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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
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Christine

A Day at the Beach

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Knock Knock Knock "Michelle, will you please come out? I promise no one else is here." Knock Knock Knock "Come on, your food is getting cold!"

 

Michelle buried her face into her pillow again, wishing that Arath would just leave her alone. She didn't want to eat. She just wanted sleep. Lots and lots of sleep. It had been 5 days since the attack in the woods, and she was still not leaving the house. She wouldn't even leave her room if Arath wasn't there, and if someone else was in the house, she just laid there and cried. She didn't want to be vulnerable again, and the only safe place was at Arath's side and in her room... she hoped.

 

Knock Knock Knock

 

She jumped out of the bed and went to open it, a startled Arath on the other side holding a plate. It smelled like a wonderful breakfast from Covai's inn, and she felt her stomach rumble. Although she wouldn't admit it, she was absolutely starving, and needed a good meal. Arath had attempted something, and she was certain her kitchen was destroyed, so she had been eating very little, save what he brought from the inn.

 

She took the plate, and stared at him for a moment. His eyes were at her chest, staring at the chain around her neck. He had made it for her the day after the attack, a simple silver chain to match the ring that she wouldn't wear. She noticed that his matching ring was still on his finger, and she almost went to play with the ring at her neck. It had become a habit, and she couldn't stop thinking about how it had felt, feeling him through the bond of the ring. She had only tried it on the one time, and had no plans of doing it again anytime soon, but she couldn't stop thinking about it.

 

What if she was wearing it while they shared a laugh? Or perhaps when she gave him a warm smile? What if she was wearing the ring when he visited a city, and happened to see a beautiful woman? What if she was wearing it and he was injured while practicing? The what ifs were a mile long, and she wasn't ready to handle his emotions if they didn't match hers... Especially when she had no idea what her emotions were to begin with.

 

"Thank you," she whispered, and took a step into the hallway and looked back and forth. Tai's door looked to be closed, and she heard no noise from it, meaning he wasn't home. Taking a few steps back into her room, she set the plate down on her bedside table and laid back down in the bed and curled up under her blanket. Arath took two steps inside, and she shifted in the bed to be sitting up slightly, and they looked at each other for a second.

 

Arath looked ready to go into the training yard, and she had to hold back tears. All he had seemed to do since the attack was work and work and work. She had spent the past few days sewing and reading books from his collection. It made the days drag even longer, and she wished he could just spend the day with her. He should spend the day with her. The Farm wouldn't crumble without him for a day, or even just a morning, and they could Travel back quickly should anything happen. She didn't know quite how she felt about Traveling again, as she didn't want to feel the One Power around herself, but Traveling was somehow different.

 

Arath looked as though he was going to leave and head to work, but Michelle couldn't spend another day locked up in the room. Jumping up from the bed, she rushed to him, and as he turned around to face her, she wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him, burying her face against his chest. "Please, don't go Arath. I am going insane inside this house. Spend the day with me, please."

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So far, this day was looking very much like the last few since the attack. Michelle was being stubborn about everything, not leaving the house at all, not leaving her room unless Arath was there ... and not even that when Tai or Aria was around. Things felt ... tense. There was no other word for it. And it was beginning to wear on Arath. Despite all his best efforts, nothing seemed to help the situation. In fact he might have said that things were getting worse.

 

He was about to give up on breakfast, again, when Michelle's door flung open. Even though she still wasn't wearing the ring, it was plainly obvious that she was starving, between the look she gave the plate and the noises her stomach made. But she simply put the plate on her desk and returned to her bed. The same as she did every time. Stubborn ...

 

After it looked as though she was going to ignore him again, Arath turned with a sigh to make his way back downstairs. As he stepped through her door, a small sound made him turn around, just in time to be tackled in a crushing hug. "Please, don't go Arath. I am going insane inside this house. Spend the day with me, please."

 

Arath didn't say anything for a moment, simply returning the hug. That was a pleasant change at least. And it so happened that he'd been thinking about the same thing the night before. She needed to get out. Away from the house, and away from the Farm. Where to go was a bit of a challenge in the middle of the winter, but surprisingly, help had come from the most unlikely of places on that account.

 

"I'll make you a deal," he said, breaking off the hug and looking down at his friend. "You, are going to sit down and eat that." He gestured to the plate of food on her desk. "All of it." She looked defiant for a moment but said nothing, waiting for the rest of it. "While you're busy with that, I'll go speak with Covai and inform him that I need a day off." That might be a little tricky, since Asha'man didn't get 'days off', but Covai was aware of the situation already, and was usually more accomodating. Usually. "However, if there's anything at all left on that plate..." Arath let the threat hang with a small smile. He doubted he'd need to worry about that.

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As Arath held her, Michelle warmed against him, smiling inwardly. There was nothing quite like the safety of his arms. She had never been all that close to anyone, and Arath had been the person she had hugged most in her life, but they often felt very tense, until recently. These hugs were a safety net, and a comfort. She hadn't been able to stop thinking about him holding her the other day, and now, feeling his strength around her again, she felt safe. Safer than she had been for the past few days.

 

Arath pulled back from her, and she inwardly sighed. She could have spent the whole day feeling that safe, and now, she just felt cold and alone. She felt the cold of the metal against her neck, and knew that was why she could never put the ring on. She could never let him know how afraid she was, and how safe she felt around him. "I'll make you a deal. You, are going to sit down and eat that."

 

Michelle turned back at the plate, and turned back to him, sighing. That was more than even Arath would eat in a normal day, how was she supposed to choke it down when she hadn't been eating much recently?! "All of it." Sighing, she nodded, knowing there was no fighting with him.

 

"While you're busy with that, I'll go speak with Covai and inform him that I need a day off. However, if there's anything at all left on that plate..." He gave her a smile, and it felt as though her whole morning was brightened. There hadn't been a whole lot of smiling in the past few days, and she returned a small smile.

 

"A whole day off with me? Just you and me?" He agreed to a day of just the two of them, and then left to go talk to Covai. She watched him walk down the stairs, and then quickly shut her door and locked it. Once she heard him leave the house, she returned to her night table, and began to eat. It tasted so good, especcially compared to Arath's cooking, and her stomach felt stuffed by the time she was done. She had scarfed it all down in a matter of minutes, and now she just had to wait for Arath.

 

Given that it would take him a few minutes to come back from Covai's, she slipped out of her night dress and robe. Glancing into her wardrobe, she pulled out a simple blue dress that she had had back in Caemlyn. It had been her one nice dress, and she hadn't worn it often, although it was rather simple. A Caemlyn cut, she hoped to look somewhat nice that day, instead of looking as depressed as she felt. Glancing in her mirror, she saw that her eyes were red and puffy, and she attempted to wash them with the cold water that was in the wash basin. Her hair she brushed back quickly, and then sat to await for his return. She noticed in the mirror the ring around her neck, and she fingered it again for a moment, thinking about putting it on.

 

Hearing the door to the house open up again, Michelle went to her door, and unlocked it and peeked out. She saw Arath coming up the stairs, and opened the door all the way, and gave him a small smile. He was actually going to spend the whole day with her... It was what she needed more than anything. Looking down at her dress, she gave him another smile as he came closer. "So? Are you going to spend the day with me?"

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Things with the Storm Leader went a lot more smoothly than Arath could have hoped for. He'd been all but banished from the Farm for 'however long he needed'. It certainly paid to have friends in high places.

 

Making his way back to the house, Arath went over the plan in his mind. Not that there was much to it ... there were simply a few things to remember. The location that had been described to him to travel to by Tai was clear in his mind, as well as suggestions for other locations to visit. The biggest feature of the day was the total lack of planning. Being able to do whatever sounded interesting at the moment ... that was nice. Hopefully Michelle would agree.

 

Climbing up the stairs again, Arath heard Michelle open the door and saw her peek around the corner. "So? Are you going to spend the day with me?"

 

Arath shrugged. "Depends on how long you can stand me. Covai basically told me to come back when I wanted to. Don't think I want to push that limit, but ... we have at least a day."

 

"So ... I don't suppose you've ever been to Mayene before?"

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As Arath finished coming up the stairs, he shrugged. It didn't look as though he noticed her dress... She looked away from him so he wouldn't see her wince, and knew it was a stupid idea to hope that he would think her perhaps pretty. They had known each other far too long for her to expect him to notice she tried to clean herself up just because he was going to be spending a day around her. "Depends on how long you can stand me. Covai basically told me to come back when I wanted to. Don't think I want to push that limit, but ... we have at least a day." As long as they needed? May the Light bless Covai, he was such a good man to them both. She thanked the Creator that they would be given some time for him to be with her, and she immediately felt safer.

 

"So ... I don't suppose you've ever been to Mayene before?"

 

Raising an eyebrow, Michelle walked back into her room and went to pick up one of the books on her desk. She didn't know Geography and the countries as well as she should, and knew that over the past few days of reading, she had come across that name. Opening up one of the books, she saw it on a map, down in the south east. "Mayene?" she asked. "Do you mean down by the Sea of Storms? Like the country with acres of water?" She felt herself starting to get excited. The most water in one place she had ever seen was rivers which, while impressive, wasn't fields of water. "Are we going to see water?"

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Arath nodded. "I would imagine so. I've heard that even the land around Mayene is watery ... they call it the Drowned Lands or some such thing. Swamps I suppose, but mostly to the north. But yes. Lots of water."

 

Arath appraised Michelle quickly, noting that she'd managed to clean herself up very quickly. She looked quite nice, though he tried to keep his looks discreet. In light of her recent troubles, he doubted she would appreciate any such attention. "Are you ready to go then? We shouldn't really need anything." Walking quickly to his own room, Arath shucked off his black Asha'man coat and grabbed a more casual one. It felt strange. He rarely wore anything else anymore.

 

Heading back out to the hallway, he gave Michelle a smile and led her downstairs to the Travelling room. Siezing Saidin, he slowly and carefully began to weave, holding the image of the destination firmly in his mind. Light send the description was accurate enough. Otherwise this wouldn't work. As the last thread fell into place, the familiar blue line split the air, and the square portal rotated open to a sandy beach which looked far more inviting than the frigid snow drifts of Andor. With a grin, he waved Michelle through, quickly following behind her. Light willing, everything would go well.

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"I would imagine so. I've heard that even the land around Mayene is watery ... they call it the Drowned Lands or some such thing. Swamps I suppose, but mostly to the north. But yes. Lots of water." Michelle was so excited. How had he remembered that she wanted to see the Seas? She had only spoken of it on one or two occasions, and yet here he was, three years later, taking her to see the open water. It was almost too good to be true! "Are you ready to go then? We shouldn't really need anything."

 

Stepping back into her room, Michelle slipped into slippers that were easy to pull on and off. She wanted to be able to feel the ground beneath her feet. Mayene would be to the South, which hopefully meant at least slightly warmer weather. Perhaps she could even stick her feet in, although swimming at all would have to wait for another time. It was like a dream come true!

 

As Arath came back down the hallway, she noticed he wasn't wearing the black coat that he always wore. Somehow, he looked more natural and not so uptight. She liked the look, and thought to make a note of it the next time they should go somewhere and he went without the black coat. Giving him a smile, they walked downstairs into the Traveling room. Giving Arath a nod that she was ready, she watched as the line appeared in the air, and she stepped through, excited to see the beach.

 

What she saw, she was unprepared for. It was beautiful. There was a bright blue sky overhead, as though it was spring, and the sun was out, shining. There were a few clouds in the sky, and it looked as though darker ones were coming, but that wouldn't ruin her day. She turned to Arath laughing and smiling, and immediately slipped her slippers off, wanting to run down to the water. It looked endless. Taking a few steps, she noticed the ground beneath her feet. It was so much thinner than the dirt and almost felt like her feet were sitting in dry mud. It felt glorious, and she noticed the expanse of yellow whitish ground around her. Sand, it was called.

 

Excited, she continued down to the water, and stuck a toe in to an incoming wave. It was cold, but she didn't care. It was beautiful. Michelle turned back to Arath, smiling and laughing, and ran back to him as he walked down to her. Giving him a hug, she held him tightly. "Thank you Arath. I don't know how you remembered, but it's beautiful!" Light, his hug was so warm.

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"You'd be surprised at some of the things I remember," Arath said with a shrug. And so would he apparently. He had no idea what she was talking about. Oh well. Returning the hug, Arath led the way back toward the water. Pulling his boots off, Arath took a step into the water, narrowly avoiding a shiver. The sea water was far colder than he would have expected from the warmth in the air. But it wouldn't remain that way for long.

 

Seizing Saidin again, Arath wove thick cables of fire, threaded through with spirit, and dropped the weave into the sea. The water immediately began to heat up, the bitter cold subsiding enough for the water to be tolerable. It was a difficult weave to get correct. Too much fire and the water might boil or flash into steam. Too little and the tides would overcome the heat entirely. It was a balance, like so many other other things about the Power.

 

It didn't take long before Michelle joined him in the water, seemingly delighted with the temperature change. "I'm glad to see you enjoying yourself," he said, kicking at a small wave that swirled up around their ankles. "Glad to be away from the Farm I take it?"

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"You'd be surprised at some of the things I remember," Arath was full of surprises today. Smiling up at him, she dropped her eyes and ran back to pick up her slippers. Turning back to the water, she saw his boots off as well and his feet in the water. Dropping her slippers beside his boots, she took another step into the water, and realized that this time, it was a little warmer. Arath had channeled... but she was strangely ok with it. He hadn't channeled onto her, and she was simply enjoying the result of his channeling.

 

"I'm glad to see you enjoying yourself. Glad to be away from the Farm I take it?" Arath was kicking at the waves, and Michelle pulled her skirts up slightly above her ankles to keep them getting much wetter. The water swirled around her feet, and she wished that she could become a fish and swim away. Life was so confusing, so upsetting, so trying... And still, at the end of the day, she would have to return to the Farm.

 

"I am enjoying myself," she said softly. Linking her arm through his, she rested her head on his shoulder for a moment, watching as the waves rolled in. "I just don't feel safe at the farm anymore." The ring suddenly felt very cold against her chest, and she remembered what Arath had said about feeling a Bond through it. Looking down at his hand, she noticed that he was still wearing his ring. The feeling she had felt when she had slid it on... could Michelle handle letting him feel her emotions in moments like this, when she was so happy and so comfortable with him? And could she handle the bad feelings as well?

 

A large wave rolled up and splashed them both, and Michelle gave up on holding her skirts up. Arath would just have to dry them later. That would be another bit of channeling around her, but she had to get used to it. Her best friend was a man that could channel. There was good and bad with that, and she would just have to take them both in stride.

 

Laughing as another large wave hit their legs, Michelle turned to see a large group of white birds pecking near the water's edge a few paces away. Dropping Arath's arms and picking up her skirts, she chased after them. The all flew up in a group, and she chased them for a moment before laughing and watching them fly away. Perhaps she would prefer to be a bird. To feel freedom to just fly away from any problems.

 

"Arath, you don't blame me for what happened, do you? Do you blame me for being so scared?"

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Glad that she was enjoying herself some, Arath followed Michelle down the beach as she chased birds of all things. "Arath, you don't blame me for what happened, do you? Do you blame me for being so scared?"

 

He frowned slightly. "Why would I blame you? What happened wasn't your fault, and I understand completely why you would be scared. I grew up with all the same stories that you did about male channelers. My first few days at the farm were terrifying. By the end of my first week, one of the other recruits I arrived with went mad ... he set another Soldier on fire ... he would have turned on me too if one of the Dedicated hadn't been quick to act. I could barely touch Saidin, let alone do anything with it. I wasn't able to defend myself at all ... completely helpless."

 

Realizing that this might not be the best conversation to be having, Arath tried to get to his point. "What I mean to say is that I understand how you feel. But trust me when I say that letting that fear paralyze you is worst thing that you could do. Refusing to live because of fear of what might happen ... how is that any better than dying?"

 

Looking back up the beach, Arath reached out with flows of air and picked up their discarded shoes. As they landed in a pile a bit closer to them, he turned his attention back to his friend. "I found that I had to just focus on the pleasant parts of life, not exactly ignoring the dangers, but not living as slave to them."

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Her back still to him, Michelle closed her eyes, feeling the wind blow around her as Arath spoke. "Why would I blame you? What happened wasn't your fault, and I understand completely why you would be scared. I grew up with all the same stories that you did about male channelers. My first few days at the farm were terrifying. By the end of my first week, one of the other recruits I arrived with went mad ... he set another Soldier on fire ... he would have turned on me too if one of the Dedicated hadn't been quick to act. I could barely touch Saidin, let alone do anything with it. I wasn't able to defend myself at all ... completely helpless." Not exactly the most comforting thing in the world. If it wasn't even safe for those who had to be there, how would it ever be safe for her?

 

"What I mean to say is that I understand how you feel. But trust me when I say that letting that fear paralyze you is worst thing that you could do. Refusing to live because of fear of what might happen ... how is that any better than dying? I found that I had to just focus on the pleasant parts of life, not exactly ignoring the dangers, but not living as slave to them." Michelle nodded to herself, listening to his words. Would she rather have stayed in Caemlyn? It wasn't exactly safe there. She barely had a job, had no money, had no place to live, and the one thing she had left to give was something she was scared to give to anyone, let alone for money.

 

Michelle continued to slowly walk down the beach, her feet just barely caressed by the water, the hem of her dress gliding across the top. The Farm was by no means safe... but there, she had a home. She didn't have a job, but she didn't really need one. She didn't have money, but she didn't need that either. She could spend her days cooking what she wanted, and reading and learning whatever she chose. She could travel the land and go to any city, try any food. She could start a garden, or begin sewing again. And at the farm, she had Arath. Arath...

 

She reached up to caress the ring again. It suddenly felt very cold against her skin, and Michelle realized that it was because she felt so hot. Could she honestly leave Arath? Was it possible for her fear to drive her away from her friend... her best friend? She toyed with the ring for another few seconds, wondering what she would feel if she slid it on. Was he deep in thought too, and was he thinking about her? If she was already going to be surrounded by channeling men, would it be so bad to wear a ring that would in essence save her? No, it wouldn't be.

 

Michelle looked down at the ring, ready to slide it back on, to feel what Arath felt. It was halfway onto her finger, when she noticed something sparkling in the sand at her feet. The wave was currently rolling out and she reached down quickly to grab whatever the shiny thing was before it was carried out to see. Bringing her hand back up, she searched through the pile of sand to see a small but bright stone. It was a beautiful blue, almost the color of her eyes, if she could trust a mirror. Carefully trying to get all of the sand from her hand without losing the stone, she turned back to Arath, who had been following her.

 

"Look Arath! Isn't it beautiful? What would it be doing out here in the sand?"

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A little concerned that he may have just upset her more, Arath followed slowly behind Michelle, far enough away to give her her space, close enough that his water warming weave would still work for her. She walked in silence along the waters edge, until suddenly she stooped down to scoop something up from the sand.

 

"Look Arath! Isn't it beautiful? What would it be doing out here in the sand?"

 

Curious as to what would have distracted her so much, Arath quickly closed the distance to examine the object. It was dirty, covered in gritty sand that stuck to much of it's surface, but from what he could see the stone was a deep blue color. Using weaves of water and air, Arath pulled a small globe of sea water from the swells at their feet and raised it in the air between them. At his urging, Michelle hesitantly pushed her stone into the water, where Arath began to swish and swirl it around. A moment later he released the water, letting if fall away with most of the sand and leaving the shiny stone suspended in the air.

 

"A sapphire ..." he remarked with surprise. "Tai mentioned that raw gemstones sometimes wash up on Mayene's beaches, but I wasn't sure I believed him. I certainly didn't think they'd be so large." Releasing his air weave, Arath let the stone drop down into his hand and turned it back over to Michelle. "Quite the find there ... what do you plan on doing with it?"

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Arath quickly came to stand before her, and Michelle held out her hand, showing her little treasure. Perhaps she could get it made to go into a necklace? Of course, she already had a necklace. Well, a ring on a chain around her neck. It was pretty though, and she was excited to have actually found something of value. Arath made a bubble of water in front of her, and she almost jumped back to scream. Realizing it was stupid and that it was only a ball of water, she pushed the stone into it, watching as the sand cleaned off. It was so beautiful, the way that the sun reflected in the stone.

 

"A sapphire... Tai mentioned that raw gemstones sometimes wash up on Mayene's beaches, but I wasn't sure I believed him. I certainly didn't think they'd be so large." Giggling, Michelle watched as it suspended in the air, before being dropped into his hand and then into hers. She couldn't believe she was so lucky, and all because of Arath... and in a small way Tai. "Quite the find there ... what do you plan on doing with it?"

 

Looking at the jewel for a moment, she had to think about it. She had no money to get it put into any sort of setting, and besides, she already had a chain with the ring on it. If she started wearing the ring, she could get the jewel put into a setting and hang it from the chain she already wore. But that would mean she would actually have to wear the ring. She could always wear both the ring and the jewel on the necklace together... The jewel was so beautiful, but she should just sell it. She had never had anything worth so much, and she didn't really need such a thing. She could pay Arath back for all he had done for her, and all the money he had spent on her.

 

Turning back to Arath, she held the stone out to him. "It's yours," she said simply, offering it to him. "As payment for all you have done for me. I know I have hurt at least one of your coin purses, and I don't have any use for jewelry as it is. Sell it or whatever, but it's yours as repayment."

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Arath looked at the offered gemstone with a frown. "You've not been that big of a burden. I really don't think that ..." he trailed off at the look Michelle was giving him. There was no way for him to win this, he could already tell. The best thing to do was shut up and do as she said. Taking the offered stone, he stuffed it into his belt pouch with a sigh. Well ... she couldn't very well complain about what he might plan to do with the stone. This was definitely not the last she would ever see of it. "Fine ... but if we find another one I'm making you keep it."

 

As it turned out, they didn't find any other gems washed up on the beach. There were a number of small glistening stones of different types and colors, but nothing that was quite gemstone quality. Frankly, Arath wondered how the sapphire had managed to find it's way there in the first place. Still, it was a strangely enjoyable activity to pass the time, combing the beach for the hint of any exciting treasures. A chill breeze picked up after a short while, and Arath resorted to Saidin once again to keep them both comfortable. A complex barrier of air and fire shielded them from the wind, while warming the air in a bubble around them. It made the day almost seem like late spring.

 

After another hour or so of beach hunting and pleasant conversation, Arath decided it was time for a change of pace. "So," he said, turning to face Michelle, "what do you feel like doing next? We still have a lot of time to do whatever you'd like. I don't suppose you're hungry yet?"

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"You've not been that big of a burden. I really don't think that ..." Michelle stared at him for a moment, wondering why he wouldn't just take it. Arath of 3 years before would have taken it gladly... Light they were so different. And she probably would have never given it up, even though she couldn't have put it into anything. "Fine ... but if we find another one I'm making you keep it." Arath gave up rather easily, but Michelle wasn't worried about it. He could do with it what he would, but she had repaid her debt.

 

Continuing walking down the beach, Michelle kept looking back and forth between the endless water, the endless beach, and the beautiful sky. Living in the city for so long, there was always street lamps and torches keeping the area lit enough that she couldn't see the stars so well. Since arriving at the farm, it was always too cold to be outside, so she was often rushing far too much to really stare at the sky. Staring at the sky now, she could almost still see the faintness of the moon, and the stars... It reminded her of the trip from Lugard to Caemlyn. So many times she had stared at the night sky... it was a companion she had indeed missed. She would have to ask Arath if they could go camping or just sleep outside, or even on the roof a few times when it was warmer out.

 

Walking beside Arath, she got lost in conversation, just enjoying the day. They had walked what had seemed for miles before he brought up the rest of their day. "So, what do you feel like doing next? We still have a lot of time to do whatever you'd like. I don't suppose you're hungry yet?" Her stomach rumbled at the idea of food, and she smiled, patting it gently. She was going to say they go back to the farm and get something from the inn, but she remembered that Arath had mentioned a place with wonderful hot meat and vegetable dishes. He even said something was weird about the way they ate.

 

"Let's go for a change of pace," she said, thinking about this random country. "You mentioned Arad Doman the other day... Can we go there and try something new to eat? Nothing against stew and bread, but I would love to try something different." Thinking about the rest of the day, and knowing she was feeling weary already from the walking, she spoke up again, saying, "Afterwards, let's just go back to the Farm and do something relaxing... spend more time together I guess." The ring felt cold again, but Michelle ignored it.

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Arad Doman.  For someone who didn't like the One Power much, Michelle was certainly going to take full advantage of it.  Who else in the world would be able to take a stroll on a beach in Mayene, and then go to dinner on the opposite end of the world?  Not that Arath was going to object.  Her fear of the Power was understandable given what she'd been through, but she needed to get used to it.  Saidin was a part of him and what he did.  There was no avoiding it.

 

"Arad Doman sounds great," he said with a smile.  "I know a great place just a little outside Bandar Eban.  Covai and I stopped there a while ago, on a quest to improve the food at the inn.  We couldn't persuade any of the cooking staff to come back with us, but Covai likes to make attempts every few weeks."  Indeed, Covai was beginning to annoy Mistress Bidawa with his repeated efforts to acquire a Domani cook.  "Then after dinner, we can go back to the Farm," he agreed.  "Whatever you want to do together."

 

He held out a hand to Michelle and drew her away from the water's edge.  Releasing his heating weave, the Asha'man wove spirit into a complex travelling weave.  The familiar silvery blue flash split the air in front of them, rotating open into utter darkness.  They'd wandered too far from the place where they had arrived, and he didn't know this area well enough to Travel directly to Arad Doman, so Skimming would have to do.  He could feel Michelle's hesitance to step through the gateway.  She had travelled like this before, but in her rush of emotions at reuniting with Arath for the first time in years, and the prospect of escape from her horrible situation, she had been willing to go along with just about anything.  This time she had a chance to think it through.  Gently pulling her to the gateway, Arath concentrated for a moment, forming the platform on the other side.  A soft, sandy surface, not unlike the one they currently stood on, materialized in front of them.  After a quick weave of air recovered their shoes from the beach, Arath gently pulled his friend through the gateway, letting it snap shut behind them.  Immediately he felt the vague sense of motion as the sandy platform moved through the void.  Given the distance, this trip might take a while.  .

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