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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

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Aeveryn had finally surrendered to the urge to leave the white tower. Ever since reaching the shawl, she had felt the urge to go ride somewhere. It had been her sense of duty that had kept her in her Ajah‘s quarters though. She had waited for some sensible purpose, some actual reason that would require her to leave the white tower. But her waiting had been fruitless. She had found herself standing at the large windows of her sitting room for hours, staring beyond the vague landscape on the other side of the Erinin and she had felt the longing to go there. Still, it seemed to be a waste of time.

 

Often she stood there and contemplated if her hesitation to leave the tower was based on her trying several times as novice and her being punished severely for her attempts. But then one last summer day she had just done it. Some of her belongings had been packed for some time. That one morning she just left. That had been two weeks ago.

 

It felt good to be on the road again, and she did not mind it very much that she was on her own. Well, someone to talk to like Vera Sedai or Rossa would have been good. But for the moment, she was too consumed with the sensation of freedom to be irritated to much with that.

 

Her horse was a fairly young charger and you could tell the beast was almost as unused to be ridden as she was to ride. Well, she had been a skilled rider, but the last time she had sat longer then an hour atop a horse had been thirty years ago. Sometimes it seemed that had been another life, or a memory of something that had not really happened. But as long as she was calm, her gelding was easy too and she hoped they would manage to get along well enough for now to get used to each other.

 

Aeveryn was slowly making her way down in an south-western direction ever since leaving the tower and as she rode she was searching for signs or landmarks she would remember from when she had taken this route to the tower, but it seemed everything had either changed or her mind was barren. Casting an eye up against the sky she checked to make sure her dark blue coat was near. There were some dark clouds up above and the last blue flecks of sky had passed by early this morning. She had the distinct feeling it would still rain later on. She just hoped it would begin when she had reached some tavern or inn.

 

For a moment she considered her divided shirts and rearrange the dress she wore. She wondered if it had been a mistake to only take along silk for a travel like this. It was a riding gown, but somehow she now wished she had taken some woolen gowns as well. Maybe she was imagining things, but she did feel as if she was utterly overdressed for this undertaking. Rossa had taken her to the dressmakers and while she had been first rather irritated about the gold she was spending - her gold! She had to admit now that she really did think every penny had been worth it. Well she had taken a liking for silk and even for these tiny embroideries. Her main consideration was now that the dress might wear too quickly.

 

She realized she had been engrossed with her dress for too long. And the moment she looked up she realized it had been a grave mistake. A lone rider was up ahead on the otherwise solemn and perfectly empty road. Normally there was no reason to be afraid. She was a woman, all right, but not as she had been when she had come to the white tower. She was a full sister now. She wore the ring, even if she had left her blue fringed shawl in her saddle bags. Leaving that in the tower had never occurred to her. Differently to some other novices and accepted she had never trained with the warders in the yards. But right then, even with Saidar at her disposal, she suddenly wished she had. Her face never changed a fraction, but even without power enhanced sight she was certain the rider up ahead was a whitecloak. Embracing Saidar destroyed her last hopes. She could see the man‘s eyes clearly, and the symbol he carried proudly on his bristling white coat.

 

For an instant she contemplated to run, or try to avoid coming any closer to him. But for that it was too late. She relaxed only a little as she realized she did not yet have the agelessness features to her that would be tell-tale to his kind.

 

Keeping her face smooth she rode on. But silently she prayed her travels were not yet over.

 

 

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Ezekiel hated his yearly travel to Tar Valon. He had his own set of spies scattered there and a few within the White Tower itself. So he would make his way to the area every four seasons or so to make sure his agents were still true the cause and could still be trusted. If getting rid of the witches proved to be nearly impossible, the least that could be done was keep them under watch and observe their activities.

 

While making his way to Tar Valon though the main road, Ezekiel spotted a rider up ahead. For some reason, it drew his attention. Continuing forward in a normal pace, he realized after a few moments that the rider was a woman. Wrinkling his brow, thoughts started to overtake Ezekiel's mind. Something seemed off about the scenario. A woman in the middle of no and where. Traveling alone with no sort of protection. Either she was brave or an idiot. Possibly both.

 

Ezekiel didn't think much of women. Most of them were weak and the ones who weren't were treacherous snakes. But at the same time, Ezekiel felt it was his obligation to make sure the woman was away from harms way. Leaving her seemed dishonorable, especially since night started to fall and the light of the day was slowly disappearing.

 

Picking up the pace, Ezekiel hurried his horse towards the woman, stopping in front of her to block her way. He gave her a thorough look, considering her from head to toe. But Ezekiel wasn't interested in her physical. It was the way she looked and the way she dressed that could give him all the information he needed, without her uttering a single word.

 

Silk. So she wasn't just a farmer. A lady, and by the look of it quite wealthy. This made Ezekiel's suspicions grow. What would a woman of that stature do alone in mid day with no escort. The back of Ezekiel's head started tingling, the way it always did when he felt something was amiss.

 

Meeting the woman's gaze, he spoke, trying to soften the intensity of his voice. "If I may disturb you, my lady. I am Ezekiel. As you can see, I am a Whitecloak so you must know I mean you no harm." Pressing his fist to the symbol on his chest, Ezekiel went on. "Darkness if falling and I was planning to camp to the side of the road during the night. I strongly recommend you to accompany me. These roads are not safe during the day, let alone during the night. It is no place for a woman alone. Will you join me?". Trying to add some warmth to his proposal, Ezekiel made an attempt of a smile, that turned out more of a sneer. Quickly switching to his indifferent expression, Ezekiel awaited a response

 

 

Ezekiel

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Her only hope was he would just let her pass. Maybe if she smiled at him like some fool noble woman out on a ride, maybe if she acted silly, he‘d take her for that? Unfortunately she never got to smile. Unfortunately that cursed whitecloak sped his horse towards her. She remained composed, she had faced worse during her tests than a single child of the light, but she still felt the fear. And this was different in another way. She considered killing someone as part of a test in a Ter`Angreal to not be real. But if she killed him, it would be very real.

 

She wanted to ready a weave, just ready it, but somehow she was not able to. Only then she remembered the oaths. After all, the man had not drawn the blade. Not yet. When would these oaths let her channel? When he had buried the steel in her flesh? She was growing frantic and feeling her nervousness her mount did dance slightly.

 

But even as he stopped before her, the blade stayed sheathed. Ever since being a novice it had been pounded into her that men like him killed Aes Sedai on sight. Suddenly she wished for a warder. The fact that he just stared her up and down like some tavern wench only added to the confusion she was feeling. Well, maybe not like a tavern wench, probably she was just not used to have men look at her at all.

 

Aeveryn very nearly laughed hearing his reply. It would have been a startled laugh. Probably a strangled laugh too. A whitecloak was offering her protection? It was absurd. Clearly the man was ignorant whom he was facing. Or at least so she hoped. But that was all she could work with for now. She had to rely on that.

 

„Master Ezekiel, I thank you for your offer. I am Aeveryn… Yewlis.“ Again she nearly suffocated. She had almost added the honorific ‘Sedai‘ to her first name and she prayed to the light the man had not noticed the gap between her first and second name. As if to cover that nearly made mistake she continued. „And I am not a lady. My father‘s wealth is based on silver mines.“ The mines still existed, even with her father being long dead, killed by darkfriends.

 

For a moment she considered Ezekiel, soothing her horse that still danced a little every now and then as if the other‘s gaze disconcerted it. It was odd, but she had just a few weeks ago read about whitecloaks. In fact, she had read several of their works. Most about their ways to root out darkfriends and how to torture them to make them confess. Some had been interesting. Most had been crude. Still, she was tempted to accept his offer in the vain hope to learn more. But the danger seemed to grave. A wolf might be an interesting creature. Still, she would not sleep with her arms around a wolf‘s neck.

 

„I know to value your offer, Master Ezekiel. But I feel the urge to reach the next tavern or inn. I may look fragile and weak, but believe me, I carry undisclosed weapons.“ The man had the nerve to shoot her a look that openly conveyed his doubt. Again she cursed silently. She should have bought a long dagger. Not that she could use it. But maybe having that dangle from her hip would make men like him see her in different light.

 

She signed. The one power made her unconceivable strong, but the oaths had rendered her as weak as any other woman. It seemed she had to resort to the options available to a woman. „How far is the next tavern? I am more used to silk than wool and I would rather ride to some tavern then sleep rough. And it could still rain tonight. Have you noticed the clouds?“ Really, the sky was growing brighter again, but the thread of rain was not that distant. „If you feel so sincere about protecting me maybe you could ride with me there? Maybe I could demonstrate my gratitude and invite you for a meal and some ale?“ She hoped he‘d agree. She hoped the next tavern was not too far off. A tavern seemed so much safer then spending the night alone with him in the wild.

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"Master Ezekiel, I thank you for your offer. I am Aeveryn... Yewlis. And I am not a lady. My father's wealth is based on silver mines. I know to value your offer, Master Ezekiel. But I feel the urge to reach the next tavern or inn. I may look fragile and weak, but believe me, I carry undisclosed weapons. How far is the next tavern? I am more used to silk than wool and I would rather ride to some tavern then sleep rough. And it could still rain tonight. Have you noticed the clouds?“

 

Ezekiel smirked. He disliked all those spoiled rich girls who'd care more about what's proper and correct rather then fending for their own life. Sleeping outdoors or wearing wool was of course unthinkable. God forbid that one would be caught dead with nothing but silk. Wandering around in the dark in a dangerous road, however, was perfectly acceptable. Ezekiel was rather disgusted by such imprudent behavior.

 

"Undisclosed weapons that will remain as such while someone slits your throat, madam. The last tavern I passed is a half a day ride from here. It would be wise to stay put and continue by day when you are not disabled by the darkness." Looking up, Ezekiel mused for a moment. "Weather wise, it looks to me that the worst is behind us. But if it does rain, I will simply produce some sort of shelter. I'll start up a fire and we should manage.

 

Climbing down from his horse, Ezekiel looked up at Aerveryn. "And with all due respect to your silk, I believe you value your life more. One night in the wild will not rob you of anything. It builds character and I have a feeling you could use some." Leading his horse by the reins, Ezekiel signaled Aeveryn to follow him, as they wandered off the road into a clutter of trees, in search of a clearing.

 

 

 

Ezekiel

Questioner

CoL

 

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His words irritatingly reminded her of the fact that she still had no warder. Still, this fool whitecloak had no right to talk to her like that. She felt half tempted to tell this boy that she was Aes Sedai, and that she was no young lady on her first ride. The light burn her, she might look like twenty, but she was approaching fifty years of age. Still, she was glad that she lacked the ageless look. It was better to suffer through this, than to have this turn nasty. And maybe he was right. The roads could be dangerous at this time of day, and it did not improve with night falling.

 

Sense had just won over her heart, when he mentioned she needed some character building. Her face did remain calm, but she felt like poking her tongue out. Sleeping rough would build her character? Who did he take her for? Just because she wore silk made him think she was as soft and weak as some conceited noble damsel? Silk meant nothing to her. She wore the dress because Rossa had told the seamstress to make it like that.

 

This man needed to be taught a lesson. She was sure, he would not stand one year as novice. She had survived more than a decade in whites. Who was he to take one look at her and file her away as some silly girl?

 

Grinding her teeth like her father’s mines had grinded the iron ore, she followed him, again feeling like a little girl that was thought too foolish to make her own decisions. “I would not come to conclusions too easily, Master Ezekiel.” She stated. “I think you have very little understanding what kind duress a woman of my position has to endure. In fact, you would be surprised.”

 

Fingering her ring she only then realised she still wore the serpent on her hand. He had his back turned to her and quickly she took it off, hiding it in her pocket. She had been fool to not realise she wore it. But it seemed he had not noticed.

 

She decided she would teach him a lesson. A few slaps with Saidar would be very amusing indeed, only she feared that would be too obvious. And she doubted she would be able to summon a thunderstorm over his head without getting soaked as well. So what else?

 

The fool man was just blowing the fire alight when she came to the perfect conclusion. Channelling a tiny bit of fire, she set his pants alight at his backside. She was barely able to suppress an amused giggle as smoke rose from his butt. She expected him to jump up or so, but he just kept blowing into the fire he was preparing. Meanwhile a little flame was rising from his being. Amusement turned into worry. Did he not feel it?

 

“Master Ezekiel…” she started, when he did bolt upright. Clearly, the heat had finally scorched his buttock. For a moment she felt bad. “How did that happen?” she wondered worriedly aloud, meaning how possibly he could have been oblivious that long to his pants burning. But then, when he had the flames quenched, she started to giggle. Really, this was hilarious. And a little mortification of the flesh would do him well.

 

A few moments later, when she had her laughter back under control she asked him with one eyebrow raised: “How is your backside? Do you want me to have a look at it?” Stepping closer, she was not quite able to suppress the grin. “No, don’t act like some foolish boy now, child. Burns from fire can be vile. And you need to ride tomorrow. So, down with these pants and bend over. I have some ointment with me, you might find soothing.”

 

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Ezekiel slapped Aeveryn's hand away. "Settle down, woman." Ezekiel was terribly confused at the recent occurrence of events. He was facing the fire, and had no idea how the back side of his pants could have possibly caught fire. It seemed like a mystery and Ezekiel was the last person to accept one as such. He had to know what caused it yet whatever kind of explanation that formed in his mind didn't fit the puzzle. He looked at Aeveryn suspiciously for a moment but then looked away. She had no reason to harm him.

 

"I have an ointment of my own and I'm still quite capable of applying it myself. So if you excuse me, madam, I shall retire for a bit." Walking towards his horse quite sorely, Ezekiel reached for the bag that was tied to his horse's saddle and took out a pair of pants and the ointment he always carried when he was traveling. As his mother used to say, it was better to be safe then sorry.

 

Ezekiel found a bunch of bushes cluttered together and decided it was the perfect place to tend to his injury and change. Taking off his pants slowly, he made sure none of the fabric melted onto his skin. Luckily it wasn't, otherwise removal of the pants would have been the last thing he would have wanted to do. Applying the ointment to the burn, he hissed in pain, yet kept dragging his finger over it, rubbing the ointment evenly. He pulled on his pants and returned to Aeveryn.

 

Sitting carefully next to the woman, he did his best not to grunt. "This would make riding interesting tomorrow, but I guess I will have to endure." Moving his eyes to meet Aeveryn he spoke again. "I apologize if the incident gave you a scare. How ironic it turned out being that I'm the one who needed assistance in the end. Weird world, isn't it."

 

 

Ezekiel

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She was barely able to hold on to calm. She did feel guilty. This man was a whitecloak, but so far he had not been mean. Of course, he deserved the pain he was now feeling for treating her the way he had, but on the other hand, she had not intended him to get hurt. But what could she do now anyway? She could hardly heal him. Or?

 

On the other hand, she had noted his suspicious glance. He had just considered her for a moment, but then he could not possibly take her for an Aes Sedai. She had no warder. She lacked the agelessness, and with her ring in her pocket, she just looked like any young woman that had some wealth.

 

Remembering his face in the moment he had felt the heat, she suddenly could no longer hold it and did giggle. Covering her mouth with her hand, she shot him a quick glance. “I am sorry… I just remembered…” Amusement was boiling up again. “… you did look too funny just then.”

 

She had to pinch her side to calm again. Aeveryn realised she was rather tense. Normally, something like that would not make her loose her composure. But this was different. For all she knew, if he found out who she was, he might try to skewer her with that sword he carried.

 

“But you are right… this is a strange world. It is rather odd how that happened. But what has been woven can’t be undone.” She cleared her throat. “I would offer to prepare a meal for you, but I am not skilled as cook. But I carry some wine, cheese and bread. Maybe you would like some of that?”

 

Getting her saddle bags she rummaged around in them. As if this was just a minor point, she added: “Maybe, as we eat, you could tell me about yourself? I think this is the first time in a long while that I have the honour to spend a night with a child of the light. I’d be curious to hear your path to this… meaningful… position.” Offering him the bread, she finally looked him back in the eyes. “Or were you certain since your youth you’d forsake your personal desires and devote your life to something grander?”

 

Whitecloakes. Many Aes Sedai feared them. She saw in him a potential tool that could be of vital use and full of information in her personal quest. Would she be able to use him? Would he be a knife suitable to slice into the dark carcass of those serving the shadow? And, would she be able to wield him without getting herself cut?

 

She decided, tonight, when he was fast asleep, she would heal him. She owed him that much.

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"I am sorry...I just remembered...you did look too funny just then." Ezekiel raised an eyebrow and then sighed. He usually disapproved of laughing at another's expense, doubly so when it involved an injury but after a moment's pause he realized that the whole thing must have looked ridiculously funny and could not blame Aeveryn for finding it amusing.

 

"But you are right... this is a strange world. It is rather odd how that happened. But what has been woven can't be undone. I would offer to prepare a meal for you, but I am not skilled as cook. But I carry some wine, cheese and bread. Maybe you would like some of that? Maybe, as we eat, you could tell me about yourself? I think this is the first time in a long while that I have the honour to spend a night with a child of the light. I'd be curious to hear your path to this...meaningful...position."

 

Ezekiel eyed Aeveryn sideways, lost in deep thought. Usually people shied away from whitecloaks, afraid to raise suspicion in one way or the other. While some respected the work they did, they still preferred them to be as far away as possible. Aeveryn on the other hand... she reeked from curiosity. A tinge of suspicion rose. Was she trying to probe him for information?

 

Ezekiel remained quiet as he accepted the bread Aeveryn offered him. "Or were you certain since your youth you'd forsake your personal desires and devote your life to something grander?". Ezekiel considered her for a moment. She wasn't looking for information about the Children of the Light in general. She was taking personal interest in him. That phased Ezekiel for a moment but he managed to shake it off with the simple notion that she was probably just being polite. Deciding that he wasn't compromising anything by answering her question, he spoke.

 

"I do not feel I've forsaken anything, miss. It just so happens that my personal aspirations coincide with my purpose which makes my devotion all the stronger. I don't feel deprived in any way with the route I've chosen in life. I find myself filled with pride and contentment that could never be supplemented by anything else. I don't see this as a sacrifice." Raising his eyes to the sky, Ezekiel smiled. "I see this as a gift."

 

Lowering his eyes back to Aeveryn, he decided it was only polite to take an interest as well. "What of you? What do you plan to do with your life?".

 

 

 

Ezekiel

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Somehow just then remembered just who she was facing, and the fact that most white cloak questioners were not very good at what they did. So, it filled him with pride to torture innocent?

 

"What of you? What do you plan to do with your life?".

 

It was hard to remain composed. Men seemed to always think a woman had yet to come to the point to do something meaningful. Oh, it would be such a delight to upturn the wine over his head.  Instead she smiled. Would he freak out was he to learn she was much older than him?

 

“I am just a woman.” She replied. “Many women dream of finding a special man that knows how to treat them properly, that sweeps them of their feet and rules their world. And many women want loads of children. A few boys, a few girls. Babies are so cute, so innocent. And pretty dresses… you should know that women have a big weakness for dresses.” Her hand ran down from her waist, over her hip to her skirts.

 

She almost admired her skill at saying something that held no meaning. Children? A husband to rule her world? Never ever! But surely, that was just what this fool man expected to hear.

 

“What about you? Have you ever wanted children? Or do you just torture them?” The last line had slipped from her mouth. It had been delivered in the same innocent, almost silly tone she had used before. 

 

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"I am just a woman. Many women dream of finding a special man that knows how to treat them properly, that sweeps them of their feet and rules their world. And many women want loads of children. A few boys, a few girls. Babies are so cute, so innocent. And pretty dresses... you should know that women have a big weakness for dresses." Her hand ran down from her waist, over her hip to her skirts.

 

Ezekiel stared at Aeveryn for a moment. She gave a full description of what a woman would want, instead of answering a very simple question. What she wanted. Her too sweet manner disturbed him. It seemed unnatural to him even though he didn't know her to an extent. It all seemed as if she was making some sort of performance. Some women were great actresses. Perhaps Aeveryn was not what she appeared to be. a Snake under human skin.

 

"What about you? Have you ever wanted children? Or do you just torture them?". Ezekiel's eyes narrowed. The inappropriate comment confirmed his supicion. She was no friend or supporter of the Children of the Light. But did that mean she was aligned with the Dark One or the witches? That was yet to be seen. None of the less, he decided to be wary around her.

 

Ezekiel leaned forward, his eyes gleaming with intensity as he spoke. "Yes and no. I'll leave it to you to guess which answer belongs to what question, since what I answer will not change your view on the CotL either way. It's quite visible that you've made up your mind about us. Seems a bit judgemental to me, yet i've encountered many that behave the same. so i'm not surprised in the least. But tell me this, Aeveryn. If I act in such wicked ways, if I'm nothing but a child abuser, why haven't I tortured you yet? If I torture children, what would stop me from doing so with a mere woman. Is it the perfect opportuniry. We are all alone and no one will hear you screaming." Ezekiel sat back and smiled unpleasently. If she wanted a villian, she was going to get one.

 

 

 

Ezekiel

Questioner

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