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Introduction to Channeling


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It was dark. Good. Baran Dholwin strode northeast, towards the Soldier's Barracks. One of the responisbilities that came with his new rank was to participate in the instruction of new recruits. Most Dedicated held large classes in order to get the most training done with the largest amount of Soldiers. It was a fairly efficient method, but not one Baran had chosen to follow. Instead, he had decided to pick one Soldier at random out of the fairly large pool of new Soldiers and devote all his energy to training that one Soldier. He could train one Soldier more quickly than a large group, which would leave him with more time to pursue his own studies. It also meant he was almost guaranteed to produce a living, channeling Soldier rather than a pile of ash.


He soon found himself at the Barracks where his randomly selected target was no doubt sleeping soundly. He adjusted his coat, making sure the high-collared affair was straight, as well as making sure the freshly-shined silver sword pin was prominently displayed on the left side of his collar. With a deep breath he opened the door and stepped into the darkened interior of the building. He was greeted with the snores of sleeping men. A rare smile crossed his face as he Seized Saidin and wove Air into a thunderclap. The noise reverberated within the walls of the large building, actually causing a few panes of glass to shatter. He grimaced at the unintentional destruction. He would no doubt be replacing those as soon as the higher-ups found out who had done it. Well, someone would have to. He might well be put to work somewhere else entirely. There was always work to be done in the Black Tower.


The men reacted in a wide variety of ways. Some bolted upright in their bunks, other bounced straight out of bed. Others screamed and leaped straight out of their beds, some even landing in crouches that made Baran think they had seen combat. He channeled a small globe of light into existence above his head, making sure that everyone's eyes would be drawn to him. After he was sure he had been noticed, he wove again, this time amplifying his somewhat quiet voice so that it would carry to every ear in the room.


"Soldier Lir Gilbearn, you are to report to the Eastern Training Yard in fifteen minutes. The rest of you should go find something to eat and some work to do."


With that, Baran turned and left the Barracks. He strode back to the barracks he shared with a few other Dedicated and channeled himself some porridge. He ate it slowly, taking his leisure while he waited for time to pass. After twenty or so minutes had crawled by, Baran stood and walked out to the eastern practice yard with a slab of uncooked pork in his hand. He remembered how much he had hated it when he was a Soldier. Here's hoping this Andoran would hate it just as much. It would give him a reason to learn quickly.


He stepped out onto half-frozen mud of the Training Yard, pork in hand. It would be interesting to see how his first attempt at teaching another man to Seize Saidin would go.

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A crash of thunder shook the barraks. Lir was back in the Caemlyn in the barraks of the Queens guards. The alarm was sounding and smoke was already drifting into the room where confused men were being roused from their rest. He could hear the snarls of the trollocs as they rampaged through the halls. He rolled out of bed, his hands already unsheathing the sword that lay beside him at all times. His hip gave a painful twinge, and that confused him even more, the eagle headed trolloc hadn't crushed it yet.


"Soldier Lir Gilbearn, you are to report to the Eastern Training Yard in fifteen minutes. The rest of you should go find something to eat and some work to do."


Lir shook his head, he was not back in Caemlyn. He was still surrounded by the as yet unfamiliar walls of the soldiers barraks here on the farm. He wondered if he would ever be free of the memories of that day. He wondered if the strange flashbacks he kept having would be what killed him eventually. Or if the inevitable maddness of Saidin would amplify them somehow. Nothing to be done for it though, so he rose and dressed himself. This would be his first day in the new uniform. He had to admit that even just putting on the tight fitting black coat gave him a sense of power and authority. He belted his sword on last, and carressed the hilt. He had to remember that no matter how nervous he felt, this blade had tasted the blood of a trolloc. Sure it had not done the creature any harm before it had smashed Lir against a wall, but it was more combat than many of the soldiers here had ever witnessed.


He made his way to the training grounds, despite being new here it was easy to find. The farm was still small enough that navigation was fairly easy. Not to mention the scattered detritous that this sort of training left behind marked the place distinctly. He was there before Baran, and had time to think. He assumed the void, it was easy in the quiet morning with no distractions. He began to work through the most basic of forms, it helped to warm up his muscles and loosen his hip. Dedicated Baran was a man to take note of, he had gained notoriety amongst the other soldiers for his quick rise to the sword pin. It would do well to make an ally of him, though Lir thought the man already carried some of the suspicious air that hung about the Black Tower. Still, that he had chosen Lir for personal lessons was a promising sign for future cooperation.


The black coated form of the Dedicated appeared out of the fog. Lir couldn't help but notice that the sword pin gleamed as if freshly polished. He approved, appearance was a large part of leadership, and the Asha'Man as a group would have to be ready to lead when Tarmon Gaidon came calling. He also carried a plate of raw pork and Lir's spirit fell at the sight of it. He'd heard of the breakfast rituals here abouts. Oh well, put on a good face.


"Good morning Dedicated Dholwin." He saluted fist to chest, and tried to keep his face and voice cheerful. "What do we have in store this morning?"

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Baran looked at the older man, surprised at the fellow's age. It made sense that they would be accepting anyone who could channel, and the Andoran was still by all accounts a young man, but Baran had never expected to be training someone older than him. At least the man wasn't taller than him. That would have been almost unbearable. Lir greeted him as he drew closer, even going so far as to salute him. In response, Baran arched an eyebrow, surprised. His new rank was going to take some getting used to. He had learned something of how to act and react by watching other Dedicated. Hopefully that would be enough until he learned more through experience.


"I have very little in store for myself, Soldier. You, however, will not be nearly so happy to see me after today." Baran hefted the pork in his hand as though weighing it. "It is customary in the Black Tower for Soldiers to eat their food uncooked until they have learned enough of the One Power to cook it." He Seized Saidin and wove air to levitate the meat and tied it off, leaving the pork to dangle in the wind. He unbuckled his sword from around his waist and left it under the prospective breakfast to mark it as his.


"If you progress to my satisfaction during this session, I will cook that food for you. If you do not, you will eat it raw, the way the rest of your fellows back at the barracks are probably doing as we speak. As to what you will be doing..." Baran held his hand out, channeling a small flame into existence, allowing it to dance atop his palm. "You will be learning to do this."


He gestured for Lir to follow and began to walk further into the Field, towards where he felt other men channeling. Other Soldiers and Dedicated channeling, no doubt. "Now, what do you know of channeling Saidin? It's important for me to know where to start with you."

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Lir followed the younger man into the field, careful to keep his footing in slick half-frozen mud. He wondered who Baran had been in his previous life. Some folks at the farm were reluctant to talk about it, almost like a respect for the dead. Others found comfort in sharing memories, as if they were sharing a common humanity that many assumed lost. Lir reckoned he was somewhere in the middle. He was not a particularly secretive person, but then neither was he overly chatty. He judged that Baran was probably not in the mood for idle conversation however.


"What do I know of channeling?" Lir rubbed his chin with one black gloved hand. "Well the other soldiers spent much of last night telling me stories. I would have said they were just trying to scare me except well..they looked more than a little scared themselves. They told me about the flame and the void, a trick I already knew from my sword tutors. It seems that now when I assume the void I feel," He paused looking for the right words, "almost a light hovering behind me, but more intense and not visual."


Lir stopped and turned to the Dedicated, keeping his hands still at his sides to avoid looking as nervous as he flet. "It's so tempting to reach out and grab it. Is the taint really that bad? Can something that feels natural to want be so hiddeous?" It was chilling in a way to think of wanting to channel the cursed male half as natural.


(ooc: edited to bring up wordcount)

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It was hard for Baran not to frown at the frank admission from his trainee. What was the point of training for the man if he already knew the Flame and the Void, not to mention the fact that the Andoran could already sense the True Source? It was enough to make him want to growl, or at least sigh in frustration. Even if it meant not having to spend time coaching a Soldier through assuming the Void, or describing the feeling of Saidin floating just out of reach, it was irritating. He had almost been looking forward to abusing a recruit learning the first hard lessons of the Black Tower. After all, he had had to go through the same thing when he had first joined the Black Tower.


Instead of growling, Baran exhaled softly- not a sigh -and continued walking. "There is a reason most men call touching the One Power Seizing. You certainly aren't going to get Saidin to come to you. As to the Taint...well, I would say both the Taint and Saidin are each things that need to be experienced rather than described."


As he spoke, Baran's thoughts drifted back to the first time he had touched Saidin. It didn't seem like it had been all that long since he had first begun to channel, and to tell the truth, it really hadn't been that long. Still, he had grown in strength and skill since then, and his first, bumbling attempts at channeling seemed almost laughable now. No doubt this Soldier would be any different. Unless he had somehow had an Asha'man for a sword instructor.


"Don't forget that Saidin wasn't always cursed, only after the Lord Dragon sealed the Dark One in his prison was it Tainted. I sometimes like to think that we'll have an opportunity to pay the Dark One back for cursing us at Tarmon Gai'don." He allowed a brief smile to cross his face. He had heard some of the other Dedicated say that bonding with the Soldiers was a good way to get them through the first few weeks of training without giving up and trying to run. It certainly couldn't hurt to try, though it went against his own personal tastes.


Baran suddenly stopped, standing in a half-frozen patch of mud like any other in the field. "Now, why don't you try to touch the One Power? Be ready for a fight, and don't worry if you lose the Void a few times." He stepped back and Seized the Power, readying a Shield just in case the other man looked as though he were about to burn out.

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Right then, I'll be ready for a fight. Lir grit his teeth with determination, and put both hands on the hilt of his sheathed sword. He assumed the stance Leopard in the Tree. It was one of the most basic sword form stances, often used before the sword was drawn, and being in it was a physical cue that helped Lir clear his mind. He formed the image of the flame in his head. The dancing flame that he pictured now resembled the ones most often created by soldiers and dedicated. He filled the flame with both his fear and excitement at finally getting things underway. He was left empty and at peace. Truth be known, he was beginning to enjoy the calm detachment of the void. When he floated in the void problems became puzzles to unlock. Only the presence of Saidin beckoning to him disturbed the calm.


Touch Saidin the dedicated had said. How exactly did one go about touching, yet alone seizing something so ephemeral. Lir spent several moments contemplating the issue, the void kept him from worrying about how much time it was taking. He felt as if he could extend his will, push it out just so. Saidin felt further away than ever. Not good enough Lir, try harder. With great effort, Lir stretched his will. It was like working a muscle that he had not even known existed. He felt the warm glow of Saidin just out of his reach. It was almost there, and then gone far away again. He kept at it, trying over and over again. Each time the tempting presence stayed just out of his reach. Time stretched and Lir glanced nervously at the dedicated, Baran was not known to be a patient man.


"I apologize for the delay Dedicated. As Pedron Niall once wrote: Victory belongs to the most persevering."


Frustration floated across the bubble of the void, but Lir was both determined and focused on his goal. He stretched out once more towards the True Source. This was the only way that the coming war would go to the side of the Light, he had no option save for victory. He pushed until he felt something straining within himself and then suddenly and without warning he reached it. Fire and ice and rage rolled over him in torrent, and the entire world seemed to jump out at him in an instant. He exhaled sharply and it seemed to him that each crystal of vapor in the air was a distinct and beautiful thing. Oh light, the foulness of it. The Taint was worse than he'd heard. It's black filth was nearly enough to distract him from the torrent trying to burn him to ashes. In just a fraction of a heartbeat, in just the time it took for that one breath to leave him, the void crumpled around him.


Pain blossomed in his head, and Lir fell to his knees doubled over with retching dry heaves. His face pressed into the cold mud and he continued to try and turn out his empty stomach.


Eventually his head cleared and he regained control of his stomach. Grimacing, Lir stood and resisted the urge to wipe the mud from his face onto his sleeve. No need to make himself any less presentable than he already was. Embarrassment fought with exultation on his face. He saluted Dholwin once more.


"I believe that I have touched Saidin, Dedicated."

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OOC: Excellent. Thumbs ups all around! *Distributes the thumbs in upward positions.*




"Yes, I believe you have." Baran said dryly, nodding slowly. In truth he had felt the exact moment the other man had Seized Saidin. He wasn't sure if there wasn't something beautiful in seeing another person touch the One Power for the firs time or not. On one hand, the man had sentenced himself to a horrible, horrible death. On the other, he could do things, feel things now that most people could never imagine. He could still remember his first reaction to feeling the Taint. He had done almost exactly the same thing that Lir had done.


"The question is: Can you do it again? Will you be able to hold it longer? And the next time? And the next? You've only taken the first step towards becoming a contributing member of the Black Tower." Baran paused for a moment, wondering if perhaps he was being a little too hard on the fellow. "But it IS a step." He clasped his hands behind his back again and stared thoughtfully at Lir before speaking again.


"If you think you are able, I want you to try to take hold of Saidin again. If you can, I want you to hold onto it for as long as you can. You will find that the more you practice with the Power, the more you are able to do with it." He glanced at the other man's sword. "Like working the forms with the sword"


Baran looked in the direction he felt other men channeling, on the other side of a nearby hill. They were close enough, for now. No need to try to get the Soldier to Seize Saidin and walk at the same time just yet. He looked up at the sun, now just starting to rise above the horizon. Hopefully they would be able to finish this up before he ended up with the light in his eyes.


"Don't worry if it takes too long. The first times are always the hardest." He wasn't sure why he felt he needed to say it again. Maybe it was because the other man seemed worried about wasting time, or maybe it was because he felt that people did better work when it wasn't rushed. No need to put the other man completely at ease, though. "The only time you'll need to start worrying is if you stop trying." The grin he offered was a bit cold, but warmer than Skechid's had been back when Baran was learning to channel.

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Lir was glad to see that his demeanor at least had pleased the dedicated. He had learned early on during his studies of military life that a man's countenance was just as important as his actions. Artur Hawking himself had said 'Defeat never comes to any man until he admits it.


His brief encounter with Saidin had been terrifying and exhilerating all at once. Just that one touch had erased the hours of frustration he had built up while trying to seize it. Though he was terrified still, he could not wait for the next opportunity. He did not really dwell on certainty of looming death and madness for in times such as these who could hope to avoid such. When the drums of war beat out the marches of the Last Battle no farmer, no goodwife would be safe in any corner of the land. And if the light were to fall to shadow, well madness would be a far better fate. Now that he knew he could do it, he felt such a relief, almost as if a weight were taken off of his shoulders.


Baran spoke to him in way that was almost comforting, and Lir wondered if there was something like a bond of brotherhood that could only be realized after proving that he could touch the source. Perhaps he was reading too much into things again, always a fault of his. The dedicated commanded him to hold onto the source for longer this time, and Lir was as determined as ever to really get it right this time.


“Until I lie dead, I will never cease trying, dedicated”


He had to work very hard to assume the void once more. His emotions were a tangled mess, and a wind had picked up cutting through the black wool of his coat and distracting him. Finaly he was able to form the flame and feed his feelings into it. The void curled around him protectively and Saidin sang to him. I'll get you this time, burn me if I wont. Confidently he reached out to seize Saidin, and it slipped away from him. He nearly growled, and tried again. And again. Light but it was just like the first time, he kept getting so agonizingly close only to fail. Maybe this was what put all the Asha'man in a bad mood. He had lost the void by this point and had to start over from the beginning.


Grim purpose showed on his face, concentration to complete a task that he knew he could do. He reached for it, and Saidin almost rushed to meet him. He was unprepared for sucsess, and the first avalanche of life bringing power nearly washed his soul away. He got a grip on himself and began to fight back against the scouring force. His mouth curled in distaste as he pushed all thoughts of the taint to the back of his mind. He opened his eyes and really took in the beauty of creation. He could feel the sharp wind moving across his body, and feel the individual pebbles beneath his boots. As usual, one hand rested on the hilt of his sword, and the suede leather there was a symphony of texture against his palm. It was more than worth the walk across a razor's edge that was holding the True Source.


It was so tempting to pull it into himself, and he found that he just could not resist that temptation. He drew more deeply of Saidin, and it came willingly. His senses were on fire, and his soul was alive with the pure potential of the power that he held, he drew more and began to feel pain. He was full to the bursting and yet he could not stop himself, he was caught up in the lust for it. He began to panic, he'd heard stories of men killing themselves with the Power, and he tried to let it go but found that he could not. Frantically he grasped for the power with his will and push it out and away from himself. The next thing he knew was that a terrible heat engulfed his body, and the void crashed around, and Saidin fled.


His world flared with pain when the void left, and he could smell burned flesh, his own burned flesh. There was a long burn down his right arm, as if he'd stuck it into a fire, the coat was still smoldering. Lir grit his teeth, he would not scream but could not completely hold back a moan as he pulled himself to his feet. Stars blocked much of his vision, and he was nearly as nauseus as the first time he touched the power.


“I apologize once again dedicated.” Lir hung his head, light but it had felt amazing until the end.

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"Light!" Baran swore as he felt the amount of the Power Lir was handling, far more than any Soldier should have been safely able to unaided. He Seized Saidin again and wove a Shield. Before he could throw it between Lir and the True Source, however, the young man had already let go and sunk to the ground, smoke rising from his body. Baran Shielded him anyway, just in case the fool kept trying. Having his first student die would be just what he needed. He would never be allowed to teach again. He wanted to punch the Light-Blinded idiot in the mouth, but given his current state, it would probably be a bad idea.


He grabbed the Andoran's head instead, holding it between his hands. He wove Spirit the way he had seen the men in the Healer's Tents use it. Delving, it was called. Unfortunately, he didn't really have the training to know exactly what the weave told him. He knew it probably wasn't good, though. He let go of the fellow's head and stepped back, releasing the Source and looking him over. Part of him wanted to keep going with the lesson no matter what the man's arm looked like. He was only a Dedicated though, and that was more an action for a full Asha'man, or maybe a Storm Leader.


"What possessed you to-" Baran paused, collecting his thoughts. It would do no good to let his anger get the best of him. "I hope you will learn from this experience. You are lucky to be alive, much less still able to channel." Light, could he still channel? What if the goat-brain had managed to burn himself out? "Never draw more of the One Power than you can handle, and never, ever try to push past that pain. Mother's milk in a cup, I told you to try for length, not-" He stopped again, mastering his emotions.


"Go get yourself Healed and then report back here." Baran said, his voice tight with suppressed anger and the fear it masked. He pointed back the way they came, out of the Training Field.


"And Soldier? Move quickly."




Baran spent the time waiting for Lir to return getting himself under control, eventually mastering himself to the point where he could form the Void and Seize Saidin. Anger still raged outside the Void, just as Saidin raged within it. Baran took it out on the ground nearby, weaving Earth and Fire until he was virtually surrounded by craters. With a deep breath, Baran let go of the Power, pushing it away until he could no longer hear it's call. Unfortunately, he was still angry.


“Bloody, goat-brained fool.” He mumbled as he turned around to see if the Soldier had returned.

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Lir was not thrilled that Baran had sent him off to be healed. Sure his arm was pretty badly burned, but he had a feeling that healing was not all that he'd receive. He made his way across the grounds until he came to the place that functioned as an hospital. Along the way he was able to once more achieve the void, which was nice because it pushed away the pain from his arm, made it periphery. He breathed out a long sigh, he had not let himself contemplate the fear that he'd felt of losing his connection to Saidin. It was still there calling to him.


The Asha'man on duty was an older fellow named Hardin, and he was not impressed in the slightest to Lir come walking in with a half burned coat.


"Out with it boy, what mule brained accident caused this?" He gestured sharply at a table and began to strip off Lir's coat. "Try to put out a bonfire? Or start one?"


Hesitantly Lir recounted the tale, and Hardin's wizened face took on a grave cast. "Forget mule brained, your bloody lucky not to have taken that dedicated out with you. I want you back here before dawn every morning this week" He kicked the chamberpot under the table, "Every inch of this place will be clean before the sunrises do you understand soldier?"


"Yes Asha'man Hardin" Lir saluted and winced with pain.


Hardin grabbed him with both hands, one to either side of Lir's head, and Lir could almost swear that he sensed something change about the old grump. Then power surged through him, and his flesh began to knit together, Lir gasped and writhed beneath Hardin's touch, but the gnarled old hands were strong enough to keep him in place. When it was through Lir felt as if he had run thirty laps around the farm. He stretched his arm out, marveling at the lack of a wound, and when he stood he almost fell down again. There was no pain in his hip, the nagging not quite healed injury from the trolloc scythe was completely healed.


"Thank you Asha'man."


"More than you deserve you young idiot. Go finish your class and quit wasting the time of those more important than yourself."


Lir saluted and returned to the practice yard at a run, his torn and burned coat fluttering behind him. Light but it felt good to really run, run without pain. When he saw Baran waiting for him, and the state of the ground around the angry looking young man, the smile ran away from his face.


"I'm ready to finish the lesson dedicated."

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"Oh, are you?" Baran affected a surprised tone, his voice rising slightly in pitch. His face, however, he forced to smoothness. If this was all it took to break his self-control, he would have to work to remedy the weakness. He had to be harder than that, had to remember that Soldiers were tools, means to an end. In this case, as he hoped would be in most cases, that meant they had to stay alive. He glanced at Lir's arm. "Well, I see you've been Healed. No problems there, I hope? How about your head? Not in a hurry to try drawing too much of the Power again?" He formed the Void, and his voice grew colder, emotionless. "Follow me."


Baran strode quickly towards the hill he had felt the men channeling behind earlier. They were still there, them or others like them, at least. His pace quickly took him up the side of the hill, managing to avoid rocks hidden by a thin layer of snow not by any trick of the Power, but by experience born of walking uphill in the dark of the mines. He stopped his march just before the hill crested and turned back to Lir. "There are men filled with the Power on the other side of this hill. You probably won't feel them yet, since today is your first day of channeling. That doesn't mean you can't learn something of the Power from watching them, though. You see, every weave of the Power can be rendered down to five individual components. Fire, Earth, Air, Water, and Spirit." Baran recited, ticking the elements off on his fingers as he spoke their names. "Men can see the weaves of other men, can see how the weaves are made. Women can't see what we do, though we can't see what they do, either, so I suppose it balances out in the end."


He pointed over the crest of the hill. "When we go over that hill, I want you to Seize Saidin again - just a trickle, mind you - and see if you can't make out the elements being used. Just the elements. The weaves we'll deal with later." Finished with his short lecture, Baran strode to the top of the hill and looked down on the men channeling. Another class of Soldiers, good. Nothing too complicated for another Soldier to have to try to puzzle out.

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