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Dreams of Waves and Sand...
Sun Oct 22, 2006 15:28 (XFF:

Madeline al’Roise sat at her desk, hands steepled studiously before her, pale blue eyes fixed pleasantly on the pair of Aes Sedai seated before her. She gave all appearances of attentiveness, but her mind was a thousand leagues away. She drifted on dreams of a mountainous island, of a sparkling cove of blue water and white sand, of days spent whiled away with Zearon and no one else without a spark of responsibility or a shred of paperwork…

A fraction of her thoughts were trained on the pair of women, of course, taking in their words and pulling out the proper responses at regular intervals. It was all too easy to do, though she knew she really ought not allow dreams of her coming vacation to intrude on her work.

Vacation… The word tasted like honey on her lips whenever she spoke of it. Her body seemed to lighten at the thought, as if she were already floating on warm salt water waves supported only by saidin….Away from the Tower, away from routine and habit and the usual pattern of her days…

It was a sad state of affairs that a vacation should seem like such an astonishing and beautiful prospect. How long had it been since she’d taken a break from her work to get away? Years, certainly. Years. That was just ridiculous. Zearon had always chastised her for being a workhorse, for her ‘stubborn Green Ajah pride’ never allowing anyone else to take over for longer than a few days. Since Mesaana’s attack years ago, she’d only grown worse. Madeline was getting old, and retirement loomed, and she needed to make the most of this time, she’d argued. She couldn’t afford to go loll about when the Last Battle was coming.

But Light, she was getting tired. With Sloane gone, she was doing this alone, and it was taking it’s toll on her. The novices whispered that she was getting snappish, and the Accepted kept their distance more than they needed to.

Sloane had left for the Waste weeks ago. He’d said he would be back, but he didn’t know when, only that his absence would be long enough that it was only fair to give up his position. He would be replaced, of course, but it took time to seek someone who was ripe and right for the job. Light, how many Assistants had she gone through, anyway? She’d had hope for Sloane to last longer than he did, but the Pattern had willed otherwise. For whatever reason, she could not retain an Assistant long enough to train them to take over for her when she retired, whenever that might be. What did that say about her? Was the job so difficult? So tedious? Was she insane to love her work, and to do it as long as she had? Madeline’s work was her life—in that sense, she may as well be Blue. But they were also her battle, for she was Green through and through. She had trained half the men and women in this Tower, and when the Last Battle came, her little army would be victorious.

Her thoughts rolled around and rambled until they returned quite naturally to the topic of vacation. It was Zearon’s idea, of course, and he had whittled away at her until he finally got his way. It was Demetri who had ‘saved the day’, as he put it, volunteering to take over Madeline’s duties while they were gone. A full three weeks of bliss, and when she returned, she would be refreshed and ready to appoint her newest Assistant.

A younger sister, I think. One who won’t so easily be called away by outside forces…Maybe a Blue, to pacify them since they didn’t get their Blue for Keeper…

She shook her head, then blinked. It was only then that she realized she had quite entirely tuned out her two visitors.

“Madeline? Are you listening, dear?” Siedra’s brows were lifted in an arc of concern, while Neilize’s lips were pursed in irritation.

“Of course I am,” Maddy replied, rubbing at her temples. “I just am getting a headache, that’s all.”

“Oh.” Siedra looked put out. “If this is tiring you…” She turned to her fellow White. “Does she look tired to you?”

“Everyone needs rest,” Neilize pointed out.

Madeline’s eyes flared for a moment. She grew weary of sisters hinting at her ‘fragility’, her quickness to tire. She may be one of the eldest in the Tower, but that didn’t make her a doddering old biddy. She knew the other Ajahs muttered about letting someone else take a turn with the novices, that the Greens had too much influence with Madeline overseeing things so long. That was, in part, what this little visit was all about. Siedra and Neilize were both Whites, and their supposed reason for meeting with Madeline was to ‘brainstorm options for increasing interest in the White Ajah.’ As if Madeline would willingly sway Accepted towards Ajahs that weren’t a natural choice for them. She certainly didn’t push Accepted towards the Green Ajah, or away from the White Ajah, but in a sense, that was what these two were hinting at.

She waved a hand, but before she could speak, there came a quick rapping at her door, followed by novice Praja.

“Madeline Sedai,” the girl piped. Praja was new to her duties minding the Mistress’s offices, and she sat her seat in the antechamber with pride. “There is a girl here to see you. Says she wants to be a novice? Says her name is Khaji Nagora?”

Madeline rose to her feet, smoothing her hands over the deep green wool of her dress.

“Thank you sisters,” she said. “We will continue this discussion some other time.”

“Of course,” Siedra murmured. Neilize gave some polite utterance, bowing her head in respect as due to an Aes Sedai of Madeline’s position, then the two were off.

Madeline ducked a glance in the mirror hanging from wood-paneled walls, searching for any signs of weariness. Her silver hair was caught up in a wooden barrette, heavy streaks of auburn echoed by garnet earbobs, and her blue eyes stared sternly at her. No circles, no ash colored cheeks. She had good color, she thought. Her cheeks were unlined, but with the smoothness of many long years wielding the Power.

Tired. Pah! I look as I always have! Well, minus the white hair, of course.

She turned just as Praja ushered in the newcomer, a slender girl with dark curls and almond-shaped eyes.

A smile lit up Madeline’s smooth countenance, and she ushered to the green-cushioned chair. Light, but it was good to see a new novice! This past summer had seen the well of new novices dry up to barely a trickle. With all the recent raisings, to both Accepted and Aes Sedai, the novice decks needed new blood. So close to the girl, she could sense a fine spark, just ready to be lit into flame.

“Welcome to the White Tower, child,” she said, taking her seat behind her desk. The open window behind her brought in the smell of leaves on a fresh autumn wind, and golden afternoon sunlight slanted in stripes across her desk. She reached for the thick Novice book, flipping it open to the first blank page.

“I am Madeline al’Roise, of the Green Ajah,” she said. “I’m the Mistress of Novices for the White Tower, which means I’m in charge of training all of our initiates, both novice and Accepted. Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself, and what brought you here this day? I’d like to know if you’ve any experience in channeling, and what, if anything, you know about the One Power.”

She dipped her quill in ink, and leaned forward, eyes sharp with interest as the girl began her tale.

OOC: I fixed your italics for you so your biography would make more sense to folks. :o) Also, just so you know, I’ll be out of town from Thursday through Monday so I won’t be able to post during that time. Also, I’m working on setting you up with a mentor…so keep an eye out for an email about that. Take it away!

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