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Thirty minutes and counting... (attn: Cetaile)

Far Dareis Mai

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It was a hot day. Daraniea did her best to keep the sheen of sweat from her forehead, but her handkerchief was becoming soaked. Glancing about her, she saw other Novices and Accepted idly walking around the courtyard, enjoying the few moments of peace and quiet that was afforded to them. Seated under a lovely tree on a stone bench, Daraniea was beginning to wonder if she had misunderstood her instructions. Her mentor Cetaile, had sent her a note to meet her in the courtyard first thing in the morning, but the woman was nowhere to be found. Clearly, there were no Aes Sedai to be found anywhere this morning! Perhaps they had the luxury of sleeping in. Disgruntled at the thought, Daraniea wanted to scream at the top of her lungs, just to see how many grumpy Aes Sedai awoke from their peaceful reverie because of her. The thought actually made her giggle.


Her giggling was cut short by the thought of the enormous pots and pans she would inevitably be stuck scrubbing until her fingers fell off as a result. Frowning again, Daraniea tried to think of something a bit less anger-inducing. Allowing her mind to float, she found herself thinking about the myriad of rules this place enforced. Truly, it was as if she were nothing but a child toddling about in this place! And all the curtsying! She'd never curtsied so much in her life--not even in the Royal Court of Cairhien. Perhaps when she became bowlegged and hunch-backed her mentor (if she ever showed up) would take pity on her and offer Healing. Light help her if she got any shorter. Already a few Novices had looked down on her smugly and smiled as though she were a pretty doll to be put up on a shelf! Thankfully due to her height deficiency, she had mastered the ability to glare disdainfully down at any person--no matter their height.


As the minutes ticked by Daraniea felt herself getting even more antsy. She straightened her hair, smoothed out her skirt, and once again mopped her brow. If she were at home this woman would be feeling the rough side of her tongue, Aes Sedai or no....


Finally, after waiting nearly forty minutes an Aes Sedai glided into the courtyard. Daraniea hoped that it was Cetaile. Having never met the woman, she wasn't precisely sure whom she was looking for, but since this was the first Aes Sedai she had seen this morning, and the woman began to descend on her--truly it seemed that way from her rather short vantage point--Daraniea rose to curtsy...

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OOC:  Cetaile's Bio is here if you want it!  FYI Cetaile is even shorter than you are, she is 4'10".  She dresses in a sultry manner, but is not purposefully seductive.  It is just how she is most comfortable, and she has an effortless rumpled look to her most of the time that is attractive and disconcerting to many. 


Cetaile was running from her clan as they pursued her down a wharf in Ebou Dar.  It seemed every time she looked over her shoulder, they were closer; yelling at her to remember her duty.  She held a crystal bowl in her arms; she didn't know how it had gotten there, but she meant to keep it from her clan until the right time.  She tripped over a loose cobblestone in the road and the bowl went flying out of her arms.  The Atha'an Miere Gray let out a scream of frustration as it landed on the road; shattering into countless pieces.  She sank to her knees and felt an unfriendly hand upon her shoulder.  She knew that grip; it was her mother.  She heard the anger in her sultry voice.  "What have you done, Cetaile?  You have destroyed our heritage forever..."


She sat up with a start in her bed, a fine sheen of sweat covering her body under the silken sheets. 


What an odd dream...what could it mean?  What did my mother mean about destroying our heritage?  How could a bowl be so important?


Cetaile shook her head, pushing thoughts of it aside for now.  It was a wild dream in the heat of the morning, nothing more.  She got out of bed and yawned, stretching in the steamy air of her quarters.  The heat was oppressive today; it had muddled her thoughts and the nap hadn't helped as she had hoped. At least now that she was awake she could ignore the heat, that would put an end to the sweating. She was forgetting something, she thought.  But what could it be? 


She absently pulled a comb through her cropped caramel-colored hair and went in search of something to wear.  Being an Atha'an Miere, Cetaile never was a modest type.  To her, "normal" dress was was loose silk trousers and no blouse.  At least she could still sleep that way.  Most of her gowns were in muted colors, despite her personal preference for bold jewel tones.


Cetaile rifled through her wardrobe and chose a pale green belted gown.  The green was so light it looked almost white; it reminded her of whitecaps on the Aryth Ocean during summer.  It was of thin silk that clung to her figure, like many of her dresses.  She knew she had a lithe body and was not afraid to show it, and besides, the thin silk was comfortable in this heat.  A diving neckline showed off the top of her small bosoms, and golden sandals laced around her ankles at the hemline.


Dressed and mostly presentable, the Gray wandered back to her sitting area.  She still wasn't sure what she was forgetting, and her mind worried over it the way a tongue worries a hole where a tooth was recently lost.  Her eyes cast upon a small table by the door, and she saw the opened letter there.  The letter from Larindhra! Oh Light, I'm supposed to be meeting some blasted Novice she assigned me today!


She looked up at the golden barrel clock upon her mantel; it was thirty minutes past the appointed time.  Grabbing her belt pouch, she slipped it on the sash of her gown and slipped out the door. 


It took Cetaile ten minutes to reach the courtyard where she was to meet this Daraniea.  Why the Mistress of Novices had to choose a meeting place as far from the Gray quarters as you could get was beyond her.  Bloody arrogant Reds...never thinking beyond the nose on their face.


Cetaile swept into the courtyard, casting a cursory glance around her.  A pasty-faced Cairhienin girl was fidgeting and perspiring in the shade of a tree.  The few other girls in the courtyard were somewhat recognizable to Cetaile, so the Cairhienin girl must be the Novice she was here to meet. 


She sized the girl up as she walked towards her.  Daraniea stood to curtsy and Cetaile wanted to click her tongue in dismay.  She had hoped she would at least be taller than this girl, for she knew that Cairhienin tended to the small side.  Alas, she was a good handspan shorter than the Novice.  Ah well, her personality had always been enough to cow most initiates; it would be so again with this one.


The Gray cut the formality of the girl's curtsy short with a nod.  She eyed the girl-- She's had a soft life, this one... and made a brusque introduction. 


"Well.  You must be Daraniea.  You may call me Cetaile Sedai.  That was a fine curtsy, appropriate for the Royal Court of Cairhien, but I have little patience for things that take more time than they should.  A quick dip of the knees will suffice for me, Daraniea."


She noted with amusement the way the girl's almond-shaped eyes widened; few knew how to react when confronted with Cetaile's quick manner and clipped speech for the first time.  Cetaile was gruff, but not unkindly; she just didn't know squat about teaching Novices and felt like it was something best left to those who enjoyed it.  Like that ancient Brown, Claire...I wonder if I could pawn this one off on her.  Something to consider.   Her eyes sharpened as she focused on the Novice in front of her again.


"You look positively miserable in those white woolens of yours; I am sure they must be sweltering.  Come.  I will take you to a place that I favored greatly during the summer months when I was your age."


Cetaile turned abruptly and glided out of the courtyard, not looking to see if the girl was following.  If Daraniea couldn't keep up with the Gray's short stride, she would be surprised.  They descended past the Kitchens to a ground level storeroom near the river.  Stacked everywhere on pallets were large blocks of ice.  Some were mined from frozen rivers in the Borderlands and maintained with a Keeping until needed by the Kitchens, others were created by Accepted practicing weaves that froze water.  Either way, it made for a nice refuge, with mild breezes flowing through windows facing the river.  The cooling effect they produced when blowing over the blocks was palpable and a relief from the heat.


She took a seat on a bench near the windows and gestured for Daraniea to sit upon a rickety stool close at hand.  When they were settled, the Gray turned her intense brown eyes upon the Novice once more.


"Much better, yes?  Good.  Well, if I am to effectively 'mentor' you, it would be best if I learned some more about you.  So tell me a bit of your history, child.  And speak up, I can't abide mumbling."



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  • 2 weeks later...

Standing up to curtsy, Daraniea noticed that the woman was actually shorter than her! Light be praised! This was a first! However the woman carried herself with a confidence that belied her height. Daraniea could respect and understand that. She herself had long mastered looking down her nose at anyone who stood taller than her. So even though the woman was tiny, she still managed to loom. Daraniea would have to have learn this ploy and practice it on the other Novices.


As Daraniea began to float gently down into a perfect curtsy, the Aes Sedai cut her off with a nod. Feeling rebuffed and just a small bit affronted, Daraniea rose with a jerk. She knew here that these women would not treat her as her station afforded. She had been forewarned by the woman who had found her. Still...it rankled.


"Well.  You must be Daraniea.  You may call me Cetaile Sedai.  That was a fine curtsy, appropriate for the Royal Court of Cairhien, but I have little patience for things that take more time than they should.  A quick dip of the knees will suffice for me, Daraniea."


Hmph. Well. It seemed this Aes Sedai was rather odd. Daraniea wasn't sure to be pleased or annoyed at this rather unexpected turn of events. As Daraniea began to open her mouth in introduction, the Aes Sedai quickly rode over her,


"You look positively miserable in those white woolens of yours; I am sure they must be sweltering.  Come.  I will take you to a place that I favored greatly during the summer months when I was your age."


And then she turned and swept back into the Tower. Hesitating for a moment, Daraniea closed her gaping mouth with a firm click, and easily caught up to the woman. As they came upon the Kitchens, Daraniea unconsciously drew in a sharp breath...the thought of scrubbing pots nearly buckled her at the knees, but to her great relief the Aes Sedai merely passed them by.


Eventually they came to a storeroom. The Aes Sedai ushered her in before taking a seat herself. Immediately Daraniea began to feel the cool air waft about her sodden face as the soft breeze from the river swept across the cool ice. This, was surely heaven.


"Much better, yes?  Good.  Well, if I am to effectively 'mentor' you, it would be best if I learned some more about you.  So tell me a bit of your history, child.  And speak up, I can't abide mumbling."

Seating herself on the rickety stool the Aes Sedai gestured her in, Daraniea took a deep, calming breath. Adjusting her skirts slowly with care, she considered how to tell her tale. She wasn't sure what the Aes Sedai was looking for, so she shrugged silently to herself and began to speak. Her soft, husky voice still managed to somehow ring with the chiming lilt of the Cairhienin accent.


"I was born Daraniea Velaine Rysted, daughter of Tirith, Head of House Rysted. We are of inconsequential nobility, as my father would much rather doddle about the countryside than live the more exciting and useful life in the city."Unconsciously Daraniea reached her delicate hand to graze her abdomen where the one lonely stripe should be.


"An only child and heir to the House, I was taught both aspects of running an estate. During the days I was learning to run the House, how to entertain guests, and also spent many hours with a tutor, learning a rather exceptional education for my station in life. I was also taught the Great Game by my mother." At the mention of her mother, she felt her face soften and her voice take on a warm glow.


"She said it was the pillar of Cairhienin life, and that I should know it like I know myself. Until she died three years ago, I practiced with her relentlessly. During the evening hours I spent learning the more male aspects of the House. My father taught me riding and hunting. He showed me to keep the books and to balance ledgers. How to trade, and who our allies were. At first I never understood why I would be taught such things, as I had always assumed that my parents would both try to have a son; it was not until after my mother passed away did my father tell me that she had been sick for several years, and bearing more children had never been an option." Daraniea briefly closed her eyes to those sad memories, wishing there was a way to erase them from her mind.


"That is how I spent my childhood and adolescence. My Father loved my mother very much, and in his depression began to drink rather heavily. When we moved to the country he began to seclude himself more and more, only coming out in the night usually. I began to take over the dealings of the estate in earnest. It was a rather daunting thing, at the age of fourteen, to worry about food stores and keeping the House from growing broke." Suddenly, Daraniea's forehead pinched and her voice became much darker, thickly laced with anger and resentment.


"Recently, my father made a friend in a man named Elrick. He's old, pompous, and reeks of venom. But he somehow managed to entertain my father, and there was nothing I could do. That is up until just before I was discovered by an Aes Sedai. It began to occur to me that Elrick's lewd glances and greedy stares weren't directed at my surroundings, but at myself. It was soon after that I realized my father was going to marry me off to him."


"Since I wasn't about to let that happen, I had been planning my escape when an Aes Sedai showed up at our home one evening. And here I am. "


Taking a breath, Daraniea mentally shook off the rather forlorn memories of her absent childhood and her early rise to adulthood. It truly hadn't bothered her to miss out on anything, except having her mother near. Glancing up at the Aes Sedai almost defiantly, Daraniea waited quietly for her to speak, not quite mirroring the serene grace that faced her.




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As Daraniea told her tale, Cetaile felt a tiny bit of her heart go out to the young woman.  She could definitely identify with the loss of a mother, although in Cetaile's case, her mother had disowned her essentially and wanted nothing to do with her now. 


Although this Cairhienin girl was accustomed to more comforts than Cetaile, the path life had chosen for her would be no less hard.  She wondered if the girl realized that by time she was Aes Sedai and able to leave the Tower, her father would likely be dead as well.  She wondered which fate Daraniea would consider more cruel-- to marry a man thrice her age yet live in relative comfort with a family around her, or to have the power of an Aes Sedai, with no kin, no family, and no friends.  She didn't want to discourage the girl, but she needed to consider these things if she was to not waste her time (or the Tower's).


"A hard story, Light's truth.  I know a few harder, but not many.  I must do my duty to both you and the Tower by putting some hard questions to you,though.  You came here to escape this marriage, but do you realize that you must make a choice one way or another here?  If you stay and train to be Aes Sedai, your father's ill health will likely have him in his grave before you could possibly leave to see him again.  When you become a TRUE initiate of the Tower in your heart, you must put off the old allegiances and familial relationships you have held dear.  The Mistress of Novices burned your clothes you arrived here in as a symbol of that.  If you make it to the shawl, you will only have Saidar and your Ajah Sisters.  All your family and friends you once knew in Cairhien will die before you, and their children, and THEIR children.  Aes Sedai seldom marry, and even less frequently have a child.  Your husband is the Tower, your children are the people we serve.  So I ask you now, before the choice becomes any harder:  is it worth it to you?  Will you lose some to gain all?"


Cetaile was unaccustomed to making long speeches, her gruff voice was a bit breathless by the time she stopped speaking.  She knew it was a hard decision for the Novice to make, but she sat in silence to await the answer.



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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...

Daraniea was silent for long moments. The questions posed by her mentor were all incredibly fair questions, and not ones to be answered lightly or flippantly. She didn't want to misrepresent herself, but at the same time, the things she wanted at this moment weren't necessarily going to be the things that she wanted years from now. There were some things though she determined would never change. Organizing her thoughts, she spoke quietly.


"I realize the cost of becoming Aes Sedai. Since the only person who ever had any sort of positive effect on my life is dead, I am more than willing to pay that cost. What has my life thus far given me really, besides a rather jaded personal philosophy? I exist around these Novices here, shorter than all of them, though I feel years older. Old allegiance? Familial relations? My father made the decision to forsake all of that for an existence of dulled senses through drink. I choose to leave my past behind, and carve a new path out for myself. A path chosen by me, for me, and lived the way I want to live it, not the way a sotted parent would see me live it. When I make it to the shawl, Saidar and my fellow Sisters will already be more to me than what I have lived the last seventeen years. They will also be with me for centuries to come. I see the cost, but as you say, the gain...it will be worth it. I'll make it worth it."


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Cetaile smiled inwardly but kept her face smooth as Daraniea answered her.  My, but this one has some spunk in her! I actually might enjoy this mentoring thing...


"You speak truly and fairly, Daraniea.  I am glad you can see the sense in living your own life and not one your family would see you live.  It is a hard lesson to learn, and rare for one so young to understand.  Don't be surprised if you need several reminders along the way though; I still find myself tested on occasion by my ties to family and the salt, and it is sometimes as bitter a pill the thirtieth time as it was the first."


Cetaile shifted slightly on her seat, adjusting the lay of her green dress.  She turned her eyes back to the Novice.  "So. You say WHEN you attain the Shawl.  I admire your determination, and there are many obstacles yet for you to face, but I believe that strength of will can get you through most of those.  I know you are still rather new to the Tower, but have you thought of your future, what Ajah you might call home, any goals for after you are Aes Sedai?  If you have not thought on it, no matter.  You still have many years of hard work and learning to do so."



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