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Arath Faringal

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  1. As far as days on the street went, these last few hadn't been so bad. A trifle busy perhaps, but he couldn't complain. Much. One sore point had been missing his promise to that Lugarder girl to show her the city. His business the next day had become a little bit involved, and he hadn't been able to get away. Two days on a job, and another one laying low ... by the time he'd gone to see Michelle, she'd moved out of the inn. And the innkeeper had been less than forthcoming with exactly where she'd gone. And so Arath had simply returned to his old routine. Surviving day to day. He had kept an eye out just in case he ran across Michelle, and had even walked into a bakery or two wondering if he might stumble upon her. In the mean time, he was living quite well. Compared to the usual. He'd even bought a new shirt. It was a muddy brown color. Durable, and good for blending in among crowds. And not too bad at hiding the inevitable street filth he'd pick up, just in case he ran across the girl again. Half a week or so after that first encounter with Michelle, their paths crossed again. Under slightly better circumstances this time. Arath caught sight of a familiar face walking down the street, a basket in hand. Seeing as he had nothing else to do at the moment, Arath decided to follow her for a bit and see where she ended up. He stalked her through a few streets, making careful note of the bakery she stopped at, then followed her around as she stopped at a few more food vendors. Once she began making her way out of the market areas, Arath decided it was time to say hello. Weaving his way through the crowd, Arath made his way up the street, quickly passing by Michelle without being noticed, then finding a good place to lean against a wall where she was bound to notice him. He'd much rather that she think she'd found him, rather than him stalking her around the city.
  2. Arath was having a little trouble readjusting his mental state for a true bonding again. Not that this was very similar to the last time he had been in this situation ... Zarinen wasn't going out of her way to cause him distress, but the sensation was unnerving. Odd as it felt for him though, what he could feel through the bond was far more agitated. The Asha'man was mildly surprised to see a calm, serene looking woman when he walked through her door. He'd expected her to be bouncing off the walls or some such thing if her mental state was any indicator. Arath simply took it as evidence that no man, even one with an actual view of her mind, could understand women. "Arath. Please, make yourself at home." Zarinen waved him to the other overly ornate chair across from her, then gestured to the wine. "Help yourself." Wondering what her game was, because all Aes Sedai certainly had some sort of game going on, Arath poured for himself, taking in the room he found himself in. Extravagent wouldn't begin to describe it. He'd thought his own home was fairly nice. Plain, but a good sort of place. This one room made it look like something out of Illian's Perfumed Quarter. He could only imagine what the rest of it looked like. Taking his seat and a sip of his wine, Arath turned his attention to his ... what was the proper term for her? The title for the last Aes Sedai he'd bonded had been 'captive' but that certainly didn't fit. Warder didn't seem like a good choice either. Bonded just sounded too ... intimate. Well ... that was a thought for another time. Right now, he had business. "Well, the rest of the Guardian Council has been told of the arrangement. Some of them weren't too happy about it, but it's been accepted. The Lord Dragon has been informed as well. He was a little amused by the outcome, but he finds it acceptable. "I suppose," he said, shifting in his chair, "that we need to flesh out the terms of the agreement a little. Set some rules. I'm still not sure what it is you expect of us, or why you wanted this arrangement in the first place, so I'm honestly at a loss of where to begin." Setting his wine glass down on a side table, Arath leaned forward and stared at his host. "So ... where should we start?"
  3. Arath took the abuse stoicly, flinching at some of the more well placed attacks, but otherwise holding his ground. Eventually, thankfully, she began to tire. The punching, scratching, and kicking all died down, and screams of anger were replaced with sobs. Eventually she gave up entirely and started talking again. "He tried to.. to take advantage of me. How could he do that, Arath? And how could you let him? Where were you? I called for you, and you... you weren't there!" "I know ... I'm sorry," he said gently. "I came as soon as I could find you. I didn't know where you were." There was a solution to that, but he really doubted she would like it. Especially right now. He really wasn't quite sure how much he would like that solution at the moment either. Maybe he would bring it up later. Much later. "You know I'd never hurt you." He hugged her close, for once not worrying about how awkward it made him feel. "You know that, right?"
  4. Arath beat a hasty retreat from Michelle's room after making his goodbyes. That hug had definitely not been something he'd expected. It felt strange. It wasn't unpleasant in its way, but he'd felt terribly ... awkward. Ignoring an inquisitive look from the innkeeper and the cook who were arguing over something in the common room, Arath headed out the door and quickly made his way back into the outer portion of the city. Once back in more familiar parts of town, Arath began hunting for a good place to spend the night. All the while, he was unable to shake the thought of the strange little baker girl out his mind. He would definitely have to keep an eye on her ... he had a feeling that she'd be running into him again whether he wanted it or not.
  5. Once again, Michelle didn't fail to confuse Arath completely. One moment she was holding his hand tightly, and the next she was throwing herself off the bed, charging out the door, and barricading herself in his room, screaming at him as though he'd been the one to attack her! How was he supposed to deal with that? After a few unsuccessful minutes of trying to persuade her to open the door, Arath leaned back against the wall, at a total loss. If anything she sounded even more hysterical now. She was going to end up hurting herself if she kept this up. For a moment he considered going to one of the healers for help, but quickly discarded the thought. The last thing she needed right now was yet another strange man channeling at her. He certainly wasn't getting anywhere with her from this side of the door though. That much was clear. Plan of action decided on, Arath called through the door one more time. "Michelle, please. Let me in. I'm not going to hurt you." "GO AWAY!!!" she sreamed, thumping on the door. That thump was what Arath was looking for. If she was next to the door, then he could safely Travel inside. Splitting the air with the familiar threads of spirit, he quickly jumped through the gateway and let it snap shut on his heels. He definitely didn't want her hurting herself trying to escape through the portal. Michelle didn't take well to his sudden appearance. An ear splitting shriek and a well placed kick at his knee slowed him down for moment, but he quickly crossed the distance and fell to the floor next to her, pulling her protesting form into his arms again. She didn't respond well. She flailed around, shrieking loudly and trying to hit him in any way she could, scratching and clawing with her nails. All he could do was keep his face clear, hold on tightly, and whisper reassurances to her. Light send she grew tired of this quickly and started acting rationally again.
  6. "I certainly wouldn't mind having my clothes back on ..." Michelle laughed at him again and tossed him the clothes. Doubting that she'd be giving any more privacy this time around, Arath stuggled to pull his clothing on under the blanket. While pulling his breeches on, the blanket around his shoulders slipped away, leaving his scar exposed to Michelle's gaze. With a hiss, he pulled the blanket back up and fumbled for his shirt, hoping that she hadn't seen. Most people reacted badly to the thing. Stuffing his feet back into his boots, Arath wondered where he'd go. Probably somewhere that would end up with him getting all dirty again. He'd have to make sure he didn't get tricked into coming up here again next time. Next time ...? He supposed there would have to be a next time. He did owe her for saving his neck back there, and she'd been more than nice enough for him to repay her that much at least. "I ... guess I'll see you around then. I have some things I need to do tomorrow, but after that ... I can show you the city." He looked out the window, out into the city. "I guess I know where you're staying, so I can come find you. I'm a little harder to track down ... hopefully," he added with a grin.
  7. "Nah ... I'm not much for horses. I've never really left the city much, but I'm fine with that. I just don't think I'd be much of a tour guide. I'll show you what I can though." Arath shrugged under the blanket again. "What kind of things would you want to see? There's a little bit of everything in this city."
  8. Carefully weaving a complex net of spirit and water, Arath checked Michelle for any injuries. He knew she probably wouldn't want the One Power to be used on her at all, especially after what had just happened, but she didn't seem to be in any condition to respond to his questions. Besides, she wouldn't be able to feel the delving at all. Satisfied that she was unharmed, Arath released the source and held her tightly. Not that there was really any other way of doing things. He doubted he could break her grip on him without using the Power. Not quite sure what else to do, he simply wrapped his arms around her and patted her back. "You're okay now. He can't hurt you." Arath still wasn't sure who he was, but that was a concern for later. Right now, he needed to get Michelle away from here. Struggling to his feet was a challenge with her clinging to him as tightly as she was, but eventually he managed to gather her up in his arms and stand. Reaching out with Saidin once again, he split the air with spirit weaves, rotating open a gateway directly into her room. Before stepping through, he looked back at the body which was growing cold on the forest floor. Weaving air and fire, he fixed a light globe into the air a dozen paces or so above the corpse. Somebody would need to be able to find it later, to identify who the man was. Stepping through the portal, Arath let the grisly scene disappear behind him. Kneeling down next to the bed, he deposited Michelle on the mattress. "Hey ... it's okay now. I told you I wouldn't let anyone hurt you."
  9. Arath rubbed his temples as he wove the gateway to take him home. Basic Saidin training was usually rough, but this latest group of Soldiers seemed particularly stupid. Had he ever made such a fool of himself in front of his own instructors? He kind of doubted it. It took a particular kind of dumb to set yourself on fire instead of lighting the candle five feet in front of you. And it had happened twice today! The first thing Arath noticed when he entered was the quiet. Michelle was not in the kitchen as she usually was, nor was she in the sitting room with one of his books. That left ... the bath. She'd spent most of her time since their sword lesson soaking in the tub, and asking either himself or Tai to reheat the water. He'd been trying to figure out a weave that he could leave tied off to keep the water warm, but so far hadn't been able to find one that didn't eventually cause the water to boil. Maybe he could build a ter'angreal to do it? Knocking on the door first, Arath poked his head cautiously around the door and peeked in. The bath tub was empty too. Strange ... perhaps she was upstairs? Taking his time, Arath made his way up the stairs, stopping at his own room first to drop off his sword belt. Sword ... that made him think. Knocking on Michelle's door and hearing no response, Arath opened it up and took a look inside. Michelle was nowhere to be found, and the sword he had brought her the day before was not resting next to her desk. She must have gone out to practice with it. Smiling to himself, Arath closed the door and made his way back down stairs. She would probably be back soon enough, but if she was feeling well enough to go try on her own, maybe she wouldn't mind another lesson? Grabbing a pair of practice lathes from his office, Arath headed out the front door and started jogging westward toward Tai's clearing. He couldn't risk travelling, since he didn't know exactly where she would be, but it wasn't far. He liked to run anyway. As he approached the edge of the clearing, something shiny caught his eye near the base of one of the trees. Bending down to examine it, he frowned in sudden recognition. Michelle's sword. At the same instance, he heard a horrified shriek come from the woods on the opposite side of the clearing. "ARATH!" Dropping the blade back into the snow, Arath sped off toward the source of the screams. He almost missed her entirely. Another scream, and the sound of a man far to his right pulled him around, and through the trees he saw them. Michelle, suspended in mid air, and someone Arath didn't immediately recognize. Not that it really mattered who he was. Arath was going to kill him. Charging forward, Arath siezed Saidin and channeled fire. A tightly wrapped missile of flame darted out of his outstretched hand and streaked toward the rogue Asha'man. The enemy channeler felt the surge of Saidin behind him, and managed to get a shield up in time, deflecting the small fireball to the side and launching a counter attack of his own. A large ball of fire hurtled toward the Attack Leader, but he simply reached out with threads of spirit and cut it apart. It vaporized harmlessly in front of him, and he quickly charged through the spot it had been. Extending those same weaves forward, Arath sliced apart everything the other man tried to weave. The Asha'man looked enraged as the distance closed between them. Still trying to fire off an attack weave, he drew his sword and charged forward himself. Unphased, Arath channeled fire again, and a pair of burning red blades burst into being in his hands. The Asha'man blinked for a second in dumb surprise, but that was all he had. The enraged Attack Leader wove again, earth and fire, and another tiny missile fired from his extended sword. The flaming dart buried into the other man's chest, a moment before the first blade sliced clean through his sword and slashed across his chest. A half breath later, Arath's second sword flashed out and took off his head. Before the dead man even hit the ground, Arath had charged past him to where Michelle hung helplessly from the air. Letting his fire blades dissolve, he reached out and severed the ties that held her, catching her in his arms as she fell to the ground. "Michelle? Are you okay?"
  10. Friends? The thought almost seemed completely foreign to him. He couldn't remember really having any friends. Even as a child in Dramon's Glen, he'd been the boy with no mother and a drunkard father. The other children had just made fun of him, when they hadn't ignored him entirely. Rumors about the scar he carried certainly hadn't helped matters. Things hadn't changed much since he'd been in Caemlyn. Thieves and cutpurses didn't have friends. They had loose contacts who helped each other out from time to time. Actually trusting someone as asking for a knife in your back. And yet, the idea didn't seem so ludicrous coming from Michelle. She sounded sincere anyway. She really didn't want to see him in a prison cell. That was kind of ... surprising. As he thought that over, Michelle finally named her price for her assistance. Arath considered her request for a moment. As far as demands of payment went, that certainly wasn't too bad. He shrugged. "I don't really know where you might find a job. I've not exactly had a lot of luck in that area. But I could show you around a little if you want. At the very least I can let you know which areas you should probably avoid."
  11. Surprised by the kiss, and even more so by her quick retreat, Arath quietly decided that he would never understand women. Especially this one. Oddly enough, Arath didn't feel the slightest bit awkward about what she said next, even though it set Michelle to blushing furiously. Maybe because of that fact. With a grin, he rose to his feet and voiced his agreement with the idea. Of seperate baths. It didn't take long for them to stow the mostly uneaten food back in the basket and to gather up the blanket and discarded clothing. With a final glance around the clearing to make sure they had everything, Arath opened a gateway directly to his Travelling room. Allowing Michelle to jump through first, Arath followed through with the blanket and clothing, careful to keep the bundle away from the edges of the portal. Taking the basket from her, Arath made a quick detour to drop it off in the kitchen, dumping the blanket and dirty clothing into a pile at the bottom of the stairs before making his way down the hall to the bath room. By the time he arrived, Michelle was already filling the giant tub with the mechanism leading to the cistern. Arath couldn't help but chuckle to himself as he saw her sitting on the edge of the tub, covered in mud. He imagined that he didn't look any better, but it was still a funny site. She was dirtier than he'd been when they'd met in Caemlyn years before. She glared at him, demanding to know what he found so amusing. He just shook his head and laughed. "This just looks awfully familiar. Is this the part where I count to three, and you scramble into the tub? Your shirt looks as though it needs cleaning."
  12. Arath wasn't quite sure what to say to all of that. Or if he quite believed it. Nobody did things like this just out of the goodness of their heart. Then again, he'd never quite heard of anything like this ever happening before. Blackmailing a stranger into taking a bath and fixing his clothes? Maybe she was just crazy ... Silence stretched across the room for a long time while Arath thought. It had been a long time since anyone had shown him any kindness at all. Far longer than his stay in Caemlyn even. He wasn't quite sure how to handle it. Part of him still wondered what she expected from him in return. For all he knew, she was an Aes Sedai witch, come to steal his soul and feed it to the Shadowspawn in the blight. He kind of doubted that, but you never could tell. What was more surprising, and suspicious, was her being a Murandian. Never having met one before, Arath could only go by the rumors he'd heard from people around the capital. Even among thieves and lowlifes, Murandians had a bad reputation as being dishonest. Lugarders especially so. But she didn't seem so bad, even if her accent was a little funny. Quite pretty really. Arath caught himself just staring at her ... not only trying to figure her out. When she glanced his way, he quickly averted his gaze. Pulling the towel tighter around himself, he settled back into the wall. "Thank you," he finally said softly. "For ... everything."
  13. Arath turned his head and looked down at Michelle for a moment. "Of course I would. I don't think it will come to that any time soon, but I wouldn't let him harm you." He didn't want to state the obvious, that her sword would be next to worthless if THAT situation ever arose. She was probably already very much aware of that. "I don't think you have to worry so long as you don't goad him too much. I really don't know why you two ... why you can't work things out." He'd been about to say 'why you two don't get along' but that was a bald faced lie. Starting your relationship off with death threats and a bucket of freezing water didn't make for a very friendly environment. With a sigh, Arath wrapped his arm behind Michelle and squeezed her shoulder. "But yes. So long as you live in my house, I will never let anything hurt you." After a few moments, he realized what he was doing and almost jumped away. But she didn't seem to mind at all ... he left his arm where it was. "Besides," he continued with a laugh, "I think Tai is just as afraid of you and your frying pan as you are of him."
  14. Arath considered his options. Stay in the filthy, and rapidly cooling bath water, or sit huddled in a towel until his clothes dried. Which might be a couple of hours, given that they weren't hanging in a particularly warm place. Neither option sounded very appealing, but at least the towel would be warmer. And cleaner. Leveling a glare at Michelle, he replied, "Fine. I'll take the towel." He waited for a moment, but the strange girl didn't make any effort to move, much less leave the room. "Soooo ... will you at least turn around or something?" She laughed again, burn her, but finally rolled her eyes and turned around. In a flash, Arath leapt from the tub and snatched the towel from the back of a chair. Thank the Light, the towel was very large, and he was able to decently cover himself with it wrapped around his shoulders. Provided he didn't move around too much. Checking over his shoulder to make sure she wasn't peeking, Arath quickly toweled off most of the water, then plopped himself down onto the floor against a wall, in an effort to cover himself up better. "You know," he said thoughtfully as she turned around again. "I've met some strange people before. But you ..."
  15. Arath was a little surprised when Michelle asked for his help to clean off the mud. She was fairly understanding of most uses of the Power, but she usually was a little less than willing to have it directed at her in any way, shape, or form. Not that there were really many other options right now, unless she wanted to scrub clean in the snow. Wielding fine threads of Saidin, he deftly removed the mud from her skin and clothing. As it fell away, he caught it all up in flows of air and whisked it all into the air above her head. The mud ball hung ominously until she happened to glance up and notice the thing. She glared at him, but other than that she seemed to ignore it. Another surprise. A few moments later, Arath melted away the snow and baked the moisture from enough of the ground for Michelle to spread the blanket. Cleaning himself off, he joined her on the ground, more than ready for a nice peaceful lunch. It caught him off guard (though he was no longer sure why), when she leaned into him, her head on his shoulder. Despite himself, he tensed up, unsure of what to do. It wasn't so much that he didn't like it, because he most certainly did, but he had absolutely no idea what she was up to. That was typically the case with Michelle, ever since the day they had met. He couldn't tell if she was doing it because she had certain intention, or if it was simply a comfortable way to sit. Or she might just be teasing him ... something she had always been incredibly adept at. Doing his best to ignore the situation, Arath tried to shift his focus elsewhere. Seeing as how this was supposed to be lunch time, that seemed as good a place to start as any. Taking a piece of the bread she offered, he tried to strike up some conversation. "So what do you think? Can you handle being the worlds first warrior baker?"
  16. This was definitely the strangest day of Arath's life. Bar none. Caught by a fat inn keeper on an easy steal, practically abducted off the street by a strange baker girl from Lugard, hustled up the stairs into her bedroom, and then forced into taking a bath on threat of being carted off by the city watch ... Arath was waiting for a Fade to jump out of the tub and start singing to him. And so he sat in the most uncomfortable bath of his life, struggling to get his soaking shirt and breaches off, while she giggled furiously. He had his shirt half way off before he realized what he was doing. She would see his scar! Trying to submerge himself further under water while struggling with the shirt resulted in him half drowning himself, but he managed. Trying his best to keep it hidden using the side of the tub and his free arm, Arath passed his sopping wet shirt over. Next came his breeches. Oddly, he didn't feel so strange about those. Then again, his pants weren't covering up evil marks carved onto his body. He considered it for a moment, then removed his small clothes too in an attempt to make his oh so generous host feel uncomfortable. He also didn't relish the thought of walking around with wet underclothes. Settling down into the tub, Arath fumbled around for the bar of soup, then started scrubbing. A long while later, Arath had to admit to himself that it felt good to feel clean again. It almost felt like he was scrubbing away all the bad things that had happened to him in the last several months. A fresh start. Even if it was an illusion, it was a nice feeling. Once he was clean, he turned to his captor. "I don't suppose you'll actually step out of the room while I get dressed?"
  17. Maybe he deserved it for that last bit of over the top swordplay, but Arath was not prepared for being tackled into the mud. Splashing down onto his hands and knees, he yelled in surprise, dropping both of his blades in an effort to not hurt Michelle, who had happened to fall beneath him. A moment later, when she'd knocked him onto his back and perched herself on top of him with his own sword to his chest, he had to admit that she'd won. He laughed along with her, up until he realized the compromising situation he found himself in. Here he was, in the mud, with a half dressed woman sitting on top of him. His myrth died down quickly after that, and he just felt awkward. For what must have been the hundredth time since Arath had known her, questions about the Lugarder sense of propriety flashed through his mind. Sometimes he thought they had no shame at all. Struggling to sit up, a feat that was made much harder by the total lack of cooperation from Michelle, Arath managed to prop himself up and search around for an excuse to get away. His eyes settled on the basket of food. Perfect. "So, you ready for lunch then? Or do you like eating mud as much as you like playing in it?"
  18. Arath wasn't quite sure how it happened, but between the shock of seeing the guardsmen enter the common room and the blur of activity that was Michelle, he found himself upstairs, locked inside this strange girl's room. And he had no idea how to fix his situation. "I don't know how the guard tracked you to here, but you had best stay here till they leave." Well ... that was a hard point to argue against. Though again, he found himself unsure why she would care. Then she pointed to a big copper tub that happened to be sitting in the middle of the room. "Since you are here, you had best jump in that while I fix your shirt." That point was a little easier to protest. "Are you ... you can't be serious," Arath exclaimed. Many of his ideas of what was proper and acceptable behavior had changed a lot in the last few months, but this was definitely not one of them. Even among street dwellers and cutpurses, some things were just not done. What in the Pit of Doom was this girl up to? "I'm grateful to you for saving me and all, but this is just ..." he trailed off, not even sure what to call this situation. "I'm not going to play this game."
  19. "I could repair your shirt, if you wanted, although I think you would do better just to have something brand new... Or do you prefer to be in dirty clothes that are falling apart? How long has it been since you bathed?" Arath couldn't help but feel a little offended. Had she invited him to sit with her so she could critcize his poor appearance? At the same time, it made him think about how far he had fallen. How long had it been since he'd had a bath? Had he really gone months without a good cleaning? He made sure to scrub himself off every day in whatever semi-clean water he could find, and did the same for his clothes when he could. And these clothes were most certainly not the same ones he'd arrived in Caemlyn with. He had to get by with stealing whatever he could find, or on occasion buying clothing when he'd stumbled upon enough coin. Not a month ago he'd been able to buy new boots. Not that you could tell to look at them ... he'd been very careful to mar and muddy the outside so as to not attract the attention of the other street dwellers. Clothing just wasn't the main priority. "I ... wouldn't want to be a bother. My clothes aren't as bad as they look." He glanced down at himself again, then grimaced. Maybe it was time for him to acquire a new shirt? "It's not like I purposely roll around on the streets and try to look ... like this. It kind of just ... happens ... when you only have one shirt."
  20. Arath nodded, washing down the last of his soup with a gulp of water. "Like I said, I had nothing left in my home town. My mother died when I was little, and my father, he ... he died right before I came here." He wasn't about to tell the truth about THAT little incident. Admitting to killing your own father, even in self defense, was not a way to win friends. "I don't have any other family, and didn't really feel like staying in Dramon's Glen was an option. "Believe it or not, I used to be an apprentice blacksmith." He looked down at his severely weakened self. Most of the muscle he'd built up in the forge had long since vanished on the streets. "My father ran his own forge, and I learned from him as best I could. There's no shortage of smith's apprentices here though, so I couldn't use those skills for anything. I've been reduced to ... misunderstandings with large inn keepers. Not exactly noble work, but it beats the alternative." Dying on the streets could hardly be considered an alternative, but there were no others. Except maybe dying in the dungeons. "What about you? What do you do besides baking and clearing up misunderstandings between strangers and innkeepers?"
  21. Arath had expected the accusations of cheating when he'd used the Power. After all ... that was a completely unfair advantage. He had not expected Michelle to start removing her clothing. Thank the Light she was wearing another shirt underneath the now muddy one, even if it was a bit tight. "Would you like to play in the mud some more, or is there anything else you want to teach me this morning?" Looking down at his now muddy coat, Arath frowned. Then with a sigh, he quickly removed it. If she was going to keep this up, and he was sure she would, he'd rather not have to clean even more mud out of his good clothes. If felt good to go without it sometimes anyway. As Michelle dropped into her ready stance again, Arath grinned and dropped down to one knee, placing a hand on the ground. Channeling into the ground, Arath drew up another sword. A weapon composed of earth and water. An oddly spongy blade that dealt less damage than the practice lathes. "How about I show you what this should really look like then?" After demonstrating that his new weapon would not be any more dangerous than the wooden blade he had already been using, Arath began to circle around Michelle. He started slowly again, letting her grow used to fighting two blades instead of just one. It was a confusing adjustment to make, but she eventually began falling into a pattern, just like she had before. And then he began to speed things up. Before long, he was moving far too quickly for her to keep up. His blades were moving in dizzying circles, poking holes in her frantic defenses. Despite it all, he never landed a blow. He carefully measured each strike to fall short of actually striking. All things considered, Michelle did an admirable job. She kept her footing in the slippery mud, and still managed to launch the occasional counter strike against him. She was plainly growing frustrated though. Understandable, but it might well lead to her doing something rash ...
  22. Arath dug into the food as though it was his last meal. It might be, for all he knew. For a while anyway. At least until he could find someone more fortunate, but less lucky than he was. A bakery ... that was interesting. Michelle didn't look old enough to be starting her own business just yet, but come to think of it, Arath wasn't quite sure how old someone was supposed to be to do that. Old enough to look responsible in front of the bankers he supposed. He'd heard enough talk on the streets to know that the bankers were the ones who controlled most of the business in Caemlyn. Arath took advantage of a large lump of potato to buy himself time to think about her question. How much was he willing to trust her? Enough to volunteer information? Or just answer her questions as basically as possible? Maybe a little bit of both ... "I'm from a little town just north of Caemlyn. A little speck that nobody's ever heard of. I left about a year ago ... not quite sure what I was thinking, but there was nothing left for me there. Didn't find much more than that here either." "So you came here alone? You just decided to set out on your own?"
  23. Arath had to admit, he was woefully inexperienced when it came to dealing with women. They made no sense whatsoever, as Michelle quite amply demonstrated. He was caught completely off guard and confused by her little comment, and the more she spoke, the worse it got. When she suggested he kiss her bruise better ... He should have known right there that she was up to something, but the strangeness of the situation had him dazed enough that he couldn't think. What in the Light was she saying? When her intentions became blatantly obvious a few moments later, Arath felt twice the fool. Feeling lucky that he'd managed to avoid the worst of Michelle's cheap shot, he contemplated her question. What's next indeed? Well if she was willing to play dirty, who was he to object? "Well, since you seem so eager to be on the attack, we'll focus on that next." With a small glare that promised eventual retribution, Arath began to show Michelle the basic attack forms he had been using. Basic ways to draw your opponent into the position you wanted, and how to strike quickly at any exposed weaknesses. She caught on pretty quickly. That should have been no surprise, considering how fast she'd taken that approach earlier. "Alright, we'll spar again now. This time, counter my attacks with strikes of your own. Try to keep me on the defensive, but always be ready to fall back and act defensively. You never know when somebody will pull a fast one on you." Considering that fair warning, Arath quickly resumed their duelling. He began with some quick offensive strikes until she got back into the rhythem, then allowed her to begin making practice strikes against him. The sparring match proceeded quickly, progressing into more rapid and difficult moves. Arath was very careful to not let her strike him, although he let her make a few close calls. He could see her concentrating harder and harder, focusing more and more on making a point against him. After a good fifteen minutes of dancing just out of reach, Arath launched his own dirty attack. Siezing Saidin, Arath wove earth and water in a complex weave that would undo all his work with fire earlier. Settling the weave into the earth, Arath gave it one final tug, and the thing collapsed in on itself, instantly turning the top two inches of dirt all around him into a thick, sticky mud. More than enough to cause trouble if you weren't expecting it. Which Michelle surely wasn't. As he completed his weave, Arath leapt forward and made a quick slash with his practice blade. Michelle jumped backward, bringing her sword up in time, but by the time her feet touched the ground, it had liquified beneath her. Arath smiled slightly as gravity took over the work for him. Ahhh ... revenge.
  24. Arath was more than a little surprised at her offer. And more than a little suspicious. A year of hard living on Caemlyn's streets had taught him that nobody offered anything without expecting something in return. But he could not for the life of him figure out what this girl was after. Surely not the pleasure of his company? Dirty and miserable as he looked, he doubted his own mother would have wanted to be seen with him. Creator shelter her soul. He wasn't sure why he did it. Perhaps hunger was just gnawing away at his good judgement? Maybe he was tired of being suspicious of everyone? Or maybe he was just a sucker for a pair of pretty eyes? Either way, he found himself nodding, and following the girl into the inn. Inside the inn, Arath felt throughly out of place. This didn't feel like a place he would be welcome. The inn keepers appraising, and slightly disapproving look said that he agreed with Arath's view. Wondering if he'd made a mistake, Arath stuck close to Michelle, as though her immediate presence was all that was saving him from being thrown out. Which it very well may have done. It didn't take long before Michelle had ordered some food and found them a seat at one of the corner tables. Cautiously sitting down across from her, Arath sat in silence, wondering what to do. Finally, he decided to strike up a conversation. Anything was better than that awkward silence. "So ... Lugard huh? What brings you to Caemlyn?"
  25. "We begin with holding your weapon," Arath replied. At Michelle's skeptical look, he grinned. "Really. How you hold your sword, how you place your feet, your balance ... these are the most important parts of all of this. The rest of it, actually waving your sword around, it's all pretty simple. Just a matter of practice. Learning how to react quickly. "But first, stance and grip." Standing next to her, Arath adjusted Michelle's grip on the hilt of her short sword. "It's not hard to figure out with a sword like this. Larger swords are a bit more tricky, especially two handed blades. For the most part, holding it like so will cover just about everything you need to do. "As for your stance, you'll want to fight with your sword arm forward, presenting as small a target as possible for your enemy. Feet apart, like this ... good. Now bend your knees a little. Make sure you're well balanced." Poking her in the shoulders a few times to check her balance, Arath nodded in satisfaction. This was about as good as it would get without actual combat. Reaching out with Saidin, Arath lifted the pair of practice blades toward them. The wooden sword was a little longer than Michelle's new blade, but it was close enough that it wouldn't matter. Driving the tip of the real sword into the ground, Arath quickly demonstrated a few of the basic defensive stances and sword forms. Moves that relied more on speed then strength of arms. Certainly nothing fancy that required a lot of flourishing moves. Once she seemed to master the basics, Arath moved on to the next part. The fun portion of the lesson. "Alright. That's about all I can teach you by just talking at you. The rest, you'll need to learn through experience. Trial and error mostly. Pay close attention to where you place your feet, and when all else fails, step back out of the way. He began easily. Slow slashing attacks, shallow stabs ... nothing she couldn't handle easily. As she began to see patterns and recognize his movements, the Attack Leader gradually sped up the pace until she was having a difficult time keeping up. The bundle of wooden lathes slapped into her arms and ribs more than once, stinging just enough to motivate her to move faster. About twenty minutes in, Arath managed to land a particularly loud slap on her thigh, and couldn't help but laugh at her yelp of surprise. "You're learning quickly. Better than some of the Soldiers actually. Having fun yet?"
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