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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Loses made up


Corwin
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It had been months, and yet Corwin still didn't know what he wanted to do with his life.  Eqwina had shown him that much at least.  He had given up on the Tower, but now he didn't even wear anything from the Tower, beyond his weapons.  That was a part of his life he had left behind, he had even gotten rid of his coin with the Flame on it.  It was simple enough really, whenever people liked to gamble that is.  Thus his life had taken him to Andor.  Not the farthest from the Tower, but far enough.  He had been staying at an inn called The Strong Man, Corwin always smirked when he saw the sign.  The innkeeper was a rather dull man so naturally he had no imagination for an inn name.

 

For now Corwin was one of his bouncers.  There was always trouble enough when men got drunk, and luckily the innkeeper wasn't a hard task master, Corwin was able to convince him that to do his job most effectively was to mingle with the people and get them out that way.  But something about that time with Eqwina still haunted him.  Could he really blame her for those decisions.  Perhaps his words were made in haste....  But every time he thought of that he couldn't bring himself to seeing why selling her soul was something she had to do.  She had made a choice, no matter how she tried to justify it, she was not forced to her situation.

 

Corwin

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A weave of air silenced the hinges on the old stable door as Eqwina slipped out into the night. Her emerald eyes shone from the light of the moon as she motioned young Aradin to follow. By right he should have gone first to check the path, but the boy was young and he submitted to Eqwina’s every desire. Once out into the night he did manage to slip ahead with a slight bow and a cheeky grin. Even by the light of the moon the desire in his eyes was clear. He had admitted in the first moments that they met that he’d always dreamed of being a warder. Eqwina used promises of fulfilling that dream..among others to keep Aradin tight in reign. So many sisters seemed to forget that they were women upon obtaining the shawl, but not her. She used her womanly wiles almost as often as those of an Aes Sedai.

 

The streets of Four Kings were dark at this hour making it easy for them to depart unnoticed. With a little luck the body would not be discovered for at least a day, and by that time the old innkeeper wouldn’t even remember that they had ever been. Less than a quarter mile outside of town, just off the main road Aradin ducked back into the trees and came out leading Nightlily and his own mount. Eqwina rewarded him with a sly smile as he helped her mount and she laid out the plan.

“I have not been to Caemlyn in some years, but there is a man I desperately need to make contact with there. His name escapes me, but I will know his face.” Eqwina pursed her lips and casually adjusted her cloak letting flashes of silk peak through. The Taraboner gown she wore left very little to the imagination and it helped to keep Aradin from thinking to deep on her words. “Also in the city I am known as Mistress Caralin, you may use your own name, just do not forget mine”  Booting Nightlily gently Eqwina set off at a pace that the horses would be able to maintain for hours with no need to rest. Four Kings wasn’t a long ride to Caemlyn, but she intended to make it as short as she could.

 

The sun was just cresting over the city when Eqwina and Aradin road through the gates, both stiff in the saddle and blurry eyed from the long night ride. Long before they came in sight of the walls Eqwina had pulled her cowl up obscuring her face from all but the most prying eyes. It wouldn’t do for people to start thinking about why an Aes Sedai was traveling over night.

 

The city was much as she remembered, laid out to be very pleasing and easy on the eyes. It was only made more so by the red and golden hues of the rising sun glinting off all the white marble. It made the city sparkle. Leaning out of her saddle to lay a hand on Aradin’s arm, Eqwina squeezed it lightly trying to pull his attention away from the city and back on the task at hand. He would due for her first warder if he ever learned that not every place was like his home. perhaps he will grow out of it with age she mused.

 

Turning her attentions back to the streets her eyes scanned for the Inn she’d been instructed to visit. “ Stay alert Aradin” Eqwina hissed, only loud enough to be heard by his ears “We need to find the Inn I told you about…The Strong Man”  The boy had the good grace to blush upon realizing he had been gaping like a country fool. In short order they stopped in front of a wooden sign proclaiming The Strong Man. Even from the outside it looked like a simple place, more suited to lesser merchants and lower nobles who were tight with cash. Upon entering the door Eqwina’s suspicions were confirmed. The walls were white washed and the wood mantle was plain with not a hint of carving or gilt. Even the brightly lit lamps seemed drab, but at least the place was clean; Though she did wrinkle her nose at the sight of a rumpled man lain stretched out on a bench in the back of the room apparently still drunk from the night before.

 

For once young Aradin remembered his task, and stepped forward with poise and deadly grace befitting his position. He inquired after a room for himself and the Lady Caralin and in short order they were being shone the “best rooms the in place”; according to the plain looking Innkeeper. Just as Eqwina’s foot touched the first step she saw movement from the corner of her eye, and was suddenly very glad for the cover of her hood. Seated on a bench just left of the stairs sitting still as a statue was Corwin. Before she could gain control of her emotions a small growl sounded from her throat. Covering with a cough Eqwina hustled up the stairs before he could have a chance to see inside her hood.

 

The startled Innkeeper only smiled and gave Aradin an apologetic look. One advantage to being a woman and a lady was that most men wrote off any strange behavior. Who knew what women were thinking and Ladies were women twice over again right?…

 

Corwin being in the City let alone at her inn could cause problems; the question was how to handle it. He carried a secret far to dangerous for him to be left loose.

 

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Corwin didn't know what to think as the strange woman and her lackey came through the door.  But then again Inns got strange people, especially the Strong Man.  It was only their second night there that the lackey began to drink some....  he must have been set loose from his mistress.  Corwin didn't mind it though until he showed he had no idea what limits he had.

 

Through his years Corwin had been a drinker, but the main rule everyone knew was that you had to know you're limit.  But then again the lackey looked like he was barely a man.  At first he seemed to be a happy drunk, but when his mug was knocked to the ground accidentally, Corwin saw a completely different side to him.  He wanted to take the man on then and there, but the man wanted none of it.  Slowly making his way over, Corwin positioned himself to be able to take him out if he caused any problems.  Only the boy seemed to get it right and left the man alone... lucky for the lackey.  But as he turned around, the lackey noticed Corwin's swords... the ones he had made in the Yard, and the ones with the Flame engraved into the hilts.  Most people in the Yard thought it was a sign he had dedicated himself to the Tower, but Corwin simply used them as a way of showing he followed the Flame and Void.  Something he only used when absolutely needed.  You were really There?  Corwin turned to walk away without a word, he had left that life behind.  You really trained in the To-  Corwin cut him off there with a swift punch to his head.

 

The lackey dropped like a sack of potatoes, it wasn't hard when you knew how to hurt people.  His mistress aint gonna like this...  But Corwin was simply doing his job.  The man was a drunk that needed to sober up.  Corwin drug the boy over to another guard of the Inn and had him take the boy to his rooms.  The night was already proving to be eventful, no one had noticed the Flame before, but it didn't matter.  In the morning he could have it all set on course to be rectified.

 

Corwin

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OOC: Lets see how observant Corwin is…

 

For two days Eqwina had stayed locked in the room she and Aradin shared, claiming to be recovering from the rigors of their travel. The boy accepted the story as easily as the old innkeeper did; she was a lady after all. But after a night a two full days Eqwina was growing restless. Corwin’s sudden appearance was interfering with her plans and they took precedence over all. With a smile and a few kind words she had Aradin bundled out of the rooms and down into the common room for a drink. It gave her the time she needed to lay plans, plus the boy’s constant fawning was beginning to grate on her last nerve.

 

Much sooner than she’d expected a knock sounded at her door. Drawing her robe tighter Eqwina opened the door just enough peek out and was shocked to see Aradin being held in the arms of a much larger man. Not Corwin dark lord be praised! Hiding her face as well as the rest of her behind the door she ushered the brute in and had him lay the boy out on his bed. Once the door was firmly shut and bared Eqwina took a seat on the bed next to him staring down at the child, to furious to even care about healing the bruise that was forming around his eye. In the morning he would have explaining to do, but for tonight he was out of her hair.

 

Tossing her robe on the bed Eqwina smoothed her slightly rumpled skirts. The luminous golden silk was her favorite, but it wrinkled easily. Her life was made a trifle easier, by the lack of need to be quiet. It was obvious by the rancid smell of booze permeating the room that the young man was stone drunk and wouldn’t be waking to foil her plans. Gathering her cloak she settled it on her shoulder and pulled the hood up to hide her face.

 

At this time of night the common room was bustling but the Innkeeper was easy to spot. She motioned him over to a quiet corner, very careful to keep her back to Corwin at all times. She spoke a few quiet words at her displeasure of having her young man delivered to her in such a state and the fat old innkeeper of course promised that it would never happen again. Glancing to make sure Corwin was no where near the door she hustled through the room and out into the night.

 

The sky was still dark when she returned later that evening, but the common room was all but empty. Every eye swiveled towards her as she stepped back into the light, her face still buried deep in her hood. Nodding to no one in particular Eqwina headed straight for the stairs. To her dismay Corwin was once again seated at the table just to the left and this time she did not think she could get past him. From what she remembered he had very sharp eyes. Thinking quickly Eqwina stumbled as she walked a made a faint sound as if hurt. Just as she’d hoped everyman in the room leaped to her aid, except Corwin. He was not the type to rescue a damsel in distress. A small smile and a quiet laugh and Eqwina was quickly being escorted to the stairs her arms being held by two very tall, very burly men. They gave her the perfect cover, but Eqwina knew she had to act soon. A girl could only hide her face so long and could only stumble so many times.

 

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Corwin watched to see the woman fall, something that was obviously fake.  But it didn't matter, if she wanted to stay hidden that badly, then Corwin would just see what he could find out through the future...  But it was something that would take some time away from the Inn.  But Corwin didn't have time think about it before the Innkeeper came to him with some harsh words about knocking the boy out.  The woman must have been talking to the Innkeeper about that incident.

 

The woman was up to something, but Corwin didn't know what.  He didn't know who she was, but she wanted to stay hidden.  Corwin knew what he had to do.  It was the morning, and Corwin saw the woman walking out, without the lackey.  Something was odd...she was going out early and she kept looking around.  But Corwin knew how to stay unseen, and she wasn't the greatest at being observant.  Suddenly a thought occurred to him.  What if the woman didn't want to be seen because it was Eleanore... what if she wanted him to continue thinking she was dead...  Corwin pulled back, these were things that he didn't like thinking about.  But things he needed time to consider.  Suddenly he saw the lackey leaving, and none-the-happier since he had obviously found the woman had left without him.

 

Mulling over things for a couple hours, Corwin decided it was time to find out if it was really her.  Returning to his room, he searched his saddle bags for the one thing he still had from Eleanore, the whistle he had given her.  It had been left in Calliste's rooms from the night Calliste was murdered.  Taking the whistle, he grabbed some paper and a quill.  It wasn't something he needed to rush, but Corwin felt this urgency to find Eleanore and know why she did it.  Taking a moment to collect his thoughts, he quickly wrote, Why are you avoiding me?  You know we need to talk.  Reading the paper over and over again, Corwin finally mustered to courage to deliver it to her room.  Knowing any Aes Sedai though, she had her room Warded, and if this was Eleanore and she wanted to avoid him that badly... he definitely wouldn't be able to walk out of that room alive.  So he went outside and grabbed the first boy he saw running the streets.  For a silver penny, most boys would do anything, especially as easy as deliver a package to an Inn that was just down the street from where Corwin found him.

 

Now all there was left to do was wait, and Corwin didn't know if he truly did want to wait this one out.  Sometimes he wondered if he had been there, if Eleanore would have killed him as well.

 

Corwin

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Had she not warded the room muffling any sounds, the shouts that were exchanged between her and Aradin could have been heard several streets away. Unwilling to reveal certain secrets to the young man Eqwina had been forced to use her fists to make him understand that she was in charge. She went where she wanted; when she wanted and if he wanted to be her warder he was going to have to learn that. Finally when she threatened to toss him out on his ear the boy finally accepted, and even begged forgiveness. Only then did she see fit to heal the bruise that Corwin’s fist had left, and the few minor hurts the she had caused.

 

No amount of kind words would make him understand why she had to go out alone again that day, but finally he submitted. Only Eqwina knew that he would be out searching for her before she had gone a block. The bloody boy had heard one too many stories about a Warder keeping his Aes Sedai alive no matter her wishes!

 

True to her predictions Aradin caught up with her in minutes and only gave her a bow and a sheepish grin when she tried to send him away. Too busy to argue Eqwina scowled from beneath her hood, but allowed him to trail her like a puppy. At least it keeps him quiet

 

The pair returned to the Inn just as the sun was rising over the city walls. At this hour even the common room was empty, except for one man, Maric she thought his name, seated by the door to prevent anyone from entering that had no business a The Strong Man. Nodding to the brute Eqwina allowed Aradin to bundle her up the stairs.

 

She knew someone had been there before the door ever opened. Putting a hand up to stop Aradin from going any further Eqwina tested resonance and found nothing. Carefully she pushed the door open with a flow of air, preparing several nasty weaves incase the intruder was still inside. This time she had no qualms about letting the boy do his job. Once he nodded that she room was clear Eqwina stepped in and was surprised to see a note lying just behind the door.

 

The hand was not one she recognized but the words scrawled on the page said it all.

Why are you avoiding me? You know we need to talk.

 

Sighing Eqwina sank down onto the stool by the door; ignoring Aradin’s looks of concern; It seemed that something was going to have to be done about Corwin, and now.  Taking out a single sheet of parchment she sat down at the rooms small desk and scribbled out a short note.

 

You are the last person in this world that I expected to find here. There is nothing more between us; you made that clear. Leave now and we can end this without out need for bloodshed.

 

Eqwina read her words twice before sanding the page. She sealed the note with her serpent ring and in a careful hand printed Corwin’s name across the front. Pressing the note into Aradin’s hands she instructed him to leave the note with the Innkeeper and return to her right away. She had plans to make in case Corwin did not heed her warning.

 

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Corwin had to read the note a few times.  Eleanore wasn't making any sense, he hadn't done anything to end things... unless she felt him sharing Calliste's bed did that, but she had been sleeping with her other Gaidin.  Clearly something was going on, and it didn't take much time to find out who had left the note.  Corwin only needed to wait a bit longer, the lackey was stupid, he was bound to show up again.

 

This time he was smart enough to not be drinking at least, but he seemed to not be the biggest fan of Corwin any more.  Clearly he remembered a few things from the previous night.  It didn't matter though, the lackey was the way to her.  Talking to a couple bouncers, Corwin called a favor to have the boy removed temporarily.  It shouldn't be too hard.  But he had to do something first.  Take a sheet of paper, Corwin simply wrote Wrong answer.  Slipping it under the door, Corwin moved quickly and nodded to the boys.

 

Luckily the lackey was near the back and keeping to himself.  Corwin mused, he seemed to be trying observant and casual, but he was failing so miserably.  The bouncers faked a fight near the lackey and with a couple misplaced punches, Corwin was able to take the others in to get all three taken out.  Maric didn't like the plan though, he didn't like getting involved with patrons.  Corwin didn't care though, and so long as the lackey wasn't permanently hurt Meric couldn't complain too much.

 

Corwin didn't know what Eleanore would do anymore though, so he never mentioned she was Aes Sedai, let alone a murdering one.  So he stayed ready in the back with a sack to throw over her head.  That was part of the plan no one knew about, but Corwin knew that vision was the one thing any Sister needed to Channel.  Corwin barely had time to get hidden before Eleanore bound out of the Inn.  The boys were still moving, and Corwin couldn't risk the Power getting involved.  Moving fast he had to throw the sack over her head and cover her mouth fast enough that the others wouldn't realize what was going on.  Luckily the lackey wasn't quite knocked out and insisted on fighting with the men for getting him kicked out.  Corwin didn't like it, but he had to take her back into the shadows, he wanted to badly just to talk to her.  But she had to be calm.

 

The woman was quite the fighter though.  That didn't matter much though, Corwin could handle her well enough.  She constantly struggled to try and get the bag off her head, tossing it to and fro.  But Corwin wouldn't have any of that.  It took a few moments to get back to the alley, but when they were there, Corwin situated her where they could both sit on boxes, but where he could keep a firm hand on the bag so that she couldn't get it off her head.  Now was the time for the question he that had haunted him for years, Why Eleanore?  Why?  Why leave me and have the bond severed?  Why kill Calliste?  Why are you avoiding me now?

 

Corwin

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Being young and inexperienced did not make Aradin a complete fool, and in short order he had deduced that there was someone staying at the Inn causing Eqwina great stress. No amount of words could make him understand that some matters were better left alone.

 

With adorations to be careful she allowed him to go down to the common room that night. She did not need to see his eyes to know that he was laying plans to hurt whoever this “person” was.

 

Fortunately for the fool boy the room they shared was the first at the top of the stairs, and a few hours later the sounds of a struggled drifted up to her. Sighing loudly Eqwina tossed down her pen and gathered her cloak, all the while having visions of being forced to channel to save the young man’s life.

 

When she reached the bottom of the stairs the room was once again quiet and Aradin was no where to be seen. A few quick words with the Innkeeper and Eqwina burst out the door in a flash Saidar already filling her. Useless as he was at times she could not allow him to die over something as silly as a bar fight. The men were already a flurry of fists and shouts when she burst from the door and she could do nothing lest she chance hurting the boy more than he already was; distraction was going to have to be enough. She had the weaves for a thunder clap already forming when suddenly her world went dark.

 

The wool sack that was over her head smelled strongly of barley, and the coarse fibers itched against the skin of her face. She knew Saidar was useless without her eyes, but she clung to it tight as she kicked her feet and snatched at sack. All it took was a slip and her attacker would pay dearly. In spite of her struggles the hard man handled her like a child. She opened her mouth to cry out and a callused hand clapped down hard causing the rough wool to scrape her lips. For the first time in many years Eqwina felt completely helpless and tears stained her cheeks. She was at the mercy of this brute and there was nothing she could do about it. Light! why had she never bonded a suitable warder?!?! She braced herself for the torture and the rape that was sure to come. Few things could cause a woman more fear than the prospect of being helpless against some man’s attentions. Against all hope she clung to Saidar hoping that this man had no idea he had captured an Aes Sedai.

 

Why Eleanore?  Why?  Why leave me and have the bond severed?  Why kill Calliste?  Why are you avoiding me now?

Eleanore?! He thought that she was….? Suddenly a thousand prospects flew through her head; and beneath her rough covering Eqwina smiled. After all her worry…Corwin had no idea who was masked beneath this hood.

 

She crossed her arms below her breasts and assumed a pose of indifference. Patience had never been a virtue that she possessed much of, but for the opportunity to catch Corwin by surprise she could wait a lifetime.

 

The minutes passed in silence, the only sounds were the struggle still taking place in the streets, but deep in the alley as they were even those shouts seemed distant and muffled. Eqwina’s smiled broadened and a small laugh bubbled from her lips. Corwin had set himself up to be murdered and the fool had no idea. 

 

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Corwin sat there through the silence, why wouldn't Eleanore answer him?  Why wouldn't she even say a word?  It didn't matter, very well Eleanore...  With a sigh he took her and drug her behind him toward a vacant warehouse.  The authorities had seized it for debt repayment, and no one had made any use of it since.  At first Eleanore didn't want to move and struggled against hm, Corwin had no choice but to knock her out so that no ruckus would be stirred.  People noticed things at night after all.

 

It pained him so much to harm his former Aes Sedai, the woman he had dedicated his life to protecting... but some things needed to be resolved.  With her our of it, Corwin took the liberty to sneak some sleeping necessities for Eleanore.  He didn't want her to be too uncomfortable, but Corwin also grabbed some rope and a solid blindfold.  After a bit, everything was situated, Eleanore was also hogtied.  Corwin tried to make it so that she would have some comfort, but there wasn't much he could do.  Corwin also tied the sack off just below her nose.  She had to eat after all, but Corwin made it tight enough that she wouldn't be able to see.  He didn't know what Eleanore was capable of anymore.  And luckily it wasn't too late, Corwin went to find the Mother for a favor.  He knew there was some weed that could stop Channeling, but hopefully she didn't know what he would need it for.

 

Eleanore had once told him about it, so hopefully it would help him get her to talk.  Corwin bought her whole supply, it took a little bit of time though, since Corwin didn't remember the name was Forkroot.  Corwin then had the tea brewed in the kitchens of the Inn and left before the Innkeeper could find him.  He was lucky that it was a busy night, else the fires wouldn't have been going already.  Once Corwin had some food paid for as well, he took off to be there when Eleanore woke up.

 

Things took longer than Corwin though, but he still had a little bit of time.  Needless to say Eleanore wasn't going to be the happiest. when she awoke.  Corwin waited, and when she awoke they tirade went longer than he thought, but he stopped her from doing anything too crazy, and when she seemed like she was able to hear what he spoke said, You aren't leaving until I get answers from you Eleanore.  Now I have some tea from the kitchens and a meal for you, you need to eat, but until you want it, I will wait.  Try not to move though, I will be practicing my forums, and I don't want to find you in the way too late....

 

Corwin

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A surprise break in the silence startled Eqwina and she lost Saidar as Corwin’s strong arms wrapped around her stomach. Feebly she tried to fight back, but holding Saidar for hours, even without channeling had used a lot of her energy. Still she heard Corwin grunt as one of her kicks landed in his ribs.

 

It served him right, even if he thought she was this.. Eleanore. Grunting with effort she desperately tried to reach him with her fists or her feet, she was on the point of revealing the charade when darkness took her once again.

 

Her dreams were fitful; Filled with large men with flame engraved swords chasing her about calling her Eleanore and trying to fit her for a bridle. She woke up with a start and was surprised to feel her muscles aching, pulling lightly against her bonds she growled at finding her arms bound to her wrists.

 

She wanted to scream and curse his name, but instead she forced herself into calm repeating novice exercises over and over again in her head. Her sharp mind began to work from every angle trying to see the advantage of her situation. The one distinct advantage she had was that she knew her attacker and he did not know her. It was obvious from the way her spoke about her that they had been involved as something more than Aes Sedai and Warder.

Corwin’s voice broke through her thoughts and if her mouth had not been free Eqwina would have smiled.

You aren't leaving until I get answers from you Eleanore.  Now I have some tea from the kitchens and a meal for you, you need to eat, but until you want it, I will wait.  Try not to move though, I will be practicing my forums, and I don't want to find you in the way too late....

 

Shortly after he spoke Eqwina lowered herself onto her side and began whimpering softy. The soft whimpers grew louder until she heard him pause in his work. Curling up on herself as much as her bonds would allow she began to rock gently so she appeared to be shaking.

 

“please” she murmured, her voice an unrecognizable whisper. “ please…I..i need you.”

 

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Corwin spent the next hour going through his forms before pausing.  He didn't hear what she was saying at first, but he heard the last two words ...need you.  Looking at the woman simply asked, what do you want?  He didn't know what to do.

 

Every time Corwin looked at her, he felt his heart ripped out.  He had sworn to PROTECT her, not to kidnap her.  He didn't know what to do with himself.  But he did prepare to feed her or whatever it might be.

 

Corwin

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OOC: Cards are on the table. Do with it what you will :)

 

Had her hands been free Eqwina would have been pulling her hair in frustration. For all of her she had not been able to make this night turn in her favor. It seemed that this night was destined be a reflection of their entire relationship.

 

Want did she want? Finally, pushed almost beyond the point of sanity she snapped. She writhed on the floor as the screams emitted from her.

“What do I want Corwin?!?!” Her tiny frame shook with anger and she fairly spat the words at him. “I want released from these bonds and this light blast sack, but most of all I want free of you!” At this point if he did not know he was speaking to he was a fool. But Eqwina was angry enough to drive her point home. “I do not know who this Eleanore is, and frankly I don’t give a fig. From what I have heard she is gone. She does not need you and she does not want you! Give it up man, and see what is in front of your face.”

 

In her struggles she had managed to wiggle her way across the floor. She could feel the hard toe of a boot in her ribs. Not caring how ridicules it seemed the tirade continued to pour from her mouth.

 

“You are stubborn and wrongheaded to a fault. You NEVER listen and you insist on arguing at every turn, but Light man you are a warrior. And how ever much you deny your roots you are a Warder.” Her voice trailed off, and some of the anger boiled away. She had spent months denying the fact, and when she got the sack off her head she was going to whip him from here to Illian and back, but she needed him. A warrior and a fighting man with more than a few months skill; It grated, but it was plain and simple fact. When she spoke again her voice still carried anger, but none of it’s former heat. “Corwin…..You would try the patience of the most stoic person, but you know the ways of the world and that is what I need.”

 

Her body fell limp, all the fight going out of her. She wanted a warder, but she was beginning to wonder if any man was worth this price.

 

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Corwin stood there with her screaming at his feet.  He didn't know what to think, it wasn't Eleanore, it was Eqwina...  But why would she be hiding from him?  Why would she not disclose who she was from the beginning?  Corwin stood there for a few moments then walked over to the tea and poured it out.  Taking the blindfold, Corwin came up behind Eqwina and untied the sack, but then but his hands up inside to secure the blindfold... Eqwina was even worse, and he knew that much.

 

Once the blindfold was secure, Corwin pulled the sack off and picked her up to put her on the bedding.  At the feel of it all, he could feel her tense up, but Corwin simply flipped her over and cut the ropes.... It was quite the gamble, since Eqwina could simply rip the blindfold off, but Corwin was willing to take it if she was saying she "needed" him.  You wanted free of the sack, you are free. But now you are torn, you said you wanted free of me, yet you say you "need" me, well both can't happen.  My life has changed Eqwina, I no longer am a slave to the Tower, why should I go back to that for you?

 

By this point, Eqwina had arisen, so Corwin put the plate of food on her lap.  It still have a small bit of heat, from being wrapped, but there wasn't much.

 

Corwin

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As Corwin’s large hands grasped on her shoulder Eqwina tensed unsure of what was to come. Any man who was crazy enough to kidnap an Aes Sedai could be capable of any amount of idiocy. Especially when he had a helpless woman, with whom he was angry, completely at his mercy. As the bonds were sliced from her wrists and ankles Eqwina exhaled with relief. If he was willing to release her that much he couldn’t mean her any real harm.

 

Slowly she flexed her wrists, ankles, and calves trying to release some of the tension of being bound. She was still rubbing at the chaffs on her wrist when Corwin spoke again. Feeling with her fingers she tugged at the knot that held her blindfold in place; it was tight but with a little work she was soon blinking at the sudden brightness of the dim warehouse. Looking down into her lap she grimaced at the meager plate in front of her. She sat it aside without another glance and went back to work trying to relax her muscles.

 

She could feel Corwin’s eyes on her as she moved, he was wary, and with good reason. Even he could not expect that she would leave him alive after such a rough treatment. Knowing that trying to stand was still useless Eqwina tucked her legs up next to her and tried to assume a more regal pose while her fingers gently massages her calves. “You are right, I cannot have it both ways.” For a long time there was silence in the warehouse except for the occasional grunt as she shifted from one position to another. “What I want free of is the constant torment and the fights. No Sister should have to struggle so hard against her warder, they are supposed to be a team” Eqwina finally allowed herself a glance at his eyes, but all she could see was an impassable wall made of stone. If her noticed her slip he gave no sign of it. “I do not know what Eleanore did to you, or why things ended, but I can promise you that I will never hurt you in the way she did. As to why….” Gathering her skirts Eqwina pushed herself up to her hands and knees before rising to stand swaying on wobbling legs. “ You have made me realize that without a competent man to guard my back I could very well end up at the mercies of some man who will not treat me half as kind as you did today.” Letting her skirts fall into the dust Eqwina leaned back against a pile of boxes to help steady herself. “And…I know something of the grief of losing someone you care about and having your life turned upside down. With me…well you wouldn’t have to be alone. You and I could be partners and I will swear any oath you like that I would never make you a slave.”

 

She found herself being open and honest, hoping that at least; if he did walk away they would part not enemies. For a moment there was a flicker of pain at the thought of him refusing, but Eqwina pushed it firmly away. If he refused she would continue on just as she always had. Perseverance was one thing that Aleafin had helped to engrave deep within.

 

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Corwin sat there and listened as Eqwina went on and on.  After she had stopped he thought for a few moments.  With a break he said, I would love to be bonded to you....  After a few moments Corwin couldn't hold in a laugh though.  Is that what you want to hear from me?  Well you still have yet to answer why.  Yes you said you need a competent person to guard you, but if we're a team then both of us want to be part of the team.  Why should I want to be on a team with you?  Why should I change my life to focusing on you?  Corwin tried not to let too much heat into his voice, after a moment he added, I mean not to be rude Eqwina, but I placed such a emphasis on one before and it fell apart, why should I do it again?  Corwin waited, he hoped she didn't take it wrong, but if he was going to risk this again, she was going to have to show it....

 

Corwin

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Sarcasm and out right rudeness and disrespect were only a few of the offences on Corwin’s list and not a one of them new. Eqwina squeezed her eyes shut and tried to remind herself of why she was tolerating such insolence.

 

“I cannot give you the why Corwin, that has to come from within yourself. All I can do is state my case and hope that you are willing to except the strictures I put forward.” Being hooded, bound, clubbed over the head and threatened had melted away the walls that made Eqwina a distant Aes Sedai. She was only a woman, frustrated and at the end of her rope, just like any other that was saddled with such a difficult man.  “You have already made me say more than is proper, so the last thing I will say is this. The first time we met I saw a fire in you that excited me. Very few men have had the nerve to stand up to me the way you did, to stand up to any Aes Sedai. While that same quality has driven me mad it is also why I had not been able to let you go. You have the courage of 10 men and I would rest well knowing that you were by my side, and that is where you would be Corwin…at my side” She paused not sure if she should ad the last, deciding that if this was ever going to come to an end she would have to . “And  I have always thought that if you ever were to agree to the bond that….that it would be forever… and you would never walk away from me like so many before.”

 

Oh how it burned…the humiliation was painted plain on her face. “ I want you as a warder Corwin, but I am done begging. The choice now is yours.” Letting her knees relax slowly Eqwina lowered herself to the pallet. “It is not an easy decision I ask you to make. Think on it….I do not ask for your decision right away.” she said regaining some of the vaunted Aes Sedai composure. Laying her head back against the boxes where she’d just been leaning Eqwina closed her eyes to wait. After so much time in total darkness even the dim light of the abandoned building seemed bright. 

 

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Corwin nodded his head, he had a lot he needed to think on.  Looking at Eqwina he asked her, Shall we go back?  The going was slow, Corwin was sure she didn't want to admit she was too sore to move quickly, but he didn't mind.  His mind was taken else where.

 

When he came back, Corwin was told to leave by the Innkeeper.  Apparently word had gotten around what he did, and the Innkeeper was non-too pleased.  But Corwin didn't care, he had plenty of money, and he had other worries.  The next couple days he spent in the warehouse going over his form hour after hour until his muscles couldn't even pick up a sword anymore.  As he walked over to his bedding, Corwin collapsed to sleep filled with dreams mixed with Eqwina and Eleanore.  They both interchanged so much he didn't know who it was really about.

 

He didn't know what to do, he had failed Eleanore, but he needed to make a decision, Eqwina wouldn't wait forever.  So Corwin sat on the floor early the next morning meditating, taking the Flame and entering into the Void.  As he felt truly empty, Corwin then brought thoughts of Eqwina forward and examined the emotions that tried to break through.  Most strongly he felt frustration beating on the Void, but he was able to easily dismiss that.  Next he felt anger which he associated with her decision to be a part of the of the Black Ajah and sell her soul, but he was able to throw that one to the side as well.  But with that emotion came pity.  Corwin had to think some be fore he knew why he felt that, but he associated it with the decision to sell her soul.

 

Going through this all a few more times to ensure he completely understood his feelings toward her, Corwin was about to stop when just before he dismissed he Void he realized there was something else there, devotion.  As soon as he found this, he felt the anger well up again.  Corwin had to think for a few minutes before he understood this one.  But after a few minutes, it dawned on him, he wasn't angry because she sold her soul, he was angry because he felt devoted to her, only he didn't know why.  After a few moments, he realized he never would know why exactly he felt that devotion to her, but it was there.  As he paid more attention to it, he felt it grow stronger and stronger.  And there was his answer.

 

Going to the Inn, Corwin could see the looks he received, but he didn't mind.  No one could truly take him in a fight, and all the bouncers knew that.  That was why none opposed him directly.  Knocking on Eqwina's door, Corwin saw the lackey open the door first and try to slam it in his face.  With a quick boot in the doorway the door bounced back and hit him in the face.  Clearly the lackey wasn't ready for that because he took a step back in shock.  Corwin took the liberty to enter and when the boy tried to remove him, Corwin suddenly had a knife to his throat and said, it would be wise for you to mind your own business.  Turning he saw Eqwina and waited until she felt ready to acknowledge him.

 

Corwin

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Every muscle in her body felt as if it had been stretched to the point of snapping which made the walk back to the Inn more than uncomfortable. Not wanting to seem too dependant, and trying to regain a measure of composure Eqwina stayed silent and did not voice a complaint. After all she had said more than enough.

 

When they arrived back at the Inn the kindly old man exclaimed over Eqwina and her tattered dress and rumpled appearance. Never mind that she had arrived with Corwin, the Innkeeper was having none of it and had Corwin shown to the door. She felt a longing as he left, almost as if she would miss him once he was gone from her sight. She watched until he was out the door before stamping the emotion down and letting the Innkeeper show her back to her room. The last thing she had expected to see was Aradin stretched out on the second bed. He sprang from the bed at the sight of her and opened his arms for all the world like her lover. With a sigh Eqwina fell into him and buried her face in his chest; the stress of the last several days was too much. Still crying silently she fell asleep in his arms.

 

The sun was shining brightly through the window curtains, casting rays of light through the room. Trying to blink away the sleep Eqwina raised her hands to eyes only to find one of them pinned. In a moment of panic she tried to yell, but the words fell dead when she saw Aradin in the bed next to her. Light, he won’t be fit to live with now Eqwina thought as she slipped silently out of bed and belted on her robe. All that day and the next she refused leave the room or even eat, and her sleep became erratic at best. Every time she closed her eyes images of Nevin, Drak and Corwin flew before her face, each one melting with the rest until she could hardly tell one from the other. It was all too much…..

 

She sat staring out the window down the street towards the old abandoned warehouse hour after hour, not willing to look away for a moment. So when a knock sounded at the door Aradin leapt to answer. The sudden commotion drew her eyes and Eqwina leapt up with a crash as her stool toppled over. She stared from Aradin’s trembling face to Corwin’s and back before she was able to speak. “Let him go Corwin, he won’t cause any trouble.” Turning her gaze to the young man she told him to go down stairs and find himself a mug of ale and stay there until she called. The boy left with thunder clouds in his eyes; surprisingly with as many dark looks directed at her as at Corwin. For a time Eqwina only stared, unsure of what to say.

 

Instead of making a fool out of herself she wrapped her robe tighter and took a seat on the vacant bed. “So…I am assuming you have come to a decision?” Her voice was calm but her hands knotted in her robe from the tension she felt inside. She had spent so many years searching for the perfect man….Many sisters used up Warders and tossed them aside, but not her. She had waited so long because she had wanted to be sure. Now all of her hopes rested on the shoulders of a stubborn incorrigible man. She felt about ready to sick up. 

 

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Corwin had to hold the grin in as Eqwina dismissed the lackey.  Things started to make sense, he thought of himself as her bodyguard, but if Eqwina had told him that she was an Aes Sedai, let alone, Black Ajah, was doubtful at best.  But it didn't matter, once she had sat herself on the bed, Corwin realized it was his final chance to back out.

 

Assuming the Void again, Corwin did a quick examination of his emotions once he had seen her... for some reason that devotion was greater.  It sent waves of frustration and anger not knowing why it was there and what caused this.  But one thing Corwin did know was that when someone was Compelled, they couldn't resist... with this he felt that frustration and anger building in a form of resistance; thus it must not be Compulsion that was causing his devotion.

 

With a deep breath Corwin looked her dead in the eye.  I have, and I have found myself feeling... positive feelings toward this team.  Corwin didn't know what else to say, he couldn't be too blunt, he had no idea if the room was warded and any Sister wouldn't be happy if her cover was blown, and any Sister would use a different name... especially a Sister like Eqwina.  But to emphasize his point, Corwin pulled his Fancloak out of the bag he brought, surely Eqwina would know the meaning of this all now, if she didn't before.

 

Corwin

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If a moment could feel like a lifetime, those few seconds managed it quite well; Eqwina’s breath was frozen in her throat and her eyes were opened so wide they felt about ready to pop from her head. Before she could regain any measure of control she stammered the start to several sentences. “ You and……I could…we…” Coughing behind her hand with a furious blush Eqwina turned her back on Corwin and went to the table to pour two goblets wine with an unsteady hand. With her back turned she closed her eyes for a moment and tried to will away the feelings of betrayal, it had to be her imagination but when Corwin had agreed she thought she’d heard Nevin’s cry.

 

“Foolishness!” she whispered to herself before wiping away a single tear. This was to be a happy day and surprisingly a small part of her did feel happy, but more than that…content. Her cheeks were still stained red, but she had finally regained control of her voice. “I am glad you are beginning to think well of us. I truly could not imagine a better man for a warder.” At the last minute Eqwina remembered to ward the room against listeners hoping it had not been too late.

 

With those words being said Eqwina did not know what was next. She had never thought on what the proper etiquette was or on what she was supposed to say. When she had thought of bonding Nevin it had always been romantic and..perfect, but it wasn’t like that with Corwin. There would be no wedding vows exchanged with this bonding.

 

She still had not touched her wine when she sat back down on the bed across from him staring off into space. For the hundredth time in her life she felt lost and unsure. Meeting Corwin’s eyes again Eqwina felt a small thrill and she smiled. “If you are going to be my warder I may as well get used to sharing things with you” her cheeks flushed even deeper red, but her voice was strong. “I am not sure what’s next..I mean how do we? Are you going to kneel or?” A thousand questions flooded through her head and she felt like a newly raised Aes Sedai as apposed to a Sister of near 75 years. Suddenly she was keenly away that she was in her robe and her hair hadn’t had more than a lick and promise of a brush. Why was life never as easy as stories?

 

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With a smirk, Corwin realized that she was as unprepared for this as he was.  Corwin turned his back and waited while the woman went through and get ready.  Corwin knew that the lackey must be getting impatient, but it didn't matter.  After about an hour he found that Eqwina was dressed and ready.  It seemed ridiculous the time, but she was a woman.

 

Turning, Corwin saw she had composed herself more than before.  Without a word Corwin went down to one knee, his right hand gripping one of his blades, while his left was in a fist on the floor helping him balance.  Corwin looked up into Eqwina's eyes as she touched his forehead, and tried not to gasp as the part of his mind he thought had been locked away for years was suddenly blooming.  It was a strange feeling, feeling another person there again.  The hardest thing he had to do was block that part of his mind off once Eleanore had snapped the bond.  He assumed that all of his memories of her and nightmares came from him slacking on blocking that part of his mind.  But now there was a new presence, one that time could only tell what she would bring, and one that he now was tied to harder then ever.

 

Corwin

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A smile broke out on Eqwina’s face when she did not even have to ask Corwin to wait while she got dressed. It was well that he knew how important a moment this would be and it was a measure of her nerves that she did not force him to leave the room. Stripped to the skin she found herself covered in goose bumps, though she thought it had nothing to do with the cold. Her stomach was a flurry of nerves and she felt a little light headed. A decision like this was not to be entered into lightly, but surely after 75 years she was more than ready.

 

Since her favorite silks had been ruined in her attack she chose out a green silk dressed slashed in the skirts with cream. It was of Domani cut, but a thicker material than they ever considered. While she rushed about donning the garment she stole glances at her soon to be warder from the corner of her eye.

 

By the time she was washed, brushed, and dressed barely an hour had passed and she was in far better control of her emotions than she had ever expected to be. A kind of contented calm had settled over her, she felt as if finally her life was coming right.

 

Silently Corwin went to one knee, his eyes locked tight on hers. No more words were spoken, everything had been said, and what was not, no longer mattered. Looking into his eyes she wondered at how she’d ever felt guilt about a man long dead. Her slim fingers trembled as she laid them against his forehead and a small giggle escaped her lips as she realized that this was the only time she had ever touched Corwin that he had not flinched or tied her up in return. All laughter and fond thoughts flew from her head as the weave settled on him.

 

A part of her that had she never used came to life with an explosion of color and feeling. She prodded gently at the ball of emotions that was Corwin and suddenly the secrets behind his grim eyes were open to her. In the few moments of shock that followed the bond, every hurt and every desire flowed from him like a river. In the same instant they were gone. This close she could feel the new calluses forming over the old on his hands and the small bruise just below his ribs; mostly likely where one of her blows had landed. But all his emotions were closed off, as if behind a wall. “How?..” she reached out and laid a hand on his arm squeezing gently. “Don’t close me off Corwin, not so soon. I will never hurt her the way she did” Bending her knees until she was crouched in front of him she leaned in and kissed each of his cheeks. “Thank you Corwin” Her voice was barely a whisper, but it carried all the emotions that were flowing through the bond.

 

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She wanted in, Corwin felt it, and she said as much too.  But one day she would realize he shut himself off from his emotions.  Emotions were what hurt, emotions were what almost cost him his life.  Survival depended on closing himself from his emotions as much as possible, yet now Corwin didn't know if that was needed.  Once he had not closed himself off so much, but would he need to now?

 

Standing up, Corwin went through his mind, searching Eqwina.  He couldn't tell much, but he could tell that she felt some kind of relief.  He didn't know what that was all about, but it wasn't that important.  After a few moments he decided the silence had gone on long enough, Where to now Eqwina Sedai?

 

He didn't know what else to really do, but she must have something needing to be done, especially for one high up in her Ajah.  One thing Corwin had to settle in himself during that hour was that he was going to do some questionable things.  But one thing he had found was that it didn't really matter.  Long ago he had given up on the Light, though he had not gone so far as Eqwina, he still knew this might push him over the edge, though it was an edge that he had been approaching for a long time.

 

Corwin

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