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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

And another one for the Dragon ((ATTN: Myyrth))


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Sereth sat out in the middle of a field, in a stonework chair, at a stonework table. The designs were simple, flat top, single leg in the middle for the table, made of the granite of the deep earth. The chair was made from the same material and of a similar design. On the table sat a simple tea pot and earthen ware cups. Sereth tied off a weave heating the kettle and released Saidin. He had a broad smile on his face, and admired his work for a moment. While it was true that he wouldn’t win any awards for craftsmanship, building something simple and sturdy was one of his favorite applications of the power. Yes they were weapons, but no one said that was all they had to be. Besides, at the farm it was easy to ignore craters such as the one not twenty paces from his seat from where he’d pulled the table. Details, eh?

 

Today’s joy however, was to be much greater than simple stone work. He was to teach a young man today, a new comer to the Tower. A Sander Filk if his memory served. A fellow Andorian, but not from Camelyn. He was to introduce the man to Saidin, to the life and death struggle that showed a man he was alive. It was a bittersweet moment, as so many were. For while he would give this man life, show him what it was to feel truly alive for the first time, he would be placing a timer on it. Was the taint worth it? Certainly. Still, one could not sentence men to death without feeling a bit of remorse. Well, at least I can’t… He shuddered at a memory, a small child burned with complex markings branded in her flesh. He’d never let himself get that far… His journals, they’d give an early alert.

 

Sereth added some herbs to the pot, his smile coming back as he thought of the ingredients. A simple drink, as far as many of his herbal remedies go. It was simply intended to give a bit of energy, while focusing the mind. It always amazed him what a simple drink could do, yet he with the male half of the power would most likely never be able to accomplish. The Attack Leader glanced back towards the farm, his grin widening as he saw a black coated figure on the horizon. As the man drew closer the tea came to a boil and Sereth promptly cut the tied weave. “Welcome, my name is Attack Leader Sereth Arian, but as that is quite the mouthful, Sereth will be just fine. Before we begin, would you care for some tea?”

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It had taken Sender the whole morning after the event to work up the courage to take the horse. It wasn't his families only horse, his father was rich after all, but his old man was not one to trifle with when it came to his property. He probably wouldn't have gone at all if his father hadn't left for the market on urgent business. Even then, if his mother had caught him and asked him to do chores or his aunt stopped by asking for help lifting crates he would have chickened out. The day aligned perfectly to leave him alone with his thoughts. So it was easy for him to avoid his brothers and saddle their horse Carrot (the boys thought they were so clever) and go.

 

On the road he avoided meeting the eyes of townspeople about their daily routine. Farmers he recognized from around Whitebridge were driving their goods into the square. Some called out to him for his father was well known among the merchants and tradesmen of the town. He didn’t respond, worried that if he did they might question him, might ask where he was going. The Asha’man’s little display that morning had left the whole community in furor. Some of the elder’s were calling for a moratorium on any association with these black coats. It seemed like most agreed with them. Sender knew that his window of opportunity was small. If he went home now he would have been missed. They would ask him questions. It would not go well. So he kept on.

 

When he arrived at designated spot he saw two men, one young and one old, standing at the entrance to a small path. Sender recognized the young man from town; he was the son of a journeyman shoemaker.

 

“Is he there?” Sender asked.

 

“He’s there.” The young man said. Sender just stood quietly looking down the path and after a moment the two started talking again. Sender looked up at the sky, the trees were swaying in the light breeze and the air was fresh. It was the nicest day in recent memory. It seemed like it was always too hot these days. The oldsters were saying that such signs pointed towards a harsh winter to come. He didn’t know anything about that. What he did know was that he was bored to death of his life. He was educated. He was young, and while he wasn’t very strong he knew he was born for more than just buying and selling other peoples goods. He wanted to create! He wanted the freedom and power to do anything he wanted.

 

So it was that Sender Filk, the son of a merchant, sat in front of Sereth the black coat, the Asha’man.

 

““Welcome, my name is Attack Leader Sereth Arian, but as that is quite the mouthful, Sereth will be just fine. Before we begin, would you care for some tea?” He said. Mustering his fortitude Sender sat down. His nervous hands clutched the cloth of his pants.

 

“Certainly, I would be most grateful.” He said, trying to sound confident but courteous. He waited for his cup to be poured and then took a hesitant sip. Now that he was here, the magnitude of his decision was beginning to dawn on him. Would he be able to visit his family again? Would he be able to take any of his things? What sort of test would this be? Would it hurt? He hadn’t brought any food, how long would it take? The next words were blurted out and hasty.

 

“I didn’t bring anything, is that a problem?” Sender’s pulse raced.

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Sereth gave the nervous boy a calming smile. “Didn’t bring anything? You brought yourself, and if you are what you hope to be, well… “ Sereth chuckled and smoothed back his brown hair, “Well, that should more than suffice.” Sereth poured his own cup of tea after making sure the boy had his own. He sipped it without any further additives, always preferring the natural flavors of the herbs to the prostrating sweetness of honey. When corned with that fact he’d once laughed and responded, “The world is sweet enough without your honey.” An odd sentiment from one who ran so willingly to battle, to take life, and to rend the very earth they trod upon.

 

“I will make this very clear; the ability to channel is rare, very rare. Having enough power to actually accomplish something useful is rarer yet. “ As Sereth spoke he rose his palm face up over the table and seized Saidin. Immediately the world grew a more brilliant, more vibrant. The ice and fire in his blood every bit as sweet as the honey he denied himself, where the taint so vile that he was tempted to expose the contents of his stomach. Still it got to him, even though the battle raged in the back of his mind, second nature to the man. “There is a test, and I’m told a rather old one.” A small flame appeared over his open hand. “It is simple really, just focus on a weave, pardon me this is what we call something done with the power, and a resonance will be felt.” The flame darkened in his palm, not dulling, but shifting hue down to the same black as his coat.

 

“You see, channeling is something that comes from deep within, it connects us to the pattern.” The Flame ceased it’s flickering, instead becoming a stylized black flame, one that could have been made of volcanic glass. “So, when you focus on the weave, you prepare your mind for a wonderful place.” His voice was pitched to be very soft, melodic. Hypnotic. The glass flame shifted shape, bending and taking the form of the dragon’s tear. “And if you can touch that place…” Sereth felt a resonance, almost like a bell going off deep inside the void from which he held Saidin. Sereth closed his palm, destroying the illusion. “I feel it. Though I doubt you have any true idea what you’ve just signed up for, welcome to the Black Tower my friend. We will leave shortly; do you have any business to attend before we set out?”

 

Sereth chuckled, before adding, “And of course you are more than welcome to finish your tea.”

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sender Filk was not sure what he expected to see when they reached their destination. In his mind he envisioned a great black fortress breaking free of the surrounding forest to peirce the sky like some massive obsidian dagger. So it was a surprise when he found out that the Black Tower was less a tower and more a sprawling military camp. A great stone wall was beginning to be erected around the perimeter of the camp and the foundations of other buildings could be seen. Someday perhaps this place would be one of exceptional magnificence. For the moment, the most exceptional thing about the Black Tower was the many Black Coated men who were moving about the encampment. Each one wore the Black Coat and among them some wore the Silver Sword and Dragon Pin's of a full Asha'man.

 

Sereth had instructed him on the basic's of life in the Black Tower; such as the responsibilities of a soldier, his obligations to his fellow barracks mates, and the meanings of certain Old Tongue phrases he would hear, such as Tsorovan'm'hael or "Storm Leader". He would be responsible for caring for the clothes and tools provided for him and as soon as he was able he would begin using the One Power to accomplish tasks in his day to day life. To be an Asha'man and to serve the Dragon Reborn he would eat breath and sleep with Saidin. The Power would be his constant companion. Sereth warned him that such contact would be dangerous, but if they were to serve as weapons during Tarmon Gai'don and ride at the vanguard with the Dragon Reborn then they must be strong.

 

Sereth also told him about the taint, and the danger touching the source held for all Male channelers. Sender wasn't sure how he felt about going steadily and inevitably mad. Sender was, in many ways, beginning to regret his decision to leave the safe and sheltered world that Whitebridge had provided for him. He had always dreamed of conflict and war and the victory of heroes, but here and now walking towards the foreboding image of the Black Tower and it's squat structures of stone and wood, he was not so certain.

 

As they approached the main gate, Sereth slowed to a stop. Confused, Sender stopped as well. They were here at last. If he was going to do this, If he was going to become a weapon in the hands of the Dragon Reborn and sacrifice himself for the world, he wanted to do it now before he had a chance for more second thoughts.

Edited by Myyrth
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  • 2 weeks later...

Sereth had always enjoyed talking. So many assumed that the one speaking was simply giving information away, while the listener hoarded and revealed nothing. Though the Attack Leader would never be so bold as to call so large a group foolish, he would say it was a bit ignorant. As the details of life on the farm moved towards that of the taint, he could see the tension filling the man. He was close to turning tail and running back to the sheltered world of whtiebridge, as far from the Black Tower as he could manage. I'm sorry son, but it is far to late for that. Sereth turned to face the man before the gates, large stone monoliths without a seam. There could be little doubt what had been used to shape these structures. "I wish I could tell you that I was about to give you some final moment and turn back to the life you knew. The truth is son, that moment passed the moment I learned you could channel. I want you to understand something, a cruel but very true fact. We are first and foremost, soldiers. We are a military with the greatest weapon this world has seen since the Breaking of the World. You have been drafted." He let the words sink in, before waving his embroidered arm to the guards above. The gates slid open smoothly, without a single squeak of gears or chains. "Welcome to the Black Tower Soldier."

 

---

 

He had handed the man off to a dedicated to be outfitted. He would gladly befriend and teach the man if such was desired, but the man needed to know that he would be on his own without an attack leader to coddle him every step of the way. They were brother's in arms, but he was the superior officer. The next day however, he had requested the man's presence in a field a distance from the main group of buildings. Again a dedicated escorted him, the silver pinned man not yet having the strength to open a gateway directly to the Attack Leader's location. Sereth hoped he would gain that strength, they could use more who could travel. Sereth had set up what would be a some what familiar stone table and stone chairs, with the same earthenware kettle and mugs. It was abrupt, but life was so within the tower. They simply didn't have time to coddle men to their full strength as the white tower did. Tarmon Gai'din approached, and each man's march to madness raced it.

 

When the fellow Andorian approached, the Attack Leader gestured for the the seat opposite him and began to speak. "I am sorry for being harsh yesterday, but I feel I must be honest about the hardships of life here. There is however, joy. A joy unlike any you would have ever experienced, no matter the number of tankards swallowed or the women you've lead to bed. I speak, of Saidin. The male half of the one power, and the greatest gift the Creator could have bestowed upon us of the masculine gender." He let his words sink in for a moment, before continuing. "With it we can achieve both wondrous and horrible things. As for the mundane, well that we can accomplish with an efficiency that would send artisans and housewives across the land into a frothing rage," he gestured to the kettle, and promptly seized Saidin and brought the water to an instance boil. Using flows of air he lifted the lid and poured in the content of his prepared paper packets of tea mixtures. "I do hope you don't grow sick of tea by the end of your lessons, I'm quite fond of it myself." The kettle poured itself after brewing for only a few moments, a small club of hair pressing the packet to speed the brewing considerably. For the first time using his hands, Sereth took a sip of his brew and smiled. "Of course these tasks are fairly boring, but I demonstrate the ability to channel without causing any explosions." He chuckled, "Though we will get to those soon enough."

 

He paused, allowing his words to sink in, Creator knows that the abrupt change in lifestyle was hard for any man to take in. Sereth had one trick up his sleeve to remove apprehensions about channeling however. That of course, was the Source itself. "Before you can begin, I must ask, are you familiar with the Ko'Di? Also known as the oneness, or the flame and the void? It is a valuable concentration tool often employed by swordsman. I ask, because we too make use of it. We empty ourselves of emotion and form a void within our minds, within this void, we find the source. Without the preparedness, we would be hard pressed to do battle with Saidin, to bend it to our will." Sereth took another break from speaking, "Before we begin, I am going to give you an opportunity to field any questions you have. Once we begin however, it will be time for absolute focus. I suggest you use this time wisely."

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Sender's apprehension had grown once the great gates had closed behind him. It was an apprehension born of fear and ignorance but for him it was plain and simple fear. Fear which, by the next day, had become terror. Still he kept his face clear and his hands steady as he walked to the trianing ground. Perhaps the only thing that had kept him from trying to climb the walls of the Farm the previous night was his hope that it would Sereth who led his training in the following days. The eyes of the men in the Farm were not always filled with the kind and welcoming intensity that he had grown accustomed to with the Attack Leader. He woke up earlier, exhausted. He had only managed to fall asleep after many hours of tossing about and resisting the urge to run screaming from the barracks. He cursed the softness of his upbringing, his father who had never valued his work and all the people who had driven him to this extreme. He cursed everyone and dreamed of a way out. The words Sereth had told him upon arriving the day before clawed at him.

 

You have been drafted. What it sounded like to him was, you will use this power till you are used up. You will dream of greatness but what truly awaits you is madness and pain. There are no riches here, only death. Sender Filk had no idea what he was getting himself into.

 

In truth there was only one carrot which kept him from flight. The Power. The Source. Could he really do magic? It wasn't a word anyone used, and he didn't think he'd dare call Saidin that while he was around the other Asha'man but that was what it was wasn't it? The ability to create and do whatever he wanted? What would he spend to gain such power? He thought he would spend anyhing. With this sort of power he could he wipe that smug grin off his schoolmate Egens face, when he had fallen trying to run from Farmer Delvin's dogs. The grudges he could collect on. The fear he could cause in others. No one would ever call him Fat Filky again.

 

The fear stayed with him all through his morning chores. Some of the other new boys who had been there longer gave him some hints. They were younger than him by a couple years and he didn't like them telling him what to do. Still, it was better than looking like a fool. So when the Dedicated came to collect him he was dressed and ready.

 

In the yard he kept his eyes low trying to look without seeming to look at the activity around the Black Tower. The Farm was a constant buzz of activity, he passed what must have been the Traveling yard as it was cordoned off, a large wagon full of supplies was traveling through what looked like a large window hovering in the air. The ground was covered in long thin slices as though cut by a huge sword. Beyond a line of low building smoke was rising, when he asked what it was caused by he was told that it was Dedicated practicing offensive weaves.

 

"Weaves." He muttered to himself, he would memorize everything they told him. He would not give in to fear. Despite all the wonderous things he say even in those brief moments on his way to the trianing yard the fear sat crouched in his gut like a gremlin, gnawing on his stomach.

 

Sereth was waiting for him sitting at a stone table much. He was amiable as always. Sender wondered how he could be so calm. The thought of the taint made him want to throw up. Even the echo of it that he had experienced made him ill. Still the other boys had told him it wasn't so bad once you got used to it. Maybe they were right.

 

"Before we begin, I am going to give you an opportunity to field any questions you have. Once we begin however, it will be time for absolute focus. I suggest you use this time wisely." Sereth said. Sender blurted out his question without thinking.

 

"How fast does it make you go mad?" His fear pushed it from his lips like a gust of wind.

Edited by Myyrth
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The man’s apprehension was a palpable thing, seething and writhing, wrapping around his throat like a constrictor. Sereth very nearly sighed, but held it back. It wasn’t that he was already exasperated with the man; it was more that he was disappointed in himself. Though the man had sought him out, and it was his duty as an Asha’mon to bring forth all men who could channel, he hated the necessity of it. He hated what he had done to the Andorian youth. He hoped it was a sign of his own sanity that he still felt grief for what it was that he did, what he would continue to do. He was what the world needed him to be though, and any man who willingly grappled with Saidin in the dragon’s name by definition put what the world needed above himself. For while Saidin remained tainted, there was no future for any man on the Farm.

 

Outwardly Sereth showed none of these conflicting thoughts or emotions. His face remained kind, his smile light. Though he doubted anyone could mistake him for not taking the situation or the man’s question seriously. Instead he took the mannerisms from the kind uncle or grandfather, who gently explained why mother wasn’t coming home tonight… “I can’t answer that question.” This time he did let the sigh slip through, and ran his fingers through his well kempt hair, “I’ve studied it. Kept track of those who last a long time, those who don’t. I could ramble off statistics until I’m blue in the face, but even if you’ve been taught your sums they don’t mean a damn thing.” Sereth’s eyes travelled up, past the young man and back towards the direction of the farm. “You see, Sender, it doesn’t have anything to do with strength or weakness of character or body. There isn’t a formula for this, for it is the purest manifestation of chaos I sincerely hope I ever encounter, though given my profession, I very much doubt it will be. “

 

Sereth let a sad laugh escape his lips at those words. He didn’t know what his future held, but if Shienar was any indication, it would be horrible beyond even his capable mind’s ability to imagine. “I myself have been on the farm for over a year, and I show no outward signs of neither rot nor insanity, or at the very least, I show no changes to my personality and I don’t believe I hear any voices or see any illusions. At least, none that I am aware of. Unfortunately, there are those who succumb much faster than I.” Sereth didn’t mention that some men went off the deep end at the very first sip of Saidin, and he certainly didn’t tell the man what he was prepared to do if he was one such as those. The conversation was grim enough as it was.

 

“This fear you feel, it is a natural thing, and if you felt none of it you may have already been mad. There is a technique however, that can banish your fear. In fact it is the same one I would teach you as the first steps to learning to control your gifts.” He had answered the man’s questions; it was time to move on. If he could help the man control himself at the same time, all the better. “I want you to close your eyes, tight, don’t let any light in, but don’t strain yourself. Good, now picture a flame in your mind. A gentle candle or a roaring inferno matters little, so long as you can hold it. Now, as all fires do, this flame needs fuel. It feeds on your emotion.” He let that thought settle for a moment, watching for a tremor. Some did not react well to the principles of the Ko’Di. “Feed your emotions into it, your anger, fear, lust, joy, everything that you are, feed to this flame. Take your time; this is not an easy thing to do. If you fail, do so again. When you succeed, you will have achieved the void.” Sereth seized Saidin once again, and wove a shield and prepared two bands of air. He doubted the man would be able to see his flows quite yet. He was prepared in case the man stumbled into Saidin. “Is that better, Soldier?”

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He listened to Sereth. He held himself tight. He closed tight the doors to his mind and shut every bit of fear and self-doubt inside it. Then he tried. He imagined a candle flame flickering. Looking at the table he imagined that it was sitting there in front of him. It had a wick that was black like his coat and it rested in a silver candelabra like the nice ones his mother saved for special occasions. It sat there on the table and he tried to feed the roiling terror which coiled inside the shuttered windows of his mind.

 

There was... nothing. They sat in silence for a minute or more it seemed before he let out a loud breath. He was winded, his face felt flushed and a deep shame filled him.

 

"I can't do it. I don't know what your talking about. This is ridiculous. Are you sure I can channel? I didn't feel anything. I fed my emotions into it like you said. How can you expect me to do something like this, it's impossible." Sender started to stand, then settled into his chair again. He looked around the yard. His shoulders were hunched up as though he were warding away some blow. "I don't know what I'm doing. I've never done anything like this before" He said. His voice barely above a whisper.

 

Madness. Death. War. He was just a merchants son. He wasn't smart, he couldn't do this. He was going to die. He looked across the table at Sereth whose calm and placid demeanor caused his blood to boil. Was he going to fail at this like he had failed his father? Except this time his mother would not be there to rescue him from the whip. There wouldn't be a whip. There would just be pain and then death. The boys in the barracks said that Saidin could turn a man inside out. He felt his insides boiling out through his mouth. The red gush of blood pouring through the grass. His eyes popping out of his skull in a glittering crimson arc. His bones snapping.

 

He looked away from Sereth and started to cry.

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Sereth watched as his student broke down in front of him. The life he had unwittingly walked into overwhelming his sensibilities, his gentle life having left him unprepared for the harsh realities of the changing world. Of his own abilities. When the man began to cry, Sereth felt a pang of regret. What have I done to this poor man? The attack leader took a deep steadying breath. It is too late for that Sereth. There is no turning back, only moving forward. Maybe… Maybe it is time for a demonstration. His resolve hardened, and for the first time an edge of iron entered the Asha’man’s voice.

 

“You chose this path, Sender Filk. I did not demand that you take my test, but asked for volunteers. You passed, and you can channel.” He stressed the word can, and stood, his back turned to the man. “You can assume the void, and wield Saidin.” Sereth seized the source himself, allowing himself to be immersed in the currents of molten ice, freezing flames, and the revolting filth that was the taint of the Dark One. He felt powerful, alive. No, more than that. He felt that this was right, that man should hold this strength, and use it to defend those who could not do so themselves. To the women fall gentle Saidar, with its requirement of acceptance to wield. He and every man who could hold the source was a fighter, a warrior, and he would forge of this man a blade that the dragon would wield in the last battle.

 

“Soldier. Watch what you will be able to do.” His voice was firm, filled with the command one would expect of his office as he began to weave. Sereth delved into the earth under his feet as he walked, raising it. He formed a pedestal under him of a perfect circle. Flames rose around the edge, raising and licking the air. Sereth burned the edges, charring them black with the might of Saidin. Again he wove, twisting air and fire together, with a bead of earth into lightning. With this he cut a sinuous line through his disc, his finger tracing the path of destruction. He stepped to one half, again summing flames to blacken the other half, but tied the weave to leave the fires burning. Next he drew upon his weakest element, summoning water from the air and freezing it upon the unburning half of the disc.

 

Finally Asha’man Sereth Arian turned to face the man, sweat pouring down his face. He stood upon the unified symbols of the Flame of Tar Valon, and the Dragon’s Fang. He stood on the line etched by lightning, the fire flowing around him and his feet steady even on the thin sheet of ice. “Sender Filk, you are weak.” He let that hang in the air, his tone disappointed yet firm. “But you don’t have to be. Through Saidin this!” He outstretched his hands, indicating the disc, “and so many more marvels are at your finger tips! I can teach you my strength, no… I can teach you the strength we share. I offer you an end to your weakness, not just through Saidin, but through discipline. I offer you a new family, one who asks for everything you can give. One who stands beside you and does the same.” Sereth stepped forward, letting the weaves stopping the ice from melting fail. With each step fissues appeared through the Flame of Tar Valon, and with a titanic effort, the Dragon’s Fang began to push up, rotating into full view. When Sereth leaped from the pedestal, only the Fang was visible. The ancient symbol of the male Aes Sedai.

 

“I would ask that you stand, and agree to accept my tutelage. That you vow to serve the Dragon, and march beside your brethren, that you seize Saidin and for the first time truly be alive.” Sereth’s walk took him to stand just before the Andorian. “But I don’t have to ask. You are a soldier of the Black Tower, an Asha’man in training, and a weapon of the Lord Dragon Reborn. All of those tasks I would ask of you are simply what you are now.” Sereth let go of Saidin, feeling the strain of having pushed himself a bit too far. He pushed forward a cup of his tea, designed to settle the nerves of those who drank it. “Now, clear your mind and picture a flame. Assume the void, we aren’t leaving here until you channel.”

Edited by Kura
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Sender tears ran dry as he watched Sereth intensely. He had not yet seen such a spetacular display of force. He was stunned into a moment of intense clarity. This power wasn't some magicians trick; these men were not pretenders in some farcical and overproduced theatre show. These men were Channelers, like the witches of the White Tower.

 

He had seen them before, the Aes Sedai, with their burly and rude Warders. They commanded men like they were sheep. He remembered his father had been forced to part with a dozen silk rolls of cloth at a fraction of their worth. He remembered sitting at the top of the stairs with his fists clenched as the Warder pushed his father firmly back from the haughty witch as she dismissed his price with a sniff. His father had been furious. It was true, he had marked up the cost of the merchandise, but business was business. She had threatened to bring him before the town elders, threatened to expose him as a usurer and thief. Afterwards his father had raged about the house, smashing the fine porcelain plates his mother had purchased the month before and striking Sender when he had come down into the sitting room. That day the witches had showed him how weak his father truly was. Weak. Was he truly weak?

 

He straightened his shoulders and stood, roughly he wiped the tears from his eyes. He met Sereths gaze before closing his eyes. He knew that there was only one source of power that truly mattered. The power to take what you wanted without giving anything back. Power was not authority; power was not skill or business acumen or education. Only power was power. And what could be more raw and unfiltered than the violent force which Sereth had showed him today.

 

"I can do it. I can channel. I am not weak." He whispered. Eyes still closed he repeated this over and over. He pictured the candle in his mind, just holding that image without any other extraneous focus. He felt his fear rebel, the waves washing over him trying to extinguish the flickering flame. He held the candle steady. Slowly (it felt like hours passed) he allowed his focus to shift to the flame itself. The black wax faded away into the void that surrounded the flame. He could feel the heat of the flame, it was his anger. He felt his anger and frustration flare in time with the light of the flame.

 

Into that fire he poured his insecurities and fears. All those times when that bloody dung eater Daben made fun of him in front of the lector. All those times that his father had struck him for not doing his chores or his mother had chastised him for not taking care of his brothers. All the times he had felt stupid or weak. He dumped everything of himself into the heat of the flame and it grew. It grew until it raged inside him, a burning firestorm of hatred directed out against the world. Yet at the same time the pure darkness of the void grew around the flame, expanding as the flame expanded until the immense and open spaces of his mind seemed emptied out. The flame was hot, but the void was colder. It chilled him to the very core of his being leaving him drained. The flame and the void wavered. He was struggling to maintain his focus as his untrained mind rebeled.

 

"I am strong, I am strong, I am strong..." He said, not understanding the words as they flowed from his mouth, a near silent mantra. He didn't think about Sereth watching him, or his family at home who were even now searching the countryside for him. He was not by the river or dallying in the field. He was here; in this present moment. He was everywhere. He was powerful.

 

He felt something give inside him, through the flame a door opened and his mind’s eye traveled through an invisible threshold. Grasping at this thin gateway with all the pain he could muster he wrapped the cold hands of his will around the door that was not a door and pulled himself through.

 

An endless raging torrent of power flooded through his body like a lightning bolt that did not end as it electrified his soul. The void began to collapse as he felt his body jerk rigid.

 

His mouth opened in a wordless scream as the void collapsed in on him. His eyes snapped open as a burst of flame exploded outward from an outstretched hand he had not consciously raised. The searing pain snuffed out the Flame with the abruptness of a doused candle. He fell backwards into his chair yelling in agony clutching his burned fingers. The torrent was cut off abruptly by a solid but invisible barrier of something. His mind felt strangely quiet and the world around him seemed drained of color.

 

He stammered out jumbled words as tears streamed down his face. "Fire... I made fire. I really can channel."

 

Sender Filk passed out on the training field, finding solace in the insensible darkness.

Edited by Myyrth
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Sereth’s reflexes were on point, instantly slicing the fire weaves as the rolled from the man. His shield however, was a bit lagging, but he saw little harm in that given the man had knocked himself unconscious. Sereth held the source, staring down at his new soldier, trying to decide how he felt. Had he done good for the man? It seemed he had finally found a backbone, at the very least. Though he wondered at the man’s mantra… It unsettled the Attack Leader. A horrible, nigh unforgiveable thought occurred to him. I could gentle him here and now… How much pain would I be saving him and others? He shuddered at the thought, what he considered went beyond taboo. It was cruel, not giving him a chance. Let alone the repercussions he’d face. Still… he was unsettled.

 

Another cup of tea was poured, and he drank it down, barely tasting the enticing natural flavors. He was exhausted from his display, but he couldn’t leave the man’s hands as they were. I owe him this much at least… He reached a decision regarding him, as he began to weave his poorest elements together. He’d leave the scars. Oh, the man wouldn’t lose any use of his hands, but every day he’d be reminded that power had a cost. Sereth vowed to keep a close watch on him, and oversee at least part of his training himself. He’d been betrayed by his trusting demeanor already, and it had cost many young women their lives. He couldn’t act preemptively, at least not this early, but he would watch him.

 

Sereth desperately hoped that his suspicions were incorrect, that the man was overtaken by euphoria and a sudden urge to finally accomplish. He hoped he could temper that drive for power into something the dragon could use. He would strive for that goal, but he would not be blinded. Sereth might look the part of the trusting historian, ignorant to the ways of the world, but he’d grown. He’d slain men and shadowspawn in the hundreds. He even kept the special batch of herbs on his belt at all times. He’d mixed that drink and watched friends die for losing to the taint… and for trusting him. He pushed away those thoughts, and finished healing the man. The scars were horrid things, ugly and red, he hoped it would be enough.

 

With the last of his strength, he wove a gateway back to the Farm, and settled the man into the infirmary. When the doctor inspected his hands, he turned a baleful eye on the Attack Leader. Sereth threw up his hands, honest guilt on his features. “I had not the strength left for a proper healing.. He should retain all movement in them.” A stern reprimand to simply bring the patient first, and Sereth was set free to return to his home. He’d much to write in his journals today…

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Sender sat in the infirmary ward of the barracks looking at the scars on his hands. Half a smile was splayed across his face and his eyes were far away. It was amazing, his fingers ached but they still worked. He remembered how charred they had looked before he had slipped into uncounciousness. At the time his euphoria had been too great for concern, but his nightmares while uncouncious had been horrible.

 

His hands had been charred stumps. Blood was seeping from the ruined but cauterized limbs and he sat at the bottom of a shallow crater covered in black tar. He remembered tearing his eyes away from the ruined image of his hands and looking up at the sky. Rolling black clouds spat heat lightning at each other like massive ships of war locked in ruinous battle. The sky was choked with carrion birds that filled that air with a cacophanous sound like the screaing howl of the damned. Time seemed to be moving so slowly, each bird was swimming through the air in slow motion. He could feel great heaving cracks in the earth as though some ancient fault were slipping taking everything with it into some yawning dark void beneath the earth. The world was fraying apart around him.

 

In the distance he heard deep and rumbling laughter that brought with it a sickening nausea which crawled into his gut and nested there planting the seeds of its corruption.

 

He had woken screaming clutching his hands. One of the camp wives who volunteered as a nurse had pushed him back down almost immediatly.

 

"Calm yourself, it's only a dream. Some of the men get them." She didn't seem concerned. A solid woman not prone to hysteria.

 

"It was..." He didn't elaborate. He didn't know what the dream was. It had been so vivid, dreams like that... how could you tell that they weren't real? He could still feel the blood dripping down his forearms. He could hear the sound of the birds like a vibration still humming through his ears. A world of desolation. Still, the nurse was right. Like all dreams it faded. They let him stay in the infirmary for another hour, one of the more skilled healers in the camp checked him over, probing gently with Saidin

 

"A healthy young man." He said. He slaps him on the back. "I heard you gave yourself a little scare on the training field. Well done. Not everyone touches the power on their first day." Sender smiles and thanks the man. Pride swelled inside him. He realy had done it hadn't he.

 

Outside the barracks he had clenched his fists and examined the mottled burn scars which covered them. The intense heat had left the skin of his hands discolored and raw. The scars would probably never go away, an ugly reminder of his accident. He felt a laugh erupt from his chest sharp and giddy. He squeezed his hands into fists until they ached and the blistered skin on his right hand broke open and bled. He embraced the pain.

 

"I have it. I have it. I have it. SAIDIN!" He shouted. The word both a declaration and a pure expression of triumph. Suddenly self-councious he looked around. No one was paying attention to him. He kicked the ground and skipped and waved his hands about. He could channel and nobody would take that away from him. He didn't know anything about this war they were talking about. Tarmon Gai'din or whatever nonsense. His mother had told him the same stories. And stories were stories until you had the evidence in your hands. Looking at his hands he thought he had all the evidence he'd ever need to prove his power.

 

Still, a felt something cold and ration settle into the back of his mind, cooling his excitement.

 

You haven't learned anything yet. You need to focus. Sereth could cut you off form this power if he wanted to. He did it before.

 

Sender remembered the strange sense of being blocked or forced away from Saidin almost immediatly after the explosion had happened. He wondered if there was a way to bypass that. He didn't like the idea that someone could take his power away from him.

 

Right. So you need to be smart Sender. You need to learn. You're a clever man. If you apply yourself the instructors will trust you. They'll give you more responsibility. They'll give you more power.

 

He let the tension leak from his body and he shook out his aching hands. This place was a school. He was here to learn. He needed to be careful and take things slowly. He started walking towards the Soldiers barracks, some of the other black coats were giving him looks. Fresh meat like him probably had duties to be attending to. Still it was impossible for him to avoid trying one more time. As he walked he tried to conjur up the Ko'di, flame and void. He felt the spark of the flame start to light in his mind, fueled by his emotions and will. He felt the void that surrounded the flame and within the flame he felt the burning... He stopped. He glanced at his hands.

 

"Maybe i'll wait." Somewhere deep inside himself the terror still lurked.

Edited by Myyrth
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