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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
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Three's Company, Five's a Crowd (Aridhol 1)

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Midnight found The Yards the site of a phantom concerto as crickets played their mournful tunes to whoever happened to be awake at that hour. The clack-clack of a late training session provided the percussion, teacher and student moving from one form to the next in different degrees of expertise and grace. A bull frog called to his mate from his hiding place beneath a bridge crossing a carefully landscaped pond and the wind whistled across the reeds on the far end. In the barracks, trainees dreamed fitfully as their minds danced to the music of the summer night. On the walls, a masked woman found solace in the starry sky, lost in deep thought, and a man lay awake in bed feeding dark desires into the Flame and Void. Every ear that the music touched was caught in silent reverie, all except for two sets. Two sets heard a completely different tune.

 

"I will not be treated like a child who was raised only this morning, Commander," Sheena said flatly from her seat in front of Alin's solid oak desk. The room was well-lit, though there was no disguising the late hour. She hadn't slept much in the days since she'd begun planning this expedition and the note signed by Sariene informing her that a Tower Guard had been assigned to travel with her was the icing on an exhausting cake. Despite her weariness and frustration, the Blue held her temper in check for once as she regarded the Master at Arms levelly. "Again, your concern and that of the Hall are both appreciated, but I have worn the shawl for longer than you have breathed air. I will not be needing an escort on this trip, nor do I have the time or energy to babysit some runt with his mother's kitchen knife."

 

"I am afraid it is not my decision to make, Sheena Sedai." He spoke the honorary with an emphasis that could have meant anything or nothing at all. Sheena ignored it, her mind intent on resolving this issue before her scheduled departure the following morning at dawn. "I have my orders and I intend to follow them. For the last time, there's nothing to be done." Her lips thinned, the only indication her annoyance was quickly turning into frustrated anger. The hold on her temper slipped, only slightly but enough to heat her cheeks. "If you wish to take it up with the Hall, that's your business. I do suggest you refrain from waking them at this hour." Sheena opened her mouth to speak, but he spoke over her. "With all do respect, Aes Sedai, there is nothing left to discuss. If you will excuse me, I am going to be." He stood and motioned towards the doors, his face carved from the hardest of stones.

 

Sheena sat motionless, her eyes icy and her face white and devoid of signs of the flaring temper inside. "Your orders are ridiculous and I will not be inconvenienced by them. You may choose whomever you like to carry out this preposterous act of protection, but do not think I will forget this insult to my character." She cut off her words with all the spite she felt, her indignity flushing her cheeks. Sheena stood from her seat, not sparing the wool-headed buffoon of a man who served as the Master at Arms another look.

 

The concert was cutoff abruptly at the sound of a door slamming followed by muttered curses as Sheena made her was back to the Tower in a fury. She stormed past the few men and women awake at that hour, servants in their livery and Aes Sedai or Tower initiates running some late night errand. The few glances directed at her back were those of people long accustomed to her stormy personality. She ignored those, too, as she headed to her rooms in the Blue Quarters. When she finally lay in bed, she stared at the ceiling until the gray of predawn crept in. She hadn't slept a wink.

 

"Light, please tell me Alin gave the assignment to a mute," she croaked before getting out of bed. "This is going to be a long trip."

 

A sea of dried grass and parched shrubs extended for miles to either end of the River Erinin as Ella's Rose made its way south. The mid-summer sun beat down on its crew and passengers with the fervor of high noon and doing nothing to help with the seasickness that still plagued a few of those unaccustomed to traveling on water. An occasional breeze stirred, doing little more than rustling a loose-fitting shirt. One of the sailors shouted suddenly, bringing Sheena back from her rumination and to the scorching reality of her surroundings.

 

Serena stood beside her, the hood of her pastel-colored cloak pulled up over her head to provide some protection from the sun. While the heat didn't touch either of them, they were both subject to sunburns like anyone else and Sheena's talents in Healing were little better than those her friend. Feeling Sheena's eyes on her, Serena looked over and smiled warmly but said nothing. The two had been friends on one level or another when Sheena was raised only shortly after Serena herself and Sheena was glad to have the woman's company. She smiled back and turned her attention to unscrewing the lid off of her waterskin before taking a drink.

 

Serena's warder stood close by watching everywhere and everything that moved and Rosheen sat opposite of them leaning against a barrel sharpening a knife. Thera was a dutiful woman so far as Sheena had seen, though the two had not spoken much. The way Sheena saw it, a Warder's place was with her bondmate and not conversing with other Aes Sedai. For many years now, she had had only limited interactions with Warders and Thera was no exception. There was more to her aloofness, she was sure, but that was a line of thought Sheena did not wish to go down. Rosheen, on the other hand, did not belong in their party anymore than the red-faced street rat Alin had chosen to serve as her protector, not in Sheena's mind. From the young woman's own aloofness, she was very much aware of how Sheena felt.

 

Sheena had made it obvious to the Tower Guards that they were unwelcome and if they had been offended by her unapologetic stance, they did well to hide it thus far. The White Tower was still within sight when Sheena had put them in their place, telling them exactly what was expected of them. The boy, Aran, was below deck and it was just as well. He had a glint in his eye that Sheena had seen in any number of annoying Novices who found it difficult to shed the airs instilled in their noble roots. If anyone would be trouble, it was him; Rosheen was just another annoyance. She had been allowed to travel with them on the understanding that she had business in Whitebridge. What she would do once they reached that point was none of their concern.

 

In the moments after the first shouts announcing their imminent arrival in Aringill, the ship had burst to life as the crew prepared the ship. Sheena said a silent prayer of thanks as she made her way to the room she shared with Serena to fetch her things, grateful that she had only emptied her stomach the first night they were on water. She could remember days when her stomach rumbled at the very sight of water. To think that she was able to make it all the way to Aringill without any major incident was a good sign. She wasn't sure she could bear the humiliation of clutching the deck railings day and night. What she was sure of, though, was that she was anxious to be standing on dry land and the sooner the better.

 

OOC: A bit long, but it got us pretty far. We're finally underway! Post away ladies and gents!

 

Edit: James here, was on west board but meant to be south the way the map is currently drawn. Sorry Cale, would've told ya but ya'd already raced off :)

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Thera’s red curls were swept back from her face as a warm breeze blew across the deck. It did little to cool her, though today the heat barely caught her notice. Thera was in her place, as she should be, a few paces behind her Aes Sedai. While there was little to fear on the deck of a ship, her brown eyes still searched the banks of the River Erinin as they swept past. But while her eyes searched Thera’s mind wandered, She knew little of her Aes Sedai’s plans, though in truth she needn’t know more, where Serena went Thera would follow.

 

The passing months had been tense at best, and the rift that was forming between Serena and Thera seemed to grow larger with every passing day, but both women were too proud to try and bridge the gap. The friendship that had been formed early on seemed to have dwindled, replaced with a cold Aes Sedai to Warder Relationship.

 

Thera was truly the image of the perfect Gaidin though, respectful and dutiful and always willing to share her opinions when asked. But the ones that knew her best saw that her once carefree smiles had faded out of existence and her eyes began to look haggard and tight. Too many nights with out sleep, and a lack on concentration had added a few scars to her once flawless skin. Through all of this there had never been a moment when her thoughts faltered. Her life was Serena’s, now if only the woman would understand that Thera had given her more than just her life.

 

 

Thera averted her attention back to watching Serena as the ship burst to life. They had arrived at Aringill, she watched as Serena went below with Sheena to gather their things. Below deck was one place Thera would not follow, the cabins were small and the space too confined. The tension made her feel as if their cabin was going to collapse in on them.

 

Thera took a spot next to Rosheen, and awaited Serena. In their time on the ship Thera had been more than glad for the company of her old friend. She had spent her evenings on deck with Rosheen, drinking and speaking of their time as Tower Guards together. In hind sight it had seemed a much simpler time, less filled with stress and heartache…for a moment a frown creased Thera’s tanned face as thoughts of Andular crept into her mind. Thera felt Serena approaching and as she looked up her brown eyes met those of her Aes Sedai and for a moment she could almost feel the other women’s concern.

 

Fool! She could not allow her emotions to flow so freely through the bond. Thera assumed the void and her pain faded into it. As she did, the concern fled from Serena’s eyes.

_____________________

Thera Trakelyn bonded heart and soul to Serena Sedai of the Blue Ajah

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Aran yawned as he stretched, his eyes fluttering upon to greet reality. Ceiling. Wall. Bed. Deck. Boat. Travel. Aes Sedai. Aringill. Sheena Sedai. It was the last thought that brought him together, today they were arriving in Aringill and he'd be able to start his bet. He'd had to be good on the trip so far, Rosheen had insisted so he'd been stuck with keeping himself otherwise occupied. In order to do that, he'd generally had to keep clear of everyone beyond keeping eye on them. Which suited Rosheen because that had allowed her to catch up with an old friend of hers, a Warder to Serena Sedai called Thera.

 

Getting out of bed, he slipped his smallclothes then his breeches on. The fun began as of today, and how he was going to enjoy every moment of it. Sheena had proved a right royal pain from the first moment they'd met, it had taken a great deal of self control on his part not to take her down a peg. He'd had to settle for priming Sheena with a couple of misapprehensions.

 

The Master at Arms had instructed Aran and Rosheen for the mission. Aran was to act as Sheena Sedai's personal guard, while Rosheen would act as one for Lavinya Sedai who would meet them in Aringill. Of course, Sheena Sedai hadn't been made aware of Lavinya Sedai because Aran was meant to give her the message. After their initial contact, Aran decided not to tell her about Lavinya Sedai, and furthermore that Rosheen was actually joining them on another task. Technically, he hadn't lied, even saying that she had business in Whitebridge was true, as they'd be passing through there and her business would be protecting them.

 

"Where are you going?"

 

Aran turned about and grinned at the woman as he pulled a shirt over his head. He couldn't remember her name, well, he could if he tried, but they were about to part ways anyway so it didn't seem like the effort was required. "We're coming up to Aringill soon, I get off there. Perhaps we'll meet again sometime, if you come by Tar Valon."

 

The woman chuckled as she wrapped the blankets about herself. "I doubt it, it was fun though."

 

"It was." Pulling his jacket on, he walked over and gave her a quick kiss then hesitated a moment before speaking. "Light be with you Rianna."

 

"You remembered, I'm impressed."

 

Laughing in response, Aran left and made his way to his own cabin. It didn't take long to get his things together and make his way onto the deck. Everyone else seemed to be there, and the boat was just coming into dock.

 

The plank pushed out, they made their way off with their things and it didn't take them long to come across Lavinya Sedai. Her shawl as well as her face gave her away. Grinning over at Rosheen, she had a resigned look on her face. He'd waited so long to begin, he wasn't about to hold back now.

 

"Lavinya Sedai?" Giving a florid bow, Aran grinned at her before turning to Sheena Sedai. "I'm sorry Sheena Sedai, I think it must have slipped my mind when I was being instructed on my place at the beginning of our journey. Lavinya Sedai will be accompanying us, to give a much needed voice of diplomacy."

 

She didn't look happy at all, which just made Aran chuckle as he looked to Rosheen. "I'm feeling pretty good about this." The look he got from her made him laugh outright though everyone else seemed confused. Turning to Lavinya Sedai, Aran spoke since Sheena Sedai was still struggling. "If you would be so kind to lead the way Lavinya Sedai, we would greatly appreciate it."

 

 

Aran

Tower Guard

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With a yawn and a stretch Rosheen rose from her bed, half eager start and half dreading the day that would come. The more she thought about it, the worse it sounded. Why had this seemed like a good idea again. “Try to beat the master at his game.†She muttered at herself as she got dressed and fixed her hair in it’s trademark Mohawk fashion. She eyed herself in the mirror. “Yup, you look just a little less clever every day. If that’s possible.†She shook her head, smiling. This had to happen sooner or later, and though she had postponed it as much as possible, there was no avoiding it now. Not with her poking fun at Aran about how he would never get an Aes Sedai mad enough to lose her temper. Ginae was one thing, but she was a borderlander, and that made her unpredictable and a little crazy. Aes Sedai… were in a different league. They’d all had a hundred years or more to work on their peculiar behaviour. She was just pleased that she’d been able to pick Lavinya Sedai as her ‘victim’. If she wasn’t mistaken, that one had quite a few buttons to push. If not… well… she’d better prepare to go in hiding for a while.

 

With a slight frown on her face she left her cabin, eager to get some fresh air. She sauntered over to a barrel that happened to have her name on it, and sat down. Moments later she felt Sheena’s cool stare sweep over her. Rosheen returned the stare with a blank look on her face. It would be so easy to provoke the Aes Sedai by grinning impishly, but that would make Aran’s job easier. She breathed a little sigh of relief when Sheena focussed her attention elsewhere. A smile curved her lips as Thera sat next to her. They had met years ago, when they had both been freshly promoted Tower Guards. The look on Thera’s face worried her a little though. It seemed like the other woman wasn’t happy. Rosheen was about to make a remark about it when the source of her apparent unhappiness walked onto the deck. Thera frowned, and Rosheen could almost see her embracing the Void. Serena Sedai’s face remained calm, and yet Rosheen was sure she saw something in her eyes. She shrugged and looked the other way. Whatever issues the two had, the bond made sure it was not for Rosheen to intervene.

 

Thera seemed to relax a little when the ship approached the harbour of Aringill. Rosheen placed her hand on Thera’s shoulder and gave it a soft squeeze, before sauntering towards the railing. It would start soon. She smirked as Aran wandered onto the deck as well, looking more than a little rough. Rosheen was quite sure that he would smell exactly as a man would, after spending most of the trip in the arms of some flipskirt. She shook her head. She was used to it by now, but she was quite sure that Sheena Sedai would find the smell… uncomfortable at least. With a mock glare at Aran Rosheen leapt from the railing, landing on the dock with ease. Despite the bet, she was there to make sure none of the Aes Sedai blundered head first into trouble. The dock was empty aside from the people who had a place there, and Rosheen relaxed a little. They would probably run into trouble later on, but not yet. Still, she loosened the heron marked blade she carried in it’s scabbard. There was no point in being careless, and she felt strange enough as it was, without her naginata to carry around. That had been Alin’s suggestion. As if she could ever pull of looking inconspicuous.

 

When they met up with Lavinya Sedai, Aran made sure he got a head start by insulting Sheena Sedai as much as possible. Rosheen glared at him some more before stalking up to Lavinya Sedai. “Well? Move.†She half growled. “Lavinya’s eyes widened just the tiniest bit. “You are acting as if we don’t have business to attend to… Aes Sedai.†With a mock bow she concluded her first attempt at getting Lavinya Sedai riled up. There would be plenty of time to do more, but for now she really wanted to get out of plain sight. Aringill might be friendly towards Aes Sedai, but that was no reason for them to draw unwanted attention to their mission.

 

~ Rosheen

Blademaster

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Serena turned from Sheena after she had smiled at the woman, her friend and Ajah Sister. Her thoughts had been swept away by when the two had first been raised to the Shawl, only months apart. Serena had first been angry with the other woman for her friendship with a rival of Serena's, and a Red Sister. Rayne Sedai had been involved in many a dispute with Serena, and when Serena had her first Mentee Carise Doraile, Rayne stole her away and hid her under the wing of the Red Ajah.

 

The part that made Serena's cheeks flush, was the fact that she had been a hypocrite. Getting angry with with Sheena do'Amoren for her relationship with a Red, when Serena later did the same thing. Secretly, she held onto her friendship with her Mentee. In secret, was the closest they could be for the rift between their two Ajah's. It had made it a bit simpler to communicate once Carise had left for Ebou Dar, the two of them seemed to speak more often in letters than they had since her old Mentee had been raised to the Shawl and still in the Tower.

 

Feeling Thera behind her, and inside her mind, made the Blue Sister slightly sad. She would not wear her emotions on her sleeve, so she refused to speak of them to anyone. Even Thera, which was probably not the best thing for a relationship of any kind. Serena loved Thera, with all of her being, however she could not let the woman know. The Blue had loved a Gaidin before, and when he had died she had never felt worse in her life. The misery, the depression, the constant yearning for death, it was not worth it. However, it was not her own selfish needs that made her not want to show her love for Thera, it was for Thera, she was convinced. Never, would Serena ever wish what she had gone through on somebody else. Especially, the woman she loved. Shaking her head in a fury of emotions, Serena silently yelled at herself before fuzzing the bond. I could never let that happen to her. Just because I want to be with her, and tell her how I feel, does not mean she should suffer for it in the end.

 

Concernedly, Serena glanced over at her beautiful and loyal Gaidin. Catching nothing from Thera, the Aes Sedai turned away quickly and resumed her cool features and watching the river bank.

 

Before long, the ship was docking and the deck was full of the hub-bub of sailors and deckands and passangers scrambling around to get their jobs done and be off the ship. Sheena and Serena made their way down below the deck to retrieve their things and returned in prime fashion. It would be good to be off the ship, even if the tension between so many of their party would most likely remain. Luckily, that Tower Guard Aran had stayed in his rooms with a woman he had most certainly met the first night they had been on board. However, Serena could not belittle him, she had done the same before in her lifetime.

 

As Serena and Sheena seemed to glide off of the ship, Rosheen jumped off the ledge onto the dock, it suddenly occured to Serena that something was amiss. She had thought it strange in the first place, the day they had all met to depart on this adventure, that their were too many of them there. Rosheen apparently had some business in Whitebridge, and Aran was their to protect Sheena. With a slight smirk, Serena wanted to laugh. The last woman in the world that needed protection, was Sheena do'Amoren. The boy, the Tower Guard that the Master at Arms had apprantly thought would suit this excursion, would be trouble. It did not take a genius to figure that out. Why Rosheen had even been allowed to go with them was beyond Serena. Business in an are they would be going through, was not enough reason to accompany Aes Sedai on THIS particular mission.

 

Unfuzzing the bond, the Saldaean Blue felt disconcerted and confused. Thera's feelings had been a range of depressed and sad, then suddenly disappeared. Turning over her shoulder to catch a glimpse of Rosheens hand reaching up and squeezing Thera on the shoulder, made Serena' blood boil. Tilting her head to the side, jealousy and rage being the downfall of most Saldaean women, Serena already had several scenarios going through her mind. Perhaps her Gaidin loved someone else, this mohawked woman could be a grand candidate for that. Just as Thera's emotions had disappeared, Serena thrust herself at fuzzing the bond again, and refused to let her feelings take her over. Practicing the novice excercise of opening the rosebud, and calming oneself, the Blue got hold of herself and turned away.

 

Within no time at all, the group had an unexpected run in with a woman that Serena knew better than most thought. In fact, the two had sworn themselves over to Sirayn Sedai and her secret Order of the Rose. Feeling her cheeks burn, as her eyes studied the form of Lavinya Sedai, the Gray Domani. Serena hoped against hope that none could see her face. The day Serena had met Lavinya Sedai in the dark, firelit rooms of Sirayns Quarters, the Blue Sister had had to direct her thoughts back to her love for Thera. Burn her if this light-forsaken domani-vixen would ruin her chances with Thera. However, it was not Lavinya that was making Serena's eyes wander.

 

In all shock and suprise, gritting her teeth as not to yell at the Tower Guards, Sheena and Serena were informed by the mischievious Aran that they were to have met the Gray all along, it had merely slipped his mind. When Rosheen herded Lavinya like a mule to get moving, Serena turned to Thera and arched a dark eyebrow. Silently, in her thoughts and by the look on her face, she summoned Thera to speak with her that night. She only hoped that her Gaidin understood her un-spoken message.

 

If the Master at Arms had supplied Sheena and herself with a group of immature Tower Guards, guards that would not be there to protect them when they most needed it....Balling her hands into fists, Serena squeezed them so tight her fingernails dug into the palms of her hands. The Sisters WOULD have control back.

 

 

Serena Sedai

Blue Ajah

Bonded in heart,body and soul to Thera Trakelyn

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Lavinya was the picture of Aes Sedai serenity as she waited on the docks for the party to arrive, though inside she broiled with impatience. She had delayed her own business for the task which had been presented to her, the least her companions could do was arrive in a timely manner.

 

The sunlight glinted off her red hair, setting fire to the curls tumbling down her back. Her eyes squinted against the light as she made out the ship in the distance, which should be carrying the rest of the party. At last. Straightening slightly, she smoothed her skirts over her hips, in preparation to greet her sisters. Her gray shawl was looped easily over through her elbows, and the silver of her great serpent ring glinted on her finger. There was no mistaking her identity.

 

The ship docked, and before long Lavinya found herself face to face with whom she presumed was a tower guard, though his bow seemed a little over the top to Lavinya. "Lavinya Sedai?"She nodded, though it was evident she was the only Aes Sedai who had been awaiting the arrival of the ship.

 

"I'm sorry Sheena Sedai, I think it must have slipped my mind when I was being instructed on my place at the beginning of our journey. Lavinya Sedai will be accompanying us, to give a much needed voice of diplomacy." Lavinya could almost smell the mischief emanating from the man. He had neglected to tell of her presence to Sheena Sedai? That could prove a very costly mistake, though Lavinya did not comment on it at present. Let Sheena take the boy to task. The very fact that there were tower guards acompanying them irritated Lavinya, though she let no sign show. She had survived thus far without need of a warder, why would she have need of the protection of a tower guard?

 

“Well? Move.â€Lavinya blinked, taking in the woman before her in a single glance. She spoke to her, in such a manner? Did either of them care to keep their posts with the guard? “You are acting as if we don’t have business to attend to… Aes Sedai.â€Lifting her chin ever so slightly, Lavinya looked straight past Rosheen's shoulder. Without sparing her a second glance, she strode past the rude woman haughtily, stopping before Sheena Sedai. Nodding as a younger sister to an elder, she greeted the woman.

 

"It appears you weren't forwarned of my accompanying you." She drawled wryly, ignoring the guards. "Though I do wish to offer what assistance I can, sister I have been informed of your task, and would happily join you, if you have no objections." Raising a brow in question, she waited for a sign of acceptance, before turning slightly. She nodded to Serena Sedai, hiding just how well she knew the woman, and her allegiance to the same sister as she. It would not do for their order to become public knowledge, least of which for what others may think. The wrath they would endure from Sirayn was enough to give her pause, and instill caution.

 

"Sheena Sedai, Serena Sedai, if you would accompany me, I will show you to my lodgings. We can acquire horses there, and any other supplies you believe we will need." Light, but it grated, bending her neck to any, let alone a woman who was not even of her Ajah. Yet what couldn't be changed could be endured, for a time at least. She was out of the tower, and would hopefully be given the opportunity to flex her skills gained as a sister of the gray, as a negotiator. If not...at least she was out of the tower. Thank the light for small mercies.

 

Leading the way, she glided past the guards, sparing a nod for Serena's gaidin. In her mind a warder was a step up from a tower guard at least. Especially tower guards that had been thrust upon unwilling sisters.

 

The walk to the inn was quick, and soon enough the party was outfitted with the necessities, horses and food, enough to see them through the majority of the journey. Changed into a blue dress of fine wool, divided for riding, Lavinya stood by her own mount, doing her best to ignore the mowhawked woman supposedly assigned to her protection. As if it was not insulting enough to think she needed guarding, giving her a woman to do the job was down right ludicrous! She would not endure the indignity contentedly. If it came to it, she would not hesitate to remind the rough looking woman of her place. Burn her, but this trip had better not prove itself as trying as what she feared it may become.

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While Sheena did a poor job of hiding her initial shock, her face was schooled back to calm confidence so quickly as to leave one wondering if her eyes had widened at all. That the Hall had thought that the slightest possibility of a male channeler in Whitebridge was beyond the abilities of Serena and Sheena alone was rather insulting, but the insolence of the bratty children playing Tower Guards was too much. As Lavinya brushed a boyishly grinning Aran and a very rudely confrontational Rosheen aside and presented herself respectfully to the two unpleasantly surprised Aes Sedai, though, Sheena found herself thanking the Light that the woman was a Gray. She can't be any worse than Aran, she told herself wryly.

 

Refusing to encourage Aran's antics, she responded as if nothing were out of the ordinary. "If the Hall has expressed a desire for you to join us, then join us you shall. You have been briefed, then?" Lavinya nodded in affirmation. "Do you have any objections, Serena? Splendid. I have no objections to your presence either so long as we all remain on the same page." They wasted little time with chit-chat, much to Sheena's relief, and instead made arrangements with the captain to have their things delivered to the inn where Lavinya was staying. She didn't deny herself the petty pleasure she took from Aran's sullenness when she told him to stay with their things, nor did she miss the smirk it earned him from Rosheen. Something was definitely amiss.

 

As they made their way through the docks and into the heart of the city of Aringill, she wove a ward against eavesdropping, effectively cutting Rosheen out of the conversation. "I want you to know that I am indeed surprised to find that the Hall has asked you to join us, Lavinya. Though I am inclined to do so, I will not take the Hall's decision as a personal insult. I wish to deal with this swiftly and return to my own personal business just as much as any of us."

 

She shook her head and sighed. This was the last thign Sheena had expected upon arriving in Aringill. Nonetheless, she tried to sound optimistic as she continued. "I'm afraid Serena and I already have two obstacles to overcome, as I'm sure you learned at the docks. I will not see you as a third obstacle so long as you do not become one. Our Ajahs have worked well enough recently. Surely we can continue to do so?"

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Watching the group pull away from the docks, Aran smiled to himself. Technically he could have ignored her order, his orders were to protect her, superceding any 'request' she might make. But she had done him a wondrous favour, that was, she had left him alone with her possessions. Well, not alone, he wasn't going to be the one carrying it all. Yet there was the opportunity to do just about anything he wanted with her things with no chance of her chancing up him doing so.

 

The dilemma of course was that he wasn't actually sure what he wanted to do. As tempting as it was to throw her things in the river and then say that there must have been a mix up, that was a bit obvious. Besides, it would have been much funnier to throw her things in the river with her watching. To do it without her present wouldn't be all that funny at all.

 

Of course, he could just look and decide then.

 

"Hold up a moment!" Waving the pair of men who were carrying their things, he got them to put them down. Finding the bag with Sheena's belongings didn't take long, and Aran was grinning ear to ear when he saw what was in her bag. Lifting out a book, he opened it up to be disappointed, no words. Either she was planning to write a journal, or she'd warded it, he'd heard of such things before.

 

Hope was to be found in what else she had. A bit of honey, tea, combs, perfume and a bottle of shampoo. Taking the bottle out, he poured a little of it off the pier, then took up the perfume. Pouring the entire lot of the perfume into the bottle, he stoppered the bottle then shook it thoroughly. Then, taking up the honey, he poured a little of that into the perfume bottle. Overkill, but it was more so it wouldn't be as suspiciously light.

 

The pair of men were watching him wondering what was going on. Just as amazing was how much a coin apiece communicated, and bought. Their silence ensured, they made their way to the inn. While he'd been to Aringill a couple of times, the crew were far more familiar with the route to the inn so he simply tagged along.

 

 

Aran

Tower Guard

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Thera cringed slightly when she saw the clouds in Serena’s eyes, she would pay dearly for keeping secrets.True she had known of Lavinya's presence and should have spoke up, but it was not as if Serena had said more than two words to her. For an instant anger flared in the bond then once again Thera turned to stone, the only acknowledgement she gave Serena Sedai was a quick nod before she took her place a pace behind.

 

As Serena eyed Lavinya Sedai, Thera felt a twitch in the bond that was quickly concealed. It took no more than that for Thera to form an instant dislike of the Domani Gray. Leaving the Aes Sedai to their talk she went and stood next to Rosheen, her brown eyes still shooting daggers into the Domani’s back.

 

In short order they were headed off the docks and into the heart of Aringill. Thera was so lost in thought she hardly noticed the ward against eavesdropping one of the sister wove, until she heard a curse muttered from Rosheen. Falling in step with the mowhawked women, she kept her voice low. “ I like this no more than you do, but don’t you think Aram has been more than intolerable? And it almost seems as if you encourage his little outbursts.†Rosheen stayed silent, and Thera said no more. The bond between her and her Aes Sedai was something nobody could break, but her loyalty to an old friend also tugged at her.

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Lavinya walked beside Sheena, as regal as any queen, deftly keeping her skirts out of the dirt in the street as they made their way. "I do regret the instances in which I have joined your party, Sheena Sedai." Lavinya replied, pointedly keeping her face averted from the boorish tower guards they had apparantly been lumped with. "I have no doubt that the three of us will be able to work adequately, I have no desire to prove any more hinderance than what it seems you have already." She said dryly, no secret exactly which hinderances she referred to. Indeed, it had hardly been a long time since making the acquaintance of the two guards and Serena's warder, and already she could sense trouble. Typical, sending foolish meat-heads along to hamper the sisters in their work.

 

The other, the warder, Lavinya was yet to decide as to how much of a problem she could be. She knew the woman was looking at her, she could almost feel it, like an itch in her spine, yet she refused to be affected, not even her eyes roving from their path. Serena Sedai's gazes she was almost growing acustomed to, having encountered them before, though they still puzzled her no less.

 

"That which can't be avoided must be endured." She toned softly, almost to herself. There was little that could be done about their acompaniment now, but light help them should they get in the way of their progress, Lavinya would wring their necks personally. She still had much to prove, to her Ajah, the one to whom she owed her fealty. She would not allow it to be ruined at the whim of a pair of foolish guards, and a disgruntled warder.

 

"I have no desire to infringe on any of your plans, sisters, so perhaps it would be prudent for us to discuss strategy? No doubt you will be hungry after your journey. I can arrange private dining for us, without the prying eyes of those who would hinder, if that is suitable?" She raised her brows in question, thankful that the other two Aes Sedai seemed just as put out by their forced chaperones as she.

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Sheena allowed Lavinya to lead them through the docks and deeper into the city, silently appraising the woman as they walked. She nodded and smiled where conversation required, but said surprisingly little. Lavinya was a striking woman, full of grace and poise that would make any Gray proud and immediately envious. And yet, Sheena found herself relieved rather than impressed. For all the woman seemed born to turn heads and sway courts in her favor with a smile, it was enough for Sheena that the woman was sensible. She took an immediate liking to her.

 

"A bit of privacy would be most welcome, Lavinya Sedai," she said with a sigh. "I've half a mind to leave these ruffians to sleep in the stables, but I am afraid I cannot afford that luxury. Surely they would find some way to burn the town down with us unfortunately inside." She gave Serena a smile and the woman returned it wanly. It took Sheena a moment to recognize the tightness that had appeared in the woman's eyes and she immediately tried to recover. "I don't know how you happened upon such a well-mannered woman with whom to bond, Serena. Though I believe myself finished with a gaidin of my own, it is encouraging to see that some still bring honor to the bond." She wasn't used to complimenting and she hoped the woman knew her words to be sincere.

 

They continued on in conversation as the two Blues welcomed the newest member of their party. Sheena immediately made it clear that there was no need for deference, explaining that she had invited Serena to join her on this small trip and saw no need to establish seniority. "When there were only the two of us," she said, "such things hardly mattered, especially when we've worked together for so long. If it's quite alright with you, I would like to continue on as we began. Outings like this can prove pleasant so long as we avoid unnecessary stresses." If Lavinya was surprised by her familiarity, she quickly fell into place and listened attentively as they spoke of what awaited them in Whitebridge.

 

As the inn came in sight, a light shower had blanketed the city and their party--six, as an obnoxiously smug Aran had caught up sooner than anticipated, much to Sheena's annoyance--hurried on to warm baths and dry clothes. When the evening had deepened into night and the shower grew into a downpour, they ate and discussed possible courses of action in Whitebridge. "My contact made sure I understood that the rumors of a male channeler were just that: rumors. She believes whole-heartedly that they are true, but because the rumors point accusingly at the son of a very important man, the whispers are heard only behind closed doors and in the darker corners of the city. It's just as well that you are here," she said to Lavinya. "Serena and I are no strangers to such delicate political matters, but we have devoted our lives to pursuing other causes. I have no trouble allowing you to take the reins there should it prove necessary. I can't speak for Serena, but--"

 

Her words were cut off at a sudden burst of laughter from the two Tower Guards. Up to that point, they had kept to themselves at the other end of the table. Three heads turned to regard them with disapproving frowns and Thera, standing guard at the door, shook her head in disapproval. Rosheen had the shame to blush, but Aran only laughed the harder as if the Aes Sedai were wearing face paints. Sheena was surprised to find Serena the first to speak her mind and took advantage of the opportunity to bite back the venomous words she had been ready to throw at the infuriating man.

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Puffing away on her delicate and intricately carved pipe, Serena couldn't have been any more content. Unless, of course, it was any other time. Obviously, the two other Sisters were just as "put out" with the other Tower Guards as she was; however, lumping Thera into that small group was beginning to annoy the Blue. She had a great and lovely Gaidin. Not only was Thera Trakelyn loyal, but she kept her guard well. Slightly preturbed by the outcome of the beginning of their excursion, Serena fell in step behind Sheena and Lavinya. The other Blue had always been better at speaking with Sisters of different Ajah's, then Serena had been. Not that she couldn't do it, Sheena was merely more qualified.

 

Nodding where it was appropriate, Serena listened to every word and annalized the tones of voice that were used in the exchange between the other two. Pursing her lips as she thought, the Saldaean Blue figured that any tension in their voices was most likely caused by the series of events that had led up to their meeting, and afterwards. When had the White Tower decided it would be a great idea to enlist immature recruits? Shaking her head and biting the inside of her cheek, she held back any unnecessary comments.

 

Upon entering the inn and seeking baths and warmth, the party seperated for what could not have been long enough. Torn between her thoughts of Lavinya and her love for Thera, Serena bathed alone and dressed alone. Normally, Thera would have been somewhere near by, or in the same quarters as Serena as she dressed. Not this time. She had to spend her time in pause and meditation. The issues that would be laid on the table tonight would not be ones that should be taken lightly. Speaking of male channellers was always a touchy subject.

 

Entering the private dining area, Serena nodded to Sheena and Lavinya. The candlelight danced off of the walls, creating a disdainful atmosphere. Breathing in deeply, the Blue took her seat. Behined her, Thera stood in the doorway. Narrowing her tilted emerald eyes, Serena studied Sheena as she spoke. "My contact made sure I understood that the rumors of a male channeler were just that: rumors. She believes whole-heartedly that they are true, but because the rumors point accusingly at the son of a very important man, the whispers are heard only behind closed doors and in the darker corners of the city. It's just as well that you are here," As Sheena's head turned to Lavinya, Serena followed her gaze and she nodded.

"Serena and I are no strangers to such delicate political matters, but we have devoted our lives to pursuing other causes. I have no trouble allowing you to take the reins there should it prove necessary. I can't speak for Serena, but--"

 

Just as Serena was about to speak Aran and Rosheen burst into a bout of raucous laughter. The three Aes Sedai turned to gaze upon them, studying them from head to toe. I've bloody had it!Pursing her lips, the Blue immediately thought of a weave that had irked her in her days as a novice. Embracing the Source, Serena plucked at a couple weaves of Air, and some of Fire which would produce little nettles spiking up and down Aran's spine. Deciding at the last moment to spare Rosheen, simply because she had the intelligence to appear ashamed. The mohawked tower guard would be spared the One Power being used on her, but she would not get out of the lecture completely. A sly smile crept onto her face, while her eyes still shone with ferocity. Yes, perhaps lighting a tiny fire under his bottom would help a little, too.In satisfaction, she watched as Aran jumped to his feet in suprise. Perhaps they were angry; however, the Sisters were, too.

 

"If the both of you do not shape up soon, there will be major penances to pay. Not only that, but you could cost us our lives at the point where we are to depend solely on the protection of you." Pulling at a thread of Air, Serena cupped Aran's face and tilted it closer to hers. "What could possibly be so amusing that you would disturb our discussion? Are male channellers funny to you, Aran?" Venom could have dripped off of her tongue, as she spoke his name. "Is it funny to you that we could all go up in flames at any moment of being in this madman's sight? Is your fealty not to the White Tower and to protect the Aes Sedai? If you are not here to protect us in our time of need, or to go over our strategies with us, then please, do us all a favour and leave. The White Tower has no use for baffoons." The harsh words she spoke were directed mainly at Aran, but the Blue figured Rosheen might be able to benefit from them as well.

 

When she was done her lecture, she released her threads, and returned to Aes Sedai calm. The glowing of her eyes had died down, and her cheeks no longer flushed with anger. Quietly, and quite reserved, Serena took up her pipe and sat back down. Closing her eyes for a moment to collect herself, she took in a deep breath. Upon opening her eyes, she looked from Sheena to Lavinya, "Please, Sisters, carry on. I have no objections to Lavinya Sedai taking on the negotiations; however, will you discuss your actions with us before you take complete control of that aspect? I would assume that we should all confont eachother before making a large decision. This," she paused as she thought. "subject is quite delicate."

 

Leaning back in her chair, Serena seemed to act as if nothing had happened.

 

 

Serena Morrigan

Blue Ajah

Bonded in Heart and Soul to Thera Trakelyn

Angry

 

 

OOC:Sorry this took me so long. School is just over at last!

 

OOC#2: It's Edited guys! Is that better? Nothing Moiraine wouldn't have done to Lan. :mrgreen: Oh! And I do apologize, James, for getting Aran's name wrong. It wont happen again

 

OOC#3: Edited!!!

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That was unexpected.

 

While it wasn't the first time Aran had been manhandled, nor undoubtedly would it be the last, it was the first time it had happened for laughing. Laughing at the person perhaps, but laughing in general was something that had never landed him in trouble, with an Aes Sedai at least. Still, there was a first for everything and as usual he found the silver lining in the cloud, getting under Serena's skin meant he'd be getting under Sheena's. Getting under Sheena's skin meant Rosheen would be practicing her oratory soon.

 

Speaking of whom, she looked none too happy at what had just transpired but Aran managed to catch her glance and warn her off with a look. She didn't need the trouble it would bring her, and when they got back the Commander wouldn't be surprised to find out that Aran had been troublesome. After all, it was why the Commander had sent him out to begin with.

 

But truly, his actions were shameful and he needed to make amends. Stooping forward slightly, words were flowing from his lips as he stood in the space between the two blue sisters. "Truly, your sharp tongue and my stinging flanks have shown me the depths of my boorish behaviour. I beg your pardon, indeed I crave your forgiveness for I now know I must moderate my laughter in light of the gravity of our situation, my thoughtlessness knows no bounds!"

 

If Aran had been aiming for sincerity, one would have noted he'd flown wide of the mark. "But, you are a wise and disciplined Aes Sedai, a woman of substance. I am but a poor man trying to make his way in the world." His lips were quirking even as he spoke on. "A poor man who shall make his way downstairs to join knaves, scoundrels and rogues much like himself to spare you more of his scandalous presence."

 

Smiling outright at the last, he turned and made his way downstairs where he found Rosheen had already found them a table. They might not be in the presence of the Aes Sedai, but they could do their duty perfectly well downstairs, and a drink or three would help the night pass along and dull the tingling that still haunted his buttocks.

 

 

Aran

Tower Guard

 

 

OOC: Completely rewritten :) I also deleted the ooc posts that followed this to clean the thread up so they didn't break continuity.

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OOC: I hope this thread didn't die!!!

 

Thera’s red curls swung with fury as she protested Serena’s idea to bathe alone. But like any well behaved Gaidin she submitted to Serena’s wants and stormed off to find her own bath.

 

At this hour there was no hope of a private bath, but any would do. Perhaps it would help to calm her nerves.

 

Thera closed her caramel brown eyes and let the water wash over her. The steaming water felt like heaven but it did nothing to release her stress. She could feel Serena agitation even now. Masking the bond she sank deeper. All to soon the water grew tepid and her callused hands began to shrivel. Dressing quickly she caught up to Serena in the hall just before entering the dining hall.

 

As the large wooden door clicked shut behind her Thera took her place by the door, and set to sharpening her belt knife; seemingly unconcerned with the world around her. She caught bits and pieces of the Aes Sedai’s conversation but male channelers were none her concern. She would take this in stride just like every other sticky situation Serena had gotten her into. Thera’s plump lips curved into a small smile, but quickly she stilled her face. Just as she had gotten her own amusement in check a gale of laughter exploded from Rosheen and Aram. The anger that shone in Serena’s eyes was reflected in Thera’s stance.

 

"If the both of you do not shape up soon, there will be major penances to pay. Not only that, but you could cost us our lives at the point where we are to depend solely on the protection of you.What could possibly be so amusing that you would disturb our discussion? Are male channellers funny to you, Aran?" Venom could have dripped off of her tongue, as she spoke his name. "Is it funny to you that we could all go up in flames at any moment of being in this madman's sight? Is your fealty not to the White Tower and to protect the Aes Sedai? If you are not here to protect us in our time of need, or to go over our strategies with us, then please, do us all a favour and leave. The White Tower has no use for baffoons."

 

Thera eased her sword in the scabbard and faced Aran with pure fire in eyes. The wrong answer here would cost him his life. The man’s stance was not that of submission but rather challenge. The right words flowed from his lips but his mocking tone only angered Thera further."Truly, your sharp tongue and my stinging flanks have shown me the depths of my boorish behaviour. I beg your pardon, indeed I crave your forgiveness for I now know I must moderate my laughter in light of the gravity of our situation, my thoughtlessness knows no bounds! But, you are a wise and disciplined Aes Sedai, a woman of substance. I am but a poor man trying to make his way in the world." His lips were quirking even as he spoke on. "A poor man who shall make his way downstairs to join knaves, scoundrels and rogues much like himself to spare you more of his scandalous presence.â€

 

What Rosheen saw in the man Thera would never know, As Aran brushed past Thera she caught his sleeve and whispered for his ears alone. “Attempt a stunt such as that again and I will do far worse to your flanks†Her voice carried no anger, only promise. Thera settled back against the door as the Aes Sedai resumed their talk. Much as she hated to admit it, a mug of good ale would sit very well right now. The stress of the journey and the tension with Serena had made her head ache. It was a dull throb with the promise of much worse later.

 

Thera Trakelyn

bonded heart and soul to

Serena Morrigan of the Blue Ajah

:evil:

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