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The Lonely Road [ATTN Dorrin]


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Forge reclined comfortably with his back against the giant sycamore. The sound of the creek gurgling happily just behind him was soothing, and the fire crackling merrily before him added to the effect. As did the savory scent of the rabbits he had roasting over it, and the beautiful symphony of color the sun was painting across the sky as it bid the day good bye.


Unlike most Ogier, Forge didn’t remain hidden away from the human world, safe and secluded in the stedding. However, the world of men was often troublesome, and sometimes he had to take action to deal with it. Hence, his presence tonight in a peaceful copse of trees safely tucked away from even the rare travelers on this seldom used stretch of road. Sometimes it was necessary to get away for a bit.


It wasn’t a stedding, but the relaxing clime was the next best thing, and if he closed his eyes and tried real hard, he could almost forget the two axes were still there, as well.


They were another a part of the necessary arrangements that the 12-foot-tall Ogier had made with the world of men. Sometimes you couldn’t get away, and you had to up axes and clear the fields.


The Shadow lay heavy across the Pattern, and the world of men faced even darker days ahead. Forge had felt the call to aid man’s quest to throw off the Shadow’s heavy yoke, like the Ogier of old, but he still hated the Light-blinded axes.


He didn’t need to open his eyes to picture them perfectly. Of themselves, they were masterpieces of art as much as they were exquisitely crafted weapons. Each was a twin of the other, 7-feet of unparalleled skill and beauty. Perfectly balanced, each of the battle axes had a head inset with beautifully flowing leafwork that was mounted on a sung wood haft that looked like it had grown into the head rather than been shaped. Each haft had a slight curve to it and widened slightly at the base as if grown to fit perfectly in his hand. Decorated as beautifully as the head, each haft was covered with carvings of vines and leaves.


Additionally, the hafts had been etched with Ogier script, Though the burden is heavy, the work must be done. Have a care, for Death now rides on your shoulder. His fingers had traced that powerful message countless times, and now it was etched in his mind as sure as it was on each of the axe handles.


He had never learned the full story of how his stedding had come to possess two weapons of Aes Sedai-wrought steel and sung wood, weapons so rare as to be all but unheard of, but he was thankful that the Creator had blessed him with them no matter how much he despised what he used them for.


The work had to be done, and so few were left who were willing to bear the load.


Shaking loose the gloomy thoughts, he forced himself to relax. This was the first truly peaceful night he had enjoyed in a while, and he wasn’t going to let tomorrow’s chore ruin tonight’s leisure. In the days to come he would re-enter the world of men, meeting up with Little Bee and his other companions, but tonight he just wanted to enjoy a feeling of peace.

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Dorrin had seen the Ogier leaning against the sycamore and immediately hid himself behind a tree while his heart raced. He did not hide out of fear or curiosity but out of a desire to plan. Dorrin had only seen a Ogier once before and from a distance and that, but he had heard stories about them. But every story he had heard made them seem unable to be evil, devoted to the light. No matter who told him something along those line Dorrin severely doubted the accuracy of their supposed goodness. .


Dorrin did not believe that any creature was entirely good. In fact he was rather sure that most people, creatures, and whatever else was out there tended to be untrustworthy, greedy, and worthy of Dorrin’s contempt. However over the years Dorrin had come up with a method for drawing out poeple’s true personalties without revealing anything about himself.


Dorrin had two personas. The first one, the real one, was cold and suspicious. That one rarely laughed if ever and was no one’s friend. But that persona was rarely shown to the outside world, as Dorrin knew that such a personality could get him killed. The other persona was that of a jester and trickster. The jester trusted everyone and was talkative, happy, and believed in the spirit of altruism. Essentially the jester was everything that the real Dorrin wasn’t.


It was the jester persona that he adopted as he sneaked over to the Ogier. With a big grin on his face that even he could barely tell was fake he chuckled as he loudly asked, “what’s an Ogier doing here?” and waited for an answer with no sign of impatience. But even as his eyes twinkled with mirth his hand remained on his sword and his eyes carefully measured he distance between the Ogier and his axes.


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Forge didn’t open his eyes to the chuckling nor the loud question. He had no idea how long he had been watched, nor was he concerned. Since he had left the stedding, human eyes were drawn to him like iron shavings to a lodestone.


He had heard the rustling in the nearby undergrowth over the last several minutes as whoever it was had come closer. An animal wouldn’t have approached the fire, a large group of people would have made much more noise, and he had no reason to fear anyone that he knew of. All his enemies up to now were helping the grass grow. So he was completely relaxed, as the stranger broke the silence. It was probably a hunter from one of the outlying farms, but time would tell if he had the right of it.


Responding to the man with a chuckle of his own, the deep, rich rumbling like a bull relishing a good back scratching, the Ogier lazily opened his eyes just long enough to see the stranger carried a sword and to take a look at the rabbit before he closed them again.


So, not a hunter then. And the rabbits are almost ready.


Smiling slightly as he maintained his relaxed posture, Forge answered softly with a bass voice that sounded like a bumblebee as big as a pony.


“Stranger, it is late to be away from home. If you’re friendly, feel free to share the fire, and the rabbit if you’re hungry. But if you’re not friendly, I think you’d best be on your way. I’d hate to spoil this fine day and my supper by having to hurt somebody.”


Pausing briefly, Forge considered his next words a moment before growing a broad grin of his own. With a thoughtful look into the stranger’s eyes, he responded with unreserved humor in his tone.


“As for what I’m doing here, I thought it was obvious. I’m relaxing a bit before supper, and then hopefully a good night’s sleep. And I could ask the same of you.”

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Dorrin smirked as he sat down to warm himself by the fire. However as he sat he made sure to keep his sword near his hand in case the Ogier was just luring Dorrin into a false sense of security.


Dorrin supposed that the Ogier's explanation of what he was doing was plausible enough, but no so much that Dorrin ceased to be suspicious. Still in his jester persona he answered the question, "Well let me see, I too wish to relax and eat before I sleep. Of course I am also hiding from the numerous people who want be dead, including but not limited to, a pack of bandits, half the tavern owners in Andor, a trolloc or two, and I think that covers it more or less."


The sad thing was the accuracy of what he said. He tended to start trouble in the taverns he went to, and he had run across a few trollocs who had not quite managed to kill him. As for the bandits, Dorrin pursued his lips as he thought of his experience with them. They were the reason he was a suspicious as he was and one day he planned to kill every last one of them. His hand briefly turned into a fist as he thought about the villagers they massacred, and how the survivors blamed him of all things.


"So" he said for a second revealing his true cold voice before hastily reverting to the one he had been using originally, "why are you here? Why aren't you in a stedding or with anyone else?"

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Forge noted the uneasiness of his new acquaintance, and it bothered him. This was the reason he had needed to get away for a bit. These humans just simply couldn’t relax. Trouble followed them as sure as their shadows. This stranger’s words sounded jovial, but his eyes never smiled and his hand never strayed far from his sword hilt. And he spoke of Trollocs. Most folks in these parts thought Trollocs were nothing more than fanciful creatures in a gleeman’s tale.


On top of all that, he asked a lot of questions. Like a hummingbird buzzing around his ears.


“I hope you left your troubles behind you, stranger. Like I said earlier, I’d hate to ruin such a fine evening.”


Leaning forward, he rose to one knee to check on the cooking rabbits. They’re ready. Excellent. He pulled them from over the fire, propped his skewer against a rock, then deftly slid one off the oak branch he had been using as a skewer at the cost of one mildly scorched finger, and began his first serving of supper. It smelled delicious!


Licking the grease off his burned finger, he waited for the rabbit to cool enough to dig into and gave his fireside companion a thorough looking over.


“You ask a lot of questions for someone who I’d think would be wanting to keep a low profile, stranger,” Forge said in a relaxed bass rumble. “With so much trouble behind you, I’d think you’d be cautious about finding more. And prying into other folks’ affairs is a good way to bring the mountain down on your head.”


Smiling to take any sting out of his words, the giant Ogier continued. “Fortunately, I am not easily offended. I am here to do as I said, relax and enjoy an evening of peace. There are no stedding nearby, so visiting one is out of the question tonight. As for anyone else being around, it seems no matter how hard I try to avoid you, you humans are everywhere.” The cheerful grin that formed nearly split the Ogier’s face in two. “Besides, you are someone else, are you not?”


His warm, booming laughter sounded like thunder promising a welcome summer rain.


“My business is my own, until I see fit to share it,” he continued. “As is yours. But I’ve invited you to share my fire and my food, and you are welcome. Now if you want to learn about me, perhaps you should begin by telling me of who you are and why so much trouble has found such a small person.” Chuckling ever so richly at the look on the man’s face, Forge bit into the rabbit, the rich blend of meat and herbs and spices exploded wonderfully on his tongue.


Swallowing his first bite, Forge motioned to the skewer that still held three roasted rabbits. “Come nervous little hummingbird. Have a rabbit and enjoy the now. Tell me what you will, or hold your peace. Either way, hopefully we will enjoy this evening together without you trying to skewer me on that pointy steel you keep fondling at your hip.”

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Dorrin did not answer for a moment. Instead he took some of the rabbit and concentrated on eating though unlike the Ogier he did not wait for it to cool down. He almost welcomed the burning sensation that came with to his fingers as it gave him something to concentrate on besides the Ogier’s words. He did not want to open up to anyone at all, but perhaps if he did he could find something out about the Ogier. And while he did not admit it, even Dorrin liked to say what was truly on his mind. Just once he was going to tell someone the complete truth without worrying about the consequences, though if there were consequences he was more than ready to deal with them.


“Most people” he began no longer bothering to disguise his voice. Now it was cold and ruthless without any of the jester persona he had previously exhibited. “Most people go their whole lives thinking the world is inhabited by people that are good.  Everyone who robs them, or cheats them is just a bad exception to the general goodness that most people possess. But I don’t kid myself, people are not good. Everyone lies, cheats, steals, and whatever else they have the guts to get away with. I can see when it is happening better than most, but people don’t like it when I expose them for who they really are. This tends to get them angry at me.


He paused for a second to let the Ogier sink what he was saying in before continuing. He wanted someone to understand how he thought even if it repulsed the Ogier. “I have a theory, the reason that most people don’t go to the Dark One is not because they’re good and he’s evil. The reason is that they just don’t want to admit that they want into his club. They’ve been raised to think it wrong, so they pretend to. But the fact is that morality is just a pleasant myth created to keep some semblance of order. Since I know this I don’t trust anyone, human or Ogier.” Silently he took another piece of rabbit.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Forge waited patiently for the stranger to finish speaking, slowly savoring the taste of the rabbit as he reclined against the tree and listened to the odd perspective of his companion. When the man had finished, the Ogier responded, his voice pitched low so as not to disrupt the serenity of the evening setting.


“Firstly, I suspect you’ve never met an Ogier before, much less have ever dealt with any, or you would have a different notion of my kind. But that is of little concern for now, and I will set it aside because it’s of no consequence for this discussion, I think.


“As for everyone lying, cheating, and stealing, I know several Aiel who would cut off your eyelids if they heard you say that about them, only to help you see more clearly how they live, of course,” he added with a rich, low chuckle. “Aiel have their flaws, I’m sure, but lying, cheating, and stealing aren’t among them… except perhaps among the Shaido, but I’ve met few of them to know for certain. Have you ever met an Aiel? I digress.


“I think your philosophy is sad, close-minded, and masochistic. Do you truly gain pleasure from torturing yourself with such twisted notions, as you did with the hot food moments ago? If that is the case, how others behave will never matter. They are irrelevant because your actions seek gratification in your own suffering regardless of what others do.


“In reality, there is always choice, my strange and nervous little hummingbird, and certainly there are many who choose the paths you have mentioned. The Shadow lies dark across the Pattern, and many pursue the seductive lures you mentioned. But there are also those who choose to do the right thing, who do not take advantage of their fellow man just because they are capable. Your view blames them for being weak, and mayhap some of them are, but so what? And what of those who choose because they feel there is a better way? What of those who think there is a right that opposes the wrongs you mention? But for a moment, let’s just for argument’s sake say you are correct in your assumptions.”


Leaning forward suddenly, the giant Ogier’s voice took a hard edge, like an axe hovering over an unprotected throat, though it never rose in volume. “If morality is a myth, what is stopping me from killing you now? I could, you know.” The stranger started back before steeling himself, but he couldn’t keep his eyes from growing wide even as he met the Ogier’s gaze. Reclining against the tree again, after a moment Forge continued on as if nothing unusual had happened.


“According to you, people only refrain from evil because they fear repercussions. There would be no repercussions here for me. No one would know except me, and of course you, for however long I let you live. I imagine no one would care if you never arrived anywhere ever again. So what stays my hand? It certainly isn’t fear.”


Retrieving another rabbit, he waited. And ate. The rabbit was tasty.

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