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Morning is wiser than the evening (Con,Brandeis&Telcia)


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The breakfast was being served in the downstairs already and Arette knew that they should get going as soon as possible to find Iussi and then move to where ever the trail lead. Still she was postponing going to the dining hall and meeting Con. She had fussed in front of the mirror girding herself for the encounter. She had plaited her hair on two thick braids which hid the white on her temples and her tear rimmed eyes had been fixed by a new Mask of Mirrors weave. And thank goodness she could wear her own clothes now. Yesterday she hadn't even remembered that the Children had had hers and Con's saddlebags, but she had seen hers this morning under the bed. But there was only so much a woman could do for her looks without Domani pastes that she didn't use. And she had to face Con sooner or later.


She drew one last calming breath before walking with a difficulty to the top of the stairway supported by her crutches. Her eyes were immediately drawn to Con's figure. He was discussing with some of his men and didn't luckily notice her yet. Luca sprang to his feet immediately after seeing her, but she halted him with a gesture of a hand and a shake of her head. She didn't want to take any risks and Con hadn't been too pleased with Luca scooping her up last night. Besides, the stairs were a good excuse to strenghten her composure. She descended slowly with care - one injured leg was quite enough. Making her way to his table, she responded to the salutes and good morning greetings of the Children. They were more welcomed distractions to avoid facing him. He looked up as she approached, though and she met his gaze gravely and unwaveringly.


"Good morning, Con. I hope that I'm not interrupting anything. May I join your company?" It was difficult to be natural and find the right words, so she settled up with politeness. She gave a quick glance at Brandeis, but nothing on his face gave away that he had heard... things last night. Light, she was blushing faintly again. If only she had Telcia's coppery skin that showed nothing like this. NO! She had decided to never entertain thoughts like that again. She tried to ignore the warmth on her cheeks the best she could and concentrated on staying on her one foot as she navigated between the long table and the bench to sit beside him.


Arette Nenatiar

Exiled Brown Sister

Former Keeper of the Chronicles

Mother of Karana and Telcina

Bonded to Calvin Gaidin

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The night had passed quickly for Con, and Brandeis had been kind enough not to wake him to ask for details of what had happened when he retired for the night. The rest had been needed, and it was a rare occasion that morning for he'd woken up long after the sun had broken the horizon. Well, long by his standards anyway, yet waking to bed and walls as opposed to being entombed in a mountain or out in the forest was a welcome way to wake up after all the travel.


Slipping out of bed and getting ready, he left his white cloak where it was. He would need to head into the town later in the day, the less attention he attracted while there the better. Wandering downstairs to the commonroom, he gave his good mornings and weathered the barrage of 'how are you feelings?' and such as he made his way to a table with Brandeis and a couple of others. Other gathered on the other tables nearby as he told his tale of what had happened.


As he was eating breakfast as were the others, there was thankfully not to many questions raised about the holes he'd left in the story. Besides which, the incident with the bear seemed to overshadow it all, especially when it came to Luca. Con noted to himself inwardly he was going to have to have a talk with Luca about Arette, he'd let it slide that Luca had helped Arette up the stairs the night before, but while he trusted Arette, he knew Luca all too well when it came to a pretty face.


The conversation had turned to what his fellow Children had been up to when Arette came down the stairs. Con had to admit he was somewhat nervous as she made her way over to his table, he didn't know where things stood after the night before. Yet while she was polite, she wasn't distant when she asked to sit down next to him. The conversation continued as it had before, with Arette chipping in occasionally until they had finished with breakfast.


Soon everyone was clear of the commonroom except for the pair, everyone had different tasks to keep themselves occupied from looking over the horses to training. They would need to make a move soon enough, but there was something else first Con wanted to check. "How do you be feeling this morning?"



Con Stavros

Child of the Light

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The breakfast went quite nicely even though Arette was keenly aware of Con sitting beside her. She managed to get down porridge and some bread and she savoured every bite. It was truly wonderful to be in a city again and eat food that was really prepared and had flavour. And to sleep in a real bed. She only wished that he had stayed with her despite it all, or exactly because of it. It would have made it easier to know where they stood with each others this morning. The Children recapped for her favour what had happened during their journey here and joked with each others. She was surprised again how ordinary they were really, just like any soldiers. It was obvious that some of them wondered about her and Con, but they were tactful enough to not ask. He had avoided her like plague during the beginning of the trip and now they seemed to be on terms with each others, even friendly. She would be curious too if she was them.


One by one they dispersed to carry out some tasks. Brandeis was the last to leave and they were finally alone in their table. Arette busied herself with pretending to put more jam and sugar on the porridge she wasn't going to eat anymore. Con thankfully broke the silence by asking how she was. She took his hands to hers under the table cloth and faced him with a sigh. "I'm alright. But I am embarrassed and sorry that I vented on you like that again. It's foolish really, you're right about that. I will try to set my aims a little more realistically and compare myself less to others in the future. And keep a better sight on what I have achieved. Did that convince you?"


She smiled faintly at him and caressed his callused palms and fingers. She loved his hands really, they were so strong and you could really feel they had done real work. Hers were still quite the cultivated scribe's hands with the writing knobs, but they weren't as soft and pampered anymore as they had been a year ago. No one could remain idle too long in a farming village and Willamina had made sure that she worked hard. But they didn't have time to sit here all day and hold hands no matter how sweet it would have been. She sighed again.


"We should go and find Iussi now. The sooner we get on the road again, the sooner we'll find the children." She could see his look change at that. He was thinking something he didn't want her to know, something he thought she wouldn't like. And she propably wouldn't. Oh, she knew him. He could be as unreadable as a Sister when he wanted, bloody stony faced Warders and Tower Guards, but he hadn't got his guard on quick enough. She let the matter lie for a moment longer. "But you'll have to promise to tell me the story about what made you more certain of yourself. Not now, but later. Tonight when we camp. Not a bed time story, though. I think that I've had enough of those for a while." She looked away for a moment. "So will you? And what's that you don't want to tell me? I thought that we were beyond that already."



Exiled Brownie

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As glad as he was to have Arette with him, there were concerns, namely her leg. He'd been told the condition it was in, and she would need time to let it heal properly. The kind of pace they would have to set, that sort of riding if she tried to do it would keep opening the wound, and the longer it was open the more likely it could get infected. It'd be much safer for her if she were to stay behind, give herself a chance to heal. As much as he wanted to get the children, he was not willing to gamble Arette's life to try and make it occur any quicker. "I do be wondering whether you do be able to travel with your leg as it is. It did be bad enough getting to Katar, I no be wanting you to be doing any further injury to yourself."


Arette's eyes darkened with worry at his words. It was something she had had in her mind too, but that she didn't really want to think too much. She was a hinderance and speed was of essence with all the delays they had already had. But still she had to be there. She had made a promise, no, a strongest possible vow to bring back the children, and she could not break it. Also they might face a channeler and she was the only one who could try to deal with him. And she had been over a month away from her babies. If she stayed here now, it had all been in vain. Her grip tightened. "I have to be able to travel, it's as simple as that. I will come along and I cannot slow us down any more than I already have. We can't have wagon this time, so I... Maybe I could ride with someone and we would alternate it."


"That still do be alot of impact on the leg, especially since we no be ambling along once we be moving. It no be taking long for the wound to be splitting further. If it were any of my men, I would be leaving them here with a couple of others to be healing. If it do be taking too long to heal, you do be carrying that with you for years to come."


It would be horrible, she knew. Even the wagon's bumping on the road had caused her pain from time to time, but she had to go. And she had known already that her leg would never be quite the same it had been. A Reader had told her that a tendon on her knee had been badly hurt and that the knee would be left somewhat stiff. But if she did this now, she might never... Iffing was useless. The Wheel weaved as the Wheel willed. "Good thing then that it's not your decision, Con. Not until I can't keep up anymore. But it won't happen." She sounded more confident than she was, tho. "The men will wonder. If they start asking out loud, you could always tell them about the vow."


"But it do be." Clasping Arette's hands in turn, Con spoke with concern more than anything else. "I no be wanting you doing any more harm to yourself. It do be torture to moving with a wound, you do be knowing this yourself and that when we do be moving at a gentle pace. At the new pace we do be needing to set to make up lost time, it would be murder. You no be wishing to do this to yourself."


If she allowed him to see any signs of weakness now, he wouldn't let her come along. "If wishes had wings, pigs would fly", she spoke briskly. "Of course I don't want to do it, but I don't have a choice, Con. So lets say we'll see how it goes for a one day. Then if I can't take it, I promise that I will stay behind and rest."


Con knew exactly what she was doing, but he didn't want to leave her behind. It was concern for her healing that made him pause, he could give it a day. "A day it be then. In the meantime I do be needing to check on the other Children and their exercises before I do be leaving for the town with you." Looking about as he stood up, he saw no one was inside and quickly stooped and gave her a kiss on the forehead. "It no be taking more than half an hour or so I do be thinking." At that, he left her to what remained of her breakfast.



Con Stavros

Child of the Light

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Mhhh... the kiss was a nice touch and it left Arette wishing that there was a Sister somewhere around here, who could Heal her and then he could kiss her properly. But then she also wanted it to go by the book this time. Nothing like that until they had tied the ribbons, preferably in front of Willamina. And she doubted that it wasn't going to happen too soon. They were still too fresh. She was startled from her thoughts by a chair scraping the planks in the one and only private lodges of the inn. There had been another customer here! She doubted that he had seen anything, though. The man was about to exit and she would have passed him, a merchant obviously without a second glance if she hadn't caught the ornament in the hat he just placed on his head. It didn't stand out too much, but it was unusual to have the ribbon surrounding the crown knotted. Knotted! That definately alerted her and she gave the tying a better look. And indeed, it was a sign that she recognised. This man was a Tower Eye and Ear and he had an urgent message for all Sisters. She couldn't let him to walk away, because she couldn't be certain if she'd have time to find him anymore. Luckily the dining room was empty so her clamoring wouldn't warrant for unwanted attention.


"Goodmaster! Please stop", she cried. The man halted at the door and gazed around wonderingly. Since there was no one else around, he determined correctly that she was talking to him. He tipped his hat politely at her and was searching his memory to see if he should recognise her. But they had never met in their lives, so it was no wonder he found only blank. "Goodmistress...", the question mark was audible. "... is there something I can do for you?"


The merchant was eyeing her a little warily, but she smiled at him and beckoned to the chairs around their table. "Would you sit please, goodmaster. I'm sure that you have questions, but I assure you that we have an important common topic to discuss. We share a relative. Do you have news of her?" Then it dawned on him, who or what she was and he gave her a deep respectful bow. Arette waved it aside and he took a seat.

"I'm afraid that she is not faring too well", the merchant begun. "The eagle flies on the sky above the house and the hawk has suffered severe wounds." He eyed her curiously and obviously didn't know what the message meant. But Arette did and she was hard pressed to hide her shock. She had to clear her throat to find her voice. "Thank you, goodmaster. That was all, I believe? I will naturally compensate your effort." She handed him two thick Andoran gold crowns, which he accepted gracefully with an eager gleam on his eyes. "Now if you would please leave me. This bears thinking. Light bless you and keep you safe."


He scraped his foot and left, but Arette was staring before her with unseeing eyes. She just couldn't believe it. They had reigned only for a year. And even if she had sometimes had bitter thoughts about bad things happening to them just because they had usurped her and Karana's place, it had been the whole Hall, who had made the decision even if those two had sat there then also. And this was too horrible fate to wish even for your worst enemy. Karana could be Healed one day now when the miraculous found had been made, but Lanfir could never be restored. And Lyanna was dead. What would happen to the Tower now? Would the faction wars flame again? She doubted that any Sister could receive this message without worry, even the Blues. Lanfir had caused some bad blood with her choice of a Keeper, but it could be nothing when compared to the uproar she and Karana had caused. She wondered if many had been delighted to hear that the stag was hunted and the owl trampled by the red bull.


But there was nothing she could do about this either. Telcia was in the Tower, so maybe she would hear news. And Telcia would surely do her best to affect things. She still had influence among her Ajah. And there were also the Black Ajah Hunters if any of them were still alive. Light send it so. A Black Sister as the Amyrlin would be a horrible nightmare come true. Even that wasn't her battle anymore. Her task was a kidnapper and getting the twins safely to their mother as she had swore. And for that she would need their scoundrel father to tell them which way to go. Actually... maybe she could catch this merchant again and have him find Iussi and bring him here. That way she would spare her leg and her nerves.


With difficulty, but much determination she got on her one feet and on the crutches intent on stopping him again. She was stopped at the doorway by Luca entering. The delay annoyed her, but she gave him a polite nod and tried to pass. He took a hold of her arm, though.


"You know, Lini, you should really rest that leg of yours", he adviced. Arette could have almost been amused by his patronizing attitude if she just hadn't heard unpleasent news. "Well, thank you for your concern, Luca, but I can take care of myself", she replied wryly. "I am old enough to be your mother after all. And I am indeed a mother myself." Oddly enough that just made him smile. "But that's exactly why you need someone to look after you. And I like older women, they have more experience." It took a moment for his words to compute, but then she flushed red with anger. So that was why he had been so nice to her. He thought that because she had given birth outside wedlock, she was a lightskirt who was easy to get on her back by anyone. Light, he was even worse than Iussi. If looks could have killed, Luca would have keeled over and laid in the ground in a puddle of his own blood. She removed her arm quite forcibly and made possibly a crutch walking record in getting to the yard. He was left watching after her with a confused look on his face.


And of course the merchant was nowhere to be seen anymore. She almost cursed out loud. It took her a moment to calm down and she spent it well by watching Con give commands to the men by the stable. She decided to sit down on a a bench in a shade to wait until he was ready to go. The traffic passing the inn wasn't too busy, but she amused herself by creating life stories for the people walking by. They could be on the move already if only Iussi had dragged his sorry arse here already and they wouldn't have to go looking for him. A perky blonde wrapped in a conversation with a little taller dark haired man was approaching the inn right then and she thought that she was naming the Dark One since they looked tantalizingly familiar. But of course she was just doing wishful thinking, Telcia was safely in the White Tower, if it could be called that anymore with the Black Ajah. The pair got closer and were obviously coming to the inn and... Light, could it be!? It was!

"Con look! They're here! It's Iussi... and Telcia!" She scrambled on her feet eager to greet one of her oldest and dearest friends.



Exiled Brownie

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Hearing Arette's cry, Con turned and his jaw dropped in surprise for a moment before he jogged over to where Arette was already embracing Telcia. Light but he hadn't seen Telcia in over a year, and Iussi! Certainly, he seemed alot happier than when he had seen the man last. The man had a grin no less when he disdained Con's hand and gave him a hug instead. Cracking a joke over Con's new choice of colours, Con couldn't help but laugh. The man had been a nightmare to keep in line as the man's Commander, and little had changed, which he said in turn as they broke apart which caused Iussi to laugh.


Turning to Telcia who had a smile on her face as she embraced him in turn. Speaking of how much she had missed him, he was saying much the same even as he felt himself feeling a bit teary. Light help him but she was one of the few sisters he had ever had faith in, they'd saved each other's lives on more than one occasion and he had not expected to see her, Arette had said she was stuck in the White Tower.


It was as they broke their embrace that Con went cold. Over Telcia's shoulder, a man in grey rounded the corner with a crossbow in hand. Even as the man raised it, Con shouted a warning as he shoved Telcia towards Iussi but the man wasn't taking aim at the Red Sister.


He was taking aim at Arette.


There was no hesitation, Con turned as he stepped, interposing himself between the assassin and Arette and taking her shoulders in his hands to hold her there. In her face there was panic, but in Con's there was nothing as he already knew what was about to happen. It felt as if he'd been punched in the backback but the pain was far more sharp, more excruciating, so much so that he ceased to feel altogether by the time the head of the bolt protruded from his stomach.


Taking a half step forward as he absorbed the shock of the blow, blood sprayed onto Arette's dress as his knees betrayed him and he fell forward. His head resting against Arette's thigh for a moment, he slid sideways onto the ground. A hand at the bolt, he had no strength left in it to try and draw it out as he weakly pawed at it.



Con Stavros

Child of the Light

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Telcia met her halfway and even though she gave a worried look at her crutches, they were both smiling widely as they enfold each others in a wordless hug. As they departed, Telcia asked what was wrong with her leg and called her by her real name. She nodded slightly toward the Children and ran her fingers over her cheek drawing Telcia's attention to the Mask of Mirrors hiding her ageless face. She mouthed her cover name Lini and promised to explain later as it was a long story. Telcia moved happily to embrace Con then and Arette had to supress a small wave of jealousy. They held each others for so long and both were clearly touched. But it was just natural since they hadn't seen each others in such a long time. Meanwhile Arette exchanged a polite nod with Iussi and then returned to watch the two.


As Con and Telcia pulled apart, Con froze and yelled an alarm pushing Telcia to Iussi. When Con moved in front of her, the time seemed to slow and she knew with a horrible clarity what was going to happen. There was a sickening sound when the projectile connected with his flesh. Arette screamed in denial when the tip of the bolt jutted out of his stomach. The punch of the hit moved him forward a partial step and a shower of blood stained her dress. Mind worked in strange ways in moments like this and she remembered that it had been one of is favourites or at least he had complimented her on it. She couldn't move a muscle as he collapsed on the ground slumping down along her body as he went.


The paralysis finally left her when he tried to feebly remove the bolt. She thanked the Light that he laid on his side for otherwise he could have injured himself even worse. She couldn't kneel to lay her hands on his and stop him, but she spoke to him firmly. "No love, do not touch the bolt, I will take it off it in a moment."


She was already embracing Saidar and as she turned to Telcia, her voice was authorative. "Telcia, I need you to open yourself for Linking." When the Red Sister nodded that she was ready, Arette drew the One Power through her too and a glow sprang around the fair-haired Domani combining with the nimbus surrounding her. Arette needed to touch Con to be able to Heal him and since she couldn't lower down, she needed to lift him up. It was actually one of the hardest tasks you could do with the One Power, so she was glad of the extra oomph provided by the Link.


But first the bolt needed to come out. She wrapped Con gently on a cocoon of Air to keep him from moving and with a twist of her wrist, she snapped neatly the end of the bolt projecting from his back. Another slower movement of her hand and the shaft slid off from his belly. She turned both her palms upwards and lifted them and he rose too, rendered motionless. Once he was at her reach, she tied off the weave holding him suspended and placed her hands on his temples. She had to lean on his body for support as she couldn't rely on the crutches now. She moved her tongue along her lips in concentration as she carefully formed the complex net of Air, Water and Spirit and laid it on him. If the Air weave hadn't held him still, Con's back would have arched, but now he merely gasped as if dunked on cold water and his eyes flew wide open.


Then it was done and Arette released the encasement around him and set him down on the ground again. She ebbed steadily the flow of Saidar coursing through her and Telcia until the glow winked out completely. If Telcia hadn't lent her a hand then and supported her, she would have lost her balance. Arette held on to her a little longer than was necessary, the adrenaline still rushing in her veins and whispered ardent thanks. Then she turned to look to Con who was sitting up. He was hale now, but hungry like a wolf. Everyone were after the traditional Healing which was the only one she could perform. When he was on his feet and faced them, she flung herself on his arms. She didn't care if the whole world was watching now. She just had to feel him close to her for a moment to make sure that he really was alive and well.



Exiled Brownie

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It was a bright and beautiful day and Telcia found herself smiling and laughing easily at her husband’s side, as they walked down the street. It had been the first time in days she’d felt such ease.


The days had passed painfully slow since arriving in the little town to wait for her friends arrival. Iussi had insisted that, despite the presence of the Children of the Light, things were safe and so... she listened to him and took as much pleasure in their time together as she could. She knew if she had been too forceful on the matter of her own safety, then her husband might just take it as some sort of sign of failure on his part and start with the marriage knife and ‘her having the right to cut him’ talk again.


Blasted Ebou Dari Men... Though it was good to know that he, unlike so many other men, would normally listen when it mattered most of all. Truly her husband would have made a fine Warder, just as she had always said in the years before they were married. Of course, now she would never allow such a foolish thing. He’d be bonded to some spark wielding half-wit flip-skirt chit when she was cold and dead in her grave, and perhaps not even then if the Creator had any sense at all. He was a good man but she was certain that it would take a very particular kind of woman to handle him and no one was fit to do that, besides her.


Hearing Arette’s voice stopped her only for a moment and then, she was rushing into the woman’s arms. They held each other for a long while, whispering and giggling like novices on free-day… she wanted to cry for all the joy that filled her now in this moment. Light but it was tempting to make it even more incredible by filling herself with the power just as she did in those moments with Iussi at night, but she would be ashamed to let Arette feel such foolishness.


Kissing her Sister’s cheeks quickly and making notice of her very insistent eyeing of the White Cloaks nearby, and her mouthed ‘Lini’ she nodded quickly. Of course, how foolish! Arette couldn’t be going by her name in a city so full of the White Cloaks. Light she’d nearly gotten them into quite a pickle but Arette was taking it in good spirit.


Telcia then released Arette and turned to the direction of her husband and Con’s laughter. Her breath immediately caught at the sight of him but she managed to make herself appear as steady as possible. With no hesitation, she embraced him as well. No matter what tunic he wore, no matter the color of her shawl, what existed between them was (to her) nearly as sacred as her bond to her husband and children.


"Con" she breathed, squeezing him tighter as she spoke his name. "...brother...†she muttered into the bright yellow on his tunic that was the symbol of the Light itself. "It's so good to see you!"


"And you sister, and you. Light I did be missing you."


Realizing now that the men she'd seen in town were likely with, if not under Con, she whispered; "I hope we haven't just leapt from the frying pan of my home into the fires here... or put you at some unforeseen risks?" She knew he'd understand that her 'home' was Tar Valon. She figured even thinking the words might not be safe near his brothers in arms. Silently, she began wondering how he took seeing 'Lini' again. She repeated the name in her head once more just to be sure she'd remember it. Light what a mess!


"What do be happening, but I do be with yours till the course be run."


"My course runs till the bitter end Brother. It's an end that, the Light send it not so, may be coming all too quickly." She looks up towards his face, a faintly grim demeanor fading to mischief and mystery dancing across her gaze; "And if I have my way of it; in this chaos our world has entered, I mean to make some old broken things into new happiness for us both."


"It do be on the mend I think."


As Con releases Telcia from the embrace and she backs away from him slowly she says, "Now... shall we take some time to share a drink and catch each other up a bit before we ride off to continue our journey or..."


Falling back into Iussi, she barely had time to register what was happening around her. Con had only thrown her so forcefully once in her entire life and once was enough to know what it meant. They were back in Arad Doman and here there was almost as much danger for her as in Cairhien and Tar Valon.


Turning she could see the bolt impacting with Con, missing it's intended mark of Arette. Looking back to the direction from which it was fired she was able to catch the faintest hint of the man running full speed towards the edge of town.



"STOP THAT MAN!" Telcia ordered with an authority that might have made a King spring to attention in an effort not to raise her ire all before asking 'who am I chasing?' Her husband, as well as several of the White Cloaks, seemed to instantly have swords at the ready even before she'd finished barking out her command.


Taking hold of the siren's song which was the infinite force of all life, Saidar, the ancient Sedai quivered where she stood in spite of herself. It had been quite some time since adrenaline and the One Power had both surged through her in such a manner. Oddly, the feeling (despite the situation) was indescribly wonderful. If she didn't know better she might think herself fresh out of Accepted banding and new to the Shawl again!


As the herd of men rushed past in a thunderous roar, she fell down beside Arette and reluctantly offered control of the power to her Sister. She hated doing that, hated it because she knew how strong she was with Spirit (the power of healing) and because... it was *HER* power. She hated letting someone control it. It always felt like letting someone hold your hand and force you to write letters. Your fate, your joy, belonged to someone else for a time... giving one's own soul might have been an easier thing to reconcile oneself to doing at times than linking.


Arette was quick with the weave, together their power was just enough to pull off the weave for healing and the terrible rend in Con's flesh was smooth in a matter of moments. Even though she'd seen and done it many times before, on much worse wounds than this one, it was always an amazing thing to see.


Quickly the two scrambled to get Con inside the Inn. This was going to be wretchedly hard to explain to the white Cloaks... truth be told Telcia was already running through escape plans in her mind. They'd seen their commander hit, they'd know he'd be laid up for months even with a good Wisdom's help. His ability to walk and ride so quickly could in no way be mistaken for anything other than what it was.


Suddenly, the day had just gotten a LOT darker.

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Straining against the feeling as it permeated his body, his vision began to go dark when the unnatural frost seeped from his body. Where his stomach had hurt so much he'd ceased to hurt at all, pain set in as his stomach decided to let him know he was hungry like he hadn't eaten for several days. Not that he had much time to focus on that, he was being dragged inside. Trying to get up, the best he could do was kick his heels to help himself along, that was until someone grabbed him from beneath his arms and began to haul him proper.


The stairs were a challenge, but soon enough he was in his room. Wait, no he wasn't, he was in Arette's room. Why were they here? Being slid into bed, he realised it was Iussi that had carried him up the stairs, which made sense as there was little chance of Telcia or Arette managing it, even together. Light but he felt as weak as a kitten, why were they up her-


They had played their card, even if the other Children hadn't seen they would realise that something was afoot with how well healed he was. As the others began discussing it, Con interrupted them. The time for deception was over, it would have to come down to the faith of his men and whether they would trust him so far. Con was certain they would, but that was something he couldn't presume. And now with this knowledge, he would endanger them, yet it was too late to cry over spilt milk.


"Iussi... Iussi do be finding the men and bringing them here. I do be talking to them, there no be anything to be worrying about." Maybe there was, but the last thing he wanted was for anyone to do the wrong thing. "Please, Iussi go."


Little surprise that Iussi looked to Telcia for a nod first, but he received it and was out the door quickly enough. Looking up to his sister and his love, Con tried to manage a reassuring tone but it was a little offseat by how weak he felt. "It do be alright, they do be good men and they will be accepting this. Just do be giving me a chance to be thinking over my words for them."


Closing his eyes, Con focused his thoughts as best he could. He was not a man to give speeches, he didn't have the eloquent turn of phrase necessary for such. But he knew his men, and they knew him which was the most important key to it all. If only he'd been able to say something earlier, but then he hadn't wanted to burden them with it either. Now if they were asked, they would have to lie, if they were willing to protect him. That remained to be seen though, even though all of them owed him for one reason or another, that wasn't enough to ask someone to question what they believed and to recognise an enemy as... well, if not friend, at least not as hostile. That was the best that could be prayed for.


Minutes passed, how many Con wasn't sure but soon he could hear footsteps, the men had returned. Filing into the room, Brandeis was the first to speak when he saw Con was awake. The Darkfriend was dead, refusing to be captured. Unfortuante, it would have done well to be able to get answers out of the man, but at least the man wouldn't be firing crossbow bolts at them anytime soon. Yet that wasn't now, now was Iussi closing the door as the last Child entered and taking a position by his wife and Arette.


At least the time had granted him a little more strength. Looking up at the men as they hovered before the bed, Con tossed the dice. "Whatever do be happening next, I do be asking you to be keeping your trust in me until I do be finished. There do be more to our journey than you do be knowing. I did be hoping to spare you the burden of the knowledge, but there do be no choice now but to be revealing previously did be witheld. Can you be giving me till I do be finishing?"


The murmur of assent was enough for Con. Lifting the blanket, he revealed his wound, or rather the lack thereof. As the men began to ask all at once what had happened, Con raised a hand to gain silence. "Your eyes no be deceiving you, were a wound did be once, it now be gone. Once again I do be asking you to be trusting me to finish speaking when I say what I do be next. My wound do be healed, and it do be these two women that be doing so. If you do be thinking them Aes Sedai, then you do be right."


To their credit, not a single one of them drew their sword. A few rested their hands on the pommels of their swords, others were too shocked to do anything as Telcia and Arette removed their illusions to reveal their true faces. Only the three that he had first met; Bernd, Leon and Luca, those three were relaxed. Had they known? He would not have put it past the three of them to have surmised it, knowing as much of him as they did. Had he been that transparent? Had she?


"The woman you do be knowing as Lini, not only do she be Aes Sedai, she also do be the mother of my daughters. The woman next to her be the one I call kinswoman, and it do be her children that we do be searching for. Once they both be living in Fernhill, and on one night trollocs brought by darkfriends did by attacking the farmstead. When these two do be fighting the trollocs off, darkfriends did be stealing her babies in the midst of the struggle."


"We do be on that trail now, to be reclaiming the children from the darkfriends that did be kidnapping them. The reason I no be telling you this before no be because I no be trusting you. The reason do be because when we do be returning from this task, you will be asked what be happening, and I no be able to ask you to be lying on my behalf."


"Nor can I be commanding you to do this. Aes Sedai do be considered enemy of the Children of the Light. At the same time... Regardless of what you do be told, this do be the truth of why I did be leaving. I no be leaving the White Tower because it do be full of Darkfriends as the Inquisitors would be telling you. I did be leaving it because it no be any different from any nation when I did be wanting a higher calling. They do be having their good people, their bad people, those that do be simply getting by day to day."


"While Aes Sedai do be holding power in their hands, it do be able to be used for either good or evil. The same power that do be able to set a house alight do be the same which do be healing me now. Without it, I would be dead on the cobblestones below, as I would be dead other times when I do be laying near death's door and do be brought back from the edge by a woman with an ageless face."


"I do be telling you these things, because I no be able to command you in this, you must be choosing for yourselves. You all do be knowing my ability, but be knowing truth when I do be saying I no be able to pick up a sword, even if I did be wishing to turn one against you. Aes Sedai only be able to channel to defend their lives, they no be able to be resisting you if you do be trying to arrest them."


Noticing Brandeis had made his way to the other side of the bed and turned to face the others, Con knew that he had given Con his support. "Iussi and Brandeis do be able, but two against ten do be poor odds. Our lives, as do the lives of two children born innocent do be in your hands."


There was a pause before the familiar rasp of steel sliding from scabbard cut the air. Bernd, Leon and Luca had drawn their swords and waiting a moment, lowered them so the tips touched the ground. Slowly, but surely, one sword was drawn after another and the tip touched to the floor until ten swords were arrayed in such a manner. They would follow him still, and even though Con had held faith in them, the proof of their loyalty moved him regardless.


"Remember, if we do be doing this, you can no be telling the truth of this without condemning those who stand with you. Do you be able to do this? You do be needing to do this with both eyes open."


It was Bernd that surprised Con of all people, the quietest of their troop. "You saved my life when you saved Luca and Leon. You gave us our lives back, now you offer us yours we can only do the same. You are no Darkfriend, I stand with you." As the other children also said they stood with Con, Con nodded in thanks as he spoke in turn.


"Then we do be leaving later today. If the man did be seeing us, then there be little doubt that he do be passing the message on to warn others before he did be deciding to try his luck with a crossbow bolt. Time no be luxury that we do be having. I do be needing a couple of hours before I do be fit to ride, be using that time to be preparing. Go... and thank you."


Watching his men file out one by one, Con looked up at Brandeis and smiled weakly. "Think you do be able to keep an eye on them for me?" Getting a nod, Con clasped the man's hand before Brandeis left the same way as his men had. Light but he had been exhausted from the healing before he spoke, now he was dead tired. Struggling to keep his eyes open as weariness washed over him, he looked towards the trio that remained.


"I do be too old for this."



Con Stavros

Child of the Light

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Once the Children were gone, Arette limped with her crutches to her bed where Con lay. She hovered worriedly over him since he shouldn't be so tired after a Healing. Maybe it was from the last night. He hadn't got much sleep, neither of them had. She shouldn't have kept him up with her stupid story and even more foolish outburst. "Say that when you get to my age", she retorted at him, but there was no edge in her voice. "You really scared me out there, Con. How are you feeling now? You're more exhausted than I had expected. Has it ever been like this after a Healing before?" She turned to look at Iussi and said a little unjustifiedly. "You could make yourself useful and tell Mistress Moreina to deliver food, any food for two... no, for four here." Iussi rolled his eyes, but she was an Aes Sedai so he did what she bid and dashed off.


"Bless the bloody fools, they'll all burn when the White Cloaks learn the truth." She shook her head slowly still staring at the door, releasing weaves she had prepared to defend them from any attack. She looks down to Con, "You're as good as a Sister with your words, Con." She managed a smile as she brushed her fingers across his forehead checking his temperature. "If they'd made a move to touch us, you know as well as I do that we could have taken it that our lives were in danger." She looks up to Arette. "He needs some rest and I need to heal that leg of yours. Find a chair. Iussi... fetch us two meals from the common room. They need to eat something. Keep your eyes open while you're at it. Light knows we're still not out of the woods yet."


Watching the two women as they spoke, Con couldn't help but feel bone weary. Always dealing with one problem or another ever since... Since forever it seemed, but since the trip had begun, there had always been a problem. He'd held it together so far, but it was getting more difficult everytime, it wore at him a bit. He just needed a chance to relax, just a few hours, even a day, but there was no time for that.


"I once do be sleeping for a week, I no be thinking this be so bad. And Telcia... they do be Children of the Light, Whitecloak be a name they may be using in the White Tower, but no in my hearing. They be the blades that do be keeping you safe until your children do be found." Realising that his words were a bit sharper than he intended, Con shook his head. "Sorry. Just do be something I be tiring of after so long. Arette do you be right with that chair?"


When Telcia repeated almost exactly what she had told to Iussi and he stopped on his tracks giving them both a... well, look, Arette wondered if she had stepped on her friend's toes here. Iussi was kind of like her Warder and some Sisters were very particular about their rights. But then she had to admit that she wished that Telcia took her hand off Con's forehead. But that was pure jealousy for entirely other reasons and something she wasn't going to submit in to anymore. She was ashamed of herself for feeling a prick of satisfaction when Con spoke to Telcia curtly about the Whitecloak issue. She focused on getting a chair closer to the bed as Telcia had told her. She wanted to sit close to Con, but moving the chair was quite hard with only one leg and her hands tied by the crutches. When Con asked if she would manage, she blushed and to her delight, it made him smile despite his condition. Which reminded her of the last night and only deepened the shade of red on her cheeks. It touched her, though that he thought of her wellbeing in a moment like this.


"Oh, I could have channeled of course. I just have gotten out of the habit of using the One Power on menial tasks." Willamina had been very stern about that. Arette floated the chair beside the bed and sat down to it. She didn't release Saidar since part of the energy of Healing came from within the patient, part from the Healer. When the injured held the Power, it replaced some of the energy that came from her during the Healing.


"Of course Con," She covered her embaressment quickly. "Children of the Light, you're right. In the future will afford them the same respect they give to me." That was perhaps the only safe thing to say in this situation. After all, she wouldn't promise to only call them Children especially since they might yet turn on them.


Walking over to Arette, noticing she yet held the One Power, Telcia took hold of it herself and let it fill her to the brim. Smiling at Arette (she knew the woman knew the elation she was feeling) she flexed her hands before holding them over her leg. Her hands, as she well knew, were quite uncessary but many of her teachers used gestures in weaving and so it had stuck with her to do so as well.


Pulling threads of spirit together she probbed at the wound a bit to determine it's exact nature and then, once understanding the problem, she began to work the repairs with precision. Tiny threads, like strings, pulling the injury back to a solid piece once more. When done she looked up to her Sister and nodded. "There," she began joking. "Next time perhaps you think twice before committing acts of horse play with the Children of the Light." She chuckled. She kisses Arette's foreheand then stands errect.


"Light but it's good to see you again, even if it's under strained circumstances. I suppose we're all getting very good at getting into those now, aren't we?" She managed another smile and chuckle hoping to keep the mood light as she herself felt like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.


Letting slip a chuckle, Con couldn't help but see a little truth in Telcia's jape. Of all their recent and not so recent memories, whenever they all met together it always seemed to be due to some problem to the point it was usual, and to meet in a normal manner would be unusual. "Wheel weaves as wheel be turning. Take what we be able to get no?"


Telcia's eyes suddenly seemed to be inside Arette, seeing through her. She bit her teeth together to keep the gasp from escaping. The skin on her leg crawled, muscles twitching as they knit together. Her leg quivered uncontrollably and her vision blurred. Cold seared her to the bone and deeper. She was moving, falling and flying at the same time and the sweet light of Saidar seemed to be the only steady thing. It seemed like an eternity before the world came onto focus again. With a sigh she released her connection to the Source. The room seemed darker and duller right away and everything felt less. Except... her stomach rumbled loudly. This effect even holding Saidar couldn't remove.


"Thank you, Telcia. I suppose you could say that I received a bear hug. And it is good to see you again indeed." She smiled at her and then turned to look at Con. "And thank you, Con, for saving my life again..."


She could say no more as Iussi and Mistress Moreina personally arrived carrying trays of food that could have easily fed six people. Arette eyed the plates hungrily and grabbed a cold chicken leg even before the tray was settled on the table.


Telcia walked over to the Mistress and opened her coin purse to give her several coins. "Thank you kindly Mistress for the feast. I'm sure that this will be more than even to keep us fed and then some. Please, could you send your stable boy out to the Golden Robin and have him retrieve Master Dyfelle's horses for us? We'll be here tonight it would seem." She smiled at the woman and the woman grinned in return accepting the coins, agreeing to see it done. As soon as she was gone though Telcia was already pulling the scroll out of it's container that hung from her hip. Walking across the room she handed the parchement to Con. "You may not recognize them... but I know my children's eyes anywhere. A thief catcher I hired did that weeks ago, here, in Katar. The man I don't recognize but clearly he's Domani, don't you think?"


Looking over the poster, Con narrowed his eyes, blinked and then swore. "Calen Malkari, no be his real name but it do be the one he be using most often. There do be quite a sizeable bounty on his head, in fact those that be worth more do be counted on one hand. Mercanery, thief, assassin, anything for the right amount of coin. He rarely do be working alone either, and if he do be having wind that we do be after him, he do be knowing where to be hiring a few blades. He do be having a penchant for letting his blades do the fighting unless he have to be fighting, do be giving him the chance to run when things do be turning sour, be part of why he do be alive so long."


Chewing her mouth empty, Arette gave a harsh glare at the painting and pressed the man's face on her memory. This time she doubted that he would walk alive from his crime. Iussi at least seemed to be thirsting for his blood from the way he was gripping his weapon. "So do you know where he is headed to? If you do, we might be able to get going today instead of tomorrow, because Con, I'm going to remove your weariness."[/color] Or to be precise, take it into herself. The party didn't need her, but the Children needed their leader. "And you need to eat now."[/color] She broke off a nice chunk of the chicken leg and brought it to his lips. She was hardly going to feed the whole meal to him like this, but she knew that once he got something in his belly, it's demand for more couldn't be denied. He was just too stubborn to start taking care of himself.


"You'll do no such thing, they may not wield the one power but I do!" Telcia asserted firmly. "Sit down, eat, I'll relieve him of his weariness and THEN we'll go. Iussi tell those ..." she stopped herself from saying something rude again. "Please tell the men to ready themselves, we'll be riding hard if we're going to make the next town by nightfall." Looking to Con she continued. "Will you accept relief from weariness Con so we can find this spineless worm of a darkfriend before he gets bored of baby sitting two excitable children who take after their father probably far too much for their own safety?" She was eager to ride out, now even, at the sound of how dangerous this man really was.


Taking the food from Arette, he chewed even as he contemplated what Arette said. Telling her no wouldn't help once she had her mind set on it, but thankfully Telcia stepped in though he couldn't say he was entirely pleased about that either. He would be fine given a bit of time, he knew how to sleep in a saddle if he had to. Arguing with Arette would have been fruitless, but both of them was beyond useless. He did wish he hadn't said anything though, Telcia was fretting even though she kept herself under control. "Not much, I no be needing much."


Con's story about the man had had an effect on Telcia and Arette had to admit that she was uneasy now when she knew what kind of a fellow had the children. She was certain that he would take good care of them for what ever reason they had been taken. "Telcia, Jelene and Jamal are fine. Who ever hired the man wants them alive and well. But that he won't get, because we'll catch the children first. Now, where are they being taken to?"


"And Con, it's either everything or nothing, kind of like Healing in that sense." She caught Telcia's eyes and held them. "And I am going to be the one, who does it."


Clearly Arette was not going to push over easily on this matter and it was unseemly for Sisters to fight, especailly in the presence of men. Crossing her arms under her breast, Telcia heaved a sigh. "Very well, but if I have to hold you up in your saddle with weaves of air there is a certain novice practice I might have to see if I'm still good at." She let her eyes look to the left corner of the room, pretending like she didn't really mind Arette doing injury to herself. "We're heading westward from here to another little town just up the way... I have men and farmers all along the way who we're going to be taking messages from. I'm not sure where he's heading but if the road he's taking is an indication... I'd say Bandar Eban. Perhaps he means to fade into the busy streets and be lost there. Light knows its possible."


"We do be leaving soon then..." Con wasn't happy about Arette pushing the matter, but he'd be damned if he was going to let her exhaust herself. "You do be letting Telcia do it if you do be wishing to leave today. I would no be letting you travel if your leg be as it were before, and you no be endangering yourself now. If we do be having a run in with someone that do be able to channel, Telcia can no be exhausting herself holding you up all day. Give over and be letting her do it, or we do be waiting longer before we do be leaving."


Arette merely arched an eyebrow at Con. "You would have let me ride with the leg. You gave me one day and that was much worse than this. Telcia has already channeled more than me today and I know my limits on this area whereas you don't." Alright, she would be tired, but she had been in worst conditions and still channeled. Like during the test for the Shawl. " No one has to hold me up afterwards. Now eat." She focused on emptying a soup bowl herself and showed off a bit by doing a simple Fire weave and heating the cold food to steaming in an instant.


"Nonsense." Con wasn't accepting that, he knew Arette and he knew she was going to be stubborn. So was he, but he was right this time. "Between channeling and healing, you no be in a fit state to be channeling further. And since I do be commanding the blades that do be accompanying us, and you do be needing them, that means I do be able to set the pace. If you do be laying that weave on me, then the Children do be staying here as do I. If we do be staying, you no be able to move ahead, it do be that simple. Let Telcia do it, if just to humour me." He knew it wasn't much of an out, but he was trying to give her one before she dug her heels in.


"Enough!" She declared in a firm voice. "We can't be bickering even over something this small if we mean to get my babies back and we WILL get my babies back is that understood?!?" She looks firmly to Arette. "You know your limits... you've reached them but I'll restore you so you can channel a bit more and restore him," she wheels on Con. "And as for you! You may wear a white tunic Mister but she is still worthy of your respect and so you'll speak respectfully to her. She's only pitching this fit because she's so jealous of our friendship. It grates on her worse than a Saldean farm girl on feast day watching her best boy with a visiting Domani chit!" She'd said the last without thinking too much on it. Likely she'd regret it later.


"So, just accept that the woman is so fool blind in love with you that she can't see straight and let her do her bloody work so we can all have a moment of peace to enjoy our flaming food and then be on the blasted road!" Wheeling around she held her hands above Arette. "Shall I restore you now Sister?!?" She half demanded and half requested in a temper tantrum fitting of the prissy noble child she'd come to the Tower as.


Telcia was humbling her, but they had been a bit rediculous indeed. She didn't allow herself to reveal that Telcia had gotten at her though, so she spooned her soup steadily and wouldn't look up. She was willing to accept the compromise Telcia had come up with but then she stepped over the board. Arette could feel her cheeks alight and she laid down the utensil.


"Nice speech, Sister. I see that you still haven't lost all the heat you had in you when you originally came to the Tower. But I suppose it's understandable in this situation. Even the jealousy comment, which is justified in light of the history if not as true anymore."


She was interrupted by Iussi bursting into laughter. Light, she had forgotten that he was still in the room too. That and his reaction definately didn't endear the man to her. Iussi was still shaking with mirth. "Wife, they say that married couples get alike and I see indeed that I've had an influence on you." That earned him their best Aes Sedai stare from both Telcia and Arette and with a quick bow he exited, deciding that he wanted to get some fresh air.


Arette set aside her bowl. She was still hungry, but she would eat more in the kitchen - alone - after they got this little farce settled out. "Restore me then, Sister", she allowed in her most neutral tone.


Reaching out with her hands she began the restoration weave and in an instant the power washed over her Sister and then, it was done. Drawing breath and sighing a deep sigh, "I suppose I've done all the damage I can to my respectable demeanor for one day. I need to keep an eye on him so he doesn't get us into trouble. We'll talk more on the road. I'll see you downstairs." With that Telcia left the two alone to talk out what she'd just dropped on them with all the grace of a bull in a china shop.


Saidar swelled in Telcia and the usual glow surrounded her. She didn't waste time in weaving and Arette could feel all weariness washing out of her into her friend. She was refreshed and vigorated and with that her mood lightened up a notch too. She thanked Telcia paying special attention on calling her by her first name and watched for a moment her retreating. Iussi definately needed watching. He was like a big child never growing up and Arette didn't find his antics amusing in the least. But love was a funny thing and helped you to see the other in the best possible light, which was definately her saving grace with Con too. And as long as Telcia just was happy, she was happy.


Con was still wolfing down his food, so it propably wasn't the right moment for the weave. Maybe she could allow herself to eat a bit more too. She took a nice slice of dark bread and spread a generous amount of butter on it. She had no desire to say anything to Con right then, so for a moment they just dined in quiet.


Arette & Telcia & Con

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The meal passed in silence save for the sounds of chewing and swallowing. While Telcia had seen fit to tell them both off, but Con was far from cowed by it. As far as he was concerned, while what Telcia had done was expedient it didn't deal with the problem. Arette had to learn to trust sooner or later, and to do what was necessary instead of holding on like she'd chosen to. The dangers of her doing such a thing in a more serious situation aside, it was the question of trust. Not that he expected it to come easy, but it did have to happen eventually. But these considerations he kept to himself, there seemed little point in speaking of them for now.


The silence was starting to rub on Arette, so she decided to break it. "Are you ready for the restoring, Con?" She believed that she knew quite well what was going on in his head right then. He thought that they were right back at square one. "But first... do you think that Telcia's assesment of the situation was correct?"


Looking up at Arette, Con showed a care with his words that revealed he'd been thinking about it the entire time. "Yes. But I know you be trying, and that do be what be important."


She sighed. "I'm sorry. I don't want to cause any extra worry or problems. It's just... if that had been Calvin, I don't think that Telcia would have interfered at all. But I suppose that as your friend she has the equal right. Some old habits are just hard to break."


Shaking his head, Con got an ever better glimpse at what it was about, possessiveness. It wasn't just Aes Sedai that viewed men that way either. "It no be about whether she be right or you be having right. It do be about what be practical, you be tired and healing, she be fresher and be having more power to spare. Endangering yourself no less, over something that should no be an issue to begin with, it no be making sense."


Con's words showed that he didn't know that much about women after all. Or maybe he was just stating how it should have been. Arette shrugged. "Actually the compromise Telcia came up with is a better solution than the original one. If she had taken your tiredness into her too in addition to all the channeling she has done today already, she would have been the one we should have been supporting. But in a really tight spot this cannot become an issue and it won't, not if it depends on me."


He knew that Arette believed what she said, but Con didn't. All the swapping about of everyone's tiredness wore in itself, it seemed to make sense in his mind for only one person to channel instead of two. Then again, he wasn't the one that wore a serpent ring. But, there was little point in discussing it further, not without starting a fight anyway. "Alright... When you do be ready to weave, then be doing so."


Arette could sense that he wasn't convinced, but since they both seemed to want to drop the subject, she didn't press the matter. It would have been easier to weave facing him, but she needed to assure herself of things beings alright between them. She stood up from the chair for the first time since Healing and it was quite wonderful to be on her two feet again. She bent her knee a few times, testing how well it bent. To her relief, it was less stiff than she had feared from the warnings of the Reader. Then to Con's surprise, she sat on his lap and hugged him fiercely for a moment. "I really was scared for you, you know", she mumbled to his neck and rested her head on his shoulder for a moment.


Now when she was Healed and he would be in a better condition soon, the decision she had made seemed to be hard to fulfill. He had been sleeping in Brandeis' tent for the journey and right now too much dealing with her and Telcia could cause problems with the men. If they didn't make it to the next town with the leaving delayed, tonight they couldn't..., she thought with dismay. But they would see. Arette kissed Con lightly on the cheek right beside his lips and placed her hands gently on his temples. Somehow she just couldn't focus as well if she held the patient some other way. Saidar filled her with joy and life and she closed her eyes for a brief moment with a deep satisfied sigh. Then she began to draw his weariness into herself and it felt like a mountain descended on her shoulders. Her muscles felt strained and leaden and it was harder to concentrate since her brain felt a little fuzzy. She gave up Saidar with the same regret as always.


"Well, it's done", she stated the obvious. She didn't want to move quite yet. They would be leaving and then she would have to ride. She was decent at it and her thighs and bum had hardened on the way here, but with the speed they would keep up, she would end up sore tonight. Maybe even too fatigued to think romantic things, which would be a great shame.


Arette & Con

Aes Sedai & Child of the Light

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Feeling the weariness leeched from him, he could also see the effect of it flowing into Arette. Light but she would be a worry to watch today even though Telcia had done her best to prepare her. Even her words as she said she was done carried a tiredness he hadn't expected, had he truly been so drained? Feeling as he did now, it was hard to remember being quite so spent. With a newfound strength, he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer, letting her lean on him as he spoke. "Thank you Arette." Kissing her cheek, a hand snaked up her back to hold her more easily.


Con pulled her to him and his kiss on her cheek and hand on the small of her back lead Arette's thoughts to delicious spin. She didn't feel quite that tired suddenly. They might not have time for a full session, but she was going to make sure that he would be thinking of her on the road. And building anticipation for staying at the next inn. She moved her hips over his as if innocently searching for a better position until finally settling down against his chest.


"I think that we both have run out of our luck. I've been near to death three times... no, four times if today counts and I know of at least three times when you have had to be Healed. By all the signs, finding the men who took the children could turn out nasty. I would hate to think that something could happen to us, but lets be realistic, something might. So it would be wise to seize the moment and enjoy the time we have left. Especially since Light knows when we will see each others the next time."


She lifted her face and brought it close to his, gazing deeply into his eyes. "I'm saying that maybe I was being unnecessarily old-fashioned about certain thing... and my leg can't be used as an excuse anymore."


Con knew what was happening even as she began to speak. He wasn't being fair on her at all, now that she was burdened with his weakness, her will to hold to marriage first had likewise weakened. It would be hard for him, very hard in fact, but he couldn't let her do something she would regret later. "You do be making this difficult for me, very difficult. You did be wanting to marry first, and it no be right for me to be taking advantage now after what just be happening."


He didn't react quite in the way Arette had expected, but then this wasn't too out of the character. He was always the one with a steely temperance. And that was why it flattered her very much that he said he found it difficult. She pulled back a bit with a sigh. "But when would that be, Con? And what if something happened to you in between? I would never forgive myself for not... for not jumping your bones when I could have."


Moving the hand from her waist to take one of hers, he sqeezedas he spoke. "I do be charmed, I do be having you after all. Nothing be happening to me, and I no be losing you again, it do be that simple." Of course, with her in his lap and after so long, it was proving far more complicated. Very complicated in fact, but at the same time he didn't have the willpower to dislodge her.


Mhh... she could feel that his words were true and a it brought a smugly satisfied smile on her lips. It was quite intoxicating really. Still there was a small voice inside her whispering that if she did this now, she would be betraying everything Willamina had taught her. Light, the woman might not even let her wear her hair on braids if she found out about this. And somehow she would, she always did. But but... they were different than some small village girl and a boy and their situation was something else too. Light, they even had children together. And it had been so long from the last time. "It wouldn't be taking an advantage of, Con", she whispered. "I'm certain. I want to be with you so much."


"And I you." Lifting her hand up to his lips, he kissed her fingertips one after the other before speaking. "But you do be fearing to lose me, and in that fear do be the desire now I do be thinking. Before you did be so certain of marriage first, would you be feeling the same way tomorrow? Or the day after when this fear do be passing?"


Nooo! He wasn't going to succumb. "I can tell fear and desire from each others, Con, and this is pure desire. Tomorrow and the day after that I will be feeling the itch even worse, because I'll still know that we could be together." But she wasn't going to beg. It was interesting though, that they were talking about marriage now even when he hadn't even asked her. She took a deep calming breath. The first one didn't help, but maybe the second one would. "So what now? We'll go downstairs and get going?"


Light! She could tell the difference between fear and desire all well and good, the problem was that all Con could tell at the moment was desire. She might have an itch, but he definitely had an ache. Closing his eyes to try and gather himself didn't help, it just made his other senses like touch and scent sharper. His forehead creasing in a mix of concentration an anguish as he opened his eyes again, Con slowly nodded. "Soon enough."


She made a sound she wished sounded acquiescing. Con didn't look quite as adamant as the impression his words gave, his eyes closed and forehead knitted. It made her feel much better. And a little more confident that he might yet break. She was the one analyzing things, why did he have to start it all the suddenly and right now. This might be partially insecurity over Telcia, but he was lying if he denied this having started last night. And if they wouldn't leave quite yet, then she was going to get everything out of these precious minutes. She laid happily on top of his half-sitting form and trailed kisses slowly down his jaw and neck. Their one hands were joined but her thumb was free, so she moved it over his wrist and outside of the palm in caress.


Doing the right thing was painful. That was if he had the will to do it, lost as he was as Arette worked her way to his neck, brushing against him and even his hand she worked on! His other hand had been sliding down her back slowly in response before he realised what was happening. The only thing that saved him at that point was the realisation that if it kept up much longer, they wouldn't leave anywhere that day.


Forcing himself to free his hand that was entwined with hers, he placed his hands on her lips and shifted her down to the end of his knee. "Please, anymore and I no be control myself. It would be difficult to be explaining why your dress do be in pieces on the floor." The last said with a smile that spoke full well of how much Con hated what he was doing, he forced himself to his feet which in turn made Arette rise. "We do be needing to go down now, before we go too far."


Con's words made her purr and beam at him. She actually did have other dresses here as her saddlebags hadn't been carried downstairs yet, but he was right that they had to go after the children. She did not want to delay their rescue any further than she already had by getting her leg mauled... and by dropping off the stupid cliff. Still, they wouldn't be in this situation if all that hadn't happened. She heaved a huge sigh.


"But we will be talking about this later, right? You mentioned tomorrow and the day after. And we just might stay in an inn one night instead of the camp...." Even as she spoke, she bent over to grab her things from under the bed. She had bought the book she had been reading from the inn keeper. That way she would at least have something to amuse her during stops if he would continue to be so bloody resistant. Books were a bad substitute for sex, though.


She looked at him. "I love you, Con. Even though you are a meanie poo and no fun at all." She grinned weakly. "Lets go then. I'm sure Telcia must be wondering what kept us."


"And I do be loving you Arette." Taking her hand, she led her to the door and allowed her to pass through first. All the while mentally running over what they could have done if he hadn't decided to stick to her need for marriage. Not to mention if they didn't need to leave soon. It was almost enough to make him swear as he closed the door behind them.



Con Stavros

Child of the Light


Arette Nenatiar

A shade of Brown

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