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A Faceless Future [OPEN]


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OOC: This is part two of a two part return for Corin of the Tower Guard, please see: http://forums.dragonmount.com/index.php/topic,46430.0.html for RP information and OOC conversation. Anyone who wants to join in and interact with us, please feel free.



Glancing over at Jaydena Sedai, Corin could not help remember how things had changed since that first meeting in the tavern where they had found him. It was his own fault really. Perhaps those last few months as a sellsword had rubbed off on him more then he thought. None of the little company now working their way north toward Tar Valon seemed to find quite the same humor in the little stunt he had pulled. Thinking back, as the long silent trip often allowed him, he might have reacted the same way the Gaidin did. Well maybe more then might have. But it seemed so natural, the way the groups gauged another’s skill without drawing blood. It was not like he was actually going to try to hurt either of them. Well not the Aes Sedai, and the Gaidin … well not a lot, just enough to make himself feel better. Subconsciously he rubbed his jaw again. He would have to work harder on his hand-to-hand combat if he ever thought to try that man in a match again. Well, train harder and ensure his little handmaiden was not in the area. That thought traced a brief sketch of a smile to his face.


Drawing his eyes back to the White spires thrusting into the sky Corin took a moment to remember how he had felt the first time he had seen those gleaming white points. The foolish youthful dreams that had filled his head and made him marvel at the sight like so many other first time gawkers. It had changed for him over the years, fantasy and dreams becoming reality and calling. The desire for adventure replaced with the need to play at the game and find a way to set himself above the others for one set of grey eyes. Sirayn where are you? How could you abandon me … us when the time is growing short. His eyes flicked over the points and settled on one that should have held her. Should have, but no longer did. From this distance he could not make out anything more then a white spike among others. But he had known certain parts of those towers very very well.


A heavy despairing weight seemed to settle on him as they continued in near silence toward a fate he was beginning to doubt he really wanted to face. It had seemed like a logical idea for a while now. Only having it once more looming in sight and growing larger by the step, he was no longer sure he could face the demons that awaited him in the Tower. There would be many, Sirayn not being the least of them. How many would have disappointment in their eyes when they saw him again? How would the Commander deal with him? Then there was the other problem that he had kicked off just before Sirayn had disappeared. Would Lavinya be back in the Tower after her hasty departure? What if anything would he see in her eyes? The murmur of his traveling companions drew his attention back. There conversation as usual was not for him. Cutting a quick glance to Jaydena once more he could not help but feel a surge of regret. She had done nothing to him in the beginning. In fact, for finding a run away guard she had been very kind to him. He had repaid that kindness with a cold jab at her heart she did not deserve. But the horse was already out of the barn and he would not be able to take back those words, or the actions he had done in his desire to secure himself in Sirayn’s eyes.


With the tower beginning to take over the horizon Corin could not help old habits from wanting to slip back into an old familiar norm. His eyes took in the gleaming white spikes and pieces of puzzles long set aside began to spin in his mind. He had set up a quiet little network under Sirayn’s tutelage. Well from her teaching and his work for her he had set up a small network in which to monitor Sirayn herself. The Aes Sedai had true “eyes and ears” networks and due to the length in time they had existed they where far more advance, rooted, and wide seeing then anything he could ever imagine installing. Still, what little he had was worth its weight in gold back then. It had been his way to watch over and protect Sirayn while still honoring her request to remain out of her sight unless called upon. Something they alone had been instrumental in helping him achieve. If it had not been for that little network he would not have been called on nearly as often. Oh it wasn’t because they supplied him with information she didn’t already have or in a greater detail. It was mostly do to certain words whispered in the right ears; phrases put in just the right context so that once they touched the ear of Sirayn she would have little option but to draw him back in. She had provided him one of her weaknesses without ever realizing it, or so he believed. The night she had spared his life and not informed the guard about the incident in the hunters cabin, she had provided him with a silent indicator. Whatever the reason, Sirayn did not want anyone to know about that situation and no longer trusted Corin alone with the Tower’s precious members. That had made setting up words for ensuring invites to her side very convenient.


Still, he would have traded it all to have that night back; replace a foolish youths mistake with logical deduction and perhaps still be at her side in favor. With a grunt he forced himself to once more be aware of his surroundings. He had played those thoughts over in his mind so many times in the last year that he was almost beginning to believe there might have been a chance. Foolish, that he would hold on to such a useless train of thoughts. Water down the stream could not be put back under the bridge. Sirayn was gone and he had given himself over to duty; at least that was the decision that he had made at one point and voiced to this group.


Making note of the buildings as they past, more memories of Sirayn tried to pile back into his mind. It was going to be vey difficult being back here where so much could remind him of her. Glancing down, he frowned to find his hand on the hilt of the fat heavy blade he had received at his Guard raising ceremony. The blade had been given to him by Rosheen; a friend of sorts that had accepted to stand for him. But with the travel worn red cloak, that Sirayn herself had placed on his shoulders, tucked into his saddle bags still it was the only thing close at hand. Forcibly drawing his hand away and back to rest on his thigh he flicked a quick glance at his traveling party and noted the gaze of Loraine Sedai. She had already proved herself more then willing to use the One Power when she felt he was not acting as she believed he should. Offering her a small smile and a slight bow of his head he forced his eyes back to the road before them. A road whose windings would eventually arrive at the large gates to the White Tower itself.


One of the benefits of both his general un kept appearance and the lack of displaying his red cloak in this place, was that no one would believe him anything more then a sellsword or mercenary in the company of two sisters and a Warder. The fact that a mercenary or sellsword was in their company would of course start many a tongue wagging. But at least they did not know who he was or really take the time to observe him beyond a glance. Those in the towers employ might figure out who indeed was behind that stringy curtain of hair and rough clothing. Those that did would have had messages travelling back to their handlers long before he reached the gate. A greater example of how much weight was placed on this small missing guard would be evident by the time they reached the gate. The greeting that awaited him there if any would set the tone of his possible return to the Guard.


The clatter of noise and laughter from a passing tavern pulled up thoughts of his trainee days and old friends. The simple joy found in finally being granted a reprieve from training and a chance to blow off steam with fellow trainees pulled a smile to his face as he swayed with the horses movements down the road. How many times had he watched different acquaintances work off punishments for breaking the rules? Something until his raising he had almost never done. He was human after all so there had been a couple very quiet incidents. Quiet in that he had never been punished for them. But for the most part he had been a very diligent and straight-laced trainee. A fact that had been painfully apparent when he had been called into the Commanders office awhile after that incident with Sirayn which had changed everything between them. His demeanor had changed, late for shifts on the wall that he could not barter away, dress barely acceptable if at all. The Commander had commented how much the guard before him was not the boy and man that had worked his way through training and to the level of respect some had held him in. The disappointment in the man’s eyes had said it all and more. What would this Commander say now? No doubt his exemplary record had that black mark recorded on it. How much weight would that one black mark carry in light of his actions and the disheveled mess that was about to be presented before the Commander with the name Corin Danveer?


Glancing up he could make out the faces of the men and woman that were posted on the wall now. They looked as impressive as they had been that day he had arrived as a boy and stared in amazement. Now, now they seemed to stand there in judgment over him. He was one of them, had been. No doubt they believed his return brought shame to their honor, or would when they found out who he was; if they had not already. Perhaps they would find a small measure of mercy in his foresight. He had left off the Red Cloak, unworthy to wear it under the circumstances and condition he was in. That small measure, to save the guard the embarrassment of the likes of himself paraded through the streets of Tar Valon, would hopefully save them at least a little bit of the shame he carried. The greater of which would be his failure to return the Amyrlin to the Tower safely. How different this return would be if Sirayn sat a horse next to him? Might as well pick up that white wall and carry across the Aryth Ocean for all the “might have been” would do him. He swept a glance over his three traveling companions, backs straight and proud of their stations. At one time it was his right as well, today it was not as he remained slump shouldered. This use to be his home, with the Wheel’s luck it might be again. But for now he held no right to that honor or privilege. For almost a year he had been a sellsword, or a mercenary. Today, now, he was a failure and a disgrace returning in shame to a family that might refuse him; had every right to.



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Lavinya stared in open mouthed surprise at the note in her hand, reading it for the fifth time in succession. She couldn't breath, did not move. Could it possibly be true? It had to be, her informant had witnessed it himself. An incredible joy was kindled by her growing hope, and Lavinya laughed out loud, crushing the missive in her hand. He was alive. Corin Danveer was alive, and was in Tar Valon. She would not waste any more time verifying the information; she needed to see him with her own two eyes. Hiking her skirts, Lavinya did something very unlike a serene Aes Sedai - she ran.


A second report was pressed into her hand unobtrusively in passing. Lavinya barely paused to scan it, picking up her pace once more as her heart pounded with elation. He was alive. Alive, and heading towards the tower. Minor details like his dishevelled appearance and escort weren't enough to distract her as she made for the tower wall, bounding up the stairs to gain a view of the party as they passed through the gates. Ignoring the curious glances from those on patrol, Lavinya took up position and waited with thinly veiled impatience. She was flushed from her exertions, her breath coming in gasps, but she paid no heed to her appearance. He was alive.


Was that...yes! There! There was no mistaking the queenly elegance of the two green sisters, Jaydena and another Lavinya did not know personally, escorted by an obvious warder and a dirty, dejected man. "Corin." Lavinya breathed his name, heart thudding painfully in her breast. Yes, it was him. Barely recognisable with his longer, shaggy hair and beard, but she would know those green eyes anywhere, the ones she so admired on her baby girl; on his baby girl. There was precious little time to study him before he disappeared beyond her view, but it was enough to see the way he slumped in the saddle, the taut set of his jaw. He looked like a man who had suffered losing a bondmate. There were so many questions that rose to mind, such as long had he waited after he slept with Lavinya to enter into a bond with Sirayn. Depressing thoughts, but she no longer doubted that there had been a bond.


"That man," she said, turning to address a nearby guard ensconced in the red cloak of his office, "looks like someone whose bond has snapped, wouldn't you think?" The man looked at her thoughtfully, and Lavinya moved on, pausing to speak in musing tones with another who questioned her. "Yes, Corin Danveer, I'm sure of it. The bond must have been secret, but can you deny it, seeing him?" "Why else would someone of his track record disappear?" "To whom? Anyone would be happy to snap him up, I imagine." Whispers began to move in her wake, assisted by Lavinya's soft but brief words. "someone should tell the commander before he's strung up by his bootlaces and beaten to a pulp." Lavinya smiled to herself a little as she gracefully descended - not at a run this time but still with haste. Word would spread. He may not thank her when he found out the nature of the rumours - she hoped he never found out they began with her - but he would when he realised just what she had saved him from. If anyone learned of his association with Sirayn, it could spell disaster for him. And she would not lose him twice.


Just thinking of Corin being put to the question over the amyrlin's disappearance made Lavinya feel ill. Knowing it was to Sirayn he had been bonded would compound the suspicion. What if he was to blame? Lavinya could not give the notion credit though. He had loved the woman, had rejected Lavinya in favour of her. He would sooner die than harm her, she was sure on it. But few would share that opinion, like as not. He was alive. But for how long? Having a bond snap usually meant death for the warder too, but he had held on so far. She would bring him back from the brink. It was a service Lavinya had performed before, after all. Service indeed - it was a pleasurable arrangement until the warder was bonded again to someone else. As much as she would love to...service Corin, she doubted he would welcome it, not after the way they had parted. Friends, he had said. Pah. He would learn just what friends did to save each other from the brink, even if he hated her for it. She could not - would not see him slip away, and certainly not see him under the rehabilitation of another. Jealousy twisted her stomach at that thought.


Lavinya was determined to see Corin under her care as quickly as possible. She paused only once on her way to the yard, to send a message on ahead of her to the commander of the guard. That she had already heard word of the returning warder and was coming to lend her aid. That should stave off any errant summons to another Aes Sedai - no one else was going to get their claws into Corin. Calm, must stay calm. Lavinya was a jumble of nervous emotion as she entered the warders yard, but joy continued to pound with each step she took. He was alive. He was alive. He had broken her heart. It didn't matter, he was alive, and she would see him whole again.



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