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Ronan Letifer, Dai Shi Assassin
Jiroh's Falls
Wed Sep 27, 2006 12:23 (XFF:

Lightning flashed across the sky, the clouds having long since taken on a greenish color. There was a scent to the air, a tingling of awareness that told the wary that the weather wasn't going to play fair this afternoon. A wind kicked up over the rolling plains, skittering along the tops of the bent grain and whipping through the deserted streets of Jiroh's Fall. Ronan had just come riding up along the road that skirted the River Haevin in the Caralain Grass, the bay gelding snorting its awareness that something wasn't right in the air.

Today she was alone, working on a mark who had led her into Jiroh's Fall, an out of the way village nestled at the foot of the Black Hills between the foothills and the fork in the river. A place governed by neither Tar Valon, nor Andor, a place that had managed on its own since the days it had been a hub for travelers, centered where Aridhol, Aramaelle, and Coremanda all met. Those days were long since dead, a thousand years of neglect and isolation reducing the farmers of this tiny village to a forgotten state.

Her mark was a crafty and clever young woman who was responsible for having an Asha'man imprisoned for rape and murder, using forkroot to keep the man incoherent long enough for the "law" to take him in Amadicia. And in Amadicia there was only one law, that of the Children of the Light; the Asha'man had been "tried" and convicted—hanged before the forkroot could even wear off. There were many in the Black Tower who screamed for the blood of the Whitecloaks, but a quiet and private conference with Lysander had ended with Ronan convincing him that the Tower needed to target the woman, not the Children in this matter. He'd acceded reluctantly, but there was no denying the wisdom behind her suggestion, the logic behind going after a Whitecloak sympathizer who targeted Black Tower channelers.

Kyran and Jostayn both had confirmed that the woman had run to the north and then turned westward into the Caralain Grass before getting too close to Tar Valon. Ronan knew neither her face nor her name, but after spending the past three days tracking the woman, finding that her tracks stopped at Jiroh's Fall's, she guessed that it wouldn't be too hard to find someone who didn't fit into such an isolated community.

Lightning crackled across the sky and within a few seconds it was followed by a series of crackling peals of thunder. The storm wouldn't be too far off, she guessed, and Ronan wished she had some Talent for Listening to the Wind to find out if a tornado was a strong possibility or not. The weaves were Air and Water, but they were both her weaker Powers and would give her little information that she couldn't already see with her own two eyes. Spurring the gelding forward, her eyes scanned the windows in the buildings, the curtains that fluttered through the openings. The people of Jiroh's Falls knew something was on the horizon and they were preparing.

"Hey! You'd better get you and your horse in here! The twister's gonna hit in a few minutes!" A young, scrappy man yelled at her, his head poking out from a large door that was being propped up from the ground by his skinny arm.

"Do you have room for me and my horse?" She called out.

"Yes, but hurry!" He jumped from the opening, the door falling back to the ground with a bang even as the wind kicked up. Racing toward her, she trotted the bay in his direction, dismounting and glancing at the sky. It was already darkening and the cloud she had seen turn a sickly shade of verdant were now growing ominous and swirling around. "Hurry!" He urged her again, pulling on her arm.

Following him down into a cellar that had probably been built hundreds of years before, she came face to face with a couple hundred people. They weren't huddling in fear or whimpering in silence, but rather they looked at her with avid curiosity as she stepped to the dirt floor, the candlelight illuminating their faces in a warm orange glow.

"I'm Aktor." The man said, holding out her hand and shaking it firmly. "Mayor of Jiroh's Falls. We heard your horse through the ground and with the twister that's coming…" He drifted off, his eyes wandering over to a woman who was nearly as wiry and thin as he was. As soon as her attention was directed to the woman, she felt in her the weak, yet wilder ability to channel. Aktor looked as if he was in his mid-forties while the woman still had the youthful appearance of someone in the bloom of their second decade. "Madam, this is my wife, Lurie. What brings you through our village?"

Her eyes roamed over the faces that stared at her with curiosity and found the same care-worn expressions and eyes that spoke of a life that was both idyllic and hard work all at once. "I was just passing through the village." Ronan said.

"We don't get strangers too often here." Lurie said, moving closer. For Ronan, she could feel the Power in the woman, but to Lurie Ronan would seem some woman she felt a connection with immediately. "Even just passing through. It's a little out of the way for most."

Ronan was saved from having to say anything as there was a dull roar that started low and only grew louder. Almost immediately, there was a cry of dismay as a strong breeze pulled through their shelter and snuffed the candles; Ronan heard Aktor mutter something about the dark and within a few moments, Ronan created blue-white balls of Spirit and Air, tying them off at regular intervals in the shelter and filling the room with illumination. A collective gasp went through the crowd and as she released the Source was able to see the fear and awe in Aktor's face and the look of disapproval in Lurie's.

"We didn't know you were an Aes Sedai!" He said, bowing in a way that only showed that it wasn't something he did often. "My apologies to you—"

"I'm not Aes Sedai." Ronan said, cutting off his effusion before it could get out of hand. Outside the "twister" roared above them, partially obscuring the mutters from the other villagers. "But I am an Asha'man."

The murmurs of the people around here were loud enough to rival the roar, but Lurie almost immediately began moving through them, her words too low for Ronan to catch, especially with Aktor stepping between her and "his people". His own voice was low, but Ronan was sure every man and woman in the shelter caught what he said. "Then I would suggest that once this passes, you keep on passing through, Asha'man." There was a fearful twist to his mouth, a look in his eye that said that the very title frightened him more than the tornado raging overhead.

Ronan gripped his scrawny arm and pulled him aside, bending her head so that her words would only be shared between the two of them. "Listen, Mayor. I'm not here to hurt a single one of your villagers and you have my oath on that. I am, however, after someone whom I tracked to Jiroh's Falls and as far as I can tell, she hasn't left yet. Have you had any other strangers pass through here in the past few days?"

Aktor was clearly frightened by her, but his gaze remained on her, his dark eyes locked with her golden ones. "No, not recently. Last one we had was a peddler that came through more than a month past." He licked his lips. "Why are you after this woman?"

"She was responsible for the murder of another Asha'man." Ronan said, her voice cold as steel. "Worse, she worked with the Whitecloaks to drug him so that they could try and hang him before the herbs wore off. He didn't even have a chance to fight."

The mayor's face paled slightly. "I had no idea, Asha'man. And please take me at my word that we're not hiding anyone."

She gripped his shoulder and gave him a small, hard smile. "I do, Mayor. I do. But I'll need to have your permission to search the village and the houses at my leisure."

"Of course, Asha'man."

She wasn't sure what just happened, but the mayor had evidently stopped fearing her and she was going to have to exploit that. "Let's begin with your village, Mayor. How far out do your people generally spread?"

Although the destruction of Jiroh's Falls wasn't extreme, there were more than a couple houses that had been razed and decimated by the destructive force of the winds. As she stood in the Village Proper, looking at the eastern end of the town, an area that had been flattened, she turned to Lurie. "Everyone seemed pretty calm and no one's too upset about this."

The woman shrugged, not looking her in the eyes. "We get one that comes through at least once every five or ten years. Some come close enough that we can see them as they pass along the plains, usually not even coming close enough to destroy our crops."

"And you knew it was coming." Ronan said, drawing the woman's attention to her directly. "You're a channeler, whether you know it or not. That's how you know what the weather will bring, most likely without fail. That's why your husband looks twenty years old than you while you look the way you did as a young woman."

Lurie sighed. "I know." Ronan blinked at the easy confession, figuring that she would have to deal with crying and denials. "I went to Tar Valon as a girl, I was only fourteen. I made it all the way to the Arches there, but when I got out of the first one, I just couldn't go any further. What they make you go through—" She broke off to wipe at a tear that suddenly appeared. "So I was put out of the Tower, Madeline Sedai gave me enough silver to last me a year, though in places like this, the silver can last you ten. I couldn't go back home a failure so I just traveled until I found this place. I can Heal and Listen to the Wind and I even have a minor Talent in Cloud Dancing, though it's not strong."

Ronan shook her head. "All this time—you knew I could channel the moment I stepped into the cellar." Lurie nodded and she heaved a sigh. "All right, well that's nothing I need to concern myself about. Not right now. I told your husband and I could use your help if you're willing."

"I think I'm willing, Asha'man." Lurie said hesitantly, her eyes watching Ronan to see what she would do or say next. "You're not going to try and convince me to join the Black Tower? To learn what the White wouldn't teach me?"

"Only if you wanted to, Lurie. The Black Tower turns away no man or woman, so you can leave with me if you like, but I won't drag or convince you. Right now I'm trying to find an Asha'man killer. She's either blended in with your villagers well enough that you haven't noticed her yet, or she's in hiding." Ronan looked at Lurie again, judging the woman's average strength. If they linked, Ronan could widen her warded area considerably…"Lurie, would you be willing to link with me?"

The way the woman's eyes brightened, Ronan didn't need her to say anything. Instead she just embraced, "Just open yourself to the Source, Lurie, and I'll take it from there…"

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