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Stranger Reflections (Attn: BB)

Nyanna al'Meara

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Bright sunlight filtered merrily down through lush green leaves, scattering the forest floor with a carpet of golden coins, and Wyn trotted over them, unheeding - unlike his rider. Miri lifted her face up to the warmth and smiled, marvelling at the clear woodland beauty. This was much, much better than a dark tower room. Oh how she had missed the outside, the fresh air, the colourful aliveness of every living thing around her. This was pure freedom!


Well, actually... Miri lifted the reins and let her big bay slow to a more comfortable pace. Truth be told, she was rather bored with it - not the freedom, definitely not, she was more than glad to be out on her own. But what to DO out here on her own? The fortnight since she had left her father's lands had passed entirely unlike the romantic stories of book travelers. The days were long, it was cold in the nights, Light thank that it hadn't rained yet at least, and after a slightly unsettling run in with some sneering drunks at an inn from which the lady innkeep had rescued her, she began looking at her new life with slighlty different eyes. Not that she needed rescuing, Miri's knife was right by her belt at all times... it was just not exactly as she had expected it to be. Where exactly was she going? What was she going to do, besides the notion of having adventures - and those didn't exactly come dancing across her path every day jingling bells either. Her belt pouch already felt lighter, the thoughts about where she was headed growing heavier day by day.


Miri had no idea where she was exactly, either. For now, she enjoyed riding out when and where she felt like, riding cross-country (it occured to her that her father may have sent search parties. When and if he found her missing, that is) and exploring potential camp sites when she felt like resting. It wasn't like she truly expected herself to believe her story about searching for Seoman in case he was alive either - it was false hope, whatever she would like to believe in. So she stopped chewing her lip, shook her head and clucked to Wyn, falling back into a light jog the gelding could keep up for hours. She could worry later, because right then they rounded a bend to a gorgeous sight. Weeping willows cascaded into a small natural pond, incessant ripples spreading in all directions and making the water sparkle.

"Thirsty, boy?" A noisy snort. "Well I am!" Miri grinned and swung her leg over the saddle horn. Then stopped. A creeping feeling prickled the hairs at the back of her neck, and she frowned at the feeling entirely out of place with the beautiful, sunny surroundings. She shrugged. Dismissively Miri slid down the side of the saddle with a playful, exaggerated movement, and landed her boots on the loamy ground with a muted thump. She could hardly believe the perfection of the clearing, the rich greens and yellows and other shades of the rainbow. Tying Wyn to a bracnch, Miri shook off her boots and waded through the deep loam, then into the shallows and ...there was no other word for it... splashed. Like a young child let out for play. Who cared, she was alone after all. Wait what was that horse doing now!?


Wyn blew air and pawed the ground expressively, looking at her with intent hazel eyes. "You know you're not getting your feed till we make camp, fatso!" Miri rolled her own eyes as the horse kept pawing, and resumed wriggling her toes in the mud, grinning with delight. Alright alright, she thought, and returned to fetch the water skin from behind the saddle. Huffing, Wyn threw his head up high now and nodded as if speaking. What in the Light... Laughing, Miri returned to the lakeside and shook her head at his antics while she filled the skin.


The water was so clear... mesmerizing. Miri stared at her reflection, watching as the ripples distorted her smile, smudging her hair with the surroundings... mirroring several pairs of her eyes!!??!


Miri jerked up, screeched, almost fell into the shallows onto her backside and fumbled for her knife as she splashed away from the tree she'd been under - and its inhabitant.

Edited by Nyanna al'Meara
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Arkin was lazy. He was also curious. These two characteristics combined were the reason he was sitting in a tree, watching a girl walk splashing through the shallows with a grin. One of the other scouts, one of Arkin's drinking buddies, had found her a while back and reported the occurrence back to Arkin...



Arkin glanced back with a grimace at his half-yelled name. Just because they hadn't noticed anyone in the area was no reason to give away their position to anyone who cared to listen. He gestured for the other man to come closer. "Fraider, you wanna try a whisper some time?" he asked.

Fraider threw him a look and Arkin rolled his eyes. "What is it?"

"There's a boy back there. He has a horse and a pack, not much else, and that's hardly enough to last him too long out here." Fraider replied.

Curiosity instantly piqued, Arkin's eyes narrowed and a grin began to turn up the corners of his lips. "Any idea what he's doing out here?" Unless you were actively looking for the Citadel, there was really no reason to be around this area.

Fraider shrugged. "He didn't really have the look of a seasoned soldier. Or any kind of soldier, actually. Do you want to arrest him?"

Arkin grinned. "Where's the fun in that? You say he doesn't look dangerous?"

Fraider shook his head.

"Then let's see where he goes." Arkin replied, feeling his boredom lift. Scout parties definitely lacked any interesting factors most days. Lots of being quiet, lots of looking at things and listening to things, not much action. "Fraider and Selio go and wait by the grove, Bijun and Rax next to the river, I'll go wait in the willows. There's nowhere else he can go from here unless he wants to turn tail and go back the way he came. If he gets as far as where you're waiting, take him and give a call."


The scouts melted away into the forest and Arkin walked cheerily, yet still stealthily over to his chosen spot stationed above a pond in the drooping branches of some friendly trees. Years of thievery had given him an easy path to the stealthy lope, something he did without thinking, so his path through the forest went entirely undetected. Or at least it would have, had anyone been there to watch him...


It had taken less than ten minutes for a horse's clop to be heard approaching the pond, before a light, cheery and definitely not masculine voice started speaking. Arkin looked down at the intruder, a short and golden haired girl. Surely she was a girl...Either that or Arkin was far too appreciative of the prettiness of someone from entirely the wrong gender. Arkin was impressed as the girl froze, as though she'd sensed someone nearby. She was good. Very few noticed Arkin's presence unless he wanted them to. He hardly felt inclined to move or comment though. If very few noticed his presence, no-one actually found him. Except Master Gabbon...but he hardly counted.


The girl shrugged and continued on her merry way. Arkin had to hold back an enchanted laugh as she began to splash about in the shallows. She was definitely a she. And a delightful one at that.


Grinning and coming back to the present, he gave a bird call to bring the others to him, and climbed further up and out so he was positioned right above her, leaning comfortably over the branch. It didn't take her long to notice him, and she gave a shriek, splashing back out of the water and fumbling for the knife attached to her belt.

Arkin didn't bother moving. She could shriek and swish and splash and stare up at him with that knife all she wanted. If she wanted to run, he had scouts closing in on her, and if she wanted to attack him, she'd have to climb the tree first.


"Hello there. No need to brandish that thing at me." he promised. "You'd lose anyway. Fancy telling me what you're doing around these parts?" he asked as the other scouts appeared from between the trees.

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Oh the cheek, just sneaking up on her like that. Miri's eyes flashed in indignation as her initial shock subsided and her racing heart slowed. She tilted her head quizzically as the stranger from the reflection smirked down at her, the lout, and spoke before she could utter anything but the shriek she had just.


"Hello there. No need to brandish that thing at me." he promised. "You'd lose anyway. Fancy telling me what you're doing around these parts?"


"Good day. Well.." She was trying for time, thinking of what - or even if at all - to answer by pulling her boot out of the mud with a long, deliciously drawn out squelch.

Then, out of the corner of her eye, movement - head whipping around as others began emerging from the surrounding undergrowth, Miri brought her knife back straight out in front of her and hopped warily up onto the bank.


They all were dressed in clothing the colour of woodland - and in the make for light combat. Indeed, each carried a handy weapon of some sort, and they positioned themselves in a wide arc around her, but other than that they did not seem too  Yet.


"I'm just..." She frowned, again reminded of her plans - or rather blatant lack of them. "Err...travelling! Doing my own thing. Are these your lands? If I am trespassing, well I'll continue on my way. I mean you no harm" Miri quipped, aware of the laughable nature of that last quote. She was hardly a danger to them.... Well, against these odds it was probably best to show a bit of friendliness. Respect...not so much, not unless they showed her any. Pleased with her assessment of the situation, and courage bolstered by this self assurance, Miri lowered her small knife just a little. She dangled the wrist holding it nonchalantly by her side, and looked boldly at him who seemed to be their leader. The young man who had spoken to her was just swinging down from his unexpected hiding place, his hair in swaying tinkling braids and making a striking contrast against his pale - Cairhienin? - face and bright bright blue eyes. Like a curious bird. With braids. Miri shook her shortened hair out of her eyes and snorted.


"You're outlaws!" It was not so much of a question as an accusation, followed by another sniff and a raised eyebrow - the picture of bold confrontation while really her mind raced, piecing together what she had read in books about these 'bands of merry men'. And women, she added the afterthought as she spotted a few feminine faces around too. Who were these people??

Edited by Nyanna al'Meara
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Arkin didn't look up as his scouts appeared, forming a rough circle around the bank of the pond while one of them, he assumed it would be Bijun, was still scouting a few spans off, playing guard to their turned backs. He was very tempted to yell out to Fraider, in which country the person before them was a boy, but he refrained. He would much prefer to see how far the charade would last. How well the girl had it planned out. She didn't have enough supplies to make it far out of the woodland, and now that they had found her, she would either be taken to the Citadel or blindfolded and escorted out of the forest to a road and sent on her way. She was almost too close for the second option to be viable, and somehow Arkin figured that a girl that had gone to lengths to appear as a boy, going through the forest with a horse and a knife had to be either a runaway, or an adventure-seeker. Maybe both. Who knew? She certainly didn't have the manner of one long out of home, with her haughty nature and loud sniffs. Even she had to recognise how badly outnumbered she was.


"Well, you're correct on one count, but I can't speak for the others in the group." Arkin grinned as he replied. His thieving past certainly placed him in the outlaw bracket, and likely a few of his group as well. "But worry not, that isn't quite our current occupation. We are not currently outlaws, we're in a more organised and slightly more legal group. What is your name? Where were you travelling to?"


Arkin wasn't playing fair. He knew that the girl probably didn't know where she was travelling to, but if she did try and give them a location, unless she was trying to get to the Citadel, she was going the wrong way. And he also fancied seeing about her boyish alias. Who was she as a he? Who was she as a she? Arkin was intrigued by the story that had to be hidden in this meeting. He was after all, still a musician and a storyteller.

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Miri raised an eyebrow as she contemplated this strange and unexpected company more, pondering on what to do or say next.

Correct on one part? It was hard to believe… the grinning young man had an honest look about him, and a social, happy attitude that made it difficult to imagine him skulking around ambushing poor (well, rich really) travellers. That’s a lot of questions Miri thought suspiciously, but she automatically answered “M- Malachias.”

That was close. She kept a cool expression, clearing her throat and pretended it had been no more than a cough. Luckily the old habit of answering with that name had stayed immediate and fairly believably sounding in a deeper cadence since she had last convinced a Tavern bouncer in her father’s village that she was indeed no runaway but a scullery boy in the castle kitchens. That had been a good while ago, when she had been younger and still growing into her looks.. Luckily her garb was rather concealing. A while ago… before her brother had disappeared.


Wait a moment. Miri’s thoughts froze, was it not widely assumed that Seoman had fallen prey to an ambush by highwaymen or other somesuch motley folk?


"But worry not, that isn't quite our current occupation. We are not currently outlaws, we're in a more organised and slightly more legal group. What is your name? Where were you travelling to?"


Heh, words were easily said, assurances easily made. But he seemed true enough, for now. She only hoped this band would buy her farce – at least until she had made a conclusion about them. And their intentions. People were likely more respectful towards a man than a runaway noble’s daughter. So Miri – Malachias – straightened her shoulders and swing her arms by her sides a little, projecting an air of unconcerned confidence. “I don’t have to tell you anything I don’t wish” Malachias continued, and oh so slightly twitched her sleeve where the knife was hidden. Hopefully it looked like a skilled subtle warning, she had no idea how to make the blade dance around dangerously to further impress them.


It was probably not a good idea to seem too arrogant though, so as an afterthought she added “Not until you tell me your names as well, anyway.” Pleased with her response, Mi- Malachias - looked around the group with a self-satisfied smile. They did look like a more structured band than what she had read of brigands, weapons well kept and some sort of discipline amongst them…they all stood around her and their leader without interrupting their little conversation, this band of lightly armed men and women, this band…Band… Miri’s eyes widened a fraction as she recalled a conversation her father had talked about a certain militia bearing –and named after - an unmistakable emblem. Where exactly was she anyway? Miri again uncomfortably realized that she had had no real idea where she was going, what she was doing. It  could not be far out of Andor yet, if at all… A recognition, more of a suspicion grew, as she realized what militia these men and women might belong to.


Miri turned slowly to the young lead scout, quickly drawing her Malachias face back and hoping her brief moment of realisation had gone unnoticed. “Like I said, I refuse to answer to any attempts at interrogation by some army's …footfolk” She sounded so uppity, but the words were chosen carefully to see what reaction they would receive - she was really pushing the boundaries now. "Take me to your leader."


Anything to get answers.

Edited by Nyanna al'Meara
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Malachias, hmm? The stutter had been tiny, the name had sprung to her lips with a certain ease and familiarity that had Arkin even more curious than he had already been. In all of his travels and escapades, he had never changed his name. After his parents had died, he had clung onto everything he had left of their memories to pull him through the lonely nights and terrifying danger of the city for a boy trying to protect and feed his baby sister. That baby sister had died. Arkin had nothing left of his parents except one scrap of material that both his mother and sister had worn and the name they had given him. Through the years that had followed he had lied, cheated, thieved, tricked and sneaked his way in life to survive, but never had he ever thought to change his name.


He did however understand the desire never to be associated with something again, to never be reminded of a time and a memory that hurt too deeply. He knew also the desire to vanish into a new persona and a new life, and the shocking fear of being discovered, of being found when you were trying to run away. There were many reasons for a person to want or need to change their name, and Arkin fully respected those reasons. That didn't mean he wasn't curious.


Arkin's eyes narrowed as the girl, Malachias-if she was spreading that name around, that's what he'd call her-seemed to vanish into her memories for a moment. It was nothing big he noticed, a slight veil over her eyes as she contemplated something, remembered something. It wasn't obvious to anyone that wasn't really paying attention and it lasted only a mere moment before she straightened her back and began to reek confidence and superiority. Arkin was astonished at the difference. She managed the haughty, oh so noble air very well. He was suitably impressed. Her subtle twitch of a knife was certainly impressive for someone he thoroughly doubted had military training or fighting background, and he had a feeling that she would be very good with a bit of training. Of course, a little guess of a twitch wasn't too intimidating to the scouts around him. For those of them that didn't fight with knives, they at least knew what was intimidating with knives through being around Arkin, seeing him fight, sparred with him or seen him practicing his own twiddles and tricks. He was fond of showmanship.However, he didn't find it hard to believe that Malachias would easily fool some Infantry with that knife of hers.


“Not until you tell me your names as well, anyway."


Arkin cocked an eyebrow and couldn't help but to grin at Malachias as she demanded her information. She had spunk, did this girl, and Arkin liked her fire. She seemed to spend another moment withdrawn in her mind, her mind working and ticking and thinking. She was smart. Arkin could see that in her eyes, as he watched her mind work. Why was a clever young girl so far from home by herself with a changed name and a fake identity?


"Like I said, I refuse to answer to any attempts at interrogation by some army's …footfolk. Take me to your leader.”


There was a moment of silence...


Arkin and the other scouts laughed. Loudly, raucously and rudely.


Arkin leaned to the side, swinging down onto his branch and hanging from his knees before flipping off and to the ground. He had two few opportunities for acrobatics these days. It felt good to pull off some pointless flips and stretch those acrobatic muscles.He gave the girl a mocking bow. "Malachias then. You drive a hard bargain. I am Corporal Arkin Fletcher of the Band of the Red Hand." he replied to her demand, scratching his scraggly stubble with the hilt of his knife, which he had put in his hand as soon as he was in close quarters with Malachias. He wasn't going to be caught unprepared. "And seeing as your horse doesn't have the supplies to take you out of the forest and you neatly avoided telling us where you're travelling to, I think we will accede to your oh so polite demands." he replied.


Giving an extravagant gesture, Arkin directed Malachias to her horse. He walked alongside as she sniffed and turned with a stiff back. Fraider shot Arkin a look, and Arkin nodded at him. "Selio, Rax, you meet up with Bijun and keep patrolling. Fraider and I'll escort the fine Malachias to the Citadel. We'll send out two replacements when we get there, Drollus and Caravin are in the boss's bad books anyway, they'll be glad to get out here and away from the latrines."

The other scouts chuckled and moved off, Fraider closing in on the other side of Malachias as they began to escort her back to the Citadel.


Arkin was still amazed that people took orders from him despite having had some kind of command for a long enough while now. His old Master Gabbon would have been amazed and more than surprised. Shaking his head with a grin, Arkin asked, "So Malachias, where did you come from?"

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Miri looked confused for a second, then her eyes narrowed to dangerous slits as the others all began roaring with laughter around her. When she asked for something from a person of lower social rank than she she wasn’t used to being ridiculed… with an inward sigh she realised that she had left that life behind and could not expect to be treated as in her former life really, not by these….farmers…anyway. Not that they were farmers, that much was obvious.

She took a step back as their leader, the treeclimber, swung down with a display of acrobatics. Show-off. Miri couldn’t help but admitting being a little impressed to herself. Just enough to pretend she had not seen his ridiculing bow, but of course she did not let that show.

"Malachias then. You drive a hard bargain. I am Corporal Arkin Fletcher of the Band of the Red Hand. And seeing as your horse doesn't have the supplies to take you out of the forest and you neatly avoided telling us where you're travelling to, I think we will accede to your oh so polite demands."

As the lout scratched his beard with the handle of a knife that had suddenly appeared in his hand – again, impressive – Miri felt triumphant as her suspicions were confirmed. “Soo…the Band of the Red Hand, how interesting. She ignored his mocking tones, and rather surprised herself by admitting inwardly that she had no supplies or any other way to go really. Out to the people around her, Mir-Malachias swung around towards her horse and raised her hands in a shrugging gesture, loudly voicing a carefree “Oh why not!”

It helped to project the appearance that she was still in charge of what she did or not – even though she knew that at this point, she would have no other choice but to go with them.

And in all truth… she did not really mind. What she had heard of the Band of the Red Hand, they did not loot or pillage or otherwise treat innocent folk unfairly. Not a bad encounter to make, really. But not one to meekly accede to either.

She stalked past the treehopping squirrel’s – Arkin’s – overly generous flourish and strode to untie Wyn with a ramrod stiff back, just to show him what she thought of that. On the other side of the horse she heard him give orders to his men, and it showed just how well disciplined they were that there were no murmurs of dissent…. What a surprise, because they must have been looking forward to knowing more of this stranger being taken to their camp now.

Smirking, Miri tugged once on the intricate knot of her horse’s reins, and they unravelled into her hands. The scouts began moving off, and briefly she wondered what would happen if she leapt on Wyn’s back and galloped off. Would they shoot her in the back? Or could she be fast enough weaving into the foliage that they had no time to draw an arrow. She turned her horse, catching a careful glance from this Arkin, and wrenched her eyes away again haughtily. She was pondering this purely out of interest of course, it was her own idea to accompany them back to their camp anyway.
The other one – Fraider he’d called him? – moved to her other side as they started out. Miri’s eyes grew roguishly narrow again, and she stuck out her chin as she contemplated this turn of events. She was no prisoner, no hostage or any kind of lost soul that needed to be guarded. If she gave her word, she gave her word, and so….

Flashing a quick mischievous grin, Miri paused, and while the two scouts stumbled to a halt too she turned, grabbed the pommel, and swung herself into the saddle, in which she then sat upright with a completely straight face. She pressed her heels lightly to the gelding’s flanks and he strode forward, past Fraider’s silly expression and Arkin’s knives that had reappeared in a flash. Not looking behind her, Miri simply continued slowly down the path with a relaxed drawl of “Well come on then, I haven’t all day!”

She kept smirking to herself until they had caught up. Not very hoity-toity or ladylike in the slightest by nature, nor one given to vengeful actions, but she was rather enjoying this game of giving them as good as they got. They could be her escorts, and she looking down on them, this fine morning! Remembering Arkin’s unanswered question from just before, ‘Malachias’ shrugged and gave her prepared reply with a thumb jabbed back over her shoulder down the path they’d come. “I came that way!”

That at least got a chuckle out of them, which she shared with a grin. That Arkin, for all his ragtag appearance had a rather noticeably bright glint of intelligence in his blue eyes. She wondered how well her charade was still holding…

Edited by Nyanna al'Meara
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  • 1 month later...

Arinth set the report down and realized his eyes were crossed. No wonder it had been so difficult to understand what in the light it had been trying to say. He shook his head to try and clear the cloud of drowsiness that shrouded his brain. He had thought being a private in the infantry was bad but he had had no idea how bad being a Sergeant was. Now he was expected to know things and lead men.


Someone appeared at the entrance to his tent. He looked up with a scowl. The last thing he needed was more paper work. Instead he saw Arkin. He rose with a grin to greet his friend. He hadn't seen him as much since they had both been promoted. There was some saying about great responsibility or something. At least that is what he was told whenever they gave him more work to do.


His grin disappeared when he found out his friend had not come to share a drink but instead had brought some stranger to him. He didn't know what they wanted with him or what he was suppose to do with them but it would be at least a nice break from the paper work.


He was also curious what Arkin was up to. There was a mischievous look in his eyes that Arinth knew very well. He was not the recruiting officer. Arkin didn't seem to be too forthcoming with any additional information though.


He motioned for them to bring the stranger in as he made his sternest face. It was silly enough for Arkin to almost laugh out loud but to someone who didn't know him the scars across his face would give pause. Under his left eye there was an old scar from an Aiel spear and across the side of his neck there was a newer one from a Seanchan sword. Those combined with his broken and twisted nose made him look either intimidating or very good at getting his butt kicked.


"You asked to see me?" He asked as the stranger entered his tent and stood in front of him.

Edited by Arinth
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  • 2 weeks later...

Arkin expertly held back his grin at Arinth's stern expression as he let the tent-flap fall shut behind them. Arinth was a pretty scary fellow when you weren't in his good books and he was hoping it would be enough to test this girl's mettle and maybe rid her of that haughty attitude for a while. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it ought to be amusing, and Arkin was fresh out of laughs. He also knew for a fact that Arinth was bored out of his brain and at this time of the day was probably about ready to rip up all the reports on his desk and throw them at the nearest Cavalryman. And then go find Arkin and get drunk. This ought to keep him from harassing any passers-by and entertain them both for a while.


Arkin nearly collapsed casually onto the chest that always served as his seat, but remembered his charade just in time and straightened his back, saluting. "Yes, sir. We just came across this boy on patrol. He demanded to see our leader, sir." he curtly replied as though he were addressing his old Master Gabbon, or Mehrin. Oh, too bad Mehrin wasn't still here, he would truly terrify this new recruit.

Keeping himself drawn to attention, Arkin spotted the girl beside him attempt to copy his stance. She obviously wasn't military. Then again, it had taken Arkin a while to get the proper military look and attitude down pat when he had started out. He was a fantastic mimic, but it took a while for the stances and reactions to become his second nature. He exuded a feeling of fearful respect for Arinth so Malachias would feel the same and be appropriately terrified of Arinth.


It was only after he began the whole thing that Arkin realised he had just allowed Arinth all sorts of authority over him. Judging by the cruel glint in Arinth's eyes, Malachias wasn't the only one Arinth was going to enjoy messing with. Arkin barely suppressed a groan. He didn't have to fake the wary concern anymore. Arinth would never let an opportunity like this pass. Ah well, it'd be worth it in the end.


(OoC: looooooooool Arinth, you're awesome)

Edited by The Bard Babe
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Wide-eyed, Miri offered no insolence for once and dismounted smoothly as she and her escorts halted before one of the many tents. The size, and scenery of what they called their Citadel had swallowed all words for a while...

Ever since they had arrived those butterflies were frolicking in delight again. It had started out with a quiet thought, and suddenly the idea of staying put somewhere seemed not dull, but exciting. For a while maybe. But first….jerking back into the present, Miri ripped her eyes from the interesting surroundings, kicking herself inwardly. She had to get those romantic notions of adventure out of her head and find out what kind of people these Banders were, first.


With an expression that was supposed to paint her face into a mask of nobility – and that rather warred with the mischief dancing in her eyes again - Miri dumped her horse’s reins into those of the guard standing by the tent. Or whoever it was, but the way he stood there he would probably stay put for a while. She hoped. There was no pole to tie Wyn to and no way Miri was going to ask where she could put her mount.


So. Time to meet someone who would surely treat her with proper respect! Striding forward with a confident air Miri followed Arkin into through the tent flap.

And came face to face with a visage unlike any she had expected. She would not bloody shriek again!! Miri told herself. Her little alias would surely fly up in a most humiliating manner. Instead, Miri swallowed her cry into something she hoped only she heard as a faint squeak. Doubling back in a half stumble, half hop, she caught herself just before finding herself hiding behind the scout leader.
Cheeks growing rosy, Miri commanded her heels firmly into the ground and watching Arkin's stance out of the corner of her eye, pulled her back into the same ramrod-straight posture... or, again, at least she hoped so. She'd seen her father's guards snap to attention all her life, but obviously never thought to imitate them.

Awkwardly Miri froze there, fighting down her annoyed blush as the fearsomely faced officer addressed her with an equally intimidating voice. My, he didn't seem in a very good mood... scrabbling to gather her wits, Miri even felt slightly thankful when Arkin answered for her first.


"Yes, sir. We just came across this boy on patrol. He demanded to see our leader, sir."


So the fellow was some high-ranking soldier, despite the face and ruffian look. Feeling slightly comforted by the fact she would at least be respected for what she was now, Miri-
...felt the smile slide off her face just as it began forming. He'd said boy. Boy! Quickly checking her Malachias face was back on, Miri groaned inwardly. Of course... they thought she was a boy, some lad out travelling in search for his fortune, and she had played that part until now but... how could she claim her real identity as a nobleman's daughter and be treated befitting her station, now? She knew it was all her own fault but that did not stop Miri from shooting Arkin a very dirty glare. Which turned into a sickly glower as the full implications hit of the situation she was in now. Miri barely restrained herself from jamming fists into her pockets and sulking. What was she going to do now?! Admitting to something else would look silly, but continuing the charade was going to be even more foolhardy....


Swallowing, Miri dared herself to raise her eyes back to the glaring officer, not quite sure how to act. She resorted to keeping up the haughty manner, something she had practiced all the way into the camp. It came easier now, and she attempted something that could... or not.... be interpreted into a lazy salute, with luck. "Sir! Indeed, these, err... fine gentlemen" -another eyeball of daggers at Arkin- "kindly agreed to conduct me on to your authority. I have an interest in joining your ah, establishment..." she gestured somewhat vaguely. "...which I have heard is none other than the Band of the Red Hand!" She finished with a bright smile, behind which the doubt was spreading. Miri was certain that her vocabulary did not fit the mask she was playing, but confronted with all these new things - and a slightly daunting officer who did not seem to be in the best of moods - made it hard to focus on what she was saying while trying to keep up appearances. If this was going to turn out well....

Edited by Nyanna al'Meara
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There was something strange going on. Arinth couldn't place his finger on it but somehow he was a part of it. Was Arkin playing a prank on him? Was he playing a prank on Arkin or were they both playing a prank on this stranger? Where did it start and where did it end? He couldn't be sure. He'd have to play it slowly.


The stranger was a young, thin little man. He squeaked when he entered the tent and did some kind of hop skip intricate move backwards. Arinth wasn't sure if it was a dance move, an attempt to intimidate or most concerning, baffle him. Well, if he knew one thing it was that any impromptu dance competitions in his office would be ended suddenly with his fist. While it was safe to assume that such shenanigans were commonplace among the cavalry Arinth had no tolerance for it.

"Yes, sir. We just came across this boy on patrol.”

Arinth turned the statement over in his head. So they had caught the boy patrolling had they? He had never been fond of patrolling. Had it been outlawed? Had he signed the letter himself? He would have to look into that later. This required his full attention now. His frown deepened. More than likely Arkin was working with this stranger. Well Sergeant Arinth Roald was not easily fooled.


He walked around the newcomer in a circle. He was not short, but he was thin. Dark Golden hair, green eyes. He paused. Dark golden hair? Where had that description come from? He examined the young man again. Hmmm, there wasn't a better way to describe it.

He had the look of a scout, or maybe a medic, or an archer and of course there was a touch of silliness that reminded him of a cavalryman. One thing he knew was that this man was not an infantryman and therefore he could not be trusted.

I have an interest in joining your ah, establishment.”

So they were taking that angle were they. He wasn't buying it. The salute the man had offhandedly given had been one of the most superb ones he had ever seen. It was little clues like that one had to pay attention to. He was no raw recruit. He had to be trying to impersonate one. He glanced over at Arkin. Yes, the twinkle was still in his eye. Whatever was going on the scout was in on it.

Oh you'll join alright.” Arinth began. “You can be sure of that.” He leaned forward so that his broken nose was only inches away from the young man's face. He caught a scent that was not that of a young soldier. He was familiar to the scent of a smelly soldiers. The man had to be a medic or a scout. Arinth stepped back.

But first you will answer three questions.”

1. What is your name?”

2.What is your quest?”

3. What is your favorite color?”

He crossed his arms as he waited for an answer.

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  • 2 months later...

Malachias stayed standing straight and remained projecting that air of confidence as the officer circled her, while Miri's brain raced.


Feeling the officer's eyes boring into her back, she cursed herself for not having continued to dye her locks jet-black. It wasn't that common for a lad to have her hair's colour, after all. But no matter, as long as she acted the part and managed to convinced herself...


But therein lay the problem. She dithered on what to do. On one hand she did not mind being treated like one of their own gender, there were certain stereotypes that made men treat women differently. Or not take them seriously, which would be a big mistake. For now at least they seemed to handle her like any new recruit they'd found lurking near their camp. On the other... Miri did not want to think of the consequences if she kept up her lies and it slipped out at some unfortunate moment.

Her thoughts were interrupted yet again as the scary man arrived back in her eyesight, and leaned in with a most skeptical expression. Malachias froze. Moments later, the officer withdrew again with a minutely wrinkled nose. Disconcerted, Miri almost sniffed down at herself as well... did she smell that bad after travelling? Catching herself just before doing so, she at least managed to save some face - before the list of questions peppered at her caught her off guard, completely.


Malachias' voice belted out the answers confidently, as she imagined would a true soldier.


"Malachias, Sir!
"I seek to join the Band!"




-Ah, Light, no!  Miri cringed.

Edited by Nyanna al'Meara
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  • 3 months later...

The fight to keep his laughter inside was surely more difficult than anything Arkin had faced at Tanchico.


At first he had brought Malachias to Arinth to scare her a little and amuse Arinth. It had to be perhaps the best idea he'd ever entertained, given the results. Malachias seemed to be getting through this interview entirely by the seat of her pants and struggling the entire time as to whether or not she ought to give up the charade entirely. She was doing fantastically well, far better than Arkin was expecting, particularly when confronted by Arinth's terrifying visage.


And Arinth was just the icing on the cake. Arkin had hoped he would carry on the illusion he had suggested, but he had done so much more. Arinth, by the looks of how smug he seemed, appeared to think that Arkin was carrying out some sort of prank on him with the aid of Malachias. That meant Arkin was playing a prank on Malachias and Arinth simultaneously, Malachias thought she was tricking both him and Arinth and Arinth really had no idea what was going on. How fantastic. Light, but it was hard not to laugh.


Arkin could feel the explosive burst of laughter threatening to squeak out of his throat in a most unmanly fashion as Arinth fired questions at Malachias, and found it unbelievably difficult to find the will to hide it in his present company. Eventually however, the desire to keep the hilarious charade going won out over the desire to let it all go and laugh until he ended up on the floor.




Oh light, oh light, oh light.


Arkin felt tears gathering in his eyes at the pressure of trying to hold his breath inside. Violet? Violet?!?! What was that girl thinking? Malachias evidently hadn't thought of a manly favourite colour yet. That wasn't really something you thought of when you changed identities. But, violet? She could have come up with a worse flaming response to that question, but for Arkin, nothing could have been better. He watched Arinth's face react to the statement and allowed his own eyebrows to rise as well.


"Do you suppose this raw recruit would fit in with the cavalry then, sir?" Arkin replied, the laughter bubbling just below the surface and curling his lips into a grin.

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The young man had said the word so confidently it was disturbing. Arinth was on the verge of bellowing the word out loud himself in shock. The world had turned to madness. Arkin quipped in before he had a chance to though.


"Do you suppose this raw recruit would fit in with the cavalry then, sir?" Arkin asked. Tears were streaming down his face and his grin was not doing a very good job of holding back his laughter. Laugh at him would they.


“Violet” he muttered shaking his head. What was he going to do with them now? He fixed his eyes on the recruit. “The cavalry is the perfect place for you son. And while it looks like you've lead a rough life up to this point adapting to the Band will not be easy. Never let it be said, however, that I do not look out for my fellow soldiers. To help you get comfortable I will allow, actually insist, that you were a violet armband.”


Arinth ruffled things around on his desk looking for a paper. “Now just let me fill out this form for you to take over to the cavalry so they can get you taken in.” At last he discovered the form and scribbled nonsense on it and handed it over to Arkin. “Take this to those ninnies in the cavalry.”


Arkin saluted and started to lead the young man out of his tent. He still looked much too amused for his own good.


“Oh and Arkin, I expect you to wear a violet armband in support of our new friend here.”


After they had left he fell back into his chair laughing. As far as he knew violet armbands were not allowed and now they'd have to explain themselves to some other officer. No sir, it was not easy to pull one over on Arinth Roald.

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Well, that had been..... awkward.


Miri stalked out of the tent following Arkin, clutching her pack in one hand, the violet armband swinging on her other. He suspected. Something. The officer didn't, or so it seemed, but then again he had been all over the place as well. At least she'd fooled one, and the other seemed to take it in his stride. Maybe he wasn't such a woolhead after all. Still, no one else to blame or nark at for once, she directed her dagger eyes at the scout's back, but it wasn't long before her gaze was wrestled away by the surroundings. The camp, or Citadel as they called it was full of activity, with an air that reminded her of the days when she was young and her brother and father prepared to go on a hunt amidst all pomp and ceremony... those had been good days, colourful days.


Excitement bubbled up inside her as Miri arrived at the horselines and Arkin started chattering with the Cavalry officer she assumed to be in charge. She saw Wyn raise his head some way off and nicker, and as everything hustled and bustled around her, Miri felt that she was now part of something more. There was so much to explore, so many new things to learn... forgetting her worries for a while, Miri grinned, and hoisted her pack as the new life began.

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