Having found himself a private tent, by way of a heavy outlay of coin to a pair of Borderlanders who find Andor’s cooling weather quite to their liking, one would expect Valtrin to be in it. Instead he sits on a camp stool (also “borrowed” with coin) outside his tent, idly carving at wooden sticks with no purpose and no particular skill. Eventually he throws one into the small fire he’s made, and picks up another to go through the process again.
A good deal later than she had at first indicated, a familiar figure makes her way towards your tent. As she comes closer, a measure of hesitation slows her previously determined strides, and more than once she casts uneasy glances to each side of herself.
“I hope you haven’t waited too long,” Angharad says as she comes up to you. “I was called away a few times, there were some things that needed to be discussed.” By the reluctance in her voice these matters are of some concern to her, and perhaps even to you.
Looking up from his work, Valtrin smiles briefly as he fails to notice your unease. He tosses that stick of wood into the fire as well, sheathing the belt knife again, before he speaks. “And what would those be? Angry scoldings from that waif for keeping company with a rogue such as myself?” He still seems quite amused by his performance earlier, and shamelessly so.
“I wasn’t aware that I was keeping such company,” comes the reply, mostly dry but with a flicker of anger making itself known. “At least not willingly.” A pause then, and dark eyes fix firmly upon you, as if Angharad was considering whether or not to pursue that particular matter any further. In the end, or so it appears, she decides against it. “And not for a time, willingly or not,” she continues after a little while, her expression rather less casual than her tone of voice. “I’ll be leaving soon. Tonight, in fact.”
Smiling that sly, mocking smile of his at your initial response, he chooses to let it move past as he addresses the rest you say. “Ahh, well. That’s not bad at all. I could catch up, I suppose, later in the evening—or,” Valtrin says, pleasantly enough, “will you be using that travelling trick of the Tower’s to get back to the farm?” He doesn’t quite realize what your meaning is, as the rest shows. “Then I can take any reply to Tarjei in hand and see a courier takes it to Tar Valon. Or do they allow you to send off messages to relatives from the farm?”
“We’re going to Skim, yes. Back to Tar Valon.” There is, almost, a note of regret in her voice. “Araine spoke to Rowena earlier, and apparently they’re now in agreement that I’ve ... improved sufficiently. No doubt the little battle and the Green Ajah—to which both Ylanna and Araine belong—have something to do with it.” Angharad explains, and then suddenly grows quiet, eyeing you uneasily.
That takes a moment to register with Valtrin .... and then he shrugs lightly. “Well. Surprising, but good for you at the least,” he says, his turn now to have a dry voice. “I suppose I’ll make my own way back to Caemlyn, with the rest. Be sure to tell Tarjei that you’ve returned to the Tower.” And after that, and a lingering glance, he turns back to picking up another stick of wood. He stares at it for a few moments, as if he doesn’t know what to do with it, and then he unsheathes the belt knife to whittle away at it again.
Awkward silence follows, and uneasily Angharad glances away from you and back again ... and then repeats the process again, and again. “I could,” she finally says, more quietly and less casually than she no doubt had intended, “say no, I suppose. There was talk of it when I was sent away. That if I didn’t feel the ... proper dedication I could always decline to return at the end of my stay.” Another pause, and looking elsewhere she adds, “Of course, that would depend on me having a good reason.”
“Ahh. I see,” Valtrin replies rather neutrally, although for a moment his fine mouth tightens before he makes a forceful cut into the stick of wood in his hand. “I suppose that the Tower has more to offer than the farm—scrabbling in the dirt for cabbages and whatnot isn’t part of the curriculum for the former, I presume.” And then, after lengthy consideration and a few more whittles, “Or caring for ... the horses. You could always do that, after the shawl is on your shoulders.”
No immediate response, and again she merely glances your way ever so briefly, her eyes soon turned away once more. “Yes, I suppose I could,” Angharad then says, stealing another glance of you. “If I go back now ... well, Araine will expect me to head straight for the Green Ajah, but I can still refuse the final testing when it comes to that.” A moment or two of silence, and she adds, “If I feel that something else is more important, I mean.”
A long silence follows that, and finally Valtrin tosses that bit of wood into the fire, with some force. You could almost hear his teeth grinding. But when he speaks, his voice is stripped of any particular emotion. “What? Something more important than being a high and mighty Aes Sedai? What are the Greens .... the fighting ones? I suppose that would be appealing,” he says, noncommittally enough. He is rather carefully staring at the fire, however.
A quiet moment or two, and then she speaks up again, a newfound firmness (with a solid foundation in re-awakened anger) to her voice. “Yes, exactly. I would make a good Green, I think, and I suppose I could see myself bonding a warder or three, as most of them do. Araine already has one, you know.” If you were to get the impression that something you said didn’t sit well with her ... well, it probably would be an accurate feeling. “As for importance ... I have a gift—stronger than most—that I’d rather not throw away. And, occasionally, I also feel a twinge or two of gratitude towards these ‘high and mighty’ Aes Sedai since one of them saved my life.”
A sardonic quirk of the lips at that, strangely humorless and halfway to a grimace, and Valtrin replies, “Three? I see.” And then after some moments, he adds quietly, “I can understand the gratitude. I ... share it, I suppose. Don’t think I don’t. Choose the course you feel best suits you, of course, my dear.” And then he takes up another of those sticks, using it to stir the fire and renew the bright, flickering light.
The angry retort that she seems to have had ready for you never gets past her lips, and in the end she just nods, and shrugs her shoulders. “Yes ... yes, I suppose so. I ... well, I thought I should tell you, though.” Angharad finishes, glancing tentatively at you. “I’ll have to be going now. I should be in Tar Valon tomorrow. Is ... is there anything you want me to tell Tarjei?”
“No,” Valtrin replies after a moment’s pause, stirring the fire a bit more. And then, after a long silence, he adds, “Goodbye, my dear. Safe journey.” He doesn’t look at you at all as he says it, his face so firmly held in check that it might as well have been sculpted from stone.