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Better roll up your sleeves, luv! *eg* (attn Taymist and all)

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Nynaeve paced in her office from one side to the other, her mind racing. She couldn't understand how people could be so foolish. So reckless with another person's life. If she only could, she would pummel them until they saw reason, regardless of the amount of pummeling that required. She suspected it would keep her occupied for a day or two, pending on her determination.


In her shopping in Tar Valon Nynaeve came across a married couple. The woman passed out and hurt her head from the fall. Nynaeve hurried to her and just when she was about to heal her, her husband pushed her away. She had to keep Damian at bay because he was well on his way to drawing out his sword and carving some new holes into the man. "Keep your filthy hands off of my wife, witch", he said. Nynaeve tried to talk some sense into the man. After all it was his wife and her life could very well be in danger if there was any internal bleeding. But the man wouldn't hear about it.


He carried her off, against Nynaeve's explicit warnings that it might worsen her state. But the man was blinded by his hate. Enough to toy with his wife's life. And so, Nynaeve returned to the tower, but she couldn't relax. She was literally climbing the walls, wondering if the woman was alright. She felt the sort of helplessness that ate her up from the inside. And there was nothing she could do to make it go away.


A knock on the door admitted Kiyissalle into the study. Nynaeve sighed. She completely forgot that she summoned the girl. But the quicker she dealt with her, the better it would be. "I trust you've settled in and that your current classes are going well." It was a rhetorical question and Nynaeve didn't pause to give Kiyi any time to form a response. "Some of the stable boys caught something. Well, I imagine one of them did and passed it on to the rest. As it were, they're recovering at the moment which leaves the stables poorly tended. Novices are sent there in shifts to keep it at least minimum conditions. After all, the horses need not suffer."


Nynaeve strolled to the window and peered out, trying her best not to think of the woman's face. "You will find in the stables what you need to clean. And the food should be there by now, next to the entrance. I will come to monitor you later today. I expect to find the place spotless and the horses well fed. If you have any doubt, feel free to ask Joseph, the only stable boy that didn't fall ill. He should be about. You are excused."


The only indication to Kiyissalle leaving was the sound of the door closing behind her. Nynaeve never turned to verify it. Her mind was already far away.







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"Bless the Light but being late would be just what I don't need today!" Kiyi muttered grimly to herself as she hurried through the halls towards Nynaeve Sedai's office.


The days were merging slowly into one long round of drudgery and were taking a real toll on her. Not that she was averse to making an effort but this kind of labour was something entirely new in her experience. Young ladies of noble birth did not scrub floors or pots and Kiyi could just imagine the look of horror on her mother's face if she ever found about it.


Esther, of course, had been a great support, doing more than her fair share when Kiyi faltered from sheer exhaustion. If she'd known for a moment it would be like this, she might have had second thoughts about going to the White Tower but she was there now and determined to do her best. The morning hadn't helped in that aim though. It had been as trying as any day could possibly be. Esther and Deanne had taken a dislike to each other from the outset and Kiyi was rapidly discovering that her role was to be one of peacekeeper between the two. Today had been no different, with both girls arguing almost from the moment they awoke. Her head was already thudding dully as she walked, trying to look sedate as the Sisters always did and failing miserably, too aware that she was overdue for her appointment with her mentor. 


Please don't send me to the MoN, she sent the thought upwards beseechingly as she arrived at the office door and knocked once before entering. No more pots, I couldn't face it.


Nynaeve was pacing the room as Kiyi stepped in and she looked momentarily bemused to see the Novice, seemingly unaware that the girl was slightly tardy. Kiyi smoothed down her dress nervously, curtsied respectfully and wondered why she'd been called. The Yellow didn't keep her in suspense, launching right into an explanation of the chore Kiyi was to undertake.


Stables? How wonderful, Kiyi's eyes lit up. She adored horses and had always spent much of her time in the stables and paddocks at home with them. Even with the work being set on this occasion, things were working out far better than she'd hoped for. Fresh air!! Maybe people to observe and a chance to explore a new part of the Tower Grounds a little if I'm careful. At least she's not making me look after those who are sick!!


Nynaeve Sedai had already turned her back and was staring out of the window. Since she'd obviously been dismissed, Kiyi curtsied again without having said one word during the entire encounter and almost bounced out of the room.





The stables were a wonder. She'd had no trouble finding them once she'd asked a passing Accepted for directions. The buildings were almost palatial, long and solidly constructed in stone with high vaulted rafters. Kiyi fell in love with the place as she stood breathing deeply, taking in the familiar smells of such a place. There was a deep silence inside, broken only by the occasional stamp of a hoof or swish of a tail as some insect bothered the occupants, and Kiyi moved with quiet steps down the central aisle between the stalls, peeking over the gates at a huge variety of mares and geldings.


These animals were mounts belonging to Aes Sedai and visitors to the Tower as well as those which had arrived with various Novices and it was obvious they were well looked after. Nothing was out of place. Kiyi could see the tack set carefully onto large racks at the far end of the stables and shelves neatly laid out with grooming implements. Whomever normally worked here took great pride in their job as everything was very organised as far as she could tell. There wasn't another person in sight at that moment, however, so she retraced her steps to the entrance, spying the bales of hay that had been left for feeding the horses. A little further investigation revealed several empty nets too, so Kiyi gathered those up and, shaking the hay out, began to fill them as she'd seen the stable lads do so often, the clouds of dust making her eyes itch.


She worked methodically, filling four nets at a time and then taking them to replace those in the stalls, petting the horses as she went and murmuring to them softly. The empty ones she gathered would then be filled and taken to the next set of stalls. It was hot, tiring work made worse by the stour clogging her throat and making her sneeze. Eventually though she had every last animal fed and watched the last one, a beautiful chestnut mare with a dark mane and tail, for a few minutes as it munched contentedly before she headed off to find a sturdy broom to sweep the flagstone floor.


Spotting a water barrel just outside the entrance, Kiyi moved in that direction, desperate for a drink to ease her throat and found a scoop conveniently hung over the rim. The water was cool and refreshing as it slid across her tongue and wet her parched lips. The area around the stables was still empty of people and the temptation to sit down in the cool air for a while was too much. Kiyi's back slid down the stones of the stable wall and she made herself comfortable before drinking the last of the water.


A few minutes rest won't hurt, just to get my breath back and let the dust settle. No-one's here to bother about it. Then I'll finish the cleaning.... It was the last thought she had as her eyes drooped slowly shut.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Nynaeve couldn't believe her eyes. She encountered many Novices in the past. Most of them were terrible at grunt work, but at least they exhibited a hint of effort. Sure, they had no multitasking capabilities, no coordination and most likely than not, not much of a brain, yet Nynaeve never had come across a lazy Novice before. And yet there she was, curled on the floor. Her own mintee, no less.


Nynaeve weaved a few air threads and picked up a bucket full of water. The stable boy who just happened to pass by froze as noticed her and quickly bowed. "Aes Sedai, that water is unclean. I used it to wash the stalls." Nynaeve's expression remained indifferent. "I know." The boy nodded and hurried off quickly, probably hoping he did not offend her by assuming there was something she was not aware of.


The bucket hovered over Kiyi's head. It turned upside down abruptly and the filthy water splashed all over her. She woke up with a start, her eyes frantic at first and then subsided to surprise and finally embarrassment. She knew she had done something wrong and that she had been officially caught.


Nynaeve clicked her tongue. "Stains on white clothing is just terrible, isn't it? It could take up to hours of scrubbing to get rid of them. If you manage al all." Nynaeve peered inside the stable. Everything was rather organized, but no where close to being perfect. "You obviously can't be left on your own. My fault for being too trusting. So you will continue your chores in the infirmary, where I can keep an eye on you. Or two. Meet me there in an hour."


Nynaeve turned to leave, but then froze midway. She turned her head, meeting Kiy's eyes. "And wash your hair. It looks terrible." With that said, Nynaeve turned her head away and headed back to the infirmary.





Meanie Mentor

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She was drowning! Kiyi came awake suddenly as the water hit her, gasping and spluttering, aware of a distinctly horrible smell and completely disoriented. When she finally got her breath back and the realisation sank in that she was in no immediate danger, her eyes fastened on her mentor with horror. Any words she might have tried to say, froze on her lips at Nynaeve Sedai’s acerbic tone and she contented herself with jumping to her feet, dripping water in a slowly growing puddle.


I didn’t mean to sleep so long. I only meant to rest. Kiyi’s thoughts whirled around her mind desperately as she listened to her mentor’s words, embarrassment and shame at her fault making her squirm uncomfortably. The discomfort was only to increase as she was told to report to the infirmary, the last place she wanted to be.


“Meet me there in an hour.”


She quickly dipped a curtsy keeping her eyes lowered at the latest order.


"And wash your hair. It looks terrible."


Watching Nynaeve Sedai walk away, the first spark of temper broke through Kiyi’s normally placid demeanour and her eyes flashed fire. Stalking back to her own room, she muttered to herself about unreasonable Aes Sedai, but yet kept it low enough that no passing Sister could hear. There was no point to landing herself in more trouble.


Resisting the urge to slam the door behind her, she stomped into her room coming face to face with Esther.


“Kiyi! What happened? You’re soaked!” her room mate exclaimed in surprise.


“Yes. I had noticed,” she sighed, her temper dissipating in the face her friend’s concern. “I don’t have time to explain just now. I’m in trouble and have to clean up and get to the infirmary.”


Esther nodded her understanding, curiousity still bright in her eyes. “I have to go myself. You can tell me tonight.”


With that parting statement, Kiyi was alone again and concentrated on stripping her wet clothes, washing her hair and then getting dried and dressed once more. There was no time to dry her hair properly, so she settled for toweling it roughly and tying the damp tendrils back off her face. Considering her reflection in the tiny mirror, she was dismayed at the picture she portrayed. At least I’m clean and no longer smell of horses.


Sighing, she put her dirty clothes into the soapy bowl of water she’d just used. They could soak for now to help remove the worst of the stains, she decided. Satisfied that she’d done all she could to make herself presentable, Kiyi set out for the infirmary with a hurried step.


On her arrival, she patted her hair and smoothed her dress one last time and knocked on the by now familiar door to the Yellow’s office, sending up a silent prayer as she did so that this would not be too trying an experience.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Nynaeve spared Kiyi a casual glance as she came into her office. She motioned her to sit down as she flipped through the pages of a most intriguing book about plants and their various healing capabilities. There was always more to learn when it concerned healing and Nynaeve enjoyed making such new discovering.


"I think I ought to remind you that child is just a title, not a state of being. The fact that I find myself obligated to monitor you is disgraceful, at best, Kiyi. You will never be fond of me and more likely end up hating me. But, there is one constant within my control - your obedience. You are required to follow what I tell you to and when I tell you. The sooner you accept this the less miserable your days here will be. And believe me when I say that making things harder than what they really are is one of my hidden talents."


Nynaeve's eyes fixed on Kiyi's. "I expect to have a hard working mintee. Being here is not supposed to be easy. Reaching the status of an Aes Sedai will certainly not be gained through afternoon naps. You have much to learn, Kiyi. Hopefully, it is not too late." Nynaeve decided her message got through. She sealed it off with a hard stare and leaned back in her chair. She tried to recall what on earth she was thinking about when she accepted to take on a mintee. Who would willingly step in that bear trap?


"Start your rounds in the patients' rooms. Make them as comfortable as possible. Make sure there's a jug of water in every room, be it occupied or not. When you're done with that, go to the kitchen and fetch each patient food. Even if they don't desire a lot of food or none at all, be sure to give each of them a big portion. Once they're done eating, remove the dishes and drop them at the kitchen. That would be all... for now." Nynaeve motioned Kiyi to the door and continued flipping through the pages.






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  • 2 weeks later...

Thoroughly chastened and more than a little crestfallen, Kiyi retreated to the patients' area rubbing delicately at her now throbbing temples. She accepted that becoming a Sister would be no easy task but she wondered now whether she had it within her to make it. She certainly hoped so. The disappointment of failure was not to be contemplated.


The smell hit her first as she entered the first person's room. It was faint and not unpleasant but clinical and one that brought the memories flooding back of pain, discomfort and enforced idleness. Shuddering slightly, Kiyi stiffened her spine and began her rounds. Every age group was represented, young and old hit alike by illness and debilitation. She watched surreptitiously when she came across any Aes Sedai issuing treatments, listening to the information being spoken of softly out of the patients' hearing.


The work itself was easy enough. Plumping pillows, providing glasses of water, straightening sheets, pulling curtains to block light that hurt sensitive eyes; she took care of each task, maintaining a polite but distant expression and trying not to speak too much beyond a greeting or to ask if she could do anything to help.


Satisfied that she'd done what she could, Kiyi refilled all of the water jugs one by one, wiping any drips from surfaces as she went before heading to the kitchen to collect and disperse substantial plates of food. Some people showed little or no interest in the food... others became more animated but she ensured that all of them received a large helping.


By the time she was finished and had found a solitary spot out of the way by a small window, Kiyi was positive she'd never get rid of the antiseptic smell that clung to her clothes and hair in a miasma. She cleared her throat softly several times in an effort to ease her dry throat which was worsened by the tension she felt in being there and took a moment to follow the healers and staff while they bustled quietly around completing their daily chores.


As she stood, waiting for everyone to finish eating, her thoughts turned back to a young child of about 7 or 8 who had been in one of the first rooms she'd visited. She wasn't sure what was wrong with the frail looking girl but she had gathered that whatever it was couldn't be Healed. What stuck in her mind most though, was the smile on the child's face. It had been so natural and bright and she realised slowly that the girl knew... knew that she was sick and wouldn't get better. Dismayed, Kiyi knew just as clearly that all of the adults around were convinced the child was unaware of the situation and she marvelled at the intrinsic bravery of the small character.


Realising that time was passing, Kiyi set out on her round of the rooms once more, collecting empty and untouched dishes alike and returning them to the kitchens. The girl was in the last room she visited and she stood looking down at the now sleeping child, whose lashes brushed pale cheeks, for long moments before reaching out and brushing a stray hair gently from her eyes. The Blessing of the Light on you little one, she thought sadly, hoping that her eventual passing would be an easy one.


Withdrawing in the direction of Nynaeve Sedai's office to report her task completed, a new determination settled deep in her bones. When other people faced greater hardship and heartache, how could she give anything less than her best in her own endeavours which were far simpler?

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