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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

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Ful Haert jogged up the curve of the parched field to join the men at the traveling grounds. There was a general bustle of activity coming from the neighboring hill where gateways were practiced or set up for use: the distant clatter of weapons and armor, conversations, a very occasional “bang!”

 

Ful, the young dedicated assigned to procure supplies out in the city, saluted the senior members as he approached the group of onlookers. He looked down at his fellow dedicated in the field, the asha’aman standing over them at the far edge of the field, watching them diligently. 

 

“What’s he doing?” he shot a sour look in the direction of the newly withered field trench, still exhaling smoke into the glassy sky.

 

“Don’t ask,” replied one of the soldiers. Ful glanced politely at the soldier, who made a respectful nod. Then he yawned. 

 

“Tired?” Ful asked. “You should take some rest while you can."

 

The other shrugged. “I sleep. But then the dreams come."

 

“Yea,” Ful nodded. The man didn’t seem particularly bothered about his dreams. But dreams were things Ful simply couldn’t deal with, didn’t understand the strangeness. He wasn’t ready for them. “The dreams here will get you. Keep trying. Sleep will come. So . . . what is he doing?”

 

“Not entirely sure. But that trench used to be overgrown. When I asked, he just said, practice - and we left it at that."

 

“I’ve come to buy supplies from Caemlyn. Is there a gateway set up for use?” Ful had no talent for gateways. He couldn’t even learn the weave. As such he needed somebody with the talent to help him get to Caemlyn.

 

The man shrugged again. “You have to to take it up with them.”

 

Ful slid down the dusty bank into the smoked-choked ditch. It was part of an old field system, a natural divider, but the neglect and abuse these students had imposed upon the trench had allowed the land to run wild, and now it withered. He picked his way over to a familiar face among the field of dedicated.

 

“Ready to go, Merdyn?” he asked with a smile. They’ve all got work waiting for them. His supply run was for Merdyn’s precious volunteer soup kitchen, so Ful doubted Merdyn would miss a chance to replenish stock.

Edited by Lih-Lyh

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                Merdyn smiled at Ful as he approached. Seizing Saidin, Merdyn wove an Illusion weave. Instantly, his hair had shifted to a dark shade of mahogany and his beard doubled in length as a mustache also appeared. Merdyn’s eyes changed to a dark brown and a few creases appeared at the corners.

 

                “Now I am! This will be my first time back in Camelyn since I left my Father’s estates… I do not know who might be in the city today, and I do not know if word has reached my family that I have joined the Black Tower. Hence the disguise. If you have to address me by a name in public while we are in Camelyn, please call me Tal’sin,” Merdyn said with his characteristic smile. He hoped he still looked attractive with the alterations. No handmirror in his scrip either.

 

                Still holding the One Power, Merdyn deftly wove a Gateway a few paces away. The door in the air showed a plastered stone wall, barrels stacked off to one side and an unlit lantern hanging opposite. “I know we shouldn’t Gateway into the city directly… But there’s this one alleyway I know that shouldn’t be frequented… I don’t appear to have hurt anyone either, so everything is well. Shall we be off then?”

 

                Merdyn playfully tugged at Ful’s arm and led him through the thicket of Dedicated. Without asking Ful, nor stopping, Merdyn lead them directly through the Gateway and into an alleyway in Camelyn. A few more Dedicated and Soilders followed after them. Most went off on their own, but one or two of them stayed, looking around questioningly.

 

                To the left and right were intersections that led off down one or two more paths which eventually let out onto the main thoroughfare of shops and peddlers. It should only take them a few minutes to reach it. The sun rode high in the sky and little shadow was cast around them. A cat hissed at Merdyn and Ful before running off down the alley and disappearing around a corner. Casks, wagons and wooden crates lined the path. Merdyn turned to Ful, “Just down that way. We take two lefts and then we should be out on the main street. I’ve got plenty of gold on me. If we can find a good price, I’ll buy a small pannier for us to carry the load. We can just push it with a nudge of Air. Ready then?”

Edited by Oddpositions

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The rising wind caught his hair. He screwed up his eyes while he brushed it aside and looked up at the dark clouds chasing across the sky. He stretched out his hand with the palm up, frowning. There was a storm in the air, thought Ful, let’s move before the rain comes.

 

At the gate marking the main merchants street, Ful stopped walking and turned to look at his friend, in wonder. The disguise was quite convincing, in particular the changes in his facial hair. “I don’t know if I can get used to your moustache, Tal’sin.” His voice trailed off as he allowed himself to be led to their destination. 

 

He glanced around at the colorful stalls-covered street, and after a moment, agreed “only if you'll let me make the bargains.” 

 

Ful really didn’t want Merdyn’s coins to feed them and clothe them and look out for them as long as his personal stash could. As dedicated, and some day asha’aman, they drew pensions from the black tower. That part wasn’t much, particularly in terms of charity, and they’d have to take care of their needs by making meager funds stretch.

 

Ful Haert

Ooc: thrifty son of merchants. Feel free to have him haggle like a Parisian fishwife at market :D

Edited by Lih-Lyh

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                Merdyn smirked at Ful’s comment on the mustache. It was definitely not Merdyn’s style, but all the more reason to use it. Father knew of his vanity. “Is it really that bad? I didn’t practice this look before leaving today, so I can only hope I got it right… Really? That bad, huh? Thanks for being honest, friend.”

 

                The pair made their way out of the alleyways with one of the Soldiers trailing behind. With a quick word and a handful of coin, Merdyn sent the strapping young fellow off to find a pannier or a wagon. They could have easily brought one from the Tower, but Merdyn hadn’t actually thought this through further than his list of foodstuffs to procure. It only dawned on him after the fact that they wouldn’t be able to drag all of the inventory back home. He could easily have gated it back, but his fellow countrymen were already uneasy over the Black Tower residing on Andoran soil; some could very well start a riot if they saw a man channeling freely in the streets. No. Best to avoid anything that might draw attention to themselves. The coats were enough.

 

                The streets were little changed from what Merdyn remembered. Brightly colored stalls lined the streets, some sat before proper shops if to create ease for the buyers. None would want to take a few extra steps to go into a building to see the product if they could just stroll up and down the streets, gazing at everything in one straight line to either side. It always surprised Merdyn to see the way these shops were set up. All the candlemakers sat next to each other, as did the blacksmiths, the saddlemakers, the bakers, everyone. Father had once explained that it was easier to draw in customers that way, but Merdyn saw no sense in it. Were he a competing merchant, he would set his store away from all competition.

 

                Merdyn lead Ful further up the street, seeking out the food stalls. He made small talk as they walked, “Ful, how crazy do you think it would be if I approached the M’Hael about trying to secure my rights as the heir to my House? I know you don’t know much on the subject of Great Houses, but I’m asking from an Asha’man’s perspective. We are supposed to abandon all previous ties once joining the Black Tower, but I think it’s silly to keep me from my birthright… Think of all the good I could do for the Black Tower if I had access to the Gilyard fortune and the estates that came with it. I would have to wait for Father to die, of course, but there’s no one else to claim the seat of our House! Everything will go to the Queen if Father does not procure an heir. Why let all of that go to waste when it can help so many?”

 

                Thinking of the other men at the Tower, Merdyn realized he cared more about taking care of his friend. The rest of the men didn’t care much for Merdyn. They hadn’t given him much of a chance. He planned on changing that once he was Asha’man. The Soldiers and Dedicated would at least have to listen to him then. The other Asha’men didn’t have to listen, but they couldn’t pull rank on him. He could at least try to win some of them over then. In the meantime, he wanted to ensure that those he cared about were taken care of. The Black Tower needed money, and people like Ful and Nox were apart of the Black Tower, not to mention Merdyn himself. Therefore, it was clear as day what he must do.

 

                “It’s not as if I would have to leave the Black Tower. I could enlist retainers to see to the daily doings of my lands. No. I would still be a member of the Black Tower. It would just mean that I could make more of a difference for us. We need so many things. Food, books, building supplies, literally everything! I know it sounds crazy… But you’re my friend and I want you to be honest with me. Should I pursue this or just abandon the notion to the Dark One?” Merdyn asked Ful, his eyes questioning and searching.

 

                With a start, Merdyn noticed that they had finally arrived at their destination. Merdyn looked to the left and right and saw nothing but food supplies. Eggs, wheat, milk, cured meats, salted fish, exotic spices. Procuring a list from his sleeve, Merdyn smoothed out a piece of weather parchment. He coughed into his hand before announcing in a more authoritative tone, “We should start by procuring the meat and fish. That will hold longer till we reach the Farm… We’ll need at least two barrels of pickled silverpike, one crate of cockles, five slaughtered pigs and cows each, and at least thirteen chickens. Feathered or de-feathered it matters not to me. Although if we buy them intact, we can get them cheaper, I think. Do you want to negotiate, or me?” Merdyn said with a twinkle in his eye. He patted the fat coin purse at his belt and gave a wink for the extra one concealed inside of his coat.

Edited by Oddpositions

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Hmmm. Ful sniffed and thought about this. He turned around, hesitated, then turned back again. He put a slender finger to his lips pensively. The dedicated had, had it all and it was taken from him, and now he wanted it back? 

 

Why’d Merdyn tell him that? He knew Merdyn was rich, but wasn’t aware until now how insanely rich the noble really was. He wasn’t sure what to say.

 

“Honestly I can’t think of any sane reason why not,” Ful agreed, and turned to look out at the busy street, “Probably the only real objection is regarding your duties to her majesty? Will all the loyalties you swear to her represent the interests of the black towers? It makes it easier to cut ties.”

 

He ducked back from the middle of the street as someone, just a tanned ragged child, ran up the street and vanished into the nearby street. There was a smell in the air of spun sugar. 

 

Ful turned to face Merdyn, smiling. “Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve spent my entire life wishing to be here, serving the dragon. I’m young, stupid, and desperate, but I’ll serve how I can.” He raised an arm and pointed. “Let’s buy the cart from there."

 

Ful was content to fall into step as they began walking again. He was glad that the other man had been able to guide them, as all the streets looked the same to him. Their boots sifted quietly next to the small, rolling cart. He had bargained down the price of the cart to a fair price paid with Merdyn’s coin; they were ready to make the supplies purchases.

 

They came along a particular shop flanked on either side by tea houses. Half a dozen men appeared in front of the shop door and turned their way. Suddenly the shopping streets seemed emptier.

 

The men were big fellows, swathed in scarlet clothing and black iron armor. They saw the two uniformed dedicated walk toward them but paid them no mind. It was quite a spectacle, but during his brief yet intense career at the black tower, Ful Haert had witnessed plenty more intimidating sights.

 

It became clear that those men surrounded the same tanned child who ran past them before. Perhaps the child stole something? Either way, it wasn’t their business to interfere or draw attention to themselves.

 

Ful frowned as he put his arm in front of Merdyn’s chest. “Wait, maybe there’s another shop." 

Edited by Lih-Lyh

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                Merdyn turned to Ful with a smile. He knew he had talked to the right person with that response, “See, I didn’t even consider that. Quite foolish on my part. Quite… I’m a little ashamed that that wasn’t my first thought. That is exactly why we are made to foreswear everything upon joining the Tower… Still… The Aes Sedai play at games with thrones, I do not think the M’Hael would be above it… The Queen is a proud woman, however, as is every Andoran,” Merdyn bit down on his bottom lip while considering the possibilities, “No… I fear this isn’t as simple as I had anticipated. It’s just… If I let that go completely, the claims and any ambitions or dreams associated with my House, then it’s like I’m letting go of a piece of myself. I’m not comfortable with that. Things were different went I came to the Tower, I don’t think I fully understood what I was committing to at the time, but it’s done… Even if I was able to pursue my rights, I would still have to go through the Queen. No doubt Father has named one of his bannermen as his heir apparent. I’m sure he’s right angry over not having a ‘spare.’ Mother wanted another child, but Father was always more shortsighted than he assumed…”

 

                Shaking himself, Merdyn smiled at Ful again, “Thank you, friend. You’ve given me much to consider with only a few words. I don’t know how far I’d have made it in the Tower if I didn’t have a friend like you.” Merdyn ruffled Ful’s hair lightly, it was an affectionate gesture.

 

                Nodding at Ful’s suggestion, Merdyn lead them over to the stall while Ful bargained. It was a foreign notion to Merdyn. He had always enjoyed the ease of sending others to take care of the small details. If he wanted to bake a cake in the middle of the night, he only had to wake a servant and ask them to run to town, wake one of the shop owners and procure the ingredients. Mother always said such things were rude, but at the time Merdyn didn’t see how. He was paying the shop owner, of course, and the servant should feel lucky to be serving the Gilyards. There were many out there that didn’t even have a roof over their heads or a pot to relieve themselves in.

 

                Merdyn didn’t think that way anymore. The Black Tower had awakened him to the lives of others and shown him that there was far more beyond his Father’s estates. It had been a rude awakening. He was different now. More grounded. There were certainly things he still had to learn about the world, like budgeting one’s coin, but all-in-all he had adjusted well to the shift. That didn’t do anything to dampen his desires to return to his life as a Noble. An Asha’man noble, to be sure, but noble nonetheless. Once he had his birthright in hand, he would be able to do so much good. He would fund the Black Tower, making it stronger for future generations, and take care of his friends. Well… Friend. Were it up to Merdyn, he would make Ful a bannerman and grant him some land, if only so the young man had a source of income apart from the Black Tower.

 

                Weaving flows of Air, Merdyn prodded their new cart down the street, just behind the pair. The sight drew stares aplenty, to be sure, but Merdyn didn’t mind. Were they women in silks, everyone would be scraping and bowing.

 

                My countrymen will learn that we are nothing to be feared. The whole world will learn… one day.

 

                Snapping back from his thoughts, Merdyn cocked an eyebrow at Ful. He had thrown an arm up to stop Merdyn, who had bumped right into the limb. That was out of character for the younger man. He rarely touched Merdyn and, even more rarely, was insistent on a specific course of action.

 

                “Wha-?” Merdyn began, but the sound caught in his throat as he saw a group of burly looking men. They wore a red undercoat, gleaming mail armor, and a shocking crimson cloak. White collars and cuffs peaked out from the armor and conical helms sat atop the heads of the men.

 

                Queen’s Guard…?

 

                “What in the name of the Light is the Queen’s Guard doing out here?” Merdyn asked, almost to himself.

 

                He was answered quickly when the broadest man in the other group stepped towards a tanned little boy and gave the child an open-palmed slap. Merdyn heard the sound as gauntlet met skin. The child fell to the ground, his head almost spinning completely around his shoulders. Merdyn’s stomach clenched and his brow furrowed. In a hushed tone, he spoke quickly to Ful, “I do not know what is happening… But they are not the Queen’s Guard. The Guard would have no reason to be away from the palace, even if that child stole something. They are to be serving the Queen and her alone. I do not know who they are or why they are wearing those outfits, but I don’t like it Ful. I don’t like it one bit… And thief or not, any selfrespecting Andoran would never lay hands on a child that way. We are civilised in this Queendom! Not barbarians!”

 

                Merdyn let go of his weave and the cart stopped immediately. Without missing a beat, Merdyn wove Spirit and air around the group of men. With a deft hand, he added a touch of Fire, and the group of men started howling and jumping while they tore at their armor. The man that slapped the child spun around wildly, looking for the source of the attack. Merdyn stepped forward, assuming Cat Crosses the Courtyard and flounced his way closer to the men.

 

                Twirling his fake mustache, Merdyn announced in a stern manner, “Over here gentlemen. Oh, please, do stop looking as if you have itchoak down your coats. It’s just a little static electricity! Surely you big, handsome, hulking men aren’t so weak that you can’t endure a little shock?”

 

                The leader, well Merdyn assumed he was the leader, turned and glared at Merdyn. The man pulled his sword out and assumed his own stance. It wasn’t one Merdyn had ever seen before. He didn’t even think that it was a proper stance. The leader answered back in a rough tone, “Who’re you!? Be off with ya! This need not concern ya, ya flouncing Nancy boy. Take yer butt-boy and sod off.”

 

                Merdyn didn’t mind being called names, but he could not stand others calling down his friends. “I am so sorry, we won’t be doing that. No. I think it is you that should take your butt-boys and runoff, lest the real Queen’s Guard finds out you are imitating them.” The leader’s eyebrows rose and his mouth worked soundlessly.

 

                Thought so.

 

                Weaving Fire and Air, Merdyn smiled sweetly at the other man as fifteen fireballs exploded into existence and started dancing around Merdyn and Ful.

 

                “I am going to tell you one. More. Time. Leave now or suffer the consequences.” Merdyn folded his arms over his chest and gave those men the cockiest expression he could muster. Oh, he knew they wouldn’t run off without at least trying to ram a sword through his gut, still, he had to try to avoid violence.

Edited by Oddpositions

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All the “big, handsome, hulking men” turned and stared at Merdyn. There was something about his tone that made them look again at him. The men were wearing full kit, including the crimson cloak and conical helms of the queens guard. But it seemed they weren’t the real thing.

 

Ful was about to respond to being called Merdyn’s "butt-boy" when the blonde dedicated set off the fire display. Well, fifteen fireballs did the trick. 

 

He weighed the pros and cons of joining in, or wheeling the cart through their opened passage. The men seemed to ignore him. They were intent on Merdyn.

 

“Nice work,” Ful smiled, “they look like complete gimps in these uniforms anyway."

 

Ful moved forward at a jog and said to the boy, “hey, hey you there! Are you ok?

 

The skinny lad cried out and shrank away from him. Ful grinned as he assessed the boy was fine except for bruises from the kicks and a bloody nose that’ll soon heal. Trying to ‘heal’ the kid would be more traumatic on his body than letting him recover on his own. 

 

“As I was saying,” said Ful, waggling a cheeky finger at Merdyn, “we need to be careful with funds."

 

He turned to “Guard" near him, gesturing at the fireballs “please donate coins for the illuminations."

 

One of the “Guards” suddenly pulled out a sword and rushed at them. The others followed suit.

 

There was no time to shout out. Ful had been trained relentlessly at the farm. Daily training, paid for by the black tower, gave the young man a reaction time significantly shorter than that of normal humans. With a graceful sweep that combined instinct and immaculate training, he drew on saidin and returned the attack with one of his own, placing his body between the assailants and the small boy. He didn’t worry about his companion as Ful dropped the swordsman charging at him with invisible flow of air to the head.

 

The others fled, leaving the small boy, Merdyn, Ful, and their cart.

 

“I’ll say,” chuckled Ful, leaning close to the child and unbuttoning the collar of his black uniform “this keeps getting better and better. Can you watch this cart for us, boy? You’ll be rewarded.

 

The boy agreed, and the chase was on.

 

“After them!” Ful shouted headily. He was quick on his feet, his body and nerves singing with the rush of saidin as the interlopers pounded away down the empty street, around a side street and into a busier thoroughfare.

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                Merdyn’s blood started pumping harder as Ful got into the action. He was normally so reserved and humble; seeing him this way reminded Merdyn of the day that they practiced sparring. That day, it was as if Ful was another person. The Black Tower trained men to be weapons, if ever there was any doubt, you would just have to take a look at Ful. The shorter man used a flow of air masterfully to knock out the guard that charged him.

 

                In short: Merdyn was impressed.

 

                Seeing the fright in the boy’s eye, Merdyn let his fireballs wink out of existence. “Sorry, kid. We’re the good guys, I promise! Like my friend said, we’ll take care of you if you take care of our cart. Now… if you’ll excuse us…”

 

                Merdyn chased after Ful, who was chasing after the fake guards. The shoppers on the street had quickly vanished at the sight of a man channeling, but those that had remained now openly gawked at the pair of Black Tower boys chasing after, what appeared to be, the Queen’s Guard.

 

                There will be rumors a plenty after today… I hope the M’hael won’t be angry with us…

 

                Still holding Saidin, Merdyn was able to keep sight of the fake guards with ease; although, really, they weren’t that hard to pick out of a crowd, Saidin or no. Ful and Merdyn pounded after the men, down the street, and around a corner.

 

                They let out onto a busier thoroughfare. It worked in favor of Merdyn and his friend, as the crowds were preventing the men from making it too far. Unfortunately, the men noticed this quickly and started shoving their way through the throngs of people.

 

                Carts were being overturned and women were shoved to the ground as the fake guards pushed through the citizens of Andor. A few of the male customers started to get angry, a few even getting up to confront those that had shoved them. At the sight of the Queen’s Guard armor, however, those same men shrank quickly and shuffled off, quickly disappearing amongst the rest of the crowd.

 

                If there were no one around… This would be much easier… I can’t take the risk of injuring one of the citizens!

 

                Were there no one around, Merdyn would have just called down a lightning bolt or encased the men in stone, but that was not an option. He could easily kill anyone in the immediate vicinity with a lightning bolt, and he would cause plenty of damage to the streets of Camelyn if he pulled the Earth up to trap these men.

 

                Or maybe… Yes... With this weave, I should be able to repair any damage done to the City.

 

                Weaving Earth and Water together, Merdyn flung his weave at the stones just a few feet in front of the fake guards. Three of the five soon found themselves sinking into the ground, the stones beneath their feet now melting into a thick sludge. Every move they made sunk them deeper into the ground. Howls quickly erupted from their mouths as they realized they were trapped.

 

                “Such a simple weave… It didn’t require much of the Power at all…” Merdyn said, almost to himself. The other two men took notice of their compatriots, now waist deep in the ground, and made a wide arch around the trap. “Do you want to take care of those two, Ful, or should I? I don’t think they’ll fall for my Quagmire trick a second time…”

Edited by Oddpositions

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Ful grinned. Seemed “Tal’sin” had these big, heavy brutes in line by trapping them with his weave. “Yeah, let’s just tie them up and let the real queen’s guards find them. City laws, only the real guards are allowed to wear this. That’ll be punishment enough."

 

The people in the streets cleared and gave them a courteous wide berth. Violence and use of the one power made them imposing figures. He looked down at their opponents, the men who wore the ceremonial battle gear of her majesty’s regiment: gleaming brown leather embossed with gold detailing, arms and chests covered with polished, segmented armor plates and on their backs, under the fold of the recognizable scarlet sash, their sword harnesses.

 

Ful stopped as he came onto the nearest, a bear-like man he spoke with earlier, then fixed the thick set, shaven headed man trapped in front of him with an unblinking stare and repeated his previous request. “Donation, please.” After the man handed his purse over, Ful tied up his hands and mouth with rough cordage from his field kit. “Thanks."

 

He gestured to the man’s fellows. “Yours too,” and adroitly collected their purses before securing their hands in similar fashion.

 

“Ok to go back now.” 

 

Finishing his tasks at hand, Ful looked to his moustachio’d companion as he waited for his assent. Then Ful nodded and lead the way back. Ful had checked that the man he’d hit with air was knocked out before giving chase, and returned to find the boy rolling the still-unconscious man over on the dirt floor.

 

Ful laughed and tossed the small boy the small sacks of coin they got from the fake guards. He had the poise of a master conman.

 

The boy opened the canvas pouches and sniffed. It was a glorious thing for the boy to see.

 

“This is strictly a one-time thing, Tal’sin … ” Ful said, then turned to salute the boy. “Thank you for watching our cart. I’m sure you’ve already relieved this brute of his useful possessions.” 

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                Merdyn wove air and dragged the unconscious thief over to a wooden post that was well in view of any that might pass by. Weaving the threads of air, Merdyn tied the man upright to the post with invisible bonds and gagged him for good measure. He set the weaves to dissipate within a few hours. By then, one of the real guards would inevitably pass by and recognize the thief for what he was. Merdyn nodded in satisfaction before walking away and back to Ful and the boy.

 

                Dropping to one knee, Merdyn gave the boy an Andoran salute and the child returned the gesture, recognizing Merdyn as one of his countrymen. He slipped the boy another gold coin and winked before whispering to the child, “If you ever want to help save the world… Or at least those that are less fortunate… Come find us in Tear… We’ll take you in.” With another wink, Merdyn rose to his feet and dusted off his knees.

 

                The boy’s eyes grew wide as he nodded vigorously. Without sparing another moment, he rose from his own feet and darted off into the thick throngs of people now resuming their circuit of the street. He was instantly lost to Merdyn’s eyes.

 

                Turning back to Ful, Merdyn smiled at his friend and said, “Well that was rather unexpected… I am quite glad I decided to opt for a different… look… today; no telling who witnessed the mischief we have seemed to have found ourselves in. Or rather, who might hear about it. I’m sure my Father still has ears and eyes all over the city.”

 

                Weaving air again, Merdyn prodded the cart back over until it was standing directly beside them. “Well… We still need to pick up a few more things. I wouldn’t be against going back home for the day, the decision is entirely up to you. Then again, it is only a few more things. Shouldn’t take more than an hour to procure the last of it. We can do without it though; for now.”

 

                Merdyn, or rather Tal'sin, twirled at his mustache. The image of it seemed to flicker, and he noticed right away. Coughing into his hand, he tried to disguise the motion in case anyone else might have seen the anomaly. He hadn't exactly tested wearing this illusion... Never before had he optioned for a mustache and now he knew why. If he couldn't twirl it, there was just no point in having it.

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Ful nodded, amused by Tal’sin twirling his moustache. He wondered how long Merdyn could keep the illusion going.

 

They walked west, down through the fractured arches of the city’s old streets past the bookshops and forges. Markets thrived there— the daily cheap food, grain, livestock, instruments— and the licensed merchant houses that raised lavish silk tents and displayed the trinkets of their trade.

 

Ful had always loved the markets for its flavor of the faraway. He’d once bought from a tinker a small metal pendant with an engraving of an ogier on the Stedding just because it had travelled so far. Now the faraway seemed even more remote and unreachable, even though it was his business to one day protect it all if he could.

 

Ful walked on. He knew he had to hurry now. Daylight was fading as they crossed the square with their wagon.

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                The pair made their way back through the Markets, stopping every now and then to look at the wares or prices. They ended up getting the last of their needed supplies right as the Sun began it’s climb back down towards the horizon. It was getting late and Merdyn knew better than to dally in Camelyn when there was a dinner rush to prep for.

 

                The main gate came into view and Merdyn dropped his illusion as soon as they were at least five paces from the city guards that stood watch behind them. He rubbed at his face where the fake facial hair had been.

 

                “I really wouldn’t mind growing a mustache one day… Just to see how it feels. Father had one. Used this waxy stuff to curl it. Never moved an inch and always shiny. He prided himself on that… But that could be because he had no hair on top of his head,” Merdyn broke into a hearty laugh at that. He always did like making jokes about his father.

 

                A silver, shimmering line popped up in front of them as Merdyn Channeled. The Gateway snapped open, showing them a very familiar scene. Dedicated and Asha’men moved about the Travelling grounds, carrying messages back and forth, some leaving, others coming, it was all chaotic, but there was a strange order to the chaos.

 

                “Well, I think we’ve gotten everything we needed… And then some,” Merdyn said to Ful with a smile on his lips, “Ready, friend? My belly is rumbling and tonight’s menu is beef and barley stew. One of my favorites.”

 

                Merdyn channeled another flow and pushed the wagon through the Gateway with a rope of air. One of the younger Soldiers rushing over to take it back to their storehouses.

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