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Talaban Morenae, Gaidin
Strangers in the night
Thu Dec 28, 2006 00:13 (XFF:

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. Everyone looked back toward the dark silhouette of the Blight. Some dismounted and took up bows though the majority of the Gaidin stayed mounted. “They come,” the Sausann announced in her gravely voice.

Within moments, the first rider was discernable. Two, three, four, five. The Sisters gathered around the Warders, healing them of their injuries as the men wiped black blood from steaming blades. They waited another hour but the sixth man never returned. Conferring silently, the Aes Sedai spoke among themselves before the order to mount was passed.

With few words, Gateways again shimmered, the silvery discs rotating open into doorways. The Warders rode through, two before each Sister and two after at each gate. Emerging back to solid ground within Kandori lands, the Sisters again rode around, touching all. Talaban shivered inwardly as the familiar cold chill ran through his veins.

Suddenly, Rael spoke. “I smell smoke. Burning wood. And blood. Trolloc blood,” his deep voice murmured. Not another word was needed. They slipped back into position rapidly, riding forward. Not too long after, all could hear the ring of steel on steel. The Gaidin loosened out, opening into a battle line. The battle came into view. Trollocs were attacking a small town called Podian, not far from where the Tower detachment had been camped. From the looks of it, most of the Sei’Tar and Gaidin were within the walls. Hampered by the number of green fighters, Jield had chosen the safest course available to him, defending the town from behind its walls.

Alisse saw the mass of trollocs throwing themselves at the walls of Podian, seeking to bring the village down more by sheer weight of numbers than anything else. She sighed. With pockets of Gaidin fighting within the mess, there was little they could do but to wade into the fray. Reaching to her sides, she drew out two hilts. Shaped like large fangs, the cuendillar items were two of the prizes from the vault that she had kept for herself. Chanelling Spirit slightly, she watched as “blades” of pure fire lanced out from the hilts. Weightless blades that cut through anything they touched like a hot knife through butter, they made even a mediocre fighter dangerous. Alisse was a good bit better than mediocre.

Like a silent ram, the Gaidin slammed into the back of the trollocs, the force of their charge and the ferocity of the attack carving deep furrows into the unprepared mass. Behind them, widening the cracks, came the Aes Sedai. Talaban let himself go as soon as his blades touched trolloc flesh. The battle trance came without bidding, his blades lancing out in all directions, the katanas spilling black blood in their wake.

Vaulting backward off his stallion, the Gaidin landed in the wake of his own path of chaos, cutting another swathe off to the right. This was mindless slaughter. Trollocs fought well enough to trouble average soldiers but few of them had enough skill with their weapons to trouble full Gaidin.

Seeing the sudden emergence of “reinforcements”, the men within the village let out a ragged cheer, pulling open the gates and charging out in a mass stiffened by Tower fighters.

Talaban cut through the trollocs with ease, opening up a clearing together with someone wearing a veil. Nothing showed above the veiled hood except striking blue eyes. They stared at each other momentarily before reality intervened. Taking an eagle-head of a trolloc with a backhand blow, the Gaidin took another glance at his erstwhile partner. Dressed in billowing clothing from head to toe, and veiled this way, Talaban could tell nothing about the individual. A naginata whirled in his hands, both blade and balancing spike drawing trolloc blood. Their eyes met again. He felt a shiver run down his spine.

Whoever he was, this individual was not from the Tower. Talaban knew all the Gaidin who had come on this trip and no Sei’Tar could wield a weapon the way it was being showcased here. Again the trollocs came. Stooping slightly to avoid a high blow, the former thief spilled trolloc entrails before spinning right into the charge of another trolloc, his right katana stopping the creature mid-charge. His peripheral vision watched as the naginata looped, its deceptively slow path carrying enough force to decapitate a trolloc cleanly. The back stroke bit deep into the chest of an oversized trolloc, and the warrior tugged once. The blade stayed lodged. The dying creature staggered forward, sword waving. Without hesitation, he pulled the naginata, dragging the trolloc forward and off balance. Once the trolloc was within range, his left palm flashed out, slamming into the animal with enough force to dislodge the blade from flesh.

Talaban nearly lost his head as he goggled. For someone so small, the man packed immense power. He himself could never hope to impact a trolloc, much less stagger one with just an open handed blow. The balancing spike came toward the Gaidin, forcing him to back away as it slammed into the stomach of the trolloc behind him. One that had been aiming its axe at his back while he stared.

That woke Talaban up. Squaring his shoulders, he returned his attention to the fight. More trollocs were closing on them. As he fought, he heard the woosh of the naginata behind him, clearing enemies with nary a sound. The man was good enough that he barely needed to parry. Having a long weapon helped but that still spoke of immense skill.

The Gaidin took a slight cut on his left forearm as an arrow grazed past from somewhere. As he whirled around to complete a heavy cut, their eyes met yet again. The field was almost clear, the last of the trollocs trying to escape amid the hail of arrows directed towards them. Talaban was breathing heavily, fatigue in his arms as he eyed the other fighter. They were some distance away from any other arms-men. “Who are you?” he asked softly. The man turned and ran, moving for the nearby woods. Talaban swore gave chase.

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