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Real men don't stay sober ;) (Attn: Con & Brandeis)


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The camp was all set and they all could sit down and take a much needed breath after the harsh speed they had kept up. Telcia and Arette had decided to have a women's heart to heart moment right away when they had stopped and they still hadn't run out of it. Deprived of his wife's company, Iussi had offered to help the Children set up the camp. His offer was received with wariness since he clearly belonged to the group of the two Aes Sedai, but it had been accepted nonetheless. Now they were done and Iussi joined Con by the bonfire. He pulled a flask from his pocket. Telcia didn't much approve drinking, but a man had to have some bad habits. And besides, they might argue a bit about it tonight, which would then require sweet sweet making up. He grinned eagerly at the prospect. With her marriage dagger, it was of course dangerous living, but that was just how he liked it.


"Con my man, want to take a sip? You look like you need it and who of us doesn't after today. Phew. Quite a day. I have to say that you have much more courage than me." He nodded slightly to where Telcia and Arette were chatting even then. "She's a thorny one. Is it really worth it?" There was high doubt in his voice.


Taking a sip even as Iussi nodded over at the two women talking closely together, Con handed the flask back before answering. "You do be once having saidin in you and Telcia do be a Red Sister. Arette may once be an Aes Sedai and I do be wearing a white cloak, but circumstance do be mattering little, some things just do be as they are."


"Oh, I wasn't talking about the positions or anything, but the... ah..." He decided that it was safer to not step there after all. "No, never mind. And I was a charming scoundrel, who swept Telcia off her feet before anything else", Iussi stated with annoying self-confidence. "Everything else is just what the Wheel throws at us and that's what we promised to endure and win together. We've had more than our share, though. I really hope that once we get Jelane and Jamal back, we can have some resemblance of normal life." He was utterly serious for once and there was deep longing in his voice. "They were only infants when I last saw them. I might not even recognize them now even though I have seen the paintings Telcia has." A wry grin rose to his lips. "I hear that we're kind of in the same boat. Maybe we should find some kind of a deprived Daddy club. Another sip?"


Waving the drink off, Con stretched instead as he spoke. "I hope you do be able to be settling down with Telcia, for that no be my fate it do be seeming. After this all do be done, I do be returning to the Fortress of Light and rejoining the ranks of Lord Captain Milah's troops. It no be as if I do be able to be taking Arette with me." Falling quiet at this, Con found himself thinking about what had been tormenting him ever since he had decided his course with Arette. He could not be his daughters father without endangering them and their mother.


Iussi had been about to glower at Con and call him a bad sports for refusing the drinks. It was no fun alone and only pitiable drunks did it anyway. Still, maybe he would just put the spirits away and try to dissolve Con's soberness in other ways. It was a tough situation he was in, but there was always some silver lining. "Well, at least you won't have to bear her nagging. Think of it as if you were a sailor and could return home only once in a while. I'd imagine that the missus would be on her best behaviour then." To show that he was truly symphatizing though, Iussi gave Con's shoulder a firm pat.


Con had to admit, Iussi had a particularly rare talent when it came to such problems like these. That was to say, he could be guaranteed to say absolutely the worst possible thing at the worst time. On the otherhand, Con had known Iussi long enough to know what the man intended, and that was what mattered. "You no be knowing what happened between us, but for a time it do be bad, very bad. Now that I do be only just getting her back once more. I no be sure whether I do be able to leave her when the time do be coming, even though I do be knowing I must be doing so... Where do that flask be?"


Iussi handed the flask to him wordlessly, but his tongue couldn't be silent for too long. "Telcia told me something, but not much, mind you. Women have some kind of a conspiracy about that. They only tell everything to each others. I don't even want to know what they're talking right now." He shivered and took another small mouthful of the joy liquid. He could feel it burning pleasently in his belly already. He might even consider moderating the drinking a bit soon. "But sorry, I got sidetracked. I know just where you are and that's why I was - and am - such a bad Tower Guard. Of course I respect the Tower and all, but I really care just about Telcia and her safety. The question is that does being a Whitecloak really give you the feeling that you are doing something important and good? Enough to compensate everything else..."


Personally he thought that his way was the happier one, but then no one could call him really noble and a man of strong character. And that was what Con definately was. He couldn't be truly happy if he betrayed what he believed in for even love and family.


Looking sharply at Iussi, Con found himself beginning to remember that Iussi's habit of sticking his foot in his mouth was constant. "I only do be finding out I be a father recently. And I do be suggesting you no be calling the Children by that name. For all the faults they do be attributed in Tar Valon, you need only be talking to those around you to be finding they do be the same as any other men. Except for one difference, that they do be forswearing national ties to be doing something better. Even though Amadicia do be the home of the Children, and it do be in some ways similar to the Tower, you no be seeing Tower Guard riding in foreign nations to be driving out bandits and trying to make the land safer for all. Yes, they do be doing good things... Compensating for not being able to be the father that I should be, though..." Taking the flask, Con took a heavy draw of it.


It had been bad of Arette to have not told him about the children. But nothing she did would surprise Iussi for he didn't share his wife's appreciation of the woman. Con's look darkening made even Iussi realize that he had made a mistake and what it was. "I apologize, truly. Children of the Light... I will remember it. The other name is just what they are called by in Tar Valon and almost everywhere else too. But you are right that they... or you actually aren't that different from any soldiers. There is something similar in every camp and barrack no matter what colours they're wearing. Still it seems that everyone here is quite determined and motivated by other things than wage and I doubt it's just the mission. Especially this mission now when certain things have become evident to them." He nodded toward the two Sisters. "Have you sounded out the men about that?" He was responsible of Telcia's safety and well-being after all, so he had to know.


"Yes and no." Iussi was forever mercurial it seemed, quick to make a blunder but usually just as quick to apologise. Usually. "I did be choosing my men, they all do be people that I do be saving at one point or another, in the case of the Inquisitor he do be a good friend. Despite the Hand's desire to be rid of me, publically no less, he do be risking much to be keeping true to our friendship. Not all of them do be agreeing with it, but I do be thinking that them seeing Aes Sedai healing a friend of theirs do be meaning much to them. That and they do be holding my life in their hands, I do be trusting them. If I no be trusting them, I would no be taking them to begin with."


"That's good to hear. I should be keeping Telcia safe after all and..." He lowered his gaze. "I am not good enough. Yet. So extra protection is good. But Con, you are truly a lucky man." Iussi smiled at him. "You make lasting friends where ever you go, because you are so honourable and reliable." He knew well that he had more acquintances than close friends, but he was very loyal to those with such a bond to him. Often his friendship could be a hinderance though, since he also knew that he was too rash and tactless. If he had stayed in Ebou Dar, he would propably be dead in a duel over matters of honour by now.


"With that do be enemies, the same as anyone else. Besides, you no be the lad that did be discovering Justin Pardisen no? We do be coming a long way, and we do be having further to be going yet." Hearing footsteps behind him, Con turned to find Brandeis with a bottle in hand. "You do be needing some help with that I do be thinking."


Justin Pardisen? Iussi stretched his memory to remember who that was. Ah, there had been some nutcase Warder going around killing people and this guy had been one of the victims. As wee trainees with only few weeks behind them, Iussi and Ragan had discovered his body. He had been run through and was pinned against his door with his own sword. There had been guts and blood around and it wasn't a pretty sight. The man had been the first one killed in such a cruel way that Iussi had seen. He and Ragan both had emptied their bellies in horror and disgust. He didn't get why Con had mentioned him now. Maybe to illustrate how long they had known each others. He didn't have time to ponder it any futher as the the Inquisitor, who was Con's buddy joined them. Iussi nodded at him politely. He could be that too, if he only wanted to. Most of the time he just didn't bother.


"I'd be glad to assist with the bottle too, if my company is welcomed. You're are Brandeis, right? I'm Iussi Dyfelle." He extended his hand for the man to shake.


Con Stavros & Iussi Dyfelle

Child of Light & Tower Guard

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Life had spun out of control. Bowel movements, fuel; vocation were still his to influence, but the important decisions lay uncomfortably on the shoulders of two witches and a Child of the Light. Brandeis was in process of convincing himself that at least one of the three had taken too many blows to the head. Further more: life was intolerably unfair and the only possible correction for this gross oversight was libation. Indeed, ceremonial libation based on the foundation of ritual drinking. Swallowing a concoction so 'holy' that it is was just as likely melt the cup it was in as not. Sadly

Brandeis possessed none of this and would simply have to make do.


The Inquisitor’s ultimate design of the evening was to make his way unnoticed beyond the camp where he hoped he could drink himself into some form of permanent coma. He was more than a little surprised when his enterprise collapsed with one swift

greeting: "You do be needing some help with that I do be thinking." No! "I'd be glad to assist with the bottle too, if my company is welcomed. You're are Brandeis, right? I'm Iussi Dyfelle." No your company is not welcome. Die!


Brandeis could think of no clean way to remove himself from the situation: "by all means, friend." The hearty tone of his voice and the vigourous shake of the hand masked the various stages of agony he was fantasising.


Slipping the bottle away from Brandeis as the Inquisitor shook the Tower Guard's hand, Con proceeded to take a heavy swig just as the man realised it was no longer in hand. Handing the bottle back to Brandeis, Con couldn't help but wonder where the bottle had come from. It was similar to what Brandeis had earlier in the trip,

and he knew Brandeis well enough that the man had gone through a few more bottles, and possibly had more. Where he kept them while they traveled was

beyond Con. "How do the men be?"


The Inquisitor thought for a time: phrasing his response. "Black looks are few. Only one dangerous rumour has been in circulation, but it was ‘quashed’ before it took flame; the Child responsible was spoken to. Few are pleased with the company you are keeping, but all, for some reason unknown to me, are willing to lay down their lives for your judgement." Was Brandeis not doing the same thing? "They are eager and restless as a soldier ought to be."


"It do be good to know. I know I do be asking alot of them, and you as well, it no be something I ever be forgetting. There no be much to be looking eager to though, I no be thinking we do be completing this mission without bloodshed at the end of it. With the Aes Sedai to be backing us our chances do be better, the shadow be having channelers of their own and it do be possible we be straying across one in this." Not a pretty thought at all.


Grinning, Brandeis replied. "Nor do I intend to let you forget. You may know better than any of us the vulnerabilities of wit . . . 'channelers', I say that were we to face such opposition, we would simply have to defeat it! We can do nothing other than be prepared . . . and of course, pass the drink!"


Passing the bottle to Brandeis, Con had noticed Iussi had been uncharacteristically quiet. If anything, the problem was making him silent rather than encouraging him to speak. "What do be on your mind Iussi? And what do you be thinking of the Children so far? Different to what be taught in Tar Valon no?"

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Iussi was surprised and pleased by the warmth of the welcome and took it at the face value. He could hardly be accused of being an astute reader of emotions. He paid close attention at the beginning to the discussion between Con and Brandeis about how the Whitecloaks were taking it all since it could be a threat to Telcia, but the situation seemed to be well under hand. Oddly his thoughts begun to wander and he was actually thinking. He and Telcia had spoken on the way and here about why this all was happening. Or well, she had been mostly doing the talking and he had listened. He could do that too. She seeemed to think that somehow what had happened to him was connected to this too. That was one odd case for the Tower didn't have such a farm as the one where he had been kept. But he was insignificant really. Why would anyone have been interested of him enough to see that kind of trouble?


He was distracted from his reverie by Con's questions. Glancing at Brandeis, he wasn't certain how much Con had told the man. He hadn't seemed too surprised about Telcia and Arette, so he must have known at least that. But male channelers were an entirely different species and maybe even more hated than the Aes Sedai. "Oh the men seem to be really fine guys, like I told you earlier. Definately different than how the stories paint them. I suppose you tell the same kind of propaganda about the Sisters. As for what I was thinking... How much have you told Brandeis here about me? And has Telc or Arette told you where I was after being "released"?" He stressed the last word wryly to imply that he meant just the opposite.


"Nothing at all, that do be your tale if you do be wishing to tell it. But, Brandeis did be accepting the possibility that there do be just possibly good Aes Sedai. At least, Aes Sedai that no be Darkfriend." Smiling at Iussi, he shrugged. "It do be up to you. Perhaps it would be shedding some light for him on how much Telcia be able to give of herself."


"Fine then." Iussi nodded at Brandeis. "Me and Telcia ran away to get married. She thought for a moment that she could be free of the White Tower and just be Telcia, not Telcia Sedai. But then we found out about the approaching Shadowspawn attack against Tar Valon and had to return. Funny that if you think it from the point of view of the Children, must have looked like two Dark One's troops clashing. Anyway, I was just a Trainee then albeit close to being promoted and receiving my punishment for getting off like that without permission. I had no right to participate the battle and I was really just a hinderance to everyone, but I went there anyway. I should have died, but... something happened and I survived. I passed out. A few days later when I was dueling with a good friend... I used Saidin again and went unconscious. The moment I woke up, I told Telcia of course. She is a Red Sister and they deal with these kind of things."


"Only the Tower had changed their Laws and instead of Gentling me right away, they wanted to study me. They want to find the cure to the actual problem - the Taint - and not just deal with the symptoms. Ok, I love my voice but to make the long story short, they kept me for almost a year with the Amyrlin changing and all. I missed my children being born. When they finally did the Gentling and released me, the Reds told me where to find Telcia. Only in the city some Tower Guards stopped me and told me that I had to come with them and spend some time in a rehabilitation farm. They kept me for months too, but it was a scam and I found out later that they had nothing to do with the Tower. Telcia thinks that it might have something to do with our children gone missing, but I just don't see the connection. And I don't understand why Jelene and Jamal were taken. They might become strong channelers in the future, but that's at least ten years away. Right now they are just children of no particular importance."


Iussi sighed. "Sorry, it was long. I know that I don't often come across like I'd want to, so I might have given a bad picture of the Tower. But I believe that they had a good cause. Things just can get jammed up with all the politics there. Especially the Reds though deserve every respect in this world. They do a difficult job and don't really get thanked for it. And Sisters are as much individuals as we all. They just hide it under that "mysterious" facade for the most of the time." Well, he had spoken for some time. He needed something to wet his throat. Con had currently Brandeis' bottle, so Iussi reached for it. Con didn't resist when he took it... in fact, he looked somehow odd and he sat strangely too.


"Is everything alright, Con? Do you need to go relieve yourself or something?" But it wasn't really his problem. Con was a big boy and knew when to go. So he turned to Brandeis, who hadn't said anything yet. "So what do you make of that? And do you think that your bottle is tainted now when I've drunk from it?"


Iussi Dyfelle & Con Stavros

Tower Guard & Child of the Light

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“The bottle is indeed tainted, but not by any past crimes.†The comment was delivered with a sober expression, and a flat, serious tone: the type of comment to inspire awkward silence as the possible implications of it register. Brandeis gave no quarter, and the only guidance of his intent that he offered was the mischievous light in his eyes.


“In my younger days I would have struck you down where you sit. By the same token I would have never allowed you into a camp of my fellow children. The two Aes Sedai you are with would have been put to death, and I very definitely would not have been serving under the command of a former Tower Guard Captain."


“It is fair to say that things do not appear as they once did. I declare that were the Dark One himself to reveal himself to me in all his darkness, I doubt I would do more than knock back a few glasses and toast his good health.â€


Laughing, Con swiped Brandeis bottle once again and made sure to get what he could before Brandeis levelled a glare at him. Handing the bottle back, Con grinned at the man. "You know, I do be thinking we need another bottle, a few in fact. It no be good for us to be drinking and the rest of our Children to be going sober. You still do be having a few bottles after all, no?"


“I have no idea what you are talking about. Why, I am positive that this fine bottle in my hand is the last of my stock.†His face softened and he gazed appreciatively at the bottle, then caught Con’s gaze. “What? No. No. I refuse. I absolutely refuse. It is your job to provide for your men: not mine. I don’t have to share and you can’t make me. You cannot . . . Bah! Fine then, but you’re helping me carry.â€


With one last look of defiance he tilted his chin up, rose from his seat and started for his tent. “Well, come along then!†He called over his shoulder to the two other men and indicated that they were to follow him. Once outside his tent, Brandeis raised his palm in warning and spoke a sharp, “wait outside,†before disappearing under the flap.


Brandeis rummaged around inside his tent, solid sounding objects were knocked from their perches, locks rattled, wood scraped and finally there came a disquieting sound, as if a corpse were being dragged along the tent floor. Brandeis felt as though he were sacrificing a child to the worship of some dark entity, in actuality he was pulling a heavy trunk, laden with bottles of potent liquor across the ground. As he finally emerged, he pointed Con to the trunk and said, “here you are, big fella, it is all yours.â€


Where Brandeis had managed to secret a trunk, Con had absolutely no idea, but he wasn't going to complain for the moment. Reaching down and taking one end, Iussi took the other and together, the three made their way to the fire where the Children were gathered. All talk stopped as they saw the trunk and heard the clink of bottles, and it was with a grin that Con announced "Inquisitor Brandeis do be seeing fit to be sharing his liquor tonight, for once. Anybody?"


Everybody was the answer to that question, passing bottles out, it wasn't long before the Children were drinking away steadily and joking, mostly at Inquisitor Brandeis expense. The man drinking alone and not sharing since they'd reached Fernhill had caused a bit of resentment, but that at least was being cleared up with this act of generosity. Not that Brandeis looked completely happy about the matter, but at least he got something out of it.


Brandies was not too unhappy about the entire thing, but decided not to let on. He could, and would get more from his “supplier†some time, and he was the first to admit that he was developing too fond a taste for the stuff. Having it all consumed would relieve that temptation. There would be nothing left to take the edge of his discomfort, and this was lamentable. To make himself feel better he decided to kick a few of the children once they were thoroughly drunk and unable to remember it in the morning.

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Brandeis' comment had Iussi's brain buzzing. Was it an insult or not? But they weren't in Ebou Dar now where he would have already drawn his daggers and they'd be dueling. Telcia needed these men, the Children would help them to rescue their children. His hand sneaked to the hilt of his blade when the Inquisitor mentioned the Aes Sedai dead, but relaxed when he finished the sentence and Iussi realized that the man had been joking. A strange sense of humour, but Iussi grinned at his reaction nonetheless. Sometimes the best jokes were the ones you recognised as such only afterwards.


Iussi arched his eyebrows when Con wanted to get the rest of the men drunk too. He supposed that it was just fair to not have just the commanders enjoy carousing, but would the men be capable of keeping up the speed tomorrow? Would he? Nah, siezing the moment was good. Better worry about tomorrow when it came or not even then. There was a slight duel of wills between Con and Brandeis, but finally the Inquisitor agreed to share from his stock. Wait? Why did an Inquisitor have that much booze anyway? Was he a drunkard or something? But it wasn't his business, really, so Iussi just stoically took the other end of the trunk full of bottles and helped Con haul it to the men.


Like any soldiers, the Children eagerly grabbed their share of drinks and began to make merry. The trio returned to their bonfire watching the camp relax and the bottle did its rounds among them. Iussi broke the reverent silence chuckling.


"I don't think that Telcia and Arette will much appreciate this little stunt. To that." The sip he took drew a line of fire down his throat adding to the pleasent state of intoxication. "You have a lass waiting somewhere, Brandeis?"



Tower Guard

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