[Okay this is one monster slice of Percy, it is actually epsisodes 3, 4, and 5, but what can I say? I felt generous. - Oh yeah, and Egwene2, this is for you. *w*]
From Percy II: "There were gasps and snickers from the crowd, but stony silence from the warders who looked at each other, and back to Percy. Eventually, ugly-warder strode forward, and said "100 gold against a kiss? That you can best every warder here?" Percy nodded. "All of us?" Nod. "Hah! You, my insane pink pretty, have still got a deal!"
Percy giggled, and clapped excitedly."
The first three warders that came forward to challenge to Percy each made the same mistake. Because their opponent was so camp, and garbed in an eye-wrenching skin-tight pink outfit, they couldn't bring themselves to muster the respect for him that the Gaidin usually afforded all their opponents. Realisation of their mistake in under-estimating Percy hit them between the eyes, about the same time Percy did ...
In her modest room in the brown Ajah section of the White Tower, Gladys Sedia was picking her way through the family historys of Lord Cecil, of Safer. It would befit her well, she thought, to learn as much about his noble lineage as possible, so she might amaze and delight him next time their paths crossed. A month before, she and Percy had stayed as guests at his estate. In that short time, Lord Cecil had captured her heart.
Unfortunately for her, he had also captured her warders heart too.
Gladys Sedai sighed deeply, and shut the book in frustration. Bonding Percy had seemed such a good idea at the time. Prior to him, she had never even considered having a warder. Being brown Ajah, when Gladys travelled out in the world, it was usually only to visit the personal library of this lord or that lady, to trawl those precious pages for lost nuggets of information and knowledge. She remembered riding through the woodland trail somewhere in Jaramide, a decade before, her head in a book distractedly, letting her trusted mare pick her way over the path while she read. Where the men had sprung from she had no idea, or why they had dared to attack her. She hadn't panicked at first. They had been but seven, and she was an Aes Sedai of some fifty years. Reaching for the source, she prepared to set their breaches on fire, and spank them with clubs of air hard enough that they would remember the lesson for a long time. When she felt the shield, like a wall of indomitable nothingness between her and Saidar, then she had panicked. One of the men had smiled evilly at her.
"Problem darlin?" He had laughed, and the others had joined him, but she could see the way they looked at him, fear in their eyes. He was the leader, but a male channeller. His eyes had a glazed, dead look, and they trembled slightly in their sockets, madness burning in the depths of his pupils like hellfire. Her heart felt like it would burst from her chest, and she could feel the blood drain from her face as she sat there, paralysed with fear. It was the first time in her life she had known fear. She had wondered if they were perhaps after her body. Looking down at her body, she conceded it was more likely the horse and the saddle bags stuffed with gold coin and rare books.....
A knock at the door startled Galdys from her memories, bringing her back to the present. At the door was an Accepted, who couldn't keep her hands still as she fluttered in the presence of the Aes Sedai.
"Gladys Sedai, come quick!" she squeaked.
"It's... he's... your warder... he's fighting! Please Gladys Sedai, quickly!"
Galdys sighed deeply. She remembered endless days of solitary peace, when she had been free to pursue her dreams. Now life seemed to comprise of rude songs, excited chatter, innuendo, and fighting, with Percy at the heart of it all. Pulling on her shawl, as well as her sternest expression, she strode from the room and started down the corridor. It was only after about five yards she realised she had no idea where Percy was causing trouble. The bond told her his direction, in a general sort of way, but not the location. She turned, to see the pale Accepted quivering like a saidar powered sex-toy.
"H...H...He's... he's... in the practice yard, Aes Sedai?" piped the poor Accepted. The quick route to the practice yard was in the other direction. Gladys wasn't about to admit that though.
"Yes... well... I know. I want to go this way though. It's quicker." The trouble was, Aes Sedai couldn't lie. She had to make it quicker. Hoisting up her skirts, and sticking two mental fingers up at dignity, she ran down the corridor in an attempt to reach the practice yard quicker than walking the other way. It would be a close thing.
Six more warders lay on the ground, groaning, clutching various parts of their anatomy. They had learnt from the first warders to go up against the pink-garbed stranger not to under-estimate him. But respecting your opponents abilities is one thing, dealing with them another. Percy had one key advantage - There is an area surrounding all males, a few inches of space like a protective nimbus, a personal space. It is an area in which females are always welcome, but is taboo to other males, even close friends. A male friend can get away with a quick hug when drunk, but a sober cuddle in display of long-felt affection is distinctly off limits. The gaidin, as lethal and deadly as they were, nethertheless were mentally unable to invade this personal space around their opponents with their own, in case it might be taken for them being a bit soft. Percy though, had no such restrictions. When you're dressed in pink, and you lisp, machismo is not something you worry about. Percy slid into these restricted area's around his opponents brushing up against them, his pale, sensitive skin sliding over theirs with deadly grace like a giant pink serpent. That little extra space that Percy could use, made him unstoppable. Percy proved once and for all, that an extra few inches are important for a man ...
Gladys arrived in the yard at a dead-run, her eyes taking in the scene with a quick sweep as she stood, hand on knees, panting desperately for air. Behind her, the tiny Accepted leant against a wall gasping frantcially too, wide eyed and trembling. Gladys Sedai looked over her shoulder, and tried to grin at the girl, though the expression she pulled was closer to a grimace.
"Y...y...you see... girl.... that..." pant, pant, gasp, gasp, "was.... m... much quicker... wasn't it!" managed Gladys.
"Y.. Yes... Aes... Aes.. Aes... Sedai..." gasp, rattle, wheeze, "much.... q...quicker, Aes... Aes Sedai."
The girl nodded her head wildly, brushing fine hair from her young sweat-soaked hair. Gladys nodded. It was that last stair-case that they had took with a flying leap that had edged it, she felt. Turning her attention back to the yard, she made out Percy, resplendent in sweat-soaked pink and blonde, wearing an almost maddened smile, and swinging his sword warily as he faced off against the last warder standing. He was a sour-faced, bald-headed barrel of a man, who stalked in a wary circle, his eyes shining with true malice. Galdys wondered if Percy realised the malevolence in that gaze - to this man, this was not sport, it was real. He didn't intend to compete with Percy, he intended to hurt him. With a sigh, Galdys shook her head. Of course Percy didn't realise. Percy didn't see the world in the same way as everyone else. To him, everyone else were just different degrees of fun.
A memory tickled her mind, an un-finished thread of recollection from earlier. She remembered an ambush, on a forest trail in the north years before.... They had pulled her from her horse, laughing, snarling in contempt. Her ears were full of a high-pitched screaming sound, and she remembered the moment it dawned upon her that it was she who was screaming. Then she had gone quiet then, deathly quiet, trying to hide inside herself as the men ripped at her hair and clothes, stinking of sweat and ale and dirt, there rough hands hurting her, bruising her ... She remembered the forest had gone suddenly quiet, when a sudden streak of something... blonde... had raced across her vision, followed by a dull wooden thunk. The men went silent too, and two of them toppled over, bleeding from wounds to their foreheads.
"You thwine!" she had heard, a high-pitched voice of ambiguous gender. "Attacking an Aeth Thedai! You thould be athamed!" The gaunt pale spectre that shot across the narrow trail and poleaxed the mad-eyed channeller seemed to captivate her eyes. The other men had fallen upon him now, four of them pouncing on him at once, going down in a mass of writhing limbs. She thought she heard a giggle. For a moment, she could not form her will from the boiling chaos of fear and confusion that was her mind. Then the moment passed, and the fog was burned away by an inferno of affronted Aes-Sedai rage, as she reached out to Saidar... and found it. Whips of air grasped the brigands, throwing them against trees like dolls. Cudgels of air knocked conciousness from their heads with heavy, bloody blows. It had lasted less than a minute, in all, and the silence was punctauted only with the groans of some of the men. A shield of spirit for the channeller, and flows of air to bind, rendered the brigands helpless. She turned to the thin, blonde man who knelt with his back to her, in the middle of the trail, panting for breath. Beside him, a simple wooden practise sword lay in pieces.
"Are... are you hurt, Sir? Did... did you break anything?" Gladys enquired, stepping a little closer.
"Yeth... I broke... I broke..." the figure held up a long, thin finger. "I broke a nail! Damn thcally-wags." He turned then, and his frown melted into the most hopelessly daft smile she had ever seen. She gasped, not for the smile, but for the youthful features that confronted her. He was hardly more than a boy!
"Well... your nail will grow back... I'm sorry, I don't know your name?"
"Perthival. My friendth call me Perthy!" He looked down at the ground then, the smile fading as his pale face took on the expression of a homeless puppy. "Well, if I had friendth, they would, anyway," he added quietly. "They call me... well, other the thingth... the boyth from the village.... " She knelt beside him, scanning him with gentle flows, looking for hurts, but amazingly, it seemed he spoke truly, except for a cut on one knee. "Well, we should take these men back to your village, where they can then be brought to justice. I would like to speak with your parents! Tell them how brave a young man they have for a son!" His face seemed to close up, for the first time, she saw something that resembled resentment in his eyes.
"My parenth are... my mother died when I wath little. My father...." Percy's eyes clouded over in pain. "My father... he doeth not love me... he thayth I am an embarathment... that I thould have been drowned at birth.... he tellth the other boyth... he givth them namth to call me.... bad namth... hurtful..." Abruptly, the boy stood, and looked at his sword. "Ith broken!" It seemed that his broken sword meant more to him than his father, at that moment. "I been coming out here a lot, where ith quiet, peatheful. I wath practithing, you thee.... thought, if I could get real good, prove I wath a man.... you know... maybe he could like me? My father...."
Gladys reached out a hand, softly clasping the young man's shoulder. He seemed to look at her hand, and then to her, with an expression of such open innocence and curiosity, that she wondered if anyone had ever touched him with anything less than their knuckles. She could have shed a tear for him then, but instead, she channelled, healing the small cut on his knee. Percy's eyes went wide and he put a hand to his mouth as he grinned.
"It's called healing, Percy. It's nothing to worry about."
"Can it mend my nail?"
"Erm... no Percy, I'm afraid you'll have to let it grow naturally."
When the brigands had been dragged to the village by very willing and helpful villagers, overcome with fear at the ramifications an Aes Sedai attacked in their area, Percy's father had made an appearance. Galdys couldn't remember his face, except that Percy, who stood by her side, looking
at the floor, obviously must have had his mothers looks. Alls eh remembered was a well crafted sword at his hip, and a sour smell abiut the grubby little retch. But she remembered his words.
"Ah, Aes Sedai... apologies, apologies... this slack-jawed, worm-bellied piss-poor excuse for a son tends to get in everone's way if he isn't kicked into a dark corner." The man dry-washed his hands, flicking glances of fear at her, and loathing at Percy. "If he has offended you, Aes Sedai, please forgive us. I would put a sack over his head, and drop a rock on it in the night, if it were up to me, but people here remember his mother. Good looking wench, but nothing 'tween her ears except space. I blame her, y'know. Shouldn't speak ill of the dead and all that, but still.. I reckon her breast milk was queer, if y'know what I mean..."
The inferno of rage that had bubbled on slow-cook ever since the attack, came to the boil. A lassoo of air lifted the foul little man from his feet, and a ball of air stuffed into his evil mouth made an effective gag. She let the man hang there, wide eyed, and purple while she stepped very close to him.
"This young man you speak so... fondly of..." she almost spat the words, "saved my life. Armed with nothing more than a stick, he attacked seven armed men, one of them a male channeller ..." At that, fear took on a new definition on the mans face. Brigands were one thing... A male channeller, that was the stuff of nightmares. "Where were you and your villagers then, hmmm?" She stepped away, and raided her voice. "Where were the oh-so-brave macho men of this village when an Aes Sedai is attacked not a mile distant? I'm sure the Amyrlin would be very interested to know of this, very interested." She turned, and grabbed Percy by the shoulders, pushed him forward in front of his father, who still hung in the air. "I find more courage, more wisdom, more.... humanity, in this good young man's little finger than I find in the rest of you lumped together. This young man, has the heart of a warrior!" Somewhere, someone at the back of the crowd that had gathered, snickered. Gladys stared in the direction, the shear force of her gaze sweeping through the crowd like an icy wind. When there was silence, she continued. "Percy, tell me, what are you doing for the immediate future?" she asked loudly, without looking at him.
"Me? Well.... I'm.... that ith.... I gueth.... er.... nothing?"
"Good!" She turned then, met his eyes with hers, and smiled, a genuine smile of affection, trust, and respect. "Percival, would you consent to be my warder? I could use a real man like you, for the path of an Aes Sedai is often a hard one."
"A hard one?" Percy giggled. A moment later, his face became serious. "Gladyth Thedai, I would be honoured! But... I don't have a thword or anything."
Galdys smiled then, and turned to Percy's father, releasing the flows of air holding him. The man fell to his knees as he dropped and Galdys pointed a finger under his nose, and gave him a look that meant she wished him to stay there.
"It is tradition, in the borderlands, is it not, for a father to give his son his first sword, upon reaching manhood?" Percy's father opened and closed his mouth stupidly, like a fish on dry-land. "It is tradition, to hand over the sword, and tell one's son that you are proud of him." Gladys made it sound like a choice. She never ordered him with her words. But he could see her eyes, as he knelt peering up at her. Blinking, once, twice, he swallowed, and turned, still upon his knees, fumbling with the sword belt. Gladys folded her arms, and tapped a foot.
"Erm... boy...." Galdys raised a single eyebrow. "... Son..... " She nodded slightly. "Look, er.... take this, eh? Me sword, I mean? Take it... " he threw the sword on the ground before Percy, who looked down at it, then at his father, then at Galdys, then back to the sword.
"Mine, father? You.... you are giving the thword to me?"
"That's what I said didn't I you stu...." Gladys kneed the man accidentally in the back, in such a way that Percy couldn't see. "Agh! I mean, yes
Percy, take it, please, it's yours!" [prod] "I want you to have it, really." [prod] "I am... am... proud of you." The last was barely a whisper, but Percy heard it, and that was the main thing.
"You are? Really?" Percy clapped his hands together, and jumped up and down on the spot. "Oh father! My own thword! My own thword!" giggle.
That same sword clashed against another, now, singing the song of steel in the practise yard. Gladys came back to the present, with almost a double-take, saw her warder and the sour-faced one dancing back and forth across the yard. Sweat dripped from Percy heavily now, and the pink material had turned to crimson beneath his armpits. His blond-hair stuck to his face and forehead, and he breathed heavily as he weaved impossibly away from a vicious press from his opponent. Percy was
tired, she could see. He was an amazingly gifted warrior, and a warder besides, but not super-human. Fifteen warders already lay sprawled on the ground, and this last one was a grisled, toughened veteran. His plan was clear to Gladys. In the sky, the sun moved to it's nadir, and the drillground became a harsh, dry place. He was waiting for Percy to exhasut himself, pushing him with just enough to keep him moving all the time. And it was working, she could feel through the bond that Percy was approaching the limits of his strength, that he would soon be spent.
"Wassamatter, twinkle toes?" taunted the ugly warder. "Can't handle a real man, eh? Feelin' a little overcome, are ya?" The man laughed then, but cut it short to launch into an attack that Percy only just parried in time. "I hope you got that gold nearby, little girl!" Suddenly , the warder kicked a pile of loose dust up into Percy's face, and as Percy desperately tried to clear his eyes, the warder leapt in, and with a flick of his sword, sent Percy's sword flying from his grasp. A bunched fist took the wind from Percy's stomach, and as the dust settled, Gladys saw Percy gasping for air on his knees, the ugly-warder standing over him with the hilt of his sword raised over Percy's head.
"Say goodnight, little lady," growled the warder, as he lifted the hilt in preperation of the blow that would steal Percy of his senses. Gladys took two steps towards them, a half formed "No!" on her lips. There was the slightest of movements from Percy, obscured by the warder who stood before him. The sword froze in the air, and the warder seemed to have gone rigid, his knees trembling slightly, as he tried to raise himself on tip-toes. Distantly, Gladys could hear an Aes Sedai scream in the tower. For a long moment, there was silence, except for a high-pitched keening sound deep in the sour-faced warder's throat. Then, with a twist of his head, Percy sat back, and the warder toppled to the floor, where he lay holding his groin and weeping as he writhed pathetically in the dust. Percy looked up to Gladys, winked, and licked his lips before smiling his impossible smile.
"Oh Percy..." sighed Gladys, shaking her head. The little Accepted that had followed Gladys was giggling.
A short while later, most of the warders were sitting up, rubbing their heads, legs, arms, or wherever Percy had caught them, all except one warder who lay very still and quiet in the dirt. Percy walked between them, as he went to retrieve his sword, noting the down-hearted look on some of their faces. Bending to retrieve his sword, Percy noticed a young warder, one of the first to fall, nursing a bloodied nose and sullenly trying to avoid looking in Percy's direction. Percy went over to him, squatting down beside him.
"Young man, there's no need to feel down. " Percy winked. The young warder didn't move. "I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground." The young man looked up at him. Percy had moved on to the next. "I said, young man, just coz I knocked you down, there's no need to be unhappy. "
Distantly, Gladys thought the scene needed music. Percy continued, weaving his way through the prone warders.
"Young man, though I'm limp in the wrist" [giggle]
"I said, young man, don't mean I can't make a fist" [clap]
"you just lay there, and I'm sure you'll be fine" [grin]
"all your wounds will heal in a short time..."
("This definitely needs music," thought Gladys...Percy had leapt onto a nearby wagon, for his finale...)
"...it's fun to fight when you're young, blonde and gay"
it's fun to fight when you're young, blonde and gay..."
Soranir Sedai strode through the empty hall of the novice quarters, her face wearing a scowl, the perfect accompaniment for her disposition. She was known as the novice's mightmare - renowned for having as much humour as a rock, and being twice as hard. And one novice in particular, was about to feel that rock fall on her from a great height. Little Pollanna Morin, twelve year old daughter of some minor Aridhol noble, had missed Soranir Sedai's class, and Soranir was none too pleased.
Soranir reached the doorway to the novices simple cell, and found the door open. Lounging on her bed, the novice looked as the Aes Sedai entered, and smiled. Soranir's anger flared to new levels. She dare! She dare to smile, and not rise to her feet? For a moment, Soranir spluttered, unable to believe the audacity of this novice. Images of days and days of the unpleasant, sadistic torment she would administer personally to this disrespectful child spun through her mind.
"Novice! How dare you! You.... Get to your feet!" hissed Soranir.
The novice did not get to her feet. In fact, she didn't even look scared. An odd half smile played on her lips as her young eyes sparkled at the thought of some hidden joke. Before Soranir could respond, the girl put one hand to her nose, wiggling her fingers, going cross-eyed, and sticking out her tongue.
Anyone passing the room at that point and witnessing the behaviour would have been shocked, fearing for the very skin on the back of that silly novice, offering such affront to Soranir. The Aes Sedai gasped, as one would expect. Then she did something unexpected. She dropped to her knees.
"M..Mistress... I... that is... I..."
"So you recognise the sign of the leader of the .... darker ajah... huh, Soranir? Had your knees not found the floor within the next ten seconds, I was going to feed you to a gholam." Pollanna grinned evilly, her dark eyes twinkling.
"But... I don't... how.... you're so young!" Soranir
"I'm thirteen in the spring!" shouted Pollanna, her composure slipping for the first time.
"Anyway, it doesn't matter. Who would expect me to head the black, huh?
You didn't and you're... well, you know what you are..." Soranir saw a glow surround the girl, impossibly strong for one so young, and the door clanged shut behind her. To her shame, Soranir jumped. It was impossible! Pollanna could not be that strong.
"Now then," continued the novice, and leader of the black ajah. "Uncle Ishmael tells me that the Great Lord has revealed a disturbing thread in the pattern, one which challenges our forthcoming dominion!"
"Uncle Ishmael? No wonder she's the bloody leader!" thought Soranir. She was wise enough not to speak it. Instead, she said: "A... thread... Mistress? Not.... not the Dragon?"
"No, silly! He's not due for years yet. Uncle Ish didn't say who, just that the thread is a danger to us. All we know is one thing for sure...." the girl leaned forward on her bed, and wriggled her toes. "The thread is pink!"
Soranir frowned. "Pink?"
"Yes, pink! I don't know what it means either, that's your job to find out Soranir! Now get out of here, and make sure I get an 'A' on my homework, or else!"
"Yes Mistress, at once!" Soranir bowed, scurrying to her feet, trying to escape those horrid little black eyes.
"Oh, before you go, Soranir?" Pollanna chirped in her whiny little voice.
"Fetch me a strawberry milkshake, would you? And then you can read me a story!"
Soranir toyed with mental images of the little girl boiling in a trolloc stewpot. "Yes Mistress, I'll see to it."
To be continued.....
Shadar Canine aka Darkhound