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Matalina

Big Shoes to Follow (open) - TG Ceremony

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Aiden had finally done it - all on his own.  He hadn't needed help from Raeyn Sedai, or either of his sisters.  He'd done what Mother and Sam had done.  It was a good day.  The sun was shining, and he had memorized all his lines.  It wasn't hard.  Memorization was key to a lot of the things he'd learned with Demus.  Being an assassin wasn't always just killing sometimes when the Great Lord asked you did the other things, collecting information from the Light.

 

For now Aiden had been complacent his his duty towards the Shadow, but soon he'd be able to do more.  He hadn't really gone to Shayol Ghul like his mother, he hadn't done more than swear his soul with words.  But he followed the path he'd and Kate had chosen.  It was their birthright.  Though mother had started as good - she was born into the Light, bound by two Aes Sedai until things happened.  But it was neither here nor there.  Today he'd swear to the White Tower.  It wouldn't void out all other oaths like the Aes Sedai.  Kate would have to swear her soul back to the Great Lord again.

 

But this was the best training there was.

 

The Glad of Remembrance was beautiful.  It reminded Aiden of home.  He missed the ranch a little.  But he missed his mom more.  And Demus.  It was his family and even Sam was a good father though no one really knew he was their father.  Just another man taking care of them on the Ranch.

 

The oaks and conifers were tall and surrounded a small glad with a stone slab in the middle, the patch of light made it look majestic.  The sight of it made Aiden happy, sad and joyous all at once.  His mother would be proud - his father too.  This was why he'd joined the Tower.  This and only this, feeling like his parents were right there with him.  He could almost feel his mother's presence. Aiden's mother had never sworn to the Tower, she was bonded the moment he was able.  Mother had been a good warder.  Aiden had her fancloak in a trunk in his room hidden from everyone.  He'd not be able to ever wear it, but he had it, along with a sword his mother had given him when she found out he was interested.  Now he just had to remember his lines.

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Kilrin's sharp, tilted eyes looked consideringly over the boy before her as she absently shifted her stance, easing the ever present ache in her shattered hip. For a boy Aiden still was, from her perspective. Still, it took a lot of hard work to reach this Ceremony. Many failed to live up to the expectations that the Tower had of its Guards. They did have to  protect everyone after all, from the lowliest servant to the Amyrlin herself. There could be no lenience, no leeway, in walking this path. Every man and woman who bore the title of Tower Guard had been forged, tempered like steel, to ensure they would meet and surpass everything expected of them. 

 

The Master At Arms' green eyes moved on, lifting to pass over the gathered ranks of Guards and, finally, over the two required witnesses in silent acknowledgement. Tower Guard and Aes Sedai were each now taking their place on the right and left hand of Aiden respectively. Satisfied that all was as it should be, that the hour was upon them, and that Aiden was kneeling directly in the small patch of light hitting the great stone slab as tradition dictated, Kilrin nodded imperceptibly in his direction indicating that he should begin.

 

She could sense his slight nervousness and smiled internally. She had her own memories of saying these words, making these oaths, and recalled all too well the worry of forgetting what she was supposed to say. Most likely every Tower Guard throughout history had felt much the same. Not that anyone would ascribe such nerves to Kilrin if they looked at the older woman today. With her dual blades shining above her shoulders, her ceremonial garb smartly pristine, not to mention the gravitas suitable to the occasion lying heavy across her features, there could be no doubt of her stature and authority. Reining in her memories as they threatened to distract her, Kilrin focused on the ritual ahead.

 

"I come here unarmed, offering to give myself to the defence of those who serve all," Aiden's voice was clear and strong despite any misgivings. 

 

Kilrin's green eyes narrowed as though in doubt of the affirmation, clearly contemplating the young man's words before speaking herself, issuing a familiar series of challenges and pausing just long enough between for the witnesses to respond.

 

"Who would speak for you?"

 

"Who would trust you?"

 

"Who would accept you?"

 

"Who would witness your oath whose word is beyond question?"

 

With that last, and the responses given, she turned her attention back to Aiden. 

 

 

 

(OOC: If Arie and Sherper want to post their arrival/thoughts/responses, Mat can post again if she wants to and then I'll do a combined post for the second set of questions for Mat to reply to. Okies? Don't see any point in dragging the ceremony part out.)

 

 

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The Glade of Remembrance was always a welcome sight. From fond memories to the constant reminder that even still more and yet another was to join their ranks. Accepted into the Tower as a Tower Guard once their oaths were made. Cairma strolled forward in her formal best. Her twin blades tied neatly at her hips, sheathed with leather and colored bands that would match any trainee under her watch. This one was not, but she was asked kindly to step in and she was not one to refuse a favor for another who was out to the watch. More than anything, it felt an obligation that the son of Matalina is properly represented. Whether she was the best suited, that begged to question, but as one of the few that remained of the old guard, perhaps it was a reason to argue that few else could.

 

Hair trimmed short and neatly combed, Cairma's eyes a bright and alert blue, the look about her still heavy with the weight of her life and the choices that had given her a sense of solidarity and solitude. The scars upon her body earned and fought for with every passing year. She looked upon this new Guard-to-be with a weighing look that perhaps, Aiden would pick up where those before her had left behind. The new guard were important to the cycle within the Yard. She stood, and took her place with silence and sincerity. Willing the ceremony to continue.

 

Kilrin's eyes found purchase on Cairma, "Who would speak for you?"

 

Cairma met the woman's look without heartbeat or hesitation. "I would speak for him, he is fit."

 

And again, "Who would accept you?"

 

And like so many before Aiden, and many others after, Cairma spoke once more, "I would." 

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Responses provided as smoothly as expected by both Cairma and the Blue Sister, Kilrin moved on to the second series of questions required by the Ceremony and hoped for Aiden's sake that his part went equally well. 

 

"Do you understand that once pledged you are forever bound to a rule of defence? Defence of all Aes Sedai, the defence of the White Tower?" the Master at Arms' voice carried easily to the furthest ranks of Guards thanks to the surrounding trees containing all sound neatly within the Glade.

 

"Yes."

 

"Do you understand that once pledged you are forever bound to a rule of obedience? Obedience to your officers, obedience to all Aes Sedai?"

 

"Yes."

 

"Do you understand that once pledged you are forever bound to a rule of commitment? Commitment to serving faithfully, commitment despite any adversity?"

 

"Yes."

 

Kilrin's chin tilted proudly and her tone firmed as they reached the crux of the matter,  "Then give your oath now."

 

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When Cairma was the Tower Guard to swear his oaths with him Aiden frowned a little but tried to quickly recover his composure.  She'd once caught him looking at his mother's fancloak and swords.  It was shortly after Jesse had given him the swords.  His mother had them on her when she died.  Jesse had been keeping them safe - or he stole them from the armory but either way he was saving them to return to the family.  It had been a surprise to see Jesse with them.  And ever since Aiden kept them in a trunk in his room.  He was home sick - nostalgic and missing her.  The fancloak had long since lost any trace of his mother's scent but it was still comforting.  

 

And she walked in.  Demanded an explanation and since he was just a trainee having a fancloak needed the truth.  He told her exactly who he was.  But he didn't implore her to keep it a secret, the fact that Matalina was dead to the tower by all accounts should have been enough of a clue.  And as far as Aiden knew she had kept it.  

 

It was ironic she would share this day with him.

 

The blue he didn't know.  Some one low enough probably to come to the ceremony on short notice, or maybe they took turns.  Aiden didn't know he had avoided the tower unless sent there.  He'd done this on his own - without his mother or father's name, without the assistance of his aunt, or his sisters who were educating themselves in the way of the One Power.  Maybe he'd server as their warder one day, or maybe not.  Aiden wasn't sure they'd finish training in his lifetime.

 

The Commander waited while he approached, and they went through the ceremony.  And it finally came time for Aiden to say the words - the words he'd been memorizing for weeks.  I hope I don't flub them.

 

"I swear by the light and my hope of salvation and rebirth, as a Tower Guard to defend the White Tower and all who call it home."

 

"I swear by the light and my hope of salvation and rebirth, as a Tower Guard to serve faithfully for as long as the White Tower requires me."

 

"I swear by the light and my hope of salvation and rebirth, as a Tower Guard to fight the shadow and uphold the light until my dying day."

 

Aiden took a big sigh of relief and a smile on his face.  He'd said it, done it without a problem.  He would be a Tower Guard in name soon.  So very soon...

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Kilrin had to smother an answering smile in the face of Aiden's obvious relief and pleasure but there was a definite twinkle in her eyes. No mishaps to deal with this time. She raised her voice once more, "We welcome you to the Tower Guard, you that were known once as Aiden of Cairhien."

 

The words were barely completed before the Blue Sister stepped forward gracefully to place a brand new crimson cloak around the lad's shoulders. Deft fingers fixed the clasp and briefly smoothed the folds of fabric into place.  The woman spoke with that same calm air that all Aes Sedai shared, "We welcome you as Aiden of the Tower Guard, our brother-in-arms. Rise and stand as one among many."

 

As she stepped back to her place, Aiden rose carefully to his feet, and Kilrin wondered momentarily whether he felt the weight of the responsibility settling on his shoulders. She doubted it. Few realised their true depth of obligation until they'd been in the job for years. The Master at Arms swung her gaze to Cairma as the Tower Guard stepped forward into the Sister's recently vacated spot. This time Aiden was presented with a long dagger.

 

"You came to us unarmed," Cairma stated, "and as our mark of trust we place this steel in your hand. May you keep it as a symbol of the trust that has been placed in you, and may it serve you well."

 

Waiting until Cairma had moved back once more, Kilrin then strode around the great slab to stand at Aiden's right side, placing her left hand firmly on his shoulder and, in a lower tone meant for his ears only, imparted her final words.

 

"Spare a moment for those who have come before you and for whom you have become, as shall those who follow you."

 

The surrounding ranks of Guards filed slowly out of the glade and, at a slight inclination of Kilrin's chin, Cairma and the Aes Sedai fell in behind and they too departed. Aiden would be given time to contemplate for as long as he felt necessary but Kilrin knew the celebrations would not be long delayed and likely, be even longer in reaching their conclusion.

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The ceremony in and of itself was short.  He was happy to sit in the grove alone.  He'd been here many times over the years but the grove always felt a lot like home.  It was one of his mother's favorite spots too.  The quiet and the fresh air.  

 

There were many people who got him here, but he was most proud of himself for making the journey himself.  His father and mother had proceeded him.  And his teachers and mentors, and theirs.  It was all a circle passed from one generation on to the next.  He'd likely welcome in a few of his own this way.

 

It was a peaceful place, but in that peace there was also darkness.  The shadows lurked.  The Great Lord called and he would answer.  But so far he'd not spoken a word, been given any direction.  But he would come when called.  Until then he would follow the Tower.  Be the best Tower Guard he could in service to the Great Lords agenda.  But he had to maintain the cover, do the right thing.  Live the right life.  It had driven his mother crazy - almost literally.  But Aiden was not his mother.  He was stronger.  He was not bonded, no broken fragments existed - his mind whole.  

 

But the reflection was done, and it was time to celebrate.  He was certain that the moment he reached the yards he'd be dragged off by those who came before him. 

 

And he's been right, they took him to his favorite inn.  Which happened to be one of his sister's step-mother's inn.  It was family but not.  But it was a place Aiden could relax and knew that no one would get him in too much trouble.  Aiden didn't like to drink but he ordered an ale and sat down at a mostly empty table with his friends.  More would come soon, or were here. It was already starting to get packed with Tower Guards.  As long as they didn't mess the place up Aiden thought to himself.

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Long, candle-lit tables were set for supper, but the assembled guests mostly stood around these tables, talking in their groups, drinks in hand. Fleet-footed servers edged their way politely through the growing crowd, with plenty of alcohol. Recognizable colors and dress uniforms, that of their tower guards, were in abundant display. To one side toward the back of the room, a band played with enthusiasm.

 

Lillian's bowl sat empty. Apparently she had eaten all without noticing. She hoped her mouth enjoyed the taste of black beans, because this eating was done by reflex while she thought her thoughts.

 

She waved over a server who came over, picked up the discarded bowl, refilled the glass there in quick, smooth, practiced movements. Since Lillian had an ageless face, she could always rely on prompt service no matter how busy the inn was. It worked better than gold - for here in Tar Valon, she was one of the richest in the only coin that mattered.

 

Lillian drank her ale in silence, listening to: other people’s conversation, the clanking of glassware and silverware, the music. It was good to move on from eye-bleary work for tonight.

 

“A good day for us,” said one of the uniformed guards to a young men seated at a long table, as the others had laughed and cheered. More people came in, people who knew one another, almost always approached this group first.

 

How nice to be young and flanked by many friends.

 

Lillian Tremina

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It could have been the insult about his mother; or the implication that his family made a tradition of inbreeding; it may even have been the comment about his small pecker. Come to think of it, it was probably the small pecker thing which set the guy off. Light knows why, men were always so sensitive about that particular subject. Whatever the case, there was now a hand being swung at her – a clumsy haymaker, sure, but a declaration of aggression nonetheless.

 

This happened every time Ellisha Falwain came out to drink away her sorrows. She had even taken precautions to not attract attention to herself from members of the opposite sex. Wearing beige trousers and a forester’s shirt and jerkin, she looked much more like a mercenary sell-sword than an eligible young lady. Yet at some point in the night, some loud-mouthed no-body was going to have downed enough liquid courage to start looking for something to savour his other base desires. She always shot these types down, and Ellisha has never known or cared to honey her rejections.

 

“You lightskirted chit! I’ll have you know your place!” The man’s face was a mutton red, and she could practically see the veins popping out of his sockets from the corner of her eye. Maybe she pushed this one a little too far.

 

He lashed out at her with an open palm, going for what appears to be a slap to the face. With an ease that bordered on laziness, she cut across the man’s attack with her left hand – driving the force from the blow – and performed an upper cut against the lower jaw in almost the same instance. She wasn’t sure if anyone else heard the crunch as her fist made impact, but no one could argue against its effectiveness. The man pitched backwards two feet off the air and landed head first a moment later onto the cold wooden floor. He didn’t get back up – the one blow was enough to completely knock him out.

 

Feeling mildly smug at having dealt with the problem in such record time she had her glass of imported Caemlyn Wine half-way to her lips before she caught the look on the bar keeper’s face.

 

“Wha’?” she snarled at the man in the clipped Caemlyn dialect she had adopted for the night. “Som’thin’ else the matta’?” 

 

The balding bar-keep turned to the side and pointed. Ellisha followed the contour of his finger and found the source of the problem.

 

 “Oh, Mother’s milk in a cup” she moaned, muttering darkly under her breath as she massaged the bridge of her nose. The guy she had just beaten up had friends, and they didn’t look too pleased.

 

***

 

The air was driven from her lungs as her back crashed against the door, spilling wood chips in all directions. She landed on her side and rolled several meters out of the Inn before coming to a stop near the feet of a passing pedestrian.

 

The woman seemed mildly surprised at first, bending over to examine the fallen figure. Ellisha rolled onto her back and when she saw the other woman looking down at her, she gave a toothy grin. The expression on the woman’s face turned from mild concern to fear almost in an instant, and she let out an ear-splitting scream. “Blood and Ashes, wha–” before Ellisha could get another word out however, the other had run off – still screaming – into the night. “Rude,” Ellisha thought moodily to herself as she hobbled unsteadily to her feet.

 

What was that all about? And was that blood she tasted on her lips?  She probed the inside lining of her mouth and when her hand came back covered in crimson, realisation dawned and she couldn’t help but let out a wry chuckle. The woman probably thought she was some sort of carnivorous demon from the blood staining her front teeth.

 

She didn’t have long to muse about this fact however, as at that moment her remaining assailant (she had immobilised the other three back in the Inn), pushed his way through what remained of the front door.  He was a heavily muscled man with thick shoulders and an even thicker head. Unlike the other four who she had used her superior training with the warders to gain an unfair advantage over, this one actually knew what he was doing.

 

She rolled her shoulders and did a quick inventory to make sure everything else was still working. Satisfied, she wiped the blood from her mouth with one sleave and turned to face the man. “Nice throwing arm you’ve got there,” she barked, mirroring her opponent’s movements as he began circling her. “Who did you inherit it from? Your Trolloc mother, or your boar for a father?” The man’s expression didn’t change. He could have given stones a lesson on not emoting.

 

Two seconds later he began his attack, levelling a tackle aimed at her midriff. She anticipated this move and sidestepped. What she didn’t anticipate however was that he would switch momentum at the last second and clip her with the edge of his shoulder. This made her tumble backwards, momentarily off-balance. She gasped, more from surprise at being caught rather than any real pain the blow had caused. The man took the opportunity and had both his meaty palms clasped around her throat before she could recover.

 

“Ah, fish-guts,” she choked, and could feel the man’s hands settle around her. It soon became increasingly difficult to breath. She clawed at her windpipes, thrashed about wildly, striking the man’s arms and shoulders but ultimately to no avail. The man slowly squeezed . For the briefest of moments, she panicked and contemplated reaching for Saidar to save herself. She squashed that thought almost as soon as it came up. There was no way she could get away with using the One-Power on a citizen of Tar Valon out in the open like this. Instead, she stopped struggling for a second and withdrew into the void. She felt her heartbeat slowly decrease, her world no longer a sea of stars and dancing colours, but only containing her, the void and the flame. Slowly and deliberately, she calmed down and drew the shiv she had hidden in her pant pocket.

 

As soon as she had stopped struggling, the man finally showed some emotion by the way of a self-satisfied smile.  Evidently, he thought he finally had her; which made it all the more gratifying when she jammed the shiv into his side and repeatedly kicked him in the groin. The two of them dropped together, and Ellisha rolled away to gain herself some distance from her attacker as well as regain some lost oxygen.

 

“Hey, what’s going on here?” Ellisha had just enough vision in between the violent coughing fits to see the blurry outline of four figures running from the inn on the opposite side of the one she had been thrown out from a moment earlier. To her utter amazement, her assailant, the ox-beast of a man, was getting up already. He climbed to his feet and turned to face her. This time there was nothing but murder in his eyes as he drew the shiv embedded in his waist and began slowly walking towards her.

 

“Oh crap. This isn’t good”. Despite her best efforts it appears she will have to use Saidar after-all. This was going to get messy; maybe she could say she was out gathering intelligence for the Blues or something if her boss, Asyndara Sedai, decides to question her about tonight’s events. She would need to find a way to word it so that it wasn’t an outright lie. Before she could fully embrace Saidar, a figure came out and stood in between her and her attacker.  

 

“That’s close enough,” the figure said. It was a young voice but one that sounded confident and assured in his own capabilities. “Put the knife down, walk away and no one needs get hurt”. Despite the straight-backed stance her unexpected defender had adopted, she couldn’t help but notice he himself wasn’t armed with anything, whilst the other one still had her shiv. Her attacker didn’t slow down or hesitate, rather when he reached to within two paces of the younger man, he lunged with the shiv.

 

Ellisha watched as her defender cut down on the knife arm, making sure the blade was pointing away from his body before gripping the hand that held the weapon and twisting the joints. The other man let out a pained grunt and let go of the knife. In a movement that was too fast for Ellisha’s half dazed eyes to track, the young man somehow managed to reverse the knife grip and delivered a sharp tap against the assailant’s temple using the butt of the weapon. The larger man dropped like a sack of potatoes and didn’t make another sound. Her saviour stood over the fallen man for quite a while, probably making sure he wouldn’t get up again, before walking over towards Ellisha.    

 

She accepted the hand that was offered to her and climbed unsteadily to her feet with its assistance. “Thanks, kid.” She rasped then cleared her throat. Evidently that choke hold had taken a bigger toll on her windpipes than she had at first anticipated. “Really glad you came and help me out. Was for sure, that ugly ba – Wait, WHY ARE YOU CUFFING ME?” she roared, as soon as she realised what the cold metallic sensation on her arm was. The kid, he mustn’t have been more than twenty by her estimates, gave her a deadpan expression as he closed the cuffs around her wrist. “I saw you drive a shiv into that other guy. Whatever happened here tonight, you’re going to have to answer some questions down at the station.”

 

It was only then that Ellisha noticed the uniformed tabard the boy was wearing. “Oh, blood and bloody ashes” she cursed as the man secured the other end of the cuffs to his own wrist. It was just her luck that of all the good Samaritans out in Tar Valon tonight, the one that would rescue her just also happened to be a Tower Guard.  She was going to have to start working on her alibi.

 

 

~ Sherper

 

 

OCC: I would wait until we all get back to the Tower before doing the interrogation. We’ll see how we go from there.  

Edited by Sherper

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As with everything Aiden ever did there was a crowd of people.  People he knew, and then many he didn't.  There wasn't a Tower Guard off duty who would miss a celebration.  The work was hard, and though standing at the gates may look easy Aiden knew it wasn't.  He'd stood watch over the horses many times at night while a coyote stalked the Ranch.  So he knew how hard it was to stay awake or stand guard for such long periods of time.  Paying attention was a difficult thing.

 

There was music and merriment and dancing.  There was an Aes Sedai at the bar - an unusual sight given that they were almost always all high and mighty.  The Novices and Accepted were little better.  Always thought they were better than everyone else because they could channel.  Kate had been the same when she found out.  The childish behavior though would likely be beat from his twin sister.  The Tower was very fond of switches.  Aiden had taken a few lashes himself.  - pranks gone wrong mostly.  Though he wasn't usually the one to do it but he took the licks with the rest of them, never telling on them.  He didn't want to stand out anymore than his past training had.

 

Now it didn't matter.  He was a Tower Guard.

 

But even as everyone was around him Aiden was left in his thoughts with a smile and laughter all around.  

 

Even that didn't last long enough a fight broke out from the tavern across the street.  Everyone went outside.  What's even better than a celebration?  A fight!  

 

Aiden stood up slowly and slowly pushed his way out the door.  Most of the people stood watching, hooting and hollering.  One of the guards with him stepped in after the man got shived.  He fought valiantly and the fight was over.  The woman of all things, though Aiden shouldn't have been surprised, was being shackled by the Guard and hauled off in the direction of the Tower.    Time to be the one to shut the crowd down he thought.  "Show's over, everyone back to your own business." He shouted and started towards the inn he'd just vacated.

 

[[ First of all Sherper, I'd like to say I really enjoyed your post.  However, it is common courtesy to let a writer let their character act for themselves.  A little modding I'm fine with.  Had you stopped with someone interfered.  I could have gone with that.  But you wrote out aiden's reaction to the brawl outside, his entire fight scene, and his reaction to the end of the fight scene.  Apologies that this didn't go the way you had intended with an interrogation, if this is how you wanted the thread to go we could have discussed it. ]]

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