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A Day in the Life of a Menagerie Member


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The night sky cloaked Murandy in near darkness, the barest trace of light stemming from twinkling stars. People had long since retired to their homes or rooms, snuffing out candles and lanterns as they did so. The night was quiet and peaceful, as if the darkness had squeezed all busy sounds out of the air and replaced them with that of an owl hooting, or a deer trampling through underbrush. The trees, black looming giants, remained still. It appeared even the wind had elected to slumber.


The creek of wooden wheels on a hard packed dirt road began to invade the still night when the moon was normally at its zenith, growing louder as a stream of wagons made their way along. Light soon spilled across the dark landscape, casting strange shadows. The lead drivers had a glass lantern on each side of them, the flames flickering brightly; several cabins still had lanterns burning – golden light leaking out into the night. The menagerie members were still high on the enthusiasm of Andoran patrons, as were their coffers. It was difficult to turn in early when the rush of adrenaline was pumping through one’s veins.


Tensleigh’s cabin was one such that was dark, though she was not asleep. Despite the lull of the wagon swaying gently back and forth, she found herself staring at the ceiling – dozens of thoughts running through her head. The roar of the crowd, the dazzling costumes, the soft fur of her lions, it never got old. She lived for performing and it seemed to suit her well. Moreover, the thought of staying in one place her entire life was a nightmare. She was still in her prime and had already seen most of the world. Only the most elusive places were left to discover – the Sea Folk Isles, the Aiel Waste, and Shara. I wonder how they treat performers there. If the royalty of Shara has a court set up anything like that of Andor or Cairhein.


Several moments later, Tensleigh rolled over and sighed into her pillow. She felt as awake as she had in the ring. Pushing herself up off the bed, she drew on a robe and quietly opened her door, quiet night rolling into her cabin as she glanced around. Victor would be positively apoplectic if he saw her jumping wagons in the middle of the night. He’d already spoken to her about doing it in the daytime. As if it was a difficult feat to manage. She’d been maneuvering in harder situations practically since she was an infant. Balancing lightly on the balls of her feet, she walked quickly across the metal links connecting her cabin to the following wagon and swept up over the side. It was more pleasant up here, the rush of air in her ears as the caravan moved along.


Hips swaying with the movement, Tensleigh moved easily along the wagon tops. Golden curls snapped around her until she untied a ribbon from her wrist and drew them back to the nape of her neck. Not that that would hold her hair for long – it seemed to have a mind of its own most of the time. Viktor often commented on the volume and color of her hair, remarking on how similar it was to the manes of the lions she worked with. Apparently he thought it was a compliment, always smiling at her afterwards with brilliant white teeth. Sadly, despite outwardly groaning, she often thought of it as one. Shaking her head as if to clear it of its thoughts, Tensleigh forced herself to stop thinking about the menagerie owner, and her best friend. The topic of Viktor was always confusing for her and this trip was all about serenity.


Holding the neck of her robe closed with one hand, she deftly moved to the fifth wagon from hers. In the night, the brilliant yellow of the wagon looked like more a light gray. During the day, it was a bright enough to rival a Tinker's wagon. She'd told Viktor as much, back when they were smaller children. When his father had been running the show and their friendship hadn't been awkward. A part of her had figured he would paint over the gaudy colors upon taking over, yet here they still were. Half growling at herself, Tensleigh cleared her mind once more. Laying down on her stomach, she tipped her head over the side and looked in the high windows. A sound just barely discernible over the wind, she could hear the soft growls and heavy breaths that conferred the three lions were asleep. At least someone around here is getting sleep. As they rightly should. In Andor, more than in any other country, the big cats were in high demand. They had even given the Queen herself a private audience, her eyes sparkling at the sight of the large felines. Tensleigh had felt a kindred with her then, flushing with pride over the skill of her animals. Afterward, the Queen had personally thanked her before retreating to another area of her Palace.


Flipped back up on top of the wagon, Tensleigh rolled onto her back and then into a sitting position. Dangling her feet over the sides, she giggled quietly as the wind caressed her bare skin. Despite her love of performance, betimes the extreme quiet was necessary too. Chewing the side of her lip, the lion tamer found herself thinking of Bo for the first time in ages. How the old man could be found in quiet contemplation as often as he was found in the lion cages or in the ring. She wondered how he fared, or if he was even alive. It was not easy to find information on performers in different menageries, the relationships between them being tenuous at best.


Placing her arms behind her, Tensleigh leaned back on them and tilted her head up to the dark sky and twinkling stars. After a moment of staring, she found herself looking for shapes in the amorphous set of stars, a game her father used to play with her when it was late and she couldn't sleep. She found a cup, a soldier, and a fish easily. Lions were harder to find. She'd just begun to connect stars when she heard a noise toward the front of the wagon. Snapping her head to the right, her blue eyes widened in surprise.

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Viktor barely noticed the swaying of the wagon as it rolled along the dark road. He had grown up in the menagerie and had always found something about the way the wooden wheels creaked relaxing. He could not seem to quiet his mind though. It just kept darting from one thing to another.


They had crossed over into Murandy. It had been some time since they had been there last. The people would be eager to see the menagerie again. Silas Remein had always been welcomed back wherever he went with open arms and warm smiles. It would be different this time though. Silas was gone. Viktor still had trouble believing it. The man had always seemed bigger than life. Nothing could ever get him down. Even at the end when the simplest of tasks proved incredibly taxing on his weakening body he never complained. He never gave any indication of the pain he struggled with. Viktor knew him though and he could see the pain that Silas tried to hide away.


Viktor stood up and snatched the gold coin that he had been rolling up and down his knuckles. He tried to force those thoughts of Silas out of his mind. This was not a time to be sad. They had just performed in Andor for the queen herself. They were richer than he could ever remember. That meant that the performers only grumbled half as much. Earlier that day he had walked past six wagons before someone had come to him with a complaint. It had almost been unsettling.


He went over the acts in his mind again. His show was filled with experienced performers who were the best at their jobs. The acrobats had been spectacular in Andor. They had risen to the occasion and had managed to even amaze him. The juggling brothers had also done very well. The knife thrower and his assistant had been entertaining. His drunk act was very convincing. Their strong man had strained a muscle though. He would have to make adjustments to the other acts to cover for him and allow time for him to recover.


Viktor was on top of his wagon before he realized it. He looked up at the stars. He had always enjoyed looking up at the stars and constellations. When he was younger he had looked up at them every night wondering if his parents were looking up at those same stars. He laughed at himself, it had been a long time since he had wondered about them. He scanned the constellations now and saw the lion.


He smiled to himself. The lion always made him think of Tensleigh the Lion Tamer. It had also been how he had first met her. He had been looking up at the stars when a young girl appeared beside him and asked him what he was doing. She was younger than him, maybe only seven or eight but he didn’t mind.


“I am looking up at the stars.” He had said.


“Why?” She had asked.


He hadn’t known how to answer the question. Instead he asked a question of his own. “Did you know there is a fish in the sky?”


She had giggled at him and came and sat down beside him. “Of course. My father has shown me all the constellations.” She looked around and then pointed up at the fish.


“Which other ones do you know?” He had asked. He had not believed that she really knew all of them.


She looked back at the stars with an expression of fixed concentration on her face and brushed her long blonde hair out of her eyes. She had then gone on to point out all of the constellations. When she was done she smiled over at him triumphantly.


“Who are you?” He asked. He knew everyone in the menagerie but had never seen this girl before. She told him her story of how she had just met her father and he had taken her away from her mother.


It was not the most pleasant of topics. It also made Viktor think of his parents which was the last thing he wanted to do. He tried to think of a change in subject.


“What is your favorite act?” He had asked.


“The Lions.” She breathed excitedly.


“You like the lions do you?” He asked and then he remembered a constellation that she had not pointed out. It was barely visible from where they were. It was just along the horizon. “Did you know there is a lion constellation? If we were further south we could see it more clearly.”


“Where?” She asked and he leaned in close and to point it out. From then on they had been friends.


Tensleigh. Viktor smiled at the memory of meeting her. She was now the best lion tamer he had ever seen. He looked behind him at the bright yellow wagon that held the lions. When they were younger they had agreed the color was terrible. He had even said he would paint it if he was in charge, which he had not been at the time. When he asked Silas about it though Silas sat him down and looked at him.


“Son, part of being successful is being what you are expected to be. Part of knowing a menagerie is a menagerie is the bright wagons. It would take half the excitement away from the people if we showed up in plain, old, brown wagons. Even when we are not on stage we are still putting on a show. Don’t ever forget that.”


He ran his fingers though his dark brown hair. It wasn’t really possible to keep it in place bouncing on top of a wagon but it was a habit. He looked over at Tensleigh’s wagon and saw the light was out. He was just about to go back into his own wagon when he saw her door open. She nimbly climbed from wagon to wagon until she reached her lions. She could have been an acrobat he thought. She was not an acrobat though and he had told her that several times. She was not suppose to go about climbing from wagon to wagon, especially in the middle of the night. He couldn’t have her breaking her neck just because she couldn’t remember she was a lion tamer not an acrobat.


A few minutes later he was climbing up the brightly colored wagon. He found Tensleigh laying on her back, he full blonde hair surrounding her face like a mane. Somehow she had always had the appearance of a lion.


“Tensleigh Annika Maer” he began. The rest of his sentence died on his tongue and was immediately forgotten as he laid his eyes on her. She was beautiful. She was stretched out on the wagon her long, firm legs within arms reach. Her look of surprise disappeared when she realized it was him and she sat up. He took a seat next to her.


He realized that he had never finished what he was saying as she stared at him. Those bright blue eyes of hers were dancing in the moonlight. She was not helping him think any more clearly. He was about to tell her not to go climbing from wagon to wagon in the middle of the night but he had just done the exact same thing. How could she take him seriously?


He had to say something though. “Tensleigh, our strong man strained a muscle. I’m going to need you to fill up part of that time with your lions. You have a few extra tricks you can dazzle the people with?”


As he looked at her he was painfully aware of how he must look with his normally perfect hair ruffled. He cheeks felt red from the embarrassing performance he had just put on for her. His eyes wandered up to the sky. He spotted the lion that he had pointed out to her that first day.


“Look, there is your lion Tensleigh. I told you it was easier to see from the south.” He regained his composure and flashed a bright smile as he looked over at her.

Edited by Arinth
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Surprise filled her face when she saw that the sound was someone joining her on the wagon top. In the dark it was difficult to see, but she knew that it was Viktor. She always knew when he was in the vicinity. It was as if every cell in her body snapped to instant awareness. Replacing surprise with the most carefree smile she could muster, Tensleigh sat up as he sat down next to her. A pounding heartbeat, steadily growing faster, sounded loud in her ears – her body casting aside all the tranquility the quiet night had brought. She stared at him, waiting for him to continue, probably with a tirade about how she shouldn’t be up here. She had heard it so many times that she could give the talk herself. But this time, he was up here too – his hand resting lightly on the roof between the two of them, a scant inch from her thigh. Briefly, the girl wondered when she’d gone from 'Ten,' or 'Tens,' to the more formal ‘Tensleigh.’ She couldn’t seem to remember.


His rich voice, posing a question, broke the stillness of the moment. “Tensleigh, Nico strained a muscle. I’m going to need you to fill up part of that time with your lions. You have a few extra tricks you can dazzle the people with?” Blinking, she nodded, tucking some loose curls behind her ear to no avail – they flew where they wanted anyway. Of course he wanted to discuss performing. What had she expected him to say? It wasn’t as if he returned ….whatever it was that she felt for him. Viktor was never improper, never out of place. Even now he lifted his hands in an attempt to smooth his hair – also to no avail. She grinned as the wind ruffled it again immediately.


Before she could answer, he turned his head to the sky and pointed directly at the set of stars amassed in the shape of a lion. “Look, there is your lion Tensleigh. I told you it was easier to see from the south,” He said, flashing her a bright smile. She laughed quietly.


“How do you always find it so easily? “ She asked, her voice low, curious. “I was looking for it when you came up here.” She felt the pounding lessen as they lapsed into a familiar moment. Looking at the stars was how they’d first met, how they had become friends so long ago, and how they had often passed the years. It felt right, and more like “them” than they had been in quite some time. Adjusting her robe, Tensleigh turned her head back to the twinkling stars. “By the way, I have a few things that I’ve been working on. I’ll need an extra hour of practice in the ring tomorrow, before the show, but I can cover for Nico.


Is he going to be all right?” She asked the last with genuine concern. The strong man was another good friend of hers, along with his wife. He’d been a friend of her father’s and had made his passing bearable. She passed many a night after – and since – sitting around the fire with the pair of them, soaking up the feel of the flame and that of a family. She still joined them at the beginning of every week for a private dinner. Nico would be heartbroken if he could no longer perform, and so would Irene. She was a passable seamstress, but her skill alone would not be enough to keep them in the menagerie circuit.


Looking at Viktor, Tensleigh again brushed some hair out of her face and considered. She would not want to be the one to make that decision, should it ever come down to it. No wonder he wasn’t close with the majority of the group. She felt the urge to hug him right then, for all the troubles he took on after his father died. They still hadn’t really talked about it. She hesitated though, tension in the arms that she currently had wrapped about herself. Despite being reckless in pretty much every other area of her life, the lion tamer was cautious in this. She settled for patting his hand – the one between them – before putting hers behind her and leaning back on them again, annoyed at herself. Well, if that wasn’t cryptic. Good job.

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The muscles in his face were straining to contort into a snarl despite Viktor’s best efforts. Somehow the day had just seemed to have gone from bad to worse. It always seemed that any good luck was always followed by a flood of bad luck.


Just before he had called a halt to the days travel the lead wagon had hit a hole in the road and one of the axels had snapped. But it didn’t stop there, the wheel had come rolling down into the second wagon. The handler had lost control of the horses then and the second wagon had overturned. The monkeys that had lived in the wagon had begun screeching at the top of their lungs. It was a terrible sound that had given Viktor a pounding headache. The door to their cage broke and they had climbed out hopping around and screaming at everyone. Their handler had been unable to settle them back down.


They were stuck on the side of the road. It would be at least a day or two before they could get the wagons fixed back up and in traveling condition. He had tried contacting the local Lords to convince them to come see his show or allow him to take his show to them but through some type of political game they had both refused him. They had sent his messengers away after treating them like they were spies of some sort.


The knife thrower Petero and his assistant Rowlina had only added to his headache more. He had been trying to deal with the catastrophe of the morning and settle everyone down when with a drunken roar Petero stumbled out of his wagon. There was a knife stuck in his shoulder. Rowlina followed quickly behind him waiving another knife around threateningly and shouting curses that the light had never shined upon.


It had taken quick thinking and quicker feet to settle her down and avoid the knife in her hand. Well all of that and Nico. The strongman had clamped one huge hand over hers and the knife fell from her helpless grip. Of course it was after she had sliced up Viktor’s blue shirt. He had avoided any further damage though.


“Are you crazy?” He had shouted as he looked at his shirt. He had been about to shout that all women were crazy but he caught sight of Tensleigh watching him with a concerned look on her face and he restrained himself. Maybe not all women were crazy, or at least not always.


For her part Rowlina looked visibly embarrassed and apologetic for what she had done. She claimed that she had not realized it was Viktor. He didn’t buy that for one minute though. Who else would she have mistaken such a handsome man for?


He told Rowlina that he would deal with her later and stalked off to his wagon. It was in her best interest to let him cool off. He pulled off his shirt once he was inside his wagon and examined the damage. It would take Irene’s best work to fix it. He set the shirt aside with a grumble and started looking through his shirts.


The thought of Irene reminded him of the night before when he had talked to Tensleigh. If he was willing to admit it, that was why he was in a bad mood. The woman made him feel like a fool. He was always smooth and charming and in control. Whenever he found himself around her though he fell to pieces.


He remembered the night before and how they had sat together under the stars. She had been so close he could feel the heat off her skin. It sent waves through his body. It felt like he had reached up into the heavens and grabbed a hold of lightning. He had sat awkwardly in silence trying to think of something to say to her but nothing sounded right in his head. And then just when he was about to say something she had asked about Nico and Irene. He couldn’t very well change the subject back after that. The moment had passed.


As they talked about Nico and Irene they came close to mentioning Silas but Viktor shied away from the mention of his name. It was still painful. She had recognized how he had shied away and there had been a look that flickered in her eyes that had suggested much deeper feelings.


Women were crazy? No, he was crazy if he actually believed that. She had only been trying to be nice. He had even thought in that moment that she might lean forward and kiss him. His heart had started racing. He had wondered many times what it would be like to kiss her lips. Was he finally about to find out? Just when his hopes were at their highest she reached over and patted his hand like she was comforting a little puppy. He should have known better.


He realized he was still standing in his wagon without a shirt when he heard the door to his wagon open.

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Tensleigh yawned, lifting her arms up and then behind her to stretch.  Lavi, the largest of the three lions, blinked his golden eyes at her before throwing his mouth open for a yawn and stretching his paws out in front of him lazily.  Laughing, the tamer chided him for being a copycat and flicked his ear.  His chest rumbled quietly, but he didn’t move, his large pupils staring at her.  Lavi read her emotions well, as did the other two, and he knew it was merely play.  The felines spent more time in her company than anyone else’s.  It was almost as if she were a younger sister and they her older, protective brothers.  Sitting down next to him, she scratched his ear instead – apologizing for the flick.  His chest rumbled again, this time in a happy purr.  The big cat tipped his head toward her hand, urging her to scratch elsewhere.


A few moments later, Tensleigh was still sitting in the cage, her head resting on the back of the now sleeping cat.  Her hand moved occasionally, momentarily scratching, but it was absentmindedly.  Thoughts of last night were still playing in her mind, with thoughts of how last night could have gone. No sense in dwelling on the past Tens. You'll just have to work to make it less awkward. Or, maybe you should grow a pair and tell him how you feel... “As if that would make things less confusing,” she said, finishing her thoughts aloud. All around her the lions slept. Sighing at their lack of help, Tensleigh stood up and made her way outside.


The day had dawned early, but not bright. Afternoon hadn't diminished the brewing storm either. Dark gray clouds concealed the sky making everything look dreary and washed out. Garishly colored wagons rivaled that of a Tinker camp, looking severely out of place next to the muted color of the countryside around them.   They also looked out of place because they weren't moving, nor were there tents set up around them. It was rare that the menagerie stopped for anything other than a show. Frowning, Tensleigh bit the edge of her lip as she looked around for Viktor. Despite what she should do, which was stay away from him until she figured out what was going on between the two of them, or what she wanted to go on between the two of them. If she wanted anything to...despite all that she knew that today hadn't exactly been easy for him. A wagon wheel break was annoying, but something the wheelwright could fix easily. The rest of it though, with the frightened animals - that was quite trying.


She'd been in her cabin when the axel had snapped, causing the first of all the incidents. Fleeing from her wagon, Tensleigh had run to check on the lions, making sure they were content. After assuring herself they were fine – because no one wants one angry lion, let alone three- she'd left to help the various handlers with the horses and the monkeys. Even with half the menagerie helping it had taken ages to settle them down. Especially after one somehow found his way to the Lion's Cage and was taunting them. That's how she'd ended up at back at their cage, inside, soothing the giant cats.


Feeling deflated as she didn't see him, Light! Could I be anymore fourteen?, Tensleigh turned on her heel. She stopped mid turn, however, when a drunken Petero had stumbled out of his cabin. A knife protruded from his shoulder; a bellow sounded from his mouth. Rowlina, his pretty, much younger, assistant followed him out the door waving another kinfe and screaming out curses. Gaping for only a moment, Tensleigh began to walk forward, intent on breaking up their little show. She stopped abruptly, however, when Viktor stepped forward. He seemed to speak with Rowlina for a moment, jumping backward as she sliced the knife toward him. Tensleigh bit off a yell, instead fixing the raven haired girl with a glare.


Nico walked up behind Rowlina and casually clamped his large hand over hers. Trembling, Rowlina dropped the knife. Tensleigh felt a small blaze of satisfaction. Stepping closer, concern for her friend replacing the smugness she felt, the Lion Tamer moved into earshot just in time to hear Viktor shout at the girl. Rowlina immediately looked extremely embarrassed and apologetic. He looked around, seemingly in the middle of a tirade, but stopped short as he locked eyes with Tensleigh. She smiled hesitantly.


Breaking the gaze, Viktor turned back to the knife thrower's assistant. He told her he would deal with her later and stalked off to his wagon. Biting the edge of her lip again, Tensleigh wondered if she should go after him – make sure he was okay and all that. She waffled for a minute and then took off after him. She hadn't seen any blood, but that didn't mean that he wasn't hurt. Luckily, his wagon wasn't far from the incident. Twisting the doorknob, she began to open it without knocking – just as she'd done for years – forgetting that they were older now and things were different.


“Viktor? Are you all right?” she called as the door swung open.

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“Viktor? Are you all right?”


The words hung in the air for a moment. Viktor had always secretly loved Tens voice. There was a certain quality to it that he could not describe. There was a richness to it, a confidence, a firmness that he had never heard anywhere else before. He supposed it was one of the things required of a lion tamer. The lions would not just listen to anybody. Before Tensleigh had taken over there had been a string of idiots who had thought they could handle the lions.


Tensleigh stepped into the wagon and looked at him worriedly. When she saw that he had not replaced his shirt yet she averted her eyes for a moment but then looked back at him. There had been a time when he could have read her thoughts and her moods, but something was different now. Somehow things had gotten….complicated. He didn’t know if she was embarrassed, or worried or just trying to be nice. No, he wasn’t going to doubt her friendship. That was something they still shared.


“Ill be fine.” He sighed as he picked his shirt back up and began to put it on.


“Viktor..” Tens began.


His head popped through the collar of his shirt and he looked at her. “Yes Tens?” He asked.


“Um…” She looked at his shirt. He looked down at confusion and realized it was the same one he had just taken off that Rowlina had slashed. He took it back off and turned away from Tensleigh to look for another shirt. He didn’t want her to see the embarrassment on his face. He hurriedly found another shirt and pulled it on.


Tensleigh was still standing in the doorway. Viktor sat down on his bed and Tensleigh came and sat down next to him.


“What am I going to do with her Tensleigh? She just stabbed our knife thrower and slashed that knife at me.”


Tens did not look very happy about what Rowlina had done. She was known to be a fierce defender of her friends. Now that he thought about it, it was a wonder that she hadn’t had a few words for Rowlina. It had all happened so fast nobody had time to react. Well, except for Nico. Thank the light he had though.


“Nevermind, that is not a fair question. Its not your place to have to deal with those types of decisions. How did he do it Tens? How did my father make it look so easy? I don’t remember people stabbing each other and nobody wanting to watch us perform and the handlers not being able to take care of their own animals. I don’t mean you of course.” His words trailed off and with a sigh he settled his chin into his hands.


They talked for awhile, sitting there on his bed with the overcast sky outside blocking out the sun and the crew working feverishly to repair the wagons and get them back on the road. Once they got back on the road things would be ok.


Finally Viktor accepted that he couldn’t put things off any longer. He would have to talk to Petero and then Rowlina. Somehow he felt better though. Tensleigh’s company always lightened his mood. Sometimes it was the things she said, sometimes it was just her smile and the way she looked at him and sometimes it was just knowing that she was there and choose to sit next to him. That had to count for something.


He stood up and opened the wagon and called for someone to bring Petero to him. He turned around and looked at Tensleigh. Without him saying anything she understood that he would need to speak to Petero alone. She started to leave but he grabbed her arm gently.


"Thank you Tens, I can't tell you how much it means to me to have you here."

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It wasn't until she was standing in his wagon, him naked from the waist up, that she realized knocking and then waiting until he answered would have been the better course of action. She stared at him for a second and then jerked her gaze away, willing herself not to blush. It wasn't as if she could just not look at him, however, standing in his wagon as she was. Feeling as if she shook from the effort, the lion tamer brushed an errant curl behind her right ear and moved her eyes back to Viktor's handsome face. Despite the urge to, Tensleigh locked her jaw and forced herself not to look elsewhere. She was already annoyed at herself as it was, pining away after someone unattainable. Someone who had never given her any reason to think he might be interested.


“I'll be fine.” He sighed as he picked his shirt back up and began to put it on. Knitting her brow a bit, she looked at the shirt.


“Viktor..” she said, trailing off as she moved her eyes back up to his, a blush beginning to color her cheeks as her gaze swept across an expanse of tanned, muscled, abdomen. Where did the tan come from? She considered idly, dragging -with effort- her eyes north.


His head popped through the collar of his shirt and he looked at her. “Yes Tens?” He asked.


“Um…” She looked pointedly at his shirt, keeping her eyes on the torn fabric. He looked down at confusion for a moment before recognition seemed to occur. Ducking his head out and throwing the shirt down, Viktor turned around to find another shirt. Tensleigh gazed at his back, broad shoulders moving as he looked for a replacement shirt. She wondered for a moment what it would feel like to have those arms wrapped around her before she shook her head, clearing the thoughts away. How could she expect to be his friend – the friend he needed – if she could not control her thoughts. It was as if all her resolve melted away in his presence, the barest shred of willpower holding her back from tackling him and having her way. It wasn't something she particularly liked about herself currently, always having a fierce strength in the past.


Tensleigh was still standing in the doorway when Viktor found a replacement shirt and threw it on over his head. He sat down on the edge of his bed, a look of dejection on his face. Worry for him flooded through her, pushing out the dangerous feelings and settling into something else. She crossed the small wagon to sit next to him. Her right hand absentmindedly rubbed his shoulders as she listened, trying to offer comfort.


“What am I going to do with her Tensleigh? She just stabbed our knife thrower and slashed that knife at me.” Gritting her teeth, Tensleigh thought about the girl. She had looked extremely sorry for what she'd done, but that wasn't enough in her book. Opening her mouth to reply, the tamer shut it again when Viktor continued. “Nevermind, that is not a fair question. Its not your place to have to deal with those types of decisions. How did he do it Tens? How did my father make it look so easy? I don’t remember people stabbing each other and nobody wanting to watch us perform and the handlers not being able to take care of their own animals. I don’t mean you of course.” His words trailed off and with a sigh he settled his chin into his hands. She resumed rubbing his shoulders as she thought about how to respond. Silas was a touchy subject for everyone in the menagerie, but most especially for Viktor.


A few moments later, Tensleigh offered advice that seemed to perk Viktor up some. They talked for awhile, sitting there on his bed, the overcast sky casting a gray shroud around everything. The handyman crew concurrently worked hard to repair the wagon wheels; the animal handlers to ensure another escape would not happen today.



She could have sat there for hours talking to him. They had really talked, not conversed in that strange shallow exchanges that they had found themselves in lately. Even her flutters had ceased, for the most part, while they were talking – only flaring up once when he'd rested his head on her shoulder for the barest moment. Luckily, she hadn't needed to think of how to react as he'd then stood up and opened the wagon and called for someone to bring Petero to him. He turned around and looked at her, eyes piercing. Nodding, Tensleigh stood up and moved to leave. He didn't have to say anything; she knew he would want to talk to Petero alone. He stood in the doorway, the wagon door so small that she brushed by him as she left. He caught her elbow in a gentle grip – fingers barely resting on her skin – as she stepped out. "Thank you Tens, I can't tell you how much it means to me to have you here."


She nodded again, words caught in her throat. Petero lumbered up then, and Viktor released her, motioning for the big man to join him. Tensleigh walked away without looking back, golden curls bouncing. She tried not to let the words affect her, but they echoed through her mind as she walked back to her cabin. Friendship is what he needs right now, whether you'd like more or not. You need to let him be. She lifted her head, firmly in her resolve and stepped up into her cabin.


The menagerie was moving again by nightfall. Viktor announced that they would begin traveling immediately, as he was hoping to reach Lugard by the end of the week. Everyone began chatting excitedly before rushing off to ensure things were ready for travel. The entire menagerie was excited to get on with the next performance. Tensleigh checked on the lions again before returning to her cabin.


The rest of the week was spent in rapid motion, the wagons bouncing along the road. They stopped only for food and to rest the horses. The horse handlers were ready for speed, however, and they swapped out the horses for a well rested set at first opportunity. Three days later, the group reached Lugard. Tents were constructed fluidly, the polemen happy to have something to do other than clean out animal cages. The ring was set up first, allowing various animal acts to have some much needed practice as the rest of the menagerie was set up around them. It was four days before Tensleigh so much as saw Viktor other than a brief blur, running past to check on something as the acrobats whizzed in the air above her and the lions padded around the circle in front of her. She smiled, seeing him flushed with happiness despite the stress. He lived for it as much as the rest of them did.


The first show went off without a hitch. The delay on the road effected nothing, as the entire world disappeared before the audience. Petero and a new assistant – an apple cheeked girl with a Murandian look to her – sent gasps through the audience as his knife chunked into the sideboard around her. Nico dazzled with smaller weights, though his normal weights were still in the storage wagon. No one seemed to notice that he was performing under his usual amount, and his muscle strain was not apparent. The acrobats were always good for applause, their flips and tricks causing the audience to suck in a breath quickly and then let it out in a gasp of relief as they concluded, everyone safely on the platforms. The lions though, as always they were the hit of the show. Viktor introduced her, the spotlights twinkling in his eyes and shining off his dazzling smile, to a shower of applause before the entire audience hushed at the appearance of the lions. She directed them to their stools as the ringmaster retreated, the spotlight moving from him to her. They ran through the usual tricks, hoops, rolling over, roaring on command, licking her face, her head in their mouths, to the deafening applause of the audience. Then, as promised, she ran them through a few extra tricks. “NEW! NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE!” was announced to a once again silent audience.


The crowd went wild as she finished, her sparkly suit flashing in the lights as she took a bow. Lavi and the other lions looked at the audience calmly, their ears used to the roar of applause. She smiled and motioned to the lions, causing another explosion of noise. Then, she herded the lions back into their cage as Viktor stepped back into the ring to end the show for the night. He instructed people to mill around out front if they wanted to meet any of the acts. Knowing her the other part of her role, Tensleigh gave the felines each a giant steak, got herself some water and ran out to the waiting crowd.


An hour later, a large crowd still stood around the front of the tents. Performers were talking animatedly amidst the people – sometimes to themselves, sometimes to audience members. This after meet was one of the reasons Viktor's menagerie was so popular. The people loved being able to meet the perfomers. Tensleigh picked some of the curls off her neck and fanned herself, still warm from the night's activities. “Not going anywhere yet, I hope,” said a man walking toward her, huge smile on his face.


Smiling back at him, she dropped her hair and shook her head, “not yet. Did you enjoy the show?” She asked, eyes scanning his features. He was a very attractive man, though not quite so as Viktor. His light hair was cropped relatively short to his head, nose finely shaped, and sharp green eyes regarded her as she observed him. They settled into a friendly, flirty banter as he discussed the act and how she'd enchanted him and whether or not he should attend again.

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Taia sat on her horse staring back the way she had come, her green eyes trying to find any sign of pursuit. Andor was behind her and Murandy ahead, but that didn't mean she wasn't being tracked. She had left Andor in a hurry, barely pausing to allow time to say she was leaving to her host. Although she knew Mia would have taken care of it, Taia preferred to be nice, or as nice as she could. Several nights ago Miahna had told Taia that the man they were looking for was going to Murandy maybe with the Menagerie. Taia had left the same night, she preferred to do things on her own sometimes. Thankfully Mia knew that and let her go promising to send her a message should she get more information. Taia knew that Miahna may come after her too, her friend didn't sit around and do nothing if she didn't have too. Taia smiled slightly at that and just hoped that nothing was left in Andor to hurt her friend. She took a moment more to stare back the way she had come and said softly. "Be safe my friend, I will find the darkfriend." She turned her horse around and rode into Murandy hoping she could find the Menagerie quickly.


She rode for several days and heard about the Menagerie, they had apparently been stopped on the road for a day or two. The lords had not allowed them to preform, which to Taia was good it would make her finding the darkfriend easier if they were with the Menagerie. They were going toward the city of Lugard, Taia would catch them there she hoped, if they moved on before she got there she'd be stuck in the saddle longer. She loved her dark brown stallion, and he was fast, but too long in his saddle and she started wishing for a break. She also wished she had bonded another warder, the nights were chilly even if it was warmer in the day. Spring was here now but winter hadn't fully let go yet. A warder would at least have kept her warm when she had to camp outside. No use worrying about it now though. She was committed to what she was doing she'd need to find a warder who was equally so. She brushed those thoughts aside and nudged her horse a little harder he picked up the pace and she made it to Lugard just before nightfall.


Taia checked into an Inn and gave her name as Sienna, she was told the Menagerie was in town and if she would like great entertainment she should go. Taia nodded and cleaned herself up and hide the Great Serpent ring in a pouch around her waist. She pulled her green cloak around herself and pulled the hood up. It would make her a little less obvious to anyone looking for her. She had no idea if the man she was looking for knew what she looked like, but it was better not to chance it. She went and saw the entertainment. She was not as impressed as the rest of the people she was with, the lion tamer was impressive, as Taia had not seen cats they were not abundant in Saldaea. She decided she liked them and wished she could have a smaller version. She let her eyes travel the crowd and measured the performers as they showed off for the crowd. She clapped with the rest and left the tent when it was over. She breathed deeply of the night air and then began her search. It wasn't hard most of the people were paying more attention to the performers then they were to the rest of the crowd. Taia watched the Lion tamer flirt with a tall man and she smiled. Taia being both a green and Saldean knew how to flirt. It was something she had perfected many years ago. It seemed the lion tamer knew how to do it as well. Taia took a look at the man and wondered if he was the one she was looking for. She moved toward the lion tamer she stood directly behind her and said softly.


"That was a wonderful performance young lady. Could you point me to the good looking man who runs this Menagerie?" She knew she sounded like a haughty Lady and she smiled within the confines of the hood of her cloak. She would find the darkfriend, it would be easier if she had the help of the Menagerie members, there was no use showing herself for an Aes Sedai in public though. It would only scare away her prey. She waited to see what would happen now.


Taia Misna

Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah.

Hunting a darkfriend.

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For the past week Viktor felt like he had been in a whirlwind but as he looked around himself at the chaos of the camping coming up he began to feel like things might return to normal. The air felt nice and fresh and the breeze seemed to whisper of childhood memories of carefree times when he had played with the acrobat’s children high up in trees.


The menagerie had finally arrived in Lugard and with only slightly more in costs, repairs and supplies than he had expected. His chests had been filled with money in Andor and he had the feeling they were about to get even fuller now. He might even have to buy another chest. He was unable to suppress a smile at the idea.


The only thing that was not normal were his thoughts about Tensleigh. He had even dreamed about her. It had been very unsettling and disappointing to wake up the next morning to realize things were not quite the same. He scratched his chin as he tried to think back on when things changed. Had it been when he had climbed up onto her lion’s wagon to scold her. Is that all it had taken, to see her stretched out on her back with her long beautiful legs on proud display? He had admired her figure before. He knew that she was a beautiful woman so what had changed? Had there been a full moon that night? He couldn’t recall. He couldn’t blame it on that anyways. She was Tensleigh and somehow the feelings he was encountering felt right. They felt like they had always been there and he was just not realizing them.


He stood up and paced around the room. Thoughts returned of her last visit and he found himself wishing that she would come back into the wagon again. He shook his head at his foolishness. It had felt nice having her rub his shoulders. There was something about her touch that had been more exhilarating than any other he had experienced. Then he remembered the moment of weakness when he had rested his head on her shoulder and he wanted to kick himself. He would have to make sure he did not do that again. If he kept that up she would think he was a baby that needed coddling.


There was a sudden knock on his door and Viktor jumped. What was he doing. He had a menagerie to run. He opened the door and pushed his way out into the chaos around him. Everywhere he turned there were things needing done and things to resolve. He lost himself into it and for awhile he did not have time to think about Tensleigh or his feelings.


He did find himself watching her when she didn’t notice. He would watch as she fed and took care of her lions and as she ran them through their paces. He was amazed by the way the lions treated her. There was such a striking presence to her. It drew people’s attention just as easily as the lions and it held it there.


In between his attempts to subtly watch her he had to deal with unpleasant business as well. Petero had looked relieved when Viktor told him that Rowlina would have to leave. Maybe Petero had wanted her gone for awhile but just had not wanted the blame at his feet. When Viktor thought about it Petero had not always drank so much.


But sometimes good things came out of the bad. He had enjoyed himself as he and Petero had searched for other assistants to replace Rowlina. Most were local girls eager to see the world. They had been lucky in finding a girl with a beautiful smile. He couldn’t help but think it paled in comparison to others he had seen but Petero was pleased and the girl managed to appear truly terrified (something the crowd always loved) while not flinching.


The first show was a blur for him as he rushed from one act to the next making sure everything was always ready and perfect. There was a moment that stood out for him though. When he was announcing Tensleigh she was walking over to get set in the proper position and their eyes had locked. Time had stood still and his heart raced. He couldn’t be imagining things. Not that look. There had to have been something more. He would have to tell her.


“Look Tens. You are beautiful. I am handsome. Its simple really.” No that did not sound right at all. Maybe he needed more time to work on the right thing to say. After a second thought he was positive that he needed more time, but just to get the words right.


After the show he found himself on the opposite side of the crowd. He tried to make his way towards Tensleigh but people kept stopping him to talk to him. He couldn’t be rude. He replied to their questions and compliments even if he only offered one word replies while trying to look over their heads at Tensleigh.


He saw a goofy looking man start talking to Tensleigh. He thought nothing of it at first but the two kept talking. And then they started laughing. And there was even smiling. Tensleigh went so far as to touch the man’s shoulder, playfully pushing him away.


Suddenly Viktor was not very happy. He tried to calm his expression but it felt like his eye was twitching from the effort. Just as he was about to reach the pair a woman stepped up to Tensleigh. He was partially relieved because he had not worked out what to say to break up their little giggle party. He did not think a punch to the face, which the man deserved for the way he looked at Tensleigh, would be the best approach though it was the only one he could think of.


“Could you point me to the good looking man who runs this Menagerie?" Viktor heard the lady say.


“Ahh my lady, you are too kind but if you are looking for the man who runs the Menagerie then I am afraid that would be me. I do my best but there is only so much you can do with these unruly ruffians you know.” He said with a bright smile.


The lady turned to regard him and from under her hood he saw her stunning green eyes.


“I am sorry if I have been rendered speechless but your eyes are simply stunning. I feel as if they have the power to look right through me.” Viktor said after pausing for a brief moment. When no further words were spoken he leaned forward. “I do not know what it is that you wish to speak with me about, but if you would prefer some privacy I can offer my wagon.”

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Taia was waiting patiently for a response from the lion tamer when a male voice spoke from behind her.


“Ahh my lady, you are too kind but if you are looking for the man who runs the Menagerie then I am afraid that would be me. I do my best but there is only so much you can do with these unruly ruffians you know.”


She turned around to regard him, she had seen him before of course he had been overseeing the Menagerie. This was the first time she had seen him up close however, she started at his feet and slowly looked him over, he was handsome enough. He had a quiet strength about him as well, she could tell he would know what to do in a fight. He might not be a warder, but that didn't mean he was clueless either. He would be a good ally in her search for the darkfriend of that she was sure. She must have turned to quickly or the light had cast some light within her hood as next he commented on her eyes. Taia knew she was beautiful, but she knew that her best feature was indeed her green eyes. She couldn't see through anyone with them, but she was good at observing people and some said it was disconcerting to have her give them her full attention. She picked up the smallest hints of anything in a person, she mentioned them later causing people to assume she was a mind reader, it was just a skill she had picked up over the years and honed to perfection. She realized after he offered her his wagon that she was staring too much. She pulled the hood a little more over her face and smiled within the confines of it. The wagon comment was as close as she'd gotten in a long while to being alone with a man and a bed within the same vicinity. He was also handsome enough, she was here on busniess though she should focus on that. She paused and added silently or she should try and focus on that, it had been a rather long time.


She spoke. "Yes please, I have something rather urgent to discuss with you." She paused and realized that it was possible the man flirting with the lion tamer was the man she was searching for. She would feel guilty were anything to happen to the lion tamer. She twisted around and said. "Young lady would you accompany us, it involves you as well." She glanced at the man behind the lion tamer for a reaction. He looked disappointed but not overly dangerous. The other woman seemed quite surprised by the request. Taia smiled inside her hood again and beckoned adding in her best Aes Sedai to Novice voice. "Come along child, its not wise to keep me waiting." She turned and added to the man "Lead on." He did and once they were all in the wagon. Taia eyed the windows and closed the curtains, she took her cloak off and shook her red hair out it fell down her back in waves, but it had been pushed close to her neck to remain hidden in her hood, so she knew it looked a little flatter then it would otherwise. She took out the Great Serpent ring and put it on the second finger of her left hand. She stated her busniess, in a quite voice to hopefully stop eavesdroppers.


"My name is Taia Sedai of the Green Ajah. I am here at the request of a friend to stop a darkfriend from committing crimes against the innocent." She paused and added, "We lost him in Andor and believe that he has joined the Menagerie. I am sorry for the secrecy we do not know how much he knows of my friend and I. I would like it very much if my presence as a sister of the White Tower was kept secret. My name in town is Sienna, you may call me such in public." She addressed the other woman. "I'm sorry to pull you from your night activities, but I could not be sure the man was not the one I was hunting. I would feel terrible if something bad happened to you." She then asked.


"Did you get any new members in Andor?"


Taia Misna

Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah.

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Tensleigh laughed and playfully pushed the patron, Jerrod, with her right hand as he extended his arm toward her shoulders. He was attractive, and an accomplished flirt, but she didn't like the possessive look that clouded his features when he thought she wasn't looking. She'd caught it twice now, but briefly enough each time that she wasn't sure that was what she was seeing. He was charming enough to make her forget in between, though, as she was beginning to do now. His smiles were white and shining, green eyes crinkling when he smiled. If he was acting, he did it well.


She searched his face as he grabbed a free strand of her hair and tucked it behind her ear. She switched which foot held her weight and glanced at his hand as he drew it away. The move was slow, deliberate, as if waiting for her to press her face against his palm, or grab his hand in hers. She kept her hands loosely at her sides, almost in a challenge. Tensleigh was not a young girl fresh faced from the farm. A simple gesture such as that was not going to entice her. She laughed at him, but checked herself, making it light and girlish instead. By all appearances he was a wealthy man and he had promised to return every night that the menagerie was in Murandy – saying this in hopes to win her favor. She could not afford to offend this man. Thinking of her friends...her family...and Viktor, she felt the carefree detached smile she gave to patrons float onto her face and give him the impression that she was interested.


A soft voice sounded from behind her. Turning away from Jerrod, Tensleigh turned around to find woman in a dark cloak. The hood was drawn up, shrouding her face in shadow. Bright green eyes flashed out, though, full of wisdom and curiosity. "That was a wonderful performance young lady. Could you point me to the good looking man who runs this Menagerie?" The voice did not match the eyes. The woman had a haughty tone, sounding more like an Andoran queen than anything else. The rich fabric of her cloak suggested merchant or some sort of royalty, but it alone was enough to bristle the hair on the back of Tensleigh's neck. She was glad for the ability to turn away from Jerrod – unfortunately not before he had suggested they meet at the inn where he was staying – but that did not mean she would be treated like a servant.


It was the haughty tone alone that bothered Tensleigh, certainly nothing else. The mysterious woman calling Viktor “good looking” had nothing to do with it. He is, of course, so why should that bother me? I'm just upset by her tone. I've never been spoken to like that and we've performed for Kings and Queens! Behind her, she felt Jerrod step away, but not leave. It was as if he realized the conversation could take longer than a moment of her time, but he was still hoping for her to return to the Inn with him. Biting the side of her lip momentarily, the lion tamer tried to figure out which would be worse – continuing the conversation with him, or this woman?


She was saved from the decision by Viktor. Though he was not in sight, Tensleigh felt all of her senses on alert as they were only when he was near. A brilliant smile flashed on her face at his proximity, though she dulled it a moment later when he stepped up slightly in front of her to address the woman. “Ahh my lady, you are too kind but if you are looking for the man who runs the Menagerie then I am afraid that would be me. I do my best but there is only so much you can do with these unruly ruffians you know.” He said with a bright smile and the woman in the cloak turned to regard him. Tensleigh quirked an eyebrow at him but said nothing. They all had a part to play as performers and charming rich patrons was something Viktor did well. It was easier, of course, if they were male and she was the focus of attention, but they couldn't always choose their customers.


“I am sorry if I have been rendered speechless but your eyes are simply stunning. I feel as if they have the power to look right through me.” Viktor said after pausing for a brief moment. When no further words were spoken he leaned forward. “I do not know what it is that you wish to speak with me about, but if you would prefer some privacy I can offer my wagon.” Tensleigh's jaw dropped open, shock at the forwardness, before she could stop herself. Narrowing her eyes, she glared at the stranger's hood. If stares could have made a hole in fabric, the entire hood would have dissolved. She felt anger rush into her, a force to be reckoned with. Her mind combed through insults to throw at him later, when they were not in front of a crowd. She knew how not to cause a scene. Beneath her anger, her stomach felt hollow and cold.


The woman stared at him – for too long really. Tensleigh's anger licked at her, pushing the cold out from her stomach. Her pulse was racing, but not for the same reason it had lately. She can't be considering accepting his offer, could she? Was his offer real? What kind of woman is she to answer in company?



...you should leave. she told herself, knowing that if she stayed things were going to change. She didn't know how, but something told her that they would. Her feet stayed rooted to the spot, however, her blue eyes trained on Viktor's profile as he leaned in to talk to the stranger. Tension built between the three of them until Tensleigh was sure she was going to burst from the pressure.


Finally the woman spoke. It was a single sentence at first, her voice focused on Viktor."Yes please, I have something rather urgent to discuss with you." Tensleigh felt a scream building in her throat and she wrapped her arms about herself – not trusting them to stay at her sides when she wanted to slug the woman in her mysterious face. "Young lady would you accompany us, it involves you as well." Surprise overcame anger for an instant and she looked at the woman bewildered. "Come along child, its not wise to keep me waiting."


Are you frakking kidding me? Tensleigh thought, eyes almost bulging. She twitched with the effort not to move. The stranger seemed not to notice, however, as she turned and instructed Viktor to "Lead on." The lion tamer tried not to notice how attuned to the woman Viktor seemed to be. Her legs seemed to shake as she walked behind them, a numb feeling starting to edge into her anger. He already seemed enamored with the mystery woman, his body leaning toward her as they walked, eyes stealing toward her hood as if hoping to catch a glimpse of what lay inside.


The woman stepped up into the wagon, a delicate looking hand placed in Viktor's larger one as he helped her up. He followed behind her closely, leaving Tensleigh to step in herself. It had never bothered her before – in fact she vaguely remembered chewing him out for offering his hand to her in the past – but it mattered at the moment. She gritted her teeth and stepped up into the wagon, her moment of hesitation gone. As if she would make things easy for them – leaving them to the cozy wagon. No. They would have to make her leave if they wanted the privacy. She pictured how awkward that would be for Viktor and that gave her strength. She closed the door and propped herself against it, eying the woman in the middle of the small area.


For her part, the stranger moved forward to close the curtains before she took off her cloak and shook her hair out. It fell down her back in waves, beautiful flowing copper. Tensleigh reflexively put a hand up to her golden curls before she forced it back down. It was difficult being in the presence of beautiful women. It made thoughts of one's own faults flow immediately to the surface. She stole a glance at Viktor and felt her anger stir again. He was looking at the stranger with interest...until she took out the Great Serpent ring and put it on the second finger of her left hand.


Both Tensleigh and Viktor looked at the woman confused, then. But that ring means... The woman interrupted her thoughts, explaining, "My name is Taia Sedai of the Green Ajah. I am here at the request of a friend to stop a darkfriend from committing crimes against the innocent." She paused and added, "We lost him in Andor and believe that he has joined the Menagerie. I am sorry for the secrecy we do not know how much he knows of my friend and I. I would like it very much if my presence as a sister of the White Tower was kept secret. My name in town is Sienna, you may call me such in public." Her green eyes, which had been focused on Viktor, turned to Tensleigh then. "I'm sorry to pull you from your night activities, but I could not be sure the man was not the one I was hunting. I would feel terrible if something bad happened to you.” Before Tensleigh could respond, however, the woman turned to the owner once again.


“ Did you get any new members in Andor?"


The wagon felt as if it were hushed in silence. Tensleigh stared at the woman – the Aes Sedai – struggling with mixed emotions. She was relieved, but worried, and still angry. The lion tamer knew that she should not felt anger against a woman so powerful, but she felt it – the heat of it nearly causing a flush on her skin. This woman had the world at her fingertips, yet she chose to seduce Viktor. My. Viktor. she thought ferociously.


And him! Was it so easy to seduce him? Would he fall at the feet of any woman who batted her pretty eyes at him? Tensleigh clenched her jaw and stared at the two of them, who were looking at each other, feeding thoughts to her anger. They already seem so cozy even with you present. Perhaps you should just leave them to it. Why make yourself so uncomfortable? If she wants him, she'll have him – there is no stopping an Aes Sedai. Practically growling, the lion tamer interrupted their moment earlier smugness at interrupting them replaced by the sudden urge to leave.


“I appreciate your concern Aes Sedai, but I can handle myself thank you very much. I sincerely doubt Jerrod is at fault. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to be getting back to my night activities." She said in as haughty a tone as she could muster, eyes boring into Viktor's as she said the last. With the word “activites” hanging in the air, she whirled on her heel, threw open the door, and stomped off into the night.

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As soon as Viktor offered his wagon to the woman in the hood he knew it was a mistake. He had only been trying to be helpful and friendly. He had been told he was shamelessly flirtatious with women before but he thought that remark was a little bit much. He was expected to be nice and if a few extra comments made some women melt in his hands what was the harm?


This woman though was certainly not going to melt from any words that he said. Her hood kept her eyes and her face well hidden but he had, for the briefest second, caught a glance of them and there was a strength and confidence in them that he found startling and well yes, a little attractive too.


He knew without looking that Tensleigh was not happy. Somehow she would take his friendly banter as something else, even to the extent that she might think he was suggesting something indecent. The thought was inconceivable which meant that it was probably crossing some woman’s mind. They were just that way he had determined.


"Yes please, I have something rather urgent to discuss with you." The hooded woman said.


Viktor was surprised and curious. Was there really something urgent? It couldn’t be something indecent. His eyes had wandered half way down her body before he stopped himself.


"Young lady would you accompany us, it involves you as well." The lady said firmly. It wasn’t a question nor a suggestion.


Viktor’s eyebrow lifted. Tensleigh too? Now that really would be indecent. He coughed and tried to regain his composure.


"Lead on." The lady said to Viktor. Again it was not a question or a suggestion. He thought he had heard her say something else to Tensleigh too but he had been distracted by his wandering thoughts. Her tone was starting to irritate him. This was his menagerie and she hadn’t even introduced herself yet. On top of that she hide her face. It must be hideous he thought and shuddered. And I’m going to be stuck trying to keep from cringing when we are in my cabin. He saw the way she walked though and he had to admit from the sway of her hips that she couldn’t be all hideous. He tried to peek into her hood but was unable to see anything additional.


When they finally reached his wagon he opened the door and she held out her hand for him to help her up. Another demand even if unspoken. He glanced at Tensleigh and saw fire in her eyes. He hurried in behind the hooded lady. Offering Tensleigh a hand would make her even madder. He remembered the crazy things she had said before.


Once they were in the wagon the woman quickly closed the curtains and pulled back her hood. Her long beautiful red hair fell out around her face and Viktor’s jaw almost dropped. He snapped his mouth shut and heard his teeth click. He glanced over at Tensleigh. It was awkward having her in the room. What was even going on? He was utterly confused. He offered the women his best smile and waited.



"My name is Taia Sedai of the Green Ajah. I am here at the request of a friend to stop a darkfriend from committing crimes against the innocent." She said and Viktor’s jaw did drop this time. A flaming Aes Sedai was in his cabin. He felt a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings surge through him.


"We lost him in Andor and believe that he has joined the Menagerie. I am sorry for the secrecy we do not know how much he knows of my friend and I. I would like it very much if my presence as a sister of the White Tower was kept secret. My name in town is Sienna, you may call me such in public." She turned to Tensleigh. "I'm sorry to pull you from your night activities, but I could not be sure the man was not the one I was hunting. I would feel terrible if something bad happened to you." She then asked.


"Did you get any new members in Andor?"

“A dark friend?! In my menagerie!” Viktor wanted to scream. It was impossible. He had to bit his tongue from saying something he might regret.


“I appreciate your concern Aes Sedai, but I can handle myself thank you very much. I sincerely doubt Jerrod is at fault. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to be getting back to my night activities." Tensleigh said. She was visibly upset and Viktor feared hurt as well.


Viktor narrowed his eyes at the Aes Sedai for a moment before rushing to the door. “Are you a complete fool he shouted?” He meant it for the Aes Sedai but if Tensleigh heard it she‘d think he meant her and it would probably infuriate her more. He looked out into the darkness but did not see Tensleigh in the crowd. When she was angry her long legs carried her away in the blink of an eye with just a few strides.


He was about to follow after her when a single word from the Aes Sedai stopped him.


He turned back to her. “You better hope that dark friend isn’t here because you couldn’t have said anything more likely to drive her out there into danger.” His voice did not carry a hint of its normal friendliness.


The Aes Sedai drew herself up a little taller and her mouth tightened the smallest amount but it was enough to remind him of what she was.


“I beg your forgiveness Aes Sedai. I am not normally quick to anger. Its just that Tensleigh well, she is my, um she is a good girl.” He wanted to kick himself, he never stumbled over his words and gave things away but he might as well have just painted a sign on his head that he was in love with the girl. Love? The thought startled him. He knew his feelings for her were growing but was that what it was?


The Aes Sedai reminded him of her last question about new members in Andor.


“I don’t know Aes Sedai. I am sure there are. People are always joining and leaving the menagerie. I can’t personally keep up with all the helpers. Oh but another thing. If you want to avoid suspicion you’ll have to become a patron of the show. Nothing unreasonable of course but otherwise people will wonder why exactly you have been in my wagon. A patron they understand, strange visitors without names and hoods inspire a lot of curiosity and questions.”


Even while he talked he was beginning to get more and more worried about Tensleigh. He had already let several minutes pass. What if she really was in danger. He didn’t know a lot about Aes Sedai but if they thought there was a darkfriend then there was a darkfriend as much as he hated to admit it. And well he wasn’t about to admit it. She didn’t know for sure if the person was with the menagerie. Finally he could wait no longer.


“I’m sorry Aes Sedai, but I can’t just stay her talking if Tensleigh is in trouble.” “If any of my people are in trouble.” He added trying not to give anything away. She had been talking but he hadn’t really heard what she had said. It could have been about the patronage or something else entirely he would have to find out later he thought as he hurried out the door and started looking for Tensleigh.

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Taia was not sure she understood the lion tamers reaction, the fool woman had just been told to be careful and instead she stormed out of the room like a child with a temper tantrum. Viktor went to the door and yelled outside. He made a move to follow the woman and Taia said quietly. "Stop." He did but then he insulted her. Outwardly she appeared angry, inwardly she was nearly laughing. It was clear to her now that the two, were well on there way to being in love. No wonder Tensleigh, she thought the woman's name was, left in a hurry. Viktor let Taia know she would have to be a patron of the Menagerie, and then he excused himself. Yes indeed the children were in love. Taia allowed herself to smile for a moment, she was glad that Miahna wasn't with her now. Miahna needed time with her new warder, Taia wasn't sure if Miahna would love this one, but she could always hope. Taia liked to see people in love, even if she herself was above such things. Men were good for bedding, and then of course protection. She had met a few who had been as sharp of mind as she was. One of her warders had been so, he was the closest she'd been to being in love. She still thought of him sometimes she glanced at the door and then took off her ring and put it back in her pouch. She put the cloak back on but left the hood down.


She looked around the wagon and then searched it. They HAD left her alone in there, what did they expect? She hadn't thought Viktor was the darkfriend, but she had to be sure. She found nothing in the wagon that would prove he was, she stood up from looking under the bed and decided she had done enough it was time to leave. She didn't pull the hood up, she just left the wagon. She walked through the camp seeing people sitting, and talking about the day and the performance. She sat down at a fire without being invited, there were mostly men around it she didn't think they would mind. They didn't, she smiled brightly at them all and let them know she was Sienna, and then joined in the conversation as though she belonged there. After awhile she asked about there time in Andor, and then about how one joined the Menagerie. They were very helpful. through a few questions she knew of at least four people who had joined in Andor, one of them was at the fire right then. He was short and fat, with light hair and a twinkle in his eye. He told her jokes that were very dirty, she laughed along with the others though. He wasn't the one she was looking for, unless he could suddenly become tall and muscular with dark hair She stood up after awhile and said she had to move on. They let her after asking if she was joining the Menagerie she laughed and said "What could I do other then maybe a dance or two." They smiled in interest but she shook her head. She walked away to another fire. She did that till most of the residents of the Menagerie had decided to go to bed. She had met several of the people who had come from Andor but not all of them. She prayed that the one she was searching for would not realize who she was and run. She didn't want to ride anywhere else but back to Miahna or the White Tower.


The next day she took care to make herself look like a patron of the Menagerie, she wore jewelry, braided her long hair with some extra finery, dressed up in a dark dress that showed off considerably more of her chest then most would feel comfortable with. She didn't mind the lower the cut the easier it was for her to wear a marriage knife, if she'd had one. She didn't but she did add a necklace to the outfit that sat in the hollow of her throat. It drew the attention up from her chest but only just. She had a pair of shoes that looked dainty, she hated wearing them they weren't practical outside the courts, but she needed to look the part. She sighed and put them on, she left her room after adding the cloak she'd worn last night. She caused a stir when she came down the stairs, she smiled brightly at everyone and regally told them to carry on she was just going out to find some entertainment. She made it to the Menagerie camp without causing too much of a stir. Her cloak hide most of her finery. When she appeared in the Menagerie news of her had spread the short fat man saw her first and called "Lady Sienna." She nodded to him and he told her the camp was buzzing with news of her. What was she here for, she sighed inwardly but outwardly said.


"I'm here to become a patron of course."


He looked her over and nodded, "be careful Lady Sienna some of the men we picked up in Andor seem a little dangerous." She widened her eyes, hopefully he thought she looked frightened.


"Really? Could you point them out to me?" He gave her another long look before he could answer she heard Viktor she sighed inwardly. He was talking to a small group of people not far away. The man she had been talking to said softly. "The man to Viktors right is one of the ones I warn you about." Taia looked the man over and nodded he fit the description. Now to just find out if he was the one. She walked toward the group and stood a little behind them watching the man she was hunting. He looked at her for a moment and then looked away, then he jerked his eyes back in surprise or interest Taia couldn't quite tell which. One of the others in the group saw her and smiled. "Lady Sienna! Have you come to dance for us?" She laughed she couldn't help it. "Good morning to you too, I am here to become a patron of this Menagerie." The man smiled back at her "Viktor will get that sorted then. He's our leader." Taia laughed again. "Yes I know I saw him last night." She winked, the group laughed she put a hand on Viktors arm.


"If we could get done with whatever I need to do in order to become one of your patrons and maybe have a moment of privacy." She dropped her voice to a more seductive purr when she said the word privacy. She spoke very softly to him as they walked away. "I believe I have found the man I'm here for." She paused and added "or one of them." She wasn't sure what she was going to do with more then one darkfriend. She couldn't take them back to the White Tower, she'd have to kill them. She'd had to do it before but she didn't relish the idea especially around such nice people. She told Viktor as much, as well as the suspicion of the man who had been in the group he had been talking to earlier. She ended by asking


"Can you fight? Will you? Can your members fight if they had too?"


Taia Misna

Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah.

Found the darkfriend.

Edited by Rasheta Ardashir
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The night air felt cool against her feverish skin. A soft breeze had picked up and golden curls were flying around her face as she stalked away. She reached a hand up to try and control them and then thrust it back down to her side with fury. It's not as if I can control how the wind blows my hair. It will go wherever it wants, so why should I try and fix it right now? Who cares what it looks like? It doesn't matter... Inane thoughts surrounding her hair kept running through her head as long strides carried her farther and farther away from Viktor's wagon and Viktor staring at the beautiful Aes Sedai with the striking red hair.


She was outside the ring of tents before she realized, sucking in a gulp of air as she slowed down. Tears had gathered in her blue eyes and spilled down her cheeks as she walked, though she just now became aware of their existence. A drop of water splashed on her left hand and Tensleigh lifted it up in wonder. She stared at the bead of moisture as if perplexed by how it appeared on her hand. Her mind felt carefully void of anything, as if she'd spilled out all her thoughts on the way and they hadn't caught up yet. A weight in her stomach told her that they would, however, and that when they did she wouldn't like it.


Standing in the middle of a small copse of trees, the lion tamer looked back at the menagerie. All the brilliant lights cast a glowing bubble about the tents and wagons. It was odd now to look at it from the outside, having spent all her life inside it. It looked unfamiliar and somewhat uninviting. Biting her lower lip, Tensleigh brushed a tangle of curls back from her forehead and gazed up into the sky. Her constellations were awaiting her there, stars twinkling brightly. Her eyes avoided the lion, it almost pulsing to the left. It would make her think of Viktor and she was trying not to at the moment. Those feelings were confusing and exhausting, and dangerous.


Sighing, she sat at the base of a small tree and hugged her knees to her chest like a small child. No matter how much she wanted to, she could not avoid thinking about Viktor. Her entire life felt tangled up in thoughts of him – probably because it was. For a long time now he had been her closest friend, confidante, and she had been his. She remembered the excitement they'd felt together after receiving the request to perform for the Queen. How she'd grabbed his hand and danced a few steps with him, laughing in earnest, before the glowing feeling had dulled and a blanket of awkwardness had tucked itself around them.


Staring forward, chin on her knees, Tensleigh forced her thoughts to linger on her friend instead of flitting away. It was more difficult than she remembered, for so long now she'd tiptoed around thoughts of him. In her mind, she pictured him – his intense eyes, full lips, and strong jaw fitting together in a handsome face, dark hair curling around it. It wasn't the ringmaster that she pictured, however, it was his face under starlight. The relaxed, real face that he rarely let anyone see. It was honest and bare, and terribly beautiful.


With the picture came a torrent of feelings, practically drowning her as she sat curled up tight against tree trunk. She tried to blink back the tears that surfaced, but they came forward in a rush, burning hot and dropping onto her bare knees. Her body shook with the force of her pent up feelings, wordlessly explaining to the world how she felt. All the while, the little tree stood stout behind her, supporting her as if it was all she had in the world. And perhaps it was now.


When she finished, Tensleigh wiped the sleeve of her outfit across her eyes in an attempt to steal the salt water from her lashes. Sniffling, she closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the tree, taking comfort in the solidness at her back. I love him, she thought sadly, and I've already lost him. How sadistic of the Wheel to have me figure it out now. Picking up a small twig, she tore pieces of the bark off of it until it was bare and then threw it aside to pick up another. After that omission, it felt good to have something basic to do with her hands.


She stayed there all night, waking in the morning to find herself stretched out beneath that small tree. Blinking sleep out of her eyes, Tensleigh realized that it was well past midmorning. They had a show this evening and she wasn't anywhere to be found. The poor wardrobe girls would be throwing a fit. It gave her a little thrill of pleasure to think of Viktor having to worry about his star performer being missing. Her heart ached at little, still, at the thought of losing him, but today was a new day and she was a big girl. Viktor was a part of the menagerie – the owner in truth – and she would have to deal with him. It was best for them both if she put her feelings aside and was just an act in the group. Besides, he was with someone else now. He didn't want her. She needed to keep reminding herself that.


Lifting her chin, Tensleigh marched out of the trees and into camp. On some level she knew she must look an outright mess – twigs in her hair, grass and bark clinging to her outfit – last night's performance outfit no less – but she stalked through with brazen confidence anyway. No one in his or her right mind would dare say anything to her when she looked like that. They knew enough of her temper. She was like her lions in that way. She could be gentle and soft the majority of the time, but get her riled up and that was another story.


Whipping around the corner of the main tent, Tensleigh jerked backward, almost crashing into the taut rope line. She stood there for a moment, trying to regain composure as she watched the scene in front of her. It was almost as if she was separated from herself and watching a play. In the middle of the camp stood the Aes Sedai, her coppery hair blazing in the sun and a large expanse of pale bosom exposed. Around her stood a group of menagerie members – some workers and some performers – and Viktor. Tensleigh moved forward a little bit, skirting around the edges of the tents so she was less likely to be seen, but extremely curious as to what was being said.


As she passed the group, Tensleigh picked up the tailend of what one of the men was saying, "Viktor will get that sorted then. He's our leader." The Aes Sedai laughed a throaty little laugh and then said conspiratorially, "Yes I know I saw him last night." She winked at them as she said so and the group laughed she put a hand on Viktors arm. The lion tamer felt like someone had kicked her in the stomach. This is going to be harder than I thought. Dredging up every ounce of willpower, she kept her chin up and continued walking, acting as if she wasn't aware of what was going on. Happily, anger started to win over her despair and she felt the flush of it fill her cheeks as the Aes Sedai dropped her voice to a seductive purr and led Viktor away.


Fine. Just because he flaunts his relationship does not mean I need to moon over him like some little lamb. I can do that too. Viktor, be prepared to miss what you never knew was yours. Squaring her shoulders, Tensleigh moved toward her wagon with a renewed sense of purpose.

Edited by keyholder21
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Viktor was exhausted as the camp stirred to life with the rising sun. He had gotten little sleep the night before. The Aes Sedai’s words had made him sick to his stomach with worry over Tensleigh. He had wandered through the camp and pounded on everyone’s door asking if they had seen Tensleigh or knew where she had been. Nobody had been able to help him and worse yet that goofy looking guy she had been talking to so sweetly had also disappeared.


At one point he wondered if she was trying to get back at him. In anger he had stalked half way to his wagon before he turned around. He couldn’t chance it. Maybe that is what was going on and he would give her a piece of his mind if that was the case. But if it wasn’t the case he couldn’t live with himself if he had given up and gone to bed.


That night and the next morning he saw the Aes Sedai talking with everyone in camp. He didn’t like the way she looked at everyone. They didn’t notice at all but he could see she was deciding if they were dark friends or not. Most of these people he had worked with for years and they were good people.


He saw her approach as he was giving instructions to a crew of men who helped setup the tents. He didn’t want to deal with her but her eyes had him pinned down. He stood in place and watched as she approached. He had to admit that she was stunning. It had been awhile since he had been blessed with such a beautiful patron. Had he been blessed with a more beautiful patron? There had been that one girl in Tear. Tensleigh had not been very fond of her either.


As if his thinking of her brought her around he saw her pop around a tent and then quickly disappear again. He saw her peek around the corner in what she assumed was a discreet manner. He kept a straight face though he was close to laughing. It was a good thing she was no spy. Was she cupping her hand to her ear to hear better?


Before he realized what what was happening the Aes Sedai was dragging him away asking him for a moment of privacy. His thoughts lost their focus as he watched her bosom rise and swell with each breath.


"I believe I have found the man I'm here for." She paused and added "or one of them."


He stared at her in shock.


"Can you fight? Will you? Can your members fight if they had too?" She asked.


“Are you trying to say there is more than one darkfriend here now Aes Sedai?” He growled. It was very difficult to control the level of his voice. “I walk in the light I swear by all hope I have of being reborn but you are starting to sound as crazy as a white cloak. These are good people.” He spun away in anger.


He halted after two steps and turned around.


“And will I fight?” He flashed her a smile. “This face is too valuable to risk injury but I’ll make sure you have the men you need.” Before she could say anything else he stalked away. His nerves hit him a moment later. What was he doing treating Aes Sedai like that. He must be crazy.


He stopped and asked Petero if he had seen Tensleigh. The man laughed and commented that it looked like she had had quiet the night. He had seen her in the same outfit from the night before and then he lowered his voice and leaned in closer to say she had twigs in her hair and it looked like she had been in quiet the tumble. He winked at the end to indicate he didn’t mean any type of fall. Viktor’s irritation flared as he left. Har har Petero very funny. Why don’t you go stick another knife in your shoulder you idiot. Better yet, let me do it for you.


Just then he saw Tensleigh talking to two of the crew. She was laughing and touching and teasing the men. She was actually holding one of the man’s hands and exclaiming on how big and strong and calloused it was and how she liked rough hands. Who actually said things like that? Really?

He watched dumbfounded as she moved through the camp flirting with one man and then the next. She flirted with young Hue who was barely 17 with the barest hint of a beard and even old man Grussel who was kept on more in sympathy then for anything he could contribute. He had been old even when Silas had taken over Silas had whispered once.


Viktor was beside himself. He had never seen Tensleigh act in such a way. He thought he knew her. He thought he was going to pull her aside and tell her how crazy he was becoming for her. But the words were dying in his mouth and all the fantasies he had built up were crumbling around him. In its place he was being overwhelmed by hurt and anger. Anger that she could leave him worrying all night and ignore him in the morning and then flirt with everyone else like she was without any other talents.


He turned away from her as he heard her rich laughter after some dumb comment from one of the fat, stinky men in the crew.

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The night sky was beautiful, as always, though the stars didn't seem to shine as brightly as they did before. Tensleigh sat cross legged on top of her wagon staring up at them. This was the third night in a row that she had crawled up here. If she had really wanted to admit it to herself, she was looking for Viktor. Not that she knew if seeing him or not seeing him would be better. Luckily, she was pretty good at locking out those kind of feelings, so she merely stared up at the stars and bolted with every noise that wasn't nature - diving into the bed in her wagon in a swift practiced motion.


Nights were ...easier though. Almost. Somewhat. At night she often didn't see Viktor. He had taken to retiring to his cabin earlier than usual – most of the time with the seductive Aes Sedai on his arm. It drove Tensleigh crazy, but at least then she could stop putting on a show. It got tiring and she had to get very creative with her refusals. It was ridiculous how many men took her silly flirting seriously. Some of the men she'd known her entire life actually expected her to join them in their cabins when the sun went down!


Not seeing him made the nights longer though. At least during the day she could steal glimpses when he was busy, her eyes caressing his handsome face. She was still angry at him for flaunting his relationship with the Aes Sedai all over the place, but that did not mean she couldn't admire him from afar. Of course she always became angry with herself afterward, reaffirming her vow to make him miss her despite never having had her in the first place. Those times were bad – even she knew they were – driving her to flirt with every male in the entire camp except for Viktor and Nico. She laughed at herself internally while she was doing it, but purred aloud instead. The men always reacted well to that, eyes lighting up and trailing all over her body. Every fiber of her being felt attuned to Viktor though, and she ached to know that he was paying attention. That he cared.


Sunlight streamed in through her window, waking the lion tamer abruptly. Blinking away the bleariness, Tensleigh realized that somehow in the night she'd fallen asleep, her door still slightly open and askew. Good thing I don't have anything of value in here! she shouted to herself. Plopping her head back down on the bed, she laid there for another minute before crawling out and standing up. It was another day. Dressing quickly in a lowcut top she had found in town the day before, Tensleigh pulled her hair back into two small tails on either side of her head and stepped out into the morning air. She shivered slightly, but rolled her shoulders and stepped down onto the ground.


Her heart betrayed her mind, the organ speeding up at the thought of seeing Viktor. Sighing at herself, she closed her blue eyes and forced it to calm down by walking through the exercises that Bo had taught her when she was young. You must have a clear mind to command lions, Tensleigh. she heard his voice say. Would it not be the same with men? hers echoed a moment later. Snapping her eyes open, she suddenly felt like a different person. In control instead of the mess she'd been for the past few days. Adjusting her skirt, she plastered a smile on her face and walked with the confidence she'd been lacking lately. Where was before it had been a mere illusion, today it was reality.


It apparently showed, too, or it was the shirt. It wasn't nearly as lowcut as what the Aes Sedai wore daily, but it was lower than she had ever worn before. Though she always received attention from the male crew members, they seemed especially attentive to her today. Smiling, she gave some of her attention to them all, including Hue with his baby face and Grussel with his wrinkles. Even Hue ignored the Aes Sedai when she walked by, his eyes rooted to Tensleigh. The lion tamer grinned at that, chalking up a victory point in her head. The Aes Sedai paid no mind, instead draping herself in almost an obscene way over Viktor's arms. Gritting her teeth, Tensleigh wrenched her eyes away and back to the men in front of her. She laughed as one of the crew said something about his muscles and carrying her entire wagon to put it by his. She put her hands around his bicep and squeezed, laughing as she did so. He flexed and made her laugh again.


A few moments later, she looked up for Viktor but he was gone. Excusing herself, she left the group and wandered toward her copse of trees. After she had passed the night there and fed the tree with her tears, she felt like it was her own. It stood a distance away, brilliant sun shining on the dense branches. Tensleigh kicked dirt up from the ground as she walked toward it, intent on her destination. So intent that she did not hear footsteps behind her as she reached the outskirts of the trees. She wasn't aware of the danger until a hand clasped the back of her neck, another clamped over her mouth and a blindfold was tied across her eyes.


Screaming against the meaty hand, the lion tamer lashed out with her hands and feet. Her fist connected with something squishy in front of her, announcing that her attacker had at least one partner; her foot slammed into the knee of the attacker behind her. The man – his hands felt like a man's – stumbled but didn't let go. Instead, he rammed her in the back of the knees with something hard and she dropped to the ground, biting her tongue in the process. A voice rumbled deep laughter as she fell; the blindfold fell off for a moment. One of the men leaned down to pick it up, but the other told him not to worry. Forcing her mouth open, he put the cloth between her lips instead, tying it tight enough that she couldn't close her mouth. She glared at him and swung her hand up, connecting hard with his gut. His eyes about popped out of his head and he stumbled backward, catching himself on a tree. The other moved toward her and she dug her nails into his cheek as hard as she could until he stopped advancing.


Tensleigh looked around, wild eyed, and started to scramble to her feet. She was on one bruised knee when something hit her in the head from behind. Blinking as her vision swam, she focused on her tree as tunnel vision began and eventually blackness washed over her.





ooc: edited to fix extremely short sentences. Also, apparently I added the wrong one, so I fixed it. I think it only changed a sentence or two.

Edited by keyholder21
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“Are you trying to say there is more than one darkfriend here now Aes Sedai?” He growled. It was very difficult to control the level of his voice. “I walk in the light I swear by all hope I have of being reborn but you are starting to sound as crazy as a white cloak. These are good people.” He spun away in anger.


Taia was annoyed, of course there could be more then one darkfriend, was he crazy! Darkfriends had to be hidden by someone! They were also masters of hiding who they really were, good people had been betrayed before by friends of the dark. He wouldn't be the first or the last one to be betrayed by someone he trusted. She just hoped she could stop them from killing anyone. She hated seeing innocents die, she was supposed to be a servant to all, and sometimes she and Miahna didn't make it in time. She was going to answer and had opened her mouth to call after him when he turned back and said.


“And will I fight?” He flashed her a smile. “This face is too valuable to risk injury but I’ll make sure you have the men you need.”


She bit back a smile, Viktor was far too defiant to her. She rather liked it, disrespect was not something that happened often, and unlike most of the Aes Sedai she found people who spoke there own minds refreshing. Although she would have to tell him to keep a civil tongue in his mouth when or if he ever came to Tar Valon, which she hoped he would. She had rather enjoyed the travelers show. She also was now a patron and it would not do if he didn't come to see the city of Tar Valon. She had work to do now that he left her alone though. She walked off to find some of the people she had talked to the night before.


Taia spent the next several days making friends in the Menagerie, all the men were happy to see her whenever she appeared. She sat and watched some of them get ready for there acts in the show. She giggled, smiled, and laughed at absurd jokes, and she gave a kiss to a winner in an absurd competition before a show. The man had blushed to his toes when she kissed his cheek. She had smiled brightly at him and he had said he would preform well for the rest of his life with such a pleasant memory to spur him on. Taia avoided Tensleigh it was clear the lion tamer did not like Taia much. Taia respected that, she was getting in the way of Tensleigh and Viktor's romance. Taia felt a little sad that they wouldn't be together as much because of her but what could she do? She had to find this group of darkfriends before they did something like kill the entire menagerie. Miahna would never forgive Taia if she let that happen. Taia had found the group of men who had joined in Andor, she spent some time with them but she had to be careful not to scare anyone away. So she kept up the appearance of a wealthy patron the Lady Sienna.


After a week Taia felt like she was ready to move and see who she could flush out. She went to the menagerie camp a little earlier then she usually would, and had dressed accordingly. She was ready for whatever she had a small dagger in her belt now and her clothes were better suited to run around if she needed to. Her dress was far less low cut then she usually wore and her shoes were sturdy. Her hair was still in a braid though it kept it out of her way. She found Viktor and took his arm. She heard Tensleigh's laughter behind her. Taia asked Viktor if he was ready in a quite voice and she added. "Its time to see who is going to need to die."


She followed Viktor for a moment then turned around and went back she had forgotten something. She came around the corner and heard a noise. Looking up she saw Tensleigh and two of the men from Andor in a group of trees. She almost looked away when something caught her attention Tensleigh was on the ground and one of the men was holding his face in pain. She started to run toward them. As she did she embraced the power and tied both men up in air flows there were two of the men she had been looking for. She cursed when one yelled "Aes Sedai" loudly. She stuffed air in his mouth too. She had been to focused on saving the lion tamer not stopping speech. She had made a mistake, hopefully it wouldn't cost her life or that of someone else.


She got to Tensleigh and knelt down delving her, the girl would be bruised but she was alive. Taia did healing as best she could, Taia was not a healer she could heal bruises and cuts but anything else and she couldn't help. She had lost her last warder that way, he had been to wounded if she could have healed she could have saved him as it was she'd had to watch him die. She pulled her mind away from that thought and wished for the third time she had a warder. This would be easier if she had. There was commotion around her now. Something was on fire and people were yelling. She stepped up to the nearest man and released him from air, before he could do anything other then breathe once she used her dagger to kill him. He was dead before hitting the ground.


She turned to the other man. He was looking at her with no expression. She knew he wouldn't be bothered by seeing her killing his comrade. She released his mouth and said quietly. "I am going to allow you a chance to kill me, I am Aes Sedai though so you had better make it quick. First tell me how many others are here." She didn't really expect an answer and when she only got insults and smug assurances that she would soon be dead she released him fully. He was not a total idiot he stood there for a moment and she threw him her dagger she hadn't cleaned it and the blood glistened as it caught the light. He didn't attack her at all he moved toward Tensleigh who was still on the ground. Taia moved between him and the girl and used boil to bring him down like an animal. She watched dispassionately as he died the blood boiled in his body. She picked up her dagger and cleaned it she turned around to see Tensleigh was awake. She wasn't sure if the other had seen her kill the man but from her expression it was possible. She knelt by her and said. "You will be okay child, I have saved your life. I must go now and help your man Viktor." She asked "Can you walk? If you can come with me, you need to be close so I can make sure you do not die. It would break Viktors heart if you did." Something passed through Tensleigh's eyes and Taia didn't comment on the emotion. She helped the other woman up and they started off through the camp.


Taia Misna

Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah.

Ready for battle

Edited by Rasheta Ardashir
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OOC: My apologize ladies for the delay




Viktor was getting used to having being in the company of Taia the Aes Sedai. The truth was she wasn’t that bad most of the time, when she wasn’t looking down her nose at everyone. He couldn’t really blame her when she did because she was not only Aes Sedai but also a very beautiful woman. He wasn’t Aes Sedai but sometimes he found himself looking down at people because he too was attractive. It wasn’t intentional but he could not deny that despite his best efforts it happened from time to time.


His mind still returned to Tens on a consistent basis. Her presence had been a constant comfort over the years. He had not realized how much comfort and pleasure he had gotten from being near her. Just seeing her smile had been a gift. Things were different now though, the only smile she offered him was a mocking one. He knew Taia caught him looking at Tens but the Aes Sedai did not say anything. There had been a slight twitch of her mouth once that hinted at a smile. He hadn’t understood that completely.


The Aes Sedai’s words startled him when she said, “Its time to see who is going to need to die.”


Is that how the White Tower was run? He had thought they stood for justice and integrity but somehow this sounded like murder. A chill ran through his spine. The sooner the Aes Sedai was gone the better. Maybe then he’d get a chance to make things right with Tens. He had accepted that as long as Taia around it would be impossible. The Aes Sedai kept hinting there was something between them to everyone though she had not touched more than his hand or shoulder. It was disappointing. Wait, that wasn’t the right feeling. He didn’t want her, well maybe only a little.


Suddenly he saw a fire ahead and broke into a run. It was one of the wagons. What was going on? People were panicking. He shouted orders telling people to get water and form up a line. He turned around to ask Taia if she could help but she wasn’t there. He looked around frantically. He didn’t see Tens either. His heart leapt into his throught and he was struck with crippling fear. What if the fire was a diversion to stirke at the Aes Sedai, or worse yet Tens? He saw one of the young boys of a performer and called him over and told him to go find Taia. Then he found a little girl and told her to look for Tensleigh.


The other wagons were quickly moved away from the one on fire before the fire could spread and a line was formed passing buckets back and forth between the well on the road and the wagon. The wagon was probably beyond repair but it could have been worse.


The young boy came running back and grabbed Viktor’s hand and pulled him along. Viktor broke into a run when the boy told him where they were. A minute later gasping and out of breath he reached the top of a hill and saw Taia with Tens. It looked like Tens has been attacked.


Suddenly there was only her and he ran to her and took her in his arms. Taia was saying something to him but he didn’t care. Tens hair was matted but she looked like she had not taken any serious injuries. She started to speak but before she could get a word out he took her head in his hands and kissed her. He wasn’t sure what had come over him or how she’d respond. He hadn’t thought it through like he always did but it felt right. It felt perfectly right.

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ooc: Rasi has asked me to bring in my Blue (that she has referenced) to ...help clean up the mess. In order to make it easier to discern what paragraphs are for who(m?), I've colored Miahna's blue and signed the character names at the end.


Furthermore, I'd write more, but I'm TIRED. Mimi will have a bigger part to play next time.




Tensleigh was sweet and warm, wrapped in a tight dark embrace, when the first shock came. She coughed, choking on blood that had gathered in her windpipe, feeling the harsh pain that came with it, before settling back into the black tendrils pulling at her. She almost sighed with relief, but another wave of blinding white pain slammed through her, causing a rush of harsh sounds to attack her ears. Groaning, the lion tamer followed instinct to bring her hands up, cradling her ears. The sweetness of the dark wore off and Tensleigh felt the rest of her senses rush back. Opening her eyes, she blinked several times as things came back into focus.


One of the men who attacked her lay dead on the ground, eyes staring unblinkingly past her. She stared at him numbly as she struggled to understand the scene. How had this happened? Had one of his comrades betrayed him? The lifeless body refused to answer her unspoken questions. Tearing her eyes from his, Tensleigh moved her head slightly against the tree trunk to look for the other man. The bark clung to her hair, but did not snag. Once again she felt grateful to the little tree. She wasn't sure if she could move anything other than her head. Oddly, her arms and legs felt fine. She had been sure they were going to bruise, a random thought that had passed through her head as she fought futilely against the darkfriends. Her head, thought, felt heavy, which it never had before, and she felt sharp pain in her chest whenever she breathed.


Her head complied enough to change her line of sight. It was then that she saw the Aes Sedai and the other man. They had obviously bandied words – his expression smug and hers grim – but Tensleigh didn't understand why he hadn't moved. A split second later, he stumbled slight and she understood. A chill rushed through her at the thought of the invisible strands that had held him. What a terrible power. she thought, invisible to all save those who wield it. No wonder so many fear Aes Sedai. Tensleigh's eyes widened as she realized that the man, now free, was stalking toward her. A scream welled up in her throat, but wouldn't move. All she could do was stare at him.


Waves of copper hair filled her vision as the Aes Sedai stepped between the darkfriend and her. The lion tamer blinked, straining to hear what was happening. She heard nothing, however, until the body dropped to the ground. She stared at it, another pair of lifeless eyes, before swinging her gaze back to the Aes Sedai. "You will be okay child, I have saved your life,” the woman said emotionlessly. Tensleigh just stared at her. “I must go now and help your man Viktor. Can you walk? If you can come with me, you need to be close so I can make sure you do not die. It would break Viktors heart if you did." Viktor. The sound of his name brought a different tightness to her chest. She groaned as Taia reached down to help her up, and stifled a gasp as pain rocketed through her. The Aes Sedai paused, but Tensleigh grimaced and shook her head, forcing herself forward. Taia was needed back at camp. Putting one foot in front of the other, they slowly trudged through the trees and into the chaos.


They hadn't traveled far when she placed her hand on the Aes Sedai's arm and pleaded wordlessly to stop. Breathing was difficult, her breaths getting shorter the more they moved. Taia stopped, staring at her. The face was serene, but Tensleigh could see worry in her green eyes. She coughed, trying to get more air, and felt less return. At this rate I won't make it up the hill. she thought woozily. Nodding to the Aes Sedai, she put her right foot in front of her left and started walking again.


A rush of wind on her face made the lion tamer look up suddenly. She felt strong arms wrap around her and a familiar smell invade her nostrils. Viktor. She felt giddy in her wooziness, trying to figure out if he was truly there or if she was simply too lightheaded from her injury. The Aes Sedai spoke off to her left, her voice climbing in insistency, but Tensleigh couldn't make out what she was saying. Perhaps she was upset that she'd just saved Tensleigh's life and now her toy had his arms around another woman. She choked out a small laugh and began a retort, but then there were hands on her heavy head and soft lips on hers.


Her body responded before her mind could instruct. Ignoring the pain in her chest as much as she could, Tensleigh leaned into his embrace and her mouth yielded under his. She kissed him back feverishly with all the pent up emotion of the past, snaking her hands around his waist to pull him flush to her.


And then there was pain. Crying out, she broke away from his mouth and stumbled back a step before blackness overtook her yet again.


Tensleigh Maer

internally injured





Beneath her, Tai’Mahdi's legs churned, the stallion breathing hard. He had worked hard since the Borderlands and had farther to go still. The Blue patted the dark hair on his neck before drawing her hand back up to the reins. Wind whipped around her face, staining her cheeks red. The force of it had long since knocked the hood of her cloak down. Thick twin braids of dark brown streamed out behind her, the tinkling of the tiny silver bells lost in the wind. There wasn't enough time to pull it up, to pull them back, as they sped down the road, leaving clouds of dust in their wake.


Beside her, on his own stallion, Grisham looked over with something akin to worry. Miahna spared him no glance, however, her face and mind intent on the task at hand. In the year since they had been Bonded, the Warder had learned most of her mannerisms, but he was still learning. And this sudden fervor was new to him. They had chased down many a darkfriend, even taken down groups together, but the Aes Sedai had never been so careless with her stallion, had never thrown aside the research to hit the road running. She knew he was confused, but she couldn't tell him anything other than a Sister was in trouble.


They sped toward Murandy as if the Dark One himself was on their heels. Perhaps he was.


Miahna "Mimi" Sedai

Blue Badass coming to save Taia's hide

Edited by keyholder21
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Taia walked through the camp quickly, she paused to allow Tensleigh to catch up. The Menagerie members were running around putting out the fire, or was it fires? Taia wasn't sure she needed to find Viktor and see what had happened, and where she could help. One man saw her and Tensleigh and pointed toward another part of the camp. She assumed Viktor would be there. It was helpful at least she wouldn't have to wander around the camp and try and find him. That could make her loose precious time where she could be helping to stop fires, or keeping people from being killed by darkfriends. She had killed two but there were at least two more that she knew of. She felt bad that she could not do healing if it was required, if only Miahna were here she would be able to handle the healing while Taia did what she had come to do. It was no use dwelling on that however, she had other things to concern her. She glanced back at Tensleigh and slowed her pace a little more. Tensleigh had not spoken to Taia more then to say she was alright. Taia wondered if the girl still hated her for the fact that she had spent a lot of her time with Viktor. If the situation hadn't been so dire she would have been amused by all this, as it was she just found it annoying. Neither of them had fully understood the situation and had treated it lighter then they should have. In part Taia thought Tensleigh could have saved herself some trouble if she had taken Taia more seriously. Neither Tensleigh or Viktor would like hearing that however, and Taia didn't have time to argue that reasoning. There were still two people she had to account for. She focused on finding Viktor.


Taia and Tensleigh found Viktor a moment later and the first thing he did was kiss Tensleigh. Taia tried to get them to understand. "There are still two more people unaccounted for, it is still dangerous here." Neither were listening and Taia sighed more annoyed. She was about to do something drastic like use air to pull the two apart when Tensleigh fainted, she crumpled to the ground and Taia was not fast enough to get to her before Viktor. Taia had to shove him out of her way in order to get close enough to the lion tamer in order to delve her and find out what was wrong. She sighed and sat back on her heels and looked up at Viktor. "I'm sorry, I cannot help her, make her comfortable as best you can. Say goodbye." Something close to rage passed through Viktors face and she knew he was going to demand she do something for the lion tamer. Taia forestalled him, by holding up a hand and saying in a quiet voice. "I cannot help her Viktor, I am not a healer. You have other responsibilities now, would you let the Menagerie be destroyed and more die because you were here with Tensleigh?" She stood up and said "I will try and help as best I can. Get her comfortable and then see to your company." She caught the nearest man and said "Find somewhere to put Tensleigh that is comfortable and safe. Also bring a few more men to help move her." The man looked at her funny and noticed that Viktor was still a little shocked and nodded.


Taia needed to find the two unaccounted for darkfriends she looked down at the couple on the ground and waited impatiently for the return of the men in to move Tensleigh. When they came back she gave them orders again, find somewhere to put the lion tamer and then keep her safe. She added to call on a healer if they had one or the towns wise woman if they didn't. Maybe there was something the other woman could do that Taia could not. She then left and began to help around the camp as best she could. For several hours she was kept busy helping put out fires, healing the injuries that she could. Telling people to go see a wise woman or the menagire healer if she couldn't. She even used her skill with air to hold a wagon up so people could pull a frightened woman out from under it. Taia was very tired by the time the sun was going down. She pushed hair out of her face and wanted to make it back to the room in the inn so she could get a bath. She began walking to check on both Viktor and Tensleigh when she heard someone mention that an imposing man with strange clothes and a woman with him were looking for the leader of the Menagerie. Taia wondered about that, could it be Miahna? She turned her attention to finding them. She walked down the center of the camp and saw the best sight she could have seen. It was Miahna and her warder. He was wearing his fancloth which let him blend into the shadows caused by the twilight. Taia nearly fainted with relief at seeing her friend. She had better send Mia to see Tensleigh before Viktor got too much more frantic. As she thought this Viktor appeared and Taia went to him. She nodded to her friend and said "Viktor that is Mia she can help Tensleigh." Something like relief washed over his face.


Taia stopped herself from running down the length of the camp and hugging Mia. She hadn't done anything like that since she was a Novice and she wasn't about to start now, no matter how glad she was to see her friend. She did wave and Miahna waved back.


Taia made her way toward her friend, her steps were a little slower then usual. She didn't get far before someone else stepped in front of her. She had time to registrar that the man in front of her was one of the ones she had been looking for, before she felt something like pressure on her stomach. She widened her eyes in surprise and heard something like "Die Aes Sedai" Before long the pain hit and she screamed. She put both hands over her stomach as he pulled the knife free, Taia fell to the ground and heard her name being called, but it was though it was a long way away. Her last thought before her world went black were "I'm sorry Mia I have failed you."


Taia Misna

Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah.

Left for dead

Edited by Rasheta Ardashir
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Viktor lost himself in his kiss with Tensleigh. He had wondered in the past how it might be to press his lips to hers and feel her in his arms but this was beyond anything he could have imagined. She kissed him back and with as much passion as he felt. It was startling but wonderful.


Just as quickly as it had happened it stopped. And he knew instantly that something was wrong. He pulled away from the kiss to look at Tensleigh and she crumpled. He grabbed her in his arms quickly and gently laid her down and looked more closely at her.


He had been wrong. He had thought she was ok. She was with an Aes Sedai, surely the woman would have tended to any injuries she had. But she did not look ok, she looked on death’s doorstep. He looked up at Taia desperately and heard her telling him to say goodbye.


Goodbye! His nerves were already raw from the all the emotions he had been going through but those words sent anger flooding through him. How could she just say such final words so calmly. She wasn’t even trying. She couldn’t have been doing all that it was possible for her to do.


He opened his mouth to demand, to beg, to plead that she do something, anything for Tensleigh. She stopped him though and in her eyes he saw the truth of things. There was nothing more that she could do. Then she was telling him to make her comfortable and take care of his company.


Well his company could go into the darkest depths of Shayol Ghul for all he cared if he lost her. He called for men to get Tensleigh and take her immediately to his cabin and then he stalked off looking for the healer. Just because the Aes Sedai couldn’t do anything didn’t mean he couldn’t find someone else who might be able to help.


The company would have to take care of itself. How much instruction did they really require anyways. There is a fire. You put it out. It was as simple as that. Multiple fires, well then you simply repeat the putting out procedure until there were no more fires.


He thanked the light that he was able to find the healer so quickly. She was a withered old, bitter lady named Rhala. She grabbed her things though and went as quickly as she could when he called upon her. She cared for her patients. She fought the dark one tooth and nail from taking them and she was fierce.


He tried to stay inside the wagon to watch over Tensleigh. She looked so terrifyingly weak. He still did not know what had happened. Rhala ordered him out saying that he would only get in the way and he didn’t want to be the reason she didn’t do her job.


He paced around his wagon with a scowl on his face not paying attention to the people runing around him. He knew he was suppose to. He knew they needed him but he couldn’t. He couldn’t think about anything else other than Tensleigh.


He looked up and saw Taia walking. He was behind her but if he hurried he could catch up to her. She was walking towards a woman and man he had not seen before. Suddenly he saw the man’s cloak and recognized him as a warder which meant the woman had to be an Aes Sedai. Light bless his soul. How was he going to deal with two Aes Sedai. He had almost caught up to Taia when one of his men stepped in front of her and stabbed her as he screamed at her to die.


Viktor was closer than the warder or the Aes Sedai. He ran and lunged at the man before he could stab Taia a second time but she was already falling to the ground. Her hands were holding her stomach and they were covered in her own blood. He wrestled with the man for an instant, both fighting over control of the knife. He had never fought before but there was an anger that burned in him that gave him strength. Somehow this man was linked with what had happened to Tensleigh.


Before he knew what had happened he was alone on the ground. The warder or the Aes Sedai had delt with the man and the woman was crouched of Taia now. He hurried to her side.

“Please tell me there is something you can do for.” He breathed as he looked down at the Aes Sedai. If he was honest he had grown a little fond of the Aes Sedai over the time she had spent with him. She was a little rough around the edges and she surely was not Tensleigh but he didn’t want anything to happen to her either.

Edited by Arinth
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ooc: Sorry for the wait you two. Hopefully this post makes up for it a little!




Clouds of reddish brown dirt were left in their wake as two black stallions raced south, lather beginning to gather on their dark coats. Astride each was a grim faced rider, reins held tightly in their hands, eyes focused on the horizon. Behind one, a color changing cloak flapped in the wind, occasionally blending in with the background. Behind the other, a dark blue cloak also shifted, as well as a pair of dark brown braids with tiny silver bells at the end. The travelers appeared not to notice, or care about, any of the surroundings. There was one purpose, two possible outcomes, and not a moment to lose, so they galloped on.


Noticing her death grip on the reins, the woman relaxed her grip slightly and released a bit of rein. It would not serve any purpose for her to irritate the stallion. They had rode for days and had hours to go still. Shifting in the saddle, the Blue forced her mind to slow down, grabbing the thoughts that tried to flit around and shoving them into a more measured pace. Her mind cooperated, though her heart did not. The bloody thing felt like it was going to beat out of her chest. She knew that Grisham could feel the anxiety in her – for it was rising in him too - but he wisely said nothing. Perhaps he is learning after all...


As she stared out at the horizon, thinking about it for the first time, the Blue realized she could not explain the sudden fear that had appeared in her chest days ago. They had crossed the border into Kandor when a piercing feeling had taken root in her sternum. It had stopped her in her tracks, a crippling sense of dread, leaving Grisham to knot his eyebrows and stare at her with curious worry. She had blinked, feeling the dread settle into her and immediately snapped back into motion – only this time heading south. Giving the bare minimum of words to her Warder, the Aes Sedai had instructed him to head toward Andor as if their lives depended on it.


As they had hit Andor, the feeling had grown heavier, as if it was soaking her very bones. A quick trip to the city had proven that the menagerie, and Taia, had already moved on. Almost as if the other woman was North on a compass, Miahna felt drawn to the South. Grisham found a few men that had worked for the show while it was in Andor and they confirmed the direction. The menagerie had set out toward Murandy. Flaming woman. If you get yourself killed...I swear I will kill you myself. They had set out that same day.


Different movement to her left brought the Blue back to the present. The Gaidin had quickened his stallion slightly, moving ahead to scout the path. Not that there would be much time between what he found and when she arrived there, if he did indeed find something, but she supposed it was better than being ambushed. It was also something normal for the Warder to do, something calming and routine for him as she sped them into unfamiliar territory. Staring at his back for a moment, Miahna realized that she was becoming used to having a Warder again. It was a strange habit to get back into, but as his form became smaller and then disappeared in front of her, she found that she was more comfortable heading toward this danger with someone at her side.


Annoyed at the lack of scenery change, the Aes Sedai embraced Saidar. Colors leapt at her from all around as each Sense improved from holding the One Power. She narrowed her eyes toward the horizon, yearning to see more, but nothing ever changed. The road, hills, trees, remained the same.


Until it didn't.


Grisham galloped back to her, the lather on his stallion thicker. Glancing down, Miahna realized that that was true for Tai'Mahdi as well. A thin layer of white foam had long since appeared on his neck, and was becoming thicker with every long stretch of road. She felt terrified for a moment, so much was relying on these warhorses, but she grasped it firmly and strangled the thought. Do not get ahead of the moment, she scolded herself. She prepared a Healing weave, when the Warder said something. The sound of a human voice startled her – had it really been that long since they had spoken to one another? Looking up, she cocked an eyebrow and stared at him. He yelled it again. “The camp is right over that hill!”


And so it was. As they crested the hill, the capital of Murandy was displayed in all its glory. The menagerie camp appeared small next to the city, but was splayed on a stretch of land to the northwest corner. Miahna sucked in a breath as she saw smoke and the orange of flames licking into the sky. Next to her, Grisham nodded and together they leaned over the necks of the stallions and rode at a neck breaking speed toward the tents. She took another moment to pat Tai'Mahdi's neck and promised some Healing and lots of apples to follow their arrival.


The camp was in chaos as she and Grisham halted their horses and hopped down onto the ground. Ignoring the dark feeling within her, Miahna strode up to the closest person and asked for leader of the menagerie. Surely he would know where Taia was, as the Green was unlikely to travel unnoticed with the group. “The easiest way for her to stick around without inquiring minds would be to become a patron,” she relayed to Grisham as the Warder cast a puzzling glance, “and the owner would know where his or her patrons are.” The woman was hysterical, and pointing around at the fires. She pleaded for Miahna to put them out. Miahna gave her an exasperated look, pulled some water out of the air and dropped it on the fire. She stepped away for the woman could say anything. She needed to find Taia.


They walked up to another person. He was calmer, but still had no idea where the owner was. Miahna forced her face to stay serene as they asked another, and another. Finally someone claimed they saw him head toward a copse of trees to the east, trailing after the Lady Sienna. “That has to be her,” she told Grisham. People were screaming around her and Miahna weighed her choices momentarily. I cannot ignore this any longer, she thought with grim determination. I will fix this and then find Taia.


Calling the attention of those around her with a simple amplifying weave, the Aes Sedai ordered the people to split up into groups. The group on the left would get water to put out the fires, the group in the middle would check for those wounded and take them to a centralized location, those that were animal handlers would go comfort their animals, because they would be more confused and upset than half of the humans and the rest would serve to begin getting everything back in order. As she ended the weave and dismissed them, the groups set out and the tension dropped. Grisham opened his mouth to ask about something when Miahna spotted Taia. Relief washed over her, so strongly that it nearly whited out her vision for a moment. The Green waved toward her and she waved back, careful to keep appearances and not appear too eager on the outside, but bouncing with excitement on the inside. She's fine. She's okay. Why the dread then?


The next moment seemed to go in slow motion. Taia began walking toward Miahna and Grisham when someone stepped into her path. Knitting her brows, the Blue took a few steps to the left and toward the man between her and her friend. As her foot hit the ground on her third step, she saw the glint of a blade and heard Taia scream. Nearly screaming herself, she ran toward the Green. The assilant took off due west and Miahna screamed incoherently at Grisham to go after him. She didn't realize that he'd already took off after the man.


Swearing under her breath, the Blue dropped heavily to her knees next to Taia's unconscious body. Someone was talking to her, but she ignored him. She Delved her quickly, aware of the dark stain that was spreading too fast on the green fabric. The slice was deep and had punctured an organ. Gritting her teeth to keep the tears away, Miahna wove Air, Water, and Spirit together in a thick rope and fed it through the slice into Taia's body. The strands wrapped around the edges of the slice, repairing the flesh as they did so. Several heartbeats later, the Blue sagged in relief as Taia's pale skin was once again whole and unmarred. With a quick kiss on the Green's forehead, Miahna stood up and raced toward her Warder. She knew Taia would have understood. And done the same thing herself.


Mimi found Grisham a moment later, grappling with two large men. One carried a long dagger; the other a sword. Though the Warder had trained for multiple opponents, the man with the sword seemed evenly matched in skill. He and the Gaidin circled each other as the man with the dagger snuck in for a few strikes on Grish's side. Growling in anger, the Blue snatched him up in Air and forced a thick block down his throat, through his esophagus, ribs, lungs, and out. His body crumpled to the ground, blood seeping from the gaping wound. She glanced at the body as it fell and then turned her attention to his partner.


The Warder was holding his own, but the small cuts the dagger had caused were slowing him down. The Darkfriend circled him, a smirk on his face, energy and body hale. Miahna narrowed her eyes and sharpened a thread of Air. She prodded it toward him, blood blossoming on his trousers from said cuts. She called out for him to stop, only to no avail. When another request was denied, not even acknowledged, she wrapped the razor thin piece of Air around him and snapped it taut. Bright red blood dribbled out the corner of his mouth as he collapsed.


Grisham stared at the body and then whipped his head around to stare at her. She felt admiration, surprise, and a little horror through the Bond. He scrubbed a hand over his face, sheathed his sword, and walked toward her, still silent. Miahna mulled over his emotions in her head as they walked back to the center of camp. Weariness began to set in as the adrenaline wore off. Her steps were slower, shorter, as they walked, until eventually she was leaning on the Warder. He supported her easily; she noticed that the horror was gone as soon as she needed help. They would have to talk about that later. They needed to talk about it later, but for now rest was in order.


The camp was well in order as they returned to the center. Wisps of smoke still rose occasionally from a blackened wagon or tent, but there were no more flames. Miahna sighed tiredly as Grisham guided her to the steps of a wagon and she bent to sit. A deep voice rumbled behind them, however, and the Blue stood up. A large man looking a bit worse for wear, introduced himself as Nico. He thanked the Aes Sedai and her Warder for their assistance, but requested that she provide one more act of kindness if she was able. There was a young girl, someone he thought of as a daughter, that was dying in another wagon. “I saw what you did for the Lady Sienna. Please, Aes Sedai, Heal Tensleigh. Irene and I could never have children...she's so young.”


Closing her green eyes and opening them slowly, Miahna nodded tiredly and motioned for him to take her there. Grisham tightened his hand on her upper arm in warning, but she gave him a stern glare and he made no vocal argument. Together they crossed the camp center to find a wagon with a young girl laying on the bed, flesh almost white and chest barely rising. A withered old woman sat in the corner, chewing on her nails. She jumped up as Mimi climbed into the cabin. “Peace old woman,” was all Miahna said. Stepping to the edge of the bed, the Blue drew on the remaining strength she had and Delved the girl. Internal bleeding and pierced lung left her with only another hour at most to live. Gritting her teeth, the Blue once again wove together thick strands of Air, Water, and Spirit to Heal. She laid them on the girl and as she repaired her to full health, the Aes Sedai stumbled backwards, catching herself against the door. “Make sure she has plenty of sleep, and she will be ravenous when she wakes up.” With that, the Blue stepped out of the cabin and nearly fainted with exhaustion in her Warder's arms.


“That's it. I'm commandeering a wagon and you are sleeping.” He told her forcefully, one hand wrapped around her waist and the other holding her arm over his shoulders.


For once she didn't protest.



Miahna Telonne

Blue Aes Sedai

You don't want to get her mad



Tensleigh felt pain, and then nothing. Shifting on the bed, blankets soft beneath her, she opened her eyes. The ceiling was a beige color, not the dark blue that she'd painted hers long ago. Perplexed, she shifted her head to the side and looked around. This wasn't her wagon. Her blue eyes blinked rapidly, trying to rid of the blurriness of sleep when they latched onto something, well, someone in the corner. Viktor sat on a stool, dark eyes staring straight at her. He jumped a bit when her eyes connected to his and he stood up, knocking over the stool in the process.




Tensleigh Maer

No longer fatally injured

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Taia woke up slowly, she opened her eyes and stared up at the ceiling of one of the wagons. The ceiling of the wagon was a dark brown, she frowned and thought, "how had she gotten here?" The memories of the past, was it a day? She had no idea how long she had been unconscious. The memories were fuzzy she looked down and noticed she was still wearing the dress she had worn earlier. She could tell the skin under it was smooth she had been healed, she sat bolt upright. MIA! Miahna was here and had seen Taia get stabbed, which was probably the only reason she was still alive. Was Mia okay? Taia's stomach growled then and she noticed that beside her was a tray with food, she ate everything on it without really tasting it. She wanted to get out of the wagon and find Mia her friend had better be okay. She'd kill her herself if Mia had done anything stupid.


When she was done she stood up slowly, and made her way outside the menagerie was fairly calm in comparison to the day before, or was it several days? Taia needed information a short distance away she saw Grisham disappearing into another wagon. He would be able to tell her what happened if Mia couldn't. Taia moved as quickly as she could through across the camp, people wanted to thank her for everything she had done earlier when the camp was in trouble. Taia tried to smile but it must have come out as a grimace because the people moved off quickly. She wasn't trying to be rude, she liked people and wanted to converse with them as much as possible. Just right now she needed to see Mia, her friend had healed her and who knew what else had happened. If Mia was hurt Taia would personally kill every darkfriend she found by any means necessary if that meant bonding the tower and taking them to the gates of Shayol Ghul itself she would do it. Grisham came back out of the wagon and stopped when he saw Taia. He took in her appearance and she knew she didn't look her best, but she didn't care just then. "Hows Mia?" She asked.


He answered "She's sleeping. I left her dinner." Taia nodded and then went into the wagon. Mia was indeed sleeping, Taia couldn't help it she delved Mia just to make sure the other was alright. When she was satisfied that she was Taia kissed Mia on the forehead and whispered "thank you my sister for saving my life." Taia's own family hadn't been friendly to her, she'd never had sisters or brothers she was close too. Mia was the closest she had and she thought of her as a sister. If Mia had been awake Taia would never have said it but she was safe for the moment. She stood up and moved back outside. She sat down on the steps and got Grisham to tell her everything that had happened the previous day, she had been asleep for a full day. When he told her that Mia had killed the men Taia smiled. "A battle worthy of the Green Ajah." She commented Grisham didn't comment on that but Taia saw his mouth twitch in a near smile. He added that Mia had healed the lion tamer, that was good Viktor would be happy that his love was alive. Taia would have to stir things up a little before she left, but for now she was happy for them. She heard Mia move around and shortly later the door opened. Taia stood up and nodded to Mia keeping her face as calm as she could. "I was worried you had been hurt as well, Grisham tells me you are fine though." Mia gave her a "you are surprised look." Taia laughed "I shouldn't be surprised you have a warder for protection. He preformed well he tells me." Grisham did crack a smile then, Taia was unsure if he was used to her teasing or just humoring her. She was going to continue speaking when Grisham nodded toward the other end of camp. Viktor and Tensleigh were coming toward them. Taia moved next to Mia, if they were both wearing there shawls it would have been impressive now she was not sure it looked like much more then two disheveled women standing with a warder. It probably looked a little comical but Taia didn't let her calm slip. She addressed Tensleigh first.


"I see you are recovered Tensleigh I am glad." She then looked to Viktor "I am told you also helped me after I was hurt. Thank you it was very brave of you. Have you ever thought of being a warder?" Taia saw Mia trying to resist the urge to roll her eyes such antics were normal for Taia. Taia shrugged and addressed her friend "it never hurts to ask."


Taia Misna

Green Aes Sedai

Asked the wrong question.

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Things had gotten ugly when the dark friends had made an attempt on Taia’s life. He had backed out of the way when the new Aes Sedai had focused on healing Taia. He felt helpless which was an unusual feeling. Looking to help in some way he had thought to join the warder fight but it was clear from the way the two were fighting that they were both much better than he was and he did not want to get in the warder’s way.


When he saw the Aes Sedai leave Taia’s side and join her warder he moved closer to Taia. He looked down at her and was astonished to see that all signs of the knife had been healed. She was still unconscious though. He took her in his arms and picked her up trying his best to ignore how beautiful she was. She looked like she was merely sleeping now. He hoped that she would be ok. He found a wagon nearby and kicked out Ollen the acrobat who lived there. He laid her down on the small bed and tried to make her as comfortable as possible.


He had heard somewhere that the healing of an Aes Sedai left one needing to eat like they hadn’t eaten in a month and so he called for someone to bring food and someone else to watch her door. He had been wrong about the dark friends. This was his fault. He had been to stubborn to believe that there could be dark friends in his menagerie and now Tensleigh and Taia were the ones paying the price for that. He felt sick. He would have stayed until Taia woke up but he felt pulled back to Tensleigh. If this new Aes Sedai was able to heal Taia then just maybe she could help Tensleigh as well.


He rushed out of the wagon searching for her. He found Nico already talking to her and directing her towards Tensleigh. He caught up with them as they entered the wagon. The warder almost stopped him from entering the wagon until he remembered seeing Viktor grapple with the dark friend. Viktor was relieved when the man let him pass. He couldn’t have imagined how he would have gotten past him otherwise.


He entered quietly and waited to the side. The Aes Sedai was so focused on her work that she had not even noticed him. Finally after what seemed an eternity though it could not have been more than mere seconds she stepped back and instructed the old healer woman on how to take care of Tensleigh. Then she had slumped exhaustedly into her warders arms. Grisham had appeared just in time and quickly carried her away.


Viktor again called for more food, this time for Tensleigh and sat down at her side holding her hand. He thanked the old woman for everything she had done but his thoughts were so focused on Tensleigh that he did not even hear the old woman say fare well.


He was exhausted. So much had happened. He had finally accepted that he had to let her know how he felt about her after fighting it for as long as he could remember. And then, well and then she had kissed him back and he felt incredible. Then she had collapsed and he had been afraid he would lose her forever. He was still shaky from that very thought.


But now the Aes Sedai had come and there was reason to hope. He prayed to the creator to allow him to keep Tensleigh. He promised to take good care of her. He would do anything as long as he could keep her. He saw her shift in the bed and looked up with his breath caught in his chest. He saw her eyes flutter open and struggle to focus. And then she was looking at him. He jumped up and the stool fell over unnoticed at his feet. He rushed forward and grabbed her hand. He smiled and kissed her hand and then without thinking he kissed her forehead and her lips.


He stepped back quickly after doing so. It had felt wonderful to kiss her, but it still felt awkward too. He was used to restraining himself. Would she even remember their earlier kiss? At the time he had assumed since she was with Taia that she was ok, but now he knew that she had been severally injured at the moment he had kissed her.


He stood awkwardly at the side of the bed trying to prepare himself that he might be rejected or that he might have to explain himself when her food came. He gladly grabbed the tray and pushed it towards Tensleigh.


“Eat. Eat. You’ve been healed by an Aes Sedai. You need to get your strength back.”


She looked at him with a question in her eyes but she took the tray. It was clear that she wanted to address the situation. Her mind was racing. She took the a piece of food off the tray, probably more to stall than to actually eat it.


Before he knew what he was doing though he grabbed her hand and when she looked up at him he leaned in and kissed her again. This time he kissed her long and forcefully. When they finally broke apart from their kiss he leaned back and looked at her.


“I should have done that a long time ago.” He said.

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  • 2 weeks later...

ooc: sorrrrry about the wait!!!!!


The light streaming into the cabin gave the impression that it was midday. Briefly, Tensleigh wondered how long she had been asleep. Thoughts flitted through her mind, curious as to what had happened to the camp and the strange Aes Sedai that had attempted to save her. She tried to bite her lip, finding the motion oddly unfamiliar. Her light eyes stayed locked on Viktor's dark pair, however, as he stood up and rushed forward toward her. She struggled to sit up, but to no avail. Her body felt weak. Whole, but weak, and she settled back down into the bed. Blood rushed to her cheeks as she realized that it was his bed, completing the blush as he grabbed her hand and smiled down at her.


Thoughts of her attack and the camp fled as she watched him motionlessly. She was afraid to breathe, terrified that whatever was happening would stop. He lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed it, lips pressing softly against her cool skin. Tensleigh drew in a breath and blinked, searching his face for a sign that would tell her how to take this attention. Her gaze had moved down to their joined hands, hers looking small in his, when he leaned forward to press his lips against her forehead tenderly and briefly – oh so briefly – kiss her.


Giving her no time to react, to reciprocate the kiss, Viktor stepped back quickly and looked at her with concern. Tensleigh felt her heart begin to slow from the frantic beating that had begun at the touch of his lips. Don't fool yourself girl, it's just relief. You are his closest friend and you went through a traumatic ordeal – almost died – and he's glad you are alive. Nothing more. Letting out a breath, she jerked her head to the side and stared at the wall. Her face would betray everything she felt and she couldn't afford to let him see that. She couldn't bear the thought of not seeing him everyday, or worse, that he would look at her with pity. Blinking back tears, Tensleigh gathered her pride and wrapped it around her like a blanket.


Gritting her teeth, she inched her way up the cabinet behind the bed until she was in a sitting position. Someone, she couldn't see who, was handing Viktor a tray of food at the door. The menagerie owner thanked the person and shut the door, turning back to look at her. He practically shoved the tray at her, nearly toppling the food over, and she frowned slightly.


“Eat. Eat. You’ve been healed by an Aes Sedai. You need to get your strength back.” She consented, taking the tray, but her eyes remained on his face. She felt ravenous, especially with food near. The whole in her stomach left her feeling hungry enough to eat the entire camp's worth of food, but her craving for Viktor outweighed the hunger. Tensleigh felt as if she were on a giant ladder, going up three rungs only to drop back down four. Why had his demeanor changed so suddenly?


A fleeting thought almost paralyzed her – did he blame her for what happened? Was he going to kick her off the show? Out of the menagerie? Her hands started shaking slightly and she took a piece of bread off the tray to cover it, mind racing. What would she do? She would lose everything in one fell swoop...


Another touch on her hand quieted her nerves and she turned to stare at Viktor, his fingers curled through hers. His eyes, dark liquid brown, caught her blue when she turned and his leaned in to press his lips against hers again. It wasn't friendly this time, his mouth hard on hers, asking silently for more. Her mouth yielded under his and she kissed him as she had before she'd collapsed, pouring years of pent up feelings into it. Her free hand pushed the tray away and snaked up behind his head, tangling in his dark hair and pulling him to her. Tensleigh felt the butterflies give way to the burning heat of desire.


Viktor broke the kiss shortly after, breathing hard. He leaned back and looked at her, for once his hands not immediately reaching up to smooth his hair. “I should have done that a long time ago.” He said, hand reaching toward hers. She reached her other hand up to her mouth and pressed it against the swollen lips for a moment before she smiled at him. He smiled back, brilliant teeth gleaming in the sun and they stared at each other for a prolonged moment, savoring the culmination of years worth of want.


“I think I've loved you since you first told me about the stars,” she blurted into the quietness, flushing at timing – and feeling – of her statement. Averting her eyes, Tensleigh stared at the tray, the sight reminding her of her hunger. Her stomach growled loudly and she gave a little chuckle, reaching forward with her empty hand to grab a piece of bread.


Tensleigh Annika Maer

In luuuurve



- - -


Groggily, Miahna stared at the ceiling above her. There were several crystals on strings hanging from the top, casting faint rainbows about the room in the waning daylight. Lifting herself up onto an elbow, the Blue shook her head in an attempt to reorient herself with her surroundings. Memories of ripping apart the darkfriends, saving Taia and the young girl had a fuzzy quality to them, almost as if they had occurred months or years ago rather than earlier in the day. It was earlier in that day, right? Staring at the high windows, the Aes Sedai attempted to discern whether she'd slept hours or days, but she couldn't tell.


Her body screamed as she flung her feet over the side and stood up. The weariness in her bones told her that it had been hours rather than days. And reminded her that she was a hundred years old. Good, I would hate to lose that much time. She rubbed a hand over her face and stood, head bumping into one of the crystals. Apparently whoever lived in this cabin was shorter than Mimi's 5 foot 8 inch frame. Frowning at the little thing, the Blue sidestepped and knocked into another one. She would have laughed were she not so tired. But darkfriends did not stop for her to sleep, and there were more of them out there. Always more of them out there. Ducking, the Aes Sedai made her way to the door and stepped out.


Taia, looking healthy and hale sat on a pair of steps with Grisham leaning on a railing to her right. Both sets of eyes snapped to the door as Mimi stepped out and the Green stood. She nodded to Mimi, her face a mask of Aes Sedai serenity but her eyes worried. "I was worried you had been hurt as well, Grisham tells me you are fine though." The Arafellion looked at her friend, realizing that the Green hadn't known she'd Bonded a new Warder. Taia laughed, tossing her head back as she did so. "I shouldn't be surprised you have a warder for protection. He preformed well he tells me." Miahna cocked an eyebrow at Grisham and he cracked a small smile, surprising her. How Taia gets these reactions from men, I've no idea.


Stepping down from the wagon, Miahna smoothed back some dark hair that had come free from her dual braids and looked at her Warder. Her green eyes followed his gaze to the other end of the camp and she saw the young girl she'd Healed walking with a young man. “They both survived Miahna,” Grisham said in his monotone, his eyes shifting back to the cabin she'd just left, seemingly telling her to go back to sleep. Straightening her shawl – why had she brought the damn thing? - and her shoulders, the Blue faced toward the pair instead of her Warder. There were things to do and there would be time to sleep when she was dead.


Taia must have known them, as she walked forward to meet the pair. Body language suggested that they had feelings for one another, but they were not touching. Mimi hid a grin behind her Aes Sedai serenity, they think no one will notice the strings between them if they don't touch? Ah, how young and foolish. The Green must have known something about their relationship as well, for her smile was evident and her teasing in full force. Miahna forced herself not the roll her eyes as Taia asked the man if he'd ever considered becoming a Warder. The girl shifted uncomfortably and looked as if she wanted to slug Taia in the face. I'm actually surprised that has never happened. Oh the favors the ring does for her... The Green grinned then, and turned to her, “it never hurts to ask.” Mimi had to stifle her laughter as the pair walked away, their hands barely not touching and their bodies responding to the other as they maneuvered through the crowd of people.



Miahna "Mimi" Telonne

Blue Aes Sedai

Fixer of what's broke-d

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