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Author Topic: Scroll of Binding  (Read 474 times)

Cynadea

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« Last Edit: September 26, 2016, 06:19:02 PM by Cynadea »
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Cynadea

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Re: Scroll of Binding
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2016, 04:45:45 PM »

CHAPTER 1 ~ QUIET EVENING
Leilya
Innkeeper
Borderlander

Jurene was nowhere near what Leilya expected, but it was decent enough. She took a room in the first inn that looked nice and clean. It had no more than a bed, a nightstand and a washstand, but that was plenty. It wasn’t like she was spending more time than necessary here anyway.

Leilya spent the first day hiding in her room, the whole day she felt duty weighing heavily upon her shoulders. As the day passed by, the guilt caused by her wasted day became so hard to bear that she decided to go to the common room. Inactivity wasn’t a habit for her, it was rather the opposite. Spending a whole day hiding in her room like this was inexcusable.

Sitting in front of an empty plate and a full mug of mulled wine, Leilya stared at the hearthstone. It was cold now, no one needed a fire in these light-forsaken times. The Inn was empty save for her and another guest that she had yet to meet. The tables were all so clean and the floor was spotless, waxed and polished that it made Leilya wonder how many guests a month saw this common room. The only serving girl, the innkeeper’s daughter, was shining silverware and letting know how bored she was by long drawn sighs once in a while.

The innkeeper had thought her to be an andoran lady until she spoke. It was true that even if her Domani accent was a bit fudged by her years spent in Tar Valon, her way to speak had nothing close to andoran.  Leilya glanced up from her cup of wine to see the man come her way.  From what she could guess, he was old enough to be her father. Full of energy he was and rarely ever idle, even when speaking to her. He was a skinny, but tall fellow. He wore his hair cut in a bowl of jet black hair mixed with some white at the temples. His face was hard, when he was not smiling. When he was, however, he came across as a warm welcoming man.  It is with a worried frown that he came to her that second evening. He hesitated before a chair and finally took place in front of her. Leilya knew she would be in for something she didn’t like. There was not much that would bring the arrogant Aes Sedai attitude out of Leilya, but nosy people was one of these things.

He motioned to his daughter to bring something and cleared his throat. It all started with small talk, such as how good it felt to have his weight off his feet, and how quiet it had been these last few weeks. Leilya punctuated his small talk with quick nods or the occasional “Mmhmm”. It was filling the silence, taking her mind off places she didn’t want it to go. It was way too easy to abandon herself to the despair, way too easy. She was beginning to think that he might not be nosy, but only wanting for her to think about something else, but then it came. He didn’t have a Lady of her quality in his Inn all that often. She was beautiful and young and there would be another significant for her someday… It suddenly dawned on Leilya that the innkeeper thought she was heartbroken! She was, after a fashion. Just not the way he thought she was.  Leilya schooled her features to be emotionless as she was getting irked by the man’s words. He probably thought she was about the age of his daughter, thanks the Aes Sedai agelessness.  Leilya let out her first irritated sigh, and it caught the innkeeper’s attention immediately.

Your reasons for hiding in a place like this are your own, Lady Maena. I did not mean to invade… Sometimes talking to someone can help take heavy weight off shoulders…

Does the advice come with the room, or do I have to pay extra?” Leilya asked coldly, before thinking.

Leilya took the last sip of her wine and shot the innkeeper a level look. He was invading, that was plain. The man rose to his feet and raised his hands in surrender. He had meant well, but sympathy was something she did not want. It made her pain vivid. It made it harder to contain the tears; it made it plain that there was something missing.

The innkeeper’s daughter arrived with another mug of mulled wine and vanished into the kitchen to wash the dirty one. The Innkeeper walked back toward the counter, sometimes looking over his shoulder at her. He wanted to tell her something else, Leilya could tell but she was absolutely not sure she really wanted to hear what he had to say.

*     *     *     *     *

Bloody ox of a thimble-brained man! Watch where you’re bloody going! I should pull you down and make you eat that flaming whip! Burn you!” The man yelled, shaking a fist towards the door.

In spite of it obviously being an insult, it made Leilya smile. Well, almost smile anyway. She did raise one of the corners of her lips a bit. The man stretched the string of insults, though under his breath.  He let himself fall onto a chair that complained under the sudden weight. He had a gash in his shirt and the skin under was bloody. The innkeeper’s daughter hurried to find a clean washcloth and water to help the injured man. He was obviously very mad, and he must have pushed the innkeeper’s daughter away three times before she gave up and threw the washcloth at him. He growled at her when she walked near him again, but when she roughly put the mug of ale in front of him, his mood seemed to brighten a little.

Leilya was about to stand when the innkeeper came out of the kitchen. If the pretty daughter couldn’t get to the man, Leilya was ready to bet the innkeeper wouldn’t have much more success. The innkeeper stood right between them, hiding the wounded man from Leilya’s view. It was obvious that the wounded man was larger. His broad shoulders could be seen sticking out on either side of the innkeeper’s narrow body. The words exchanged did not reach her, and it didn’t bother her. She emptied her wine, the last she would have for the night or else she’d have to be dragged in her rooms. Leilya wasn’t the overly proud kind, but she didn’t want to be shamed in this manner. Especially if the innkeeper would notice the White Flame angreal pendant and the Great Serpent ring that she wore on the thin silver chain around her neck.

Can’t a man have some Peace even in your inn, Marksan? I’ve seen worse than a bloody cut done by a flaming wool-brained merchant in my life, you know as much.” Leilya heard him growl.

The Innkeeper made the same surrender motion that he had used with her earlier. As the Innkeeper moved away, Leilya took a good look at the other man. She stopped a gasp just before it reached her lips. The man looked oddly out of place. His speech was a bit colorful, but she didn’t care for that. She had lived among soldiers, as a soldier, and she had heard much worse than that. Leilya tilted her head, making her brown hair fall over her shoulder in a slow cascade. The man wore a topknot; it branded him as a Shienaran as per Leilya’s knowledge. She found his icy blue eyes quickly and they were staring right back into hers. Not in the least embarrassed, she held onto his gaze waiting for him to break it.

Has your mother not told you not to bloody stare at a flaming stranger?” He growled at her.

Has yours never told you to watch your language when speaking to a lady?” Leilya retorted with a crooked smile.

His lips twitched, he clenched his jaws. Leilya stood gracefully, mug of mulled wine held loosely between both of her hands. She walked toward him without haste, taking in more details of him. His face was not perfectly symmetrical; his nose was a bit crooked and his mouth was slightly lower on the right side. He looked as if he had not seen a razor in a few days too… nor did he have a good night of sleep. He wore fine clothes, his shirt was silk… and ruined by the blood. He wore nice pants that were stained by the dust from the road. At his waist, he wore a sturdy tooled leather belt on which was hooked a sword. When her eyes returned to his, she saw that he was examining her the way she was him; though his eyes did stop on the sway of her hips a little longer than necessary.

You should take care of this before it gets infected.

That earned her glare and whatever traces of a smile there was on his face before was gone. She regretted her words but it was too late. The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, and what has been woven could not be undone. He was a borderlander;  perhaps a link to the  army that was rumored to be not too far from here. She could hardly just sit at his table and ask questions. She wouldn’t dare to flash the Great Serpent ring at him, not every borderlanders liked Aes Sedai. She could not think clearly, her mind hazed by the wine she had had.  She smiled at him, hoping the friendly gesture would soften the glare, but it didn’t. Not much anyway. Leilya walked to the counter in the same typical domani manner and put her mug onto the counter. The innkeeper was muttering under his breath. If another patron was to come into the inn’s common room and see a bloodied man sitting at the table, they might get the wrong idea of how he tended to his guest. Leaving him to mutter about his misfortunes, Leilya went to her room. Tomorrow, she had to leave for Caemlyn.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2016, 04:50:09 PM by Cynadea »
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Cynadea

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Re: Scroll of Binding
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2016, 05:19:30 PM »

CHAPTER 2 ~ THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Leilya Maena
Innkeeper
Sheban Valdar

A good bath, clean clothes and a good breakfast, that’s all Leilya needed to recover her spirits. The day before had been a day wasted, there was no way to gain this back. Now she had to make haste before she had to run after the borderlander’s army all the way to Shienar… It wasn’t that she wanted to go there, but she had to. Disturbing news had come regarding a scroll that described the weave used to bore a hole in the pattern and free the dark one. Leilya intended to seek it out and destroy it, if such a thing existed. Maybe she would have the pleasure of discussing with her borderlander friend again.

The though brought a smile to her lips, and it is at this moment that she entered the common room. The Shienaran was leaning against a wall, his arms crossed and in one of his hands he held a copy of Jain Farstrider’s Travel. Muscles and brain in the same man, that was bound to be interesting, Leilya thought to herself.

He was head and shoulder taller than Leilya, and that’s in spite of the leaning position. She was not really tall, but nor was she short. She felt his eyes on her and glanced over her shoulder. She expected him to be staring at her hips again, but was surprised to see him stare right into her eyes. There was something different about him.

Good morning, M’Lady.” He said in a clear warm voice that had nothing to do with the growls of the night before.

He straightened and bowed to her, though a bit stiffly. Leilya answered to the gesture with a polite nod of her head. She sat at her usual table, waiting for her breakfast. It was early, but the Innkeeper had been made aware last night that she was leaving shortly after first light. Her breakfast came quickly, it was not much, but it was enough. She was halfway through her meal when she saw the Shienaran sit on the bench in front of her. He sat sideways and leaned his back against the wall, his foot flat on the other end of the bench.

The Innkeeper told me you were going toward Caemlyn, Lady Maena.” He told her in a soft voice, as if there were other patrons able to eavesdrop; they were alone in the common room.

He speaks too much.” Leilya replied.

It isn’t a good time for a Lady to travel alone.” He suggested subtly.

What makes you think I can trust you? You haven’t even told me your name.” Leilya stated matter of factly.

Their eyes met for a moment, ice cold meeting slate grey. It looked like he had found his razor. That was the difference between now and the previous night. His black topknot was on the top of a now clean-shaven head, he had no more of the two-days worth of beard or mustache. He wasn’t ugly at all, not that it really mattered.

Sheban, Sheban Valdar. From Fal Moran in Shienar.

Leilya nodded her head slowly, chewing on a bite of bread that was a bit too dry to her taste. He looked at her expectantly. He wanted her to return the favor. The dilemma was simple; she could come from Arad Doman, but would have to explain what she was doing so far from home or she could come from Tar Valon and he would know her for what she was. This time, she broke the eye contact.

Where do you come from, Lady Maena?

Leilya. I am not a noble.

He inclined his head but did not insist on the avoided question. Leilya had the feeling he would get back on the topic later, if he had time.

I am heading toward Caemlyn myself. I want to see the biggest city of Andor before I head back home. It is also convenient that it is located not too far from a river that could have me home faster than by horse... Roads are not safe for a woman alone.” He repeated, insisting in some way that he would be protecting her.

Roads are not safe for anyone, these days.” The Innkeeper said from behind the counter.

Are you offering to escort me to Caemlyn, Sheban?

Sheban put a hand flat on the table. His sword hand, Leilya guessed by the calluses on it.  He drummed his finger impatiently on the table.

Are you always so bloody fussy?

I am a woman, what did you expect?

The Innkeeper laughed out loud, but Sheban remained dead serious. Leilya finished her breakfast and paid for the room and her meals. Sheban was nowhere to be found. She didn’t hear him leave the room.

Lady, I’ve known him a long time. Sheban’s a good honorable man, he’ll keep his word and make sure nothing happens to you. That’s the way it is for him, back home...

Leilya rose an eyebrow, but remained silent as she tied the pouch back onto her belt. He might be a good and honorable man, once his language would be washed out of all those “bloody” and “Flamming” was her opinion of the man so far.

The stable boy had packed everything on Myst, but was still saddling Dusk when she arrived in the Inn’s backyard. By her horses, there was a tall bay stallion that was as calm as a frozen pond. Myst had always been an impatient horse, pawing the ground, stepping aside… Dusk and the other stallion were quite different from her. Sheban appeared from a box in the back, carrying his saddle bags. He walked with a feline grace that Leilya had noticed on most of the experienced warders; a predator’s grace. Yet Sheban could not be much more than his late twenties.

I see you’ve decided to come with me.” She told him serenely.

If you can keep up, I don’t mind if you follow me.” He replied.

If he wanted to make her angry, that definitely wasn’t the right way. She rather liked it the way it was. They weren’t together, but yet they were. Leilya dug into her pocket and found small pieces of carrots. They were not the freshest produce, but she knew the horses would appreciate them none the less. She was careful with Dusk. Being nipped by the warhorse had taught her that he wouldn’t miss a chance to let her know how much he truly liked her; which meant not much. She still rubbed his nuzzle and patted his neck.

A Lady with a warhorse… I honestly thought the gray mare was yours, but not that one.

The mockery in his tone was plain, she let it fly and didn’t answer. Sometimes, ignoring men remained the best of ways to let them know they were out of line. That was one of the principles that her mother had thought her. Leilya glanced over her shoulder and saw that Sheban now wore a second sword; this one across his back. It was broader and heavier than the one at his belt.

Leilya mounted the horse, grateful that he didn’t try to throw her to the ground this time, as he had done multiple times before. There was a long way to Caemlyn… unless she lost Sheban on the road and opened that gate out of Braem woods. It would be faster, but she would miss a chance to know a borderlander first hand, before reaching his kingdom. She had met with a few women through her training, but a trained man, never. With a subtle move of her hips and heels, she started forward.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2016, 06:53:00 PM by Cynadea »
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Cynadea

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Re: Scroll of Binding
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2016, 05:52:38 PM »

CHAPTER 3 ~ THE PIECES OF A PUZZLE
Leilya Maena
Sheban Valdar

Darkness settled around them slowly. It seemed that the day had lasted forever, and yet at the same time it had gone by quickly. It was a strange feeling. Leilya had never felt the need to fill the silence with words. It was something new to her.  She did tend to babble on and on when there was nothing else to do. Yet, Sheban had remained silent all day, save for the moment of sharing the meal, and she had felt no need to changed this. He twisted on his saddle to look at her and she saw him wince. It was so quickly gone that she thought for a moment that she had imagined it. It was to offer her to stop for the night. There was a pond of clear water where she would be able to take a bath, if she wanted. It was deep enough into the woods that the trees would shelter them from the road for the night.

Leilya found herself tending the tea water as Sheban took care of the horses. He seemed to know how to handle Dusk, which was more than she could claim. He unsaddled the horses and took care of their coat. The meal was the same than the midday meal; bread, cheese and dried meat. At least, she wasn’t eating it in the saddle this time; she could actually take the time to enjoy the food. Sheban took his seat across the fire from her with his ration. They ate in silence, but Leilya was beginning to itch for conversation. She knew nothing about him, next to nothing anyway. Their eyes met and he broke contact first, before Leilya could find anything to say.

You don’t mind my presence, do you?” He finally asked her.

Several ways to word her answer came to mind. She didn’t want to sound desperate for company nor too indifferent to his presence. The truth was that his presence held the tears at bay, and sad memories too.

Do you mind mine?”Leilya decided to reply.

Answering to a question with another question was a good way to avoid giving a straight answer. He seemed satisfied and answered her with a shake of his head.

The bloody innkeeper wouldn’t stop harassing me into escorting you to Caemlyn, and since it’s where I am heading anyway... ” Sheban paused, and then looked back at her. He must have seen something of her annoyance in her features, because he quickly tried to justify his words. “I am not doing it because he flaming did. I feared you might be one of those women who can stop talking all the time.

Leilya’s annoyance was beginning to turn into amusement. Was there something more entertaining than to watch someone put a foot in their mouth and then try to fit the second one in with more explanation? Leilya was sure that Sheban wouldn’t exactly feel relief if she laughed at him there and then.

Don’t think I am not. Only, I had nothing to say and you didn’t seem in the mood for small talk. ” Leilya said, trying to hide her smile behind her cup of tea.

Her good mood did seep into her voice, however. Sheban appeared to be put at ease by the lack of offense. He drank tea with her, but with the ice broken, Leilya wanted to know more. Where he came from, how he came to be so far from home… He patiently answered each of her questions.

His father was Malkieri and his mother Shienaran. His father was very old when his first-born son came of age to learn to use the sword properly. He had seen to the beginning of his son’s training but as he grew weaker, masters took the old man’s place. He wanted Sheban to represent de Valdar’s house when the Golden Crane would be raised again. Sheban’s father had never shared the resentment against Aes Sedai that some Malkieri harbored. He knew the quality of the men and women being trained there. So on his death bed, he made his wife promise to send Sheban to train in the White Tower.

Leilya tried to hide her surprise. It explained a few things, but then again these things could have had a dozen of other explanations. She refilled her cup and walked to him to fill his. Instead of returning to her side of the fire, however, she sat by him at a proper distance.

He kept on with the story of his life, keeping things short and not saying everything, Leilya was sure of it. After two years of training with the Warders and the Tower Guards, he had completed his training. Most of it had been learning to lead men, since he already had a few years of sword forms training before. When he considered his training done, Sheban had returned home to take care of his aging mother and also to continue his father’s work in fighting the Blight to protect the living. He had come to Jurene to visit a relative, but since he was here, he might as well see Caemlyn. He had been dreaming about it since he was a boy.

Questions burned her lips, but she managed to keep silent. It was already something that he had opened up to her this way, she was not about to try to get more information from him at this point. She scanned the small clearing. It was so dark that all she could see was the fire and its reflection into the pond’s water. There was no moon tonight. Her eyes fell onto his package, the broad sword propped against the saddlebags.

You’ve had a lot of training, but what about actual fighting?

I’ve had my share, and it’s only the beginning. Now, Leilya Maena, will you tell me why you are wearing a White Flame at your neck, alongside a Great Serpent ring that should be around your finger?

Leilya almost choked on a mouthful of tea. Since the pendant had not left its spot between her breasts, below the neckline, she had a pretty good idea of where he had had his eyes at some point… Was it the night before? She had had enough to drink to be careless about such a thing. A string of curse crossed her mind, involving a few “bloody” and “flaming”, “fool” and “idiot”.

I am an Aes Sedai, of the Green Ajah. ” Leilya let out reluctantly. “I prefer to travel as Leilya Maena; as a simple, though wealthy, women tend to attract a different kind of attention. The Whitecloaks, for example, would ignore Leilya Maena in a way they wouldn’t Leilya Sedai.

Sheban nodded his head, but the lop-sided smile on his face made Leilya brace herself for a blow that she was sure would come.

Either way, you are bloody hard to ignore.

The way he looked at her made plant a tongue firmly into her cheek. She stood up and walked toward her blankets, followed by his laugh. The bloody man! Leilya repeated that string of curses used only seconds before, but this time, it was not addressed to her… well not only to her anyway. She glanced over her shoulder and saw him twist around, to say something and this time she saw it. He winced, and it seemed to hurt enough to cut off all laughter. Leilya stopped in her tracks and kept her eyes on him.

Is it that gash again? ” She asked going back toward him, “How did you get wounded anyway?

All traces of pain was gone again, he looked just fine. It was as if she had imagined the pain on his face once more. However, she knew she had not. She crouched next to him and extended a hand towards the buttons of his shirt with a confidence she didn’t really feel. He didn’t really need any more encouragement and she certainly didn’t want to give it to him. To her surprise, he pushed away her hand much like he had done with the innkeeper’s daughter the previous evening. Her eyes locked with his, and she frowned. There was a strong will there, but would he be able to match hers?

She went for the buttons a second time, much with the same result. Healing without permission was against Aes Sedai customs, but dealing with such stubborn man might require that she did. The third time, he caught Leilya’s wrist in an iron grip.

I was carelessly walking too close to a merchant’s wagon and he used his whip. I raised my arm to protect my face… I’ve had worse than that before. I don’t need your healing.

If we are ambushed, Sheban Valdar,  I don’t want you to get killed because this stupid wound slows you.

Her fingers were starting to get numb as he held her hand, but the staring match did not end.

Now I see the Aes Sedai in you, Leilya Sedai. It’s about bloody time. ” He let go of her hand and the blood rushed back into her fingers. “I gladly accept your offer of healing, Leilya Sedai.

With his good arm, he pulled his shirt out of his pants and over his head. The gash was a hand long and that whip must have been rather unclean, because the wound and bandages were showing signs of infections. She proceeded to the removal of the bandage with a light touch, wishing to cause him as less discomfort as possible.

If you have known that I am Aes Sedai, why didn’t you ask for healing before? ” Leilya asked with a soft voice.

When you reached out for the Tea, the ring and pendant reflected in the firelight. When you served me the second cup of tea, you were close enough for me to see what the ring was exactly.

Ah. ” Leilya said placing her hand against his skin right under the gash. She could feel him tense under her touch, clearly bracing himself for the healing to come. She was no Yellow, but healing had always come easy to her, even though she was not the strongest healer. “I should be more careful.

Leilya surrendered to the Light and for a moment cherished the feeling that filled her to the point where she almost wept.

You have nothing to fear from me. I know who you are and the oaths that bind you. I will see you safe in Caemlyn.

Sheban inhaled sharply, and Leilya felt the muscle tense some more. He was showing signs of his hard training. He was not really heavy, but he was not small either; the muscles of his torso, shoulders and arms were all well-defined. The weave settled into the wound and Leilya accelerated the healing process of the skin. The redness faded slowly and the wound closed, leaving behind dried blood that needed to be washed.

 When she released Sheban, he took a deep breath and seemed to relax every muscles at once.

Thank you. ” Sheban said sincerely, “I won’t find peace until I’ve found a way to repay you for this.

You are repaying me by seeing me safely in Caemlyn.

Sheban nodded and then took his shirt which he neatly folded.

You know, I’ve been thinking about you all day.

Leilya clenched her jaw, ready to lash if he became improper again.

An obviously wealthy lady that could afford to get almost wasted on mulled wine. She owned a warhorse and another fine horse, though not suitable for a battle. Travelling with bow, arrows and an intricately carved staff suitable for battle… With your mood, my first thought was that you had lost a husband in battle and that this was his horse. ” Sheban pointed at Dusk with his thumb.

Leilya felt her carefully built countenance crumble; her Aes Sedai serenity was cracked. She would not cry in front of him. She simply could not!

Now that I know you are a Green, it explains the warhorse and…” Puzzled by Leilya’s sudden departure, Sheban was silenced. He watched Leilya walk decidedly towards her blanket. She settled into them, fully dressed, without bidding him good night.

Suddenly, he understood. All the pieces fit together.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2016, 06:52:29 PM by Cynadea »
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Cynadea

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Re: Scroll of Binding
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2016, 06:09:34 PM »

CHAPTER 4 ~ NOT BROKEN
Leilya Maena
Sheban Valdar

Leilya was awake before him, or so she thought. He was lying down less than a pace from her, his back to her. Light he was tall! She thought, looking him up from head to boots without shame. She expected that he had taken a bath while she slept the night before, and thus would wake later. The fire was safely put out and everything was ready to leave. All that was left was to saddle the horses, so she walked to the pond with a fresh change of clothes. She hadn’t planned on a bath, but some cool water would feel nice on her skin and wash away the night sweat.

Back at the camp, she was surprised to see that not only her horses were ready to go, but Sheban was gone too. So much for never finding peace, Leilya thought. There was none of his belongings left, no clues that he might come back. Leilya put her bundle of dirty laundry in a bag and looked around for traces of her passage. Beside the recent use of the fire pit in the middle of the clearing and a faint weave residue, everything looked as it was before she arrived with Sheban.

The previous day had been almost perfect. She had gone an entire day without thinking of Tharkun. If Sheban wouldn’t have explained his theory about her mood, she probably wouldn’t have thought about Geoph either. Leilya’s goal was to spend another day just like it, or even better. One day at the time; one step toward healing each day.

Leilya was about to leave the clearing when the sound of flapping wings caught her attention. Beautiful song birds were becoming a rare occurrence these days and if the bird that had landed on the branch was the one she thought, she’d have to do something about it. As if in answer to her thought, the raven let out a high-pitched cry. Without looking in the bird’s direction, Leilya strung her bow and then knocked an arrow. In a fluid move, Leilya turned around and raised the bow to see a perfect line from her fingers to her target. There was no wind, and the day promised to be as hot as the one before. She pulled on the string and released. The arrow flew true, but the black carrion-eater spread its wings and moved in time to avoid a certain death.

Of course a moving target is harder to catch.” Leilya muttered under her breath.

She let her bow-holding hand slowly lower to her side and she watched the bird in contempt. Suddenly, the bird stopped as if it had hit a solid wall and fell to the ground, lifeless.

Cheater.” She heard from behind her. “I didn’t know you for a bird killer.

Only a good measure of control prevented her from jumping and screaming. She had never heard him! She took care of her bow before returning it to her saddle, not looking at him directly.

If you feel sympathy for that… bird, you and I aren’t on the same side.” Leilya replied frostily.

Still angry about last night, I see. When you are ready, I will be waiting by the road, Aes Sedai.

Leilya opened her mouth to speak, but closed it promptly with a click of her teeth. She regretted the frost on her last words. He had not deserved such reply. Truly, he had done nothing wrong.  Other than being out of line and overly familiar.

*     *     *     *     *

Another uneventful day had come and gone. Sheban had remained silent, although she had the feeling that he had been on the verge of talking a few times during the day but thought better of it. Leilya had also considered apologizing, but the words refused to come out. They had covered some distance, at least. The end of the day saw them entering a small village. The inn, an oversized house, stood on the edge of the village green. Without exchanging a word, Leilya entered the inn and Sheban led the horses to the stables behind the building.

She had two rooms secured and ordered a meal for both of them. She was sitting at one of the three tables of the neatly kept inn. It looked more like a house with empty rooms for rent than an actual inn, but at least they would have a bed and a roof… and she would treat herself with a decent bath. The floors and the table were polished clean. On the mantle of the fire place were a row of books that had seen better days,  and the innkeeper looked like an honest woman.

Sheban sat in front of her. He was due to meet with his razor again, his jaw was getting darker and darker as the day passed. He looked into her eyes, his piercing blue eyes staring. She had the feeling that he could read her like an open book and his gaze felt invading. She couldn’t bring herself to look away; it would indicate either shame or that she had something to hide. Neither were the case.

We are progressing faster than I thought. Tomorrow we should reach Caemlyn, and you will be rid of me.

And you of me.

He shrugged and leaned back against his chair, his arms folded on his chest. Leilya wanted to break the mood, bring it to a more pleasant level. She felt partly responsible for the heaviness of the silence and didn’t like it at all. The innkeeper brought them food and drinks, and after she was convinced her guests were satisfied, she returned to the kitchen.

Left alone in the common room, Leilya decided to fill her part of the bargain. He had told her everything about himself that he thought she should know. Returning the favor was only fair, but Leilya wasn’t too sure if he really wanted to know more about her.

I am born in Arad Doman, of an andoran father and a domani mother. I was raised to be a seamstress in my mother’s business, but we figured I could channel, so I was sent to the Tower. I trained there for a few years, set out to be a Green because I felt that was the most sensible choice given the time we’re in. That was one of the reasons anyway… I was sent on an assignment near Caemlyn with my first warder.

Leilya embraced Ko’di. If she wanted to be able to go through the whole thing, even if not in details, she had to be able to keep her emotions in check. She fed the fear, the pain and the loss to Ko’di. The void had only one flaw in this; she couldn’t feed the hollowness she felt into the flame. A void in her that couldn’t be filled by another kind of void. Sheban was holding his full fork halfway between his plate and his mouth, waiting for her to continue. She pushed a piece of turnip around in her plate.

He was attacked while he was out scouting and he was too far from me for me to do anything about it. I went on with the assignment. The Wheel had another surprise in store for me. Unknown to the Tower, there was a man there who had once been Gaidin to a grey. She had been captured and killed by the White Cloaks before he could save her. He claimed that he avenged her, but had found a tenuous purpose in helping the Queen’s guards…

Leilya took and deep breath, feeding more into the flame. “We rushed into things, both eager to regain our sanity and focus on the work at hand… He was killed, protecting me from a Light-blinded fanatic… who’s blood is now on my hands. We are taught that a gaidin who loses his Aes Sedai never truly recovers and I saw that at work when we met with the Children.

That was a long story short, alright. She didn’t like talking about it, even wrapped in the void as she was. She looked up, knowing she looked as emotionless as humanely possible, but yet she fed the flame steadily with a pain that just wouldn’t stop.

You’re broken by the loss of your two warders within months…

I am not broken.” Leilya replied sharply.

You are broken, but you are fighting it. Once you admit you’re broken, fixing it will be easier.

I am not broken.

Leilya forced herself to eat. Her appetite was gone, but food was not to be wasted in a time like this. Sheban emptied his first mug of ale and left her to request another. She was not broken, she could not be weak. An Aes Sedai could not appear to be weak. When Sheban came back, she had eaten half of her plate and could not remember the taste of it.

At least it explains who you are.” Sheban said to break the silence. Under Leilya’s gaze, he decided to add more in his defense. “You walk and talk like an Aes Sedai, but no matter how serene you want to look, there’s always an incredible sadness in your eyes.

Leilya shrugged a shoulder. She would have to try harder at being outwardly serene it seemed. He watched her expectantly for a few minutes, but growing impatient, he pressed on.

Do you have friends? I mean real friends with whom you can be your true self?

Leilya would have loved to say yes, but the word wouldn’t come out of her lips. She knew why; it had something to do with the tightness of her skin or why she could not hurl a fireball at him no matter how tempting it was.

True friends were never easy to make, for me.” She finally answered. “I have always been rather solitary.

Friends would help you through this.

Good night, Sheban.” Leilya said, trying to cut short to this talk. She stood and walked around the table to head to her room, and to her bath.

As she passed by him, he touched her hand. As their eyes met, she saw concern. She was a stranger, and yet he felt concern for her well-being.

It is still early. Don’t leave. Sit and talk with me, you look like you need to talk.

His voice was warm, his tone understanding. He sounded sincere, and somehow didn’t come across as nosy to Leilya. She had had her share of talking now, though. His solicitude was doing her some good even if he was as tactful about it as a charging bull in a sea folk porcelain store. She took his hand into hers and a step toward him. She leaned toward him and pecked his cheek gently, and then squeezed his hand also in a gentle manner.

Thank you. It means more than you might think.” She murmured at his ear.

She released his hand and left the room. A good bath would do her good and might even help with the saddle-soreness that seemed to have settled into her legs and lower back.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 01:30:50 PM by Cynadea »
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