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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Welcome to the Stage of History!


Grimmlocke
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Baran Dohlwin looked up at the sky and sighed. He was sitting in a wagon being driven down a road in what he guessed was some part of Andor. It seemed he was finally going to start his training at what he had been told was being called “The Farm.” It wasn't a name that inspired the same combination of fear and curiosity as “The Black Tower”, nor the awe conjured by The White Tower. The sun in the sky shone brightly, but did nothing for the cold that threatened to creep into his bones. He suppressed a shiver and tried to shrug deeper into the black wool of what appeared to be the standard uniform of Asha'man recruits. Luckily, he was part of a small group, made even smaller when majority of his group was taken early.

 

He looked across the wagon at the only other Soldier in the wagon with him. Jholan had told him earlier that he had been one of the Tuatha'an. Baran wasn't sure he believed him. Sure, the cloth the youth had wrapped around his head was bright enough for a Tinker, but the rest of him didn't seem to fit with the young man's story. For one thing, he had calluses along his knuckles. There wasn't much that did that except fist fighting, that Baran knew.

 

Thinking about Jholan's hands made him look down at his own. He flexed his gnarled digits, still half-amazed that they worked at all after what they had been through. He had heard that the Aes Sedai could heal people with the One Power. Maybe the Asha'man could do the same thing for him. It would be nice to be able to use his hands for something other than gripping an axe. Something delicate, like threading a needle. Something must have shown on his face, because Jholan chose that moment to speak up.

 

“So, d'you think we'll see any madmen at The Farm?”

 

Baran shrugged and looked up the road. “Dunno. Maybe. But I always figured that they would keep any crazy people locked up. Or maybe they just kill them. What would you do with a madman who could Break the World again?” His words were clipped and short, which had offended a few people in the time he had spent in Tear. Most of them hadn't encountered a Cairhienin before. Still, he had never seen a Tairen before either. He rubbed his smooth chin and tried to imagine himself with a beard like some of the Lords he had seen. The image was amusing, almost enough to make him smile. Him, dressed like a Lord!

 

He brushed a strand of dark hair that he had somehow missed the last time he had trimmed it. Luckily, he hadn't missed much. He grabbed the strand, concentrating as he forced his fingers to separate it from the rest of his hair. It was frustrating to have to work so hard to do something so simple, but he was sure his Father would have said something about it building character. Or maybe teaching the value of patience.

 

“Probably kill them.” Jholan leaned back as far as he could without leaning over the waist high wall of the cart. “You're right, Baran. Guess we'd better not go crazy then, eh?” He flashed what Baran was sure was a winning smile wherever he came from. He nodded, hoping the possibly ex-Tinker would be satisfied with it.

 

Jholan kept talking. Eventually, Baran decided to stop listening and closed his eyes, trying not to think about how the cold made him wish his coat was thicker, or about how long the trip was taking. He had thought that the use of the Gateway was supposed to make the trip shorter. To his surprise, the wagon stopped as soon as he had thought about the Gateway. He opened his eyes and looked around at the bustling groups of black-coated people flowing around them. Jholan looked over at him, amused. “Good nap?”

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  • 2 weeks later...

Daevis Thelandran yawned lazily and settled back in his seat, fully intending on enjoying his free time. For once, he had not been saddled with one of the endless classes with the soldiers, nor was he assigned to be with a recruiting party. It was probably an oversight, but he had no intention of correcting the mistake. Quiet moments were few and far between. Besides, someone was bound to come up and bother him sooner or later.

 

Sure enough, a bothersome sight came trundling up the path through the gates of the partialy completed blakc wall around the Black Tower. A cart, bearing new recruits by the looks of it. And they were headed straight toward the inn. Which happened to be the place where he was lounging. The sudden urge to go elsewhere warred with his urge to be lazy and hope for the best. It was close, but the lazy part won out and he remained seated where he was. Big mistake.

 

"Asha'man," called the Dedicated who was driving the cart, "where should I take these ones?"

 

With a sigh, Daevis glanced up at the sun which shone weakly through the clouds. A little too early for the other groups to be coming through. The Attack Leaders wouldn't appreciate being bothered too early with in processing. "Just leave them with me. I'll take care of them until the Attack Leaders are ready for them."

 

As the inhabitants of the cart climbed down, the large Shienaran Asha'man reclined against the wall, doing his best to look at ease. He did a fairly good job of it, as far as an Asha'man could look relaxed anyway. He looked somewhat like a grizzly bear ready to maul anyone who came near him. He stared at the newcomers as they approached him. One of them was dressed flamboiantly enough for a Tinker. THAT would certainly be interesting. "Well than boys, what might your names be, and what possessed you to take up the offer to come here?"

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Baran hopped down off the back of the cart's bed, his feet crunching on the dusting of snow that seemed to have fallen earlier in the day. Much of it had already been crushed underfoot,turning the numerous dirt paths that criss-crossed the Tower proper and the small town inside it into a cold, wet mash. Baran was thankful that he had tucked the legs of his pants into the thick boots that had been given to him along with the rest of his uniform. It was a habit he had learned from the Tairen commoners. Their streets were unpaved in much the same way, and though the wooden clogs they wore helped them keep from getting too dirty, their pant legs tended to pick up a bit of muck along the way.

 

It seemed they had been given into the care of a large man lounging inside the nearby inn. Baran thanked the driver for the ride. The man took it with an confused grin and snapped the reins on his lead horses, taking his cart elsewhere on the Black Tower's grounds. Probably to be fed and stabled until the next time the Asha'man needed something moved. Baran and Jholan walked into the Inn's common room, stopping to stomp the snow off their feet before crossing the door's threshold. They came to a stop in front of the larger man. Baran eyed him up and down, trying to figure out how big he would be if he were standing while Jholan gave a smart salute, bringing his feet together and pounding a fist to his chest. Baran gave a small jump, surprised by the other man's sudden movement. By the time he was done being surprised, Jholan was already done with his salute, and he had been too quick for Baran to see, much less imitate. Still, it was seeming less and less likely that the other man had ever been a Tinker.

 

Still, Baran wanted to beat Jholan to something, since he had done...something that might curry favor with the Asha'man. He had to say something before the other young man could answer. "Baran Dholwin, Sir. As to why I came..." He shrugged, not entirely sure of the answer. "Seemed better than dying in a hole, I suppose." He knuckled his forehead, his clipped, quick speech seemed at odds with the slight stoop of his back and his rustic mannerisms.

 

Jholan grinned and stated his reason for coming, something to do with people not wanting anything to do with an ex-Tinker that could learn to Channel. Baran wasn't really paying attention. He was looking around the room, at the long tables and especially at the large fireplace, near which many of the Inn's patrons were gathered.

 

"Where do we go from here, sir? If you don't mind me asking, that is." Baran knuckled his forehead again. He wasn't one for flattery, but a little extra respect often went a long way.

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Daevis settled further into his seat, and motioned for the two new recruits to pull up their own chairs. "For now, you stay here with me. When a few other groups arrive, I'll take you to the Attack Leaders who will add you to the books. For now, enjoy your last moments as a sane and rational man." He gave the Tinker an appraising look. "Or whatever you might be right now. After that, you'll be assigned a barracks, and given everything else you need. Spare uniforms, boots, and whatnot. You'll probably be given your first instructions on siezing the Source this evening as well. And then it's all down hill from there."

 

With a large yawn, Daevis stretched his arms over head and cracked his knuckles. Light, he was tired. And instead of taking a well deserved nap, he had come to the inn ... perhaps the taint had taken over his good sense? After nestling comfortably back into his chair the Asha'man looked back to the new recruits. "So did you have any questions or concerns? I might not be the best person to ask about these things, but it beats sitting here in silence."

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Jholan laughed and gestured to Baran. "Sane and rational? Did you hear what he just said to you? What kind of person makes their life's ambition not dying in a hole?" He laughed again and pulled out a chair, leaning back into it in imitation of the Asha'man and propping his feet on the table. Baran, by contrast, said nothing, pulling out a chair of his own and sitting down, leaning forward onto his elbows and lacing his fingers together. He looked at the man lounging across the table. He was physically his superior, and if he was a full Asha'man, his superior in the Power, too. Obviously not someone he would want to cross. He turned his head to look at Jholan, talking up a storm, yet managing not to say much of anything. It was a skill that Baran had often admired in the few days they had been traveling together. Eventually though, even Jholan ran out of things to talk about.

 

"Learning to Channel on our first day here?" A slight widening of his eyes was all the evidence of surprised that Baran allowed on his face. "I'd heard that the training was fast and hard, but I hadn't expected to be put to work before learning the layout of the area." Which had been a stupid assumption. Of course they started training on the first day. They had been told the Lord Dragon needed weapons, and as many as possible as fast as possible. It explained the rumors of deaths on The Farm they had heard back in Tear.

 

"You're a full Asha'man, right? How sane are you? How long do we have until we...uh..." Baran made a nebulous gesture with his hands. "If you don't mind me asking, sir." Baran looked at the man's face, peering as though trying to see if the madness was visible in the man's eyes.

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Daevis gave a shrug at the quieter recruits question. "It's different for everyone. The taint gets us all eventually, but the timing and method seem different for every man who comes through here. Some succumb to it with on their first contact with Saidin. Others make it a week, or a month. I've been here for a year and a half with no noticeable signs of madness. Yet.

 

"What happens to each man ... it's impossible to predict. Some men just snap in an instant and begin destroying everything around them. Some slowly develop voices in their minds and spend months slipping into a slow, relentless insanity. The lucky ones keep their mind while their body rots away. We don't usually let that progress to far. Even without the taint, men tend to go mad from that."

 

With a dry laugh, Daevis shook his head and stretched again. "Cheeful bloody subject, isn't it? The worst part is that it's all worth it. The feeling of Saidin rushing through you, the sense of being truly alive ... the Power is addictive. Which is why we all eventually fall to the taint. No matter how repulsive it is, you can't stop channeling after you've done it the first time."

 

"So then. What do you hope to get out of all of this? What kinds of talents and interests do you have? Your talents and abilities with the Power often reflect the things you've always done, so it's good to know what kind of experience you have before we start."

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Baran nodded slowly, taking in the other man's words. He had always assumed that the madness was something that came on gradually. If it caused him to snap immediately though...well, it was a disturbing thought. He looked over at Jholan, who was still leaning back, though now it looked more like he was staring at the ceiling than anything else. He probably already knew what the other man was talking about.

 

He glanced over at the fireplace, wishing the table was a little closer, or that his jacket was a little thicker. “Yes, but it's good to know. Hopefully I won't go insane at the first touch.” He smiled then, more an attempt to ward off fear than anything. “If I do, well, I don't expect I'll live long, will I?” Baran asked, bringing up the topic of his earlier discussion with Jholan.

 

“I'm afraid I'll have to take your word about channeling. At least until tonight, if you're right. The more I hear, the less sure I am about wanting to start.” It was an honest admission, but he wasn't about to quit now that he had come this far. He had given his word, and he intended to see it through to the end.

 

Jholan was silent at the older man's question, so Baran continued to answer. “I want to be remembered. That's it. My father spent his life digging holes, and now that he's dead I'm the only one who really remembers him. I plan to make a name for myself if I survive training. As to what I'm good at...” He shrugged. “I've always worked the mines. I can dig a hole, and I can push a cart. I know how to swing a pick and shovel. Outside of that? I'm not too bad at tickling trout out of a stream. Not much else.” He shrugged again and looked apologetic. “Sorry.”

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Daevis rubbed his chin in thought. A miner ... so it was possible that the man would be talented with earth. Or perhaps not. He might be better at weather manipulation. It was impossible to say.

 

"Not to worry," the Asha'man said, brushing off the man's apology. "That just means you've given us a clean slate to work with. No need to completely relearn a trade you're already used to. Unless you really feel like digging holes for us. I hear one of the Storm Leaders is looking for a lot of materials for his pet projects. At any rate, you'll be taught everything you need to know, and eventually you'll figure out where your talents lie. Once you get a feel for the elements, you'll begin to figure things out, and maybe even discover some new ways of doing things. Light knows that we don't know everything about Saidin yet. That's become abundantly clear to us recently." The former Shienearan soldier trailed off, memories of the fall of his country still fresh in his mind. That battle had been a disaster. He'd been lucky enough to be among the dozen survivors from the group in Fal Moran, but so many others had never escaped the city.

 

"Anyway," he continued, shaking his head and clearing away the unpleasant thoughts, "you'll be started soon enough. It's too late to back out now. And even if you could, would you want to? The last battle is coming. The opening blows may have already been struck. Where do you think you'll do more good? Hiding in a hole in Cairhien, waiting for something to come out of the shadows and eat you, or wielding death and lightning as your weapons and having the power to obliterate a fist of trollocs at your fingers?"

 

A flash of light outside a nearby window drew Daevis' attention. A gateway rotated open at the nearby travelling grounds, and a handful of gaping men stepped through, followed by another man with a full set of pins at his neck. Another group had arrived. Soon there would be enough to begin processing. "You probably don't have much longer to wait. If you want to get something to eat, now might be a good time. Once your training starts, you won't eat another hot meal until you learn to cook it with the one power."

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“No, no, I've had my fill of digging.” A look of alarm flashed across Baran's face at the prospect of coming all this way just to do what he had done a few weeks before. No, he was here to channel and make a name for himself, not to be a miner. The other man's second suggestion was mch more interesting to him. Discovering new things was definitely a way to be remembered, especially if the things he discovered changed the way the world worked for the rest of the Age. He remembered when they had brought horses in to work the ropes that pulled carts filled with raw ore up the mineshaft back home. It had been weeks before his back stopped aching, but he hadn't had to push those flaming carts uphill anymore. Suddenly, the Asha'man's eyes started to stare off in the distance. Baran tensed, wondering if perhaps this man was about to go insane. After all, he had said he had been channeling the One Power for quite some time, hadn't he? The Asha'man started speaking again before Baran had a chance to stand, though, and he seemed to be alright.

 

“I hadn't planned on leaving, no. I gave my word to see this through to the end, and I intend to keep it.” Baran said, working hard to regain his composure. Light, what must life be like here, wondering if the man next to you would go insane at any given minute? It was enough to make him wonder how many went mad not from the Power, but from the strain of wondering if your allies could be trusted not to rip the flesh from your bones on a whim?

 

“Learning to channel is why I'm here, Sir. If I have to die, I don't plan on doing it quietly.” On one level, he realized that it was what he had been thinking since he had watched his father choke and suffocate to death as his lungs gave out. On the other, the realization of such a thought hit him with the force of a landslide. It took him a moment to sort out his feelings. The Asha'man gave him the opportunity to do so when he suggested going to get something to eat. Baran stood and did so, but not before offering an appreciative smile and a nod of thanks.

 

He found Jholan sitting, stuffing his face with as much food as he could handle. He looked up as Baran sat down and grabbed a leg of the chicken he was busy tearing apart. “Where did you get the money to buy this much meat, Jholan?” The other man shrugged and gave him a look that told Baran that he didn't really want to know where the money had come from. Baran sighed and regretted once again making the acquaintance of an Ex-Tinker who actually fulfilled almost every stereotype about his people that existed. He hadn't seen Jholan steal any infants recently, but he wouldn't put it past him.

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OOC: Guess I'll be the handy AL to handle this.

 

IC: Dashiva grumbled under his breath as he grouped up the latest group of recruits he had Tested, and dragged around on his assigned route. He hadn't been in a recruiting party in years, and almost wanted to be back in his small study. Unlike many Asha'man, he generally disdained cloaks while he was going about official Tower business and simply wore his blacks. Snapping at the newest Borderlander recruit's, he reached out and seized saidin and gripped it tightly bending to his will and opening the Gateway back to the Tower.

 

"Go slowly, and side by side," he ordered the new recruits, his voice flat and face entirely impassive. Carefully the big Shienaran adjusted his weaves, and sure enough a pair of new recruits got the last minute shakes and tried to run and he clubbed their legs then heads before they got far. "You had your chance to back out before testing Recruits," he snapped, nearing the end of his patience. "Go through the Gateway, and you will be fed and trained."

 

Turning around, he glanced once more around the empty farm in the Borderlands, and spat off to the side before stepping through the Gateway, leading his tall Shienaran stock warhorse through, and closing the Gateway behind it. Glancing around sourly, he glanced around the Travelling Grounds and then pointed the Inn. "Go in there, if there isn't hot food waiting, there will be soon," he instructed.

 

Passing the reins off to a nearby Soldier who was from the Borderlands as well, Dashiva followed the new recruits, trying to be patient with the gawking new recruits and glanced quickly around his domain of the Inn as he stepped in behind his recruits and closed the door. Pointing out a table, "there's a few other recruits there, have a seat and get to know your fellow men."

 

Nodding at the nearby Asha'man, he cudgelled his brain until the name came around, "Daevis, are there anymore running around?"

 

 

OOC: not my best, I'll get in practice eventually.

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Daevis kept a silent watch over his two charges while they ate and talked with eachother. It was interesting to see how each one reacted to the new place. The Cairhienen was respectful to everyone, very mindful of station as were all his people. And yet he seemed almost eager. Which probably meant that for a reserved Cairhienen, he was bursting at the seams. The other man, was most definitely not a Tinker, though he seemed to be advertising himself as such. Hands roughed up by what looked like the marks of a frequent fist fighter, attitude at odds with what the Tuatha'an usually displayed, and eating meat, which the Way of the Leaf didn't allow. Daevis wondered what this man was running from. Why else would anyone pretend to be a Tinker?

 

Soon enough, Daevis was pulled from his observations by the large group or recruits who filed into the inn, in search of what might be their last warm meal for a while. Attack Leader Dashiva trailed the group, looking throughly annoyed. "Daevis, are there anymore running around?", he asked, approaching Daevis' table.

 

Daevis shook his head. "No baijin'm'hael, just these two. I've just been stuck baby sitting while they waited here." He glanced at the large group who were now sitting around some of the larger tables. "Looks like you made quite a haul this time. Remind me to never go wherever you just came from," he said with a grin.

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Baran remained silent as he watched a small of black-coated people file into the Inn, followed by another man with a sword and dragon at his neck. He nodded at the door to get Jholan to look at the new arrivals. Jholan did so, sniffed, and then went back to eating his chicken. Baran sighed and took another bite of the leg he had pulled off earlier. One of the other recruits came over, a big, burly looking Saldean. He reached down to try to grab a piece of the meal Jholan had purchased. Jholan slapped the hand away and pointed to the bar.

 

“There's plenty of food over there. Why don't you go buy some of your own?”

 

Baran, for his part, stood and walked away from the table, chewing thoughtfully as he stopped in front of the fire. It was warm, something he was thankful for. Andor was close to Cairhien, and the winters were usually as cold as the ones back home. This one, however, seemed colder. Like it was making up for the over-long Summer. Behind him, Jholan and the Saldaen came to blows, falling together on the ground and rolling around as they jockeyed for position. Baran turned around and warmed his back and watched the two fight as a small crowd formed around the pair. He thought he heard someone making bets on the outcome of the fight, but he wasn't sure. He looked over at the two Asha'man, talking together as they no doubt made plans about what they would do with the group they had managed to gather. He shrugged and walked over to the fight, shouldering his way into the crowd. The fighters had managed to regain their feet and were circling each other.

 

“Do you need help, Jholan?”

 

The Saldean risked a glance over at Baran, his gaze flickering over the humble former miner. “Mind your own business, peasant!”

 

Baran shrugged and stepped back. Of course Jholan would pick a fight with a noble. Still, he couldn't help but hope that he would give the idiot the beating he deserved.

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"No baijin'm'hael, just these two. I've just been stuck baby sitting while they waited here. Looks like you made quite a haul this time. Remind me to never go wherever you just came from," Daevis was saying. Dashiva grunted sourly, before rolling his shoulders. "Sometimes I wonder if the previous recruiters actually tried given this haul," he grumbled.

 

 

Wandering into the back of the kitchen, Dashiva barked at some of the cooks that seemed to have appeared, and got them producing some more food for the newest recruits, and came back out into the common room intending on filling out a report and stopped as he noticed a scuffle. He started to seize saidin but then thought better after realising this was entirely a fist fight between recruits.

 

Shaking his head as he momentarily felt Daevis doing the same, the large Shienaran pushed around the edges to stand near the younger man. "Let them settle things out a little bit," he muttered just loud enough for the Asha'man to hear. "I don't know about your two babies, but the new Border recruits need to put some steam off."

 

Folding his arms over his chest, he leaned back against a wall. The Inn was half formed using the Power, and a fistfight was going to do little harm except to some pride, and a few relatively easily replaced items. He heard some of the bets starting to flow, and his fingers twitched slightly. He'd hidden for some years as both guard and merchant, and betting was something he'd taken to doing here and there. Rolling his head and hearing the cracks roll out, he rolled his shoulders again.

 

Seeing the Saldean recruit take a cheap shot and stumble back onto a table and then lunge forwards, brandishing a knife was all he needed, and he had both combatants encased in Air, and shoved through the crowds to twist the knife out of the frozen Saldeans hand. "That's enough," he snapped, flows of Air and Fire enhancing his voice to boom through the inside of the Inn and then dissipating. "Save that energy for the enemy, not each other," he continued knowing he had most if not all their attention.

 

Tossing the knife into a nearby pillar, he glanced around the recruits. Slowly releasing the fighters, he gave them both a cold look. "Now shake hands," he growled coldly. "There may be a day, your back may be guarded by the other and holding a grudge is only going to get us all kiled."

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At the Travelling grounds, a slit in the air appeared. This then rotated into a hole in space and time, aka a Gateway. The view on the other side of the Gateway was snow free, the Asha'man coming through must be coming from somewhere to the south. Perhaps Tear, it was about time for the recruits brought in from the Black Tower's false headquarters to arrive. A small group of men and boys in the black suits of Soldiers made their way through the Gateway, followed by an Asha'man. As the Asha'man stepped through the Gateway, he allowed it to snap shut. Today nobody lost any limbs or bootheels, so it seemed this group had listened to the instructions to get clear of the Gateway once they were through. The assortment of recruits was diverse, though much smaller than the group that Dashiva had brought back, somewhat of a pitiful haul really, five in total.

 

The Asha'man was informed by a Dedicated that the recruits were being assembled in the Inn. He looked over his haul and shook his head, they didn't look very promising. There were two men old enough to be grandfathers, they'd probably go mad before being of any use to the Tower, but they weren't supposed to turn anyone away, they needed all the Weapons they could get. Another that looked like a dandy of a Tarien lord, he was going to be troublesome. The fourth looked like he was from Far Madding and had the look of a travelling scoundrel about him, there were probably plenty of local lords looking for that one to pay for one crime or another, just what the Tower needed more of. The final recruit was an Andoran, must be nice for him to be home, though he might not realize it yet, and a young one at that. The child was rubbing his arms for warmth already, seemed he was soft, perfect. The Asha'man would roll his eyes and barked for the newcomers to head to the inn.

 

Four of them complied immediately, the boy though, well those brown eyes of his were opened as wide as they could go as he stared about the farm, his mouth hanging open. The Asha'man would put a hand to his face and let out a sigh before clapping a hand down on the boy's shoulder to get his attention and barking into his ear, "I said head to the inn, recruit!"

 

The clap on his shoulder and shout in his ear certainly got Nandiel's attention, the boy nearly jumped out of his boots. He'd look over his shoulder at the Asha'man who just shouted at him, before hurrying to catch up with the rest of the recruits from Tear. A small white and orange puppy would take note of the running boy and chase after him to the Inn, following on his heels. Nandiel stepped into the Inn and stamp his feet at the doorway, shedding the snow from his boots. The puppy at his heels barked at the loud noise. Nandiel looked down to the dog with its floppy spaniel like ears and grinned. There wasn't all that much special about Nandiel in terms of looks, he'd be more likely to blend into a crowd than stand out in it, but when he gave a genuine smile, well then he could almost be called handsome. He'd reach down and scratch the pup behind the ears. He heard someone clear his throat behind him and looked over his shoulder. It was the Asha'man that had brought him to the Farm from Tear. Nandiel was still standing in the doorway, and blocking the other man's path. He gave the Asha'man a penitent look and knuckled his forehead, stepping further into the inn, the pup still following close on his heels. The Asha'man would simply roll his eyes at the boy and the dog, before making his way to Dashiva to make his report on the status of things in Tear.

 

Nandiel would glance about the Inn with those wide brown eyes of his, amazed by the number of men in black uniforms like his. Were there really this many men in the world that could channel? An involuntary shudder travelled down his spine at the thought, some fears were hard to shed. Just then a knife would go whizzing by his face as it stuck into a pillar. Nandiel would jump back quickly, well after the knife had already passed by his face, to his credit, at least itt was still quivering in the pillar. This sudden movement backwards on his part caused him to trip over the pup that was so close on his heels. The yelp of the pup, and the thud of Nandiel landing on his rump shattered the silence that had settled over the Inn after Dashiva's display with the Power. As everyone turned to look at him, snickering slightly, a bright red flush came to his cheeks. He'd quickly get back to his feet and dust himself off. Head down, he'd make his way to a table in the corner, trying to hide. That pup happily trotting after him, tongue hanging out the side of its mouth, with what looked like a grin on its face. The pup's stump of a tail wagging as it followed Nandiel to his chosen table.

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Daevis leaned back against a column as the fight came to a dramatic end and the spectators quickly dispersed, not wanting to be associated with either of the trouble makers. As Dashiva made his way back over toward him, he grinned. "This should be a fun group. A fight in less than five minutes ... isn't that some kind of record?" After sharing a chuckle, Daevis turned his attention back to the crowd of recruits. "Looks like we have enough. Want me to take them in then?"

 

At the Attack Leader's nod, Daevis siezed Saidin and wove fire and air in the same weave Dashiva had just used. His amplified voice boomed out over the startled recruits. "Alright newcomers, listen up. You have ten minutes to get something to eat, and then we're going to the Keep. Once we get you all recorded in the books, the fun part starts. Ten minutes. If you're not done by then, tough luck. If you don't have anything right now, you better move quickly."

 

Looking over the many faces in the crowd, he saw the usual smattering of disbelief, concern, and even a couple of outraged faces. Some of them had already figured out that there was no way they were all going to get to eat in that amount of time. Some were already turning to their fellows for help, looking to share a meal and at least get something. Daevis could only grin. This was always fun.

 

OOC: Enjoy your last warm meal until you learn enough to channel up another one. :biggrin:

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Baran watched Jholan stalk over to another table, his plate of chicken, miraculously still intact, in hand. To his surprise, he was still hungry, so Baran walked over to the table and tore off another piece of chicken. Jholan raised his head, obviously ready to fight again, but went back to shoveling food into his mouth as soon as he realized the thief was Baran.

 

One of the latecomers was staring around the inn like he'd never been in one before. It didn't strike him as unusual, Baran hadn't been in one before going to Tear, but it surprised him that anyone would be so obvious with their ignorance. The fellow was young, maybe that had something to do with it. He wasn't Cairhienin either, which probably had more to do with it than anything else. Baran had seen him try to dodge the knife that had already missed him, just as he had seen him fall after doing so.

 

The boy obviously needed someone to look after him, and Baran wasn't sure the Asha'man could be trusted to do so, being what they were. Baran quirked a questioning eyebrow at Jholan, who turned and looked over at the boy, now walking towards one of the other tables. He turned back around and shrugged. Baran took it as an affirmative and stood.

 

"You, boy! Over here!" Some of the other new recruits turned to give him puzzled looks. After all, Baran was shorter by a head or two than the new arrival with the dog, and they looked to be of an age. Still, Baran was relatively sure that the young man would respond to that form of address as well as any other. Jholan snorted. "If you cause a fight, Baran, I think you'll just end up in worse trouble than me."

 

"I won't then." Baran said, still waving the other recruit over.

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"Alright newcomers, listen up. You have ten minutes to get something to eat, and then we're going to the Keep. Once we get you all recorded in the books, the fun part starts. Ten minutes. If you're not done by then, tough luck. If you don't have anything right now, you better move quickly."

 

A quick frown came to Nandiel's face as he realized that with all the people in the inn that wouldn't be nearly enough time to place an order, have it brought out and eat it by any means. In fact, he'd be lucky if it took ten minutes for food to be brought out at any inn, even the least crowded one he'd ever been in. He let out a sigh and resigned himself to more of the bread, hard cheese, and cured meat he'd been eating for weeks. He'd pull out a small chuck of cheese and pop it into his mouth. He soon heard a soft whimper after he had done that and saw the puppy that had adopted him looking up at him with those eyes they were famous for. He'd chuckle and kneal down, offering the pup a small bit of cheese and meat. It greedily ate what was offered and started that tail wagging again. It seemed Nandiel had made a friend for life.

 

He'd get back to his feet and rip off a small piece of meat for himself. He'd continue to look about the inn, still put off by the sheer number of men who could channel that were in it. That pup still close on his heels looking up at him with ever hope filled eyes that it might get more to eat. Just as Nandiel was about to sit at a table in the corner he'd hear above the crowd, "You, boy! Over here!"

 

He quickly spun on his heel to see who was talking to him, earning a few snickers from some of the other men for responding so readily to that form of address. His brown eyes would scan the inn quickly until he saw a short man waving him over. He'd never seen the man before in his life, so was a bit unsure if he was really trying to get Nandiel's attention at first. But as there seemed to be no one else that was responding to the man, and the way his eyes seemed fixed upon Nandiel, the boy had to assume he was attempting to get his attention. He'd put the food he'd been nibbling at away in his pockets and begin to make his way across the crowded inn.

 

Not being used to navigating crowds, Nandiel's progress was slow, filled with a vast amount of excuse me's and pardon me's and waiting for people to get out of his way. He did make his way over to the man that had been waving him over without too much of a delay, that pup still fast on his heels, little stump of a tail wagging a mile a minute at it looked up at all the male channellers. Stopping in front of the man, Nandiel would look him over for a minute, noticing the state of his hands. That pup would simply sit as Nandiel came to a stop. "Is there something I can do for you, sir?"

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Dashiva scowled slightly at the younger Asha'man's remark as he made his way over to the wall, but shrugged it off with a rare smile and chuckled himself. "Well, least it's a lively group," he replied before he waved his hand in a small shooing motion, and let the man get the recruits organized for falling in.

 

Meanwhile, Dashiva's gaze glazed over as he started thinking, and remembering his early times as a recruit and the hardships and occasional melee's that had been involved. Blinking a few times, he shrugged and made his way through the recruits, and the uniformed Soldiers and Dedicated's who were grabbing a meal prior to going off to training. He rarely had to actually bull through anymore, the markings on his uniform and his sheer size was usually enough to clear a small path to move through.

 

Standing outside the inn, Dashiva permitted another small smile to touch upon his lips as he considered whether to inflict the Koras laps on the recruits now, or at a later time. Thumbing a pipe of tabac, he channeled briefly to light it, and proceeded to wait knowing he could rely on the Asha'man still inside to tend to matters and bring the recruits out.

 

OOC: Arath, want to hit me with a PM of how we actually greet newbies nowadays? :unsure: I don't think the old ways still apply :unsure:

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Baran kept his face blank as he watched the young man navigate the crowded room. He couldn't have been from anywhere with much of a population. If he was, he would have known how to avoid at least half of those bumps and stumbles. Maybe a farmer?

 

Then he caught sight of the small dog following the young man over to his table. Hardly appropriate to bring a pet to military camp. He couldn't imagine the Asha'man leaving them much time to look after anything, much less some kind animal. Well, maybe a horse, but nothing outside of that. As they drew even closer, Baran realized the dog wasn't even full grown. A puppy? He was bringing a puppy to a place where men might go insane at any moment and burn it to ash?

 

The young man stopped in front of Baran and Jholan, asking if there was anything he could do for him. At least the boy was respectful. It was good to see someone with at least a little manners. He had had to grin and bear the familiarity of the Tairen commoners during his stay in Tear. Just because they were of the same social class didn't mean they should be that friendly without being family. Baran almost shuddered at he memory. No, it was much better speaking with people who remembered how to treat their fellow man.

 

"Yes, there is. Would you care to join us?" Baran gestured towards the chicken that Jholan was busily tearing apart. Jholan blinked in surprise and started to open his mouth to protest, but Baran spoke up again, cutting him off. "After all, I'm paying for the food, here. Or did the coppers I had in my pocket disappear all on their own?" He gave the ex-Tinker a meaningful look. Jholan grimaced and shrugged, sliding the rest of the chicken to the middle of the table. Satisfied, Baran nodded and looked up at the young man. "Why don't you have a seat?"

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Nandiel would bow his head to Baran at the offer of food and a seat, the pup looking frantically between the three men with its green eyes. "Thank you very much for the food. If there's anything I can do to repay you, just let me know."

 

Nandiel would sit down next to Jholan and take a rather small portion of the food offered. He was a bit uncomfortable with the idea of taking someone else's food, but it would have been rude to turn down the offer. In addition, warm chicken was a great improvement over the dried meat, and a welcomed change as well. The pup would follow Nandiel to that seat, sitting down between Nandiel and Jholan, his eyes fixed on Nandiel, and the food in the boy's hands. Nandiel would look down at the pup and just laugh. He'd tear off a very small bit of chicken and offer it to the pup, who gobbled it down, "Now, what am I going to call you. Since it seems like I'm stuck with you, huh?"

 

Nandiel would reach down and scratch the pup under the chin as he ate some of the chicken and assorted vegetables himself. He'd focus his attention on the dog for a bit, making note of it's sparce bit of rust like coloring, contrasting with the majority of it's white fur. He'd look back to Baran as he considered this question and he blinked his eyes quickly in frustration, standing once more, and wiping his hand on his pants leg, before offering it to Baran, "I'm Nandiel Rankin, by the way. A pleasure to meet you, and again, thank you for the food."

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Baran accepted the boy's thanks with a nod of his head. From the sound of his voice, he was from Andor. So, probably not so far from home as most of the people here. Not that that would do him much good. He heard bad things happened to people who tried to escape from the Black Tower after joining. Not that he had any intention of doing so himself. Still, it made him wonder what kind of advantage having relatives nearby would bring. Maybe extra food, extra money? He glanced at the young man again. No, he looked to be about as well to do as Baran was, which wasn't very.

 

He took the young man's hand and shook it, ignoring the grease on both their fingers. "Baran Dholwin. It makes sense for us to share food if we won't be getting another warm meal until we can channel it hot. I don't know how many people will be able to eat in ten minutes, especially not with that line." He nodded at the queue that had formed, made up entirely of new recruits trying to get food. Baran shook his head. It wasn't his place to criticize his superiors, but it was a horribly inefficient setup. If they did this often, a second kitchen would go a long way in feeding the whole lot of them, as would having them producing food long before the recruits arrived.

 

"Hopefully we'll learn quickly. I don't relish the idea of uncooked meat for breakfast." The deadpan tone with which Baran spoke belied the humor of his words. Just because he was a Cairhienin didn't mean he couldn't make a joke. It was just harder to tell when he did so.

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Nandiel would chuckle nervously at Baran's suggestion of uncooked meat for breakfast, "I'm sure we'll figure something out. Or rather, I suppose we'd better. I think they're actually serious about that."

 

Nandiel would shudder at the thought of channelling up a warm breakfast. Was it strange that he was still so put off by the idea of a man channelling when he was going to be doing it himself? He grabbed another small piece of chicken, offering a small portion to the pup at his feet once again. He'd look around the inn once more, still amazed by the number of men in it, all of whom could channel or else they wouldn't have been there. When he had been recruited in Tear, given that his group only consisted of five men, he had expected there to be a total number of men at the Farm who could channel equal to the number of men in the inn at the moment. But seeing as how they were all new recruits, that threw his ideas about how many men were actually at the Farm all out of whack.

 

He'd look back down to the pup at his feet, looking up at him expectantly with its green eyes. He'd scratch it behind the ears, before muttering mostly to himself, "I think I'll call you Blaze."

 

He'd then look back to Baran, "I suppose I ought to learn to get over my fear of male channellers, huh? Can you believe that there are more men in the world that can channel then there are in this room? I mean think about it, all of us are just recruits. Well, except for the two in charge, and the one who brought me here. How many more men are there at this place that can channel? Is it enough to break the world again?" Nandiel would shudder involuntarily once more.

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Daevis waited for the appointed ten minutes, then once again boomed out with a power amplified voice, "That's it. All new recruits, out of the inn and line up outside. Swallow whatever you've got right now, and Light help anyone I see take another bite."

 

After the usual fun of watching the recruits stumble over eachother as they fought their way out the door, Daevis strolled out as though he had all the time in the world. Some of the new men looked annoyed, others simply looked nervous at the prospect of what was coming next.

 

"This," Daevis said in a voice developed over years of leading Shienaran soldiers, "is your basic orientation. This is the Inn, more or less in the center of the Farm. You will not go back inside the inn until you are Dedicated rank, or at the specific order of an Asha'man. To the east is the training ground, a place you will become intimately familiar with soon enough. To the South, we have the Asha'man and family housing, and the 'Tower' where the officers work. To the west, Dedicated Barracks. To the north, the Soldier Barracks, where you will all be staying. You'll be able to stow anything you brought with you there, once we're done in the Tower. Follow me. In an orderly manner."

 

With that, Daevis trooped off toward the Tower. It wasn't really a great name for the place ... it looked more like a small palace. After the M'Hael had been killed, the Guardian Council had taken it over for themselves and used it as their office. It could be considered the heart of the Farm, like the White Tower was the heart of Tar Valon. Only a touch less grand. At least the thing was actually black.

 

It didn't take long to get the group there, despite the snow and slush on the ground. Soon enough, they had all been entered into the books, and those who hadn't already recieved one were issued a black coat and boots. And then they were formed up outside once again. With an evil grin, Daevis issued them their first orders.

 

"Alright boys, now you start your basic training. It is important for an Asha'man to be physically strong, as well as strong in the Power. So we'll work on that first. Starting at the south gate," he paused and pointed for those inevitable few who were horrible with directions, "you will run along the inside of the walls. Since this is your first time, it will only be a short run. You will follow the wall to the north gate. About four miles. Then you can stash whatever things you brought at the Soldier barracks and claim a bunk. Then the real exercise begins."

 

With that, Daevis set out at a fairly quick pace, one he was sure most of the recruits would not be able to keep up with. At least not for the whole four miles.

 

OOC: Alright, this is wrapped up. You can make a last post or two describing your feelings and reactions to all this stuff. Giving your name, age, birthplace and whatnot to the Attack Leader who is recording it, then your first taste of BT boot camp. Welcome to the Farm. :smile:

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Baran left Jholan and their new acquaintance, Nandiel, at the table. He followed the Asha'man out the door, among the first out the door. Behind him, Jholan squawked and almost fell out of his chair. "Hey, you can't leave me here! What about the food? What are we supposed to do with it?"

 

Baran peeked back through the doorway and shrugged apologetically. Jholan rolled his eyes and stood as well. "Well, I guess we've got to see what we he's got to say." Then he too went outside, stopping beside Baran while they listened to what the Asha'man was saying. Baran nodded slowly at the directions, doing his best to memorize the locations of the rest of the Tower. Jholan, however, was confused.

 

"You know, when they said we were going to the Black Tower, I had expected an actual Tower." He mumbled from Baran's side. "Maybe even a black one. That would have been a nice touch." He shifted his feet, plainly impatient to get on with whatever it was the Asha'man had in store for them.

 

Baran was surprised by the number of recruits who had brought things with them. Some even carried heavy bags with them as they walked off towards the Soldier's Barracks. Baran, for his part, had come with nothing besides the clothes on his back, and he had left those in Tear after he had been given his new uniform. He grimaced at the cold seeping into his feet from the frozen slush on the ground. No boots, however well made, were completely impervious to the elements.

 

They soon found themselves lined up behind other recruits. When his turn came, Baran stepped up. The Attack Leader asked his name, age, and place of birth.

 

"Baran Dholwin, 18, of Stone Downs, Cairhien, sir."

 

********

 

 

Running was not his strong suite. Why couldn't they have had them carry around rocks, or push and pull things around? He could do that!

 

Baran grimaced and gulped down another gasping breath. He could almost hear his father telling him that complaints were for the weak. A man persevered. A man took each step, no matter how much it hurt. He exhaled again, his breath turning into a cloud in front of him. At least it was cold outside. It would have been much, much worse if they were still in the middle of that almost endless summer.

 

With that in mind, he cast another jealous glance at Jholan, loping easily along far ahead. The man had so much energy it seemed unnatural. He wasn't about to let Jholan make a fool of him. Baran gritted his teeth and pounded onward, hoping they were at least close to wherever it was the Asha'man was going to let them stop.

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OOC: Horrible mean Asha'man, trying to get a puppy to run 4 miles. ;)

 

Nandiel had just stuffed another bit of chicken into his mouth when Daevis announced it was time to move on. He finished was he was eating and then made his way outside, Blaze following behind him, eyeing the chicken left behind every now and again. Once then lined up, Blaze went over and sat down next to Daevis, tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, with a semblance of a grin on his face as he looked back at the recruits. They were then led to the Black "Tower" and Nandiel would give his name, age, and place of birth to the Asha'man there, "Nandiel Rankin, 18, Kore Springs, Andor."

 

Then they were back outside again and now they were going to run four miles. Nandiel just groaned, he didn't think he'd ever run for four miles straight in his life. Blaze took off after Daevis as soon as the Asha'man began running, trailing behind him for a time, before easily passing him. Nandiel on the other hand ran at a rather plodding pace, managing to keep up with Baran at least. Eventually, Blaze grew tired of the pointless running, and wandered off to explore the grounds of the Tower on his own. Nandiel however, kept running with the group, despite how much he didn't enjoy it.

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