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First Steps on a New Path (attn. Myrrhi)


Elessar
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.. Forever lost in a Dance of the Blade  ..

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Elessar Telcontar, unbonded Warder of Kandor and veteran Gaidin of many years, was forever lost in a Dance of the Blade.

 

A soft eastern breeze blew through the Warders Yard that morning as the Borderlander went through the swordforms. In the calmness of the Void, the Gaidin felt detached from the world around him as he moved with experience and assurance. The sword was a part of him as he leapt to strike, bent to defend, went high and then low, moving from one form into another, slicing through the air with his blade and moving with agility and swift footwork to get his imaginary opponent off balance.

 

The morning sky was ocean-blue with only a few patches of clouds making an intermittent appearance in the horizon. A bird of prey floated on the winds far above, gazing down at the Aes Sedai island-city of Tar Valon in all its splendour there by the River Erinin. As it headed ever southwards on its long flight it focused its vision, for a moment, on the grand White Tower and the Warders Yard far below and on the figure of a Borderlander man and warrior there pushing himself through the motions in his deadly dance.

 

Stopping for a moment, Elessar caught his breath. To keep the edge one had to train again and again and again. No matter one’s experience or skill. There was always something which could be bettered. Always something to perfect. To gain that extra skill, that small but vital edge, which might be the difference between life and death in a given danger situation.

 

 

That had been his way ever since that time long ago in his youth - what almost felt like another lifetime ago - when he had decided that what he wanted for his life was to become a Warder of the White Tower. He had worked hard at excelling at everything he did ever since.

 

He was a man six foot three tall with a fairly dark complexion, short dark hair and hard dark eyes. He had a strong build (a result of hard physical training over many years) and also some battle-scars, most prominent was one across his abdomen. In fury over the death of his mother and his inability to prevent it, he had shaved off his forked beard (so common in Kandori men) long ago and had never re-grown it.

 

And I never will, he thought intently to himself not for the first time, as he readied himself for another spell.

 

 

Unfolding the Fan, the smooth opening move, which flowed into Low Wind Rising, a diagonal slash which began low and rose cleanly, followed by The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain, a vertical slash starting high and which in this case altered course in midswing, paired with Tower of Morning, a verticle slash but this time beginning low and ending high.

 

Combining forms in both traditional but also often innovative ways, using all his experience and skill,  he flowed in the movements of his dance, almost as if he were outside of time and space.

 

It was some time later, a time almost undefinable to him, that he came to a stop, sheathing his blade, breathing heavily after the exertion and using a towel to brush off some sweat from his upper body, that he discovered that a young-looking woman was watching him intently from not far away. She wore an Accepted’s dress, he saw, a white dress with seven bands of colour at hem and cuffs - the colours of the seven Ajahs, and had light brown hair and blue eyes that to the Warder bespoke of probable Andoran origin.

 

He did not think he had seen her before, but then again many Accepted visited the Warders Yard to enjoy the ..uhm.. swordskills on display. Throwing the towel to the side, Elessar faced her. His face was unreadable.

 

Meeting her eyes across the distance between them, he gave her a polite nod.

 

  ▀▄ 

 

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Myrrhi breathed in, breathed out, trying to compose herself. She shook her head, then advanced slowly towards the Warders Courtyard.

 

The place looked slightly familiar to her. In the past, she had often tried to hide herself in the dark, near that invisible border that separated the area where the warders dwelled from the one where the novices were allowed to wander. There, she had practiced with the One Power unattended, going against the Tower laws. Doing so, she had managed to get fascinating results, or at least results that a novice would think to be fascinating. It had not lasted though. After a couple of years, Jagen Sedai had managed to catch her red handed and had punished her quite severely for her foolishness. Thinking back about that unfortunate night, the young accepted nervously rubbed her hands against each other. She had felt so guilty and worthless afterwards that she had sworn to herself that she would never break those laws again.

 

Stop thinking about the past !, Myrrhi told herself. Those memories were not helping her feeling better. It was more the opposite. Her stomach felt as hard as stone and her cheeks like fire.

 

Let's try something else, she thought, looking around. She tried to find strength in the morning sun and the soft breeze that played with the shortest strands of her hair.


It had been a while since she'd had the time to get out of the Tower proper. Most of her time had been shared between classes, the ones she followed and the ones she gave, studies and chores.  Being outdoor had been something she had been looking forward to. And this was a beautiful day. She should have taken full advantage of it but her mind was too busy, full of questions about battles, channeling, duty and the Ajahs. She was one of the youngest accepted but she already wanted to find to what Ajah she belonged. Of that piece of information depended much, like the topics she should specialize in. She didn’t want to spoil the time she had at hand in useless studies.

 

***

 

And, there it is! The Warders Courtyard... Myrrhi took the time to brush her spotless white dress and to arrange her hair before going forward. It was a very silly gesture, she had to admit. No one paid attention to the way the accepted looked as long as their faces and dresses were clean but she couldn't resist that urge that pushed her to be at her best when interacting with other Tower members. It was a good training for the future, when she would be a fully raised Sister.

 

It was strange to see so many men around. Some of them were fighting in what looked to be small arenas or practicing with bows while some others were watching. They all seemed very focused except maybe for the youngest ones who were laughing while pointing at each other. A couple of Aes Sedai were further away on the side of the yard, chatting . As expected, they were the first ones to react to Myrrhi’s presence. The young accepted decided not to pay attention to the Sisters. She would greet them later but they were not the ones she wanted to talk to. She wanted to talk to a Warder, as silly as that might have looked.

 

Now, to whom will I ask my questions? It can't be one of the new ones. Those won't probably be able to help me... Myrrhi bit her lower lip. On the left, a group of men were having some kind of break in their training. They were having a deep conversation about fighting it seemed, since they were doing all kind of gestures with their hands and arms. The accepted made a step towards them but stopped in her tracks. There were way too many. She wanted to be taken seriously and she was sure she would feel very uncomfortable if she had to talk to a whole group of strangers.

 

So, I need one older warder who is all by himself. Myrrhi nodded and looked around once more. She didn't find such a man near her so she moved to the bottom of the field. As she was getting more frustrated, she started to mumble. Why on earth have they decided to be in flocks today?

 

***

 

Myrrhi was ready to go back to the Tower, when she found what or maybe ... who she was looking for. A warder, practicing alone. Her heart started to beat so fast that she thought it would jump out of her chest. The man looked very impressive, practicing one sword form after the other. He was dark, tall, focused, the very image of what a warder should be. He must know, he must have answers to my questions! I am sure! The accepted tried not to giggle and advanced to a closer spot in a hurry. There, she patiently waited for the gaidin to be done, looking intently at his every moves and thinking about the way an opponent should react to them. She would not have liked to be that opponent. The man looked so strong and so precise that he would surely be deadly to any man who dared to start a fight with him.

 

Slowly, she lost herself in her thoughts and almost jumped when her eyes met the man's. He nodded to her and she felt her cheeks burn even more than before.

 

It took her sometime to react. She felt paralyzed. It was only a couple of minutes later when she saw  the warder grabbing some of the equipment he had left on the side that she was able to move again. She rushed at his side, pulling up her skirts to move faster. No, she would NOT let him get away before talking to him!

 

"Excuse me, Gaidin, Sir, ... " Myrrhi nervously started. "I am Myrrhi Morrigen. I am an Accepted... as you can obviously see". She tried to smile.

 

"I h-have some questions for you... it is for my studies... you understand? Well those are not questions for you specifically... those are questions to be asked to a warder... "

 

The young woman bit her lip again and started to panic. Why can't I talk? He will think I am a complete goose!

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.. A Meeting of Questions and Answers ..

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"Excuse me, Gaidin, Sir, ... " She began. "I am Myrrhi Morrigen. I am an Accepted... as you can obviously see". He thought he saw a tentative smile on her face. "I h-have some questions for you... " She continued. "It is for my studies... you understand? Well those are not questions for you specifically... those are questions to be asked to a warder... "

 

She seemed to him somewhat flustered, but that was not that surprising, considering. He was an imposing, older Warder-figure with a somewhat hard facial expression. She had probably not spoken to many Warders before, he surmised, and she wanted to make sure he understood that she was serious, that she had a real inquiry that she needed his help with. Not all young women of the White Tower who visited the Warders Yard had similar intentions. Some had ‘studies’ of a different kind in mind.

 

A little earlier, when he had noticed her and nodded politely, she had remained silent where she was. From where he had stood he thought her face had seemed a bit flushed, but he could well have been mistaken. He had spent a couple of minutes collecting his things, grabbing some of the equipment he had left on the side, gazing - with silent approval but also some amusement - across the Yard at the Warder trainees practicing swordfighting in small arenas or training with bows of different sizes. He had been about to head back toward his quarters in the Warder Barracks when the young-looking woman had approached him, stopping at his side.

 

 

Looking more closely at her now, he saw that his first estimation was probably correct. She is definetly from Andor. During his many years of travel, in service of the White Tower, with his former Aes Sedai bondholders, he had learned first hand about different cultures, etiquettes, traditions, lands and the people who inhabited them. He had been in Caemlyn several times and also in other parts of Andor, and her complexion, hair and eyes spoke of Andor.

 

For some reason thinking about Andor made him think of Old Celter. That charming old man - a slightly quirky but good-natured and kind Caemlyn shop-owner who, like Elessar, had a great passion for history - whom he had met on several occasions on previous journeys in the lands. He had not thought of him in a long while. Old Celter’s greatest passion had been Andoran history and especially the ‘Andoran Succession’. Thinking back for a moment, Elessar could almost hear the old man’s captivating voice speaking, like whispers on the wind..

 

“..The First Queen, revered Ishara”, Old Celter had spoken, “only had a daughter left alive after her sons died and so she became her heir. She in turn also was left with only a daughter many years later and so her throne was passed to another woman and queen. In time this became Andoran law and ever since only Queens have ruled Andor..”

 

 

 

Ishara Casalain, by Name and Deed

The Crown of Andor, she Gained

Protected the Lion Throne, in Need

Her Bloodline, Pure and Unstained

 

 

 

A small smile came upon his lips, for several reasons, but it was almost undetectable. He gave her a respectful Warder’s bow. “I am Elessar”. He said somewhat formally as was his way. “Pleased to meet you, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen“.

 

His eyes softened slightly in a kind way, though no one would have called his gaze soft, as he added: “Questions, you say?“ A slight pause. “I cannot guarrantee that I can give you satisfactory answers.”  

 

His eyes met hers squarely.

 

“But I will answer what I can.“

 

  ▀▄ 

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Thanks to the Warder's reassuring words, Myrrhi managed to gain back some composure. The man had not laughed at her and was ready to answer her questions. Sighing, she looked at her toes, trying to relax further. She thought about the rosebud exercise she had used as a Novice to find the inner calm that she needed to channel. It had been a while since she had needed it, but it seemed to be a good way to master her emotions. She thought of herself a wild flower growing in a field near Andor, her birthplace. She concentrated on the rays of the sun that were warming her and imagined herself opening to their warmth. She felt herself getting closer and closer to Saidar but she didn't went as far as to channel. The Aes Sedai she had seen before would certainly feel it and come to ask her embarrassing questions about what she was doing.

 

The exercise had helped her. She noticed she was not as scared as before.

 

She cleared her throat and answered. "I thank you Elessar Gaidin."

 

Pushing one strand of loose hair behind her ear, she went on. "I happen to read a very interesting novel a couple of days ago. It was about the Age of Legends." Before the Warder could react, she added. "It contained very interesting ideas. Like the one about those people who could channel and fight with weapons or in hand to hand combat. My first question is : what do you think of it? Have you encountered Aes Sedai who could do it all?"

 

The Accepted nearly bit her tongue. She had asked two questions instead of one. A couple of minutes earlier, she would probably have panicked and apologized. Now, she simply looked at the Warder's body language to see his reaction and was quickly reassured.

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.. Past and Present: Lost in Memories  ..

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After a few, long moments, she said: "I thank you Elessar Gaidin."

 

To Elessar she appeared more composed, more in control of herself. Her voice sounded more confident as she voiced her questions. She said that she had happened to read a very interesting novel a couple of days before, it had been about the Age of Legends. She quickly added that the novel had contained very interesting ideas; like the one about people who could channel and fight with weapons or by hand to hand combat. She wondered what he thought of it? And added a question, if he had encountered Aes Sedai who could do it all?

 

Elessar was silent for a while as he considered her questions and his possible answers. His body-language was relaxed, as far as a Warder’s stance could ever be called relaxed that is, and it seemed to calm the young Accepted by his side.

 

There was so much he could say on this topic; he had gained knowledge and experience over many years. He looked away for a moment, into the far distance, before answering.

 

 

Ah, Leandreen. How would you, who could almost do it all, have answered this young woman?

 

He closed his eyes momentarily - and as so often happened when thinking about his first bondholder there were conflicting emotions: joy but also pain in his soul, pride but also sorrow in his heart. And shame.

 

Always the shame of his personal failure.

 

Unbidden memories came to the fore..

 

Leandreen, vibrant with life, emerald green eyes flashing with excitement, as he rode at her side on one of their many missions for the Tower, in their eternal fight against the Shadow.. Her raised eyebrows when he asked her things Aes Sedai were reluctant to reveal.. Her kind smile when he, her loyal companion on the road of many years, supported her in the presence of others even when they both knew she was in the wrong..

 

Her empty eyes as she stared into nothingness… death having claimed her at the hand of darkfriends..

 

He, her Warder, her Protector. His failure at saving her as he had promised he would, tearing him apart..

 

My life before yours..

 

Oh Leandreen. Forgive me.

 

 

Opening his eyes, a few moments later, he pushed those memories aside and refocused on the Accepted’s questions.

 

Turning to face her again, he replied. "I have a passion for books and history and have read the novel you mention". He said. "I think it is an entertaining book with some interesting ideas, as long as one understands that it is fiction. Very little knowledge, or documented history, exists from the Age of Legends as far as I know". He added. "What Gleemen and Bards speak of in songs, poetry and verse, and what writers include in novels depicting ancient times, is often myth if you could call it that".

 

"Still, myth - in my experience - can be just as fascinating". He paused, letting his words sink in.

 

"That men and women channelers and warriors fought in battles and wars long, long ago I do not doubt though", he went on. "As an eager student of history I know that war has defined the Ages since the beginning and some of what ends up as myth often has roots in truth. Battle-Queens of note there have been in history, also among the Aes Sedai".

 

"As for hand to hand combat and other combat techniques, we train our men and women to become proficient in those today. It may be that some combat skills were even greater back in that Age", he added, "that some battle techniques have been lost in time, but proficiency in combat is still strong today, as we know full well here at the Warders".

 

His gaze returned to the practicing men and women further down the Warders Yard, as if they were proof of his generous praise of Warder combat-skills.

 

 

There was silence for a few moments. The soft breeze ruffled his short dark hair and without thinking he touched the old battlescar across his abdomen.

 

Then the Kandori Warder faced the young Accepted again. His voice was slightly changed when he spoke, as if what he was now saying was more personal to him.

 

"You asked if I have encountered Aes Sedai who could do it all?

 

Nodding to himself, he remembered. "One of my bondholders was very adamant that I understand that no Aes Sedai is omnipotent. However arrogant, determined and strong in the One Power a Sister may seem, she said, she is only as strong as her weakest point. There is always a danger in overreaching".

 

"Leandreen was her name".

 

He paused, studying the Accepted’s face to see if she took offence from his words. It was difficult to read the young woman’s reaction. She kept her feelings to herself.

 

"Even so", he went on, "she was a strong channeler - and she also was a decent fighter with combat weapons, particularly the sword. She felt having some combat-skills was an added protection and wise for Sisters in Battle. Not many Aes Sedai saw the use or necessity of being able to use a sword, she told me, since they had the One Power to protect them and, often, Warders."

 

"So fairly few Aes Sedai learned combat-skills from Warders; and according to her some Sisters even scorned those who insisted on learning. But she did not care. ‘Let them!’, I remember she said defiantly to me one night, her emerald eyes glittering dangerously in her slightly oval face, her fiery hair streaming behind her, before she started to laugh hard with glee.. I joined in her laughter", he added with a touch of mirth, "caught up in the moment.."

 

The pleasant memory discarded the darker ones for a moment, as his voice stilled. A small grin of reminiscence came upon his lips. As more memories floated back in his mind, the darkness upon his soul soon returned, however.

 

"She was of the Green, my first Sedai", he ended proudly but also with sadness, "a true Battle Ajah-Sister. Valiant and fiery, burning with life.. She fought the Shadow ‘till the end, as she had always promised she would.."

 

Leandreen.

 

His hands clenched slightly, though he was almost unaware of it, and his eyes tightened as he tried to keep his inner pain, his personal darkness, at bay.

 

He was only partially successful.

 

  ▀▄ 

 

Edited by Elessar
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When Elessar mentioned that he had a passion for books and history, Myrrhi couldn't help but blush. She had never met someone who was ready to admit such things, beside the Sisters of the Brown Ajah of course. Amongst the Novices and the Accepted, there were only very few girls who wanted to show themselves as focused on their studies. Myrrhi had been mocked for it so many times .

 

Her cheeks didn't immediately return to their original colour as the man also admitted that he had read the same novel as her. She was ready to find ways to criticize it, thinking that he would probably have hated it when he started to depict it in a more neutral way. She pinched herself not to smile and decided to hold her tongue. Better to wait for him to give a full answer to her question than to make a fool of herself. What he told her made sense, maybe more sense than some of the lessons she had had so far. He seemed to believe that everything could be possible for her, would she put enough effort into it. Of course, becoming a battle queen of the past was out of reach ...but she could learn.

 

The Warder's mood suddenly seemed to become darker. His eyes were fixed on the courtyard's wall and Myrrhi shivered not knowing exactly why at first. The man started to talk about his previous bond holder. She had such a beautiful name. Leandreen. The name of a novel heroine. The girl felt guilty for pronouncing it in her head. It was as if she didn't have the right to tell it, even to herself. She went on listening to Elessar.

 

A sentence stuck to her mind "However arrogant, determined and strong in the One Power a Sister may seem, she is only as strong as her weakest point. There is always a danger in overreaching". Immediately, Myrrhi felt guilty. For now, getting better at channeling, getting more power, being the first in the class had been something very important to her. So important that it had kept her awake at nights. Maybe, she had to open herself to something else? To excel at everything was maybe not a good life purpose?

 

As the Warder closed his mouth, showing that he was done answering her first questions, sadness started to fill Myrrhi's heart. She saw him clenching his fist and understood that answering her had brought him pain. That had not been her intention. How could she have been so foolish to ask questions to someone she didn't know? She should have been more careful! Biting her lower lip, she tried to find a way to distract him, hoping it would help him forget his bad memories at least for a few seconds.

 

And there she found it! She placed a trembling hand on the man's arm. He was so warm and his muscles were so tensed. It was so strange to touch someone who was not another Novice or Accepted. She asked him : "Is that your dagger?" She tried to show a small smile.

 

The Warder, surprised, shook slightly his head. " Yes," he answered, confused.

 

"Can I have it?" Myrrhi felt warm all over. The man was very impressive and she was not sure he had appreciated to be touched. "Just to hold it, mind you. Not to kill you with it." The Accepted giggled then mentally face palmed herself at her own foolishness. A warder was not supposed to appreciate jokes! She had seen that in a class last week!

 

The man handed her the dagger that he had been holding with the other pieces of equipment he had grabbed earlier. It was a simple dagger, with a pommel in the shape of a thick circle. The leather bands around the hilt seemed to have been recently replaced. Myrrhi was a bit uncomfortable with the weapon size. For a long time, for her, daggers had been supposed to be small, a bit like knives. In reality, they were all longer than her forearm. This one was no exception.

 

As soon as Myrrhi had it in her hands, she tried to balance it on her forefinger, just like she had read people would do in books. She placed it so her forefinger would be right under the connection between the blade and the hilt. It was supposed to be a way to see if the weapon was balanced. Half a second later, the dagger fell on the floor. Of course, this is a training dagger! It is not supposed to be balanced! Myrrhi thought as she remembered that in training weaponry the balance of the weapon was on the top of the blade. It was the best way to build skills and strength.

 

"I am so sorry", said Myrrhi as she went down on her knees to grab the dagger.

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.. Another Dagger in the Heart  ..

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His thoughts were afflicted with his painful memories.. and he had to collect himself. Focusing on the Flame and the Void, that detached state often reached by Warders where he came into tune with all his senses, he slowly re-attained his equilibrium, pushing his inner pain to the side.

 

His attention was brought back when the young Accepted put a tentative hand on his arm. The hand was trembling and Elessar realized that she must have felt his tenseness, perhaps also some of his inner pain and anxiety, and he feared that he might have unsettled her. Calmer now inside he tried to relax his muscles somewhat, hoping she would become calmer as well, and refocused on her.

 

"Is that your dagger?" She asked him of a sudden. She tried to show a small smile and seemed to him a little less edgy. She was indicating a long dagger among the equipment he had grabbed earlier. Elessar, taken by surprise, gave a slight shake of his head. "Yes," he answered, somewhat confused. "Can I have it?" She asked. "Just to hold it, mind you. Not to kill you with it." The Accepted giggled - an impulse of youth, he thought - and Elessar was hard pushed not to grin at her comment. Though often serious in nature, he enjoyed good jokes and humour. Warders were not as stone-hearted as some thought. Not all of the time anyway.

 

Wordlessly he handed her the dagger. It was a simple dagger, but of good Murandian workmanship, with a pommel in the shape of a thick circle. The leather bands around the hilt had recently been replaced due to tear and wear. It wasn’t a weapon he often used, in truth, but it could be handy in a close combat situation and it was prudent of him to practice with it at times. He had brought it with him this day because he had neglected practicing with it for a long period, having focused on other weaponry.

 

Perhaps she had read about daggers in books or had seen Warders or trainees practice with them here in the Yard. Perhaps his story of Leandreen had inspired this young Accepted to get a feel for a weapon. Perhaps she was a Green Ajah, Battle Ajah-Sister in the making.. For whatever reason, she showed great interest in the weapon, her blue eyes shining with seeming eagerness. He watched her carefully, keeping safety in mind, as she tried to balance it on her forefinger. She placed it so her forefinger would be right under the connection between the blade and the hilt. Abruptly the dagger shifted and fell to the ground.

 

"I am so sorry", said Myrrhi as she went down on her knees to grab the dagger.

 

 

Elessar reacted instantly, knelt down swiftly and holding onto her arms helped the young woman back to her feet. He took the dagger carefully away from her, giving her a mildly lopsided grin as he said wryly: "I’ll take that. Balancing different kind of weapons needs some practice as you can see. Best I keep hold of this dagger, just in case: we wouldn’t want you to stab me in the heart with it, no.." She blushed again though he pretended not to notice, hoping his attempt at humour in the situation would lessen her embarassment over her perceived clumsiness somewhat.

 

Looking closely at the dagger as he put it away, gave him an idea. "You know, talking about daggers and stabbing.. reminds me of a fun story. I remember hearing it performed by a gleeman in the South some time back. In Ebou Dar in fact." He grabbed all his weapon-equipment again and walked with her towards some slabs of huge stones over by the courtyard wall where they could seat themselves and talk in relative quiet.

 

"It concerns Altaran Marriage Knives." He continued as they were finally seated. The breeze had picked up and more clouds were slowly filling up the sky. Perhaps there would be rain later, he thought. His eyes shifted from the heavens above to focus on her again. "A more interesting topic than one might assume. You see, they have some very peculiar customs down there. The knife their women carry tells any who care to look a great deal about the wearer. A white sheath means the woman is widowed and does not intend to remarry. A blue sheath means she will consider offers. Jewels or glass beads set into the knife represent children of the wearer, white stones for sons and red for daughters. And they love their duels.” He went on. “If a child dies in a duel he or she has died honourably, they believe. However, many women remove their children’s stones, effectively disowning them, if they refuse a duel past the age of sixteen.”

 

“Strange notions of honour they have indeed, the Ebou Dari.” There was undisguised mirth in his voice now. “Though there are many strange customs around the world, and I have experienced many, this must surely be one of the weirder ones.” He added. ”A fellow Borderlander Gaidin once, when we came upon the subject, stated flatly that the Ebou Dari are insane.” A small chuckle escaped his lips and he thought he saw the young Accepted grin for a moment.

 

Elessar was momentarily distracted by a commotion among some of the trainees down the Yard, a spirited sword-duel was taking place in a small arena surrounded by many enthusiastic spectators, but soon his attention was back on the story at hand.

 

”Though it’s been a while, I remember well this gleeman’s voice” , Elessar said reminiscing, ”as he spun his satirical tale of the ‘doomed’ Ebou Dari husband, and his traditional Ebou Dari wife..”

 

The Warder’s voice softened, taking on a performer’s sonance, and his eyes took on a faraway-look as he told the comedic poem to the young Accepted, a rapt listener..

 

 

►▼◄

 

A Dagger in my Heart

 

A dagger for you, my Dear

Now that our wedding day is Here

If I displease you, stab me True

I’ll be dead, but I’ll still love You!

 

You fought for me well, as you Vowed

Your dueling scars make me Proud

There’s no other lady for Me

You’re everything I’d want to Be!

 

A duel is good for the Soul

Teach our children to fight, it’s their Role

And should they be weak, without Spine

Disown them, they’ll tarnish our Line!

 

Oh love, stick the dagger in my Heart

Your strength makes me proud for a Start

I am sure I’ll deserve this Rest

An Ebou Dari man at his Best!

 

►▲◄

 

  ▀▄ 

 

Edited by Elessar
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The poem Elessar recited surprised Myrrhi. She fully enjoyed it, trying to picture its story in her mind ... a proud Ebou Dari man proclaiming his love for an elegant woman wearing her colorful dress and petticoats. For a while, she forgot who she was and where she was, only the story existed. Led by it, she wondered whether she'd also have scars from her future fights. She smiled at the idea. Would a man find those beautiful? Pink came to her cheeks.

 

After the last words of the poem were said, she brought her hands together as if to applaud the performance of a skilled gleeman. Her eyes met the banded hem of her sleeves and she stopped her gesture just on time. What am I doing? Applauding a Warder... Me, an Accepted! I should be ashamed of myself. The man had been so nice to her - answering her questions, taking her seriously, helping her back on her feet when she had gotten down to grab his dagger - that it had become hard for Myrrhi to keep her mind straight. No one, except Myrrhi's few friends had behaved so kindly to her. It felt strange. But it didn't mean that she could consider the man as an equal. Never would she have dared to applaud a fully raised Sister in the Tower, so she was not supposed to applaud a Gaidin, either.

 

She sighed. She had to admit to herself, though, that it was impossible for her to get back to the confused and fearful way she had behaved when introducing herself to Elessar. So, she decided to find a middle path. Instead of applauding, she simply turned her head toward the man sitting beside her, smiling. She knew her cheeks were flushed and her eyes shining with merriment but she didn't apologize for it.

 

"I have never heard someone reciting a poem, Elessar Gaidin" she confessed. To use the Warder's title help her to focus on keeping her place as an Accepted. "I thank you for it. This one was just extraordinary."

 

She made a small pause, hesitating about what she should say next. I don't think he'll mind me adding something to explain why I enjoyed the poem so much,  she thought before going on. "I entered the Tower when I was sixteen. Before I came here, my mother didn't let me much out of the house. And, the few times she allowed me to accompany her to visit inns ...", she laughed nervously. "It was definitely not to listen to gleemen."

 

It was hard for the girl not to feel bitter about her past. She still dreamed about what she had had to do as a teenager, about the plans her mother had had for her, about her sisters. She had never received any kind of news from home since her arrival even though she had sent many letters to her siblings and she felt guilty about it. Her mother had probably married the little ones to rich men in her stead. They were probably living very far from Andor now. Maybe they had forgotten about their elder sister? It was hard to know. The first thing she'd do as a full raised Aes Sedai would be to find them. Myrrhi ached to tell them how much she loved them and cared about them, even if she was far away.

 

Myrrhi bit her lower lip, as she often did when she was feeling uncomfortable, and shook her head. She didn't want her somber mood to taint her day.

 

"I would also like to visit Ebou Dar. I wonder how the Ebou Dari women can fight duels with their dresses. " She laughed at the image she painted in her mind.

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.. A Path leading From Ebou Dar to Kandor  ..

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As the last words of the poem drifted away like whispers on the wind, Elessar smiled inwardly. He loved that poem, thought it one of the best comedic, satirical pieces he had come across. Also he was pleased that the young Accepted woman by his side looked to him as if she had truly enjoyed the story. This was confirmed when, smiling at him, with her cheeks somewhat flushed and eyes shining with merriment, she complimented him on the poem and on his recital. Using his formal title in respect, she told him that she had never in fact heard anyone reciting a poem before. "I thank you for it." She said earnestly. "This one was just extraordinary."

 

He gave her a slight bow in thanks, showing his appreciation of her words. "You are welcome, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen", he said with mirrored formality. "Glad you enjoyed the story. It is one of the best of its kind, I would say - excellent satire."

 

There was a silence then, as they were both lost in their own thoughts. Elessar gazed across the Yard at a couple of trainees, noticing their rather poor swordforms. They were probably new recruits, he thought, they looked quite young and inexperienced. They would gain in skill with practice. Much practice. And time. Then the young woman broke the silence and his attention shifted back to her.

 

"I entered the Tower when I was sixteen." She said. Elessar listened attentively as she spoke on. She explained that before she came here, her mother didn’t let her much out of the house. And, the few times her mother allowed her to accompany her to visit inns, it was definetly not to listen to gleemen. A nervous laughter at the end from the young woman, coupled with her biting her lower lip in apparent unease, made the Warder wonder what more lay behind her story.. but he did not want to pry, out of respect for her. We all have our stories, our dark secrets. He thought to himself. It is always a personal choice what we decide to share with others.

 

 

Elessar thought about what she had said and that in turn made him think about his own youth, many many years ago in the Borderlands. It felt as if that had been another man. And another life.

 

Then the Accepted added, that she would also like to visit Ebou Dar. "I wonder how the Ebou Dari women can fight duels with their dresses", she said with laughter as if the notion amused her greatly.

 

"I am sure they find a way." Elessar replied with mirth. "Ebou Dari women are indeed dominant. It is even said", he added as if the idea was preposterous, "that in many situations Ebou Dari women have the right to kill a man unquestioned." He chuckled. "And those Marriage Knives I mentioned, they also apparently serve as an easy method of disciplining their men. It is almost a wonder there are still men left in Altara, never mind Ebou Dar." He shook his head, wondering - as he had done many times before - how people coped with, and adapted to, such extreme customs. But, in truth, he knew the answer. When you were confronted with a set of local customs from an early age you got used to them and did not question them when you grew older. It was just the way of things.

 

 

"In the Borderlands our women are also strong." He said then. "They have to be, everyone has to be, to survive so close to the Blight, with the constant threat of the Shadow. But strong in a different way." Since she had shared some of her past he felt it right to share some of his. It felt only natural. "Kandor was my homeland, so I grew up in the Borderlands." He said. "My father was a hard man, he demanded a lot.. but he wanted the best for me, wanted me to succeed.. as a soldier.. I was young when he started weapon’s training with me and hard physical training.. and in time, I started to enjoy it."

 

It had been a painful journey for a young Borderlander man, in many ways, and he had some harsh memories from that time, but it had also formed him into the young man who later had left to become a Warder in the White Tower.

 

He waited a moment before continuing. "I was around seventeen of age when I decided to become a Warder and left for Tar Valon.. to my father’s great pride. My mother had her reservations, but she understood that this what was I wanted and so supported me. Where better to excel at swordplay, and become a force against the Shadow, than among the fabled Gaidin of the White Tower? I was young and did not know.." He said thoughtfully, almost like a whisper. "Even so, it gave me purpose in life.. and more than I could ever dream of."

 

 

Sadness and joy. Triumphs and loss. Life and death.

 

 

The Kandori have a saying: ‘Brave is the man who walks in Light and Shadow’

 

They have another saying: ‘Only a fool believes Courage triumphs over Prudence’

 

  ▀▄ 

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When Elessar started to talk about his youth in Kandor, Myrrhi tried to summon in her mind all she had studied about the place. It wasn't much. She had had a couple of lessons about the country but not enough to really picture its inhabitants. She knew that Kandor was between Saldea and Arafel. She knew that it traded furs, more than any other products. And, as the Warder said, she knew that its people were strong, like most of the other Borderlanders. She felt soft, hearing about the man's past. No one she knew had ever trained as a soldier in his or her youth. Would she have stayed in Andor, she would probably never have thought about fighting nor about the Blight. The life was peaceful there compared to other places.

 

Myrrhi smiled when Elessar explained how his parents had supported him. She wished she had had parents like that. Maybe she would have had more confidence in herself and her abilities?

 

More clouds had made their appearance in the sky. Myrrhi shivered. She had grown accustomed to the sun warmth and now it was hidden. She sighed and looked around her, once more. The courtyard was getting quiet. The Accepted knew that it would not last long. Some of the Warders who had been training had joined the ones who had been watching them, to discuss their fighting techniques. Some others, the youngest ones, had left the training ground probably to join a class. In a moment, new fighters would replace the ones who had taken a break. The Aes Sedai who had been watching the Warders were still there, standing straight behind one of the many fences of the yard. Myrrhi knew that they would not go back to the Tower any time soon. Their eyes were focused on the men in front of them but the Accepted felt that they were also paying attention to her every move.

 

I should be careful, thought the girl. Everything I do here will be reported. I should try not to stay too long. Indeed, she was the only Accepted around. Her few friends were getting ready for their next morning class or taking care of chores. Myrrhi had duties on her own, and she'd have to go very soon. She still had some questions, though. It was important for her to ask them today, she didn't know if she'd manage to get enough to courage to come back. Talking to Elessar again didn't seem to be a problem to her, but she was not sure he'd want to talk to her again. Finding another Warder to talk to could be hard. He'd have to be as interesting as the Kandori...

 

She stood up, as if to show that she was ready to leave and turned her back to the Sisters. Elessar stood up himself. He nodded to her as if to show her that he had understood why she had abandoned the slab of stone they had been sitting on.

 

"I have another question", she said passing a hand through the strands of hair that had fallen around her face. "As a Channeler, what weapon do you think I ..." Myrrhi immediately corrected herself  "I mean, an Aes Sedai, should be able to fight with?"

 

She hoped the Warder would not mention weapons like bows or pole arms. She didn't to picture herself bearing an axe either.

 

Myrrhi looked again towards the Aes Sedai. This time, one had pointed towards her. It would soon be time to go.

 

 

 

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.. Borderlander Pride & An Interest in Weaponry ..

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Speaking to the Accepted about Kandor, one of the four Borderland nations, brought back many memories for Elessar.

 

Though he had over the years made Tar Valon, City of the Aes Sedai, his new home, the White Tower and his service his cause, serving and protecting his Sedai and bondholder his mission in life, his allegiance and love for his homeland Kandor would always remain. He would always be a Borderlander - and he was proud of his heritage.

 

Since the young woman appeared interested in the topic, he told her some more about his homeland and origins. "Kandor is an old nation", he said, almost with an historian’s eye. "It was formed early in the War of the Hundred Years, when the governors of Hawkwing's five northern provinces met and agreed to form stable nations to preserve the peace and defend against the Blight.” He mentioned some of its special customs and traditions, then went on to describe the region he came from. His family’s estate was situated just outside the Kandori city of Canluum, a medium sized city that was walled, with a wide dry moat surrounding, crossed by five bridges. The people of Canluum had always taken pride in the fact that although Myrddraal Shadowspawn had struck as far south and further, none had ever made it inside the city walls. Elessar and his family had shared in this pride.

 

 

"Like all Kandori", he ended with undisguised pride, "we have staunchily been fighting the Shadow, and all it stands for, as long as anyone remembers."

 

 

The young woman’s smile indicated that she had appreciated the telling. Coming from peaceful Andor he guessed that hearing about Borderland-life and strife close to the Blight, lands touched by the Shadow, might well be strange and perhaps almost surreal to her.. to say the least. She would probably have learned a little about the Borderlands in class, he thought, but it was surely different hearing it from someone with first hand knowledge.

 

More clouds had made their appearance in the sky and, as Elessar had guessed some time earlier, rain would soon be on the horizon. He saw that the Accepted started shivering as the breeze got colder with the changing weather and he thought that it would soon be time to break up their conversation. She probably had classes to attend and other chores to do, he presumed. The young woman looked around her, once more. Time was getting on.

 

Gazing about, Elessar saw that the Yard was getting quiet. Most of the training in the arenas had stopped and the tired, young  recruits were being replaced by new, ‘fresh’ ones. Warder classes would soon continue, both inside and out, under the careful watch of teachers and assistants. Elessar saw some Aes Sedai standing in clusters, behind arena-fences, talking and watching the men. Probably Greens, the Warder thought with an inward grin. They were often around, looking with relish for potential ‘victims’ .. uhm.. Warders.. to bond, or simply enjoying watching the muscled young men in energetic training. Some things never change. Elessar thought wryly. Some things never will.

 

 

The Accepted appeared to become a little restless where she sat and Elessar waited, respectfully, to see if she had any more questions before she had to leave. She then stood up and Elessar got to his feet beside her, giving her a quick nod. She faced him, passing a hand through the strands of hair that had fallen around her face, and said that she had another question for him.

 

She wondered as a Channeler.. as an Aes Sedai, she said.. what weapon he thought that one should be able to fight with?

 

Elessar nodded again, this time to himself. Her question confirmed the great interest she had shown when he had explained about Leandreen Sedai’s choice to learn to use a weapon in combat, and informed her that some Aes Sedai, especially some of the Green Ajah - since they were the ones who might have most need of weapons being at the forefront in combat - did use weapons as well.

 

"For those Aes Sedai, mostly some Green Sisters, who choose to learn to wield a weapon in combat," he explained carefully, "the choice of weapon can, of course, vary. Some weapons demand great strength, for example battle-axes, and are therefore not often used by women in battle. Others, like the (long)bow, require much practice and technique to master. The same goes for the quarterstaff. Most often, from what I know, the Sister therefore learns the basics of wielding a sword, a long dagger or a battle-knife in combat." She listened with eagerness, he saw, her eyes and face showing clear interest and excitement when he spoke of the weaponry.

 

"Borderlander-women", he added, not coincidentally, "are often trained with the sword from an early age, since they often join the men in defending their homeland against danger. They can become quite ferocious in battle", he said with a dark grin, ", as their enemies can attest to, but so can Sisters of the Green.."

 

He looked at the young woman and nodded kindly. He understood that it was time for her to go.

 

"Did that answer your question, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen?"

 

  ▀▄ 

 

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"It did, Elessar Gaidin," the young Accepted replied. "I have to say that it also brought even more questions." She smiled before nervously biting her lower lip, once more. She knew that it had become a very bad habit. She would never be raised as a full Sister if she went on showing out her emotions like that. She would also have to learn all those 100 weaves and to be certain that her choice of Ajah was the best right one. But this didn't scare her as much as the way she behaved when others were around. She remembered the class she had had a couple of days ago about the basic combat weaves. Would she have been alone, she would have managed to weave them all perfectly after an hour. Her fear of the full Sisters, her fear to show herself as a silly girl, her fear to fail in front of the other students had had a very bad influence on the way she had woven the required threads. Later that day, she had trained on her own. What she had been managed to do then had been of such a quality that it couldn't have been compared to what she had done during  the class. I am sure the same will happen with the next lesson. She sighed.

 

"I think I will have to go back to the Tower....", she said. It was hard for her to say goodbye. On one hand, she wanted to stay right where she was, to go forward with that strangely enjoyable conversation. But, on another hand she knew that she would get into trouble if she didn't get back to the Tower proper in the coming quarter of an hour. Already, she was getting late for her first morning appointment. Deana Sedai was surely waiting for her in the library, with that big pile of books that needed to be sorted. Even if Deana treated Myrrhi as her protégée - it was the Brown Sister who had freed the girl from her mother and brought her to the Tower - she would not appreciated to see Myrrhi arriving later than expected. Would she decide to keep the Accepted longer to make up for her belated arrival, Myrrhi would get into trouble with that other Sister from the Red Ajah that she was supposed to meet next, for a lesson about male channelers. And those troubles would certainly mean a visit to the Mistress of the Novices. Myrrhi shivered picturing the small Saldean woman glaring at her.

 

Should I ask him whether or not he'd agree to see me again? Myrrhi wondered. She looked around one more time and felt very rude for doing it. She wanted to keep her eyes on the Warder but she didn't fell at ease with the Aes Sedai in her back. Myrrhi was happy to see that they had not moved. They were still at the exact same spot, their attention back on the men training. Am I being paranoid? Were they paying attention to me? Or was I wrong? It is so hard to know with them. Even if Myrrhi thought that she may have been paranoid about the whole situation, it didn't help her to feel better. I should go. I'll make a fool of myself if I stay longer...

 

"I ..." she started. She felt foolish for not being able to ask the Warder about meeting again, to go forward with her questions. She also felt foolish for wanting to ask him such a thing. Who was she but just a little Tower student? Her eyes fell on the man's dagger again. The one she had touched earlier, to try to balance it on her forefinger. She had liked the way the weapon had felt in her hand. She really wanted to find a way to touch it once more. Maybe to practice with it? This made her mind.

 

She coughed, clearing her throat, then met Elessar's eyes, showing herself determined. "Do you think it would be possible for me to come here again?" She blushed, when she noticed that she had not explained why. Before Elessar could answer, she felt the need to add "It would be to chat, just like today... for my studies."

 

She folded her arms, hoping for a positive answer.

 

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.. A Conversation coming to an End ..

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"It did, Elessar Gaidin," the young Accepted replied. "I have to say that it also brought even more questions."

 

She smiled before nervously biting her lower lip, once more. Elessar pretended not to notice, to lessen her embarassment. It was probably a nervous habit, when under stress, not that unusual for young women in the Tower Elessar presumed. They were under a lot of pressure to perform in their studies and were, perhaps, not that used to authority-figures nor new situations. In time, added self-confidence and life experience coupled with strict Tower tutoring would, he guessed, bring greater calm and, eventually, the infamous Aes Sedai self-control.

 

She stood waiting, almost as if she were considering what to do or say next. Elessar waited in silence.

 

"I think I will have to go back to the Tower....", she said eventually. He nodded kindly again. Yes, it was time for her to go. Even so, it seemed as if she were hesitating slightly or as if she wanted to say something more. The Warder considered if he should just send her on her way to her next errand without further ado, so she need not feel unease at having to thank him for his help answering her questions, or for the conversation, but he decided to wait. She had come to him and he would let her finish the conversation on her terms.

 

 

The young Accepted turned then to look the other way for a moment. To Elessar it appeared that she was looking in the direction of some Aes Sedai down the Yard. Perhaps she was feeling guilty for having taken up so much of his time, and perhaps she feared that those Sisters were watching her - besides the men training - and did not approve. Or she just needed a moment to collect herself.

 

Soon though she turned again to face him and her eyes met his. "I ..." she started. She seemed uncertain and hesitant to continue. He was about to speak when he saw her eyes switch to the dagger he held with his other battle-equipment. He recognized the look, an eagerness for the weapon, probably to hold it again, perhaps to learn more about it.. Perhaps to show him that she could do better than her earlier clumsy effort.. He smiled inside. He understood such eagerness and ambition. Nothing showed on his face, however. She coughed slightly then, clearing her throat, then met his eyes squarely, with a more determined look.

 

She asked if he thought it would be possible for her to come here again? She blushed slightly as the words sank in. Quickly she added, that it would be to chat, just like today… for her studies.  

 

Folding her arms, she waited for him to reply.

 

 

He could, of course, had said no. For several reasons. Others could assist this young Accepted. But he found that he enjoyed talking with her. And he liked being able to help and to give of his knowledge. Moreover, he thought that he saw in this young woman some of the spirit and inner fire that he had seen in Leandreen; it was hidden beneath a layer of youthful insecurity and inexperience perhaps, but he thought he recognized the signs.

 

"I practice regularly here in the Yard." Elessar replied kindly. "Most mornings I am here for a session. I’ll be glad to answer more of your questions another time."

 

  ▀▄ 

 

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The young Accepted smiled, hearing Elessar's words. She had not expected a positive reply even if she had hoped for it.

 

"It is very nice of you, Elessar Gaidin", she replied, curtsying. As she folded her knees, she remembered the previous days. How much had she stressed about this meeting! It had taken her more than six months to make the decision to come in the Warders Yard and more than three months to find enough free time to actually go there. When she had finally realized that she'd have a couple of hours to leave the Tower that day, she had started to feel very uncomfortable. How would she manage to talk to a man? to a Warder nonetheless? How would she be able to show herself as a serious person? How would she manage to walk without tripping on those muddy grounds? Those had been questions she had asked herself daily.

 

"I will definitely come back, as soon as I can have a break", she added.

 

It would not be anytime soon. She had programmed extra lessons in the coming days and had just started to give classes to Novices. Those may have been basic classes about the One Power but they were still very interesting for her. First, she wanted to do better than her own teachers had done. She wanted her students to enjoy her classes more than she had enjoyed the ones she had followed in the past. It was a real challenge for her. It pushed her to spend a lot of time researching for interesting teaching material. Then, she wanted to believe that the quality of her interventions would earn her some extra points for her raising. It was hard to tell what would help her out with her raising, though. She could only make guesses based on what she had experienced in the Tower so far.  The Accepted had also started to read a new series of books ... and she really wanted to finish it. This would also take her a lot of time. Again, the idea of choosing the Brown Ajah flashed through her mind but she dismissed it after only a fraction of a second. Staying her whole life in libraries or behind desks was really not want she wanted to do with her life.

 

Not knowing how to part nor what to add, Myrrhi smiled again. Elessar added a few words then said goodbye to her. The girl nodded and went on her way, trying not to look back.

 

She concentrated on the way ahead of her. The ground was not equal and there were many obstacles: rocks, trainees, equipment. The last thing she wanted to do was to fall in front of all those Warders. She didn't want to stain her white dress either. She would not have the time to get a fresh change of clothes before meeting Deana Sedai. Raising the skirt of her dress well above her ankles she tried to advance with confident steps.

 

Myrrhi felt that more clouds had gathered in the sky. The wind was picking up, too. She took it as a sign that she should hurry and leave the yard. She didn't like the cold nor the rain and she was sure that it would be raining before noon.

 

Time for me to go back to my world, she sighed. I hope that Deana Sedai has nice books to show me...

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.. Touched by a Storm of Providence ..

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The Warder saw the young woman smile in reply to his kind offer. "It is very nice of you, Elessar Gaidin", she replied, curtsying. He nodded politely back, out of respect for her courteousy, thereby indicating that she was welcome. "I will definitely come back, as soon as I can have a break", she added after a moment. He gave her another nod, smiling inwardly. He knew that Accepted and Novices had very busy schedules, so ‘as soon as I can have a break’ could mean anything from days to weeks to months, with the latter options most likely. The main thing was that he had offered to help out - and she would come when she could.

 

She smiled at him again, ready to leave. She seemed to hesitate a moment and Elessar guessed she might be a little uncertain of how to part, what to say - and so to relieve her of any awkwardness he reiterated that she would find him here in the Yard. "A good day to you, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen", the Gaidin said with a respectful Warder’s bow. The young woman nodded with a smile and went on her way, trying not to look back.

 

Elessar watched her go, as she headed determinedly through the Yard, past rocks, arenas, trainees and weapons equipment, towards the entrance in the distance. He saw her raise the skirt of her dress well above her ankles as she moved forwards at a good pace. He guessed that she wanted to avoid staining her white Accepted’s dress, probably not unwise, and that she may have been in a hurry. He hoped he had not kept her too long with his stories of Ebou Dar and Kandor. He did get a bit carried away, he knew, when he had an audience for his passionate (re)telling of stories and poetry.

 

 

When he saw the young Accepted leave the grounds through the entrance gate at the end, Elessar shifted his gaze to the sky above. Even more clouds had gathered up there, he saw, a dark blanket that would soon be covering the whole region. The wind was stronger too and he could also feel the moisture in the air, although the first raindrops were yet to appear. Not long though, he thought with surety, as he gathered all his weapons equipment and readied to leave.

 

He walked slowly past training men and women, watching their weapons handling and movement with a veteran’s eye, spoke a few words to an old Warder teacher he knew well, and waved to some other familiar faces as he strolled by. As he neared the entrance gate he picked up pace and walking through he headed resolutely to his quarters in the Warder Barracks. He set his weapons equipment aside and quickly undressed before taking a pleasant shower. He dressed again, pulling on his nondescript shirt and pants, and sat down in his old, solid well-crafted oak corner-chair. He had procured it, at some expense, from a local antiques.shop the previous year. It was where he usually read in the evenings before going to bed, but he had an hour or so to spare before he had some errands to do and he felt like reading some poetry.

 

Pedron Namielle’s ‘Poetry of the Ages’ was his constant book-companion. It contained a whole range of poems from around the world, both newer and more ancient, both comedic and dramatic, and it was the best compilation Elessar had come across. Turning the pages with eagerness he found the poem he was looking for. It was called ‘The Watchers Over the Waves’ and he had last heard it recited, what seemed like years ago, by a talented gleeman in an inn in the town of Falme by the Aryth Ocean.

 

He had been on a Tower-mission with his then bondholder Carys, an Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah, to the Atha’an Miere, the Sea Folk. They had stopped in Falme before they had boarded the Sea Folk ship. Elessar remembered the impressive ship well. A Raker, it had been called Windsweeper, a large vessel with multiple decks, easily a hundred paces long, with three towering masts amidships, and one shorter one on the raised sterndeck. It had had large triangular as well as somewhat smaller white squared sails, and a very narrow body, as was common in such ships, that made for great speed across oceans. It had carried them southwards on what was to become, for good or ill, an unforgettable journey..

 

‘The Watchers Over the Waves’: whether true history, myth or local folklore, it made for an interesting story, Elessar thought, and an exquisite poetic journey..

 

 

►▼◄

 

The Watchers Over the Waves

 

To Watch and Wait, that was their Call

The proudest people of them All

Their duty clear, sworn on their Graves

They were The Watchers Over the Waves

 

Do Miere A’vron, the Old Tongue Learn

They waited for the Armies’ Return

That Hawkwing across the Ocean Sent

With mankind’s hope, their chances Spent

 

Along Toman Head-coasts, watchtowers were Raised

And the wisdom of the First Watcher was Praised

They would remember, what others Forgot

Bending the knee, when others would Not

 

From dusk ‘till dawn they watched the Sea

Awaiting sights of sails that Be

The warriors of ships and Stones

Returning to their rightful Thrones

 

Long have they waited, their loyalty Strong

Their steadfastness will be remembered in Song

When the Hawkwing’s armies return to the Land

In triumph and glory, the Watchers will Stand

 

 

It was much later in the day, in early evening - embraced by the dark part of twilight, with heavy rain pouring down over Tar Valon and thunder roaring across the unruly skies, that Elessar saw the strange lightning-phenomenon. He was passing outside the White Tower, after another errand in the city, when a huge beam of light flashed across the darkening horizon, leaving a buzzing soundwave in its wake. Carried by strong winds it pierced the air to such an extent that the Warder could hear some of the Tower windows almost screech in response, protesting the intrusion with their shrill cries. Lightning flashed again, directly above the Tower of the Aes Sedai this time, but split into many smaller tendrils of fire, each with a brilliant shimmering blue echo of power streaming in its wake, that encompassed the imposing building in glorious Light.., making the Warder stare upward in partial wonder.

 

The ferocious lightning-storm crashing over Tar Valon seemed never to end. Temporarily blinded by a lightning blast very close - too close!, he thought with exasperation - , the burning smell of scorched ground quivering in his nostrils, Elessar staggered past the White Tower in the direction of the Warder Barracks. Soon his eyesight returned, the sharp light behind his eyelids gradually receding, and he hurried through the heavy rain in the direction of the Barracks. Others ran past him - a cursing man poorly dressed, sprinting as if he had the Dark One on his heels, and a hurrying family with cloaked children trailing slightly - trying also to find shelter from the perilous storm. Finally he reached his destination, catching his breath as he slowed down. As he entered his quarters, his hair and clothes dripping with water, his eyes slightly wide, lightning continued to bombard Tar Valon, as he could see through his room window. It had to be the worst storm over the city of the Aes Sedai in ages. Storms this bad, he knew, were more common by the Sea. He dried himself, and pulling off his wet clothes lay down on his bed, head on his pillow, as thunderclaps and lightning bolts continued relentlessly outside.

 

It took a while, but finally the heavy storm died out.

 

Elessar, however, lay awake well into the night - and could not help but feel that he had been touched by a Storm of Providence.

 

  ▀▄ 

 

 

Edited by Elessar
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