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DRAGONMOUNT

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Daisy Roots - Attn: Quibby (Janine)


Winter Mist
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~Rossa~

 

A glimpse through the window was fruitless; the rain had been coming down too hard and stubborn raindrops still clung to the pane, the pendulous globes waiting for their weight to become too much for them, and to yield to the inevitable slippery downward slope that followed. Rossa stood a moment entranced as one of the droplets zigzagged down the glass and mingled with the myriad others at the bottom of the frame. It gave her a clearer view of outside now, but she dared not linger longer or risk being chided by an Aes Sedai for wasting valuable time. Her aim was the novice quarters, to oversee a chore that, given the conditions, would be as much of a chore for herself as for the unfortunate that would have to do the task. Quickening her footsteps, Rossa hurried on, leaving the window behind her framing a brightening sky.

 

She was beginning to feel the banded skirts fit her now. At first it had seemed a huge novelty, or a rank she did not feel adequately suitable to hold after spending so long in the plain white of a novice. Rossa had almost forgotten what it had been like to give orders, so completely she had immersed herself in her new life. While she had never forgotten her revenge or her want to be a great and respected Aes Sedai so as to restore the glory to her family name, Rossa had acted how she was supposed to act, most of the time, so as not to attract overly much attention. The fact that she had awakened the interest of a certain Green sister, Sirayn Sedai, with her satirical cartoons but beyond that had managed to survive her novitiate relatively unscathed was testament to her spider-like patience. Now, more hints of her former self were beginning to show through. Her mother would have been proud of her.

 

Rossa knew scarcely more about the novice than her name. Janine Alastarn. Every time she visited the novice quarters, it reminded her of her Arches, but she gritted her teeth and moved on, willing the thoughts to try and reduce her to tears again. My daughter… She had to put it behind her. The door to the novice’s room was looming large in front of her all of a sudden, and Rossa recalled she had a pair of gardening gloves in her belt pouch along with the figurines of her family, and a pencil and comb. One of her mother’s maxims had always been if you don’t feel at your best; people will know you’re not at your best. Never give an enemy any more ammunition than you possibly can. Straightening her hair, Rossa performed the exercise she did to make herself appear taller, and knocked on the door.

 

“Janine Alastarn. You are to come with me to the gardens, where you will have a little chore to do.” Her hands went into her belt pouch and pulled the leather gloves out, holding them in front of her. “You’ll be needing these.”

 

~Janine~

 

Her dress tossed over the foot of her bed, Janine lie red-eyed on her belly, clad only in her shift. If she hadn't known that there would be more on the way, she would have gotten rid of it, too. The Mistress of Novices was a stickler for punishment, and she administered her form of justice equally. It didn't help, though, to know that there was a willow switch in that office that Janine had been forced to cut herself. Irritably, Janine shifted. She would not cry again. Not for the bloody Mistress of bloody Novices, not for the bloody Sitters. "Not even for the flaming Amyrlin Seat, the Light blind her!" Janine muttered fiercely. Oh, Light, but it hurt...

 

What was it about the White Tower that made everybody lose their senses of humor? All that Janine had done was sneak a bottle of wine out of the kitchens. Nothing too serious. Of course, when confronted about it, Janine had flat-out lied to cover her own trail. Unfortunately, the Aes Sedai set to do the questioning seemed rather talented at sniffing out lies, and her constant prodding had caused Janine's rather notorious temper to fly out of control. In no time, she was out of her chair and delivering a full-armed slap to the offending Aes Sedai. A slap that came up a full foot short of its mark. And then came the inevitable beating. The glow of saidar had appeared around the cool-eyed woman, and a series of sharp blows rained down on her thighs and bottom. THen, when the Aes Sedai had had enough, she seized ahold of Janine's left ear and set off for the Mistress of Novices' office. Even with the pain, Janine couldn't help but chuckle. If she were to guess, the total time between when she had stepped into that room to the time she was being hauled out had probably been five minutes.

 

Needless to say, Janine knew that she wouldn't be sitting in any of her classes any time soon.

 

The knock at her door jolted Janine out of her self-pity. It was probably the rest of her punishment. Ah, let it wait a few minutes, she thought as she tenderly stood. It took a few minutes of gasps and quiet moans of agony to slip into the white dress again, and another couple minutes to regain her composure. Let whoever it was outside wait for a little bit.

 

When she finally opened the door, Janine found herself face-to-face with... an Accepted. Great... just what I need. An overgrown novice. She appeared to be nearly of a height with Janine, with longer hair and darker eyes. After a few seconds consideration, Janine decided that the woman across from her was pretty enough. “Janine Alastarn. You are to come with me to the gardens, where you will have a little chore to do.” The gardens? Whatever this task was, it wasn't going to be fun. Janine could already imagine the dress she was wearing being pulled against her still-raw backside. Almost as an afterthought, the Accepted held out a pair of gardening gloves. “You’ll be needing these.”

 

It was all that Janine could do not to throw the gloves back in the woman's face. Did the Aes Sedai not have the courage to tell her to do this herself? Did she have to send one of the Accepted to do her dirty work? It was pathetic! The sneer in her voice would have been audible to a deaf man as Janine responded, "Yes, Accepted." She even gave the woman a curtsy. "Lead on, Accepted," she muttered. Light, why me?

 

~Rossa~

 

Trained in the arts of Daes Dae’mar as she was, Rossa found the little tell-tale signs rather unfortunate, as it happened. The novice’s eyes were red and the length of time she had taken to answer the door meant that the child had likely been switched and she was in considerable pain. So it was a punitive chore rather than one of the character building variety. The opportunity would have been perfect for Rossa to try and subtly encourage the girl for her own plans, but her posture screamed defiance. Even her rigid curtsey which, while perfectly acceptable, held traces of the pain she was in and the stubbornness did not bear thinking about. Water and wind can erode even the strongest stone… Something to hold in mind, as knowing what was happening among any new novices that arrived from Altara who potentially knew something of the political climate was rather important to her.

 

It was not really her place to chastise the girl, given that her words and actions had been perfectly civil, but she would bear watching. She could be very useful if there were particular actions Aes Sedai made, if she was observant and far more careful… This required some serious thought. Their steps strode away from the novices’ quarters and headed towards one of the smaller gardens where the sisters of the Yellow Ajah tended herbs for study and use in teaching classes. Here, the novice Janine Alastarn would have to dig the weeds in between the neat little rows and make sure no single plant was in danger of choking from the proximity of the roots of another. The soil needed turning to make sure the water drained properly, and the girl would have to be very careful indeed to avoid pulling any flowers or leaves off that were not dead or not ready for collection.

 

The sky overhead seemed to arch above them both as they silently entered the garden. Blue heaven soared, framed at the edges by steely clouds retreating from the light. They had encountered precious few people on their way to the garden; one or two stately Aes Sedai to which Rossa paid deep courtesies, an Accepted here or there that Rossa would acknowledge while not breaking stride, and Novices that hurriedly went about their business. Every person in the White Tower knew the penalties for dilly-dallying when a novice or accepted should be on an errand or on the way to class. Rossa had kept silent on her walk, thinking. She should have brought her sketch book…

 

Stopping alongside the largest flower bed, punctuated here and there by stone tubs with holes in the side to allow lots of different herbs to grow in the same jar, Rossa folded her arms across her chest. The ground was slightly soft underfoot from the rain, so it was in both of their interests to finish this quickly. As it was, Rossa would have to move around a lot to avoid sinking and leaving Accepted-shaped footprints in the lawn.

 

“There you are,” Rossa began “Start here by removing all of the weeds and turning over the soil. Make sure you don’t damage any roots, mind.”

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  • 3 weeks later...

Janine didn't even stifle the frustrated sigh that escaped her lips as she crouched near one of the outer corners of the garden. It wasn't that she disliked getting dirty- far from it, actually. It was that she disliked getting dirty on somebody else's whim. The tension of her dress against her hips was a sudden reminder of that very whim. Bloody woman! The Accepted was no doubt watching for anything that she could carry back to those bloody Aes Sedai, something to make her punishment even worse. And for a second, Janine considered giving it to them. The first weed came out of the moist soil rather easily, and she forced herself not to hurl it at her overseer. It's not her fault that you're here; don't take it out on her.

 

Her fingers digging again into the garden, Janine winced as a gust of wind tugged at her dress, pulling the fabric across her welted rear. The next weed that came out of the earth found itself crushed in her angry grip. Occasionally, as she moved down the row, Janine found herself looking at the Accepted set over her. Manipulations had never been a strong area with her, so maneuvering the woman into a favorable position was not on her mind. Hmmm, about an equal reach to me, similar height. I bet she'd put up a good fight. Not for the first time, Janine found herself missing her brothers a bit. They had always been fun, even if they were mindless buffoons. It didn't really help that she had failed to make any friends at the White Tower, thus far. It took Janine a second to realize that she'd reached the end of the first row.

 

Carefully, she started into the second row, taking care not to crush the Yellow Ajah's shrubbery. No need to get an entire Ajah after her. Ah, the Yellows... They could beat her to a pulp, then Heal her and start all over, if they so desired. As she worked, Janine attempted to imagine herself into the Yellow Ajah for a moment. A hopeless cause, as she did not posess such a vivid imagination. "Bloody Yellows. You'd think that they'd be able to weed their own fla-" Janine cut herself off quickly. More than one beating had been given to her on account of her language, and she wasn't about to give this Accepted a tale to carry. "Pardon, Accepted," she muttered as she came near to the woman. As she finished the row, Janine looked again at her overseer. Working could not take her mind off of everything- the pain included- and she found herself asking curiously, "Pardon, Accepted, but what is your name?"

 

Janine1.jpg

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~Rossa~

 

“My name is Rossa Venye, since you asked so nicely, Novice.” She merely raised an eyebrow at the borderline delinquent behaviour, as her mother would have done when one of her children grew recalcitrant of overly demanding. “And yes, the Yellows would be bloody, concentrating on Healing as they do.” Rossa took a look at the girl and did a little reasoning. If she used such language, she must have either grown up in a tavern or had brothers, and had likely gotten into a fight here or there. In which case she would need some skill with healing or herbs if she wanted to look after herself - To look after them, for that matter.

 

Rossa knew full well that if she tried to take matters into her own hands with regards to punishing insolence, even if she did want to make the novice pull the weeds out with her teeth so she could taste something as bitter as she sounded. It was unlike her to have such thoughts, but she was irritated. She had realised something. Nerome had not been around after her elevation to the banded hem, and he hadn’t been present for her birthday either. Her thoughts had been so tumultuous so as to exclude much else from her mind of late, and irritation quickly turned to worry. Not that she showed it on her face, of course. The only way anyone would have noticed was by the way she was working her fingers clenching, unclenching and clenching her hands again until the knuckles turned white. She had to soothe her heart somehow… Maybe one of the herbs would help. Rossa ran through the remembered drawings she had done for Lillian as a novice, and didn’t think any of them would be of any use, but there was nothing to stop her from pointing out the odd one or two that she knew.

 

Being careful not to get the banded skirts she wore muddy, Rossa crouched down alongside the novice. She neatly avoided the girl’s arm as she pulled a bedraggled shoot from the earth and delicately brushed a spot of rainwater off before pointing at a delicate looking plant. “That is goosemint, and that one over there? That’s mavinsleaf.” Rossa stepped back before she got mud on her skirt. She didn’t know if she were being helpful or not, but she did feel the need to try in spite of the girl’s obvious attitude. “Watch out for those … they sting.”

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Rossa Venye. Janine played the name through her mind as she worked, committing it to memory. Who knew when the name would be needed again? Plucking another weed from among the other plants in the garden, she quietly cursed herself. Accepted to a fault, this one seemed. Janine had never liked having to deal with the Accepted, who always seemed to delight in their so-called authority. It was always a pleasure to see them put into their place by the Aes Sedai. However, it didn't take Janine long to feel as if she were being studied. There was only one possible source for it. Turning her head towards the Accepted, Janine shot a look in her direction as she worked. Bloody woman.

 

"That is goosemint, and that one over there? That's mavinsleaf." Janine hadn't even noticed the Accepted's approach. It seemed that she stepped away, her skirts held neatly to avoid the mud. It was as if she were trying to instruct her, even as she worked. "Watch out for those... they sting." Despite herself, Janine turned to see what the Accepted was talking about, her bared wrist brushing against some sort of plant. It was instantly apparent to Janine just what kind of plant was in question. Clamping her jaw shut to avoid crying out, she examined her wrist. There was a slight rash where she had brushed the plant. And it stung. Heh, I'm surprised that the Mistress of Novices doesn't have a planter full of this stuff in her office. As soon as she felt that she could control the sound of her voice, Janine murmured, "Thanks for the warning, Accepted."

 

Almost as soon as the words left her mouth, Janine wished she could call them back. She was just being childish, she knew; Rossa Venye had nothing to do with what had happened to her today. There was even a part of her that was calling for an apology to the woman. It would be odd, apologizing and actually meaning it. Taking a deep breath, Janine opened her mouth to speak... then closed it again and continued with her work. Carefully working her way through the nettles, Janine was halfway back through the garden when she finally managed to force herself to speak. "Accepted? I'm sorry for my words earlier." The words seemed foreign crossing her tongue. "I know that it's no fault of yours." It didn't take a second for Janine to regret ever saying anything. The woman probably thought that she was trying to weasel her way out of work by saying the right words. It was a lose-lose situation, it seemed.

 

Janine1.jpg

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~Rossa~

 

She knew it wasn’t her place to chide a novice, but it didn’t stop her from wanting to. The girl could have been trying to get leniency from her in order to reduce her sentence, or she could have been making a veiled plea for help. Janine did not look the sort that would tolerate bullying though, or even entertain the idea that someone could. Rossa cursed her mind for reading too much into things sometimes. No. In this case, with the sky darkening again and threatening further inclement weather, it would be better to take things at face value in case rain stopped play.

 

“Apology accepted, Janine.” Rossa wanted to compliment the girl on her manners, but she rather thought it would be taken the wrong way, construed as insult rather than praise. In truth, the girl had quite a political mind when she wanted to, although whether the novice realised it was another thing entirely. She had enough discretion to know when to say something and when to keep silent, at least. Rossa added that they would not end up as wet as the weeds if they had a hand getting out of the ground, and the novice bent back to her task.

 

I have to stop thinking like this. Not everyone is “useful” in some way!

 

“When you’ve got to the end of the last row, novice Janine, could you put the discarded weeds into the large bucket the gardener’s use for compost, please? Then, gently remove any dead heads from the remaining plants and set them down in this for me to take to the Infirmary, please.” Rossa unfolded a handkerchief from her belt pouch and laid it on the damp grass; turning opaque in places from where the rain clung tenaciously to each blade. She wasn’t used to this weather, even now, and Rossa wanted to get back to the library where she could sit and read, or if she was more honest with herself, mope over Nerome.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, so much for being done, Janine thought as the Accepted added one more touch to the day. Eyeing the handkerchief lying on the ground, she sighed, plucking the last weed from the garden in a spray of dirt. Some days, it didn't seem to be worth the hassle of getting out of bed. Standing, Janine took a moment to examine her dress, barely even flinching at the pain that seemed to race up her spine from her rear. She'd been fortunate enough to get used to it during her time on her knees. Too bad that one couldn't say the same thing about her dress. The moist dirt had been pressed quite well into the fabric of her dress and was probably visible on the other side. It would take forever to clean it.

 

The smile on her lips was barely visible, but it was there. Janine was glad that she'd had the forethought to pile the plucked weeds outside of the garden. Plucking weeds was no new thing to her, but it shocked her to no end that the Aes Sedai would even allow weeds to grow; there had to be some way to prevent it with the Power. If they did that, though, she thought suddenly, they'd have fewer chores to give us novices. The knowledge didn't make Janine any happier as she stooped to collect the scattered piles of weeds, racing to try to beat the oncoming weather. With her luck, she'd probably be punished twice more today: once for her dress being filthy, and once for looking as if she'd decided to go swimming in one of the fountains. Now wouldn't that make for an interesting story. The thought brought another smile to Janine's face as she deposited her armful of weeds into the compost bin and returned to collect the rest.

 

That task out of the way, Janine grabbed the handkerchief from the ground as if she were making a one-handed attempt to capture a frog. The thin cloth had picked up enough moisture that Janine could feel a few drops fall from it as she held it in her fist. She paused for a moment, examining the garden. More specifically, those stinging plants. It took a lot of effort not to sigh in relief when she noticed that there were no dried leaves or whatnot on those ones. A glance at the sky seemed to suggest that haste was in order, and Janine was more than happy to do so. She was halfway through the garden when the first sensations of rain registered. Oh, hold off for a little bit longer, please? she thought desperately, looking at the sky as she worked. Plucking the dried heads and leaves was no easy task, and Janine found herself surreptitiously trying to hide broken sprigs from Rossa, though it seemed as if the woman would know anyway. From the time that the two had been together, it seemed that the Accepted was always looking beyond everything, trying to analyze things, notice every detail. I'd bet a gold crown that she goes to the Library after she's done with me; that one has Brown written all over her.

 

It seemed that the Creator could actually be merciful from time to time, as the rain was still holding back as Janine presented the handkerchief of herbs to the Accepted. Hopefully, she wouldn't examine them too closely, as some of the herbs had been crushed a bit in Janine's haste. "Finished, Accepted. Is there anything else you want me to do?" The tone of forced submission did not suit Janine's character at all; she wanted to be in control, not crawling around at this woman's whim, or anybody else's, for that matter. There was one person she wanted to see crawl, but Lavinya Sedai would have to wait.

 

Janine1.jpg

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~Rossa~

 

Presented with the handkerchief of deadheads and bits of twig, Rossa felt a stab of gratitude that the girl had not hung about. The oppressive nature of the sky was enough to give a normal person no reason to dawdle, much less someone crawling on their hands and knees to get chores finished. And, to be fair, the last thing Rossa wanted to be doing was standing watch while some recalcitrant novice fulfilled part of her punishment. It did make for an interesting idea for a sketch – not the usual ones she drew, at that. The thought of a novice crawling to pull weeds from a flowerbed while an Aes Sedai watched over could be the most fantastic piece of propaganda, if it had the correct kind of phrasing all over it. Not that Rossa would actually use an idea like that… The thought of a way to unite all the novices was an interesting one, but she doubted it would work. Rossa dismissed it, casting an eye to the steely heavens with their bulging bellies threatening. No. It was definitely time to get inside, in the dry.

 

“That’s all there is, Novice Janine.” She caught sight of the other girl’s dress and the state it had gotten into and winced. If she was seen by an Aes Sedai like that, there would likely be more chores handed out for not upholding the proper and correct image of the White Tower. Standing back from the flowerbed, Rossa gestured for the novice to get up and straighten her dress a bit, adding in a kindly voice that she should get tidied up before an Aes Sedai saw her.

 

She walked with the novice back to the White Tower and made sure she got back to her room, before turning back to head towards the library for more study, or yet more chores. Where had she put her sketchbook…?

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