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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
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Christine

A Sword is Only Good if your Opponent Cannot Channel

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Michelle rolled out of bed, and for the first time in half a week, her body was not aching. After working with Arath, she had spent the entire next day laying in bed moaning. The three after it, she had spent soaking in the bath and constantly begging him to reheat the water. After a while, he had stopped laughing at her, and simply continued to reheat the water. After this, she was determined to have an herb garden, so that she could at least have a wonderful aroma while she soaked. She didn't even realize that half the muscles that were sore had existed, and she was determined to get back to working them.

 

Stretching for a moment, Michelle looked at the sword resting on top of the chest. She should probably attempt to practice today, or else her body would start to get too loose again, and she didn't want to endure the past 4 days all over again. She hurriedly pulled her breeches on, followed by her boots and a loose shirt. Splashing herself in the face with water from the washbasin and grabbing her sword, she headed downstairs, glancing around, looking for Arath. She remembered suddenly that he had training to do that day, and she knew that he would come to find her eventually. It wasn't like she had that many places she went.

 

Making the quick walk across the grounds, she headed down the path into the woods. She hoped that Tai wouldn't be there, as the clearing was his private practice area, and she was glad to see that it was empty. Sitting down on the grass, she reached from side to side, grasping the bottoms of her boots and attempting to stretch her muscles. She did the same with her arms, and rubbed them quickly, trying to warm them up. She knew that she would very quickly become tired and that her sword arm would begin to feel weak within minutes, so she started slowly, attempting to keep her balance while still practicing the moves. It was so much easier when there was someone to spar with, but this way certainly hurt less.

 

After about 30 minutes of attempting the moves, she wiped the sweat off of her brow. She missed Arath, even though he did like to beat her up. It was just more fun when she had him out here. Michelle smiled, thinking about him, then shook her head, trying to shake thoughts of him out. As if that would do any good.

 

"Little girl.... What are you doing out here little girl?"

 

Michelle heard the voice and turned around to see no one. Twisting back the other way, she still saw nothing. She knew that she heard a voice, but she saw no one around her. Raising the sword, she turned around again to see a man standing at the edge of the clearing.

 

"Come now, little girl. It isn't safe for you to be out here alone. Here, why don't you give it to ME?" On the final word, she felt the sword jerked out of her hand. Horrified, she watched as it came into his hand. He had just used the power on her, and now she had no defense whatsoever. She had never seen the man before, but she knew what she saw. He had gone insane.

 

"Who... who are you?" she asked, not wanting to alarm him or have him hurt her. She prayed that Arath would hurry quickly, or else she was done for.

 

"I think the real question is... why are't you running?" The man began taking steps towards her, and Michelle began taking steps backwards. She didn't like the look in his eyes at all.

 

"Do you... do you want me to run?" she asked. By the Light, where was Arath. Or Tai? Any other moment, one of them would have been right beside her, never leaving her alone, but now that she needed someone, she was abandoned.

 

"Yes... RUN!"

 

Michelle turned and ran for her life. She pushed her legs before her, sprinting as fast as she could. "ARATH!" she screamed, before returning to breathing so as to not exhaust herself. She could hear the man darting behind her, and as she took a glance back, she saw that he was barely even jogging. It seemed to be more of a game of cat and mouse than him really chasing her. She continued to run, screaming out Arath's name again. She suddenly felt herself unable to move, and looked down as she was being lifted into the air. "ARATH!" she screamed again, unable to move otherwise.

 

The man below was laughing, and watched as she dangled in the air. "Come now, little girl. You will enjoy this as much as I will."

 

Michelle looked around in fear, praying that someone had heard her. The man was walking towards her, and she saw him fumbling with his breeches. "ARATH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

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Arath rubbed his temples as he wove the gateway to take him home. Basic Saidin training was usually rough, but this latest group of Soldiers seemed particularly stupid. Had he ever made such a fool of himself in front of his own instructors? He kind of doubted it. It took a particular kind of dumb to set yourself on fire instead of lighting the candle five feet in front of you. And it had happened twice today!

 

The first thing Arath noticed when he entered was the quiet. Michelle was not in the kitchen as she usually was, nor was she in the sitting room with one of his books. That left ... the bath. She'd spent most of her time since their sword lesson soaking in the tub, and asking either himself or Tai to reheat the water. He'd been trying to figure out a weave that he could leave tied off to keep the water warm, but so far hadn't been able to find one that didn't eventually cause the water to boil. Maybe he could build a ter'angreal to do it?

 

Knocking on the door first, Arath poked his head cautiously around the door and peeked in. The bath tub was empty too. Strange ... perhaps she was upstairs? Taking his time, Arath made his way up the stairs, stopping at his own room first to drop off his sword belt. Sword ... that made him think. Knocking on Michelle's door and hearing no response, Arath opened it up and took a look inside. Michelle was nowhere to be found, and the sword he had brought her the day before was not resting next to her desk. She must have gone out to practice with it. Smiling to himself, Arath closed the door and made his way back down stairs. She would probably be back soon enough, but if she was feeling well enough to go try on her own, maybe she wouldn't mind another lesson? Grabbing a pair of practice lathes from his office, Arath headed out the front door and started jogging westward toward Tai's clearing. He couldn't risk travelling, since he didn't know exactly where she would be, but it wasn't far. He liked to run anyway.

 

As he approached the edge of the clearing, something shiny caught his eye near the base of one of the trees. Bending down to examine it, he frowned in sudden recognition. Michelle's sword. At the same instance, he heard a horrified shriek come from the woods on the opposite side of the clearing. "ARATH!"

 

Dropping the blade back into the snow, Arath sped off toward the source of the screams. He almost missed her entirely. Another scream, and the sound of a man far to his right pulled him around, and through the trees he saw them. Michelle, suspended in mid air, and someone Arath didn't immediately recognize. Not that it really mattered who he was. Arath was going to kill him.

 

Charging forward, Arath siezed Saidin and channeled fire. A tightly wrapped missile of flame darted out of his outstretched hand and streaked toward the rogue Asha'man. The enemy channeler felt the surge of Saidin behind him, and managed to get a shield up in time, deflecting the small fireball to the side and launching a counter attack of his own. A large ball of fire hurtled toward the Attack Leader, but he simply reached out with threads of spirit and cut it apart. It vaporized harmlessly in front of him, and he quickly charged through the spot it had been. Extending those same weaves forward, Arath sliced apart everything the other man tried to weave. The Asha'man looked enraged as the distance closed between them. Still trying to fire off an attack weave, he drew his sword and charged forward himself. Unphased, Arath channeled fire again, and a pair of burning red blades burst into being in his hands. The Asha'man blinked for a second in dumb surprise, but that was all he had. The enraged Attack Leader wove again, earth and fire, and another tiny missile fired from his extended sword. The flaming dart buried into the other man's chest, a moment before the first blade sliced clean through his sword and slashed across his chest. A half breath later, Arath's second sword flashed out and took off his head.

 

Before the dead man even hit the ground, Arath had charged past him to where Michelle hung helplessly from the air. Letting his fire blades dissolve, he reached out and severed the ties that held her, catching her in his arms as she fell to the ground. "Michelle? Are you okay?"

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Michelle struggled again against the bonds that held her, and the man was getting closer to her. After all this time of keeping men at bay, and after all this time of preserving herself, she couldn't believe that this was it for her. She struggled again, and knew it was no use. The man was going to use her as he pleased and then disposed of her. She cried, wishing she could see Arath one last time.

 

And then she did. Out of no where, she saw Arath running towards her, and she screamed out to him again. Fire came from his hand as he kept running, and then fire came from her attacker in response. She struggled against the bonds again, wanting to see more, but it was impossible to turn her head and her eyes hurt looking out of the corner of her eyes. Shutting them tightly, she whispered silent prayers that Arath would be safe. She couldn't let him die trying to save her.

 

She suddenly felt herself falling, and then felt Arath's arms around her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held on, looking over his shoulder to see the dead body on the ground. "Michelle? Are you okay?" She could see the man's innards spilling out, and the blood pouring from the stumb that had been his neck. Unable to help herself, she screamed again, which quickly turned into a sob. Arath held her tight against him, and she wasn't letting go. He had used the power against her before, but it was simply to stop her from being stupid, and she had known he wouldn't hurt her. Michelle also knew that the power could do damage, but to see what Arath had done...

 

She cried harder into his shoulder, gripping onto his shirt with her hands and not letting go. "Please don't let go of me, Arath," she whispered, before breaking into another sob.

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Carefully weaving a complex net of spirit and water, Arath checked Michelle for any injuries. He knew she probably wouldn't want the One Power to be used on her at all, especially after what had just happened, but she didn't seem to be in any condition to respond to his questions. Besides, she wouldn't be able to feel the delving at all.

 

Satisfied that she was unharmed, Arath released the source and held her tightly. Not that there was really any other way of doing things. He doubted he could break her grip on him without using the Power. Not quite sure what else to do, he simply wrapped his arms around her and patted her back. "You're okay now. He can't hurt you." Arath still wasn't sure who he was, but that was a concern for later. Right now, he needed to get Michelle away from here.

 

Struggling to his feet was a challenge with her clinging to him as tightly as she was, but eventually he managed to gather her up in his arms and stand. Reaching out with Saidin once again, he split the air with spirit weaves, rotating open a gateway directly into her room. Before stepping through, he looked back at the body which was growing cold on the forest floor. Weaving air and fire, he fixed a light globe into the air a dozen paces or so above the corpse. Somebody would need to be able to find it later, to identify who the man was. Stepping through the portal, Arath let the grisly scene disappear behind him. Kneeling down next to the bed, he deposited Michelle on the mattress. "Hey ... it's okay now. I told you I wouldn't let anyone hurt you."

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Michelle held tight to Arath as he gently rocked her back and forth, and she tried to stop her crying. After a while, he just held her, and she just held on tight, not wanting to open her eyes or speak. She felt him stand up with her still in his arms, and then felt the empty feeling of going through a gateway. She suddenly felt like she was on a soft surface and let go of Arath, looking around to see that she was in her room. "Hey ... it's okay now. I told you I wouldn't let anyone hurt you." Michelle nodded, remembering his promise to protect her, and held tight onto his hand as he knelt beside her. She couldn't think about what had just happened. That man... he was going to take advantage of her.

 

"I know..." she whispered, trying to not cry out again. "I just didn't think you were coming." The fat tears began to roll down her cheeks again, and then she realized where she was. She was in a room, on a bed, with Arath, and he could channel. Staring at him for a second, she dropped his hand and rolled over the bed to the other side, screaming for all her worth. She couldn't stay here with a channeler, and she wouldn't let anyone touch her ever again. She rushed out of the room, down the stairs, and straight into his bedroom, locking the door behind her. Sinking down against it, she cried.

 

After a few moments, she could hear Arath outside of the door, knocking gently and calling her name. She tried to stop crying long enough to tell him to go away, but she could only cry harder. How could she trust Arath when someone like him had channeled against her? Arath had held her in bonds before... what if he decided one day to take her against her will? The ideas only made her cry harder as she tried to tell herself that Arath would never hurt her. But, how could she really trust him? He was, after all, a male channeler.

 

"Go away," she yelled out hoarsely. "I don't need your pity or protection. You male channelers are all the same, and I won't let you touch me!"

Edited by Christine

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Once again, Michelle didn't fail to confuse Arath completely. One moment she was holding his hand tightly, and the next she was throwing herself off the bed, charging out the door, and barricading herself in his room, screaming at him as though he'd been the one to attack her! How was he supposed to deal with that?

 

After a few unsuccessful minutes of trying to persuade her to open the door, Arath leaned back against the wall, at a total loss. If anything she sounded even more hysterical now. She was going to end up hurting herself if she kept this up. For a moment he considered going to one of the healers for help, but quickly discarded the thought. The last thing she needed right now was yet another strange man channeling at her. He certainly wasn't getting anywhere with her from this side of the door though. That much was clear.

 

Plan of action decided on, Arath called through the door one more time. "Michelle, please. Let me in. I'm not going to hurt you."

 

"GO AWAY!!!" she sreamed, thumping on the door.

 

That thump was what Arath was looking for. If she was next to the door, then he could safely Travel inside. Splitting the air with the familiar threads of spirit, he quickly jumped through the gateway and let it snap shut on his heels. He definitely didn't want her hurting herself trying to escape through the portal. Michelle didn't take well to his sudden appearance. An ear splitting shriek and a well placed kick at his knee slowed him down for moment, but he quickly crossed the distance and fell to the floor next to her, pulling her protesting form into his arms again.

 

She didn't respond well. She flailed around, shrieking loudly and trying to hit him in any way she could, scratching and clawing with her nails. All he could do was keep his face clear, hold on tightly, and whisper reassurances to her. Light send she grew tired of this quickly and started acting rationally again.

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Arath kept calling through the door, asking her to open, but Michelle would have none of it. She wouldn't open the door just to be used and hurt like the man in the clearing had tried. For years, she had not trusted men, and after Arath left, she avoided them at all cost. She should have never trusted men to begin with, and she certainly wasn't going to ruin herself now by trusting him again. She had to leave this place. That was her only option.

 

"Michelle, please. Let me in. I'm not going to hurt you." His words sounded so genuine, as though he really cared. But, he had left her and hurt her before. He would do it again. "GO AWAY!!!" she yelled back, and thumped her closed fist on the door to make sure he understood she wanted to be alone. Crying harder, she wrapped her arms around her legs and buried her face into her knees. She realized for the first time that her shirt was ripped slightly from where the man had grabbed her, and she just cried harder. She would never ever let another man touch her.

 

Looking up, she saw that Arath had traveled into the room, and she shriked again. How could he use the Power in front of her after she just had it used against her? He truly did want to hurt her. Michelle kicked at him, and he then fell beside her and pulled her against him. She felt suffocated and so helpless and defenseless. She just wanted to run and hide in the back of her closet for days, but Arath wouldn't let go of her. She tried pushing him away, punching him, scratching, anything that would get him off of her, but he wouldn't let go. He kept whispering into her ear and she tried to block him out. His words would only be lies.

 

Eventually giving up, she collapsed in a heap against him, too tired to fight anymore. If he was going to hurt her, she had no fight left to give. A few more tears fell down her cheeks as she laid her head against his chest, and her eyes began to feel as though they were out of tears. Sobbing softly, she whispered, "He tried to.. to take advantage of me. How could he do that, Arath? And how could you let him? Where were you? I called for you, and you... you weren't there!"

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Arath took the abuse stoicly, flinching at some of the more well placed attacks, but otherwise holding his ground. Eventually, thankfully, she began to tire. The punching, scratching, and kicking all died down, and screams of anger were replaced with sobs. Eventually she gave up entirely and started talking again. "He tried to.. to take advantage of me. How could he do that, Arath? And how could you let him? Where were you? I called for you, and you... you weren't there!"

 

"I know ... I'm sorry," he said gently. "I came as soon as I could find you. I didn't know where you were." There was a solution to that, but he really doubted she would like it. Especially right now. He really wasn't quite sure how much he would like that solution at the moment either. Maybe he would bring it up later. Much later.

 

"You know I'd never hurt you." He hugged her close, for once not worrying about how awkward it made him feel. "You know that, right?"

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"I know ... I'm sorry." Arath held her tightly, and Michelle closed her eyes and burried her face against his chest. She just stayed there, finally starting to feel safe. Arath was strong enough to snap her in two, but all he was doing was holding her. "I came as soon as I could find you. I didn't know where you were." She had been screaming for all her worth. How could he not know where she was?

 

"You know I'd never hurt you." Michelle nodded as he hugged her tighter, and she relaxed against him, trying to stop thinking about what had just happened. She was too tired from struggling to keep crying and being upset, and at that point, she just wanted to fall asleep forever. Staying in Arath's arms, however, was a close second. How could she have been so foolish as to think that he would actually hurt her. "You know that, right?" Even if he was a channeling man...

 

Shifting herself to be closer in his arms, she rested her head on his shoulder and just layed there against him. She felt safer there, as though he could protect her better when she was in his arms. There would be no more sword practicing... it was clear they were pointless. She wouldn't be venturing to Covai's Inn anymore. She wouldn't be going for walks about the farm, or even just going outside to try and start a garden. She would never leave this house again unless she absolutely had to, and even then, she would be attached to Arath.

 

After a few minutes of laying there in silence, Michelle sat up and tried to wipe the dried tears from her eyes. She knew they had to be horribly red and puffy, and her entire head was throbbing. At this point, all she wanted was to sleep. Struggling to get up from where she had sat, Arath had dropped his arms and she looked down at him for a moment, before whispering, "Thank you."

 

Walking over to his bed, too tired and upset to move any more, she kicked off her boots and laid down on his bed. Pulling the blanket over herself, she curled into the fetal position. Michelle could hear Arath standing up, and she feared him leaving. "Please, don't go."

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Arath hesitated for a moment as Michelle spoke. He'd been meaning to leave her alone to get the rest he was sure she needed. And take advantage of the break to go clean up that mess in the forest. Instead, he walked around the bed to the big chair in the corner, and sat down facing Michelle. She looked miserable. "I can stay for a while. But I'll need to go ... take care of something soon. But I'll wait with you until you fall asleep."

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Arath did as she asked, and came to sit in the chair beside the bed. He stared at her, and she stared back. She wished she was still in his arms, but she did feel safe at least knowing that he was beside her. He wouldn't let anyone hurt her... he had promised. "I can stay for a while. But I'll need to go ... take care of something soon. But I'll wait with you until you fall asleep."

 

Michelle nodded, knowing he was a busy man. He had other people to worry about and care for than just her. It didn't hurt her feelings that other things were important, but she did wish that he would just spend the rest of the day with her and protect her. How could she have spent two weeks on the Farm and just carried on as if nothing was wrong. She was in danger the whole time....

 

Seeing Arath's hand resting on his knee, Michelle reached out and grabbed it, and held it tightly. He stiffened for a second, but Michelle wouldn't let go. She let her eyes closed and laid there on her side, simply holding his hand. She didn't want him to leave, but knew she had no right to ask him to say. "Arath, what about next time?" she whispered. "What about the next one that goes crazy? What about if..." she couldn't bring up the idea of him going crazy. She needed him, and they were just starting to open up to each other again for her to lose him. "... if someone attacks the house while you are gone?"

Edited by Christine

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Remaining silent for a moment, Arath considered her questions. They were legitimate concerns, and not ones he had answers for. At least not answers she would like.

 

"You're safe in the house. I have protections placed on it that let me know instantly if anyone channels at the house, or if anyone other than you, Tai, or Aria comes in or out. I'd be here within seconds."

 

That was all well and good, but only a half solution at best, and both of them knew it. She would be safe inside the house ... provided she never left it. Which wasn't bloody likely. Reluctantly, Arath sighed and began to tell her about the other option.

 

"There ... is another thing I could do, though I don't know if it's a good idea ... especially right now. Do you know anything of bonding?"

 

She looked confused. "Like ... a sibling bond? Or what?"

 

Arath grimaced and shook his head. "No ... I mean ... Like the link between an Aes Sedai and her Warder." Michelle just shook her head, still not understanding. Blood and Ashes ... I didn't want to have to spell it out for her ... Well, the best way to do it was probably just to do it quickly. "It's a thing of the Power. A link between two people so that they can ... feel each other. They can always find each other, and know if the other is safe, or in danger. If you want ... I can do that. Create a link between ... us."

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"You're safe in the house. I have protections placed on it that let me know instantly if anyone channels at the house, or if anyone other than you, Tai, or Aria comes in or out. I'd be here within seconds." Michelle gave him a half smile, glad to at least know that the house was safe... but did that mean she would never leave again? Would she spent her life looking out the window and forever scared to take a step outside without Arath up in arms?

 

"There ... is another thing I could do, though I don't know if it's a good idea ... especially right now. Do you know anything of bonding?"

 

She looked at him with an odd look, wondering what bonding had to do with keeping her safe. "Like ... a sibling bond? Or what?"

 

"No ... I mean ... Like the link between an Aes Sedai and her Warder." What in the light was he talking about? Of course Aes Sedai had a.... well he could call them a warder if he wanted, a man that protected the woman, but what did it have to do with bonding? They would have to bond over the campfire eventually if they traveled together! "It's a thing of the Power. A link between two people so that they can ... feel each other. They can always find each other, and know if the other is safe, or in danger. If you want ... I can do that. Create a link between ... us."

 

Michelle tightened her grip on his hand for a second, and felt herself go white. Dropping his hand, she sat up and stared at him in shock. "You would... you would use the One Power on me? After... what's happened?" She wasn't going to think about him... she wasn't going to think about the man... the image of his dead body on the ground brought an involuntary tear to her eye, and she looked away from him, trying to hide it.

 

"No." she said quietly. "NO!" she yelled at him, repeating herself. "You will never use the One Power against me Arath Faringal. Now get out!" she yelled, and buried her face into the pillow on his bed. It smelled like him, which made her cry even harder, and she prayed he would just leave her alone. How could he ever even suggest to use the One Power on her?

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He knew he should have put that discussion off until later. Now she was on the brink of hysterics again, and this time it WAS his fault. Bloody fool ... You knew this was a bad idea.

 

About to admit defeat, Arath arose from his seat and took a step toward the door. Then he paused, an idea forming suddenly. It might not be any better than his last one, but at least it didn't involve channeling at Michelle. Siezing Saidin, he wove the complex pattern of spirit to open a gateway. Working very carefully, he placed the final threads, and a small window opened up in the air in front of him, leading down into his basement workshop. Satisfied with the gateway placement, Arath reached through the small hole in the air and opened a box on his workbench, pulling out a small velvet pouch. Feeling the contents inside, he withdrew his arm and let the gateway collapse.

 

Loosening the pouches drawstrings, he dumped the pair of white gold rings onto his palm, shifting them around with his thumb. This was the last thing he had to offer as far as security went. Not quite as good as actually bonding, but it was the next best thing. And in Michelle's eyes, it would probably be the better option. Maybe.

 

Slipping one of the rings onto his own finger, Arath took his seat again and reached out for Michelle's hand. She resisted at first, mumbling something into his pillow, but eventually she relented.

 

"I'm sorry I brought it up. I'd never do anything without your permission though. I have another option for you though. You don't have to accept it, but at least this way there isn't any channeling." It still involved the One Power indirectly, as all ter'angreal did, but he wisely kept that point silent.

 

Pressing the other ring into her hand, he closed her fingers around it. "This will have some of the same effects. Not quite as effective, but it would be your choice. You could take it off whenever you wished ... or you can just ignore it entirely. It's up to you." Hopefully she wouldn't throw the ring out the window or anything like that. That would be more than a little frustrating.

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Michelle felt Arath leaving the room, and she relaxed, glad to finally have peace. She just wanted to sleep for days, and cry until everything was better... if it ever got better. But Arath didn't leave the room, and she felt him grab her hand. She pulled against him, telling him to leave her alone, but he grabbed it anyways and forced a cool piece of metal into her hand. It felt like a ring. She looked up and saw that it was indeed a ring, that looked almost white. Why was he giving her a ring? Oh Light, was he proposing?!

 

"I'm sorry I brought it up. I'd never do anything without your permission though. I have another option for you though. You don't have to accept it, but at least this way there isn't any channeling." Oh Gods, what was going on. Why was she holding a ring? Why was he wearing a ring just like the one in her hand. She jerked her hand away, still holding the ring, but didn't slide it onto her finger.

 

"This will have some of the same effects. Not quite as effective, but it would be your choice. You could take it off whenever you wished ... or you can just ignore it entirely. It's up to you." Michelle looked down at the ring in her hand for a moment, and closed her grip around it. So he wasn't proposing. Thank the Light... she thought. Why had she assumed that was the purpose of the ring?

 

"Get out," she whispered, and laid back down on the bed, the ring held tightly in her hand. She heard him leave the room, and then began to study the ring. She was scared to death - Arath had said that through the bond, they would feel each other. What did that mean? Was it a trick perhaps? Was this the power at work? There was only one way to find out, and she slid the ring onto her finger.

 

It was insane. Unbelievable. She could tell where he was. It wasn't like a map in her head that pointed at a location, or a tug at her to follow him, but she just... sensed where he was. And she could tell, something was bothering him. She slid the ring off her finger after about 10 seconds. She couldn't handle it right then. She needed sleep. And she fell asleep, the ring held tightly in her grasp.

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Arath was out the front door before he felt the knot of awareness spring up in the back of his mind. A torrent of emotions and feelings raced through it in rapid succession. Surprise, confusion, a hint of excitment ... and through it all an underlying sense of fear and anger. He tried to keep his own emotions calm and stead, so that it wouldn't overwhelm Michelle, but the connection was severed a few seconds later anyway. At least she had been willing to give it a try.

 

Leaving his own ring on, just in case she should change her mind again, Arath set off toward the central Tower. There was a mess in the woods that needed cleaning up.

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