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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Sam

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  1. Captain Redpath had arisen early as always. With clement conditions the twilight hours before dawn gave The Merry Pauper a surreal aspect. It drifted amid hidden currents beneath the mist, or, on a morning such as this where the stars and moon were clearly reflected upon the low swells, he sailed amongst the stars, and he was free. He was dressed as always in clean somber tones, nothing leather about his person that would ruin with the sea air. A navy blue tunic, black over tunic, black slacks; his feet were bare. He wore no ornamentation, his hair and moustache were neatly trimmed and when he stood, even at ease, he stood a man who understood the importance of discipline and command. Drak appeared early, deferential and respectful as he had been taught, possibly attempting to beat Bobby to the main mast as so many of his students had before. Many tried, none so far succeeded. It was good that the dread lord moved with haste, it meant more time for training before the day officially began. Drak had asked for additional tutelage. Bobby would have refused were it not for Mr. Sweeper’s silent assent. He was ready. Despite his dread lord nature he was capable when not calling upon his power, and was becoming more so each day. He could scale the shrouds easily, and his balance was naturally shifting with the movements of the vessel, which would improve his footwork. Leaning against the main course were two ornate sheaths, and efficiently, yet without haste, he sat his tea down on deck, raised one of the sheaths and handed it to his “student.” Curved, single edged swords, examples of expert craftsmanship and lethal purpose, why they had been the requested weapon Bobby did not know. He disliked the weapon, personally, but he was proficient in many, and this model numbered amongst them. They would use naked blades, a training technique not often advised, but it would teach Drak control over his weapon, especially as this particular sword could cleave a man in twain, armoured or not, which he quite bluntly told him. If Drak’s skills were substandard enough to injure his own self, Redpath would happily toss him into the sea … in as many pieces as there were. The first order of the day would be to teach the basics of use. One could use the weapon with a two handed forward grip, or a single handed reverse, the former being the focus of the exercises. The reverse grip was stronger, but less flexible; then position and the rudimentary slash and feint. With neither pomp nor ceremony, Bobby began the lesson.
  2. Rory smiled her sunshine smile as she watched Saline Sedai, her best friend, companion, and love, discuss Tower affairs with her red sisters. It felt like only yesterday that the pair had been aspirants: Rory in the novice white, and Saline her mentor with the banded hem of the accepted. So very much had passed between then, but to Rory Sedai it would always be only yesterday. In the beginning, having spent so many years, almost plural decades, at Saline’s side, it had been hard to let her go. At first Rory had resented their different choices in ajah and the commitment they demanded, as did Saline. The enforced separation was painful and many hours she had trained as an amputee might learn to wield his sword with his remaining arm: unwieldy; incomplete. Petty jealousies and arguments had arisen and been overcome and the two women learned that even though to be fully whole required the other, they could be hundreds of miles apart and still together. Part of Saline travelled with Rory wherever she went, continued to support her and keep her from danger; made sure she didn’t drink too many beers, got enough rest and always washed behind her ears. Implicit trust had been hard won, but it had been won. Yes, they still enjoyed their public displays of possession on occasion, who wouldn’t? But they trusted one another and Rory knew Saline would never stray, be she two miles away or two thousand. And she was happy to watch Saline, the woman she had become, in her natural environment, knowing that she was hers. Rory’s eyes danced with affection as Saline pushed the plate in front of her, she was always taking care of her, whether Rory needed it or not, and Rory would not conceive of putting a stop to it. Actions speak louder than words, and those of Saline’s were very fetching. Especially with the way her spine arched as she pushed the plate, displaying her lower back. Rory’s fingers brushed across Saline’s as her roommate withdrew her hands. Reaching out for the dents in her spine would have been noticed, but in this small contact they were intimate and alone. Rory’s smile widened as her mind slipped back through the years, focusing on the first memory she had of just how delicate Saline’s fingers could be. Rory flinched when Saline slid her breeches down her legs, and sudden tears stung her eyes. Saline noticed in a heartbeat, and, with her hands firmly on Rory's hips, turned her about to see what had caused the pain. There, on Rory's right buttock was the likeness of a rose surrounded by purple, angry fresh. "Surprise," Rory said weakly. Saline made a noise that was half laughter and half sympathy and kissed Rory on the mouth once more, "It's beautiful." "It do be hurting a little more than I thought it would." Saline sat down and pulled Rory into her lap, showering her face with kisses and tracing the inflamed image with her fingers. Rory let out a sigh of relief and leaned into her roommate; her companion, the fabric of Saline's dress feeling good against her bare thighs."I guess we'll simply have to keep you off it for a few days then and if you're really lucky I may kiss it better later." With a gleam in her eye Saline reached for her story book, and Rory laughed. Saline had been true to her word, and Rory had remained there in her lap for several days. Saline told the best stories and the cool tips of her fingers eased the searing pain of the tattoo until it had healed. She could have gone to the yellow ajah, true, but she wasn’t about to let Nynaeve Sedai see it. Rory blinked when she noticed Aran standing on the table in … attire of a questionable taste, unless he were about to ransack a vessel, put the crew to the sword and the ship to the torch. As Rory was quite confident that this was not the case she was sure he had some other devious agenda. It was odd that she had not noticed him sooner; every other Aes sedai in the hall had their attention riveted in place. Some with looks of anger, probably those with whom he had been involved with in the past … although if that were the case Rory thought there would be more angry faces. Other expressions mirrored hers which was one of delighted anticipation. The memory of Saline had been a strong one, this could have accounted for the dela--how easy it was for her to become lost inside her own head--soon she would have to give up the green shawl in exchange for the brown. It was also likely that the delay in notice was a subconscious reminder that Aran was meant to have done something but didn’t. Ah, of course, post … the latest dispatch to her parents. If Aran could be counted on for anything it was to prove highly entertaining while at the same time infuriatingly annoying: a brilliant swordsman and teacher, and also very capable of out drinking a horse. He did possess something of a reputation, and Rory knew Saline was wary of him, and especially wary of him around her. Whatever was about to happen was likely to be spectacular; she couldn’t wait. OOC: Whack. Thwack. POW.
  3. Surety was not clear but suspicion raised its ugly banner and paraded around the fairground of Rory’s frontal lobe. It had appeared to she, who had been paying the utmost of attention to their faces, that they had not, in fact, responded to the spider’s webs, at all, and she wasn’t sure whether to be pleased, or whether to be unhappy about this. They were either purposefully ignoring it, in which case it was perfectly normal, or they were unaware of it, in which case there was something tragically wrong in Rory’s brain and she needed a very long nap ... maybe she could encourage Saline to come along? Rory weaved a few more weaves to be certain, asking the pair to watch every single time, and every single time they completely ignored the spider’s webs. The weaves were pretty, but not nearly as pretty as what came after. If it continued to happen Rory would need to give the phenomenon a name. Spider’s webs was as good a title as any other, but maybe there already was a name for the problem and she should have consulted the library before inviting them along. They weren’t being very helpful. She wasn’t about to waste the opportunity after having sent some poor novice scurrying to fetch them—doing that was secretly very entertaining—and if subtlety was not going to work, and neither would repeated exposure and or hinting, then she would have to bring it up in actual conversation and risk sounding like a complete and utter imbecile. Nothing new there; what did she have to lose? “I cannot help but think that you do not be seeing what I do be trying to show you. I no do be concerned with the weaves themselves--thanks much for the compliments anyway!--but the part that do be coming after. I no do be sure if you can see it. Can you see it? Is it natural? I do no be hearing of it before. "It started happening a few days ago and hasn’t stopped since and I do be getting slightly worried. Every time I do be completing a weave and it vanishes, I be seeing all sorts of strange ... how do I be explaining this. When cloth do be wearing around the edges you get loose fibres? That do be how it looks. I have called them Spider’s webs. Do either of you be knowing what I do be talking about?” The last carried an undercurrent of petulance.
  4. There they were again! Self-confidence told her that such a thing was rather impossible, and therefore should not be happening. Apparently the message hadn’t quite gotten through to reality. She was tired. That was it: tired. It had been happening for several days now, could she be that tired? She probably could. What with bed time stories and midnight wakeups. Fine, so she was the one doing the midnight wakeups and it was normally so she could steal a story, but who was really paying attention? Not her! There was the slightest of all slightness of chances that Rory really only woke her roommate up for a story so she lie next to her at night, which probably wasn’t the best of motives, but what could she say? Saline was a peach, and so, so, oh so warm and soft and ... this really wasn’t the time for that particular tangent. It was enough to say that Rory was slowly turning over the options in her mind as to why her sight was playing tricks on her. Rory was lying on her back on the grass and channelling into the air, it was nice and relaxed where she was, and fun to watch the slow evaporation of whatever it was she was seeing. She wove another quick thread just to see. Nothing fabulous, but large enough that the after effect would last for some time, and there it was, multiple coloured strands, not until the weave itself, floating on the air like a spider’s web in the wind. Fascinating! It would almost be a shame if her eyesight was playing tricks on her, maybe she’d been channelling too much and this was one of the repercussions. She had heard that channelling too much wasn’t a good thing, was this why? Or was it that she was become more adept at channelling and it was something that all those who touch saidar see in time? Saline had never mentioned it and neither had Lillian, but she could be hopeful. Rory grinned stupidly when the faces of Saline and Lillian appeared in her line of vision and peered down at her, probably expecting some hellish prank or another. Not that Rory went in for that sort of thing. No, no, definitely not! Rory sat up, brushed her hands together for no apparent reason other than habit and got to her feet. “Watch” she said to no one in particular, certain she would have their undivided attention once they saw what she was talking about. Rory whipped up a large and complex weave, by her standards, a sphere engaging each of the five threads. She had discovered through her own trial and error that the larger the weave and more engaging, the more amazing the after effect. The sphere appeared as a ripple ad a glimmer in the air, but that was not important as the two women could see the nature and design of her weave the same as she could. Once it was completed she released the weave and watched how the silky spider-web wisps floated and drifted in the air. She turned to her two friends, aiming one hand in the direction of her new discover and asked, “Now, what do be up with that?”
  5. Rory laughed. A severe state of giddy bemusement settling on her shoulders. Thatwas fun! If she answered incorrectly there was a strong possibility the Aes Sedai would do it again and wouldn't that be a shame? Not by even two eighths. Rory had initially been fascinated by the idea of the yellow ajah and indeed the infirmary as a whole but now she was finding that her delight was quickly replaced by boredom. At least the old woman in front of her was proving sport. This beat the dust out of someone trying to teach her something any day. Ah. She had forgotten that she was supposed to respond, oh, she'd think of something creative! Rory felt for the woman, she truly did. It was obvious that in her own little way she was trying to understand Rory, or rather, make Rory understand Rory. It wasn't her fault that she'd gotten most of it wrong and that her methods were about as subtle as the tiganza. Rory did not fight to make those around her feel helpless, although she wouldn't complain if that was a healthy side effect. No, she fought as a way to stave off the crushing weight of her own helplessness. She could not imagine being any less in charge of herself than she was now. It took decades, decades to become an Aes Sedai. That meant decades before she could make the long voyage back home to see her parents. They were old, how long would they live? There was the very real possibility that her parents would die before she was able to see them again, if she couldn't get ousted from the tower first. And if her parents died while she was trapped in the intestinal tract of this bizarre organisation she would use those arts they sought to teach her to bring them to their knees. No, the Aes Sedai understood nothing and would prefer to subject Rory to torment than find out the problem. Light help her patients! Well, Rory could tiganza too, when it came down to it and she would answer in a manner befitting her "hostess." In response to the weaving:"Oooooh," long and drawn out,"I get it. I've heard stories about your type. This do be my cue to pretend I'm the naughty novice, then? Or do I be the overly devout girl and you do be my inflexible tutor? I do be telling you one thing, I won't be calling you mistress, no matter how much you ask!"
  6. The bright morning found Saline Wastrel smiling with pleasure as she marched into the clearing, kicking up the dew further up her skirts. Her companion seemed more sedate in comparison, each motion graceful as Rory followed, though it was clear from her smile that she shared Saline’s pleasure. Feeling the wind on her face, and more than a little frisky, Saline opened herself quickly to the Source. A yelp from the pinch of Air she sent behind her widened her smile into a grin. “That’s good,” She said, just short of crashing into a juniper tree, still smug with the trick she played on Rory. “Nobody can hear us, or see us here. Shall we begin?” Without waiting for a response she instructed the other to watch carefully as she drew out some Spirit, and twisted the silver threads with a practiced, precise gesture. Saline adverted her eyes surreptitiously before twisting the strands into a small, tight net. She did not have to see the threads to maneuver them, though it took some concentration to keep the weave compact. Then she looped Fire around the edges of her weave. A searing light spouted immediately, and blinking the stars from her vision Saline clutched the arm of the Accepted she had pretty much blinded without warning. Her grip stabilized Rory, but Saline held on. When Aes Sedai teach the weave, their students are told to look away. Saline was no Sister, and reckoned Rory could learn the weave faster if she could see the last steps. Perhaps it was rather thoughtless of her to tell Rory to pay attention to a weave that could (potentially) blind her, but Saline was not one easily inclined to throw caution to the winds, and her weave had been small, not spun in reckless abandon. However, the side effect of her weave existed despite Saline’s control over its size and intensity. Patting gently at the arm she had seized Saline made sure Rory was all right before she explained, “Lillian once told me how Flash is good for duels. It is a great distraction, and too many Aes Sedai forget this weave. It is also useful for escape. There is no shame in taking advantage of the opportunity to run away from what you cannot fight, for the element of surprise will keep you alive to defend your beloveds, whether they be persons, beliefs or both, another day. Flash is a more advanced weave, but it comes with practice. Flash me.” Rory was enjoying herself, yes, and we won’t even speak about the view. She found that being an Accepted agreed with her. Certainly she was had more responsibilities, had her share of chores, and still took orders, but her dress was no longer so plain and she was allowed to pursue her studies alone. No one would have guessed it by looking at her, not that there is some form of outward indication, but she had been doing just that. Rory understood that her ability to draw on Saidar was slight, and that those weaves of great power were beyond her, and that she may never come to surrender to it as easily as others. These were facts, ones that could leave her raw if she let them, but facts nonetheless. She could resign herself to relying on others, and being “mediocre”, or, she could devote herself to fully explore the limits of her abilities, push them, immerse herself in them and find other ways of achieving the same ends that she was capable of. Rory was not a one to go quietly into the night. The pinch did not exactly jolt her out of her “reverie” as is the general literary custom, but it did slowly draw her mind to the present. It was rather enjoyable to see her mentor act so impulsively. It had been difficult for Saline and Rory to become friendly with one another, being almost polar opposites. But friendship had occurred and now the pair was neigh inseparable. The pinch had been a thoughtless act of mischief, but it showed that Saline felt free to be herself with Rory at least. Not something Rory would take for granted. She yelped, purely for Saline’s benefit. She paid close attention to the weave, recognizing it instantly. She had seen a green sister perform the weave, but had been too frightened to ask what the weave was or how to do it, and had observed instead. It was an easy enough weave for the sister, but she judged it an above average execution by the way spots danced in front of her eyes even at that distance. After that exhibition, Rory she spent a great deal of time in practise while Saline slept ... which gave her at least ten hours a day, she figured. Despite recognizing the weave, Rory was caught by its sudden completion, having not expected Saline to have done so. That cow! The explanation of it was new to Rory and she listened attentively. So that’s what it do be for! It made logical sense, now that she thought about it, and explained why the green sister had been repeating the weave to perfection. “... Flash me.” What girl could decline an offer as genuine as that? Certainly not Rory, whose mind was filled wickedness. She fumbled for the source twice before succeeding, owing the extra failure to her racing mind. Feigning demure she gripped her skirts, locked eyes with Saline and added in a tremulous voice, “I-I-If you do be sure ....” Saline’s responses were on autopilot, as Rory knew they would be, and the other woman lurched forward to grab at Rory’s hands before she managed to articulate a response. Rory, assuming Saline to be too preoccupied by the shocked noises she was making, took the opportunity to play havoc and quickly offload some small weaves behind Saline’s head. When Saline at last managed to hiss, “No!” Rory was prepared for her. She smiled gratefully and responded, “Probably best, we wouldn’t want her watching!” Adding a gesture to indicate behind her, she was all reflective teeth when Saline turned and the globes exploded with light. None of them had been as strong as Saline’s, but they were closer, and there were three of them in rapid succession. Before Saline recovered enough to turn around she added a pinch, purely physical, and that was out of spite. Saline breathed in soft little stops as Rory embraced the Source, sympathising. First tries were also hit and misses for Saline, who had to understand principles behind a weave before she could successfully fashion one. Being less intuitive than the clever girls meant Saline worked harder to tap into her own strength and gain acceptance. But at least she had the strength to back up her understanding. Rory was one of the clever students who grasped concepts faster, but her problem was that of strength. However, Rory was a fighter. Saline had known this when Rory first started trying to touch the Source. Lillian and Saline would lead her through exercises, and every time Rory would fail. But she would not give up; instead Rory spent all her time with her eyes closed, and imagining the Rose until it happened. Success. But that was the first milestone out of many Rory crawled over to get to where she stood to-day. And there were still many more milestones to go. On Rory’s second try, Saline winced and tried not to fret. However the third time Rory set her narrow shoulders as if to push particularly stubborn mule, a glow shimmered. Despite having held on to the Source, Rory appeared so uncertain that it pained Saline. In the years shared with Rory, Saline had never seen the Illianer so undressed by her lack of ability. Rory’s words were bereft of their usual confidence, making Saline stare. Her hands clasped together, and when she realised how rude it was Saline quickly cast her gaze to the grass, not wishing to embarrass her friend. She stared in silence at Rory’s slippers, and her shapely legs as the stockings grew taller. Higher and higher, until the hem of Rory’s skirt caught Saline’s eyes. No longer paralysed, Saline’s small, pigeon like hands parted as they reacted, fluttering toward the other in desperation. Words garbled in her mind, choking her as thoughts babbled. Rory must have misunderstood Saline’s directions, and so lifted her skirts. Of course, that was why, and now it made sense to Saline that Rory would be so unsure about proceeding, the silly dear. She let Rory take one of her hands as the other pulled her forward, down, and closer as the word finally wheezed past her throat in one explosive command. “No!” She cried right into Rory’s laughing eyes as they looked over Saline’s shoulder, at another woman. Saline turned, her heart transfixed with horror. Had an Aes Sedai… Her thought never completed itself as she tried to take in the sight of one, two, three Flash weaves, perfectly executed. She knew this from the loss of vision, and tried not to panic. Saline did not flail, knowing that her sight would return momentarily, though when it did it might not look so favourably on Rory. Was three not a bit extreme? In the meantime, she floated in her own dark world, trying hard to ignore the nagging inside that perhaps three was indeed too much. The pinch did not exactly jolt her out of her sightless “reverie”, but it did slowly draw her mind to the present, to Rory. That cow could not take a joke, she was resentful as she devised the next exercise, but could not help giggling when she realised how funny it would be. Ignoring the purple spots that danced at the edges as her vision was restored, Saline turned and addressed Rory as the glow enveloped her. She made no explanation for holding the Source, instead asked Rory to sing a song. Rory sang, a little warily but her voice sounded strong and true, as Saline knew it would be. She had heard the woman humming and singing enough times to know how it outshined her own. Closing her eyes, she enjoyed the song as Rory sang for her, and when its notes soared Rory sounded an angel. It was an old song, and difficult, but the trembling was skillfully controlled. The melodious sounds increased in volume, but not because Rory had willed it louder. Saline was channeling Spirit and Air, making the silver flows into a funnel to project the song. It became quite loud before she ended the weave, but not far enough that the song would reach the Tower. Belatedly, Saline realised she should have prepared a Circle of Silence around the clearing, but it was too late. Rory didn’t pause, but her eyes widened, then the song resumed its normal scale. Saline fiddled with the slenderness of the Blue threads on the hardened mechanism, making the Air lower the volume through the funnel. Then Saline snagged the silver network about the funnel, and Rory’s voice became dramatically higher in pitch. Thicker strands of Air and looser Spirit strands made Rory’s voice go low again. “You can control more than just the volume with voice tricks. Imitations are also done. More Blue makes the voice husky and deeper whereas thickening the Silver flows renders the voice sweet and soft spoken.” Saline explained, and made Rory’s voice high, adding some Green flows and thicker Silver threads into the Blue around the funnel before tying off the weave. It left Rory’s voice at one specific pitch. C-sharp, the hardest note to hit; Rory’s newly altered voice would speak only in c-sharp, unless she made Saline’s into the exact replica of her own modification. Feeling rather wicked, Saline started to sing. Blue Sky Larking was one of the only songs she knew how to sing, and Rory had heard it many times. This was a weave Rory had never seen, and it looked interesting enough in its employ. She understood what was required of her, which was to display an understanding of the weave’s function, and also to display an ability to construct the weave. Relatively speaking it was an easy weave. Very relatively speaking, but Rory did not see why she could not ferret out its design and get her own back on Saline at the same time. The latter was the more important aspect of the two. With a purse of her lips, Rory moved to one of the nearby trees. If the funnel increased the audio output of her voice, then by the same logic it would increase the volume of anything, right? Right. Fumbling for the source once more she began to weave a cone of air, it was clumsy and she wasn’t happy with it, but it was cone shaped. Centred on a leaf, the basic idea of the weave was to enable Rory to clearly hear its singular rustling. It worked, barely. Unsatisfied as only Rory could be she began her work anew. The new funnel was of far sounder build and the rustling leaf sounded clear. Rory wanted it louder, so she slowly modified the funnel, longer and wider, would this work? I did not. Thickening the strands of air? Yes, much better. Nodding to the tree she returned to Saline, and eagerly began to modify her voice. Saline had shown her how to alter the pitch higher, and lower. The former would really only annoy her, her own voice was in the process of annoying her and she wasn’t about to doubly inflict herself with it. No. A good question, or one Rory found interesting was just how low she would be able to drive Saline’s voice. Just how low could she go? With relish she wove more air into the funnel, as Saline had shown her. Unlike Saline, who had stopped, Rory did not, choosing to continue pushing the weave. The worst that could happen is the weave would become unstable and blow the pair of them apart. Well, she would be careful; very careful, maybe a little careful. Careful enough that she could lower Saline’s voice as much as possible without injuring anyone. Sweat started to bead on Rory’s face, and no doubt Saline would be getting worried by this point, Rory squeezing everything into the wave as she was. But she was almost finished, almost: there! With a self-satisfied smile and a raised eyebrow Rory said, “Now, speak!” Saline was pleased to see that Rory was really getting into the voice alterations as she watched the other fumble eagerly around with it. She was considerably less pleased when Rory did not practice on her singing at all, choosing instead to place her cone between trees and such. Ignored, Saline soon finished and sat quietly watching the other at work. Head cocked, Rory seemed to be listening to the wind as it rustled the trees. Once more Saline closed her eyes, leaned against the juniper, and enjoyed the breezes that played on her face. Her thoughts wandered back to when she first encountered the weave, and her Mentor had asked what other uses voice tricks might have, beside the obvious. Sure enough, they were amusing, and Saline had a hard time thinking of some purpose for the weaves that was not purely leisurely. While thinking, she had entertained the notion that were one also able to change one’s appearance, one could have some fun, say, altering their voices into bird chirps and other calls of the wild. She wouldn’t mind being able to summon a howling wolf, complete with image and sound effects, if it were possible. Those creations could be used to spread messages with voice signals that only Channellers would be able to activate, projecting Saidar-enhanced sounds. A sound message could even serve as subterfuge, or decoy signals to enemy encampments, walking in the image of their commander. Yes, that may cause some confusion. Those were the thoughts that had strayed into the head of Saline as Rory asked her to speak, and she obeyed unthinkingly. For the second time she walked into one of Rory’s traps, though in retrospect she should have seen it coming. All was quiet on the Rory front and in the clearing, before Saline had spoken. She said a single syllable, not an eloquent one, mind, but it was moving. "RO." One little syllable, one that shook the leaves from the Juniper, that lingered in their ears, prolonging the sounds of…. Well, let’s just say an earthquake weave may have been beyond Saline’s current abilities, but the trembling of the grass beneath them continued as Saline gaped at the sound she made. It sounded with the resonance of a groveful of Ogiers at council; the reverberations of a legion marching to war; Saline quivered when the implications struck her. She was afraid. Somewhere, there might be curious Aes Sedai peering out her window to where the sound came from. Why o why had she not woven a Circle of Silence? Weaving Fire, Spirit and Air quickly she set the weave around the clearing, belatedly. All she could do now was to keep her mouth shut. Saline’s jaw clamped stubbornly as she fixed Rory with a look. But her stern look of reproval did not check Rory’s merry laughter as it pealed out. Rory had forgotten Saline’s weave, and her altered laugh tickled Saline very much. Suddenly, she became alarmed, and very aware of her own alteration. Saline tried desperately to think of Mina Daryl, modern art, and dead raccoons, but they were no use. She could not stop the laugh from pushing out, and when it happened, boy. Her HAHAHA’s filled the clearing and the clearing only drumming against their frail bodies and making them fall to the ground in one heap. The Circle of Silence she had set contained the range of her sound, while making it more powerful. It did not end until Rory changed her voice back. Her good humour restored, Saline considered Rory for a moment: her squeaky laugh had stopped and she sat on the grass, smoothing out hair that was shaken by Saline’s voice. Rory had enjoyed herself, and so had Saline, in a sense. It would have been lesson enough for another, but Saline was only starting as she rose, lifting her skirts above her knees as she navigated past the puddles, and led them to a small pond. It had been still during the winter, but in the sunny morning, its waters glistened with life. Smiling she asked Rory to fish some pebbles from the pond; the other did so while Saline embraced the source, explaining the threads involved. “This weave is called the Air Shield. It can be used for protection by deflecting objects. The greater your strength in Air, the more solid your shield will be, and the stronger a barrier.” She drew only on the Air element and quickly twined the threads around themselves, the flows melded into one another into a sturdy mass in shape of an invisible shield in front, taller in height and breadth than Saline, who asked ever so softly for Rory to throw the pebbles at her. She expected bruises from the hard little projectiles, and sometimes flinched, but the shiny pebbles simply bounced off. “Good, well, you can practice that in our room later. It is not particularly complicated, after all with only one element.” Simple; efficient; with purpose: the air shield was a marvel to the aspiring accepted for these reasons. True, getting to throw stones at someone did help out in the entertainment department, too bad none of them struck home. Rory toyed with the idea of trying the air shield out on Saline in varying ways during the night. Her roommate had just given her unconditional leeway to use it in her spare time ... no spoken conditions. The others, those little rules of courtesy and politeness, weren’t really important. Of all the weaves Rory had been shown, even that pretty flash of light, the air shield was by far the most captivating. So much potential exploration! What if she wove different shapes, what if she added other threads, what if, what if! In her limited and somewhat small beer experience she had come to see that the simple things were often the most complicated in the end and her mind raced with the possibilities ... and her eyes focused on the water. Could she ... would it be possible? Her eyes took on a manic gleam and it was all she could do not to strip down right then and there and jump into the water and try. Someone must have done it before, surely, how would the Aes Sedai know so much about marine life if they hadn’t? What was down there, after all? Some time she would come back and explore, but not with Saline left fretting on the bank, and only after severe testing. Rory was almost disappointed when the lesson moved on, but not quite. She was there to learn after all and wanted to see if her roommate had any other weaves she should find to her liking. With a smile the realisation struck her that id didn’t really matter what she learned so long as her pleasant day continued. Saline shivered. The sun had moved behind a cloud, and she rubbed briskly at the goose pimples on her arms as she introduced Rory to the next set. It would include a weave the Illianer had seen, but Saline had never touched on the why of her having lost control of the weave before. “Dabbling with the weather is considered advanced elementals and must be approached with caution. Weaves that affect the elements around us to a slight degree can be to our advantage, yet we must take care that we do not upset the balance, for flooding is as harmful as a drought, and no Accepted, or any Aes Sedai that ever was, is capable of controlling the world’s weather. We can but give little nudges.” She shifted her gaze to the water. “There are times when you will travel by boat, and you may either manipulate the wind so to create a gale or,” Saline wove Green around the corner of the pool and used Blue strands of Air to move the lower part of the water, causing the whole mass of water to turn on itself, “a wave.” The waves became smaller in the series when she directed Air to the upper part of the water instead, and finally the one she made lapped at their feet. Letting Rory practice the weave a few times until her waves, too, crashed at their feet Saline continued: “The weave to make waves can be altered, and this is a rather nifty reflection on how its shape relates to function. If you pick out a perimeter of the size you want, and base it on a triangle,” Saline suggested as she channeled Water around the centre of a triangular weave, “like thus, then it becomes a Whirlpool. Place too much Air, the Water will turn too vehemently onto itself and your weave will collapse.” She warned Rory. Saline was not strong in Air but she had a fair amount of practice, which gave her expertise in experience, which showed as she raised a Blue column, gently setting in a spin a little touch of Blue amongst the Green threads. “Use Earth where the Water would go and it is a Duststorm. I had my share of difficulties with this weave, but with enough time and effort, even the most mediocre can do very well creating winds.” Saline picked a willow drooping over the water then sent a solid strand of Air over top of the tree before latching it into an elaborate weave of Green. The leaves rustled as they lifted themselves out of the water, spraying the cold duckweed everywhere, on Rory and herself. Saline grinned as the sun peeked through again. “This is a Pattern of Air. I remember when Perine Sedai first showed me the weave, how the artificial wind would shower down maple leaves (like a spendthrift with his coins), and it frightened me.” This was conversational, as she remembered thinking that a person who could not see threads or weaves might suppose the wind was natural, and not a strong current of Air. Rory yawned and covered her mouth with a dip of her head. She had not meant to imply that Saline’s lesson was dull; it was purely a reflex action to the sudden wave of fatigue. Not sudden in that it only just struck her, but sudden in that she only now became aware of its existence. It was hardly a surprise; her constitution when it came to saidar was not vast. It was more impressive that she had not succumbed sooner. Even so, she would finish this lesson if it killed her! Having been warned constantly of the dangers of manipulating the threads when tired, Rory knew well her limitations and would not push them while Saline was present. Having not witnessed the destructive power of a weave gone awry she couldn’t state with conviction she believed in it totally, but why take the risk? Other than the selfishly human desire to test, test, test! The water weave was interesting, but didn’t seem particularly useful to her, but then she never fancied herself requiring of such methods as she wasn’t inclined to go gallivanting off around the land on a boat. She had put into it for all she was worth though, if only to impress Saline with her gumption. Everyone knew she was weak and there wasn’t a slim chance they would be allowed to think her unskilled and lazy in addition! She had managed the waves okay, okay for her first time, but was not game to attempt the whirlpool or rising column of water. It took her several moments to remember when she had first seen the whirlpool weave. That particular period had been rather emotional after all. Ah. Yes. It had been on the stairwell. Saline had woven to stop her mad flight down the stairs, which had ended rather satisfyingly. It had been a system shock to find a swirling mass of water in a place one normally associated with being inviolate. It had been her first example of saidar at work, not that she would come to understand that until later when emotions had cooled enough for her to analyse the situation. On that note she decided she really ought to do something about all of the internal dialogues she was having of late. It was setting a very bad example. Saline was so giddy about flaunting all the delightful variations from the same weave that she had not paid attention to her student, and the fatigue showed. Though Rory must have been taxed, she listened attentively. Come to think of it, Saline was tired as well. Her Taraboner accent lilted throughout the soft speech, as it often did whenever her guard was down. Rory and her, they had their public displays, no affectionate gesture other than a smile was needed in private: “You have done well. Let us go!” On the way back, Saline plucked a rose from the garden, avoiding the touch of its thorns. Its gentle fragrance drifted toward them, coaxing forth a smile. She unfurled elements, one after another until all five colours settled into a more intricate pattern than they had seen so far. Brown threads pierced the Blue and Green, then the Silver and a razor thin edge of Red at the end of the stem. Nothing appeared to have changed about the rose as the weave set, and Saline tied off her weave deftly. “This is a Keeping.” She said. Simple; elegant, the Keeping had been used for anything on preserving chickens to harvests and grains, but it could also be employed for one’s own pleasure. Stopping the Illianer for a moment, she secured the rose, fingers flying in quick motions as they curled Rory’s dark hair around the thorns, and eyed the bloom where it was fastened. Saline thought the other looked radiant as she stepped back to admire her work. “Thanks for a wonderful morning.” She was smiling again. She leaned forward, her stomach fluttering as Saline placed the flower in her hair. She experienced a disquieting urge to look pretty in that moment but had no way of doing so, and became angry at herself for wishing to. With a sharp exhalation of breath and a furrowing of brows Rory started to berate herself internally, and if one were to step inside her head the conversation would go something like this…. You do be an idiot. No do be arguing. Cut it out! Having not yet managed to deliver an internal kick she wisely chose to leave the argument where it was and come back to it later, and with that out of the way she was able to return her attention to her roommate and that horrible look in her eyes that made Rory wish she had worn something cleaner, if not prettier and had her hair tied up. Fortune prick her eyes! She didn’t mean it. Not really. They were so very nice to look at, even when looking back. Word’s failed her and she didn’t go looking for spares. She was tired, hungry, and quite sure Saline felt the same. She could thank her in return for the day, say that it was her honour to be instructed, not the other way around but there was no need for it. Rather she took Saline by the hand and resolved herself to whipping up a quick lunch. Nothing fancy. One day she would bring Saline home to the inn and treat her to its best stew. Rory’s father made the best stew…. Saline & Rory OOC: I know it doesn't look it, but there are ten posts in here. Read them and weep.
  7. Two spots of colour rose to her cheeks when she saw what Nynaeve Sedai had done. No woman should be so immodestly dressed in front of anyone but their lover. It was indecent—immoral! Her exposed thighs shivered with the sudden change in temperature. Rory was more than embarrassed. She was humiliated. But Rory was not the kind of girl to accept humiliation with dignity and poise. There would be consequences. Not now, while she was nothing short of helpless against saidar … eventually. Any rebellious child knows how to wall themselves off from censure and punishment, and it was a technique at which Rory excelled. She set her jaw firmly, in that stubborn pose any parent will recognize immediately and listened in silence as the Aes Sedai continued her little rant about “hypocrisy.” Her fists itched with the desire to press against sanctimonious flesh and her heart beat a little faster. She would never make it far enough across the room to connect, she knew, and the punishment would only be worth it if she did. Her place in the tower: as far as the novice was concerned she had no place in the tower and would be leaving and the nearest convenient exit, thanks much. Saline wasn’t a bad sort, not really, and it wasn’t her fault that Rory was being such a b…. Nynaeve Sedai was a bit touched in the head, Rory decided, and she wanted to be out of there as quickly as she possibly could be. A reply was expected, but she refused submit in any way. Rather than answering the question she decided to taunt, “If you do be wanting to see my legs, you only needed to ask!"
  8. Even tired and a little on edge, Rory was intrigued by the small collection of knowledge before her. She devoured each and every hand-copied word. Unlike the Brown Ajah that collected knowledge for the sake of study and research, Rory was interested only in those weaves with “practical” applications. This wasn’t to say that she downplayed the importance of archiving and securing, she approved of this very much, but she preferred to be the explorer than the recorder, and she knew that much kept within the Tower’s Library would never be used by her. The collection was incomplete to the eyes of the Accepted; it was logical to assume that a full sister would consider it “foolish.” She could run and fetch an Aes Sedai, like a good little Accepted and simply accept whatever truth she was given, or she could take this opportunity with Saline and discover something for herself. In theory there were ways for a normal man or woman to defeat one possessing the “art,” but would that theory stand tall in the face of repeated testing? Would it indeed…. “Hmmm. It do no be a matter of ‘disagreeing’, you have put a lot of effort into this. I do be impressed. But what if, say, you were to shield him first, not that do no be looking cute in his outfit,” wink, “but a simple shield would be offering more protection, I’m thinking. No? Here … will show you.” Rory fumbled for the source, managing to glare at the other two at once and daring them to mock her shortcomings in anyway. It was not long before the soft glow of saidar surrounded her, bringing with it the transcendental ecstasy, and most importantly the double vision. She gave Saline an unpleasant look roughly translating to, “pay attention or I’ll box your ears!” and waited for her roommate to surrender to the power. No verbal communication was needed. Rory had the necessary skill to make a saidar blueprint, but lacked the strength to see complete it as functioning weave, well, a weave with more than scant and really quite useless protection. She would show Saline what she had in mind, and then Saline would have to perform the weave over her tower guard friend. The basic concept was an inverted amplification weave, a cone surrounding the body, but this weave was not woven so tightly as to stop the passage of all air. More like a lattice work of air, interlaced with water and earth, even though the former’s inclusion was an added protection rather than necessary. Rory knew from a little experiment that too much concentrated air in any one place when brought close to fire had a very explosive reaction. The bind of earth would dampen the air’s flammability … in theory. Saline did not need to know that Rory was as of yet unsure as to whether or not this was truth. Repeating the weave several time in miniature so that she and Saline were familiar with the idea, she gripped Saline’s hand for support. There was no real reason to do this, but moral support was nice, and so was the feel of Saline’s touch.
  9. She had tried, really she had, but despite her attempts she could not sleep without Saline being safely tucked in beside her. It was not a staggering dependence issue; more the uneasy belief that her roommate could be getting into mischief without her, or even trouble. Fortune prick her if anything happened to Saline while she was lazing beneath the blankets. Rory would have to search for her and then bring her back to bed, she wasn’t going to get any rest else, and that was that. Rory had been searching practically everywhere; even made a detour the juniper tree. In so doing she may have cut the edge of curfew but it was nothing compared to the all-nighter Saline had pulled. And do you think Rory had slept two winks during the night? Not likely. The room was too silent solo and simply reminded her that her roommate had yet to come home. Well, when Rory found her, she’d be in for it. Rory was less than enthused when she found her. Tired, hungry; grumpy, yes, it would be difficult to be any less enthused. After all the time Rory had spent worrying she would have expected to see Saline injured. No matter. There was no rule saying she couldn’t inflict an injury herself. And with a boy? Typical. Just typical! Sound travels well in the night, and Rory was able to make out the last statement spoken. As she closed the distance between herself and her targets she responded, infusing her terse reply with more venom than was genuine, “Please, please, no do be stopping on my account!” She stopped in front of Saline and punched her in the arm with all the force she could, “that do be for keeping me up all night.” A painfully intense embrace and hard kiss to the cheek, “and that do be for being safe!” The scent of Saline’s hair and the residue of soap on her skin took a lot of steam from the pique, but not before she was able to round on, Narome, was it? She jabbed him hard in the chest with a finger, “ you do be knowing better than to keep a woman out all night!”
  10. Her eyes opened, twin slashes in the darkness, expanding to silver ovals capturing the moonlight. Two hands, with slender fingers, rubbed those eyes furiously. She yawned and then sat up, continuing to rub her eyes. She'd be sorry later, but now it felt great. A few stretches later and she was standing in the darkness, pursing her lips and selecting appropriate clothing. It was several hours passed midnight to Rory's reckoning; high time to get up. She glanced across the room to the other bed and its sleeping occupant (not for long!), still asleep. Good. This had to be done with the utmost delicacy and subtlety, or she simply wouldn't go for it, and Rory was not strong enough to do it alone, much to her chagrin. No. It was necessary that she had a willing partner in crime, and therefore she would be very, very, insidious.... A short jump placed her standing on top of the bed, and from there dropped down to straddle the sleeping form. "Saline, baby, I need a favour." Quickly fashioning a light from saidar, she waited until Saline ran her hands through her hair and opened her eyes, however, blearily. "Good morning precious, look, it's time to get up!" Rory pointed to the small globe. "The Sun is up!" Saline's eyes widened and she sat up so quickly as to almost depose herself of Rory's physical company, until she realised other than the small globe and its light the rest of the room was still bathed in darkness, at which point she rolled her eyes, groaned and lay back down. Rory peered down at her, "No, no, no precious, I need your help!" Saline's answer was an unintelligible string of noises. "Good enough for me!" With that, Rory leaned down, kissed Saline full on the mouth and jumped off the bed. She gave Saline a further ten seconds before flinging her bedding aside, grabbing her by the ankles and yanking her clean out of her bed. "You may want to put some clothes on, and hurry, games are afoot!" Meanwhile, the unsuspecting accomplice slept. It was a heavy sleep that she threw herself into with the heartiness of one who craved sleep. An epic attempt, no doubt, had it not been cut… She could not breathe. One dark eye popped open from the pressure, espied a Rory shape, and closed itself. Despite the stuffiness, it remained closed, exploring the redness inside her lids. Funny, that wasn't there before. Nor was the weight on her chest. Oh, she knew her pixie of a roommate was sitting there, her legs squeezing the air out, but could not bring herself to move. If Rory wanted to share Saline's bed, fine; it was not worth arguing over. She tried to roll over, ignoring the other straddling her. Unfortunately Rory kept calling her name, and Saline reached out as if to swat the girl away, but her reach fell short of its mark. Sweeping a quick hand through her curls, she had to settle for glaring at the other… and the sunlight beyond her. Dear light, how she overslept! The shorter woman shot up, and her heart kept going. She gasped as her hips bucked, almost dislodging Rory – alas! the other's weight consisted mostly of muscles. The startled Accepted immediately groaned as her head swam. Her vision went black except for the light centered in her gaze. It was pretty, and reminded her of the captured lights they used to do in Intermediate weaves. Her teacher had not liked her being late; none of them did. And Saline was sure, sure that Lyssa would be disappointed in her this morning. Fervently hoping she did not miss her scimitar exercises (for unlike Rory, she actually needed to get in shape), she tried to see the time from her bed. The hand of the clock on the mantel was fuzzy, mainly as her vision remained dark. She groaned again as she looked at the light washing … only the space where Rory resided. Rory's eyes seemed ever so large as they danced, alit; Saline's rolled when she realised how easily she had been duped. Rory was pretty, but not enough to catch her attention. She would never budge from the bed until she was ready, not until dawn, no matter how Rory begged. No, she was determined not to fall for any tricks again. Her mind drifted as she tried to communicate this to Rory, or rather she mumbled strange sounds through the shroud of sleep. They did not make sense, even to Saline. So tired, she thought as she tried to go back to sleep. Then the impossible happened. Rory kissed her, effectively banishing any further notions of sleeping. When she realised what happened, she nearly screamed from the frustration. She would have, if she were not such a heavy sleeper. Saline sat, waist deep in sheets, confused, tired, and ready to cry at the way she had been violated. She had worked hard during the day, both of them had, and hard working women deserve some sleep, do they not? Wondering wherever did the Illianer get so much energy, Saline blinked as the other lunged toward her and reached... Ouch! This, was too much. Books slid as Saline Wastrel cried out. She rose from the pyre of crumpled bedcovers and landed on the floor, a frumpy peacock topped with mussed curls. Saline stared stupidly at her roommate for a moment, and then walked to the other side of their room. She needed to wake up, and there was just one way to do it. Saline fended off Rory's fingers as she assessed the basin. The water had frozen, she knew because she tested it. Withdrawing her hand, she lowered her face in before it came out again, scarlet and shaking droplets everywhere. Okay, less groggy now. Rory had danced out of her reach by then. She peered at the clock, then down at her wet shift. "Games?" Her voice cracked in that forbidding way that only people woken prematurely would know. Rory was undeterred, for she and Saline's other roommates had become accustomed to the Taraboner's love of sleep. Rory's predecessors had resorted to pinching her awake in the mornings, but this hour was too unearthly to be awake."Rory, you know I'd love to play with you but this woman needs her beauty sleep." Her gaze took in Rory. The Illianer's eyes glinted as the devilish creatures behind them thought of some dauntingly clever thing. So, I'll be better company in the morning?" Saline concluded, weakly. Rory considered Saline for a moment, wearing naught but a shift, water dripping through her hair and down her face. She was pretty, but not enough to catch Rory's attention, either. Odd that she would add that last part, but she couldn't quite quash the feeling that Saline had been thinking that very same thing about her but minutes earlier. It was therefore highly likely that the entire thought from Rory was nothing more than retaliatory action against Saline's alleged one. She averted her gaze quickly, feeling a moment of sympathy for that indecently clothed roommate of hers. Rory herself had been too embarrassed to leave her room the first time she had found the undergarment waiting with her dress. Surely a place as sophisticated as the White Tower could develop underclothes more in keeping with public decency. What about strong breezes? One was almost too afraid to step outside, and what about stairs? Saline was standing silent and bleary like a touched child and that simply wouldn't do at all. Rory knew she was tired, Saline was always tired. It was merely what one came to expect. She did share one thing in common with Rory, if to a stronger degree. The invasion of one's personal space was a definite no-no without express invitation. Well. Rory was open to convincing. Perhaps a small reminder of her precarious position would speed her mentor up! Did Rory just refer to Saline as her mentor still? Why yes she did. Rory menaced—what other way was there to describe it?—her way towards Saline, who leapt backwards to avoid the advance. Sadly the only thing in that direction was the sink and her eyes grew very round when she realised there was no escape. It was true, Rory could be unpredictable, which she heartily displayed by wrapping her arms around Saline's soft waist, looked her in the eye and began to loosen her shift: "You be doing this yourself, or should I continue?" After Saline had climbed down out of the sink and changed into not only a dry shift but her dress as well—amazing how quickly the woman could move with a little inspiration. Rory was very pleased with herself, to say the least—Rory grabbed her hand and dragged her out the door behind her, her voice a low hiss. "Quick! Estel Sedai do be expecting us!" Snap. Worrying her curls back and clipping it crisply with a band, she unhooked her chemise with haste as she could, digits all thumbs, before Rory could take over. Of course, Rory's eyes were not on her, she would have felt them studying her, but they could be. That made her scramble. Flushing, she pulled the cotton dress overtop, in through where the arms were supposed to go, and struggled before her head popped through. The bodice of her Accepted top stretched across her shoulders, unlike the loose shift she just shed. After hanging the shift, Saline smoothed the fabric down her thighs, shivering as she felt its softness on her. Decent once more, Saline turned to her roommate, who paid Saline courtesy in averting her eyes. Saline remembered how reluctantly Rory wore an issued dress when she first came to the Tower years ago, preferring her fashionable tunic over tights combination. It was not an unusual condition for the women here, quite a few initiates loathed the white dresses; her latest student, Tirzah Behen had taken to wearing boy's clothes. Rory would like the Behen twins, came the unbidden thought, which made Saline smile. As easy to dirty as they were hard to clean, Novice dresses were the cause of many a headache to Mentors and students alike, and for Saline, who lived with the Tinkers before, her students' aversion in wearing white was easy to relate. Saline herself thought the dresses suited her colouring poorly, and besides, there was already a White Ajah (won't it be better if they all wore purple or something warmer, more flattering?), but looks and technicalities weren't important. So long as one kept clean, ate well, and exercised, all was well. She had just enough time to dry wash her face once more, before Rory's hands captured her. Saline permitted herself to be dragged out, watching with lazy eyes the tanned arms that had encircled her waist and sent her to flight minutes ago. Rory had a gift for drawing people out, so that they would have fun. Around Rory, anything seemed possible. However, the Tower, to which Saline was bound, did not have the same definition for fun. The blood in Saline's face drained when Rory said they were going to see Estel Sedai. "Not her wall Rory, I forbid it. Estel Sedai's not expecting a hole there." Saline thought she knew what was going on. But Rory only shook her head and said... "Hush. Estel and I do be getting along fine now. That was an unfortunate misunderstanding. And now she do be helping us tonight. All of us." The winding passages of the White Tower unfolded behind her eyes; she knew which way to go, and which routes were favoured by the sisters of truancy watch. The halls never ceased to intimidate her though, not from her first mad flight in an attempt to flee. This night was special. It had taken months of painful preparation and planning. Nothing could spoil it. Her only regret was that Lillian Sed—Lillian could not be part of it, too, but she wouldn't hold it against her, Lillian was a sister now, and she had duties to attend to. Rory couldn't wait to see the expression on her face. Saline was with her, and that was more than enough. Without thinking she gave the hand within her own a quick squeeze. Had it not been for friends, Rory would never have succeeded in grasping the source. She would have burnt herself out, not through surrendering too much, but through frustration. Were it not for friends she would have remained trapped within the arches at the time of her acceptance. The thought was accompanied by another reflexive squeeze. Rory heard a noise threw Saline into a doorway, pressing them both against the rough oak. Footfalls and a soft light moved swiftly down an adjacent corridor. Rory kept herself against Saline, scarcely daring to breathe; enjoying Saline's elevated heart rate. One quick glint, a gin of hidden mischief and Rory's hands were gently curling ringlets into her old mentor's hair. "If you do be enjoying this so much, I promise we can continue later! Come on!" She grabbed Saline's hand once more and set off through the halls again. Soft slippers filled the grooves along the way, and her poor heart was melting with each step they took. Sensing Saline's fear, Rory squeezed, her long fingers twining Saline's tighter. Saline could not see the Illianer's face in the dark as they moved together, but knew Rory was smiling. The smile was in her bouncy steps as she led Saline, as they danced the elaborate pattern of the halls, avoiding the lit areas where Sisters patrolled. Saline had acquired a fair number of curfew incidents when she first gained acceptance, and as expected over the years, the many months of unpleasantness should have deterred further violations. Older, but no more wise, the Taraboner quivered as she mistook the drumming of her heart for footfalls. She made no attempt to free her hand from Rory's as they navigated through their quarters, a fair distance along a corridor where the Novices slept, and down a long flight of stairs. On those very stairs Rory had fallen, the first time she tried to run away. That memorable debut roamed Saline's mind all too freely as they picked up their skirts with their free hand, trying not to rustle. They descended the stairs carefully, watching each step. It was narrow enough, and dangerous considering how her roommate had knocked Estel unconscious when she pushed the Aes Sedai out of the way. Stranger and stranger. Saline was awed by how drastically Rory's perspective had changed, and hers as well. Saline liked Rory, but she was at a loss how she was to interact with her student, so she ran away from Rory instead. Funny enough she first realised what was happening here, during Estel Sedai's punishment for the Mentor-Mentee pair. In this very lobby through the Blue Ajah quarter Saline admitted to herself that she neglected Rory. It had taken some effort for her to communicate her intent on helping Rory, but all in all they had helped each other. Rory helped Saline improve herself, and over the years, brought many significant memories for them to share. She remembered the pride, the concern, and the happiness that overwhelmed her when her student went into her testing, and returned to Saline, stronger than ever. Arms stronger than they looked whisked her out of sight, and she melted into that embrace, feeling Rory's lithe body press against her. Forcing herself to breathe she watched, wide-eyed as Rory released her hand, slender fingers twining into Saline's hair. Her heart was beating faster, curse it. It did not beat out of fear; that had dissipated, replaced by a warm surge of excitement. She did not smile though; Rory was, playfully. Instead, Saline wormed her hand out of Rory's firm grasp to give her roommate a squeeze, a subtle show of her support. So Saline, while not entirely happy, peered curiously as Rory slipped into the Blue's Quarters. A gesture told her to follow, which she did, swiftly. She was committed to Rory, and she intended to be. Saline & Rory! OOC: So ... basically I'm thinking this thread just has us all making our way to Estel's Study, and we'll do the pranking on another so it doesn't congest? I don't really know. I'm open to suggestions! Sign ups
  11. Talon hid his disappointment well. Aventari and Jester moved with great efficiency, and when he had entered the tent, all hope of his participating in anything interesting fled. Then again, last into the tent also raised his life expectancy considerably. A finger strayed to the hilt of his dagger. Its cool metal would drink deep its fill of life soon enough. Patience. Talon believed the taking of gai’shain to be a strange custom. In the environment of his youth, failure frequently meant a swift termination, or at least the desire for one. It was common sense. The Great Lord drew his share of servants suffering from paraphilias and fetishes for … unique experiences. While openly it was encouraged, the abhorrent practices seldom prelated “results”, and as everyone knew, heavy baggage only weighed a man down. The Aiel were considered one of the most intimidating martial forces to ever exist, and Talon would not deny that they were difficult to overcome if one chose to fight by honourable rules of warfare, which naturally Talon did not. But their ji’e’toh defied logic more than a Domani virgin and he doubted he would ever comprehend the deeper meanings. Noble savages?—Whatever. Babysitting detail, excellent! His chances of survival just quadrupled, not only would he have Jest and Aventari to hide behind, but his own herd of cattle. Sometimes the Great Lord treated him too kindly. This would be the simplest operation he had eve—what? She wasn’t going? Oh, The Great Lord treated him far too kindly. The corners of his mouth twitched in pleasure, even as his fist connected with the white robed westlander, who folded like the white sheet she was wearing. He did not mean to have hit her that hard … okay, maybe just a little. He hoisted her over his shoulder and raised his eyebrow in question, “Anyone else ‘not leaving’?” Amazing how quickly a person could obey when given the right incentive.
  12. Rory was teeming with excitement when she entered the infirmary and stood before the next Aes Sedai in line to “put her in place”. Not only would she disappoint the Aes Sedai in horrible fashion, but she’d do it in the infirmary! Having never been in one she was only fairly certain that it was filled with all sorts of gadgets, contraptions and maybe even magic potions used to heal others. No doubt she could find some additional uses for them. Oh yes! Her heart almost broke when the Aes Sedai spoke and frittered all hope away. She did not want to be here? That was rich, it was her infirmary. But she could leave, Rory would not mind, provided that she got left behind. There was far too much mischief for the young girl to find. And find it she could, as only she could, in that place where the sick people were laid. She had half a mind to stand up and walk out the moment she was given the choice, but curiosity checked the impulse. There was something fascinating about the inner workings of an infirmary, especially one for witches and fighters. Oh, there were bound to be some gory wounds within and Rory was simply dying to get in there already. Perhaps good behaviour, for a time, would not be too great a concession. Rory could not help but laugh and the display of pettiness. So like something she herself would have done in that position! Nor did she mind cleaning up the pieces of the broken tea pot. She did hope, however, that she was not going to be forced to do it with her bare hands. She liked those rather much. Perhaps she was expected to use one power? Well, she wouldn’t do that in front of any Aes Sedai, not when it was so difficult to surrender. She would be delighted to use her novice dress though! And that is exactly what she did
  13. Would the smock, streaked with the yellow reminder of washed blood, innocent and guilty alike, be enough to strike all romantic notions of his occupation from their minds; would it be too much? He did not agree that a lecture on “coercive persuasion” was necessary, or called for. Such knowledge was best safe-guarded from abuse by him and those others of his kind. Amongst the chosen was where it belonged and not gifted to every common soldier across the breadth of Amadicia. But Brandeis’ place was not to question, and as he was called so would he obey. Despite his misgivings. Too many forgot the function of the questioners in favour of the power earned by its title. Power. That is what it meant to be a questioner. Those on the outside saw only the fierce countenance of the shepherd’s crook and starburst, the outer fringe of their trappings. The moment of true might was best kept from the hands of the uninitiated, who would be ill-equipped to resist its seduction. The moment when the will of another broke, bent and twisted so by one's own superiority that it shattered like glass. It had claimed the souls of many a good man and Brandeis shivered even as he recalled his own courtship of exaltation. He had chosen the most unlikely of arenas for his lesson, a field of grass amidst the drilling fields for the footmen and mounted cavalry alike. He could have, in theory, taken them into the heart of the dungeons, but preferred to keep as far away from there as possible. He liked open spaces, and enjoyed watching the military precision with which drills were co-ordinated. Very similar to the skill a questioner would display with his “craft”, elegant; clean. Brandeis dressed in immaculate white, features hard and uncompromising. Lapis lazuli eyes assessed the group before him and he stood quietly, legs evenly spaced, hands clasped behind his back. He motioned for them to sit, like the children they were. An inquisitor of the light he might have been, but not one to fall victim to the rigmarole and formalities of office. If everyone went around being official, nothing would ever be done. He allowed his mind to descend into the pit of the torture chamber, the cold, unyielding mask of the questioner firmly in place. Some relished the craft with sadistic fervour, not so Brandeis, who bathed in the wickedness of man solely to further the light. His tone was flat, neutral, unimpressed and thoroughly efficient in its execution. Waste not. Want not. “I have been asked to speak with you all on the topic of coercive persuasion. A skill you may be required to call upon in your duties as soldiers. There will be no practical demonstration at this point, and to dispel any illusions I will not be teaching you to maim or torture an enemy. Questioning is an art requiring much skill and often times large degrees of subtlety. There is no room for sadism. “In the field you will not have access to the wide range of devices, implements, and scenarios we do, this is natural, as it is our vocation to extract the secrets and declarations from the lips of the Dark Ones minions. What I will give you is knowledge that you may apply directly to most situations. “Many believe there is physiological persuasion and psychological persuasion. This is an untruth, but as far as untruths go it is easy to swallow. The mind will always be your target, and the body simply another tool to reach it. They are one. When you strike at the body, you strike at the mind. And let’s be fair, the classical approach of causing as much pain as possible remains one of the most effective approaches to this day, but it is not the only one. “Fear, greed, jealousy; these, along with other undesirable traits possessed by the common man will be your main source of leverage, if you have the ability to utilise them. There are times when ones loyalty supersedes ones own fear of self-preservation, and in such cases a new tactic will be required, and rarely—very rarely—you meet a subject so strong that not even a skilled questioner can extract the information needed. It has happened before.” Brandeis bent down to pick up a stick off the grass. “This is a stick. We can all see it is a stick, but for the purpose of this discussion it is the human mind. It is your mind. It is my mind. There are many sticks; some are so strong that you could call them trunks, others so brittle as to be termed “twigs.” They all have one thing in common. Apply enough pressure, and--” The stick snapped with a loud crack. “I know it looks fun, but believe me when I say that it can be a lot of work. That is why I personally recommend the above: fear, greed, and jealousy. There are more, use your imagination. A person with enough of any of these attributes can be reasoned with, thus negating the entire need for anything more serious. Where possible you should try to reason with a subject before pulling out the sharp and pointies, it can save a lot of work. A little pressure here, a little pressure there and bam, problem solved. “Greed is the easy one. Money buys a lot of loyalty, and it can also betray it, but fear is your money shot. Threaten a man’s family, threaten his well being, threaten his vanity, and five times out of ten he will be willing to negotiate. These forms should always be followed before engaging in ... more physical methods. “Any questions so far?"
  14. “Two things that no woman hears until she enters this room. Once you begin, you must continue to the end. Refuse to go on, no matter your potential and you will be very kindly put out of the Tower with enough silver to support you a year, and you will never be allowed back. Second. To seek, to strive, is to know danger. You will know danger here. Some women have entered, and never come out. When the ter”angreal was allowed to grow quiet, they - were - not - there. And they were never seen again. If you will survive, you must be steadfast. Faltering leads to a failure.” The third time Rory had heard those words, and the first time she truly felt their impact. She had refused the Arches twice before, to waste everybody’s time. Both times she had had no genuine desire to test herself. This time was different. Her cleverness had come with a steep price, and there could be no turning back, no genuine fear would be heeded. She would either succeed, or she would fail, and she had come too far, done too much, to lose her resolve. She pressed the flats of her hands into her abdomen, an unconscious battle against her inner nervousness. Saline, her mentor, could not help her here, nor could Lillian, her friend. She would have given a chilled glass of anything to have had them there with her now, but she was alone, and she was more than a little frightened. Rory had experienced much, as a novice. While her rage and being confined against her will was not forgotten, nor perhaps ever would be, it had cooled considerably. It had been immensely pleasing to annoy her teachers, she would not dispute that, but she saw now that the White Tower maintained good points, as well as those bad, which had occupied all her attention for so long. She gulped then cursed herself internally. She did not wish them to see that their little test frightened her. Especially the Mistress of Novices, with whom she had had so many dealings in the past. Tender sections of her body well remembered those visits, and the subsequent switching. A small branch of pride rose from inside her, and she held fast to it for strength. It had been worth every second. “This is your last chance, child. You may turn back now, and you will have only mark against you. Twice more will you be allowed to come here, and only at the third refusal will you be put out of the Tower. It is no shame to refuse. Many cannot do it their first time here. Now you may speak.” Her last chance … she could not, would not fall. Oh no, she would prove to them all in their fancy shawls with their fancy powers that she was every bit as deserving of the title as they were. More so, quite frankly. Not that she’d utter that one aloud. Plucking at her dress self-consciously she answered, too fast and filled with jitters, but Rory was too pleased at having been able to answer to notice, “I-I am ready.” “Whom do you bring with you, Sister?” An unknown voice. “One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, Sister.” The Mistress of Novices. “Is she ready?” The unknown sister again, who Rory automatically disliked. “She is ready to leave behind what she was, and, passing through her fears, gain Acceptance.” “Does she know her fears?” Rory, who had been listening quietly thought, not really! “She has never faced them, but now is willing.” Not so willing as all that, actually. “Then let her face what she fears.” No thanks! The Mistress of Novices asked Rory to remove her clothing. Rory stood very still. They do no be serious? Ho—why—what? She couldn’t, they didn’t really expec—did they? They did! Rory’s face coloured to deep scarlet as she fumbled to remove her clothing, and luckily she was too busy trying to decide how best to cover herself from view as the Mistress spoke her final, ominous words: “The first time is for what was. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.” The fire from the hearth was roaring, and sweat beaded on Rory’s forehead and she moved quickly through the dancing patrons to serve ale to those taking rest from the festivities. Her mother and father would be dancing somewhere, probably in the kitchen, bothering the cooks with their cheery presence as always. Her patrons smiled gratefully as she placed the foamy mugs on their tables, and she reciprocated with a fond smile of her own. An outer reflection of her joy at being where she belonged, doing what she loved, with those people she most cared for. The inn would be hers one day and maybe she would have less time then for gaiety, but not now, where there was nothing more to life than living from song to song played by the hired musicians. Gleemen, who needed them? As she wound her way back through the dancers she could not help but swish her long skirts in a few impromptu dance steps as she headed back to the kitchens. Later that night, when business slowed down, she would have time to dance properly; no one would mind if she had a little fun between trays of ale! Later that same night, when business slowed down, she did indeed have time to dance properly. Her mother and father flitted about cleaning here, speaking there, laughing over there. There was, in Rory’s mind, no greater place on earth than her father’s inn, and she had no goal in life more earnest than that of continuing to work and dance and play until she was too old to step in time with the music. Her father beckoned, arm out stretched. She quickly moved toward him, when she noticed a bright circle of light behind her. How long had that been there? She turned back to her father, his eyes alit with laughter, and she smiled. He always made her smile. He motioned for her, and once more she headed toward him, but something in her mind made her stop. The archway called to her, she did not know why, but it was important that she step through it. Her father continued to beckon, and the smile slipped from her face as she glanced from her father to the arch and back again. She made her decision. Rory was back in the chamber of the arches, cursing furiously and remembering how much she’d have preferred to have remained behind. When she had composed herself, the unknown sister who she had decided she did not like poured water on her—cold water—and said the ritual words. Rory still did not like her. “You are washed clean of what sin you may have done and of those done against you. You are washed clean of what crime you may have committed, and of those committed against you. You come to us washed clean and pure, in heart and soul.” The Mistress of Novices brought her to the second Arch: “The second arch is for what is. The way will come but once. Be steadfast” Rory frowned and muttered, even while Saline and Lillian sat on the grass opposite her, all encouraging smiles and mellifluous phrase. There was no way to console her over her failure. How many years, and still she could not touch saidar, still had not felt that most desired of connections. It was easy for them to say, they had already succeeded and well beyond the point of failure. What was so difficult? Why couldn’t she surrender? It was simple. In the back of her mind came a vague sensation that she knew what it felt to be connected to Saidar, but she dismissed this. Now was no time for fantasies, now was the time for success. Much easier if saidar would submit to her, she was sure she could find a club big enough. She looked down at her hands, they were thin and sallow. Her obsession with the source had been draining her strength; she knew this but did not care. She had to succeed. She would not be left behind again! Again: where had that come from? She was losing focus again. Focus Rory, focus! Lillian tried to get her attention by grasping her hand, and Rory snatched it back with a glare. Lillian looked hurt, and Rory regretted the act, but now was no time to be distracted, she needed to succeed. She had to. What was left for her if she failed? She would be laughed right out of the tower, down each and every step. Out of Tar Valon, along every street and turn, and then she would return home a failure that could not even succeed at the most basic of lessons. A sudden light flicked and broke her concentration. Rory turned to see a shimmering arch in the distance, some accursed Accepted showing off the fact that she could grasp the source, no doubt. Rory had a mind to go over there and punch her in the eye. No. Now was no time to become distracted by a silly Accepted. She had to succeed! After several moments the thought drifted back. A black eye … just like Saline! Rory gasped and leapt to her feet as quickly as possible. Despite the protests of both Saline and Lillian she ran across the grass towards the arch. She could not be sure, but it appeared to be shrinking, and she was far away, too far away. The young novice tore her skirts as she ran with all the speed she could muster; still she did not believe it would be enough. Her vision became filled with the glowing archway and at the last minute she made a lunge … and landed hard on her knees. She grunted with the pain and gasped for breath, only to find herself once more in the hall of arches. “You are washed clean of false pride. You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean, in heart and soul.” Oh shut up! The Mistress took her gently by the hand and led her to the third arch: “The third time is for what will be. Be steadfast for the way back will come but once.” She could not cry. She wanted to, needed to, the tears would not come. She sat in a chair next to the hearth, eyes red with unshed tears and lack of sleep. Rory did not remember how long she had been sitting in that seat, her father’s favourite. It did not matter how long she intended to sit by the cold, dead ashes of the hearth, for he would never again kiss her on the cheek; take her into his arms and dance. No, he was dead now, his body as cold as the ashes of the unlit hearth. Her mother had taken to bed, unable to deal with the stress and grief, and so she sat, alone, wishing she could have seen him one last time: danced, one last time. Never again would music play within the inn, never would its doors open, not now that the spirit of life had been torn from it. Rory had received the message; Saline had read it to her. Even as her mentor had faltered over the words, Rory’s heart had broken and now she was here, in the place she had longed for, for so long but never been able to reach. Now she was here and it was too late. Why had he not told her he was ill? Why had no one told her, until it was too late? It was not so sudden that she could not have been there, held has hand, touched his face, or even seen his smile. A pale light began to gleam, but she ignored it. Her father had died, and with him her hopes and dreams, where could she go now? Saline was waiting for her, outside somewhere. She had needed to be alone with her thoughts and the memory of her father, Saline had understood this; she could not bear the sympathy on the face of her mentor. She would return to the tower … but could she truly resume her studies? Knowing now, what she did, that there was no home to return to? Rory stepped through the archway, even as tears began to roll down her cheeks. "Blood and bloody ashes!” Rory’s eyes widened as she remembered where she was. She had just enough presence of mind to slap her hands over her mouth, she had spoken quietly, but it was enough to receive a sharp stare from the Mistress of Novices. When Rory saw that the Amyrlin Seat herself stood there, she almost died. Rory walked to the Amyrlin Seat and knelt as directed, blushing furiously at her own faux pas. A third chalice of water was poured over here, and the Amyrlin Seat, arguably the most powerful woman across the world intoned the final pieces of the ritual. “You are washed clean of Rory of Illian You are washed clean of all ties that bind you to the world. You come to us washed clean in heart and soul. You are Rory, Accepted of the White Tower.” “You are sealed to us, now. Welcome, daughter,” Rory felt cool metal against her finger, and lips of formality pressed against her cheeks, “welcome.” Rory tried to smile, but she could not force herself to do so. She felt empty, empty and tired as though the arches had sapped all emotion and strength from her soul. Just as soon as she woke up, she would go tell Lillian and Saline all about it ... just as soon as she woke up.
  15. It was melt-in-your-mouth, oh-so-sweet delicious. And yet she did not quite understand why. It was a lot of fun sliding on her belly down the corridor; it was especially fun being caught and directing more difficulty towards her mentor. Saline tried hard, she really did. Yet interacting with her student seemed a difficult thing for her to do. Rory was not about to make things any easier: not on her, nor anyone else living inside the shining walls. Fortune prick the lot of them! She had watched the other novice scramble for purchase like a newborn foal, skirt over forehead, all legs and arms flailing. It was amazing how the entire fall was reduced to the speed of a stumbling crawl, and Rory was fascinated to watch it all unfold in slow-motion. Her eyes were bright with mischief and her grin of cruel delight was almost too genuine, and also very infectious. It was good to see another novice, selflessly lending a hand, and an arm, and a leg and even a bodice to the cause. No one could accuse Rory of not cleaning the floor. She had tried to keep it in, truly. At first her body had shaken with quiet mirth as she covered her mouth with her hand to keep anyone from noticing, but as the Novice advanced upon her—rage in miniature—the effort was too great. She laughed loudly and so hard enough that her ribs ached. It was, on a whole, a rather pretty laugh. There was nothing malicious or boding in its cadence, only a musical chorus of a young woman truly beside herself with humour. It was doubtful that the other novice would agree. Perhaps the inexplicably greatest moment of all was when her mentor interposed herself and stopped the other novice from doing something silly. It would not have been the first scrap Rory had instigated in the tower, and win or lose, she would have been the victor, but there was Saline, forestalling any violent clash. Rory had such a strange notion, that even though it had been but a moment in time, she had been waiting say … three, four weeks for her mentor to come to the rescue?
  16. Success was elusive. Progress ran in inches for one who measured in miles and even the milestone of finally being able to touch the source could not fully banish mild disappointment, but Rory had tried hard nonetheless. She vowed to master the basic weaves even if it took a lifetime, and at that point she was confident it would, but she never lost her smile again, for she knew she would succeed. Saidar came easier, but giving herself completely was difficult for such a stoic, headstrong woman as Rory, and the best she achieved was a considered two or three tries to success ratio. This was less than ideal, but she did not care. Not one whit. She was touching the source and she was learning and by The Creator’s woolly beard she’d not let something as inconveniencing as that slow her down. With Lillian’s help she slowly began to understand. Seeing the weaves as a textured double vision at first had been disorientating, and this was before even considering the potential for complicated patterns and designs. No, simply holding two visions, one slightly overlapping the other was enough to make her dizzy and give her a headache, which it had done, frequently. Mental fatigue was another serious hurdle, she could manage maybe five minutes at the start before the fingers of her mind went rubbery and she could not manipulate the bands of elemental essence. Lillian had warned her about trying to wield Saidar, as though she were capable of wielding anything more eldritch than a painted shoe, and that it could be lethal not only for Rory, but Lillian herself and anyone else near by. Rory believe Lillian when the Accepted spoke of generic affinities for men and women channellers, but had personally found no difference, each element was just as difficult to utilise as the next, which meant quite a lot, and she did not think that any one “colour” would become easier for her than any other, she was open to the possibility though, a bit of ease would have been nice. There were frequent times when Rory, not the most patient of souls, became frustrated and on the verge of a raging outburst, those were break times, when Lillian would distract her, or lead her away from the topic of saidar until she had cooled down long enough to try again. Concentration was difficult, and it was a tenuous thing, easily corrupted. As with all progress it built up momentum until one day, many months later, she managed to grit her teeth and bear exhaustion all the way through a single thread. Perhaps not much to any accepted, Aes Sedai, and even some of the more gifted Novices (of which there seem to be a great many) but to Rory she had just one some magnificent prize and with each minor achievement her face would light up with a smile as warm as the sun. She missed her parents terribly, but Lillian had put a stop to that by arranging to have letters delivered back and forth, and while she would occasionally cry to herself in the quiet night she was still very happy. The tower did not seem nearly so frightening as it first had, but she had not forgotten what she considered ill-treatment at the hands of the Aes Sedai, and continued to make life difficult wherever possible. Then there came the question of free days. At first Rory had spent those rare occasions at any of the local taverns dancing and making merry, but as the desire to succeed imbedded itself deeper and deeper into her head, she found that all she truly longed to do on her free days was sleep a very long time and have a very hot bath. And just like that many more months had passed and she had found the endurance to weave all four threads in a series. It had been such a silent improvement that she had barely even registered. She had a headache—so what—she needed a nap—so what—she had succeeded—yes! Her path was simple, she would collect more and more weaves, and then she would unleash retribution upon the tower and all its occupants … very, very annoying and possibly itchy, retribution.
  17. Cup of tea in hand, the young captain watched expectantly from amidships. His vantage certainly afforded him the best view, even if he did have to use his spare hand to shield his eyes from the creeping sun. Some of the recruits were fitter than others, this was as it should be, but Bobby Redpath wasn’t so interested in what men could do, as what men could not. Through his wide set legs he felt ever shift and nuance in The Merry Pauper, could identify within several heart beats any change or weakness of condition. He felt now the ocean’s gentle cradling. He knew, too, that his new recruits would feel it, strung out across the ratlines as they were. Any fool worth a pinch of salt could man the rigging at such times as this, but the sailor’s true pluck came with the storm. They would be tested … in time. Some of the regular crew saw fit to watch the spectacle and even engage in a little gambling, others swam, enjoying the temporary reprieve, and the rest were below decks engaging in more private pursuits—perhaps. They were content, and safe in the knowledge that their Captain would not cast off until untrained hands were no longer traipsing about his sails. What a mess that would make! He knew Mr. Sweeper was there, his presence coalescing like a maelstrom. He would be watching just as keenly, with different motives aforethought. The first mate would be enjoying the physical aspect, spotting early on which recruits were more agile, stronger, and swifter—displaying the best foundations for line riding killers. Bobby saw it as a chance to observe his students unseen. Who would help whom? Which recruits would form connections earlier on and with which other persons? Did any have it in them to trample others for “victory,” after all, they were all bound to the vessel—more or less—for the deals struck with The Great Lord, it was silently implied that some unsavory character attributes would arise. Bobby had seen the shroud climb countess times, and was well beyond registering surprise or shock at anything he had seen. Knowledge was power, and this exercise would be his first toehold over the personalities of The Great Lord’s servants. Drak had been earmarked as one with aspirations the moment Bobby had seen the unnecessary clash. It was true: John would grudgingly respect anyone who would survive a beating at his hands, not that the recruit would have without August’s help, but the Captain certainly would not. It had been gross misuse of resources and he had better not come to regret the situation. Drak could not have known that the first mate would respect survival, and to that end neither would the other recruits. It was possible that they maintained a distance from Drak due to admiration, respect, awe, such things were not too uncommon, but more likely they believed John Sweeper would unleash the wrath of the bore on him at some point and wanted to be very, very far away when it happened. For Bobby such a schism in his ranks was not permissible, if any man aboard could not be entrusted with the lives of all other sailors, his own life was forfeit. He would need to put a stop to any fracturing, and it took him until the end of the climb to engineer a consolidation of spirit among his new recruits … granted, he could not have done it without Drak. They lay, his recruits, in varying states of pain and exhaustion, sprawled across the breadth of The Merry Pauper. They had done neither well, nor poorly, but somewhere in the middle. They were not the fittest bunch he had come across, nor were they the most slovenly. It took any man, or woman’s, body time to accommodate the needs of a sailor’s life; they would all be sore come the morrow. “Well done, you have survived with few casualties … but I have bad news. It seemed to me, from the ground, that one among you saw fit to contravene my order and carry his belaying pin beneath his arm. This means, I’m afraid, that I will have to ask you each to drag yourself up off the deck of my ship and climb again. It is only fair that the man responsible leads the drive so … off you go, Drak, get started.” At that, John gave a smile like a punch to the stomach, strong enough to splinter wood. There would be no fracturing, not for a long while now. It would be interesting to see what happened next, after all: Captain Redpath wasn’t so interested in what men could do, as what men could not.
  18. Rory had ignored Lillian’s command that night and had indeed sought for the source. She had failed. Failed as she had every other attempt since that day, in the presence of Lillian, Saline, and even alone. When other novices grasped the source for the first time she watched their joy from afar, and whey they had created candle-flame sized fire she had envied, for she had not joined them, could not join them. At first it did not seem so bad, she did not really wish to do it anyway; it was but a necessary requirement in her pursuit of home and happiness. What did it matter to her how long it took, if she was forced to submit to the tower’s channelling or not. Soon she had told herself, soon I’ll be home with my father eating, drinking and being very merry. This perspective did not last long. That she was last in her classes did not bother her and that she had not yet grasped the source. But when newer novices, newer initiates to the tower began to surpass her, that rankled. As time wore on her own inability to make a connection soured her mood. The thing she had never wished to do, but would for the sake of necessity, became an obsession. She searched for answers wherever she could find them, books, other novices, accepted, and occasionally Aes Sedai themselves. It was an obsession borne of desperation to prove to all of her detractors that had what it took, that she was not a lost cause. And even though her theoretical knowledge of the source grew daily, often in those moments when she should have been resting, she had still be unable to reach saidar. She heard them with their whispers behind her back, how she was a disgrace; that she would never earn the shawl, that she would never touch the source. One of the things she specifically did not want to do was become an Aes Sedai, but the insults cut her anyway. Lillian, Saline, and others remained patient, despite herself losing all of it. On her rare free days when she was not looking for answers she was often making trouble in the city proper. Scuffles, scraps and all out physical combat, her inadequacies had slowly begun to eat away at her happiness until her disruptive behaviours had ceased inclusions of humour. And still she maintained her silent vigil, searching for an answer to her plight. She lacked sleep, stopped eating; lost weight and condition until she was little more than a shell of ambition. She refused to give up. They would not let her leave until she succeeded, or until she proved beyond all doubt that it would never be, and she could not stand the ridicule any longer. Now she sat once more upon the grass, opposite Lillian, despairing. They had tried three times already that day, Lillian as always remaining composed—patient—even sympathetic. Rory grinding her teeth, silently despising the knowledge she had been given of what skills she might possess, what abilities she could have—could have if she wasn’t so useless! She knew it by rote now. Eyes closed. Imagine a rose. Remove all distractions. The rose is yours. Imagine the rose being touched by sunlight—opening: nothing. Eyes closed. Remove all distractions. The rose is yours. Imagine the rose being touched by sunlight—opening. Nothing. Eyes closed. The rose is yours. Sunlight. Rose opening—nothing. Eyes closed. The Rose is yours. Sunlight: nothing. Eyes closed. The Rose is yours. Eyes closed. The Rose is yours. Eyes closed. The Rose is yours .... Rory screamed. Not just one of frustration, but of deep and total outrage, railing against the futility, the impossibility of the task at hand. She could not do it. She never would, all those late nights, all those hours of study and for what? What? Failure! Failure, failure, failure! She cursed violently, kicked the ground, tore grass and threw it. All impotent reflections of her barred desires, all as useful as attempting to open to the source. She spoke, not to anyone in particular, but to anything within range of hearing; said things she would not have said at any other time or in the presence good company; she had forgotten Lillian was even there. Her voice was tight, and her emotions threatened to force tears, but she would not cry. It wasn’t worth crying. None of this was worth crying over, she simply had to hold onto the thought that she did not want to be where she was, and that failure was acceptable. Indeed, preferable! “I no do be caring any more. You can keep your stupid tower, I give up!” And it happened. Her total acceptance of his inability, her complete surrender to the forces around her, unlocked a window through which she caught a glimpse of something more: something powerful. Without warning it swept across the horizons of her comprehension, through the window of her mind, and set her soul ablaze. The instant was beyond description, when the tender veil of her perception was lifted from her eyes and she felt the world around her for the first time, felt a frightening yet natural oneness. And the pleasure ... her mind reeled, even as her physical body yearned for more. And then, as quickly as it came, it was gone and Rory slumped to her knees. She stared at the ground panting for breath, unbound tears falling unashamedly among the grass. She could not suppress the melody of joy her heart was playing, and somewhere inside her she hated them for that.
  19. Rory had been experiencing a difficult time of it. From her last conversation with Accepted Lillian she had taken away a forbidding sense of gravity and resolve to do what was necessary. Saidar confused her more than ever, and certainly not for lack of trying. She had been to the classes, she had listened to the instructions but nothing stuck. In one ear, out the other and she could not remember more than basic rudimentary points. Then they had try to make her embrace the power, she got that—in theory. One of many faceless Aes Sedai stood at the head of classroom, making her close her eyes and imagine something to do with roses that had her blushing furiously. The fact that she was the only student in the room blushing made it get all the worse until she looked much the rose herself. She had failed. Once, twice, three times—more and more. The Aes Sedai teaching her had quickly presumed she was being stubborn, and she had been too ignoble to refute it. From there she was passed from instructor to instructor with no more luck or progress than the first; all of them damning her for some kind of miscreant. She hated those women. She was trying, trying her very best to open herself to this stupid source of this stupid power that all these bitches in their stupid tower found so very important. Without quite understanding why she told all this to Lillian, almost word for stupid word.
  20. The question could not be sincere. It was merely another lay up to some insulting or demeaning comment whereby her own position of servitude and will-less obedience. It never came, and Rory started to feel slightly foolish for the waiting. She cleared her throat and shifted in her seat uncomfortably. For all her large talk of not wishing to be where she was—absolute truth to a word—actually being asked a question rather than a command left her legless. The tea was hot and, above all, delicious. She felt more relaxed already. It was a hard thing to purposefully run amok for a day, especially with the inclusion of all that running, and the fight with her roommate, which had been fun in a way, until the glass had been brought to bear. There was nothing obviously entrapping through answering the question, so Rory decided to do it. The moment she suspected a trick was at hand, she would close up tighter than an Altaran purse. “I no be wanting to stay. Could say I be wanting to leave. It be no more complicated than that.” Sighing, Lillian set her tea down for a moment as she looked steadily at Rory. The girl was being difficult for the sake of being difficult now, but Lillian could and would be patient. Sometimes that was all that it took. "Look, I've brought you here to talk about this because I remember how difficult it was when I first arrived here. All I'm asking is why you want to leave, and why you are here in the first place." “Why I do be here? I do be here because some fat cow in gray told me so. That be all I know. Was not exactly given the choice between her and her impressive looking roughs. So far I be handed from one crazy trolloc kisser to another, and each had no pleasant words to say. Rory do this, they say. Rory be doing that, they say. They took my money and my clothing, and do be expecting me to wear some horrible white dress as though I be a child. “I wanting to leave because I should be elsewhere. I do be having a home, and this crazy tower filled with crazy woman is not it! I see no reason to stay and why should I? Everyone I have met is most unpleasant, and all they be wanting to do is mock me. I be intending to leave at the earliest opportunity, don’t you doubt” Rory drank more of the teas as though she were afraid it might disappear. Having witnessed whatever force had been used upon her, she did not doubt the possibility that the beverage might vanish with a puff of smoke, or maybe a dragon, if she displeased her hostess. The chair was so very comfortable. She realised for the first time how tired she was. "Ah, so you weren't told why you are here..." It wasn't a question, and it puzzled Lillian. Then again, if Rory had reacted abruptly, perhaps the Aes Sedai neglected to tell her. But then why hadn't the Mistress of Novices? It was confusing, but she saw a way to help immediately by giving Rory information she could use to understand her situation. "I'm surprised that no one has told you why you are here, and while I don't know the specifics I can tell you this much. You have the ability to channel Rory, you know how I bound you with air? You can learn to do that." Rory’s colour rose and she blushed. It is possible someone had attempted to tell her previously and she simply did not hear them. There was a large part of her time still unaccounted for, having been scolded by one of the nasty cows, only to wake up lying on a bed in some other place without knowing how she got there. IT had been a disorientating experience. When she heard the second portion of the statement, about binding things with air she snorted so expressively that tea almost came out her nose. It was a neat trick to be sure, but hardly one she could think of any practical use for. No. This simply wasn’t a sufficient reason and she said so. “That be all well and good, but magic tricks aren’t my home, and marble faced women are not a substitute for my parents!” "I'm not saying they are, no one can substitute your parents." Lillian didn't like to think on that part of her life overmuch. She had dealt with it, but it still didn't make it any less painful. "But there is a problem as well. Your ability needs training, and I don't mean it needs training just for the sake of it. If you don't learn how to control the power, you can manifest it unwittingly at the wrong times. Imagine being angry with someone and all of a sudden feeling a rush then that person being set alight. The control isn't only for the safety of others, its also for yourself. Especially if you manifested the power without help, a wilder, most women who do not learn to control the power die, and they don't die well. It’s a painful and lingering death, it was for that reason I was sent to the Tower by my parents when I was about your age." Rory paused, pretending to take it all in. She did not really understand what the accepted spoke of, having never experienced anything remotely like it in the past. It was like a horribly well rehearsed prank, very alien and strange. If she had any “special powers” she was certainly not aware of them herself. She did remember one of the cows saying something about an “ability to channel,” but at the time she was quite preoccupied at being pushed around like some kind of pushy-aroundy thing. Such a thing was also not what she wished to hear. She would have preferred to hear that her stay at the tower as being some kind of joke. That she could accept, magical powers? Bollocks. If what Lillian said was true, then the reasons for her imprisonment were a little less irrational and a little more logical. Rory could think of two women especially who could have benefitted from being lit on fire though. “You do be telling me that I be going no place soon, don’t you? “ Frowning, Lillian wasn't sure how her answer was going to go down, but the best she could do was give it and hope her explanation that followed helped. "Yes, for your safety and for those you love. If you go on untrained in the power, you manifest it at the wrong time, you could easily kill the ones you love as easily as the ones you hate. And I don't like to say this, but would you want the death of your parents on your conscience? All it takes is one uncontrolled slip and a lot of bad things can happen. The same reason I lost my home, the same reason every woman in this Tower lost their home. But we either have to learn to control the power, or we die." Rory sat very still for a very long time, letting the flavour of the words work its way through her mind. At first she dismissed the forecast. How could it be true? Nonsense! But as more and more time went on she began to get uneasy, if there were but a chance it could be true ... and she killed herself, worse yet, her father and mother, what would she do then. The price of her freedom now seemed almost too high ... but she really did not want to be there. Fortune prick me! This was terrible. The selfish part of her, the part that enjoyed revelry and dancing, wanted nothing more than to escape and she just knew if she tried hard enough she would manage it. The other part of her, the loyal daughter and decent person knew it was a bad idea if it was even possible that she may inadvertently kill another person. She had numerous bruises, black eyes and sprains to her name, but no actual deaths. That would cramp her carefree lifestyle somewhat, if not her conscience. Blood and bloody ashes! The momentum of her rebellion was quashed for the moment, and all she could manage to say was, “oh.” That turned out better than it could have, now that Rory appreciated the nature of her enforced enrollment as such, she seemed to have calmed down a tad. Well, not really a calm, Lillian didn't doubt that there was a whirlwind of ideas and problems going through Rory's mind, it happened to just about everyone when they arrived. "That might be enough for you at the moment, it’s a lot to take in. When you've had time to take it in, and perhaps a chance to rest as well, if you have further questions you can always come and ask. My door will always be open to you should you need to talk." "But now, we need to deal with this incident in your room." Frowning, Lillian finished her tea before setting it aside. "I should report it to the Mistress of Novices, but in this case I think what she doesn't know can't trouble her. We're going to go back to your room, and you are going to tidy up the mess. Hopefully the other girl has collected all the glass, I'll fix the window so no one need know what happen, and then I'm going to have a talk to her about not threatening people with sharp objects. After that’s done, I expect the pair of you will have some things to speak about, since you will be living with each other. Try to make peace with her whatever you do, sharing a room with someone you can't at least get along with is a misery better avoided, trust me on that." "Finish your tea, and we'll be going. And remember, if you need any help or you just want to talk, I'll be here most nights after dinner." Standing, Lillian walked to the door and opened it even as Rory finished her tea. Rory was no closer to freedom, and this made her sigh. That she was now less than willing to go to any length to escape was more depressing than the fact that she had been a prisoner, for now until such time as she found out more about this power, and how it applied to her, she could not risk the lives of those she cared about. Lillian was crafty, Rory had to give her that, but what did she expect, it was doubtful that anyone could exist in such a place without learning a few tricks. She was hesitant to finish her tea, as it was a nice reprieve. Right now she was not expected to be doing anything, not that the labour of cleaning up her own mess distressed her. No, hard work was a given, and something she was very used to. It was the horrible occupants of the tower, not the tower that bore her displeasure. Why they had simply not told her about the risks in the first place, rather, than push her buttons and insult her was a mystery. What a strange bunch. Well, if she was going to be sticking around in this tower, she was not going to be putting up with being looked down upon as though she had once lived on the bottom of a shoe. No, Rory decided as she finished her tea and headed for the door, that she most certainly would not do. Lillian & Rory I'm the cool one!
  21. As Vincent was contemplating how best to insinuate his chatty nature, Mr. Sweeper was contemplating how many uses there actually were for a tongue, and how few of them were necessary on board the Captain’s ship. Wind and water; the creaking of the boat and luffing of the sails, these were ocean sounds. John experienced a terrible vision of those sounds replaced by the sound of ceaseless gum flapping. No. This just wouldn’t do. Mr. Sweeper wished he did not have to tell the Captain what had occurred and why they would have to leave the port with all haste. If there were someway he could talk Jak into doing it … with a glance at Jak he discarded that idea. Jak looked as though he had been whipped and not the boy. Even the thought of the Captain’s displeasure was not enough to completely dismiss with the entire situation … save bringing the boy with them, but maybe the Captain would let John keelhaul, that was always fun. Bobby sighed, rubbed his forehead and stepped away from his desk. There was no need for a lecturing or even scolding; John knew he was annoyed, every angle of his manner reflected it. As always the Captain carried his cup of tea with him as he emerged from the hatch. The message had been sent out that shore-leave was prematurely cut short. The sailors would understand the importance of the announcement and return quickly, but even so some may be left behind: Irritating. Bobby looked at the newest member of his crew, for the lad could not leave The Merry Pauper intact. Jak had, through his act of mercy, stolen the boy’s free will. He was of a slight build, but would no doubt be useful around the vessel; if it came time to slit his throat, Bobby knew that his first mate would relish the opportunity. Seeing that the boy was about to speak, the Captain frowned slightly and moved on toward Jak, then decided against it. His senior officers did not need downdressing no matter how appropriate it felt. Instead, he turned back to the boy and commanded him to speak his name.
  22. The unnatural gaudiness of the outfit made Talon grimace, such frivolous misuse of resources was not a thing the assassin would find tolerable in any other situation. But then and there the necessity of the objective at hand made it excusable. He looked every part the gleemen, were the gleemen orating a sombre tale of tragedy. Talon felt it the wiser to resist the temptation of secreting weaponry about his person, such an act could only predispose him toward using them. It was in his nature to do so. Passing himself off as a gleeman would by far be his most challenging assignment to date. Seldom was there a need for deception. The “cut and thrust” of his specialty was—in most cases—self explanatory. To fool an Aiel he would have to lower his guard completely, to appear even mildly alert would invite death. Talon had arrived early, as was his way. A man who stuck to a routine soon found himself anticipated, which in his line of work was never good. It only needed to happen once to “end” a career. Talon had found it useful to always be early, even if no one knew how truly early you were. On this occasion he believed that enough strife existed in the city to distract anyone who may wish him harm. Aran arrived first. Talon Sneered. The ‘prodigal son’ returned, undeserving as all prodigal sons and just as unforgiven by Talon as by all younger “brothers.” The mere thought of “Jester” caused his pulse to quicken. Upon hearing that Aran had returned, Talon believed he could be remain objective ... but upon seeing him again—after so long—all that he believed drowned within a riptide of jealousy and hatred. Talon had seen—yes he had seen!—Aran and the other members of the guild, had watched from afar their camaraderie and kinship. He had felt the joy and excitement, a faint breeze upon his skin. But Talon had never been among them, been one of them. Never invited to join, but always ostracised, criticized: his sole companion the last breath, the spilled blood of the slain. Talon had worked in Jester’s absence, worked for the guild, for Aventari; and here, he who betrayed his kin and family returns and what grim fait awaited him: execution? No. Pain? No. Open arms and the warm embrace of family! And there was Talon, still at the sideline despite all his hard work, all his effort. What made Aran so much better than he? What did Talon lack that was so important? His feelings toward “Jester” could be construed as nothing other than unadulterated malice. Aventari came. Aventari, second father, leader of the Rogues: he who not only offered Talon a life, but furthered his education in the “arts.” Through him, Talon had achieved a mastery he may otherwise not have survive to know. His previous mistress, Courseia, had held strange views on the master servant relationship. Almost impossible to consider, but the agony of her rewards often outweighed those reserved for objects of her displeasure. Talon had 'left' her command with the larger portion of his sanity, even if at times he could feel it escaping his grasp, and the Guild had found him. He was competent, and desperate to find a way to make ends meet. The Great Lord of the dark would always hold sway over his heart and over his allegiance. But there had been room for others, to a lesser extent, especially when tempered by need. OOC: Sorry, that's about where my brain fizzed. I will add more up tomorrow if you think it needs it.
  23. Rory masked her surprise well, or so she believed. There was nothing in her narrow scope of experience to explain what had just occurred, or why despite all logic she was unable to pull her hands apart. She experimented, but only a little. It was a little hard to accept that she had just about been attacked with a fistful of glass—a rather risky idea—without even contemplating the invisible ... whatever it was that had just happened. She recognized her rescuer although she would not admit to having needed it. It wouldn’t be the first time she had encountered sharp objects. How the girl had managed to hold the glass without cutting herself was a feat, and at some point Rory would ask about that. It had the makings of a swell party trick. No, still unable to separate wrists. How very peculiar. For a moment she had believed the accepted had been glowing—for that is what she was, an accepted. The stupid ring said so. The woman she had punched in the eye had been wearing one just like it—glowing. What a preposterous notion. Rory had expended too much energy and was now paying for it with acute hallucinations. Yes. That was it. She just needed to lie down for a few minutes and everything would be better in the morning.... Rory glared at Lillian when the accepted sat down on the bed and posed her question: a glare of defiance with a stubborn set to the jaw. She had spent the day alternating between fear and anger at that moment settled somewhere in between the two, a nice healthy sprinkling of rebellion for flavour. “I be trying to escape. Yeah. You be hearing right. Escape. You no be keeping me here. I be trying for the window, but she”—pointing her thumb in the direction of Badriyah—“no be giving up her sheets.” With that she lapsed into stubborn silence.
  24. Rory wanted to scream, she wanted to throw a fit; she wanted to hit the other woman over the head with her chair; yell at her; degrade her. Hit. Bite. Scratch, anything to vent the impotent fury osmotically forcing its way into every cell of her body. Why was no one coming, why were they allowed to treat her like this? Take her from her home, take away her decisions. It wasn’t fair. No. It wasn’t just unfair; it went so far beyond unfair that it became ridiculously unrealistic. There was no expressing it, no ratifying, no “coming to grips” with the level of pure lack of choice she felt. She could do nothing. They would not let her leave; they would merely escort her farther down the halls to the next woman with even more degrading patronisation. If she resisted the guards would come. If she yelled no one would hear her. She was trapped. Trapped, alone and in a place frightening, foreign, it looked as those abducting women was something those people did routinely, none of them even batted an eye at her plight. Monsters. She felt drained, tired and weak, as though her heart had stopped beating and her blood flow had slowed to a crawl. Unconsciously her eyes closed and she left the room, the terrible room within the horrible tower within the evil city. She was home again, with her father and mother who loved her. Dancing, laughing....
  25. There, a man almost to the top of the shrouds, dropping his belaying pin. There a man slipping from the ratlines; Rat lurching forward with dynamic movements of his hands to cast a web of saidin and stifle the fall. As Bobby expected, the trainees—as a rule—held the pins in one hand till it tired, and then switched. One enterprising recruit had used a corded lanyard from around his neck to lash the belaying pin to his hand, using it as a mountain climber would a pick-axe, lodged through the netting. "You know what, you're right. I should just have you cut down the shrouds with them on it, and then we can throw their copses into the sea." Jak brightened considerably at the prospect, dead men didn't need their rations after all. They weren't underfoot either, or nauseating him with their incompetence. His tune progressed to a sharper key to reflect his enthusiasm for the Captain's suggestion. "Permission to retrieve a hatchet from below deck and make your idea a reality, Captain?" “For all your talents, Jak, you couldn’t pick up on sarcasm if your life hung in the balance, and just between you and me, if you weren’t so light-accursedly good with that guitar, it probably would. “With a few minor exceptions, this round of trainees seems more inadequate than usual. I would almost think a joke were being played on me if those who sent them were aware of humour’s existence. Mark me: you will have plenty of opportunity to bloody the decks before we are through. “As for that particular concern. Wait and see. The problem may correct itself. If not, by all means smooth the hull. It is you, after all, who have the most experience in requirements of th—" Bobby paused. With a slow, deliberate movement he pivoted, looking behind him. There lay one of his new ‘trainees,’ belaying pin in hand, lying awkwardly on the deck. His eyes were fixed towards the skies, and before the blood began to seep from beneath his head, the Captain already knew he was dead. Rat gave an apologetic gesture. Bobby turned back to Jak and gave him a look more telling than words. Following the Captain's gaze, it seemed to Jak that the Captain had been right after all, the problem would solve itself. Laughing darkly as he caught the look that the Captain gave him, Jak leaned forward to him. "I bow to your wisdom as always, Captain." Walking over to his fulfilled wish, Jak knelt down next to the corpse and got to work. Taking the man's belt knife, he used it to cut the man's purse strings. Claiming the sheath next, he replaced the knife and slipped it into his red sash along with the man's pouch. Noticing the quality of the man's boots, he took those too and tossed them clear of the body. Someone else could use them when they got to shore and they were necessary. While he wasn't a monster like Mr Sweeper, Jak was still perfectly capable of lifting the corpse by its shirt and belt, carrying it over to the rail and tossing it overboard. Spinning as it fell, it hit the water only to disappear in the undertow of the ship's passage. Cheerful about the entire incident, Jak ordered a couple of unoccupied sailors to swab the deck where the blood was beginning to congeal before walking back over to the Captain. Strumming a happy tune, Jak looked up at the remaining recruits as he stopped next to the Captain. They were only halfway and struggling, with the ratlines and with each other. "Dead man's coin says that we get another pair of boots before they're done." Jak was a mystery as far as Bobby was concerned. The man had experience, efficacy and efficiency. Where these came from ... Bobby was wise enough not to enquire. If a man wished to keep his past a secret, there was a good reason, and it was not worth losing a fine sailor over. Who, or what Jak may have been was unimportant: that he followed orders was important. That he knew the design of The Merry Pauper upside down and backwards—that was important. The first few experiences with Jak had been interesting. It had given Bobby a good excuse to rid his vessel of various distasteful corporal punishments. It was not as though Mr. Sweeper required the cat to inflict pain: his arms were as hard as the brass monkey and his fists struck like cannonballs. Bobby almost pitied the trainee who had been on the receiving end. Almost, but not quite. In response to Jak’s wager, he snorted. “Why not just ask me to wager against my having eight fingers and ten toes?” It might have been cliche to say that Jak chuckled evilly, but that was the best way to describe the way that Jak expressed his amusement. At the rate the recruits were going, there was going to be another happy sailor who was going to get an early Bel Tine. As for the coin, he'd end up putting up a game of cards or dice or some other form of competition for it, it was good for morale. It had been worth inviting the Captain to increase the pot nevertheless, maybe one last try. "I could go and bring August up on deck, just to make it sporting." Bobby laughed. There was something about Jak, he was so ... he was just ... Jak. Shaking his head with laughter the Captain walked past his lieutenant in search of a cup of tea. Sporting indeed!
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