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In the Three-Fold Land [Closed]

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In the Three-Fold Land [Closed]

Post by Xavier on Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:51 am

Xavier stepped out of the Gateway, wincing at the heat and hurriedly taking off his coat. He was glad that he planned for the heat, wearing the thinnest of cotton shirts and breeches and selecting a serviceable pair of boots. His sword hung at his right hip, and his dagger nestled behind the buckle of his belt. A commotion could be heard over the hill he had chosen to appear behind, so, after settling his gear, he drew his sword and headed toward the sound.

Jalin was beset on all sides by the Trollocs. How they had come to be here, he had not a clue, nor could he spare a thought on it. He was busy making sure they all died as horribly as possible. Under his breath, he sang.

Wash the spears
While the sun climbs high
Wash the spears
While the sun falls low
Wash the spears
Who fears to die
Wash the spears
No one I know!

Gritting his teeth, he charged yet another Trolloc, spinning at it with spear extended, and driving the point into the creature's face and through the back of its head. Not stopping to admire his handiwork, he snarled as he snatched another spear from behind his buckler, slashing at a hawk-billed Trolloc and taking it above the sternum. The creature was dead before it hit the ground, black blood spilling onto the hot sand as Jalin danced past. He had given his body over to the Dance, and he danced well.


Xavier had to admire the ruthless efficiency with which Jalin carried himself. This was one of the many reasons he had chosen the man to become his brother. Those same skills had once saved Xavier from almost-certain death, and as he broke into a run, hefting his heron-marked blade in the dazzling sunlight, he snarled himself. "I see you, Jalin!" He joined the fray with no thought of anything save victory. A boar-faced Trolloc lost his head, quite literally, to Plucking The Low-Hanging Apple. Another hawk-billed Trolloc suddenly hit the ground writhing from Reaping The Barley. Folding The Air caught three more unaware, dropping them in their tracks as their throats were torn out. "Too many. Too bloody flaming many!" He seized the Source, grunting at the effort of parrying two attacks at once with Kingfisher Circles The Pond. "Stand away, Jalin!" He could not spare a glance to Jalin, but he knew the man would give enough space to allow him room for what he had in mind. Through intensive, and utterly secret, training with his father, he had learned the most dangerous of the weaves taught in the Black Tower, and intended to use them now.

Jalin looked up in disbelief at Xavier, then smiled as he blocked a sweeping attack from yet another of the legion of Trollocs with his hide buckler. "I see you, near-brother. I would offer water and shade, but these Sightblinder-spawn have come to die. Dance with me, Xavier, and help me teach these Leafblighter rejects the Song!" True to his words, he danced in and out, removing an impending death-strike from Xavier's blind spot as he retreated. There were plenty of foes to go around, but that did not matter. "For the record, Xavier, that makes twenty-eight. Good to see you, near-brother. Do your work, and together we will spit in Sightblinder's eye!"

Xavier used his heightened hearing and peripheral vision to assure himself that Jalin would be safe, then let loose with the Power he wielded. Arrows of Fire surged forth from his splayed fingers, taking scores of Trollocs in the face, chest, and abdomen with fatal result. Fire Blossoms erupted from beneath a cluster of Shadowspawn, reducing them to no more than a mist of black blood and tissue. Deathgates whirled into existance, opening and snapping shut to cleave many more into pieces. Gore rained down upon them, and soon, with the addition of these new weapons, the numbers began to dwindle to a fraction of what they had been. Xavier was in his element, and would not rest until they were dead to the last one. The ranks had paused, but the arrival of the black-cloaked Myrrdraal seemed to bolster them into another attack. Xavier channeled Air, pushing them back into a bottleneck and looking for Jalin.

Jalin was standing stock-still, slack-jawed and covered in gore. He had never seen Xavier display such raw power, and would have an answer where he came by this new gift. He would not complain, for now he was assured that he would see Cold Rocks Hold again to rub the Maiden's noses in their victory. He saw the Fade at the same time Xavier did, and drew a fresh spear from behind his buckler, running to join his near-brother for the final push. "Alright, Xavier, this battle goes to you. However, the Fade counts for twenty Trollocs, and he's mine." With a wild roar, Jalin threw himself forward, dancing in and out of the battered and newly-frightened beasts with renewed vigor. "Twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two!"

Xavier laughed, rushing behind Jalin with a whoop of victory. The Myrrdraal, or Fade, drew a black-bladed sword, created in the forges of Thakandar, and lashed out with it. Xavier spun to his right, taking another Trolloc at the knees and stabbing downward to remove the threat of it rising again, then came around to face the Fade. He was about two seconds too late, as the blade tore through the cotton fabric and drew white-hot pain from his right shoulder to his left hip. Xavier knew the corruption of the blade would end him if allowed to take hold, but he had no time to remedy this here and now. He dropped back just in time to see two Trollocs converge on him, slashing wildly with swords that were of the same making, but had a shape more akin to a cleaver, and watched in perverse satisfaction as they destroyed themselves. Stupid creatures, Trollocs would not battle unless hungry or driven into battle by a Myrrdraal. Seeing Jalin dispatch the last two that had arrayed themselves against him, he shouted to him. "Jalin! I'm wounded, and the Myrrdraal is not! Make it even, brother!"

That was all the goading he needed. Shoufa was snatched up around his mouth and nose, veiling him in the manner of all Aiel when they were about to kill. As he ran, he snatched a spear from the corpse of a Trolloc and charged the Fade, beating his sword to one side and shoving his own spear into the Fade's throat. Black blood sprayed from the ruined throat at the Fade began to convulse, dropping to first its knees, then its face as it continued to writhe. He knew, as did Xavier, that the Fade was dying, but that dying would only happen upon sunset. Such was the nature of the beast...even if the killing blow was struck at dawn, the Fade would not stop moving until night fell. He disregarded it, walking calmly over to Xavier and taking a knee, breathing heavily. "Fifty-seven. Factoring in the fact that you got yourself wounded, that makes this a draw. Come, near-brother. We have a feast awaiting us at Cold Rocks Hold, and I am sure Lian will be pleased to see you."

Xavier grinned, wincing a bit as he rose. "Sounds great. I haven't had a decent grilled lizard since I left. Uh, I do hope one of the Wise Ones would be agreeable to Healing this. I'm not too fond of Tainted wounds, and this one's gonna scar like a bitch. Oh, and we won't be walking." He smiled, seizing the Source once more to form a Gateway letting out just south of the Hold itself. "I'd ask if you wanted to race, but that would only give you something else to brag about." He laughed then, and gave Jalin a punch to his shoulder. "It's good to see you, you ugly brute. I saw you were a little slow back there, has some Maiden thrown the wreath at your feet and caused you to go soft?"

Jalin chuckled, drawing his belt-knife and giving Xavier a slash to his own shoulder. "No slower than you, dog-man. So, tell me about this Titania. I simply must know about the poor woman you have fooled into becoming yours." This was, after all, the heart and soul of the Aiel humor. He knew Titania had to be one hell of a woman, and he would be meeting her soon. That would be his surprise to spring on Xavier, however. He did not know, after all, that the ceremony was already set, and that Jalin would be accompanying him back to the place he now called home once their business was concluded here. "It is, by the way, good to see your face again, Xavier Cauthon. Come, let us feast and speak of our adventures. Preferably where the Maidens can hear us. I cannot wait to see their faces when they find that they were left out of a battle."

Xavier laughed, looking back to the hill and shaking his head. "I have to go and get my things, Jalin...no, on second thought, I'll leave them there. I'm sure the Wise ones would not mind setting me up with a cadin'sor, since I saved your hide and all." Before Jalin could respond, he smirked and jumped through the Gateway, headed for some rest, Healing, and food....along with a decent serving of bragging.
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Re: In the Three-Fold Land [Closed]

Post by Xavier on Tue Jul 06, 2010 8:43 pm

Outside....

Jalin was pacing. He was unaccustomed to these feelings as a whole. His heart was racing, his palms were sweaty, and his mind was aflame with warring emotions. He was, all at once, happy to see Xavier, angry that the cursed Trollocs had gotten so far into the Three-Fold Land without meeting resistance, and worried about his near-brother. Calling this one a walking contradiction would not be outside the realm of reason at the moment. With a weary sigh, he poked his head into the tent-flap, only to be slapped almost insensate by the Wise One who was ministering to Xavier. "Sightblinder's eyes, boy! How am I to do my work with you interrupting me every few moments?" Lian's belt-dagger flashed into view only briefly before Jalin took the hint and retreated back to his pacing.

Inside....

Xavier was in the grips of a terrible fever. The wound he had taken while fighting the Shadowspawn had festered almost instantly, thoroughly vexing the Wise One known as Lian. She muttered a curse as she embraced the Source, pushing the weaves for Healing into his pain-wracked body almost forcefully. Healing a male Channeler was always risky, and this was made even more risky by the fact that he had been wounded by a weapon forged in Thankandar. Not only were those bloody tools of Leafblighter filthy, they carried the taint of the Dark One himself. Even so, she had not reached her eighty-fourth Naming Day by being a quitter. She grimaced as she felt the oily taint seeping out of the wound, almost a dark aura around the puckered edges of it. Her eyes went to the only other person in the tent with her, a leathery-faced Maiden called Ayla, and her hands flashed the signs of the Maiden handspeak. Ayla only nodded, snatching her spears up and leaving the tent at a dead run.

Jalin was thrust out of the way, almost losing his footing before realizing Ayla had rushed past him looking grim. While he was worried about his brother, he was also curious as to where she was headed at such a pace. In barely a heartbeat, he had decided and had headed off after her, matching her pace with some effort. He woould never admit it out loud, but he sometimes envied the Maidens' ability to run at such a ground-eating pace without becoming even close to winded. Only one Maiden knew of his admiration for their skills, and she had sworn to never reveal what was spoken during their time together. After all, if she spoke of what they discussed during that time, her toh would be so great to him that she would have to put on the white of Gai'shain for him. He smiled at the thought, then looked shocked as he realized where she was rushing to. Rhuidean. The only true city in the Waste, and the place where the Dragon Reborn had pulled forth water from the dry and arid Waste, along with breaking his people into a remnant of a remnant. If she had come here, the situation must be almost beyond hope. Cursing softly, he stopped short, then saw that the Clan Chiefs had come together here. What was this? He was a simple Stone Dog, usually only concerned with acting as a rear guard and backup for raiding parties. What had he gotten himself into....?

During this time, Xavier had lapsed into a dream-state. Images of his life flashed and shattered, then reformed and cleared. There was Titania, as he saw her in his mind's eye, but why was she crying? Why did she wear black? He realized that someone had died, but he had no idea who she mourned. With a sickening realization, he realized who was on that funeral bier, waiting to be burned. As the scene whirled, he recognized his own face, shrouded in the brown algode of the Aiel cadin'sor. For some reason, it did not frighten him...he was merely curious as to why he was seeing his own funeral. He was also saddened by Titania's weeping...he had not seen her cry, and had never wanted to. He preferred to see her smile and laugh, as she had when she had introduced him to the television and the vehicle she sometimes drove. The entire scene seemed to shimmer, and he felt something tugging at him.

His eyes snapped open, and he was thrust into the real world and the pain it held. He opened his mouth to scream, to gasp, to...SOMEthing....but nothing but a rush of air escaped his lips. He felt the familiar prickle of Saidar being channeled around him, then felt the cold chill that came with Healing. What was going on? His eyes locked on Lian's, and the sweat that beaded on her brow. The fool woman would kill herself trying to Heal him...he would have swatted her away, but he couldn't work out how to move his arm. Still, he could glare, and he did so. Where most would have shied away from his gaze, she merely chuckled and patted his brow. "There, boy, you're going to live. I would say it was the luck of the Dark One himself, but that wouldn't be appropriate, now would it?" She smiled wearily, settling down beside him and taking his hand in her own, feeling his pulse. "You are, as it turns out, lucky to be alive. You have earned much ji this day, young one, and I feel that you would be welcomed under any roof in the Three-Fold Land now. Rest, child. You have earned it."

Finding his voice, Jalin finally spoke. "Clan chiefs, my toh to you is great. I did not realize there was a meeting of such magnitude taking place. I will go to Lian and ask for punishment immediately." The familiar face of Rhuarc split into a grin as he strode forth, his red hair whipping about in an unruly fashion in the dry breeze. "You took your time in getting here, Jalin. It is time." When he saw the look on Jalin's face, he laughed. "Did you think it was an accident which brought you here? Your near-brother will be fine. You are to be tested. Come." Another laugh came forth from Rhuarc as he saw Jalin's eyes bulge in their sockets. "Stare any harder, boy, and I will have to assume I look funny to you and fix your sight."

Rhuarc's arm went around Jalin's shoulder, leading him into the large structure that stood near the center of the city. He saw the arches, the ancient ter'angreal that had tested the clan chiefs for generations, and found he could not speak around the lump in his throat. When he looked to Rhuarc, the older chief only smiled. "I felt the same way the day I was tested. Do well, boy, and come back with one of these." Rhuarc pulled his sleeve back, revealing the glittering image of a golden-maned dragon on his forearm, almost like a tattoo, but not quite so limited in scope. The sinuous creature seemed almost alive, shining in the sunlight and rippling with the muscular forearm as a part of it.

Xavier had finally drifted off into a peaceful slumber. The herbs that Lian had sent Ayla for had done their work, relaxing the poor boy into sleep so that he could subconsciously draw on his body's seemingly limitless healing power to stabilize himself further. She had drawn on this same power to aid her Healing to a great degree, but now the deed was done. He would have a scar to brag on when he got back home, but what young man didn't want proof of their battles? He would, she knew, wear it with the pride befitting one who had been adopted by her people. Feeling her age for once, she leaned against the bedroll that had been provided for her. She would keep watch over the boy for awhile, but the worst was over. He would be hungry, almost ravenous, when he woke up, but he would be whole. That was what mattered, after all. She thought of this Titania he called for in his fever and smiled. The boy was thoroughly smitten with her....she hoped that the girl, whoever she was, realized just how devoted he was. She had seen the looks some of the Maidens had given Xavier, and heard most of the comments they made about bedding the wolfbrother, but his eyes didn't even flicker. He was either completely in love, insane, or was the type that didn't like women. She chuckled quietly, knowing that two of the three were impossible, and smiled. The love of her life had died in battle some twenty years previous, and she had refused to take another to her bed. Her own love had, after all, been the only one that could keep up with her. She was smirking proudly to herself as sleep finally overtook her.

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Re: In the Three-Fold Land [Closed]

Post by Xavier on Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:16 pm

Jalin laid himself on the hot sand outside the city, wishing to weep, but knowing that it was not appropriate. He was a Clan Chief now, answerable only to the Council and the Car'a'carn himself. Still, the knowledge that his proud people had come from such humble beginnings was almost unbearable. He would endure, however, because that is what his people did. The Three-Fold Land was named so for this reason: it was a shaping stone to make them, a testing ground to prove their worth, and a punishment for their sin and failure. He knew the sin and failure now, and wished he didn't. Still, he had promises to keep, and a near-brother to collect. He looked at the sun, and realized he had been gone for a little less than a full day, so maybe Xavier would be on his feet by now.

Xavier yawned, rolled over, and opened his eyes. He sincerely wished he hadn't, since there were at least four women, Lian among them, getting prepared for the sweat-tent. They walked around in their skins so often around here! Hoping no one had seen him move, he closed his eyes and waited. His wait was over when he felt a foot meet his ribs and quite a bit of laughter. Alys spoke first. "Wolfbrother indeed! More like a dog! Here, sisters, I have him, he was peeking at us!" A chorus of snickering ensued as they beat Xavier from head to toe, carefully avoiding the wounds he recieved nearly three days ago. He bounded to his feet, snarling and clawing at his belt...which was not there....for his dagger, which was...not there either. In fact, nothing was there. He looked down, and within fifteen minutes of waking, wished he hadn't for the second time. "Where are my bloody flaming clothes, woman!"

His head snapped back as Lian's iron-hard hand collided with his jaw. "Show some respect! There are ladies present!" This brought another round of hooting laughter from the women, who were eyeing Xavier now as if he were a choice cut of meat. Hand-talk flashed back and forth between Alys and another, taller Maiden. Chuckling, Lian stood back and eyed Xavier himself. "Yes, that may be so, but he has already thrown his wreath at someone named Titania's feet. I'm afraid we're all out of luck...and no, Alys, you may -not- teach him how to sing."

Xavier knew the methods that were involved in that particular lesson where the Maidens were involved, and for the thousandth time, wondered how they kept the name Maiden. Finally, he shrugged, and looked dead ahead into Lian's eyes. Yes, her eyes. He did not allow his eyes to stray any further than any of their eyes. "My toh to you is great, Lian. Do you have a spare set of cadin'sor, by any chance? My clothing was spoiled by that Leafblighter-spawn...." He smiled as she pointed to the neatly folded package near her, then frowned. He would have to walk through them to get to it...."Light preserve me, but Titania would strip my skin off in strips if she could see this...."

Jalin was outside the tent, listening and trying not to laugh. Finally, he called out to Xavier. "Near-brother, it is time for us to talk now, if you are not too busy. Take your time, though. Oh, and if Alys is with you, tell her I said not to look too hard, or else there'll be nothing left for me to do tonight." He chuckled, sitting down and relaxing. Xavier would be out soon, and then they would journey together to the assembly of clan chiefs that awaited them.

After the walk through the Maidens, who had decided to test his resolve by standing much too close together to allow him to get through without brushing against them, Xavier was breathing a sigh of relief as he dressed himself in the Aiel fashion. He would not think of the many, many comments about how his scar made him much more tasty to the discerning palette of their people, let alone the wandering hands! Light, he would not think about it! As he headed for the tent flap, he spoke over his shoulder without looking back. "Thank you once again for your kindness, Lian. Oh, and Alys? Jalin is waiting for you....you heard him, right?" With a chuckle, he stepped outside into the harsh sunlight. "Jalin. Thank you for waiting, brother. Now, let's see...Rhuidean, correct?" He seized the Source, weaving a Gateway and stepping toward it. He stopped, however, to look at Jalin. "What is it?"

Jalin smiled, pulling back his shirt-sleeve to allow the dragon to come into view. "Some things are bound to change, Xavier. I fear that my duty to my people will not allow me to return with you, but you are always welcome to come back. I would have liked to have met Titania, but I am sure she will come with you next time. Now, let us go. We don't want to keep Rhuarc waiting...."

A few hours later, they were done. The clan chiefs all waved, smiling and offering their thanks and support once again. The tale that Jalin had told them caused them to think of Xavier more as one of them than as a wetlander now, and they had all offered to adopt him into their clans. Xavier knew, though, that custom dictated that he be recognized as a member of his now First-brother's clan, so he graciously refused each in turn, returning their farewells with a smile. Finally, they were alone. "This means more to me than you will ever know, Jalin. Just send me word the next time you need me, and I will be here." He clasped his hand on his First-brother's shoulder and nodded. "Until shade is gone, until water is gone..."

Jalin cut him off with a grin. "....into the Shadow with teeth bared, screaming defiance with the last breath, to spit into Sightblinder's eye on the Last Day. Good job, Xavier. You are truly Aiel, and it is my honor to have you in my family. Now. Go back and tell this Titania your story, show her your scar, and let her teach you to sing correctly. You sound like a drowning badger so far, anyway." He laughed deeply, his blue-green eyes twinkling. "I will be waiting for your next visit...who knows? Maybe you'll get a scar on your face to match the one on your chest. It would make you prettier, that's for sure!"

Xavier laughed with him, extending a hand. "For life, my brother. For life. Now, I will be going. I'm keeping the clothes to remind me of you guys." He nodded, turning around to weave a Gateway home. Home, to Titania. He hoped she was doing well, and that she was ready to see him again. How long had it been...a week? No, two weeks. Regardless, the time would melt away once he was back. With a final farewell to Jalin, he stepped through the Gateway, and headed for home.

~End~
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