Little Conversations
Sun Oct 22, 2006 09:53 (XFF:

Sonja had hoped she would be able to shake off her juvenile escort once they’d entered the grounds of the Black Tower, but the kid seemed clamped to her side like a bad habit. To be honest, once she got a look around the place, Sonja wasn’t so sure she wanted her little friend wandering off all by herself—there was no telling what sort of trouble she might scrape up here. She still couldn’t believe a nine-year old would be allowed in a place like this, and without any sort of designated supervisor. Sonja had only been to the Black Tower once before, at a festival some years back when she was still a novice, but it seemed…different, now. Bigger.

The crowds bustled all around her, a bizarre mixture of folk, in Sonja’s opinion. It just didn’t seem normal for the denizens of the White Tower to be mingling with these Asha’man types. She had never understood the strange alliance between the two Towers, and the differences seemed even more pronounced now that she was here. This place was nothing like the refined grandeur of the White Tower—it looked like a jumped-up town that sprawled out hither and yon with no set plan or design. The huge black wall that encircled the place seemed to emanate some sort of dangerous vibe, a vibe that was echoed in the men and women in black she saw slipping through the crowds. These people had their own agenda, and unlike the Aes Sedai, that agenda was all too clear. They were weapons for the Dragon Reborn, tools meant to be wielded at his discretion.

Not that there was anything wrong with that—if that was what they wanted to do, then well and good. Sonja had to appreciate an entire collection of people with the same single-minded, unveiled purpose, unlike the mixed bag of secrets found in her own home. What she didn’t understand was why the two Towers claimed to be friends. It seemed like a setup, to Sonja. Friends like these could turn into some pretty nasty enemies, and she wouldn’t want to be within a thousand leagues of a shakeup between these two Towers.

For now, though, everyone around her seemed at ease and in good spirits, so she set her reservations aside. She and Ryell were ambling down a cobblestone path in no particular direction, moving with the general flow of the foot traffic. The young novice had a way of bouncing on her toes even as she walked, and her mouth would not stop running. She had twenty questions for everyone and everything that she saw.

“Why do they have that big wall, Sonja?”

“To keep people out, of course. This isn’t just a pretty town…”

”Why are so many people wearing black?”

“Those are the folk who train here,” Sonja explained, patiently. “The Asha’man—those are the ones who have gone through the ranks, kind of like Aes Sedai—they have two pins.”

“Oh,” Ryell breathed.

“And then there are the Soldiers, who are the beginners—like novices—and then there are Dedicated. The middle rank, like the Accepted. Only it’s not really like the White Tower at all…they’re totally different in what they do and why.”

“What do you mean?”

Sonja sighed. How to explain something like the Black Tower to a girl who could barely tie her own shoes?

“Well, you know the Dragon Reborn?”

“He’s the one who’s gonna fight the Dark One!” Ryell crowed. Her eyes lit up as fireworks suddenly exploded into the sky off in the distance, a shower of purple and white lights.

“Yep, that’s the one. Well, the Black Tower train to serve him. They’re his soldiers. Think of this more like a military base. Totally different than what we do.”

”What’s that tree with all those nasty shriveled up things, Sonja?”

“That’s what they call the Traitor’s Tree,” she said, moving away from the nasty thing. A nine-year old didn’t need to see something that gruesome. The last time she’d come here, they’d had the shriveled up heads all light up like a feastday tree. Apparently the current M’Hael didn’t have the same sense of décor or style.

“What’s a Tray-tor?” She said the word slowly, testing the unfamiliar sound.

“Someone bad,” Sonja replied brusquely. “Here, let’s go see what they’ve got to eat here.”

Just ahead was the huge square cordoned off for dancing, and beyond that were tables laden with food and drink. Sonja’s tummy was grumbling, and she wished Accepted were allowed to drink—she could go for something swift and strong right about now.

“Can we dance, later? Huh?”

“I don’t really dance.”

“But this is a ball!”

”It’s not a ball, it’s a—“

Suddenly, a woman was sidling up next to her and murmuring a question in her ear. “What’s with the kid? Is she your little sister, or something?”

Sonja whirled around. “What?” She took in the speaker in a glance—lean, handsome if not pretty, simple green dress—not someone she’d seen before, certainly. Not a channeler, either, unless she was a man in disguise, which Sonja doubted. A trainee, maybe, or the wife of one of the Asha’man. She’d heard they kept wives here.

“She’s hardly my sister,” Sonja scoffed. “She’s a novice.”

The woman arched a brow. “What is she, seven?”

Ryell was now clued into the conversation, her attention pulled away momentarily from the dancers. “I’m nine! ” she announced, her brows drawing down sharply. “I’ll be ten next month!”

“You’ll be lucky to make it to next month,” Sonja said, shaking her head. Her gaze returned to the woman. “I’m Sonja,” she said, jutting out a hand. “An Accepted. This is Ryell—don’t ask me how I got saddled with her, or how a bloody nine-year old ended up in novice whites. And you are?”

Ryell hopped up and down. “Are you an Asha’man? Are you one of those who fight for the Dragon? Can you show me some of your moves? Do you have a sword? You’re not a tray-tor, are you? Sonja said there are bad people here called tray-tors and they’re heads get hung up on trees like pinecones! I’d hate that, wouldn’t you?”

Sonja rolled her eyes. Maybe she’d manage to find a strong drink after all…

OOC: Take it wherever you like! You can bring in whomever you'd like, too. Oh, and a heads up...I'll be out of town from this Thursday through Monday, but fortunately the festival has been extended so that shouldn't cramp our style. ;o)

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    • Little Conversations — Accepted Sonja Meranes, Sun Oct 22 09:53
      • A stroke of genius.Tsuga Sei'Tar, Sun Oct 22 14:20
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          • Novice on the Loose!Accepted Sonja Meranes, Tue Oct 24 08:05
            Sonja could have cried from embarrassment. It was bad enough having a bloody nine-year-old clinging to her leg, but to have her spouting off this sort of nonsense in front of perfect strangers was... more
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                  Afailla loved children. This much was obvious from her willingness to be dragged over to talk to a strange kid, as well as from the easy rapport she established with the young Novice. At the... more
                  • So . . . is she the squirrel, or the acorn?Tsuga Sei'Tar, Wed Oct 25 18:38
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