Hey Now, Wait a Minute…

Several weeks had passed since her Aes Sedai’s return, and Mariasha had been enjoying having her Sister back at her side.  And yet, still, there had been an edge of unease that still persisted.  She couldn’t understand it, but then, the edge of shock from the sudden return hadn’t worn off quite yet…

Uneasy as she was about things, she tried asking other Warders around the Yard for advice.  She knew this was akin to talking about a spouse to a friend in a manner that most wouldn’t, but she was so lost.  Some small part of her remaining innocence wanted to believe that they could pretend that all was well, and that she’d not been run out on.  But as she talked to more of her brethren in the Yards, the more her mind wanted to question this action Taeadra had taken.

Mari had asked no questions of Taeadra, not yet; part of her was desperately trying to pretend all was like old times.  In some ways, it was truly as if Taeadra had never left.  They had fallen into their normal daily routine almost seamlessly… and coupled with the fact that Mari herself had been pretty much drunk the entire time Tae was gone made it easier to pretend that no time had passed.

But as time had rolled by, the constant knot of Taeadra’s feelings in Mari’s head started to infect her as well.  The other woman was full of wariness and anger, and it was all that the Warder could do to cheerfully ignore a headful of such.  She redoubled her efforts in the Yard, and fell asleep easily in a satisfied exhaustion.  Still, as time was passing, there seemed to be a switch between the two.  For whatever reason, some degree of contentedness was growing in Taeadra’s head, while the suspicion and anger started growing in Mariasha’s.  Why had the other woman left her for so long?  Had she done something wrong?  Was it the Creator’s way of punishing her for… “No, no, mustn’t think about that, no..”

Finally, the Warder could take it no more.

It came to a head over the course of a normal meal.  The pair was dining in Taeadra’s chambers, as they often did, and making polite conversation about the day’s events.  Perhaps it was how hard she was pushing herself.  Perhaps it was the denials she kept making in her head, but something snapped.  Or perhaps it was Taeadra’s grumblings about the penance her Ajah had handed down for her absence…

“My fellow Whites are… cross.. with me for going away for as long as I did,” Taeadra commented, reaching for another slice of bread, “I guess that it’s universally felt that even though I had important business, the Ajah’s own business at that, that I should be punished for it.”  The White Sister reached for the butter and hummed softly to herself as she applied it lavishly to the bread.

“Perhaps they thought you were dead, Tae,” Mariasha spoke quietly, “Perhaps they were worried, as I was, that something horrible had happened.”  Her voice began to raise; a hint of anger began to creep in, “Maybe some of them were drinking themselves to death from worry, trying to deny that anything could’ve happened.  After all, if someone cares, they’ll let everyone know they’re doing alright, wouldn’t they?!”

At this point, Mari was quivering with rage and had stood unbeknownst to herself.  As she glared down at her Sister, her fists clenched unconsciously.  The sitting woman’s mouth had formed a small ‘o’ in surprise at the sudden verbal assault, and taking a deep breath, Mari made herself sit back down.  Fishing a whetstone from her belt pouch, she whipped out one of her daggers and began sharpening it nonchalantly.  “Perhaps, Taeadra, it’s time to tell me what was so important that you had to leave me here thinking you were dead for so long.  I think it’s time for you to tell all.”


04 January (2:36am GMT)

Quirking an eyebrow, Mari raised her eyes from the whetstone in her hands.  “So then, you mean to tell me that wandering off on an extended adventure was more important than those that care about you?  More important than your duties in the Tower to your Sisters?!”  She snorted, slamming the whetstone down on the table. “I know that you always try to put the best face on things, Taeadra, but word has it around the Yards that your Sisters of the White are out to punish you severely for your ‘important business’.  I’m guessing that if it was so important, they’d not be that ticked about it, would they?”

Standing up, Mari began to pace along her side of the table; she occasionally shot a dark glance at the woman she had considered her closest friend.  That burned – had, not was.  Or was she?  It was all so hard to think about. Had her parents…


Choking back a growl, she stopped dead in her tracks, “No, it’s nothing like that, nothing like that at all,” the Warder muttered to herself.  Her right hand drifted down to her dagger and gripped it unconsciously, “I wasn’t sworn to protect them, they didn’t think I could… DON’T THINK ABOUT IT!”

Coming back to the here and now with a start, she jumped once she realized she’d been shouting.  Shaking with an unidentifiable emotion, she spoke slowly to the air, “I… I.. am… I’m going.. to.. yeah… I’m going to go now.”

Doing her best to pretend Taeadra wasn’t there, she gathered up her things and departed as quickly as dignity would permit her.  This was all too much for Mariasha, and the young Warder was unaware that she had started running once clear of the White quarters.  She didn’t know where she was going, but knew she had to get away.  “You can’t run from your thoughts though,” her mind whispered at her, spurring her to try even harder to escape from it all.

The sun hung low in the sky as she exited the Tower at a dead run.  She was blind to the curious glances from the people she passed, and as she made her way past the Warders Yard and down the eastern road, her mind made itself up about her destination.  Content in this, she allowed focusing on not running anyone down take over her mind as she continued her mad dash towards the river.


Mariasha’s steps slowed as she neared the bank, and she began to pace quickly alongside the river to cool herself down from her short run.  It was no secret that she found the riverside calming, not that she expected anyone to follow her out here, not really.  Still, the run had been pleasantly exhausting, and as she slumped down to sit on the grass lining the riverbank, she let the flow of the water soothe and distract her mind from the turmoil she did not want to deal with.

23 February 2009 (2:27am GMT)

As the sun glinted off of the river as it set off into the distance, Mariasha pushed herself off the grass and sighed. Her thoughts had run themselves in circles to no avail, and the serenity that the river usually brought her couldn’t even begin to make a dent on her internal turmoil.

She slowly made her way back to the Barracks, flipping a dagger absent-mindedly as she went. The Andoran woman had found that it did a good job of changing peoples’ minds about bothering a woman alone… not that she really wanted to be alone, not with these thoughts. But still, whom could she talk to? Taeadra would have been the person she talked to everything about, but where did things stand now? Sighing, she entered the Barracks and made her way to her room.

Mariasha’s sleep was troubled. That is to say, the few times she managed to nod off, she found herself immediately jerking back awake from stray and painful thoughts. Her Aes Sedai, her parents… All of this mixed ‘round in her mind, making an impolite mess.

So when she ‘woke’ up the next morning, she found herself nodding and red-eyed. She wasn’t sure how many times she had randomly started crying, but she prayed to the Creator as she dressed for her efforts in the Yard that she wouldn’t start again. Of course, her resolve only lasted until she got outside and ran into Thera…

01 March 2009 (8:55pm GMT)
“A-ale?” Mariasha stammered, “N-n-no, no ale.  I had been trying t-to stop drinking and t-trying to get my head back together… for…”

She burst into fresh tears before he could stop herself.  Fishing her handkerchief from her pocket, she mopped herself up with a sigh.  “I’m a wreck, Thera,” Mari started, taking a moment to tuck her hankie up her sleeve, “Just a total wreck.  Light, I’m not really sure if I’m in good enough shape to be out and about right now; I’ve just…”  She shook her head slightly, “There’s a lot on my mind.”

Mari smiled weakly at her old friend.  As it were, she wasn’t sure she could unjumble all the pain and hurt in her head… but she knew she had to try.  She had seen what ignoring emotions could do to people, and she didn’t want that.  Oh sure, it had to be done in the heat of battle, but one couldn’t live in the Void and stay human.

04 March 2009 (1:24am GMT)

Flopping into the cushy chair, Mariasha gratefully accepted the glass of water. “Thank you,” she murmured, drinking deeply before lowering the mug to clasp with both hands.

“Do you want to tell me what’s wrong, Mari?  What caused your… tears?” Thera inquired politely.  The Andoran woman couldn’t help but laugh a bit, even if it meant that Thera was looking at her if she’d gone mad.

“Well, you remember how a few weeks ago my Aes Sedai showed up out of the blue?  Light, like anyone can forget that, what with me screaming about ghosts and falling off of walls and things.”  She took another sip of water, and continued, “Anyways, the shock of it was just all too much for me, and I tried to convince myself that everything would be like normal again now that she was back, and that I could overlook her absence.  Her considerable absence…”

Mari trailed off, staring at her hands as they cupped the mug for a long moment.  “We were having dinner last night, and I just kind of snapped,” she spoke in a low voice, almost as if talking to herself, “I just completely blew up on her and demanded an explanation.  To make matters worse, Taeadra came up with the most cockamamie story I think I’ve ever heard in my life.  Claiming she was off on important business, but if it was so important, why didn’t she take me with her to protect her, Thera?  Why didn’t she?”

Her eyes shone with tears waiting to be shed again as her hands trembled on the mug in her lap.

09 March 2009 (11:32pm GMT)

Mari pushed a few stray strands of hair out of her face as she sighed in response to Thera’s question.  “I don’t know if some of them bother to form any bonds with anyone at all.  Taeadra is reputed to be in fairly hot water with her Ajah over her little… adventure, and I’m sure that me having a nervous breakdown probably isn’t doing her a world of good either.  I mean… it’s in our very souls to care for our Sisters – the bond makes sure of that.”

Turning her attention to that part of her mind that was Taeadra, she could tell that the White Sister was still sleeping.  It was much like her not being there – no sense of emotions came through the bond, yet Mariasha could tell that she was there.  She tapped her cheek in thought before casting her eyes back to her fellow Warder, “I… I don’t know Thera, I just sort of snapped.  You’ll probably laugh at this, but I just had a moment where I realized I felt what my parents probably felt when I just up and vanished.”  She herself chuckled mirthlessly at this before continuing on, “But unlike my ‘fortune’ at getting Taeadra back, I… I’ve never bothered to contact my parents in the years since I’ve left Caemlyn.  I… I don’t know if they’re alive or dead, and they… they don’t know and…”

Another sob ripped out of her before she could stop herself, and she growled at herself slightly, “Light Thera, I’m so bloody tired… it’s just been running around and around in my head all night, and I don’t even know how to sort it out yet.  Even a promise made in one’s cups is a promise that should be kept, and when we decided to bond those years ago, I was thrilled to have someone to take care of, to hopefully trust in.  I just… I just don’t know how to lay the line.  I think I need to, though – how can I do my job if she wanders off?  It would be just like an Aes Sedai to betray their Warder by wandering off to die, right?”

She helped herself to another gulp of water, and put the freshly emptied cup to the side, “Anyways Thera… any thoughts?  I just… I just want things to get back to normal, the way it should be.”

31 March 2009 (12:04am BST)

Pushing herself out of her chair, Mari impulsively hugged Thera.  Squeezing gently, she managed to stumble back from where the other woman was seated without falling over as she rose from her half-crouch.  “Thanks Thera, you’ve given me a lot of food for thought, even if it’s perhaps not the taste I want in my mouth.”  She chuckled softly, shaking her head, “Taeadra is a very headstrong woman, and I guess I’m just going to have to learn how to be more stubborn than she is… perhaps I can find a mule to teach me.”

Sighing, she headed for the door, “Thanks again,” Mariasha started, opening the door, “I’m going to… go… something.”  She stepped through and shut the door behind her, and started out across the Yards.

She’d not gotten more than a hundred paces towards the Tower when her steps slowed, and then stopped.  The young Warder’s thoughts were much like honey – torpid and squishy.  Still, it suddenly dawned on her that she probably looked a right fright.  “I should go clean myself up before going to talk to Taeadra,” she told herself firmly, turning back towards the barracks, “She won’t take me seriously if I look a mess, and I have to come from a position of strength, not of weakness.  Plus, if I make her wait longer, it might make her easier to work with… yes…”

Upon arriving in her chamber, she closed the door behind herself and sat down on the bed.  She had only gotten as far as removing a single boot, and tugging at the next, before she found herself flat-out asleep on the bed.

After having a much-needed rest, Mariasha’s body still felt leaden, and her mind quite asleep.  Stifling a yawn, she levered herself up.  She eyed her still-booted foot ruefully, and proceeded to finish the job she had started before passing out on herself.  A bath would do her mind wonders.

The sun hung low in the sky before her as the Andoran made her way back towards the White Tower proper.  She was as pristine as she could be – her hair was brushed and pulled back, her boots were shined, and her clothing was spotless between.  She was still unsure in her heart if this would be good for her friendship with her Sister… but protecting the woman she was bound to was the most important thing.

(retro)The Life of Women in the Yards

A cheery fire danced on the hearth at Salty Eye Lodge, where Mariasha had settled in for the afternoon to enjoy a bit of lunch. The Lodge, in spite of its rough-sounding name, was a well-appointed inn that catered to ship’s officers, and was located near enough the waterfront for those staying upstairs to have a nice view of the river and the harbor without being close enough to smell it.

“And they do serve a mighty tasty fish stew!”, the young Warder thought to herself as she called a girl over to order another bowl. She didn’t eat out that often, maybe once a week as a treat, but there were days when she felt the need for something that wasn’t barracks food.

Today, of course, had been one of those days. A few hours spent falling off of logs for balance training in icy wind had convinced her pretty quickly that a warm inn and a warm meal would be a welcome change of pace from the daily grind. “Of course,” she thought to herself in wry bemusement, “That doesn’t change the fact I’ve got other things to do today in that vein!”

Shaking her head, she waited patiently for her second bowl of stew, and turned her gaze to the flames twirling around the thick logs in the hearth. Which, of course, was interrupted by a human whirlwind named Thera coming in the door. Mariasha stood up and called out, “Thera! Come join me… erm.. what’s wrong?”

Mariasha Valnar
Bemused and Sore Warder


14 April (cont’d)

Mari blinked at Thera’s tirade and let out a soft whistle. The other woman was grumbling into the table now; her whole body spoke of wanting to stab something. Raising her hand, she waved over one of the serving girls, “A round of stout ale, if you would?” The girl murmured an acknowledgment and departed, and Thera raised her head a few inches off of the table.

“I figured you could use a stiff drink,” Mariasha smiled apologetically, “But… y’know… might relax you a bit and keep you from stabbing someone.” The other woman grumbled something incoherent, but sat up the rest of the way.

Eying her near-empty bowl, Mari pushed it aside and leaned closer to Thera. “Condescending men, you say?” she smiled softly, and dropped her eyes to the table. Mari considered for a minute, and spoke again, “Have I ever told you why I came to be a Warder?” Thera eyed her quizzically. “It’s not the normal reason, I assure you.” Thera grunted non-commitally before speaking, “Umm… why then?”

Mariasha leaned back in her chair and stared at the ceiling, “My father was trying to marry me off in spite of what I wanted for myself in life, so I ran away from home and ended up here… how’s that for condescending?” She laughed, dropping her eyes back to Thera and letting a wry smile play across her lips, “But that’s in the past, and I’m my own woman now,” she sneezed suddenly and grumbled, “Even if I’m probably coming down with a cold from falling into the blood river.”

At that moment, the serving girl returned with the beer. Mari fumbled a few coppers onto the table and grabbed one of the mugs. Taking a healthy swig, Mariasha grinned again, “Besides, our problems aren’t so bad that a pint or two can’t sort them out!”


May 4th (cont’d)

Mariasha smiled as Thera pulled out her dice cup, “Nothing like a drink and a bit of a gamble to pass the time,” she thought to herself as she pulled out a couple of coppers and placed them on the table. Stacking them neatly, she nodded to Thera, who replied, “I always liked a girl who could gamble.”

”Is she flirting with me?!” Mari thought with some incredulity as the other woman tossed a copper onto the tabled and passed over the dice cup. Matching the bet, Mari eyed the cup and picked it up. As she began to shake it, Thera spoke again, “So, tell me Mari, now that you’ve escaped your condescending man, how do you like life at the White Tower?”

Tossing the dice onto the table, Mari groaned to herself, ”A three and a two; this isn’t off to the best start.. especially if she’s going to be flirting with me too!” She handed the cup back across to Thera and replied to the other woman’s question, “I quite like it here at the Tower. Things aren’t nearly as hard as I had envisioned, but not a cakewalk either… lots of training, but we all know that!”

She paused to push another copper onto the center of the table as Thera rolled again – a six and a four. ”Blood and bloody ashes, someone’s luck is in today, and it’s not mine!” Mari thought to herself as she scooped the dice into the cup and rattled it. “As for my father… I guess you could say that it felt like a betrayal of sorts.”

Another poor roll – a one and a three. Mari pushed forward yet another copper, and handed the cup back to Thera. Taking a healthy chug from her ale, she continued, “I was an only child, you see, so I had childishly hoped to take over the smithy from my father. He let me help him out, you know – sweeping up, pumping the bellows, and so on. Sometimes he’d let me make little things, that is, if my mother was away visiting her sisters or something!”

Mari made yet another poor roll of the dice and commented, ”I swear Thera, you’ve got all the luck tonight! But you know what they say about luck in gambling and luck in love, right?” The Andoran woman winked, and drained her ale. She gestured across the inn for more, and continued, “Anyways, I don’t even know whose ‘brilliant’ idea trying to marry me off was, and I obviously didn’t stick around to find out – marriage just isn’t for me!”

Her next mug of ale arrived, and Mariasha eyed it thoughtfully, “How many of these have I had now?”


14 July 2008

“What do you say Mari, care to raise a few eyebrows?” Thera stood up and held out her hand.

Mari blinked hazily into her cups, “Blood and bloody ashes, she really is flirting with me… what under the Light…” Biting her lip, she looked up at the other woman, “While the company has been more than fine, and I do like a bit of a dance, I have to say that my interests lie elsewhere.”

She stood up, pushing herself upright against the table, “I’m… sorry.. if you thought otherwise.” Mari watched as Thera’s hand drifted down to her side again, and clapped her hands across her mouth as a hiccup attempted to escape.


28 July 2008

Mari blinked fuzzily at Thera, “Woman keeps moving around too much,” she muttered under her breath, “Let’s find the bottom of the mug instead!”  Happy with her choices, she proceeded to throw back the rest of her drink.

When she put the mug down, there was suddenly another person at the table.  Leaning over carefully, Mari blinked, “Wh.. where’d you come from… C-cy?”  She hiccuped and giggled, “Anyways, now that you’re here, mind buying another round?  My drink seems to have vanished again.”

“Have a seat, we were just discussion our days of training, Unless of course you are feeling up to a dance?” Thera winked and smiled still feeling a bit fuzzy from the ale.   Mari giggled a bit; what had Thera said about dancing earlier?  No, no, it wasn’t important..

“Trainee again, you said?”  Mari asked while innocently trying to filch Thera’s  full-seeming drink.  Thera whapped her hand, and the Andoran woman giggled again, “To be a trainee again… no, nope.. didn’t make as much as a trainee!”  She grinned and lobbed a sloppy wink across the table as the barwench brought over another round, and Mari let herself sample a bit – just to make sure it tasted good.  Satisfied, she unsteadily raised her head back up and grinned, “Though making more now, it doesn’t seem to last as long!”  Another hiccup, and she leaned back in her chair… and fell over.

Snorting a laugh, she unsteadily set the chair back up, glared at the seat, and lowered herself back into it with all the dignity a drunk can have.

New Shield for the Flame

Standing outside the Tower Gates, Mariasha stared off into the streets – it was always nice to watch people from all lands mingling. North or West, East or South, all came to Tar Valon on business, and it made for a nice distraction… one doesn’t expect to lose their Sister, but though it had been some time since Taeadra Sedai had vanished from the Tower and from her mind, she still found herself awash with sadness and an urge for revenge.. but on what? No, not worth thinking about, not on such a nice morning with such a nice meal…

She sighed to herself and adjusted one of the daggers poking herself in the side, when an Accepted and a young man came dashing up to the gate. “Light!”, she thought to herself in wry amusement, “That girl looks like she’s been rolling in the mud… I wonder if she even has permission to be out, as oddly as she is acting… though that could be for the boy with her.” Mari watched them talk for a moment, but before she could consider stepping out of her corner on the side of the gates, the Accepted had already dashed through, leaving a confused young man staring out after her.

Shrugging to herself, Mariasha walked up behind the young man, a bemused smile on her face. “I’m guessing you’re either very new to this town, or either very foolish – it’s not a good idea to be seen talking to women who are training in the White Tower. If that sort of thing gets back to the Mistress of Novices, she’s as likely to track you down for a few licks as she is to give them to that girlchild as well.”

The young man jumped in surprise, so intent he was in staring through the gate at the other woman’s fleeing figure. “Sorry to scare you,” she chuckled, “I just don’t like seeing people make fools of themselves… what brings you out this way?”


Mariasha’s smile turned into a wide grin as the flustered young man before her spoke, “My name is Toromin Doanshar. I’ve studied the Aes Sedai and learned about their place in the world. I believe we would be much worse off without them, but I know there are people… and non-people… trying to hurt them.” Where was I going with this again? Now I can’t remember the rest… well, nothing for it, then. “I’ve come to Tar Valon to become a Warder, to protect the Aes Sedai from their enemies, and the enemies of the Light.”.

She stretched her arms over her head for a moment before crossing them against her chest, “So then, new to town, and just a random encounter on the way here, it was.” She tapped her lip and eyed the young man mock-sternly, “I’ll say my initial word of warning should be sufficient for now – careful when it comes to the girls in training in the Tower… but I won’t report that little kiss I saw to either the Mistress of Novices or the Mistress of Trainees.” The relief on his face was palpable, though his eyes widened a fraction at mention of a yet another person who might have a switch with his name on it for a simple kiss!

Mariasha continued, “Now, if you want, I can take you to Thera, the Mistress of Trainees, and she can get you set up for the evening… though I’d recommend getting the blushing in line.” She flashed a wicked smile, “I’m sure the girl was pretty, but Thera is pretty good at sniffing out reasons to take a switch to those in her care! She is a firm believer in rules, and keeping people in line.” She winked, and bit down a giggle. “Really,” Mariasha thought to herself, “I’m getting a bit too old to giggle at every little thing!!”


“Thank you, ma’am.” He cut short the realization that she hadn’t given her name yet. Perhaps that’s the way things were here. “It would be my honor to see the Mistress of Trainees.”, young Toromin said, looking quite formal.

Mariasha suppressed another grin – had she ever been this formal with the Tower Gaurds and Warders when she was in training? “T’would by my honor, young Toromin, to lead you to Thera.” She gave a half-bow and gestured for him to follow.

“I probably should introduce myself,” she started, maneuvering around a handful of petitioners heading away from the Tower, “My name is Mariasha, Mariasha Gaidin to you if anyone is looking.” She nodded to another passing Warder before continuing, “and you might have noticed, if you weren’t staring too hard at your friend the Accepted that I too am a woman.” She smiled to take any possible sting out of the teasing, “Although there are more men than women training here, there are quite a few of us female sorts who chose this path for our lives. My teacher was a woman, and probably one of the toughest Warders there ever was around these parts. Not to say that she was especially strong, but she knew what she was about.” Her right hand slid momentarily to caress the scabbard hanging on that side, unaware of the sadness that clouded her face.

All too soon they were in front of Thera’s door. Mariasha knocked and turned to Toro while waiting for Thera to answer, “If you have any questions or need someone to vent at – training is hard, and sometimes we all need someone to talk to, feel free to come pester me, okay? And don’t worry – everything should be fine.” She winked, and the door opened. Mariasha saluted Thera, fist to heart, and gestured towards Toromin, “Hey Thera, you’ve got some fresh meat. Gentle on him, I think he’s had an odd day.”