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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

All in a Day's Work.


Grimmlocke
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Baran sighed and looked up at stacks of raw material he had to sift through. It was a task that might have been a bit more intimidating back when he had been a Soldier, back when he was still learning to use the One Power. The wood had been shipped in from the Braem wood, just north of the Black Tower. The stones...well, the stones hadn't needed to be shipped in. Those were easy enough to find, though Baran had to marvel at the amount of boulders the Asha'man managed to unearth. Some of them reminded him of the rocks from back home. He had heard tales of a giant statue being unearthed near Cairhien. Maybe some of the boulders were sold off from that project. He smiled wryly and shook his head. No, not that possible. It would make more sense for the Tower to use local stone. It was free, and so was the labor. Still the pile would take some time to get through, especially because he wasn't sure how he was going to turn them all into blocks for use in the walls.

 

The wood pile would be a bit more easy. He just had to make beams out of the giant tree trunks. Beams of varying lengths, to be sure, but it nothing too difficult. Razors of Air would do for most of those. The only hard part would be making sure none of them were too damaged for use in whatever projects they were being allocated to. He had been given a small corner of the practice yards to work in, so he didn't even have to worry about Soldiers and townsfolk scurrying about underfoot. He unbuttoned his coat and tossed it down next to his sword and sheath. He was going to work up a sweat in this task, and in his opinion, it was far easier to get mud out of the coat's wool than the stink of sweat. As to the sword, he wouldn't need it for this work.

 

As he got to work, Baran had to wonder if he was being punished for something. Such massive piles weren't exactly common in the Black Tower, what with having plenty of Soldiers to do the work usually. Unless they had lost more Soldiers to burnout and death than usual, there was no reason for a Dedicated to have to do this kind of job. He didn't mind the work itself, it was easy enough, but the connotations that went along with having to do it. It was beneath him, wasn't it? He hadn't seen many Dedicated other than him doing this kind of work. Most of them worked more in a supervisory role than as laborers. Another wry grin crossed his face. No matter how far he got from home, he always seemed to be thrust into the same role.

 

Lifting things with the Power had gotten much easier soon after his promotion. That didn't mean that lifting the tree trunks was exactly easy, though. They were large, larger than the small logs and rocks he was used to moving around. The first one he moved made him break out in a sweat, and he was already straining halfway through the large pile. He continued though, glad he had taken his coat off. Maybe he should have removed his shirt, as well. He could feel the dampness spreading down the front, back, and sides as he continued to lift and cut logs. Flows of Air swept down the center of the trunks first, separating them into halves, then quarters as the same flows of Air and reversed direction. Flows of fire burned the bark off what had been the outer shell of the tree, leaving the wood beneath only slightly browned. As much as he wanted to guess at the length, he had to measure and mark the cutting points when cutting the massive beams into smaller planks and even logs for fires. The last he didn't worry so much about burning. A little fire damage would just make them easier to light later. The stack of firewood was by far the largest. It was a cold winter, as though the weather was making up for the long, hot summer by making it colder, faster than it had in...well, longer than he could remember, at least.

 

At last, he was done with the wood. He was drenched with sweat. His nose wrinkled at the smell before he realized what he was doing. When he did realize it, he almost laughed. He had spent almost his entire life in that smell, how was it that he even smelled it anymore, much less find it unpleasant? The last thought made him chuckle, and he shook his head as he walked over to the pile of boulders.

 

It was even larger than he had thought, as were the boulders themselves. Yes, there had to be an Asha'man somewhere in the camp with reason enough to hate him. Or maybe whoever it was was starting to go insane from the Taint. Whatever the reason, he had been given an inordinately large amount of work to do by himself. He looked over his shoulder at the sun. It wasn't there. He looked up, surprised. The sun had already hit it's zenith and was beginning to arc back down towards the horizon. Where had the time gone? He channeled again, Earth this time, and pulled a boulder down from the pile. As it bounded towards him, he channeled Earth again, causing the rounded stone bounding towards him to split in two, falling to the ground in pieces well short of where he was standing. Baran, starting to get an idea as to how he was going to complete his task, continued weaving Earth. It was one of his strongest elements, so the work went much faster than the wood had gone. He continued to weave, the flows almost dancing around the boulders. Large stone blocks almost seemed to drip off the two halves of the boulder he had split. When he was done, he stacked the blocks of stone next to the beams and logs.

 

He turned back to the pile of boulders, smacking his lips in anticipation. His lips, he realized where dry, almost to the point of cracking. Surrounded by the Void, with Saidin coursing through him, his body often seemed distant, like the flesh of another man. Still, if he was thirsty, he needed to drink. The shaped a small cup from the scraps of the boulder he had just finished reducing to usable blocks. He wove again, Water this time, spiraling out into the air and down into his newly-made cup. The cup filled slowly, Water being one of his weakest elements. It made new beads of sweat pop out on his face, but it needed to be done. He actually had to stop a few times and toss back what he had to wet his throat before continuing. He had a full cup soon enough though, despite his best efforts to keep it empty. He drank until he couldn't take another sip, no use in having to do this again before he finished, and set the cup to the side. He would fuse it into another block soon enough.

 

Baran got back to work on the stones. The sun was definitely setting now, glaring down into his eyes enough to blind him. He put a hand up to shield his eyes and continued his work. He stopped pulling them down from the pile, just shaping them where they were and using some of the leftover stone to form a sloping slide, where the blocks soon started to jumble together in an uneven pile. Not all of the blocks made it all the way down the slope, though. Quite a few slipped from the sides, landing in giant squelching splashes of cold mud. Baran grimaced as mud spattered across the front of his shirt. He didn't relish the thought of the laundry he would have to do.

 

He continued to work, only stopping when he realized that he was squinting to see what he was doing. The sun had gone down, apparently. He channeled at the air overhead, Air and Fire twisted together to make floating Orbs of Light that glowed bright enough to let him see what he was doing.

 

The young Dedicated grimaced as he adjusted the slide. He had hoped to finish this work before supper. That time had obviously passed. The other Dedicated were probably gathered around the table at the Barracks, tearing hunks out of pieces of chicken and laughing about the work that “the boy” had to do. The irritation threatened to shatter the Void, fragile as it was from hours of concentration and work. He was quick to berate himself for his weakness. There were sure to be battles that lasted for days, and a fist of trollocs wasn't going to care if he had been channeling all day. With that in mind, Baran soldiered on.

 

Finally, finally, the stone rested in tall piles next to the wood. Reorganizing had actually been worse than making the blocks had been. His work done, Baran finally let go of Saidin. Without the Power filling him, Baran fell backwards into the mud. He could feel the mud seeping into his clothing, but it was cold enough that he didn't even care. After what seemed like a few minutes, but was probably more like an hour, Baran stood, caked in mud, and tucked his jacket and sword underneath his arm, stumbling out of the yard and towards the barracks. Light, he was tired. If there wasn't anything left to eat in the barracks, he would...would....well, he didn't exactly know what he would do, just that it would be unpleasant for the other Dedicated.

 

He soon reached the door to his barracks. He looked down at himself and grimaced. Better go and get himself clean. He had already taken a step when he realized he didn't need to trouble himself with washing. The drying weave was too much for him to handle in his current state, but what about weaving Earth in a similar fashion? He thought for a moment. It would look something like the Shaping weave, he supposed. He Seized Saidin again, gasping at the strength of it, at how weak he was. It was dangerous to channel as tired as he was, especially for something as menial as dealing with mud. Still, it would likely be just as tiring going and dunking himself in water, then drying himself. He would have to channel anyway, wouldn't he? Better to do it now, with an element he was stronger with.

 

The mud sloughed off him in thin sheets, plopping around him in what sounded and looked like piles of cow manure hitting the ground. His clothes were still wet, still brown in places where he wouldn't be able to get the mud out of the fabric until he could channel more effectively. Mud still squelched in his boots, but he didn't dare to channel any more. Not that he could, tired as he was. He let go of the power, leaning heavily against the side of the building to support himself for a moment before pushing off and stumbling to the door. He let himself in, stumbling more by memory than anything else to his bunk, offering mumbled apologies to the other Dedicated as he bumped into other bunks and tripped over boots tucked up next to the beds in question.

 

“Dholwin,are you drunk?” One of the other Dedicated asked incredulously, his voice still thick with sleep. “Oh no, you didn't do all that work in one day, did you?”

 

Baran blinked. Weariness had dulled his wits to the point of confusion. “What?”

 

A low chuckle rose out of the darkness. Apparently the talk had woken another Dedicated. “You didn't finish reading that letter with your orders, did you?”

 

Baran turned his head to face the other voice. Sounded like Rashma, though he wasn't sure. “No. Reading takes me too long, and I wanted to get the work out of the way.”

 

This time both voices laughed. “Baran, that work was supposed to take you the next two days. Remember, all the Soldiers are out learning formations.”

 

Baran gaped, the rare display of emotion ample evidence that he was both tired and forgetful. The other two laughed again before he felt one of them Seize Saidin. A simple weave of fire made a small flickering candle flame that danced on the fellow's palm. It was enough light to let Baran stumble the last few feet to his bed, where he allowed himself to fall. He was asleep before he even hit the thin mattress, his booted feet hanging off the edge of the bed, much to the amusement of his fellow Dedicated, who, after a few more chuckles, turned over and got back to their own slumber.

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