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The Pretender

Toy and Minion

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His father, Halacar was sitting at a round table, dicing with a cloaked figure. Icandar was the spitting image of his father. The only item that was out of place was the hair. Icandar’s short mop was black like his mothers, while Halacars was long and golden. Icandar tried to look into his fathers face, but Halacar always turned his head away.


Moving on, Icandar went to his mother, Arasila who sat in a chair, threading small cutting knives into her hair. “Your hair needs protection, Icar,” she cooed, bending toward him. She continued to bend until she was bent in half, thin as paper. A gust of wind sent her away into the red sky.


His sister, Ricella, came to him, riding a disc of fire, a gold serpent about her shoulders like a shawl. “Big brother, do you want to play a game? The rules are simple enough. We hide together and if we’re found by anyone, we die.” She giggled like a girl not yet off apron strings as she floated away.


Then his father turned to him at last. Blood streamed from his empty eye sockets as he spoke. “A soldier life is glorious. They fight for salvation. They do their duty! Do your duty, Icandar. Just as I did my duty, and my father did his.” The cloaked figure stood up and drove a sword into Halacars back. Halacar died laughing as Icandar ran away.


Into the darkness, Icandar fled. He did not know what he was fleeing or where he was running to. He only needed to get away. A figure seemed to fade into solidity before Icandar. It was the cloaked figure from before. “I do my duty.” The figure said before cutting down Icandar.


Slowly opening his eyes, Icandar awoke to his small room in the Burning Seat Inn. The darkness was not a welcome sight, it reminded him of the darkness in his dream. He rolled out of bed and stumbled over to the window. Pulling open the cloth that shut the light out, he was momentarily blinded as he was greeted by a mid-morning sun.


A groan made him turn in surprise. He calmed down when he saw Lema shifting in the blankets. Lema, Light. I had forgotten. It was not going to be easy telling her. Of course, she already knew. Still, it would not be easy. Well, he would just have to leave some of his plan to himself.


Crossing over to the small wash basin, Icandar picked up his bundle of clothes and began to struggle to get them on. Mornings, he thought sardonically, Light praise them. Once he was dressed, breeches backwards and all, Icandar began to wash the sleep out of his face. As his hands passed over his chin, he felt the stubble left over from last nights shave. He had grown chin whiskers to match his fathers. That would not have done. The further away Halacar Tostig was from everyone’s thoughts, the better of Icandar would be. I probably need a fake name to give them then. Master Benar would be good for that.


Smoothing back his short hair, Icandar took a look in Lema’s small hand mirror. They were expensive, and hard to find. It had been a gift. Icandar’s gift. Icandar’s two month pay gift. That had hurt for a good while. Still did. His coin bag had never felt lighter. The image of his hair pulled back looked too much like a dark haired Halacar for Icandars paranoid mind. Ruffling his hair back to its untidy state, he smiled. Better. Placing the hand mirror down on the basin, Icandar moved to the small travel pack he had bought the week before. It had a shoulder strap for easy transportation. Opening it, he made sure he had all he would need.


He knew he was paranoid. The only problem with paranoia was when you were wrong. And if Icandar was wrong…well, he’d worry about that later. If he was right, later would be too late.


Another, louder, groan from Lema made Icandar turn to her. She was sitting up, rubbing sleep from her eyes. Light blind me! Icandar cursed to himself, The Dark One’s own luck. He gave her a slight smile, hoping it would dispel any worries she had. It didn’t. She frowned at him. Such a pretty frown she had.


“And where do you think you be going?” she demanded. Her Illian accent was strong this morning. No, she was not happy.


Slinging his pack over his shoulder, he began edging his way to the door. To freedom. “Oh, you know, breakfast, work to do, Tower training to begin. Full day ahead.” He spoke fast, in the hopes of her not hearing the part about Tower training. He should have known. She was an Illianer.


She sniffed dismissively. “Do not be seeing any reason for you to be in the Tower Guard.” She glared at him, freezing him in place, two paces from the door. “Fortune prick me, Icandar. What about our future?”


Ah yes, their future. Icandar had known this would come up. How could he tell her? How could he say he was planning on leaving Tar Valon forever. Perhaps running from Aes Sedai for the rest of his life? How could he bring her with him?


He decided to go with logic. “Future, yes. Well, you see, the future is then and this is now. Now I’m going to the White Tower. Then we can have a future.” He was proud of himself on that one. No way to argue with that logic.


Wrong again. She was a woman. “When, fortune burn you? When do our future begin? A year? Two? I suppose I do be expected to wait until the Dragon rebreaks the world and a new Age do come?” She fumed. This was getting out of hand. He needed to calm her down. For that, he needed to be calm.


“Would that be so bad?” he asked innocently. Wrong words. Growling, Lema lifted her hand. In her hand she held a throwing knife. Light, did she sleep with the things? Icandar knocked the door open and slammed it shut. A dull thunk from the other side. Women. They were all insane.


As the seriousness of the situation came back to him, Icandar sighed and rested his head against the door. Light, Lema, I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you. But you can’t follow me, and I need to do this. I hope you’ll understand that one day. He turned from the door, knowing that he would never see Lema again.


At the kitchen, Master Benar was busy ordering the staff. When he caught sight of Icandar, he scowled and shuffled over, his overzealous belly swaying with him. “You still intent on carrying out this fool plan of yours, boy?” Benar quietly spat, spittle getting stuck in his beard.


Wiping his face, Icandar nodded. “I have to, Master Benar. You have yet to disagree with me about it.”


“Doesn’t mean I agree with it.” Benar grunted. Icandar could only smile. Benar was a good man. Icandar had been working for the man for nearly five years now. Benar had given Icandar the room Lema now occupied alone. It was the smallest, but it was a room. And it only cost him half a days pay three days out of ten. Benar always liked to pretend he was a more brutal man than he was, and he liked others pretending with him.


"I only hope I have enough money until I make Tower Guard.” Icandar said worriedly, pulling out his coin bag for Benar to see. Benar’s eyebrows rose with concern, but he quickly painted on a frown.


“Well, don’t expect any handouts from me, boy. You get enough of them as a stable hand.”


Icandar smiled to himself. Some of those handouts had been Benar, but Icandar had learned to keep that to himself. The smell of lamb and eggs made his stomach grumble. He turned to the chef, a plump woman who nearly equaled Benars girth. She was a strict, but kind woman. The only one who Benar took orders from.


“What have you got for me, Mistress Adona?” Icandar asked smoothly. She smiled warmly at him. Sometimes, he had a way with women.


“Help yourself, dear. I hear you’re going away for a time. But I know my cooking will bring you running back.” Adona barked a laugh.


“Only your cooking would bring me back, Mistress.” Icandar replied with a wink.


After helping himself to a plate, he walked back over to where Benar sat on a stool. Taking the stool next to him, Icandar began to eat while enduring Benar’s proclamations of “no charity” and “fend for yourself”. Soon, Benar winded himself out and declared that the kitchen was doing fine enough at the moment and that he needed to get back to the Hall. Mistress Adona only shook her head.


As Benar stood to leave, Icandar picked up his coin bag and felt it was noticeably heavier. Looking down at it, he saw the drawstrings had been tampered with. They had been tied in a square knot, now they were done up in a simple overhand. “Master Benar,” Icandar shouted after the pudgy innkeeper as he shuffled away.


“I told you,” Benar shouted back without slowing down his pace. “On your own!” Then he disappeared into the Hall.


Clenching the coin bag, overcome with emotion, Icandar sat back down. He needed to eat. No one noticed the small river running down his cheek.




It was only after departing the Burning Seat that Icandar realized he hadn’t asked Benar about an alias. Looking back at the door to the inn, Icandar shook his head at himself. He was not going back. He would just have to figure it out on the way. But first, he had something to do. Glancing around to make sure no one was watching, Icandar jogged into a nearby alley. After secluding himself, he pulled out a small knife. It was not unlike the throwing blades that Lema had in her possession. In fact, it was one of them. She wouldn’t miss it. He hoped.


Taking a breath to steel himself, Icandar knelt there in the dirty alley. The dream he had still rang in his head. He had had that dream before. Many times before. His fathers words were most clear.


“A soldier life is glorious. They fight for salvation. They do their duty! Do your duty, Icandar. Just as I did my duty, and my father did his.”


Glory. Salvation. Duty. These were what his father had praised. The life of a soldier. But Icander was not a soldier. The words battled against everything he stood for. And so he denied them. Right here, he would deny them.


Oaths were powerful, he knew. It is known that when entering the service of the White Tower, all other oaths and allegiances are void. Maybe by law, they were. But there were oaths that could not be broken. For if you broke them, you ceased to be who you are. Icandar would not let the White Tower break him. He would defy them.


Taking the blade, he dug it into his palm. “Honor before glory.” He whispered. Relieving the knife, Icandar looked at the line of crimson across his palm. One down. Repeating the process, he spoke, “Truth before salvation.” A third cut and a third oath. “Blood before duty.” Clenching his fist, he let the blood drip from his hand into the ground. The earth drank up his blood as if accepting the offering. As if sealing his oaths.


Standing up, he wrapped his hand in a white cloth like he saw some swordsmen do when practicing. To help with the grip, Icandar assumed. It would not be out of place. Slinging his pack over his shoulder once more, he left the alley and headed for the White Tower.


Blood before duty. he reminded himself. Because his sister was the most important thing to him. Tar Valon can fall on its own. As long as he got her to safety. The shadows were closing in on them, and he didn’t know how much time they had. The Tower may force oaths out of him, but they would not hold to the oaths he had made to himself.


They would not break him.


OOC: Lema, Benar, and Adona are NPC’s for this introduction post only, and will not appear again, except in Icandar’s own memories (ie: dreams, ect.)

Edited by Toy and Minion
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"I already told you." Icandar growled at the stubborn Guardsman. "I'm here for Tower Guard training." Icandar was finding it very difficult to keep himself calm. The Guard looked very unconcerned with Icandars plight. The man probably hated his current position. Who stayed happy when their entire day was spent up denying people entrance into the Tower grounds?


"And I will say one last time," the Guard retorted in a dry monotone. "You need permission to enter the Tower Guard training. We don't let just anybody walk in."


Icandar nibbled his tongue to keep his temper. "Fine then, who do I need permission from?"



The guard smiled for the first time. Not a pleasant smile. "Me." He answered mockingly.


Icandar froze. Then he leaped at the Tower Guard, tackling him. He proceeded to pound his fists into the mans face, hoping someone would intervene before he killed the stubborn fool and ruined all chances of stealing away his sister. It never got that far, however, as the guard punched Icandar in the stomach with a steel gauntlet. Wind blown from him, Icandar was easily brushed aside by the guard, who drew his sword and aimed it for Icandars heart.

Edited by Toy and Minion
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(ooc: adding an npc Lukas, giving a name and story to the guardsman, but probably won't use him ever again either :P )


Visar was off of training duty for the day, and wearily headed over to the gatehouse near the entrance to the Tower Grounds. There he would share dice with Lukas, one of his old Tower Guard friends who cared not for being bonded, and Visar couldn't really blame him. He was an independent man, and didn't even seem to enjoy his job in the Tower Guard much these days.


But the man had been through a lot lately, with both of his parents passing away in Caemlyn, where he was from. And Visar knew the man had a sister that he hadn't seen in a long time, and was worried about her. One did not simply abandon their oaths to the White Tower, however. Duty came before family, although Visar knew Lukas was at least trying to resign from the Guard formally. It took a while for the application to process, though.


To his surprise, Visar discovered that Lukas was on duty instead of in the gatehouse lounge. He had thought this day Lukas got off earlier. Or perhaps he was working extra hours for overtime? Or perhaps he had gotten in trouble again with his superior officer. The latter made a little more sense, Visar thought. He doled out some of the fiery brandy he was going to share with Lukas to some of the other fellows off duty. Drinking while on duty was forbidden, and discouraged upon off duty for warders. But that didn't mean that guardsmen who had had a long day didn't deserve some. And one of the good things of being a warder was that people rarely questioned you if you had questionable items. Visar could always say it was on orders from his Aes Sedai, and Rasheta Sedai was known to enjoy strong drink from time to time.


Visar walked over to the entrance where Lukas was on duty. He heard the familiar sound of a sword rasping free of its sheath, and he broke into a run to see what was going on. Visar stopped short, witnessing a bit of a standoff. There was Lukas, but his sword was drawn and pointed threateningly at a young man who lay prone on the ground, obviously in pain from some previous blow. What had happened here?


"Lukas!" Visar shouted. His friend turned to see Visar, but he did not lower his sword. "What's going on here?"


"This bloody piece of trash attacked me, trying to get into the grounds without permission." Lukas snapped, his eyes angry. Visar had seen that look on him before. The situation was dangerous.


"Why did he want to get into the grounds?" Visar asked in a calm voice, but keeping his hand near his sword hilt in case it was needed. He wouldn't kill Lukas, but if he needed to preserve a life he'd hit him really hard with the flat of his sword.


"Another warder wannabe, this one. Thinks he can just waltz right in, the bastard."


"He's no threat to you, Lukas. Let me talk to him." Visar said insistingly. He knew Lukas was still angry about not being allowed to leave, and the man was like to take it out on anyone who crossed him.


"In fact I think it's better you go off duty. I'll see to it that someone in the gatehouse takes your shift."


"You'll speak to the captain for me? I'm here because he said I had to work extra..." Lukas whined, but Visar nodded.


"I'll beg to him if I have to. Sheath your sword, my friend. It's not needed."


Lukas grunted and did as he was asked, walking off sullenly to the gatehouse. Visar decided it would not be a good idea to give the man a strong drink. Although it was like that he would find one anyway. Visar went over to the young man. Visar held a hand up, indicating he had no intention of hurting him, but would stop him from barging into the Tower Grounds if need be if he had no business being there. Visar spoke, commanding the young man to explain himself.


"I want your name, your business here, and what you did to provoke the guardsman here. Tell me that, and perhaps I can help you out. I am a Warder, after all, and know our training process well. Speak the truth, man, or I will see to it that you are sternly punished if I find you lie. Assaulting a Tower Guard used to be a capital offense under Tower Law under older Amyrlin Seats (ooc: I'm making this up I have no idea), but there are far more humiliating punishments than death these days."

Edited by Visar Falmaien
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The shout was barely heard as Icandar struggled for breath. His death was only a hairs breath away, and he did not know why it did not come. Eyes watering, he rolled to his side, hoping to regain some air to his straining lungs. Coughing uncontrollably, Icandar heard an exchange of voices.


"You'll speak to the captain for me? I'm here because he said I had to work extra..." That from the guard who had made sport of Icandar.


"I'll beg to him if I have to. Sheath your sword, my friend. It's not needed." A new voice. One that seemed calm and stern.



The sound of sword being sheathed and Icandar managed to look up to see the guard retreating, not looking back. Icandar slowly got to his knees. His breath had returned but it was labored. Getting to his feet seemed like a task for another day. The newcomer stepped before Icandar and held up an authoritative hand.


"I want your name, your business here, and what you did to provoke the guardsman here. Tell me that, and perhaps I can help you out. I am a Warder, after all, and know our training process well. Speak the truth, man, or I will see to it that you are sternly punished if I find you lie. Assaulting a Tower Guard used to be a capital offense under Tower Law under older Amyrlin Seats, but there are far more humiliating punishments than death these days."


Icandar bit down a grimace. The truth. Well, he did swear an oath to himself, didn't he? Truth before salvation. But he couldn't tell them the truth. Blood before duty overruled the other two. No, that was not right. He had to tell the truth. At least, part of the truth.


"I am called Icar." He said carefully, using his mothers nickname for him and hoping the warder did not notice the omittance of his surname. Spitting out blood from his mouth, Icandar continued bitterly. "I did nothing to provoke that buffoon! He ran me around for his own amusement. I lost my temper, something I rarely do, and attacked him. You saw the rest."


Taking a breath, Icandar got to his feet and looked the Warder in the eyes. He would not back down. "I am here to become a Tower Guard. I will be one. If you can help me to do so, then I would ask that you do." Glancing darkly in the direction the Guard disappeared, Icandar whispered to himself, "I will not be taken so easily again."



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  • 3 weeks later...

(ooc: a thousand apologies for your delay here! Let me know if you want me to slow down the pace a bit)


"I am here to become a Tower Guard. I will be one. If you can help me to do so, then I would ask that you do."

Visar frowned as he listened to Icar's explanation. He thought he heard him whisper something but didn't catch what was said. The young man seemed unusually angry, but those who were innocent of doing wrong were often angry when people assumed the worst of them. Visar accepted what Icar said as truth. He nodded.


"Aye, I can help you. I'll even help sign you up myself I think I have time for that as the night is still young. Then we'll find a bed for you and get the rest taken care of tomorrow. Sound good?"


Visar led Icar over to the gatehouse office where they processed trainees. He met with the supervisor, who was just about to turn in, and they wrote Icar's name down in the trainee logs. Then Visar led Icar over to the barracks where most of the trainees were already asleep, exhausted from their day's trials.


"So here's how this works." Visar explained on the way as Icar didn't seem to like the idea of being a 'trainee,' his intent gaze fixed on being a Tower Guard. "You're not going to go right into the Tower Guard just yet. Almost all of our Tower Guardsmen---unless they have strong recommendations from another prestigious unit indicating their experience, such as the Queen's Guard in Andor; we occasionally get applicants from there--start off here as a trainee, even if they do have some experience with arms. As a trainee, you receive no pay, but you have free room and board as we make sure you are up to par with our standards for the Tower Guard, and a lot of people out there aren't taken care of as well as we do our trainees. It's hard work though, believe me. You will no doubt want to quit on several occasions. Remember to be persistent and patient. A year or two as a trainee, and if you work hard and impress the Commander you will surely be inducted into the Gaurd."


They arrived at a room where there was apparently a vacancy.


"Do you have any questions for me, trainee Icar?" Visar asked, knowing that it was soon time for him to leave and check in with Rasheta before going to sleep himself.

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(OOC: No worries. Holiday time.)


Icar followed the Warder, grunting to hide the pain in his stomach. He listened intently to Visar's explanation. It made sense, much as it irked him. A year or two? He didn't have that kind of time. Whoever had killed his mother would be after him and his sister next. He couldn't afford one year, let alone two. He needed access to the White Tower so that he could steal Ricella. He had to find a way to advance more quickly.


"Do you have any questions for me, trainee Icar?"


"Yes I do." Icar said, letting his eyes wander around his room. "Is there any way for me to advance sooner than one year?" He turned his eyes back to the Warder, but he was unable to look him in the eye.

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"Is there any way for me to advance sooner than one year?"


Visar turned and studied Icar. Why did the young man seem so eager to advance? Did he know nothing about the dangers of rushed training? Or were his motives elsewhere? Visar glanced at the window. It was getting late, and he should check in with Rasheta soon or she might get worried. He put the small tinge of suspicion from his mind, and answered the question with brutal honesty.


"It is possible, but don't hope for it. The odds are against you, with only a few positions opening up per month, andthose who have grown up with military training usually having the advantage at getting those. Most recruits train for at least a year before they are even considered for the Tower Guard, even two or three years isn't unusual. We are about quality and thoroughness here, and quality takes time and hard work. Patience, young man. You work hard and show promise, and you'll be in the Guard before you know it. Rest well, you'll need it."


Visar and many of the other warders and diehard trainees and guardsmen normally started training well before dawn, but Visar knew that Icar was likely to be tired, and needed his rest for the first day. It was likely to be a long one for Icar.


"Now if there's anything else you need? I'd best be going soon. I'll see you in the yards after breakfast tomorrow."

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"Now if there's anything else you need? I'd best be going soon. I'll see you in the yards after breakfast tomorrow."


Icar tried to hide his feelings by clenching his fist into his side. “Nothing more, sir.” He turned away from the Warder to keep his face hidden. He knew it would look like an arrogant dismissal of the Warder and that he’d pay for it tomorrow. But the Warder could not see the furious tears in his eyes.


After the Warder left, Icar eased himself into his cot. He winced at the sharp pain in his stomach. Word of the wise: Don’t get punched by a steel gauntlet, idiot. He didn’t care what the Warder had said. He would achieve what they thought impossible. They said unlikely, but those were kind words to a stable hand. It didn’t matter, though. He would succeed. He had to.


When he finally settled down, he felt his body drain. All the stress of the day, not to mention getting his backside firmly handed to him, had left room for nothing more but sleep. And dreams.


Icar was in the darkened streets of Tar Valon. The alley where his mother had been killed. A man huddled in the shadows. He wore not much more than scraps for clothing. A beggar. But no, that did not fit quite right. The man showed his face and Icar gasped, backing away. His father sat in the dirt and filth, hair dirty and almost black, his beard long and tangled. His eyes were missing, leaving bleeding sockets. He was laughing.


“Determination, Icandar! Never underestimate a man determined. Kingdoms are born from determination. They are also destroyed by that same determination.” He shuffled across the floor toward his son. “Determination can make you reach heights never thought possible. Just beware, the fall.” A mad laugh drove Icar into the darkness of true sleep.


He awakened into darkness. He stood to open the window, to allow sunlight to stream into his and Deera’s room. He was leaving to become a Tower Guard today. How was he going to tell her? A pain in his side brought him to his knees, and brought the memory of the last day.


He couldn’t help but smile. He was in. It had been a stumbling start, but he had made it. He was going to become a Tower Guard and free his sister from whatever threatened them both.


He didn’t need to get dressed, for he had slept in his clothes. He did need something to eat, however. Where did one go to get food around here? Was there a kind of hall where all the Tower Guards went to eat, or did one go out to the city and find an Inn? All questions he should have asked that Warder, but had seem second thoughts then. How was he going to save his sister on an empty stomach?


Opening to the door to his room, he found that it was not in fact morning, but dawn. He heard sounds of a scuffle and hurried toward it. Did the killer already find him? No. When he neared the sounds, he saw that it was the training grounds. Men – and women! – dueled while others looked on and shouted out instructions. He tried, but he couldn’t picture himself in that yard, practice sword in hand, moving like flowing water from form to form.


Light above, what am I doing here? They’ll chew me up and spit up the bones.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Icar tore vigorously into the leg of meat. It was some bird he knew the taste of, if not the name. Many a dinners at the Burning Seat had sported the bird. Never in such quantity for one person, however. Much to his slight disappointment, it was even better than Mistress Adona's. The magnitude of his hunger had escaped him until he had began eating. He was unwilling to stop any time soon.


After nearly choking for the third time, Icar slowed down. He gave himself time to think as he nibbled meat from a bone. He was going to start his training this morning. What could he do to surpass all expectations? How could he achieve his goal in time? There was a swirl of colors as the thought of failing cropped up. He firmly cut it down. There had to be a way. There was no use dwelling on it now. He would figure it out. He just needed to see where he stood first. Time was not his ally, but he had to make use of what he had.


His fingers hit an empty plate and he looked down to realize that all the food was gone. His stomach moaned in protest while his mouth watered for more. Light take me for a fool. A lot of good it will be if I eat myself sick. Taking it slow, Icar eased himself away from the table and walked slowly outside toward the training grounds. He looked for a friendly face, but only saw sweat smeared visages of focus. He was doomed.

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