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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Research (Attn Carina & Accepteds)


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Loraine stared at the letter Edana had delivered long after she'd replied and sent the woman back to Kynwric. She read the words over and over and could only feel terror at the thought of the things he'd listed in his report. Odd animals along the Borders, movement of trollocs that just didn't sound normal... it just didn't sit well with her.

 

She sighed and set the report down, staring at the notes she'd jotted down from her discussion with Edana. More than her curiosity pulled her to her feet. She stashed the letters and notes in her drawer and set a weave on it before turning towards the door. There was nothing for it. Somewhere, there was information that could help her. That somewhere was usually the library.

 

She swept through the corridors, smiling and nodding her hellos to any she met on the way, accepting the bobbing curtsies of the Novices and Accepted she happened across, though she truly wished she could tell them to stop it. She sighed as she pushed open the door to the greatest library in the world and smiled, breathing it in. Kyn often teased her about why she'd chosen the Green over the Brown. He knew the answer, but claimed confusion about her love of books and her thirst for knowledge. He understood that sometimes knowledge was what kept your army alive when the others died at your feet. It didn't stop his teasing, though. Light, but I miss him! she thought as she moved towards the desk. He'll return faster if I can arm him with more information, she concluded, turning her smile on the first woman who looked her way.

 

~Loraine

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For the hundreth time, or so it felt, Carina settled her shawl back on her shoulders, wondering when this tightness to her skin would wear off. It had only been a week, but surely it can't stay much longer. The sisters had told her the tightness lasted for different times on each woman, so they couldn't give her a timeframe. Some had to endure it for three months! She could only hope that would not be the case with her. She sat at the simple, yet stirdy, wooden desk at the entrance to the Tower Library, calmly flipping over the pages of her book 'Creatures of the forrest'. She probably knew this book by heart, but it was one of her favorites and she indulged herself in it from time to time.

 

The door opened and a Sister came in. Carina was on her feet in an instant, unaware of her action and stood waiting for the Sister to speak her wish. She had seen this woman in the hallways from time to time. A Green. Loraine Sedai, if she remembered correctly. Loraine turned to her, smiling and Carina automatically dropped a curtsy, befitting an Accepted to Sister.

 

"Good morning, Aes Sedai" She spoke. "How may I assist you?"

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Loraine felt her eyebrow arch slightly and paused. "My name is Loraine," she said softly, not wanting to draw attention to the Sister standing before her. Her shawl was so new it was probably still stiff. "Your name is Carina, right? One of the perks of wearing that shawl, is that you don't have to keep tagging 'Aes Sedai' at the end of everything." She softened the gentle reminder with another smile.

 

She caught the title of the book in the Sister's hand and smiled. "I am searching for very specific information today and it looks like you're the perfect person to ask where I can find it. My warder is doing some scouting on a report we received from the Borderlands. His reports have become rather disturbing in reference to the animals and I need to know what he's up against. Any idea where I can find that sort of information?"  

 

~Loraine

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Carina gave a start at the reminder of her being a Sister now, but the red did not come to her cheecks as she saw Loraine smile. It had not been malicious and besides, a malicious person would have let her continue with the Aes Sedai'ing. She smiled back to Loraine and her eyebrows rose slightly at the mention of what she wanted to study.

 

"There are still many creatures from that area, especially those venturing in from the Blight, are still mostly a mystery, Loraine Se... " She caught herself, glancing up at the woman. "Loraine." She finished. It felt so odd! So unnatural! She grimaced unknowingly at the feeling of affrontery she had just given a Sister, yet she was Aes Sedai now too. She was a Sister. They were her equals now. Well, more or less. She didn't stand very high among them, being of average strength in the One Power as she was, but neither did she stand at the bottom. Like most, she was of average strength. Which still made the woman before her high above her in standing, feeling her strength. She crinched, then caught herself. That was another thing she would probably never get used to. From the second your name is entered into the Novice book, you are ordered - and regularly reminded without much any room for argument - that you were not to assess or even think of another woman's strength in the One Power. Not few novices and several Accepteds found their way to the office of the Mistress of Novices on even the smallest infraction against this order. No, the Tower did not take lightly to this one. And yet, it was one of two things her Head had told her before she was allowed to even leave the Brown quarters, let alone the Tower itself. It still confused her and made no sense to her, to be honest, but there you had it. The Sisters arranged themselves among each other based on their strength in the One Power. Those that had less deferring to those that had more. And yet, they had to uphold their Aes Sedai serenity and poise at all times, even while deferring, for none but those that wore the shawl were supposed to know of it.

 

Loraine stood patiently, waiting with that warm smile of hers, as Carina came out of her ponderings. She had to defer to this woman yet not as an Accepted. As an equal. She began to feel dizzy from that line of thought and decided to put it out of her head for now, to return to at a later time. For now, the friendly Green needed her assistance.

"What knowledge the Tower has of the creatures that have been spotted is located at the back of the next room," She said as she led the way to the farthest corridor in the library. "This area of the library has only recently been opened to me," she said, a smile bursting from her lips. Light! She wasn't going to turn into one of those women that wore their hearts on their sleeves, was she? Now, of all times. When she needed to, had to maintain the dignity and the serenity of a Sister! She caught Loiraine chuckle beside her and took heart at that. This line the Sisters were walking was finer, and sharper, than any razor's blade. When to let go, when to be in control, when to relax, when to tense. She shook her head. 'Another time' she reminded herself.

 

Reverently, she took the key from the pouch in her dress, a simple brown woolen frock, elegant of course, yet not anywhere near as regal as what Loiraine was wearing, though the beautiful Green didn't even seem to notice. That was odd, Greens always seemed to fuss over their appearance. She found herself starting to like this woman with growing intensity and took a hold on herself. Carina wasn't the type to just flaunder her affections around, or her friendship, latching it on whoever happened to pass her way. Suddenly she was suspicious. Why was this woman so friendly to her? She was no one of importance. Had no particular strength or held no particular position. Newly raised to the shawl, so fresh that she barely counted yet as more than just a step above Accepted. Raeyn had been quite clear on that. An aura of distant politeness draped itself over the young Sister, though she wasn't aware of it.

 

"As such," She continued, "I haven't had time yet to catch up on all that is stored here, but I think there are a few volumes on the travels from people, Sisters and other folk, that speak of them. If I remember correctly, they should be in one of the last rows." She opened the door to the area of the Library that was off limits to all but those wearing the shawl. As she stepped through, a globe of light appeard before her, floating in the air and she sent it to hover over their heads, illuminating a radius of several feet around her. It's fading light giving all beyond that radius an even older feel to it, as though shrouded in mystery and secret. Not an eery feeling though, a teasing tickle of a promise of what might be found beyond the reaching hands of the light. As Loraine stepped through Carina closed the door behind her and walked towards the end of the corridor. Lined on both sides, with rows upon rows of bookshelves. She was still in utter awe at the enormity of this chamber. Each row spaced from the row next to it with enough room to have several comfortable chairs and couches placed, spaced apart from each other just enough to allow it's occupants a certain amount of privacy. In the middle of each row, a perfectly polished table with four chairs was placed, for studying. No lamps hung here, for those that were allowed in here were supposed to be able to create their own light. The rows on either side stretched out so far that the ends of them almost passed beyond vision. That wasn't at all the same as a horizon in a field, of course, it was just an illusion. A trick of the mind caused by the shere imensity of being confronted with so many rows of books. They walked in silence towards the very end of the corridor and Carina turned into the last row to their left.

 

"Here is where I believe you might find some of what you are looking for." She said. Ah yes, there it was. Above one section of the bookhelf hung a plaque, naming the contense of the shelf in a flowing, fluent and elegant hand. 'Creatures from the Borderlands and the Blight' it declared. "You may want to start your search here, Loraine Seda..., Loraine." It was quite hard to get rid of a habbit that had been pounded into you for years. "These two rows hold volumes and transcripts specifically dedicated to the area you are interested in. Should you have any further need of assistance, please let me know. I will be in the main Library for several hours yet. The door will be open." Carina bobbed another curtsey and walked back through the corridor. Leaving Loraine, who had created her own globe of light, to her studies.

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Loraine knew the second Carina's thoughts turned down another path. She sighed inwardly, but didn't change so much as a fraction of her expression. It was sad that so many sisters feared letting others too close, especially others of a different Ajah. Perhaps she was getting old, but Lor couldn't see the point in it. The world beyond the Shining Walls cared not what color your shawl was. An Aes Sedai was an Aes Sedai, held to the same standards of knowledge and understanding. Sure, noble strove to learn the subtle differences, but it rarely ever turned out in a difference in how they treated you.

 

She smiled as Carina backed away, calling a soft "Thank you!" after her. She turned towards the shelves of books she'd indicated and sighed. The ball of light she'd created bobbed as she sank to the floor. Undignified, definitely not noble, but she cared not for any of that. She dug through the pages, scouring the text for information. She cursed at having forgotten pen and ink, but still spread the notes she'd taken and the letter from Kynwric out on the nearest table. It was short, little more than a few feet long and barely two wide. It was enough to hold the book, though, and that was what she needed.

 

After an hour, she sighed and closed her eyes. There was little more information in these records than what Kynwric had already supplied her with. She tucked the last book on the row up on the shelf and pulled off another. A few minutes into this one and her eye narrowed. She checked the title again, clicking her tongue as she wondered how this little bit of information could've been missed. It was a collection of tales of Artur Hawkwing and most of them referenced something odd. At last, oddly close to something Kyn had written. She tucked her notes in the book and snapped it shut, taking it with her as she moved back out of the corridor in search of Carina. Surely the woman would know more about...

 

She paused, watching the new Sister at work a moment. Would helping her get past the newness of her shawl take the air of distrust out of her shoulders? Loraine paused and watched her interact with a few people before moving closer. It was obvious she was happy about her position, but it was also obvious that she was uncomfortable with it when it came to other sisters in the library. After watching for a few minutes, she approached Carina again, intending to ask about the odd reference in the book.

 

~Loraine

 

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She shifted her weight on her chair again. Blasted Oaths. The front door of the library opened and a Sister entered. Rising smoothly, despite a persistent urge to crinche, Carine offered the woman a curtsey before thinking. She got a cold stare back for her trouble and the woman glided past her without a word or second glance. Scowling for a second she sat back down on her chair but then sighed in resignation. She'd probably offended the sister in some way or other. This line she had to walk felt decidingly inconvenient. Loraine was still in the back room. The Green had been all smiles and friendliness. Carina had still not gotten over her instant distrust of friendship offered too freely. It just didn't feel right to her. Friendship was a thing that build over time. Not something to be handed out to whomever happened to walk past. And yet, there hadn't been any deception in the woman's eyes. But Aes Sedai were reputed for their skill at the Great Game. Surely Loraine was no different. With a start she realised that now she too would have to at least act that way. Light!

 

The door opened again and another sister strode in. This time, Carina remained seated but offered the new arrival a gracefull -she hoped- nod.

"I need information on the laws of Saldea." The sister told her in a crisp voice. "Go and fetch me whatever writings there are on it. Only the currently used laws, mind. None of the stuff from the past. Quickly child!" Carina was up from her chair and halfway through the corridor towards the section that held the Nations' Laws and Regulations before she realised the woman had addressed her as an Accepted. Her cheeks flushed with a faint red, to her distinct horror but she couldn't push the feeling down and so it was a very bewildered Carina that emerged a few moments later with five volumes on Saldean Law. The sister cast her a dark glance, her look accusing Carina of bringing so many on purpose and for a heartbeat Carina thought she was going to be ordered to carry them for her. Instead, the woman turned, leaving Carina stand there with the books in her arms, strode out the door and returned two seconds later, dragging a wide eyed novice by the arm. "Take those and follow me" she commanded and instantly strode back out the door again. Carina handed the novice the books, the child almost buckled her knees under the weight but she still tried to curtsey to Carina. "Come along child, I don't have all day!" An angry voice drifted in from outside. Yelping the novice hurried out the door, precariously balancing the books atop her hands and arms.

 

Sighing Carina sat back down again. This was going to be a long day. She had barely resumed her reading as the door opened yet again. Not noticing Loraine approaching from the side, Carina lifted her head to see who it was this time.

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Loraine shook her head as she watched the front of the library clear out, then quietly approached the desk again. "I think she'd have found a single book waiting on the desk for her and me nowhere to be seen," she said softly, her eyes on the door the Gray Sister had disappeared through. She had to have been Gray with what she was asking and that horrible disposition. The thought made her smile and she turned back towards Carina. "You either have more patience than I am, or you're not comfortable giving fellow sisters an incredulous sniff and the cold shoulder. I'm glad she understood that you weren't her servant, though. I'd hate to have a battle royale with a Sister in a library."

 

Her fingers itched for the sword that swung on her hip while she was away from the Tower and sighed inwardly. The little emerald ball dangling from her hairline shifted as she tilted her head towards Carina. Memories of the early years of her shawl wearing days danced in her thoughts and she sighed inwardly. The Greens had it a little worse than the others, due to the extensive training that was heaped on them after they were raised and having to be accepted all over again at the end of it. She couldn't imagine the habits were easy for anyone to break, though. She leaned on the desk, not looking at Carina as she settled the book under her elbows. "The first year I was Aes Sedai, I spent most of it staring around waiting on someone to tell me it had been a mistake, that I was still Accepted and that all the time I'd spent working to fit in to my Ajah were a waste, since they really didn't want me. I kept my eyes down for most of that time, afraid I'd offend someone by not giving them the appropriate respect. At least if I was looking at the floor and not looking at them, I could claim not to have seen them and not choke to death on those oaths to do it."

 

"Then I realized something," she paused and looked up at Carina, then. "I realized that the Pattern wove me in just this way for a reason. It gave me this gift, it took my parents and my brother, it gave me Kynwric and it put me here for a reason. If I could accept that reason, whatever it may be, then everyone else was going to have to accept it, too. I feel my purpose is to be a thorn in the Dark One's side and take out as many of his followers as possible, so that the Last Battle is fought on our terms, with the scales tipped towards our side. I know I'm not the only one in this Tower who believes that way and I have to accept that everyone else here is fighting the same fight that I am, just in their own way. Once you accept that, and you carry yourself as if you have accepted it, the rest just sort of falls in place."

 

It hadn't hurt that she was particularly strong for an Aes Sedai, either. Or that Kynwric's brooding gaze was rarely far from her side, even before she bonded him. Her smile returned at that. "What's your purpose, Carina? Light send it's not to cowtow to every shawl that walks in that door..."

 

~Lor

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Carina listened silently to what Loraine told her, recognising parts of it and finding herself wondering what answer would fit that last question. Of course it wasn't to cow before every Sister! Her mouth twitched irritably at the mention of it but she worked on keeping her posture calm and serene. It still took effort, that. What was her purpose? She turned her gaze inward and looked over her life, her passions, her dreams. Once she had wanted to become a Ranger, to defend the borderlands against Trolloc invasions and other Shadowspawn. She had long since come to terms with the reality that this would never be now. But that didn't mean she'd have to give up her dream all together. Did it? Fighting the Shadow was something every Sister claimed, each in her own way and using her own focus. What was hers?

 

"My purpose, Loraine?" She replied, looking the Green in the eyes. Not confrontational, but no longer as a subbordinate either. "My purpose, I suspect, is the same of that of every other Sister from any of the seven Ajahs. To fight the Shadow in whatever form or way I can. My focus lies in gathering and spreading information and knowledge that needs to be known and must be used towards that goal. Be it small, big, directly or indirectly. That is my purpose." At least, that was part of her purpose. She didn't add that she would seek out and work towards the erratication of any Darkfriends that might be hiding within Tower Grounds. It was illogical to assume there would be none in Tar Valon just because the White Tower was there. She had mentioned the seven Ajahs for a reason, leaving out an eight, secret one. One that no Sister would acknowledge publically. Carina had never been one to shy from the reality of things, even if they horrified her. Ignorance could not, should not, be accepted in any Aes Sedai and voluntary ignorance was beyond what she could understand. The Tower needed it's Sisters strong, prepared, informed and well armed with knowledge and insight. Not cowering in corners at the mere hint of something they so much want to deny existence of.

 

As her mind worked through those thoughts Carina's posture grew more prominent. Her back straightened, her head came up and her eyes took on a determination that had been slumbering for a while. It had only come out at those occasions where either her life or her sanity were at stake. Now it rose as part of her and it was as if a new aura surrounding the young Sister.

 

"You fight your fight against the Shadow with weaves and swords, Loraine." She said, smiling freely and honestly. "I will make sure you have the information and knowledge needed to maximise your chances of survival. Together, we will stand against the Dark One and his minions and we will hold them back. Whatever the cost." There was no question, no doubts, in her voice. Her smile lit up her eyes and she was greatfull to this beautiful woman for reminding her of herself.

 

"As for confronting other Sisters." She continued, allowing a light frown to show on her brow, "These habbits seem rather persistent. I know it is not a thing to be talked about, but I find myself rather dizzy balancing this line of acting like a Sister and deferring to those stronger than me. After a week, I haven't had much practice yet in showing deference while being in charge." She ponders those words and then laughed. "Light! I don't even know how to name it!"

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Loraine's grin broadened as Carina's back straightened and the light of determination blazed behind in her eyes. She'd have made an excellent Green, though she doubted the woman would've appreciated the sentiment. She'd save it for later, either way.

 

She shook her head and moved to drag a chair close to the desk, dropping the volume she'd pulled from the shelf onto the top of the desk with a heavy thunk and settling in. She arranged her skirts, meticulously pressing any creases out. She sighed when she noticed what she was doing and looked up at Carina. It would've been impossible for the young Sister not to notice. "At my parents' funeral, I had to sit next to my grandfather. He was a horrible man, the only son of the High Seat of Kilaine in Cairhien. He was teething on the Great Game from birth, I'm afraid, always making deals and maneuvering situations to suit him. My father, on the other hand, didn't care a wit for any of that. He loved books. As soon as he was old enough, he left home and struck out on his own. He met my mother here in Tar Valon." She smiled, her expression growing wistful. Her brother had told her this story many times as they'd laid in the dark of the nursery. What happy days those were! "She was very beautiful and her smile was always ready for whatever joke he'd throw her way. She was a runaway from the Tower, though Sirayn told me later that it was very likely she'd have been put out not long after she left, anyway. She wasn't terribly strong with saidar, you see. She'd come across my mother in the city, but Mother got away before Sirayn could catch her. My father fell in love with her almost immediately and they were married very soon after that. She was enamoured that a nobleman would notice her, at all, much less be so terribly lovable that she couldn't fight him off the way she had the others."

 

She paused and smiled, then shook her head and turned her eyes back to Carina. "My grandfather didn't like her, didn't approve of the marriage and threatened to disown my father. His only saving grace was that he wasn't the oldest son of House Kilaine and would probably never sit in the Seat. Times being what they were, however, my grandfather watched each of his sons pass away before his eyes. When my older brother was ten, they set off to bring him to the Tower to train. I'm pretty sure it was my grandfather's idea." She shook her head. "They never made it here."

 

She paused, flicking her eyes over the almost empty library. "I was all that was left. I was six when they died. By the time I was ten, I was the Heir to my grandfather's Seat, the last living relative of House Kilaine. It irked him, but the moment that stands out most in my head is my parents' funeral. He'd had the gown made quickly, so it didn't fit me very well and, in my grief, I didn't care a bit for the wrinkles I was causing in my skirts when I sat down on the bench beside him. He chided me, at first, and I tried to believe that he was trying to distract me from my grief. But when my hands started clenching around my skirts, he grew belligerent, telling me not to make a scene. And when I didn't stop, he slapped me. Right there in front of a crowded church and right in front of my parents' coffins. He ranted that his son had done him a great disservice and that he couldn't believe what a milksop he'd been strapped with raising. He stormed out of the church before the funeral had barely begun, leaving me sitting there by myself with my creased skirts and flaming cheek."

 

She ran her fingers lightly down her skirts and lifted the corner of her lip in a smile. "To this day, I can't stand my skirts to be wrinkled. I don't have to think about it, I just press the creases out while I'm sitting here. Old habits are the hardest ones to break, especially when they've been beaten into you for so long." She smiled, then, the hesitant smile replaced by a devilish grin. "Do you know how I beat him? I knew he needed me. I knew he relied on me for the future of our family. Everyone else was dead and it left him with me, his most hated heir. It galled him, knowing I would inherit his Seat and he tried training me for it. I was a dutiful heir and I learned it all, which only served to gall him more."

 

Loraine smirked and tapped the book on the desk. "You have the same power here, Carina. I need something from you, as does everyone else who walks into this library. Without it, we will fail. Let that be your confidence, let that be your guide. You hold the key to unlocking the trials we will soon face and if they cannot respect you for it, they apparently don't need as badly as they think they do."

 

~Lor

;) poor little rich girl. *laughs*

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Carina nodded at the end of Loraine's story, understanding fully now what the Green was saying and agreeing with it. 'Yes' she thought, 'She's right. I may have been just Accepted before and I may not be as powerful in the Power as some, but I am Aes Sedai now and strength in the Power isn't the be all and end all of being Aes Sedai. A Power without direction, knowledge, insight or wisdom is nothing more than a random tool in the hands of the first thug on the street. The One Power in the hands of an untrained, ignorant mind was as dangerous to the world as the minions of the Shadows themselves. It could not be allowed in Aes Sedai and she would see that they had that knowledge, if not the wisdom. For no amount of teaching could direct a person's character or the choices she would make. But that too was knowledge. The knowledge of people, for Aes Sedai, though thought off by many as larger than life, did not stop being human. They did not magically step away from all the weaknesses other people had. Their character and personality did not suddenly change upon taking up the shawl. Knowing which Sister had what inclination was as valuable, if not more, as knowing what threads of Power would create which weaves and to what results.

 

"My thanks, Loraine. I must say," she grinned at the Sister, "I didn't expect that one of the Green would care enough for a Brown to help her as you did me. What's in it for you?" Immediately as the words left her mouth, she gasped slightly, shocked at her own forwardness. Light! The woman brought out quite a side of her! She started to appologise, but then decided not to. Something told her that this one might appreciate boldness. She waited, curious to the reaction that would come. 'Might as well start gathering the knowledge on this person already' She thought with a little mischievous amusement. Carina was greatfull that no one had been around them to hear their conversation though. It would be quite shamefull to face them if they had. Much as it galled her, she had to accept the nature of humans and that nature included that they responded to what they observed. Much more than to what lay beneath the surface. Aes Sedai no different from others.

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"I didn't expect that one of the Green would care enough for a Brown to help her as you did me. What's in it for you?" Loraine felt her eyebrow arch, though the felt the verbal slap all the way through her. She doubted Carina meant it that way, but it struck home, nonetheless. The eyebrow was all she'd allow to show.

 

She turned her eyes around the library, looking at the various people sitting around in knots or alone with their research. "I don't remember much about my father, but I do remember he always said that two heads were better than one." She shrugged, her eyes still elsewhere and the book folded in her lap.

 

"Do you know what they're all doing wrong?" She pointed around at the different groups, separated at tables, not talking to each other. The colors of their skirts and the little details of their dresses giving away their Ajahs and the other groups of Novices and Accepted all huddled over their assignments. "They're all looking for the same things. Look at them!"

 

She turned her eyes back to Carina, the deep blue boring into the new Brown's. "They don't realize that if they would just forget, for one minute, the specifics that brought them to the library today, and remember that we're all on the same side of this fight, they'd find our work cut in half. We..." She sighed. It was the mother in her coming out, though she'd cut out her tongue before she admitted it. She was older than most of the women in this library. Maybe too old for this. "We're making this harder than it has to be, is all."

 

"What's in it for me? My warder comes home safe. My husband comes home safe." The last was little more than a whisper. "And so do my Sisters. The Light wins, the Dark One is locked back his prison..." my sons grow old and give me grandsons who grow up to bring laughter back to House Kilaine... She sighed

and dropped her eyes with the unspoken words from her heart. "What if you're the key, Carina? Can any of us afford to take advantage of the color of our shawls to treat each other differently?"

 

 

~Loraine

 

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Carina listened silently. She always had seemed to bring out stuff in the novices and accepteds that the girls did not want to reveil at first but were relieved to share at least with someone. Automatically she slipped into the same role now, though had her mind registered it she might have been shocked at it. To the outside world she looked exactly what she should be, a Sister having a nice quiet conversation with another Sister. To Loraine, however, she was a shoulder, a sound board, a non-judgemental listener to that which the woman had need to speak of. Carina nodded at the right times and mimicked Loraine's body language fluently, silently empowering the woman and acknowledging her sorrow. For there could be no doubt, this was a person in pain. Torn between duty and heart and if Carina was not mistaken, the bearer of a burden that seemed to weigh heavily on the Green.

 

Now, Greens were used to carrying all sorts of burdens of course. What with their constant search for battles to fight and shadowspawn to slay. But Carina couldn't help but feel that this was a burden of a different type. More personal, somehow. She shook her head slightly, unable to figure it out and unwilling to intrude upon the woman's privacy. They needed a lighter tone, give Loraine some time to collect herself before others would notice. Somehow Carina didn't think the Green cared much for what others thought of her, but it wouldn't do to have Accepteds or worse, novices start flapping their tongues as they were prone to do.

 

"Me? The key?" Carina replied, chuckling slightly. She looked at Loraine, a glistering of amusement in her eyes. "If I'm the key of anything, Loraine, it's more likely to be of some musty old storeroom somewhere in the deepest dungeons of the Tower." She rose and bade Loraine to follow. "I think we've been cooped up in this library long enough, don't you? Let's have some tea in the garden, where we can continue our conversation without worrying that we might disturb someone's need for quiet." 'And where you may find a measure of protection against prying eyes and ears' she added in thought. This was as good a time as any to put her new found status to some good use, she gathered and called one of the Accepteds in the library over to the desk.

 

"Take these books up to Loraine Sedai's quarters and hand them over to Kynwric Gaidin." she told the girl in a clear and no-nonsense voice.

 

Turning towards Loraine, she smiled, holding out a hand in invitation. "Shall we?"

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Loraine shook her head inwardly at the shift in Carina's posture and could tell by the invitation to get out of the library that she'd picked up the fact that she was hiding something. She smiled and got to her feet, watching the Accepted scurry out with her armload of books. "Oh, Kyn will love that," she said softly, laughter dancing in her tone. "I can almost hear him now. She couldn't bring them back, herself? Light help, but I'm going to restrict her to only the books she can carry herself! He swears I should've been a Brown, myself." She paused and laughed. "Then I blow something up and he shuts up."

 

She let the mood change, happy for the distraction. They entered the gardens and she took a deep breath to inhale the familiar scents. Without thinking, her steps took her along familiar routes to the little niche that had become her garden. She'd adopted it as a Novice when she wanted to hide from extra chores and practice her weaves and as she'd grown older, she'd taken to collecting flowers from her travels and adding them here. She smiled and brushed petals that were just a breath from dying for the winter. "Do you know how hard it is to keep these alive when you're running from a fist of trollocs along the Borderlands?" she asked, her fingertips caressing the petals of a bright white, star shaped flower that was growing on a trellis she'd bullied Kyn into building. It was an elaborate work of art and it made her smile to see it again. He'd grumbled, then outdone what she'd asked him to do. She prayed that never stopped.

 

"It's no easy feat, let me tell you. I nearly lost her once. I took the head of the trolloc that caused that."  She grinned and looked back at Carina. "If I was as good a Green as some of my predecessors, his head would be buried just under it, helping nourish it from the roots up!"

 

~Loraine

 

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"I doubt a Trolloc's head would be much nourishment for anything that lives under the Light, Sister" Carina said, smiling. Her mind was with the poor Accepted she'd sent off to face that sour looking Warder of Loraine's. She hadn't thought of that! Light, he wouldn't harm the girl, would he? She didn't know the man but he always looked as though he had some sort of indigestion. How Loraine could speak of that one with such adoration, well she was still Green so no doubt she saw something others missed.

 

Putting the fool man out of her head she focussed on the garden and was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of plantlife that thrived there quite harmoneously together. The little garden was almost overflowing, which said something about Loraine's many travels. What had brought her back to the Tower? She didn't seem the type to be content being cooped up here, with all the politicking and playing of the Great Game. It was said that no one played the Game better than Cairhienen, but it was the White Tower that invented it in the first place. She much preferred staying away from all that, though. Life was complicated enough without them adding problems to it.

 

"How do you keep them during the journey?" She asked curiously. Some of these plants she didn't recognise but others she knew would die if plucked within a day. There must be some weave involved that she hadn't come across yet.

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Loraine smiled and shrugged lightly. "It's not big thing, really. I never pick them, I always bring the whole root system back with me. I made the mistake a few times of not getting it all and the poor dears died, even with my Keeping weaves on them. A simple bubble of Air, Water and Spirit will hold them until I can get them back here, though sometimes packing that weave in something gets a little interesting."

 

She looked over her shoulder and smiled. "Most of my trips have not been horrible battles. Some are just making rounds to check on Eyes and Ears who haven't been heard from in a while or making sure the lines are holding in the Borderlands. Those aren't usually trips that involve a lot of crazy rushing about, so I can take my time and take care of my charges on the way home." She moved to the little bench that stood along one line of flowering plants and smiled as she settled on it. "My mother's garden was a refuge for me before I came here. I did my best to keep it up after she died. When I came here," she shrugged and laughed. "Sometimes it felt like I traded my mean old grandfather for a whole host of them! Only these mean old grandfathers were actually Aes Sedai! Chores and classes and more chores... sometimes I just needed the break. And sometimes, I still do!"

 

~Lor

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Carina shook her head. "You sure aren't like any of the Sisters I've met up till now, Loraine." She said, not unkindly and took a seat next to the Green. "Do you not agree with them that there must be some level of mystique surrounding the White Tower and it's occupants? Sad as it may be, people do respond to those signs unfortunately. How do you judge when to be just you and when to uphold the image of an Aes Sedai? Several tried to explain it to me, but I must confess, it's still quite a puzzle to me how to balance two seemingly different sides of oneself. Like, for instance," She took part of her dress between her fingers and gave it a tug "these dresses. I'm forced to wear these when I much prefer breeches. These things are decidingly inconvenient when walking through forests, you know. What's up with this whole 'got to look the part' thing? I thought Sisters gained the respect and reverence from people because they were Aes Sedai. Not because they wore fancy cloths. And yet, I was told in no uncertain terms that I better not 'defile the image of an Aes Sedai'. From a Brown. Seriously. What's up with that?" She tsk'd at the dress as though it was all it's fault and kicked the skirt for good measure too.

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Loraine smiled and settled in the grass. A VERY un-Aes Sedai-like thing to do, especially at her age. "Maybe it's age," she laughed. "When I was newly raised, I was very worried about everything. Would I be kicked out of the Greens because I was too much like a Brown? Would my status as High Seat of House Kilaine interfere with my ability to do my duty to the Tower? Would my love for my warder threaten my oaths and my vow to defend the Light from the Shadow?"

 

She shrugged and picked grass from her skirts. "Then I realized something. I nearly died before I did, but that's the way of these things, I guess. I realized that me laughing isn't going to change my ability to lift my sword to the Dark One. I realized that my choice in clothes had absolutely nothing to do with my ability to fight shadow spawn." She turned her laughing gaze back towards Carina. "My skirts nearly got me killed a dozen times before that. I'm not sure what it was about that last time that made me realize that going into certain battle with three layers of under-skirting was suicide."

 

She eyed the flowers again and sighed. "If I learned nothing growing up it's that there's a time and a place for everything. There's a time for flowers to bloom and a time for them to whither. There's a time for swords and a time for books. There's a time for skirts and a time for breeches. Sword forms are torture in skirts." She laughed again and shook her head. "I say if you want to take a walk in the woods, you should wear whatever's comfortable for that. I have a nice long cloak if you'd like to borrow it?"

 

~Lor

*wicked grin*

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Carina burst out laughing. She couldn't help it. Light, but this Green was an odd ball! "I'll keep the cloak in mind, Sister" She managed between two laughing fits, the visual of her stalking through the Tower, in a green cloak trying to hide her breeches from unwanted eyes. She never got in trouble as a novice or accepted and now, it seems that she might just end up in trouble as Aes Sedai if she listened to this woman too much. Chuckling she shook her head at the mischievous grin on Loraine's face.

 

So how did she do it? Carina guessed age did have something to do with it. The Light only knew how she would be if she had over a hundred years to her name. She still couldn't fantom that though. Some, very few Sisters lived as much as up to three hundred years. Three hundred! Unbelievable. She supposed if she ever lived that long that she will stop carrying about 'upholding the Aes Sedai image' too. But Loraine wasn't that old yet, so how did she do it? How did she manage to balance out when to be Aes Sedai to her toenails and when to be Lor the woman that happened to be Aes Sedai?

 

Carina sat in silence, musing over her thoughts, not quite registering that she might be acting as a bad companion that was neglecting the person she was supposed to pay attention to.

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Loraine watched Carina's mind work, content to imagine the play of confusion dance in her head. It was a balancing act that took years to perfect, something very few Aes Sedai ever managed. Most of them lost themselves in what it meant to be Aes Sedai, holding their honor as Aes Sedai closer than their love of life. Kynwric was the magic key for her there, though as love so often was. She could hardly tell this woman to go find herself a warder to love, though. It wasn't as easy for most as it had been for she and Kynwric. Something she'd thanked the Light for every morning of the last fifty years!

 

She sighed inwardly and ran a fingertip over the petal of a nearby flower. "Kynwric," she said softly. "He's exasperating and he broods so much that most Aes Sedai in this Tower think I'm insane for bonding him, much less marrying him. He's different when we're away from here, though. He's caught up in the whole image of an Aes Sedai, too, I think. He defers to me much less when we're not here and it changes his confidence. He's my equal and we both know it. We've saved each other's lives and we've danced under the stars and..." she shrugged and laughed. "and he actually loves it more the less like an Aes Sedai I act. He finds it funny that I am uncomfortable putting my elbows on the table or that I think showing my ankles is scandalous. When I get too stuffy, he picks on me about something until I loosen up and stop taking myself so seriously."

 

She smiled back up at Carina. "That's my secret. It's hard to be stuffy and keep to the rigid impressions of Aes Sedai when you've a man that you love teasing you for correcting him on which fork he's using to eat his dinner."

 

~Loraine

oooo sappy post...

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  • 10 months later...

Carina listened and nodded, remembering her husband in Malkier. Of course she never married before coming to the White Tower, and the man she remembered may very well just be a figment of her imagination brought to life when stepping through the Arches, but the memory still felt real to this day. She doubted she would end up with a warder though, much less a husband. Sisters didn't usually up and marry people. Except Greens, but then... they're .... Greens. There was still something tugging her concerning Loraine though. Something constantly brushed but never quite spoken. What was this woman hiding? Hold on... She looked over at Loraine.

 

"That may be one of your secrets, but hardly the biggest one. You sound like a woman with a dream for a family, instead of a life as Aes Sedai. Do you regret the path you took in this life?" It was a bold, and perhaps even rude, question. Carina had a feeling however, that this woman appreciated boldness and it was rather nice being able to let go of the Wheels of Tact and Manipulation, as she jokingly calls the roundabout manner in which Sisters usually talk and interact with people. Or at least, that's how they've always come across to her. She had lost not few nights of sleep worrying if she'd ever be able to adapt that manner.

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Loraine felt oaths cinch her torso like a corset that was way too tight and had to look away. Did she long for a family? Sort of. A family she already had, that is. What she longed for was the ability to acknowledge them to one and all. Her pride and joy. Duty had brought her back here, but not before spending a few decades getting comfortable as a farmer's wife. She looked around her and nearly snorted in derision. Quite a far cry from the lot she found herself in now.

 

She sighed deeply and knew Carina wasn't going to let it go without an answer. Unfortunately, it was an answer she couldn't give her. "Sometimes," she said softly. "Sometimes I try to imagine what my life would've been like, had Sirayn never shown up on my door. I'd have married one of those sops courting my grandfather's favor, born children that had to be taught The Game to such a degree that I would fear for their lives every second. It's those thoughts that make me glad my life turned the way it did." Notwithstanding all the horrors she'd borne since gaining the shawl. She laughed softly and looked back at Carina. "I was doomed one way or the other, you see? I may as well have sacrificed just myself on the altar of the Tower, rather than sentencing my children to dancing that fine line between life and death with every breath."

 

"Do you ever think about it?" She asked softly, a stark contrast to Carina's direct questioning.

 

 

~Loraine

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Ooc: I find it amusing that Miahna listened to Loraine and Carina talk in the Garden when they were Sitters and she was a novice, and as an Accepted, she’s running into them when Carina has barely gained the shawl. However, since we retcon things that happen as novice and Accepted, I suppose it’s nothing to worry about. Just makes me chuckle.

 

Also, thanks for letting me join. Though Mystica has agreed to teach a class to Miahna using Carina, it’s nice to be able to rp with you too.

 

---

 

“Off you go!” The Mistress of the Kitchens said, waving her hand in a dismissing fashion. She turned on her heel and stomped off toward a new crop of novices, their dresses a brilliant whites and their eyes as big as the saucers they would clean later.

Wiping her hands on a soft rag that sat to the side, Miahna surveyed her handiwork. Today, she’d been assigned the task of plate arrangement. Apparently certain Aes Sedai were very picky about how the food on their plate was presented. Everything looked scrumptious and pretty. She replaced the lids and rang a bell that sat on the corner of the station. An older novice rounded the corner and picked up two of the trays. The woman had been in white longer than Miahna had been alive, but she still did her chores and classes daily. She nodded to the Accepted and walked off toward the Gray quarters.

 

Singing a tune mostly under her breath, Miahna walked to the gardens. It was a lovely day outside and she needed to practice Earth weaves, so why not make use of the sun? Those were two things that never got old about wearing the banded dress: being able to channel the Source at her discretion and having the ability to create her own schedule and thus be outside more often. The Arafellin felt connected to the outdoors and could get surly if she didn’t breathe enough fresh air.

 

The flowers were in full bloom, as always, and the air was filled with various delicate scents. A slight breeze ruffled through Miahna’s braided hair and set the silver bells in her hair to tinkling. Exploring a little, Mimi took a path that looked mostly unused. The plants had joyously started to regain their dominance over the foot treads, though some broken stalks suggested that someone had traveled the path recently. Stepping over the grass that attempted to serve as a barrier, she followed the tracks of those that had come before her.

 

A small niche laid ahead, two women occupying the place. Two Aes Sedai by the look of it, though one of the Sisters was sitting on the grass. They looked deep in conversation, though the murmurs stopped as they noticed Miahna standing there. Light, I hope they aren’t too terribly upset at me for barging in on their private conversation. Wincing slightly at the interruption, the Accepted curtsied and said a soft general hello. Managing not grit her teeth, blush, or do any of the number of physical reactions that were her normal reflex, Miahna merely clasped her hands behind her back and apologized to the Sisters.

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Carina wasn't fooled. Loraine was struggling with something and that something was strong enough to hold the powerful Green in it's clutches. She didn't push though, the very idea of that not even entering her mind.

 

"All the time" Carina replied to Loraine's question. "All I ever dreamed of was to become a Malkier Ranger. But when the Mistress of Novices told me I was a novice, that was it for that life for me. Still, I think I've gotten the better deal in life. As Aes Sedai I can do so much more than I would have been able to as a ranger." She didn't mention her arches' husband, of course, though she still wondered if it had been real.

 

She sensed the girl before she heard her and both their heads turned at the exact same moment that Miahna emerged from the bushes. The girl flushed and curtsied deeply, which made Carina look around and settle her eyes on Loraine. Her mind still not registering that the curtsey had been for her as well. Loraine gave her a smirking look before addressing the girl.

 

"What is your name child and what are you doing here?"

 

Carina was too busy fighting down the blushes that were threatening to overtake her cheecks yet again to pay much attention to the conversation. 'This Sedai business is decidingly inconvenient!' She thought furiously and immediately rebuked herself for being ungreatful and disrespectful to sisters. Which didn't do much good for her already sollemnly confused brain.

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"What is your name child and what are you doing here?" One of the Aes Sedai said. It looked like she had grinned at the other Sister before turning to Miahna, but that couldn’t be right, could it? The Arafellin had never seen an Aes Sedai grin except for perhaps a small wry one when a novice or Accepted did something for which they needed a punishment. The whole lot of them either grinned or frowned, or both, when it came to something like that.

 

Light! They’re definitely going to be upset. From the sadness in their eyes – the only place on their faces with any emotion – it was evident that it had been a very private and intense conversation. Mimi flushed and gulped before stating her name at the Aes Sedai’s request. “Miahna Telonne,” she said almost timidly, though the quietness of the garden carried her voice well. It wasn’t as if she were standing across a field; it was a scant two feet or thereabouts.

 

“I apologize for intruding Aes Sedais. I was merely looking for a private type place to practice making some weaves, particularly Earth as I’m not very strong in that element and so I figure I’ll have to work at it twice as hard. Air is like a piece of cake, just as is Spirit – which is surprising due to how complex it seems. But the intricacies aren’t really that difficult once you get into it, you just have to pay a bit more attention to how you’re making the shield, or whatever it is that you’re making…” the girl with the banded hem trailed off as she realized that she’d been rambling. To Aes Sedai. That she had interrupted.

 

“Oh my! I’m so sorry to have bothered you Aes Sedai.” She cringed and clasped her hands in front of her, awaiting her punishment for wasting the Sisters time. It could have been worse, she thought, trying to cheer herself up, I could have had to deliver the trays to the Gray quarters. Whatever these two give me will surely be no worse than that!

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Loraine nodded and looked around the garden. "You picked a beautiful place for it. Earth happens to be a specialty of mine." She eyed Carina quietly, tilting her head towards Miahna with a questioning look. "Want to help the poor child out, Carina Sedai?"

 

She added the title with a smile, knowing Carina would pick up on her use of it and the reason behind it. "I haven't toyed with basic weaves in a while..."

 

~Loraine

sorry this is short, my head is killing me... :(

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