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Unwanted Enlightenment
Mon Jun 19, 2006 01:28 (XFF:

Of course, it was only after she'd stalked out of the room in such a determined fashion that she had realized that she didn't know her way around this place, not in the slightest. Now she was left to wander around the halls, trying to make a bit of headway and appear as if she knew where she was going; if she were seen wandering aimlessly, it certainly wouldn't do anything for the High Seat's impression of her as of now.

As she walked, she realized that, in actuality, she had close to no idea what Lord Moran thought of her. The man, as of what she'd seen so far, was impossible to read, and the most she had heard him say this far was a disconcertingly lengthy monologue. He seemed fairly determined to brush her off – why was that? While he might have been able to guess at the reason why she had come, he could not have known for sure.

Besides, aren't High Seats typically more… polite? Ceto Amaya thought with a slight twist to her mouth. The man couldn't be described as outright rude, but he certainly wasn't as polite as other people in places of power that Ceto Amaya had met and known. One had to command a certain amount of respect to rule or command, and from what she'd seen of Lord Moran, she wasn't entirely sure how he managed to command that respect; from what Alima, the serving woman, had said of him, not many people in the household really did have much respect for him.

As if the woman was drawn by her thoughts, Ceto Amaya spotted Alima walking down the hallway in the opposite direction. "Pardon me," Ceto Amaya said, walking towards the woman, "but would you have any idea of where—"

"He's not going to help you, you know," Alima said flatly, looking down at Ceto Amaya with a condescending look in her eyes. "If you hadn't noticed, he's got no respect for the Black Tower. Whatever you're after, I doubt he's going to give it to you. Not as if he's even sane enough to make rational decisions anymore, of course." Her mouth twisted wryly. "He's probably not going to make it another week as a High Seat, so if you just wait around, you can try again, I'm sure."

"I'd just like to talk to him," Ceto Amaya said carefully, trying to hold her temper. Light, she barely had a temper to speak of, and yet she'd been keeping a tight rein on it all day! "I have something important to ask of him. Could you please just tell me where he is?"

Alima looked at her for a moment, and then sighed. "I'm sorry, girl—Soldier. I'm getting out of here soon; then I won't have to deal with him anymore. I've been head of his House for what seems like an Age now. Are you hungry?"

Ceto Amaya blinked at this abrupt change of subject, and then nodded. "Come with me, then," said Alima. "I'll take you to the kitchen and you can get something… dinner won't be for quite some time yet, and Light only knows if we'll even have dinner tonight. There might be dinner, though, since there's a… guest."

Alima walked quickly enough that Ceto Amaya was nearly jogging to keep up with her. "How under the Light did you end up at the Black Tower, girl?" Alima asked, after a few minutes. Ceto Amaya nearly sighed – this situation was less and less pleasant as the day wore on. Was there any possible way to turn the fact that no one took her seriously to her advantage? She considered the idea of blowing a hole in the floor, just to remind them that she was capable of channeling, but quickly disregarded it as being too destructive; besides, she wasn't entirely sure if she was strong enough.

"I was looking for a change of pace, and ended up there," Ceto Amaya said softly. While it wasn't exact a lie, it was by no means the truth – Light, isn't that how those Aes Sedai speak? – but, as she saw it, there was no point to telling the truth to people you barely knew. And somehow, she didn't feel entirely comfortable talking about herself in this setting.

"Quite a bit of a change of pace, apparently," Alima said as they reached the kitchen. "That means you're one of those channelers, aren't you?" She opened the door and gestured for Ceto Amaya to go through; Ceto Amaya did so, inclining her head slightly. Alima followed after her.

"Yes, I can channel," Ceto Amaya said, relieved that someone seemed to remember. It wasn't much, but it gave her something over the rest of these people who seemed to have every other advantage over her; they were all taller, stronger, older… but she had the One Power.

"He's not fond of channelers, the lord," Alima said, moving some things around before locating half a loaf of bread and handing it to Ceto Amaya. "Eat that for now, and I'll try to find you some meat." Ceto Amaya tore a chunk from the bread and examined it for a moment before putting it in her mouth. This was far better than anything she'd had in quite a long time. Alima watched her eat for a moment, apparently contemplating something.

After a time, she said, "I suppose it's against my better judgment, but I think that it might help you to know why Lord Moran is the way that he is."

Ceto Amaya quickly swallowed her mouthful of bread. "I will be fine, really," she said. "I don't want to pry into anyone's life."

"You keep saying that you'll be fine," Alima said, "but I know him better than you do. You won't get a thing out of him, and I think you've at least got the right to know that it won't be your fault." She located a thin slice of some sort of roasted meat and gave the plate to Ceto Amaya, who tried to juggle both the loaf of bread and the plate of meat while still eating, without much success. She set the plate down on a nearby ledge.

"Really, I can deal with failure—" she began, but Alima cut her off once more.

"He's a strange man, and I know you're wondering why he is how he is," she said. She paused for a moment before continuing. "He did used to have a mistress, you see. A lady. But she fell very ill… he called some Aes Sedai, but they didn't save her, and she died. He started to lose it after that, and he's gotten gradually worse. It's been two years since it happened. He disliked channelers before then – he said that what they do is unnatural – and the fact that the Aes Sedai couldn't save his wife did nothing for his attitude towards them."

"I'm very sorry for that," Ceto Amaya said, putting down the bread. "I know that it is terrible to lose a loved one. However, there's really nothing I can do about Lord Moran's bias against channelers, and will knowing about what happened help me in any way when I'm trying to convince him of what I need to?"

"Perhaps you don't need to know," Alima said. "But he was a good man, once upon a time. I wanted you to know that he hasn't always been how he is now. He used to be a good ruler, and a good High Seat. Perhaps you can bring that out in him again, if only for a short time. I'll take you to where he is." She walked to the door, then paused, and nodded to the plate of bread and meat. "But first, eat that. There likely won't be dinner tonight."

Ceto Amaya picked up the bread again. "Why is everything around this place so fine?" she asked. "It doesn't quite fit with the rest… it seems as if the House would have deteriorated." Bloody Light, don't go around asking questions you don't need answers to! Keeping quiet will yield far more productive results… She'd been trying to quell her naturally friendly, conversational personality, but apparently she hadn't been quite as successful as she'd thought.

"He likes fine things," Alima said, her mouth twisting again. "The lady was a fine thing… perhaps he's trying to replace her with Sea Folk porcelain and marble floors. He's got a vase that she was fond of sitting on a table beside his bed… I think he'd carry it with him everywhere if he could." She shook her head. "Light, if I would have known that he would end up this way, I never would have agreed to stay here after Alysa died. I was her serving woman, you see… I came with her when she married the lord. After she died, he told me that I could go, if I wished, but I felt sorry for him. I stayed. At first, I thought that he was going to throw me out because I reminded him of the lady… but now I think he keeps me for that exact reason. He'd probably carry me everywhere with him if he could." The look on the woman's face suggested that Lord Moran had done nearly everything but that.

Ceto Amaya put down the empty plate. "Could you take me to where he is now, please?"

Alima nodded and exited the kitchen, Ceto Amaya following closely behind. "He's not meeting with anyone," Alima said, "if you were worried about interrupting something. He's reading… he doesn't do much these days besides read, in truth. He always was an intelligent man, and he still is… something in his mind just snapped when Lady Alysa died. If he'd just move on, he would probably be fine, but he won't let go of it."

Ceto Amaya was now even more uncomfortable in this House. The man she was going to try to get to send military support to Molvaine Gap was apparently crazy – Light, did the man even have any support to send? Did anyone even follow him anymore? – and hated channelers to boot. I thought that I could surely convince one man of one thing, Ceto Amaya thought, but it seems as though I'm going to have to eat my words.

Alima opened yet another door – that was another odd thing she'd noticed; all the doors in this place were closed – and curtsied. "Soldier Ceto Amaya din Marin Silver Star, my lord." She gave Ceto Amaya a long look before leaving.

Ceto Amaya felt alone and small once again. Lord Moran was sitting in a chair at the other end of the room with a book on his lap, and giving her that same disconcerting going-over with his eyes that she had first received when he had met her at the front door. Ceto Amaya bowed to him and said, "I'm sorry for interrupting you, High Seat, but there is a truly urgent matter to be discussed. The Seanchan are invading Altara once more—"

"Neither the Seanchan nor Altara is an enormous concern of mine," Lord Moran said, rubbing a thumb absently on the cover of his book. "I suppose, though, that this is not the full tale? The Black Tower has no need to send Soldiers to explain what will soon be common knowledge." He examined the cover of his book for a moment, and then smiled that worrisome smile at her. "I do apologize for interrupting you so rudely. Continue."

Ceto Amaya fought hard to keep from leaping across the room and hitting the man full across the face. He seemed to be one of those sorts of people who enjoyed playing with people. Perhaps he was half-crazed over the death of his wife, but he apparently knew what he was doing now. He was likely perfectly aware that she would not do or say anything even slightly out of line, and was taking advantage of that fact.

"Lord Moran, in addition to the troops the Seanchan have near Altara, they also have additional troops stationed at Molvaine Gap. I have been sent to ask if you would consider sending soldiers to Molvaine Gap to deal with the troops there. Whatever you could send would be a great help – and I apologize if I am blunt, but if the Seanchan do manage to take Altara, they will quickly become an enormous concern of yours."

Moran barked a laugh. "You must have been told by now, girl, that I am not going to be High Seat for much longer. Alima is not particularly loyal to me… she was always Alysa's woman before mine, and I believe that she still is. This city can do what it needs to fight off Seanchan without my aid – I do have a fair amount of soldiers under my House, but this House will not be mine for much longer."

"Lord Moran," Ceto Amaya said, managing to keep a pleading note from her voice, "even if you are only High Seat for another week, that may very well be all the time it takes for the Seanchan to overrun this city. You must recall the last time they invaded. It will be fast, and it will be brutal, but you can help prevent it. If you have a fair amount of soldiers under you, those soldiers can be put to use."

Moran studied her for a moment before opening his book once more. "I will do nothing."

  • Inconvenient ReminiscingSoldier Ceto Amaya din Marin, Thu Jun 15 22:37
    "They're certainly expanding the ranks of the Black Tower of late." Lord Moran was a large man – not heavyset, just large – with dark hair and odd green eyes that appeared almost translucent. He'd... more
    • Unwanted Enlightenment — Soldier Ceto Amaya din Marin, Mon Jun 19 01:28
      • An Incomplete ConclusionSoldier Ceto Amaya din Marin, Fri Jun 23 21:17
        "Lord Moran, you have to do something!" Ceto Amaya grimaced; she had no business telling High Seats what they had to do. "I have to do nothing, girl," Moran said, raising both eyebrows in a look of... more
        • An Undesirable ExpedientSoldier Ceto Amaya din Marin, Tue Jun 27 00:56
          "Back already?" the groom asked, raising an eyebrow at the perfectly saddled horse. "Yes," said Ceto Amaya, giving him the reins. Her mind had already fabricated several quite thorough lies that... more
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