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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Arinth

To Pull Children from the Hand of the Invaders

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Corik’s green eyes scanned the horizon. The sun was just now rising, its bright light glinting off his polished armor and the other children he was with. One of the first things every Child of the Light learned was the importance of taking care of their uniform. It taught discipline and it showed others that as well.

 

There was little to see. Corik squinted against the brightness of the sun. There were admittedly drawbacks to wearing such polished armor. It made it more difficult for them to see and they were like a beacon to anyone that might be looking in their direction. Corik saw only emptiness in the quiet of the new mornings.

 

He felt sharp and awake despite the earliness of the hour. Even though he was not normally out riding in the field at this time he had developed a routine which included rising early for his training. When he had heard of the missing patrol, he had not hesitated to join in the search party.

 

Patrols were rarely late. Things were expected to run smoothly and with punctuality and so they did. Reoccurring issues were not tolerated. The soldiers adjusted or they didn’t last. It was as simple as that. So when the patrol was not only late but had failed to return at all it was a bright waiving warning flag, an alarm bell ringing that something was not right. Something had happened to them.

 

They had been along the western front. Bandits were rarely ever an issue close to the home of the Children of the Light. It was possible to encounter them when traveling but highly unlikely in this case. Everyone knew the foreign invaders were to the West.

 

The Children were divided on how to deal with them. Some believed that they had to be attacked head on. Their use Aes Sedai was confirmation of their service to the dark one. Others thought it was best to leave them alone as long as they stayed where they were and did not encroach on the domain of the Children. Still others pleaded for caution, reluctantly admitting that the army of the Seanchan was superior to their own. It was a difficult thing to hear and so many rejected it outright.

 

He saw the scout returning back to the group quickly. Corik urged his horse towards the front of the group. The others closed in around close as well to hear what the scout would say when he arrived. As a second squadman Corik was the leader technically. He had not had to assert that position yet though and so for the time being things moved more fluidly.

 

The scout slowed his horse as he arrived. He pointed towards a ridge to the west. “I have found their trail. It appears they went off the normal route and up towards that ridge at a steady pace. There does not appear to be any indication that they approached slowly or cautiously.

 

Corik kept his face blank as he listened. Of course he wanted to grimace or curse or admonish the full hardy patrol for rushing in without taking caution. It would do no good here though. They had done what they had felt was best at the time given the information they had available. 

 

“Lead on,” Corik said. “We will follow their trail. Despite the natural urge to close with urgency on their last location we will proceed at a more cautious pace.” He looked around at the small group of men and women around him. Conceal your armor and tie down anything that makes noise as you ride. We must be as silent as possible.  

Edited by Arinth

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Cura's fingers made a coil of the silvery leash that was connected to her wrist, and she swung it idly, the collar dangling from the other end. Wind rustled the leaves heavily, coming from the north. It almost masked the horses' hooves as they moved about impatiently. Or perhaps they didn't like unknown territory.

 

Soldiers had formed a loose circle around a group of men in white, all made to sit on the forest floor, messing up their pure white cloaks. They were tied up individually but Lieutenant and one of his men were threading a rope through them so they'd be forced to walk linked together in a line. Most of the soldiers watched these... Children of the Light, as they called themselves. Cura looked them over, her lips in a small sneer. She had heard of these fellows, and they were not a group she cared for. They were heretics.

 

She was standing close enough to one to hear him whisper to his fellow, "...you know the Light will have us prevail; they're Darkfriends, and does the Light ever let us d--"
He cut off when the collar of the a'dam slapped across his face, putting a gash along his cheekbone and nose. "You will keep silent if you know what is best for you," Cura snapped. "We are not Darkfriends, you fool."
"Cura." The deep voice of Captain Yubin drew her up, lips pursed as if in thought. He was tall, and dark, from Rampore, as far as she could make out his accent anyway. He was an amazing fighter, so Cura thought. Perhaps that was why the High Lady Elioth chose him so.

 

He did not need to say more. Cura should not have let herself react to what they were saying. "My apologies, Captain. There was no excuse." He only nodded; they often drank together casually.

"Mount up!" he called to his party. One of the soldiers, carrying the rope, mounted up and twisted the end to his saddle in a way that it would not come undone.

 

Cura moved back towards her horse, by Lurane, her other sul'dam, who lead Mya. Her eyes did not look at the men except to watch for potential danger. They all set their horses to a steady walk, and Mya walked beside her mistress' horse's flank. These men would be taken to House Elioth and given over to the High Lady, to be made da'covale or executed as she wished.

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The men and women were not happy about having to conceal their armor. Many felt that in concealing themselves they were hiding the Light and that was a dangerous thing, a bad thing, a thing that Children of the Light did not do. He had their lives to consider though. The sun was not destroyed at night. It was there waiting to rise with each morning. That didn’t keep them from throwing dark looks his way when they thought he did not notice though. It was something he would have to suffer through.

 

They were also not happy with how slowly they moved. They knew where they were going, and they could cover the ground three times as quickly as they were now. Fellow children could die with each moment they tarried. Corik was aware of this, painfully aware. He had to fight his own instincts not to dash ahead. They did not know what they were dealing with.

 

He kept a stern face. He couldn’t keep them in line with the threat of his physical presence. He had to inspire loyalty and confidence with his intelligence, dedication and fierceness. He had plenty of that to go around. They would settle in. He couldn’t let them think there was any doubt otherwise.

 

“Sir.” The scout said as he fell in at his side, returning from off ahead. “I found the scene of a scuffle. The tone of his voice was grim. Corik shot him a glance, trying to read his face. It gave away little. Corik respected that about him.

 

“What did you find?” Corik asked.

 

“We are almost there, sir.” The scout said. “I will show you.”

 

Corik ground his teeth. “I would hear it now soldier and have my eyes confirm.

 

The scout nodded as if Corik’s reaction was the one he had expected. “It appears they spotted their foe on the field and charged up the mountain towards them. It was a steep hill and the charge was started from a fair distance. I believe their horses tired by the time they reached the point of conflict. Men fell on both sides, but our soldiers were quickly overwhelmed.

 

Corik let out a sigh. It wasn’t far from how he had imagined how it happened himself.

 

“From what you saw, do you believe that there are any survivors?” Corik asked, stealing himself against the worst.

 

“I do.” The scout answered confidently. He pointed up ahead. “This is where the charge started.”

 

The other Children were also spotting signs of the charge and several looked ready to spur their own horses forward. Corik gathered them to him, recognizing the importance of their caution now, more than ever.

 

He gave each man and woman a hard look before he spoke. “When we came out on this mission, we were aware that the patrol we were searching for ran into trouble. We didn’t know what or how bad the trouble was, but we knew it none the less. Up ahead we will find scenes of that trouble, but we must keep ours heads on our shoulders and not let our hearts or our anger get the best of ourselves. I believe there are Children of that patrol still alive and I will not tolerate any one of you jeopardizing their recovery. Is that understood?”

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 They were gaining on their foe. Corik was confident that they would catch them soon. Their unknown enemy moved a casual yet steady pace. It was what he would do when they reached them that the was question. It was a question he had been wrestling with the whole day. The eyes of his men told him the question was also on their mind and they weren’t sure what the answer was supposed to be.

 

The force they pursued was a bigger force than what they had themselves. It was big enough to have defeated the initial clash and it was big enough to have the advantage in any open engagement Corik could offer. Under different circumstances Corik would pursue, investigate and gather intelligence to report back. He didn’t have that luxury though. The lives of children were at stake. He couldn’t turn back to report the presence of the enemy and he couldn’t charge in either.

 

What did they plan to do with their prisoners?

 

The question crept back into his brain and gnawed at him. If he knew the answer, he could better weigh the urgency and approach to their rescue. Were they to be tortured and interrogated? Were they to be outright executed without any kind of trial? Was diplomacy the best approach to getting them back? Ambush?

 

“Sir.” The scout said, approaching quickly. Corik cleared his thoughts away as he turned his attention to the man. “I have sighted the enemy. It is a group of near two dozen with a handful of captives. They don’t look to be in immediate danger. They march with a grim quietness that it appears was taught with force.”

 

“Bring me the map.” Corik said. They would have to find a way to circle around and get ahead of them. He would have to pick the perfect place to surprise them. It would have to be a quick engagement, striking them, freeing the prisoners and escaping. There would be no diplomacy. They were at a disadvantage and had no leverage or negotiating power. More than likely that would only lead to endangering his own men.

 

He unrolled the map. “Tell me everything you saw,” He said to the scout as he scanned the map for an advantageous position to strike from.

 

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