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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
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James

Crimson, Act III - Kings, Fools and Wenches

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Looking upon his band of brigands, Aran was rather proud of the job they'd managed to achieve. They'd managed to chip away most of the sheen and polish the people had. That had been a particular achievement with the Aes Sedai, of which Aran was thoroughly pleased with himself. Oh, other people had done the majority of the work, but he'd overseen it all and was quite happy to take the credit for it. After all, he was the source of all good things.

 

"Well my little troop, we've traveled far enough and, being about half a mile away from the camp as we are, I wanted to say a couple of words. You all look terrible, so you've done quite a good job. Remember that when we get there, you don't let anyone push you around. Don't wander off by your own either, and in particular, don't even touch the one power."

 

Grinning, Aran continued. "Of course, there is one final thing that hasn't been done, we have yet to pick my wench for the next few days. After careful consideration, deliberation and divination, I've decided on..." Aran pointed to Muirenn. "...My little cherry over there. Now that thats done, we can continue. And remember, don't let anyone push you around."

 

It was late morning by the time they reached the camp. As far as such camps went, it was actually rather organised. People clearly sat with their own groups though, and looking as they were they weren't bothered as they walked in. A bottle in hand, since they'd started walking, Aran had steadily worked his way through the better half of it. Not even tipsy, that wasn't how he was acting. Pointing with the bottle, he started giving orders beginning with Rosheen.

 

"You! I want a camp set up, see to it woman. The rest of you go with her except... You, you and you. No need to look at me like that, you can come along too, but find another one of these bottles and bring it along." Having pointed out Daemon, Cairma and Muirenn, the last was Maegan who for all intents and purposes was his little sister for their little deceit. Slipping an arm around Muirenn's waist and letting his hand hang low, Aran led their little troop in search of their quarry.

 

It didn't take them long to find the rather large tent that their Bandit King called home. The guards looked none pleased at their approach either. "Get lost."

 

"I'm here to see him, my band have decided to join up."

 

"Congratulations, he's in a meeting, go away."

 

Letting his arm fall from Muirenn, Aran took a couple of steps forward with a winning smile. "Get out of my way, now."

 

"I'm not going to te-"

 

The man sank to his knees with his hands buried in his crotch, and as the other one scrabbled for his sword Aran punched the man in the throat. Smiling brightly as he turned to his fellows, Aran took the bottle Maegan was holding with a grin. "Come along."

 

Stepping inside the tent quickly, Aran watched as a table of five men turned and looked at him. "Which one of you is the king?"

 

"That'd be me, who are you?"

 

"Catch."

 

Tossing the unopened bottle to the man who spoke, the man caught it easily enough as Aran continued. "Your guards are really rude, they wouldn't let me in even though I came bearing gifts." Taking a spare seat at the table, Aran threw his feet up as he grinned.

 

"My name's Arry, and these people are some of my band, the rest of which are making camp outside. I was wondering, how much money am I going to get if I fight for you?" Looking over at Muirenn, Aran crooked a finger at her. "Over here my cherry."

 

 

Aran

Tower Guard

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Lachlan--The Bandit King--regretted his question the moment it left his lips; he was too stunned by the audacity of the man to reply with anything more profound, with anything befitting a “King.†The expressions on the faces of his “advisors†hid the embarrassment of his mistep. Every person sitting at the table--with the exception of the intrusive guest--was just as stunned as every other.

 

“I was wondering, how much money am I going to get if I fight for you?"

 

The question was directed at Lachlan, who was indeed dressed impressively, as a king should. His back was erect, he even held his utensils polishly and his ale with a delicate hand. Even so, the accounts of “his†crusade well under the jurisdiction of one of his many advisors . . . he could give no answer. The minister in question, however, had gone a light shade of pink. Lachlan knew from experience that a fervent andapparently sycophantic speech was about to take place.

 

“Money? Money! What is coin when compared to the unification, nay, freedom of this country! What is the currency of gold and silver, placed beside the adoration and respect of a mighty king. What is . . . “

 

Lachlan snorted at the mention of his “title.†He had heard this speech before, it was well rehearsed. In truth he was little more than a figure-head. He was a name to fill children with hope. A channelling rebel preparing for revoultion? Pah. He merely did what he was told and spoke when he was told. Sometimes he fancied himself fluttering in the wind like any other banner.

 

Lachlan made an apologetic expression toward “Arry†as the metallic ring of iron signalled the coming of the guard. Hopefully this did not take too long, he had a life to live . . . right after he started and won a war.

 

Aran's laugh was rather scornful at the man who'd just spoken. "Causes come and go, coin is constant. Like I asked before." Aran pointedly looked away at the minister and towards their little bandit king. "What will you pay me?"

 

Lachlan’s eyebrows rose in surprise, as did the minister’s blood pressure. The minister pointed a figure at Aran and screamed: “guards, guards arrest that--!â€

“Wait.†Lachlan was as surprised as everyone else that he had spoken. His softly voiced command halted the approach of the guards.

 

His advisor’s looked at him as though he had grown horns, but they could not contradict him in public. He was, after all, their appointed ruler. His stomach churned and he felt a flush beginning to rise as he became the object of so many eyes.

 

Trying to keep a quiver out of his voice he

spoke directly to Aran: “Sir. We are a humble movement, built upon the backs of the common man (at least, he thought this was true). My own clothing, save this gift of tiding, would mark me indifferent from those who nuumber themselves among my faithful. (The lie rolled so easily off his tongue; it was too late to stop now) I can offer you little more than a fair wage, and a percentage of any plunder.†Lachlan’s lips twisted in distate upon speaking the last word. He admired the man’s bluntness, and while he was present, no one would dare countermand his wishes.

 

Looking at the man who'd tried to order him arrested, he grinned at the man before taking a swig of his drink. It seemed there was something going on, maybe something that could be used. Looking at the king, he spoke. "Sounds good, though if some of the men we saw as we came in are anything to go by, we'll require a reasonable amount of the plunder. Quality doesn't come cheap." Lachlan frowned. Something was expected of him, only he was not sure what. His advisors and ministers stared at him intently. The appointed minster of funds attempted to speak up: “Sire, if I may be so bold a--â€

 

“You may not.†Lachlan’s stern features broke into a wide smile. The look on their faces! There was anger, there was horror, and was that . . . fear? If it is worth doing once, he decided, it is worth doing more. With an arch gesture, Lachlan commanded his advisors to leave the tent. It took several heartbeats for them to respond. First they looked questioningly at one another, then, one by one, they rose and left. Lachlan, atthis point, was positively ecstatic. “That’s better. Where were we? Food? Wine? I offer one fifth of our plunder, but no more."

 

Aran pointed to the bottle the man was still holding. "Wine. And we'll take a fifth, for now." This one wasn't the leader, he might be the channeler but he certainly wasn't the leader. Offer a full fifth? For an unknown amount of soldiers? The others must be the decision makers, yet this King had seen fit to dismiss them... Opportunity. "For that, we'll fight in a battle. But, you now... Sometimes battles aren't always fought on a field. That boy of yours was a bit uppity earlier."

 

Lachlan cleared his throat a little too loudly: “Some servants forget their place. I will speak with him in private . . . later.†Lachlan had no intention whatsoever of lecturing Byron--for that was his name--if anything, Lachlan himself would be dragged over the coals multiple times for this evenings conduct, but for the time being he was enjoying himself.

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Guest Arie Ronshor

She moved perfectly into her role as the Rogues sister, her rats nest of hair trailing around her as if never combed, and her clothes barely showing her lighted 'station' within the camp. She had no freedom, but it was clear she was untouchable. She dragged her feet and held a simple stick to help keep her balance, and give the deception that she was weaker, or possibly the weakness of said king. Bloody shame she couldn't see either. She left her specticles in a shielded spot in the woods yards away from the last place they made camp.

 

They moved throught he camp, and she could feel the tension and the voices around her as clear as day. Moreover, it was obvious that they were not welcome and that thier eminent death would be brought about if they took one misstep. Of course this was a given well before they had stepped foot in the camp.

 

But with trained ears she listened to the ongoings of the council, and came to similar conclusions as Aran. Thier 'Leader' was not the Channeler they were after. What caused her to frown was that not even the whispers gave away a name. Lachlan was a pawn, possibly not a long lived one after his discussion with " 'Arry".

 

Keeping her eyes to the gound, and her ears twicting, her face did not give away her thoughts, and her eyes, as always, showed no emotion beyond a blank stare.

 

 

 

Maegan Ryanne

Red

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Aran was disappointed that the 'king' hadn't picked up on his offer, but that was something that could always be salvaged later if the opportunity presented itself. Maybe he would have to leave it for a time, if he wasn't the power then he'd be pulled into line and perhaps harshly enough that he'd like an alternative. "That is good to know, here help yourself to as much as you want." Aran pointed to the bottle he'd handed over earlier. "You going to have that?"

 

Lachlan took up the bottle and helped himself to a long draught, almost succeeding in not spluttering. The more he drank, the more courage he found himself possessing; the more courage he found himself possessing, the more he drank. In this way the would-be king found his extremities buzzing and his speech slightly slurred. It was then that he realised he knew nothing of this strange man, nor his “army.â€

 

"Who are you? How did you get here . . . and . . . uhhh . . . what can you and your men bring to my little..." Now what was the word Byron always used. "...cabal?" Lachlan gave a quick self-satisfied smile and considered himself to be sounding very convincing and fooling everyone.

 

Aran was not only surprised but trying not to laugh. The king was polishing off the wine at a rather quick rate, and it was quickly becoming apparent he didn't have a tolerance for it. Chuckling in a friendly manner, Aran took a swig from his own bottle before speaking. "We walked. We've got pointy swords, and we're quite proficient at stabbing people. Thats why you're paying us, remember?"

 

Lachlan gave a start at the candid speech but then nodded slowly. He had sort of hoped Byron and his other men would simply negotiate their way into rule, and then he, the slightly inebriated Lachlan could sit and play leader for several hours a day and spend the rest of his time doing something more entertaining. It was naïve to think no blood would have to be spilled . . .

 

He could probably alleviate that need by using his particular gift, but no one really expected, nor wanted that from him. It was entirely symbolic. Lachlan secretly wondered why they didn’t just get some willing pauper who would pretend. Then there were the Aes Sedai. It was strange to be brought up on heroic tales, and then suddenly being forced to fear . . . not like he had a choice in the matter. He didn’t beseech the Creator or anything. “Do you think it will be that difficult then . . . that many people will, you know, need stabbing?â€

 

Aran grinned. "Of course, with what you're doing there are always people that need a inch of steel or two to settle them down. On and off the battlefield." That was the second time he dropped a hint, only this time he hoped that the alcohol made the king more astute. While likely, Aran didn't like his hopes but with the king drunk he didn't need to be altogether subtle. In fact, subtle was probably a bad idea.

 

It took Lachlan a few moments to let the seemingly innocent comment sink in. A thrill raced through him at the thought of freedom from the machinations and devices of Byron and his men . . . he owed the “adviser†much, but could not bear the thought of sacrificing his future for a movement he was in no way part of other than figurehead. It was difficult. Part of him believed in the free nation, his mind polluted by sermon and indoctrination; perhaps if he could gain true control over his own destiny . . .

 

“What do you mean?†He asked quietly, not daring to hope.

 

Smiling, Aran leaned forward in his chair as he spoke. "Well, I'd say that that man of yours is a bit uppity no? Sometimes people need reminders of where their loyalties should lay. I haven't been here long but he seems to have a bit of a mouth that just runs away on him. Maybe he needs a good slap across the chops, its just a thought."

 

 

OOC: To be continued, dun dun DUN!

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Lachlan found himself laughing for no reason at all. It was rather strange behaviour, he decided, but the wine was “awfully†good. Even though his mind was dulled, Lachlan began scheming and plotting of grand scenarios where he denounced his council and took up the mantle of leadership himself. He was more than capable of dispensing with Byron, truth be known, he could after all, do a few nasty things with the one power . . . but even he had to sleep some time and that wasn't a thrilling prospect.

 

“If it were merely a matter of a slap across the chops,†giggle. “I would be more than capable of doing it myself.†He lowered his voice, “I am a puppet you know, or at least that is what's intended. I will sit and mouth orders while 'they' pull the strings. Freedom is a worthy cause; I don't want to lead, but I cannot let 'them' take the power for themselves. Their motives are for the good of no one but themselves. It is better to die fighting than spend my life as a mouth piece. If I could truly use my power . . . I would defeat them all.â€

 

There it was, so plaintive as well as so... sad. Aran felt sorry for the man who sat before him, but also felt a certain sense of... He couldn't quite put his finger on it. Not quite pride, though the genuine desire of Lachlan's to rather stand on his own two feet than be a mouth piece created something akin to that. He'd have to work it out later, because for now an opportunity had presented itself. "There is a way to fix it you know. If you fear them striking you down, strike them down first. A blade can just as easily accomplish the feat of your powers if there are enough of them."

 

“Fear them striking me down? No. I am not worried about that. I am a tool, if I break my own head I become a useless tool, and they will find it hard to replace me with someone possessing the same . . . abilities. It's those who actually believe in our cause that I fear for, what will happen to them when the revolution takes place. Just how many blades are we talking?â€

 

"Oh, one for each of your ministers I think would do it, don't you?" Aran grinned at Lachlan. "At least, it should only take one blade each, if their followers have no one to give them orders then they're going to need someone to do so. That person will end up being you, better you than them no?"

 

Lachlan grimaced. He did not wish anyone to be harmed, let alone murdered. Obviously Byron and his entourage would not give up their power easily, maybe not even at the point of a sword . . . but if there were a way to resolve the conflict without violence he would prefer it to at least be attempted. “Would it not be possible to . . . force their resignation rather than . . . terminate it for them?â€

 

Aran raised an eyebrow, this one was so innocent, that was what it was. His naivety, the idea that everything could be solved without violence. That it could be done without harming a soul, and so help him Aran thought it might be. Or rather, Lachlan made him wonder if it could be, even though he knew it couldn't. "It would be possible, but only for awhile. They will come back if you get rid of them, or maybe find someone else to use if you don't suit them. If you kill them swiftly, you save others from being killed as well. If you wait, then it'll be between them and their followers, and us." He made certain to add that, Lachlan needed to think of them as with him, loyal to him alone. Every chance that could be used to remind him of that was useful

 

Lachlan visibly shrunk at those words. In his dismay he was silent for some time. He knew the needs of the many outweighed the need of the few, but the feeling of guilt in the pit of his stomach would not be so easily swayed. What would he do but accept their deaths as necessary? Nothing would absolve the guilt . . . but at least others would not suffer for his mistake. “If . . . if it has to be done . . . “ He could not keep his voice level, and his arm trembled as he took an overly long draught of wine.

 

Nodding, Aran was surprised by what he saw, because it was something he hadn't seen for a long time. Not in a man anyway, he was surrounded by guards who were so quick to embrace violence, he was himself in fact, it was odd seeing a man who didn't. Thats what it was, the difference certainly made him pay more attention than he otherwise would have. "Its the right decision, we have them in a meeting and then we finish them in one sweep. There will be no opposition to you after that, no one to dictate to you and you can handle things as they should be, rather than being the mouthpiece to things you don't feel are right."

 

Lachlan looked pensive for a moment, then noted mutely. He felt sick, and it was not the wine. He rose unsteadily from his table and looked across at Aran a curious mixture of shame and frustration on his face, “If we were over heard at all . . . .â€

 

Shaking his head, Aran made a decision that would be dangerous but it would work nevertheless. Even if it did alert the other ministers, better to keep this one under guard than to risk losing him and the protection the man provided. "Stay with us the night if you don't trust your guards, which you probably shouldn't. We get no coin without you, so you'll be safe with us. We will have to go now though, visibly so that the others all know what is happening and can't do a thing about it with all of your other followers witnessing it."

 

Lachlan's face relaxed into an appreciative smile. “I have no problems with that, but you will have to lead the way.†Doing his best imitation of a proud – if wobbly – monarch, waited for Aran to stand before marching smartly to the door. The potential risks did enter his mind, but the swirling bubbles of wine chased them off too quickly for the thoughts to register.

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