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  1. Welcome back! Always good to have other Aussies around. I haven't read Stormlight, but I probably really should... Enjoy!
  2. I... don't know what animal crossing is 🤔 but I'm super envious that you have bath jets!! Reminds me I have one stretch that really helps take the load off my lower back when my sciatica plays up (hopefully that link works, I think you can also do it seated). I've just been searching Youtube for yoga vids... picking out ones that target trouble areas/have instructors that are enjoyable to listen to. 'Yoga with Adriene' seems to be ok so far!
  3. I think that's completely... human. Hierarchy of needs etc, it's a lot harder to focus on 'frivolous' when the world is feeling thick with threat/ uncertainty/ pain (also, boo! Sciatica sucks 😕 ) Do you get any time for R&R? Even just half an hour for a nice bath or something pampering with no pressure to do anything else but relax here and there might help! I've started attempting some gentle yoga this week- it's surprisingly nice and grounding/fortifying 🙂
  4. *crashtacklehugs* Boooo Depression - saps so much energy, hang in there! If you want to try smaller pieces or a RP lmk 🙂 I should be free of (M. Teach prim/seconday what am I doing?) assignments in 3ish weeks. How's the home teach transition now? Is it expected to last much longer where you are? Our kids went back this week o.O
  5. Hello, welcome back! Looks like I started WoT just a few years after you... were you on DM before '09 with a different handle? There are a few of us 'oldies' still around/popping back in and out after absences who might remember ... Enjoy the return and re-read!
  6. Five Weeks Ago "Very good... That shadow over there means that there's low ground in that area. A clever enemy could hide a company there to make your life interesting. The Aiel could hide a bloody army in that, but they're...unique." Eb grinned, despite herself. The bloody Aiel cou- - It's not the bloody Aiel we're hiding from. The smile dropped from her face like a stone into sand. The flaming Aiel had never, that she knew, sent assassins and dreadlords their way, or had them traipsing for weeks across the middle of bloody nowhere. She scowled and focused on the trail ahead until the newest scenario crashed into her thoughts. "You are on the run from an enemy with unknown resources and numbers -" Sounds familiar. "This enemy has managed to track you down at least twice. In response, you have done your best to get away from all major population centers -" And barely had a wink of sleep- Eb flicked a look Mehrin's way. These strategy games had been a good stretch for the brain over the past few weeks, and it had been ... interesting... considering things from a wider point of view. But here was something more immediately relevant, something more her usual, single, straight-forward field of vision. Almost. She tried not to grind her teeth. It was the first time in a couple of weeks that this subject had been directly broached. The first half of the journey away from the horror of Whitebridge had been rather... impossible, on her behalf. Yet, here they were. Still. Mehrin continued talking, walking down the rocky trail. Eb tried to kick her brain into gear, to override the incessant gnawing in her gut. "- What do you do?" Run. Fight. The answers were simultaneous in her mind. This time she did grind her teeth, stubbornly, despite the sheer stupidity of her actual choice. "You go to ground... the forest is the better option for hiding," Mehrin grinned at her, stepped off the bridge and dropped into the stream. So bloody dramatic... ... Should've expected that. She rolled her eyes at the absurdity and watched, one eyebrow raised at him in amusement as he adjusted to his new environment, the water slowly soaking ever higher, the smile freezing on his face. She couldn't help but grin as he turned away, rigid in every muscle, to wade towards the forest. Bloody idiot. He's right though. She took a deep breath, and followed. ** * * * ** She stared, unblinking, at the canvased roof above her. In her mind's eye, the assassin slipped from the thatch and dropped lightly to the floor. "You won't escape, big man. We will... always be there... Waiting. You can't stop... the ine...vitable." Not for the first time, Eb hurled herself from the floor, snatched up her swords, stalked from the tent. THW-THWACK! TH-THUNK! All four daggers flew true, striking the front of the stuffed shirt she'd tied around a sapling near a corner of camp. Grass peeked through the slits and tears in the material. In the shadow-filled moonlight, it could've been a darkfriend's blood. It wasn't enough. She yanked each of the knives back and drove them away under her sleeves. She drew her swords in unison, inhaling sharply with the motion, and stepped deliberately away from the trees. The twin blades trembled ever so slightly as she held them, points forward, in front of her. She closed her eyes so as not to see them. Slammed a wall of stone over the churning in her gut. Ignored the wind. Waited until she was sure everything would be steady. And then, she opened her eyes and spun. Round, out, up, down. She sliced at the shadows dancing along the edges of a brighter patch of moonlight, blade following blade in a rapid, sweeping arc. Too slow! She turned, shoving the anger into a sideways strike. Repetitive, rolling flicks of the wrist sent both blades whirling; opposing windmills crossing in a blur in front of her chest. She shifted her weight and weapons with the wind, flowing aggressively at the whipping shadows. Ahead, behind, ahead, beside. Low, high, low, high. Beside, behind. Ahead! Behind! She kicked and spun. Crossed her blades and flung them forcefully up and out. Blades in, blades out, blades round. Turn, duck, stab. Shadow left. Shadow right. Above! Below. Behind. Beside! On and on she pushed, stretched, strained, sliced. The shadows taunted this way and that, bending and twisting with the branches in the wind. Until the world began to dim with a shift of slow and heavy cloud across the moon. She stopped, tired arms dropping to her sides. Her chest heaved. Sweat slicked off her skin, her shirt-sleeves clung to slackened muscle. Darkness crept, steadily, across the clearing. It swallowed everything, including her, the smaller shadows, her blades. The wind moaned and whistled. She strained her ears to try and hear some other - any other - sound beneath it and the branches above. It was futile, but she tried. And she waited. White-grey outlines began to gleam along one edge of the offending cloud. Tiny slivers at first, expanding into a true glow as the cloud moved on. She pursed her lips. The blanket of darkness slipped back towards the trees. Shadows gathered once more into waving, dancing, darkened forms. She swung her blades up in dual circles to meet them, settling into a ready crouch. "You," she thought at the shadows, at the dead woman's threat, still lingering in her mind, "won't be the only ones who are here, waiting." "I will not stop," she whispered. And she began, again. ** * * * ** The rain was relentless. Eb stalked towards the puddle at the base of the sapling, scowling. She snatched her knives from the fallen, stretched and sopping grass-sack, kicking at it again for good measure. What was the point in bloody training if the bloody targets kept slipping to the bloody ground of their own accord? She shoved two of the knives into her bootstraps, pushed the rest through the belt of her sodden breeches, and stood. There's nothing for it. She cursed and started back towards the tent. Mehrin emerged just as she reached the canvas, dwarfing her as he straightened and stepped out into the rain. She turned silently to watch him, studying the wall of muscle that accompanied the stony expression on his face. He hefted the sword. She snapped her attention towards the twirl of the blade and ducked back into the tent. For a second she considered huddling herself under his greatcoat and hat in the entrance and simply watching him slice his way through the rain. She choked on that thought, and at the idea of him catching her in his clothes, cursing under her breath. Blood and blasted, bloody ashes, what was wrong with her? Watching doesn't stop darkfriends, you dol- She stomped on all thought and turned to her weapons, bypassing her swords and reaching for the mace with a sudden, explosive urge to hit something, hard. Maces stop darkfriends. Dreadlords might be a different story. Chilled to the point of teeth chattering, she gripped the hilt and headed back out into the rain. Mehrin was attacking the air around him. Fierce swirls of spray flicked up and away, off the end of his sword as if trying to flee from the blade. In all honesty, she didn't blame them. Her lips twitched upwards. She slowed enough to watch him properly then, drawing up to the cleared area with her dark eyes fixed firmly on his form. She lifted the mace over her shoulder and leaned forward into a set of halfhearted stretches as she watched, testing her legs and feeling the mud suck at her boots. Finally, she shook her head, lifting the mace high in the air and waving once to draw the man's attention to her intention to spar. Then she gritted her teeth to keep the chatter at bay, and swung the weapon forwards, to the ready.
  7. Who can/wants to play after 5 June? Key's last game offer is possibly still a go, so @Illian Tear ; @Zander?; @Nynaeve; @dicetosser1; @Wildfire Sedai; @The Crusher; @Krakalakachkn; @Shad_; @Andrej Are you still available/in? @Lizabeth ? @Clovdyx (although Em already tagged you)? Aaaand @MrsClov ? @ed2funy ? Aaaaaaaaaaaaand who else wants to play/can you all tag?
  8. "And, pray tell, who might you be?" Thayetta did her best not to jump at the dark-haired woman's question. Instead she stood a little straighter, tried to look a little neater, despite her travelling clothes and the fact she had no idea what she was doing. She took a breath. "I'm Thayetta Luin, Aes Sedai," she inclined her head a little more, still peeking timidly from under the light curtain of hair that swept around her face. The woman behind the desk made no reply, and Thayetta straightened herself up again. "Madelaina Sedai brought me here from Four Kings -" there was a pang in her chest, but she pushed it and the wave of home-sickness down. She did not know what else to say, so instead she studied the room, eyes flicking over the titles of books in the bookshelves, the features of this Mistress of Novices' face etching their way into her memory and sticking fast. Not for the first time, Thayetta wondered how in the Light she had never come across books about the Aes Sedai or the Tower. How she could have read so much, and still know so little about the world. She wondered, again, about the hundreds of girls that must have passed this way before her, only to stand in this same spot, and be interrogated this same way. She wondered about Madelaina Sedai's own journey, and what this Mistress of Novices might have looked like as a girl. How old she might have been. What she might have been feeling. How long it had taken for her to have such strength settle around her in an air of absolute zero-nonsense. Whether all the Aes Sedai were simply made this way... How in the Light she was meant to fit in here. "Do not be afraid, Child. Be brave." Madelaina Sedai's advice from earlier bubbled back into the forefront of her mind and Thayett found the calm washing over her once more. There was no point in fear. But bravery, yes. She could do this. She squared her shoulders again. Whatever is coming, she vowed, I will be brave. I will learn and grow. I will study hard, I will be strong. I will become Aes Sedai.
  9. "Who's going to blow the candle?" Thayetta didn't think she could face it. The flame. The puff of smoke. The shame. Her hands stung, throbbing a regular thrum of pain. A smarting reminder of what she'd almost done. She felt the heat rising in her cheeks, again. Saw the corners of 'Drawing on the Power: Warming to the Flame' curling, blackening, blazing in her hands. Saw the pile of ash and the smears of soot in the impossible-to-sweep mess she had created. Myrrhi grinned at her and began to chuckle. The laughter was as infectious as it was terrifying, and Thayetta found herself giggling, almost madly, at the entire predicament. The girl wanted to channel! "So, who will take care of the candle?" Myrrhi was grinning at her, expectantly. Thayett's mind raced. Her laughter stopped short. This was worse even than thinking about snuffing the tiny flame out by hand. Channelling! Her heart felt like it was about to hammer out of her chest. She had to work hard not to burst into a fresh round of tears. And yet... It would likely only take the tiniest thread of Air... It would be very unlikely that either of them would almost burn themselves out doing that... NO! The list of burnt-out channeler names from the morning's class seared across her minds eye. Her conscience raged so sharply that Thayett found herself jumping out of bed. Startled, she looked at her new roomie. No. No, she would not be channeling again tonight. "I... I got it," she said, blowing quickly at the tiny flame and jumping back into bed, heart hammering. "Goodnight," she whispered after a second, rolling almost triumphantly away from the candle and the curl of smoke that was dissipating throughout the room. She took a deep breath and tried to calm her nerves. Sleep. Sleep is what we both need now. Tomorrow is another day.
  10. No worries! It's up on the bios board now for second/ final approval. Very nicely done! Feel free to hit me up if you don't hear from Taymist/ someone else in the next 48hrs 🙂 Also, feel free to create a Black Tower/ Band of the Red Hand/Wolfkin char too and come play with us over in the Alliance 😉 We should be kicking off again properly in a couple of weeks ^.^
  11. @Taymist 🙂 DM Handle: Risyn_Mael Character Name: Ariain Altalin Returning Character: No Total PSW Character Count: 1 RP Section: Tar Valon RP Group: White Tower Character Rank: Novice Traditional or Salidar Novice: Traditional Age: 17 Gender: Female Place of Birth/Raising: Amadicia Physical Description: Naturally small, and nearly waiflike from years of malnourishment following her flight from Amadicia. Blonde hair so pale as to be nearly white, tied back roughly in a ponytail. Light brown eyes. Thin eyelashes and eyebrows. Pale skin. Startling angular features that some call lovely, and others do not. Her mother is Amadician born, but her father was an outlander. Strengths/Weaknesses: Gives the impression of quiet deference, at first, but this gives way to fire and determination once she has the measure of a situation. Physically weak and not especially quick, Ariain attempts to compensate for this by honing her awareness of the world around her to a fine edge. If she can’t outrun you or outfight you—and she probably can’t—she will do her best to put herself either in a position where she won’t have to, or where she’ll have every advantage if she must. Ariain possesses a surprising romantic streak that manifests itself unexpectedly. She doesn’t necessarily seek romantic companionship for herself. Indeed, everything about her life has taught her how unlikely she is to find such a thing. But she is prone to fits of whimsy and even matchmaking which seem at odds with her general demeanor. If pressed, she explains that the world is a hard and joyless enough place without people being unnecessarily isolated from each other. Her parents had a loving, happy, marriage and this shapes her view of such matters. Hungry for knowledge, Ariain devours books at a prodigious rate. Although she has a fondness for tales of romance and adventure, this cannot compete with her passion for history and the more practical philosophical disciplines. Above all, she is drawn to those few treatises of anti-monarchical and anti-oligarchic thought. She also enjoys games of chance, although more as a study of outcomes and behavior than as pure entertainment. History: Amadician by birth, Ariain was taught to fear Aes Sedai and learned to fear the Whitecloaks. Fear was, in short, the currency of her youth. Her mother, Aliale, worked in the sheriff’s manor house mending the uniforms and clothes of the local garrison. Her father, Galen, was a shopkeeper. Though he did not speak his mind often he was, in his soul, a quiet revolutionary in search of a revolution. Galen died in a riot during the hard winter of her 8thyear. Though a mob of poor farmers and laborers smashed his store to get at the food they suspected him of hoarding, they did not kill him. A stray crossbow bolt did that, as royal forces attempted to quell the disturbance. Her uncle, an adjutant in the king’s army, stepped in as surrogate father to her and surrogate husband to her mother. He was a hard man, with little love in him. These were the hardest years of Ariain’s life. Her grandfather, though ailing, still served as an officer with the Children of the Light. A pretty girl, from a loyal family, she was to be wed “as early as possible” to a young man in her grandfather’s company. He was from a loyal family, too, but one with money. Evon had ten years on her, a gentle smile, and cold hatred for everything he did not understand—which was much. As the date of their union drew near, Ariain fell into despondency. At 14, she left home as a stowaway on a boat bound downriver. Those early days of her ‘second life’, as she began to think of it, receded into a blur of hungry suns and cold moons. Weeks passed, and she journeyed north and gradually west, until she came to the coast. The ocean overawed her. She spent hours in silent regard of it, dreaming of what might lay across its breadth. She scrounged what coin she could and learned to avoid the dangers of traveling the world alone. Her travels brought her, finally, north to a coastal village in the north of Tarabon where she found employ in a small family inn, a mile outside of town along the rocky shore. ---***--- The cold wind picked at Ariain’s sleeves, and she pulled the shawl closer around her shoulders. The pale wool was stained a muddy brown from three years on the road but no less warm for it and, honestly, no less attractive if you didn’t look too closely. As was her custom, in this place, she had come outside to read when the day’s work was done. Her evenings were mostly her own, given the slow pace of travel this time of year, but she would need to help check in any guests arriving this evening. She shivered anew, as the ocean lashed the rocks below her. The sun dropped steadily toward the horizon. She would go inside when it disappeared completely. No sense in being out alone after dark, especially not with the rumors of a new band of highwaymen down from Almoth Plain. Above and beyond all that, the fading light also made it inconvenient to read the tiny print in the volume in her lap. Five minutes more she waited and, with twilight’s glow fading, walked back up the slope to the Cat’s Wallow Inn. Inside the inn, she did find new guests, much to her surprise. Master Talsen had seen to them himself, though, and he now stood idly behind the bar. Two men, clearly fighting men, loitered against the far wall. One filed his nails with a knife. The other held a mug of ale. Pipe smoke curled toward the thatched roof. Though they wore their dark hair differently—one long, and the other trimmed close to his scalp—and one bore an ugly scar across his jaw, they were twins, she realized with a start. But Master Talsen wasn’t watching them. Not at all. His eyes were fixed on the woman in the booth beyond, the one with the bay window looking out over the ocean. The one directly above where she’d been standing moments before. The woman wore fine clothes but not ostentatiously fine, and she had the handsome, confident, face of one used to instant obedience. So, a noble lady, but travelling incognito, perhaps? Even as Ariain took this in, she ducked behind the bar. She curtsied in greeting to Master Talsen, but he waved his towel at her dismissively. “Enough of that,” he said. “Ye’ve got work to do, if ye can call it that.” “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t expect anyone new tonight, but I should’ve been back earlier.” “Nonsense. Your evenings are your own, until I tell you they’re not. But we’ve a guest from the Tower.” The hard sound of the capital letter shocked Ariain. “The—Tower.” “Stops here now and then on her way to and from wherever it is she goes. Likes to speak with any strays we’ve taken in. Says it keeps her ‘connected’ to the world.” “Strays,” Ariain said. “Aye. Like ye. I told her ye’d be over when ye returned. So, go speak with her, if you would. She don’t bite. Not here, at least.” The walk across the room was the slowest and most painful of Ariain’s life. She’d seen enough since leaving home to question Amadician teachings on Aes Sedai but that was different from meeting one in the flesh. The walk across the room was the slowest and most painful of Ariain’s life…but it ended far too soon. The woman was before her, looking up with eyes as deep as the ocean. “Lady, uh, Sedai. I’ve been sent to… see to your needs.” The woman quirked an eyebrow at Ariain with a wry smile. “Is that so?” “Yes, Lady—” “‘Aes Sedai’ will do well enough. And, yes, I do think you will make acceptable company.” “Thank you. Aes Sedai.” The woman was neither young nor old. ‘Permanent’ was the only word that Ariain could find. It seemed appropriate. “Sit, girl. Don’t make me crane my neck at you, short as you are.” “No, Aes Sedai. I mean, yes, Aes Sedai.” Ariain sat, eyes downturned, as if confronting a dangerous animal of unknown temperament. She felt the woman’s eyes crawling over her. “You have the look of Amadicia on you, child,” the woman said after a moment. “Amadicia? Surely not,” Ariain glanced up and laughed reflexively, but on seeing the practiced lie crash against the woman’s stony face, she continued. “But if I were, it would be no concern but my own.” “Indeed. Your past matters little enough. Your future, though, remains an open question.” Ariain held her tongue. She had nothing wise to say and knew not the stakes of saying something foolish. The woman continued: “I come to this inn perhaps twice a year, as my travels dictate, north and south. I take this same table and look out upon the sea. It is a sight that fills me with gladness. When I have seen my fill, I go to the bookshelf that Master Talsen keeps for guests and I take down the same volume to read as I eat my supper.” Ariain flinched, but only on the inside. She hoped. “Do you know which volume, girl?” A moment passed before Ariain replied. “Yes, Aes Sedai, I believe so.” “Tell me.” “Principles of Social Capital and Inequity, by Yosef Walden.” “And how do you know?” “Because it’s the only book not on the shelf, and if your routine is as you state—which it must be—there should be a book on your table, and there is not. Therefore, the book you seek was not where you expected to find it.” “Well reasoned. Not perfectly, but well enough.” “Thank you, Aes Sedai,” Ariain said, with a tingle of excitement that she could not explain. Praise from an Aes Sedai—even lukewarm praise—was the last thing she wanted. “You know for a fact the book was not on the shelf?” By way of answer, Ariain pulled the book from inside her shawl and sets it on the table. “Heavy words for so light a girl.” “I am not so light as my appearance, Aes Sedai.” She was shocked by the edge of firmness in her own voice. The woman quirked an eyebrow again. “Nor so timid.” “No, Aes Sedai. Nor that, if you’ll forgive me.” “Timidity is not a virtue,” the woman said. “As you say, Aes Sedai.” A moment passed in silence. The woman spoke again: “What does your mind most desire?” A long moment passed this time before Ariain spoke. The balance between wisdom and foolishness had never seemed so thin. “A full belly, a warm bed, and a book to read.” The Sister’s eyes did not move from her—Ariain wasn’t sure when she’d begun meeting the woman’s eyes—and she did not smile. “I want the Children of the Light to,”—she quieted her rising voice and started again— “I want to see revolution in Amadicia.” “Dangerous, child. Tell me your name.” Ariain did. “You do not ask me mine?” “You are Aes Sedai. That is enough.” Now she did smile. “Dangerous, Child.” The hard sound of a capital letter again shocked Ariain, though this time she could not say why. “Do you have any other questions for me, Aes Sedai?” “No. No more questions,” the woman said, and added even as Ariain began to rise, “Just…a test.” --- The early days of what Ariain would come to think of as her 'third life' passed in a blur of bewildering suns and moons, of tests and texts and endless questions. They spent hours every day in the saddle, and hours every night in inns or around campfires, accompanied all the while by the two fighting men Ariain had first seen at the Cat’s Wallow. She did not learn the woman’s name until the Mistress of Novices spoke it on their arrival in reached Tar Valon.
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