Moments Lost, Though Time Remains [Dax Solo]

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Moments Lost, Though Time Remains [Dax Solo]

Post by Sunny » November 13th, 2017, 8:46 am

Dax
A palm brushed over Dax’s face and fingers combed through his hair. He flinched away from the sharp pain that blossomed when the touch grazed a certain place on the side of his head. “Shhh, shhh. That’s a good lad. Shh.” The hand shifted to smooth his hair away from his face with feather-light care. Tension and pain drained away further with each new touch. “All will be well, the Light please it be so.” Tension lurked beneath that warm reassurance. Fear. His stomach turned and he opened his eyes.

Dax found himself staring into a woman’s worried face. He stared at her first in fascination, and then in wordless wonder. She had high cheekbones and a well-shaped jaw, dark brows, pale eyes, and naturally red lips. Her beauty was marred by lines of worry that made her look older than she actually was. Her dark hair was pulled back with a red ribbon- the only touch of color in her otherwise dark attire.

“....Mamma?”

“Go back to sleep.” Ryanne leaned down and kissed his forehead and his nose filled with the scent of lavender. “You hit your head something good, my boy, but I’ll take care of you.” As she pulled away, he reached for her with a cry of fear.

“Don’t leave me!”


“Shh, Dakson. Mamma’s here. Mamma will always be here.”

~*~*~

Dax opened his eyes and immediately wished he hadn’t. He blinked rapidly, turning his face away from the sun to scrub at it with his forearm until the watering stopped. Muttering a variety of curses at himself for drinking too much yet again, the Tairen pushed himself upright and looked around.

He sat at the base of a stone pillar that seemed to tower into the sky from his vantage point. The smooth sides were inscribed with a variety of symbols that reminded him uncomfortably of some of the things Elia had written in her journals, but he couldn’t point to any one of them and say he knew what it meant. In front of him rose a hill banded in the colors of the seven traditional Ajahs. He turned and scrambled about to look the other direction; the movement caused his vision to swim, but he could tell the bands of color continued in an unbroken circle all the way around him.

He squeezed his eyes shut and scrubbed at his hair, then growled another inventive curse when his fingers caught on the lump just above his left ear. He explored it carefully, his fingers finding the rough ends of sutures without too much effort. No Healing, then. That simply piled mystery on top of insult and injury; muttering to himself, the Blademaster pulled himself upright against the stone. It was taller than he was, he realized.

The weight of his sword hung at his hip, and his cloak at his back. He checked his purse and found coin and a pair of Elia’s earrings, one of them broken. He had meant to get them repaired for her before- Before what? Thinking about it made his head hurt worse. At least he hadn't been robbed.

Stumbling clumsily and muttering the whole time, the Gaidin climbed out of the bowl-shaped divot in the ground. Eventually he stood -or rather, crouched while he panted for breath- in a clearing only a few spans from the edge of a cliff facing north. Lake Somal spread before him, glimmering in the mid-morning sun, unmistakable in its stately elegance. Its still waters reflected the deep blue sky and the endless trees marching along its shore perfectly, a mirror of reality that seemed to continue forever.

It reflected the trees marching along its shore.

Its entire shore.

Dax wet his lips. Then he reached for the flask strapped to his thigh and drank its fiery contents in one draft.
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Re: Moments Lost, Though Time Remains [Dax Solo]

Post by Sunny » December 6th, 2017, 8:00 am

I know she won't mind, she won't even know
She'll be dancing with a memory, crying teardrops of her own

“Want another?”

Dax nodded, mute, and held two fingers up without shifting from his intense perusal of the tabletop. A few minutes later a small tumbler and a mug appeared, pushed by be-ringed fingers several shades darker than the wood beneath them. He picked up the tumbler and examined the amber liquid within for a moment. Then he drank it down, blinking shocked tears back as it burned down his throat. Then he reached for the beer.

“You won’t find what you’re looking for at the bottom of that cup any more than you found it in the last seven, handsome.” Sultry and caring were an odd mix; Dax’s mouth twisted into an approximation of a smile before he looked up at the owner. Blue eyes lingered appreciatively over perfect curves, momentarily fell down an expanse of magnificent golden-brown bosom, then slid up to the woman’s face as smoothly as if no distraction had ever occurred. Amarie did not seem to mind. She had a full mouth that smiled easily, big caramel eyes, and thick hair that fought to escape the green scarf she had wrapped around it.

“Who says I’m looking for anything?” He shook his head. “Maybe I just like to drink.” He put the mug to his lips.

You won’t find what you’re looking for… No, he wouldn’t. Not in the cup, not anywhere. Insofar as he could gather, the world he wandered had never heard of the Grey Tower. What that meant, he couldn’t begin to imagine. Perhaps he had hit his head and the last week had been a dream. Perhaps the Shadow had tried something, or Elia had done some jiggery-pokery with the One Power that he couldn’t begin to comprehend, or….or maybe he had actually legitimately lost his mind. He wasn't sure it mattered; regardless of reason, he certainly wasn't getting out of the nightmare any time soon.

Amarie leaned forward and rose oil, heavy and sweet, pulled him back to the tavern. “Well you’re awfully dark and mysterious in that walnut of yours. Lonely, too. I can help with the last, you know.” Her hand crept up to cover the one he had left on the table; heat and tingles traveled up his arm from the contact. The Tairen maintained his bemused silence, and resisted the urge to pull- himself away, or her closer, either was as likely as the other. “Works better than alcohol, you know.” Ebony fingers laced through his own and gave a suggestive tug. “What do you say?”

He considered the proposition, tongue caught between his teeth as he met her gaze. Then he pressed a silver coin against the table and slid it toward her with two fingers. “You are beautiful,” the Tairen told her, silently cursing himself when his voice wavered. “But I have a- a wife, you understand. I can’t- won’t-” his breath hissed through his teeth as he searched for words.

The thought of explaining Elia to a stranger overwhelmed him more than this strange place he had found himself in. Four years had to count for something even if they still danced around the word ‘forever’ as if it might bite them. Elia had a color and her scent kept him up at night and somewhere...somehow...she was caring for their children. He might never see her again; the least he could do was honor her memory by calling her wife.

He looked down and away, hiding his face lest Amarie see his thoughts on his face. She tucked the coin away, her grip on his fingers loosening into something closer to a hug- if hands alone could do such a thing. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” she said. “Have you been apart for long?”

“You don’t have to pretend to care anymore, you already know I’m not worth the time,” Dax snapped, abruptly angered by her curiosity and wanting nothing more than to be away as fast as his feet could take him.

The former Tinker tsked softly. “You want some cheese with that wine, honey?” The Tairen looked up, surprised by her tone. Amarie arched an eyebrow at him and for a moment Dax felt like nothing so much as a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “That was some grade-A self-pitying crap,” she informed him. He scowled, pulling himself upright. It wasn’t like that!

Amarie shook her head, crazy curls taking on a life of their own as she moved. “Now you’re going to pout at me with those big blue eyes, aren’t you? Do yourself a favor and grow a pair. Your lady friend deserves that much at least.” The woman patted him on the cheek without waiting for a response, kissed him on the forehead, and sashayed away, wiggling her fingers at him over her shoulder.

Dax swore under his breath and reached for his drink. As it turned out there was something he wanted at the bottom of the cup after all: oblivion.
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Re: Moments Lost, Though Time Remains [Dax Solo]

Post by Sunny » January 9th, 2018, 7:06 am

The people of this world knew his name.

The first time he became aware of this fact, Dax was sitting outside a tavern in Aringill with his feet propped up on the table in front of him and a mug of beer in his lap. It was a pleasant day, all things considered, with the sounds of a market a few streets away carrying on the light wind, a warm sun to ease the tension in his shoulders, and a few extra coins in his pocket from a ring fight the night before.

So the Tairen sat, chin planted on his chest and gaze firmly on his drink, and tried to think of home. Elia came to him in his dreams sometimes, and Tomas and Thea, and even Ravak with all his bluster. At night he could see them, but during the day they felt infinitely far away. Did Thea have blue eyes or brown? Was Ravak’s missing finger on his left hand or his right? Thus distracted by trying to put together his memories, Dax almost didn’t hear the voices rising inside the building behind him. Then he heard his name.

“Dax? He said his name was Dax. Torellion?”

“He didn’t give a bloody last name,” the tavern keeper said irritably. “I wouldn’t even know his first if not for Megna.”

Megna the tavern maid was beautiful, sassy, curvy, perfect...and a third of Dax’s age. There had been a time that would have been an attraction rather than a deterrent, but it had passed while Katrie still wore his ring. Beyond that, Elia was waiting for him; she had to be. Elia, who would look at him with those green eyes of hers when he told her what he had done. She probably wouldn’t say a word...or maybe she would yell and throw things as she did sometimes when angry. It didn’t matter, really; either way the gray-white whiplash of her hurt would cut through him like a blade.

That was why Dax refused to flirt with Megna of the big brown eyes, much to her chagrin. He had given her his name, however, when he turned he down for the last time. It had seemed only polite, given how intently she had pursued him. Now, however, it felt as foolish as the intimacy he had avoided.

The door opened and boots crunched across pebbles. “Are you Dax Torellion?” A man’s voice asked. It was the same man from the conversation inside. Dax lifted his head and twisted to look up at him through half-lowered lids. The stranger was of average height, but wide, with thick black hair, a bristling beard, and small, pale eyes. He wore workman’s gear -nothing exceptional- and no visible weapons..

“Who’s asking?” Dax Gaidin had replaced Dax the sellsword as his dominant identity at some point, but the cautious question came naturally regardless. Smart mercenaries, the ones who wanted to live, were careful with their names. Certainly they were more careful than Dax had been since he woke up in this world with no Grey Tower, no Elia, no friends, and no hope.

“My name is Senclar Lebann.”

“Is that supposed to mean something important?” Dax returned his attention to his drink. Deliberate arrogance sometimes got better results than good manners. He had learned that first from watching Jem, then again as a fifteen year old punk with a stolen sword he had no idea how to use.

“It means money...a great deal of it...in exchange for your particular services, Torellion.”

The Tairen swirled his beer around in its cup and took a drink. It had gone flat and sour, but he swallowed anyway. “I’m listening,” he said, dropping his feet to the ground. “Have a seat.”

***

Senclar paid in advance, which was both unheard of and exceptionally well received. He asked Dax to hunt a man named Dayne Ocara. His target led the Gaidin on a merry chase up the river, across the Caralain Grass, and nearly to the Black Hills. There he took on a small band of body guards and dispatched them with laughable ease. No one expected a mercenary to fight as Dax did, especially not on some desolate stony plain in the middle of nowhere.

Dayne was a scrap of a human, scrawny and pale. Dax hesitated with his fingers wrapped around the man’s throat, held back by some muddy-brown feeling he didn’t immediately understand. ”What did you do to Senclar?” he asked. He hadn’t asked for details when accepting the job; they hadn’t mattered. Now he had the man in his grip, however, Dax found that he needed to know whether this was a murder or an execution.

“Not to Senclar. Oh no. His son though? Well...” His captive's eyes were wild and his tongue rambled; as his story unfolded the Tairen’s gaze faded from curiosity to blistering ice. It seemed Dax had also forgotten how satisfying it was to simply squeeze the life out of a thing that no longer deserved to exist. It was good to watch the light go out of the squirming monster’s eyes and even better to toss him aside like the refuse he was.

Dax washed his hands in a nearby stream and walked away.

***

It turned out that people didn’t just know his name; there was actually another version of himself wandering about.

Dax found himself by accident while walking through the docks of Illian toward a new work opportunity. The other him had a girl with dark hair trapped between himself and a wall, one arm pressed against the wall above her head while he talked. His sleeves were rolled up and the skin on his forearms was devoid of ink. It was odd to see his arms without herons. Indeed, save for a few unmistakable marks of age he might have been the same man who fled to the Grey Tower for sanctuary decades before. Dax’s skin crawled just looking at him. Me? Him? What is the appropriate word?

The Gaidin decided he would rather not find out what would happen if the other noticed his presence. He turned on his heel and pulled his hood up despite the heat. It took most of his remaining money to buy space on the next ship leaving, but he took it. He called himself Stefan after that, unless the person knew him. He knew himself too well to presume the other him would not come looking for a supposed impersonator.

***

Job followed job, life got a little easier with a flow of coin to support him, and Dax lost track of time. The world actually seemed to move differently here, spinning ever faster beneath his feet with every step he took. His loneliness faded a little beneath the guise of familiar routine. He did not quite stop thinking of home, but it no longer consumed him. Even meeting Ria -or perhaps more accurately, this other version of Ria who was missing an eye, had clearly had intimate acquaintance with his other body, and had a stunning right hook- did not change the distance he felt when he thought of the Grey Tower. If anything, it made ‘home’ feel even more alien.

***

It was fall, and Dax walked through the neatly ordered streets of Cairhien toward a mansion -rightly a palace- that belonged to House Damodred. He despised the machinations and gossip that went with working for Cairhien, but he could tolerate a little bit of verbal sparring for gold in his purse- and Lady Leilaine paid more than well for his services.

His pace slowed as he approached an intersection some distance from his destination. Dax knew exactly where he was and the knowledge burned sharp and hot and red in his chest. If he turned right and walked a little ways he would reach the Riatin estate. He stared up that street and reminded himself that Lady Aikaterine Riatin could hardly recognize a lowly mercenary on sight, not in this world. She was third in line for the Cairhienin throne, had trained with Aes Sedai...she was, in short, everything his Katrie had never wanted to be. Did she really want it, here, or had it been forced upon her?

The need to see her one last time, even if she gave him blank eyes and a pretty noble’s smile, was suddenly all-consuming. His treacherous feet made the terrible decision for him and he began the long walk up the hill.

A few minutes later a carriage barreled down the street completely oblivious to the humans that might be in its path. Dax flattened himself against the wall with a muffled curse. He could hear raised voices over the rapid hoofbeats- a woman, a man, another woman. Abruptly someone inside unlatched the window and threw something out; the square object landed on the smooth stone and slid to land neatly at Dax’s feet. When the carriage finally rounded a corner and disappeared from sight, the Tairen looked down to see what had been so rudely discarded.

A book, roughly the length of his forearm, bound in red leather.

All the breath left his body in a shocked sort of oomph and Dax dropped to his knees in the dust without care for bruises. Rough fingers scrambled through the dirt to caress the delicately embossed cover of that book, tugging it toward him with reverent care. He traced the decorative woven frame, the scripted title, the whimsical tree and the lovers standing with their fingertips pressed together above the still waters of a small pool. He knew it all. He knew every single flaming detail. The Tairen gathered it into his lap, opened the cover. It fell open to an illustration of a woman talking to a snake through an oddly twisted doorway made of redstone. The story that went along with it was hand written in a painfully familiar hand; even the ink blots were the same as he remembered.

“Light help me, how?” Dax gasped, slapping the cover down once more and gathering the precious object against his chest. His eyes traveled from the ground where it had landed, along the street and up, until it landed on a tall wall with a massive banner bearing five gold stars. Of course. Katrie. She had made that book for him at the Grey Tower, so it only made sense she would make it here, as well. Had she made it for this version of him, or for another?

His mind spun at the possibilities and his heart ached from the force of the memories pouring through him, but in the end Dax did something wholly unexpected: He cradled the book to his body like a child and returned to the inn he was staying at. Whoever she was in this world, Katrie had thrown the book away here as well, and he was bloody well going to keep it.

That night he dreamed of snakes and foxes, impossible doors, and Elia’s delicate hands stroking through his hair.
OOC: Ria and Dax are getting their own entire separate thread. I'll edit this to reflect any changes that thread inflicts upon the story line. :)
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Remember a day before today - a day when you were young.
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