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Go and be what you are (attn. Quibby)

The Bard Babe

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Arkin whistled as he dawdled down the path. His knives rested easily on his belt with several flasks, pieces of cloth, instruments and the odd assortment of what could only be described as things that he had collected over the years as he travelled the world.

No matter how hard Master Gabbon had tried, Arkin wasn't ever going to give up his keepsakes, one from every place he visited, every city, every country, every ship and tinker's caravan. Arkin called it being sentimental. Master Gabbon called it unneccessary weighing down of his limbs. Or at least he had...


Arkin's step faltered slightly as memories of Master Gabbon's farewell words and retreating back flew into his mind. "I am not abandoning you Arkin. You are now a grown man with your own life to lead. Now I am just the old fellow that is holding you back. So, I didn't train you all these years to see you go to waste, boy. Go and be what you are."


Go and be what you are...

What did that even mean?!

The burly soldier that had forced Arkin out of a life of thievery and into sobriety had had that look in his eyes as he said those words, that look that said, 'take your time, Arkin, figure it out, I'll be here when you understand'. So many times, Arkin had seen that look, that look that had helped him make the right decision, that had made him understand. He remembered sharing it with Master Gabbon, feeling the sense of achievement that came from the soldier's small, approving smile.


Only this time, Master Gabbon wasn't there. He'd given him that look that told him to take his time to understand, and then he had left. He had left!


Giving a sigh, Arkin picked up his pace, marching forward and pulling a flask from his belt, taking a long, deep drink of the substance within. He didn't know whether this was what passed as ale nowadays, but he knew that he was sad and it was enough to make him happy. He hadn't really drunk while Master Gabbon was around, but he wasn't there to take it off him anymore, not there to pour his secret stash into the dirt.


Forcing his mind to clear, Arkin whistled louder, banishing the memories from his mind until he was ready to deal with them. He was here for a reason.


Footsteps behind him made Arkin smile. And here came that reason. He obligingly stood still and abandoned his knives as he was surrounded by armed men and women with their bows drawn and pointed at Arkin's heart. So, he had to 'go and be what he was' did he?

Well, this was as good a start as any.


"I believe this is the territory of the Band of the Red Hand. Where do I sign up?" Arkin asked simply before grinning and taking another drink.


After a few bemused glances between the group in front of him, a couple peeled off and Arkin was led through the trees to be greeted by the sight of a working camp, with people bustling or lounging or sparring. The smell filled his nostrils and Arkin couldn't help but let a smile light up his face as he was led through the entrance to what looked like an officer's tent.

His escort left to return to their post and Arkin was left in the middle of the camp.


Well, he thought, this is the start of my new life.

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A newcomer to the Band was rarely an event worthy of gossip, but when the Band was marching, it became something of a rarity. Within minutes of being met by the rear patrol, word had reached all the way to the front of the marching army. It crossed over Jehryn somewhere around the middle. Unfortunately for him, he was currently in the company of the recruit master. "Jehryn," the man said in a voice that always made Jehryn wish that he could dart the man with some of the more inventive poisons that he possessed. "Would you please bring the new recruit to see me? It'll be nice for him to see a friendly face." The man chuckled in self-satisfaction. Behind the layer of gauze that served as Jehryn's face to the world, he mouthed several curses at the man, then turned on his heel and left the hastily-erected tent without a salute.


Jehryn paced himself as he walked through the slowly advancing ranks. Not only would the recruit be coming in his direction, but it would not be acceptable for Jehryn to arrive gasping for breath like a fish out of water. As was usual when such thoughts arose, Jehryn immediately began a mental tirade against the man who had done this to him. An arrogant boy too big to be anything but a bully, had forced Jehryn's face into a forge fire, scorching his lungs and leaving his head a cracked and reddened mess. The gauze served as an aide to Jehryn's self-esteem as much as it did a courtesy to others. In the Band, he felt that it was a wasted effort, considering what some of these people had seen, but he could not bring himself to face the judgement of these men and women who, for the part of those he knew, he considered brothers and sisters.


It took a little longer than expected, but Jehryn eventually found a group of loud men and women. It was to the leader of this group, a woman who showed more decorum than those under her command, that Jehryn went. "Greetings, medic," the woman said with an Illian accent. "What do be your business here?"


"Recruit master sent me," Jehryn replied, his voice coming out as a painful rasp. "He wanted 'a friendly face' to greet the new recruit. Arrogant pustule."


The woman laughed at that. "What did you be doing in his illustrious company in the first place?"


"You know what I said about pustules?" Jehryn replied. "Turns out that he has a rather nasty one in a place that he feels is too degrading to be shared in public. Buy me a drink or three tonight, and I promise that I'll drunkenly give you and your soldiers something to add to the gossip pool in the camp."


"It do be a date, then," the woman responded with an evil smirk. "Go tend to your recruit."


Nodding to the woman, Jehryn worked his way to the center of the group of scouts. There, he found one of the most peculiar-looking men that he had ever seen. The man looked like a walking peddler's wagon, covered in trinkets, treasures, and flasks. The flasks certainly caught Jehryn's attention. Jehryn carried a flask for medical purposes- and he was one of the very few for whom this was actually true- but this man seemed like he was out to start a drunken debauch by his mere presence. After the moment of hesitation, Jehryn returned himself to the present. "Welcome, stranger. I am Corporal Jehryn do'Halcaran, a medic, and I'm here to escort you to the recruit master. Will you join me, master...?"

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Arkin smiled as he heard a voice address him from behind. He spun around to be met by a gauze-covered face that would have given most people quite a shock, but Arkin had been a traveller, a beggar and a soldier's apprentice for most of his life-it took quite a lot to shock him now.


Welcome, stranger. I am Corporal Jehryn do'Halcaran, a medic, and I'm here to escort you to the recruit master. WIll you join me, master...?


He took in the flask that the man, Corporal Jehryn do'Halcaran, carried, but sighed at the word medic-no, not another drinking buddy, a healer. He supposed it was better to have a healer than another drunkard anyway.


Flashing the man his trademark grin, Arkin stuck out his hand to be shaken. "Fletcher. Arkin Fletcher, and yes I will join you, sir."


"So, any tips for talking to this recruit master of yours so I won't get my head cut off?" he asked brightly with another toothy smile.


(OoC: sorry it took me so long to reply-my internet zonked out and I was only able to get it back today)

Edited by The Bard Babe
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"No, not really," Jehryn replied as he took the man's offered hand, feeling a grin form beneath his bandages. It was rare to find somebody so upbeat in the Band. Maybe among the recruits, but the veterans were all sober as a funeral. Something about being in a battle or five drained the cheerfulness out of a man, it seemed. When Jehryn had finally run into Mehrin again, it seemed as if the man had died, leaving only an engine of destruction behind. Taking another look at the new man, Arkin Fletcher- Jehryn anchored the name in his mind for the inevitable meeting in the medics' tent- Jehryn found himself hoping that his time in the Band would not take away the happy-go-lucky man he saw.


A thought struck him. "Actually, I would recommend hiding a flask or three. Apparently, a former commander of the Band was a drunkard, and the recruit master decided that any person who consumed alcohol would be as useless as he was." Gesturing to his own flask, Jehryn added, "He even gets testy about the medics and their alcohol." As he began walking, Jehryn continued, "He tends to send them to work with the infantrymen. Believe me, a raw recruit among infantry is probably the most painful thing that one can endure. The infantry tend to be the toughest on each other, and that propensity for violence is not confined to them. I have treated more broken bones due to their violent outbursts than I care to count. Still," he added, "they are probably the best people to have at your side. They are incredibly loyal, and they will always be there to defend you."


The two walked in silence for a brief moment before Jehryn resumed speaking. "So, what brings you to the Band? Are you running from something or someone?"

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Arkin grimaced at Corporal Jehryn's words. Former drunkard leader...he'd been in that situation before. Many, many wives and guards and various others had had drunkards and decided that anyone who drank was good for nothing.

Including his Master. Well, Master Gabbon had simply decided that those who drank and then tried to hold a weapon were just plain stupid, which Arkin supposed was true.

Sighing, Arkin began to take flasks from his belt and throw them in his bag, or tuck them into an inside pocket.


Listening in as Jehryn spoke, Arkin couldn't help but wince. Infantrymen and hazing, well that didn't seem like the best available option around here. That was why he'd abandoned the idea of joining a formal army. Well, some of the reason why, anyway.


"Well, I recently found myself somewhat without a Master. You see, my Master Gabbon decided that he had taught me all he wanted to and sent me off to do something useful. Go and be what you are, were his exact words, whatever that means..." he grumbled before brightening again. "But before I had him as a Master, well, I was a travelling musician and storyteller, a gleeman without the cloak, and seeing as I have no ties to any country in particular, as you may have guessed from the attire, I figured that the Band was the best place for me, and here I am!"


Casting Jehryn another grin, Arkin successfully concealed his final flask and turned to look at the Corporal, the medallions in his hair jangling. "What about you? How did you get involved with all of this?"

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It was amazing to Jehryn just how quickly the numerous flasks in Arkin's possession disappeared. He was not sure if the concealment was a well-practiced exercise, but it was impressive nonetheless. As he was feeling amazement, though, Jehryn was giving the other man a more thorough examination. The medic in Jehryn immediately dismissed any worries about diseases of a communicable nature, which left the analytical part of his mind to examine the man's garb. Medallions in the hair, various curiosities from several places that Jehryn could not identify. The sheer weight of everything seemed as if it would be crippling to the man's ability to move, though he carried himself well enough. Noisily enough, too. If it were not for the lack of any sort of sword or long-handled weapon, Jehryn would have taken the man for infantry material; they were always the most boisterous men and women in the Band.


As the final flask disappeared, Arkin asked, "What about you? How did you get involved with all of this?"


Jehryn shrugged. "Childish foolishness, really. I once idolized a man. He pulled me out of a forge fire once, saved my life." Unconsciously, Jehryn brushed his hand over the bandages on his face. "He was forced to flee one day, leaving a woman who he loved and a friend that he had saved. I spent several years, then, working with the local healers, learning from them."


Jehryn stopped walking, his breath coming in long wheezes. Walking and talking always brought on these attacks. He was using too much breath speaking to continue to make his body function. A few more seconds passed like hours, leaving Jehryn's chest tight and his lungs burning. Finally he stood straight again. "I apologize. One of the myriad side effects of the aforementioned fire. Now, where were we? Ah, yes..." Jehryn continued to stand still as he spoke, letting his body recover. "A few years ago, there was some sort of attack on the king of Murandy during his wedding. Much of the kingdom was in attendance, as well as dignitaries and emissaries from various countries and factions across the land. Some whisper that it was the Forsaken. Others claim it was Aes Sedai work. Still others blame it on the Asha'man. It does not really matter. What matters is that there were members of the Band among those injured, and I treated them. They spoke of their commander, a man with a sword that matched the description of the one my friend had." Jehryn chuckled. "That would not have been enough, but the man's daughter, fathered on the aforementioned woman, had recently left the city in search of her father. Since her mother had died in the attack, I felt that it was my duty to track her down."


Jehryn shook his head briefly. "I arrived to find both of them gone. The daughter was kidnapped and the father had left the Band. Apparently he's here somewhere, but I have been unable to find him." Silence descended upon the two men for a brief moment, then Jehryn asked, "What division do you feel would best suit you? The Band is divided into several: cavalry, infantry, archers, scouts, and medics and services."

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Arkin nodded as he listened to Jehryn speak in his gravelly voice. A sadness hit him in the stomach as he heard the man's tale and his gut wrenched as the man reached up to brush his hands against the bandages that hid his face from the world.

He reached out to silently support Jehryn with a hand on his arm when the man stopped, wheezing air fighting its way out of his mouth like a broken flute.

Arkin tried hard to imagine how it would be to live with no-one ever seeing your face, unable to breathe properly, unable to sing...

And the poor man's story...what a life Jehryn had led. And to lose a friend like that...to lose a woman. Arkin's hand clenched around the cloth it was wrapped in. A headscarf, from his mother, and then his sister...a scarf from a long time ago...a lifetime ago. As always, thoughts of his baby sister threw Arkin into a momentary depression-something that was hard to do with such an optimistic soul.


A smile shone up at Arkin from through the dark, a small hand gripping his. Pale skin, bright blue eyes that she had gotten from her mother, raven black hair that held a fluttering scarf. Her stomach was empty, her prospects were dim, but Arkin's baby sister was happy; she had her brother there to protect her. Arkin pulled her close, brushing a hand over that dark hair, so similar to his own, feeling the soft cloth of the scarf under his fingers. That cloth had been their mother's, it was something to remember her by on the little girl that looked so much like her. He tucked her head under his chin and allowed himself a smile as he simply held her close. His baby sister, after his mother had died, after his father had gone the same way, he had his baby sister and he always would.


Or at least he had thought...no-one noticed, but the one piece of paraphenalia that Arkin always kept clean and never took off, was that piece of cloth wrapped around his hand.

Swallowing past the lump in his throat, Arkin tried for a grin. "I'll probably be going into the scouts-I've never been much of an infantryman, and I like alcohol too much to be responsible with it like you." He left a moment's gap before asking in a soft voice that surprised him as it came out. "What happened to the daughter?" Arkin's voice hadn't cracked since he was very young-he was a musician after all. His voice was well controlled at all times...or it had been until he remembered his little sister.

Edited by The Bard Babe
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"Scouts, eh? They're an important part of the Band, and they rarely come to see us medics." Jehryn had several friends with the Scouts. They were some of the most lighthearted people in the Band. It was also true that they rarely needed Medics. Not only did they rarely fight with anybody, but if they were injured in combat, they were more likely to die in the field than make it back to the medics. Often, a hastily-fetched medic arrived to see the injured scout's corpse. However, that was not the sort of encouraging thought that Master Fletcher needed to know about. It would not do to frighten off the new blood.


Again, Jehryn took in the man's garb. "If you are going to the Scouts, my friend, then there are a few things that they will have to teach you. First and foremost, your attire." Jehryn gestured to the man's garb, seeming to take in every little trinket, every shiny bauble, every scrap of cloth. "Scouts rely on stealth and camouflage to succeed in their work. You, on the other hand, seem to be working to out-rattle a peddler's wagon and outshine a Tinker's flamboyancy. One of the first things they are going to do is force you to leave behind some of your possessions. I hope you are ready for that."


With the topic addressed, Jehryn allowed himself to feel some amount of curiosity to the other man's reaction to his story. He had lost friends, yes, but it was nothing as tragic as... Jehryn, you idiot! He asked for your story, not Mehrin's! Shaking his head at the thought, Jehryn contritely said, "I apologize if I have given you the wrong impression as to my origins. I cared for Ana and Renalie as only a friend could, and that is all." With a sigh he added, "As for the child, well... There are several accounts regarding her. I was not a part of the Band when she disappeared. Some thought that she could not stand being around her father. That tale bears a lot of weight due to the nature of the man. From everything I have heard, he was a hard man." With a dry chuckle, Jehryn continued, "Other claim that her father actually killed her and hid the body, then left the Band as a cover. That story is told by very few, and all of them drunk or spiteful. The story that I tend to believe is that the girl was kidnapped, and he left to find her. There was a body left in the wake of her disappearance, and it is the only story that fits, as far as I'm concerned." Again, Jehryn gestured, this time towards himself; without facial expression, Jehryn relied on exaggerated gestures and long-winded explanations to convey meaning and emotion. "I am a simple case of hero worship gone wrong."

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Arkin listened intently as Jehryn spoke-it never did well to ignore people when they were talking to you, they usually had something important to say, and if they didn't, it was something to write a song about, and you could always steal their words for lyrics. What Jehryn was saying, however, was extremely significant. He had a good point, Arkin was going to have to cut down on the noisy attire. Years of thievery had taught him stealth, taught him how to move almost completely soundlessly except when running, which was because if he was running, it was because he was running away from someone who already knew he was there, in whichncase there s no point in being quiet, something highlighted by Arkin's excessive yelping and emphatic squeaks and grunts as he ran from a guard or innkeeper, or an angry father.


However, when he had first passed through Arafel and added bells to his amalgamation of cultural clothing, Arkin had created a bandanna like wrap that, when positioned on his head, would not only keep his hair from whipping him in the face, but held his bells still enough to be silent.


Pulling this bandanna out, Arkin held it up against the treeline. A little bit of dying and it would blend straight in. Glancing down at hbra cloth and wristbands and medallions and clacking trinkets, Arkin's mind quickly spun into action. An easy access coat would be needed to cover up his body. He could invest in some duller boots and some cloth and dyes. Give him a week, and he'd have enough wraps to cover the brighter segments of his attire, at least enough for a temporary solution.

He explained all this to Jehryn whilst glancing down at his wrists. "But some culling couldn't hurt..."


Arkin's couldn't help but smile as he considered Jehryn's grand method of communication. He most definitely needed to write a song about this man...not just his life, but his personality and mannerisms. "Hero worship gone wrong...sounds like a hero's beginning to me."

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Jehryn nodded as Master Fletcher explained his plans for the garb. For the most part, his scheme would work. When the Band was no longer marching, it was likely that he would be fitted with a uniform, but for now, anything else would work. "Just be sure to remember that the Band has a uniform, though the Scouts tend to get away with a lot more than any other division. Comes with the need for stealth. I've always felt that the Dragon Reborn should send a few Aiel to us in order to teach the Scouts some stealth and camouflage skills. They are damn good at hiding in plain sight."


It took Jehryn a moment to react to the other man's assessment of his hero worship. It was the referral to his hero worship being the beginning of a hero's story that finally drew the reaction. A harsh, rasping sound came from behind his bandages as he began to laugh. As always, the laughter brought pain with it, but it did not stop the outpouring of amusement. It took a few moments of gasping to finally be able to speak, but that was not uncommon for him. "I can hardly breathe most of the time, and while I may have some strength, it does no good to a man who can't breathe. All of my fights take place in a medic's tent, tending wounded men and women. Most times, I save lives, sometimes I don't." Reaching to his waist, Jehryn held up a hollow tube, then tapped a large, rectangular pouch on his belt. "I cannot fight a man on equal footing. My method of combat is poisons and paralyzing substances, and nobody praises a poisoner." Letting out a short, raspy laugh, he added, "And my victims, at least, would die painlessly."


Looking around, Jehryn realized that they were coming near to the recruit master's tent. Why he actually has a tent in this mess is beyond me. Maybe I'll ask him the next time I'm dealing with that boil of his. As they approached, Jehryn looked to the new man and said, "Well, this is your last chance. Do you have any other questions to ask before going in?" Leaning closer to the man, Jehryn rasped, "Are you sure you want to do this?"

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  • 1 month later...

Arkin noticed that their pace of walking had slowed as they made their way to the recruit tent, but he made no comment, unsure whether to attribute their meandering to a desire to chat or a measure of difficulty from Jehryn.

He grimaced as the conversation turned to talk of uniform, but shrugged it off. His external...eccentricitiy was founded in his trinkets and his cloths, which could easily be added onto a uniform later on. Arki's brow furrowed as he considered the pang that hit his stomach as he heard the word 'uniform'. He's never worn a uniform, or anything vaguely close before. He'd never belonged to anything for long enough, he'd never wanted to belong to anyhting before. The thought of an enforced dress code had always disgusted him. Arkin enjoyed things being special, and so he'd never stuck around long enough for anythin to be every-day. Uniforms indicated responsibilty to a group and a long-term commitment of some sort.

Until now, the very thought had repulsed him. Light, he'd once moved from Andor to Ebou Dar just to avoid being stuck in a uniform.


And now, he found the idea strangely inviting. It seemed that the idea of committing to the Band filled in the hole that his Master had left behind. That was why he had searched the Band out, wasn't it? To find something else to commit to. To go and be what he was.


Arkin remained in silent contemplation throughout Jehryn's self-deprecative speech, concern creasing his brow as the man tore himself down.

When he asked whether Arkin really wanted to do this, it gave him a moment of pause. Commitment. A uniform. Belonging somewhere, having somewhere to go back to, people to go back to. It was the one adventure he hadn't yet tried, and now he found that yes, yes, he really did want to.


Giving Jehryn a nod and what was to become his trademark grin, Arkin reached out to clap him on the shoulder. "Well, maybe you're right, but personally..." Arkin stopped to give a shrug. "I don't think all heroes are found on the battlefield, sir."

There was only one person that Arkin had ever called sir before and meant it. The title had simply slipped out at the end of his statement. A sincere smile took over his face and Arkin felt a moment of affection for the medic. Stepping closer to the tent, Arkin took a deep breath and straightened his scarf, shaking his head to clear it and checking to make sure his flasks were still concealed. After a moment of thought, he took a swig from one before hiding it once more within the folds of his clothing.


He opened his arms up to Jehryn. "Do I look ready to meet the recruit master?" he asked with a grin.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Jehryn barked a harsh laugh at the 'sir' that Arkin gave him. Nobody called him 'sir.' The only 'sirs' that Jehryn had met in the Band held ranks much higher than his. Either that, or they were nobles who insisted on being called 'sir' by everybody. Nobody ever did, of course. "Don't 'sir' me, Arkin. I work for a living," Jehryn responded, using a line that he had once heard a sergeant deliver to an incredibly bewildered private on his first day of training. It was a good line, he had to say. The memory kept his mind away from the rest. Jehryn knew what he was, and a fresh face in the Band who knew nothing about how things worked within the system was not going to change any of it.


With a critical eye, Jehryn looked over the new blood, examining his modified appearance for anything that could cause him problems. "There is not much to say, Arkin. Maybe hide that flask under your left arm a little better; I can see the bulge of it through the fabric." As the other man made some more adjustments, Jehryn added, "I think you'll do fine here. A few words of advice, though. Don't irritate the Infantry; the majority of them are incredibly violent. Has something to do with being face-to-face with the enemy all the time. Watch where you step; oxen, horses, and donkeys wait for no man. Finally, take care of your feet. You walk in water or mud, your feet get wet. You keep going like that for a few days, and then I end up having to trim off a few toes. Nobody likes that, me least of all. I'm running out of places to keep them." With a final nod, Jehryn added, "Good luck. You can see yourself in, methinks."


Jehryn waved at the two men standing outside the tent to let Arkin in, and he turned away. Over his shoulder, he called, "I'll be seeing you around, I'm sure. I always see the new recruits at some point." Unconsciously, he checked his pockets and satchel. Everything was still there. Good. Veering left, Jehryn made his way back into the mess. An agonized scream meant that somebody else had managed to injure themselves. Most likely, somebody had gotten their foot run over by a wagon. Under the bandages, Jehryn smiled. Work on the march was never over.


OOC: You can introduce yourself to the recruit master, if you want, but from a requirements point of view, this thread is complete.

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