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Dark Arrival.

Posted by brendanexodus on 2006.09.08 at 12:21
    The sun crept painfully over the horizon, the first of its rays barely cutting through the clouds rolling through the sky. Salidar slowly awoke, the myriad fauna beginning the daily struggle for survival that rarely registered on the minds of men. The encampment of exiles was already stirring, but as the sun broke over the horizon full-force, the remainder came out of their tents and abodes; Salidar was buzzing with activity within moments.
    At the eastern entrance, the sentries were changing shifts. Watching them from a small hilltop was a dark newcomer, sitting atop a black steed, filled with the One Power. Brendan's vision was sharp, but with saidin it was nearly unbearably so. The whirling madness of energy that was the male half of the Power screamed through his very soul; Brendan could feel, too, the promise of the Taint in that whirlwind, held back only by the Dark Lord's favor. It whispered to him, called to him, promised him madness were he ever banished from the Dark Lord's heart. The young Darkfriend quite nearly called back to the Taint, let it wash over him and carry him away on a torrent of shrieking terror; after the moment of hesitation, he dropped saidin and began riding forward, hailing the new shift of sentries in friendly manner.
    It was a simple task to gain entry to the camp; after all, there were people flooding in from all directions, not simply from the Tower: Aes Sedai who had been on assignment elsewhere, soldiers who sympathized with the "rebels," and the typical rabble that wormed its way into situations like Salidar's. Brigands, merchants, swindlers, prostitutes, religious fanatics, cutpurses. . . . Brendan tried his best not to sneer at those who were literally at his feet as he rode through the camp looking for the barracks.
    "So you want to train to become Gaidin, do you?" the grizzled old man before Brendan asked. It was pitiful to Brendan that someone so old and out of shape would try and put fear into him. "I suppose a bit more fodder couldn't hurt. What's your name, brat?"
    "Brendan Exodus, sir." Brendan tried to keep from spitting in the man's eye.
    "So what are ya, some illegitimate bastard of an old war hero? Where'd you get that fancy sword, son?" The old man's breath was quite offensive, so when he leaned to the side to peer at Brendan's sword, the Darkfriend nearly sighed in relief. The Heron on the Breaker had been hidden with masterful little tricks of the Power, but its scabbard still gleamed in the early morning sunlight.
    "This sword was -- " Brendan began.
    "I don't give a Trolloc's scrotum about your rusty old piece!" The old man, quite clearly pleased with himself in his treatment of this new soldier, shoved a small stack of papers into Brendan's hands. "Bring these to the barracks a hundred yards that way." He hooked a thumb in about three directions, as vague as possible. "That's where all the trainees go. This here barracks is just for regular soldiers like myself." Apparently satisfied with himself, the man tromped away.
    Four hours later, after being sent from one side of the camp to the other at least six times, Brendan began to wonder if his alliance with the Dark Lord had somehow been found out, and the Aes Sedai were trying to get him to kill himself to get around their Oaths. A stack of papers now easily five inches thick in his hands, Brendan sat down and ground his teeth. This assignment was quite swiftly getting to be more than it was worth.
    "I just want to train with the damned Gaidin," he growled aloud.

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