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Dusk (Private lesson for Kat)
Mon Aug 14, 2006 09:18 (XFF:

A pair of large eyes stared, slowly blinking in unison as they watched their surroundings with indifference. The wind whistled merrily, gusting its way through the streets of Tar Valon. Coats and scarves fluttered in the breeze, swaying gently to the tempo of the great city as it wound down. Overhead, rays of gold interlaced with blue, the dying rays of the sun yielding dominance to the night.

In its tree, the owl perched silently. Its head swung back and forth. Hunger gnawed in its stomach. Wings flapped hesitantly, beating once, then twice before they folded again. Eyes fixated themselves on the burning ball that inched ever closer to the horizon. He was hungry but age old instinct demanded he wait.

Dusk. The man’s eyes snapped open, the pale jade orbs trained at the window opposite his bed. A single clean motion brought him to his feet as habit took over. Black silks came on in the fading light, hands never missing a beat as they grasped accessories hanging from hooks with the assurance of habit.

The Gaidin strode out of the archway as night gained dominance, the last rays of the sun fading from sight. A large shape flew by on near-silent wings. The owl was regular as clockwork. Talaban breathed, taking in the scents of the Tower grounds. He could smell the dinner from the kitchens, the aroma wafting toward him on the same breeze that tugged gently at his hadori bound hair.

The former thief strode away from the buildings, across the eastern training yards and towards the woods at the edge of the training grounds. Isabel was away from the Tower and would be for another two weeks. Talaban smiled to himself. His habits were one of the things he had restrained for her. It felt good to lapse back into familiar routines. He loved the fiery Gaidar and could hardly wait for her return.

Beneath the trees, at the very edge of the woods, Tal stopped. Moving slowly but deliberately, the wiry Gaidin stretched, feeling the movement of muscles on his slight frame. He began his routine. Stretches fed warmth into scar emblazoned tissue, warming and soothing the aches of a hundred lessons. Each scar was a reminder of something, a lesson to be learnt, mistakes never to be repeated or foolhardy brashness.

Flowing through the stretches, time stood still for the Gaidin as he slipped into the callisthenic positions he had learnt as a child so many years ago. The Ramparts of the Sun, the Shooting Bow, the Swallow, the Swan and the Crow. All one hundred and twenty seven positions flowed in an ingrained routine.

A movement caught Talaban’s eye as, off in the distance, someone approached. He knew it was not Rael. His sparring partner was twice the size of the approaching figure. By the way she moved, it was definitely not one of the Gaidar either. Perhaps it was just a trainee out for a walk. Paying token attention, the Gaidin launched into the next section of his exercises. Flitting across the yard, Talaban shadow boxed with an imaginery opponent, his hands and feet lancing out to rain blows on his “adversary”.

Sweat coated his upper body as Tal broke his routine, facing the forest. He knew the intruder had stopped to watch him from some fifteen feet away. Talaban breathed, feeling the cool night air mist slightly. Whoever it was, the Gaidin was ready. He was never without his weapons. Paired katanas sat easily from his hips in their free swinging sheaths. Half contemplating displaying the “instantaneous draw” that Myddral used, he settled for something less ostentatious.

“Who are you?” he whispered in a cutting tone that he knew would carry just far enough.

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