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#1 The Don

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 11:29 AM

The spot where he arrived was less than a mile from the road heading south to Tar Valon. He had been to Tar Valon a few times before, even into the White Tower. That was Peaten, though. Now he was Matrim, at least his body was. The two souls were as one, but Peaten dominated. In his mind, he was still Peaten, save the occasional flashback, which were becoming less and less frequent. Matrim was a Darkfriend from Tear, who had come to Shayol Ghul to become a Gray Man, fool man. Instead, he was given the honor of being somewhat of an avatar for Peaten to walk the waking world. When Peaten was here last, he had killed a Black Sister and her Warder, his only kill inside the White Tower itself and his first Aes Sedai. Forkroot was a beautiful herb, and when used properly could be devistating. He had overpowered the Warder while Aes Sedai watched numb in her room, then ravaged the woman while the Warder watched incapacitaded, then killed both. The look in the eyes of the Aes Sedai as he dealt the killing blow to her Warder was priceless. Killing her was much more satisfying. With the lack of Gholam, Shar Mahdi were the main choice of the Chosen to assassinate channelers, and were still not always successful. Very few had succeeded in killing both a full Aes Sedai and her Warder.

As he basked in Peaten's memories, Matrim turned onto the road. He had a list in his mind of the highest ranking sisters of the Black Ajah, as well as those who had used the Shar Mahdi for their own agendas before the Chosen were freed. One of them, at least had to be in the Tower at the moment, there was always supposed to be a presence there. In life, only the Order and the Great Lord himself commanded him. As the "children" of Demandred, Dreadlords and Black Sisters usually had to beg the Order to use its senior members, though they were technically higher ranking. Now only the triumvate of Great Lord of the Dark, the Hand of the Dark and Nae'blis commanded him, though an order from the Chosen was to be followed unless it interfered with the plans of one of the top three. Then it would have to be respectfully declined, something no other Friend of the Dark had right to do.

The gate stood open for anyone to enter. And they did. A steady flow of traffic let dozens of people in and out every hour. When Peaten had first come here as a youngster on his way from Caemlyn to the Blight, he marvelled at the intricate design and architecture of the city. Even growing up most of his life in sight of Caemlyn, Tar Valon was the grandest city he had ever been to. He supposed it still was, and he had seen them all from Seanchan to Shara, but he had no interest in such things anymore. The only thing still somewhat impressive was the Tower itself, a massive building that dwarfed the Tower of the Black Dawn. A building such as that showed power. He would always respect power, even that of his enemies. Peaten's memories served Matrim in finding his way through the city, though anyone could eventually find the Tower. Peaten knew hiding places though, where he could watch the Tower from a distance until he figured out a way to get in, and stay for an extended period of time. He could prtetend to be a Warder in training, but for one with the mastery of weapons so deeply ingrained in him, even in another body it would be difficult to fake ignorance for so long. Besides, trainees were given only limited access to the Tower. That left the Tower Guard and the servants. The rank and file Tower Guard had the same limits as Warder trainees, and the same trouble of not showing his skill too fast. The only solution was to become a servant. Bowing and scraping was not something he was used to, but he had done so on missions before. He couldn't just walk in and ask to be a servant though. There needed to be an opening, first of all. One would rouse suspicion, many disappearing would leave the Aes Sedai in need to find several new servants, and quickly. All there was to do now was to wait and see who must be sacrificed.

Edited by The Don, 10 August 2011 - 09:52 AM.

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"We all need to look into the dark side of our nature - that's where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we're busy denying."

#2 The Don

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 11:16 AM

Patience. It was a quality every assassin needed, one that Peaten already possesed before his training had begun. The patience of a ten year old boy hunting in the Braem Wood, where every other hunter from around Caemlyn tried to find game, knowing if he didn't come back with a kill, his mother and siblings would starve. As the youngest and smallest hunter in those woods, he was an easy target to have his meager catch stolen from him. It was also needed to stalk hunters themselves and try his own hand at thievery. Stealing from a group of grown men with bows and nobody to tell the tale of his murder took more stealth and nerves than hunting a deer or rabbit.

As a trainee in the Tower of the Black Dawn, Peaten had spent hours on end hiding from his teachers, where all but the last trainee found would be punished severely for being found. It was a lesson in being still, not moving a muscle while you waited, usually in a most uncomfortable position. An assassin who was spotted, especially when the target was in a camp with sentries, was either killed or had to abort the mission, making it that much harder to complete the next try. As an apprentice and fledgling Assassin, patience was tested on a regular basis. There were few easy assignments, and an unseasoned or outnumbered Assassin needed stealth much more than full Shar Mahdi, most of who had the safety net of being blademasters. As an up and coming Shar Mahdi, Peaten had watched the Master of Combat for months to find his weakness, then took the coveted position in a duel to the death. It really was a shame losing such a powerful weapon to the Shadow, but that was their way. He had yet to figure out how to change the archaic custom, but that was a problem for another day.

Even in his new life, he had been forced to wait. Wait and learn the World of Dreams. Wait until a suitable body could be found to bring him back to the waking world. Wait while the Chosen jockeyed themselves into position until the new Nae'blis was named. That had been the hardest of all. He knew himself to be a useful tool in the arsenal of the Shadow. It was difficult watching his tongue when so many put him into their councils, but he had weathered their plots until the Nae'blis was chosen. Now he could make his own decisions based on the plot of V'alduri, without having to step on a half dozen powerful toes.

Compared to that, learning the daily routines of servants, even so many in the shadow of hundreds of Aes Sedai, had been child's play. He had watched the servants that worked in the Warder's Yard, the ones who most likely had access to the armories. He watched who they had spent their time with. Two had to be taken. He decided on a young man, who was enamored with one of the librarians. It was well known they had spoken of marriage, of far off lands where they were their own Masters. With both positions open, it was less likely to seem foul play. He killed them both near a tavern they frequented, and pulled their bodies into Tel'aran'rhoid with him. Several days later, as Matrim, he inquired about giving his services to the White Tower. His former Master was an antiques collector in Tear. His main interest was in weapons, which he passed on to young Mat. Though Tarien, his voyages around the world soften his views on Aes Sedai, and after his Master's unfortunate death digging up rocks in the Mountains of Mist, Matrim had thought Tar Valon the best place to continue his Master's research, thus he was given both jobs, until a suitable replacement could be found to take one or the other. Matrim would see that that would not happen while he was there. All in all it fit perfectly. Coming up for biographies for his diguises was one of the few simple pleasures beyond hunting that he allowed himself. With access to both armories and the White Tower library, Matrim figured this would be one of the more enjoyable... and possibly rewarding missions he had taken in quite some time.
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"We all need to look into the dark side of our nature - that's where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we're busy denying."

#3 The Don

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 01:44 PM

The time Matrim had spent so far in the White Tower had been productive indeed. The library contained much more than even the Tower of the Black Dawn, something he was skeptical about before. Much of it was restricted to any but Aes Sedai, however. That was to be expected, but still foolish. There were no such restrictions in the Shar Mahdi order. Full knowledge was shared from Master to Apprentice since the time before the Trolloc Wars, and what was newly learned went straight to the archives for all to see, though not all wished to take the time to learn. Peaten was one of the few that had taken to studying old books and tomes as often as weapons, one of the reasons he had risen to the top of the order. There was an unfortunate glaring lack of information in their records though, they had kept only a small record of anything beyond knowledge of the Shadow or Wars. The Shar Mahdi were weapons, it was true, but so were Grey Men and Trollocs. What should set them apart, more so than superior skill, was that humans could learn and adapt. In his readings many years ago, he had found the original Rules of War written by Daghain, the founder of the Order, himself. One of these rules was know your Enemy as you know Yourself. There were probably books about the One Power in the Dreadlords' stronghold, but Peaten was restricted on his few visits there. What he had found here was fascinating. Knowing how to channel did little good, probably the reason the Shar Mahdi had precious few manuscripts, but knowing strengths and limitations was something that would help not only himself, but the Order as a whole. Even amongst Friends of the Dark, there were factions. He had always wondered if the Great Lord would pick new Chosen from among those that could not channel once he was free. There were no records of it during the War of Power, but that did not mean it could not happen. Peaten was chosen for something, that he was here as Matrim proved that. He knew he could kill a Dreadlord, he had to on several occasions. What about the Chosen? He wondered when and if that order would come be to take one of them out. The Great Lord of the Dark wanted the stongest to be his Chosen. If he killed one of the living Chosen, would that not prove him stronger? For many years he had been content to be an assassin, but what if he could be more? All the more reason to speed up the search for his ashanderei.

He decided to start with his list of the Black Ajah. He had the names, but didn't know what they looked like or their Ajah, or even if they were in the Tower. Deep in his thoughts, he had nearly forgotten where he was, and what he had started doing. He stopped dead in the middle of a downwards chop, practice sword held barely an inch from the rack that was to hold it. All the Warders were gone, but anybody could have been looking into the Yard. Fool! Even as Matrim, the knowledge remained, though the body was slower, weaker, and had less balance. Here he was a servant, not a warrior. His cover was now in jeopardy if anyone saw. No servant, even one who claimed to know weapons as he did would have much skill. He tried not to look around as if he were suspect, instead he slowly put the sword back on the rack. He could always say he had been trying a move he saw the Warders do. He quickly finished putting all the weapons away and rushed them back inside, out of the elements. When he was done, he went to his next job in the library, were he would begin searching for the Aes Sedai on his list.
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"We all need to look into the dark side of our nature - that's where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we're busy denying."

#4 The Don

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 03:50 PM

The search for the Black Ajah had become tedious. Matrim had begun his quest by asking all Aes Sedai he had come across about the Trolloc Wars. His reasoning was that only a Friend of the Dark would know certain information, but a suprising amount knew the information he requested. This frustrated him greatly. Through Peaten's memory, he knew that not only Friends of the Dark had used the Shar Mahdi as hired assassins. After the Trolloc Wars, especially during the time of Hawkwing, the Shar Mahdi had been swords hired by both Darkfriend and Lightfool alike. Since there was no official war of Light versus Shadow, Demandred had encouraged such transactions as practice. The more jobs a Shar Mahdi had aquired, the more experience the Order as a whole gained of the outside world. Peaten himself had taken jobs by all who could pay until the Chosen were freed. The Shar Mahdi were known by those who had connections, but none but other Friends of the Dark knew they served the Shadow. If others knew, they looked the other way because of the quality of work.

It had taken many weeks, but finally Matrim found a woman who might have the answers he needed. "Thank you for your knowledge Aes Sedai. May I please ask your name, in case I have more questions? I am afraid my thirst for knowledge is near unquenchable, as my former Master once told me."
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"We all need to look into the dark side of our nature - that's where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we're busy denying."

#5 Kathleen

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 01:50 PM

As Alia settled into her bed the events of the day played over in her mind. It hadn't been a particularly busy day. She had puttered around the tower running simple errands and replying to messages from her own informants. Just another day. Though just as she was drifting off the one odd thing in the day did form in her head.

As she was walking the tower grounds in between stops she had been pulled aside by a man who asked her of wars. Why he would stop a Sister who was clearly on a mission she wasn't sure of, but a Blue would know things. Any Aes Sedai would know a good amount about the major wars, she had many lessons on them in her younger years, and learned more still as she learned the true histories of them from the other side. It was an odd conversation for a servant to strike up, but Alia took the time to stop and answer as many of his questions as she could. When the topic died down he had thanked her for the answers and asked her name. Alia had given it and went back to the rest of her rather dull day.

Snuggling into her pillow, Alia's mind left the thoughts of the servant behind and her thoughts became more and more distant until she sank into a peaceful slumber.

Alia Mariadoon
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#6 The Don

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 11:29 AM

Alia. Finally a name he recognized from the list! Matrim returned to his room to think on how to confront her. She was no ordinary Friend of the Dark to be bullied or commanded. He had to do this carefully. He hated to admit it, but even Peaten could be defeated by the One Power if he wasn't careful. He decided he would go into her rooms, but first to see where those were. When his afternoon duties in the Warder's Yard were finished, he set out to look for Alia once more. He found her on her way into the Blue Ajah quarters. It was a start at least, but Matrim could not enter the Ajah quarters without being invited. At least... he couldn't just walk in. Looking to see if anyone was around, he walked into one of the larger shadows...

... and stepped into the World of Dreams. It felt good after so long. He was Peaten now, and Tel'aran'rhoid was where Peaten felt most comfortable. Here he was close to invincible. Only the Chosen knew this place as well as he, but none of them had lived here like he had. He waited until it was near midnight in the waking world...

And stepped out again into the hallways of the Blue Ajah quarters. He had no idea which room she was in, or if she had a Warder, or if the Warder was there, so the safest way to check each room was through the World of Dreams. He entered in front of each of the doors and exited where even if there had been anyone awake, shadows would hide him. He did this until finally he saw her. Now the tricky part. To wake and startle an Aes Sedai was a fool's errand. Peaten was no fool. He would not be able to enter her dreams, Aes Sedai were protected from that sort of intrusion. Finally he decided to wait until she woke up on her own. He spent the time thinking on how to convince her to help.

When dawn finally came, he braced himself for what he knew was coming. She woke up to find Peaten sitting in one of her chairs. Immediately, he felt himself trapped by Air. It was impossible to hold him like that, but she didn't know that. He had to have her believe he meant no harm. "How did you...?

"Our Master would not apprectiate if you killed me Aes Sedai. It seems I am a favorite of the Nae'blis." Her eyes widened. "Yes, I know who you are. It should only be fair to introduce myself, then. My name is Peaten al'Kar, Master of the Shar Mahdi Order." It seemed she recognized the Shar Mahdi, at least, as apparently many Aes Sedai did. "You may have also heard of the Man with Two Souls."

"Why are you here?"

"I have a proposition for you. The White Tower has something of mine that I would very much like to have back. In exchange for your help in finding this item for me, I offer access to my services, including one freebie. I am... quite a competant assassin. As you have seen, I can enter where others cannot, with the ease of strolling in a park, and my skill with weapons compare quite favorably with the very best Warders. You could do much worse with me as your ally. I am, of course in the service of the Nae'blis first and foremost, but I can work for others as long as it doesn't interfere with the Master Plan. What say you? If not I would ask only to point out others to help me, I have a list of names of those who also serve."
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"We all need to look into the dark side of our nature - that's where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we're busy denying."

#7 Kathleen

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 03:38 PM

Alia slept well dreaming a number of different dreams. She slept deep but came conscious between dreams. Most of the time she slipped back to sleep easily, but at the end of her third dream of that night, as she was slowing transitioning, she felt something odd. She laid still and quiet as if she hadn't woken. Hearing a soft breathing from where she knew there was a chair the blue grasped saidar in a blink and shot out weaves to still the man as her eyes bolted open.

Her intial shock turned to anger. How could he have made it into her room with out her knowing? Before she could think of she began to ask, "How did you...?"

The man sat calmly as he took up the answer before she managed to finish it, "Our Master would not apprectiate if you killed me Aes Sedai. It seems I am a favorite of the Nae'blis." Alia lost herself as the man spoke and the terror and shock she felt showed through on her face for just a split second. She pulled her mind together. If he wanted her dead, she'd have been dead. The man truly had to know who she was, but how? She had been so careful. In all of the years she had served the Great Lord of the Dark she had never once been found out, or at lease she was never called out on it. Who was this man? One did not just claim to be a favorite of the Nae'blis in the middle of the night to a perfect stranger. Not in the Halls of the White Tower anyway. One did not just break into the rooms of the Black Ajah Head. Who did this man think he was, and who did he think he was dealing with?

As if he had read her mind the man continued, "Yes, I know who you are. It should only be fair to introduce myself, then. My name is Peaten al'Kar, Master of the Shar Mahdi Order." Alia pulled the bed sheet up over her chest as she realized she was only sitting in her thin night dress. She searched her memory but with sleep still filling her brain and shock and anger filling what was not still groggy, she was having trouble placing the name he had given. She knew she'd heard of it all before, and she knew it would come to her. The man gave more, as if seeing her trying to place him, "You may have also heard of the Man with Two Souls."

It all flooded into her at once, but Alia had held the glass face of Aes Sedai for most of the man's speech, and while her mind reeled to believe it and subdue her shock, her hold on that glass face did not crack now. It was what it was. She couldn't do anything to change the facts. The man had gotten into her room with out her notice. She was face to face with the Man with Two Souls. "Why are you here?" She asked calmly.

"I have a proposition for you. The White Tower has something of mine that I would very much like to have back. In exchange for your help in finding this item for me, I offer access to my services, including one freebie. I am... quite a competant assassin. As you have seen, I can enter where others cannot, with the ease of strolling in a park, and my skill with weapons compare quite favorably with the very best Warders. You could do much worse with me as your ally. I am, of course in the service of the Nae'blis first and foremost, but I can work for others as long as it doesn't interfere with the Master Plan. What say you? If not I would ask only to point out others to help me, I have a list of names of those who also serve."

Alia ran the words through her mind again before she responded. Reading into what the man said for traps. Not long after he had made his propositioned Alia replied. "I will take your offer as it stands and help you as far as I can without putting myself, or my Sisters in danger. I do not work for you, and I will not lay my life down so you can get some trinket back. Are we clear?" She waited for him nod in approval before she continued, "Now, tell me what you can of this trinket you lost. What is it? When and how did you lose it? Anything you can think of that would help me place it." She slipped out of the bed, pulling the night dress loose from her body where it had been all but plastered to her. She quickly grabbed a robe and wrapped it around her. She put on tea, even if the man left now she would be up for hours.

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#8 The Don

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 04:41 PM

Peaten nodded in agreement with the terms he had fully expected. "Fair enough. It will be a personal favor among equals." He smiled, trying to seem as friendly as possible. He knew Aes Sedai hated being called equal to anyone, despite that their name meant 'servant'. No need to push himself too much on one who could help him though. As well as he could be a powerful ally, so could she be. "It is a unique item, which you would know if you had seen or heard of it coming to the White Tower, though I'm sure they kept it's presence on a need-to-know basis. It is a weapon forged in the Valley of Thakan'dar. Not a sword like Trollocs and Halfmen use. It is in the form of an ashanderei, an ancient weapon used mostly during the Trolloc Wars. This one was made for me personally many years back. I lost it several years ago, when I was killed by a Warder who was near the very top of Demandred's hit list." He saw the raised eyebrow as she prepared her tea. "I am no ghost or undead. The flesh you see is as real as your own. Anyways, I was spared through the World of Dreams, but was stuck there until recently when the Great Lord offered me the body of young Matrim, the servant you met yesterday." He was reluctant to give this information, but the Aes Sedai would figure it out quickly anyways if she was more than a half-wit. "He is me and I am he, I can switch through the World of Dreams. I am sure my weapon is here in the Tower, though I do not know where. To search every room in the Tower as I did to find you would take far too long. And Aes Sedai have access to places simple servants do not. I can tell you it is not in any armory used by Warders or Tower Guards, nor the first two levels underneath the Tower itself. Perhaps it is under the study of a Brown, or the Amyrlin herself, or tossed aside like every other bloody useful object here." He shook his head. With all the wealth of knowledge in the White Tower, they used only a fraction. Had the Tower of the Black Dawn had access to all of this information, the Shadow would have been victorious long before the Chosen were free. Then again, for many hundreds of years before Peaten had become Master of the Order, they had been plagued by weak leadership as well... wasteful and arrogant. The Dreadlords fared little better in those years. "If you could even tell me where it definately is not, or where even you do not have access to, it would narrow down my search tremendously. I could search where you do not have access, while you search where you do." He thought a little. "It would do no good for you to be seen talking with Matrim overly much as well. When both he and the weapon are gone, they will suspect anyone he has spent any time with as conspirator. I will see to it that those who displease me most get most of his attention." He smiled again. "With your permission, I will contact you here in your rooms where we can have the most privacy. If you have any visitors you can leave a sign for me that it is not safe to enter."
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#9 Kathleen

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:34 AM

Alia took a seat across from the man as he began to describe the ashanderei. Made in the Valley of Thakan'dar, specifically for him; this man must be somebody. Anyone with the knowledge could make up a tale like this, far fetched as it was, but who else could have come into her rooms like this? If he wasn't who he said he was, he was someone just as important, and just as dangerous. Much better to be allies with him while she could.

He mentioned being killed by a warder, and while she threw him a questioning look she wasn't too unbelieving. Perhaps the man had died. The Lord of the Grave could do wonders beyond her imagination, it was not her place to question. Even if the rest of his story was full of fancy, and he was not who he said he was, she believed he was in search of this ashanderei and that he truly believed it was here. The man could have killed her tonight and did not. She said she would help him and she would try.

Hearing of Matrim, the servant who had asked of the wars, helped her put the answer of how he found her in perspective. A very fancy tale to imagine and try to sell, if he were not one and the same. It did not matter. As long as he got what he wanted and left without harming her Ajah she would be pleased. She did have a sinking feeling that he would one day use this weapon against her or her sisters, but she couldn't be paranoid about everything. He was an ally until she had reason to believe otherwise, and then she would deal with him as was fit. When he had given Alia all the information he was going to she poured a cup of tea for herself and offered one to her guest.

"I have a few ideas on where it may be, but give me some time. I will find out what I can for you. Better we wait for a reply from someone who can tell you directly where it is than have you turn the tower over in search of it. If I do not get any leads for you in one week we can start talking of how to turn the tower over with out causing a scene. I hope that is not too long of a wait for you, but I doubt I could rush the results of my search further without looking suspicious. One week may be a rush in itself, but I will do what can be done."

Alia set the parameters on when she would welcome Paeten back to her rooms. She hoped he would he respect her wishes on this, but she couldn't be sure, and that thought alone would keep her up at night for a long while she was sure.

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#10 The Don

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 11:31 AM

"I am a patient man." He tested the bonds of Air once again. Alia seemed cool and collected, much more so than would be excpected of most Aes Sedai, given the circumstances. He nodded to himself. Maybe the Great Lord's luck was with him in finding this woman. "Until we meet again, then."...

... and he stepped back into the World of Dreams. He willed himself directly into Matrim's room...

... and stepped out as Matrim. It was hours yet until his duties in the Warder's Yard called, and he was beginning to feel tired. Living in the Dream World was tiring, being there in the flesh more so, and he had been either awake or there for days. Even Peaten needed sleep, and Matrim was still not so accustomed to surviving with so little rest. Matrim lay down on his bed and allowed himself the rare comfort of full sleep, without Tel'raran'rhoid. With real sleep came real dreams. Dreams of Matrim's past... and dream's of Peaten's...

Peaten was a shining star in the annals of the Shar Mahdi, the Blood Seekers, but his road had been far from easy. Each step had been earned, each scar a badge of honor. He had arrived in Tar Machin Rahien, the Tower of the Black Dawn, as little more than a boy. He was the youngest initiate to ever walk through the gates, much less be accepted. He was tall and slim, though years as a hunter and thug, providing for his family gave him a solid, lean build. At the age of 14, he was as tall as most men, but because of his age, he was a target to other initiates and trainees. In the wild, the weak were separated from the strong and destroyed. In the Tower, the weak were separated by their own kind and devoured. The very first day as an initiate, Peaten was taken aside by the Master of Combat himself and recieved the same speech every other had recieved on their first day for 2000 years. "I will break you. I will destroy everything you thought you knew about everything, because you are wrong. When you are broken, I will reasemble you into a tool of the Great Lord of the Dark. Attack me, kill me if you can." Peaten refused. The man was unarmed, and Peaten had a spear. Pride was his folly. If he did not attack, he would have been killed on the spot. The man was ruthless. It was the worst beating Peaten had ever taken, including when he was killed. He ended up with a broken nose and two cracked ribs. His entire body was a bruised mass. He knew it could have been worse, but the Master wanted him just well enough that he could still fully train.

The uniform of an initiate was the purest of white linens. It signified the blank canvass on which the initiate would be molded. He was allowed to heal the rest of the day, and contemplate what was to come. More than a few had commited suicide their first night in the Tower. In fact, a great number of deaths in the Tower came from initiate and trainee suicides. The pain that came with that night was unforgettable. The room he was given was more like an underground cell without a pallet to sleep on, which was just as well since it was only six feet by six feet, and Peaten had to lay diagonally anyways. There were no windows and no door, only a doorway that opened up into a dimly lit hallway. Initiates lived like animals. The Tower cooks made a certain amount of food each day, and initiates being the lowest ranking ate the last scraps of meals, if there were any at all. And when there were, there was a pecking order of initiates on who got the first of those scraps. They awakened before anyone else so they could do their morning run before heading to the kitchens to prepare the food for the others, then clean up when they were done. Then they did their chores around the Tower. They did the same routine four times a day, with little to no rest. His injuries made the first few days pure torture. He was last to finish his first few runs, making qucik enemies of his fellow initiates, who had to rest in a half push-up position until he finished. On the last mile of the 2nd day, Peaten collapsed. He seriously considered laying there until they finally put him out of his misery. He saw the Seeker in charge of the initiates shake his head and unsheath his sword. Unexplainably, though, he stood up and finished the run. That night, the others attacked him ruthlessly. The senior initiate, the one at the top of the pecking order at least, turned his face int owhat looked like ground beef. But Peaten gave one strong punch, which made the man's face swell around his left eye. That began his march from the bottom of the initiates to the top. It took five days for him to not be the last runner, and with the addition of a new initiate, Peaten was not at the bottom anymore. The former top initiate fell quickly out of the graces of the others, and after only a few days jumped off the top of the Tower, which the newest initiate had the grim task of cleaning up. That very night he realized how unimportant he really was. The Tower was unforgiving of weakness, and even the top initiate was less than nothing. He was finally, truely broken. It was shortly after he realized this that his Cadre noticed and went into his room as he slept. He asked a simple question. "What are you?" Peaten answered the right answer. "A tool."

The life of a trainee was more difficult in many ways, but infinately more rewarding. The rags he was given were gray, signifying a deeper grade into the Shadow. Trainees added an extra mile to their run, but also added classes that helped them physically and mentally. They were given strength and balance training, as well as lessons in the history of the Shadow and Arms & Armor. Most importantly, they were given lessons in meditation. What the Shar Mahdi used was much like the Void, only it's opposite. Instead of clearing the mind of fear and anger and hate, the ball of emotion was fed by it. Once you had all these emotions in check, you could tap into it, releasing all of those emotions into a focused attack. This was called ayende, "freedom" in the Old Tongue. A Master could call on this at will, but for the trainees, it took much meditation. Where some never reached it, Peaten, with his anger at the world, reached it his first time... though afterwards it was still extremely hard to come by. Though he started at the bottom of the trainee pecking order, it would not be long until he rose up to the top. In the beginning, they attacked him because they thought he was weak, soon they would attack him for fear of what he could become...

... Matrim woke up with the sun shining in his face and shivered. He had wanted to become a Gray Man, to have his soul one with the Shadow, but remembering what Peaten had done to do so was frightening. He shook his head to clear it out. Matrim's thoughts and feelings still clouded the Peaten-dominated mind once in a while. Instead of getting better, it seemed to be getting worse. The only way, he thought, to make it better if it wouldn't go away was to begin training the body and mind of Matrim in the way that Peaten's had once been. Crossing his legs on his bed, Matrim began feeding that fear into a little ball.
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#11 Kathleen

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 07:40 AM

Alia watched the man vanish into a shadow and out of her room. It was at that moment that truly put her faith in the man's story. She would need to think on a ward against this type of entry, but not this night.

She sat in her robe sipping at the tea she had made to still her shaking nerves. This night's events were quite a lot to process, but sat in her chair trying to make sense of it all. She sat for hours processing what had happened, trying to fight off the fear of knowing she was never truly safe no matter where she was, and trying to determine the best way to go about gathering information to find out where this weapon would be. Finally, when she was calm enough and tired enough she set her robe aside again and slipped back into bed.

What little sleep she did get was not very relaxing, but it was enough to bring some rest. She woke early and dressed then set writing up a number of coded messages. It was the same message each time, purely searching for information. How to word it with out causing mass suspicion, but in such a way to give her the information she needed was hard to find, but when she had the first one written the rest came easily.

When each of the letters were written Alia packed them up and began to walk the tower grounds leaving them where only the ones they were meant for would find them. She spread out dropping them off throughout the day, and the people she could speak to in person she did. By the end of the day she was not any further ahead, but she was sure that the search was in motion.

She readied herself for bed and pushed the worried thoughts of Peaten in shadows out of her mind. She couldn't live in constant worry. She was helping him, and at least until the time that she could no longer help him she had to believe that he would not harm her. She had told him when he was welcome, and she tried to assure herself that she could handle him if he abused that.

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#12 The Don

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 04:07 PM

The next few days were spent waiting. He would give Alia as much time as she needed, or at least until the Great Lord called him. He had taken a sword into his room for Matrim to practice with. It was just large enough that he could practice forms, if not attack and defense patterns. He only wished he had an ashanderei for Matrim to practice with...

...Peaten had chosen the weapon as a Trainee, before he was even allowed to touch a weapon. Trainees were given a course on weapons and armor, the advantages and disadvantages of each. Peaten had chosen the ashanderei because it made use of what would be his unmatched reach as he grew into full maturity. Not only that, but it was an ancient weapon, no longer used by anyone, not even the Warders or Shar Mahdi. It made use of powerful sweeps and precise jabs. There was a sword blade at one end and a thick spike at the other. With two avenues of attack, most people would be confused, though like any weapon, attack could only come from one place at any given time. He sped through his time as a trainee, only a month, to become a true student.

Students of the Tower were finally allowed to train with weapons, though only sword, staff, and bow. Peaten would spend hours fine tuning his body, so every strike was the exact same every single time. He practiced the sword more often, but the quarterstaff, the weapon closest to the ashanderei, was what he practiced hardest. His first true test had come in the Gladius arena. Each month, the Tower held an event meant to test the mettle of it's members. Men and women of the Tower battled for position and showed off for would-be Masters, Apprentices and Assassins were pited against their Masters in order to gain the next level. In his first Gladius, as a trainee, Peaten showed his control of ayende by brutally submitting a classmate. It was the work of a berserker, the animal rage of a Trolloc pummeling a peasant. His next, however, had shown how far his control had come. With his quarterstaff, he had broken his rival, not letting him die, but not letting him pass out without submitting to him. To have killed the man so would have been a failure. He would never again be challenged in a Gladius by one of his peers.

Three months later, he graduated again to the ranks of the senior students. Here he learned survivial, languages of the world, and best of all the rest of the weapons available to him. The instructor of the senior students was none other than the Master of Combat himself, who's task it was to make sure the students were ready to become apprenticed. The Master and his own two Apperntices had taken to drubbing Peaten far harder than any of the others. He would learn later on it was because so many had told him how great he was, he needed to be humbled. And humbled he was. He worked twice as hard on perfecting his craft until even the Apprentices were hard pressed to defeat him. In three years, Peaten was head and shoulders better than any of his peers, and Master Arenos alone would serve as his sparring partner, humbling him again and again, feeding into the fire that was Peaten al'Kar. Once a year, the Gladius gained special significance. The local Trolloc camp and it's group of Myrddraal would join in the festivities. Assassins and Shar Mahdi challenged all sorts of Shadowspawn, local or captured. Captives were fed to the Trollocs. Even some of the Masters were challenged for their position. In one of these, the third since his arrival, Peaten would fight his would-be Master. It was Memnoch, the Apprentice that had found him all those years ago wandering the Blight. He was himself once Apprenticed to the Master of Combat, Master Arenos, and was his prize pupil. Memnoch was a rising star in the ranks, and was soon to become full Shar Mahdi himself. The fight was short, though. With as much raw power and emotion and promise as Peaten had, Memnoch was by far the more experienced and already a blademaster. Peaten had fought well enough, though, that he was accepted into Apprenticeship under Memnoch.

His very first mission as an Apprentice saw him back near Caemlyn, where her had grown up most of his life. While Memnoch fulfilled his mission, the erasure or a deserter, Peaten went back to his family home. His older brother was gone, apparently a Captain in the Children of the Light. His younger sister had gone off to be a novice in the White Tower. Matrim had seen her not too long ago, she was now an Accepted, it seemed. That left his older sister, dying mother, and little brother. It seemed to his sister, Lena, that after Peaten had left, the burden left for Justen had made him mad. When Peaten saw to his brother, he was lying on his stomach in a cage, eyes yellow.

"I have read about this." In the Tower of the Black Dawn. "How long has he been like this?"

"A year now. Is he mad?" His sister had tears in her eyes.

"Not mad. He says he can talk to animals? Wolves?"

"Wolves. How did you...? It wasn't always like this. Justen is still in there somewhere. He will talk like a man once in a while. It becomes more rare as time goes on. We were hoping Serina would be able to help once she is Aes Sedai,"

Peaten sneered. "He is beyond Healing. Go inside. I am going to let him out. He will be happier that way." He kneeled down and took the lock in his hands. Justen growled and shrank back, as if he could smell what his brother had become. "He might attack you. Go!" And she left, crying. With the butt of his sword, Peaten broke the chain. When the door opened, Justen pounced, teeth bared at Peaten's throat. Peaten was too fast though. Instead it was he who had Justen's throat in his massive hand. He dragged his still-struggling brother off into the woods. They stopped in a small clearing. When Justen was small, Peaten had taught him how to set traps here. Justen had always followed Peaten as an idol.

He looked down at Justen who had stopped struggling. His yellow eyes now showed recognition. "Peaten? How?" He stood and embraced his brother and begun sobbing. "I've been having horrible dreams. They won't get out of my head."

"I know little brother. I came to stop them." In an instant, Peaten grabbed Justen by his shaggy hair and spun him around. "They will haunt you know more." He pulled the dagger out of his belt and cut his younger brother's throat. Blood gushed out, away from Peaten. Wiping his dagger clean on Justen's shirt, the threw the corpse to the ground...

... Peaten hated wolves. That was the first time he had ever killed a man. His only regret that it was his own brother was that he was going to take him to the Tower to train. Those filthy mongrels had gotten to him first. For that, and for other reasons, he had begun hunting them in the World of Dreams.

Edited by The Don, 12 August 2011 - 04:08 PM.

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#13 Kathleen

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 05:36 AM

Alia spent that week focused on finding as much information as she could to take back to the man. She had hoped that one of the letters she received back would outright say where the item was, who guarded it, which wards were used where and all the information needed to have him walk in and walk out with out. She wasn't sure if the would even need all of that information, perhaps he could shift through the shadows into the room, take the item and leave, but since she didn't know how his powers worked Alia wanted every detail just to be sure he would get in, get it and get out of her Tower quickly. The longer he stayed the more chance he had be caught and she wasn't sure that he wouldn't expose her if it made his escape even just a little bit easier.

She sat at her desk in room reading over her replies that she had gathered. They were all returned, but much to her dismay there was little information; certainly no one message with all the information. She would have settled for a series of replies that had the full answer spread among them, but that was not to be had either. She spent hours decoding each message, sorting information into groups and taking notes from each one. She then took her notes and organised them, weeding out the unnecessary information and sifting for any leads. When she was done she had a number of leads written down, from the strongest chances to the weakest. She left the notes for a night and spent the next day thinking of the best way to approach following the leads. The man would be returning soon for her answers and she wanted a solid plan for him when he did return.

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#14 The Don

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 02:43 PM

Matrim had spent the next few weeks waiting patiently. Peaten had dropped in on Alia a couple times. Each time her reports had more and more detail. It was only years of discipline that kept Peaten from growing more anxious the closer they got. He spent that time working with Matrim's body. It was infinately more frustrating than he had imagined, having the knowledge and memory of how do do something, but lacking the physical tools to do it. Matrim was in descent physical shape already, but working him even similarly to the Shar Mahdi way was harder than when Peaten, who was already in better shape, had started.

Finally, after giving Alia two weeks since his last visit, Peaten once again made his way into her room, hoping that finally this would end. He decided time was running short, and he had other duties in the Blight.
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#15 Kathleen

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 09:04 AM

For weeks Alia carefully searched the Tower for the old weapon. Lead after lead took her closer and closer but she hadn't quite figured it out. She spent hours piecing together the bits of information she gathered until finally she had it! She had located the item, had all but seen it sitting there with her own two eyes. The only place it could be, given what it was, where it had come from, who had brought it and when it had been received. She wasn't sure at first if it had even made it to the Tower, and if it was still there. But after waiting for weeks she finally not only had a solid hunch on where it could be, but she had a report stating the item had been seen for certain in an exact location.

She swelled with pride as Paeten returned. Knowing she could point him to the exact location made her feel like her work these weeks was successful. She didn't brag or beam, of course, that would imply that she had doubted her ability to do the job, and even if she did, no one would ever need to know that.

"Welcome back," Alia said kindly as the man took his usual seat. Alia set out some tea to sip on while they discussed things as she always did when he came. He didn't always drink it, but found it a useful excuse to hold off on answering something until she thought up the best phrasing. After a little bit of pleasantries the two got down to business.

"I have, what will hopefully be, some good news for you tonight. I apologize for the wait, but I believe I have found the location your weapon is stored. Now, it was there as of two nights ago, so I can only hope it remains. I don't see why anyone would be moving it now though, so it should still be." Alia took a piece of paper off her desk and laid it out for the man to see. It was a rough outline of the rooms in the Tower. "Your weapon should be in this room," she said pointing to the makeshift map. Alia went on to tell him which wards would be in place and told him if he needed, she could arrange to have guards on duty who would work with him, but she would need to know the date and time that he would be coming.

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#16 The Don

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 06:08 PM

Peaten allowed himself a smile. He even drank down the tea in one big gulp. He could allow himself as much pleasure for this occasion. "Excellent news, Aes Sedai." He stood, looking at the map. "Guards will not be necesary." He looked into Alia's eyes and grinned again, this time it was the grin of a dark bloodust. "In fact, I would advise any guards, servants, or Aes Sedai you have any need for to stay away from the area. You have made my search much easier. If you have contact with any Dreamer, or have access to a ter'angreal, you can find me in the Dream World in the Blight. I am often out hunting here in the southlands, but usually I go back to either the area of Malkier; the Tower of the Black Dawn, a few hundred leagues north of Kandor; or the area around Shayol Ghul. If not, as a woman of such high influence as you are, you can have a Myrddraal send word to Shayol Ghul itself. My service is not cheap, but you will have one freebie. My thanks again, Aes Sedai."...

...and Peaten steppind into the World of Dreams. He would give her a few minutes to make the arrangements to get her people out of the area. The waiting would be torture, but it would also make it that much sweeter in the end. Idly, he thought about anyone one the Master List that might be taken out while he was here. He had thought about it before, but no one of any real concern was here in the Tower at the moment. Even the Amyrlin was to live, as ordered by the Nae'blis... for now. His thought was only on the Dragon Reborn and those other two country boys he had at his side. So far, even Peaten had been unsuccesful at adding those three to the number of men who had fallen before him. He would have to settle for the smaller pleasure of reuniting with his precious weapon.

After enough time had passed, he made his way through the hallways of the White Tower inside Te'aran'rhoid. Finally he found the door of the guardroom, deep in the underbelly of the Tower. It was a section of the Tower he had never been to before...

...and stepped out into it and found out why. The dim light was too dark for even Peaten to see. He felt around for a torch, then lit it with the flint he was carrying. The room had all sorts of objects of the Shadow. On his left was the skeleton of a Trolloc with a ram's features. Next to it was a glass container, which probably contained its dark blood. Why blood? Peaten had studied the work of Aginor, but could not understand most of it. To his right was an assortment of Trolloc and Myrddraal weapons and armor. Among those items, Peaten found what he was looking for. His ashanderei stood leaned against the back corner, black blade seeming to eat up the little light the torch gave off. He walked towards it and grabbed it in his right hand. He could feel the darkness oozing off of it. It made him want to do only one thing... kill. With it, he was now a man with three souls, all of them as black as the darkest night. It was an object of power, though not the One Power... the True Power maybe, no one but the Great Lord himself knew how the ink black waters around Shayol Ghul were formed.

He looked around. As pitiful as this collection of dark artifacts was, any knowledge could be used against his cause. He packed away any manuscripts he could find without reading them, he could sort through them later. He took the Myrddraal's sword and some of the armor. Most of it would not fit him properly, but what did would offer excellent protection. The rest was shattered or set alight. He was sure there were other rooms with similar artifacts, but he didn't have the time now to search. Even if he did, his blade was singing death to him, and he could not waste the time it would take. He grabbed the black boiled-leather mask that he always wore on his missions and put it over his face. It was a grim facade, showing only his two icy blue eyes.

The door was locked, of course, on the outside, but Peaten, all six feet seven inches and nearly three hundred pounds summoned ayende kicked through it. There was nobody outside, but he walked towards where the main doors to the hallway were. He kicked the double doors, hoping to break these too, but they were too strong. He heard leather scrape outside. He took the torch and lit the ancient wood on fire, hoping to weaken it. When it had caught, Peaten threw down the torch and began kicking again. Each time, the door gave a little more. Finally, with both doors completely on fire, he kicked through. The lone guard took a step back as Peaten stepped through the flames towards him, black blade poised to strike.

"Stop you! In the name of the White Tower and the Amyrlin Seat!"

"Call for help, Madock."

"How... do you know my name?"

"Call for help, I say."

The man screamed as the blade came down across his chest, from left shoulder to right hip, just shallow enough not to kill him instantly. The screams of the wounded man echoed through the hall. It was only seconds before the man died from the poison of the Thakan'dar blade entering his bloodstream and into his heart. Peaten casually walked down the hall where help would be coming from. It wasn't what he expected though. Two servants, a man and a woman came running down the hallway. They didn't see Peaten at first, dressed in all black, but when they did, it was too late. One backhanded sweep took them both across the throat, nearly beheading them. Suddenly an unnatural light appeared in the hallway not too far from him. Aes Sedai. Reluctantly, he fought the urge to kill her as well. The night's events would be neatly covered up by the Tower, as always, but a dead Aes Sedai would cause too much commotion. The hunt for the Black Ajah would strengthen, and he might expose his new ally...

...and he was once again in the World of Dreams. Finally, he felt whole. He could not help but feel the urge to kill again. Dropping his new items off in his rooms in Tar Machin Rahien could wait. He went off to find his favorite prey, wolves. He heard a name they used for him once. At least, a rough translation of it. Slayer. That was the perfect name for Peaten al'Kar, the man with three souls. He was Slayer.
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