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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Old Acquaintainces (attn: Shoar)


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The Warder's Yard would likely remain eternally the same, Annais mused as she glid over the sand and took in the clatter of weapons, the jogging and stretching young men and women and the mentors keeping a watchful eye over all of it. It was quite comforting actually just like the certain stasis like quality that the White Tower had. Someone who lived longer than the normal people needed that stability and knowledge that at least something was permanent. Though with the signs of Tarmon Gai'don drawing closer, there would have to be changes. Even the White Tower would have to adjust or it would keep loosing its prestige and influence in the world like it had. And diplomatical disasters like Dumai's Well most certainly did not help. The Dragon must have possessed the Hall when they gave up the order to kidnap young Jarron al'Tanin if negotiations did not go well.

 

But there was not much she could do about it, not yet anyway. Annie was seriously deliberating to offer herself as a Sitter candidate for the First Voice and then if a Seat in the Hall became vacant some day, maybe her Gray Sisters would deem her worthy enough to represent her Ajah in the Hall. But until that she would focus on the task Phaeadra had given to her, mending the rifts that had deepened between the Ajahs since Karana Majin's stunts. The woman had surely been a master of divide and conquer tactics even though even that hadn't saved her in the end. With the way the Hall had dealt with the Dragon Reborn since... well, Annie could not condemn the former Amyrlin for trying to keep the strings firmly in her own hands. It just wasn't a very safe path she had chosen.

 

So many thoughts when she had come to the Yards to find one particular man who she had once served with. The man's advice during the Aiel War had been solid and Annais had known all three Sisters Shoar Daemor had been Bonded to. She had been sad to hear of the demise of the latest, Nimue of the Yellow Ajah and she had been fairly certain that Shoar had really suffered the final blow. Three lost Bondholders were almost unheard of. But he had been strong enough to survive even that and returned and as long time as it might have been since the last time they had met, Annais had wanted to go and welcome him personally.

 

What she had heard from the little birds, he hadn't changed. He had lectured to Commander Ryota about the respect due to Gaidin. Shoar on his humble behaviour could  put two regular men's arrogance to shame. Nah, but she was exaggerating now. Slightly. Regardless, she had liked the man enough to come and greet him after all this time. She knew exactly where to find him, from his old tree. And true enough, there he was leaning on the trunk with his eyes closed. She was certain that he was not sleeping and that her approach had not gone unnoticed, though.

 

"Attention Gaidin", she barked with her best authoritative voice and Shoar was on his feet in one smooth movement that drew an appreciative smile from Annais before she composed her face.

 

Next she spoke in the squeaky and tremulous voice of a tottering crone. "Young whippersnapper, when I was new to the shawl everything was so much better. Then warders were made of iron and when an Aes Sedai thought to make them jump, they were in the air before she had to even say a word."

 

Abandoning the act, she regarded him mirthfully. "Well Shoar, would you like me to make you hop around the Yard or will you greet an old acquaintaince."

 

Annais Nevell

Gray Sister

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Shoar had been training for most of the morning in solitude, twin blades dancing through the air as he moved from form to form. He would have liked to train with others but he seemed to be avoided a great deal since he returned. "I have noone but myself to blame for that one..." he chuckled to himself. "Don't get very far telling off the current leader of most of these warriors, woolhead."

 

Spinning in a half circle, he completed his last form with a smooth sheathing movement and dropped to the ground, leaning his back against the tree, crossing his legs and closing his eyes. Regulating his breathing, he opened his senses up slowly, as Radzynne had taught him to do long ago. "Breathe. Concentrate. Allow all the senses to be controlled by the Spring. Let them use it's power. Her words floated into the Spring and were absorbed by the font of emotional strength he relied on.

 

As he sat there, he became more aware of the goings on surrounding him. The crack of the lathes as trainees duelled. The barking of instructions from Mentor to Mentee. "Further." The sound of the river nearby flowing, a splash indicating a trainee had thrown a rock into it. The sound of rustling above him, of squirrels scrambling around the branches. "Deeper." The scent of weapons stored in oil from the nearby Armoury. The feel of the breeze on his face. The sound of swishing skirts approaching, of a voice barking instructions. A voice used to command.

 

Unbidden, automatically, Shoar's eyes snapped open and he rose in one motion to stand to attention, staring straight ahead. Then the voice came again, but it was that of an old crone. "Young whippersnapper, when I was new to the shawl everything was so much better. Then warders were made of iron and when an Aes Sedai thought to make them jump, they were in the air before she had to even say a word."

 

Shoar hesitated for a split second, confusion dancing across his face, before the same voice in more normal tones said "Well Shoar, would you like me to make you hop around the Yard or will you greet an old acquaintaince."

 

He turned to face the Aes Sedai, recognition blooming on his face. "Annais Sedai! This is a most unexpected pleasure!" He dropped to one knee, bowing his head, then arose and smiled. "I presume that whippersnapper crack is related to the conversation I had with Commander Ryota. Light, this place is still as full of gossip as I ever remember it." Suddenly he hunched over, using his sheathed swords as a pair of makeshift walking sticks and tottered unsteadily towards her, arms shaking. "But it's true!" he said in a thin, reedy voice. "None of them remember what we are training for! It's all show! There's hardly a true Gaidin among them!" He raised one sword unsteadily and said "Why I could beat them with only one sword! I could..." He made out like the sword he was holding up was too heavy and tilted over to one side, falling. As he landed he rolled and sprang up to his feet, grinning and reattaching his swords to his belt. Annai Sedai raised an eyebrow at him.

 

"Forgive me, Aes Sedai. I fear my time in the Blight has had a more adverse affect on me then I first thought." He smiled "How have you been? Light, the last time I saw you would have been just after the Aiel War, just before Nim..." he halted, a pained look spreading across his face. Shaking himself, he smiled again. "A long time ago. Would you care to go for a walk?" He bowed his head and smiled as he waited.

 

OOC: He's not all bluff and bluster... :P

 

Shoar Gaidin

 

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At least he still remembered her name, Annie thought with an inner smile as Shoar knelt and gave her a formal greeting. She had expected it from him, to uphold a respective conduct in public, but she had to say that she personally favoured the bear hug she had received from Big Mac and some other Tower Guards she had been on missions with. But it just might not be his style, especially not after such a long time and she accepted people as they were.

 

She nodded her head in acknowledgement when Shoar guessed correctly what had brought about her jest. Gossip was everywhere and most Sisters made it their business to listen to it and know what was going on... or assumed to be going on. It was an important difference. She grinned widely when Shoar proved that he hadn't lost his sense of humour in the Blight despite his adversities. There just likely was more than a grain of his true opinion behind it. She hadn't found a fault in the service the Tower Guards she had been on missions with had given and she respected the Warders of her Sisters even if she had never Bonded herself.

 

Her heart went out for Shoar when he mentioned the name of his last Bondholder. "I would love to walk with you", she said quietly and looped her hand on his arm. "You have my deepest condolences, Shoar." Nimue had been a good woman and he wasn't the only one who missed her. But it was a topic he likely didn't want to discuss further and neither did she unless he signaled that he needed an ear and a shoulder. "And lets drop those titles shall we. I'm just Annais or even better, Annie. I remember managing to persuade you to actually call me that once." She smiled at the memory. "As for what I have been up to since the last time... alot. After the War I traveled as usual and negotiated some treaties and headed other missions, spent some time in the Borderlands too as usual. But most of the time I was in Altara advicing the King and then the current Queen."

 

She looked a bit forlorn for a moment but suppressed the melancholy quickly. She was a fool to still remember Lord Asnobar and it was unacceptable that he came to her mind first when she thought of her time in Altara. They had both known that it was temporary and there hadn't supposed to be any feelings involved save mutual respect and liking. "Do you ever feel lonely?", she heard herself asking and she wanted to bite her tongue off. This wasn't at all where she had wanted to take the conversation. It was supposed to be light-hearted until they found their footing around each others again.

 

Annais Nevell

Gray Sister

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Shoar smiled as Annais placed her hand on Shoar's arm and they began to walk through the Yards, heading for the river. They would stop from time to time, watching the trainees hard at work. Annais spoke as they moved closer to the river "And lets drop those titles shall we. I'm just Annais or even better, Annie. I remember managing to persuade you to actually call me that once. As for what I have been up to since the last time... alot. After the War I traveled as usual and negotiated some treaties and headed other missions, spent some time in the Borderlands too as usual. But most of the time I was in Altara advicing the King and then the current Queen." Annais smiled while she spoke but it gradually grew less as she finished. Shoar frowned slightly, sensing something else motivated her words but kept silent.

 

"Annie... Light, that was long ago." he thought to himself, his one eye staring as he became lost in memory. He shook himself out of his revery as Annais said "Do you ever feel lonely? Shoar blinked and halted walking, causing Annais to stop and look up at him, concern on her face. "Did I say something wrong? I'm sorry if I did, this is supposed to be a happy occasion..." Shoar shook his head, not saying anything as he led Annais to Radzynne's Patch and they stood, watching the river.

 

"No, you do not say anything wrong... Yet yes, I do feel lonely." He smiled sadly, turning to face her. "Three kinds of loneliness I feel. Three losses... One for the little sister I could not save. Nimue Daemor Stormsong, my adopted sister and one of my closest friends, lost when she sent me on a reconnaisance mission while she left for a secret mission on her own. One for the friend, someone who I spent my childhood in the Yards with, whom I loved as my own sister. Reile Tarkene, whom assumed my bond on the third losses death. Lost while we were seperated, somwhere near the Aiel Wastes. The last for the lover I lost... Ryell Jagad, Sitter of the Green Ajah, my wife, my love, my life. Lost during the battle of Shienar, many, many years ago." He wiped his eye, smiling.

 

"Yes, Annie, I feel lonely. I feel lonely to know I one of a forgotten breed. Warders surviving the Bleakness are rare at best. However, Ryell would kill me if I died." he chuckled softly. "I feel lonely when I look at the Yards today and know that none of the familiar faces are here. Alin, Radzynne, Matalina, Eos, Sparhawk... All gone." He sighed, but then he grinned again. "But yet, I have hope. When I see the Trainees getting educated, I have hope. When I see the Accepted and the Novices, I have hope. Things may have changed dramatically since I was here last and much of the pride has gone... But perhaps that is a good thing. Things are enduring, surviving. Changing, yes... But we move on, we find new purpose. Life will continue, we need to continue with it." He grinned cheekily. "Even grumpy old codgers need to move with the times."

 

He smiled, his eye gazing at the bubbling water, lost in past thoughts.

 

Shoar Gaidin

 

 

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Cursing her lack of tact as Shoar stopped walking, Annais hurried to ask if she had done something wrong even though she knew that she had. She had been inconsiderate and selfish and if she couldn't control herself better than this, she would be in serious troubles in negotiations. She had been thinking just herself and allowed herself to wallow in her own problems that were nothing when compared to what Shoar had been through.

 

Shoar went on to speak of his lost Bondholders and there was nothing Annie could do but lay a comforting hand on his shoulder and to listen. The Yards definately changed more than the White Tower even though they had lost so many Sisters too. She knew that if she left on a mission again, there wouldn't be many of her old companions left. He ended his words on a positive note, though, and he was right: there was hope. She herself hadn't noticed the dramatical change and loss of pride Shoar spoke of even though she had been gone for nearly ten years herself but the Yards had never been as much her place.

 

"The Wheel never ceases its weaving", she agreed softly and then chuckled. "And you are not that grumpy old codger. You should meet Captain Paranov some time, he is still reasonably young but sour enough for two old men."

 

"But you spoke of finding a new purpose. Have you found yours, Shoar?"

 

Annais Nevell

Gray Sister

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Shoar grinned. "Indeed! Always turning, weaving new stories, new lives, ever and on. We must keep up or else we are left behind." He smiled, turning to face Annais. "Commander Ryota said that to me. Though he wasn't quite that polite..." He laughed. "Oh yes I am a grumpy old codger. I admit it, though since my... 'encounter' in the Yards yesterday, I am feeling much, much better." He grinned and shook his head. "I felt and acted like a Light-blinded fool, truth to be told. But it was a necessary step for me to re-integrate properly..."

 

Annais smiled back and said "But you spoke of finding a new purpose. Have you found yours, Shoar?" Shoar looked taken aback for a second, staring back, then he smiled slightly. "Not at the moment... I am eternally bound to the Tower, to being a Gaidin. It is my purpose, to protect those that choose to become Aes Sedai. My skills are not well suited to being a Tower Guard... I was trained to be a Warder and that is what most of my skills are for. I can suffice as a Tower Guard but they recieve a different style of training then I did." He chuckled "In many ways the training they recieve nowadays is far superior to the training I recieved. They learn more about what is needed to protect the Tower as a whole, whereas I was taught how to protect the Aes Sedai as an individual." He paused "That may have been due to my mentor, though."

 

"No, I do not have a true purpose yet. I could and would bond again, but I don't know if any Aes Sedai would want a 53 year old Gaidin, let alone one who has lost three Aes Sedai before her." He smiled, rubbing his eyepatch. "The spirit is ever young, but the flesh is becoming old. I still have quite a few years left in me yet..." He grinned and winked. "But I don't know what the future holds." He knelt down, picking up a handful of smooth stones, staring at the river as Annais did the same, lost in his thoughts.

 

Shoar Gaidin

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It was interesting to hear of the shift of focus and paradigm in the Tower Guard training but with her knowledge of strategy it was better to have soldiers who knew their role in the big picture of defense than individual fighters defending their protegees. Soldiers made armies and warriors made good body guards. White Tower needed both but in years to come it would be armies who resolved the fate of the world.

 

There were so many things to say but she waited patiently for him to finish. She thought for a moment and decided to start with the bleak reality. "The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills but there are signs are in the air, Shoar. The Karaethon Prophecy is getting fulfilled and we are moving toward the Last Battle. I don't want to sound like a pessimist but you might yet outlive many in the Yards and in the Tower."

 

"And 53 is not that old but my perspective on age is slightly different than yours. Also the Bond does grant extra vigority. You haven't lost your skills and will to serve so any Sister who would disregard you is narrow sighted. And with the times ahead of us... most Sisters in the Tower will likely be Bonded sooner or later." That included her which was a frightening thought. Annais had never had a Warder before and sharing such an intimate connection after living so long without one meant stepping on an unknown territory. She would have to get to know the Tower Guards closer again because no matter how pressing the need, she would not let someone access into her mind and feelings who she did trust completely.

 

She chuckled ruefully. "And this really was supposed to be a happy occasion. Don't mind me being storm crow here. Anyway, they claim that old dogs don't learn new tricks easily but all knowledge is worth having. Even if you Bonded again, it might be beneficial to learn what the Tower Guards have to teach."

 

Annais Nevell

Gray Sister

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Shoar tossed a few pebbles up and down in his hands, listening to the words of Annais. "The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills but there are signs are in the air, Shoar. The Karaethon Prophecy is getting fulfilled and we are moving toward the Last Battle. I don't want to sound like a pessimist but you might yet outlive many in the Yards and in the Tower." Shoar nodded, staring at the river. "A sobering thought, to be sure. But not entirely unexpected. The signs of something shifting in the world even reached me in the Blight."

 

"And 53 is not that old but my perspective on age is slightly different than yours. Also the Bond does grant extra vigority. You haven't lost your skills and will to serve so any Sister who would disregard you is narrow sighted. And with the times ahead of us... most Sisters in the Tower will likely be Bonded sooner or later." Shoar laughed at this, nodding his head in agreement. "Aye, you are right, Annie. My skills have not dulled... I understand surviving in the harshest of territories, I understand fighting one against many and I understand commanding bodies of men in battle. What they teach the younglings now... As I said, it is different and in ways better." He paused as Annais opened her mouth to speak.

 

"And this really was supposed to be a happy occasion. Don't mind me being storm crow here. Anyway, they claim that old dogs don't learn new tricks easily but all knowledge is worth having. Even if you Bonded again, it might be beneficial to learn what the Tower Guards have to teach." He laughed at that, nodding. "Aye, I will be. I have already learned much I had forgotten about the proper way to address cheekie trainees for one!" he grinned impishly, a strange look on an older man. "I had best not tell her about the prank I have planned..."

 

"The Guard has much to teach me, as I feel I have much to teach them... And if I do bond again, as will be my fate, I feel, I will always train and learn what they teach to heart. As I will always teach if they should ask. 'We can never learn enough', as Radzynne constantly used to tell me." He unsheathed one of his swords, flipping a pebble into the air and hitting it with the flat of the blade, shooting a stone into the nose of a sleeping trainee nearby. "I would continue with your training, I heard Commander Ryota about earlier and I don't know how impressed he would have been!" Shoar called. "Hah, he probably would have blamed me!"

 

He smiled and offered his arm to Annais again. "It is a happy occasion! I remember our time on the War Council together, it is good to see you again! How about you, if you don't mind me asking, Annais Sedai? Any plans to Bond?"

 

Shoar Gaidin

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Annais nodded and smiled as Shoar agreed with her comment about continuous learning. She watched with curiousity as the Gaidin picked up a small stone and hurled it at a sleeping young man by using his blade as a bat of a kind. His aim hadn't gotten any worse over the years as the young man startled awake and scurried off with embarrasment. She took the arm that he offered and smiled back at him.

 

She tsked with slight vexation when he added in the honorific and slanted him a sly look at his question. "Are you offering yourself, Shoar Gaidin? Be careful or you might find yourself snatched sooner than you think." She was teasing of course but she was thinking on the prospect now. Even thought Bleakness and lost Bonds could be a problem, it was good in her mind if at least one of the partners knew what to expect. And she definately prefered someone experienced and a bit older than an over-eager young man new to the cloak who was bent on proving themselves and prone to recklessness. Someone like Mireina Sedai's Dorian who had killed her father. The vision still haunted her nightmares after over a century.

 

But it was too early to know yet. They had both changed alot since the last time and likely Shoar hadn't even meant it to imply that maybe she might consider him. "There has never been a good reason to Bond before and I have trusted fully the Tower Guards who have accompanied me. In past ten years I have been posted to a position in a fairly safe environment and now I have a task here in the White Tower. But I need to start preparing for the... well, you know before hand. And Bonding is one of the things. It would be dangerous to enter a battle with an unknown and untested weapon and companion with you. I want time to get adjusted to it."

 

"And time to get to know the person of course. Some Green Sisters might be able to see their Warders as just tools but I need to know the person well to open my mind to them like that."

 

"How soon did it take with your Bonded ones to find a working balance? And was it somehow different with Ryell than the others because you loved each others? Or did that come only later?"

 

Annais Nevell

Gray Sister

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Shoar strolled with Annais down past the river, not heading in any specific direction, just wandering aimlessly. "Are you offering yourself, Shoar Gaidin? Be careful or you might find yourself snatched sooner than you think." He laughed at this , grinning. "Well good to see us oldies are still desired as Protectors!" he thought to himself.

 

"There has never been a good reason to Bond before and I have trusted fully the Tower Guards who have accompanied me. In past ten years I have been posted to a position in a fairly safe environment and now I have a task here in the White Tower. But I need to start preparing for the... well, you know before hand. And Bonding is one of the things. It would be dangerous to enter a battle with an unknown and untested weapon and companion with you. I want time to get adjusted to it." She paused at this and added "And time to get to know the person of course. Some Green Sisters might be able to see their Warders as just tools but I need to know the person well to open my mind to them like that." Shoar eyed her askance at that, curious. "Hmmmm... Maybe the Greens have changed slightly in the time I have been gone..."

 

"How soon did it take with your Bonded ones to find a working balance? And was it somehow different with Ryell than the others because you loved each others? Or did that come only later?" she asked turning to look at him. Shoar pondered the question a moment and then answered, turning to face her in turn. "With Ryell, I think the fact that we loved each other both made it more difficult and much easier at the same time. I found that in certain areas we complemented each other perfectly but in others we found it difficult to co-exist." He smiled at the memories. "As she was Green Ajah, my militray skills were greatly enhanced by continuous training and when we fought, we didn't need to speak to each other, we just moulded, flowed together, our skills each coming into the fullest of use together. Whereas if it was Diplomatic circles, we tended to disagree and while we kept it out of public, it was the source of many fiery arguments behind closed doors." His eye twinkled in memory. "With Reile... I never had the chance to work out the proper bond with her. The bond was severed before I made it to her side... Something I have always regretted, blamed myself for." He said, still smiling. "I have come to accept the loss, however... A day doesn't go by that I don't miss them."

 

"Nimue again was different. She was not much of a fighter." He laughed softly at the memory of the tiny Aes Sedai. "But due to her being a Yellow, I studied medicine and herbalism, skills that would help her the most. When she was about healing someone, she did not need to say anything, we new instinctively what was needed and what needed to be done. She was an excellent Diplomat as well. She did not know much about fighting nor did she maintain a very large Eyes and Ears network, so she relied on me to assist her in both of those." He grinned, old memories coming to the surface. "Both, Ryell and Nimue, did not take us long to find a working balance at all. Part of what makes a good Gaidin is identifying what their Sedai requires and fitting in with them perfectly. Which is why I will never pass out my bond freely... That fit MUST be there. Or else the partnership will be flawed."

 

"A Gaidin is there to become the other half of the Aes Sedai, Annais Sedai. That is why there is a difference between the Tower Guard and the Gaidin, why I dedicate my life to the path of the Gaidin. The Tower Guard are there to protect ALL Aes Sedai and this city at the expense of their own life, one of the most noble callings. A Gaidin is more then just a protector, they are everything that their Sedai cannot be and everything that they are. The greatest Gaidin are not those who can fight the best, but those who can truly mould with their Sedai, to form the entity that so many outside the Tower see, the pristine, serene Aes Sedai and the Gaidin who protects, aids and completes her." Shoar stopped, looking embarassed. "My apologies, I did not mean to lecture... Teaching about Gaidin is one of my most favourite subjects." He smiled sheepishly.

 

Shoar Gaidin

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Shoar went on to tell to Annais about his former Bondholders and she listened intently. She arched her eyebrow at the mention of disagreements about diplomatical matters and wondered what particular topics had been inflammable. It might have been different because they were lovers but as negotiations were her bread and butter, her Warder would have to share similar view points or then leave her work to her. She squeezed his arm to comfort when he spoke of Reile, especially when he mentioned blaming himself for not being there when she died. Only... how was it even possible that they were Bonded? Maybe Reile had sent him somewhere else right away. It just didn't sound feasible but Shoar spoke on and she dropped the line of thinking.

 

She wondered how Nimue had died when she hadn't been interested in battles, maybe she had been there in Healing capacity. But again, where had Shoar been? What ws it with the Sisters Bonding and then not letting their Warders to be there to protect them? It was a surprise to hear that Shoar had taken care of Nimue's Eyes and Ears but a most interesting fact. She agreed with his opinion that a good Warder balanced out their Aes Sedai and it would be interesting to one day to be in a partnership where you shared everything, even your feelings. She could see the temptation that made had to cross the border of friendship to something else but in her opinion love complicated things and hindered both the Aes Sedai and Warder in their roles. Shoar would likely disagree.

 

"Don't worry about lecturing", Annais assured him with a smile. "It was interesting to hear and when you are taught, it is best done by an expert of the field. I don't agree with you about Warders being everything their Bondholders are too. Gaidin may be alot but they are not superior beings who can become perfect in everything. It is better to become truly good in what they naturally excel in and what complements their Aes Sedai well than to try and be a bit of everything."

 

"I don't know what I would I would seek in a Warder to be. Likely just compatible personalities, good fighting skills and a good head on their shoulder. Should I look for something else too? And what matters of Diplomacy did you and Ryell argue about if I may pry?"

 

Annais Nevell

Gray Sister

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Shoar listened to Annais' words, nodding at certain points. He chuckled at the superior beings comment and smiled as she finished up, pondering the question she had asked. "What I meant when I said they need to become everything their Aes Sedai are is that they need to learn, to understand what their Aes Sedai's specialty is. Yellow's are considerd the Healing Ajah, so a knack for healing methods and means would work well for a Yellow's Gaidin. But I do concede the point that a Warder needs to fill in the gaps in their Sedai's knowledge more importantly then complementing what they already know."

 

"Aye, those are three of the most important traits for a Gaidin." He paused "And practically ALL fighters now I think on it. The last especially. Now, as for your last point..." Shoar considered his words carefully for the next point. He chewed his lip, staring thoughtfully at Annais. "Ryell's approach to diplomacy was usually blow something up near them with the power. If that didn't work, send Shoar in to crack heads. There were arguments held in private over how to handle more... 'delicate' issues. I preferred a more 'subtle' approach to diplomacy. Less screams and bloodshed, you know the thing. Ryell preferred more of both." He laughed at the memory. "With Nimue, she really was a superb diplomat and I never had an argument with her. She knew exactly how to handle each situation and I always left those areas to her."

 

He threw another pebble up and down in his hand, thinking back. "Ryell's explosiveness and her impulsiveness is what led her to laying my Bond onto Reile on her supposed death. As soon as Ryell 'died' my bond transferred to Reile. Reile died before I made it to her side... All because I spent time searching for Ryell. Hers was the only break where I didn't KNOW she was dead. She hasn't been seen in over 25 years, so I have come to accept it long ago... But I just didn't know. I didn't feel her die, Annie." He shrugged and smiled. "It has taught me that falling in love with your Bondholder is not a recommended thing... Especially if they are a Green and prone to get into trouble." He smiled sadly, catching the pebble as it fell.

 

"But yes, you'll find a Gaidin. Or you won't!" He grinned. "Some Aes Sedai never find a Gaidin to bond. As for what skills you are looking for... That is advice I honestly cannot give. Your Gaidin is forever in your head, forever there, ever a dedicated servant, friend and partner. The skillset needed is different for each Sedai. The BASIC skills each Gaidin needs should have already been hammered into his head. Skill with the sword, survival skills and so forth. From there they learn what they must to compliment their Sedai as best they can. I, myself, have learned many strange things in the course of my years" He laughed, remembering the dancing lessons.

 

Shoar Gaidin

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Shoar's story of Ryell's approach to diplomacy made Annais laugh with him. Poor Shoar definately had had to protect his Aes Sedai from herself at those occasions. And Nimue definately had been a harmonious woman who could bring others to concord. Her death was a loss to the White Tower and she didn't want to ask Shoar how it had happened and bring up more sad memories. Her face hardened at Shoar's revelation of how he had come to become Bonded to Reile. If anyone had ever found out, Reile would have been in trouble and deeply. But then she had been in trouble, abandoning her post as a Keeper like that. The warrant of her arrest had been officially called off only when Shoar had come back and confirmed that she was dead before getting Bonded to Nimue.

 

The circumstances of Ryell's Bond snapping were definately strange but his comment about not falling in love with your Bonded Aes Sedai made her arch her eyebrows in surprise. Mainly because she had thought about it but never voiced the question. But it was merely a coincidence. She gave yet another compassionate squeeze on his arm at his sad smile. His comment about possibly not bonding made her nod slightly. Last Battle coming or not, she would not just grab the closest Tower Guard and lay the weave on them. There would have to be a special connection.

 

"Oh, what kind of things have you learned over the years? And should we maybe decide a destination to walk to? What do you like to do on your free time? I always like to try out new things so maybe you could lead us to somewhere interesting."

 

Annais Nevell

Gray Sister

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Shoar scratched his head. "Well, truth be told the only place I really got anymore is the Gaidin's Way, where my lodgings currently are. Most of my experience with the town was as the Chief Of Security so 'fun' usually meant someone had lost their temper." he laughed.

 

"So perhaps we can decide together where to go. I am pretty much completed with my training for the day so for a day, allow me to be your Gaidin, Aes Sedai." he bowed low, grinning. She laughed and said "Shoar, Shoar, in such way you tempt me. But today you can act as my Gaidin if you will. Maybe after a sweaty day of training you wouldn't mind bathing in the Shienaran way. Are you familiar with Mistress Elin's fine establishment?"

 

Shoar's eyes widened slightly and the Spring leapt up to consume the embarassment he could feel rising. It had been years since his very Shienaran viewpoints had come to the fore and his old habit for blushing was not completely gone. The Spring calmed him, the moment of panic passing as he settled into it, drawing on it's strength. "If that is your wish, so shall it be my command! he said, bowing his head.

 

Shoar smiled and walked with Annais, heading for the gates. "As for strange things I have learned... Light, there's a lot. Apart from the standard training you recieve, I have studied medical arts, diplomacy, dancing, foreign customs, shadowspawn studies... There are more 'specialised' things I have learned during my service." he smiled, tapping his nose. "I have learned from rogues, from warriors, from scholars and from farmers. One of my major jobs with Nimue was to watch for peoples reactions. I have a knack for reading peoples reactions, no matter how subtle. With Ryell, it was providing her with information about who we were meeting or fighting. In fact a lot of my job was information gathering."

 

They had nearly reached the gate. "There's more but I'm sure it must be boring you, hearing how fantastic I am." He adopted a nonchalant pose for a second then broke it with a laugh. "As always, forgive my quirky sense of humour." he smiled. Then he remembered where they were heading and swallowed as they passed through the gate, reaching for the Spring and settling a bit as it flowed into him. "It's just a Shienaran bath like back home... What can go wrong?"

 

Shoar Gaidin

Captain Beetroot Reporting!

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The reaction to her suggestion was certainly unexpected and Annais grinned pleased at the colour that bloomed on Shoar's face. She brushed his cheek with a smirk. "You are a rare bird, Shoar. Until now I hadn't met a man of your age who blushes. So pretty. And soon I'll get to see if other parts of your go wonderfully red too." It gave her a pause, though. It had been over a year since she had bantered with anyone like this or even wanted to. Maybe she was finally starting to get over things. Odelia would be pleased and so was she of course. Though knowing Lia, it might be best to not mention anything or she would be getting ideas.

 

Shoar finally answered her question and she regarded him with slight alarm when he said that he was good at reading people. But she didn't have that dark secrets to hide and it might be even interesting to test some time if he could see through her facade. He mentioned again gathering intelligence and likely it meant that he had done the job of interpreting it too. Did he still have his networks? She could maybe put his skills at test some time with a few reports of her own.

 

His last comment made her laugh with amusement. Her assesment of his humility had been quite on spot. Or then he was just trying to hide nervousness if his gulp was any indication. In any case it was most entertaining. "You haven't managed to bore me yet. What have you read from me so far? And do you still actively gather information?"

 

Annais Nevell

Gray Sister

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Shoar grinned and said “Well that’s a relief. Many other people call me boring. Trainees, for example.” He chuckled, remembering sleepy faces at his last talk on the Bond. “My Bond Studies class is a real winner, let me tell you,” The Spring hovered in his mind, continuing to relax him, to calm him. He had no idea how it would hold up when they reached their destination, but he would deal with that when they arrived.

 

He listened to her last words and then said “A moment, if you will Annie. I will need to think on that a tad.” He withdrew into thought, pondering on all he had picked up during their conversation. ”There is an old hurt there, an old love or an old crush perhaps…” Facial reactions, impressions, body stance, all began flowing through his mind as he went through their meeting from start till now.

 

”Genuine curiosity over the Bond.. Giving serious thought to looking for a Gaidin. Hmmmmmm…” He mulled over it some more then smiled and said “My apologies, I am not quite as on top of it as I once was. Trollocs and Myrdraal have surprisingly few facial expressions.” He grinned then took on a serious tone.

 

“Surprisingly little that you haven’t already told me.” He said eventually. “I picked up on the desire to begin looking a little more seriously for a Gaidin because the Last Battle is approaching before you said so. Aes Sedai tend to be harder to read then the rest.” He smiled “One thing I did notice is you hide a hurt from a fresh wound of the emotional kind. I would say no more then 2 years old and even that is pushing it.” He paused, reflecting, then nodded. “Yes, judging by the way you reacted to certain things, definitely within that time period. The reactions you had when I spoke of Ryell and my own pains from many years ago.”

 

“Since I have returned I have begun gathering plenty of information from around the world… You never know what information can end up being helpful.” He paused at this, wondering if Roshgar had more reports for him… He had sent out a few requests earlier in the week. “I hope I answered your questions to satisfaction, I find myself distracted during this walk.” He smiled slightly, the Spring rising up again to consume growing anxiousness rising inside him, calming him once more.

 

Shoar Gaidin

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Young people. Annais shook her head slightly when Shoar described his students. Although the teacher had to take some responsibility of their sleepiness too. She had come to notice that slightly different environments kept students more alert and bringing in some physical activity to phase the lessons worked too. But likely a Warder would know alot more about the latter method than her. Her question about his observations clearly gave him a pause and he was thinking on it. And he had used her nick name, a good start. She flinched lightly at the mention of an old hurt. If she was this transparent, likely her Sisters had picked up something too even if she spoke with rare people about this personal matters. And them she was comfortable with knowing anyway. She shrugged to incline that he might be onto something but that she wasn't entirely comfortable speaking about it. It just didn't feel entirely fair to not share anything of herself when Shoar had spoken openly of his Bonded ones.

 

"It ended a year ago when I was summoned back to the White Tower. It should have never even started or I should have ended it sooner before I got too... attached." She had went against what was right as he was married even if there wasn't real warmth between him and his wife. And she should have ended it more firmly in her letters. It was just difficult as she could not lie in written word either and Milo had gotten to know her frighteningly well in the time they had spent together. If she thought about it realistically, he could become a real risk some day even if she wasn't really that significant at the moment. "But Aes Sedai are human too - and women at that - and we crave for companionship", she sighed but her smile was returned when she thought of her maid. "Although loyal servants can become so much more over the years, more like family and fill some of that gap." She wondered if Shoar's other Bondholders had felt the need too but that was far too private to be asked about.

 

She definately should one day compare what kind of news she received when compared to Shoar's. She always found it delightful to see what things others were especially interested of and what kind of Eyes and Ears they had recruited. "What is distracting you my dear Shoar?", she asked mischievously. "Maybe it is being a man and finding it difficult to walk and talk at the same time? I'll have to remember to add that to my list of requirements for a potential Warder." She squeezed his arm affectionally. "But worry not, we are almost there. Or wait, maybe that is exactly what you are worried about. But we won't bite." She shook her head amused at his reactions.

 

Shienaran Style Spa was a fancy establishment and they were greeted by Mistress Elin, the proprietor herself. She was the third woman of the same name that Annais remembered and her grandmother had appeared just the same, more than slightly plump and bubbling with gregariousness. Annais exchanged the necessary polite greetings with her before biding her goodbyes for short time to Shoar and telling him to meet her at the pool. Men and women had their separate dressing quarters and there were private rooms for dining and socialising and treatments such as heavenly massages and manicures. Sadly they wouldn't use such services today. She allowed herself to be guided to the women's quarters that were as stricly guarded against uninvited men as their namesake's in Shienar and accepted thankfully the help for undoing her buttons and taking the decorations away from her hair. Her hairdo would be completely ruined by the water and Shoar would be exposed to a side rare people saw, her boring straight hair that got painstakingly curled every morning.

 

She cloaked her slim form to a bath robe and headed to the pool to wait for him to emerge. She didn't have to watch the other bathers for a very long time but considering that her preparations had likely taken longer, he had to still feel a bit nervous even if he hid it really well. It was most entertaining. She shed her robe and wasn't surprised that she didn't catch too many glances. Her body wasn't a shapely hour glass that got ogled at but she was skinny with slender hips and small breasts. Not much of a looker but she had accepted it long time ago and had no qualms about ascending to the pool stark naked. She was kind enough to not fix Shoar with a look as she followed her but swam around a bit and submerged her head wetting her hair that begun to straighten immediately.

 

She did admire the broad shoulders and planes of breast muscles above the surface when she turned to him finally. Her first realization was the number of scars that were the testaments of the many battles he had been through. Not many in the Yards could present a similar resume. "Ah well, you know my dirty secret now. I would look like a wet dog without my Odelia's professional hand. If someone managed to steal her from me, I would be in deep trouble." It was easy to joke about it because it was so unlikely that Lia would ever abandon her. "You look alot more relaxed now and I'm glad of it. This really isn't that bad, is it?"

 

"My father and his men who raised me up, those sweet rogues, would have loved this place even if this is quite innocent." She grinned. "Such stories they always told. My favourite was the one about a Lugardian merchant who passed out to a ditch after a wild night. Lugardians are supposedly reknown for their... size and a passing by lass from outside decided to see herself if this was true. The next morning when the merchant woke up and felt the nature's call, he found a pretty blue ribbon tied on his... well... Looking at the decoration for a moment, the merchant said" Imitating the local accent, Annie rumbled. "I don't know where you have been to, boy, but it looks like you won the first price."

 

Chuckling at the bittersweet memories she looked at him. "Do you know any good stories?"

 

Annais Nevell

Gray Sister

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Shoar felt more edgy the closer they got to their destination, to the point that he descended almost completely into the Spring to calm himself. They were met by a plump, jolly woman, the proprietess of the Bathhouse, Mistress Elin.

 

Here they went their seperate ways, Annais being led away by Elin and Shoar being led away by one of innumberable attendants to the men's quarters. He glanced around, noting with satisfaction a large number of Towels available. He reached up and unclasped his Fancloak, folding it up neatly and then took off the rest of his clothes. He left his hair tied up in a ponytail and the eyepatch in place. Donning two towels, he walked out and made his way to the pool.

 

He arrived to find Annais waiting on him, clad in a robe. He bowed to her then his mind dove for cover into the Spring to avoid the explosion of red on his face as she doffed her robe and entered the pool. He waited till she was submerged before quickly removing his own towels and went in after her, not yet submerging his head, crouching so only his head was visible above the water.

 

She rose and Shoar raised an eyebrow at Annais' hair, noting it had straightened and lost the curl it had had before the pool. She said "Ah well, you know my dirty secret now. I would look like a wet dog without my Odelia's professional hand. If someone managed to steal her from me, I would be in deep trouble." Shoar smiled and listened to her next words. "Ahhhh well, if you had had me do this 30 years ago and I would have been able to provide the water with it's own heat source on account of the blushing. I suppose I am old enough to accept most things as they come." he grinned at the blatant lie, knowing he was deep in the Spring to avoid the inevitable. He submerged himself, reaching up to undo the ponytail. He rose up, rubbing the water from his eye, shaking his head to let his hair, grey sprinkled with black, loosen up. He grinned and winked. "You're not the only one with a dirty little secret either."

 

He reached up and removed the eyepatch, keeping his hidden eye closed and gradually opening it, letting it become used to the light slowly. He saw Annie's arched eyebrow as he put the eyepatch on the ledge of the pool and he said "It lessens my ability with the sword due to the loss of peripheral vision, helps to keep my skills sharp. Also gives me an unexpected edge in combat when needed. I picked up the idea from a man in the Aiel Wastes. Only don't tell anyone back at the Yards, I don't want too many people to know." He smiled and stood up a little higher, absent mindedly scratching the scar given to him by the Fade Lord in the Borderlands. It was darker and deeper then the others, stretching from shoulder to waist.

 

He listened to Annie's story and laughed, appreciating the humour more so now that he was becoming more relaxed. He pondered her question, thinking. "Probably none as amusing as that one. Shienaran's tend to talk more on warfare and battle stories then humourous ones." He smiled "Of course, I do know some amusing battle and training stories. I once remember a Wardling of mine whom I took for a trip up the Blight, many many years ago. We were there so he could experience survival in the harshest of environments. We were camped out one night and the youngling was on guard. He allowed sleep to creep up on him though, and a small band of Trollocs were nearly upon us when by Bond Sense woke me up. I fought them off while the Wardling did not stir, despite the roars of the Trollocs and the clash of steel. Eventually I dispatched the last Trolloc and the boy finally woke up. His first words were 'I just dreamt we were attacked by Trollocs in the middle of the night...' The look on his face when he saw the dead beasts was quite amusing. Not quite as amusing as the look on his face when he saw the look on MY face though." Shoar grinned cheekily. "He didn't sleep soundly for a few weeks after that."

 

"That is one of many stories I have, just as I am sure you have many as well." He smiled, dropping down to allow only his head to remain above water, stretching his legs out with a sigh. "We have the rest of the day though! And yes, I am cheating by dwelling in the Spring to avoid my embarassment and my very Shienaran tastes sensibilities." He smiled and let the water loosen his muscles, enjoying the sensation.

 

Shoar Gaidin

 

 

 

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Shoar's words about blushing being past for him made Annie snort with amusement. It should be criminal to look so blatantly innocent and boyish when you were lying your head off. She watched with interest as he let his hair free. She admired the silver laced between the black and smiled a tad forlornly at the realization that she seeemed to find older men more attractive than the younger eyecandies. Experience and the self-confidence and charisma it usually brought were definately appealing traits to her. Milos was also in his fifties even though there wasn't really much physical resemblance between him and Shoar save for hair colour.

 

Annais was surprised to learn that Shoar's eyepatch was fake but the explanation sounded very reasonable. "My lips are sealed", she assured him. "Oh and one additional trait that you forgot to add is that it increases your roguish charm", she added with a chuckle. "Arrr, me hearty." The nasty scar drew her attention and she wondered if it had been Ryell or someone else who had Healed him. She had seen the deadly wounds left by tainted Myrddraal blades and he likely would have died without Aes Sedai assistance or at least spent months recovering if he was really lucky and resilient. Maybe she would hear the story one day.

 

She did get another story in response to hers and laughed heartily at the stupidity of the Trainee. Still she couldn't help but think what would have happened if Shoar hadn't woke up, an unpleasent trail. She wondered what had come of the youngster with him. Was he even alive anymore? Hopefully he had learned his lesson on the trip. "We have time indeed and I hope that we will be trading more stories later." His confession made her shake her head and tsk with a grin. "And now you went and confessed, most unwise. You should stop cheating and embrace it. Isn't that how the Spring is supposed to work? I thought that it was Void that was all about blocking things out. Maybe you would be ninety or so when you got over your cute blushing spells. How have you managed to grow up in Shienar and not get used to this?", she inquired all amused.

 

"But never worry, I will keep my back turned soon like a proper lady... well, save maybe a few stolen looks. I believe that I call upon my right to aid with washing my back. I will go choose a soap and bring one for you too. I have just the right one in mind." She grinned at Shoar over her shoulder. "Mistress Elin has tar soap which smells quite nice, the real thing in fact. Then all we'd need is feathers. But I think that ribbons suit you much better. Maybe even blue ones." She waded over to a ledge that held the soap bars and gave him a moment to recover while she selected the scent she wanted to use today. Finally she ended up to a mixture of various fruits and grabbing the bar and a sponge and a set for Shoar's back, she returned to him and handed him the items. "Will you please wash my back and hair then?"

 

Annais Nevell

Gray Sister

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"i AM embracing it though." Shoar grinned. "The Spring works the same but opposite to the Void. All of the emotional energy inside is pooled into one source of emotional power. Individual emotions are pooled and absorbed so that the mind remains clear and able to tap on that power state. Hence why I haven't turned into the cold heartless Gaidin of legend. Spring-based Gaidin are better able to appear 'human' but they have the same level of concentration." Shoar stretched and sighed as he felt all of his muscles loosen in the soothing waters. "So technically I am feeling the embrassment that is my hallmark." He grinned.

 

"As for growing up in Shienar, I've never been able to explain it myself. Growing up in Shienar was fine, I had the same sensibilities as everyone else... It was once I came to Tar Valon... I firmly believe it is all Ryell's fault." he laughed and submerged once more. "She reminds me of Ryell... Just minus the violence." he chuckled and rose once more.

 

He watched as Annais went and picked a selection of soaps. A faint smile developed on his face and then suddenly an internal voice shouted "Ohhhhh no, NOT this again! You stop that right now!" He frowned slightly and cut the voice off.

 

He bowed his head and said "Of course I can!" He submerged the soap under the water, lathering it and began washing Annais back. "Hmmmm... Few knots in here too..." He began kneading Annais' back, massaging out the knots in her back with an expert hand.

 

Shoar Gaidin

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The Spring sounded quite fascinating and she wondered how it compared to the feeling of holding Saidar. Likely not very well because in the Spring the power came just from inside you and the Source was vast, the power that turned the whole universe. She had been deliberating over the years that she would learn the technique that corresponded well to female channeling but she had never seen the real use and there had always been something else. Maybe now would be the time. "How long does it take to master the Spring? And what do you actually use it for, except well, focusing? Do you think that you might be able to teach it to me and would I benefit from it?"

 

She chuckled at his comment about Ryell and remembering the Green she could well imagine it. It was touching how Shoar still spoke of her and remembered her. She was a tad envious as she had never been able to have as devoted relationship with anyone. But it was different for the Aes Sedai and of course she had chosen badly over the years if you could say to have any choice in matters of heart. Dulan... well, he certainly had been young and dashing but then she had been much younger too. Ten years and she had watched him grow from a young man into a man who would have made a great ruler and taken pride at likely helping him in the process. She still wondered how much she had been blinded by her own feelings for him and if she had been able to save him without them. And better not even think on Milos. She was a fool for letting anything happen between them. You just didn't play with your own heart and take that kind of risks no matter how tempting it was. But it was thankfully fading. Out of sight, out of mind... most of the time at least and she definately had been pushing him out.

 

The touch of the sponge and Shoar's strong hands made Annais close her eyes with pleasure. She tried to stay quiet when he begun to work on her muscles but she couldn't entirely suppress the satisfied sighs. Lia was really good but men always massaged a bit differently than women and Shoar definately knew what he was doing. She relaxed completely under the rubbing hands and the weightlessness of the water and almost submerged when he stopped. "Can I keep you?", she murmured and turned to smile at him. "Just give me a moment and I will return the favour."

 

She swam around briskly to get more energetic again and then told him to turn his back to her. Her hands were gentle but firm as she sponged him and she managed to find some knots from his back too. She had surprised a few people over the years with the strenght of her fingers that didn't match the smallness of her hands and her slender arms. But it wasn't the muscles, it was technique and Helgatha, her old mentor, had made her learn from the Yellows and some of the Tower Guards as an Accepted and it was a skill that had come handy over the years. Friends always appreciated the favour and it was somehow more personal to massage with your hands instead of the One Power like some Yellows did. "Was that any good?"

 

Annais Nevell

Gray Sister

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Shoar paused on Annais' questions as he worked on her back. "Hmmmm... The Void and the Spring are essentially concentration techniques, yes. But there's more to them then that. It doesn't just allow you to concentrate on the task at hand, it totally removes any form of emotional interference from what we do. Completely emotionless, able to look at things from a purely objective viewpoint. This allows us to see what normally can't be seen, to be able to make split-second decisions which might otherwise result in injury or death. " He gently worked a knot out of her back as he spoke. "The Spring combines all emotions into one pure emotional flow, no single emotion is identifiable. You then tap into the flow which energises your mind and body, whereas the Flame and the Void eats away everything until only nothingness, singularity remains. Similar yet different."

 

"I could teah it to you, yes. As I understand it embracing Saidar isn't that much different from the Spring. A similar way of doing things, at least. I cannot guarantee if said training will interfere with using the Spring, however. The benefits to yourself would, of course, be as I mentioned above. Able to look at things purely objectively and not let emotion get in the way of tough decisions." He smiled and finished as Annais nearly melted into the water.

 

He turned at her instruction and slowly sank lower and lower as the smaller woman expertly worked at the knots in his own back. He sighed audibly as Annais worked on his back and his arms began to tingle as the relaxedness spread throughout his body. "You have a good set of hands on you." he murmured. She finished with a smile and he shook himself, arching his back in a mammoth stretch. "That was fantastic. Where did you learn that?" He smiled, not feeling this good in a long time.

 

He allowed himself to sink backwards, letting the water well up around him as he settled himself down, half closing his eyes. "I know where we'll be going after here, by the way." he said, a faint smile on his face.

 

Shoar Gaidin

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The Spring definately sounded useful as anyone could benefit from a way to control emotions better and be more objective and Annais made up her mind. She hoped that Saidar wouldn't interfere too badly but they would see. "Excellent, I will take you up on that promise then. When would you like to start teaching me?" Then she went quiet and just enjoyed the massage until it was time to switch roles.

 

It was always a good feeling to see that you were making another person to feel good and to sense the tension easing under the ministration of your fingers. "Thank you for the compliment. Hopefully my hands aren't the only good set I have", she added with a chuckle. "I learned from the Yellow Sisters and some Tower Guards. I have been practicing over the years and tried to develop my skills according to the feedback I have gotten. How about you? Who taught you?"

 

"And I do like people who know where they are headed at. Please don't spoil the surprise. I know that it will be fun because hey, it's us. We could enliven up any joint. But I am fine with what ever you have come up with. It is nice to spend time with you and gap the years."

 

Annais

Gray Sister

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