View Full Version : The Flame to Cairhien, (real) Part 3B

11-05-2009, 04:10 AM
She went back to her pacing and Phoenix eyed her worriedly. Finally Danette came to a halt and turned to face him. "There are two possible solutions to the current problem," she announced and held up one finger. "First, I can leave you here and either shielded or dosed with forkroot until such time as I can allow you to return. Or..."

A second finger joined the first. "You can swear an Oath that you will not harm anyone unless I give you word that you can and obey and follow my direction until such time that it becomes possible to return to your Towers, which I swear to you by the Light and my hope of salvation and rebirth will eventually come."

After her words, silence reigned and she regarded Ven with steady amber eyes.

Ven D'Vere stared back at her, obviously trying to ignore the aroma of roast beef, beans, and tea, that arose from the covered tray.

As quick as thought, he dropped to his knees before Danette. "I swear, by the Light, by my hope of Salvation and rebirth in the Light, that I shall obey, not harming anyone unless at your behest, and follow your orders until I may return to my Tower."

Danette nodded in satisfaction and let the shield between the Asha'man and the source disappear. "I will give orders that you may be allowed to walk around the keep, but do not venture into the city unless you have been given permission, not that you'll really have much opportunity, there are two more people I must speak to today, but then I will be leaving and you will be coming with me. While I trust you to keep to your word, the others here may not. Until we meet again."

Danette inclined her head gracefully in parting and then with a glance at Phoenix gathered her to her side and left the room. The guard went to lock it and she shook her head. "He has sworn an Oath to me that he will not break, he is to be allowed free access to the keep," Danette stated, "and see that he has the food he requires. Until I say otherwise he is to be treated as my liegeman with the courtesies thereof."

"But he's from there," the guard protested.

"He is also of the Light Tower, Kyra confirmed it for me," Danette said, "no one who follows the Light will break the Oath that he has given me."

There was a sound of icy command in her voice and the guard bowed quickly. "It will be as you command, Flame, the Light illumine you."

"And you," Danette said quietly and strode away with Phoenix still at her back.

Once they were away from the guards, Danette glanced at Phoenix. "There was no smell of deception from him, I would have informed you, somehow, if there was," Phoenix said. "Although I wonder at your wisdom in bringing him."

"If I do not, oath or no, I think that the others will kill him or see him imprisoned," Danette said. "I may not like these Towers, but I will treat those who walk in the Light with respect. The Darkfriends in the prison though..."

Danette's voice became cold and icy. "They will not be treated so courteously."

Danette walked purposefully through the halls of the keep, automatically acknowledging the bows and curtsies that flooded all around her. Some of the soldiers only saluted and that was fine with her as well. The halls around her became less and less ornate until they were descending below into the torchlit depths of the dungeon. The guards standing watch immediately bowed and she heard a chorus of "The Light illumine you and guide your path" even as she approached the man in charge. "Is all in readiness?"

The guard nodded. "The man is in the room ready for questioning."

"Very good, I'll see to him."

Danette entered the room and noted that the young man was bound to a chair and didn't look too happy about it, a slight smile curved her lips, but didn't reach her eyes, this man had come with a known agent of the Dark Tower. "I suppose we'll start this off politely, I've never seen a need not to to be polite at least at the beginning. I am Danette Galliana, Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah and the ruler of Amatsiru."

She probably had a huge list of titles she could probably rattle off if she wanted to (once she found a paper with them), but she only knew for sure that she was the ruler of this city and the shawl secured deep in her belongings with the green fringe named her of the Green Ajah, she may have once been Amyrlin, but she was no longer and she doubted any Green would dispute her anyway. "How are you called?"

Phoenix took up a position behind her, regarding the young man with unblinking golden eyes.

"I'm Ambrok Chiqel, Aes Sedai. I come from the nation of Mayene, and I've done nothing wrong."

Amusement entered Danette's amber eyes and a smile curved her lips. "Jumping onto the defensive is never a good way to convince someone you've done nothing, it makes one wonder why you are so quick to say nothing. Don't you agree, Phoenix?"

The red-haired wolf-sibling nodded slowly and Danette settled casually in a chair across from him and smoothed her skirts. "I suppose you can say that entering this area was not wrong, but you travel with an Asha'man of the Dark Tower. Regardless of where you came from, a Darkfriend is still a Darkfriend here and the punishment is death. The Shadow may walk freely elsewhere, but if it steps foot here it will be destroyed."

The boy visibly flinched when he was told the Asha’man was a Darkfriend - was it possible he didn’t know? She spared another glance to Phoenix, who shook her head slightly - no deception was scented.

"Though the Asha'man be a Friend of the Dark, I am not. The Ogier accompanying me found him, and I asked him to transport us to Cairhien with his... ability. Apparently, he can't even control the One Power well enough to get me to Cairhien. Considering your claims that he is a Friend of the Dark, I find it most likely he did it on purpose, in an attempt to stop me on my business in Cairhien."

"Business in Cairhien?" Danette repeated the words thoughtfully. "And what business would that be Ambrok Chiquel?"

The boy stared straight into her eyes as he continued, “I'm going to... stop Cor Sinistrum. His master holds that which is most important in thrall. Through death of the dark general, and the Master of Storms, I will save..." He choked off the last, even as he tried to stand up where he was bound to the chair. "Light! I have to kill Cor Sinistrum!"

She watched with some inner amusement as the young man tried to stand up though he was bound with physical ropes and not the Power, but his words did not amuse her at all. She did not know who this "Master of Storms" was, but an image flashed through her mind and she knew him to be an enemy and if this Cor Sinistrum held Cairhien for him it meant that the city was held in Shadow--that disturbed her.

"Pray tell, Ambrok Chiquel, how did you plan to get to him when he is likely well-guarded from within and without? Do you have an army hidden somewhere in my lands? Or perhaps you can use the Power and have something to supplement your strength in order to channel a whole city down? Not to mention, one such as this Master of Storms likely cares little for this Cor Sinistrum. If you sneak in and assassinate this one, like as not there will be minor unrest and then another will replace him and it will be just the same as before."

The Shadow in Cairhienin, Danette had little affection for the Cairhiens--Treekillers the word whispered through her mind in another's voice dripping with contempt, a voice she should know--but no one deserved a life under the Shadow, not even Treekillers.

Do you have an army? she asked herself mockingly--in truth Danette did not feel as if she was truly leader of Amatsiru in her current state.

She needed to recover her memories!

"I don't know how I was going to do it, but I was going to! Surely there are rebels in Cairhien I could have banded together into an army of sorts - I'd have found help."

"If the rebels in Cairhien were strong enough to take him down, they probably would have done so already, one more sword I don't think will tip the balance either way," Danette stated flatly. "It might be a good thing you're not a soldier, a strategy like that has too many ifs."

Danette frowned at him slightly and glanced at Phoenix, the girl shrugged indicating that she was sensing no deception at this point, either, despite the boy’s face splitting momentarily into a grin.

"A sword? No. That wouldn't help." Ambrok fumed, obviously thinking something over inside his head. "Yet I must try. Allow me to go - the Shadow will be eradicated from the land of the Rising Sun."

“Even if I were sure you were speaking the truth, I would just as soon leave you here in the cells than allow you to go into Cairhien and try and fight," Danette stated. "I'm not one for wasting life when it is not necessary, many things can be replaced but never a life."

Danette scowled at him for just a moment and then her face smoothed. "No. No, I do not think I am going to allow you to leave the cells as of yet. Foolish children take foolish risks, I know I was one of them, but I had...others to protect me and I never was silly enough to go try and take a city from an army with superior numbers."

Danette had almost had names on the tip of her tongue, but just as she was about to speak them they faded away like mist and inwardly she swore, it would have been a memory, a good memory. In her head she heard familiar voices lecturing her on running headlong into trouble, but she couldn't identify the lecturers and she wished she could.

For the first time, the boy broke eye contact with her, looking to his side with a derisory snort. He muttered something to himself, clearly unable to restrain himself, “I already have…”

He met her eyes and Danette could see pride burning in them and she wanted to laugh, the boy probably would try and take the city by himself. Amusement set her amber eyes sparkling and she had to avoid speaking for a few minutes or the laughter that was bubbling below the surface would show through. Come to think of it, Danette could almost remember trying to do something like that on her own, but the--others--had stopped her, probably all for the better, she was strong but not that strong.

With some effort she controlled her mirth and regarded him with amber eyes that still glittered with humor, but her voice was cool. "Do you really think you can get by me much less all my guards to escape this city, Ambrok Chiqel?" she inquired icily.

His shoulders sagged in defeat, but the effect was lost when he continued to stare directly into her eyes. "The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills..." he mumbled, in what he must have surely thought was a resigned tone.

Danette couldn't resist the urge to laugh any longer and her laughter filled the room. "Resignation does not suit you, Ambrok Chiqel. You almost remind me of myself when I was younger, that means I'll have to be taking some extra precautions with you."

She rose and stretched. "Perhaps if your claims play out, I may be able to offer a small bit of assistance, but that would require you to assist me first."

Danette frowned as the words left her mouth--where had those come from? She had no desire to help this young man with anything when it wasn't clear which side he was on, but she would deal with it as it came, one of her strengths had always been adjusting to unexpected circumstances.

"Of course how you help me and how much help I offer you is up for negotiation, once I've confirmed that you walk in the Light, I won't work with a Darkfriend," Danette stated flatly and added to herself. Not ever again

Ambrok was clearly as startled by her sudden change of heart as she had been. "The only proof I can offer that I walk in the Light is here - in my pocket.” He reached his tied hand into it and pulled it out as best he could. A slip of paper sat in his hand.

"Though I've no doubt that I won't be able to assist you at all tied to this chair."

Danette gestured for Phoenix to get the note and the red-haired wolfsibling obeyed silently. Danette opened it up and read it:

A little news that might be of interest to you: A minion of the Storm Leader, General Cor Sinistrum, holds the ancient city of Cairhien under an iron fist.

"Well, it doesn't help your cause any as far as proving you are not a Darkfriend," Danette told him. "It is a well-known fact that the Forsaken are always plotting against each other and you could be very well working for one of the others. Lucky for you I just received a report that confirmed this."

A silence momentarily broke the room, before Ambrok began speaking again, quietly. "I dreamt once, after being struck by a Halfman in the Foregate, of a Shining Sun surrounded by shadow. I charged into it, finding myself surrounded, as Kelriq roared in defiance, my sword slashing left and right. Upon waking up, I found that note. I don't care aboutthose Towers, or your town. But I will not let my home fall to the shadow that controls Cairhien."

Danette listened to his words and all humor fled from your face. "I am not about to let Cairhien sit in the Shadow for much longer than it already has," she stated, her tone cold. "I am the Flame of Hope, I will fight for the Light in whatever way I must, but taking a city is no easy matter. You need soldiers, information, and many other things that neither you nor I currently have. Patience is something that is well-learned..."

Phoenix snorted slightly at that comment, but when Danette glanced at her the girl's face was smooth. Patience has never been one of my virtues, it's something everyone else must learn so I don't have to... her own voice echoed in her head, and Danette smiled wryly to herself--that did ring true.

"...at any rate, perhaps we can enter a bargain, of sorts," Danette said. "You will swear that you will not harm anyone unless I give you word that you can and obey and follow my direction until such time that Cairhien falls, which I swear to you by the Light and my hope of salvation and rebirth will happen--one way or another."

"On the Light and by my hope of Salvation and Rebirth, so do I swear - I will not directly harm you or your allies, and I will work with you to ensure that Cairhien does not fall to the Shadow. When the time comes, I'll follow your command" He swore, his gaze not leaving her eyes, even as he swore.

Cairhien has already fallen to the Shadow," Danette frowned at him, she'd almost accepted the Oath despite his alterations. "What we must do is pull it out of the Shadow and in order to do that you must follow my direction, there is only one person I would allow to be a general if it is not me, and that would not be you. When we go to battle we will be fighting together but only one person can give direction--or the battle will be lost."

Phoenix had tensed at his alteration of the Oath, but managed to force herself to relax slightly when Danette responded to Ambrok.

The boy spoke up once more, a new fire to his voice. "To say that Cairhien has fallen to the shadow is to give up all hope of its salvation. As long as men and women who walk in the Light fight for the Banner of the Rising Sun, it has not fallen. Look no farther than Malkier for an example of what we who walk in the Light can accomplish." He paused a moment, as if letting his message settle onto Danette.

Know that with me, you gain someone who has battled against everything we'll find in Cairhien and worse. Channelers, Shadowspawn, I hold no fear of either. Sharans have surrendered fortresses to the charges of Cavalry led by me. Battle is something I've always done quite well."

"..and arrogance such as yours has led to the fall of far greater fortresses than any Sharan you can imagine," Danette said in a cold, icy voice. "I have fought and won more wars at worse odds than anything you may have claimed. I have fought the Shadow for over 300 years, can you say the same? I have stood against armies with minimal troops, survived, and thrown them back. Whatever triumphs you claim I have as many or more. I will accept the oath you gave me and allow your freedom, but only if you promise to follow my direction when it comes to this battle--all aspects of this battle. If you do not agree, you will not see the light of day until you've gray in your hair--or perhaps I should just execute you to keep you from getting in my way."

The last was said in a cold, hard voice that held no emotion, just a simple statement of fact.

"I said I would follow your command. I break no oaths." The words would have sliced a lesser person than Danette to ribbons, such was the tone of Ambrok's voice. He was angry - obviously so. "Now, if you'll release me, I'd like to speak to the Ogier."

Danette knew the young man before her under no circumstances was under her thumb; he reminded her a bit of some others she knew, but couldn't remember, but two faces flashed across her mind an arrogant dark-haired man and an Aiel with a look of stony confidence. This should be interesting--very much so.

"Very well, I shall accept your Oath in the spirit in which it was given," Danette said calmly, "but, know this, should you do something to harm me, my people, or my cause, I will kill you."

With that, she sliced the ropes with a Weave of Air. "As for the Ogier, I will be speaking to him first," she stated flatly. "After I am done, if there is time I will allow you to talk to him. However, I plan to leave very soon after I speak with him and you will be coming with me."

With that, Danette left the room all of her strength and belief in her own self gathered around her in a cloak. Phoenix watched him warily until they left and once the door was shut Danette spoke to the guard. "Ambrok has spoken an Oath to me, he will be allowed to go free, but keep an eye on him, I do not know if I trust him yet."