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Lean back on your knife and let your tongue go free. -Altaran saying
Rash Plans and Delinquent Quests
Re: Rash Plans and Delinquent Quests
Doran stood frozen to his spot, eyes locked on the two men on the platform. He could feel the crowd surge around him, could feel their hate and the pleasure they took from knowing the condemned was a Whitecloak. They’d lost sight of the Popplehems as they were jostled on to the square by the Child who’d rounded them up and Doran had been grateful for that as it had become evident just who was destined for execusion.
Justen stood right next to him and as Watase started speaking Justen took a firm grip on Doran’s arm.
“Easy now lad. Easy.”
Doran didn’t respond. What did Justen think he would do? Attack Watase to save his father? The man deserved what was coming to him. He’d never done anything for Doran a part from causing him grief. Doran would gladly be the one pulling the lever. Lybell deserved death. Surely he did?
Watase’s hard voice carried across the square in such a volume Doran would have believed it enhanced by the One Power had he not known it was impossible. The man spoke of Darkfriends; how they could be found everywhere and how it was every man’s duty to unveil them and expel them from the company of decent men. Like the Children were doing now; a fine example of how friendship and companionship must never stand in your way when faced with the choice of disposing a Darkfriend or not. Let every man follow the example set by the Children of the Light and let every man know that no Darkfriend can hide from the blessed Children. Watase smiled and motioned toward the bruised form of Lybell. The reward for delivering a Darkfriend to the Children was always great, greater even than watching the offender hang to his death.
Doran stared at the man. Even now he was using Lybell for his own needs. This would ignite every lewd man’s desire to squeal on his neighbor for his own gain. It turned some of the crowd’s anger from the Whitecloaks, directing their frustration into suspicion of each other. It was masterfully done.
Watase finished with the crowd well in hand and they all roared as he asked them to fight for the Light with him. Doran still hadn’t taken his eyes of his father. Someone pulled a lever and the wooden floor disappeared under the feet of the Ghealdan ex-Whitecloak. Doran felt as if the world had stopped. Justen’s grip tightened on his arm.
Only when Lybell has stopped kicking – the fools had neglected, or ignored, tying his feet together – did Doran look away. His gaze did not move far; it settled on the face of the Lord Captain Commander. It was the first time Doran really saw the man they’d come to kill and he made sure each feature would stick in his memory for ever.
“We’ll kill him Doran,” Justen said under his breath, “but not now, not today. Come on, we need to move.”
The Asha’man had noticed what Doran had not; that the crowd had begun to move around them, filing out of the square while still talking animated of what they had seen. They might loath the Whitecloaks and what they had done to their city but clearly they were impressed that the Lord Captain Commander had addressed them in person and enrolled them in the never ending fight against the Shadow. Justen and Doran stood out like Siswai in the Novice Quarters the way they lingered.
Doran spat. “I’m fine Justen,” he said, avoiding the Asha’mans eye. “Really. Let’s go.”
Justen eyed him doubtfully but wisely said nothing as he took the lead through the crowd, Doran’s arm still in a tight grip. The blonde Asha’man led them back to Jerniko’s house by a long route across half the city and Doran followed, once again letting Justen take control of his motions.
Halfway there the significance of what they’d witnessed hit him and as the adrenaline left his body the exhaustion of the Healing returned, making Doran stagger. He tore free of Justen’s grip with a jolt and set off down an alley, ignoring the angry cries of the Asha’man as he left the man behind. Justen swore and came after him. Doran stopped just inside the alley and Justen seemed ready to jump on him if necessary. It wasn’t; Doran had no intention of running or doing anything rash. Instead he folded over and emptied his stomach while visibly fighting the urge to vent his emotions. He wiped at his eyes and then gagged again. Justen waited patiently.
“What do you say Doran, should we leave this hellhole of a city behind?” the Asha’man said finally as Doran wiped his mouth on his sleeve, tactfully ignoring the Siswai’s distress.
“Let’s.” Doran said, a dead look in his eyes.
“I’m not getting in to that!” Doran said, a note of panic in his voice.
“I believe you wanted to leave as soon as possible?” Justen said with a shrug. “The only alternative I see is to stay inside Jerniko’s house for a few weeks until things have settled and we might be able to sneak through the gates.”
“Ay, and I don’t think that will work any miracles for my marriage,” Jerniko said with a grin, “If you catch my meaning.”
“Nor mine,” Justen added.
Doran just glared at the two men. They were in the undertaker’s workroom; Justen was seated on the coffin he’d chosen as his own and Jerniko lounged by the door to make sure they had no unwanted visitors wandering in. They were clearly amused by the whole situation.
“I could knock you out again I suppose,” Justen said with a grin, “but that would be a waste of the good Healing I gave you. And you’d still be in the coffin when you wake up, only bruised.”
Doran sighed. It really was a good plan, much better than any he could have come up with. It was just… the coffin was so small. He’d never had a problem with small spaces before but the mere thought of clambering in to that small box and listen as Jerniko nailed it shut from the outside… It made his stomach roll, despite the wholesome lunch provided by a grumbling Mistress Popplehem upon their return from the square.
“Here lad,” Jerniko said, holding out a pocket-flask, “this will help, and it’s a bloody nicer remedy than our good Justen’s suggestion.”
Doran looked from one to the other and then shrugged as he took the flask from Jerniko’s hand.
“Good choice lad.”
Doran downed the entire flask and then succumbed to a fit of coughing as he handed it back. It was the strongest brandy he had ever tasted, though the quality of it was rather questionable, and never had he had so much in one row. This might turn out much like their last night at the Lucky Arrow, apart of course from the fact that he had to lie in a coffin for Light knew how long. Jerniko winked and pocketed the thing again.
“Justen thought you might need a small pick-me-up,” he said with a grin.
Doran couldn’t help grinning back. He could feel the alcohol running through his blood, warming him. The two older men exchanged a look and Doran realized suddenly how worried they’d been for him these last few hours. He couldn’t blame them; he hadn’t said a word since the execution and that was quite out of character for him. Justen had kept up a forced conversation during lunch and then later while Jerniko took them across the yard to his workroom, trying to cover for Doran’s obvious reaction to what they’d witnessed. There was no reason the Popplehems should know of Doran’s connection to the hanged Darkfriend. Jerniko was no fool though; he knew something was seriously wrong with the lad.
Only the prospect of taking the place of a corpse had wakened the Siswai from his stupor. He eyed the coffin doubtfully and then took a deep breath, as if steeling himself.
“Al right,” he said as he climbed in to the coffin and lay down. “Feeling like crap is still better than being dead, wasn’t it so Justen?”
“That’s right Doran,” Justen said with a hearty grin as he help Jerniko pull the lid in place. “Just remember, you’re dead now. Don’t make a sound, don’t move, and don’t let that brandy get to your head. I know you can’t hold much.”
“Hey!” Doran replied, but Justen just grinned and hastily put the lid in its place before he had a chance to protest.
Everything went dark. Doran gulped. The coffin really was small. As Jerniko started nailing it shut Doran had to fight not to push the lid open by force and run. In only seconds he’d be shut inside with no other choice but to endure the darkness and trust Jerniko to get them safely out of Roelford. Bile rose in his throat. “Don’t let it get to your head,” he told himself firmly. He shut his eyes, thinking he would pretend to sleep the whole trip, but images of his father – legs flailing as his face turned black – came to him, making him sit up with a gasp that soon ended in a yelp of pain as his forehead hit the lid.
“Burn me,” he whispered fiercely and then gave the lid a kick out of frustration. There would be no escaping his own mind in this box.
“Oi,” he heard Jerniko’s voice as if far away, “be still now lad. This is not the time to dance the jig.”
As Doran’s eyes grew accustomed to the darkness he could see tiny specks of light from where Jerniko had drilled small air holes. He clenched his jaws and put all his focus on the rays of light, not even noticing when Jerniko stopped hammering on his lid and went on to work on Justen’s.
This day might possible turn out to be the longest and most dreadful day of his life.
Re: Rash Plans and Delinquent Quests
Jerniko stopped short of burying them in the cemetery outside of Roelford. The gravedigger and his assistant carried the two caskets into the mausoleum. Justen’s casket was first, and they did not set him down easily. He was a dead body, after all. There was not enough room in his casket to reach up and tender his skull so he simply had to wait with his blood pounding in his ears.
There was a second crunch and he held his breath. Doran’s casket had not fallen to the ground with a lighter touch. He hoped the Siswai kept his wits about him and did not spring prematurely from their confines. It was very unlikely that the assistant would be pleased to know he had helped two wanted men escape the town.
He let out a soft breath of relief when the heavy door to the mausoleums swung closed. most of the way closed, Jerniko had explained earlier, otherwise they would have been locked in the building.
Only one side of the coffin was securely fastened as well, the gravedigger explained his plan, and the other side was fastened by shorter nails that would give with a few stout punches.
Well, it took a few more than a couple of stout punches, but Justen found the lid to the casket on the floor a few feet away a few minutes later, after he had counted to one hundred three times to give the pair time to leave. He sat up in his escape pod breathing the cool and musty air. It smelled of death as well, and this caused him to shiver and shake as he considered how close they had been to meeting their fate.
He rose and moved to the other casket. Doran had not attempted to release himself from his casket. Justen drew his dagger and wiggled it between the gap in the lid and pried it off.
The lid fell aside and Doran stared up at him, his arms folded in a very decent imitation of a dead fellow. He was as pale as a corpse as well. “Very good Doran,” he smiled down at the man, “But the ruse if over, you can stop.”
That did not seem to help and he reached down and pulled the Siswai out. The younger man stood, and would have fallen if Justen had not caught him. The Asha’man swore beneath his breath. He had forgotten the light sedative they had given the lad to help him with his transition to a corpse. It would not have boded well for them if he had begun screaming and yelling his fear of tight spaces as they had been carted through the streets of Roelford.
Carrying him draped largely over one shoulder, Justen shuffled for the door. The door was open and he propped the younger man against the wall as he worked the door open. It was as heavy as it had sounded while he had been contained in the coffin. He opened it just far enough that he could peer out. They were alone with the small army of dead people buried around them and hidden in this mausoleum.
“Come Doran, lets strike out for home,” he grunted as he shouldered the young man’s weight again. He had no idea the lay out of this area, and it would be less than good if they were found, but he did not want to loiter on the grounds and wait for the drug to wear off.
Roelford was an old town and they had plenty of space in their cemetery for future arrivals. Justen eyed the end of the cemetery that had not been used yet. It was large enough and open enough for his purpose.
Setting Doran down, leaning his back against a gray pillar of a tombstone, Justen set to work. He was more than ready to leave Roelford behind. This had been a fools mission. He was surprised they were both not dead. He was disappointed that Yu Watase wasn’t.
He was not sure if he would try again.
The gateway opened and he turned and picked up the lethargic young man. The smell of salt came through and he stepped through the vortex into the back room of the Trizidad Shipping Company’s office in Tanchico. He was very familiar with the place since he had a large hand in choosing the building and getting the office up and running for his parents and Nivenh’Mia.
The rich woods and painted walls were a relief and after he set the Siswai on the floor, he found himself slumping against the wall. His relief was cut short as footsteps echoed on the hardwood floor. He looked up as Tanzias entered the back room. The portly man had an honest face and a scruffy beard on his chin. He was honest as he was good with numbers and business and Justen was lucky to have found the man.
He did not look surprised to see them. Tanzias nodded once and disappeared through the door. He came back a few seconds later carrying a bundle of clothing, "Lady Kaladron asked me to give this to you, should you stop by," he gives them their clothes.
Justen took the bundle and almost laughed out loud. Some times Nivenh’Mia knew him better than he knew himself. He thanked the man and picked up Doran once again and moved them all to a back room with a cot. He laid Doran out and sat in a nearby chair, steepling his fingers beneath his chin as he considered the future.
Evening started to fall and Doran’s snores filled the small room. Tanzias brought him a meal and he ate. He was just beginning to consider turning in himself when there was a knock at the door.
The door opened and Jeroff’s dark head poked in. Seeing his brother, he smiled and Justen rose to embrace him. They exchanged a few pleasantries. They looked at the Siswai as the young man finally began to stir. Justen produced the rest of the plate for the lad and left him to eat while the brothers caught up on things in the other room. Justen was careful to dance around the issue of what he was doing there, side tracking him with thoughts of Makienne.
Finally the door opened and Doran, still a little pale, peered out and Justen nodded. It was time to go home. They could stay here overnight, but he really did not want to. He looked to his brother and put in a request.
The brown haired Trizidad looked at him oddly, "That is an odd request, brother, but you were always the odd one. Is everything alright? Also, what the deuce have you done to your hair?"
"My vanity never lay in my hair. I do not know why everyone is so surprised about it," Justen sighed.
Jeroff left it at that and they moved into the back yard. He opened the portal once again, this time to a spot near Tar Valon and the pair stepped through. Once they were through, as it swirled closed, Justen unmasked the bond. He was prepared for the backlash of emotions he felt through the bond and winced as his wife came out to meet them.
Re: Rash Plans and Delinquent Quests
Awareness came slowly, like he was fighting his way through a mist and through his dreams. He’d been dead, he remembered that, dead and buried. Or maybe not buried, but as good as; he’d been in a casket, cold and lonely and at one time he’d been placed upside down, his head aching from the blood pressure. A strange dream. How could he be dead and still gain a head ache from the blood pounding in your ears? It made no sense. His thoughts made him twist and turn before he eventually came fully awake.
Then it all came back to him and he sat up with a jolt only to realize he had no idea where in the Light he was. His surroundings were unfamiliar and he had no idea how he got there. Again. He’d lost count of how many times that had happened since he joined forces with Justen Trizidad.
Well, at least he was not in a coffin. Which was strange. He knew for a fact that it had been more than a bad dream. Doran sat up on the colt where someone had laid him and looked around. The room held boxes and chests as well as a desk and a bookshelf on one wall; it looked like a nice storing room with a cleaned wooden floor and a warm color of the walls. Two doors, one open and one closed led out of the room. His Tower uniform lay on a heap on the floor and next to it stood what looked like a nice meal. His stomach grumbled at the sight of it. The fact that someone had already eaten half of it didn’t bother him. Food is always food and he’d seen far worse.
There was no sign of Justen but that didn’t worry him overly; if something had gone wrong Doran would not have woken up well-rested in a bed. The only thing that seemed wrong with him was a lingering foul taste in his mouth and strange lightheadedness. Doran frowned and then drew his hands through his hair. No, no sign of any injuries to his head that could explain it. He found that the last day’s (he reckoned, not knowing where or when he was) experiences had left him strangely void of emotions. He simply did not care what had brought him to this state.
He spat on the floor but could not get rid of the strange taste.
“Are you alright?” came a soft female voice from the door. Doran turned with a start, an embarrassed look on his face while he awkwardly tried to cover the spit with his foot. A girl stood in the doorway. She was dressed in simple green cotton, her long brown hair in a neat braid over her left shoulder and a stack of papers in her arms.
“What? Oh yes.” Doran rose, intending to bow impressively, but instead he felt dizzy and eventually he staggered and all but fell back on to the cot. What kind of flaming brandy was that?!
“I don’t think you’re alright,” the girl said concernedly. “Who are you? What are you doing here anyway?”
Doran looked at his surroundings. That was an excellent question. What was he doing here? The last thing he remembered was being shut inside the coffin, trying to ignore the rising panic as someone lifted him off the floor and started carrying him… He swallowed. Even thinking about it made beads of sweat form on his forehead. He drew his hands through his hair again and then looked at the girl apologetically.
“This might seem strange but before I can answer that would you mind telling me where I am?” he said with a grimace.
The girl frowned and took a second more scrutinizing look at him. “You’re in the back room office of the Trizidad Shipping Company, and if you don’t tell me who you are and why you’re here I’m going to call for the guards.”
Trizidad office? That meant Justen must have gotten them out through a gateway. Good man.
Justen! The Brandy! He spat again, ignoring the disapproving look on the girl’s face. The foul taste finally made sense. “Blood and ashes Justen, you really are making it hard to like you sometimes,” Doran muttered under his breath.
“Excuse me?” the girl said wide-eyed. Doran realized suddenly she had lovely brown eyes. In fact, the whole girl was pretty. Very pretty.
“I haven’t seen anything as pretty as you for weeks do you know that?” he said absentmindedly.
Doran colored and shook his head. Light, he must still be groggy from whatever Justen had slipped him. “I am sorry, I’m not quite myself. I mean to say, you are pretty, I just didn’t intend to say it like…” He fell silent. The girl looked at him quizzically. Doran cleared his throat. “Eh.. My name is Doran, I’m here with Justen Trizidad. You don’t happen to know where he is?”
“Oh, master Trizidad is in the office with master Trizidad, not to be disturbed.”
“I’m sorry, that was a bit much for my head right now. Justen is with his brother in the office? That way?” He pointed towards the closed door.
“Yes but they are not to be disturbed,” the girl said patiently. It seemed like she’d decided he was an imbecile. Doran didn’t blame her.
“Oh, right. You know if he didn’t want me to disturb him he could have just told me. No need to drug me,” Doran muttered.
“I’m sorry Doran, you’re really not making any sense. Who drugged you? Are you sure you’re alright?”
He smiled at the girl, hoping it would improve her impression of him. “Yes, thank you. I’ll just wait here for Justen, maybe eat some of that,” he said with a gesture to the food on the floor.
“Of course,” she smiled back, displaying a set of dimples that made Doran’s heart beat faster. “Well, I’ll leave you to it. I need to get back to work. It was nice meeting you Doran.”
“You too… wait, I don’t know your name!”
“Aylin. I’m Tanzias’ daughter.” With that Aylin turned and left, leaving a gaping Doran behind.
“Right.“ Who in the Light is Tanzias?
That was a question for later. Meeting with Aylin had temporarily roused his interest, but as she left Doran found himself quite lethargic again. He changed, noting how strange it felt to wear the Tower uniform again, and then ate while trying not to think of what had happened in Roelford. When he was done he lay down. Resting left far too much time for thinking though and before long he got up and started pacing the small room. Walking felt unsteady at first but eventually the last traces of the drug wore off. If only he’d met Aylin a bit later.
Eventually he grew bored and went to knock on the door, hoping the company of the Trizidad brothers could cheer him up. From what Justen had told Jeroff sounded like someone able to do that. The brother’s were deep in discussion though and once he’d made Justen aware of the fact that he was awake and idle Doran left them alone again.
It didn’t take long before the brothers excited and once they’d said their goodbyes (in Doran and Jeroff’s case only a minute after their hellos) Justen wove a Gateway back to Tar Valon. There was no sight of Aylin no matter how much Doran strained to see her in the outer office and in the end Justen waved impatiently for him to go through the Gateway, mumbling about how he’d thought Doran was in a hurry to get back home. There was a growing tension to the man, in all likelihood from using Saidin.
They made it inside the city walls and all the way to the Tower grounds and then Justen came to a stop, a look of resignation on his face. Doran was about to ask him what was wrong when he spotted a familiar figure striding towards them. The grounds were almost empty for the night, it seemed half the evening had passed during their stay in Tanchico, but the few Tower residents who were abroad hastened to make way for the small, very pregnant woman who came to meet them. The reason for Justen’s growing tension was evident. Mir’iam Sedai looked angry, even through her Aes Sedai serenity.
Doran grimaced and gave Justen a questioning look.
"Now is the time to acquire amnesia, my friend." Justen said with a wink and went to meet his wife. Doran stayed one step behind even as they came to stand in front of the small Brown.
Doran’s bow was altogether ignored by his two superiors. Justen looked like he had to restrain himself from reaching out for his wife, who was clearly not interested in any displays of affection.
"What happened to your hair?” Mir’iam Sedai said at last with the tone of someone who is trying to stay calm despite everything. “Where were you? I told you not to block me like that. What happened to your hair?”
Justen rubbed the short locks with a grimace but said nothing. Doran wondered if feigning amnesia alone would do or if they should just stay mute until Mir’iam had calmed down.
"You will tell me, Justen Trizidad. Why does the Siswai look like he's walked to the Mountain of Doom and back?”
Doran winced as the conversation was turned in his direction. He decided to stay quiet for as long as possible.
"Because he is a lad?"
Mir’iam eyed her husband. "Come, Doran. You and I are going to talk." Without another word for her husband the Aes Sedai turned on her heel and made her way back to the Tower.
Doran gave Justen a long look, a mixture of pleading and desperation. Justen, his eyebrows nearly to his hairline, shrugged as if trying to say that there is nothing to do but follow orders when his wife was in that mood.
"I have been married to her this long and even I am not immune to her womanly powers. You had best follow. Steel yourself."
Re: Rash Plans and Delinquent Quests
“I am sure he is fine,” Justine Asher Sedai reassured her fellow Brown, not for the first time.
Mir’iam a’Del Nor nodded absently as she stared at the open page before her. The words on the page were blurred, their meaning nonsensical. She could not recall what book it was. She had picked it up several hours ago. She ran her hand wearily over her face and sighed. The Aes Sedai’s words were no more a relief now than they were the last time Justine Asher had been uttered.
Her fingers toyed with the necklace around her neck, the last gift Justen had given her before he and Doran had taken themselves off on this quest for the ter’angreal.
At least she hoped they were out after the purpose she had sent them on. Almost as soon as they had left Tar Valon, Justen had masked the bond. Mir’iam felt sick at heart. She hated, hated
when he did that. There had only been a few instances when any emotion or vague direction had bled through, and what had come had not been reassuring.Fear. Desperation. Pain.
Justine Asher’s hand fell on her own and Mir’iam looked up. She cleared her throat. She appreciated the younger woman’s company, and her warm words. “Thank you.” The other woman pressed a still-warm cup of tea into Mir’iam’s hand. She took it and drank, holding back a wince of distaste. She did not care for teas, she would much rather have a glass of Greghberry wine instead, but she did not want to insult the other woman’s kind act.
Nothing had trickled through the bond for several hours. Mir’iam did not know what was more disconcerting, that her husband was able to completely block her during that time, or that no more of the frightened, pained feelings bled through.
Justine Asher Sedai rose and moved from the side table, her hobbling gait no more than a series of starts and stops, the end result of horrific torture at the hands of the White Cloaks on the orders of Yu Watase. Mir’iam felt guilty for the girl’s wounds, because it was on her insistence that the Brown remove herself from the Library and get some real life experience.
She supposed the young Brown had gotten more life experience than she had bargained for, and for that she was sorry.
Mir’iam supposed she would feel regret for a good number of years to come, but right now, her own fears and worries over powered her feelings of guilt. One of the few reassurances she felt was that the bond was not broken. What would it feel like if the bond broke, if her bondmate died?
Her heart did a nervous flip in her chest. She had heard the stories before, she had seen with her own eyes the devastating affect of a broken bond. If she could, she would stalwart her mind against such a breaking… But even if she somehow managed to keep her mind from breaking, certainly her heart would crumble at the death of her beloved husband.
Yes, for all his faults, for all his thoughtless less incidences and actions, he was one of the most well-meaning people she had ever known. She’d loved him too long and too deeply for too long. How would she ever get over the love? How would she ever love another? Bond another?
No, if Justen ever died, she would certainly die a short while after, and it would not take the nearest dagger to do so.
She took in a shuddering breath and thrust such thoughts from her mind. He was not dead, and Light willing, it would be a very long time indeed before either one of them found their final breaths flow from between their lips.
She was not sure how long Justine Asher remained with her, keeping her company in silence. In truth, there was nothing to say, nothing that could be said that would place any substantial relief upon Mir’iam’s shoulders. Eventually she left, some time before dusk when there was a soft knock upon the door and Thason Ghayln’s head peered in through the door.
Justine Asher’s eyes lit up at the sight of her bondmate and Mir’iam let the woman go with a soft squeeze of the other’s hand. When the door closed, Mir’iam went back to staring at the page without seeing. When was the last time she had turned the page? With a rising and falling of her shoulders, she obligingly turned the page and stared equally unseeing at the jumble of lines of letters.
Darkness was but a stones throw away when the veil was suddenly pulled. Mir’iam gasped as the bond flared to life. Her gaze snapped up to the window. Direction.
“They’re here,” she breathed.
A flurry of emotions hit her, most of them contradicting. Anger. Worry. Wrath. Hope. Relief.
The book fell from her numb fingers as she leapt to her feet. The door to the room did not even shut fully behind her as she took off at a run. She ignored the startled looks from Accepted and Tower Guard as she barreled down the hall.
She slowed her fevered pace as she neared the courtyard. He was near. She stopped and stared across in the direction she could sense him in. Her hands clenched and unclenched in the folds of her dress. Her hand shot up as the wind knocked errant locks of her white hair across her face. She wanted nothing to obscure her first initial view of that blond haired infuriating man she so loved.
When he appeared, she drew in a breath. It was far more ragged than she intended. Her blue eyes widened in shock as she finished assessing him from a distance and her gaze finally fell on his hair.
His hair…. Justen’s blond hair, for as long as she had known it, had always remained in the same style- shoulder length and more often than not pulled back into a ponytail. But now, astonishingly, amazingly and…even alarmingly, his hair was shorn. She blinked. Never before had he resembled quite so much his darker haired brother, Jeroff.
His green eyes met hers across the courtyard and his forward procession stopped. He half turned to the person flanking him, and her gaze flicked to Doran… and she found herself even more alarmed. The lad looked as if he were in a sure need of a Yellow. What in the name of the Light had Justen done to the lad?
A few brief words were passed between the pair before they started forward again. Mir’iam straightened her back and composed herself, forcing as many emotions as she could from the surface and her features.
Still, when she first spoke, she could tell she was very close to losing it. "What happened to your hair?” she shivered and felt her limbs begin to shake. She swallowed and gripped herself more stubbornly. “Where were you? I told you not to block me like that. What happened to your hair?”
Her husband ran his hand through his hair and looked uncomfortable.
Her hands clenched into fists, her short nails were in danger of breaking the skin. "You will tell me, Justen Trizidad. Why does the Siswai look like he's walked to the Mountain of Doom and back?”
Her husband blinked back at her in an almost owlish fashion before looking at Doran. His head jerked as if it was the first time he had seen the Siswai. Finally he answered, "Because he is a lad?"
Mir’iam eyed her husband. He could be so enraging. Luckily she did not have to count on his idiotic answers alone to get to the bottom of this. Her cool gaze fell on the Siswai, "Come, Doran. You and I are going to talk."
~The Great and Powerful Rae~
Re: Rash Plans and Delinquent Quests
All of a sudden facing the gallows at the hand of the Children didn’t seem like such a bad thing compared to being interrogated by Mir’iam Sedai. While he doubted a private conversation with the Brown would mean a risk of permanent injury the way his encounter with the Whitecloaks had done he was in no way looking forward to it. Back in the Tower he was nothing more than a siswai again and had little choice in the matter. Mir’iam Sedai knew this and so she showed sign of being worried he would run off as she strode purposefully three yards ahead of him. Purposefully but not very fast; the pregnancy made sure of that. In truth, Doran was grateful. Once back in the Tower the exhaustion of the last few days had overwhelmed him. He longed to be back in his bed in the siswai barrack where he could drift off and not think, not do anything, maybe not move ever again.
Mir’iam didn’t take him to the Brown Quarters as he had thought she would. Instead she made her way over to the library, unchartered territory for Doran, and in to a small room that seemed to be a place for private study or discussions. At her nod he closed the door behind them and then sat down in the plush chair she indicated. He was utterly uncomfortable, despite the fine furnishings and the red satin pillow behind his back.
He’d expected her to assail him with questions as soon as she got the chance but the small Aes Sedai just sat opposite him, resting her searching gaze on his face. A fast look told him Mir’iam Sedai looked almost as worn as he felt and only then did he realize what discomfort she must have experienced when he and Justen left her quest behind. Justen had convinced him that killing Watase would have been worth any such discomfort in the end. Only, they didn’t kill Watase. It had all been for nothing.
His mind was in turmoil of all the contradictive thoughts. Part of him wanted to tell Mir’iam everything, to make up for whatever pain they’d caused her. Part of him wanted to protect Justen. He owed the man that and much more. In the end he rested his gaze on his hands, not trusting himself to say anything, while waiting for the Aes Sedai to say something, do something.
It was a long and awkward silence.
"I see my husband has managed to turn you in to a younger and more stubborn version of himself Doran.” Mir’iam said at last. “You are not in trouble, at least not yet. I do expect your cooperation. I expect, in the end, with or without your cooperation I will find out where you went and what the two of you did. Trizidads are stubborn creatures. And leaders too, men fall in step with their cocky arrogance." Her blue eyes narrowed, "What sort of woman do you think that breed of man falls for? I am his helpmeet, as stubborn as my husband in every way. I love my husband and I know he loves me. You should not remain mum simply to keep him from trouble.”
Somehow Doran doubted he would ever be in the position to keep Justen out of trouble. The man had proved to be most formidable and if Doran somehow managed to get through his training alive he hoped to be as good a Warder as Justen. If leaving your pregnant wife to go after the Lord Captain Commander can be considered being a good Warder.
Mir'iam waited for his answer and he sat, feeling observed under her gaze. She truly was a match for Justen. If what Justen told him about Watase was true, then this woman had a right to know.
"We went after Yu Watase," Doran said quietly at last.
The white haired woman across from him straightened at the name. Her eyes softened considerably. "I see. Is he...."
Doran shook his head. "We went after him but we didn't get him. We failed."
The Brown Sister looked at him long then, as if trying to read what had happened to them from his looks alone. She succeeded too. "You were captured?" Doran nodded. "How did you get out of it?"
People said Aes Sedai could read minds and maybe they weren’t far off. She’d managed to get straight to the bottom of it in only moments. Doran drew his hand through his dirty hair and rubbed his neck before he finally answered, speaking to his knees. "My father. Turns out he'd joined the Whitecloaks. He set me free.” He looked up and locked eyes with Mir’iam. “They killed him for it."
"I'm sorry," Mir'iam said softly, some of the anger in her eyes exchanged for something else. Sympathy perhaps, or sorrow.
"Thank you, but he was dead to me since many years ago. Now he's just... I don't know.” Doran fell silent. Mir’iam waited patiently. “He saved me in the end."
"Redemption is good. We can all only hope to be redeemed in the end for all of our many trespasses..."
Doran nodded, overwhelmed but unwilling to show it to the Brown Sister. Silence stretched between them for several seconds.
"The Tower cannot hear about any of this, you realize, if the Children do not know that the attack was set up by an Asha'man. That is the case and they do not, I hope?"
"Your husband was careful that way,” Doran said, thankful for the changed topic. “Unless my father talked they don't know either of us. And Lybell never knew I went to the Tower."
"I would dread the unknown of that if I thought it would do any good. I suppose we will hear soon enough if he did. The relationship between the factions is tedious at best. The three of us will need to get our story straight and stick to it like the sap upon a pine tree. We will make it simple, those are the easiest to keep track of and much harder for our words to slip out and betray us.”
Doran nodded silently.
“You did nothing foolish such as infiltrating a town swarming with Whitecloaks in an attempt to assassinate the Lord Captain Commander; you were far south, attempting to obtain an artifact on my behest. We will insert a bit of truth- you were set upon and surprised by a band of Children. They will deny it vehemently, but they would anyway if it had really happened and secretly only be arguing because their ghost band had not succeeded. That is a fine tale right there. Do you think you can remember it?"
Doran nodded dully. He doubted anyone would care where he had been and why he looked worse for the wear, but he trusted the Aes Sedai's instincts. "We were searching for an artifact for you in the south when we were attacked by a band of Children. I will remember."
“Good.” Mir’iam Sedai said shortly. It was obvious her anger had far from subsided yet. Doran suspected she kept it in until she was able to unleash it on Justen. In the end he’d done nothing to shield the man from it. Perhaps because he believed they both deserved Mir’iam’s anger.
There didn't seem to be anything more to be said at the moment so Doran got up and turned to leave.
At the door he bowed. "I'm sorry we failed Mir'iam Sedai. Yu Watase deserves to die. For what he's done to you and Justen and for causing my father's death."
"If my dear husband continues on this rash and reckless course of revenge, I am more than certain Watase will succeed at destroying what he did not in Do'Saidae,” she answered with a tired voice. “Send my husband in here, as you leave. He ought to be loitering outside the door, protecting against any eaves droppers."
Doran excited the room with another bow for the Sister to find Justen leaning casually against the wall on the opposite side of the door. Doran made sure he shut it tight before he looked at the man, intending to give Justen a heads up before sending the man in to the room.
"So now you've survived both Whitecloaks and my wife. You're shaping up fine for a Siswai." Justen winked.
Doran grinned but his heart was not in it. "I've got luck and my good charms to thank for that," he said, the joke belied by his tone. "Mir'iam Sedai wants to see you. She knows."
"I figured. I have been sharpening my own charms while in wait," Justen said and squared his shoulders as if going into battle.
"Good luck," Doran said with a grin before he grew serious again, "and thank you."
Re: Rash Plans and Delinquent Quests
He could not express in words the relief he felt to be home, leaning against the outer doorjamb of his wife’s office, waiting for her to finish interrogating the siswai so she might unleash her anger upon him. Even that held a bit of welcomed normalcy.
Thanks to the strong weave of spirit and air his wife had put over the door some time ago, he was unable to hear anything that was said within the room. It wasn’t really necessary, he knew his wife well enough that he knew almost exactly what she would say.
The door swung inward on well-oiled hinges and he straightened. It was hard to tell, but he thought perhaps Doran looked even paler than before. He clapped him on the back encouragingly. It was not an easy thing facing down a wrath-filled Aes Sedai. "You did well," he murmured, "through all of it," before entering. He was not sure if his words had any affect on the young Siswai, they certainly seemed to fall short of their intended usefulness.
With a sigh, he threw himself down on the plush seat Doran had just vacated. It was still warm. He gave his wife his most Trizidorian smile. "So what sort of penance must I pay to return to your good side, wife?"
Mir'iam's gaze and mind returned from somewhere far off.
Justen sighed quietly and arranged his hands in the most casual position possible, while at the same time strategically placed to ward his more sensitive parts.
She remained in her seat for as long as it took for the door to click shut. Then she launched herself at him. He did not try to protect himself from the much-deserved blows. He had thoughts of worry on the babe, but he did not want to cause her fear or increase the length of her wrath. "I am almost too angry for words!" she grit out between clenched teeth.
"Enough, lady love!" Gingerly he wrapped his arms around her, waiting for her fists to subside.
Finally, sobbing quietly, she curled against him. He reached out and pulled her firmly into his lap, tucking her head against his shoulder. She lay against his chest, sniffling, for several minutes. Justen simply held her, enjoying the warmth of her body and the gradual slowing of her rapid heartbeat.
Her crying like this was worse than any tongue lashing or berating the Aes Sedai could have wrapped her mind around. He rubbed the top of her head with his chin gently.
"You need to cease this foolish quest for revenge," her voice was thick and hollow from sobbing. She wiped her nose on his shirt before pushing herself to her feet. Composed, she sunk back into the chair opposite. His wife wiped the tearstains on her face with her sleeve.
Justen covered his loss of the beloved body in his lap with a lazy stretch, clasped his hands behind his head and stretched his frame out. What he wanted was to apologize on the floor at her feet, to grovel and beg her forgiveness. To swear he would never do something so foolish again- ever.
But that was not the Trizidad way.
He worked his jaw and steeled himself for what he knew, logically, was coming next.
"I am more than serious this time," she told him, a bit of desperation creeping into her voice. "This was a dangerous wager you made this time. What if you had gotten caught?"
"But I did not."
"What if you had gotten killed?"
"But I did not!" his jaw twitched as he remembered the key he still had on his person. His gaze flicked to her neck where the other half of the ter’angreal still lay.
She straightened, feeling it through the bond. "You thought you were going to die, didn't you?"
"I knew it was a likelihood. But again, I am alive and well, as is Yu Watase."
"And what of Doran's father? You cannot chalk that up to being Watase's fault. That death lies squarely on your shoulders."
His jaw twitched.
"You are going to need to father him."
He blinked at her. His wife could get the silliest, most peculiar ideas occur to her little mind, "I don't know if you have noticed, but the boy has already been birthed."
She swatted him, in no mood for his jokes. "You took him away from Doran. I do believe that is fair."
Justen rubbed his jaw. "The boy could use some guidance. But after our misadventure, I am not certain he'd have me. I might just be a foul reminder."
"Hm," he could see the small working pieces in his wife's mind moving as she sat silent for several minutes. Finally one slim shoulder rose in a shrug. "I think it would be wise to get out of the city for a period of time," she rubbed her stomach thoughtfully, "though I had planned on staying in Tar Valon for the birth this time. Nivenh’Mia will be pleased to see us, I suspect."
"And I had intended you stay as well." He felt a cold creep over him. After Arrowen’s birth, and the craziness that had happened at Water Bay Manor just before his birth, Justen had been looking forward to this one being born beneath the careful guard of the Tower. Not to mention he was not sure how pleased Nivenh’Mia would be to see him.
Justen sighed. "But you are right. Doran may not want to come, as you already pointed out."
She waved off his concerned. "I will speak to his superiors. No doubt he could use the furlough..." Now that her mind was working on it, there was little anyone in its path could do other than comply.
He rubbed his cheek where Nivenh'Mia had slapped him almost two weeks ago now and wondered what sort of vengeance she would put him through when they showed up at Water Bay Manor. He had gone to the office instead of the estate to avoid just such confrontation.
Re: Rash Plans and Delinquent Quests
For all his intents to find his bed and escape his thoughts through sleep Doran found himself walking aimlessly through the Tower garden. It was strange really; he’d never set foot there before a part from chores but now it felt like he never wanted to stop wander the paths through the autumn colored garden. Mir’iam’s words echoed through his mind:
"Redemption is good. We can all only hope to be redeemed in the end for all of our many trespasses..."
His father had said something similar. Doran thought back through the fog and pain to remember the words of a dead man.
”We must all face the judgment passed on us by the Light.”
That was it. Not quite similar then, but close enough to fit together in Doran’s mind. What kind of redemption would suffice to make the Light forgive him for causing his father’s death?
He shied away from the thought, quickening his pace as if walking with a purpose. Which he had none. Wasn’t that what had caused all this? What do you fight for? Bernyam had asked all those days ago, days that suddenly felt like years. He still didn’t have a good answer. He shied away from that thought too. Perhaps he wasn’t walking purposefully; perhaps he was simply running away.
In the end he found himself in the Ogier groove. There was an autumn chill to the air that had not existed before they left and it drove everyone else indoors after sunset, leaving Doran alone in the dark. The grove was peaceful and he spent a long time just walking the winding paths, allowing himself to empty his mind, before he sank down next to a large oak, resting his weary body against the ragged bark.
For an hour he managed to think of nothing. Resting his head back against the trunk he just sat there and listened to the wind moving through the crown of the tree. Eventually he had to address what had bothered him the last day. He closed his eyes and tried to form the words of a prayer in his mind, to pray for a father who strayed but found his way in the end.
No words came to him.
How could he pray? How do you pray for the soul of a father you've spent most of your life thinking dead and deserving every agony of death?
How do you form the words true in your heart and still have the strength to own up to that truth when you do not like it? That takes a whole other kind of bravery than fighting robbers, or Whitecloaks or even facing the gallows.
Justen could probably tell him a word or two about how to come to terms with death, be it your own imminent one or the death of loved ones. Or hated ones. Some time it’s hard to tell who falls under which category. Doran had no wish to seek out Justen though, nor did he wish to run in to Mir’iam Sedai until she had had a chance to calm down. Besides, somehow he knew he had to figure this one out by himself.
In the end his father had made the right choice, and maybe that was what he was supposed to fight for: so that people could make choices and would always have the opportunities to change the minds if the choices they've made turned out to be bad. So that people could always seek redemption.
Doran laughed tiredly. What a presumptive thought. Maybe he should simply keep fighting so that better men like Justen Trizidad wouldn’t have to save his life over and over again. Try to keep life simple and stay alive, wasn’t that what he’d told Justen he was all about? It’d worked pretty well this far. Somehow Doran knew it might not stay that simple any longer.
Schemes within schemes. The Great Serpent is a good sign for you Aes Sedai, I think. Someday you may swallow yourselves by accident. -Melaine
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