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Dealing with Bankers
It had snowed in the night. Even this early the main paths were clear, of course, but it clung to the architecture like the whole city had been dipped in ice. Early morning traffic threaded the same routes as she, and passers-by were polite to an Accepted of the Tower. Nythadri saw it all, but she paid little attention. She’d run through her schedule during a fleeting breakfast, calculated how much time she could feasibly spend in the city before she had to return to the Tower, and was dismayed. Not enough, was the answer, but it would have to do – because there was so much to see to.

She’d slept well, but only for the short time she had slept; not that any trace of fatigue dusted her countenance. Her skin was at its porcelain element in the soft blanket of winter, her eyes sharp and focused. Her hair was braided back neatly away from her face, the rest pooling glossy black waves in her hood, and her dress and cloak fell in simple clean lines, as unbroken and smooth as the snows. She was immaculate; purposefully so. It armoured her for what was to come.

The morning passed in a flurry of paperwork, inked signatures and formality. She impatiently refused refreshment, and sat stiff and regal on the edge of her chair. Her eyes bore holes as she watched the clerk scratch out the details on headed paper, but her thoughts were elsewhere. Her chest was tight, conflicted. Each thump was loud in her chest, surging hot blood through her veins. A call to arms; she felt it keenly. Because she knew she could let the bank sort the transfer of coin; they had her signature and would not wish her to be bothered by details and tasks they could perform on her behalf. If Jai wanted her removed from the situation, it was the most compliant action she could take to see his wishes met. To disappear without even crossing the Kojima’s door.

But for the defiant thrum of her pulse, she would have agreed to it without a second thought. The money was inconsequential; she did not care where it was housed, and regretted that it had caused so much bloody complication. The problem was one of impotence. The problem was one of pride. The problem was one of loyalty. He crossed the Tower, Jai. She wondered if it had dawned on him yet; the consequences of what he had told her and the predicament it held for her.

Soon it was done; another account opened, in a smaller establishment this time, though a holding account only. She was careful to explain that her father would be travelling to Tar Valon soon, whereupon he would arrange for the coin’s return to Andor. She neglected to mention that the letter explaining this to her father was still sitting in an envelope in the satchel perched neatly at her feet. For the inconvenience she offered generous recompense. They did not ask questions, and they offered to take care of the transfer for her.

After a beat, she refused.

When she reached the Kojima’s bank her chest was still burning with the vicious instinct that urged her to confront Zakar directly. Only she was not so sure, that in doing so, if she would be listening to the impulse that made her so adept at the Great Game, or something more primal, more reckless. What if Zakar refused her request? Could he refuse her? The sensible thing would be to proceed as quietly as possible; she did not need Zakar’s approval to withdraw the account, thus could do so without him knowing until too late. Light, she did not even need to be here in person; notaries had seen to the paperwork, had assured her the transfer would be seamless. She could still go back, let them deal with it. Her account would withdraw like a ghost, buried amongst the stacks of the bank’s other daily business. Only Zakar might note her name on the reports that passed his desk, but she would just be another of his brother’s whores; one who had apparently gotten what she wanted, or not, and had moved on. With any luck he would remove her name from his list in the same breath, and it would be over. Exactly as it should be.

But it didn’t sit easily.

Nythadri struggled with the powerlessness, with the injustice. She thought of a mother’s worry and an unfinished portrait, with no one to know the sacrifice Jai had made but her. A sacrifice he might not have had to make but for the fact she had taken the money to the Kojimas in the first place. She thought of a man who loved his family enough to be that sacrifice, to be it willingly for no other gain but peace – and even that a peace to be lived through others. She thought of the demons that chased his heels, the storms that darkened his face, the humanity he feared lost. And those thoughts pulled her across the threshold.

She knew exactly why she had come here; knew too that the flames she played with now might do more than simply scald her.

But Zakar would not walk away unscathed.

Her expression was free of the emotions that compelled her as she was greeted at the door; it was plainly neutral, without customary ice or unusual warmth – nor much of anything one would not expect upon the face of any Accepted of the White Tower. A different mask from the usual. Unremarkable. Pale eyes scanned the foyer but didn’t linger beyond a casually interested glance. The fire in her dimmed, temporarily satiated; if she was making a mistake, at least it was an intentional one. A necessary one. This was to be the simple part, anyway, getting the account withdrawn and transferred. Her gaze clapped back on the man who had greeted her; he asked what she required, if she had an appointment - she did not - and directed her to a seat where she might wait. Nythadri did as bid.

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