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Respite & Resolve
#11
Arikan was normally amused by the stubborness of Aes Sedai. There was a certain level of practical enjoyment in goading their Black Ajah sisters. Dangling their competitive levels of dominion over each other always riled them to a perfect level of annoyance. The same affair fell flat with these two. Maybe it was their allegiance to the Light. Maybe Talin perceived his threats to be empty. He should kill them all. It would be as easy as a blink of the eye. His gaze slid across each of them. The Aes Sedai first. They would be the greater nuisance. Talin was a Yellow, and unlikely to put up a fight other than try to heal him to death. There were Yellows turned to the Black that harbored fascinating skills to torture, maim and murder. They were nothing compared to the Lady of Pain, of course, but unless Talin had foreswore her oaths in exchange for darker ones, she was ignorant of the nuances of painful dealings. 

He could imagine her body limp on the ground, eyes empty and face bruised to pulp. Her sister was of an unknown Ajah, but if she was akin to Talin, she was likely to also be of the Yellow, but Arikan did not live so long by making assumptions. It was best to leave her undetermined for now. She was a pretty thing. Far more so than Talin, whose skinny face and whining voice irritated Arikan to no end. It would a waste, but beauty surrounded in the shell of an enemy was no better. Slicing her throat would do it, and shut her up in the process. After that, the warders would need to be handled. They could be strung up with air until he was ready to deal with each. A more sadistic Dreadlord would draw and quarter them, but Arikan always had better things to do and there would be no survivors to teach a lesson. Leaving impressions behind for the living to spread the tale was the only reason to explain such depravity. Well, usually. Once in a while he truly enjoyed the slow kill, but those events were personal. These four, despite all their spurning, had not taken things so personal as that.

He wanted to kill them all. A regular death would do. Swiftly and get it over without so much as dirtying his cape.

Yet he knew in his heart that he needed Talin. He needed this deal to get to Elsae and then the rest of them. After that, he could kill them. He could find other resources. Ones that didn’t know his plan. Especially the girl warder. His gaze slid to her narrow face. Of the four, she was the most annoying. Yes, that would work. Get Elsae then betray the rest. It was a good idea. He couldn’t let them walk away.

Except, suddenly, a sort of wall built up around his chest. It tightened the more he imagined their lifeless bodies strewn about the room. He did want to kill them all? They hadn’t outright betrayed him. Talin even kept her word, so much as she explained. There was no obvious reason to kill them other than their disrespect. Had they truly disrespected him? They kept their distance. They did not bow and scrape and drool all over themselves, but they each displayed a satisfying sense of fear. He should want to kill them all. He should just do it.

He found that he gripped the edge of the chair so tight, the wood was creaking beneath his palm. The threats from Talin’s companion would normally amuse him. Normally, Arikan would rise to the occasion and ask her to give it her best try.

Instead, his lack of action to kill them all frightened him. His gaze flicked back to Talin like this was all her doing. He didn’t truly believe she had inflicted some Compulsion upon him. But when he moved, it was with grace of a flash of lightning, even if he wasn’t as physically powerful as he once was, he was still the blademaster. He channeled as he moved, holding the warders away before they did something stupid and he actually killed them all on instinct.

He grabbed her wrist and yanked her to her feet. The power fluttered winds as he channeled almost as if he wasn’t able to control it, but the thing that lashed out wasn’t saidin, it was his emotions. His gaze was hot, rimmed with anger and misunderstanding.
“What is wrong with me, Talin. Why don’t I —“ his voice trailed away with the demand, shaking her arm as if it might dislodge the truth he didn’t want to face.

“Oh calm down,” he said to the others and shoved her aside. The power didn’t release them, but he wanted each to acknowledge he didn’t actually harm Talin before releasing anyone.

Talin was fine when he let her go. Instead of leaving bodies in his wake, Arikan departed to the window to peer into the world beyond. The power slowly released the hounds, but he trusted the Yellow to hold back their bite as he kept his back turned to them.

He pushed his emotions aside and tried to remember some of what Talin’s companion said about Elsae. She mentioned a disappearance and impersonation. It made no sense. Elsae was Aes Sedai when he saw her in the dream that was not a dream. He looked over his shoulder, anger seemingly dispelled by confusion.
“She’s not Aes Sedai?” his gaze slid from Talin’s companion to Talin herself who confirmed the conclusion with a bare nod.

Some of Talin’s machinations made more sense, then, but Arikan would puzzle over the meaning of what he saw. He turned his attentions back to the other Sister.
“What do they call you?” he asked, tired of thinking of her as Talin’s companion. “You’ll bring her by sundown. This day. I am tired of waiting.”

“And Talin, while your friend is on her errand. You and I have a few things to discuss regarding this new condition of mine,” he snapped at Talin and resumed his peerage upon the view, outburst contained once more.
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