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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Lih-Lyh

Basic training (attn: Aiden; open)

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In the blue dimness of night, Ashley ran in the unfamiliar grounds. Even familiar shops and greenery looked different; blurs. He ran. And ran and ran, until the pain caught up and made him stop running.

 

Wah, this isn't far 

 

“Hah . . . hah . . .” He panted; lungs tightened in need of air. His stomach hurt. He clenched over, panting “Hah, I . . . really . . . am not in shape.” 

 

Every day he had been sitting in the wagons, not exercising enough. 

There was no strength in his body due to years of being sedentary.

It wasn’t something he considered when he arrived at this city, determined to change himself into somebody strong.

Now this was a problem in his bitter reality.

 

He didn’t have strength to keep up with the group training. So he was told to train more and catch up.

 

Light knows how he got accepted as a recruit here.

 

But he wanted to be strong. The strength to protect others. 

 

To do this he had to strengthen his body. To turn his whole being into a weapon.

 

His slow progress was infuriating. What was the point of abandoning the Way of the Leaf when he didn’t even get to pick out weapons like the others? His weak performance was a source of Ashley’s worries . . . when would he go to the armory and learn to fight?

 

Too exhausted to run, Ashley walked back to the dorms - feeling dissatisfied. Anxious. 

Fleeting thoughts, one chasing after the other, ran through his mind for some time.

 

"Ow, Ow!"

 

The next morning Ashley woke up to bright sunlight, alone.

He sat up, stretching the muscles that ached in the warmth; after his groans, how nice and quiet it was. 

 

Then he looked around unbelievingly. What was the time?

His roommates were gone already. To group exercise.

 

Ashley’s heart shook. It also showed on his face.

 

His expression was fearful.

 

Terror.

 

Definitely, something terrible awaited him.

 

He got changed out of his pajamas into the simple uniform, trying to be calm. The more panic, the slower the buttons.

 

After this Ashley started to run to the yard, despite the burning of his sore muscles, twisted stomach.

 

"Hah . . ." why didn’t anybody wake him?

How come more problems are piling on top of the other?

 

Ashley Wilkes

Trainee

 

Ooc: Assuming Aiden is the instructor here. Ashley is short, has dark eyes, dark hair. WS 1 really weak

Could be group exercise doing just warm ups, could go to the armory to pick out weapons, basic forms, the void or spring, wherever you want to take this Aiden :)

Edited by Lih-Lyh
Edited WS

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Aiden loved the early morning.  It had been a while since he'd had to wake up and do chores.  A horse ranch was always brimming with chores, but it had started the trend and even in the Tower Aiden was up before most of the others.  Old habits died hard.  It was also the time he could spend reflecting on all that had transpired before him.  His mother and father had graced these halls.  No one really knew that though, no one knew his true parentage, they'd both gone by alias' since he'd been born.  Sam and Cari - never married, and never really a couple.  Friends.  Not even with benefits most of the time.  

 

Lessons were part and parcel to this whole thing.  If he wasn't on the wall, practicing himself, he was training others.  It wasn't a bad life.  And he could keep his eye out for any potential who could be aligned with the Dark.  He didn't expect to find many, but Taylor's cousin Jesse was here and Tayln had died here.  Stupid boy he'd been.

 

Aiden didn't want to think of that as he watched his group of trainees arrive.  He was missing one.  Aiden almost had half a mind to go wake the boy himself.  A bucket of cold water.  A loud banging noise.  If he could play an instrument Aiden thought to himself.

 

"10 laps while we wait on your straggler.  You can thank him later."

 

The boy finally made it with a panicked look in his eye and puffing out breath when he stopped.  He looked like he needed a few laps himself.  "So glad of you to make it.  You think we can begin our class now."  Much like his mother he didn't like repeating himself.  Which was why he had waited.  "Join the others for the remaining 4 laps and then we'll learn something useful."

 

[[ You tell me what you'd like to learn.  My forms are rusty but I'm sure I can pick it back up quickly enough, but We can go to the armory, choose a weapon, learn basic care, maybe start the flame and void if that's what you want.  ]]

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Ooc: ooh, let's go to the armory! :laugh: maybe my fellow trainees would join in soon. Also, would love to learn about the flame and void. :)

 

"Join the others for the remaining 4 laps and then we'll learn something useful."

 

"Yes!"

 

After replying with that, Ashley charged into the back of the pack.

His fellow trainees were already running.

After noticing he was isolated by the boys around him, Ashley couldn't help but to feel cornered. A few wrinkles added to his unhappy expression.

 

Ashley kept running.

 

A good amount of time had already passed since their instructor, Aiden who wore the same no-nonsense face as usual, commanded him to join the others. The waste of time made bitter expressions on the other boys' sweat-stained faces. Ashley wondered how many laps they were made to do while waiting for him.

 

"Hah . . . I'm . . . sorry!" 

 

Finally, around the corner of the park on their 4th lap, he had enough strength to speak.

As he was now, with his body heavy, he had this disturbing thought. Because of him, everybody got in trouble.

 

Ashley Wilkes

Trainee

 

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OOC: Hello folks. Sure hope you don't mind me jumping in. Will be nice to get RPing again. Note that I am a bit rusty, but will do my best. Raen's WS is 4, based on approved bio, in case I need to mention that. Armory works. Weapons are good. Definitely interested in flame and void.

 

###

 

Everything had moved so fast. Perhaps that's what she got for having arrived so early. There had barely been light in the sky when she had arrived to be "interviewed" and assessed. She had felt like one of the horses her father would examine before purchasing for the caravan. For a moment, her chest tightened. That was her old life. Without her father, and without the man she would have married, that life was past. Taking a deep breath, she focused on the present.

 

Loraen "Raen" Wen stood patiently while eyes examined her. He had walked around her, gazing up and down her body. She wore loose breeches tucked into her boots and a short fitted coat, in her traditional Kandori fashion. She had been anxious that she might be denied entrance into the Warders as a female, but had been relieved to see other women about, even at that early hour. He had made a few considering sounds, and looking into her face, focusing on her patched left eye, grunted. She answered all his questions. Yes, she had basic sword and archery capabilities. Yes, she had ridden a horse. No, she was not running away from home. Yes, she was sure that this was what she wanted.

 

There were a few more grunts, some things mumbled under his breath, and he wrote something down in a book, before stating that she was accepted. She would be given a dorm room, but for now, was to report to the yard. Maybe being thrown straight into training was "punishment" because she had shown up so early.

 

With little direction, and her pack still slung over her shoulder, she made her way toward the yard. Perhaps it was best to hit the dirt running, and if this was to be how she began her path to becoming a Warder, so be it. She would throw herself into it with her whole heart. Turning the corner, she saw a small group gathered.

 

Taking a deep breath, she approached the man who appeared to be in charge. Another trainee was running laps. While she had just arrived and was already being sent to the yard, she resolved to do anything she was told to do. "I was instructed to come to the yard," she said. "My name is Loraen Wen and I just arrived. What is it that I need to do?"

 

After years with her father's caravan, interacting with the guards, she was used to the sights and sounds of training. And they had taught her a great deal. But there were no familiar faces her. This was a new path to a new life. She stood tall waiting for whatever was assigned.

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Ahh, his stomach hurt.

He put his hand on his stomach. Why did it hurt so much?

 

Ashley walked with exhaustion. His feet felt heavy, so heavy. Was this his limit already? He breathed out, as if to let loose the feelings piling up inside him.

 

So hot.

 

Sunshine filled the familiar landscape of the courtyard where they practiced. It was mid-day, today was another hot day.

 

He stood next to a girl, new girl he'd never seen before, garbed in a fitted coat and loose breeches. He would have remembered the eye patch, the capable way of walking. Ashley caught her name, Loraen Wen. 

 

Loraen Wen, just arrived.

 

This was somebody who didn't think he was a burden for being late to class.

 

At this thought, he was happier. In fact his whole body felt light. He turned his gaze to Aiden, waiting for instruction.

 

Ashley Wilkes

Trainee

Edited by Lih-Lyh
grammar

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Aiden watched as they trainees ran laps.  They wouldn't do anything to their straggler with in view of any of the other guards, but there was no telling what they'd do when they were alone.  Hopefully nothing too bad.  But it was the only way they were going to learn to work as a team.  It was something the all learned and they learned it early.  Consequences of one lead to consequences for all.

 

At least they weren't his mother's students.  Mother would let them sleep all day and then it was worse for every hour.  For every hour beyond wake up the harder the day.  And the earlier the next morning.  But that was something to think about later as the trainees all came up to him.    There were 5 kids in total.  And each one looked less in shape than the last ending with the boy who'd slept in.  Things could change rapidly.

 

"Today we head to the armory.  And if you can follow instructions you might get to pick out a weapon."

 

A sixth kid showed up, travel worn and still dressed in traveling gear.  Aiden nodded.  "Come as you are."

 

Aiden remembered a story his mother told of one kid knocking over the racks in the armory.  And another who got burnt on the forge.  

 

There was excitement in their eyes at the mention of actually picking up a weapon but they had a little bit of work to do before that would happen.

 

The armory was huge in comparison to the one he'd grown up in.  But even Aiden had worked the bellows - except he made horseshoes and barrel rings, not weapons.  Aiden lead the trainees in through the rows of weapons racks into the back of the armory and out into the area behind it.  "I have a new batch of trainees."  

 

There was a slight woman behind the forge.  Aiden smiled.  This woman had made his mother's swords, and Demus dagger.  It had been a special gift.  His mothers sword still sat in the box in his room along with her fancloak.  One day he might be a Warder, but until then he kept it safe.

 

She came across and looked at the ragged bunch of kids behind him six now in total.  Let's see what you can do.  She pointed at the new girl.  "You can work this set of bellows while I show you the weapons you may choose of steel."  And she pointed at the straggler, the one who made them run laps.  "You can pump the other ones."

 

Aiden smiled perfect choices.  Loari set out to making a sword.  She told the trainees how important it was to choose a weapon that fit them just right.  She told them about forging steel and how tempering it made them stronger.  Loari went on about the sharpening of the blade.  All metaphors for becoming a great warrior.  Achet hadn't spoken any of these words while he made Aiden pump the bellows.  It was his mother in doctrining the same words to him and his sister.  He and Kate sat at a similar pair of bellows heating and cooling the coals just as Achet dictated while mother lectured almost word for word what the blacksmith here had said.  It was a script they wrote - a script everyone probably would know by heart.  Aiden knew he did.  

 

The sword is forged to be strengthened by water.  It is sharpeneed and cared for with diligence.  Without either it would break.  And a tower guard was if nothing but like a sword.

 

[[ I'll let you surmise what she said.  After this I promise you can look at weapons. ]]

 

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The sound of sledge hitting the anvil pulled Ashley back to reality. He was now in the armory. The lady blacksmith named Loari was waving her hands as she explained the forging of various steel blades. Flustered, Ashley quickly reached for the long handle and pumped the bellows as indicated. This baked heat didn’t sit well with him because it led his thinking away from class. In this place where the breeze of the courtyard failed to reach, the smell of metal and the surrounding noisy environment made him feel faint. He gave an exhausted and relieved smile once Loari worked both sides of the blade into a red, rough shape and said it was OK to cool by air until it was soft enough to file at the roughness.

 

He had slept a lot already, but his body felt tired, reluctant. He listened in silence as Loari spoke words; she compared the trainees to weapons soft enough to be molded, yet tempered to be strong and sharp, but not brittle. Recently he had thought a lot about why he wanted to learn how to fight, since he felt his own impotence and helplessness - it was only natural to want to be strong.

 

However, he was falling behind his classmates physically, also in knowledge. He had no idea what the difference was between dagger and sword besides the look and heft. Life as a tinker he never looked closely at weapons, and it was odd to think they were going to pick weapons that suit them well. What was the right fit? His fighting style?  How could he support and protect others when they were stronger than him?

 

There was an urgency to learn, a new determination to be here; if only he didn't reach his limit so easily . . . he sighed in the armory too small to be detected by the two instructors and his fellow trainees.

 

Ashley Wilkes

Trainee

 

 

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Loraen was relieved when the instructor told her to come as she was. Securing her pack to her back, she got in step with the others. All males it seemed, but she was rather used to being the lone female in the crowd. Her father had her travel with his caravan to train her to become a merchant. Alas, that was no longer her path. She focused on the path before them.

 

When they arrived at the armory, they were greeted by a small woman working the forge. She smiled faintly. If she had seen the woman out walking in the streets, she would not have likely suspected her trade. It was a reminder to not assume, and to see beyond the exterior.

 

Her dark eye quickly scanned the array of weapons, until she was instructed to work a bellows. She did not hesitate, but stepped forward and began to pump, trying to emulate the motion and speed she had seen the woman doing as they had arrived. One of the other trainees were directed to the other bellows. She watched him grab the handle and pump as well. He seemed deep in thought as he performed the task. Briefly wondering what he was thinking about, she heard the woman speak, and turned to watch her.

 

Maintaining the motion and pace, she listened to the woman. She described how fire and water strengthen the blade. The sharpness needed to be maintained. It took dedication. Without proper attention the blade would break, it would fail. Loraen listened, but found that her heartbeat seemed to have joined in unison with the bellows. In, beat. Out, beat. She was listening to her own heart beating as she continued the task. She listened to the woman, but again she briefly examined the weapons, then looked at the other trainees, wondering what had led them to choose to be Warders.

 

The woman's voice drew her back in. What weapon would she choose? She had received some basic sword training from the guards while traveling with the caravan. She knew about balance and grip. However, she would not assume that she knew exactly what they wanted her to know, so she listened for instruction, direction, so that she could enforce what she knew and expand on it.

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The trainee's mostly listened well.  There was a lot of zoning in and out.  And had this been a single student there would have been a lot more work.  But with a group this size it was difficult and Mistress Loari didn't have enough work for all of them to do.  

 

Aiden gave the woman a nod and smiled and spoke over the clanging of another forge nearby.  "Now the fun part.  Follow me."

 

Aiden lead them back through into the rows of weapons already forged by Mistress Loari and the other blacksmiths.  There were long swords, and short swords, daggers and quarterstaffs, bows, crossbows, there were great swords, axes of plenty.  Aiden remembered the day he'd gotten to choose his very own weapon.  He'd been five.  He picked up a short sword and his mother had nodded.  Each item in their tiny armory had been forged for specific purposes.  That short sword still sat at home, hung on a wall.  Aiden had never trained with it.  His mother immediately put him and Kate to work on the quarterstaff.  And then the bow and then finally they were allowed to touch a blade.  Each weapon was given to them when they had mastered it.  

 

Choosing a weapon here was a great act of respect.  "Today you choose a partner.  Yes I said a partner, but not one that will return your love and your care.  No it will provide you protection.  You will care for it and if it fails you, it is no fault but your own.  Each weapon is suited to a different personality.  And a different fighting style.  You may be allowed to choose additional weapons, but choose wisely now, the choice you make now shapes the training you receive.  Sword forms are sword forms but tactics are different for each one."

 

Aiden took a chair and sat by the far door.  "I want you to pick three weapons, I want you to think about each choice, and come tell me why you think you should train with each one."  Aiden chuckled to himself.  "And mind the big ones, they are heavy, please don't knock over the racks, you don't want to be stuck cleaning the armory for Mistress Loari with your toothbrush."

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Following Aiden, the six of them filed out of the forge and toward the racks of weapons. The boys talked and joked and boasted and laughed. He toyed with the idea of trying to be like the other boys, but he didn’t find any of their jokes funny. He smiled, however, thinking of Aiden’s excellent joke. Aiden’s lessons were peppered here and there by a wry humor which Ashley appreciated. If a lesson was entertaining people would retain it longer in their memories. All the better if the other boys thought the smile was for one of their jokes.

 

He admired the serious way the girl paid attention to the class and the easy confident manner with which she handled herself. So lucky it was her first day and she already got to choose a weapon. Not just one, but three! 

 

Flustered not wanting to stare at the girl, Ashley turned to examine the weapons on the wall. He had already looked over the ones closest to him; dismissed the larger poleaxes and quarterstaffs. He chose a sword from the assorted weapons hanging on the wall. It was a sword with a short, narrow blade. Ashley felt the grip of the sword and didn’t pay much attention to what went on around him. Due to its relative lightness, he could swing the sword with one hand; his body moved slightly, pulled by the point of the sword. His body movements weren't smooth.

 

He nodded wordlessly, setting down the short sword carefully, picking the next weapon up with even more care. A curved dagger. The hard build of the dagger made it clear that it was an offensive weapon. For the sake of convenience, the length wasn’t very long. The handle fitted well into his hand. Its bite resembled a claw. He wondered if he should choose a straight blade instead. Its clawed tooth could catch on something, making it more difficult to remove. Against his reason, Ashley decided he liked the look of its wicked curve. Its foreign appearance had caught his imagination.

 

He was ready for Aiden.

 

“A big, long weapon wouldn’t suit my body build. This short sword I can swing with one hand, which is useful for freeing up my other hand.” He gestured to the steel dagger, glinting dangerously “this is needed for close quarters in places where you have to sheathe your sword. You can use a knife however you like.”

 

Then using both hands, he barely lifted a heavy weapon, an axe. This was after some deliberate thought as to the working attitude he liked, “I don’t think heavy weapons suit me. I’d like to focus my training on speed. But I want to know how to handle the weight, and fight through in my own way.” He continued with enthusiasm "I also like that you can chop wood with this.” 

 

It was his first joke since he joined. Well, he had to start somewhere.

 

Ashley Wilkes

Trainee

Edited by Lih-Lyh

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Aiden grinned at the joke the first trainee who brought him their weapons.  He admired the grit.  The boy was frail but he was determined to prove himself.  "Well done.  What's your name?"  Unlike his mother he wasn't going to dismiss names.  She didn't care.  It was a wonder she remembered their names.  Some days it was good that she remembered her own name.

 

The boy offered up his name and Aiden nodded.  "Well Recruit Ashley you might want to pick up some weights, or I could set you a regime of workouts that are two fold."  Aiden remembered hearing stories from his mother about setting trainees to helping build the various buildings.  Lifting rocks and carrying them from one place another - only to be told to do it again but back where it had come from.  Sometimes the piles disappeared.  His own strength training had been similar - except it was hay bails and water buckets from across the yard to water the horses.  There were no wasted training moments with his mother.  Not one, and Aiden believed these raw recruits deserved the same care.

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Following the others to the rows of weapons, she immediately focused on the swords and the bows. It was these that she had some familiarity with. Still, she knew she needed to be willing to broaden her knowledge. While most of the other boys had clustered together, joking with each other and daring each other to pick certain weapons that were obviously too large for them, she noticed that the young man who had been working the other bellows was more solitary. Maybe he was newer like herself and had not yet formed a close bond with the other trainees.

 

She was well aware that she was short and slight. A large weapon would not serve her well. Over time she might be able to grow in skill to wield it, but she was not confident in that. Glancing at Ashley who was making his way carefully through their options, Loraen walked to the quarterstaffs. She grabbed one that was taller than she was and lifted it. There was weight to it, but not unmanageable. This was a weapon that could serve multiple purposes, and would be something new to learn. Next, she went to the swords, careful to navigate around the other trainees. When they glanced at her, she nodded in greeting, but was engrossed in the task at hand. She found two short swords and lifted them in unison, one in each hand. The grips felt just right. The weight would be easy to move. It felt a bit more awkward in her left hand, her arm unsure of the motion, but she had made her choices, and hoped they would work.

 

Turning, she found Ashley presenting his weapons to their instructor. When he was done giving his reasoning, she showed her own choices.

 

Hefting up the quarterstaff, she placed it firmly beside her. "I would like to learn to use the quarterstaff. It can be used for multiple purposes, including attack and defense. I have never used one before and would like the challenge."

 

"If I need to choose another weapon, I can do so, but I think learning to fight with two blades my serve me well," she explained. Though it should be obvious, and she hated to bring attention to it, she continued. "I have learned basic sword fighting, but a second blade to wield properly for my left side, may benefit me with the left being my blind side."

 

Unsure what else to say, she waited patiently to see if she would need to return one of the swords, or if that choice would be permitted. Regardless to his decision, she promised herself that she would learn to double wield, even if she had to do it on her own.

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Aiden nodded.  He too used dual blades, though it was more he'd learned to use the dagger in his left hand so that he could dual wield if necessary.  "You might want a shorter blade on your secondary weapon if you find that the forms are too difficult to complete without your blades hitting each other.  It will also be lighter and thus easier to move. But you can have the blade modified later, I'm sure Mistress Loari will be happy to accommodate you."

 

Aiden had also learned on the quarter staff and thought it was an excellent choice.  "A quarterstaff is an excellent tool to learn to use.  When you've mastered it, you can pick up any old random stick or length of anything really and use it well.  It's only draw back is close quarters fighting.  You make an awful mess in a tavern brawl."  Not that Aiden had ever been in an brawl, though he had saved plenty from themselves before starting on in his years in the yard.  

 

The other four trainees came to him as well with their choices and Aiden offered him his observations.  One decided to try a two handed great sword despite the fact he could barely carry it over to Aiden.  He needed to be stronger, and when Aiden suggested it, he was more than happy to take on extra strength training.  He was one of those types.  Wanted to be big and strong, probably was the smallest kid around for most of his short lived life.

 

"Now that you've chosen a weapon.  I want to choose your primary and I want you to take it everywhere with you.  Strap it to your body as if you know how to use it.  You will care for it and tend it everyday.  This is now an extension of your body.  I want all of you to take your weapons except the primary back to your rooms, change into proper attire, and then meet me in the Ogier Grove in ten minutes.

 

[[ Flame and Void next.  Let me know when your post counts are met and so I know that we've at least completed what you need but we can keep on going. ]]

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With a straight back, Ashley clearly delivered his name. 

 

“Thank you for your help, sir” Ashley was happy with his evaluation. And it meant much more to him since it came from Aiden. In spite of all his misgivings, Ashley was having a lot of fun watching his classmates.

 

First, the girl had detached herself from the group - hefting up a quarterstaff longer than she was tall. He observed with interest the scar on her left arm when the sleeve of her fitted jacket shifted up. Between the eyepatch and scar he wasn’t shocked when she mentioned her experience with weapons. The dual wielding part was surprising, though. It would definitely take a great deal of dexterity to fight with the left hand. The girl’s familiarity and strength with weapons impressed him. Ashley would like to get close to her so she could help teach him.

 

Other than this, out of the others, there was another trainee Ashley noted was remarkable. The boy was a shrimp, even shorter than Ashley, but had chosen a heavy two handed sword as his primary. Instead of pity for the pipsqueak Ashley felt respect. Not only had that boy ran faster than Ashley, that boy wanted to grow strong with a weapon this intimidating . . . Ashley thought he was with an incredible group of people who could make him stronger.

 

After their individual assessments from Aiden, they needed to take all the weapons except for the primary back to the dormitory. Ashley grinned. Thank the light he didn't choose cumbersome weapons. Some of the recruits were going to have to make two trips. 

 

Back in his room, Ashley changed into a new crisp uniform he found on his bed. Ten minutes wasn't nearly enough time to bathe, even though there was cold sweat beading on his forehead. He wondered if the girl needed longer than ten minutes to change out of her travel gear, and maybe she wouldn’t know where the grove was. 

 

He could help? He walked quickly toward the side of the dorms where girls were, not sure, but hoping he would see Loraen on his way to Ogier Grove.

 

The sound of the harness clasped around his waist accompanied his every step. What was inside the harness was the short sword he decided would be his primary weapon.

   

All he was sure of was that he was eager to start fighting. 

 

Ashley Wilkes

Trainee

 

Ooc: Raen up to you if you want your char to run into Ashley. I can write “his face fell” as easily if you don’t want to haha. Aiden thank you for teaching us; you’re a gem! I read the warder advancements but not sure how many posts are required. However, I am enjoying myself immensely in this thread. Assuming we’re staying in this same training thread for flame and void lesson? :D

Edited by Lih-Lyh

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Primary weapon. Her initial thought was to go with the short sword. Then she wondered if it would be better to go with one she was less experienced with so she would gain that much more experience. They would be trained in the others as well, surely. She felt a bit foolish in not considering the need for an even shorter blade for her left, but was excited that he had agreed, and explained what would be needed. She considered the quarterstaff. If she learned this, anything similar to it could be used in the same manner. Very useful. For now, she needed to find out about a room. She carefully placed the swords inside her pack at her back, so that she could clasp the quarterstaff in her hand.

 

Loraen moved over to the instructor. "I am eager to learn," she explained. "I was sent straight to you, and was not told of a room, or what is proper attire. I apologize for the inconvenience." If necessary she would carry her pack and all her weapons with her the rest of the day.

 

She watched as the other trainees attempted to gather their weapons. A few might need to make more than one trip. While she would have simply followed after them, they at least had a place to go to, and some semblance of an idea of what they were doing. Loraen did not like feeling so lost. Still, this was a beginning, and she would start at the bottom.

 

Mention of the Ogier Grove sounded interesting though she had to admit she did not know where that was. She hoped it would not take long to get used to things around here.

 

OOC: Hope you did not mind her getting a bit of instruction here as to where to go and what to wear, Matalina. Sorry about the slight delay in moving forward in training. Once she gets a room, I am fine with her running into Ashley. He can help her find the Ogier Grove. Thank you again for allowing me to join the thread, and for the training.

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Aiden was surprised no one had given Loraen any instructions beyond coming to her first lesson.  Things must have been busy.  Aiden nodded.  "This way.  You should have been assigned a room on your arrival.  The roster is on the wall in the barracks."

 

Aiden let the way to the barracks.  He remembered the first time seeing the large building.  It looked nothing like the White Tower.  Solid and grey and nothing fancy - purely built by man.  Aiden gave Loraen a quick tour, noting the common areas, baths and cafeteria.  

 

The list had her name on it.  Aiden pointed her in the direction of the girls wing and added.  "Proper attire should be laid on you bed.  Comfortable clothes, you can requisition better fit but usually they are spot on."  They had been for him anyway.  Aiden grinned.  "I will leave it to you to find your next destination.  Consider it part of your training."

 

Aiden left Loraen and headed towards a supply closet, he'd need a few supplies to take with him, the detour hadn't really be a detour since he was going that direction anyway.

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Ashley paced, tense. The clock was ticking and it wouldn’t take long for the other boys to start wondering where he was. And come looking for him with vengeance if he were late, and the group punished for his lateness twice today.

 

He looked around to see a fresh faced, uniform clad Loraen standing near outside one of the rooms; her new quarterstaff by her side. 

 

“Hey, Loraen. Good work so far. Which way?” Ashley asked, trying hard not to grin. He had gotten so lost before he worked hard and sketched out a map of where everything was on tower grounds. From his rough sketch it was difficult to tell how far to go, but it worked well in terms of general direction. He wondered if he had saved that sketch on his desk. "Just kidding."

 

“Come on,” he said, hurrying through to the entrance way and leading the way up the ramp to the left. All of the paths here looked constant and familiar; there were no particular markers to indicate the grove. They moved forward, around a grassy loop toward the west side. The landscape was gradually getting greener. The only sound was their thumping footfalls, and the gasping breaths as they moved - his shortsword felt heavy and awkward shifting in its leather harness, bumping awkwardly against his right hip.

 

They arrived at the grove with some time to spare, joining two of the boys and their instructor. It took another few minutes to regroup entirely. He looked at the Tower Guard blankly; in spite of all the surrounding trees, there was little shade to be had, this heat was making his skin prickle uncomfortably.

 

Ashley Wilkes

Trainee

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Loraen thanked Aiden as he led the way to the barracks. It was a large structure, and she tried to memorize as much as possible to make it easier to navigate on her own later on. He pointed out her name on the roster and gave directions to the girls wing. Part of her training would be finding her way to Ogier Grove. "I will be there right away," she replied, and dashed to find her room.

 

As he had stated, she found her room and clothes laying across the simple bed. Sitting her pack against the wall. Stripping of her traveling clothes that felt as though they had become a part of her, she used water in the basin beside the bed to quickly wash a bit before pulling on the fresh clothing. It fit very well. Perhaps that was part of the reason why she had been eyed so closely.

 

With a sigh, she looked at her weapons again, and considering what she would pick as her primary. She wanted to learn more about the sword, and especially about dual wielding, but she needed a challenge, and something newer would be harder. She grabbed up the quarterstaff and headed out from her room.

 

She made her way down the hall and around a corner and stood a moment trying to get herself situated in her mind. The boy who had worked the other bellow joined her. "Thank you." She looked him over and tried to remember hearing his name. "Ashley?" When he asked about which way to go, she started looking around, hoping she would see some clue to indicate direction. "I do not know." She was a bit relieved when he started showing the way.

 

As he led the way, she glanced around, looking for any clues or landmarks that would help her find the way in the future. She was sure that in time, walking these pathways would be second nature, done without thought. Gradually things became greener. She used the quarterstaff as a walking stick as they progressed to the grove, finding two of the other boys already there, standing with their instructor. "Thank you," she said to Ashley, standing straight, holding the quarterstaff in front of her with both hands, the tip pressed against the ground.

 

The trees surrounding them made this a peaceful spot. It was relatively quiet here. Loraen wondered if anyone ever came here to simply rest and find peace. She wondered if once their training started if there would be much time for rest. She looked to Ashley and saw a trickle of sweat appear on his face. "Good luck."

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When all of the others arrived Aiden sat them all down.  "Before you can ever begin to use your weapon you must learn to care for them.  And care for yourself."  Aiden looked at one of the late arrivals who was rather smelly.  "And then you must learn how to concentrate.  There are many methods in to which you can reach the oneness, ko'di, the flame and void is only but one method. "

 

Aiden sat down in a green tuft of grass and feed every emotion into the flame.  The void came quickly.  His voice sounded cool and without emotion as he started the instruction.  "Picture a single flame, in your mind.  Then feed your emotions into it.  Sometimes it helps to think of the emotion on a piece of paper and let it burn away as the paper burns up in the flame.  It will take some time as you push your emotions into the flame.  Everyone including pain, fear, hatred.  Feel nothing.  And when you are empty, the world becomes one with you.  You can feel each blade of grass at your finger tips.  Hear the birds individual calls.  You will feel one with your weapon once you have learned to grasp the void with ease."

 

Aiden opened his eyes and looked out at the trainees.  "Keep trying until you reach it.  We have all day."

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Good luck?

He was quite sure Loraen had sized him up thoroughly before she sat down.

 

He slid onto the grass beside her. Ashley looked up at Loraen's face in profile. He wondered what her eye looked like behind the eyepatch. Perhaps it was unfair, but those scars on one so young invited a curiosity he did not feel toward the others.

 

Her gaze, as it were, was fixed on Aiden who was sitting in front of them. Aiden was speaking with his eyes closed.

 

Eyes shut tightly, Ashley tried to picture the flame as a robust, roaring fire over coals, remembering the furnace at the blacksmith’s inside the armory. He was finding it quite easy to find his emotions, since he really was annoyed. He felt petulant like a child when faced with his weakness even among his peers. But it was hard to sustain the flames in his mind. The flame sputtered out time after time, distracted: the birdcalls, his busy thoughts, his achy muscles and now aching head. He thought they were going to play with the weapons that were to become extensions of themselves, not sit here and practice thinking. Or was it a practice in not thinking?

 

So hot. So annoying. His head hurt. He crushed a handful of the lush grass, feeling the sap drying on his fingers. This was when Aiden said, “Keep trying until you reach it. We have all day."

 

He opened his eyes and looked at Aiden as if he were insane. Feel nothing? All day? 

 

Then he looked around at the concentrating students and felt ashamed, small. 

 

Disgusted, he was determined not to bring trouble to the others. In his disappointment and despair he forgot that he would be dragging down the whole class. He closed his eyes to try one more time. He would try to hold the flame. Then he could worry about feeding his emotion into the flame. Then, empty like the void.

 

What was in him now? 

 

He tried to school his thoughts and emotions toward the flame. He thought of them as breezes to breathe life into the fire. It amused him to pretend he worked the bellows pumping air, fanning the flame. He trained that amusement into his flame; it grew bigger, hotter. His feelings of pain, of discomfort he imagined to be feather sticks that he and the tinkers shaved with their knives to provide kindling for the campfires. The repeated strokes in shaving the thin, gentle feathers had been calming, therapeutic, rote. His erratic breathing calmed as he supplied the bright orange flame with more air, more soft feather sticks. One more, one more, one more until he was all used up and had nothing left to give. 

 

He became sharply aware of the ogier grove. The breathing of the others. This was a tidy, well tended garden. A place of peace. A refuge.

 

In his surprise his shoulder bumped into Loraen's. 

 

“Ugh! Sorry,” he said, shying away.

 

Sighing at his own clumsiness, he imagined a flame. Again. Even though it could be called a success he was somewhat unhappy there had been so much with which to feed the flame.

 

Ashley Wilkes

Trainee

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OOC: I had posted a long post on my laptop several days a go, but apparently it never showed. And I am seeing the website very oddly on my laptop with a white background and bullet points rather than the correct formatting. Not sure how to fix it. So this won't be a great post as I'm on my phone, so I'll abridge what I had so we can move forward. Sorry for the delay.

 

***

 

Loraen listened carefully, wanting to learn all she could. Becoming a Warder was her chance to make something of her life, and to benefit others. The life that was to supposed to have been herself was no more.

 

The flame and the void. She had heard of it. Now she would learn to use it. Feed your emotions to it until there was nothing left. Where to start?

 

She closed her eyes and formed a flame in her mind. It was small at first. It would grow as she fed her emotions to it. What to give up first?

 

Fear. She grabbed fear and fed it to the fire. Fear of being on her own in an unfamiliar place. Fear of failure. Fear slowly faded.

 

Anger. She was angry at them all for leaving her. They had died, and left her to live, to carry on without them. Her mother first. Then her father. And then the man who would have been her husband. She fed the anger to the flickering flames.

 

The anger turned to sadness. She felt tears welling in her eyes and tried to hold them back. It was not long before they slid down her cheeks leaving moist trails in their wake. 

 

Ashley bumped against her and apologized. She grunted a reply, unsure she could control her emotions if she tried to speak. She knew she had to feed her sadness to the flame to find the void as instructed, and she refused to fail.

 

The pain of losing them was the hardest to release to the flames. At the core, it was this that had brought her here to begin with. But a little at a time, she fed the heartache to the fire. The flow of tears stopped, but she could feel the slight breeze on the moist trails.

 

She took a breath and was calm. Loraen realized she simply was. And she listened to the others around her shifting their positions and steadily breathing. She heard a bird sit singing in a nearby tree and another take to flight a little distant. Blades of grass brushed against her legs where she sat. 

 

She did not think of what had brought her here or where this path would lead. Loraen Sat quietly existing in that place as she waited for what would come next.

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[[ clear your cache, DM was having issues a few days ago it's probably just locked into the cache on your laptop ]]

 

They did have all day, but Aiden wanted to move on to teach them a little more than what was necessary for a straight up beginner, but it was fun, and it was an exercise in trust all the while learning to use the void.  He and Kate used to play it all the time when they were kids.

 

But first a simple lecture.  "Now that all of you have reached it, or have to keep trying either way.  Let your mind expand.  Feel the grass below you, the sky above you, the bird in the distance, find it sitting on the branch.  Know it's there.  And the rabbit under the bush."  

 

Aiden grinned as he spoke the instructions.  "First one to catch the rabbit, can walk home."  Aiden stood up and moved a few paces to the left and sat down against the tree.  This would be fun.  "Remember we are learning the Flame and the void."  He paused dramatically as he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned his head against the tree.  "Go."

 

[[ I have two more flame and void exercises.  Another one ties in with wilderness survival too.  I do not know my warder reqs as well as I used to. But you are all free to end with the rabbit if you want to. ]]

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Again! -To the east, again. 

 

Ashley growled a colorful oath and threw down his harnessed shortsword. He could smell damp grass. He snuck a look toward the center of the grove and tree where Aiden sat with practiced grace, placid. Ashley looked for a hint where the rabbit went. That dirty furball had heard him and another trainee rustling with their new weapons, heavy boots and scurried away from the intruders.

 

It was hard work to walk over the crackling branches. Even harder to resume flame and void. He flopped himself down and visualized the flame, again. Ugh, this was going to take some time.

 

Ashley Wilkes

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Catch the rabbit. But this was still flame and void. Was she reading too much into it? Initially, her eyes snapped open and she stood grasping her staff. There was more to this. Right?

 

Others began to chase after the rabbit. She took a step to join them, but stopped.

 

Loraen stood still. She didn't close her eyes, but her vision unfocused as she mentally looked within again. She sought out the flame. Finding the flickering internal flame she fed her doubt into it, seeking the void.

 

She took a deep breath and sensed the movement around her. Most was large and jerking about. That had to be the other trainees. She found a smaller shape, it's movement more of a flight. Small. Frightened. Where she stood, she slowly turned to face what she was sure was the rabbit.

 

When she opened her eyes, she saw the streak of fur headed toward her.  Was she to kill it? Just catch it?

 

As it moved to her she swung her staff down into its path. It jumped startled, and turned in her direction. Releasing the quarter staff, she grabbed for the rabbit, wrestling with it a moment. Grabbing it by the scruff of the neck, it wiggling in her grasp, she turned to Aiden. "What did you want to do with it?"

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Aiden watched from half closed lids as the trainees chased rabbits.  The accomplishment of being able to do so was always heart lifting for the student.  Aiden remembered the first time he'd done the trick.  It hadn't been in an Ogier Grove.  No he'd been out in the woods outside the Ranch.  There was all sorts of critters.  Aiden thought to be clever and catch the most stationary one.  Turned out it was a skunk and Aiden came home smelly.  His mother nearly died laughing.  His sister was giggling hysterically.  Everyone else was trying very hard to hide their laughter.

 

Aiden rolled his eyes at the memory.  It had been a triumphant moment tarnished with the stench of skunk.  These kids had it easy Aiden grined as the only girl was the first to utilize the tools at hand and caught the rabbit.  "Excellent!"  Aiden took the rabbit from her hands and with one quick motion broke its neck. Some kids cried at the action.  But Aiden took his dagger from his belt and started skinning the now dead rabbit.  "There is enough for all of us."  

 

Most of the other boys, at least the four who had tormented Ashley looked on in horror at eating the rabbit they had caught.  Little rich kids probably.  "I'm having this rabbit for dinner anyone who wishes to join me may."

 

[[ your choice.  lesson over.  I think everyone should have credit for something.  ]]

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