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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Taymist

Strengthening Ties & Making Stuff Go Boom - (Open to BT, Band, & WK)

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(OOC: Those who need them can find a full description of the Wolfkin Territory, Stedding and the Tracker Lodge HERE & the Citadel HERE. You can find Rhya's bio, complete with update, HERE , for reference. I've read Nox's and Merdyn's bios obviously. If anyone else wants to hop in, we can take that as it comes.)

 

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(IC)

The soft whisper of leather against stone echoed softly around the Citadel's lofty corridors as the young woman's footsteps took her ever closer to the Council's meeting chamber. Dust motes spun lazily in the air at her passing, caught in the rays of early morning sunshine, and an array of odours... some pleasant, some less so... assailed her nostrils. Her nose wrinkled briefly in distaste, the combination nudging at her impatience to be outside; free in the clean air of the forests once more. Part of her had looked forward to being in a city again, surrounded by all the sights and sounds she'd grown up with. A little excitement to break up the recent spate of pick ups had sounded appealing but, of course, she hadn't factored in the changes wrought by the last two years, her heightened senses making the past few days more of a tribulation than a joy.

 

She nodded briefly at the two Band guards flanking the door ahead, before walking straight in to the Council Chamber after only a brief rap on the wood. This informality always seemed to surprise the two-legs but the 'kin didn't recognise rank in quite the same way. Her eyes found Karoan seated at the left side of a huge oak table, listening intently to some point their Black Tower contact, Covai, was making and she sliently bemoaned the lack of wolves. If Shadow had been with her, their method of communication would have rendered this conversation unnecessary. She walked swiftly round the table and bent to whisper in Karoan's ear, passing along Winifred's request verbatim. He didn't miss the expectant hopefulness in her gaze and his lips twitched slightly in response. The Watcher Leader knew all too well how keen she was to be gone from here.

 

Turning to the man in black and catching his attention, Karoan, raised his voice, "Forgive me for interrupting, Covai, but Winifred has sent a request from the Stedding. It seems she could use some of your very specialised help. Do you have some men to spare?" He shoved calloused fingers through his dark shaggy hair and looked thoughtfully at the Band's second in command, Amon, sitting to his left. "Any assistance from your engineers wouldn't go amiss either... or anyone capable of a bit of grunt work."

 

The two men quickly assented to Karoan's request, Amon asserting that it would do some of the men good to get out of the Citadel as the talks would not be concluded for some days. 

 

"Not to mention it will be an education for most to visit the Stedding. Few at the Black Tower have ever met the 'kin. You folks keep very much to yourself," Covai interjected and looked at the woman. "Ask for Nox at the Embassy. Rhya. He'll help you with the arrangements."

 

Rhya grinned at the Storm Leader. Covai had certainly been to the Stedding; she'd met him twice before. "My thanks. Winifred will be glad to get this work done at last. Any message for Owen before I go, Kar?" The older man shook his head in the negative, stating that he would update the Ranger Leader when he got back home, and Rhya took her leave.

 

 

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

 

Home. Having collected her small pack and weapons from the rooms she'd been allocated in the Keep, Rhya slung her bow across her back and broke into an easy lope. She passed quickly by the various Barracks and negotiated her way through the growing crowds in the city proper. It was still early but a place this size never truly slept. The logisitics of keeping everything running was rather mind boggling. Finally, with a quick wave of acknowledgement to her fellow Ranger, Rori, who was sitting dicing with a couple of off duty Banders just inside the huge entrance gates, Rhya was out of the Citadel proper.

 

The Black Tower embassy was quite a structure in itself and Rhya's sharp gaze raked its exterior slowly. Impressive, she thought, reminded in some ways of the Watcher's Library. Of course, most of the building around here had been achieved with Ogier help too, so the similarity was hardly surprising. The Ogier didn't do anything by halves. Rousing herself from her contemplation, she strode purposefully up to the first man in black who was in her path. 

 

"Storm Leader Covai directed me here... to ask for a man named Nox," she commented briefly, fixing him with a firm golden-eyed stare. No need to inform all and sundry of the details. "Would you inform him, please?" 

 

 

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Nox overheard someone looking for him.  He wondered what task he'd been assigned while he was in the Citadel.  There was always grunt work to do, thankfully there was always Soldiers around to do manual labor, not that Nox minded doing it himself.  It was mind numbing enough to keep the anxiety and paranoia at bay.  The Asha'man on watch directed the woman to the area he was scanning.  "He's around the way on the traveling ground.  Can't miss him. Probably has a few Soldiers with him." 

 

Nox had already opened a gateway a few feet away.  It was a simple trick to memorize the area.  He'd been to the Citadel a few times already and he probably knew it better than most places, but it was something Nox did every time he came someplace.  It was a habit he'd started when he opened his first gateway and he kept on doing.

 

 

Edited by Matalina

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Rhya inclined her chin a little, thanking the man, and headed for the Traveling ground. She found this place and these men more than a little fascinating.

 

Perhaps because the madness they have faced is something we share, the thought skimmed across the outer edge of her thoughts while she scanned the faces ahead and focused on a slender, almost painfully thin, man standing to one side of the others. There. That must be him. More pins than the others. 

 

"You are Nox?" she queried in a light, friendly tone, simultaneously repressing a sigh at the varying degrees of wariness and shock that greeted her. Even those who had managed to control their features couldn't hide the scent of their emotions which literally poured from them. She was used to this reaction from two-legs who were unfamiliar with the 'kin and their eyes. It would do them good to get past that given the current alliance. 

 

At the first man's nod of assent, Rhya continued, "A pleasure to meet you. I'm Rhyanon. The Wolfkin have need of some further construction help and your Storm Leader, Covai, has kindly agreed that you will provide it." She paused a moment, re-thinking that statement, and confided with a brief smile, "Well, I say construction, it's more of an excavation to begin with. Our Tracker Lodge is in dire need of a more regulated water supply so the Tracker Leader wants a well created. That could be unnecessarily dangerous for us to undertake ourselves with the risk of earth collapsing so that's where you come in. Channeling won't be a problem as the Lodge isn't inside the Stedding."

 

Her eyes cut finally to the thing she'd been trying hard to ignore. The gateway standing open behind Nox. She'd never been through one before but had heard Owen, and others of the Council, speak of them. A curious thing. 

 

"How soon can you and your men be ready to depart? It's so early that we could make some very good progress on the work today if we leave soon." Impatience returned in a heartbeat at the thought of the forest, the fresh air... and mostly, the wolves. 

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                Merdyn had never been to the Citadel before, in fact, he hadn’t left the Farm since he had first arrived there. Soldiers were not usually permitted to leave the Farm, but today was different. He had accompanied Nox here to observe and learn from his work with Gateways. Merdyn had shown great promise with Spirit, it only made sense that he begin to learn how to perform one of the greatest feats possible with the One Power.

 

                Although Merdyn was learning how to open Gateways, that did not mean he had the skill or strength yet. He had memorized the weave, to be sure, but that was as far as he had gotten. Merdyn couldn’t even make the beginnings of a Gateway appear… yet.

 

Oh, there had been that one time where an ethereal line had formed in the air, but it sputtered out as quickly as it had appeared. No one was around to see it either, sadly. Merdyn had felt such pride. It wasn’t much, but it was progress.

 

                A Saldean woman walked up to the Travelling grounds. Nox began conversing with the woman. Her name was Rhyanon. A pretty thing with flowing curves and taut muscles. Merdyn had never seen such a combination on a woman, but this Rhyanon wore it well. There was a commanding air about the woman, but also a wildness.

 

                She must be one of the Kin…

 

                The other Soldiers that were there did not hide their interest in Rhyanon, although Merdyn was sure the others were thinking about her in a very different light. Merdyn rolled his eyes at the thought. Men were perverts, always thinking with the wrong parts. Merdyn wasn’t much better, but at least he tried to hide it when he gazed upon a man with finely turned calves…

 

                As Rhyanon brought up departing, Merdyn broke away from the other Soldiers and moved towards Nox and Rhya. Not wanting to be rude, Merdyn coughed into his hand to get their attention.

 

                “Beg your pardon, Nox. The other Soldiers and I are ready to depart at your command,” Merdyn turned from Nox and faced Rhyanon. He dropped to one knee and brought a fist to chest, saluting her in Andoran fashion, “Lady Rhyanon, I apologize for interrupting. My name is Merdyn Gilyard, Soldier of the Black Tower.” Merdyn gracefully rose from his salute, a broad smile spread on his face.

Edited by Oddpositions
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[[ sorry for the delay ]]

 

Nox was about to say immediately but Merdyn basically did that for him.  "Thanks, Merdyn.", Nox turned to  Rhyanon with a smile.  "As my eager friend here has said we are ready to go."

 

Nox let the portal behind him blink out.  Nox asked., "Can you describe the place that is safest set down a gateway?  I don't want to put it in a tree or too close to the Stedding."  The Stedding was something Nox feared much to his surprise.  The idea of not being able to channel terrified him but was an interesting experiment he couldn't wait to try out as well.  He wasn't a scholarly man, but he wanted to know about it.  It could mean life or death.

 

After a good place had been described to him Nox turned back towards the area that had been designated for gateway travel and started the weave.  At one time in his life he struggled with the weave, but since it was his singular most used weave it came as second nature now.  And probably for the best, he wasn't talented in it like others, and his gateways weren't as big as some others.  But he did it effortlessly now.

 

It still awed Nox when the silver slash grew into a doorway wide enough to get carts through and men on horses without ducking leading to some new and strange place.  Nox never really understood skimming, he had to know his destination, how could you travel the world if you'd never been there.  Traveling was so much more useful for his purposes.  The otherside of the gateway was forest so thick Nox couldn't see beyond the trees surrounding it.  It looked peaceful.

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Ful sucked air into his teeth and blinked into the cold morning air. There was something different about this morning. He couldn’t quite work out what it was. 

 

He glanced around.

 

Merdyn was here. Of course he was. It would take more time for them to build true comradeship between Ful and the noble-turned soldier. But for now, in the thick of their shared training,  Ful couldn’t help admiring the soldier, for that was what Merdyn was - an eager, devoted soldier of the black tower, just like Ful. (Ful more young, more green, and somewhat less eager.) Considering their nightmare so far of the trollocs attack, then fighting that giant weevil in that warehouse, they could make it work. A measure of understanding and respect between them from lived experience was enough. But where Merdyn was, interesting things happened. This fact made Ful uneasy.

 

Nox, the asha’aman leading this assignment, had been nothing but gracious and Ful was anxious to show his appreciation. So he came here on today's exercise - even though Ful had no talent or ability to ever learn traveling, he simply lacked the innate strength no matter how hard he try . . .

 

Before he had the time to look around the unfamiliar traveling grounds properly, a woman walked toward them. 

 

This woman Rhyanon made Ful uneasy. Those almond shaped, intelligent eyes, that easy confident gait, her strange beauty. Tall, taller than Ful. Then again, most people were.

 

While the adults talked, Ful said nothing, adjusting his cap over his dark unruly hair for the n-th time. He was wearing bulky overalls Isha, his old mentor, now long gone, had given him in place of the uniform which had been scorched off last week. He’d rather have stayed put at the traveling grounds, or even fallen back a little. The last thing he wanted was to overreach himself, right at the start of his career, yet the others were determined.

 

Ful was uneasy following the asha’aman. But Nox had rank and authority for backing him up with enlisted men, so Ful followed Merdyn and the others to the new gateway Nox made.

 

He flashed a grin up at Merdyn. “You first."

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Ely eyed the silvery line that appeared up ahead, resolving itself slowly into a gateway. She'd been through one of these things a couple of times before, during the Tanchico mission. That didn't mean she was comfortable with the idea. Not by a long shot. Convenient it might be. Quick it definitely was. But it was still not natural! 

 

She grimaced slightly, her left hand tightening on the hilt of one of the duelling daggers at her belt, as her head objected to movement. Not a particular movement. It wasn't being picky. It didn't like any movement at all this morning. It was pounding fit to burst but she refused to show any weakness in front of the Sergeant. He seemed to delight in adding pain on top of pain when he realised any of them were in a delicate condition. Last night had been... well, she couldn't recall what last night had been. Other than excessive. There was no other explanation. Ely didn't get hangovers! Except she apparently had one now.

 

Ely did a quick mental inventory of her physical state as the whole group of soldiers came to a halt behind the Sergeant.

 

No nausea. Praise the Light for small mercies. 

 

She was just congratulating herself on that minor victory when words from the conversation up ahead caught her attention.

 

Manual labour? 

 

A chorus of subdued groans issued from some of those around her. She wasn't the only one suffering. A small consolation. The Sergeant had only told them that the Wolfkin required some help and they were the lucky ones chosen to provide it. She glared at the back of the Sergeant's head.

 

He knew, she thought. Of course he knew.

 

A glance around the faces in the group proved it. Many of them had been in The Gap Inn last night. She rolled her eyes in disgust then straightened her shoulders. If they had to do this, best to get on with it. Complaining wouldn't change anything. Maybe something could be salvaged from the day. A visit to a Stedding and a chance to meet Wolfkin didn't happen often after all. Ely directed her attention to those gathered near the Sergeant. The woman was clearly one of the 'kin. She seemed to be the only one of her kind though. The others were all Black Tower initiates. They had to be, none of them had those trademark golden eyes. 

 

Finally, those in charge seemed to reach a consensus and everyone began to move. Ely took a deep breath, set her shoulders and, in her turn, stepped resolutely through the gateway. 

 

 

 

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Arkin grinned up at the sun, stretching and squatting to the floor and springing back up again. He clapped one of his neighbours on the shoulder. "What a wonderful morning, don't you agree?" he called to them, the bells in his hair ringing. 

The young infantryman next to him stared at him with a eyes full of sorrow and regret, and Arkin laughed, bumping his shoulder. Arkin was a small man. Bumping anyone's shoulder was more likely to send him flying in the opposite direction than push anyone over, but today, the infantryman stumbled. Ah, kids these days. 

Arkin gestured out to the world at large. The Citadel was bustling. It always was. Everywhere, people were trudging off to training or missions or bed, or the pub. More than a few glances were being sent their way though as the rock in the river of this hustle and bustle. Ahead of them were strangers. Black Tower initiates, a Wolfkin woman, and a silvery gate of power. What fun! What an adventure. It had been a while since one of these had been had. 

Those ahead still seemed to be in conversation, so Arkin starting singing the song he'd begun last night, hearing a chorus of groans from around him. Not from his singing-that was beautiful and rich as ever, thank you very much-but from the memories that song stirred up. Last night had been terribly fun, but that fun had definitely kicked off when Arkin had climbed onto a table and started this drinking song. He felt a brotherly kind of pride for all these Inn-mates who were having such a rough morning due to the fine performance he'd dragged out of them last night. 

He, of course, was a professional. It took a lot more than an evening taunting his Bandmates into stupors to get him frowning in the morning. As a scout, Arkin was mostly exempt from this call-out of course. He had far better things to do like pretend to be a guard of the lord's estate in the east, or hide in trees and yell at the scouts who were worse than him at it. They called it training the recruits, but training in Arkin's memory had never been quite that much fun. 

But this was an adventure! The good kind of adventure not like Tanchico. This one had the power and wolves and new places and travel by gate, all with a very limited chance of them being attacked. As if Arkin would miss that. So he'd tagged along with his Inn-mates. Arinth had said he would as well but whether or not the man made it out of bed in time for that remained to be seen. 

The group slowly began to move forward, and Arkin cut off his singing, spotting Ely in the crowd. He'd known Ely before last night, but he knew her far better now. He put his hand on her shoulder as they both passed through the gateway. She shrank away from it a little as they went through, and Arkin glanced up at it with a grin as they came out the other side. "Terin is ignoring me, Ely. You'll agree that this morning is a bloody wonderful morning won't you? Look where we are!" He gestured out once more, this time to a forest full of new smells, new people, new nooks and crannies. 

He scanned the area on automatic, mapping it out in his head, checking out the treeline, listening for the normal sounds of this particular forest so he could tell when it was disrupted. There was no real need. The Wolfkin had the area secure, he had no doubt, and they were expecting no danger today. But it was Arkin's job to know if some came anyway, and he was flaming brilliant at it. So he checked the tree-line, just in case. He spared a glance for the Sergeant running this little operation in case they wanted him to actually do some legitimate work, but he was in the middle of a conversation. 

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Arinth blinked in the morning sun. His eye brows raised slightly in surprise as he realized that the light did not cause stabbing pain. He turned his head and listened to the mumble and chatter of the men around him. He heard each voice clearly. Everything was not muffled like it normally was. He did not feel miserable. He had drunk the night before. He had gotten drunk the night before. Was it possible that he had stopped before he drank himself into a hangover? He scratched his beard. It seemed unlikely but then what other explanation was there.

 

He shrugged his shoulders and looked around again, this time searching for Arkin. It had been from the scout that he had heard about this little excursion. He had been buried under a stack of paperwork his Lieutenant had said needed a second signature. Arinth had been half way through them before he realized that the first signature hadn’t even been his Lieutenant’s. His outpouring of curses and oaths however, proved fruitless. It was at that moment he realized that Arkin was talking. He had almost forgotten his friend had come to visit. He tried to put his mind in reverse and recall what Arkin had just said that had caught his attention. Day Trip. Manual Labor. There was a time when that would have sounded absolutely terrible to him but as he looked at the daunting stack of work he still had left he realized that that time was long past. What Arkin was describing sounded almost like a vacation, at least from thinking. There were worse things than getting a little dirty.

 

Arinth spotted his friend slip through the gateway ahead. The scout probably hadn’t expected him to really come. He couldn’t blame him. He walked through the gateway. It was still a disorienting experience to be in one place one moment and a completely different another. He found Arkin close by. He was staring up at the tree line. Arinth was tempted to rush up and grab him from behind but decided against it. It probably wouldn’t be good for either of them to get in trouble right away or give the Kin and and Black Tower the wrong impression about the Band. They were, in a way, ambassadors and were representing the Band.

 

So instead he settled for stepping up beside his friend with his hands on his hips. “It looks like its going to be an easy day I think.”

 

Edited by Arinth

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The combined squads - some cavalry, others infantry or scout he wasn’t sure of their insignias - of the band moved in through Nox's silver slashed gateway and joined up with the black tower units. It was all very calm, very matter of fact. There were a few handshakes and greetings. No whooping, no cheering, nothing to betray the pact, this tentative alliance they forged. Nothing to acknowledge the incredible fact that there was one of the kin, the farm, and the band embassy all gathered together under one goal. There was something infinitely strange but awe inspiring about watching the band approach. He heard the bells jingling from one of the men’s hair as he came through, gently joining the low wash of voices from all the different people gathered on this side of the platform.

 

“Quite a sight,” noted Ful. He couldn’t quite shake the notion of intrusion. Intrusion into their black tower regiment. First, there were women. That was rare for the black tower. Some of the men on the farm had wives or sweethearts, and camp followers to fulfill the men’s needs, but they mostly lived in town not at the black tower itself. Most of the black tower men had left their loves and lives behind. Ful was well aware his brothers-in-arm genuinely welcomed the citadel group, but there was indeed a strangeness to see friendly faces from the band particularly that of the distinctly looking females. The only females he encountered at the black tower had been two forcibly bonded aes sedai in attack leader Isha’s house before they too went away. He shifted uncomfortably at the remembrance. He resented them a lot, and he had been sure the feeling had been mutual. The fact that he would never, ever see either Faile or Eqwina Sedai didn’t seem to matter to Ful. Try as he might the last few months they wouldn’t leave his mind, and certainly wouldn’t leave his dreams.

 

He’d never spoken about them to anyone. He felt vulnerable. He felt open. He couldn’t for the life of him explain why the memory of them refused to fade, except for maybe it had to do with Isha’s memory . . . Ful hoped if he didn’t talk about them, some day they wouldn’t remain so bright in his mind. Maybe, somehow, this was the way. It made him feel better to think of it like that.

 

Ful was used to the presence of men and their activities, relaxing, cleaning kit, stripping weapons, smoking, arm-wrestling, talking, comparing stories, comparing wounds, drinking. The unexpected presence of this many women put him on edge. Of course there would be females in the regiment, and every last one of them was most likely the object of at least one bander’s affections by the way the men looked at the women . . .

 

He rejected the idea, flushing a little. He’d never courted, and it didn’t really appeal to him at this moment. Turning back to their mission, Ful was sure they’d be called soon to assist with whatever task at hand.

 

Ful Haert

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Tristram Landorin, rebellious tomboy, had lied about being of age and attached herself like a barnacle to the Band during their rescue mission in Tarabon, and she had never let go. Nor had the Band of the red hand ever had the heart to scrape her off their hull. Owing to this persistence, habit, and foremost — convenience, she became a private at the Citadel. 

 

Tris was inconsistent, ill-tempered and unpredictable. Also, her youth, attitude and inexperience made the girl generally troublesome to deal with. On paper, in reports from her teachers, it was often hard to justify her continued association with the unit.

 

Tris rocked her head from side to side and waved her dust-smeared hands in some half-hearted business as she saluted her elders.

 

If nothing else, Tris had been with the Band, stubborn, all the way since Tarabon. She’d seen, if not jumped in,  many fights, brawl and games of chance; she’d survived the tour to Tarabon and back. Every step of the way, her lot had been tied to the Band in a way that was not easy to undo. 

 

And Tris went along whenever she got the chance to get out of the Citadel. That morning, the girl followed the senior officers - the scouts and the sergeants - wiped her grubby palm across her equally grubby cheek uncertainly, and found a position near the back, and listened. After the meeting broke up, their line advanced steadfastly through the asha’aman’s gateway. 

 

Tris paused. She furrowed her brow, breathing deeply to keep her hands from trembling. Oh, certainly. No problem. She hadn’t gone through a gateway before. But she didn’t have to show her fear. Bite me, Tris challenged the gateway in front of her as she anticipated her turn.

 

When the tall, thin private in front of her, halting and clumsy, had gone through the gateway, she frowned more deeply and tapped her grubby fingers against her chin.

 

. . .

 

Tris hurried and made an over-hasty run at the treeline on the opposite side, reckoning if she didn’t hurry that silver gateway would cut her in half.

 

Yes!

 

Having charged through alive, Tris turned around and stuck her tongue out at the gateway. She’d beaten it; she knew she would.

 

Tris Landorin

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Holding gateways was his job.  He'd seen people hesitate going through.  He'd seen people bolt through afraid he might cut them in half by the doorway collapsing.  Others walked around it endlessly until finally they believed they could step through.

 

But Nox had never seen a person turn around and stick their tongue out at the gateway.  Or him.  The gesture made Nox chuckle to himself as he stepped through to the other side and looked at the last of the stragglers who were still plodding through.  Moving an army was tiring.  Nox wanted to sit down under one of these tall trees with a skin of water and let the cool breeze refresh him.  

 

Battling inside as he had been Saidin tried to thrawt his every attempt but Nox won and with the slick slime of the taint gone, it was possible to actually enjoy the light on his skin so to speak even though it was dark and could potentially swallow him alive.  But he liked it, and he needed it.  It was the only reason he was anyone.  With out it he'd just be another whore on some street turning  a trick to get the next coin to feed himself and those he cared about.  He needed to relax, but he wanted to be useful more.  No relaxing under the tree for him.  They had a well to dig, which the woves really only needed one or two asha'man to do it, not a whole contingent of people.  But what was an alliance if not to help even if it was just cheering the other guy on.

 

The last of people were through the gateway and Nox let the weave pop out.  He watched the silver line collapse and then finally disappear leaving behind the afterburn in his vision.  He turned to their so called project leader.  "What's next?"

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                Merdyn cheerfully marched through Nox’s gateway. He had no fear of it snapping shut, not with Nox holding the weave. It was no secret around the Black Tower that Nox was the most talented in weaving the Gateways; Merdyn had found that out soon after he had begun studying under the man. Nox had skill and talent, but he was not cocky about it. Merdyn appreciated that trait, if only because Merdyn could be very cocky about his own skills and talents.

 

                Ful had motioned for Merdyn to go first, of course. The young man was like a brother to him and he would always go first so long as they were together. Not because Merdyn felt important or even privileged, it was because he wanted to make sure there was no danger on the other side. Some men had whispered that the Warders and the Aiel acted much the same around their own charges. That validated Merdyn’s decision.

 

                Looking around at all the new faces, Merdyn actually felt a little nervous. That was new. He was usually self-assured and in control of the situation, but this was different. He actually wanted to make a good impression. Oh, he always wanted to make a good impression; but here he was representing the Black Tower and forming bonds with other members of their Alliance. For the first time! He had never been entrusted with that much responsibility at the Black Tower. The Soup Kitchen came close, but this had the potential for far-flung consequences.

 

                The political portion of his brain couldn’t help but kick about. This was important. Anything he said or did here would reflect on the other men of his faction. That was not to mention that any misstep might harm relations between the Black Tower and their friends. He could afford no mistakes today.

 

                Merdyn tugged at Ful, leading him away from the center and out towards the edges of their gathering. He would have preferred to stick by Nox and the others, but his need for privacy was greater. Looking around at their ragtag group, Merdyn talked lowly to Ful, “You know… I’m a little nervous… This is the first time I’ve been around our ‘friends.’ Those eyes! I cannot believe… Grandmother would surely faint if she saw that her bedtime stories were true. I knew about them, but seeing the Wolfkin in the flesh,” Merdyn, for the first time in his life, was speechless. His mouth turned into a wide circle for a moment as he gapped openly. If his tutors could see him now… Well, his mouth wouldn’t be hanging open if his tutors could see him now.

 

                Gathering his wits, Merdyn shook himself and continued, “I just can’t believe! You’d think after learning I could channel, there would be no shock for anything; but nope. There is still plenty. Oh, I have so many questions, Ful… But, I’m nervous,” Merdyn gave a light, airy laugh. Certainly not his usual chuckle. He was off balance and it was plain to see. “I haven’t felt this nervous since… Light. I don’t know when.”

 

                Wiping at his brow, Merdyn exhaled and tried to attain the Void. It didn’t work. He looked at Ful with a sudden realization, “Oh, I’m sorry I pulled you away like that… I panicked. I don’t normally panic. You know I don’t. Light,” He was babbling. Stop. Merdyn. He exhaled and went on with a calm face, “Forgive me. I just- Light, Ful, look at us! This makes it feel real! We’ve been at the Black Tower for so long, I forget there’s anything else out there. I’ve been complacent at the Farm. Cooking and studying and training. That’s all I do. Today is a bit of a shock… It is needed, to be sure, but I am shocked. All of us, together like this. I can't help but think that we really are… Powerful. We just might win the Last Battle if this is only a fraction of each of our groups.”

 

                A few starred openly and others nodded appreciatively at the comments. It was clear that others had felt the same way. Every one of them was from different backgrounds, but they were all united under a common cause. Each of them had their own skills and knowledge to add to their force. It stirred emotions in Merdyn that he didn’t even know were there. The whole thing was a tad overwhelming, but for all the right reasons.

 

                And, for the first time in a long time, he just didn’t know what to do with himself.

Edited by Oddpositions

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Ful hesitated for a second before he allowed himself to be led away from their group. Merdyn had come into this with his attitude set to ‘confident’ and it was the first time Ful had seen him falter. 

 

When Ful stared at Merdyn — he was a handsome man who deserved to be looked at — he saw how off the other was behaving . . .

 

He decided to respond with an agreeable smile and curteous nod. The smile and nod combo was inspired by two things. For one, Merdyn helped him tremendously and Ful felt like giving back since the other confided in him.

 

For another, the man, this Andoran noble, had an air about him, something that said he was more than just dangerous. He was still and contained, and his gestures were small and restrained, but Ful felt that was because an effort of pure willpower was going on beneath the schooled facade. Merdyn's face, half-lit by the morning light, was calm, unreadable. As if the other man was used to keeping his feelings and flesh in check.

 

So Ful did his best smile and nod, and clapped a hand on the other man’s broader shoulders. He assessed the three others around them a little further. There was something off about them too. It made him pretty uneasy to watch, so he glanced back at Merdyn, wondering if perhaps the others in their party were nervous.

 

“Oh absolutely,” he said in a light, accented voice. “I’m looking forward to seeing their abilities as our work gets underway. Many hands make light work."

 

Ful Haert

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A nice looking man with chestnut hair and a scar down one cheek looked out at her from beyond the gateway. His black uniform weeded around his tall, thin body as he stepped toward them. He seemed faintly amused, as if someone Tris couldn’t see had told him something funny just before he’d walked to this side.

 

She waited. She could hear the clatter of armor and voices in the distance. Near her, the man in black asked a beautiful woman, the person in charge for instructions.

 

Out of the blue, a thought struck as she watched the silver gateway wink out of existence. Surely this was what other, normal people were thinking too.

 

Tris fixed the man with her amused look this time. 

 

“Thanks for your hard work. Compared with you guys,” this she said while gesturing at the black tower crew, “aren’t we just window dressing?” 

 

Tris looked up at Nox and smiled her sweetest smile in expectation.

 

Tris Landorin

Troublemaker

Edited by Lih-Lyh
grammar :)

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(Is it too late to bump this? I'm going to say it's fine haha)

 

Arkin groaned at his most dramatic when Arinth said the fatal words. He put a sorrowful hand on his friend's shoulder and shook his head. "Arinth my dearest friend, I rescue you from that bloody den of paper and this is how you repay me? Now why would you go and say a thing like that?" he asked. He fixed Arinth with a beady eye. "Anything that goes wrong today is all your flaming fault," he told him. "However, as I am ever your brother in arms, I shan't tell a soul that today's inevitable misadventure came from your tongue. My lips are sealed." He put his hands on his hips and shook his head, bouncing on his toes and setting his bells a-jingling. "Now then!" he announced. "Let's go be Band ambassadors. That's what we're here for, right?"

Arkin vaguely remembered something about a well, but he left that for when the higher ups had figured out an order of events. Arkin was more than happy to go firm up the alliance and drag Arinth along with him. 

 

In very high spirits, Arkin spotted a pair of black uniforms gathered in a tight huddle. Of course, he spotted plenty of other people too. He kept tabs on the important parties as the groups slowly shuffled, awkward now they were in each other's space. The Band were not used to working with others, but they were certainly more used to it than the Black Tower or the Wolfkin were. This alliance would be important. Even just the tiny delegations each group had sent today made for a fearsome crew. Perhaps they weren't the most battle-ready, or the most cohesive, but Arkin would rather drink an infantry brew than come across this motley crew in a dark alley. Imagine them when they were actually able to work together.

 

Well, that all started with a conversation. He grinned and winked at the new trainee Tris - she seemed to have just joined the Band one day and never left. She got on the nerves of plenty of  officers, but Arkin found her antics hilarious. He really ought to get on top of her training. That was something he was meant to do now, wasn't it? She'd already struck up a conversation with a black coat. Good on her. It was their turn now. Arkin checked to see if Arinth was still with him. He usually was. 

 

Arkin approached the two huddled asha'man and smiled brightly. "Morning, gentlemen!" He stuck out a hand. "Arkin Fletcher, Scout from the Citadel. Here to do the grunt work. And yourselves?" 

 

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The gateway finally closed behind the last of the contingent and Rhya stood, just for a moment, watching the air where it had been before shaking herself slightly and inhaling deeply of the crisp mountain air. 

 

"An amazing feat, Nox," she nodded respectfully at the Asha'man, "and a usefully fast way to cover ground." She didn't add that she could sense the slight feeling of fatigue from his efforts or mention her surmise that it was a limited ability.  Rather like walking the Dream can be for us. Instead, she answered his question. "Next is to get everyone moving to the Tracker Lodge."

 

Words from further away, clearly intended to be private, caught her attention but she didn't comment aloud on those either. So the noble was nervous was he? Rhya's lips tilted in a half smile. He seemed young. Possibly over confident, like a cub who would attack a bear because it had more bravery than sense. A little nervousness would do him no harm and she wasn't about to disclose how acute her hearing was by providing reassurance.


"A warm welcome to the Stedding, everyone." Rhya's voice was pitched to carry easily over the low murmur of conversation. "We're not in the Stedding proper at the moment. Some of my brothers and sisters will join us at the excavation site later. We have an easy journey to get there that should take less than a couple of hours." Once more, her ears caught hastily muffled comments. "I could have directed us closer to our destination but I think... hope... that some of our new allies would like to experience the effect of the Stedding?" She arched an eyebrow in query. And, not a little, in challenge. "I should warn our Black Tower friends that they won't be able to use the Power if they cross the boundary, as I'm sure many of you have heard. You will all be perfectly safe though. There are no threats inside the Stedding. For any who would like to, you may take a few steps this way," she indicated to her right, just before the tree line. Before she could continue, a chorus of gasps arose around her along with one or two shouts of alarm, and Rhya chuckled quietly, laying a hand affectionately on the head of the black wolf who had padded silently up beside her.

 

She had known of his approach since not long after coming through the gateway, their mental connection snapping back into place, but had not wanted to spoil his fun in startling these new friends. "This is Shadow, my wolf companion. You will likely see other wolves as the day progresses so do not be surprised if they approach you. They are curious about anyone who enters their territory. Now... who would like to try crossing the boundary?" 

 

 

 

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The gateway was closed and everyone was through.  It was tiring, and being this close to the stedding made Nox nervous.  He didn't want to be without his power.  It was a curiosity but no, he wouldn't cross the line unless he absolutely had to.  And this was optional - so no!  he thought to himself.

 

She had made the comment he'd heard a lot over the past years.  But it was normal to him now.  He remembered the first time he stepped through the gates into Tear from the Farm.  It was the first time he'd been awake to do so, and it had been daunting at first.  Now he did it with ease.  Which only went to show he could adapt.  Even if it was anxiety bound - he could adapt.

 

Nox looked around for the other two under his charge and found them with a few members of the Band of the Red Hand.  He only knew they weren't wolfkin, their eyes were normal.  Every wolfkin in the area all had those golden eyes.  He didn't want to interrupt but he also didn't want them to get too far out of range.  They were his students after all.

 

Nox answered Rhya.  "I don't think I will."  He said it loud enough for Merdyn and Ful to hear "Though they might want to give it a go."  Nox had no interest in losing his power.  But they were far more curious than he was.

 

 

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Arinth grinned at his friend's words. Arkin was right of course. Expecting an easy day was a sure invitation for things to go completely wrong. Somehow he just couldn't believe that was going to be the case though. The fresh air gave him a boost of energy. He made a note that he would have to get out of the citadel more often.


He followed Arkin as they went and introduced themselves to the other leaders in the alliance. He suppressed a shiver at the men in black. The fact that they could kill him without a second thought was not pleasant, especially when they could go mad at any moment. They were on his side though. They were on his side. He repeated the thought a third time and then forced himself to dismiss the thought.


He blinked at the sudden appearance of the wolf. The woman might have warned the group of its approach but Arinth had a bad habit of losing his focus and not listening to everything other people said. He felt the wolf's eyes fixed on him and he meet its gaze. Something stirred deep inside him. This was something more than a dog. He felt in the wolf a wisdom that he would never attain and a threat of violence that he knew all too well. He respected the wolf.


The group seemed to have mixed reactions to the news of the Stedding. Arinth himself, felt a sense of relief, but he did his best to hid it and keep his face stern. The previous sense of helplessness was gone. He rolled his broad shoulders and glanced over at Arkin. His friend was also keeping his face free of expression. He was sure that his friend was curious to see just what the stedding was like, assuming that he had not seen a Stedding before. Arkin had a way of surprising him. For all he knew, even after all the time they had been together, Arkin had visited one before.


"My friend, I know there is little chance of you or I creating trouble..." he could be barely keep a straight face at the statement but continued on,  "We need to be on our toes to make sure nobody else causes trouble either. Sometimes people get nervous around new friends." He chuckled as he said it. He wasn't really concerned, but it was better to be safe than sorry. Yet in spite of that, he couldn't shake the feeling that this was going to be a good day.

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Arkin grinned menacingly at Arinth's words. No causing trouble? "Oh of course not. We're on our very best behaviour, are we not?" he asked, still grinning. Still, Arinth had a point. Arkin glanced over the other Banders who had made the trip. Most of them joked and lounged about with a kind of reckless bravado the Band managed well. Still, there were plenty of them casting nervous glances at the black-coated men, and the strange golden eyes of the wolfkin woman. 

Arkin dealt with the Black Tower folk in the same way he dealt with most people he assumed vastly outmatched him. He ignored them. No point worrying about someone who could likely as not kill him. Arkin couldn't stop them going crazy, much as he couldn't stop them from throwing him over the mountains or turning him to a fireball if they wanted to. Best not to think on these things. 

The nervous Banders didn't have long to worry about it though, as the woman, who must be the leader of the Wolfkin, stepped up and started speaking. A couple of hours, with some wolves. Alright, that sounded perfectly doable. Another grin spread over Arkin's face. The black-coats wouldn't have their powers for much longer then. He could almost see the relief in the tense faces of the Banders. 

He himself was somewhat more nervous about the wolves. He knew these were not wild wolves...well, they were...but they weren't hungry, at least. But killing machines who might go mad at any moment were far more simple for Arkin to wrap his head around. Wolves could run him down and eat him no worries. And where there was one wolf, there were always others. He scanned the treeline again, eyes and ears sharp. If anyone in the Band could spot the wolves, it was him. 

 

His ears practically pricked up as the wolf woman asked who wanted to try crossing into the Stedding. Him! He wanted that! As much as he had travelled, it had primarily been to and from large cities. His forest experience was fair, but he had never strayed so far from a city that he could come across a Stedding. 

He glanced up at Arinth, grinning, and scanned across the other Banders, none of whom seemed overly keen to be the first to go, though markedly more so than the Asha'man. 

Throwing his hand in the air, Arkin ducked and weaved his way up to the wolf woman. And the wolf at her side. It was huge. All wolves were, he supposed, but still. Arkin was not a large man. This wolf could eat him for its midday meal. Still, it didn't seem to be hungry right then, and Arkin wanted to walk into the Stedding. "I'm sure it can't be too strange for regular folk!" he said, laughing. 

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Soldier Ful joined Nox at his makeshift gateway. He walked down the line of people and clambered deftly up onto stone terrace of the wolf territory where the volunteers were drawn up, adjusting his cap and sword. Wind carried ash washed back across the dozens of men and women of the Band of red hand pattern, with cavalry, infantry and support scouts. 

 

Nearby, a tall bander with bells in his hair laughed into the sooty air. The notion of working together seemed to please him and his friends. Ful saw the scout, infantry and private grinning up at him from the lower spaces of the tree line.

 

The wolfkin-in-charge began to explain to her allies what she wanted them to do, how they’d be deployed, what objectives they were to achieve. Her voice was relayed clearly to all the alliance parties. Her briefing turned into a question for Nox.

 

Ful nodded, hearing Nox’s reply. He and Nox’s other black tower student Merdyn were more than ready to see action. They pulled into an eager huddle around Nox. 

 

“You alright, Nox?” Ful asked. The asha’aman seemed pale. 

 

He knew full well Nox wasn’t, but he suspected it had less to do with the task at hand and more to do with the cut-off-from-saidin stedding ahead of him. Ful could certainly sympathize with that. Like all the male channellers, the power was Ful’s main weapon.

 

The asha’aman had also been nothing but helpful and Ful was most anxious to show his appreciation. 

 

“I suppose you’re going to tell me this is a lesson,” he said. “I’ll go first since I'm the youngest. I will, however, feel happier if you and Merdyn will watch over me as a surety against disaster."

 

In truth, Ful had never been in a stedding at all before this day. It was one of the few places still intact after destruction of their overrun world.

 

But it felt like coming home. 

 

He moved forward, leading his brethren up to the boundary, daring the open neutrality of the stedding— winning back public trust one small step at a time. 

 

He walked around and tested the link to the source, and made sure the stedding had total coverage within it. 

 

Nothing.

 

He was cut off, and there was no one of authority to back him up.

 

Ful inclined his capped head reverently and thanked the lady in charge. 

 

Ful Haert

Soldier

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Ely barely noticed her brief trip through the gate as a hand slapped down on her shoulder just as she stepped through. She flinched away from the sensation, almost expecting it to set off more fireworks in her brain. Emerging in sunlight at the other end, her eyes found the face of a grinning Arkin and she sighed audibly. If anything his grin widened in response and she couldn't help but smile ruefully in return.

 

"Terin is ignoring me, Ely. You'll agree that this morning is a bloody wonderful morning won't you? Look where we are!" 

 

"Yes, sure, I'll agree. Will it shut your singing up? Quite a trip this is going to be. New experiences all round I suspect. By the way," she glared at the Scout in sudden suspicion, "what did you do to my drinks last night? I don't get hangovers."

 

Before Arkin could answer, Arinth appeared. The two were usually joined at the hip. Where one went, the other was sure to follow. Ely rolled her eyes as Arinth spoke.

 

“It looks like its going to be an easy day I think.”

 

"Not if that Wolfkin woman has anything to do with it," Ely responded. "They have work they want done and I don't think she's someone you two can fool." Her gaze found the wolf and she astutely decided to keep a respectful distance. Then another voice intruded on Ely's inspection of the rather impressive collection of troops gathered close by.

 

“Thanks for your hard work. Compared with you guys, aren’t we just window dressing?” 

 

"Oh Light, not again." The young girl was grinning up at the Black Tower man who'd opened the gateway as though butter wouldn't melt. Of all the people to mess with. Just as Tris opened her mouth to say more, Ely's strong fingers wrapped firmly around the back of the girl's neck with a warning pressure. 

 

"Sorry, sir," she said, throwing off a brief salute in Nox's direction. "Young ones never know when to be seen and not heard. Hope she wasn't bothering you."

 

She didn't wait for an answer, swiftly marching Tris back to the other Banders and adjuring her to stay put. She was quite fond of the little mischief maker but with her head feeling so sensitive, she could do without Tris' antics. Thankfully the girl seemed to listen to Ely most of the time, possibly realising that, if pushed, the older woman wouldn't stomach any nonsense or be easily wrapped around her finger the way others had been. With a final hard stare, Ely turned her attention back to the knot of higher ranks and listened to what... she tried to remember the unusual name mentioned earlier.... "ah Rhyanon, yes"... what Rhyanon was saying. 

 

"We can go into the Stedding? Are you two going?" she asked Arkin and Arinth. "I think I will. May never get the chance again." The two men broke off their own conversation and answered in the affirmative. "Let's go then. Better not hold proceedings up or the Sergeant will be on our backs...again." The men nodded an agreement and the trio set off towards the tree line. 

 

Rhyanon greeted them as they drew close, indicating the spot a few feet away where they would cross the boundary and reminding them not to venture too far in. When one of the Black Tower folk standing nearby asked why not, the wolfkin explained that there was too great a risk of disease being spread in a village where the people were fairly isolated. "People going that far are checked by our Sages and quarantined until cleared." It was said with a friendly smile but the tone was a clear warning. It made sense and everyone willing to experience the Stedding reassured the woman that they understood. 

 

"So, we're not staying inside the Stedding," Ely murmured softly to her fellow Banders. "In and back out again then. Let's not overstay our welcome." There were a few disappointed expressions but everyone nodded agreement. As she looked back up, Ely started, finding the wolfkin's sharp golden eyes on her followed up with a swift nod of thanks. Burn me, that's some hearing! she thought more than a little taken aback.

 

Ely moved forward steadily, not sure what to expect. The stories she'd heard of Stedding were fragmented, often disagreeing in the details and none of those telling the stories had actually been to one.

 

It was like nothing she'd ever felt before. Her eyes narrowed as she felt a strange frisson wash over her, then widened in shock as she recognised the overwhelming sense of well being for what it was. She took a few halting steps further into the woods, looking about in wonderment and catching similar expressions on the faces closest to her. And then the dam broke. All the walls carefully erected against her grief tumbled as though they were nothing and Ely dropped to her knees, her frame wracked by silent sobs as she fought to contain a shred of dignity.

 

As she finally got herself under control, long moments later, a light touch came on her arm and she found Rhyanon beside her, eyes filled with...not sympathy...empathy. The woman handed her a flask. "We all react differently. Have some of this, it's a little stronger than water." 

 

Ely inclined her head respectfully, taking the hip flask and a quick gulp of its contents, gasping as the fiery liquid burned down her throat. "Good stuff," she acknowledged, handing the vessel back with a slight smile. It was certainly helping to restore her composure. The experience would have to wait until later when she had privacy to think it through. Rhyanon laughed, a rich throaty sound that reminded Ely of silk and steel, and then beckoned Ely to follow her back out of the Stedding. "We're the last," she stated. They parted ways without any further words and Ely, with a reluctant look at the forest behind her, gathered her usual wall-like demeanour about her and made her way back to the other Banders.

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As with many of the buildings in the Stedding, the Trackers' Lodge was built in such a way as to blend in with its surroundings. Owen was doing his best to appear inconspicuous as well, although why he thought playing his flute would be inconspicuous was a mystery. He wasn’t playing any particular tune, just a progression of notes and scales, listening for the song. Today, though, there was no song, only a pleasant series of notes, neither mournful nor joyous; but there was emotion, something worth remembering Owen thought.

Just then the door opened and Rhya entered the Lodge. No doubt she had the members of the Black Tower and the Band with her. Owen decided to stay out of the way and let Rhya take charge, it would do her good to see the respect from non Wolfkin that she deserved. Owen was sat to the left and out of sight of the doorway to those entering, although he knew Rhya would know he was there, but the others would have to look for him. Turning her head she gave Owen the kind of smile that people reserve for their loved one and Owen could not help but smile back. She had that effect on him. Just then, Ice placed her head on his lap and if a wolf could be said to be content then that was what Owen felt from her.

The Black Tower and Band members started to enter the Lodge and Owen drew back a bit, all the more to observe without being seen.

 

White Fang

 

Ranger Leader

 

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Nox waved off Ful's concern.  "I'm fine."  He prayed he didn't have to go past the thin veil that kept him from losing his grip on reality.  It wasn't the madness, he knew that, just extreme paranoia and caution.  But the power made Nox feel safe and he didn't want to go in the stedding.

 

"I was told we didn't have to go in.  I can't help dig a well inside there."   He wasn't going to dig a hole for them with a shovel. If they thought that was why he was here, they were mistaken.  He could dig a well with the Power out here.  And if it was in there, then he was just going to be transportation.  

 

Nox waited for instructions.  He wasn't going inside no matter what.

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Rhya watched the last of the visitors return to their places with interest. The mix of people, cultures and backgrounds in each was every bit as broad and varied as the 'kin were. Strange times that brought such diverse ingredients into such cohesive entities. She felt almost convinced by Kar's arguments in favour of this alliance. With a little work, these disparate groups could work very effectively together.

 

Her gaze swept the gathering, assuring herself that nobody was missing. She wasn't about to be responsible for strangers traipsing unaccompanied around the Stedding.  Not that they'd get far with the wolves and the Rangers patrolling the entire area but it would be careless and wouldn't reflect well on her. "Or on Owen's training," she reminded herself, and that would never do. Mistakes were one thing, everyone made them, but putting the 'kin at risk, that was an altogether different kind of error.

 

A wet nose touched her fingers lightly, bringing her attention to the wolf at her side. Time to move. Others wait. Shadow's sendings were brief without specifics and he was already gone, ranging ahead on their route, before she'd acknowledged them. Clearly others of the 'kin were at the Tracker Lodge nice and early.

 

Rhya moved closer to those in charge to ensure they could hear her easily enough. Filtering instructions down through the ranks wasn't her responsibility after all, no need to shout. 

 

"If you're ready to move, we can begin the journey to the Lodge," she glanced briefly at Nox before continuing, debating whether to reveal her acute hearing. In the end, the scent of determination mixed with extreme paranoia coming off the man in waves made the decision for her. Her eyes reassuring, she continued, "We came south west from The Citadel to land here. We're at the north eastern end of the Wolfkin Territory so we're about to double back on ourselves and head north then a little eastwards for several miles to reach The Lodge. Away from The Stedding." She let that hang for a moment. "If you could all get your troops moving, I'll set an easy pace. It shouldn't take more than an hour and a half." 

 

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

 

Rhya's flowing gait was an easy pace. For a Wolfkin. Most of the Banders, with a few grumbles that seemed to have a lot to do with activities from the previous night, were keeping up and proving that they too were trained well; a disciplined military unit rather than the rag tag bunch of assorted men and women they might first appear. The Black Tower men on the other hand were a real mixed bag. Some were having no trouble, others were almost coping, yet others looked like they'd never done any concentrated physical training. Which was possibly due to their ability to move large groups with the Power. Useful, but a handicap in some ways if they came to rely solely on it.

 

Or perhaps those struggling are just new and not yet adjusted to a training regime, Rhya thought, knowing that she certainly couldn't have kept this up when she first came to the Stedding. 

 

The trip was uneventful, no untoward reports coming back from the wolves keeping pace with the body of soldiers, and that meant Rhya was able, if not to relax, at least to enjoy the run. Skirting round the edge of the great lake, she took as direct a route through the foothills as possible. Most of the tracks the 'kin used were under the canopy of heavy forest but occasionally their short column crossed large clearings filled with wildflowers or forded shallow rivers winding their way down into one of the valleys. It'd be no simple job for an outsider to follow these trails.

 

By the time they had reached the Tracker Lodge, she was sensing little but hunger and thirst from those behind her and she grinned at the barely hidden exclamations of relief when the large building came into view.

 

"Be welcome, friends. We'll make a start on the work once everyone has refreshed themselves," Rhya ran lightly up the broad steps at the front of the Lodge, pushing the huge double doors wide and seeing at once that Aislyn's team had outdone themselves as the long, heavy oak table was laden down with food and drink for their guests. Her eyes, however, unerringly sought the presence she could sense even without the aid of the faint flute playing she'd caught from some distance away. Her smile warmed, softened, an intimacy reserved for only one person. "Hiding, White Fang?" the words were murmured, too soft for anyone else to hear over the noise of their appreciative chatter at the sight of the food, but the man they were directed at heard, winking in response. She tilted her head, regarding him fondly for a moment then turned back to their guests, busying herself with ensuring everyone had what they needed and directing them back outdoors where there was more space. Despite having a common room and an airy dining room in the Lodge, it wasn't meant to cater for more than a dozen people.

 

Twenty minutes later, with everyone rested once more and spirits high, Rhya deemed it time to get things moving. Addressing the gathering, she quickly outlined the plan to have a well constructed and explained that there was already a Power built cellar under the Lodge. 

 

"I should think we'll want to build the well far from the main building to avoid compromising that. Although I've been told the earth was specially strengthened, there's no point taking any risks with the Lodge itself. As you can see," she spoke directly to Nox, "there's plenty of space so I'm happy to entrust you with choosing the most suitable location." Turning slightly she directed her next comments to the Banders, "Our Tower friends may need some assistance removing debris and rubble so if some of you could help out there, the rest can get started helping the 'kin to build our secondary storage building." Rhya inclined her chin in the direction of several Wolfkin who had arrived quietly in the last few moments, unnoticed by the visitors. "You'll find tools and building materials around the back of the Lodge."

 

 

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