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Guest Estel

Some Skewed Family Values

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Guest Estel

The booming of explosions, to whose rhythm grunts of exertion seemed syncopated, created a complex percussion section with ever-changing time signatures.  Only a musical genius, every professional musician has a healthy level of narcissism, could create a plausible beat between the aforementioned bass percussion and the clacking of practice swords.  Above all this, Abrem hummed a theme while his foot kept the beat, switching between duple meter and complex meter every few measures. Changing the minor melody to an octotonic scale and thereby obscuring the tonic completely, the piece became so transient and ungrounded that it seemed “slippery” in timbre.


‘As slippery as our mind, I suppose’


~That is the image I’m attempting to convey.  Fascinating, isn’t it?~


‘Depends on your definition of “fascinating”’


Abrem ignored his alter-ego’s sarcasm.  He was far too caught up in this composition to pay any attention to the less-than-musical monster, whose mad thoughts he was forced to listen to day in and day out.


~Hmm...  Definitely melody in the harp, perhaps a horn as well?  Odd combination, but this is our conjoined, mad mind we’re talking about eh?~


‘You make me feel so secure in my sanity’


The sarcasm went by ignored, again.  Isha was beginning to learn not to even bother trying to communicate with Abrem when the man was on a composing spree.  It was frightening, though, when he suddenly found himself scrawling down a seemingly foreign language on the curtains of his office.


~Oh!  Horn must follow some non-existent step-progression.  Beginning with statement Dummm duhdadadaduhDA!  Followed by a slough of modified sequences...  Light help that poor horn player!  Ah well, virtuosity must be flaunted~


Despite the fact that words like “octotonic”, “syncopated” and “duple meter” were way above Isha’s very unmusical head, he buried himself in the rants of the madman that had taken up residence in his rather troubled mind.  Truth was he was avoiding what was coming up in just a matter of time in the very place he stood.  Against Abrem’s better judgement, Isha was testing Linten for his promotion to Asha’man.  Isha’s skewed paternal bias desperately ignored the musician’s truths and the flagrant evidence set before his remaining eye.  Hell, half the Black Tower was against his “son’s” very existence, let alone turning him loose to do what he pleased with both pins on his collar.


In some remaining sane scrap of mind, the Shienaran recognized that the Linten he had met and taken under his wing as a Soldier was not the Linten who had returned from the Blight some while back.  However, years of guilt compiled with a subconscious need to be the father for Linten that Isha, never really had himself.  Unknown to Isha, parenting issues seemed to be hereditary and if one were to take Isha and Linten’s relationship as the giant thought of it, Linten had just tortured his great-grandmother.  Luckily, for all members involved, with the exception of the very disturbed great-grandmother, this link was completely unknown, though likely suspected by several other Aes Sedai.


Despite an outwardly unremarkable presence, Linten’s appearance on the training yard seemed to be preceded by a forbidding sense of foreshadowing which seemed to be noticed by more than just the giant who struggled to keep his wrecked face unperturbed.  Was it his anxious, over-active mind or did the entire yard seem to glance in their direction and edge away?  If they were, even over-protective fatherly Isha couldn’t blame them; first time he and Linten had worked with offensive weaves after the boy’s return, things had gotten a little... less training and more killing.


~This would be a really convenient time to “accidentally” off him.  Do the world a favour~


‘Whatever else happens, he’s still my son.  The only one I’ll ever have’


~Then shouldn’t it be your responsibility to put down the rabid dog~


‘It’s my responsibility to guide the pup’


~He passed that point long ago~


‘NO!  I will NOT hurt him!  He can’t be past redemption.  I won’t betray him again’






“Are you ready, boy?”


At the cue of the barest of nods, Isha immediately seized saidin, struggling to hide a fit of dizziness.  Launching off a pair of Fireballs, whose intensity was so dim that they would do no more than leave painful burns, the Shienaran readied flows of air to cut his mentee’s weaves.  However, the struggle visible to the yard was secondary to the fight for control between Isha and the persona of Abrem.

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Brushing unseen lint from his shoulder Linten once more inspected the wavered reflection in the mirror on his small desk. Good quality glass and mirrors were costly and being confined to the yard had limited extremely his ability to make additional coin to afford such luxuries. But all the was about to change. Idly a finger raised to stroke the silver sword pin at his throat. The indicator of his rank as Dedicated, and the only color against the unrelieved black that adorned him. It seemed almost and Age ago that Isha had presented them to him, pinned them to his collar with an almost unperceived hesitance. Once their meeting today was over the M'Hael puppet would have to willingly do the same with the coveted golden dragon, his finger stroked the ruff black wool wear the pin would go. He had imagined that moment for so long now, almost believed they might indeed find a way to keep him stuck in the rank of Dedicated and restricted to the yard under eye.


His eyes cut to the small warded wooden box on the corner of the desk. It contained scraps of paper and writings that had begun build a case for his raising. He was not about to let the new puppet or his one time father figure keep him from the work required of him in the word under the Dragon's name. His fingers toyed with the silver pin again as thoughts drifted back to the beginning of his time here. A time when he truly believed that Isha was like a second father to him, the only true and comforting friend he had made in this strange and bewildering place. It seemed almost a wishful dream now. The friendship they had begun to build, the belief in what the Shienaran spoke of and had stood for. But Rion, it was Rion who had shattered his quiet little family like the darkness that had taken his real one. Rion was at the center of it all. It was Rion that had turned and tainted the one man Linten had been able to believe in against him. Pain lanced the tip of his finger and he pulled it back with a vile mutter, a ruby red drop blooming slowly from where the sword pin tip had pierced the skin.


So much blood in his life lie in the hands of that falsely timid pretender. Anger surged anew, powerful in it's lustful calling of vengeance. Rion had turned his world around that night at the Inn. The night that resulted in Isha's abandonment to the blight and the nightmare that became his existence as both the need for survival and the thirst for revenge lay waste to pity and sorrow. Such weak and useless emotions, the prior mated to produce the offspring that now held Linten's existence. The twisted dark creatures of the Blight and the hunting rabid witches had failed to stop him back then. He knew so much more now, had focused and driven himself in secret, they would fail again in there next meeting. Only this time he would not be the one running, the one begging for his pitiful existence. Even this tainted place he begrudgingly called home still would find new life and favor in the world under the Dragon Reborn's guidance and Linten's instruction.


Satisfied that his outward appearance was nothing more then that of a dedicated member of the Black Tower in service under the worm now at it's helm, Linten slipped out the door and began his quiet walk to the afore agreed on location. Mentally he prepared himself, reviewed key weaves he liked briefly and then focused on some others that were not as readily comfortable to him. Word surely had spread of his imminent testing as a strangled hush seemed to follow his passage and the buzz that returned in his wake was far from it's original conversation. He drew on the Void like a cloak as he neared, its calmness offering him the awareness of subtle changes now noted around him. The openness of the main yard offered little change as men from all walks seem to edge slightly away from the yard, working to create a distance without looking like they were trying to create that distance. Turning at some distance still, he faced his mentor and one time father figure, and nodded his accent.


The movement had barely begun when the light of Saidin bloomed up around Isha and two weak fireballs blazed hastily toward him. Diving to the side, Linten seized Saidin in roll as he bound back to his feet, a short wall of earth pulled up between them afforded him the opportunity to change position once more. Still moving he pulled fire from the pulsing orb and wove it with a mix of air toward the space over the last location he had seen Isha. If the weave would have completed it would have produced a small rain of fire seeds. But the weaves cut still forming. Isha had been prepared, deep down he knew it would not be that easy. He only hoped he would not end up in corner forced to irreversibly harm his one time old friend. But he was determined to pass this test and gain his freedom, friend or not. As the last of his weaves were still being sliced apart Linten dove to the far end of the wall he had created earlier and wove cords of air wrapped in spirit. The weave was quick, a weaving he had grown a liking too and etched it to his bones in memory. The weave was set around the bottom corner of the short wall and low, arcing up to grab the edge of the building wall near his mentor. Moving as if pulling a rope with strain, several small blocks of rock slipped free of there mortar embrace and cascaded toward the ground.





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Forced to forego the massive cane he used to help walk and keep as much weight off his legs as possible, Isha internalised a wince as he stumbled to the side; it was not wise to stay in one place too long during a duel and this was especially true considering the opponent.  The big man loved that damn boy and could ignore most of Linten’s darkness but only a fool would trust him – he would not be a fool whatever his feelings or duty.


~Your duty to the Black Tower and the good of every sane person here is to kill that animal!~


‘This is my fight, not yours!  Hell, this is my Light-forsaken head; get out of it!’


~You’re in my head fool!~


‘Am not!’


~Don’t be childish.~


‘Would you just shutup?  You’re going to get us killed!’


~Kill him before he kills us!~


With that, Abrem tried to wrest control of saidin from Isha.  Distracted, he cut Linten’s weaves as they came at him; if Abrem got hold of the Power, Light help Linten.  After a few intense moments, the madman abdicated and let the Shienaran continue their physical fight.  The boy was fiddling with a wall he’d erected of Earth.  The barricade was a good line of defence but Isha hoped not the only one.  Bits of the fortification tumbled down towards him, easily blocked by shields of Air.


Keeping the shields and splitting his flows, the Shienaran used his own puny strength with Earth and added a little Fire.  Rocks near the bottom of the wall combusted assaulted by massive amounts of heat.  Shrapnel and bits of the wall crashed into Isha’s shields of Air as he stumbled around to Linten’s side of the considerably shorter wall, throwing Fireballs as he rounded the makeshift structure.

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The wall was a basic defense. It helped hide the visual view of the person from his assailant, but it hid the assailant from the person as well. Linten could sense the change in flow of Saidin that surrounded his hidden mentor on the other side of the earthen barrier. He used that sense to follow the movements as Isha began to move around toward the end of the wall. Glancing over the top he saw the debris slip around his target as they met the air shield Isha held. The opening moves of both had been sad at best had this been a real fight.


~It is a rel fight you fool~


Linten ignored the voice's grumble from the depths of his mind. There was time to argue, now was not that time. His eyes widened briefly before he threw himself to the ground. Parts of the earthen wall exploded in heated debris as Isha's weave touched the simple defense. Swearing under his breath Linten rolled to his side and pushed back up to a crouch as Isha rounded the wall, more fireballs cascading from him. The weave sprang up without thought, the fireballs cascading off the invisible thickened wall of air surrounding him. He could feel the heat from the first few until he had fully set the shield. This is foolish, there has to be a better way to beat him. Linten pivoted, pulling more Saidin from the pulsing orb over his shoulder. Warping the air weave around him he pressed it into the earth below him and jumped as it set. The resulting pulse of air lifted him in a high arch over the wall.


Landing on his feet, Linten released the shield to pull threads of fire and air from Saidin's well. Weaving the air he collected several stones from the field at a distance behind where Isha would reemerge and then set the fire to a weave he had used before. Holding the weave read, Linten pressed into the wall tight and watched as the edge of his mentor began to come into view. Come father, the dance is far from done. A fireball seared the edge of the wall in front of him; heat descending on him in a wave. Trying to set his timing, Linten pulled on the air thread to draw the stones quickly toward his mentors exposed back then set the fire thread to the ground off to his side but in the travel of his path. It had worked in the past to sink his mentor into a soft pit of mud.


Without waiting to view the results of his labors, Linten dove from his cover and rolled behind the wall of an out building. Drawing a knife from his boot he raced toward the back corner of the building.



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As his boots made squishing noises as the mud around him thickened, the seed of panic that had been present since the duel’s beginning flared.  Suddenly, Isha remembered Linten nearly burying him alive with a similar trick, only months ago.  He remembered flashing back to his torture by Aginor and freezing, unable to kill Linten but unable to save himself – sure he was about to be killed by the boy he called his son.


~Are you going to let him do this again?~


‘Obviously not.’


~So you’re going to kill him?~


‘Hardly, I know what he’s up to so I’m not going to panic.’


~How many times will he try to kill us before you decide to kill him?  How many more do you think we can survive?~


‘He is NOT trying to kill me.’


~You’re going to get us killed.~


Weaves of Fire and Air dried the squelching ground around him, drawing the moisture out so quickly that it cracked as if a patch of the Aiel Waste had escaped to the middle of Andor – mind you, last he had heard, there were still black-eyes in Caemlyn.  His sense of hearing enhanced by the Power, Isha heard the ground crack under him.  By the same token, he sensed Linten’s presence by the amount of saidin held by his mentee.


A few warning Fireballs flew towards the building, careful of causing damage.  It would be simple just to pull the building down on Linten, but Brent would have what was left of the giant’s head for it.  Instead, Isha used his minimal strength in Earth to cause a small Earthquake to disrupt any attempts to channel from his opponent, rather than charge him outright.  Let the boy come to him instead.


OOC: short, but I figure we can start trying to kill each other now ;)

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As Linten neared the far corner and began to prepare the next set of weaves to unleash on Isha, the ground under him began to tremble pitching him onto his side and knocking the wind from him. The sudden gasping need for air scattered his mind momentarily and the weaves slipped apart like oiled ropes. He barely maintained his grasp on the source; feeling it surge and ebb as he fought to maintain control of the rushing river.


~Do something already!!! Do you want to die?~


He pushed the sensation, the voice, the what ever it was back into his mind and answered only with a grim tilted smile that revealed nothing of his teeth. There were still many ways a man could wish for death. Pushing back to his feet Linten's hand closed on the hilt hovering over his head and slowly drew out the blade. His control and focus returning to him in the same flowing motion under the cadence of the soft scrape of metal on metal. His first day's in the yard returned as a distant foggy memory. The ease in which Isha had flattened him with the practice swords, practically splitting his head open, bubbled up again. Well, a lot had changed since then. Isha had taught him well, the giant still had the years of experience on his side. But Linten had the benefit of movement, speed of step and light of foot. Something that had been robbed from Isha.


Coiling like a spring Linten readied himself. He did not need to beat Isha at the dance of death with steel, he needed only to occupy his focus long enough for the next trick. Drawing in thick threads of Fire, Air and Spirit, Linten prepared another set of small weaves. He had to remember not to throw his full weight and skill into all his work until the moment was right. Part of this dance was to keep your opponent from guessing your full potential until it was too late. He had studied his mentor for a while now knowing this day would come. He had spent many days practicing in seclusion and intermixed with other students. All without Isha present to try and bring his control and abilities to a level he hoped would be higher then what his mentor would expect. Surprise was his only true weapon and hope. But once they pinned the golden dragon on him he would hide no more.


As the ground settled Linten launched himself from around the corner. With the sword held tip down and pressed along his side blinded from Isha's view, Linten raced toward the giant. His opposite hand pointing out the path of his weaves. Fire seeds unraveled over Isha, the heat he wove under the rocks at Isha's feet cooled as that weave was also cut. Each distraction brought him closer to the target. A thin weaving of  Air moved out like a fist, while he worked another weave of Fire to form darts jetting swiftly from his fingers tips. The source tried to surge into him with it's full force but he held it at bay. A little more time was all he needed. Springing a step to soon, Linten took the opportunity to lunge at his mentor; naked steel arcing in a crescent moon motion between them. The tip would still be too short in reach to purchase blood. But it was the reaction Linten sought.


OOC:  Sorry for the delay, but I'm ready now to get through this. :)



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~ You’re getting stupid, boy. ~


Isha didn’t bother to respond; truth be told, he wasn’t sure whether the thought was his own or Abrem’s.  His palm stung and bled.  He hadn’t drawn his sword since the fight began, considering his constricted movement made him barely half the swordsman he had been before, and Linten’s steel had been a surprise; he had been distracted, cutting the boy’s half-hearted attacks – stupid.  Reaction: yanking his blade as far out of its sheath as possible to parry the boy’s blow on the crossguard; to accomplish such, he had been forced to grab the blade with his bare hand while his other held tight to the other side of the crossguard, pushing Linten’s steel away from his body. 


As the boy tried to force the blade, caught between hilt and crossguard, back towards Isha’s body, the giant shuffled one painful step back, taking his left hand from the crossgaurd and attempted a left hook.  The blow hit as, simultaneously, Linten managed to force his sword close enough to Isha’s body to score a deep gash along his mentor’s ribcage.  The resulting pain and a new move by Abrem to steal control of saidin caused the Void to collapse.  He regained physical balance but his mental stability faltered, fell, and watched as Abrem pulled all they could manage of the One Power and threw a massive wall of fire between the two men in a real attempt to incinerate the boy.


~ My turn! ~


‘You son of a bi...’


The persona of Isha felt himself pushed away – squelched, even.  He battered against the intangible hands of Abrem, trying to win back control of the One Power and his own body but could not.  Light help Linten now.



Abrem dropped the useless piece of steel – foolish men who played at being soldiers when they were secondary only to the Creator in power.  Steel was obsolete against a blade created solely of saidin: the mind moved so much quicker than hands.  Light forsake them all, bodies and existence itself was obsolete when one could control another’s mind, kill them, heal them, Aginor had gone so far as to create a new breed; physical movement became extraneous.


Fire rained from all sides and every eye in the practice yard was trained upon them, hesitant to intervene.


ooc: sorry, unfortunate allergic reaction to flowers at work left me miserable and void of muse

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The hook caught Linten low on the jaw and snapped his head back with the force, temporarily disengaging the combatants. His vision narrowed as he shook his head to clear his thoughts and vision. He had not expected something so simple from his mentor. Something so simple and yet so effective. He would have to study that later when he had time as it was there was little in battle. Spinning back to face Isha, Linten readied the sword for another jab as the weave he had held in reserve was beginning to form later then what he had wanted. It was only from the grace of Saidin that he recognized the giant weave of fire as it formed and threw himself back. He felt the heat wash over him, felt the exposed skin of his hands as they dropped the sword to shield his face heat to mild burns. Had he not been looking at his mentor he would most likely been incinerated where he stood.


~The man is trying to kill you!!!!  Do something~


Without thought, numb still from the shock, he fell back to the safety of training and rehearsed weaves. Spirit bound and wrapped heavily around the weaves of water and fire that sunk into the ground on the other side of the fire where the immense draw of Saidin was. The pit of mud would hopefully by him sometime to set his escape. Linten drew in Saidin to near bursting levels. His bones ached with the amount of power rushing through him as he set to cutting through the weaves of fire that continued to rain down on him. He would not die like this, so close to power and control, he would not let Isha destroy him. Rolling away he pulled all he could through his talent in earth and pulled it up into a wall as long as his strength would allow and then released Saidin altogether as he ran in the opposite direction. If his timing was right and luck was on his side he could get away from Isha enough to set the next trap. The wall would keep him from view and the lack of hold on Saidin should blind him to the Linten's location. Stepping off he triggered the weave he had set with the wall and the ground behind him exploded.


Now he just had to hope Isha took that bait and focused his wrath on that location and the possibility that the boy had been hurt. Linten just needed a little time, just a little that's all he asked for.


~A little time before we die you mean. You can't defend us without Saidin~


Help me or shut up, I have no time for this and Saidin is close at hand I assure you.



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The boy erected a barricade, a temporary defence that would do him little good except prolong his now inevitable end.  Abrem pulled deeper on saidin, frowning as he realised this new body wasn’t as strong with Earth and Water as he had been.  Now was not the time to reminisce about his disconcerting time and body jump to this new, primitive Age.  Where once he had been able to call lightning from the sky like the Creator himself, one massive strike would have to do.  In the split second before he released the weave, the wall exploded seemingly of its own accord.  Too late to recall the bolt, Abrem hurriedly wove a barrier of Air between himself and what had briefly been a wall, expecting some form of booby trap.


Nothing happened.


Maintaining the protecting, he prepared a Shield to cut the boy off from the Source and approached cautiously.  Perhaps he had gotten lucky?  More likely the boy was lying in wait with a new barrage of attacks.  Sinking into the mud, Abrem laughed.  “I’m not as stupid as your mentor, fool.”  Fire and Air dried and area around him fast enough that the sludge could do little but cling to his boots.


ooc: Blast me!

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Linten's ears rang from the noise of the explosion, a burning heat smell suffused the area. Neither touched the man or swayed his focus. Wrapped in the void they were mere shadows sliding across the glassy surface of focus. There was only one chance left and he had to be quick. He did not know what had happened to his mentor; why the man now seemed bent on his total annihilation. It was a puzzle to work on when this was over, light help him, if he survived.


He knew the weave. Had been practicing it's form it seemed almost as much as he had breathed air since it was introduced to him. He had plans and uses already set out for it, but Isha had not been one of them; well .... not yet. But it was something he would need for his desires to come to fruition. Isha had taught him the weave but once, it was all that was needed. A weave to separate another from Saidin or Saidar. The later was what he dreamed of, shielding the Red Aes Sedai and ....


~Bloody focus!!! We are going to die!~


Rising up from a fragmented wall behind Isha. Linten's right hand thrust to the sky as he mentally grab at Saidin. The torrent river of icy fire and sickly decay that was Saidin crashed over him filling the invisible conduit and threatened to burst it. Pain bloomed in his head at the sudden connection; the near overwhelming crush of Saidin as he seized the river and forced all he could take within himself. At near the same time his left had flung out toward Isha's head as if throwing and invisible net. He knew the weave well and his practice and need for survival commingled to draw it's form complete. The weave seemed to snap into form rather then be visibly woven as his weaving normally did. His strength in Spirit, the greatest of his favorings and his very life in the balance he attributed to the success of the weave as the blunted wedge of Spirit slammed into the conduit to Isha. It looked like it would fail at first, shuddering at the blow but it's pause was only the length of a heartbeat before it found it's way home.


Even as it fit into place, Linten had no time to find pleasure in the moment. With haste he tied the weave off before forcing Saidin from him; pushing with all his focus as the river of icy fire tried to scour his bones to the maro. He felt like something in his mind was about to burst. Then slowly the pain subsided and he collapsed to his knee's; Saidin once more a blazing sun over his shoulder. His hands where grasping his head as he knelt on the ground, vision slowly beginning to sharpen once more. A dark blur slowly taking the shape of a fractured rock.


OOC: Perhaps Isha can call the trial done now :)

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The Shield slammed against his connection to saidin simultaneous with another attack from the persona of Isha; fending off attack from two sides, Abrem lost to both and retreated to the back of their mind as Linten’s Shield locked into place and Isha stumbled back into control of his own body.  The shock of everything happening at once, especially the Void’s collapse, causes the big man to topple as surges of nausea and pain threatened to steal his consciousness as well.  After spending a minute fighting back the urge to vomit and clutching his ruined legs, he slowly stopped panting and struggled to his feet.


The whole training yard was staring at the two men, one barely managing to stand while the second still lay on the ground a few feet away.  At first, Isha worried the Shield might have caused one of his weaves to unravel, killing the boy, but after a moment the boy stirred.  As the Asha’man limped towards him, Linten eyed him warily; it was an expression Isha had never seen directed at him, though the boy was liberal enough with it towards every other authority figure.  Noticing the sun glinting of his discarded swords a foot away, the man practically collapsed to his knees attempting to pick it up – it would have been easier to use the Power, but his mentee had tied of the Shield.  This action only increased the caution betrayed by Linten.


“It seems you’ve beaten me.”  Isha said, offering his hand to help the boy up.  “No doubt Brent will award your pin tomorrow.”  Briefly, stupidly, the Shienaran considered apologising for nearly killing him but thought better of it.

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