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A Promise Kept


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Shawn lay awake in bed staring into the darkness. The last week had seen more happen in his life than any since he'd come to the Tower to start his training. In just four days he'd become a Tower Guard, served his first day of duty, gone on a date, gotten in a fight, spent a night in the infirmary, and discovered a mutual love with his roommate and bedmate Deneira. It had been a hectic week that was sure, but yesterday he'd come to a few conclusions. The first was that he wanted to marry Dene, but that was quickly followed by a second, he was unworthy of her until he fulfilled three vows he'd made before coming to the Tower.


Today he would begin to set things in motion to see those vows fulfilled, or at least two of them. He knew he may never learn who his true family but he had vowed to his foster-father Uzziel that he'd finish his blacksmith training no matter what, and he'd vowed to himself to avenge Uzziel and Alexis's murders.


Shawn slipped out of bed and dressed as quickly and quietly as possible. He didn't want to wake Dene. He would tell her of his plans eventually but he decided to keep it to himself as long as possible so he could surprise her. With throwing knives on his biceps, swodrs on each hip, and his red cloak to mark his new status as a Tower Guard he was ready to head into town. He brushed a strand of hair from Dene's eyes and softly kissed her forehead. Then he wrote her a note to say he had errands to run in town and left the room.


Shawn met up with Dene for lunch and they talked of various things. He struggled to keep his actions errands of the morning to himself, but he wasn't sure if he'd succeeded. He hated keeping things from her but it was important. If she'd known he'd spent the day going to every inn and tavern in Tar Valon asking the owners to keep on the lookout for news of Ely, his fooster-parents' murderer, she'd think he was crazy and want to help. Deciding it would be easier to ask forgiveness than to involve her from the start he continued to keep her in the dark, no matter how much it hurt to do so.


After lunch Shawn made excuses, flimsy he feared, and left Dene to herself again. This time instead of going into town he made his way to the armoury. Inside he found several apprentices running errands and pumping bellows under the direction of the journeyman that were working the forges, but neither of the two Master blacksmiths were in sight. Shawn moved to the back and found Master Farrel working at an anvil while Master Thewen stood next to him, speaking in whispers to an apprentice to be heard over the noise.


"What do you need?" Master Farrel yelled to be heard, "I'll be with you in a second."


Shawn yelled as well, "That's alright, I'll wait. It looks to me that you only have about five minutes worth of work left to do on that peice and I can wait that long. Go ahead and finish up."


Just five minutes later Master Farrel was placing the sword in a bucket of water for smelting. "Alright, what do you need?"


"Oh, and how did you know how long he'd be? Not even any of our Journeyman could have guessed that." This from Master Thewen.


"Sir, Ma'am, the answer to both of those is nearly the same. I'm here because I would like to know if you two would help me finish my training as a blacksmith. I knew how much was left of that last project because I grew up in a forge. I finished my apprenticeship right before Uzziel, my Master and foster-father, was killed before my eyes. I am listed in the guild as a Journeyman but I would like to finsh what I started and earn the Master title. So, what do you say, will you help me?"


"Give us a minute to confer," Master Farrel replied. The two of them stepped aside and spoke in hushed tones Shawn couldn't quite make out.


They returned a few moments later and it was Master Thewen who gave their answer. "Personally, I feel that we have too much work to do and too many students already to take on even one more. However, Master Farrel has the seniority and he feels you may be worth taking on, with a few conditions. We won't be seen stealing Guards from their real work. Get permission from Commander Vedrig and the Master at Arms, and we'll finsih your training."


"Thank you. I planned to seek them out but wanted to talk to you first to know if you'd agree before I wasted their time. I'll see you tomorrow."


Shawn found Krelsa in his office poring over paperwork. Once he assured him that neither his duties as a Guard nor his weapons training would suffer he'd been granted the permission he needed and politely left the commander to his work.


One down, one to go. Shawn then went to the waterfall, where he knew Borac usually spent this part of the day meditating. He found the Master at Arms just as he was coming out from under the falls. "Sir, may I have a moment of your time?"


OOC: This is before Shawn starts his PoW training. Further posts will occur over the course of several years but this one is less than a week after his TG ceremony so he hadn't started training with Borac yet.

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The serenity of the valley wrapped Borac in its embrace as he cleansed his mind and soul. Afternoon sunlight beat down on his bare shoulders warming them as he entered a state of self awareness. Just as he was ending his daily ritual he heard the sound of someone approaching and opened his eyes.


Standing Borac gathered his things just as a young Tower Guard came into view and made his way over to where he stood and asked to speak to him.


“You have made the journey here young Shawn so please ask what you will.â€


Shawn spent several moments talking about his desire to be a blacksmith and finally asked for permission to study.


Borac could sense the passion in his voice and the gleam in his eye when he spoke of working metal.


With a smile the Master at Arms clapped him on the shoulder.


“You have my permission Shawn. Just do not neglect your other studies in this endeavor.â€

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The heat of the fire caused more sweat to run down his drenched head and shoulders. Unfortunately, this sweat ran right into Shawn’s eyes, causing him to squint in order to see into the flames. A few minutes longer and he’d be able to remove the lump of metal and add another layer onto it. This layering of thick and thin rods was what gave some blades the strength and flexibility they were known for, such as the two swords he carried. There was only one layer left to add before he’d start the shaping process that would make this odd-looking lump of metal into a katana.


When the metal reached the right temperature, as evidenced by the changes in color, Shawn used the nearby tongs to remove it from the embers and lay it on the forge. Just then an apprentice came running in, “Shawn, Shawn, Guard Deneria is on her way here with a trainee.†For the last eight months Shawn had been keeping his training at the forge a secret from the woman who shared his bed and his soul. It pained him to do so but he couldn’t bring himself to tell her until he’d finished. In the meantime the two Masters in charge of his training, along with his fellow journeyman and all of the apprentices, had agreed to help him keep his secret.


“Go, Shawn, I’ll add the next layer for you and keep it warm in the flames until you return.â€


“Thanks Gregor, do me a favor and send one of the boys to get me when she clears out? I’ll be swimming in the lake.â€


Handing the tongs over to the other journeyman Shawn slipped out the back just as he heard Dene’s voice in the armory. It had been close that time.


When Shawn returned he thanked Gregor again and pulled the long rod of steel from the fire. His thought wandered as he worked and he soon discovered that he had finished the katana sooner than he ever had before. As required for all journeyman he turned to present the finished sword to one of the two Masters before quenching it in the water barrel nearby. Master Farrel was the closest and it didn’t take long for his critical eye to assess the weapon. “That’s good work Shawn. Not quite Master level but it’s your best yet, and the first you’ve made that’s good enough for the armory instead of being sold on the street to the commoners. Which means I’ll let you complete the work instead of doing it myself.â€


“Thank you sir, but what do you mean complete the work? You just said it was finished.â€


“Aye boy, I did, but did you never notice that with all the ones you and the others make I add a little something extra before the final quenching?â€


Shawn grinned at the term ‘boy’. It didn’t matter that he was in his early twenties and a fully trained Tower Guard, Master Farrel called all that he trained ‘boy’ no matter how old they were. “Yes, I have noticed. Are you finally going to show me what you do to finish the job?â€


“It’s about time you learned, you’ve learned nearly everything else I have to teach. All you need now is practice and you’ll be ready to forge your Master piece in no time. Every weapon we make here has the symbol of the Tower etched onto it, usually on the shoulder of the blade or on the pommel. That’s the finishing work I’ve been doing on all the weapons you’ve made. In addition, any weapon I or Master Thewen make carries our own individual mark beside the Tower. That’s something you’ll want to think about for when the time comes. Now, use that stencil there to finish this sword and get back to work.â€


“Shawn, when you finish that rapier, come see me in my office.â€


In the past year or so, since Master Farrel had shown him how, Shawn had etched the mark of the Tower into more weapons than he could count. Now Master Thewen wanted him for something, but he couldn’t think what it could be. His work was improving steadily, and the apprentices assigned to him were well disciplined and learning at a faster rate than could normally be expected of them. If he didn’t spend as much time in the forge as the other journeyman, well he had guard duty and training to think of too-not to mention trying to nurture his relationship with Dene. But both the Masters had known that would be the situation when they agreed to take him on. Surely she couldn’t be calling him about that.


Foregoing the stencil this time, Shawn freehanded the Tower’s emblem onto the pommel of the rapier and slid it in to a barrel of water to set. Wiping his hands on his apron as he took it off he pulled his shirt on and went to the open door of Master Thewen’s office. Inside he found her standing by the window, looking out at the workshop and watching those in her charge make the weapons for the Tower. “You wanted to see me ma’am?â€


“Yes Shawn. Have you given any thought as to what you will use as your emblem when you reach the rank of Master?â€


Now why would she be asking him that? “Actually, I have. Remember when I told you that Uzziel and Alexis found me washed up on the shore near their house? Well I was wearing a shirt much too large for me—my father’s we all guessed—and that shirt had an emblem on it. Aside from my name it’s my only clue as to my family’s identity. It was a blue tiger facing toward the right. I plan to make a stencil featuring that same tiger with a spring in front of it to symbolize my personal love of water. But why do you ask? Surely we don’t need to know that yet do we?â€


“Well, Master Farrel and I are agreed. Within a month you’ll be ready to create your Master piece, proving your skill and ingenuity to all. It can take up to that long sometimes for a student to devise a symbol they’re happy with so I thought you might want to start working on it.â€


“Really? Well thank you. I didn’t think I’d hear you say that for awhile yet. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll go start on it now.â€


“Go ahead. And Shawn, take your time. It may take several casts before you find one you like well enough to use.â€


“Is that it Shawn? You sure that’s what you want to use?â€


“Yes Sir, I’m as sure as ever. Starting with the Master piece I forge tomorrow this device will be seen on every weapon I make. Next to the Tower for anything I make here and by itself for any I make elsewhere.â€


“Alright, then I’ll have one of the scribes copy it onto paper and send it out to the other Masters here in the city and to at least one in each of the capitals, it’ll spread from there. By month’s end, every blacksmith that matters will know your mark. This will keep people from stealing your work and claiming it as their own.â€


“Thank you. I was wondering about that.â€


“Now, onto more pressing matters. Are you ready for tomorrow’s test?â€


“I believe I am. I have several bars of different thicknesses waiting in the fires. The mold I’ll be using is out and ready. I’m as prepared as I’ll ever be.â€


“Yes, I saw the mold. Why the scimitar? You carry a katana and a wakizashi. I would have expected you to make one of those for your test.â€


“Well, it’s not for me. As you’ve told me time and again, you always remember your Master piece no matter how many other weapons you forge. This blade is for Deneira l’Spaida. It’s to be a betrothal gift if she’ll still have me after hiding this part of my life from her for nearly two years.â€


"Well, good luck to you. I'll see you in the morning."


"G'night ma'am."


Shawn left in high hopes for the next day and for the surprise he'd give Dene as he was getting back earlier than usual.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This was the last straw. Twentytwo years old and she couldnt even tell that her boyfriend had been cheating on her. They had been dating for over two years, and over these past two years, they had had their ups and downs, their ins and outs, and their battles as well as agreements. She had always known he had a secret, but never had she thought it would be this big. He had given her his innocence, and she had never fallen away from being true to him- not even when they weren't technically a couple. They shared everything and did everything together. She knew he ducked away for a few hours every day, but Deneira was usually teaching, and while he had never confirmed it, she had always assumed that that was what he was doing. But this was... Light, she had to sit down. Trying to sit on their bed, she more fell back and stared at the ceiling, trying to not cry. Shawn was cheating on her.


That had to be it. There was no other explanation. The day before, she had let her trainee off to go enjoy himself, and Deneira followed him. Where did he lead her? The armory. She snuck inside and saw him, talking to some woman. Then they went into her office, and Deneira sat and waited. Ages later, he came out, a big grin on his face, and he looked about to jump out of his clothes. What else could make that grin appear other than having some raunchy affair. Deneira hadnt seen him that happy in ages. Light, he had cheated on her with... Master Thewen! Of all the women in the yard! This just would not do- Deneira had to end it.


He came into the room, and Deneira sat up, whiping the tears from her eyes. He didnt seem to notice as he set his things on the weapons wrack and walked in to try and kiss her. However, she looked away and his kiss went to her wet cheek. He pulled back in surprise and she glared up at him, slowly raising to her feet. He looked in shock at her tears, and she brushed off her cheek again before putting on a straight face.


Tears? Why was she crying? What was wrong? Had something happened while he was out? He had to know. "Dene, what is it? What's happened?".


How could he not know? Was he so ignorant that he had no idea she would eventually find out? Did he honestly think she would be blind for so long. "Shawn, where were you today?" He panicked for a moment- she could tell, and he slowly answered,


Where was he? Oh no, had she found out? Did one of the boys let it slip when they saw her? Hold on there Shawn, maybe she hadn't figure it out yet, tread lightly here. "Where was I? I worked a shift on the wall and then went to the lake for some training." That wasn't enough. He needed to be honest, or at least mostly honest. "And then I went to the armory to talk to the smiths and see what new eapons they'd been working on".


He had just lied to her. She knew he hadnt, he had just all out lied. Oh light, this could not be happening. He would have had a better explanation than this if it wasnt true. She needed to hold onto something, but she couldnt show weakness. She stared him straight in the eyes and could see a secret still there. "And did you talk to a woman?"


"I won't lie to you Dene. Yes, I did talk to a woman. Master Thewen is a woman and I spent some time talking to her about the improved quality I'd noticed in the shop's weaponry lately. I thought there might have been a new Journeyman working with them." There, every word true but still not giving away his secret. But he had given enough that her reaction should tell him whether or not she knew it already.


This was breaking her heart... she felt like she was dieing as she stood there. "We have been together over two years. And in this time, you have had a secret. I thought it was nothing, just some boyhood game or some little training bit that you simply wanted time to yourself. But this... How could you keep something like this from me? If you honestly felt this way about the blasted armory and that... thing inside, you should have told me!" She couldnt keep her anger inside any longer. He had to tell her.


how could she be reacting like this? He had told her countless times how much Uzziel and the lessons he'd taught him at the forge had shaped him into the man he was. He was nothing if not a blacksmith and the son of a blacksmith, no matter who his real parents were. She knew this, he'd told her many times. How could she treat this oh so large part of who he was as though it were nothing. How could she call his life's dream a boyhood game? He wondered if she had any idea how much this was hurting him to hear her speak of things this way. "A game! You call my life a game! I thought you knew me better than that! Maybe I should have told you but I wanted to surprise you with it. You would have found out soon enough, when i was ready to tell you!".


Deneira wanted to slap him. Oh how she wanted to slap him! "It is your life? That..." Deneira could hardly get the words out. "Your LIFE? I thought I was your life! And you would never have told me about it. It is the worst surprise possible- it is going to rip us apart! How could you just toss everything we have together away for a few hours a day for some cheap pleasure. If I wasnt good enough, you should have told me!" He just stared at her, and time stood still. It was a deafening silence, and every heart beat made her die a little more. Finally, he brought out a whisper.


Shawn had his next words chosen before she even started speaking but they left him, along with all the air in his lungs, as the things she said broke past his temper and penetrated his heart. She didn't know the truth, she only thought she did, and what she thought she knew would tear them both apart. He had to fix this. He had to find a way to make it right. Against the volume of their shouting from moments before the silence as he struggled for the right words was almost deafening. He didn't know what to say that wouldn't end up making it worse but he had to try. His words came out in a whisper, "Oh Dene, you are my life. Please hear me and trust me. You are all that matters to me. Whatever you think was happening in the armory you are wrong. I could never dream of cheating on you. That would be no dream, but a nightmare. I couldn't imagine losing you. Please believe me!" By now he was down on his knees, holding her hand and looking up into her beautiful face. she had to believe him, she just had to.


He was on his knees before her, and she knew that she would never let him lie again. The words choked her, but she finally got them out. "We are over." He looked about to cry, and she was crying, but she still grabbed her cloak, another shirt, and her purse from her trunk and grabbed her scimitar as she walked out the door. She had to find an inn or something. She just couldnt stay there.



Deneira and Shawn

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She was gone. When she walked out the door and left him on the floor he stayed there for what seemed like hours, though it could have easily been only minutes. He was simply in shock. This was not the reception he was hoping for. She had not expected him to return to the room for a few hours so he'd exected that she would be happy to see him. He'd expected that they would share another wonderful night together and tomorrow he would create his masterpiece, the masterpiece that he would use to propose to her after sharing the secret of his training. But instead she'd bitten his head off and accused him of cheating on her. He could never cheat on her and he tried to tell her, but she wouldn't believe him. She had it too deeply in her head that he'd cheated and wouldn't listen to a word he'd said.




The next morning he awoke to a room filled with light. He was still on his knees and his at some point before or after falling asleep he must have started crying for his knees and face were covered in tears. He was supposed to have gotten a good night's sleep and woken refreshed to take his test. But now, he was exhausted and hadn't even time for breakfast. He washed his face from a pitcher on a stand by the door and ran to the armory.


Once he got inside he saw that both Master Thewen and Master Farrel were there waiting for him, along with his fellow Journeyman and all of the apprentices, none of them working. This was an important day and no work would be done since all of them would be watching him and then celebrating with him. His near tardiness was not remarked upon but he could see they were concerned. He had a reputation, both in the Yards and the forge, for being early to everything and both the Master were observant of details. He knew they'd seen from the lines on his face just how he'd spent the night but they were nice enough to leave him in peace and stayed silent.


Bowing before the two Masters, Shawn chose formality to avoid emotions until the forge-work itself could banish all extraneous thoughts from his head. "I am here to prove my worthiness of the title Master and I thank you both for all you've taught me."


Being the senior of the two Master Farrell spoke replied for them both, "You have been a good student and are ready for this day. Choose your forge and begin your work."


"Thank you."


Shawn turned and went to the largest forge in the smithy. He used the tongs to remove from the fire several long sheets of steel that he had placed in the fire to heat the night before. The apprentices had spent the night in shifts keeping the bellows hot so these would be ready for him today and he planned to repay the favor with gifts later. As he began his work all thoughts of the fight last night were banished from his mind and he concentrated instead on his work and the reasons for it. This sword was for Dene and as he made it he concentrated on her and all the ways she completed him. This gift would be the ultimate sign of his love for her as he intended to use it to propose marriage.



Eventually he finished the work on the blade and took a stock of silver to melt down and coated the sword in a thin layer to give it a glossy appearnace that would never fade. He used dyes to turn the hilt blue except for the round pommel that he coated in silver to match the blade. Then he quenched the whole thing in fire once more to cement the silver and the blue dye and laid it once more on the anvil. Taking the stamp he'd made the night before he imprinted his symbol on the pommel and examined the piece for flaws. There were none. This truly was his best work, and he doubted he'd do better even with years of experience for he had poured into its forging not just his skill but his soul.


As his Masterpiece this sword was his alone to do with whatever he wished, allowing him the freedom to leave off the Tower that would accompany his tiger on all future projects made in this forge. After allowing it plenty of time to cool he stepped back and bowed to the Master who had stood silently by and observed his progress. Both of them passed a critical eye over the piece and Shawn grew nervous. What if it wasn't good enough? What if he'd failed?


"You have passed the test. Your work is truly that of a Master." The formalities over Master Thewen embraced Shawn in a hug, "Congratulations Shawn, you've done it."


After that there was much rejoicing from all and Shawn was shuffled off to a tavern in town to celebrate. The other two masters, and the Journeyman drank themselves silly and even the apprentices were allowed a drink or two on such an auspacious occasion. Everyone was happy. So happy in fact that none of them noticed that Shawn's smile was plastered on his face and never once reached his eyes.


Dene was supposed to be here with him. This was to be the night when he shared the secret of his training and proposed to her, but instead she had run off last night to an inn in town and he hadn't since her since. Shawn vowed to himself then and there, with the party going on all around him, that he would win her back no matter what.

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