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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Madel_H

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About Madel_H

  • Birthday 06/09/1988
  1. Arenhal was a small town that seemed to creep from the southern bank of the Haevin. There was a cluster of two-storied buildings by the docks, and a few houses and stores that framed a broad square, but the rest of the town was spread out, each structure a little further away than the last, until the whole gave way to fields and ranches of withered crops and emaciated cattle. There were two riverboats moored in the shallow water, and a string of bare-chested workers were unloading barrels and crates from one of them, while nearby a tall fellow in a fine coat was talking animatedly with a gray-haired man. The wagon rumbled to a stop as it entered the commons, and the driver turned towards Madel, sitting in the back on a mound of wool. "Here you are, son. Take care of yourself, and see that you get something to eat." Pointing at one of the taller buildings, he added, "That there is The Shining Bottle; Master Guiren owns it, a fair man, and he'll see that you get your fill. Let you work off the debt, too, if you don't got the coin." That last was added with a knowing look at the boy's ragged clothes. The young man thanked the farmer for the ride and the advice, and hopped down to the rutted street. His legs nearly buckled beneath him, and he had to cling to the side of the cart to steady himself. It had been four days since he'd last eaten, and though he strangely had stopped feeling hunger pains, his body felt weak and insubstantial, like mist ready to fly away at the slightest breeze. Those first few days had been hellish; his stomach constantly seizing and doubling him over, leaving him dry heaving on hands and knees. Sleep, when he was able to drift into it, was fitful and full of nightmares. When he had regained his balance, Madel thanked the old farmer once again and started in the direction of the inn, leaning heavily on his stave. The Shining Bottle was broad faced, with a railed porch and a set of stone steps leading up to it. A few pieces of dark red paint clung to the wooden planks, but overall it seemed a long time since the building had seen any real upkeep. The door was wide open, and snippets of conversations and raucous laughter drifted out, accompanied by the clatter of wooden plates and mugs. While the inn's exterior looked shabby, the common room was well-furnished and clean. Most of the twenty or so tables were full, and four young girls were scurrying to and fro with trays or pitchers, smiling or winking at patrons who called out obscene remarks. A pair of thick brutes with cudgels hanging from their belts watched over the scene with impassive stares, and a wrinkled old man wearing a dirty white apron shouted orders at the serving girls from behind a long bar. Seeing Madel walking in, the man in the apron waved the youth over. "Ho there, lad, welcome to the Shining Bottle. I'm Temer Guilan. You looking for a bed, or just a meal? Neither is free, but I can see you don't have much. You're welcome to work off the price, if you'd like; I can always use another hand in the kitchen." Madel opened his mouth to interject that he did, in fact, have coin, but the innkeeper barely paused for breath before continuing. "You don't look like a sailor, and I doubt you came in on the boats anyway. Your clothes say you've been travelling hard, though. Where'd you come in from? Out on the Grass? Running from something, I'll wager. You're not an outlaw, are you?" Again, he didn't give the young man a chance to reply before prattling on. "No matter, it's none of my concern. Long as you don't cause trouble, you're free to stay. You're not going to cause trouble, are you?" With a nod towards the club-wielding duo, "I don't abide troublemakers in my establishment. Alright then, find yourself a seat, I'll send one of the girls over in a moment. We can discuss payment after you've had something to eat; Light knows you look famished." Stalking off towards a table near the fireplace, with a cry of "Here now, I thought I told you scoundrels-", Master Guilen left Madel to find his own seat, feeling like he'd been spun about in the rush of the man's words. There were few open chairs, and no empty tables, so he sat down with the first group that didn't seem to be giving him hard stares. A graying man in plain brown wool and a younger one perhaps no older than Madel, a farmer and his adult son, introduced themselves and welcomed the boy to Arenhal, then returned to their ales and their conversation about crops and strange weather. They didn't seem interested in including the newcomer, so he sat in silence while he waited for the food to come. At the table behind him men were tossing dice and exclaiming loudly about the rolls, good and bad, so Madel turned in his seat to watch. After a few tosses, one of the men noticed his observation, and smiled. "Pull your chair around, lad, there's room for another hand! You know how to play?" All the men at the table stopped to look at him, and he suddenly felt trapped. He didn't have much coin, and he was planning to use that to get food, a bed, and maybe a ride upriver. On the other hand, the expectant looks he was getting quickly made him spin his chair about to face the gamblers. Light, what are you doing? You don't even know how to dice, and you certainly don't have the money to lose at it. "I have a few marks, but I'm not so sure how you play." At their sudden grins, he quickly added, "We dice back home, but the rules are kinda funny. Maybe you could explain this version, so we're all together on it." Blood and ashes, I must look a complete fool. The men took a few moments to explain the various tosses and betting procedures, each one competing with the others to explain this point or that, or to expand upon another man's statement. When they were finished, Madel thought he probably knew less about the game now than when he hadn't known anything about it, but one man was holding the cup out for him, so he took it in hand. With a silent prayer, he made his first toss. He played for most of the night, stopping only to eat when his food came. Stew more broth than beef, and a small cut of bread, but he ate voraciously, and it was easily the best meal he'd ever had. The men at the table ordered several rounds of ale, spending their coin freely and happily, bantering and joking loudly. They argued constantly about poor rolls, but only once did anything come near to blows, and that was quickly eased by another round of drinks and quiet reprimand from the other players. Madel lost nine of ten games, but when he did win it always seemed to be on a hard set, where the bets were heavy, so when the game ended well after midnight, he'd actually come out ahead, earning enough to pay for his meal and bed, and for breakfast besides, with no loss to the silver he'd started with. After some well wishes and hearty slaps on the back, he finally found himself stumbling into his room. He managed to tug one of his boots off before giving up on the other and collapsing in a heap on the mattress.
  2. The wind carried a mighty chill even now during the spring, and not for the first time since leaving, Madel wished that he had owned a heavier cloak. The tall grass, some of it almost up to his shoulders and rolling like great waves with the breeze, parted before him as he pushed through it, and quickly folded shut behind him. Casting a look over his shoulder, the young man couldn't even tell where he had walked, as if the plains had swallowed up any trace of his passing. Behind him, the flat terrain slowly rose to the west where it became the low hills among which Madel had been raised, so that now, looking back, the youth could no longer see the silhouette of his home village against the stars. To the north, the peaks of the Black Hills could just be seen, the only break in the otherwise flat horizon. Somewhere on the other side of those mountains was his destination, the Shining Walls of Tar Valon, where he hoped to become a Warder. He wanted that desperately, so much so that he had abandoned his family's farm in the middle of the night, with hardly any provisions for the long journey. He had come to realize his error, though, when five days and barely twenty leagues later he had eaten the last of his food, and by his reckoning, Madel was still a good fifty miles from Arenhal, the next nearest town to Tirin. His grand journey hadn't seemed so wondrous after that, but the eager farmboy had made up his mind, and if he had to walk until his feet bled to arrive near-starved at the Tower's gates, he would bloody well do it. Of course, at this rate, if he even made it to Tar Valon by walking, it wouldn't be for another two months. He was hoping to shave some time off of that, though, by boarding one of the riverboats in Arenhal. At the least that would get him to Evesh, what he believed to be the next village upriver, but if the boat fees were reasonable, he might even make it all the way to Saddern, at the very headwaters of the Haevin. And from Saddern, he could be in Tar Valon in two weeks! But the first issue was Arenhal. Light, fifty miles, he grumbled inwardly, a sentiment his stomach shared with a grumbling of its own. In his eagerness to leave home, Madel had certainly underpacked, and now he was thinking he would pay for his mistake. That's if I even survive to make it fifty miles. Another growl from his belly punctuated the thought. His toe caught something hidden beneath the grass, and suddenly the young man was face down in the dirt, struggling to regain the breath that had been knocked out of him, gasping for what seemed an eternity. When at last his lungs were able to take in air, he groped around in the dark to find what he had tripped over. His fingers closed around something hard, like stone, and he squinted in the darkness to make out the shape of the object. It was a hand! A stone hand reaching up from beneath the ground! For a moment he was certain that some ancient corpse was struggling out of the grave to carry his soul off into the night, and in his panic he scrambled backward on hands and heels. His retreat was stopped abruptly by the remains of a low stone wall, unfinished and crumbling. Realization dawned on him; these were ruins! And that hand must have been part of a fallen statue! He started searching the area, following what was left of the walls where he could and tracing imaginary lines where there were no visible signs. What little could be found of the stonework proved to be expansive, and Madel quickly decided that this had once been a city, and a large one at that! But he'd lived in the Grass his whole life, and while he was by no means well educated or versed in history, he'd never heard of a city existing out here. Surely something like this -and so close to home- would have been mentioned before. Despite this strange discovery, the young man couldn't help but laugh. "They were probably all too busy with their farms to even care about something like this. I doubt anyone would've mentioned it, either, since it's not the weather or crops or 'what old Semm Parec said to Hille Dovers, who told my da, who told me.' As if there's anything else worth talking about!" He stepped regally up onto one of the piles of rubble that might have once been a building and surveyed his new kingdom. Then, gripping his walking stave in both hands like a great sword, he charged down the other side of the debris. Whipping his staff to and fro across the grass, he was the mightiest warrior to ever live. There was no hunger, no journey to worry about; there was only the scores of enemies he felled before his terrible assault. "For the honor of the Blue Eyes!" he shouted, laughing and running, "For the king's glory!" ~Madel acting like a child
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