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For all her claimed ‘worldliness,’ Viviane had never visited the Black Tower. Not until today. The large black stoned wall loomed before her, it’s heavy doors surprisingly open. Men in black coats sat watch, to be sure, but it was still a shock to see. The openness implied freedom and welcome. The White Tower had made peace with this group, but that did not mean there were not hushed whispers in the hallowed halls of the Tower; whispers about the madmen of the Black Tower and their tainted Saidin. Codswallop is what that was. If the Red Ajah could get over their past prejudices, then so should the other Sisters. If only more of them would come and see for themselves that there was nothing to fear. In truth, that was why she had come herself. Viviane Accylon still held some prejudice in her heart, but Light, she was determined to banish those feelings. She supported the Tower’s decision to play nice with these boys, and yes, she also accepted the new role her Ajah would play… She just never thought that Saidin would be cleansed… She never thought that the Last Battle would actually occur in her lifetime, but these were strange times. The Dragon Reborn walked the land and all things would be remade in his passing- once the Dark One was dealt with. Prophecy said as much. The Gateway winked out behind Viviane, not one she had Woven, she was unable to unaided; two Tower Guards remained as an escort. It was bad form, Viviane knew that, but most could understand her unease. As a sign of good faith, the pair would wait here for her, once she decided to make her return trip to the White Tower. Despite what the escort may have said to the observer, Viviane was still the picture of Aes Sedai calm and authority. A light breeze danced through the air, swirling Viviane’s coiled, ginger hair about her shoulders. The full skirts of her deep violet dress rustled against her legs, dagger sleeves waving this way and that. She held her hands clasped at her waist, patiently waiting for her contact to show. Ful Heart. That young man was a junior member of the Black Tower, not yet having earned both of the Asha’man pins. The thought softened Viviane’s nerves a touch. Surely, this Ful was still green behind the ears. Nothing she couldn’t handle with a few well-placed looks or sniffs. The two guards at the Gate seemed to be speaking between themselves, finally having spotted Viviane and her own escort. They did not come to greet her. Where was their propriety? Their decorum? And where in the Light was this Ful Heart?
A strong wind flowed through the abandoned field, a little to the west of Fal Moran. The wind carried the heavy stench of smoke, of battle, of death. The peaceful appearance of the field was at a stark contrast with the rest of the dying country of Shienar. No matter which direction one travelled, they would soon find the ravaging hordes of shadowspawn. The trollocs and Fades pressed on relentlessly, killing many lucky ones, capturing the not so lucky. Only the most blood curdling screams reached this far, and even then only as faint whispers. A sudden flash of light disrupted the quiet of the field, as a shimmery blue line appeared and began to rotate into a hole in the air. Within moments, dozens of similar lines appeared, each opening in turn to offer the same scene. Dozens of black coated men, all with swords strapped to their belts, and many with silver or gold pins at their necks. Once the gateways had snapped open, the men poured through the holes in the air. The Asha'man had arrived in dying Shienar, intent upon saving the borderlander nation. ~~~ Arath led the charge through the gateways with his attack group. One hundred Soldiers, Dedicated, and Asha'man streamed through the portals onto the plains of Shienar, just outside Fal Moran. He quickly ordered his men into defensive positions while the remaining forces came through. It appeared as though the immediate area was safe enough, but if there were any dreadlords nearby they surely would have sensed the use of so much Saidin. Arath scanned the horizon, face palling some. Smoke rose in great pillars in countless places to the north, east, and west. Even from Fal Moran there was a great billowing black cloud arising, though it looked as though men still fought to keep the city from falling. No attack immediately fell upon the Asha'man though, and soon four hundred men of the Black Tower and their supplies had all passed through the gateways. The Asha'man fell into ranks, quietly whispering to eachother about their bleak surroundings. Arath took one last look at Fal Moran returning his attention to his men. It would begin soon. Light willing many of them would live through it.
It began as a normal enough day. Normal for the Black Tower anyway. The regular rythem of explosions sounding at the training grounds went almost unnoticed by the inhabitants of the Farm as they went about their daily business. Soldiers carrying various items around on invisible flows of air, the wives of Asha'man carrying their own loads, children running and yelling while they engaged in whatever game came to them at the moment ... the usual pace of life. The silvery rotating slash that appeared in mid air at the traveling grounds also caused little comment as it rotated open, revealing a hole in the air. What poured out though, was enough to send rumors stirring througout the small city known as the Farm. Four men in black coats came running out of the gateway, almost before it had finished revolving open. Bourne between two of them on an invisible platform was a fifth man who bled profusely from a gaping wound in his torso. Immediately, two of them men bearing golden dragon pins at their collars sped off down the road toward the large hall where the M'Hael resided, while the other two sped off toward the infirmary, bearing the fifth man with them. None of the onlookers could say for certain where the group had come from, but they all saw the billowing flames and rolling plumes of smoke beyond the gateway, just before it snapped shut. ~~~ "You do be certain?" said M'Hael Brent Enios after he heard the report of the Asha'man. He had his back turned to the pair of them, steadying himself on the window sill, and trying to digest this horrible turn of events. "Yes Sir," confirmed Asha'man Daevis Thelandran. "I come from Shienar myself, and never have I seen such a horde as this. With the war between the borderlander nations, they can't hope to turn the shadowspawn aside, especially if there were dreadlords among them. I fear that Shienar will be over run in a matter of days. Perhaps Arafel as well. We heard rumors before the attack arrived of major trouble along their blight border as well." Brent grimaced in revulsion. The recruiting party in the north of Shienar had been fortunate, or unfortunate, enough to be present as the greatest host of shadowspawn since the trolloc wars had descended from the blight. The five of them had been no match for the sheer numbers that had overwhelmed them. They had been unable to save anyone, barely escaping with their own lives. Only moments ago a message had arrived with the news that the injured member of the party had died, unable to survive the rigors of healing. Taking a deep breathe to steady himself, Brent turned back to the Asha'man. "Bring me the Storm Leaders and Attack Leaders. We do be needing to plan this out. And be notifying the Asha'man to assemble at the training grounds in one hour. The Black Tower do be headed to war." OOC: Everyone who is coming, post your arrival at the training grounds, share rumors, whatever. I'll get the next post up in a few days, and then we'll move on to the North boards. Remember, as per Jocelyn's promise several months ago, anyone who participates up till the bitter end will be awarded a bonus strength point (upon reaching Asha'man rank anyway :D)