Lease this WebApp and get rid of the ads.
An Undesirable Expedient
Tue Jun 27, 2006 00:56 (XFF:

"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 explained her absence, but she quickly discarded them. It was probably best not to use them, after all. It would just be simplest to allow people to explain the matter to themselves, rather than making sure that everyone heard the same story, with no conflicting points – overall, lying tended to complicate things.

Her mind was still full of what Jaiden had said to her. Seemingly the standard student-mentor situation – she knew that Jaiden taught frequently, and it was quite likely that the woman had given that speech to someone else as well – but it had seemed like more than a pre-planned speech stored in the memory and brought out in times of need. She would have to remember to thank the woman properly sometime; if Jaiden had not stumbled upon Ceto Amaya when she did, Ceto Amaya would surely have gone to Asha'man Sedric and asked for another assignment, or to be sent back. Who knows what the man would have said to that. Certainly, an Asha'man would not take well to a Soldier coming to him and admitting to giving up.

"Please, sir, this mission you've given me is too hard," yes, that would certainly go over well, Ceto Amaya thought with a grimace. It would have been nice to use the excuse that she hadn't been in her right mind, but there had been nothing that could have put her in a "wrong" mind, so to speak. She had just not been thinking clearly about the consequences.

Selfish, that's what it was, she thought as she walked once again through the heavy front doors. All I could think was that I didn't want to do it… but that, quite simply, doesn't really matter. "I've got to do it anyway," she said aloud, albeit softly.

Nevertheless, someone heard her: Alima was passing by once again. How under the Light did that woman always seem to find her…? "I see you've returned," said Alima, raising an eyebrow as well. Light, was the rest of her day going to be spent on the receiving end of quizzical facial expressions? "And here I was thinking that you had given up," Alima said, after a moment. "I suppose you really do have more to you than I thought."

Ceto Amaya smiled. "Thank you," she said, taking it for a compliment – it was likely as close as she would get to one, here. "Could you tell me where Lord Moran is now, please? I'm going to go to my room to tidy up quickly, but then I'd like to see the High Seat again." She was probably in great need of tidying up… two rides through Caemlyn and a few minutes spent rolling around on a stable floor surely hadn't done anything complimentary for her appearance.

"He's right where you left him," said Alima. "He's often in that room… spends most of his time in there, reading." The serving woman's forehead creased slightly as she said this – apparently, she still did care for the man, as she seemed to worry about him. Ceto Amaya didn't see how anyone could even respect, let alone care for such a man, but apparently some feelings died hard.

Ceto Amaya thanked Alima and went back up to her room, once again managing to completely ignore the various finery and general decorative air of the House. Once in her room, a glance in the mirror showed that she was indeed in need of some straightening up – her hair, still down and now rather disheveled, had several pieces of straw stuck in it, and several more were stuck to her black coat and pants. She grabbed a comb from the washstand and began to go through her hair, wincing at the tangles. After the straw was gone from her hair, she removed her coat and pants and shook them out rather violently before putting them back on.

She studied her reflection in the mirror for a moment, and upon deciding that she still looked a bit… dusty… washed her face. Her hair still stayed down – somehow, she felt more reassured with it hanging down around her shoulders. Her mother had, last Ceto Amaya had seen her, had long hair, longer than Ceto Amaya's was now. And her mother had always been good at this sort of thing. It was a ridiculous notion that her mother's skill for persuasion could be passed on through a hairstyle, but Ceto Amaya was becoming desperate.

The walk back down to the front room, where Lord Moran was, seemed far shorter than the walk to her room had been. Ceto Amaya stood before the door for a moment, hands clenched tightly. Alima came up behind her without Ceto Amaya's notice; Ceto Amaya jumped when the woman spoke.

"Would you like me to introduce you again?" she said, looking as if she understood what was going through the girl's mind at the moment.

"That would be wonderful," Ceto Amaya said, smiling brightly. She had no intention of further betraying her feelings. To anyone who saw her, she should appear as steady as a rock, as reliable as an anchor.

That was her intention, at any rate. Whether she would actually accomplish it was another thing entirely.

Alima opened the door and curtsied. "Soldier Ceto Amaya din Marin Silver Star, my lord," she said, her head bowed. Moran gave Alima an unpleasant look, but he merely raised an eyebrow at Ceto Amaya.

Alima shut the door behind them once more, and Ceto Amaya bowed to the High Seat yet again. Perhaps she should have waited longer before coming back… but second thoughts would do her no good now. "I hope I find you well, High Seat?" she said cordially, smiling. A bemused smile spread across Moran's face.

"You've changed your tactic, I see," he said slowly. "However, I still know what this is going to come to. And I do not wish to send troops to Molvaine Gap."

"Why, lord?" Ceto Amaya asked. It was an oddly simple question, yes, but possibly it would yield more results than she had gotten as of yet. No matter what she got out of this man, she refused to resort to begging again; she would not lose her temper or become emotional this time. No matter what, she would remain in control of the situation.

"I do not see the necessity," Moran said, equally simply. Ceto Amaya resisted the temptation to roll her eyes. As Ceto Amaya's mother had said when Ceto Amaya and her siblings were all small children and had come to her with an explanation for some mishap they'd caused: "You reuse the same excuses! Do you really think so poorly of my intelligence that you think I wouldn't remember that you said just that a few hours ago? Be creative! I won't have my children boring me!" Demera was one of the sweetest people Ceto Amaya knew, but Demera had never taken excuses of any sort from her children – she had taught them from a very early age that anything they did was their responsibility.

"Lord Moran, you've told me that already. Pardon me for being so blunt, but I don't believe that that's your true reason."

Moran looked merely amused. Where was the man's anger? He hadn't even seemed angry when he had ordered that she leave – barely annoyed, even. "What is my 'true' reason, then, girl? Why will I not send soldiers to Molvaine Gap?" He traced the cover of his book with a finger – the same book that he had been reading in the previous meeting.

Ceto Amaya resisted the urge to take a deep breath. "I believe, Lord Moran, that you are, for lack of a better word, testing me. You're seem to want to see just how far I'll go to get you to send these soldiers to Molvaine Gap… you seem to be amused by this. I beg your pardon, lord, but I believe that if it were someone else in my place, someone older and more experienced, that you would have already agreed."

Lord Moran raised both eyebrows. Ceto Amaya was getting rather annoyed with all the questioning looks pointed in her direction – was she that odd, that people felt the need to raise their eyebrows to her at all times? Then he smiled that strange, almost predatory smile of his. "I'll not lie," he said, "that's fairly accurate. Not all of it, but fairly accurate. You remind me of my Alysa – she was stubborn, like you. She always wanted me to do what was right. But Alysa was stronger than you, mentally. I believe I am correct in the assumption that you left after I sent you away and had no intention of returning. I don't know why you are back here, but I do not believe that your original intention was to come back. Alysa would not have given in so easily… she was a strong woman." He sighed. "I do miss her. Life seems emptier without her around. I don't have much… company anymore."

The look he gave Ceto Amaya made her stomach clench. She knew now what the man wanted, and she'd been a fool not to realize it before. The only woman he'd loved was dead, but love did not always matter. She had to get away… doing this would be so… underhanded…

But… I could get him to agree. Those extra soldiers would benefit the battle. And I could succeed.

She smiled slowly. If this was what she had to do… "Lord Moran, if you will agree to the conditions I've already presented, I'm sure some 'company' could be arranged."

Moran's smile grew, if possible, wider. "I thought this was what it would come to, girl. I hoped it would. And I was right."

Ceto Amaya resisted the temptation to slap the man. "Do you agree? Will you send support to Molvaine Gap to aid in the coming battle with the Seanchan?"

"I will," Lord Moran said. "I will do so immediately, so long as you agree to… your half of the bargain." Light, he looked at her in a way that made her want to curl up in a corner, but she nodded, still smiling. Lord Moran stood up and strode across the room, opening the door. "Alima!" he called, and the serving woman was at the door. "Alima, tell Aros to prepare the soldiers to march to Molvaine Gap, and to leave as soon as is possible."

"Yes, lord," Alima responded, curtsying. As she did so, her eyes darted towards Ceto Amaya, full of questions that Ceto Amaya did not want to answer.

Moran shut the door and walked across the room to another door, which he opened, revealing that it led to a bedchamber. Ceto Amaya felt guilt like a knife twisting in her gut, but she walked forward, still smiling. She had suggested this… and as long as she pretended that she was perfectly all right with the idea, that she was perfectly agreeable… she was still in control.

The door closed behind them.

"Lord Moran has agreed to send support, Asha'man. I believe his soldiers are already mobilized."

Sedric made a mark on a long roll of vellum. "Very well done, Soldier," he said, smiling down at her. "And only in one day, too… very well done, indeed. You'll quickly become quite a valuable asset to the Black Tower if you continue in this way."

Ceto Amaya flushed slightly. "Thank you, Asha'man, but I didn't do nearly as well as you think," she said softly, and walked away. Sedric peered after her for a moment, a slightly worried look on his long, good-humored face, and then called her back.

"Ceto Amaya, correct?" he asked. Ceto Amaya nodded stiffly. "Listen, Ceto Amaya… I'm not going to ask you what you did, because I don't need to know. But it's no matter what you did. You got what you needed, you got it quickly, and Lord Moran doesn't appear to be storming the doors of the inn, so I assume that you kept all parties on good terms. According to the aftereffects, you did a fine job, and that's all that matters now."

"Yes, Asha'man, thank you," Ceto Amaya said, bowing. He was wrong. What she had done had been anything but fine. She'd taken a shortcut, the easiest route available, to get what she needed. In this case, it had worked, but it wouldn't always; what was she going to do the next time she found herself in a tough situation?

Munin's face floated to the top of her thoughts again, but this time, it wasn't the Munin from her dream, sitting on a line and watching as Ceto Amaya fell to the deck below. This was the Munin from a few years ago, the Munin that Ceto Amaya had truly known. Munin's melodic, matter-of-fact voice drifted through her thoughts, accompanying the face.

"She thinks she can get anyone to do anything based on her looks. And if she can't get someone to do what she wants by flaunting herself, she usually goes past that. Constantly brags that she can get a man to do whatever she wishes him to do. Why are people like that?"

Ceto Amaya headed up the narrow stairs of the inn to a small room that she had been given upon coming back. "Would Munin forgive me, if she were alive today?" she asked herself softly. "Would she accept the excuses that I know I've got no right to give?"

OOC: And that's the end of it. Rock on.

Poor little Ceto Amaya XD At least she should be Dedicated soon.

  • 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 Expedient — Soldier Ceto Amaya din Marin, Tue Jun 27 00:56
Click here to receive daily updates