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Thwack… A shimmering silver blade flew through the air and pierced through the slick oil painting, lodging itself into the wall behind it. Glowing at the end of the hilt was a shining sapphire that resembled the flame of Tar Valon. Not now, though. It appeared to be too much like a tear drop. “Hah! A tear drop! I’d be cursed by the Dark One’s own luck if I shed another bloody tear!” An enraged voice pierced through the silence. Thwack… Another blade, another scream, another hole in the wall. The small hands that wielded the knives were pale, almost ivory in colour, and shook with the anger so accustomed to her people. Saldaeans were known to erupt in a rage; however, it was usually over something petty like being jealous of another woman. No, this was nothing like that. Emptiness, loneliness, darkness, and pain that none but an Aes Sedai could endure, flowed through the blood of this tiny woman. For Ages and Ages, the female channellers of the White Tower had been dealing with the death of their Warders, many of them made it through the suffering alive, and lived on to Bond another. No… not this… She pleaded with herself. However, usually, the Aes Sedai would remain with the Gaidin or Gaidar for quite some time, before the time would come to release their mortal shells into the depths of the earth, the last embrace of the Mother. Not this Sedai. Her wounds cut deep, and seemed to bleed eternally. Thwack… The blade seemed to shake the entire way towards the painting, and when steel met wood, the hilt wobbled from the force behind the throw. The painting could handle the thrusts…but could she? Could Serena Morrigan, Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah, bear the loss of a fourth Gaidin? Could she handle the stabbing pain in her chest, the un-ending nights of waking to gasping sobs, and the re-occurring notion to destroy everything that crossed her path? Let alone, keep herself alive? Thwack… Granted, two of her Bondmates were still alive. One, was slowly going mad, although he would surely deny it; and the other... Oh, Thera…Why? Serena’s chest heaved as she felt a sob building. It seemed to wash over her body like a wave exploding from her heart. Was it possible, that having a beloved Gaidar, whom you loved more than anything, marry a man and forget all about you while you were busy trying to save blasted lives, be worse than all of the others? Light, she was still alive; yet, Serena pined for the woman like a bloody lost puppy. Yes, their bond had been broken, but that did not mean the woman had to move on. Did it? The slow creaking of hinges broke Serena’s concentration, and she turned towards her door quickly. Without thought, she lifted her hand to the side of her head and thrust her last knife at the door. A familiar face glared back at her. To her dismay, the Saldaean Aes Sedai did not hear the comforting sound of the steel penetrating the wood. Instead, it hung in the air, mere inches before Estel Liones. “A few years late, don’t you think?” Light, it was a good thing she’d been on her toes coming in or else she’d have a nasty hole in her chest. While a knife imbedded in one’s body certainly made a fashion statement, they were hardly the most comfortable of accessories; idly the Domani ran a finger along her forearm where an inch-long scar stood testament to one of the many rather miserable days the Blue had experienced. “What have I done recently to elicit this sort of welcome?” Considering the Red Amyrlin and recent change in Ajah leadership, coupled with the return of its least favourite member, the sound of periodic thunking was hardly an uncommon occurrence in the Blue Quarters these days. Nastascia, at least, no doubt spent countless hours of the day thunking her head against her desk and Light knew the reason for her frustration spent excessive periods of time thunking the brandy bottles she was no longer allowed to drink against the walls. With the threat of Tarmon Gaidon looming over their heads, younger Blues spent as much time as possible thunking their Warders (or each other) today, lest they be thunked on the head by a Trolloc tomorrow. However, today’s source of thunking came from a particularly familiar room that hadn’t been occupied since Estel’s last escapade from the Tower. Serena had left shortly after the Watchers group had been released from their Bonds and, at the time, the younger Blue had been in no condition to talk to anyone – least of all her “babysitter”. Some two months later found in her in a... if not healthy, at least more balanced state of mind. Besides, she and Lavinya had an incredibly tenuous agreement concerning Order Members. Therefore she’d gone to investigate, and barely survived, her one-time friend’s return to the Tower.