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The Wheel of Time turns around Tar Valon, and Tar Valon turns around the Tower. -saying in Tar Valon
Re: Dara Gia: The Beginning
Justen fumed. Did he reside in himself? Of course he resided in himself. Truth be told, that was what frightened him most currently. He felt poisoned. He felt as if he were eroding from the core.
He was not scientifically inclined, but he had a feeling that the cursed raven was somehow linked to it.
Justen didn’t want to share his mind with his brother. He no longer wanted to resolve the tension between them. He just wanted to get away- away from his brother, away from the ship, away from the raven! He eyed the door. He heard his brother and responded generically, “And that is the only thing that is bothering you?” What if all of this was the result of the raven? And the things that happened upon the voyage with the Aes Sedai? Was it possible that it was some sort of creature of the dark forces? But why would it choose him to torment? In the grand scheme of things, who was Justen Trizidad that the dark forces of the Wheel of Time needed to mess with him? What had he failed to see or failed to do to prevent this insanity from taking root?
“So I am a failure, am I?” He unsheathed Jissica. Did he really believe that? No. He believed that he was intelligent enough to have been open to signs if they had been present. She felt good in his palm though. Reassuring.
“That is not what I am saying,” he heard his brother say. “I am saying you are slacking in your duties. That does not mean you are a failure. That mean you need to pick up the baton and run.”
Justen felt a wave of guilt wash over him. His brother tried so hard. Jeroff was captain of this ship. He hadn’t needed to bring Justen along, but he truly wanted to fix things between them. “You are the captain,” Justen said quietly. He suddenly felt very claustrophobic and cooped up. “They listen to you. They may listen to me, but they have you on this voyage. They don’t need me.” Truth be told, Justen didn’t really trust himself all that much right now. And to lead men? Ha!
“We still need a navigator.”
A navigator? Charts and starts and paths. How was Justen supposed to steer them when he could not steer his own life right now?
“Fine!” his brother threw his hand up in the air. Cool air swirled around Justen, ruffling his blond hair. It felt both reassuring and foreboding. Before the brothers, the crewmen made way, going about their tasks and pretending to be ignoring the feuding siblings. Justen ignored them. He had not expected much from them so far in the voyage, he certainly wasn’t about to begin caring now. “If you don’t want to be captain, that’s fine. I’m sure The Captain will be happy to de-rank you when we get back to Ebou Dar. Until then, you are stuck with the title and stuck with the responsibility.”
Anger flared in Justen and he snapped without thinking, “I want to be captain and I may be stuck with the responsibility and title, but I’m also stuck with you.”
A sharp caw echoed down from the main mast. Justen’s heart froze in his chest. The cold spread throughout his body in a tingling wave. He stared up at the black apparition, willing it to fade into nothingness.
“’Not with me’? By the blood! Since when? Justen!” The Trizidad heard his brother snap then felt his body propelled backwards and his shoulder slammed into the mast. “Since when?” Jeroff demanded.
Justen moved his lips. The bird cawed again and he flinched. Why was it that he had to be tormented? There had to be someway out of this curse. Some way to make the cursed bird fly back to whatever darkness had spawned it.
“By the rod, brother, wot’s art?” his brother’s voice came from far away, though he could sense Jeroff’s warmth coming through the air between them.
The bird cawed again.
Justen closed his eyes. By the Light. Was it here simply to drive him to leaping into the foaming ocean? He heard his brother swear and move away. “That cursed creature!” Justen opened his eyes in time to see his brother draw a dagger from his belt and take aim.
A dark laughter swirled through the air and a black haze of foreboding swept over him. “Jeroff! By the Light! What are you doing?”
The knife let loose from nimble fingers. It flew true, striking the bird directly in the chest.
”Ha!” the Trizidad brother exclaimed triumphantly as the body of the black creature fell to the deck. It landed with a sickening thud. Justen slid down the mast, sitting heavily upon the deck. He ran his hands over his face. “What have you done? What have you done? What have you done?” His innards churned. He thought at first it was his soul dying that the world around him seemed to darken as if a blanket were being pulled over it. He looked over his fingers to the sky. “Oh no…”
Re: Dara Gia: The Beginning
Seamen had ceased to pretend to not be paying attention and moved closer around the brothers. Jeroff approached the body, not hearing his brother. He drew his knife from the creature’s chest and it came out stained black. Jeroff winced with distaste. Looking down at the creature that had disturbed them so much on the voyage, Jeroff nudged the bird with one boot to make sure it was no longer among the living. Nodding his head in satisfaction, he turned back to his brother. His smile bled from his face. “Justen? Wot’s art?”
Jeroff Trizidad had barely said the words when the wind picked up. It caught the sailors on the ship off guard. Looking up and around him, Jeroff swore again. “Where did this storm come from?” he wondered aloud. “Men to your stations! Hem the sails! Lets get storm-ready!” In seconds the deck was a flurry of activity as men pushed through the ever-rising winds. Jeroff cast the black sky another look. Had he been so distracted by his brother that he had not noticed the change of weather?
Ben Dridge appeared at his side. The first mate grappled and leaned heavily on the ratline. “Mister Dridge! Tell me true, where did this storm sweep from?”
“Certainly it did not come out of nowhere.” He looked at his first mate. Ben’s gaze was focused upwards to the sky.
“All that I know,” the first mate said between blusters, “Is that it did not come from the north. It did not come from the south. It did not come from the east. And it sure as the Light protects me and keeps me safe, it did not come from the west.”
Jeroff looked incredulously at his first mate. “Are you mad? How is that possible?”
Dridge’s reply was lost in the gust of wind that suddenly blew up. It nearly knocked Jeroff off his feet and nearly loosed the first mate’s grip on the road. From somewhere aboard the ship, one of the seamen weren’t so lucky. His scream could be heard as he was tossed from the ship.
The torrents of rain started, obscuring the ship and its people behind a wet veil. Jeroff looked around, stunned that things could take such a fantastic turn for the worse.
“Captain Jeroff! What do you want to be done?”
Jeroff opened his mouth and received a choking amount of water in the stead. He gripped the nearest rope to steady himself. What did he want done? What the blight was there to do but to try and weather the storm. “Have every one tie themselves to something! I need to get to the helm! We’re not going to be able to communicate well in this so we need to have a line of comm….” He ducked as a wave broke over the ship and over his head. When he opened his eyes again, he was facing the sky, his arm a lead rope above him, still clinging to the rope.
Jeroff blinked. Sky? No. The sky was to his left. But he was laying on the deck of The Albatross. That meant…..
“By the Light….”
He heard the screams of sailors as they were dumped unceremoniously into the raging ocean. Then it felt as if his own hand were being torn from his body.
Then he felt, heard, and saw nothing.
~In singles or several at once~
Re: Dara Gia: The Beginning
The morning had started off veiled in a thick congestion of fog. It had made the scream of labor pain sound distorted and odd. But everyone in the town heard it and knew what it meant, and two different set of people came out of their houses. The first came running out fast, these were the women who the woman in labor, Mariarae had selected to be her labor nurses. They would help deliver and care for the new baby for the first few hours of its life, as was custom to the Dara Gian way of life.
The second crowd roused themselves much slower, for over the last several days they had celebrated the coming life that Mariarae was to deliver as well as the passing of another. It was never a certainty who would be the one chosen by the higher powers to pass into the next world, so the celebration always celebrated all of the lives residing in Dara Gia. One always passed into the next life when another was brought in. It is just the way things had always been in Dara Gia. It had never been a thing of wonderment or dispute.
The second crowd appeared slower, and they moved into the streets after all occupants of their own household were accounted for. Now, you may be speculating that The Hand had chosen Zetarae for the taking, being she the eldest in the valley. But Dara Gians had learned long ago to not come to expect such toss of the die. Indeed, the only real requirement in the exchange of life was a human life for a human life, as it had always been, and age was not always a determining factor.
In this case, it was Tallosrae who was the chosen one. Tallosrae was a well-loved individual in the town, though one could suppose he was neither more nor less well loved than any other member. In any case, he was found sleeping the eternal sleep in his favorite rocker, his chin to his chest and a book nestled in his lap. His wife had been taken in the Trade before the last, and he had no other family members other than the entire town, in one fashion or another somewhere along the line. His passing was not mourned, nor was the birth of the child celebrated- both had been given more than enough attention in the days and weeks before the Trade.
Ierae had been chosen to be one of the nurses, one of three girls assisting the more experienced- a woman of the town that had children of her own. This was not the first time Ierae had assisted, and each time she assisted, the pain, the agony, the screaming and blood, gave her pause and made her reassess her own yearning for children. The yearning always returned, when the mother held her newborn child in her arms. At that time, all the pain and suffering seemed so worth it.
She worked quickly and quietly along with the other two girls, getting what was asked of them. For one of the other girls, this was her first experience in the labor room, and she turned a shade paler at every scream. Several times Ierae and the other girl could have sworn the girl was about to faint. Ierae remembered coming very close the first time she had assisted. But she hadn’t fainted, and neither did the girl.
The sun had peered over the rim of the valley, and like child who had been caught with its hand in the cookie jar, it fled back to the elements where it had risen from. The golden orb was strong in the sky when Marierae’s screams ceased and the babe made its entrance into the world.
Marierae lay, breathing heavily within the room. Other than that, the room was silent. The nurse had fallen silent an hour ago, and had said little, her brow furrowed. Now Ierae knew why. She swallowed back tears and moved away, taking some of the used linens from the room. The new girl remained behind, in case the nurse asked for anything. From the blank look on her face, Ierae knew the girl did not understand the sudden sobriety that overtook the room.
“How is my baby?” Ierae heard Marierae ask sleepily before the door closed behind her. Ierae wiped several tears from her eyes with her shoulders as she placed the linen in the trash. She had rarely heard of a child of Dara Gia being stillborn. During the labor, when she had gone to fetch things for the nurse, she had been told of good old Tallosrae’s death. The Trade had taken place, had it not?
No, she knew it had not, and that bothered her. Everything she knew of the way things work was being tested. Was there another life that they did not know about? A feeling of nervousness washed over her. Even if the child were not coming to a married couple, it would be impossible for such a thing to go unnoticed. It was not so terrible of a situation that one would have to keep it quiet. She washed her hands before she rubbed her tired eyes.
She heard the door open behind her and she straightened. She did not want the others seeing her cry. She looked at the other experienced assistant. The girl’s skin was bled white. The girls’ eyes met. Nether knew what it meant that the Trade had not taken place. They were but two girls who were not old enough to know the way of things, but it was unnatural, they knew that much.
They stood facing each other, neither wanting to go back. They had not been released either. Ierae busied herself with cleaning some misplaced items in Marierae’s home. Dararae watched her for a spell, then came and assisted. Both froze when Marierae’s wail of anguish came from the bedroom. “My child! My child! My child!”
Both looked up when the new girl came rushing out of the room, tears streaking down her face. she did not pause or look at the girls in the kitchen, but made a dash for the door and was gone. The nurse came out moments later, her lips set in a tight line. She carried a bundle of white linen. Ierae knew she had taken out the last of the dirty linen, so this was not more. She averted her eyes.
The nurse looked from one girl to another before saying firmly, “All of this must be taken to Tallosrae’s funeral pyre. All of it.”
Ierae nodded in understanding. She heard Marierae sob. It was the way of Dara Gia that the bloody linens of the birthing room were to be burned along with the body of the deceased. It was their belief that this kept the circle of life flowing. She wondered what dark things would break loose when two bodies were burned simultaneously. She realized she was shivering, but she obediently picked up the linens, plus the final one the nurse placed on top.
She was the center of attention as she exited Marierae’s home and made her way to the pyre at the center of the town, next to the Whispering Stone. It had been built during the labor pains, and Tallosrae’s body already lay peacefully on top. Several ladders still rested against the six-foot pile of carefully placed logs. She was aware of being watched as she mounted a ladder in the middle. He was surrounded by purple and pink and white flowers. She placed the linens on top of the body and said a small prayer.
She descended, never turning her back to the pyre. No one spoke. Several people were crying quietly. The ladders were removed and five men came forward bearing burning torches. They touched off the tinder at the bottom of the pile. Ierae swallowed and a familiar arm wrapped around her shoulders. She leaned back against her mother thankful for the presence.
The entire town stood watching as the flames reached higher and higher.
It was later in that evening. Ierae had spent the day in a haze. If she had noticed, she was not alone, but as it was, she was barely aware of the world around her as she went through the actions of her chores. When they were done, she was exhausted. She had been since she had first left Marierae’s house, she realized. Yet she was loathed to go to bed. Nightmares would plague her if she left the world of wakefulness, she realized. She had no wish of facing Tallosrae or the unnamed babe in her dreams. She had not doubt, however, that her wishes would fly on the hooves of horses as soon as her head hit the pillow.
She finished her chores in the barn where she had helped muck stalls. The physical work had help keeping the dead babes face from her mind, but now that it was done, she was assaulted by visions. She fisted her closed eyes and lay back against the pile of straw. Tears welled up from behind her fists. Even if she had tried, she doubted it very much that she would be able to stop them. Her shoulders shook as she silently sobbed.
She felt the warm hand on her shoulder. “Hey,” Noahrae knelt next to her. He hesitated a moment, as if assessing whether is presence would be accepted or not. She leaned against him, appreciating his presence and warmth and he wrapped his arms around her. They sat silently for a long while without moving, just sitting. After a spell, Noahrae moved slightly, repositioning her head more firmly in his chest. He stroked her hair and nape and kissed the top of her head.
Ierae took in his kindness and warmth and after a spell her heart felt lighter. She felt loved and cherished. It made for an odd combination, for her troubled mind was still moving beneath it. It was not the raging river it had been, however. She felt rested and sheltered and she let her mind wander over what she had considered once already this day, but had kept her mind from visiting the thought since. What did it mean for their town that they were down a resident? What had gone wrong in The Trade?
How much pain must Marierae be going through? She lost her child. Ierae could not image what that would feel like. She had only just recently begun to entertain the fact of living together with a man, not to mention the other things that went along with being married to a man.
Even in her current state, she blushed.
“Ierae?” he must have felt her sudden warmth and a smidge of uncomfortable at being so close. She pulled back and looked into his eyes. She could see the love there. She could see the rest of her life there. She touched his cheek.
“We are going to be together for the rest of our lives, aren’t we?”
He blinked at her. “Of course. I love you. You know that. There is no other for me.”
She lay her head down on his chest again. She suddenly felt nervous. And strange. Very strange. She met his gaze again. “Noahrae…will you lie with me?”
He stiffened. “What? We have not been acknowledged. I do not want to dishonor you.”
She shook her head. “We are going to be together forever. Does it matter? We will be acknowledged eventually- very soon. There is no reason they would not.”
“That is true,” he was silent for a time. “Is this because of what happened today?”
She shrugged one shoulder. “No. And yet, yes.” She tried to bring her thoughts to bear. How could he understand? How could she make him understand? “This was not the first time I have assisted. It is the first that there has been any sort of trouble, however. And I guess,” she paused. What could she say? Ierae drew in a breath and looked Noahrae in the eye. “I want to have a baby.”
He blinked slowly. “Of course. As do I, with you. It will come in its time.”
She touched the front of her shirt. “I want to start now.” She looked at his hesitance. She realized that if she were going to get what she wanted, she was going to have to take the first step. Scooting closer, she wrapped an arm around his neck. Her lips stopped a whisper from his. He did not advance. But what was better was that he did not pull back. Parting her lip slightly, she pressed her lips to his.
Some time later, Ierae slept within the encompassing embrace of Noahrae besides the pile of hay. Darkness had fallen, but they were not particularly missed. It was an odd time in the town of Dara Gia, and everyone was lost in their own fears and insecurities.
As she slept, unbeknownst to her, the vibrations that were the voice of the Whispering Stone sliced through the air. It entered her subconscious and made its home there. It whispered hopes and dreams, past and future. It lingered, tickling and twisting and poking, searching inside the young woman’s mind, searching for an inlet. When it found it, it was relentless. It’s attack was fast, its presence nothing more than a whisper. Its full attack made her uncomfortable, made her stir. It retreated, allowing her to sink back into sleep before pushing forward again, not quite so strongly. It taunted her this way, whispering promises and emotional and feelings, then removing itself almost completely, then returning. Again and again it did this, stirring within her young body feelings she had only now begun to awaken.
The dreamscape it laid out before her was a familiar one- it was the town of Dara Gia. The houses were familiar, yet when Ierae peered into the faces of the townspeople, they were not familiar. They were angry, they were hostile, and they were unfamiliar. And they were leading her to….Ierae’s eyes widened in horror. What they were leading her towards looked much like Tallosrae’s funeral pyre. Only the logs that would burn were not so carefully placed. And instead of a flat surface at the top, there was a pole reaching skyward at the center of the brush pile. Near its base, a platform just wide enough for someone to stand amidst the burning pile jutted out.
There was a path cut through the pile of wood just wide enough for a single lined procession to move though.
They moved her through.
They tied her to the pole.
Everything inside of her wanted to ask why they were doing this. Who were they? What had she done? But her lips remained shut, as if held in place by an unseen force.
They bound her hands behind her and wrapped a rope around her waist before exiting the small clearing at the center. They moved the brush back in place. Now she was surrounded on all sides.
Jenirae, you have been found…
What? she cried out. I am not Jenirae! What have I done? I have done nothing!
It took her a moment to realize her voice was all in her head.
For your crimes, you are sentenced to death! Do you have any final words?
Not guilty! I loved him!
The faces around her twisted ugly with anger. Several moved forward, burning torches held forward. They touched them to the tinder near the base.
Ierae screamed as the world around her erupted in fire.
Ierae screamed. The world around her was erupted with fire. Smoke swirled up from the licking flames to dance in the quickly blackening rafters. Her intake of breath after the scream threw her into a coughing fit. She pressed her face down into the hay, hoping to breath in some of the smokeless air that lay near the floor. There wasn’t much, but it was far less acrid than that even a foot above. She tried opening her stinging eyes to get her bearings. Her mind was still dizzy from sleep and intoxicated from the smoke, but she was pretty sure that she was several feet from where they had been laying…
Ierae called out. She peered through the smoke, trying to make out the forms in the dark. Impossible. She couldn’t see much beyond the tip of her fingers. The fire was licking closer. Holding one forearm over her mouth, she began pulling herself out of the burning building. It felt like a warm eternity that she crawled along that floor. Once or twice she had to change directions to avoid burning straw, and once a support beam from above crashed down directly behind her, sending a shower of embers flying to her back side forcing her to roll to put out anything that might catch her clothing.
Finally, the cool night unfolded before her. Still she pulled herself forward, away from the blaze. She had emerged from the rear of the barn, she realized, when her vision had been cleared well enough to make out the shadows of the towering trees before her. Glowing orange embers rained down sporadically around her and she kept moving away from the barn until she was safely behind the tree line. She drew in the moist air in long breaths until she fell into a coughing spell. Above her, the trees swayed from the nearness of the heat, but from where she was at, she felt nothing but cool air.
Noahrae… she wondered if he was still inside. Hurting, scared, exhausted, Ierae wanted to get up and look, to call, to get help, but an immense drowsiness overcame her and she curled up and fell asleep.
In my passing, will any one know that I have been here?
Re: Dara Gia: The Beginning
Drak’Dar pulled his loose clothing closer to his thin body. The wind at the rim of the canyon blew at his back. It was always stronger here than down in the valley, around the town. From his position, he could see the faint outlines of the town, the Whispering Rock at its center.
He could also see the building burning. His iridescent eyes reflected the flames that licked the sky. From here, the Ravenkeeper could not feel its warmth, but he knew its intensity. It was said in the scrolls within The Prism, in the story of Jenirae.
Lord Rhorixtaer would be pleased. This was but the beginning.
There was a noise from behind him. He did not bother turning from the fire. Egen came forward and picked up the body at Drak’Dar’s feet. The slumbering boy was not heavy, and the Ravenkeeper had no trouble lifting him, but there was no reason. His son would take him where he needed him to.
He stopped his son with a hand. “Be careful with this boy. There is more yet for him to do.”
Egen nodded wordlessly and moved off.
Drak’Dar watched him go out of the corner of his gaze. He had no doubt that his son would be careful. No harm would become of the boy the townspeople called Noahrae, the love of the girl they called Ierae. He was the catalyst that would make all the difference in how things would end- either a mild bon fire, or a firestorm.
He had half a mind to withhold the boy. To destroy him now. It would keep him from being used, to bring about the destruction Drak’Dar knew he would be one part of. But one part of the Ravenkeeper was so intrigued, he wanted to know the full extent.
He condensed his brow and looked again down at the town. He could not see her but she would be down there. She would wake soon. And her thoughts, driven by the dream, would drive her.
The girl would have to be watched closely from here on out, her own personal fire carefully stoked and held in check.
My eyes, my ears- take to the air on onyx wing.
Re: Dara Gia: The Beginning
People were yelling in distress.
At first, Ierae could not make out what they were saying. As she rose from sleep however, the voices became more distinct. She could even recognize a few of the voices. “Bring the water this way! Form a line! Lets get this fire out.”
She blinked and ran her hand over her eyes. She drew in a breath, and it was cold and earthy. Beneath her lay leaves and soft grassy ground. She could just make out the faint impressions of the trees around her from the fire that rose. Pushing herself to sitting, she swallowed. She was far enough away from the burning building and the scurrying town people that they did not see her. She was close enough that the smell of burning flesh wafted on the soft breeze.
Even so, she edged deeper into shadow, leaning her back against one of the rough barked trees. Her family was out there. Her friends were out there. Her love…
Her hand went to her mouth, lest they hear her gasp. She could not comprehend that he could perish in the fire. She closed her eyes and regretted it instantly. Her dream replayed itself on the inside of her eyes. Jenirae. Accusations. Fire.
Tears rolled down her cheek. She could not clench her eyes shut hard enough to stop them. This day had started out bad, and ended worse!
She opened her eyes and stared at the fire. It wavered and flickered behind her still wet eyes. Was Noahrae alive? She searched herself and decided not.
So what had happened? They had not had a lantern or any kind of light with them in the barn. Certainly no one in Dara Gia would have set the fire, for it was a malicious act, and all knew that she and Noahrae would have ended up together, so even seeing them…together, it should not have angered anyone to that point. So what had started the fire?
A chill ran down her spine.
What if the dream and the fire were correlated? What if the dream foretold how the townspeople would react to the fire in the barn that killed Noahrae? Her breath came out in a shudder behind her hand. Her mind raced. She knew the story of Jenirae- they all did. It was ingrained in the history of their town.
They would burn her.
She eyed the townspeople with a new and wary gaze. The smell of burning flesh mingled with that of the other scents of the night. They were busy running frantically back and forth before the fire, futilely throwing buckets of water onto the blaze. They would burn her once they figured out that she had been with Noahrae- there was no way she could keep that secret. That it was virtually impossible to keep secrets in Dara Gia was the curse and blessing of a small town.
Ierae felt her chest constrict when she realized what she needed to do- she had to get out of there. Silently as she could, she moved until the tree lay between her and the burning building. Then she moved into the darkness, making her way through the bough of trees. In short order, she passed through them. It opened into the plains and gentle hills that lay on the east side of the town. If she made her way all the way to the river, she could follow it north and west past the town. With the excitement, she did not anticipate running across anyone.
Still, she kept aware. But the only sound she heard was that of her own breathing, the distant shouts of the townspeople, and the occasional crack of the timbers from the crumbling barn.
Living her life in the valley, she had grown up with enough freedom that she knew the valley by heart. Even in the grim darkness, the sky overcast by the plume of smoke rising from behind her, she was able to negotiate her way over the terrain.
Ierae made it to the river. She paused at its banks in part to catch her bearings and in part to catch her breath. She listened to the silence around her. She could only just hear the towns people now. The flames of the fire licked just above the tree line in the direction she had come. Its glow lit them to an odd rust color.
Reassured that she was truly alone, she turned back to the river and knelt long enough to drink from her hand. Rising, she dried her hands on her shirt. She weighed her options. There were not many. If by staying she would be burned at a stake like her recently dreamed of ancestor, staying within the town was not an option. Staying at the fringes of the valley was….a possibility. But eventually they would sight her and she would be hunted, found, and again put to the stake.
She rubbed her temples. The last thing that occurred to her, then, was to leave the valley. Leave Dara Gia. The more she entertained the idea, the more she began to shake. She wrapped her arms around herself, but it was not from cold that she shook, so her shivers did not abate. It was the fear of the unknown. So very few had tried to leave Dara Gia through the years. None had been back, once they were gone.
Ierae bit her lip. If they died or if the succeeded, she had no way of knowing. She looked back at the town. To certainly die from a known source- people she knew and loved and have lived with all her life- or to die from a source unknown. At least with the unknown, there was the possibility that she would live.
After all, hadn’t there been visitors to their small valley over the years? It had been quite a few, but if someone could make it in, should not someone be able to make it out?
Yes, she decided. It was worth the risk. Swallowing emotions that suddenly overwhelmed her, she forced herself to turn away from the town. She knew that if she followed the Shangrarae River she would eventually come to the cut in the valley wall where, high above, several hundred feet below the rim of the valley, she could climb the rock and find passage through to the outside world.
She realized that she was leaving in the worst of conditions. Yes, she had just woken from sleep, but whatever rest she had acquired had helped with the days earlier activates; the stillborn babe, the funeral, and her activities with Noahrae…they had only but caught her up. And anything more she had gained she had loss in the fear from the fire and the walk that had brought her here. Another problem she foresaw was that she was eventually going to need. Need food. Need water. And, certainly, it would take her a few hours to reach the northwestern walls, and during that time she would be following the river where water would be abundant, but after that, once she began her climb, once she reached the narrow passage, once she passed through, there was no telling what she would find on the other side. No one had ever thought to ask the outsiders for a topographical map of the outside world. It was more asking what was out there and how was it out there more than how was it built out there.
And then after water, there was food.
And going hand in hand with acquiring food, was having defense.
Ierae had none of any of these.
Standing there on the banks, suddenly so indecisive that a known death might be an acceptable out come, she wanted to cry. No food. No water. No protection against the elements. But she had to believe that she was resourceful. Or could be resourceful, when need be. And believe you me, she had a need!
So it was decided them. She squared her gaze to her destination. She raised her chin.
And started on her way.
In my passing, will any one know that I have been here?
Re: Dara Gia: The Beginning
“Are you ready?”
Mir’iam smiled as she tied the last lose article to the back of Bandon’s saddle. She could all but hear the excitement to lead the confining walls of the city, no matter how massive the city was and how much area per capita each person had, it held no candle to the freedom of the wide open space of the road. She could hear the excitement in Teej’s lightened steps as well. “Just about,” she told him. She hooked another button on the cloak she wore as the Aes Sedai turned to face them. In truth, she was as happy as they were to be leaving Tar Valon. It was the ability to doff off the restrictive clothing of the Aes Sedai at court, and don on the less constricting clothing of a traveling cloak and cotton clothing. Even in traveling clothes, there were few who would mistake Mir’iam and Tez for anything other than what they were.
She met Tez’s gaze and fidgeted. “I want to look at the map again.”
Tez groaned and rolled his eye. He could, it was early enough and no one else was yet about. The sun had not yet truly risen above the walls. “Is that really necessary? You have poured over maps for the last two weeks. I have no doubt that we will take every step that you have already mapped out.” Teej stamped his hoof in agreement.
Mir’iam smiled sheepishly. She was trying to over prepare, it was true. It was one of her faults that no one spoke about. But they were chasing after history, and there was not always the possibility of making a second try when one had to deal with things long past and only snippets of information to go forward on. And they were not going forward on much. Even after pouring through any and all of the volumes in the grand library that did or might contain information on Dara Gia, they did not have much more than a general area where the town would be located. Studying maps, she had managed to narrow down the possibilities down to three places in the Blight, of which she had basically flipped a three-sided coin.
The problem was she was still not entirely sure that she wasn’t about to send them on a wild goose chase.
“You are right, of course,” she petted Teej’s muzzle reassuringly. She turned to her own cream colored mount and drew up into the saddle.
Teej danced forward and together the horse and riders made their way through the city walls to the front gate. Once the teeth of the bridge were behind them, the gray gelding tossed his head and broke into a gallop. Mir’iam smiled and looked up to the ramparts where she knew her surrogate mother looked down on her. She raised a hand before she gave chase to her Warder.
They headed north to Shienar. Mir’iam held on to the hope that Lord Agelmar Jagad, who resided in the capital city of Fal Dara, would be of some assistance in their search. Her hope was that a city closer to their destination might hold some remnant information on Dara Gia. The further north they went, the closer to the Blight they traveled, the more dangerous the roads became. Oh, they did not run into stray Trollocs or other things coming down from the Blight, but the human aspects could be just as dangerous, just as blood thirsty and just as willing to kill. There were patrols of guards out, both from Tar Valon as well as from other cities whose roads led to and from the city run by Aes Sedai. But these patrols could not shadow individuals traveling the road- there were too many travelers, too many merchants, and they could not play favorites.
Not that Mir’iam and Tez needed additional security. They watched each others back. If they had brought their own guards, it would have only slowed them down. The unity they shared was enough. They did not come against anything more than an occasional thieve that decided, wisely, that these two travelers would be more trouble than any valuables they could have gleaned by staging a robbery, and the Aes Sedai and her Warder were left to travel in peace.
They entered the walled city after being checked over by the guards at the gate. It intrigued Mir’iam to see the different housing style of the Fal Dara. There was very little by way of ornamentation, the people here had settled for what would protect them best from both harsh winters and attacks from the Blight. Peaked rooftops reached for the overcast sky and stretched nearly to the ground.
From there they made their way through the middle of the city to the residence of Lord Jadad. His place of residence was a small castle at the center of the town. He resided there with his family and retainers. The castle was surrounded by a secondary wall ten feet thick and constantly guarded. To pass through this gate, you had to have a decent reason. Mir’iam and Tez spoke to one of the main guards, stating their names and titles and purpose for visiting the Borderland city. The main guard sent a messenger.
While they waited, Mir’iam and Tez had the opportunity to watch the soldiers of Fal Dara practicing their martial arts. Mir’iam smiled when she looked at the light of interest in Tez’s eyes. “Perhaps we will remain here long enough that the Master Guard will allow you to join them in exercise.”
The master guard was still standing close and heard the comment. He laughed. “I do not think an outsider like you could learn our fighting ways in just one lesson, but you are more than welcome to join them.”
Tez looked at his ward. Mir’iam laughed. “Go. I have the royal guard to watch me. And we’re in the middle of the city. I will know where to find you.”
Tez bowed and followed the head guard to the training area where the other soldiers were training. He would be introduced and given proper clothes to move in.
Alone now, Mir’iam took the time of solitude to study the customs of the people here. It was not often that she left Tar Valon with the objective to study people. Most of what she knew about people and their culture she’d gotten from books. And books had been written by other people who had experienced this sort of thing. She felt a little thrilled to be able to witness some of the day-to-day customs of these towns for herself. She had seen sketches of Fal Daran dress; silver chains and forked beards, but it didn’t beat seeing it in person. She took out her journal book and took down notes.
Her observations were interrupted by the return of the messenger. “Mistress A’del Nor? Lord Jagad will see you now.” Mir’iam bowed and followed the messenger. He led her through the doors and to Jagad’s meeting hall. The man sat in a high back chair at the back of the room. At his side, a severely beautiful woman sat. From her ears hung large hoop earrings. A silver chain was draped over one shoulder. One long nailed hand rested on her chin. Mir’iam realized Lord Jagad’s wife must have been Kandori. Their almond shaped eyes took in the sight of the Aes Sedai. A small smile played on his lips.
“Mistress Aes Sedai,” Lord Jagad beckoned her closer. “Tell me, what can I do for you today?”
Mir’iam rose from her bow and faced the Lord and his wife squarely. “My Lords, I have come from Tar Valon in search of information. As an Aes Sedai of the brown of the Brown Ajah, I am constantly in pursuit of the past, of history, of knowledge.” She paused. “I come here in search of further information on a lost or hidden city. I search for it and while I’ve narrowed down the possibility of where it may be located, but it would be of invaluable help if I were to find more information on it.”
“And the name of the town?” Agelmar asked.
“Dara Gia is its name.”
Lord Jagad pursed his lips. “It is not a name I am familiar with. But then again, I have never been a historian of the past, but one for the future of Kandor.” He waved he hand. “You are welcome to search what materials on the past that I have in my possession.” He made a gesture with her hand and a wizen old man stepped out from the side alcove. “This is Gilbert Paradanna. He will assist you in all you need. Other than that, my servants are at your beck and call. I will have a room prepared for you near the library if you wish it.”
Mir’iam nodded and bowed. “You are very gracious, my lord. I thank you.” Dismissed, she turned.
The old librarian waited until she had joined him. A girl servant appeared beside them and followed them solemnly. Mir’iam assumed the girl was there to tend to her every need. Lucky for her, her needs were few.
The old man led her through a passageway up a winding stairs to one of the corner towers, as they went, he recounted the history of Shienar. Mir’iam listened politely. It would not hurt to know the city closest to the one she was looking for, for locked in its history may very well be the answer she was looking for. In the tower, she was amazed to see the extent of the library of Fal Dara. The shelves in the room followed the curves of the wall all the way around, leaving space for only a window and the door they had just gone through. To keep out water and moisture from rain, the window had yellow stained glass. It let in a peaceful amount of light. The shelves went most of the way up the wall and were jammed with all sorts of scrolls and novels. In the center of the room sat a reading desk. A lantern hung from a decorative upside-down J peg bolted to the desk. Mir’iam smiled. She had no doubt she would be using it extensively over the next several days.
Noting her gaze, Gilbert smiled crookedly. “Our library boasts quite a bit. We have a little of everything. I keep it as organized as I can. I will help you locate the best areas of finding information that you need.”
“Thank you.” She turned to the servant girl. “My Warder will also need a room eventually, though I am certain he will prefer the soldier quarters for the first couple of days while he learns some of your soldiers customs. He would never admit it, but he’s a creature of study just as much as I.”
The girl smiled. “I will do that. If you have need of me, just ask anyone for me. My name is Vhalistia. I will bring your meal to you when it is ready.”
Mir’iam memorized the name and nodded. “Thank you.” She turned to the task at hand.
“I’ve found it!”
Tez grunted as the Fal Daran soldier who was half his size picked him up and flipped the Warder to the ground. At the Aes Sedai’s appearance, activity in the sparing ground stopped briefly. Many bowed in respect before returning to their training. Mir’iam only cast them half a glance, her excitement bubbled through her every pore. She had just spent the better part of five days pouring over the history of Fal Dara and its surrounding areas. Many of the older tombs in the library had been of poor quality, but she had struggled through them anyway. In the end it had been fruitful.
Tez looked up at her and smiled. He was drenched in sweat and she was fairly certain he was not quite so bruised when she had seen him last. He reached up and grabbed the hand of his opponent. The small man pulled him to his feet. “That’s fantastic,” Tez said. He looked up at the sun.
Mir’iam agreed with his unspoken thought, “It is getting late for today. Vhalistia is packing a travel bag for us. We will leave in the morning.”
The Warder nodded and ran a hand through his wet hair. “I have a few more lessons I can learn then,” he eyed his opponent. The soldier grinned and dropped into the attack stance.
Mir’iam walked to the edge of the training field. She allowed herself some time to watch the men, and jotted down notes of interest in her journal. She would dine with the lording fanukt this evening and express her gratitude. For most of the duration of their stay, Mir’iam had not seen the lord or his wife and had dealt mostly with Vhalistia and the historian. Once a day she had left the library to explore the city. It did not do a body well to spend all their time dedicated to books; one had to make time for exercise. And her time walking was not fruitless. She got first hand experience and knowledge of the people.
They set out at dawn. Mir’iam had spent the night before copying the map she had found in one of the old tombs. The road they took north did not go very far off before turning west toward Tarwin’s Gap. They left the road where it turned and continued to travel north through the Plains of Lances over the next three days. In the middle of the third, they made camp at the base of the Mountains of Dhoom.
Standing in the shadow of the mountains, Mir’iam stood with her journal open. High overhead, a raven cawed and circled them. The Aes Sedai frowned and tried to ignore the disruptive bird and to focus on the map she had sketched of the mountains. She was trying to find the landmarks the map had made evident, but her mind kept drifting to another time they had been accompanied by a raven. That had been more than odd then, having been on a ship in the middle of the ocean. Here, she supposed, ravens and birds of the feather were more likely to be the usual inhabitants.
Nonetheless, it gave her a feeling of uneasiness. She was relieved when it cawed a final time and flew off.
Tez worked quietly in the background, preparing their dinner. She could tell by the way his back muscles twitched now and then that the feathered beastie had not boded well for his memories either. She ran a reassuring hand over his shoulders. His tense muscles relaxed under her caress. He smiled up at her.
She returned the smile then turned back to the mountains and her sketches, once again able to work in peace of mind.
Mir’iam grinned as the pieces fell into place. They were a little too far east and would have to travel tomorrow, but the distance was not far. She considered breaking camp and moving closer to the pass they would travel, but she felt safer where they were- from where they were camped upon a knoll, they would be able to see if any one tried to approach. She knew that Tez liked the spot, and it would only take a few hours to get to the pass. And they would be refreshed for when they reached the pass.
Mir’iam felt excitement run through her. She was not sure what they would find when they went through the pass. Would they find a town, whole and secluded? Or would the inhabitants passed away into oblivion, the only signs of their passing a littering of broken pots and dwellings? She supposed both cases left quite a bit of information to glean. And it was their past as much as their present that interested her. How could a civilization survive without outside interference? What sort of mentality would that breed?
She turned away from her speculations. It was dangerous to speculate overly much- it marred expectations and opened the door for mistakes in a report- the mind sometimes had trouble remembering which thoughts were fanciful and which were fact. She’d seen it often enough in other historians.
She knelt beside her pack and replaced her journal with the Scrolls of Peterae Durrigan. She untied the leather thong and unrolled the paper. She had all but memorized the words on the page, and it was only curiosity that brought her back to it.
She must have lost track of time, because eventually she felt Tez’s hand on her shoulder. Dinner was ready and darkness had fallen. Mir’iam rolled the scroll and placed it back in her pack. She settled down next to her Warder facing the fire. They ate and then retired for the night.
With her head on her bedroll, Mir’iam smiled. Tomorrow was going to be a great day.
~The Great and Powerful Rae~
Re: Dara Gia: The Beginning
Ierae’s small fingers dug into the rock face slowly, moving one hand then one foot then another hand, then another foot. It was a pattern that had sustained her so far, and she was, as far as she could tell in the still dark world, three-forths of the way up the face. Every five runs of the pattern, she paused to catch her breath. It would be deadly to push herself to exhaustion. One wrong foot or hand placing could result in her tumble.
She closed her eyes and pressed her forehead against the cool stone. How on this world had incoming travelers passed this way? Had they been that lost and seen the smoke from the fires of Dara Gia and been so desperate for human kind that they had scaled down this wall?
Barely glancing over her shoulder, she could see only one fire now. Her stomach churned. Ierae kept from throwing up and forced her limbs into motion once again.
The sun was just beginning to brush away the shadows of night when she reached the opening. She pulled herself up with trembling arms and dropped to the cool surface. Her breath came out in gasps. There was a roar in her ears that was louder than that of the wind flowing quickly through the opening in which she lay. She was drenched in perspiration. She was only just barely aware of her limbs and the high vibrations that swept through them. She was not sure how she had managed the last hundred yards. Perhaps it had been the methodical motion of hand foot hand foot time after time.
Before leaving the river, she had drunk her fill, but now, shivering several hours later and several hundred yards higher, she was certain she had lost much of that liquid in the climb.
When the roar in her ears subsided, and she could hear things over the sound of her breathing, she heard the sound of water dripping. She wanted nothing more than to sleep, to curl up and forget this night had ever happened, but her tongue felt swollen, and stuck to the roof of her mouth. The sound of water was calling her. Ierae pried open her eyes and looked behind her, squinting as the sun momentarily blinded her. When her vision cleared, she could see back into the shade of the mouth. The water fell from the ceiling of the cave and reflected the ever-climbing sun, causing the drops to fall like little daggers into the small pool below.
Ierae licked her dry lips. Now that she saw the water, more than just saw it, her thirst tripled. Closing her eyes and listening to the close yet distant drops of water, she willed her body into motion. They resisted heavily. Now that they have come to a stall, they did not want to move her any further.
After a minute of wrestling with herself, Ierae gave up. She pressed her forehead to the still cool rock beneath her and breathed heavily for several minutes. As she lay there, the sound of the water dropping became crystal clear; it called to her. Even while her body resisted moving, it yearned for the cool refreshment its call offered.
Finally the sound became too much to bear, just lying listening to it. Fisting her hands, she forced her muscles to respond. After several minutes, she pushed herself to her knees. Step by step, she crawled her way to the hole.
Exhausted once more, she collapse before it. She cupped her hands and brought the soothing coolness to her lips. She groaned as the pleasant feeling tingled thought her body.
Soon her thirst was sated and weariness once again washed over her. Ierae lay her head down upon her forearm and slept.
In my passing, will any one know that I have been here?
Re: Dara Gia: The Beginning
His smile was a grim one as he watched the girl found her final ascending footholds. Drak’Dar had not expected her to fail in her climb, not by any means. Fear could propel an individual through the Wheel of Time itself if they were dedicated enough. Her fear that she had killed the boy she loved and would be set to trial and burned by those she also loved had been enough to propel her upwards and onwards and outwards.
But she was still human, and there was always within humans the possibility for failure.
In this case, he lived vicariously through her, and glorified in her success.
Of course, he suppose he could argue that he had made her to what she was this day and had a right to his feelings.
He watched her, watched her lay on the rock at the cusp of the valley. He watched her breathing and noted when she fell into sleep. He waited a moment more before gathering himself. He pulled his clothes around him and moved back, making his way around and down to where she lay.
He resisted the impulse to touch her. The Ravenkeeper had taken liberties before, but now that she had made her escape from the valley that had been her home for so long, it seemed somehow improper. By successfully making the climb, she had come into her own. In his eyes, she was more a woman now, than she had even several hours ago after having lay with Noahrae.
Drak’Dar paused to remember coming to the barn shortly after the duo had fallen to sleep. It had been an unnatural sleep that the Whispering Stone had, ironically enough, awaken in them. He had arrived, carrying a boy around Noahrae’s size and age. The boy was not from Dara Gia. He had been a former residents of one of the towns that lie a short distance from Dara Gia.
The Ravenkeeper had set the boy down and knelt by Ierae. A few words had been all that was necessary to awaken the powers within the girl. Her love was new, and thus the spark that set the barn on fire had not been a large one. Not nearly as strong as was her potential.
Looking down at Ierae now, he knew he would have to leave crumbs for her, to get her where she had to be going, as well as places where she would find food at ease. He did not want to completely leave her to the elements…
He was distracted by her young face by the caw of one of his ravens. He looked up sharply. What is it? he asked the dark bird. It transferred to him what it knew, what it had seen from its flight. Drak’Dar sucked in a breath. “That will not do at all.” He had expected the Aes Sedai from The Albatross to find Dara Gia eventually, but he had not expected her to be quite so quick in ferreting out the town’s location.
He pondered his options. They would have to be dispatched, for the time being. If he allowed them to continue on their path and allowed Ierae to continue on her path, the results could be disastrous.
He made his will be known to the raven. It cawed and flapped its wings, hauling itself skyward.
My eyes, my ears- take to the air on onyx wing.
Re: Dara Gia: The Beginning
The Aes Sedai had nearly been too excited to sleep and had spent much of the night tossing and turning. Finally, at one point it must have roused Tez enough that she felt his hand upon her shoulder. A peace descended upon her and she had fallen into oblivion.
The sun had risen when she had come back to the world of the living. Opening heavy lids, she had immediately cast after her Warder, a tongue lashing poised for a strike. She saw him down the knoll, sword in hand, shirt on ground, facing invisible adversaries. Seeing him going through the smooth motions, several she recognized from the acquired skills from his association with the soldiers in Shienar. She sat, pulling her knees to her chest and watched him go through his paces. She had to admit he was a beautiful specimen of male, and if she had had any deeper feelings for him, she would have acted upon it. As it was, she appreciated the art of his chiseled body, like a beautifully crafted weapon, and the skill at which he wielded himself.
She was familiar enough with him by now that she could tell when his morning ritual was drawing towards its conclusion. Mir’iam rose and began to clean up their campsite. She gathered loose dirt and tossed it over the remains of their fire. She was humming and gathering their bedrolls when she heard him come up behind her.
“Let me help you with that,” he offered after he had taken a drink from the wineskin. She relinquished the bedroll she was wrestling with and smiled at him. She turned to brush down Teej. Tez’s constant moving and assisting and his seeming inability to stand still had once annoyed Mir’iam. No, however, with time and understanding between them, she understood that they simply completed each other. He could not sit still and had an inbred desire to move and be useful. He could kill a man at a hundred yards with a dagger, or he could wrestle a man to his death hand to hand. She could read and interpret ten languages, three of which were dead or dying languages, and speak six. She could and often did, spend hours on end perfectly motionless other than the turning of the page and the moving of her eyes. Mir’iam was not defenseless, but she had never killed a man before. Tez had never read an entire volume before.
They balanced each other out.
Soon enough their camp was broken and their horses were making their way slowly down the knoll. The morning had started with a chill, frosted dew had clung to the edges of the plain grass. But as they traveled along the base of the mountain range, the temperature rose.
As they moved along the base of the mountains, Mir’iam kept her eyes open for signs of life other than themselves. Her sharp eyes picked out a few rodents, and a few prairie birds. But there was no sign of any creatures larger than a hawk gliding on the updrafts on the rock side. Mir’iam watched as it dipped and soared, chancing the cliff with skill.
Abruptly the red hawk foundered, stopping nearly dead in flight before shakily changing course. Its flight no longer appeared nonchalant, but desperate to escape a foe they from the ground could not yet see. She pulled Bandon to a halt. Tez brought Teej to a halt as well and followed her gaze. The hawk was flying in the opposite direction now, its wings pumping furiously. Even from a distance, there was a sense of foreboding.
Abruptly, from over the rock face the hawk had been flying towards, black-feathered birds appeared. They soared on an updraft until they were but specks in the blue sky above them. Mir’iam and Tez watched as the black birds flew overhead. They watched the birds as they flew towards the south. It appeared that the birds had their own destination on the horizon and would not bother them.
Mir’iam met Tez’s gaze and she realized that he shared the same fear. She smiled, happy that he remembered the incident on The Albatross and that she was not alone. And not alone in her fear.
“I do not think they should be back this way less to roost,” Tez assured her. She nodded and nudged Bandon forward.
The day wore on. Now and again Mir’iam cast her gaze to the sky. Every time she found the black birds. First to their south. Then to their east. Then to their north skirting the mountains passes. They were being circled, Mir’iam realized with a tinge of unease. Could they be watching us deliberately?
Surely not! That would indicate intelligence and craftiness that such a small-brained bird did not hold the capacity of. But as she watched, the birds swept past the mountains and they were joined by several more dark feathered kin. Mir’iam watched them for the next few hours, her unease steadily growing as their numbers grew every time their revolving flight brought them near the mountains.
Mir’iam found herself clutching her pack containing the scrolls to her chest and her horse nudged closer to Tez than was usually necessary.
By noon, when they stopped beside a mountain brook to rest the animals and eat some of their rations, they stowed their cloaks. Mir’iam set about building a small fire. The canopy overhead gave brought with it some relief- as the birds continued their circling, she could be oblivious to it.
Tez appeared far less troubled by the circling flying vermin. She watched him hobble the horses and doubted he had looked skyward once in the last few hours. But that was how he was. He could appear the most nonchalant person in a crowded, until the wrong person made the wrong move.
She smiled at that reassurance.
He removed his cloak and stripped down to his shirt and trousers. Sitting besides the chilled water, Mir’iam watched Tez. “What are you about?”
“Food,” the Warder waded into the water until it was to his waist. Mir’iam covered her mouth. She knew the stream came directly down from the mountains, so it was cold. Very cold. She imagined he must have been freezing, but he remained motionless for several minutes. Finally, a fish must have slipped between his cupped hands, because the next thing she knew, she was sitting next to a flopping red and yellow trout. She let out a small shrieking laugh and jumped out of the way of its flopping body. She caught it before it flopped back into the stream.
“Fantastic talent! Did you learn how to do that in Fal Dara?” Tez had already fallen still again, stalking the next trout, but his head bobbed once. She smiled and rested her cheek on her knee.
Mir’iam shrieked, her composure shattering as she dove away from the trout Tez had caught. The black bird took to the air with its pilfered meal. It took flight, heading up to the tree above her. It yelled as it was besieged by its fellows and a fight for the meal ensued. A dozen of the creatures fought for the single fish.
When it was over and the trout was consumed, silence fell upon the clearing. Mir’iam and Tez stared upwards. The birds stared down upon them. More birds were alighting from the air. The silence was eerie.
“Tez….” Mir’iam was not even sure what she was going to proposition. She heard the sound of water splashing and felt his warmth as he knelt beside her. “I’m not hungry any longer. I think we should leave this place.”
“I think you are right.” She felt his hand, cool beneath her arm, lifting her to her feet. “Grab our things,” he nudged her into motion even as he drew on his coat. “Come on. Do not look any more,” Mir’iam felt pierced by the empty black eyes and could not tear her gaze away, “Move.”
Her actions jerky, she gathered their things and clumsily tied them into their places while Tez took the hobble from the horses’ foreleg. They mounted. Tez gazed upward. Her eyes widened when he drew out his dagger. “What are you doing?” He barely took aim before loosing the weapon from his fingertips. It struck one of the ravens in the chest. The bird gave a hacking caw before tumbling from its lofty perch. Before the body hit the ground with a muffled thud, the other birds took to the air. Mir’iam covered her ears with both hands at the sudden din. ‘Cah!’ may have been what the creatures were really saying, but to her, it sounded more like ‘kill!’
Tez threw his knees against Teej and shot off. Mir’iam was quick to follow.
~The Great and Powerful Rae~
Re: Dara Gia: The Beginning
The red haired woman was young and nimble and could bend in ways that would impress any normal man. She had guts as well. For the moment they were still safely locked inside her stomach, but that could change at any time, he knew as he touched her intimately, knowingly. She had been following them for the past two weeks. From his experience, her line of work was hazardous. Following a group of men who were rough and ready to murder, rape and pillage was even more dangerous than whatever small hamlet she hailed from. Considering that eighty percent of that army were Trollocs, it was amazing that she had lasted so long that he had managed to get his hands on her.
He touched her nape and looked over her shoulder. The real object of his interest sat across the pavilion, one leg draped insolently over one arm of the chair. Disinterest littered her face as she used her knife to scrape beneath her nails. Not once has she shown any interest since the red head had been shown in. Not jealousy. Not anger. Not anything.
The woman who called herself Natalynn, who claimed that he had once killed her family. He did not dismiss the possibility. Truth be told, Lord Rhorixtaer did not recall the particular incident, but he had culled several memories that may have been her family. He did not think that the Lord Rhorixtaer that owned this body before he did would have been atrocious enough in his acquisition of power to have killed Natalynn’s family. Not only was the timeline wrong, but Lord Rhorixtaer had been a weakling. He had wanted power. He had asked for power, and he had gotten power.
The remains of that misguided lord that still resided in the body twisted with that. With the unfairness of the ruse that had been played against him. The current owner smiled inwardly. Life, he had learned the hard way, was hardly fair. That, and one should always be careful what they wish for, and who the proposition in the granting of that wish. He would make Lord Rhorixtaer very powerful. Very powerful indeed. But he was not about to share the glory with the former owner. It would be his own glory for which he would be rewarded both in this life and the next.
So it had to have been he who had killed the family. It was not the fact that he had slaughtered her family that intrigued him. It was her reaction to the life-changing incident. It should have shattered her. She should be dead. At the very most, she should be the woman in his arms- wonton, prisoner to the will of the man that currently demanded of her, and afraid. Oh yeah, the red haired woman in his arms was afraid. He doubted she even knew the stem of those fears. She would likely attribute them to a fear of being abandoned. Perhaps a fear of having no money, no food, and no one to take care of her. After that it might rank the fear of death. Or the fear that the man in possession of her would do her harm.
Lord Rhorixtaer had no doubt she would die with these questions left unanswered.
However Natalynn would die, however she lived, these, he felt, were not questions tempting her soul. What drove her could probe an interesting distraction in the interim while events drew into place.
“I am done.” As quickly as that, he disentangled himself from the red haired woman. He rose, nude and stalked across the room. Natalynn made no attempt to move from her position as he approached her. Forcefully, he removed her booted foot from his tabletop. “You. Have you no respect for the property of others?”
Natalynn looked up at him, meeting his gaze squarely. “I was simply contemplating what you valued more.”
Lord Rhorixtaer frowned. “Explain that.”
“I find it important to know your priorities. That woman. Your table. Myself. Now I know.” She replaced her foot upon the table.
Before he had a chance to explode, the redhead leapt across the room. “How dare you speak to the lord so! He is a great man! Hardly worthy of a woman so ugly as yourself. You dress as a man. It is no wonder my lord choose me over yourself.”
Lord Rhorixtaer raised a brow. Had he been wrong about all of this? He mused inwardly. Was Natalynn indeed jealous? And was the camp follower more in awe of him than in need of those primitive womanly needs?
Natalynn looked up at the mostly naked woman. “Do not make the mistake that he will always choose your flesh over what have to offer him. I can guarantee you it will be the last he chooses such.”
Rage flared in Lord Rhorixtaer. The red haired woman sputtered. In the next moment Natalynn moved, her knife flashing forward once. A disgusting smell filled the tent and the woman looked down, a dumbfound look on her face.
Lord Rhorixtaer caught her before she could fall and stain his carpet. “General Arybrden!” The tent flaps parted and the Myrddraal entered. It drew up short, it’s eyeless face observing the events within. Abruptly it left but returned moments later with one of its Trollocs. The half-boar half-man creature took the dying woman from Lord Rhorixtaer and carried it out. The tent flap had not closed before the beast bit into the woman’s neck. Other Trollocs came forward to join in the feast.
The tent flap closed but the sound of rendered flesh came through clearly.
Lord Rhorixtaer frowned down at Natalynn.
“My lord? Do you wish me to confiscate her as well?”
He did not doubt that the Myrddraal did not like the woman. She was arrogant. He had not yet found a use for her, but something told her she would be come down the road. If he disposed of her now, he would have to find someone else. He raised a hand to stop General Arybrden. “You were warned, were you not, of taking lives without my permission?”
“That,” she gestured vaguely to the door, “was not one of your men. I saw her parts as clearly as I see yours before me.”
Lord Rhorixtaer laughed. That was true. He would give her that. And it was not as if he had planned to let the woman leave and live much longer. And he was amused that she had taken it into her own hands. “You may leave,” he told his general. “I will punish her for her insolence.”
General Arybrden dipped his head then turned and made an abrupt exit.
He looked down at her. “What am I going to do with you?” he mused out loud.
When he was finished doling out her punishment, he doubted not that there would be bruises upon her body and red marks upon her back for several days. She lay panting upon his bed, belly down. He glared down at her, strap still in hand. She had not been silent during her punishment, and he had not been easy on her.
He eased forward and unfastened the leather strap from around her wrist. On the other side of the bed, he untied her other. “Get up,” he told her. She withdrew herself to the middle of the bed and sat looking at him. He scrutinized what he could find in her eyes but found no anger, no sorrow. “Get dressed.” She found her shirt near the edge of the bed and slipped it over her head. He would have told her to fetch her pants as well, but he received a small thrill at seeing the bruise forming on her calf just under the hem of the shirt.
While he had been punishing her, his mind had been going over events that had transpired over the last few days, trying to devise a way to put her to some use. He did not need an admirer simply lying around to boost his ego or vent his angers upon. And even if he did, he did not see Natalynn filling that role very well. Something told him she could be more to him, and more use to him, elsewhere, if she had spoken true and if she were his true servant.
Clasping his hands together, he leaned towards her. “Now that we have that settled and out of the way, I have a task for you…”
"With great power comes great responsibility to blow things up."
In war, you say a prayer for your dead and ride on, because there is always another fight over the next horizon. -Lan
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