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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

New Shield for the Flame


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OOC: First RP post evar! It'll take a couple of posts for Toro to make it to the Tower Grounds. If anyone happens to be along the streets of Tar Valon and feels like bumping into him, please do! Just be gentle, he's shy. :) Otherwise, he'll go it alone. 16, male, blonde hair, blue eyes, still a little short at this point. Bio link is in the signature! And, if I mess something up, do let me know. I'm entirely new at this. ;D

 

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The sounds and smells of breakfast filled the inn's common room like water... a heavy, joyous cloud of heaven that slid a giddy grin across a young man's slightly dirty face as he entered with several other men from outside. Light... it had been almost a week since his last hearty cooked meal at a table, since the little stop two days outside Caemlyn.

 

There had been another chance at an inn near the crossing of that river... he couldn't remember the name now. The one that split off from the Erinin... he should remember. He'd been looking at maps nearly every day since he left home more than twenty days ago. Luan, that was the river. The inn, though... that name he wouldn't be able to remember off a map, and he tried not to think too hard on it besides. A foul business there the day before his travel group passed by... a merchant killed... had hurried them over the bridge and along the road no matter how good a table and song had sounded.

 

"Toromin! Come on, lad. Get over!"

 

The boy, for he really was more boy than man still in any eyes but his own, blinked and made way for the table his friend had beckoned him to.

 

"Turtle's fallen asleep on his feet," another companion laughed, "or maybe he's missin' his momma, so far from home." That one was not a friend, nor was his buddy, now elbowing the laughing man in the ribs and joining in the fun making.

 

Toromin's cheeks burned. Where that nickname had come from, he hadn't the slightest idea, but merely by the person it came from, he did not like it. Borhin, one of a group of four merchant's guards, and the largest and loudest among them... and Deck, his quieter but no less imposing and uncouth companion.

 

"Hey, at least he knows who his momma is, Bor," the man sitting beside the boy bantered, lifting a mug of hot spiced wine and enjoying a long swallow. Kurtam was not the most muscular of the merchant's guards, but he was a much more likeable fellow than any of the others. He was the only friend Toromin had now, and soon even he would be lost as the merchant train and boy parted ways once they reached the big city, Tar Valon.

 

The larger fellow scoffed angrily and stood to his feet, but Kurtam merely shook his head, not quite meeting the man's gaze. "Don't you remember leaving home the first time? It's a big, wide world out there waiting for him."

 

Kurtam was smiling slightly to himself, but Borhin landed back in his seat with a thud, and a sarcastic grin that suggested he knew he'd traded words with the other man far too many times to try to rile him into a fight. "Waiting to chew him up... and spit him out," he growled, lifting a piece of meat and biting hard into it.

 

Toromin took his seat beside his friend and tried to still the unfamiliar emotions roiling through him. How could people behave like that, speak like that, treat people like that? He had always been raised to respect others. Teasing and name calling were quite frowned upon in his family, and fights were unheard of. No fewer than four times on this trip had he seen scuffles break out between men in various merchant trains. Fights! Is this what the world was really like? Is this what he had to look forward to in his new life? What he had chosen?

 

<hr>

 

"Don't let him get to you, piper," Kurtam mumbled lightly over a hot roll. Another nickname... but Kurtam was friendly, so this one wasn't so bad, even if it gave the slight impression of being called a little boy.

 

"Thanks, Kurt." Toromin felt the sawdust under his shoes as he looked around the room, taking it all in with a few glances... wooden chairs and tables, a different color wood from the kind he most often saw at home; stone and mortar walls, with two fireplaces built into the northwest side, glowing aflame in an attempt to make everyone forget about the cold outside. Just as his eyes turned to the archway leading to the kitchens, a pretty young woman not much older than he walked out with a plate and mug and a smile, looking at him with amusement out of the corner of her eye as she placed the food and drink in front of him and bustled away. "Thank you," he murmured, leaning back shyly and feeling his cheeks flush again.

 

"Eat quick," the man beside him nodded for effect, "Jarond's eager to get into the city."

 

The merchant Kurtam was working for and Toromin traveling with hadn't joined them in the common room, he noticed, taking two large bites and trying to chew them both at once. Perhaps he had taken some persuasion even to stop where they did. Alindaer was one of the small villages outside Tar Valon. They were almost there. A short ride to the Alindaer bridge spanning the west fork of the Erinin, an hour crossing it, and they'd be inside the Shining Walls. Light, a bridge two miles from end to end didn't even sound possible, but he was going to see it, as soon as they were done and gone.

 

Eat quickly he did, filled with excitement at the nearness of his destination, and not a small measure of fear, as well. Fear of the unknown, of a future that seemed with each passing day to become less and less likely to be the stuff of stories he had envisioned. A Warder of the White Tower, he reminded himself, easing the fear to make way for excitement. It wasn't guaranteed, but he knew. He was determined. If they sent him away, said he wasn't worthy... well... he would just have to park himself at the gates and refuse to leave until they changed their minds, carried him away, or he died of starvation. He was determined.

 

He had been traveling with Jarond and his guards since leaving Whitebridge more than two weeks hence, his first time away from home that he could remember, but he had been learning about the Warders and the White Tower for months in preparation for this day. Well, not entirely in preparation for actually becoming a Warder, that had been a more recent decision. But he knew it was his destiny, right down to his bones. The world needed the Aes Sedai, but there were those who would seek to harm them, to destroy them. He would be there to help protect them, so they could help everyone else.

 

<hr>

 

They were back on the wagons and horses and coming up on the bridge to the city before Toromin knew it, and he was secretly disappointed that he hadn't seen the pretty girl at the inn again. He hadn't known many girls back home. He wondered if he would be able to meet girls while training to be a Warder...

 

All other thoughts were swept away like dust over a threshold as the bridge and city came into view. He had known it was supposed to be white, but... Light, the whole city shone like a great, glittering pearl or opal. The walls concealed much, but the bridge gleamed, too, with shimmering stone lacework, and the Tower... the White Tower itself arrested the boy's gaze with an iron grip as it stabbed into the sky with authority and presence.

 

He wasn't worthy. He knew it now. He didn't belong here. Not a simple boy from Whitebridge. This was a city for kings and sages, poets and-- A loud crack and shouted curse broke the spell that had been cast on him, and Toromin turned back to see what had caused it. A wagon had lost its wheel a short distance behind them, and possibly broken an axle. He felt a twinge of guilt at his own relief that it had not happened in front of them, to delay their crossing of the bridge.

 

The bridge guards gave them little trouble. Jardon apparently even knew the captain by name. The crossing itself gave him plenty of time to gawk and stare at the walls and Tower, as well as the sundry people and wagons of every shape and hue making way across the bridge in one direction or the other. They were three quarters of the way across before he had the nerve to try to look down over the side of the bridge. Riverboats and fishing vessels rode the currents beneath him. Far beneath him. His eyes darted back up to the city and he was not sorely tempted to look down again.

 

<hr>

 

Once they were through the gate into the city itself, the team moved off to the side and Toromin dropped to the ground, reaching back up to take down his pack. Fear and excitement, excitement and fear. He tried to keep them under control, but he knew his knees were shaking.

 

"Toro," Kurtam grasped his forearm with a reassuring grin, "may you find what you're looking for. You'll be alright here. The Aes Sedai and their army of guards make sure not a thief or cutpurse skulks the city, much less anything worse." Toromin nodded appreciatively, but the older man continued before he could think of anything to say in response, "If it doesn't work out, we're heading on to Maradon and Bandar Eban if you want to try to catch us up."

 

Toromin grinned and shook his head, "Thanks, Kurt. For being a friend." It felt good to have a backup plan, but he was sure he wouldn't need it. Mostly sure.

 

"Kurtam!" Deck hollered from the saddle as the team lurched back into motion, and he clapped the boy on the shoulder with a "See you" before mounting back on his own horse and joining the pack.

 

Toromin stood staring after them for a long moment. It was over far too quickly. Couldn't there have been a longer good-bye? A day, perhaps, or even an hour? He was alone now. Home may as well be on the other side of the world. He shaded his eyes from the glare reflected off the walls and ground and roofs. The city was going to take some getting used to. If that was even possible.

 

The pale stone ground felt full of energy under his feet with the rumblings of wheels and feet and hooves. It would probably take another hour to get to the Tower, but at least he couldn't get lost on the way.  It must be visible from every street and alleyway.

 

Trepidation kept his pace slow, but determination kept his feet moving. A Warder, for the Aes Sedai. Light, what had he gotten himself into?

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Spring had descended upon Tar Valon in full force and glory. The sky was a brilliant blue and every tree and bush held hints of flowers to come. After a frigid winter and the early spring rains Kabria was eager to leave the confines of the Tower and her tiny room. It was much larger than the one she’d had as a novice, and this one was all her own, but it was a far cry from even the small cubby she had lived in at the Inn.

 

Not even bothering to look in the mirror Kabria flung her cloak around her shoulders and set out. It did not matter if she brushed her red tipped golden locks until they shown, or washed her face a dozen times; the other girls would still shy away from her and the boys would still stare. The tattoo’s that graced her hands and much of the rest of her, were a symbol of her past and a message about her future, it was too bad that people often saw them as something else. Even after 6 years in the tower Kabria still had no friends; too many times she had tried and failed miserably. All the other girls wanted nothing to do with the “freak” and the boys only saw her as beautiful and exotic. Suppressing a sigh Kabria reached into her belt pouch and pulled out a small leather bound book to read while she walked. It was an action that had caused several Brown Sister to take interest, but Kabria avoid there clutches as much as she was able. She loved to read, but she did not think that the Brown Ajah was her path.

 

Soon enough she found herself outside in the yards, and she was greeted by the sounds of practice lathes and good natured shouts. It was a din of noise that could be heard at almost any hour. The warders worked their trainee’s hard and expected nothing less than perfection. The sweaty exhausted faces she saw often made her glad she had chosen the path she had , but like most things, when she was waist deep in dirty dishes her thoughts leaned more the other direction. Suddenly a day in the sun with a sword seemed like a luxury.

 

With the yards already bustling with activity Kabria knew she would be unable to find a quiet place among the trees, but it was too nice a day to return to her rooms. She stared towards the front gate of the Tower and tilted her head. Most often she avoided Tar Valon, the crowds and the noise usually made her long for the peace of the sea. Given the choice of her rooms and the noise, well, the city won hands down. Tucking her book back into the safety of her belt pouch Kabria took a deep breath and headed for the gates.

 

************** *********

 

Tar Valon was much as she remembered, crowed and loud beyond belief. Here, her banded skirts did not protect her from being jostled about as people rushed by. Her dark tanned face began to form a scowl as the third woman almost took her from her feet. Kabria was beginning to think they were doing it on purpose. She turned to tell a woman in a dark silk dress, divided for riding, just what she thought, when all of a sudden the wind was knocked from out of her and she landed squarely on her bum.

 

Blinking to clear the stars from her eyes, Kabria’s blue eyes glared, searching for the cause of her fall. She did not care if it meant a punishment or not, she was going to pound whoever had caused this.

 

Kabria’s ice blue augers met eyes as blue as the sea and the fairly growled as the young man helped her to her feet.

 

 

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Everything happened so fast...

 

Blinking in shock, Toromin blurted out a stunned "Oh my gosh...", trying to help the woman back to her feet while glancing behind him to see who might have shoved him so harshly.  When he turned back to apologize, his eyes met his victim's, and words escaped him like swallows frightened into flight.

 

Numerous things flew through across his mind in an instant. My apologies, miss... Are you alright?... Can I help you in any way?... Did you drop anything?... I hope I didn't hurt you... Can I make it up to you?... I wonder what it would be like to kiss you...

 

The unexpected last thought brought a flush to his cheeks, but still nothing made it as far as his lips. He took in her face, her skin, her strange hair, and a little of her tattoos without looking away from her eyes, until he realized he was looking into a lady's eyes. Fierce eyes, focused on him with fiery indignation.

 

He turned his face down with an abashed grimace, hoping it looked like an apologetic smile, and for the first time saw the multi-hued hem of her dress. Wait... he knew what that was... he had read about it a number of times... but that means...

 

His head jerked up again in shock, his mouth still trying to find his tongue. An Accepted?

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Kabria brushed in vain at her now brown skirts, all the while never taking her eyes from the boys face. In truth, she found herself unable to look away from his eyes. The anger that had boiled with in her was fading quickly and she had to struggle hard to hang on.

 

She clung to the last scraps of anger as tightly as she could, if the anger faded..

 

“Light man! Use your eyes, I am a woman not a door mat” As soon as the words left her lips Kabria’s faced flushed and she prayed to the light that the boy took it as anger.

With her concentration broken the last of the anger slipped through her fingers and Kabria found herself in a situation she’d never been in before. Never in her life had she ever spoken to a man unless it was to call him down. The light flush began to grow a deep crimson and she finally broke her gaze. Her mind raced trying to pull forth anything to say, but the fall had left her thoughts fuzzy, or maybe it was the boy. Light why could she not look away from those eyes!

 

It may have only been moments, but those moments felt like an eternity as they stretched on. The silence, odd she should thing of it as silence since the city roared around them, was too much to bear so she blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “ Let’s get out of the street before we both get trampled again.” Kabria tried to make her voice rough, but even to her own ears it seemed to twinkle. Regaining some small part of her normal self she grabbed the boys hand and pulled him along, looking over her shoulder as if to make sure he followed. what was it about those eyes? “Perhaps by the time we are out of the street you will find your tongue, and be able to explain why you tried to run me down.”

 

It was apparent by the tremble when her hand clasped his that he was no more used to this kind of interaction than she was. Small a thing as that may be Kabria felt glad it was not just her that had issues with communication.

 

She led them to the mouth of a narrow alley, crammed between a stable and a seamstress shop. She stepped just inside pulling him behind her. In the confines of the alley it noise was a bit less and for the first time she took a good look at the man who had knocked her down.

 

He was perhaps a few years younger than her, but a little taller with a fairly average build. There was really nothing remarkable about him, but Kabria felt an unfamiliar tingle as she stared. “Are you just going to stand and gape at me? Or would you care to grace me with your name?” Kabria planted her fists on her hips and tried to adopt a look that demanded an answer.

 

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The young man closed his gaping mouth and unconsciously took a step back from the woman's angry glare. "Toromin Doanshar... from Whitebridge." Light, she didn't need to know that... wouldn't care about it. Look at that hair... it was so strange. And the tattoos... he'd never seen a woman with tattoos before, only men. And usually not the sort of men his parents would want him talking to. "I'm..." here to become a Warder? No... "I'm awfully sorry, miss..." Accepted? Was there a title for that? An honorific? He knew there was one for an Aes Sedai, but he didn't remember reading about one for Accepted, or for Novices. Or Warders, now that he thought about it. 'Miss' would have to do for now. "Some... somebody pushed me. I didn't mean to knock you down."

 

He shifted slightly on his feet as he spoke, wishing to be somewhere else. Her face had turned red back there. She looked furious. She was probably nearly ready to hit him! Or use the Power on him... He tried to take another step back at the frightening thought, but found that his heel was against the seamstress shop's wall. He blinked in surprise and, after the briefest of instants, mentally kicked himself for being five kinds of idiot.

 

Finally remembering himself, he dipped a very polite and modest bow at the waist, trying to speak before she could respond as he would expect to the way he had been behaving. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Accepted." It was hard to play the proper non-country-oaf under that gaze. He hadn't had much opportunity to practice. "I... I am very sorry for knocking you over. It was entirely my fault, or the person behind me. It was very poor timing. I should have been able to catch myself, but you were right there..." Light, now he was blubbering.

 

He tried to cover it up. "Are you hurt?" He hoped she wouldn't stay angry with him. He was very unaccustomed to anyone being angry with him.

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Before she could stop herself a small laugh escaped her lips. How long had it been since she was able to smile, let alone laugh? A clumsy fool her blue eyed man may be, but his innocence had made her smile.

 

With a hand only slightly unsteady she extended it towards her witty man. “I am fine and I am Kabria Delondre, Accepted of the White Tower.” Giving herself such a title made her face flush, but she struggled to hold her composure. “ I do not venture much into this city, but even I can tell you are from off. What are you doing here?” her hand still hung in mid air, un-grasped. Maybe where he was from women only curtsied, or maybe they were quiet and soft spoken. Perhaps they were even coy and shy. Surely all the women he had ever met were everything she was not.

 

For not the first time in her life she cursed her mother for abandoning her before she was old enough to learn womanly ways. Again the silence weighed down on them, but this time there were no words for Kabria to say. She’d been as polite as she had know how to be and still nothing.  It was more obvious to her than ever that her people skills were lacking. With one last look into those beautiful eyes she turned to go. If he had nothing to say she surely would not forced him. Just as her eyes blinked to adjust to the light she felt a, now familiar hand grip hers. With blue eyes glowing in the afternoon light she turned back to her assailant.

 

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"Wait..." Her hand felt warm and soft in his, he thought, though he tried not to get any more distracted. "Kabria." He'd never heard a name quite like that before. I wonder where she's from. "I'm sorry. I've been quite rude. I must have gotten lost in..." your eyes? "thought." He shifted the light pack on his back before it could fall down his arm. "I apologize. I'm on my way to the Tower, actually, but I don't have to get there any time soon." Truly, nobody even knew he was coming. He could even wait for days, if the silver pennies in his coin pouch were enough to hold out. He didn't have any idea what things cost here in Tar Valon, though it was sure to be more than at home.

 

She's probably irritated with me. Light, she probably doesn't even like me. All I've done is knock her over and make her mad. And she's an Accepted, and I'm nothing! He knew she was in charge of the situation, and of herself. Women always were when it came down to it, and Aes Sedai -- or those training to be -- more than any others. He didn't want to stop talking to her, though, if he could help it. "Is there a place where we could talk a little? If you want to, that is. Unless there's somewhere else you have to be."

 

He kicked himself inside again, though not showing it on his face. She probably wouldn't want to talk, or do anything besides change her dirtied clothes, which were all his fault. His eyes turned a little sad with the disappointment of what he imagined to be the most likely outcome of his first meeting in Tar Valon. Not really an enemy, but probably not a friend.

 

He had a bad habit of second guessing people, though fortunately for him, he was usually wrong.

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Kabria’s heart leaped into her throat and her faced turned an even deeper shade of red. When she turned back to Toro she found herself unable to meet his gaze.

The beautiful eyes that had held her captive only moments before now repelled her; and she had to settle for looking just over his head and hoping that he did not notice.

 

“I think I know a place that shouldn’t be too crowded this time of day…” Kabria smiled, something so rare that it came as a shock even to her. Why him? Why now? What was this new emotion? Kabria’s mind raced as she led him through the crowd.

If she had even half a brain she would say her goodbyes and make her way back to the Tower. If she’d had a brain at all she would have left after their first words.

She surely sent every other man packing who’d tried to speak with her.

 

As the couple pressed through the throng of people Kabria gripped Toromin’s hand tighter. It was almost as if she did not want to let him get away, a silly thought. Finally she stopped in front of The Golden Knot, an Inn she had stopped at so many years ago upon her arrival in Tar Valon.

With a regretful sigh she released his hand as she pushed open the door.

 

The smell of baking bread, tinged with something sharp made Kabria breath deep. It had been years since she had been back to the Knot, but one memory of the Inn was still very clear. They had the best honeycakes in the entire city, if not the world. Kabria turned to Toro with a light in her eyes. “I don’t know what you’ve had to eat on your journey, but the drivel they feed us in the tower can’t compare to here. Let’s get a table.”

Thrilled by the prospect of a decent meal, and even more so by the company Kabria did not even bother waiting to be greeted by the Inn keeper; Her banded hem, dirty as it was, assured them prompt service.

 

Once they were seated and orders had been given, silence set in. Suddenly the shock of running off to an Inn with a stranger settled on her, and Kabria busied herself with staring at her hands.

 

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A grin sprouted across Toromin's face, at Kabria's smile and at the fresh smell of bread. He could feel his stomach making extra room at that smell, and his heart at that smile. He tried not to show his surprise on his face at her mention of "drivel" at the Tower. Surely she wasn't suggesting that the White Tower was anything less than the greatest, most magnificent and mysterious place in the world! It just wouldn't make any sense. For certain, it was... it had to be.

 

It would be impolite to acknowledge the comment, of course, so he certainly didn't. "Mostly hard bread and dried meat at little campfires along the road... but this place smells wonderful." He looked around and took a deep intoxicating breath, and despite the quick breakfast he'd hurried through hardly two hours before, his stomach rumbled, causing his eyes to take on a slight look of embarassment that didn't dent his grin. He tried not to laugh, but a little one squeezed its way out anyway.

 

He took a quick inventory of his feelings, and most of them were quite unfamiliar to him. "I still feel like I've been rude to you somehow... missed some sort of polite custom you're supposed to do when you meet someone new, but I can't figure out what." That was probably more matter-of-fact than he should have been, but he felt she should know he was trying to be polite, even if he knew he was failing miserably. A quick subject change should help mitigate his shame, though. "How long have you been at the White Tower?" A fair amount of respect and awe could be heard in his mention of the Tower. The esteem he held for the Tower and the Aes Sedai was quite high, indeed.

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Kabria could not help but laugh, not only at his innocence, but her own. They were fumbling blind in the dark, and both taking a fair stab at embarrassing the other. Suddenly the entire situation was too much and Kabria burst out with a laugh; a raucous laugh touched with a musical chime.

 

Through her tears of joy Kabria saw Toro’s shame and tried to calm her laughter. It was not easy, and a few giggles still escaped as she spoke. “I am sorry Toro, I was not laughing at you.” Now the she had started she was unsure how it finish. As quick as that her laughter died and the awkward feelings crept back in. “I am just so bad at human interaction; I have been at the Tower for 5 years and do you know how many friends I have?” She reached into her belt pouch and pulled out her book. “Only 3, and they are all small, leather ,and filled with writing.” Kabria hardly noticed the extra flush to her cheeks as she continued to spill her guts to a stranger. “It is not that I don’t want friends, its just that most people are scared of me…that or they want..” Kabria coughed and slipped her book back into her belt pouch. “I should have walloped you for knocking me in the dirt, and yet somehow here we are. I am hoping I can call you friend.” Perhaps more?

 

She could not be for sure, but Kabria thought that was the longest speech she had ever made to a person, except when giving a report to an Aes Sedai. 

 

 

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Toromin looked surprised for a moment. No friends at all? I wasn't the most popular kid around back home, but I did have friends. His face turned what he thought was formal and dignified. "Kabria, I would be honored to be your friend. As long as I don't make your other three jealous." He grinned and held out his hand to shake hers, thinking for a moment on how much they might see of each other in the future, and realizing he hadn't even told her yet what it was he was in Tar Valon for.

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A sudden flash in Toromin’s eye told Kabria that perhaps she had been too honest, but it was too late to back track now. “I gladly accept your offer, I am sure my other friends won’t mind” It was all easier if you could make it a joke.

 

They ate much of the rest of their meal in silence, but every so often one or the other of them would look up and grin. Kabria did not think she could have found a better person for her first friend.

 

As they stepped back out into the street Kabria gasped. The whole city was doused in red and the sun was sinking quickly below the horizon. ”Light!” she breathed. With a harried look Kabria grabbed Toro’s hand and began pulling him along with her as they fought their way through the dwindling crowds. How had time flown so quickly?

 

Looking over her shoulder she urged Toro to move faster. “Hurry! If I am late I will likely walk tender tomorrow! Come on burn you!” She did not care who she bumped as they ran. She’d spent far to much time under the slipper to care.

 

As the Tower Gates loomed over head Kabria released Toro’s hand and took a step away. Eyeing her dirty dress and wind blown hair a few of the Tower Guards smirked and a few even had the gall to wink at Toromin! Just inside the gates Kabria pulled Toro off the path a bit. “I have to hurry, but I wanted to say goodbye” Even as she spoke she looked around warily on the Mistress of Noivces. Though it was not likely she would be out searching the grounds for misbehaving Accepted. “I had a nice time with you and I hope to see you again soon” Without warning Kabria leaned in and brushed his lips with a kiss. Her face turned a deep scarlet and she rushed off without another word. The hooting of a few guards following her the whole way.

 

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(OOC - hope you don't mind me butting in!  I don't think the bio is up anywhere proper, but Mari is about 5'7", reddish-brown hair (long), which she keeps pulled back.  Trousers and blouse sort, seeing how she's a Warder sort!)

 

Standing outside the Tower Gates, Mariasha stared off into the streets - it was always nice to watch people from all lands mingling.  North or West, East or South, all came to Tar Valon on business, and it made for a nice distraction... one doesn't expect to lose their Sister, but though it had been some time since Taeadra Sedai had vanished from the Tower and from her mind, she still found herself awash with sadness and an urge for revenge.. but on what?  No, not worth thinking about, not on such a nice morning with such a nice meal...

 

She sighed to herself and adjusted one of the daggers poking herself in the side, when an Accepted and a young man came dashing up to the gate.  "Light!", she thought to herself in wry amusement, "That girl looks like she's been rolling in the mud... I wonder if she even has permission to be out, as oddly as she is acting... though that could be for the boy with her."  Mari watched them talk for a moment, but before she could consider stepping out of her corner on the side of the gates, the Accepted had already dashed through, leaving a confused young man staring out after her.

 

Shrugging to herself, Mariasha walked up behind the young man, a bemused smile on her face.  "I'm guessing you're either very new to this town, or either very foolish - it's not a good idea to be seen talking to women who are training in the White Tower.  If that sort of thing gets back to the Mistress of Novices, she's as likely to track you down for a few licks as she is to give them to that girlchild as well."

 

The young man jumped in surprise, so intent he was in staring through the gate at the other woman's fleeing figure.  "Sorry to scare you," she chuckled, "I just don't like seeing people make fools of themselves... what brings you out this way?"

 

 

~*~*~

Mariasha Valnar

Path of Water

Missing her Missing Aes Sedai

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Toromin stared after the fleeting Accepted with a look of wonder on his face. She kissed me. Me! But we've just met... It isn't proper, but... I think I could get used to it. He blushed momentarily.

 

At the Tower Guard's address, the young man straightened with a surprised jerk, wondering if he should give some sort of salute, but not knowing any. All he could think was Don't stare, and don't babble. "Toromin Doanshar..." Wait, she didn't ask my name. "Sorry..." I didn't actually need to apologize. Now I'm babbling! Come on, I prepared for this!

 

He took a deep breath. "My name is Toromin Doanshar. I've studied the Aes Sedai and learned about their place in the world. I believe we would be much worse off without them, but I know there are people... and non-people... trying to hurt them." Where was I going with this again? Now I can't remember the rest... well, nothing for it, then. "I've come to Tar Valon to become a Warder, to protect the Aes Sedai from their enemies, and the enemies of the Light."

 

This was the moment of truth. He would be rejected, and crushed, or his life would be changed forever. If he was actually sent away, he wasn't so sure anymore just how well he could stand his ground as he'd planned. These Tower Guards looked quite serious, and dangerous, but he was determined, and it shown in his eyes more than the intimidation.

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Mariasha's smile turned into a wide grin as the flustered young man before her spoke, "My name is Toromin Doanshar. I've studied the Aes Sedai and learned about their place in the world. I believe we would be much worse off without them, but I know there are people... and non-people... trying to hurt them." Where was I going with this again? Now I can't remember the rest... well, nothing for it, then. "I've come to Tar Valon to become a Warder, to protect the Aes Sedai from their enemies, and the enemies of the Light.".

 

She stretched her arms over her head for a moment before crossing them against her chest, "So then, new to town, and just a random encounter on the way here, it was."  She tapped her lip and eyed the young man mock-sternly, "I'll say my initial word of warning should be sufficient for now - careful when it comes to the girls in training in the Tower... but I won't report that little kiss I saw to either the Mistress of Novices or the Mistress of Trainees."  The relief on his face was palpable, though his eyes widened a fraction at mention of a yet another person who might have a switch with his name on it for a simple kiss!

 

Mariasha continued, "Now, if you want, I can take you to Thera, the Mistress of Trainees, and she can get you set up for the evening... though I'd recommend getting the blushing in line."  She flashed a wicked smile, "I'm sure the girl was pretty, but Thera is pretty good at sniffing out reasons to take a switch to those in her care!  She is a firm believer in rules, and keeping people in line."  She winked, and bit down a giggle.  "Really," Mariasha thought to herself, "I'm getting a bit too old to giggle at every little thing!!"

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Toromin's wide eyes conveyed concern for his reputation and the Accepted's. Though the Guard's wink and grin suggested they weren't in immediate trouble, the warnings were still there. "Oh, no, ma'am. It was quite innocent. We bumped into each other on the street, literally, and she showed me to the Tower here." He paused to think for the briefest of instants. "I'm sure the... display of affection was merely... an accidental emotional outburst."

 

He clamped his mouth shut before he could say anything about "girls". He realized he hadn't even considered the idea that there could be female Tower Guards, or possibly even female Warders! The books he had read said they were traditionally male, but that in no way inhibited the possibility of exceptions. Women could certainly be as dangerous, he noted, with a glance at her weapons.

 

He was suddenly swept over with a surprised feeling of... it could only be called relief. She hadn't laughed at him and sent him running back into the streets! Not yet, anyway. Perhaps the Mistress of Trainees would... (Thera... he tried to commit the name to memory)... but at least he had his foot in the door.

 

He bowed and tried to still his emotions, relaxing his facial muscles. "Thank you, ma'am." He cut short the realization that she hadn't given her name yet. Perhaps that's the way things were here. "It would be my honor to see the Mistress of Trainees."

 

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"Thank you, ma'am." He cut short the realization that she hadn't given her name yet. Perhaps that's the way things were here. "It would be my honor to see the Mistress of Trainees.", young Toromin said, looking quite formal.

 

Mariasha suppressed another grin - had she ever been this formal with the Tower Gaurds and Warders when she was in training?  "T'would by my honor, young Toromin, to lead you to Thera."  She gave a half-bow and gestured for him to follow.

 

"I probably should introduce myself," she started, maneuvering around a handful of petitioners heading away from the Tower, "My name is Mariasha, Mariasha Gaidin to you if anyone is looking."  She nodded to another passing Warder before continuing, "and you might have noticed, if you weren't staring too hard at your friend the Accepted that I too am a woman."  She smiled to take any possible sting out of the teasing, "Although there are more men than women training here, there are quite a few of us female sorts who chose this path for our lives.  My teacher was a woman, and probably one of the toughest Warders there ever was around these parts.  Not to say that she was especially strong, but she knew what she was about."  Her right hand slid momentarily to caress the scabbard hanging on that side, unaware of the sadness that clouded her face.

 

All too soon they were in front of Thera's door.  Mariasha knocked and turned to Toro while waiting for Thera to answer, "If you have any questions or need someone to vent at - training is hard, and sometimes we all need someone to talk to, feel free to come pester me, okay?  And don't worry - everything should be fine."  She winked, and the door opened. Mariasha saluted Thera, fist to heart, and gestured towards Toromin, "Hey Thera, you've got some fresh meat.  Gentle on him, I think he's had an odd day."

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