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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Magicked (Attn: Salandrian)


Lih-Lyh
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Her head was high, her chin pointed in, shoulders set in determination and resolve.  From this pose she struck in the shower house, from the steams for the female guards, Saline moved, bells chiming crazily, breeches flaring and flapping at the ankles, clutching a thin book to her bosom as though it were a precious babe.  Perhaps it had been, for there remained little doubt in Saline’s mind that all stories were magical, and the more she read the more easily it was to suspend all disbelief, and immerse, nay, transport her little self into another time, another realm.  Soon though, how like the stubborn, willful calls of the Daulis, soon she must pass on the stories, ‘ere it become too late.  Too late the wind shrilled, or was it her hyper-enhanced imagination, as she tore across the grounds, her parcel tucked neatly into her jacket, pressing against her chest where her left arm had pinned it, when with her other arm she pushed her way past the bushes, sending stray stems squealing into the other flying feet battering the paths as well.

 

The other had heard her coming, the ruckus heralded her arrival as Saline intended when she hung the silver bells unto honeyed curls this morning, and whirled as if to meet her.  Snakelike, feeling dramatic, she reached for the Accepted, and latching firmly onto the other’s smooth, youthful arm she wrenched Salandrian around in the direction she had walked from, which was the Yards, and spoke into the other’s  ears.  “Come stroll with me.”

 

If the Altaran was an Ogier Saline was sure that her ears would be twitching now, tufts of hair and all. Unfortunately for the Altaran she possessed neither the strength, nor girth of an Ogier, and could only settle for permitting the midget of a Taraboner to drag her from the lobby, saving face in front of any speculators. Humming cheerfully, Saline enforced this as she had the other’s arm for hostage, in a vice grip that stopped short of physical pain, although to outsiders it would only seem as if the two Accepted were companionable. Together they traversed in this fashion, Saline not releasing the other’s arm until they were out of the vicinity of any opened windows, and quickly she embraced Saidar, setting a circle around them that would garble any speech as an extra cautionary measure before removing her jacket. “How are you?”

 

She asked into that ward, amused at the bloomed, bewildered expression Salandrian sported.

 

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Salandrian could hardly believe that now, after six years, as an Novice, she stood in the lobby of the Tower as an Accepted, the very place she first passed through into this strange, exciting new life. The marble floors shone, and they best for all her polishing and scrubbing she had done as a Novice. The setting sun reflected through the lofty windows, clear and spotless as ever. And the bushes flanking the avenue leading to the doors were...coming alive? A rustling in one of them caught her attention. Bells chimed, and Saline emerged, looking somehow noble despite her fray with the bushes. Saline grasped fixedly onto Salandrian's arm and pulled her close, and spoke into her ear, "Come stroll with me." 

 

Hardly believing what was happening, Salandrian made no effort to resist, though Saline's grip suggested otherwise. Where were they going? And more importantly, why? But her former question was answered first when Saline let go of Salandrian, embraced saidar and wove a Ward against listening.

 

“How are you?” Saline was speaking as if they were old friends who just met on the street, not as a captor to the captured. Salandrian was utterly addled by the question, and when Saline said nothing, she realized she had been serious.

 

"Uh..." Salandrian half-laughed, "Well, I'm not used to being dragged around as though I'm a child! And what the bloody ashes are we doing here?!"

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Aye, Salandrian was no longer a child. There was more self-assurance in her laugh, although it was hard to look at the young woman, and not remember the other's appearance almost a decade ago. But for the banded hem, one colour for each of the seven years Salandrian had spent as a Novice, that face would have been the same lovely one in her memories. Now they ranked the same, and it would have been in Salandrian's right to not go with her.

 

As if Saline'll have any of that, hah. One of the greatest things about Salandrian being tested was well, she’s been tested. She was an Accepted, and therefore was entitled to asking Saline questions, to strolling in the courtyard.

 

"Grand; we're going to see a place." Without looking at the other, she could feel the wheels turning in Salandrian's pretty head. Turning, turning, turning aside while she tinkled and wormed her arm into the crook of Salandrian's elbow as they sashayed down an alley of trees, tempted to say, this is where I'll kill you. A building squatted in the far corner, and as they neared this housing she added “tell me, have you been to the steams before? No? Well it is a sight worth seeing. Female guards would come here after practice.”

 

She blinked, vision adjusting to the relative dimness, coolness inside, letting go of the other's arm. Reaching her own cubby, she trusted that the implications of knowing such a hideaway would hit the other’s wheels, as she folded her jacket into it and brought out the parcel, offhandedly, too nonchalant to be truly casual. "Thanks for lending me this."

 

The Taraboner grinned, and waited for Salandrian to take the book.

 

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"Grand; we're going to see a place." Going to see a place? Sounded like Saline was taking her to buy a house! No, the older Accepted was up to something, Salandrian was sure. And it must be something secret. Not the diary. That could be done in her quarters. Something dark? Salandrian posed on the edge of embracing saidar. Nearly a year into her Acceptedhood and she still felt the thrill of being able to embrace the Source without an anyone's approval. Including Saline's. Though the young woman intimidated her after almost a decade, she could not technically order her around. But that didn't mean it still would not happen.

 

Saline's arm wound itself firmly, intently in Salandrian's elbow. To anyone passing by it would appear friendly, but to Salandrian it felt like a leash.

 

“Tell me, have you been to the steams before? No? Well it is a sight worth seeing. Female guards would come here after practice.” They entered the place, and the cooling effect was instantaneous. Saline turned away and faced the wall, then about faced to Salandrian with her arm stuck out, holding a book.

 

"Thanks for lending me this." Saline's Taraboner face was split with a grin. Salandrian looked at it curiously, then when she realized what it was, her chin dropped. She rushed at Saline and embraced her tightly, pure joy filled her whole body. "Oh, thank you thank you, thank you!" She had hardly ever felt the exhilarated about anything. She squeezed Saline once more before letting her go. "But why?" Still overjoyed, suspicion was the last thing on her mind.

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Happiness yes, but she had not expected to feel Salandrian’s long arms wrapped around her midsection, squeezing tightly. Though they did not feel bad at all, she was happy to be released and slipped out of the unexpected embrace, if only because the two were not exactly close. However, the genuine smile on the other Accepted’s face had the bold, forthright warmth that was all too rare anywhere, and before she realised she had responded with a smile of her own.

 

“I used to be the mildest girl. It was because of my shyness. I was timid-shy, too timid to speak up, to express myself. It was easier to obey promptly, and be what the grown-ups called a ‘good child’. Now I have never liked to be addressed as a child. It was brutal to be standing here, in the proud teenage years and be boxed in, be controlled and ordered around, without the dignity due to me. The Sisters are the symbols of decorum, yet so rude to the initiates. Like many other girls, I kept my head down, and accept it all, thinking I had no choice. Many things have changed.

 

Not the least of it is this. I am a Novice of the White Tower, but also a marvellous member of the human race, of citizenship, and justice. It had only taken a few of us to connect, and form a coalition that has become the hope that pulls me through the day. Timid-shy, that was then, and this is now. People will know me by my backbone, by the things I believe are our natural rights. People will know me, and I am not ‘child.’ My name is Taya Gille.”

 

She stopped reading there. It was a good place to end the excerpt, before Taya had gone on to explain the origins of a legend, the elusive, secret Guild she was one of the founding members of. But soft, first to address Salandrian’s question: “why?”

 

“I am a woman of my word,” she said, keeping her tone smarmy, if light. “I had given my word that you will know what’s in the diary, and there is no reason why, if you are able to walk in the Warder’s Yard without asking for permission, you cannot access the diary. You can also take it outside, in your room, or to Darienna Sedai if you wish. As you can see I already know the content of these pages, and trust in my word, it is worth a few reads. It is yours to read, Salandrian.”

 

“Well, are you going to take it or what?”

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Salandrian stood, awed by Taya Gille's words, and could almost sense the intrigue she would experience. Taya Gille had power, "backbone" to put it in her own words, that much was evident. Do I have enough? She hoped that she would not disappoint.

 

Saline then spoke, and Salandrian wondered for what reason, then remembered the question she had posed.

 

“I am a woman of my word. I had given my word that you will know what’s in the diary, and there is no reason why, if you are able to walk in the Warder’s Yard without asking for permission, you cannot access the diary. You can also take it outside, in your room, or to Darienna Sedai if you wish. As you can see I already know the content of these pages, and trust in my word, it is worth a few reads. It is yours to read, Salandrian.” So Saline was entrusting her with the diary. That was humbling! Saline, whom she admired a great deal, had near idolized and hated at the same time, was granting her the keeper of the diary.

 

“Well, are you going to take it or what?”

 

"Yes!" Salandrian cried out, overjoyed. "Saline, thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I've been dying to read this ever since that fateful day in the library. And now, I guess I have to apologize for the way I behaved that day. I was young and scared, and I had no idea what I was doing. I hope you still don't see me in that light."

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Seeing the diary in Salandrian's sun-browned hands gave her a sense of sadness. She had read the book before, and so would not require the book on hand anymore, but it was comforting to know its whereabouts. Giving was so rewarding; on the other hand giving was difficult as any loss. The Taraboner had never regarded herself as particularly material-oriented, yet small things of meaning were valuable to her, and she could never resist a story. At Salandrian's words, she laughed. "But you did get your own back with that blackmailed prank. How did you and Zaire ever managed to trick Vera and Estel Sedai by and by?"

 

"Can I be honest with you?" This said in very serious, slow tones as she worked out her thoughts aloud. "I am not here to judge, really. However, I am entitled to my opinion, and I like your exuberance, even if you think it is a folly of youth. Still, that you like to do the right thing is really cool, and I hope you don't lose sight of it."

 

Pressing the other's hand one more time she squeezed tightly before releasing it, and the secret diary. Saline adverted her eyes and busied herself by patting her breeches a few times before refolding them neatly into the cubby. Her face felt a tad hot, but probably not as heated as Salandrian's might be.

 

Instead she offered her arm. "Whenever you are ready, Salandrian we can go outside and sit, no?"

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