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Ronan Letifer, Dai Shi Assassin
Double wards
Tue Oct 3, 2006 09:57 (XFF:

Wards had never been Ronan's strong point. They were often crudely constructed and clumsy in execution, even if they did work as intended. For someone who possessed style and finesse while assassinating a target, her inability to grasp the finer and more delicate points of Warding was something that dug into her pride. One point upon which Ronan could lean was the fact that although Lurie hadn't done much channeling in the years that had passed since being turned from the Tower, her memory for the basics of Ward construction was impeccable. Lurie recalled theories and practices with wards that Ronan had never been taught simply due to different teaching methods in the Black Tower, and as a result, when they linked, Ronan was able to spin out the threads of Fire, Air and Spirit into the necessary pattern.

She had originally though to encompass the entire perimeter of the town, but both the limitation of her power and stretching a weave so thin changed her mind. The purpose, she explained to Lurie, was to find out where her mark was hiding in town and to know instantly when the ward was breached.

"If you set the ward like that, Asha'man," Lurie had said, "You'll be running hell-pell all over town. We farm and we have outlying areas we go to every day. You need something else." She tapped on her lip thoughtfully and Ronan was struck by her Aes Sedai composure. Whether the woman thought she was strong enough to be Aes Sedai, Ronan knew that the woman no doubt was. With reluctance, she released the circle and the Source to look at the townswoman. "You're not so much concerned with who leaves the town, you're more concerned with who leaves the town and doesn't come back."

"You're suggesting a double ward system." Ronan said slowly. "But that just widens the radius I need to try and cover, and I couldn't possibly—"

"Not without foci." Lurie interrupted, her voice quick and excited. "We can assume the person you're after will try to slip out with a group of people to escape notice and blend in." Ronan nodded her agreement. "Which means you need to ward only three places in the town. Once the person passes through that ward, they'll make a break from the group and leave, so when they pass the second ward, it'll set off the alarm for you and you can track them down."

"But that still doesn't help me, Lurie. How do you expect me to ward an even greater circle? Because she could take off through the plains, along the road, through the foothills. She's not going to be limited to traveling on the road." Ronan frowned. "You said foci. Focusing the weaves through a solid object not related to the Power. Oh." Her brain suddenly lit up with understanding and the woman nodded her head with a soft smile. "I could set up a series of small posts around a perimeter and link the wards to each of the posts. That way I could get a greater circumference and I'm using only small bits of the Power to do it. Lurie, that's brilliant."

The woman blushed to the roots of her hair with the genuine compliment. "It was nothing."

"No, it's creative thinking, don't brush it off." Ronan disagreed. Shifting her weight she looked around the town as it milled with people picking up the pieces of houses, barns, one goodwife even swept broken glass from the road so that the horses wouldn't step on it. "I'll work on setting the wards, Lurie, if you'll get a dozen sturdy sticks, posts, whatever."

The woman hurried off with a quick nod and ducked her head, but not before Ronan saw Lurie flush with pleasure. Striding toward the first of her three points to set wards. When she'd first tried to come up with the concept, Ronan feared she'd be too far out of her league with the warding systems, but in truth, all she was doing was creating two very simple wards. One tagged the person with a small piece of Spirit as they passed through, like getting wet while walking through the rain, while the second Ward would only go off if someone passed through it with the bit of Spirit on them.

She knew she was going to a lot of trouble to find her mark, but she guessed that Sharseia was in hiding somewhere, and if Lurie and Aktor hadn't seen any new faces, then it was a safe bet that twister or no, she'd found a place to hide and she hadn't come out yet. Word would soon spread around the town that an oddly dressed woman had come riding in right before the tornado and was going to hang around, meaning that Sharseia would need to get out of the town quickly.

Which meant that Ronan had to work fast.

The last stake was driven into the ground and with a final weave of Earth and Spirit, she felt the circle close. Lurie's idea for making small focus points around the perimeter had been truly brilliant. Without that small piece of advice, Ronan might have found herself either too taxed to race after her mark, or running around too much after the wrong people. Lurie had promised to keep an eye out for strangers while Ronan placed the stakes, which was preferable. Although the woman had proven invaluable, Ronan didn't trust the woman to weave the wards across the stakes, a small opening could easily be left.

Riding her mount back into the town, there was a lot of activity happening—a lot of movement that a strange face could easily be concealed. Lurie was no where in sight, but Aktor strode up, taking the reins from her with a small smile. "I haven't seen Lurie so happy in years. I don't know what you did to her, Asha'man, but thank you."

Sliding down from the horse, Ronan shook her head. "I didn't do anything but remind her that she can channel, though I doubt she's been far from the Source." A sinking feeling overtook the assassin. "You did know she could channel, right?"

Aktor laughed. "I did. She told me her whole story before we got married. I think she's missed it, but you're right. She Heals as she can, minor things that won't tip off the others of course, hiding it behind her herbs, but she's missed it. Learning, finding new weaves, all of that. Says that if she hadn't been put from the Tower, she might have been a Yellow or Blue."

The curve to Ronan's lips was faint. "Maybe." Thrusting out a sketch of Sharseia, she asked, "Have you seen anyone who looks like this woman? She's in her late twenties and may have cut her hair to pose as a boy, she's slender enough."

He studied the picture for a long moment before shaking his head. "No, but I'll have everyone keep an eye out." The mayor paused, studying her. "What will you do?"

"Wait for her. Wait for her to try and run, and then bring her to Tower justice." Ronan's words were clipped, harsh. There wasn't any doubt in her voice or in Aktor's understanding that Sharseia would die for her treacherous actions against the Black Tower. She left it for his conscience to decide if Ronan was here to bring the woman back or kill her on the spot. "I'd like you to begin circulating that there's an Asha'man here in Jiroh's Falls, Mayor. I'll keep visible and do some things that clearly mark me as who I am."

"You're pushing her to run."

"Bloody right I am." She growled. "I'll be over on the east end of the town setting things on fire, if you'll start spreading the rumors that I'm here to help and that I'm looking for someone. If that doesn't make her run, I don't know what else will."

The entire day had passed without a sign of anyone passing through the second ward and she slept lightly enough that if the ward had gone off, she'd be awake. After spending nearly an hour awake in the small room, Ronan was familiar enough with the area to Skim back to it as necessary. As dawn rose the next day, a cock crowed the rise of the sun, prompting the town to come to life.

Descending with a hint of sleep in her eyes to the smell of eggs cooking, bacon crisping and ham sizzling on an iron skillet, Lurie offered her a small smile. "Looks like last night was a little restless for you. Here, have some potatoes and bacon, the eggs will be done in a moment." The plate settled in front of her, but the smell of it turned her stomach.

Pushing aside the food, Ronan rose, "Actually, I'm going to go ride around my perimeter and take a look at everything. No word on Sharseia yet?"

Lurie shook her head in a silent negative response. "She'll show up soon, though, Asha'man. No one can hide in here for long without help and I can't imagine who would help a stranger and not say anything." Her mouth quirked in a silent, thankful smile and then she was heading out to the stables.

The perimeter was still in tact and hadn't been disturbed or tampered with. She didn't like having a suspicion for Lurie, but Ronan couldn't be careful enough when trying to find her mark. Sharseia was a dangerous woman, and crafty—Lurie said she couldn't imagine her hiding without help and it remaining silent, but Ronan could. Her mark had lured an Asha'man into the hands of a Whitecloak, she could easily convince someone to keep quiet. Poisoning their mind against an Asha'man so that their Samaritan wouldn't go to Ronan, nor to Lurie who was working with Ronan, about her.

She was just trotting into Jiroh's Falls again when a metallic cacophony swelled in her ears, the heavy clanking of bells, pots, pans, and other assorted metal items that clanked around in the covered peddler's wagon. He was in the midst of telling some great story, long lean legs struck in a heroic pose with one foot propped on the side of his seat, hands on his scrawny hips. His nose was too big, his hair too thin and it was all set off by a ridiculously thick and large mustache.

"It's war with the Seanchan against the Aes Sedai, war with the Aiel, those black-veiled savages!" He cried out. "And worse of all, the Asha'man are tearing up the ground, killing the innocent, bathing in the blood of children, they—"

She'd head enough when it came to Asha'man and quickly gagged the man with a weave of Air. His eyes bulged in surprise as she rode forward, pins gleaming on her raised collar, pips displayed proudly beneath the red lacquered dragon. "I don't know about you, but I don't think I've had the disgusting experience of bathing in the blood of children, peddler." He said something, but it was liquid and choked. "Oh, sorry, what was that?"

Removing the gag, he breathed in a deep lungful of air, as if she had denied him breath as well as speech. "Witch!" He cursed. "Asha'man witch! Don't touch me with your vile Power again." He spat, turning back to the crowd of townsfolk who watched with mingled expressions of horror, fright and curiosity. His demeanor had changed from angry and hateful to confident and charming. "Let's get back to the issue at hand, shall we? You want to buy things and I have things to be bought! Come forward, one at a time, and let's see what I can sell to you!"

She watched the peddler warily, feeling something odd and off about the man, but unable to put her finger on it. His blue eyes flickered over to her, small and beady compared to his large nose and mustache; there was a burning of contempt in his gaze that swiftly fled when he turned away from her and back to the townsfolk of Jiroh's Falls.

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