RPG #5 - Of Aes Sedai and Asha'man

Discussion in 'RPG # 5 - Of Aes Sedai and Asha'man' started by Nienor, Oct 9, 2004.

  1. Elan Morin Tedronai

    Elan Morin Tedronai The Forsaken

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    Eyes darting back and forth, looking down at a strange woman beneath him, Ahsdale's memory suddenly flooded back. He growled at the woman, and she stepped back. "How long have I been here ?" Not too long, he guessed, there was still some noises off towards Daran's camp. His friend could be in trouble. "Get me down from here, I need to - " he was cut off by the woman, "Ive told you, I cannot undo your bonds. But Ive eased your pain, and healed your exhaustion."

    Ahsdale realized she was right. He felt strength in him again, his skirmish with the bear-man might not have happened, and his draining argument with the Aes Sedai, at that. "Thank you. I, I am sorry for yelling at you, I was...Well. Its not important, my name is Ahsdale Nolatari. And I thank you for your healing, and your kindness."

    The woman blushed slightly, "Oh, its fine. Don't worry about it." Suddenly, her head darted off towards Daran's camp. "I feel them...." she mumbled, "I must go," she said sternly, "my friends are in trouble." And with that she was off, running awkwardly in the forest, tripping on branches in the dark.

    "Wait !" Ahsdale yelled, once again being left alone, up in a tree. "Light," he sighed. Abruptly he fell, smashing his face on the ground. His bonds had come undone. He had no idea how , but at this moment he did not care. The Aes Sedai would answer to him later. Rubbing the dirt off his face, and the leaves out of his hair, he scrounged around and found his blade, discarded on the floor. Picking it up he sheathed it. If Daranbar was in trouble, he did not want the metal of his sword glinting in the starlight, pointing him out to any enemies nearby - he did not know how many were around, watching. Waiting.

    Running silently back towards the camp, Ahsdale found no resistance on his way. However, when he reached the camps permiter, he saw a dark shape stalking around, a long spear and buckler in either hand. He had never encountered one like him before, but he knew them from his fathers storys about the Battle Of The Shining Walls. This man was Aiel. A brutal, savage killer.

    Ahsdale unsheathed his blade, the smooth curve shining like a blazing star in the darkness of the forest. He gripped the handle with two clenched fists and held the sword at his side as he ran towards the Aiel. If he had hurt Daran, he would die a painful death.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2004
  2. Radagast

    Radagast Art House Member

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    Taking a look around him to ensure that he was still alone, Raheryin shifted his feet so that he was better positioned behind the tree in which he had chosen to conceal himself. After Shaedin's conversation with the Darkfriend, he had instructed Raheryin to carefully watch the Darkfriend while Shaedin went to investigate the further conflict that sounded in the distance. The supervision proved to be a straightforward and undemanding task. Not only did the Darkfriend appear to be exceedingly exhausted, Raheryin knew that the bonds set by Aes Sedai were tighter than any rope. Raheryin quickly lost his attentive behaviour and reflected on the prior events that had occured.

    As Raheryin was trying to occupy himself with futile activities lest he fall asleep, a frail woman suddenly came into view. She approached the Darkfriend slowly and carefully, almost in an unsure manner that matched her timid appearance. Raheryin was about to confront her, when he quickly noticed her hand reach out and touch the Darkfriends forehead. Raheryin quickly crouched back down and gave a quick prayer that he was not seen by the Aes Sedai. Raheryin had grown a strong distrust towards those women because of prior events that had occured in the past. Raheryin, along with his brother Ihjeria, had learned the lesson to never involve oneself with Aes Sedai given the choice.

    Soon the Aes Sedai's channeling was over and the Darkfriend became conscious of his surroundings. Listening to the short but informative dialogue between the Aes Sedai and the Darkfriend, who had identified himself as Ashdale, Raheryin remained as silent as he could and quickly tried to bring order to his confusion. Before Raheryin could come to a conclusive decision of action, the Aes Sedai turned and fled. Raheryin assumed she had just realized that Ashdale was a Darkfriend.

    But before the Aes Sedai was more than a minute gone, Ashdale fell suddenly to the ground, somehow free from the Aes Sedai's bonds. After a moment of hesitation to find his sword, the Darkfriend scrambled off in the same direction as the Aes Sedai. Raheryin did not trust Aes Sedai, but he trusted Darkfriends even less. Raheryin knew that he had to follow Shaedin's instructions, and as such he scrambled off following the Darkfriend. Raheryin kept his distance, trying to remain as unnoticed as possible. This Darkfriend had an impressive sword; Raheryin only had a couple of throwing knives and a large hunting knife Shaedin had given him. As Raheryin chased after Ashdale, he realized the Darkfriend was journeying closer to the noise Shaedin had initially left to investigate.

    But before they were almost at the campsite, Ashdale suddenly stopped, catching Raheryin offguard. By the time he skidded to a halt, Raheryin was only a few paces behind Ashdale, well within the radius of being noticed. Looking ahead, Raheryin saw what had come across the Darkfriends path. Raheryin had only seen an Aiel once, however he knew that this was indeed what stood infront of him and Ashdale. Standing motionless, Raheryin watched as Ashdale unshealthed his deadly sword. Still unsure of what to do, the darkfriend suddenly burst into a full charge at the Aiel before Raheryin could shout anything.
     
  3. Sorcha

    Sorcha Moderator Staff Member

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    As soon as he was concious, the stranger asked her "How long have I been here ?" Leaving the question hanging, he demanded "Get me down from here, I need to - " but Taryn cut him off, "I’ve told you, I cannot undo your bonds. But Ive eased your pain, and healed your exhaustion."

    Almost immediately, his attitude changed. "Thank you. I, I am sorry for yelling at you, I was...Well. It is not important, my name is Ahsdale Nolatari. And I thank you for your healing, and your kindness."

    Taryn felt the blood rushing to her face, and embarassed she lowered her gaze and replied softly, "Oh, its fine. Don't worry about it."

    A stabbing pain lanced through her, and she realized that one energy was growing weaker. She must have said something about this without realizing, because Ahsdale gave her an odd look.

    "I must go, my friends are in trouble,” she said, although she was loathe to leave him in almost the same state she had found him in. Feeling a bit lightheaded, she glanced back once, then stumbled off towards the flickering life force.

    It was the Aiel, Haeruc, lying on the edge of camp, unconcious and very bloodied. Kneeling beside him, she observed that he had blood on his head, which worried her greatly. Placing a hand on his forehead and the other over his heart, she lowered her shilelds quickly this time, and concentrated on healing him. A tingling like electricity flowed from Taryn, and she closed her eyes, and she found that the man had a severe concussion and broken ribs. Light, he must have fought bravely. With that thought, she poured her energy into him, drawing on reserves she was not aware she had. It seemed like an eternity had passed before the bones knit together and the damage was repaired. As she opened her eyes, Haeruc awoke and stood up quickly, a knife already in hand. He nodded to her in thanks and was gone, she suspected hunting the man he had fought. Feeling terribly exhausted, Taryn sat back for a moment, then stood up and stepped into the clearing where the camp was set up. Seeing Kelaine slumped against a tree like a broken doll, she hurried over to heal her. She had just finished, however, when she heard a yell, and turned to see Ahsdale on the edge of the camp, charging the Aielman, sword at the ready.
     
  4. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    After the last blow to the head, Haeruc could hardily feel himself, he though he was moving, he thought there was pain, but it was too hard to tell, everything was grey and fuzzy, as the world slipped away from him, Haeruc expected to wake from the dream that day, but instead came nothing.

    That void seemed to last for all time, without thought there was no time. Suddenly without warning there was a shock, a feeling like water of dry lips. He drank it in, bathing in life, slowly what was nothing became grey mist again, slowly the mist parted and Haeruc saw the world again once more. Searching around his gaze met the pale face of the one he had been traveling with, a sight that burned into his vision. never before had he been so sure his life was ended, so sure that he would wake, this girl had saved him. He should have been distraught over the huge debt of toh he had gained, but he was happy.

    Rising quickly he unsheathed his knife and readjusted his veil, there was still the shadowsouled to deal with, likely the others werein danger, but he had an advantage, whereever they were they would think he was dead, and this time Haeruc would be more wary.

    Stalking low into the night along the edge of the camp, Haeruc circled to pinpoint his opponenet, knife away and spear out. Ready to kill, ready to die. When suddenly a figure ran out of the night, Haeruc only notices the gint of his sword in the starlight just before it would have cleaved his head.

    Dropping low and rolling past the swinging blade, Haeruc jumped to his feet once more Bringing his spear round andtrusing the blunt end into the back of the foe's knee. Enoguh to unbalance him for a moment but soon enough the hunter was facing him again, the threat in his eyes shining brighter than the smooth steel of his sword. Haeruc raised his spear haft to block the man sword, the curved blade went thoguh it like it was sand, and inch from taking off one of Haeruc's fingers. With no pause, Haeruc let one hand go and swung the wooden shaft into the mans jaw. The blow sent him back but with no more than a spit of blood he returned, sword ready to cut once more.

    This man was a good fighter, in desparation Haeruc throw his spear right at him, and as he dodged to let the spear fix itself harmlessly in a tree, Haeruc threw himself, buckler first, into his enemy. As they crashed to the ground, The man let one hand go of his sword, seizing the other wrist in his grip, Haeruc smashed it against a nearby tree root untill he let go with a yelp of pain. Taking out his knife Haeruc pressed it to the mans throat, ready to kill.
     
  5. Elan Morin Tedronai

    Elan Morin Tedronai The Forsaken

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    Ahsdale growled in pain as he was thrown down against a tree, his hand brutally smashed against its roots. His heron-mark blade flew from his grip, and in one smooth motion the Aiel unsheated his knife and pressed it against his throat. Ahsdale could feel a trickle of blood rolling down his neck.

    Ahsdale looked into the Aiel's eyes. They were dark, and deadly. Filled with rage. The man had lost all his weapons in the skirmish, except his knife. A fact Ahsdale was uncomfortably aware of. Moving his eyes downwards, Ahsdale spotted his blade a few feet away. He would never reach it before his throat was slit. His only other weapon was his bow, but it was still strapped to his back, under his cloak, and was of no use at such close range.

    "Finish it, Aiel," Ahsdale said, staring directly into the savage's eyes. "I know how you beasts take no prisoners." Ahsdale spat defiantly, hitting the Aielman's eye. He did not even flinch, just wiped it away with his free hand, and pressed slightly harder with his knife. So this is how it ends ? At the hands of a savage Aiel ? thought Ahsdale, as he realized his time was almost through.

    The Aielman tensed, and looked off to his left. His attention off Ahsdale for a slight moment. He had heard something - or someone - approaching. Using the situation to his advantage, Ahsdale grabbed the knife hilt with his left hand, his shoulder with the right, and using all the strength he could muster, flipped the Aielman down onto the ground. As the Aielman got up, Ahsdale sprang to grab his blade, bringing it up just in time to deflect the Aiel's blow. He felt the force of his strike all the way up his arm. The hatred in his eye's burning anew. Rolling upwards Ahsdale aimed a blow at his neck, but the Aiel deftly avoided it.

    The two now faced each other openly, both bearing wounds from their previous skirmish. The only sound was the wind in the trees as the two opponents studied each other for a moment. Ahsdale had no wish to fight this man again. He was definantly a match in fighting capability, and Ahsdale had used most of his strength to get free.

    "Halt !" cried a strange voice, as a lone man appeard through the forest. Ahsdale looked at him quizacilly. Here was a Borderlander. Of that he was sure. "Fellow Borderlander," Ahsdale cried, "I am under attack by a savage Aiel. Please, I am in need of aid."
     
  6. Radagast

    Radagast Art House Member

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    Raheryin knew he had to stop the fight at once, he could not let the Aiel slay the Darkfriend before Shaedin or the Aes Sedai had a chance to interrogate him further. Watching them fight, an opportunity quickly surfaced as both men realized Raheryin's presense. Trying to use an authoritative voice, Raheryin cried out. "Halt!"

    The Darkfriend Ashdale was the first to respond, with a very convincing voice. "Fellow Borderlander! I am under attack by a savage Aiel. Please, I am in need of aid." Raheryin did not initally respond, however tightened his grip around the large hunting knife in his left hand and the throwing knife in his right.

    Raheryin then glanced at the Aiel, who remained motionless as he let his fresh blood trickle down his tense muscles. He obviously held no concern about the unexpected appearance of Raheryin, as he kept an murderous gaze set on Ashdale.

    "I give no aid to those who walk the shadow's path, Darkfriend. I am a companion of the wildman you encountered earlier, I was with him when we observed you in the companionship of the Forsaken." Glancing back at the Aiel, Raheryin continued.

    "Aiel. I ask that you do not slay this evil yet, but help in his capture. There are many important questions that will remain unanswered if we let him die. There are Aes Sedai nearby, I am certain they would be glad to acquire such a gift."

    Raheryin stood motionless, waiting for the Aiel to give his response. Raheryin had never spoken to an Aiel before, however Raheryin knew that their culture was backward. There was no clear prediction of his response. If the Aiel would not agree though, Raheryin would have to consider an attempt to wound him more, perhaps even kill him. It would be a sad price and unfavourable deed, but of utmost importance was that the Darkfriend must remain alive a little longer yet.
     
  7. Elan Morin Tedronai

    Elan Morin Tedronai The Forsaken

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    The newcomer did not respond to his plea. Likely he was in league with this Aielman, and would try to kill him aswell. So be it.

    "I give no aid to those who walk the shadow's path, Darkfriend. I am a companion of the wildman you encountered earlier, I was with him when we observed you in the companionship of the Forsaken." said the newcomer, who then continued to talk with the Aiel. Why do these people believe me a Darkfriend, and when have I ever met a Forsaken ? thought Ahsdale, as the stranger finished his one way conversation with the Aiel.

    "Stranger, why do you call me Darkfriend ? I remember your wild friend well, "said Ahsdale, unconsciencly rubbing his arm were the bear-man scraped him, "and he also called me Darkfriend. I promise you now, that I walk in the Light."

    The stranger's thoughts were obviously changed by Ahsdale's words, but his mood was not, "So any Darkfriend would say who was caught between two who threaten his life," replied the stranger as he moved closer to Ahsdale. Moving his sword so it stood halfway between the Aiel and the newcome Borderlander, Ahsdale asked "What proof do you have of foul deeds ? Or evil motive ? I have fought only to defend myself this day."

    Ahsdale looked to the Aiel, it seemed he did not quite grasp what was going on. Likely he wanted to slit Ahsdale's throat and be done with it. "You say this man is a Shadowrunner ? Then he must die !" he yelled as he leaped forward again.

    "Stop Aielman, have you heard nothing I said ? He must be kept alive, we can gain much information from him. Help me in this task, and you will be rewarded," said the stranger, as they both advanced on Ahsdale.

    Light, where is Daran ? I could use his help right now he thought as he readied his sword, and prepared to die in defence of his life, and his honour.
     
  8. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    Regaining his footing after being flung away and attacked, Haeruc faced off his attacker defiantly. But as they met eachothers gazes ready to attack, there was a cry from aside. Another man stood as if ready to join.

    without wasting time, Haeruc scanned the surroundings, soon he had spotted where his spear landed, lodged in a tree just more towards him than his enemy. If he ran he could make it, the portion sliced off in their last skirmish would unbalance it enough to make it an inaccurate throw, but still good for fighting. it was a pity he did not have his other spears, there were likely in the dirt where he was attakced previously.

    The other oen stepped forward, and spoke "I give no aid to those who walk the shadow's path, Darkfriend. I am a companion of the wildman you encountered earlier, I was with him when we observed you in the companionship of the Forsaken." So, this filth was a shadowrunner. the newcomer then spoke to Haeruc "Aiel. I ask that you do not slay this evil yet, but help in his capture. There are many important questions that will remain unanswered if we let him die. There are Aes Sedai nearby, I am certain they would be glad to acquire such a gift."

    Haeruc Sneered at the darkfriend, invisible behind his raised veil. The shadowrunner pleaded but the newcomer took no note of it. "So any Darkfriend would say who was caught between two who threaten his life," But before Haeruc moved for his spear the darkfriend faced them both off. "What proof do you have of foul deeds ? Or evil motive ? I have fought only to defend myself this day."

    "You say this man is a Shadowrunner ? Then he must die !" Haeruc yelled in anger at the filth, before he could dance, the newcomer spoke. "Stop Aielman, have you heard nothing I said ? He must be kept alive, we can gain much information from him. Help me in this task, and you will be rewarded,"

    "I have already taken one shadowrunner this night for those you call Aes Sedai, named by your wild friend. My restraint is spent, this one is of no need he must be killed."

    "Proof!" cried the darkfriend "You have none, you" he waved his sword at the newcomer "are no better than a whitecloak, and he is a savage, neither of you can judge me." He took a step back, sword held out steady and trying to watch them both at once. When his gaze turned to the other man, Haercu dashed for his spear, ripping it from the tree trunk and holding it firmly, he stepped back from the wary darkfriend.

    "You attacked me filth, I was searching in the night to aid one you call Aes Sedai from the shadowsouled, and you ran to dance with me, you have no honour" Haeruc realised as he said this, that his real enemy was still out there, and he was doing nothing but bicker while the others could be in more danger.

    "Argh! I have no time to slay this one as he should, you want him alive newcomer? you take him, I will slit his throat later once you have your information. I must aid those still in need."

    He took a step, but the shadowrunner still moved to face both him and the newcomer, clearly this wouldnt be over till he had been dealt with. Likely this one would die before he let Haeruc deal justice upon his master.
     
  9. Turin

    Turin Valar Morghulis

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    Daranbar leaned heavily against a tree, allowing the moment of dizziness to pass, while he searched the surrounding forest for any sign of attackers. It had been nearly an hour since the Aes Sedai attacked him, and the toll of traveling over two dozen times, not to mention the struggles he’d went through with the witches, was beginning to weigh heavily on him. Typically Daran didn’t feel the effects of the taint, at least not overly much. Taim had told him that it effects everyone differently, and at different times in their lives, tonight was the exception for Daranbar, he felt the taint like a slick coating of vile waste floating on the surface of a clear pond. Sweat clung to his bare chest and face, and he was beginning to find himself dizzy. He needed to rest, and he knew it, but the Asha’man wasn’t ready to abandon his fight just yet, he was short one traveling companion, as well as his pride. What a prize the witches would make if he drug them to the Black Tower as prisoners.

    As the spell of dizziness faded, Daran straightened from the tree and opened another doorway, quickly stepping through. The moment he let the weave go he knew he’d been too hasty, he should have probed the area before stepping through. A rustling came from the brush behind and to his left; as Daranbar turned he heard a low and fierce growl issue from the darkness. Frantically the Asha’man tried to form a weave to defend himself, but it came to him a moment too late. The massive hound leapt the final few paces separating it from the startled Tairen, a searing pain ran through Daranbar’s side as the huge dog’s claw raked down the left side of his body. Reflexively, Daran’s arm came up to fend off the attack, and the beast locked onto it with its massive maw. It was a struggle for Daran not to lose his hold on Saidin, but somehow he managed to form a weave, not the attack he would have chosen had he been better prepared, but it was a defense nonetheless.

    A thin spear, wrought of fire and earth pierced the rear haunch of the fierce creature. Daran’s arm fell free of the beast’s jaws as it reared in pain, it’s agonized howl split the night air like a thunderclap. Daran scrambled away on his back until he came to a tree. Using the tree as a crutch he struggled to his feet. A few paces away the large hound lay snarling on the forest floor, it’s rear lying askew on the ground; it still struggled to reach Daran. The flesh on the left side of his torso was shredded, and his arm was not much better, though he didn’t think it was broken. Warm streams of blood seeped from the wounds and ran down his body, soaking his pants.

    Daran took a step toward the fallen hound, fully intending to finish what he’d started, when he heard another growl from the shadows behind the hound. Realizing that he was in no condition to face this new foe Daran opened another doorway and stepped through, letting the weave go behind him. He tromped through the forest, his head swimming from the pain of his wounds and the dizziness of over exertion. Abruptly he realized that he’d neared his campsite, and he was not alone. As he stepped into the meek light provided by the distant, fading campfire, he realized that there were men standing in front of him. With a touch of relief he determined the Ahsdale was standing with his back to him, but startling was one of the two men he was facing, the Aielman.
    ‘There must be two of them’ ​
    he thought to himself. ‘No man would have risen from the wounds I inflicted on the savage.’ Daran noted the Aeilman’s gaze shift from Ahsdale and lock onto himself. Before he quite realized what had happened the spear was soaring through the air. Had he not been ready to collapse, Daran might have prevented the spear from striking its target. As he was, he barely managed to shift his stance so the thing didn’t skewer him through the heart.

    With two and a half feet of Aiel spear piercing his shoulder, Daran barely held his footing long enough to open another gateway as Ahsdale turned and drug the collapsing Asha’man through. As the two men tumbled to the ground, Daran released his hold on Saidin and the portal vanished. Rolling to his side Daran began retching from the nausea brought on by his wounds and the taint.

    “I’ve shielded three of them.” He stammered between heaves.

    “Can you continue to hold them like this!” Ahsdale asked, watching his companion heave.

    After several moments Daranbar regained enough of his composure to respond. “I’ve tied off the weaves, I don’t need to hold them. The shield should hold for days if I don’t release them.”
     
  10. Unraveller

    Unraveller <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><

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    Baijan cradled in his arms he padded into the campsite. The great hound would have struggled yet had he not sternly admonished him to be still. Los hung close at his side, concerned about her mate and anxious about the possibility of permanent disability. Seiera hung back in the shadows, it was rare indeed that they all entered one place together, even more rare that any of them did so openly.

    Ignoring the frozen tableau in the clearing he laid the hound gently by the dying fire and threw more wood on the embers. He rose and approached the only woman standing in the clearing. She shrank back as he approached, moving protectively over the woman on the ground as he went on one knee before her.
    "My lady, I would ask for your help," he asked courteously. "My companion is wounded and may suffer permanent injury without, shall we say, exceptional aid. I know that you must be weary and that he is an animal but if you cannot help him by other methods would you at least try to comfort him by more normal means?"
    She hesitated for a moment, uncertainty written across her face, and then nodded.

    He rose and walked back to the centre of the camp. Raising his head and putting two fingers in his mouth he blew a high, clear whistle. With a quiet flutter of wings the hawk descended to his outstretched hand.
    "He cannot have gone far," he said, "find him for me."
    Turning to the two men, still frozen where they had been, he spoke softly.
    "Raheryin, I need you. Spearbrother, if your shoulder does not bother you we could use your aid also."
    "To hunt? To kill the Shadowsouled?" asked the Aiel eagerly, Raheryin nodded.
    "No. To find him, to talk."
    Outrage greeted this remark.
    "They tried to kill us!"
    "You yourself told us he was a Darkfriend!"
    "A Forsaken!"
    "Whatever of the master, I am undecided of the servant. Consider this, a man who injured when he could kill, a man who subdues when he could kill, a man who talks when he could torture. A servant who is astonished when accusation is brought against his master. A Forsaken at large with only one servant. Not proof by any means, but enough to question some assumptions. He is further wounded?"
    Raheryin nodded.
    "And the servant?"
    Shake.
    "Then we must be cautious."
    Astonished stares, from the Aiel at the thought of pursuing an enemy incautiously, from Raheryin at the thought that it was possible to move more cautiously than he usually did.

    Turning back to the woman kneeling by the hound's flank he crouched beside her.
    "We may need your aid further. Los will remain with you until you have done all that you can, she will then lead you after us. Our target may not live through his trial without your presence."

    A cry from above signalled the scout's return.
    "Come, the hunt continues. But remember, we serve Justice, not Vengeance, and her will shall be done."
    With a meaningful glance at the tall, veiled figure he melted into the trees.
     
  11. Turin

    Turin Valar Morghulis

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    “I don’t have the strength to play these games anymore!” Daranbar grunted as Ahsdale helped him to his feet. “I should have destroyed this wood and everything in it, it would have saved us time and pain.”

    “They think we are Darkfriends, Daran.” Ahsdale replied while cautiously checking his companion’s wounds. “One of them healed me, perhaps they are not all determined to kill us. If I can find her maybe she will heal you as well, the spear has cost you much blood.”

    “Just as likely that I’d find myself gentled when she was done.” The Asha’man replied through gritted teeth. Overhead a hawk cried out long and shrill, drawing the attention of both men.

    “Can you open one of those doorways to take us back to Andor?” The borderlander asked, running low on ideas.

    Daranbar shook his head. “Unless I know the area we are traveling from, I can only take us a short distance at a time. Not a problem an hour ago, but now, I’m not even sure I can hold the power.”

    With Ahsdale’s aid, Daran made his way to the nearest tree and used it to support himself while his companion worked on binding his arm to his side. As he stood there, the Asha’man reached out and struggled with Saidin. A long moment passed as he fought the battle with the male half of the One Power, and finally he had a hold on it. Letting out a ragged breath Daran let his power enhanced senses wonder through the trees. It didn’t take long for him to find what he sought. The graceful sound of stealthy footsteps in the undergrowth.

    “They’re close.” He whispered to Ahsdale as he finished his binding.

    As if his words were a summons a figure stepped into the pale light granted them by the moon. The form of a large man, dressed to resemble a bear, followed by a smaller figure he could not quite make out.

    Ahsdale spun on his heel, a sharp hiss cutting through the night air as his sword cleared its scabbard. He stood squarely facing the newcomer. “He’s not alone.” Daran muttered from behind his friend.

    “I did not come here for death.” The large man declared. His voice revealing less about his intentions that Daran would have liked.

    “Then speak your piece and leave us, I will take no more prisoners tonight.” Daran did his best to make his voice steady and confident, he wasn’t sure that it worked. Either way, he assumed that the wild looking man would catch the threat in his words.
     
  12. Meteorain

    Meteorain Magical & Mystical

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    Soft voices. Some light. Conciousness came slowly to Steivan. He could feel the damp grass beneath him. He stirred slightly, as the voices became clearer and lauder to him. Yet as he did so, the voices stopped. Thinking quickly, he scrambled up, and stood in a crouch like position. The sudden movement, caused a rush of blood to his head, and he swayed slightly. Quickly recovering he looked around to see bunch of men staring at him. They looked like farmers. One was holding his nanginata. How in the Light did that get here? Did he grab it, as he feel through the strange gateway. That was unimportant now though?

    Noticing that the farmers were not much of a threat, he straightened slowly, and made his posture has harmless looking as possible. Yet he thoguht that hadn't worked much, their own postures gave away the sign of wariness.

    "Who are you? What happened to you?" the man holding his naginata asked.

    "I am a simple traveller. I was set upon by bandits. I do not know how long I have been here" he replied, lyding as deftly as he could. The reply was the best he could think of at the moment.

    "A simple traveller eh? And why would bandits not talk this lovely looking weapon of yours? Kind of special looking for a simple traveller such as yourself" the man retorded disbelievingly.

    "I do not know. I was knocked out. That weapon is a gift from a lord who I used to work under for my services. I would like it back" Steivan answered with as much sense of truth he could put into his voice.

    "Well. This does seem suspicious" another man said.

    "But he ain't done nothing" another piped up.

    "We'll. You don't seem to be doing much harm. Here take yer weapon back" the man said, handing Steivan his nanginata back. "If yer seemed to have suffered any memory loss, yer in Amadicia. Out village ain't far from here" the man added, pointing towards the village he suspected.

    Thanking the man, he started to make his way towards the village. He needed to think...a lot for that matter. Yet he had no money. It wasn't his way to steal, so he would have to try and hide in a stable or something of the sort. That was first. He could think about Aes Sedai and his future later.
     
  13. Unraveller

    Unraveller <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><

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    A slow, unsettling grin cracked his face.
    "About that, at least, you are correct."

    As he stepped forward the young man moved to block him, swinging his sword up to warn him back. His left hand snaked out to grip the blade near the tip. Astonished, the young man tried to wrench it back. The steel grated slightly against the plates in the palm of his gauntlet but did not budge. Quietly, dangerously he said,
    "I may not have come for your deaths, but I most certainly did not come for mine. You are a Borderlander, yes? Then until the next dawn the White Ribbon is offered. On parole."
    He released his grasp and the young man staggered backward, puzzlement painted across his face. After a long moment he nodded.

    The black-coated man was in a pitiful state but still managed to hold an air of quiet fury. Almost. His sleeve was shredded and, he noted with a tiny twinge of satisfaction, his arm was not in much better condition. The dull glint of a steel spear-point in the undergrowth nearby gave the cause of the deep wound in his shoulder which had been partially bandaged with strips torn from the sleeve. The once-fine coat was rumpled and soiled and glistening dark patches bore testament to the severity of his wounds, having lost that much blood it was amazing that he was still standing.

    "Bleed to death? Maybe. Take prisoners? Never."
    He held is gaze for a moment and noted the slight glazing. He continued.

    "You have wounded and you have taken wounds. Of this I will say nothing. Indeed, I have one who will aid you."

    Outright disbelief painted their faces.

    "I nearly made a grave error this night. I came to pass judgement without trial. All men are fallible. It nearly cost me one of my dearest friends. No, no," he said, as the hard, implacable look reappeared on the black-coat's face,

    "I do not serve Retribution, for it is born of emotion and personal feeling and is the most capricous and injust of masters. I serve Justice which, Light willing, is eternal and unswerving."

    He paused and surveyed the men. They still were guarded but seemed to be paying close attention to his words. But there was little time to waste.

    "Spare me your oratory. Say something meaningful or leave us be," the man replied but his sneer turned to a croak at the very end. The younger man darted a worried glance at him but held his guard.

    "I offer the Court of the Wilds. Your wounds will be tended and you will be given the chance to defend yourselves in a free and just court. Whatever the verdict you will be dealt with fairly. The lady who accompanies me is a skilled Healer and upon my honour, she is no Aes Sedai. But first I must bind your eyes. I have known... I know something of channellers and though we may be just we are not foolish."

    He stepped back, giving them a moment to make their decision. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Raheryin's arm beginning to shake with the strain of keeping the bow poised. His place of concealment was good but he couldn't last much longer without moving. The hound was eager too, the slight rustle of the bushes gave away her preparations to spring if the command came. He couldn't make out the Aiel from this range, not that he was suprised, but he knew he would be in position behind the men. The lady trembled, she was as edgy, scared? as the rest of them. Light, he hoped he was right!
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2005
  14. Sorcha

    Sorcha Moderator Staff Member

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    Taryn watched the conflict between Ahsdale and Haeruc in a kind of shock, unable to move or speak. A voice from the dark cried out “Halt!” and a man stepped forward, a knife in each hand. Ahsdale called out for aid, and the newcomer responded coldly, "I give no aid to those who walk the shadow's path, Darkfriend. I am a companion of the wildman you encountered earlier, I was with him when we observed you in the companionship of the Forsaken." Light! The channeller…a Forsaken! Then…why did he not kill us all? Taryn wondered.

    The Borderlander turned to the Aielman, and with nervousness in his voice said "Aiel. I ask that you do not slay this evil yet, but help in his capture. There are many important questions that will remain unanswered if we let him die. There are Aes Sedai nearby, I am certain they would be glad to acquire such a gift."

    Watching the exchange between the Borderlander and Aiel in apparent disbelief, Ahsdale interrupted quickly before Haeruc could respond. "Stranger, why do you call me Darkfriend? I remember your wild friend well, and he also called me Darkfriend. I promise you now, that I walk in the Light."

    "So any Darkfriend would say who was caught between two who threaten his life.” The stranger moved his sword in berween Haeruc and Ahsdale.

    "What proof do you have of foul deeds? Or evil motive? I have fought only to defend myself this day."

    "You say this man is a Shadowrunner? Then he must die!" Haeruc replied, lunging forward to finish what he had begun, but was stopped by the stranger. "Stop Aielman, have you heard nothing I said ? He must be kept alive, we can gain much information from him. Help me in this task, and you will be rewarded.”

    There was stirring from Kelaine, who was still unconscious, although Taryn had been able to heal most of the woman’s bruises and scrapes. Head injuries had to be dealt with very carefully.

    All at once, a whistle through the air and a corresponding thud distracted her, and she whipped around again to see the channeller with a spear sticking out of his shoulder, and blood all over him. That was not all from a solitary spear, Taryn thought, building up her shields against the bombardment of this man’s and all the others’ injuries against the mental walls she had carefully raised. The man stumbled weakly and looked as if he would collapse, when another doorway in the air opened, and Ahsdale leapt up and lunged at the alleged Forsaken, both practically falling through the gateway, which disappeared behind them.

    A moment passed, and the shadow man that had been in their campsite appeared, carrying a large hound in his arms, which was surprisingly not struggling. It was badly wounded, and Taryn could see blood seeping from a wound in its haunch. The man strode towards Taryn and she moved to protect Kelaine. She will not be hurt because of my carelessness.

    In a surprisingly graceful movement, he knelt before her. "My lady, I would ask for your help" Taryn’s eyes widened. Eloquence and courtesy from a wildman. Interesting, she thought, a bit confused.

    "My companion is wounded and may suffer permanent injury without, shall we say, exceptional aid. I know that you must be weary and that he is an animal but if you cannot help him by other methods would you at least try to comfort him by more normal means?"

    A thousand protests sprang to her lips as he plead with her to aid his companion. She had healed an animal before, but only once and that was a bird, quite different from the large dog the man cradled in his arms. Putting all her doubts aside, she slowly nodded.

    Leaving the hound with her, he rose and standing in the center of the camp, whistled, a high pitched sound that pierced the quiet night. A hawk descended, and whispering words that Taryn could not make out, he let the hawk fly back into the air and turned to the two men, still standing motionless.

    An exchange of words passed among the three men, and as the bearman spoke, the other two looked at him, incredulous.

    The shadowman walked towards Taryn, and she tried not to shrink back as he approached. He knelt down next to her, and said "We may need your aid further. Los will remain with you until you have done all that you can, she will then lead you after us. Our target may not live through his trial without your presence." Before she could ask what trial he spoke of, a piercing cry from the hawk interrupted, and he stood saying "Come, the hunt continues. But remember, we serve Justice, not Vengeance, and her will shall be done."

    As the three men left her with the hound, another dog approached, apparently called Los. Reaching out a tentative hand towards the injured one, half expecting it to bite her, it only licked her hand weakly. Placing her hand on its head, she let energy flow down her arm into the hound. It was much easier than expected, and certainly easier than healing a human. Turning her attention to Kelaine, she realized this must be done carefully. Placing her hand on the woman’s head, she slowly and carefully poured her energy into the healing, and felt the bones knit together and the bleeding in her brain slow and cease. She sat up with a jerk and stared at Taryn in disbelief. Before she could say anything, Los tugged at her sleeve. “I have to go,” Taryn said softly. “Don’t worry, I will be safe,” she lied, knowing she was going into great danger. Straightening and feeling more lightheaded than before, she brushed the leaves and dirt off her dress, and spoke to Los “All right, lead me to them.” The two hounds took off into the forest, and she had to run to keep up.

    The hounds lead her to the shadow man, yet the other two had disappeared. As she came nearer, she saw Ahsdale, sword at the ready, defending the channelling man, who was braced up against a tree, obviously very weak.

    “I did not come here for death,” the bear man declared.

    “Then speak your piece and leave us, I will take no more prisoners tonight,” the channeller said, trying to steady his voice, but failing. Taryn wondered why he had not healed himself of the grievous injuries inflicted upon him.

    "About that, at least, you are correct,” the shadow man replied, and Taryn got the distinct impression a wry grin had crossed his face.

    Ahsdale moved against the larger man when he tried to step forward, but the bearman gripped the blade of Ahsdale’s sword, and with an edge to his voice said softly "I may not have come for your deaths, but I most certainly did not come for mine. You are a Borderlander, yes? Then until the next dawn the White Ribbon is offered. On parole." The sword was released, and after a moment of consideration, Ahsdale nodded and the bear man’s attention turned to the channeller. His gaze took in the torn coat and many wounds and said "Bleed to death? Maybe. Take prisoners? Never."

    He paused, considering his words carefully, and continued You have wounded and you have taken wounds. Of this I will say nothing. Indeed, I have one who will aid you." There was incredulity written across almost every face present, including Taryn’s. Me? Heal a…a…Forsaken?

    "I nearly made a grave error this night,” the bear man continued. “I came to pass judgment without trial. All men are fallible. It nearly cost me one of my dearest friends. No, no, I do not serve Retribution, for it is born of emotion and personal feeling and is the most capricious and injust of masters. I serve Justice which, Light willing, is eternal and unswerving."

    "Spare me your oratory. Say something meaningful or leave us be,” the channeller said with disdain in his voice.

    "I offer the Court of the Wilds. Your wounds will be tended and you will be given the chance to defend yourselves in a free and just court. Whatever the verdict you will be dealt with fairly. The lady who accompanies me is a skilled Healer and upon my honour, she is no Aes Sedai. But first I must bind your eyes. I have known...I know something of channellers and though we may be just we are not foolish."

    Moving back a bit, so the two could consider his offer, he surveyed the camp, most likely looking for the two others that had accompanied them. Clasping her hands in front of her to keep them from shaking, she looked to the black coated man for his answer.
     
  15. Turin

    Turin Valar Morghulis

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    Daranbar pushed himself away from the tree he’d been leaning on to face this newcomer. With Saidin rushing through him he could hear others in the forest, no doubt planning another attack. Whatever was to happen needed to happen quickly, he knew, for his strength was rapidly leaving him. He found himself wishing he had his coat from the camp, despite the muggy air he felt a chill on his bare skin.

    Shaking his head he addressed the newcomer. “You speak of talk rather than violence, yet you have men in the trees stalking us? Not a great show of faith on your part.” He stopped for a moment and closed his eyes, focusing himself, he knew he’d lost much blood, and he was feeling lightheaded.

    “And to complicate matters further you would bind me, is that how you put it? Yes, yes, I don’t think you’ll bind me tonight my friend. As for your word . . . from where I stand you accompany a group of witches that attacked us in the night and would like nothing more than to see me gentled. If you’ve questions of me than ask them, but don’t presume that I’ll surrender myself or my companion into your good graces after the events of the past hour.”
     
  16. Lady_of_Shalott

    Lady_of_Shalott Weaving the Magic Web

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    The sinking sun cast dim shadows over the rolling, treetopped hills, a red ball of fire on the western horizon. From her perch high up in a gnarled, leafless tree, Laria Castier could see for miles. It was pleasant, sitting in that tree, especially with a slight breeze stirring the normally stifling air. She felt safe in the tree, up high and secluded, not that she was admitting she was afraid, of course. And the seclusion was nice. Laria loved being alone.

    Wriggling around, Laria settled herself more comfortably between the branches and pulled out a battered volume, The Travels of Jain Farstrider, one of her old favorites. It was one of the few books she had allowed herself to bring with her. For once though, she could not focus her mind on the story. Lowering the book, she leaned her head back against the tree trunk, lost in thought….

    “Gone! Gone! She’s gone!” moaned the Lady Olenia, sinking back limply onto her pillows.

    Laria dabbed her eyes with an already damp handkerchief and tried to comfort her mother. She could not believe that after all these years of threatening to do so, Arylin had finally run away. And she would have to pick a time like this to do it too, mere days after their father’s unexpected death.

    “You must go after her! You must!” Olenia gripped Laria’s arm and pulled her down to eye level. “Laria, please! She will listen to you! If she does not come back…” Olenia released Laria’s arm and dissolved into even harsher tears. Go after her? Out there where there were all those people? Her mother could send some servants or retainers… Laria quickly dismissed that idea. All those servants were incompetent louts. Plus, they did not know Arylin half so well as she did. Shuddering, Laria realized she had no choice. She must go…


    **************************

    “Arylin, you must listen to me,” Laria pleaded, striding quickly down the only staircase of the crowded inn, trying to keep up with her sister.

    “I have absolutely no reason to listen to you, Laria. Go home. Get your nose out of my business and stick it back in your books!” Arylin made a sharp left at the bottom of the stairs and slipped out the back door of The Silver Spoon into the teeming streets of Illian before Laria could say another word. Fuming, Laria strode quickly after Arylin, so caught up that she barely noticed the crowds she normally despised. “She actually means to go through with this fool thing! After all I’ve told her!” she muttered to herself.

    She remained silent as they threaded through the crowds, trying to calm herself down. Arylin never listened to anyone who was angry with her. She just fought back even harder. Soon, however, she realized that she was just trying to delay the step she knew she had to take. She had hoped she wouldn’t have to do this. Taking a deep breath, she grabbed Arylin’s arm and pulled her aside into a filthy alley.

    “I am going with you,” she stated bluntly. Best to just come right out and get it over with. Arylin blinked incredulously.

    “What?”

    “I am coming with you.”

    “You mean you’re going to take the Oath?”

    “If I must, since you refuse to – “

    “Don’t talk to me about that again Laria!” Arylin interrupted snappishly.

    “As you wish. But I am going to tell you that what you are doing is incredibly foolish – “

    “If you think it’s so foolish, why are you coming along? And don’t say it’s so you can take care of me. I am perfectly capable of doing that myself.”

    “I am well aware of that. But I made a promise Arylin. I gave our mother my word to bring you home! And, the Light help me, I have to find a way to do it! We both know how important promises are, Arylin. Fath – “


    “Don’t mention him!” Arylin shouted, loudly enough so passersby stopped to stare. She lowered her voice, but her voice quivered as she said, “I cannot bear to think about him.” She looked away for a moment, but then turned back to Laria and said fiercely, “Fine. Come on this ‘foolish’ expedition if you must. But if you try to make me go somewhere I don’t want, or even breathe a word about, about…” She swallowed. “I swear I will…” Leaving the threat ominously unfinished, Arylin stalked past Laria back into the street.

    Not sure whether she wanted to scream or cry, Laria leaned against one of the rickety wooden buildings in the alley. She wished her mother had been right when she said Arylin would listen to her.


    ********************************

    Entering the common room of The Gleeman’s Flute, the only inn of a small village just over the Amadician border with Altara, Laria looked around for Arylin and the rest of the group.

    After taking the oath back in Illian, Laria had been unpleasantly surprised when Arylin announced that she had already made plans to seek the Horn with a group of Hunters she had made friends with. It was an odd group, consisting of two men who looked like they had once been soldiers, a grizzled, white-haired old traveler, and a robust middle-aged woman, Catra. She was the leader of the group, probably by sheer force of will. And it was also she who had taken a liking to Arylin in the first place. Laria could not imagine why Arylin liked the woman. She was loud, boisterous, and crude. No one had been keen on having Laria join the group. But somehow she had managed to actually confront Catra and make her let her join the group. It was a miracle to Laria that she was able to make herself do that.

    But thus here she was, craning her neck to see through the crowds in the common room. But hard as she looked, she did not see any of them. Deciding they all must still be in their rooms, Laria turned and almost ran head-on into Master Belfin, the innkeeper.

    “I’m sorry,” she started to apologize, but the man quickly interrupted her.


    “No, no, don’t worry about it, Mistress. But what are you doing here, I may ask? Why aren’t you with your party?”

    “What am I doing here - ? Wait, were did they go?”

    “Why, they left, real early this morning. I assumed you were with them.” Laria stared in shock. Light! Arylin had taken off again. She knew Arylin had been annoyed by Laria’s presence, but she did not think she would do this. No wonder Arylin had insisted Laria have a room to herself last night. Light, how could she have been so blind, not to notice? All this traveling must be getting to her. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Laria asked, “Which way did they go?”


    *************************

    And thus there she was, up in the tree, watching the sun sink beneath the horizon. Tomorrow she would continue her search for Arylin. She just had to find her…
     
  17. Unraveller

    Unraveller <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><

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    "You are right to be suspicous, as I am right to be wary. Since the Breaking the world has lived in fear of men like you. Men with great power, fated to go mad. But it is not the place of a judge to pre-empt a crime. You are called to trial to face the accusation that you align yourself with the shadow. Your refusal speaks strongly against you. I do not ask you to make yourself more helpless than you are now but I will not have you healed only to have to fight you. Here is my offer. You will release the women you hold as a sign of your faith. As a sign of my faith you will be healed of the worst of your injuries. Have I not already trusted enough to place myself where you can strike at me, knowing what you are? I could have struck before you knew I was there, as I would if a rabid wolf were loose? If not then name your terms or bleed to death among the leafmould."
     
  18. Turin

    Turin Valar Morghulis

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    Daranbar sighed in disgust, again cursing himself for not slaying all these fools to begin with. Stepping forward he laid a hand on Ahsdale’s shoulder to steady himself and opened a doorway into the camp where the women were bound.

    “Very well, I will remove their bonds, but their shields will wait until I am sure of their intentions towards me. Now, I’ve had enough of this banter; let’s finish this night’s business. Still leaning on Ahsdale, the two men stepped through the gateway and into the dim light of the fire on the other side. When Daran glanced back through the portal he saw a look of apprehension of the large man’s face, apparently unsure of what to do.

    “Perhaps the faith and trust you speak of is one sided? Remember, just as you did not approach me with hostile intention, neither have I attacked you. Come, I’ve not the strength left for you to debate.”

    A look of resolve crept onto the man’s face and he stepped through the opening in the air, followed closely by a small young woman. As the two passed through Daran let the weave go and the doorway in the air winked out of existence, leaving the bear man’s companions on the other side.

    “The first step is always the hardest.” Daran said under his breath as he turned to face the women. As he focused his attention on removing their bonds of air he could feel himself swaying gently on his feet, the last of his strength quickly fading. When the last of the three weaves was removed Daran’s hold on Saidin wavered violently and slipped from his grasp. The sudden loss of the power turned the Asha’man’s knees to water and he slumped. Ashdale caught him under one arm and guided him to a sitting position on a log near the fire. “I pray I am not making a mistake.” Daran whispered into his companion’s ear before the borderlander resumed his defensive position across from the large man.

    As the first of woman reached her feet Daran turned his weary gaze back to the one who named himself judge. I suppose that now we will see if you are a man of your word.”
     
  19. Elan Morin Tedronai

    Elan Morin Tedronai The Forsaken

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    "You stand accused of being both Friend Of The Dark, and Forsaken," said the bear-skin man, the small woman standing meekly beside him. Daranbar sat on thje ground, slumped against a fallen tree, his strength had left him atleast half an hour ago, and he had not recovered. Ahsdale did not know much about the Power, but it must be draining. And those wounds Daran had received were surely no help.

    Ahsdale did not trust this bear-man, who had yet to give a name, but he had sheathed his blade at his companions bidding. He was still weary from his earlier encounter with the bear-man and the Aiel, but had much more strength than Daranbar could muster. If something happened, if this man betrayed them, he would have to do all their fighting.

    "I have told you before, we are friends of the Light. You, above all, look more like a Darkfriend, in your ragged bear-skins. It is you who hunted us across the forest, and your companions who wounded both I and my companion. You are not the only one who wants answers."

    The bear-man didn't even seem to take notice. His arrogance made Ahsdale want to unsheath his sword straight into his throat. He'd notice that, I'm sure Ahsdale thought, but he stayed his hand. Walking to Daranbar, he put a hand on his shoulder and whispered in his ear, "Is it wise to tell him of our mission ? He may be of some help, but he may also betray us. I dont trust him as far as I can throw him, and he's a big man, I don't think I could throw him very far." Daran chuckled at that, but it made the situation no less dangerous. How could they trust this man, and who was his strange companion ? Likely some Aes Sedai no doubt. Then again....the last Aes Sedai Ahsdale had encounted showed a supreme arrogance, whilst this one had not said or word, nor tried to command the conversation.

    "It is dangerous indeed," he whispered back, "I need time to think. By us some time, ask for my healing to be done now." Ahsdale nodded, and got back to his feet. "My companion needs the healing you promised him if we are to continue this trial.

    The bear-man nodded to his companion, and she walked purposefully towards Daranbar and placed her hands on his chest. At this range, he recognized the woman. Faintly at first, but it came back to him. She had healed him when he was held against that tree. He was comforted by that fact. He did not believe such a kind spirit would betray them.

    Ahsdale was knocked out of his reverie by a sharp gasp escaping Daran's mouth. "It is done, " said the woman, "He will be back to normal within the hour."

    "Thank you," Ahsdale said, as the woman made her way back to the bear-man. "Her Healing is not the same as ours or the Aes Sedai's" said Daran in amazement, as he helped himself to his feet. As he got closer, Ahsdale could see no marks of combat, no wounds at all. Except for a little dried blood around his lip.

    "Are you well enough to contine Daran ?" said Ahsdale. Daranbar nodded and moved to face the bear-man.
     
  20. Unraveller

    Unraveller <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><

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    Ignoring the young man he turned to the lady and bowed. The exhaustion was painted across her face and her eyes were slightly unfocused. Gently taking her arm he led her to a comfortable spot on the edge of the clearing and waited while she settled herself.
    "I thank you for your aid my lady, and apologise for putting you in danger. Is there anything I might do to make you more comfortable?"
    Weary as she was she couldn't hide her surprise and only mutely shook her head. He nodded and whispered,
    "If events go awry then be ready to run."
    Rising, he steeled himself. He could still feel it clawing at him and suppressed a shudder. The ark One's Touch. Like tendrils reaching out from the edges of that, what? Portal? Focusing he prepared his mind, resolute, calm and detached.

    Striding back to the centre of the clearing he glanced around to make sure the women were indeed stirring, then faced the two men. Locking his gaze with the black coat he reached behind himself and unslung his axe. He weighed it for a second and then swung the massive blades into the turf, making the younger man jump. His crossbow he discharged into the ground also, placing it carefully on a tree-stump. Then, slowly, he removed his gauntlets and spread his hands. Then he turned to look at the young man. The silence drew out for a moment, then the young man realised what was expected of him. He moved to protest but at a glance and a raised hand from the elder he too disarmed himself. He nodded and turned back to the first, who unbuckled his sword with a wry smile. It was not with a blade that he was most deadly.

    He folded his legs beneath him and sat on the ground opposite the slumped form. The younger man gingerly lowered himself into a crouch beside him, ready to spring at a moment's notice.
    "This is the Court of the Wilds. It is not beholden to the Laws of Men, though it shares many of them. It is a court of justice where a man's actions and intentions can be weighed and balanced. You stand accused as Darkfriends and you as a channeller aligned to the Shadow, a Dreadlord or Forsaken. You plead innocence. Then we shall present the evidence for you to counter. You were seen approaching the Manor of a known Darkfriend. You spoke with the guard and then left. You then returned and entered the Manor. You then proceeded to converse with the owner, a man deep in the Shadow, who held you in awe and was afraid of you. When you were discovered you almost destroyed the building with the Power and left, taking the chief Darkfriend with you. These are the facts. State your defense."

    His piercing gaze and droning voice fixated the two men. The elder was strong in his mind, or perhaps hard, but even he could not hold that stare indefinitely. In himself he waited for their answer, not quite anxiously, not eagerly but on some level in between. They seemed to be trying to delay, to give them time to think and regain strength. Each moment they delayed was an adantage to him so he did not hurry them. The vigilant bear lurked in the bushes. She had watched this scene many times before and would not interrupt, not unless summoned. The two hounds would be streaking between the trees following the beacon that would lead them to him. He would have to be careful when they arrived, they did not like Aes Sedai any more than he did. The dark forest stretched around them, they were not his only friends in these parts.

    High above a lone bird of prey circled, making the stars twinkle in the night sky.
     
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