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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Hungry Hungry Soldiers


Grimmlocke
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Baran Dholwin was irritated. It was the only way he could describe his current mood. Yet another imperfectly cooked piece of meat sat on the stone in front of him. He knew what he wanted, and he tried to keep that in mind when he channeled it warm, but he always seemed to overdo it. Time after time he had been forced to eat charred meat, which wasn't as bad as eating it raw, but was still far from desirable. He was relatively sure there was a way to heat the stone in front of him so he could use it like a stove, but he wasn't sure he wanted to try it. What if he overdid that too? What if he caused the stone to explode, or what if he melted the bloody thing? The situation was dire enough for him to be angry, yet it wasn't something he could be happy with. He had to settle for being irritated.

 

He looked behind him down a small hill at the other black-coated men moving around the Practice Yards. He thought he was starting to be able to feel them channeling, but like everything else he knew about the Power, he wasn't sure. He felt a strange, almost threatening feeling almost constantly in and around the Black Tower. Was that what it felt like to be around other men channeling? It could just as easily be the Taint twisting his mind. His gut twisted at the remembered feel of the Taint on Saidin, at the idea that he would have to be put down. He dismissed the thoughts. He had known what would happen. He was going to die. He just wanted to do something worth remembering before he died.

 

Sighing, Baran tossed a slab of uncooked ham onto the stone and crossed his arms. Assuming the Void, he fumbled for Saidin. After a few minutes of reaching for it he finally took hold of the True Source, grimacing as he felt the Taint immediately start to seep into him amongst the flow of life that was the One Power. He channeled again, directing the flows at the meat on the stone. Maybe a little less of...that? He was only vaguely aware of the elements. One felt like fire, he assumed that's what it was. He tried to lessen it, to make it weaker. It was easier for him to work with than the others, something he was more than thankful for. But the strength also made it more difficult to judge how much was needed.

 

The meat sizzled for a moment, just long enough for Baran to get his hopes up before bursting into flame. He channeled again immediately, pulling the fire into the stone without really understanding what he was doing. The damage was done, though. Another piece of meat ruined. Determined not to let it go to waste, Baran picked the think up, tossing the still-hot food between his hands. He took a bite and frowned, but refused to spit it out. The outside was char, but the inside was still uncooked. He turned away from the stone as he chewed slowly, agonizingly. Maybe the other Soldiers were having better luck. He started down the hill. Where was fellow, Nandiel? Where had he been assigned for the day?

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Nandiel was sitting on a rock, turning three rabbits over a spit. The fire below it burning nicely, though it had no logs to fuel it. There was a look of concentration of Nandiel's face as he stared at the fire and the rabbits as well, gaze alternating quickly between the two. There was a mortar and pestle beside him, the pestle moving on it's own grinding down herbs. Nandiel would occasionally check on that as well. When the herbs were sufficiently ground, he stopped the motion of the pestle and reached into the mortar. Pulling out the fine dust of herbs, he would begin to sprinkle them over the rabbits.

 

Blaze was laying down next to him, tongue hanging out of his mouth. The dog's green eyes fixed greedily on the rabbits. Every now and then it would inch closer to the fire. Nandiel would reach down, grab Blaze by the scruff of his neck and pull him back to where he was, saying in a rather firm voice, "No! Stay!"

 

Looking around for a bit to see who was around the practice grounds, Nandiel would see Barran walking down a hill. Grinning slightly, Nandiel would wave to the other Soldier. "Hello there, Barran! Care to join me?" Nandiel would quickly turn his attention back to that flame that had suddenly grown in intensity, and scale it back down, a small part of the rabbits slightly blackened, the spit they were on turning on its own as well. Nandiel would wipe a bit of sweat from his brow, going back to focusing on the task at hand, and keeping Blaze away from the rabbits until they were finished.

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Baran stopped, startled, as someone called his name. He looked around wildly for a moment, wondering if he was already mad enough to hear voices. Then he saw Nandiel waving his arm. Baran allowed a smile to spread on his face. Like the Dark One, it seemed all one had to do to find Nandiel was speak his name. Or think it, in this case. He started over to the other young man. As he drew closer, Baran noticed the fire burning behind Nandiel, apparently without fuel. He saw the flows Nandiel had woven, saw the way they interacted with the spits and fire. Seeing them helped, actually. What the Andoran was doing made sense, and in comparison with what Baran had been doing, was much easier. What surprised him was the number of threads Nandiel was handling.

 

"You must be practicing." Baran said, looking around for a rock of his own to sit on. He saw a likely candidate just a few feet off and walked over to it. He thought for a moment, then gave it a nudge with the Power. It slid over to the fire, with Baran walking behind it, nudging it further when necessary. When he finally got the rock where he wanted it, Baran sat down on it. "I don't think I could handle that many flows right now."

 

He held up the results of his most recent attempt at cooking. "You seem to be having better luck with cooking, as well." He tossed the burned hunk on the ground near the dog. Maybe it would get more use from it than him. Dogs tended to want to eat everything, anyway. Well, everything that humans did.

 

Baran nodded at the dog. "So they're letting you keep him?"

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"You must be practicing." Baran stated in his simple manner, "I don't think I could handle that many flows right now."

 

Nandiel would simply shrug, "Haven't you been practicing? I mean we're supposed to do everything with the power. So, I've been doing everything with the power. Shaving took some getting used to, let me tell you." Nandiel would rub at his neck for a moment, "As to the flows, well, I keep pushing myself. Plus they don't give us much time for ourselves, so I've learned to heat my morning tea while I shave. It's tough, takes a whole lot of concentration, and I feel like I've just run ten laps around the Farm after doing it, at least the first few times, but it seems to be helping. Besides, I figure the more flows I can handle, the better use I'll be to the Black Tower. It'll come to you Baran, I'm sure."

 

Baran nodded at the dog. "So they're letting you keep him?"

 

Nandiel would chuckle and shrug, "Well, they haven't told me to get rid of him, so I guess so. It's kinda nice having him around. And of course, throwing things for fetch has helped me with practice too."

 

Blaze would lick his chops and then tear into the ham that Baran had tossed his way. Finishing it, he looked over at Baran expectantly.

 

"Well, these rabbits look like they're done. I do believe I still owe you from my first day here. Help yourself." Nandiel would motion to the rabbits on the spit.

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"Really," he gave an expression of being in low spirits. He was patting his chin while looking at the surrounding scenery.

 

It was an attitude that suited the reputation of Ful as someone who hated socializing. But for some reason, he had come here to where the other soldiers were. It was a spacious area at the outskirt of the farm. Why was he here rather than at his own house?

 

In one hand Ful held a small pan. He wore a pair of leather gloves with white padded tips to protect his hands from the heat. Also worn was the pink apron with ribbons Isha said suited Ful. No matter how many people got swept up in Isha's pace without fail, he thought, they were never enough.

 

Nonetheless.

 

"Peach crumble." Ful said without varying the tone of his voice. "I made this for you."

 

Turning from Nandiel and Blaze to Baran, he tilted his head "please try some too. I'm not good with measuring and made too much. And since my . . . housemate doesn't like sweet things, it'd be still a shame to just throw it away."

 

Some of the ingredients, like the fresh peaches or the browned sugar for the topping, weren't easily accessible after all.

 

Ful Haert

Access to AL's Kitchen :P

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"Ah." Was all Baran said at first, rubbing his own face and neck. The downy hair that was just beginning to grow there wasn't worth taking a blade to yet, let alone worth risking madness from the Taint. Yet he could understand how someone could grow more skilled at using the One Power by doing all his daily tasks with it. He had taken to splitting would with the Power, himself. It had been surprisingly easy once he had worked out how to make the flows thin enough.

 

"I have no doubt that it will. I've never been quick to pick a new skill up." Baran looked around at the grassy field around them. He saw what looked like another person walking out to them. Oh, that strange boy that had approached Nandiel at the recent "This is no different, I suppose."

 

He looked down at the dog, now looking up at him in the hopes of getting more food. Baran simply shook his head and spread his gnarled, empty hands in front of him. He had thrown the other even more burnt piece of meat away for whatever felt it could scavenge something from the disaster. "Just as long as you don't leave him alone with some of the others. I wouldn't trust a madman not to do something...drastic." It was an honest admission, which by itself was strange for Baran to volunteer.

 

Baran looked over at the cooked meat. "Well, as long as you're offering." He seized Saidin, bending it into flows of air that wrapped around one of the carcasses and pulled it from the spit, floating it over to Baran, who looked around for something to set it down on. There was nothing. He grumbled and concentrated, managing to snap a rather sturdy-looking stick off of a nearby tree and drag it close enough to grab with his hand. He jammed the meat onto the stick and ran thin flows of fire along most of the branch, leaving the meat on roughly a foot of good wood. He took a bite, his eyes widening as he chewed it quickly and swallowed.

 

"Maybe a little longer to let it cool." He said, holding the stick loosely, yet high enough to keep the dog from getting any ideas.

 

Their visitor made himself known then, announcing that he had cooked a peach cobbler for Nandiel. Something about that prodded at the back of his mind. Something about the cobbler. He wracked his mind, trying to figure out what it was. Then it came to him.

 

"Nandiel, don't take a bite of that." He said quietly, keeping his voice level and his eye on the strange boy in the pink apron. "Unless you feel like dying."

 

Baran stood slowly, pulling in more of the One Power, filling himself until the struggle threatened to burn him to a cinder. "I asked one of the Wise Women back in Tear about poisons. I wanted to know if it would hurt when they killed me, you see. She told me they sometimes use a plant called grey fennel, sometimes something called asping rot, and sometimes they use the fruit of the peach tree. He's trying to kill us, Nandiel. I want to know why."

 

Had the young man gone mad? Did a higher-ranking officer think that the two of them had gone insane? Baran had heard rumors that there had been fighting in the Tower recently. Well, he had sought them out, but the rumors were there nonetheless, which meant that there could conceivably be an Asha'man out there that thought it would be advantageous for Nandiel and himself to die. The thoughts flickered through his mind, skittering across the Void like pebbles tossed across a thick sheet of ice. Still staring at the younger man, he sifted through the few weaves he knew. Which ones could be used as weapons in this instance? He didn't want to get caught off-guard if the Soldier in the pink apron decided to try to fulfill his mission through violence.

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How embarrassing. Can't even give away sweets without somebody accusing you of murder.

 

Ful hated the black tower. The suspicion, the distrust, the absolute madness that was the place he now inhabit. But he needed to get along with them, otherwise all that power Baran had would be released on Ful.

 

He frowned. What bad manners!

 

"Really! You could have just refused instead of sparing my feelings," Ful said, slowly removing his gloves "mama Ful's cooking is not poisoned. I'll eat any piece of that you want. See?" Picking up a part of the crumble he ate it and deliberately licked his fingers.

 

"Nandiel, you believe me right?"

 

Without waiting for confirmation Ful stared at Baran rather than reach for the power himself. It would only make the situation worse. "I know you want to protect Nandiel and all, but are you that confident in your ability to control saidin? If you lose the struggle here, not only will you die but you might take out everybody within a certain radius of you. Not that I really would mind if my mission was to kill you, but since my purpose was just to give Nandiel this, it seems to be a shame if you were to turn our bodies into mince so carelessly. Please don't do something reckless and kill all three of us."

 

"Aaah it smells nice" setting down the pan, Ful laid down near them and closed his eyes as though to nap "you don't have to eat it if you think grey fennel's in it. But peaches aren't poisonous by themselves, and I haven't put any . . . extraneous spices in it. Fennel for one would taste nasty for dessert."

 

That was the most, Ful felt, he's talked in ages.

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(( OOC: Grimm, just in case you didn't know, it's peach pits that are poisonous in WoT, not peaches themselves. Only mentioning it because I was confused on the point myself, as I did faintly recall something about peaches and poison from the books. ))

 

Nandiel and Blaze looked between Baran and Ful rather confused for a moment. First he was offered peach cobbler that looked delicious. Then he was told it was poisonous, then it wasn't, it was all very strange. Ful taking a bite of the cobbler decided him, "Of course I trust you, Ful. Baran, it's fine. I'm sure it's not poisoned."

 

Nandiel focused for a moment, and pulled some stone from the ground, rounding it out and flattening it, to make something resembling a plate. He then produced a wooden spoon and took some of Ful's cobbler, setting it on his plate. He took a bite, and made a rather pleased sound. "Mmm, this is very good Ful. You're an excellent cook." Nandiel then offered a tiny bit of the cobbler to Blaze as well, before finishing it off himself. Blaze now looked expectantly between the three men, seeing where his next bit of food would come from.

 

Using some flows of air, Nandiel would pull one of the rabbits from the spit and set it down on his plate. He'd look to Ful, "Would you like some rabbit?" He'd indicate the final rabbit roasting above the saidin created fire on the spit. "You're more than welcome to have some."

 

Blaze would try and get at the rabbit on Nandiel's "plate", the young man holding it up higher and pushing the pup away from the food and back to the ground, "No, Blaze, this is mine. I'll feed you later." The pup would simply look up at Nandiel dissappointed in it's failure to get the rabbit and lay down on the ground, still eyeing Nandiel's plate.

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Baran took a bite out of the rabbit and chewed it slowly, deliberately. He swallowed it and looked at the two other men and shook his head. "Your lives are your own, but don't expect me to join you. I'd rather risk my life in battle, not eating food." He turned and walked back to his rock, taking another bite out of the rabbit as he sat down, still watching them carefully. If either of them started to fall ill, he would have to move quickly to find a healer in time. If he could find one in time. Peaches killed quickly, he had been told, especially if the poison used was made from the pit of the peach. He squinted over at the pan in the young man's hands. He couldn't see any pits, but they could have been ground up.

 

He still clung to Saidin, filling himself with the Power, reveling in the way it ached to be used. "We are expected to push ourselves, to test our limits, are we not? Besides, if you two start to die, I have a feeling I will need all the Power I can hold to signal for help." He pulled his legs up under himself and resumed his meal.

 

He shook his head again as Nandiel fed some of the cobbler to his dog. The animal was smaller than a man, who knew how much it would take to kill him? Fools, the both of them! "Even if you don't believe me, I think you two should get yourselves checked out. We have enough people killing themselves with the Power, we don't need more of us dying from...that." He motioned at the cobbler. What a horrible, useless way to die. "I don't want to have to tell people that your desert killed you instead of a fist of trollocs or a halfman." It was true, after a fashion. No doubt word would spread of the two Soldiers who baked themselves to death. Stories like that always spread. The Black Tower was still too new for people not to believe tales like that. People would laugh at the Asha'man, would think them even more foolish than they already did for touching the One Power.

 

So Baran watched, waited to see if they would take his advice, and tried his best to ignore the feeling of the taint as it fouled his mind.

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With Baran's continued behavior of suspicion, Nandiel began searching his mind for a way to calm his friend. Some piece of knowledge that would reassure him. Unfortunately, it was only now, as he tried to recollect some useful piece of information, that he recalled being told as a young man that peaches were in fact poisonous, as Baran said. The color drained from Nandiel's face, and he quickly looked down to Blaze, then up to Ful. How to bring this up to the other man without hurting his feelings? He couldn't think of anything. What would his friend Thom do in this situation? He'd always been better with people. Nandiel looked around then, and was surprised to see a men who looked just like his friends Thom and Boyd walking with other new recruits a fair distance off. Well, even if it wasn't them, it at least provided him with a polite way of leaving and seeking Healing.

 

He'd look to Baran and Ful, and then hand his plate to Baran, "Would you mind holding that for me? I just saw some old friends I need to say hello to. I'll be back shortly, and the cobbler was delicious Ful, but I personally prefer apple cobbler, myself." Nandiel would stand then and motion to Blaze. The boy and dog would then head off to the group of recruits that was walking past, waving to them. He hurried quickly, but didn't manage to catch up to them, and they entered the Inn, which he wasn't allowed in to, so he decided it was time to see about some Healing for himself and Blaze. He wandered off to find a Dedicated or Asha'man that could direct him to the proper people. As he explained the situation to the Dedicated he found, the other man looked at him with horror on his face, before hurrying him off to the Healing tents.

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Gavin approached the small campfire just as Nandiel left with the puppy. He hadn't been formally introduced to any of the other Soldiers since he had missed that last few minutes at the Inn, so he decided that now was as good a time as any. Gavin eyed Nandiel as the boy ran off with the puppy in tow, but paid it no mind. The fire did dissipate though, and Gavin noticed that there was no fuel. The boy must have been making the fire with the Power.

 

Gavin fought to suppress a shudder. He had come here to learn to channel, but in his twenty years he had heard countless campfire stories and wives tales regarding male channelers. And that was not even including all of the stories he knew from his father. He was making a concerted effort to be less afraid of saidin now, especially since he had been using it almost constantly since he arrived. Also, saidin at least partially filled the hole left by his sister's disappearance. The part that couldn't be filled still made him cry at night, and plot vengeance, but at least he had a reason to live now.

 

Gavin took in the pair sitting around where the fire had been. The man called Baran looked like he was ready to draw his sword. The feeling of him holding saidin told him the same. Ful on the other hand looked offended. Gavin had no idea what had happened here, but he needed to say something to cut the tension before someone did something rash. The Light knows, rash actions in this place would leave craters. And corpses.

 

"Good morning my good sirs," Gavin said, putting on his performance voice. "I do not believe we have had the pleasure of meeting."

 

Gavin cut a dashing figure, despite the location. Only of average height and build, he had positioned himself for maximum effect on the crowd -- tiny as it is, two people is still a crowd to a gleeman -- and the sun shone down behind him, lighting up his sandy hair. His black coat and breeches were spotless, thanks to liberal application of saidin in the morning. His cloak was black like everyone else's. More's the pity, Gavin had put his gleeman's cloak away. He would bring it out again one day, but that day was a long way off. Soldiers were not allowed such things.

 

"My name is Gavin Mortisane, gleeman. Half a gleeman actually. Well formerly half a gleeman." He said all of this still in performace voice. The last bit he added on at the last second, but he made it sound as if it was rehearsed. He had positioned himself and turned slightly so that when he bowed, the wind would set his cloak fluttering, but the wind decided at that exact moment to stay still. Still bent over in his bow, he frowned to himself. Grasping saidin, he quickly channeled a small amount of Air to make his cloak flutter before raising his head with an abashed grin. "I bring more food to this gathering," he said, offering up a pheasant that he had cooked earlier.

Edited by Clepto
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Frowning, he shuffled behind Nandiel to get "healed" at Baran's suggestion. At least the boy had tried to spare Ful's feelings, but he shouldn't have eaten if he were just going to doubt Ful. He crouched so Nandiel wouldn't see him at the tent, although when the dedicated heard Ful's story he was doubly horrified and asked if anybody else consumed any peach crumble. "Just a dog" Ful said, and the dedicated said the dog was just going to have to fend for itself.

 

Ful didn't want to get healed, since he didn't think it was necessary, but it seemed better to fit within the crowd even if he knew they were wrong. Peaches were only poisonous if prepared improperly. After all they had been Blair's favourite and he lived to be quite old. Fresh peaches in particular were quite scrumptious and rare. But Ful remembered his mission at hand to get to know the new recruits and fit in, even though coming here was rather unlike him.

 

He knew that his arm hurt after the training so at least healing was good for that.

 

Coming back, a young man named Gavin approached them.

 

His brother's name was Gavin but this Gavin seemed nothing like the Gavin Ful knew. The Gavin he knew was serious and mild mannered while this person seemed to have the flare for theatrics, resorting to using saidin for cheap tricks such as channelling air to move his cloak even. For either Baran or Gavin, did he not know how dangerous saidin was to himself, and all of them?

 

It seemed much more than a peach crumble which lay untouched.

 

He decided to try some pheasant. It was the most delicious pheasant he'd ever consumed. Healing was hungry work, since his body was forced to repair itself and consumed quite a good deal of energy in the process. "Mmmmm! Storytelling was the wrong profession for you." Ful praised "Mortisane is an odd family name. Where did you say you were from again?" He'd always wondered where they get trained, the gleeman.

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Nandiel received Healing for the poisoning, and the Dedicated who healed him happened to be a dog lover. As a result, with a little under the table channeling, Blaze was Healed as well. The Healing had been a strange sensation, like ice and fire flooding through his veins, much like holding saidin. It left him a little tired, and rather hungry. From the looks he was getting from Blaze, Nandiel guessed the dog felt the same. It struck him as well past time to head back for that rabbit.

 

He made his way out of the Healing Hut, and made his way back to his fire. He'd nod to Baran and Ful, and offer another nod of greeting to Gavin, the former half-gleeman. Nandiel would eye those pheasants for a moment, before taking his stone plate from Baran, and pulling the remaining rabbit off the spit. The final rabbit was given to Blaze, as it seemed no one else wanted to claim it. Nandiel as his pup then began to dig into their rabbits, devouring them rather quickly. Licking his fingers clean of rabbit juices, Nandiel would smack his lips, "Mmm, that wasn't half bad, if I do say so myself. No wonder Thom and Boyd always made me cook when we went camping out." Nandiel would just chuckle to himself then, remembering his childhood friends and the antics they got up to.

 

Nandiel would look to Gavin then and stand to properly introduce himself, wiping his hand on a handkerchief before offering it to the other man, "I'm Nandiel by the way. Very nice to meet you, Gavin."

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"Mmmmm! Storytelling was the wrong profession for you." Ful praised "Mortisane is an odd family name. Where did you say you were from again?"

 

"I didn't." Gavin began, though he no longer spoke in his performance voice. "I'm originally from Andor. Spent a few years in a small village just east of Baerlon. Mom was Andoran, though I have no idea where my dad is from." He paused for a moment. "Not that I didn't know my dad, mind you, he just never spoke of where he came from. I suspect he was from Whitebridge since he always went back once a year, but I'll never know."

 

Gavin paused for a moment, for dramatic effect. After a quick moment he went on, idly juggling a trio of throwing knives that had materialized from under his coat. "From what he told us, our family has always been that way." Without even thinking, Gavin slipped back into Low Chant, he figured High Chant might be a bit much for this crowd. "He knew his father, learned his trade from him, but never knew where he was from. And so on, for generations. Dad always said that our family has been gleemen since the Breaking, though I think that's jest on his part. I figure we only go back to the Trolloc Wars."

 

The other Soldiers looked incredulous. "Well, maybe not that far back. I do know we can trace our family back to Hawkwing's time, however." Their faces still showed that they didn't believe. "At any rate, I'm the last. It was me and my sister, but she's gone now, taken from me, which is why I'm here."

 

Nandiel had come back shortly before Gavin finished his explanation. "I'm Nandiel by the way. Very nice to meet you, Gavin."

 

"Likewise Nandiel," Gavin replied, dropping the Chant from his voice. The knives he had been juggling disappeared up his sleeves. He still gave a deep bow though, flourishing his cloak. The wind cooperated this time, setting the cloak to blowing, for dramatic effect of course.

Edited by Clepto
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Baran reluctantly let go of the power as the pair walked off to find a healer, sighing softly in regret at it's loss. Part of him wanted to take hold of the Power and never let go. Holding as long as he had had been wonderful, but letting it go after holding it for so long was...difficult. He had been told that the Power was addicting, but he hadn't known how bad it would be until recently. It had been easy at first, but now...

 

He didn't know how long he had been staring at nothing until someone spoke up next to him. He jerked and twisted his head to look at the new arrival. A gleeman? Here? And one who could channel, it seemed. The feeling of another man holding the Power pulled at him, daring him to Seize the Power again. He refused to rise to the bait this time. They were on the same side, after all. The fellow sounded like Nandiel, which meant another Andorman. He wondered if he would ever see someone with the familiar accents of Cairhien in the Black Tower. As the gleeman struck a pose and began to juggle, Baran had to keep a firm grip on the urge to clap and smile. A gleeman would have gotten that sort of response back home, in his village, but the Black Tower was not a place for that kind of levity. After all, they were here to die.

 

"Thank you, but I've already eaten." He nodded to the young man, Gavin, he said he was called. "Baran Dholwin. Please, pull up a rock or log." He gestured to the space around the fire. "If you were half a gleeman, what was the other half?" He had heard rumors about some gleeman. Disgraced nobles, assassins, even the rare master of Daes Dae'mar. None of them would advertise themselves as such, though, which was what had piqued his curiosity at the mention of only a part gleeman.

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"Baran Dholwin. Please, pull up a rock or log. If you were half a gleeman, what was the other half?"

 

Gavin's face turned into a grimace. A fair question, yet not one that was easy for him to answer. Still full of the Power, Gavin used Earth to smooth out one of the larger stones to make it more comfortable, then sat. "The other half is my sister," Gavin started. Reluctantly, he let go of the Power, feeling the twin pain and relief of saidin leaving him. Pain for the wonder that was the Power, relief for the taint.

 

"We were twins you see. We did everything together, almost since the day of our birth." Gavin adjusted his cloak so that he wasn't sitting on it. "When our father began our training, it quickly became apparent that neither of us would make a full gleeman, for our talents were split between the two of us." Gavin paused for a moment, collecting his thoughts.

 

"I have a good memory, and a facility for storytelling. I've also got quick hands." Gavin demonstrated that last by making the knives appear again, giving them a good juggle, then making them disappear. "But stories and juggling, with a bit of tumbling as well, don't make a gleeman. For that, you need music. But I don't have much talent for that. That was my sister's."

 

Gavin paused again, fighting back sorrow. "She could sing. She could play any instrument ever made by man, and well. When she performed, she brought cheers from the crowd, or tears if the song was sad. Oh, she could do some of the tumbling and juggling as well, but the music was her passion. So between the two of us, we made a gleeman. Hence the half. Without her, I'm only half." Gavin gestured to his cloak, then realized that he wasn't wearing the gleeman's patches. "Some of you may have seen my on my first day here. That cloak was split, half gleeman, half regular cloak. Our father had them made, hers is its twin, yet opposite."

 

Gavin seized the Power once more. "She was taken from me in Tear. I don't know what happened, just that someone took her. She killed a man in the attempt, but nobody could find her after." He lashed out with the Power at a nearby tree. "Which is why I'm here. To learn. One day, I will bring justice down on those that took her. For the time being, and until after Tarmon Gaidon, I am a weapon for the Lord Dragon. But after, I will bring justice." When Gavin ended his short speech, he looked at the tree, and was so shocked saidin fled. He had twisted it around and around in a spiral. The tree hadn't snapped off, but the trunk was twisted from the ground to the branches, deep grooves in the bark where it had resisted being moved.

Edited by Clepto
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Baran simply watched, listened as the young man told his story. It was hardly unique. He had heard others like it after coming to the Black Tower. He knew well the pain caused by the untimely death of a loved one. At least here, it sounded like the girl might be alive. Or not. This Gavin might be holding something back, or maybe forgetting the death was simply a symptom of his madness. Glancing at the tree, Baran decided it would probably be prudent to not ask him about the fate of his sister. At least not without someone Shielding the fellow.

 

"I think," He started, then paused, thinking his words through carefully. "That the loss of a loved one is never easy. However, that is no reason to allow your emotions to cloud your judgment." He gestured to the tree. "What if there had been someone hiding behind that? You might have injured them. It seems to me that self-control is one of the most valuable tools an Asha'man has." He stopped again, letting his words sink in.

 

"That said, don't give up hope that you won't find the people you're looking for before the Last Battle. I've heard that things tend to go...strange around the Lord Dragon. They say the Pattern twists around him. Maybe you'll prove yourself skilled enough to get assigned to him." Baran marveled at the words that had just come out of his mouth. Barely seconds after he had told the Andoran not to let his emotions get the better of him and he was already offering an incentive to push through the training in a way that appealed to the fellow's emotions. There was no way that it would work.

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Gavin listened to Baran's words, and felt his face flush with shame. He really hadn't meant to hurt anyone. Fortunately, nobody had been behind the tree. Intellectually, he was aware that he would in all likelihood kill many people in the name of the Dragon, and likely soon, but he didn't want to injure anyone here at the Tower without a good reason. Besides, these fellows sharing lunch here seemed a good sort.

 

"I apologize Baran," Gavin said. "It just sort of happened." He kept his eyes down, not sure that he wanted to meet Baran's. "I just get so worked up over the whole thing. We had been eating breakfast at an inn, and she left to run an errand. Minutes later, there was a body in the street, and she had disappeared. I even hired a thief-catcher to track down those that had to have taken her, but to no avail. That's why I came here. Aside from justice, and there will be justice, I had nowhere else to go."

 

Gavin picked the remaining meat off the pheasant he had brought, and wrapped it in a scrap of cloth for later. It seemed that everyone enjoyed the bird, so there was not much meat left, though it would make a decent snack between classes. The pup Blaze looked up at him with those puppy eyes, and Gavin slipped him a bit of the bird. "I'm sorry to have brought the mood down. You fellows had been enjoying a decent lunch before I got here."

 

Gavin stood from the rock he had been sitting on. "If you will excuse me, I have to take care of some things before getting back to work." Gavin paused for a moment, then with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, he put the Chant back in his voice, "Good day gentlemen. May we meet again, and well." With another flourish, Gavin strode away from the fire towards the Soldier dorms.

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