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Aes Sedai, lend me thine ears!


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That was the only way to describe the way Aran walked as he made his way through a corridor within the White Tower.  Exuding an entirely unreasonable aura of confidence considering his purpose, Aran was at least dressed finely for the occasion.  Andoran riding boots darkly polished to a mirror like sheen, baggy Tarabon breeches of purple and blue stripes, an Illian shirt of green with golden dots, a red sash that fell low to his right shin, a Tairen long jacket of orange and teal that he wore open as it reached his knees.  These were some of the things he wore that not only served to advertise at least a bit of every single nation of the Westlands, but served to make him very, very, VERY visible.


Yet all of these faded compared to the hat he wore.  Four feet in diametre, its drooping rim was forgotten in light of the score of feathers that stuck from it, each a distinctly different colour from the rest of his clothing as much as they were of each other.  The final feature, apart from the cocky grin on his face, was the guitar that was slung over his back even as he found his destination.


On any other day, the combination might have seemed strange.


Stepping into the Dining Hall, Aran made his way with ease towards the nearest table that was at least half cleared, enjoying the attention of every woman in the hall progressively focusing on him in varying degrees of disbelief, annoyance, outrage and no doubt some slivers of amusement at his appearance.  Trusting that his friends were in place to witness what was no doubt going to see him in a good measure of trouble, yet be completely worth it, Aran was ready even if the ladies that were present in the Dining Hall undoubtedly weren't.


Climbing up onto the table, Aran flung his arms up as his voice projected across the rapidly quietening hall.  "Please!  I beseech you all to lend me thine ears for I have come to make an important announcement, a declaration, an admission of a most weighty secret that I have hidden from all until this moment!"




Tower Guard


OOC: This carries on from the RP on the Warders Yard, also in retro and that is found here http://forums.dragonmount.com/index.php/topic,19988.0.html

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After a few attempts at escape, Rosheen had given up, allowing her fellow Tower Guards to carry her around in her moment of embarrassment. She had her hands to cover her face with, which was good, because Vasya’s stare probably would have melted it straight off. Damn that runt. Damn him and damn that accursed Aes Sedai as well. She might as well have been a darkfriend, for all Rosheen cared. She lost her temper most spectacularly, meaning that Rosheen lost her bet. And she was doing so well too.


She groaned slightly when the group of Tower Guards finally put her down outside of the hall. Thinking she could finally escape people, she turned to walk away, only to be stopped by a hand on her arm. “You’re going to want to see this.” Marie said with an impish grin on her face. “See what? Vasya storming out of the Hall to beat me over the head with a mace?” Marie’s grin spread even wider. “No, I’m pretty sure Vasya’s preoccupied at the moment. Aran wants you to come.”


And that settled it, really, because she wanted to see Aran. See him right as she planted a knee firmly in his groin, that was. She followed the giggling pack of Tower Guards down a very familiar path towards the White Tower. Towards the Dining Hall. “Oh, that’s terrible.” Rosheen said, a grin slowly spreading on her face. “I know…” Marie said, grinning back at her. “But great, right?” Rosheen nodded. It was absolutely perfect, if you asked her. It was enough to forget all about Vasya for the time being, though that subject would no doubt jump her again soon enough. She could only hope the man himself wouldn’t literally jump on her. He was rather heavy.


“What the…” she said when she first laid eyes on Aran. “and they call me a peacock?!” Luckily Lyanna was nowhere in sight. Now that would have been embarrassing. Marie shrugged. “At least he’s wearing clothes. He could have been wearing that paint again. Or worse, he could be trying to rub said paint on every available Aes Sedai.” Rosheen grinned again. “I suppose you’re right.” After silently sneaking around for a few more moments, she found herself sitting close enough to hear everything, but far enough away to look as if she belonged there. “I wonder who the ‘lucky’ lady is…”


Rosheen Tahn Sakhr



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It had been a long morning.  And the afternoon had dragged interminably.  Even researching something as interesting as her own Cause, time seemed to have flowed like cool honey in the hours of writing she had done.  Her chair must have grooves in it from where she had been seated for so long.  The notes done, her stomach had reminded her as loudly as the dinner bell that it had been too long since breakfast.  She had missed the mid-day meal completely.


Making her way down to the Dining Hall, Rossa had quickened her step.  A lot of her sisters were present as she sat down and considered her choices of what to have.  Delicate, White Sea Folk porcelain plates with a gold ring were put in front of her; complete with the gilded fish she had chosen.  Memories of home were welcome now she could stand to think of them.  Other people filed in, and dinner began.


The faces around her reflected her own. Burn the presumptuous nature of the man, coming in here and climbing onto a table.  Her eyebrows met her hairline.  Unconsciously, she tugged the Blue shawl closer to her and studied the figure of the man on the table.  And she recognised him … Aran.  She had seen him around the grounds enough to recognise his figure, and the reputation was almost as distinguished. 


She bristled with curiosity as to what he was going to announce though.  Strolling in here as though he were a cross between the Amyrlin Seat and a table dancer, he had certainly known how to make an entrance.  Every eye followed him.  Rossa tapped her finger on the tabletop, wondering if he were waiting for silence, or an opportune moment.  He may even be waiting for some outside cue or person to arrive.  She hoped to the Light it wouldn’t be too long though.


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Genuinely pleased with her day, Vera had stepped into the dining halls with the most agreeable countenance smoothing out the strains of the Gray Ajah mediation. Not only had she been completely thorough with task completion today, but she had delighted in little social things with Aes Sedai such as herself, and jovially empathised when over a little too much wine, one of her three companions had let it slip that as a new Sister, the pressures of keeping her mouth tightly shut about matters of her Ajah, when in the presence of close friends she had made outside her chosen group of Sisters. Vera was no longer a young Sister herself, but as someone who had struggled with very similar forthcomings, she related vague bits of her own tale, hoping that the younger Sister would understand that with time, everything passes.


Dinner was always an event that called for decorum and elegance, but there was something about the air tonight that made Vera feel lighter than ever. There seemed to be just…more to it really, in the laughter floating in and out as glasses tinkled while servants bowed. For a moment she simply paused and watched, looking to see who would beckon her presence.


Someone better beckon. Her mood faltered for just a moment, but as the waving hand of Ziya Sedai came, she instantly felt renewed in spirit. She was a noted Sitter, Ziya Asunawa and one of the first women who had greeted Vera on the day of her initiation. Gliding past faces that stirred recognition and curiousity alike, she crisply moved into her seat beside the elder Gray. She was about to bid the other a polite greeting and thanks, perhaps even some conversation beyond pleasantries, but she stopped the moment she caught the mingled look of amusement and befuddlement. Following her gaze, Vera’s head turned to find… that man? Here? Why? Swiftly turning back, she lifted her glass- a touch hastily- and tipped it so that a large sip of White wine went tumbling down her throat. Resisting the desire to spit it all out, she swallowed and looked to Ziya meekly. At that, she got a raised eyebrow. “Oh no, Sister. The entertainment is on the other side. Look.” Hesistantly, reluctantly, Vera did.


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Usually Arette enjoyed her lunch in the peace and quiet of her office but she tried to appear at least once a week in the dining room for the Aes Sedai. It was good to appear somewhat approachable and maintain at least some kind of social life. She had made it her habit to sit in a table of people she didn't know that well. Today her company were the Gray Sisters and listened with half an ear to the other discussion in the table even as she maintained a polite one with Faerzyne who sat opposite to her.


If she could have truly chosen, she would have dined with Con. The little time they could steal to be together in the late evenings just wasn't enough and it had gotten just worse with his promotion. She was absolutely furious because of the whispers she had heard claiming that he was now the Commander of the Tower Guard just because he pleased her in the bed. It was demeaning to them both, to her judgement and his skills, and even if people now knew about them, they tried to be discreet about it nonetheless.


Her slight brooding was interrupted by a colourful sight that reminded her of Iussi Dyfelle on his worst days before Telcia had taught him something about colours and how they fit together. And this was hundred times worse. Anything that overdid Iussi set her warning bells ringing and she knew that it was going to be bad even before he climbed on a table. As the little man who was almost crushed under his rediculous sized hat made his overly dramatic announcement, Arette arched her eyebrows coolly at Faerzyne. "Were you aware of someone ordering 'amusement' for us today or do you suspect that this is a spontaneous act of idiocy?"


Arette Nenatiar

Not finding it funny

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It was a rare occasion on which Faerzyne Grigory chose to venture into the main halls of the White Tower for something as mundane as food. As it was, she was beginning to doubt her decision to come down. Oh, the company was pleasant enough, if you could ever consider the company of a Brown Sister as anything but dull, but there was something about being in places where many Aes Sedai gathered that irked her. Something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Something…


There it was. Faerzyne shook her head slightly when she noticed a brightly garbed young man enter the dining hall. Strange things always happened in places where many Aes Sedai gathered. That was why she avoided such places. She had no more love for ridicule than she had for dogs, or pickles for that matter. She closed her eyes for a moment and inhaled. A clever thing to do, much like counting to ten. Exhale. Calmed again. the urge to stop the young man’s heart in his chest had passed as swiftly as it arose in her. Not that she had expected any differently. One did not become as old as she by following every single impulse one felt, however tempting they might be.


Smiling kindly, she once again focussed on Arette Sedai. “No, I was not aware of any call for such ‘amusement’, or I would have stayed well away from it. Had I desired to see something that is apparently a cross between a minstrel, a jester and a… rainbow, I would have gone to Ebou Dar on a tinker wagon.” With a sigh she pressed the tips of her fingers together. “I suppose we have no choice but to witness whatever declaration this little jester wishes to bestow onto us.” Whatever it was, it had better be good. She hadn’t come all the way to the Dining Hall to see some fool make an even bigger fool out of himself for no reason.


~Faerzyne Grigory


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He is not as he seems.


Leaning forward at her constant companion Rory, and however much Saline tried to remove herself from the temptation -- joining most of her older Sisters in their cryptic remarks, and mysterious air -- she could not resist a thought, a reminder really, as Aran wafted into view. He seemed quite the spectacle, even to Saline, who had lived with the Tuatha'an for a number of years. She would not call that hat virulent, its colour was certainly not that strong, but there was definitely something about its gaudy eyes she would not care to have perched atop her head, nor did she suppose Rory, who had such good taste in what she wore, would follow her teacher in his poor choice. Poor choice, perhaps, but also a deliberate effort to provoke; she'll say this for the Cairheinin, he didn't really seem to care about what others thought of him.


Saline, unsure how she felt about Rory’s training teacher here in these hallowed halls, could only refer to others for reference. It seemed that plenty of people had reacted, and rather differently too, from the faces she glimpsed here or there. Her friend Rossa had sat with the Blues, and she caught the other’s eye for a moment as the Altaran drummed her fingers onto the table. Vera Sedai, her advisor, seemed bemused enough to choke on her white wine, either that or her drink was a bit too excellent; Saline had drunk with Vera before, and knew what the other’s alcohol allowance was, she herself had the same problem at times, but Light, it was barely evening. On the other hand, some, like Arette Sedai appeared genuinely displeased with the turn out, and her eye quickly turned from others engrossed in (loud) conversation concerning the Tower Guard’s appearance. Again, the thought came unbidden, that he was not what he seemed.



Letting a smile grow across her face, she picked up her knife once more and slowly peeled a pear, its juices seeping messily through her fingers as she parted it into soft chunks, and stretching forward a bit more, pushed the plate at Rory. The Green thanked her graciously. She ducked her head out of habit, making the bells in her curls tinkle as she hid a silly grin. Wondering idly what her companion would make of this farce, if anything might be gleaned from such an appearance, Saline sat back to enjoy the show, reviewing each expression as if she would memorise it for a song, or bed time story later. Despite the different reactions, all was wearing variances of surprise, which led to the conclusion that this was, for once, unplanned by the White Tower. Perhaps they would be pleasantly surprised.


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Rory smiled her sunshine smile as she watched Saline Sedai, her best friend, companion, and love, discuss Tower affairs with her red sisters. It felt like only yesterday that the pair had been aspirants: Rory in the novice white, and Saline her mentor with the banded hem of the accepted. So very much had passed between then, but to Rory Sedai it would always be only yesterday.


In the beginning, having spent so many years, almost plural decades, at Saline’s side, it had been hard to let her go. At first Rory had resented their different choices in ajah and the commitment they demanded, as did Saline. The enforced separation was painful and many hours she had trained as an amputee might learn to wield his sword with his remaining arm: unwieldy; incomplete.


Petty jealousies and arguments had arisen and been overcome and the two women learned that even though to be fully whole required the other, they could be hundreds of miles apart and still together. Part of Saline travelled with Rory wherever she went, continued to support her and keep her from danger; made sure she didn’t drink too many beers, got enough rest and always washed behind her ears.


Implicit trust had been hard won, but it had been won. Yes, they still enjoyed their public displays of possession on occasion, who wouldn’t? But they trusted one another and Rory knew Saline would never stray, be she two miles away or two thousand. And she was happy to watch Saline, the woman she had become, in her natural environment, knowing that she was hers.


Rory’s eyes danced with affection as Saline pushed the plate in front of her, she was always  taking care of her, whether Rory needed it or not, and Rory would not conceive of putting a stop to it. Actions speak louder than words, and those of Saline’s were very fetching. Especially with the way her spine arched as she pushed the plate, displaying her lower back.


Rory’s fingers brushed across Saline’s as her roommate withdrew her hands. Reaching out for the dents in her spine would have been noticed, but in this small contact they were intimate and alone. Rory’s smile widened as her mind slipped back through the years, focusing on the first memory she had of just how delicate Saline’s fingers could be.


Rory flinched when Saline slid her breeches down her legs, and sudden tears stung her eyes. Saline noticed in a heartbeat, and, with her hands firmly on Rory's hips, turned her about to see what had caused the pain. There, on Rory's right buttock was the likeness of a rose surrounded by purple, angry fresh. "Surprise," Rory said weakly.

Saline made a noise that was half laughter and half sympathy and kissed Rory on the mouth once more, "It's beautiful."

"It do be hurting a little more than I thought it would."


Saline sat down and pulled Rory into her lap, showering her face with kisses and tracing the inflamed image with her fingers. Rory let out a sigh of relief and leaned into her roommate; her companion, the fabric of Saline's dress feeling good against her bare thighs."I guess we'll simply have to keep you off it for a few days then and if you're really lucky I may kiss it better later."


With a gleam in her eye Saline reached for her story book, and Rory laughed.


Saline had been true to her word, and Rory had remained there in her lap for several days. Saline told the best stories and the cool tips of her fingers eased the searing pain of the tattoo until it had healed. She could have gone to the yellow ajah, true, but she wasn’t about to let Nynaeve Sedai see it.


Rory blinked when she noticed Aran standing on the table in … attire of a questionable taste, unless he were about to ransack a vessel, put the crew to the sword and the ship to the torch. As Rory was quite confident that this was not the case she was sure he had some other devious agenda.


It was odd that she had not noticed him sooner; every other Aes sedai in the hall had their attention riveted in place. Some with looks of anger, probably those with whom he had been involved with in the past … although if that were the case Rory thought there would be more angry faces. Other expressions mirrored hers which was one of delighted anticipation.


The memory of Saline had been a strong one, this could have accounted for the dela--how easy it was for her to become lost inside her own head--soon she would have to give up the green shawl in exchange for the brown. It was also likely that the delay in notice was a subconscious reminder that Aran was meant to have done something but didn’t. Ah, of course, post … the latest dispatch to her parents.


If Aran could be counted on for anything it was to prove highly entertaining while at the same time infuriatingly annoying: a brilliant swordsman and teacher, and also very capable of out drinking a horse.  He did possess something of a reputation, and Rory knew Saline was wary of him, and especially wary of him around her. Whatever was about to happen was likely to be spectacular; she couldn’t wait.


OOC: Whack. Thwack. POW.





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Guest Arie Ronshor

It was one of those moments that Maegan did not regret not taking her meal in her room. One that felt delicious on the tounge like the sweet nectar in her tea.


Sipping from the plain china cup, Maegan Ryanne looked up from her seat that was surrounded by empty chairs. Although she was not one to sit alone, it felt like a morning of observance and placid demeanor as she surrounded herself with those in the Tower. Her hearing was, as always, exceptionally good and there were more than a few whispers that were caught in the strings of speech echoing around the room. Pulling the glasses down from her nose, Maegan sat the tea cup on the little plain saucer and looked to one that she had trained under in the Yard.


'What is he up to now?' She thought to herself, a smile of amusement twinkled at the edge of her lips.




Maegan Ryanne


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Everything was quite peaceful.  Well, maybe not peaceful but everything sat at a perfect equilibrium where Estel didn’t talk to anybody and nobody talked to Estel.  Today had not been a good day, so the Blue sat in brooding silence amongst the other Sisters of her Ajah- Rossa among them.


Or at least Estel managed to ignore people up until she got a sharp elbow in the side from her younger sister.  “What?” growled Estel, annoyed.  She received a finger towards one of the tables near their where an odd little man in odder garments stood begging their attention.  For some reason he seemed familiar, but she couldn’t put her finger on where or when she had seen him before.


Such a cacophony of colours threatened to burn her eyes from her skull but the hat…  Breaking the deafening silence in the room, Estel barked a laugh.


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Aran had always found it decidedly odd, it was rare that you could get silence from an individual woman yet from a gaggle of them it could be achieved in under a minute.  Now that he had his silence and his audience, he could proceed.  Reaching up to his hat, it had taken a little practice but he was able to sweep it from his head as he bowed low to the assembled Aes Sedai and replace it with equal ease as he began to introduce himself.


"Ladies, Ladies and Aes Sedai, my name is Aran.  For a long, long, loooooong time I have buried my aforementioned secret but I can't anymore.  Yet, I can't simply speak this secret aloud."  Slipping his guitar around from his back so it was hanging before him, Aran began to do a quick fine tune of the strings as he continued to speak.  "Indeed, this is a secret that can only be shared through the medium of song.  Why?  Why is music the only way?"


Finishing his tuning, Aran ran his thumb across the strings, producing what could only be described as a mischievous chord.  "Because its about a secret luuuurv."


Smiling at a couple of the chuckles he heard, Aran's fingers began to trace the strings in a major chord.  The sound ringing across the Dining Hall as the Aes Sedai watched, the intro was a catchy tune that settled into a steady melody that he proceeded to add his tenor voice to.


"From the frozen tundra of Illian,

To the deserts of Arafel.

From the friendly folk of Amador,

To the willing wenches of Tear."


"Never has my heart been caught,

Never has it been tamed.

But now I think I've found the one,

The one I'd call my dame."


Two bars of cheeky melody, Aran knew that some Aes Sedai's hackles would be rising but now it was time to ensnare them with their curiosity.  If there was one thing that was just about guaranteed about Aes Sedai, it was that they were as curious as cats once their attention was caught.


"But this lady who has caught my heart,

The lady that I would call mine.

I fear she would never look upon me,

For I am merely five foot and three."


"There is also the fact that I'm quite the coward,

To approach her and ask for a dance.

I'm entirely too shy and petrified,

To approach for she's Aes Sedai."


That did it, those who suspected knew and those who hadn't were now granted the startling revelation.  One of their sisters in the hall was going to be proposed.  What was better was that any possible fear that they might be the one proposed to was thoroughly outweighed by the chance to find out who had become the object of affection for the rainbow guard that had now stepped down from the table and down to the floor.  Now he walked amongst the tables as he spoke rather than sung his dialogue.


"Who?  Who could this lovely lady amongst a veritable swathe of beauties be?  Truly, every single one of you tug on my heart, all of you are equally worthy of my adoration and love.  But, there can only be one."  Those who knew him were smirking behind the sleeves of their dresses at that comment, but he was hardly done.  "But, let us ask some friends of ours.  Sheena Sedai!  Serena Sedai!"


"Yes Aran?"


"What is it, Aran?"


Now that got some looks.  Sheena Sedai nor Serena Sedai weren't to be found in the room, indeed their words came from Aran's mouth with perfect inflection and tone.  The long trip to Shadar Logoth and back had given him more than enough time to practice their voices, especially when he'd conceived of pulling this little stunt.  Besides, it wouldn't hurt.  He wasn't their favourite person to begin with.


"Well, ladies, I was wondering if I could ask you for a little advice.  There's this Aes Sedai I really, really, really, REALLY, really like, what do you think my chances are?"


Looking to his left, Aran shouted.  "Preposterous!"  Looking to his right, he followed with "Poppycock!"  The tune on his guitar progressed to a bouncy march even as he launched into a one man duet.


"Aran, Aran, she is not for you!

Indeed she is not, for true!

You can't even cook you lazy shrew!

And your soup spelt backwards is pous!"


"No one loves you Aran!"


Aran looked over at Estel Sedai with apparent shock on his face, much like the shock that mirrored hers from hearing her voice from his mouth.  "Estel Sedai, why would you say that?  I...  Oh, there is no love to be found from the Blue Ajah tonight.  But maybe, maybe there is another Ajah who could help me."


Progressing to a higher key yet in a minor scale, it retained its bouncy four four even as he called out.  "Harken to me, sisters of the Red Ajah!  Do you think I have a chance?"  Aran didn't bother having them introduce themselves, he ran straight into the melody.  Mainly because all four sisters were present and he used one for every line.  Muirenn, Telcia, Maegan and Saline.


"Young man, young man, presumptuous brat,

How dare you reach for the sun?

Young man, young man, incorriguble cad,

Her love cannot be won."


"It isn't often that sisters of fire,

Agree with the sisters of the sea.

But this time they are right and you should get out of sight,

You rotten rapscallion run and flee."


"Why does no one have anything nice to say?"  Looking over at Saline, Aran looked to Rory in turn.  "What abo-  No, I'm not even going to ask the Green Ajah, I don't think I have the constitution to take that much rejection in one night.  No one seems to believe in me...  Oh, if only the Commander were here."


"I do be here, Aran."


"Commander Stavros!"  Delight was apparent on Aran's face as he asked his invisible Commander for help.  "I need help, there is an Aes Sedai I love but no one will give me hope."


"Then do be letting me tell you my story and do be taking heart that love no be impossible."


Where Aran's music had been bouncy, its tone now adopted military precision as the Commander's voice could be heard throughout the Dining Hall.


"There do be one woman I do be loving above all,

A woman whose heart do be true.

Her beauty do be without rival or equal,

Not even amongst the Red or the Blue."


"Her name do be Arette Sedai,

She once be of the Brown.

She now do be the Keeper,

And she be the one for me."


"Her eyes they do be jewels by which,

My soul and heart do be claimed.

And to her alone do my heart be true,

Until the end of my days."


There was a look of awe on Aran's face as he asked a question.  "Wow, you really love her, don't you?"


Certainty.  "Yes."


Aran looked about the Dining Hall as he continued.  "You know, and this is a slight deviation from my love song I know, I've heard some people whisper you only got your job because Arette loves you.  Any comment?"


"That no be something to be mentioning here, you do be getting such a flogging for this that you be calling the infirmary home for a week."


"Probably, but since you're not really here I'm going to mention something anyway and it goes a little something like this."  The tune was reminiscent of Jak'o the shadows as Aran proceeded to say something that had been on his mind for awhile.  Something that couldn't have been brought up by anyone else in such a way.


"You're a stick in the mud and a lover of rules,

You would shame a stone's stoic nature.

Given that I am a first amongst fools,

Its little wonder that we know no peace."


"Yet as much as I detest, deplore and despise,

The fact that you give orders and risk many lives.

I have never once questioned that you earned your place,

For your history of service is a compelling case."


"You reformed the wedge when Victor Warne fell,

In Arad Doman inspite of the False Dragon's fire.

When Tar Valon was stalked by Mark Evangel,

You rallied the men in a moment most dire."


Laughing, Aran couldn't help but break up the flow of the song to add.  "I'm particularly proud of that line, you may all inform me later how wonderful it was."  With that, he threw himself into the song once more.


"When the city was menaced by Trollocs from the east,

When Evan Tremaine was lost and the line was made weak.

It was you who took up the cry and pressed the attack,

And even as you were felled low, the Shadow was driven back."


"Afterward you slept for nearly a week,

With only love bringing you back from the brink.

Once you had recovered and were on your feet,

Alin Mori'dan did offer you Evan's seat."


"So after great deeds and nearly dying twice,

You have kept us safe yet still some who are like mice.

Scurrying hither and thither with whispers and whiskers,

Carrying envy and malice and most probably boils."


Definitely not the word to end on, but Aran felt the jarring nature of it was appropriate.  That and it was probably true.


"Like two Aes Sedai who shall go unnamed,

Two sisters that I heard cast aspersions and shame.

A duo that deserve both birch and rod,

For being such ignorant cows and clods."


"For as far as the Guard is concerned, one and all,

Arette Sedai did make the right call.

Those of us who serve and do trust your command,

Even a fool like I says proudly 'I follow that man'."


Three bars to finish the song, Aran progressed back to the original tune that he had carried when he had first been singing of love.  It had become dangerously serious, and he was certain that he spotted at least a few black or worried faces from amongst the Aes Sedai who wondered whether he'd overheard them in particular.  Still, he hadn't named names so it wasn't going to be a lynching.  At least not until after he got out of the Dining Hall.


"But, where was I?  Yes, thats right, love.  Oh, and what did you think of that Commander?"


"Do be an exaggeration, I do be just a Tower Guard and you should no be speaking of Aes Sedai in such a manner!"


"Yes Commander, very modest of you and I apologise profusely.  I'm also going to have to apologise to you in advance."


"What do you be meaning?"


"Well, you see, we share more in common than crimson cloaks."


"What do you be meaning by that?!"


"Why, I love our Keeper too.  Unrequited of course, unless sh-  Nope."  Judging from the look on Arette's face at that moment, most likely not unless it was the most buried love to be found.  "Maybe not, but perhaps, by the power of song I may win her heart yet!"


Striking a new key, Aran wasn't entirely certain how many new ones he'd used now, he launched himself into a merry song that might even have had a chance at cracking the grim facades of the Aes Sedai he was strolling about now.  This he truly gave his all, less artistic and more from the heart as was the manner of true troubadour songs.  Maybe he'd even get a pretty blush out of her.


"Once there was a Keeper,

Her name was Arette.

Once there was a Keeper,

On whom my eyes were set.

She has a face untouched by time,

A fancy for books, rhythm and rhyme."


"Hair as long as the Tower is tall,

For her alone I would on knee fall.

Her hair as dark and black as night,

To know its touch I could fly like a kite.

To stare into her deep brown eyes,

I could only give praise, need never tell lies."


"Her hand I imagine soft, gentle but firm,

Like all librarians, tender yet stern.

I would buy her gifts for every day,

Then maybe one day she would swoon and sway.

While I twirled he-"

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The Aes Sedai dining hall had likely never been as quiet before. The silence hummed with curiousity and disapproval but despite the latter feeling it was not broken until the little man really dropped himself into the boiling water with his words. It was amazing that he managed to lift his hat and not be toppled forward but then the ludicrousity begun. Tower Guard Aran, it was a name Arette would remember. And secret love, hmmm? Her eyes wandered slightly but she saw only smooth composures. Maybe his lady love was not really ashamed of it or then she had really mastered the Aes Sedai face. Fair enough, she admitted that she was curious at that point too but she was not going to let him make too much fun of another Sister.


This Aran fellow actually knew how to handle his instrument and his tenor voice was pleasent. Maybe they should consider having some kind of music for their dinners in the future too if not from this particular person. He started with the traditional start about being a free hearted lad who had not loved before. The shy bit earned him a few snorts but he had captured them by making them guess who on earth it could be. Flattery did work on some Sisters too, not her of course. Not from this man even if she wouldn't have minded Con being a bit more eloquent. To imagine him singing her a song like this forced her to bite her lip to supress a smile. It would be so uncharacteristic that her first reaction would be to wonder if he was alright.


When he named the two Blues, it definately got confused looks and Arette had to make sure herself that they were not in the room. For a moment she had thought that it had been one of them or even both despite his supposed coyness - cat's tail, this man had not the slightest clue of the meaning of that word. The uncannily accurate imitations raised a few gasps and Arette looked at Aran with new speculation too. Now that was a very useful ability to have and she tugged the information on her mental repository for further use.


The look on Estel Sedai's face was priceless, though. No, Arette had to remind herself to not enjoy it so much. He was making mockery of Aes Sedai and soon he would really go overboard and they would be forced to take some action. But it hadn't been that bad so far. Maybe he could dance the line and not cross it. So no Blue then. The Red Sisters speaking next definately were recognisable and the first two voices almost made her grin and she covered her mouth with her hand. The lyrics definately matched the speakers except that Telcia might have encouraged him - in private at least. Oh yes, Aran definately should take the advice and end it there before he was going too far.


Con's title definately got her attention and she sat up straighter. If this little man dared to make fun of Con or even worse, her and Con, he was going to regret the day his mother kissed his father the first time. Aran could mime Con's voice perfectly. If she hadn't seen this infuriating miniature man in front of her, she would have been fooled and the familiar voice sent a shiver of pleasure through her spine and for that reaction alone she was furious. Quivering at the edge of her seat, she was prepared to stuff his foul mouth with Air and haul him out. It was such a satisfying image to see him flying through a window and falling with a scream to the Great Square. But did she really want to cause a scene?


One of the embroidered sayings on the Quilt of Wisdom her Brown Sisters had gifted her on the day of her Raising had been 'You are only as grand as the things that you let to bother you.' If she let him see her enraged reaction, he had won and it was him in control of the situation and not her. Sadly she wasn't grand enough to be able to just laugh at it and let it slide off her completely. Grabbing her fork and knife, she begun to saw through her steak imagining that it was his flesh. Her knife jarred against the plate with a noise that made everyone in the table wince and she tried to ease the knuckle-whitening hold on her utensils.


Even as she was seemingly focused on her food, she could not block her ears from his little show that continued and continued. Con's dear voice kept on, singing this time which was something she had never heard from the real man - time to rectify it. Red hot spots of shame bloomed on her cheeks for being put into a position like this, having to listen to a false public love confession that sounded so very real except that he wouldn't have really said things like that. And why didn't he, burn him? It was sweet and agonising at the same time.


When Aran brought up the issue of Con's position, Arette looked up from the plate she had been bent over and gave him such a glare that if looks could have killed, Aran would have keeled over many times dead. Yes, if he kept up with this, he would be spending months in Infirmary, not mere weeks. Flying lessons... mmmm. She kept staring at him hatefully even as she chewed her food, not even tasting it. And then a surprise of surprises, Aran disagreed with the opinion some people had of the way how Con had earned up his post. She could almost, almost forgive everything else Aran had said until that moment just because of that. Aww, she would have to recite this to Con somehow.


Two Aes Sedai... Arette was going to find out their names and they would be made sorry for it just like the ones she had overheard personally. Slandering the persona of another Sister was definately something that earned you a private penance and the topic put Arette on a war path. If only Aran would have stopped there and she would have let it pass. A horrible foreboding was dawning on her as the last lines of the dialogue flowed and her face was a thunderhead. Why why why? She did not know this man, had never seen him in her life so why had he chosen to target her like this? Her hand rose unbidden to touch her hair on the bun. Aran had to have mentioned them too. She didn't have much to be vain about but her long hair were the most beautiful part of her and now they felt sullied, dirty. He had gotten almost to the end of his third verse when she had had enough.


"Silence", she called with a wintery voice. Giving a hard glance to the Yellow Sister sitting closest to the door, she addressed her. "Jolie, escort this... person back to the Yards and no need to be too gentle with him. Sisters, let us continue our dinner." The mocking song did still not end but Arette tried to focus on nothing but her food again. She had most definately lost her appetite, in fact, she felt ill. Staring at her plate and pushing the morsels of food around, she missed the last bit of the show.


Aran was running away from Jolie, waving his hands around wildly and gesticulating. He made elaborate hand motions like placing his hands on his heart then pointing at Arette and pumping his fist over his heart aping a heartbeat that was hastening. Finally loosing her patience Jolie lassoed him with weaves of Air. "EEEEK!", Aran went at the top of his voice. He assumed an embarrassed look and coughed "Err, I mean, Aaach!" And that was last thing he said before getting gagged and dragged out of the room.


Arette forced herself to empty her plate slowly and to sit there under the wondering and, Light forbid, pitying stares until she could retreat to her office without it looking too much like she was running away. She did not say a word to anyone anymore and no one spoke to her. She ran through every novice excercise she knew and tried to calm herself. She had a revenge to plan after all and it was a dish best served cold and with calculation. Aran would learn that she was not someone to be trifled with, Ogier oath on it.


Arette Nenatiar

Taking a grudge

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