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Drea Raylin

Blink (Drea's Arrival)

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Dark. Light. Dark. Light. Trees. Dark. Drea blinked one last time and forced herself awake. Sleeping was for those who had time, and time was a comodity Drea no longer knew the definition of. She crawled out of the small abandoned cavern she found to rest in, nestled between two giant oak trees. Her bones ached and she heard them snap in places she new couldn't be healthy. Drea made a mental note to see the medic when she got back -if she got backi. She'd been thinking that a lot the past few days -if- starting to lose hope of ever going home. Home. Drea chuckled to herself. After four years in the Band, she had just come to the point of calling the Band home. Until all this happened.

 

What had happened? Images flashed in Drea's mind. A young woman giving her a tea and a head massage. That woman she remembered but could not put a name to the face. Why? They had to be close or Drea never would have let her in the tent in her bed clothes. The same mysterious woman putting a pillow over Drea's face. Some more tea, a dark, cold and damp room, a man with a crooked nose, another with a painted mask and a black cape and a dagger with a jagged blade.

 

Drea shuddered. Who were they? Why did she only remember some things? A horrid taste filled her mouth and she swallowed hard. "Think Drea, you're a scout. You know this." Drea continued south, following the path she prayed belonged to the Band. No other group would leave a trail this big and this vile. At least she still remembered her scouting.

 

Why wasn't anyone looking for her? Did they even know? Of course they did. An army knows when it's undercommander is missing, like the Queen Bee. How old was this scent? The whole trail. Drea bent down to feel the soil. Firm, but not too firm. A month, maybe. She wasn't far now, they had to stop sometime. She was on their trail. But the trouble with being on their trail meant she was always behind them. Typical; just as Drea finds someone or something she loves, it's gone.

 

As the sun rose to it's peak, Drea stopped by a small stream. She rested her only possessions -the two small daggers she managed to fight back from the man with the crooked nose before she killed him with them- on a nearby rock and knealt down to cup her hands into the water. The weness felt good against her dry lips and she let some spill down the front of her tattered and stained uniform, almost unrecognizable as one from the Band. Drea watched the water stream down her front. Her eyes were caught by a stripe across her chest. She ran a finger along the green stripe and laughed out loud. Laughed for the loss she felt so deeply inside. Laughed because she was too tired to cry the tears she didn't have left.

 

A stick broke on the other side of the stream. Drea froze. She looked around, moving her eyes only. She slowly reached over for her daggers. Behind two trees she saw two heads pop out.

 

"I see you. I am armed" she said in a loud enough voice. She regreted being the first to speak, but she knew they saw her and she was too weak to defend herself anyway. Better to make nice before trouble started. "I am a weary travelor seeking a drink of water. I mean you no harm."

 

"You are on owned property, surrounded by many armed soldiers. Did you know that?" One called out.

 

Soldiers? Drea quickly stood and took a few steps into the stream, water soaking into her boots.

 

"Stay where you are!" The other warned.

 

If this was the Band, these were scouts-and new ones, as she did not recognize them or their voices. And scouts meant business.

 

"I need you to take me to your Commander. It is an emergancy. Please!" Drea heard the desparation in her voice and almost fell into the stream with relief.

 

Drea

OOC: *sigh* it's good to be back. Let me know if I messed up and this doesn't go here. :D thanks!

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Dashiva heard about a group of newer scouts going out to patrol some of the older paths and decided to tag along.

 

Closing his office and warding it, he turned control of the Black arms over to Andar and tossed his packed bag over his shoulder. Sheathing his blades, he went down and joined the scouts.

 

Pulling a rough map of the area out, he went over the planned route with the officer in charge of the patrol, Dashiva opened a Gateway to give them a boost out.

 

Walking along nearby the path, off to the side, he watched the new scouts with a fair amount of amusement carefully hidden behind his mask.

 

One scout slipped back to report a woman found, and Dash went with them, reaching for saidin as he moved just in case. He arrived in time to hear the end of the woman's plea and quietly asked a nearby scout who looked to have been there a time.

 

"Lieutenant, I can take her back if you want? You can continue your patrol, and if you stick to the schedule I could get back quickly, or send a replacement," he said softly.

 

 

Standing up, he picked his way carefully through the few tree's, and pulled his black tunic down. "We are a number of miles away from the commander, but if you come with me I can have you there in a few minutes, my lady."

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Drea raised an eyebrow at the man, his ragged features resembling those of the same man slain with the daggers now held steady by her side. She had to grit her teeth to keep herself from trembling with anticipation. The Commander-whoever it could be now- she was going to be saved. She was going to be home!

 

His black coat and tired eyes did not speak of the Band, but the way he handled the scouts and presented himself told Drea he could be trusted, for a while.

 

She swallowed hard and continued across the shallow stream.

 

"Please." she forced herself not to sound to pathetic. "Take me to him."

 

-Drea

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Dashiva nodded at the woman, and then at the scout officer. "Take your men back on patrol," he said quietly, reaching out for saidin.

 

Glancing around, he spotted a nice small clearing and wove a Gateway for Skimming. It was too far to the nearest place that was marked out he knew well enough to Travel directly from, and Skimming was nearly as fast.

 

As the silver line formed, he turned back and readied a few flows of Air. It never hurt to be ready, and many people didn't respond well, many of the scouts still had doubts about jumping through Gateways.

 

"If you follow me through, I can have you in front of the commander within the half hour," he said quietly as was his custom.

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Aprehention filled Drea for less than a second. What was this man doing? The gateway seemed to shimmer slightly when she shifted and glanced up at the stranger. Did she find a hint of impatience in his eyes? Even if it were there, she ignored it. If she could wait this long to see the Commander, he could wait mere moments for her to gain composure enough to step through some strange gateway. Besides, being home was the only thing that concerned her. She was so close, there was no way she'd let it pass this easily.

 

Taking a deep breath, Drea walked through without hesitating. As she passed, a shiver ran down her spine and her blood rushed cold then hot and her head began to spin, but one step later and she was on the otherside, the stranger next to her.

 

Drea looked up at him-as he was a hand plus taller than she was- and grimmaced. "Who are you, anyway? What is your relation to the band?" Her questioning skills definately needed to be touched up, but at this point she didn't care. She just wanted answers. Sometimes the only way to get them was to be forward.

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Dashiva watched mixed things pass over the womans face, before she approached the gateway, and he stepped through first to make the barge which they'd stand on.

 

"Who are you, anyway? What is your relation to the band?" she asked, Dashiva choose not to answer right away, altering the weave slightly so the barge began it's almost imperceptable movment.

 

With the trip started, he looked down at her and shrugged slightly. "I am Dashiva Somtaaw, Storm Leader of the Black Tower. The Black Tower and the Band are now allies, and I lead the detachment of Asha'men here," he told her.

 

Looking around the blackness around the barge, he looked back. "And you are?"

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The Black Tower and the Band allies? Drea stepped forward quickly to recover from nearly tripping over herself. Acting as if nothing happened, and mentally blaming it on her fatigue, Drea looked up at this Dashiva and smiled.

 

"Peace favor your sword, Dashiva Somtaaw. My name is Xandrea Raylin, Undercommander of the Band of the Red Hand." She waited for his reaction. There was no way she could be the Undercommander, she'd been gone so long she wasn't sure anyone would remember her. He merely raised an eyebrow at her. Figures, a man with his title has to be reserved. "At least I was. It's a long story, and I'm pretty tired. If you don't mind just showing me to whoever the Commander is now and I'll let you be on your way."

 

Drea

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Dashiva chose to ignore the fact this woman suddenly stumbled. "Peace favor your sword, Dashiva Somtaaw. My name is Xandrea Raylin, Undercommander of the Band of the Red Hand."

 

He turned his head to look at this Xandrea, and raised his eyebrow. He'd been at the Citadel long enough to know most of the officers of the Band. "At least I was. It's a long story, and I'm pretty tired. If you don't mind just showing me to whoever the Commander is now and I'll let you be on your way."

 

Dashiva nodded, and felt the subtle stopping of his barge. Opening a gateway, he waited for Xandrea to go through first and stepped through the hole after her into the roped off Traveling Grounds.

 

"Follow me please," and quickly stepped over the ropes. He had no itentions of just standing there until an opening Gateway cut him in half.

 

As she walked after him, he left his skimming gateway close, and walked at a relatively slow pace towards Mehrin's office. Shaking his head as a mildly funny thought hit him at how many people he was bringing to Mehrin, he suppressed the urge to smile.

 

Stopping outside Mehrin's office door, he rapped on it sharply, before nodding at Xandrea.

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What is it now? Mehrin wondered as the echoes from the loud knock dwindled. It seemed that whenever he was on a roll, somebody had to interrupt. "The door's open!" he called out, signing off on the paper that he had been reading. As he delivered it to the completed pile, the door creaked open, revealing Dashiva and another figure, a woman judging by the build of her.

 

Mehrin was about to relegate the task of showing the newest recruit to the officer on duty outside when the woman stepped into clear sight. For a moment, Mehrin's mouth hung open, the words that he had been about to say suddenly gone from his mind. Despite her worn and ragged appearance, despite a uniform so far gone that it was hardly recognizable as such, despite all that would haze over the woman's appearance, there was really no mistaking her. Mehrin owed his job to her untimely disappearance. There was no mistaking the face of Xandrea Raylin, formerly a Scout and formerly the Undercommander of the Band under Cabaroci.

 

The shock of this reappearance, in particular was almost more than Mehrin could bear. "How... where... why... what...?" He took a deep breath before starting again. "We had believed you to be dead some time ago... ahh... Xandrea." Despite gaining the rank of commander, Mehrin still had difficulties from time to time calling people that he had served under by their first names. "Dashiva, if you could pardon us for awhile?"

 

Returning his attention to the long-lost undercommander, Mehrin said, "Please, have a seat." Settling back in his own chair, Mehrin then didn't bother with the basic pleasantries. His thoughts were still too scrambled at this sudden appearance. "What happened to you?"

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Mehrin? Mehrin is the Commander? Panic flowed through Drea's veins. Cab was gone.

 

"What happened to you?" Mehrin asked, sounding sincerely concerned. By the look on his face- besides that of shock and amazment- she looked horrible, and that didn't surprise her. But for the first time in her whole journey, she noticed her tattered, worn, stained uniform- some of the patches barely holding on- and felt somewhat ashamed.

 

She slowly sunk into the chair besides his desk, Cabroci's desk. She pictured the way he used to lean back on the two back legs with his feet on the top, staining papers with mud and grass. She supresed a tear. She had business to do and she needed to be strong.

 

Taking an unsteady breath, Drea told Mehrin the story of her assistant, being poisoned by tea for months, and only remembering the two men. "One of them is dead for sure, the one with the crooked nose. I made sure of that. However the masked on is still a mystery to me, I only saw him once or twice. But he was definately had athority between the two." She continued by explaining how she found her way back through the woods, found a torn patch on a tree and followed the band's scent from there for the past month. "It's really not that great a story. I'm just glad to be home."

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"Believe me, we are more than happy to have you back, Xandrea." Mehrin sighed; he wished that he had thought to fill his flask before coming back over here. He could use a drink. Noticing again the state of her uniform, Mehrin turned to his hatrack, removed his cloak, and tossed it across the desk to Xandrea. That taken care of, Mehrin moved on in the conversation.

 

"No doubt you've noticed that the Band has undergone some... changes since your abduction." Kidnapped! Who would have thought it possible? Mehrin remembered the inquiry that Cabroci had begun just before... "Commander Cabroci left the Band just after you disappeared. His personal guard said something about him searching for you." Mehrin took a deep breath; he could really use that drink. "I had been incapacitated at the time due to an injury, but the other Captain Generals gathered and selected me to take over the command, a choice that I've never liked, but there was nobody else." A few more deep breaths. "After Emonds Field, we began to establish the Citadel. We'd receive brief messages from the Commander on a pretty regular basis." Getting up, Mehrin strode over to the small table across the room where he kept the brandy he used when greeting high-ranking diplomats. Filling a cup, Mehrin emptied it in a few swallows. Just say it! All you're doing is delaying the inevitable! "About a year and a half ago, we received his last message, something about following up on a lead."

 

Light, illuminate his soul... Finally able to meet Xandrea's eyes again, Mehrin added, "I'm sorry to be the one to say this, but we suspect that Commander Cabroci was killed while searching for you." Light, I hate this job.

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Drea gripped the arms of the chair tightly. The news didn't come as a shock. Even before she saw Mehrin in the Commander's tent, she knew he was gone. It was just gut wrenching to hear it out loud. Swallowing hard to prevent herself from falling off the chair in complete exhuastion and heart break, she looked Mehrin in the eye, surpressing her own from watering.

 

"Though my heart was for Cab-a friend more than a love- my duty is for the Band. I will morn him when I have rested and have a clear state of mind. Now I need to take care of business." She paused, not to get a responce, but to gain composure and force a smile from her quivering lips. "Before you tell me where I can get a new uniform, tent, bed and clothes, as well as where the medic tent is located," Drea fingered a gash in her thy through a hole, "We need to discuss business. What do I do from here?"

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"That is a good question," Mehrin replied. "I promoted Amon to be my undercommander, and Bruce Shepherd is currently commanding the Scouts. If not for those two, I'd put you into one of those two positions. Hell, if I could, I'd probably instate you as commander and return to the Infantry." Mehrin allowed that thought to hang in the air for a moment. Life was so much simpler when the only thing he had to worry about was the battle around him, the man who was trying to plant his steel in his ribs.

 

WIth a heavy sigh, Mehrin continued, "I honestly don't know what you do from here. The next-highest rank available in the Scouts is Banner-Captain, so I'll put you there, for sure. However, I am not the only veteran here who remembers you. They'll think it a travesty that you received a demotion, in their eyes."

 

A sudden thought added a little more light to Mehrin's appearance. His eyes locked onto Xandrea's. "Is there any way that you could consider being my advisor? I'll be the first to admit that I need one. Amon's advice has always been sound, but another voice would be more than welcome. After all, it was Amon's and my decisions that led to many of the casualties at Emond's Field, some of which, in retrospect, were unnessecary." Mehrin's voice fell quiet as he continued. "This job is one that I never imagined that I'd have to do, but I do it to the best of my abilities. I won't order you to help. I ask it of you."

 

Mehrin's final words came out just above a whisper. "Please?"

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Drea nodded, giving Mehrin's request some thought. She bit her lip- a horrible habbit she started when joining the band, something about the air maybe?- and looked at the desk in front of her. She admired the piles of paper and jars of ink, remembering the days when she too had responcibility, the act of knowing you're important- something every woman dreams of having.

 

"Do not for a moment think I will demand a higher Rank, Commander." Light that sounded strange. "I am honored of your request to make me an advisor, and I'm highly tempted to take you up on it. However I have a few concerns. First off are the other officers. I understand the fact that I was Undercommander, but being away and out of practice for so long, I wouldn't be surprised if my skills were less than skilled. That being said, I would hate for you to give me a rank, and special attention based on what I used to be. I am a different person than before, Commander, and I don't know how I'd react to such pressure, or situations the band has to offer."

 

Drea realize she had stood and had been pacing back and forth in the tent. "I'll take the position, but you need to understand the emotional, physical and mental stress I've gone through. Understand that and I'll do my best to help you and the Band out."

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"You have no idea what this means to me, Xandrea." A smile crept onto Mehrin's face as he added, "By the way, call me 'commander' again and I'll have you mucking out stables. I didn't ask for the rank, and I sure as hell hate being reminded of it. You hear a title for so long, and soon you become the rank. You lose your identity." Mehrin paused before adding, "But of course you'd know that."

 

Having been out of the game as long as Xandrea had, Mehrin already knew that she'd be rusty. However, he didn't plan on having her tackle anything major until she'd gotten her bearings again. Anything else would be unfair and cruel. He hoped that he was doing the right thing by offering her the job; being so close to the position she had before being abducted, yet not being there anymore could be insulting to some people.

 

"Your stresses and hardships will be taken into account. I try not to push people too hard unless I'm training them." Stretching his arms to rejuvinate the cramping muscles, Mehrin asked, "Now, is there anything else you need to know?"

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"Anything else?" Drea looked down at her physical state. She looked - and felt- horrible. "Nothing, except maybe tell me where I can find a new tent, clothes, maybe a horse..." She let her voice trail off, there was so much she needed right now, that she didn't want to sound needy by naming it all. One part of her pride she wouldn't let down, how much she needed something- or someone.

 

After Mehrin gave her directions to each stop she needed to make, as well as where the Barracks were-Barracks! She got to sleep in a real room- she stood to leave, stopping to look at Mehrin. Drea supressed yet another emotional breakdown. She was so happy to be home. Just one familiar face was enough, she wasn't sure she wanted to go out into the rest of the camp yet.

 

"Thank you, Mehrin, for everything. It means a lot to me, letting me back in." She nodded, unsure what else to say. "I'll see ya around."

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"I'm sure that you will," Mehrin added, his voice growing distant as he returned to the mound of paperwork before him. "You just focus on getting yourself back together for now, and you can come see me when you feel that you've recuperated enough."

 

The door closed behind the newly-returned Xandrea Raylin, and Mehrin began to mutter what he was thinking, a more and more common occurance when he was alone. "Don't thank me. Please don't thank me. All that was involved was a selfish wish to get more of my work done by somebody else, putting the harder decisions on somebody else... No! I won't do that to you, or to anyone else." Mehrins murmurs trailed off into unintelligiable sound as he signed away on another list.

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Guest tryst

Toth had just finished his rounds and was taking his report to Mehrin when he saw someone he had never seen before come out of his office. Looking at the paper in his hand and then the women who looked a bit overwhelmed at the size of the citadel he decided. I am sure Mehrin won't miss this report"

Putting the report in the bag attached to his belt he approched her.

 

As he got closer he noticed the bander uniform but it carried the rank of undercommander like the one Amon wore when he wore it. Ah so this is the missing Undercommander Xandrea Raylin who returned after being filed MIA. Comeing to a stop before here with the rustle of chain mail on plate he saluted. "Toth al'Iguaron Infantry" Taking in her sorry state he asked "Ah... anything I can help you with ...ah... ma'am?"

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Exhausted, Drea wanted nothing more than a bed, a beer and a bath. Not neccesarilly in that order, but all at the same time would be nice. Stepping outside again, and raising a hand to block the sudden sun from her eyes, Drea saw a man approach her, she assumed for Mehrin. She stepped aside to let him through when he spoke to her instead.

 

Drea ran a hand through her matted black hair. "I appreciate it, Toth, thank you. But I've had all the help I can take for one day." She forced a smile, but was fuming inside with frustration at being held up from her recovery. She gave a sloppy salute back and walked past him.

 

Before he entered the tent, Drea stopped and turned around. "Oh, and Toth." He stopped and looked back. "Be careful in there. Your Commander is worn out. Don't bring him news that will make it worse."

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