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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Quiet Contemplation (ATTN. Band of the Red Hand)


James Andrew Powell
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The world was so different now. Sitting in silent contemplation beside his campfire, Zathrus pondered on the changes he had witnessed in the world. War was spread across the land and seemingly impossible to escape.

 

The wars in Cairhien had at first proven a source of stable work and good pay. Merchents traveling through the country offering good coin for any man who appeared to know how to use a weapon and was willing to escourt them through the country. But that had changed with the Aiel, seeming to jump straight from his fathers tales into a mysterious, deadly reality. The young man could almost take some pride in knowing he had faced one of the veiled warriors and emerged victorious, if only he could forget that the circumstances.

 

"They rode in a quiet cluster in the mid morning light. Eight men, well paid from a lucrative stint guarding a merchent train from Andor to the city of Cairhien. The day was quickly growing towards an uncomfortable tempreture, and none of the group was worried about watching for danger along the road. At the urging of Dav, the group stopped to eat and rest. From a short way off they heard a scream, cut off suddenly, and out of the brush an arrow took Old Ferris off his mount, crashing to the ground. And like smoke they were among them, tall, lithe men, armed with spears and bucklers, fighting their way through the group. The first of his companions Zathrus saw die to those spears was Ferris, struggling up from the ground, fumbling for his sword before one of the veiled attacker thrust a spear into his chest. The man turned on Zathrus, his blue eyes seeming to look through him as he turned and wrenched his spear free and took a step. Zathrus, gripping his kopesh in his hands readied himself to fight for his life. Chance or providence made its first appearence at that moment, as the Aiel prepaired to move, Ferris's mare, panicked by the scent of blood and the sounds of men fighting and dying around her, lashed out with her back legs and caught the Aiel in the head and chest. Sending the man flying through the air into a nearby tree he impacted with a sickening crunch. In moments that seemed to drag on for hours the melee ended, nine men dead, the two remaining facing eachother across the carnage. Zathrus, bleeding but still alive, due in large part to not having been directly involved in any of the fighting. And a lone Aiel, one arm hanging bloody and useless to his side, a single spear clutched in his good hand. The man pounced, Zathrus brought his blade up and managed to deflect the first thrust, then the second and third, then providences second appearence of the day as the Aiel tangled his foot on a dead man, losing his balance for just enough time for Zathrus to bring his sword down, cleaving the man from shoulder to stomach."

 

Eight men, and two of the black veiled savages had killed 7 of them. The memory still haunted Zathrus's dreams on nights. And despite his brave face, fear had driven the young man west, into the waiting jaws of yet another invader from another land.

 

The Seanchan did not demand much from Zathrus, but they did make finding work as a guard difficult. He had packed his armor away upon entering their lands, after hearing that the invaders would snatch up any able bodied soldier into their army. With that rumor and the fact that one of them had tried to take his horse. Zathrus had stayed off the main roads as much as possible. Now he sat, closer on Tanchico then anywhere else. Wondering what his next move would be.

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  • 3 weeks later...

As the first rays of morning light began to cast their light across the world, Zathrus woke from what had proven to be a rather unsetteling dream. Images of friends and comrades lost in battle, to illness or injury.

 

Throughout the dream a subtle truth had been eating away at Zathrus' mind. "The world is changing. Will you... Can you change with it?"

 

Deep in though he went through his morning routine. Watering his mount, checking harnesses and his saddle, gathering wood. But the mundane activities did not help him to find an answer to his own question. Could he change with the world." It was a question he knew in his heart he could only wait and see.

 

One fact remained. The world was quickly becoming a place where a man could not survive alone. Unaffiliated and unattached to a nation or organization. Great armys from both far away lands and lands he knew marched towards battle, and a lone horseman could easily be crushed in their path.

 

A not so gentle nudge snaped Zathrus back to attention. Froststar, Zathrus' gelding, had nudged his master none to gently in the back. A solid horse, strong, sure footed and quick despite his size. Had seemed to sense his owners unease and tried in his own, unique way to solve his friends unease. Slightly smaller and leaner then a draft animal. The beast had proven a worthy companion in the years since Vengence, Zathrus' original mount, had broken his leg during a dust up with some bandits.

 

And Froststar had unwittingly solved one issue for Zathrus. Sitting in the wilderness was getting him no where, and despite careful planning his supplies were beginning to run short. He had to head for Tanchico. To hell with the Seanchan, they didn't stop travelers from what he had heard. And did not restrict people from entering the city. He was only a day or two away if he traveled on the road. And with new places came new chances for work and maybe a answer to his question.

 

Zathrus broke camp, Straping on his armor, worn but well maintained. And riding off towards the city. His Kopesh strapped across his back for easy access while mounted. Looking every inch a proud, if travel worn, soldier riding in the morning sun. Not worried about yesterday or tomorrow, only about what today would bring.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Arkin looked out at the man in the clearing, going about completing the tasks that any well-maintained camp required. Usually Arkin was still asleep for those parts of the day, but he was no stranger to the tasks after a fair while of being kicked until he got up and helped out, mainly by Arinth, but often by his fellow scouts. A comfortable position in a tree was his preferred way to serve as lookout whilst the other scouts in his party ate or slept. Arkin did not often take the morning watch, but today he had risen unnaturally early and his restless nature had forced him to action. 

 

It seemed the action had not been entirely without a point. Alerting the other scouts of the presence of a potential danger moving towards them with a bright, trilling bird whistle that was practiced enough that only the other scouts could identify it, Arkin deftly ran along a branch until he could drop down silently beside the horseman as he began to trot down the road. No longer was he hidden above the eyeline of a man, and Arkin did not try to pretend that he was. Indeed, he offered the man a bright smile, though a hand rested on the hilt of one of his knives. "It's a fine morning, is it not?" he asked lightly.

 

(OoC:    SORRYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!! I completely forgot about the RP side, RL got sucky and busy and other such distracting things. Ok, where would you like this to be headed? Are you being persuaded into joining the Band? Arrested for trespassing? Does I dunno, your horse break a leg and you have to come back to the Citadel until you recover, entirely your choice, what would you like? I owe you anything you want after the super delay in replying)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Froststar spooked slightly at the rather sudden apperance of this strange man from the trees. Calming his mount, Zathrus examined the stranger with a cautious eye. He spoke with a friendly manner but his hand stayed near the knives the stranger seemed to have in abundence. After quick calculations on how best to deal with this potential threat, he dismounted.

 

"It does seem to be a fine morning. though the afternoon may prove to be uncomfortable. Forgive me if I am cautious at your sudden appearence and goodwill. But with war spreading throughout the world, I am apprehensive of strangers. Where there is one man offering greetings with his hand on a blade, there are others in wait near. So if you mean me ill, you had best hurry on and bring your friends. But if not I would ask of news from Tanchico. Is there work for a soldier there?"

 

(OCC-I would not mind some recruitment being thrown my way. I have grown attached to the idea of my faithful horse buddy. And no worries about the delays. Its the holiday season, and I had my own real world occurances to draw me away from the site.)

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  • 2 months later...

Arinth was bored. Marching was bored. Tanchico was a little bit further away than just a casual stroll. And that meant that there was going to be a lot of boredom. Drinking, cards and dice were the obvious ways to pass the time but drinking all day was not something he could do, or at least it was not something he should do all day.


It was with that mindset that Arinth was strolling through the woods looking for Arkin. Friends were another way of passing time. The only trouble was that Arkin was a scout. Arinth would have a hard time finding the man if he was jumping up and down and waving his arms in front of Arinth and the scout was doing none of those things today.


He had been wandering for a long time without seeing anyone. He held back a laugh. They would probably have to send out a rescue party. He wouldn't know how to find his way back if he got lost. He stopped to scratch his beard and looked around. Faintly in the distance he heard voices.


There was hope. He hurried towards the voice. Twigs and branches, and small saplings fell in his wake. He had never been subtle or quiet. Maybe a few lessons with the scouts wouldn't be a bad idea one day he decided. It never hurt to learn new things.


“You had best hurry on and bring your friends.” He heard a firm voice say.


Were they planning some kind of party? He hoped they weren't planning it out here in the woods without him. He pushed his way through the final trees and stepped out into the clearing behind the man. He was pretty sure all his stumbling had announced his presence long before anyone could see him.


I hope nobody is planning a party without me.” He announced as he folded his thick arms across his chest. He had missed whatever else the two men had said to each other before he interrupted them.


The man Arkin was talking to did not look pleased to see him. Arinth hadn't mean to approach him from the opposite direction and make him feel surrounded. He frowned as he noticed the horse next to the man. He wasn't dressed as a member of the cavalry but he looked like one of them. Were they planning some kind of prank? Well they weren't about to fool him.


You cavalry just don't quit do you.” He said with a shake of his head. “Well you aren't going to fool me as easily as Arkin.”

Edited by Arinth
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The arrival of the second man came as no surprise to Zathrus. The newcomer having gone crashing through the woodland around them, attempting to break every branch on his path. In a way his arrival broke the tension of the situation. 

 

The new arrival stumbled in. Smelling faintly of drink. He was quite obviously not attempting to move silently or flank Zathrus. And did not seem to know how to move through the woodlands at all, judging by the clatter. He apparently knew the other man in the area by name. Which hinted at either danger or opportunity.

 

Zathrus decided to take a chance and push them both for information.

 

"Ahh, another guest on this fine morning, Just "out for a walk" I suppose. But since you both seem to know each other. And with the mentioning of parties and cavalry  I can guess at what I've stumbled into."

 

While speaking to the men, Zathrus attempted to move himself and Froststar to a position where he could keep his eyes on both men. Planning out possible escape or a possible fight. 

 

"If I have trespassed. I can assure you it was a mistake and I shall be on my way. But...if you have or know of work needing a steady hand with a blade and a good horseman. Point me to it."

 

The moments seemed to stretch into hours as Zathrus continued to talk and position himself. He had managed to move into a position where both men were more or less in front of him. Though he felt he had done a good job keeping his face an voice neutral. He shrugged his shoulders for the fourth time, feeling reassured by the weight of his blade and armor. And pushed on.

 

None of us are natives to this region. You have the sound of Cairhien in your voice "Arkin". And you, my loud friend. Have the sound of Andor about you, Meaning you are either the worst brigands I have had the pleasure to encounter, Or you are mercenaries, and I would ask what Company you represent and what they pay for new members?"

Edited by JA Powell
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I would ask what Company you represent and what they pay for new members?"

 

Arinth couldn't help but chuckle. He didn't make that much coin with the band but he had never had any need for it. The band was his life. He had a tent to sleep in and food to eat and training, marching and sleeping to take up his time when he wasn't fighting. That was all he required.

 

The only thing worse here than the pay is the food. You won't find a group better at finding men to try and kill them though. From the looks and sounds of you it looks like you meet all the qualifications of a cavalryman.” He glanced at Arkin and winked. The scout knew what he thought of the cavalry and what their best characteristics were. And this stranger definitely fit the bill.

 

If you are looking to join up I'll take you back to camp where we can get you enlisted and setup with everything that you need. It looks like you've already got your horse. He's got an untrustworthy look in his eye if you ask me but you are willing to gamble your life on him don't let me stop you.”

 

Even if you aren't sure if you want to join up yet you might as well come along and have a meal and see everything for yourself. You've done nothing to get arrested for.”

 

He paused. He wasn't sure of that. He had kind of just stumbled into things. Maybe Arkin had been planning to arrest him.

 

He glanced over at Arkin. The scout did not correct him as Arinth was sure he would have if he had the opportunity. The scout took pleasure in little things like that.

 

Well I am heading back to camp. You are welcome to come along if you'd like.” Arinth turned around and took a step before he paused. He had no idea which direction to go to make it back to camp.

 

What are you waiting for Arkin? Lead on my friend before supper gets cold.”

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  • 2 weeks later...

Zathrus took in both of the strangers. Their mention of a meal and any kind of pay was tempting, slightly disconcerting was the mention of being arrested. The phrase in and of itself, as well as the mention of cavalry hinted at a organization closer to a army then a simple band of mercenary's. 

 

Thinking for a moment, weighing the options and the increasing danger of being unattached when every land seemed to be consumed by war. Zathrus made his decision to join this group, They did not strike him as darkfriends, and did not stink of the over zealous superiority of whitecloaks.

 

"I suppose, considering your gracious offer. I will take you up on the free meal, and meet with your cavalry and make my decision to join."

 

 Zathrus mounted his horse and turned to follow the strangers, feeling a combination of optimism and apprehension. He had made his decision, but was aware of the strong likelihood that there was no turning back from this decision. Joining a group, While possibly dangerous was a better proposition then traveling on alone.

 

"Lead on. today is as good a day as any to join. And I could use a change in scenery." 

 

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Arinth walked beside the stranger on a horse as Arkin led them back to camp. He tried to keep one eye on the horse and one eye on the man. He seemed harmless enough and he might not be that bad...for a cavalry man. The cavalry weren't all that bad though. At least from a tactical outlook they served a purpose. They needed someone to ride those horses and he wasn't about to get on one if they ever ran out of men crazy enough to do it.

 

His stomach rumbled as they walked in silence. He couldn't remember having eaten breakfast. He found himself looking forward to the gruel they would be serving. It wasn't always that bad and of course a good drink always helped it go down a little more easily.

 

You seem to be widely traveled.” He said aloud to the man. He had to say something to break the silence and get some kind of conversation going or Arkin would start whistling soon or something. Arinth didn't mind the man whistling it was just that he himself did not know how to whistle and it looked fun but how did you ask someone to teach you how to whistle. It was better just to try to carry a conversation.

 

It wasn't long before they arrived back at camp. Arinth was about to invite the man to eat when he remembered he had a horse. Horses weren't allowed into the mess hall. He wasn't sure what they did with them though.

 

The cavalry is over there.” He said pointing. “They will know what to do with your horse. You are free to talk to them from there or join us for some food first if you prefer.”

 

OCC: We can keep this going if you'd like to play it out more or wrap it up whenever you want at this point.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Zathrus and his escorts moved on in relative silence for a time. It was not quite an uncomfortable silence but to Zathrus both men still seemed on edge, and and he shared the apprehension. Unaware of the reception a newcomer would receive with their fellows and the possible danger ahead would make anyone who had spent there time in warfare share the same caution.

 

Then the man walking beside him spoke up, asking about Zathrus' apparent travels. Arnith he thought the mans name was.

 

"Some I suppose. More then I care to think about some days. Andor, Cairhein, Amadacia, and finally here. Though I do wish that I had gained more from the new places and experiences then scars and bad memories. War seems unavoidable now."

 

Sometime during the conversation they entered the camp. It appeared rather orderly and well kept. Further reaffirming Zathrus' decision to join this group. Stability was attractive and he would rather join a group of his choosing then be conscripted into another to die some anonymous death for a cause that wasn't his own. 

 

"I suppose I shall speak with the cavalry officers. And from there if there is time I will meet with you later for some food. Thank you for the company and bringing me along to your camp."

 

Turning his mount, Zathrus rode towards the cavalry section of the camp. Ready to have the whole process done with so he could get along with joining this new group and finding out what this new path he had chosen had in store.

 

(OCC: I suppose this should get wrapped up. I enjoy it but I feel its time to move on to other, newer ventures,) 

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Zathrus lead his mount towards the section of camp indicated as the Cavalry. After a few inquires about the location of the sergeant or captain in charge he was directed to the far side of the section.

 

Observing the camps layout as he moved on, Zathrus began to see through the apparent chaos of the camp to the discipline and ingenuity that lay at its organization. Every apparent division of the camp was distinctive and arranged for the most effective defense possible while not impeding the other sections.

 

Among the Cavalry, the layout was deceptively unorganized. The mounts looked well cared for from a distance, with farriers or their respective riders seeing to their needs and maintenance. 

 

Soon he arrived at what appeared to be the hub of this section. The activity of the area seemed to focus around one person. A short, broad man who appeared to be in his middle years, completely bald with a voice that somehow managed to maintain the short, clipped accent of Cairhein after having swallowed a handful of sand. 

 

The man looked up and noticed Zathrus for the first time,

"State your business. If you've come from the Quartermaster to inform me that we don't have the iron for new horseshoes I requested three days ago. Then you can run on back to the fool and inform him that if he cannot spare the iron then he had better expect a personal visit from me and the largest switch I can find to show the man the error in his ways."

 

After waiting a moment, Zathrus cautiously began to speak.

"I do not come from the Quartermaster sir. I came looking to find whomever I had to speak with to sign up."

 

The Captain's entire demeanor changed before he spoke. He now seemed to exude  a subtle yet stern sense of command. And after a moment of silence The Captain motioned one of his men over and spoke quietly to him before speaking 

"Well, I suppose I can be the man you need to speak with. Though you will answer a few questions first. First, How did you get into my camp? I swear If you just wandered in I will have to have some harsh words with the sentries. Second, what qualifies you to join my cavalry? You might be able to ride that flea bitten nag you call a horse. But any farmboy can ride a horse. Finally, and this is the important one. What right do you have to request admittance into The Band of the Red Hand? "

 

This Captain had delivered his entire speech seemingly without taking a breath. All in the same level tone, while never breaking eye contact with Zathrus. He did not seem hostile or condescending, merely curious and mildly amused by the entire situation. Though his delivery had been intense, and somewhat surprising. Zathrus had prepared to be questioned and answered with little hesitation."I was escorted to your camp by two of your scouts after some brief questioning and instructed to come here to seek enlistment. Second, I have some experience with battle, including the Aiel siege of Cairhein. I have some knowledge and experience in both small unit mounted combat and larger cavalry engagements, and I am willing to learn. Third. I have the same right as any man to decide who I wish to ride into battle with. I chose you not because I was seeking you out but because it is where I found myself to be. And in addition. regardless of your decision regarding me. If you insult my horse again we will have a problem, He has been a faithful companion for several years and as of now appears to have better manners then you do Cairhein."

 

Zathrus took a deep breath, Surprised by his outburst near then end. Though he did not regret it, and waited for the Captains response. He sat quietly for a time. His head cocked to the side while he watched Zathrus. Suddenly he stood and walked into the large tent behind him, returning momentarily with a small leather bound book several sheets of paper and a pen & ink. 

"I respect a man who respects his horse. And you have spirit boy." He set the items on a small table and began to write. First a few quick words into his book and then on the sheets of paper. "I will need you to make your mark here, this notates the date of enlistment in the band. We're scheduled to paid at the first of the month, but that can be a problem on the field." He moved on the sheets of paper, laying them out, now covered with small, orderly script. "This is your requisition for uniforms, I cannot guarantee that we can get you one in the field, but once we get to The Citadel you'll get one. These are your orders, I'm putting you with 3rd squad, in the 7th Light Cavalry Unit. You will report to Sargent Galdwin for your bunk and standing orders. I'm Captain Dalmora, welcome to Dalmora's Stormlance's. 4th Cavalry Company of The Band of the Red Hand."

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