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The New Girl in Town ((Open))


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Sharvani stared desolately at the corner of the inn room that her entire family was occupying.  It was crowded with all but her father present, and her mother was clucking around annoyingly, “It’s such a shame that we couldn’t talk Piava and Inigo didn’t want to join us out here; the whole family could’ve stayed together that way.”  Shar sighed inwardly; there was no point in complaining again that she had wanted to stay with them instead of coming out to this nowhere place in Andor.


“I’m going to go to my temporary workshop, Shar; keep an eye on the boys!” her mother called cheerfully as she departed the room.  The young girl bit her lip and mused, <i>”Why did nanny have to go and stay back home?  Why am I stuck having to watch the boys?!”</i>  Her head turned slightly to catch sight of her brothers playing in the cramped space between the beds.  They had acquired some sticks, and were pretending to be fierce warriors, as young boys often did.  And, of course, with mother out of the room, they chose to jump onto the beds and pretend they were fighting over a river.


“Stop it, you two!” Shar growled, spinning to face them, “Even if these are not our own beds, that doesn’t mean you two can go hopping around on them like madmen!”


“But Shar,” Rio protested, “We’re bored.  There’s nothing to do in this room!”


“Well, go play outside or something; I don’t care,” she countered, turning back to stare at the wall.


“Momma gonna be mad if you aren’t watching us!  She told you to watch us, and we don’t want to stay inside!” little Cid complained, eying his stick sword thoughtfully.


“And you’ve not left the room except to bathe since we got here a couple of days ago, Shar!” Rio spoke, bouncing over to his sister, “I want to go see what there is around here, and you’re going to take us.”  He started tugging at her hand, and laughed in delight when Cid ran over and grabbed Shar’s other hand.


Glaring daggers, she ripped her hands free of her brothers’ smaller hands and turned to face them again, “Well, I am simply not interested in exploring this cesspit of madmen that Father’s fancy has dragged us into.  I would much prefer to stay here until they see sense and send me back to So Habor to live with Paiva.”


Cid’s bottom lip began to tremble; an old presage to tears.  Sighing, she bent down and hugged him tightly, “Hush Cid, hush… I guess we can go right outside the inn and you two can run around.  Would that be okay for now?”  A bright smile dawned on his small face as he nodded emphatically, and she couldn’t help but smile in response. 


Standing, she went to her chest and fished out her small hand mirror.  In spite of her self-chosen confinement, she had still taken care of herself – her chin-length hair was neatly held back with a headband, and the red around her eyes was pretty much faded from the first couple days of non-stop tears.  Her dress was finely embroidered green wool, as was fitting for a well-off Altaran girl, and was accented by a low-slung belt & pouch dyed to match.  She checked to make sure her dagger was belted on as well; she didn’t know anyone, and had heard some of the queerest stories about outlander men and their ideas of propriety.


Nodding in satisfaction, she turned to her brothers, who were snickering to each other.  “What’s so funny?” she demanded; a flash of anger flickered in her eyes as she eyed the little boys.  “Oh, nothing Shar, nothing,” Rio sniggered, only to be cut off by Cid, “Can we go outside now?!”  Sighing in frustration, she stalked to the other side of the room and held the door open.  Gesturing grandly yet sardonically, she had to bite back a small laugh as the two youngsters ran out of the room screaming happily.  Shar rolled her eyes, and closed the door behind them.


Once outside the inn (and convincing the innkeeper that no one was dying, but that the boys were very happy), she grabbed their hands to keep them from running off and spoke forcefully, “I am going to sit down here on this bench, and you two can go as crazy as you want... as long as you stay where I can see you.  Bad enough I have to play nursemaid, but it’s going to be death if I have to explain to Mother why one of you dolts has gone and vanished.”


The boys eyed each other and gulped slightly, but were back to their swordplay in a flash.  Whooping, screaming and laughing, the boys darted around in front of the inn.  Shar rolled her eyes and sighed, <i>”If only I could be so easily distracted…”</i>  Biting her lip, she tried to not think about anything at all, lest she start crying again.




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"Easy there, they won't hurt themselves." Covai commented as he sat down next to the girl. Altaran unless he missed his guess. Probably new to the Black Tower as well. Cute enough, if a little bit on the mopey side. The dagger wasn't exactly an open invite either. "You might want to avoid the phrase 'go crazy' as well, it tends to make people a bit on edge around here."


Purposely busying himself with looking at something, Covai was pretty sure he should be glad he missed whatever the expression on her face was. She's probably new to the Tower, shouldn't bee too hard on her i guess.. Stretching his arms above his head as he leant back, Covai felt himself connect with something behind him.



Next thing he knew he was lying on his back with his feet in the air, a bowl in each hand a loaf of bread stuck in his mouth. Blinking in surprise, Covai could see the serving girl clutching the tray to her chest, about to pass out from fright by paleness in her face. Fortunatley the loaf of bread stopped a grin from appearing across his face. The fright has done her enough. If she thought a Storm Leader had litteraly gone mad at her she's likely pass out then and then.


Closing his eyes to calm himself for a moment, Covai embraced the source and embraced Saidin. Pushing past the taint he formed a small dome around the top of each bowl in the shape of a sphere. Biting down on the loaf he thrust his hands upwards, brining his legs down rapidly at the same time to bring himself back up to his feet.


He caught the first bowl easily enough, but the second one bounced off his shoulder and required another leap of faith before he managed to catch the base of it. He knew if it weren't for the weave he had created his face almost certainly be covered with food by that stage. That or it would be all over the ground.


Eyeing the food, Covai was surprised to see slivers of beef mixed with slivers of peppers, onions, and a few other things he hadn't learnt the name of yet. Looked like the trip he and Arath had made to Arad Doman had paid off. The food was a nightmare to eat with those funny 'sursa' or whatever is was that they were called, but it was worth it. He'd have to have a word with the inn staff later to find who the new cook was.



The sound of hands clapping brought him back to his senses. The two boys were standing in front of him clapping like he was a preforming Gleeman. Light, I suppose after that little performance all I'm missing is the cape.... Shrugging the thought from his mind, Covai palmed the thought from his mind. Checking before he sat back down, he offered the second bowl to the girl. "Hungry? It's still good, I managed not to drop any."

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Shar didn't even have time to retort at the bold stranger who plopped down next to her, since he seemed to not understand balance, and immediately fell over.  Raising an eyebrow, she turned around to her brothers, "That sort of behavior," she gestured behind her towards the fallen figure as she spoke quietly, "Is not appropriate behavior for a gentleman.  But still, I guess we should <i>probably</i> get someone to see to him, idiot or not."


Herding the boys back into the inn, she sat them at the nearest table and cornered the first person she could find.  This happened to be a serving girl, but the young Altaran woman politely explained about the idiot man outside who had fallen over and smacked his head, and could someone please assist him?  The serving girl nodded and scurried off.  Sighing softly, Shar pulled up a chair next to her brothers.


“I’m sorry you had to see someone hurt himself,” she said with a frown, “We can go back outside if you want to keep playing after they take care of him.”  Rio and Cid nodded, and squirmed in their seats.  They were definitely at that age where sitting still was the worst punishment that could be inflicted upon them, but knowing that this wasn’t their own home, they knew that acting out of line would be a quick way to upset their parents.  Still, having to keep a literal eye on them or not, she wished she had brought a book down.


She sat there as the minutes passed, watching as the boys started to squirm more and more in their chairs.  Grumbling, she stood back up, “I’m going to peek outside and see if they’ve taken that man off for treatment.  DON’T MOVE!”  Giving them a sharp glare, she nodded curtly and stepped to the door to peer out…


And immediately stepped backwards as the silly man who had injured himself was carted in on thin air itself and dumped unceremoniously on the ground.  Stiffening, she turned back to the boys, who were peering with great interest.  “Perhaps we should go back upstairs…” she started, trailing off as their peers turned into gapes. 


Turning around, a different serving woman stood by in fright as the man on the ground had somehow acquired two bowls of food and a loaf shoved in his mouth.  <i>“What in the Light?!” </i> Shar exclaimed to herself as she took a few steps backwards.  Suddenly, the bowls were in the air, and the strange man was… juggling?!


Shaking her head, she suddenly noticed that her brothers had dashed in front of her and were clapping like silly fools.  Before she could drag them upstairs, the strange man spoke, “Hungry?”  He offered up one of the bowls, “It’s still good; I managed not to drop any.”


She blinked, grabbing her brothers by the arm and taking a few paces backwards, “No… no... I’m not hungry… and if you’re not crazy yet, you’re surely on the way there, sir!”  Shooting him a defiant glance, she dropped Cid’s arm and clenched a dagger’s hilt in her fist.  The poor fool was probably not going to harm them, but she wasn’t in the mood for any funny business at that exact moment.


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Covai rolled his eyes as the room started to go quiet. "You really should learn not to use the word crazy around here girl." He mumbled as people paused from the meals. A glance from him was fortunately all it took for people to busy themselves back in their mugs though. Palming the two bowls off to the boys, Covai ran his fingers through his hair as he sat down. "Take a seat." He said, motioning to the chair opposite. When the girl just stood there holding the hilt of the dagger Covai's eyes and voice hardened. "I said sit."


Easing off when she finally sat, Covai just sighed and shook his head. "Look, I know you must be new here, so let me repeat myself. Do not use the word crazy around here. Take it as a warning or piece of of friendly advice, but you'll find it will make things a lot easier for you around here. Secondly, feel free to keep that dagger of yours, but if you walk around clutching it like that everywhere, you're like as not to start a fight. And considering that's exactly what people around here train for each day, I don't really like your chances of winning."


Covai paused when noticed the boys had started to paying attention to the conversation. He couldn't help but blink at how they had already managed to finish the bowls of food though. Glancing around for something to distract them, he was lucky to spot on the the older serving ladies who worked at the inn. "Do you think you could rumage some sweet rolls for these two boys? I think they could do with a bit of a treat."


Turning to the girl, Covai extended the invite. "You sure you're not hungry?"

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The dice bounced across the table as Valeran rubbed at his thick Saldaean mustache with the thumb and forefinger of his left hand.  Always his left hand, his right was for his sword.  Touches of grey shown in his mustache as well as above his ears.  The stress of losing his wife was visible.  His high necked black coat showed a sword on the collar naming him one of the Dedicated.


The din in the common room was loud enough that he could not hear the rattle of the dice.  Men cheered though he did not look at the table.  His eyes were fixed on the girl and the Storm Leader.  The girl with the chin length brown hair in the finely embroidered green dress who was holding a dagger as if she meant to use it.  Valeran stepped from the table making his way towards the girl and the Storm Leader.  Those at the table hailed him though he gave them no notice.  Surely Storm Leader Covai could handle this but a little help might not go amiss.


As he was halfway there he heard the girl's words and winced, the fool girl was in over her head.  The silence was deafening as everyone stared at the girl.  Most dismissed it when they spotted the Storm Leader speaking with her though others glared at her openly.  This had the potential to go very bad for her.  As he neared the pair their words were audible and he followed the Storm Leader's eyes to the two boys.  He heard him call to the serving girl to find them some sweet rolls. 


Valeran knelt his bulky frame on one knee to speak with the boys handing them each a few coins.  In moments they were bursting through the door eager to complete the task he assigned them.  Using the boys absence he turned to the girl then bowed which was surprisingly graceful for a man of his bulk.  The girl glared at him obviously wondering where he had sent the boys.  Valeran's usual perpertual frown was gone, it was replaced by a face that could be considered fatherly.  He had no children of his own, his wife could not bear them though he had dozens of nieces and nephews.  The men who formerly served under would not believe him capable of such a warm face. 


When he spoke his voice was low so that only the girl and the Storm Leader could hear, his tone was meant to be comforting.  He was nearly forty now so hopefully she saw him as an elder and not a madman.  "My Lady, I assure you that Storm Leader Covai is an honorable and just man.  If you will not trust him then perhaps you will trust me.  I swear on the grave of my wife may she rest in peace that you will not be harmed, but you must put that dagger away.  I would also advise you to watch your choice of words.  I stand surety for your safety and for the boys, but I caution you to choose your words and actions wisely."  Again he offered her a warm smile.


Valeran's eyes went to the door as the boys hustled back into the common room each proclaiming how their choice of apples were better than the others.  Luckily they had not wondered on why he had sent them to the street vendor for the apples when he could have gotten them from the kitchen here.  Valeran smiled at the boys as he pointed to an adjacent table before turning back to the girl.  "I will keep the boys entertained while you two talk."  This time he bowed his head as he spoke to Storm Leader Covai, "My apologies for the interruption Storm Leader", he felt a bow was more suited than a salute at the moment. 


Valeran made his way to the adjacent table where the oys were waiting with looks of eagerness on their faces.  "Alright boys lets see what you brought me.  Very well done," He said examing the apples "excellent choices, you both did well."  Theys tried to give back the coins they had left over though he told them to pocket the coins as payment for their help.  Their faces lit up as they made the coins disappear.  Choosing three of the apples he began to juggle them.  He was no gleeman but his juggling was passable, at times it had helped him pass the idle hours.  He continued juggling then played a game with upturned mugs until the maid returned with the sweet rolls.  Occasionally he spared a glance for the girl and the Storm Leader hoping things were going well...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sitting down, Shar narrowed her eyes at the older man, <i>”Who under the Light is <b>he</b> to tell me what to do and not do?!” </i>  She started to blush regardless; even her father never dressed her down like this, and in front of her brothers at that?!  Admonishment about not clenching her dagger or not, she continued to glare hotly at this stranger.


He must have noticed her anger, this strange man, because before she knew it, she was trying to distract her brothers from listening in, <i>”He must not have had any siblings to not know that they’ll <b>always</b> listen in to this sort of thing!” </i> Still, she felt perversely grateful, if still not comfortable with the situation.


Her eyes grew wide as another man intercepted her brothers before wandering over to where she was sitting.  Giving him a hard stare, she wondered where her brothers were off to, and would have asked had she not been interrupted, "My Lady, I assure you that Storm Leader Covai is an honorable and just man.  If you will not trust him then perhaps you will trust me.  I swear on the grave of my wife may she rest in peace that you will not be harmed, but you must put that dagger away.  I would also advise you to watch your choice of words.  I stand surety for your safety and for the boys, but I caution you to choose your words and actions wisely."


The rest of the man’s words were lost as what he said sunk in, “<i>Storm.. Leader?!  Oh Light, did I pick the wrong person to call crazy!” </i> She shot Covai a slightly incredulous look across the table, and managed a wavering smile for the gentleman who was running off with her siblings.


Shar carefully moved both of her hands to the top of the table and did her best to refrain from tapping.  She continued to look at Covai with incredulity in her eyes, but said nothing.  After a long moment, she lowered her gaze and muttered, “Could’ve mentioned that you were one of the ma… men in charge of this place, rather than letting me make a fool of myself.”  She sighed, and raised her eyes slowly, “And I <i>do</i> apologize for my rudeness, I’m just… I’m just not very happy, mind you.  After all, how would you feel if you’d been uprooted to be a babysitter for your siblings?  Me, a woman grown <i>‘well, nearly’</i> who had plans for her life.  But did my parents care?  Noooo.”


Shaking her head, she spotted her brothers and smiled in mild relief, “Not that you’re probably particularly interested in the homesickness of the daughter of a man who couldn’t make the cut, I’m sure.”


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