reading or writing, and one journal that she always kept on her person. It was all she had on her when the Blue Manor began to crumble and they certainly hadn't had the time to go back for anything. But Emelda would spend her entire pouch on a meal if it meant a rest. Something Ialsa knew all too well. 

 

"We will rest once we're a safe distance" she reminded her old friend. "But it might help if you get off and walk your horse once we're in the town. Stretch your legs a bit." She suggested. 


Their pace slowed once they were near enough to the town, and they paused so Emelda could get off and stretch her legs. Though larger than the village they had avoided earlier, this town still held only one inn. They'd see their share of travelers but it was mostly comprised of native townsfolk. Who had seen their share of Aes Sedai so recognizing the three was not difficult. For the most part people kept to themselves, with a wary eye on the three women. Giving deferring nods to them as they passed. Ialsa shook her head at it all. They rounded a corner and came on the small, but fairly diverse marketplace. An array of dried meats and cheeses on display, as well as several fruits and breads. 

 

"Buy what you are comfortable with buying and only things that will last" She told Myrrhi as she pulled a much smaller pouch from her own cloak. Compared to Emelda and Myrrhi's money pouches Ialsa's was down right tiny. A few coins clinked inside as she moved it, untying the drawstring. Since being freed and fleeing to the ocean Ialsa hadn't had time to build up much money. She had only what was left from paying her passage to Falme, and that was from a little pilfering beforehand. Given the time she had been gone and now what she had found with the Ajah's she was unsure if her contacts and chain of suppliers were still around able and willing. But if there was one thing that she had learned in her time away was how to do without. Ialsa had spent many a sleepless and hungry night, not to mention situations where she was made to find the end of her rope and beyond. Learning just what her limitations were and when to recognize them. 

 

She perused the dried meats and cheeses, finding which would get her the most value for her coin and buying it. They may not be especially tasty but they would last a while. Though she was down to her last two coins after the purchase, she fingered them a bit then returned them to her pouch. Looking up and down the street she sighed. "It seems there is no avoiding leaving a trail here." she commented as people were glancing at the three and chatting. 

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Myrrhi rolled her eyes at Ialsa's instructions. She had had no intention of buying food that wouldn't last... except maybe for some fruits. She knew that eating a couple of fresh ones would renew some of her energy.

 

"Will do," she said, looking at the purse her other woman pulled from under her cloak. It was tiny compared to Myrrhi's but the young woman refused to feel guilty. She needed her coins. Ialsa and Emelda were only temporary companions...

 

The dried meat and the cheese didn't really look impressive. She bought a couple of slices of each wrinkling her nose out of disappointment.  She didn't want to look too free with her coins and they were the most affordable kind of food except maybe for the breads... which were not easy to carry. Most of them were big enough to fill the stomachs of a whole family for five days !

 

"Do you have a smaller version of these?" she asked the merchant. "Your breads look very nice, but I am not sure I can finish one of them all on my own."

 

The man turned to look in his bags. "I usually do these for kids," he said, holding a bread the size of his fist. "I have a couple of those, if you like?"

 

Myrrhi smiled. "This would be perfect."

 

A little voice in her head told her that the bread would not last that long - breads like these would get dry and hard as rock within two days - but she quieted it. She wouldn't wait for them to spoil before eating them.

 

"Are we going to leave the town together?" she asked the two other Aes Sedai once they were done with their purchase. "We have attracted a lot of attention, .... If we are followed, it would be interesting to leave our friends a choice between three possible paths

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Ialsa looked back the way they had come as she thought it over. "Sound strategy" she thought aloud, her fingers toying with the food she had just purchased. Though she though of Emelda, knowing her as she did, she did not want to leave the woman alone. "We can split two ways" Ialsa returned her attention to Myrrhi. "I fear for Emelda on a horse on her own, not to mention her sense of direction" 

 

"Now just a minute" Emelda began to protest. "My sense of direction is just fine."

 

"Which way is North?" Ialsa asked simply and Emelda started to point East. "Exactly." Iasla shook her head and gave the woman's shoulder a pat. "separate exits and meet at Baerlon?" she suggested to Myrrhi. "And if the Pattern sees fit to keep us apart, might I suggest you make your way to Caemlyn" Iasla gave Myrrhi a smile, "It has been a pleasure" she assured before starting to lead her horse away. 

 

Emelda though paused, watching Ialsa head off a bit before turning her attention to Myrrhi. "She has a way you know." she began quietly keeping an eye on Ialsa, "Had it since we first started at the Tower. An ability to just sort of know what Threads need to be where." she chuckled and shook her head "Some used to tease her call her  'the grand weaver.' " Emelda returned her eyes to Myrrhi. "If we do not see you in Baerlon, and you have opportunity, I would follow her suggestion. Ialsa may have disappeared for quite a while but I'd wager her instincts are still sound." She offered a wink and a smile. And with a  "Good luck young Green"  Emelda hurried her pudgy self off after a now waiting Ialsa. 

 

Ialsa and Emelda headed out the Northeast entry to the town and tried to set a good pace. It was harder to cover their tracks, Emelda being Emelda but Ialsa hoped the pace alone would help but a barrier between them and whoever pursued. Given they would have to stop in the town first, learn of their movements and the directions they went before giving chase. She hoped to increase that buffer. Though people in the town were pretty a buzz about three Aes Sedai coming through, leaving their trail hot. 

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Myrrhi sighed. She was happy to be alone again. The sky was clear, the weather warm, and her mare still gentle. What else could I wish for? She smiled.

 

She had picked the southern exit of the city, leaving Ialsa and Emelda take the easiest path to get to Baerlon. The young Green had visited that town, not that long ago. She had spent a couple of nights in one of its inns, while combing the place for books.

 

Should I do as Ialsa suggested? She wondered. Or, I could just keep going south, and go forward in my quest for knowledge... The words made her smile. There was nothing grand in her plan, but she saw it as an adventure. She hated politics and wanted to keep away from her Green Sisters are much as possible. Moreover, she wanted to perfect her skills. There were so many weaves she still didn't know.

 

Maybe Ialsa and Emelda could be useful in that area?

 

The Brown would probably know nothing about combat weaves, but she could know about interesting libraries, and Ialsa had spent a lot of time abroad. Maybe she had learned things while she was away... things that could come in handy.

 

"I am not deciding yet,"  the young Green said out loud. "First I need to get far away from this flaming town..."

 

***

 

Time passed and slowly the sky grew darker.

 

Myrrhi started to feel a great discomfort, and she only managed to know why when she recognized the ability to channel. Someone, an Aes Sedai maybe, was coming closer. The channeler was far enough to be hidden by the configuration of the road itself and the thick trees that bordered it but she less than mile away ... Myrrhi was sure of it.

 

Of course the mysterious person could be a wilder who had never set a foot in Tar Valon but the young woman preferred to be careful. Not allowing the mysterious stranger to come nearer, she quickly turned her horse.

 

"Let's go," she whispered, leading the animal towards the North East.

 

She was sure she could defeat the channeler, if she was alone. But she was not certain of that. There was no way that she could tell whether the channeler was accompanied by Warders; friends... or darkfriends.

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"So these...Seanchan." Emelda began to ask once they had been on the road a while, she had taken out one of her journals, a fresh one it seemed and was ready to write. "They despise the Aes Sedai and enslave them?" 

 

"They do not know the term Aes Sedai but yes, any woman that can channel they either enslave or kill." Iasla glanced over at her old friend watching her try to write and ride her horse at the same time "Perhaps you should pay more attention to your horse" she chuckled as Emelda caught her balance. 

 

"I will be just fine thank you" Emelda sat up straighter and decided to ignore the implication. "just how does the enslavement work?" she went right on oblivious to the face a distaste Ialsa had with the question. 

 

"There are collars. And...leashes." Ialsa gritted out the last bit. "It allows one person to control the channeler. They can feel when the other is trying to touch the One Power, their intentions, and allows them to inflict various...punishments" she paused and glanced over at the Brown studiously writing it all down. On the one hand she knew it needed to be recorded, for study, for records. Though on the other hand she was realizing that despite what she had thought, she wasn't really emotionally ready to go over all the details. She thought she had put enough distance from it, thought she had more anger than pain left. But when actually confronted with telling it all Ialsa was hit with a wave of emotions she hadn't expected. Pain, sorrow, anger....shame. That's the one that hit hardest. 

 

"What kinds of punishments?" Emelda pressed right on. 

 

"Physical ones. Mental ones. It's all designed to change behavior, to break the will" Ialsa replied having taken a breath to fortify herself. "They do not see the damane as people. They are 'pets' things to be trained." she paused and her horse slowed. "Emelda, I know this must be done but can we do it later?" she asked hopefully. "When we are in a safer position" she added with a nod back to the town back towards Falme. 

 

It took a moment but, slowly, Emelda seemed to have caught on, she gave Ialsa a smile and tucked her journal away. "Of course" she assured and picked up her horse's pace to catch up to Ialsa who had put a little distance between them. Between the conversation. "Asan" Emelda spoke up a good while later. "How long ago?" she asked carefully. 

 

And it was with a heavy sigh and a long pause that Ialsa answered "Only months" 

 

"Not ready to talk about it?" Emelda offered cautiously. 

"I am not sure." Ialsa was honest as she adjusted the strap that held the sword to her back. The pair had been more drawn into their conversation than paying attention to any trail they had left. They were on the main road which afforded a small bit of comfort, but anyone leaving the town they had been in would have an easy time catching onto their trail, perhaps even to catch up as their pace had slowed unintentionally as they spoke. 

 

 

---------------

 

 

As she turned to the Northeast it seemed to Myrrhi that she had begun to put some distance between her the unknown channeler and the mounting storm in the air. But the feeling hovered, and nagged, pricking the back of her neck like an annoyance. Whoever it was back there was strong. And there was a tinge of something dark. Something that chilled the spine and made a person just want to go a little bit faster in the opposite direction. 

 

She rode on and while she managed to catch up to the brighter sky ahead, the dark in the air behind her lingered. In another few minutes she would be able to pick up on the sound of hooves approaching from her rear. Two horses, a man and a woman, pulling a cart behind them. Though at first sight they clearly did not look like the type that would tow such a thing. The closer they got the easier it was for Myrrhi to tell that the woman was an Aes Sedai, and the man her Warder. Given the angle it was impossible to tell what was in the cart or what Ajah the woman belonged to, but given the region it was easy to guess. 

 

The pair gained ground and soon caught up to Myrrhi. "Good day" the woman greeted 

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"Good day to you, Mistress" Myrrhi replied, a shy smile on her face.

 

Playing the adolescent girl could be very tricky this time. Since Myrrhi had recognized the stranger's abilities, the mysterious woman must have felt hers as well. She must have noticed that Myrrhi had abandoned a road leading south to take another going Northeast. Still something made her feel confident. She had never met the Aes Sedai before nor the man who was acting as her husband. A quick look to his face showed the young woman that the man was much more than a protector. Could she be a Green? It was hard to tell.

 

"Is there anyway I can help you, Mistress?" Myrrhi asked, since the none of the cart occupants had made a move to go forward with their journey. She allowed red to come to her cheeks.

 

"We are going to Baerlon. Maybe you can show us the way?"

 

The young Green laughed. "With respect Mistress, you are going the wrong way. If you go on like this you will arrive in Falme."

 

The Aes Sedai raised an eyebrow, clearly not happy to see someone laughing at her.

 

"You should make turn your cart and get straight away in the other direction. Of course I would have offered you to follow me but I am in a hurry. My mother is waiting for me."

 

Before the woman had the time to open her mouth, Myrrhi pushed her mare on the side of the cart. "You won't have to ride for long, and if you spend the night there please stay at the Stag and Lion!"

 

***

 

Myrrhi had never taken herself for a tracker. She was not used to forests and had never really trained as a scout. Of course, she had read many books on the topic, but she wouldn't have guessed them to be enough to help her in real life. However, using her brain and memories, she managed to find Emelda and Ialsa's tracks and to catch up with them a bit before they reached Baerlon. After a while, they had chosen to travel on the main road instead of staying in the woods making it easier for the young Green to find them. Myrrhi had wanted to thank them for it, somehow she felt safer to be in their company.

 

Emelda was way paler than usual. She seemed to have been scared about something. Ialsa on the contrary was her usual self. She immediately noticed Myrrhi's flushed face.

"Have you encountered any trouble ?" she asked.

Myrrhi took a deep breath before describing the Aes Sedai and the Warder she had met. "We'll have to deal with them in Baerlon. They should catch up with us in 4 hours judging how slow their cart was. It seemed to be very heavy...."

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OOC: I'm really really sorry for not posting lately, real life had a bit of an a'dam on me :p. I'll catch up on the reading and write something as soon as I can though.

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Iasla took in the description and hummed interestedly. "We may or may not" she said of having to deal with the pair in Baerlon. "Could miss them entirely, never cross paths." 

 

"What kind of sense did you get from them?" Emelda asked Myrrhi. "From which direction were they coming? Falme? Did you see anything at all that may tell you what was in the cart?" 

"Emelda" Ialsa cut in on the barrage of questions. "Let our Sister have a moment to at least reply to one question before you ask four more" she half laughed, actually rather grateful that Myrrhi had appeared and directed the attention off the conversation she had been having with Emelda. The Brown sister had veered off the topic of Seanchan and Asan for a while, had started to fill Ialsa in a bit of what all had taken place since her absence, but inevitably Emelda steered the conversation back to one of the previous topics. It was just her way, when there was something of interest on her mind it was hard for her to keep from pursuing it. She had spent years researching the Aiel mostly off of an old rumor she had come across . For all Ialsa knew Emelda could still be obsessed with it. She highly doubted she had ferreted out all the information she could, and knew she wouldn't stop until she did. 

 

And it seemed Ialsa had triggered that same interest with the Seanchan. Emelda's interest in what happened to Asan was most likely due to concern more than studious curiousity, so those questions were touched upon but not vigorously pursued once Emelda saw that Ialsa truly was not quite ready to talk about it in depth. But the Seanchan. That was that classic studious Brown Ajah Emelda. Journal out, copious notes ready to be had. Though as Ialsa gave her one story Emelda's face had paled. She had never envisioned the possibility. It had been then that Myrrhi had rejoined them. To Ialsa's relief. She had thought she had been ready to tell of it all. But as it came to it she had felt all the raw emotion flood back in. And that was something she hadn't been prepared for. She hid it well though. Ialsa had become well versed in hiding her emotions during her time abroad. It had become nearly second nature, a defense mechanism at this point. 

 

Either way the deviation in conversation was refreshing. As now Emelda waited as patiently as she could for Myrrhi to replied to her inquiries

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Tar Valon.

 

The name rang in Kaito's ears, resonating over and over again. Ever since he had began his vendetta, he had avoided that place completely. He had heard tales though, after venturing beyond the Dragon-Wall. Most spoke of a place filled with spiring towers, magnificent and beautifully built. All Kaito had felt was disgust, and caution of course. A city filled with Aes Sedai was not a place for a man like him, even other people seemed cautious of it, after some sort of split that happened a few years back. And now Tar Valon was his next lead.

 

Or rather, those three were, and that was supposedly where they were going. The shortest and easiest way to reach that city was to head north-east and back south-east around a mountain range where a city called Baerlon would meet him. He had set off from where Vai's body lay, and pursued until he came upon a town, just as the sky had started to darken. He went into the streets with his hood up; he doubted the Blues had returned to Falme and spread word of his description, or those he was pursuing, but caution was key, and the darkening sky cloaked his features well enough.

 

Too much time has been wasted with Vai.he thought angrily. He hoped that weariness would slow them down.

 

To his surprise the only inn in town had not housed them, and tendrils of doubt started to creep in, had he got the wrong way? But as he roamed the shops, just as they were closing down, he heard what he needed to. Three women, two unmistakably Aes Sedai had passed through here. Kaito may have raised an eyebrow or two while he questioned, but conversation was never really his strong point, nor were people. 

 

They must be riding hard, to not rest for so long. 

 

He himself was considering resting somewhere on the road to Baerlon, just a for a few hours of respite.

 

Stealing what little supplies he needed from the shops, people on this side of the world were practically blind, he doubted they would notice anything missing the next day, he took the north-east exit, running.

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“Well, I’d prefer us to miss them.” Myrrhi said, answering to Ialsa.

 

“The Aes Sedai could be a Green, for all I know. But, whoever she is, I think she’ll want to know more about us. And,” she added after a small break “I am not up for another interrogation.”

 

The young Green turned towards Emelda. She had to admit that the Brown had asked interesting questions. It made her think back about her early days as an Accepted. She had hesitated for a long time between the Brown and the Green Ajah. Myrrhi had always loved history and to learn new things. She had been amongst the students who took as many classes as it was possible to, often staying with her teachers until late at night to debate about a thousand different topics.  

 

“So, when I had them near, the only thing I could feel was some sense of danger. They were coming from the South East and moving towards Falme.” She laughed. “They tried to act as if they were lost.”

 

Emelda frowned “What about the cart?” She asked once more. “What was in it?”

 

“It was big, heavy and covered with large pieces of fabric,” Myrrhi replied.  “I can’t tell you more.”

 

The Brown Sister looked away in the distance. It seemed to the young woman that the Brown needed some time to analyse the information she had just gathered.

 

The three women stayed silent for a while. Myrrhi didn’t know what to add to what she had already said and she didn’t want to interrupt Emelda. She waited a couple of minutes, waiting for Ialsa start a conversation. Since the woman didn’t Myrrhi moved her horse closer to her companion's.

 

“Where did you learn to use the sword?” she asked trying to hide a pang a jealousy.

 

Myrrhi had begged the Tower to allow her to learn some fighting skills with the Warders. It wasn’t uncommon for Accepted to follow that kind of class, especially for the ones who wanted to become part of the Green Ajah. Still, it was not easy to get an authorization and the young woman had only received hers two years before being raised as a full Aes Sedai.

 

After her test for the shawl, she had spent a lot of time studying combat weaves that all Greens were supposed to master, according to their Captain General. Doing so, she hadn’t had the chance to go the Warders Yard and it seemed to her that she had lost a lot of what she had learned.

 

She knew the basics when it came to wield a sword or a dagger, but not much more.

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Ialsa glanced over as Myrrhi rode closer, slowing her horse to keep in pace with the young Aes Sedai's. She took a moment weighing just how much she wanted to say, how much she wanted to reveal. But she smiled as she thought back to it, "Asan, my Warder" she replied to the question at hand, though pausing a moment to order her thoughts and settle some emotions down. "where we went..." she exhaled heavily. "It was not...wise to use the One Power, or really tap into it on most occasions. In fact it was quite dangerous. and as we both know the Tower believes that should be our only source of self defense.Which is all well and good, but there are things in this world that the White Tower knows nothing of and as such can not take into account" 

 

It seemed there was a bit of anger in Ialsa's tone with that last bit, though it could have just as easily been directed at herself, her past as it could have the Tower. She looked back at Emelda just to make sure she was ok on her horse and still there. "It became quickly apparent that I needed to learn other skills in order to protect myself, something Asan insisted on. In fact he quite literally thrust a sword in my hand and took a swing at me just to gauge my reaction time." 

 

Ialsa smiled fondly at it now, though at the time she was livid. Mostly from shock at what Asan did, and mostly at the fact she had sported a bruise on her arm for days afterward. 

 

"we had a few close calls after that, and that's when I took his training seriously. We'd travel during the day, camp before sunset and he would train me in hand to hand, small arms and swords well into the night. Every night without fail. He said that if we were separated then he was going to make sure his training was still with me" she smiled a little sadly. "I think it was his way of extending his protection of me." 

 

The groups pace had slowed as they spoke and as Emelda was lost in thought. Once pulling out a different journal tucked somewhere on her person and apparently referencing something. She nearly fell off her horse there, catching herself at the last moment. Their covering of their trail nearly forgotten. It was the main road after all, lots of horses passed that way. Unless they were overtaken no one could know who had traveled the path. Though at this pace night was coming quickly and they were still too far from Baerlon. It would be another night under the stars for the three. 

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Myrrhi didn't dare to go forward with her talk about sword training. It was obvious that this Asan was not anywhere near them. He could dead, or send in a dangerous mission, and Ialsa clearly didn't want to talk about it.

 

She turned her horse, her mind traveling back to the Tower. She was unbonded. No Warder had ever asked her to become her protector and she didn't have the time to inquire herself. Again, her early days as a fully raised sister had been concentrated on training. Then, she had taken advantage of the chaos to find a way out of Tar Valon. She had accepted a mission that would send her the farthest away, and had not yet returned. Instead of looking for her Captain General, she had looked for knowledge hoping that it would help her gain some kind of advantage when she would come back.

 

Improving her skills with the sword was something she was highly interested in, though. She waited for the sun to go down and her companions to pick another camping site. Like they had done before, the young Green took care of the fire. As soon as everyone was done eating, she approached Ialsa. The woman seemed to feel better than what she had talked about her Warder earlier that day. So many emotions had shown on her face.

 

"Could you show me a couple of moves with your sword?" the Green asked. "I had classes when I was in Tar Valon, it feels like a century ago."

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Ialsa arched an eyebrow and seemed to gauge Myrrhi a moment before giving her a smile. "Not with this one" she rested a hand on the sheathed sword beside her "It has another purpose." she explained before getting to her feet. "However." Ialsa headed over to a nearby group of younger trees and proceeded to find two sticks of fairly equal length and sturdiness then handing one to Myrrhi. "These work well for training at the start"

 

And that was all the warning and explanation Myrrhi got as with the next breath Ialsa's stick stung the young Green's hand

 

Emelda smiled and chuckled a bit as the two began. She had no idea what kind of training or just how much use it had gotten for Ialsa since they had parted ways, but she knew her old friend. If Ialsa learned a thing, she learned it well. And she took no prisoners. "Good luck young one" Emelda laughed as her nose went back to her journal.

 

Another switch to Myrrhi's forearm.

 

"Hold your weapon with confidence. It is an extension of your arm, and should move as such" Ialsa told her. "Where your arm would instinctively raise to block a blow, use your 'sword' instead. Follow your instincts to begin. Once you're defending naturally try and attack"  

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The cart was like any other.

 

Or so Kaito thought. Immediately after leaving the small town he headed off to the side of the road, running parallel to it. He could find cover on this side of the world easily enough, and he always preferred to run unnoticed, even in the dead of night. It only took one person to spot him and his whereabouts would be known.

 

The start of the road was uneventful, as he had expected at this hour. No reason to travel so late. As he was running he spotted a cart camped by the side of the road, initially he only saw one woman but knew there was a high chance of someone else being there and so switched sides a little way off. He slowed down his pace a bit to reduce his noise, it wasn't much to begin with, and kept an eye on the traveler and her cart. When they were directly opposite him, a man appeared out of nowhere next to the woman.

 

What in the name of Light? That man had appeared out of nowhere, materialising out of thin air. Intrigued, Kaito stopped, safely hidden, and observed a while longer, to notice that the man wore a cloak that seemed to merge with his surroundings. He knew what the woman was now.

 

Damn them! Are they everywhere?? The feelings of hate and disgust started to roil up in Kaito again, but he pushed them away. This woman was not the one he wanted, he was chasing three, and they had no man with them. Knowing that the man was a warder, her an Aes Sedai, Kaito was even more wary, and just as he started to back up to continue his run, the man turned his head and looked straight at him. 

 

Kaito froze up for a couple of seconds, and ran before the man had a chance to move to his Aes Sedai and tell her. He sprinted as fast as he could convincing himself that they had no reason to give chase. Fool! Why did you stay and watch? Fool! He considered himself extremely cautious, and laughed at his stupidity. He knew the warders were tougher than normal wetlanders, but he never expected to be ever spotted by one.

 

He ran a good distance away and looked back, no one seemed to be following, for now. Veering off to the side even more, Kaito chose a well hidden spot, in a ditch by a thicket, shrouded himself with some leaves, checked one last time no one was around and laid down. His last thought was a hopeful one, that he would catch the three tomorrow, before sleep took him. 

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"Ouch!" Myrrhi let go, surprised. She had not expected Ialsa to attack her so soon. "You should have told ..." Before finishing her sentence, Myrrhi placed herself in one of the guarding positions she had learned. She felt clumsy at first. Her dress and her shoes were definitely not made for this kind of exercise.

 

"Alright, I am ready!"

 

The wooden stick was so light that the young Green could have wielded it with only one hand. Still, she decided to place both her hands on it, just like she had done with the wooden sword she had trained with in the Warders Yard.

 

"Good luck, young one!" Emelda said with cheer in her voice.

 

Ialsa switched Myrrhi on the forearm before attacking once more. This time, the Green parried pushing her weapon on the left side where it met her opponent's.

 

"Hold your weapon with confidence. It is an extension of your arm, and should move as such" Ialsa told her. "Where your arm would instinctively raise to block a blow, use your 'sword' instead. Follow your instincts to begin. Once you're defending naturally try and attack" 

 

Myrrhi nodded then made a small retreat. She made a step back and waited for Ialsa to move again. This time her companion tried a lower hit that Myrrhi didn't manage to counter. She had been too slow to move her stick to protect her right leg. The consequence was immediate; pain exploded right under her right knee.

 

"My turn!" The young woman said, trying to hide what she felt under a grin.

 

Looking at Ialsa's left shoulder, she quickly moved her stick towards the other woman's hip where she landed a small hit. It was the only one she managed to place that night. It made her feel proud. She was only a newbie when it came to fight with weapons and poking her companion - who was definitely a good swords woman - was a real achievement for her.

 

Time passed, and Myrrhi's forehead was drenched with sweat. Fighting was liberating. It helped her to empty her mind. She wasn't doing well compared to Ialsa but she was feeling more alive than she had for so many days.

 

"I hope we'll get to practice some more another day," she said at last out of breath. "This was better than I had imagined."

 

She thanked her opponent and threw a glance at Emelda who seemed to have enjoyed watching the fight. "Your turn?" Myrrhi asked the Brown.

 

"No thank you," she replied. "I'll stay here and help you out with your bruises if you want."

 

Myrrhi shook her head. She didn't want to show her bruises to another sister. She didn't want anyone to know how much some parts of her body were hurting. She was Aes Sedai. She was not supposed to show that she was in pain.

 

"It's ok," the Green said declining Emelda's offer. "But thanks for your proposal."

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