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Land Beneath the Sky (Lavinya & Corin)

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The intelligence, such as it was, had been in her possession for two days. Yet three times a day, and more often during the watches of the night, she would review it, as if somehow she expected it to change.


Saline wasn’t sure what that meant. She wasn’t sure if she was excited by the news, or disquieted. That troubled her enormously, for she prided herself on knowing her whims and moods like no other.  For seventy-one years she trained and won that vaulted position of aes sedai, by besting all her base instincts; but now she was none the wiser than the rest.


She was restless again, now that Corwin and his aiel student were merely a heartbeat away. The chatter in her head became more urgent, even as she schooled her expression into a mask of calm.


“Thank you, Lavinya Sedai,” she said, not unkindly “but I must see for myself.” Alone. Mitya would throw a fit, but not if she left their party before he noticed.


She had witnessed the intimacy between Lavinya and Corin in the morning when she woke, restless, apprehensive of what she’d find at the camp. It would be good to give the two their chance to create happiness. Saline was not entirely surprised - there was talk - and pretended she hadn’t seen them together.


Ooc: Thanks guys! And sorry, I just noticed shouldn't have a fire in the barn lol. Saline's snuck out with a pack slung over her shoulder. If you're at the inn I'll do the note and we've closed our timeline perfectly :)

Edited by Lih-Lyh
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Sunshine, like a collection of diamonds dancing over a babbling brook glinted off the edge, danced with the point. Ribbon Of Air; tip bouncing in light controlled flicks as it crossed in front of him. His breath flowing with the movement of his body though Cat Crosses The Courtyard. An empty comfort wrapped him lake a familiar and cherished blanket. The memory of another blanket pulled tight around the frail and isolated woman passing briefly though memory, sliding over the unseen glass of separation in his mind. How to protect, the thought a faint whisper from the depths. His movement turned, The Swallow Takes Flight; brought a bar of sun shine sliding over the swords blade as it flowed from left hip toward right shoulder. The sun’s reflection played off the emerald of his eyes; glinted with intensity in the lack of emotion that touched them. Peace, it flowed through him. A mirror of the smooth motion that made the blade an extension of his arm; his body fluid like water as it shifted between motions. The Swallow Takes Flight in mid rise reversed sharply into the quick slash of Lizard In The Thornbrush it’s bottom sweeping out to the right as he pivoted; sinking to one knee; arm outstretched and parallel to the ground over his right hip. Troubled earthen eyes; not the chestnut of Lavinya, wandered across the surface inwardly intent yet lost. Mystery, a sensation of confusion following their passage over the smooth surface and passing back into the darkness beyond his inner sanctuary.


The tip bounced a slight staccato beat to match that of his elevated pulse; muscle chewing through the oxygen fuel provided from the quicken pace of his breathing; a ghosting of the sun reflected off it dancing in time along his cheek. Twin orbs of steel; emotionless, sharp and cunning; radiating with life materialized on the surface and threatened to enter his peace. Intense in focus, demanding a measure of him; Loss. He let them linger long than he should; attention starting to slip inward; focus shifting, a tremor beginning to build slightly in his arm. The tight edges of the dancing ghost upon his cheek beginning to blur lightly before he regained the measure of control slipped. Thrust the orbs into the dark center and watched them fade away into the black wick. He needed this time to center himself; to find a scrap of clarity after two nights of confused emotions.


Worn and cracked poles running between the posts of the corral fence before him sagged slightly under the load they held; flexed but inner strength held them strong. Worn on the outside, weathered with the passage of time and the abuse of the sun. His beguiled belief in youth at the vision of a Warder. The stoic comrade and shield to a woman capable of wielding Saidar; the peoples hope of protection and life when the Great Battle returned. He saw that same awe in the twinkling myriad of color that dotted the fence. Saw it in the eyes of the farmers children as they watched him flow through the motions. Felt it in the small gasps and radiated tension that vibrated their bodies as they watched him work through the forms. Each drilled into him in the dust and dirt of the yard, driven in to the memory of his muscles from repetitive cycles; the quick snap of lathe correcting misplacement and wrong step. All under the ever-present shadow of the shining Towers; the seeking and measuring eyes of the women who scurried their halls. Storm gray began to form on the glassy surface and he forced it back away. Peace, he sought it; found it briefly here in the void while his body moved through routine; a second nature.


The sun on his outstretched hand was like a liquid warmth that surrounded it; the matched sensation of blood as it coated the warriors hand. How many matching eyes like those that dotted the fence swam in the salty sea of tears lost when they found out that their father or mother was never coming home. How many of them silently stared their questions at him? A burning ache battered at the fragile glass surface; threatened to shatter it like the delicate porcelain of sea folk cups. His muscles screamed at him, their capabilities to hold the form wavering. How long had he lost himself to contemplation? The tremor carried through what should have been a liquid smooth rise, wrist rolling the edge gently in time with the tips arc as it passed over foot and back around to the center. Balance, at one time he falsely believed he knew what that was. Believed he held it in the protective and sanitary walls of the yard. A falseness the Creator had shown light on when he had pulled Sirayn’s thread from the pattern; twisted Lavinya’s thread with his own and shattered the firm ground he had stood on. Lessons, Reiken, Rosheen, Orion. All floated gently over the surface of the void; awareness and understanding but separated from attachment. They had worked to guide him, train him, mentor him; each in their own way and fashion. There had been many over the years. But among them, these he returned to in memory, bantered with internally as he had in person. Where has the pattern placed you now?


An inner grimace flexed the void briefly as muscle and joints were forced to motion once more. The movement outwardly neat and flowing as the sword dipped, rotated, and slipped comfortably back into the darkness of it’s scabbard. Sacrifice, sheathing the sword. A final form, one breath above desperation. There was a time where Corin could not imagine the need for such a movement. The need to sacrifice one’s self and draw the enemies blade into his own flesh in order to strike the killing blow to save another. He had understood the principal Reikan had taught, had sought for him to understand. Then his world had changed; shifted and turned on it’s head. There, in the loss and darkness that lay heavy on his brow he had almost sought it recklessly without cause. He had danced around it’s center but could not take the final step forward to meet it’s need; always something held that final step from completion. The Creator not yet finished with his thread in the wheel’s weavings. Peace, the elusive foe he could not catch. Here in the void he found a measure of it’s comfort. A false empty reflection of it’s true richness. The emptiness a hollow and lonely substitute for it’s true embrace.


The breeze shifted slightly and brought forth a hint of familiarity in a teasing light floral scent, there and yet not, in it’s passing. Scars, with a bond he could have pointed straight to her location without looking. But they were not; he had denied her then. Watched the tremendous pain surge through her eyes before she contained it. The Aes Sedia mask falling neatly in place to hide her true emotions, but they had been there; brief and raw. Yet now he could sense her gaze upon him from somewhere near the barn. In the voids embrace and isolation; could pickup the hint of scent in the passing air. One day would he would reach the levels of the masters of this discipline? The thought passing quickly beyond focus as he released the held breath. Trial, it was time to face her again. A tentative truce struggled to hold life between them. She had come to him in the night; another dream forcing her upright. She wanted no questions, just the safety and warmth of knowing she was not alone. Not him, he only caused pain to those near him. No, certainly not him by choice. Convenient familiarity perhaps, but not him; not what had been. Peace, his hand closed involuntarily, the ghost of her fingers laced between his own. How was he to find it?


There was little interaction between the two beyond common curtsies, but at least he could offer her a genuine smile, if small, and meet her eyes. They were small steps, which meant progress as the flair of emotion and tension that often burst between them remained absent. For most of the morning he had followed directly behind the carriage on Ayende the puzzles still at work in his head. But his spirit lighter than it had been; had approached at times during their training. The purpose of the sisters they sought played in the corner of his mind. Too many pieces missing for him to put the picture together. Saline was driven by their disappearance. Not just a search for sisters-in-arms. No, the way she poured over notes last night when she thought no one looking made it appear personal. The incessant need to drive forward through secrecy and half truths cemented the belief. Who is it you seek? You are driving us to the foot step of the Father of Lies. What do they mean to you Saline?


By mid day he had unconsciously moved back to the side of the carriage once more. The faithful pup returned to it’s masters heel. His mind working the puzzles in his head while his eyes swept a constant watch but did not fully take in the surroundings. Too relaxed he had become on the Red Guard’s vigilance to keep them safe. The jab of realization inching tension back into his shoulders as he became more aware of the road they traveled. The Aes Sedai had brought him to ensure their safety, not to play at puzzles. But their calling was so strong and comforting; a bargain internally struck. Saline’s puzzle remained for his mind to toil at while his greater focus remained with their present passage.


It was mid afternoon when the party finally rolled in to the village of Katar and came to a stop in front of another small Inn. Captain Mitya and his men secured the lodging and began the unloading of trunks and bags. With Ayende secured to the post and the other activities underway he was left with one task to complete. Opening the door, he had offered his sister his hand and a bright smile only a hint of strain flattening the ends. “Come sis, it is not what you are used to. But the good captain has made the best effort he could I am sure.” The smile dropping to a scowl as the eyed the man briefly. People had pasted while Lavinya stepped out; eyes following her moves and whispers following the passing people. By the twinkle in Mitya’s eyes he was sure the man had planned the whole thing. Forced to the front he played his part of the charade for the eyes of the village. The puzzle spun again; mind searching for more pieces while he assisted her maid from the carriage and distractedly fell in behind them as if in the tower escorting the Aes Sedai they were.

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After having one of the better sleeps she’d experienced at night for quite some time, Lavinya had foolishly expected that the worst of her nightmares were behind her and had allowed herself to slip into bed and sleep like a normal person; that expectation had been rudely torn asunder when a scant hour after drifting off she had found herself once more in the grip of a very real and very troubling terror. Linten’s face a mask of mingled menace and delight as he employed the birch to her trussed frame, an image formed from very real memories that the light of a candle could not diminish, nor even the memory of the strong frame she had found solace against last night. No, the laugh echoed in her ears, the air was his breath on her neck, every shadow held his cruel, grasping hands. 


On reflection Lavinya should have questioned the fact that she found herself alone in the small bed chamber, Saline having left to confer with a contact about the details of Corwin’s camp or some such, but it wasn’t the first time the woman had stayed out until dawn so rather than know concern, the Grey only felt relief at the solitude which let her vulnerability go unnoticed. This time. Lavinya flushed hotly. Twice running she had shown the highly embarrassing brokenness to Corin Danveer, and if the first was not at her choosing the second certainly was. He’d still not said a word about it which was a relief in itself but she had no idea just how he was thinking. Was he embarrassed for her? Did he feel pity? Did he resent her forcing a show of closeness he did not want nor feel? He had allowed it but how much was duty and good manners and how much, if any of it, was the simple urge of a man who once claimed to care offering comfort? She paced in the small room between the narrow cots, fending off the lingering images of the dream and focusing instead on the irritating and complex knot that was her child’s father. Even now her feet itched, urging her to go find him, to let the memories fade into insignificance beside the very real warmth of his embrace but her pride – what little she had left – demanded she not be so wretchedly weak.


In the end it was the uncertainty as to just how much he had despised the contact (and not knowing precisely where he slept) that helped her stay her feet, instead maintaining wakefulness through the night until the sky lightened enough for her dreams to be banished and an all-too-brief nap to be snatched before the day began proper. She had filled more pages in her journal, trying to articulate the complex emotions and feelings of that midnight embrace that her child, their child may one day understand should she not live to tell her. It could almost have been a dream in itself so unremarked upon as it was, but if so I should wish to dream like it a thousand times. Lavinya snapped it closed and slid the journal back into its pouch before looking for breakfast, thinking soon she would need a second volume. It seemed she had a knack for being rather verbose when it came to muddling over her fractious relationship with Corin and the girlish yearnings of her heart. If it weren’t for Elise I should burn all evidence of such foolishly weak prattling and inappropriate displays of emotion. I would be ruined as Aes Sedai. She probably already was, an Aes Sedai who could not sleep, mooning over an unrequited love while hiding a secret child. Add to it her already questionable reputation for being a philandering lightskirt and it’s a wonder she hadn’t been cast out in disgrace already. She gritted her teeth; no, she had earned it and by the light it was about all she had left to her, it was the sleeplessness making her agitated.


The guard and Corin lingered over their own breakfasts in the common room when she descended from her room, doing her best to present the perfect amiable noblewoman and not the haggard vagrant that she actually felt like. Willem near tripped over his own feet to pull out a chair for her at the table – he at least seemed to think she looked acceptable in the bold scarlet gown, given his eyes scarcely roamed elsewhere – but she thought Corin’s smile was a bit tight, his gaze a bit too perceptive where they lingered over her eyes and their weary shadows. He would certainly not look at her so admiringly she thought dourly, allowing young Willem to dance his sweet but bumbling attentions on her to ensure m’lady has everything she needs. It seemed as yet they had no further instructions as to the camp from Saline and so they would bide; Captain Mitya would see then to restocking some of their provisions with his guard until they knew more about their next movements.


“Would you like to visit the market, my Lady? I’d be happy to escort you…” Ahh he was so young, scarcely more than a teenager, if that, but he was bold, Lavinya had to give him credit for that. His blush was a charming touch – she’d rather grown to find it endearing in Corin – when the subject of her thought smoothly interjected that he had already promised to assist his sister that day and that young Willem would be best carrying sacks of grain to feed m’lady’s carriage horses. She had been intending to refuse the lad of course; she had no interest in flirtations save from one corner. If only he would not deny her any such playfulness or enamoured doting she thought wistfully, only raising a brow at his interference in question. Perhaps he was softening? To actually seek her company was highly unusual in this new Corin though she was pleasantly surprised to find it, just as she had been when his hand appeared to help her from the carriage only yesterday after doing his best to dodge the task as often as possible. Hope flared in her chest and she sought valiantly to hold it down, something in his expression not as encouraging as she might have expected.


Her intuition had proved correct; Corin’s promise of ‘assistance’ was sheer physical torture as he put her through her paces once more in an effort to train her at arms. How easily he held himself aloof, issuing commands and relentless corrections delivered with the flick of fletched arrow. She believed she remembered well their first lesson though apparently it was not remembered to his liking and nor was her fitness or musculature up to par given the exercise he pushed her through. Lavinya’s temper was flaring wildly, all the more so when she gained the impression he was actually enjoying himself, light blind the mule-headed cur, but she held onto it tightly, reminding herself that this was to help her after all, and that she had endured worse. Still, given she was already tired from her sleepless night and it was only exacerbated by the physical exertions. Was this punishment, perhaps? For being weak, for daring to intrude upon his boundaries in the still of the night when it was harder for him to cast her away? Or perhaps annoyance that she should have let the lad smile at her so? No, never that, he probably didn’t even notice. It was very likely that it was purely because she was Lavinya Sedai – he needed no further reason to direct his ire at her than that.


She still didn’t entirely understand why he was so often angry with her in particular, she only had assumptions and guesses but honestly, it was so undeserved. She was only trying to help the stubborn brute! And he is now helping you. She couldn’t deny the truth of that, though as she stood panting, sweat-slicked and weary – the ache would be back soon – she didn’t really like it. Something in his expression told her he knew despite her not saying a word of complaint – well only one or two perhaps – knew and was possibly amused by it, or mayhap just satisfied at her suffering. Either way she had never been so happy to sink into a hot bath in her life after that gruelling round of torment, and thankfully there was still time to nap before the evening meal. She was determined to meet him again composed, relaxed and amiable.  



OOC: Ok after reading the thread where we get the note again I realised a few things were mentioned about the day that didn't happen yet in this thread so I lengthened the time to being now the second afternoon/night in the inn (had to fit in the training and lack of sleep!). Not sure how you plan to send the note but it will mean Saline has a whole day on the guard's pursuit, Lavinya sent them after her but up to you if they ever catch up or you went it alone :). After that we should be all squared up at last, hurrah!

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Holding her lady’s coat up by the collar loop, Saline brushed it down as she carried it towards a row of wall hooks. “Anything else, lady Elessar?” she asked over her shoulder, hanging the coat up. 


Thus excused, after a simple curtsey, Saline left the party at the inn.


This morning reminded her of something. In the way that a dream forgotten from last night caught up suddenly and became memory again. As with such dreams, Saline couldn’t define or reconnect the memory. But there was a feeling there. Sadness. Regret.


Everything about Saline, in fact, was hidden. Hiding was what the aes sedai did. They hid themselves and their thoughts, their emotions, their hopes and their fears. They knew Saline, but they didn’t know her at all. She doubted anybody did . . .

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  • 3 weeks later...

Saline sat still for as long as she could, knowing she needed the rest, needed to wait for daybreak, but there was a ticking impatience inside her. They weren’t out of this, and every step seemed triumphantly and incredibly, worse than the last. She had hoped for daylight, prayed for light - light would make everything better . . .


They were on foot about an hour later, a half dozen guards along with Captain Mitya and Saline, and moved north. Their route followed a farm road up through the rolling landscape in the direction of a smaller town north of Katar.


The day was warm and still, the sun climbing slowly behind a blanket of hazy grey. No wind blew across the sticky, rain-darkened soil. This landscape was empty and dead. It had once been a lush agricultural zone, similar to the fertile region around Tanchico where Saline had grown up and where her family owned a piece of land. Her own lands, long abandoned and razed before she left them, in all likelihood resembled this now - somewhere only the roughest grasses and strangest trees grew. 


It was a distressing sight. Saline said little was she walked along, but she could empathize with the fallen feelings these hired guards were hiding. When had it began suffering? The land, the climate, the plants had all begun to suffer, as if diseased. Such was the nature of their desperate war against the shadows.


As they traveled together into the deep woodlands, under the grey sky, the aes sedai and her mercenaries said little to one another. Both, for different reasons, were used to being silent.


Mitya walked with Saline, their boots sinking into the overnight rain-mushed earth. 


“Saline, I do be sorry about all the precautions.”


“You don’t have to be sorry. I understand.”


“Anyway, I do be sorry we followed where we do no be wanted.”


“I understand.” Saline repeated.


“We do be worried about you. Your . . . friends. They sent me so I do be looking after you, and make sure you do no be followed.”


“I know. Since I left.”


“Since before that, Saline. It do be you who left, to establish contact. But it do no have to be you alone, yes?”


“My . . . friends stayed at the inn?”


“Back in Katar.”


Saline nodded, as if this small fact made her world a better place. 


“Please send one of your men with a message from me to my two friends. Don’t wait. We will go on this mission without them.”


“I do be sad to hear it. They do be working well together.”


“You’re here, aren’t you?”


“That we do be."


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