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Facing the Perils of Twilight (attn. Myrrhi)


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.. There is Danger in Shadows ..



OOC: We are using an NPC Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah in this story.


IC: The deadly knife whistled through the air, making a wooshing sound that slithered through the near-darkness, embedding itself with an emphatic thud in the building within a hairsbreadth of Elessar’s upper arm!


It had been instinct, perhaps, or mayhap a feeling of imminent danger - an added sense which Warders often possessed - that had made him cry out a warning to the Accepted and the Red Sister just in time. In the same motion he had thrown himself at them, pushing them hard to the side, out of danger’s path, shielding them with his own body, as they had rolled onto the ground by the building..



A little earlier, as twilight had begun to encloak Tar Valon, the wonderous city of the Aes Sedai, Elessar had, by chance, come across Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen and an accompanying Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah in a small side street in the city. He had been out in the city for a little walk, having worked hard with the sword forms in the Warders Yard earlier in the day. They had, it turned out, been on a late errand for the Tower and the Warder had been reluctant to approach them, but then the Accepted had spotted him and had, impulsively, waved him over, in spite of the Red Sister’s visible disapproval. Elessar had crossed the street to join them and had given the Aes Sedai, a tall dark-haired woman with a somewhat hard face who wore her red-fringed shawl proudly, a formal bow and greeting - receiving barely a nod in return. He had also given a respectful nod and greeting, coupled with a small smile, to the Accepted. She had been somewhat formal in her greeting to the Warder, probably due to the Aes Sedai by her side, but he thought he had seen a smile in her eyes.


It had been several months since he had seen Myrrhi in the Warders Yard, when they had talked and he had helped her with her enquires for her studies, and she confirmed his suspicion that she had been very busy with her studies, classes and chores over the months. She introduced the Sister to him and it had been obvious that the Red Aes Sedai cared little for his company. Even so, the Sister had not protested when he had joined them in their walk back towards the Tower, after he had informed that it would be prudent since there had been some troubles in the streets lately. They had been heading down a darkening corridor, a shallow road with dark alleys and small buildings on either side, parallell to one of the main streets, when the attack had come out of nowhere!



From where he now lay, half-crouched, Elessar checked on Myrrhi - she lay a little off to his left, partially stunned but seemingly uninjured - before raising his head to look across at the Sister nearby. The Aes Sedai appeared fine, seemed to give him an angry look in return, not much in the way of gratitude in any case, but he ignored it. Men had never been very popular among most Reds, even in the best of times. He then gazed carefully down the alley from where the knife had been thrown. It was hard to see anything in the dark surroundings, and he did not have the slightly enhanced vision, the strengthened senses, derived from a Warder-bond. Even so, he had long experience as a Gaidin in combat-situations and was able to aptly gauge the threat and danger.


Just then, as he was considering their options, a second knife flew through the air and barely missed the Warder. He twisted aside at the last moment, his Warder instincts serving him again. Retrieving it carefully from the wall beside him, touching only the handle, close up Elessar could see the black poison on the blade. “It’s poisoned!” He hissed, to let the others know. Cursing inside, Elessar threw it away in disgust. Staring hard into the darkness, as the moments lengthened, Elessar suddenly thought he saw some movement on the other side of the alley. It was as if there was a.. Shadow among the Shadows..


Removing a couple of his own knives from his coat, he held onto one, placing the other on the ground behind him. It was a well balanced piece that would function well as a throwing-knife. He waited a few seconds, took careful aim, and then threw it hard toward the place he thought he had sensed some movement. Either his aim was very good or he was lucky, or perhaps it was a bit of both, because he heard a man curse loudly in pain in the darkness as the knife hit its target. It was followed by the sounds of someone hurriedly scrambling away from the alley, uncaringly knocking down anything in his path, heading past the buildings and down the adjacent street.


Elessar considered following the man - they needed answers he could provide.


Why the attack?

Was the attack aimed at the Red Sister?

Or was it a random attack by thieves or cutthroats?


There were such criminal elements in all the great cities of the land and Tar Valon was no exception, though the Tar Valon City Watch kept the worst of it at bay. As he had told them, there had been some troubles in the city lately but mostly bar-brawls and instances of theft and muggings. This attack seemed more serious and more unusual, as Elessar saw it, especially with the poisoned knives.


In the end, however, he decided not to pursue. He did not know these back alleys that well. Also, there could be more of these dangerous men - assassins? thieves? - about. His first priority was to protect the Accepted and the Aes Sedai. That was his duty and he would not fail.



“There may be more of them.” He whispered softly to the other two. “Wait here and I will try and find out.” Cloaked as he was in the Flame and the Void, he directed his attention, all his senses on the darkness and on all sound and motion, as he moved stealthely some steps forward down the alley. There was little sound coming from the adjacent streets, just the ordinary low buzz of city life in early evening. Focusing, he waited in silence in the dark beside one of the buildings.


There were, of a sudden, soft footsteps behind him. He cursed inside - Wait, I said. - but did not turn around. Myrrhi whispered something to him from a few paces back but it did not at first register in his mind, so intent was he on the current threat before them.


He stared into the Darkness.



Danger in the Shadows Lie

Twilight’s Darkness close Thereby

Mists of Night, the land Embrace

Perils Great, with threats to Face





Edited by Elessar
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Months had passed since her last trip outside of the Tower. That last trip had been organized by one of her teachers, Janine Sedai of the Green Ajah, so that Myrrhi could safely observe combat weaves created by other Aes Sedai. It had only lasted a couple of hours and the training area had been so close to Tar Valon that the Accepted had been able to see the glow of the White Tower in the distance during the complete duration of the lesson. What a silly class, the Accepted remembered bitterly. I was not even allowed to channel once!


Today was different. She was not out of the Tower to practice nor to observe. A Sister of the Red Ajah had asked her to accompany her to a book shop. The Accepted had not dared to refuse even if that meant less time for her studies. She had immediately closed the book she had been reading and jumped out of her chair. “Yes, Aes Sedai!” she had replied to the Sister’s request with her best smile.


Now, that she could breathe fresh air, she thought that this little trip was actually an enjoyable break. Caught in an essay about the many uses of Air, she had not moved from the library since her breakfast, not even to eat. It was more than time to clear her mind. The girl sighed, enjoying the sunset and the sight offered by the city.




“I don’t know, Aes Sedai.” Myrrhi replied to her companion balancing the books she was carrying on her right arm. Since their departure from the Tower, the Red Sister had kept on asking embarrassing questions. The Accepted didn’t know how to answer to most of them. Should she be honest? Should she limit her replies? It was hard to guess what was the best thing to say. Sometimes, it seemed to her that the Aes Sedai wanted to make her admit something but she didn’t know what. "I really don’t know.” Again, Myrrhi had tried to answer to the best of her abilities, hoping to save herself some time by speaking slowly and by repeating herself.


Finally, the book shop came into view. Myrrhi handed the books to the Sister. It seemed that the Aes Sedai wanted to return them to the shop keeper. Myrrhi didn’t know why and had not inquired. She knew that questions would not be welcomed. The Sister entered the shop, leaving Myrrhi by the entrance. There, she waited dutifully her hands clasped in front of her. The streets were quiet but they still offered enough entertainment to the Accepted who lost herself watching the few travelers who passed by.


After a couple of minutes – or it could have been hours as Myrrhi had lost track of time - the Aes Sedai came out of the shop with a little package. To the Accepted it looked like a small book wrapped in a piece of fabric. Since the Aes Sedai didn’t give it to her, Myrrhi decided not to pay too much attention to it. She even made efforts to look away. Maybe it's something secret, she wondered.


As she passed in front of a smaller street, she saw a tall man with black hair. He looked impressive with his sword at his belt and his muscly arms. This man looks pretty… The Accepted stopped herself as soon as she recognized Elessar, the Warder who had helped her so much many months before. Forgetting her place, she waved, calling after him.


“Good day, Elessar Gaidin”, Myrrhi said as he approached. “It has been a long time since that lesson in the Yard.” She smiled. “I have been very busy lately and I have not had the time to come to see you...” Myrrhi opened her mouth to speak further when she heard a little cough. Surprised, she turned her head and saw the Red Aes Sedai, arms folded and a clear look of disapproval on her face. The Accepted had been so intent on looking away from the Sister and her parcel that she had completely forgotten about her. Feeling the blood getting away from her face, the girl tried to find the strength to stay on her feet. Angering a fully raised Sister always had dire consequences.


Quickly she introduced the Gaidin to the Sister and the Sister to the Gaidin. She did so while meekly looking at her hands. The Warder and the Aes Sedai didn’t seem particularly happy to meet each other as they didn't exchange many words. It was quite understandable for the Accepted. Red Sisters didn’t care much for men, usually, and she had heard rumors about Warders making fun of the members of the Red Ajah. She was not sure it was true, but still… She decided to place herself between Elessar and her companion, just in case.


To the girl surprise, the Red Sister didn’t refuse Elessar’s proposal to accompany them on their way back to the Tower. Maybe it was because the man had been quite convincing when he had spoken about possible dangers? Myrrhi didn’t know but she was happy to have him around. She had wanted to come to the Yard to meet him again. Their last conversation had been so nice.  Unfortunately, her busy schedule had not left her much free time.




Myrrhi heard a strange noise and a knife materialized in the wall not far from her. She barely had the time to understand what was going on before Elessar pushed her and the Aes Sedai aside. Both rolled onto the ground leaving the Warder right in front of them. The man placed himself as if to shield the women behind him. The Accepted shook her head. She was a bit stunned and she wanted to clear her head. The Red Sister had opened herself to Saidar. She had woven a small shield made of Air, just like Janine Sedai had shown in that last lesson about combat weaves. Myrrhi did the same.


Before she had the time to get back on her feet another knife planted itself near the first one. The Warder rushed to pull it out of the wall. After warning the women that the blade was poisoned, Elessar turned his attention towards the place where the weapons had come from. Quietly, he grabbed some of two knives, then threw one of them in the alley right in front of him. Touché! Myrrhi thought as she heard someone crying out and running away. Thanks to the Saidar, it was easy for her to hear what was going on.


Elessar asked the Aes Sedai and Myrrhi to stay where they were. He wanted to check out what had happened and whether or not another assailant was around. The Red Sister sniffed at those words and Myrrhi raised an eyebrow. I am not staying here! The Accepted thought as she promised to stay put. She was not scared. She felt curious more that anything else. It was foolish, she knew it... but she didn't want to miss this opportunity to show what she could do, to fight!. She waited for the Warder to step away further into the alley to grab the knife he had left on the ground. Myrrhi didn't look back at the Red Sister, who was whispering her to come back. Instead, the Accepted advanced as quietly as she could.


"I can hear them," she said as she joined him. "There are three of them and one is injured."


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.. Dovie'andi se tovya sagain ..



Concentrating hard, his dark eyes boring into the deep Shadows in the alley, decisively seeking the danger therein, he heard the Accepted’s whispered words as if from far away. She could hear them, she said. There were three of them and one was injured.


You should have stayed back there, he grumbled over his shoulder, gazing resolutely into the darkness. There is danger here, he said emphatically, and the Mistress of Novices will have my hide if any harm comes to you.“ He knew his words probably sounded harsh but it was the truth. This was not a situation in which to take unnecessary risks. Even so, as he turned his head swiftly to see if the Red Sister had joined the Accepted - he saw that she had not, she had remained further back - his eyes met Myrrhi’s and his hard face softened a touch. It would not do to scare the wits out of this young woman. He whispered a quick thank you for alerting him to the number of their adversaries, presuming she was using the One Power to amplify her hearing since he could not hear them himself. Then he turned back to face the Shadows, telling her to stay low.



Moving cautiously forwards along one of the buildings, staying out of what little light there was, Elessar tried to find a better vantage point. He sensed that the Accepted followed right behind him but there was nothing to be done about that. If he ordered her back now she might be endangered further. He would just have to hope that she would remember caution and the peril at hand. Coming to a stop once again, he crouched down at an intersection between two alleyways. Peering closely down one alley he saw no movement at all.


Encompassing buildings stood like sentinels in the dark of twilight, watching in silence these mortals who dared infringe upon their sacred territory. Then suddenly he thought he saw some movement down the other alley where the darkness was not as full. Yes, there were two figures - men, he was sure - walking slowly, carefully in his direction. They were whispering softly but he was unable to hear what they were saying. It was difficult to get a good impression of the men from where Elessar crouched, but they seemed tall and heavily built. One of the men carried something large in his hand and the Warder considered that it might be a sword, a club or a similar weapon of force. His companion seemed not similarly armed, but no doubt carried secret weapons - knives perhaps? - upon his body.


The Gaidin considered his - their - options. There were several. They could fall back, retreat, return to the Red Sister and go back down the street to where they had entered the alley, supposing there were not more of the men waiting there. They might be followed though and it would not bring the matter to an end. On the other hand, he could take on the two men, attempt to remove the threat. They were unlikely to have his sword skills and combat training, but being armed and bearing poisoned knives made them dangerous even so. Also, that third man out there somewhere, though injured, could spell trouble.


Furthermore, he had to make sure that no harm came to the two women of the White Tower to whom he had, inadvertantly, become a protector. They could, perhaps, defend themselves with the One Power, his long experience with Aes Sedai bondholders had taught him as much, but he had to act on the presumption that they might be reliant on his protection and combat advice. As for hiding in the alley and thereby evading the men, he discarded that option quickly. There were not enough hiding places among he buildings, he thought, for that to work out. They would be seen up close in the shadow of the buildings - and would have to fight in a place not of their choosing. In this situation, hiding did not sit well with him in any case. They had to act somehow. Wisely but decisively.



Calm in the Oneness, embraced by the Flame and the Void, he weighed the many options in his head. Caution vs. Risk. Prudence vs. Initiative. Evaluating the situation. Looking for possibilities. In a way, it was like a Dance of the Blade, like a sword fight. You considered your opponent, watched him carefully, waited, and then acted, sometimes attacking, other times defending, now deflecting, then striking; always trying to outsmart your enemy. And sometimes.. a risk, a potentially dangerous risk, was worth taking. It worked best, of course, when you had the element of surprise on your side. And a little bit of luck.


It was time to make a judgment call.


Dovie'andi se tovya sagain.


The Old Tongue phrase from the Age of Legends, which he had found in a history book, summed it all up. It was indeed time to toss the dice.


Turning to Myrrhi who crouched a few paces behind him, he whispered softly: “We shall set a trap to catch them“. He stared over her shoulder at the barely seen figure of the Aes Sedai further back down the alley. He could not see her face from afar, but he presumed it was, likely, not very amused. “Return to the Red Sister and explain.“ He said to her in measured tones. “I will be with you in a few moments“. She nodded silently, her face hard to read in the near-dark; she seemed about to say something but decided not to, and he watched her move slowly, cautiously away from him down the alley in the direction of the Sister. Nodding to himself, he turned to watch the approaching men. He waited, as the seconds passed by. They were still a little way off but coming closer. He had wanted to make sure the third man was nowhere to be seen, and finally satisfied that this was the case, he carefully followed the path used by the Accepted, along the buildings and keeping to the darker areas, back to where the others waited.


As he faced them, calm in his decision, the Warder said resolutely, his eyes bright with determination: “We shall set a trap here“. There was a slight pause as he gauged their reaction. The Red Sister’s face was severe, her arms folded, but she said nothing. The Accepted seemed to him to be torn between uncertainty and excitement at the prospect. Nodding to himself, as if he had received affirmation, he added decisively: “Now this is what we shall do“.




Edited by Elessar
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Elessar didn't look happy to have her right behind him. He didn't know that she had had combat training nor that she was creative when it came to weave interesting threads. He doesn't know that I am an asset. Myrrhi sighed. Three people and one of them is injured, she thought again. Elessar can easily take care of the first one and I can take care of the other two. She summoned the defensive weaves she had studied in her mind. She was busy forming a plan when the Warder turned his head. Their eyes met and she understood that he was worried. "Thank you," he whispered to her. "You're welcome", she replied with a grin.


Both lowered their heads as they peered into the shadows.


Elessar seemed to have noticed something. He advanced, carefully, trying not to make any noise. Myrrhi looked behind her. The Aes Sedai was still behind, maybe wondering whether or not she should join them. The Accepted shrugged and moved forward. The Warder stopped then advanced again, and Myrrhi followed. It is only when he found a good vantage point, at the intersection of two alleys, that he signaled the Accepted to come closer. Together, hidden, they looked for the attackers.


It didn't take long for Myrrhi and her companion to find two of the three men. One of them had a short sword and the other one was empty handed. The Accepted didn't see them clearly as it was getting dark but the Power helped her to see what was important. Immediately she thought about channeling. She could try Fire weaves. Those would be effective... the problem was that the girl was not very good with Fire. Air, Spirit, even Earth were her strength. The Accepted felt that Elessar was doing the exact same thing as she was doing. He was thinking, assessing the situation.


Suddenly he relaxed. Had he found a way to get them?


"We shall set a trap to catch them", he said before asking to Myrrhi to go back to the Aes Sedai to tell her.


"I will be with you in a few moments," he added. Myrrhi nodded but didn't leave immediately as asked. She didn't want to go back to the Sister. She wanted to stay close to the Warder. So many ideas had come to her! She opened her mouth to tell about them then closed  her lips. Noticing Elessar's serious face, she decided to follow his order and not to try to convince him to do what she had in mind. She didn't want to disappoint him with her foolish plan... not too soon, at least...


Myrrhi rushed at the Red Sister side trying to find a way to show herself in a better light. Now that she was getting back to the Sister, she realized that everything would be reported. She'd be in trouble for behaving the way she had, leaving behind the Aes Sedai she was accompanying.


"Elessar Gaidin seems to have a plan", she said with contempt. The Red Sister raised an eyebrow. "Men, ... " Myrrhi sighed and told about the trap. She presented things to the Aes Sedai as if she knew better. She pointed that using a regular trap could do more damage than forseen - even if she didn't know about the details of Elessar's plan - then explained what she had been thinking, how that was better than what the Gaidin had suggested. The attackers didn't know there were two channelers, otherwise they would have taken precautions. It would be easily to surprise and bind them with weaves of Air. After that, the men could be interrogated... To protect herself, Myrrhi proposed the static shield. A very nice weave that would help her against approaching enemies. She didn't forget to curtsy after her explanation nor to beam, as if she wanted to get some kind of approval to the Red Sister. Let her think I want to be like her... maybe it will work, she thought.


Elessar joined them as soon as she was done. He explained his plan looking from the Accepted to the Aes Sedai. His plan made sense but it didn't involve enough aggressivity for Myrrhi nor enough channeling. When he was done, the Red Sister kept silent. The Accepted knew it was her turn to speak. She was getting tested by her Senior.


"Elessar, Gaidin" she said placing a hand on his arm. "I think we can improve your plan. I will be the bait just like you proposed but I will protect myself with a static shield. I will also weave Earth traps around us". She tried to look at him with cold eyes. She needed to have the Red Sister trusting her, which would not be easy seeing the way she had greeted the man. She curtsied and looked towards the Aes Sedai as if it was important to her to get her approval


"Also, I have your knife!" she added with a sniff. I will have to apologize to the man, she regretted. And I will probably have to clean his boots and his horse to have him forgive me...

Edited by Chaelca
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.. To Fall into a Trap ..



Addressing him formally, placing a hand on his arm, she said that she thought they could improve on his plan. She would be bait just like he had proposed, but she would protect herself with a static shield. She would also weave Earth traps around them, she explained. She curtsied and looked towards the Red Sister, but Elessar could not tell the reason. He had no comprehension of the weaves of which she spoke, but he caught the gist.


As he gazed intently into the face of the young Andoran woman, considering her words and tone, he thought that she seemed a little different somehow; less demure, more confident or even arrogant, more Aes Sedai-like in fact, when he came to think of it. Was it an act in front of the Red Sister? An attempt at youthful bravura perhaps? Or had she spoken to the Aes Sedai and been instructed to use a different, more direct, approach with him? He could not tell. But he noted the difference. As for her suggestion to improve his plan, he was fine with it, as long as she remained in the background. He did not approve of it if it put her at the forefront of the action to come, One Power weaves or no; that had never been his intention. Using her as ‘bait’, as she had so eloquently put it, had meant having her appear in the alley for a moment so that she would be seen by the approaching men, but then having her move back into the Shadows, not putting her in any further danger. He was going to take care of this threat, and the women would - as he had told her - stay hidden in the background, only coming to his aid if it should be absolutely necessary. There was no need to endanger more of them than required. Now then, how do I explain this to her, he thought as he met the Accepted’s unusually cold eyes, so that she understands?


Peering hard into the Shadows for a moment to see how far away the men were, he turned to face Myrrhi again. The Aes Sedai remained silent, her hard face never changing. He wondered, with some amusement, if it ever did. The Warder presumed, knowing Aes Sedai, that she would give him a tongue-lashing if she were sufficiently displeased by his decisions. So he focused on the younger girl. “Accepted Morrigen, on the whole it sounds like a good solution to me.” He said carefully. “However, I insist that you stay in the background, out of immediate danger; it is safest and prudent in this situation.“ He thought her eyes tightened a little at his words but he could not say for certain in the near-dark. “It is my intention to take care of this threat.” He added decisively before she could retort. “But if the opposition is stronger than expected, or if things for some reason don’t go according to plan, any assistance you”, he indicated them both, ”can provide will be very helpful. Those weaves you mention, Accepted, would then give valuable added protection.” He nodded at the knife she held, his eyes tightening slightly. “And that knife.. might come in handy as well.. but let’s hope it does not come to that..”



The looks he received gave him the impression that they were not totally happy with his final, military, decision - perhaps also because he had taken command of the situation? -  but that they would go along with it. He ignored the Aes Sedai’s constant glare as he put his plan into place. It was a pretty simple plan, actually. He went over it again in his mind. They would lure the men into a dark space by an alleyway corner, have the two women stand in the Shadows on either side and Elessar a few paces closer. Myrrhi would then appear in the alley for a few moments, just long enough to be seen by the men, before returning to her hiding place. When they came close enough, the Warder would jump them. With luck, the element of surprise would give him an added edge and would increase the chances of success. It could be all over before they knew what had hit them.. Things could also go wrong, of course. Elessar knew that from years of experience in combat situations of different kinds. Unforseen variables could influence the outcome. There might be need for improvisation or adjustments. Still, he felt fairly confident with the plan. It was simple, effective and in truth the best he could think of on such a short notice.


If only they do what I have told them to..


The Aes Sedai did not worry him. She would have enough life experience and sound judgment to not make a stupid mistake. She might not be overjoyous at his military decision and at his assuming command, but she would see the wisdom of it even so, of that he felt fairly sure. The Accepted’s words - and the way she spoke them -  however, made him a little uncertain if she might try something unexpected.. something bold perhaps.. with good intentions but still.. dangerous. He understood well that she wanted to help out, to assist, but he did not think she was aware of the risks involved. She was young, inexperienced, and perhaps also with a wish to prove herself, also in the face of the Red Sister.. ? He could be wrong, of course, but he had seen similar behaviour and somewhat naive overeagerness and overexcitement in the eyes and faces of young men and women before in combat situation for the first time. It sometimes ended.. badly - and Elessar was going to do all he could to ensure that that did not happen here.



He directed the Accepted to one side of the dark alley and the Aes Sedai to the other and was pleased - and relieved - to see both comply. He saw them exchange a few words but could not discern them. He unsheathed his blade and crept up to the place by the corner he had chosen for himself. It was partially hidden and would give him a good view of the alley as well as the surrounding area, and thereby a better chance to improvise if things did not go according to plan. He knew indeed from experience in battle and skirmishes that the best of plans need sometimes be changed once battle commences. And though this was a danger-situation on a much smaller scale, the same principles applied. Have a plan. Carry it out. Change it if needed. Be ready to improvise. He waited silently in the darkness. Soon the sound of footsteps came closer. He peered up the alley and there he saw the two men coming, as expected. There was no sign of the third man, and Elessar considered that being injured that man might very well have disappeared. The approaching men were studying the buildings and pathways they passed intently, expecting perhaps an ambush but not knowing where. That gave Elessar and the Tower women the upper hand. Soon the trap would close on them. Soon..


A few moments later Myrrhi appeared, as planned, in the middle of the alleyway and one of the men gave a shout, spotting her, and they hurried toward Elessar’s hiding place, with less caution in their steps just as he had hoped. The Accepted disappeared swiftly back into the Shadows - and Elessar was again relieved that she had done as he had instructed. Closer.. closer.. they were almost upon where he hid now. A few moments more…


And then Elessar jumped them! With a massive leap he threw himself at the two men and his great momentum and speed carried them both crashing to the ground, with the Warder partly atop, grunting and cursing as they tried to gain their feet. The Warder was faster though. Half-crouched he smashed a fist into the head of the larger man who slammed into the stones beneath him, and landed a blow in the stomack of the second, smaller man before he could get his balance. The man stumbled backwards but kept his feet. There was an undefined sound a little further back in the alley, where the women were hiding, and as Elessar turned in that direction for a split second, the first man gained his feet and slashed at the Gaidin with his short sword which he had managed to pick up from the ground.


It was only a Warder’s instinct and reflexes which prevented the blade from drawing blood, he managed to twist aside at the very last moment, but he was carried off balance and had to shift his weight to regain it. As he faced the large brute, his own blade striking out, he saw from the corner of his eye the other man disregard him and move down the alley toward the Accepted and the Aes Sedai. Elessar cursed inwardly. He had expected that the two men would come at him together and try to eliminate the threat he posed before going after the women. There was nothing he could do about it now, however. He had to take care of this bigger threat. This man, a big bearded man with a long scar along his cheekbones and a weathered face, obviously had some sword skills and took advantage of his shorter, lighter sword in several attack moves aimed at the Warder. He was more proficient than Elessar had presumed - and the Gaidin had to use his experience, deftness and skill to defeat him.



He could only hope that Myrrhi and the Red Sister were able to defend against, perhaps even defeat, the other man. He was certainly armed and dangerous, but the Accepted had the knife, after all, though she had little or no experience wielding it.. And she had the One Power weaves she had mentioned. He presumed the full Sister would be even better prepared. As if conjured by his thoughts, a shout, loud curse or a scream perhaps? came from back where they hid, but he could not tell who’s voice it had been, or deduce what had happened, totally focused as he was in the calmness of the Flame and the Void.


One with his sword, Elessar moved back and forth, slashed and parried, and was rewarded when a deft downward swing with his longer blade drew blood from his opponent’s left thigh. The brute cursed, staggering slightly, but shrugged off the slight injury and did not show any intention of giving up. He bared his teeth at the Warder in a malicious grin and Elessar saw his hard, determined eyes mirrored in the weathered face before him..




Edited by Elessar
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Myrrhi was feeling sweat running down her back. She felt caught between the Warder and the Aes Sedai. She knew she had not behaved as she should have, for the both of them. Elessar would not punish her for it, but the Red Sister would. The Accepted had ignored her, forced the Warder to accompany them - in a way -, left her Senior to join him when the troubles had begun, ... There was a lot to answer for. Her only plan was to keep up the appearances, hoping that her cold eyes and stern voice would soften the Aes Sedai's heart. If she had one. Full Sisters were not fools, though. Chances were that the Aes Sedai would recognize Myrrhi's little game for what it truly was.


I have nothing to lose, she tried to reassure herself. If I can escape a full day at the Mistress of the Novices' by this attitude, then I should keep it... The Accepted attention had drifted. She came back to the present to hear Elessar last words. They were disappointing. He had agreed to use her as a bait BUT she would have to stay in the background, protecting herself in the shadows. She looked down at the knife she was still holding and sighed. This is not what I have explained to him! However she decided it was better not to protest. The Aes Sedai behind her had not moved nor said a word. It probably meant that she had nothing to say against Elessar's plan. It was strange, in a way. Myrrhi had been sure that she would have reacted to give her opinion at least.


As demanded, Myrrhi and the Sister silently followed Elessar to another alley. The girl felt how close the attackers were. As soon as she had finished talking with the Warder, she had tried to find them again. It had not been hard. Saidar still coursing through her enhanced her sight and hearing. Is this really happening? She asked to herself tightening her right hand against the handle of the knife. Now, that their counterattack was getting imminent, the Accepted felt less enthusiastic about it. I can do it! I can do it! She repeated in her head. 




Myrrhi reached the mouth of the alley with hesitant feet. The Warder and the Aes Sedai were not far. The attackers neither, she noticed. From where they were, they only had to make two steps to be able to see her. Even now, with the sun almost down, it was easy to spot her. She was wearing her banded Accepted dress. It made of her the perfect bait. Suddenly, an idea passed through her mind. What if they don't see me? What if they think I am a bait? Quickly, she tried to concentrate on a couple of options. The best one was to attract them by looking as if she was lost and frightened. It would be easy for the Accepted who felt herself shivering


"Where are you?", she whispered, making as if she was looking for her companions. She walked a bit on the left then on the right her arms crossed in front of her. It didn't take long for the two attackers to notice her. Immediately, they started to run her way. The Accepted didn't lose a second, she wove a static shield around her. The shield was made out of lightening and would protect her against any projectile or attack. Running back to Elessar and the Aes Sedai, she felt very pleased to have practiced that weave so many times. It had come so naturally to her.


As soon as she reached a pile of barrels, she pushed herself on the side of the alley to hide. The Red Sister was still in the back. She had opened herself to Saidar too but had not woven anything. Maybe she was not feeling threatened enough to attack the men who were now getting closer to Elessar's hiding spot.


A second later Elessar jumped out of cover to take care of the attackers. To Myrrhi he looked so impressive in his way to move that she couldn't help but feel disappointed. He's going to get them both! She bit her lower lip and let go of the static shield. She was so far from the men ... surely nothing bad could happen to her.


"OWH!", the Accepted turned her head to see what had touched her, scared that it could be the third attacker. It wasn't... It was only a fat cat. The animal was now looking at her intently, his head bowed on the side. She cursed. "Go away!!!" she commanded him. The animal didn't move. Swearing again and regretting she could not sent a fireball at the unnerving cat, Myrrhi looked back towards the front of the alley. The Aes Sedai will have my hide if I hurt that flaming bea... Myrrhi didn't finish her thought. The Warder didn't seem to have the upper hand anymore. He was fighting with one of the men, the other had escaped and was now getting closer to the place where Myrrhi and the Aes Sedai were hiding. A dagger was raised in one of his hands.


Let's go! Myrrhi thought concentrating on the man in front of her. She barely noticed his greasy long hair and his mean grin. His weapon, that is what is important! The girl kept her eyes on it. She didn't look back at the Sister, she didn't even think about the future consequences of what she was about to do.


First, she had to choose her weaves. She couldn't do more that one thing at the same time when it came to channeling and she was getting tired. As she had done during her training with Janine Sedai, she wove threads of Earth to turn the path right in front of the man into what the Sister of the Green Ajah had called the Quagmire. As expected, the attacker lost his footing and fell. The weave was not as efficient as the one the fully raised Sister had shown. The man managed to roll away from the trap instead of staying stuck in it. Myrrhi heard him curse. It was hard to see what had happened to him though. Was he hurt? Myrrhi advanced slowly to have a better view. It was a mistake. The man rushed at her with a cry from the place he had taken cover. Surprised, the Accepted didn't know how to react. She tried to think about the weaves she had learned so far. Most of them needed a certain amount of Fire and she was so bad with it that she was not sure she'd manage to do anything useful.


Let's keep easy then, she thought breathing out to get ready for the confrontation. Remembering what she had read about fighting, she tried to focus silencing her fear. Her opponent arrived in front of her his dagger drawn. Not leaving her the time to think, he plunged forward. The Accepted parried with her knife, trapping the attackers weapon between blade and the hilt of her knife. She pushed it away amplifying her movement with threads of Air. The man lost balance and made a couple of steps back. Myrrhi hesitated. She was not supposed to kill him, was she? I have to trap him! That's what I should do! She had not learned weaves for that, unfortunately, but she could try to knock him unconscious. The Aes Sedai would then bind the man with the One Power ? It sounded like a good plan.


Myrrhi wove a static shield again. It was harder than the first time as the strength she had left didn't allow her to create a shield as fast nor as wide as before. That flaming man will have to come very close to be touched by it! She thought about spitting on the ground like the heroes did in her novels sometimes. She didn't, not being sure she could spit and not look ridiculous at the same time.


Again, the man rushed at her. Her knife raised in front of her, she got ready. If the shield didn't work, she'd have to rely on her weapon.




The man cried out. As soon as he had touched the lightning weaves, he had been thrown back on a heap of waste. The Accepted exhausted had to let go of her protecting weave. Seeing that the attacker was not making any move to get up, she decided to check on him, blade still in her hand and ready to channel a last club of Air. I don't think I'll be able to channel for the coming three days after this, she told herself. To her surprise, the man was bleeding profusely. A piece of broken furniture was sticking out of his left thigh and blood was shooting out of the injury in regular intervals.


The Accepted felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned. It was the Red Sister. They exchanged a couple of words. The man would not survive. It would not be possible to save him even if one of them had great healing powers. The Accepted felt her stomach tightened. She felt sick, her hands were trembling.


Suddenly, she heard someone screaming.


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.. Combat and Interrogation of an Assassin ..



They are assassins!


Elessar understood as much from the competence and professional deadly skill shown by his brute opponent in their animated, vigorous sword duel. He had suspected it from the beginning, though they could of course have been mere street thugs, thieves and muggers, and gaining the confirmation strengthened his resolve to eliminate this dangerous threat. Their swords clashed loudly and the sound echoed in the dark alleyway, as they flowed in the Dance of the Blades.


Elessar was one with his sword as he moved back and forth with elegance, striking and parrying, feinting and thrusting, showing his ample Warder skill. He moved with agility and purpose and so did his opponent who Elessar had found surprisingly accomplished and agile for his size. Sweat began to bead on the Warder’s brow as he went on the attack once more. His opponent countered well but seemed also to be tiring somewhat, having to adapt to fighting an opponent with a longer blade, his strokes becoming ever slower. As they duelled the Gaidin felt the calm of the Flame and the Void filling him and it gave him inner strength and focus.


In Warder-training he remembered his teacher had always said:


“Flow through the motions, be one with the sword. And when you see signs of weakness in your opponent or find an opening, seize the moment! Precision is everything!”



And seeing some weakness in his enemy now he struck out with his blade, moving inside the other man’s guard and slamming the hilt of his sword into the brute’s shoulder. The assassin was too slow to defend himself, his sword coming up too late, and screamed out in pain as he fell to the ground in agony. Elessar combined swordforms and smashed the flat of his blade toward the man’s body to neutralize him, to make him unconcious - he wanted the man alive, after all, to press for information - , but somehow the assassin managed to twist to the side and the Warder’s strike missed by an inch. The momentum brought the Gaidin slightly off balance and he corrected by moving away from the man who was trying to gain his feet. A scream of pain tore through the air at that moment - and reflexively Elessar turned toward the alley-mouth where the women were, but he quickly had to turn his attention once again to his sword opponent who now faced him another time, a twisted grin on his weathered face.


Back and forth, attacking and defending - and spinning out of range -, moving swiftly from stance to stance, the two opponents were locked in deadly combat. In the end, however, the Warder’s superior skill and experience won the day. Fighting with a shorter blade and thereby a shorter range in this kind of duel, moreover, was difficult indeed and the assassin had lasted surprisingly long. Combining sword forms in an innovative way Elessar attacked forcefully, feinted, side-stepped and came inside the other man’s guard another time, this time sweeping his short sword away - it clattered onto the alley stones - and knocking him to the ground. The big brute fell badly, damaging his wounded hip which made him scream out in pain, and was in fact bleeding heavily from several wounds, Elessar saw now. He wondered very much how the assassin had been able to keep going with those serious injuries. It seemed incredible.


Relaxing his stance, as he was about to bend down to grab the shirt-collar of the man to bring him to his feet for some serious questioning, something - several things in fact - came at the Warder out of the dark, flew at his face, screeching - coming at him out of nowhere! It made him lose his balance slightly as he took several steps back and his arms came up to protect his eyes - Birds! An instinctive thought - and he stumbled to the ground, letting go of his blade. A few moments passed as he fumbled for his sword in the darkness but eventually his hand came upon the pommel and he retrieved his weapon. He felt a little foolish, but he had certainly been caught unawares. As he gained his feet he saw four large dark birds of prey - were they crows or ravens, he wondered? - fly away down the alley and up into the evening sky. He cursed. He was well used to black birds of prey from the Borderlands - they were often, in story, associated with the Shadow and Elessar had had enough experience with them over the years that he would not discard the possibility that there was some truth in those stories - but they were not that common this far south and not at this time of year. Seeing four of them here now, flying almost at ground level, so close to humans and city habitation in a Tar Valon dark alley, seemed strange to say the least. He shook his head at the whole thing, wondering at the circumstance, but then something else caught his attention.



Cursing again, he saw the supposedly downed man hurry away down the alleyway. Blast! He had taken the opportunity when Elessar had had the mishap and was already a fair distance away. How on earth the assassin had been able to gain his feet, never mind get away in that fashion, in his weakened condition, the Warder would never know. Elessar considered running after him, he was not too far away after all - and the man seemed to limp a little from his injuries - but he changed his mind. He might not catch him, with the head-start the assassin had gotten. The man was heavily wounded in any case, despite appearances, and might, perhaps, not live the night unless he got immediate treatment. The threat from him had been eliminated, that was what mattered the most. It was misfortune that Elessar would be unable to get some serious answers out of the man, but perhaps he would have better luck with the other assassin, the one who had gone after the women. He needed in any case to see if they were safe, and to help them if the threat of that man had not been disposed of. Shaking his head, not totally satisfied with what he had accomplished, but knowing in his heart that he had done what he could, he headed quickly down the dark alleyway towards the others, renewed adrenalin brushing away his former tiredness.


As he arrived at the scene, his keen Warder’s eyes quickly took stock of the situation. He was relieved to see the two women safe and seemingly uninjured, though the Accepted looked upset with eyes very wide and face slack. The man who had attacked them, the second assassin, lay seriously injured on the ground before them, something sticking out of his left thigh, his deadly knife beside him. From what he could see and infer Elessar deduced that the man was probably dying or very close to it. Spending no time on lengthy explanations, he quickly informed the others that the other assassin whom he had duelled had gotten away, by force of  happenstance, but that the man was heavily injured and would pose no more threat to them. His attention returned to the barely alive assassin before him.


The Red Sister and the Accepted confirmed his suspicion. The assassin’s life could not be saved. He does not have long to live, they told him in somber tones. If he could have been healed he would have been, Elessar knew. He also understood, that if he were to.. question.. the man to get whatever information they could, time was short. He had to act right away. Again he took charge. He explained quickly to the others what he intended to do and though her face was as ever hard and unreadable he received a curt nod from the Aes Sedai while the Accepted seemed still in partial shock. He put his hand on her shoulder as he walked past, empathizing with her but not having the time at that moment to find out what had happened or if he could help her in any way. Nodding grimly to himself, the Gaidin walked across to where the man lay with blood running from his lethal injuries.



Unceremoniously and with a hardened heart, Elessar grabbed the assassin’s shirt-collar and dragged the dying man across the alleypath, past a pile of barrels, towards the nearest building where he pushed him up against the stone brick wall. Looking intently into the man’s eyes and face, wondering how long he would stay alive before his lifeblood ran out, the Warder started the.. questioning. Or rather the.. Interrogation.


“Who are you?“ He asked the man harshly. “What was your mission?“ The bleeding man did not reply though his eyes were open and staring back with unconcealed hatred for the Gaidin. His jaws were slack and his pallor white even in the near-darkness. “Answer me, Assassin!“ Elessar almost screamed at him. He did not enjoy interrogations of this kind, far from it. He knew that it sometimes bordered on torture, and sometimes was just that, something which often also gave the interrogator a kind of pain: the pain of enforcing harm. But sometimes it was necessary. That was the harsh truth. Elessar tried to ignore the inner pain he felt at what he had to do to this man. This was too important.


If these filthy assassins had orders to kill the Red Sister, he needed to know so he could warn her and the White Tower.


A faint chuckle came from the assassin’s lips, some blood seeping out at the same time. Elessar cursed inside. He is going to die on me before I get the information I need! Eyes tightening further, hating the necessity, the Gaidin pressed against the man’s injury, the left thigh from which a broken piece of furniture was sticking out, producing a great scream from the bearded assassin. Tell me what I need to know, and we will give you healing. No more pain. He lied between gritted teeth. The other man gasped for air, a gurgle in his throat, as spasms racked his body. Elessar cursed again, aloud this time. There’s no more time! The Warder grabbed the other man roughly by the neck and with pure strength and force of will lifted the man up from where he had been seated against the building wall, so that his pale face was on a level with Elessar’s. He could see the excruciating pain in the man’s face, but tried to ignore it. What was your mission?He screamed harshly into the dying man’s face. Who sent you?


The man’s eyes went very wide then, the pupils becoming larger, his whole face stiffening, as he stared almost unknowingly into the Warder’s cold and hard face. Perhaps it was something he saw there.. perhaps in his dying seconds he felt the sudden need to lighten his soul.. or perhaps it was just the never-ending pain that finally got to him and made him weak.. for whatever reason, in his last seconds of life, with his last breath, he whispered two words that Elessar caught.


Blood then flowed freely out of the assassin’s mouth in heavy streams, a final spasm shook him, and then all light and life left his eyes as he died.




Edited by Elessar
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Just like in stories, a small flock of dark birds appeared into the alley, rushing towards its occupants. The Red Sister opened herself to Saidar and started to weave a shield. Myrrhi tried to do the same but failed. She was way too tired for that. Instead, she crouched with her arms right in front of her face for fear that the birds would attack her eyes. To her surprise, the birds didn't stay long in the alley. They did not even tried to fight. They left almost as soon as they came, flying away in the evening sky. It took Myrrhi some time to understand that they had been part of a distraction.


As she stood up, she saw that Elessar's opponent had taken advantage of the birds' passage to run away. He was no where to be seen. The Warder didn't look happy about it. He joined Myrrhi and the Aes Sedai, a dark scowl on his face. One might have said that he was chewing stones, seeing how tensed his jaws were. Myrrhi was afraid that he was feeling guilty for not having been able to stop the man. She wanted to tell him something. A praise for his duel or simply a couple of words to show that, for her, he was not responsible for the man's flight. She also wanted to talk to him about what she had done to her own opponent. As a Warder, he would know whether or not what was happening inside her head was normal. Even if she was now feeling better than she had a moment ago  -  maybe because of those crows, they had been a good distraction all in all  - there was still a hole in her stomach. It made her feel so sick. On top of that, she was feeling guilty herself. How could she not as she knew that the man she had attacked was dying and that she couldn't do anything about it? She didn't dare to look at the man she had injured nor at the Red Sister.


Elessar said a couple of words. He seemed to want to interrogate the attacker. The Accepted shrugged. She found it hard to concentrate on what he was saying, lost as she was in her own thoughts. The Warder, the attackers, the knife, her weaves, they all passed through her head repeatedly. Had she done what was right? Would she be punished? She wanted to be in her bed, under her cover and sleep. Yes, sleep, that sounds like a perfect idea! The girl thought again about all that happened today, and hoped that it had only been a bad dream ... it wasn't one unfortunately. She came back to reality when she felt Elessar's hand on her shoulder. His hand was warm and its weight reassuring. His gesture gave her the impression that he wanted to show her that he was here to help her. She blushed looking at him as he neared the attacker laying on the ground.


He's a warrior. And I wanted  - want to be one, too. Not a Warder but a Sister of the Green Ajah, that's what I want to be. I have to get over it, I can't be squeamish about blood and all... Myrrhi sighed and decided it was time to strengthen her heart.




The attacker was dead, finally. Elessar had asked him many questions. He had urged him to answer, promising an end to the man's pain. It had not worked. The assassin had stayed silent except for something that he had whispered to the Gaidin. It didn't seem to have been anything useful, though, as the Warder had not reacted to those last words.


The Aes Sedai coughed. It was time to go. She asked the Warder to take the "necessary" measures about the attacks. After making some comments about the city and its dark alleys, she tried to dismiss him. Surely, assassins would not try a second attempt so fast after the first one? The Accepted was not sure that the Warder agreed with it. He kept silent for a while, which let the Red Sister enough time to turn her attention on the girl. "You know exactly what you have to do, Child!" Myrrhi winced. She would have preferred the Aes Sedai to sanction her on the spot or, at least, she would have wanted to have a list of offenses to report to the Mistress of the Novices hoping that some of her actions would be overlooked. Here, as there were no specifics, the Accepted knew that she'd have to go to Valeri Sedai and explain everything that had happened. She'd have to give all the details, each of them leading to more and more punishments.


Elessar was standing near, near enough to hear the Aes Sedai words and to see Myrrhi's cheeks burning. She didn't dare to talk to look at him. Meekly she clasped her hands and looked at her feet.

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.. In the Aftermath of an Attack ..



Staring down into the assassin’s dead eyes, the Warder felt a degree of ambivalence.


Mostly though he felt somewhat drained, physically and emotionally, after the strenuous sword fight and the subsequent interrogation. He felt almost detached from himself as he searched the dead man’s pockets for clues of his identity and perhaps where he came from. He found nothing, as he had in reality expected, considering that these were professionals who would not carry any incriminating evidence upon their persons. His gaze swept across the assassin’s greasy long hair, his pointed nose and his high cheekbones, thinking that it was hard to pin-point his origins, before coming to rest on the deadly knife by his side. Picking it up carefully by the handle, he saw that it was identical to the knife that had almost hit him a little earlier; it too had a poisoned blade and was very deadly in the right hands. He placed the knife ever so carefully inside a leather bag that he carried inside one of his large inner coat pockets, making sure the blade was encircled by a protective covering, so that both knife and poison could be studied later.


He then dragged the dead body across the alleyway to where the Aes Sedai and the Accepted waited in silence. The young woman seemed a little more in control of herself now, tired and taken aback by the harrowing events but not as shocked as she had seemed to him before. Still, he saw echoes of emotions in her face that reminded him of bewilderment and grief.. and something else he could not quite define.. He was not surprised. She was young and inexperienced - danger and death could shake anyone. The Aes Sedai, on the other hand, wore a Sister’s cool, unreadable face. As the Warder placed the dead man at their feet Myrrhi looked away again, her eyes downcast as if she did not want to look at the body nor at the Red Sister. The Aes Sedai gazed at the dead assassin for a long moment but said nothing. Her eyes met the Gaidin’s for a split second, almost as if to inquire whether or not he had learned anything from his interrogation. He stared back in the same manner, with unblinking eyes, and then she dropped her gaze back to the dead man before her.



As the silence lengthened, Elessar drew on a pool of inner strength, became more alert and stared up and down the dark alley, looking for any new threat. Not that he really expected one, but his Warder teachers many years ago had hammered into him to always expect the unexpected and he had learned that lesson over the years. There was no sign of anyone, nor anything. Raising his gaze he stared into the dark evening sky, wondering again at those black birds of prey that had seemingly attacked in the alley, just as he had been about to question the other assassin. It was a very strange coincidence indeed - and Elessar was not a believer in coincidences. He was thinking hard on the assassins and the attack, going through different scenarios in his mind, when an indiscrete cough by the Red Sister brought his attention back.


She told him in plain terms that it was time to go and asked him to take the ‘necessary’ measures about the attacks; she gave him a pointed look. She then made some comments about the city and its dark alleys - he got the impression that she was making an attempt to downplay the danger and, perhaps, also what had happened, and it surely would not happen a second time so soon after the first, now would it? - and then she thanked him for his assistance and said that she and the Accepted would manage to get back to the White Tower on their own.


Elessar kept silent for a while, chewing on the Red Sister’s words, which he disagreed strongly with. Keeping his unease off his face, however, he went over in his mind how to convince her.


Meanwhile, the Aes Sedai returned her attention to the Accepted. Calling her ‘Child’, the Red Sister told her in no uncertain terms that she knew exactly what she had to do. Her voice seemed stern to Elessar and though everything about this woman seemed stern, in truth, he had the feeling that the Red Sister was not overly pleased with the Accepted. The young woman seemed to wince at the words, which only strengthened the Warder’s belief that he had reasoned correctly. He saw Myrrhi’s cheeks burning, as she stood there deferentially, clasping her hands and looking down at her feet, but he quickly looked the other way to avoid causing her added embarassment.


He did not know what exactly had happened before he had come across them with the dying assassin, but from her reaction he guessed that the young woman had in some way played a part and that it would have, perhaps, some consequences for her. Leandreen had often been secretive when it came to Aes Sedai affairs and customs, leaving him in no doubt that certain things were just not spoken of, but she had mentioned that there were restrictions when it came to what Novices and Accepted were allowed to do, with or without permission, and resulting consequences. The same principles applied to Warder trainees, Elessar knew well. They are young and will make mistakes.. He thought perceptively. The main thing is that they learn from them.



When it seemed that the Red Sister was going to say no more, Elessar faced her again.


How to do this tactfully. He wondered. Forcefully, but with.. delicacy.


It had been a dismissal, no doubt about it, and ordinarily Elessar would have obeyed, but after what had just occurred in the alley he did not feel it safe for them to return unassisted. In measured tones, respectful but insistent, he said so to the Red Sister, ending with the fact that it was his duty to see them safely back in the Tower. "It is the prudent thing to do, Aes Sedai." He said earnestly. "There might be more of them out there." He paused a moment, then added: "Please". He gave a Warder’s bow and waited, hoping she would not press the issue. She did not. Her hard face stiffened, as if she were not used to having her orders questioned, and she looked long and hard into his equally hard eyes, before finally giving a reluctant curt nod.


He nodded appreciatively, again with respect, satisfied that she had seen the wisdom of his words, even if she were not happy with the decision.


He hid the assassin’s corpse in the Shadows in a well hidden corner-place behind some of the barrels in the alley, covering it with some refuse lying about, so that it would not be found in a good while, and then joined the Aes Sedai and the Accepted as they headed towards the White Tower. Elessar walked in front, eyes vigilant, as they left the alley behind and walked down the adjacent street. A few people passed them by, locals out on the town by the looks of it, and the Warder also observed a few men and women strolling on the other side of the steet as well, but he saw nothing that looked like danger or a threat. They then passed some inns and bars - merry and somewhat bawdy songs spilling out from the open windows -, before they entered one of the main streets, more heavily crowded, in the city proper. They did not talk much as they walked, each in their own thoughts, and the Warder watched everything - the street, the buildings, the rooftops - with eyes alert.


They finally arrived at the gates that lead to the White Tower grounds, passed quickly through - nodding swiftly to one of the guards - and headed directly  towards the Tower entrance itself. There Elessar bid the two women goodnight - he bowed again formally to the Aes Sedai and touched the Accepted’s shoulder with a small smile before parting. He did not see her stare after him when he left.



A short while later, he returned to the dark alley in the city, two Tower Guards with him this time, to pick up the dead body. It was exactly where he had left it. They placed it in a large black-dyed leather sack which they had brought for the purpose, and then carried the sack with the corpse all the way back to the Tower. They received some strange looks from some of the passers-by on the way but no one inquired further, recognizing the Tower Guard uniforms and the obvious official nature of the business. Arriving at the Tower, Elessar made a suitable report to his Warder superior, gave him the leather bag with the poisoned knife, and left the body of the assassin in his care. There were some unanswered questions, of course, but one could presume the blanks would be filled in later. When he was done, Elessar left for his quarters to enjoy a good shower and a bit of rest.


It was only as he was going to bed that night, as stars were shining brightly in the darkness above Tar Valon, that Elessar recalled the whispered words of the assassin, the two words he had uttered just before death had taken him; words which the Gaidin had not mentioned to neither the Sister nor the Accepted. Perhaps they had heard those words in the alley, perhaps not. He could not know for certain. He needed some time to think more about them - and to consider their potential implications.


Sometimes, words were more dangerous than swords..



Secrets in the Shadows Dwell

Speak no words, in Danger’s Spell

Knowledge can a Death Unveil

Twilight’s menace, Soul Assail





Edited by Elessar
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All kept silent for a while. Then, Elessar started to talk. His voice was soft but still commending. Slowly, he explained to the Red Sister why the streets of Tar Valon were not as safe as they appeared, that it was more prudent for him to accompany them back to the Tower. Myrrhi didn't dare to add anything to his words, even though she was happy to hear that he wanted to stay with them. She didn't know why but having him around made her feel better. The Aes Sedai didn't reply immediately. Looking at the Warder intently, she waited for him to be done with his speech, her face unreadable. Then, she gave him a short nod.


The Accepted thought that the little group would immediately be on its way. She was wrong. Elessar took the time to hide the attacker's body behind barrels, further down the alley, and to cover it with stinking refuse. I hope I will not end like this, Myrrhi told herself. Even on a battlefield, I prefer to be the prey of crows than to be part of a pile of waste. She tried not to think further about her death. The night was gloomy enough.


The journey back to the Tower was not a pleasant one. The girl didn't open her mouth nor looked at her companions. She felt like a child who had been caught stealing cookies. Shame and guilt busied her mind and her heart for the best part of the way. At first, she had tried to focus on her surroundings. It was the right thing to do as she was still fearing an attack from the third assassin. But, as minutes passed, she became so lost in her thoughts that she barely noticed the people passing by. 


It would have been easier for her if she had had someone to talk to. She had to admit it to herself. To talk, yes, but to whom? Her Tower friends had been very busy lately and they would probably not have the time to listen to her caught in their own studies. To confide to an Aes Sedai didn't look like a good idea either. They would not understand, some of them would even punish her further for her reckless behavior.


They finally arrived at the Tower's doors. The Tower itself shone in the evening sky, like a welcoming beacon. Myrrhi sighed thinking about her bed. She was pulled out of her reverie by Elessar. The Warder had wished a good evening to the Aes Sedai, who had sniffed before turning her head. It was clear that she was not happy with what had happened earlier that day. After a quick bow, the Gaidin turned towards Myrrhi. He didn't tell her anything except a polite "Good night". Before going away however, he touched her shoulder again with a strong hand. The Accepted enjoyed his reassuring touch and his confident smile. Would he be pleased with what I have done? she wondered. Or does he think I am a goose headed Accepted? Will he still talk to me like he did that morning in the yard? Of course, this was not the time to ask those questions aloud. Hesitating, she raised her hand to place it on the Warder's, then stopped her gesture. The Red Sister would not like to see her touch the Gaidin. Elessar nodded and went away. Myrrhi watching him go, disappointed to see that he didn't look back.


"Child!" Myrrhi turned her head towards the Red Sister so fast that she hurt some of her neck muscles. "Yes, Aes Sedai!" She curtsied blushing. The Aes Sedai coldly ordered her to report to the Mistress of the Novices office as soon as possible. The Accepted was not supposed to omit even the tiniest detail... or else ...  Myrrhi obediently nodded before curtsying once more. She waited for the Sister to show that she was done, then ran to Valeri Sedai as asked. As she crossed the corridors, she felt some pressure building up in her stomach. She knew that she'd have to spend the best part of the night in the Mistress's office. The only thing she could hope for was that today's visit would be the only one. 






A whole week had passed since the Tar Valon "events". Myrrhi had not managed to get much free time. Her backside was still fully blistered because of the strapping she had had to go through and her hands raw because of the new chores she had been given. Indeed, the Mistress of the Novices had not appreciated to hear what the Accepted had told her...


It was late afternoon and the Accepted didn't have much time on her hands. In a bit more than an hour, she would have to go to kitchen to help out with the dinner. Then, she would have to take care of the Red Sister's laundry. After than, she had been scheduled to help a Sister of the Grey Ajah to write some diplomacy letters. Only then - and it would certainly be later than midnight  - she would be allowed to go to sleep.


Biting her lower lip, Myrrhi advanced towards the Warders Yard. She had been thinking about Elessar and wanted to talk to him. She wanted to talk about what had happened in those dark alleys the week before but she also wanted to be near him. She felt foolish for it. Maybe he saw her as a child, just like so many of the Aes Sedai. Then, he would probably laugh in her face and dismiss her as soon as he'd see her. But maybe not... The Accepted sighed. I have nothing to lose, she tried to convince herself. In the worst case, he'll laugh in front of his Warders friends who will laugh at me... until I am raised. I don't think that they'll dare to laugh at a fully raised Aes Sedai ...


The girl remembered that Elessar had told her that she would have more chances to find him in the morning but it had been impossible to free herself at the time. She hoped that the man would still be in the yard somehow. If he wasn't, she could probably try to ask around. She was not sure she would though. She was not feeling confident enough for that. Again, she thought about him, the way he had thought, the way he had reassured her.


She brushed some strands of her loose hair aside as she started to look around.

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.. A Meeting of Past and Present ..



The banners standing proudly on top of the Shining Walls of Tar Valon, ancient city of the Aes Sedai, rippled softly in the persistent breeze coming out of the far reaches of the north. It was late afternoon and the clear sky was ocean-blue, reaching far into the horizon. Rays of purest gold streamed down from the shining sun, painting the Warders Yard in a soft glow as the veteran Borderlander warrior from Kandor methodically and laboriously went through his sword forms.


In the calmness of the Void, Elessar Gaidin felt detached from the world around him as he moved with experience and assurance. The sword was a part of him as he leapt to strike, bent to defend, went high and then low, moving from one form into another, slicing through the air with his blade and moving with agility and swift footwork to get his imaginary opponent off balance.


For quite some time he moved from one form into the next, combining forms and using innovation, until at last he ended the session with Folding the Fan, sheathing his blade. The sword was smoothly swung around from guard stance and sheathed, all in one motion. He breathed a little heavily, but that was to be expected after this exertion, and he was well pleased with the practice session.



Using a towel to dry off some sweat from his upper torso, he cast a glance at several other Warders and trainees still working out in the afternoon sun, his breathing slowing as his body and muscles relaxed. Putting his blade aside, he went to sit down for a minute on one of the huge sitting-stones by the wall. Well seated, he looked upwards and spotted what looked like an eagle floating on the breeze high above Tar Valon, a dark speck against the blue sky. It was on its way to greener pastures, he guessed, further south by the Sea of Storms. The large bird of prey made him think of those smaller black birds - crows he now thought they had been - that had flown straight at him a week earlier in that dark alley during the Tar Valon ‘incident’. The more he thought about it the more certain he became that it had been no coincidence. He had no proof, of course, but he suspected that there was foul play involved somehow. Those devious little birds of prey.. casting long Shadows.. often spelled trouble..


Elessar had, in fact, spent the last week considering the attack and everything that had happened, going over the incident with his Warder superiors in order to see what - if any - measures need be taken, and thinking long and hard about the whispered words that the dying assassin had spoken just before death had taken him. He did not have any answers as of yet, but a few suspicions that needed more consideration. On the other hand, it could be that it would remain an unresolved mystery. Not everything could be explained. The Warder had learned the truth of that over the years.


There had, alas, been many mysteries on the road for him, as a valiant companion to his many Aes Sedai bondholders. Mysteries, puzzles, unexplained events, unexpected wonders and surprises..


Life changing events..


It made him think of Carys. And their first meeting, on the mission for the Yellow Ajah. A sad smile came upon his face as he remembered. It had been a very difficult time for him. He had been consistently plagued by troubled dreams, torn inside by doubt and guilt. His ever-present inner demons coming to the fore, but they had been particularly strong, ferocious, at that time. Then he had met Carys Aes Sedai. It had been the beginning of a new journey..



He remembered the scene at the estate in Cairhien, in incredible detail, almost as if it were yesterday..


..Several days out from Tar Valon, having first joined the travelling party as an escort to another Sister.. then another back alley, another ambush.. he had saved her life, Carys’, pushing her out of an arrow’s deadly path, and then she had saved his.. one of those unexpected events and counter-events and wonders that could change everything in a life..


He could hear her voice and see her face, seated at the estate, as if she were right there in front of him..



..Carys smiled, “Pleased to meet you Elessar, I am Carys. I am so glad to hear that you will be joining me.”


She added that the current situation was dangerous enough, without the added farmhouse in the country. Before she could get to that story, however, she said that she owed him an apology. He had said that he had misjudged, well she had mistreated. Her words and actions had been nothing but harsh to him and yet he had saved her life the night before. She said she should not have spoken so hastily as she had done. For that she was sorry.


Before Elessar was able to say that no apology was necessary, she had already plowed on. She motioned toward the chair across from her and he nodded, seating himself. She said: “Someone has been murdering people…friends…of the Yellow Ajah. This has been happening all over, but we’ve narrowed it down to Cairhien. That is why we’re here.” She said. “I and the other Aes Sedai here with me, have been charged with finding the Darkfriends and sending them to justice. We had had little to go on until a letter showed up yesterday. It was not addressed to any one person, but rather was instructed to go to any of the party. That is how I was given directions to the alley yesterday, that was why I was there. That letter had the same seal that this does. I still have it in my room. I will show that to you as well.“


Elessar’s mouth tightened when she mentioned Darkfriends. His eyes hardened. He had always hated the Shadow, Borderlander-bred as he was, and he was certain that Darkfriends had killed his first Bondholder Leandreen. They are everywhere these days, he thought with disgust, a danger for us all.


Carys ended by saying that they had to find these Darkfriends. They had to stop other good people from beng murdered just for associating with the Yellow Ajah. “I appreciate and take the support you are offering”. She said. Her eyes met his and he nodded. “The honour is mine, Carys Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah”, he said, nodding in respect.


They then went on to talk about practicalities concerning their journey to the farmhouse. They needed some provisions, Carys explained which route they would take and Elessar shared some of his views regarding the danger they seemed to be facing and which precautions he thought they should take. It was some time later that Carys left to take care of some matters while Elessar headed for the estate’s stables to check on his stallion Stormbreaker, which someone had brought from the “Silver Swan”, and to retrieve his things, not the least his longsword. He would feel much better with the sword strapped at his side. After that he would go and eat a late breakfast before meeting Carys outside at a designated time.


Entering the stables, he saw his black stallion standing at the end row. He walked up to him and gave him an affectionate pat on the back to which Stormbreaker whinnied agreeably. He gave the horse som hay to eat, then looked around and found his belongings and his blade by the stall-wall. Grinning to himself he picked up the sword and held it almost reverently in his hands. Now he felt ready to take on the Darkfriends..



The heavy sounds of clashing swords from down the Yard brought him abruptly out of  his reverie, his intense memories. It took him a moment to re-focus. It had been a good while since he had last thought of Carys, his former bondholder. He wondered if she was still busy in the Infirmary, her true passion in life. She is probably running the place by now, he thought with a small smile of amusement in his eyes.


Shaking his head slightly, fully attentive again, he was about to get to his feet to have a final practice session before retiring for the day, when he saw a familiar face coming closer. It was a young woman in her white Accepted’s dress, with the seven bands of colour at hem and cuffs, walking towards him and he soon recognized Myrrhi’s face. He had not seen her in the week since the attack, but was pleased to see that she looked well, if a little shy, or recitent, in her approach. Wanting to put her at ease, he waved her over and smiled kindly when she stood before him.


"Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen", he said welcoming her, "I am glad to see you up and about. And recovered from the.. ordeal." He asked her to please take a seat beside him, his hand touching her shoulder for a second, for reassurance. "Actually, you are lucky to find me here now", he added earnestly. "I had some errands to do this morning and so I postponed my training."


He remembered their last talk in the Warders Yard, some months before. He had enjoyed it. He felt comfortable with this young woman. And it was always nice to be able to help out. Perhaps she had more questions for him. He waited for her to speak, shifting his gaze for a moment to stare casually across the Yard at a pair of duelling trainees in the distance.




Edited by Elessar
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The yard was busy. Many Warders and trainees were gathered in groups of two to five, to practice their sword skills. Only a couple of them were on the side, watching and commenting. To Myrrhi, it was not so different from what she had seen during her previous visit. Maybe, the shadows were a bit longer - the late afternoon sun was slowly getting into hiding behind the yard walls - and the atmosphere a bit more relaxed. Soon indeed, the bells would call for the evening meal. Myrrhi sighed wondering whether the Warders would eat the same as the Aes Sedai.


Let's go, she thought. There was no reason to delay. She couldn't allow herself to stay where she stood, to look around and to think about what a Warder's life could be. If she was not back in the Tower on time, she'd suffer for it. And she had suffered enough lately. Again, she looked at her raw hands and winced at her blistered back.


Just as she had done the previous time, the Accepted tried to focus on her feet. The muddy ground of the yard made her feel self conscious. She was afraid to stain her dress or to fall... Shivering, she imagined herself on the ground, covered with dirt, the Warders laughing at her.


It was hard not to pay any attention to what was going on around her. The sound of the Warders' cheers and the clash of their weapons made her want to raise her eyes. If only I could train with them... That fight in the alley, it proved that an Aes Sedai is nothing if she can only rely in the One Power. Myrrhi shook her head and went on with her thoughts. I was not that bad with that knife. Surely, the Green Sisters would allow me to train with such a small weapon... Since those unfortunate events, the Accepted had been sent to the Greens quarters to do her chores. There, she had had the chance to talk to a couple of Sisters. They had seemed very curious about what she had done in the alley. Even if they still disapproved that the girl had left the Red Sister's side, they were very interested in the weaves Myrrhi had woven. They had even given her advice for the next time, before commenting on the use of weapons. The Accepted would have loved those impromptu lessons if she had not been standing on all fours with her hands and elbows covered with soap. 


One cautious step after the other, she reached the back of the yard... And there he was! The dark haired warrior who had occupied most of her thoughts. He seemed to be dancing, concentrating on one sword form after the other. It was so strange to see him so calm, after the last week attacks. At the time, he had looked less graceful but as efficient as today. The young woman stayed back, not wanting to disturb him. She knew that he would notice her soon, if he had not noticed her already.


"Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen, I am glad to see you up and about. And recovered from the.. ordeal." Myrrhi's heart beat  faster at those few words. They were clearly an invitation to come near. And so, he has seen me coming, she smiled. And he won't be dismissing me ... immediately. She made a quick curtsy and advanced to join him. "It is a pleasure to see you, Elessar Gaidin," she replied.


The Warder placed his sword aside and invited her to take a seat. Myrrhi nodded and thanked him with mirth in her eyes.


She silently cursed as she arrived in front of the slab of rock Elessar had indicated. This will hurt! She admonished herself. But she didn't want to show what she was in pain. So, she breathed in and tried to sit with her back very straight, just like she did in class. She was happy to hear that the Gaidin had postponed his training. Would she have come in the morning, she would not have found him. 


The Accepted brushed the skirt of her dress with a sweaty hand. She had repeated to herself a few sentences and questions she wanted to ask to the Warder. But now that she was right next to him, they all sounded hollow in her head. She tried to empty her mind of doubts, and stayed silent for a couple of seconds. She looked in the distance trying to gather some courage. This was the third time they met. They had already chatted together. Why was she feeling so stressed? Politely, she asked the Warder about his health. Had he been injured after the battle of the alley? Had he had the chance to have some rest? Would he go again in Tar Valon within the coming days? She noticed that she was very curious to hear about his answers and was happy to learn that he was fine and enjoying his late training.


"I have been thinking of you..." she went on. "of us... Well, I mean...  about what happened in the city." She bit her lower lip. She had indeed thought of him but she preferred not to talk about it. With a fast hand, she pinched her right earlobe, hoping that it would prevent her blushing. "I really don't want to disturb you during your training, but ... " she hesitated. "... but I feel guilty. Maybe I should have acted differently. I don't know...  What do you think?" Her question had been blunt but it had come from her heart. She looked intently at the Warder, waiting for an answer.

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.. The Dangers of Self-Incrimination ..



The Accepted seemed to him a little hesitant before speaking, but he let her take her time, not wanting to rush her. While he waited, he studied the duelling trainees across the Yard, noting their moves, footwork and their sword forms, gaining an impression of how far along in their training they were. He knew of the two young men, one was a Saldaean 18-year old and the other was a 19-year old from Murandy; both would be good Warders one day, as Elessar judged it, but they had some way to go before reaching that milestone. He shifted his gaze back to the young woman seated beside him as she started to speak. Politely she asked him about his health, if he had been injured in the battle in the alley, and if he had had the chance to have some rest?


Whether she was concerned about him, or asked just out of general interest, he appreciated it. "I got no serious injuries", he replied. "A few minor scratches", he said, underplaying some of his wounds, "and some tired muscles, but that was about it." He smiled. "This past week I have had plenty of rest, and have combined that with some good practice sessions, like the one I had today."


She nodded, and he thought he saw a smile in her eyes, as if what he said pleased her.



She then asked if he planned another walk in Tar Valon in the coming days? He thought he detected some curiosity in her voice, but again it could be just polite smalltalk or general interest. Perhaps she wondered if he found it safe to walk in the city streets after what had happened? "We have taken some measures after what happened", he replied, "the City Watch has also been alerted, so it should be safe to walk the streets of Tar Valon now." That was not entirely true in the Warder’s opinion, there could still be a threat out there, an unknown danger, but he did not want to frighten the young Accepted. In any case, he did not think it likely that this young woman was or would be a target for assassins; the Red Sister was another matter, of course. "I have some errands in the city later this week", he added, "so I will be out and about a few times, yes."


She nodded again, a slight flush in her cheeks or so it seemed to the Gaidin, but then she quickly spoke on. She said that she had been thinking of him.. of them.. about what happened in the city. She seemed to his eye a little restless, fidgeting a little, seeming to struggle somewhat with what she wanted to say. He smiled carefully, trying to put her at ease. She gathered herself then and said: "I really don't want to disturb you during your training, but ... " she hesitated. "... but I feel guilty. Maybe I should have acted differently. I don't know...  What do you think?" She looked intently at Elessar and her firm, intense gaze gave him the impression that his answer was important to her. She feels guilt after what happened. An expert on feeling guilt, or self-judgment, the Warder sighed inwardly.


He still did not know what had happened with her and the Red Sister when the assassin had attacked. All he knew was that the assassin had been mortally wounded, and he presumed the two women had defended themselves as best they could against his attack, eliminating the threat. Neither woman had spoken to him of what exactly had taken place and he did not expect to learn the details. Her words indicated though that whatever she had done, she felt guilt about it now and was second-guessing her actions. Elessar did not want to pry, some things were personal and she would speak of them if she wanted to, or alternatively if she were allowed to - some things were ‘Aes Sedai business’, he knew -  so he could only give her a general answer.



"There is no need for self-incrimination, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen", he said earnestly, using formality to emphasize the importance of his words. He met her eyes. "You did everything you could in an unexpected, dangerous situation; we all did. Perhaps with more experience one might have acted differently.. but the end result could very well be the same. The main thing is, we eliminated that threat - and survived, with few injuries and no losses on our side. Sometimes, that is all one can hope for." A pensive look came upon his face. He was silent for several seconds. "I have some.. experience with self-judgment and guilt", he then added, his eyes tightening slightly, echoes of his inner pain touching his mind, "and if you can, please avoid it. Nothing good ever comes of it." If only I could learn that lesson myself. He thought darkly. If only..


He pushed all thoughts of his inner pain, his eternal guilt, away from his mind, a pair of familiar emerald eyes - like flames of doom - slowly receeding in his consciousness.


Only then did he realize that he had clenched his fists into balls.. and he unclenched them carefully, his facial features softening a little. Trying to put some deliberate levity into his words, he asked: "Has it been a busy week for you in the White Tower? Any rest at all? Tell the Mistress of Novices from me", he added jokingly, "that though it is true that work builds character, she must keep in mind that men and women can be pushed too hard."


He grinned slightly, imagining in his mind the Mistress of Novices’ face if she were confronted in such a manner. She would not be amused. Far from it.


He looked at Myrrhi’s face, a twinkle in his eye, to gauge her reaction to his statement.




Edited by Elessar
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The young woman laughed. She knew she shouldn't but it was impossible to stop herself. She imagined going to the Mistress of the Novices' office and tell Valeri Sedai that she shouldn't be pushed to hard. It would be quite an adventure. Better to face a golden high dragon, the Accepted thought. One like in those stories that can roast you in a heart beat.... Her clear laugh resonated in the yard and for a moment she forgot about the pain. Some trainees looked towards her, wondering what was happening but she didn't care... this time.


"I will surely tell her that, Elessar Gaidin" she replied, still shaking a bit. "Or, I will just keep silent and hope she'll forget about me." She grinned. She had wanted to hide about her punishment but the Warder had seen through her. No need to keep up appearances anymore, she thought ,as she allowed herself to rub a hand against her lower back. "I don't know if you have been strapped before. But it hurts," she said.


Waiting for the Warder's answer, she thought back about her youth. She had never been strapped at home. Her mother had preferred to slap her in the face... or to threaten her. In a flash, hurtful memories passed through her mind.




Myrrhi had been so happy the first times she had been allowed to accompany her mother out of the house. She had naively thought that those “sorties” would be the occasion for a nice bonding time with her "mama" as well as a reward for everything she did in the house. The first dresses and soft boots she had been offered had been all so very elegant. They had made her feel like a real lady. She had even received some make up to redden her cheeks and her lips!


The young girl was far from stupid though and, after a while, she had understood that those little adventures had for only goal to find her a suitable husband.


Tonight, would be her thirtieth “evening out” ... I won't go, the young girl thought. She turned another page of her book, well aware that she was only wearing her shift. Won't to cope with her little schemes anymore. She had finished another page when she heard her mother calling. "Myrrhi! Are you ready?" The girl decided not to reply. Instead, she climbed on her bed and went to hide under her covers. She pinched her cheeks as hard as she could, hoping they'd get as red as they'd be if she had a fever. A few second later, her mother entered the room. "What... the...". Hannah rushed to Myrrhi's bed. Horrified at the thought that her evening plans were destroyed, she placed an expert had on the girl's forehead. She kept silent for a while then a scowl appeared on her face. "You will get dressed this instant!" she ordered her daughter.


"No, Mother, I don't..." The girl didn't have the time to finish her sentence. She found herself pulled out of her covers. "Let me go! Let me go!" she begged. Her mother was not listening, she ripped Myrrhi's shift apart, forcing her in the red woolen dress she had bought for the occasion. The usual Andoran cut had been transformed to show as much bosom and ankle as it was possible to. Myrrhi felt naked wearing it. Make up was applied to her face and her hair pulled back, making her look 5 years older. "And, now, out with you!" Hannah commanded pointing a finger towards to the door.


Myrrhi advanced, following her mother's steps, then she stopped. "I won't go, I said" she yelled. Doing so she grabbed the wooden frame that separated her tiny bedroom from the main living area "I will stay here!". Her mother cursed. With fast steps, she joined her reluctant offspring to slap her silly. "YOU WILL COME WITH ME!". More words came from her. Most of them were accusations that the girl was not seeing what was important for the  family, that she was overreacting and not seeing the chance she was given.


Myrrhi didn't listen to all of them. She kept on fighting. To her own surprise, she managed to get away from her mother's clutches. Without losing any second, she threw herself towards the kitchen table where a small knife had been left. With deft hands she cut fistfuls of her own hair. "And now, what will you do with me?" she grinned. At the sight, Myrrhi’s mother started screaming even louder. Why would she do this? How could she go out now with a girl looking like a mangy dog? What kind of husband would want to marry a girl who looked like an Aiel savage ? Ready to slap that little egotistical brat, Myrrhi’s mother stopped in her tracks when her daughter started to cut deeply in her left arm with the knife she still had in her right hand.


Myrrhi’s sisters who had carefully kept out of the way didn't manage to stay back any longer. Horrified by the scene, they jumped to their eldest sibling to save her from herself. They pleaded for her to stop and hugged her with all their little strength. Feeling her sisters’ arms around her Myrrhi slowly calmed down and fell on her knees. She let go of the knife with a shiver. I love you, she thought, looking fondly at her sisters. The cut in her arm was not too deep, she'd learn later. But it had bled so much that she had thought she'd be dying. Hannah, upset as she was, left the little house, without even looking to her daughter’s injury...




Shaking her head to dissipate the awful  memories of that night, Myrrhi tried to focus on the present. So, I shouldn't feel guilty. I killed while defending myself... And the past is the past ...

Edited by Chaelca
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.. Moments of Rememberance and Reflection ..



It pleased him to see her laugh.


She did not seem to be able to stop herself as peals of laughter erupted and made her shake with open delight. Some of her inhibitions dissipated, removing much of her shyness at least for a moment, and Elessar was glad to see her more relaxed. She could obviously see the hilarity in his fun proposal to confront Valeri Aes Sedai, the more or less renowned Mistress of Novices in the White Tower. Her clear laughter resonated in that part of the Yard, making a few nearby trainees turn in her direction. They did not say anything derogatory, though they looked somewhat amused. A good thing they kept silent, thought the Warder wryly. Any insults towards this young woman and he would have them thrashed.


As she was almost finished laughing, she said, with merriment in her voice, that she would surely tell the Mistress of Novices that. Or, she added wisely, she would just keep silent and hope the Mistress of Novices would forget about her. She grinned but her tone of voice was a little grave as well and made the Gaidin understand some of the cost of the rigours she had been through. He saw her rub a hand against an obviously sore lower back and his suspicions were confirmed when she added a question, asking if he had ever been strapped before?, a hurtful experience. She seemed to become a little distant then, as if lost in deep thought, her eyes taking on a faraway look, and he waited patiently and considerately with his reply, giving her a moment to gather herself.


Though the Aes Sedai, perhaps, tried to keep a lid on it, there were rumours about the punishment, often very strict and severe in nature, in the White Tower inflicted upon Novices and Accepted who had broken rules in some way or other. Disciplining young Tower women by strapping, beating or any similar physical means was something that was conveniently ignored or overlooked by many in society but also frowned upon by some, but privately, since very few indeed dared openly criticize the Aes Sedai for their corporal practices and customs. Even among the Warders and Tower Guards some, very privately, shared the view that the Sisters sometimes went overboard with their punishments of these young women, but the views were never aired in public. Loyalty towards the White Tower - and the Aes Sedai - always took precedence.


Discipline and a certain hardness was important in training future Aes Sedai, Elessar understood, just as was the case with Warder trainees. The demands and pressures of their service to be rendered for the White Tower made it so. Yet, all within reason. He therefore empathized with the young Accepted, understanding that she had received hurtful physical punishment by the Mistress of Novices, probably as a result of her actions - however apt and necessary - during the Tar Valon ‘incident’. He was not best pleased, but there was nothing he could do about it. Aes Sedai customs were their business, after all. He could only hope that Myrrhi would endure the punishments she might receive during her coming years of training as well as could be hoped for, and that it would make her stronger in all ways.


He saw her eyes focus on him once again and understood that she was back from wherever her thoughts had brought her. He was ready to answer her now. "I haven’t been strapped, no." He said earnestly in reply. "But I can imagine how painful it can be." He added with compassion. "I have, however, been through my share of physical punishments in Warder training.. and elsewhere.." His eyes tightened. "But we must endure." He ended, almost in a whisper. "In the end, the pain goes away."


But not all pain. Not all..



It made him think of Vehran.


Thinking of his dead younger brother always brought him inner pain and sorrow. It was a death his father in Kandor would never forgive him for.  Another darkness upon my soul..


It had happened on his first visit home a few years after finishing Warder training, during a forest trek in one of Kandor’s several valleys. Vehran and he had gone swimming in a Borderland river there, the currents had been strong - stronger than they had anticipated - and Vehran had accidentally slipped and knocked his head on a rock, disappearing flailing into the rushing water. Elessar had heard his brother’s scream but had been too far away to do anything, and by the time he reached his brother’s body, carried by the frantic stream further downriver, and got it out of the water, it was too late. His father had never forgiven him for not saving Vehran’s life..


“You were the older brother“, he had shouted at Elessar in anger and sorrow, “it was your responsibility to take care of him, Elessar! How could you not see the danger!? How were you, a trained Warder, unable to save him!? It is on your head. You are no longer a son of mine!”


The harsh, bitter words rang in Elessar’s head still, even after so many years. And perhaps his father was right. He blamed himself for his younger brother’s death, even if perhaps unfairly; another sin weighing down on his soul..



Pushing those dark memories away, into its own compartment in his mind, hard though it was, he tried to smile as he looked upon the young lady seated beside him. "But enough gloom and doom", he said with a small grin. "You probably have some more questions for me." Her face lit up, eagerness showing, but then she bit her lower lip as if she were uncertain if she could ask him something. He recognized that look in her face and waited patiently for her to speak. Finally she did, meeting his eyes squarely.


She said that she did not mean to pry or anything.. and if he did not want to answer he did not have to.. she hesitated slightly.. but she wondered, what it was like to be Warder to a Green Sister..? There was a slight blush in her cheeks but he pretended not to notice.


Pain and Joy, was his first thought, thinking about Leandreen.. Light and Darkness..


But he knew that would be too personal and she was looking for a different - more general - answer. He stood by his earlier guess that she was a Battle Ajah Sister to be - Yes, I can see a future Green Sister in her - and with that in mind it was not a strange question from a curious young woman of the Tower. He smiled at her. "’An adventure’, I think most Warders to Greens would say in reply." He chuckled. "It might depend on who you ask, of course. And what mood they are in. And if their bondholder is near." He grinned. More seriously, he added. "We got to travel much around the nations on missions for the Tower, that is true. I quite enjoyed that part. There was danger and threats to be handled - and we could make good use of our skills together.. there was important service to be rendered.. but also there were quieter times, pleasant times, on the road together in good companionship." He remembered fondly many such times over the years.


"As for the Warder-bond itself.. ", he added thoughtfully after a moment’s reflection, "..that special connection between an Aes Sedai and her Warder.. it is difficult to explain.. it must be experienced I think.. it is certainly something extraordinary."




Edited by Elessar
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Myrrhi smiled. She enjoyed talking to Warder. He has such a way with words! A real storyteller... and ... I decided to talk to him only because he was training alone. What would have happened if I had picked someone else? Maybe I would have stayed in the Tower tower today ... and my backside would have hurt less, she grinned innerly.


The Accepted focused again on the man's explanations hoping he had not seen her mind wandering. Being able to leave the Tower, to discover new cities and new people, to go on missions, it sounded so nice! Of course, it would mean more fights, more blood, more deaths too... The idea made her sigh. However, it didn't bothered her like it had before, she had to admit to herself. Slowly, she was started to understand. The fight had been necessary. She had done what she had to do. Her guilt had lessened since she had entered the Yard. Was it because of Elessar's words? Or maybe because he was still talking to her, just like before, not taking her for a monster.




"As for the Warder-bond itself ... that special connection between an Aes Sedai and her Warder ... it is difficult to explain... it must be experienced I think ... it is certainly something extraordinary...", the Warder told her.


"Oh, I..." The young woman started. Then, she stopped. She had experienced the Warder Bond during the Three Arches Ritual. She couldn't remember the face of the man who had sworn to protect her but she remembered about the connection. Everything he had felt, she had felt it too... He had left her in a clearing a couple of minutes to scout the area they had to cross, then he had been attacked. She had felt his pain when he had been injured and his anger - he had been taken by surprise. Going against his wishes, she had rushed to help him. He had been very frustrated to see her appearing at his side. Frustrated but still very fond of her. Quickly, the fever of the battle had made her forget everything except the enemies she had to kill and her friend who was getting overrun. She had been so worried for him that she had almost missed the misty arch that had to led her back to the White Tower and its reality.


"I mean..." she tried to correct her mistake "I have read about it..." It was not exactly a lie. She had read about the Bond as well as about the deeds of well-known Green Sisters and their Warders. But it was not what she had had in mind. She had wanted to talk about her Three Arches and what it had meant for her, which was something very close to forbidden.


She didn't have the time to think of an apology as Elessar nodded reassuringly. He seemed to have understood that there were things she couldn't talk about.


"It would be pretty interesting while fighting?" she added hesitantly. "I guess you can use what each other feels ...as an advantage? "


The Warder replied, making some comments about what he had experienced in the past. Myrrhi could feel that he too was keeping some things under silence. She knew though that it was not because of some kind of "Warder - business". Maybe it is because of bad memories? She wondered. She didn't want to pry and to show it, she smiled and went on with their conversation. 


"It is very unfortunate, Elessar Gaidin" she told him. "but I have to wish you a good evening." She stood up and quickly curtsied. "It has been a great pleasure to talk to you, I feel better now."





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.. The End of the Beginning ..



Elessar saw definite interest in Myrrhi’s eyes when he explained about Green Sedai and their Warders going on missions for the White Tower. Travelling, seeing new places, new people, new customs, new wonders certainly had an appeal for many, especially those a little restless, looking for adventure outside the White Tower and Tar Valon, and the opportunity to make good use of skills learned over several years. Missions often also meant danger, stress, tiring journeys, makeshift camps and lesser amenities on the road, of course, but those less favourable aspects where often ignored or taken lightly in the sum of things.


I was certainly eager to get out of the White Tower and Tar Valon and go on that first mission with Leandreen, Elessar thought with fond rememberance..



It was a short time after they were bonded, a Green Ajah mission to Whitebridge in Andor to investigate the murder of one of their eyes and ears there. Their party had consisted of three Green Sisters and six Warders, among them Leandreen of the Battle Ajah and a certain young Kandori Gaidin, very eager to protect and serve and, not the least, to show his mettle..


He remembered it vividly..


..Elessar rode vigilantly by Leandreen’s side, her green travelling cloak matching the colour of her emerald eyes but a great contrast to her fiery red hair, as they slowly entered the town of Whitebridge in central-western Andor on a bright and sunny afternoon. The wind was blowing from the south-west, making their cloaks flap against the side of their tired mounts. All the travellers were weary from a long day’s ride and looked forward to some rest before confronting the women now heading the Green spy network.


Riding across the huge white glass-like bridge - from which the town took its name - which spanned the River Arinelle, Elessar recalled what knowledge he had of this impressive structure. The bridge was believed to date all the way back to the Age of Legends, thousand of years before. It looked to be made of impossibly fragile white glass - almost as if carved from one piece -, yet of a type so strong even a chisel and hammer would not mar it. Furthermore, despite its glasslike surface it never became slick, even in the hardest rain. The White Tower knew perhaps more of its origin, but even with Elessar’s limited knowledge he was mightily impressed.


The town of Whitebridge grew up around the large stone-paved square at the bridge’s eastern foot. With its imposing bridge being the only span crossing the Arinelle south of Maradon in Saldaea, Whitebridge town had from early on flourished in trade. Most buildings in the town were made of stone and brick, and the docks were made of wood. From what the Warder had read, all social classes were represented in Whitebridge - from merchants in their shiny lacquered carriages and velvet coats to farmers and peasants in rough wool ..


The murderer was finally apprehended, after causing much strife in town, a suspected Darkfriend as it turned out, and taken into custody by the Green Ajah Sisters. He would stand trial for his crimes. Bound in flows of Air, it was a wonder that the fierce stares given him by the Aes Sedai did not burn him on the spot..



Something the young Accepted said brought him back from his momentary reverie. She was responding to his comments about the Warder-bond. "Oh, I..." The young woman started, then she stopped of a sudden. It was as if she wanted to say more but became uncertain. Finally she added, "I mean... I have read about it...". Elessar had the impression that she had indeed been about to say something else, perhaps - he thought intuitively - something she was not supposed to divert. He understood and nodded reassuringly. We all have secrets.. He thought knowingly. Some things that are not spoken of.


She smiled and looked relieved that he had understood.


Then she added hesitantly, that it - having use of the bond between Sedai and Warder - would be pretty interesting while fighting? And that she guessed that one could use what each one of them felt.. as an advantage?


The Gaidin nodded in reply. "To some extent that has been my experience". He said carefully. "I never felt everything Leandreen felt, of course, or knew all her thoughts.. that is not the way the bond worked for us, not for me anyway.. ; but I sensed some of her actions a second or so before they happened, or as they were happening, or at least that was the way it felt, which made me better able to follow up, aid her or watch her back proficiently." He nodded to himself, recollecting. "Most often though the advantage of the bond in battle was that I always knew where - in which direction - she was when we got separated, and that I instantly knew if she were injured." This worked both ways of course. His eyes tightened slightly at the memory. "There were some other benefits of the bond as well". He added without going into detail. His words made him think more of Leandreen and, as so often was the case, eventually brought sorrow and guilt in his soul. His eyes took on a somber look for a moment, but then slowly his face cleared of pain once again as Myrrhi, seeming to understand that he might have some bad memories, smiled at him, reassuring him.


There was a silence then between them for some moments as neither said anything. Myrrhi started fidgeting a little and it gave Elessar the impression that their conversation was coming to an end. The Accepted had gotten more answers to her questions and probably had errands to do, classes to attend. His suspicion was confirmed when she met his eyes and said that it was very unfortunate, but she had to wish him a good evening. She stood up and curtsied, adding that it had been a great pleasure to talk to him, she felt better now. Elessar smiled and stood up, giving her a respectful Warder’s bow in return.



"The pleasure has been mine, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen". He said politely and earnestly. "I am glad to have been of further assistance answering some more of your questions." He added. "And I have enjoyed our conversation. I wish you a good evening - and the best of luck in your training."


She smiled back at him, a little shyly but sincerely, a slight flush in her cheeks, appreciating his kind words. Once again she went on her way, trying not to look back. She walked carefully across the uneven ground in the Yard, to make sure she did not fall and embarass herself nor stain her white dress. Soon she had passed through the gates at the end of the Warders Yard and Elessar’s eyes shifted back to the Warder training going on down the Yard. He watched them work for a good while, his thoughts elsewhere, before gathering all his things and returning to his quarters in the Warder Barracks.


That night, as the full moon shone down on Tar Valon, enveloping the White Tower in streams of silver, his dreams were of Warders and Sedai, bonded and joined in glorious Battle for the Light.



Crystal-clear like sacred Pond

Is the Warder-Sedai Bond

Joined in thought and deed, for Sure

Power-wrought, and shining Pure





Edited by Elessar
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