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GrandpaG

"The Way of the Leaf" -- A Tinker's Song

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OOC: Sorry, but i am just not into that sort of stuff (but i like soap operas) i dont like writing them... i prefer action and drama and suspense and burning! How about you try pm'ing some other people to join your RP?  :)

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OOC: Sorry, but i am just not into that sort of stuff (but i like soap operas) i dont like writing them... i prefer action and drama and suspense and burning! How about you try pm'ing some other people to join your RP?  :)

 

 

I left an open invitation at all of the Org sites.  So far, it's just you and me.  That's alright.  Someone is seeing the posts.  I think the initial goal has been met.  The Tinkers can continue to live on even though the discussion group is history.  Maybe some future Tinkers will find the urge to post here.  From here on out, it's pretty much gravy on the mashed potatoes.  Since Tinkers are just People who choose to wander around in wagons, the soap opera can go on indefinitely.  Some things similar to us.  Some things totally Tinker.  ;)

 

Thanks for having the guts to post...even if it did cost me a major character.  :D

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OOC: reply to Blackhoof posted above.

 

 

 

Louella watched with disgust as that shameless hussie Trisha strutted her stuff in front of poor Wil.  Here he had only been with his precious mate Ar for around a year and that insensitive twit was trying to entice him.  Just because she had a nice figure and a pretty smile was no reason to tease the grieving man.  And that long beautiful flowing hair that she kept tossing around wildly.  And that creamy soft skin.  Rosy red cheeks.  Delicate hands.

 

It was hard for Lou to imagine that she and Trisha had ever shared their blood let alone their pillows.  That was before that awful man Jon showed up and whisked her away.  She was not surprised that he was a servant of the Great Lord of the Dark.  He was never good enough for Trisha.  She deserved better.  Much better.  And now, here she was chasing after Wil when Jon had only been gone a short while.  The Pattern would set her straight soon enough.  Louella would see to that.

 

 

 

 

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Leave Taking.  Just as important to the People as the proper Greeting if less festive.  There were precepts to be followed.  Custom.  This must be done properly this time.  Ches did not wish to be rude to his blood brother twice in the same lifetime.  This time he would say goodbye properly.

 

The morning meal had gone well.  Plenty of food shared by all the People.  Background music.  No dancing.  This was a somber time.  It was a time for neither grieving nor celebration.  But it needed to be remembered by all.  This was an important event.  New friends and old friends must remember this day.  A special meal.  A special parting.

 

As was customary, the People of both groups intermingled, slowly making their way from wagon to wagon exchanging pleasantries and hugs and kisses goodbye.  Well, not really goodbye.  More along the lines of "until we next meet".  Along with wishes that the Pattern allow them to meet again soon.  As a signal that the ceremony was coming to a close and that departure preparations should begin, the two Mahdi made their way toward the Central Fire and began shoveling dirt onto it to put it out.  This was done slowly and reverently.  The end of the Central Fire was significant.

 

When the fire was out and the surrounding area was neatly groomed to make it appear as undisturbed as possible, the two men sat for one last chat.  "Which way do you feel drawn, old friend?", Loni asked.  Chester hesitated before answering.  "Rhuidean.", he finally stated in a determined manner.

 

Loni's eyelids raised.  He leaned forward with one elbow on a knee and his hand supporting his chin.  After several seconds of apparently deep thought he replied, "Want to travel together?".  It was Chester's turn for raised eyelids.

 

"You're going there, too?".  He expected the nod that he got from Loni.  "Well.", his tone indicating that he had more thinking to do.  "I don't know that it is customary for two groups to travel together.  I can't say that I have EVER heard of it being done before.".  Another pause for thought.  "I have a specific reason for being drawn to Rhuidean.  If it is not too forward of me to ask, why are YOU going there?".  It was Loni's turn to hesitate.

 

"The gleeman GrandpaG visited our wagons some time ago.  He brought the Dragon Reborn to speak to us.  This Rand Al'Thor told us that we could find The Song in Rhuidean.".  Loni must have recognized the smile that was forming on Chester's face.  "You, too?".  Ches nodded.  "Well.".  Both men sat and pondered.

 

Being the junior of the two, Ches asked, "should we travel in our own separate groups heading in the same direction?  Or should we reform the two groups into one single group?  Temporarily, of course.  Just until we reach Rhuidean.  Then we would return to normal.".  It only took a moment for Loni to decide.  "I think it's better that we remain separate.  I feel 'complications' with the other idea.  I hope you are not offended, my brother.".  Ches replied quickly, "no, not at all.  I agree.".

 

The two were getting ready to shake hands and begin their departure proclamations when a young girl came running up to them.  Her face was pale and she appeared to be almost out of breath.  "Excuse me, Mahdi.", she apologized while bowing slightly to each of them quickly.  "Something TERRIBLE has happened!".

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"Come!  Come quickly!!!", Carolina urged as she tugged at Loni's hand.  "It's mistress Trisha!".  She let go of the hand and took off at a dead run.  Both men glanced at each other briefly then did their best to try to catch up to the youngster.  Loni yelled, "wait!  Slow down!  Wait for us, child!".  If Carolina's step slowed it was not by much.  She darted between two wagons and was gone from sight in a flash.  The old men lumbered onward trying to gain ground best as they could.

 

When they made it past the wagons it was not hard to find where Carolina had gone to.  A growing group was gathered a short distance away near the wild seed fruit grove.  They appeared to be pressing inward.  "They must be gathering around to help Trisha.", Ches muttered.  Loni had the same hope.  As they neared the group Loni said as calmly as possible, "please allow us to enter.".  He almost wished that they had refused.

 

Trisha was laying there in the center of the circle of People.  Her belt knife was jammed to the hilt just below the bottom of her breast bone.  Her eyes looked glassy.  She wore a terrible expression.  In all of the years that Loni had known her this was the worst that she had ever looked.  Had she been able to, she would have been sputtering about how she would ever get that awful blood stain out of her lovely yellow blouse.

 

"It's all my fault.", came a voice from the circle.  Since nobody else was speaking at the moment, it seemed to boom loudly even though it was no louder than normal.  Along with most of the rest of the People in the group, Loni looked toward the voice and found Wil holding his hands over his eyes and starting to bow downward.  He was sobbing.  "It's MY fault.  AGAIN!!!".  His voice was no longer smooth.  It crackled with pain.  "I told her that I enjoyed wild seed fruit for breakfast.  She must have been coming to get some for me then tripped and fell on her knife!  It's ALL my fault...AGAIN!!!".  He collapsed to the ground and began moaning and weeping loudly.

 

"But she has blood all over her hand.", Selinda observed as usual...she was always very observant.  "The hilt of the knife is covered with blood, too."

 

"Maybe she was trying to pull it out.", Carolina stated blandly.  Loni had not thought about the young girl still being here.  He quickly stepped between her and the body and told her that she should run along now and thanked her for her help.  She shrugged and walked back toward the wagons.

 

A murmur of whispers gradually rose from the onlookers.  Here and there Loni caught pieces of the conversations.  "Did she awaken herself from the dream?", some were guessing.  "Was this just an accident?", others were wondering.  "Maybe somebody did this to her on purpose.", he heard in a low whisper from somewhere.  The thought pierced his heart as surely as that knife had pierced poor Trisha's.

 

"We don't know what happened here this morning.", he announced.  "All that we know for sure is that our wagons have lost a beloved member.  We must concentrate on our grief and a proper burial.  Speculation over what caused her to awaken will change NOTHING!".  He had tried to keep emotion from his words but it just was not possible.

 

 

OOC:  if you would like to discuss what you think happened to poor sister Trisha, I will create a post over in the General Discussion thread for that purpose.  The truth will be disclosed as soon as the speculation looks like it has run down.  ENJOY!  :)

 

edit:

 

This link should take you directly to the speculation thread:

 

http://forums.dragonmount.com/index.php/topic,54691.0.html

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OOC:  there were no posts in the speculation thread, so I went ahead and gave the answer over there.

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Jake considered himself a pretty good outdoors-man.  The wagons were in the wild more often than not.  He had to know how to find food where others might not think that there was any food to be found.  Normally, being away from the comforts of the wagon for a few minutes was a nice change of pace for him.  Taking a dip in a pond.  Climbing a tree.  Even splitting fire wood could be relaxing at times.  But, here in the Aiel Waste he felt like an ignorant child.

 

Sahandra was a tough teacher, too.  She didn't actually come right out and call him stupid or anything like that but she definitely knew that she was in her home territory and that Jake was not as smart as her about survival here.  Just because he almost stepped on some sort of creature that blended into the sandy ground so completely that it was all but invisible didn't mean that she had to give him a shove like she did.  Even if it was poisonous.  She could have pointed the blasted thing out to him and told him to be careful.  He still didn't know how she was able to see it so easily.

 

It didn't help anything, either, that she kept calling him a "soft wetlander".  Just because she could go for hours at a time without as much as a sip of water didn't make him soft.  He just was not accustomed to this harsh environment.  He had been through the Waste a couple of times but the wagons had plenty of water in barrels.  And shade.  It seemed MUCH hotter now than what he remembered.  Riding inside the wagon was a LOT cooler than walking.

 

Jake's belly grumbled...AGAIN!  Sahandra seemed content to find something to kill now and then.  She knew of some plants and fruits that were edible, but most of the time she didn't want to stop long enough for a proper meal.  She would spot something moving in the distance, shoot it with her arrow, trim off the parts that she didn't want, then devour the rest of it while all of the time practically running and telling him to keep up or she would leave him to fend for himself.  She really didn't need to be so mean.

 

His feet hurt.  Her boots were apparently better suited to traveling on this type of terrain.  His stout shoes were OK for life among the wagons but out here in this heat they made his feet sweat and they did not bend the way Sahandra's boots did.  Traveling at the pace that she set really made him wish that he had boots like hers.  Or a slower pace.

 

Plus, it was hard to keep up with her when he was so tired.  She didn't seem to have trouble staying warm enough to get some decent rest at night.  The freezing cold kept him awake more than not.  Even with her snuggled up to his back he shivered and could not relax enough to actually sleep.  He still was not used to being so close to her when it was her turn to sleep.  She was just too...soft.  And she smelled good.  Perhaps they would reach Rhuidean soon.  Then he could get a decent meal and some good sleep.

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Trisha.  That had been her name.  She could no longer remember the name of the person that she had shared so much of her life with but she knew that she would be drawn to him once her awareness was fully recovered.  As it was slowly coming back to her and her memories of that recent dream were gradually fading she couldn't help feeling for the hundredth time that there should be SOME way of retaining more of the awareness during the dream.  It was so clear once the dream was over.  But, during the dream, it was a cloudy haze in the distance.  It just did not make sense.  At least she had been able to utilize more of her awareness during the dream than the males had.  Strange how that worked.

 

For some time now she had been making her way toward a dim light in the distance.  A beacon beckoning her follow.  It flickered and almost faded at times then flared to regain her attention.  She felt as if she were watching the center of a hypnotic campfire.  Jake.  Where did THAT thought come from?  A part of her memory that she now knew would be with her forever, permanently etched into that which was her.  A name that would fade.  A sensation that would last.  The surety that they would meet again and share memories.  The fire beckoned.

 

As the last of the dream eroded away she saw the familiar wildly whipping tentacles that she had seen in so many awakenings before.  It would not be long now.  Soon she would reunite with old acquaintances.  They would once again share each others emotions and memories.  Awareness.  It was returning.  She would soon be home.

 

She knew what she had to do to complete her journey.  She dare not surrender.  She could not drift on the current to find the way.  That was the way of the male.  SHE was female!  She struggled against an increasing tide of resistance.  Like swimming up a waterfall.  A female's work was never easy.  Salmon swimming upstream to spawn.  Struggle.  Keep going.  Don't let up.  Focus.  Remain steadfast.

 

Tentacles were whipping in all directions.  One of them would be the one that would take her home.  She needed all of her awareness to recognize the right one.  The light was now an intense blaze.  Wrong tentacles searched outward from the hot core toward countless other females seeking what she did.  There it was.  One final push.  Reach.  GRAB!  HOLD ON!!!

 

DON'T LET GO!!!, her inner voice told her.

 

IGNORE THE PAIN!!!

 

YOU CAN DO IT!!!

 

 

ALMOST HOME!!!

 

 

 

THUMP!

 

 

She was exhausted.  She couldn't move her wings.  More thumps came as siblings welcomed her.  She was not yet ready to share memories.  She could feel the drawing force tugging her toward her recent memory partner.  That would have to wait.  She needed to recover for a short while.  But, not for too long.  SHE WAS HOME!!!

 

 

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OOC:  I have some family stuff to attend to this week (daughter's kitchen remodel) so I probably won't be very active.

 

 

 

The dilemma was solved.  Strange how the Pattern always seemed to find a way to work things out somehow.  Loni and Ches would not be traveling together.  Since Loni needed time to show proper respects for the loss of Trisha, his wagons would remain behind.  Ches and his wagons would proceed to Rhuidean.  Perhaps they would meet once more when Loni arrived there.  That was up to the Pattern to decide.

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Kinslayer's Dagger was not as Ches remembered.  The treacherous climb had been pretty much the same as always.  Steep, slanting horse paths that the wagon wheels clung to mostly by luck alone.  Winding upward and sideways simultaneously, the trails were seldom used and often washed away or blocked by rock slides.  It took a skilled driver to pick the path that would not lead to a tumble several hundred feet downward before coming to a sudden stop against some age old tree jutting out where nothing else would grow.  The rubble was more prevalent than before.  And here at about two thirds of the way to the top the remaining third no longer existed.  Where there used to be even more deadly paths, now there was a broad, flat plateau.

 

Rumors had told of the battles between the forces of the Light and the Shadow.  Usage of the One Power was wide spread.  Even being somewhat prepared for what he was seeing could not actually explain how all of this was possible.  It looked as if someone had taken a huge knife and swung it at all of the neighboring peaks for as far as the eye could see and then deposited those peaks down the hillsides.  Ashamen and dreadlords.  They must be real, too.

 

The air at these heights usually seemed thin and dry.  Here on these flat tops it seemed moist and heavy.  The peaks that used to keep the moisture away from the Waste were now gone.  Looking out toward the Waste Ches could see the green spreading eastward.  Before long the regular rain cycle would reach farther into the Waste.  Streams and maybe a small river here or there should pop up where barren ground used to be.  The world was changing.  The predicted new Age must indeed be near.  Maybe the Song really would be found at last when they reached Rhuidean.

 

Finding a spot to camp for the night was not difficult.  One place held no advantage over any other.  Flat, open spaces with no cover.  About the only decision to make was how close to the edge of the drop off did they want to be.  Opting for the approximate middle of this plateau, Ches decided that another mile or two would not make much difference.  They could continue to the center then make camp.

 

Part of him wished that Loni could have been here to share this with.  Maybe they could have stayed here to enjoy the view for a couple of days.  But, the Pattern had dictated otherwise.  That was the last thought that he had before he noticed the heavy shaft of a trolloc arrow protruding from his chest.  He glanced back toward the tail of wagons following behind him.  A massive black swarm surrounded them.  "Where did THEY come from?", he thought out loud.  Accepting the will of the Pattern and realizing that he couldn't possibly run, he closed his eyes in preparation for his awakening.

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Knarl roared as he cleaved a fleeing tinker in half with his mighty axe. These weaklings wouldn't even fight! They were hardly even worthy as sport! The great Knarl, chieftain of the Varm'pyre band, needed REAL enemies to fight, not these pathetic excuses for humans. Of course, Knarl thought as he beheaded another tinker and crushed the newborn baby that she dropped under-hoof, all humans are frail and pathetic, but these were even worse.

 

Glancing around, Knarl saw that his warriors were mopping up the last of the cowardly weaklings and setting their wagons on fire. Wagons, Knarl though with a snarl of contempt, they were a sign of weakness, like all the trappings of civilisation. Better was a hut made from bone, sticks and mud, that could be abandonned or demolished at will. The tinkers had proven this when they had tried to run, but their precious wagons had slown them down, so they had been destroyed.

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Fade.  Lurk.  Shadow runner.  Krysd did not care what name the humans gave him as long as they remembered the truth about his stare.  It meant fear.  His eyeless gaze was his most powerful and trustworthy weapon.  When stealth and fluidity failed him, he could always count on fear bringing doom to his foe.  And submission from his allies.  That was one lesson that Knarl had found difficult to learn at first but he soon discovered who gave the orders and who followed them.

 

This barren outpost seemed like a waste of good talent.  Knarl and his bunch had made short work of the gutless ones.  Many of them were now truly gutless as they slowly revolved on the spits over Knarl's cook fires.  The trollocs would not be dining on darkfriends again tonight.  Fresh Tinker stew.  Roast Tinker.  Krysd thought he might try a nibble off from a drum stick if it wasn't overly cooked.  Yes, today's victory might have been very one sided but a win is a win.  His troops deserved a decent supper.

 

The reason for expending all of these valuable resources still alluded him.  What was so important about keeping any more of the Aiel from leaving the Waste?  Their impact against the dreadlords had proven to be minimal.  Much less than the channeling women of the Seanchan...THAT is where Krysd would have concentrated HIS efforts!  The Great Lord must have his reasons for it was one of the forsaken who had passed on the order to keep close guard of these plateaus.  Several of his eyeless brothers were serving similar duty on other nearby flat tops.  Why?

 

Krysd wandered closer to the drop off cliff edge and looked out toward the Waste side of the foot hills below.  There in the distance was yet another twisting turning line of the colorful Tinker wagons making it's way into the Waste.  They had taken the lower route through the semi-filled-in valleys between the plateaus while Krysd and his army were up here gathering food.  Oh, well.  If anybody said anything he could always blame it on Wirnslewt and his bunch.  They were guarding the next plateau over in that direction.

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Knarl watched as the Myrdraal, Krysd, walked over to the edge of the plateau, and watched something unseen. Stupid Myrdraal! Stupid, thieving Myrdraal! It stole his leadership of the band from him, well, it would pay, soon. Knarl smiled as he tore another chunk of tinker from a bone and ate it. yes, very soon.

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Loni couldn't help but smile.  It had been either pure accident or pure guidance by the Pattern that had led him to the new much easier path over the Dragonwall into the Waste.  In all of the passages that he had made over the years, the trip had always taken longer and been far more treacherous.  All of the loose dirt and stones suggested a recent huge landslide of some kind.  Loni didn't care how that rubble got there.  It had proven to be most convenient.

 

At this rate, his wagons would surely make up lost ground with Chester's.  He chuckled to himself.  If old Ches took the high road, he could very well still be up there trying to cross over someplace.  Loni's wagons might actually get to Rhuidean BEFORE his blood brother's in spite of everything that had happened recently to slow him down.  Feeling quite smug he gave a happy slap to the horse's rumps with his reins and settled his mind on finding a spot to camp for the night.

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Knarl picked up his axe and casually walked down the slope and stopped in front of the tinkers wagons. The tinkers, upon seeing him, began screaming and running. Knarl roared and chargd, and his warriors charged down the slope, and the ambush was sprung. Knarl laughed as he cut through another tinker, more easy meat, ha ha!

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OOC:  I don't know what group of Tinkers you're ambushing, but Loni's wagon train is pulling up to Lake Rhuidean.  May the Light shine on the souls of the People who are awakening from the dream at your army's hands and may your army not suffer too long from the violence that they are engaging in.  :)

 

 

 

 

Erina couldn't believe her eyes.  A few years back the wagons had passed near this part of the Waste.  In this valley there had been a huge mass of fog that gave her the creeps.  She remembered the sight vividly.  It almost made her shiver despite the heat just thinking about it.  She was also quite sure that she would not soon forget what she was seeing today.

 

Where the fog used to be, there was now a large, black city.  Even at this distance she could smell the recently burned timbers.  How in the world had anyone built a city so quickly?  And what had happened that caused it to burn?  And why were there so many other groups of Tuatha'an wagons gathered here?  Perhaps most strange of all was the huge lake that their group was pulling up to.  That surely was NOT here before.  No way could she have forgotten THAT!

 

Glancing back over her shoulder to the wagon behind her she sighed.  She just couldn't understand it.  She had tried everything short of physical contact to try to entice the interest of Geri.  He was now driving the wagon that had once been driven by Jon since all of Jon's family was gone.  He shared the wagon with that old fiddler from his group.  People whispered about the two of them.  Such a waste of beautiful manly flesh.  She shook her head and sighed again.

 

Loni signaled for the wagons to stop.  Even though the barrels still held plenty of water, he apparently wanted to top them off.  That probably wasn't a bad idea since finding water in the Waste was hard to do.  And the Light only knew where the Pattern would send them traveling to tomorrow.

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OOC: Well, to be honest, i misinterpreted your post and thought that loni's wagons were coming my way. dont know why, but, oh well. This can be another unfortuante group.

 

Knarl clove a tinkers arm off and then impaled her on the large blade of his axe. This was hardly worthy of his might, but.... it was good for a laugh, and easy meat. Seeing Krysd cut a screaming tinker in half with his huge black blade, Knarl was surprised to see another tinker leap at the myrdraal and stab him in the neck in an unanticipated show of bravery. The myrdraal was barely hurt, of course, but the force of the attack drove him to his knees.

 

Seeing his chance for vengeance, Knarl ran up to the fallen fade, who was struggling to rise under the weight of the tinker, who in turn was stabbing Krysd vicously, and raised his axe to finish the usurping lurk once and for all.

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Krysd knew that he deserved this fate.  He really would never have believed that one of these cowards would turn on him.  Especially a woman claiming to serve the Dark Lord.  Louella?  Lovelia?  No matter.  The damage was done.  She would live and he would die.  He tried to ignore the pain of her repeated stabbings but it just didn't work today.  Just as he was gaining a smidgen of self control and was going to stand and confront the puny human he caught movement out of the corner of his eyeless eye.  There was no time to react.  Knarl's axe struck home and split his head cleanly in two square down the middle.  He couldn't help thinking that at least he would have until sundown to kick himself for being so lax.  He was especially glad that his brother Gzus had not been there to witness his screw up.

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Frenk loosened the bridle and slipped it down Ty's face until he could get the bit out.  Ty licked his lips and shook his head.  He was glad the day was over, too.  This hot, dry air in the Aiel Waste was hard on the animals.  Oxen did slightly better than horses, but they still suffered.  Frenk held up the bucket of lukewarm water and Ty drank gratefully.  After the harness was stowed away Ty was properly combed and staked with some hay for supper Frenk leaned against the front wheel of his wagon in the early evening shade and lit his pipe.

 

From where he was parked Frenk could see most of the other wagons.  Loni had picked a good spot.  There were other groups of wagons camped nearby.  Since Loni had not chosen one group to camp with there had been no need for a Greeting.  Frenk was glad.  Celebrating was hard in the Waste.  Too hot during the day and too cold at night.  This was much better.  He and Glynda would be able to visit whoever they wanted to in the other groups without having to worry about proper etiquette.

 

If they stayed here long enough he might even try to talk her into taking a stroll into this amazing new city.  Even if it did smell bad, there must be something special to see here.  After all, it was the ONLY city this side of the Dragonwall.  Cities were not normally his favorite place to be.  In fact, he avoided them as much as possible.  But this one seemed different.  It somehow called to him.  Yes.  He and Glynda would have to check it out.  Later.

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The Trollocs around Knarl watched in shock as he pulled his axe out of the myrdraal's head. The tinker looked up in shock and barely reacted as knarl beheaded her. Looking around at his men, Knarl said "The Myrdraal was lax, and was killed by a tinker. I didn't get their in time to save him, isn't that correct, my warriors?" The Trollocs exchanged glances and slowly nodded.

 

"Well," Knarl continued, "I am now in command, warriors of the Varm'pyre, and i say that we go, and hunt down some worthy meat! We will feast on the flesh of warriors!" The trollocs, HIS trollocs, howled and cheered, and Knarl howled with them.

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Dyxsen could not believe what he had just heard.  It had been shock enough to learn that the strange visitor to his wagons claimed to be the Dragon Reborn.  Now, that seemed to be mild in comparison to what the young lad had told him.  The Song.  At long last.  The Song could be found in the Aiel Waste.

 

Dyxsen was not shocked to learn that there was something special about Rhuidean.  His wagons had passed by the mist covered valley many times.  He had always known that something spectacular lie hidden inside but he had never entered out of respect for the Aiel taboo concerning the place.  It was no great surprise to learn that a city and a lake now replaced the fog.

 

The rest of the message from young Al'Thor had been almost as disturbing.  The Pattern had just led Dyx to bring his People from the Shadow Coast all the way up here to Arad Doman.  Now, this self-proclaimed dragon was telling him that he needed to take his wagons to Rhuidean to join with the Aiel there to relearn the Song.  And he was to gather any other Mahdi and their wagons that he encountered along the way.  Even if he took the untraveled paths, this could result in hundreds maybe thousands of wagons converging on a place with very little food.  The horses would probably drink the new lake dry!  What was even more disturbing was the fact that his Mahdi voice told him that the lad was right.

 

Feeling as if he had just ran for an hour or two just before diving into an ice cold river, Dyx headed back toward the wagons to give them the news that they would depart for Rhuidean first thing in the morning.  He would tell them everything that Al'Thor had told him.  They had the need and the right to know the whole story.  Many of them would likely awaken from this dream before the end of this journey.  Knowing why they attempted it was the least that they deserved.

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Knarl gazed with narrowed eyes at the small villiage from a nearby ridge. His men had abandonned their post and had began attacking lone villiages along the dragonwall. Who needed the Dark Father, anyway? HIS Trollocs didn't, and if Knarl had his way, no trollocs would answer to the Dark Father. No, they would answer to HIM instead!

 

Knarl laughed and ordered the attack.

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"But, master Al'Thor, Falme is about as far from the Aiel Waste as one could be.  And, I have no authority over any other Mahdi that I might encounter during the journey.  I can give them your message, but that is all that I can promise.  It will be up to them to decide whether or not Rhuidean is the will of the the Pattern for them.".  The tall red headed stranger claiming to be the Dragon Reborn shook his head then quickly turned and stepped through the shimmering circle showing a forest behind him.  In a heartbeat the circle and the stranger were gone.

 

"Martina!", George yelled.  "Martina!  Spread the word!  We depart at first daybreak!  We will travel to the Aiel Waste...to Rhuidean...to find the Lost Song at last!  Tell everyone to pack extra provisions for we must make haste!  Martina!  Do you hear me woman?".  George went to find his wife.  She was better than he at getting things done and done quickly.

 

It went against George's nature to just up and run like this.  He usually needed time to interpret the signs of nature and to search his feelings to know which direction to lead his wagons.  And to take the word of a total stranger about something as important as the Song?  That was like buying the Horn of Valerie from a hunter.  But, somehow, all of this just felt right.

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"But, mama.", Deruk pleaded.  His mother turned and placed her hands on her hips and gave him "that" look.  He knew that he had come very close to overstepping her bounds.  Trying to look like he was sorry, he looked down at his toes.  "I'm sorry, mama.".  He kept his head down but tried to peek at her to see if she had softened any.  She gave a satisfied nod to herself then turned to go back to her chores.

 

Deruk didn't think that it was fair.  After all.  He had already seen his ninth name day.  He was taller than his ten year old sister.  He could run faster than almost any of the other children in their group of wagons.  Except for Renold.  But he was almost twelve.  Soon Renold would be too old to play and Deruk could be the fastest then.  It just didn't seem right that he could not go exploring with Kevlen.  What harm could they get into, anyway?

 

Out here in the middle of nowhere it seemed like there was NO trouble that a person could get into let alone anything fun.  Hadan Mirk.  Now THAT place had been FUN!  With all of the thick underbrush and moss growing down from the trees.  It was kinda dark and spooky, too.  Deruk and Kevlen had found plenty of fun there.  Sure.  It took almost half a day for the People to find where they had wandered off to, but it had ended well.  His seat still felt warm from the spanking.  But it had been a GRAND adventure that he would NEVER forget!  Now, here in the Caralain Grass, there was really nothing special to see or do.

 

Deruk didn't realize that he had walked all of the way to Kevlen's wagon while he was thinking.  Yes.  That had really been a good half day.  Lots of fine memories.  He spotted Kevlen's mama.  "Good afternoon to you Mistress Karnae.  Is Kevlen around?".  He realized that he had been running so he skidded to a stop stirring a cloud of dust that quickly rose toward Kevlen's mama's newly hung clean laundry.  He blushed in embarrassment.  "Sorry.", he all but whispered as he lowered his eyes.

 

Waving her arms to disperse the dust away from her and her clothesline she gave a small cough then said, "he hasn't finished his chores yet, Deruk.  Anyway.  I think the two of you had enough fun at the pond yesterday.".  For some reason she looked at Kevlen's clothes hanging to dry.  "I think you boys should find something nice a quiet to occupy your minds for a day or two.  Do you have studies to do?".  Her look told him that he would be caught straight on if he tried to lie.

 

"Yes, ma'am.  I suppose I do at that.".  Deruk hung his head sadly and turned back toward his own wagon.  "Tell Kevlen that I'll see him some other time, OK?".  He didn't really wait to hear her answer.  He did have studies that he should be working on.  And the book that Jessie Smidth had loaned him really was quite interesting.  But he just wasn't in the mood for studies or reading.  He wanted some fun.

 

The old bloodhound named Duke was lounging beneath the wagon of the Kalampettes as usual.  Deruk liked Duke and Duke liked Deruk but that wasn't the kind of fun that he wanted today.  Mischief.  That was more along the lines of what he was craving.  Snitching a pie.  Tying a string between the tails of two mules then watching them try to swat at flies.  Pulling Sarajeen's pig tails...she could run almost as fast as him.  He sat down beside Duke for a minute and petted him.

 

Master Kenneth was Mahdi of their wagons now that Master Seth had awakened from his dream.  He was a good man.  And a good leader.  He seldom got excited.  The wagons made good time without being hurried.  As Deruk sat stroking a snoozing Duke he saw Master Ken walking quickly toward an approaching group of wagons.  He approached their lead wagon which only paused for a few seconds as Master Ken spoke with their Mahdi.  The other wagons didn't turn toward Deruk's group.  Instead they took off again as they had been.  Master Ken came running.

 

"Barbie!  Barbie!  Spread the word!  We leave for Rhuidean in the Waste at first light!  THE SONG, BARBIE!  THE SONG!!!".  Deruk thought to himself, "well, so much for not getting excited.".  Then he realized that they would be leaving this deadly boring place.  He had been over the Spine of the World a couple of times that he could remember.  That trip could be interesting.

 

Anything had to be better than this treeless hilly grassland.  He gave Duke a parting pat on the head and headed back to help his family with the chores that would have to be done before they could leave.  He smiled and ran almost as fast as he could.  Maybe there would be something fun to do when they got Rhuidean.

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