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  1. (OOC: Those who need them can find a full description of the Wolfkin Territory, Stedding and the Tracker Lodge HERE & the Citadel HERE. You can find Rhya's bio, complete with update, HERE , for reference. I've read Nox's and Merdyn's bios obviously. If anyone else wants to hop in, we can take that as it comes.) *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-* (IC) The soft whisper of leather against stone echoed softly around the Citadel's lofty corridors as the young woman's footsteps took her ever closer to the Council's meeting chamber. Dust motes spun lazily in the air at her passing, caught in the rays of early morning sunshine, and an array of odours... some pleasant, some less so... assailed her nostrils. Her nose wrinkled briefly in distaste, the combination nudging at her impatience to be outside; free in the clean air of the forests once more. Part of her had looked forward to being in a city again, surrounded by all the sights and sounds she'd grown up with. A little excitement to break up the recent spate of pick ups had sounded appealing but, of course, she hadn't factored in the changes wrought by the last two years, her heightened senses making the past few days more of a tribulation than a joy. She nodded briefly at the two Band guards flanking the door ahead, before walking straight in to the Council Chamber after only a brief rap on the wood. This informality always seemed to surprise the two-legs but the 'kin didn't recognise rank in quite the same way. Her eyes found Karoan seated at the left side of a huge oak table, listening intently to some point their Black Tower contact, Covai, was making and she sliently bemoaned the lack of wolves. If Shadow had been with her, their method of communication would have rendered this conversation unnecessary. She walked swiftly round the table and bent to whisper in Karoan's ear, passing along Winifred's request verbatim. He didn't miss the expectant hopefulness in her gaze and his lips twitched slightly in response. The Watcher Leader knew all too well how keen she was to be gone from here. Turning to the man in black and catching his attention, Karoan, raised his voice, "Forgive me for interrupting, Covai, but Winifred has sent a request from the Stedding. It seems she could use some of your very specialised help. Do you have some men to spare?" He shoved calloused fingers through his dark shaggy hair and looked thoughtfully at the Band's second in command, Amon, sitting to his left. "Any assistance from your engineers wouldn't go amiss either... or anyone capable of a bit of grunt work." The two men quickly assented to Karoan's request, Amon asserting that it would do some of the men good to get out of the Citadel as the talks would not be concluded for some days. "Not to mention it will be an education for most to visit the Stedding. Few at the Black Tower have ever met the 'kin. You folks keep very much to yourself," Covai interjected and looked at the woman. "Ask for Nox at the Embassy. Rhya. He'll help you with the arrangements." Rhya grinned at the Storm Leader. Covai had certainly been to the Stedding; she'd met him twice before. "My thanks. Winifred will be glad to get this work done at last. Any message for Owen before I go, Kar?" The older man shook his head in the negative, stating that he would update the Ranger Leader when he got back home, and Rhya took her leave. *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-* Home. Having collected her small pack and weapons from the rooms she'd been allocated in the Keep, Rhya slung her bow across her back and broke into an easy lope. She passed quickly by the various Barracks and negotiated her way through the growing crowds in the city proper. It was still early but a place this size never truly slept. The logisitics of keeping everything running was rather mind boggling. Finally, with a quick wave of acknowledgement to her fellow Ranger, Rori, who was sitting dicing with a couple of off duty Banders just inside the huge entrance gates, Rhya was out of the Citadel proper. The Black Tower embassy was quite a structure in itself and Rhya's sharp gaze raked its exterior slowly. Impressive, she thought, reminded in some ways of the Watcher's Library. Of course, most of the building around here had been achieved with Ogier help too, so the similarity was hardly surprising. The Ogier didn't do anything by halves. Rousing herself from her contemplation, she strode purposefully up to the first man in black who was in her path. "Storm Leader Covai directed me here... to ask for a man named Nox," she commented briefly, fixing him with a firm golden-eyed stare. No need to inform all and sundry of the details. "Would you inform him, please?"
  2. With a bounce in his step, Arkin trotted towards the Citadel after a day of scouting out the surrounding area and more recently, exercising horses with his mates. He had settled into the Band quite well, his heart and mind still quite unused to settling anywhere. He had friends now that he could actually get attached to without having to explain why he would be leaving the next day Sending a grin over his shoulder to Arinth, who was plodding along behind him, Arkin began to pull out the wraps he kept in his pocket for scouting shifts. He had refined his walking peddler's wagon appearance, stripping it down to the bare essentials for his sentimental collector's mind, but he still had a fair amount more colour and noise than was a good idea to be shifty with. As an experienced thief in his early life, Arkin was quite skilled at ensuring that his stealth was complete, that no-one would hear him when he approached from around the corner, but in the colourful foregates and big cities that he was used to, Arkin had not had to make use of camouflague. And so, he had begun to re-invent his old stealth systems. When he'd first begun to wear bells, Arkin had immediately developed wraps that he could don quickly to dim their bright tinkling, and now he used those wraps, dyed in the colours of the forest. One covered part of his hair as a bandanna, successfully holding his bells silently in place. As for the colour on his arms and legs, Arkin had wraps that wound up his trousers, and his best invention to date, a coat. He had dyed the inside of his coat as camouflague, and sewn the pockets into both sides, so all he need do for perfect camouflague, was to turn his bright coat inside out and quite literally wrap up. Arkin was broken from his ritual preparations by a large mound of fruit that caught his eye, piled carelessly beneath a tree. Looking around for an owner and seeing none, Arkin flitted over and gave a sniff. Yep, the fruit was off, and it smelt quite bad, but only if you breathed through your mouth. Turning and shrugging at his friends, Arkin pulled out a knife and gave a swift cut to a mango that was within arm's reach. A grin taking over his features, Arkin spun to the men with him and felt a glint of mischeivous glee enter his eye. "Ok, we can't just leave this stuff here. We have to do something with it."
  3. Arkin briefly considered just leaving Arinth a message and heading straight to the tavern, but friendly courtesy prevailed, so he let himself into Arinth's tent instead. He wasn't there-maybe on the training grounds or doing whatever it was that Infants did with their spare time. Arkin himself had just got off duty training some newer Scouts. They were all a bit rubbish when they started off. He'd spent the last two hours lying in a tree and singing, yelling out the names of prospective Scouts as they attempted to sneak up on him. A few had managed to disguise their identities well enough that he just had to point at them, and call out, "Ooh, very good. Behind the beech tree." The two hours before that, he had been sitting in a different tree wearing his reversed coat and his bandana, occasionally crawling over to another tree or ghosting behind the Scouts who were looking for him. Only one of them had found him. He had high hopes for that kid. Arkin understood that he was very good at vanishing-he was almost a graduation challenge; Scouts were allowed out on real patrols once they had found Arkin really attempting to hide from them-but he had been hoping for a higher success rate.They weren't completely new and he'd been training them. They knew exactly what to look for to find him. But they'd get there. Maybe tomorrow. He really hoped he hadn't been that rubbish when he started. He remembered doing a similar exercise. He'd started ghosting the other scouts-in-training and picking their pockets instead of whatever the actual task had been. They hadn't appreciated it at the time, but his trainer had thought it was brilliant and moved him up to the next training bracket. Master Gabbon would have smacked him for ignoring orders and disarming his allies. But the Scout trainer had loved it. And now Arkin was helping to teach. When had that happened? When had any of this happened? Who had thought it was a good idea to put him in a position of responsibility? Well, whatever they'd been thinking, it had to have been worse for them to have Arinth a Sergeant. Arkin grinned to himself and had a drink from one of his flasks. That was yet another reason it was perfectly ok for him to be here rather than skipping the tent and heading to the tavern-he had plenty of drinks right here. And he was really keen for company more than he was for drinks right now. He'd prefer them both at the same time, but he could settle for one or the other for a while. From the trunk in his customary spot in Arinth's tent, Arkin could see the reports scattering Arinth's desk. Grinning to himself again, he took a longer swallow and swapped hands, getting to his feet and walking over to the desk. He picked up a paper and squinted at it for a moment. Miri and Arinth had done their best to help him learn his letters, and had succeeded, to a large extent, but Arkin was still fairly slow to read. He was working on it. After a bit of brain power, he registered that the report had something to do with infantry numbers in the third company and put it back down, the aim more to read the letters than get any information from them. Finally, there was the sound of footsteps outside. Arkin waited a moment for Arinth to actually near the tent-sometimes having scout ears was more annoying than it was useful.
  4. OOC: Heh, couldn't resist the Dark Tower reference in the title 'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower come'. Open to any Band people, particularly if s/he wants to train Tris. The new girl smiled, checked her reflection in the looking glass, straightened her tunic, and headed for her lesson. Just remember Tristram, for the moment, you’re a boy, she reminded her flat-chested mirrored self as she stopped and looked back at the empty room. “Off I go then.” The mirror Tris seemed a good looking boy, with the dark hair and pale skin of her parents. She’d only been with the Band for a few nights, was on probation still, and she hadn’t yet revealed her real self to anybody except the medic who brought her in, and ‘grandpa’ Burgandy, and that was by accident. Well, Tris mused, both of them obviously got bigger problems than Tris on their heavy shoulders. She felt sorry for the medic Jehryn — he seemed in a particularly foul mood and she took care to keep her distance from the bandaged-up man. She left her room, and walked to the far end of the street past a sour looking officer, and then on a windy corner, checked the directions that’d been written on a scrap of paper. Right at this corner, past the rowdy tavern, and up the steps into the main area of the Citadel. She was amused to see training sessions were already in progress all around her, complete with attentive students of every age and description. Training was all very new to her. She had to try her best not to screw it up. There were many nice-looking men and women who seemed honest and good hearted, but Tris couldn’t trust them right now. But she wouldn’t run away again, not until she found her mother. At times, Tris despaired of ever finding the bloody woman outside of dreams . . . There was no point in thinking like that. She’d come too far to turn back. Tris Landorin
  5. It was early in the morning, the sun was barely up when Nox had groaned the first time. Adrim shifted in the chair he'd fallen asleep in. His body ached. He'd had the boys take Nox to his house. Nox would be more comfortable in his own house. He'd freak out less when he finally woke up. But Adrim wasn't about to let the boy be alone after nearly dying. There were already rumors. What was another? "Why didn't you sleep here?" Nox asked waking Adrim from his drowsy slumber. He blinked at the other man who was trying to sit up. "I didn't think it was appropriate." Nox gave Adrim a shy smile. "People already think you and I are sleeping together." Adrim blushed. "I'd rather not fuel any truth to it." Nox shrugged. "Are the soldiers and the boy alright?" Adrim got up and filled the wash basin from the water pitcher and warmed with a thread of fire. He splashed his face while he felt the burn of Nox's eyes on his back. "Perfectly fine. I'm going to wash up and head to the medic tent where they will meet me. I took the boy home. His parents were worried sick about him, apparently it's not the first time he's wandered from home." Nox nodded. "I'm glad he's not homeless." Adrim smiled. Nox always had a soft spot for the kids less fortunate. He was always empty giving up his last bit of coin to feed them when he saw them thieving to make ends meet. Adrim knew it was a hard life for him, and he continued to make it hard now. He sighed and walked over to Nox and pressed him back down into bed as he sat down next to him. "I better not find you out of bed until this evening when I come back." Adrim pressed a kiss to his forehead. "You rest." Nox sighed. "Fine." Relieved the younger man would obey he got up and walked out of the one room abode. Nox lived even more meagerly than most on the Farm. **** The medic tent was still occupied by the sick boy, Adrim relieved the night watch and checked on the patient, his fever seemed to have broken. It was a good sign. He'd pull through and then they'd begin his training immediately. Until then he'd stay here. Adrim waited for his two students to show themselves. The later they were the less they were going to see today. He smiled and wondered if the older one would be late for him. He'd soon find Nox was too easy on him.
  6. Rank: Private Current WS: 4 Progress to Corporal Reqs: WS 6 + 2 RP's -Intro RP: complete (Jugglenauts in Baerlon) - In which Tristram meets Jehryn a medic who brings her to the Band -1st Weapons Training RP: complete (WS training with fellow banders) - Face, fist. Fist, face. You'll be Friends, I'm sure (Hand to hand combat) -2nd Weapons Training RP: complete (Snatch the pebble from my hand young un) - stamina training a.k.a. a lot of marching orders from Burgandy - -3rd Weapons Training RP: (incomplete) -4th Weapons Training RP: (incomplete) -Choice of RP: complete (A Night in the Tavern (Open)) - In which Tristram meets Burgandy an older man whom she dubs 'grandpa' oh and there's a brawl. (Punishment Time for Burgandy) - follow up the next day, but incomplete
  7. Elynde leaned back against one of the many tall ash trees, native to this part of Andor, that lined the track she was following and took a long thoughtful drink from her water bottle, scanning the surroundings with a sharp gaze. Nothing stirred. She was beginning to suspect that she wouldn’t find this Band by herself but given the isolation of the area, wasn’t entirely sure what to do about the predicament. Dusk would not be long in making its presence known and she wasn’t particularly enthralled with the idea of sleeping out there alone for the night. At least it isn’t raining or likely to any time soon, she contemplated the clear sky for a few seconds as she replaced the water bottle in her pack. Deciding there was nothing for it but to continue in the same direction, on the premise that the track was worn enough to be regularly travelled, Elynde set off, determination marking every stride. She didn’t mind walking, having become accustomed to it in the last couple of years, but she did find herself longing for a hot bath to get rid of the dust and grime that accompanied any journey. Hasty washes in cold streams aside, she had not had the luxury of a bath in several weeks and was feeling the lack. An hour later Elynde found herself following a wider pathway, wide enough for two horsemen abreast, the tightly packed dirt suggesting heavier local traffic and the possibility of nearby farms or villages. The area was too rural to support anything that could seriously be called a town and she knew Baerlon was well to the north of her current position. A sharp cracking noise brought her out of her reverie suddenly, though she did not stop walking. There was nothing to see amongst the dense trees and scrub but there was no doubt in her mind that someone was there, watching her progress. Instinct told her it was no animal that had caused the sound. There! she caught a brief flash of metal behind a storm damaged trunk off to her left, just tall enough to conceal a person, and as she reached it, she casually dropped her pack to the ground and stretched. “I know you’re there, so you’d be as well showing yourself,” Elynde’s voice was almost conversational, belying the tension in her frame. There was no point in antagonising someone who might... might... not have any ill intentions. A man slowly appeared, moving into the centre of the path, facing her with an unpleasant grin on his face. He was about an inch shorter than Elynde, his skin swarthy and pockmarked, framed by lank, greasy blonde hair that hung just to his shoulders. His sword hung at his belt untouched. Obviously he didn’t see her as any real threat. His mistake. He took a few steps closer, the grin becoming more of a leer and she could see his train of thought reflected in his lascivious expression. “Wha’s a lil’ birdie like you doin’ out here alone then, eh?” the accent was broad and not one Ely could place easily. Not Andoran that was for sure. Wherever he was from, she misliked the implication of his words when added to the way his eyes slid over her frame. She shifted her weight imperceptibly, replying, “I’m looking for the Band of the Red Hand. If you happen to know where they are, I’d appreciate directions.” “The Band is it missy?” the man chortled as though she’d told a joke. “Well now, I reckon I could be showin’ ye the way... if ye make it worth my while...” Ely’s hands moved for her daggers of their own accord just as the fool lunged for her arm, slicing in rapid succession across his wrist and shoulder. She barely noted the surprise on his face as she spun behind him, curving her arm around his neck so her blade lay across his throat. “One move,” she grated in his ear, “just one...” The threat hung there for a moment until Ely’s ears registered the jingle of bridles and the stamp of several hooves heralding an audience to the little contretemps. Raising her head slightly, she favoured the party of horsemen with a hard-eyed stare, picking out the likely leaders. Deliberately, she took a step back then raised one booted foot, planting it firmly on her assailant’s rear before shoving hard and sending him sprawling face down in the dirt. “One of yours is he?” she enquired, a clear edge of contempt to her voice and an eyebrow arching sardonically. These newcomers certainly looked like soldiers but if they were part of this infamous Band, they chose their company badly... very badly indeed. Either that or discipline was lax. Perhaps joining them had not been such a good idea.
  8. As the Traveling portal closed behind Martyn, the Malkieri warrior took a deep breath, wondering where he was supposed to go to now. He knew who he needed to see, a woman named Salla Alliatar, acting Commander of the Band of the Red Hand. And in his hand, he held a letter bearing the seal of the Dragon himself, which probably meant orders from above. He could understand how he got to be selected for this task. He had been among those that fought that disastrous battle in Shienar. Narrowing down the options further, he had also been with the group in Tear that had sworn fealty to the Lord Dragon, and had recieved training from him personally. And lastly, his block made him the most expendable of the group, the one that could be missed for a couple of days without an all too great impact on the daily training routine. Looking over his shoulder, he figured he should be getting off the Traveling grounds now before he would no longer be delivering a letter to anyone. After a few minutes of walking around, he noticed someone that wasn't overly busy, and walked over to ask which way it was to the Commander's office. Some ten minutes later, he was knocking on a wooden door, waiting to be given permission to enter.
  9. Keeping a cheery smile on his face was difficult, but Mehrin somehow managed to do it. He had come across the Band's path five days previously, and had spotted the first tail scouts two days later. By now, he was seeing one every hour or so, which meant that there were at least four that he was missing. He made a point to wave at each one that he spotted; by now, tales should have reached the Band regarding the strange fellow clad in black following them. More would probably mention his oddities, including an over-sized claymore and a proclivity for rising before the sun to train with said weapon until sunrise. By now, anybody that had been with the Band for more than a year knew that Mehrin Deathwatch was beating a path to their back door. The idea was bittersweet. At one time, the Band had been home. For many years, Mehrin had marched with these men, killed alongside them, and seen many of them die. Those memories came unbidden at times. On the trek south to meet the Band, Mehrin had passed by Bandar Eban, where the combined might of the Band, the Children, the Wolfkin, and the Aiel had cast back the invading forces of Seanchan. Mehrin had stood on the pitted and twisted battlefield, had said a prayer to the Creator- if the bastard was listening- at the mass graves. Even the Seanchan ones. It was there that Mehrin had received a field promotion that seemed to send him spiraling up the ranks until he had received the worst news possible: he had been promoted to Commander of the Band. The walk south had continued, bringing the plague of memory with it. Step. Anya Tarin Winter, an Illianer and infantrywoman who Mehrin had loved, died shortly after his promotion. Step. The walls of the Citadel, a simple wooden barricade, were being eyed and measured by Ogier masons, who would be given free hand in the building of a mighty fortress. Step. A day in the life of a Commander: hours of self-training before sunrise, then hours of training with recruits, an expensive bottle of brandy for breakfast. Step. A woman, thought long dead, staggered into the Citadel, claiming her name was Drea Raylin. Step. A girl, no more than nine, came to his office, a daughter named Renalie Malon. Step. His daughter, taken. Mehrin had forced memory to silence after that. It was too much to think about all that had happened. He needed to forget. He needed to move. In Saldaea, Mehrin had nearly picked up the bottle again but for a message that arrived for the Band's eyes-and-ears. The code was one that meant "call to arms". The one word had read, "Tanchico." There was no time wasted. Step. The scouts were coming out of the trees, some with bows drawn and aimed. Mehrin raised his hands, still smiling, and said, "A black wind blows from the north, and the grey geese fly south for winter." The scouts looked around at each other in confusion. More were limbering up their bows now. "I take it that means they've changed the password?" Mehrin asked rhetorically. Well, there was nothing to do but wait. Somebody would be along to fetch him eventually.
  10. ...and you have been found wanting ******************************************************************************* ~ There is no way a wolf can be as immature as you, Nightfall ~ Nightfall stood with her back turned to Lorelai, her tail twitching irritably. Lorelai rolled her eyes and folded her arms under her breasts firmly. Light, but that wolf could be so bloody stubborn! Lorelai had the utmost respect towards the animal, but Nughtfall pushed her patience towards its limits at times. Lorelai took a deep breath and rounded on Nightfall. ~ This is a serious matter, Night. We patrol together, hunt together, stand guard as the other sleeps. Don't be so quick to wave this off ~ Nightfall growled. ~ Even if I wasn't a Wolfkin... I could still smell your stench a mile away. You need a bath, Nightfall ~ It was a bit hard not to finish that statement with a giggle, but Lorelai managed to disguise the amusement with a cough. It didn't fool her wolf, though. Her eyes just diminished to a narrow slit. ~ There's a river close by... if you want we can spare a few hours and go to...~ Nightfall took on a defensive stance that made Lorelai trail off. Despite the long time Lorelai knew her wolf, she wasn't too clear about their hygiene antics. However it was quite apparent at that point that they did not appreciate grooming tips from others. Lorelai leaned forward to pat the animal, but Nightfall pulled back. ~ I will take care of it ~ And with that the wolf was gone. Lorelai blinked and sighed. She never would have guessed her wolf would have just as many mood swings as she did. Leaning back on a tree, she wondered if perhaps she pushed too much. Then, suddenly, she just started laughing. Lecturing about baths, tantrums, running off. This resembled too much a dysfunctional family. And the fact that she seemed to be playing the parental figure was all too ridiculous. Lorelai's laugh came into a halt abruptly. She wrinkled her brow and dove into a near by bush, to conceal herself. Sure enough, moments later, someone emerged from within the woods. Lorelai Ranger
  11. Sweltering, unnatural heat changing to bloody midwinter in less than a bloody month. Just my flaming luck. Irritably, Calder Berrick clunked his tankard of wine- it was the only word that Calder could bring himself to put to it- on the wooden table and watched the merchant next to him as he picked up the dice. The merchant had been living large and laughing condescendingly at his fellow gamblers only ten minutes ago, but now he was grim as death. His winnings of the night had inexplicably found themselves drawn to Calder shortly after he had seated himself. Calder gave the man a grin, earning a glare in reply. Some people just didn't have a sense of humor. He grinned wider, though the grin was only skin deep. Ungrateful bastard, who's coin has been keeping your flaming cup full? he thought venomously. The dice in the cup rattled for a few seconds before the merchant sent them spinning across the table, then he let out a cheer. Four sixes and a five. "Beat that, little lordling!" he gloated. Calder didn't really hear him. In his mind, there was a hissing, almost similar to a snake, but not the same. It was happening again. The sound had stuck in his mind ever since that fateful day at the Stone of Tear, when he had used fireworks to blow a hole in the wall. Calder knew the sound of a fuse intimately; it had nearly killed him before. However, he knew that there were no fireworks this time. Not like the Illuminators' fireworks, anyway. Calder was not an idiot, and he could reach a logical conclusion. The fuse only meant that something was about to happen, and the flaming Pattern was about to meddle in his bloody life yet again. In a daze, Calder threw the dice, unsurprised when five sixes came up. The other men around the table smiled smugly; the merchant was furious. “Cheat!” he cried, hurling his chair away as he stood, his hand moving for the sword at his waist. Reacting faster than thought, Calder stood as well, his fingers deftly teasing one of the knives from his sleeve. The merchant found himself standing quite tall, sword less than quarter-drawn. “I’ve been using your flaming dice for the last ten flaming minutes, you goat-kissing Trolloc!” he growled. “You gamble, you lose, you bloody well take it gracefully!” Unbidden, many more memories swam up, some of them his own, some belonging to dead men, all of them of similar events. Neither he nor the dead men in his head had ever reacted so strongly. Bloody fuses and bloody premonitions and bloody, flaming luck! Easing off the blade, Calder looked at the merchant coolly as he collected his winnings. “I apologize for my outburst,” he said carefully, leaving a gold crown on the table. “Drink on that until it runs out. Light’s blessing.” Out in the night, Calder tried to whistle a tune to keep his spirits up, but there was nothing for it. The fireworks in his mind were threatening to go off, as they had been doing since he had ridden through the gate of Tanchico a week ago. The longer they whispered their viper’s hiss, the more tense Calder became, though he could not remember ever losing control as he had tonight. Maybe it was this business with the Panarch and the King. Despite his stated reasons for being in Tanchico- an overwhelming desire to get away from the lords whose levies made up the Legion of the Dragon before he strangled them- the two had been plying for advantage over the other by winning his approval. This had escalated to the point where the king had offered him lodgings in his palace, while the panarch had offered lodgings in her bed. It had taken very little thought to refuse both of them. A shadow passed over the moon. Instinctively, Calder looked up, seeing only darkness against darkness in the sky. In all likelihood, it was a cloud. The concept of “all likelihood” had been long absent from Calder’s life. Not knowing why he was even bothering with it, Calder found himself climbing the wall of a nearby building, bringing cries of, “Thief!” and, “Vagabond!” and, “There’s a man in the window!” from inside. For a moment, Calder found himself staring at a crossbow after accidentally kicking over a wash basin left on the sill, but a gold crown dropped on the floor left the man forgetting that there was ever a visitor that night. The roof gained, Calder scanned the night sky. As he suspected, it was full of stars. That could mean drakgar, he thought coldly as he untied the odd quarterstaff he had slung over his shoulder. His scan wrapped around the entire city, ending above the harbor. Convulsively, his hand tightened around the haft of the quarterstaff. There were ships far out to sea, but their shadow on the horizon was visible. And above the ships and approaching shore, small shapes flew in the air. Blood and bloody ashes, it’s the flaming Seanchan! In his mind, Calder changed over to a general’s mentality. “If I can see them,” he muttered, “then the city guard can see them, too. They wouldn’t take a chance like that unless… oh, burn me…” Another shadow passed over the moon. Calder followed its path, barely able to make out the swept-wing shape of one of those bloody flying creatures that the Seanchan used. “Unless they were already in the flaming city.” A flash of light near the west gate caught Calder’s eye. The Tanchicans had a barracks complex in that area. The echoing boom that followed the light confirmed Calder’s suspicion. The Seanchan had landed. More flashes of light from the ground, and a few bolts of lightning from the air, and the fox medallion around Calder’s neck went cold. “Blood and bloody ashes,” he muttered. That meant fighting. It was past time that he left the city. That was when the building under Calder’s feet shuddered, accompanied by the sound of an explosion. It was nothing to the explosion in Calder’s mind. “Just my flaming luck,” he muttered, as a corner of the building gave way. Then, there was nothing to do but fall… ***** Even before he could hear or see, Calder was aware of the pain. It felt as if a building had fallen on him, or maybe he had enjoyed too much wine. Possibly both. “At least I can bloody well be sure that I’m still alive. I would feel a damn sight better if I was dead,” Calder groaned. This was echoed seconds later by some rather colorful cursing as he forced his eyes open. All there was to be had was pain. However, Calder could be certain of one thing: he either had a bad head for wine, or he had fallen and hit his head. This theory was supported by some careful experimentation. All of his fingers and toes seemed to work. His eyes, finally recovering from the dazzling pain of sunlight streaming through a window, seemed to be having problems. They were not showing him his room. He was in a large room that suggested that its owner was quite well-to-do. Extremely well-to-do, as a matter of fact. Sitting up caused Calder a moment of nausea, but he was soon limping across the room- his body, it seemed was covered from his shoulders to his toes with livid bruises- to the strange staff that he had gotten at the end of his old life. With it, Calder limped to the window. The city was a bustle of activity. From his vantage point, Calder could see the bustle of troops in the streets. In the air, raken and to’raken circled the city. The King’s Palace was… Calder rubbed his eyes. It couldn’t be. The King’s Palace was a smoking pile of rubble, with hardly a stone left standing on top of another. The King must have chosen to fight to the death, and the Seanchan had obviously obliged him. With growing confusion, Calder began scouring the streets for the Panarch’s Palace, wondering if he’d find that it had come to the same fate. It wasn’t there! There was no- “… oh, blood and bloody ashes…” From behind him, Calder heard somebody snigger. Still leaning heavily on his quarterstaff, Calder turned to confront the newcomer, only to find the Panarch herself standing behind him. “What am I doing here?” Calder asked, a bit more harshly than he had intended. The Panarch didn’t answer right away, instead making a point to thoroughly examine Calder. It took a moment for him to notice the draft in his nether-regions. With as much dignity as he could muster, Calder hurled himself at the bed in which he had found himself only moments before, pulling the blankets up under his chin. “Pity,” the Panarch muttered. Then, as if she hadn’t spoken, the woman said, “My soldiers were patrolling the city when they heard the sounds of a building collapsing. Imagine their surprise when they found a young man with a large cut and several bruises on his head in the middle of the street, curled up inside what used to be a window. One of the men recognized you, and issued orders for you to be brought here.” At that, the Panarch smiled mischievously. Apparently, she had had his description circulated among her soldiers. Also apparently, she had no idea who he really was. “I hope you’ve slept well, too. You’ve been unconscious for a week.” A week! What had the Seanchan done to that palace? “Anyway,” she continued, “by the time you were brought here, the Seanchan were deeply entrenched. I could see that there was no hope of victory, but our dear king was not nearly as wise. He rallied his troops bravely, claiming that he would die before giving the city to these bloody invaders.” The woman shuddered. “The Seanchan obliged him, setting their damane to tearing his palace down around him.” The Panarch began eying Calder again, sizing him up. “I do hope that you will be on your feet soon,” she said. “The Seanchan governor is rather interested in meeting you, but she has declared that you are to be given time to recuperate. Hopefully, a couple of days will see you right as rain.” The smile that the Panarch gave Calder was predatory. Where is my bloody luck now?
  12. Amon had just finished checking the hooves on his horse, making sure there were no stones, or foreign matter lodged in the hoof. Standing up, Amon stretched, working the kinks out of his muscles and then taking a clean rag wiped the sweat from his face. Just as he was replacing the rag in his pocket, a messenger entered the stables and made his way straight to where Amon was standing. “Sir i have a message for you to meet the Commander in the Council chambers at your earliest convenience.” Amon took the proffered message and quickly read it. “It would seem the Leader of the Miners guild is here and wants out help with something. I will see you at the evening meal, Ham. Try and stay out of trouble until then.” Amon did not hear Ham’s muttered reply, which was just as well as it was far from complimentary. Returning to his quarters, which were more like a suite of rooms, Amon quickly washed and changed into a clean uniform. After he had dressed and pulled on a clean pair of boots Amon made his way to the Council Chambers where he greeted his Commander and the civilians present. The meeting dragged on for the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon, it was not that what the Miners Guild wanted was complicated, more the case that the Miner’s Leader was so long winded that it took him forever just to say “yes”. Eventually, however, the Miner’s Leader finished his statement and sat down. Amon and the Commander of the Band of the Red Hand conferred briefly before offering up their reply. Thankfully what was needed was quite simple to grant, and was as much to the Band’s benefit as it was to the Miners. Apparently they had discovered a huge new seam of gold and silver, deep underground and they wanted extra security on the caravan that was going to be making its way to Baerlon Most of the way would be travelled by barge, but that did not stop the cargo becoming a target for anyone daring enough to try and hijack it. It was agreed that the Band would provide a Company of Cavalry to accompany the goods from the Mountains of Mist to the river and the waiting barges. From there a Company of Heavy infantry would also board the barges and guard the goods as the barges made their way to Baerlon. Amon was to lead the Cavalry element and would depart in two days time from the Citadel. “Well if everyone is happy with this why don’t we adjourn to one of our Inn’s for a meal and a drink to celebrate this happy occasion?” Amon was trying not to be sarcastic, but playing nurse maid to a bunch of smelly miners was not his idea of fun. Everyone agreed to Amon’s idea, except for his Commander who claimed that she had a prior meeting to attend. Amon suspected she liked the Miners about as much as he did and that she was using this as an excuse to avoid their noxious odours. His suspicions were confirmed when she turned around and winked at him just before she closed the door. Two days had passed since that meeting and as the early rays of the morning sun shone on the walls of the Citadel, Amon led a Company of Cavalry through the Citadel’s main gate and onto the road leading to the Mountains of Mist. “Well Ham it would appear we are going to be enjoying several days of seriously boring company, which smells almost as much as they are boring. Do miners not talk about anything other than mining and drinking?” Shaking his head at the rhetorical nature of his question, Amon and Ham rode on in silence. Amon (Tik Tik) Turamber Under Commander, BotRH
  13. Day twenty was not starting out very well. Mehrin had gotten used to the massive headaches that accompanied his alcohol withdrawal, but today's was much worse than usual; Mehrn felt as if his head was going to explode. And then there were the sounds. When he wasn't hearing every sound around him amplified tenfold, it was... screaming. That hadn't been the worst of it, either. When he had woken up, Mehrin had attempted to stab the man standing over him with the knife that he kept under his pillow, but stopped when he realized that he was stabbing at empty air. It was now two hours later, and the hallucinations had only been getting more realistic. Mehrin was only half-aware of the little man giving his report, the rest of his attention focused on the miniature battle taking place on his desk. "Ummm... sir?" The man's hesitant speech snapped Mehrin back to reality. "Are you okay?" Mehrin blinked dizzily. The room seemed to be doing a slow spin around him. And it was picking up speed. Standing unsteadily, Mehrin staggered to the door. The officer on duty looked at him strangely, wondering just what was going on, but Mehrin didn't pay any more attention to him than he would have paid a fly. Need to get back to my room. This ain't going to be good...
  14. The wheels came to an abrupt halt as the merchant drew rein. How Renalie had managed to remain undetected on her journey, an under-seat stowaway as quiet as a mouse, she did not know. She was grateful for that fact though. Her slender build had always made her good at hiding games and no one would find her if she put her mind to it. Nevertheless, this seemed to be the wagon’s final destination, and in time it would be well past time to get out of this conveyance before she was discovered and told off. A buzzing sound – excited grown-up conversation from the sounds of it, floated on the still air and a half dozen strange smells assailed her nose. Her heart leapt in her chest. Was father here? Nothing but stillness reigned after a few moments. All jolting movements and motions in the wagon itself had ceased and glimpses of bare shadows under the crack in the door melted away to nothing as though dawn had come to banish the Forsaken hiding in the cupboard, waiting to punish naughty children. Or so her mother had always said, anyway. Exhaling sharply, Renalie realised she had been holding her breath and caused the sandy locks of hair on her head to fall into her face. Green eyes the same as her mother’s peered out curiously from under the dune-coloured mop, shadowed still by the seat she hid under. Inching forward slowly, Renalie brushed dust from her dress and stood in the wagon wondering what to do. Would father be waiting for her? Waiting to pull her into a big hug and to not let her go for a long, long time? The thought made her smile. Pushing the door open tentatively, Renalie’s eyes widened at the sight of the place she had wound up in. Wow… Everywhere was a-bustle, far busier than her hometown of Lugard, in Murandy. In truth she was a little awed by the thought of asking all those people where her father was: some might be nasty to her. Her life had been somewhat sheltered by her mother wishing to protect and keep her safe; at times a little restrictive as though there were something about her that was special – more special than most, and it would pain her dearly to lose her daughter. Renalie worried briefly, having not even left a note for her mama. She must be worrying about me. I think she would be worrying about me. As soon as she got the opportunity, she vowed to send her mother a letter telling her that everything was alright and that she would be home when she had found her father. But what if people did not want to tell her where he is… Or if they even know? It was easy to recognise that Renalie was in a stable-yard. Where else would a wagon draw rein? That would account for certain of the smells she had first sampled on climbing down from the wagon. It could only be horses. She loved horses! Eyes smiling, her heart wanted to sing – Renalie wanted to sing out loud with the fact that she was with the magnificent equine beasts and she crossed the floor oblivious to anyone that might be there watching and stroked the nose of a delicate seeming white mare with dapples on her flanks. She looks like a lady, a proper lady. “Who’s there? The voice had taken Renalie completely by surprise. She had thought she was free to make her own enquiries as to her father’s presence, but she should not have been surprised that someone had found her. Smiling so that the new person would like her, Renalie began to speak. “Hello. My name is Renalie.†She knew the brogue of Murandy was quite thick in her accent and felt conscious of it, but continued. “I’m looking for my father. Have you seen him? His name is Mehrin.â€
  15. Mehrin could tell that the day was going to be a good one, and the sun hadn't even gotten half its height above the horizon. He had just left his office, a note hanging from the door telling anyone who had business with him to go see Amon. If Mehrin knew the other man, there'd probably be a similar sign on his door sending them to him. He had commandeered a bit of the training grounds near the wall for today's training. Ebony was no slouch when it came to her fighting prowess, and to get a closer look at the two working would require dodging around the rest of the groups training in the area. Hopefully that would discourage spectators. Drawing his claymore, Mehrin drove the blade into the ground and hung his scabbard, cloak, and hat on it. The weapon did occasionally serve purposes other than killing; Mehrin remembered using it once as a crutch. Advanced sword training didn't require a whole lot of talking; most of what would be done would be to hopefully find and eliminate any weaknesses in technique before an opponent could find them. Mehrin preferred training like that.
  16. Kedyn shifted nervously in Arrow's saddle as the column of soldiers spread along the main road of the Citadel waited for the Ashaman at their front to make these gateways. It wasn't as if he didn't believe these things could happen but....Kedyn had a tendency to be suspicious from his time as a Scout and he had only heard storied of these gateways and yet to see one. This would be the first tour of the Black Tower that the Band had created the deal between the two entities. Moving by gateway would be faster as well as create less suspicion, but Kedyn also had ideas that it would be a way for the Black Tower to show what they could do. These gateways had been a large reason behind sealing the deal between the two. The column consisted of members of each of corps, members selected by expirience and suggestion from their commanders. Spread out by corps with the Commanders at the head of the column, and the Captain Generals at the head of each of their divisions in the column. Kedyn led out a small whistle as the silver line formed in the air and spread creating a window into the mysterious Black Tower. A breeze came flowing through the hole sending a shiver down Keydn's spine that was not only from the cool spring wind. Booting Arrow foreward Kedyn rode with the rest of the scouts at the head of the column, taking in the surroundings as they went through out of both reflex and his inbred suspicion. The channelers stationed in the Band were sane enough, but they were surrounded now and Kedyn did not trust places where he had never been. Of course you're only a Sergeant, not much you can do about it. Kedyn looked over his shoulder with a grimace as the window in the air closed and then back to the turning heads of those clothed in black. The Band of the Red Hand had arrived to the Black Tower. Now the only thing that remained to be seen was the welcome they recieved. Kedyn Scout Sergeant Band Division Leader
  17. Dark. Light. Dark. Light. Trees. Dark. Drea blinked one last time and forced herself awake. Sleeping was for those who had time, and time was a comodity Drea no longer knew the definition of. She crawled out of the small abandoned cavern she found to rest in, nestled between two giant oak trees. Her bones ached and she heard them snap in places she new couldn't be healthy. Drea made a mental note to see the medic when she got back -if she got backi. She'd been thinking that a lot the past few days -if- starting to lose hope of ever going home. Home. Drea chuckled to herself. After four years in the Band, she had just come to the point of calling the Band home. Until all this happened. What had happened? Images flashed in Drea's mind. A young woman giving her a tea and a head massage. That woman she remembered but could not put a name to the face. Why? They had to be close or Drea never would have let her in the tent in her bed clothes. The same mysterious woman putting a pillow over Drea's face. Some more tea, a dark, cold and damp room, a man with a crooked nose, another with a painted mask and a black cape and a dagger with a jagged blade. Drea shuddered. Who were they? Why did she only remember some things? A horrid taste filled her mouth and she swallowed hard. "Think Drea, you're a scout. You know this." Drea continued south, following the path she prayed belonged to the Band. No other group would leave a trail this big and this vile. At least she still remembered her scouting. Why wasn't anyone looking for her? Did they even know? Of course they did. An army knows when it's undercommander is missing, like the Queen Bee. How old was this scent? The whole trail. Drea bent down to feel the soil. Firm, but not too firm. A month, maybe. She wasn't far now, they had to stop sometime. She was on their trail. But the trouble with being on their trail meant she was always behind them. Typical; just as Drea finds someone or something she loves, it's gone. As the sun rose to it's peak, Drea stopped by a small stream. She rested her only possessions -the two small daggers she managed to fight back from the man with the crooked nose before she killed him with them- on a nearby rock and knealt down to cup her hands into the water. The weness felt good against her dry lips and she let some spill down the front of her tattered and stained uniform, almost unrecognizable as one from the Band. Drea watched the water stream down her front. Her eyes were caught by a stripe across her chest. She ran a finger along the green stripe and laughed out loud. Laughed for the loss she felt so deeply inside. Laughed because she was too tired to cry the tears she didn't have left. A stick broke on the other side of the stream. Drea froze. She looked around, moving her eyes only. She slowly reached over for her daggers. Behind two trees she saw two heads pop out. "I see you. I am armed" she said in a loud enough voice. She regreted being the first to speak, but she knew they saw her and she was too weak to defend herself anyway. Better to make nice before trouble started. "I am a weary travelor seeking a drink of water. I mean you no harm." "You are on owned property, surrounded by many armed soldiers. Did you know that?" One called out. Soldiers? Drea quickly stood and took a few steps into the stream, water soaking into her boots. "Stay where you are!" The other warned. If this was the Band, these were scouts-and new ones, as she did not recognize them or their voices. And scouts meant business. "I need you to take me to your Commander. It is an emergancy. Please!" Drea heard the desparation in her voice and almost fell into the stream with relief. Drea OOC: *sigh* it's good to be back. Let me know if I messed up and this doesn't go here. :D thanks!
  18. OOC: All wooden barracks are complete. Medical facilities are now complete in wooden forms and medics have moved into them. Wooden Barracks begin being reformed to stone. Consider all PC Barracks made stone. Training areas begin to become more organized. I.E Permanent Archery ranges, Sparring Rings, Riding course etc. Basically all that is needed for training. The Red Keep permenent foundations set, construction barely beginning. Stone continues to go up for the wall 3/10 done. Kedyn watched slightly amazed at the sight of Ogier walking through the Citadel and working on the various barracks, their current job. Across the Citadel the Band had begun moving to and fro to complete their home. Engineers had come together with the Ogier to work on the stone masonry, though he engineers were doing very little compared to the giant Ogier. Across the Citadel the various areas had been continued. Permenant archery targets of every different kind had been erected. Cavalry members had given plans to the engineers for a permenant riding course and it had sprung up as if out of the earth. The sword training areas were no longer simply a grass field, perment practice dummies along with a small sand ring stood were the usual sword training took place. Even the City was sprouting up, the Band paying for the Ogier to also work on that section as well. They, the Ogier, had been there for nearly six months now, coming and going but there was always a prescence working or consulting with the commanders. The first stone inn, nearly three stories high and matching in beauty any inn of Tar Valon had been finished. New merchants were coming and going every day. Domani clothemakers, Andoran silversmiths, a clockmaker had even begun to set up in one of the many vacant buildings. A clockmaker no less! What the Band had had to import was now being made here in the Citadel for the most part. Refugees fleeing their homeland and settling in the Two Rivers, many gravitating towards the safety of the Citadel. It was only a matter of time before the Citadel could be considered a small city matching in beauty and streangth any of the larger cities, many a Band Member was heard boating it would surpasses even Tar Valon. And althought he building were not being made completely by the Tower Kedyn could make out one stone block being lifted into the Air by invisible bonds, a man dressed in all black with a Red Armband around his right bicep watching it intently. The shiver that would run down most peoples back skipped Kedyn, he had seen Saidin enough to no longer be repulsed by it. If it kept Band members alive, than Kedyn was for it wholeheartedly. With a look of small wonder Kedyn leaned back against the one scout barracks that had been completely converted to stone. He watched the Ogier work and began to imagine what the Citadel would be like when finished. Kedyn Alastair Scout Sergeant Band Division Leader
  19. OOC: I'm really sorry that I let this go for so long. The training grounds were one of the places where Banders gathered to be around their friends... not to mention mock the green soldiers as they were knocked about by trainers and sparring partners alike. Mehrin loved the atmosphere, a combination of tenseness and humor all in one. "Thanks again, Beleo. I really appreciate your help." "Don't worry about it, Mehr. You would have ordered me to do it if I'd refused, anyway." Beleo was about six feet tall and well-muscled, but not huge. It didn't really matter with all the padding that was wrapped around him, anyway. He had a sense of humor, though. The job definitely required it. Sergeant Beleo Ronas of the Infantry was affectionatly known as Punching Bag. "You know me better than that, man. I wouldn't have ordered you to help; I'd have just made the next six months of your life miserable!" Mehrin said with a grin, which promptly left he glanced at the sun. "It's noon-" "You know, I didn't notice," Beleo said sarcastically from beneath the thick padding. Mehrin couldn't help but laugh at that, though he added more seriously, "Need I remind you that he was recently the recipient of a flogging? Give him a break, though if he isn't here in five minutes, we'll have him put on the padding and we'll demonstrate how each of these blows would feel." -Mehrin Rurak hustled up to the sparring area. He had barely enough time to wash and change after cleaning the latrines and stables, but he wasn't about to go into the citadel among all the rest of the people reeking of crap and urine, and only the light knew what else went in there. Mehrin was already there waiting for him with a patient look, and somebody else who looked like an overstuffed pillow. "Sorry... I'm late... sir" Rurak managed to pant while attempting to swallow some air. "I .. Just finished the latrines... and I don't think... anyone here would have been... apreciative... of the smell" -Rurak The latrines. Right. Mehrin remembered that order, the punishment, and the amazing amount of alcohol that came after that. None of these memories came through in his voice, though. WIth something that strongly resembled amusement, Mehrin replied, "You're right. I doubt the others here would appreciate being downwind from you, and anyone who ended up working with the Punching Bag would have held it against you for quite some time." Beleo chuckled at the use of his nickname, reminding Mehrin of his manners. "By the way, this is Sergeant Beleo Ronas. He's pretty dense, so the padding isn't all nessecary, but it's useful." At this, Mehrin walked over to the man, who was now bracing himself for what he knew was coming. Not wasting any time, Mehrin threw two quick punches with his right hand, one hitting the padding over Beleo's short ribs and the other hitting right below the first. "In hand to hand combat," Mehrin began without any form of introduction or response to Beleo's quiet groans of pain, "an inch can mean the difference between a debilitating blow and irritating an opponent." Again, Mehrin approached Beleo, speaking as he did so. "Many trainers use a dummy for this course, and I'm not that much different." By this time, Mehrin was standing next to Beleo, who punched Mehrin as best he could for the comment. "A dummy, though, can't tell you if you've struck the right area, something that Beleo can do. "Now," Mehrin said, finally reaching the beginning of the lesson, "I want you to find a comfortable stance. Not everybody is the same, so I cannot tell you what to do other than to center your weight between your two legs and keep your feet far enough for balance, but close enough to allow mobility." -Mehrin Mehrin quickly agreed with Rurak's assessment about other people's attitudes toward his stench then began by launching right into the training regimine. He threw two quick punches into Beleo's midriff, one right on top of the other. Beleo groaned in pain as Mehrin started his lesson right over him. "In hand to hand combat, an inch can mean the difference between a debilitating blow and irritating an opponent." As Mehrin was saying this, he was slowly drifting back over toward Beleo. "Many trainers use a dummy for this course, and I'm not that much different." At this comment, Beleo threw a punch back at Mehrin. Rurak was surprised, but then again, Mehrin had said they were rather relaxed here. Still, it hadn't crossed his mind that he'd have to take a shot at his commander! Not that he'd be able to hit him, but it was the principle of the thing that mattered.. "A dummy, though, can't tell you if you've struck the right area, something that Beleo can do. "Now I want you to find a comfortable stance. Not everybody is the same, so I cannot tell you what to do other than to center your weight between your two legs and keep your feet far enough for balance, but close enough to allow mobility." Rurak quickly took up the stance that felt most natural to him. It employed many of the principles of archery. He stood with his left foot back, and right foot forward since, like his hand, he favored his left leg. He faced Mehrin an angled towards him so that only a minimum of his body was displayed as a target. The angle was such that his right shoulder was nearly pointed at Mehrin so that he would take most of his blows on his right side. He planted his feet only slightly wider than his shoulders so that the center of balance would be just right, Then merely stood there, wondering what Mehrin wanted next. -Rurak "Good," Mehrin said, assessing the man's stance. Now to test it. Mehrin tossed his cloak, hat, and vest to one side and started unlacing his shirt. "Don't move, Rurak. Hold that stance until I say otherwise." As he finished the sentence, Mehrin pulled his shirt over his head, turning his whip-scarred back to Rurak as he approached Beleo. "I'm going to demonstrate some basic attacks. If you don't understand how one is done, just tell me and I'll demonstrate again." With that, Mehrin squared off against Beleo, who braced himself again. Mehrin's punches came pretty quickly, one to the padding around Beleo's face, one to his belly, one to the groin, one to the short ribs on either side. "The nose, if hit, will cause your opponent's vision to fail temporarily, not to mention the amount of pain that comes with it. An upward jab to the stomach will knock the wind out of your opponent, leaving them breathless and easy to finish off. The groin... well, if I have to explain that one, then you've never been in a fight before. A note, though: a groin shot will work well against a man, but not so well if fighting a woman. Finally, the short ribs. Anything there is so painful that anybody would speak all kinds of profanities at that. Besides, a powerful blow stands a chance of breaking ribs and puncturing organs. Always a plus." Mehrin stepped away from Beleo, who was bracing again for Rurak. "Your turn. You'll hit each of those four areas until Beleo says you've got it right. He's going to try to defend himself, so make sure you're on your guard. A bit of advice: try to look through Beleo. It allows some to react faster than focusing on one's opponent might. If it doesn't work like that for you, don't bother." Mehrin stood back a little and said, "Good luck." -Mehrin After assuming the stance, Mehrin ordered him to hold it. Rurak cringed inwardly as Mehrin approached Beleo and laid a series of blows to the face, ribs, stomach, and then, horror of horrors, to the groin. As beleo sat there groaning, Mehrin overrode the sound with a short lecture. "The nose, if hit, will cause your opponent's vision to fail temporarily, not to mention the amount of pain that comes with it. An upward jab to the stomach will knock the wind out of your opponent, leaving them breathless and easy to finish off. The groin... well, if I have to explain that one, then you've never been in a fight before. A note, though: a groin shot will work well against a man, but not so well if fighting a woman. Finally, the short ribs. Anything there is so painful that anybody would speak all kinds of profanities at that. Besides, a powerful blow stands a chance of breaking ribs and puncturing organs. Always a plus." "Your turn. You'll hit each of those four areas until Beleo says you've got it right. He's going to try to defend himself, so make sure you're on your guard. A bit of advice: try to look through Beleo. It allows some to react faster than focusing on one's opponent might. If it doesn't work like that for you, don't bother." Rurak walked forward and took up his stance again. At first, he tried to lay the blows in as lightly as he could, but that earned him a stinging blow to the side of the head as he moved too slowly to counter it. He then tried Mehrin's trick about unfocusing his eyes, but that just earned him more blows to the head. Finally, he just used his own focusing trick from archery. It allowed him to hit his targets really well, and helped focus his mind on the battles at hand. Once he had that down, it was only a matter of finding the exact spots that would do the damage. He could tell when he got it right because beleo would grunt from the blow and slow down temporarily, even though he had padding on. After a few minutes of this, Beleo finally stopped, deeming his work to have been adequate. -Rurak "Okay, then. On to kicking. The basic principle of kicking is that your body will dictate what you can and cannot do. For instance, I could kick someone in the side of the head... if they're under five-and-a-half feet tall. Other than that, I tend to go for the ribs. One's feet have the advantage over hands in that the feet are normally in some kind of shoe or boot. This added hardness, combined with the stronger muscles in the legs, leads to much pain." Again, Mehrin approached Beleo. "For the kicks, try not to kick the sergeant too hard; these are much more painful than most punches can be." Mehrin than kicked Beleo in the chest and the belly. "Those are the general places you should aim for. I did not include the knees because even a light kick could cause irreversable damage. I also did not include the groin. If you're going for injury, those are the places that most can actually reach. A good distraction technique, though, is the shins. It may seem childish, but it is very painful." Without a word, Mehrin stood back and allowed Rurak to practice. -Mehrin Kicking wasn't something that Rurak was used to. Always in archery Rurak was taught to have your feet firmly planted for your shots. The stance seemed to be holding up though as Rurak could pivot from either foot to add the weight of his body to the force of his blows. not that he did so of course. He had seen how Beleo winced from the blows even through the padding, and as Kedyn said, Kicks were much more powerful. His first kick he attempted to kick as lightly as possible, but he had forgotten that Beleo was supposedly defending, and made himself look the fool when Beleo easily trapped his foot, causing him to dance around on one foot, till Beleo released it and gave him a shove that deposited him on the ground. Chagrined at having been humiliated in front of the Commander, Rurak continued his workout with much gusto, though with a little less accuracy than he would have liked. He laid kicks to the chest and stomach that staggered 'the punching bag' and knocked the wind out of him, then just for good measure laid a kick to the shins that was imperfectly executed and hurt his foot probably worse than it did beleo's shins. Laying on the sand to take the wait off of his foot, Rurak apologized and told Mehrin that he'd be fine in a second if he'd just continue with the lessons. -Rurak OOC: Due to my extremely poor writing in my section on holds, we'll just use that as a springboard for the end of the lesson, okay? A slight smile flashed across Mehrin's face as he looked at Rurak, who was rubbing his sore foot. "What do you think, Beleo? Did he get the idea?" Beleo's eyes moved from Mehrin to Rurak, and then back to Mehrin. "I'm reasonably sure that he understood. I think he also learned how not to kick a person." At Mehrin's nod of agreement, he began pulling the heavy padding off before addressing Rurak. "Okay Rurak, here's the deal: for the next two weeks, you'll have some time off from the kitchens. Instead, you'll spend the time in my loving care. I'm going to help you 'study' for the final test with the commander there in two weeks." Mehrin nodded once at Beleo's words before addressing Rurak. "You're dismissed." ************* Mehrin was finishing a series of stretches when Rurak arrived. Hmmm... he looks alright. I'll still have to be careful, though. Skipping the formalities, Mehrin said, "Here's how this is going to work: we're going to do three distinct sets. The first set involves you attacking while I defend. The second involves me attacking while you defend. The third will be a normal spar." Mehrin adopted a defensive stance, facing Rurak. "Whenever you're ready." OOC: You can cover the first two in one post, as there would be no real break in between except for Mehrin stopping it and beginning the second part. The spar will be like something you'd see in the Red Trench, so I'll come in and start that off. I apologize again for the delay.
  20. Scout Training: The Eye “As Scouts you’re only as good as your eyes, and the sharpest weapon at your disposal should be your mind.†Ram addressed the Scouts with a firm military tone, one he had learned and copied from Mehrin and Amon. Some of these young soldiers didn’t know who he was, and he wanted to make it very clear that he was not a leader to be taken lightly. Men died in combat if they didn’t respect and listen to their leaders. ‘I’ll have no one dieing because they never learned to take their commanders seriously.’ Of all the many things a person could die of in battle, it was a shame to have a life wasted simply because of the soldiers own stupidity. ‘But, that’s what I’m here for. It’s the officer’s job to enlighten his soldiers and make sure they don’t make stupid mistakes.’ “I’m Banner Captain Shepherd, and today I’ll be in charge of your training.†Usually Ram trained the higher ranking officers, but today his class was open to any Scout that wanted to learn a new lesson. He had also wanted to get acquainted with some of the newer recruits. Ram had been gone on assignment for over a year and in his absence a lot had changed at the Citadel. “Were only going to be gone for the day, but I still want all of you to carry a full Scouts pack. It’s about time some of you get acquainted to the weight you’ll be carrying on the field.†He held up his own pack and said, “It’s not as heavy as an Infantryman’s gear, but after a full day it’ll feel heavy enough…†Inside his pack was a bedroll, food, and field dressing kit every scout was assigned. His simple traveling food consisted of three loaves of flat bread, smoked venison, dried fruit, and a flask of wine and water. The field kit contained small clay jars of expressed wild onion, garlic, and chickweed leaf juice. Along with a bundle of dock leaves and clean bandages. Several tiny leather bags were filled with burdock root, mallow leaves, oak bark, linden flower, mint leaves, sorrel, and many other useful herbs a person attending the wounded might need. He slung the light pack over one shoulder, opposite his short sword. He always left his pole axe behind on scouting missions; it drew to much attention being a weapon primarily used in war. So, in place of his pole arm he had chosen a steal enforced staff. The weapon could easily be passed off as a walking stick and was a deadly tool in his hands. “We’ll be going to a peaceful area, but it’s important that you get used to thinking about how things will be during a time of war. While a Scouts primary duty is to convey messages and information, there will be times when you’ll be forced to engage the enemy in combat. Get used to moving quickly and silently with the added weight of your weapons.†If they had time he planed on instructing them in some basic field combat tactics. It would all depend on how they faired the other exercises he had in mind for them that day. The wind picked up and blew his long light brown hair, which was mostly gray, into his eyes. Ram tied it back with a leather thong and adjusted his traveling cloak. He was dressed in the simple uniform of a ranging scout. His trousers and boots were brown, his shirt and vest forest green, and he wore a hooded reversible cloak of black and greenish-brown. All his clothing was colored to help conceal him in the forest or out on open ground, during day or night, and it was all together completely unremarkable for blending into both city streets and country fields. Ram looked over the gathered Scouts; his sharp cloudy blue eyes going over them and their equipment, making a list of things he thought were good and bad. The thing which stood out most to him was the fact that they were so young. ‘Light, I’m not that old myself… despite the grey hairs… but dear Creator, if I haven’t seen a greener bunch of soldiers…’ Ram was almost thirty summers old. People mistook him for being much older because of his hair, but when they saw his face and build they would realize their initial mistake. He was around six feet tall, his build very muscular but not defined muscle. He wore his hair long and his beard forked in the Kandorian style. On his forearms were two tattoos of rams charging, inked in red and black. Also on the left side of his face, running from the top of his forehead to the bottom of his jaw, was a long jagged scar he’d gotten from a trolloc’s blade when he was just a child. ‘Compared to this bunch, I’m a weathered crotchety old man!’ The thought amused him and he smiled to himself. “Alright, before we get moving out, I’d like a role call. Some of you are as new to me as I am to you, so I’d like to know your names and ranks.†OOC: Alright everyone just let your first post be getting ready for the training and meeting with Ram. I just want to get a feel for where your characters are at to give me a better idea how the training should progress. If you have any questions or problems during this thread, just PM me. Later all… Scout Banner Captain Bruce Shepherd Ram “There’s a thing called temper for both men and steelâ€
  21. Kedyn parried the wooden lathe of one of the Fox's and clapped the younger man on the shoulder with his own. It was early in the afternoon, the sun was high int he sky and the Citadel had about it an air of safety and security. It was as if every person in the Citadel was having a good day and their mood had permeated into the air and made it contagious to all around. Kedyn lowered the blade and began to instruct his student on what he had done wrong, when his eyes caught sight of a unit of Scout's streaking through the main road as fast as their legs could take them. It is a wonder how such a perfect day can never be finished perfect. It was like the rose whose beauty could never be questioned and yet was doomed to suffer the fate of being trampled underfoot by lesser beings. Kedyn streaked after the Scouts, member's of his very own platoon. The path he set was enough that he was able t intercept them and run alongside, the scout leader relayed the message to him in very hurried and breathless tones. A message that would send shockwaves and stir memories that were better left unremembered in the Citadel. "Emond's Field is under attack!" Urging the squad to force their pace to go faster Kedyn ran with his squadmembers to the small building that served as the commander's headquarters, praying that Mehrin was inside and ready to react quickly. He kept silent, trusting what to do for the commander. Not wishing to do something rash and cause some type of panic, concentrating on getting to the commander as quickly as possible. Kedyn Alastair Scout Sergeant
  22. Kedyn closed the door of the Scout barracks. The sun had begun to set below the horizon and left the eirie glow that went along with the transition from day to night. He turned away from the barracks and headed to the messhall towards the center of the barracks. It was also a wooden structure as everything had changed from tent to wooden housings only a few days ago with the completion of the last wooden barracks. He dared not go to see Mari for she would only deny him a drink and today was a day that Kedyn truly needed one. The gaping hole in his chest had begun to take in everything and the wieghts of responsibility and grief had become to much. He needed something to escape, to shore up the walls he had made inside and close off the hole in his middle. To soften his pain through drink. It helped to forget the pain, but only for so long and to the pit of doom to what others thought of him. What the mess hall served was a weaker brand and a rather atrocious thing but it had the same desired effect. He pushed open the door and walked into the soft din of the mess hall. It wasn't as crowded as he would have thought it would be but then again there was still many people training and going about there duties. Kedyn's reports had been filed and the rest of his work pushed to Malastair so he could come here. He walked up to the counter and asked for what he wanted and the cook handed it over without pause. Having almost six thousand men in the Band did jave some benefits, making it so he could not know everyone. Taking a seat in a corner, away from everyone else he surveryed the room. Laughter came from most of the tables and the others the groups were huddled in low conversation, only Kedyn sat alone this night. That was fine. Alone to his grief, self pity and his memories. Jenna, Lavena, the faces of the Scouts who had died under his command. He tilted his mug back and took a long swig of ale. Kedyn Miria stepped lightly on the way to the mess hall, glad to not have any pain in her ankle. She was starving, and in particularly good spirits. And why not? The day was turning into a beautiful twilight, her ankle was healed, and she had practiced with her bow earlier, discovering that her skills hadn't abated much at all, in the time since she last trained. The sound hit her before she even opened the doors, bringing a smile to her lips. She sometimes missed the bustle of the city, and the din from the mess hall almost reminded her of the common room of the inn back home. She smiled and waved at the new friends she had made as she made her way to the counter. Her grin broadened when she spotted Kedyn. He was sitting by himself, admittedly, but at least he was out, instead of hiding in the barracks being miserable. Try as she might, Miria had still not been able to crack Kedyn's aura of gloom, despite her best efforts, and cheerful disposition. He was civil enough, but he still hid behind his armour, hiding from his real self. If anything, Miria was finding it very frustrating. She was at him constantly, trying to draw him out, yet nothing seemed to work. It was almost as if Kedyn was deliberately thwarting her. Surely not, but that's what it felt like. As if he refused to join the real world. Whatever his reasoning, Miria was glad to see him away from his room. Ordering a simple watered wine, Miria thanked the cook, holding her drink up as she threaded her way over to where Kedyn sat. If he was going to sit in the mess hall, he was going to have her company, she decided. She flashed him a grin as she neared, her dimple creasing her cheek as she sat opposite him. "Nice to see you here Kedyn." She grinned, though it faltered slightly when she took in the empty tankards littering the table. No doubt they were left from the last soldiers, she thought. "And what a lovely evening it is proving to be." She mused, raising her tankard in a half salute, before taking a sip. Miria eyed Kedyn closely. Something wasn't right with this picture. His eyes were slightly glazed, normally they were bright and clear, sparkling with intelligence. Now they just seemed...dark. Kedyn seemed dark, even for himself. "Is everything alright, Kedyn?" Surely he hadn't drunk all of that ale. Her eyes narrowed. All the effort she had spent on him, if he was running away and losing himself in drink...well lets just say he had better not be doing what she thought he was. Miria Kedyn watched warily as Miria walked into the mess hall and headed towards him. Of the people he would have wanted to see him like this she was perhaps the last on that particular list. He had been drinking straight for a while and he had drowned quite a few, he could alreadly feel the effects starting to both dull the pain and to dull his wits as well. He was glad he was alone as well. She smiled, still intent on being as cheerful as possible. "Nice to see you here Kedyn. And what a lovely evening it is proving to be." It was unnerving how cheery she could be. Lovely, sure, there were so many different ways to see the night and say that it was possible to believe it lovely. He smile faltered as she saw the tankards and Kedyn prepared himself for the dissaporving words that always came when someone caught him like this. "Is everything alright, Kedyn?" Kedyn snorted and pushed his newest empty tankard away from him. Ther didn't seem anything right in the world, even the world itself was wrong. The Light had abandoned this world long ago, Lavena was dead and he was still living. Nothing was right. Kedyn pushed himself back from the chair and rose slowly. He staggered as he stepped away from the table. At the moment he was in no mood, nor the position, to face Miria and her cheerfullness and insistence to bring him out of his shell. "I have...I have things to do." Only spoiled slightly by a small stagger Kedyn made his way out of the mess hall away from everyone. His pain was dulled enough to live and Miria only seemed to bring about painfull memories. Kedyn Miria watched Kedyn with a frown as he pushed himself from the table. He was quite unsteady on his feet. Miria jumped to the obvious conclusion. He was drunk. She sighed. Why he thought he could hide from his pain was beyond her, but getting drunk did nothing but give him a sore head the next morning. Which he would rightfully deserve. "I have...I have things to do." Miria gritted her teeth, seething with anger, her previous good mood long gone. He staggered slightly as he walked out, and Miria slammed down her mug and rose to follow him, ignoring her friends, intent on her goal. Kedyn. She'd tried so hard, but now she'd had enough. It was time he realised he was damaging everyone under his command, not just himself. Light, didn't he know how much she hated seeing him that way? She shoved aside the door and looked around for Kedyn, spying his silhouette as he staggered towards the barracks. So, he only came out to get drunk did he? Miria gritted her teeth and marched after him, catching him as he pushed the door open to his room. Shoving in behind him, she slammed the door and stood with her back to it, hands on her hips, glaring at him. "I don't know what the bloody hell you think you're doing, but it stops now." Her voice was slightly raised as she glared up at him. "I will not stand by and watch you do this to yourself. All the stories I hear tell me you are a good commanding officer...well when are you going to act it, you wool-headed idiot?" Miria very near yelled the last, her chest heaving with her rage. Light, she didn't think she'd ever been this angry with anyone before. She certainly hadn't with Kedyn. The bright cheery approach hadn't worked, and now, quite frankly, she'd had enough of him. Miria balled her hands into fists, all thoughts of sensistivity gone. "You are still alive Kedyn, so stop living as though you are dead!" Miria exhaled loudly, trying to calm herself down. Goodness, she was berating her commanding officer, who was greiving. And drunk. That steeled her resolve, as she boldly glared back at him. Miria Kedyn staggered slightly trying to get his bearings. It wasn't to bad, the only thing that was truly different was his motions. He pushed open the front door to the barracks and stepped inside. Shaking his head he made his way to his room, wanted to sleep. He felt better even if the medium he used for that feeling didn't help in the long run. His wits impaired Kedyn wasn't aware that there was someone following him until the door didn't shut when he pushed it closed. He was turning slugishly when he saw Miria slamming the door behind her. Kedyn let out a long breath as it seemed what he had been running from had followed. "I don't know what the bloody hell you think you're doing, but it stops now." With her voice raised Miria made herself seem taller and more imposing than her small frame suggested. "I will not stand by and watch you do this to yourself. All the stories I hear tell me you are a good commanding officer...well when are you going to act it, you wool-headed idiot?" Of all things anger slowly began to rise to the surface. "You are still alive Kedyn, so stop living as though you are dead!" Kedyn's nostrils flared and he opened his mouth to speak up against Miria. The ale had taken its hold of his wits as much as his emotions and let his tounge run more freely. His hands slowly clenched into fists and Kedyn's voice was louder than Miria's had been. "If I am still alive why do I feel like I am dead. I should be dead! Lavena is gone and I am still here and if the Light had any force in this world I should have died with her!" Kedyn's breath came in ragged gasps and his chest was heaving. "And why should I bloody not drown myself in ale. It hurts to much not to! There is a hole in my chest where my heart used to be for it was ripped out the day Lavena died! I feel like I am dead, without Lavena what point is there in living!" Kedyn's voiced creschendoed near the end to the point until he wasn't sure that the walls were not shaking. The pain was beggining to return along with the memories, everything that accompanied talking about Lavena. Still seething Kedyn took a long breath trying to recover somewhat. Kedyn "If I am still alive why do I feel like I am dead. I should be dead! Lavena is gone and I am still here and if the Light had any force in this world I should have died with her!" Miria fought the urge to take a step back when Kedyn began shouting back. What had she expected, for him to od calmly and tell her she was right? "And why should I bloody not drown myself in ale. It hurts to much not to! There is a hole in my chest where my heart used to be for it was ripped out the day Lavena died! I feel like I am dead, without Lavena what point is there in living!" Miria felt her insides boil with renewed fury. The idiot was drowning in self pity, thinking that would help anything! She growled softly and took a step forward, eyes blazing dangerously. "You idiot of a man! Do you honestly think drowning your wits in ale is going to change anything? Yes, Lavena died, and you did not. But no one said that life is fair! You cannot change the past by dwelling in it. You cannot remove your pain, by masking it." Miria stepped forward again, her voice was strong and hard as steel, her eyes boring into Kedyn's. Reaching out a hand in her frustration, Miria poked Kedyn hard in the middle of the chest. "I know it hurts, but being a miserable drunken fool will not help one whit!" Miria's hand shook, with the fierce emotions flooding through her, and she tried to gain some control, drawing in a ragged breath. "Moving on and enjoying your life will not be betraying Lavena. You mourn, you move on, and you forever hold her memory in your heart. You cannot change the past, so don't let it rule you!" She poked his chest once more for emphasis, her anger building once again. "You are in a position of authority - your men look up to you. What kind of a leader are you being for them, for me? Will you happily condemn them to death while you drink away your life, unstead of being there for them?" Miria's eyes widened at the wild look in Kedyn's eye. Maybe she had gone too far, said too much. But she could not take it back now, so she glared back at him, jaw clenched, her chest heaving as she tried to hold onto the thin thread of her self-control. Miria But no one said that life is fair! You cannot change the past by dwelling in it. You cannot remove your pain, by masking it." Her words were like a hammer, each putting a nail to crack open his shield of ice doing there best to expose him fully and truly. He knew the words, knew deep inside that they were true. Coming from Miria was no different than from anyone else, but it still felt different, perhaps because she was the first Scout to be this blunt. Kedyn grunted and took a small step back as Miria poked him, it would be hard to believe that Kedyn had to look down at her, that she came up to barely his shoulders. "I know it hurts, but being a miserable drunken fool will not help one whit! Moving on and enjoying your life will not be betraying Lavena. You mourn, you move on, and you forever hold her memory in your heart. You cannot change the past, so don't let it rule you!" And here Miria hit the heart of Kedyn's problem. She was slowly lining up every problem he had and shooting as many holes in them she can. Kedyn wouldn't, couldn't admit, that the past was over, that moving on was not a betrayel to Lavena's memory. The boyish, foolish, mule headed, fantasy that some how there was some way to change the past. Why should he enjoy his life while Lavena no longer had a life of his own. "You are in a position of authority - your men look up to you. What kind of a leader are you being for them, for me? Will you happily condemn them to death while you drink away your life, unstead of being there for them?" In all Kedyn's reaction to Miria's onslaught was anger, pure and simple. There was nothing else. But as he steemed he began to think about Miria's words. And slowly his anger began to fade. The nails in his armor had shattered the ice to almost nothing. Slowly the feeling of nothingness in his chest. The cut at his ability to lead his men had been the final nail, the single stone that had caused an avalanche. Kedyn turned and took a small step. He put his hand out and grasped ahold of his bed post before slowly sitting down. He ran a hand through his hair and then buried his face in his hands. He scrubbed his face for a moment and then slowly sat back up. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment to marshal his thoughts. Any anger that had been around previously had faded. Tilting his head back Kedyn opened his mouth. His voice was shaky as he continued. "I don't know what to do. I can't let go, I tried and it was too hard. I can't let go I don't know if I am strong enough to lose someone else, I don't know if I can take losing Lavena if my memory fades." Kedyn took a few unsteady breaths. "I did not intend for those I command to be affected, I was selfish thinking that if I pushed them away it would be easier to command people to their deaths." "I know what you say is true Miria, I know that not letting Lavena go will only make me worse. But I don't know how to fill this hole in my chest. I fear to much that if I lose Lavena's memory that I am not strong enough to stop it from consuming me." Kedyn let his hang fall and gave out a long shuddering breath. Kedyn Miria blinked. She had seen the pure fury in Kedyn's gaze, but it slowly ebbed away, much to her amazement. She watched silently, dazedly, as Kedyn turned and sat, his face in his hands. Unclenching her fists, Miria felt her own anger fade, as Kedyn looked so forlorn. Did she actually get through to him? Kedyn gazed up at the roof and spoke, his voice shaky. "I don't know what to do. I can't let go, I tried and it was too hard. I can't let go I don't know if I am strong enough to lose someone else, I don't know if I can take losing Lavena if my memory fades." Miria was unable to move, stunned by his words, by the openness. Something told her he didn't open up like this usually. "I did not intend for those I command to be affected, I was selfish thinking that if I pushed them away it would be easier to command people to their deaths. I know what you say is true Miria, I know that not letting Lavena go will only make me worse. But I don't know how to fill this hole in my chest. I fear to much that if I lose Lavena's memory that I am not strong enough to stop it from consuming me." Miria bit her lip, looking at the sad picture Kedyn made. She forced her legs to move, going to sit next to him. Miria hesitated only a moment, before wrapping her arms about Kedyn, laying her head on his shoulder. She spoke softly, soothingly, the fire that was in her voice just previously, dissipated. "I know you feel lost Kedyn. But that is when you turn to your friends. I know they want to help you. I want to help you. You are not expected to do this on your own." She hoped her words were sinking in. She knew he hurt, and her earlier harsh words probably hadn't made him feel any better. Squeezing his shoulder slightly, Miria continued. "I know you loved Lavena deeply Kedyn. And it's that love that will keep her memory alive. You will never forget her." She stroked his hair absently with one hand. "You are strong Kedyn, and I know you won't be consumed by your grief. I'm sure Lavena would not have wanted you to live as though you were already gone. Keep her in your heart, and smile for the love you shared." Miria kept her voice soft, continuing to hold him, wanting to help him however she could. She was still bewildered at the change, not sure what she had said, but glad something had gotten through to him at last. Miria Kedyn shifted his gaze to Miria as she walked over and slowly sat next to him. She wrapped her arms around him and layed her head on his shoulder. Her words were soothing and he knew she was trying to be comforting but he could not help the memories that came with this contact. "I know you feel lost Kedyn. But that is when you turn to your friends. I know they want to help you. I want to help you. You are not expected to do this on your own." His friends, if he had any left by now. He had been so determined to push them away that he had forgotten what it was like to be close to people, and was afraid that others had forgotten him as fully. And it was strange to believe that he was not expected to do it on his own, he could be helped yes but in the end it was himself that had to come to terms with his grief. "I know you loved Lavena deeply Kedyn. And it's that love that will keep her memory alive. You will never forget her. You are strong Kedyn, and I know you won't be consumed by your grief. I'm sure Lavena would not have wanted you to live as though you were already gone. Keep her in your heart, and smile for the love you shared." It was strange to feel Miria stroking her hair with one hand, such intimate contact comign from someone he had know for such a short time. It was comfoting and her words rang true to him, the small voice that had been smothered for so long slowly rising to the surface. Smile for the love he had shared. Slolwy and unbiddenly the meroies began to return, mostly from the situation. It was swtiched in his memory, Kedyn had his arms around Lavena and his head on her shoulder, she was the one bearing her soul. Kedyn grimaced slightly, those had been better times. Kedyn looped an arm around Miria and gave her a tight squeeze in something of a hug. He felt better somewhat, though drained. "I.....I have to give you my thanks Miria. I don't know why I thought that hiding would help anything or by keeping people away that it would help me in some way. I want to change, I do. I feel almost as if I have been under a fog for the last few weeks. It will be strange reverting to my normal self, but I will try." Kedyn chuckled lightly perhaps saying what he did from the memory that had come to him. He had not pushed it away, instead reveled in it and used it to imprint Lavena forever into his memory. "It is strange. The reason Lavena came to the Band was becuase she wanted to harden herself to the world. She believed as I that by hiding she would be better off. Ironic that I called her foolish for that thought and that she to discarded the idea as well." Kedyn sniffed in a half laugh and smiled genuinely. Kedyn Miria smiled slowly as she felt Kedyn's arm loop around her waist, giving her a squeeze in a semblance of a hug. It felt good, the awkward embrace. As though all her hard work had paid off. She returned his squeeze, still somewhat dazed that she had gotten through to him, past the wall of ice he had built around himself. Maybe it was harsh, having someone who was a virtual stranger point out all your faults. She grimaced. That was basically what she had done. This could have backfired terribly. Thank the light it hadn't. "I.....I have to give you my thanks Miria. I don't know why I thought that hiding would help anything or by keeping people away that it would help me in some way. I want to change, I do. I feel almost as if I have been under a fog for the last few weeks. It will be strange reverting to my normal self, but I will try." Miria couldn't hide her proud grin. She really had gotten through to him. He was going to try to snap out of it. Kedyn chuckled to himself, the sound vibrating through his frame and touching Miria where she held him still. "It is strange. The reason Lavena came to the Band was becuase she wanted to harden herself to the world. She believed as I that by hiding she would be better off. Ironic that I called her foolish for that thought and that she to discarded the idea as well." Miria blinked. Kedyn was smiling. A real, genuine smile, that seemed to brighten up his entire face. Miria swallowed. He seemed so...handsome when he smiled. Carefree. "You should smile like that more often." She said softly. "It makes you look far more attractive." She smirked, hoping he was picking up on her teasing tone, but light, it was true. "I think I would have liked Lavena." She said, half to herself. "Either way, it seems she set a tough act to follow." She blushed as realised how her words could be taken. Light, he was greiving over his lost love, and she was making comments like that? "I mean as a scout." She added hurriedly. Kedyn was distracting enough, especially this close, but when he smiled like that...well she seemed to lose her wits. "I know you said I deserve your thanks, but I'm sorry if I said anything out of line before...I was so very angry," She gave him an almost apologetic smile. "Angrier than I've ever been." Miria shrugged. "I'm not even entirely sure why...but I'm glad now that I was." She nodded firmly, fixing Kedyn with a winning smile, her cheek dimpling. Miria looked at his chest, where she had poked him. She had poked her commanding officer! "Oh, and sorry about the poking." Miria mumbled, cheeks flushing a dull red. Light, why couldn't she think straight? Miria
  23. Intermediate Sword: Target Zones “I expect all of you to have learned the basics of fighting with the sword†Ram eyed the group of soldiers with his intense cloudy blue eyes. “All of you should be well practiced and versed in how to advance, retreat, and perform a cross-over for a defensive and offensive position.†He drew the short sword from over his shoulder, and demonstrated each move after saying its name, “You should know the basic attacks as well. The slash…†Ram’s blade whistled through the air, and his body moved with the assuredness obtained from long hours of practice as he made a neat slash. “…the three different kinds of cuts…†his blade whirled about him in deadly arcs. “…the various thrusts, all at different levels…†Ram drove his shout sword into an imaginary foe, showing how to execute a proper thrusting attack. “…and let us not forget the basic counter attacks†he went through a few simple blocks and counters, all of which they should have learned in basic sword lessons. “Now that we’ve reviewed everything I expect you to know, let us move on.†He quickly sheathed his short sword and retrieved a practice lath from the weapons rack. Testing its balance, he spun the weapon in a one-handed circle. Satisfied with its weight and balance, he returned to the class. “Alright everyone, find a partner…†The class was of an odd number, so Ram would have to partner with one of the soldiers. He smiled to himself when he saw who that soldier ended up being. “Corporal Arinth, it’s been some time since I last trained you.†Ram thought it was ironic that just the other day he had returned to the Citadel after being gone for over a year and the second man to welcome him back that day was the very soldier standing before him. “I promise you, after today’s training you’ll wish I hadn’t returned so soon.†OOC: This was short, and lacking any new training information, but it’s just a place to start from. My next post will contain more training, but I thought it be nice to say ‘hi’ IC. If you have any questions or comments during our training session, just let me know via PM. Later… Scout Banner Captain Bruce Shepherd Ram “There’s a thing called temper for both men and steelâ€
  24. .ipsWidget.ipsWidget_vertical { margin: 0 0 25px; } [data-pagecontroller='page'] #ipsLayout_mainArea { padding: 10px 0 0 0; } A Memory of Light "He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything, and like the wind, was gone." A Memory of Light Prologue The following is the opening section of the prologue to A Memory of Light, the final novel in The Wheel of Time series. It was written by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. The full prologue will be available at the end of 2012, and the novel will be available beginning January 8, 2013. For more information, go here. Bayrd pressed the coin between his thumb and forefinger. It was thoroughly unnerving to feel the metal squish. He removed his thumb. The hard copper now clearly bore its print, reflecting the uncertain torchlight. He felt chilled, as if he’d spent an entire night in a cold cellar. His stomach growled. Again. The north wind picked up, making torches sputter. Bayrd sat with his back to a large rock near the center of the warcamp. Hungry men muttered as they warmed their hands around fire pits; the rations had spoiled long ago. Other soldiers nearby began laying out all of their metal--swords, armor clasps, mail--on the ground, like linen to be dried. Perhaps they hoped that when the sun rose, it would change the material back to normal. Bayrd rolled the once-coin into a ball between his fingers. Light preserve us, he thought. Light... He dropped the ball to the grass, then reached over and picked up the stones he’d been working with. “I want to know what happened here, Karam,” Lord Jarid snapped at his advisor. Jarid stood nearby, in front of a table draped with maps. “I want to know where they are and how they drew so close, and I want that bloody, Darkfriend Aes Sedai queen’s head!” Jarid slammed his fist down on the table. Once, his eyes hadn’t displayed such a crazed fervor. The pressure of it all--the lost rations, the strange things in the nights--was changing him. Behind Jarid, the command tent lay in a heap. Jarid’s dark hair--grown long during their exile--blew free, face bathed in ragged torchlight. Bits of dead grass still clung to his coat from when he’d crawled out of the tent. Baffled servants picked at the iron tent spikes, which--like all metal in the camp--had become soft to the touch. The mounting rings on the tent had stretched and snapped like warm wax. The night smelled wrong. Of staleness, of rooms that hadn’t been entered in years. The air of a forest clearing should not smell like ancient dust. Bayrd’s stomach growled again. Light, but he’d have liked to take the edge off of that with something. Instead, he set his attention on his work, slapping one of his stones down against another. He held the stones as his old pappil had taught him as a boy, though it had been years since he’d done this. The feeling of stone striking stone helped push away the hunger and coldness. At least something was still solid in this world. Lord Jarid glanced at him, scowling. Bayrd was one of ten men Jarid had insisted guard him this night. “I will have Elayne’s head, Karam,” Jarid said, turning back to his captains. “This unnatural night is the work of her witches.” “Her head?” Eri’s skeptical voice came from the side. “And how, precisely, is someone going to bring you her head?” Lord Jarid turned, as did the others around the torchlit table. Eri stared at the sky; on his shoulder, he wore the mark of the golden boar charging before a red spear. It was the mark of Lord Jarid’s personal guard, but Eri’s voice bore little respect. “What’s he going to use to cut that head free, Jarid? His teeth?” The camp stilled at the horribly insubordinate line. Bayrd stopped his stones, hesitating. Yes, there had been talk about how unhinged Lord Jarid had become. But this? Jarid’s face grew red with rage. “You dare use such a tone with me? One of my own guards?” Eri continued inspecting the sky. “You’re docked two months’ pay,” Jarid snapped, but his voice trembled. “Stripped of rank and put on latrine duty until further notice. If you speak back to me again, I’ll cut out your tongue.” Bayrd shivered in the cold wind. Eri was the best they had in what was left of their rebel army. The other guards shuffled, looking down. Eri looked over toward the lord and didn’t say a word, but somehow, he didn’t have to. He just smiled. Cut out his tongue? Every scrap of metal in the camp had gone soft as lard. Jarid’s own knife lay on the table, twisted and warped--it had stretched thin as he pulled it from its sheath. Jarid’s coat flapped, open; it had had silver buttons. “Jarid...” Karam said. A young lord of a minor house loyal to Sarand, he had a lean face and large lips. “Do you really think... Really think this was the work of Aes Sedai? All of the metal in the camp?” “Of course,” Jarid barked. “What else would it be? Don’t tell me you believe those campfire tales. The Last Battle? Phaw.” He looked back at the table. Unrolled there, with pebbles weighting the corners, was a map of Andor. Bayrd turned back to his stones. Snap, snap, snap. Slate and granite. It had taken work to find suitable sections of each, but Pappil had taught Bayrd to recognize all kinds of stone. The old man had felt betrayed when Bayrd’s father had gone off and become a butcher in the city, instead of keeping to the family trade. Soft, smooth slate. Granite, with bumps and ridges. Yes, some things in the world were still solid. Some few things. These days, you couldn’t rely on much. Once immovable lords were now soft as...well, soft as metal. The sky churned with blackness, and brave men--men Bayrd had long looked up to--trembled and whimpered in the night, whispering of things they’d seen. “I’m worried, Jarid,” Davies said. An older man, Lord Davies was as close as anyone was to being Jarid’s confidant. “We haven’t seen anyone in days. Not farmer, not queen’s soldier. Something is happening. Something wrong.” “She cleared the people out,” Jarid snarled. “She’s preparing to pounce.” “I think she’s ignoring us, Jarid,” Karam said, looking at the sky. Clouds still churned there. It seemed like months since Bayrd had seen a clear sky. “Why would she bother? Our men are starving. The food continues to spoil. The signs--” “She’s trying to squeeze us,” Jarid said, peering at his map, eyes wide with fervor. “This is the work of the Aes Sedai.” Stillness came suddenly to the camp. Silence, save for Bayrd’s stones. He’d never felt right as a butcher, but he’d found a home in his lord’s guard. Cutting up cows or cutting up men, the two were strikingly similar. It bothered him how easily he’d shifted from one to the other. Snap, snap, snap. Eri turned. Jarid eyed the guard suspiciously. He seemed ready to pounce, ready to scream out harsher punishment. He wasn’t always this bad, was he? Bayrd thought. He wanted the throne for his wife, but what lord wouldn’t want that, given the chance? It was hard to look past the name. Bayrd’s family had followed the Sarand family with reverence for generations. Eri strode away from the command post. Out into the dark, toward the winds from the north. “Where do you think you’re going?” Jarid snarled. Eri reached to his shoulder and ripped free the badge of the Sarand house guard. He tossed it aside and left the torchlight, heading into the night. Most men in the camp hadn’t gone to sleep. They sat around fire pits, wanting to be near warmth and light. A few tried boiling cuts of grass, leaves, or even strips of leather as something, anything, to eat. They stood up to watch Eri go. “Deserter,” Jarid spat. “After all we’ve been through, now he leaves. Just because things are difficult.” “The men are starving, Jarid,” Davies repeated. “I’m aware. Thank you so much for telling me about the problems with every bloody breath you have.” Jarid wiped his brow with his trembling palm, then slammed it on his map, staring down. “We’ll have to strike one of the cities; there’s no running from her, not now that she knows where we are. Whitebridge. We’ll take it and resupply. Her Aes Sedai must be weakened after the stunt they pulled tonight, otherwise she’d have attacked.” Bayrd squinted into the darkness. Other men were standing, lifting quarterstaffs or cudgels. Some went without weapons. They gathered sleeping rolls, hoisted packages to shoulders--the very last of the rations. They began to trail out of the camp, their passage silent, like the movement of ghosts. No rattling of chainmail or buckles on armor. The metal was all quiet as if the soul had been stripped from it. “Elayne doesn’t dare move against us in strength,” Jarid said, perhaps convincing himself. “There must be strife in Caemlyn. All of those mercenaries you reported, Shiv. Riots, maybe. Elenia will be working against Elayne, of course, preparing the others to accept her as queen instead. Whitebridge. Yes, Whitebridge will be perfect. “We hold it, you see, and cut the kingdom in half. We recruit there, press the men in western Andor to our banner. Go to...what’s the place called? The Two Rivers. We should find some able hands there, quick to obey when a firm voice commands.” Jarid sniffed. “I hear they haven’t seen a lord for decades. Give me four months, and I’ll have an army to be reckoned with. Enough that she won’t dare strike at us with her witches...” Bayrd held his stone up to the torchlight. The trick to creating a good spearhead was to start outward and work your way in. He’d drawn the proper shape with a bit of chalk on the slate, then had worked toward the center to finish the shape. From there, you turned from hitting to tapping, shaving off smaller bits. He’d finished one side earlier; this second half was almost done. He could almost hear his pappil whispering to him as he worked. We’re of the stone, Bayrd. No matter what your father says. Deep down, we’re of the stone. More soldiers left the camp. Strange, how few of them spoke. Jarid finally noticed, standing up straight and grabbing one of the torches, holding it high. “What are they doing?” he asked. “Hunting? We’ve seen no game in weeks. Setting snares, perhaps?” Nobody replied. “Maybe they’ve seen something,” Jarid muttered. “Or maybe they think they have. I’ll stand no more talk of spirits or other foolery; the witches are creating apparitions to unnerve us. That’s...that’s what it has to be.” Rustling came from nearby. Karam was digging in his fallen tent. He came up with a small bundle. “Karam?” Jarid said. Karam glanced at Lord Jarid, then lowered his eyes and began to tie a coin pouch at his waist. Halfway through, he stopped and laughed, then emptied it. The gold coins inside had melted into a single lump, like pig’s ears in a jar. Karam pocketed this, probably in case it transformed back eventually, though no man would take it as it was. He fished in the pouch and brought out a ring. The blood-red gemstone at the center was still good. “Probably won’t be enough to buy an apple, these days,” he muttered. “I demand to know what you are doing. Is this your doing?” Jarid waved toward the departing soldiers. “You’re staging a mutiny, is that it?” “This isn’t my doing,” Karam said, looking ashamed. “And it’s not really yours, either. I’m...I’m sorry.” Karam walked away from the torchlight. Bayrd found himself surprised. Lord Karam and Lord Jarid had been friends from childhood. Lord Davies went next, running after Karam. Was he going to try to hold the younger man back? Instead he fell into step beside him. They vanished into the darkness. “I’ll have you hunted down for this!” Jarid yelled after them, voice shrill. Frantic. “I will be consort to the queen, you realize! No man will give you, or any member of your houses, shelter or succor for ten generations!” Bayrd looked back at the stone in his hand. Only one step left, the smoothing. A good spearhead needed some smoothing to be dangerous. He brought out another piece of granite he’d picked up for the purpose and carefully began scraping it along the side of the slate. Seems I remember this better than I’d expected, he thought to himself as Lord Jarid continued to rant. There was something powerful about crafting the spearhead. The simple act seemed to push back the gloom. There had been a shadow on Bayrd, and the rest of the camp, lately. As if...as if he couldn’t stand in the light no matter how he tried. The darkness was always there, weighing him down. He woke each morning feeling as if someone he’d loved had died the day before. It could crush you, that despair. Why would making a spearhead change that? You’re being a fool, Bayrd. It just seemed to him that the mere act of creating something--anything--fought back. That was one way to challenge...him. The one none of them spoke of. The one that they all knew was behind it, no matter what Lord Jarid said. Bayrd stood up. He’d want to do more smoothing later, but the spearhead actually looked pretty good. He raised his wooden spear haft--the metal blade had fallen free when evil had struck the camp--and lashed the new spearhead in place, just as his pappil had taught him all those years ago. The other guards were looking at him. “We’ll need more of those,” Morear said. “If you’re willing.” Bayrd nodded. “On our way out, we can stop by the hillside where I found the slate.” Jarid finally stopped yelling, his eyes wide in the torchlight. “No. You are my personal guard. You will not defy me!” Jarid jumped for Bayrd, murder in his eyes, but Morear and Rosse caught the lord from behind. Rosse looked aghast at his own mutinous act, panic on his wide face. He didn’t let go, though. Bayrd fished a few things out from beside his bedroll. After that, he nodded to the others, and they joined him--eight men of Lord Jarid's personal guard, dragging the sputtering lord himself through the remnants of camp. They passed smoldering fires and fallen tents, abandoned by men who were trailing out into the darkness in greater numbers now, heading north. Into the wind. At the edge of camp, Bayrd selected a nice, stout tree. He waved to the others, and they took the rope he’d fetched and tied Lord Jarid to the tree. The man sputtered until Morear gagged him with a handkerchief. Bayrd stepped in close. He tucked a waterskin into the crook of Jarid’s arm. “Don’t struggle too much or you’ll drop that, my lord. You should be able to push the gag off--it doesn’t look too tight--and angle the waterskin up to drink. Here, I’ll take off the cap.” Jarid stared thunder at Bayrd. “It’s not about you, my Lord,” Bayrd said. “You always treated my family well. But, here, we can’t have you following along and making life difficult. There’s just something that we need to do, and you’re stopping everyone from doing it. That isn’t right; I guess this isn’t either. Maybe someone should have said something earlier. Well, that’s done. Sometimes, you let the meat hang too long, and the entire haunch has to go. It’s just the way of things.” He nodded to the others, who ran off to gather things. He pointed Rosse toward the slate outcropping, which was nearby, and told him what to look for in good spearhead stone. He turned back to the struggling Lord Jarid. “This isn’t witches, my Lord. This isn’t Elayne...I suppose I should call her the queen. Funny, thinking of a pretty young thing like that as queen. I’d rather have bounced her on my knee at an inn than bow to her, but Andor will need a ruler to follow to the Last Battle, and it isn’t your wife. We can’t fight anymore. I’m sorry.” Jarid sagged in his bonds, the anger seeming to bleed from him. He was weeping now. Odd thing to see, that. “I’ll tell people we pass--if we pass any--where you are,” Bayrd promised, “and that you probably have some jewels on you. They might come for you. They might.” He hesitated. “You shouldn’t have stood in the way. Everyone seems to know what is coming but you. The Dragon is reborn, old bonds are broken, old oaths done away with...and I’ll be hanged before I let Andor march to the Last Battle without me.” Bayrd left, walking into the night, raising his new spear onto his shoulder. I have an oath older than the one to your family, anyway. An oath the Dragon himself couldn’t undo. It was an oath to the land. The stones were in his blood, and his blood in the stones of this Andor. Bayrd gathered the others and they left for the north. Behind them in the night, their lord whimpered, alone, as the ghosts began to move through camp.          Want to talk about what you just read? Discuss it on our AMOL forum. The opening portion of Chapter 1 can be read here. Copyright © 2012-2013 Tor Books and the Bandersnatch Group. Used with permission. If you enjoyed reading this portion of the prologue, please consider pre-ordering the full book through one of our international Amazon affiliates.
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