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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
TaiDashan

First Steps {Attn: Kerris}

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Fanten sat on his cot and sighed. He scrubbed a hand through his hair and over his face. He had been here much longer than he would have liked when his journey first began, but over time he had made friends with an Asha'man named Tai'Dashan who had convinced him that this was a far more worthy cause then simply finding the horn. Tai had shown him Saidin and how to use it and had been a friend of sorts thus far. He had in fact, asked if He could train on of the new Soldiers now that he was a Dedicated. The pin at his throat was not even a week old. Grunting, he stood. No use wasting time. He had rank here and so needed to show confidence as well as competence.

 

Glancing in the bubbled mirror he looked at himself. His brows were slightly furrowed and he was frowning. He tried to straighten the frown from his face but only succeeded in looking like he wanted to bite something. He always had a look about him as if he were not pleased. It was just his disposition. One he was trying to outgrow.

 

Heading out the door, he walked to the training grounds where he was to meet the Soldier. He could not for the life of him remember the boy's name, Carrot? Kanis? He hadn't gotten much sleep last night and was in a somewhat foul mood. Irritably he shoved the thought out of his mind and trudged through the muck that used to be snow. Weaving Earth and Fire he raised a bench at a spot in the training grounds and cleared it of snow. He sat and waited for his Mentee to arrive. The boy better like horses, he thought grumpily.

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Kerris rubbed what was left of his right arm with his left hand.  It was frigid, and the cold had set an ache into that shoulder like the bite of a shadowcat.  Just a few days ago, the ground around Caemlyn had been baking with the fury of Shai'tan's touch.  Two days past, all of the black-coated men had stopped suddenly and stared to the southwest.  Kerris felt something like an itch that drew his attention that direction as well, even if he didn't understand why.  The others had looked dumbstruck with fear and awe, tasks and work forgotten at their feet.

 

Now a few days later, snow was blowing down the roads that made up the compound of the Black Tower.  The change from the oppressive heat was welcome, but it seemed like the sudden winter was trying to make up for lost time with these snow storms.

 

A bit of quick work by Kerris with needle and thread had altered the right arm of the coat to cover his stump, but he still wasn't comfortable about wearing the coat at all.  He trudged across the green to the "Training Grounds", lagging not a little bit.  He had to admit this wasn't something he was looking forward to.  Today, Kerris would meet a trainee who had been here longer and was to teach Kerris the ways of controlling Saidin.  Though Kerris enjoyed learning, he wasn't sure he wanted to learn this lesson.  He wore the black coat, slept with other men in barracks where odd things happened like beds making themselves and water buckets floating through the air, but he still couldn't admit what he was.

 

Across the snow-covered green, Kerris could see a middle-aged man seated on a bench.  The man didn't seem to notice his approach.  He could see a bit of silver glinting at the man's collar, a pin shaped like a sword.  The man was a Dedicated, which Kerris supposed meant he had Dedicated himself to the idea that he could wield Saidin, and would one day go crazy and die of it.  It was a lot for a man to swallow at once.

 

Fanten; that is what Attack Leader Faringal called him.  I will have to observe him closely while I work with him.  I wouldn't want to have him go crazy right before my eyes.  I likely would end up his first victim.

 

Fanten finally had noticed Kerris approaching; he stood and waited with hands clasped behind his back.  It was funny how able-bodied people took such gestures-- meant to impress or look noble, for granted.  As Kerris could not return the gesture, he settled on a short bow with his left arm bent across his waist.  When he straightened, Kerris saw the other man's brow furrow in what looked like anger or annoyance.  Perhaps Kerris had not given the proper amount of courtesy.  He tried to make amends by introducing himself.

 

"Soldier Kerris Asech reporting for duty, Dedicated Fanten.  I do not know anything of Saidin, I am like a babe taking its first hesitant steps to a proud father.  Hopefully under your tutelage I will soon be walking steadily."

 

Light, I don't know how hopeful I should be for THAT...but I cannot afford to anger these madmen.

 

 

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OOC: Young man? Fanten is 42 :D

 

IC: Fanten glanced around the Training Grounds and almost sighed. He had mixed feelings about this Tower and what he could do, but simple truth was just that. If he did not learn he would go mad or die first. He was resigned to it, regardless of if he liked it or not. Finally he noticed the Soldier. He noted that the man was missing most of his right arm. This was not a shock as it might be to some men. He had seen much worse along the Blight. Men missing parts of their face, pieces of limbs simply rotting off, and much worse. He stood and clasped both hands behind his back waiting for the man to approach. The Soldier surprised him with a bow, but he was late and had kept Fanten waiting. Despite himself his brow furrowed slightly.

 

"Soldier Kerris Asech reporting for duty, Dedicated Fanten.  I do not know anything of Saidin, I am like a babe taking its first hesitant steps to a proud father.  Hopefully under your tutelage I will soon be walking steadily." Kerris said. He was a slow, soft spoken lad. Tai had told him a small amount about the boy. He was fairly new and somewhat timid. Some may mistake the boy for slow but Fanten could see better. Reading people had been bred into his bones along with politics.

 

"I will be honest with ya lad." He said gruffly. "Your arm doesn't bother me. I come from Saldea where people die screaming devoured by things you would wake up screaming about. I want to get that out of the way in case you have had some strange looks here. I came here looking for something and found Saidin instead. I am not so sure I like being what I am or even being here. But it is what it is. We have been given Saidin, like it or not, and if we do not learn to wield it we will harm innocent people and/or kill ourselves. So we will do what we must." Warmth entered his voice at the last as he commiserated with the boy. "Don't be put off by me boy, life has made me a tough old man but i won't mistreat you, understand?" He waited for a brief nod before continuing. He was slightly surprising himself by the length at which he was speaking, but his father had always said a leader knew when to take charge. Seizing Saidin he wove Earth to raise a low stone platform a few paces across under the snow. Next came Fire to clear the stone and heat it to a comfortable warmth. Motioning to the stone he sat, indicating the boy should sit across from him. Once they both had taken their places, Fanten looked the boy in the eye.

 

"Let us begin." His mind drifted back to his first lessons with Tai. "First thing you should learn is the Ko Di. Without this your mind and possibly your body may be scoured out of existence by the raging power that is Saidin. Some call it the Void, or the Oneness. It is an emptiness that allows you to shed distraction and focus more intently. Have you heard of such a thing?"

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Kerris' teacher wasted no time in getting directly to the point of things.

 

"I will be honest with ya lad." He said gruffly. "Your arm doesn't bother me. I come from Saldea where people die screaming devoured by things you would wake up screaming about. I want to get that out of the way in case you have had some strange looks here. I came here looking for something and found Saidin instead. I am not so sure I like being what I am or even being here. But it is what it is. We have been given Saidin, like it or not, and if we do not learn to wield it we will harm innocent people and/or kill ourselves. So we will do what we must."

 

It was obvious that Fanten was jaded, disillusioned.  His teacher confirmed this with his next statment, slightly warmer in delivery this time. "Don't be put off by me boy, life has made me a tough old man but i won't mistreat you, understand?"

 

Kerris nodded, studying the grizzled man's face.  It had lines that seemed to reflect honor and valiance rather than age.  The aqualine profile was immediately recognizable to Kerris as that of a born leader.  Kerris felt a strange and resonating sensation as Fanten did something with Saidin, raising a stone platform from beneath the snow.  The cold stone was suddenly clear of snow and radiating warmth, and Fanten gestured for Kerris to take a seat.  The stone flooded him with sudden warmth in his hips as he sat.  Wasting no time, Fanten launched directly into a lecture.

 

"Let us begin.  First thing you should learn is the Ko Di. Without this your mind and possibly your body may be scoured out of existence by the raging power that is Saidin. Some call it the Void, or the Oneness. It is an emptiness that allows you to shed distraction and focus more intently. Have you heard of such a thing?"

 

Kerris thought for a few moments.  After the accident, it had seemed to Kerris like the world was too loud for him anymore.  Things and events moved too fast for him to keep up with.  When he felt overwrought by the pace of the world, Kerris had retreated inside of himself, to a safe haven he remembered as a child. 

 

It was a cave in the depths of Braem Wood so large and black that it swallowed all sound.  Besides the indigenous cave life of crickets, bats, and so on, it was a perfect silence.  You could shout into it and the sound would be swallowed almost before it left your mouth.  When Kerris felt overwhelmed now, he imagined that cave, and all of the tumult and distraction of the world fell away as if the cave sucked the sounds down into its depths forever.  He turned to Fanten.

 

"I am not sure if it is the same, but I have something like that.  When I use it, all distraction, sound, and senses leave me, only leaving the darkness and the quiet.  I can concentrate and think with that kind of quiet.  Does that make any sense?"

 

Kerris looked at the older man with more than a little desperation.  Little chance he would have if he was already going crazy with thoughts of caves and silence before he even began his training!

 

 

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"I am not sure if it is the same, but I have something like that.  When I use it, all distraction, sound, and senses leave me, only leaving the darkness and the quiet.  I can concentrate and think with that kind of quiet.  Does that make any sense?"

 

The boy looked to him with desperation painting his face. The lad was young, and Fanten felt a sort of responsibility to aid him. After all, he told himself, he was his mentee. He nodded to the boy before speaking, thoughts of the Borderlands filling his mind once more. He had been away from home for some time...

 

"Good enough lad, I have heard stranger that is for sure... Let us begin using this cave of yours. The technique I aim to teach will allow all distraction to happen as if on another planet, to someone else." He continued on like that, explaining to be sure the lad understood and letting him ask a few questions. Satisfied that the lad understood and could safely assume the Ko'di of sorts, he moved on.

 

"Now, I assume you have little to no knowledge of Saidin. As such I will start from the beginning." He assumed the Oneness and instructed the lad to do the same. His voice flat and hollow sounding to his ears, he continued on with the lesson.

 

"I want you to close your eyes lad. 'tis always easier that way the first few times. Now feel yourself in the cave, all sound, all thought is swallowed by the darkness." His voice continued on in a steady, comforting way.

 

"Stretch out your awareness, feel the dark emptiness surrounding you. In this darkness you will sense a light. To some it dances like a flame just out of sight. To others, it is like the sun on your back. It will call to you. This is Saidin." Fanten remembered his first few times sensing the Source and smiled faintly.

 

"Let me know once you can sense it lad. We will move on once you do."

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Kerris listened intently to Fanten, resisting the urge to itch his arm again. The older man spoke quietly, but with authority.

 

"Now, I assume you have little to no knowledge of Saidin. As such I will start from the beginning. I want you to close your eyes lad. 'tis always easier that way the first few times. Now feel yourself in the cave, all sound, all thought is swallowed by the darkness."

 

Kerris did as the Dedicated asked, closing his eyes and imagining himself in the Braem Wood cave. Silence seemed to fill his ears, replacing the sound of the cold wind howling in the trees, and the distant shouts and conversation of the Farm. Satisfied that Kerris had reached the right frame of mind, Fanten continued his instruction. 

"Stretch out your awareness, feel the dark emptiness surrounding you. In this darkness you will sense a light. To some it dances like a flame just out of sight. To others, it is like the sun on your back. It will call to you. This is Saidin. Let me know once you can sense it lad. We will move on once you do."

 

Kerris complied, sending his mind questing out into the dark depths of the cave. As he traveled ever deeper into his mind, he began to sense the light that Fanten spoke of. To him it appeared to be a flame as the Dedicated suggested, a fire burning brightly somewhere beyond him. Wary of going any closer to that heat, Kerris held fast where he was, like a person standing in the shadows just outside of a nighttime campfire.

 

He spoke faintly, "I sense it, Fanten...it is glowing just beyond my reach, but I feel that if I moved deeper into the cave, I would be able to see it clearly-- even touch it if I wanted to."

 

My only worry is that fire burns...and I sense that this fire could consume me whole if I let it.

 

He waited to see what the Dedicated would instruct him to do next. 

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Softly the lad spoke, his eyes closed and a look of almost wonder on his face.  "I sense it, Fanten...it is glowing just beyond my reach, but I feel that if I moved deeper into the cave, I would be able to see it clearly-- even touch it if I wanted to."

 

Urgently, but softly, Fanten warned the boy. "Hold lad, move no further yet. Many a man has lost himself to eagerness when launching into battle." The boy has promise, Fanten thought to himself. He knew when to be cautious, when to listen to authority. Weaving and holding a shield ready, just in case, he continued. "Now lad, approach the warmth. Slowly now, just come near enough to get a good sense of it. I want you to feel it boy, come to know it from a safe distance. Study it cautiously so you know what you can." 

 

Saidin was like a glorious battle. A constant struggle to keep the upperhand on a foe who was crafty and deadly. It was like a wrestling match on a razors edge. He knew the boy heard the call of the war horns. What he didn't know was how he would respond. So far he seemed to have a good head on his shoulders...

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