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Previous scene: Gone Too Long ~~~ Merdyn stepped through the Gateway that his Warder had created. His feet landed firmly on the packed earth of the Embassy's Traveling Grounds. Nox was right behind Merdyn. The Gateway disappeared without ceremony. He glanced over to Nox and smiled warmly, still feeling relaxed from their night together. The pair had awoken well before the dawn. Merdyn had thrown together a large meal and Nox had made a Gateway to a hot spring located somewhere in the north. They had broken their fast together and bathed each other there before returning to their hut to dress for the meeting with Calder. It had taken a little over an hour and Merdyn had found himself wondering why they had not done something like that sooner. He was positively beaming. Dawn had just started to break over the horizon, casting a hazy glow to the violet sky overhead. The air was crisp and smelled of nature and the green things that surrounded the Citadel complex. Merdyn looked around, impressed with the structure that had been erected for the Asha’men. He had only ever been to the Citadel once and he had still been a Soldier at that point. It felt like that had been a lifetime ago to Merdyn, so much had happened since then. He had never actually even been inside the Embassy, so he was not sure what to expect. Merdyn took Nox’s hand and gripped it firmly. He spoke warmly to his Warder, “Do you know anyone in the Band, love? The last time we were here, I don’t think I spoke to anyone but you or Ful… What sort of people are our comrades?”
"I know it's not common practice to stop for a couple of well-armed people, captain. I really appreciate your help." The captain of the ship Firefly nodded, then held out his rough hand. "Gratitude is all well and good, but I do be needing payment. You did say that you were able to pay." Mehrin nodded back, then withdrew two gold crowns, Andoran weight, from a pocket. Placing them in the captain's hand, Mehrin replied, "That should cover the ride." Reaching into a different pocket, he then withdrew a further three crowns. "And that should cover any added expenses we may have created." The captain's face remained expressionless, despite the coins. Mehrin knew that it was far more than the journey and food had been worth, but he could afford to be generous. The ship needed several repairs, and what he had paid the man would go a long way towards making them. I can afford to be kind. Of course you can. You have to assuage your conscious somehow, don't you? Shut up. Mehrin also knew that he was taking a large risk by paying so much. Anybody who had seen him pay the man would consider the fact that there was probably more in his possession. Mehrin was not worried about the crew of the ship; they had seen him and Eb exercising and sparring together on the deck. He doubted that any of them had a desire to end up wishing that they were dead. With practiced ease, Mehrin slung his travel sack over his shoulder and climbed the gangway up to the docks, Eb following behind. Once again on land and amongst people, Mehrin could feel his perception shifting, his eyes slightly unfocusing in order to take in as much peripheral vision as he took in direct vision. Immediately, two men in an alley drew his attention. One was fingering a knife, and the other looked as if he had a small club. Normally, he would have ignored a threat as miniscule as the two would offer, but Mehrin felt a need to vent some pent-up frustration. Stopping in his tracks, Mehrin turned to fully face the two, causing them to start upright from the walls where they had been leaning. With an exaggerated stretch he allowed his coat to open, revealing the bullwhip and knife at his belt. When he was sure that they had seen the weapons, he smiled coldly and tipped his hat in their direction, then turned on his heel and walked up the street towards the inns. "That was foolish, I know," he said to Eb, "but I feel better for it. Nothing like a good threat to calm the nerves." Stretching again, he fell into step next to her as they proceeded up the street. "We should find an inn for the night. I could use a bed that doesn't rock. Besides, it-" A flicker of motion in the corner of his eye caused Mehrin's head to snap around. Taking in the full detail of the alley and buildings next to it, Mehrin saw nothing of interest. There was a clothesline hanging in the alley, and the clothes were moving in the breeze. Nothing to worry about. "Anyway," Mehrin continued, "we can ask around, find out why the Whitecloaks are interested in me. I should probably not be the one asking the questions, though. Might lead to certain awkward conclusions." Something started gnawing at the back of Mehrin's mind, something that worried him. In a low voice he added, "Take care. There's something wrong." Glancing into the next alley, Mehrin saw another clothesline, and the worry suddenly dawned on him. The clothes hung still; there was no breeze. Eying the clothesline carefully, Mehrin muttered, "We're being watched." OOC: Go ahead and bring us to the inn. Noting weirdness is a good thing.
The Manetherendrelle- or the River Arinelle, depending on the person asked- came into view, and Mehrin breathed a sigh of relief. The past couple days of hard walking had been tense, leaving little time for conversation beyond warnings and directions. The river, though, provided a respite. If they had made it this far without being caught by the Children, then they were likely safe for the time being. It would not be too difficult to flag down a ship heading either towards Whitebridge or Illian. Either destination would put them out of reach of the Whitecloaks for some time, hopefully enough to lose himself- Ourselves, Mehrin corrected- to the Whitecloaks completely. An unspoken signal between him and Eb brought the two to a halt. Without hesitation, Mehrin dropped his coat and sword and dug into his bag, searching for a change of clothes. He had just spent several days walking day and night, with only a couple hours of respite between stretches of walking, to get to this point. Part of that time had been spent walking waist-deep in a creek to get to this point. He needed a change of clothes, and modesty was beyond him. As he pulled clothes out of the bag and began changing, he glanced at Eb. *Thanks for pulling me out of the camp," Mehrin said, the first real sentence between the two since their escape. Pulling his shirt over his head, Mehrin stretched, feeling the tension in the mass of scars all over his body. He took a moment to splash cool water from the river on his body before pulling a new shirt over his torso and discarding his trousers. "I know they're in here somewhere," he growled, digging through his bag. He shoved aside a purse full of full Andoran crowns- one of many- and pulled out a balled pair of trousers with a cry of triumph. Feeling human again, Mehrin looked at Eb, his face suddenly growing serious. "Now, then," he grunted. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"May you live in interesting times." -Curse attributed to Ancient China After careful consideration, Mehrin had decided that boredom was wasted on the boring. He had been walking for quite some time without the company of anybody but his own mind- not always a pleasant traveling companion- and he had had plenty of time to reflect on it. A soldier's life was made up of long stretches of boredom interjected with flashing moments of excitement, and Mehrin had come to treasure each long minute of boredom, often spent sitting around a fire with the few friends that he had and sharing a bottle. Excitement, though, managed to remain in the memories of those at the fire; every moment of excitement brought with it empty spaces around the fire. You think too much, Mehrin thought as he returned his attention to the empty road around him. In the long time that he had been making his way along the southwestern border of Andor there had been very few people on the road. A farmer hauling his latest produce was the most exciting thing that he had seen in the past week. Still, instinct that had been ingrained into Mehrin through years of combat and survival told him that all was not well. He was rather certain that he was being followed. The feeling had begun a few weeks previously, but whoever or whatever was behind him was sharp enough to catch the little surprises that he had been leaving to flush them out, and every attempt at ambush had been met with no success. However, during that time, the follower had made no attempts to harm Mehrin, which led him to believe that whoever or whatever was following him was not interested in attempting to rob him. Just as well. If the follower- if it even existed- felt like leaving him to his own devices then Mehrin was fine with it following along. Whatever was following him made no attempts to harm him, but it did not help him in the three bandit ambushes that had come up along the way. The first had been two former mercenaries, judging by their tattered uniforms, and they had put up a good fight; it had taken Mehrin almost twenty seconds to cut the two down. The second was an amateur with a warped crossbow. Luck had been with Mehrin that day, and the crossbow broke in half. The brigand had escaped with a broken and bruised face. The third had been interesting. Three men had leaped out from behind a rock. Two charged without hesitation, but the third had turned white and stammered out, "C-c-c-commander Deathwatch!" The two charging men heard him, and the charge turned into a full rout; Mehrin assumed the man who had spoken was a deserter. Sound in the distance behind him made Mehrin return to the present. The clop-clop of horses- several horses- had come to his ears, and Mehrin stepped to the side of the road to allow the horsemen clear passage. Riding into vision was a long line of men in blinding white cloaks. Interesting, Mehrin thought as the group- somewhere around one hundred, if Mehrin's quick count was correct- rode past him. Many of them eyed Mehrin, and Mehrin eyed right back at them. He had no quarrel with the Children of the Light; he had fought alongside them at Bandar Eban against the Seanchan, and he had even helped broker something of a peace treaty between them and the Band of the Red Hand shortly before they began construction of the Citadel. It was ancient history to most, but it provided Mehrin with some comfort; maybe he would not have to sleep so lightly tonight. Maybe the follower would decide to leave him alone, too.