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The Way In
Mon Jun 19, 2006 14:25 (XFF:

When Toren awoke, it was dark and he was stiff and sore from sleeping on the rocky ground. But he was alive, and he wasn't shielded by some woman on a leash. All things considered, it could have been a lot worse. He nibbled at some of his trail rations and washed it down with a quick swig of water while he took a look over the situation below. Watchfires marked the perimeter of the main camp, and the sentries stood alert, facing outward so that the fires would not affect their night vision. Looking over the edge of the cliff, he noted five raken roosting like chickens with their heads tucked under their wings. He searched the sky to see if there was another in the air, but if it was there Toren couldn't pick it out of the darkness. Perhaps they couldn't see in the dark after all.

Toren tied off one end of his rope to scrubby bush and started to make his way down the cliff face. On the Black Tower’s climbing wall, he could have covered the distance in under a minute, but tonight he was moving as carefully and as silently as he could. One of the creatures below shifted its weight in the darkness. Toren froze, pulling himself in towards the cliff face and deeper into the shadow. After one hundred counts, there was silence and he felt that it was safe to continue his descent. Eventually he reached flat ground and, crouching behind a boulder, looked around to take stock of the situation.

There were three raken to his right, and two on his left. The small pile of supplies set to one side of a flat area suggested that he had come down on an empty roosting spot. Toren wondered again if there was a raken aloft, or perhaps the Seanchan just wanted to be prepared for the next messenger arriving from the south. Two sentries stood a little ways off, at the head of a path that presumably led down to the main camp. All of his training suggested that it would be easy to take out two men if you had the element of surprise, but faced with the real thing there was an uneasiness in the pit of Toren’s stomach. If he made a mistake now, there would be no Asha’man to chastise his clumsiness, but a whole army of Seanchan intent on killing him.

Time passed and Toren waited behind his boulder, massaging his calves when he felt his legs start to cramp up from crouching so long. Eventually his patience paid off and one of the guards moved a little ways off into the bushes to relieve himself. Five silent steps brought Toren up behind the remaining guard, knife in hand. He was simultaneously pleased and deeply disturbed at how easy it was to kill a man if you caught him unawares. The second guard was just turning around when Toren wove a noose of Air around his neck. The man hissed and coughed a couple of times, and the nearest raken rustled in its sleep but didn’t wake. As the Seanchan soldier collapsed unconscious, Toren released the noose. An idea was forming in his head – it wasn’t exactly the plan he had come up with at the top of the cliff, but he thought he could take advantage of a live Seanchan. His mind started working overtime, making sure that there weren’t any obvious holes in the new plan.

Toren quickly stripped the armor off the dead sentry and started to strap it onto his own arms and legs. The sentry had been a large man, so the armor fit reasonably well, at least well enough that it shouldn’t draw too much attention in the middle of the night. Checking that the second sentry had not regained consciousness, Toren dragged the man towards one of the sleeping raken. The beast still didn’t wake up, which had been Toren’s greatest worry. He surveyed the scene one last time. Once he set the plan in motion, there would be no turning back. If Carl was right, and Toren couldn’t think on his feet, he would probably be a dead man in the next half an hour. Toren looked at the sleeping raken, and then glanced over his shoulder at the sleeping camp. With no outward sign of motion, he reached for saidin and started to form explosive balls of fire. There were five explosions in rapid succession, blasting the cliff face where each of the five raken had just been sleeping. The sub-divided weave was probably not enough to kill the creatures outright but Toren hoped that it would at least give the appearance of a serious attack. The raken seemed plenty disturbed by the noise and fire – three of them jumped into flight, and all five started to make an angry shrieking sound.

Toren rushed forward and picked up the fallen Seanchan soldier. There were black scorch marks on his face and over the top half of his armor from the explosion which had gone off near his head. He groaned without completely regaining consciousness. Toren cradled the injured man in his arms and started to run towards the camp perimeter. When he spotted the sentries up ahead he called out, with a hint of real fear in his voice, “Help me! This man is injured – he needs help quickly.” He was certain that they would see through his trick at any moment, but they clearly associated any outward signs of nervousness with the attack. One of the sentries even called out after him, directing him to the nearest medical tent. Toren rushed along, carrying the wounded soldier and trying to follow the directions that had just been shouted at his back.

“Is this the medical tent?”

A groggy soldier looked up at Toren and swore. “No, pig brain. Next tent! Next person who asks me that, I’m going to cut out their guts and tie ‘em in a knot . . .” The soldier lapsed into another string of curses as Toren quickly backed out of the tent and moved on to the next one in the row.

Depositing his load in the medical tent, Toren began asking questions of the healers. “Will he survive? Will his face be scarred? Is there anything I can do to help?” The overworked healers quickly told him to go away, just as he had hoped, and he retreated into the shadows of the camp, which was still mostly asleep. A small detachment was forming up to investigate the disturbance among the raken, but otherwise there were few people to observe an extra soldier moving around in the middle of the night. Toren took a deep breath. So far everything was going according to plan, but he still had to smuggle out an Asha’man from under the nose of a female channeler. He couldn’t afford to rest on his laurels just yet!

  • Watching and WaitingSoldier Toren Swain, Sun Jun 18 15:31
    The cool night air served to clear Toren's head after his short night of restless sleep. That was good because his mind was racing, trying to cover all the scenarios he might encounter. How am I... more
    • The Way In — Soldier Toren Swain, Mon Jun 19 14:25
      • A Plan, in TheorySoldier Toren Swain, Thu Jun 22 11:54
        Toren found it surprisingly easy to blend in around the camp. So long as he avoided lingering too long in one place, nobody seemed to notice that he didn’t belong and he just kept helping out with... more
        • A Plan, in PracticeSoldier Toren Swain, Thu Jun 22 12:05
          Toren flitted around the camp until nightfall, avoiding contact with the groups of soldiers as they gathered to eat their evening meal. Partly, he didn't want to intrude on a group who might... more
          • I'll Fly AwaySoldier Toren Swain, Wed Jun 28 10:24
            Toren and the Asha’man, who had introduced himself as Lars, stood at the base of the cliff, looking up. The sentries at the bottom were relatively lax, even now they stood chatting with one another... more
            • Tying Off Loose EndsSoldier Toren Swain, Thu Jun 29 10:20
              Toren had deliberately ordered the Seanchan woman to land some distance away from the rendezvous point. He started to angle through the woods south and west, knowing that he would eventually cut... more
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