Into the den of the lioness (Attn: Miahala Sedai)

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Jack
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Into the den of the lioness (Attn: Miahala Sedai)

Post by Jack » July 25th, 2020, 6:56 pm

Malcym Ashe It was early afternoon when Malcym first entered the Hall of the Green Ajah. The soldier was dressed in drin’far’ji grey, sword at his side. He gripped the hilt of the blade as if it were a talisman that could protect him from the meeting to come.

The other hand held a piece of parchment, slightly crumpled from the death grip he had it in.

He was about to face the Captain-General of the Green Ajah, a woman far more formidable than most monarchs.

The young soldier had been practicing in the sparring yards for most of the morning, swinging a practice sword in a fight against a newly-joined trainee, when the courier came. The young woman in Tower livery provided a piece of fine parchment, unsealed.

You are summoned into the presence of the Captain-General of the Green Ajah, Miahala Sedai, to explain the actions against an Asha’man of the Grey Tower in the township of Camden Corelle. You will report one mark past high noon.

It was a simple order. Unsigned but the words were severe enough, and not many knew about the incident. He had told Lysira Gaidin during his training of the bow; then there was Jerid Walker Asha’man ... and the few in the court of the Lord Walker of Camden Corelle.

And the Green he had flattened. Of course. He wouldn’t put it past some embarrassed and entitled prat to see him called to answer for being knocked out by a simple soldier.

Now, here he stood, in the grand hall of the Battle Ajah, a soldier ready to march into the enemy’s stronghold like a lamb wandering into the waiting jaws of a mountain lion.

Only this mountain lion had a reputation for blowing things up and setting things on fire. And if the stories were of any indication, she was fiercely protective of her charges and family.

“Brave heart, Malcym Ashe,” he murmured. “The worst she could do is make you suffer before she skins you alive.”

So he strode down the halls, as if he had been summoned to the command tent of a commanding officer. As he walked, his silver-blue eyes picked out the faces of many channelers and their Warders. Some had the ageless look, others perhaps still young enough to the cord and shawl to bear the look.

And he could pick up a stray whisper or two -- mostly about ‘that’s the one’ and ‘this won’t end well.’ Light’s sake, but did everyone know?

Finally, he reached the appropriate door at the bend of a corridor and without a second thought knocked on the door.

It wasn’t long before he was called in. He followed suit and immediately stood at attention when he saw his intended interrogator.

“Trainee Malcym Ashe reporting as summoned, Aes Sedai,” he said simply.
Jerid Walker Asha'man
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Re: Into the den of the lioness (Attn: Miahala Sedai)

Post by Bella » July 31st, 2020, 1:58 am

What was on the menu for lunch today? Well, Drin, of course.

The woman sat on the other side of the desk no longer looked like the "stereotype" of the Aes Sedai that had been held on to for oh-so-long throughout the years. Having forsaken the Three Oaths, she no longer had that ageless appearance. She looked like an average woman, with the figure of the average Saldaean housewife who'd born five children but still kept active.

It was the eyes, however. It was always in the eyes.

This pair was sharply slanted up at the corners like everyone of her nation, resting above a strong nose and further above full lips. These lips were now without expression, and the blue-green of the eyes was sharp. Pointed. As if able to stare down into this young man's very soul and not letting on to any of her inward thoughts.

"Drin Malcym Ashe," she began, her voice without emotion but deep and rich in timber. Perhaps a little deeper than most women, but no one would certainly ever say that to her. "Word has reached me of an incident between you and an Asha'man of my Ajah while you were both in a tavern in Camden Corelle. I would hear your version of these events."

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Re: Into the den of the lioness (Attn: Miahala Sedai)

Post by Jack » July 31st, 2020, 3:00 am

Malcym noticed the Aes Sedai from the start. Those eyes were hard to miss, the way they locked onto him like ... well like he was the center of this conversation.

He didn’t think twice about the lack of an ageless look. The Green he had smacked lacked the ageless look, and so did the Indigo Asha’man to blame for him being in the scenario.

Oh, he blamed Jerid Walker for this, all right. The man was a Whitecloak caught on the scent of a channeler -- trouble that never seemed to go away.

The problem he had his fair share of blame in this past. He’d technically assaulted two Asha’man within a full day’s period. Well, the second one didn’t count so much as him being on the receiving him of a knife point after taking a swing at the Indigo.

And those sharp eyes focused on him right now seemed bent on pulling every last word from him. He took the Aes Sedai in at a studious glance -- she didn’t seem all that intimidating. But looks were deceiving ... and there was something about her ... something that didn’t -- smell right.

She was hard as stone and probably as fearsome as any Saldaean woman he’d ever met. Not many, but enough to make a very powerful presence. Some part of Malcym told him to choose his words carefully ...

Unfortunately, his mind and his mouth seldom agreed with one another.

“To be fair, Aes Sedai, I didn’t know the man was an Asha’man until after he was lying on his backside and I had two swords ready to skewer me,” the drin said. One of the two had very calmly and coldly informed him of that fact and Malcym had been ever so grateful they hadn’t run him through.

A look at the Aes Sedai was enough to assume she was not amused.

“I was with some House Walker men, drinking in a tavern as the Lord Jerid Walker Asha’man had said he had no need of us,” Malcym said. “The injured party started yammering about how a disgrace of an Asha’man had returned to Camden Corelle and had no right heading off to the Grey Tower. He got more belligerent ... I believe he was drinking fortified brandy, stuff leaves a bad odor in the nostrils ... but yes, that Jerid Asha’man was likely scheming to assault the Tower’s leadership and well, try and kill you, Aes Sedai.”

The Aes Sedai had asked for a report, and Malcym was not about to deprive her of any information.

“The man said that Jerid Asha’man wouldn’t succeed because he was too weak a channeler ... I believe the exact phrase was ‘spineless soured mother’s milk in a cup of a coward,’” he said as he cocked his head slightly. “I have to say, as far as insults or the sheer act of trying to use cursing goes, I was a bit disappointed. I would have thought that if anyone was capable of good insults, it would be a Green Asha’man.”

Not helping your case, Malcym Ashe, that bit of common sense said. But he ignored it.

“The man got more belligerent, saw us, and likely made us for what we were ... the escort. Hard to miss really, given we rode in with a man most mistook for a dead man come back to life,” he muttered. “He said the Asha’man should be given over for execution, father of the town’s lord or no and that he was prepared to do just that, ‘babysitter guards be burned.’”

Of course, Malcym would have been perfectly content to let the man ramble until he passed out. But the man’s mistake had been to start rise, hand reaching for well ... it was a butterknife really, perfectly harmless.

“He was almost out of his chair, hadn’t even gotten the blunt utensil when I flattened him,” he said bluntly, albeit with some guilt. Not his finest moment. “Light, but the man had a hard jaw.”

“And then I had two swords ready to skewer me, which is about when I found out he was a Green Asha’man,” Malcym said. His silver-blue eyes landed on Miahala Sedai and met with a resolve merited a veteran of many years of combat. “Your Green Asha’man’s mistake, Aes Sedai, was standing with the perceived intent to do harm, and given his threat against Jerid Asha’man -- a man mind you I was ordered by my captain to see safely back here -- I felt it was the warranted measure at the time.”

He didn’t blink. “Had he just sat where he was, words alone would have ended with nothing more than a hangover instead of a broken jaw,” Malcym said. “Knocking him out was something I thought was a favor before he actually did try and go charging off against well-guarded keep in a fool crusade to capture an Asha’man who could have burned him to a cinder. I will not apologize for that.”
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Re: Into the den of the lioness (Attn: Miahala Sedai)

Post by Bella » August 4th, 2020, 4:21 am

It was so very, very difficult...

...not to laugh.

It was only nearly two hundred years worth of time, experience, and practice that kept Miahala's expression as stoic as it was as she listened to the story. Truly, the only reason for the near laughter was the idea that Jerid Asha'man would be planning to kill her. The two respected each other. Were friends. They would never try to harm one another.

She hid her expression by the act of looking down at a book on her table that she scribbled some gibberish onto, to save face.

Of course, the rest of the report was...less amusing.

When he was finally done, she lifted her eyes back to his. This one was...interesting, she reflected. At one point or another over her many, long years, she really had seen it all. Very little surprised her. She set her quill down and straightened up again. "Do you have a name for this Asha'man? Foregoing that, do you have a physical description of him?"

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Re: Into the den of the lioness (Attn: Miahala Sedai)

Post by Jack » August 4th, 2020, 6:12 am

Malcym had expected the Captain-General to be furious, annoyed ... even have him clapped in irons.

But instead ... there was a slight ... odor of amusement. At least at first. Beneath all the layers of Aes Sedai attitude and apparent lack of concern, and the near the core of iron and steel was something very human.

Of course, he was not a fool to provide that compliment aloud. He surely would be skewered.

“Maxil Rodai, Aes Sedai,” he said simply, still slightly surprised by the woman’s apparent response. “He couldn’t mutter it himself, but one of the Warders let it slip. Physical description, slightly blonde, big green eyes, sharp face, nose that looks like it had been broken a few times, lanky. Jaw’s been unbroken, thanks to Jerid Asha’man being the flaming generous person he is.” ”

He tilted his head slightly and sighed briefly. “Last I heard, among the gossip tree, is that the Asha’man may end up being banished from Camden Corelle like I was.”

His silver-blue eyes flashed, and unknowingly to him, a hint of gold for a brief heartbeat. “That was the punishment issued by the Lord of Camden Corelle for my actions. While I was ‘protecting the honor of my Asha’man,’ it was not good form to assault someone who protects that town,” he murmured.

Whatever whimsical attitude he had in him puttered out of existence. “He summoned be to his chambers later that night, had a young Warder there, maybe a niece of his. He said I acted childishly and that I did not deserve the Murandian uniform I wore. He admonished me by saying that even if he wanted to, he could neither wade through the Wards nor come close to overpowering you to kill you.”

His eyes lowered, for once in shame. “I nearly flattened him then and there, but he was quicker and the steel tip of his knife was point enough to realize he could kill me without a second thought.”

Malcym looked back at Miahala. “He respects you, that much is clear, and the few times he spoke of you shows a solid friendship that dates back a long time,” he said simply. “Light, but the stories about you two -- well, they were boring. A lot of action, no romance.”

This was the moment where his brain told him to shut up. But his mouth disregarded.

“And Light, there were the stories of him and his loyalty to Amora en’Damier Sedai when she was Amyrlin Seat,” he added. “The philosophers will have so much to debate on that one. It was like ‘heel boy, down, come’ with a large dash of ‘he blew a lot of things up.’ From what the stories make it suggest, he had so much love for her.”

He almost smiled. “With you, it was more like ‘great, what has she gotten herself into now’ followed by ‘they blew a lot of stuff up.’ The way it sounds, he might have been your Warder.” He shook his head and added, “But that’s impossible. You two would have likely killed each other by now because you’re both so alike. He and the Lady Lysira ... opposite sides of the same coin, though I suspect she would strangle him at times, but he’d not object.”

If Malcym Ashe had any curse, it was the observation of people. And whatever had happened with the wolves since Camden Corelle had left him all the more observant. Of course, the Aes Sedai in front of him was so unpredictable, any notion of assumption was dangerous.

“Begging the Captain-General’s pardon, did you want to impose penance or inquire more information on what transpired,” he asked. “Because if not, there was this novella written by a Wulfric Gandolfius that I would really love to have your signature on the first page. It’s regarding one of of the battles in the Borderlands that you participated in.”
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Re: Into the den of the lioness (Attn: Miahala Sedai)

Post by Bella » August 8th, 2020, 9:44 pm

Miahala listened...and listened...and listened some more...

She began to watch him with the sort of keen-eyed curiosity that one might observe an odd little animal kept in the cage of a traveling circus, almost half-pity and half-fascination. Less on the former, of course, since the captain-general rarely wasted time or energy on a feeling such as pity.

When he finally stopped and asked for her signature on a book, she couldn't tell if she wanted to laugh again or just gape.

Instead, she folded her arms across the edge of her desk and leaned forward slightly. There was a single blink in her intense stare as she pursed her lips. "Do you ever, Drin Ashe, stop talking when you should?"

Mia was nothing if not blunt.

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Re: Into the den of the lioness (Attn: Miahala Sedai)

Post by Jack » August 8th, 2020, 11:58 pm

Malcym didn’t know whether to chuckle or blink at the Aes Sedai’s question. He was always the first to admit he sometimes talked too much. But he smiled when he caught the subtle, brief batting of her eyelids.

Often on subjects that might annoy people and cause them to lose interest in the young soldier.

But this Green, blunt and intense as she was, seemed amused. Or was likely eyeing him like a cat eyed a mouse before she pounced.

See how much fun could be had and then ... crunch. And she didn’t actually have to move one hair to make those bones snap.

“Seldom, Aes Sedai,” Malcym said simply, a bit of mischief dancing in the silver flecks of his blue eyes. “You talk long and often and you give the impression to the enemy that you actually might let slip something useful. Or you banter long enough and another party gets so frustrated that they might either leave you be or let something slip that they shouldn’t.”

The young soldier took a half-step toward the desk, hands clasped behind his back respectfully. And his silver-blue eyes grew calm -- again, another instantaneous flash of gold -- there and gone as any hint of mischief vanished.

“What I am here, in front of you, is just a facet, Aes Sedai. Out there ...” he said, gesturing with his chin toward what he assumed was the general direction of the gates of Hama Valon. “Out there, in the field, the only noise I’ll make beyond footballs, hoofbeats or breathing, is the sound of steel against leather or steel sliding into flesh. The same would be said of my duty when in defense of the channelers of this Tower from the moment I signed my name in the Warder Yard rolls.”

Malcym smiled ever so slightly, nodding his head in deference. “Besides, talking a lot happens when your only sibling for many years happens to be mostly deaf,” he murmured. “When you can go hours or days at a time between mother, sister, stepfather and yourself with only words formed by fingers in your own home, you tend to relish the sound of a voice, even your own.”

The smile faded and he murmured, “And it seemed to amuse you, the rambling, Aes Sedai. Begging your forgiveness, but it seems you don’t get too much of that, at least from those outside your assumed small circle.”
Jerid Walker Asha'man
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Re: Into the den of the lioness (Attn: Miahala Sedai)

Post by Bella » August 9th, 2020, 9:56 pm

Now, she smiled properly.

It wasn't...a happy expression.

The amusement--little as it had been slipping out into her eyes--now vanished. She didn't like people making presumptions about either her person or her life. She was a private woman, as much as was possible although a lot of her privacy did not seem to be maintained as closely as she'd like.

She leaned back in her seat, keeping the hard stare fixed on him. "You should assume nothing, and you should learn to temper that tongue even when you're not out on a battlefield. After all, you never know what will suddenly become a field of battle. It could be one of the rooms inside this very tower and you'd never know it until it slit your throat."

One brow arched stiffly. "Do you understand me, Drin Ashe?"

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Re: Into the den of the lioness (Attn: Miahala Sedai)

Post by Jack » August 9th, 2020, 11:50 pm

Malcym stiffened ever so slightly the moment the amusement faded from the Green Aes Sedai’s eyes.

The young soldier knew he had stepped over a line. And it was a line he had crossed with one other channeler. The Asha’man had not been so ... polite about it. Malcym had inquired about the Seanchan ... and had his head just about bitten off by one of the Walker armsmen in the camp. The Asha’man himself had given a sharp look and a week of silence.

Needless to say, it was probably a sore topic.

However, the hard stare didn’t make him blink. Nor did the Aes Sedai’s words. Instead, his silver-blue eyes met her blue-green gaze measure for measure. Did he have fear of her? Of flaming Light he did -- anyone who didn’t was a flaming fool -- but it fear was something to be mastered, not to run away from unless absolutely necessary.

In his mind, she had let slip one thing that ... made her uncomfortable. He could continue being the idiot he was most days and pursue a likely perilous course of action by prodding further into her personal life.

Or retreat from the subject entirely, like a smart officer did when he knew the field was overwhelmed.

Either way, he knew one thing. Miahala Sedai had been weighed and measured. And any fool calling her wanting would likely find themselves underfoot in a heartbeat and food for the crows two seconds later.

“Understood, Aes Sedai,” he said simply, sternly.

But then his body language changed, as if suddenly not taking the Aes Sedai’s innuendos too much to heart. He turned slightly, his eyes all about the room. “Any room, you say? It would be a pity to mess this room, or any room for that matter, with blood and gore. Flaming inconvenient for the servants to clean up ... and quite hard to sell to anyone questioning why someone suddenly was found dead.”

“And only a coward would strike with such silence if they felt threatened or fearful of a mere trainee for whatever overseen slight, especially of probing into the private, however now apologetic that drin is now of it,” he said.

That last bit was spoken with total sincerity. He now knew he overstepped that one bound.

His eyes turned back to the Green, sitting in her chair. This was a woman who served as Amyrlin Seat, was Captain-General of the Green Ajah, who ... was so human he couldn’t put a finger on how one so apparently old as she could still have such a mercurial temperament.
The only other one her age he had met was ... different. Kind, obviously, but a kindness wrapped around a cold steel heart that would not yield.

He chose a logical path, probably once more stepping over the boundaries, but in a different approach.

“But the person who alluded to the danger isn’t such a coward,” he said. “She would be blunt enough about when her opponent will meet his end just before killing him, either with fire or a knife to the front. She’s not one to hide in the shadows like some assassin but faces her victim in front, in person.”

It wasn’t an assumption he made. It was a statement of fact. Soldiers knew soldiers.

Another step forward and he placed both hands on the edge of the desk.

Very brave ... and very reckless at times. Those were the words his commander had used whilst in Murandy’s army. Malcym was certainly living up to both statements.

“I fought for almost six years for my nation, Aes Sedai. I’m not like most of the Yard’s drin, who saw a few battles, saw a campaign or served in some petty lord’s army,” he murmured. “Save for those who came from the Borderlands and knew the horrors of Darkspawn, few have likely seen the ... mess of true battle, or the evils some bandits or even ‘Dragonsworn’ could have inflicted on other humans. I’ve mucked stables, cleaned latrines, commanded men into battle, and buried half-eaten remains of villagers into a mass grave because we had to pursue those who were responsible.”

His eyes were hard. “And when in the parties and sorries of noblemen who wish to have a ‘King’s man’ in presence to bolster his ego, I’ve had to hold my flaming tongue for fear that anything I hear and then be told to shut up even if it threatens my nation’s borders .. just because a whisper from that noble would cast my family into the streets ... when they threaten that my sister could be ...” he paused, one hand clenched into a fist. “And worse, when a commander I respect ordered me to keep those secrets because his own family is in peril.”

He let the image sink in but for one heartbeat. “My life is a battlefield, Aes Sedai, tempering my tongue is something I could do quite well. But it’s something I refuse to do any more. I will not ply cloy words to narcissistic ‘higher-ups’ who are afraid of the truth and fear of reprisal will not stay my lips.”

Before this place, those words would have been bold words coming from Malcym. Here, now, they were a simple truth. And a silent promise. Hurt his family and he would wage war.

“So with respect Aes Sedai, I suggest that if you’re offended, you either issue penance as you see fit, throw down your gloves and have me face you or your champion in the sparring arena or agree to something else.” His eyes were level with hers, silver-blue gaze as hard as diamonds. “Accept an apology, have me never agree to prod into your personal life without cause ever, and accept ...”

He hesitated. The words were in his throat, in his mind, but the implication was ... almost impossible to accept. He’d made the pledge twice in life, once six years ago and once only months before, and they had required significant debate and commitment.
But a glance at the Aes Sedai convinced him it was a wise choice, even if rebuffed.

“... accept my offer of service to you and yours, within reason, without dishonor, for as long as I am in these Yards as a trainee, above what duties the Yards demand of me.”
Jerid Walker Asha'man
"We all suffer. It's how we move past it that defines us."

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Location: New England

Re: Into the den of the lioness (Attn: Miahala Sedai)

Post by Bella » August 12th, 2020, 7:03 pm

"I want no service of yours," she said coldly.

She listened, gave him the...courtesy of hearing all that he would say. Was his humility sincere or lip service? Somehow, it read to her as living somewhere in between. She didn't grant much courage for lip service, even soldier to soldier. He may have seen all that he had seen, but it could not compare to the centuries that had passed her by in blood and fire.

"Your apology is accepted, but your services you may keep to the Yards. Perhaps there, you will learn there is a difference between speaking truth to anyone, regardless of rank, because the truth is needed versus simply being offensive in your intrusions and assumptions. Too much of the latter will make it less likely that anyone will listen to the former."

Mia nodded at the door. "You are dismissed. A recommendation will be made to the Master of Training on the matter of penance."

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