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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Said the Pentagenarian to Methuselah


Grimmlocke
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Nanna looked up at the White Tower as she rode through the streets of Tar Valon. She had seen it from outside of the city as well, after they had ridden around the bulk of the Dragonmount. The thing had no right to be so big. They had been almost a day riding around it, and then in it's shadow until just before reaching the city! She looked up at the Tower again, reaching up to pat a stray hair back into place in a rather severe bun. She frowned as she realized that the Light-blamed thing was yet another gray. When had she gotten so old?

 

"Come along, child." Nanna was jerked from her thoughts by the voice of the woman who had come to her home and pulled her away from her family. She heeled her horse a bit to get it to pick up it's pace, though she felt sorry for the old beast as soon as she did so. It had been the only available mount in town, but it should have been put out to pasture years ago. She patted it's neck by way of apology and made a note to find the creature an apple for carrying her all this way. She soon found herself beside the Aes Sedai, the woman's Warder riding a large dun stallion a few lengths back. The woman was young enough to be her daughter, Nanna was sure of it. Ageless face or no, there were some things a woman could just tell! It irked her to be ordered around by someone younger than her, especially when the someone insisted on calling her 'child'! Respect for an Aes Sedai was one thing, but this...this was getting ridiculous!

 

"Nanna, are you all right? You look like you've just tasted a bad lemon." There was amusement in the Aes Sedai's voice. She was doing this on purpose! It was all the older woman could do not to turn and glare the Sister into submission. Not that she doubted she could do it, of course. She'd been putting younger women in their place since before this young chit had been born!

 

"Yes, Valla Sedai. I'm fine." Despite her best efforts, Nanna couldn't manage to make the words sound sincere. She ended up not just looking like she'd tasted a bad lemon, but sounding like she had, too. The Aes Sedai tilted her head to gaze up at the White Tower, her deep hood hiding her face as she grinned.

 

Once inside the Tower itself, the new Novice was pointed to the offices of the Mistress of Novices, one Talina Sedai. She stood outside the door, close behind an Accepted, self consciously smoothing her hair and good blue woolen dress. Good luck fitting her into one of those tiny novice outfits. The things she saw those girls wearing would be no more than a dressing gown for her! Hopefully, the White Tower was smart enough to have made dresses big enough for a woman to wear now that they had started accepting people older than girlhood now.

 

The Accepted knocked meekly at the door, waiting for a reply before sticking her head in to speak briefly. No doubt to tell her that an old woman was here to sign the Novice Book. Her younger daughter had told her about the thing after she had been rejected by the Tower after only a few years. True, she had been probably been sworn to secrecy, but keeping something from strangers was one thing. Keeping something from your mother, especially when your mother was Nanna Tarquin, was another thing entirely. The Accepted stepped away from the door and motioned Nanna inside. Nanna took herself in hand, quelling the fear that tried to rise up in her belly, and stepped into the room.

 

"Greetings, Talina Sedai. I'm Nanna Tarquin, from Four Kings." She was barreling into her introductions before she had even crossed the threshold. Best get this over with quickly...

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“Now child,” Talina said in a brusque tone, “dry your eyes, i know you miss your Mama, but it’s time to act like a White Tower Novice, not a child of six clinging to her Mama’s apron.”

 

The child sitting before her sniffled and replied in a teary voice, “Yes, Talina Sedai.”

 

“Off with you now girl, go wash your face and resume your lessons.” The Novice rose and curtsied before letting herself out of Talina’s office.

 

Talina was not sure that this was what she wanted. To be cooped up in the Tower catering to snot-nosed lasses. Burn Larindhra for getting her saddled with this task, but Talina was glad that they had managed to have the Novice Book opened to all. In her years of travels Talina had met many a woman, far too old by past Tower standards, to be allowed to train at the White Tower, despite the obvious talent they had lurking within their souls.

 

A knock at the door revealed an Accepted who told her there was an old lady here to be a Novice. Talina wanted to roll her eyes, no woman who came to the Tower could be anything close to an old lady in her eyes. Before she had a chance to respond the door was shoved open and a graying woman in her middle years was already speaking before she got through the door, "Greetings, Talina Sedai. I'm Nanna Tarquin, from Four Kings."

 

Talina arched an eyebrow slightly; this was going to be interesting. “Come in Child, you may sit there.” Talina indicated the chair opposite. “What brings you to the White Tower Nanna Tarquin of Four Kings?”

 

Talina Odile Bolaine

Mistress of Salidar Novices

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"Thank you. I'm here to learn, Aes Sedai."

 

Nanna studied the woman at the desk for a moment before plopping down into the offered chair. Finally, a woman who had a right to call her 'child'. Not that her face told her age, but there was a sort of way that she held herself that Nanna had seen in the mirror a few times herself. It was good to see and Aes Sedai that didn't look like some artist's rendition of the ideal female form. Hopefully they would be able to get along well. She had heard that things might not go so well if the Mistress of Novices took a disliking to you. Of course, her information was taken from a young girl looking at the world through a young girl's eyes.

 

"About the Power, mostly." There were other things she had come for as well, though. Her eldest daughter being chief among them. She hadn't come home like her sister, but she had always been the strong one. Had she made it through the training? It had been years since she had seen Miri, but she hoped to run across her in her time at the Tower.

 

"They said I should come to see you if I wanted to become a Novice." Her attempt at humility was as horrible as the tries she had made before reaching the Tower. It just wasn't something that suited her. She was too used to being in control, to telling others what to do to go back to being a student again easily. Still, she had to make the attempt if she wanted to become an Aes Sedai, to do something with her life. Hopefully the fact that she was trying would be enough for the woman across from her.

 

She gave her most winning grin, which had seen much more practice than her humility, and crossed one leg over the other. "Thank you again for the chair. I never thought to see so many stairs in my lifetime, and these feet aren't what they used to be."

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"Thank you. I'm here to learn, Aes Sedai."

 

The woman appeared to be sizing Talina up with her studied look, that was a look that Nanna was going to have to learn to either hide or keep from her face unless she wanted to spend time scrubbing pots or having her bottom paddled. She dropped heavily into the chair Talina had offered and sighed greatfully.

 

"About the Power, mostly." the woman patted a stray hair back on her head and continued,"They said I should come to see you if I wanted to become a Novice."

 

It appeared the woman was trying to appear meek, or maybe humble. Whatever that look was attempting to convey it was obviously a foreign emotion upon her worn face.

 

She crossed on leg over the other in a practised move and smiled brightly at Talina, "Thank you again for the chair. I never thought to see so many stairs in my lifetime, and these feet aren't what they used to be."

 

Talina nodded and rose from her chair, she pushed the door closed firmly and poured a cup of tea and placed it in front of the woman. "You are welcome, for the chair, Nanna."

 

Taking her chair again Talina studied the woman before her as she sipped her tea, her worn face and hands showed a lifetime of hard work, and judging by her hips she had borne several children as well. Lifting her own teacup to her lips Talina sipped, when she set the cup back on the desk she spoke, "You say 'they' said you should come to the Tower. Who is they child? I assume a Sister but did she test you?"

 

Talina did not wait for an answer from Nanna, she lifted a what appeared to be a smallish stone, grey in colour, with a flat base and placed it on the desk in front of the woman. "Regardless of it you were tested, i will test you myself, to be sure you understand."

 

"Set down your tea child, and concentrate of the gem in front of you. Feed all of your emotions into the gem." Nanna looked at her doubtfully but Talina just nodded and indicated towards the stone.

 

Talina Odile Boliane

Mistress of Salidar Novices

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Nanna nodded her thanks for the tea, inhaling the aroma as she let the heat from the cup warm her hands. She brought it to her lips to see if it was still too hot to drink. Finding it sufficiently cooled, she sipped it quietly, reveling in the way the warm liquid cascaded down her throat. She unconsciously lifted her little finger as she continued to enjoy the tea. Her smile softened and became more genuine as she set the tea down into it's saucer on table.

 

"Yes, Valla Sedai brought me here, though she wasn't the one who tested me. That one was the Sister who came to our village and tested my daughters. My youngest was always a little timid, you see, and I did it to show her there wasn't anything to be frightened of. Imagine my surprise when I actually passed her test!" Her chuckle was perhaps a little louder than it should have been. She had been more than surprised at that testing. Her daughters had both been so young...

 

Nanna forced the forming grimace off of her face and self-consciously smoothed her dress under herself. She eyed the stone that the Aes Sedai set down on the table in front of her warily, unsure of whether or not she should be happy to see it. She looked at the woman. She had to pass again? She would pass again, of that she had no doubt, but would she be happy to do so?

 

Still, she followed Talina Sedai's instructions, concentrating on the stone and letting her emotions go, allowing them to flow out of her and into the stone, like dropping flower petals onto the surface of the stream and watching them as they drifted away in the gentle current as she waited for the gem to light up like the one had before.

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Talina watched as Nanna concentrated on the gem set on the desk before her. It didn't take long, the woman's natural talent was strong, the gem flared to life and then went dark again. Talina nodded and said "It does appear indeed Nanna, that you can learn to channel."

 

Opening the bottom drawer of her desk Talina lifted out the aged leather bound Novice Book. "This book Nanna, contains the names of all Novices the White Tower has held since it's inception." She leafed through the pages until she came to the most recent entries, "Now Child, can you tell me your full name, place of birth and your age."

 

Lifting her pen Talina dipped it into the inkwell on her desk and tapped off the excess ink gently, she held it above the Novice Book and waited for the details to come.

 

Talina Odile Bolaine

Mistress of Salidar Novices

 

(OCC Nanna can ask about her daughters if you wish, we can look up the details. Grab me on msn and we can sort out the story. ajharper78 [@] msn.com)

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"Of course it does! What reason did I give to doubt..." Nanna's angry sputtering faded as she realized who she was talking to. She grimaced and swallowed the blustering that had become second nature to her over the years. She realized that she didn't much like the taste of humility. It stuck in her craw and rankled, making her feel like a bullfrog that had swallowed an angry wasp. "My apologies, Aes Sedai. I will work harder to control myself in the future." The words were appropriate, if not heart-felt.

 

 

Nanna blinked at the book the Aes Sedai pulled from her desk. It seemed impossible that any book could hold the names of every Novice since the creation of the White Tower. To her knowledge, the Tower had always been there. Any book that would even have a chance at holding that many names would have to be thicker than any she had any seen by far. Had there really been so few Aes Sedai that a book that size could hold all of them? Was it some kind of trick of the Power that allowed such a thing to exist?

 

"My name is Nanna Tarquin. I was born in Baerlon and I am fifty years old." She paused, thinking. "Is my daughter's name in that book? Miri Tarquin? My other daughter, Moura, came home, so I know where she is. Did Miri get sent away as well? Is she alright?" Nanna didn't often let the worry she sometimes felt for her children be known, but it somehow managed to leak into her voice as she asked after her missing child.

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"Of course it does! What reason did I give to doubt..." Talina raised a single eyebrow at the woman seated in front of her, Nanna seemed to realise to whom she was speaking and softened her tone, "My apologies, Aes Sedai. I will work harder to control myself in the future." Talina wondered if the woman really meant it or was saying what she thought Talina wanted to hear, the later was Talina's guess.

 

"Child, while you are within the White Tower you will give Aes Sedai, and Accepted for that matter, the respect they deserve. Despite your age, in the eyes of the White Tower you are a child. I do not want to have to explain this to you again. Is that understood?"

 

Despite the efforts Talina made to be nice to the Novices, she could not allow disrespect to those who had earned it. Light if the Hall thought she couldn't control the new older Novices she would be called out on it and Talina was not about to let that happen!

 

As Nanna gave the required details Talina wrote them into the Novice Book. She finished the entry with a signature and looking up she said, "Welcome to Tar Valon Nanna Tarquin. Welcome to the White Tower Novice Nanna."

 

"Is my daughter's name in that book? Miri Tarquin? My other daughter, Moura, came home, so I know where she is. Did Miri get sent away as well? Is she alright?"

 

That eyebrow raised again, Miri Tarquin, Talina should have reliased the connection instantly, Talina flipped back through the Novice Book and found where the girls had been entered, one after the other, into the Novice Book

 

Miri Tarquin, Four Kings - Andor, aged 15, Raised to Accepted 993NE.

Moura Tarquin, Four Kings - Andor, aged 14, Sent home due to failure to advance 990NE.

Talina showed the entries to Nanna, "Moura was sent home, as you know, sadly her ability with the One Power did not live up to expectations."

 

"However, Miri has been raised to Accepted for some time now. You should be aware that within the White Tower her standing as Accepted outweighs the fact that you are her Mother."

 

Talina hoped that that would be all that was required for Nanna to understand. She did not have the Foretelling but she was sure there would be clashes between this new Novice and the Accepted and younger Sisters.

 

Talina Odile Bolaine

Mistress of Salidar Novices

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Nanna fought down the urge to snap back at the Aes Sedai. She had just told the woman that she would do her best to keep herself under control, hadn't she? There was no call to tell her something she already knew. If it galled her to have to go belly up to the Mistress of Novices...oh, Light! Any Accepted? Any Accepted in the Tower was barely out of girlhood! Well, any Accepted with any hope of reaching Sisterhood. Yes, it was going to be quite a chore running and scraping whenever some petty slip of a girl was feeling out of sorts.

 

Instead of telling Talina off, Nanna simply gritted her teeth and nodded, mumbling something that might have been an affirmative answer. Hopefully she wouldn't have to be a Novice for long. There was no way she would survive more than a few years without telling a fool girl off when she needed it.

 

Talina seemed to be satisfied with her answer, because she scratched Nanna's name into her book. It was official then. She was now a Novice of the White Tower. Nanna, despite being irritated, had some idea of what was expected of her. "Thank you, Talina Sedai. I will try to learn quickly and well."

 

It seemed that Miri was still in the Tower! Nanna was pleased that her daughter had managed to advance beyond the level of Novice, yet dismayed at the idea of running into Miri while she was still at that level. That child would get no small amount of pleasure having her Mother hopping around like a toad. Maybe there would be a way for her to avoid Miri until she too had become one of the Accepted. Talina spoke again, reminding her once again of her place in the new pecking order.

 

"Yes, Talina Sedai. I will remember it." Her words were as short and clipped as a Cairhienin's, and a bit of heat seeped into her voice, in spite of her best efforts to keep it as meek and humble as a proper Novice's. Yes, she would remember this. A lifetime of raising children and running an Inn, only to suddenly be back to being called "girl" and "child"! She would remember this until she had the Oath Rod gripped in her hand, until she was back in her proper place.

 

"Where do I go from here, Talina Sedai?"

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Talina eyed Nanna across the desk ruefully. This one would be surely spending quite a bit of time within her office over the coming months and years. Her final reply to Talina's words came as "Yes, Talina Sedai. I will remember it." Her tone was short and clipped, with no little heat in it.

 

"Child. I suggest that you improve your tone when speaking to Aes Sedai. I am giving you leeway today as this is your first day here. However, when you leave this office and assume Novice whites, other Sisters will care not if you have been here for a decade or a day. This will be your final warning on the subject."

 

Talina softened her tone and continued, "We are glad to have you here Nanna," she rose from her desk and went to the large ornate wardrobe in the the corner of her office. From within the wardrobe Talina took a pair of Novice dresses, luckily she had had the sense to have large sizes made up once the Hall had approved these older Novices, also three shifts, a pair of slippers, a belt and puch, all in pristine Novice White. Walking back to her desk, Talina placed the bundle of clothing in the woman's lap. "These will see you through your first few days Nanna, until you can see the seamstresses to have more made."

 

Taking her seat again Talina smiled at the woman before her and hoped that Nanna would make an effort to contain herself. It would be difficult for her, but control was the essence of Aes Sedai and she would have to learn it. "You may go Nanna, in the hall outside you will find a servant who will show you to your room within the Novice Quarters. My door is always open if you need to speak to me."

 

Nanna stood and a attempted a curtsey, the action was completely foreign to the woman, but she would learn. "Thank you Talina Sedai." There was forced meekness in her voice but it was better than the previous thinly veiled anger, then she turned and left Talina's office.

 

Talina Odile Bolaine

Mistress of Salidar Novices

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