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Talaban Morenae, Gaidin
Safe deposit withdrawal
Thu Dec 28, 2006 00:12 (XFF:

Isabelle breathed deeply, taking in the sickly sweet scent of the Blight. The cloying aroma did not bother her. Perversely, it was the smell of home. After spending more than half her life in the Blight, she knew the contours and the terrain of the cursed land as well as any huntsman knew the woods around his own cabin.

The smooth, worn shaft of the longbow pressed against her palms, exerting a comforting pressure as the aged Gaidar squinted, her eyes darting across the landscape. Standing atop the highest point within the ruins, she would be the first to see if the enemy approached. Shielding her eyes, Isabelle turned toward the sun, scrutinizing the approaches to the ruins.

Below her, weaves of Air moved steadily, gripping large pieces of rubble as if they were weightless and depositing them in another neat pile some distance away. The entrance to the vault was buried beneath tons of rubble, as it had been when Alisse had first discovered it. Even with six Aes Sedai, it would take the better part of two hours to uncover the portal. On top of that, a powerful, inverted ward sat snugly about the entrance, further securing the vault.

Rahien sat atop his mare, the hawkish old Gaidin looked at easy, as if he was anywhere but in the Blight. It was a carefully cultivated facade, designed to lure enemies into becoming lax and careless. In reality, the Warder was carefully observing his surroundings, ready to lash out at a moments notice.

The Blight, however, was strangely silent. The glassy waters of the seven lakes shone, reflecting glittering sunshine as Rahien looked around. Even accounting for the fact that trollocs disliked this place, it was too silent. His instincts screamed though senses insisted there was nothing untoward near. Rahien knew the Blight was readying itself, the calm before a storm. He just felt it. Turning the horse around, he rode back toward the ruins. Alisse would listen. She knew of his uncanny feel for the Blight.

Talaban made his way down the gently sloping passage, his katana leading, its gleaming blade causing strange reflections. The musty air tasted stale, as if the vault had not been opened for decades. Behind him came all six Sisters in single file, their footsteps swift and impatient as they tried to hurry forward. Globes of light floated above their heads, banishing shadow and darkness from the vault.

The tunnel opened into the vault proper. An underground chamber with stone walls, the vault was not large but had hundreds of recess carved along the walls. Inside each little alcove sat an item. Rings, statuettes, bracelets, ornaments, necklaces, a myriad of items peeked out, all unrelated except for one property. Every single item utilized the Power in some way.

As if released, the six Aes Sedai separated, their footsteps raising little dust swirls from the floor as they bustled around, peering at items, touching the occasional one that elicited additional curiosity. Selected items were brought hurriedly to Alisse, who examined each before dropping it into a non-descript leather satchel she had bought with her.

The Sisters seemed to take interminably long, the minutes ticking by as the trickle of items slowed until, finally, Alisse drew shut the leather strings of the bag. She motioned gently, the Gaidin at the entrance to the passageway turning around to make her way back to daylight. Like six silent wraiths, the aged women followed, muttering inaudibly. Talaban brought up the rear, moving slowly, keeping a small distance between himself and the last Sister. He did not expect attack from inside the vault but precautions never hurt.

Alisse blinked as the sun blinded her momentarily. The outside seemed much brighter than the vault deep within the bowels of the earth but in reality, the sun was already setting. As her vision adjusted, she squinted at the skyline. They had taken much longer than expected. She had maybe two hours of sunlight left. Before she could call for him, Rahien materialised beside her. The stringy old Gaidin kept his eyes on the terrain as he spoke, “Something’s moving, Alisse. I feel it in my bones. Its big.”

Worry resonated through the bond. Not for himself but for her. Alisse smiled gently. Of her many, he was the best yet. Talented but not a cold killer. She nodded. Hopefully there was enough time. Gesturing to her Sisters, the Aes Sedai began work. The ward sprang up, taking shape as six streams of Saidar wove simultaneously. It was one of the most dangerous pieces of channelling Alisse dared try. And it was only with these five that she would even consider it. The ward was meant to be utterly destructive and even a single mislaid skein would trigger the entire mass, quite probably killing everyone within the ruins.

Talaban kept alert as rock after rock piled over the entrance of the vault. The air was feeling chilly now, the Blight cooled rapidly after sunset. He shivered. Not from the cold but from the fear of the intangible. Night was when the Blight was at its most dangerous. Even though the Gaidin had once travelled the trackless wastes alone at night, it was not something he wanted to repeat. Fingers met the cool chain as the former thief pulled the coif from its pouch. Donning the thin hood, he felt its comforting weight settle on top of his head.

The last rumbles of stone died away as the rubble settled. The Aes Sedai were done. Bones ached as Alisse mounted. She was getting old. Witchlight glowed eerily, a wan luminescence in the deep darkness of the Blight. She glanced around. Everyone seemed to be in place. The Warders were already on alert, weapons in hand. She motioned and the entire train took off. She allowed Rahien to set the pace, the old Gaidin moving far ahead as he coaxed his mount forward. She could feel his edge, the persistent nagging instinct to just hightail it out of the Blight. Still, discipline held. The phalanx moved swiftly, the thunder of horses’ hooves echoing over the seemingly empty lands.

Deeper than night, smoother than silk, the black blade sliced through the air with nary a sound. Instinct saved him more than anything else. Rael brought the flat of his own massive sword into play, his ancestral blade crackling as Power wrought steel met Tha’kandar forged blade. Muscle barely bulged as he held the backhand stroke at bay. Quick as lightning, before the Fade could react, Rael reached over and hauled the creature clear of its saddle, tossing it into the air. It landed with a thump several feet away.

Where emptiness existed behind them mere moments ago, several halfmen now rode, their black steeds thundering behind the riding Gaidin. Without a word, six Warders peeled off from the rear, turning back to engage the approaching enemy. Alisse barely blinked, urging her stallion to greater speed. Ribela shouted a few words in her melodious voice, the instructions carrying clearly despite the din. Reacting smoothly, the warriors fanned out, opening into the loose triangles and spreading out over the vast wasteland.

Talaban rode to the left of Alisse. In front of them, Rahien led, setting the pace on his brown mare. The former thief gripped his blades tighter. He felt sweat in his palms, pooling slightly as the leather grips absorbed the liquid. Fades were the least of surprises that the Blight could throw at the unwary at night. He did not even think of the Gaidin behind. They would make it out or die trying. Every individual there was a Warder. The Sisters would know the body count before the night was over.

  • Into the BlightTalaban Morenae, Gaidin, Thu Dec 28 00:09
    The night air was dry here. Much drier than in Tar Valon. Alisse Sedai felt her throat itch slightly. Of its own accord, a water skin materialized in front of her. Taking it, she sipped before... more
    • Safe deposit withdrawal — Talaban Morenae, Gaidin, Thu Dec 28 00:12
      • Strangers in the nightTalaban Morenae, Gaidin, Thu Dec 28 00:13
        The thrum of galloping hooves ceased abruptly as the riders pulled up beneath the first real trees on Shienaran soil. For several minutes, there was no sound save for the wheezing of the horses.... more
        • Blue on blueTalaban Morenae, Gaidin, Thu Dec 28 00:14
          Into the forest both figures went, each dancing nimbly across the soft ground, the stranger picking a rapid path deep into the woods with Talaban hot in pursuit. On and on they went, until, finally,... more
          • Deja VuTalaban Morenae, Gaidin, Thu Dec 28 00:16
            Talaban hissed slightly at the sting of the antiseptic solution. Rael murmured something meaningless as he ran the swab across the scalp of his fellow Gaidin. He alone among the entire corps knew of... more
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