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A Bond of Redemption - Part 3 (attn. Myrrhi Aes Sedai)


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For PARTS 1 and 2 of this RP-thread see ->>

 

https://dragonmount.com/forums/topic/98565-a-bond-of-redemption-attn-myrrhi-aes-sedai/

 

https://dragonmount.com/forums/topic/105817-a-bond-of-redemption-part-2-attn-myrrhi-aes-sedai/

 

 

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PART 3

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..  A Return in the Light ..

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They had difficult decisions to make.

 

Having discussed the matter the day before, they went over it another time over breakfast the following morning. The Common Room was half-empty and none of the other guests were close enough to hear what they were saying.

 

Should they pursue the dark matters they had been informed of here in Ebou Dar, the threat of assassinations by the Shadow, or should they continue eastwards towards their intended destination? Either choice would have consequences.

 

Elessar gave his opinions and then drank some water from a glass as he listened to Myrrhi’s arguments. His eyes meanwhile studied a man slouching by the entrance, a disreputable fellow with unkept hair and watchful eyes, but when the man noticed the Warder’s hardened gaze he swiftly turned and departed the Common Room. Elessar’s full attention returned to Myrrhi. He did not suspect the stranger to be a threat but he would keep a look-out in the streets, in case. One could never be too careful.

 

 

A little later they were standing outside the inn, enjoying the sunshine and the blue skies, when an Ebou Dari man who looked like a local shopkeeper (but was in fact part of the Green Ajah’s Eyes and Ears in this region) approached them, giving a respectful nod to the Aes Sedai. Myrrhi followed the man inside and was not seen for several minutes. Elessar, meanwhile, studied the busy streets, taking in the sounds and sights of this beautiful Capital here in the far South. His eyes were also on the look-out for the slouching man of before but he did not see him anywhere. A horse-driven carriage passed by, probably carrying a nobleman, throwing up dust in its wake. And down the street a scruffy-looking young lad with a thin body and shifting eyes hurried on an errand. Shopkeepers were busy talking to potential customers and local folk walked to and fro focused on their own business. Nothing was out of the ordinary as far as the Gaidin could see.

 

When Myrrhi finally appeared, the Ebou Dari man gave the Warder a quick nod, then headed swiftly down the street. Elessar met Myrrhi’s eyes and she nodded softly, then bade him follow her inside. They found a pair of available seats in the corner of the Common Room and seated themselves. The Warder waited patiently for his Bondholder to speak. He wondered what their next step would be.

 

 

That night Elessar slept soundly, as rain ran in rivers down the window of his room at the inn. He was once again swept up in dreams and memories..

 

 

Being hunted..

Again..

 

..Elessar hears shouts some way back and looks quickly about them for any way out. He exchanges a concerned look with Myrrhi and then turns to stare about him more thoroughly, cursing inside.

 

Is there any way out from this trap? For a trap it has become. A deadly one at that!

 

It looks an impossible situation.. but..

 

Shaking his head, his eyes sweep across the cliff face, the precipice.

 

There has to be a way..

 

Just as he is about to give up any hope of escape, and readies himself mentally to take as many Whitecloaks with him into death as possible (there is no other realistic solution in his mind; letting themselves be arrested and, probably executed, for their ‘crimes’, is not an option), he suddenly sees something off to his left..

 

Can it be..?

 

 

Closing his eyes..

And then opening them again..

So clear in his mind’s eye..

 

..Motioning for Myrrhi to wait, he jumped off his horse and walked carefully toward the edge of the cliff. Staring downwards he saw that it was a sheer drop of several hundred paces, making it hard to see what was down there at the bottom. But looking more carefully on the far left edge, he saw that there was actually a small, narrow path leading off the ledge, meandering downwards from the side of the cliff-face. It was almost hidden from view (his Warder’s eye for detail had spotted it) and could easily be overlooked by an untrained eye. It also looked exceedingly dangerous from what he could see, but no more so than remaining to fight a lot of fanatical Whitecloak soldiers there on the steep cliff.

 

“There is a small pathway downwards from the side of the cliff”, he shouted to Myrrhi as she dismounted and came towards him, a sceptical look on her face. “Yes, I know it’s not a walk in the park”, he added earnestly with a good portion of grim understatement as he saw her look with somewhat wide eyes at the narrow path leading off from the main part of the cliff, “but we have a bigger chance that way than facing all those Whitecloaks up here, that’s the truth of it.”

 

 

She nodded, perhaps a touch resignedly, seeing his point, adding though that since she was so tired after the day’s long ride and it would be too difficult to use the One Power to keep both of them and their horses safe on the path, they better use a rope for safety. The Gaidin nodded, seeing the sense of that. Shouts were coming nearer now and they had little time, he knew. Elessar only hoped their horses would manage this dangerous trail down the side of the steep cliff. He took out two pieces of cloth and bound one around each horses’ eyes, then spoke softly to his mount as Myrrhi did the same to hers. Binding a rope around his own waist and then Myrrhi’s, thinking for a horrified second that despite her aid of Saidar if he fell and stumbled he might very well drag his Aes Sedai to her death - No! Don’t think of that! You will manage. You will be safe - he smiled what he hoped was a reassuring smile to his Bondholder.

 

Then they moved slowly toward the cliff’s edge, facing the precipice head on, walking carefully beside their mounts and holding tightly to the reins, their hearts almost missing a beat in the nervous exileration they both felt. Reaching the edge, their horses edgy, Elessar led Stormbreaker onto the narrow pathway on the side, if pathway it could be called. He tried to look ahead to see where the path led but all he could see was that it spiralled downwards at an angle. Taking a few tentative steps he whispered soothing words to his mount. Stopping after a dozen steps to look behind, he saw a somewhat concerned but stoic Sister of the Green behind him. She probably mirrored his own face at that point, he guessed, as he turned forwards again, trying to ignore the sounds of scouts close to arriving at the cliff’s edge.

 

 

Thankfully their path soon went around a curve or bend in the rocks and they could, he saw, no longer be spotted from up at the cliff. The Children could, however, find the path and come after them, he thought, but if they did they could only come slowly and one at a time. As he concentrated on their steps, one after another, down the spiralling pathway, he threw all thoughts of pursuit out of his mind as he focused on making safe progress. He tried to ignore the almost vertical drop hundreds of feet down into oblivion only three feet or so to his right, ‘pretending’ in his mind it was a wider neighbouring path. More voices were now heard from above, and much cursing. Elessar could only hope that they believed Myrrhi and he had gone over the cliff and lay dead at the far bottom.

 

Halting again a few moments later, he turned and looked at Myrrhi. She nodded as if to say that she was alright, understanding from the sound of voices from above that they ought to keep silent for the moment. The Warder felt encouraged that his young Aes Sedai was keeping up so well, though he felt her jumble of emotions through the Bond as was to be expected, One Power or no. Sharing a small smile, they soothed their mounts softly and then Elessar led his horse forwards anew, one careful step at a time.

 

 

Time had little meaning at that point, seconds and minutes tumbling around in inconsequentiality, as they moved ever so carefully forwards, doing all they could to avoid any fatal missteps. Elessar was grateful that the path was dry. Had it been raining recently, they would not have managed this feat on a slippery slope, of that he felt pretty certain. He was also grateful that full darkness had not come upon them yet. After a while the sounds from above receeded and then were gone alltogether. Either the Whitecloaks had left, he thought, believing them dead, or some of them were coming after them down this narrow, dangerous path. Stopping again to listen, the Gaidin heard no sound at all except a soft nicker from their horses (who though they could not see the sheer drop, probably felt it to some extent). He patted Stormbreaker softly on the side in encouragement, staring fixedly ahead, wondering at the same time who could possibly have made this narrow, spiralling path down the cliff face. It was not a general feature of nature, he had seen that straight away, and it must have been quite laborious - never mind dangerous - to shape.

 

His mood darkened as he walked, holding tightly the horse’s rein in his hand.

 

If we could only get safely off this blasted cliff face, he thought with some exasperation as he led his horse downwards around another bend, cursing inside.

 

Bloody Shadow Coast - and Bloody mountain! …

 

 

When he woke up the next morning, echoes of their trek down the side of that steep mountain still in his mind, his head was pounding. He realized he had overslept and hurried out of bed to get dressed. He poured water over his head from a small wash basin in the corner, trying to force the aches away. He had not been such a heavy sleeper before - it was not a good trait in a Warder, he thought, who should be somewhat alert even during the night, entering that half-sleep, half-awareness state that they were trained for - and he blamed himself for becoming soft. It was all these nights in comfortable Southern inns, he complained in his mind, though he knew he was himself at fault.

 

He had to become more focused, he knew, more alert, sharper - and as he swore to himself that he would do better, he sensed his Aes Sedai moving in the neighbouring room. She had probably been awake a while, he figured, letting him sleep. Shaking his head, hoping his headache would go away sooner rather than later, he put on his shirt and his boots, waited until an appropriate amount of time had passed, then went out in the corridor and knocked softly on Myrrhi’s door. Her voice coming from inside bade him enter and he closed the door gently behind him. She was seated on a wooden chair by the bed, fully clothed and with a determined look on her face. He gave her a Warder's bow, formal as always had been his way, then seated himself on the chair opposite her.

 

"Aes Sedai", he said, the hint of a smile on his otherwise hard face. "A new day beckons. A new chance to strike at the Shadow." His dark eyes tightened with anticipation.

 

Outside, in the crystal-clear Southern day, Ebou Dar was bathed in Light.

 

▀▄

 

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- I don’t think I – we – could leave this behind us, Myrrhi said after a short silence. She took a sip of her tea. It had grown cold, too cold to her taste. She thought about warming it with a thin thread of Fire but decided against it. That channeler she had felt during the ball was making her feel uneasy.

 

Her Warder didn’t reply immediately. She saw him watching the far side of the room, where the entrance laid. She was tempted to have a look as well. Elessar wouldn’t get distracted by anything insignificant. She saw his gaze harden, then relax.

 

- Did you just scare someone? The Green asked before emptying her cup. She would have loved to be able to do the same. Oh, she had trained as an Aes Sedai to have a no-non-sense stare. She could sniff, look haughty, cold, menacing … but never as dangerous as the man who had sworn to protect her.

 

It didn’t take them long to draft a plan once they agreed on the next steps they needed to take. Myrrhi quickly went to her room where she was keeping a list of the Greens Eyes and Ears in Ebou Dar. The paper was so well coded that she didn’t fear for it to fall into the wrong hands. At first and even second  glance, the paper only showed horrid poetry, the kind written by someone who should definitely find another pastime.

 

The first contact she choose to meet was called Alaido, no last name. He was known as one of the best Ebou Dari baker. Maybe a visit to his store would satisfy both her ears and stomach? She told as much to Elessar with mischievous grin.

 

The afternoon sun was shining bright, not a single cloud in the sky to hide it. Its powerful rays made most of the buildings look monotonously white. Only the stores created a break in the pale landscape offering colorful wares on their shelves. The streets were very quiet at this time of the day. Most of the locals were safely inside, waiting for the temperature to cool down.

 

They eventually arrived to the Golden Bun, Alaido’s bakery. The store was tucked between two higher houses, and decorated with painted panels depicting giant loafs of bread. Myrrhi nodded to her Warder to signal him that she would need to enter alone.

 

- Now, don’t start a duel, she said before winking. Not waiting for Elessar to reply, she entered the shop.

 

An overpowering scent of cinnamon and vanilla reached the young woman’s nostrils before she had the time to close the door.

 

- Good day, my lady, started the man behind the desk. I’m Alaido, what can I do for you?

 

There was no doubt the man looked like a baker, flour and bits of dough covered him head to toe and his large waist was proof that he enjoyed eating the product of his work. However it was not enough to prove that he was Myrrhi’s contact. First he would need to give her the right answer to her pass phrase, then he would need to make a series of three hand signs to which Myrrhi will have to answer with a sign of her own.

 

Once both parties were reassured about who they were talking to, Alaido invited Myrrhi to follow him in the rear “ so that she could taste one of his new recipes”. The exchange didn’t last long, not longer than a real tasting would have. The Green asked about anything suspicious the man had seen or heard, about the Ebou Dari noble houses and about channelers in town. She didn’t want to give him any specifics, Aes Sedai business was Aes Sedai business after all.

 

- Here my lady. Alaido handed her a small pie covered with what appeared to be lemon custard. Since you are supposed to taste my newest recipe.

- Thank you, Alaido, Myrrhi replied. She took a bite of the pie, trusting the man would not dare to poison her.

- If I were you – which I am definitely not – no offense my Lady – I would direct my attention to Master Schirrù. At least that is what he calls himself. He has been the talk of every noble houses since his arrival but no one knows where he comes from. He’s rich, and looks to be a nobleman from very far away …

 

To keep up with appearances, the Green bought a small box of pastries that she hoped Elessar wouldn’t like. She usually liked sharing, but she was hoping that she could keep these little marvels to herself.

 

She went out the store, swearing to Alaido she would come again to visit him again before her departure. The Gaidin was still standing exactly where she had left him a moment ago.

 

- Now we go back towards the inn and wait for my second contact.

 

Myrrhi hoped that the green ribbon she was wearing in her hair had been noticed. Her second contact didn’t have a name … yet. Only a mean of getting in touch. It was strange for the young woman, out of the ordinary, but then she was still a young Green…

 

It didn’t take long for the second eyes-and-ears to appear. She and her Warder were walking down one of the curvy streets that would have taken them to the city center when a richly dressed merchant invited the Aes Sedai to his humble store. The way he looked at Myrrhi’s ribbon was sign enough that he was the man she was looking for. As was customary, she entered the store alone so that she and the spy could exchange their passphrases and signs. Only then would Elessar come in.

 

To Myrrhi’s regrets, this store was not a bakery nor any kind of restaurant. It was a place were people would pick, match and buy pieces of expensive furniture. On the brighter side, they had comfortable chairs to sit on.

 

The Green inquired again about channelers, the Ebou Dari noble houses and anything that might have looked or sounded suspicious. The merchants stayed quite vague – was he afraid for his clientele – up until the moment Myrrhi started talking about newcomers. Again the name of Master Schirrù popped up, more than once, making the young woman wonder whether she should pay that man a visit.

 

She had to fight to keep her Aes Sedai serene face. The merchant couldn’t know what had caught her attention in his half an hour long monologue, nor that Schirrù might be of interested to her.

 

A customer came in as the merchant started to talk about the Ebou Dari leather market, it was the perfect time for her to take her leave. She thanked the merchant and decided it was time to go back to the inn, so that she could freely talk with her Warder.

 

***

 

- Aes Sedai, Elessar said, the hint of a smile on his otherwise hard face. A new day beckons. A new chance to strike at the Shadow.

 

Myrrhi closed her book and quickly swallowed one of her last pastries. Controlling her face not to blush, she popped yet one another in her mouth.

 

- I have been thinking about our plan. Schirrù … We have to find a way to know who he is, but we have to stay discreet..

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.. Even the best plans.. ..

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“So, Myrrhi Aes Sedai - do you have a good explanation for breaking into my Manor House and going through my private papers in the dead of night?”

 

 

The darkness of the room was partially lit up by the two candle lights the man they knew as Master Schirrù held in his hands as he stared hard at them there they stood beside his work desk, Elessar still holding onto some private papers he had found in the desk drawer and Myrrhi placing on the desktop the parchment she had been reading in the half-light from the moon outside.

 

Warder and Sedai looked literally taken aback by the fact they had been caught red handed!

 

Discreet indeed..

 

Caught like mice in a trap. Like pathetic amateurs, the Warder thought tempestuously, feeling shame.

 

And not only had they been caught, but the man knew Myrrhi by name.

 

Elessar and Myrrhi exchanged a silent glance, somewhat turbulent emotions flowing through the Bond.

 

This probably wasn’t my best idea, thought the Gaidin wryly but also guiltily as the silence lengthened.

 

 

It had seemed like a good plan.

 

At the time.

 

Two days earlier they had discussed their options. Myrrhi had been honest in saying that she did not think she - or they - could leave the situation with the imminent Darkfriend assassinations and head east straight away. At the time Elessar’s attention had for a moment been diverted to the far side of the room they had been seated in, his gaze hardening hearing a suspicious noise from the corridor, thinking of potential threats, but then his gaze had relaxed, understanding that it was likely nothing. Turning back to his Bondholder he had replied that he agreed with her. He did not either enjoy leaving unfinished business behind, especially when the Shadow was concerned.

 

When Myrrhi, seeing his reaction of before, had asked, half-seriously, half-teasingly, if he had just scared someone? he had replied with a lopsided grin but a fierce stare that he never scared people, he gave them stares that frightened them half to death! It was part of being a Warder-protector, he had added mock-seriously with a dangerous wide grin. Seeing the look in his eyes Myrrhi would have choked on her tea had she had any more left in her cup. She was glad this man was on her side!

 

They had drafted a plan once they had agreed on the next steps to take and subsequently had visited several of Myrrhi’s contacts in the Green Ajah’s local Eyes and Ears network. First Alaido, a local baker, whom Myrrhi had looked forward to meeting also for his delicious bakery, Elessar suspected. She had told him to wait outside, winking as she had informed him to not start a duel. He had swallowed his response, and she had already passed inside the bakery and had not seen his wry grin. Some time later Myrrhi had departed the baker’s shop, carrying a small box of pastries that looked marvelously delicious when Elessar inquired, and when he had insisted to have a taste or three she had been unable to resist him even though it was clear from her facial expression that she had wanted those little marvels for herself. When Elessar had asked for a fourth helping (trying hard to keep his face neutral and not to laugh at her expression) she had almost stuck her tongue out at him, but had kept decorum and for the rest of the day had guarded the few pastries left in the box with her life.

 

 

The next contact had appeared quite quickly - as they had been walking down a curvy Ebou Dari street - recognizing the green ribbon Myrrhi was wearing in her hair. Had the ribbon been black….. now that would have been interesting, Elessar had thought in a fleeting moment of wild contemplation.. The man, a richly dressed local merchant, had invited the Aes Sedai to his ‘humble store’ as he called it. Elessar had remained outside, again, only entering later. He had had the impression that Myrrhi was a little disappointed that there had been no delicious snacks there to enjoy, or perhaps it had just been his imagination. These were strange times after all.. After a while as the Aes Sedai and the merchant had talked, a customer had entered the shop and Myrrhi and Elessar had taken their leave. Back at the ‘Fallen Mermaid’ inn they had talked about what she had learned and had discussed options for a long time.

 

They had continued their discussion the next morning and afternoon. And that was when Elessar had come up with the ‘ingenious’ plan: they would go on the offensive, take the bull by the horns so as to speak, find out where this mysterious foreign Nobleman resided, and break into his Manor and find evidence of his complicity in the imminent assassination business. Myrrhi had, to tell the truth, been rather taken aback by his far from discreet plan of action, had kept most of her thoughts to herself, but trusting her experienced and usually wise and strategically sound Warder had gone along with the daring plan for the moment at least as he had explained the details. Further inquiries the following day had led to the knowledge where the Nobleman in question’s Manor House lay - on the western edge of Ebou Dar, close to the sea as it turned out - and they had discussed how to proceed, making a detailed plan, selecting the right time (dead of night, they both agreed was safest) and readying themselves.

 

A little past midnight, in the dark of night, they had cautiously entered the Manor grounds, crept past a couple of not-too-attentive guards slouching by the building, and had used a lockpick to open a back door (fascinating how useful some things learned over the years was, Elessar had thought amusedly) with no alarm being raised. They had further crept through the Shadows of the Manor, which had been quiet, until they had reached the office on the second floor. The contacts they had spoken to, who were familiar with how Ebou Dari mansions were built, had been adamant that that was where the office in all likelihood would be - and they were right. Elessar had picked this second lock too and they had entered the chamber, now confident that this daring venture would be a successful one. Myrrhi had in truth been torn between thinking this whole thing was insane and that it was exciting - but as they approached the work desk by the window her excitement had picked up. Now they would find the evidence they needed to stop the assassinations from happening! And they had indeed found written papers that were highly suspicious, correspondence between the Master and certain other parties of seemingly dubious nature, making them feel this very daring activity had been worth it.

 

 

All had been going well….. until they were discovered, caught red handed!

 

Master Schirrù, wearing his night robe but standing as stately as if he wore his finest shirt and coat, studied them both now in the light from the candle lights, his eyes tightening dangerously, waiting for the intruders to speak.

 

Elessar knew he was mostly to blame for this major cock-up, it had primarily been his plan after all which Myrrhi, perhaps partly grudgingly, had gone along with, and he knew it was only right that he try to save them from this highly embarrassing and volatile situation.

 

He was trying to think of the best way to come on the offensive in this rather precarious predicament, considering appropriate responses in his mind, when Myrrhi spoke.

 

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