Re: A Long Awaited Visit to the Gardens (Attn: Raeyn)

It was a lovely sunny day, and Lillith found herself in her secret garden.  It was a lovely little place on the Tower ground that she’d found as an Accepted, and had yet to see anyone but the occasional Tower gardener in.  In short, it was a place that suited the solitary White Sister.

Today, she was going over notes from her most recent meeting with Larindhra, the Mistress of Novices.  While Lillith was hesitant to call the relationship between herself and the Red Sister ’friendship’, she valued her time with the older woman.  There was a degree of comfort she felt with Lari that she’d not felt with anyone before.  Of course, it helped the older woman let the young White Sister study her charges, and that they could share an enthusiasm on the matter.

”Don’t dwell on that now, there’s work to be done,” Lillith thought firmly to herself, taking a moment to swirl the nib of her pen in the pot of alcohol next to her on the bench.  A gentle breeze brushed her cheek, producing a momentary smile as she re-inked her pen and bent back over her lapdesk.  She was spending the afternoon transcribing her jotted notes from meetings with Lari and some of the Novices into a tidy progression.  It was a pet project of hers, tracking how the new children fit into place, and while she didn’t expect it to bring her fame or acclaim, it didn’t matter; it was something that interested her, and that was enough!

“Hello?” somebody suddenly called out, and Lillith grimaced at the dark line now dug into the page on her desk.  Looking up, she saw a short, fair-haired woman smiling down at where she sat.  Putting her desk to the side, Lillith replied, “Do I know you?”  Grimacing, she shook her head, “That was inane of me… I am called Lillith.. and you are?”


15 September 2008

“Loraine,” the other woman called over her shoulder as she moved deeper into the garden.  It was obvious to Lillith that even with her ‘intrusive’ presence, this was a place of great refuge and comfort for this other Sister.  “Much as it is to me,” she thought ruefully as she stood to see what was of such interest to the other woman.

The other Sister walked around talking to herself for a moment before turning back to the White standing by the bench, “I’m sorry if I’ve interrupted you,” she spoke, “I just needed the peace I always find in this garden.”

Dipping her head in acknowledgement, Lillith replied,  “This is something I can understand, for all I’ve only known of this garden since being raised to the shawl.  I.. I didn’t wander much from my studies as an initiate, it didn’t seem.. logical.”  She permitted herself a small smile; this was a polite hint as to what her Ajah was, since she wasn’t new enough to wander about flaunting her Shawl.

Picking up her lapdesk, she placed it on the ground at her side and patted the bench next to her, “I take it that you’re recently returned to the Tower, then?  Perhaps I saw you around when I was new to the shawl, but like many at that time, I was too engrossed in my Ajah to even start to learn who there was outside of that grouping.. besides my teachers, that is.”


11 November 2008 (11:37pm GMT)

“Have I left Tar Valon?  No, I fear that I haven’t; my studies since reaching the shawl have kept me most busy,”  she nodded politely, taking a second to make sure her lapdesk was secure and far enough to the side to not accidentally get kicked.  Satisfied, she turned her attention back to her impromptu company, “I wish I found more moments to spend outdoors, truly, but it’s something I’ve only started to appreciate as I’ve aged.  Not that I find that many moments to enjoy out of doors, but in a way, that makes them all the more precious.”

Letting her attention get momentarily distracted by a passing butterfly, she smiled slightly and continued, “As for having a Warder… I guess I cannot see the need as a Tower-bound Sister.  As you’ve expressed, I cannot see the Gaidin who are here at the Tower being truly happy with the situation.  If, perhaps, I am taken with a need to travel at a later date, I might investigate the possibility.”  She laughed softly, peering for a moment at her hands folded in her lap, “It’s not as if anyone is going to murder me in my bed here at the Tower, is it?”

A soft breeze wafted through, caressing the young White Sister’s face as she took a moment to look around the garden again.  A sense of contentment filled her; while she wasn’t exactly a gregarious individual, one-on-one interaction, on occasion, was such a pleasant thing, especially when there wasn’t the feeling out she would normally associate with other Sisters in the Tower.  Turning back to the other Sister, she spoke again, “And yourself?  Do you prefer to be ‘home’ at the Tower, or out in the world?”


14 November 2008 (9:31pm GMT)

The young White Sister couldn’t help but note the older woman cringe slightly at her light-hearted comment about murder, “Oh bloody and bloody ashes, do I even want to know what has happened before my time?!” she groaned mentally, maintaining her outward composure before speaking again.  Lor paused before answering, as if in thought.

”So then, probably a Green or a Blue,” she thought to herself in satisfaction; it seemed often that the Sisters of those Ajahs were forever off on ‘adventures’.  Not that there was anything wrong with that; the world needed to see the Sisters and the strength of the White Tower, and the beneficial influence they had on the land at large.  Of course, the return question wasn’t that much of a surprise, considering, “Do you feel the Tower is your home, Lillith? Aside from having spent so much time here, when you think of the word ‘home,’ are the quarters you were assigned here the image that springs to mind?”

Nodding briefly, she stood for a moment.  Pacing before the bench, Lillith spoke slowly, “Considering that it’s all I’ve known for the vast majority of my life?  I would say the Tower, and Tar Valon itself, is very much home to me.”  She paused for a moment; her feet stopped their slow pacing before she continued, “And one cannot but live in the same quarters for half of their life without feeling as if they are a sanctuary of sorts.  I came to learn, and to serve; what higher calling is there, but to serve the people of the land how I may?  Granted, I don’t feel the call to go out to the villages and help feed the poor, as some of the Blues do, or the satisfaction a Yellow might receive from bringing someone back from the brink of death… but then, there really isn’t much call for someone explaining logical principles in those cases, is there?”

Shaking her head, she smiled briefly, “I do apologize if I go on; I’m a solitary person by nature, and tend to ramble as my thoughts normally do when I speak to others.”  Sitting back down, she reached over and picked up her lapdesk.  Opening it, she pulled out a couple of sandwiches, and upon closing the lapdesk, placed them on top.  “I was actually planning on having some lunch out here, as you can see, but you’re welcome to join me to what I have with me.”


04 January (1:15am)

Nodding politely, Lillith responded, “That’s more than fine, Loraine.  It’s a lovely day to be outside.” The Domani woman proceeded to sit down, and then started into her sandwich in a less-than-graceful, yet efficient manner.  While the other woman might have had her spot of lunch, breakfast seemed an Age ago, and the White Sister didn’t feel overly worried that the taller woman was going to run off telling everyone that she had pigged out.

She couldn’t help but smile as the other Sister began to speak on logic, “For a Green, she seems to be a fairly grounded person… such a rare treat, it seems!” Unconsciously, she picked up the second sandwich and proceeded to devour that as Loraine picked up a flower, “I have yet to find the logic in a flower. I admit, being Green, my heart is not in logic, but in tactics and ‘saving the world.’ I haven’t had much time since leaving here to appreciate the simple beauty in a flower. There must be other ways for the flower to get the benefits of the flower without going through so much to produce one…

Laughing softly, she blinked in surprise to realize that both her sandwiches appeared to have disappeared into thin air.  Glaring at her stomach briefly, she shook her head and turned her attention to her companion, “Simple beauty sums up the logic of a flower in a nutshell.”

Standing up and moving in front of Loraine, Lillith leaned down and picked up a bloom of her own.  Inhaling the light fragrance, she gestured off-handedly at the plant, “A flower exists to be attractive in order to draw the birds and insects forth to sample of its sweetness, and thereby spread its seed.  The more attractive the flowers of the plant to the birds and the bees, the more likely it is to prosper.”

Tucking the bloom gently behind her belt, she moved back to the bench and resumed her seat, “Of course, it’s a bit… dry… to think of flowers as such.  Better to simply enjoy their beauty, better than to dwell on their reason for existing.  Light, I’m sometimes surprised that any of us can still find them enjoyable after years of Novice training!”  She chuckled softly then, idly fingering the bloom at her waist, “Not that it’s the flower’s fault for it being such a ready example for children first learning their talents.”


04 January 2009 (4:30 am GMT)

“You know,” Lillith started slowly, “I actually didn’t notice the lack of roses here.  Silly that, isn’t it?”  She laughed softly, plucking the flower from her waist and twirling it before her face, “I guess for all the time out here, I’ve not really thought about what all is out here; I just enjoy the solitude and the sensations of being out in the open.”

Dropping her hand with the flower back into her lap, she mused furiously for a moment, “Why did she mention her Eyes and Ears to me?  Perhaps it was a slip…”  What she said, however, “A book is a good companion on a long trip… if someone else can guard your back long enough to get into it.”

Eying the flower again, she tapped her lip briefly, and continued, “As for madness… that which we cannot understand in others is ofttimes misinterpreted as ‘madness’.  I know little of the Gaidin, not being bonded myself, but I can only guess that he is concerned for your well-being, and there’s not really room in his mind for those sentimental things which he fears may harm you.  And I guess as being bonded to a Green probably gives a man all sorts of worries.”  She smiled to express she didn’t mean it as an insult, and spoke on, “After all, it takes a certain level of what some might see as madness to be willing and ready to stand for whatever may come, to fight that which is wrong and evil in the world.  I feel that I myself am not strong enough for such.. which is why I can both admire and be somewhat bemused by those of you that can do such things.”


04 January 2009 (8:14pm GMT)

Blinking in surprise, Lillith refrained from biting her lip, ”Is she… attempting to comfort me?  I… I don’t know what to think..” It didn’t surprise her, not really; although she was fairly sure at this point that Loraine wasn’t trying to condescend, but rather be… sisterly?… sisterly, perhaps.  ”It’s quite possible she has, in her past, thought that perhaps the other Ajahs served lesser purposes, and having learned otherwise over the years through interactions has made her somewhat more magnanimous that perhaps she had been as a younger Sister.  Still, how to respond to such…”

She nodded slowly, the White Sister did, and she gave the impression of carefully picking out her words as she replied to the Green Sister comfortably seated in the grass beside her, “For all you’ve hinted at such this afternoon, I guess I have a bit… dense.  I didn’t quite realize that you were the main force behind the shape this garden had taken before I found it.”

Lillith stood up then and stretched her arms above her head.  Sighing slightly in contentment, she peered at the flower that Loraine had been explaining the history of, “As for battles of various sorts… well, it’s much like they told us when we were Novices and Accepted, isn’t it?  While we might not all be out there physically fighting the forces of the Dark One, we are all doing our parts.  I myself have been assisting Larindhra to some degree… or better to say, she’s politely tolerating a research project that I wanted to do.”  She smiled, and gestured to her lapdesk tucked under the bench, “I’ve been sitting in with the Mistress of Novices as she interviews the incoming Novices and annotating their behaviors and attitudes.  I intend to interview them further into their training, as well as talking with their teachers to understand the behavioral patterns of the children as they proceed through training.  It might not be the most fascinating material, but I believe that understanding behavioral patterns is very useful for various purposes.  After all, a battle cannot be fought and won without appropriate knowledge in several facets.”  She chuckled ruefully, and sat back down on the bench, “Light, but I sound like a Brown at times myself; I’m pretty sure that Raeyn and the other Brown Sitters thought I’d be joining with them for many years.”


10 January 2009 (10:53pm GMT)

Lillith frowned slightly at the anger comment; it, to her, seemed to be a normal part of the frustration of thinking that you were a free person, only to realize that you were well and truly a child.  “But,” she reasoned to herself, “No need to point that out.  After all, every person wants to think that their emotions are unique and personal, not commonplace and standard…”

She brightened up when the subject turned to her studies, however, “I’ve only been on this particular task a few months now, mind you, but it’s already showing some fascinating results.”  Leaning over, she tapped her lapdesk and continued, “Yes, cultural differences in the girls’ backgrounds do have some effect on how they integrate.  After all, they grew up knowing that certain behaviors were acceptable in their country, or in their village, or whatever.”  Lillith’s voice raised in pitch, and became more rushed as she continued, “Which, as we’ve seen in our own time as Novices, vary vastly from country to country.  However, we’ve also seen how the training received moderates some of those extreme behaviors… at least through the training period.”  She laughed briefly, “Of course, some of those behaviors reemerge once they are raised to the shawl, but there’s nothing that can be done about that.  As long as they are able to understand the basic medium of decorum required for life in the Tower, it’s considered a satisfactory enough result.”

Leaning back over, she picked up her desk this time and plopped it back on the bench next to her.  Opening it, she rifled through, picked up a folder, and waved it briefly, “But as said – there is a middle ground of behavior and attitude that those children in training conform to if they wish to make it through training.  As you know, there are very rigorous standards to which the children have to conform to, and this sort of research is both complimentary and supplemental to the Mistress of Novice’s own work.  This wasn’t the original intention of this work, but has been a pleasant surprise, as well as Larindhra’s willingness to let me ‘edge in’ on her domain….” “And, of course, the surprise of… friendship?  Something…“.

She shook her head, and put the folder back down in her desk, “Anyways, I could go on at length, but in short – it’s just an interesting little study of behavioral patterns based on the somewhat drastic lifestyle change that the children have to make coming here.  I don’t know exactly what real use it will be at this point, but I felt compelled to observe it.”


12 January 2009 (10:50pm GMT)

Lillith smiled and nodded, “I wouldn’t be surprised if your hypothesis rang true, Loraine.  Of course, there are obvious exceptions to the rules; I myself would be considered one.”  Her smile took on a wry twist, “Discounting the fact that all Domani women are supposed to be able to twist men around their fingers, I happened to be raised in a library.  So I guess I’m most unrepentantly gone against the supposed grain twice-over.”

Shaking her head, she chuckled softly, “Still, a person’s background would invariably have an effect on where they ended up upon reaching the shawl, if they made it to the shawl in the first place.  Of course, there are those that claim that with great strength in the One Power comes great strength of will, yet doesn’t it seem oxymoronic when applied to those who are weakest and are barely able to attain the shawl.  To me, those who know that they are barely eligible would be the strongest, in having to work so hard knowing that the slightest failing would see them going back to a life of… well, whatever they were doing before the Tower.”  The White Sister shrugged, “But then, that’s not an opinion I would speak too freely either; things as they are in the Tower at current would probably find little favor with such a statement.”


18 January 2009 (2:45am GMT)

Sighing slightly, Lillith repeated a benison she held close to her heart, “The Tower has survived and will continue to survive. While I’m not foolish enough to think that we shall survive by virtue of being us, I do believe that if people are willing to remember our purpose as Servants of All and do our work as best we may, we shall continue to endure, no matter the hardship.”

Tucking her notes back in her lapdesk, she spoke musingly, “As for the children burning themselves out… we all do our best to make sure they don’t leap ahead of what they are able to do, but I don’t think we can scare them nearly well enough to keep them from running headlong into the abyss.  Of course, it doesn’t help that burning out isn’t nearly as fearsome a thing as it used to be…”

She trailed off, cocking her head.  The sound of bells drifted into the garden, signifying the time.  Closing her desk, she scooped it into her arms and stood, smiling apologetically, “I do hate to rush off on this, but one of the Sitters wanted to discuss something with me at this time.  It has been lovely talking with you and sharing the garden, and perhaps we can do it some other time.  For now, enjoy… and perhaps I shall see you sometime again.”

With that, she nodded and started strolling briskly back to the Tower.

I’m coming home……

Another sleepless night full of bad dreams.

Anything to escape the bad dreams. Even rising long before the sun itself rose.

And yet, that’s what Mariasha herself did. Of course, this came on top of her normally strenuous routine of training and drinking, so the young Andoran woman was left feeling flimsy, almost insubstantial.

Still, she stumbled through her morning ablutions and found herself outside before the raising sun felt the need to make an appearance. Some of the trainees were already hard at work under the eye of brighter-eyed instructors than herself; she preferred to run afternoon courses when Thera managed to corner her into teaching.

Climbing up to her accustomed spot on the fence, she settled into a brown study of the trainees. Pretty much everyone around the Yards knew it was her habit to spend some time watching the newer people train while she woke up enough to go grab a bite to eat, and especially considering the hour, knew better than to disturb her; she’d made it clear to many unwary folk that she was not a morning person.

So it came as something of a surprise when someone crossed through the sparse population of the Yard and came right at her… someone looking very familiar! Rubbing sleep out of eyes, Mari blinked, expecting the person coming towards her to vanish; her Aes Sedai had been gone for years, she had to be dead.

Which left her one conclusion – it had to be her Aes Sedai’s spirit come back to haunt her! Attempting to stand and warn those around her of the spirit, exhaustion and shock overcame her, and she fainted dead away, falling off the fence.

When she came to, Mariasha found herself in an unfamiliar room. Groaning softly, she could felt even weaker and more tired than she had before waking the first time that day. Suddenly, a face leaned over her; it was Taeadra’s spirit again!

With a gasp, she waved her arms feebly to try and drive the spirit out of her line of sight, and was very surprised to meet flesh. Blinking, she felt a small jolt of shock and pain in her head, “In… my.. head.. WHAT?!”

She fainted again.


20 August 2008

As she came back to consciousness again, Mari continued to lay on the bed with her eyes closed, ”Okay Mari,”, she thought to herself as she attempted to take stock of the day, ”You’ve seen a wraith, fallen off a wall.. oh Light..”

Hesitantly opening her eyes again, Mari realized pretending she might still be out was in vain, considering that which had returned to her head. Still, even with that in mind, it seemed that perhaps Taeadra hadn’t quite realized that her Warder had come to. “Perhaps she’s as unused to having the bond back in place as me,” she though wryly as she tried to sit up, ”Or perhaps she’s preoccupied to the point she’s not noticed I’ve awoken.”..

Trying to push up feebly, she slowly wobbled her head towards Taeadra, “How… are… you… here?!” the weary red-headed woman attempted to demand. She managed to wobble a weak arm up towards Taeadra’s slightly startled face, though she had to wonder if the effort was worth it.

The part of her that was Taeadra went very still as the White Sister brought over two mugs of tea, “Sit and drink first. Slowly now.” Tae instructed firmly, as was the older woman’s nature. Shooting her Sister a mild glare, Mari weakly wrestled herself closer to upright, and as if putting her hand on the mug was a signal, was absurdly grateful to have something on hand to whet her even more parched-feeling throat with.

In spit of not trying to gulp it down, it was almost as fast as blinking; Mariasha pushed the mug back towards the woman sitting at her side to request a refill. Taeadra wordlessly put her mug down and attended to refilling Mari’s; the bond was still very still, as if the Aes Sedai were trying to hide something.

Sighing softly, Mari decided to take a belated moment to figure out where they were. It had seemed ages since she’d been here in her Sister’s rooms, but there was a sense of familiarity under the faint sheen of dust, “I guess the servants only bothered to poke their heads in here every few weeks or so,” she mused to herself, trying to think on anything but the strange events of the day. Not.. that she could really avoid them, with Taeadra’s return, and the growing thead of anxiety creeping in through the bond as the other woman returned with another mug of tea.

Murmuring gratitude, Mari blew on the tea briefly to cool it. She plunged her head through the wisps of steam and took a very healthy gulp of the fresh glass. Placing it back on the table with extreme care, she turned her attention back to Taeadra, “There… is a lot I could be asking right now…” she started, fighting down the urge to smile as the thread of anxiety expanded, along with a wave of concern, “But I don’t think that I’m going to be in any shape for this until I’ve had a meal or three… I take it I’ve been Healed?” Tae nodded assent, though it wasn’t as if she needed to.

Mariasha nodded back, and braced her flimsy arms against the mattress. Alarm raced into the bond as Taeadra gently pushed her back down, “I’ll go fetch you something. You’re not ready to be out of this bed yet, so stay here until I get back.” Command rolled naturally off of her Sister’s tongue, and Mari could only bend her head in agreement for the time being.


25 August 2008

As Taeadra exited the room, Mari let herself collapse back onto the bed.  “Riiight, show how sorted out you are… try standing, brilliant,” Mariasha muttered to herself, squeezing her eyes shut.  She couldn’t remember a time she had felt so weak before, and part of her knew this wasn’t really the time to actually be in the weaker position!

Taking a deep breath, she inched herself backwards against the headboard, and feebly turned over.  Grabbing onto the side of the headboard, she carefully levered herself back up into a sitting position; she leaned against the headboard with her legs dangling off the bed.  Gulping air, she grumbled to herself and had a bit more tea.

As she leaned against the headboard sipping her tea, the young Warder let her frustration and annoyance melt away.  In truth, she was still in too much of a state of shock to register it all, and found it much easier to focus on her weakened physical state.  She had heard from some of the other Warders who had been on campaign with their Sisters that Healing did tend to make a person weaker, but that they were able to draw on the added strength the bond provided to continue on… so why couldn’t she?

Granted, Taeadra had been gone for so long… longer than the time before she left when the bond was still new.  As it were, Taeadra’s presence was… almost uncomfortable in her head after all this time… had it been as such before?

She was musing on this when she felt Taeadra pausing nearby.  Putting the tea down, Mari leaned away from the headboard; she felt it was important to at least look as if she weren’t as feeble as she felt, ”Even if all Taeadra has to do is pay attention to what’s in her head,” she thought wryly as the door opened.

“I am sure you have many questions, but I would suggest you eat your fill and gain some strength back,” Taeadra announced firmly as she carried the tray over.  The White Sister flashed a stern glance at the younger Andoran woman as she placed the tray on the side table, and Mari scootched herself back against the headboard as she reached for the cutlery.

Taeadra had brought up a mountain of food, it seemed, but the famishment that followed Healing drove Mariasha through it all in short order.  Squinting at the empty plates, she turned her attention to the White Sister.  “Ask what you will, I will answer what I can,”  Taeadra spoke, gesturing towards the woman sitting on the bed beside her.  Opening her mouth, Mari started to speak… but was stopped when a yawn escaped.

“I… think…,” she started, punctuation each word with another yawn, “I think that I should maybe go back to sleep.  We can try this again tomorrow.. mmkay?”  Mari smiled at the touch of shock that rolled through the bond, but as she let herself slid back flat against the bed, her thoughts died off and sleep rolled over her almost instantly.


04 September 2008

To sleep, perchance to dream…

To dream, perchance, but perhaps not to remember; at least, no memories from the latest sleep remained in the young Warder’s mind as she stirred towards consciousness.  The bone-weariness and weakness of the prior day appeared to have sloughed off in the night, and Mariasha felt more rested than she had in some time.

In her mind, she could almost pretend that the last 2 years or so of solitude were all a dream; she could feel Taeadra standing off to the side deep in thought, and smell breakfast from the nearby table.  ”She spends as much time as a Brown in studious thought, but hides it better,” Mari thought fondly as she easily sat up and swung her legs around to hang off the side of the bed.

She stood and stretched; the motion felt wonderful after having slept for a day!  Her dear Sister still stood in deep thought staring at a painting above the mantle, muttering to herself.  The Andoran woman couldn’t help but smile as she sauntered up to join Taeadra, accidentally brushing the other woman’s shoulder as she did so.

For all Tae’s outward reaction, the bond jumped briefly, “I trust you slept well.  I have had one of the servants bring breakfast… I assume you are still hungry?”  Taeadra gestured behind her shoulder, her gaze still intent on the painting.  With a widening of her smile into an outright grin, Mari casually bowed before heading over to the food.

And Light, she was still hungry!  Slathering butter and jam generously on some of the toast,  Mari called out, “Why don’t you come join me for some breakfast, then, and tell me about this painting that you’re so intently staring at.  I’m guessing that it’s something important to you, and I’ve never thought to ask about it before.”


15 September 2008 (6:15pm BST)

Mari poured up some tea for both herself and Taeadra as the other woman settled into the chair across the table.  The White Sister nodded distractedly as she began setting up some breakfast for herself.

Presently, Taeadra spoke, and spoke at length.  Mariasha was sort of aware of what tests an initiate of the Tower went through, but obviously not the details thereof.  Still, it perplexed her to have Taeadra open up like this.  This was a woman who lived fully in control of herself and her surroundings, and it was almost frightening to feel the little pulses of fear that went along with her recollection of events.

Fear of the Dark One and his destruction though was something that anyone in the Yards would empathize with.  She knew that her Aes Sedai opposed the Dark One fervently, so why was she so surprised by the fear?

Shaking her head, Mari speared another piece of ham onto her plate.  Chewing thoughtfully for a moment, she swallowed and looked across the table.  Taeadra had turned her attention to a piece of bread, and was buttering it with a studied fury; did she feel as if she’d said too much?  “That sounds pretty… harrowing, Tae.  I wouldn’t want to pit myself against such a test.. and yet, this is something expected of all of your Sisters, isn’t it?”  The pain in Taeadra’s suddenly upturned eyes was answer enough, and Mari shook her head yet again, “But then, your lot carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.  But cheer up – you have some support in your Gaidin, right?”  A merry twinkle flashed in Mariasha’s eyes, and she poured another round of tea.


15 September 2008 (9:14pm BST)

“Why is Taeadra so antsy?  Why can’t she just be happy that things are back to normal?” Mari mused to herself, suffering a quick pang of irritation before joy smothered it again.  It was truly hard to be upset about things at the exact moment, but Tae had seemed somewhat subdued and on edge since returning.  Mari had initially attributed it to her Sister’s concern over her Warder’s well-being, but now the young Andoran woman didn’t know what to make of it at all!

“Tell me of lighter things Mariasha, anything.”  Tae smiled across the table, seeming somewhat at ease for the first time since her return.  Grinning back, Mari started to tell about some of the new arrivals to the Yards, and their amusing mess-ups during training, their misconceptions, and how it all rolled into a big ball of undignified fun for the more senior Tower Guards and Warders to chuckle at in remembrance.  And speaking of remembering…

“I dare say, Tae, that I probably should report back to the Yards.  I’m sure that Thera is wondering what became of me, and I should probably let the trainees I was going to help yesterday know what became of me so they don’t think I ran out on them a-purpose.”  Flashing a grin, she patted Taeadra’s hand before standing,  “I’m sure we can get back to our catching up over dinner.”  She bowed formally, “Until then, Aes Sedai.”  A smile flashed across her lips again, and Mariasha was out the door.

At the Baraka Manor (attn: Raeyn and Eqwina)

Staring at the mirror, Raeyn sighed resignedly yet again.  “Why, of all people..” she started, cutting off in a tight-lipped glare at her reflected image.  Fine dark-golden silk slashed with dark brown velvet in the skirts sheathed the Brown Sister; it was one of the few dresses she owned in the style of Andor, but one she relied upon when dressing to impress.  Her normal wardrobe was fairly boring; plain if well-made velvets and silks with little to no adornment in the style of her native Saldaea made up the bulk of her clothing.

Still, having to dress up was the least of Raeyn’s irks this evening, nor her reason for delaying the meeting planned for the evening.  She was quite looking forward to meeting this Master Baraka, truth be told.  No one outside herself and the most senior members of the Ajah’s Council were aware of the size of the Brown Ajah’s network of Eyes and Ears, but they worked assiduously to expland said network whenever possible.  And having a well-off merchant actually based in Tar Valon was too good an opportunity to turn down.

No, it was knowing who her companion on this visit would be for the evening that had the Brown Sister procrastinating.  There were very few in the Tower who stood above her, very few, and tonight would be spent the only one of those who mattered.  Eqwina was an extremely diminutive woman with a fierceness about her that had nothing to do with their darker affiliations, and caused Raeyn to have a grudging respect for the other woman in spite of her ‘cover’ Ajah.

Regardless of that though, the aged Sister was never really comfortable having to bow her head to anyone… and it really had been quite the shock to return to the Tower and find out how many hand bungled in and out of the job.  This woman who was Head of the Yellows though… perhaps she stood a chance of doing a good job in service to their master.

Shaking herself, Raeyn patted down a hair and strode to the rack near the door.  She decided to make due without her shawl, but took down a finely-woven dark brown raincloak.  Settling it about her shoulders, she went downstairs to meet her Sister.


Unsurpisingly, she found Eqwina waiting for her in a carriage downstairs.  The rain was picking up as she settled herself in across from the other woman.  “My apologies for the delay, Eqwina,” Raeyn shot a quick smile to the other woman as she leaned back.  Eqwina nodded and murmured a greeting before resuming her brown study of the interior of the carriage.  ”Just as well,” Raeyn thought to herself, ”Much too rainy and much too short a trip to really worry about watching the city go by.”

In short order, the two Sisters found themselves pulling up to a stately manor.  Nodding a her in polite greeting to the waiting footman, she allowed him to take her cloak and guide herself and the other Sister to his waiting master, Ahdam Baraka.

”Greetings, and welcome to my humble home.  It is ever a pleasure to host such noble persons as those of the White Tower.  Will you please have a seat?” the young master spoke warmly, bowing as appropriate.

Raeyn eyed Eqwina as they sat; she would follow the other Sister’s lead… for now.