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The Owl and Cat; Will you dance with me Lyv?


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Gillie strolled through the Grove deep in thought. He had just finished the nights watch and felt the need to take a walk. His heart had been restless and he couldn’t quite figure out why the feelings he had been suppressing for so long were resurfacing.


‘I’m longing for something from my past… but what?’


The clearing he entered was large and flat, with room enough for at least a hundred people to walk comfortably. The grass felt supple beneath his boots and the color was a deep green that reminded him of the sheep pastures he once tended. Trees ringed the clearing, leaving an open expanse of sky overhead. White clouds sailed across the blue heaven like Seafolk ships headed to faraway places.


‘I wonder if those clouds will make it to the Almoth Plain.’


That was when he realized the feelings making his heart restless were caused by memories of his family and their old home. He let himself taste those memories he had hidden away for the last ten years. Gillie had tried to purge himself of his past and erase his emotions with the Void, but no matter how hard he tried, all he could do was cover them up and forget them for a little while.


He opened up the locked door inside himself and took out the memories of his mother and grandmother.


They had loved celebrating the coming of spring and especially the Festival of Lanterns. Every year, as the snow melted away, he and his mother would sit at the kitchen table making paper lanterns for the coming of spring while his grandmother would start baking all kinds of wonderful treats.


Bel Tine was always a cause for celebration. Its coming meant that the sheep would soon be out to pasture and he would be spending almost every night with the flocks. The meadow flowers would be in bloom and patches of wild colors would dot the green plains. It was the herald of new life.


“Bel Tine is only a week away. That’s why I feel like something’s missing…†he spoke to the wind and nothingness, not knowing what he could do to make himself feel right again.


‘I feel off balance inside myself…’


Like dried lands that soak up the first rains after a drought, Gillie let his spirit drink deep of every emotion he had denied himself. Laying down the Tower Guard, his duty, all that he was, and all he had lost, he sought his balance.


‘I’ve been Tower Guard Cole for to long. It’s time Gillie, Flute of the Meadow, comes back…’


Gillie turned and looked at the clearing again. Except this time he saw things through his minds eye and envisioned the place as he would make it. He could picture everything vividly. Hundreds of paper lanterns would be strung up from the trees and high above, giving the Grove a soft colorful glow. There would be a pavilion tent with food and drink next to the musicians. Then there would be dancing, glorious dancing, and the night air would be filled with the sound of happy music and laughter.


He smiled for the first time in what seemed like ages, as he said, “I’ll host a dance for the Tower and celebrate the coming of spring like never before. Though, I’ll need a lovely lady to escort.â€


Gillie knew just the woman to ask. He only hoped she would accept his invitation.


‘It’s been quite some time since we’ve last talked.


The last time he had really seen Lyv was on their way back to the Tower from Tanchico. She had been mourning the loss of her twin sister, and all Gillie could do was comfort her with his presence. After they returned, that was when he started to take up the nights watch and withdraw back into himself. He hadn’t seen much of her since then, but he hoped their friendship was still intact.


‘If not, I’ll simply have to make amends and start over again…’


For the second time that day he smiled. Gillie started to walk back to the Tower and along his way through the Grove he found a cluster of buttercups. He quickly picked a few dozen of the tiny flowers and started to weave them into a circlet with some lily vine that was growing on the tree next to him. Soon he had a fine flower and vine chain crown.


With a gift in hand, he set out to find the redheaded woman who had once been his friend.



Back at the Tower it didn’t take him to long to track the former mistress of trainees down. She was a well known Guard and all Gillie had to do was either mention her name or give her description and people would point him in the right direction.


He found her in the training yard practicing her sword work. Gillie patiently waited till she was finished before approaching her. He felt a little nervous about showing up after so long a time, but there was no way to undo the past.


Her back was turned towards him, so he walked slowly to her side and said, “It’s a fine day to be out in the yards. Though, I’d say it’s a finer day to see an old friend.â€


Gillie Cole

Tower Guard

Flute of the Meadow

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Guest Celes

Her flow was not smooth, her katana moved in straight lines as Lyv’s head was not on the practice but instead she was drifting away on memories. Memories she had thought to keep locked deep in her heart, far away from the world or even herself to find. But then, the letter had come saying her mother had died after a year of bedridden illness. Her father wanted her to come to the funeral, but unfortunately the letter had been delayed over a month. It would be pointless to write back to him, explaining this, he would see it as an even worse insult than not showing up.


She stopped for a moment, playing with the necklace she held so dear. A small golden heart with her own and her sisters name engraved on it, Katie Tylin. She missed her sister, but had come to accept the fate her sister had chosen, though guilt sometimes still reared its ugly head that she had not offered more help. They were family, twins, she could have done something instead of turning away as she had, Katie’s cry for help had been clear and it sometimes rang loudly in her ears when she could not sleep at night.


The katana moved up in a straight line, then gutted an invisible opponent without much effort. It was easy to kill thin air, it was easy to drown oneself in practice and in drinks late at night, in jokes with her friends. Much easier it was than to hold the memory of her twin sister true, for if she did she would have to admit not being there for Katie, letting her hang herself in that inn, a last cry for help when no one came to her aid. She stuck the katana straight into the ground and felt the tremble as the blade sunk into the earth. It was not good for the blade, but it sure felt good to Lyv, she turned, brushed off some sweat and noticed Gillie was standing behind her, calmly gazing the way he only could. She remembered the letter, the letter her sister had left for her to read as an explanation, though it had been more of a goodbye than an explanation to Lyv.


Do not let Mother and Father read this. Tell them I have run away.


Lyv smiled, she had never told her parents about why their daughter had taken her own life. She had never wanted to face up to their blame as they realized they were all to blame. Her husband, her family and her sister who had run away from all that misery back home. Gillie had helped her leave then, her friend on this trip, her companion who sang a song by a camp fire, who cited poetry he had written on one of his journeys. Who had helped her go to the funeral of her sister, when her own family wanted her to stay away. Gillie, he had been there on the trip to Tanchico and he had helped her through her loss. But not only that, he had never changed or stopped being her friend and all of a sudden, Lyv felt very sad that she had let that friendship slip in favor of drowning her pain.


“Yet, though we may never have a home in this life, that doesn’t mean we are without friends. And make no mistake Lyv, I am a friend.â€


Yes, he had been her friend and she was sorry she had let go of that friendship and sought easier ways to deal with her pain by simply numbing it. He did not deserve that, he had never done anything to hurt her and she cared dearly for his presence, yet why would he come see her now all of a sudden. Lyv decided to find out without looking hesitant, she wanted to renew their bonds of friendship and smiled warmly as she drew the katana and wiped it of before sheathing it. “An old friend, but a true friend I am sure,†she walked up to him and smiled, “How have you been Gillie?â€


Lyv Tylin

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“A fool… I’ve been a fool.†He sighed and shook his head.


“It’s been to long since we last shared each others company, and I fear the fault is mine.†Gillie shrugged his shoulders in a sign of helplessness. He wanted to say, ‘I’ve spent the last year trying to destroy my heart by riding myself of all emotion and my past…’ but he went with something more tactful instead.


“I’ve spent the last year perusing a pointless venture, and only recently have I come to my senses.â€


He favored her with one of his renewed smiles as his dark brown eyes met her brilliant green ones. It was then that he noticed something very different about Lyv. She was hiding something behind her own smile and the fierce fire that had burned within her, her free spirit, was not the same as he once remembered it.


‘Something’s wrong… ‘


Gillie was slightly taken aback.


‘You haven’t seen her in over a year, what did you expect?’ he berated himself for not realizing that she might have also been dealing with past demons over the last year.


‘The Wheel keeps on turning, even when we are not ready to move on with it…’


He couldn’t help but wonder if Lyv was still in mourning over Katie and that was the reason she seemed different. Gillie knew that the pain of losing a loved one never really went away, but that over time it did fade.


‘Have the wounds of your heart not begun to heal yet Lyv?’


His own smile dimmed a bit, but he was determined to restore their friendship. ‘Even if she won’t accompany me to my dance, I still want to be here for her. It’s been a long time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still care about her…’


Gillie held out his arm to her and said, “Will you walk with me for a bit? I would like to know how you have been as well…â€


Gillie Cole~

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Guest Celes

Gillie was not to blame for her foul mood, it was just that the memories did not die down and she had found that Rosheen’s brother found his way into the yards. Practicing the blade and probably staying to become a guard like her, she had not hesitated when her family came to the Yards to live with her. Lyv had. Again she had to tell herself that her sister was nothing like the brother Rosheen had, she was not just a girl, she was one of the girliest girls Lyv had ever come to know. Even Leah, of the White who could spend hours going over the right dress did not come close to Katie Tylin. Had she been able to learn in the Tower, she might have done so, but even that would probably not have suited her.


Lyv felt her eyes burn and she turned to Gillie as she spoke, “You were there for me in Tanchico, when I went to visit my family and you chose today to look me up when I dreamt about her just last night.†He looked ready to apologize and leave her be, so Lyv took his hand in her own and said, “It’s a sign, a sign that I should move on and remember the past, hold my sister dear, but not revel in the pain of losing her.†She smiled and felt the tears draw back from behind her eyes, “I have friends here, more with each day I work here and more important to me with every day that I live,†she patted his hand and said, “I think we should just skip over the past year and set off where we left off, what do you say?†Lyv smiled warmly, the pain had gone down and she would find a place to remember Katie without blaming herself over and over again. And she did believe one day she would be with her twin again, in a different place, far from the place they were standing on now, which was quite close to the Grove.


“You know I just love this place,†Lyv said as she looked around, the trees green and the flowers just bursting open in wonderful colors. “If I did not enjoy my training in the waterfall so much, I’d probably spend a lot more time here. The air is so fresh, the quiet is soothing and the Grove just has something, magical about it,†she had let go of Gillie’s hand and walked around, as if seeing the place for the first time. Then turned back to Gillie and said, “Is this another sign? That we walked down here, you want to test your skill in the most serene of fighting grounds around Tar Valon?†and drew her katana with a big grin, before he had a chance to reply she took her stance and made a slash in his general direction. “Come on then, one round to show me that your skill in music and poetry does not stop you from wielding the blade,†watching his rapier on his hip which would soon be clashing her katana in mid air as she swung more directly now.



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Once, long ago, Gillie might have been at an equal level of skill in swordsmanship with Lyv, but he knew that he was not a match for her any longer. He practiced his forms almost every day, but he had stopped sparring with opponents. While he kept his abilities honed, he hadn’t advanced any further in his swordsmanship.


‘I’ve kept my ability at the same level for to long. I haven’t reached the next stage down The Path of the Blade yet.’


His other disadvantage in this match was the fact that he had never fought anyone without assuming the Void first. Gillie had just left that emotionless world hours before and he was in no hurry to go back there.


‘If I must fight her, I will not face my friend with eyes that are dead and a heart that feels nothing…’


Gillie barely had time to finish his thoughts, let alone draw his rapier in reply to Lyv’s katana as it slicked through the air. He quickly danced away and back, two paces out of her sword’s range.


He returned her smile as he undid his cloak and threw it aside. Gillie set his hand on the hilt of his sword and stood in a forward stance, ready to draw his blade in an instant. Since he wasn’t planning on assuming the Void, he needed to formulate a new strategy. He had to figure out a new way to fight.


‘I knew it wasn’t going to be easy asking her out to a dance, but I never expected this…’


As he stood among the trees, in the very spot he planed on hosting the celebration of spring, preparing to cross swords with his friend, it was then that Gillie thought of a new way to fight. If he was going to ask Lyv to accompany him to a dance, he might as well dance with her now. Except instead of stepping to lively music, he would sing to her a song and play her a tune that only their swords could dance to.


He gave her a formal bow and said, “May I have this dance?â€


Gillie started to sing an old farmer’s song he had learned as a child called, ‘Windmill Valley’. It was well known in the Almoth Plain, and he thought it would set a good tempo for him to fight to.


“We mill the wind

Our blades, they turn

Our blades, they spin…â€


Quick as he could, he drew his rapier and advanced at Lyv. Letting the momentum of his advance carry through, he made three fast spins, each time he turned he attack, striking at Lyv’s left side.


She deftly blocked and countered each of his attacks with the ease of a blade master.


“We cut the sky

Our blades, they turn

Our blades, they fly…â€


He swiftly changed his attack and stuck her right side, at head level, and made three cuts in rapid succession.


Again, she moved with the grace and speed of flowing water as she deflected his sword with little effort.


Gillie couldn’t help but smile as he went into an all out assault, knowing very well that his sword would never touch her.


“We tear the heaven

Our blades, they turn

Our blades, they quicken


We slash the breeze

Our blades, the turn

Our blades, they tease


We score the air

Our blades, they turn

Our blades, they flare


We pierce the Blue

Our blades, they turn

Our blades are true…â€


With every verse he had made four different attacks, but nothing had worked. At the last verse Gillie made a quick retreat, stepping six paces away from Lyv. This was the first duel he had fought without being surrounded in the Void, and while it made him slower and less accurate in attacking, he found he was enjoying himself more then ever.


Standing in a rear-guard position, he laughed and said, “I sought you out today, not only to mend our friendship, but I wanted to ask you to accompany me to a dance.†He pointed to the crown of flowers he had made earlier that was now lying on the ground, “I even brought you a gift.â€


He made an exaggerated sigh and said, “While this is quite engaging, it wasn’t the type of dance I had in mind, nor was this the way I planed on giving you those flowers. Though, I think this dance is not yet finished. I believe it’s your turn to lead.â€



Getting beaten by a lady Tower Guard, but taking great pleasure in it.

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Guest Celes

A dance he called it and a dance it was, Lyv smiled as she focused on her defense. When training, attack and moving quickly was her most trained aspect of fighting. Yet Gillie forced her into defense and his song kept her occupied, so much so that it was difficult to stray from defense into attack. His verse told her how he would attack, a turn, a spin a cut and then a slash. She enjoyed it and danced along with him through the Grove, passing him and then jumping back as he found an opening in her left flank.


After a while of this, he offered her a chance to take over their dance and lead. She knew she did not have the skill of poetry or song as he did, but did not want to give up the fight they had enjoyed so far. So instead, she began to use little steps, like dancing along with him and with each hit from her katana, that clashed his rapier, she began to ask questions. Slipping the katana past his right leg, she said “Do we challenge each other as friends,†then pushed forward and grazed his arm with the tip of the blade, “Or as well trained warriors who need to experiment within their range of training?†and nodded as he struck back while simply replying, “Bothâ€.


She danced around him, moving her feet in directions she did not plan to move herself to make him think about her moves, rather than give him room to anticipate and prepare. Another question, “Where has your life taken you this past year, that you were not here, not near me?†her katana and his rapier clashed straight up and she lifted it higher, their faces on one line now and then she was gone, dancing around him once more. Feeling the wind pick up and making use of this change by lowering the blade, so it could not be caught up by the soft gusts of air.


The flowers he showed her were beautiful and she wondered for a brief moment why he had chosen for this dance. Everyone knew that Lyv could drink and fight as well as any man when challenged properly. But to wear a dress and act like a proper lady? That was a challenge in itself. Leah Sedai had tried to convince her and she had tried on occasion to be more of a fair lady than an athletic warrior, but somehow neither had ever appealed to her enough to choose. The formal dress was lost on her, just as the formal wear of battle was lost on her. Not the woman her mother had wanted to grow her into, not the warrior her captain tried to bark her into.


“And one more question, before I free you of this dance,†she said with a smile, pushing off thoughts that she would not belong and instead enjoying that someone else thought she did. Lyv placed the katana down in front of her, steadying her hand as she was seeking out words for her question. “Master Cole, when can I say yes to your invitation and lay down my sword to pick up those flowers?†She then placed her katana in its sheath and tilted her head as she waited for his invitation.



Enjoying the dance already

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Gillie sheathed his sword and bowed to Lyv.


“I would be honored if you, Miss Lyv Tylin, would accompany me to a Bel Tine dance I’m throwing her at the Grove. It’s only a week away, and I’m hoping to make it a special night. Everyone in the Tower is invited…†He went on to explain all about what he had planed for the dance. There would be hundreds of brightly colored paper lanterns hung in the trees, and the clearing he had picked out would be decorated to look like a hunting camp. He also told her about the game everyone was going to play.


“…the best part about this dance is that everyone will be wearing a mask. At midnight, the game will be over and all the guests will remove their disguises and we shall see who was who.â€


He smiled as he picked up the circlet of flowers and said, “It is my lady’s privilege and right to accept my invitation whenever she desires. Yet, it is my duty to place the flowers upon your head.â€


He gently set the woven ring of buttercups on Lyv’s head. The yellow petals reflected the suns rays and mingled with the red of her hair, creating a circle of crimson-gold.


‘Lovely… very beautiful…’


Looking into his friend’s eyes he couldn’t help but grin and feel happy. It had been to long since he had felt anything, let alone happiness.


“You are the only woman in all Tar Valon I want to escort to this dance.†It was true and he hoped Lyv realized the honesty in his words.


He took her hand in his again and started to walk deeper into the Grove. “As for your other question… I spoke the truth before. I have been a fool and my mistakes have kept me from you this past year.â€


Gillie did not like to think about the time he had wasted. ‘I lost so much time… I lost so much of myself…’


He turned his eyes toward the sky, searching the blue expanse for answers he knew weren’t there. “I have always struggled with who I was in the past and who I’ve been trying to become here at the Tower. I’ve been here at Tar Valon for ten years now… but I still have difficulty…â€


He cut himself off in mid-sentence. He didn’t want to bother Lyv with his problems. The demons of his past and the memories that would not leave him alone were not her concern. So he changed topics and went back to talking about the dance.


“So… what do you think of this idea of mine? Do you think anyone will even come to the dance? Speaking of that, you still haven’t said if you are going with me or not…â€



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Guest Celes

A party in an inn in the city, where their friends would be, along with a few musicians who would liven up the party with music and song, that was what Lyv expected to hear about. Yet, Gillie planned a Bel Tine party in the Grove, one with masks, a game for all invited and most of all, the heavens as their rooftop and little paper lights as their sphere. Gillie moved on to speak about why he had been so far away for the past year and Lyv was about to ask him if he would want to talk about this with her, when he asked her if she would accept his invitation.


“Yes Master Gillie Cole, I would love to accept your invitation to go to this Bel Tine dance you wish to hold here,†she smiled and planted a kiss on his cheek. She blushed lightly and said, “I think it’s a great day and I am honored you ask me.†They walked around for a bit, Gillie showing her things he wanted to prepare for the party. There would be a bunch of small lights hanging from two large oak trees. Lyv looked up and imagined how it would look, late at night with small lights in paper lanterns giving off a warm glow.


“It will be so beautiful, I have been to a Bel Tine feast once when I was a trainee, it was in the Tower gardens, it is a wonderful feast of spring. A wonderful feast of prosperity and new life,†Lyv concluded. She wondered about what effect this could have on the men and women in Tar Valon who lived under the threat of death and the cold of winter most their lives. “How did you come by the idea of doing a game where we find the fox? And will we dress one of the trainees up as a fox, we could hunt after him and see if our training does make the young ones stronger,†she flashed a grin to show she was joking. It was a lighthearted conversation, but Lyv’s mind kept traveling back to what Gillie had stepped over, something not light at all.


Finally, she decided not to let him walk back to the Yards with her without at least a try of helping him. He could decide if he took her help, but she would be a very lousy friend if she did not at least try. “You know, I often worry that I do not live up to the standard that the Tower holds for us,†she placed a hand on his arm and then settled down on a tree log that had been chewed down by beavers or maybe cut down by locals from the city. “You can say you have said goodbye to your home, to your family and in a way to your past, but it does not make it any easier to dedicate your life to the Tower and the duty that falls on you with every day you live and breathe.†She took a deep breathe, “Is that what you find difficult? Sometimes it’s easier to talk about it, then to try and carry the weight all by yourself,†she concluded in a solemn voice. Holding on to his hand, she rubbed the back of it lightly, hoping he would not push her off, though afraid of not being able to help him even if she tried.



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