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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

"The Way of the Leaf" -- A Tinker's Song


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As an after thought, you might want to post "Hi" one time.  After that, each time someone posts you will see it in your "replies".  Just an idea...thought I'd share it.

 

End edit.

 

If any of you have read many of my posts in the past, you might have noticed that I am fond of the Traveling People in the WOT series.  I truly believe that RJ included them for some reason other than the obvious balance for the modern-day Aiel.  Since the discussion group is to be removed from DM, please feel free to use this thread as a site to release your inner Tinker.  Please try to keep it non-violent...there are other threads here for that kind of releasing.  Song and dance are always welcome at the Tuatha'an fires along with good food and conversation.  Relax.  Kick off your shoes.  Join the peaceful, vegetarian mood.  Stick some flowers in your hair.  The two-fingered "V" peace sign is optional.  ;)

 

Enjoy yourself.

Love,

Gramps

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Clop.

Clop.

Clop.

Clop.

 

The rhythm was almost hypnotic.

 

Clop.

Clop.

Clop.

Clop.

 

How many hours had passed?

 

Clop.

Clop.

Clop.

Clop.

 

Sometimes it was hard to stay awake.

 

Clop.

Clop.

Clop.

Clop.

 

"Jake?"

 

The voice from the small window beneath his seat brought Jake out of his trance and back to the real world.  His bottom ached.  His legs were asleep.  He could barely feel the reins in his hands.  He was sure that if he had a mirror that he would see red, tired eyes staring blankly back at him.  Although his mouth was dry and his tongue didn't want to work properly, he attempted to answer.

 

"Yes..."

He had to clear his throat.

"Ahem..."

"Yes, mother.  What is it?"

 

"Your father is starting to look better, son.  Please signal the others that we should stop for a while."

 

"OK, mother...I will."

 

Giving a sharp whistle to get their attention, Jake raised his hat high above his head and waved it back and forth several times to let the People in the wagon in front of him know that he needed to stop.  When Erina turned and saw him, she urged her brother Tip, their driver, to pull over.  Jake stood and turned to face the wagon behind him.  After repeating the signal to them, he tugged the reins to lead his team to the shoulder of the path that they had been following.

 

Clop.

Clop.

Clop.

Clop.

 

"Whoooaaa."

 

As Jake tugged on the reins, the horses instinctively halted and shook off the boredom that they had endured during their work.  They stood patiently waiting for their next command.  A well trained team knew what was expected.  Proper behavior earned satisfying rewards.  These fine animals had worked together long enough that they could pull the wagon through almost any kind of terrain under any weather conditions and deliver their passengers safely to the next camp site day after day after day.  They were worth their weight in hay.

 

Jake climbed down from the driver's seat and jumped to the ground.  At the ripe old age of seventeen, he was almost skilled enough to have a wagon of his own.  That is what he would do when the time was right.  For now, he removed the steps from their hooks and attached them below the door.  By the time he had dipped up a ladle of water from the barrel, his mother was at the door waiting for it.  Erina and Tip appeared along with their parents.

 

"Is Jon doing well, Trisha?" Torrey asked.  Being the "father" for his wagon, that was his place.  It would have been impolite for one of the others to inquire with their father present.  Even his wife Remy remained silent which was not part of her nature.  She practically squirmed from the effort, but she did not speak.

 

"I am well as rain." Jon answered over Trisha's shoulder.  She turned to face him with a concerned look on her face but he placed a reassuring hand gently on her shoulder and tried to smile.  His face was still pale with fire-red patches on his cheeks.  The fever might be better, but he did not appear to be totally himself yet.

 

"Jon Jonsten...you will march yourself right back over to that bed this very instant!!!" Trisha demanded.  "Just because you can stand for more than a few seconds without falling down does not mean that I am finished with my healing of you!!!  Now get over there and lay down!!!  Before I have Erina fetch me a switch!!!"  Trisha tried very hard to be stern...that was not within her nature, either.

 

Jon gave his best grin then waved to his onlookers.

"OK."

"OK."

"I guess a few more moments rest will be OK."

He turned and semi-staggered back toward his bed.

 

Jake was not as worried about his father as he had been a couple of days earlier.  Back then, he was not so sure that he would still have a father by today.  The fever had hit suddenly and hard.  The otherwise strong and gentle man had become delirious and almost violent.  It took several of the neighbors to get him into the wagon and even more of the women to force him to take his medicine.  He claimed that they were trying to poison him with the awful tasting stuff.  But, now it appeared that all would be well again.  Time would tell the tale.

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Erina tried to steal away without anyone noticing.  It was getting harder to be near Jake each day.  She longed to tell him how she felt about him.  It was pure torture to be so close to him and not to have him know that she loved him to the deepest depths of her heart.  She couldn't stay while he unhitched the horses from his father's wagon.  That would only make her wish all the more that it was their wagon...his and hers...that he was making ready for the evening's camp.

 

Being all of sixteen years old, she was quickly approaching the time when her mother would declare that she was available.  Possibly even as soon as the next celebration of the rebirth of the year.  Or, maybe when they gathered with some other band of Travelers.  That could be truly disastrous.  There might be some other young women in those other wagons who might catch Jake's attention and steal him away from her!  She could be running out of precious time.

 

For what must have been the thousandth time recently, she considered being as bold as a Maiden of the Spear and simply walking straight up to him and getting the whole matter out into the open.  Spill the beans.  Tell the tale.  Let him know flat out that he was to be her man.  Period.  No arguments.  That's how it was to be whether he wanted her or not.  And that's what stopped her.  The "or not".

 

What if he didn't love her back?  What if she had misread his feelings toward her?  Could she be wrong?  Was it possible that he only LIKED her?  What about those long walks together?  What about the gentle way that he whisked her bangs out of her eyes?  And the way that he gazed so deeply into her eyes while they sat chatting together at the campfire...how could she be misinterpreting that?

 

She had gotten so involved in her thoughts that she lost track of where she had been scurrying off to.  In a sudden moment of realization, she found herself lost.  She had no idea whatsoever of which way the wagons were.  The woods seemed to close in around her.  Her normal confidence in the wide open spaces was replaced by a fear that she had not felt since she was a very young child.  Each moment multiplied that affect.  In no time at all, she felt herself becoming panic stricken.  A foot step taken in one direction was quickly replaced by another in the opposite one.  She darted undecided first one way then the other.  This was really bad.

 

Just as the tears were welling up and about to explode, she heard a rustling sound coming from the brush.  With all of her heart she hoped that it was one of the dogs and not a wolf or a bear.  If she did end up having to run, she had no idea which direction to go and she had no desire to be more lost than she already was.  Just as she was about to sit down to accept her fate, she heard Jake's voice calling her name from where the noise had been.  She wouldn't have to die today.  And she definitely was not going to run.

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"Man.  I hope father gets better soon!  I'm getting tired of doing all of my chores plus picking up his work load.", Jake grumbled under his breath to himself as he finished staking the horse leads to the ground and brushing them down with straw.  When he thought about what he had grumbled he felt a moment of shame.  The family needed him.  If he developed an extra blister or two, so be it.  There was nobody else to do what had to be done.  Complaining about necessity cured nothing...but it did make him feel better for a minute.

 

In the distance to the west, high above the tree tops, Jake could make out the outline of the snow capped peaks of the Spine of the World.  Actually, this area was called Kinslayer's Dagger for some forgotten reason.  The mountains loomed ominously, forbidding passage by the weak of soul.  But, pass they would.  In the coming days the wagons would indeed trek beyond those dire crags of loose, nearly vertical rock for what seemed to be the hundredth time.  Perhaps during this crossing, none of the wagons would be lost.  Or perhaps during this crossing, the wagon carrying him and his family would be the one to tumble helplessly down a steep hill side until it finally crashed at the bottom and exploded into a thousand shards of crumpled boards.  Perhaps the Mahdi would decide to turn north or south.  Perhaps not.

 

"Where's Erina?", Remy asked.  "She was here a few minutes ago.  Did anyone see where she went?  I have chores for her."  Nobody replied.

 

"I'll go find her.", Jake offered.  None of his elders declined, so off he went.  He didn't have the tracking skills of the old timer who sometimes visited their fires all dressed in the hides of the animals that he had killed and eaten, but among the People of this group of wagons he was possibly the best.  How could anyone live with nature day in and day out and not learn to read her signs?  It was simple.  Anything that was not a part of nature was a clue.  A blade of grass that did not stand in the same direction as all of the other blades around it.  A broken twig.  A leaf pointing upward.  And most obvious of all, a footprint in the sand showing a small cut on the sole of Erina's left shoe.  That identified her trail as clearly as if she had written her name with an arrow pointing the way.

 

Erina didn't seem to be headed in any particular direction.  She must just be walking for the pure joy of it.  He sometimes liked to wander like that.  Clear his mind of everything except for the flame that his father had taught him to form an image of and then head off in no particular direction.  Just follow the Light.  It was very relaxing and sometimes felt almost magical.  Daydreaming while watching the flame cleansed his mind.  Maybe that's what Erina was doing this late afternoon.

 

After several minutes of slow stalking, Jake became a little concerned.  He was not making very good time.  Even though the trail was fairly easy to follow, it did not seem to be getting any fresher.  He should have gained at least a little bit of ground.  The terrible thought entered his mind that he might not ever catch up to her.  "What if she were to stumble upon a mountain lion?  Or a bear with cubs?"  He shuddered and picked up his pace as best he could.

 

If any harm came to her he would not be able to survive it.  He loved her dearly.  She had no way to know it, but he always had.  Ever since they were young.  He had always hoped that their childhood games of keeping a wagon of their own would some day become reality.  Erina was the only girl that he wanted.  And she didn't know how he felt because he was too shy to tell her.  What if he couldn't catch up to her in time?  What if he never had the chance to tell her how he felt?  In desperation he yelled her name as loud as he could and waited for her to reply.  He hoped for a reply.  He prayed for a reply.

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Erina ran toward the sound of Jake's most welcome call.  "Jake!  I'm over here!"  She had to force the words out.  Her breathing quickened.  She could feel her heart pounding wildly in her chest.

 

"I'm coming, Erina!  Don't be afraid!"  Jake's voice was confident.  Determined.  He was going to make a fine husband.  Soon.

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Jon rolled over on the bed and faced the wall.  He tried to open his eyes.  They would almost open but not quite.  A faint shadow on the wall told him that there was still some daylight peeking through the window.  It was not yet full dark outside.

 

The pain in his stomach caused him to cringe and squeeze his eyes tightly shut.  He curled into a ball.  "Those blasted mushrooms.", he thought.  He had been so sure that they were the "good" kind and not the "bad" kind.  They had been so tasty, fried in butter, with some goat cheese chunks melted over them then placed between two slices of crisp bread.  The memory of that flavor combination was delightful.  The fever and belly ache of the past couple of days was not.  Some lessons were indeed learned the hard way.

 

Strange sounds came from outdoors.  Not the normal commotion of setting up camp for the night.  And a crackling sound of wood burning.  He could smell smoke.  Not the good, clean smoke smell of a campfire.  It smelled more like the smoke of painted wood burning.  The crackling grew louder.  Stronger.  Closer.  The smell was more intense.  He turned and forced his eyelids to part slightly.  Just enough to scarcely make out the flames in the top far corner near the ceiling.  Adrenaline gushed into him in a flood and gave him the strength to leap from his bed toward the door.  He slammed it open and all but fell down the steps.

 

"FIRE!!!", he yelled as loudly as he possibly could which actually came out as just a little above his normal voice.  The late evening light forced his eyes to tighten again.  He tried once more to get someone's attention.  "FIRE!!!  My home is on fire!!!"  That took the last of his strength.  He sagged backward and landed on the steps with a solid thud.

 

It seemed strange that nobody had responded.  Even though his holler for help had not been very loud, someone should have been near enough to hear him and to raise an even louder alarm.  He strained to crack his eyes open to a small slit.  In the distance he could just barely make out the shapes of people scurrying about.  And more wagons burning.  In both directions.  He struggled desperately to open his eyes wider to get a better idea of what was happening but try as he may he just couldn't muster the strength.

 

Then he heard the screams.  How had he missed them before?  They were so clear.  So vivid.  And they came from every direction.  The reality of the situation sunk in.  Burning wagons.  People screaming and fleeing.  It all meant just one thing.  The wagons were under attack.  And he could not open his eyes, let alone run.  Giving it one more intense effort, he concentrated on raising his hands to his face to try to pry his eyelids up with his fingers.  They just would not do what he commanded.  He relaxed and accepted the small slits.

 

Jon wanted so much to find his lovely wife.  He had to be sure that she was far away from all of this.  His own existence meant nothing if she perished.  She made him complete.  Without her, he would not wish to continue living.  Where could she be?  She must have been nearby when the wagon was set ablaze.  Perhaps she has gone for water?  The barrels must be getting low with him stuck in a bed for so long.  Maybe Jake was gone with her to fetch some.  Yes.  That's where they were.  Safely away.  Fetching water.  He smiled.

 

The smile was quickly replaced with a wide open mouth trying unsuccessfully to scream.  In front of him was an awful creature.  A scroungy little man with nasty teeth and filthy clothes.  His shirt had been white once but now it was all covered with stains.  His black pants had a large hole in one knee and looked as if he had slept under a hay stack for several nights straight.  And in his right hand, he held a sword.

 

"Swords are made for one purpose and one purpose only.", his father had told him when he was quite young.  "They are for killing people."  The words echoed loudly in Jon's memory.  He had passed those words along to Jake when he thought the lad was old enough to understand.  "Sharp enough to chop wood.  Strong enough to last many seasons of harvesting crops.  But made purely for killing people.  Nothing else."

 

"Filthy, stinking, thieving Tinker!", the man spat as he inched nearer to Jon.  He stared into Jon's eyes with a fiery hatred that could be seen all of the way to the depths of the man's wretched soul.  Jon couldn't help but feel pity for him.  How he must suffer.  With those emotions eating away at him, the poor fellow would never feel the joy and peace of the Way of the Leaf.  So sad.

 

In one quick snake-like movement the evil one struck.  He pulled back his killing sword and swung it in an arc laying Jon's midsection wide open.  Then he grinned.  And spat on the ground.  "Good reddens to bad rubbish.", the dirty little fellow drooled.  He wiped Jon's blood from the sword onto his pant leg then turned and stalked proudly away.

 

Jon somehow found the strength to use his hands to try to squeeze the parted flesh back together.  Somewhat.  It didn't work very good.  He had no strength left in his hands.  Hands which had built his wagon from scratch.  Hands which had supported his family all of these years.  Hands that would never again gently caress the cheeks of his beautiful wife.  "Trisha."  As he slid down the steps to the ground he offered a silent prayer that his beloved Trisha was well.  She and Jake just had to be safely fetching water to put out the fire with.  They just had to be safe.

 

Still trying to hold the gash closed, he rolled onto his side and tried to look around.  Red, green, and yellow.  Red, green, yellow.  Red, green, yellow.  He had chosen that repeating pattern for the spokes of the wheels on his wagon.  As they turned, the colors blended to a pleasant tan for anyone watching from the side.  The tan almost perfectly complemented the pale blue of the trim boards.  And the brilliant red of the walls.  Laying here with the wagon not moving he could see that a couple of the spokes would need a new coat of paint soon.  Perhaps Jake could help him with it.  It would be good training for the boy since he would be wanting a wagon of his own soon.

 

The pain in his belly made him think of the time that he had been kicked by his great father's mule Hyrem.  It had not been Hyrem's fault.  Jon had been helping to put new shoes on the mule when old mistress Corlem's pet cat Crissy decided to pay a visit.  Hyrem didn't much care for Crissy.  When the cat snuck up behind old Hyrem and jumped onto his rear with her claws, Hyrem took a kick at her and instead caught Jon square in the guts.  Jon was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Sort of like now.  And it hurt.  Bad.

 

He didn't need to look to know that his bright green shirt was covered with deep red blood.  That would sure be some tough stains to get out.  His hands felt moist.  He must be leaking a lot.  For a moment he thought that he might be regaining the use of his eyes.  In the distance there appeared to be bright light.  He was sure that if he could stand that he should walk toward it, but he didn't have his strength back yet.  It must be near dark.  The air was turning cold.  He tried harder to curl into a ball to regain some heat.  He lost his grip.  It was almost a relief to relax his belly muscles.  Sudden cold touched what had been his warm innards.  That was quite a shock.  Now it was really getting dark.  Except for the white light which seemed to pulse and beacon him to move toward it.

 

In one final gathering of strength, Jon tried to sit up.  As he did, he tumbled and fell off from his bed.  He was lying on the floor tangled in his blankets.  His eyes popped open quite easily and the dim early evening light from the window made him shut them slightly.  It took him a few seconds to realize that he was not dead.

 

"Wow."

 

"I'll never eat THOSE mushrooms again!!!"  :o

 

From outdoors he heard the sound of conversation and laughter.  And he smelled smoke.  The wonderful smell of campfires being built in preparation for the evening meal.  Children playing.  Trisha was humming some light, happy tune.  "Apples for a pie.", he thought the name of that song was.  Maybe she was getting ready to make an apple pie?  :)  He gathered some strength and stood.  His muscles ached but they did respond.  "I'd better fetch some water.", he told himself as he slowly walked toward the door.

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Arlen looked up from his work and saw a man in a black cloak with a black hood walking towards the Tuatha'an wagons. Approachig the stranger cautiously, lest he be dangerous, Arlen saw that he carried no weapon, so he must be safe. Arlen walked over to the stranger, calling out a greeting. The strange stopped and looked at Arlen, his piercing gaze unnerving. "Well, stranger" Arlen finally began, "I am Arlan, what is your buisness here?"

 

The stranger regarded Arlan coldly for a few seconds before pulling back his hood and revealng brown hair, hazel eyes, large ears and a desidedly scary smile. "I have come to see the man named Jon, and do you have some new clothes for me to don?" That was strange; he spoke in rhyme.

"I know Jon, but the only cloths we have are brigt and colourful, while you seem to prefer... sadder, colous. I will go get him, who should i say is looking for him?" The strange man chuckled, almost evilly. "Oh, he knows who i am, i am Pherno, now go tell him, my man." 

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"OOOoohh.  That's JUST RIGHT.", Trisha sighed.  Just to be sure, she took another taste of the vegetable soup that she had thrown together in a hurry for supper.  She nodded.  "Sweet and tangy.  Just the way that Jon likes it.  He'll be pleased.  Want a quick taste?", she asked Remy holding out a spoonful toward her.  Remy took the spoon, tasted, and smiled approvingly.  "Perhaps we should take the evening meal with you tonight."  She smiled again.  She knew that tonight was special, and she knew how to pick on her dearest friend without upsetting her.  Trisha smiled back knowingly.

 

As her smile faded, Trisha's forehead wrinkled slightly and her face grew grim.  Her mood obviously had gone from cheerful to serious in an instant.  "What's wrong?", Remy asked in a concerned voice.  Trisha's eyes seemed to be staring at something far away that really wasn't there at all.  "Will things ever be the same again?", Trisha sighed almost in a moan.  Pretending not to know exactly what she was talking about, Remy replied "will WHAT ever be the same?".  This conversation had been approaching for a long time and Remy was not looking forward to it.

 

Tears began to swell in Trisha's eyes.  She shook her head slightly and cast her eyes downward.  She used the edge of her apron to dab away the wetness.  Remy expected her to begin sobbing.  Instead, Trisha raised her head and looked her directly and boldly in the eye.  "You know EXACTLY what I'm speaking of.  YOU best of all."

 

It was Remy's turn to look downward.  Her own tears did not stop at the edge of her eyes...they poured down her cheeks.  And she did sob.  Loud and strong.  In an instant she had gone from calmly smiling to nearly bawling.  Her emotions were peaked.  The hurt and shame slammed into her full force.  She clasped her hands to her eyes and wept shamelessly.  "Yes.  I do." she whispered through her crying.

 

Trisha's eyes no longer held back any tears.  They glared with fire.  The fire of pure anger.  Remy could not bear to look at them.  Trisha stood and placed both fists on her hips.  There had been few times in the past that Remy had ever seen her so mad.  She usually got over things easily.  But not this.  Remy knew that today would be one that they would both remember for a very long time.

 

"What are your daughter's intentions concerning my son?", Trisha nearly snarled.  Remy winced and tried for the thousandth time to decide what words were proper.  This was NOT going to be easy.  And no...things would NEVER be the same again. 

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Jon whistled a light, happy tune as he dumped the last bucket of water needed to fill the barrel at the rear of his wagon.  His arms ached a little after several days of not being used, but it felt good to have some exercise once again.  Come to think of it, his lower back felt the strain a little, too.  Maybe he should take things a might easier for a while?  He placed the wooden lid back on top of the barrel to keep debris from falling into the clean water then headed off to find someone to visit with for a few minutes.  It felt so GOOD to feel GOOD again!

 

He didn't have to wait long.  Ahead of him he spotted his old friend Arlen coming toward him quickly.  He seemed excited.  His orange shirt with green sleeves made a fine contrast with the bright purple pants that he had chosen today.  His brisk movements made the colors POP in such a delightful way.  It was pleasureful to watch him walk.  Jon thought to himself that surely Arlen had picked that combination just for that reason.  He enjoyed bringing pleasure to others.

 

As Arlen got nearer, Jon became concerned.  The look on Arlen's face was not normal.  He didn't look cheerful at all.  He looked almost...solemn...which was very unusual for him.  Jon couldn't help asking, "what's wrong, Arlen?".

 

Arlen kept his pace until he was close to Jon then skidded to an abrupt halt.  He was breathing as if he had hurried for quite a distance even though the entire length of the train of wagons was not all that far.  Something was definitely up.  "There's a stranger come to visit.  He asked for colorful clothes even though his aura is dark.  He says he knows YOU and wants to meet with you.  His name is...Pherno.  Do you know this man, Jon?".

 

Jon looked around for a log or a rock.  Anything to break his fall.  His knees were feeling as weak as they had a couple of days earlier.  He felt his face going flush.  It would be a surprise if he did not pass out.  His head was spinning.  He had to sit down...NOW!  To avoid falling over, he sat indian-style right where he was.  He could only imagine what the look on his face must be.  Arlen leaned down to put a concerned hand on his shoulder.  "Are you OK?".

 

Jon did his best to recover his wits.  He could not allow Arlen to find out what was really bothering him.  If ANYONE among the wagons EVER learned that he had given a pledge to the Great Lord of the Dark they would cast him out forever.  His peaceful existence would be gone.  He would be left beside the trail to die or be force to live amongst the unclean heathens.  "I'm OK, Arlen.  I just had a moment of my illness reoccurring.  I should be fine shortly.  What did you say the stranger's name was?".  Jon knew exactly who the stranger was.

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When Arlen left, Pherno began talking. "The Chosen have called the faithful to meet, we are to go to the Fortress, fast as fleet." Jon looked uncomfortable for a few moments before responding. ....

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How long ago it seemed.  And, yet, his memory was clear.  Parts of it, anyway.  She was so beautiful back then.  She still is today, but back then she was the walking image of pure beauty.  And she didn't know that he existed.  Jon Jonsten.  Bah.  What did he have to offer Trisha, the goddess of the dawn, sprite of the forest, dream of his dreams?  Why would she ever notice him among all of the other young men that she had to choose from.  His brightest colors were dim.  His loudest voice was a wasted song.  The liveliest dance was nothing more than a few scattered stumbles.  Nothing was deserving of Trisha's attentions.

 

She was all but acknowledged as planning to ask Rily Wistess to build her a wagon.  She danced for him and him alone at many of the celebration fires.  He was asked to her parent's camp for the evening meal several times.  They had been seen sitting together on a log by a creek talking.  Jon had even seen her touch his shoulder as they were walking once.  Rily was sure to be the lucky fellow to drive a wagon for Trisha some day.  But that day never came.

 

Like a hot sledge hammer to the forehead, Jon's memory crashed home.  That fateful day that Trisha was no longer Rily's, but Jon's.  The day that he had made that dark wish.  The day that his wish came true.  "If only she would choose me...I would give my soul."  The day that the stranger arrived and gained Jon's confidence.  The day that he told Jon that ANYTHING was possible if you gave your allegiance to the Dark Lord.  One day of poor judgment.  One day of weakness.  A day he could never forget.  A day he wished with all of his heart had never dawned.

 

But, it did happen.  He had taken his oath.  He had traded his soul.  For nothing.  As it turned out, he had been misreading the signs about Rily.  Trisha had no desires for him at all.  Jon had been her choice since early childhood.  She apparently had tried several times to give him hints but he mistook them as just being kind.  He found out all about her love for him after it was too late.  By then, the damage was done.  By then, he was a darkfriend.

 

Luckily, he had never seen Pherno again after he had given his oath.  There had been no demands for displays of loyalty.  He had not been directed to perform any nasty deeds in the name of his new lord and master.  Actually, the only difference was the guilt that Jon felt deep within his own being.  HE knew what he had done.  HE knew that he had sworn his oath.  HE knew that he was a darkfriend.  And, now, here was Pherno.  Back again after all of these years.  Returning to collect payment for the debt owed.

 

Jon looked around.  Courage began to swell within him until he felt like an over-ripe melon just waiting to burst.  His fists tightened at his side, though he had no intention of using them for violence.  He raised his head high, puffed out his chest, and stared Pherno straight in the eye.  His gaze searched until he was sure that Pherno could read his thoughts.

 

"You tricked me.  I was young and innocent.  I had no way of knowing the truth.  The oath that I took proved nothing.  I am the same man that I was before I met you.  I walk in the Light.  I deny you and your master.  I renounce the oath that you tricked me into.  Leave me now and never let your shadow cross my path again for any reason.  You are NOT welcome at my fire!".  With that, Jon turned away from Pherno and walked away.

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Jon hadn't gone five paces when his feet suddenly stopped working.  Try as he may, he couldn't force them to move one more step.  He looked down to see if they had became tangled in some sort of creeping ground vines or something.  There was nothing there that he could see other than what appeared to be thin tendrils of something almost transparent.  He had seen something similar only once.  The time that his friend Jassen had tripped on a tree root and was tumbling uncontrollably down a hill toward a cliff.  Somehow, Jon's wish that his friend not plummet to an instant crushing death had created vines similar to what now held him.  Those vines of nothing had saved Jassen's life.  They now threatened Jon's.

 

Like a trout on the line, Jon did his best to squirm free.  The more that he struggled, the higher up his body the transparent vines grew until he could move nothing but his head.  The vines picked him off the ground and turned him back toward where he had just left.  The tip of the vine forced him to face Pherno.  The wicked man stood there smiling an evil smile.  >:D  Jon had the feeling that he was about to experience yet another day that he would later wish the sun had never risen.

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The first drop hit Jon's forehead then dibbled down into his left eye.  The next few drops hit randomly about his head.  Large fat raindrops.  Not many or steady.  Just a few.  Hardly enough to matter.  But they were raindrops from heaven, indeed.

 

As soon as the first drops hit Pherno, the tendrils holding Jon had loosened their grip slightly.  As more raindrops came, they became even less tight.  Pherno stared upward.  Rain falling directly into his eyes had no more affect than rain falling on the ground...the rain had his undivided attention.  As if in a trance, he began to chant.  "Fire and water...not good friends...one takes over...the other one ends.  Fire and water...not good friends...", he repeated the rhyme over and over.  And, as he concentrated on his poem, his magical hold on Jon gradually went away.

 

After a minute or so Jon was free to move again.  He didn't wait to see if Pherno would recover.  With all the speed he could muster he sprinted toward the nearest underbrush and scampered like a rabbit all the while praying that the rain would continue until he was safely away.  Then it dawned on him.  Had any of the People witnessed what had happened?  What would Pherno say to whom?  Did he dare return to the wagons?  Or would he have to continue to run for the rest of his life?  Perhaps he wasn't headed toward safety after all.

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"Fire and water... not good friends... one takes over... the other one ends. Fire and water... not good friends... one takes over... the other one-" Suddenly Pherno snapped out of his rain-induced trances, a side-effect of the madness, and realised that he wasn't holding the power! Jon had escaped! Roaring in frustration, Pherno seized the source and flung blasts of flame in all directions, searing the surrounding underbrush. After a few minutes of mindless burning, Pherno considered his options for a few minutes. Jon could channel, as was suspected, but he didn't know he could, yet. How to best get him into the open?

 

Pherno chuckled evilly as he saw what to do. Giving the area one last contemptuous glance, Pherno turened and walked, towards the Tinkers campfires.

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"If you are not willing to endure the pain, then you shall not receive the gain.  That is what my great-father always used to tell me.  And now, I am passing that gift of knowledge along to you, great-son."  Louie just scowled at the block of wood in front of him.  He obviously did not yet understand that there was gain to be had by splitting it into smaller pieces.  The lad was nearly seven years of age.  It was time for him to spend less time playing and more time learning valuable life skills.

 

Rowarze had indeed learned a great many valuable lessons from his gwampy Rool.  The wagons of Rool and Rowarze's father Raul had traveled through many lands for many years before Rowarze finally inherited his great-father's.  Soon, Louie would inherit the wagon from him.  But, first, he had to learn how to split wood for the evening fire.  For a moment gwampy Row, as Louie called him, smiled in remembrance of how he had once labored so hard to try to please his "gwampy Woo".  Row had been very young when Woo had taught him the fine art of finding the best spot to strike with the axe.  And, Woo had been very patient as Row learned.  Now, Row was learning patience as he tried to teach Lou.  He was a much better teacher than Rool had been, in his own humble opinion.

 

"Look at the pattern.  See how that one small crack starts in the middle and comes out to the edge?  And that other crack.  It starts there at the center and goes out to that edge.", Row said while pointing to each crack.  "If you can get your axe into either of those cracks, it will force the crack open.  If you put enough 'oomph' into it, both cracks will open and that whole piece will fall out.  With that piece gone, it will be easy to split the remaining piece in two."  Louie just stared at the block disgustedly.  "Would you like me to show you how to do it once more?", the patient gwampy asked.

 

A relieved Louie smiled and handed the axe to Row.  Row took a steady stance, concentrated on the block, raised the axe and then brought it down with a mighty blow slicing through the crack, opening the other crack, and sending the piece flying away from the larger remaining block.  Louie smiled admiringly at gwampy Row.  "There.  See?  Now watch this closely so next time you'll be able to do it."  Gwampy turned the block, set his stance, raised the axe and brought it down with a mighty THUD.  The axe bounced sideways and nearly twisted free from Row's grasp.  He quickly set the axe down and began rubbing his wrists.  Louie tried not to grin.  Row tried not to show the pain.

 

"Well, gwampy," Louie said in a mocking tone, "there's the pain...where's the gain?".  ;D  He darted quickly out of reach as gwampy lunged toward him.  An impromptu game of tag quickly developed.  Louie was winning, as usual, when his mama called for firewood so that she could prepare the evening meal.  The lesson for the day?  "If you want a warm evening meal, you have to split some wood."  ;)

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Night was approachig, and the tinkers were converging on the centre of the wagons to tell stories, sing, dance, eat and generally enjoy themselves. Pherno, now wearing a bright yellow vest with red trousers, planned for this night to be far from enjoyable.

 

When the last of the tuatha'an were sitting around the camp fires, passing around plates and bowls of food, Pherno made his move. Walking out into the centre of the campfires, Pherno began talking. "Thank you all for your hospitality, but now its time for some fatality." Pherno embraced the source and suddenly several of the tinkers stiffened and began rising into the air. Screams resoundd through the clearing as tinkers ran this way and that, trying to escape. Weaving fire, Pherno raised a wall of fire around the clearing, stopping the tinkers escape dead in its tracks.

 

Amplifying his voice with the power, Pherno called out a challenge. "Come on out, Jon, and see this end, or i will kil your tinker friends." Content to wait, Pherno pulled a chair and a bowl of food over to him. He then sat in the chair, grabbed a spoon, and started eating the soup. Tomato, he thought it was.

 

 

OOC: by the way, grandpaG, please check the revolution one board, i have started a new RP thread that i would like you to join.

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The underbrush exploded into a wild fire storm all around Jon.  It didn't matter what direction he started toward, fire was waiting for him.  Every direction except for the way back to the wagons.  He now was pretty sure that Pherno must be using the One Power somehow.  With him being a darkfriend, he could very well be one of the dreadlords from the old gleeman's tales.  Just the thought of that was enough to send frigid chills up the spine of most men.  Men channeling in service to the Dark One...or, should he say, the Great Lord.  Jon let his head sag in shame.

 

There seemed to be two choices available to him.  Stay here and burn, or go back to face Pherno.  Either way, he would likely awaken from the dream today.  That thought reminded him of his earlier dream.  Perhaps, this was all just a continuation of that previous nightmare!  Excitedly, he reached down and picked up a large stone.  Swinging hard, he hit himself on the back of his other hand.  It HURT!!!  :o  "Nope...I'm not sleeping."  :(

 

With only one chance of survival, he turned to begin walking back toward the wagons when he heard Pherno's voice loud and clear, "Come on out, Jon, and see this end, or i will kil your tinker friends."  The realization of what that meant caused him to pick up his pace.  Soon he was scampering back to face certain doom.  Maybe he could figure out how to wish those tendrils to tie up Pherno long enough for his friends and family to escape?  That hopeful thought gave him strength enough to run.

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With barely a glance up, Pherno beheaded a tinker with a weave of fire who had just made a break for it. Where he had been planning to go or what to do, Pherno didn't know, but he needed to send a message to the other captives. After a few seconds, Pherno saw jon run up to the firewall, and Pherno released the weave, letting Jon walk into the circle of wagons.

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Jon skidded to a halt.  Rasine lay nearby with no head.  He had awakened from the dream at a young age.  But Jon didn't have time now for grief.  Pherno was staring at him with a look of confident triumph on his face.  The People huddled in a group nearby.  HIS People.  Even though he was not Mahdi for the group, this trouble was his making.  He had gotten them all into this mess, and it was up to HIM to get them out of it.

 

In Jon's mind it was clear that his life could never be the same.  Even if the whole story was never disclosed his friends and family would always question what had happened to cause today's events.  They deserved to know the truth even though it meant the end of his life among the wagons.  With a head hung in shame, he told them all the whole truth.  They gasped and sobbed as he unfolded the tale.  Trisha passed out.  He ended it all with a bang.  "I can channel the One Power.  Pherno wants me to join him as a dreadlord fighting against the forces of the Light in the Last Battle."

 

Those of the People who had not gone into hysterics before did so now.  Even the children understood his message and crawled under their mother's skirts for protection from the monsters.  It ripped Jon's wretched soul out of his chest to watch this happen to those whom he had loved for so long.

 

Knowing that he had done all that he could do here, he wished for a tornado to swoop down and carry him and Pherno far away from the wagons where he could do battle properly against the man who had taken away his reason for living.  He intended to show Pherno the axe of the Ogier.  He was no longer Tuatha'an.  His anger allowed him to fight.  And fight he would.  As the clouds above gathered and darkened, a lone, large tendril reached downward from them swirling savagely forming the downspout of the twister.  It sought out and found Pherno and Jon and whisked them away to a more violent thread...one that fit perfectly with Pherno's character...one that had been created just for him.

 

The People might miss Jon and talk of his fate for years to come, but at least they were safe once more and they could continue their search for the lost song.  The Mahdi had mentioned taking the Dragon's advice and heading for Rhuidean to enter the glass columns along with the so called Aiel lost ones.  If it meant rediscovering the song, it would be worth it.  As he and Pherno landed in the thread of dread, he wished his friends and family a safe passage through Kinslayer's Dagger.

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Geri had watched two of his friends awaken from the dream today.  One older than he had proclaimed that he had been a longtime darkfriend and that he could channel the One Power.  Geri would never have guessed either of those things of Jon.  He had always seemed so...normal.  And poor Rasine, almost of an age with Geri, had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The monster had chosen him as bait to get Jon.  Poor, poor Rasine.  May his body nourish Mother Earth and his soul rest peacefully until it's glorious day of rebirth.

 

"Don't stay up there all night, Geri!  You'll come down with a fever!", Geri's mother called from the wagon stoop as she was heading in for the night.  "OK, muhmah.", he replied childishly.  He would soon be building a wagon of his own and she still treated him like a little boy.  But, she was right.  The night air was brisk.  He would only stay up here on the wagon roof for a while to relax before trying to sleep.

 

Finding a bundle of burlap bags to use as a pillow, he lay back and gazed up at the clear night sky.  From up here the trees did not block the view like they did from the ground.  The huge orange moon shone crisp and clear on the horizon.  Father said that people who live on farms call that a harvest moon because it only looks that way when it is time for them to harvest their crops.

 

Geri couldn't imagine only collecting food at a certain time of year.  The garden that surrounded him at the moment was tended all year round.  The planting had to be rotated to provide a constant supply of fresh food.  If each family only harvested once each year then each wagon would have to pull another wagon just to hold the harvest.  And it would surely taste TERRIBLE by the end of cycle.  No.  The Tuatha'an way was better.  A little bit of work every day.  That was the proper way.

 

A sudden streak of bright light across the sky made him smile.  An ancient tale told of people traveling through the sky during the Age of Legends.  These bright streaks were supposed to be some sort of signal from the past generations that something good was about to happen.  It was very good luck to be the person that the Pattern chose to be the one to witness a shouting starlet.  He would have to tell everyone about it tomorrow so the good fortune would be shared by all.

 

As he watched the stars twinkling and the faint wisp of clouds passing in front of the rising, shrinking moon he could hear the sounds of night animals going about their business.  Below the wagons a chipmunk crunched the leaves as it searched for dropped tidbits.  Somewhere in the distance an owl screamed, probably trying to attract a mate.  And, there were wolves.  Another sign of good luck to come and a safe passage for the Traveling People.  Despite the sad events of today, Geri believed that tomorrow would bring happy times to the wagons.  With a huge sigh of relaxation, he allowed his eyes to shut for just a moment.

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OOC: nice touch, very interesting... but, could you please stop posting multiple times in a row like that, it gets kind of annoying if too much happens to my character without me realising, please?  :)

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The pressures of being Mahdi were numerous, and the rewards few.  But, this was Loni's destiny.  The Pattern had led him to accepting the task.  He seldom felt that he did a good job as leader of his wagons, but he knew deep within his soul that he tried as hard as he could.  It was important.  If he had not been chosen to lead, perhaps someone else with even less talent for the job would have.  His People were stuck with him until the Pattern chose his replacement.

 

Soosie supported him under all circumstances.  In her eyes, he could do no wrong.  She had been that way since they first decided to build their first wagon together.  Loni still did not understand why she loved him like she did.  He didn't have to put on false airs for her.  Even on his worst day she stood steady and strong by his side.  And he loved her for loving him so.

 

The wagons had not traveled yesterday.  The loss of two beloved souls had made a day of mourning necessary.  One of the People had awakened from the dream.  The other had left the wagons and would surely never return.  Both losses were directly attributable to an insane darkfriend whom Loni was not allowed to hate no matter how much he wanted to.  Understanding the wretched person was possible.  Forgiveness for his deeds was harder to achieve but was still necessary.  These People were strong.  Their wounds would heal with time.  The good times with the lost brothers would be remembered.

 

Today, it was necessary to travel.  "Get back on the bicycle.", was the ancient gleeman's saying that had been passed down from an Age possibly older than the Age of Legends.  Even though the memory of what a bicycle had long been forgotten, the meaning remained: when life knocks you down, you get back on your feet.  That's what the People needed today.  Normalcy.

 

A secret gift given to each Mahdi by the Pattern was an inane sense of which path to follow.  Or, perhaps a person had to have that ability before the Pattern chose them to lead?  Either way, when it was time to travel there was never any question as to which way they should go.  "That way.", a voice seemed to point inside the Mahdi's head.  And, when the traveling was done, that voice was always right.  Loni had heard horror stories about a day here or there that some Mahdi had not listened to his instinct and the catastrophes that had resulted.  Going against the wishes of the Pattern was not wise.

 

For some time now, Loni's path pulled him toward the Aiel Waste.  He didn't understand why, but, he knew that if he lead his People anywhere else that they would perish.  He had no doubt whatsoever.  Some time back the old gleeman GrandpaG had brought the Dragon Reborn to the wagons.  Rand Al'Thor had told them that the People had once been part of a group called Daishain during the Age of Legends and that they were the special servants of the Aes Sedai.  He also said that the Tuatha'an should travel to Rhuidean to be rejoined with the so-called Aiel lost ones and that by doing so the sought after Song would be relearned.  Now, the Pattern was leading him directly toward the city of clouds.  Perhaps the Dragon's visit was not so crazy after all?  ::)

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Arlen was still getting over the shock that the strange visitor was a channeing dreadlord and his old friend Jon was a life-long darkfriend. How could this be? The former wasn't much of a surrise; the dreadlord had seemed creepy and wicked at a glance, but Jon had been kind and nice his whole life. He had taken care of Arlens children when he had been away, they had shared a drink and a story on countless nights, and had competed for the attentions of girls when adolescents, and now, he was gone, probaby forever. It was sobering to know that even those closest to you could be touched b the Dark One.

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Erina didn't know what to say.  She had been there when Jake's papa had told his story.  Everyone knew.  It made her feel unclean to know that she had been intimate with the son of a darkfriend.  There was no way that she could ever feel the same about Jake even though he really was the same person that she used to love.  Now, here he was at the door of her wagon wanting to speak with her.  What was she to do?

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