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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Eqwina

Climbing Higher :Trainee Mountain Climbing Class (attn all that signed up)

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Laying out her gear on the bed Thera methodically went over her mental check list. She was always careful when taking trainees out on a survival class, but this trip was even more crucial. Mistakes climbing a mountain were far different than mistakes that were made when trying to pick a camp site, or light a fire. Satisfied that she had everything she would need she began packing her saddle bags and a wicker panniers she’d had brought to the small house she and Jasine shared. The trainees were in charge of packing their own belongings, gear, and food.

 

Since many of them were newer recruits she compiled a complete list of everything they would need, except the most obvious. She was willing to teach, but she would not lead them by the hand. Carrying both wicker panniers outside she slung them over the back of the first pack horse, giving him a small pat and piece of carrot as a reward. The pack horses often worked harder than the mounts and received far less care, a thing Thera never let happen when she was around. Ducking back in to fetch her sword and bundles she leaned over Jasine’s shoulder to give him a kiss. He was so engrossed in his work that she had to nip at his ear before he paused long enough to say goodbye. Near an hour later Thera was straightening her coat and leading both horses to the trainee stables. She had expected to be delayed this morning, it was also so when she left the Tower for any length of time, and had planned for extra time. So it was that she was the first to arrive.

 

Letting the horse’s reins hang she leaned back against the stable wall and pulled out a honing stone, running it slowly across the edge of her dagger. A little while longer and her students should begin arriving. They had been informed that they would be on time, or they would be left behind. If they could not follow simple orders to arrive on time she would not risk them ignoring her orders on a cliff face.

 

OOC: This class with take more than a week ICly. We are riding East to Kinslayers Dagger, with a few stops for instructions and ‘practice’ along the way.

 

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It had been a week since Llewelyn had seen the poster clipped on one of the barrack's walls for all to see announcing that Thera, the Mistress of Trainees, would be giving a mountain survival lesson to all those who wanted. Of course, he had signed up immediately for it would be an exciting experience he was sure to remember his whole life.

On the one hand, it would enable him to finally meet with the Mistress of Trainees instead of facing the grim Dragar. On the other hand, Llewelyn did not know much about trekking in the mountains and it would be a first for him, since he had never been allowed to come near to the only chain of mountains on the Saldaean territory that formed the northern borderland with the Blight.

 

And because of his lack of knowledge he had met some difficulties in finding the material and equipement that was listed on the poster. The boy had no trouble buying a solid rope but he had no clue about some of the gears required and spent some time wandering the trading streets of Tar Valon, often at the neglect of his training in order to search for it.  Fortunately, he had finally met a kind stranger with knowledge of that matter, who lead him to the right store and showed him the right gears to buy.

 

Llewelyn had packed everything the eve of the early departure, checking numerous times that he hadn't forgotten anything, but he was so nervous he couldn't sleep quite well that night. At daybreak, he wasn't as fresh as he usually was, but he couldn't stand still. He made sure Edana and Elyan were already up - they were supposed to come along - before leaving the barracks, and arrived early at the meeting point even though he knew he would have to wait for the others. But a ginger haired woman was already there leaning on the stables' door, honing a blade in between two pack horses. The Mistress of Trainees seemed a fierce woman in Llewelyn's eyes, like most of the women around the yards.

 

The boy approached Thera and bid her a good day. Intimidated, he didn't say any more and laid his bulged leather bag on the grass and sat next to it, looking intently at his feet and waiting patiently for the other trainees to show up.

 

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Edana sat on the ground by her trunk, nearly humming to herself as she packed for this trip. She had to admit she was looking forward to it. She hadn't been away from Tar Valon since she'd arrived, so it was a welcome breath of air she greatly appreciated. Sure, she had to focus on the training and fight like mad not to give away her feelings for Sandre, but it was a small price to pay. The moon shone through the window and she sighed as she fastened the clasps on her packs. She packed the night before to allow her time to get some rest before leaving in the morning. It also ensured she didn't forget something. Her sense of humor, especially...

 

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

Edana stared at the ceiling a few moments longer, hearing Llewelyn rustling around. She wished for a few more minutes of rest, though she'd been awake for a while. She doubted "rest" was on the top of Mistress Thera's plan for this little trip. The thought made her smile as she rolled out of bed, not bothering to climb down. She landed easily on her feet and stretched, grinning at Elyan across the room. "Come on, you'll be late!"

 

She doubted anything of the kind, but it was enough to poke at him with for the moment. She grabbed her clothes and retreated to the bath house, giving herself a quick morning scrub before dressing and returning to the room. She dropped her nightclothes in her trunk and slung her packs over her shoulder, making her way out to the stables to meet the others. She smiled at the deceptively relaxed posture of the Mistress of Trainees. It was a smile that was still on her lips as she waved to one of the stableboys who headed inside for her horse. "Good morning, Mistress Thera!"

 

~Edana

 

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Elyan sat on his bed still trying to organize everything and fit it into his pack so that he would have access to any item at a moment’s notice, he had been up before the others, but he had never owned so much stuff, and getting it all situated just right proved a more daunting task than he had anticipated. He had spent any available free time in the last few days searching the city for anything he might need for this trip. He knew that Thera was trying to test them on their ability to be prepared, because she had provided only an incomplete list of what they would need. He looked over the items laid out on his bed one final time, he wasn’t sure if he would have a moment to grab anything if he realized that he had forgotten to purchase something, but he wanted to be confident in his equipment selection. If it was lacking, he wanted to know before the instance came when he might need a forgotten item and before their belongings went through an inspection, which Thera would most likely require.

 

He nodded and began placing each item inside his pack. He wrapped his bowl, pot, and other cooking utensils inside his bed roll so that would not make noise when he moved and placed the bundle in the main compartment along with his extra clothes, insulated leather gloves, enough waterproof material to construct a small tent, heavy coat, and cloak all things he would need if the shopkeeper in town had been right about the cold mountain air. Placing in the various outside compartments his extra bow strings, trap lines, sewing kit, bandages, and flint. He added the packets of salted meat, bread and cheese wrapped in oil paper along with his two water skins to the largest section. On the outside he secured with buckles a small hatchet, two large coils of rope and a climbing axe that a merchant had suggested. He continued packing the items that had been suggested in Thera's list.

 

Two items remained on the bed, one he wasn’t sure he would need and the other he didn’t think Thera would approve of. Shrugging and figuring it was better to have something and not need it than to need it and be without. He shoved the grappling hook into his pack, so that it was near the bottom of the bag, and placed the other small pouch into his back pocket. As he was strapping his swords onto his back, Edana walked into the room grabbing her packs before heading back out without saying a word, and Elyan was too busy trying to figure out how the bag and his swords were going to be situated on his back to really do more than notice. Changing the orientation of the sword straps allowed him to place his pack over them with relative ease. Picking up his quiver of arrows, he buckled it on his belt. Moving to pick up his bow, the quiver swinging slightly with each step bothered him, he removed his pack and secured the quiver to the side opposite the rope. His pack situated, it was filled but not over stuffed and rested lightly on his shoulders, he checked his swords and found that he could still draw them with relative ease. Arranging his other weapons, two knives in his boots and one up each sleeve, even with the swords he now wore in plain sight he felt naked without those concealed blades. Grabbing his money pouch and his bow staff, he surveyed the room, he was leaving nothing behind except a few patched articles of clothing which he still considered bringing along for a moment before turning and exiting the barracks.

 

He was the last of his roommates to arrive at the stables, and stood waiting a short distance away from the others, he still felt awkward and uncomfortable in groups and chose to remain near the fringes of them, watching the people talking amongst themselves but keeping his thoughts inside.

 

 

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There was a tired, triumphant look upon Addi’s face as she stared at the packed bags on the floor.  It had taken her so long to pack that the boys were already all fast asleep and she tried to be as quiet as possible as she climbed the ladder to her bed; mind you, waking an irritated Sandre would be a bonus but...  Sleeping fully clothed was not exactly comfortable, but she wasn’t comfortable enough around the boys to strip down to her underclothes around them.  She still waited for all of them to be gone before she changed every morning – especially bloody Sandre.  With the boys all asleep, Addison practically sighed in relief as she stripped down to her undershirt and underwear, letting the rest of her clothes drop to the floor before snuggling under her blankets.

 

Unfortunately, her tiny binge for comfort provided a rather... uncomfortable morning.  Bloody hell, she was sure Sandre took his sweet time getting out of the room while she pretended to sleep, blankets safely hiding her body.  Addi was practically poised to leap out of her bed by the time the door clicked shut behind Sandre.  An incredibly ungraceful jump to the floor from her bunk may have twisted her ankle.  She threw herself at the lock on the door, fumbling with it for a moment in her rush.  Stripping as she walked, Addi practically dumped the water basin over herself.

 

As she towelled dry, Addi cursed herself for being late for the first outing beyond the walls of Tar Valon she’d been allowed to join – and with the Mistress of Trainees, whom she’d yet to meet, to boot!  Curse her bloody mother kissing luck!  Addison was still buckling on the belt holding her short sword, barely managing to hold all of her bags as she tried to shut the door behind her.  Dropping one of them, and a number of curses, she kicked the door so hard that the thing should have bounced off the wall behind it and closed.  It didn’t.  Whatever, it was now the boys’ problem.

 

Addi limped as quickly as she could across the yard while dragging her bags.  The others were already there, damn!  A woman with red hair didn’t seem very pleased with her dishevelled appearance.  Thera?  Totally flustered, Addison murmured an inaudible apology accompanied by the most sheepish smile she could manage and fell in beside Edana.

 

ooc: sorry I'm late, school's pretty much done now so I shold be on top of things...

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Thera looked up and saw Llewelyn crossing the Yards. They had not met face to face yet, but she knew everyone who walked these grounds. “Extra point to you Llewelyn for being the first to arrive.” Her steady motion with the stone and dagger never ceased, but she offered a small smile. It seemed that the loss of her child had changed many things in the red haired Warder. 

 

Watching the boy sit down on the grass and stare at his feet made Thera shake her head. Dragar was truly not doing a very good job if this child was still so shy. Making a mental note she made plans to make sure to break him out of his shell. Edana was the next to arrive, bubbly and smiling as always. Those kind of women had always made Thera cringe, but she found it endearing in her young trainee. “Welcome Edana, take a seat you’ve a little while to wait.” Gesturing with her dagger she directed the child to sit with Llewelyn, maybe she could help his nerves.

 

Putting the dagger away Thera went and squatted on her heels with the trainee’s; intent of getting to know them better. Making up for the months she’d been away. She had just gotten Edana to hush up so Llew could speak when she saw Elyan hovering a little ways off. Standing up she walked over and clapped a hand on his arm. “I am glad you decided to join us Elyan, you make a good addition to this group.” The last time they had spoke Thera had been more than a little with child; and in a temper besides. She couldn’t recall if she’d taken it out on him during weapon selection, but she added a smile before walking to her horse and gathering the reins. There was another student, a female… Addison, but as soon as she gave her instructions they would go. Soften or not by her loss there were some rules she would not bend.

 

“I hope that you all at least know how to ride well enough to stay on the horse? I will not push us too hard, but we won’t dawdle either. Stay together, stay with me, and you will all make it back to tell the tale.” With one foot in the stirrup she saw what had to be Addison stumbling and cursing her way towards them. Arching her eyebrow Thera called for them to mount and set off at a steady pace. The girl would have to pick up what she missed from the others.

 

She led them through the small bridge town and out East, off the main roads. She kept half an eye on where they were headed and half an eye on her students. They seemed to be fairing well enough, but it was only the first hour. Tonight would see how well they followed her instructions.

 

Except to water the horses and eat their lunch they didn’t stop until it was almost dark. Even then Thera was not done with them. She had them stopped in a small clearing, in an area she knew well, she and Serena had often come to this place to be alone. Dismounting she gathered them around her and quickly handed out instructions.

 

“I will give you each a task and I expect it done within half an hour, as the sun falls. Elyan, you will find us a camp site with soft ground that slopes slightly, a stream nearby, and enough fallen branches for a fire. Edana I need you to go with Elyan and start gathering those branches, I expect the fire lit when I arrive.” The first two did not move and Thera shook her head, making her red gold curls bounce. “Go!’ she bellowed sending them running; she shook her head again when she saw both be foolish enough to leave their horses. Watching them fade into the trees she turned her attention back to Llewelyn and Addison. “You two will have a special task.” Her lips curled into what would pass for a smile. “Flat bread, cheese, and dried meat do not make a good meal. I want you to find us other food and have it at the camp site when I arrive.”

 

Watching the last two disappear Thera quickly hobbled the horses and ghosted off through the trees. Their assignments had nothing to do with mountain climbing, that would tomorrow, she just needed to get a feel for their skill levels and how well they followed her directions. Each would be crucial in tailoring this lesson to their needs. Before the first student returned Thera was sitting in that cleaning looking up at the sky.

 

OOC: Sorry for the delay..I had the funeral and then a HUGE test today. Anyways...

RP your various tasks and get us through dinner and towards bed.  ;D

 

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If only she had the foresight, Addison might have asked one of the stableboys to have a horse prepared for her that morning.  Instead, she was left to quickly saddle the unfortunate animal she had requested the day before, praying she’d pulled the saddle strap tight enough and grabbed the right bit.  Following much cursing, one crushed toe, and the subsequent tear or two, Addi was finally galloping her horse across the yard to catch up with the departing party.

 

In a pathetic attempt to explain to Thera her lateness, she felt the need to announce aloud that “This has not been a good morning.”

 

Growing up on a farm, Addison had thought she was an excellent rider.  However, there were a number of key differences between a plough horse and a rouncey; notably, the former was a great deal more docile than the latter.  Of course Addi, in her naïve insistence that she follow as many clichéd warrior nuances as possible, had picked out a fiery stallion for herself.  The hormone-driven animal was constantly snapping at the other male horses; she did her best to keep it away from the mares.  She spent so much energy just staying on White Thunder, as she called the unruly white horse, that she was completely exhausted and sore by the time they stopped for the night.

 

Soldiers did not cry or whine.  At least that was what Addi kept telling herself while Thera ordered her and Llewelyn, whom she had yet to meet, off on a foraging mission.  Again, her lack of foresight came back to bite her in the rear: no twine!  She could have made a few traps and set them up in strategic locations; by morning they might have had a rabbit or bird and she might have scored a few points with Thera to make up for the rest of her missteps.  Instead she sighed, looked for a few landmarks to mark their camp, and set off into the woods.

 

Addi took special care to ensure they could navigate their way back to the camp – the last thing she needed was to look like an even bigger idiot in front of the Mistress of Trainees.  At least her rural background came in handy here; it was maybe an hour before they came across a stream.  Considering the spring weather it was unlikely they would find any wild produce worth eating but fish were plentiful.  If they would find a few nuts still in season Thera should be more than happy – had she felt a little surer of herself, Addison might have tried to find a few herbs but considering her unfamiliarity with the local flora, decided against it.

 

“Are you any good at fishing Llewelyn?”

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It was the first time Llewelyn left Tar Valon since he had become a trainee. He felt as a boy on an adventure to explore the neighboring world, studying insects, observing the wide landscapes, filling his lungs with fresh air...

 

And as they departed, Llewelyn noticed he wasn't the only one handling his horse with a little uneasiness. Even though Saldaean were known for their riding skills, there had only been a workhorse to train with at his family's farm. So he only had a little experience and that was it. Fortunatelly, contrary to Addi's fiery mount, his was a quiet mare with a fair chestnut coat, Dor'Ayende was what the ostler called her. The greatest challenge so far had been to prevent Addi's stalion from sniffing too close.

But as the day advanced and the number of hours in the saddle growing, his butt became numb and his legs heavy, and he already thought the morrow waking up wouldn't be pleasant.

Even more as Thera asked of him and Addi to go find food when they stopped to settle camp.

 

He exchanged glances with Addi before they departed from the clearing and into the woods. Seeing the decomposed features on Addi's face reminded Llewelyn of his own distress as he was well aware the early spring wasn't a favorable time for finding food in the wild. But the region was warmer than in Saldaea where snow would still be covering the earth with a white mantel, so they would be alright... he thought.

 

He followed Addi in the woods, looking intensely around for something - anything - edible. He recognised some roots along the way and dug those up, but it wouldn't fill any of their stomach, it was hard to chew and hardly tasty, but it was better than nothing. He exchanged some words with Addi who sure wasn't in the greatest of moods but he tried to loosen the atmosphere a bit by telling her some jokes. He probably wasn't very good at it, since he somehow didn't get the expected effect. Instead, she asked of him if he had any twine. "I have some," he answered. "But I doubt the others would be pleased to learn they have to wait until tomorrow morning to eat anything." She looked shocked as if he had done something horrible, whatever it was... She then called him a moron and explained that it was as good a way as any to get some supply for the days to come. Llewelyn indeed felt a moron as he hadn't thought about that and they started laying some traps good enough for any rabbit to fall into.

 

After an hour or so, as the sky was getting darker from a minute to another, they ended up near a stream and they both beamed for it was the perfect solution to their problem. Addi asked Llewelyn whether he was good at fishing and he answered her with a wide grin before starting to prepare fishing rods for both of them out of the remaining twine, the straighter tree branches they could find around, fishing hooks he had also brought along and some freshly dug up worms. They then settled on the streambank and waited for some fish to bite, which was not too long as it was - Llewelyn and Addi had soon found out - the beginning of the spawning season for spring salmon. Llewelyn helped Addi when she was facing troubles struggling to pull up their fattest catch.

 

They had to stop though because it was too dark to see and lightening a torch would frighten the other fish, but with just that, they had already managed to catch enough to feed their whole lot until the next morning, when hopefully the traps they had laid would have caught some preys. They returned to the camp heavily charged but without having to search the way back thanks to Addi's sense of direction. Llewelyn was pretty proud of their work and he couldn't help but grin like an idiot. When they had left the clearing, he honestly didn't thought they would find anything substantial and now that they were back with their arms filled, he somehow felt elated.

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OOC: Why do I have to be foolish and leave my horse? *laughs* Light help!

 

IC:

Edana bolted at the bellowing from the Mistress of Trainees. It startled her enough that she left her horse behind. She shook her head at her idiocy and trailed behind Elyan a moment. "Let's find a place and I'll go back for the horses. It'll be easier to gather firewood that way, anyway."

 

They found a place easily enough and Edana nodded. "If you'll clear that spot for the fire and set the stones around it, I'll head back for the horses and start gathering wood on the way back."

 

She set off for the horses, glad to see they'd stayed where they were. Well trained horses will do that. She smiled and lead them back towards where she left Elyan, grabbing firewood along the way. When she'd reached camp again, she stacked some wood neatly on the side, looking for Elyan and his ring of stones.

 

~Edana

*waiting on Elyan to help her light this thing*

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Elyan was sore from riding all day, he had a difficult time just staying on the horse, and keeping up with the others was all he could handle. He barely had gotten his feet on the ground before Thera was giving him orders. Only managing to grasp half of what she said, before she sent them running with a yell, leaving their horses behind. Elyan wasn't sure what he was supposed to do with the horse, but he felt that leaving her standing there probably wasn't what Thera expected of them.

 

They were wondering for only a short time, Elyan was still trying to get his bearings in the forest, when they came upon a spot that perfectly met Thera's description.

 

Edana left to gather wood and the horses, leaving Elyan to tend to the campsite. Placing his pack on the ground, he took a moment to shake the stiffness out of his legs before getting to work clearing the area. The rocks he found in the campsite, went into the circle for the fire and the twigs in a pile next to the stones. The ground clear, he dug out the fire pit and gathered the dry cleared underbrush in his circle of stones.

 

Having experience with his flint, Elyan only had a slight hesitation with getting the tinder to spark. He was feeding the fire with the twigs he had gathered with Edana returned with the horses and firewood.

 

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Thera had a small smile on her face as she walked into their campsite for the evening. It was near enough to the spot she fixed in her mind and she was pleased to see a fire being attempted and fish in the process of being scaled.

 

“You have all done very well. I am glad to see that you can all follow directions when you put your mind to it.”

 

It was well after dark by the time they were all fed and the fires were doused. Thera did not sleep right away; she lay awake listening to the whisperings of her students. She wasn’t eavesdropping; she just felt a comfort at knowing there were others around. Since the loss of her their child her relationship with Jasine had been strained and many nights they didn’t speak at all. When she finally did find rest her dreams were the same that had haunted her for the last several months.

 

As was no surprise she was up before any of the trainee’s and she took kindness on them and started breaking up camp. Once they had all breakfasted she had them back in the saddle. If they kept on at a quick pace they should reach the base of the mountains today, with just enough time to go over their equipment before dinner and sleep.

 

That night after the fire was lain and they had all eaten an early dinner Thera gathered them around for their first real lesson in climbing. “ I think it is best that I start off by explaining to you what mountain climbing is.” A few of the trainee’s smirked but Thera only waited a moment for their murmurs to stop before continuing on. “ In its simplest form Climbing is either hiking, scrambling, or scaling using your own body and power to make an ascent of a vertical, near vertical, or slightly more vertical than horizontal hunk of ground. That is why I only brought students who had shown a fair amount of physical strength. The first step in climbing a mountain is the easiest step. After that the terrain usually gets steeper, the climate harsher, and the steps become harder and more difficult to take. For your first time up we will start with something smaller and easier with me as your guide. On your final climb, which is also the test for this class you will be made to pick the mountain, map the trail, prepare your gear, and climb successfully. But fear not, by the end of our week you will have those skills.”

 

She instructed everyone to go fetch any gear they thought they would need to climb. Thera went and fetched her own pack and proceeded to take it apart piece by piece, explaining as she went.

 

“A large pack or bag will be required to carry all the supplies you will need.” Her’s was leather and worn, but it was the perfect fit for her equipment. “The items already in your bags should be appropriate clothing, extra stockings, blankets, flint and steel, water, snares, food, bandages and salves. The next I want you to pay extra careful attention to as these are your climbing gear.” Reaching into her bag she pulled out her crampons and shook them.

 

“These will fit onto the bottom of your boots and give you sure footing on the mountain face. They are best used only on  packed snow or icy surfaces. Next is your rope, I do not think I need to explain this too far. You should also have one locking and two regular carabineers. In laymen terms these will be used to attach you to your rope and attach you to each other.” Smiling she bent to pick up her descending-belay device. “This is what will control the speed in which you fall….I mean descend from the mountain. I know that your carabineers and belay device both appear to be just simple parts made of iron, but they are your most important equipment. Do not, I repeat…Do not lose these, you will not make the climb and will fail the class without them.”

 

“Last and certainly not least is your grappling hook. This will get you from one “platform” to the next. The last thing we will do tonight is practice setting up this equipment. I will show you how to attach the rope to yourself, and the grappling hook. As well as how the belay and carabineer is used. My hope is that in the morning we will be at the mountain base going over climbing techniques.”

 

OOC: RP arriving at the mountain range and your first reactions. Then RP practicing with your gear. Tie a harness, attach your carbineer and belay as well as your grappling hook. If you do not know anything about mountain climbing it is fairly simple. You will tie a harness around yourself similar, though much simpler, manner than those used today. On the front of that you will leave a small loop which is pushed through the hole in your belay. That loop is then fastened with a locking carabineer. The idea is that as your partner climbs the rope you will be letting out the slack and making sure they don’t fall. If you want to know what any of this looks like, or want more info just PM me.  ;D

 

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Edana took a moment to appreciate the scenery. The mountains were peaking far over their heads. She was glad she'd gotten a good night's sleep, even if Thera rustling around had pulled her from it. She wasn't dumb enough not to appreciate the assistance, though, so she rested a few more minutes before pushing herself up and helping the Mistress of Trainees break camp and make breakfast. The sun setting behind those mountains made for a beautiful sight and she smiled at thinking they'd get to see most of that glorious sunset while making camp and dinner. Alright, so it was one of the few things she allowed herself to do that could be considered girly. Bah. She hadn't had time to appreciate these mountains the last time she'd been through here, so she fully intended to do it now!

 

After dinner, Thera gathered them together and started talking about climbing and the little details that would keep them from dying before they left this place. She settled with her gear in her lap, having packed things she wasn't sure the purpose of. It was nice to hear them named and explained and she mimicked Thera's actions with the pieces as much as she could without making it terribly obvious. Curiosity was fine, but if no one else was doing it, then sometimes standing out was a bad thing. When she instructed them to set their equipment up, Edana was glad for it. She wasn't sure how much longer she could listen without toying with the things in her lap. She looped ropes around, testing tension by pulling them from the other side. She nodded approvingly when these things worked appropriately, then stopped and watched when they didn't. It never ceased to amaze her how much you could pick up by watching someone else play with things. She grinned as she finished the last bit of preparation, only Mistress Thera's presence keeping her from cracking a joke about wenches and grappling hooks.

 

~Edana

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In Bradon’s Hill, the men were always talking about the miners in the Mountains of Mist.  The tiny Andoran town was two day’s ride from Whitebridge which was the main crossing of the Manetherendrelle for any caravan on its way to Caemlyn from the mountains; it was also the destination of any farmer looking for a larger market to sell his surplus produce.  Thus, farmers were always returning with news about the mountains.  In her mind, Addison had pictured the monstrous icy peaks but had been unprepared for the hugeness of Dragonmount.  Her mental picture of a mountain chain had shifted but she was still stunned by the amount of mountains all together.  Her awe grew the closer they rode. 

 

Surely Thera didn’t mean for them to scale all the way to the top, especially not with gear that seemed so simple – not in use but in design.  The use of these bits of metal and rope...  Why were they tying themselves together to climb, wouldn’t that cause everyone else to fall as well?  Addi didn’t like the “if one dies, we all die” concept that was forming in her head and the Mistress of Trainees quickly disabused her of it.  The rest of the gear seemed simple enough to understand, after having it explained and shown to her a few more times.  She felt stupid considering everyone else seemed to grasp the concepts easily enough and so, tried to rationalise it as having had less education than anyone else in the group.

 

Unfortunately, Addi could come up with no excuse for her inability with the grappling hook.  After spending two hours flinging the thing at various trees, she was still only looping it over her intended target one time in ten.

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OOC: For those of you that missed this round of posting, you can just add your response to your next post.

 

IC:Thera watched each of the students carefully, making them demonstrate again and again how the knots were tied and where the belay attached. A simple error in any of these and she would bring less trainee back to the Tower than she’d started out with. Once she was sure they could each assemble the harness and tie the knot she allowed them free time before bed.

 

Leaving the trainee’s to their own devices Thera went off a little ways to sit and meditate, facing the mountain range. Kinslayers Dagger had many treacherous passes, but she had climbed this range many times and knew the easiest paths for their first day. Closing her eyes she pictured the flame, but she did not assume the void. The flame was only a focus for her meditation this evening. For several hours she sat in silence, slowly relaxing one part of her body at a time, until there was no tension left. All of her worries at losing her trainee’s had faded and she went to sleep knowing she would bring each of them home.

 

Thera had her gear gathered before everyone was up and by the time she sun was fully above the horizon she had all of her students at the mountain range. Today she checked each knot they tied, and inspected their gear before she allowed them to start their climb. She had no partner, but she led the small group slowly up he mountain face. Stopping to explain why she had gone one way, and not another and pointing out the plants that could be used for water.

 

At mid day they reached a small plateau and they stopped for lunch. “ I am very proud of all of you. Making it up the mountain was only half the battle. Making it back down is equally as important, and much more dangerous.”

 

As soon as everyone was finished with their meals Thera started them back down. This process was slower, as some of them were afraid and jumping backwards down the cliff face. By the time they all and their feet back on solid ground they were full of boasts and smiles. She allowed them a short time to celebrate before giving them their assignments. They would need what was left of daylight to make their plans.

 

OOC: RP your climb up the mountain and what your character felt etc. One more lesson after this!!!

 

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Edana nodded quietly as Mistress Thera pointed out a few places where her knots could be tighter and adjusted for it. She was rather impressed that it only took a time or two to get the knots right. She had never been particularly good at knots. She untied and retied them as she waited on the others, getting a little faster each time she retied them.

 

When Thera gave them some free time before bed, she wandered to an open spot and looked at the face of the mountain they'd climb in the morning. She was nervous about it, there was no doubt about that. One slip and she'd not be going home in a few days. One slip from someone else and she might have the same problem. It was a daunting concept, so she was really glad she already knew and trusted the other trainees that would be going up that mountain tomorrow. She made her way to her bedroll as the fires were banked for the night and sighed as she closed her eyes. Tomorrow was coming.

 

*****

The rustle of metal pulled Ed from her sleep and she looked up to see Mistress Thera already up and assembling her bag. She watched the woman for a few minutes before she got up and started moving, herself. There was always an order to pack in that made things easier and she was pretty sure Thera had much more practice at this than she did.

 

She packed her things up, rolling her bedroll neatly and stowing it with the others. It wasn't long before she was laying her hands on the face of the mountain she'd watched last night, praying it wouldn't be the death of her today.

 

It was a long trip to the little plateau over their heads. A few rocks landed on her as a trainee's foot slipped above her, so she'd have a few ugly bruises waiting on her when she got home. Better than the alternative, she thought as she lowered her pack to the ground to eat lunch.

 

“ I am very proud of all of you. Making it up the mountain was only half the battle. Making it back down is equally as important, and much more dangerous.” Edana bit hard on the inside of her lip, bringing tears to her eyes as she avoided the sarcasm that came so readily to her lips. Perhaps when Mistress Thera wasn't in control of her future here, she'd let her humor run free. She promised herself a crack or two the day after she was promoted and forced herself to be content with that.

 

When they started their decent, Edana was last, a position she was happy about, since it meant she wouldn't be struck by falling rocks. She took great care with where she put her foot and only dislodged one little glob of dirt that showered on the trainee below her as they came back down the mountain. She apologized profusely once they were on the ground, even vowing to buy the trainee a drink to make up for it.

 

After that, of course, came the broad smile that accompanied having accomplished what she set out to do. She'd been up to the top of that little mountain and come down with only a few bruises to show for it. She didn't even stop smiling when Thera handed her chores to do. Her muscles may have hurt, her bruises adding their complaints as she moved along her work, but her grin stayed firmly plastered across her lips.

 

~Edana

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Thera did not sleep well that night. A heavy feeling lay on her shoulders that she just couldn’t shake. Her students had done well under her direction, but today they would choose their own route, ready their own equipment, and scale the heights alone. Not alone she corrected in her own mind, they would be with each other, but even that could not allay her fears.

 

With the sun still resting behind the trees she woke her students and instructed them to gather their things. “Today you will go up alone. My thoughts will be with you and I hope that you have paid attention to all you need to know. You will need all that I have taught you and perhaps all that you have learned so far as a trainee to get up the mountain and back down today safely. Remember to always stay together and stay alert.” Thera refrained from saying that they would all do well. She was too worried about them for the words to sounds sincere and they needed their confidence today.

 

“You have until dark to complete your assignment. I will be waiting here for you.” With a last gesture and an encouraging nod she sent them out to conquer the mountain.

 

OOC:RP Your character planning the route, scaling the mountain and coming back down. In clued any issue they had and what they think about what they have learned.

 

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Edana refrained from groaning, but only barely. She felt good about having climbed the mountain yesterday, but staring at it with no guidance today…

 

She sighed and nodded to Mistress Thera, then sank onto her bedroll and grabbed her pack. Most of her gear was still together from yesterday and she was confident that she remembered how to pack it again. At least, she hoped she did. Once she was confident with her arrangement, she followed the other trainees to the mountain. Together, they pointed out a possible track, each adding their own thoughts to the plan before heading for the mountain’s base.

 

Ed threaded the rope through her latches, watching another trainee start up the mountain ahead of her. She was the middle man this trip, relying on the trainee ahead of her to make the right turns and connections with his rope. It made her a bit nervous, but she wasn’t confident enough in herself to make those decisions, so perhaps it was best this way.

 

They started up the mountain at a pretty even clip. They even made it to the same plateau they’d had lunch on the day before with no major incidence. They went back down the mountain in reverse order, so Ed was one of the last ones over the side. They were about halfway down when she heard a shout from below her. She turned and looked down, searching for the problem. Seeing nothing, she looked up. Her heart stopped in her chest and she scrambled to get the extra lead ropes out of her pack. Above her, the rope was fraying on a rock. The trainee above her would be crashing down on her at any moment if that rope kept rubbing. She latched the last clip and put a knot in the rope as quickly as she could, calling for the trainee to find a foothold.

 

The rope snapped just as he took his weight off of it, sending a good sized rock down the face of the mountain. Ed tried to get out of the way, but the thing landed on her shoulder, bouncing off and falling harmlessly below her. She cringed, but knew she didn’t have time to deal with it. The other trainees had been close enough to the ground to get there quickly, the last one only falling three feet or so when the rope snapped. Sighing in relief, she turned her attention to getting herself and the other trainee off the face of the mountain before dark.

 

Getting her lead rope to the trainee above her was difficult, but once she reached his ankle it was easier. Soon the new rope was secure and  they made their way back down. Her shoulder didn’t even hurt…

 

…until they started on their way back to camp. She groaned as she pulled her pack off her back and dropped it to her bedroll. Light help, but she wasn’t looking forward to the next hunk of rock she had to scale!

 

~Edana

DONE! *Dances* Thank you! :D

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OOC: Hmmm.. I wonder if Thera can get fired for leaving with 4 trainees and coming back with 1  ;)

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OOC: LMAO

 

What they don't know won't hurt 'em...

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ooc: fashionably late :P

 

ic:

 

Despite what many might say, based on the amount of time she spent choking on her foot, Addison had an unfortunate habit of over thinking things.  This wasn’t to say she couldn’t be impulsive, because Light knew she was, but after the decision was made she would rethink and regret everything.  Thus is was that Addi found herself, the next morning, regretting the amount of time she had spent regretting joining this class – needless to say, she hadn’t slept well.

 

She packed her bags silently, preoccupied; it was with a certain amount of trepidation that she flung, missed, and re-flung her grappling hook.  The group seemed to sense her unease, or at least Thera did, and she ended up being on the bottom of the string of scraggly youths slowly working their way up the cliff.  Heights weren’t what bothered her, not directly.  Rather, it was the fact that heights increased the severity of injuries should an accident occur – and there was no Yellow on the trip.  Unfortunately, Addison was somewhat... incredibly accident prone.  During her first week in the Yards, she’d visited the infirmary six times: one broken hand, the same hand lacked any skin across her knuckles the next day, bloody and blistered feet, a sprained ankle, a puncture wound, and a broken arm.  Whether by virtue of her clumsiness, inattention, violent temper, or just plain bad luck, Addi was on a first-name basis with any and every Yellow Sister that worked or even visited the infirmary.

 

If Addison could barely practice her sword forms without stabbing herself, how on earth was she going to climb a mountain without dying?

 

Actually, the climb went better than expected – in other words, she survived.  Considering she was at the bottom, the stones dislodged by her fellow trainee’s boots gravitated towards her like flies to a corpse; tiny scratches and a number of bruises covered her, luckily the worst was a goose egg sprouting from her forehead.  Addi reached the plateau in, more or less, one piece.  She found going down, while supposedly more dangerous, easier and definitely more fun.  With every jump backwards, nothing but the rope keeping her from crashing to a painful death, she felt a jolt of adrenaline rush through her body.  When the group reached the bottom, a big grin had sprouted underneath the goose egg while at least one of the others looked more than a little green.

 

By the time they returned to camp, exhausted fuzzed Addi’s brain too much to think and she slept deeply – though her companions would complain, not peacefully.

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The four trainees set out alone the following morning, landmarks as their breadcrumbs; already tired, sore, and scratched, few words interrupted the music of birds.  Addi’s goose egg had now taken over the better... or rather, worse part of her forehead.  Her arms and legs were a tapestry of tiny scrapes, some of which began to angrily protest their abuse after only a few feet up the new cliff face.  Despite being worse for wear, the nerves she’d felt the day before were vague memories replaced by a steady flow of adrenaline.

 

Without Thera to guide them, the trainees ran into a number of problems the Mistress of Trainees had automatically avoided the day before.  They made their first climb with few issues, except Addi had to apologise profusely to one of her companions as he nursed a black eye – it was unanimously decided that she was permanently demoted to bottom of the line. 

 

Their second climb, however, presented a new challenge.  As Thera had guided them up the mountain, she had manoeuvred them up paths they were capable of scaling; unfortunately, her trainees had no such foresight.  Eventually, the four found themselves stuck beneath an outcrop of rock they could not avoid.  While it had provided and excellent anchor for their grappling hooks, there was no way to actually climb onto the ledge itself and they were stuck underneath it.  If they tried to inch their way, one side or the other, towards a place where the overhang wasn’t so perpendicular to the cliff face, they risked dislodging their hooks.  Testing all their weight on the ropes proved chancy; while the ropes were certainly secure enough to carry their weights without shifting too much, the added force of swinging backwards off the mountain and then as they trusted all their weight on the ropes was just as dangerous.  In the end, the group propelled back down to safer ground and charted a new direction glad they had lugged extra grappling hooks and rope with them.

 

By the time Addison stood at the top of the mountain, suffering slightly from vertigo, she was exhausted and had scraped off whatever skin had still clung to her arms during one very unnerving slip.

 

Their trek down the mountain was fairly uneventful until the last cliff.  Second-to-the bottom, Addi was two-thirds down their last propel when she chanced to look up.  Her shout rousted a flock of birds out of the trees below them – one of the ropes was fraying!  Too far away from it to be of any use, she was forced to nervously continue to make her way towards the bottom, pleading with the Creator.  In typical dramatic style, the rope snapped just as a second rope was secured and left the top two trainees thanking their lucky stars, clinging to the rock face.  Addison provided comic relief and fell the final three feet of her descent.

 

Thera seemed relieved to lead them all home in one piece, though Addi thought she’d noticed a flicker of amusement when the woman saw her rubbing head, arms, and rear.  As she kicked White Thunder back towards Tar Valon, angry red splotches began to itch all over her body.

 

“You have got to be kidding me!”

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Their second night outside and Elyan was getting nervous. He didn't like the open ground, he didn't feel secure knowing that they could easily be surrounded. When the moon was halfway across the black sky, Elyan could no longer lay still. He got up quietly and made a circle around the camp, checking the shadows and listening intently for danger. When he was satisfied that the fear was only in his imagination, he settled down with his back to a large tree. The small comfort of knowing his back was guarded allowed Elyan to slip silently into slumber.

 

The next day was filled with instruction and practice of tying knots and using the climbing gear.

 

Elyan had known a few knots, learned from a combination of watching others and figuring on his own. The ones that he was shown now were different and had names. There were so many and each with a different name that it caused Elyan to wonder who had thought them all up. He practiced quietly on his own, fumbling the first few but watching the others quickly set him straight. Occasionally Thera would walk by with advice and corrections, to which he responded with a nod and softly thank her.

 

The day passed quickly and soon the sun had set. Elyan sat himself next to the tree and watched the stars while listening to the sounds of the forest until his eyelids were too heavy to keep open.

 

The next day was the first with any climbing, and Elyan was a blend of excitement and nervousness. Thera checked everyone's equipment before leading them up the mountain which was altogether uneventful. The climbing was difficult work, his hands were covered in blisters and were sore from gripping the rocks until his knuckles were white. His legs screamed with each step, but he ignored them. The marks from falling debris that spotted his arms and shoulders were barely noticed, he was accustomed to pain and was too tired to care. After the evening chores were completed, Elyan flopped on his blanket and went right to sleep, too tired to be concerned of bandits in the night.

 

The last day of their climbing trip would be spent finding their own way up the mountain. When Thera left them to their own devices and they started planning the trip, Elyan listened to the discussion gazing up the face of the mountain and making mental notes of the path, keeping his own thoughts to himself.

 

Elyan was a strong boy, so when they started to climb he volunteered to go first, relying on his strength to hold the other trainees from falling should the rope snap. It was a foolish idea, he would not be able to support so much weight, but it gave him small comfort knowing that he would be able to try and help should the rope snap.

 

They made it up without having too much trouble, maybe a few more bruises than the previous day, but everyone had made it up in one piece. After having lunch and a bit of rest, they began their descent down the mountain. Elyan was the last one over the edge, which he was fine with, thinking himself the anchor for the rest of the group. The descent was easier and made him relax, going through the motions he almost took his mind off of his actions. A shout from below him startled him and his feet slipped. The rope caught some of his weight, but his arm took the bulk of it, causing a jolt of pain that blurred his vision. It took him a moment to clear his head, looking up he saw the rope fraying on a rock. He tried to pull himself up back onto the wall, but his arm wouldn't listen, it wasn't broken, but he definitely dislocated something. The pain slowed his thoughts as he tried to regain his grip on the wall, unable to do so he considered just letting himself fall.

 

A shout from below him urged him to get a foot hold, but he wasn't really listening. Looking down the cliff face lazily brought him the vision of Edana below him wrestling with lead ropes, if he fell he would certainly injure her and that was not acceptable. With a grunt of effort and a yelp of pain, Elyan managed to pull himself back onto the rock face just as the rope snapped.

 

Back in camp Elyan sat in the silence of shame, knowing what he had almost caused, cradling his hurt arm in the other and not letting anyone near him. Finally when everyone was laying down for the night, Elyan dropped himself on his shoulder, feeling it set before the pain claimed him.

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