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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Flowering, and moving on with the wind


Liitha

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Celerita smiled as she sliped out of the gate, she had somewhere to be now, though it all had started weeks ago when she got bored of sitting in the tower.

 

***

 

As far as she had known there had been no evidence of her mother having learned where she was, or if she had she must have been turned off by the tower withouth Celerias knowledge. Either way she had reached the conclution that the city must be safe area, and so she had ventured into it. It was in the city she had met madam Courtier, a meeting that would change her life, though she hadnt realised it in the moment. It was not untill after she had been back in the tower, back in her bed contemplating, it wasnt untill then she realised a lot of things. The end result was that as she surely couldnt stay in the tower forever, and her money would eventualy run out, she would need a suitable way to look after herself, she had already dismissed her mothers wish for mariage down her path. And so she had reached the conclution why not, why not take the carefully presented sugestion from the madam.

 

She had sougth out the madam the day after, and in the weeks to come she had changed, her wardrobe had expanded, she had learned how to lay make up to douse her less actractive traits, and strengthen her positive traits. But it hadnt stoped there, ways to cover up that she had no idea what someone spoke of, and make it seem she was listening with interes, how to hold herself, walk and talk. She had learned to master herself, not by far as well as a domani, but enough to get attention when she wanted.

 

***

 

But things had changed, and she had ended up happy to have stored her new property with the madam, though she had moved them from the inn earlier that day. Now it was time to leave, not because she didnt want to stay, but some questions was geting a litle to close on her past, and she had realised that it must have been the prior, her mother hadnt known,  but the tower was about to learn. And after contemplating some more, and talking to a young woman a couple days earlier she had descided to not take the risk that they thougth her mother was right.

 

She wanted to walk more hastily, almost feeling like she was fleeing, doing something she shouldnt, but surely not. Regardless she was happy when she found the inn the woman had given as her staying place, she had talked to her and agreed to leave with her, her things should be inside the inn, but after confirming that she could come she had to go back to the tower and get her things. Smiling as she saw the woman she thougth she was silly, surely she could have brougth the few belongings earlier, she had but been worried there would be questions if someone saw them gone.

 

Celerita smiled, no mather, half an hour and they should be out of the city, her horse was trailing in a lead behind her, the streets had been to crowded to make it worth it to try and ride, and on the ground she wasnt as visible, it was another one of her ideas just to be sure. With the help of the woman she tied the horse to the wagon and got up infront togheter with her, she had sliped a shawl over her head to cover up her hair who migth be a seen as a trademark. She looked against the horison, soon a new life would begin.

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  • 2 weeks later...

~Dilora~

 

She had had enough of the White City, and now the wheels rolled ponderously away from Tar Valon, the shining walls becoming a glimmering flyspeck on the horizon.  What had prompted Dilora to take a passenger, she had no idea, other than that women should stick together and some female company would be nice for the journey ahead.  For now, their paths ran along the same road, for until they journeyed further down it, neither really knew where they were heading.  Every so often Dilora would turn her head to regard her companion, noting the headscarf that instantly cried to her sceptical mind “disguise” and the poise with which she held herself.  This was a woman of stature trying to escape from some fate in Tar Valon.  Without openly staring into the woman’s face she could not seriously determine her age, as Dilora’s eyes were tired and it was rude to squint and stare.  Adjusting the neck of her dress against the day, she considered the kind of woman that might not want to linger in Tar Valon but decided against pursuing further thought.  If her suspicions that this was someone the Tower wanted to enrol in their Book of Novices were true, then it meant trouble.

 

No, why borrow trouble when it will likely find you anyway?

 

The woman’s horse was tied alongside Altie, trotting along freely with no care other than occasionally stopping to sniff at some grass, or nip at something.  It was rather peaceful.  Idle chitchat was exchanged about the state of the roads and perhaps stopping somewhere in the local vicinity so that Dilora could catch some fish for dinner.  It had been agreed that they would ride a bit further before even considering to stop; both women were still a little uncomfortable with the idea of Tar Valon still so close to them and if they could put a few more miles between here and the horizon before sunset, then they should do it.  She smiled at the woman, handing her the reins briefly while Dilora disappeared into the red and gold painted wagon to rummage around in one of the manifold drawers that lined the wall of the small interior.

 

Even now, after a while without replenishing her supplies, lots of saleable items remained.  In particular she noticed there was some brandy left in the barrel and she debated keeping it for medicinal purposes but perhaps it would go better with some roasted trout.  Another drawer yielded herbs that were just starting to turn from fresh to stale, and if Dilora dried them on her windowsill they would be useful as medicinal ones to go in her secret chest under the wagon seat.  Those ones cost more money to the general public given their value.  Finally, she found what she was looking for; the little bags of boiled sweets she had made on her last preservations trip.  Flavoured with mint, they would be nice and cooling about now, so she took the small paper bag of hard round candies up to the wagon seat again. 

 

“My name is Dilora, by the way.  I never did catch yours.”  She offered the sweets to her companion.  “Candy?”

 

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“My name is Dilora, by the way.  I never did catch yours.”  Celerita thougth quickly before caping of the begining of her name, "Erita" she smiled as she was offered candy and took one, "thank you".

 

"You're welcome," Dilora replied, popping one of the sweets into her own mouth and marvelling it wasn't yet stale.  "You seem as pleased as I am to be leaving Tar Valon.  Did you get bored of the lifestyle too?"  Without waiting for an answer, Dilora stretched expansively.  "i missed the open road, me.  I needed to feel as though I was free again."  She looked at Erita with a compassionate look.  "The finest walls can still make a prison, sometimes."

 

"Why did you want to leave?"

 

Celerita smiled the candy helped and was of rather good quality, "Yes, you got it somewhat right, I was geting  bored. Besides Tar Valon was a midle stop, I needed to fix some things, they are now taken care of, and well...Well it was time to move on, to somewhere i can make a living of my own by my own skills."  How someone could prefer the roads was beyond her though, she had not enjoyed her travel down to Tar Valon in the least, only driven by fear of being caugth up. "I am afraid I am not one for the roads though, so will be looking for ocupation maybe in a city." She offered her lemonade bottle to Dilora.

 

The refreshing liquid trickled down her throat; a nice change to drink something soft other than the sharp tang of cider.  She'd none of that left, nor would she likely have any until the next village.  The best stuff came from around the Two Rivers, anyway, and that was miles away yet.  "Do you have a destination in mind yet?"  Dilora passed the lemonade bottle back, smiling.

 

Celerita tiped the botleneck against her lush lips and siped the lemonade, it had become a habit by now that she had had to strugle to hide in the tower. Freedom, to not hide from women who always thougth they knew best, be it her mother or the Aes Sedai, afterall she was her own person, or something like that. It was something she had read in a  book once, but couldnt quite recal. "I dont know, maybe Ceamlyn, its close, and I really do not fancy the dust of traveling." she shruged the hair out of her face, and at the same time her shawl fell down around her shoulders.

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~Dilora~

 

“If we’re heading to Caemlyn first, I’ll need to make Altie go in a slightly different direction.”  Dilora tugged at the reins and the mare obliged, bearing the wagon and its occupants towards the Andoran capital.  “And I would not worry about the dust of travelling; there is plenty of room in the back of the wagon if you’d like to ride in there.  Of course, you’d miss my charming company – I was going to point out the sites as we rode along.”  She eyed the pretty hair.  “I can understand why you’d not want to get that dirty though.  I bet it takes forever to dry when you wash it.”  Erita smiled at her. 

 

Mile after mile of countryside rolled slowly by as they kept a steady pace away from Tar Valon.  Passed farm cottages, barns and well-maintained fields they passed, and passed villages barely worthy of the term ‘hamlet’ before the first of their major sights came into view.  The expanse of trees not too far out from Tar Valon known as Braem Wood loomed closer and closer until the shadow of the overhead boughs dappled shades across Dilora’s face. 

 

Birds sang in the treetops and every so often the undergrowth would rustle in the manner meaning a wild animal was going to take water from one of the inevitable forest pools.  Jokingly, Dilora mentioned about bathing in one of those pools tonight to save the cost of a hot bath and was unprepared for her companion’s reaction.  It made her smile.

 

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Evening crept up them as they passed over the plains of carelain, aparently they had been in the wrong direction for where she intended to go. Celerita wished she had a map, she had been sure with the bridge they passed of they would be bound to head to Caemlyn, Oh well it wasnt as if they would get there anyhow without camping. As evening came close they closed on a forest, she had replaced the shawl on her head to keep the dust out of her hair, but stayed out on the wagon.

 

She was also coming to remember what she didnt like about traveling, and felt sore from humping in the wagon all day, hopefully it wouldnt rain, at least if it did they would have cover in the forest. They wherent far in before she started wondering though, "Mayhaps camp, unless you intend to navigate by the stars?" she knew it was posible, but it would be hard with the tick canopy above them. Besides she wanted off the wagon and streatch her legs. She had had some naps during the day, but they had been no good, and she had been pleased to be awoken by bumps in the road. Her stumock growled hungry, she wanted nothing more now then a filling meal, maybe a steak. "oh thats a lovely song" she tilted her head off to the side to look for which bird she could posibly be hearing, it sounded so close, yet she could see no bird, smell of flowers overtook her though, and she ended up sneezing before siting back properly on her seat.

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~Dilora~

 

Dilora laughed.  “I think making camp would be a good idea.  I’m not so good as some to find my way at night, and I certainly don’t think Altie would appreciate my risking her safety just to get a little further along the road.  No,” she looked around to try and find the source of the song the woman had mentioned and to see if there was anywhere decent nearby to camp “we’ll stop for a while.”  A likely looking stand of trees would provide their shelter for tonight, she decided.  There were no real areas of coverage out in the Caralain grass but this small patch would have to do. 

 

“What song did you mean?”  Puzzled, Dilora concentrated on listening really hard.  Wind rustled some of the long grass and the sounds of their breathing were the only things Dilora could hear – certainly she could hear no birds or any wildlife at all.  She tilted her head questioningly at the woman who looked back at her, confused.

 

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Celerita couldnt hear it anymore now that she focused on the conversation, "it was a chirp chirp sound, I dont know, its gone now." Celerita was climbing down to look after her own horse, it was one of the few labors she had learned from her grandmother, that she had a healthy respect for, a lame horse would take you nowhere. Having made sure the horse was fine she spread a blanket on the ground to sit on, taking out her brush she started to shake dust out of her hair, and brush it slowly and carefully, it took work to keep a long hair like hers healthy and shiny, traveling was not good on it.

 

She had more lemonade in her packings, and had some sandwitches packed as well for this first day, she undid the wraping around them. "Knowing that travel food will soon become the rule, I had some of these packed for this first day" she extended the package to Dilora, it was the least she could do, for being allowed to travel with her.

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  • 2 weeks later...

~Dilora~

 

“Thank you,” she said, taking the package from the girl and removing one of the sandwiches inside “you’re very kind.  Certainly food will become an issue at some point but I’ve hunted for my dinner before and I have no qualms in doing so again.”  Dilora looked at the girl from the corner of her eye.  “You might not think it to look at me, but I’m rather a good hunter!”  Her white teeth bit into the sandwich and appreciated the thick slices of bread spread with butter and the slices of cheese within.  There was some sort of pickle on it too that made her think of Baerlon for some reason; around the time of the harvest everyone was interested in preserving what they had for as long as possible.  She had her bow and arrows still under the wagon seat, unused for quite some time.  Everything that she had learnt from Owen all that time ago lay fresh in her mind; he had been a good teacher.  She wondered what had happened to him.

 

Their camp established in the stand of trees Dilora had earlier spotted, a fire was next on the list.  “I don’t know about you,” she joked “but I could really do with a cup of tea.  I’ve some honey in the back if you like it sweet.”  A large spoonful would go into her mug as well.  Life was too short to skimp on sweet things.  The girl smiled appreciatively and Dilora set to making a fire.  “Here, take this.”  Dilora passed over the small bucket that usually adorned the side of her wagon.  “We’ll need water for the tea and if you want to wash that lovely hair of yours, of course.”  She finished the sandwich after a few more bites and brushed the crumbs from her skirt. 

 

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Celerita took the bucket, water, she was not used to geting such things herself, though she had once before having had to do it when she fled. Silently she shruged of the memories, at least this time around she had company who knew how to make up camp. She could hear a chuckle of water somewhere behind her, and geting up she slowly follwed the sound, trying to not trip over her skirt, brushing aside spiderwebs.

 

She found the water source, and tried to sit down in a way to not dirty her dress, slowly sinking the bucket into the cold water. As she saw it fill and felt the cold water on her hands a shiver went down her spine, she felt as if not alone. She started loking around but couldnt see anything, yet she didnt wait till the bucket was fully filled before geting up, she didnt feel comfortable being in the darkening forest alone. As she turned to go back she saw a shadow in the corner of her eye, turning around she couldnt pin point anything though. More huridly and less conserned she made her way back to camp, water splashed over the edge of the bucket as she hasted back into the familiar ligth of the camp and put down the bucket by the fire.

 

She held shivering hands to the fire to warm them after the cool water, "Something is out there, I dont think its men, but something was watching me." Her voice wasnt fully steady, she hoped the woman really did know how to hunt, how to use weapons. Part of her wanted to move on, but she wouldnt want to leave the safety and ligth of the fire to travel through the darkness with something out in the forests.

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~Dilora~

 

The familiarity of attending to the little jobs that needed doing for a successful camp took Dilora’s mind off the road ahead for a time.  Slices of meat from a ham in her stores were cut to have with some bread and cheese; the meat would go to ruin and only be edible for dogs if it was not eaten within the next few days.  The normal sounds of encroaching night were her company now that her travelling companion had gone to fetch water.  Altie made barely a sound where she cropped at the sparse grass, the horse too taking her meal before settling down for the night. 

 

She mused, idly prodding the fire.  Once they had bathed and washed their hair, they could sit around the comforting flames and talk of their own experiences on the road and their plans.  Dilora always liked to talk of such things.  When the girl came back into the amber glow of the fire, there was a concerned, no, worried expression on her face that would not go. 

 

“Something is out there, I don’t think its men, but something was watching me.” 

 

Dilora nodded calmly.  The night outdoors could hold an unsettling sway over a person unused to coping without the security of four stout walls and a roof around them.  “Most likely it is just a wolf or a deer taking a drink before they go to sleep, but I’ll go take a look.”  Looking back over her shoulder at the girl, Dilora smiled coquettishly.  “If it is a man, who knows, I might be able to sell him something.”

 

The girl did not look overly appeased.  Sighing, Dilora went to the wagon’s small seat and opened a panel underneath it, revealing her bow and quiver of arrows.  Her knife was already at her belt.  “This should help if their intent proves to be less than … commercial.”  She shouldered the bow and purposefully set out of the camp in the same direction that the girl had used when she had returned.  “Make yourself useful and put on some tea, would you?”

 

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Normaly Celerita would have cast an odd look to anyone sugesting she make tea, or at least the old one would have. She had been in the presence of some AS time and again, and they didnt always see the difference on the young girl and the intiates, so she had had to learn. Taking the ketle she poured water over into it, and used a branch to host it over the fire that Dilora had made.

 

She reached her hands out to warm them against the fire, and looked around uneasily, the forest seemed pressing, and she could hear odd sounds, shivering she looked back into the flames. She found herself hoping that Dilora would come back soon, and a picture of the woman near the stream flashed through her mind and was gone again. It was so clear, almost as she had seen it and not just imagined it, if she had belived on forecastings, but she pushed it out of her mind.

 

She felt a shiver go down her spine and turned around, two yellow eyes was staring at her, she froze, they blinked and where gone, but none the less she was in the next moment screaming. She heard a sound behind her and spun around, something big was coming from the direction her companion had left. Her eyes glaced wildly over the camp, the horses. She ran for them, she needed to get away to safety.

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~Dilora~

 

The tea would be welcome, she decided, when she finally got back to the camp.  Noises of the nighttime did not scare her anymore but there was something amiss in this place, this time.  Dilora could not put her finger on exactly what was wrong.  A sense here, a sense there… No birds made nocturnal chirps, no animals snuffled in undergrowth for unwary insects and snakes.  Oh, Light – snakes!  The thought gave her pause.  She really did not like them.

 

Ever so slowly she advanced now, making slow but steady progress in the direction the noise had emanated from.  Every so often she would look at the sky to see her position by the stars; if the big constellations overhead looked different to her eye it was probably because she had shifted off course.  A few minor corrections and she would know her way back to camp.

 

As long as she could see the sky she was all right.  Should a sudden bank of clouds obscure the sky with its clinging nature, she did not know what she’d do.  In all probability she’d just run if anything happened, and hope for the best.  These were not large woods.

 

They seemed to go on forever though.  Onwards she stealthily advanced, looking around for anything that could be the source of the noise, be it human or animal.  Dilora tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and as she did so, her skin prickled with a sudden chill.  She had a feeling she was not alone.  She did not know this part of the woods.  They looked different, alien.  Panic began to rise in her, covering even the skein of common sense telling her it was just the night making her skittish.

 

This was different.

 

Her eyes darted to the left and to the right, craning her neck to look over her shoulder.  The comforting presence of her knife made her palm slick with the sweat of one relatively untrained but intent on using it, and her knuckles were white where they gripped the hilt hard.  The light level was too poor to rely on getting a decent shot with an arrow here.  She switched the knife to the other hand for a moment while she wiped her palm on her skirt, and put the blade back into her favoured grasp.  Sweat rolled between her shoulder blades and her breasts, yet the night was chill. 

 

I am not alone!

 

She whirled to see something she had truly not expected.

 

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