There was a quiet chuckle.
Mehrin pivoted on his heel, his flamberge appearing in his hand faster than the eye could follow, Mehrin found himself face-to-face with... "Ayrik," Mehrin muttered.
The man across from Mehrin was as tall as he was, though he seemed taller due to his more slender figure. His garb was strange, though. He wore clothes as dark as the night, and he wore a cloak that seemed to be made of smoke, occasionally broken up by lines of red or blue. Mehrin could see strange and disturbing shapes rise through it at times. Mehrin's eyes drifted past the other man's body and to his face. The signs were all there; there was no denying it. The other man was more pale than Mehrin was, his skin finer and untouched by age or worry, but the face was still Mehrin's own. With a wordless howl, Mehrin threw himself at the man, his own brother.
Ayrik simply said, "No, I think not."
Abruptly, Mehrin found himself trapped in space, the flamberge vanishing from his hands as if it had never existed. Without feeling any sort of motion, he found himself sitting in one of the tall chairs, a bottle of what smelled like apple brandy on the small table next to him. Definitely a dream, then.
The other man sat across from him, his eyes touched with amusement. “You are such a violent man, brother. What did I ever do to you to deserve such harsh treatment? Well, other than that unfortunate business with your daughter, your parents, the lovely Drea's parents, and even Drea herself, that is.”
“Liar. You have done nothing to Drea. Even I can't find her.”
Ayrik smiled. As if conjured from thought, a goblet appeared in his hand, brimming with what appeared to be wine. “You have me there, brother, but I will find her. After all, I found you again, did I not?”
Mehrin scowled. “What do you mean 'found you'? This is a dream.”
“Of course it is. So there's no harm in talking to your subconscious, is there? Although...” The dream figure of Ayrik smiled a cruel smile, as if savoring something that Mehrin would find painful. He was not disappointed. “Your friend, Jehryn? He's dead.”
That took Mehrin off-guard. “No, he isn't. I saw him when I was leaving Tanchico. Didn't have a chance to say goodbye. He was hiding in one of the alleys near the palace.”
“Yes,” Ayrik said, a look of glee on his face. “He died that very night. Some sort of poison. He brought friends with him, though: a squad of Seanchan soldiers. You would have been so proud.”
It was always a pleasure, watching another person go through the range of emotions, and Ayrik was enjoying every moment. First will come shock, then anger, then denial. Finally, there will come- “You bastard!” Mehrin shouted, again rising to his feet. It took some effort, but Ayrik forced him back into the chair; he could have used saidin, but he felt that exercising his abilities in Tel'aran'rhiod were more critical than channeling.
With a cold smile, Ayrik replied, “Why do you blame me? I was not there. Truth be told, I only arrived in Tanchico after I heard that you had been there. After that... business in Fal Dara, I lost you for quite a while.” His smile became mocking. “Besides, is it not supposed to be a joyous occasion when long-lost brothers reunite?”
Ayrik could see the muscles in his brother's body tensing, preparing for another attack. He could then see the other man's mind slowly overcoming his urge for violence, as if he had come to the obvious conclusion: that he was powerless to do anything. However, even Ayrik's ability to completely dominate Mehrin's physical form was not enough to stop an unconscious wave of fear when he leaned forward and growled, “One day, you and I will meet again...”
Fear turned to amusement. The stupid brute still believed that this was all a dream. Ayrik took pleasure in that. It had taken quite a bit of work to create something that would pass his brother's shocking powers of perception. This was made even more difficult by the fact that this meeting had to take place in Tel'aran'rhiod instead of Mehrin's dreams. The man held such strong hate that, if Ayrik even thought about Mehrin's dreams in that strange void of dreams, his dreams would draw Ayrik in. Ayrik learned that lesson the hard way, having spent an entire night being beaten, cut, whipped, and generally being made to suffer. Time after time in his dreams, Mehrin killed him, and the memory of being trapped and helpless in the onslaught still caused Ayrik to have nightmares.
“Threaten away, cretin. This is a dream. Pummeling your subconscious is unproductive, at best,” Ayrik said with a sneer. “Tell me, though. I am curious to know just how far you would go to stop me. What is Mehrin Deathwatch, former Commander of the Band, a man known for his honor, willing to do in order to save his daughter?”
A strange look crossed Mehrin's face. Ayrik immediately thought about his last statement, trying to ascertain what he had said to cause such a reaction. “This is wrong,” Mehrin growled. “What 'honor' are you talking about? Ask any man I have ever dueled. I have no honor.”
“Morals, then,” Ayrik said, trying to pull Mehrin away from thinking about the world around him. If he figures out that this is no ordinary dream, I do not know what he will do. Ayrik had long ago assumed that, due to his brother's nature, a certain amount of predictability could be assigned to his actions. However, the Dream World could possibly be manipulated by Mehrin's emotions. Ayrik did not wish to see what his brother's rage could do here. “To what depths would you go if you knew that there was a chance of finding your daughter?”
Mehrin tested his muscles against his intangible bindings. Still in place. Damn. The question, though, drew Mehrin's concentration back to the conversation. Mehrin Mahrvon, a man who clung to a set of convictions. How tightly, though? There was a time when Mehrin would never have struck a woman except in training or in defense of his life. However, he remembered striking the Daughter of the Nine Moons, a calculating blow that had left her unconscious and defenseless. With a single swing of his fist, Mehrin secured the escape of the Band, but at the cost of some of his integrity and a complete severing from the Band of the Red Hand.
How much further would he go to find his daughter?
A quiet voice spoke at the back of Mehrin's mind. You know the answer. You know that you would destroy the world to see her safe. You would unleash your wrath, would allow Mehrin Deathwatch, the scourge of the battlefield, to be free. You would-
Enough! Mehrin thought, shaking his head. His voice began to quake, filling with the wrath that was the engine for his destructive tendencies: “I am not playing your games anymore, Ayrik. I am going to wake up, and this will fade away to a... bad... dream?” The world was twisting, shifting as if something was acting on it. There was a look on Ayrik's face, like he was straining against something. “This... this isn't-”
“Enough!” his bastard of a brother shouted.
There was a moment where Mehrin felt that he was falling, then nothing but vague dreams of violence and fear.
Panting, Ayrik leaned back in his large chair. Manifesting another glass of wine, he took a long drink, trying to steady his nerves. Tel'aran'rhiod reacted to emotion, and Ayrik's skill within the dream was not great enough to overcome such a force of rage and hate as his brother.
A thought struck Ayrik, and he laughed, the tension leaving his body as he did so. Rage. Rage was what drove his brother on, what enabled him to accomplish the outlandish and impossible things for which he was credited.
Rage was a tool that Ayrik could use to break the man.
The room around Ayrik echoed with his laughter, a cold and malevolent sound. The part of Ayrik's soul that reveled in the dramatic listened, delighted. He was going to do the impossible: Ayrik would break Mehrin Deathwatch.
Edited by Quibby, 30 August 2012 - 01:54 AM.