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.

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…”

The Forging of a Dreadlady…

Sitting cross-legged on her bed, Rendra hummed quietly to herself as she honed her daggers.    It was a nightly ritual for her, and it brought great comfort to know that her steel was sharp, and ready to serve her another day.  One blade already lay next to her, glimmering in the lamplight, and the other was almost complete.  Giving a few last strokes with the whetstone, she switched the stone for a cloth and gave the blade a final wipe-down.  Smiling in satisfaction, she stood and began to transfer her tools into her wardrobe.

As she was shutting the wardrobe door, a knock suddenly boomed through the door.  Before she could so much as move to grab the daggers off her bed, Arcon swaggered in.  Narrowing her eyes at the annoying Cairhienien, she opened her mouth to speak, only for him to cut her off, “Adept Rendra Harella,” he started, speaking languidly, precisely, “You are to be tested for the rank of Dreadlady this day.  I assume you’re bright enough to know the rules from the last test, yes?”

She glowered, but nodded sullenly.  Taking a moment to sheathe her daggers, she stiffened as the older man laughed, ”So I can surmise that my blades will do me little good in this test, whatever it may be… but at least I will have the mild comfort of cold steel by my side,” Rendra thought, stepping out the open door past her guide.

As they made their way to… wherever, Rendra tried to suppress her nervousness.  She had no idea what to expect on this test – how much worse could it be than the maze that had brought her from Acolyte to Adept?  And yet, even as she asked herself this, she knew within herself that it would probably be a lot worse than anything she could envision.  As the Myrdraal in one of her classes had said in the past – they had to succeed, or die trying… and no matter how hard she had worked these previous years, she wasn’t sure if she would succeed.

The time for thinking was short, however, as Arcon quickly delivered her to a large room.  Smirking, he nudged her into the chamber, and shut the door behind them.  Before her, she recognized one or two of the people sitting before her – Mae’shadars, the elite of the Dreadlords, and there were five of them staring down dispassionately at her.  To the side, four male Dreadlords waited, “What…” she started to think, only to have her thoughts interrupted as one of the Mae’shadar gestured her to step forward.

“Adept Rendra,” the woman spoke, “You have been deemed ready to test for the privilege of becoming a full Dreadlady.  All you have to do… is survive.”  The woman finished with a bit of bite, and smiled darkly.  As she finished her sentence, the Dreadlords stepped forward…

“What are…”

Her thoughts were immediately interrupted as one of the men raised his hands.  With a twist, a fireball suddenly hurtled through the air.  Training took over as she opened herself up to Saidar and deftly wove a shield of Air, blocking the projectile.  ”Why couldn’t this be bare-handed fighting?!” her mind protested as she jumped to the side in attempt to avoid an earthen elemental blade.  The blade brushed her arm as she dived, and the Taraboner woman gasped in pain as a slow welling of blood greeted the air where the blade had grazed her.

Time seemed to blur as she fought off attack after attack.  The very ground shook, and her legs and dress were cut and torn from the very earth under her feet rising up against her.  Rendra was very much on the defense; she was not a very strong channeler, and only the dexterity of her weaving kept her from death itself.  Oh, she managed to get off a few attacks of her own – one of her opponent was quite damp, but her limited successes only seemed to spur them on further.  Her body and mind were quite exhausted, and only the growing heat of her anger spurred her onward.

When her opponents suddenly stopped, Rendra fell to her knees gasping.  All in the room eyed her solemnly, and with great effort, she levered herself back to standing.  Once again, she tried to speak…

Only to be cut off as a wall of fire began to sped towards her.  Shrieking, she drew deeply upon Saidar and wove a shield of Air as strongly as she could around herself.  Where before some of the Dreadlords had only wove things that seemed designed to keep her off-balance, the room now seemed to be filled with Fire and Earth, all aimed directly at her.  Spirit brushed her link to the One Power, and she shoved back as hard as she could against that which would deny her life.

Biting her lip, she continued to dodge as best she could to keep all her opponents in sight.  Her dress was all but rags now, but life was more important than modesty.  Her entire body felt decidedly singed from all the close encounters, but all she could do was cut the weaves she could see, and block the others at this point.  She attempted to slice at her opponents, only to almost lose her head to a fireball.  She tried to weave shields to block her opponents, only to have them slashed to tatters, and her almost as well during the recoil.  Her anger burned dimly in her mind; she must not lose Saidar!  She had to live, to kill, to seek revenge!

Once again, there was a sudden cessation in the onslaught.  Gasping for breath, she held on as tightly to Saidar and her anger as she could.  What was the meaning of this?  Was she not worthy, had she not studied hard, had she not trained well?  Glaring defiantly, she straightened as best she could in her wounded state, and offered a prayer to the Great Lord that this was the end of it, that she would live to serve.

The Mae’shadar before her glanced at each other before the one in the center spoke, “Release Saidar.  Release the Power now, or else!”  Reluctantly, Rendra let life and color pour out of her, and gasped as tiredness crashed out.  Sheer stubbornness kept her upright as significant glances continued to be exchanged on the dais.  Perhaps she was too tired to miss the infinitesimal nods, but after what seemed an eternity, the woman in the center spoke, “If has been decided that you have tested truly, and on the morrow, you will be taken to the Bore to swear your oaths to the Great Lord.  Rest for now.”


Dismissed.  To sleep, to dream; life followed an odd path to bring her here, but this was her way in things.  Rendra, between random bursts of inner glee and almost-complete exhaustion, was even able to ignore Arcon as he followed her back to her chamber.  Smirking, she slammed the door in his face, and tied off the sash behind her.

Hobbling to her table, she picked up her small mirror and inspected the damage.  Her braids were a frightful mess of loose and singed-off hairs.  Her face had picked up a few new gashes, and it was readily apparent to anyone that could see her (if anyone had been peeking into her room) that she was in a pretty beaten up state.  Sighing, she removed the remnants of her ruined garments, and began to carefully wash herself as best as she could with what was on hand.


The next day found her dressed in the finest of red silks, and with her hair back in a proper state of repair.  There was little she could do for the dark circles under her eyes, and even with Healing, she was still feeling slow and weak,  ”Knowing my luck, last night wasn’t actually the test, and they’re going to try something to me again in this weakened state.”

Thankfully, her fear was unfounded.  She made her way into the wan light that surrounded the Fortress with her guide (thankfully, not Arcon –this- time!), and stepped through their gateway onto a strange and barren landscape.  “This is Shayol Ghul itself,” her guide spoke, gesturing to the mountain and surrounding landscape, “To channel here is death.  Remember this always.”  Nodding, Rendra gingerly followed her guide forward.

Up the mountain and around the vents, the pair finally entered through a vent that was indistinguishable from all the others except for one minor factor – it wasn’t belching smoke, steam or fire.  Stopping just inside the entrance, her guide gestured forward, “Step forth and swear your oath.  I will wait just outside for you.”  Nodding grimly, Rendra picked her way forward.

Ducking her head slightly, she made her way carefully around jagged stalactites that seemed to get lower and lower the deeper she progressed into the cave.  Before long, she was picking up her dress and trying to scoot around, hoping that she might make it through to swear her oaths looking better than she had the night before.  The Great Lord must have been listening, in this place that was nearest to his home, for she found herself at the end of the route.  A ledge jutted out over a pit of writhing flames, and above her… “Better to not look up,” she decided firmly as her knees collapsed under her.  Of course, that could have also been the overwhelming presence she felt all around her…

Suddenly, all thought was washed aside as pure force exploded into her mind, “WHAT DO YOU COME TO OFFER ME, CHILD?”

“My heart, my body, my soul, Great Lord!”  she cried out, shivering slightly at the sensation in her mind.


“I am yours, Great Lord, for now and for always!” she screamed, feeling like no more substantial than a vibration as the pressure in her mind increased.


“I swear it, Great Lord, I swear it,” Rendra whispered as she felt the pressure suddenly vanish from her head.

Pushing herself upwards, she backed away a few steps before turning to exit.  There was work to be done.

To gain an Edge ((ATTN: Raeyn))

Rendra had been bemused to receive an invitation to meet up with one of the boys that had been in her weapons class, and all the more so for it being one who had so obviously been drooling over Rebecca.  ”The idiot probably just wants some sort of details on that stupid chit, and probably figures that all girls are the bestest of best friends around this place… bah!” Grumbling under her breath, she stalked to the meeting place that had been indicated on the missive.  Whatever the case, she was curious as to what this person wanted, and why he had indicated she should bring her daggers with her…

Stalking out into the courtyard, she smirked at the figure waiting for her.  He smiled slightly in reply, “Hello Rendra, I am Dreadlord Arcon Dadread.  I remember you from a weapon’s class, and I thought perhaps we could spar to improve our skills a bit. We don’t want to fall behind the other students now, do we?”

Blinking in surprise, she looked at him uncertainly before retorting, “When did you have time to notice that?  If I recall correctly, you were busy drooling on your chit of a countrywoman.”  She smirked, stroking the hilt of a dagger, “Why didn’t you ask her out here?”  Rendra ran the tip of her tongue across her full lips, and smiled brightly… but with a hint of malice.


31 January 2009 (3:21pm GMT)

Rolling her eyes at the man before her, Rendra wondered if the fool thought she had been born yesterday, ”I thought Cairhieniens were supposed to be subtle and clever… getting promoted must’ve gone to his head.”

Still, she would be foolish to pass up a chance to train up her skills, even if it was with this arrogant creature.  What she said, however, “And why should I trust that a half-blind man won’t ‘accidentally’ run me through, Peace of the Shadow or not?”  She smirked, arching an eyebrow questioningly as she crossed her arms.  Tapping a finger on a forearm, she continued, “Not that I think I’m worth your time or effort to kill, mind you, the half-trained child that I am…”

Rendra trailed off, stifling a mock-yawn for effect.  “Regardless, I guess some small measure of trust must be garnered.  As you said – this would not be the place for such plots… and I guess I’m bored enough to give you some of time for this.”   Smiling crookedly, she uncrossed her arms and drew her daggers.  She gestured at the taller man with a dagger, she started forward.

25 February 2009 (2:18pm)

Narrowing her eyes, Rendra wondered how she had lost the advantage.  Oh sure, he was bigger, had a longer weapon, but with his sight issues and overwhelming ego, he shouldn’t be that hard to take down.  “Maybe I’m just not trying hard enough.  After all, I don’t really want to kill him… but he seems to be trying pretty hard to try his luck here!” She danced back, forcing herself not grip her blades quite so tightly.

She deflected yet another onslaught; The Grapevine Twines attempted to shove his sword aside with one dagger, while the other hand attempted to go for his tiny heart with Kissing the Adder.  Unfortunately, his heftier weapon meant that her efforts were truly for naught, and almost cost her a hand besides.

Stepping back again, she suddenly dodged to Arcon’s left, ”Perhaps I can circle around to his blind side and get the advantage,” Rendra mused excitedly.  Granted, she still had to get around his blade, and in no time the two found themselves dancing and slashing around each other in a circle. ”Perhaps around the other way, then…”

Rendra realized amongst all this dashing, slashing, and hacking that she’d never felt more alive in her life without the One Power in her.  She immediately dismissed the idea of channeling at him to take advantage of the battle, however; he could channel as well, after all, and this was for practice, not for life or death.  Still, she dashed and dodged, attempting to get around his blade…

And was rewarded with a sword-edge pressed firmly into her side as she was pressing the flat of one of her blade’s against Arcon’s neck.  Laughing softly, she spoke towards his ear, “Shall we let each other free, then?”  As she spoke, she gently moved the dagger away from his neck and stepped to the side away from his sword.  Inspecting her blades, she sheathed them and smiled in delight, “I would say that was… edifying.”

Meeting the Family (Shadowspawn Class)

Smoothing a dark blue gown over her hips, Rendra walked sedately through the Fortress towards…. somewhere.  She knew that there was yet another class to attend that day, but she was as-of-yet unfamiliar with the entire layout of this immense structure that was her current ‘home’.

After what seemed an Age, she noticed a stream of people she recognized from her other classes heading in what seemed the right direction, and she joined them.  To her surprise, there were two cloaked forms flanking the open door.  The young Taraboner stiffened momentarily as she felt a shield cut her off from Saidar… but she knew better than to ask questions in this place.  The ‘lessons’ here were just as harsh, if not harsher, than those she’d grown up with.

Sighing inwardly, she shuffled in with the rest of the students, and found herself a corner to hole up in and observe from.


18 January 2009 (1:04am GMT)

“Good afternoon, class.”

Rendra gasped in surprise as the woman who had been standing there when she came into the room turned around.  Woman… but not… where were her eyes?!

“My name is Calaun Ontrix Seyr… And I am a Myrddraal.”

Biting back a gasp, the Taraboner was suddenly very glad for the corner she had placed herself in; the walls were giving something to brace against rather than falling flat on her face.  For all her time at the Fortress, she hadn’t had to come face-to-face with any of the Shadowspawn creatures, and for the life of her, she couldn’t figure whose idea of a joke it was to plop the lot of them in a room with one!

Of course, that was before this Calaun actually even looked at her.  When that eyeless gaze brushed her, Rendra could feel her spine trying to climb out of her skin and through the wall, and that gasp from earlier did manage to escape.  For all she had faced in the streets growing up, she was suddenly very sure that there was nothing quite as fearsome as this strange creature before her.  Tightening her hands into fists, she bit her lip and promised to herself that this too she would learn to not fear; she was tough, and she couldn’t let anything cause her fear, not anymore… for Aldric.

11 February 2009 (5:33pm)

Rendra narrowed her eyes as the creature continued carrying on and ranting.  Granted, her spine felt like it had been dunked in the coldest parts of the ocean whenever that angry eyeless glare crossed over here, but that was beside the point.  Who was this mere creature to talk down at her future leaders; did she want to be remembered poorly in future battles, where life and death lay in the hands of those above her?

”Still,” she thought to herself as the creature raged on, ”Other people here claim they can ride through shadows from one place to the next, and,” Rendra’s thoughts cut off suddenly as Calaun slammed her hands down on the table, making it issue a decidedly creaky-crunchy sound, “… … … And maybe this Myrdraal has a point, and the lot of us are silly cows…”

Gulping down air, she forced her hands to unclench.  Anger and fear mixed and streaked with each other in her as the Myrdraal glared around the room, and it was all she could do to keep her hands from her daggers, ”Did I already forget the promise I made to myself not moments ago? I WILL NOT FEAR! I cannot, I must go on to punish those who would harm those I cared about.  I must be stronger than… than this creature, than everyone!”

Forcing herself to step away from the wall, she took a deep breath and attempted to address the creature hotly.  What came out, however, was a squeaked, “I under… under..stand… you… ma’am.”  Gulping, she hung her head and glowered; she would master her fear.

10 March 2009 (1:22am GMT)

Taking a deep breath, Rendra forced herself to meet the gaze of the Eyeless once again.  She was still shaking a bit, but it was something she could accept.  After all, everything improved with practice, supposedly, and this was her first time doing this.  “I have no further questions at this time,” she made herself say as smoothly as possible.

She was further gladdened when the creature turned away from them all to go towards the door.  Oh sure, they were off to look at more creatures, but at least she’d not have to look this Myrdraal in the eye again quite yet – twice in as many minutes was more than enough for now!

Taking a deep breath, Rendra willed her feet to move forward… after the Myrdraal.  Towards whatever pit of monsters they were going to go play in, monsters that some day they would have to all command.  Even faced with it now, it was still so hard for her to believe the road of her life had taken her to such an insane point.

15 March 2009 (7:33pm GMT)

Following along, she felt her legs regain some strength as she wound her way down through the Fortress behind the creature, rather than directly in its gaze.

In time, they reached the open cells.  Rendra almost gasped as she felt someone channel Saidar behind her; a globe of light sprang to life, revealing some beasts within.  Beasts for lack of a better word, but surely they had a name?  She had heard of many sorts in her time here – Trollocs and Draghkar, Darkhounds and so forth.  The beasts didn’t look like dogs of any shape, though, so Rendra dismissed them as that which she could see before her.

She was definitely curious as to why these creatures were caged before her.  Sure, they were probably dangerous, but then, what wasn’t dangerous in the Blight?  ”Perhaps if I do the smart thing and stay very quiet and still, I shall find out what’s going on here.  I mean, beyond what in the Great Lord’s name these things are!”

Once More With Feeling – Advanced WS Training for Dreads

Touching the dagger on her belt, Rendra muttered at having to be in breeches again.  True, she understood that it was much easier to learn about weapons with the freedom of movement they provided, but that didn’t mean that she ever had to be particurally comfortable in them!  Shooting a glance at her wardrobe and its pretty dresses, she sighed and headed for the training room.

Her hand tightened on the dagger as she entered the room – she was there again.  She being Rebecca, or ‘that stuck-up ladyspawn’, as Rendra preferred to think of her.  And there her ladyship was, sucking up to the teacher, “Master… Randra, was it? I’d like to apologise for what happened during my last lesson. I assure you it will not happen again.”

Rendra muttered under her breath – that stupid Cairhienin chit had started it last time, but what made her think she’d not get another dose of it today!?  Doing a double-take, she realized that it was the same man as last time.. and looking a lot crosser than he had the class before.  Nodding her head in greeting, she kept a careful distance from Rebecca, but didn’t loosen her grip on her dagger.

I’ll show that chit what-for!


03 Jan 2009 (11:30pm GMT)

Blinking in surprise, Rendra’s fist tightened involuntarily on the long dagger belted to her waist.  Another person, an unfamiliar person wandered in. “I wonder if he’s another student?  Great Lord, but how many people are there in this crazy place?!”

Her notion that he was another student was quickly disabused when he started doling out instructions to have their weapon of choice on hand.  Shooting a dark glance at Rebecca, Rendra pushed back a stray braid with her free hand while smiling at the dagger belted to her waist.  As much as she’d love to give that snooty Cairhienen a taste of bare steel, she had a feeling that even an ‘accident’ in training would be punished greatly at this stage.  Later, perhaps…

Shaking her head out of the lovely fantasy road it was taking her down, Renda glanced quickly to make sure that no one was behind her trying anything funny, and awaited further instruction.  While she knew know in her heart she would probably never get the chance to be an assassin like she wanted to, she wasn’t about to get caught short should she ever not be able to use this witch power she was cursed with.

“GAH!  Quit wandering off, mind, especially in this place!” she chastised herself mentally.  Her lips formed a pouty moue as she glanced around again, taking in the room.  She almost growled as she spotted one of the boys in her class checking out… her“What does that scrawny chit have that I don’t?!” Rendra thought, shooting the boy a dark look.  She unconsciously cocked her slender hip to the side, tapping her fingers idly on the hilt of her blade.

13 Jan 2009 (12:37am GMT)

Perking up, Rendra watched assiduously as this new teacher began demonstrating the various forms.  There were quite a few she wasn’t familiar with, but she was grateful when Dalek (as she learned his name was) was able to make it around to her to make corrections.

One such case was attempting to learn The Cat Dances on the Wall.  After almost cutting Rebecca’s head off (“On accident!”, she swore fervently), a very bemused Dalek wandered over and tersely explained, “You’re just waving that dagger all over the place – were you actually paying any attention to my instruction?!”

Blushing slightly, she made herself take a moment before speaking, “I tried to do it like you showed us; what was I doing wrong?”  Sighing, he re-demonstrated that it was tentative and controlled, not just wild swings.  Nodding, Rendra tried again to mildly better success.. but still more dangerously than needed.  Dalek shook his head, “I think that you’re not quite ready for that particular move; save it for once you’ve got better control of your wrists.”

She waited until he turned to another student before sticking out her tongue at his back briefly.  Resisting the urge to stomp, she tried her luck at Dandelion in the Wind again while thinking, “I did have the fastest wrists of the three of us back home.. what does he mean my wrists aren’t any good?!” Rendra moved into a mimicry of The Grapevine Twines, enjoying the twisting of her wrists.

Before she knew it, Dalek was dismissing them with admonishments to practice in their off time.  Nodding, she suddenly realized just how thirsty she was, and scooted off to get a drink.

23 Feb 2009 (7:10pm GMT)

“Back in these pants,” Rendra grimaced to herself as she filed back in for the next iteration of her arms training course.  She felt a bit unsure about how well her practicing had gone since the last class, but at least she’d not accidentally killed anyone in that time.

She was very relieved that Dalek didn’t drag her up to the front for demonstration purposes.  The lessons of the Shadow were sharp and to the point, and it was an immense relief to find out she wasn’t going to be the latest example.  Still, watching one of the three people Dalek had pulled to battle, she winced for the other girl, “I don’t think I managed to even be quite that bad… perhaps I should see about partnering with her down the line, if only so I don’t feel a complete dunce.”

Suddenly, he changed what he was doing, throwing everyone into confusion.  After a moment, he nodded in satisfaction and spoke, “Forms are useful, but sometimes the most dangerous foe will be the one who know nothing of weaponry, because they will be totally unpredictable…” his eyes wandered among them. “So lets pair up and train in dueling, use both forms and then also try to be inventive, never let yourself expect anything in a match sword form or not, that will be the end of you eventually”.

Nodding in bemusement, Rendra strode up to one of the girls that Dalek had pulled to the front, “Hi, I’m Rendra… care to practice with me?”  The other girl wiped her forehead with the back of her hand and stood, nodding as she re-drew her sword.

Rendra smirked briefly as she launched her assault.  Cutting the Clouds was prevented by the other girl stepping backwards, and to counter-balance, Rendra swung her other dagger up at her opponent’s face in Hummingbird Kisses the Honeyrose.  The other girl jerkily swung her sword up to block, enabling Rendra to try her luck with Black Pebbles on Snow.  The other girl had thrown herself off-balance trying to block the blade coming at her face, so only took a slight graze across the side as she felt to one side, and Rendra to the other.

Laughing softly, she thwapped the other girl on the side of the leg from where they had fallen.  The other girl jumped slightly, and pushed herself up on her elbows.  Seeing Rendra trying unsuccessfully to not laugh out loud, she too started giggling.  Pushing herself up, the Taraboner woman quickly sheathed her daggers and helped the other girl up.  “I wonder if my ‘attack’ there counts as getting you by surprise… you’re not too cut up, I hope?”  After all, this wasn’t Rebecca she was fighting, so why bear the other girl any ill will?

Prepare for Pain–Basic Swordsmanship for Dreadies

”Trousers,” Rendra hrmphed to herself as she headed towards the room she’d been directed to for the class, “Why do they feel so.. indecent?!”

She had been very happy to hear that they were going to let some of the Adepts and Acolytes train in weapons, and had jumped at the chance to learn something about it. After all, she had hoped to become an Assassin initially before they realized she could channel and shoved her in with this lot. Even if the young Acolyte had come to terms with being able to channel, she took it to heart that one shouldn’t depend on that ability… ”Even if it means feeling a little indecent,” she continued to grump to herself as she approached the room the class was to be taking place in.

A couple of other Acolytes had lined themselves up along one wall outside the room, so she wandered over and joined them. A few were conversing quietly with each other, but as Rendra had thusfar managed to not get to know anyone that well in and amongst those training in the Fortress, she contented herself to wait. Which wasn’t terribly long; a voice shortly called out and bade them to enter.

As she stepped through the doorway, her eyes widened slightly; she didn’t know what was really different. There was nothing special about the room she could see; windows looking out into the strange sky of the Blight near Thanka’dar, which was always a bit disconcerting.

As she lined up where the instructor had pointed, she spent a moment looking at the man who was to teach them the sword – a plain man trying to look fierce; he didn’t strike her as anything in particular. Nor had Rendra seen him around the Fortress before, but that could mean anything; the Fortress wasn’t exactly a small place, so it shouldn’t surprise her if there was someone she’d not met yet leading one of her classes.

He spoke again, pointing at someone on the other end of the line, “My name is Sevrud Randra, and I will be teaching you how to not kill yourself with those blades you hold in your hands. First order of business, I want you to all hold out your dominant hand and tell me your names. Starting with you.” When it was her turn, she held out her right hand and announced her name, “Rendra Harella, sir.”


19 June 2008

Rendra patted her pinned back braids and listened to their mysterious instructor, or sir, as he deigned to not share his name. ”A bit rude that, but then, people here are a bit odd,” she thought to herself as the man started explaining that they would be using practice lathes instead of bare steel. ”Probably wise that, though; some of these people look as if they’ve never even picked up a dagger to cut their own meat!”

Their instructor showed them a few moves, and Rendra nodded along; she vaguely comprehended the point he was trying to make, but had a feeling it would make more sense once she got into it. The strange man noticed the nodding, stopped, and turned to the group and instructed them to pair off with the person next to them, gesturing for those who were confused. Nodding again, Rendra turned to her assigned partner.

A bit taller than her, and a bit slimmer, the other woman looked like a bit like the Domani tramps that passed for merchants she’d seen in the streets around Tanchico, “A short Domani, perhaps.. kind of pale too, but she could just be ill?” The young Taraboner had no real idea; she’d not really taken notice of any of the other Adepts around the Quarters – they were just other people, and as long as they kept their distance, she was generally content.

Rendra gestured towards the lathes, and started walking towards them. As he other woman followed to pick one out, Rendra introduced herself, “I’m Rendra.. you are?”

“Rebecca,” the taller woman offered as she took a lathe, and said no more.

Nodding, Rendra did her best to emulate the parry stance the teacher had shown, making sure her right hand was the hand closer to the ‘blade’. Holding it before her, she experimentally moved her lathe to a block position, noting how her arms (and especially her elbows!) moved as she slanted her practice blade one way or the other. She noted Rebecca doing the same, and spoke, “Did you want to try a spar, then?”


14 July 2008

She stood there, posed and waiting for a response. The taller woman, Rebecca, appeared to be staring off at the distance. Raising an eyebrow, Rendra opened her mouth to speak again, but fell silent, “Maybe I should just pummel this hussy if she’s going to be inattentive,” she thought to herself, gripping the practice lathe more tightly.

Her mind made up, Rendra’s muscles tensed as she struck. To her surprise, Rebecca came out of her seeming stupor enough to parry the blow. Eyes narrowing, Rendra struck again… only to be parried again. As focused as she was on trying to strike the other woman, she didn’t notice the half-Domani girl’s change in stance, and yelped as Rebecca’s lathes swished towards her. Shifting backwards, Rendra managed to only just miss getting whapped as she got her lathe up in time to block.


28 July 2008

Glaring at the taller woman, Rendra’s stance was probably beyond sub-par as she did her best to keep from getting hit. “What is the matter with this insane woman?!” she thought, wincing as another blow landed.

Neither of them were that good, obviously; they were just learning, but this Rebecca character seemed like she was seriously out to kill the poor Taraboner woman. Rendra’s own swings were becoming more erratic to match the taller woman’s strikes, and her arms becoming leaden from being forced to continue through motions her body was unfamiliar with.

Her eyes widened slightly as Rebecca continued to press her; the other woman’s face was contorted in a grimace of concentration that the shorter woman was unaware of matching. Her breath was coming in laboured gasps as she strove for reach, to actually hit the other woman. Oh, she managed a few strikes, though not as many as the taller woman.

Rendra growled; a shriek escaped between her teeth as she attempted to advance on the other woman… someone needed a good braining, and it wasn’t going to be this Taraboner that got one!

Put yer Dukes up, Hussy!


August 12, 2008

Growling, Rendra has most happy to drop her weapon and grapple with the slightly taller weapon.  For all the Taraboner wanted to learn the sword, she was already most familiar with pounding someone to a pulp bare-fisted!

So intent she was on trying to rip the other woman to shreds (and obviously, vice versa), it was an extreme shock when someone’s practice blade slammed into her back, causing her to shove Rebecca into yet another trainee.  In short order, they were all on the floor; the severity of the bruising and pain started to become evident to all in the class as they stopped moving and turned their attention back to the instructor.

He had fetched his sword, this sir, and sat cross-legged in front of them.  It seemed that the pummeling wasn’t enough, and now the masochist expected the lot of them to shift around practicing drawing and re-sheathing their swords!  And to demonstrate it back to him!

Moving stiffly along with his demonstration, Rendra could understand what this sir person meant; if you couldn’t get your blade out in time, you might as well ask to be cut down in a sword fight.  So she followed along assiduously, and did her best to demonstrate what she’d learned… stiffly, true, but at least she was making the effort.

Even so, it was a great relief to be dismissed; she had a date with a hot bath and a nap.

Reading/Writing Class for Dreadies (OPEN)

Poking her head out of her chambers, Rendra eyed the bit of paper affixed to the wall. Eying the man at the end of the hall, she raised her voice to call out and ask what it said, when he suddenly announced, “Attention all Acolytes! I, Dreadlord Michael, will be starting a class to teach reading and writing for those who have never learned and those who wish to improve. Everyday after breakfast in the North Library I will hold a two hour lesson for those interested. This will be a month long class with a test at the end.”

Blinking at the man, and the flier on the wall, she muttered, “I can only to be hoping that he wasn’t fool enough to put up fliers for a class to learn how to read… who would tell us what they said?!” She went back into her room, and closed the door behind her.


Still, the young Dreadlady-to-be was happy to have caught the announcement; in spite of her extremely common background, Rendra had always thirsted to know more… not that anyone had had the time to teach her, especially not her family! So it was with great pleasure she found herself in the Library the following morning, looking around the room idly. “I… I’ll be able to read all these books, if I did want to be reading them,” she thought with a small smile, somewhat oblivious to the other students filing in.

It wasn’t until several other pupils had settled in that Rendra turned her attention to the man in the front of the room. He was the same possibly daft fool who had put the fliers up in the Acolyte halls – “Thinking we could read them, perhaps… how some people take their skills for granted!” He looked to be a kindly, doddering old fool; sort of how one would stereotype any generic older shopkeep to look. Of course, appearances counted for nothing here – all had sworn their souls in service to the Great Lord, so the only guarantee was that they all had something go ‘wrong’ in their pasts to lead them to this path.

But still, the young Taraboner had to ask the question that was on her mind, “Michael sir,” she called out, her face hardening slightly as all the eyes in the room turned to her, “Why did you put up notes in the quarters if this is for a reading and writing class, if those of us that have come here can’t read yet?!”


19 June 2008

Rendra bit back annoyance when their instructor held her with the Power, but the glower quickly went out the door with his backhanded compliment. ”He has a point though; I really should watch what questions I ask around this bloody madhouse,” she grumped to herself, smoothing down her latest and prettiest dress. It was a lovely deep blue that complimented her skin and was cut in the style of the Tarabon upper classes, and she almost felt nobility in such garb, even if it was only a very fine wool.

Almost yelping at a sudden pinch, Rendra jerked her head up. “Do I need to dance your hands like a puppet, girl? Do as instructed!” She was chagrined to notice that Michael had already started putting shapes on the board. She quickly reached for her quill, almost upsetting the ink pot in her haste and reached for a sheet of parchment. Having dunked the quill in ink, Rendra was having a difficult time figuring out exactly how to hold the bloody thing! Ink dripped from the quill onto a corner of the parchment as her hand hovered; her mind was working to comprehend the shape. Slowly, she started scritching it out; the shapes were very blotty from the excess of ink, and shaky from the woman’s lack of experience, but were kind of close to what was engraved into the board.

Her sullenness over the reprimand faded as the lesson continued; she was still putting either too much or too little ink on the quill, and so the letter-shapes ranged from splotches to hen-scratch and everything between… and all wavery. Michael stopped by several times, and gave her pointers, but it was still very slow going until she had something copied well enough to pass muster. “I think, child, you are going to need a lot of practice,” he said to her with a small smile as she continued her efforts while other students began to leave, “But you’ve already stated that you’re completely new to this, so we shall be patient; take your things back to your chambers as instructed, and make sure to put a few hours into this every night until the next class,” he further instructed, and gestured to the door.

Nodding, Rendra carefully stoppered the ink bottle; she prayed to whomever was listening that it wouldn’t muss up her fine new dress! Once that was done to her satisfaction and stashed in her belt pouch, she quickly gathered everything else and headed off; there was many a thing to do for this student Dreadlady, and now she had to find more time for this!


14 July 2008

Rendra entered the classroom feeling slightly more confident than when she had left it the week prior.  Although time had been short, she had practiced as much as she possibly could, even forfeiting sleep to some degree to work on scribing out the letters painfully by wan candlelight.

“It almost is like drawing a bit“, she thought to herself as she settled into her chair.  Smoothing down her skirts, she arranged her writing materials and settled in to listen to Michael’s lecture.

“Today we’ll start with simple words then have a quick review of your letters and sounds. I want you all to come up one at a time and sound out each letter from your own writing and then turn in all your papers you wrote on. We shall begin those reviews as soon as I have finished today’s leeson. We will do twenty words today and Rendra, you shall go last.”

She started to open her mouth to protest all this singling out, but some hint of prudence clamored through and kept her silent.  The young woman knew very well that she was probably having the hardest time of it, and that perhaps the teacher was only trying to give her a little help by seeing how everyone else in the class handled it.


The review of letters and sounds went well enough, and before the young Taraboner woman knew it, it was her turn to read the words on the board.  She had taken special care scribing them out; thinking of it like drawing helped immensely.

Handing the paper to Michael with her work from the week before, she turned her attention to the board and began to sound out the words, “K… Kat… do.. dog… mmm.. maan…”

Rendra felt drenched in sweat from the combination of being the center of attention and the concentration required for her to make the sounds make sense together.  By the time she had stammered out the last word (t..t-eee), she was quite ready to sit back down again.

This Was a New Dress! (Adept Test)

Rendra sat on her bed in her chambers working through a channeling exercise.  In spite of her original reticence to ‘become a witch’, she had given in at the simple prospect of actually being taught something!  That, and having come to accept that she could do so much more with the Power… and avoid getting messy.

Since coming in for her training, Rendra had been able to get some lovely dresses made.  Blood-red silk cut in the style of the Taraboner nobility clung and folded about her form, and made her more conscious about how she walked and where she sat.  In short, she was doing her best to emulate how she thought noble women held themselves, and wasn’t falling too short of it; not that Rendra would ever admit this – she still hated the nobility and their spiteful nasty ways!

Suddenly, she felt someone embrace Saidar outside her modest chambers, and gasped as her door was flung open on a weave of Air.  As she dropped the One Power in her shock, a vaguely familiar Dreadlady entered the room, “Rendra Harella,” she intoned, “You are to follow me, ask no questions, and above all – do not embrace Saidar.  You are to be tested for Adept status this day.”

Rendra gulped and nodded, biting back questions and retorts – to argue with your betters here was a sure path to the grave.

Eventually, they reached a great pair of doors elsewhere in the Fortress.  “To be tested, you must enter here, and simply make it through to the other side.”  The older woman’s eyes glittered malevolently, “Of course, you could die, as so many have before you.  If you do make it through, you shall be raised to an Adept in the Great Lord’s service.”  Her tone left no doubt that she expected Rendra to die.

What could she do, then?  She could only go on.

Open the doors and face your destiny…

The heavy door slammed shut behind Rendra, plunging the Taraboner woman into darkness.  Drawing on Saidar, she formed a small glove of light… only to be confronted with three different passageways standing open in front of her.  ”Blood and bloody ashes!” she thought to herself, peering at each path in turn, ”A maze perhaps?  It can’t be worse than the alleys in Tanchico… I hope.” Taking a deep breath, she started down the path on the right.

Some time later, she was yet again backtracking.  At least, she was pretty sure she was.  Rendra normally had a pretty good sense of direction, but this place was impossible!  In frustration, she scooped up a rock and flung it at the wall.  The sound echoed through the corridor as Rendra peered at the wall where the rock hit.  There she noted a small mark from where the rock had struck.  A thought entered her mind.. could she mark her way?

Drawing deeper on the One Power, she experimented.  After a few minutes, Rendra found that a small fireball would leave just enough of a scorch mark on the wall to be a useful marker.

She turned to try another passage when she heard a furtive shuffling sound.  Stifling a gasp, Rendra dropped her wave of light, put her hand against the wall, and listened carefully.  Again, she could hear someone. ”Probably in an adjacent corridor,” she thought nervously to herself, and proceeded to carefully sidle her way along the wall.

Suddenly, the wall exploded where she had been standing.  Unable to suppress a scream, she started running.  She could see by the light of… whomever… was behind her, but she fully intended to get herself lost. ”Who was that?!” Rendra thought incredulously as she tried to run quietly without success, ”It HAD to be a man; I felt nothing!”

After some indeterminable amount of time, she finally slowed and stopped.  Gulping air, Rendra slid down the wall to sit and gather her racing thoughts, ”Great, it’s a maze, and there’s someone channeling at me.  What’s next, collapsing floors and sharp objects?!” Sighing softly, she picked herself up and continued walking.  As she slid her hand along the wall, she came to a patch that was soft… warm.. and pulsating?!

Light suddenly flared into being, illuminating a smirking man.  Screaming yet again, she managed to shove down fear and unreason long enough to slam up a wall of Air before fleeing again.

… … …

Of course, there has been plenty of fireballs, other close encounters, various pitfalls and pratfalls unmentioned until this point… but your mind can fill in those as you wish!  But for now, let’s see some self-fulfilling prophecy.

… … …

Gulping air, Rendra’s steps dragged; the fingers of one hand traced along the wall, the other supported the smallest ball of light she could muster. ”No more,” she thought as despair snuggled deeper into her heart, “Will this never end?!”

Suddenly, her footing slipped as the paving stone she was half off of crumbled to dust, and opened onto a pit full of spikes.  Rendra managed to grab the edge of another stone to keep from falling in.  Tears welled in her eyes as she tried to lift herself up.  She managed; the sound of her skirts ripping off echoed lightly through the passageway as she worked herself free.

Several turns later, Rendra was finally approaching a door similar to the one she had entered through.  She stared stupidly for a moment before pushing herself to take those final few steps.

Open the doors and face your destiny…

The light was almost blinding as she stumbled out of the horrid maze and back into civilization.  Rendra reached her hands out to try and catch herself as she began to fall, and was stopped from it by a wall of flesh.  Rubbing her eyes, she looked up to see who had stopped her fall, only for yet another scream to cord in her throat – it was the same bloody man from the maze.

He stepped back with yet another blasted smirk on his face, “Now there, kitten, you’ve made it through and are now an Adept… nice legs, by the way.”

Biting back a yelp, she glared at the smirking stranger, gathered what shreds of skirt and dignity she had remaining in her hands, and attempted to glide off gracefully.

Intro to Saidar

Rendra glowered. And pouted. And glowered a bit more.

She’d been doing a fair amount of glowering and glaring since she found out that she could channel. ”I never asked for this,” Rendra pouted silently, glaring at the girls talking to each other around her, ”I don’t want to be a witch, I just wanted to learn to kill…”

Her train of thought died off as she noticed everyone moving towards a woman leaning against a nearby tree. Rendra slowly followed along, dragging her feet every step of the short trek. The woman introduced herself as Liadin, and proceeded to babble about stations and service – boring stuff that didn’t really mean anything to a hawker’s daughter… though this Liadin woman did have a fearsome glare she turned on all her students to drive her blah blah words home.

Before her thoughts could drift back to useless pouting, Liadin gestured to them to sit down, “Since we already know that you can channel, we can skip that part of the training and move right onto the actual work.” The older woman joined them on the ground and continued, “I want you to close your eyes. Now, leaving your eyes closed, I want you to picture a rosebud in your mind. Nothing else, just the rosebud. Imagine every detail, everything about it, picture it as if you were looking at it right here, right now.” Closing her eyes, Rendra snorted softly to herself, “I’m no bloody rose… except maybe to… no, can’t think about Aldric, I can’t!”

And yet somehow, her thoughts drifting to the dread Aldric relit a small fire in her heart, “If I have to learn to be a with for now, I will… for him… I don’t have to like it though.”

Picture the rosebud…

She let her mind remember a rose that Aldric and her brother had stolen and given her a year or two back – it was red, tightly curled, and very fragrant.

”Imagine every detail, everything about it, picture it as if you were looking at it right here, right now. “

In her mind, she could always remember her treasure in that rosebud. She had put it on the window ledge in a glass of water, and looked at it every day, studying the texture of the petals, the veins in the leaves…

”Imagine sunlight shining upon the rose, warming it, giving life, inviting it to open up.”

Rendra could remember how nice it was to spend the few spare moments she had while at home curled up in the warm rays of the sunlight, watching her flower. She herself could envision it, out here in the great outdoors with the sunshine on her shoulder. But all too soon, it had withered and died.. like all good things. Her mind flashed to when she had found the first fallen petal, and the sense of warmth she had felt creeping up on her dropped away with the mental image.

”Allow the rosebud to open at its own pace. Do not try to rush it, just let it happen. Don’t worry if you do not succeed the first time, the second time, the fifth time, or even the tenth time. This will become easier with time.

She sighed, and started again. And again. And again until she was able to feel a dribble of the Power suffuse her being. In her shock, she immediately lost control, but it was a start.


It had been a tiring week, and Rendra had a feeling that exhaustion would be the watchword for some time.

She still felt unclean at learning that she was to be a bloody witch, and this warred with her delight in the Power – everything seemed sharper, clearer… more alive, even! She was starting to understand the attraction of this channeling, but still…

It was yet another day in their training, and they once again were seated before Liadin in the shade of the same tree. In spite of herself, Rendra listened attentively to the older woman’s lecture about the Power. “The witches I’ve heard tales of made it all seem easier than this!” she thought emphatically.

Almost abruptly-seeming, Liadin channeled. She demonstrated the Five Powers individually, to which Rendra and her classmates joined in with on the second demonstration. The young Taraboner had a fairly easy time with Spirit, Air, and Water; these elements came very easily to her. She found channeling Earth and Fire… not necessarily difficult, but not exactly easy either. Both elements did come when she channeled them, but very weakly in comparision to the other three. Rendra understood why – men had an easier time with Earth and Fire than women did, but that fact still annoyed her slightly.

Liadin game them time to practice feeling each element out before suddenly channeling two elements entwined, and then rapidly channeling two more elements entwined. “This is what I want you to use as practice until next week, make spirals, make them in different combinations, and as you go stronger practice making more at once. Getting comfortable with drawing on the different elements, as well this would learn you which elements you find yourself stronger and weaker in.”

Rendra nodded, and let herself wander off a bit from the main group. She found it easier to practice without the other girls distracting her, though her own thoughts did a fair enough job of that. As she opened herself up to Saidar, she let her thoughts drift, “Perhaps when they’re done forcing me to learn how to use the Power, they’ll let me train as an assassin like I wanted to. I’m sure they will!” Her grip on Saidar slipped, and she grumbled an oath. Opening herself up again, she found that Air and Spirit came easiest, so she twisted threads of those elements twine around each other. Satisfied with that initial effort, she tried another combination, and another… and another.

As the week progressed, she found that her initial opinion on things held – Spirit was easiest, and Air and Water almost as simple. Fire and Earth were still harder, but they came all the same – just not as strongly. By the end of the week, she found that her strongest combinations were ones that contained Spirit, Air and Water, though she could muster Fire and Earth to a very mild degree with any of them. It was easier to do two or three strands at a time, but she had a feeling that it would be easier to do more complex weavings with more practice.

And by the end of that week, Rendra felt almost at peace with having to learn what she was learning.


Rendra continued to keep herself apart from her classmates over the course of the week. She wasn’t feeling terribly socialable, and preferred to work on tapping Saidar. The young woman still had her reservations with learning this witchcraft, but it was too fascinating for her to stop.

And so it was a slightly cheerful Taraboner that demonstrated her ‘skill’ with the Power when she reported in to Liandin for her final lesson. Her spirals seemed to be getting easier to make, and a touch stronger, but she wasn’t really too sure about it either. “For all I bloody know, I could be hallucinating this whole bloody thing! But let’s hope not…” Rendra thought to herself as she sat down under the tree to watch the next phase of instruction.

“Very well, let’s continue by learning to do something constructive; a simple weave of each element,” Liandin spoke, and pulled out a candle. She demonstrated lighting it with Fire and putting it out with Air, and then moved on to show how to make a mudpile, and a weave she called a Keeping, and then instructed everyone to try their hand at the weaves.

Rendra opened herself to the Power; it was quicker than when she started learning to channel a few weeks before, but not as quick as what their instructor could do. Weaving fire, she poked the flow at the candle. Nada. Frowning, she tried to envision the little sphere that Liadin had channeled around the wick. As her mind shaped it, a little sphere of Fire formed around the wick, and took to light. With a smile, Rendra shaped a weave of Air like she had of Fire around the wick, and watched the tell-tale trickle of smoke signify that her efforts were succesful.

Next, she tried her luck at making a mudpile. “This should be easier, since it’s sort of like doing the elemental blades!” Rendra thought to herself as she weaved a little bit of Earth and Water at the ground. Sure enough, a patch of mud started glistening at her. “Neat! she thought to herself before wrinkling her nose a tiny, “Gross, but neat… why would I need to know how to make mud with the Power? Odd…”

The final task was weaving a Keeping. Taking a flower from the pile, Rendra smiled and thought about the rose analogy that had helped her find her way to Saidar in the first place. The young Taraboner wasn’t too sure about this weave, and watched some of the other girls try their hands at it first. It seemed that everyone was having trouble trying to weave all the elements at once, but after a couple of tries they were getting it. Sighing softly, Rendra reached out for Saidar again and focused on the flower.

It took a couple of tries, which goes without saying. Rendra found herself having difficulty getting five flows to go at the same time, especially considering that the flow of Spirit was bigger than the other ones. Still, she was pretty sure she had managed it after a few tries, and Liadin confirmed her success.

After they all did their weaves, Liadin brought them back around her and gave a final speech before dismissing everyone, “All these things are useful at moments that you in time won’t come to think of using them less for if you lost the ability find how much you come to rely on them, which is another lesson to not forget how to rely on yourself without saidar. So please keep your flowers as a reminder. Class dismissed.”

Rendra smiled slightly as she rose from the ground, twirling the flower between her fingers. As she walked away, she thought to herself, “Perhaps I won’t let myself fully rely on Saidar; that would make me a witch, after all, but I think I can see where it might be of use, finally…”