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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Elilliane

Desolation [Attn: Sam, Lily]

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Ooc: Please forgive the rambling descriptions. I’ve been deprived of them for over a year. ;)

 

The shadows of rafters thrown against the walls were lengthening, the bustle of the marketplace subsiding, the Tar Valon population dissipating quietly to various unknown locations. Familiar wafts of spicy aroma drifted in the air as Halvie drew near her favoured inn, The Golden Crow. A missive had been sent earlier on via an Accepted to subtly announce, or warn, of her return to the precious few she owned. The Accepted would be back tomorrow to help haul certain items back and assigned whichever other task Halvie deemed her capable of accomplishing, perhaps with a friend or two. But for now, she desired only a night of peaceful solitude away from the tendrils of manipulation her fellow sisters were ever absorbed in. Dwindling moments of contemplation, to ruminate over the few bits of information she could gather from the Accepted regarding the most recent of developments back in the Tower. Two years. Light, it hadn’t felt so long; her travels being more of an eye-opener than she had bargained, such that she’d extended and overstayed her welcome at far too many places. Her journal was guarded jealously and armed with many invisible traps that would confound most unwanted readers yet additional precautions would still have to be taken.

 

Much had occurred during her absence, not the least being the election of a new Amyrlin. It was an astonishing development and it could only be hinting of some darker, more devious intents of someone, or more likely, a group. This was made all the more mysterious considering the previous Amyrlin Seat had been a woman of immense pride and duty. She would never have forsaken her duty willingly hence leaving many other possibilities to be considered. Alas, to be immersed in the Tower’s political intrigues would be a heady thing now and for some reason she was reluctant to be thrown back into that frighteningly threatening world again sooner than necessary. Reluctantly, she considered that her ability to hold her place in the same hall as her more illustrious and decorated sisters might be a cause for serious concern. And there would be the meetings and endless explanation regarding her abrupt disappearance, proof would have to be procured and the other secrets she had uncovered would have to hidden. It would count as her first major step in regaining respect as one who wore the shawl, along with the ring that had remained hidden in a secret compartment within her pouch for far too long. She would not fail.

 

A tap came meekly on her door, removing her from her cogitation, as she was informed by an apologetic servant girl of an unfortunate mishap within the kitchen, hence a slight delay in meals. The slight anxiety normally accorded to channelers was missing, for which Halvie was thankful for. The mistress of the inn had kept her word and concealed her identity. Hooded as she was with her back turned to an open window, anyone would’ve mistook her for a rich merchant or perhaps, a noble seeking a favour from the Tower’s occupants. Then again, what the girl thought was none of her immediate concern. She waved away the hovering servant just as the mellow chiming of evening bells resounded soothingly in the evening air. Names, once achingly and even horrifyingly familiar, came to her mind slowly as she recalled of her previous doings, of past favours and humiliation, of her reason for returning. She had been so arrogant back then and while experience had matured and calmed her to a degree, she was still coldly aloof as always. But she had determined one thing she could excel at, a game she played with relish, to the hilt during the past two years. Subterfuge.

 

She would have to meet up with her erstwhile mentee again, the silently rebellious Lillian Tremina. The nightmare image of a grave, sobbing black figures and rain was etched deeply within the shadowy recesses of her mind. Something in her had changed that day, softened. Then there was Cara Ramsey and that night, the question of why still hung ominously above her head, leaping into consciousness when she was off-guard. The question of how she’d let herself be warped into the ideal Tower puppet, distant, powerful and utterly alone. Wistfully, Halvie wondered how far her former friend had progressed, how far that sharp intelligence of hers had carried her. A force to be reckoned with now, no doubt, and bosom buddy no longer. So many memories and relationships she’d never placed much significance before… only now upon reflection did she belatedly realise how every individual had affected herself and the undeniable feeling, niggling suspicion, that she regretted, even missed the people of her childhood, figures who had moulded her into the person she now was.

 

The velvet spread of night slowly encroached upon the washed out hues of amber of sunset. The sundry of stars pinned on it were few and the moon, absent. Just like those nights… those bloody, frigid nights where too many had been heavily injured, waves of opponents, her energy and power plunging, exhaustion so complete, so absolute that… that… Mechanical, cold-blooded murders; she had fought to save yet there was a nasty, bitter taste following that coupled with an overriding sense of guilt, making her feel as though the fight had never been even, too strongly tipped to her side. And yet, she had been outnumbered. But her subconsciousness could not be so simply soothed. For days after, the very smell of blood and sight of butchered meat had left her nauseous, dispelling every coherent thought where only two distinct choices had remained, fight or flee. And she’d chosen the latter. Those nights of utter isolation in the uncivilised countryside, she refused to dwell on now.

 

Another gentle knock came. Dinner. A twinge of unease came and passed. Hesitating, her hands hovered above the bronze doorknob for an instant, before reaching down to turn it. The mistress had promised her some turkey, one of her specialties. For just one night, it would be nice to blend in with the commoners and experience their simple life with none of its discomforts. It would be a simple welcoming home celebration of sorts, all by herself.

 

 

Halvie Sedai

Sister of the Green Ajah

Brooding

 

Ooc: Bet you never expected this to materialise! You have leftover time, inspiration & a faulty internet connection to thank. Cheers.

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Naughty. That was what she was being. Naughty. Having been warned to stay away from Tar Valon she simply had to see it, if only because she had been told not to. So far the experience was underwhelming. It may have been huge, filled with brilliant buildings and antiquated architecture that made you want to stop and stare, but you know, there was altogether far too much water. And if there was one thing Emelia truly disliked it was a lot of water.

 

It was unnerving, almost frightening to be surrounded by so much water. Sure, a person needed to drink a measure of it to remain healthy, that is to say distilled with hops and yeast, but that same person didn’t need to surround him or herself with it. There was enough there to positively sink the city.  It was not very warm hereabouts, either, although that may have had more to do with the season than the monopoly of water. She didn’t know about such things.

 

Emelia wore a heavy cloak even though her forehead was wet with sweat. She was nice and toasty inside it; the water wouldn’t grip her through the layers of wool and leather. She looked the same as she always did, her curly hair falling in ringlets, her hands gloved and her sword swinging obviously from her hip. No purpose in having a sword if no one could see it.

 

She stepped into an inn, the sign of which read, ‘The Golden Crow’. She was hungry and thirsty and cold. It would be nice to warm her hands by the fire. And, she added to herself, if there were no fire present she could always make one. Emelia sat down at a bench as close to the fire as she could manage without dislodging another occupant. While she waited for someone to offer her some kind of refreshment she took off her gloves and pressed her finger tips into the wood . . .

 

. . . Smoke meandered across the table.

 

 

 

OOC: Sorry about the delay, couldn't hit it up last night so I had to wait.

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Drawn to a gleam of candlelight borne toward him, the servant knuckled his forehead, then resumed his glide, skirting gracefully past the portraits and statuettes. His liveried presence swept by, and Saline remembered to breathe, using the Spring to calm the terror beating in her chest before approaching the first of her errands. A creeping dread filled her. Random encounters. In her clumsy, perspiring hands she wrung a missive, given and pre-sealed by a lady who disclosed no name. Nor had she been privy to the content of the lady’s missive, although Saline was schooled to relay verbal messages within the keep as an aspect of her training.

 

A few minutes after she had presented herself and made a curtsey deep with formality, if not respect, the other turned and regarded Saline. Rising at the gesture of acknowledgement, the Accepted stood as she was told and, wiping her hands on the whites, described the lady she had met. Not that there was much to describe of the shrouded figure, much remained hidden in the confines of her hood. For a moment in the watery sunlight she had glimpsed the small, shadow of smile over a smooth visage, then wind abated, leaving only the strange woman in a gray street and her imagination capering in the clandestineness of the lady. Saline noted the command lilting in her voice, and despite her fingers - innocent of jewellery – they had the unmistakable touch of power. Bemused by the Sister’s excitement, she wondered. What else aside from an Aes Sedai was a lady who could channel and entrust initiates with missives, save the lack of a ring?

 

The reactions she observed from delivering the incognito Aes Sedai’s missive to other Aes Sedai were interesting, as both intensity and variance fed her all consuming curiosity. Saline did not scruple from unmindfully prying out information, an elucidation to why, although nothing blatant battered out of the carefully composed agelessness, those tensions could be gleaned in the cast of a flush or the telling of whitened knuckles on the desk when the Accepted was dismissed. Moreover, her curiosity quickened to a bright roaring bonfire, as one Green had smiled before she retreated, clapping soft, fluttery hands together, exclaiming in joy. Placing the door firmly behind her, Saline held that name of ‘Halvie’ close, clasping the secret akin to how a magpie would collect shiny tinkles and baubles for its liking, and for that very reason too. More and more Saline was sure that Halvie was an Aes Sedai, and she kept that thought small as well. Saline liked keeping secrets she came across, even when some were not hers to keep, such as Taya’s diary, still secured in the Guardswomen’s steams.

 

True, there was a power to knowing somebody’s name, so one could distinguish from friends from the nameless throngs. Equipped with a name, Saline’s mysterious lady was while random, no longer dreaded. When she encountered the other, and surely she would again, she could give the lady, Halvie Sedai, her own name in exchange. Halvie Sedai may or may not understand Saline’s intentions in doing this, but fair was fair. The Aes Sedai had told Saline she could bring a friend along, and Saline wasn’t about to disperse with so gracious an offer.

 

The hardest tasks finished in regard to her capacity as a messenger, the chore for the morrow required a friend, and it was her dearest of the few enough friends she cultivated that Saline now sought to support her as she hoisted the coloured hem higher and ran after her fellow Accepted. Her back ached and the slender, long-fingered Rory could massage better than the First Weaver herself, not that, Saline ever had any Yellow not to mention their Head of Ajah massaging her. A memory beckoned from the well-worn corridor, hearing the accusation Rory had flung at her when first they met, that Saline was a skirt-lifter. The familiarity of what she was doing presently gave her pause. She had not made her peace with her roommate so long ago that she took their friendship for granted, and there was no way she was about to enlist Rory on a chore when they had recently patched up their relationship. There had been only so much that a woman’s “sorry” however gently administered would ease a painful memory before apologies did nothing to ease ill-placed actions of her accord, and sometimes, as Timmons would remind her sharply to stall , it was easier to take back a dagger in a man than words spoken in anger. There were some truths to a gardener’s impetuosity. Smiling apprehensively, she slowed from pursuit of Rory and plodded steadily toward the gardens instead. Timmons could advise her on this as well.

 

If it was strange that Saline would hold a bad-tempered gardener in considerable esteem as an advisor toward managing her own anger, it was stranger when she emerged from the warmth within the keep, and espied the wispy, snow-kissed curls blocking her view of Timmons in his apron. He could see the abrupt recognition overtaking Saline’s features, a startled doe readied for flight. At his desperate cry to ‘Aline, Mina turned and considered her. Dark eyes widening in response, Saline tore away from that steady, cornflower blue gaze, absolutely agog with consternation. She had presumed Ellinielle’s Garden a private haven: Saline had helped with its creation, then reconstruction without once meeting Mina Daryl. Alas, Vera Sedai had sway over who could venture in and not be disciplined for it, and were she a wagering sort of woman Saline would wager her life that Mina did not come without permission from the Gray. It was an illogical transgression simply not done.

 

Whether it was sensing Timmons’ dismay at having his azaleas cleaved upon dismantled by a neat, extraction weave meant for weeds, or Mina’s unwavering expression of self-righteousness that aroused such embarrassment in her, Saline did not know. But she turned red when Timmons mumbled to his boots about Saline being a similar blunderer when she first started, that he expected Mina would put in a fair share of work here as well, before he turned both culprits away from his demesne, charging Saline to show the new help around while he launched a damage control campaign to recover the violated patch of green. Well, weeds were hard to tell, for a beginner!

 

Shrugging aside her unease at any comparison when it came to herself and Mina, Saline led the taller Accepted to the back, where the shed squatted. Sure, the Taraboner had messed up a lot when she started working for Timmons, but from the toil she put in she had been rewarded with a decent tan, although she must have constantly frowned in the sun, for there were pale lines when she relaxed her face. Saline didn’t understand the other blunderer though, and unlike what she did with Taya or Halvie, made no attempts to know Mina Daryl. Whence Mina came was easy, she had known this when the Illianer had been assigned her study-partner on the Oaths project and smothered words in an accent thick with ‘do be’s and, even thicker with ‘do no be’s. Even then Mina was a white aspirant, and a stickler for rules. Saline remembered during the ball when all the others were dying to feel silk against their backs, Mina had not changed from her Accepted dress, claiming she do be wearing what the tower put on her. Yes, that was utterly weird of her, pronounced Syara, and Saline had followed her roommate’s example, avoiding Mina’s society when she could, even though, if it weren’t for ‘Rome spilling the punch on Mina’s dress at the ball, then having the courage to stay and talk with them, the trainee would not have made her acquaintance, not to mention a friend. But was Mina not also friend when Saline was in need? After all, Mina was the one who covered for Ino while Saline went with Lyssa on the wilderness trip, so that Saline’s student would not be hampered. It was rather generous of her to volunteer her time and efforts even though she, too, had been busy and besides, Saline had bluntly discouraged any unnecessary interaction between them. Shyly, she studied the other, not at all unbecoming what with roses in her cheeks that bespoke of a vitality Saline never glimpsed in the library when they revised for exams. Luckily Mina was looking at their destination, probably never laid eyes on the shed before. Just how often did she go out? Perhaps Vera Sedai was unto something there.

 

Swiftly Saline ushered Mina up the step and closed the door before the draft snuck in. Despite her aching back and muscles, Saline straightened the recipes tacked on the wall, then making a trip for fresh strewing reeds; she restocked the boiler and turned back to her companion, grinning half-proud and half-chagrined at happening upon some smoked salmon in her search for the reeds.

 

The shed welcomed them like the welcoming place it was. A half round of cheese, the two loaves of cornbread set on the table and the seething broth over the fireplace provided a place that any in Tar Valon could seek comfort, be they muddy, snowy or ragged. It served as a soup kitchen for the poor, and the White Tower provided for the fare. Saline cut a generous hunk of cheese and piled a platter high with smoked salmon for Mina, then in likewise liberal doses, she served herself. One hand wielded her spoon like a scepter, and the knife in the other prodded inquisitively into the broth. The potatoes shouldered the chicken squares, and their broth was hot and thick with barley. Good food restored good humour, and the talks just happened, as shade followed the sunset. The two talked, like once they had when they were study partners, before their interests and paths diverged.

 

Sitting there and settling easily into listening to Mina’s opinion, she felt horribly ashamed of what she had done, or rather, not done back then. Mina’s accent reminded her of Rory, and it was not so absurd when she thought about that. Having experienced loneliness when Saline did not realise what she missed until it was gone, perhaps she would have done differently in the past. Words cut, and Saline hadn’t been quite as honest with hers. But perhaps, since Mina seemed amiable enough when it came to forming bonds, she would still get to learn more about the White aspirant, and get along in the time they had left.

 

Impulsively she reached for the Illianer’s hands, and squeezed fondly. “Miss Daryl, would you do me the favor of accompanying me on a trip to-morrow?” She had wanted to ask Timmons, but somehow, Mina was fitting. “I have no logical explanation, just that I would like you to. You don’t have to, of course.” Wistfully understanding, “It would just be nice to have a friend with me.” So, she claimed Mina as friend. One day in the Tower unfolded yet another petal, and as each day bloomed to completion, progressively stranger.

 

OOC: Sorry about the wait here as well. And length and wordiness. Will be joined by another Accepted though. :D

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‘*’ Voices drifted towards the darkened corridor as Halvie descended the first flight of stairs, raucous laughter along with the abrupt banging of the front door as another patron entered a now familiar, almost welcomed atmosphere. Almost, given that unless the hands of fate had dealt her an unexpected hand, she would be encountering only strangers and thus feel no obligation to chat. And yet, almost instantly she sensed her presence, a compelling kind of force that made the game of hide & seek impossible to play between channelers. Amelia; she ranked amongst the selected few who’d been informed of her presence; another Green sister though much younger, by several decades and recently raised. Surprisingly enough, it had taken little effort to recruit the young woman and if she were so frank, Halvie had much to thank the brutal rejection of petition tradition her Ajah favoured so highly - a most ironic situation.

 

‘*’ Drawing her hood further forward so as to conceal her conspicuously red mane, she raised her head only high enough to navigate between the mazes of tables of creaking chairs that occupied more than half the room. The tavern was enjoying another night of brisk business, it would seem. Noting that the woman had prudently arrived alone, Halvie casually took a seat opposite her before signalling imperiously towards the innkeeper. ‘A glass of water, iced.’ Turning back to scrutinize her sycophant, hooded similarly as herself, she just managed to hide a reaction of surprising at the grey smoke drifting towards her. A quick blink of eyes before glancing at the area again confirmed that it had been a mere mirage. The exhaustion due to her travels was catching up on her sooner than expected.

 

‘*’ ‘Well than, Amelia, this is unexpected. What brings you here?’ 

 

"To Tar Valon . . . or to 'here'? I've always been interested in Tar Valon, especially after I was told not to visit. I figured there must be some reason, some . . . something more. But there is nothing. Nothing but water and more water." Emelia made a sour face and then brightened, "Ale?"

 

‘*’ The feeling of uneasy heightened as Halvie stopped herself just short of grasping saidar and blasting the woman off her chair. Only her Tower training, a curious streak of self-preservation and control had prevented her from acting out the urge. This wasn’t Amelia; that voice and mention of ale signalled danger all over. She abhorred ale; a fact few knew but then, she did trust a little more those she owned by revelling more personal traits to them; in private, naturally. And that mist, or steam, had not been imagined. The woman was channelling… but playing harmless thus far. Yet that relaxed posture could easily turn into something else when provoked, she suspected instinctively. 'Tar Valon is decent enough. More crowded than most places, don't you agree? But visually, I’d say it’s quite a sight. Can't imagine why you were advised against coming...’ Her soft voice trailed off subtly.

 

Emelia snorted so hard that she blew bubbles into her ale glass, which was currently raised to her lips. Realising this, ducked her head, blushing. She placed the glass back on the table, too embarrassed to mention how her offer had been ignored. Maybe later.

 

"Crowded? I don't . . . know. Is it? There are people wherever I go. It is pretty, I guess, but not that pretty . . ." her eyes began to wander to the hearth-fire, reflecting the flames she found there. "Oh. Yes. Neither am I, really. Something about aes sedai being dangerous. So far I've seen mostly water. Yuck."

 

‘*’ 'Then I suppose you'd object to my having this glass of water?' Halvie enquired lightly as though out of politeness. 'I'm afraid ale and I aren't on the closest of terms. I'd rather appreciate the things Tar Valon is so famous for sober than drunk. The Tower for one... people travel there often enough for help. I was thinking, a visit there for memories sake... interested?' The person was fascinating and if the element of power had been absent, Halvie might even consider her humorous.

 

"Object? No, no, by all means." It was not imagination that her jaw was set rather tightly as she said that; again she stared into the fire. "Water can be dangerous. It takes very little to get wet and not much more to drown. Ick, ick, ick. Horrible, clingy, damp wet. I don't understand how people can live here! You're going to 'The Tower'? That big white thing I saw over there?" A wave of her hand to punctuate the question. "Of course, it looks fascinating. Shame about the colour scheme though. You know what would look nice? Red stripes."

 

‘*’Again with the loathing of water and coupled with the steam that continuously surrounded her in a gentle envelope, it made Halvie ponder upon that unique fact further as she plotted a careful move. Outwardly, she chuckled softly, leaning forward a little to take a sip of her drink before carefully placing it between her two palms. The ice was melting, fast. She signalled once more to the innkeeper who obliged by bringing a tiny metal bucket that clattered softly with its load of ice. 'Come back in summer; I'm sure you'll be singing a different tune by then. I hear it burns. Hot. Like the Aiel Waste. I think I'd like to visit the desert once, for memories sake as well. Hopefully...'  The part on the Tower now, she’d return to later. Water and the Tower; they made an unusual combination for a conversation.

 

The metal bucket made a sloshy, ice sound and Emelia's focus changed with the alarming speed of a crossbow firing. Her expression clouded, features and carriage morphing into things unpleasant. With the same pace she collected herself and returned to 'normal'.

 

Emelia shifted uncomfortably for a moment before displaying a smile of white teeth. "The Summer, you say? I just might do that. And the desert, too. Warm, dry, like something from a dream. Is . . . is all that ice really quite necessary?"

 

‘*’ ‘Not really, I suppose. I could have it taken away, if… if you insist,’ Halvie agreed somewhat reluctantly, eyes sharpening with interest. ‘Do you have a phobia of water? Childhood tragedy perhaps?’ The tension in the air was mounting rapidly now and there was a sense, a strong horrifying suspicion that the unspoken time of peace was about to break. ‘Everyone’s got their own tragedies. Mine… I lost my family in a fire.’ They were playing a fine game of words, with her partner confirming with every passing second to meet the delicate prerequisites of the term ‘unstable’. A dangerously temperamental enigma unleashed; it had to be every Aes Sedai’s nightmare. Mentally, she began shifting thru the list of protective wards and best way to contain the unknown danger. People, they were everywhere. Deaths; they would occur unless…

 

Water. Too much. The conversation was beginning to make her uncomfortable. She was not afraid of water, she just didn't like it. It was dangerous, dangerous and subduing. No one should have to go through life doused and sodden, unable to burn. That was a terrifying thought. But no, she wasn't afraid of water. A fear of water would just be silly. Yes.

 

Her parents died in a fire . . . and so did Emelia's. The memory brought back sensation and for a moment she was naked and alone among the burning embers of her former home. The moment passed and she longed for its return.

 

Emelia's cheeks began to flush and her breathing became heavier. Her eyes lost some of their focus. "A fire you say? That is very . . . unfortunate. I am sorry for your loss. That, too, is how my parents died. Please . . . tell me all about it."

 

‘*’ The explosion was drawing nigh; Halvie could sense the slip in the change of the tonal inflection, as though the woman was sinking, sinking deeper into a realm where sensibility had no hand. She had to act, quickly. Reaching deep within her robes she withdrew a small bottle of oil before pushing it across the table; none too quickly so as not to startle. She noted the immediate alertness at her introduction of a new item in view. ‘It’s getting frightfully cold in here, don’t you think? I was wondering… could you help me fire this up, please?’ Fire – she’d made a slight emphasise on the word and prayed it would go, for the most part, unnoticed; to be registered only at a subconscious level. 

 

Odd. Emelia's mind took a breath, trying to consider this new truth in her very narrow universe. It was a candle and she had been asked to 'fire' it. There were not many ways she could interpret such a request. Fire, the woman wanted; fire she would have.

 

Her mind knew what was coming, as did her body—fire. Her breathing became shallow and rapid; her skin, comfortably warm. Her skin tingled with eagerness and her eyes and her thoughts reached out for the candle.

 

There was a hissing sound, a pop and a flare of bright fire. The candle burnt hot and quick, an outward sign of Emelia's desire. She gave a helpless shrug and apologised for the loss of the candle, for it would last only moments longer, but all the while her thoughts were enveloped by the soft glow.

 

It smelt lovely. She would have to enquire about that scent later. Emelia rubbed her eyes; followed the action through by stiffling a yawn. Some part of her acknowledged the wrongness of her situation; the rest only longed for sleep. Her glass of ale tipped, its contents sloshing across the table as her head fell onto her arms. . . .

 

‘*’ Success. Willing a calmness that had nearly failed to materialise, Halvie had prudently held her breath as the woman fell straight into her trap; hook, line and sinker. The scented oil had been bought earlier more as a quick remedy to her recent insomnia plague; she would’ve never imagined its eventual usefulness. Indeed, it was just as well she had bought a large supply of such exotic items back with her as a result of her journeys aboard - evidence to support her travels, in bulk. The wagons would be arriving in the early morning carrying her other goods and she was certain it would contain enough leftover space to include one more passenger. The Accepteds would come in handy tomorrow, to assist in carrying a rather sick friend of hers. Struggling slightly with the door, Halvie discarded her catch onto the nearby bed, covering her almost gently with the bedspread before removing yet another small oil lamp to be used. She would take no chances with this wild one, not tonight. Even without the precautionary use of the second lamp, the woman should by rights be sleeping through the night, the Light willing…

 

 

Halvie Sedai

Sister of the Green Ajah

 

Ooc: It was fun, Sam, truly. And Accepteds, it’s almost time for you to meet our explosive little package!  ;)

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Slender fingers pressured her skin slightly, stealing her expression of firm solidity and transforming it into something quite...different. Had it been another face, or perhaps, Timmons in one of his horror-struck reflex actions, she would've sniffed at such a display and removed her hand from the odd touch in as impassive a way as sniffing allowed. The tricky part of the matter lay in the fact that she knew no answer to this puzzle, no means by which to respond to the clear impulse without looking strange. Simply put, she was baffled. This woman was not reprimanding. She was not even shifting uncomfortably at such intimacy! Mina was no face-reader, but surely those eyes were sincere? "When do we leave?"

 

She was asking perhaps, sillier questions than sensibility allowed, but there was the matter of surprise to consider about the whole scene that had unfolded. Bizarre? "No, there do no be any such thing. Only truth," she muttered. Looking up, she studied Saline's face as she spoke, noting with some interest how her hands would move to and fro as if shaping her words. They would be going to an inn, tomorrow...at Dawn? Mina Daryl closed her eyes for a brief moment as she shuddered internally at the thought of facing the morning sun- she had seen too much of it lately, by the orders of one Vera Sedai. "Let me be saying this back to you- We shall leave for the Golden Crow, but first, we be meeting at the stables? I've not ridden a horse in months," said the crest-fallen Accepted. She had no desire to have her limited skill with a horse displayed to all the Tower and then, the city as well, but maybe she would go after Saline left her, to attempt to climb it without the aid of the stablehand.

 

When she looked in askance at Saline, she blinked at the unforeseen paleness the Taraboner's skin had adopted. Only when the other shook her head a little violently, did Mina let herself feel relief and also smile a little at Saline's blanching. "Indeed, it be essential that all facts I know be true. Otherwise, there be a Mina collapse."

 

~**~

 

The next morning her restless feet carried her to the sound of hammers clanging in the nearby forge. But she had gone into stables instead, greeting Mina with a per-functionary wave. She did not suppose the other had noticed it, and tried to care through the fogginess. At her side trotted a mule looking somewhat less morose than she did. Dawn ill-suited Saline, and their beast of burden it seemed. The rope suffered much slack as their newly acquired sidekick attended them. Her pace quickened into a jog to catch up with Mina, though her mind was much ensconced in bed. She strayed too close to a bramble, but it was not until its sharp edge tore a rent in her leggings, that Saline finally roused with a sharp cry, more surprise than pain.

 

The sudden cry, unexpected, unwanted- a disturbance in the calm of Tar Valon, if one could truly perceive such a city as calm. She turned instantly, looking instantly at her companion's face as she stepped closer. Rather than giving into worry as was expected of one friend for another, she studied Saline closely. "What be wrong?" Her eyes strayed from Saline to a thicket of brambles that she had only just avoided a few seconds ago, and then back to the fellow Accepted again. She moved forward to inspect it, but only after a nod from the other. The sliver of skin was sore, with a streak of red colouring it unnaturally. "It be wanting some damp cloth. It no be deep. I can attend to it in the inn, if you be well enough to wait that long?"

 

Foolishly she nodded, examining the damage. Several cuts, the largest of which ragged flesh bared itself proudly. It was clean but bleeding freely, and neither of them learnt enough healing that they could repair it. Besides, a healing would leave her weak and hardly fit for work. They needed tight bandaging to staunch the blood, and any inflammation, although there was no darkening of the skin around the cuts, a good sign. She winced at the idea of summoning help. For all her talk of a Mina collapse the white aspirant proved tougher than her words and appearance had led Saline to believe. Soothing words were more than enough balm for the gaping flesh that exposed itself, which she brushed off. “Thank you,” Saline beamed, “but I can still walk. Go on, I’ll take care of the mule.” She leaned nonchalantly on the mule until the other, with a last glance over the shoulder, disappeared around the alley. Mina’s concern overrode the final shreds of reservations she harboured and despite her game leg Saline’s spirit rose. Ever so slowly they plodded onward, and she let the mule lead her as her vision misted. Saline lifted her head to coloured swirls in the distance, limping toward ‘the Golden Crow’.

 

Saline & Mina

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Bells jingled. It was Melianna's first free day as an Accepted and she decided to explore the city, with her bells in her braids, of course. The day was rather sunny, with a cooling breeze. It reminded her of the days spent sailing with her Father. She passed shops with men and woman yelling their wares. None specifically asked her though. Her dress marked her as an Accepted, and Accepted had no money.

 

She walked along some road, daydreaming about ter'angreal. She found herself doing that often of late. Sometimes it was quite a problem. Blasted mind. She was turning Browner by the day. Something caught her eye. Another Accepted. With a mule! And she looked injured. Pity she had little Healing ability. She ran over, bells jingling.

 

"Are you allright? Wait, aren't you Saline? I think we met once." she said. She quickly glanced at the injury. "Do you need help with that? Do you want me to find help?" Blood would surely stain her dress.

 

Melianna Hollmen

aka Tsunami Hollmen of the Rossaine Clan

Accepted

 

OoC: She's not officially Accepted yet, but I just timetravelled a bit.

 

 

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The pale that lined her face disappeared, and when Saline scowled, even men did not go near her. Despite her training she was deceptively unfit, compounded by an astounding low tolerance of physical discomfort. Even in the dawn the city sweltered. The sight of water everywhere, in the cannels and gutters along the market square, served only to aggravate. If she were a Sister, then she could appear cool and collected in an inn. Unfortunately there was a Sister in the inn, and she was but an initiate staggering after a mule called Muley.

 

Eh?

 

She hadn’t realized her posture looked that bad, but she may not be in good shape. Her widened brown eyes darted to Muley for confirmation. His doleful gaze repelled her attention. Tcha, animals. First she limped after ‘em, then leaned on ‘em, and soon she would be conversing with ‘em. As for that slip of a girl who offered assistance, she donned the garment of an Accepted. And Saline wasn’t sure she had seen the other before, had she?

 

She gaped at being recognised, intending to refuse the kindly Accepted. Somebody unseen that saw her wasn’t exactly comforting, and Saline rummaged for a name; she never forgot a name. Melianna? The Taraboner blinked incomprehensively, before her mind recalled the curious incident the night before. Darienna Sedai had been leading a blanching novice, toward her office, Saline guessed, but dared not overstay for fear of being lead to the same place. The features were familiar and pretty, yet there were many, many stunning girls in the Tower, their hair a flowing, inky river. More memorable had been the tinkling of bells, braided through its dark eddies and currents. In the daylight Saline glimpsed what she had not aft evening, and curiosity concerning that strangely webbed symbol brushed over the rest of her reservations. An Arafellin with tattoos on her hands?

 

Honeyed curls dipped, masking her chagrin. This intrigue left her feeling downright oafish but kind of clever again for leaping to conclusions. If the girl had been raised yesterday, then she was in for a long week. Perhaps she would get to know the Accepted better when they spent time and toil together. How else had she met Rossa as a novice, and Timmons not so long ago?

 

“Yup, I’ll tell you what, Melianna.” Hopefully that was right. Well, her words sounded confident. “If you can get my mule to the stables around the back of that patch of nettles, and return to help me move some items, well, I won’t bleed on you. Oh, and I’ll treat you to ale and a honeycake.” Saline jostled her pouch at the newly raised Accepted, so she heard the chink-chink of coins. “Some celebration may be in order, anyway.”

 

Handing the other Muley’s rope, she stomped toward the entrance, where Mina and more importantly, bandages could be found. And a basin. She had no intention of being both sweaty and bloody in front of any Sister.

 

Saline

~Eyesore~

 

OOC: Thanks for rescuing me, Tiggy.  :)

 

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Muley, eh? How...creative. She grabbed the reins to lead the very creatively named mule away, and eagerly thought of ale and honeycakes. She snickered at the thought of the Accepted chasing her down the street trying to bleed on her. She'd likely get thrown in the looney bin if that happened. She handed the reins ot the grubby stableboys and wandered back into the inn, where Saline had already found some bandages ad a washbasin.

 

"Here, let me help." she said as she started to wash the injuries down. She looked around, then embraced the Source. A simple weave of water to clean out the cuts, and air to stop the bleeding while she ackwardly tried to wrap bandages. Medicine had never been her strong point.

 

Melianna

Not a doctor

 

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A shaft of gold pierced the velvet skies when word arrived at last. The captured woman had barely stirred but the hours that’d trickled by nonetheless had been barely endurable, her body tensing whenever there came a distant sound of yet another patron moving through the entrance door, or worse still, of someone mounting the stairs. Halvie knew precious little about the woman and could harbour only guesses as to whether she’d travelled solo or in a group. And so it was with relief that no regrettable incidents did in fact occur, by the time the crumpled note came, with directions regarding the location of her small collection of wagons. She penned a swift reply for her agent alongside a strange request for a thick portion of unused metal to be placed within one of her vehicles. The man would no doubt be curious but money would ensure he held his silence & kept any negligible thoughts to himself. Right now, she desired only to reach the sanctuary of the Tower to truly subdue the wild channeler of hers. 

 

Reaching the common room, now nearly empty given the early hour, there was a rapid exchange of information in hushed whispers with her hired servant as Halvie mentioned needing an extra pair of hands in carrying a woman to the wagon; sick and still unconscious – not quite a lie so that the three oaths once sworn were not broken. There was a small infernal commotion then that caught her eyes, causing her to end the conversation abruptly as she spotted the arrival of the young Accepteds; three of them, all in all, including one who’d been injured. The Healing, Halvie concluded promptly, could easily be dealt with by the Yellows as she had no wish to linger in the midst of a swarm of humanity with her captive. She could only grasp at the true potential and depth of talent her enigma possessed but to know she was a danger was enough. She had to be contained.

 

‘Accepteds?’ Halvie kept her features impassive as a round of perfunctory greetings was offered. ‘You are early; that is just as well.’ Reaching deep into the folds of her pocket, she handed each of the girls a slip of paper. ‘Directions to the wagons are written on them, alongside a list of items that should still be there. Report to me if any item is missing. That will be all.’ Nodding coolly in dismissal, she caught the eye of her awaiting help before going up to retrieve the woman. Once she’d determined that the Accepted had left as required, they began transferring the woman down the narrow stairs and out past the door to where an empty wagon stood not far from the rest. It would hardly do to have the Accepted come any closer and discover the woman’s ability to channel; such a scenario would likely bring about a deluge of queries she was ill-equipped to respond to, let alone deflect. ‘There, just place her here,’ Halvie directed, frowning slightly in consternation at the metal purchase she’d ordered him to acquire earlier on. Too little for her intentions but better than none, she concluded reluctantly.

 

‘Aes Sedai?’ Biting back a sharp oath, Halvie then swerved around and half-dragged the girl behind her far away from the wagon before unleashing an inimical glare on her. ‘Never appear behind someone unannounced, never,’ she hissed emphatically, struggling mentally to control the paranoia that had sharpened due to her ignorance of her captive. They could be watching, these possible friends of hers; it could be anyone. ‘Have you finished? I have more for you,’ she announced gratuitously before leading the girl back to her group of friends. ‘Here, see these knots joining the wagons? Test them, make sure they hold. And feed the mules while you’re at it.’ She made to leave then but paused briefly, noting the unspoken questions being directed at her. Alas, her captive had been seen, but that was all unless Halvie read her wrongly, thank the Light. ‘That woman is… a friend of mine. She is very ill and requires immediate attention. I’ll handle her.’

 

So saying, she abandoned them just so, picking her way through to the front of the awaiting wagons. Checking to ensure the woman remained unconscious, Halvie seized the power and began moulding the metal into two rough sets of restraints to bind both the hands and ankles. An additional precaution she personally felt quite unnecessary but it wouldn’t hinder her progress by much so it mattered little. Task concluded, the woman was then unceremoniously dumped into a box & securely fastened - easily done. Soon enough, they found themselves on the way back to the Tower, each step taken lightening the burden Halvie felt on her shoulders. A meeting with the Amyrlin Seat would be required, coupled with an extensive research into the woman’s background... so many things but at least, with this particular catch, she could label her journeys beyond the Tower a resounding success. Mayhap she’d stumbled upon a secret society of channelers who rejected the sway of the Tower; given the dwindling numbers of channelers, it would be glorious if proven so. Nonetheless… the creeping sense of unease was approaching once more. Pebbles that littered the path rattled, almost as a portend, as they drew nigh their intended destination. Nudging her mount forward, Halvie hesitantly reached forward to pull back the cloth covering the little prison box, an act to comfort her unfounded misgivings. And then… the explosion came.     

 

 

Halvie Sedai

Sister of the Battle Ajah

 

Ooc: Many many apologies for the lateness. The internet at home went down & I've only just arranged for a connection in the school.  ;)

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She sniffled, a very immature trait in a soon-to-be bride. Her nanny gave her a stern look in the mirror and Emelia’s face dissolved in misery. Her eyes squeezed shut to stop the tears that would spoil her make-up and her hands clutched one another in her lap. Nanny ran a gilded, ornate brush through Emelia’s long hair, clucking reproachfully at the curls.

 

The band was practising downstairs. She heard laughter, loud voices, and fancied that the sound of toasting champagne glasses was there, too. The men would be in the parlour drinking champagne and smoking cigars. The women would be together giggling and whispering behind raised hands. She stared into the reflection of her bedchamber’s hearth, pleading with the Creator to save her.

 

Emelia had hidden her courses for as long as she could, but Nanny had found out and then so had her parents. Now she would be married. They were getting a lot of money for her, she knew, money must have been very important. It wasn’t fair. Only weeks ago she had been playing with dolls and now . . . well, just look at her!

 

Her soon-to-be husband was a horrible man. She hated him, loathed him! Every time he put her hands on her she squirmed inside. He was so big and she was just so little and she knew what wives were expected to do for their husbands. She squeezed her eyes tightly again and bit her lip. She wouldn’t cry. Nanny wouldn’t like it.

 

Her hair was done, it looked pretty but her stomach hurt too badly to smile. Nanny led her down the stairs and she wanted to be sick. Daddy didn’t love her, if he did; he wouldn’t make her do this. Her mother didn’t care either. Emelia wanted them to hold her, to tell her they loved her, but they wouldn’t.

 

Nanny walked her into the long hall where her family and fiancé waited. They looked at her with big smiles and joy, ignoring the childish depiction of heart-break on her face. Her belly was so tight now, and her chest, too. Something was stuck in her throat and it was hard to breath, but still Nanny led her forward; music began to play.

 

It was so hot in the hall and she couldn’t breathe. Her steps faltered and she fell. She thought she heard Nanny lecture her but the sound was far away. She pulled at the collar of her dress, gasping for breath, only to realise the neckline dipped down upon her boyish figure. Her eyes didn’t work properly. The carpet was fuzzy and hard to see. She could feel it beneath her fingers and against her knees but the sensations were dull.

 

The light of the hall’s hearth fire drew her eyes towards it.

 

Her young eyes widened with shock as an indescribable jolt settled down on her. She felt . . . different. The hall’s fire climbed from its hearth prison. She believed she could see the shape of a man within. She tried to scream, to call out a warning, but her mouth would not work. The fire man wrapped arms around the shoulders of guests and they screamed for her.

 

The others stared and the flames spread. She felt something inside her head fall away.  They burned and she felt good, so alive and so . . . free. Was this what happiness was? She had never been so, so awake. The flames had saved her. For all her happiness, when alone with the ash and quiet, what was left of the child Emelia cried.

 

 

Her eyes opened. She was bound and it scared her. She squeezed her eyes tightly and bit her lip to stop from crying. Her stomach hurt and her breathing was amplified by the confines of her prison. She was trapped as she had been in the beginning and as she had been many times since.

 

She felt heavy weights binding her wrists together as she touched her fingers against the lid of  . . . was she in a coffin, buried deep beneath the earth? Had she been mistaken for the dead? Emelia almost panicked. No, she could hear things. Dull, like the chiming of champagne classes beneath her feet but they were there. 

 

Stretching her toes she could sense the bottom of whatever it was she was in against the soles of her feet. It touched her shoulders as well, on both sides, and she could barely raise her head before the smooth skin of her forehead brushed against rough wood. The box was jolted and swayed. Was she on a ship? The thought of being surrounded by water terrified her more than any grave. She did panick . . .

 

. . . and called the fire-man to save her.

 

Her clothing rippled with heat and her body was filled with indescribability. Her skin became warm, became hot; became almost too uncomfortable to bear; the weights upon her seared into the flesh of her ankles and wrists. Emelia screamed, pain fueling her outrage.

 

She imagined her wrists and ankles blackening but still the temperature became hotter until she thought she would lose consciousness. She felt the weights give, finally, and turned her attention to the pitiful wooden structure that dared bind her! With a surge of power the box exploded with the intensity of a geyser, taking the wagon along with it.

 

She ran and ran, adrenaline keeping her upright, eventually collapsing behind a building. She could not bear to maintain her hold on the fire, the pain of her burnt skin was too great; she found it hard to breathe. Her steps faltered and she fell. She thought she heard Nanny lecture her but the sound was far away. She pulled at the collar of her leather vest, gasping for breath, only to realise that the neckline hung loose upon her boyish figure. Her eyes didn’t work properly.

 

She blacked out.

 

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Light.

 

Early morning, it had been nothing more than a gentle flicker, dancing across the dull and vivid alike so that they were granted newer, different dimensions for an onlooker such as she. Through shadow, it guided, amplifying its display only when necessary. The sun was not harsh, which was a rare, lucky thing. Her eyes for one, appreciated this. A normal day would’ve ensured that blue eyes were screwed tight, peering through lashes in an attempt to understand the note. Today however, they were able and deft, scanning the note well enough for her to know it after a second read.

 

The items themselves, she had no comments on. Since it had been Melianna who had taken charge of Saline’s welfare, Mina had quietly proceeded to keep herself busy with the task. When they spoke, she smiled along yes, but her mind remained elsewhere. While she could admit that checking items off a list was not a task that required much intelligence, Mina found herself at ease only when she believed she had satisfied the Tower, the ever watching force that drove not just her, but all three of the Accepted who were present.

 

It was not a very large list. She found herself done with the crosscheck within minutes. Breathing in, she made to look through once more, now not even glancing at her companions. Well, companion. Melianna, she did not know. Perhaps this was a perfect opportunity to change circumstances, or perhaps it was a perfect time to prove yet again, that she was just. . . good. The answer to that, the answer to any man’s priorities was one that could be found only by the man himself, and so, when Mina picked the latter, she did it with a smile.

“We do be done,” she announced a short time later, turning only now to look at the other two. “You be better, Saline?” Mina surveyed her friend with concern that sounded odd in her mind, before considering Melianna. “Thank you for the help, Melianna. We would not be finished with the task, otherwise. I be going to tell Halvie Sedai, yes?” Nodding at the two, she left in quick steps. The sunlight had deepened, strengthened even, but it was not bad enough just yet to mark her skin with sweat and red cheeks like it usually did. Spotting the Green Sister, Mina moved towards her without a sound, practicing how to glide like a Sister just as much as she was refraining from disturbing the room in any way.

 

Reeling back at the soft hiss, Mina’s eyes widened in fright at the lashing she had not seen coming. It was as Halvie Sedai began to move away that she composed herself, steadying her face back to the neutrality she was well known for. Dismay was still flooding her insides as she followed after. Halvie Sedai was right. The training of the Green Ajah would have probably had Mina struck and dumb, had she not been lucky. And it was none of her business to wonder about the fleeting fear she had caught in the Aes Sedai’s eyes. “You be better than this, Mina!” she found herself muttering in soft whispers, before glancing in fear at the Green. She had not heard Mina.

 

She listened with as much focus as she could summon, not wanting to fail the Aes Sedai again. To do so, Mina remembered an old technique, pinning needles of sharp points onto her mind, so that everything other than what the Sister was informing her of, was lost. There was nothing she said that challenged Mina in anyway, not until the Sister addressed the subject Mina had wanted least-and yet most-to ask about. Resisting the urge to blink, Mina nodded as impassively as before. A friend. That was all. In a rare moment, she chose to let go of her paranoia, slipping instead into a mood both dutiful and cautious. Sooner than she had expected, they were making their return. The realization cheered her, making a soft smile appear on her lips.

 

And that’s when it happened.

 

Light, glorious light exploded out of nowhere blinding her vision as she felt herself fall, headfirst. Blood rushed to her mouth, coming out in swift torrents onto her tongue, while her head and jaw throbbed awkwardly against the path. Thoughts raced, pulsing madly as she tried to move, tried to focus. Something had exploded. Inside the wagon. Light, her head hurt. It was when the crackle of flames reached her ears that she forced herself up. Even as she did her vision blurred, and blood surged through her head, causing her to sway. She tried to look for Saline and Melianna, even the Sister, but the smoke enveloped her. For a moment she thought she saw a silhouette form, but trying to move was an impossible feat for her just then. Breathing in, she shut her eyes and then opened them, finding that her sight had steadied itself. Relief filled her as she found the Aes Sedai, but when Mina approached her this time, there was no grace.

“Halvie Sedai… fire… I think there was a woman. What… what should I do?”

 

~Mina Daryl

989 to 865 words. Peace.

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