Jump to content



Eb's Return (Open/All)


Recommended Posts

The situation was serious; which was the reason why the comedy of the moment was lost on Edward as the corporal blustered out his brief (and very emotionally charged) report of the day’s events. The infantry veteran followed the accusatory finger that the scout directed, at the one still mounted member of the party. His mood darkened even further when knives and “Piss drinkers” were mentioned in consecutive order.

“Blood and bloody ashes,” Edward repeated after the evidently distraught scout, who had at this point, screamed himself red faced and was panting with both hands leaning against his knees.
“Someone get this piss drinker down from that flaming horse,” ordered Edward as he walked around to the other side of the bay stallion. One of the sentries, who had followed Edward inside the gate, hurriedly obeyed, unlashing the rope bindings that held the criminal scum to the horse, whilst leaving the restraints as they were. The sentry, much to Edwards’s inward sense of approval, executed his order with next to no concern for the wellbeing of the subject.


“Now,” Edward growled as the figure was thrown onto the floor; a woman, he noticed, whose skinny stature and almost fragile body was not at all what he had at first been expecting from a murderous villain. His interpretations, however, were reversed when the woman raised her head and stared up. Eyes, as cold as October frost, fixated themselves upon him. And, for a brief moment, Edward found he had a sudden impulse to take a step backwards. He reigned in such impulses however; relaxing his nerves as veterans often did, and instead furrowed his brows down at the figure.
   “Now,” Edward repeated, “you have a name, lass?” The figure stirred, coughing slightly, and appeared on the point of producing an answer when Edward’s left boot connected with her exposed ribs. She gasped, body tumbling end over end as she was knocked sideways. “Didn’t quite hear you, sorry,” said Edward, his voice dripping with both anger and barely suppressed sarcasm as he stomped across to the fallen figure. “Did anyone catch a name?” A few of the onlookers looked horrified by what was transpiring before them, but the majority simply showed passive indifference.


“The Band can be hard of hearing sometimes,” Edward explained, looking down and planting one foot on top of the still nameless culprit, “especially to those that injure our friends.”


- Edward Fawn
Sergeant in the Band of the Red Hand. Infantry.

Edited by Sherper
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The kick to the ribs was as sudden as the drop she'd experienced from the horse to the dirt. Neither of the moves were entirely unexpected, given her situation and the menacing air of the sergeant before her. Eb grunted involuntarily as breath was slammed mercilessly from her lungs on landing - for a second time. Again, she did her best not to scowl or grit her teeth in the process, however much she wanted to. One false move of her jaw, she knew, would cause the pressure on the urine-laden cloth to increase to the point where the pungent, noxious liquid oozed from the gag to her mouth; unstoppable until it reached her tongue and taste buds. She took solace in the fact that here, on the hard, rough ground, she at least faced a smell that was not musky sweat or acrid urine. 


Ignoring everything else for a moment, she kept her mouth still and breathed in the new smell hungrily, albeit carefully, through her nose. Dirt. Blessed, dry, dusty, non piss-coated, non horse-scented dirt. She closed her eyes.


"The Band can be hard of hearing sometimes, especially to those that injure our friends." The sergeant's voice broke her moment of relative respite all too soon, his foot pressing down on her side. Eb turned her head ever so slowly to look him directly in the eyes and, for an instant, she believed he was about to strike her; his open hand appeared to be racing towards her face. She kept her expression blank. The blow she'd been expecting never came. Instead the gag was yanked out roughly, down over her chin, and her body was kicked away across the dirt - again.


Eb harnessed the momentum of her roll, and ended it on her knees. A scowl returned to her lips, gag almost instantly forgotten. This was not the homecoming she had imagined; not by far. She tucked her toes forward and rocked sharply back on her heels, drawing herself up into a standing position. She stood - as straight and as tall as her restraints and natural lack of height would allow. It wasn't very tall, granted, and she felt decidedly unbalanced, but she was not about to show that to the sergeant or to any other Bander who happened to be watching. Contemptuously, she shook her head and glared directly at her aggressor, barely suppressing an angry sneer. She did not like him, this sarcastic sergeant with his heavy boots, although she doubted she would act much differently had their situations been reversed.


She spat, simultaneously forcing the taste of horse piss from her mouth, and clearing her throat to speak. 


"I'm glad you care so much about our soldiers, Sergeant," she snapped, her tone dry and steady. "Although," she added, her voice suddenly dripping with just as much anger and sarcasm as his, "you might want to be a little lighter on the boot - the last time I checked, Calder didn't take too kindly to those who assaulted senior officers, either, and the name you are looking for is Eb. Captain Eb. Infantry."


She paused with another scowl, allowing the exact weight of her words to settle before carrying on, voice low this time, and dangerous.


"Obviously, we have a situation to resolve. I don't give half a spoonful of ashes if you leave me bound for the rest of the journey or not, but I strongly suggest you take me directly to the Commander - wherever he is. Regardless of whatever else has happened today, I have news he has no doubt already waited more than long enough to hear."


She scowled and took a quick look around at the crowd, waiting. For what, she didn't know.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

The side of Edward’s mouth twisted into a half sneer as he fixated his gaze upon the most curious figure. “My apologises – Captain,” he replied with equal volatility and contempt; demonstrating to all around, how far he believed her words.  “But unfortunately pretender Captains are no longer accepted within the Band.” Her eyes shone, and the flames within them intensified as Edward made his statement. Whatever else could be said, the girl did have guts. She stood with her back straight, and despite the bonds typing down her arms, she held an air of authority that almost made Edward believe her to be the officer she claimed to be.
Eb; what a curious name. Edward thought he had heard of an Eb once – but, as with most things these days, his memory was sketchy on this subject. He looked long and deep into those controlled, calculating eyes. The anger from a moment ago had all but disappeared by the time he refocused his attention around the woman’s iris – replaced, once again, by the smooth and authoritative figure completely in control of her current predicament.  This is taking too long, he thought, as a quick glance at the gathered crowd showed just how agitated they all were. He needed to put an end to this, and quickly. “Doral, Molask; get this troublemaker out of my sight.” He called for two guards he had seen earlier. “Chuck her in the detainment pit, and throw away the keys if you wish.” He wouldn’t actually throw away the keys, of course – he’d carefully tuck them away until Calder could get back and Flaming tell him what to do with this whole mess.
   “Way above my bloody paygrade,” he sighed as he watched the pair of guards escort the figure towards the holding pen. Since he was currently the highest officer on watch, it would be his responsibility to look after the prisoner; which meant extra shifts, and extra paperwork. His mind moaned inwardly as it calculated the rough amount he would have to complete for an event like this. Edward hated doing paperwork.
   Better go sort out the guard rosters. They had no one currently being detained, so he would need to schedule a squad to be on rotation to keep an eye on the building. Calder should be back sometime next week, or so he hoped. He decided he was going to need a cup of Kaff before he started doing this; the caffeine would at least ease his desire to strangle something small, cute, and probably of the woodland variety.


~Edward Fawn
Sergeant in the Band of the Red Hand. Infantry.

Edited by Sherper
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Bound as she was, and still with the piss-laden gag around her neck, Eb waited in the laziest, most self-possessed crouched position she could muster. 


Two days. Two days in this Light-forsaken, mud-encrusted holding 'cell' and she was going crazy. 


She glared at the guards as they changed shifts and took up station outside her cell, glared at the other random Banders as they passed by, this way and that. Initially she had passed her time scanning the flow of people for faces she knew; now she was not so entertained.

Her jaw locked with the force of gritting her teeth, her hand twitched surreptitiously towards a knife that was not there, her fingers curled into fists, and every single one of her wiry muscles was taut, again. The clanging from the ... lab... next door continued, as incessantly as ever, ringing mercilessly in time with the pounding in her head. 


 Her hand twitched again, the tension in her teeth intensified, and her fingers started flicking unconsciously, as if fielding her knives. Slowly. As if turning the blades ever. so. slowly.


She narrowed her gaze and, seething, focused first on the wall of the lab beside her cell and then on the guards at the gate. The knives that were not there continued to turn, slow and steady.


She smiled.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

"Interesting characteristics.  Might respond to a shock from build-up charge from wool.  Must test this."  Not looking up from the sheet of parchment in his hand, Pahl walked into his lab and to the high-top table where he kept his various projects spread out, divided in ways that only made sense to him.  The last person who had tried to arrange the desk had set herself on fire.  It had not ended well for her.  His attention focused on a green paste that sat on one corner of the desk.  "Fire can ignite it, but it burns before it spreads.  Maybe some sort of flint-and-steel action?  No, too unpredictable.  Later."


Lifting the wooden bowl of green paste, Pahl walked out of his lab and to the metal cages outside.  He was not sure why there were cages outside his lab, but they were handy.  Idly, Pahl noticed that there was a woman nearby, but he did not pay any attention to her.  As far as he cared, she could be in the cage or out of it.  No matter.  Carefully, Pahl spread the green fluid over one of the bars.  It oozed slowly down the length, gaining only about an inch before Pahl returned with an ember from the small forge fire in the lab.  The green gel flared to light, burning the bar black beneath it before it extinguished.  The bar was blackened, but it was not nearly enough to even warp the bar.  Nodding to the woman nearby, Pahl said, "Not hot enough.  Need to adjust proportions to create something more impressive.  Notice anything interesting?  No, of course not.  Wasn't watching."  Still muttering to himself, Pahl wandered back into his lab.




A week later, Pahl once again came out of his, brandishing a wooden tray covered in a green paste that could not be compared to anything found in nature.  "Higher burn point.  Should burn faster.  Might even melt bars.  Must test."  Nodding to the woman who seemed to have made a habit of visiting his lab at all hours of the day, Pahl carefully applied the paste to the bars, then returned to the lab.  Fetching a hot iron from the forge, Pahl carried the hot iron from the forge to the metal cell, where he applied it from several feet away to the paste.  It instantly burst alight, burning white and radiating heat the caused Pahl to flinch away from the source.  He idly noticed that the woman had also flinched away, but he did not really care about what she was doing.


It was over quickly.  Where the paste had been applied, the bar had been blackened and warped, leaving a place in the bars that Pahl could have broken with a hammer.  "Good.  Very good.  Now if I can figure out how to produce it in bulk, this could be useful.  Possibly preparing a battlefield.  Possibly hurled from a catapult.  No matter.  Must focus on the fireflower powder.  Holds more promise."  Not even looking up as he walked past her, Pahl handed the rough-haired woman a length of string.  "Please hold onto this.  Need to run another test."  Letting the string unwind behind him, Pahl again went to the forge, where he set the other end of the string into the forge fire.  Immediately a fountain of sparks flew from the end of the string and moved slowly along the length.  Following the length, Pahl kept muttering.  "Hmm.  Burns evenly.  Few jumps in the thread.   Good, good.  Seems to be burning well.  A bit slow, though, but that can be fixed.  Smells strongly.  Doesn't matter.  Should not need much more than a couple inches for practical uses.  Does it ignite powder?  Must test this further."  Looking up, he saw the end of the string in the woman's hand.  "Umm... ma'am?  You should probably drop that-"  With a loud curse, the woman dropped the sparking string to the ground.  "Ah, never mind."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

The flame on the string fizzled out in the mud. Eb stared at the eccentric young man as if he'd handed her- well, as if he'd bloody-well handed her the end of a strange string that had suddenly sparked into flame and bit her at the end; immediately after he'd blackened the bars of her cell with nothing but a green paste, a hot iron and a blaze of white heat.


A blaze that had burned so quickly and so quietly that the guards on duty at the other end of her cell hadn't noticed a thing. Hadn't even looked up from their dice. Eb glared in their direction, torn between a Captain's urge to dress them down for not doing their duty, and a prisoner's desire for them to stay distracted. Apparently the guards were used to this bizarre little man puttering and poking about the holding yard. Eb, decidedly, was not. It was only the second time she'd seen him, and for her own part, she was still profoundly shocked with his erratic behaviour and bizarre inventions. His mere presence made her wary. Already she had the distinct impression that he was not somebody who should be left alone with prisoners. For both his safety and theirs. Especially prisoners like herself. Eb scowled, banishing all thoughts of behaving like a Captain; two weeks penned up here like a prisoner was enough.


"What ..." she growled at the man, sucking on the finger and thumb that she'd used to hold the line; trying to remove some of the sting. She'd dropped the rope before the fire had reached her fingers, but apparently the heat - the extraordinarily intense heat - had traveled faster than the flames. "What in the flaming Light was that?


She paused, narrowing her brows, "and who in the bloody world are you?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Pahl grinned widely.  Finally, somebody showing some actual interest in the research he was-  Wait, no.  Pahl's mind made brief contact with the world in general.  The woman was caged.  That was why she was always hanging around his laboratory.  The realization shocked Pahl out of his concentrated mindset, and he found himself once again grounded in reality.


"Su-sorry about that," he stuttered.  "I wuh-was just trying t-t-to t-test some of the things I'm wuh-working on."  Kicking shyly at the long line of char on the ground, Pahl continued, "Thuh-that was something that the Illuminators yuh-use to start their fuh-fireflowers.  I'm testing it to see if-if it can be used fuh-for other things."


Standing to his full not-very-impressive height, he said, "I'm puh-Pahl.  Pahl Ebersol.  I'm a corporal!"  The rank still excited him, even if he knew that it was only a formality.  Any attempt to order anybody would probably be laughed away.  "Yuh-you seem to be im-im-imprisoned, Miss...  err...  Miss..."  Pahl covered his eyes and his one remaining eyebrow.  "I'm suh-sorry.  What is your name?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Obvious transformations of emotion played rapidly across Pahl's face as he spoke. Each emotion was sporadically interrupted by episodes of abrupt and instant internal distraction. Eb watched him, completely at a loss to comprehend the man's intentions despite the overtness of his outward expression. She took a step back.



"I'm Eb. Captain. Infantry." She looked him warily up and down. "And yes, I'm imprisoned". She sat back on her haunches and spat.



"At least, corporal," she nodded at the rank for no reason, "I'm imprisoned until the Commander returns and puts things back to order." Her voice lowered to a frustrated growl, "Whenever that may flaming be!" A string of curses trailed on under her breath, until she sucked again on her finger and thumb, doing her best to draw away the sting.  "Unless, of course, these ruddy fireflower experiments of yours kill me first." Her fingers twitched. Eb kept his gaze, and offered up half a wry and slowly-spreading grin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...

The cell was dark. There was a leak from the roof that nobody had bothered to repair. It gave the room a damp feel and added a constant drip, drip, drip when it rained, and it had rained. Captain stabbypants was inside. He wasn’t entirely sure how long it had been since they’d thrown her in there. He had not bothered to submit the paperwork about her arrest and so nobody outside of those that welcomed her home or those that had helped Jeral even knew she was here. It had been days, and more likely weeks. He had tried to forget about her but had not succeeded. When that had not succeeded, he had decided to wait until he was not angry enough to try to kill her. Partly because he did not want to kill her but also because he was not sure he would be able to.


Arinth nodded at the guard, a good trustworthy infantry man. “Make yourself scarce for a while.” Arinth growled. “And take the morning off from your training.”


She was looking at him. He returned her stare. If looks could kill they’d both be dead. His blood heated. Maybe he hadn’t waited long enough to make this visit. He walked up to the bars, wrapped his hands around them and squeezed. It was a good thing he couldn’t get his hands around her neck.


Before she could speak he said, “There are two reasons I have waited so long to visit you. The first is that you smell like horse piss and its really pungent in this tiny room. The second is that I didn’t want to see your goat kissing face.”


Her glare continued.


“I’ve thought a lot about what happened. The boy will live, and you are lucky for that. Whether you think it was his fault or not, we would have buried you with him if he hadn’t made it. He’ll never be the same though.”


She shifted her weight. Her mouth twisted.


Arinth held up his hand, “I wasn’t finished. I get the feeling that you aren’t too good at listening, or one for swallowing your tongue but now is not the time to test my extremely finite patience. Just give me a reason, give me an excuse, give me a hint of a shadow of suggestion and I’ll bring these bars down around your head.”


He stepped back and took a breath.


“You know. I left you in here because I thought it was the most fitting punishment. As I was sitting at my desk surrounded by a never-ending pile of paperwork I realized I was wrong. Why was I doing your paperwork? I had your tent setup, and took the liberty of sending over my paperwork and scrounging up all the other officer’s paperwork. Gusrell literately had a trunk full of years’ worth of paperwork. It’s all ready for you as soon as you talk to the commander like you’ve been demanding.”


She didn’t look so eager now. Arinth kept a straight face for the moment. He’d laugh later. He would laugh and laugh. He still had one more thing to say though. He walked back up to the bars and looked hard at her and lowered his voice,


“You say you were a captain here. What makes you think you can just stroll back in? If you ever where here than you’ve been gone a long time. Where were you when we pulled Calder out of Tanchico? Where were you when the band needed you? Where were you when men were getting lost in that maze of a city? Where were you when they fell, choking on their blood? Captain isn’t just a badge you can put on and take off when it suits you. It’s a responsibility. It means you can’t go around living selfishly for yourself. It means you’ve got men and women out there that count on you. The only way we survive is if we are willing to bleed for each other.”


He took the key out of his pocket and looked at for a moment.


“Do you have that in you? If you do, I’ll take you to the commander. If you don’t, I’ll open this door and you can slip away, but it will be for good this time. There will be no coming back when it conveniently suits you. What is it going to be captain?

Edited by Arinth
Link to comment
Share on other sites

“Where were you when we pulled Calder out of Tanchico? Where were you when the Band needed you ... Where were you when they fell, choking on their blood?



Still squatting in the driest corner of her cell, Eb fixed the sergeant with a stare.



...Band… fell… choking… blood.



The screams locked in her mind resurfaced at his words, tearing themselves to the forefront of her thoughts, roaring along with an agonising crescendo of flashing memories she never could forget. Again.


She stayed stock still, save for a slow clenching of fists.



Naven, axe high, howling for the Infantry to unite; Drea and Beth, circled by the trollocs; Mehrin, twisting, turning, parrying; over and over and over again.


Flashes of Seanchan in the darkened alleys. Flickers of monsters rending flesh. Armour that made the enemy look like insects.


Blood, screams, darkness. No use!


Death, dropping from the sky.


Air full of screams. Screams full of blood. Human. Not Human. Creatures of this world, and those from beyond. Numerous, uncountable voices; scream after scream after scream after scream.


Splutters, gurgles, bright red bubbles, death.



More flashes.



Trollocs. Myrddraal. Darkfriends. Blood. Blood. Blood.


Tarwin’s Gap. Bandar Eban. Emond’s Field. The edges of Tanchico. Inns, forests, darkened lanes.


Ehlana. The banner. White and red.


Bubbles of Evil. Darkfriends. Shadowspawn. Seanchan.


Friends. Enemies. Comrades in arms.



Mind awhirl, she shivered. For a moment it was as if the damp on her clothes was no longer just rain.


Blood. Blood. Blood. Blood.




“The only way we survive is if we are willing to bleed for each other.”



Bleed. Bleed. Bleed. Bleed. Screams. Survive.


Knife flashing, blood spraying. Claymore swinging, body dropping. Mace crashing, bones cracking. Arrows diving, flesh splitting.



She lost count of the faces behind the wounds. Saw again and again the Banders she had joined and fought alongside in the early years. Saw them fight, saw them bleed, saw some fall.  Ehlana. Owen. Naven. Mehrin. Drea. Beth. Their faces appeared more than most. Their grins and grimaces. Their lives. Their fights. Their disappearances. Their deaths.


She saw roads, reaching out across the land beneath her. Battlefields soaked in blood; other paths she’d walked under the weight of lost friends and the orders of each Commander that had been. Dead. So many of them dead. Relentlessly, image after image flittered through her mind.



Eb stood. She shook the fragments of memory and sound away with a scowl. They’d lasted no longer than his words, but the flashes left their mark and she was exhausted.


This light-cursed damp and confinement were getting to her.


Scars twisting on her face with her grimace, she gritted her teeth and bit back the curses and the deluge of insults threatening to burst forth at the man on the other side of the bars. The man dismissing her years of service, knowing nothing of the blood she’d shed, of what serving here had cost her in particular. Here, and everywhere she’d been, since finding herself tied to the Band. The man with no idea that servitude in the Band was likely all that she had left. Again. The man lecturing her, when all she wanted was to report to the Commander, and ruddy well find a way to move on now that she was back.


“Sergeant,” she said through tightly gritted teeth, her fists still clenched. “Just take me to bloody Calder.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“Sergeant, just take me to bloody Calder.”


He clenched his jaw as he turned the key and opened the door. He wasn’t sure what had given him the idea that anything could be achieved by talking to the woman. He might as well have been spitting in the wind for all the good it did him.


He walked silently and she followed just as silently. The anger in the air that burned from each of them was enough to start a fire. It was a good thing neither of them could channel.


He could see from the way she looked over the citadel that it was not the same as how she remembered it. She didn’t give it away with looks of dismay. She had the look of a soldier evaluating its strengths and weaknesses. Maybe if she hadn’t decided to just go off on her own for however long it suited her she would already know what the citadel looked like. He held his tongue and kept his thoughts to himself. This woman wasn’t one to see reason. She’d probably try to turn the whole incident of her return to the band as something where she was the innocent victim


He snorted and shook his head. He realized how tired he was. Maybe it had been a mistake to finally come to her cell but all he wanted to do now was push her off on someone else.


They reached the commander’s tent.


Arinth addressed the guard, “We’ve got someone who claims they are a former captain in the band and thinks it is normal procedure to return by stabbing scouts. She also has an interesting idea of what a traitor is. It seems she doesn’t own a mirror.”

The guard gave her a hard, skeptical look and then disappeared inside. A moment later he came back to say that the commander would see her.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Eb bit back a snarl and a string of choice curses, pressing her lips together into a tight line. It was not the first time the sergeant had suggested she was a traitor, though he’d already be dead if she was. She ground her teeth.

The guard disappeared inside and Eb turned her head to look directly at the man beside her, fists clenched. Her coal black eyes were smouldering with mixed emotion. “I didn’t know he was a Scout.” she said, matter-of-factly. “I knew he had ruddy-well shot at me with an arrow and was leaping at me from a tree.”

Light, I need to be done with this! She welcomed the sound of approaching footsteps from inside the tent. Presumably they belonged to the guard on his return. She spat into the mud and scowled, shaking her head to clear her thoughts.

“The Commander will see you n-”

Eb gave the returning guard a curt nod and walked past him, not caring whether the sergeant followed her or not. Bonds biting at her wrists and the stench-laden gag still as a necktie and all, she marched in to face the commander.

Calder Berrick sat behind a desk, paperwork and maps spread in front of him. He looked up, and raised an eyebrow at Eb quizzically. Eb returned his look directly.

“Commander Berrick.” She nodded her head again, recalling how Calder, like the other commanders before him, had disliked the use of the title and how they’d all been trained to use it anyway.

He looked her up and down, his nose crinkling slightly. Eb wasn’t sure whether confusion or offense at the smell were the main contributors to the expression but she introduced herself and prepared for discussion anyway. It had been a couple of years since he’d taken up the commanding position and sent her away following Mehrin in case of ‘liability’ after the events at Tanchico, and she had no doubt there had been plenty of other things on his mind since then. The quicker they could get this over with, the better for both of them.

“Eb, Infantry Captain. Returning from -” she faltered, her tongue seeming to seize in her mouth. She’d been about to say ‘guarding Mehrin Mahrvon’, but a sudden vision of the man in question fighting for his life, out of her reach, darkfriends and mercenaries and Children of the Light outnumbering them in the last moments she’d seen him live interrupted. A heavy ache spread inside in her chest, accompanied by a feeling as sharp as a twisting knife.

She cleared her throat and mentally blocked the searing of emotions from her mind.

“-duty, Sir. Mehrin Mahrvon no longer needs tailing. He’s- dead.” She tried to forget the last word as soon as she spoke it, and tried harder still not to explode with anger directed at both Calder and Mehrin bloody Mahrvon for the situation she was in. If Mehrin hadn’t left the Band, if Calder hadn’t directed her to follow, if people weren’t just so Light darned stupid..! Her chest continued to ache despite her efforts. Tears were both weak and pointless here, so she let her eyes burn instead with fury and rage and continued, deliberately avoiding another replay of events in her mind.

“He did not compromise the Band in any way. Paperwork will be forthcoming if required. Permission to return to normal duties, Sir.”

She clenched her fists and focused everything she had on moving on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Create New...