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Redemption (Open)


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Baren woke to find himself shivering. He was beginning to wonder if it more so because of the cold or the withdraws from alcohol. The cloak he covered himself with like a blanket was dusted lightly with snow from the previous night. Bloody winter. He thought to himself as he sat up, his body protesting as if it had been frozen stiff from the cold night. His joints ached, but that was typical. He rose to stand, the worn boots on his feet crunching on the thin layer of snow that still clung to the undergrowth. His clothing was dirty and worn, his boots beginning to fall apart. The travel had been hard over the last few months, especially with the sudden onset of winter. Snow made for slow walking.


Baren remained in place beneath the frosted pine as he ate a quick breakfast, finishing the last bit of aged cheese he had with a compliment of a stale roll's crusty end. He chewed slowly, his demeanor on this morning less than... optimistic. Why had he left the farm again? Was it really worth it to suffer all these hardships just to find a place that would damn him by simple association? He frowned to himself, dusting the crumbs out of his untamed beard and sighed. It was worth it. He knew that. Nari wouldn't want to watch him waste away at the farm like he had been, and although this wasn't the most prestine way to right his wrongs, it was a way. The world was changing, he was sure of it, and a man had to choose a side or be washed away with the tide. He had chosen. With his resolve once again rebuffed, Baren gathered his few belongings and set out through the snow with the rising sun as a guide. He angled himself through the forest so that it rose just before his right shoulder. North and east; that was the direction he must go.




The sun now stood above Baren's head, high in the sky above although it seemed to offer little warm to the chill down below. Baren used his left hand to hold the front of his cloak closed around his body, the other occupied with a stick he had found on his journey that he used to assist walking when the snow became troublesome, or the path too overgrown for normal travel. He trudged along with quiet determantion, his jaw set accept for when he turned to spit a brown stream of tabac juice. His knees ached and his back was sore, but Baren carried on despite. He found himself coming upon a break in the treeline, and just over the horzion he could see small plumes of smoke rising. Chimneys. Despite himself, Baren smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. He'd made it, at long last. He'd made it.

Edited by Andrej
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Arath stewed over the stack of papers that had grown on his desk over the last few weeks.  Bloody Aes Sedai, demanding all his time ... he'd never catch up at this rate.  He didn't know which was worse, the incessant attentions of every Aes Sedai with a spark of curiosity, or the endless paperwork.  For the hundredth time he wondered why he hadn't passed some of his duties off to an Attack Leader.  Light knew he could use a little relief.  Then again, if he had less to tie him down at the Farm, he may never get away from Zarinen or her sisters.  He tested the knot of emotions in his mind, but the distance was too great to feel anything but a vague sense of direction.


A knock at his door drew his attention back to the present.  "Enter," he called. 


A Soldier poked his head through the doorway.  "Newcomer sir.  Just walked out of the woods trying to find us."


Arath frowned.  That had been happening more and more frequently as of late.  He supposed the secret had to get out sometime, but how was it that every farmhand in the world seemed to know exactly where to find the Farm?  The amnesty had been declared in Tear ... why did everyone come to Andor now?  It was a mystery, but one for another time.  Maybe.


Arath nodded to the Soldier, and the newcomer was quickly ushered in.  By the looks of him, he hadn't known exactly where to go.  He was pretty ragged looking, and appeared to have been travelling for quite some time.  It was hard to tell where this one was from at a quick glance.  Behind all the travel grime he could have been an Aiel for all Arath could see.


"I'm Storm Leader Arath Faringal," he said, motioning the new recruit to come forward.  "Welcome to the Black Tower.  So tell me, what's your story?"

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The sun had started on its descent along the western horzion as Baren was approached by a group of men in black coats. Some wore pins on their stiff collars, others nothing. He had no idea what they pins stood for, but he was able to guess that it meant some sort of rank seeing as how the ones with seemed in charge. Without much questioning, the led Baren the rest of the way into the farm. The place looked simple enough, with small buildings that emitted the smoke from chimneys that he had seen earlier. The smell of food cooking reminded him that he hadn't ate since the morning and his stomach growled in protest. He ignored it, along with the ache in his joints that nearly forced him to limp. The travel over the last few months had been hard, and now that he had arrived his fatigue wasn't allowing the weight of his new situation to fully sink in.



Baren stepped into the room at the man's gesture, self-consciously reaching up to brush a hand down the front of his dirty coat. His clothing was a light brown, which hid most of the stains well, but even so he looked like he'd had a rough journey. He eyed the man sitting at the desk opposite of him, deciding that nothing noticeable gave away that this man was one of the rumored monsters who lived here. Men who could channel. The thought alone made him gulp gently. Was he really ready to face this life? The man studied him a moment before introducing himself.


"I traveled here from Murandy... my name is Baren Katse. It took me the better of two months, with the sudden onset of winter. Times are hard for travel."


He spoke in a deep and even voice, showing that despite his current appearance that he was a man that possessed some sort of bearing. He didn't offer any more of an explanation, assuming that his mere presence told why he had come. Baren suppressed the questions that popped up into his mind, the doubts that often asked why he was doing this.

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Arath listened to Baren's short introduction, then waited silently for more. It didn't appear that more would be coming at the moment though, which was understandable. Many of the men who came here were trying to escape a painful past. Especially those who started channeling on their own.


Still, Arath would need a little more to work with. "Generally speaking, there are two kinds of men who come looking for this place. There are those who, through no fault of their own, have begun to channel. They see this place as their only hope. The other is the man who, Light only knows why, chooses this life for himself. "


Arath paused for a moment, letting the newcomer absorb that. "So which are you? Do you already know your fate?" He seized Saidin and channeled a small flame into the air above his desk. "Or do you need to be tested?"

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Baren's gray eyes took on a far off look as Arath described the two types of men who came to the Black Tower. He tried to imagine what he would have felt for himself if he had begun to channel on his own. What could have been the consequences then? His stomach clinched at the thought. But no, he was one of the latter. Men who chose, on their own will, to come here and find if they could be taken in. Again, that nagging doubt attempted to rear its ugly head in the back of his mind. He stamped it down. The Light might not know why he'd traveled this far for this life of damnation, but Baren did.




Baren's breath caught as a small flame suddenly appeared before Arath, hovering above the desk and casting a strange light back onto the man's face. He had never been around channeling before, and seeing the ease that Arath did so made him uneasy. Light, what have I gotten myself into?


Baren swallowed the lump in his throat and exhaled before he focused his eyes on Arath and answered in nearly a whisper. He had come too far to turn back now.


"I will need to be tested."

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"Very well."


Arath motioned the other man forward to the edge of the desk. "This test will awaken your ability if you can indeed learn to channel. Once you begin, there is no going back." A barely perceptible nod signaled agreement with those terms. "To channel requires singular focus. You will learn that in time, but for now concentrate on this flame. There is nothing but the flame. Feed all your doubts and fears into the flame and leave nothing to distract you."


The test didn't take as long as many did. After ten minutes Arath felt the echo in the flame, Baren's latent abilities awakening and unconsciously responding to Araths own channeling.


Arath quickly dismissed the flame and released Saidin. The sudden absence of the object of his attention seemed to startle Baren a little. "Congratulations," Arath told him, rising from his desk and moving to a closet on the side of the room. "Your winter journey was not made in vain." From the closet he retrieved a black wool coat much like his own the n turned around to give it to the new recruit. "You are now a Soldier of the Black Tower. Your life is now to be dedicated to The Lord Dragon, and your brothers here at the Farm. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask them. If not, the Soldier outside my door will take you to the inn for a hot meal before getting you settled into your barracks"

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Baren did as he was instructed.


Stepping closer to the edge of the table, reluctantly, he let the small flame fill his vision. His mind was clouded with thoughts. Doubt, fear, apprehension. He fed them to dancing ball of fire as it hovered, curling and flickering in on itself in almost a playful and inviting manner. Slowly, his mind emptied itself. The flame became the only object. A small pool of light surrounded my blackness. Thoughts were a distant thing, like an echo resounding from within a deep cavern. The flame was a part of him and he a part of it. He was the flame.


The world was still for what seemed to Baren a long while, and then suddenly, through the silence came a thumping. Like a gentle heartbeat. It was there in one instant and just as quickly gone as Arath extinguished the flame. Baren blinked as if startled, reflexively giving a small jolt as his attention was brought back to reality. He took a shuddering breath and found Arath's gaze on him before the man rose slowly while speaking. "Congratulations."


The word repeated itself in his mind, his head swimming as the weight of the moment pressed down upon him. He was a man that could channel. Light... Nari, forgive me. He balled his hands into fists to keep them from shaking, feeling himself suddenly light headed and nauseous. He gulped as bile burned at the back of his throat. He had come here with the hope of finding a new way of life and found it. But was he really prepared? He took the black wool coat from Arath as he offered it, his dirty hands clutching the fabric as he eyed it warily. It was like a symbol of what he would become. A weapon for the Lord Dragon.


Baren absently nodded his head. He turned, although it was a conscious movement. His body seemed to work purely on instinct as he was led out of the room by the man who had taken him here originally. The rest of the evening was a blur as he attempted to wrap his mind around what he had found out about himself on this evening. In a matter of minutes, his entire world had been turned on its head.


ooc: I think that should do for the intro thread? Thanks for the help Arath! :happy:

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