A Fox Is A Wolf Who Sends Flowers (Craig)

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Matty
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Re: A Fox Is A Wolf Who Sends Flowers (Craig)

Post by Matty » May 23rd, 2018, 9:42 pm

Nate There was a silent moment as Zarayne did that thing women did where they made you wait for an answer for some reason. Nate stood there expectantly, trying not to look as impatient as he felt, but as soon as she gave permission he scooped up his hammer and was all set to barge on out of there. Ugh, he didn't want to spend more time with her, he'd wasted enough time chewing the fat as it was! What else was there to say? He'd already said he'd fill out their stupid paperwork.

He paused halfway out the door as she suggested accompanying him to the Three-Fold Land. His gut reaction was to say no and keep moving but it was probably a test for the whole working in isolation issue she'd just mentioned, and it was important for him to keep in this woman's good books for a while. "Uhhh, sure, if you wanna," he agreed. "But! We can't go just yet because I have some real important paperwork to fill out for the Blues. I'll send ya a message when I'm ready to go? I don't plan on taking long." Nate was going to try and get out the following day.

----

It actually took three days for Nate to get through all the paperwork he had to catch up on, and he had no small number of conversations with fellow Blues. Conversations he then had to write about. It did very little for his mood, and by the time he was given the all clear to go Nate was practically clawing the walls.

Is there actually something not right with my head? Nate pondered as he headed to the Travelling grounds, armed and ready for journeying. I never had a problem studying as a trainee, or reading and writing. It was boring but I could do it. Now I can't even sit in a meeting without bouncing my legs. It was this doubt that made the difference between him being allowed to leave, or being forced to stay at the Tower and learn some manners. The Blue suspected that there really had been some damage done by the Compulsion, or perhaps the Viadulo injections. Maybe even both. Nate couldn't worry about it too much, he was a busy man and all, but it seemed like a real possibility.

He'd been true to his word and sent a message to Zarayne, asking her to meet him at the Travelling grounds after breakfast if she still wanted to accompany him. He'd not given her much details in the message so when she made her appearance he was sure to give her all the info needed. "I've been doing the route that leads from Cairhien out into the Three-Fold Land," he told her, "there's been bandits attacking the Travelling folk there and it ain't right. Not Aiel, just cutthroats looking for easy coin." The Blue shook his head, dismayed.

Of course, travelling to the homeland of the Aiel was hot and sweaty business, so Nate opted to wear an open shirt and some light trousers, neutral colours with a bit of blue in the shirt. He wore his hammer on his back and a cloth around his forehead to keep it from burning in the sun, as well as to tie his long hair back. Nate was ready to go - he even had his water skein and some snacks to hand in a small bag. "All set?" he asked.
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Re: A Fox Is A Wolf Who Sends Flowers (Craig)

Post by Craig » May 23rd, 2018, 10:04 pm

Zarayne
The last time Zarayne had been to the Three-Fold Land, at least bodily, she'd been too young to remember. Her fledgling Talent with Dreamwalking had allowed her to experience some of the landscape however, and she'd spoken about it once with her mother. Time and distance apart, as well as the shawl around her shoulders, allowed Zarayne to hold her own for once. She hated to disagree with her mother, but Sinead didn't have the responsibility of a Yellow Aes Sedai on her shoulders.

The three days hadn't gone to waste. Zarayne sequestered herself off in her room, conditioning herself for the journey to come. It was primarily a case of flexing long unused traditions that she recalled from childhood. She even brought home books on ji'e'toh from the Library to study. Any encounter she had with another Aiel was going to be fraught with difficulties, no matter how many books she read. The ring around her finger ensured that.

When she left her rooms on the third day, a transformed figure emerged. Instead of a yellow-hued dress, Zarayne wore a cadin'sor, cut in the design of the Chumai sept of the Taardad Aiel. She didn't have a true claim to either sept or clan, but they were both her mother's. A black shoufa hung loosely around her neck, as did a large script full of herbs, poultices, and dried meats.

The ground was cool beneath her bare feet as she joined Nate. She gave his attire a casual glance, immediately dismissing it from thought. As a non-Aiel, it really didn't matter what he wore, so long as it wasn't metal. She was belatedly thankful that he didn't use a sword.

"I am ready. The Lost Ones may not warmly welcome me, but at least they will not force us to dance."
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Re: A Fox Is A Wolf Who Sends Flowers (Craig)

Post by Matty » May 24th, 2018, 12:21 pm

Nate It took a moment for Nate to recognise the Aiel who made her way over, and when he realised it was Zarayne there was a unfiltered moment where he simply had to get used to this new image of her wearing the Aiel outfit and... and no shoes. No shoes. Nothing. Bare feet. Nate was all for it when he was lounging on the docks or having a nap, but in the Three-Fold Land? She was gonna burn her bloody feet off.

When he managed to close his mouth and find his words, he tried not to sound too gruff. "Who are the Lost Ones?" he asked, instead of making some comment on her outfit. She wanted to act like an Aiel then that was on her. Heck, it was none of his business. "Oh wait that's what Aiel call the Tinkers, I get it. Yeah. They're good folk and they don't deserve to be attacked by a bunch of cowards. You wanna steal some gold? You should pick a fight with someone who can defend themselves." The man grumped along this vein as he turned to make a Gateway to where he'd last visited. The heat of the Three-fold Land shimmered through the large Gate Nate made - he was a dab hand at Gateways, not a Talent but he had a good knack for them after working out how to make horizontal ones. Or did that count as a Talent? He didn't really care either way and it wasn't as if anyone was tracking his points in such matters.

He led the way through, the heat of the desert hitting his face and making him break out into a sweat almost instantly. He was used to the heat of Mayene so it didn't bother him as much as it would some soppy borderlander - Bells would probably pass out and need carrying home, if his bells didn't melt into his hair. Bless.

They were at the side of a large, broad "path", a path in so much as enough people walked through here that the ground was worn down in a visible line leading along rock and sand alike. The Blue grinned at Zarayne, pleased to be out the Tower finally, and gestured to the East. "Got some Tinkers who made camp over this way. It's been a few days so they might've moved on by now. We can Travel along the path to catch up with 'em, see what's goin' on there."

So off they trundled, Nate looking down to see how Zarayne's bare feet dealt with the hot ground. Apparently she was fine, and the Blue silently boggled over this rather than make much conversation as they walked towards the curve in the low hills. This close to the pass into Cairhien the ground was still somewhat grassy in places, with a few hills providing shade, but rapidly diminishing even before one's eyes hit the eastern horizon. From here it was barren desert.

Signs of a recently used camp were sparse, but Nate knew where they'd stayed so he found the subtle tracks, the broken brittle blades of grass, and the little holes where they had politely buried their waste. He nodded to himself and looked up, putting a hand to his eyes for shade as he scanned the horizon. They must have made pretty good progress. "I'll Gate us along for a bit," he said, "then walk for a bit, and repeat." It was a simple but effective way of Travelling - make a Gate from somewhere familiar to somewhere you can see. Travelling there made one instantly know the area, so it was possible to make another Gate to somewhere you could see... and so on. Nate did this without preamble so the pair of them went through Gate after Gate, only pausing a dozen or so later as the Blue wanted to conserve his strength.

"I thought we'd've caught up by now," Nate muttered, hands on his hips as he looked around. The man had discarded his shirt about eight Gates previously, and it was now roughly tucked into the waist of his trousers. He took a sip of his water and made a face, "I can make some more Gates after a bit of rest." He could make them some shade to sit in for a short while out of Air, that would help.
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Re: A Fox Is A Wolf Who Sends Flowers (Craig)

Post by Craig » May 25th, 2018, 4:44 pm

Zarayne
Zarayne was content to simply follow along in silence for a while, taking Gateway after Gateway without comment. Nate's aptitude for Travelling outstripped her own. She couldn't have ran as fast as the Gateways were taking them, but she would have been happy to do so.

Her thoughts were less focused on Nate and the Tuatha'an than they should have been. She was nervous about where they were heading. She didn't reveal that to her companion - that would have incurred her toh - instead masking her worry with a stoic gaze. There wasn't much to distract her thoughts with. She saw a few birds far to the south, but aside from that the two channellers were alone.

It was warm, although not as warm as the Three-Fold Land would be. Her cadin'sor protected her skin from the sun's rays, yet were loose and porous enough to let the breeze cool her. Nate was having no such luck. She slowed down a touch once he removed his shirt, her emerald gaze taking in the formation of his muscles as he walked. She followed a drop of sweat as it slowly ran down his spine, before resuming her survey on the road ahead.

Zarayne stepped in front when Nate stopped, scanning the distance ahead of them. Heat shimmers distorted the horizon, but from what she could see, there was nothing and no-one else on this path.

"Tell me again, you thought it was bandits that preyed upon these Lost Ones?" She turned back to face him. "We've seen no sign of anyone else on this road. Would they steal the wagons themselves and ride cross-country? Or is it possible the Lost Ones have travelled farther than you thought?" She looked down at his chest, taking more interest than she had in the Infirmary. "Should we return to the Tower to find you more appropriate attire, or do you plan to enter the Three-Fold Land naked?"
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Re: A Fox Is A Wolf Who Sends Flowers (Craig)

Post by Matty » May 25th, 2018, 8:57 pm

Nate The Asha'man made a face at the idea of the bandits taking off with the wagons in their entirety. It seemed unlikely. Possible, but unlikely. The Three-Fold Land itself was too dangerous for the casual bandit to cross, and any Aiel who saw the Travelling Folk who turned out to not be Travelling Folk, would most likely be given a swift beating. They had to know this.

"I didn't think they would move with such speed, especially in this heat," Nate said, shaking his head. He looked down at the Yellow, eyebrows raising and a small smile forming despite itself as he saw where she was looking. Even more so for her question. "My eyes are up here," he said. "And I'm not naked, I have trousers. Plus my shirt too!" He patted it where it was tucked into his waistband still. The man made a shelter from clouded Air, a brief stint with Saidin making him very aware of the sweat on his skin and the dry heat of the sand. The shade was welcome though, and he drank a bit more water and made a pleased noise. The fabric about his head did a great job of catching the sweat.

This definitely beat being at the Grey Tower, but he was starting to worry about the Tinkers. It meant he cut his break short, not that Zarayne looked like she needed one. She looked like she went gallavanting around the place all the time as if it wasn't hot and dry. "Right, let's carry on," he said, seizing Saidin and creating another Gateway.

It was two Gateways later that they came across the camp.

At least, what remained of it.

"No!" Nate growled as the Gateway snapped shut behind him, marching into the small camp. The smell of dried blood hung in the air, wagons pillaged and emptied. Stray unwanted items like blankets, pillows, pans, were strewn everywhere. There were no bodies, but the bloodstains told Nate an unpleasant story. When it came to the Tinkers there was only ever going to be one outcome, and that was exactly what Nate was trying to avoid here.

"Blood and bloody ashes!" he swore as he looked around, quickly confirming that there was nobody here. Just him, the Yellow, and the sand. Where were the bodies? The leashes for their guard dogs - the only concession to self defence - were cut. "This is what happens when you sit around the Grey Tower doing nothing!" he told the camp. "While I was sat in meetings and writing notes and talking about my feelings, these innocent people were being slaughtered for their belongings. I should have been here with them!" The Asha'man kicked a bucket, but it didn't bring any satisfaction. "Stupid flaming man! Should've stayed out here in the first place, seen them through to Shara." Nate paced to and fro, fists clenching and unclenching, casting an angry gaze across the camp as if it was personally taunting him. In a way it was, as it reminded him of his inability to defend the people he'd said he would take care of as a Blue. What sort of man was he to go against his principles and write some bloody paperwork when he should be out in the field?
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Re: A Fox Is A Wolf Who Sends Flowers (Craig)

Post by Craig » May 26th, 2018, 1:52 pm

Zarayne
The sight of the destroyed camp caught Zarayne off-guard. She was accustomed to the sight of blood and injury, but that was within the civilised confines of the Infirmary. This was far different, the resulting injuries far more serious.

She could understand Nate's rage as he stormed around. The idea of wilfully letting people die was abhorrent. Zarayne recognised her own part in Nate's rant, so she stepped away, setting her focus on the scene around her instead of her companion.

Zarayne stepped into one of the wagons. The interior was just as bright as the outside. It was a home in miniature, decorated by a family with children. There were flowers painted on the interior walls, and marks against the doorframe where measurements of height had been carved. No blood, she realised. She entered the wagon fully, eyes looking for anywhere that a child may have hid.

After a couple of minutes, Zarayne reemerged. There was no child to be found.

The Yellow moved about the wagons, wary of stepping into another. He avoided Nate as well, not wishing to provoke him further.

Aside from a lack of bodies, there were other noteworthy absences. Well, there was one that, given their location, put Zarayne on edge. She approached Nate cautiously.

"Nate, there are no tracks. Bandits would have left footprints and horseshoe prints and other markings." She shook her head. "This wasn't the work of bandits. I think Aiel attacked the Lost Ones."
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Re: A Fox Is A Wolf Who Sends Flowers (Craig)

Post by Matty » May 26th, 2018, 9:22 pm

Nate When the Blue got over his initial wave of anger at the camp, he had to start thinking more practically about what had happened. He was on similar tracks to Zarayne, puzzling at where the bodies were, where anyone was, and where on earth the attackers had gone afterwards. He looked around with a frown, seeing no signs of tracks in any direction. People could Gate away if needed, the sand would not betray such a thing in the same way that cut grass might. Or if they were Aiel, they could well disappear without leaving any trace of which way they wenr.

The man had his arms folded, his hammer at his feet. When Zarayne approached and gave her thoughts on the matter he looked down at her with a scowl, though it wasn't entirely directed at her. "The Aiel? Why would they do such a thing to the Travelling Folk? I thought there was an agreement or something where they just left them alone." Nate scratched his beard and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath of the hot, stifling air. The Aiel had Wise Ones, some of whom could channel, though he had no idea what their motivation would be. He couldn't even say whether the Power was involved.

"Whoever it was, if they Gated away then there's no telling where they went. Same for if it was a bunch of sneaky Aiel. All we can do is follow the path further, and see if we can find anything that way. If not... then I guess I'll travel with the next lot of Tinkers and see if anyone attacks." The Blue didn't sound at all happy, and it showed in his hulking posture as he bent down to pick his hammer up. He hoisted it over his shoulder - no harness to strap it to his back in this heat - and he looked as if he wanted to hit someone with it. "I don't know if there's any Septs near here," he added thoughtfully. "Maybe we can find one of them, ask if they've noticed anything unusual." Or if they were hosting any Tinkers. It seemed unlikely, but Nate wanted answers.
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Re: A Fox Is A Wolf Who Sends Flowers (Craig)

Post by Craig » May 28th, 2018, 1:52 am

Zarayne
Jade-coloured eyes narrowed at the mention of 'sneaky' Aiel. It was a needlessly disparaging comment. Was this how Nate expressed anger, or did he take personal issue at her presence? Did he think she was being sneaky by joining him on this journey? Zarayne forced herself to let go of the issue, for now, but further comments along the same vein were likely to earn a harsh rebuke.

"I doubt any other Aiel we encounter would be willing to share that information," the Yellow stated plainly. "As for septs, I don't have a good knowledge of this part of the Three-Fold Land. The only place I know that's nearby is..." Her words died, yet she smiled. The one place she knew would never harbour murderers or bandits, Aiel or otherwise. They would also take poorly to her presence, and likely take offense at Nate's. Yet it was a place they could obtain answers from, if the Creator allowed their threads to be woven just so. Zarayne took a sip from her own waterskin as she considered what to say.

"The only place nearby that I know is sacred to the Aiel. As a wetlander, you are likely to be turned away, potentially by force. Only certain Aiel are allowed to approach the city, let alone enter it." She paused to take another look around the camp. Her stomach twisted until it felt like a solid knot. Zarayne didn't have to be a Blue to agree that the Lost Ones deserved justice.

Zarayne turned back to her companion. "I can take us there, but understand, it is a place of great importance to the Aiel. You will have to show patience and obedience to both my people and their traditions. Will you be able to manage that, Nate?"
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Elan wrote:Of course, the problems with observing a chain of command arise when the one in command decides to do something unspeakably idiotic, like taking off on his own for no discernible reason in the middle of enemy territory.

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Re: A Fox Is A Wolf Who Sends Flowers (Craig)

Post by Matty » May 29th, 2018, 9:11 pm

Nate It took a lot for Nate to not just tell Zarayne she was a bloody Aes Sedai now, not an Aiel, and wearing the bloody clothes didn't make her one. Was she going to gut him like a fish if he did something she didn't like in... wherever it was she was talking about? She called him a wetlander and made it clear he wasn't one of them but really, was she any better? Hardly, in Nate's eyes, otherwise she would have been out here already and not at the Grey Tower doing nothing all day.

Honestly the Blue didn't have very much patience for such talk from the wmoan. He wasn't going to stomp on in and insult everyone he came across, he did have a modicum of tact. "Look, is this special Aiel place gonna give us some answers to what happened here, or who we need to drag off by their collars? Because that's all I'm bothered about. I won't cause any trouble if the Aiel don't give me a reason to, how does that sound?" It was as good as he could give. "Is it even worth going if they're likely to turn me away?" he added. But it seemed to be his only option outside of waiting for the next lot of Tinkers, so he would have to trust the Yellow and what she was planning. He wasn't exactly an expert on the Aiel though he did try to use the right terminology where possible, and it wasn't as if he was waving a sword around. Some people were so ungrateful.

Alright then. Patience and obedience, starting..... now. The Blue exhaled slowly and thought about shoving his emotions into the void, letting them all settle in there as if he was going to channel. It was easier than addressing his frustration and impatience for the scenario he found himself in. "Tell me what to do and I'll do it," he said in a more measured tone, cool in the void.
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Re: A Fox Is A Wolf Who Sends Flowers (Craig)

Post by Craig » May 31st, 2018, 7:39 pm

Zarayne
A childish notion of abandoning Nate here certainly flickered through her head, but at least some of his anger was justified. Plus he wasn't aware of how seriously they were transgressing into Aiel society. This was Rhuidean. If the Grey Tower had an equivalent ritual or place, she could have made the comparison for his benefit.

"If the Wise Ones know who may be responsible, they will share that information, then we can go our own way. Violence against them is unacceptable; that's a core tenet of ji'e'toh. And keep your weapon to yourself unless you see me raising my shoufa." She touched the black cloth around her neck in case Nate didn't understand. "Some societies are too ready to dance the spears, so we would be wise not to provoke them. That is all you should need to know."

She took another sip from her waterskin, then scanned the sky for the alignment of the sun. "We travel in this direction." She pointed southeasterly.
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