A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

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Locke
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A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Locke » July 15th, 2020, 6:05 pm

Alric was a goat rutting coward. He knew he was. People saw the sword and the soldier’s bearing and assumed he was brave. No, a brave man would have returned to Mayene a decade ago. A less selfish man would have written Lorenza in the intervening years. Even now, he was supposed to be returning to the Tower on urgent business, instead he sat at the bar in a strange new tavern in Hama Valon’s Old Town called simply “Inn”. He had stepped in simply for some liquid courage, but the short haired woman at the bar mentioned that they distilled several varieties of their own brandy. Better yet, they had recently bought the building next door and converted it into a brewery and were ageing their beers in brandy casks. He ordered a stout that had been aged in a cherry brandy cask and tried to psych himself up to go see Andra. Already feeling warmth blossoming in his stomach, he decided he’d try another one of their incredibly strong beers.

Some time later and he’d tried every beer on the menu and was working his way through their brandies. Along the line he’d been joined by a handful of equally drunk merchants. After losing a fist full of gold at cards, Alric sat with the men in the corner trying to teach them a bawdy drinking song from his army days.

“No, no, it’s ‘Ah, yee maiden fair, auburn hair and legs to there’,” he corrected one of the merchants. As he gestured brandy sloshed across his hand.

“Ah so ya like em fair do ya, Southerner?” one of the merchants asked between hiccups.

“Fair, dark, doesn’t matter,” Alric said with a grin, still gesturing with his cup. “I just like a woman who’ll put up with me.” His grin slipped, “Oh blood and bloody— What time is it?”

“A few hours past dark,” one of the more sober merchants said. “You got somebody waiting for you? Sounds more like a wife than a maiden though? Fair or dark.”

“Dark, and she’s not a wife or a maiden. She’d be better off if she’d forgotten me, but alas. I need her.” He downed the rest of his brandy and pushed himself to his feet.

“Ah ha, a lost love, go get her!” Another said. They all cheered and thumped Alric’s shoulders.

“Yeah, something like that,” he said ryely as he fished some coins out to pay for his drinks.


Alric tottered out into the surprisingly cool night air. “Ok, business time. Go to the tower. Find Andra. Beg for her forgiveness. Forgiveness or no, ask for her help. Hop through a gateway back to the Black Company. Simple? Simple.” Feeling a new sense of purpose, Alric straightened his back and took a step.

The world swayed and his brain sloshed around like a cup of brandy and Alric realised he wouldn’t be walking to the Tower. He’d come too far to turn back now. Tomorrow’s sober Alric would be a coward again. He couldn’t trust that guy. He needed to go there right away. So he weaved a gateway that opened only a few feet in front of him. He staggered though. It was enough to learn the area and go wherever he wanted. And he wanted to go to the Tower… the weaves for his second gateway seemed to slide aside. He tried again, but they still couldn’t fix on the Tower. A third try proved he couldn’t reach the grounds either. Alric added idiot to his list of flaws.

“There’s a light blinded ward,” he reminded himself. He could travel to the edge and walk but that would be a pain. All those stairs? All the beer he’d had tonight though that would be a horrible idea. The brandy had a better idea though. Alric began the weave for a gateway this time questing along the edge of the ward. How high did it go? Yes. It didn’t go up forever. Instead it was more of a dome.
“Perfect,” he slurred as a gateway popped open looking down on the Tower. If he’d remembered correctly, Andra’s balcony should be directly below him. Well if you didn’t count several hundred feet of open air. But it beat walking, or at least that’s what the brandy said. So he stepped through.



Wind rushed by him as the tower rushed up to meet him. It was like cliff diving back home in Mayene, except there wasn’t a vast blue ocean to break his fall. Weaving air and water, he caused the air to slowly solidify around him like a setting gelatin. Too fast and he’d probably smoosh himself, but too slow and he’d land with too much force. As his fall slowed a powerful gust knocked him off course. There were unpredictable updrafts and currents around tall buildings at this altitude. He amended his idiot label to say bloody idiot. And channeled a jet of air to push himself back onto course.

He checked his altitude and let out a squawk as he saw the grey stone balcony approaching faster than he had been prepared for.

“Shit, shit, shit,” he stammered out frantically weaving a cushion of air. He still landed hard staggering forward and thumping into the door. He really hoped he had the right room and wasn’t waking up a sitter or something. Standing with a sheepish grin, he dusted himself off and released the Source. The sheepish grin turned to peels of laughter. That had been so much fun. He wondered why people didn’t do that more often. Brandy soaked grin still plastered on his face, Alric stood straight backed and rapped at the door.
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Bella
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Bella » July 16th, 2020, 5:42 pm

Andraste Alhandra was used to a lot of things. After years on the road and then the deaths of her husband and their lover all those years back, and then years in the Grey Tower and later in the Red Ajah... Well, she had gotten used to a lot. What she hadn't ever had to get used to, however, was loud noises on her balcony.

She did love that balcony, but namely because it was always, well, quiet...

Now, that was far from the case. Dressed in a dressing gown of deep red, she tilted her head and stared at the door. It was too dark to see much, so she embraced Saidar and approached cautiously. She was ready to set any intruder on fire but then... Did intruders usually knock? She didn't think so.

Weaving a ball of light, she didn't rightly believe was she saw through the glass.

Andra yanked open the door. "Alric?!"

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Locke
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Locke » July 16th, 2020, 7:11 pm

“Mind if I dro—” his slurred greeting cut off abruptly as goosebumps broke out on his arms and night turned to day. Blinking at the sudden light, Alric stepped back shielding his eyes and reflexively seized saidin. As soon as Alric’s eyes adjusted to the light the Void shattered and the weave for a shield dissolved.

She was right there in front of him. Perfectly put together well past evening, she looked amazing. Well she always looked amazing. Tonight… the gown… his departure… his guilt.

“A-Andra,” he choked out, heart in his throat. He wanted to reach out and touch her. Make sure she was real and not just a bizarre side effect of the brandy. His hand twitched by his side.

He quickly straightened his uncharacteristically disheveled coat. Here she was dressed for a ball in her own quarters and he just looked like some drunk lout. It wasn’t far from the truth, but it didn’t stop Alric from feeling judged and found wanting.

He wanted to hang his head, retreat in on himself, but no. He couldn’t. He was facing down a cavalry charge now but Captain Aurella wouldn’t retreat from the battlefield.

Standing straight backed, one hand resting on the pommel of his sword, he forced himself to meet her eyes. Those deep brown eyes that had taken him years ago. They were wide with shock, but he knew they’d be narrowed with anger any minute now. He deserved it. He didn’t deserve her. He’d proven that by leaving.

“Andra, I’m s—” the words died on his tongue. No lets not open old wounds. She’s better off like this. Lets keep this reunion strictly business. “I need help. You’re the only one I can trust with this.”

Without really thinking about it, he slightly adjusted his stance, one foot back and slightly pivoted outwards. A stance every swordsman, pugilist, and man at arms would instantly recognize. It said: I’m ready to roll with the blow.
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Bella » July 18th, 2020, 8:05 pm

Fisticuffs weren't really Andra's style, however. She stared at this man, drunkenly standing on her balcony, and just arched one brow. She had the perfected look of a disappointed wife, although in this case, a disappointed lover was more accurate. Either way, the small pursing of her full lips and the high-rise of one dark brow broadcast her feelings strongly.

"Better step in off the balcony," she said, moving back just enough to gesture him inside. "We wouldn't want a strong wind to knock your sorry arse right to the Tower grounds."

She waited until he was inside and then shut the doors behind them, subconsciously tightening the sash to her dressing gown and striding across the sitting room like she owned the place. Because, oh yes, these were indeed her quarters. Hers alone, given she had neither warder nor lover and hadn't had the latter since...

Well, since the woolhead standing before her.

With her back to him, she heated some tea. "It's been a long time and you show up at my door in such an unorthodox fashion," she said coolly as she poured a cup full. "You say you need my help." Now she turned around. Clearly not offering him either seat or refreshment, sipping her tea with a hint of ice around her expression. "What with?"

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Locke
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Locke » July 19th, 2020, 11:52 am

Alric suppressed a sign and followed. He felt like a recruit who had just barged in on his commanding officer. Treating her like a superior officer seemed less likely to end in physical or emotional pain than interacting as lovers. No, he wasn’t going to delude himself. Former lovers.

Maybe he could fix that. No. He shoved the thought into the Flame and let the Void envelope him. He stood before her, straight backed at parade rest. This was just a normal briefing. He’d given countless in his military career. He wanted to beg for forgiveness, but no this wasn’t about him anymore.

“Pardon the intrusion, Andraste Sedai,” he said, eyes fixed ahead. “Firstly, this is a potential Tower matter, more specifically a Red Ajah matter.” Was that too formal? Best to err on the side of formality in these situations. “It’s not a personal affair,” he continued. “I wouldn’t want to bother you with something like that.”

He paused to organize his thoughts, but decided to cut straight to the point. “I have reason to believe somebody's paying good coin to deliver them women and girls who can channel. Altaran bandits have taken to riding onto farms and forcing all the women to drink a tea I’d bet my boots was forkroot and taking away anyone who became drowsy. It’s probably been going on for several months at this point.” He paused for questions and to let her process what he’d said.
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Bella » July 23rd, 2020, 3:26 pm

Andra couldn't tell if she was comforted or disappointed by the very-formal presentation. Did she want him to ask her forgiveness or explain where he'd been and why he'd left? Or did she prefer it this way, like they had never been anything at all to each other...

Okay, she didn't like that last one. She swallowed a sip of tea to cover that reaction while she listened to him. By the time he stopped, the topic of his words were enough to distract her (for the moment) against her own emotions. She arched a brow and tilted her head, somewhat like a predator about to strike.

"What reason?" she finally asked, pursing her lips slightly. "What evidence have you found that brings you to this conclusion?"

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Locke
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Locke » July 23rd, 2020, 5:07 pm

Alric pursed his lips for a moment, debating how much of his dealings over the past few years was actually relevant versus how much would just make her even angrier.

“I was assisting a local noblewoman with a bandit problem. Lady Ellise of house Freitag, if it’s relevan. When my men and I assaulted one of the larger camps we found a handful of captives. All young women. The youngest maybe twelve. They told us about the tea. Other farmer’s we questioned later verified that. Sadly none of the bandits who survived the fight had any authority in the group. They’re in Lady Ellise’s custody. They didn’t know much more than that somebody named Nils had been paying the bandits a decent bit of silver for the captives and providing them with the tea leaves. Nobody specifically said anything about Channelers but It’s not much of a leap. I don’t know what this Nils person wants but I’m not going to let it happen,” Alric concluded fixing Andra with a firm stair.

He quickly broke eye contact. What was all of that about? His simple briefing had turned into him making proclamations like some light blinded hero. At least he hadn’t said anything like for justice or other cliches from a gleeman’s tail. For a moment, years ago, he’d been foolish enough to let somebody see him as a hero, to look up to him as one. He’d been deluding himself back then. Alric didn’t know what he was, but he wasn’t a hero.
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Bella » July 24th, 2020, 10:50 pm

Andraste's dark eyes held his while he spoke, and her visage remained impassive. Cold. Formal. Inwardly, she couldn't help the wrestling of her emotions over it all. She wanted to punch him in the nose and watch him bleed, and yet she wanted to kiss him until they both lost all sense of time and air.

Conflicting, that.

His story was a very discomfiting one, though, and it was enough--if just barely--to distract her from the torrent raging up and down between her brain and her heart. "What help do you seek from me?" she asked, although this question came out...softer. A little less pointed than she had been aiming for. Emotion slipped into it. Just a bit.

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Locke
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Locke » July 28th, 2020, 3:52 pm

His thumb stroked the pommel of his sword, the feel of the warm steel distant in the Void. He opened his mouth to speak then closed it again. Into the Flame with you. He tossed distracting emotions into the Flame like corpses into a bonfire.

Meeting her eyes, those deep brown eyes, he tried again. “Well, I want to work together to solve this. We’d go back to Altara and begin asking questions. I don’t have a fully fleshed out plan, but
you’re a Red, rogue Channelers are what get you out of bed in the morning, right? I could have gone to anybody in your Ajah but, I— “ he took a deep breath, “I trust you. I trust you more than anybody else at the Tower. Who else would I turn to?”
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Bella
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Location: New England

Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Bella » July 31st, 2020, 1:20 am

Some of the ice in her expression and her posture melted, against her better judgement and most of her will. His damned eyes had always gotten her her. Andraste pursed her lips in her best, last defense against feeling anything for her presence or his words, but even that began to fail her.

"I should gut you wear you stand, you know," she finally said. "I'd rather say you went somewhat rogue on me, didn't you." She blew out a breath and then set her teacup down, crossing to her red brocade couch and half-flopping to a seat. "I will help you. Of course I will. You know I will." She sighed. "When do we leave?"

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