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About tismeb4u

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  1. A distant momentary look; knuckles paler then deaths own embrace from the strangling hold on the utensil it gripped. That was not a subtle tell that she had let slip during their banter, it screamed with a raw depth of buried emotion he had only witnessed twice from her. The room at the in where she had awakened in sheer terror and the night in the stable’s where she has slipped silently into his arms; bide him silence to avoided the question. She had tried to explain it to him. It had been the reason for their training in weapons and would eventually be in hand to hand combat. But still parts of her story were beyond his comprehension. He did not doubt the truth of her words; emotion too raw to be forged from story and game. His hand slipped from the table to touch his pocket; reassurance that the strange missive was still there. He could press her on the contents; his perception of the contents. But was it too soon, her fragility so obvious in the odd reaction. Again, the men in black seemed to be the unhinging of her; the way she held herself, the refusal to defiantly meet his gaze, to measure him in equal review. Broken, the thought floated between them, hurt dripped from it; worry flaring protectively battled with the game players desire to pounce on the open weakness. To tear at the soft scared edges and rent open the raw emotion below. Emotion that would force out the truth held him torn between two purposes. The desire to complete the puzzle and know her hand in all of it; Sirayn, his life, their meeting, every little piece that had been. There was more, so much more to the relationship between Sirayn and Lavinya. What was it? How much had been real, how much rehearsed and planned? A puppet on the strings of its master following the dance of another. The opportunity was here, all he needed was step forth and use that which was known to press out the answers to the unknown while she was weak and vulnerable. But his heart refuted the player; battled for her honor, her dignity, for a love remembered. It hurt him to see her this way, this foreign weakness. It was not her; not the woman he knew and had loved. Loved …. Infatuation? Where had the step started and where had it failed? The vision of the field outside the cabin swam into a hazy presence between them as her eyes at last met his own; silent accusations answered the question of where the step failed. He had done that; he was the cause of that lost and failure. The start of the hurt that must have consumed her; sent her straight to the clutches of the madman that had practically destroyed her. His hands just as red as the onlooker who turns a blind eye to the cut throat’s dirty work. The pattern had been woven and no one could change that. But how to move on, how to put the pieces of the strong defiant women he had admired and, for a time, loved, back together again was a task he was not sure he could complete on his own. Do I even have the right? The cool smile and almost frustrated sigh of his name pulled back his attention from the inner war. More pieces to more holes in a picture far from revealing its true shape slide across the table; the thoughts pushed by her voiced acknowledgement of the secrets. Aes Sedai to the core, for always there were secrets and plans; a pawn or a pauper to move and use. That was the life one accepted when they joined the tower and actively sought the eye or service of a sister. He had known that once, accepted it as his proper place eagerly. Such a youthful fool he had been back then, eager to rush into the clutches of the spider. A country boy naive to the true power the members of the White Tower held and how deep the Great Game went. A fool no more, now an injured player and reluctant chess piece biting at the hand that would see him put where he was needed. How easy it had been to accept at one time, why could he not now? She was Aes Sedai, her plans outweighed that of his own. He was simply there to serve. But they had changed that notion, many of them; not just the 2 suns that he orbited in confusion and blind acceptance …. had orbited … had been two … the balance is broken, a comet streaming across the night sky in a beautiful display of death and erosions. That is my lot now …. That is my existence, all else I have forfeit the right to. The slender girl with her sweet smile and large hazel eyes swept into the room and pushed the tension to the side where it waited to pounce once more. The break was needed, almost enjoyable as it gave them both a chance to breath; to ease the tension between his shoulders he had not notice building. He returned her smile warmly, her eyes glancing over to him in subtle flicks. In his youth, he had dreamed that someone like her would exist and would find interest in him; marveled over how some of the other fellows gained this kind of attention and could not place how they had drawn it. Now the attention was cute, flattering, and a welcome distraction. But she was but a child, however alluring, a dangerous emotional rollercoaster wrapped in a sweet frame of distraction. A hand to play for a time and then fold without winning the final pot. It was tempting, considering the obvious coolness and chilled demeanor his sister displayed to the girl, to play out the game longer. To use her presence and thinly veiled offer to continue to keep Lavinya off balance. Might even be fun, when was the last time I truly flirted for the fun of it and not to gain an advantage in the game? Tempting, but it was not what was required. He needed a way to put Lavinya back together again. In a very real and personal way he was worried about her; a growing need to see her restored and whole once more began to outweigh the need to see his own place in the Tower determined. Purpose …. The new path that had been forming in his mind was washed away like that of a sand castle to the embrace of a wave. Release? Confusion and alarm spiking a heady warning and set the tension back to his shoulders. This was wrong; she was wrong; everything about their present relationship was wrong. Was there something in her look, the way she spoke; the pauses, gaps that threatened to reveal more then what was spoken? Perhaps, or perhaps it was simply his desire, the players need to see something that was not there; hear something that did not exist; find the leverage to command the dance. Truth … Perception … Trap …. Sirayn would have known the way of it, she could have deciphered it. But she was gone and he now had to stand or fall by his own hand. Long moments stretched out, the silence broken by the movement of her glass from time to time as it visited her normally soft and relaxed lips now drawn and pressed more than he remembered. Did she fidget? Was that what she was about with the glass and its contents, or was it to hide the hurt and the pain in the numbing embrace of over indulgence; to hide her disappointment in him? Did they still dance the same dance or was a lesson being prepared for the unwitting student? Questions battered at his mind while eyes continued to study his opponent. Why could he not read her? Why did he not trust what he had been taught? What was it about Lavinya Morganen that unhinged him so. The answer bloomed and he refuted it immediately, unwilling to give it life. “Hmmmm”, a plethora of options presented themselves as he began to accept the thought of traveling further on. Perhaps with additional time and training he could find a way to restore the strong and defiant woman he had known …. will the soft remain? His boots found their way to the table as he leaned back and settled in for the discussion. “I suppose there is always places a person wonders about. Tales and peoples described in song and story that draw wonder and curiosity.” His home? No, too personal, too sensitive with their present tension. Returning was obviously out of the question. She had made that abundantly clear. “Fabled lands steeped in history and fortune.” Camlyn? No, to close to the men in black, too close to the nightmare made real in her. The Sea? Possible, it would give options and time, but where, there was so much of it. If he were to offer up that as a location she would think him simple minded for sure. “Somewhere relatively nearby, in case you are called for.” Her homeland perhaps? It had crossed his mind earlier. How would she react to a visit to somewhere familiar, or did she already return more than she enjoyed? It would give a distraction surely. Offer her the opportunity to guide him and explain the area, people, and customs in greater detail. If he could still his tongue long enough it might help bolster her confidence. Build strength back into that which seemed scattered and broken at times. He pulled down another gulp of the dark bitter liquid from the tankard in hand; felt the warming affect linger a little longer. If he proposed this path, could he walk it to its end regardless of the outcome? What if it means I must hurt her to see her whole? Can I do that … again? The tankard stopped midway to his lips, his eyes flicking from the dark liquid to the woman that sat opposite him. He should be at her side supportive and building up, not across as her opponent trying to pull her down and tear open the wounds. Perhaps it was time to slow down on the ale, at least one of them should have a clear head in the morning and Lavinya seemed destine not to be that one. “How about a tour of your homeland? I have never actually been there you know. Read about parts of it, given some instruction in certain ways and customs, but for the most. I really know little of your history, home, and people.” The Tankard returned to the table next to his knee, hands folding lightly in his lap. It would be perfect, she would be happy, distracted, and confident in her surrounds. How could she not? No Asha’man to fret over, no pressing Tower business, no sister to save. Just her beloved homeland and a stranger to help see it in new eyes. All he needed to do was keep the player contained and the edge of his tongue sheathed. “It is not a long distance from here, and once on the road for a spell we could simply cease to be brother and sister. Traveling friends. A woman, or Aes Sedai eagerly on her way to show a friend the wonders of her homeland. Who could possibly question it.” An easy smile pulled the corners of his mouth, almost genuine in appearance; the player smiling internally. Green eyes glanced up through brown browses to regard her reaction to his choice with a hint of liveliness that had been distant for most of their travel.
  2. Trust … he had not missed her insinuation on his lack of trust. Perhaps that was not what she had meant, her parting words were simply a spoken answer to an unspoken question. Perhaps, but he couldn’t be sure. He couldn’t be sure of anything anymore it seemed. Trust a small word that carried the weight of Dragonmount itself. How could he simply accept, he had tried once and look where that landed him. Isolated, alienated and alone; no matter how hard he had tried to change what was already woven. Sirayn was gone, a furrow creasing his brow as he watched her surveying the jar. A simple damaged vessel; it’s purpose altered but not completely useless. Myself ….. damaged, but I can still be of use can I not? So many questions, always so many questions spun in his mind; never ceasing, never stopping. Muted when he slipped comfortably into the void. But they were never gone, only waiting for him to return so they could pounce once more like a ravenous lion attempting to consume him. A smile twitched his face again as he watched her make the final trip back to him. He had to give her credit, her determination was sound; strong even. She had persevered through the task, tried, failed, and worked through to find the answer. He shouldn’t have doubted; never truly did, though he did underestimate her shear will power. Something he should have expected from a full-fledged Aes Sedai. They earned their ring, it was not simply a gift from years of study. The fire that lite her eyes at times; hinted at mischief other times. All glimpses of the woman he had known once. What have they done to you? He mentally shook the question away as she set the jar down in front of him, the upper hole freely leaking the jars contents onto the ground under the lush grass; puddling around her feet. His eyes followed hers over her now sodden dress. A small sacrifice in the grander scheme of training and understanding; eyes flicking back to hers when he realized her hands had stopped picking at the fabric. Why could he not trust? Why fight it, why not give in as he had once before? The ogre grove slid across his mind, her dark eyes glittering in the moonlight alive with a smoldering heat. Feeling a warming at his neck he forced the thought away roughly. No, trust was a harsh task mistress that broke you, burned you, used you up and tossed you aside. She had trusted him once; look at the ruin he had brought on her for that trust. “Well done”, he offered her a small smile before his eyes dropped to the sword tip again. He had managed to keep most of the waver from his voice, light let her not catch it and read too far into its origin. “You ignored the distraction, found a solution, and maintained enough strength to complete the task. There are many parts that test and play in the task. But for this instance, my main concern was with your strength. Where your weaving cannot be your strength, where I am not able to be the shield, you must find a strength of will and body to overcome the fear and the foe.” How quickly will she dismiss you once she has the safety of the full guard again at her hands? The sigh that threatened to slip from his lips was swallowed as he fought to focus his mind back to a mentor. “You understand I do this to train you. To help ensure that”, his brow furrowed again briefly as he sought to understand this dream world. “That where a guard cannot be; where your talents can not help. There you will have your mind and the strength of training to compete in the dance.” A world not a world yet still dangerous enough to harm. How did one fight what one did not understand? Don’t try to solve the whole riddle and get lost in the weeds of unknown. Focus on what you know and let your training guide you past that which you do not. The words floated back to him from trainings past. At the time they had seemed insurmountable, but he had found the path and worked through as Lavinya had just done with his task for her. Surely, he could do it again with this new puzzle? Rising fluidly, he pushed the jar over on its side, sending the remaining water across some of the weapons on one side of the fan. “Time is not stopping, the wheel weaves unending and we still have more travel ahead of us. No doubt your maid will be bouncing from foot to foot if we are too much longer.” His gaze studied her; would thing have been different? If steps in the past had been one simple decision changed, would this all be different? Would the Creator and the wheel have woven a different pattern? What is done cannot be undone. The pattern woven cannot be changed. A resolution settled over him, his shoulders squaring up; voice slipping back to the cool detached tones of a teacher. I will return the weapons to those I have collected them from. Correction, I will return the dry weapons to those that I borrowed them from. You my dear sister will ensure all the weapons are properly dry.” Where will your maid send us today? Moreover, when will this façade end? He had a punishment to face back at the Tower sooner or later. Perhaps sooner was better, remove the rancid flesh before it killed the patient. They would take him back and he would be of use once more, or they would dispose of him by their hand or his own. But the Tower would put an end to this mess he had caused. “Once you are sure they are ready for me to return,” his eyes flicked to the large heavy double mooned battle axe; a smirk lighting his face. “You will see to it personally that the axe is taken back to Captain Mitya. Personally, mind you.” His gaze swung back to meet hers, an old delight twinkling at the edges. “Not your maid, not a farm boy, but you will deliver it to him, where every he can be found.” The man would be over seeing the preparations to depart and thus constantly moving about the small town and stable. A task that would no doubt keep her busy for a short while before she could settle into the comfort of her carriage. “I have preparations to make as well. Ensure these are ready when I return”, turning on his heel he began a quick walk back toward the Inn. OOC: Okay, you can decide on if you do take the axe back yourself or enlist assistance from someone. You can also decide if you are going to let him walk away or if you want to challenge anything he has stated or his dismissal. Ball is fully in your court. We should have enough here for your WS req.
  3. It was work to hold down the deep rumbling laughter that tried vainly to rise and claim him at her simple question. Why? How many mentee had thought that very same question a multitude of times in the past. Memories peculating to fulfill that same sense in his own past training. The short sighted need of the student to tie a neat and precise line between two dots that seemed randomly placed. More over how many had galled enough to voice it as she had; visions of more than a few extra exercise routines added to answer his own youthful questioning. Oh Lavinya, how fortunate you are of timings and positions. Had this been the yard; you other than that of a full and experienced sister of the tower .. his mind wandered to several tried and true methods he had silenced youthful questions with before. But they were of no use to him here and now. Though the thought of her barely able to draw breaths between dry heaves due to excessive running in the heat of a strong summer sun on hands and knees at the edge of the track did bring an additional measure of happiness. Why can I only feel this now? Why is this happiness and joy only here? What has happened to me? Confusion and questioning fluttered across his eyes; tightening them, and drawing his brows down slightly. They had been friends once, so much more than that. But it had unraveled like the pulled thread of good cotton; the pattern dissolving behind it. The steady tapping of the arrow tip like water drops on a tin roof pulled his mind back from it's wandering. His eyes flicked to the jar, a reminder of the task he had set her to and her waiting question. When they returned to her once more the brief confusion was gone and humor lit them once more. "Why," it was as if he was tasting the word, "why." Good, defiant to the very end. Mark that feeling and keep it close to you when night next descends. "How shall I answer my student I wonder?" The arrow tip continued to tap out its steady beat, "how shall I explain the complexity of simple lessons now and how they fit the greater picture when one can not even visualize that picture yet?" His head cantered to the side slightly while his gaze continued to hold hers; hold the defiance without challenging it out right or conceding to its need. "How does a sister explain the delicate weave of threads to a blind man? Explain the intricacies of each of the individual threads themselves before they are woven to a purpose that he still can not see?" You could not live in the Tower over time and not hear about their methods and teachings; even if one could barely understand what it was. A vague comprehension to a puzzle he could never touch but only trust; could see it's outcome if not it's form and method. "But you are wiser than most my sister, so to you I will attempt a glimpse at the picture to come." His eyes slowly swept across the array of weaponry between them. "To survive a battlefield; to live at the end of a dance of death. One needs many skills and a measure of luck. Only the Wheel can weave you the luck I'm afraid. But through discipline, hard work, practice, and guidance I can lead you through the steps that may allow you to live at the end of the dance," Light willing. "It is not simply to memorize the forms, to ingrain the movements in to the very fiber of your muscles. But you must also be able to focus, to maintain an unwavering focus of purpose and place. To know your move, your opponents move, and your counter. Not just at the moment, but several step beyond. To feel the rhythm of the dance; know it's cadence; adapt to the change coming before it is there. Know when to move quick and when to slow; when to press and when to feint." His eyes returned to her face and the study of the windows to her soul. Penetrating gaze trying to pull her thoughts into the open. "So it is with the jar," the arrow tip finally stopping it's unwavering cadence. "Yes, with your frame you will not be able to cover both holes with your hands and still carry the weight of the jar and the water. Equally so, the water will bleed out more than a hand span if both are left to free flow, most likely even if one is left to free flow. Just as the very life blood of your body would bleed out if cut and left unattended." He lowered the arrow tip to the ground and leaned his chin upon his hands holding the fletchings. "Speed by itself is not enough; strength by itself is not enough. Only the mind and the training can create the solution that will allow you to live at the end of the dance. Only the mind and the training will allow you to complete the task. Your opponent will not give you a measure of ease or respite; equally I can not if I am to train you to survive." His shoulders lifted slightly as the grin re-bloomed on his face. "Perhaps my sister knows this dance far better than her brother who has studied it, lived it, breathed it, and survived it?" His voice growing softer until only a stretching silence lay between them before focus moved back to study the sword tip it had earlier. "Or perhaps she would like to learn another way to be strong and survive that which most can not understand; that I can not understand."
  4. A hint of glee; the teasing twinkle of light off a perfectly cut facet of a stone the same color as her gown met the smoldering defiant fire in a mirror of Ayende’s coat. Her words like the sweet thick golden nectar of honey dripping from a freshly removed comb combined with an undertone of defiance adding a childlike rebellion to the flow of her words. It was a refreshing hint of normalcy after what felt an eternity of darkness and loss. How many times had he found the simple pleasure in the frustration and feint sarcasm of a trainee under his guidance? How long had it been since he last took someone under his wing and worked to teach them that which may keep their thread a little longer in the pattern? He had been the student for a life time; would continue to be if he was to survive. Somehow the education had turned, he had let himself get to close, too attached. A fatal flaw; yet the challenge was the same. The pieces had changed slightly; their roles warped. But the underlying commonality was the same. Did that mean the same fate awaited in the shadows? NO! It mustn’t … I can’t let it. He held her gaze a moment longer; different options to break the defiance floating across thought. How different things could be if she were simply a trainee. But she was Aes Sedai; strong willed and defiant to the end. There could be no other option for her and still be who she was. This one he would have to be careful; was already exceedingly so. He could not break her; would not. But there was no reason some added humility could not be gained from the experience. The smile that pulled on one side of his mouth a faint reflection of the strange joy he seemed to feel at that. Pointedly he let his eyes slowly travel down her frame, “not the most practical attire for this sis. I will have to assume you have others,” until they swept from her feet to the bow once more. The outfit was befitting her cover if it could be considered a cover. The hug of the fabric easily drawing a picture for the mind of what it held beneath. Far more than that to which he had met her in the garden; matched a time that had been like the life of a candle flame. A flare of heat and illumination like nothing he had known and then snuffed from existence. A sensation, one of many he had refused life from the grove touched his mind; hand sliding across his leg unwittingly before he stilled it on his knee. A time lost; A weaving of the past, he reminded himself. “You may collect the bow again. But no arrow. Sight at the post, pull and hold”. Slipping the polearm from his lap he collected the arrow once more while he waited for her to complete the commands he had given. A simple command from a mentor to a mentee; yet there was little doubt he expected it to be followed. Reaching out he set the jar on its side and began to spin the arrow head against the jars side as one would when attempting to light a fire. “Keep your focus, eyes on the target. No matter what distractions happen around you, you must maintain your focus.” Corin’s eyes never seemed to leave from his work on the jar. Time as a trainer had shown him many of the common mistakes and weaknesses that most suffered from. “Hold your arm in place, use it to keep the aim. Note the light bounce in time to the beat of your heart.” He blew the debris away lightly and then rotated the jar. “Do not grip the bow as if choking the life from it. Hold it firm yet light,” the arrow once more twirling on the jars surface. “The shot may not readily be available at first. Patience is the key,” the arrow tip paused momentarily as the fletching was used to tap her elbow. “No drooping, keep your frame firm.” He returned to his task and left her to hold the form. Blowing out the debris again he sat back checking his work. He would have to reimburse the owner. But it was a small price to pay and a convenient training aid considering. Looking back up at his new mentee he let the smile return to his face fully as he waited for her failing strength to end or her pride to break the form before her strength did. Is it just the familiar feeling of training another or is there something about her specific that warms you finally? Another piece of puzzle he would work over in time. “Hmmm ..” his gaze measured her character once more when the bow finally dropped to her waist; held her gaze as he attempted to work out how far he could push her. Stretch, but do not break. Must not allow more damage to be done. Bruise the pride, but do not weaken the spirit. “Good … A good start, but much work still to be done.” The arrow tip bounced lightly on the jar, “you may return the bow to its place in the fan. We will not work it more today.” The smile on his face extending as he waited for her to complete the task. Something had to be done about those dresses. Unfortunately, until the need for the charade reached a completion there was little chance that would happen. Unseen a chill raced its light fingers down his spine. What if she deems the need to continue until they return to the Tower? A puzzle piece he did not want to dwell on. “Seems we have a small issue sis. Weapons are tools and as such we need to look after them regularly. A broken tool is of no use to anyone,” as I am. How can you not cast me aside? You keep the pity from your eyes, but you are Aes Sedai and trained deeply in that discipline. The smile fading in strength; voice broaching at the confusion internal. His eyes dropped to the jar studying it a moment in memory of where his thoughts had been going originally. Noting the small hole near the bottom and the other a quarter turn away and half way up drew remembrance and the smile reaffirmed in place. “Your water jar is empty dear sis. Empty does not clean. Fill it and return to me here.” The smile growing as his eyes met hers once more, “loose no more than a hand span of water from the jar or you will repeat it until you can.” Corin could sense the building pressure in Lavinya, anyone would be able to see that, note the way her frame straightened to full height again. “Off with you now, we still must travel yet today,” the arrow tip still bouncing lightly on the jar.
  5. There was no pretense between them, the very walls of the room could feel the held breath after the willowy girl slipped from the room; could see the open study the combatants shared. Each looking for indications of where the other’s thoughts were headed. Corin’s fingers idly thrummed on the handle of the tankard that had been refilled before him. His gaze remained on the Lavinya, drinking in every twitch and movement of her face and eyes. Sometimes the game was subtle; a hint of morning mist still clinging to the cool canopy of the nearby trees after the sun’s rays had erased it’s view from the streams surface. This was not one of those times, the players fully aware that each in their own way were seeking the strategy of the other and not willing to give over their own thoughts readily. No board lay between them yet both pondered the movement of their pieces with great care; not wanting to find themselves cornered and trapped. The study re-enforced a theme that had been building shortly after they had left on this journey. Looking back, some of the signs were there in the Tower. Only his eyes had not been open, his mind not attentive to the nuances. Lavinya had changed. They seemed subtle at first, yet the more they had been together on this journey the more he noticed it. Drawn out pauses and silence could be useful tools to a player of The Great Game. But these where different; subtle flicks of the eyes, inward focus or perhaps avoidance; the almost inconspicuous draw of brow at times. These were not traits he would have assigned to Lavinya when he had known here before the pattern warped their treads; sending them on different paths. The biggest of the new tells was the way she worried at her lower lip; also the hardest to witness. His mind even now wanting to wander to warmer softer thoughts lead by the light scent that permeated the room. Finally a decision seemed to solidify in her; an Aes Sedai like mantle settling over her as she drew herself up and played her piece. Hmmm …. What do I suggest we do, an interesting play indeed. The obvious choice would be to return to the Tower and hand him back over to the Commander of the guard. With her report they would either keep him or … the thought caught him off guard; fingers stopping their idle thrumming. What would she report? He was trying to train her, had watched over her even to the degree of standing watch in her room. It could not be reasoned he was derelict in ensuring her protection as he was duty bound. But what of their arguments; his changing moods and cool exterior? Perhaps not the most congenial of the guards. But certainly not a draw back. He was sure he had seen worse in some of those chosen as Warder to a sister. No, not a large black mark against him; a small smudge perhaps. But what of her affiliation; perhaps stronger than a simple affiliation to the charge he lost. Was never yours in the first place, do you so quickly forget that poignant point of view as stated by those thunderous detached eyes? Revenge was a bitter dish best served cold. Would she seize that opportunity to finally complete Sirayn’s final smite of the pupil that thought too high of himself? Realization of his wandering thoughts pulled back his mental focus to eyes that had remained on Lavinya. Foolish!! You are no better then her; She taught you better than this. The tankard was pulled from the table; would she be happy to be rid of him finally; the dark bitter substance a reminder of a colder version of the treachery he had proven capable of. Could he blame her; either of them for wanting his hide stripped from his body and tanned on the rack. Yet the choice had been given to him as to their next move. Choice … or trap? He pulled deep on the tankard contents allowing the bitter fluid to burn it’s way to his stomach; the distraction easing the unconscious clench of his jaw. She had not answered the second part of his question. Sister or not sister, an interesting piece to keep in the wing for later flight. Her home of history was in relative travel distance from here. He did not know if she still owned any holding there, but it would be an interesting respite to see how she conducted herself among what at once had been familiar. To see her relaxed and restored to the strong and mischievous image he held from the past. How different it was back then, mischievous and taunting in the garden when they first met; playing off each other at the expense of the White sister that joined them. Or was she Blue .... no, too cool and logical in her conversation and actions ... definitely a white. So many memories of a better time; the armory ... a mixed blessing and curse was that. Many emotions tied to such a simple purposed building, yet none related to the true purpose of the building. Setting the empty tankard on the table before him he studied his food briefly, pushing it around experimentally with the fork. There was nothing particularly wrong with the food; probably better then they would eat once on the trail again if they were to avoid centers. The idea drawing a puzzling thought as he began to consume the plates offering; silence stretching out between them. If they were not going to follow Saline then presumably they would also not want to return to the same villages and towns they had passed in their voyage thus far. Another puzzle to an unsolved riddle; a riddle that would need clarity before they were to venture off. The light scent of her hair lingered in the air and worked to draw additional memories from the past. Playful meetings that left him wondering if she had placed a weave on his mind to addle his thoughts; the boldness of their meetings when he was sure the spider watched from above and recorded his every fault and weakness. Perhaps that was all part of it. Perhaps she was more than an associate; a pet at her masters bidding. A task to see a foolish guard ensnared and brought firmly and decisively under foot and into line. Could that have been her actual motive back then; their budding relationship merely a ruse to ensure his loyalty and bind a millstone to his neck; Sirayn's collar? No .. he had seen the hurt in her eyes when he had turned her down. No there had to have been more than just the trap. It had to have been more than just Sirayn's bidding ... the cold chill that ran his back as a new thought emerged stilled his fork; eyes flicking back to her own. Was she still operating under past orders. To keep the boy under foot and bleed the will to live from him slowly. A trap dressed in finery and smelling lightly of flowers; who would suspect a broken Aes Sedai? Who would question the motives of a sister offering to save a lost tool of the Tower? No one, no one would believe it, and why should they? Oh she had played her part better than the finest of Gleeman tales if it were indeed true. But how to know, how to trip the trap without getting caught. "I would assume we would be returning to Tar Valon if we are no longer needed. I am sure you have other pressing issues to attend to; once you make your report to the Commander that is." He hoisted the tankard as if toasting to Lavinya before tipping it back briefly and realizing it was empty. His eyes focused on the empty bottom did not, for the first time since the game began in the room, take in her reaction to his choice. With a resided sigh he placed the tankard back on the table eyes flicking once more to his 'sister', "unless there is another reason we should not return?"
  6. He Studied her face as her eyes closed and denied him one key element he used to gauge a person. Her words washed over him; eyes searching for signs of deeper meaning or deflection in the way she held her face, the even tone of her voice. But nothing was offered to him save her instruction and almost trance like retelling of the discipline. A rose; thorny barbs meant to piece the skin of the unsuspecting and bring pain to the careless. Red delicate petals similar to that of her words began to form in his mind but were swept away before they could take complete shape. How ironic that which would be taught to them in the Tower, also represented his failure with Lavinya. But as her eyes opened and dropped quickly to her lap, a brief betrayed of some inner though slide over her lips and then disappeared. Too little words, too little reaction, too little emotion. Something was there but her revealed clues to few to grant it any light, only questions. His chuckle was devoid of humor, a colder offering against the brilliance of the sun. "Different ..." his eyes fell from her face to the haft across his lap. The worn and rubbed surface solid and strong, the void. "It's similarity ended at it's purpose for focused clarity. I think what you describe is another that is sometimes taught." The edge faded away like the slow dissipation of morning fog. "A discipline I am not overtly familiar with. Like all it draws on emotions, thoughts; memories. In a way like your teaching. To draw the emotion in pack it down and gain strength and focus from it." A cynical note in his voice licking at the edges near the end. "But mine is not that, no mine is different. It holds a depth I have not yet reached. The master who taught me held such control of focus and awareness as I have not seen in my years since." A twinge of awe floated among the words as his mind replayed some of the teachings; dwelt briefly on the wonders he had introduce Corin to. His eyes flicked up to his new mentee and then to the sword tip gleaming between them. A place of peace and refuge had become a place to hide away from the world and the wheels weaving's if just for a time. A friend, lonely, isolated, and dark. But a friend who had seen him through thus far; would see him through to the end, what ever end that is. Drawing in a breath he let himself slide the cloak on, feel the regularity of the separation; eyes that stared at the glinting point become devoid of emotion. "Picture a candle; it's wax firm and wick proud." He released the breath slowly and felt the comfortable abyss settle around him. "A flame, it's soft light pushing back the darkness, offering warmth and comfort. Sense it, draw it to you." There was no thought to this part of the teaching, it had just become; rolled out on it's own; voice barren and distant. "Let your mind drift in the light, welcome the feelings and thoughts that follow you. Like pictures, frame them, hold them, become at piece with them. Now feed them to the flame," his hands became loose a light grip upon the haft; eyes still empty focus on the tip. "Watch them curl in the flame as it licks it's way across feeding on the memory leaving smoke and ash in it's wake." The image of family both old of blood and new of friendship birthed from work in the yard floated to him, wrapped around him and then obediently slipped into the flame as it had countless times before. He did not need the steps to find the void, but to teach it he would walk the path with his mentee. "Don't fight the thoughts and memories, accept all that comes to you and feed the flame. Friends," Rosheen and her wild mohawk filtered across; mocking laughter on her face before the flame consumed it. "Memories," lighting flashing in the high window of the armory as the spider moved across the floor; scene slowly twisting to smoke. "All that you are," the ceremony; his cloak given for the first time. "All that you may be," colors shifted in an eye jarring way as the cloak moved in the breeze. "Now," drawing in a deep breath, "blow the flame out." He blew the air out of his lungs thought it was not needed. The teachers way to help a new mentee to visualize and bind the action to their mind. "With the flame out feel the darkness, sense the smoke still snaking up from the blacked wick. The air around it, around you a glass window. The souls window to look out." He never taught a mentee from deep in the void, only at the surface as he lead them through the process. Helping them find the path to walk and encouraging their steps. But here and now was not the yard, she was not a wide eyed mentee seeking the glory of the Tower Guard or the cloak of a Warder. His heart twisted on the glass surface twitching to draw his attention back and he pushed it away. Now was not the time. "See the wicks dark tip, focus on the tip. Feed your thoughts and emotions into it, press them to the darkness." His voice was soft, the whisper of death over a shoulder unseen, disdain beginning to touch it. "Your hopes", the rose emblazon dagger placed in his out stretched hand. "Your weaknesses," a vision of a fountain, the light twinkle of genuine laughter. "Your ...," the whisper cut off as his tongue refused to give the last word life; Love. The cabin; the grove. Two places, two purposes, two women, two losses. The images swelled in the tight confines of the glass dome around him; thin cracks snaking out over the surface like the tendrils of smoke that had floated over the wick. The pressure threatened to consume him as he held the raw unhealed edges of the images; the feelings. Refused them entrance to his heart and refused to dispatch them. The battle raged within for control, demanded he feel; to be human again. His frame remained solid, breathing even and meditative, hands lightly balanced on the haft, grip sure. His body knew the void, knew the comfortable feel of the weapons grasp from ingrained training. But even the emptiness that held his eyes could not deny the glassy coating of a threatened tear until he thrust the emotions into the darkness of the wick violently. Force it all into the dark; the dome settling firmly, comfortably, and numbly into place. Peace, where are you my lost companion? He dwelled on the thought for a short span, distantly felt the sun on skin his own yet not of his presence. Sensed eyes that watch him, but did not touch him here in the center. Life, must it be this way for all of the weave? Reluctantly he let the numbness recede, filtering back to the fighting surface of the void; awareness of himself, the movement of the air on his skin, the soft scent of the woman opposite him. "All thought and emotion is consumed by the flame", his voice returning to emptiness. "Then the mentee is taught to transition to the darkness of the wick's center and deeper still into the emptiness of the void. From here, separated from the distraction of emotion they can focus, fight, and live." Or die and find it eternal. His eyes flicked to find hers and held them pinned; searched the confusion within. Then returned to the half in his lap as he slipped off the cloak once more and accepted the rush of emotion; grip tightening briefly before releasing the half an folding in his lap once more. "So yes ... different I would say." He noded as if to confirm to himself before meeting her gaze; trying to keep the surge of denied feelings from lingering in his own. "But we are here to help you learn to defend yourself with out the ...." So many ears to hear where one would expect none to care, he reminded himself. "With out unseen luck. To do that you must gain a measure of skill with that which hands have made." His eyes trailed off down the alley to a water jar two buildings away. "I think to complete the next part we will need something else." A ghost of a smile played teasingly at the corners of his mouth when his eyes met her's next. "Sis, I think we will need that water Jar over there if we are to continue properly. If you would be so kind as to fetch that and return it to me here we can continue." He enjoyed the struggle that must be ensuing inside her. But when she opened her mouth he simple held up one finger to stall any comment she might have. "The student must do without argument or refusal if they are to learn. They must trust the one who teaches if they are to survive. Surely it is the same in the women's great circle when they teach?" He quirked an eyebrow before tipping the held finger to point toward the jar.
  7. Sunshine, like a collection of diamonds dancing over a babbling brook glinted off the edge, danced with the point. Ribbon Of Air; tip bouncing in light controlled flicks as it crossed in front of him. His breath flowing with the movement of his body though Cat Crosses The Courtyard. An empty comfort wrapped him lake a familiar and cherished blanket. The memory of another blanket pulled tight around the frail and isolated woman passing briefly though memory, sliding over the unseen glass of separation in his mind. How to protect, the thought a faint whisper from the depths. His movement turned, The Swallow Takes Flight; brought a bar of sun shine sliding over the swords blade as it flowed from left hip toward right shoulder. The sun’s reflection played off the emerald of his eyes; glinted with intensity in the lack of emotion that touched them. Peace, it flowed through him. A mirror of the smooth motion that made the blade an extension of his arm; his body fluid like water as it shifted between motions. The Swallow Takes Flight in mid rise reversed sharply into the quick slash of Lizard In The Thornbrush it’s bottom sweeping out to the right as he pivoted; sinking to one knee; arm outstretched and parallel to the ground over his right hip. Troubled earthen eyes; not the chestnut of Lavinya, wandered across the surface inwardly intent yet lost. Mystery, a sensation of confusion following their passage over the smooth surface and passing back into the darkness beyond his inner sanctuary. The tip bounced a slight staccato beat to match that of his elevated pulse; muscle chewing through the oxygen fuel provided from the quicken pace of his breathing; a ghosting of the sun reflected off it dancing in time along his cheek. Twin orbs of steel; emotionless, sharp and cunning; radiating with life materialized on the surface and threatened to enter his peace. Intense in focus, demanding a measure of him; Loss. He let them linger long than he should; attention starting to slip inward; focus shifting, a tremor beginning to build slightly in his arm. The tight edges of the dancing ghost upon his cheek beginning to blur lightly before he regained the measure of control slipped. Thrust the orbs into the dark center and watched them fade away into the black wick. He needed this time to center himself; to find a scrap of clarity after two nights of confused emotions. Worn and cracked poles running between the posts of the corral fence before him sagged slightly under the load they held; flexed but inner strength held them strong. Worn on the outside, weathered with the passage of time and the abuse of the sun. His beguiled belief in youth at the vision of a Warder. The stoic comrade and shield to a woman capable of wielding Saidar; the peoples hope of protection and life when the Great Battle returned. He saw that same awe in the twinkling myriad of color that dotted the fence. Saw it in the eyes of the farmers children as they watched him flow through the motions. Felt it in the small gasps and radiated tension that vibrated their bodies as they watched him work through the forms. Each drilled into him in the dust and dirt of the yard, driven in to the memory of his muscles from repetitive cycles; the quick snap of lathe correcting misplacement and wrong step. All under the ever-present shadow of the shining Towers; the seeking and measuring eyes of the women who scurried their halls. Storm gray began to form on the glassy surface and he forced it back away. Peace, he sought it; found it briefly here in the void while his body moved through routine; a second nature. The sun on his outstretched hand was like a liquid warmth that surrounded it; the matched sensation of blood as it coated the warriors hand. How many matching eyes like those that dotted the fence swam in the salty sea of tears lost when they found out that their father or mother was never coming home. How many of them silently stared their questions at him? A burning ache battered at the fragile glass surface; threatened to shatter it like the delicate porcelain of sea folk cups. His muscles screamed at him, their capabilities to hold the form wavering. How long had he lost himself to contemplation? The tremor carried through what should have been a liquid smooth rise, wrist rolling the edge gently in time with the tips arc as it passed over foot and back around to the center. Balance, at one time he falsely believed he knew what that was. Believed he held it in the protective and sanitary walls of the yard. A falseness the Creator had shown light on when he had pulled Sirayn’s thread from the pattern; twisted Lavinya’s thread with his own and shattered the firm ground he had stood on. Lessons, Reiken, Rosheen, Orion. All floated gently over the surface of the void; awareness and understanding but separated from attachment. They had worked to guide him, train him, mentor him; each in their own way and fashion. There had been many over the years. But among them, these he returned to in memory, bantered with internally as he had in person. Where has the pattern placed you now? An inner grimace flexed the void briefly as muscle and joints were forced to motion once more. The movement outwardly neat and flowing as the sword dipped, rotated, and slipped comfortably back into the darkness of it’s scabbard. Sacrifice, sheathing the sword. A final form, one breath above desperation. There was a time where Corin could not imagine the need for such a movement. The need to sacrifice one’s self and draw the enemies blade into his own flesh in order to strike the killing blow to save another. He had understood the principal Reikan had taught, had sought for him to understand. Then his world had changed; shifted and turned on it’s head. There, in the loss and darkness that lay heavy on his brow he had almost sought it recklessly without cause. He had danced around it’s center but could not take the final step forward to meet it’s need; always something held that final step from completion. The Creator not yet finished with his thread in the wheel’s weavings. Peace, the elusive foe he could not catch. Here in the void he found a measure of it’s comfort. A false empty reflection of it’s true richness. The emptiness a hollow and lonely substitute for it’s true embrace. The breeze shifted slightly and brought forth a hint of familiarity in a teasing light floral scent, there and yet not, in it’s passing. Scars, with a bond he could have pointed straight to her location without looking. But they were not; he had denied her then. Watched the tremendous pain surge through her eyes before she contained it. The Aes Sedia mask falling neatly in place to hide her true emotions, but they had been there; brief and raw. Yet now he could sense her gaze upon him from somewhere near the barn. In the voids embrace and isolation; could pickup the hint of scent in the passing air. One day would he would reach the levels of the masters of this discipline? The thought passing quickly beyond focus as he released the held breath. Trial, it was time to face her again. A tentative truce struggled to hold life between them. She had come to him in the night; another dream forcing her upright. She wanted no questions, just the safety and warmth of knowing she was not alone. Not him, he only caused pain to those near him. No, certainly not him by choice. Convenient familiarity perhaps, but not him; not what had been. Peace, his hand closed involuntarily, the ghost of her fingers laced between his own. How was he to find it? There was little interaction between the two beyond common curtsies, but at least he could offer her a genuine smile, if small, and meet her eyes. They were small steps, which meant progress as the flair of emotion and tension that often burst between them remained absent. For most of the morning he had followed directly behind the carriage on Ayende the puzzles still at work in his head. But his spirit lighter than it had been; had approached at times during their training. The purpose of the sisters they sought played in the corner of his mind. Too many pieces missing for him to put the picture together. Saline was driven by their disappearance. Not just a search for sisters-in-arms. No, the way she poured over notes last night when she thought no one looking made it appear personal. The incessant need to drive forward through secrecy and half truths cemented the belief. Who is it you seek? You are driving us to the foot step of the Father of Lies. What do they mean to you Saline? By mid day he had unconsciously moved back to the side of the carriage once more. The faithful pup returned to it’s masters heel. His mind working the puzzles in his head while his eyes swept a constant watch but did not fully take in the surroundings. Too relaxed he had become on the Red Guard’s vigilance to keep them safe. The jab of realization inching tension back into his shoulders as he became more aware of the road they traveled. The Aes Sedai had brought him to ensure their safety, not to play at puzzles. But their calling was so strong and comforting; a bargain internally struck. Saline’s puzzle remained for his mind to toil at while his greater focus remained with their present passage. It was mid afternoon when the party finally rolled in to the village of Katar and came to a stop in front of another small Inn. Captain Mitya and his men secured the lodging and began the unloading of trunks and bags. With Ayende secured to the post and the other activities underway he was left with one task to complete. Opening the door, he had offered his sister his hand and a bright smile only a hint of strain flattening the ends. “Come sis, it is not what you are used to. But the good captain has made the best effort he could I am sure.” The smile dropping to a scowl as the eyed the man briefly. People had pasted while Lavinya stepped out; eyes following her moves and whispers following the passing people. By the twinkle in Mitya’s eyes he was sure the man had planned the whole thing. Forced to the front he played his part of the charade for the eyes of the village. The puzzle spun again; mind searching for more pieces while he assisted her maid from the carriage and distractedly fell in behind them as if in the tower escorting the Aes Sedai they were.
  8. Slowly the tension that sat in tightly coiled knots began to ease in his shoulders while his hands worked the brushes over Ayende’s chestnut hair. Ayende’s flank twitched with the pass of the brush, but the stallion seemed content to receive the added attention. Normally he would give Ayende a brush down at the end of the day, but this morning he needed the distraction. A task he could mindlessly go about to help settle the calm he had been floating in and out of all morning. The training had gone better than he had expected; their interactions at least had. He had expected Sirayn would have imparted something of her battle-hardened preparation into the other agent of her influence and now holder of his leash. Innuendos floated to his ears from behind the carriage and threatened to set his face aflame once more. As he had feared, the nights activities had been fully imagined; if only invented in their minds and they had quite happily taken to expounding on it anytime they felt he might be within ear shot. His inability to control certain images that floated up from their wild beliefs and touched his face only seemed to egg them on even more. It was ridiculous and intensely frustrating, Corin knew control better than this; should have, had in the past. What in the light is wrong with you man? Biting down on the inside of his cheek he quelled the image and the flush that was headed to his cheeks before it could form more than a faint hint briefly passing. He had tried to talk to Captain Mitya about the inappropriateness of the conversations in presence of the “ladies” and had only received a knowing wink and deep chuckle before he turn and headed back to look over the preparations. One way or another he had to either quell the men or burn him, gain control of his emotions. If that meant the rest of the trip in the void so be it. He owed his leash keeper nothing more than protection and strategic guidance where their lives were concerned; the thought ripping at an old wound. Yet the brushes paused briefly as he sensed eyes that matched Ayende’s coat prick his back. She was near the carriage, he had seen that earlier, awaiting Saline Sedai to appear. But he was sure she watched him; even if it was only in his own mind. Great, first an Aes Sedai that seemes to have a tentative hold on reality and now my own mind has gone jumping at shadows … the thought broken off as both Corin and Ayende tensed slightly at the distant clap of thunder. Grey disembodied eyes passing over his vision briefly threatening to bring his mood in line with the coming weather. He had thought to lose himself in the care of Ayende but it appeared the pattern and Sirayn were not done with his punishment yet. As if on queue Lavinya’s lilting voice carried in the reverberations wake. Light and playful she filled the men’s minds with reassurance to their thoughts at her command of assistance, adding to his shame before returning to the what he had hope to be a respite. Ayende nuzzled his closed hand insistently seeking the carrot he held. “Yes yes, patience Ayende. A treat to eagerly sought only works to bind you later”, his voice a soft whisper for the animal before him. He patted the stallions nose affectionately before bending his head to rest against the horse’s broad forehead. “You and I are not so different my friend. We both follow the lead of another out of duty and bite at the bit when the direction is wrong; longing for a simpler time, a life away from the games.” The player internal chuckled at his words, he knew deep down he could not walk away from the drug that Sirayn had introduced him to. Glancing to the horizon and the impeding storm Corin released the new pent-up tension in a sigh of resignation before meeting with Mitya for an update on their destination and any news the two Aes Sedai had decided to share with the mere men that worked to keep them safe. In hindsight it was his own fault for missing the conversation with the Aes Sedai when the information on Katar was released. There was little chance he would have been able to change the mind of the little Red, regardless of how bad he might have wanted to shake some very needed sense into her. What a picture that would have been, dark unruly hair whipping around as it chased her head. Would Lavinya come to his aid when the diminutive Red metered out a firm reminder of his place and her station, or would she just sit back with a twinkle in her eye and watch; thought the education overdue. Truly it didn’t matter, he was not capable of such mutiny of rank and structure; was he? He offered a brief prayer to the Creator that the light send he was not so far gone. They still traveled toward the blight; toward a possible release from the torment and confusion that clouded his mind and edged his mood. Was it he who continued to bring out the worse in Lavinya? His eyes cut a quick glance to the carriage as it swayed its way down the road; the contents more precious than the façade at play over it. Between the drizzling rain that had eventually soaked through his clothes and the heavy gray clouds above reflecting his mood, Corin could take the itch between his shoulder blades no longer. The curtain had remained closed since the rain had come. At least each time he had looked over it was. But he could not shake the feeling she still watched him. Why? Was it the way training had gone? He moved to the front of their column across from Mitya and sent a guard back to sit the space next to the carriage. Let her look at someone else for a span, worry over a different man. The thought struck foreign and pulled at the edges of reason. Why would he care if she worried on another man? He had no claim to her, no right to care for who her eyes followed or who she tied herself to. So why did she seem tied to him? He had brought her nothing but ruin since they had met. Ruined her, denied her, even ran from her. Was it all simply to see him tortured and her own personal gratification at his misery? At times their arguments seem to re-enforce that idea. Yet other times, like in the training that morning, there was something different; something that hinted at the past. “Do be the end of a warrior when the mind do be not on the task”, the deep ruble from beside him drew him back from internal conflict. He had spoken little of things not related to the journey and that of the men’s readiness with Captain Mitya, certainly not anything related to Lavinya and himself personally. So, the comment must have been a warriors’ observation of another. “Aye, that it is,” and welcomed the end would be, “sometimes it is those that know better that fall the easiest to distraction.” He turned and offered the man a humorless smile that never touched his cheeks. “But then I have you and your men to protect my sister and her maid should I not see the inevitable coming.” The knowing nod from the man; his eyes still on the trail before them dropped the fake smile from Corin’s face and brought memories of Reikan back. “Youth do be eager to meet a glorious end in battle. I do think it be a great waste to see their blood be soaked into soil for the sake be of some glorious thought. It do be the wise man I thinks that can see the difference of what be needed and when in regards be it of duty and sacrifice.” The words true meaning was not lost on Corin. Deep down he knew the soundness of them and how wrong his path was. What had happened to that eager boy who had joined the Tower with a purpose? He had done well in his trainings and earned the eyes of Aes Sedai. His mentor had been proud of him, a promising career ahead of him; a good tool for the Tower and the side of Light. Where had he gone wrong? When had he let the darkness in and now paid for it in eternal torment? Was it the meet in the armory, his ceremony, the chance encounter at the well? Perhaps it was the devastation he caused so readily. The weakness at the grove, the bitterness of the cabin, the betrayal of trust. Captain Mitya’s eyes scanned the dark gray clouds over head, “do only be a fool who do step into the snare of a woman. Be it especially with Aes Sedai.” With his thoughts spoken Captain Mitya heeled his horse into a light gallop to catch the front scout. They would be stopping soon for a quick bite and a chance for the women to stretch their legs; a chance for Lavinya and Corin to find civility or barely controlled anger. Which, he was not sure and that concerned him more than the weather or the possibility of strangers on the trail with dark intents. What happened to us …. to me …. to SIrayn? Absent-mindedly his hand brushed one of the saddle bags on Ayende his mind pondering the brief cryptic message inside. What do I do about you my dear Lavinya … about us? What game are you about? How easier the question might have been had he said yes back then. Bonded he would have been able to feel where she skirted the truth and held back her secrets. The double edge of a sharp battle sword was the bond, she would also know when he withheld and redirected to hide his secrets. Better to work the game as it was and hold tight the cards dealt. OOC: and we are away on the trail ... have fun you two!! But not too much.
  9. Heart and breath in unison stopped for a fraction of a second, like the bodies reaction when plunged through the ice of a frozen lake and enveloped in the frigid water. The word, a single solitary word; two simple letters, carried the weight and commandment of the Dragon himself. Even with the strained note it carried he knew it was Lavinya’s voice that had brought the word to life and stilled all movement in him. A strain that should never have come from an Aes Sedai of her stature and yet more than twice this very night it had been there. His head snapped around to meet her gaze with a speed that surprised him, gaze seeking assurance it was not a nightmare but reality that he still walked. A brief hope that he indeed was dreaming and this was not truly happening was crushed like a candle flame between finger and thumb. The vision that met his eyes, her out stretched hand; the look on her face. The wounds on his heart that he had once hoped repaired and buried rent anew and threatened to crumble the very foundation his walls had been erected on. The simple word again, no more than a whisper this time. What right did he have to have a thread even exist still in the pattern of the wheels weaving if he had caused her this much shame? Her eyes mercifully slide away before the tremor broke free and grasped his form; his self-reproach commanding he correct the injustice he had caused in her past. She was an Aes Sedai and sister of the grey, she did not deserve the torment and failure he brought to her; laid like a vial and feted shroud upon her head and shoulders. He watched her fingers toy with the space where her badge of honor, the great ring, would normally sit. A subtle reminder of who she was and how far above him she was stationed. There had been a murmur of words from her, lost from his focus as he grappled with the stain inside. A battle quickly forgotten as her chin rose and the fortitude in her eyes pierced him. He sought to play back her words he had lost focus on; pull from the depths some trace of information that might set to light the sudden change. Fool, she knows her place and demands you remember yours. Is it really that hard for you? At one time it had been easy … a time that had costed so very much. A touch of pleasure paid for in pain and torment. Metered out slowly as lives were ruined and threads were woven out of the pattern. His weakness had bearing on that lost. He was not foolish enough to believe that his actions solely had pivoted this part of the pattern to disaster and rags, but he had certainly been involved in it. Why would she just not finish the task the Tower should have done when he had run off, deserted them all for his own person belief. The wallowing pity cut short as the game player shook him back out of his internal focus. Her voice had changed, the threatening edge wrapped around the soft words like that of the lights reflection he had watched dance on the blade at the beginning of this night. She would have her revenge, her voice promised it with the softness of a kiss and the sharpness of blade slowly slipped between the ribs. Would those deep earthen eyes dance with delight if the ribs were his? A chill raced his spine as he realized we was not entirely convinced they were not. The invitation to stay, it had been and invitation; a request, not a demand. An invitation to remain in the room, though her eyes had clearly marked the Red sisters bed on the other side of the room. He was not to get any foolish idea’s that their past and that of the Red Guard’s less than inconspicuous suggestions be given any life in his mind. There was another snare that awaited him on the other side of the simple wooden door that sealed the room from the hall. What ideas had floated around in the drunken stupor of the guards? He had been in her room all night, sometimes their conversation was heated and loud, sometimes soft. How much had they heard and how much had they let their mind fill in? Lavinya herself had not helped any regarding the visions that played in their minds with the way she had been carrying on during their travels either. Slowly and deliberate he made his way to Saline’s bed and sat down lightly on the edge, using the time to try and focus his thoughts once more. He could still be the sword and shield for her on this trip, protect her the way he was supposed to; as a Tower trained guard. His eyes looked up to meet hers, but for once there was no seeking focus. “Lavinya … Sedai”, he let his gaze wander to the window as if inspecting the surface or perhaps the darkness beyond. Morning would be soon upon them and he had done little to ensure her rest, “you still need more rest.” A neutral expression flicked back to meet her gaze, “if it so pleases you. I will remain until mornings sun paints the horizon.” Her authoritative words on sleep being her own concern played back in his mind briefly. Force and confrontation had done nothing to help that matter so perhaps a more congenial and respectful guard could. “But as your guard you will understand if I sit here and watch over you rather than sleep.” If she had thought to voice an objection she did well to keep it from showing while they looked across the room at each other, a tentative truce lingering in the room. Cutting his focus back to the enveloping darkness outside with its slight graying at the horizons edge, Corin became keenly aware of the comfort the darkness afforded him when it was metered out in the void. The place where he could flow through chaos around him and still hold focus on the need of the moment without the attachment of the moment. He fought to keep from glancing across the room when he heard Lavinya settle into her bed. There was plenty of time to deal with that past. That was a trap best not sprung yet. After a time, her breathing settled into a steady relaxed rhythm and the softness drew him once more to glance over her form. An ache he did not deserve set heavily in his chest and he used it to remind himself of a pain he could not let happen again to her. A tool, I am a tool and a shield, but could he be her shield? Ruthlessly he crushed the thought, scowling back at the sky twinging with red and orange hues. Another place …. Another time perhaps. Stifling the sight that wanted to escape he rose, stretching out the nights stiffness and fighting back the yawn that had been playing across Lavinya’s mouth most of the night. Sleep could wait, there was more work to do and little time to complete it. Setting the letter gently on the table next to her sleeping form he allowed his eyes to linger a moment longer before turning and quietly slipping from the room. A perfect escape destroyed by the grin that lite the shadow filled hallway. He was so deep in planning he had not noticed the man at first and that did little to improve his mood already worn thin from the nights jousting. “Looks like someone had fun,” the Red Guards voice was rough and lit with mischief. His eyes danced with conspiracy as he surveyed Corin before being quickly hushed. It was obvious what the man believed had happened in the room. It did not seem to matter to him that they had been shouting at times, or even that there had been screams of fright. Try as he might Corin seemed to only fall deeper into his own mumbling words until; cheeks staining with heat when some of the suggestions the man had voiced brought images reluctantly to life in his mind, caused him to quickly slip down the stairs to find air and reprieve outside.
  10. Her words washed over him, cold river water cast on the evening fire. It held equal results; a cooling, dampening down of a fury he still did not understand why it was there and the billowing build of steam hissing forth from the heats center. Only in Corin that billowing steam was the cascading pressure of failure. He had lost a charge that was never his to begin with. No matter how he had tried, and he had done almost anything, far beyond the reasonable extents of normal thought. Pushed until he had pushed her away and still he had pursued her with no regard for sanity. What was it that held him so entranced with Sirayn? Cold stormy eyes looked down at him from the dark reaches, why wont you just let me be? Have I not suffered enough? He could almost hear the click of her tongue, vexed with his stupidity and continued failure. Lavinya was right … he clung still to that pain. The rent that had no trueness in life and existed only in his pride filled wishes. Yet he had hurt her equally, saw the pain playout of her face, picture perfected in the way she departed from him. He was a guard of the Tower, sworn to protect and defend. But to both he had been the cause not the needed protection. He had brought the bright blooms of pain, the subtle discourse. A saper at the wall with a chipping hammer. Slowly, stone by stone the wall dismantled. The strength weakened until, in the end, the wall crashed and became a useless pile of rubble. How did he think he could ever protect them when he was one of the hidden internal threats they faced. Her sigh, the haunting sound of resignation. A dam’s last sound before shuddering it’s failure. Was this what he had wanted, had strove to dig out. How could he? At one time she had thought him worthy to be her guardian, Warder of her life’s thread. It was true, he denied her that. Coldly, without thought, he had lead her to that option and then crushed the very offering in his own ridiculous self belief of another. A unspoken promise purely made up in his own twisted mind. How vulnerable she had been, bearing her heart open and held up for the offering. How far had he truly fallen, could he tell anymore. Did he know which way was up and which path lead to the Dark One’s own soul? The Commander had the wrong of it, many had the wrong of it. He did not deserve the opportunity to return. A wounded cat, too dangerous to leave alive. He had seen it in some of their eye after he returned, mistaken it for pity. Why did he not have the strength and honor left to sheath his sword? The form known, but rarely used. What would Reiken think of his pupil now, too weak to even complete the end form and free the world of another twisted thread blacked and brittle. Vaguely the present pulled at him, demanded his attention. So inward was his focus he had missed the change. Where he had expected fury, the fiery tempest to match that of her locks. There had been none. No scathing remarks, one power restraint or outright fury. He deserved it all, a fool, deserved to be cast out and never brought back. Her right in position and earned title allowed her the privilege. But it had not come. Was that his intent, drive her to force the decision, remove the tainted piece from the board? How had life unraveled so fast? His name a mere whisper, an edge of uncertainty threading through brought his attention full to her form now curled on the bed and small, like that of a child wrapped in uncertainty. The vision wrong, at odds to the power the woman was, could be. Wake her? Why would he wake her, he had just made a fool of himself forcing her hand to sleep and now she whispered to stay and wake her? No, the voice was too small, a pulling emotion threatening to bloom in the request. Almost as if … in another it could have been considered plea. Would she have been facing him the shock would have been apparent. There would have been no hiding it, the game lost. Where had things changed, gone so ….. sideways, the hollow emptiness feeling fluttering at the edge of existence. Threatening to fill him once more. He found himself moving without registering the start, approaching her form without thought. Nothing in that moment felt right, the hand of the Dark One twisting the pattern in a distorted view of normality where only the end result of malicious existed. The distorted shadow that played across the room stopped as he bent, hands tentatively slipping a light cover over her. The flames delicate movement keeping the shadows edge from being defined, giving it a life of its own. “I am here. Rest and on the morrow, the light willing, we will find …..” find what? His voice was soft, sounded strange to his own ears. How long had it been since it carried that lightness, that ….. was it a caring inkling? What right did he have to care, what right did he have at all. Since the cabin he had done nothing but bring her misery. Misery heaped with pain and abandonment. His hand patted her shoulder as he straightened and moved back toward the candle. No, not caring, shame. I have no right to care for her, but I carry a world of shame heaped upon her at mine own hand. How could I be so merciless, reckless with the life of an Aes Sedai, a woman, a friend, a … NO!! you have no right to even think it. Lifting the candle lightly he turned back to her small defenseless form on the bed. Perhaps a confession to the Red would finally end this. Their hatred of men should make the decision swift, her punishment final. He was not tainted like those men of the Black Tower, but the pain he brought to her sisters should makeup for that inefficiency. Corin
  11. So.... I'm back ... sort of ... kind of ... I think so ... hmmm So decisive .... Okay, so I am trying to get back into the swing of writing again. I still have to toss a reply info to the sign in post (will do after this I guess) and will be posting to complete a long lost .... well not lost, just unfinished RP arc from the past. As I get warmed up I will pop around to see what else others have going on. Oh ... probably help to mention my character is Corin Danveer for those wondering. :) Okay so I'm lost ... I tried looking back on historical posts that carried with the board and the last WS skill post I can find was the WS14 ... odd, thought I had gotten closer to the 17 level ... so now I guess I need to see what the WS requirement are while I continue looking around for the rest of the WS postings ... Unless someone else knows where to look for the info. I know at one time it was separate form the board (or I thought it was) ... forgive, been a very long time so I could easily have that mixed up.
  12. It was refreshing to see Lavinya flustered and off balance for once when Corin was not. For so long she had been the one to control the game and he the one always fighting to find a firm step. In a strange way it had similar feelings to a certain grey eyed storm he had tried to give his life to before. But now, as her hand shot up to stall any remarks he may have thought to provide, he found a pleasant charm about the less then collected Aes Sedai before him; a refreshing reminder that she was human after all. A fact he worked to remind himself more often of late it seemed. Sometime she could be so stubborn and immovable. Like a cantankerous goat in the pen, not willing to step out in the open field even though the grass was fresh and the space expansive to give the allure of freedom. Like the triumphant morning sun burning away the lazy morning mist, the relaxed enjoyment of the moment faded as Corin took note of a change in Lavinya. It was nothing out right obvious unless you were looking for it. But something washed over her. Not the Void, he could recognise that distant look anywhere. It was not like the other discipline that was taught in the yard either. Something that involved embracing emotions and pressing them down or something to that effect. It was something Corin hadn’t grasped, he had found the whole thing too confusing and the void too natural to care what the other method was. No, it was nothing he knew about, but it had a very similar effect. He could see the focus flow over her, the bow and arrow becoming an extension of her body. It was still rough and crude by a guard’s standard, but it was a huge shift from the awkward trainee she had just been. He did not need to look to know she struck the pole if not the exact mark. The solid thud of the arrow striking the post told him that much. It was interesting how quickly she had been able to change, to separate the annoyances and the outside from the task at hand. The questions flowed through his mind seeking answers and cohesion to the puzzle. Her face practically beamed as she turned her gaze to him and then nearly skipped off to collect the arrow. If she could gain that control in the midst of a battle then perhaps there was hope that she would survive with just a customary guard to protect her. Corin said nothing through it all, but just studied her. He had though perhaps he had tapped the hidden inner soul that was the true Lavinya Morganen but something told him now there was still more she had kept locked away from his eyes. She seem to beam with pride for a short while, happily going about the small correction Corin issued to her while she replayed the shot time and again. But soon enough fatigue broke through the pride and before frustration could once more gain a hold she threw the bow aside and dropped to the ground. For long moments Corin just looked at her, still puzzling today’s new information in the back of his mind. “You know, if this were the yard, a stunt like that would have you running the track for the rest of the day with a sack of flour on your back.” When her gaze shot, he raised a hand to forestall her tongue and continued as he moved back to the glittering fan and collected the polearm. His eyes studied the way the light danced along the death offering edge. “Only the mentor calls an end to a training exercise, you would do good to remember that once we are home sister.” The threat was hollow, even if it was hard to pick up on. This whole training thing was different from the norm. Not because they were not in the yard but because of who they were. Surly her mind wandered as much as his, and if harm were to befall her; he was not sure what he would do. As a mentor he had to remain objective and forge a weapon from whatever offering the mentee presented. Could he do that with Lavy? “While your arms rest we will go over another of the weapons, unless your mind needs to rest as well?” He spun quirking an eyebrow in question to her. The look she returned he accepted as an answer to continue though he should have had her running. “Perhaps we can wait a few minutes more before continuing. Tell me,” he lowered himself to sit cross-legged across from her with the polearm across his lap. “What was that back there? When you got the shot right, there was a difference about you. Is that something they teach you in ... lady school with all the other women?” The indication to the Tower was not great. But he had not been paying attention to the area around them to see if anyone was trying to listen in so it was a safe alternative. Corin
  13. The days training was better this time, if for no other reasons than he did not have to physically correct Lavinya’s forms. She was making progress at an expectable slow but steady pace. But at least today all her errors could be corrected verbally or with a quick tap from the fletching end of the arrow he had taken on as his training staff. This was a good thing. She had distracted him far too much that first day. He did not want to fall back into that trap again; it was already hard enough to train her in those distracting outfits. They were far from practical for training with weapons. But it was part of her cover and she had been quite adamant that no matter what circumstance arrived the dress for her kin would never alter much from what she continued to appear in. She had even had the nerve to subtly mention that the women would wear far thinner and clingier, as if that was even possible, if the circumstance warranted it. What would require such a step he did not know and was far too nervous of the answer to even approach the question. The mischief that floated in those dark pools from time to time still set the hair on the back of his neck on edge. Reaching into the cool clean water of the wash basin he splashed it across his face several times before collecting the towel to dry off. It felt good to be rid of the dust from the day’s training; a small smirk creased his face at the thought of the day’s events. Not only had he been able to keep her at a safe distance and allow him to concentrate on being the mentor he was supposed to be. He had given her a good dose of what true training life would be like once this facade was over. About now if she hadn’t fallen asleep on her bed she was probably asleep in a tub; his money was on the bed. It was the safest place for her and it meant he had time to clean up and relax before this evening’s meal and another game of cat and mouse. He was largely getting tired of being the mouse, but knew there was little chance of that changing unless he allowed himself to slip as he had before. That had turned out worse than devastating. It was because of him that Lavinya was a fractured woman inside and Sirayn; he still felt a tightening in his chest after all this time. Sirayn was lost to the world and it was a darker place because of it. The light had lost a great champion in losing her and he was not about to let it repeat with Lavinya. Willing his apprehension and tension away, Corin slipped silently into the private dining room and released a breath he had notice he held when the room contained only the willowy serving girl that had been assigned by the Inn keeper to his sister, Lady Lavinya. If they only knew the true history of his sister they would not have worried about the common room and its assorted visitors. But they didn’t and that was part of the facade they played at. It was that facade that held him to a closer and tightly held position at Lavinya’s whim. But for the moment he had a continued solitude and welcomed its extension. A solitude that lasted less than the first drink the girl had fetched him before Lavinya in her elegance swept in to the room and set the game at motion once more. Her affection was simple and for once benign in its offering, the perfect sister welcoming her brother. It was the lingering scent of her passing that became the first of the edges he would have to face that night. As much as he hated himself for it, he could not help but seek that light reminder of how warm and vulnerable she could be. With dinner ordered and the girl out the door with her orders it became time to get down to business once more. In that regard Lavinya was the first to make a move from the facade with a simple slip of paper. It was a decidedly odd move that quirked one eyebrow of Corin’s as he accepted the missive. Noting the broken seal on the back before he opened it, Corin sat back and began to scan through the letter. He got no more than the first two lines in before his eyes cut a glance over the top of the letter to Lavinya. She was openly studying him, like a Brown with a new bug under her looking glass. A place and feeling he really did not like. But he let it slide off him and continued with the letters contents. He had tried to give off from The Great Game after failing to find Sirayn. It was Lavinya’s determinace and constant testing and pestering that had broken his will in that aspect and the games cloak once more fell comfortably into place. alone that word at the end carried more weight and turmoil then Saline would ever know. His eyes lingered on it for a moment before closing the missive and passing it back to his sister. This presented a completely new set of problems for him to overcome. Why was the Creator so determined to test him? Still conscious of Lavinya’s studying gaze upon him. Corin lifted the mug to which his eyes had been fixed on and tipped it to Lavinya before downing the remainder of the contents. Somewhere there was a surly old lady with storm grey eyes smiling in glee at the turmoil that turned within him. “So it seems there is no longer a wedding to be had my sister. I can only assume your maid knows what she is about and this is indeed a necessary turn of events.” Eyes that had been studying the bottom of his empty cup now flicked up to meet the steady chestnut gaze from across the table. “The Captain and his Red Guard?” Lavinya’s silent head shake answered the question with the answer he expected. There was to be no one to buffer the two, and no one else to ensure her safety until they returned or she gave off the facade and claimed her present right. “That would leave me with two questions. One, what is my sister’s bidding in light of this, and how long is it to be my sister?” Silence befell them for a short span, broken only with the return of the serving girl with their meal before Lavinya could offer any answers. The arrival of the food was a welcome distraction from the locked gaze they had been sharing. Each searching the other for answers neither would give outright. A game that would begin again once the girl left the room, for there were answers that Lavinya still owed.
  14. The influx in her voice drew his attention sharply along with his gaze. She had seemed almost astonished or was it shock? There had been something there he was sure of it. Only now she was once again the composed Aes Sedai that she almost always was. Was it all in his mind again, the cooling of her nearness still softening the edges of his thoughts. No he was certain there had been something there. Corin’s gaze turned to a more keen and critical mentor as he watched her begin to set herself into the stance and begin the motion of drawing for a shot. If she was missing anything or had forgotten, he would catch her. At first her movements were a little jerky and unsure, exactly what he would expect from a new mentee. But in short order a glint lit her eyes and she moved fluently if not slowly into the corrections that he had guided her to earlier. He knew that glint by now, mischievous and proud, it had become all to familiar with him. What is she up to behind those long fluttering lashes? Trouble for him he was sure, the question was if the trouble would come sooner or later? Beginning his circle again he watched her carefully, ignoring her seeking approval. She was a student right now and as such would have to wait until he was ready to offer confirmation or praise. Neither of which he could afford to offer too easily less she forget her place in this present relationship. The simple thought of the word began to unravel his thoughts and forced him to drive his concentration forward. Right now was definitely not the time to be trying to figure out the mess of knots their relationship had turned into. “Your feet are too close together,” there was no emotion in his voice; a simple statement. A quick flick of his wrist sent the fletching end of the arrow against the inside of her knee with a modicum of force. “You have to remain balanced or you are useless, remember that.” Corin continued a second circle around his mentee seeking out further errors. Grudgingly he had to give her credit. For a first start she had picked up the correction he had guided her through earlier every well. He was not about to voice that credit but he could not deny it either. He thought he might catch her daydreaming in her usual Aes Sedai head in the clouds state. But she had grasped it better than he had thought she would. “Okay, you are still a little loose and sloppy but it’s not the worst start I have had to deal with. You can release the bow and gather an arrow. You will be shooting at that post in front of the shed. For now I don’t expect anything fancy from you. Just a simple placement of an arrow anywhere in the post will do. Mind you watch your positioning and breathing.” Stepping back so he would be facing her when she drew her shot Corin waited for her to select an arrow and return and set in her shooting stance. When she was finally ready, he watched her draw the fletching back to her cheek and take aim. “Now hold it, don’t release. Just concentrate on the shot and your breathing.” For long moments Corin watched Lavinya holding the shot in place. He could see her finger tips whiten with the lack of blood flow, watched the tremor build in her arm and the bounce of the tip begin to exaggerate as she worked to fight off the strain. “Choose your moment and take the shot.” The release was rough, the string slapping hard against her forearm as it sent the arrow speeding away in a silent deadly arc. With a “thunk” the arrow embedded itself in to the side of the shed missing the post by over a foot. Turning to keep Lavinya from seeing the small satisfying smirk that tickled at the edges of Corin’s mouth, he surveyed the shot. “Not bad .... If there was three of them abreast.” His voice held a small dollop of sarcasm but remained light. “At this range you should be able to hit a single shucked pea consistently.” Turning to look over his shoulder at her he added with a slight smile, “and when I am done with your training you will. Now again, and this time let’s try to hit the large skinny post shall we?” With that he turned to face down range and waited for her to gather another arrow. Corin
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