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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Return of Ragnar


Vandar30
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Somewhere in Murandy...

His brown coat was tattered, ripped in more places than were whole. He had wandered far and long in this current absence from the tower, but he had done some good as well. The dreams of her no longer haunted him, and this was good to his mind. He felt the pull, and each day it grew stronger. He was needed at the Tower once more, and he himself needed to be there. He himself had found four men who were capable of channeling and desired it. He sent them each on their way to the Farm with a note to his superiors. He had been one of them once, a Storm Leader, but they had different ideas of what it meant to be a Guardian, an Asha'man. So he went his own way and made use of his skills to protect those who were in need. His sword had tasted the blood of Bandits and raiders as he helped defend farmers and villages from their depredations. But now it was time to go back and help prepare the next wave of Saidin powered guardians who might just help break the world again...

Ragnar stood, reigns of his horse held loosely in his hand. In his mind he built the flame, the all consuming fire that had killed his uncle and burned the farm, but here it consumed his anger, fear, hate, doubt and other emotions that would only distract him from the fight. Once it was gone the flame left nothing, a Void in which he floated alone. Alone except for the sickly yellow light that was Saidin. Reaching out in his mind he grasped hold of that awful and glorious power and forged it to his will. It turned his stomach and lifted his spirits, he could see so clearly, but felt as if he was rotting away from the inside. He then began spinning out strands of Spirit, boring a hole in the fabric of the pattern between where he stood and his destination...Home.

The Gateway sprang in to being, appearing to form a line and roate open into a circle in the space before him. He stepped through, leading his horse. Once through Ragnar released the Gate and then Saidin as well. He was in the travelling yard and knew that he had better change his coat. Stepping to his horse he opened the saddlebags and pulled out the Black Coat, a sword gleaming silver on one collar, the Red Enameled Dragon on the other. He changed coats and then made his way to the stables to put away his horse. Looking around, he could see much had changed.

 

 

 

 

Ragnar

Asha'man

Aligner of the Matrix

Maker of weapons

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  • 2 weeks later...

Arath took his time as he walked the training ground, observing the progress of the Soldiers and Dedicated that he had been training only a few weeks before. Odd as it seemed, he kind of missed it. Dealing with foolhardy Soldiers, and Dedicated who should have known better than to make some of their stupid mistakes ... it was far less stressful than dealing with Aes Sedai. He'd been spending more and more of his time in Tar Valon, so this chance to be ... home ... was a welcome break.

 

Making his way past the western side of the training grounds, close to the stables, Arath noticed a familiar looking man leading a horse into the newly rebuilt structure. Curiosity getting the better of him, the Storm Leader closed in on the stables, reaching them just as the Asha'man emerged. It took a moment, but Arath recognized the newly returned member of the Black Tower.

 

"Ragnar ... this is certainly a surprise. Though in light of recent events, I can't really say why." Ragnar had been a Storm Leader once, back when Arath had still been in training. It seemed as though the pattern was drawing everyone together again. It made Arath ... apprehensive.

 

"How have you been? WHERE have you been?"

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Getting his horse settled into the stables was a quite simple matter. As he walked into the stables he grabbed a bucket and filled it with snow. Placing his horse in the stall, Ragnar set the bucket by the stone hearth for the snow to melt itself. By the time he had removed the saddle and packs, the snow had melted. Placing the bucket in the stall with his horse, he went to retrieve another bucket, this one filled with grain. That done, he told the Soldier on duty to brush out his horse. Then gathering up his packs he began making his way out when he almost ran into a Storm Leader. A familiar looking Storm Leader.

"Ragnar ... this is certainly a surprise. Though in light of recent events, I can't really say why." Searching the farthest depths of his mind, he searched for a name that would fit."How have you been? WHERE have you been?". Arath, Arath Faringal. That was his name.

"Arath? Have I really been gone so long that you made Storm Leader? I hope it rests more lightly on you than it did on me." Ragnar replied. He had not liked being "In Command". He would lead men in battle, but he could not set policy for an army of men who would eventually go mad. "As to how I have been, I feel like I have been wandering the back end of Shayol Ghul itself even though I only went as far as Murandy. But I felt like I was making a difference in real peoples lives. I assume you got the men I sent this way for you?" he asked. "By the way, do I still have quarters here, or do I need to find another place to stay?"

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Arath nodded. "We did get them. And most are still with us, thank the Creator. As for your quarters, they're probably just as you left them. Skechid returned not long ago and found his place untouched. Seems the men get a little worried about moving into a former Storm Leaders place." He shrugged. Considering everything else the men went through, a little paranoid superstition wasn't that bad.

 

"Things have changed a lot since you've been gone," the Storm Leader said, starting off toward the Asha'man barracks area. "Some good, some bad." He paused for a moment, then added, "More bad than good probably. Between the Aes Sedai, the Dragon, the Dreadlords in the Borderlands ... it's a bloody mess."

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"When I left, the Aes Sedai had just concluded negotiating with the Tower, and the M'Hael was preparing for us to go to Tear and there are DREADLORDS in the Borderlands?" This was a lot to process, but the first question was as simple as a one as any warrior might ask. "What are we doing about the Dreadlords? Just one man or woman who can channel can decimate a legion of borderland troops. They will need our help."

Ragnar hoped that things here had changed enough so that maybe this time, the fight could be taken to the enemy before the damage got out of hand. "And where is Dalinarius? I guess he'll want my report and to tear a few strips from my hide for being gone so long."

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Arath walked silently alongside Ragnar for a while, not sure where to begin. Had he really been gone so long?

 

"Dalinarius is dead. There was a rather large incident with the Aes Sedai a few months ago, and in the aftermath Storm Leader Brent Enios pulled off a coup. Dalinar was killed before anyone had really figured out what was going on. Brent became the M'Hael, but didn't last for long. Covai and I killed him just a few weeks ago, after he went mad and attacked us."

 

Knowing he had just raised for more questions than he had answered, Arath shook his head. "It's a very long story ... several of them really. What's important to know right now is that there is no longer a M'Hael at the Farm. Seven Storm Leaders form a council which answers directly to the Lord Dragon. We divide up the responsibilities that the M'Hael once had and keep things running. The Attack Leaders take care of the day to day affairs underneath us.

 

"As for the Borderlands ... I'm in charge of taking care of that mess. That's an even longer story though, and I'd rather not tell it out here in the cold." Easy as it was to ignore the elements, there were still there. A smart man would get out of it as soon as he could, regardless of whether it bothered him or not. "Since there's no M'Hael," Arath continued, "you can give your report to me. After that, I'll brief you in full on what's been happening here. Drop your things off, get something to eat, and meet me at my office in half an hour. Any of the soldiers can show you where it is."

 

OOC: Anyone else who might want to jump in, now's your chance. Even to simply escort an ex-Storm Leader around.

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Ragnar's mind was in turmoil. Dalinarius, one of the men who had trained him in the One Power, who had guided him through the changes from man to guardian, a man with a purpose greater than himself had died. And from a coup. But the Tower went on, and so must he. Grieving would have to wait. Opening the door to his quarters, he noted that they were in the same exact shape he had left them in, scattered from the quick packing, but other than that in rather good order.

Going to his wardrobe, he dropped his packs off and pulled out some fresh clothing. He transferred his pins to a fresh black coat. The temperature didn't bother him, he hardly noticed it after having lived in rough made camps most nights and travelling constantly. The cold meant less to him now than a prick on the finger. Looking in the dusty mirror on his wall, Ragnar ran his fingers through his hair and once more tied it back. He then turned and walked out the door, closing it behind him.

Food would be easy to find, he just followed the smells. Quickly he found the communal kitchen and ate a bowl of porridge and some roast pig. After finishing his food, Ragnar looked around and grabbed at the first person to walk past him. Anyone could show him where to go Arath had said.

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Baran walked the paths of the Black Tower without any real destination in mind. He needed time to gather his thoughts. Two of the five Soldiers he had been instructing in the use of Saidin had gone mad. Two! They had only been in the Tower for a few weeks. Baran had heard tales of men going mad without becoming violent, but he had yet to see such a thing. He didn't enjoy killing, despite what rumors there were of him still floating about the Tower's Grounds. Faerin Borlal, and Charad al'Moran. He would have to report to one of the Asha'man about this no doubt, if not one of the Storm Leaders. Whatever they decided, he would no doubt deserve it. Those men had been his responsibility.

 

Maybe something to eat would make his stomach stop roiling. If it didn't, well, there were plenty of men sicking up daily in the Black Tower. Some never got used to the Taint.

 

Suddenly there was a hand at his arm, grasping it firmly in an obvious attempt to stop him. Baran turned a somewhat frosty glare on whatever Soldier thought he could stop a Dedicated, even if the Dedicated didn't seem to be doing much beside wandering. Then he saw the Dragon pin on the other man's uniform. His demeanor changed instantly, the glare altered slighty, melting into an attentive stare. His back straightened, and his fist pounded to his chest almost reflexively in salute.

 

"Asha'man, how may I serve?"

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Kelitor gave his dishes and cutlery to the humming goodwife and her two daughters who were manning the Farm's scullery after completing his meal. He turned away, bells in his Arafellin braids jingling as he moved away, and the sound of the twin giggling to the hushed, sharp scolding of their mother brought a grin to his face and lent a jaunty spring to his step.

 

He was so absorbed in this that he was slightly startled when another man swung into his path. But while he might be startled, his time at the Farm had instilled a reflexive response to the sight of the sword and Dragon pins on a collar. "Asha'man?" Fist to chest, and no slouching. It wasn't a man he recognized, but then again, there were many Asha'man out roaming the world, but when the Asha'man ordered him to show him to Arath's office, he ruthlessly squashed his curiosity. The last time he'd let that get the better of him, he'd gotten a week of mucking out the stables. He led the Asha'man off from the dining area with a brisk step, wondering just what was going on in the outside world that would keep an Asha'man out for so long; he himself didn't get much news. Like most Soldiers, all he knew was that the world was in turmoil with the coming of Tarmon Gai'don and the coming of the Lord Dragon. He hoped the Asha'man came with good news for Arath rather than bad.

 

Finally arriving outside the door to Arath's office, he turned back to the Asha'man and saluted again, "Here you are, sir. Storm Leader should be inside."

 

Kelitor Varashan,

Soldier.

 

((OOC: Looks like we have a double post. Oops)

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OOC: Wow, I get 2 guides for the price of one. Let's see how I can make this play.

 

"Asha'man, how may I serve?" The young man asked. After looking again, Ragnar noticed that the Dedicated had just come into the mess hall, and was not actually leaving it.

"My apologies Dedicated, but I need a guide to Storm Leader Arath's office, can you point out a suitable guide and I will let you go to your meal?" He had eaten seldom enough while he was away, he would not begrudge another his meal.

"Dedicated Baran, Asha'man." the man said, looking around until he saw a Soldier walking away from the scullery. "There Asha'man, looks like Soldier Kelitor just finished, and he knows the way.

"Thank you, Baran." Ragnar said and made his way over to the Soldier the Dedicated pointed out.

Stepping quickly in front of him Ragnar noted the surprise in his eyes, but saw that he quickly snapped to, the bells in his hair jingling. "Asha'man?"

"I need a guide to Storm Leader Arath's office, and as it seems you have finished your meal, I would ask this of you." Orders were for the battlefield, not a gathering place. Ragnar had always felt that way, and this wouldn't change just because he was back here. He knew he would lead some of these men to their deaths, and would be forced to grant the last mercy to others, but he could still treat them as human, for now.

The Soldier turned and led the the way. Once they arrived, Ragnar knew he would be able to find it again. "Here you are, sir. Storm Leader should be inside."

"Thank you Soldier Kelitor." Ragnar said and turned to knock on the door.

 

OOC: Back to you Arath

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OOC: Well that was a lot less involved than I thought it would be :rolleyes:

 

About half an hour later, as Arath was finalizing his latest report to the rest of the Guardian Council, he heard a tap on his door. "Enter," he called, not taking his eyes or pen from the paper. He would finish this thing if it killed him. And it might just come to that. His assignment in Tar Valon was one headache after another.

 

Tossing his pen aside as he scratched in the last words, Arath shook his head and sighed. "I can't bloody stand this stuff. I spend more time writing about leadership than actually leading anything anymore. I'm more afraid of the next report than I am of the taint these days." Motioning to the chair on the opposite side of the desk, Arath leaned back in his own seat and locked his gaze on Ragnar. "So tell me then, what have you been up to since you left? You said you only wandered as far as Murandy, but I can think of an awful lot of trouble someone can like us can get into between here and there."

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As Ragnar came into the office, he noticed Arath was writing away at some kind of report or another. "I can't bloody stand this stuff. I spend more time writing about leadership than actually leading anything anymore. I'm more afraid of the next report than I am of the taint these days." Arath said, motioning him to the seat across the desk from him. Ragnar remembered Dali sitting across a desk much like this from him, and saying much the same. Ragnar hated reports, all they did was take up time that could better be spent for no visible gain. "So tell me then, what have you been up to since you left? You said you only wandered as far as Murandy, but I can think of an awful lot of trouble someone can like us can get into between here and there."

"I wouldn't say that I got into trouble, but I did straighten my fair share of it out. I did my best to show more steel than fire, but there are now some who would welcome those like us as Guardians among them. And there are quite a few less bandits roaming in the area between here and Murandy. But I have to say, there are far more problems going on out there than I would have thought. Look, Dali and I went head to head over this before, and I have no idea if policy has changed, but we can do a lot more good out there than we are sitting safe here. The world needs us to BE Asha'man in deed, not just name." Ragnar said. "And by the way, as a Storm Leader, I found those reports to be a waste of paper and about as useless as a Tinker in a sword fight. So now that I've said my peace, what needs to be done around here. I can still bend the metal like no other I've met and I've learned a few new things with the blade and Saidin, so put me to work while I'm here."

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"Of course," Arath said, nodding in agreement. "You'll be returning to regular duties as soon as possible. The number of new Soldiers is always increasing, and we're hard pressed to find enough men to train them. There are nearly a thousand of us now, but too many are not trained well enough to fight off a Tinker, let alone anything more dangerous. And come to think of it, I'd be interested in learning a little about your particular talent. I've run into a few problems with some of my work that you might be able to asist me with."

 

Giving his report one last disgusted glance, he continued. "But that will have to wait for a bit I'm afraid. Time to catch you up on recent events.

 

"I told you that Dalinar is dead, killed by Brent Enios. Well, Brent's coup was triggered by an incident with the White Tower. Thirteen of their sisters, and a number of warders, travelled to the woods outside the Farm, right on top of a guard patrol. Within moments, it escalated into a full scale battle. Several soldiers and dedicated were killed, along with a few of the Aes Sedai. The rest, we captured, by forcibly bonding them. A couple of days later, Brent staged his coup, saying that Dali was too lenient on the Aes Sedai."

 

"A month or so later, another Aes Sedai arrived and negotiated the release of the captives, in exchange for the White Tower formally recognizing us. Brent caved too easily, but we followed his orders and released all of them. Things slid downhill from there with Brent. He grew more irritable and unpredictable. Then ... Shienar.

 

"A recruiting party in the southern parts of the borderlands came back early and told us that Shienar was being overrun. We gathered up 400 men and Traveled to Fal Moran. A couple of hours later, a little less than 300 of us came back. Dreadlord circles controlled the entire region, and we couldn't stand up to them. We found out the next day that Arafel had been overrun as well. Brent's final mistake it turned out.

 

"A couple days after the battle, Covai and I reported our failure to the Lord Dragon. He ordered us to make peace with the White Tower so we could stand together against the Shadow. When we attempted to go to Tar Valon, Brent and his closest supporters attacked us." Arath did not like to think of that fight. It had been a close thing. "Once we recovered from that, we went to speak with the Amyrlin, and the Red Ajah, and negotiate an alliance. Surprisingly, they agreed. To make a long story short, we're now allies with the Red Ajah ... bonding each other as warders." Arath shrugged, as though it was simply an oddity. "I bonded the head of their Ajah as my warder, in front of the Amyrlin and a number of Sitters."

 

He paused for a moment, trying to think of anything he might have missed. He was pretty sure he'd at least touched on all the important parts. "So ... anything you'd like me to elaborate on?"

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"Wait, did you say that you bonded a RED Sister as a Warder? In Tar Valon? How did this happen? Did the Dragon have something to do with this. That man seems to turn the world on it's head. As far as my Talent, we can meet tonight. I haven't stretched my muscles in far too long, but it will be easier to do this at night when it is quiet. I'll also need a Soldier or Dedicated to work with me. I've had a few ideas about the process since I left and I may finally get a weapon that will hold it's edge without me having to maintain a weave in the weapon to do it." Ragnar said. He really did look forward to trying his crafting once again, it had been far too long.

 

OOC I'll start a separate post later today for this. Go ahead and respond now if you wish though and let me know if there are any rules I need to know about for Aligning the Matrix that have changed since I left. Dali had me do the part about not actually making a power wrought weapon yet.

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Skechid's eyes were closed as he took a deep breath. The note in his hands were crumpled, but his thoughts were clear as crystal. Ragnar. Back from whereever he had been. Doing whatever he had been doing. Burn that man. Skechid had no patience for memories. And when they returned in the flesh, he often wondered- No, best not to think about it. As it stood, it was difficult enough forgetting the memories of the past. Those who had been his close friends. Many who died a good death. Others had simply disappeared, people Skechid thought were dead.

 

And now Ragnar.

 

Skechid seized Saidin and burnt the note into ash and let it float away. He would seek out his friend later. There was too much to do now.

 

For one, it was time to eat.

 

(OOC: Just to say I'm here. Barely. But yeah, let's do something.))

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