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View Full Version : The Flame to Cairhien, Part 4


RogueSavior
11-07-2009, 09:17 PM
Danette glanced up even before Dycin actually came into view and a slight frown marring her features for just an instant--Dycin didn't seem to be in the best state of mind. "We're going to the Threefold Land, Dycin," she announced to him. "After that I haven't decided yet. As soon as everything's together, we'll go.

"I shall accompany you. I am in no hurry to meet my other obligations." Gnarled cleared his sinuses loudly and spat on the ground.

Suit yourself, Friend Ogier. Choose a horse if you need one, I believe there are larger horses to the back--"

Gnarled snorted, an obvious substitute for the typical Ogier response to the suggestion - no, he wouldn’t be needing a horse.

She smoothly mounted the horse and then turned to regard her strange traveling party--she really should insist that the Ogier take a bath, but she didn't want to see what would happen if she tried--Power or not, she was sure that the Ogier would be able to break her in half and there was too much left for her to do to risk it for something as little as her sense of smell. She'd just try to stay upwind of him.

"Well, let's go," she said to the group at large, at urged her horse into a walk.

Leaving the keep proper, they went through the half-built city and found the streets oddly deserted, apparently her orders had already gotten through and everyone was staying out of sight until the visitors were gone. Idly, Danette wondered if it would still be standing for her to return to after she was done with what she needed to do.

They passed into the clear area outside the keep and Danette urged her horse into a faster pace, her mind already focusing on the task ahead, if only she could remember something about the Threefold Land, she needed a place to start.

After some time had passed they came to a roped off clearing and Danette pulled the Flyer's reins gently guiding him to a stop. Here she dismounted and looked at them. "Ven, do you remember a place in the Threefold Land well enough to Travel there?"

"I was only there briefly,” Ven D'Vere answered Danette Sedai. "And that was quite a few years ago. But I'll see what I can do..." A Gateway’s telltale line widened into a scene of wasted desolation.

"Where exactly are we going?" Danette asked the Asha'man.

"Cold Rocks Hold," he responded.

Nodding, Danette quickly urged her gelding through the Gateway, momentarily surprised not to see two forms darting into it ahead of her. Gaul...Logain...

She shook her head and quickly forced the sadness back and focused on the task at hand. The sun beat down on her head and as far as she could see there was nothing but sand and rocks. Thoughts idly swam through her mind as she wondered what she would find in the Threefold Land--had she made many enemies there in the time she couldn't remember, or friends--perhaps even a combination of both?

Sighing, she ran her hand through her short red hair and stared over the terrain. She couldn't see them, but she knew that there were several Aiel watching them right now. They would most likely ride about four steps and find themselves surrounded. For some reason, even though she couldn't distinguish the differences in the terrain, Danette felt as if she knew this area almost as well as she knew the idea around Amatsiru and likely the Valley.

***

Ambrok was one of the last through the Gateway, followed only by Van D’Vere himself. In an instant, Ambrok was more uncomfortable than he'd ever been in his life. Even compared to the jungles of Shara, the Aiel Waste was a furnace. Sweat should have poured down his chest, but, as soon as sweat appeared on his brow, or his chest, face, underarms, wherever, it evaporated, leaving only its' salt behind.

"Light... it's so blasted hot..." Ambrok groaned to no one but himself. The skin under his breastplate felt as if it were cooking. That blasted woman hadn't informed them in the slightest they'd be going into the middle of the desert - he spared her a glance, his agony shining through his normally stern visage. He'd even let her Channel on him, if she could make the heat go away!

The glance he’d directed towards her allowed him to notice her insufferable grin, which was nearly enough to make him drop the breastplate to the ground and leave it to melt in the sand.

Once the marath’damane Ven D’Vere’s Gateway disappeared, Ambrok’s hand flew to his sword as a woman wrapped in fabric the color of the desert stood up directly in the path of Danette. Other similarly clad forms rose up in a circle around the small group, but the one directly in front of Danette was the first to speak.

"I see you Danette Galliana," she said formally. "Please accompany us, Amys is waiting for you."

Waiting for her? The Aiel had begun running across the desert before Ambrok could ask them how they knew Galliana was coming. When the rest of the group clearly made to follow them, Ambrok turned his gaze to Gnarled.

“What do you know of these Aiel?” He whispered to the Ogier Gardener, who seemed to know enough about everyone to get by.

Gnarled snorted, in his disgusting manner. Obviously cantankerous in the desert heat, he marched on, not even deigning to fake his role as bodyguard.

The group followed the woman across the desert towards a collection of buttes - or was it merely one eroded into several? What was so special about it? It could have been one of any number in the surrounding area - this must be the Hold they spoke of, or an excellent point from which to launch an ambush. Once again, Ambrok was grateful he’d left the breastplate on.

As they neared the collection of buttes, Ambrok clearly saw two women waiting for them along what was increasingly resembling a road. Both women wore matching dark wool skirts and white algode blouses, and both had a wealth of gold and ivory necklaces and bracelets on. But where a folded scarf held back one’s silvery hair from her aged face, the other’s scarf held back fiery red hair from a beautiful face that was only growing more beautiful as she ages. Their Aiel guide stepped forward. "Roofmistress, I ask leave to come beneath your roof."

"You have my leave, Naeise," The red-haired woman told their lean guide. "Beneath my roof, there is water and shade for you. Far Dareis Mai are always welcome here."

"I give thanks, Roofmistress." Naeise said simply, completing the obvious ceremony. "Wise One, I have brought those whom you said would be here." She said, backing away so the two women could see them clearly.

The older woman gave the group a sharp look. "I see you, Danette Galliana. The Dreaming said you would be here this day, though I would expect manners from a Treekiller first. Why do you come to the Three-fold Land?"

Danette frowned. "If you saw it in a Dream you probably know it better than I, Wise One," Danette responded finally, keeping her tone polite. "The ones that travel with me are Dycin, Ven d'Vere, Asha'man of the Blue, and Ambrok Chiqel."

She introduced them quickly and then turned to the red-haired woman. She bowed to her since her pants made it awkward for her to curtsy. "Roofmistress, I ask leave to come beneath your roof."

Sefela smiled to herself. "Such humility," she murmured. "You have my leave, Danette Galliana. There is ever water and shade in Cold Rocks for the wife of the Car'a'carn.

"You have business with the Wise Ones. Enter my hold and see to your business." She said simply, giving Amys full control of the situation. The white-haired Wise One's face showed no emotion. Both women turned and led the way into the Hold, making their way past men and women dressed similarly to their guides, and men and women dressed in pure white who seemed to be da‘covale, and past children in kilts and short skirts, playing with dolls and hoops and toy spears. The Roofmistress' roof was a grand structure deep within the Hold, and when they entered the pillows were already arranged, and Gai'shain brought in silver trays with hammered cups of wine and water to share. The elder Wise One took her place in the circle atop a richly brocaded pillow and pinned Danette with a look, waiting for her to speak.

Danette her hand into the bag she carried and produced a delicately crafted crystal bird wrapped is soft green silk and offered it to the Roofmistress. Sefela took the proffered gift and inspected it with a shrewd eye.

"Exquisite." She said simply, then she turned to Dycin, Ambrok and Ven, and in a friendly but firm voice told them, "This is Wise One's business. Come. You are guests beneath my roof. We will drink water and wine, and share tales of the places we've been and the things we've seen." She turned and strode deeper into the Roof, her bracelets clacking softly as she walked, fully expecting the men to follow her back.

Seeing Dycin and Ven quickly follow the woman, Ambrok, too followed her out back into the Hold. "Come. I will show you Cold Rocks Hold while Danette Galliana and the Wise One speakHave any of you ever been to the Three-fold Land?" She asks as she walks.

Women dressed similarly to Sefela carried water alongside the Aiel da’covale, though the latter did not join in the chatter and laughter that seemed infectious in the Hold. Outside a dwelling nearby, several women laugh with each other, clearly using a secret language spoken with the hands. One, who he quickly recognizes as their guide, nodded a greeting at Sefela.

Remembering something the Sharans had told him, Ambrok turned to the Roofmistress. "Is it true what they say of these Maidens? Are they really so fierce your men refuse to fight them? They're still women, after all." His voice trailed off as he finished his questions under the watchful gaze of the Maidens of the Spear.

Most of the Maidens stopped what they were doing and fixed Ambrok with cool stares. Sefela kept a very straight face. "Why don't you ask them yourself, Ambrok Chiquel. What have you to fear, they're just women after all."

Something in her tone made Ambrok blush with shame. He strongly suspected this wasn't going to end well. He turned towards the Maidens, and stepped back, shocked at the presence of Naeise, maybe a foot from his face.

"Excuse me, Ambrok Chiqel, but my spear sisters and I were wondering if you were man enough to play a game with us mere women?"

Ambrok gulped. A game? That doesn't sound so bad... "I'd... love to play." Ambrok said, sparing a quick glance at the Roofmistress. Sefela's face was even, but her eyes twinkled with mirth.

Ambrok followed the Maiden over to her ‘spear sisters‘. When he was surrounded, two of the maidens pulled the buckles of his breastplate apart, and it fell to the ground, exposing his sweat-stained tunic. He felt the first spear prick the back of his neck, but before he could turn, he was surrounded by a ring of spears, each exactly an inch from his neck.

Panicking, he looked over to Dycin and Ven, who each wore laughing smiles on their faces. He felt a hand on his cheek, and his face was pushed back towards Naeise. Her head cocked to the side, "Have you heard of Maiden's Kiss, Ambrok Chiqel?"

He hadn't, but before he could shake his head, Naeise's lips clamped on to his in a fierce embrace. Shocked, Ambrok was unable to return the kiss. When she broke contact, Naeise frowned, and pressed her spear against his throat. A little more push, and she drew blood. “Was that your first time kissing a woman, Ambrok Chiqel?”

A pull on his right shoulder spun him around to face another Maiden, who took his head in her hands and pulled their faces together. Ambrok was able to return the kiss, but it was a poor, clumsy effort, and he was rewarded by her, too, pulling a drop of blood from his neck with the point of her spear.

On his third attempt, the Maiden pulled away with a smile, and the Maidens spun him around more quickly, eager, it seemed, to bleed him to death for failing them. Ambrok was only too happy to comply, but after a few minutes, the circle of women fell away, laughing to each other as their hands flickered back and forth.

Ambrok took a deep breath, and grabbed his breastplate from the ground, and walked sheepishly back over to his companions and the roofmistress. He didn't meet their eyes, for the first time feeling he had lost sei’taer.

Ven D'Vere shook his head. "It's plain you don't know all that much about the Maidens of the Spear, they're every bit as good as the other warrior societies"

Ven turned to Sefela, "To answer your question, I was here, very briefly, a few years ago, Roofmistress.”

"Tell me of the Car'a'carn and the Flame Danette," Gnarled ordered bluntly, and Ambrok couldn‘t help but share the Gardener‘s curiosity. "I have been long from the World of Men. I need to know what has happened these last years."

"The Car'a'carn and Flame met while she was in training here with the Wise Ones, as was the tradition then. When she became Aes Sedai the Car'a'carn became her Warder and they left the Threefold Land for a long time," Sefela replied. "They returned to us some time ago and were married."

The silence that followed in the finality of Sefela’s tone was broken only by Danette’s laughter as she approached.

RogueSavior
11-07-2009, 09:18 PM
It's brutal of me to take up all these threads, so I'm going to quickly recopy and paste them all into separate posts within one thread.

nighthitcher
04-09-2010, 05:53 AM
sounds good to me