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Such a Hard, Hard Man
Fri Oct 6, 2006 20:27
209.213.238.160 (XFF: 192.168.1.3)

Dear Warly,

It’s shocking how much they know–and, too, it ends not only with quantity. Rapidity. I told them that I had used the Power before, and they wanted to verify this, so they called another woman. She looked just like them–black coats and a distinct hardness about her. All she had to do was stand before me for the faintest fraction of a second before nodding her concession. That was it! Not a second!

It makes me wonder . . . how exactly does the One Power work, anyway? I know no more of it than what stories and my education has told me, and that was little. I know enough to say with complete sureness that what I tapped into was indeed the One Power, but how could she have done that? How could she stand in front of me and, without me being any the wiser, tell me that I could channel? Does
saidar allow you to read others minds? Frightening thought.

Still, curiosity and wonderment pulsing inside of me are nothing–nothing–in comparison to excitement. I’ll be able to do that, too. I’ll be able to do everything with the Power that she could and more. I know so, and I also know with entire sureness that I cannot wait.

With love,
Evie


As the female Asha’man stalked off, back turned and dark hair so very tightly curled, Evie turned back to the man. Well, that was that. They knew she could channel. She was a wilder, just as she suspected. A confident smile curved across her freckled cheeks. Beautiful.

“Describe your first channeling experience,” the Asha’man intoned, face buried in a fresh leather folder. His hand was scrawling rapidly, though the folder’s contents were not for her perusal, she surmised. They were standing off to the side not far from the entrance gate, and she saw only near glimpses of life within the Tower. To her left, a wide, bustling thoroughfare divided the Black Tower–it was crowded with carts, with horses, with men and women. It was crowded with Asha’man, with pedestrians, with others yet who did not wear pins, and others still in . . . in blue coats? Peculiar.

Blue eyes flashing, Evie said, “I was protecting myself. A man tried to rape me, and I was only trying to protect myself. Suddenly, I don’t know . . . I didn’t feel any different. Still, the man was writhing in pain, almost as if invisible hammers were waging against him. Nothing like that has happened to me before.”

“Sickness?”

She didn’t understand what the dark-haired Asha’man could possibly mean by this question until she remembered. No more than a week after the experience, when she was readying herself to depart from Paedrig Rill, it had hit her. She’d fallen sick. Violently sick, even. It had cleared itself not long after, but it was something–the sort of thing that pushed you to the brink of death. Her father, fortunately, had been able to summon the finest Wisdom in all of southern Andor. Paedrig Rill’s was far too inexperienced to be trusted with this. Oh, yes. “It nearly killed me, but I survived. Only once.”

The Asha’man nodded, making a vague sound of acquiescence in the back of his throat. “I see. It looks like you’re not very far along in your development, then. The ability must only have recently manifested, and it seems like you were caught after your first run-in with the Power. Fortunate, for your sake. The odds were stacked against you. You would most likely have died if you had gone untrained.”

Evie blinked. Died? How could something about which she hardly knew kill her? And she realized that her answer had been provided within the context of the question herself. It would kill her because of her ignorance. Remarkable. Not the least bit assuaging, but remarkable nevertheless, she supposed.

“Well, if you don’t mind me asking, when will I begin to learn about the–”

“I have some further questions to ask of you, Evie Holinshed. What is your mother’s name?”

Evie blinked again. Oh, bloody Light, how long would this take? She wanted to learn to channel; why was anything else a necessity? “It was Averly.” And she peered reproachfully at the man, wordlessly daring him to ask of her fate, or even if she had decided on a whim to select a new name. He didn’t, though, and he seemed unfazed by her watching eye. Unloving bastard.

It rolled slowly on like this, wearing her patience as the man asked question after question, his grey-eyed gaze only sometimes meeting hers–and she saw nothing in it that told her that he had once been human, or that he had once been anything but a useless barrel of trivial questions. Her age seemed like a sensible thing to inquire, maybe, but her town of origin? Her father’s occupation (which she readily divulged)? Her sibling count, her divine alliance–oh, yes, she was a Darkfriend! Right! She’d gone fifteen years cunningly avoiding suspicion about her true nature, only to accidentally tell it to the first man with a big ugly sword who asked! Yes, naturally! She could laugh for the humour in this! She wouldn’t, but she could.

At last, after it seemed like the man’s folder was practically filled to bursting with useless bits-and-pieces from her life, the man approached another one of the guards, murmuring something in the swarthy fellow’s ear. The second Asha’man went off, returning few minutes later with another fellow at his side. This one was different. Younger, yes, and though he wasn’t necessarily handsome, his lack of imperturbable frigidity was refreshing. His collar, she noted, was bereft of the red-enamelled pin in the shape of some twisted serpent that the others wore.

“Dedicated Abram reporting, sir.” He saluted dutifully, and Evie smiled in spite of herself.

“This, Dedicated, is Soldier Evie.” And the sheer wealth of wonderment that came with being addressed by her new title very nearly bowled her all the way over. “Soldier Evie was only just enrolled. What you will do, Abram, is guide the girl around a bit–take her on a tour. Her embracing lesson can wait until tomorrow.” Evie wondered what he meant by “embracing.” Had it been a misnomer? It didn’t seem to make sense in his sentence, but even still, it was an oddly peculiar misnomer. “Get her uniformed, of course, and have her swear the oaths, but that’s it. Shouldn’t take more than a few hours.”

If the fellow was excited by this opportunity or beleaguered by it, he gave no physical clue. His dark eyes were focused squarely on the Asha’man. Had Abram not noticed her presence, or was he simply so rapt in his attention to the Asha’man, so distant in the presence of his superior?

“Yes, sir.”

And they were off.

  • The Book of LettersSoldier Evie Holinshed, Wed Oct 4 12:33
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