Several weeks had passed since her Aes Sedai’s return, and Mariasha had been enjoying having her Sister back at her side. And yet, still, there had been an edge of unease that still persisted. She couldn’t understand it, but then, the edge of shock from the sudden return hadn’t worn off quite yet…
Uneasy as she was about things, she tried asking other Warders around the Yard for advice. She knew this was akin to talking about a spouse to a friend in a manner that most wouldn’t, but she was so lost. Some small part of her remaining innocence wanted to believe that they could pretend that all was well, and that she’d not been run out on. But as she talked to more of her brethren in the Yards, the more her mind wanted to question this action Taeadra had taken.
Mari had asked no questions of Taeadra, not yet; part of her was desperately trying to pretend all was like old times. In some ways, it was truly as if Taeadra had never left. They had fallen into their normal daily routine almost seamlessly… and coupled with the fact that Mari herself had been pretty much drunk the entire time Tae was gone made it easier to pretend that no time had passed.
But as time had rolled by, the constant knot of Taeadra’s feelings in Mari’s head started to infect her as well. The other woman was full of wariness and anger, and it was all that the Warder could do to cheerfully ignore a headful of such. She redoubled her efforts in the Yard, and fell asleep easily in a satisfied exhaustion. Still, as time was passing, there seemed to be a switch between the two. For whatever reason, some degree of contentedness was growing in Taeadra’s head, while the suspicion and anger started growing in Mariasha’s. Why had the other woman left her for so long? Had she done something wrong? Was it the Creator’s way of punishing her for… “No, no, mustn’t think about that, no..”
Finally, the Warder could take it no more.
It came to a head over the course of a normal meal. The pair was dining in Taeadra’s chambers, as they often did, and making polite conversation about the day’s events. Perhaps it was how hard she was pushing herself. Perhaps it was the denials she kept making in her head, but something snapped. Or perhaps it was Taeadra’s grumblings about the penance her Ajah had handed down for her absence…
“My fellow Whites are… cross.. with me for going away for as long as I did,” Taeadra commented, reaching for another slice of bread, “I guess that it’s universally felt that even though I had important business, the Ajah’s own business at that, that I should be punished for it.” The White Sister reached for the butter and hummed softly to herself as she applied it lavishly to the bread.
“Perhaps they thought you were dead, Tae,” Mariasha spoke quietly, “Perhaps they were worried, as I was, that something horrible had happened.” Her voice began to raise; a hint of anger began to creep in, “Maybe some of them were drinking themselves to death from worry, trying to deny that anything could’ve happened. After all, if someone cares, they’ll let everyone know they’re doing alright, wouldn’t they?!”
At this point, Mari was quivering with rage and had stood unbeknownst to herself. As she glared down at her Sister, her fists clenched unconsciously. The sitting woman’s mouth had formed a small ‘o’ in surprise at the sudden verbal assault, and taking a deep breath, Mari made herself sit back down. Fishing a whetstone from her belt pouch, she whipped out one of her daggers and began sharpening it nonchalantly. “Perhaps, Taeadra, it’s time to tell me what was so important that you had to leave me here thinking you were dead for so long. I think it’s time for you to tell all.”
04 January (2:36am GMT)
Quirking an eyebrow, Mari raised her eyes from the whetstone in her hands. “So then, you mean to tell me that wandering off on an extended adventure was more important than those that care about you? More important than your duties in the Tower to your Sisters?!” She snorted, slamming the whetstone down on the table. “I know that you always try to put the best face on things, Taeadra, but word has it around the Yards that your Sisters of the White are out to punish you severely for your ‘important business’. I’m guessing that if it was so important, they’d not be that ticked about it, would they?”
Standing up, Mari began to pace along her side of the table; she occasionally shot a dark glance at the woman she had considered her closest friend. That burned – had, not was. Or was she? It was all so hard to think about. Had her parents…
Choking back a growl, she stopped dead in her tracks, “No, it’s nothing like that, nothing like that at all,” the Warder muttered to herself. Her right hand drifted down to her dagger and gripped it unconsciously, “I wasn’t sworn to protect them, they didn’t think I could… DON’T THINK ABOUT IT!”
Coming back to the here and now with a start, she jumped once she realized she’d been shouting. Shaking with an unidentifiable emotion, she spoke slowly to the air, “I… I.. am… I’m going.. to.. yeah… I’m going to go now.”
Doing her best to pretend Taeadra wasn’t there, she gathered up her things and departed as quickly as dignity would permit her. This was all too much for Mariasha, and the young Warder was unaware that she had started running once clear of the White quarters. She didn’t know where she was going, but knew she had to get away. “You can’t run from your thoughts though,” her mind whispered at her, spurring her to try even harder to escape from it all.
The sun hung low in the sky as she exited the Tower at a dead run. She was blind to the curious glances from the people she passed, and as she made her way past the Warders Yard and down the eastern road, her mind made itself up about her destination. Content in this, she allowed focusing on not running anyone down take over her mind as she continued her mad dash towards the river.
Mariasha’s steps slowed as she neared the bank, and she began to pace quickly alongside the river to cool herself down from her short run. It was no secret that she found the riverside calming, not that she expected anyone to follow her out here, not really. Still, the run had been pleasantly exhausting, and as she slumped down to sit on the grass lining the riverbank, she let the flow of the water soothe and distract her mind from the turmoil she did not want to deal with.
23 February 2009 (2:27am GMT)
As the sun glinted off of the river as it set off into the distance, Mariasha pushed herself off the grass and sighed. Her thoughts had run themselves in circles to no avail, and the serenity that the river usually brought her couldn’t even begin to make a dent on her internal turmoil.
She slowly made her way back to the Barracks, flipping a dagger absent-mindedly as she went. The Andoran woman had found that it did a good job of changing peoples’ minds about bothering a woman alone… not that she really wanted to be alone, not with these thoughts. But still, whom could she talk to? Taeadra would have been the person she talked to everything about, but where did things stand now? Sighing, she entered the Barracks and made her way to her room.
Mariasha’s sleep was troubled. That is to say, the few times she managed to nod off, she found herself immediately jerking back awake from stray and painful thoughts. Her Aes Sedai, her parents… All of this mixed ‘round in her mind, making an impolite mess.
So when she ‘woke’ up the next morning, she found herself nodding and red-eyed. She wasn’t sure how many times she had randomly started crying, but she prayed to the Creator as she dressed for her efforts in the Yard that she wouldn’t start again. Of course, her resolve only lasted until she got outside and ran into Thera…
01 March 2009 (8:55pm GMT)
“A-ale?” Mariasha stammered, “N-n-no, no ale. I had been trying t-to stop drinking and t-trying to get my head back together… for…”
She burst into fresh tears before he could stop herself. Fishing her handkerchief from her pocket, she mopped herself up with a sigh. “I’m a wreck, Thera,” Mari started, taking a moment to tuck her hankie up her sleeve, “Just a total wreck. Light, I’m not really sure if I’m in good enough shape to be out and about right now; I’ve just…” She shook her head slightly, “There’s a lot on my mind.”
Mari smiled weakly at her old friend. As it were, she wasn’t sure she could unjumble all the pain and hurt in her head… but she knew she had to try. She had seen what ignoring emotions could do to people, and she didn’t want that. Oh sure, it had to be done in the heat of battle, but one couldn’t live in the Void and stay human.
04 March 2009 (1:24am GMT)
Flopping into the cushy chair, Mariasha gratefully accepted the glass of water. “Thank you,” she murmured, drinking deeply before lowering the mug to clasp with both hands.
“Do you want to tell me what’s wrong, Mari? What caused your… tears?” Thera inquired politely. The Andoran woman couldn’t help but laugh a bit, even if it meant that Thera was looking at her if she’d gone mad.
“Well, you remember how a few weeks ago my Aes Sedai showed up out of the blue? Light, like anyone can forget that, what with me screaming about ghosts and falling off of walls and things.” She took another sip of water, and continued, “Anyways, the shock of it was just all too much for me, and I tried to convince myself that everything would be like normal again now that she was back, and that I could overlook her absence. Her considerable absence…”
Mari trailed off, staring at her hands as they cupped the mug for a long moment. “We were having dinner last night, and I just kind of snapped,” she spoke in a low voice, almost as if talking to herself, “I just completely blew up on her and demanded an explanation. To make matters worse, Taeadra came up with the most cockamamie story I think I’ve ever heard in my life. Claiming she was off on important business, but if it was so important, why didn’t she take me with her to protect her, Thera? Why didn’t she?”
Her eyes shone with tears waiting to be shed again as her hands trembled on the mug in her lap.
09 March 2009 (11:32pm GMT)
Mari pushed a few stray strands of hair out of her face as she sighed in response to Thera’s question. “I don’t know if some of them bother to form any bonds with anyone at all. Taeadra is reputed to be in fairly hot water with her Ajah over her little… adventure, and I’m sure that me having a nervous breakdown probably isn’t doing her a world of good either. I mean… it’s in our very souls to care for our Sisters – the bond makes sure of that.”
Turning her attention to that part of her mind that was Taeadra, she could tell that the White Sister was still sleeping. It was much like her not being there – no sense of emotions came through the bond, yet Mariasha could tell that she was there. She tapped her cheek in thought before casting her eyes back to her fellow Warder, “I… I don’t know Thera, I just sort of snapped. You’ll probably laugh at this, but I just had a moment where I realized I felt what my parents probably felt when I just up and vanished.” She herself chuckled mirthlessly at this before continuing on, “But unlike my ‘fortune’ at getting Taeadra back, I… I’ve never bothered to contact my parents in the years since I’ve left Caemlyn. I… I don’t know if they’re alive or dead, and they… they don’t know and…”
Another sob ripped out of her before she could stop herself, and she growled at herself slightly, “Light Thera, I’m so bloody tired… it’s just been running around and around in my head all night, and I don’t even know how to sort it out yet. Even a promise made in one’s cups is a promise that should be kept, and when we decided to bond those years ago, I was thrilled to have someone to take care of, to hopefully trust in. I just… I just don’t know how to lay the line. I think I need to, though – how can I do my job if she wanders off? It would be just like an Aes Sedai to betray their Warder by wandering off to die, right?”
She helped herself to another gulp of water, and put the freshly emptied cup to the side, “Anyways Thera… any thoughts? I just… I just want things to get back to normal, the way it should be.”
31 March 2009 (12:04am BST)
Pushing herself out of her chair, Mari impulsively hugged Thera. Squeezing gently, she managed to stumble back from where the other woman was seated without falling over as she rose from her half-crouch. “Thanks Thera, you’ve given me a lot of food for thought, even if it’s perhaps not the taste I want in my mouth.” She chuckled softly, shaking her head, “Taeadra is a very headstrong woman, and I guess I’m just going to have to learn how to be more stubborn than she is… perhaps I can find a mule to teach me.”
Sighing, she headed for the door, “Thanks again,” Mariasha started, opening the door, “I’m going to… go… something.” She stepped through and shut the door behind her, and started out across the Yards.
She’d not gotten more than a hundred paces towards the Tower when her steps slowed, and then stopped. The young Warder’s thoughts were much like honey – torpid and squishy. Still, it suddenly dawned on her that she probably looked a right fright. “I should go clean myself up before going to talk to Taeadra,” she told herself firmly, turning back towards the barracks, “She won’t take me seriously if I look a mess, and I have to come from a position of strength, not of weakness. Plus, if I make her wait longer, it might make her easier to work with… yes…”
Upon arriving in her chamber, she closed the door behind herself and sat down on the bed. She had only gotten as far as removing a single boot, and tugging at the next, before she found herself flat-out asleep on the bed.
After having a much-needed rest, Mariasha’s body still felt leaden, and her mind quite asleep. Stifling a yawn, she levered herself up. She eyed her still-booted foot ruefully, and proceeded to finish the job she had started before passing out on herself. A bath would do her mind wonders.
The sun hung low in the sky before her as the Andoran made her way back towards the White Tower proper. She was as pristine as she could be – her hair was brushed and pulled back, her boots were shined, and her clothing was spotless between. She was still unsure in her heart if this would be good for her friendship with her Sister… but protecting the woman she was bound to was the most important thing.