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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Lih-Lyh

The Path of Thinking (Open)

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                Merdyn’s eyes goggled at Lillian Sedai’s explanation on Linking and her own experiences. It all seemed to be the opposite of what he had learned about Channeling. It also put things into perspective, helped him understand the past a little better. It had been whispered around the Black Tower that the Breaking originally happened because the Aes Sedai at the time thought they had found a power source that both sexes could draw upon. The idea was that it could circumvent the limits placed on humanity by the separation of the One Power’s masculine and feminine aspects.

 

                Upon first hearing that tale, Merdyn refused to believe it. The One Power was capable of so many things already, why should it bother anyone that it took both halves of the Power to truly work wonders? Humanity should just be happy that such a tool was available to them. Upon hearing Lillian’s explanation, however, those old questions didn’t hold much ground. It seemed to Merdyn that, logically, there should be a way to touch both halves of the Source regardless of gender. If there really wasn’t a way to accomplish that, then why were they able to feel the opposite force when Linking? And for that matter, why could men sense women channeling, or at least feel it when they embraced Saidar? There was something there that they were missing…

 

                Merdyn rose from their table and walked outside, Lillian and Nox in tow. He wasted no time in asking more questions, “So, I can feel Saidar when we are linked… Can I actually see the flows and the weaves too? Light, what a useful skill to have! How large can we make a circle? Is there a limit? If not, we should just unite both of the Towers now, Link up, and kick some Darkfriend fannies!”

 

                Excitement bubbled inside of Merdyn, he was very close to bouncing on his feet. He looked anxiously from Lillian to Nox, and back to Lillian, “How do we start? What do I do? Should I embrace Saidin? Oh, this is so exciting!”

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There was something in Nox’s face that made Lillian pause. She tipped her head up and glanced in contemplation at the Asha’aman. Something was awry. She could tell from the look on his face that he was disconcerted, but Nox managed to follow them outside.

 

She moved away, turned then called back. “This area is good.” 

 

She slowly turned in a circle to take in the scene. It was not a pretty place, and didn’t look at all special, but it had a sort of cold beauty, Lillian conceded. She spun on one of the higher places and looked down over the sprawl across the green slopes. The sky was a flat, bright grey-blue along the horizon, particularly in the south toward the farm itself, where dirty crusts of rocks pushed up in the air, the mosaic of stone-tiled rooftops crosscut by the mouldering stone of the maze of alleys, the warrens of the black tower. A secure town with encircling fortifications made from natural quarries of rocky areas around its valley site, designed to ward off storms and attacks.

 

And that was what was coming, drawn inexorably towards them . . .

 

It brought up in her mind central Saldaea - great, solid Saldaea crafted with the principles of defense uppermost in mind - and how hard that had been to hold onto, the months of fighting they’d had in the rocky terrain, just northeast of Maradon and above the Plain of Lances. That kind of full-scaled war, and these people would have to defend this town.

 

Lillian looked around at the staring people who’d come to a sudden halt around them. Some hurried to some distance away, then resumed staring at the trio. Maybe it was the chill wind gusting in, but a few of the bystanders flinched and pulled their clothes close. 

 

Thinking over what Merdyn had asked, Lillian pondered over the contrasts and comparisons that could be made between their respective styles. There were certainly similarities, but the intent behind their training as well as the way they thought about using one power was different, creating distinction between the two. Lillian could understand theory and technique well enough, but she needed to devote more time to practice in order to understand it with her body, to be so well practiced it became a part of her.

 

“Yes, it’ll no longer be unseen flows when we link. As for what you should do, there are similarities, but it may be easier to simply explain how I link first,” Lillian smiled as she stared at the dirt path ahead of them. 

 

“Please assume the void and put yourself on the brink of seizing the source. Please don’t instinctively battle saidar for control - and as it were -  you need to guide saidar gently but fight saidin at the same time. This takes some getting use to.” 

 

Soon Merdyn figured it out and she fought saidin for control as it poured into her. Also, an awareness of sorts came upon her, and she could faintly feel the emotions of the man she was linked with. She calmly ignored the overwhelming exhalation and fear coursing through her body. Those were not her feelings. 

 

She nodded as the other got comfortable with his control, letting Merdyn draw power from her body. Lillian then extended a slender arm to Nox in a ‘come here' gesture.

 

“Nox, please try to enter into the link. You need to see for yourself, and unless there are two of you I cannot lead any flows to demonstrate.”

 

With Nox added to their circle, Lillian took control of the link as passed to her, ignoring once more the strong, resonated feelings from her link partners. 

 

Because of the mens’ strength, the power density had increased to a level she wasn’t expecting. It hadn’t reached the level of when she linked with her sisters in battle against the shadow, but she was also experiencing a greater amount of Saidar being produced by herself. She no longer knew what her expression as, or what her body looked like to others. She focused on the power stirring within.

 

She quickly sorted the messy flows of saidar and gathered the source to her, feeling the power increase in her veins as she channelled. Lillian wove a ball of fire with saidar in front of them. Next, she drew power from the two men and formed a fireball from saidin, of similar size and intensity. “Both of these are equal, made with just one half of the power each. This,” she formed a new fireball from both powers of the source, “uses exactly the same amount of the one power as the other two, look.” Despite using half as much of each power, the new ball of fire burned larger and brighter than either of the other two.

 

Lillian said, “when saidar and saidin are used together, a kind of synergy occurs. Most weaves are formed differently, even for a simple fireball. However, I’m able to weave first with saidar and then reinforce the flows with saidin. Please feel free to try this yourself.” 

 

The white sister let the weaves dissipate, and - breathing deeply as she did so - passed the control of their circle back to Merdyn. It was the only way they could learn.

 

The men could hold the new flows, study its feelings, or try to weave saidar. She’d let them draw on her power, her strength as patiently, as long as they were linked.

 

Her body and mind were both strong, calm.

 

Ooc: after Merdyn and Nox both try handling saidar, and you can definitely do any weave you want. At some point, Lillian will ask one of them to try to form the weave for a gateway and explain how they weave saidin. Lillian will feel a little surprised at the different way men wove gateways for Travelling. Then maybe reinforce the Travelling weave by feeding it with saidar? I’ll leave it up to you. But I imagine the gateway made with both halves of the source would be wide enough for an army with your talents and skills. Destination wherever you like. xD

Edited by Lih-Lyh

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                Merdyn wasn’t ready. The day had been filled with so many experiences, he was sure this next one would’ve just been another to add to the pile of the day. But no, Linking was more than a shock for him. Lillian Sedai had led the three of them off to the side and seemed to take a moment to herself.

 

                How many times had she been here? She looked around them, taking it all in, but Merdyn couldn’t tell if she was admiring it for the first time or for the tenth. People had begun to stare openly. A few had done that inside the Soup Kitchen, but there were many more eyes out here and many more that hadn’t known an Aes Sedai was in their immediate vicinity. Merdyn scanned the faces and smiled at them all. A few noticed that and quickly went about their business.

 

                Lillian Sedai began instructing them and the hairs on the back of Merdyn’s arms stood straight up. He assumed she would embrace the Source, although he hadn’t been sure when. The Void came easy for him, especially after having been taught at the Black Tower for months, if not years. Wandering thoughts approached his mind, but they just seemed to glide by, never really touching his consciousness; almost like a bird skimming a pond in search of dinner.

 

                Noises and voices touched his ears, Merdyn ignoring them all and not really hearing them, except Lillian’s. Merdyn opened himself to the Source and had to force himself not to grab hold of the torrential energy. It was second nature to him now and the sheer effort it took not to actually touch the Source was enough to bring him close to shattering the Void. This was hard. Much harder than he first anticipated.

 

                Something strange happened. Merdyn wasn’t exactly sure what he did, or if he even did anything. He was now holding the Source, Saidin raging, trying desperately to flee from his grip, and then there was this other feeling… Calm… Serene… Merdyn let out a loud gasp as he realized what he was feeling.

 

                “You can feel it,” Merdyn exclaimed almost to himself. A rush of excitement and a slow bubble of fear came upon him. He did not dwell on either for too long, all of his attention was needed to maintain his hold on both powers.

 

                There was something else there too. Feelings. Though they weren’t his own. There was a sense of calm pleasure. That had to be Lillian Sedai. If he could feel her, then it must work the other way? Would he feel Nox too once he entered the Link? How did the Aes Sedai handle all of this? The experience was becoming increasingly overwhelming for Merdyn, though he refused to let it show through.

 

                Nox entered the Circle with little effort and Merdyn gasped again as a light impression of his teacher’s emotions entered the back of his head. Nox didn’t seem like he wanted to participate in this… So why was he doing it?

 

                Control of the Link left Merdyn, although once again, he wasn’t sure if he did that or if it was Lillian Sedai. It was becoming increasingly apparent that he would have to practice much more with this if he was ever to feel confident in the act.

 

                Lillian Sedai wove three different fireballs, Merdyn’s favorite, and he was left speechless over the sight of the third flaming orb. He never considered himself power hungry, oh he enjoyed wielding authority, but he never sought it out for the sake of having it; however, seeing what the two halves of the Source could do together… well… Merdyn started to understand why some men grew to crave power. If one person were able to wield both halves of the Source without the aid of another person or an object of the One Power… well… Perhaps it was best not to think about the possibilities.

 

                Merdyn was surprised that he wasn’t more awestruck at actually seeing Saidar and the weaves that it made. It looked almost exactly like Saidin, although there were ways to tell the two apart. Even the weaves didn’t look much different, although the actual layout of the weaves was indeed different. Merdyn tried to take a mental snapshot of the way a fireball was woven with Saidar, he would know how to weave his trademark in both powers.

 

                The link came back to him without warning, although he suspected Lillian would pass it back to him first. Nox had presumably done all of this before. Merdyn’s legs almost gave out as the two conflicting feelings surged through his body at full force. There was so much power! Much more than he had ever held. It was almost unbearable.

 

                This would definitely take lots of practice.

 

                Drawing more deeply on Saidin, Merdyn wove a fireball above his head and held the weave. A bright flame popped into existence, about the size of Merdyn’s fist. He tried to pull at Saidar, but nothing budged and the flame remained constant.

 

                Maybe…

 

                Merdyn battled at Saidin, trying to will an opening for Saidar; trying to let the female half of the Source bathe its light on his weave of Saidin. He didn’t know what else to do. Nothing was happening. He pushed and shoved at Saidar, but it didn’t budge. So instead he focused his attention on the Void.

 

                The flame overhead suddenly doubled in size as Merdyn felt a strong current of energy flow through his body. Saidar. His back shuddered as his weave of Saidin pulsed with a new, secondary light. He let the weave go and it faded. Merdyn immediately wove another fireball, although this time with Saidar. It took him five attempts, but he finally got the thing right as a new flame appeared overhead, although slightly smaller than the first one.

 

                Saidin raged as Merdyn forced the male half of the Source to his will. It came easier with Saidin, the energy rushing into the weave of Saidar. The flame again doubled in size as the two halves of the Source synergized. Merdyn held the weave for a few moments, taking note of the way it felt. Both Saidar and the two becoming one. It was incredible.

 

                Merdyn dropped the weave and looked to Lillian Sedai and then Nox, “Wicked!” Merdyn’s eyes were the size of saucer plates, as much as he tried not to goggle. He wasn’t very successful, however. With an effort, Merdyn passed the Link to Nox.

 

                “That was amazing! I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have any more people in the Link, there was so much of the Power to handle. I think I’d like to practice more with this. The potential applications for this are countless! Imagine healing with a very large circle! Can death be healed with a circle? There’s just so much power! It feels like you can do anything, especially with the two halves of the Source! Oh, we must win the Last Battle. If the two Towers can weather it, and somehow come to work more closely, why I think we may even bring a new Golden Age for humanity. And Saidar is so… gentle compared to Saidin. I am shocked.” Merdyn told the pair. The events of today, despite the depressing reprive earlier, had left him feeling very hopeful for the future.

Edited by Oddpositions

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This was not something Nox really wanted to do.  The fear coursed through his veins even as he stepped up.  He couldn't stop it.  But he'd never let anything get in the way of his learning or his training and linking was not a requirement but it was thing that he should learn.  It might be required of him one day to fight in the last battle.

 

Nox watched what happened with Merdyn first and then succumbed to the same thing.  His fear only increased even with the calmness.  He could feel the others, and that meant they could feel him, which only made the paranoia and the anxiety worse.  Nox did everything he was told.  He watched in awe the difference, but the awe never eclipsed the fear.  Nothing would until he was back in his home, in the comfort of his things, his safe place.  He wasn't safe here.

 

Merdyn formed his own fireballs and Nox watched how things happened, he felt the differences.  Though he didn't really know if he could do it.  And then the power was given to him without much warning.  He took the link.  He couldn't think so he did what came naturally and bored a while in the pattern and formed the beginnings of the gateway.  The destination was Tear, the Black Towers gateway grounds where recruits came in from.  Home, safe.  It was the only other place he felt at ease, it was his second home.  Nox didn't think about what might happen with the other side of the power.  "I don't know what to do with the female side."  It wasn't something he really understood.  It was gentle and he wanted to force it like with saidin.  But it didn't listen.  It slipped from his fingers like water.  It wasn't like saidin.

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There was a long break, a long pause, in their conversation as the men practiced.

 

Lillian was almost impressed as Merdyn played with the fireballs. The dedicated was not only skilled, but he was strong in the element. 

 

Then it was Nox’s turn. He seemed unsure if he was able to draw on saidar.

 

She was silent for a moment, considering. The power they had in common, the one power, was not native to any of them, but perhaps Lillian’s grasp of it was better than the asha’amen at this time due to experience. 

 

Culturally, their worlds could not have been more different. Lillian did not expect them to understand, though they were not stupid, it was just different. She struggled to find the words.

 

She closed her eyes and thought hard for a moment, as if she was dredging up from a deep part of her mind, something she had deliberately blocked. At last she sighed. 

 

“We… do what we do. We embrace the source, and accept it. This means surrendering, relinquishing ourselves to saidar. All female aes sedai study this philosophy toward saidar and learn its principles, which then direct us as the guiding philosophy of our lives. Its wisdom informs our tactics, its strength reinforces our arms, its clarity focuses our minds.”

 

She shrugged and looked around at them. “You do what you do. But to fight hard against saidar the way you fight saidin won’t get you anywhere. To control it you must let go first. We live, and work foremost by this principle.”

 

Lillian stood back with a half-smile. She hoped it made sense. 

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                “Is that what I did?” Merdyn asked Lillian Sedai thoughtfully. His lips pursed and he brought a finger up to tap on his chin. A few moments prior he tried to force Saidar to his will but to no avail, then it just happened. He went on, “I all but gave up trying to make it… well, you know… It is different than Saidin… I focused on the void, remaining calm, not trying to make Saidar go any which way and then,” He snapped his fingers, “It fell into place. Surrender to it. What a novel concept. Of course, that is what you would have to do with Saidar! They’re opposites, I don’t know why I didn’t think of that sooner.”

 

                Merdyn was feeling pretty smug at that moment; if only because he was showing this Aes Sedai that a member of the Black Tower could keep up with the way Aes Sedai thought. True, she had to explain it all to him, but he had no trouble grasping the meaning behind it.

 

                Turning to Nox, Merdyn looked at him questioningly, “Do you wanna try again? The feeling of the two merging was… incredible.” The questioning look turned to a goofy smile, Merdyn trying to soften things up. He noted that Nox hadn’t said much since Merdyn had that emotional breakdown just a few moments ago. Could that be related? Did Merdyn make him uncomfortable somehow? Or was it Lillian Sedai? Or maybe the Linking?

 

                Either way, Merdyn noticed Nox was off and he didn’t like it.

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Anxiety, linking, anxiety.  And then the concept of surrendering...

 

Nox couldn't do it.  He wouldn't surrender.  Not to anything.  He'd done it once in his life time over and over again.  No he wouldn't.  It made sense, but he wasn't going to.  He didn't want to do this in the first place.

 

Merdyn asked him if he wanted to try again.  Even his smile didn't make Nox feel any better or like trying again.  He shook his head. "No.  No, I can't."  He took a few steps back and kept shaking his head.  Too much.  "I have to go."  

 

Nox didn't wait for either of them to respond as he let go of the power but it didn't go, it was held firmly by someone else.  Nox started to panic.  He was trapped.  He collapsed into a fetal position on the ground muttering No, no, no, no.

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                Merdyn’s jaw dropped and eyes goggled as Nox rushed away, then collapsed to the ground. Without thinking, Merdyn rushed over to Nox, bending over to make sure he hadn’t fainted, or worse, dropped dead. He was alive, thank the Light, but he was muttering the same word over and over.

 

                “no, no, no, no.”

 

                Drawing on Saidin had no effect, Lillian Sedai still held the Link and even if Merdyn held it, he still wasn’t that great at healing. Adrim had warned him once… You could kill someone when attempting to Heal if you didn’t know what you were doing. Merdyn panicked and turned to Lillian, screaming for her.

 

                “I need you now Lillian Sedai! Please tell me you’re good at Healing! I don’t know what’s wrong with Nox, but he’s freaking out about something. Release the Link! We need to get him back to his house!” Merdyn’s voice was shaky at best, but it carried well.

 

                Merdyn placed a hand on Nox’s arm, trying to reassure him, the other hand moving to brush Nox’s hair from his face. Merdyn felt his own body tremble at the sight of his teacher helpless on the ground. It all felt too much like the Trolloc attack.

 

                Not again… Merdyn thought.

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Saidin raged inside of him but he couldn't let go.  He couldn't get out.  He wanted to release it, it was going to devour him alive and then like that it was gone.  Released.  Nox's visibly relaxed and he slowed the muttering.  His breath calmed but he didn't move.  He couldn't move.

 

Merdyn was right there, so close - again.  So close, Nox felt the gentle brush across his face.  He couldn't think beyond the touch.  He didn't want to look up, didn't want to meet his eyes.  He couldn't show him anything.  Nothing.  Nox embraced the void like it was a blanket.  Nothing, show nothing.  Not a student.  No...

 

Nox let Merdyn guide him wherever.  He trusted the other man more than he should.  This was twice he'd been there.  Twice he'd run to help.  Twice, he'd ...

 

[[ Power released with permission ]]

Edited by Matalina

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                Merdyn scooped Nox up from the ground, disregarding any protest the man might register. He was worried about rumors. Merdyn understood… in a way… But now was not the time to fret about anything so frivolous. Who cared about their reputations? Why would they even whisper? Nox was his teacher and nothing more. Merdyn was simply doing what any sane, chivalrous man would do. He murmured comforting words to Nox as he brought him tightly against his chest, barreled arms cradling him.

 

                Lillian Sedai called after Merdyn, rushing to keep up; but Merdyn didn’t really hear the words. The only thing he was focused on was getting Nox to his bed and then finding help, so long as Lillian Sedai couldn’t suffice… Perhaps Adrim would know what to do…

 

                Merdyn hated seeing Nox in this state… But he wouldn’t abandon him to it. No. He would protect him if he had to… Besides, Nox would have done the same for Merdyn…

 

                Wouldn’t he?

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Merdyn lifted him with ease and the was a flood of panic that rose through Nox's body.  He didn't like the feeling of being helpless, but Merdyn's voice was soft and his arms strong.  His body was warm against Nox's while Nox didn't relax he didn't struggle.  He didn't care what others thought of him.  There would be rumors flying in the morning.  Those who saw him curled up on the ground, or those who saw the pair and Nox's weakness.

 

It was one thing to think ill of him, but Merdyn that was a different story.

 

Merdyn pushed open the door and Nox could smell his own home.  That alone made him relax.  The other strapping, handsome young man, Nox kept adding adjectives that he shoulding to his student.  He was always there when things went badly, when the world kicked him again and again.   Merdyn set Nox on his bed and Nox curled up facing away from him.  He hoped Merdyn would go, but he also hoped he'd stay.  He didn't want him to leave... But if he stayed there would be talk and that's not how things would go down.  Nox could hear the rumors already.  The hushed whispers and the looks.  Nox whispered, "Stay."   

 

Nox rolled on to his back and threw a wall of air up against his door so no one could get in and he tied it off.  "Untie the weave if you want to leave, I'm not trying to keep you here, but I don't want someone walking in." Nox looked up from his bed and then moved to the other side making room for him to sit or lie, or whatever.  It wasn't about anything he told himself.  Merdyn made him feel safe.  That's why he wanted him to stay, it wasn't because of the fluttering in his stomach or the ache in his body.

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                Merdyn made to go, he didn’t think that Nox would want him sticking around; oh he wanted to. He cared about Nox, this was one of the only men at the entire Farm that had even given Merdyn the time of day. Growing up, Merdyn didn’t have many friends. Father had pushed him to spend time with the children of other Nobles, but each one of them was a spoiled brat. Kyllian was the only other person in Merdyn’s life that could be considered a friend; at least when he was still living… The thought stung, but here was Nox telling him to stay. That was the last thing he expected to hear out of the dark-haired man’s mouth.

 

                Nox wove a wall of air at the door and explained the action. Merdyn looked back over at him, he had turned over, eyes staring at the ceiling. Merdyn wanted to take Nox in his arms and comfort him, but he knew that wouldn’t have been a good idea. It would have been innocent, no ulterior motives; but Nox had made it clear things would only be different once Merdyn had attained the second pin. Although Nox wasn’t looking like a broken man when he had said it and it wouldn’t have been the first time Merdyn tried to comfort the other.

 

                He thought about it for a moment and then just shrugged, sinking down onto the bed and carefully stretching out. Merdyn pulled Nox over to him, much like that day when they Skimmed from the Farm. A strong arm encircled Nox’s shoulders, pulling him in tight. Merdyn wasn’t sure what to say, he just wanted his friend to feel better. The other man didn’t pull away immediately, Merdyn relaxed a little.

 

                “Uh… One of my old tutors often said that contact between two people was soothing… I’m not trying to… uh… I… Light, I hope you don’t get the wrong idea, Nox. I remember what you said at the Soup Kitchen and I understand, but I can’t stand seeing you this way. If touching you is crossing the line, I can go sit by the table. We don’t even need to talk if you don’t want to… I just…” Merdyn said as his brow furrowed, “Is there anything I can do? You name it and I’ll do it, Nox; if it makes you feel better.”

 

                Merdyn was so worried about his teacher that he didn’t notice the butterflies taking wing in his stomach or the way his heart thumped in his chest.

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Nox muttered, "Thank you."  And he focused on his breathing and the warmth and feeling safe, the added scent of the man lying with him was an added bonus.  

 

He offered anything, and Nox might have rolled over and asked for everything, but he was too far gone to move.  His heart rate was slowing and his breathing returning to normal.  He felt better and he could only hope Merdyn would stay long enough for him to return to normal.  Nox eventually calmed enough to sleep.

 

[[ Merdyn can stay, they can talk after, or he can go whichever he wants.  Nox is just napping to find equilibrium again ]]

Edited by Matalina

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                Nox drifted off to sleep. Merdyn watched him for a few moments, the even rise and fall of his chest. He looked so peaceful. One wouldn’t have guessed that he had a bit of a mental breakdown just a few moments prior. That was a shock. Merdyn still didn’t know what it was about, exactly; but he didn’t like it. It seemed like he was learning something new about his teacher everyday… Or at least every time they were together; and yet Nox still insisted on having those walls built up around him. They were cracking, Merdyn could see it plainly. Why were they cracking? That was the real question.

 

                Channeling a flow of Air, Merdyn gently lifted Nox’s head up from his chest and he slid out of his teacher’s bed. With that same flow, he lowered Nox’s head back down to a pillow. After a few more moments, Merdyn had pulled off Nox’s boots and pulled the blankets over him. Merdyn untied the weave that had blocked off the door and slipped out silently.

 

 

 

                About an hour later, Merdyn was sneaking back into Nox’s house, arms laden with trays and a few more floating before him on flows of air. He was able to close the door without a sound and lowered the trays onto the table in the room. He banished the flows and set about tidying up the room a bit. It wasn’t messy. Merdyn just made the atmosphere more comfortable. He channeled a few small orbs of light and hung them around the room, like stationary fireflies. Merdyn had also brought in a tiny brazier with a burning coal inside. He sprinkled a little incense on the coal and the room was filled with a warm, comforting scent.

 

                Before going back to Nox, Merdyn pulled the covers off of the trays to reveal a banquet; or at least as close to one as he could manage in an hour. There were roasted game hens, slivers of salted pork, vegetable stew, buttered beans and greens, apple cider, fluffy herb bread, and several other dishes; including two desserts. He didn’t know what Nox liked to eat, but he figured at least one of these was bound to perk his interest. If not, well, Merdyn would go back to the Soup Kitchen and fix him something different. The man needed to eat.

 

                Merdyn wove air again, rising Nox’s head slightly. Merdyn slipped back onto the bed, but not beneath the blanket, and gently put his arm back under Nox’s head and banishing the flow.

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Nox felt Merdyn leave the first time.  He was okay with that, he was sure to have made the worst kind of impression.  But Nox drifted back to sleep.

 

Time passes differently when you sleep.  It wasn't long before Nox smelled food and felt the bed shift and Merdyn laid back down with him.  Nox woke and rolled over groggily, there was a brief moment where he forgot who was lying next to him.  Not the who, but the status of said who.  It sent a panic through his thoughts but Nox tried hard not to focus on it and sat up with a soft grin on his slips.  "You made all this for me?'  Nox was keenly aware of how that made him feel. "I can't eat all that, no matter what you've heard."  Nox grinned at him.  "You will eat too, right?"

 

Nox wanted to press a kiss to his neck but getting any closer and he'd violate his own rule.  It was a valid rule, he'd never broken it.  Never came close, not once  - until now.  Nox crawled out of the bed without disturbing Merdyn's relaxing pose.  He wanted to look but he fought to stare at the food laid before him.  "Wow!"

Edited by Matalina

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                Nox rose from the bed, a grin on his lips. Merdyn hadn’t seen Nox smile… Not that he could remember. It was miraculous what a smile did to one’s face. Nox always looked like there were thunderstorms behind his eyes, but not now. To Merdyn, it looked like the sun was shining through that smile, in all of its blazing glory. He felt his heart skip a beat at the sight but paid it no mind. He was so nervous that Nox would be upset; Merdyn just owed the feeling to that worry.

 

                “Yeah…” Merdyn propped himself up on a pillow, not taking his eyes off his teacher, “I don’t expect you to. I  just wasn’t sure what you liked… Imagine me coming back here with the one thing you hated. That wouldn’t do.”

 

                Merdyn pushed himself from the pillows, swinging his legs down, feet hitting the floor. He scratched a spot at the back of his head, trying to hide the fact that he was now blushing.

 

                That’s odd…

 

                “Of course I’ll join you! I… That’s not crossing a line, right? I just wanted to make sure you were okay, and what better way than with food? I’m sure you’re famished after all the excitement we’ve had today… Light knows I am.” Merdyn said as he gave Nox a goofy grin.

 

                I just wanted to make sure he was okay, was all…

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Nox grinned at all the food.  He'd seen more of it since coming to the Farm.  And this spread was probably more food than he saw in all his child hood.  Al'tar only gave them enough to look good so he could sell them for a pretty penny.  Not too boney and not too fat he always said.

 

Nox sat down at the table and took a little of everything on his plate.  It was heaping before he was done serving himself.  Merdyn was worried about crossing a line.  Nox could only shrug to that.  "No more so than me falling apart in front of you."  But for some reason Nox was less embarassed about it and more afraid that Merdyn might avoid him from then on out.  

 

But with a pile of food in front of him, Nox didn't care.  It all tasted great and he couldn't decide what he liked more.  "Thank you for taking care of me.  I owe you."  And Nox was sure that Merdyn would be there the next time too.  And that felt more right than Nox wanted to consider.

 

[[ we can wrap it up anytime ]]

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                “Wh- yeah. I mean- Why would it… uh… Heh. Cross a line? Yeah, I… uh… Don’t know why I thought that would cross a line.” Merdyn stuttered as Nox spoke. The man was growing more relaxed by the second. He attacked the food with gusto, trying a little bit of everything. That made Merdyn very happy. He had made all of it himself… Or at least he had made most of it himself; definitely more than half of it. They were all his recipes and he did direct the Soup Kitchen staff. So really, it was like he made every single dish when you considered all of that.

 

                Light, what is wrong with me? It’s just dinner with your teacher… Merdyn thought, blood rushing to his face. It really was odd. He had never acted this way around Ful, and the two had done everything together. Well, not everything; but they had definitely formed a very tight friendship. Something Merdyn and Nox might form one day. It was a day Merdyn was very much looking forward to, but that still didn’t explain the nervousness. Nox had been intimidating in the past, but still, Merdyn hadn’t stuttered around the man.

 

                Merdyn exhaled and put on a smile. He was in control of whatever strange nervousness this was. He as going to be Asha’man after all.

 

                “You owe me nothing, Nox. You would’ve done the same for me, I’m sure. Think nothing of it. I’m just glad you’re okay… Now, eat up. I’ll help you, but I expect to hear your opinions on my recipes afterwards…” Merdyn said playfully. He grabbed a fork a dug in.

 

                It turned out to be a very pleasant evening.

 

 

 

 

[[I’m good :D]]

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