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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Laman's Legacy: Darkness and Shadow


Myth
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James' post to get it started:

 

 

Ryas stretched his fingers even as Tamin began to play once more for their appreciative audience. The way Tamin's fingers and bow skipped across the violin carried yet another tune of the Almoth Plains upon her strings, something that the Aiel had not heard often but had quickly come to appreciate over the other forms of music they played. The beat of nine eighths was quickly taken up by Luc on the Tapan; the one, two, three, one two three, one, two, three, one two three that just sliced half a beat short of the basic five and four and half a beat too far for the basic four and four that was common in countries like Andor.

 

Between the pair of them, Tamin and Luc, they created an aggressive dance to which Ryas lent his Mandolin. Chords and harmony were Ryas forte even as Luc kept the beat and Tamin wove his melody upon two strings at any one time. Now a trio, they had heads nodding and feet tapping to the beat even as Aiel began to circle the fire they played by. First a man of the Seia Doon lept the flame, then one of the Far Dareis Mai who twisted in the air as she did so to land safely on the other side of the flames.

 

And so it was that they attempted to assist in the bet between the Seia Doon and Far Dareis Mai they had met this night. The leaping of the flames seemed to be the closest thing they had to dancing, twisting and kicking through the air as they did so, and the challenge of who was better at it was a perfect excuse for them to trouble the gleeman who had been with them for over a week to play for what seemed an eternity. Ryas was certain that if the pace continued, blistering as it had been all week, his fingers were going to weep blood from the strain but he kept at it nevertheless.

 

A hectic week it had been in fact. Gleemen were always in demand in a camp of such size, and music always seemed to be a good balm for the Aiel who were about to enter Cairhien, especially now that the city had all but turned against them. At least, that was the climate of feeling, little to no success against those who attacked them by night and new dead every night to show for their success or lack thereof. Frustration was growing amongst the Aiel and there were more spears that spoke of taking the fight directly to the Treekillers, to purge them from the city altogether.

 

Not that Ryas could complain, coin was coin and there was plenty to be made here. Well, not coin exactly, but there were plenty of things that Aiel had little use for that they were more than willing to trade away. Enough to ensure that Ryas could live more than comfortably for a year, or just plain comfortably for a few if he were frugal. But, that wasn't his way and he had a name to make for himself after all. It was part of why he was amongst the Aiel, maybe if he played for them long enough then the word would reach their chiefs of their ability, then maybe their Car'a'carn. Now, playing before the Dragon Reborn would be a true honour, and maybe there would be a chance to learn enough that he could write a song wo-

 

The music stopped as the dancers did, an Aiel that Ryas knew but struggled to remember the name of, Delly, Dally, Addy, Adeline? That was it, she always stuck out because she was about as short as the Cairhienin and was one of the easier maidens to stir, or so Ryas had observed in just about every exchange between Shaen M'taal and Far Dareis Mai that had involved her. But, whatever she had to say, it had all the Aiel cheering even as she moved onto the next group. Certainly it had the Aiel asking for music with a renewed enthusiasm, maybe afterwards they'd learn what had actually happened.

 

 

Ryas Alfaesa

Gleeman

 

OOC: Sorry this took so long. At anyrate, Aiel have returned with the prisoners from the Son's & Daughter thread. These prisoners are Lord Alnaeu, Lady Dulcie, Jean Marfal and Alianna Karalev. Myth, I remember your char wanted to talk to Alianna about her fighting for the Cairhienin and a couple of other odds and ends. If anyone else wants to interact, now is the time. Celebrating the Aiel victory, talking to one of the other prisoners etc. Or talking to the gleemen is also a possible

 

After awhile, I'll push it forward to the second part of this phase.

 

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Above his veil, his eyes searched for enemies, but that was second nature to him. As basic as breathing and requiring as little thought.

 

The youngest society leader of the Aiel had much more worrisome things to occupy his mind at the moment than waking from the dream. First and foremost were the Light-cursed Treekillers who were all around him.

 

They had as little honour as a Shara man selling silk, but they were ignorant to the dangers that lay around them. Like blindworms in the sun. His mind wrestled with the options that lay before his people in the upcoming confrontation that he was certain was on its way. The Car’a’carn forbade the Aiel to solve the problem, so the problem grew worse. Soon, it would result in something tragic, he was sure of it. It was as certain as the sun rising in the east. Like leaving a yellowfly’s egg in your skin. But he kept his mouth shut until such a time as his words would be heard.

 

As the raiding party approached the Aiel’s temporary home outside the Oathbreakers’ walls, a part of him became aware of the comfortable feel of the woman he carried. He rarely looked at wetlander women like that, but the thief catcher felt a pleasant handful, and a primal part of him appreciated the feeling while his mind focused on the trials that lay ahead.

 

Hysterical keening was followed by a frantic scrabbling to get away as his passenger finally awakened. The thief catcher fought like a cat in a bag, but Cor simply smacked her on the backside and said, “Be silent woman.”

 

Of course, she didn’t listen.

 

Cor slung her off his shoulder and pinned her on her back as he held her down with one foot placed on her throat. The rest of the Aiel paused to watch, many offering taunting suggestions, advice on how best to silence the wetlander prisoner. Cor laughed at the more amusing ones, but he had his mind made up. The continued wailing did nothing but encourage him on his course of action.

 

He swiftly unbuckled her belt, and yanked it from the loops. Pulling out his knife, he ran it up one leg of her trousers, then the other, and yanked them off like skinning a rabbit.

 

“I told you to be silent, but you didn’t listen.” he said calmly as if to a child. “Now we will see if you can wail properly.”

 

Turning her over one knee, he began to redden her bare buttocks with her own belt. The thrashing and squalling raised to a fever pitch as the brisk rhythm of the spanking continued. Finally when both cheeks were a bright tomato red, Cor paused. “Do you think you can be silent?”

 

The thief catcher gave him a horribly pained look, but she nodded without a word.

 

“Good.”  Cor promptly grabbed her by both legs and again slung her over his shoulder, leaving her pants where they had fallen. They didn’t have far to go, and he figured that the Wise Ones would let him speak with her after seeing she was so well behaved.

 

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Estel's post:

 

The strange, steady bouncing rhythm which eventually brought her back to the land of consciousness, invaded her sleeping mind in the form of strange dreams, mostly of riding tied to a galloping horse or of being shaken by some half-perceived giant, eventually brought her back to the land of consciousness, though awareness was a while in coming.  Both were in a way true though her awareness of the fact was a while in coming.  The only thing she was aware of in the beginning was the mind-shattering throbbing which permeated her entire head and fogged all coherent thought.  It almost seemed like the steady rhythm from her dreams was this throbbing rather than the entire bouncing and jolting of her body that Alianna finally became aware of some time later.

 

By the time she managed to open her eyes, her view was restricted to an expanse of tan the colour of sand interspersed occasionally with shades of lighter and darker browns.  Thought and coherence were still some time in coming but she would later string together the rising and falling of shouts and conversation with the restricted vision and the constant thumping which was knocking the wind out of her after every particularly strong jolt, to form the rather unpleasant picture of being carried through a crowd by a strong, and by the excellent view of his nice rear end, man.

 

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place as her memory returned.  Oh Light, what Alianna would have given to have put-off that event for a time yet- eternity in fact.  Or else if she couldn’t forever avoid those memories and their consequences, she wanted a nice bottle of whiskey at her elbow to help digest them.

 

“Blood and ashes.”  Tears began to leak from the edges of her tightly closed eyes.  Like a child, she tried to block out reality with removing her sight of it; if you can’t see it, it can’t hurt you.  Wishful thinking.  ‘Light save me now, I knew the consequences of my actions- if not before, then afterwards.  Oh Light, what am I going to do?  What can I do?  Nothing.  What will they do to me?  What will they do!’

 

Images, painted brilliantly by her mind made possibilities that strengthened her sobs so that the man carrying her must have felt them, punctuated as they were by his shoulder driving the air out of her lungs.  Grim visions of the future were interrupted by occasional vivid memories of the past that had brought her to this.  One figure stood out before all the other many in memory: Cor.  Light, this had to be him.  Oh but it couldn’t be because if this was him everything would be so much worse and surely… surely this couldn’t get any worse.

 

“Cor?” she sobbed.  A grunt came that could have meant anything but for some reason the grunt was too familiar.  “Blood and bloody ashes.”  Her wails must have been heard throughout the sprawling, make-shift Aiel city.

 

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Above his veil, his eyes searched for enemies, but that was second nature to him. As basic as breathing and requiring as little thought.

 

The youngest society leader of the Aiel had much more worrisome things to occupy his mind at the moment than waking from the dream. First and foremost were the Light-cursed Treekillers who were all around him.

 

They had as little honour as a Shara man selling silk, but they were ignorant to the dangers that lay around them. Like blindworms in the sun. His mind wrestled with the options that lay before his people in the upcoming confrontation that he was certain was on its way. The Car’a’carn forbade the Aiel to solve the problem, so the problem grew worse. Soon, it would result in something tragic, he was sure of it. It was as certain as the sun rising in the east. Like leaving a yellowfly’s egg in your skin. But he kept his mouth shut until such a time as his words would be heard.

 

As the raiding party approached the Aiel’s temporary home outside the Oathbreakers’ walls, a part of him became aware of the comfortable feel of the woman he carried. He rarely looked at wetlander women like that, but the thief catcher felt a pleasant handful, and a primal part of him appreciated the feeling while his mind focused on the trials that lay ahead.

 

Hysterical keening was followed by a frantic scrabbling to get away as his passenger finally awakened. The thief catcher fought like a cat in a bag, but Cor simply smacked her on the backside and said, “Be silent woman.”

 

Of course, she didn’t listen.

 

Cor slung her off his shoulder and pinned her on her back as he held her down with one foot placed on her throat. The rest of the Aiel paused to watch, many offering taunting suggestions, advice on how best to silence the wetlander prisoner. Cor laughed at the more amusing ones, but he had his mind made up. The continued wailing did nothing but encourage him on his course of action.

 

He swiftly unbuckled her belt, and yanked it from the loops. Pulling out his knife, he ran it up one leg of her trousers, then the other, and yanked them off like skinning a rabbit.

 

“I told you to be silent, but you didn’t listen.” he said calmly as if to a child. “Now we will see if you can wail properly.”

 

Turning her over one knee, he began to redden her bare buttocks with her own belt. The thrashing and squalling raised to a fever pitch as the brisk rhythm of the spanking continued. Finally when both cheeks were a bright tomato red, Cor paused. “Do you think you can be silent?”

 

The thief catcher gave him a horribly pained look, but she nodded without a word.

 

“Good.”  Cor promptly grabbed her by both legs and again slung her over his shoulder, leaving her pants where they had fallen. They didn’t have far to go, and he figured that the Wise Ones would let him speak with her after seeing she was so well behaved.

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Estel's post:

 

he slap to her own bottom, which she found slightly ironic in retrospect having earlier studied his in great detail, startled her so that, for a moment, she stopped her racket.  Of course, only momentarily, at which point she reached a new level of hysterics, his violence towards her confirming fears which by now held her in such a state of terror that her entire body was rigid and she would have curled herself in a ball had his shoulder and strong arms not prevented it.

 

Impossibly, Alianna’s terror doubled as he threw her to the ground.  When he took his knife, she almost prayed that he would just open her throat and it would all be done with.  Her mind detached itself as it prepared for the fall of unknown depth into the embrace, whether of simple nothingness or some Creator’s utopia made as the destiny of souls who died while they awaited their next turn to be spun out in the Wheel.

 

Her body went rigid as Cor cut her breeches off and her mind further retreated from her body to avoid having to experience the rape and her imminent death.  What a way to end.  Her mind briefly reflected on her run-in with the Tower Trainee a month ago.  ‘Is this Your justice, Light?  If this is, does this repay my own sin?  Am I wiped clean, or will I still suffer the Dark One’s will for my soul?  Blood and ashes, I repent… I repent… Just don’t let that happen!’

 

Moments stretched out, moving impossibly slow and giving the thief catcher time to imagine the lives she would lead when the Wheel spun her back out.  She swore to herself that she would never again be a thief catcher, or a thief.  What she wanted was to be a simple housewife, with a family somewhere south of the Borderlands where they wouldn’t have to think of Trolloc raids as a part of life.  Would there be Trollocs though?  In a world after Tarmon Gai’don?  With the Kareathon Cycle finished out would the world be rid of the Dark One’s influence?  Or would the Dragon Reborn fail his destiny?  Would the world be reigned openly by the Shadow and Forsaken?

 

Whack!

 

The feel of her own belt across her bottom yanked her mind painfully back into reality.  She wasn’t being raped, though her death was still in question.

 

Whack!

 

Her eyes bulged in shock and her screams were strangled in her throat by the sudden release of air in her lungs.  Tears still streamed down her face but she clenched her jaw to keep from screaming out.

 

Whack!

 

She squeezed her eyes shut as her bottom stung like a thousand bees stinging at once.  Alianna felt phantom blood running down her buttocks and between her legs.  Despite her predicament…  Despite the situation…  Despite everything…  With him over top of her and pinning her down and slapping her bared rear with her own belt, it was oddly erotic.  She had to fight bitterly ironic laughter as the scene with Braxton flashed through her mind.  Kissing him, forcing the boy who was only a few years older than her dead son to the ground because reclaiming control of her sex-crazed mind and smashing him over the head with a rock.

 

Whack!

 

“Do you think you can be silent?”

 

Alianna stared at him, half her mind fighting down terror at what was to come while the other half grappled with the insane desire to wrap her conveniently naked legs around his waist and pull his head into one hell of a kiss.

 

Before her mind could decide whether it would give itself over to terror or lust, he scooped her up and she was once again bouncing on his shoulder as he set off to the Light alone knew where.  Oddly she felt calm, despite having her bottom and legs bared to thousands of strange men.  Her mind had accepted the fact that she would die and she had come to terms with it… sort of.

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The rest of the trip was uneventful, although the Aiel in the camp flocked to them like fleas to a Shaido. Everyone was clambering for news until Ghaul silenced them with a word and ducked into the tent of the head Wise One.

 

Cor stood outside with the remaining members of the raiding party, and the prisoners of course. The veils hadn’t been lowered, because it was still undetermined what to do with the Treekiller captives, or the thief catcher. Cor suspected his spear brothers wouldn’t make much of a distinction between them even if they knew.

 

On impulse, he lifted his passenger and stood her on the ground. “Not one word.” he said softly but firmly. “Keep an eye on her.” he added to the Stone Dogs nearest him then entered the tent.

 

All talk ceased with his entrance, and he lowered his veil. “I see you Clan Chief. I see you Wise Ones. I request permission to speak to one of the captives before you question her. Afterwards, she may not be able to give me answers.” He knew very well that the prisoners would very likely be executed.

 

Arched brows, loud harrumphs, and unnecessary shawl straightening from the assembled Wise Ones accompanied his request, but Ghaul just looked at him thoughtfully.

 

“I know her from before today. She was a thief catcher before she started running with thieves.”

 

Muttered curses erupted from the Wise Ones before Ghaul raised a hand. “What do you want, Cor?” the older man asked.

 

“I would ask her how she came to be amongst the Treekillers. She is not an Oathbreaker, and I would hear it from her mouth why she forsook the law and betrayed the trust I gave her a few weeks past.”

 

At the mention of betrayal and possible lying, they agreed to let him take her. After all, even though wetlanders didn’t follow ji’e’toh, he was the one who had first claim.

 

He ducked back out into the open and crooked a finger at the half naked thief catcher. “Come with me.” She followed without a word, until Cor came to a halt a few tents away.

 

“Well?” Her silent look of confusion and fear made him want to yell, but he didn’t. Yet. But it was a near thing. “What under the Light were you thinking to get in such a mess? I should kill you where you stand.”

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Estel's post:

 

Alianna remained silent and as stock-still as possible for the remainder of the “ride”.  She was scared but she distanced herself from her body, naturally, to keep from letting terror completely overwhelming her senses.  The Kandori was almost impassive as she stood outside the tent with the others, faces she recognised; Lady Dulcei and some of the other men she had seen at the gathering.  Their faces belied fear for their lives, though none of them were the wreck Alianna had been just a few minutes before.

 

As Cor went inside the tent, she took deep breaths, calming herself for what she knew was coming.  All the same, she couldn’t help but glance nervously, detached as her mind was, at the other captives.  Sure, they were about to die too but their deaths would be impersonal and they would feel no guilt for what they did- regret, probably, but they were going to be killed by total strangers, not a man they had come to like and trust as a friend.

 

Unfortunately, her mind could not longer stay separate and watch her body die once the Aielman stepped out of the tent with orders to follow him.  She had at least hoped that one of the other Aiel would kill her or that she would at least be killed with the others around her- not by Cor and certainly not alone, despite the adage “everyone dies alone”.  Her heart raced and she could no longer keep her breaths slow and steady.  Fear filled her mind, fogging coherent though as terror took over.  Alianna could feel sobs begging to be let out from her hyperventilating lungs but managed to hold them as with every step she approached her doom.

 

He dragged her into a low tent before placing his big hands on her shoulders and spinning her towards him.  All Ali could see as he forced her face up to look at him were his eyes.  Brilliant blue eyes that blazed with a fury that should have turned them fire red.  She longed to avoid that accusing stare; to somehow escape it but at the same time she was entranced by his beautiful eyes, reminding her so much of her late husband’s.

 

Once again, she was asked the question she couldn’t answer; the same question she furiously and fearfully asked herself.  Why?  Why?  Why?  Why had she done what she did?  She didn’t know.  Something to do with her unwillingness to let him deal justice as if he had the right between life and death?  Or was it something else?  A need to lash out at that time?  Light burn her, she just didn’t know!

 

So she stood there, pantless, silent and terrified.  Moments stretched with an eternity between each.  If only she could somehow hide from the question?  Somehow evade it; evade her mind’s unspoken questions as well as his audible one.  If only…  If only…

 

Alianna squeezed her eyes shut; willing this to go away; willing herself to wake up from this nightmare.  The night air prickled her bare legs and sent shivers through her entire body.  Her mind jumped from subject to subject, avoiding the question at hand and she became sensitively aware of his strong hands roughly holding her shoulders.

 

She look him in the eyes as they blazed back at her, almost begging for an answer.  Why did he care?  Simply for closure?  On its own, her darted up to his face, pulling the black veil signifying her death from his mouth while her other hand pulled his face down to hers.

 

The kiss was for a number of reasons and none.  Even in retrospect she could never understand why; whether as a ploy to save herself, some unsated sexual urge or out of genuine feeling.

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Cor wouldn’t have been more stunned if it had rained in the Threefold Land.

 

He forced her away from him and stepped back, angrily wiping his mouth with a forearm. “Have you lost your mind woman?!” What under the Light is wrong with these bloody wetlanders?!?

 

Shaking his head as if that would clear the suddenly confused clutter that filled his mind, he took another step back, his finger pointing at her chest like a spear.

 

“I brought you here so you could answer for your betrayal, and you pull this? What are you thinking?!?”

 

Grabbing her by a sleeve, he flung her through the tent’s opening. Stepping through himself, he spoke softly, but as hard as good steel. “Walk. You know the way. The Wise Ones will want a word with you.”

 

He followed her back to the Wise Ones’ tent, but it gave him time to cool his heated blood. It also gave him time to appreciate the tantalizing form of her naked form. In another place, in another time, he might want to try and entice such a lovely woman to share his company. But not here. Not now. The instincts were quickly replaced by the job at hand.

 

She was a traitor. She must pay for her crimes.

 

As they approached the gathering, he saw that the other prisoners were still waiting outside, so he wasted no time. He grabbed the thief catcher turncloak by the back of her right arm, and forcibly marched her into the tent.

 

“I see you all.” he announced formally but tersely. “We have a problem.”

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Estel's post:

 

He didn’t respond.

 

A part of her broke and she was once again gripped by terror as she awaited his blows.  He threw her off of him and she collapsed to the ground at his feet.  Instincts took over as she curled herself into foetal position to both protect herself from injury and as a sort of primal security in being small and held- if only by herself.

 

Alianna refused to look at him, she couldn’t bring herself to do it; couldn’t bring herself to face what she had done before and what she had done just now.  This was the second time she had lost control like that.  Honestly, she might as well have been an adolescent again for all the control she had over herself and her hormones.  Tears ones again leaked down cheeks that hadn’t dried since regaining consciousness.

 

Silence met his seething questions and her silence was in turn met by anger.  Alianna felt her arm bruise and her sleeve rip as he picked her up off the ground, roughly shoving her to her feet and out the tentflap.  Stumbling, the petrified woman fell to her knees only to be forced back on her feet.  Ordered to march ahead of him, she thought she could feel his eyes on her but berated herself for letting her hormones dictate her actions.

 

As she passed the other prisoners, the thief catcher noted their curious, though still fearful, glances.  Cor grabbed her again, forcing her into the tent before practically throwing her at the ground in the middle of a gathering of both men and women.  The women surprised her.  From what she had heard of Aiel women, they fought right alongside their men but these wore white blouses and skirts- not a weapon visible.  Only one of the women present wore the same clothing as the Aiel men and openly wore weapons.  This same woman had her hair tied back like the Aiel men, unlike the women in skirts who wore theirs loose, framing heads and necks covered in massive amounts of necklaces.

 

They all stared at her impassively; calculating, judging.  This was her court of law.  She, the thief catcher, who had brought so many others to more formal hearings of this sort, she who had attacked a friend because he was about to exact justice from an untried criminal, she was on trial.  Grimly she faced her jury with trepidation, they weren’t exactly the most unbiased of juries she had seen but it wasn’t as if she knew enough about Aiel to be any judge of whether this group was any more or less biased than the rest.

 

One of the women spoke up, apparently the head of the unarmed group of women by the way the rest deferred to her.  This created a stir within the armed group of armed Aiel men and the woman and by their glances at a particularly tall Aielman, there was some sort of disturbance between the armed group and the other women.  A usurping of authority perhaps?

 

“What is your name?”

 

Alianna licked her lips with a tongue suddenly devoid of moisture.  She could still feel her kiss lingering there and she braved a glance at Cor but his heated glare sent her eyes quickly to the floor.  “Alianna Karalev.”

 

“You’re not a Treekiller… a Cairhienin as you call them.  What were you doing in Cairhien?”

 

“I am… was a thief catcher…”

 

“Was?” the tall man interrupted from the centre of the armed group.  The woman who had been questioning her, glared at him and he glared back.  Alianna was happy to be ignored in their moments of mutual irritation.

 

“Continue.”

 

“I was following a man, a would-be assassin and kidnapper from Caemlyn.  When I got to Cairhien I noticed the Aiel… your camp… er… city… umm…” the woman rolled her eyes disparagingly and prompted her to move on with the story.  “Well, I met Cor who agreed to help my find him.  Eventually we did, and that’s when…” Alianna trailed off, unwilling to continue.  She glanced at Cor again, hoping for comfort, sympathy, even irritation, anything other than his hate.  However, his eyes still burned and the thief catcher paled, staring at the ground.

 

“When and how did you join the rebel group?”

 

“I… umm… Well I…”

 

“Continue with you story.”

 

Alianna took a deep breath before resuming.  Luckily for her the man and woman were too busy glaring at one another to notice her nerves.  Likely most, if not all, of the others standing outside the tent would happily put a knife in her back for all the information, not that she knew much, that she was about to reveal.  It wasn’t like she felt any particular pull towards these people though, she had been forced to them for her own protection.

 

“Cor and I chased the man over the rooftops in Cairhien.  Eventually he came to a dead end… or sorts… or however dead endish you can get on a rooftops.”  The woman impatiently motioned for her to stop babbling and continue.  “He turned to attack Cor and Cor was about to kill him.  I umm… I… er…”  Tears began to form and she pointedly refrained from looking at Cor.  “I uh… I hit Cor over the head with my quarterstaff and ran off with the man.”  It all came out in a rush and her words were met with silence though whether of anger or shock she would never know as she couldn’t seem to move her eyes off the floor.

 

Moments passed before the man and the woman asked simultaneously “Why?”

 

Again the same question; the question she couldn’t even answer for herself.  “I… I don’t know.”  She let the tears run freely down her cheeks.  “If I could go back, I would have just let Cor kill him.  But…  But he was just going to kill the man, without him ever having a chance to defend himself.  I…  That’s… How…  That’s not how I see justice.” she stammered out.

 

“And is that when you joined the rebels?”

 

“The man told me off the Theives Guild who were working against the Aiel occupation” glancing up she noticed dark glance and hastily added “…as they called it.  But because I wasn’t a thief, I wasn’t allowed in the Guild and so they sent me to the Sons of Cairhien as protection and thanks for helping one of theirs.”

 

“How much do you know about the Sons of Cairhien.”

 

“Not much.  They tried to prevent this sort of thing from happening… us being tortured for information.  But our gathering was headed by Lady Dulcei who was captured with me.  We always met at different places and we weren’t allowed to carry weapons to the new locations, we were always armed there to avoid detection.  That’s all I know.”

 

“Why did you join the Sons of Cairhien?  You could have refused their protection and left the city at any time.”

 

“That would require me to go through the Aiel camp.  I wasn’t about to risk that.” she said almost humouredly, which earned her some odd glances from the Aiel about as she had so far come across as weak and simpering.  “I felt I needed their protection to avoid capture and immediate death from an Aiel patrol for aiding a fugitive and attacking an Aiel.”  She wasn’t about to add that she still felt that Aiel could not hold the right of life and death over Cairhienin citizens without an unbiased trial.

 

The Aiel began to discuss in quiet voices that did not carry to Alianna’s ears.  She wasn’t listening anyway.  Her eyes were for Cor’s boots because she could not bring herself to look up and see his face.

 

Completely unexpectedly, moved by a sudden impulse that were becoming frequent since leaving the crater that had once been Chachin, she threw herself at Cor’s feet, prostrating herself.  “I’m sorry.  I beg for the chance to correct my actions, whatever the cost.”  Her voice was strong, clear of any sobs though tears still leaked down her cheeks.

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  This was getting rather frustrating. Yes, the raids was fruitful, they caught some quite 'big game' but still, equally 'big game' managed to escape through the blasted tunnel. The treekillers had the tunnel set to collapse as expected, to cover their retreat. At least no warriors were harmed in the collapse. But still it was all frustrating - Ghaul could think of thousands of ways to solve this whole crisis quite fast, some of them would even not cost the Aiel any casualties at all! True, those relied heavily on channeling Wise Ones or Asha'man, but there was quite a few of both in the Aiel Hold outside the city of the treekillers. Even if they did not agree to cooperate, there were ways to still pull and fire attack or a water attack. True it would take much much longer, but that had it good side. It was quite possible that out of dispair, the rogues would attack head on. And once the fighting was done on Aiel terms - Ghaul had complete confidence in the warriors abilities. If the rogues came head on, they would got slaughtered. Even the rogues knew this, otherwise they would not choose the method of fighting they were currently using. Ghaul shook  his head and continues forward to the Wise One's tent, where the questioning was to take place. Dreaming was not going to change anything, in reality, the Car'a'carn order had the Aiel in the fight with their hands tied behind their back. The clan chief could understand the reasons behind those orders perfectly, but that does not ment that he liked them any better than any warrior. So far this guerilla warfare has resulted in little but casualties on both sides and with little prospect of a way out, unless of course, tonight's raid lives up to it's expectations. And that was soon to be revealed.

 

  The murmuring stopped for a moment as the clan chief walked into the tent of the Wise Ones, then continued again, as if he was not here. Wise Ones and Clan Chiefs usually stayed out of  eachothers hair unless it was absolutelly nesessary to do the otherwise. True sometimes the Wise Ones sometimes seemed to test the sharpness of their tounges on the nearest clan chief, but over the years Ghaul has learned how to handle that. It turned out that when you keep a calm voice in the presence of an yelling Wise One about to give you a tounge lashing, she looses her point. Nifty little trick indeed. Ghaul was about to pour himself a cup of tea when Cor entered the tent.

  “I see you Clan Chief. I see you Wise Ones. I request permission to speak to one of the captives before you question her. Afterwards, she may not be able to give me answers.” - some of the younger Wise Ones seemed to be quite unhappy with this 'intrusion' as some called it. - “I know her from before today. She was a thief catcher before she started running with thieves.”

 

  Whatever protests the Wise Ones had, they all stopped when the clan chief raised his hand

 

“What do you want, Cor?” - Ghaul asked

 

  "I would ask her how she came to be amongst the Treekillers. She is not an Oathbreaker, and I would hear it from her mouth why she forsook the law and betrayed the trust I gave her a few weeks past.”

 

  "What you ask of has logic in it, Cor. If I remember correctly, the thiefcatcher you mention is not a treekiller, but a Borderlander instead. People of the Borderland have honour, almost as if they follow Ji'e'toh too. The fact that she betrayed your trust will make her quite vurnable for questioning from you. You can question her first"

 

  Satisfied with the answer, Cor left the tent, while Ghaul could feel the eyes of the Wise Ones like daggers on his back. Sure, they agreed with what the clan chief said, but obviously did not like the fact that permission was given that easily. Even after years of co-operation with the Wise Ones, Ghaul still could not understand them.

  "Well" - the clan chief began - "There are still quite a few of captives left, so we can start anytime you wish, Wise Ones. Or if you want, we can wait for Cor to return the thief catcher, I am certain he won't take long."

 

    It turned out that the he was right, it was soon that Cor brought the thief catcher entrusted to him back to the tent. The questioning was about to start. Covina, the head Wise One concentrated on the matter at hand while some Wise Ones seem to be busy with trying to chew the clan chief from a distance, since Ghaul motioned to Cor to stay.

 

 

  “What is your name?” - Covina began

 

  “Alianna Karalev.”

 

  “You’re not a Treekiller… a Cairhienin as you call them.  What were you doing in Cairhien?”

 

“I am… was a thief catcher…”

 

  "Was?" - it was the first time Ghaul spoke up and as a result earned himself a glare even from Covina. He smiled back at her. Certainly by now she would have learned that glares do not work on him.

 

  “Continue.”

 

  “I was following a man, a would-be assassin and kidnapper from Caemlyn.  When I got to Cairhien I noticed the Aiel… your camp… er… city… umm…” the woman rolled her eyes disparagingly and prompted her to move on with the story.  “Well, I met Cor who agreed to help my find him.  Eventually we did, and that’s when…” Alianna trailed off, unwilling to continue.  She glanced at Cor again, hoping for comfort, sympathy, even irritation, anything other than his hate.  However, his eyes still burned and the thief catcher paled, staring at the ground.

 

  “When and how did you join the rebel group?” - Ghaul's voice was level and deprived of any emotion

 

 

    “I… umm… Well I…”

 

    “Continue with you story.” - sensing the moment of weakness in the wtelander, Covina presser her hard. Ghaul mentally applauded her for her timely reaction.

 

    “Cor and I chased the man over the rooftops in Cairhien.  Eventually he came to a dead end… or sorts… or however dead endish you can get on a rooftops. He turned to attack Cor and Cor was about to kill him.  I umm… I… er…”  Tears began to form and to flow down on the wetlander's face  “I uh… I hit Cor over the head with my quarterstaff and ran off with the man.”

   

    So this is what Cor ment under betraying his trust. In the next moment, Covina and Ghaul's voice rang like one

    "Why?"

 

    “I… I don’t know.”   tears were  running freely down her cheeks. “If I could go back, I would have just let Cor kill him.  But…  But he was just going to kill the man, without him ever having a chance to defend himself.  I…  That’s… How…  That’s not how I see justice.”

 

    “And is that when you joined the rebels?”

   

  “The man told me off the Theives Guild who were working against the Aiel occupation…as they called it.  But because I wasn’t a thief, I wasn’t allowed in the Guild and so they sent me to the Sons of Cairhien as protection and thanks for helping one of theirs.”

   

    Ghaul was quite ammused at how she hastily added the as they called it part. Yes, they have indeed taken Cairhien by force of arms and what they had in place was an occupation indeed. But still this woman had more questions to answer to.

 

  “How much do you know about the Sons of Cairhien.”

 

    “Not much.  They tried to prevent this sort of thing from happening… us being tortured for information.  But our gathering was headed by Lady Dulcei who was captured with me.  We always met at different places and we weren’t allowed to carry weapons to the new locations, we were always armed there to avoid detection.  That’s all I know.”

 

    “Why did you join the Sons of Cairhien?" You could have refused their protection and left the city at any time.” - Covina did indeed have a knack to pick the right moment

 

    “That would require me to go through the Aiel camp.  I wasn’t about to risk that. I felt I needed their protection to avoid capture and immediate death from an Aiel patrol for aiding a fugitive and attacking an Aiel.”

 

    So it was all motivated from fear of Aiel retribution - it never sized to amaze Ghaul how little do these wetlanders know of the Aiel. As Ghaul was about to turn to the Wise Ones something unexpected happen. The thief catcher spoke without anyone asking her to, and unlike until now, her voice was clear and strong.

 

    "I’m sorry.  I beg for the chance to correct my actions, whatever the cost.”

 

  Ghaul was the first to react to her sudden outburst.

  "Just like an Aiel, all that's missing is for her to asked to be taken Gai'Shan"

 

 

 

 

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Shahed crouched on the ground outside the tent the Wise Ones used for questioning, staring down at the sand almost as though she were dosing, though she was as alert as ever. The young Maiden knew that guarding the tent that was used for questioning was an extremely important task and that she had to concentrate on her surroundings perhaps more than were she guarding anything else, if that were even possible. All kinds of people were taken to the questioning tent, including some extremely dangerous wetlanders who could cause much trouble if they escaped or were allowed to roam free; and for these reasons Shahed remained as vigilant as she could be.

 

Shahed disliked waiting around outside the city of Cairhien. Being a Maiden she was used to travel and ever since they had entered the wetlands it had been difficult not to long to journey further and see more of the world. It was irritating that some of them, including herself, weren’t allowed to go help the Car’a’carn and protect him on his travels, especially since the Maidens carried his honor. Shahed wanted to be fighting his enemies and learning more about different wetlanders and their battle skills. But she knew there was nothing one young Maiden could do but wait for orders from above.

 

The wind stirred the dust before her causing majestic eddies that spun, hesitated, and then dissipated as though they feared appearing at this place for what they may witness. Perhaps that poor treekiller woman in the city is correct, perhaps the wind does carry ghosts. The Aiel girl smiled as she thought fancifully and then rolled her eyes at her childishness, though her smile never faded. She ran a tanned, long–fingered hand through her red-gold hair to push back her bangs, but alas they fell forward again as they always did. Shahed supposed she was childish in that she had a wild imagination, but couldn’t really bring herself to care; and soon fell back into the world of invisible spirit spies swirling through the air.

 

Shahed’s daydreams ceased the moment she caught sight of a clan chief approaching, though she didn’t make a fuss about it and glanced up passively, then shot a discreet gaze at the other nearby tents and pathways before turning to the girl on guard with her offering a comment in hand-talk about the length of time they would be watching, and then about the location of the nearest sweat tent. The other agreed to take her there in the evening, which pleased Shahed, since she preferred to have someone she knew to talk to while she cleansed off. The two continued to bond silently, it was when the first prisoner to be questioned arrived that they ceased.

 

It was not an out-of-ordinary sight really, a stony-faced Aiel warrior with a wetlander swung over his shoulder, naked from the waist down with welt-marks across her backside, nearing the tent. The warrior seemed quite outraged to Shahed, though she had to read his whole manner to understand it and the woman could not possibly be feeling much better. The Far Dareis Mai tried to get a glimpse of the woman’s face as she was carried into the tent, since she was obviously some trouble and it might be important to know who she is.

 

After turning once to flash a remark about foolish wetlander women, the Far Dareis Mai settled back to her vigil.

 

 

Shahed

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Nephuria could tell it was going to be a bad day, she had woken up this morning to find that one of her necklaces was broken. Apparently, in her haste to take off the adornments last night she had broken the clasp. She looked the piece over noticing the fine gold chain supporting a small ruby set in a gold fastener. Sighing, she decided to take the necklace to be fixed, and on her way to another Wise One she knew, one who could work the Power on metals, she noticed Cor with a wetlander woman on his back. It was unusual for Nephuria not to speak to someone she knew, and she had reason to speak to this one in particular. She smiled and stopped her approach as the woman began kicking and fighting like a cat in a sack, and as the cat had no hope in a bag, the woman was lost to Cor's impressive muscle. Nephuria's smile brightened a little as she saw Cor remove the woman's clothes and thoroughly spank her pale bottom. Her cries were weak and high, like those of most women in these lands. Welanders were a dishonorable, weak people, they would never be able to make it as Aiel. She decided against speaking and tucked her necklace into her pouch as she saw where Cor was headed. She was closer to the tent than he, and made it inside with enough time to get herself welcomed and comfortable. She wasn't comfortable long. It appeared Cor had interfered with the business being done today, the questions that he had no right to halt or claim first rights on. This was Wise Ones business.

 

She stood with the Wise Ones, the Head Wise One among them, in a tent used to question prisoners, and knew now who the woman screaming had been. She knew it was to be a bad day. Cor entered the tent with the wetlander woman infront of him. She was brought before the small group of Wise Ones, each woman took her time in looking before the Head Wise One spoke. Nephuria's face was stone, revealing nothing of the contempt she held for one who once upheld the law, and now chose to break it. No, nothing of her feelings showed, not even the slow bubbling anger she seemed to be gathering.

 

“What is your name?” Covina asked, sounding every bit the Wise One she was.

 

The wetlander licked her lips and cast her eyes fearfully to Cor. She spoke to the ground, had she been Aiel, Nephuria would have thought her grievously shamed, but wetlanders had no shame, or honor. She spoke quietly “Alianna Karalev.

 

“You’re not a Treekiller… a Cairhienin as you call them.  What were you doing in Cairhien?”

 

“I am… was a thief catcher…”

 

“Was?” Ghaul interrupted from the center of his men.  The Wise One's collectively glared at Ghaul, he needed a sitting down, nd he glared back.  The Wetlander sat ignored, Nephuria glanced at her to make sure she did not flee like vermin before the light.

 

“Continue.”

 

“I was following a man, a would-be assassin and kidnapper from Caemlyn.  When I got to Cairhien I noticed the Aiel… your camp… er… city… umm…Well, I met Cor who agreed to help me find him.  Eventually we did, and that’s when…” Alianna Karalev stared at the ground.

“When and how did you join the rebel group?”

 

“I… umm… Well I…”

 

“Continue with you story.” Covina sounded impatient, Nephuria felt the anger coming to a slow boil.

 

“Cor and I chased the man over the rooftops in Cairhien.  Eventually he came to a dead end… or sorts… or however dead endish you can get on a rooftops.” Corvina impatiently motioned for her to stop babbling and continue.  “He turned to attack Cor and Cor was about to kill him.  I umm… I… er…” Her eyes became moist with unshed tears.  “I uh… I hit Cor over the head with my quarterstaff and ran off with the man.”  Nephuria's outrage was impressive, if her face had shown what she felt the woman would turn and run no matter how many spears stood the opposite ground. She was weak, and wanted to cry, but for what? For the decision she made and the actions she committed. Nephuria felt no empathy for this woman, this wetlander.

 

Moments passed before Ghaul and Covina asked simultaneously “Why?”

 

“I… I don’t know.” She began crying! “If I could go back, I would have just let Cor kill him.  But…  But he was just going to kill the man, without him ever having a chance to defend himself.  I…  That’s… How…  That’s not how I see justice.” she stammered out.

“And is that when you joined the rebels?”

“The man told me off the Theives Guild who were working against the Aiel occupation…as they called it.  But because I wasn’t a thief, I wasn’t allowed in the Guild and so they sent me to the Sons of Cairhien as protection and thanks for helping one of theirs.”

 

“How much do you know about the Sons of Cairhien.”

 

“Not much.  They tried to prevent this sort of thing from happening… us being tortured for information.  But our gathering was headed by Lady Dulcei who was captured with me.  We always met at different places and we weren’t allowed to carry weapons to the new locations, we were always armed there to avoid detection.  That’s all I know.”

“Why did you join the Sons of Cairhien?  You could have refused their protection and left the city at any time.”

“That would require me to go through the Aiel camp.  I wasn’t about to risk that.” she said almost humouredly“I felt I needed their protection to avoid capture and immediate death from an Aiel patrol for aiding a fugitive and attacking an Aiel.”

 

Nephuria turned to the others and let her face reveal little, but enough to let it be known she was in no good humor, the look was shared among them. They all spoke until Nephuria would not hold her tounge another moment.

 

"I do not know why we waste time here," she said in a voice that would scare a lion, "she is a wetlander and worse, she forsook everything she claims to stand for to run the streets as a tough, I say give her to the Maidens and let us be done."

 

"We are here to see justice done Nephuria, not punish them for being dishonorable and weak people, the Car'a'carn seeks justice for them as well as ourselves, you know this. We can not say we seek justice if we do not give it. What of her now though? We cannot simply let her go, she has learned some, if not much. Perhaps enough to bring harm where it is not wanted. " Covina looked thoughful as she concidered what might be done.

 

Deliese, a woman Nephuria had known since her first years of being a Wise One, looked angry, a mirror of Nephuria's feelings, her father too had been a Stone Dog and the two women got along well. As she opened her mouth to speak the wetlander suddenly spoke, quickly and out of control, like someone drowning and looking for any way out.

 

 

“I’m sorry.  I beg for the chance to correct my actions, whatever the cost.”  Her voice was strong, clear of any sobs for the first time in what seemed a good while.

 

 

Ghaul was the first to react to her sudden outburst. "Just like an Aiel, all that's missing is for her to ask to be taken Gai'Shain"

 

Nephuria's eyes were ablaze but her voice was calm. "She cannot ask to be taken Gai'shain Ghual, she is not Aiel. We are not Shaido. We do not take wetlanders for our pets, we have no servants."

 

"Nephuria is correct," Deliese was crisp, meaning she was ready to bite something, she was better at controling herself than most. "You are not Aiel. Ghaul, she does not know what she asks for. She has no concept of ji'e'toh and will not understand the reason she must wear the white, or what it means. It will do her no good."

 

Nephuria's eyes were fire. The Head Wise One spoke, and she would listen. She did not look to see if Diliese was half as rigid as she knew she herself must be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At the mention of the word gai’shain Cor’s head whipped around toward Ghaul, and the heat in his eyes should have set the tent ablaze. Cor was stunned. And when the Wise One, Nephuria, said the word again, his body grew tense. This CAN NOT BE! he thought furiously. How can they even be considering such a thing? A wetlander turncloak had no notion of ji’e’toh, had no understanding of what it meant to put on the white.

 

But then the words they had spoken dulled his anger. The clan chief had been joking, and Nephuria agreed that it was impossible. He breathed deeply to calm down and bite his tongue.

 

The thief catcher, he wouldn’t even think her name inside his head any longer after her betrayal, didn’t remain silent, though. She must have sensed the power behind the word gai’shain even though she couldn’t possibly understand the full meaning.

 

She threw herself at the feet of Covina before anyone could stop her. Lying prone on the floor, her body wracked by loud sobs, her face soaked with free flowing tears, her bare backside red and puffy as an infant left too long in the sun, she completely ignored Deliese’s words.

 

She begged, no she pleaded, in a voice filled with emotion yet eerily calm, for something she couldn’t possibly understand.

 

“Pl-please! I beg you! I know I’m not an Aiel, but I will learn! I can learn! What I did was wrong, I see that now! Please! Let me make it right!”

 

Cor was not calm.

 

Before he could think to calm himself, he stepped forward and spoke.

 

“This. Can. Not. Be.” He bit off each word, his voice dripping with tightly held fury, his hand chopping the air like a spear point. Hard eyes swiveled to pierce him with Wise Ones’ gazes that were sharper than a knife blade, but he barely flinched.

 

“She has no honor. I should have killed her instead of taking her captive. I…”

 

His rant was cut off by Covina raising her hand. The head Wise One had little tolerance for fools, and now that he was gritting his teeth tighter than a gara, he knew it had been very foolish indeed to speak out of turn. Still, he stood tall and unashamed in the face of Covina’s wrathful glare. He had spoken the truth, and he wouldn’t cower from the consequences.

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Even after all these years her pale hair falling in waves to her shoulders came as a shock. She ducked out of her tent and set off to meet the other Wise Ones. Covina knew her duty to her people and was proud of how far she had come; but at night and sometimes in the dream she still pined for her days as a Far Dareis Mai.

 

When she arrived at the tent Covina shooed the Gai’Shain that attempted to prepare the tea, the simple act was soothing and it gave her excuse to simply observe. Too many of the younger women had been hot headed since they had been in Cairhien. Now more than ever was a time for caution and level heads.

 

Still the very thought of the Treekillers contorted her face into a scowl. Appropriate since the next man that graced their tent was none other than Ghaul. That man was the bane of Covina’s existence. The best of men were barely more than house broken and Ghaul was no exception. Several years had passed and she had still been unable to forget that one night.

 

Covina met his eyes her face still contorted in a scowl, she was intent on finally giving him a tongue lashing that would burn his ears for a week when Cor entered the tent, pushing a half clothed wetlander before him. The hard young man looked chiseled from stone, and more than one of the younger Wise One’s looked at him quite approvingly. Covina was well past due to make a bridal…perhaps she would arrange to see him in the sweat tent. Those thoughts were for another time, she was about to speak up to stop the younger women’s muttering when Ghaul handled that for her. Yet again the man over stepped his bounds and this time she would not let it pass.

 

She rounded on Ghaul and again her plans were foiled. "Well" - the clan chief began - "There are still quite a few of captives left, so we can start anytime you wish, Wise Ones. Or if you want, we can wait for Cor to return the thief catcher, I am certain he won't take long."

Covina stared at him with death in her eyes; her stare carried promises of a berating yet to come.

 

Cor arrived shoving the woman before him, and she landed hard on her knee’s. It was hard for Covina not to sneer, the woman was obviously weak but still her story had to be heard. Any information that would better help her understand these wetlanders was welcome. With a look she quieted the tent, and faced the girl, her stare unblinking.

 

“What is your name?” Covina asked, her tone barely concealing her contempt. Moments passed before the girl spoke and Covina arched a brow at the look that passed between Cor and this Alianna Karalev.

 

“I am…was a theifcatcher..”

 

“Was?” Ghaul chimed in; it took every ounce of her self control to keep from going for the man’s throat. Covina’s eyes were daggers by the time they broke from Ghaul’s and returned to Alianna Karalev. “Continue”

 

The story seemed simple enough; though Covina could not understand why this woman would impede justice. Wetlanders had strange ideas of honor.

“ Why did you join the Sons of Cairhien? You could have refused their protection and left the city at any time!” Only one so obviously weak would turn coat at run to the enemy. Clearly this woman had no sense of honor and thought only of her own self gain.

 

Then the girl spoke. “ I am sorry. I beg for the chance to correct my actions, whatever the cost!”  Covina did not think the young woman understood the weight of her words.  Contempt was the first emotion in her mind, but beyond that the girl's words had tweaked a thought she knew all too well. It repeated in her head on an endless cycle day after day.

 

"With the Car’a’carn will come change."

 

Covina knew the prophecies but seeing the world change before her eyes was still a shock.

 

Ghaul was the first to react but not the only to voice their opinion, by right the final decision would be hers but she waited, listening and observing.

"She cannot ask to be taken Gai'shain Ghual, she is not Aiel. We are not Shaido. We do not take wetlanders for our pets, we have no servants." Her voice was calm but Covina saw the fire in Nephuria's eyes.

 

It was past time to take matters into her own hands. These women were too hot headed by half.

 

“ Stand Alianna Karalev.” Covina’s voice was smooth as silk and her eyes were placid. “Do you understand what it is you ask?” The young woman nodded in response “So far your actions have shown you to be weak and without honor, and yet you beg for the chance to repair it”

Covina turned to Cor her eyes still containing no heat. “Cor, how do you speak for this woman being made Gai’Shain?” The other Wise Ones came as close to glaring as they would allow themselves while in Covina’s presence. She could feel their stare’s trying to bore holes in her back.

 

“The woman is a traitor and without out honor, why should she be taken Gai’Shain? I say no!” His voice sounded hard and was tainted with anger. He would not even distain himself to look the woman still in a half crouch at his feet.

 

She looked from Cor to Nephuria, both were prickly as a new Maiden about honor. Covina was not so old that her days as Far Dareis Mai had faded from her memory, but she did have the advantage of a few more years. Time helped to sooth old wounds and with age came a more level head.

 

“It is lucky for you Alianna Karalev that I will be deciding your fate”

 

Covina had not risen to her position of power by being meek or mild and today was to be no exception. Many would say she was going soft and others would speak of a lack of honor but her decision had been made and she would stand beside it whatever the cost. She crossed the three short steps to Alianna in a matter of seconds and with quick hands ripped the girls’ shirt from her chest and flung it aside.

 

Alianna stood completely bare her face turning crimson as she tried to cover herself. A loud slap rang out as Covina slapped the girls’ hand away and gripped her face between her strong fingers.

 

“ Alianna Karalev you asked a chance to rebuild your honor, and I will see it done. You are to serve a year and a day as Gai’Shain to Cor, in that time you will serve as the rest, meek and utterly willing to obey. You can touch no weapon even in defense and commit no violence.” In the tent there was silence, only the sound of Alianna’s heavy breathing could be heard. Covina had done what, what many would say should not have been done; But the choice had been hers.

 

The Car’a’carn had brought great change, and would continue to do so. A son of a Maiden raised by these wetlanders, the Car’a’carn was as hard as stone and as unshakable as a mountain, surely he could not be the only Wetlander with honor.

Covina turned to the Wise One’s and Ghaul. Her stare was level and unblinking ”This girl has asked for a chance to rebuild her honor, and I have allowed it. Say what you will now, I will not hear complaints later,” Covina was only a first among equals, and any were allowed to speak their mind even to a Wise One or Clan Chief, but all that were hear now knew she would bode no nonsense.

 

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Nephuria's blood threatened to boil. Covina spoke and her word was as good as set in stone now. The woman would be gai'shain, but Nephuria would not stand by without letting her displeasure be known. The Head Wise One was first among equals, not a Queen like these weak wetlanders let rule them blindly and without thought of there own.

 

She would not rant and she would not speak out of turn, her training had been long and hard and any emotion that ran away with her would have been a dishonor to her teachers. She waited in angry silence while Covina spoke. Nephuria shared a long moment of heated eye contact with Cor, her feelings mirrored in his bright eyes. They shared a moment of pure unbelievable anger through that moment's look.

 

Nephuria stood with her hands casually by her side, her back straight and head erect as she peered down her nose at the wetlander woman still half naked before them. She knew the looks she could give, and even a member of her own Clan would have reason to run had she been looking at them in this way. She could feel her anger trying to blaze through reason and thought, to sear her mind with it's flames and unleash itself upon the woman on the ground. Mentally she bottled her anger and sat it on a shelf. Devoid of feeling it gave her voice a grave quality.

 

"If she is to be made gai'shain then so be it, but to me, this woman is dat'sang." Nephuria's eyes lost all heat and she peered above the womans head at the other Aiel in the tent. She no longer saw the woman before her, to Nephuria, the woman was like a large pile of poo in the middle of the floor that gave of a putrid scent of fear and dirtiness. She would not recognize this woman again, not untill she had proven herself worthy of the honor to be made gai'shain.

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Cor’s eyes blazed with an anger hotter than the midday sun in the Threefold Land. When his eyes met hers, he saw the same righteous fury in the Wise One Nephuria’s gaze, as well.

 

How could the head Wise One make such a decision?!? The wetlander had no right to claim the honor of gai’shain, much less know what it meant! She had hinted that the thief catcher could learn the Aiel way, but why should the Aiel allow it?

 

His anger bubbled like a putrid, volcanic sulfur pool, and he was afraid something ugly would burst from the depths at any moment.

 

He turned to leave the tent as Nephuria’s words hit him. Dat’sang. He couldn’t disagree, but it wasn’t his place to say anything more. In fact, he had said too much already. Let the clan chief deal with them, he thought as he stalked out of the tent like a lion looking for a fight. In the back of his mind, he heard the thief catcher gai’shain follow him outside, naked as the day she was born. He would deal with that soon enough, but he didn’t look forward to it.

 

He headed straight toward his tent, his fury held tightly within him but clearly visible to any Aiel who saw his clenched jaws and piercing gaze. He wanted to smash something. On top of the whole mess with the Treekillers, this was added turmoil that he didn’t need. He needed to keep a calm head on his shoulders, and at the moment it was anything but.

 

As he approached his and the other Stone Dogs’ tents, he quickly spotted Ghil sitting in front of the tent they shared playing the pipes. It was a sad, mournful tune that was oddly fitting for Cor’s mindset. Relaxing nearby was Lev. He looked more like a blacksmith than a warrior, but he was a strong pillar that Cor often leaned on when things got rough. Unexpected, but a welcomed surprise, was the presence of Jairc. His long-time friend, and the leader of the Night Spears, the little man was incredibly deadly and was nearly invisible when he wished to be. It was good to see him.

 

Without wasting time with formalities, Cor got right to the point. “I see you all, but we have problems.”

 

Their eyes all fixed on the nude woman behind him, the question in their gazes was identical.

 

“She’s only one problem,” Cor continued without a pause. “And not the one I need help with. Some of the Rogue Guild Treekillers escaped.”

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Sullynn's entrance to the tent went unnoticed. She had no intention to conceal her arrival, but when she noticed the heated atmosphere within the closed space, she decided to stand aside and wait for the opportune moment to make her presence known. At first she felt indifference concerning the argument everyone seemed so engulfed with, until she realized what the argument was about. A wetlander made gai'shain. An absurd idea. Or so Sullynn would have labeled it if proposed before. Before everything changed. Before the outragous and unthinkable, became a day to day occurrence.

 

Wetlanders had no honor nor they understood the meaning of it. How can one achieve what he doesn't understand or see? she didn't know. But robbing someone from the opportunity seemed in itself dishonorable. A never ending dilemma.

 

Pursing her lips, Sullynn watched Cor as he stormed out of the tent, unaware of her penetrating eyes. She suspected that man has mastered the art of chewing nails and was well on his way to breaking some sort of record. "Too young", she murmured. When the wetlander ran after him, though, Sullynn couldn't help but smile. It was one thing to approve such an abnormality, but to be bound to it, like Cor was to the woman, made him seem more ridiculous then the actual notion of a treekiller becoming a gai'shain.

 

Holding back a laugh, Sullynn stepped forward, feeling the need to break the deadly silence between the remaining people in the tent. Especially Covina's. There was no mistaking it. The way she looked at Ghaul. Sullynn wouldn't be surprised to find that he bedded her. Sometimes poor choices came back to hunt you. Especially when it came to women. There were certain things that women could never forget nor forgive.

 

"So we're allowing wentlander gai'shain now. What an interesting notion. Next thing you know we'll be admitting them to our ranks as well." Sullynn stood next to Ghaul and shared a smile, before shifting her eyes to Covina. "With the Car’a’carn will come change. This is true. Change. Not Insanity. Yet at the same time, I'm intrigued at your little experiment. Only, I think you should have had her as your gai'shain. It's called taking responsibility for your actions. You might have heard of it."

 

 

 

Sullynn

Thunder Walker SL

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Guest Estel

"Just like an Aiel, all that's missing is for her to asked to be taken gai'shain."

 

"She cannot ask to be taken gai'shain Ghaul, she is not Aiel. We are not Shaido. We do not take wetlanders for our pets, we have no servants."

 

"Nephuria is correct.  You are not Aiel. Ghaul, she does not know what she asks for. She has no concept of ji'e'toh and will not understand the reason she must wear the white, or what it means. It will do her no good."

 

The conversation went on above Alianna’s head.  Gai’shain?  What on earth was a gai’shain?  And what did they mean by “taken”?  ‘Oh Light, certainly not that!  They aren’t barbarians, no matter what the wives’ tales say.  Though if it was Cor...  No!  Surely they don’t mean that.!’

 

The thiefcatcher may have been oblivious to the full implications of the heated discussion, but she wasn’t inattentive.  She now knew that the tall man who had helped question her was named Ghaul and appeared to be the leader of the warriors while woman who had helped question her led the faction of unarmed women filling the tent with their “high and mighty” sniffs and glares.  Nephuria wan one of the unarmed women who appeared to hate her for no other reason than that she was a “Wetlander”, which was apparently the Aiel word for non-Aiel, while “Treekillers” referred to the Cairhienin in particular.

 

More importantly than the little bits of Aiel culture she picked up, though, was the fact that whatever being “taken gai’shain” was, it would help her reconcile herself to Cor.  Light, she would do anything just to make him stop glaring at her like that or else avoiding her gaze altogether.  Blast him, couldn’t he see she was sorry?  ‘Damned stubborn man!’

 

“Pl-please! I beg you! I know I’m not an Aiel, but I will learn! I can learn! What I did was wrong, I see that now! Please! Let me make it right!”

 

“This. Can. Not. Be.”  Cor’s fury and hatred nearly sent her back into a fit of tears, but she couldn’t afford that now, these Aiel disdained such shows of weakness.  “She has no honour. I should have killed her instead of taking her captive. I…  The woman is a traitor and without honour, why should she be taken gai’shain? I say no!”

 

Alianna despaired at ever being able to earn Cor’s forgiveness.  She wanted to scream out, lash out, somehow communicate to him that she wasn’t a traitor, that she could prove that she did have honour.  Her throat was too dry from nerves, though, and she could not form the words.  Instead, she went back to fearing for her very life.  If these Aiel decided “taking her gai’shain” was a bad idea, how long would she survive after that?  Luckily, the leader of the women stood and took her side.

 

She had almost forgotten that she was half-naked until the woman ripped the remainders of her clothing away.  Suddenly embarrassed as if she hadn’t been standing without her pants in front of the entire group for the last fifteen or so minutes, Ali tried to cover herself.  Her efforts earned only a slap and so she instead stood dejectedly, flushed crimson.

 

“Alianna Karalev you asked a chance to rebuild your honor, and I will see it done. You are to serve a year and a day as gai’shain to Cor, in that time you will serve as the rest, meek and utterly willing to obey. You can touch no weapon even in defense and commit no violence.”

 

She soaked in the conditions of her gai’shain...-hood like a sponge in a bucket.  No weapons- she could deal with that; even in her defence?  ‘Better hope it doesn’t come to that.’  A year and a day- if that’s what it took she was willing.  Meek and utterly willing to obey- that would take some work, but she’d manage it.

 

Resisting the urge to throw herself at the woman’s feet in relief, Alianna glanced at Cor, who was speechless in rage.  Hurt by another rejection and more anger, she turned her eyes back towards the ground.  “Thank you.”

 

"If she is to be made gai'shain then so be it, but to me, this woman is da’tsang."

 

She didn’t understand what da’tsang meant either, but just the sound of it was unpleasant.  The woman who had used the word almost as a curse radiated menace and Ali hoped she wouldn’t have to cross her too often, or at all if she could help it.  It would be just her luck, though, if the woman was Cor’s sister or the like.  All the Aiel looked the same to her, minus Cor, so for all she knew they were all related.

 

Cor stalked out of the tent and for a moment the Kandori woman simply stood dumbstruck, unsure of what to do.  The woman who had come to her rescue motioned with her head to follow him and Alianna did so, making her best attempt at being as meek as a lamb.

 

‘Meek and obedient.  Ghaul equals leader of warriors.  Nephuria hates me.  Treekillers are Cairhienin.  Wetlanders are non-Aiel.  Da’tsang is bad.  I am gai’shain.  I am gai’shain to Cor... whatever that means.  Warriors and unarmed women in conflict over power.  What in the world is ji’e’toh.  Is Shaido an Aiel curse word?’

 

Ailanna was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn’t realise Cor had stooped until she almost ran into his broad back.

 

“I see you all, but we have problems.”

 

‘“I see you?”  That’s a rather redundant statement.  An Aiel greeting perhaps?’

 

The now-former theifcatcher kept her eyes to the ground but her ear was cocked towards the conversation picking up as many tidbits as possible.

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OOC: I have altered the lyrics to two songs for this post. If you would care to listen to the tunes they are based on, here is a link to each. The first is “Amazing Grace” and the second is the original version of “The Rose,” by Conway Twitty. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to sing along in your head. Heh. http://youtube.com/watch?v=RADYSJGRQf0   http://youtube.com/watch?v=SBhe4KwhdS0

 

 

Before Cor could respond to the surprised looks on the trio’s faces, a young Stone Dog came running up, and with a hurried, “I see you, Cor,” he announced, “It is time. They are waiting on you.”

 

Looking up at the sky, Cor noticed a subtle lightening of the eastern horizon. With everything that had happened, he hadn’t realized so much time had passed. With a look, he gathered his spear brothers and followed the messenger, Ghil making some final adjustments on his bagpipes as they walked. He had a big role in the upcoming event.

 

Hesitating briefly he spoke to the still-naked thief catcher, almost forgotten with the announcement. “Find some appropriate clothing. White robes. Ask anyone you see who is wearing them, and they should help you quickly. I will find you later in the tent with the other captives. Until then, your time is your own. Search your heart. I wonder if you have enough honor to fulfill your oath to serve. Or will you dishonor yourself further and run away?”

 

Turning without a backwards glance, Cor focused on the task at hand. He also had an important part to play.

 

Before long they reached the appointed spot, a ridge facing east. He had come here many times since the Aiel had crossed the Dragonwall to follow the Car’a’carn. Too many times, he thought to himself. There were already a large number of Aiel warriors and Wise Ones gathered, and at his and Ghil’s arrival, the crowd parted and let them through to the front. Lev and Jairc melted into the multitude.

 

Cor knew from listening to them talk, that most wetlanders thought the Aiel emotionless. The Stone Dog couldn’t understand that at all. He knew for a fact that most wetlander men thought it weak to cry! However, he knew the Aiel way to be the proper way, reserving emotion for when it was proper and then opening yourself to it fully. Aiel men only sang on two occasions once they reached adulthood: battle songs, and hymns of mourning. He had heard Ogier say that the mourning songs could make stones weep with their haunting beauty.

 

Now was the time.

 

When Cor reached the appointed spot and Ghil joined the few other pipers, an oldster nodded to Ghil who sounded out the first mournful notes of “When We All Wake” on his pipes.

 

As the eastern sky warmed to a hint of pink, Cor opened the burial ceremony. He sang out strong and pure to the sound of the pipes. The first verse he sang alone with the haunting sounds of the bagppipes, then the gathered Aiel joined in.

 

When we all wake, how sweet the sight

To wake up from the dream!

I once was dead, but now have life,

Was blind, but now I see.

 

‘Twas death that taught my heart to fear,

And death my fears relieved;

I will soon shed this pain, these tears,

I know that I but dream!

 

Yes, when this flesh shall lose this fight,

And this Pattern’s thread will end;

I shall pass through the fearful night,

And my life will begin.

 

When we all wake, how sweet the sight

To wake up from the dream!

I once was dead, but now have life,

Was blind, but now I see.

 

The sun’s first ray of light pierced the darkness and reached for the eastern facing ridge, where the Aiel, fallen in the night’s raid, were buried, standing to greet the dawn as was proper. Into the silence, Ghil alone played the next song. Cor lifted up his voice to the heavens, to praise the Light for the fallen, who, alone of all those present, had finally waken from the dream. His strong, pure baritone rang out and created the only river the Threefold Land had ever seen: the tears of its people mourning their fallen.

 

Some say life, it is a question, an answer you must seek.

Some say life it is all anguish and leaves your soul to bleed.

Some say life, it is a hunger, an endless aching need.

I say life, it is illusion. And you, you only dream.

 

It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance.

It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance.

It’s the one who won’t be taken who cannot seem to give.

And the soul afraid of waking, that never learns to live.

 

When the night has been too lonely and the run has been too long,

And you think that living is for the lucky and the strong.

Just remember in the waking, the fearful night is gone.

Thus ends the Dream, but with the sun’s love you can now welcome the dawn.

 

Only when he had finished the song, and the gathered assembly began to go their separate ways did he recall the thief catcher and the problems that would cause. The tears streaming down his face took his mind off of the wetlanders for the time being, though.

 

She is wearing white, and there is nothing I can do about it, he thought grimly. Putting the troubling wetlanders from his mind in favor of more important matters, he was going to go back to the Stone Dogs’ tents and get drunk enough to kiss a gara and not a hair drunker!

 

With Ghil walking alongside him in a similar mood, he thought that the Stone Dogs would throw a proper wake for the departed.

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His life had been upside down ever since he first crossed the dragonwall with his brethren of the Stone Dogs. They had all known the stories of course, and now, with the Car’a’carn declaring himself their leader, what choice did they have? None. Lev was fine with it. He’d go where his brothers went. That was the way of the Aiel. That was the way of the Shae’en M’taal. That was what Lev told himself when he saw the wetlander woman exit the tent. Gai’shan. How could a wetlander be made gai’shan? He would have spoken to Cor about it, had his Society Leader not seemed as moody as a gara with a thorn in his foot about it. Maybe later.

 

First there were other things to attend to, such as the mourning. Again, they had been the spear of the chief of all chiefs. Again they had been used accordingly. Again, Lev felt the pain of loss in his heart as he sang, along with the doubt he felt. He was Aiel. He would follow the path of the Aiel, even if he felt that the path was straying from what he felt was the path. Taking wetlanders gai’shan, not burning out the threekillers and taking the fifth. The chief of chiefs would change much, so it was said. Lev didn’t have to like it though.

 

He was still brooding as they returned to the encampment, his mood only worsening at the thought of the wetlanders that had been taken captive. Treekillers and oathbreakers, the lot of them. Whoever said that they could demand to be treated like Aiel had obviously spent too much quality time with oosquai. They had no honor. They had never had any honor. The Aiel would have been better of treating them with the same lack of honor as they had shown. He walked up to Cor and offered his friend a bag of oosquai, keeping one to himself. He might share it later, if he felt like it.  Perhaps he could find Adeline later on. She could make fun of him and threaten him with maiden’s kiss, and all would be well again. “So. What of the oathbreakers? Will we go into the city to reclaim them?”

 

~Lev Costin

Stone Dog.

 

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