The Homecoming

Standing on a platform in the middle of nothing, Rendra eyed the horse warily.  She wasn’t terribly experienced with riding or horses, but in her mission, appearances were everything.

She was Skimming from the Fortress to outside of Tanchico, and cursing over and over again not being familiar with anything outside of the city itself.  Oh sure, Skimming was faster than riding the entire distance, but that didn’t mean she had to be happy about the hours of standing in unrelieved nothingness waiting for her weaving to carry her home.

Still, she felt so… so relieved… to have been trailed and tested, to be accepted as a Dreadlady in service of the Great Lord.  To have the freedom to roam the world in service to the higher cause, to be able to… to be able to extract revenge on those who had done her wrong.  Oh sure, it had been some time since she had gone through that, but duty had kept her tied to the Fortress longer than she would have wished.

Her platform stopped moving abruptly.  It was hard to say what told her; there had been no sense of motion the entire time, no wind in her hair or anything of the like.  Rendra opened herself to Saidar and wove the gateway to exit this nowhereland, making sure to nudge the horse out in front of her.  She smiled in satisfaction – the sun was starting to set, and there was nobody in sight.  The dying sunlight glinted off of towers in the distance as she awkwardly mounted the horse; it was time to go find a nice inn.

Crossing the Alindrelle Erinin

Ben rode slowly down the Jualdhe bridge, into the city of Tar Valon. He reached up and brushed an errant lock of blond hair back from his forehead, looking over the creaking haywain ahead of him at the buildings ahead. The city was unchanged from the last time he had seen it, the White Tower drawing the eye past the Ogier-worked buildings that would have been captivating any place else. It was comforting; whatever else changed, the Tower would still stand above it all. Whatever else changed… He grinned to himself. That was the nature of things, after all, but here he was again.

At the city gates, he exchanged a nod with the guards. To them, he would be just another man with a sword and a pack, after all, and the Light knew there were plenty of those on the roads these days. Nothing special marked out his blade, and if there were a fancloak folded into the bottom of his pack, in Tar Valon this wouldn’t mark him nearly as much as it might have in other places. He wasn’t ashamed, but it would be easier to answer the questions just once, if it could be helped. He doubted it would happen that way, but he’d always lived in hope, and he wasn’t going to change that now.

Ben grinned then, as he rode through the streets towards the White Tower. It was funny, the things you could miss about the Aes Sedai, if you’d been away long enough.

Ben T-Gaidin

11 March 2009 (12:28am GMT)

Walking briskly away from the Tower, Lillith privately enjoyed the little bubble of space being an Aes Sedai granted her as she meandered down crowded streets.  Tar Valon was a city packed with humanity, and while many Sisters preferred to make their way around town on horseback or being carted about in a chair, she couldn’t see a reason for it.  Oh sure, it wasn’t a small city, and as she made her way further and further out from the Tower, she started to doubt the wisdom of her decision to walk, especially on such a fool’s errand.

To her, clothing wasn’t something to worry about overly.  As long as it covered the skin, she was content enough.  However, one of her fellow White Sisters had been harping on about some seamstress across town that did good work, and insisted that Lillith check it out.  She reasoned to herself, ”It never hurts to investigate well-recommended work, even if that which I am content with is simple fare.  And besides, it has been a few years since I had some dresses made.”

At least the day was nice, the right kind for much too long of walks.  “It cannot be too much further,” she mused, pausing to pull the directions out of her belt pouch, “Thanelle said it was the third street past the Blue Cat Inn…”

Her muttering was suddenly cut off as she realized that a horse was bearing down on her.  Yelping, she jumped back, falling on her bum into the street muck.

11 March 2009 (1:22am GMT)

Ben pulled his horse up short; the crowd had shifted him into the path of an Aes Sedai, and now… “Forgive me, m’lady Sedai,” he said, as he slid gracefully down and stepped over to extend a hand to the White. “If I might…”

After a moment, she reached up to take his hand. He grinned, and then pulled her carefully up to her feet. He looked at her, carefully ignoring the stains on her dress; hopefully it hadn’t been one she was too fond of. “Do pardon my riding. What can I do to make amends?”

Ben T-Gaidin

11 March 2009 (1:47am GMT)

Letting the soiled bit of paper fall to the ground, she accepted the hand up from the handsome young man. “Do pardon my riding. What can I do to make amends?”

Lillith looked at the scrap of paper again and murmured, “I really shouldn’t litter.”  She then took a look at herself and slapped a mucky hand to her forehead.  “Gah!” she exclaimed, opening herself to Saidar.  She hurriedly laid weaves to dry and remove the mud from about her person, and grimaced.  Opening her belt pouch, she extracted a blessedly dry and clean handkerchief and ungracefully spat upon it before dabbing at her forehead.

“Well sir, I had intended to visit a seamstress this afternoon, but I’m thinking that perhaps I should return to the Tower and change before I do as such.  Cleaned off or not, I still look a right mess after this little incident.”  She laughed softly, “My fault for walking clear across town to a new destination – I think that next time I shall hire a chair or some such.  But for now… you wouldn’t happen to be headed to the Tower by any chance, would you?  After all, if you are, then I won’t have to worry about you accidentally riding me down again.”  She realized that she probably sounded a bit blunt and rude, but then, attempting to crack jokes was sort of a new thing for her.

15 March 2009 (6:56pm GMT)

The White Sister gratefully accepted the hand up; she was not an equestrian by any stretch of the imagination.  Oh, she had taken the occasional ride on a horse, even going so far as to take lessons at one point, but she couldn’t see the need to be an expert at it if she had no real need to leave Tar Valon.  She even had, at one point as a new Sister, purchased herself a well-trained and gentle-natured filly, but the poor thing had spent most of its time cooped up in the stables during her life, and rarely going out.

”I really should make an effort to go riding sometime, I really should,” Lillith mused to herself for the hundredth time, ”I mean, I never know when I’ll have to leave the Tower, and it would be better than limping around to find someone to Heal me.” Of course, she’d probably forget for the hundredth and one time this solemn promise to herself, but perhaps one day it would stick in her mind.

“By the way, I don’t believe I introduced myself before; my name’s Ben Tomas.”

Shaking herself out of her reverie, she attempted to turn her head to address the handsome man leaning around her, “Nice to meet you, Ben, albeit it probably would have been nicer in other circumstances.”  She laughed slightly before continuing, “And heading for the Tower, at that.  I’m guessing that you’re not a new recruit, as you don’t seem quite young enough for that… family in the Tower, perhaps?  A little sister amongst the Accepted, or amongst the newest Sisters?”

She didn’t realize she was babbling, but she didn’t really care that much either.  There was something… comfortable about this person, something she hadn’t felt in anyone else.  Lillith couldn’t pinpoint it exactly, but for the nonce, she was very content to have this strange and enjoyable moment in her life.

18 March 2009 (9:04pm GMT)

“A little sister amongst the Accepted, or amongst the newest Sisters?” she asked, looking over her shoulder to smile at him.

“A sister? You could say that…” Ben replied, slightly ruefully at being caught out so soon. But then, one could hardly expect to keep secrets from an Aes Sedai, even one as charmingly distracted as this one seemed. He smiled, and continued, “…but a bit more senior than you’re thinking. And I’m going to need to stop by the Warder’s yard, to send someone to find me a room again; I’m sure they’ve given mine away to someone else by now.”
Ben Tomas

24 March 2009 (12:04 am)

“A bit more senior…” Lillith trailed off, musing.  “Of course,” she exclaimed, “You must be bonded to one of the Aes Sedai, then.  I take it that you’ve been off in duty to your Sister, or have you both been off on an errand for some time?  I myself have little reason to depart Tar Valon, so I guess it does interest me to some degree as to why anyone would be off for any amount of time.”

That Which Awaits (Attn: Covina)

Ferena had been pensive ever since receiving her summons from the Wise Ones, and she wasn’t sure that feeling was going to go away anytime soon.  The entire trip to Rhuidean had been fraught with heavy thinking – why her?  What had she done to catch the Wise One’s eyes?  Not that she wasn’t honored beyond belief to be selected, but she couldn’t understand what she had done to garner this duty.

”I mean, all I’ve done with my time was grow up, maybe help some of the other children of the sept out with this and that in my free time.  Nothing special with that, not really…”

Eying her father, she smiled suddenly.  Both himself and her mother were thrilled beyond belief.  Both had wanted to see her on her way, and it had been both nice and stressful.  She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a chance to travel with both her parents; her mother normally stayed home, leaving all the traveling to her father.  Still, she had been happy for the transit time.  It felt good to walk beneath the strong sun, and with her parents there to talk to each other, it left her ample chance to mull in her own thoughts.  Not that it did any good – she didn’t know what she was going to be facing, only who her contact would be on the mountain.

So when said mountain came into view as they made their way towards Rhuidean, Ferena’s stomach was a-quiver.  She had heard that some who went into Rhuidean didn’t come out, but only knew that to become a Wise One, she would have to enter the city twice in her training.  “What if she didn’t make it?”  she’d asked of her parents en route, and they had just chuckled gently before replying, “There is more to you than you give yourself credit for – you will do well.”

Either way, the moment of truth was drawing near.  They picked their way up the rocky path to find a small party camped out on the slopes.  Gulping, she steadied herself and approached, “Hello, I am Ferena.  I was told to meet with the Wise One Covina upon this mountain…”

04 March 2009 (12:30am GMT)

Taking a deep breath, she shot a reassuring smile over her shoulder to her parents and began to remove her garments as Covina spoke to her; her shift followed her bulky skirt, which in turn followed her blouse, all folded carefully and left in a pile at the Wise Ones’ feet.  Her shoufa went on the pile last; the sudden heat made her head swim a little.

As Covina wound down, the other Wise Ones stepped up in turn to kiss her cheeks, “Come back to us.”

“Come back to us.”
“Come back to us.”

And Covina the last, “Come back to us.”  A final kiss, and nodding to herself, she took off down the mountain for the city beyond.


Her feet carried her down the rocky slope as fast as they could.  However, she was no Maiden, trained in running all day to battle, and she could feel herself tiring as she neared the city proper. ”At least that… cloud?!  Looks refreshing”

She made her way through the wall of mist; it seemed as if it would never end.  However, it suddenly did, and beneath a misty dome, she gasped in wonder at her first sight of a city.  “It’s so… strange… and yet, beautiful,”  Ferena whispered to herself as she made her way down the avenue.  Tall structures greeted her view no matter which way she looked; many of the buildings contained exquisite stained-glass windows, where there was actually any window to be seen..

Suddenly, her destination loomed before her.  Amidst a random-seeming collection of odds and ends, she saw it standing there – the rings Covina had described upon the very air for her.  She stared for a long minute; her fists were clenched tightly to her sides.  “It’s the future one way or the other… “

Taking a deep breath, she stepped through a ring.

Images flashed before her eyes.  Lives that might be, lives that would be, but for all that she made certain choices in her life.  One atop the other, they came at her.  A babe was laid in her arms – a son she might have named Taril.  A snake bit her as she left Rhuidean, and she died instantly.  It was decided that she was too weak in spirit to be a Wise One, and so she decided to prove her worth as a Maiden.  In another, her rejection led her to take up her father’s job, where she succeeded and failed as many times as there were numbers in the universe.  People died, people were saved.  A strangely mute girl shifted with her through a dream; what was the meaning of it?   Pictures and light, truth and fictions, it all screamed at her until…

Ferena wasn’t sure how long it had been since she had entered the arch, but it seemed as if the sun had hardly shifted at all.  She felt drained physically, yet her brain still darted around the fragments of… dream? prophecy?  that darted around her mind still.  It was already fading so quickly, but standing around wasn’t an option – her throat made sure of that.  “Water… if only I could drink that mist, but…”  she shook her head and willed her extremely weak-seeming legs forward, “But I’ve got another mountain to climb.”

She took her ease on the return – that is to say, didn’t force herself to run at speed up the mountain.  She didn’t understand why she felt so weak; hadn’t she only been in there moments, or maybe hours at most?  She was convinced that it was the same time coming out as it had been coming in, but that didn’t make sense; she was pretty sure that it was definitely the same hour of the day!  And why was she so very hungry? ”Sure, I didn’t have a meal before going in, but why… so hungry, so tired and thirsty…”

And what had she learned from this experience?  Already the fragments chance remembered upon coming out of the rings had faded into the mists, other than a name or two. ”Why would the name Iriana mean anything?  I’ve never met anyone with such a strange name before!  And something about a child named Taril… my… my child?”

Her thoughts cut off as she realized that she was almost back to her destination.  Already, she saw figures waiting on the ridge.  Determination set back in, and she picked up the pace – the future was waiting.

09 March 2009 (8:34pm)

Smiling tiredly, Ferena let herself sag into the pregnant woman’s arms.  To her surprise, she felt tears welling up in her eyes. “Why.. why am I…?” her mind started to wonder before she started to take hold of herself.  “It was just the shock of the experience, of something new and strange.  Do you really want to get yourself kicked out of training before you start properly?” Taking a deep breath, she dabbed at her eyes with a filthy hand and let herself be led into a tent.

“I’m sorry, Wise One,” she started, “I.. I guess it was a shock and all.  I’ll be fine in a moment, surely.”  Realizing once again that she was clutching a waterskin, Ferena drank deeply of the lukewarm water.  Her head was swimming still from the jaunt through the harsh sunlight, and it was as if all her energy had completely fled the second she had been ushered into the relative cool of the shade.  At least, perhaps, she could take a little rest for now…

Do you Know How to Control your Senses? ((Open Class))

Stifling a yawn, Rendra made her way through the quiet Fortress.  Even in places such as this where evil never rested, the agents of such did have a need of sleep.  So, outside of an unlucky few dragged from their repose on the behest of their superiors, most garnered what rest that they might.

That wasn’t to say that Rendra was cross at having to be awake, but quite the opposite.  She had been keyed up since receiving the missive to attend the lady M’bela.  And while she didn’t know the exact nature of this class, she was definitely eager to find out.  Would it be something with Saidar, or perhaps another class extolling their master?  While she had learned so much, Rendra had the impression it was only the tip of the iceberg.  At least she’d have all the time she could ever want for that and more, if her masters spoke truly…

She thought then of the One Power as she continued to winder her way to her destination.  It made her chuckle to recall her against her ability she had been when she’d arrived at the Fortress, and how far she’d come in accepting what she was.  Not like the Tar Valon witches, no.  No indeed, the denizens of the Fortress were clearly superior.

Pulling herself out of her reverie, she cracked the Library door open and entered the room; time to find out what the evening would hold.

05 March 2009 (12:10am)

Rendra winced as the wall of flame sprung into being around the room.  After a moment, however, she realized that she felt no heat from it, and that nothing was catching on fire.  ”What is… wait a moment,” she thought, attempting to keep herself quite still just in case it was real fire, and she just couldn’t feel the heat for some reason.

“Good!” the Mae’shadar called out, and started throwing small objects towards the class.

Catching the small sparkling stone that was tossed at her, Rendra eyed it curiously.  It was a deep blue, and it almost seemed as if it had a light of its own.  As the teacher explained that it was an angreal, her eyes widened a bit.  She’d heard talk of these objects of power before, but this was her first time getting to use one.  Even if she had to give it back, it was exciting to have a chance to learn how to use one.   ”I’ve heard it told that angreal can make you a lot stronger; I guess I’ll find out how much stronger if what I was told about using one of these holds true!”

Her attention turned back to M’bela as the more experienced woman explained how to make the illusions.  The threads were carefully weaved alongside her explanation, and soon the image of a bird appeared before her; before the male channeler, a mouse appeared in the air.  A few more examples followed the first one, and then all were instructed to practice.

Nodding to herself, she eyed the rock… erm…. angreal in her hand.  Someone had told her that the trick was to open herself to Saidar through the angreal.  It took her a few tries, but with some prodding, Rendra found herself filled with more of the One Power than she ever had before.  It made her feel a bit giddy, as if life were even brighter and shinier than normal when she was filled with the One Power.  Of course, there was still the task at hand…

Envisioning a cat, she wove Spirit and strands of other elements to try and shape what was in her mind.  What came out, however, was kind of spiky and not at all cat-like.  Biting her bottom lip, she mused to herself, “Maybe I’m not holding the image right, or perhaps I’m using too much Earth…” Dropping the flows, she weaved anew, trying different combinations as she felt suited the image in her head.

While she had the size right, her mental image of what she was supposed to be weaving faltered as she thought of different cats that had been running around the various parts of Tanchico that she had been in.  While she tried to hold the simplest sort of image in her head – a generic black cat of an average slender size, it took several tries before what she was able to even get something that approximated what she had in mind.  Around this time, M’bela had made it around to her.  The older woman weaved almost lazily, easily rendering what Rendra had in mind.  Watching what was woven carefully, Rendra mentally noted how much of which elements were used to show the illusion of what she had in mind, ”Too much earth indeed… too much of all the elements, perhaps.”

Under the Mae’shadar’s watchful eye, Rendra carefully laid the flows while concentrating on the image in her mind.  It was easier after having some guidance, and after a few more tries, she was able to generate the illusion of a cat standing by.  Her lips quirked into a smile, and she continued to practice the weave.

Of course, Rebecca’s sad little attempts at oneupmanship were ignored; Rendra was too excited at her relative successes with this weaving.  A poignant image popped into her mind, and she tried her luck and presenting an image of the rose that once had graced her tiny bit of personal space in her parent’s home.  While it wasn’t spot-on perfect, a trace of sadness crossed her face before the image could fade away.  And while her mind was still on the sadder times, she tried for a simple image – a loaf of bread.  Of course, that was basically just a lump of brown, and she couldn’t suppress the giggle that escaped before she let the image go.

10 March 2009 (1:07am GMT)

Observing M’bela’s weaving most carefully (where she could), Rendra was most pleased to not be the ‘assistant’ in this class’ demonstration.  Oh sure, the two that were selected received healing, but that was beside the point!

When it came to pairing up to practice, she studiously ignored Miss Snottypants Rebecca and turned to another girl next to her.  Her face lit up briefly, and she inquired, “Hello, didn’t we pair off in the last weapons class?”  The girl smiled hesitantly before nodding.  Nodding in reply, Rendra responded, “Well, as we didn’t manage to kill each other with blades, let us trust each other again to not kill each other with the One Power, shall we?”  Her pouty lips quirked into a smirk, and she almost thought for a moment that she saw the other girl smile too.

Taking a calculated risk, the Taraboner let the other girl go first.  It took a bit before she got the hang of the sleeping weave, and after a rude awakening from falling on the floor, Rendra was relatively pleased to find herself upright and heavy-lidded, “I’ll have to remember to get her to lean against a wall, even if making her fall over would be sweet too.” she mused briefly before gesturing her partner to the wall.  She laid the weave gingerly on the other woman, who stifled a tiny yawn, but didn’t seem to be particularly incapacitated.  Still, it was better to be a tad too light in her weaving in this case, and as she carefully strengthened the flows, she was very pleased to achieve the right result.

She started to wonder if she could use such a weave on herself to aid in getting to sleep, but then remembered a basic lesson – one couldn’t weave upon oneself.  Still, she could see the value in such a weave – if someone was asleep or drowsy, they would be distracted, and therefore be an easier target to prey upon.  And, of course, should one be lacking an actual weapon on hand, there were always weapons of the One Power to use…

Stifling a tiny yawn, Rendra nodded to the other girl, “I guess we should try to weave these blades, then?”  Her partner murmured assent, and stifled a yawn of her own.  Chuckling softly, she turned her attention to the weaves she remembered M’bela doing.  The ice blade formed easily, and she marveled at the beauty and utility of such a relatively simple weave.

She then tried to emulate the fire blade the Mae’shadar had woven, but found that she wasn’t strong enough without using the small angreal she had been issued.  Even then, it was difficult, and she was most grateful to move on to trying other combinations.  She found that making a blade of ice was very simple and easy, angreal or otherwise, but that making one of the very air itself was the simplest of all.  Satisfied, she covered her mouth and stifled yet another yawn.

29 March 2009 (2:36am BST)

Once in the room she’d been assigned, Rendra looked at her subject.  It was an old woman, bent and withered.  Her iron-gray hair was in a bun, and she was eying the young Adept warily.

The Taraboner smirked, and opened herself to Saidar.  Binding the serving woman with flows of Air, Rendra said nothing for a long moment before speaking, “You have some important information for me, and I think that you should consider giving it up.”  The old woman sniggered; it was obvious that she didn’t think much of Rendra or her current situation.  “Silence!” Rendra proclaimed, extending her existing weave to gag the prisoner.

“What kind of pranks have some of the students here gotten up to for a servant to be so blasé about being bound with the One Power?” she mused as she paced the small cell, “Perhaps she’s mad or something.  Or perhaps she’s a repeat offender, and knows that I cannot kill her for this.” Glowering, she continued to pace and think.

Over the next few hours, Rendra tried several different ways to get her prisoner to talk.  She bound the woman’s ears and tried the illusion of fire, complete with little weaves of the element dashing at her toes.  The ear blocking, of course, was so she didn’t have to deal with getting laughed at for not getting the sound right; it was easier to not attempt the illusion of sounds yet.  She attempted weaving images of Trollocs and other such monstrous creatures, but as her ‘skill’ with such was so new that the effect was really laughable… at least, as best as someone can laugh around a gag of Air.

As she despaired of ever breaking her subject, Rendra recalled something that had been said, “…severe damage that may threaten their life is not allowed…”

Nodding slowly to herself, she slightly constricted the weave of Air wrapped around the serving woman.  The subject looked at her steadily, but the young Adept could see a bit of doubt creeping into her eyes.  Smiling, she wove another flow of Air and whapped the woman across the back with it.  Not waiting for the initial reaction to die down, she thwapped the second weave against the back of the woman’s legs.  She kept this up, slightly constricting the first weave here, increasing the size of the second weave there.  It wasn’t too long before she released the bit gagging the woman’s mouth, and not much longer past that before she was able to retrieve the desired bit of knowledge.

Rendra unbound the woman, and shut the door behind her.  She was extremely tired, but relieved to be done with this task.  She wasn’t sure what she felt for her subject – it wasn’t pity, but more annoyance that she couldn’t threaten her with anything worse.  Still, judging by the reactions, perhaps if she was a repeat offender, none of the other students who had worked her over in the past had thought to go for the physical.  She wasn’t terribly happy that she’d resorted to that, but didn’t want to lose to… that sad little thing.   ”Still,” she reflected tiredly, ”I could stand to learn more about interrogation… I’m sure that not everyone would fold to a beating…”