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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Kura

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Posts posted by Kura

  1. The dreadlord again gave his nod of approval to her plans, going through the motions and inacting the masque he'd spent his life perfecting. Flawlessly he switched roles to the arrogant young nobleman for show at their farewell breakfest, treating the serving staff with the disregard typical of his class. He mounted his horse, motioning for her to lead the way out of town. Again he slipped back into the collected dreadlord, unfolding his shoulders and sitting high in the saddle, but still keeping the loose hands on the reigns of an experienced rider. His inner emotions however, didn't reflect his collected exterior. He knew they were still in danger, and felt the Aes Sedai should recognize it as well. While it was true that they should be able to handle any untrained wilder male, there was an unaccountable factor facing the two. The Taint on Saidin. While the dreadlord himself was immune, his binding to the Great Lord shielding him from the filth coating t he True Source, this wilder would not be. Any insane man was a threat, shearly on his unpredictability, an insane man with a firm hand on the One Power could not be underestimated. Arcon would never throw a weave that placed himself in danger just to destroy an opponet, the same could not be said for a man in the thralls of the taint. Peace Arcon... she has never touched the taint.

     

    He refrained from exhaling before he trotted up to the Aes Sedai. He would push past it, and if they were attacked, him being able to sense the other male should be enough to give them preperation. He had a decision to make if he'd share that warning however. "If we're out of danger for the moment, we might as well continue our discussions. I believe it best to enter the city under false stealth. Hooded, but displaying our allegiance. Let them think that I am out of practice within the Great Game, giving the impression that I am attempting to hide my return for some sort of effect. The rumor mill can really only serve to bolster my ability to play. A simple brooch ought to the job for me, if you agree I'll leave it to you on how to falsly conceal your status as an Aes Sedai." He wanted to keep her occupied and on task, on the off chance that her decision was completely the correct one. He'd taken a gamble passing control directly to her, wanting to see how she would handle this situation. He held hope that she read something he didn't, even if he scarcly believed it himself.

     

    Before he had the chance to move the conversation forward, his mind snapped up to the tree cover. He felt a huge gathering of Saidin, far more than he could hold on his best day. Maybe more than I could hold with one of the teaching stones... His decision to hold back the information was made for him. "Embrace Saidar! Air shields! Trees! Now!" He grasped Saidin himself, spinning three of his cardinal elements together in fire, air, and spirit. He formed a net the caught and transferred the heat from a what was a scalding blast of air and fire. The heat was drawn to the ground on tethered strands of spirit, and he took the moment to admire his opponet. The weave gave almost no visual componets, only a heat shimmer as it moved. It was a brilliant wave for wiping away an opponet who could not see to defend themselves. He relied on his companion to block what was left from the force of air with her own shields. Arcon however had played his hand, revealing his own ability to channel. Without knowing how many men assaulted them, he was nervous his cover would be blown. Relying on his sense of where the man was, hiding in some small bush cover, he wove.

     

    It was a small weave, but its complexity should lend him an advantage on one who was untrained. He wove pure air, setting up air razors, and spinning them together into a cone, and set it to run forward into the bush. The result was a small tornando with razer edges, tearing up a bit of the ground and spitting the loose dirt into the air. "We need to kill them, now. If they show that I can still channel..." He didn't need to complete the threat, the implications completely obvious. He wouldn't be able to return home, and there was a chance that neither would she. The man dove out of the bushes, but Arcon was rewarded by a set of two screams and a small plume of blood. Their enemy channeller was a wiry man, but with lean muscle. Obviously the boy was used to physical labor, his arms scarred, and completely comfortable with the mess of dirt and leaves covering him. What bothered Arcon was the complete lack of sanity in his opponets eyes. The man's paranoias would be reenforced by the appearance of a man traveling with an Aes Sedai who held his power, who could compete and make the playing field so much less than fair...

     

    The dreadlord nearly shuddered at the thought as he again wove death in the form of his brand of fireballs. Fire with a coiled knot of air inside, they flew and expanded rapidly upon closing on the target, greatly increasing the fury of the flames with the additional source of air. They needed to end this quick, the thought existing with a curse as the man dodged again, weaving more fire. He had to wonder how long before the insane man thought that death was preferable than loosing the source...

  2. Arcon's only reply to her return speach was a nod, his mask slipping back into place. As she left, he watched her go with a sigh. Well, I suppose it is good a sudden outburst doesn't rattle her... The thought drifted idly, and even in his head he felt how hollow it was. He knew he had damaged their budding relationship, but he was much more pensive about how idly she took the meaning of his words and actions. A shake of his head, a sign of his inner thoughts he'd never give if there was actually someone to observe them. She respects the mask, I will have to employ it to get my point accross. This time his thoughts rang true to what was left of his concious. The fact of the matter was that he needed her, at least for now. He also knew that there were dangers out there that an unprepared Aes Sedai with no warder could succumb to as easily as a farmer's daughter. Perhaps easier, at least the country girl didn't have an unwavering faith in their own ability to defend themselves from 5 men with bows. Another shake of his head, before Arcon got ready for the night.

     

    He was tempted to have another bath drawn, but decided against it. The innkeeper's demeanour still lingered in his thoughts, and he very much wanted to stay within the wards he had set. It wasn't fear he felt, that had long since been beaten out of him, but caution. He'd spent the last several years in the blight, and that caution had saved him more times than he cared to admit. He instead chose the wash basin, genttly warming it with a thread of fire. All of his exposed skin recieved attention, a small cloth primed with the water and a bit of his own soaps to at least attempt to cleanse himself. He didn't need to be immaculate, not yet, but he refused to look completely travel worn. Not when he traveled with an Aes Sedai. He wanted to be noticed after all, and he doubted very much that if he looked like anything but travelling nobility that would be the case. His grooming complete he stripped out of his travel clothes, and donned a comfortable pair of trousers. He briefly considered donning a night shirt for modesty's sake, but instead opted to show the multitude of scars that crossed his torso. Most were from his time aboard the Merry Pauper, and given to him by the most vile of all first mates, Mr. Sweeper, may there be a shark with a strong enough stomach to handle that one's innards. He removed his eye path for the same reason. Of course he kept the lid closed, but the scar around his missing eye still showed. His only intention was to show that there were dangers the power did not protect one from. Though he admitted that if he caught her admiring his swordsman's physique, well, it wouldn't hurt his pride.

     

    He settled against the wall, his sword resting with the hilt against his shoulder, orthaganol to the door on the side it would open. It was another habbit he'd developed, never feeling comfortable sleeping directly in the path of the door. As he waited his outer wards tripped, and he loosened the blade in its sheath, five inverted weaves all poised to destroy whoever stood at his door. When his travelling companion did finally step through, he resisted the urge to chuckle, instead letting the sword settle again. "I was begginning to think you'd decided to rent another room after all Seheria Sedai." His voice was once again the cool, collected nobleman's, with a hint of warmth. His father had always told him that it was best to offer honey, regardless of what you held in your other hand. "Though it does rankle a bit, I must admit that my methods earlier were out of place. You are no more the farmer's daughter than I am a shepard's son, and we are both capable of defense, and acting to our positions. It won't happen again." It was as close to an apoligy as he felt he could muster without loosing face. "Good night Seheria." He reset his wards and let himself drift towards sleep.

     

    He awoke a few hours later to his wards again being tripped, the ones outside the door. A quick glance told him his companion still slept, though fitfully. Silently he loosened his blade once again, though through some instinct he did not reach for the power. So ludicrous the thought that it took him a moment to relize what that instinct was.

     

    He felt another man holding the source.

     

    He thanked his paranoia dearly for the forsight to invert his wards, but thought of all the minor channeling he had done since they'd arrived at the inn. His frantic mind stayed but a hairs bredth from seizing Saidin, as he cycled through his list of enemies. The logical conclusion was that it was another dreadlord, coming to exact some sort of retribution or further his goals through the removal of Arcon. The dreadlord waited, straining his senses to hear anything from beyond the door. After a few moments, he heard the innkeeper's voice. "Boy! Don't be mad! Stick to the plan.." He heard another voice, similar in tone but lighter, younger. "But da... She is right there and she is going to take me away... Thats what they do.." All Arcon could hear was a shuffeling, and he felt the presence trip his wards again, this time leaving. He could only surmise that they had left. He thought about waking the Aes Sedai, and telling her of their situation, but it could wait until morning. He doubted they were in any real danger, not yet anyways.

     

    In the morning's light his companion held a much more chipper disposition. The dreadlord stifled the forming yawn, and stood, reaching for his shirt. He gave little hint of the fact that he had not slept last night. It was a logical reaction to the events of last night, he being the one who could have sensed the boy had he made an attempt. He refused to acknowledge that he had stayed up to guard her.. "Actually yes, some buisness did come up. I think we should either convert or kill the man who stood outside our door last night holding the power. He did seem awfully interested in the Aes Sedai who would cart him off to the tower to be gentled." He delivered the words with very little infelction, the lact of sleep aiding greatly in this endeaver. "Oh, and before you worry, I watched the door last night. He wasn't getting anywhere near us, so I didn't wake you." He actually let the words fall with that same warmth he had expressed last night, and ended with a stretch and yawn as he dressed. "How would you like to proceed, Aes Sedai?"

  3. Sereth’s reflexes were on point, instantly slicing the fire weaves as the rolled from the man. His shield however, was a bit lagging, but he saw little harm in that given the man had knocked himself unconscious. Sereth held the source, staring down at his new soldier, trying to decide how he felt. Had he done good for the man? It seemed he had finally found a backbone, at the very least. Though he wondered at the man’s mantra… It unsettled the Attack Leader. A horrible, nigh unforgiveable thought occurred to him. I could gentle him here and now… How much pain would I be saving him and others? He shuddered at the thought, what he considered went beyond taboo. It was cruel, not giving him a chance. Let alone the repercussions he’d face. Still… he was unsettled.

     

    Another cup of tea was poured, and he drank it down, barely tasting the enticing natural flavors. He was exhausted from his display, but he couldn’t leave the man’s hands as they were. I owe him this much at least… He reached a decision regarding him, as he began to weave his poorest elements together. He’d leave the scars. Oh, the man wouldn’t lose any use of his hands, but every day he’d be reminded that power had a cost. Sereth vowed to keep a close watch on him, and oversee at least part of his training himself. He’d been betrayed by his trusting demeanor already, and it had cost many young women their lives. He couldn’t act preemptively, at least not this early, but he would watch him.

     

    Sereth desperately hoped that his suspicions were incorrect, that the man was overtaken by euphoria and a sudden urge to finally accomplish. He hoped he could temper that drive for power into something the dragon could use. He would strive for that goal, but he would not be blinded. Sereth might look the part of the trusting historian, ignorant to the ways of the world, but he’d grown. He’d slain men and shadowspawn in the hundreds. He even kept the special batch of herbs on his belt at all times. He’d mixed that drink and watched friends die for losing to the taint… and for trusting him. He pushed away those thoughts, and finished healing the man. The scars were horrid things, ugly and red, he hoped it would be enough.

     

    With the last of his strength, he wove a gateway back to the Farm, and settled the man into the infirmary. When the doctor inspected his hands, he turned a baleful eye on the Attack Leader. Sereth threw up his hands, honest guilt on his features. “I had not the strength left for a proper healing.. He should retain all movement in them.” A stern reprimand to simply bring the patient first, and Sereth was set free to return to his home. He’d much to write in his journals today…

  4. Sereth wore his surprise openly. The Red Ajah came to the Black Tower to bond his brethren? The news was… unsettling. Oh, that wasn’t to say that he wasn’t overjoyed at the prospect of traveling to Tar Valon, speaking to the sisters there, and pawing through the library. He might never leave given that opportunity. It was nearly everything he had ever dreamed of. He did however have reservations… It was hard for a man in his position to trust the Red Ajah. They were afterall dedicated to hunting down his kind. Still, if Arath trusted them…

     

    The Attack Leader took a sip of his tea to calm himself and give him time to organize his thoughts. Still… if he is offering what he I think he is… Can I really pass up this opportunity? “That is… quite the bit of news Arath. I’ll be honest with you, the idea of having a Red in my head is not the most pleasant thought I’ve had. Still, if you trust them, I’ll follow your lead.” With another sip of his tea, Sereth offered his trademarked grin, “And you know me to well, I couldn’t turn down a chance to see that library. Don’t suppose the bonding offer is open to some lonely brown? “ He chuckled, doubting that would ever be an option.

     

    He even wondered if that would be what he’d want. Shienar had changed him, as had his recent hunt. He no longer felt justified in locking himself up and studying all day. That wasn’t to say he had even once shirked his duties, but the importance of that history and philosophy seemed lessened. He’d switched to books on tactics and strategies, and spent more time practicing with both blade and Saidin. Though it pained him to admit it, he’d select an Aes Sedai from the Green to hold his bond, given the chance.

     

    “I feel I need some details. I’m assuming reds only for the bonding, but is that even needed? Could I go independently to study and mingle with the Aes Sedai? It might do some good for them to see that our leaders at least, are a bit more than men with a penchant for explosions.” He chuckled, finishing his tea. “A tiny bit more, at least.”

  5. Arcon played his part of the chastised nobleman. His lip pulled into a sneer, his eyes daring the innkeeper to say one word about what he had just witnessed. This time however, only the pertinence was faked. He had come to his companion with respect and concern for both of their lives and possessions, and had been talked down to like a child. His ire was up, and his pride was wounded. Not a phenomenal way to spend their first night together.

     

    Wisely, the innkeeper kept his mouth shut, and showed them to their shared room. Even as the door was shut behind them, Arcon wove a ward of silence and spoke. “Knife!” And in the blink of an eye a dagger was sent to thunk into the wood of the bed frame. “Your wards would have given you about that much warning, Aes Sedai. You would have been far more indisposed than your back turned, and in another room besides. You want to speak down to me about my training? Within my first three weeks of the Fortress, barely able to hold the source, a woman tried to take my life.” His tone was deep, veiled anger kept in check by ridged self control. “The peace of the shadow was in place, but does that ever matter, Aes Sedai?” He spoke the words with a sneer, “On her second attempt I fed her to the darkhounds. That, my dear, was my training.”

     

    Arcon still held the source, preparing himself to be attacked. He’d been trained extensively in facing women, the counterpoint of which he very much doubted his companion had. Still, he softened his tone, keeping his anger exposed, but reining it in tighter and tighter as he spoke. “The power is not some be all end all solution to keeping us alive. A bit of guile, instincts, and some flaming common sense will get us much further than reigning fire or summoning a gale ever would. “ He closed the gap between them, reaching forward to retrieve his blade. “I’ve come out into the world many times, survived surrounded by men and women who openly serve the Great Lord. Killers, thieves, rapists, all wearing their colors proudly.” The dreadlord took a steadying breath, and met the woman’s eyes. “I know the kind when I see one, and I’ll be damned if I am going to let appearances or pride kill us.”

     

    His speech mostly exhausted, he turned and began stepping out of his travelling gear. He was methodical, and purposely turned his back to her. If there was a greater show of trust between two such as them, he’d never know. “Now, as for trusting you. I’ve only just met you, Seheria. All I know is that you can channel, and you and I serve the Great Lord. Placing myself in the same room as yourself is a threat to my person, as all it would take is for you to decide I represent to much of a risk and I’d be dead before I woke.” He turned again to face the woman, his tone matter of fact. He doubted he needed to state that the reverse was also true. He’d even contemplated it, but as it often did with the Carhien, logic and greed won out over vengeance to petty insult. Oh, he’d never forget the insult, but she served a far greater purpose alive and well.

     

    “The rooms are fine by the by, though I doubt that they serve a passable wine. “ Arcon hoped that the lighter conversation change would be taken for an attempt to soothe tensions between the two. His display had been over the top, and fueled by his rage at the insults she’d delivered to him. Still, the point had to be made. She was older than him, he barely crested his fiftieth year, but he knew what it took to survive out here. He wanted to use that information to keep them both alive. Still, there was one barb as of yet unanswered. “Oh, and if I’d wanted a dalliance tonight, there was a Saldean trio downstairs who I’m sure would have made me work to get into their rooms.” His grin was wide with the implications. Let her take that how she will.

  6. Sereth watched as his student broke down in front of him. The life he had unwittingly walked into overwhelming his sensibilities, his gentle life having left him unprepared for the harsh realities of the changing world. Of his own abilities. When the man began to cry, Sereth felt a pang of regret. What have I done to this poor man? The attack leader took a deep steadying breath. It is too late for that Sereth. There is no turning back, only moving forward. Maybe… Maybe it is time for a demonstration. His resolve hardened, and for the first time an edge of iron entered the Asha’man’s voice.

     

    “You chose this path, Sender Filk. I did not demand that you take my test, but asked for volunteers. You passed, and you can channel.” He stressed the word can, and stood, his back turned to the man. “You can assume the void, and wield Saidin.” Sereth seized the source himself, allowing himself to be immersed in the currents of molten ice, freezing flames, and the revolting filth that was the taint of the Dark One. He felt powerful, alive. No, more than that. He felt that this was right, that man should hold this strength, and use it to defend those who could not do so themselves. To the women fall gentle Saidar, with its requirement of acceptance to wield. He and every man who could hold the source was a fighter, a warrior, and he would forge of this man a blade that the dragon would wield in the last battle.

     

    “Soldier. Watch what you will be able to do.” His voice was firm, filled with the command one would expect of his office as he began to weave. Sereth delved into the earth under his feet as he walked, raising it. He formed a pedestal under him of a perfect circle. Flames rose around the edge, raising and licking the air. Sereth burned the edges, charring them black with the might of Saidin. Again he wove, twisting air and fire together, with a bead of earth into lightning. With this he cut a sinuous line through his disc, his finger tracing the path of destruction. He stepped to one half, again summing flames to blacken the other half, but tied the weave to leave the fires burning. Next he drew upon his weakest element, summoning water from the air and freezing it upon the unburning half of the disc.

     

    Finally Asha’man Sereth Arian turned to face the man, sweat pouring down his face. He stood upon the unified symbols of the Flame of Tar Valon, and the Dragon’s Fang. He stood on the line etched by lightning, the fire flowing around him and his feet steady even on the thin sheet of ice. “Sender Filk, you are weak.” He let that hang in the air, his tone disappointed yet firm. “But you don’t have to be. Through Saidin this!” He outstretched his hands, indicating the disc, “and so many more marvels are at your finger tips! I can teach you my strength, no… I can teach you the strength we share. I offer you an end to your weakness, not just through Saidin, but through discipline. I offer you a new family, one who asks for everything you can give. One who stands beside you and does the same.” Sereth stepped forward, letting the weaves stopping the ice from melting fail. With each step fissues appeared through the Flame of Tar Valon, and with a titanic effort, the Dragon’s Fang began to push up, rotating into full view. When Sereth leaped from the pedestal, only the Fang was visible. The ancient symbol of the male Aes Sedai.

     

    “I would ask that you stand, and agree to accept my tutelage. That you vow to serve the Dragon, and march beside your brethren, that you seize Saidin and for the first time truly be alive.” Sereth’s walk took him to stand just before the Andorian. “But I don’t have to ask. You are a soldier of the Black Tower, an Asha’man in training, and a weapon of the Lord Dragon Reborn. All of those tasks I would ask of you are simply what you are now.” Sereth let go of Saidin, feeling the strain of having pushed himself a bit too far. He pushed forward a cup of his tea, designed to settle the nerves of those who drank it. “Now, clear your mind and picture a flame. Assume the void, we aren’t leaving here until you channel.”

  7. Arcon burst through the doors of his old rooms in the fortress, his mind in a flurry. So much to do, so much time wasted in between the two… He rummaged through his things, searching for a specific silk outfit. Dress the part, afterall. How many contacts have I lost up here? I know I will always have Shadar, but who may have forgotten me? What upstarts don’t know who I am? He sighed, finally taking a moment to organize his thoughts. It had been a very long time since he had returned to the Fortress.

     

    ---

     

    “Greetings father, I hope you’ve been well?” The elder man turned to face his son, a far more stout image of himself, aged fifty years. He hadn’t aged nearly as well as his son. “Arcon! It is good to see you. Why, I thought you were bringing guests?” Arcon chuckled, stepping forward to clasp the arm of his father. “No, they couldn’t make it. Alas, I deemed that actually placing this house in capable hands was more important.” He grinned, measuring every action. Even among family, Daes Dae’mar ran deep. “Oh, then I suppose you’ve brought help? Perhaps another Andorian?” His father chuckled, eye contact showing the truth of the barb. You think I’m a pup father, one day I will show you my fangs. “They really are quite capable, you know.” Arcon returned a subdued laugh of his own, outwardly accepting his place. And so the spider began to weave his web.

     

    ---

     

    Time passed, the summer broke, and Arcon worked with his father. Publicly announcing himself and being pardoned of all crimes on the day he had left. After all, Saidin was a wild and cursed thing, was it not? A man’s first touch of it, especially when threatened, was bound to be

    chaotic and destructive. All was well though, the son returned gentled. Arcon was impressed his father had the station to arrange such a thing, especially considering the rumors that he’d used to get to the position. Though the help of an Aes Sedai vouching for his case certainly didn’t hurt. Neither did the purse full of gold to the family of the house guard the Dreadlord had slain with his first touch of sweet, sweet Saidin. Arcon worked to strengthen his standing, using his charm to dissuade and put at ease those of noble birth. Publicly he even renounced Alice as a dark friend, though that had truly wounded him. Oh she definitely was a Friend of the Dark, but renounce her? Never.

    Privately he did the work of his calling, gathering local cells and giving them directive. He knew the call signs and he had the Power, most obeyed with little prodding. He siphoned money from his father’s coffers, partially from his own sources of income, to fund the cells. His father undoubtedly knew, but allowed his son freedom. Within months of his return, his family gained another slash of silk. Grudgingly his father began to respect his son, and Arcon used that as he did all things

    .

    “We have started making a name for ourselves Arcon, I would expect no less than a few advances in the near future.” His father laughed, but his posture made it clear. Marry up, there was no other option. Pompous fool, commanding me… “Yes, I’ve thought about that. Perhaps it is time we start pushing to put me on the market, I hear some woman are rather attracted to a man with scars.” Both men laughed quietly, though Arcon saw his father’s façade break. He still wondered about his son. He was one of the few people alive who knew how much time he spent with Alice. Arcon teasing him with the memory certainly didn’t help. Oh, if only you knew old man. “Oh, but you know I can’t. I have found a woman father, and we wouldn’t want to ruin my sterling reputation.” He smiled, “I believe I will leave to visit her, she must miss me dearly.” His father nodded, and Arcon left for the Fortress the next day.

     

    ---

     

    Arcon finally found what he was looking for, and dressed in a full suit of midnight black silks, finishing the ensemble with a cloak of the same hue. He clasped it with a golden pin bearing the mark of Sammuel, though it pained him to do so. He knew he would need sponsorship if he were to attain his goals, and this Forsaken seemed to align well with his own. He also knew that Sammuel needed more men on the council if he were to play Daes Dae’Mar among his fellows with an upper hand. With recent events standing how they were… Well Arcon doubted he could have chosen better, but to have to choose at all was unnerving. Open allegiance gave you enemies, and when those ranked among the Forsaken… He sincerely hoped he would be a valuable enough pawn for his patron to protect him. Careful Spider, mind the future but weave only one strand at a time…

     

    The Dreadlord took a steadying breath, assuming the void for calm. He resisted the temptation to reach for Saidin, though its allure was almost overpowering. No, he would not appear weak in front of this woman, even if she couldn’t feel if he’d seized the source. There was after all, no telling exactly what she could pick up on after so many years as a politician.I’ve begun the web down South, now to continue the pattern. He planned to meet with a Mae’Shadar today. He needed to impress her, and he needed freedom.

     

    Finally feeling himself prepared, he left his quarters. He gave no hint of his inner turmoil; his father had trained him far too well for that. No, he was calm and collected, ready for what was to come. He knew he had earned a reputation as a teacher, and had even begun to earn a political reputation within the fortress. Hopefully his time spent with his father would strengthen that case, instead of the time away weakening it. He made his way towards the meeting. He had spent years spinning his webs, and now he hoped to finally begin to lure the prey…

  8. ((Yeah, I have no valid excuse as to why this sat here for a month beyond that I couldn't think of what to put down. Apologies Storm Leader.))

     

    Sereth let a grin slip onto his features. Perhaps he had over thought the situation, and given far to much emphasis on his time away. It had seemed much longer however, more like years than weeks. Still, he did feel bad for his absence so soon after both Shienar and the formation of the council. "I'm glad to see everything has held itself together so well in my absence, though the men do seem a bit undereducated. I take it you've been neglecting history in the curriculum?" He let a chuckle escape and waved down a civilian server to bring him some water, and made sure to request either a ceramic or earthenware cup. She appeared puzzled, but didn't question the man with embroidery on his sleeves.

     

    As he waited, he considered his superior's question. He supposed he had learned a thing or two about tracking men of his nature. "I actually believed I have, though I'm not sure if its implementation would be plausible. I managed to track him down, because of of Saidin. I'm not saying that I felt him channeling, but his addiction to it was palpable, and coupled with his insanity he left an easy trail to follow. People remembered him, or if not him, strange things occurring around him. Even.." The attack leader took a steadying breath, remembering one particular corpse... "Even when there was no body left behind, his presence was marked." The serving girl arrived with his drink, and he thanked her with a smile. He glanced up at Arath, and back to the drink, telegraphing his intent to seize Saidin, and did so. Miniscule weaves of fire sank into the water, and Sereth pulled a packet of herbs from his jacket pocket. Quickly the water was brought to a boil, and the Attack Leader dropped in the herbs and stirred softly with flows of air, bleeding off excess heat with thin strands of spirit coiling into the air.

     

    "With this in mind, I believe that if we are forced to track a man, then sending out a fanning pattern into nearby villages using gateways should result in some idea where he has been, and possibly where he is going. This would be especially useful for the multitudes of us who are to weak or lack the skill to travel. As for those gifted such as you or I?" Sereth shrugged and let go of the source, his finished brewing. "I shall give it some thought, unless you have already?" He lifted the earthenware mug to his lips, and sipped. Perfect.

  9. The man’s apprehension was a palpable thing, seething and writhing, wrapping around his throat like a constrictor. Sereth very nearly sighed, but held it back. It wasn’t that he was already exasperated with the man; it was more that he was disappointed in himself. Though the man had sought him out, and it was his duty as an Asha’mon to bring forth all men who could channel, he hated the necessity of it. He hated what he had done to the Andorian youth. He hoped it was a sign of his own sanity that he still felt grief for what it was that he did, what he would continue to do. He was what the world needed him to be though, and any man who willingly grappled with Saidin in the dragon’s name by definition put what the world needed above himself. For while Saidin remained tainted, there was no future for any man on the Farm.

     

    Outwardly Sereth showed none of these conflicting thoughts or emotions. His face remained kind, his smile light. Though he doubted anyone could mistake him for not taking the situation or the man’s question seriously. Instead he took the mannerisms from the kind uncle or grandfather, who gently explained why mother wasn’t coming home tonight… “I can’t answer that question.” This time he did let the sigh slip through, and ran his fingers through his well kempt hair, “I’ve studied it. Kept track of those who last a long time, those who don’t. I could ramble off statistics until I’m blue in the face, but even if you’ve been taught your sums they don’t mean a damn thing.” Sereth’s eyes travelled up, past the young man and back towards the direction of the farm. “You see, Sender, it doesn’t have anything to do with strength or weakness of character or body. There isn’t a formula for this, for it is the purest manifestation of chaos I sincerely hope I ever encounter, though given my profession, I very much doubt it will be. “

     

    Sereth let a sad laugh escape his lips at those words. He didn’t know what his future held, but if Shienar was any indication, it would be horrible beyond even his capable mind’s ability to imagine. “I myself have been on the farm for over a year, and I show no outward signs of neither rot nor insanity, or at the very least, I show no changes to my personality and I don’t believe I hear any voices or see any illusions. At least, none that I am aware of. Unfortunately, there are those who succumb much faster than I.” Sereth didn’t mention that some men went off the deep end at the very first sip of Saidin, and he certainly didn’t tell the man what he was prepared to do if he was one such as those. The conversation was grim enough as it was.

     

    “This fear you feel, it is a natural thing, and if you felt none of it you may have already been mad. There is a technique however, that can banish your fear. In fact it is the same one I would teach you as the first steps to learning to control your gifts.” He had answered the man’s questions; it was time to move on. If he could help the man control himself at the same time, all the better. “I want you to close your eyes, tight, don’t let any light in, but don’t strain yourself. Good, now picture a flame in your mind. A gentle candle or a roaring inferno matters little, so long as you can hold it. Now, as all fires do, this flame needs fuel. It feeds on your emotion.” He let that thought settle for a moment, watching for a tremor. Some did not react well to the principles of the Ko’Di. “Feed your emotions into it, your anger, fear, lust, joy, everything that you are, feed to this flame. Take your time; this is not an easy thing to do. If you fail, do so again. When you succeed, you will have achieved the void.” Sereth seized Saidin once again, and wove a shield and prepared two bands of air. He doubted the man would be able to see his flows quite yet. He was prepared in case the man stumbled into Saidin. “Is that better, Soldier?”

  10. Arcon took her answer and spun it out in his mind. Her freely admitting that she had very little in the way of contacts was quite a bit more revealing than what he'd said, though it took far fewer words. Of course there was always the chance that she was under emphasizing her position, but the Dreadlord very much doubted that to be the truth. Good. She is competent, and I appear to be the first one to have my fangs into her... It was true he was growing fond of the woman, but he was what he was, after all. He doubted that one who swore to the Great Lord would hold it against him, let alone an Aes Sedai. "Well, I'm glad to be of service. As you've pointed out, in our world connections matter. I believe you'll find that this will be a bit more than a small step towards bringing you to prominence in our world." He wanted to cement their dealings, and make much more of this than a tit for tat relationship. He found himself believing in her capability, and as a perk, enjoying the company. Besides, when they reached whatever destination they were bound for in The Great Lord's service, he very much doubted she would forget this ride through the countryside.

     

    They rode on in companionable silence for a long while, and Arcon believed that at least for the moment they had each said as much as they were willing of their pasts and ambitions. The Carhien was once again pleased that she didn't spin into a tale of her own exploits and plans, finding value in her appraisal of silence. As they reached the next village, the Aes Sedai pulled ahead to keep up appearances. Arcon nodded in approval. Each stop along the way that left witnesses was another slab of mortar to his story. As they dismounted he chose to give her a knowing smile but made no comment. Let it be a game between them, if that was the way she'd have it. He wouldn't be the first to draw attention to the charade. Besides, he'd been alive long enough to know that women have their own kind of pride. The man who offended an Aes Sedai's was a sorry one indeed.

     

    The duo made the approach to the counter, and Arcon did his part. Acting reserved, cool, and collected. He played both the part of the nobleman and a man in grief. His father had once commented that the both the king's and the mummer's court required acting, but the mummer lost his head far less often for a bad performance. His trip home was bringing more and more of his father's idioms to Arcon's mind. It was an odd thing for the Dreadlord, for him to feel any nostalgia for home, considering that he blamed the man for his love's death. Well, I suppose if there was one thing the old man had right, it was that hating somebody doesn't mean you can't respect them. He suppressed the chuckle the thought brought, keeping up his cover flawlessly.

     

    His internal thoughts didn't keep him from noticing something odd about the innkeeper however. The most glaring of which was the man's girth, or rather the lack there of. Arcon had traveled far in his time running from the Red Ajah, and he could count on one hand the number of thin inn keepers he had met. Aside from that he seemed nervous, though the only sign was a single bead of sweat on the man's temple. Arcon resisted the urge to rest his hand on the pommel of his blade. The last thing he wanted to do was give any appearance that he thought something was amiss. Suppressing the urge to seize the source was even harder. His story would be worthless if he burnt an inn to the ground, but the thin innkeeper set him on edge. When he finally asked how many rooms, Arcon chimed in, "Do you have more than one acceptable room in this place?" He brought back his full Carhien accent, laying into the stereotype of a spoiled lordling. The man looked offended, but he hoped his companion would get the hint. The dreadlord felt they needed to stay together.

     

    When she asked for a moment to talk to his companion in an irritated voice, Arcon's faith in her was vindicated. As they took a couple steps away from the counter, the dreadlord did seize Saidin, and wove a ward of silence surrounding the pair with a small twist. Those nearby would hear an irritated huff between the two, though no actual words would be discerned. He had always found it much less suspicious if at least some sound escaped when he employed a ward. "I don't trust him, and I think if we stick together nothing will happen. At the very least if it does, we won't be separated. My sword isn't just decorative, but I'd be more comfortable if there was someone who could channel without blowing my cover near by if my suspicions are correct." He kept the ward up to cover her response, but left it up to her to deal with the innkeeper. He'd go along with whatever she decided, but he'd sleep with wards if he was given his own room...

  11. Sereth had always enjoyed talking. So many assumed that the one speaking was simply giving information away, while the listener hoarded and revealed nothing. Though the Attack Leader would never be so bold as to call so large a group foolish, he would say it was a bit ignorant. As the details of life on the farm moved towards that of the taint, he could see the tension filling the man. He was close to turning tail and running back to the sheltered world of whtiebridge, as far from the Black Tower as he could manage. I'm sorry son, but it is far to late for that. Sereth turned to face the man before the gates, large stone monoliths without a seam. There could be little doubt what had been used to shape these structures. "I wish I could tell you that I was about to give you some final moment and turn back to the life you knew. The truth is son, that moment passed the moment I learned you could channel. I want you to understand something, a cruel but very true fact. We are first and foremost, soldiers. We are a military with the greatest weapon this world has seen since the Breaking of the World. You have been drafted." He let the words sink in, before waving his embroidered arm to the guards above. The gates slid open smoothly, without a single squeak of gears or chains. "Welcome to the Black Tower Soldier."

     

    ---

     

    He had handed the man off to a dedicated to be outfitted. He would gladly befriend and teach the man if such was desired, but the man needed to know that he would be on his own without an attack leader to coddle him every step of the way. They were brother's in arms, but he was the superior officer. The next day however, he had requested the man's presence in a field a distance from the main group of buildings. Again a dedicated escorted him, the silver pinned man not yet having the strength to open a gateway directly to the Attack Leader's location. Sereth hoped he would gain that strength, they could use more who could travel. Sereth had set up what would be a some what familiar stone table and stone chairs, with the same earthenware kettle and mugs. It was abrupt, but life was so within the tower. They simply didn't have time to coddle men to their full strength as the white tower did. Tarmon Gai'din approached, and each man's march to madness raced it.

     

    When the fellow Andorian approached, the Attack Leader gestured for the the seat opposite him and began to speak. "I am sorry for being harsh yesterday, but I feel I must be honest about the hardships of life here. There is however, joy. A joy unlike any you would have ever experienced, no matter the number of tankards swallowed or the women you've lead to bed. I speak, of Saidin. The male half of the one power, and the greatest gift the Creator could have bestowed upon us of the masculine gender." He let his words sink in for a moment, before continuing. "With it we can achieve both wondrous and horrible things. As for the mundane, well that we can accomplish with an efficiency that would send artisans and housewives across the land into a frothing rage," he gestured to the kettle, and promptly seized Saidin and brought the water to an instance boil. Using flows of air he lifted the lid and poured in the content of his prepared paper packets of tea mixtures. "I do hope you don't grow sick of tea by the end of your lessons, I'm quite fond of it myself." The kettle poured itself after brewing for only a few moments, a small club of hair pressing the packet to speed the brewing considerably. For the first time using his hands, Sereth took a sip of his brew and smiled. "Of course these tasks are fairly boring, but I demonstrate the ability to channel without causing any explosions." He chuckled, "Though we will get to those soon enough."

     

    He paused, allowing his words to sink in, Creator knows that the abrupt change in lifestyle was hard for any man to take in. Sereth had one trick up his sleeve to remove apprehensions about channeling however. That of course, was the Source itself. "Before you can begin, I must ask, are you familiar with the Ko'Di? Also known as the oneness, or the flame and the void? It is a valuable concentration tool often employed by swordsman. I ask, because we too make use of it. We empty ourselves of emotion and form a void within our minds, within this void, we find the source. Without the preparedness, we would be hard pressed to do battle with Saidin, to bend it to our will." Sereth took another break from speaking, "Before we begin, I am going to give you an opportunity to field any questions you have. Once we begin however, it will be time for absolute focus. I suggest you use this time wisely."

  12. Arcon was glad that his companion neglected to open up into her own background so easily. Having someone who could keep her control, even when baited with that most succulent trap of reciprocity, was something he could appreciate. Though he did find himself curious about her past, and truly Aes Sedai histories were a chore to delve into, this said volumes more than her favorite doll growing up ever could. As she spoke in turn he found his ire rising, though masked it well. She almost spoke as if she wished him caught and gentled in truth. Andorian... He cut off the thought, and nearly laughed at it. Well, I suppose I can forgive old prejudices. He let the more amusing thought touch his features, let her make of it what she would.

     

    "How did I escape? Well, that is actually a fairly simple tale. Silks, horses, and luck. You've been an Aes Sedai for a while, surely you can appreciate what something as simple as looking like you own the place and having the attire to back it up can do for you? Especially when you show up on a Saldean Charger in a huff. I made it north enough that I was picked up by a dreadlord, and then I was about as safe as a boy could be when in a fortress in the blight, surrounded by murderous dreadlords and the far greater threat. Fellow students." He chuckled at the last thought. Oh, the peace of the shadow held most back within the Fortress, but with darkhounds accidents were known to happen... "I tell you, it is a good thing that you ladies can't feel us channel though. I had a couple close calls in Saldea, tenacious those ladies in red."

     

    Arcon found himself appreciating her sharp questions, asking the poignant details while at the same time questing for a bit more information on her traveling companion. To his surprise he actually complied with the latter happily. The dreadlord had minions, puppets, and allies, but this one time he actually found himself liking a mark. She wasn't some student he had to coddle through the beginning steps of Daes Dae'mar, or some gargoyle standing upon the highest pillar, whose gaze he had to dance within to reach his goal. It was... a fairly new experience for the man. Of course no acts of selfless generosity were in the works, but a mutual respect wasn't out of the question. He could live with the consequences of that.

     

    He rode on in silence a moment, trying to keep his demeanor as approachable as possible while delaying her next series of questions. How much to tell her? He couldn't give her any names, that could expose other hearts within the tower. He knew by her fairly new induction into the Ajah that she couldn't possibly be the Head. Still, he had to feed her something or else she may very well loose her growing faith. He needed that, and found himself enjoying her company a bit to much to risk throwing her away. Even if he was confident he could find another Aes Sedai to snare in his webs. "The records already state that I was gentled. It is in there as a foot note on another entry. There are those who will vouch for it's authenticity within the Red Ajah and a suitable reason for why I was not brought within the tower walls." He turned to her, his tone growing serious. "I have very powerful friends up North, friends who are capable of putting just the right kind of pressure on the right people. You were brought in late, and aren't of the Red so your lack of foreknowledge of me won't be suspicious. No witch hunt for the Black will go up if flags are raised, but someone may find themselves in a very compromised position." He showed her one of his more charming smiles, "Can't say I mind the Red taking the fall for this. Old prejudices die slow deaths."

     

    He'd effectively stated that she would be on the farthest end of suspicion once word reached the tower of his return to Carhien. Setting that particular detail up had exhausted years worth of favors to the Mae'Shadar Council. Even before he'd secured her help he'd thought the price was worth paying. It added layers of insulation to his own tale, adding degrees of distance as the Aes Sedai hunted within their own ranks not for the shadow, but for simple corruption. As foolish as they were for believing that the Black Ajah was a myth, he very much doubted that any who had held the shawl for even a few years would think the whole lot a benevolent bunch above petty scheming. In fact he'd stake his horse that the opposite came closer to the truth. Personally he hoped she'd appreciate the cost of shielding her.

     

    "Have I answered your inquiries to your satisfaction, Seheria?" He paused, allowing her to respond, before continuing. "Perhaps you could return the favor? If I'm to be putting myself in the position to be called upon to return a favor of this worth, I must know, what makes this worth it? Though I hope to have changed your mind on the point, the fact is when I approached you I was little more than a strange man who happened to know your secret and had the ability to channel. I was unproven beyond my ability to find you, and asked you to put your life on the line to advance my schemes." He chuckled, "And you agreed before you knew I had counter measures in place. Though I am thrilled at your faith in me, is there something that I should know? Those without need seldom find themselves agreeing to propositions such as mine."

  13. Sereth gave the nervous boy a calming smile. “Didn’t bring anything? You brought yourself, and if you are what you hope to be, well… “ Sereth chuckled and smoothed back his brown hair, “Well, that should more than suffice.” Sereth poured his own cup of tea after making sure the boy had his own. He sipped it without any further additives, always preferring the natural flavors of the herbs to the prostrating sweetness of honey. When corned with that fact he’d once laughed and responded, “The world is sweet enough without your honey.” An odd sentiment from one who ran so willingly to battle, to take life, and to rend the very earth they trod upon.

     

    “I will make this very clear; the ability to channel is rare, very rare. Having enough power to actually accomplish something useful is rarer yet. “ As Sereth spoke he rose his palm face up over the table and seized Saidin. Immediately the world grew a more brilliant, more vibrant. The ice and fire in his blood every bit as sweet as the honey he denied himself, where the taint so vile that he was tempted to expose the contents of his stomach. Still it got to him, even though the battle raged in the back of his mind, second nature to the man. “There is a test, and I’m told a rather old one.” A small flame appeared over his open hand. “It is simple really, just focus on a weave, pardon me this is what we call something done with the power, and a resonance will be felt.” The flame darkened in his palm, not dulling, but shifting hue down to the same black as his coat.

     

    “You see, channeling is something that comes from deep within, it connects us to the pattern.” The Flame ceased it’s flickering, instead becoming a stylized black flame, one that could have been made of volcanic glass. “So, when you focus on the weave, you prepare your mind for a wonderful place.” His voice was pitched to be very soft, melodic. Hypnotic. The glass flame shifted shape, bending and taking the form of the dragon’s tear. “And if you can touch that place…” Sereth felt a resonance, almost like a bell going off deep inside the void from which he held Saidin. Sereth closed his palm, destroying the illusion. “I feel it. Though I doubt you have any true idea what you’ve just signed up for, welcome to the Black Tower my friend. We will leave shortly; do you have any business to attend before we set out?”

     

    Sereth chuckled, before adding, “And of course you are more than welcome to finish your tea.”

  14. Arcon actually let a smile slip onto his gaunt features at the Aes Sedai’s approach. He stepped away from the building, and walked forward to meet her. “You look beautiful, Seharia Sedai. And yes, I would rather enjoy setting out as soon as you feel up to it.” His voice had regained its court composure, each syllable annunciated perfectly. She had chosen to be polite with him. He could return that favor, manners were second only to the Great Game itself for a Carhien child. As she continued, Arcon gave her a half bow, and gestured to a nearby stable boy. He brought out a massive black stallion of Saldean stock. “Well, if we are in agreement to be off, let us be on our way. This will be my first return home in a couple years, and hopefully a good deal more welcoming than my last visit.” He let a chuckle roll off his tongue, the sound smoothly masculine. It was also quite well practiced.

     

    Recalling her comment about her horse being “unruly”, Arcon eyed the docile mare, before shifting his attention back to the Aes Sedai. “I wouldn’t wish to impose, but if you’d like I’d be more than willing to help you mount. Light only knows how anyone manages the task in skirts.” Another chuckle, this one more of a private joke between the two. He wanted to point out that though he chose a dark attire, he was more than competent enough to slip into more… acceptable turns of phrase. Whether she accepted the aide or not, Arcon was quickly mounted himself, and gestured to let her lead. He knew she’d have to be seen leading him out of town if his story was to have validity. He’d be only a step behind and off to the side, leading the superbly trained horse with his knees. One of his father’s favorite imports had always been horses, and Arcon had been taught to ride them from an early age. Being a noble’s son did have its perks.

     

    A few leagues distant from town, Arcon broke the silence. “Seharia, I hope you don’t mind me dropping the honorific, I thought perhaps we should get to know each other a bit better. In my experience these sort of relationships go a bit better if the two parties actually know the other. At least when they are between two parties of similar strength.” He moved his mount forward to keep pace with hers, both to make it easier to converse and to give no subtle symbols of subservience. He’d play the part well in public, but let her see his strength when they were alone. If she thought him weak, she’d be encouraged to use him or worse yet betray him. “I suppose I should start.” He took a brief pause, letting her give him her full attention. It wasn’t often one got a dreadlord to speak of their past.

     

    “As you’ve no doubt guessed I’m Carhien, of noble birth. Born to house DaDread some fifty winters ago. Father was a minor noble, but an ambitious one. Brilliant merchant, but very few took him seriously due to some failures on his own father’s part. He did everything he could to distill his skills and ambition into me. It worked for the most part, but he did leave me quite a bit of time alone.” He took a deep breath, for once not feigning distress, but using it none the less to sell his point. “This next part I say only, because it directly relates to why I need your help. My nanny was a friend of the dark, and as you can guess was the one to indoctrinate me into the Great Lord’s followers. She was discovered trying to poison my father, and when they sent her to the gallows I channeled for the first time. Though it was many years ago now, I doubt all have forgotten that incident. Especially since my father seems to have used rumors of having a channeling son to make an impression on his fellows. You don’t ignore someone who may have a son who could torch your entire residence in mere moments, or whatever other fancies people have about men who can channel.” He let his practiced chuckle roll off his tongue once again, “Brilliant really, how he turned it around on them. Denounce me, but bring me up casually in conversation. Especially when a rival was found with a slit throat. Publicly you see, I was quite the daddy’s boy.”

     

    He rode for a few moments more before continuing, “Unfortunately, if I am reenter myself into Daes Dae’Mar, gain access to my father’s wealth for local circles and do the Great Lord’s bidding as well as I am able, I will have to disabuse those rumors, no? I doubt it will hurt my father’s reputation; in fact many may very well be impressed at how he used the situation. We Carhien are a rather strange folk.” His spiel completed he turned his attention back to the road, but kept his demeanor open, encouraging her to either probe or speak as her heart desires. Of course, nothing he’d revealed wasn’t public knowledge, if dated, but the fact that he’d revealed anything could help their relationship. Among his kind every bit of personal knowledge was guarded and only doled out in the direst of situations. He doubted even Shadar knew this much of his history, and that man was as a son to Arcon.

  15. Sereth sat out in the middle of a field, in a stonework chair, at a stonework table. The designs were simple, flat top, single leg in the middle for the table, made of the granite of the deep earth. The chair was made from the same material and of a similar design. On the table sat a simple tea pot and earthen ware cups. Sereth tied off a weave heating the kettle and released Saidin. He had a broad smile on his face, and admired his work for a moment. While it was true that he wouldn’t win any awards for craftsmanship, building something simple and sturdy was one of his favorite applications of the power. Yes they were weapons, but no one said that was all they had to be. Besides, at the farm it was easy to ignore craters such as the one not twenty paces from his seat from where he’d pulled the table. Details, eh?

     

    Today’s joy however, was to be much greater than simple stone work. He was to teach a young man today, a new comer to the Tower. A Sander Filk if his memory served. A fellow Andorian, but not from Camelyn. He was to introduce the man to Saidin, to the life and death struggle that showed a man he was alive. It was a bittersweet moment, as so many were. For while he would give this man life, show him what it was to feel truly alive for the first time, he would be placing a timer on it. Was the taint worth it? Certainly. Still, one could not sentence men to death without feeling a bit of remorse. Well, at least I can’t… He shuddered at a memory, a small child burned with complex markings branded in her flesh. He’d never let himself get that far… His journals, they’d give an early alert.

     

    Sereth added some herbs to the pot, his smile coming back as he thought of the ingredients. A simple drink, as far as many of his herbal remedies go. It was simply intended to give a bit of energy, while focusing the mind. It always amazed him what a simple drink could do, yet he with the male half of the power would most likely never be able to accomplish. The Attack Leader glanced back towards the farm, his grin widening as he saw a black coated figure on the horizon. As the man drew closer the tea came to a boil and Sereth promptly cut the tied weave. “Welcome, my name is Attack Leader Sereth Arian, but as that is quite the mouthful, Sereth will be just fine. Before we begin, would you care for some tea?”

  16. Not to mention with names being stricken from the family tree its not like there are a long line of geneologies to keep track of here. A slightly higher percentage of damaane coming out of one part of the social structure would be significant if taken into account over generations, but as it isn't talked about and doesn't seem to be recorded, the overall effect would be reduced significantly.

  17. Its been a while since I've engaged in these arguments...

     

    Are you KuraFire?

     

    No, I'm just a returning nerd who hasn't posted since before sanderson took over. As for moradin's body being special, as far as I'm aware its just an attractive body with the right genome for channeling. Avi's kids being able to channel from so early... No idea why besides their parents both being channellera probably got them tested super early.

  18. Arcon Dadread, noble born of Carhien and a fully raised dreadlord, stood with his back against a common tavern not far from Tar Valon, the seat of the Aes Sedai and much of his people's troubles. He'd been standing there for quite sometime, his hand resting leisurely on the hilt of the long sword at his hip. It was a noble's weapon, of that there was little doubt. A simple crossguard, little more than a simple bar, but within its center sat an Onyx stone the size of a dock worker's thumb. The grip itself of black leather, contoured to fit his hand, and a spider resting at the top, hidden beneath his manicured hands. He'd decided to dress up a bit for the occasion, his worn traveler's cloak replaced with one of much higher quality, with a silk trim and a liner to match. What could be seen of his clothes matched the lining of his cloak, the only bits of color the sashes of his house. He bore several more than when he'd left. His father had done well for himself in his son's absence. It was almost to bad the man was growing old.

     

    Now, why the fancy clothes when one planned to set out on the road for the Great Lord only knew exactly how long, especially when he was currently alone with nary a guard in sight? Well, the answer to that was simple. One didn't underdress when meeting an Aes Sedai, well, at least not if one planned to make it known he was traveling with one. A cool smile crept along his lips. Yes, he'd received her letter and knew full well her dilemmas with leaving. He even understood the real reason behind the delay. Let her play her game, she was already snared in his web. Still, victory didn't mean one couldn't have a bit of sport. They were out of sight of the shining walls, but well within a day's ride. He needed to be seen being escorted from the city, she'd denied him that. True the friends of the dark would tell whatever tale he told them too, but it was an inconvenience. And so he stood, resplendent in his silks with a finely crafted blade standing outside the busiest tavern and inn, allowing himself to be seen. It'd reenforce his story, and not truly harm his companion's. It would however, be enough to show that he understood her games and her intent.

     

    There was afterall, little use in letting her think him a fool. At least not now, when what he asked could put her in very real danger if the wrong questions were asked by the right people. He needed her to believe in him, even if she'd already agreed to his favor. An Aes Sedai in his pocket was one fly he'd never been able to trap in his web. Now that he had one, well, he'd be a light-blasted fool to let her slip away. Especially for a reason so petty as her thinking him incompetent. Besides, the woman had at times been quite rude, if pragmatic. Perhaps a bit of a snub would set the story straight. They were, at least for now, equals in this game. They could run in circles nipping at each other's tails, something his court training left him quite proficient at, or they could put it all aside and work together. Her choice.

     

    Frankly, Arcon was happy either way, so long as the job got done.

  19. Its been a while since I've engaged in these arguments, but I think the body swap is quite plausible. For one, as has been stated about three bajillion times, the OP has shown the ability to play with people's souls through the creation of Ter'Angreal (The dream rings, the hedgehog, etc.). Second we know that channeling is an ability of the soul, as evidenced by the Forsaken coming back, and in one case a female wielding Saidin when the DO got lazy and couldn't find a dude to put him back in. There is even multiple instances of multiple souls housed in one body, soul merging, and soul ejecting, as we know from Luke/Isam and Fain. Considering they are already pulling bits of each other across the link, which is getting stronger and is without a doubt tied to Saidin, why is it inconceivable that when in each others presence they go the whole nine? There is even evidence suggesting that the bodies themselves are like conduits for the power, again through the Forsaken being reborn and needing to be brought back into channelers, and Logan's healing. Nyn reestablished a bridge between his body and his ability to channel. Continuing with the bridge metaphor, Rand and Moradin's soul get sucked into the link through intense use of Saidin in close proximity, get lost, and go down the wrong bridge. It doesn't have to be an unconscious thing, its not like Rand is saying "Well... I feel like thinking my archenemies thoughts... Hrrngh!" when he does think them.

     

    As a side note I think Fain will be used as the buffer to seal the DO's prison. Mordeth's taint and the DO have been shown to repel each other several times in the past, as can be seen through fain's existence, setting the two wounds against eachother, and of course the cleansing of Saidin.

  20. Sereth stood before the Inn, motionless and his eyes closed. His freshly cleaned and pressed coat lying still in the absence of a breeze. The stitching up the side seemed to weigh a thousand stone. I wonder if this will be the last day I wear this coat? He had been newly raised to his rank when he set out to find his old mentor, and with the time he’d spent gone he wouldn’t be surprised if the Storm Leader decided against him keeping his advanced rank. You had a good reason, and then another. He will understand. He opened his eyes, watching the men move around him, most with a look of confusion. He couldn’t find many familiar faces, but those he did welcomed him with a friendly nod. Most just looked with confusion. He wasn’t surprised; he’d always known his commanders on the farm.

     

    He took a moment to consider that. How could he lead these men to battle, when so many did not recognize him? Was he to rely on others vouching for him or the embroidery on his coat? No, I won’t be that man. I’ll show them I earned it. Sereth felt a renewed sense of determination at the thought. He wanted to lead these men, to be an instructor and a leader. He doubted Arath would take that chance away from him, but he knew that there was always that chance. He’d have to prove his worth to the man again.

     

    With his moment of preparation done, he pressed his calloused hands on the doors of the inn and stepped inside. It wasn’t hard to find Arath, he kept a table to himself in a corner. Sereth resisted the urge to take a steadying breath; weak was the last thing he wanted to appear. With sure steps he approached the man who had been one of his first teachers, and took the chair opposite him. “Arath, it is good to see you again. I’m glad you agreed to the meeting so quickly, I just got in last night.” His voice was much calmer than he felt, but he refused to be anything but the man Arath thought he’d been when he vouched for his promotion.

     

    “I would like to apologize for the length of time I was away and only sending a few communiqués. I was on his trail, and he was killing with the power. I hope you understand that I couldn’t let the trail go cold.” He voice gained a pained edge when he spoke of his mentor. It was only the night before that he had put one of the men who made him what he was in the grave. Light keep him for the man he was. “I did manage to track him down, he won’t be torching anymore inns, I can assure you of that.”

  21. OOC: Sorry for the wait, it has been busy IRL.

     

    Arcon nodded in her response to his veiled threat. Well, she has backbone. I will give her that. Good. Maybe she will be able to stare down the Court of Carhien… The gesture itself was as close to an apology that nearly anyone alive would ever receive from the man. He wasn’t one to admit that he had done wrong, well, at least not sincerely. Arcon hoped the deal wasn’t ruined due to him pointing out his advantages in outright confrontation, and his willingness to sell them to the highest bidder. Stil, maybe if she walks, I will get someone with real pull in the Tower… No no, that would be unfortunate. Those type demand payment, not ask favors.

     

    As the Aes Sedai continued, a hint of a smile crossed the one-eyed dreadlord’s lips. She agreed to his proposal, and in such a deal the first favor is almost guaranteed to be accepted. And today I take the first step towards a spot on the council. “I’m glad to hear you agree. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I do have something in mind. As agreed, nothing to grandiose. No risk to your person unless there happens to be a group of bandits who can take on two fully trained channelers.” He allowed a chuckle to slip past his lips. He doubted such brigands had ever lived.

     

    Arcon drew himself back in after his joke, slipping into a pleasant tone one would expect to be used on an equal. Would the dreadlord ever think of the Aes Sedai as such? Probably not, but she would be given every opportunity to earn that respect. “All I need from you is your ageless face. All good citizens know two things, there are no dark friends among the Aes Sedai, and they can not lie. I plan to return home after a rather long hiatus. For those who remember my crimes, it would go a long way in earning a pardon if they knew that I had been brought before the reds, and subsequently gentled.” He said the last word with disgust. It was a disgusting term. A man without the power was less of a threat, but put good steal in his hands, or the right ear to whisper into…

     

    “I’ll be leaving within the month. Though I’d like to leave immediately, I understand one of your status can not uproot and leave without causing a bit of a fuss. If you agree, I would very much appreciate haste in this manner.” Arcon stood, and made a flourish. A piece of high quality paper appeared in his hand, and he extended it to the lady. “A way to contact me. Use the usual code phrases to pass the message, and it will reach me I’m sure.” The paper contained the name of a friend of the dark. “Good evening, Seheria Sedai.” With that, he cut his ward of silence and departed. His business was done.

  22. Arcon noted every facial expression, and inwardly felt a mix of both pleasure and disgust. She was no fool, that much was obvious. It was also the source of both of his emotions. Having such an individual as an ally gave him more options, and a far more reliable lever, should a fulcrum present itself. Unfortunately, he couldn't waltz in and get what he wanted with a few non-committal responses. Use what you have Arcon, to get what you need. His father's words, his impending return brought many such phrases to his mind. Are you growing nostalgic? He wondered to himself. He quickly banished the thoughts, he'd need to focus for this to go well.

     

    The dreadlord listened to her words, and for once let his mask of perfect control break. He let a sigh slip through his lips, and he reached for his repulsive drink. Taking a shallow sip, he set it back down onto the table with a grimace. "What benefit do I get for seeking out the newest member of the Black? Quite simply my dear, you don't have the allies that you need." He let the words hang for a moment. Every bit of finesse his father drilled into him had to be abandoned, in order to be embraced. "In my time as a dreadlord, rivals have tried to kill me more times than I care to recollect. The shadows are deep, Seheria Sedai, and they are blacker than your new shawl. Our people are not known for suffering rivals to live, and I am willing to bet that within the tower things are the same. You want to know how I've stayed alive?" For the first time he pulled back the cowl of his hood, looking into her eye with his one good. The scar that ran from his forehead to jaw line, and even well below that, was prominent. The eye patch he wore only accentuated it. True, he had gained one of those marks before he had been a dread lord, but she didn't need to know that. No, he planned to use his disfigurements to strengthen his point. "By having ties to people who can make threats, and can follow through with them. By surrounding myself with people who have power that others covet, or by using people's contrived notions of those facts."

     

    He took another drink of his ale, dearly wishing for a map with X's marked for every brew house on the continent. He would see them all destroyed had he that information. "If you want to know what I get out of this, I have already said it. I need some one with an ageless face, someone whom the entire world knows can not speak a lie." His voice leveled out, growing far quieter and holding an edge that had been missing before. "I need someone to tell a story, and I need that person to need me. Even wise dreadladies, whom spend every day within the halls of the Fortress with dreadlords have some measure of fear for us. I know when you embrace Saidar Aes Sedai." He seized Saidin, drawing on the source, but doing nothing with the power. He wanted to make it harder to try to shield him, nothing more. "But you have no idea if I draw upon Saidin. I should think your sisters would be decidedly uncomfortable if they knew you had a dreadlord in your pocket, no?"

     

    Arcon pushed away his mug, having drunk enough not to draw the suspicion of the servers. He gave her a moment to consider his words, and to subdue any urges she might have. Males who could channel were rare, very few Aes Sedai ever encountered them. The cultural stigma of them ran deep, even for those whom had embraced the Great Lord. "That fear can be used, and all I ask is that you maintain that mask that you have learned as an Aes Sedai. If you refuse, there are others I can speak with who will not." He let the barely veiled threat hang in the air. By now her experience in the tower would teach her to read the true meanings behind people's words. I can channel, and you would never see me coming. Do you wish a rival to hold that dagger, or yourself? "Oh, and for the Great Lord's sake, next time you buy me a drink, I'd prefer it had a vintage."

  23. Sereth stepped through the familiar slash, his silk coat fluttering meekly from the breeze. When he released the weave it settled. He shook his head; it was an odd night for the weather to be so still. It seemed the world should be in tempest. His boots crunched through the snow as he approached his home, pushing open the door and taking a moment to take it all in. It has been a long time… He felt an odd duality. So much had changed, the summer heat finally breaking, his promotion to Attack Leader, and… other things. Yet still, his home remained almost exactly as he had left it, a state of familiar disarray, and he knew he’d be able to find any book he owned. Question not the chaos… He nearly winced at the thought, and started weaving gentle flows of air, attempting to clean the thin layer of dust from his belongings.

     

    ---

     

    “Covai, I have to leave for a bit.” Sereth stood before his superior, arms lying laxly at his sides, standing with obvious tension. He was afraid the man would say no. “I had a mentor as a child, a philosophy teacher. He… He was the one who told me I could channel. He was always so knowledgeable, and seemed to understand principles that could be of use to us. I want to track him down, he could help us. I know it.” He spoke with the conviction he felt, and the words he had rehearsed. Though in truth, he simply wanted to find his old friend. It had been far too long, and he was curious. How had he been? Still mentoring over eager students in Andor? To his surprise, the storm leader agreed. Sereth bid his friends farewell, promising to return as soon as possible, and set off for his family home. Odd, how I’ve never even thought of how close I was to home…

     

    His arrival was met with mixed feelings. His mother wrapping her arms around her son, embracing him and telling him how much she’d missed him. His father a bit more subdued, curtly shaking his hand. Sereth couldn’t say he was surprised. He’d just up and left his family, taking the education that they had bought him and joining the tower. All on the whim of a man they considered mad. The fact that this same son now openly wielded the One Power… Well he hoped his father would come around. “I’d love to stay folks, but unfortunately I am on assignment. My philosophy teacher…” He paused, noticing a stiffening of both parent’s spines. “I need to track him down. I believe he was a channeler. I need to find him.” For the first time in his life he saw anger in his father’s eyes, and a cold malice was in his voice. “Get out Sereth. We won’t have anything to do with that man. Ever again.” Sereth was shocked, looking to his mother, but she didn’t repeal the statement. She always did differ to him…

     

    “I.. alright. I just wanted to know where he was. I’m sorry.”

    “Get out!”

     

    Heart broken, he left his family home. A bit down the street, he heard footsteps and turned, instinctively reaching for the source. It was his mother. “He is gone son, and I’m sorry, but he wasn’t the man we thought he was. When you left… “ She had to take a moment to collect herself. “I heard a rumor that he was headed to Carhien.” With that she quickly hugged her son, and left, leaving him dumbfounded. Still, he opened a gate to the city.

     

    ---

     

    “I’ve followed you all over this continent teacher. What the hell have you become?” The man before him was ragged, wearing a cowled great cloak against the chill. The man laughed, spreading his hands out to the night air. “I am what I have always been boy. A man with The Power, and an idea. No, I believe it is you who have become something. Focus, close your eyes and tell me. It will be just like old times.” Sereth almost did it, but reminded himself of the rumors he had heard, the things he had seen. He had been away from the tower to long, but the search consumed him. How could the gentle philosophy instructor be the creature standing before him? At least he’d sent word. The nature of his search had changed, and he was hunting a killer.

     

    “What have I become? While I suppose I’ve become a man with the Power, and an ideal. An ideal that it should be used to defeat the shadow, and help save this world.” His teacher snickered at the words, “So smart yet so ignorant. I’d thought that by now you’d know. This world isn’t worth saving.” Sereth gritted his teeth; he didn’t want this to happen. “You’re wrong.” At the words the first hint of anger snapped out from the man, and Sereth felt him seize Saidin. Instantly he did the same. “Question not the Chaos, boy! I am not wrong! I am never wrong! It is the failings of idiots who can’t see the truth! I’ll show you! ” The man wove fire and earth, splitting the earth and sending globes of melted rock at his former student. Sereth easily batted them aside with clubs of air. He nearly sobbed, taking this as the conformation of what he’d feared. The man had lost himself to the taint, that brilliant mind completely consumed by the Dark One. He should have known, after seeing those corpses. Burned to cinder, each one a different symbol carved into the ash. Sereth had recognized them from his days in this man’s tutelage.

     

    Again the man came at him, weaving fire and earth with abandon, cutting the ground and trying to burn Sereth. He countered with thick slicing weaves, and advanced on the man. He had never had the grace with the power that those like Covai or Arath possessed, but he had experience with dueling other channelers. He launched a brutal counter assault, sending corkscrews of air laced with fire, creating lances to impale and burn the man he’d admired. The man dodged, again and again, sending back his flimsy fire weaves. Eventually Sereth cornered him, and his teacher fell, exhausted. Sereth summoned his full strength, slamming a shield onto the man and cutting him off from the source. “I came here to find a man worth taking to the tower. A man to teach thought to the men there, give them a reason to live for tomorrow. To think beyond the last battle, and what our return as men who wield the power would mean. Instead… I find you.” His hand fell to his sword. He’d been taught to use it so well over his time at the tower. “You are a murderous wretch Teacher, a man without conscious or purpose. No, you are so much worse…” He remembered the last corpse… So small, how had he not burned the teddy with the weave? “You are a slayer of children and for that,” Sereth drew his sword, raising it high; “you will die!” The blade fell, the moonlight shimmering off the piece of forged steel. Red misted the pure snow.

     

    ---

     

    Sereth Arian stood in his room, still holding a dripping blade. He took a deep breath, and applied the same weave he’d used to clean his house on the sword. He put the droplets of blood outside with the dust, before sheathing the weapon. He methodically took off his boots, and headed to his sleeping quarters. It had been to long since he had slept in his own bed, though he doubted he’d sleep well now. At least unassisted. I’ll have to report in tomorrow. The thought galvanized him. He’d have to be alert to stand before the Storm Council, and he rummaged until he found a small packet of herbs. With Saidin it was easy to boil the water and make a sleeping draught. His last thought before going to sleep was simple, I’m home.

  24. Arcon’s heart leapt into his throat as the serving lady returned, filling his ale back to brimming. Though he felt like seizing Saidin and burning the place down, he graciously thanked her, and turned his eyes to the woman who sat across him. He took a moment to appreciate her dress and mannerisms, noting that she seemed to dress far above him. His mind cycled through possibilities. Would that quality have been less noticeable in this crowd? He scanned the room and found no other gem stone coated cloaks. No, then I suppose there are only two options. She either blundered into choosing a noteworthy style, or she is sending a message. His uprising forced him to believe the latter. You should have expected this, she is Aes Sedai afterall.

     

    His inspection of her continued for a few moments. He noted how young she appeared, though in truth that meant very little for an Aes Sedai. She was Andorian, which would only work in his favor. Oh father, how did it go? Like an Andorian in a council meeting? The phrase had similar connotations to another, like a bull in a china shop. Still the people were known for their pride, and being Aes Sedai would only enhance it. Self suffering fools… He’d have to play to that. Caution, and allow her to think she had the upper hand. His plan took less than three heartbeats to form, it was time for the Great Game to begin.

     

    Arcon gave her a measured nod, with holding a smile for now. He had to give the appearance of respect, and that he thought of themselves as equals. Briefly he seized Saidin, weaving a ward to silence their conversation within the booth, and alert him if any drew near. He tied the weaves and ceased his grapple with the power, long since shielded from the Taint that the Great Lord had placed upon it. “We can speak freely, Seheria Sedai. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Arcon Dadread, originally from Carhien, but have long since made my nest in the Fortress within the Blight.” He took a brief pause to allow her to acknowledge him and his rank. “I’ve come to you for a very simple reason. Due to your status as Aes Sedai, you wield a certain amount of political power. I, as Dreadlord, control another.”

     

    Arcon paused, sipping on his ale and hiding a grimace. It wouldn’t do to have that pesky serving woman interrupt them; as such he had to maintain appearances. I swear I will throw every brewmaster to the same beast I feed Mr. Sweeper. It had been years since he had thought of that atrocious first mate, and he was surprised to find he had to suppress the urge to set his jaw. He would get his revenge, but first he had to get to a place where he could terrorize the man without fear of recrimination. Step one was this meeting.

     

    “I will make this very clear for you; I propose that we act together. You will have a friend in the Fortress, and I in the tower. It will give us an edge, and the Great Lord knows that we need every one we can find.” He hoped the last remark not to subtle; he was quietly pointing out the new color of her shawl. Yes, Arcon could make a very powerful ally for the new Black Sister. “Nothing to grandiose, but in times of need, where say our particular spheres of influence collide unfavorably, we call upon the other. At the very least, having one with my particular,” he paused for a moment, emphasizing his next word, “masculine traits could come in handy. Let alone all of the friends I have access to.” He stressed that word as well, referring to his greater access to shadow spawn, and contacts with circles of dark friends outside of Tar Valon. He had to sell himself to the woman, forsaking his normal approach of double talk and misted meanings. He was a merchant, presenting his wares, and if there was one rule of that trade, it was not to show how badly the customer’s coin was needed.

  25. Arcon’s finely manicured hands pressed firmly upon the polished wooden door to the tavern. He tried to enter with little fanfare, and thought he chose the location fairly well for such a reaction. His silks were hidden under a woolen cloak, and the silk patch replaced with one of far lesser quality. Though of course, his hood was up. The tavern was far from the seediest in town, though honestly in Tar Valon even that wasn’t much to sniff at. It was however, that wonderful middle ground where a man and a woman could be expected to meet. He knew his slender build, and if anyone looked too closely, youthful looking face would only work in his favor tonight. Let them assume I’m out on some trist. As long as she is smart enough to keep her face hidden, all should go well. He hoped the young woman would show at least that much wisdom.

     

    As he passed a serving woman, Arcon put a bit of a nervous tremor in his voice. “Please, may I get some ale for my nerves? I’m meeting someone here tonight…” He nodded towards a booth. The woman smiled a sly grin, “Of course sugar, but if it doesn’t work out you let me know.” She closed with a wink, and the dreadlord actually managed to fake a shy response. She giggled, and he made his way towards the booth, making sure to sit out of the deepest shadows, preferring to let the lady take that. All it would take was one peek, and he would draw far too much attention. The serving girl returned a few minutes later with a frothing glass mug. The nobleman managed to suppress the urge to grimace, and thanked her. “She didn’t stand you up, did she?” Arcon laughed nervously, she’d regret it if she did. “No, it’s early yet. Still plenty of time.” A pouty lip and a shrug was his response. What some people are willing to do to get a tip around here…

     

    Arcon settled deeper into the booth, managing to sip the ale without emptying the contents of his stomach. I swear, if the Great Lord had coated Saidin in this filth men would have finished the job at the breaking… He sighed, doing what he could to avoid growing impatient. The friends of the dark said the message was successfully delivered to a new inductee into the Black Ajah. He needed someone young, someone he could sink his fangs into. God only knew how long he’d need the woman, especially if his plan to make his grand return home was to come to fruition. An ageless face would be needed to validate the story he planned to tell, of a gentled son returning home after so many years on the run. His father would have to do the rest, and Arcon found that he actually had faith in the man.

     

    And so the spider sat, sending out the first strands of black silk, and began to weave.

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