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Rescue me! Attn: Dr. Dull:)


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Arala moved her hand to rest on the hilt of her sword and was irritated to remember that it wasn't there. She didn't need it, of course, she was just taking a quick trip into town to replace it, actually. But still, she did not like having it. She was a creature of habit, and besides, it made her look tough.


She and a fellow der'Algai had gotten a bit rowdy after a few rounds and decided drunken sparring in the mud would be great fun. An errant blow nearly opened her belly and nicked her belt enough that it was useless. At the time, she and her companions had thought it hilarious, mostly because she was forced to spend the rest of the night tugging at her too-lose trousers, but once she sobered up, it wasn't quite so funny. She was also quite greatful for not having to carry her intestines anywhere in her hands.


Never one for dresses, even in her off-duty time, Arala wore a dark coat and breeches tucked into her polished boots. She looked alright, but she felt like she had been kicked in the head a few times. Drinking was great fun while one was doing it, but after was another story. The soft clicking of her braids was like nails being driven into her skull, but she did her best to ignore the pain.


Arala walked slowly in her condition, and was only just reaching the empty training grounds despite having been on the move for nearly ten minutes. At this hour, the grounds were deserted as everyone was eating in the mess hall. Arala would have joined them but her stomach threatened retribution should she even try. She was pondering maybe going back for a roll or something equally as bland when she heard a voice behind her.


"I'd know those beads anywhere. Why, its my sweeth..."


"Stop it, Ren. I've already told you no more times than I can count. I'm starting to get angry about having to repeat myself. Now run along, I'm in no mood," she yelled back at the Inquisitor without bothering to turn her head, half out of disgust, but also half so she wouldn't get dizzy.


"Always were a nasty trolop," she heard Ren yell back. Well that was new. Apparently you reject a man enough times and he gets mean. If she had been feeling better, she'd probably stop and give him what for, but as it was she had business and wanted to be done with it.


"Shut up," was all she yelled. Then her breath caught.


"I told you the chit wasn't worth the attention," se heard another voice say.


"Too small if you ask me. Could toss her around like a rag doll, I'd think. Almost too easy,"


That got her. She spun around, getting a bit dizzy, but ignoring the feeling.


"Nobody is tossing anyone around, you fat lump," she said addressing the one she thought had mentioned it. He really was huge. How someone like that could make it through training she didn't know. Of course, he was probably one of the Hand like Ren was, those lazy bastards. "And as for the rest of you, I said run along. I'm not looking for company this morning."


The three moved in around her and again Arala felt herself move for her weapon and miss. Stupid drunken antics! Instead she settled for eyeing each one in turn. Surely they were only trying to get a rise out of her and there was no way she would let them. Still, they were getting close. She really didn't like people, strangers especially, near her.


"Alright, thats enough," she said finally, a serious expression tightening her rosebud mouth. "Move."


It happened so fast that the small girl had no time to block the fist that came towards one of her cheeks. She also had not been expecting it so the blow knocked her off balance and on to the ground. Before she knew it, two of them had hauled her up and were restraining her arms while Ren stood in front of her, cracking his knuckles. Arala sneered. Light burn her if she was going to show an fear. Worst they could do was rough her up.


"Is that supposed to scare me?" Ren didn't bother to answer as he hit her again, this time, harder Despite her best effort not to, Arala cried out. She hoped the trio hadn't noticed the note of fear her yelp had carried.

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Making his way out of the mess hall, Con smiled inwardly as he watched those that were lined up as far as the door grumbling about the wait. He always tried to get in a bit early before everyone else, it meant that he could get some time along in the training halls before others got there. Ever since he had returned from his expedition, and Arette, he had begun to take students again. Not officially of course, but people that were interested in his fighting techniques could seek him out for advice. While most of them were from his own company, there were others amongst them. Even a couple of Inquisitors were amongst their number, the most surprising of all Inquisitor Diego. The man had been one of those most ardently trying to trip him up, yet since the night where the phantoms of Black Ajah had roamed the halls, that had changed.


Or it was a trick, but Con lost nothing from teaching, and it was no longer painful either. Training people... it brought back a host of bad memories, but he was able to balance them out now with the good. Even some acceptance of what had happened, as much as it hurt him to do so. But those concerns were from another life where he had served different masters, and he'd payed homage to the white teardrop rather than the golden sunburst.


Hearing a muffled sound, Con paused. Another, perhaps a moan from the training hall? Jogging the last few feet to the door, he walked inside and what he saw made his blood run cold. Two men were holding a woman between them, a third was laying into her. He knew them, Inquisitor Rendal and Arala from the der'algai. "Stop!"


Running forward, the pair of men let the woman fall limp as they turned with Inquisitor Rendal to face him, the shepher'd crook on all of them. Con stopped only a couple of paces short of them. Light, but there was blood on her hair, and on Inquisitor Rendal's fists. "What by the Light do you be doing?"


"I could ask you the same thing, witch-lover". Ren sneered, not even bothering to explain the awkward position Con had found him and his companions in.


Narrowing his eyes, Con calmed his impulse to break the man on the spot. The last thing he needed was trouble with the Hand, but at the same time he wasn't going to leave Arala there. He'd seen Inquisitor Rendal and heard him after Arala for at least the past few weeks since he'd been back, and others told it had been happening for longer. There was menace to his words as he spoke. "This do no be a questioning. Leave."


"You no be deciding what constitutes questioning," Ren said, mocking Con's accent with a laugh. "As a matter of fact, you're interefering with official Hand business." He made a gesture that spurred the other two to move on Con.


Throwing his blade on the ground, the clatter it made caused the two to pause, giving Con enough time to speak. "I no be supposing you do be having a warrant do you? If you do be on official Hand business then you do be having one. No? Then do be leaving while you still be able to."


"I wouldn't need a warrent for you," Ren spat. "Perhaps you are the one who should leave while you still can."


"You no be having the authority to while I do be under the protection of the Lord Captain Commander, and you no be having grounds for it." Con had weighed the three, at this point either it would be resolved peacefully or violently, most likely the latter. Truth be told, he liked the idea of the latter, Arala had barely stirred from where she was on the ground the entire time, she couldn't be in a good way at all.


"I do not serve Goldren and his lame-duck edicts mean nothing to me," Ren said. And then to his companions, "take him."


They didn't even go for their swords as they tried to take him. Jumping to the left, Con snagged an outstretched arm with his left and yanking forward, swung his right arm to chop into the man's throat. Falling on the ground, the man clutched at his throat trying to breath. Leveling a kick into the man's head while he was down, the inquisitor was out of the fight.


The other ran at Con, trying to use his weight to batter him down. Stepping forward as he thrust his palm forward and up, he caught the second man under the chin and he swung backwards, his head hitting the ground with a crack. Hearing a hiss, Con turned and ducked almost slowly underneath the path of Ribbon in the Air.


Snatching Inquisitor Rendal's sword arm, Con loosed an uppercut just under the man's ribs, winding him. Holding him up by the arm as the man fell down to his knees, Con proceeded to break the man's nose with his fist and the man's ankle with a full hearted stomp.


Turning back to the larger of the men, the man was already on his feet and running out the door. Most likely to fetch a few more fellow inquisitors, but it didn't matter. Leaving the pair of inquisitors left on the ground and in no state to do anything other than lie there, Con walked over to Arala. She'd manage to lever herself up during the fight, and creator help him but her face looked like a mess.


Kneeling down next to her, Con winced as he cleared her braids aside and got a closer look. They hadn't held back a bit, blasted thugs. "If you can be managing it, we do be needing to head to the infirmary. I'd be bringing help here, but I no be thinking you want to be here when more of the Hand arrive, too many people in the infirmary for them to be doing what they wish."



Con Stavros

Child of the Light

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Arala tried to focus on the blurry face of whoever had cleared her braids from her swollen face but had no luck. Luckily the accent gave it away. Despite her general distaste for the man, she was really quite glad to see Con.


"Yeah," she said, steeling herself for the attempt to get to her feet. "Knowing Ren, he’ll come back with the entire Hand if that’s what it takes. Bloody a-" she cut herself off, reluctant to swear in front of the stoic man for some reason. Well, reluctant to swear any more than she already had.


"Be putting your arm over my shoulder then." Slipping an arm around her so his hand rested under the armpit on the otherside of her, he lifted her up gently. Making their way to the door, they were into the hall and on their way to the infirmary. The first person they came across Con called to help him, though he didn't recognise the Child.


It wasn't long before they reached the infirmary, though Arala wasn't sounding any better by the time they got there. At least she was quickly seen to, laid down on a bed and was having her face cleaned up. Taking up a stool, Con sat down next to her as the attendant worked away. "If it no be hurting too much, can you be telling me why they do be attacking you?"


"He’s been after me for…something. You’d have to ask him what exactly. But whatever it is, I’ve made it clear my answer is no." She winced as a particularly deep cut got some attention. "You know the type. Can’t take rejection. So I suppose this was my repayment." She tried to sneer but found it too painful and instead contented her self with a mild frown, the best she could seem to manage.


The attendant paused for a moment as he realised that there was more going on with this than a training mishap. Gesturing for him to continue, Con turned to the unnamed Child with simple orders.


"You do be needing to find Lord Captain Milah and informing him of what do be happening. Run." The old edge of command that he had once possessed came easily when it was required, and even if the other Child wouldn't have done it due to Arala's story, the voice had him running. Turning back to Arala, he placed a gentle hand on her shoulder as he spoke. "I no be going anywhere, no doubt we do be having visitors soon enough."


Arala nodded. She wasn’t scared, she told herself. Just angry. But in truth, the attack had shaken her up a bit. Until now she had always felt like she could take care of herself in any situation. She had started training for taking on multiple opponents a few months ago and was progressing quite well with dividing her attention, but this morning, it just hadn’t been instinct yet. Everything happened so fast. She didn’t know what worried her more, the impending return of Ren and his friends, or the fact that perhaps she wasn’t as ready for battle as she had originally thought. She looked at Con for a long while. It was sort of ironic that he would be the one to happen upon her. Given her past behavior towards him, would have made more sense for him to get in a punch or two himself.


"Thank you," she said, finding the words both awkward and sincere at the same time.


Giving her shoulder a reassuring squeeze, Con didn't say anything as there was no need to, besides the attendant needed to work on her. Arala was almost cleaned up by the time the infirmary had new visitors, yet they weren't the ones that Con had been looking for. Shepherd's crooks on every single one of them, fifteen in all including the fat man that had managed to run away. Across the Infirmary a hush fell as they made their way along the beds as they approached Con and Arala. Telling the attendant to keep working, Con got tohis feet and stepped into the aisle, blocking the way of the Inquisitors to her bed.


Arala brushed away the attendant’s busy hands despite Con’s instructions for her to continue. She sat up straight as the column of inquisitors entered and probably would have tried to stand if she believed there was any hope for pulling it off. Con prevented them from moving any closer, so she simply glared at them, waiting for whatever ridiculousness was to follow.


"I hear there has been some trouble, Child," the leader of the column said, putting emphasis on the world 'Child' as if that would make Arala feel small. She kept her gaze level and didn’t waver a bit in her stern expression despite the fact that it was starting to make her face hurt. "Attacking my men as you did, forcing them to turn on you..."


The inquisitor didn’t even have time to finish his sentence before Arala took the bait. To say she lacked self-control was an understatement.


"You know bloody well that isn’t what happened! Your dogs started this and I don’t care who you are, you can’t do this!" Now everyone was staring, but Arala didn’t care. How could they? They were *lying*! Outright lying and it enraged her.


"You are in no position to tell me what I can and cannot do, girl," He turned his attention to Con. "The two of you will come along voluntarily or you will be taken. It is your decision."


The only option was to buy time, as far as Con was concerned. He was weighing up his options, and while he knew he could fight if he had to, he didn't want to do any damage further than necessary, there was no need to give the Hand any more ammunition than it needed. Speaking in a loud enough voice so it carried across the infirmary, Con left nothing open to interpretation.


"Inquisitor, I do be sorry but you do be seeming to be misinformed. A lone woman do be attacking three men? Inquisitor Rendal did be taking offence to being spurned by Child Arala and did be deciding to settle scores. She be barely conscious when I be discovering what be occuring in the training hall. Furthermore, when I did be challenging Inquisitor Rendal on the matter, he did be going so far as to say that he no be having respect 'for Goldren's lame-duck edicts'." Those words caused a stir through the infirmary, but Con continued. "Such words from a Child, be they of the Hand or otherwise, do be treasonous. Once I be conudcting Child Arala to care here, I did be taking the chance to be sending for Lord Captain Milah to be attending to be hearing our matter. Until such time, we no be able to surrender ourselves to you, and you would no be denying the Lord Captain Milah a chance to question us, would you?"


Arala almost chimed in with a 'Ha! Take that!' but restrained herself. For the second time this morning, she was glad Con had been the one to stumble upon her. While in other circumstances his calm demeanor irritated her to no end, now it protected her in a way she could not manage to protect herself. She continued to stare at the inquisitor, who continued to pursue the matter with Con.


"Lord Captain...Milah, was it? Whoever your man is, he is welcome to question you on the matter once the Hand’s investigation has concluded. I will leave one of my men behind to make sure he gets the message, but in the meantime, you will come with me. I will not ask you again."


Seeing that there was little chance of delaying what was to follow, Con let his arms rest to either side of him as he spoke. "Considering that three of the Hand do be attacking a Child, the Hand's credibility do be less than impeccable in this circumstance when one of the attackers do be amongst your number. Nor do it be satisfactory that you be making a Lord Captain wait, especially when he do be one of the Annointed. I no be surrendering myself to you, but to the authority of Lord Captain Milah who as my commander may decide whether I do be going with you or no."


Arala almost laughed. She had been in the same place with Con the inquisitor was now. If he was anything like her, he wanted to box the Illianer’s ears for being so bloody calm and yet so bloody stubborn. But as Con’s righteousness was on her side at the moment, the small Taraboner simply grinned and waited to see what the inquisitor would do next. He grinned of all things and then simply said, "Take them."

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The order to take them settled it, though Con didn't move at first. There was enough space for two abreast to get at him as long as he kept beds on either side of him, he could use that. Then again, he'd need extra room if they came at him with blades. Not that that would happen at first, far better to have him as a trophy.


The first man was stupid enough to try and grab him. Stepping forward with his left leg, he swept his left arm across to snag the man's and pull him forward to Con's right. As the man came forward off balance, Con swung with his body, tucking his arm in as the elbow connected with the man's temple, knocking the man to the floor with a vicious crack. Already moving as the man went down, Con turned and pivoted on his left foot, lashing out with his right as he completed the rotation and knocking the second Inquisitor back into those behind him as they went down in a heap being as tightly packed as they had.


Those at the back leaped over those that had been knocked over to get at him but Con didn't wait for them. Grabbing one man as he came down from his leap, Con twisted and threw the man into a nearby bedpost. Feeling an arm snake around his throat as he did so, Con twisted the other way as he grabbed hold of the arm with one hand and the man's belt with the other, pulling the man free and throwing him between a pair of beds for him to bounce off a wall and fall still.


Taking a kick to the side, Con grabbed the leg of the offender and grabbing the man's shirt, lifted him and threw him back, knocking another man down who had just gotten his feet. Kicking another man on the ground in the head who thought to try and hold onto his foot, the same foot then lashed up to catch a man in the jaw and putting him on his back.


Catching a man's arms as he tried to tackle, Con brought his heel down on the man's foot to be rewarded with a solid crack before tossing the man aside. As he moved to the next man he became aware of the shouting, those in the beds were cheering him on! Working his way through the men as he kept moving forward, within a minute all save three either unconscious or rolling around in pain due to broken bones. Those that remained were the fat man who he'd dealt with earlier, an inquisitor he didn't know, and the leader.


Blades were drawn, and Con narrowed his eyes. If they thought blades were going to help them now, they were sorely mistaken. He'd tolerated the Hand watching him ever since he had taken on the sunburst, endured their jibes and their attempts to try and get an excuse to take him. In this moment, their attempts to bully and intimidate him were to be repaid in full.


Stepping forward even as the shouting faded with blades bared, Con flicked aside the thrust of the fat man with the back of his hand with contempt. Grabbing the man's wrist, he swung the man's sword in the path of the other inquisitor's as the leader held back. Whipping a foot up into the attacker's crotch before he could draw his sword back, Con twisted the fat man's arm behind his back even as the other inquisitor collapsed to the ground.


Punching the fat man in the kidneys, Con threw the man headfirst into the foot of the nearest bed. It was at that point the leader committed himself, but Con was already stooping low to avoid the thrust as it passed over his shoulder. Slipping about a pair of slashes and another thrust, Con stepped inside the man's guard and kicked the man's legs out from underneath him. Stomping the man's swordhand, there was audible cracking and a scream even as Con lifted his heel up.


Cheering, Con couldn't believe it, or rather he could but it seemed strange. There was no love lost between the Army of the Light and the Hand of the Light. On the otherhand, it was him they had been cheering, and most knew him by sight now as the man who had thrown in the crimson cloak for the white.


Not that he had long to ponder this, new arrivals but this time far more friendly than the ones that had come before. Lord Captain Milah at the head of ten men, all bearing sunbursts, entered the infirmary expecting to find a battle from the way they had their hands at their swords. Seeing the situation as it was, the Lord Captain Milah signalled for the others to stay back as he approached Con, the shouting quietening as he did so.


"I suppose you can explain this?"


"Child Arala be assaulted by three members of the Hand in one of the training halls, one of which did be reporting to his superior that Child Arala had in fact assaulted three of their number. These inquisitors did be coming here to arrest Child Arala and myself because I did be pulling them off her. I did be informing them that we were waiting for you to arrive to inform you that one of the Hand that assaulted Child Arala, Inquisitor Rendal, denounced the Lord Captain Commander's authority."


"The Inquisitor insisted that you be able to speak to us, but only after the Hand had finished its investigations first. As you do be holding higher rank and it do be for you to be releasing me into their charge if you do be finding their claims valid, I did be refusing their call for me to surrender myself to their charge."


Choosing his next words with care, Con did his best to make it easier for Lord Captain Milah. Not that anyone was fooled, everyone in the room understood exactly what Con was doing. "As far as I do be able to ascertain, the Inquisitor that did be falsely accusing Child Arala of assaulting members of the Hand" Con pointed the fat inquisitor out who was unconscious as he continued "be doing so to cover up both the crime and Inquisitor Rendal's treasonous words. They do be disgracing the Hand with their actions, and I do be sure that the High Inquisitor would be frowning on their actions."


There was a pause before Lord Captain Milah spoke, though there was a slight smile on his face when he did so. "If you are correct, then indeed it would seem the Hand has been deceived by three of its own. You will accompany me to answer further questions in detail, I am sure the other Lord Captains would be most interested in this matter."


Turning to his own men, Captain Milah gestured for a pair of them to come forward. "The pair of you are to stay with Child Arala, if anyone wishes to speak with her they will require a writ from myself or the Lord Captain Commander to do so. The rest of you accompany me." Frowning, he turned to the nearest attendant. "Well? What are you waiting for? There are men that need attention."


Throwing Arala a quick glance, Con turned and fell in step with the Lord Captain as they left the Infirmary. Behind them, the infirmary became abuzz with talk. He just had to hop he hadn't thrown himself on the fire now.



Con Stavros

Child of the Light

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Arala had watched in awe as Con dealt with the inquisitors one by one. Actually, he dealt with them two time in most cases. She was torn between being frightened at what would happen next no matter the out come of the scuffle and being fascinated watching the man work.


Cheers rose from the beds around her, but Arala did not join in. Once the proverbial dust settled, none of those people were going to be called to account for what had gone on that day between her and the three members of the Hand. Even if Con trounced the lot of them, there would be more coming later. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Whenever she was alone next. Her fascination quickly melted into a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach as she watched the fight unfold.


As if on cue, Milah entered with his own men just as Con finished off the last of the Hand. The crowd was near frenzy, but Arala was sitting perfectly still, her liquid brown eyes even wider than usual. There was something much larger than her unfolding and she had the sense that she had just been dragged into it. Only it wasn't really like she was an equal player. She felt like a trout tossed in with the sharks. She almost wanted to cry as Con gave her one last glance before leaving with the Milah.


The attendant had her face cleaned up fairly quickly once the excitement died down and Arala was greatful. She didn't wish to be in a room full of staring eyes any longer than she had to. She also didn't wish to have to deal with questions and prodding and recaps from the others that had witnessed the morning's events, a fate she would surely be doomed to as soon as the attendant was gone.


Despite still feeling a bit dizy, Arala left as soon as she wasn't physically restrained from doing so. She really had no where to go. The tents would be empty but one of der'Algai would see her face and not leave her be until the story was told. The mess was out for the same reason, and so was simply walking around for a bit because for all she knew, there would be someone else waiting to give her whatever it was they thought she deserved. Finally she settled on the library. Most trainees did their studies after dinner, so it should be fairly deserted, if not all together empty. She could probably hide behind her copy of The Way of the Light for hours before she was disturbed. Selecting a small table in the corner of the rarely used mathematics section, she took a seat facing the room, just in case, and tried to work out what was going to happen next.

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Smiling slightly as Arala whirled about, Con went to grab a nearby chair as he spoke. "The decision be that Inquisitor Rendal and his two companions did be assaulting you and they are to be disciplined, and furthermore questioned as to whether Inquisitor Rendal really did be denouncing Lord Captain Commander Goldren." Placing the seat next to Arala, Con sat himself down as he added. "You do be in the clear, I thought you may be wanting to be knowing."


Arala narrowed her eyes briefly at the scare Con had given her, but let it go before she spoke. She hoped her voice wasn’t shaky, at least not so much that he could tell. Rather than calm her nerves, her time alone had actually made her feel worse. All manner of horrible thoughts were running through her mind. "Easy for you to say. I doubt Ren will be punished so long as he has High Inquisitor Biral to protect him. And I also doubt that he is done with me. And now I suspect the Hand isn’t going to be either. Doesn’t sound clear to me." Her tone was more resigned than angry, though she felt both things distinctly.


"I do be thinking you be finding Inquisitor Rendal be punished severely. The results of the meeting... High Inquisitor Biral was embaressed by the matter, but to resolve the matter Inquisitor Rendal do be taking full blame so as to be distancing the High Inquisitor from it." Frowning, Con continued. "My demonstration with the Inquisitors in the infirmary do be a different matter, but it do be dealt with for the meantime. If nothing else they do be far more concerned about that to be targetting you I think."


"Well I guess that’s a little better."


"It do be, and the Inquisitors already be after me so nothing do be changing there." Chuckling, Con rested back in his seat as he spoke on. "Your Lord Captain also do be wishing to be speaking with you, but only when you do be ready. He no be happy about what be happening to you at all and did be backing you to the hilt, thought you might want to be knowing that."


Arala smiles as much as she could manage with her swollen face. Der’Algai would no doubt rally around her as well once they found out. She really wasn’t alone now that she thought about it. But still it was good to hear that the Lord Captain had defended her.


"Well then I guess the only matter left is that I’m clearly not ready for battle. I train every day, I work at the skills I need to protect myself and yet I couldn’t. I am a fighter. I have no other skills. I can’t read or write all that well, I’m not particularly astute with political matters, clearly I’m not charismatic or friendly. All I can do is brawl and I couldn’t even manage that the one time it counted. No amount of support for me or punishment for the Children who did this is going to change that."


Realising that he had come across something more, Con was quiet as Arala opened up to him. Something he had not expected all things considered, then again he didn't really know her except for her jibes when she saw him. "True, but you do be able to change it."



Con Stavros

Child of the Light

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"How? Work harder? I've always worked hard. I worked hard with my father then I worked hard with my husb-" Arala stopped abruptly and realzing that there was no way to cover the slip, simply trudged on in a different direction. "And obviously der'Algai work me very hard. I do everything I'm supposed to. But what if its not instinct for me? What if it won't ever be?"


Arala realized she was rambling a bit and probably saying things she would regret later. Also it was pretty odd that she was saying them to Con, a man she used to try to stir just for sport. The idea of anyone knowing her weaknesses made her uncomfortable, but it was like a dam had burst. Words poured out and she felt both powerless to stop them, and relieved to actually say them out loud. Her large eyes began to water and she blinked away the tears. She might be spilling her guts, but no way was she going to cry on top of that. Might as well put on a skirt and some rouge and spend the rest of her days barefoot in a kitchen somewhere.


"I've always been good with the sword, but theres more to it than forms. Tell me, how can I change something if its just what I am?"

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Con managed to keep a smooth face as Arala made her slip, barely. A husband? The way she pushed by it, either they had left each other a long time ago or more likely, Arala was a widow. A motivation for joining the Children perhaps, the need for purpose, it was the reason that Con himself had taken on the sunburst in the end.


Either way she was shaken, those three men had jumped her before she could defend herself. The problem was that now she doubted herself, where her only fault most likely was that she hadn't expected any of her fellow Children to turn on her like that. Nor should she have had reason to, people that wore the same colours were meant to defend one another and protect them. Leaning forward slightly as he rested his hands on his thighs, Con spoke softly.


"Today no be the measure of you, they do be having the advantage through treachery and by the time you do be knowing what they do be up to it do be too late. You no be having any reason to be thinking they be turning on you, we all do be wearing a white cloak. But you do be right, there do be more to a sword than the forms."


Pausing for a moment, Con continued. "Having said that, anyone do be capable of learning... even you." With a slight smile that wasn't unkind at that little poke, Con leaned back again. "Anyone be able with time. I be telling you something few people do be knowing. Some people do be seeming to think I always be holding a blade, but truth be known I be beginning as a dockrat in the Perfumed Quarter of Illian. No be touching a blade till I be traveling to Tar Valon, and if I be able to take to the blade as I be, then you be able to as well. Just be time and experience."


"If you do be wanting at some stage, can always be finding me when I be training and I be helping out. I still be remembering feeling the way you do now."



Con Stavros

Child of the Light

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"Wasn’t that around the time of Hawkwing’s reign?" Arala said, smiling. So Con did have a sense of humor after all. She never would have guessed. "In any case, I might take you up on that. It’s hard to imagine you as unsure. And I suppose you’re right about not expecting an attack from my brethren, but I’m not one for excuses. I should have been ready for it. That’s what der’Algai train me for."


"They do be training you to be wary of your fellow Children?" Raising an eyebrow in mild reproof as he spoke, Con knew exactly what Arala was doing. Blaming yourself for what couldn't be helped was a waste of time though, as he'd discovered so many times himself. Then again it had taken him a long time to learn better, and he still wasn't done with the lesson. Smiling again, Con gestured to Arala's face "that do be feeling better at least?"


"Well it feels better than when they were punching me, at least," she put a hand to her swollen cheek gingerly. "And no, der’Algai aren’t training me against other Children, but they do train me to be ready for anything. But that’s so hard to do. The Wheel just throws things at you when you aren’t expecting it. One minute you’re happy and walking along and the next you’re on the ground getting beaten or lighting a candle for the one person you ever loved." Arala kept her eyes fixed firmly on the ground while she spoke, hoping Con wouldn’t see her eyes watering again.


Leaning forward as Arala looked down, Con didn't try to make eye contact with Arala as he spoke so he didn't make her more uncomfortable. "Hey, even if the wheel do be weaving such things at us, it do be important to remember that it do be weaving good things as well. It be giving us the good as well as the bad..." Pausing as a few memories came to him, Con spoke on "and it do be the good that do be worth holding onto."


For some reason Arala’s first thought was of all the times she had burned dinner and Bronan had eaten it any way just so she wouldn’t feel bad. He always did things like that for her, small things, but always. She almost never thought about them anymore though, because it hurt too much. Though the other side of that coin was that she was terrified she would forget them all if she kept it up.


Arala couldn’t think of anything to add and being so forthcoming had worn her out. Perhaps it was time to head back to the tents and face the barrage of questions. It would be over soon enough, and then maybe she could get some rest before she was on duty.


"I need some rest. But I’m free most mornings. If you’ve got the time, I think I’d like your help some time."

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