Selucia looked worried, but she shouldn't have. As the Prince of Ravens, Matrims' command were second only to hers, and when it came to her security, he out-ranked Selucias' own judgement, so she was not to be subject of any punishment. To make matters worse, she could not punish Matrim for this. Not out-rightly, to be seen at odds with her own Husband in public eye would cause possible questions of the stability of the Royal family, especially with the news that had arrived from Seandar. Nevertheless he would have to be suitably punished for this, especially for those cursed words.
"This is for your own good Tuon. I'm sending you home to my family, you'll be safe there. They'll show you how a wife is supposed to act."
Those were the last words Matrim had whispered to her, wearing that thrice cursed grin of his. The one that always tempted her to smile the same way in kind like a foolish girl with her heart on her sleeve.
Her heart? That thought always came to her at the most inconvenient moments. Her feelings towards Matrim. She knew he cared for her, and in kind, there was some small part of her that worried of and, admittedly, appreciate him, but that hardly was love. No, she completed the wedding vows because a damane had read her future that it would happen and the omens that followed. There was his strange story about the Ealfinn and Aelfinn for his own reason behind it, such amusing lies. He could find any number of ways to surprise her, and make her laugh, and then there were his kisses. If she weren't already laid over her saddle, the very memory may have made her swoon. Ah, there was one punishment, he seemed to enjoy it as much as she did, denying it from him was a start, but she needed more to punish him with.
Their first meeting since parting at Molvaine Gap was expected, being the Lord General of The Dragon Reborns' armies, and her husband made him a more than obvious Liaison between both parties. She remembered him wearing a mischievous grin as he led her through the palace, a neutral ground. The country, Andor, while not under the rule of the Dragon, but a supporter that would ride to Tarmon Gai'don to face down the Dark one. If nothing else a noble enough distinction on the part of the Ruler. However if the ruler would resist the rule of the Dragon Reborn, then likely would they resist the Seanchan and that would prove troublesome. Nevertheless that was not a primary concern, the purpose of this meeting was a terms of a Truce, so Matrim explained. That the war to decide the ruler of the remnants of Hawkings' Kingdom would wait until after the Final Battle was fought. In part she agreed that it was a wise choice on the part of Rand al'Thor, there would be no point in the Return if it was to be lost in the grasp of friends of the Dark, and the much rumoured existence of the shadowspawn that existed here.
The meeting was never to be, as Selucia voiced concern for her safety to meet the Dragon Reborn, a man destined for madness and death. Matrim reacted badly to this which was quite admirable; his devotion to his Lord and friend, and certainly his loyalty was one of his better qualities. The ensuing argument was far from desirable however. It was then he revealed his true plan as they Entered the stables, and he voiced that his intent was then to send Tuon to a place far removed from the conflict to keep her safe, and ordering Selucias compliance in the matter. While Selucia was bound to the command from the Prince of Ravens concerning her safety, this did not mean Tuon herself did not fight back. The fact he had tied her so over Akein was a measure of his anger that he chose to try to repay his injury with insult. But those cursed words, he said them so softly, almost caressingly to her, in a way that made her knees weak, before they stepped through a hole in the air and came here to this place, and judging by the sun, they were a great distance away.
Akein came to a stop in front of a motherly woman with long, deep brown hair which was held by a single wrist-thick braid.
"My my child, you'll need a sight better manner of dealing with my boy if he could get you tied to your horse in such a way." Natti said, trying to contain both a sigh, and a giggle. She didn't want to make the poor girl feel any more embarrassed over this than possible. But it was certainly a shock; the letter mentioned that her appearance and manner would be outlandish, but bald? She was aghast! However given the look the dark young woman was giving her as she stared up to her was more than obvious that she had no right to any hair at all let alone a braid! Well, a lesson in manners was needed, but there was no point in letting her stay like that. She had no intention of parading around with a young woman tied over her horse like this, her daughter-in-law least of all!
"Come along you; help me get her off this." Natti indicated to Selucia, who was still mounted on Rosebud.
Dismounting Selucia complied, she disliked this in great deal, but a command from the Prince of Ravens needed to be followed. She was to follow the instructions given to her by Her Highness, and those named Natti and Abell Cauthon. She was to do everything requested of her, but she was not allowed to let her Highness leave until His Highness came to collect her. However, if the Her Highness wished to order her death so she may leave freely, she would have to disregard it, in order to complete the command of the Prince of Ravens. At which time they were completed she would die in accordance with Her Highnesses wishes. She was not property, but a devoted subject of the Imperial family, and this truly was a myriad affair.
Natti untied the feet of the small woman, while her handmaid untied her hands. Helping her stand on the ground she offered her some support.
"Are you alright my dear? Having been like that would have certainly affected you. If you need I can call the wisdom." She asked concernedly.
Tuon shook her head slightly, "I will be fine"
Natti smiled reassuringly, "Alright then, my name is Natti Cauthon, and it seems quite obvious you are my sons' wife Tuon, it's a pleasure to meet you"
Tuon knew that the greater deal of people would be ignorant to her customs, but of all people Matrim should have informed these people of the proper way. She noted the indignity on Selucias' face, and quickly issued a command. DO NOTHING. No, this was not this womans' fault, it lay squarely at Matrims' feet and he would be the one to pay.
"A pleasure to meet you as well Mistress Cauthon." Tuon said neutrally.
"I feel I must apologise for my sons' actions towards you with this matter." Natti said with a sigh, "As our old wisdom Nynaeve used to say, that boy could cause trouble nailed up inside a barrel. I've broken more than a few switches over his backside, and I feel nothing will get through to that boy"
At this Tuon smiled, the thought of Matrim sealed inside of a barrel sounded like something suitable as punishment. The added comment of the switch wasn't too bad either. Neither of which were wholly serious ideas of punishment, but amusing to think over all the same. Natti noted the sudden improvement in Tuons' demeanour, she did seem odd, but in time she'd learn, hopefully. For a time she was worried that her son may have married someone as irascible as himself.
"Well come along now child, the house isn't too far from here, best to walk your horse for now. Certainly a fine animal." The older woman mentioned as they headed towards the Cauthon household.
Tuon recalled the memories of the conversations she had had with Matrim, the tales of his family, and his home. This reminded her suddenly of something which had been bothering her for a great deal of time, "Were you truly attacked by Trollocs?" Tuon queried.
Natti frowned, "A shameful business that. My husband Abell can tell you a little more about it, nothing I quite like to recall." Natti pointed to the centre of the green where two banners stood. "It is fortunate that Lord Perrin returned with his Wife, the Lady Faile, to aid us. It was thanks to him we were able to fight back and win"
Tuons' eyes widened a fraction, the wolfs head banner obviously that of the lords, but the other, the Red Eagle of Manetheren, finally the puzzle unravelled. Manetheren and The band of the Red Hand, Matrims' personal army, all of it was linked. She filed it away into her memory for another time. However, the next more startling fact were the skulls laid at the bottom of the poles. A Human skull with a muzzle of a bear, another With Horns like a ram. Those were certainly real. Unconsciously her left hand made the signal to ward off evil.
"Nothing to dwell on child, as I said, terrible business it was." Natti said as soon as she noticed Tuon staring a little too intently at the Skulls. Lord Perrin demanded them all buried, but other young men put them there as a reminder of what they faced, and defeated, but none had the nerve to display the eye-less skull of the half-men. The very memory made her shiver.
They soon arrived at the house where a small child with her long hair tied in a ribbon was playing with a small doll under a tree that shaded the modest house and small stable next to it.
"Eldrin." Natti called, "Fetch your father, that's a good girl"
Eldrin stood up and brushed her skirts quickly, "Yes mama." she called back, and scurried off into the stables.
"Matrim said he had two sisters." Tuon said, "Bodewhin is the older one"
"Yes, but our Bode was chosen to go to the White Tower to become and Aes Sedai." Natti said with a touch of pride in her voice.
Tuon was silent; it still amazed her how people reacted to marath'damane on this side of the ocean. Proud to have their daughters and sisters to become Aes Sedai. In Seanchan, Matrim would never have even recognised that Bodewhin existed-. It was then her mind froze mid-thought. She had referred to a marath'damane by their given name, and that she was still Matrims' blood. If Mistress Anan were still here and known, she would have shouted in triumph, that those who could channel were still humans was one discussion they had always had. Did she feel differently now because it was Matrims' sister? She banished the thought, and all related ones immediately, they were not for now.
The small girl, Eldrin, had returned with an elderly gentleman who looked all the world like Matrim. She decided that, if he lived long enough, Matrim would age well indeed. Upon laying eyes on her the man smiled at Tuon, it nearly made her breath catch, that same grin.
"If you ever give over anything for that smile of his, he'll have enough confidence to try it again." Natti said sagely, as if reading Tuons very thoughts.
Tuon returned to her stern outer appearance, fighting to keep a blush off of her own face.
Abell gave a short bow, "A pleasure to meet you. My name is Abell Cauthon; I don't really feel as if I am inviting a guest, so, welcome home Tuon. I look forward getting to know you"
Tuon smiled a little at the gracious welcome, "I thank you Master Cauthon. I look forward to the same thing. However, I am a little upset that my husband did not pay enough attention to learn his manners from you"
Selucia laughed quietly at that particular remark, as did everyone else. Abell nodded slightly, still grinning, "Too true. Though he certainly paid attention enough to most things I taught him, this is indeed a fine animal"
Tuon nodded, "It was of his choosing, how did you know"
"Likely the lad would have had to find something this well to impress My Lady enough to marry him." He said in jest.
Tuon simply smiled knowingly, and said nothing more. Abell nodded again and led Akein and Rosebud off. A moment later the noted the scrutiny being given to her by the child Eldrin who was simply looking up at her. The child was perhaps no older than nine, but It was annoying, possibly because of her appearance, which most people found strange.
"You're Mats' wife?" She asked innocently.
Tuon nodded, "Yes"
"You're too pretty for him." She said with a smile.
Tuon could only laugh openly at the remark, as did Selucia and Natti.
Perhaps, she thought, her time here would prove more interesting than originally thought. If interesting enough, perhaps it may redeem Matrim, in some small way.
I've had to take a few creative liberties with a few un-explained details such as the role of the Prince of Ravens, most of which are to further my own plots, but they'll lead to funnies, that I can promise.
Props again to my Beta Archangel-dmd, why he puts up with me I'll never know, maybe hes as insane as I am.
Also, Yay Eldrin!