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Demetri Sedai, Keeper of the Chornicles
My bondmate for a cart
Fri Aug 11, 2006 07:59 (XFF:

Her initial thought of spending ten days reacquainting herself with the Eyes and Ears agents who had gone by the wayside was vastly underestimated. In the five days she had spent with Dai and Kat Aethan'Tar at the time, she had made plenty of contact, but it had been such a small number compared to the whole. The west-northwest portion of the Westlands was firmly back in her grasp, and for the next few days it was pleasing to see the number of missives and reports come back to her from that area. It was enough to prompt Demetri to turn it into a project that would take her several months to complete, simply because she would take her trips in three day increments.

Evelyn had been amenable to the idea, encouraging it only as a Blue could, a Blue who had once been the Head to the Eyes and Ears of the Blue Ajah. Demetri worried that her absences from the office and the Tower would cause the Amyrlin concern, or that Demetri's loyalty to her position might be brought into question, but Eve had quelled those fears with a soothing and rational understanding on why Deme was doing this.

She and Laurian were sitting in his apartments, the comfort of his leather chairs, the dark drapery and cozy, closeted-from-the-world eliciting a feeling of something she would never feel anywhere but his rooms. He looked at her with some censure, and through the bond she felt his apprehension. "I suppose you'll want to leave me behind again and choose another green Aethan'Tar to protect you?"

"Laurian," she said with only partial censure and complete affection. She smiled at him, feeling affection and warmth for him all over again. "Kat was considered skilled enough to be made Sei'Tar days after our return. But that's not the point. You know I couldn't take you into Seanchan territory. For me it would have meant the collar if we'd been detected and for you, death." She lay a hand on his face. "I couldn't bear that, Laurian."

He softened his displeasure toward her and sighed. "How long will you be away this time?"

"Another six days." She replied, trying to quell her amusement, waiting for him to ask to come along and imagining the surprise on his face when she agreed.

Taking her hand, he turned it over and kissed the palm. "Then I'll be there to see you off again."

"No you won't." She responded instantly, her tone firm with conviction that sent Laurian's own feeling spiraling in confusion. "Dearest, you're going with me. The next couple legs of my journey will take me through the Borderlands and country that is, if not friendly to Aes Sedai, not likely to take us hostage."

"Really?" He asked, brows raised in surprise. Nodding her head with a smile, she was being yanked forward into Laurian's lap and kissed effusively by a normally withdrawn and reserved Brown Aes Sedai.

By the next morning, she and Laurian were preparing their bags for half a week's travel; Daigonyt seemed distant, somewhere on the Gaidin grounds, and he was focused. Knowing her Shienaran Warder, he probably had been packed since yesterday and was using this time to run through some forms to "stay fresh", whatever that meant.

A servant appeared in the doorway. "Aes Sedai, I brought those stockings you asked for, is there anything else I can get you?"

Demetri frowned and looked around at the chaos that would soon be folded neatly into her bags. "Yes, have Mistress Laras put together some food rations for the three of us to last…oh let's say four days. She knows what to pack, so just tell her that."

The woman bobbed a curtsey and disappeared. It was just habitual planning that had made her decide to bring extra food, just in case. She knew Daigonyt had packed it away carefully with the forethought of a general feeding his troops, but her idea of essentials were far different than her Gaidin's. Within a quarter of an hour her bags were bulging at the seams with everything she had brought—even her shawl had been thrown in just in case courtesy dictated it for some unforeseen occasion. It was the Borderlands, after all, their respect for Aes Sedai was unmatched by any. (Except the Malkieri—the Tower couldn't get many of those girls to Tar Valon because most Malkieri felt the Aes Sedai failed them in some way many decades ago.)

With the last buckle pulled into place, Demetri sank heavily to her bed and curled up for a late morning nap. It was going to be last time she slept in a soft bed comfortably for the next six days.

Saldaea didn't look any different from any other nation; they had arrived near the northern border where the terrain was a little rockier and the late spring air still held a biting nip that she blocked out as soon as it hit. They were on a rolling plain that was dotted in the distance by large copses of evergreens, and a curls of smoke rose from a crested hill, indicating that Maradon was just a few leagues off.

Nudging Gai'vaidal forward, Laurian inexpertly jabbed his own piebald in the ribs and they broke off at a brisk trot, Daigonyt already ahead of them and merely a dot in her vision. There wasn't any need to pretend to be a merchant here in Saldaea or for any of the Borderlands, and it was something of a relief to only have their pack horse to worry about rather than a horse and a cart. Glancing at Laurian's spread elbows and bouncing legs, Deme had to wonder if she'd replaced the cart for her bondmate.

At the top of the gentle slop that had hidden Maradon from view, Demetri got her first look at the capital of Saldaea as it nestled against the sparkling waters of the Arinelle. It sprawled, almost squatting, across the land and had made itself a comfortable home, running a border along the river itself to help continue water trade of their various exports and imports.

Daigonyt came galloping back to them easily, his senses keen and aware but his whole person relaxed. "Do you know where we'll be staying?"

Demetri nodded her head. "There's a nice inn called The Peppered Bin. My first contact is there as well, and it would be well to stay there and be in close contact with her."

Both men looked at her dubiously and she didn't blame them. The Peppered Bin sounded like it was one step away from a shanty, but reports from that region indicated it was a well established place that would be more than able to accommodate an Aes Sedai. "Well, what are we waiting for? Maradon's not getting any closer with you two gawking at me."

Spurring the warhorse forward, his long strides ate up the distance quickly and within quarter of an hour she pulled him up, chest heaving from the exertion and yet still chomping at the bit to keep running. The city was walled with high stone and sconces decorated the walls in regular intervals. The western gate was still open but she, Dai and Laurian were required to dismount and present themselves to the guard, a gestured deemed unnecessary when Laurian and Demetri displayed their ageless faces.

"Aes Sedai, my apologies." The man's bow was low and might have been obsequious if she hadn't seen the panic on his expression.

"It's of no consequence, Guardsman, you're diligent in your job for the safety of Maradon. Could you direct me toward The Peppered Bin and assuage your guilt?" Her smile was soft and small but warm, and the guardsman stood erect once more, his face a mask of respect, providing the directions concisely.

She sighed and Laurian looked at her. "What's wrong?"

Shaking her head with a small smile, "Nothing. I was just reflecting on the respect we earn in nations such as this, respect we're not even given in Tar Valon. It's—I suppose I wish for that, when Aes Sedai used to be like any other person, with special talents and gifts. Not feared, not hated, but respected for what we could do. But it's a time that is long since gone and there's no returning to it."

Laurian touched her hand as they rode through the streets and she continued to reflect on that thought.

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