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Not a dream after all. ~Mac~


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The grass was still ever so slightly damp when they reached. Having concluded that her surroundings and Arette Sedai were all too real to be a dream, Tirzah had settled into a state of speculation. Her answers had been satisfying yes, given responses to every doubt that was there in her questions, even the vaguely subtle ones. However, once those were quenched, new ones had risen quicker than the previous, and as Arette had asked, she had held her tongue.


Her questions now were to be saved for her future Mentor, Mac. Big Mac. There again came another subject of wonder for her. What was he like? She had met the Tower Guard before, and had laughed at his doings and slow, steady speech. It was not his nature that interested her. Her thoughts lay in the kind of mentor he would make, what talent was hidden beneath the kind gaze. Would he push her hard? An odd thought struck her. These were questions concerning his person, and none would be able to answer them, except for Tirzah herself.


As they grew deeper into the Yards, the setting grew more familiar to her. Memories flashed in her mind of shared lunches with Trainees like herself, some confusing, some admirable, but most just enviable. No more, though. Now she was one herself, a brand new Trainee who was beaming in return for every glance they got as they neared their destination. From the corner of her eye, she saw Arette Sedai’s face soften into a smile, which made her even more pleased. Who knew that an Aes Sedai would back her cause? Who knew a Tower Guard would agree to such a cause? It confused Tirzah.


So caught up in herself and her pondering, Tirzah almost missed the fact that Arette Sedai had stopped walking. She took a step forward, and when she heard no rustle of skirts, she paused and looked back. Realizing that this was where their short journey ended, she studied the area keenly for an approaching figure. “Do we just wait now, Arette Sedai?” Grinning at the impatience in her tone, she turned to face the Sister. “Wait, I think I see him. He's not hard to spot, is he?"


OOC: Arette, I wasn't sure if you were taking part in this too. Looking forward to either of you posting, soon! :D

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Tirzah could obey when it was required, Arette noticed with satisfaction as the girl held to her silence on their walk to the training grounds. It was a trait that conflicted with what Aes Sedai were supposed to eventually be, autonomous actors and bold decision makers, but it would benefit the child in the Yards too. She began to feel more and more out of place the closer they go to the area where the Trainees were at hard work running laps and trying to whack each others with lathes.


Their worlds were just so much apart even though these young men and women would one day serve the Tower and protect her and her Sisters. Not that she would have much need for their services. Or at least she hadn't had so far. In addition to all the sweating and active lifestyle and traveling, their whole attitudes toward everything were different too as the encounter with Mac had proved. But maybe the lifestyle brought about the latter.


She ceased her ponderings and began to look for Tirzah's mentor-to-be during her stay. She noticed also the happy beam on the girl's face as she was now where she wanted to be. It brought a small smile on her lips too as she was glad to see her so satisfied but it also worried her. If she were to break through her block, Tirzah shouldn't be that happy in the yards. She was supposed to come to realizations about herself and not embrace it all and keep ignoring who she really was and could be.


Arching an eyebrow at Tirzah's impatient tone, Arette smiled at the truth of her next words. Big Mac definately was a credit to his nick name. "He does have difficulties with hiding. Come on then." Smiling at the giant of the man as they approached, she waved her hand taking in Tirzah. "Good morning, Mac. Here is your newest student as agreed. She is all yours for now. I doubt that you will be needing me anymore, right? Excellent."


Turning to the novice transformed into a Trainee for a while, she smiled at her with an encouraging nod. "Do your best then, child. Mac, I have marked down our lunch appointment in a week. I shall see you then unless something comes up." With a last glance at Tirzah she wandered off toward the direction of the Library.


Arette Nenatiar

Brown Sister

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Today was going to be interesting.


Big Mac had already known this from the moment he had woken up, it had been the day that had been arranged with Arette Sedai to take a Novice, Tirzah, under his wing as a Trainee.  She apparently had a bit of spark about her, beyond that he didn't really know much so today would be as much a learning day for him as it undoubtedly would be for her.  Hopefully it would be fun too, but time would tell on that one.


Even as he approached them, he had to admit to himself he felt a little trepidation.  He didn't really take students often, not as a full time mentor at least.  He took plenty for particular classes and such, but this was different altogether.  But, he'd learn it all in due course.  Arette Sedai was certainly happy enough to get out of the way as quickly as she could and leave him with Tirzah.  She looked boyish more than anything else, no distinctive chest to mark her as a girl and even her hair as it was worn made the girl's gender ambiguous.  She was standing still, simply watching him and waiting for him to say something.


He supposed he probably shouldn't disappoint.


"You're very small."  Smiling slightly as he patted the girl on the head, he didn't bother ruffling the already scruffy hair.  "I know your name is Tirzah, thats about it.  Tell me about yourself.  Why are you here to begin with?"


She was very small.

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Unless something comes up. She bit down a thoughtless repartee, habit she had acquired that made it difficult for her not to have the last laugh. Even if Arette Sedai wasn’t laughing at her as she bid adieu, her need to retort was almost compulsive. Some day, she’d have to do something about that. For now though, she thought, turning towards the giant of a man who was now patting her head as he loomed over, there was more than enough on her plate to focus on. Her already large grin widened as she heard his words, the deep, slow paced rumble reminding her just a little bit of Forge’s. There was a lull to them that calmed her excitement slightly, but only just. What he was saying was far too worthy of some good natured laughter.


Considering his question for a few seconds, she pondered over the best possible answer she could supply him with. I’m here because I don’t want to wear a dress? Ooh, no, maybe, I know your name’s Big Mac, does that help? or, oh! Better yet: You’re very big. I just thought the first of the things you should know is that I’ve scandalously brilliant powers of observation, just like you. Relishing the reactions such responses could get, she smiled sweetly up at the man. Whether or not he was going to be the best Mentor around for her was still something she could not judge, but if there was one thing she would warm to quickly, it would be his simplicity, and his genial nature that came hand in hand with it. A flicker of another Trainee’s face flashed in her mind, smiling at her as he offered her bread. She would have to find Alwyn soon, she knew.

“Well, I’m here because Arette Sedai thinks I’m doing myself-and the Tower, heh- no good by doing absolutely nothing when in reality I should be studying, learning how to twist lies into truth, looking pretty constantly, walking gracefully down corridors…you know, all that stuff. I think she believes that I would utilise my time more…usefully, were I to spend it in the Yards. And about myself, hmm…” she paused, mulling over where to go next. “I’ve very small, as you so rightly pointed out, but that might have to do with you being very, very big. I wonder if Arette Sedai chose you just because of that?” Another agreeable smile, but she turned a touch sombre as she continued. “I think I can be a good Trainee, Mentor Mac. I’ll work for it too, even if it is just temporary.”



Mentee to Mac and Saline

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"Mentor Mac?  Hah!"


Stepping to the side, Mac laid an arm around Tirzah's shoulder as he began to lead them off.  There were things to be done after all, and they could talk while they walked.  "You're a very sweet girl.  Mentor Mac."  Shaking his head as he laughed, he wondered what the others would say when they heard.  Mentor Mac, it rolled nicely off the tongue and he had to admit he was a bit charmed by it.  Maybe he'd even get used to it.


"I think you'll be a good trainee, Tirzah, and I know that you'll work at it.  Thats why we're going to the armoury.  The first thing a student does is pick their first weapon.  It won't necessarily be the one you end up favouring, though some people think there is some divine calling that allows people to find their best weapon because it just feels right or some nonsense.  But what I'll want you to do is just find a weapon that isn't too heavy, is practical, and you feel that you could learn."


"And here we are."


The ring of hammer on steel had already been audible, but stepping within the armoury seemed to magnify the sound.  That wasn't what caught Tirzah's attention though, Big Mac could see her eyes wandering over the contents of the armoury with a mixture of excitement, awe, and an itching desire to go pick out a weapon.  All sorts were to be found here, ranging from swords to bludgeons to axes to polearms to bows and more.  Removing his arm, he patted the girl on the back as he pointed with his hand to the room.


"Go pick out a melee weapon that you feel is suitable."

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Sweet, was she? Had an Accepted or Aes Sedai told her so, Tirzah wasn’t sure what she would’ve done. In Mac’s case, she took to it in the same good natured fashion Mac had taken his title, and laughed harder as they talked. And when she said talked, it meant that he explained and she, she only listened. She had learnt long ago while practicing in Saldaea the advantages a listener had over a speaker while being taught, and she would not waste those lessons now while having the somewhat warped privilege of training in the White Tower. So when he explained about the weapons, the first task every student had in the Yards, Tirzah merely nodded. And smiled, occasionally. There was no need to go grinning your mouth off all the time after all, and this was something she wanted to take seriously. Even if training next would only be allowed when she was Accepted, she would use this lessons. And who said she couldn’t train by herself, on an idle day that would’ve otherwise been spent floundering in large, large Tar Valon?


When they entered the armoury, her eyes popped out. She did not hide it; she would not bother with containing her wonder at such a display. “So…many…choices…” She mumbled, eyes wide as she took in the hammers and the blades, stepping close to examine the gleam of freshly sharpened steel of a broadsword or in another case, to lightly grip the sabre, a weapon men in her land seemed to favour. These were the weapons for true warriors, for men and women who did not know when their hand moved onto the sword, or where the metal became as solid as the arm holding it. She felt awed yes, but she also felt very small, even more so while standing near Mac. In her mind the sounds of steel played out, ringing in her ears like music. Clashing, thrusting, slashes that missed by inches. Her dream was playing out yet again, but this time she was conscious. The effect, was monumental. She was glad her back was facing Mac, and she was twice as glad that she had always known what weapon she would start out with, well before she had been tempted by an armoury the size of this one.


She spotted it quickly enough, and moved to near it. Picking up the staff, she examined it. The wood was shiny, polished so well that it ached for good use. Tracing her fingers down the oak of the staff, she closed all her fingers round the surface as she reached the middle. Turning around, her eyes were bright as she confirmed any guesses Mac had made. “I want to use a staff. Do you think that would be suitable for me, for a novice-literally, even-to start with?”



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Smiling as he watched Tirzah look through the racks, there was a definite step to her, Big Mac was able to observe that she clearly had already made her choice before she had even come here.  It saved time, but it also worried him until she found what she was looking for.  He'd heard some girls had strange ideas about what would be a good idea to use for a weapon, but Tirzah was showing some good sense in picking up the staff.  It was a well balanced weapon for both attack and defence, the only problem with it was the chance of your knuckles being clipped by your opponent, or lopped off it was a blade.  Still, the versatility of the weapon more than made up for the risk as far as he was concerned.  Then again, he was used to using polearms so it was natural for him.


"No."  Big Mac couldn't keep a straight face as he laughed and clapped Tirzah on the shoulder.  "Its a fine pick, take it outside and I'll join you in a moment.  Go on now."  Watching her leave, Big Mac didn't take long to locate what he was after.  Personally, Big Mac felt that they were a little too loose with people being able to help themselves to the supplies, but no one seemed to abuse it so it never really needed a close eye.  Besides, what would be the point?  Who would need a hundred rags and a thousand bottles of oil?


Stepping outside of the Armoury with the rag and bottle in hand, Big Mac inclined with his head for Tirzah to follow him as he walked past.  Holding up the bottle as she fell in step, Big Mac explained.  "One of the first things you need to learn is how to take care of your weapon.  A staff needs attention if you want to keep it in good condition.  Same as anything else, you treat it well and it will treat you well in turn.  This bottle has oil specifically for that staff."


"The reason the staff needs the oil is so it doesn't become brittle.  If the staff does, it will become a little harder, but it'll be more likely to splinter or even snap as a result.  Its a bit inconvenient in the middle of a fight for your weapon to break on you, so be sure to take good care of it."  Pausing, Big Mac gestured for Tirzah to sit as he seated himself on the ground.  Those that were nearby were busy working their forms or another form of training and they weren't in anyone's way here.


"Use the rag to work the oil in, and while you're doing that we can talk."  Tossing Tirzah the rag as well, Big Mac smiled easily enough as he continued.  "Whats it like being a novice?  And you didn't really tell me much about yourself before."

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His suggestion was a good one, and she started immediately. Dipping the rag in the oil, she was conscious how many people were around them, most too involved to have noticed the little-well, not so little either- pair walk by but some still glancing there way as they sat down. Would these be people she would train with too? While walking, she had noticed that many trainees would work together at once, while a Tower Guard would stand in the distance, supervising, and intervening only when necessary. While the concept of working together was not something out of the extraordinary, it heightened her excitement to start training. She had always been competitive, but in this field, not only would she actually be able to prove herself a little worthier than she did as Novice, she’d meet a whole set of people who would challenge everything she knew, with their superior skill.


“What’s it like to be a Novice…”


As she pushed the now wet rag over the staff, polishing and rubbing carefully, Tirzah began to speak. “It’s not what I expected it to be, I don’t think anyone could have found that it fitted their imaginings. Aes Sedai, for all the glory that they have tied to them really do start at the bottom. A kitchen’s maid, or a stable boy might have it better according to some when it comes to comfort, or hardship. However, no kitchen maid is learning to the same capacity as a Novice.” Dipping another end of the rag into the oil, she continued. “The lessons they learn just don’t interest me, so I am not a good student. My sister though, she’s good. What about yourself? What is the life of a Tower Guard like?”



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  • 2 weeks later...

Listening as Tirzah spoke more from the top of her head rather than with considered thought, Big Mac smiled.  Arette Sedai had been right, she wasn't that interested in what the White Tower offered at all.  No wonder Arette Sedai had been pressed enough to consider trying something like allowing the girl to spend some time as a trainee.  Given time, Big Mac was sure that she would make the right choice herself, he thought that she wanted to be a Tower Guard in part because it wasn't a Novice.  No doubt there was more to it, but the thought occurred to Big Mac nevertheless.


Well, maybe some time training would unromantacise that notion.  If there was more to it, well, they would deal with that as they went.  Either way, she was doing a good job with the staff and working the oil in, Big Mac definitely approved of that enthusiasm.  She would end up deciding to return to her dress and her study, but that didn't mean she had to forget what she would learn.  Indeed, she'd better do him proud, he expected any student of his to keep their training going and to not make the time he spent with them a waste.  Even if she just kept fit.


"Tower Guard?  Boring, unless you keep busy.  Good thing I always keep busy."  Smiling, Big Mac decided to throw in a few details.  "Training and shifts on the wall make up the basics of our life.  Unless we have a mission to go on, like escorting an Aes Sedai somewhere.  Thats about it, thats our job.  The rest we make up as we go along."


Smiling, Big Mac got to his feet and leaned over to pat Tirzah's shoulder.  "Take your weapon with you to your quarters.  Your mission for today is to find Alwyn or Ashley, both of them will be your roommates.  They're around here somewhere, introduce yourself to different people and ask them for directions, they'll help you out and you'll get to know a few people in the process."


Clapping his hands together before him as Tirzah just looked at him, Big Mac laughed.  "I'm serious, off you go.  Tomorrow we will start your training properly.  Use today to familiarise yourself with your surroundings and your roommates."  At that, Big Mac turned and walked away, he had other things he had to do today and he didn't want to give Tirzah a reason to put it off.  She had a whole new world to discover.

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While the conversation lasted, things flowed smoothly. It had been her turn to shut her trap down and listen, and so she did. Whether or not he had intended it, his answer to her question had surprised her. It was not that she did not understand that Tower Guards couldn’t always be on the road, that rest and passing time in the Yard itself was a necessary element in their lives….but. There was something harsh about the word boring. It was a word that was too dull for Tirzah’s reckoning and on the other hand still managed to ring too loud in her mind. Boring?


True that sometimes the most important things were not counted as worthy material for a gleeman’s yarn, but the mystery that encircled the Warders and Tower Guards in Tirzah’s mind made it difficult for her to simply accept his description of the life. Would she have viewed her life the same way, had she been a Tower Guard? It was a curious thought, something she knew would resurface later at night. However, that didn’t stop her from mulling over it now, as Mac continued to speak.


The bubble was only broken when his second instruction came. She had been silenced by his laugh when her reaction had flooded forward, eager as always to burst through the dam and gurgle out in large torrents. Watching the retreating figure now, Mac’s last words resonated in her mind and in a moment of sharp dismay, Tirzah knew just how jagged the ends of a corner could be, when backed into one. While such insight would usually result in peachy smiles, her own had faded as the meaning of the words dawned on her, creating a nervous ripple through her thoughts, scattering those that were neatly placed into clutter.


Find Alwyn. Room with Alwyn.


Suddenly the coin had tipped, and the other side was gleaming brighter than the previous. Except that this was a harsher beam of light, that made her eyes narrow and lips slip into a frown. These were the downfalls, the not so minor disadvantages of past choices she had made while she had still really been what the Tower would’ve could brand spanking new. Alwyn, if one had to paraphrase a flurry of events of one whole day by canning it into short sentences, it was simple to say that it was Alwyn she had first deceived about her nature and purpose in the Tower.


On another day, in another place, such a fact would not bother her. It had not troubled her even then- there had only been the slightest tinge of doubt as she’d left the yards that day, wondering whether it had been right of her to conceal the truth from a lad like Alwyn. Indeed, what made things a little complex was that in Alwyn, Tirzah had found her first friend in Tar Valon. Since then, other faces had been seen and new friendships had been fostered, but there were things she owed Alwyn. And until Mac had brought it up, Tirzah had not considered in the slightest that fortunes would bring her to wonder ever so soon about repaying those debts and furrowing deeper down a trail she knew held more than lunches under the shade.


As she thought about it, things began to become all the more clear. Rising with the tools and weapon Mac had provided her with still in her hands, Tirzah started moving in a definite fashion towards the barracks. It seems that her first acquaintance of the day was to be her other roommate. Idly, Tirzah wondered if Ashley believed in premonitions.



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