Posted 16 February 2012 - 10:37 PM
I stumbled upon the cage matches in a googling session and found out I'd joined this site already. I'm another of those who think's Lan is pretty damn awesome but he stood no chance against Fain. Just to throw in my 2c on the Mat vs Galad and Gawain bit. He won while they were still training (Galad was already pretty superior in the sword skills department.) But no one has mentioned how frail he was at the time, recovering from his link with the dagger.
Anyway, the real reason I came to post: Lan vs Fain.
What follows is my interpretation of how it would have gone down. (I skewed the odds in Lan's favour a bit and tried to let my respect for him flow through in my writing.) I'm not any kind of professional writer so if your criticism is on my grammar, please be gentle.
The creature that sometimes remembered being Padan Fain muttered to itself, “Can dead Shadowspawn know fear?”
He harboured an intimate knowledge of fear in others; surely the creatures that served him couldn’t feel such a thing. Yet, there it was in the corner of his mind reserved for communicating with his minions. Fear. Sweet, putrid fear.
A quizzical look adorned the creature’s features as Fain ended his latest sport with a thrust of the jewelled dagger that was as much a part of him as his own nose. The gurgling and clicking of the man’s last breath through a severed windpipe would never be as satisfying as dying scream, lasting unbroken hours that only he, Mordeth, knew how to coax from a victim. Unfortunately, anything that could cause him to feel this sensation through his lifeless thralls demanded a personal hand in the matter.
aL’Lan Mandragoran danced through the Trollocs’ corpses that walked and fought once more. Surely, The Last Battle must be nearly done for such horrors to exist. They were corpses again in truth once he and his blade passed.
Fight him well Sheepherder, Thought the indomitable Warder.
Aloud he cried, “Tai’shar Manetheren!”
None who had entered the battle with him remained close enough to hear. Lan hoped that some at least were still drawing breath. The men and boys whom he had led into a war unlike any known for countless generations. Light, let some still live.
From the corner of his eye he spied a reflection on his blade, a Myrdraal somehow paler than usual, though it’s garb was as black, it’s face as eyeless as ever. Long ago had he mastered his fears, he felt them again in the look of this Fade however, a picture of Nynaeve lying bloodied and broken skittering outside the Oneness. Hubris took him. Boar Rushes Down the Mountain broke it’s defence before Eagle Rides the Warm Wind took it apart, knees, waist and neck. Five pieces of Myrdraal hit the ground. Dead. Again. They stayed dead if you killed them again, died faster than the Eyeless usually did too.
“Well, well, if it isn’t the Warder from that night in Emond’s Field.” Announced Fain stifling a giggle. He licked up a drop of blood that dangled from his blade.
Lan’s eyebrows contracted slightly, not just at the sight of the former peddler, the Shadowspawn were all stilled mid-motion, as if they were statues. The honed instincts that separate a true warrior from a mere fighter told him to be cautious, he said nothing. The hard planes of his face said nothing. His stony gaze proclaimed him ready to meet death, as he always was. If the Gaidin was aware how close some of those motionless Trollocs were to landing the final blow while he was consumed by his ire, he let not the knowledge show. The open irritation on Padan Fain’s face dictated his course of action.
Cloaking himself in the form known as Emptiness aL’Lan Mandragoran, Lord of the Seven Towers, uncrowned king of Malkier strode purposefully towards the once peddler, his senses a razor’s edge.
Mordeth sent his Trollocs into motion as one. They fell to the Warder’s blade and he didn’t even break his stride. Fain cackled gleefully at this and went forth to meet Lan.
Shadowspawn became statues once more from the moment the Warder’s blade was turned with the peddler’s dagger and a dextrous wrist movement from the latter. Fain swayed, dodged and melted with a stuttering, inhuman grace out of the way from Lan’s sure and deadly cuts and thrusts. In turn Lan stepped, circled and parried Fain’s mad movements. Their battle was by no means as beautiful as a meeting of blademasters, but just as fatal and just as impossible to turn away from.
Mordeth snickered, “The memories of Machin Shin have gifted me with knowledge of the true blademasters. They make this Warder seem a babe in swaddling.” After suffering several nicks in an impossibly short succession Fain amended that thought. “Maybe not a babe, but a half-trained youth at best.” Still, he sensed something more was needed to win this contest.
A mist began to gather, thickened into a fog and thickened still. Lan recognised Mashadar even before the telltale tendrils began to seek him out. What he did not know was how it was outside Shadar Logoth which is no more.
A low feint caused Fain to leap, the Warder mimicked him, at least insofar as to jump. His heavy boots both planted into Padan Fain’s face, blood exploded and several teeth scattered as the Warder landed with a backwards roll. Mindless Mashadar drew closer. Lan hacked a leg out from under one of the frozen Trollocs which fell into the clutches of the evil fog.
Fain still rolled groggily upon the earth as Lan continued with his stalling tactic, but Mashadar moved in such a way that he couldn’t approach the prone peddler… Unless!
Using a downed Trolloc as a stepping stone, the mighty Warder initiated an even mightier leap. He somersaulted at the peak so as to avoid the grasping tendrils of fog, he spotted several patches where Mashadar seemed to coalesce even denser, but had no time to consider this once he’d landed. Fain was gone! A mad laughter bubbled, seemingly from within Mashadar itself.
Man-shapes made of Mashadar detached themselves from the solid wall of fog that now surrounded Lan. Briefly, he lost the Oneness. Lan thought of his love for Nynaeve; used emotion to steel his unconquerable resolve even further.
aL’Lan Mandragoran, Lord of the Seven Towers, uncrowned king of Malkier, unmatched in battle prowess even by the Aiel, now faced an enemy steel could not vanquish, a power that could steal his very soul. He said nothing. The lines and angles of his hard face said nothing. His greying hair was testament to his power, a lesser man would not have such and retain the power and quickness of youth. A lesser man could neither have understood how he continued, unfazed against insurmountable odds.
Padan Fain, watching from within the safety of Mashadar could not understand how the Warder maintained such a guise when faced with the certainty of such an unspeakable end. He felt fear stir deep within his very being and they were not such close friends when the dread was his own.
Lan’s first stroke -a vicious downward slash that should have torn his foe in two- did nothing. When combined with the might of a power wrought blade it would have rent a boulder. The fog-man of Mashadar reached out with it’s arm and touched him. For the first, and the last time in his life Lan screamed in pain and in terror. Fain felt the reverberations of a similar scream from half a world away and instinctively knew his blow to Al’Thor this day was twofold.
Nynaeve sat hard on the flagstones, ceasing her verbal flow mid-tirade. The dark eyed Sister of the Yellow Ajah, almost as unbreakable as her Warder husband gibbered and moaned, broken and useless. Her friend, Elayne the golden haired queen of Andor, upon seeing this began to weep as a little girl might if she discovered the monster under her bed was real…