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

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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 » November 27th, 2022, 3:27 pm

“That kind of flies in the face of the whole ‘lying’ thing doesn’t it?” Alric said, smile lines creasing his face.

Crunching through the autumn leaves, Alric walked along at Andra’s side as she rode. After some time, a shape stirred behind a tree and a man in a brown cloak, lowering a crossbow, stepped out into the open. “Captain Aurella, you’re back,” the look out said, resting his crossbow against his shoulder.

“Any trouble at camp, Kamden?” Alric asked, giving the soldier’s gear a visual once over.

“Well, Whyle had cooking duty last night,” Kamden said with a meaningful look.

“I honestly don’t know what’s worse, Whyle who dumps half an apothecary’s lab in the stew and still doesn’t watch the heat, or Moors who thinks salt is too spicy,” Alric said, thumping the man’s shoulder in commiseration.

“Hey, sir,” Kamden said, changing the subject, “Is this–” he trailed off meaningfully.

Alric followed his eyes and both of their gazes locked on Andraste.
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Bella » November 27th, 2022, 10:52 pm

Andraste watched the exchange with quiet curiosity, noticing subtle differences between the way Alric interacted with this man compared to how he interacted with her or with others she'd seen him with...in the past, at least. She knew that time changed people, and it had been a while, though she wasn't letting her thoughts linger on that.

"I'm Andraste," she introduced herself simply, but with a subtle-yet-charming smile that (if she were being less-than-humble) had charmed more than a few persons into buying from her and her husband back in her merchant days. "I'm a friend of your commander's, and I've come to be of use, if I may."

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

Post by Locke » November 29th, 2022, 4:37 pm

“As you were,” Alric said, stepping past Kamden with a simple nod.

“G’day, sir,” Kamden simply said and began making bird calls to signal friendlies approaching.

The Company wasn’t much for saluting, and Alric hadn’t ever forced it. By his reasoning, he already had too much on his hands teaching them to march and fight properly, besides a salute at the wrong time could easily mark one out for death. In a similar vein, the Black Company’s officers and sergeants only wore colored armbands to mark them out from regular soldiers.

After a few more minutes of walking, the couple finally reached the Black Company's camp. They heard the camp before they saw it. Just over a hundred men and horses going about morning duties, wasn’t exactly easy to hide. Instead they relied on centuries such as Kamden to alert them of any danger.

It wasn’t long before tasks began to be lowered and heads began turning in their direction. A beautiful woman on horseback riding into camp was sure to turn a few heads. That and the return of their Captain.

Alric decided against calling any of them out for staring, instead flagging over a soldier who didn’t look too busy to take Andraste’s horse to the horse lines. Once that was sorted, he led her through the neat rows of small tents of bleached linen towards the command tent, his tent.

His tent wasn’t any larger than that of any of the others, he simply didn’t have to share it. Instead the center of the tent was given over to a low camp desk. A bed roll and saddlebags were shoved up against the wall.

Before Alric could offer Andraste a comfortable spot of grass to sit on, A stocky Cairhienin was poking his head in.

“I heard you’d returned,” Sergeant Demoux said before a way too knowing grin split his face. “I’m happy for you,” he said simply.

A litany of retorts died on his tongue. Demoux had always had a bad habit of unexpected sincerity. Instead he said, “Havar Demoux, meet Andraste Alhandra.”

“She’s like you,” the sergeant said in a low voice, stepping into the tent.

“Yeah, she’s going to help us deal with the… girls situation. Go get Sorren and Hallid so we can figure out how to brief the men before more rumors start circulating.

Once Demoux left on his task, Alric unrolled his bed roll and offered it to Andra to sit on. “It’s not much, but welcome to the Black Company, they’re good men, if still a little rough around the edges as soldiers.” An unexpected pit of dread was beginning to form in his stomach, he’d lead these boys against bandits for just over a year but he knew eventually they’d face more than bandit steel.
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Bella » December 2nd, 2022, 11:50 pm

Andraste followed him, allowing him to take and keep the lead. These were his people, after all. Being on the outside wasn't really a feeling she felt or let get to her. She was here beside him, and she had her own role to fill. That purpose was enough for her, and besides, being an Aes Sedai out in the world often meant being on the outside looking in.

Once inside his tent, the took the offered seat and crossed her legs over each other in a posture that one missed being able to do (at least in polite company) in a dress. She looked up at him with a curious, discerning gaze. He seemed a little uneasy, but she wasn't quite sure the source of it. She didn't think it was her presence here, but maybe?

"What can I do to help for the time being?" she asked with a smile, by way of luring him a little away from his solo thoughts.

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

Post by Locke » December 3rd, 2022, 12:17 am

“Kick me if I do anything stupid, I guess,” Alric said with a half smile, before removing his sword belt to sit next to her. “I’m just worried. I know I should be worried about the girls the bandits have been taking, but I’m more worried about the Company. They do well enough against bandits. We even went up against some lord’s men once, but this is different. I don’t know how yet, but channelers are probably involved.”


He rested his elbows on his knees and stared at his camp desk as if he could read the papers inside. “This feeling’s nothing new, I had this feeling the first time I had to command troops in battle. It gets a little easier, but there’s always that knowledge that you’ll have to pay the butcher. I’ve talked to gray haired generals who still get the jitters. It’s just worse than it's been in a long time. I’ve done what I could to prepare them without telling them what I was preparing them for, but before we found those villages with the missing girls, I thought it was just a pet project. But now I just can’t stop thinking about Whyle catching a stray fireball. He knows more about herbs than most wise women, just not which ones taste good in a stew. Or it could be Demoux. Havar’s the reason I even lived long enough to come to the tower, let alone survive my first few weeks in the army. It could be any of them, but I’m not going to coddle them, we’re all soldiers.” He looked over at Andraste. There was a bit of darkness behind his smile as he said, “Besides, most of us got our start spilling blood because some lord or other was mad at another lord. Stopping some shady people from kidnapping young channelers is a way better cause to kill or die for than most soldiers get.”
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Bella » December 8th, 2022, 7:38 pm

Andraste listened without interruption, her dark eyes remaining on his face while he spoke--even when he looked away from her. She smiled a little, although it was a sad expression. She didn't share all the thoughts and memories behind that look, though, because some did not have a place in this moment.

"There was a reason you came to find me," she said significantly, "and we both knew it wasn't 'cause you missed me. Or, not just that." Her eyes lit for a moment, but there was no rancor to them. Simply earnestness. "We won't lie to one another about that.

"You needed a Saidar channeler for this, and now you have one. We cannot guarantee what happens in a battle, but non-channelers will fare far better in a fight like this if you have a male and a female channeler in your arsenal. Not only are our weaves useful, but knowing what's coming from the other side is too. That will go a long way."

She took his hand, curling her fingers around his. "All we can do for any fight, of any sort, is learn and prepare as much as we can, and take what advantages we are able to. You're doing that."

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

Post by Locke » December 18th, 2022, 3:20 pm

“You’re giving me way more credit than I deserve, dear,” Alric said, feeling the dark mood recede slightly. “But you’re right, with both of us, the Company’s got a better shot.” He leaned against her and sat in silence for a moment. Finally he opened his mouth to say something, when a rap at his tent post.

“Enter,” Alric said, sitting back up.

Havar returned with two men in tow. They were younger than the Cairhienen, but older than the average Black Company soldier.

“So this is your expert, Sir?” dark haired, wiry Sorren asked as he studied Andra through narrowed eyes.

“Yeah,” Alric said without elaboration, “And you, Hallid, got any issues?”

“No, sir,” said the brown skinned man, his cheerful, schoolboy grin at odds with the scar on his cheek.

“Good, so the plan’s remaining the same for now, at least on the strategic level. We’re just going to kick the anthill and see what comes out. Thing is, they’re not just kidnapping girls for the usual reasons.” It twisted his gut that there was a usual reason. “I mean, if they were, we’d still be preparing to go collect heads, but it’s not. These bastards are specifically looking for girls who can learn to channel or who can without knowing. They’re looking for girls who can become Aes Sedai. This isn’t a method any of the Towers use to get recruits, and if White Cloaks were involved, I’m pretty sure they’d just ride their own happy arses into town to cause trouble. So that only leaves rogue channelers or at least a potential rogue channeler as a buyer. Got any questions?” He paused and added, “For either of us.”
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Bella » December 22nd, 2022, 2:38 am

A certain tension filled the tent, and Andraste was almost certain it had to do with her. Did they have any questions? Oh, she could read it all over their faces that they had many questions, but no one could seem to figure out if they were actually the sort to be permitted under that offer.

Who was this strange woman? How did their captain know her? How could he be sure he could trust her? What, precisely, was she an "expert" in?

Andra smiled enigmatically and met their gazes as the silence dragged out. Really, it was only a few moments at most, but it was so weighted that is felt to take much longer. She knew she wouldn't break first, though. She couldn't answer any of the questions that they really wanted to ask without revealing information that she knew Alric did not yet want to reveal.

"No, sir," they finally side, bowing their heads and then leaving.

"My reason for being here can't be hidden from them forever," she commented once enough time had passed for them to walk away from the tent. She glanced sidelong at Alric.

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

Post by Locke » January 30th, 2023, 4:11 am

Alric let out a sigh and rubbed his temples. “You’re right, dear. I need to just tell them, and hope at least most of the company sticks around. Or that nobody gets the bright idea to try turning us in to the White Cloaks.” He added the last part as a bitter aside.

Resting his head on Andra’s shoulder, Alric took a moment alone with his thoughts. Finally, he spoke up. “The idea that you don’t need to tell grunts anything is a load of dross. It’s really hard to get men to hold a line if they don’t know why. Then again it’s doubly hard if they know why and think the reason is dumb. You find yourself doing quick math. Something like if p, or your pay, times the likelihood of getting cut down by your own side is less than or equal to the likelihood of getting killed in battle divided by how good of a reason you’re being asked to hold this line in the first place you’re probably not sticking around. You end up having to do similar math if your commanders come and you to do something against your conscience. That was a lot of words to say, I’ll tell them. Might as well, tell everybody at once, so rumors don’t spread and grow.
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Re: A tomcat's return (At Andra Sedai from a certain failed scholar's apprentice)

Post by Bella » February 3rd, 2023, 10:22 pm

Andraste leaned her head against his, listening attentively. She followed what he said, but yes, she came to the same conclusion that it was perhaps more words than needed for where it ended up. "If any of them are going to be a problem when it comes to channelers, then they'll have a problem with the mission overall. It's better to know before we're in a fight.

"If they turn on us, it's better it happen now than later." She was quiet for a moment. "Think deeply, though. You know these people and have worked with them. Are there any you truly believe may do so?"

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