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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Some days


Corwin
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It had been some time since he had went into Tar Valon... since he had returned from his trip before Eqwina had spent only enough time with him to make it clear she didn't want to see him for a long time.  At first he listened and mostly because he had told her he would be better, but also he knew what she was capable of.  If she needed time then he was willing to give her space.  Thus, if she wanted him away from Tar Valon he was willing to give it, however, the situation was much more difficult since he had told her he wasn't going to leave anymore.  Thus if he went too far he could be seen as leaving her and breaking his word, but if he stayed too close he would be seen as not honoring her wishes and being too clingy.  Though their personal relationship had taken a more personal turn, it had become all the more complicated and rocky, and he was not going to seem to her as one that constantly needed her.

 

So Corwin stayed a bit outside the city and bid his time.  The countryside was rather dull, so he spent his days training and meditating.  With plenty of uncultivated land outside of the island, it wasn't hard to tell when someone was near and to locate elsewhere till they passed.  After time though, the life got dull.  The thought began to set in that perhaps Eqwina wanted this to be a more permanent situation.  While that seemed odd since they were bonded and she could have just as easily released his bond, but for some reason she chose things to be complicated.  Sometimes she just made no sense to him.  He knew he wasn't the easiest to be around, he rarely backed down and refused to plan his life around her, yet he would feel so many mixed thoughts when it came to dealing with her.  Part of him wanted to end it all, but part of him also didn't want to give up what was between them.  It was a battle he had no idea which side would win, but he knew that whichever side won, he would need to adjust for a while before he felt comfortable with the decision.  Sometimes the end it all side was winning, and though he though that made the most rational sense, he was ultimately a creature of impulse and rational thought only went so far before he knew that the deciding factor was going to be his heart.  But was he really willing to let that guide him?  Was he really ready to just let go?  He had no answer... and the fact he had none bothered him.  After days and weeks of meditating and trying to examine the situation as much as he could, and as objectively as he could, he was beginning to find that this was a question he really had no answer to.  Logically it was all wrong, she was a Dark Friend, plain and simple, and he didn't think he could ever sell his soul, yet she was the only one he had found that could get past his walls.  No matter how thick he made them, no matter how often he threw them up, she always found a way around them, and for her they would always crumble.

 

One day he decided that his time outside the Island had been long enough, and went into the city.  She would know the moment he came from the bond if not informants as well.  As Corwin came across the bridge, no Guard thought to question him.  His shorter hair was a newer thing, but the guards all knew he was a Warder, but also there was enough mystery about him since he was a hermit within the Yards that the Guards only watched from afar.  Finding a nearby hotel, he got a room on the second floor and put enough things blow his bed that any blade or other weapon she may shove from the floor into his room would be stopped.  He doubted she would murder him when he was so close, but her anger was enough that he was unsure.  She was Black after all, and not only that, she was the Head-Black-Ajah-whatever, and he wasn't going to test her too much at first.  As he expected, she came, but she remained on the first floor.  Clearly there was something they both wished not to do, come directly to the other.  After some time he felt amusement, then annoyance.  Either she found some kind of game she wanted him to come into, or she was annoyed he wouldn't come the rest of the way to her.  After some time the annoyance grew, and Corwin decided to go for a walk instead around the City.  However, shortly after he left he felt Eqwina growing closer.  This close he could feel the worry, thus Corwin changed his course to say near enough that if any trouble happened he would be able to help.  That was just job after all.  As her path went to the Tower, he wondered if she was instead baiting him into something.  So after a bit, he decided to beat her to the place she was probably going, her rooms.

 

Walking through the Tower, Corwin received a few looks, but that was probably because he had been away when Eqwina had obviously still been around.  It didn't matter though, what was done, was done, and Corwin was never one to care much what the other Aes Sedai thought.  Finding Eqwina's quarters, he waited until she decided she wanted to speak to him.  This close, the bond would let her know exactly where he was and all of his thoughts as well, thus he kept his emotions as blank as possible.

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Leaving the young cub to find his own way to his Mistress’ den Eqwina headed into the Tower and towards the Yellow Ajah Quarters. Her eyes cut constantly to the sides, searching every object or shadow large enough to hide a mouse. She was so focused on her vigilant watch that she didn’t realized that the object of her discomfort had ‘come home’. Since banishing Corwin from her rooms and the Tower she’d moved to another floor on the top gallery of the Yellow Ajah quarters. Her suite was at the farthest end of the hall, and had two large bronze doors. Those upper rooms had not been used in years, but clearly once they had been for someone important. As head of her Ajah no one questioned her move, and in fact a few other followed suit. Moving up to levels seldom used, many moving up to the highest floor; though none moved within several rooms of her own.  She’d been glad of the solitude, but now she almost wished a few of her Sister’s were closer.

 

Stopping at the top of the last stair she stared down the long hallway into the faint light beside her doors. Slipping her dagger from her belt she tucked it up into her voluminous sleeve. Corwin was sure to notice the second she stepped into the room, but it made her feel safer. Rolling back her shoulders and tossed her black hair from her face she began a straight backed walk down the hall; trying to formulate what she would say.

 

Their last encounter had been far from pleasant, and had led to her banishing him. She’d been rash, so like her, and now the price had to be paid. It didn’t matter that at the time she’d not know what else to do. The man would argue with her at the drop of a hat and make her life a living hell, all made worse when sudden emotions had been brought into the mix”Phaw! I sit in the highest position in my Ajah, and I am worried  she injected the word with scorn. “about my warder.” Her words were an inaudible mutter, not able to be heard a few steps away, but saying them out loud had helped to renew her confidence.

 

As the large polished doors drew within her reach, Eqwina cleared her mind and was serenity incarnate. Still her thumbs checked the edge of her dagger. The golden door swung inward and she was staring into the hardest…. Greenest eyes she’d ever seen. Had they grown more so since she’d sent him away?

 

“Corwin, how good to see you.” Her own green eyes locked on his and she barely breathed. It felt like she’d been kicked in the stomach. The moment she’d been so desperately trying to avoid was upon her. Eqwina was wary, and rightly so; he’d been accounted a danger man and was no less for since they bonded.

 

“I would offer you wine but I do not think you’re here for a friendly chat. So..tell me why you’ve come?” Keeping her eyes on him she found her chair and took her time settling her skirts.

 

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Corwin could feel her coming closer and also felt the fear and anxiety.  Part of him was gratified from it, but that was the part that wanted to end everything was well.  Once he recognized this, he realized just how much he didn't like parts of who he was, since the other part of his saw it as a very sad thing that she would fear him so.  Once she entered and he saw the awkward way she was holding her hand and realized she was armed, well he realized just how sad of a situation it was between them.  The fact he had sworn to protect her, yet she still didn't feel safe around him?  Their situation was pathetic and needed to be fixed.  But at the same time, torn as he was, any attempt to fix things more than likely wouldn't turn out well.

 

“I would offer you wine but I do not think you’re here for a friendly chat. So..tell me why you’ve come?”

 

She kept her eyes on him the whole time, and Corwin realized just how little she trusted him.  He felt the irritation building and knew she would know just how irritated he was, yet she wouldn't realize about what.  Before he could bite back the comment, he felt himself letting his emotions show, I came to speak with my Aes Sedai, but I see that mine left with my banishment.  If you find the woman who once trusted me and wanted to be around me, then send her my way.  But since you seem scared to even be around me, I'll releave you of my presence.  Corwin rose to leave frustrated at himself for saying what he did and at their situation.

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“Stop!” Her voice rang loud and clear and this time it didn’t take flows of air to bind him. With a loud ‘thunk’ she drove the dagger into the small side table next to her chair. “I only took that as a weapon because I promised myself I would not use Saidar to bind you ever again.” Pulling her hand away from the quivering  hilt she folded them primly in her lap. “You are correct, I do not trust as I once did, but trust is always a shallow thing in my world.”

 

“You give yourself too little credit if you assume I have nothing to fear. You may know that you mean me no harm, but how do I? Who can say what hides in the depths of the heart of a man scorned? Our last meeting was not pleasant Corwin, and I have always been a woman to take precautions; another must in my world.”

 

“You may go now, if you wish, but I think you came here for more than a few angry words.” Eqwina’s voice was crystalline calm, but he would be able to feel the torrent of emotions running through her. There was anger, a remnant from their last fight, and fear, small but tightly controlled, and buried under it all…pain. She’d not felt pain over any human life since Nevin died and didn’t think she ever would again. Now someone had managed to worm their way into her black heart. Even to herself Eqwina could not say that it was love, or even lust, all she knew was that she would very much regret his death.

 

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Corwin stood there staring at her, he couldn't think of much else to do for the first few moments.  He had let his emotions get the best of him, and she always seemed to drag them out of him, good and bad.  That was one thing the pride in him hated, his self control of his emotions he knew he had and he.... prided... himself in having, it flew out the window most any time she was around.

 

You think I would try to harm you while we are bonded together?  Not even I am that rash.  As to what hides in the depths of my heart you know exactly what is there.  I have told you, but just because it's there doesn't mean I let it rule me.  While it may be unchanging, it is buried under self control.  You may be able to see blow the surface, but I doubt you ever notice what is really down there, because of the other things masking your way to seeing it.  You are right though, I did come for more than angry words.  I came to know why you continue to banish me while we are bonded and find out when this banishment will end.

 

There wasn't much he could do but wait for her reply, but he felt after her emotions and regained control of his.  He wasn't going to let his frustration get the best of him.

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Eqwina arched her eyebrow and her hand twitched for the dagger.  This time out of anger, not fear. “Do you truly think me so blind? Its seems you and I have done nothing but underestimate each other since we’ve bonded. Often times I think we were better off when I was Aes Sedai and you Tower Guard. At least then you held on to some measure of respect.”

 

“Were you not my Warder I would have killed you long sense for the attitude you’ve shown. So often  you throw my status and choice of life style in my face. I will have no more of it.” Embracing Saidar she wove a  ward against eaves dropping  around the room. “I am the head of the Black Ajah and with that title should come respect, even from you. “

 

Saidar helped to rein in her temper and keep her voice level and calm. “ I see you Corwin, I see all of you, but I think you try to deny it because if I did truly see into your heart why would I treat you this way? Is that not it? Tell me if I am wrong. I believe you want to see me as some sort of a monster so you don’t have to admit that you care for a woman who’s heart his cold and black. Well I am what I am! And I would not turn back for all the promises of gold, or riches, or true love in the world. I made my choice all those years ago and that is one fact about me that will…never..change.”

 

“You ask about your banishment? It is as much self imposed as it is my doing. So why not turn that question to yourself?”

 

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You think I have no no respect for you?  I bent to no one before and now I've begun taking your orders.  While you may view that banishment partially self-imposed, I stayed out there because you told me to.  I never would have obeyed an order like that before, but did what you asked because of your station.  I know you're capable of more than I can imagine... and I can imagine a lot.  And no, I don't think that.  I think that because of how things work out, not your treatment, but the situation in general.  I think this situation would be different if we both weren't so stubborn.  But because of our tempers we get carried away and the situations like the banishment happen.  You say we were better off like we were before the bond, I think we underestimate each other because we both have too much pride.  Why do you think I came to you instead of running or waiting until you came to me.  I've sacrificed my pride.

 

He didn't know how it would over with her.  It was a lot of attacks in a way because she was just as prideful as he was.  While it wasn't completely true he had sacrificed his pride, there were still parts holding on, he had taken large steps in forcing himself to consider Eqwina his equal in every way and was beginning to come to terms with her being his superior in others.

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As she shook her head, Corwin stood there as she walked up to him and slapped his face.  He had insulted a core part of her, it was a gamble he was willing to take though.  Apparently it pushed her over the edge, for when she pushed him away he felt her fade.  She suddenly wasn't there in his head and he knew just what had been done.  But what was done, was done.  She wouldn't have done it without considerable thought and Corwin knew his course of action.  It was something he had meditated on for long weeks while he was away.

 

Leaving her quarters he could only think of the loses in his life.  But that all snapped away and suddenly he could also only think of the reasons she would have had to take away the bond.  He had left her many times, and had been less then reasonable with her.  When it came to things between them, he could understand why she had decided things needed to end.  He had left her, and he knew it hurt her, even after when she said things were fine and their relationship had taken it's intimate turn.  But it seemed the closer they got the harder their relationship was.  Thus the seemingly endless fights before he left/was banished.  Perhaps it wasn't all his fault, since every relationship has two people to contribute issues, but he certainly bore the majority of the blame.  Ever since his first real bond fell apart he had shut himself off.  In a way he never was really bonded to her because he never let her in.  He never could quite give her everything, and perhaps that was what she was wanting, and that was why they fought so much.  Maybe she did see more of him than he liked to think.

 

He liked to think of himself as a loner, but when it really came down to it, as much as he pushed his own daughter away, pushed the other Warders and Tower Guards away to the point he had solidarity, and pushed even his Sedai away, he really did want those people around.  The irony of him was that he loved the woman he had been pushing away and scared to let in.  But what was done had to be accepted.  Maybe if he had done things different they would still be bonded and together, but there were an endless amount of "if"s.

 

As he reached his clearing, he knew that the time had come to move on from everything.  If he could have gone back, he would have changed it all, but there was no point dwelling on that.  In some ways he was going to miss the screaming and fighting.  It was an odd thing to miss, but the passion that came from her during those times was unlike any other time.  It was when he really knew he meant something to her, when she would get so frustrated she wanted to tear her hair out, or his heart.  Things always seemed like they would be able to be mended, but perhaps she just got tired of waiting for him to let her in.

 

Pulling out his belt-knife, Corwin sat on his hammock and contemplated the beauty of the life he had had while he was her Gaidin, as much as he kept it hidden from her and didn't show it to anyone else for that matter, it was some of the best times, even the fights.  Taking a breath, Corwin traced the eternal smile to his throat in one swift motion, though a terribly awkward one, and he felt the permanent darkness grow and take over him.

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