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Alone In The Dark (attn: Kathleen)

The Bard Babe

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Dwyn knew she shouldn’t try and reach the top shelves.


Light, but she wanted to.

She’d been set to work dusting out this old cupboard what seemed like hours ago. It was boring and lonely work, trudging up to where there were no people to be seen for practically miles, to sit in a cupboard and scrub out the floor with rags and soapy water. It brought her back to her days in the Inn, and for the first while she had been happy, immersed in memories of her childhood. Her life working at the Fat Cat Inn in Cairhien had taught her almost all she knew about life. It had taught her how to deal with people, how to entertain them, how to take their insults and their none too welcome attentions, she had learnt how to cook and how to clean, the importance of family, friends, hard work and of money. Of course it had been Letair that had shown her how important people were to her, and how important they could be to other people. Thinking of how he had shown that to her and the circumstances surrounding that, she shuddered and kicked the door open further, forcing herself to think of happier things. She smiled at the thought of her old friend, briefly wondering again where he was, whether he still wanted to talk to her after she’d left so suddenly, and to become an Aes Sedai at that.


As immersive as her old memories were however, they could not hold Dwyn’s attention for too long. Her boredom had ensured that Dwyn knew every inch of her Inn back home and now she doing the same in the Tower, and most recently, inside this cupboard. There was a sort of state you got to when you were caught between a desire to get the work done and continue on your way and a fiendish need to find out what was on the top shelves.


The cleaning was virtually done. If she was to do it, now would be her chance. Dwyn put her bucket between the door and the wall, making sure that it didn’t slam shut on her and let bright streams of sunlight paint the floor. She made her way over to the shelves and began to climb. So far the bottom shelves had held only metal items, knick knacks and valuables that required polishing on occasion but never made it outside of the cupboard. They were essentially there to give novices something to clean, Dwyn was sure of it. But surely, surely there was something interesting on the top shelves.

There wasn’t even a crack of warning before the shelf fell and Dwyn with it. She hit the stone floor with a solid thump, letting out a
scream that barely had time to form before her head cracked against the stone and she lost consciousness.


Dwyn woke some time later to the rhythmic throbbing of her pulse in her head. With every heartbeat her temples flared with pain, but through that pain Dwyn found herself clawing her way back to consciousness. There was a fog in her mind, clouding her thoughts and making her sluggish and slow. She thought of one thing at a time, feeling first the cold stone beneath her body, pressing against her cheek. She could hear nothing. She seemed to be alone. Her memory returned quickly as she moved her hand to stroke her hair and it brushed against something hard and metal, sending it rolling across the floor. She was in the cupboard. She had fallen…she must have been knocked out. That was why her head was throbbing. Of course. Now more comfortable with the speed of her conscious mind and her knowledge of the situation, Dwyn groaned and opened her eyes…to darkness.


It was black around her. Completely dark.


Any traces of sluggishness left behind in Dwyn’s mind were dashed to nothingness as she shto to her feet, ignoring the pounding but receding pain in her head. She didn’t pay attention to the objects under her feet, she merely raced at the walls, barely an arm’s width long and deep. The door, where was the door?


She needed to get out, she needed to escape and run and hide and get away from this terrible, horrifying darkness and the close, tight cupboard. She could feel the door, but it would not open. She backed into a corner, pressing herself up against the stone. The door was locked from the outside and Dwyn was alone in an unused area of the Tower, in the dark.

Alone, in the dark.

Every instinct Dwyn had, every thought her mind had, every fibre of her being was telling to run, to escape, to open the door, to do anything, but her muscles all were locked in place, her every sinew tensed and strained to breaking but absolutely refusing to move as the terror washed over her, taking her mind and holding her body captive.

She barely understood it, she barely comprehended thought that wasn't this primal terror that curled within her, but she could barely keep from screaming when she had a candle. This darkness was everywhere, it was all around her, it was softly laughing at her, stroking her, twining through her hair and running its thumb over her cheek. It was slinking into every part of her body, every crack of her thoughts. There was no escape from this, there was no light, there was nowhere to run, she was entirely alone in the darkness.


Dwyn’s paralysed body failed her and she crumpled to the floor, hunched in on herself and trying so very hard to scream. She wanted to scream because the darkness had closed in on her, touching, stroking, caressing, she wanted to scream for someone, anyone to save her, but if she opened her mouth, the darkness would pour in and take her forever. Inside her head she was screaming, and she was screaming for Letair.

Edited by The Bard Babe
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  • 2 weeks later...

Kathleen made her way through the halls after leaving her last lesson with a new group of Novices. The sight of the new ones always made her feel better about the future of the White Tower, but when the class was over and she was forced to see the space they just weren't filling her hopes always slumped again.


She had never seen this place at its full capacity, and she wasn't sure anyone ever had. It could have been built with higher dreams than realities, or there could have been a time when women who could channel were not so rare to come by. That was a worry of the Mistress of Novices, the Keeper, heads and the Amyriln herself. That was not a concern of the green sister and so Kathleen tried not to concern herself with such thoughts for long. 


She left the hall of classrooms behind her and started heading to back to her room. She notes to look over, though she'd rather not be doing that. She would much rather be sitting in the garden with a book, they way she had when she was Accepted and needed a break. Though instead of covering a hard to come by adventure story in the cover of a technical text book as she had those years ago, she would happy sit with the book exposed, half reading half watching the new tower initiates looking for potentional in the girls. She had a friend in her Accepted years who would sit with her reading the wrong sorts of books and trying to decide which of the girls in white dresses would ever be seen with the bands, and which with the bands would gain shawls, and which colour the fringe would be. Kathleen had won a lot of coin off that girl, for being so unobservant most of the time Kathleen could pick up on subtlties if she tried hard enough. Often winning a bet had been enough of a reason to shift her focus into people watching. 


Kathleen had thought the Aes Sedai didn't know of the little game, but in hindsight she was sure they did and thought it a fine practice to learn how to study people. Perhaps they didn't know about the coin involved. Kathleen would have won quite a fair chuck of gold had she ever voiced her thoughts that her good old friend would not get a fringed shawl of any colour unless she bought one in the market to cheer herself up after leaving the Tower in tears. 


She pushed the thoughts of the old day out of her mind but she found in thinking of the old times her feet had taken her for a walk through memory lane without her eyes seeing it. She had walked passed the entrance to the Accepted quarter and out into an open garden where novices, Accepted and Aes Sedai alike were welcomed. It always had more novices in it than the others, but some Aes Sedai did come here to let the novices see them, and probably to study them the way Kathleen had as Accepted. 


It didn't take her long in there to hear the lose tounges of novices giggling. Kathleen pretended not to listen, but she couldn't help but over hear how someone had found a bucket of washing water outside a large cabinet door. They said there was no sign of the one who had brough it up, but the snicker at that made it seem like they were intentionally not seeing the girl. They had dumped the water all over floor and ran as fast as they could away. Pranks were not uncommon, and truly this one seemed quite tame compared to the ones she had pulled at their age, but Kathleen thought she'd better check on it anyway. There could have been water damage if no one was around to clean it up. She would have sent those same girls up to clean the mess, and if it was still there that is exactly what she would do. But if the mess was cleaned already, sending the girls up to face the wrath of one who had her cleaning bucket tipped was not the best choice. Better to assess the situation now and deal with it after all the facts were in. Light, but Kathleen often thought she really could have a been a brown!  She got just enough information from her eavesdropping to learn where the prank had taken place and Kathleen headed off toward it.


It didn't take her long to find the remote area of the Tower with the puddle of soapy water spilled across the floor coming from the tipped over bucket. Kathleen walked over to it and straightened the bucked up, assessing the damage to the floor from the sitting water. It didn't look bad yet, and Kathleen was sure it would be fine to send for the girls in the garden to clean it. The floor would hold that long at least. If those girls weren't the someone who had done it, cleaning up the mess would be suitable punishment for spreading rumors, at the very least. It wasn't until Kathleen was standing and turning to leave that it occured to her that no one was around to claim the bucket. Surely enough time had passed for the bucket's guardian to have come back from whereever they had snuck off to. When scanned the room for signs of what could have happened and that is when she heard the soft breathing coming from in the large deep cabinet behind the bucket. Kathleen embraced the source, a habit from her time outside of the Tower where almost anything could have been hiding in the closed encasement. She through back the doors of the cabinet and braced herself. 


Kathleen Vandiar

Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah

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  • 3 weeks later...

There was no time in the dark. Dwyn had no concept of the passage of time, not the vaguest idea of how long she had been trapped by herself. The panic had taken her until she had experienced terror so intense, fight or flight instinct so deep-seated that she had variably run into the walls and scrabbled at the door with bare hands and stood locked in place, unable to move, shivering into a corner. She had hyperventilated, her chest so tight she could barely force air through it, and she had wet herself in pure terror, though she didn't exactly recall when. The initial panic had since faded, leaving her the servant of a much deeper fear than panic. She drenched in sweat but wracked with chills, her hands bloodied from her desperate scrabbles at the walls and her stomach so nauseous that she had thrown up her lunch and continued to succumb to random spells of dry-retching she was unable to stop. She was dizzy, not quite connected to reality and her terror had thrown her into a whole new state of being wherein another fear was worming its way into her psyche, a fear of losing her mind.


She felt sure that after so long in the dark-surely it had been a long time-she should have gotten used to it, but no, her fear only deepened and rolled over her in waves, whispering at her, forming faces of shadow and memory in her mind. She had managed a few desperate screams, but her singer's lungs failed her and barely a yell had made it out of her mouth.


The door burst open, throwing light into the room. The darkness shattered.


Dwyn shuddered, letting out a gasp that was nearly a yell at the sudden light. She desperately wanted to throw herself at it, to dive out of the darkness and into the figure that now crowded the doorway. The light burned her eyes painfully but she couldn't make herself care as she tried to force her body to obey her. It was locked, stiff, shocked and unhealthy, but even her body craved light, and Dwyn managed to half-crawl a step and then force herself into a lurching run. She shot out of the cupboard, stopped in the middle of the empty space and her knees failed her again. She broke down in uncontrollable shivers and sobs that nearly made her throw up again with their violence, just as she had been her entire sojourn into the darkness. She simply felt the open space and reacted on primal instinct, refusing to touch any walls, simply bathing in the light and struggling to stay upright, unable to forget the horror she had just been through.


She didn't even look to see who had saved her until a touch on her arm made her flinch and shudder.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The cupboard door opened to barely show the shape of girl standing in it. Before Kathleen could make out the details of who it was, or ask the girl what ridiculous excuse she had for hiding herself up in a cabinet, the girl shifted from her statue still shock to a streak of white as she scattered past the Green. 


Kathleen turned just in time to see the girl crumble to the ground in the middle of the room and was at the girl's shaking side only a moment after the first tears fell. She had paused only long enough to inspect the cabinet for signs of what could have instilled such fear in the girl to have her run past an Aes Sedai without so much as a glance in her direction. She found nothing unexpected inside, and certainly nothing that should cause such terror as was clearly raging through the girl.


The Green had seen similar behaviour before, but it was usually on the faces of the towns people running from their burning houses with Trollocs on their heals or other cases where battles found people who wanted nothing to do with the fight. Something had shocked this girl into a terrible state. She could deal later with the what of it, and explain that nothing is so terrible to excuse a novice running past an Aes Sedai and without a curtsy at that. She had to calm this poor thing down and get her mind right enough to realize up from down again.


Kathleen approached the girl calmly, hesitating a moment before reaching her arm to the girl's shoulder. Some people attack anything, helping or not, when they're in such a state; others don't even realize they aren't alone. Kathleen would be ready for either response. She crouched down to the right side of the girl, with her left hand gently finding the girl's trembling shoulder.


Kathleen's voice was calm and steady as she spoke, "Here now, child. You're out safe now. Calm now, it's over." The girl didn't shift at Kathleen's touch so she began to rub her hand in a small circle on the girl's back, the way her own mother used to do to calm Kathleen when she was young. "Breathe, child, you must catch your breath. Steady now."


She waited with the girl, coaxing her to calm as well as she could. When the girl's trembling slowed and her wits seemed sharper, Kathleen removed her hand from the girl. 


"There now, you'll be alright. Tell me child, what is your name, and what happened to frighten you so?" She wasn't sure the girl was truly in a state to answer, but getting her out of her thoughts and speaking often helped people remember themselves and let the fear slide further away. 


Kathleen Vandiar

Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah

Comforter of People?

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