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Midnight found The Yards the site of a phantom concerto as crickets played their mournful tunes to whoever happened to be awake at that hour. The clack-clack of a late training session provided the percussion, teacher and student moving from one form to the next in different degrees of expertise and grace. A bull frog called to his mate from his hiding place beneath a bridge crossing a carefully landscaped pond and the wind whistled across the reeds on the far end. In the barracks, trainees dreamed fitfully as their minds danced to the music of the summer night. On the walls, a masked woman found solace in the starry sky, lost in deep thought, and a man lay awake in bed feeding dark desires into the Flame and Void. Every ear that the music touched was caught in silent reverie, all except for two sets. Two sets heard a completely different tune. "I will not be treated like a child who was raised only this morning, Commander," Sheena said flatly from her seat in front of Alin's solid oak desk. The room was well-lit, though there was no disguising the late hour. She hadn't slept much in the days since she'd begun planning this expedition and the note signed by Sariene informing her that a Tower Guard had been assigned to travel with her was the icing on an exhausting cake. Despite her weariness and frustration, the Blue held her temper in check for once as she regarded the Master at Arms levelly. "Again, your concern and that of the Hall are both appreciated, but I have worn the shawl for longer than you have breathed air. I will not be needing an escort on this trip, nor do I have the time or energy to babysit some runt with his mother's kitchen knife." "I am afraid it is not my decision to make, Sheena Sedai." He spoke the honorary with an emphasis that could have meant anything or nothing at all. Sheena ignored it, her mind intent on resolving this issue before her scheduled departure the following morning at dawn. "I have my orders and I intend to follow them. For the last time, there's nothing to be done." Her lips thinned, the only indication her annoyance was quickly turning into frustrated anger. The hold on her temper slipped, only slightly but enough to heat her cheeks. "If you wish to take it up with the Hall, that's your business. I do suggest you refrain from waking them at this hour." Sheena opened her mouth to speak, but he spoke over her. "With all do respect, Aes Sedai, there is nothing left to discuss. If you will excuse me, I am going to be." He stood and motioned towards the doors, his face carved from the hardest of stones. Sheena sat motionless, her eyes icy and her face white and devoid of signs of the flaring temper inside. "Your orders are ridiculous and I will not be inconvenienced by them. You may choose whomever you like to carry out this preposterous act of protection, but do not think I will forget this insult to my character." She cut off her words with all the spite she felt, her indignity flushing her cheeks. Sheena stood from her seat, not sparing the wool-headed buffoon of a man who served as the Master at Arms another look. The concert was cutoff abruptly at the sound of a door slamming followed by muttered curses as Sheena made her was back to the Tower in a fury. She stormed past the few men and women awake at that hour, servants in their livery and Aes Sedai or Tower initiates running some late night errand. The few glances directed at her back were those of people long accustomed to her stormy personality. She ignored those, too, as she headed to her rooms in the Blue Quarters. When she finally lay in bed, she stared at the ceiling until the gray of predawn crept in. She hadn't slept a wink. "Light, please tell me Alin gave the assignment to a mute," she croaked before getting out of bed. "This is going to be a long trip." A sea of dried grass and parched shrubs extended for miles to either end of the River Erinin as Ella's Rose made its way south. The mid-summer sun beat down on its crew and passengers with the fervor of high noon and doing nothing to help with the seasickness that still plagued a few of those unaccustomed to traveling on water. An occasional breeze stirred, doing little more than rustling a loose-fitting shirt. One of the sailors shouted suddenly, bringing Sheena back from her rumination and to the scorching reality of her surroundings. Serena stood beside her, the hood of her pastel-colored cloak pulled up over her head to provide some protection from the sun. While the heat didn't touch either of them, they were both subject to sunburns like anyone else and Sheena's talents in Healing were little better than those her friend. Feeling Sheena's eyes on her, Serena looked over and smiled warmly but said nothing. The two had been friends on one level or another when Sheena was raised only shortly after Serena herself and Sheena was glad to have the woman's company. She smiled back and turned her attention to unscrewing the lid off of her waterskin before taking a drink. Serena's warder stood close by watching everywhere and everything that moved and Rosheen sat opposite of them leaning against a barrel sharpening a knife. Thera was a dutiful woman so far as Sheena had seen, though the two had not spoken much. The way Sheena saw it, a Warder's place was with her bondmate and not conversing with other Aes Sedai. For many years now, she had had only limited interactions with Warders and Thera was no exception. There was more to her aloofness, she was sure, but that was a line of thought Sheena did not wish to go down. Rosheen, on the other hand, did not belong in their party anymore than the red-faced street rat Alin had chosen to serve as her protector, not in Sheena's mind. From the young woman's own aloofness, she was very much aware of how Sheena felt. Sheena had made it obvious to the Tower Guards that they were unwelcome and if they had been offended by her unapologetic stance, they did well to hide it thus far. The White Tower was still within sight when Sheena had put them in their place, telling them exactly what was expected of them. The boy, Aran, was below deck and it was just as well. He had a glint in his eye that Sheena had seen in any number of annoying Novices who found it difficult to shed the airs instilled in their noble roots. If anyone would be trouble, it was him; Rosheen was just another annoyance. She had been allowed to travel with them on the understanding that she had business in Whitebridge. What she would do once they reached that point was none of their concern. In the moments after the first shouts announcing their imminent arrival in Aringill, the ship had burst to life as the crew prepared the ship. Sheena said a silent prayer of thanks as she made her way to the room she shared with Serena to fetch her things, grateful that she had only emptied her stomach the first night they were on water. She could remember days when her stomach rumbled at the very sight of water. To think that she was able to make it all the way to Aringill without any major incident was a good sign. She wasn't sure she could bear the humiliation of clutching the deck railings day and night. What she was sure of, though, was that she was anxious to be standing on dry land and the sooner the better. OOC: A bit long, but it got us pretty far. We're finally underway! Post away ladies and gents! Edit: James here, was on west board but meant to be south the way the map is currently drawn. Sorry Cale, would've told ya but ya'd already raced off :)