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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

The Darker Path ((ATTN: Kathleen))


Kura
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Arcon Dadread, noble born of Carhien and a fully raised dreadlord, stood with his back against a common tavern not far from Tar Valon, the seat of the Aes Sedai and much of his people's troubles. He'd been standing there for quite sometime, his hand resting leisurely on the hilt of the long sword at his hip. It was a noble's weapon, of that there was little doubt. A simple crossguard, little more than a simple bar, but within its center sat an Onyx stone the size of a dock worker's thumb. The grip itself of black leather, contoured to fit his hand, and a spider resting at the top, hidden beneath his manicured hands. He'd decided to dress up a bit for the occasion, his worn traveler's cloak replaced with one of much higher quality, with a silk trim and a liner to match. What could be seen of his clothes matched the lining of his cloak, the only bits of color the sashes of his house. He bore several more than when he'd left. His father had done well for himself in his son's absence. It was almost to bad the man was growing old.

 

Now, why the fancy clothes when one planned to set out on the road for the Great Lord only knew exactly how long, especially when he was currently alone with nary a guard in sight? Well, the answer to that was simple. One didn't underdress when meeting an Aes Sedai, well, at least not if one planned to make it known he was traveling with one. A cool smile crept along his lips. Yes, he'd received her letter and knew full well her dilemmas with leaving. He even understood the real reason behind the delay. Let her play her game, she was already snared in his web. Still, victory didn't mean one couldn't have a bit of sport. They were out of sight of the shining walls, but well within a day's ride. He needed to be seen being escorted from the city, she'd denied him that. True the friends of the dark would tell whatever tale he told them too, but it was an inconvenience. And so he stood, resplendent in his silks with a finely crafted blade standing outside the busiest tavern and inn, allowing himself to be seen. It'd reenforce his story, and not truly harm his companion's. It would however, be enough to show that he understood her games and her intent.

 

There was afterall, little use in letting her think him a fool. At least not now, when what he asked could put her in very real danger if the wrong questions were asked by the right people. He needed her to believe in him, even if she'd already agreed to his favor. An Aes Sedai in his pocket was one fly he'd never been able to trap in his web. Now that he had one, well, he'd be a light-blasted fool to let her slip away. Especially for a reason so petty as her thinking him incompetent. Besides, the woman had at times been quite rude, if pragmatic. Perhaps a bit of a snub would set the story straight. They were, at least for now, equals in this game. They could run in circles nipping at each other's tails, something his court training left him quite proficient at, or they could put it all aside and work together. Her choice.

 

Frankly, Arcon was happy either way, so long as the job got done.

Edited by Kura
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Seheria refused the offer of help to mount her horse. Instead, she sent the boy to retrieve the bag she deliberately left just outside the door of the stables while she fumbled awkwardly onto the creature. She was sure the saddle was going to slip off the retched thing's back at one point, but she managed to swing herself over and settle before the stable boy returned. She flicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth impatiently as the boy tied the bag down. Seheria contemplated channeling the beast between her thighs into a submissive statuesque calm, but the stable boy backed away from her and she knew it was time to ride.

 

She rode out as the sun rose, knowing it would take a good amount of the day just to reach her traveling companion. She could be gracious enough to be at the meeting place at a decent hour. He had been gracious enough to meet outside of the city after all. She knew it was not his true will, but he had agreed. The fact that he would bend on it pleased Seheria greatly. The fact that he would not bend far pleased her more. Today the man needed her, and he was not fool enough to deny her such a simple show that he appreciated that. But he was bold enough to stand his ground, even to an Aes Sedai. That characteristic in her partner could benefit her some day. She had believed these traits of him after their first meeting, but it was always good to check the merchandise once you get it out of the store window. She was anxious to meet the dreadlord so close to the White Tower, but was a safe enough distance, if it was uncomfortable.

 

She dismounted as she neared the village she would be meeting Arcon in. She was determined to be off the horse before her new accomplice could get a laugh watching her nearly break her neck. If that she meant she had to walk a little further than she would have liked, it was better than the alternative. How she hadn't learned the grace of mounting and dismounting in all the years she spent riding these things from city to city was beyond her. She could stay on once she was on, and that had always been good enough for her.

 

She led her horse through the streets until she saw Arcon standing outside an inn. She knew he would be there to meet her, but she had assumed the man would have at least been waiting in the common room, not awkwardly standing in the street, causing the town folk to talk. She realized that was probably his exact reasoning for standing there as she made her way to join him. I won't come into your city, but they will know WE were here. Seheria shook her head slightly at the man. He was bold, and though he would compromise he would have his way. Seheria couldn't argue with that, it was exactly how she had always lived her life, why shouldn't he?

 

"Hello Arcon. Pardon my appearance, I'm sure I'm a mess. I've been bumped around all day by this unruly horse. " Seheria smoothed out the folds in her riding skirt as she spoke. She had long since cleaned the dust off herself but she hadn't bothered to fix the hair that lay sticking slightly to the side of her face. At the thought of it she raised a hand and ran it through her slightly damp hair. "I trust you weren't left waiting long. I know you long to start this journey." Seheria gave a glance of a genuine hope the man would answer, but didn't give him more than a moment to do so as she tied the horse up. "There is plenty of light left if you wish to start out now. I'm sure we could make our way to a comfortable place to rest our heads before night truly falls. Unless you booked rooms here for the night, of course." Seheria glanced at the door of the inn just to break the eye contact but returned her gaze to wait his reply.

 

She hoped the man would be ready to move on. He must have spent enough time standing out side this inn or wandering the streets by now. She would ride further from the Tower in a blink, but she would let Arcon make the call. She wanted to say that if he wanted it to be taken as an escort from the Tower he would need to follow her direction, but that conversation could come later. This relationship could be a long one if it was played right, and she would not push her luck. She needed this to go well enough that he would hold up his end of the bargain after he had what he wanted. If that meant more compromise on her part, she would suck up her pride. He was a powerful friend to keep after all.

 

Seheria Sedai

Sister of the Black Ajah

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Arcon actually let a smile slip onto his gaunt features at the Aes Sedai’s approach. He stepped away from the building, and walked forward to meet her. “You look beautiful, Seharia Sedai. And yes, I would rather enjoy setting out as soon as you feel up to it.” His voice had regained its court composure, each syllable annunciated perfectly. She had chosen to be polite with him. He could return that favor, manners were second only to the Great Game itself for a Carhien child. As she continued, Arcon gave her a half bow, and gestured to a nearby stable boy. He brought out a massive black stallion of Saldean stock. “Well, if we are in agreement to be off, let us be on our way. This will be my first return home in a couple years, and hopefully a good deal more welcoming than my last visit.” He let a chuckle roll off his tongue, the sound smoothly masculine. It was also quite well practiced.

 

Recalling her comment about her horse being “unruly”, Arcon eyed the docile mare, before shifting his attention back to the Aes Sedai. “I wouldn’t wish to impose, but if you’d like I’d be more than willing to help you mount. Light only knows how anyone manages the task in skirts.” Another chuckle, this one more of a private joke between the two. He wanted to point out that though he chose a dark attire, he was more than competent enough to slip into more… acceptable turns of phrase. Whether she accepted the aide or not, Arcon was quickly mounted himself, and gestured to let her lead. He knew she’d have to be seen leading him out of town if his story was to have validity. He’d be only a step behind and off to the side, leading the superbly trained horse with his knees. One of his father’s favorite imports had always been horses, and Arcon had been taught to ride them from an early age. Being a noble’s son did have its perks.

 

A few leagues distant from town, Arcon broke the silence. “Seharia, I hope you don’t mind me dropping the honorific, I thought perhaps we should get to know each other a bit better. In my experience these sort of relationships go a bit better if the two parties actually know the other. At least when they are between two parties of similar strength.” He moved his mount forward to keep pace with hers, both to make it easier to converse and to give no subtle symbols of subservience. He’d play the part well in public, but let her see his strength when they were alone. If she thought him weak, she’d be encouraged to use him or worse yet betray him. “I suppose I should start.” He took a brief pause, letting her give him her full attention. It wasn’t often one got a dreadlord to speak of their past.

 

“As you’ve no doubt guessed I’m Carhien, of noble birth. Born to house DaDread some fifty winters ago. Father was a minor noble, but an ambitious one. Brilliant merchant, but very few took him seriously due to some failures on his own father’s part. He did everything he could to distill his skills and ambition into me. It worked for the most part, but he did leave me quite a bit of time alone.” He took a deep breath, for once not feigning distress, but using it none the less to sell his point. “This next part I say only, because it directly relates to why I need your help. My nanny was a friend of the dark, and as you can guess was the one to indoctrinate me into the Great Lord’s followers. She was discovered trying to poison my father, and when they sent her to the gallows I channeled for the first time. Though it was many years ago now, I doubt all have forgotten that incident. Especially since my father seems to have used rumors of having a channeling son to make an impression on his fellows. You don’t ignore someone who may have a son who could torch your entire residence in mere moments, or whatever other fancies people have about men who can channel.” He let his practiced chuckle roll off his tongue once again, “Brilliant really, how he turned it around on them. Denounce me, but bring me up casually in conversation. Especially when a rival was found with a slit throat. Publicly you see, I was quite the daddy’s boy.”

 

He rode for a few moments more before continuing, “Unfortunately, if I am reenter myself into Daes Dae’Mar, gain access to my father’s wealth for local circles and do the Great Lord’s bidding as well as I am able, I will have to disabuse those rumors, no? I doubt it will hurt my father’s reputation; in fact many may very well be impressed at how he used the situation. We Carhien are a rather strange folk.” His spiel completed he turned his attention back to the road, but kept his demeanor open, encouraging her to either probe or speak as her heart desires. Of course, nothing he’d revealed wasn’t public knowledge, if dated, but the fact that he’d revealed anything could help their relationship. Among his kind every bit of personal knowledge was guarded and only doled out in the direst of situations. He doubted even Shadar knew this much of his history, and that man was as a son to Arcon.

Edited by Kura
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Seheria held off the glare of anger bubbling in her at the offer to help her on her horse. How dare he presume she couldn't do it herself? That smile on his face only made her anger grow. She almost wanted to shout at the man for even thinking an Aes Sedai needed help with such a menial task as mounting a horse. She had ridden to town had she not? The fool man surely didn't think she had lead the beast the by the reigns the whole way, waiting to meet him for a boost up! Luckily for him the man had turned his back to mount his own horse and Seheria forced her anger down.

 

She tied her horse close to the stairs and told Arcon she would only be a moment. She had some business to take care of in the inn before they left. She wasn't inside long, just enough time to fix her hair and regain her composure. To her luck the horse was waiting in front of the steps when she returned and Seheria mounted it with ease before she reached the ground. She just barely starved off a smug glance at the dreadlord, knowing he would most likely just smile back at her having used the stairs.

 

She straightened her back and set her shoulders as she took the reigns and lead her horse around Arcon's. As she passed him she shot him a quick smile, "the skirts make it a touch tricky, yes, but tricks never stop me for long." Seheria lead Arcon through the city streets and further out of sight of the White Tower. The further she got the more comfortable she came. As she saw the city fade behind them and the trees and grass expanding more and more around them, Seheria came to realize for the first time just how long she would be traveling with this man.

 

As if on cue Arcon closed the gap between them and rode beside Seheria. He spoke as if he had the same thoughts on their new found time together. Seherai listened as the man spoke openly of his past and his plans for the future. It was everything she had wanted to know, but hadn't yet thought of how to bring up. She knew dreadlords were not ones to be so open with their thoughts, and she had waited for him to give her the information he was going to. She hadn't expected him to say so much at all, let alone all at once. It really left few questions for her ask after. There was still quite a way to go before night fall and she couldn't help but feel the man had set her up to probe her past.

 

She tried to push the plot out of her mind and give the man the benefit of doubt of trying for an actual conversation. As nice as it would be to find someone who was genuinely trying to befriend her, the odds that a dreadlord who was currently using her in a plot would be that someone seemed far to skeptical to her. It was going to be a long ride, and perhaps he did have plans for her after this mission. Perhaps he truly was trying to befriend her, in such a case she would be wise to appreciate that.

 

"That is quite the tale. Though I do wonder how you managed to escape gentling being such a public case and all. How were you allowed to leave the city after such a public claim? How did no one find you and take you in? Surely you should have been a high priority." Seheria realized she was getting dangerously close to berating her Red sisters, her tone had already slipped to show her disgust with them, and she pulled her manners together. It was probably a good place to pull her thought to an end in any case; she didn't want Arcon to think that she wished he had been found and gentled after all. The last thing she wanted was for him to think her a threat. "I just mean to say that it must have been difficult to hide for so long, with people knowing your story and mostly likely being on your trail. It would be quite a feat."

 

After a few moments of thought Seheria looked at the man riding beside her and tentatively asked the question she had been holding back since she first learned of his plan for this trip. "Have you thought on what you would do should the White Tower hear your claim that they gentled you? Surely someone will know you were never there. We can have the records altered, but we surely can't fabricate memories in the minds of all the Aes Sedai. You were publicly found to be able to channel, with luck you managed to escape the grasp of those who would change that, and now you wish to make it public that you were..treated. Surely this will all get back to White Tower, how do you plan to handle the aftermath?" Seheria hoped the man had a sufficient answer. As the Aes Sedai who would be publicly announcing the lie, she could only hope that his plan cover her safety as well.

 

Seheria Sedai

Sister of the Black Ajah

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  • 3 weeks later...

Arcon was glad that his companion neglected to open up into her own background so easily. Having someone who could keep her control, even when baited with that most succulent trap of reciprocity, was something he could appreciate. Though he did find himself curious about her past, and truly Aes Sedai histories were a chore to delve into, this said volumes more than her favorite doll growing up ever could. As she spoke in turn he found his ire rising, though masked it well. She almost spoke as if she wished him caught and gentled in truth. Andorian... He cut off the thought, and nearly laughed at it. Well, I suppose I can forgive old prejudices. He let the more amusing thought touch his features, let her make of it what she would.

 

"How did I escape? Well, that is actually a fairly simple tale. Silks, horses, and luck. You've been an Aes Sedai for a while, surely you can appreciate what something as simple as looking like you own the place and having the attire to back it up can do for you? Especially when you show up on a Saldean Charger in a huff. I made it north enough that I was picked up by a dreadlord, and then I was about as safe as a boy could be when in a fortress in the blight, surrounded by murderous dreadlords and the far greater threat. Fellow students." He chuckled at the last thought. Oh, the peace of the shadow held most back within the Fortress, but with darkhounds accidents were known to happen... "I tell you, it is a good thing that you ladies can't feel us channel though. I had a couple close calls in Saldea, tenacious those ladies in red."

 

Arcon found himself appreciating her sharp questions, asking the poignant details while at the same time questing for a bit more information on her traveling companion. To his surprise he actually complied with the latter happily. The dreadlord had minions, puppets, and allies, but this one time he actually found himself liking a mark. She wasn't some student he had to coddle through the beginning steps of Daes Dae'mar, or some gargoyle standing upon the highest pillar, whose gaze he had to dance within to reach his goal. It was... a fairly new experience for the man. Of course no acts of selfless generosity were in the works, but a mutual respect wasn't out of the question. He could live with the consequences of that.

 

He rode on in silence a moment, trying to keep his demeanor as approachable as possible while delaying her next series of questions. How much to tell her? He couldn't give her any names, that could expose other hearts within the tower. He knew by her fairly new induction into the Ajah that she couldn't possibly be the Head. Still, he had to feed her something or else she may very well loose her growing faith. He needed that, and found himself enjoying her company a bit to much to risk throwing her away. Even if he was confident he could find another Aes Sedai to snare in his webs. "The records already state that I was gentled. It is in there as a foot note on another entry. There are those who will vouch for it's authenticity within the Red Ajah and a suitable reason for why I was not brought within the tower walls." He turned to her, his tone growing serious. "I have very powerful friends up North, friends who are capable of putting just the right kind of pressure on the right people. You were brought in late, and aren't of the Red so your lack of foreknowledge of me won't be suspicious. No witch hunt for the Black will go up if flags are raised, but someone may find themselves in a very compromised position." He showed her one of his more charming smiles, "Can't say I mind the Red taking the fall for this. Old prejudices die slow deaths."

 

He'd effectively stated that she would be on the farthest end of suspicion once word reached the tower of his return to Carhien. Setting that particular detail up had exhausted years worth of favors to the Mae'Shadar Council. Even before he'd secured her help he'd thought the price was worth paying. It added layers of insulation to his own tale, adding degrees of distance as the Aes Sedai hunted within their own ranks not for the shadow, but for simple corruption. As foolish as they were for believing that the Black Ajah was a myth, he very much doubted that any who had held the shawl for even a few years would think the whole lot a benevolent bunch above petty scheming. In fact he'd stake his horse that the opposite came closer to the truth. Personally he hoped she'd appreciate the cost of shielding her.

 

"Have I answered your inquiries to your satisfaction, Seheria?" He paused, allowing her to respond, before continuing. "Perhaps you could return the favor? If I'm to be putting myself in the position to be called upon to return a favor of this worth, I must know, what makes this worth it? Though I hope to have changed your mind on the point, the fact is when I approached you I was little more than a strange man who happened to know your secret and had the ability to channel. I was unproven beyond my ability to find you, and asked you to put your life on the line to advance my schemes." He chuckled, "And you agreed before you knew I had counter measures in place. Though I am thrilled at your faith in me, is there something that I should know? Those without need seldom find themselves agreeing to propositions such as mine."

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She was quiet impressed that Arcon did not try to embellish his escape tactics. It would have been an open invitation to many others to recite a grand adventure of cunning and skill to make themselves look a marvel and their hunters fools, though the Reds truly were fools.

 

"It is good to know you stay so humble given the chance to make yourself out to be a gleeman. You could have told a marvelous tale of absurd circumstance where you come out on top as some great escape artist. Many would have stooped to that. Instead you choose to share something more believable, and though you almost definitely did have a marvelous adventure you don't flaunt it. I like that."

 

Seheria continued on in silence, pleased that Arcon had done the paperwork for her already. He really had thought this event all the way out. The records were already in place, and he was proving that his reach was far among their friends; he could have the records changed in the tower and people to vouch for him, that was no small feat. He must already have connections to the Black Ajah. And covering his tracks each step of the way not only gave him more connections but made this whole adventure look more believable. She really would be covered. He didn't have to protect her so well, but he had. She was sure it wasn't done for her, but for his own safety in making his story look real, but his attention to detail was impressive and it would give her a safety net if this were to blow up in her face.

 

She supposed that Acron thought she had spent the time in silence mulling over her answer to his questions and she supposed she could give them courtesy of a reply. After quite some time she did break the silence, "Your reply was more than satisfactory. Your plan is quiet well thought out. As for why I agreed to this, I'm sorry to say there is no grand scheme. You said it yourself when we met, I am new and have few connections where they matter in our world. You help me take a step up; small as it may be."

 

She hated to admit it, but it was true and the man had shared so much of his own truth that she could admit her own. "Besides, life in the White Tower is quite routine and dry. I've never enjoyed spending too much time in those halls. I go back when I must but I've always preferred to be off traveling somewhere. You gave me an excuse to leave again and so I took it. It's always better to do a little work and hold a favor for when you need it than to let that chance at a favor slip away for no good reason. As for accepting before you gave me counter measures, I've never been one to rely solely on the word or work of another. I've been getting myself out of tricky situations far longer than I would like to admit I've been old enough to get myself into them. I didn't expect you to have a plan to cover my tracks, though it is not lost on me that you did."

 

The two rode on and though she did think of stopping and making a camp for the night a few times as the sun dropped lower in the sky and her muscles protested at the full day ride, she had promised this man a proper bed and her muscles deserved a mattress of more than leaves. She pressed on to the nearest town and when it came in view she pulled her horse ahead of Arcons. She was meant to be leading him, after all, and she would let the man have it seen since he did the curtasy of giving her cover.

 

She fumbled off her horse, trying to time her awkward decent with her companions, in the hope he wouldn't notice. Anything less than glamourous could be blamed on the long day's ride of course, and it was. Somehow, the man didn't seem to believe her. She wasn't sure how much longer she would bother going on with the charade. They both knew it for what it was, but if she didn't have to admit it she wouldn't.

 

She left her horse with the stableboy and tried to pull as much grace into her walk as she could as she marched to the front desk of the inn to book rooms.

 

 

Seheria Sedai

Sister of the Black Ajah

Opening up and being rather friendly. See she can do it if she has to.

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Arcon took her answer and spun it out in his mind. Her freely admitting that she had very little in the way of contacts was quite a bit more revealing than what he'd said, though it took far fewer words. Of course there was always the chance that she was under emphasizing her position, but the Dreadlord very much doubted that to be the truth. Good. She is competent, and I appear to be the first one to have my fangs into her... It was true he was growing fond of the woman, but he was what he was, after all. He doubted that one who swore to the Great Lord would hold it against him, let alone an Aes Sedai. "Well, I'm glad to be of service. As you've pointed out, in our world connections matter. I believe you'll find that this will be a bit more than a small step towards bringing you to prominence in our world." He wanted to cement their dealings, and make much more of this than a tit for tat relationship. He found himself believing in her capability, and as a perk, enjoying the company. Besides, when they reached whatever destination they were bound for in The Great Lord's service, he very much doubted she would forget this ride through the countryside.

 

They rode on in companionable silence for a long while, and Arcon believed that at least for the moment they had each said as much as they were willing of their pasts and ambitions. The Carhien was once again pleased that she didn't spin into a tale of her own exploits and plans, finding value in her appraisal of silence. As they reached the next village, the Aes Sedai pulled ahead to keep up appearances. Arcon nodded in approval. Each stop along the way that left witnesses was another slab of mortar to his story. As they dismounted he chose to give her a knowing smile but made no comment. Let it be a game between them, if that was the way she'd have it. He wouldn't be the first to draw attention to the charade. Besides, he'd been alive long enough to know that women have their own kind of pride. The man who offended an Aes Sedai's was a sorry one indeed.

 

The duo made the approach to the counter, and Arcon did his part. Acting reserved, cool, and collected. He played both the part of the nobleman and a man in grief. His father had once commented that the both the king's and the mummer's court required acting, but the mummer lost his head far less often for a bad performance. His trip home was bringing more and more of his father's idioms to Arcon's mind. It was an odd thing for the Dreadlord, for him to feel any nostalgia for home, considering that he blamed the man for his love's death. Well, I suppose if there was one thing the old man had right, it was that hating somebody doesn't mean you can't respect them. He suppressed the chuckle the thought brought, keeping up his cover flawlessly.

 

His internal thoughts didn't keep him from noticing something odd about the innkeeper however. The most glaring of which was the man's girth, or rather the lack there of. Arcon had traveled far in his time running from the Red Ajah, and he could count on one hand the number of thin inn keepers he had met. Aside from that he seemed nervous, though the only sign was a single bead of sweat on the man's temple. Arcon resisted the urge to rest his hand on the pommel of his blade. The last thing he wanted to do was give any appearance that he thought something was amiss. Suppressing the urge to seize the source was even harder. His story would be worthless if he burnt an inn to the ground, but the thin innkeeper set him on edge. When he finally asked how many rooms, Arcon chimed in, "Do you have more than one acceptable room in this place?" He brought back his full Carhien accent, laying into the stereotype of a spoiled lordling. The man looked offended, but he hoped his companion would get the hint. The dreadlord felt they needed to stay together.

 

When she asked for a moment to talk to his companion in an irritated voice, Arcon's faith in her was vindicated. As they took a couple steps away from the counter, the dreadlord did seize Saidin, and wove a ward of silence surrounding the pair with a small twist. Those nearby would hear an irritated huff between the two, though no actual words would be discerned. He had always found it much less suspicious if at least some sound escaped when he employed a ward. "I don't trust him, and I think if we stick together nothing will happen. At the very least if it does, we won't be separated. My sword isn't just decorative, but I'd be more comfortable if there was someone who could channel without blowing my cover near by if my suspicions are correct." He kept the ward up to cover her response, but left it up to her to deal with the innkeeper. He'd go along with whatever she decided, but he'd sleep with wards if he was given his own room...

Edited by Kura
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  • 2 weeks later...

Seheria schooled her tones as she approached the awkward looking man behind the desk. He seemed slightly on edge, but then so was she. Most innkeepers became quiet unneverved at the sight of Aes Sedai in their establishments. Always so worried their hospitality will fall short she was sure. Still she thought there something more to it this time. She didn't have the patience to worry about that now though. She wanted a room, a bath if she could keep her eyes open long enough and a comfortable mattress to rest.

 

The innkeeper asked how many rooms they wanted but before Seheria could ask for two her companion cut in dripping with attitude. Seheria held her frustration in as best she could as she turned from the reception desk to Arcon. He had better have a good reason for this outburst! If he wants a scene I'll give him one. she thought as she approached him.

 

She didn't have to feel the weaves around her to know they were there when Arcon spoke, "I don't trust him, and I think if we stick together nothing will happen. At the very least if it does, we won't be separated. My sword isn't just decorative, but I'd be more comfortable if there was someone who could channel without blowing my cover near by if my suspicions are correct."

 

Seheria didn't have to try to hold her irritated look to keep up appearances, "Trying to get into my room at your first opportunity? My, what a gentlemen." It was meant at as a joke, though her tone didn't show it, to assure Arcon that while she was about to rip into him, she did see his reasoning and was glad for the warning.

 

Still she had to keep up appearances of putting him in his place, and he could do with having a slight reality check anyway it seemed, "You don't trust him, or you don't trust me? Do you not think I can watch two rooms at once? Perhaps your training isn't as extensive as I assumed it was, but I thought you would have at least heard of wards. The second anyone or anything attempts to enter your rooms I would know it, and if you tried to run, I'd know that too. I may enjoy my beauty sleep, but I can be at your side, should you need it, in a blink. Now, we are running out of time to have this look like a natural scolding so I will get our room, and we can discuss your trust issues when we settle. In future, if you wish to keep your cover, I would suggest you let me handle the eavesdropping weaves. You could be outed just as easily for mundane challenging as you could for setting someone on fire. You may well have gotten into my room tonight, but don't presume you'll be getting into anything else." Seheria gave Arcon a quick wink, and hoped that her message was sufficient.

 

She turned back to the innkeeper, "I apologize for my companion's attitude, he forgot his place, and his manners, it seems. We only require one room tonight. No need to turn anyone away on our account, and I can keep a closer eye on his outbursts from one room. See that there are two beds, and a hot bath ready, if its not too much trouble." She hoped that Arcon would wait long enough to recall that he was supposed to be under her watch, as nothing more than a gentled man taking precious time away from the Aes Sedai's life, before he strangled her for her comments.

 

This was going to be quiet a challanging relationship to balance. Every conversation could very well end in one of them trying to kill the other, simply for feeling they were out of place in how they spoke. She only hoped they would have the balance sorted out before the trip was over.

 

They were led up to the second floor of the inn and the young maid waited to be certain everything was to satisfaction in the room before she left. Seheria set her traveling bag at the foot of one of the small beds as she sat down on the edge of it. She absentmindedly set wards around the room and opened conversation, "now then, is this to your liking?"

 

Seheria Mori

Black Sister

Being herself <.<

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Arcon played his part of the chastised nobleman. His lip pulled into a sneer, his eyes daring the innkeeper to say one word about what he had just witnessed. This time however, only the pertinence was faked. He had come to his companion with respect and concern for both of their lives and possessions, and had been talked down to like a child. His ire was up, and his pride was wounded. Not a phenomenal way to spend their first night together.

 

Wisely, the innkeeper kept his mouth shut, and showed them to their shared room. Even as the door was shut behind them, Arcon wove a ward of silence and spoke. “Knife!” And in the blink of an eye a dagger was sent to thunk into the wood of the bed frame. “Your wards would have given you about that much warning, Aes Sedai. You would have been far more indisposed than your back turned, and in another room besides. You want to speak down to me about my training? Within my first three weeks of the Fortress, barely able to hold the source, a woman tried to take my life.” His tone was deep, veiled anger kept in check by ridged self control. “The peace of the shadow was in place, but does that ever matter, Aes Sedai?” He spoke the words with a sneer, “On her second attempt I fed her to the darkhounds. That, my dear, was my training.”

 

Arcon still held the source, preparing himself to be attacked. He’d been trained extensively in facing women, the counterpoint of which he very much doubted his companion had. Still, he softened his tone, keeping his anger exposed, but reining it in tighter and tighter as he spoke. “The power is not some be all end all solution to keeping us alive. A bit of guile, instincts, and some flaming common sense will get us much further than reigning fire or summoning a gale ever would. “ He closed the gap between them, reaching forward to retrieve his blade. “I’ve come out into the world many times, survived surrounded by men and women who openly serve the Great Lord. Killers, thieves, rapists, all wearing their colors proudly.” The dreadlord took a steadying breath, and met the woman’s eyes. “I know the kind when I see one, and I’ll be damned if I am going to let appearances or pride kill us.”

 

His speech mostly exhausted, he turned and began stepping out of his travelling gear. He was methodical, and purposely turned his back to her. If there was a greater show of trust between two such as them, he’d never know. “Now, as for trusting you. I’ve only just met you, Seheria. All I know is that you can channel, and you and I serve the Great Lord. Placing myself in the same room as yourself is a threat to my person, as all it would take is for you to decide I represent to much of a risk and I’d be dead before I woke.” He turned again to face the woman, his tone matter of fact. He doubted he needed to state that the reverse was also true. He’d even contemplated it, but as it often did with the Carhien, logic and greed won out over vengeance to petty insult. Oh, he’d never forget the insult, but she served a far greater purpose alive and well.

 

“The rooms are fine by the by, though I doubt that they serve a passable wine. “ Arcon hoped that the lighter conversation change would be taken for an attempt to soothe tensions between the two. His display had been over the top, and fueled by his rage at the insults she’d delivered to him. Still, the point had to be made. She was older than him, he barely crested his fiftieth year, but he knew what it took to survive out here. He wanted to use that information to keep them both alive. Still, there was one barb as of yet unanswered. “Oh, and if I’d wanted a dalliance tonight, there was a Saldean trio downstairs who I’m sure would have made me work to get into their rooms.” His grin was wide with the implications. Let her take that how she will.

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“Knife!” The word was the only warning she had before the thing flew across the room into the wooden frame of the bed. She wouldn't give the man the man the satisfaction of frightening her, and was rather surprised that he let his anger be known so easily with the childish show.

 

“Your wards would have given you about that much warning, Aes Sedai. You would have been far more indisposed than your back turned, and in another room besides. You want to speak down to me about my training? Within my first three weeks of the Fortress, barely able to hold the source, a woman tried to take my life. The peace of the shadow was in place, but does that ever matter, Aes Sedai? On her second attempt I fed her to the darkhounds. That, my dear, was my training." Though he kept control of his anger as he began to speak he let is slip slightly in the end. Was he truly incapable of holding his emotions back, or was he trying to intimidate her? Seheria kept a calm demeanor and straight face as she listen to him go on. She tried to read the man while he spoke to see through his mannerisms what his angle was.

 

She could only assume it was the latter and she would not be frazzled by a flying knife and a veiled threat, no matter how deadly she knew those both could be from this man. "With such training and experience I'm sure you must have learned a great deal of ways to protect yourself in a room alone. If a woman in the Fortress could not dispose of you there, why should you be so frighted of an sweat-browed innkeeper?" She knew better than to give the man chance to reply; the point could drag on, but the moment had past. "Come now, does it really matter in the end? You asked for a shared room and I delivered you that. If my words offend, I retract them. I suppose I give you credit where you are too humble to accept it."

 

The day was long and she was more than ready to be done with it and if it meant making nice with the man she could do that to see herself in the bath before it cooled. "If you have no objections, I believe I will take advantage of that bath I had the maid run. If you would like to find those Saldean girls and work," she let the emphasis sting on the word, " your way into their room, see that you have returned to this one by sun up. The sooner we get started in the day the more ground we can cover and the sooner you'll be returned to your house."

 

As she closed the door between the tub and her companion to undress, she hoped he hadn't taken her remark about the Saldean women as a cover for her own her longings. There was no interest on her end, and even if there had been, she would not get herself mixed up with a dreadlord. She pushed the thoughts out of her mind and she stepped into the full tub. Let the man think as he will. It could come to my advantage to play that angle in future if he does take me wrong.

 

She closed her eyes and emptied her mind, letting her muscles relax as the water flowed around her. Her body slowly sank further below the surface until even her head was engulfed. Before breathing became a struggle she resurfaced and then set to work quickly cleansing off the dust from the day's ride. She hurried through the work of it, uncomfortable knowing there was a man in the next room. She had no warder, had never taken one, and spent very little time with anyone, let alone with men. She quickly toweled off and dressed for bed, and with her dirty blonde hair hanging untied down her neck she was filled fill an odd sensation of fear she had not had in a long while.

 

Her fingers trembled on the doorknob and her heart raced at the thought of going out into the room with Arcon in her bedclothes. They were practical enough, and covered more than most of her dresses did, but that wasn't the real point of the fear. After far too long a time standing at the door she forced the fright out of mind and stalked as quickly and determinedly as she could to her bed, without so much as a glance around the room to place the man.

 

Once in the bed she pulled the covers up to her chin and shut her eyes. Soon, the thoughts of embarrassment for having all but run through the room in her nightclothes before a man turned to thoughts of the many ways that same man could kill her in her sleep. In time, those thoughts too passed and she came to terms with knowing she may not wake if she slept. Then finally, sleep did come. It was not a very deep sleep and she was awoken numerous times, but managed to drift back swiftly each time.

 

Sunrise came and Seheria rose with it out of habit. She readied herself to leave. When she was packed up she glanced at the mark left in the frame of the bed from Arcon's knife. She turned to him, thinking to confront him and suggest he leave money for it's repair, but it was his mess to sort out and she remembered who she was dealing with. He was not some Tower Guard, though he held himself with the pride of one, and he was not some farmer's son to be taught how he ought to act in the presence of an Aes Sedai. He was a dreadlord, and though he was male, he was not to be treated as such.

 

Still she had clearly turned to say something so she forced a smile to her face as she pried her eyes away from the blademark in the bed. "It will be long day, if we mean to ride a good distance and still find a bed tonight. Perhaps we could fill up with a good breakfast before we leave? Do you have business here you would like to take care of before we go?"

 

 

 

Seheria Sedai

Aes Sedai of the Black Ajah

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  • 7 months later...

Arcon's only reply to her return speach was a nod, his mask slipping back into place. As she left, he watched her go with a sigh. Well, I suppose it is good a sudden outburst doesn't rattle her... The thought drifted idly, and even in his head he felt how hollow it was. He knew he had damaged their budding relationship, but he was much more pensive about how idly she took the meaning of his words and actions. A shake of his head, a sign of his inner thoughts he'd never give if there was actually someone to observe them. She respects the mask, I will have to employ it to get my point accross. This time his thoughts rang true to what was left of his concious. The fact of the matter was that he needed her, at least for now. He also knew that there were dangers out there that an unprepared Aes Sedai with no warder could succumb to as easily as a farmer's daughter. Perhaps easier, at least the country girl didn't have an unwavering faith in their own ability to defend themselves from 5 men with bows. Another shake of his head, before Arcon got ready for the night.

 

He was tempted to have another bath drawn, but decided against it. The innkeeper's demeanour still lingered in his thoughts, and he very much wanted to stay within the wards he had set. It wasn't fear he felt, that had long since been beaten out of him, but caution. He'd spent the last several years in the blight, and that caution had saved him more times than he cared to admit. He instead chose the wash basin, genttly warming it with a thread of fire. All of his exposed skin recieved attention, a small cloth primed with the water and a bit of his own soaps to at least attempt to cleanse himself. He didn't need to be immaculate, not yet, but he refused to look completely travel worn. Not when he traveled with an Aes Sedai. He wanted to be noticed after all, and he doubted very much that if he looked like anything but travelling nobility that would be the case. His grooming complete he stripped out of his travel clothes, and donned a comfortable pair of trousers. He briefly considered donning a night shirt for modesty's sake, but instead opted to show the multitude of scars that crossed his torso. Most were from his time aboard the Merry Pauper, and given to him by the most vile of all first mates, Mr. Sweeper, may there be a shark with a strong enough stomach to handle that one's innards. He removed his eye path for the same reason. Of course he kept the lid closed, but the scar around his missing eye still showed. His only intention was to show that there were dangers the power did not protect one from. Though he admitted that if he caught her admiring his swordsman's physique, well, it wouldn't hurt his pride.

 

He settled against the wall, his sword resting with the hilt against his shoulder, orthaganol to the door on the side it would open. It was another habbit he'd developed, never feeling comfortable sleeping directly in the path of the door. As he waited his outer wards tripped, and he loosened the blade in its sheath, five inverted weaves all poised to destroy whoever stood at his door. When his travelling companion did finally step through, he resisted the urge to chuckle, instead letting the sword settle again. "I was begginning to think you'd decided to rent another room after all Seheria Sedai." His voice was once again the cool, collected nobleman's, with a hint of warmth. His father had always told him that it was best to offer honey, regardless of what you held in your other hand. "Though it does rankle a bit, I must admit that my methods earlier were out of place. You are no more the farmer's daughter than I am a shepard's son, and we are both capable of defense, and acting to our positions. It won't happen again." It was as close to an apoligy as he felt he could muster without loosing face. "Good night Seheria." He reset his wards and let himself drift towards sleep.

 

He awoke a few hours later to his wards again being tripped, the ones outside the door. A quick glance told him his companion still slept, though fitfully. Silently he loosened his blade once again, though through some instinct he did not reach for the power. So ludicrous the thought that it took him a moment to relize what that instinct was.

 

He felt another man holding the source.

 

He thanked his paranoia dearly for the forsight to invert his wards, but thought of all the minor channeling he had done since they'd arrived at the inn. His frantic mind stayed but a hairs bredth from seizing Saidin, as he cycled through his list of enemies. The logical conclusion was that it was another dreadlord, coming to exact some sort of retribution or further his goals through the removal of Arcon. The dreadlord waited, straining his senses to hear anything from beyond the door. After a few moments, he heard the innkeeper's voice. "Boy! Don't be mad! Stick to the plan.." He heard another voice, similar in tone but lighter, younger. "But da... She is right there and she is going to take me away... Thats what they do.." All Arcon could hear was a shuffeling, and he felt the presence trip his wards again, this time leaving. He could only surmise that they had left. He thought about waking the Aes Sedai, and telling her of their situation, but it could wait until morning. He doubted they were in any real danger, not yet anyways.

 

In the morning's light his companion held a much more chipper disposition. The dreadlord stifled the forming yawn, and stood, reaching for his shirt. He gave little hint of the fact that he had not slept last night. It was a logical reaction to the events of last night, he being the one who could have sensed the boy had he made an attempt. He refused to acknowledge that he had stayed up to guard her.. "Actually yes, some buisness did come up. I think we should either convert or kill the man who stood outside our door last night holding the power. He did seem awfully interested in the Aes Sedai who would cart him off to the tower to be gentled." He delivered the words with very little infelction, the lact of sleep aiding greatly in this endeaver. "Oh, and before you worry, I watched the door last night. He wasn't getting anywhere near us, so I didn't wake you." He actually let the words fall with that same warmth he had expressed last night, and ended with a stretch and yawn as he dressed. "How would you like to proceed, Aes Sedai?"

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Seheria found her eyes lingering on the marked skin of the man's bare torso as he reached to find his shirt. Before the blow of self disapproval at her childish stare could hit her and pry her curious eyes from his form his words struck her out of the moment.

 

 "Actually yes, some business did come up. I think we should either convert or kill the man who stood outside our door last night holding the power. He did seem awfully interested in the Aes Sedai who would cart him off to the tower to be gentled."

 

His casual tone on delivery did not help the shock she felt at having missed the danger. Had they made a move for the door her wards would have set off, and she tried to school her emotions and calm her mind with this fact before she let it stir her rage. She hadn't set any wards in the hall. Perhaps that was an oversight, but they were at an inn, she didn't wish to be disturbed all night as other patrons and maids made runs through to the other rooms. Still, she would reconsider a full night's sleep after knowing that she had missed such a display and her companion had caught it. The last thing she needed was for her new contact to think her incapable in a tough spot. She was no Green and shared non of the man's battle wounds, but she had spent enough time on the side lines of battles and one didn't stay in shape for healing by getting caught off guard when the arrows flew. She had to run in to the fray more often than she'd like to help injured people to safety and saw her share of danger there.

 

Just as she was beginning to recover herself from her own unease, the man added final slap to her face with his off handed remark, "Oh, and before you worry, I watched the door last night. He wasn't getting anywhere near us, so I didn't wake you." 

 

Seheria gritted her teeth but thought she caught a hint of sincerity in the man's tone. She couldn't tell if it was meant as the insult she instictively tought it was, or if the man had meant it as an attempt at a friendly gesture  She chose to ignore her growing pride and not scoff in his face and tell him she didn't need a man to watch over her. She had stayed alive quite long already with no warder to watch her back. But she didn't say it. She found herself watching the man gather his things and she knew the argument was not one she needed to have. Besides, Arcon had said the man outside the door was looking for her, scared of what she would do to him, and he could wield saidin. Her wards would have woke if they came through that door, but it was oddly comforting to know that someone had been there watching. Whether for himself or for her, it was still a comfort. 

 

 "How would you like to proceed, Aes Sedai?" The words through her off once again. She had been sure he would this chance of her missing the threat to grasp for more control in their budding relationship, but instead he handed back as much of the reign as Seheria had ever held. What was this man playing at? She didn't spare time to let him take the question, and the power back though. 

 

 

"Well, if there were someone at the door, it seems they were concerned with finding me. You make no mention of them commenting on you." She paused to give some thought to what she would do, she had to have a clear thought, to make up for her lost sense. "Clearly they don't think I'm onto them, else I would have strung him up by now. I can't risk taking you back to the Tower with me if I were take this boy to trial; that wouldn't be a pleasant experience for either of us." She let nervous smile show at the thought.

 

"Your suggestion of converting or killing him is quite hasty. Firstly, he's probably taken his chances on running by now, and hunting him down would take daylight from our ride to the next town's inn. I will sleep in the dirt if I must, but in my many years traveling this land I've not needed to do that often. Besides, killing him  would draw eyes to us as well. We made quite the show here yesterday, and I'd prefer to be remembered for that show if I were needed to be remembered with you at all - no offence meant by that, of course."

 

Seheria gathered the last of her things and prepared to leave, "I would sooner go about taking our leave as though we had not noticed them outside the door. Go on in supposed ignorance, eat a quick breakfast, thank them for the room and leave them thinking they outwitted the great Aes Sedai, and looking over their shoulder for the Sister they will assume I called in for backup." 

 

Seheria let him take a moment as he seemed to be thinking over her suggestion. If he would rather take the rash choice to hunt this man down Seheria would reign him in with his own plot, calling him out in the street to heal. She hoped it wouldn't come to that. Such a show could surely strip any chance of him actually returning a favour, should continue to let her play her part in this one after it, but she was sure at least in the moment the man would heel. It wouldn't come to that. After a moment of thought Arcon agreed that leaving as though nothing had occurred would be the best plan. 

 

Seheria made her way to the front desk and found the inn keeper there. She forced herself not to look as though she was reading the man, a more difficult task to do when expected to hold the Aes Sedai mask that made it seem you were suspicious of everyone. She wanted to keep him at ease as much as she could. She asked for her bags to brought to her horse and for the horse to be readied to ride. When she had that confirmed she made her way to the common room and ordered a meal. Surely Arcon wouldn't mind a little more time to make a show of waking with the Aes Sedai and gathering a crowd to watch them leave together. 

 

They didn't linger longer than needed to look like a natural, non suspicious exit and Seheria found her way, somehow, back upon her mount. The muscles she had strained the day before protested in remembering the shape of the saddle and she found herself wishing self healing worked. She tossed a glance to Arcon, wondering if perhaps he knew the weave, but a shudder ran up her back at the thought of him actually using saidin to delve her. She took the momentary glance as a check to see if he was ready to go, and it seemed he was so looked back to the road and lead the horses off.

 

Seheria Sedai

Yellow Aes Sedai of the Black Ajah

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The dreadlord again gave his nod of approval to her plans, going through the motions and inacting the masque he'd spent his life perfecting. Flawlessly he switched roles to the arrogant young nobleman for show at their farewell breakfest, treating the serving staff with the disregard typical of his class. He mounted his horse, motioning for her to lead the way out of town. Again he slipped back into the collected dreadlord, unfolding his shoulders and sitting high in the saddle, but still keeping the loose hands on the reigns of an experienced rider. His inner emotions however, didn't reflect his collected exterior. He knew they were still in danger, and felt the Aes Sedai should recognize it as well. While it was true that they should be able to handle any untrained wilder male, there was an unaccountable factor facing the two. The Taint on Saidin. While the dreadlord himself was immune, his binding to the Great Lord shielding him from the filth coating t he True Source, this wilder would not be. Any insane man was a threat, shearly on his unpredictability, an insane man with a firm hand on the One Power could not be underestimated. Arcon would never throw a weave that placed himself in danger just to destroy an opponet, the same could not be said for a man in the thralls of the taint. Peace Arcon... she has never touched the taint.

 

He refrained from exhaling before he trotted up to the Aes Sedai. He would push past it, and if they were attacked, him being able to sense the other male should be enough to give them preperation. He had a decision to make if he'd share that warning however. "If we're out of danger for the moment, we might as well continue our discussions. I believe it best to enter the city under false stealth. Hooded, but displaying our allegiance. Let them think that I am out of practice within the Great Game, giving the impression that I am attempting to hide my return for some sort of effect. The rumor mill can really only serve to bolster my ability to play. A simple brooch ought to the job for me, if you agree I'll leave it to you on how to falsly conceal your status as an Aes Sedai." He wanted to keep her occupied and on task, on the off chance that her decision was completely the correct one. He'd taken a gamble passing control directly to her, wanting to see how she would handle this situation. He held hope that she read something he didn't, even if he scarcly believed it himself.

 

Before he had the chance to move the conversation forward, his mind snapped up to the tree cover. He felt a huge gathering of Saidin, far more than he could hold on his best day. Maybe more than I could hold with one of the teaching stones... His decision to hold back the information was made for him. "Embrace Saidar! Air shields! Trees! Now!" He grasped Saidin himself, spinning three of his cardinal elements together in fire, air, and spirit. He formed a net the caught and transferred the heat from a what was a scalding blast of air and fire. The heat was drawn to the ground on tethered strands of spirit, and he took the moment to admire his opponet. The weave gave almost no visual componets, only a heat shimmer as it moved. It was a brilliant wave for wiping away an opponet who could not see to defend themselves. He relied on his companion to block what was left from the force of air with her own shields. Arcon however had played his hand, revealing his own ability to channel. Without knowing how many men assaulted them, he was nervous his cover would be blown. Relying on his sense of where the man was, hiding in some small bush cover, he wove.

 

It was a small weave, but its complexity should lend him an advantage on one who was untrained. He wove pure air, setting up air razors, and spinning them together into a cone, and set it to run forward into the bush. The result was a small tornando with razer edges, tearing up a bit of the ground and spitting the loose dirt into the air. "We need to kill them, now. If they show that I can still channel..." He didn't need to complete the threat, the implications completely obvious. He wouldn't be able to return home, and there was a chance that neither would she. The man dove out of the bushes, but Arcon was rewarded by a set of two screams and a small plume of blood. Their enemy channeller was a wiry man, but with lean muscle. Obviously the boy was used to physical labor, his arms scarred, and completely comfortable with the mess of dirt and leaves covering him. What bothered Arcon was the complete lack of sanity in his opponets eyes. The man's paranoias would be reenforced by the appearance of a man traveling with an Aes Sedai who held his power, who could compete and make the playing field so much less than fair...

 

The dreadlord nearly shuddered at the thought as he again wove death in the form of his brand of fireballs. Fire with a coiled knot of air inside, they flew and expanded rapidly upon closing on the target, greatly increasing the fury of the flames with the additional source of air. They needed to end this quick, the thought existing with a curse as the man dodged again, weaving more fire. He had to wonder how long before the insane man thought that death was preferable than loosing the source...

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Seheria felt a strange sense of pride as she noticed the ease of the switch from the nobleman farce in the city to the 'back in business' dreadlord she found herself riding beside out of town. The change wasn't much, but it was enough for her trained eye pick up on and it pleased her to know she had indeed chosen a sharp and able contact. Not many people outside of the White Tower could switch so easily into subtle roles with such control. She'd met a few bards in taverns who could play the moods, but even some of them would challenge this man's grace with it. Yes, she had chosen a good ally. 

 

He seemed tense and his eye darted to the distance. She rode with as much ease and grace as the beast beneath her would allow while bouncing her about, and with as much ease as her mind would give her. Knowing only hours ago someone had been waiting at her door ready to attack, and knowing she hadn't seen him since didn't bring much ease to her. 

 

Clearly the boy knew the power he held, and now he could be anywhere. She kept her eyes from darting to ever bush and tree they passed, but it was growing hard not to. She tried to force herself to believe the boy had run off to avoid her. She tried to convince herself he was no threat as he'd want nothing to do with her and wouldn't take the stupid chance of getting caught and hauled off to the Tower. But the taint made those men crazy and a crazy man could do anything if he thought he was pressed. 

 

As her thoughts raced and her trust waned her mind wandered to the hold her companion had on himself. He didn't seem crazy, but then, he had thrown a knife at her head just the night before. A shudder ran up her spine at thought and before she realized she had a hold on saidar. She thought to let it go, but she drew comfort from it.

 

Just then Arcon began to speak and Seheria just barely fought off the physical jump of surprise,  "If we're out of danger for the moment, we might as well continue our discussions. I believe it best to enter the city under false stealth. Hooded, but displaying our allegiance. Let them think that I am out of practice within the Great Game, giving the impression that I am attempting to hide my return for some sort of effect. The rumor mill can really only serve to bolster my ability to play. A simple brooch ought to the job for me, if you agree I'll leave it to you on how to falsly conceal your status as an Aes Sedai."

 

"It's all well and good for you to conceal yourself, Arcon, but why ever would your formal escort from the Tower, who's purpose is supposed to be delivering you home and declaring you gentled and safe to rejoin your house, conceal herself and sneak around? What have I to hide?

 

And what of your display all morning? Clearly you were making a show, would you have that show lost now? If you wish to be concealed I won't stop you, but I won't conceal myself when my mission is to clearly be your escort from the Tower. Rumor could be good to keep word going that you're coming and concealing would make a good show of trying to hide you from possible attacks before you arrive. Perhaps its a tactic to consider when we're closer, but it is too soon to play those games now."

 

She expected some retort, a reasoning to push his idea and she was quite surprised at the outburst when he did shout the order, "Embrace Saidar! Air shields! Trees! Now!" She hadn't let saidar go, but she was stunned until the words were fully processed. By that point the flair of fiery heat was upon them, and in a blink it was out. A late shield of Air went up around her as her horse reared. She struggled to regain control of the beast as the land between Arcon and the treeline shredded. "We need to kill them, now. If they show that I can still channel..." His words cut off when the sound of screams from the woods rose. She wanted to argue with him, but she knew the argument would be lost on him now as he was already moving toward the boy. Working against him could be dangerous, but she needed more time to think.

 

Fire rose from her companion and flew around the woodlands. "This ends now!" Seheria called weaving air tightly and knocking it into the attacking man. He fell backward from the force of it, his head bouncing off a rock. Her heart jumped to her throat and she wasn't sure if it was from the sudden jolt of instinct to run to him to check for head injury or if it was from the ease of the attract without the three oaths holding her back. She dismounted as she pushed all emotion aside while weaving binds of air around the body laying on the ground and set to work separating weaves to put out the small fires that had spread to the grass from the fire fight. 

 

She approached the body and was pleased to find no blood. She kept the binds in place but focused the rest of her attention to delving him. She could sense him regaining his senses and wove the practiced weave to coax patients to sleep. It was a weave every Yellow of more than a day in the Ajah infirmary knew. The skinny boy drifted to an unconscious state and Seherai stood, satisfied no real harm had come to him.

 

"Were you going to burn the whole woodland down in your show, dreadlord? Did you forgot your days being gentled in the White Tower so soon?" She declared. "Burning this man to a crisp would only remove the one chance to hide your part in this. If a sister found him she'd know it wasn't Saidar that took him and it would take a bit, albeit not much with the taint, to convince her it was all self done."

 

She realized she let her emotions take her and with the immediate threat gone she reigned herself in. "Well, this changes things. I still can't take him to the Tower, but I can't leave him here to expose us. We've got to keep moving if we wish to sleep in a bed tonight, and who knows when someone will come to check for the boy here? He'll not wake for a while. I wish I could say how long for sure, but I can't. Perhaps we could use him when he does wake." She didn't know how they'd use him, but it was a better thought than leaving him behind so close to the Tower to undo them. "How did you plan to disguise us earlier? We can't travel the three of us without suspicion."

 

Seheria Mori

Yellow Aes Sedai of the Black Ajah

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