A Return (Three parts) --- &RPaward

...for in character discussions, contributions and Wheel of Time themed stories.
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2021 11:17 pm

A Return (Three parts) --- &RPaward

Post by Artal » Sun Apr 10, 2022 12:16 am

Part One - Up and About

Folding the note several times he tucked it into his pocket, before gazing out the window. Snow continued to drift by as he watched, lamplight flickering from the table letting him spy out along the sloped roof before it dropped and gave way to the rest of the city behind the inn in the southern sections of the city. With a yawn he stood up and stood upon the chair. Pushing open the window and letting a cool wind snap through. He jolted back slightly, away from the breeze at it worked its way into the room. The flame upon the candle danced as it swirled by, casting light all around the room. Day would break soon, so he needed to be up and about his day. Months wasted, how many he lost track as he was inside the inn day and night, unable to leave for fear those who tried to snatch him would still be out in the city, waiting for an opportunity. But today he would move about once more. "Finally" he thought to himself as he pulled the window closed once more and hopped down from the chair. Quickly he moved into his room and found his things laid out upon the small bed. Eager, far too eager to get out he had prepared them the night before. A thick cloak of green, lined with mink and hooded. A pair of fine gloves also lined with fur, mink or not he did not know as Lamgwin did not mention when he was gifted them. Artal pulled the cloak up and around his shoulders before fastening it and then tugging on the gloves, lastly he grabbed at a scarf and wrapped that around his neck before pulling the hood up. Moving back out into the library he tugged his door shut firmly, and then produced a small key from his pocket and locked it before moving to stash it back into his pocket. Turning quickly he moved out to the sound of his feet tapping upon the wooden floor. Quiet, always so quiet this time of morning. Into the main of the inn he grabbed a hunk of bread and a slice of cheese from the counter and began to hustle down the stairs before Basel could hear him moving about and stop him. At the base of the stairs he passed by the large room where guests would congregate, and the kitchens. And at the door two men stood. With a sigh he tore at the bread and swallowed what was in his mouth before trudging forward sullenly.

"Ah, now don't give me that look. We would not have you moving about alone now would we?" The smiling round faced innkeeper spoke softly as he approached, nodding over at the dour faced man leaning against the doorway, blocking it really.

"No, can't have that." Lamgwin spoke sarcastically, looking as menacing as ever. Artal spied the club at his hip, it was always hanging there. To cudgel anyone who acted out of line within the inn.

"It's been months, I should be fine." He exclaimed as he got closer, but it was ignored. And Basel went about tightening the scarf around his neck and adjusting the cloak. Flailing he tried to fight back, which drew laughter from the larger grim faced man that was no longer leaning and opened up the door heading outside.

"Listen to Lamgwin, and do not wander off." The change in tone, from friendly and jovial to serious was immediate. So he stopped flailing at once and nodded up at the man. Who simply smiled and patted him on the head before moving back up the stairs. Watching him go he could not help but think of where he would be without them. "Dead in the streets no doubt." Thought as he turned and moved out the doorway himself.

Cold wind greeted him as soon as foot hit pavement, and he tugged the hood closed just a bit more. The lamps were lit all along the main roadway as it moved east and west and just ahead he spied the rows of them lighting the way up toward the palace, his destination. "Training, finally." Energy filled him with the thought, it had been far far too long since he had used his body for anything other then laying about.

'So, ya sure your up to wandering the streets again lad?' Lamgwin called to him looking over his shoulder toward him. With a quick nod he made up the ground between them and fell in line with the large man.

'Felt fine for a while now sir, tired of layin about and I can't hide away forever.' That drew a nod from the man as he moved forward. Scanning the streets there were few people moving about as the snow drifted toward the partially covered pavement. Not much was sticking, it just fell and clung briefly before it began to melt away. But it felt nice, drawing a deep breathe he exhaled and a mist formed before him.

'All well and good, and no you cannot hide forever. But be mindful that we can't have you scampering about alone no more. Not if there's folks out here tryin to snatch ya up.' The man said as he swung the cudgel about at his side. 'One good shot, and the snatchin will all end. So you move with one of us from now on, or your trainers.' Quickly said as he turned and they moved up the central road, nearly the entire length to the palace itself. It still made him feel uneasy walking through the Origan gate and moving so close to where the Queen and her family would be. They didn't go in of course, but it was close enough for him. Lamgwin nodded at the men as they passed and turned through a side entrance, toward the barracks of the Queen's guard and slightly north. Toward his weapons trainer. The old man was the best in Caemlyn, possibly beyond. Skilled in all manner of fightin' so he felt pride that he got to train with the man.

Hands thrust into pocket he shifted the papers in his pocket of the nice navy blue jacket he had on, warm wool with no fancy decorations. Just a nice blue jacket. Warmth filled the hall as they turned and rounded the final bend. Lamgwin pressed himself toward the wall just next to the door and nodded for him to move ahead. Undoing the jacket Artal stepped through the doorway, and there bare above waist the man was already practicing with sword and shield. Artal dropped his jacket on a chair near the door and tossed his shirt next.

'About time, the man called straightening from a sword form Artal did not recognize, and motioned for a small dented sword and a buckler that were learning next to a rack of actual blades. A sword? Artal frowned at the thing but picked it up and then slid the buckler on his other arm. Moving forward the man did not wait a moment and began circling. A groan escaped him just as the man moved forward and drew his long blade down. Buckler barely made it up in time but he still dropped to a knee to brace himself. A boot met his midsection and he doubled over. 'Much ground to make up, you have grown slow in your absence.' Absence? He cast a gaze up at the man, who looked down upon him. With a low growl he stood once more, and circled away from the man. 'Good, good. That is much better.' Spoken as the man cut his direction off and began once more. It would be a long day, but the haze of the months of laying about began to wear away. Soon, soon he would be ready to face the world once again.

Sweat dripped off him as he toweled off, his training completed he cast the towel over the back of the chair and gripped his shirt and tugged it down over his head, a simple white thing of thick wool. Helped fight the cold away. Not his nice white shirt that he was quickly outgrowing. The jacket next and he quickly slipped his hand down into the jacket. No one was looking as his master was at the far side of the room replacing his sword into the rack so he dragged out the paper and quickly stuff it into the mans shirt that was hanging from a hook along side the rack nearest him. 'Thank you for the training sir' spoken quickly and popping the door open. The man waved him off and he darted out. The hall was still warm but not nearly as inside. Lamgwin stood up from a chair he was sitting in.

'Sorry it was so long Lamgwin.' Spoken but brushed off quickly as the man strode ahead of him down the hall. A few quick strides to gain on him and he fell in beside him. Looking up at the man as he walked. "I am lucky to have these people looking over me." Thought again while crossing his arms and adjusting the scarf Basel had wrapped him in. "It is unfair they are in danger because of me." That thought caught him off guard. It had risen many times over the last several months, but now. Now it rang out far too often. 'Sorry you have to watch over me.' Spoken while still staring up at the man, in a low voice as to not draw attention from anyone that might be in one of the rooms down the long hall. No answer, only the tapping over their boots upon the stone as they walked. As they made the end off the hall and began the walk through the plaza he fell behind a few steps.

'No lagging behind. Keep up so we can get home in time for lunch.' The man spoke while looking back at him, a smile on his face. 'And don't be sorry we look after you. We agreed to it, and your not so bad.' The man quickened his pace and began to move further away from him. Artal skipped forward quickly and caught up to the man smiling to himself. "I am not a burden." Internally spoken, a reminder to himself. Through the Origan gate once more, down the central road as it sloped down through the inner city they moved. Toward the inn. Toward home.

Frantically he moved, from shadow to shadow down the corridor until he reached the end of the hallway. Pushing toward the door he turned the knob ever so quietly. 'Cannot draw attention, cannot be caught.' Panic in his voice he spoke below a whisper. To himself, always to himself. Inside the room nothing stirred, nothing moved. Slipping within he kept the door open and looked around quickly. The boy had put paper into his pockets, some note. Something. Over toward the rack he moved, nothing. Nothing of note on the tables, or upon the floor that he could see. 'Damned boy. Damned damned boy.' Repeating it to himself as he moved, quickly. From spot to spot. Nothing. The boy had it. He wrote something. He was told to get anything the boy wrote. He already got himself in too much trouble with "Him" snatching up that damned story off the table. Made no sense the damned thing. Biting his lip he scanned the room again, they had barely moved on and the old man had left moments later moving toward the barracks. Moving back toward the door maybe the damned man had it. He would need to find a way into the barracks. As he gripped the door and began to tug it open he scanned the room once more, and stepped back. In a few quick steps he was next to the rack and tugging the shirt off the wall. It fell out, folded up several times he almost lost himself to the happiness he felt. 'He will be happy with me, I will be rewarded.' Spoken louder than his usual whisper. This was not for himself, that was for all to hear. He would not fail again. Unfolding it several times he scanned the paper quickly. 'He will reward me.' Out into the hall he moved quickly, he needed to be out of the city quickly. Down the hallway he moved swiftly his boots casting noise for the first time in the day and out into the plaza. In moments the others moved with him, at a distance but in the same direction. Down toward the inner city. Almost at a jog he moved, people watched him as he went, some casting awkward glances at him before hurrying away in the opposite direction. He did not care, he had to report. As he turned onto the central road east to west he turned toward the western gate and saw it. With a smile he hurried forward and tugged open the door to the carriage and clambered in. Knocking on the wall toward the rider he spoke through it before sitting down within the darkness. 'Take me to him.' And he sat down and the door slammed shut. In the darkness he felt right once again. He would be rewarded. Surely this time he had done right. :x

Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2021 11:17 pm

Re: A Return (Three parts)

Post by Artal » Sun Apr 10, 2022 12:17 am

Part Two - Best Laid Plans

The note was folded many times, from the corner of his eye he scanned the doorway out to the library noting it was open. He slid this one among the others in a small pile and stuffed them all into his pocket. Pushing his hand down into the other pocket he found the rest all waiting as well so he stood and pushed his chair in. His boots landing on wood announce his coming and Lamgwin looked up with a nod. Basel did not fuss so much this time as he had grown used to him going about once more but did cast a friendly smile his way and wave from behind the counter as he dried off a mug in his hand. Waving he moved quickly forward and down the stairs. Tucking his head into the main room at the base of the stairs he saw the stable boys at their breakfast as usual. Stepping in he waved to them all and quickly drew a coin from his pouch. Tossing it to the eldest he spoke quickly. 'As usual, thank you for keeping an eye on my things.' And the boy smiled in return. They scrambled to fight over it but he held it over his head before stepping away from them and moving past him up the stairs.

'No ones gonna get in your things Artal. Dunno why your wasting so much coin. All ya got is shirts and blankets up there anyway.' Turning he was getting the usual dour look he had grown accustomed to. Brushing it off he made for the door. A loud sigh from behind him and a huge hand gripped his shoulder and tugged him backwards. With a laugh Artal watched as the man moved first out into the growing day. Faint light filtered above the walls, still very early. Down the steps he moved in line with the man. 'I go first, you stay beside me. You know the drill.' The look he got now was a bit more warning than anything.

'I know, I know. But we haven't had any troubles so I figured I could just move on out this time.' Sarcasm oozed from him, he knew he wasn't supposed to go first. It was more a test than anything.

'Nope, can't. So don't, next time I squeeze your head like a grape and toss you back up into your room.' The crunch of snow under foot followed. As the man picked up speed moving east along the roadway. Cart tracks moved through the snow. Now the stuff was sticking. Footprints dotted the gleaming white fluff as it coated everything. The sign that the people within the city did not wait for day like he did.

'Alright alrighty, I don't want my head popped like a grape. Think I'm gonna get to ride today? Or is it more making a campfire and what parts of a squirrel I should or shouldn't eat you think?' Spoken sourly as he did not like the idea of being out in the woods eatin squirrel again.

'Yeah can't have you getting another squirrel induced fever can we?' Spoken with a laugh, Lamgwin hardly believed his dislike for the animals. Basel was far more understanding stating it could have had some sickness that got him sick as well. "Vermin." Artal announced to himself as they moved. Men and women were passing by them so they gave a courteous nod as they passed.

'Now, if your riding hopefully it will be more than a pony. Not much good learnin to ride if all your gonna be able to move about on is barely bigger than you are. A good fine palfrey or perhaps upgrade ya to a donkey.' The man was mad, a donkey?

'I'm not riding a donkey. Hope its a palomino, or one of those black horses we saw those men from Tear riding about on, those looked like they could move!' Happily exclaimed as he skipped along through the snow kicking some of it up into the air. Pulling his hand out of his pocket to swiped at the snow as it flitted up from his punting he cast his gaze down quickly. Paper fell to earth. 'Now, if we could go outside the east gate I could move around through the Braem and show ya how good I've gotten!' Moving away from the fallen piece they rounded the corner near the eastern gate and were nearly to the park. "Don't look back." Sadly noting to himself that he can no longer look backwards. If he did he would stay in that room forever. Warm, and safe. But not enough. Turning into the park it was empty, snow piles forming all over. A frown found his face quickly. It meant they would be inside the hut. A warm glow lit the hut as they approached. Lamgwin made his way inside first and he followed. Pulling his hand free from his left pocket he waved with the right before placing his left upon the desk as they entered. Kicking off his boots he pulled his hand from the desk and removed his jacket.

"Good day to you sir, can I ask will I be riding today?' Knowing the answer was no he asked anyway. The shake off the ranger's head let him know his darkest fears were true.

"Fraid not lad, weather won't permit that today. Today we will go over survival tactics. Where you can find water, how you know its safe to drink and more like that. Will also teach ya what herbs to pick and what to stick clear off. Got a book from the libraries for that.

'Old brownish book, leaves carved to the cover and inside faint drawings and explanations of their uses?' Spoken quickly staring at the man who nodded but gave him a look. The sigh left his body before he could control it. Which drew a laugh from Lamgwin who sat down at the table beside the man. 'Read it, boring. But I read it. Been inside for half a year at least sir.' Quickly spoken, but not with any sort of tone. No point in being rude.

'Suppose you have been trapped inside. But still, weather is not permitting us to go for a ride. For now we will work on other things, perhaps go over some quick traps for catching small game again.' He had barely finished the statement before he blurted out.

'No squirrels, no more squirrels please.' Which drew another amused sound from the large dour bodyguard. He narrowed his eyes to glare at the man before turning his attention back to the ranger.

'Right right, maybe some snares to trap hares?' Crossing his arms he leaned back. The note left on the desk right where he placed it. With a nod he moved forward and waited for the training to begin. They would always have tea first, and go over any lessons that could be done inside before they moved outside the hut out into the park. He waited, patiently until he could move forward once more.

His footsteps rang out heavily as made his way up out of the basement of the tavern. Stretching as he walked his made the top and gripped his jacket in his right hand as he pushed open the doorway and stepped into the room. Patrons filled it all clamoring and making a ruckus as they always did. Did not matter if it was morning, noon or night it was always bustling with people. Lamgwin stepped forward from the bar and gave him a glance. Moving to meet the man halfway he stumbled slightly and went to a knee. Shuffling his jacket he stood once more and moved out into the day. Glancing behind he apologized for the fall and with a wave scanned the floor. Folded up, sitting next to the table it sat. "Perfect." The thought rang out as he smiled and stepped out onto the southern road of the city.

Lamgwin stepped slowly forward before turning back and at a near whisper 'Gonna tell me what you dropped back there?' Shaking his head he smiled at the big man. "Not yet. Not yet sir." 'Right then, well. Off to the inn we go.' Keeping the jacket off he moved quickly. Winter had passed, and with it warmth filled the city once again. He was back, out into the world and he would not be stuffed away once more. If they wanted to snatch him, good. He would let them. But not yet. Stepping up beside the man they curved their way north through the alley. A nice quick walk to the inn from his training for the day, hopefully to a waiting bowl of tater soup.

Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2021 11:17 pm

Re: A Return (Three parts)

Post by Artal » Sun Apr 10, 2022 12:18 am

Part Three - Memories

Slowly he stepped forward, over brush and around tall weathered trees. The ground sloped slightly so he stepped carefully down toward the bank. Stepping right to its edge he leaned over and with a smile scooped up a small pebble from the shore of of the water. Flipping it up into the air he caught it and cast it skipping over the surface. Walking along the water he pinched his eyes shut a moment, to remember a time from his past. A memory that seemed so far gone. A smiling boy, brown of hair and eye charged toward him. They clashed here a the waters edge before they both fell and his friend, Izaak fell off into the water. Opening his eyes he gazed up into the woods. Calmly and quickly he walked forward, up through the trees and over green. Pushing hanging moss out of his path he stepped over the overgrown trail. Nobody had trodden it in years it seemed. The overgrowth fell beneath boot, or was pushed aside with black gloved hand. Stepping forward beyond the trees he moved toward the old fence. Now half fallen and having seen better days he put a hand down upon it. 'Had to climb this last I was here.' Spoken to nobody, he gripped at it and brought his gaze up. Vines grew up the side of the structure ahead. What was left of it at least, half fallen and burnt it stood a testimony to what had occurred here. "Bandits" had destroyed it and slayed those who lived here. Save one. Him. Artal stepped over the fence and gripped the brass hilt of his sword in sheath. Walking over the overgrown grass where once vegetables would grow he approached the spot. Burned into memory, from long ago. Where she had fallen. Where everything had gone wrong and his world had been flipped upside down. 'Mother, I am sorry.' Again, nobody listening but he said the words aloud again. Maybe she would hear them. Kneeling down he pushed through the growth. Nothing here. Standing he walked along his destroyed home searching the ground. Where he had been born, where he had been raised and where he had played. Where mother had taught him to be a boy. Where "father" had once lived. That word he even internally spit vile at the thought. The man was no father after all. 'Where have you gone mother?' Questioning the nobody with him as he strode. Long steps as he moved around the rear off the ruin. Stepping over some rubble he cast his gaze over the landscape. Seemingly untouched but reclaimed by nature. Where grass was once low, trodden by their walking. By their oxen Gus or by Izaak or his family. Nothing. Save back at the far end near the path once more as it curved away from their "farm" toward Coron Ford. There, beneath a tree was a mound, with a wooden placard nailed to the tree.

He approached cautiously, not wanting to know what it said. But needing to know. Kneeling down at the mound he put a hand to it and read it to himself. 'Final resting place of Eninea, wife to Kalin and mother to Artal.' Pinching his eyes shut he spoke 'thank the light, someone got here long before me.' Kicking out his legs he sat just beside the mound with its growth sprouting up all around it. Hand still upon the mound he opened his eyes once more. 'I'm so sorry mother. I took so long but I am here again.' The crunching of grass announced Tenil. The man drew close but did not speak, looking to the other man he nodded before turning his gaze back to the mound. 'Im no longer a small child, but it is me.' Gloved hand clenched on the grass. 'Much has happened, so very much. Many great people have looked after me. Helped me grow. Saved me from the cold, and from the darkness out here. If you would listen mother. I would tell you all about it.' Tears clung to his eyes, and he angrily wiped at them. He started to talk, the words flowed forth. Of his flight from home and his travels with Tenil. His sickness and his arrival into Caemlyn. Of Basel and Lamgwin, of the trolloc attack on White Bridge. All before he go to the events within the city itself. Of the men trying to snatch him, of his notes and the "man" following him and sneaking about. The sun was beginning to disappear beneath the horizon off in the distance but he could hear the crackling of a fire from behind him. "Camping outside my ruined home." The thought angered him slightly, but only because of the ruin itself. Pushing up he turned and sat with back against the tree. Staring at the mound he waited. Not wanting to go into the rest. Not wanting the words to come out.

'Don't have to do this Artal.' The yellow cloaked man said. Tenil, the hunter for the horn. His savior from the woods, the man who escorted him across the land to safety. And with one well sent note came back to aid him once more, and escort him all the way back.

'I do.' Sadness betrayed him and carried on his voice which made the other man nod and sink down beside the campfire he hastily made. Pinching his eyes shut he began.

Months and months of careful planning. Dropped notes and hastily passed coins from hand to hand. The stable boys taking notes from his "things" and giving them to the correct hands while he himself scurried about with his own incorrect notes. Its contents talking of the carriage man and his men being at the core of the problem, possibly the trolloc attacks themselves. That much he had only guessed at first, but with each passing month the attacks had grown and grown. White bridge, Aringill, even Caemlyn itself. And each time they were well supplied with fresh arms. The guardsmen at the gates liked to talk, and he always listened from a distance. It made little sense to him until he started seeing he was being followed, that he had his things rummaged through. Months of laying in the inn not doing much of anything he began to take notice of things going on around him. Softly spoken words in the inn, and news that would travel through. Trouble in Arad Doman. Attacks spreading all through Andor of trollocs, and of bandits moving about in the shadows stretching across all the land as it moved west. Of invaders from across the sea and how they had taken over such large amounts of land far off into the west. From Falme all the way nearly to Arad Doman itself. Each day presented new opportunities until finally he was aloud back out into the world. Back out under watchful gaze but back out. Winter had come and gone, and with it spring and summer and all the seasons once again. All while dropping little notes, sending off others with the lads.

'Too far in thought for your own good.' He heard and looked up from the table beside the window. Basel walked forward with a mug of something steaming and sat it down in front of him at the table. Freshly brewed tea, with a hint of mint by the smell of it. Taking it in hand he brought it up and sipped at it quickly while it was still hot. 'Going to talk finally?' The kind man asked, and every part of him wanted to shake his head and say no. They had quickly caught on to what he was doing. Well... Some of it.

Casting his gaze around the inn it was empty. All patrons were already in their rooms or moved on for the night. Door was shut and bolted downstairs and Lamgwin had even retreated to a room for the evening. In a low voice he decided it was time. 'Dangerous things.' Watching or a response none came yet. 'They are always watching, waiting Basel. But there is one in particular I can spot. Saw him once the night I fled but it didn't really register. Saw him again a few times after that. In here. And out in the streets while Lamgwin took me to training. Started dropping notes to see how he would act.' Sitting down the mug he stared into it.

'And, how did this person act lad?' Lad, the thought drew him back up. With a sigh he leaned back, running his fingers along the mug, stealing the warmth from it.

'Every time just as he made our way away he would snatch them up. And follow. Would always pass him leaving training and he would move in the direction we came from.' Watching the older man's reaction Basel leaned forward. 'He was never alone, others would follow as well. A man with a scar running along his jaw. One with a mashed in nose, and another and another. Each one I've seen before.'

'What? From where?' That was louder than he liked, and Basel quickly scanned around before moving to check outside the small library.

As the man returned he continued. 'On the carriages, they drive them. Inside the city and beyond.' The carriages employed by Soth. Who had carriages running all through Andor. From Aringill all the way to the Two Rivers. 'All reporting to Soth.'

Basel sat once more. 'And the man? The one that you have seen more than the others?' He pinched his eyes shut once more. Tall and lean, thinner than he ever remembered the man being. Wild eyes and filthy. Long dark hair framing his now narrow face.

'My father. Kalin.' Opening his eyes Basel looked horrified. Leaning back in his chair. 'Haven't seen him in so long, didn't recognize him at all. Filthy and thin, where father was always muscled and kept himself clean. A look in his eyes I can't explain. But it is him. It has to be him.'

'But if its your father why sneak around? Why not come and say something.' Anger seemed to fill Basel. The calm man looked absolutely flustered. He did not have those answers. Not yet. "Find the truth." The words rang out in his head as he fidgeted with the mug. Drawing it up and took a large gulp of the tea. Strong with a hint of milk, overpowered by the mint. Refreshing and warm, it heated his throat and chest as it went.

'No answers to that yet, other than they tried to snatch me. And made no attempt at that before the trolloc attack, only after.' Somehow the two were linked. That he did not know the answer to yet, but soon. Soon he would know.

'Well we need to be very careful then. May be over thinking this lad?' Almost a question but the tone let him know Basel was still angry. 'And lets not even begin with the secrets. You have been giving them notes letting them know you are onto them somehow? Who do you address them to?' That made him laugh.

'Some I address to the Queen herself. Some to a Gaidin and Sedai I briefly met within Whitebridge. Names of more value than myself. Names that would make someone anxious. It's the contents that matter.' Spinning the mug he watched as the half filled liquid swirled and swirled. A whirlpool waiting to suck down anything that dared move into its grasp. 'No one ever comes to ask me why I'm writing such notes and addressing them to these high standing individuals.' Eyes looked up toward Basel and folded his arms and answered.

'Which one would run the note to them if they were not taking that information else where. Add that to the sneaking around and that break in here taking the note the Sedai gave to you and we have someone reporting this information somewhere. And your guess is Soth?'

'Only because those men drive his carriages. At least I've seen them driving them here and there. It points to him, so I need him to know I'm watching. That I'm aware it somehow points to him. The names will make him anxious. Make him move, to play his hand.

'What? You want him to make a move? Boy if he has many men in his employ, dangerous ones at that. What can you hope to accomplish by drawing his ire?' Arms were unfolded and braced on the table.

'When we leave, I have other notes waiting. And others waiting to deliver them for a few coins. Those notes get to their intended audiences. At least I hope they do.' That part he was unsure of. But they were all gone now, all moved into the world like he.

'So your trying to draw his attention. And you have notes going out to others. To what end?' He knew that this part would come, and he could not answer that. Not yet. That note was safely put away. The next part he did not like. Lying to Basel.

'They make their move and the guards will be ready. It will be soon, on the longest day of the year, the last note I left for them to find states that on the longest day of the year I will hand deliver the note directly to the queen as all others have seemingly not made it. They will make their move then. To prevent me from reaching delivering it.' A filthy lie, a horrible lie. The day was correct, but not the intent. He will not deliver it. The note really stated that he would meet the intended recipient to deliver his findings to the queen, and they would meet in the park. Days away, mere days his stomach was in knots. When the days began to grown longer, and the longest of them all approached. In most places some form of festival or small gathering would occur. He intended to be abducted.

'Well we will need to be ready, that's mere days away and your just letting us know now. Rest. We will speak more on it tomorrow.' Basel rose and he nodded as the man moved from the library and closed the door behind him. "Goodbye Basel, and thank you." Quietly spoken before he stood and drew the mug up, stealing the last of the warmth and hoping that the whirlpool would steal away the knots which bound him up inside. Sitting down the mug he walked across the room and into his small home within the inn. Draping the black cloak over his shoulders he drew the strings and bound them before closing the door behind him, casting one last look to the little statuette staring at him from the small shelf, standing upon the final note to be delivered. With a click it shut and he made way to the window and drew it open. Out into the darkness of the overhang he stepped. Before walking to the edge and dropping down. Down into the unknown.

Morning light flickered from above the buildings, he had hidden in the alleys for days. Off in between crates and barrels, beneath wooden steps and away from all eyes. He could not be found, needed to remain hidden away from all. Until today arrived. And now that it was here he was anxious. More so then ever before. Horrible but necessary disappearing. Basel and Lamgwin had already done far too much for him. Now he needed to take the danger away from them. It was his. With a sigh he stood up and tugged the filthy cloak tightly around his face. Stepping out from the alley the clanging of hammer on anvil drowned out all sound beyond. Stalking out he moved quickly, while shadows still clung here and there. Slipping down the roadway he made his way south onto the east west roadway through Caemlyn and quickly cut east. Not even giving the inn a single glance. Footsteps rang out behind him, as he knew they eventually would. Not even two steps onto the roadway he turned and barely had time to see something swing toward him before the world spiraled away in darkness.

Opening his eyes the flickering of flames hurt for moments, he tried to shield his eyes but his arms would not respond. Looking down, he was tied to a chair. Dizzy he brought his eyes up, and caught sight of a man off to the side of a simple room, dark cloaked and pressed against a wall. Watching him with mad eyes. "Father?" Artal thought before looking around the rest of the room. Soth was stepping away from a doorway, someone outside saying something he could not make out before seeing him and letting a scoffing noise out before moving toward a long table and sitting at it. Folding his hands up beneath his chin and eyeing him with what he could only guess was the intent to harm him.

'Finally awake I see little one?' The man finally asked. Artal let his head sag and dragged it around slightly, "keep him guessing as to how awake you are. Drag this out." thought as he listening, hoping to hear something. 'No matter, we have found all your little notes. Intercepted them all over the city as you passed them around and dropped them.' "All of them? He hoped not, if they got all of them there was no hope for him at all." 'Really? Like this would have ever reached Tar Valon, or the Queen. You pass notes off to your weapons trainer to walk to her? To that old thief in the basement? They left them right where we could find them. Where we could take them. You have angered the wrong man boy. I serve one who would make what I do to you seem tame, you should be happy.' "Serve someone? Who did he serve?" He flopped his head back slightly, looking toward the man. 'There there, that drew you up. Yes. You very nearly ruined me. A lifetime of work, a lifetime of service. You nearly cost me everything. Nearly made my situation very bad indeed. And those who move with me. Yes.' The man at the wall shifted uncomfortably.

'Father, why do you hide?' He spoke up finally, waiting to see what the man did. Soth laughed, and threw his hands up before slamming them into the table.

'He serves me boy, and I serve someone far more dangerous. You should speak to the one addressing you.' Angry the man shouted at him, spittle flying from his lips. 'That creature barely keeps his skin, barely!' Pointing to the hooded man who nervously cast eyes everywhere but on the man. 'Years of planning, years of work. Moving weapons away from the armies of the west, stealing away resources and preparing. You nearly got me gutted wandering toward Whitebridge. They would not have been ready and alert had you not been there. Had you not roused the alarm.' There it was, it was him.

'You supply weapons to trollocs? Why?' He knew the answer, but wanted to hear it. Wanted the man to admit it.

'We serve HIM. You fool. And you nearly drew his angry gaze upon me! I barely got another chance, and now you will not be able to interfere. We got your note, that you would deliver it to the Queen. If that had gotten to her.' The man stopped, slamming his hands into the table once more. He pointed and his "father" stalked across the room and backhanded him upending him in the chair. Pain flashed through his face, and immediately tears began to fall. 'This is just the start, you will KNOW what you almost did to us!' His father served "Him" as well then? Looking up through watery vision the look returned to him was half mad, half rage. This was not his father. 'Do' Soth started but was cut off. Shouting outside. The creature that was his father looked over in that direction and Soth began cursing as well. 'Bloody hell, what have you done!' He heard and the shuffling off feet out the door. It slammed shut.

'How could you.' He began immediately. Crazed eyes looked down on him, the rage gone now. Replaced with something else. 'Yes you, how could you. Mother is dead! Izaak is dead!' Half snarled, half cursed at the thing before him. Eyes darted every which way, hands fidgeted now in front of him. More shouting outside, alot of shouting. It had begun. Notes delivered. They had made it. Now he just had to survi.....Ropes unwound. And he drew his attention to the creature which was rocking on its heels beside him. He untied me?

'Go...Now!' It spat, before it stood and strode toward the door. As it opened the shouts became clear, along with the sound of clashing. Standing Artal staggered slightly before moving on unsteady legs toward the door. Cracking it open he looked out. Red cloaks billowed behind men with steel in hand, clashing with the hastily armored men of Soth. Bodies lay throughout the courtyard. Slipping out the door Artal stepped off the steps into the yard below and hung to the building he exited. Moving away from the fighting. Carriages filled the area, fighting ringing out from all over around him. Slowly he stepped away from the building toward the rear of one of the carriages. Nearly stepping on a man he staggered back, lifeless eyes stared up at him, a scar running along the man's chin. Stepping over the fallen enemy he circled around the carriage and away from the rear of it, guardsmen swarmed in all directions. Circling the wagons and the buildings all in a row where he had just left. Stepping forward he crossed the grounds past bodies and away from the shouting that continued on behind him. Toward the woods, if he reached those he could be away from all of this. Moving more quicly he got several steps before something struck him from behind. A cry left him as he met the ground with force. Rolling onto his back he stared up at crazed eyes, cloak streaming behind him long black hair flowing the thin man that was his father had gone once more. Sword raised Artal wondered if the man had slashed him. He kicked his legs backing away, toward the woods. Away from the man that came at him.

'Told you to go! Told you to go now! You got seen. Now I gotta do this! NO CHOICE!' Almost hissed at him, the man drove forward and brought sword down. Arms flew up to try and shield himself. The sound of steel hitting steel rang out. "I am still alive." the thought surged forth, adrenaline pumping as his heart raced within his chest. Pulling hands down a cloak billowed just inches from his face, fading from once color to the next. Shifting and changing with each gust of wind which blew it about. Armored the man towered above him, lithe in build, the man looked down to him. An eyepatch over his left eye the bearded man slashed forward once more driving the mad creature back a step.

'You came!' Artal called out. As the man moved forward slashing in a wide arc driving the thing that was his father back once more.

'You said you had found your truth, we came at once.' A voice called from behind, and stepping out from the woods a slender woman with pixie cut blonde brown ashy hair stepped forward. Heart shaped face showing no sign of emotion. 'Are you hurt child?' Asked looking toward him, but he did not know.

'I am fine, I think. Spoken quickly.' A cry sounded out and he cast his attention forward. The Gaidin, Ominas had won already. The thing with the crazed look had his weapon cast into the dirt and his arm hung uselessly to his side as he knelt. 'This one is not well.' Alison Sedai spoke calmly as she strode forward.

'Someone approaches.' The deep voice of the warder called over, and Artal saw who came. A filthy yellow cloak billowed behind the man as he came forward. Blood splattered his leathers, and he looked to have wounds but he ignored them.

'Tenil!' Artal called out, sitting up finally. The two who came to his aid turned to regard him.

'Friend perhaps?' Alison asked looking to him.

'Yes friend! Not a foe!' Which seemed to put them both at a small sense of ease.

'We move forward, clean up the rest of this with the Queen's guard then. See what we can learn?' Ominas was asking, good eye scanning all around him as he flowed through various states of visibility.

'I think that would be best.' She said as Tenil passed by her to kneel beside him.

'Lad, you okay? What is all this?' Asked through labored breathes. Artal saw only small wounds, nothing serious but he did not know what else the hunter had gone through.

'Are you alright to watch over him until we return....Tenil?' The calm voice sang out and the man nodded quickly. She went to turn and walk away.

'We will be gone.' Artal called out quickly, both turned and gave him curious looks. 'I have brought too much danger to Andor. This is the finale of that. I need to leave, and I asked Tenil to come retrieve me once more. I am sorry this is all so sudden, but answers will come.' Blurted out all rapidly. He waited, it was enough for the warder who stalked forward disappearing around one of the carriages Alison waited a few moments longer before turning her attention to the creature. She moved a finger signaling him to rise. Tepidly it did, and stayed a few feet in front of her as she began to walk away. Calling out once more she looked at him briefly over her shoulder.

'Your truth? You found it?' Asked as she stepped away, he nodded before being helped to his feet.

'Yes. Thank you Alison Sedai, and thank Ominas for me. A full report of this truth so far will reach Tar Valon before you return. and the remainder of what I learned tonight will arrive when I get some place with a quill and paper.' No answer, just a nod before she continued escorting her prisoner further along beyond the carriages. Tenil helped him to his feet. The man looked worse for wear and began to step away into the woods, a voice from behind him drew their attention.

'Boy, it is done.' A guardsman bearing the uniform of the Caemlyn guard stood before him taking off his helmet. Vendon saluted him when helmet was removed. 'Those notes, well done lad.' The notes were taken to him from the boys in the stables, some of them at least. Some went beyond the walls of Caemlyn when put into the hands of trusted couriers.

'Soth?' Artal asked, hoping the man was truly captured.

'Taken. When you arrive in Caemlyn a full report to the Queen will be made as the prisoners are brought forth for justice. You will be called for.' Again, he would not be there.

'I will report to the Queen when I am in Caemlyn once more sir.' Spoken quickly, before he turned, and once more followed Tenil off into the woods.

Basel sat in the chair, unfolded note sitting on the table amidst a small pile of notes found beneath the statue on the shelf. Retrieved by young Iman in the morning and in all the confusion of the Queen's guard riding out and everything else turning upside down he did not receive it until a few hours prior. Soth taken into custody, along with that man....The boys father and many others. All prisoners now of Andor. A stockpile of Domani weaponry enough to supply and army. All brought forth by those who went out and fought, along with a An Aes Sedai and a Warder. The days events were a giant blur, and the boy still had not returned. Now he knew he would not. Eyes fixated on the note he was not angry. Not like Lamgwin was, the man had exited the inn to try and find any information hours ago. He just stared at the paper, reading the last bit once more.

"I have things I need to do, and I know this is unfair as I promised I would not run off alone again like this. I will not be alone as I sent word for Tenil to please return. I sent messages to all of the cities I could think of, all in hopes one would reach him. Lamgwin once told me to not say anything until I am ready to say I am sorry. This will be my last message until that time comes. I will return at that time. Thank you for everything, the filthy boy from Arad Doman."

Folding up the note Basel stared out the window, hoping the boy was at least alright. Vendon said he was, and that he was with a man in a filthy yellow cloak disappearing into the woods. The guardsman was disappointed the boy was not returning. He had made a full report to his superiors and they were anxious to meet him. Now he would need return and state the boy had disappeared and was not returning for who knew how long. With a sigh he gathered up the folded up notes, some he would need send off to Tar Valon, some were for him and some for many others. The boy sure did write well now, all that practice was paying off. Smiling to himself he moved off into the small room off the side of the library. He would store these in here, until the room once more became occupied.

Darkness surrounded him completely, save for the flickering campfire. Tenil quietly sat nearby as Artal finished telling mother his story. No reply, no sound. Just a calmness that blew by with each gust of wind. Time had grown to a standstill, fourteen years of age he had been when the troubles in Andor came to a close. Now he sat, by his mother's final resting place at the age of eighteen. Four years spent traveling with Tenil, moving from place to place. Slowly creeping their way west once more. Tenil would hunt for the horn, and he would hunt for the courage to return once more. To tell mother what has occurred, to ensure she was at rest and then to finish his business out here in the western edges before the sea.

'She would be proud Artal.' His companion spoke in a confident voice, as he always did. Artal gave a quick nod before leaning forward. Resting hands upon knees. The tears had stopped falling hours ago. A peace fell over him now that it was out, now that he had finally made his way back here. 'Do you head back to Caemlyn next, or continue on with me off in the woods hunting for this horn?' Artal half expected more colorful language, he had grown accustomed to hearing it lately.

'Still unfinished business out here.' Artal answered giving the man a quick glance before standing and moving closer to the fire. Laying down he stretched out, his knees ached from being crouched up against the tree for so long.

'Unfinished business still? Do I want to know what this business is in regards to?' Tenil sounded as if he was hoping Artal would immediately run off back toward Caemlyn, he understood it the man wanted him safe away from all the trouble out in the west. But it isn't like trouble found him in Andor either.

'A boy, of Domani look was seen all those years ago. Moving off with a regimen of the invaders. Brown of hair and eye, he moved quickly trailing behind them as they made their way south away from Coron Ford.' Answered quickly. Artal watched him waiting for an answer. The man made an aggravated grunt while rubbing at his hair. Leaning back he finally replied.

'A boy yes, we got that information but nobody knows your friend Izaak and nobody has seen him. The old man barely remembered seeing anything and nobody else saw anything only happened by the ruins after everything happened.'

'He saw something, and if Izaak is alive. I need to find out. I need to find him, and tell him of everything. Apologize for leaving him.' Tenil did not answer, the man would know his mind is made up. He had found his truth, his father was responsible for all. Turned to the dark he betrayed the smugglers of Arad Doman and Altara, used their resources to funnel the weapons east, off into Andor causing them no shortage of trouble before disappearing east with Soth. The bandits responded by killing mother, attacking them and causing him to flee east. To leave his friend. He would make amends, if he could find him once again. Laying back in silence he stared up at the night sky, hoping somewhere out there Izaak was well. 'I will find him.' He announced before closing his eyes, and getting rest before the next adventure begins.

Posts: 254
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2020 1:46 pm

Re: A Return (Three parts)

Post by Korsik » Fri May 20, 2022 7:57 am

Awarding 16qps, part 1 5, part 2 5, part 3 6

Post Reply