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Arinth

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About Arinth

  • Birthday 09/02/1985

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  1. What had started out as a secluded, quiet conversation had changed. The room was suddenly crowded, and the rising wave of unintelligent noise was irritating. He saw the same feeling flash across Ely’s eyes as she took notice of the room. With gentle yet decisive movements she closed the distance and planted herself on his good leg. Is this love? The thought crossed his mind as she settled into place. Any woman that could do what she had just done without the slightest hint of effort was worthy of it. He pushed the thought away. The echoes of amused laughter filled his head. I do respect her though and burn me if everything she does isn’t perfectly done in such a way that my affection only grows. He listened to what she said, even if he was reluctant to truly believe it. The fierceness in her eyes spoke with as much conviction as her words. The two combined were enough for him. He tried to grin. Sooner or later he’d end up disappointing her and then he would be able to tell her that he'd told her so. What this was and would be, he was in it and so was she. He looked into her eyes. Despite the noise around them all his senses were focused directly on her. She was so close. From where she sat, he was sure that she could feel his pulse. His right arm was wrapped around her waist. He could feel the firm curve of her body and it sent a fire through him. She looked so fierce and honest in that moment. He leaned forward and kissed her. The kiss was gentle. It was tempting to pour all of his passion into the kiss and show her how much he felt. There would be time for that though. This first kiss was about more than just passion. He wanted her to know that, while there was definitely that side of things, it was far from all he wanted with her. “Ely, I believe you. I want you too. I don’t know enough words to find the words that can express how strongly I do, but I do. I know it with full certainty and no hesitation.” Suddenly behind them there was a crash and a commotion. Arinth turned to glance over his shoulder. His body protested, pain flaring up, and he grimaced. He saw a group of cavalry picking up one of their comrades who had fallen to the floor. An empty mug of ale was broken at his side. Arinth almost dismissed the scene altogether. Cavalry were not known to have good balance even when they weren’t drinking, and everyone knew they held their alcohol as well as a sieve. It wasn’t unusual to see them collapsing to the floor. One of the man’s friends groaned though and fell to his knees, his face twisted in a combination of pain and confusion. Arinth glanced at Ely and saw her face go through a range of expressions as she processed the scene unfolding. Alarm bells were going off in his head. Something did not feel right. This felt like more than normal cavalry incompetence.
  2. The men and women were not happy about having to conceal their armor. Many felt that in concealing themselves they were hiding the Light and that was a dangerous thing, a bad thing, a thing that Children of the Light did not do. He had their lives to consider though. The sun was not destroyed at night. It was there waiting to rise with each morning. That didn’t keep them from throwing dark looks his way when they thought he did not notice though. It was something he would have to suffer through. They were also not happy with how slowly they moved. They knew where they were going, and they could cover the ground three times as quickly as they were now. Fellow children could die with each moment they tarried. Corik was aware of this, painfully aware. He had to fight his own instincts not to dash ahead. They did not know what they were dealing with. He kept a stern face. He couldn’t keep them in line with the threat of his physical presence. He had to inspire loyalty and confidence with his intelligence, dedication and fierceness. He had plenty of that to go around. They would settle in. He couldn’t let them think there was any doubt otherwise. “Sir.” The scout said as he fell in at his side, returning from off ahead. “I found the scene of a scuffle. The tone of his voice was grim. Corik shot him a glance, trying to read his face. It gave away little. Corik respected that about him. “What did you find?” Corik asked. “We are almost there, sir.” The scout said. “I will show you.” Corik ground his teeth. “I would hear it now soldier and have my eyes confirm. The scout nodded as if Corik’s reaction was the one he had expected. “It appears they spotted their foe on the field and charged up the mountain towards them. It was a steep hill and the charge was started from a fair distance. I believe their horses tired by the time they reached the point of conflict. Men fell on both sides, but our soldiers were quickly overwhelmed. Corik let out a sigh. It wasn’t far from how he had imagined how it happened himself. “From what you saw, do you believe that there are any survivors?” Corik asked, stealing himself against the worst. “I do.” The scout answered confidently. He pointed up ahead. “This is where the charge started.” The other Children were also spotting signs of the charge and several looked ready to spur their own horses forward. Corik gathered them to him, recognizing the importance of their caution now, more than ever. He gave each man and woman a hard look before he spoke. “When we came out on this mission, we were aware that the patrol we were searching for ran into trouble. We didn’t know what or how bad the trouble was, but we knew it none the less. Up ahead we will find scenes of that trouble, but we must keep ours heads on our shoulders and not let our hearts or our anger get the best of ourselves. I believe there are Children of that patrol still alive and I will not tolerate any one of you jeopardizing their recovery. Is that understood?”
  3. The footsteps Grey had heard belong to an Aes Sedai. He felt a mixture of relief and renewed anxiety. He was glad of course that he had not been late. It would have been bad to have missed the meeting time. Especially when it appeared that there were not any other guards coming along. He had assumed he would be one of a handful, but it appeared he was wrong. Just as he was relieved that he had not made a mistake, he felt the nervousness of being in front of an Aes Sedai with her attention focused squarely on him. His eyes widened in surprise when she said his name. He did not know that anyone really knew who he was. She was Aes Sedai though. Whatever she wanted to know and be aware of she was capable of. They could have meet in passing previously or it the trainer that had advised him of the trip could have simply told her who to expect. “Has anyone else arrived yet?” Grey looked around. He was the only one standing in front of her. It seemed like a fairly obvious answer. He tried to choose his words carefully. The last thing he wanted was to sound rude or disrespectful to the Aes Sedai. Her smile had been warm and friendly. “Your presence is the first I have been graced with since I arrived.” Another Aes Sedai appeared and Grey’s nervousness increased. He would have to learn how to be better around them. He couldn’t be giving himself a heart attack every time he met or had to interact with one if he was going to be a tower guard and live within the tower. The new Aes Sedai was dressed elegantly in white and cast a very impressive figure. She also had a fine attention to detail. As she looked at the first Aes Sedai she seemed to gather and process all the data that she needed, including the fact that he was a trainee.” He hadn’t planned on being forthcoming with that bit of information, but it was also not something he could deny either. The Aes Sedai moved on from her question before he had a chance to speak though. She knew the answer and no amount of talking was going to change it. He was relieved because he wasn’t sure if his answers would be as good as those she came up with on her own. Her answers sounded good at least. She turned her attention to the other Aes Sedai and explained what it was that they would be doing. Grey kept his place beside them. He was there to help. He would be attentive and ready to act any moment. He was hesitant to do too much beyond that though. These women were very capable, and he could unintentionally cause interference or a distraction when trying to help. He waited quietly at their side, ready when they were to begin the investigation.
  4. "Do you need to rest? I can see those ribs are bothering you so don't even deny it." Her words brought him back to reality from watching her stretch. Burn him if she didn’t have impressive legs. They looked amazing. How was anyone supposed to think? Think about what needed to be thought about that was. It was easy to think about how much he would enjoy running his fingers up and down her calves, the back of her knees, her smooth thighs. Intelligent conversation, that is what was hard to focus on. He corrected himself, not hard, difficult. Difficult was the better word to use, even in his own thoughts. “Don’t even deny it.” Her words repeated in his head. It was the main reason he was drawn to her. He couldn’t help but be honest with her. She knew what he was thinking. He couldn’t pretend with her. He couldn’t make a joke and feign ignorance and get away with it like he did with the majority of other people. Most importantly, he didn’t want to pretend. That same honesty that she brought out in him she also had in herself. He was drawn to it. There was also a hardness to her. Her trust and respect were earned and not lightly. Even in the midst of a crowd she somehow still kept herself apart but without being rude or cold. It was something he did himself, but not as effectively. With other people he was often alone, even in their company. But with her he realized he wasn’t, and he didn’t want to be. He was present, and she was present, and they were both acutely aware of the other. He tried to shake of his thoughts, glad he didn’t have to explain them. He could barely put them together for himself in a way that made sense. The point was that he was different, and she was different. She was different from anyone else he’d met and what he saw in her resonated within himself. The fingertips of her spirit had touched his and fireworks, lightening, and explosions had erupted inside. If he tried to explain it to anyone else, they would have laughed and called him crazy. He had only just met her. He had spent more time with her, watching her rest and recover from her wounds than awake and conscious of him. It was possible, some might even say probable, that he had built her up in his mind, projecting what he wanted to see in her. He didn’t think that was true though. What he did know is that when she was there, he wasn’t alone. She was aware of him, just as he was aware of her. He pushed his plate away and leaned back. Looking at his plate he thought back on how she had taken it and cut the food into pieces. He had meant it as a joke when he said that he might need help. She had taken the plate without complaint though, efficiently and precisely cutting it into small pieces and then yet even smaller pieces. It had been slightly embarrassing. He was not used to others helping him. He could have managed himself, but he also didn’t want to appear like a pig, chewing huge chunks of food while she watched him. He could just imagine how she would see him, frothing at the mouth as he shoved more and more food in, half falling back out. He would take his embarrassment if it meant avoiding that kind of scene and experience. He realized that he had gotten lost in thought and had not answered her question. “My ribs protest but they know their place. They will be fine. As for rest, I have little use for that. I avoid it when I can.” There was no point mentioning the vivid dreams that often visited him. Dreams that woke him up disoriented with a start or a cry, a pounding heart and a cold sweat. Men and women he had fought with against the Aiel. Friends in Tanchico that had fallen. The tinker woman he could have saved if he had not hesitated. Now trollocs also appeared. He felt little guilt or remorse for those he had killed but those he had failed to save were frequent visitors with hard questions he could not answer. Why had he let them die? Why hadn’t he saved them? Janya brought their drinks. Arinth looked at his with relief and picked it up. Sometimes all it took was one wayward thought like he had of his dreams to get swept away into the deep currents of darker places. He took a gulp of the drink. It was strong and provided a comforting numbing burn as it went down. “I am reluctant to ask if you are tired.” He said. “You must be, with this being your first time out of bed after your injury. I should tell you to rest but I don’t want to lose your company so quickly. That is selfish of me, but I cannot help it.” He took another drink and looked down. He was talking too much. He was bound to say something stupid if he hadn’t already. Relationships were like a dance and Arinth had never been a good dancer. You either appeared too eager and desperate or too cold and aloof. He had heard some people talk about how they got others to be interested in them by pretending to be too busy for them or not interested. Irritation flared up in Arinth. He wasn’t about to play those childish games. As Ely reached her hand forward, he took it and held it, not realizing until it was too late that she had been reaching for her drink. He chuckled as he held her hand, unsure of whether it was worse to keep holding it or to let go so soon after taking hold of it. “I am sorry. I have a well developed talent for making a mess of things it seems.”
  5. Arinth was a mix of emotions, physical pain and hunger. The chair had proven more uncomfortable than he had anticipated. He found it an irritating distraction as he focused on Ely’s words. There was no denying the way he felt about this woman. He had felt an undefined connection with her the moment he had met her and each interaction since then had only confirmed and strengthened that feeling. He knew her more than there was any reasonable, logical explanation for him to. He had taken the jump. Now that he had found her, he had to let her know. And so, he had spoken, he put himself out there. He had never dreamed or dared to hope, that she could feel anything remotely similar. Here she was though and what she was saying sounded just like it. She felt something close to what he himself felt. He couldn’t imagine that it could be stronger than his own feelings, but it felt and sounded strong. Unless of course he was making up the whole thing in his head, taking the words that she said, erasing them from his memory and filling in words of his own desire in their place. That seemed just as plausible. Or could it even be a dream? Here she was, beautiful as the sun over the horizon. Beautiful as a flower in bloom, strong and independent, with thorns and all. Beautiful as an empty mug of ale being refilled. If it was a dream, could he kiss her? Would she melt under the desire expressed by his hands and his lips? He could clear off the table with one sweep of his hand and find out. A few words of the conversation behind him reached his ears and he realized that the stupidity of the conversation made it impossible for him to be within a dream. This was real. He would have to wait on sweeping clear the table. He felt her hand though and he squeezed it gently. He still could not believe his luck that she would take his hand, scarred and calloused as it was and hold it her own. People did not often talk about the beauty of one’s hands, but he found it there in hers. Her fingers were long, soft and yet strong and confident. There was no tremble in her hand like there was in his as he held her. He looked into her eyes. Her anchor. Before she had explained it, he wasn’t sure what she had meant. Was he a heavy burden that would drown her? He had breathed a sigh of relief when she had explained. What she said made a lot more sense and it was much nicer to hear. He did not flinch away from the thought of being her anchor. There were those who might know him in passing that assumed he was afraid of commitment but that was not true and have never been the case. He was not afraid of commitment, he just had never found anyone to commit to. He could be her anchor though. He wanted to be her anchor. Her words and her voice told him there were layers of pain that she carried and did not often share with others. This was not something she said lightly. "You came to see me, didn't you? I thought you were surely visiting everyone, but... you only came to see me?" Arinth lifted her hand and kissed it. “Only you.” He said softly. “Since I have met you, I find that no matter where my gaze falls, I only see you.” He had not fully realized it until he said the words, but he did not flinch away from them either. They sounded right. The server came back with their food and laid it in front of them. After a moment of hesitation their hands broke away. With his right arm broken he could not hold her hand and eat at the same time. He picked up the fork awkwardly with his left and looked at her. “I might need some help.” He said with a laugh as he realized how challenging it was going to be to try and eat the food in front of him.
  6. Grey frowned nervously. Was he at the right spot? His orders, as he had understood them, were to meet here at this time. There were supposed to be other guards, Aes Sedia and possibly even warders that would go out together to investigate things going on within the city. He was the only one here though. Had he been too early? Did he just need to wait longer for the others to appear? Ever moment felt like an hour painfully stretched out. He was definitely starting to feel anxious. Had he been late and the left without him, not knowing to wait for him or carrying whether he joined them or not? He paced the grounds. His hands moving restlessly, between swinging at his sides and locked together behind his back. How did Warders and Aes Sedai manage always be so composed with the chaos and disorder around them. It was something that he would have to learn because he was not close to mastering it, he realized. His hands fidgeted as they checked his belt and sword and equipment making sure everything was in order again. What was he supposed to do if nobody showed up or he had missed them? He did not fully know what the purpose of the trip was to begin with. How could he see it through by himself? There were whispers that the end of the world was at hand. The Dragon walked the world, and the armies of the dark one were being gathered in the north. The weather was hot and oppressive. The food spoiled before there was any reason for it to and now there had started to be a large number of rumors about ghosts. Those transparent and those that looked as real anyone else you might meet on the street. It was a scary time to be alive. Grey heard footsteps. He turned towards them. Was it someone that was supposed to meet him or just merely someone else passing by?
  7. It was clear from the expression on the tinker’s face that the bark of the dogs was a warning that things were not right. For a moment Arinth wondered if one of his soldiers had upset the dogs or started trouble. If so, he would need to address it quickly before it disturbed the peace. The tinkers had been very welcoming to the to the wounded and weary soldiers. Everyone that he had seen was getting along. These tinkers were like a salve to their wounds. Before he could investigate Arkin dropped out of the trees and drew his blade. The look in his eyes told Arinth that this was not a minor disturbance or altercation among the camps but something else entirely. Arkin held out his hand to Arinth. “This does not have to be your way.” The tinker said. There was a sadness in voice that he knew even as he said the words that Arinth had already made his decision. Arinth hadn’t though and the words echoed in his head. He hesitated. His mind racing in a million directions. These were all new thoughts and conflicts. He had not had time to resolve them and now he was faced with having to make a decision. A woman’s scream reached his ears from the opposite side of the camp. He grabbed Arkin’s hand and the scout pulled him to his feet. His hand gripping his sword tightly he dashed forward with a grim and heavy heart. There was only one decision. Bandits appeared from the trees. Tattered and worn, they looked like desperate men. It made them all the more dangerous. A tall lean man emerged from behind a tree and thrust a spear towards him, he knocked it aside with a backswing of his sword and closed the distance. His sword cut through the man’s side and he collapsed in towards the wound. Arinth followed with a thrust to the man’s chest. The bandit died as he fell backwards, a look of disbelief on his face as life left his eyes. The bandits wavered when they encountered the line of the hard soldiers in front of them who had recovered from their initial surprise. Men fell on both sides from the initial clash. Some of the banders had been taken by surprise and some had taken too much to drink and had been unable to defend themselves. Arinth looked in horror at the half dozen bodies that had fallen by the time he had reached them. He staggered half a step. As he continued to take in the scene in front of him his eyes found the bodies of the tinkers that had been wounded and slain. A woman lay face down at the edge of the camp, a fallen basket of spilled herbs just beyond her outstretched hand. He stumbled closer, his eyes locked on her and oblivious to the fighting around him. He had hesitated. If he had responded the moment he had heard the barks, as he should have, he might have saved her. If he had responded when Arkin had appeared, he might have saved her. He dropped to a knee beside her and reached out his hand to turn her over, hoping against hope that she might still be able to be saved. A tiny squeal emerged from under the woman’s squirts and a tiny figure shrank back from him. A small child had been hiding. He saw the small girl now. Her tear-filled eyes wide as they stared at him. She was a small thing with wild blonde hair that was at present a tangled mess. “Easy child.” Arinth said softly. “I mean you no harm. Let me take you back to the safety of the wagons.” The child shrank back, fearful. He was not a tinker. She did not know him. Before he could convince her to take his hand a huge hulking bandit appeared with a bloody ax. Arinth locked eyes on him and the man grinned savagely. Arinth rose to his feet, raising his sword grimly. Anger was beating from his heart and he began to feel it spread throughout his body. This man would know his anger. He matched the man’s grin with a savage one of his own. “Stay out of the way.” He told the child. Hoping the bandit had not noticed her yet. With a roar he ran forward, covering the distance between them. The ax came down heavily and more quickly than Arinth thought possible. He deflected it but the blow was enough to stagger him. He swung his sword around, and the ax was there to deflect it. The giant paw of the bandit reached out and grabbed hold of Arinth’s shirt. The two grappled, their weapons getting tangled and lost in the struggle. Arinth was big but this man was bigger. They fell to the ground, desperately struggling and trading punches and pokes, eye gouges and head butts. Arinth struggled to get on top, his weight planted squarely on the man’s chest. A heavy blow stunned the man temporarily. Two more followed it and the man’s eyes clouded over, dazed. With no weapon within reach, Arinth locked his hands around the man’s thick neck and squeezed. The man’s eyes buldged and his legs kicked. He tried to buck Arinth off, but he held firm. He hit at Arinth’s arms but could not break his grip. The man’s struggles began to slow and weaken. Arinth squeezed harder and felt the life leave the bandit. When it was over, Arinth rose weakly to his feet and recovered his sword. “Child.” He said breathlessly. The child shied away from him after what she had just witnessed. Somewhere deep inside, the look hurt him, but he could not afford to let it weaken him now. He scooped the child up and held her close. He felt the strength drain out of him as he took a step forward. His side felt wet. He looked down to find a knife planted there. He had not noticed it in the desperate struggle, but he felt it now. His knees buckled. He willed his strength back into them and pushed forward. He heard the banders around him fighting and he saw the tinkers gathered around the wagons. If nothing else at least they might be willing to shield the girl. He just had to get her there.
  8. This must be some kind of magic fruit Arinth thought as the supply never seemed to end despite the vast amounts that had been smashed. He had thought the fun would be over when the kitchen helper showed up but Arkin's antics had distracted her and Arinth couldn't help himself from taking advantage of the opportunity. Arkin was usually a slippery guy that it was tough to get the best of. This was a fun opportunity to get a chance to tag him once or twice without causing any real harm or hard feelings. Arkin was good though. He used used his knives very skillfully to deflect the fruit. At one point he even tossed one of his knives to stop a fruit dead when he was beginning to get overwhelmed with the volume hefted at him. Arinth was glade his aim was true, otherwise he might have been the one catching the blade of Arkin's knife. Their breath and willingness to continue seemed to slow before the amounts of fruit were extinguished. At some point the kitchen helper had disappeared, shaking her head and muttering as she left. Clearly she had recognized the futility of the situation and did not have the luxury of tarrying longer when there was work that needed to be done. Arinth stumbled over to his friend and offered out a hand to help him up. As they locked eyes Arinth realized there was a devious twinkle in Arkin's eyes. Alarm bells went off but he could not disengage and retreat fast enough. Arkin had a firm grip on his hand and from his other a fruit appeared. Arinth squeezed his eyes shut. OCC I think you only one more post for this to be able to count towards your weapon score BB
  9. Arinth flinched at her reaction to his touch. Either it was unwanted, or it had caused pain, neither of which he desired. He felt the burning desire to leave before he embarrassed himself any further. What was he doing? He barely knew the woman. How could he feel so strongly? His head had always kept him out of these situations before. “Arinth” Her voice had an unmatched quality to it. It had a way of resonating deep inside of him. “Thank you.” He lowered his gaze as he tried to shrug off her thank you. It hadn’t seemed like anything particularly heroic he had done. She had still been wounded. He had barely come out on top of the fight himself. "Don't pretend it didn't matter. Tris told me what you did," Her voice felt like a caress. How was that even possible? He felt light-headed. She kept talking but with his heart pounding in his ears he could barely hear. “but I'm still as weak as can be. I was lucky. And I'm off duty for the time being." Off duty! He certainly hoped so. She should be taking it easy while she recovered. And if she wasn’t on duty didn’t that mean that there was the chance that he could spend time with her? Possibly? He locked eyes with her and for a moment her demeanor melted, and a beautiful smile spread across her face. It felt like illuminators fireworks were exploding in his chest. Before he could recover, she had found an excuse to say good bye and stepped around him. His mouth was still hanging open from what he was about to stay. He closed it slowly and straightened. He was about to bend down and pick his heart off of the ground when he heard her speak again from behind him. "If you have the time... would you let me stand you a meal or a drink at least? I have to eat and the company would be...welcome." He spun around to make sure he was the one that she was talking to. She did not need to make any gesture to thank him. He wasn’t about to argue the point though. She had invited him to join her. That was what was important. He quickly replied, hoping his comment was intelligent enough for het to understand. They walked quietly towards the inn. He tried to think of something smart or interesting to say but was unable to think of anything that did not sound completely stupid. A silly notion came to mind of him holding her hand as they walked. Did people really do that? It seemed like it should be reasonable, but it was not something seen at the Citadel. It seemed like her hand would fit very well into his though. He wondered if she was regretting her decision to invite him. He was normally very comfortable in the company of others. Here he was though, less engaging and entertaining than a cold puddle of mud. They found a table at the back of the room. Both struggled to take their seats. Arinth sat with a stifled groan and a muttered curse. He heard a giggle across the table and looked up to see Ely’s restraint crumble as she broke into laughter. Arinth grinned himself, his nervousness dissipating as he began to chuckle. Once their laughter had died down the server appeared. She glanced back and forth between the two with an arched eyebrow. He ordered his usual and turned his attention back to Ely. He wasn’t one to avoid confrontation or to shy away from what he wanted to go after. There was the hang up of his rank though. He did not want her to feel compelled to entertain his advances because of his rank. He met her eyes. He couldn’t shake the feeling in his chest when he looked at her. He had to tell her and put it out there. Whatever happened would happen. “Ely, He said. “I am not very good at small talk. I haven’t been able to get you off of my mind since I met you. I know that we just met but you are unlike anyone else that I have ever met. I would very much like the opportunity to spend more time with you and to get to know you.” He had wanted to say more but it probably would have been a bit overwhelming for him to start talking about the instant connection he had felt. He wasn’t good at this sort of thing. He had never really tried before. He hoped that he had been able to express his interest without sounding like a crazy person.
  10. "The golden tree is the symbol of Tarabon, right? Let's get a tree then, maybe a burning tree, and over that, a bear, and a fox." Arinth laughed out loud in pleased triumph at his friend’s genius. It was the perfect suggestion. He nodded happily. “Yes, a turning tree with a bear and a fox. Exactly that.” He meant to say more but his thoughts trailed off in a thick haze. The artist did not reply and Arinth was oblivious to his irritation. When he asked who would be first, Arkin quietly nodded his head towards Arinth. Arinth was surprised then when the man went to work after briefly cleaning his arm. The pain brought him around sharply. He stopped himself from punching the man but just barely. Nobody had ever mentioned the pain. It wasn’t unbearable but it was surprising. Arkin watched him curiously. Arinth offered him a toothy smile. If nobody had told Arinth he surely wasn’t about to break the tradition in telling Arkin. He swallowed his grin and tried to keep from both grimacing and giggling. He closed his eyes. Time drifted. Arkin spoke as he watched the artist work, but the words did not register with Arinth. He was suddenly tired. It had been an emotional night. Normally he did his best to keep his emotions tucked away. The work took some time. The man was committed to his craft and put as much detail into the piece as he could. Arinth glanced over at Arkin. “I hope the long wait isn’t giving you second thoughts. Your turn will come soon enough. We are brothers already, but this will tie us closer.” He looked up and met Arkin’s gaze.
  11. Grey adjusted his sword belt nervously. The clothes he wore were clean and functional, but they were not pristine. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was just going to be another day of training. Today was going to be different though. A few of the Aes Sedai were planning to investigate different things going on in the city. As Aes Sedai they were more than capable of handling themselves in almost every situation. In some cases muscle was needed though. He ran a hand through his blonde hair. It had the wavy, casual length of youth. He was not tied to any Aes Sedai himself. He was not even an “official” tower guard yet. He was still in the training phase of his career. That might change one day though. He was open to the possibility. They had asked for volunteers to accompany the Aes Sedai though and when he had volunteered his trainers thought he had become at least competent enough to not hurt himself. He had been proud. He had felt that he was progressing in his training, but this was validation that what he had perceived in himself, though still possibly skewed, was also not too far from reality. He did his best to push aside the nervousness he felt but it would not go away. He had thought that when joining up as a tower guard trainee that he would have more encounters with the Aes Sedai and he would have grown familiar with them and at least comfortable enough to know what to expect when around them. Aes Sedai kept largely to themselves though. Those he had encountered or passed had barely taken note of his existence. He had not taken offense. There was little reason for him to have warranted their attention. Today would be different though. He was going to be in their midst. “Calm yourself. You just have to follow orders. There is nothing to worry about.” He took a deep breath and let is out slowly. It was time to go and meet up with the others.
  12. Corik’s green eyes scanned the horizon. The sun was just now rising, its bright light glinting off his polished armor and the other children he was with. One of the first things every Child of the Light learned was the importance of taking care of their uniform. It taught discipline and it showed others that as well. There was little to see. Corik squinted against the brightness of the sun. There were admittedly drawbacks to wearing such polished armor. It made it more difficult for them to see and they were like a beacon to anyone that might be looking in their direction. Corik saw only emptiness in the quiet of the new mornings. He felt sharp and awake despite the earliness of the hour. Even though he was not normally out riding in the field at this time he had developed a routine which included rising early for his training. When he had heard of the missing patrol, he had not hesitated to join in the search party. Patrols were rarely late. Things were expected to run smoothly and with punctuality and so they did. Reoccurring issues were not tolerated. The soldiers adjusted or they didn’t last. It was as simple as that. So when the patrol was not only late but had failed to return at all it was a bright waiving warning flag, an alarm bell ringing that something was not right. Something had happened to them. They had been along the western front. Bandits were rarely ever an issue close to the home of the Children of the Light. It was possible to encounter them when traveling but highly unlikely in this case. Everyone knew the foreign invaders were to the West. The Children were divided on how to deal with them. Some believed that they had to be attacked head on. Their use Aes Sedai was confirmation of their service to the dark one. Others thought it was best to leave them alone as long as they stayed where they were and did not encroach on the domain of the Children. Still others pleaded for caution, reluctantly admitting that the army of the Seanchan was superior to their own. It was a difficult thing to hear and so many rejected it outright. He saw the scout returning back to the group quickly. Corik urged his horse towards the front of the group. The others closed in around close as well to hear what the scout would say when he arrived. As a second squadman Corik was the leader technically. He had not had to assert that position yet though and so for the time being things moved more fluidly. The scout slowed his horse as he arrived. He pointed towards a ridge to the west. “I have found their trail. It appears they went off the normal route and up towards that ridge at a steady pace. There does not appear to be any indication that they approached slowly or cautiously. Corik kept his face blank as he listened. Of course he wanted to grimace or curse or admonish the full hardy patrol for rushing in without taking caution. It would do no good here though. They had done what they had felt was best at the time given the information they had available. “Lead on,” Corik said. “We will follow their trail. Despite the natural urge to close with urgency on their last location we will proceed at a more cautious pace.” He looked around at the small group of men and women around him. Conceal your armor and tie down anything that makes noise as you ride. We must be as silent as possible.
  13. Arinth frowned again as his eyes scanned another report. There was a troubling trend developing. Men and women absent from their training sessions at a higher rate than normal, men and women leaving the band without so much as a word, and men and women taking ill suddenly when they were in peak physical condition. He set the papers down awkwardly with his left hand. His right arm, still in a sling, was practically useless for the time being. The stretching motion caused a ripple of pain through his side. The medics had believed he had two cracked ribs. They had wrapped him up tight but there was little else that could be done. They would heal, in time. He tried to focus on the troubling reports in front of him, but his thoughts kept turning to Ely. The healers had said that she would be ok. They had assured him that she was doing better. They practically kicked him out of her room, telling him that they couldn’t get anything done with him lumbering over her. Their arguments were logical but somewhere in the back of his mind he felt that his proximity had to help in some way. He knew there was no sound medical reasoning for it, but he held on to the belief none the less. He shook away those thoughts. The medics and healers would do their jobs. He had his own responsibilities to tend to. What was going on with the soldiers? He would be the first to admit that as a private he had not been the most diligent in his attendance of early morning training and it was not altogether completely uncommon for soldiers to take their leave from the company. Those that joined the Band did so because they believed in its cause though. With the last battle looming ever closer it was hard to believe that so many would lose that belief or decide they had more important things to pursue. She had stood, casually pressed against his side, in that lodge. Her quick wit saving him from single-handedly destroying the alliance with the Black Tower with his big, dumb mouth. He still felt her breath against his ear, the fierceness in her whisper. He had seen a tree struck by lightning once. The explosion as that charge coursed through that tree was the closest comparison he could find to what her voice had done to him. He smoothed the report out, awkwardly circling the names of the departed soldiers that struck him as the most unusual. They had been men and women committed to their position. His gut told him that this was something that needed to be pursued. Her touch. It had been casual and gentle, yet confident and firm. Her dark hair, how he wanted to stroke it. His hands were too rough and calloused for that though. He stood up with a growl. He felt on edge. The feeling that had woken in him, combined with the fear and anxiety over her injury and the strange disappearances around camp were almost overwhelming. Her dark brown eyes. Many thought that blue eyes were the most beautiful and some even said green but he had never seen more beautiful eyes than when he had beheld hers. He was out of his tent before he realized it and halfway to the infirmary before he realized where he was headed. He had been away long enough. At least the swelling had gone down in his face. The trolloc’s fist had felt like a hammer blow. His oft broken nose could attest to the fact that he could take a punch, but he had never encountered any fist like that. Arinth felt his pulse quicken as he caught sight of someone up ahead. It looked like Ely. He blinked. Maybe the blow had done more damage than anyone had realized if he was having hallucinations now. The woman continued coming towards him. It was Ely. She walked with a confident purpose but a slight hitch that her wound had caused. “Ely.” He called out and jogged forward, ignoring the painful twinge in his leg. He felt foolish but he couldn’t stop himself. “You are ok?” He asked, his eyes moving up and down her body. He didn't mean to gawk, but it was a sight difficult not to indulge in. His gaze found its way back up to her eyes which were locked on him. Whatever she was thinking was hidden in the dark pools of her beautiful eyes. He reached out his left hand, but to do what? Touch her hair? Her face? He remembered how she had avoided his touch when he had handed her the water at the lodging. He squeezed her shoulder gently. “You look good. I was worried. They said the blade that wounded you was poisoned.”
  14. “Blood and bloody ashes.” Arinth snarled as he pulled the bloody ax he held free of the trolloc corpse under it. He had killed the trolloc but had not been fast enough to save the man that had stood against the monster. Just a few days before the young man had been alive and laughing in his training class. Arinth’s breathing came in ragged, painful gasps. He had taken wounds. A blade had dug into the front of his leg, causing him a stumbling limp. Another trolloc had rammed into his side. The impact had driven the air from his lungs, and he had a growing suspicion that some of his ribs might be broken. Arinth scanned the grounds again. He still had not been able to find Ely. He kicked himself. She had been right next to him. He should have stayed with her and looked out for her. He saw Arkin in the distance working in unison with other soldiers to dispatch a fearsome looking trolloc. The sergeant that had led the excursion was down. The anger in Arinth’s blood reached a boiling point. Where was Ely? He spun around and called her name again. He did not hear her response as he has hoped but he did hear another soldier call her name. He located the voice and then nearby he saw Ely. The momentary sense of relief at seeing her quickly vanished. A trolloc nearby skewered a wolfkin and turned his sights to Ely. Arinth urged himself forward. His body failing to match the demand of his will. He stumbled forward, his leg burning, his lungs struggling to pull in the oxygen that he needed. He tried to call out to Ely to warn her, but the sound came out as a ragged gasp. The trolloc’s blade slashed across her lower back. She twisted and fell to her knees. The trolloc raised his blade. Arinth was close now but every fraction of a second felt like an eternity. He raised the ax in his hands as he saw the trolloc’s blade pull back, glistening in the sunlight with blood and some other type of oily substance. Arinth roared as he started his swing. The trolloc caught sight of him as began to bring down his blade towards Ely. The nightmare creature’s eyes flashed as he realized he could not strike down Ely and have time to deflect Arinth’s blade. The trolloc’s weapon changed course. Ely collapsed to the ground as the blades clashed above her. The impact shook Arinth to his bones. The heavy fist of the trolloc smashed into his face and lights blossomed and danced behind Arinth’s eyes. He felt his legs buckle but he willed himself to say upright. He thrust out with the butt of the ax and caught the creature in the chest. A moment later he felt the ax pulled from his hands. His vision still swam as the world tilted around him. He struck out with his fist but there was little power behind the strike. I might as well be punching with pillows, he thought to himself. His arm was grabbed, and he was yanked forward and down. He felt a sharp snap in his arm. The explosion in his mind cleared his vision. His gaze fell to Ely. He couldn’t fail her too. His other hand reached for the knife at his belt. He stabbed out it, burying it somewhere in the trolloc. He was rewards with a cry of surprise and anger. He withdrew the knife far enough to strike home with it again and again. The Trolloc fell to his knees. Arinth brought his knee up into the beast’s face. It landed with a satisfying crunch despite the protest of his wounded leg. The trolloc rolled over onto its back. Before it could try to rise Arinth threw his weight onto its chest. He worked quickly with the knife and drew the blade deep across the throat of the creature. Arinth collapsed to the ground. His energy was draining through is wounds despite his best efforts to hold onto it. Not yet, he thought desperately as he felt the darkness close around him. He pushed himself up to one knee and then with a strangled curse up to his feet. Ely’s eyes were closed but she still breathed. There was blood from her wound but not enough to be deadly. He had seen something else on that blade though and fear gripped his heart. He had heard that sometimes trollocs poisoned their blades. “Medic.” He cried. The sounds of battle were fading around him and were not being replaced by those of the wounded. He bent to scoop up Ely in his arms before he realized that his right hung useless at his side. “Forgive me.” He whispered as he rolled her over on her back, squatted down, slide his good under her and lifted her up onto his shoulder. He stumbled towards the lodge as he called again for a medic. A wolkin appeared, slender and grey. She rested a bloody hand on his shoulder and pointed towards the lodge. With a short nod he pushed on towards the lodge. “Where is she hurt?” The woman asked. “Her back.” Arinth replied in pained gasps. The woman’s eyes found the wound and looked it over, evaluating it. “There was something on the beast’s blade. Can you help?” The woman’s face turned grim. “We can help. We have been treating the others like her.” Arinth allowed himself a moment of relief. As they reached the lodge others came and took her gently from his arm. He forced himself to let go. He slumped against the lodge. His mind flashed over the recent scenes and realized that he was the commanding officer. He saw a group of soldiers nearby and called them over. They had a shocked look in their eyes that often came with one’s first battle. He pointed to the first one. “Gather a group together and get the wounded to the lodge. Focus on those with the most severe injuries first. Go, now.” He looked at the next one. “Gather another group together and make sure each of these fallen trollocs is killed. Be careful, a wounded trolloc is still a very dangerous enemy. Go, now.” He looked at the third soldier. The look of shock was beginning to fade from his eyes as he prepared himself for his orders. “Check on those assigned to protect the newly found objects. If they are wounded or unable to guard the objects, I need four soldiers guarding them. Go.” The fourth soldier, a young woman, stepped forward. “Find the rest of my soldiers. I want them to report to me immediately. Go.” Arinth stood as he watched the soldiers hurry to their tasks. The wolkin were already securing the perimeter. He would leave that task to them. A healer from the wolkin came up to him. He believed he had heard them called sages. “You are wounded.” The sage said. “Let us tend to your wounds.” Arinth shook his head. “There are many wounded. “See to the others first.” The sage frowned disapprovingly but nodded. Arinth held himself upright as the soldiers of the band began gathering around. They needed strength right now. As he stood, he could think of little else besides Ely. “Light, let her be ok.” He whispered.
  15. Ely took the drink from his outstretched hand. Her hand grasping the cup and taking it without making the slightest contact. There was both disappointment and relief in that. He knew such a touch would feel like lightning in his veins, and while exhilarating, it was potentially dangerous. He had seen others amongst the band have casual encounters. Rarely did both parties escape the exchange unscathed. After the avoided eye contact and incidental touch her words caught him by surprise. The sound of her voice quickened his pulse. It wasn’t a soft voice, but for all that, he found it even more alluring. He watched her closely, searching for a hint of sarcasm, but there was none. He did, however, see her wince as she took a drink. He frowned. It was getting late into the day to still be suffering from a hangover. She would have had to have had a lot to drink. From the way others were acting too it seemed like the night before had been a night to remember. For once he was glad to have avoided partaking. The sudden commotion had momentarily drawn her attention. She had asked him if he thought it was something important that had been found. He tried to desperately to think of something intelligent or clever to say but came up empty. She glanced over at him. Reevaluating him, he was sure. “Best go see if we’re needed.” At first, he thought the words were a dismissal and he stood there standing as he watched her start to walk away. Then he realized she had said “we”. He broke into a jog to catch up with her. She accepted his presence without comment. He followed in her wake as she moved through the crowd. There seemed to be a large degree of interest in the contents discovered in a box. Arinth couldn’t have told the difference between anything found and the contents of a dusty attic. Arinth rubbed his beard thoughtfully. They certainly sounded like important things. It was an unexpected bonus to the whole excursion. As the crowd began to disperse Arinth saw Ely’s head snap around and her arms reach for her daggers. Huge, hulking forms appeared suddenly in their midst. Arinth was momentarily stunned by their appearance. They were like a mishmash of human and animals. He cursed himself for leaving his sword at the lodging. It would have gotten in the way of the work. Know he felt naked. He grabbed the closest thing he could find. Just as he rose to his feet a lumbering nightmare with a ram’s head, came crashing towards him with its sword raised high. It was a trolloc. Arinth crouched low and brought the handle of the shovel up and thrust it forward. If it was part man than there was the chance it had the same weaknesses of a man. The wooden handle slammed into the trolloc between the leg and with a groan it dropped to its knees, stunned. Arinth spun the shovel around quickly, before the trolloc could recover, and stabbed the blade of the shovel into the beast’s neck. He yanked it free savagely and the trolloc collapsed with blood pouring from its throat. From the corner of his eye he caught sight of another trolloc barreling towards him. He spun away just as the huge, ugly, axe cleaved through the air where he had been. He stuck out the handle of the shovel between its legs and pulled, dragging a leg out from under the beast. Arinth looked quickly around. Where was Ely? As good as she might be with those daggers, they would be no match against the superior reach of a trolloc. He brought the shovel down to stab the trolloc. The snarling eagle faced trolloc swung his axe around to deflect the shovel. The axe cut through the handle effortlessly. Arinth, stumbled, off balance from the unexpected change in weight. The trolloc rose up and grabbed him. He pulled him down and rolled over so that he was above Arinth. With a screech the trolloc raised his head back. Ainrth’s hand reached for the splintered shaft of the shovel with one hand while he raised the other to up to shield himself from the trolloc. It lunged down, its beak going towards his face. He twisted away, hoping not to lose an eye. He stabbed from the side and felt the shaft plunge into the side of the trolloc’s head. He crawled out from under the dead body of the trolloc and called out for Ely. There was chaos all around him. How could they handle such a foe? He picked up the fallen ax. Sometimes all a person could do was choose to stand. An angry howl split the air and then others answered it.
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