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Kaf House Rendezvous - OTA


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The Return had gone well in Amadacia. Here in Tarabon too, they were scouting out the area, sending out feelers. All good and well, as efforts go, but where was lady Ruan?


She wasn't there, and she wasn't here either.


Still there was no way Lijah, as her Soe'feia, would speak the truth about her disappearance. Nobody must know that Ruan had gone missing.


Running his fingers through his beautiful golden hair, Lijah leaned back into the chair and sighed. What did he do wrong?


He thought of the possible reason she might have ran off and abandoned him.


It connected to what had transpired between Ruan and Lilune, the seeker. Lijah had always felt Lilune hid her own strength well . . . too well. She was investigating a case connected with Ruan. He knew her secret involvement because she had denied any knowledge in a low voice, but her gaze didn't directly touch his.


Which meant she didn't want him involved.


He could have said something though. Anything was better than avoiding the subject altogether.


The opening of the door let some of the chill in, distracting Lijah from his thoughts.


Grey eyes soft as soot regarded a woman with dark hair and bright blue eyes. It was nice seeing familiar features in this land.


"Pardon me . . . " Lijah called out to the passing waitress. Her movement stopped as she peered over. "Could you get that lady over there what I have please?" Smilingly he slipped a silver unto her tray. It was more than adequate to pay for the kaf, which he thought she might appreciate. She looked about as tired as he felt.


Lijah Opeth


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There was a light drizzle this morning with a cool breeze, something Cura wished she wouldn't be seeing this day. It wasn't the rain that annoyed her or the temperature, but the constant wind. It seemed many of Tarabon's villages were right on the coast, that sea breeze filling the air with a salty smell.


Turning away from the window of her room, she looked back at her dress hanging nearby. A stray thread of red was hanging loose near the hem and she snipped it off with a pair of seamstress' scissors. She looked for others, as well as stains or signs of wear, but it was freshly washed and ironed. Cura was very particular about her uniforms, about her whole appearance. She needed to always look pristine. It was part of her morning routine, a way to set her mind at ease and yet prepare for the day.

She put on her dress, which stopped short of her ankles, and glanced at the stand mirror. It was mostly blue, with panels of red on the chest and on the sides of the skirt, featuring forked lightning. She made sure it looked perfect before brushing back and securing her hair neatly, not a single black strand out of place. She finished up by darkening her eyes with kohl and powdering her face, not that her pale skin really needed it. However, Cura needed to look her best, no matter what the day was going to bring. It gave her the mental stability she needed. Routine. It was all about that.

She grabbed her cloak, also lightning paneled, clipped it in the front, and made her way out.


Cura did not have duty today, but a sul'dam always needed to look her station, just as any member of the Ever Victorious Army had to over here. The natives of this land did not know the proper respect she deserved, knew nothing of her station, but that did not change what Cura needed to do. Besides, she got respectful nods or bows from other Seanchan, and in turn paid respects to those she had to as she passed them on the street. Everything was as it should be, here, in this part of Tanchico. Most of the residents of this area were now Seanchan. It was like a piece of her home had been brought here.


Two streets down there was an inn and pub three stories tall, run by an older Taraboner man with a round face and a ready smile. Most of the Taraboners thought her people as invaders--forget that they were the ones who forgot their oaths!--yet Mauri Anyar didn't seem to mind at all. He was a bit round and broad shouldered, and bowed and smiled under that veil to anyone who walked into his tavern, though some of those smiles were probably nervousness. Well, it was the best place around in Cura's opinion. It was the only place that sold kaf, something Master Anyar had jumped upon very quickly. She supposed he was happy for the business.


He bowed deep as she walked in. She walked right pass him and unbuttoned her cloak. The tavern itself was rather warm, and already somewhat busy, half of the common room full. Most people were Taraboners or other foreigners, with only a few Seanchan. The Ancient Stone was a good place to mix in with the locals. Settling down at a table along the wall, in a chair facing the entrance, she was about to order some kaf when the serving girl brought it up to her.

"On the spot today, I see," Cura told her.

"It came from him, miss," the younger girl said, gesturing with her head. Cura's gaze swept straight to him, a man with golden hair and gray eyes. She could tell he was Seanchan, though that was no reason to trust him, of course. Perhaps the opposite. Cura set down the cup firmly, openly regarding him with slightly narrowed eyes. What was the reason for this apparent kindness?


She decided to take it in stride. Sitting up, she lifted the kaf and took in the aroma, her free hand on the table. She idly tapped the wood twice in a subtle invitation to join her, her gaze meeting his for a moment before surveying the rest of the room.



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Kohl darkened blue eyes narrowed over her kaf and soon he heard the two inviting knocks, one after the other in quick procession. He could ignore it, but having made the first move, the sounds strongly attracted him. He walked toward the woman, carrying his mug of hot kaf in his hands. Nodding contently he set the kaf down in front of him and sat next to the woman.


But, for sure she was . . .


No, it was better to proceed officially since she appeared cautious. Rightly so, thought Lijah in approval.


His voice was soft, lilting but still holding an accent. "I am strange to this land. If you do not mind, I would like to ask some questions. I have proof of my identity."


At that, he produced a letter from his sleeves, although it looked tight enough not to conceal anything more than paper. A letter without an address. A letter not specifically written for anyone or any organization. It was for anyone, any city no matter what that city was, as long as it was passed into their hand to read.


It was also quite new. Except for the rough edges of the four corners, there were no traces of any damage on it. It retained a nice sort of smell, at least to Lijah, the smell of flowers and of the outside. Ruan had named that scent, Ruan standing on the world. It was his lady's scent.


Taking the parchment out, he placed the letter on the table and waited for her to pick it up and read it.


On it was the seal of the high lady asking for the co-operation of the reader for her servant. The words, neatly scripted, were by a feminine hand.

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Cura inclined her head to the man as he made his way to her table. She observed as much as she could--how he walked, how he held his cup, where his eyes traveled and for how long. Visant had taught her these things, back when she was a young sul'dam, just getting used to the ropes. He had kindly, uncharacteristically taken her under his wing, and Cura would be grateful for that forever. If only he had not disappeared so suddenly.


When at first the man said he was new to the land, Cura took it to mean he must have came on one of the recently arrived ships. Cura herself had been here since the first landing of the Hailene. She didn't think on his origin too long though, not when he offered proof of who he was. She blinked. Why would he have to do that? She could understand him easily; he didn't speak so fast as the natives here.


Unless he was more than he appeared. Cura's gaze followed that piece of sealed paper as he slid it across the table. He probably noticed her body tense.


She recognized that seal. There wasn't a person of importance who didn't. He worked for the Daughter of the Nine Moons? She took a slow sip of her kaf and set down her cup, then slowly took up the paper. She glanced at the man and unfolded the paper, reading it slowly. Then she folded it and set it down.


"How may I be of service to the Empire?" she asked him.




ooc: just to double check, that letter confirms him as a Listener?



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While the woman muttered her question, Lijah drank his own kaf.


Ruan's letter always gets this reaction. The caution with which the woman spoke was tinged with reverence. Particularly, false responses were seldom uttered. Not by those who lived under the dominion of the empress and her royal family.


Hence . . . for the time being, nobody must know about lady Ruan's disappearance.


He reached for the letter and tucked it back into his sleeve.


At any rate, the woman needed to act natural and not draw attention. Lijah was glad she didn't try, as some unfortunate informants had, accusing him of stealing the letter and pretending to be a listener. The punishment for such an imposer was death to be sure, but a very slow and agonizing end. But, if falsely accused, the punishment for the accusing party was of similar magnitude. Such was the authority and stakes in the gamble.


Luckily for Lijah and this woman however, it was his letter to carry.


And his task here was not only to look for lady Ruan, but also to assess the current strength here and report back via post.


Though Lijah hadn't been to Tarabon before, he still had sufficient understanding of how the land worked. Before landing here, he had researched both the panarchial system and knew that the current panarch, head of the lords, was to be made one of the empress's da'covale. What about the other assets to the empire during the conquest of Tanchico?


He cut right to the problem. "You are a sul'dam, I take it? To start, what is your name and house? Are you training any girls at the moment? If so, how many are natives here and where are you currently quartered? Of the girls, are there any who are bald or have very little hair?"


Taking another sip of his kaf he waited for the woman to respond. It was also to quieten his nerves. He did not mean to ask the last question. Not that he would expect Ruan to pretend to be a slave, much less have the ability. But what if these girls weren't tested yet? Even so she would have worn a wig, had a disguise.


He wished he hadn't asked that. Now the woman might become suspicious.

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Her kaf completely forgotten on the table, Cura studied this man closely. She wondered, as he asked his last question, if he was new to his post. He seemed more anxious than any other Listener that she had ever seen or met. Perhaps it was being in this new land. Or perhaps not.


"I am Cura Tenshi," she replied smoothly. Best to give all the information he asked for, but probably not more than that. A Listener he may have been, but he didn't need to be privy to every piece of information she had. He asked basic questions. Except that last--it was rather focused. So, he was seeking someone.

"I work for House Gushard, under High Lord Vulrick Cocoen Gushard, who leads the Hailene." That ought to impress him perhaps. Cura was one of the two dozen or so sul'dam who worked directly for the leader of the Forerunners, and she felt proud of that.


"As for who we are training," she went on carefully, "I'm assuming you mean our damane?" Had one of their new ones from Tanchico been someone important? One of their Aes Sedai? "But none are bald, and only one has shorter hair, golden to her ears. We have five damane in the main house, and ten more in the quarters. Three of them were caught on this side of the ocean, but that is High Lord Gushard's house. Others may have caught more, I am not sure. You'd have to consult our der'sul'dam on such reports." But why would be be interested in damane? Whatever the reason was she would not think on it too long just then. Instead, her gaze continued to study the man before her.

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