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


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Rhum was not in his usual jolly mood today.  His belly ached.  Too much of Liaza's famous four alarm hot vegetarian chili.  And to top it all off, he had dipped into his stash of Tequila that he had dipped out of the lake during their visit to Wolfkin.  The pair went together just fine last night, but they were both kicking his butt this morning.  He considered having his lovely wife steep up a pot of the Kaf that they had gotten in trade for some pot mending with some Seanchan that they had bumped into during their trip to Falme.  But, that would mean suffering her lecture about over indulgence in the pleasures of this world.  It all served to sour his attitude compared to normal.


To top it all off, Loni had to choose today of all days to get an early start.  It was seldom that Rhum felt anything but total admiration for their leader.  Today, he would like to tell the bum where to get off before crawling back into bed.  He pulled the brim of his hat down further to give more blockage of the morning sun then flapped up his cloak collar to keep out the chilly early morning breeze.  Normally, he would have welcomed a clean wind on a sunny morning but today they were a nuisance.


"Rhummie, dear!  Can you please come give me a hand getting this kettle back up onto the back of the wagon?  I don't want to hurt my back again like last time.".  Liaza practically sang her request for help.  How could she be in such a good mood?  Oh.  She had only had two bowls of chili and a small sip of tequila.  She still didn't need to holler so loud!


Finishing up putting the bridle around Billie's muzzle and lacing the guide rope through the bit loops, Rhum turned to go help with the kettle and caught his toe on a tree root.  He stumbled forward and bumped his forehead on the corner of the wagon.  He didn't hit all that hard but in his morning after condition he just had to sit down.  There was blood on his palm when he pulled his hand away from the bump site.


"See?", Liaza preached in a voice that was no longer singing.  She had sprang from the back of the wagon to the front and already had her apron pressing against the new scratch.  "You need to learn some self control!  A little bit of a good thing is fine...too much is not!"  She pulled her apron away to examine the scratch.  "I'm going to have to sew that shut or you'll leak out all of your blood and ruin that beautiful yellow shirt!  It will probably leave a scar!  You just sit right there and keep this apron pressing tight while I go to get my needle and some heal-all."  As she headed up the steps Rhum heard her mumbling something about men being like children.


Kurl picked that particular moment to stop by to wish Rhum a happy new morning.  Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  "What's so good about it?", Rhum asked him harshly.  Kurl's eyes got wide and he nearly scampered as he apologized for the interruption and left.  Rhum felt bad.  Kurl was a good friend.  It wasn't his fault that the morning sun was shining so brightly.  Rhum would have to apologize.  Tomorrow.

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What a disaster.  Yesterday had been the worst possible day.  Travel was near impossible.  Everything kept going wrong.  To start the day off on the wrong foot, Rhum had laid a big gash into his forehead so the wagons had to wait for him to get stitched shut.  Then Liaza wouldn't let him drive.  One of the Leustin's team threw a shoe so the wagons stopped for an early lunch so Crem could replace it.  He had to eat his lunch in the driver's seat afterward.  Spilled soup all down the front of his nice green cloak.  One of the dogs jumped a razorback hog and ended up all covered in blood.  Mostly her own.  More stitching.  More time lost.  You name it.  It happened.  So much for gaining ground with an early start.


Loni should have expected it.  His little voice had told him to exercise patience but his desire to be beyond Kinslayer's Dagger drove him to haste.  In the end, the wagons gained about the same amount of ground as they would have traveling at a comfortable pace.  Once again Loni reminded himself to accept the weave of the Pattern.  His own desires must come second.


"Mahdi.  I need some advice.", came a timid voice from behind him.  Loni turned to find Erina looking down at her feet.  This was strange.  Most of the young women went to Trisha or Soosie when they needed to talk.  This must be serious.  "Come, child.  Sit.", he told her while pointing to a nearby rock.  "What can I help you with?".


"It's Jake.", she managed to get out just before beginning to sob into her bright red apron.  Loni had long ago learned that it was not wise to interrupt sobbing prematurely.  He allowed her several seconds of weeping before he tried to press the conversation further.  When she started to take small gasps of air he asked, "what about Jake, dear?".


"I love him.", she stated the obvious.  Everyone in the wagons knew how she felt about Jake.  "Yes.", he assured her.  "Go on."  She wiped at her tears with the apron then looked him straight in the eye.  "I had...relations...with him."  She hesitated as if gathering strength.  "Before...before."


Loni felt his face flushing.  This was not the type of conversation that he was used to having with the young women in his group.  The young men came to him.  The young women did not.  There must be some reason that she had come to him instead of Soosie.  He understood why she had not gone to Trisha.  "I will help if I can, child, but may I ask why you chose ME to talk with?".


"I need to know whether I should ask Jake to build a wagon for us.  I know that he still cares for me in spite of what has happened.  After all, it was not he who proclaimed himself a darkfriend.  It is not him who can channel.  I should not let his father's deeds affect how I feel about Jake, but I can't help it.  Part of me wants to spend the rest of my life riding beside him, and the other part wants to run away from him to hide.  I can't talk to anyone else about this, Mahdi.  What shall I do?".  Her eyes pleaded for a wise answer.


Loni pulled within himself for a moment and tried to assume the void that his father had taught him so very long ago.  It sometimes helped him to make tough decisions.  He could think more clearly inside the void.  But, try as he may, the void was beyond his grasp today.  Maybe he was distracted by thoughts of yesterday's troubles.  Actually, he was somehow hoping to find a way to shift this topic to Soosie's attention since she was much better at handling this type of thing.  "Mahdi?", Erina pleaded somewhat impatiently.  "A moment, please, dear.  I need to think on this a moment."  Loni could feel the deep furrow forming across his forehead as he tried harder to come up with an answer worthy of someone who interprets the Pattern.  Why couldn't he get inside that void!!!

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"You are right, youngling.  You should stay as far away from that monster as you possibly can.  Just hope that you have not caught anything nasty from him!  After all.  He WAS conceived well AFTER his father made that filthy oath to do the bidding of the Dark One!!!  Why, Jake was probably BORN a darkfriend!  Like father, like son, you know?  You surely wouldn't want to have anything to do with the son of someone like Jon Jonsten...a man who could CHANNEL!!!".  :o


Loni shook his head and lowered his eyes toward the ground.  He waited for Erina's reaction.  He didn't have to wait long.


"What are you talking about, Mahdi?", the heat in her voice showing that he had struck a nerve.  "You make no sense at all!  That oath, no matter how filthy, could not possibly have been passed to Jake at birth!  And he certainly is NOT a MONSTER!  He's the kindest, gentlest person I know!  I LOVE HIM!  And just because his father could channel doesn't mean that HE will!  Mahdi, I think you are WAY out of line!!!".  >:(


Loni slowly raised his eyes to meet hers.  Gradually, he allowed them to regain their normal twinkle.  He also allowed his smile to return.  It took a few moments for Erina to catch on.  When she did finally understand that he had steered her toward her own answer, she smiled and blushed.  Her anger was replaced with embarrassment.  :-[


"Forgive me, Mahdi.  I should not have bothered you.  I had the answer all along.  I knew that I still needed Jake but I was afraid because of what happened.  I hope that he will understand.".  :'(


Loni gathered her to him for a sympathetic hug.  "He loves you, too.  All of this must have been VERY hard for him.  He needs you.  Now, most of all.  You need to find the strength within you to talk with him."  Erina nodded.  "Good.  Now, will you do me a favor?".  She raised her head from his chest and looked up at him.  "Please spread the word among the wagons that we will not be traveling today.  We need to gather to mourn our losses.  I will address everyone at a special noon meal in the center of the wagons.  Can you do that for me?".  Erina snuffled then nodded and smiled.  She strode away confidently.




The ceremonial fire was not large yet it was big enough that all could gaze into it.  It waved it's arms hypnotically.  Gently swaying with the light breeze.  Sparks rose occasionally then disappeared somewhere above.  The logs glowed brighter then dimmed.  Bright.  Dim.  Smoke meandered upward.  Staring deeply into the fire helped Loni to relax.


But, this was not the time for relaxing.  The work at hand was important.  Every instinct that the Pattern gave him was alive.  This meeting was vital to the welfare of his People.  When he was sure that everyone was present and when the mood felt right, he spoke.


"We have lost two of our beloved neighbors.  One we are sure has awakened from the dream.  The other, we will never see again.  If we do, he will not be the same person that we once knew and loved.  It is important that we take time out to mourn and remember.  Rasine Brousier.  Jon Jonsten.  Will anyone speak?".


Several listeners hung their heads in contemplation.  Others hugged each other and cried.  Some took turns standing and sharing kind memories of what a wonderful person Rasine had been.  He was always so cheerful and willing to lend a hand.  Lowiz sobbed loud and steady.  She had helped him to build a wagon and was expecting their first child in the spring.  Loni waited.  None of the People offered any words for Jon.  When the time seemed right, he spoke.


"Jon Jonsten was my friend.", he began.  "I didn't know that he was a darkfriend.".  That brought gasps and wails from the crowd.  "I never knew that he could channel."  Even stronger reactions were heard.  "Until the very MOMENT that he told us his story, I had no idea that any of that was true."  The Pattern told him to pause.  The listeners needed to absorb those words.


"My last memory of Jon is that of watching him being whisked away by that tornado along with that awful person who had tricked him so long ago.  I can't get that picture to fade.  I know that it WILL fade with time, but right now it looms and haunts me.  It frightens me.  It makes me angry.".  Several onlookers shoot looks of disapproval toward him.  "Yes!  I admit that I allow the memory of that scene to cause me anger!  And hate!!!".  The listeners fall silent and stare blankly toward him.  They can't believe what they are hearing.


"There.  Now that I've said it, I feel better.  Perhaps now I will find a way to deal with these bad feelings.  I don't like feeling this way.  That is NOT how I want to remember Jon.  Like I said before, Jon was a good friend.  He and I shared many hours together in good, honest, hard work.  We laughed often.  We shared tears when my dah awoke from his dream.  I watched him grow from a scared young man into a confident husband and father.  With the exception of my last few moments near him, he brought genuine joy to my life just by being himself.  I can't allow myself to dwell on those agonizing memories of the loss of my friend.  I must remember the good times.  And so should all of you.".


"I don't always understand the Will of the Pattern clearly.  Sometimes, it's weave is cloudy for me.  I can't always tell why things happen as they do.  Jon's moment of weakness shows us what can happen when we lose patience.  His own desire to be with Trisha became more important than waiting for the Pattern to send her to him.  And, what if she had not been meant for him?  His oath could have cause the Pattern to be distorted unnaturally.  The affects could have been rippled throughout the People in who knows how many ways.  We must all learn from Jon's mistake.  Be patient.  Allow the Pattern to expose it's Will to you.  Accept what is meant to be.  Don't let your personal desires cause you trouble.  Some of the greatest rewards that you will earn are those that are the result of unanswered prayers.".


"Forgive Jon.  You will not likely soon forget.  I won't.  I expect that it will take quite some time before I stop seeing him being lifted skyward.  I don't know that I will EVER forget his disclosure.  I will work hard each day to remove the anger and hatred from my mind because I know deep within my heart what kind of damage that can do to my soul.  My love for the good memories of Jon will allow me to forgive him.  Jon was my friend.".

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"Now, son," Trisha said in an understanding tone, "you know that causing yourself to awaken from the dream is not an option.  That goes against everything that you have been taught since the day you were old enough to understand the word 'NO'.  Not that I haven't considered it myself.  What we...learned...about your father.  I just can't get it out of my mind.  I would never have guessed it.  Not in a million ages.  Not my Jon."  She sobbed for a few moments then continued.  "Remember, son.  The Pattern weaves our threads to fit it's design.  We must willingly accept the good along with the bad.  Or in this case, the ultimate terrible."


"I know, I know.", Jake said sarcastically.  "The Pattern tells the wind to remove the leaf from the tree.  The leaf does not decide when it is time to fall.".  That had been one of his earliest memorization tasks.  Everyone who knew the Way of the Leaf knew that saying.  He really did wish right now that he had never heard those restrictive words.  "I need to go for a walk."  He didn't wait for his mother's approval.  He simply got up and left.  At that particular moment, being rude was the least of his worries.


"Give her time.  She'll be back.  You must be patient.  She has suffered, too.  She still loves you...she just needs time to heal.".  Jake knew that his muhmah had been trying to cheer him up and to give him some sprig of hope to cling to.  That was her job.  He also knew that she was wrong.  Erina had pretended to have a headache so that she wouldn't have to speak with him.  She hated him.  Because his father was a channeling darkfriend!  He didn't blame her for not loving him any more.


With so much on his mind, Jake didn't pay attention to how far he had walked or in which direction.  It felt good to walk.  He picked up his pace a little.  The exercise helped to ease his sorrow.  Emptying his mind and working hard.  That was good medicine.  Faster.  Harder.  Soon he was trotting.  Sweat beaded on his forehead.  It felt GOOD!  He pushed himself to a full speed run.  Dodging tree branches he sprinted through the underbrush full bore.  He could hold it back no more.  He let out all of the wind in his lungs in a loud roar that would have done a bear proud!




His head was throbbing.  His chest was pounding.  He had to stop to catch his breath.  His muscles tightened and he collapsed in a heap.  It hurt.  But it felt great.  It took his mind off from his woes.  Almost.  Just as his previously haunting thoughts gradually began creeping back into his awareness, he heard a twig snap.  His breathing stopped as he turned in the direction that the faint sound had come from.  He thought his eyes were not working properly.  A Maiden of the Spear stood looking down at him with a sheepish grin on her face.


"You run well, Lost One.  I saw no lion.  Were you racing against the wind?".  She bent over slightly as she began to laugh and bang her spear against the stretched hide on her other arm.  She seemed very delighted over the joke that Jake did not understand at all.  Not wanting to appear to be rude, he sent her a half-hearted smile while trying to get up.  She offered him her hand.  He thought about refusing it but then he remembered that the Lost Ones could be easily offended over the simplest matter sometimes.  He took her hand and finished rising.


"I was running from myself.  And my father.  And a girl who no longer loves me.  It felt good to run."  For a brief instant he thought that he had been too open to a stranger.  Her smile was replaced with a face reflecting concerned thought.  He considered offering his apology, but instead he changed the subject.  "What are YOU doing here, Lost One?".

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"We do not see each other.", the Maiden said solemnly.  "I am Sahandra of the Two Valley clan of the Shaido Aiel."  She waited.  Like a master waiting for a stupid dog to retrieve a thrown stick.  A dog that was too dumb to know that it was supposed to go and get the stick and bring it back.  She finally placed both hands on her hips, cocked her left knee to one side, frowned, and tapped her toe on the ground.


"Oh.  Sorry.", Jake said blushing.  "I was...thinking...about something else.".  He didn't want to tell her that he had been daydreaming about how lovely a shade of blueish gray her eyes were.  Or that he had been noticing the fine tone of her muscles.  She certainly didn't need to hear that she had a nice tan.  Her clothes were the usual drab colors worn by Maidens but that was OK.  She had a nice smile and a pleasant voice...and a healthy laugh.  "I am Jake Jonsten, son of Jon and Trisha, of the Lorrena wagons of the Tuatha'an."


"I see you, Jake Jonsten.", Sahandra replied as she openly looked him over slowly from top to bottom.  "You carry no extra weight as do many of the wetlanders.  Your clothes would not allow you to hide very well, but I have seen Lost Ones before.  You have nice eyes.  I might enjoy sharing a sweat tent with you."  She smiled pleasantly yet almost...seductively!  :o


Jake had no idea of how to respond.  Some Tuatha'an girls could be quite open with their thoughts at times, but this was ridiculous!  He had no idea what a sweat tent might be used for but from her expression he got the idea that it would not be anything proper.  He blushed at the thought and Sahandra once again doubled over in laughter.  "What?", was the best that Jake could come up with.


"I have heard of the modesty of the Lost Ones.  Your eyes betray your thoughts, Jake Jonsten.".  She was smiling that smile again.


"Why do you call ME a Lost One?  YOU are the Lost One.".


In the blink of an eye Sahandra's spear tip was touching his nose.  Not enough to make him bleed but enough to make him jump backward.  She seemed satisfied that her move had provided the desired response.  She nodded then pointed the spear tip to the ground beside her foot.


"Rand Al'Thor told our people that we once served the Aes Sedai.  He told us that the Lost Ones have the same ancestors that we do.  His story lives in the glass columns of Rhuidean.  Some say that we must enter those columns along with the Lost Ones to remember who we once were.".  As she spoke she regained the "talking to a dummy" look on her face.


"The Dragon Reborn also visited our wagons.  He told us that we should go to Rhuidean.  I believe that is where our Mahdi is leading us.  I didn't know about the glass columns.  Have you been through them?".  Jake apparently gained some respect as he spoke because her expression softened.


"No.  The Wise Ones do not allow it.  They have seen the Pattern.  None shall enter alone.  No Aiel.  No Lost One.  Only together shall they be allowed.".  Her face was stone.


Jake was caught in the path of a landslide of rushing boulders.  Their weight came crushing down on top of him and smothered him.  He could hardly breath.  "Why do you look so pale, Jake Jonsten?", Sahandra asked with concern showing clearly on her face.  Jake tried to struggle free, to get the weight off from his chest.  Even though there were not any real boulders the feeling was real.  "Will you go through the glass columns with me, Sahandra?".  He couldn't believe that he had actually gotten the words out.




"We can't wait any longer, Trisha.  I'm sorry.  We have to leave now.  Perhaps Jake will pick up our trail and catch up in a day or two.  Try not to worry.  Arlen has offered to bring his wagon up behind yours in case you need anything.  Just shout ahead to Rhum if you need to stop.  I'm sorry.  We must go.".  Trisha wiped the tears from her eyes with the corner of her apron and nodded.  "I understand.", she sighed.  Loni hung his head and studied the ground in front of him as he headed back toward his wagon.



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Chester Drauleir checked the sky above to be sure that his stomach was telling him the truth.  Yes, the sun was almost directly overhead already.  Where had the morning gone to so quickly.  The wagons seemed to crawl as they approached Kinslayer's Dagger.  At this pace it would be close to a month before they reached Rhuidean.  His Mahdi instinct as well as the visit a few months earlier by the man claiming to be the Dragon Reborn told him that was where the wagons would end up.  He was not in a hurry.  The Pattern would get them there by it's own design.


As he lowered his eyes back to the faint path in front of him, the corner of his eye caught a bright color through the trees.  He turned his head in that direction.  Sure enough, he could see movement.  Bright yellow.  With brilliant green wheels.  A wagon.  Not just any wagon.  The wagon of Loni Lorrena.  Without thinking, he let the oath slip out.  "CRAP!!!"  As expected, his beautiful wife Trycksi heard clearly what he had almost shouted.  She stuck her face through the window beneath his seat and asked, "what was that?".  >:(


Ches blushed.  Even though she probably couldn't see the blush, he felt as if she could.  "Forgive me, dearest.  That just sort of slipped out.  You'll never guess who's wagon I just caught sight of through the trees."


"It's the Lorrena group.  I told you three nights ago that I had dreamed of them.  Remember?".  He could not see the look on her face but he knew from experience that he did not want to.  The memory came back to him.  She HAD spoke of Loni.  Not his wagons.  Just Loni.  The man who she had almost asked to build her a wagon.  Sure.  That was over fifty years ago.  But, still.  She could have said that she had dreamed of meeting their wagons.  But, NO!!!


Realizing what his own expression must be saying at that moment, Ches tried to calm himself.  This would not be easy.  The last meeting between these two groups had not ended well.  Ches had allowed his jealousy to cause him to be rude.  He had not offered a final feast to Loni before leaving as was tradition.  After all.  Loni had offered the first greeting.  It was up to Chester to throw the departure dinner.  Instead, he had made excuses and lead his wagons away without so much as a decent breakfast buffet.  Ches felt such shame that he didn't know if he would be able to face the People of the Lorrena wagons or not.


"Yes, my love, I do remember now.  I should have been expecting them.".  Trycksi quite often could somehow tell what would happen in the near future.  Not always.  But, when she said that she dreamed that something would happen, more times than not it did.  Ches thought that she must have some kind of special Talent.  He had not been surprised to learn that Loni's wife had a similar ability.  It might even have been a gift of the Pattern to wives of Mahdi to aid them with their duties.


Dumping all of the plans that he had made for the day's travel, Ches turned his team toward Loni's wagon.  He shouted to try to get Loni's attention.  When he finally did, he was close enough to see the look on Loni's face.  He thought that he made out the oath that Loni let slip as he saw Chester's wagon..."CRAP!!!"...that's what it looked like he said, anyway.

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Pherno, in his new body, stepped through the gateway, the hot, desert air of the Aiel Waste following him through before he closed it. Examining his surroundings, he saw that two groups of colourful wagons were stopping in a clearing ahead of him. Pherno smiled broudly and laughed. Now it was time for revenge. He hoped that that old fool GrandpaG would follow him, and, when they fought, they would turn the Tinkers wagons into a battlefield that would end with Pherno standing alone amidst a pile of ash. He quivered in exitment at the thought.

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The wagons took turns.  First one wagon from one group.  The next wagon from the other group.  They continued this way until one long line of alternating wagons was formed.  There were a few left over because one group had a few more wagons than the other.  They simply fell in at the tail of the line.  When all of the wagons were lined up, the lead wagon turned in a large arc.  The others followed.  The arc continued until the lead wagon crept up onto the tail of the last wagon.  This formed the Circle of Union for this meeting.


With the proper Circle of Union formed, both Mahdi made their way to the center.  All of the People of the newly formed Union approached the center but not close enough to crowd anyone.  The small children clung to their mother's skirts timidly.  They did not often see strangers.  Especially strangers wearing differently colored clothes than they were used to seeing.  Bright and beautiful, perhaps, but still...different.


The traditional greetings were exchanged and the pair of leaders lit the ceremonial Central Fire together.  Each leader formally introduced the other to all of the People then together they declared that the next three days were to be spent in celebration of the fact that the Pattern had chosen this meeting to take place.  All young adults of the wagon building age were encouraged to intermingle to the fullest extent possible...within the realm of decency, of course.  The evening meal would be followed with music and dancing for all to enjoy.  Any extra food should be brought to the Central Fire area for sharing.  "Don't forget your prayers of thanks for this gathering.", Chester added just before everyone disbursed.


As they headed back toward their wagons, Loni patted Ches on the shoulder.  "It's good to see you again, my old friend.  It has been too many years since the Pattern brought our paths together.".  Chester looked at him feeling the shame once more.  "So you have forgiven my rudeness during the departure from our last meeting?".  Loni's smile said that forgiveness might be possible but that he had not forgotten.  "Of course.  Time heals all wounds.  Besides.  We're blood brothers, remember?"


Ches smiled happily.  He had almost forgotten.  As young children their groups had met and the two of them had grown fond enough of each other that they had opened wounds on their fingers and held them together to allow their blood to mingle.  "Forever."  That was the agreement that they had made.  They would be brothers forever.  Strange that Loni should remember that now after all of these years and all that had happened between them since that bloody ceremony.


Loni's expression became concerned.  He looked as if he had something to say that would not be pleasant.  To help his friend, Ches asked, "What is it, Loni?  What's wrong?".  After several more seconds of apparently searching for the proper words Loni said, "You remember Jon Jonsten?".  Ches nodded.  "Well.  He.  He's gone.".  Ches searched Loni's face for more meaning.  "You mean he's left your group?".  Ches still did not fully understand what Loni was getting at.


Loni motioned for Ches to take a seat on a nearby rock.  He explained what had happened with Jon.  And Jake.  Ches was shocked to say the least.  He had not known Jon well, but what he did know of him he liked.  This revelation was most unsettling.  "And, now, my wife has dreamed the return of the dastardly fiend who caused Jon all of that pain.  Please excuse my hatred.  I am trying to control it but it is a struggle.  What do you suggest that I do?".


Ches tried to imagine himself in Loni's situation.  It was painful to think about.  Would he try to explain to this Pherno character that this is a peaceful, non-violent thread and that he should practice his evil elsewhere?  Would he enlist the aid of the good character Arlen who was helping Jon's widow?  Would he just ignore the posts of the evil one?  "Loni, my friend, I honestly don't know what I would do in your shoes.  Can't you just send the bugger back to that other thread where he killed Jon?"  Loni shook his head sadly.  Ches laid his hand onto his blood brother's shoulder.  "Have faith.  The Pattern will work this out for you.  Maybe his computer will crash or he'll lose access to the web?".  ::)

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Jake wove the last pine brow through the skeleton of branches that he had formed into an overnight shelter.  If it rained they would still get wet, but not as badly as they would if they were totally exposed.  This was similar to sleeping under a bush but a little bit better.  Sahandra seemed mildly impressed.  For some reason, that made him smile.


"I usually try to travel with at least two of my spear sisters.  That way we can take turns sleeping.  The two on the outside watch over each other's shoulder while the one in the middle sleeps warmly.  Each of the three loses two thirds of a night's sleep but at least everyone is guarded and gets one third of a night's sleep instead of none.  Not to mention spending the whole night cold.".  Sahandra made it all seem like something that should make sense to a child.


"What do you do when there are only two of you instead of three?", Jake asked innocently.  Sahandra backed away from him and stared as if his face had just turned to mush and was melting down his chest.  When she realized that his question had been serious, she tried to answer.  "We do not travel that way unless it is necessary.  That is far too intimate.  Alone is better.  Better to be cold.".  She nodded to herself.  "Definitely better to be alone.".


The logic of it all was crystal clear to Sahandra and dull as mud to Jake.  He could see no difference.  Less sleep, yes.  More time guarding, yes.  More intimate?  Where did THAT come from?  For what must have been the hundredth time since they met he reminded himself that the Lost Ones had a strange view of the world.


Like eating meat.  The pure thought of it almost made him gag.  His memory was still clear of watching her stalk that rabbit then shooting it with one of her arrows.  She had used her knife to open it's belly.  Jake had lost the contents of his own belly at the sight of it.  Then she had used her finger nails to separate the skin from it's body all the way up to it's neck.  With one savage twisting motion she had removed the head then casually tossed the unwanted head and hide into the underbrush.  She thought nothing of it.  He could not forget.


Jake had offered her some of the food that he had found.  His mother had taught him well which things to eat and which to avoid.  His father had learned a lesson recently about which mushrooms should not be eaten.  Sahandra had insisted that she was "in the mood for cooked rabbit".



OOC: to be continued.  Gotta go to work.  DRAT!!!  >:(

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OOC: *sigh* I can tell that you do not want any action or excitement in this thread, so i will withdraw, as i cannot stomach all this soap-opera-like junk.  :) If you want some action, please have Grandpa verse Pherno in the last battle thread. come on, you know you want to.  :D

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OOC: *sigh* I can tell that you do not want any action or excitement in this thread, so i will withdraw, as i cannot stomach all this soap-opera-like junk.  :) If you want some action, please have Grandpa verse Pherno in the last battle thread. come on, you know you want to.  :D



Yes.  Every Tinker fights a constant battle against the rage that eats away at his soul.  Deep inside, his genes are of the same strand as the Aiel.  Only his constant fanatic following of the Way of the Leaf allows him to control his urges to "stand up and be a real man".  But, then, how is a "real man" defined?  Muscle?  Anger?  Might is right?  Survival of the fittest?  Living to fight another day?  It all depends upon how you were raised.  See you in the Last Battle thread.  ;)

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Jake wove the last pine brow through the skeleton of branches that he had formed into an overnight shelter.  If it rained they would still get wet, but not as badly as they would if they were totally exposed.  This was similar to sleeping under a bush but a little bit better.  Sahandra seemed mildly impressed.  For some reason, that made him smile.


"I usually try to travel with at least two of my spear sisters.  That way we can take turns sleeping.  The two on the outside watch over each other's shoulder while the one in the middle sleeps warmly.  Each of the three loses two thirds of a night's sleep but at least everyone is guarded and gets one third of a night's sleep instead of none.  Not to mention spending the whole night cold.".  Sahandra made it all seem like something that should make sense to a child.


"What do you do when there are only two of you instead of three?", Jake asked innocently.  Sahandra backed away from him and stared as if his face had just turned to mush and was melting down his chest.  When she realized that his question had been serious, she tried to answer.  "We do not travel that way unless it is necessary.  That is far too intimate.  Alone is better.  Better to be cold.".  She nodded to herself.  "Definitely better to be alone.".


The logic of it all was crystal clear to Sahandra and dull as mud to Jake.  He could see no difference.  Less sleep, yes.  More time guarding, yes.  More intimate?  Where did THAT come from?  For what must have been the hundredth time since they met he reminded himself that the Lost Ones had a strange view of the world.


Like eating meat.  The pure thought of it almost made him gag.  His memory was still clear of watching her stalk that rabbit then shooting it with one of her arrows.  She had used her knife to open it's belly.  Jake had lost the contents of his own belly at the sight of it.  Then she had used her finger nails to separate the skin from it's body all the way up to it's neck.  With one savage twisting motion she had removed the head then casually tossed the unwanted head and hide into the underbrush.  She thought nothing of it.  He could not forget.


Jake had offered her some of the food that he had found.  His mother had taught him well which things to eat and which to avoid.  His father had learned a lesson recently about which mushrooms should not be eaten.  Sahandra had insisted that she was "in the mood for cooked rabbit".



OOC: to be continued.  Gotta go to work.  DRAT!!!  >:(


(continuation of the soap opera):



Jake nibbled away at the core of the apple that he had just about finished eating.  He tried hard to avoid looking at the carcass being slowly rotated over the campfire.  Grease dripped off from it and made a "poof" sound as it created a tiny explosion sending ashes soaring upward and momentarily flared the fire.  As he understood it, the unclean used the fat from animals to make soap.  No wonder they were called the unclean.  He discarded the apple core and began nibbling a wild carrot that he had found.


"You never did tell me what you are doing this far from home.", he said in an attempt to break the silence that had settled in.  Sandy, as he had decided to call her because it was short for Sahandra and because the Aiel Waste had lots of sand, wrinkled her eyebrows and stared sadly at the cooking meat.  For a moment he actually thought she was having regrets for killing the rabbit.  Then she spoke.


"I, too, was running.  I was running from Toh.  I had an...obligation...that I was not willing to fulfill.  So, like a cowardly Lost One, I ran away.  The weight of that Toh would not let me stop running.  I should have turned back when I reached the wetlands but my feet would not allow me to go back.  My shame was more than double.  I had the original Toh, then the dishonor of running away.  I may never be able to face Sharleena again."


"Who is Sharleena?", Jake asked trying to sound sympathetic.


"A spear sister.  And a near-sister.  We shared our tent for many nights.".  She glanced at him to see if he caught her meaning.  Obviously, he did not.  "We were...CLOSE!!!", she stated emphatically.  Jake was still being thick brained.  "She was my lover, stupid!". 


"Oh.", he replied nonchalantly.  He finally caught her drift.  It sunk in.  He gave her an Edith Bunker look.  "OOHHHHhh!!!".  He blushed.  He tried not to look shocked.  After all.  The Lost Ones were very strange.  That gave new meaning to the intimacy logic, too.  Jake felt the need for a subject change.


"So, why are you agreeing to go to the glass columns with me?".


Sandy thought for a brief moment.  "That will bring much Ji.", she nodded as she spoke.  "To be the first to enter the glass columns with a Lost One will be a sign of extreme bravery.  All will speak the name Sahandra with respect for many years.  Perhaps, if I return, Shar will forgive me and allow me to meet my Toh to her.".  Absentmindedly, Sandy stroked the handle of her belt knife.  Jake thought that could not be good.


"Why do you say 'if' you return?".  Jake knew he looked puzzled.  He was.


"Did not Rand Al'Thor tell you?  Many who enter the glass columns do not return.  Wise Ones return.  Clan Chiefs return.  Many do not.".  She must have noticed the concerned look on Jake's face.  "Since a Lost One has never been known to enter, I do not know if YOU will return or not.".  She said in her normal matter-of-fact tone.  Water is wet.  Jake might not return.


The earlier silence returned.  Jake turned away as Sandy began chewing on her evening meal.  The smell was almost as bad as watching her would have been.  He had smelled that before at a place where the People had been attacked by trollocs.  His stomach churned at the thought of it.


Sandy let out a healthy burp when the last bone hit the underbrush.  The sun gave it's last few rays for the day shortly thereafter.  It was time for bed.  Jake had gathered as many dead ferns as he could find.  They made the best cushion of all the wild things available.  He did not pick green ones because they were still alive.  There was no need to harvest them.  Besides, they would leak sap all over your clothes.  The dead ones were best.


"So.  How do you keep each other warm when there are only two?", he tried to ask innocently.


Sandy answered innocently.  "You have to take turns staying awake.  If the sleeper snores, the one who is awake must rouse them.  Snoring can attract wild animals.  When the one who is awake can stand no more of the cold, you swap places.  We usually toss belt knives into the air to decide who gets to sleep first.  You have to call whether your knife will stick in the ground or land on it's handle."


Being a proper gentleman, Jake offered to take the first watch.  Sandy shrugged and assumed a fetal position on the bed of ferns.  She motioned for Jake to crawl in behind her.  He was being shy so she backed tighter to him.  His back was cold enough to keep him awake.  His front was nice and warm.  He hugged Sandy as close as he could allow himself while reminding his brain that he was just keeping her warm enough to let her get some sleep.


"I hope that is not a spear that you are poking me in the back with.", she sighed just before she started to snore.





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OOC:  I thought of a couple of alternate possible scenes for the above post.



Jake finished his apple and tossed the core aside.  He started munching on a wild carrot that he had found.  His ears started growing.  A fuzzy cotton tail popped out of the seat of his breeches.  His nose shrunk and his whiskers grew really long.  He nibbled lazily at the carrot which he now held between his two front paws.  He sat on the ground with his huge rear paws to either side.


Sandy tossed away the last bone from her supper and looked up.  Her eyes got huge then narrowed to evil slits.  Drool oozed from the corners of her mouth.  She stared at Jake intently.  He didn't know why.  Maybe he was crunching too loud?  Sandy produced a whet stone and slowly began honing a sharp edge on her belt knife.  The look on her face told Jake that he was in hot water but he had no clue why.  When he asked her what she was thinking, she raised her black veil and replied, "I'm in the mood for rabbit.".  >:D


===============================================   OR:


Jake finished his apple and tossed the core aside.  He started munching on a wild carrot that he had found.  His ears started growing.  A fuzzy cotton tail popped out of the seat of his breeches.  His nose shrunk and his whiskers grew really long.  He nibbled lazily at the carrot which he now held between his two front paws.  He sat on the ground with his huge rear paws to either side.


Sandy tossed away the last bone from her supper and looked up.  Her eyes got huge then narrowed to evil slits.  Drool oozed from the corners of her mouth.  She stared at Jake intently.  He didn't know why.  Maybe he was crunching too loud?  Sandy shook her head from side to side letting her short hair slap her in the eyes.  She laughed wildly.  She ripped off her shoufa and black veil and gave them a toss into the underbrush.  Piece by piece the rest of her cadinsor vanished into the bushes.  Naked as a jay bird, drooling like a basset hound, she began to stalk toward Jake.  When he asked her what she was thinking, she replied, "I'm in the mood for rabbit.".  >:D



I couldn't resist.  ;D

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As the greeting ceremony came to an end and the two Mahdi headed off for private conversation all of the mothers with young children made their way toward the Central Fire.  Each youngster was allowed to toss one small dried twig onto the fire to signify their participation in the meeting.  Even though their contributions might seem insignificant compared to the raging fire, each one of them now had the memory that they had been a part of the ceremony.  This was the traditional close of the opening ceremony.  They always waited until the Mahdi were gone.  This was special.  Just for the children.


Many of the children were still being shy.  A very few of the most outgoing kids excitedly began running about and laughing.  Some stopped here and there to poke a friendly finger at one of the shy ones.  Within a very short amount of time, all of the children from both groups were smiling and getting used to one another.  Before this meeting was over, several would share their blood.


The mothers intermingled while the children played.  Many of them had met before.  Some had not.  Some had joined these groups of wagons during meetings such as this one.  All of the People knew that this exchange was necessary to prevent inbreeding.  Besides.  It was always nice to meet new People.


The most important part of this meeting was the young people who were at an age to be thinking about building wagons of their own.  Even though there was no set rule to follow, in general the young women did not reach this age until at least their fourteenth name day.  Many were not ready to leave the wagon of their parents until they were as old as seventeen or eighteen.  The young men were not usually mature enough to settle down until they were at least sixteen or seventeen.  Rarely, some "late bloomers" waited until they were nineteen or twenty.  Young men or women who did not build a wagon by then seldom built one at all.  They either stayed with their parents or shared a wagon with another who had not chosen the normal path.  The Pattern accepted them all.


This particular meeting was no exception.  Soon after the children added their wood to the blaze, the young men of both groups congregated in an area as far from the young women as they could get while still remaining within sight of them.  As with the others, some of the young men knew the others and some did not.  Same with the young women.  Before long, both groups were abuzz.  There was much giggling and glancing.  Playful shoves.  Ruffled hair.  Strutting about.  More glancing and giggling.  And the girls were just as bad.  Some of them occasionally stuck out a tongue for attention.  This was an exciting time to be of the proper wagon building age indeed.


Erina tried very hard to enjoy the excitement.  She had almost been old enough to join in the last meeting.  She and some of her friends had taken some of the other girls aside to pretend that they really were old enough.  Of course, she had spent her time ogling Jake Jonsten.  Now, here she was actually old enough and Jake was gone.  Possibly forever.  This was NOT going to be a happy meeting.  :'(


Just as she was considering going back to her own wagon for a nap, she glanced over at the group of young men.  Off to one side, sitting atop a wooden barrel, wearing bright blue pants with a stunning red stripe down the outside of the leg and a yellow pullover shirt with ivy vines embroidered around the collar and sleeve cuffs, was possibly the most beautiful man who had ever been born.  He appeared to be deep in thought.  When he glanced up briefly in her direction, she quickly looked away.  She couldn't let him catch her staring at him.


For the first time in a long time she felt her heart skip a beat.  Then it kicked up the pace until it was beating in high gear.  She could feel her face blushing.  She should NOT be having these thoughts about a total stranger!  And so soon...Jake had not been gone THAT long!  Oh, if only she had some way of knowing whether he would EVER return!  Her pulse fluttered.  Maybe she didn't really need a nap just yet.  Maybe she should just stay here for a while longer.  Just to be sociable.  She nodded.  Yes.  Must be sociable.

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Bright pink was not her favorite color but Trisha had grabbed the closest apron available when she had learned of the approaching wagons.  With all of the commotion of the joining and the ceremonies she had not taken time to fetch a different one.  It didn't go well with her hot orange blouse and rich red dress but she didn't really care.  After all.  She still wore the white ribbon around her neck that told everyone that she had recently lost her wagon driver.  Why should she care what she looked like?


It felt good to see Paemla again.  Even though she had been one of Trisha's main rivals for Jon's attention, they had been very close friends as children.  It had been a sad day when she announced that she was going to build a wagon with that horribly ugly man Klem.  She had left the wagon group that they had grown up in to join Klem's group as was traditional.  Although, come to think of it, that had made it easier for Trisha to land Jon as her driver.  Oh, well.  That was all old news.  Jon was gone.  Paemla still had ugly Klem.  Maybe Trisha would catch up with Paemla some time later.


It was cute to watch the young women parading for the young men while pretending not to.  It made her smile remembering the excitement of those times.  Sometimes it seemed so long ago.  Other times it just seemed like yesterday.  That happy, light-hearted feeling seemed miles away today.  She smiled anyway.


"You always did have a lovely smile.", came a calm, smooth voice from beside her.  Trisha had not noticed that she had company.  She glanced sideways to see who had spoken then quickly fixed her gaze solidly back upon the girls.  It was WIL!!!  WILEM BILES!!!  The heart throb of every girl that she had ever known...except for herself, of course...she ALWAYS knew that her driver would be Jon Jonsten.  What was HE doing here?  If that jealous twit Arleena saw him talking to her she'd strap his hide all the way back to their wagon with a big thick stick!  "I heard about your loss.  You have my condolences.".  His voice was soft and smooth...like freshly churned butter.


Trisha wanted to run.  She really was not ready for a cat fight with a woman over a man who she could never love as much as she had her Jon.  She could feel her pulse in her throat.  Her head wanted to throb.  She was certain that her face was as red as her dress.  She felt like one of the silly girls that she was staring at so intently.  "Hello, Wil.  Aren't you afraid that Ar will see you talking to another woman?".  She tried not to sound too snotty.


"Ar awoke from the dream last winter.  We were up near the borderlands.  She was looking for winter berries to make me a special pie for my name day.  The ice gave way as she was crossing a pond.  By the time we got her out of the freezing cold water, it was too late.  She caught her death of cold.  Sneezing.  Wheezing.  Coughing.  Hacking up phloem.  It was awful.  I cared for her in our bed for a week.  One morning she simply would not wake up.  She told me that it was not my fault but I still blame myself.  If only I had never told her that I enjoyed winter berry pie.".  He shook his head sadly.


Trisha felt terrible.  For Wil.  Not for Ar.  She had been a witch of a woman.  He was better off without her.  He could do MUCH better!  When she realized what she had been thinking, her face turned redder than it had been before.  This time, it was from shame.  She should not have bad thoughts about those who had awakened.  "Forgive me, Wil.  I...I didn't know.".

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The aching pain in his shoulders from splitting wood all afternoon was gone.  Jon could sort of almost remember that afternoon a couple of weeks ago.  But not really.  It was a blur.  As was his mushroom dream.  Actually, most of what had been the dream that he had recently been awakened from by the madman Pherno was gradually dissipating.  He could almost feel his flesh melting away from his bones but the pain was a fading memory.  Trisha.  He could barely remember her now.  The sensation of her would be forever etched in the essence of his accumulated being, but he could no longer sense the smell or touch of what he had experienced of her during the dream.  Like the pain, the pleasurable memories would soon be gone.


Shortly after Pherno had caused him to awaken, Jon had noticed a somehow familiar bright light in the distance.  Since he no longer had vision, the light did not hurt his eyes even though it was more brilliant than the sun.  It pulsed and beckoned him to approach it.  He was drawn like a mosquito to a bug zapper.  His sense of awareness that he had not used very often during the dream now told him that the light was not to be feared but rather that he should embrace it.


He had no legs to walk on.  He had no arms to swim with.  Yet, somehow, he was able to move toward the light.  He tried to look at himself to see what he looked like but he could not.  Grasping that other sense of awareness, he imagined himself.  A small, glowing spot of light.  Pulsing.  Actually, he was pulsing in rhythm with the light that he was traveling toward.


He briefly remembered using this sense a few times during his recent dream.  There had been times when he could feel that he was being watched or approached when none of his other senses had been able to detect anything.  Awareness.  So that was how that worked.  It seemed so simple.  Why had he not used it more freely during the dream?  Perhaps the dream somehow clouded his ability to be aware?


The longer that he was away from that recent dream, the more details Jon forgot about it.  Try as he may he could no longer remember his last name.  Or the other dreamers that he had interacted with.  Or the fact that he had been a male.  It was all becoming less and less vivid.  As he forgot more of the dream, he remembered more of his reality.  The reality that awaited him at the center of the source of the light.


He could no longer remember his name in the dream.  He was almost able to remember his name in the real existence.  BBBZzzz.  BBBBBZZzzzzz.    BBBUUUUZZZZARRRRRDDDDD.  Patience.  It would come back to him soon.  To avoid the unnecessary frustration of waiting to relearn his name, he decided to think of himself as Buzz for now.  It was good enough.  Names really didn't matter anyway.


Buzz allowed himself to relax and to enjoy the ride.  Ancient memories told him that he had no need to worry or hurry.  "Don't worry.  Be happy.".  That ancient thought was somehow etched into his permanent memory.  He could call upon it whenever he wanted or needed to in this reality which was a HUGE advantage over wherever it was that he had just recently been.  He sighed a big sigh and relaxed.


It could have been a few seconds.  It might have been a few days.  Or years.  Time was harder to keep track of here than it had been a short while ago during that crazy dream.  Buzz bumped into something.  Or somebody.  His awareness was not working fully yet.  His memory of other times that he had awakened from other dreams told him that it would be a while before he had full use of all of his functions again.


He tried to "look around" to find out what he had contacted.  It was clumsy.  Kind of like feeling your way around a dark cellar with your eyes closed and not being able to open them.  Maybe things around him changed.  Or, maybe he regained some of his ability to "see".  He could "sense" another being.  Close.  Another speck of light.  Floating aimlessly.  Toward the light.  He tried to yell "hello" to it but couldn't really remember how to.  It floated on it's way without speaking.  "How rude.", Buzz thought.


It was dark all around him.  For as far as his awareness could see.  Yet, in the distance were clusters of glowing orbs.  He imagined himself being near one of those clusters and he was.  As simply and quickly as that.  One moment far away...the next moment up close.  They looked much different up close.  This cluster was made up of hundreds of thousands of individuals.  Buzz approached one of the individuals and peeked through the transparent skin that defined it's shape.


"Trisha.".  Buzz didn't know why that word had significance to him, but he somehow knew that the being inside that orb was familiar to him and that he should not fear it.  He allowed himself to observe it for a few moments.  The image appeared happy.  It was holding on to another image in a strange way.  That contact apparently gave the Trisha image pleasure.  For some unknown reason, Buzz felt the urge to smile.  Buzz felt...peace.


Out of curiosity, Buzz glanced into a few of the other nearby orbs.  None of them gave him any sensations like the Trisha one had.  He soon became bored and imagined himself back drifting again.  Like a single drop of water being drawn down the river toward a huge whirlpool.  He was not sure what all of those things were, but his being sensed it anyway.


After a while he decided that it was time to get down to business.  Rest time was over.  He imagined himself nearing the light.  And he was.  His awareness was sharpening.  He was regaining memories of past dreams.  Hundreds...no, thousands of them.  Each dream had made an impression upon him.  They formed his being.  He was a product of all of those experiences.  The recent dream had added it's mark but it was only one small part of who Buziardonoustoo really was.  And, he was almost home!


All around him he could see his family.  From all directions his siblings headed home from their latest dreams.  Thousands upon thousands of tiny specks of light all headed for home.  Together they would share their experiences.  Buzz would learn from them and he would convey his newly gained insight to them.  All in preparation for the next dream.  After a few millenniums of socializing, each of them would once again venture out into the vast unknown to experience another dream in the Light knows where.


Buzz squeezed in with his family until they quite often bumped into one another.  They were neither too warm nor too cold.  The movement of their wings created a pleasant breeze and a soothing humming noise.  Mother was busy laying more eggs as usual.  Buzz happily helped some of the others building a nice, cozy six-sided incubation chamber out of wax that he secreted from his mouth.  It felt so GOOD to be home! 


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"No.  No.  No!  You're not paying attention!  Which of you wants to be the oldest woman ever born to have a man build her a wagon?".  Trisha gave her words a few seconds to sink in.  Blushes abounded.  Several of the girls looked at their feet.  "I thought not.", she said after the long pause.  "Now, listen.".  She had all of their attention.  They were ready to learn.


"Remember.  You're not trying to advertise that you are hungry for a mate.  You are SUGGESTING that the POSSIBILITY exists that you MIGHT have a MORE THAN FRIENDLY interest in the man that you are dancing for.  He COULD be your choice.  It would be GOOD for both of you if he was.  Promise nothing.  Suggest everything.".  She gave the group a few moments to think on those words.


"The actual movements will come from within YOU.  No two dances will ever be EXACTLY the same.  Free your mind.  Allow the Pattern to control your motions.  I can show you some basic steps.  The actual dance will be up to you.  It's affect on your target will be up to the Pattern.  Have faith and you will succeed."  Trisha remembered hearing almost the same identical speech before she had danced for Jon.


"One strong suggestion that I will make...don't...DON'T...go directly to the one that you desire.  You don't want to seem overly eager.  And, if he has an interest in you, dancing for someone else first might spark a small fire of jealousy which can be useful.  Also, you will gain some practice.  And you can use the other dances to get over some of your nervousness.  It's up to you and the Pattern to decide, but that is my best advice."


Trisha spent the next half hour or so going through some of the basic steps.  Hip movement.  Head swivels.  Shoulder wiggles.  The snake slither.  Tip-toe turning.  The girls followed along.  Most had been secretly practicing for several years now so they caught on quickly.  Trisha blushed a deep shade of red and almost tripped over her own feet when she noticed Wil watching from a nearby rock.

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Erina felt as she was being as bold as one of those shameless borderland unclean hussies.  But there was no time for being shy or slow.  The Meeting was not going to last forever.  She had made up her mind that she would never see Jake again and that she should not pass up the chance to meet this beautiful young man before he got away.  Pretending not to, she inched her way closer to where he was leaning against his mother's wagon watching the other young men being coached about tonight's dance.


"AAAAACCCCHHHHOOOOOO!!!".  He let out a horrendous sneeze.  As he raised his head from the sneeze, he noticed Erina.  "Oh.  Sorry.  I didn't know you were there.  Hope I didn't get any germs on you.".  His voice was as smooth and beautiful as his skin in spite of him obviously having a cold. 


"You're Erina, right?".  He had asked around to find out her name...that was a good sign.  She nodded and smiled as mysteriously as possible.  She didn't want to give away her real thoughts too quickly.  "I watched you practicing.  Will you be dancing tonight?".  Another small nod and smile...shy but friendly.  Use the right bait for the fish that you're after.  "Will you walk and talk with me?".  Time to set the hook.


"Perhaps.  I think that I should know your name, first, though."  Let him know who wears the pants.


"My name is...AAACCCCHHHHHOOOOO...excuse me...my name is Geri."

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Trisha couldn't understand why everyone was being so timid about starting the dance.  Food was plentiful and delicious.  Some of the party goers had produced a little sip of this or that to be enjoyed...in moderation, of course.  The music was almost magical.  She couldn't resist any longer.  Someone had to get this party started...it might as well be her.


She stood slowly and deliberately let out a blood curdling scream at the top of her lungs that echoed off from the walls of the encircling wagons.  Bending over forward then quickly tossing her head back, she shook her hair loose from the bandanna that had been keeping it neatly tucked away.  The free feeling of her hair slapping her cheeks added to her mood.  She couldn't help herself.  Out came another scream.  This one was answered by many of the women, young and old, who gradually began rising.  Soon after, most of them were clapping their hands to the beat of the music and gyrating where they stood.


Since Trisha had started the whole thing, she felt obligated to take the next step.  She slowly moved toward where both Mahdi were puffing away at their pipes.  She lifted her left leg as high as her hips then thrust her left big toe toward the two men.  While balancing on her right leg, she wiggled her left toe up and down.  As she lost her balance, she made it look as if she had made an intentional lunge toward them.  Before that foot had completely skidded to a stop she swung her hips and pointed her right toe at the pair.  They grinned.


For a couple of minutes she continued performing the basic steps that she had demonstrated to the young women earlier that day.  Child's play.  Any Tuatha'an girl nearing her wagon building age could have done the same easily.  The two Mahdi nodded appreciatively and tried not to smile too broadly as that might be considered impolite.  Some of the others who had hooped and hollered earlier were now making their way to take her place dancing for the old geezers.  Trisha moved down the line.


Several young men of wagon building age had been sure to choose seats near the more elderly men.  They had been coached by the older men earlier in the day so they knew when to smile, when to stare, when to glance away, and how much of each was considered appropriate.  For Trisha's dance, they smiled politely and tried not to ogle as she bent over and shook her shoulders.  They knew that what was contained inside the low, u-cut neckline was not meant for them.


By now this was getting to be fun!  Trisha had not danced without having Jon to dance for in a long time.  The fun almost helped fill the void.  Trying hard to concentrate on enjoying the moment and not letting it be lost to sadness, she let herself drift off into a daze that was almost like a trance.  Enjoy the dance.  Let your feelings run free.  Accept the will of the Pattern.  Smile.  She closed her eyes and let go.  Swinging her head around and swaying with the rhythm of the music she allowed herself to relax and enjoy the moment.  Smile.


When she opened her eyes she knew that the Pattern had a strangle hold on her that she could never escape.  Her little voice told her not to resist the will of the Pattern.  Over the years she had learned to listen to that voice and not to ignore it or something bad would result.  Good results came with paying heed to the voice.  She was dancing in front of Wil.  She wanted to run.  Her voice told her to dance.  For him.

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OOC:  see?  It's not difficult.  Just let your imagination fly!







There are LOTS of Tinkers in this train who have not yet made it into the spotlight.  Your Tinker can have whatever name you choose.  Please remember the non-violent theme.  Thanks.

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"Taa-mee!  Taa-mee!  Taa-mee!".  The chant was getting louder as more of the youngsters gathered to enjoy the music.  Of course, as usual, Taamee was the star.  Among his own wagons, he was the best.  Over the years he had met few fiddlers at meetings like this who could come close to his talent.  To show his appreciation for their attention Taamee glanced toward the growing group and smiled.  Briefly.  This music was serious business and he couldn't allow himself to be distracted by his fans.


Music was special to Taamee.  It felt good to be good at something not to mention being the best.  He wasn't good at cooking.  Or letters.  Letters were hard.  He wanted to know letters.  But they were hard.  If he could learn letters then he'd be able to read.  He wanted to read.  But that meant learning his letters.  Letters were hard.  Playing the fiddle was easy.


Numbers were easy, too.  He couldn't write them.  But he could do them.  Counting was easy.  Adding was easy.  Subtracting was easy.  Taamee could multiply faster in his head than his dah could using paper.  Numbers were easy.  But not writing them.  Counting.  Music.  Some things were just easy.  Not cooking.


Taamee had learned at his fourth name day celebration that he could count and play the fiddle.  He couldn't write the names or numbers for the people who were there.  But he had counted all of them out loud which made people smile and make over him.  He did it again.  He liked the attention.  Then he picked up a fiddle and learned how to play it in minutes.  More attention.  Playing the fiddle was like counting.  It was easy.


"Taa-mee!  Taa-mee!", came more shouts of admiration.  One more quick smile, then back to work.  Sometimes Taamee helped split wood.  But not alone.  He could help.  But not alone.  Mom might have to sew his leg shut again.  Not alone.  Better think about the music.  Don't want to get distracted. 


Taamee closed his eyes and opened his ears to the sounds around him.  He knew the melody.  He had played it many times before at other meetings.  It was beautiful.  The drums made the count.  He could count with the drums.  Flutes were OK as long as they didn't squeal.  That hurt his ears.  One girl was hammering a dulcimer.  It was beautiful music but hard to hear above the fiddles, flutes, and drums.  One man was making a buzzing sound through a tube.  That was hard to hear, too.  All of the sounds, along with his fiddle, blended to make beautiful music.  Music that he could count.


"Maybe when this meeting is over Papa will let me drive.", Taamee thought to himself.  "I like to drive.  I'm forty-four.  I should be allowed to drive.  I like to drive.  And to count.  And to multiply.  I'm a good driver.  I'm good with the reins.  My brother used to call me the rein man.".  ;) 

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"AAAaacchhooo."  Geri tried not to sneeze at the nice ladies who were dancing in front of him.  Ladies about the same age as his muhmah.  Sneezing and the thought of her made him remember why he was sneezing.  He should have listened to her.  She always seemed to be right.  About everything.


The music of two groups of wagons was always better than that of just his group.  Besides being louder, there was more competition between the musicians.  They were trying to impress each other.  The result was a much better sound than normal.  These meetings were enjoyable for lots of reasons but especially for the music.


Geri spotted the young woman Erina gradually making her way toward where he was sitting.  That afternoon they had taken a long walk beside a nearby pond.  They had talked about everything from other groups that they had met over the years to what wagon colors they preferred.  She liked spicy food.  So did he.  She was fond of yellow and blue and green.  Him, too.  They laughed often.  She was pleasant company.


He hadn't realized that he had become engrossed in his thoughts of the walk.  As if awakening suddenly, he realized that Erina had made her way over and was beginning to dance directly in front of him.  He didn't want to be rude, so he sat up straight and tried to smile in a friendly way.


Erina changed her dance.  Before she had been performing the standard steps and moves that every girl danced at every meeting.  Now, she was different.  She seemed to be very focused.  She was DANCING FOR HIM!!!  "Oh my.", Geri whispered to himself.


Apparently Erina read his lips and took that as encouragement.  She began to sway about letting her hair fly wildly and shaking her shoulders in his direction.  She stuck out one hip and then the other.  As she whirled in a circle she let her hips gyrate and her head flung about.  She was getting excited.  Geri considered getting up to leave but that would be VERY rude.  Instead, he tried to maintain his friendly smile.  Just not TOO friendly.  He didn't want to hurt her feelings.


"Taa-mee!  Taa-mee!".  Geri could hear the nearby shouts.  He wanted to join that group.  After all.  He had been in love with Taamee for most of his life.  Not just for his music.  Geri loved everything about Taamee.  His pure heart.  His genuine laughter.  The way that Taamee sees the world from such an innocent viewpoint.  Plus, he was the most beautiful man that Geri had ever seen.  Muhmah had been telling him lately that if he didn't change his ways soon that he never would find a woman to build a wagon with.  She was always right.



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