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Duty is heavier than a mountain (attn: Con)


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The long war meeting was over and despite the difficulties in the start, the Militia and the Dragon's representatives had an agreement of co-operation in freeing Illian from Ja'varan and now a plan for how to start it. The evidence was clear that the Council of Nine was held under Compulsion and the older Companions who had spirited Sofia to safety knew that others who had remained loyal were held imprisoned under the Council's palace. The very next morning two attacks would be launched, the first would re-take the Council's palace and the second would eliminate the fester posing as the Queen and her supporters.


Arette approved the plan: it was feasible and quick strikes would take the Forsaken by a surprise. Still, her heart was cold with fear for Con's safety. He would be there in both attacks and during the second one there would be powerful channelers using the One Power as a weapon. As good as he was with his quarterstaff, there wasn't much he could do against Saidar or Saidin. He needed someone to watch his back and in her opinion he hadn't secured it well enough. One part of the strategy remained vague to her and that was her role.


Their girls were tucked in the bed and the nightly rituals of bath, bedtime story and kisses from mother and father had commenced as usual. Also Sofia was retired to her quarters so the two of them had the sitting room all to themselves. Arette had no desire to spoil their entire short time together that could very well be their last, so they had just sat there in a comfortable silence and stayed snuggled to each others deepening the contact by an occasional kiss and caress. She couldn't tell if he was going through the coming battle in his head, but he was an experienced soldier who could likely block that kind of worries. She tried to not let it affect her and just enjoy the moment, but she couldn't help to think that she did not want to be widowed after only three months of marriage. There was a way and he would see it too.


Finally she spoke, her voice much calmer than her thoughts. "It seems to me like you left one asset out of the otherwise fine war plan, love. Would you like to explain the reasoning behind that?" They both knew what he was going to say but they were of different view of the end result of the debate that would follow. He had to get out with it before she could give her counter; she didn't want to jump into conclusions.

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  • 2 months later...

It was good to relax in the sitting room, it still felt weird on occasion to even think about it so.  It was the first and most likely to be the only house he would ever own, it was his.  That sense of permanence helped give him a sense of security, even with everything that was going on from a Forsaken holding the throne to hiding the true heir to the throne within his home.  And Arette was his wife, sitting in his lap and simply being, the realisation of a dream that he'd had, had shattered, had reforged and made true with the wedding bands they wore.


Tied together, that too was a sense of permanence and security that Con knew he would defend more vigourously than he ever had anything else, as he would his daughters.  For a home, for a wife, for children, a man could risk everything to see them safe.  And that was what he planned to do, the only way to keep his family safe, to keep his people safe, was to see Sofia safely on her throne.  There was no other possibility, he would never see his children grow up in a nation ruled by Forsaken, he wouldn't see his people afraid in the streets, he refused to allow anything that could cause him to fear losing everything he had to continue.


It was for this reason that he planned with outsiders, servants of the Dragon who was prophesised yet brought so much destruction in his wake.  It was the only way for Sofia to reclaim her throne, Sofia who had come to see as a member of their family much like his many nieces and nephews of whom Sofia had come to know many.  Young, she was nevertheless beginning to learn what lives her people led, he hoped it would give her a wisdom that many nobles lacked.


It caused him to think of how much Arette had changed since they had first met.  Born of a noble Andoran household, raised in the Tower and becoming the Keeper of Chronicles.  Position, superior status, money, these were things that had been the staple of her entire life.  It hadn't been until her exile and Fernhill that she had begun to truly grasp what it was like for those of not so noble bloodlines.  Illian had taught her the depth of poverty that people lived in, and why Con had been forever angry with the Tower for not helping more.  Even now, she continued to teach many of the members of his extended family how to read and write.  Skills that he knew most of them would have no practical use for, but Con knew for himself that learning how to read and write had changed him fundamentally, a whole new world became available with those skills.


Maybe with skills like those, they could reshape the Perfumed Quarter.


Looking to Arette as she broke the comfortable silence with her question, Con had anticipated that Arette might try and question it.  He'd deliberately minimised Arette's involvement, he knew that she wouldn't agree with it but he didn't mind, she was not going to be coming.  "When this battle do be happening, the chances are that many of us do be falling.  If something do be happening to me, the children do be needing their mother more than ever.  I would no be risking them losing both of us."



Con Stavros

Militia Head

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Her husband was playing dirty and appealing to her guilt that was roused easily and motherly feelings but it wasn't going to work this time. She wanted to explode at him for even suggesting that something could happen to him but it was a grim fact and the primary reason why she would be going along. But digging your heels to the ground was never a good tactic with Con, reasoning worked sometimes and she would attempt that first.


"It seems to me that I am the only mother who is to be excluded from this battle. The whole Illian depends on Sofia but you are still taking her along. She will be a liability and you have to commit many men to keep her safe. But I can use the One Power, Con and I remember a time less than six months ago when you didn't hold me back from a battle. You needed a channeler then, so you used me. And now you need channelers even more since we will be the ones who resolve the fight against her. In fact, you need me because I am the only one who can see her weaves and those of her female cronies and react to them in time. The Asha'man, no matter how well trained in killing things, can see the weaving of women as much as fishes can teach birds to swim until the effect is already visible."


"Did the wedding ring suddenly change me into a damsel in distress, husband? I'm a Servant of All and this is a prelude to the most important battle in the whole world. You have your duty and I have mine and no matter how painful it will be, we both have to use our abilities to their fullest or neither one of us will not be able to face our daughters. And we both will face them. Would it be too much to ask for you to have some faith in my capabilities and the chance that I might increase our both's odds to survive?"


Arette Stavros

Exiled Brown Sister

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"Six months ago I no be having a choice, this time I do be.  We do be having Asha'man and they do be trained for battle, they no be able to see her weaves but there do be enough of them that they will be overwhelming her regardless."  Sitting his free hand on her lap, Con shook his head at her.  He understood why she was unhappy, she didn't want to leave him to walk into danger and she felt she could help, but he didn't want to risk it, couldn't.  Not after losing her before.  "I did be losing you once, I no be losing you again.  If I do be losing you a second time, I no be thinking I have the strength to continue on."


She wanted to protest right away but Con seemed to have more to say so she held her tongue impatiently. As he continued, it seemed that they were getting at the root of the issue; they both were afraid of loosing the other and with their history, it was quite understandable. They had been married for only few months and she had never been happier in her life, not even in the Tower with him when things had been well between them. It was cruel that their life together was threatened like this but the Last Battle was coming so bemoaning was useless. The only thing that made a difference was actions and he was trying to keep her from affecting things.


She cupped his scarred cheeks intently and gazed at him, her eyes full of love. "And I feel exactly the same. I would be devastated if you anything happened to you." And this time there wouldn't be event the faintest hope of meeting again. "But you would continue somehow and I would do the same because of the girls and our whole family. That is why we are fighting in the first place, so they can live in a country free of Forsaken influence. You can't avoid this battle because you are leading your men but neither can I. The Asha'men may not be yours but as the commander and maker of this plan, you are responsible for them. They may have the numbers but she will be able  to counterstike since they won't know what she is attempting. But there is a way to avoid casualties among them and it is your duty to take it." Well well, you would think that she cared for the Asha'man. But they were still people and followers of the Light and she really could help.


"Can I be responsible for you though?"  Looking away, Con was silent for a moment as he tried to find the words that he was after.  "One of the reasons I did be hating my position in the Tower be that I knew that I be sending people into danger everytime.  Here, I be doing the same but the need be much more immediate, either we do it or we do be preyed upon.  But everytime I do be making that decision, I do be responsible for it.  Do you be thinking I could be ordering you to be taking the risk, then be living with myself afterwards if you did be killed?  I no be able to do it, won't do it."


Poor Con, the duties of a Commander had weighed on him then just like she had felt the weight of her position and the responsibility of people in the world, most of whom she was completely unable to help. And now he had been thrusted with exactly the same thing in his home. And it was even worse, more personal because he knew and liked every man. He had been serving with many of them for some time and the newer recruits of the Militia he had grown up with. "You can't order me to do anything, dear", she reminded him with a slight smile but grew serious again. "I am making this decision myself but I know that doesn't absolve you in your mind from the responsibility. You just can't shake away from the idea that you let me to come along." She sighed. "But I'm not going to die and neither will you. We just can't because we have too much to live for. But that's not much of a comfort when you're as afraid for the other as I am for you. I'm still going to do it."


Con frowned at Arette, there was an unusual level of steel in her voice underneath the softness.  It was rare when he heard it, usually because Arette was content to let him make decisions after having spent a lifetime of making them for others, but this time she was set.  Resolve that he wasn't likely to undermine this time, something which made him proud yet fearful of the possible consequences at the same time.  He did not want his wife to be in harm's way, if he died then he wouldn't have to deal with it, he would be dead.  If she died, then he would die and he would have to deal with it, every day afterward because he would have to survive for his children.  A wishful bit of thinking came to mind that he voiced.  "Not if I do be trussing you and blindfolding you."


For a moment Arette just stared at her husband sternly; this had to be a jest and a bad one at that. But if he had attempted to lighten the mood, he had succeeded. She chuckled and pecked him a kiss. "Not if you want to share our marriage bed with me." It was an unlikely threat because she would be depriving herself as much as him. "But seriously, I will be careful. I can't do much in the Palace of the Council and I will stay off the worst melee and do the same thing in the Queen's Palace. So the only really dangerous part is facing her." And she didn't really want him thinking exactly how much. She would be the only female channeler present which would likely make her a magnet of Ja'varan's efforts. To think that she had posed all these years as a Green sister angered her, a Green sister who had been close to Lanfir and Lyanna from what she had heard from Telcia.


She had been thinking of something and since this was the last night before the battle, she would have to bring it up now. It could be as risky as her coming along but it might also make the important difference for Con and help him to return to her. He just couldn't see her hesitate and Calvin's death definately had given her a second thought. She had never experienced anything that painful in her life. The broken edges of the bond were still chafing and hurting when she let herself to focus on it. "Con, there is something I can do for you if you are willing. Increased strength and endurance..."


Smiling at the peck he got, Con sighed at what she offered before pulling her close to him.  It was an old argument, and one that he would never give up on.  A different and a different place, a long time ago perhaps.  But not now, he was too old for it and more than that, he didn't need to be in her head to know that she loved him.  "No.  Loving you and fighting for our family be giving me all the strength I need."  Kissing her tenderly, as they parted his face was blank as he spoke.  "As for the other thing...  Maybe we should be turning in."


The refusal was expected and she knew that it wasn't anymore for the rediculous claim that he wasn't good enough to be anyone's Warder. That was enough for her. And she was actually partially relieved that he refused but she tried to keep it from her face. He might have said no, but he might not like to know that she had been doubting her offer. It wasn't because she didn't want him in her mind, just the contrary; she would love to know what exactly he was feeling and there could be some... sensual applications for it too. It was more the fear of yet another blinding agony of lost Warder. Not that he would die before her but the dark doubt was still there.


Responding the kiss eagerly, she grinned at Con. "That sounds like a plan to me." She leaned to nip his ear slightly and whispered "Maybe you could blindfold me after all."


Smiling, Con adjusted his hold on Arette and stood, cradling her in his arms as she wrapped her arms around him.  Much like their marriage night, hopefully not their last night but Con pushed that thought solidly away from him.  They would have this night, then tomorrow they would win Illian back for the Light or perish to the last, but for now it was their night.



Con & Arette Stavros

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