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Soldier Laila
Interview with a Seanchan, Part Two
Sat Jul 8, 2006 20:16
70.105.87.48 (XFF: 192.168.1.3)

The Asha'man that had captured him had bound him with the Power after he wriggled free of the rope to make a mad--and futile--dash for the clifftop. Now Yuril sat alone in the dark tent, sweating heavily, knowing a painful death awaited him. He had seen the battlefield when that blackcoated madman had dragged him in. They were going to torture him until he told them everything, then blow him up with Tainted saidin. Saidin. Yuril shuddered, squirming under the bonds. Light of Heaven, he could feel the Taint against his skin. Saidin. Asanamarin screaming as the wind pulled the raken to the ground, crushing its wings with the force of the blow. The Asha'man had caused it, he was certain of it! Blessed Light, Asha'man held him. He would even prefer Aes Sedai to Asha'man. At least marath'damane were sane, animals though they were.

A dark hand reached in to seize the edge of the tent flap; Yuril tensed at the sight, clenching his fist to try to stop the trembling. A new sheen of sweat budded on his skin. His future executioner. But the tent flap whipped aside to reveal a tall, honey-brown girl in a blue coat, and he relaxed slightly as he recognized the uniform. Regular army. Were Asha'man forbidden to interrogate prisoners? Yuril could only guess why his interrogator came from the ranks of the regulars, but he thanked the Light for this minor mercy.

Another person pushed the flap aside--a servant of some sort with a portable writing desk and stool. Silence reigned for a few moments as she set up the desk before plumping herself down on the stool and pulling out notes, parchment, and a quill. She fixed Yuril with a look. "Name, please," and he realized she was Seanchan.





The man's head jerked back as soon as she spoke. Laila sighed. Of course this was going to happen. She waited for the inevitable response.

"You're a traitor, aren't you," the man growled, eyes narrowing.

Laila glanced up from her paper, hardening her heart. "That has nothing to do with this. Your name. What is it?" She had to establish herself as the person in charge from the start, or else she would get nothing from this man. It was already noon, and she needed this information by sundown.

"I'm not about to tell a filthy traitor--"

Laila brought her hand down on the desk with a resounding crack, cutting the man off. She let him sit in silence, looking him straight in the eye. "You seem to forget your position," she said quietly, enunciating every word carefully. "You are in our hands, and I doubt anyone even knows of your capture. The Seanchan are losing this war. You are not going to be rescued, do you understand? Now. You have several different options. You may cooperate with us, in which case you will be well-treated as a prisoner of war. Or I can get the Asha'man to interrogate you." Laila allowed herself the slightest smirk. The man blanched visibly. So he fears the Asha'man more than he fears me. Good. Clearly, the Illusion weave had done the trick. "So. What is your name?"

The many looked down. She could see him struggling for a moment, but finally he responded in a low growl. "Yuril Sumeisin."

Laila granted him a momentary smile. "Thank you, Master Sumeisin." She scrawled his name on the parchment, then looked back up. How to crack him? Undoubtedly, Yuril would try to hide as much as possible; she would have to catch him in his lies to extract the right information from him. Start with broader topics, work you way in. "How long have you been in the air, Master Sumeisin?"

"...Two days."

"Mm-hm." He wants me to think he came from Ebou Dar or some other great distance. Laila shuffled papers on her desk significantly, without saying a word. One of the general's aides had given her detailed notes on the man's condition upon capture. Traveling light...no food supplies... She nodded to herself. "General Paragus has 12,000 troops, correct? Today's army was just a contingent. The rest of the army is...elsewhere."

Yuril said nothing.

Time to pull out the thumbscrews. She leaned across the desk, narrowing her eyes. "You're just a short-range flier, right?"

"I was flying from Ebou Dar--"

"--With no supplies for a long-range journey, yes, I know." Her voice dropped to an angry hiss. "I don't like lies, Master Sumeisin. You carried a message for the general of this contingent--don't bother denying that you came from the main army. So how large is that army? The remaining 7,000? Or are there other small units scattered across the mountain?"

"General Paragus broke the army up into many small parts," Yuril said stiffly.

"How many armies?"

"Three. Besides this one."

"You really have been successful at finding channelers, aren't you?"

"I--what?" Bewilderment shone through Yuril's stone mask for a moment, before returning to its normal stoicism. It had been a random question meant to distract him.

"I'll tell you a secret, Yuril." Laila smiled slightly, a cruel baring of teeth. "The Black Tower has mobilized itself entirely for this campaign. And we are very good at destroying larger armies. As I'm sure you saw today. But you Seanchan have been fighting us a long time, correct? A general like Paragus should know that by now."

"I...suppose so." Yuril looked away, non-commital.

"So you admit the other 7,000 are in one large group?"

"Well--no! Wait! Of course not! I mean, the armies are scattered across--"

"But such small armies would be easily crushed, correct? Look what we did today. Twice our number on the battlefield--including twenty damane--and we still destroyed the entire army. Dividing the army up would only leave it vulnerable. It's better to travel in numbers. Isn't that right, Master Sumeisin?"

"Um...well...I guess..." The words slipped out before he could clamp his mouth shut. Laila smiled.

"And only a large force would have the resources to badly hurt an army of highly trained battle damane."

"That's right."

"And that is what Paragus is doing right now."

"Correct." The man puffed up with his pride in the Ever Victorious Army.

"So he possesses the remainder of the forces, well-supplied for battle."

"Right." Yuril nodded without thinking. Perfect. Swallowing a triumphant grin, Laila made a few quick notes. Rest of army with Paragus...well supplied...

"Tell me, Master Sumeisin, doesn't an army need a lot of damane to fight an opponent with channelers?"

"Of course!"

"How many damane marched from Ebou Dar?"

"Forty."

"But there were twenty here today, Master Sumeisin...that would only leave thirty with the main army."

"Um..."

"Isn't that a little odd--leaving half the damane with a siginificantly smaller army?"

"Well--uh--"

"Twenty damane for 5,000 soldiers. That's about one damane per 250 soldiers. I'm sure Paragus would want equal if not greater proportions with the bulk of his army."

"Well...yes..." Yuril hesitated. He was admitting to something--he just wasn't certain what he had given up. Laila scribbled down 28 or more damane with Paragus.

"Master Sumeisin...how do fliers usually travel?" Yuril looked at her strangely. "Do you zig-zag over the land often?"

"If I have to..."

"But when a messenger carries an urgent message, he takes the shortest route, right?"

"Of course."

"Are ever any barriers in the air?"

"Well, it all depends on weather conditions." The man stared into the distance, seeing the skies in his mind. "There are no physical barriers per se, but the wind can easily blow a flier off-course. Like birds." He's not talking to me anymore, Laila realized. He's thinking of something else. "Of course, morat'raken are trained to handle such conditions, but a storm formation can force a long detour..." Yuril trailed off, barely seeing her anymore. Flying in the mind's eye.

"It's a good thing conditions have been quite nice these past few days, right?" Laila said brightly.

"Oh,yes. Perfect for flying."

"And you took the shortest route, correct? Flying south from your army."

"Well, yes--I mean, I--" Laila suppressed a smile as Yuril snapped back to the present, frantically backtracking as he searched for his mistake. She made one last note--Paragus lies directly to the north--and got up from her stool.

"Thank you for your cooperation, Master Sumeisin." She ducked out of the tent, papers clenched so tightly that they crumpled in her fingers. Now to report to General Kakita. And rest. Already she could feel the tiredness surging within her--the weave against exhaustion could only last so long. Good thing this didn't take all day, huh?



OOC: I made a mistake on an earlier post in stating that the Black Tower army is 5,000 strong, imply that the Seanchan force they met was 10,000 soldiers. In actuality the Black Tower was 2,500 while the Seanchan were 5,000--numbers that I used for the interview here.

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