On Mysteries Unsolved
Fri Oct 27, 2006 08:38 (XFF:

She had witnessed her near-sister Heal on multiple occasions in the past, but even so nothing prevented her now from marveling at the dexterity with which the flows of Spirit were extracted and woven. They interweaved themselves into intricate grids whose means might have enabled Jaracruz lace to pale in comparison, and even as they sank in consecutive motion into the servant’s motionless chest she could not follow up on the order. However, in a quarter of a minute’s transience all stilled and Terrian retrieved her hands to straighten to her feet. Menaihya’s gaze left the unmoving body—a corpse, now—and didn’t return thereon. She knew of the implications of Terrian rising without further channeling, and giving her that head-shaking look; the servant was dead, and may the Light preserve her soul. But when her near-sister wove a dome of Concealment around the body, she was slower in realizing the reason of its enacting. Blinking, she latched her sights on the boy Devin and understood. The child stood very still, rigidly so, but her sharp scrutiny didn’t overlook the trembling of the legs. Never was she one to understand wetlandish children—Aiel witnessed death and killing almost since one could walk—, but even her inexperienced reasoning stated that Devin’s sighting of such a gruesome scene could not amount to anything good.

When the halo of saidar didn’t wink out around Terrian’s form, she wondered why, but on second thought this seemed perfectly suitable for the situation. “What did you do with the body?” Lord Shae Lorien voiced his query then, both sounding and looking the part of uttermost disbelief that the murder could have occurred.

“I’ve done nothing with the body, Lord Shae,” Terrian replied calmly, her delivered words that of the judge, “It is still there; merely hidden under the cover of a Concealment weave so as not to scare poor Devin more than is necessary. Someone in this house,” she said to Menaihya, “was trying to kidnap Devin and kill us in the process. The blade that killed that woman was tipped in poison.”

Menaihya’s gaze turned upon the High Lord then, shrewd and hard, and she knew the man could not be missing its probe altogether, not to mention that of Terrian. She could not believe the temerity of the man, and yet his performance was altogether convincing. The shock behind his eyes certainly seems real. Perhaps something had gone wrong in his ‘operation’? Perhaps he truly had thought the night would end with either Terrian or her dead with lethal substances spread through their veins? But that didn’t explain his smugness at seeing them in the parlor. That complacence had been for real. So many factors off-color, and the mystery was indecipherable.

But then again, perhaps their business here was now done. Whatever Shae Lorien had devised, if it had truly been him—for which he hardly had given himself room to doubt—, it had failed. Moreover, the overambitious High Seat had heaped troubles and tempests upon his head, considering he now had two sisters in full who had every reason to charge him of attempted homicide, not to mention kidnapping. An Aes Sedai’s verdict was of stone. Not only had he failed miserably—he had exacted a towering price for it. No wonder the Cairhienin lord looked blanched, drained of color more than his skin usually had the right to. Before their watching he visibly withered half a decade of age, and yet something of the inborn noblesse trait deep within him seemed to preserve his stance and bearing. His tongue flickered uneasily over his lips, leaving a wet sheen, but his coal-black eyes were focused and indignant.

“Aes Sedai, surely you cannot think that…,” he started, but Menaihya cut him short, a slow anger ebbing in her.

“Who are you to determine what Aes Sedai can or cannot do?” she said, her voice cold.

The High Seat lowered his head a fraction in deference, and yet his beady eyes bore them a look of veiled hatred from beneath. “I only beg that you would think about this rationally,” the man said with a measure of held-back desperation, though his voice was as calm and low, “I would never invite you to my own homestead and attempt to murder you in my own hall. And with a poisoned knife? I could never dream of insulting you with a presumed threat, but had my intention been to kill you both, or even just one, which is a ridiculous idea in itself, I would have used a way of superior stealth and intelligence—never by such crude means as a poisoned knife. I am being set up, Aes Sedai. It is so obvious.”

She didn’t like the way his tone edged on condescension near the end, as if he were the wiser of them. Apparently Terrian didn’t either. “Unless, Lord Shae,” the other Green sister said icily, “you would only like for us to think so.” Of course. The fact that all this was so simple and crude that Lord Shae Lorien could not have possibly been behind it all.

The lord stared at them beadily for a long time. “Ah,” he uttered softly, “Now I can see why they say the White Tower was the one to create Daes Dae’mar. However,” he said in slow procession, “I can assure you that I am innocent in this business of the murder.” Skirting close to saying outright that they were wrong, he was. “I am. Would you have me prove it? Alsam!” The sudden yell made Menaihya draw her brows close, and had she been anything but a sister she might have jumped at the unexpectedness. For a moment silence reigned, nothing visible occurring in answer to the summons, if that was what it had been. “Alsam!” the High Lord shouted again, and this time someone did come skittering around the corner. A manservant with a thin, pale face and diffident features.

“My lord?” the servant said uncertainly as he ran up, “What would you—”

“Get me Alsam, you fool,” Lord Shae snapped, and the manservant blinked, ducked his head, and disappeared. Menaihya exchanged a cool look with Terrian, and wondered what this could be about. However, they didn’t need to wait long, peering at Lord Shae’s steadily panic-glazing face, because not long after did a second pair of footsteps herald someone else’s approach. Both her and Terrian’s glances turned towards it to perceive a wiry man dressed in dark clothing, his chin jutting in a sharp angle and his Cairhienin hair cut into the shape of a bowl. A military cut.

Strangely, this new arrival gave her and Terrian a guarded lookover before transferring his gaze towards his lord and giving a smart bow. “My Lord Shae, you summoned?” he said.

“Thrice, yes,” the High Seat said archly, and then spun towards them, clasping his hands behind his back. “Now tell them, Alsam. Everything I ordered you to carry out tonight.”

The man named ‘Alsam’ seemed to be caught off-guard. “But, my lord, do you really wish—”

“Must I repeat myself?” Shae interjected in a growl, not exactly outraged. The man was on edge, here, and not without reason. He was about to be grilled alive by two Aes Sedai.

Alsam hesitated, eyes widening, and then with an alarming speed narrowing into suspicious slits. He did, however, do as ordered. “Lord Shae, High Seat of House Lorien,” he started in addressing them, “ordered me to crack one of the shoes of your horses, so that you, Aes Sedai, would be forced to spend the night here. And whilst you were tending to your rest, I was supposed to kidnap the child in pretense that I was one of the guests who had also requested lodge for the night. Lord Shae was supposed to come to the rescue and save the child from my custody, thus earning your trust.” The man clamped his mouth shut and looked at the High Seat with alarm and something akin to resentment in his close-set eyes, as if unable to believe that he had just been told to do such an unthinkable thing as to reveal-all.

But truly, an interesting plan. Menaihya transferred her gaze from the man named Alsam to Shae Lorien himself, and her mouth flattened in a frown. “You were actually going to do this,” she said with dry disbelief, watching as the lord raised his hands in self-defense.

“Yes, I was, Aes Sedai, and that is the truth. At the least I wasn’t planning to harm the child at all! Or you! I beg you forgiveness,” he said towards them, “for the impudence of it all. Those were my plans for the night, and now I have uncovered all of them to you. The rest, the murder, it was all enacted by someone else!”

Menaihya’s eyes hardened—though in truth they had become so long ago—, and suddenly she was sick of the whole business. Her mind didn’t work like a Blue, and she suspected that this was wearisome even for the Daes Dae’mar-versed Terrian. Whatever had happened here, it had failed and that was that. Unless the perpetrator had intended for it to fail, and reap benefits from the High Lord’s now squirming position. Bah! “Lord Shae,” she said then, “I believe we are done with the whole affair for the night.” She turned to her near-sister. “Terrian?”

“Yes,” the other sister said, laying her slender fingers on Devin’s shoulder and guiding him forth, “Let’s go, near-sister.”

Menaihya’s eyes held Lord Shae’s. “I hope you understand the gravity of this situation,” she said, “An attempted murder of a sister in your house? It does not look well for you.” Her gaze was stony. “I expect you to figure it out yourself, Lord Shae. Figure out who did this, and if the culprit is not brought forth to our attention come the end of this fortnight, I will assure you that we will have reason to suspect you, then.” They turned to leave. “Good-night, Lord Shae.”

Their traveling back to her brother’s manor was spent in silence as the sedan rolled and bounced upon the gentle curvatures of the roads. The night outside the window was black, with beams of iridescence that shone from the pale moon overhead, and the air had become a little chilly, though she and Terrian didn’t feel it, of course. Terrian gathered the child close to her so that he wouldn’t shiver as much; Devin had become noticeably subdued since the dead body incident.

“What do you think?” Menaihya asked softly, “Do you think he was lying?”

“It would have to have been a very well-crafted set of lies,” her near-sister answered, but they didn’t speak any more of it until they arrived at the Roen manor. As Menaihya climbed out of the sedan and mounted the steps up to the front door with her skirts held out of the path of her feet, she could only come to one conclusion. Perhaps Terrian and I need Warders after all. A situation like this only points out their usefulness. In any case… They were through with the business. If Shae Lorien came up with a culprit, they would arrest the man and bring him to Tower justice. If Shae Lorien didn’t come up with a culprit, then they would arrest the High Seat of House Lorien and bring him to Tower justice. It was as simple as that.

In any case, their business was done and their mission accomplished, if in a way they might have never expected. No doubt word of what happened tonight would spread to the four corners of Cairhien city proper, if not beyond. No one would possibly dare laying a finger on Devin after such an event. Must every day in this accursed city be filled with such political adventure…? She’d never last a month here without emanating insanity, taking the spear up against the whole lot of fools, or both. I will always hate Cairhienin. With the grudging exception of my brother, of course. And sometimes even he drives me up the wall.

Jostayn was sitting in the parlor when they entered.

OOC: Oh my goodness, what is up with me and writing at midnight of late? It completely deflates the quality of my posts. Ick. I know, it is fun! Cairhienin politics are so much fun to make fun of! I used the ‘we’re not Blues’ reference in my post, by the way. *grin* And yes, we’ll probably never find the culprits, or if we do, we’ll wash our hands of the matter and that’s that. *yawn* My mind really isn’t functioning anymore. Yes, yes, go participate in the festival! Did you know Mena might get a Warder? *…gasp…*

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