An Incomplete Conclusion
Fri Jun 23, 2006 21:17 (XFF:

"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 surprise that was likely feigned. Ceto Amaya found it strange the man still had yet to become angry – so far, he had not even passed "mildly annoyed".

"Does the possibility of people dying, lives lost, as a result of your actions, or rather, your inactions… does it bother you, Lord Moran? Does it weigh on your conscience in the slightest?" Guilt could be a very effective motivator, but she had little hope that it would work on Moran – did the man even have a conscience?

Moran smiled slightly, as if humoring a small child who had come up with a particularly amusing but thoroughly implausible notion. "I find it difficult to believe that action or inaction on my part will have much impact on the battle either way. I will give to you that the Seanchan are a formidable force, but surely your… comrades have managed to convince other High Seats to send their support, for I presume that there were others sent as well?"

"But what if the other High Seats have not been convinced to send their support?" asked Ceto Amaya, ignoring the fairly superfluous question. "And, as I have stated, we need all the support we can get. This will not be an easy battle, lord." Light, this man's head was as hard as the marble floor she stood on.

"You have channelers on your side, girl," Lord Moran said. "Yes, I know, the Seanchan have damane, but do not make your side sound so woefully unprepared; you are not." He examined the fingernails on one large hand, his overall demeanor making Ceto Amaya long for the ability to spit poison.

"Lord Moran, why are you so against sending reinforcement? You seem like an intelligent enough man to realize that it would be beneficial to the battle, no matter what you are saying, and you have said that you do have some number of soldiers that follow you. Why are you so adamant to refuse?"

Lord Moran smiled again, very slowly. "You have yet to convince me," he said, "that this is the right course of action."

Ceto Amaya truly had to fight to keep her face perfectly straight. The bloody man was testing her! He found this amusing! Beneath her anger, there was a very small part of her that found this terribly amusing as well – she was supposed to be the one doing the manipulation in this situation, but here was this man manipulating her far more effectively – but for the most part, she was infuriated. The Light burn him! "Please understand the full scale of this battle. I can say with truth that every additional soldier will be of assistance."

"I understand perfectly," Lord Moran said, his gaze now bringing to mind very thin, green-tinted ice. "I do not believe that it is necessary to risk my soldiers in a battle where they will likely prove superfluous. Now please, leave. You are getting on my nerves."

Ceto Amaya hadn't realized the full extent of her own anger until saidar filled her to the brim. She wanted to do something to make him take her word seriously! But is using the Power against him the only way to show him that I'm not just a silly little girl? Isn't there some other way I can show him that I do know what I'm talking about? She stood for a moment, the Power buzzing through her, trying to think of some way to make Lord Moran take her seriously that didn't involve using the Power to peel the man's fingernails off one by one.

But she could think of nothing.

She knew as she bowed that she had not tried hard enough. She had not given this everything – she could still succeed if she persevered. But she ignored those thoughts. She did not want to merely stand here and continue to let this man belittle her. She wanted to leave. "Farewell, High Seat," she said quietly, and exited the room.

Alima was standing outside the door. "Were you listening the entire time?" Ceto Amaya snapped before she could get a hold on herself. Alima blinked, no doubt surprised by this sudden angry outburst, and then the woman's face took on a look of irritation.

"I have served nobles longer than you have been alive, girl," she said coldly. "I know better than to eavesdrop." She began to walk away, but then stopped. "I'm guessing you didn't manage to sway him. I am sorry. Maybe you should go ask whoever sent you here for an easier assignment."

Ceto Amaya wanted to turn her back on the woman without speaking, but knew better than to do so – Alima had done nothing to her. "He will not agree with me," she said simply, before turning away and heading back towards her room. The finery of the mansion was lost on her, now. The man's probably compensating for his own shortcomings, she thought bitterly. The Aes Sedai could have saved his wife, but she told them that she would rather die than… no, that's cruel…

She began swept up her bags, still unpacked, and as she turned to go, caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Her face was carefully blank, almost too blank, which was likely a result of the anger coursing through her in hot waves. Her black hair was still coiled up at the back of her head, and small golden hoops glinted at her ears and at the side of her nose. She set down the bags and, in a quick motion, uncoiled her braid and unbraided it, letting her hair loose; it fell in a dark sheet around her shoulders and down to the small of her back. Light, she had let it become long. She didn't know why she'd put her hair down, other than that she never liked to wear it up – that particular style was merely more practical than leaving it down, and practicality was an important thing at the Black Tower.

Various bags around her shoulders, she left the room and the House. She spotted Alima once more on her way out; the woman gave her an odd look, but otherwise said nothing. Likely she had expected more from Ceto Amaya – here I was, so determined to succeed, and I'm leaving… but what more can I do? She walked quickly to the stable, refusing a groom's help as she walked to the stall of a horse she recognized – the horse I rode here on had a funny stripe down his face and white legs, as if he'd walked through paint… right? she thought, peering at the animal in the stall. She soon realized the side effects of being stubborn and angry, as her expansive ignorance of horsemanship included the saddling of a horse.

Nevertheless, she began to saddle the animal herself. It took her nearly half an hour, but she continued to refuse the groom's help. Eventually, the man voiced an exasperated noise and stopped offering; however, he continued to watch her, occasionally dropping a hint as to what she was supposed to do or what she was doing wrong, and directing her to the proper tack when she grabbed the wrong bridle.

She eventually did ride away, albeit unsteadily; she'd had only minimal trouble getting on the horse this time, but her seat in the saddle was still quite precarious. People eyed her askance as she passed them on the street – a Sea Folk girl in a Black Tower uniform with long hair blowing crazily out behind her, sitting atop a horse that had its bridle on crooked and a saddle that looked as if it might slide off at any moment… well, that was certainly a sight not seen every day.

It took her two tries to find the inn; at the first attempt, she somehow ended up several streets east of where she wanted to be. Light, cities were so unnecessarily confusing – she missed the solid deck of the Wind Song. He had been such a good ship… far more reliable than this ridiculous animal she was currently perched upon, surely. She guided the horse into the barn, moving the reins so elaborately and widely that the horse likely thought he was supposed to end up on top of the building. When she tried to dismount, the saddle slid off the horse's back, causing her to tumble to the stable floor where she and the saddle landed in a heap of straw, black hair, and heavy leather.

Cursing, she shoved the saddle off of her hip – that was going to bloody bruise – and tried to stand up, banging her head into a protruding piece of a stall door as she did so. She cursed again and, needing to take out her anger on something, slammed her fist into the solid wooden stall door.

That hurt.

"Bloody mother's milk in a bloody cup!" she snarled, shaking out her hand. The loud thud of her fist hitting the wood of the door coupled with her louder exclamation startled the horse, which began to prance nervously; as it did so, one of its heavy hooves came down on her foot.

Ceto Amaya let out a pained cry and, still sitting on the stable floor, tried to scoot away from the horse's hooves, but found herself trapped by the stall doors at her back. The horse's prancing was stilled, though, as a hand reached out and took the reins and another hand, presumably belonging to the same owner, gently stroked its neck. The owner of the hands talked softly to the horse, quickly calming the animal down.

A face peered around the horse's head. "Bloody Light," the woman said, "you're terrible with horses, Soldier." The speaker was a Dedicated that Ceto Amaya knew – Jaiden Miakoda. The woman's tilted green eyes held a glint of humor, and an auburn braid swung out behind her as she turned to tie the horse up. She knelt beside Ceto Amaya. "It's Ceto Amaya, right? Are you alright? I heard the commotion and came in just in time to see the horse land on your foot."

"I'm fine," Ceto Amaya said shortly. However, her curt manner was somewhat spoiled as she tried to stand – pain shot through her foot and up her leg, and she stumbled into Jaiden, who caught her. Light, in addition to utterly failing to convince Lord Moran of anything, Ceto Amaya now hurt in four different places, and she had made a fool of herself in front of another person – a bloody Dedicated. She reached up and quickly brushed tears from her eyes – she was a recruit of the bloody Black Tower, and Black Tower recruits did not cry just because they were in a little pain.

Jaiden lowered her back to the floor. "You've not had a good day, I take it?" she asked matter-of-factly. "You seemed to me to be one who was always in pretty good humor, not one to go around startling horses by putting your bloody fist through stall doors." She grinned. "Though you didn't quite manage that – the horses are a bit shaken up, but the door doesn't look much worse for the wear. Now, sit still for a minute and let me see if that horse broke your foot… I've a bit of skill in Healing, though I don't have the Talent."

Ceto Amaya started to try to get up anyway, but Jaiden put her hands on Ceto Amaya's shoulders and held her down. Light, but the woman was strong. Ceto Amaya sighed. "I could walk if you let me lean on your arm," she said. "I don't need to be Healed… what happened was my fault—" She stopped as she felt a small pop in her foot and the pain suddenly faded, and then glared up at Jaiden.

"One of the small bones in your foot had snapped," Jaiden said, either oblivious or, more likely, merely uncaring of Ceto Amaya's glare. "Don't start saying that you don't need Healing just because what you did was your own fault – you'll really regret that mantra if you happen to accidentally, say, put a sword through your own bloody foot." She grinned at Ceto Amaya's raised eyebrows. "It honestly happened to a friend of mine. I left your hand alone, though, if you really do feel a need to be in pain. It looks like one of your knuckles split open, and you'll have some nice bruising."

She grabbed Ceto Amaya's hands and pulled the girl to her feet. "I suppose it's no concern of mine, but what under the Light happened?" Jaiden asked.

Ceto Amaya looked up at the woman – Jaiden was far taller than she – and sighed again. "I was sent to convince one of the High Seats that he should send support to Molvaine Gap. I failed." The words stung more when she put them right in the open there. "What are you doing here? You're an Officer, aren't you? You should be on the battlefield."

Jaiden grimaced. "I know. I was out of the Tower until just a bit ago – some wilderness survival trip that a few of us were on. Needless to say, none of us were pleased about arriving back late… the rest of them got to go straight to their respective duties, but I was sent here first to give a message to Asha'man Sedric. There were no Ambassadors with us, or I suppose they would have sent the message with one of them." She cocked her head at Ceto Amaya. "You failed?" Ceto Amaya nodded miserably, and started to say that she intended to go to the Black Tower and assist in some other way, but Jaiden cut her off. "You're just going to leave? You're giving up?"

Ceto Amaya said nothing – it sounded even worse when put that way. I'm not giving up, exactly… I'm just… doing something else. "You can't just give up if something gets too bloody difficult for you," Jaiden said, sounding somewhat disgusted. "Didn't being at the Black Tower teach you anything? Once things get difficult, you don't quit… you keep going, because they're only going to get harder."

Ceto Amaya's brows drew together over her eyes in confusion. "If things are just going to get harder, wouldn't that be more of a reason to give up?"

Jaiden nearly flailed her arms in exasperation. "No! Listen, do you want to succeed in the Black Tower?" Ceto Amaya nodded. "Of course you do… everyone does. You can't make it for long without wanting to succeed, regardless of your actual reasons for wanting success. And wanting to succeed is the exact reason that you should keep going… you can't just give up when you hit a stumbling block, because the next one you hit will be even harder to get over. You see? If you give up now, you're never going to make it anywhere."

Ceto Amaya must have had a thoroughly unhappy look on her face, for Jaiden's expression softened somewhat as she looked at the girl. "If you can manage to convince this man, whoever he is, of what you want, then whenever you come across something like this again, you'll be prepared. This will make you stronger."

Ceto Amaya thought for a moment. She didn't want to go back – but she had known all along that she couldn't just forget this and move on. This was something that couldn't be ignored; she had to go back and do something about it.

"Can you help me saddle this thing properly?" Ceto Amaya asked, pointing at the horse.

  • Unwanted EnlightenmentSoldier Ceto Amaya din Marin, Mon Jun 19 01:28
    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 ... more
    • An Incomplete Conclusion — Soldier Ceto Amaya din Marin, Fri Jun 23 21:17
      • 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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