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Like squirrels in the maze.
Wed Oct 25, 2006 18:37 (XFF:

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 declaration that Ryell had now met an Asha’Man, however, the Soldier was forced to wince. If anyone ever thought that she had been pretending at being an Asha’Man, she’d be doing worse than cleaning privies, and for a good, long time, too. Before she could make any denial, the older girl began speaking, and when at last there was a question addressed to her, Afailla found herself frustrated.

“My name’s Afailla, but I’m not-“

“And you’re an Asha’Man?”

“No, no, I’m just a Soldier.” There. At least no one could say she had allowed the lie to last for more than a few moments. She’d denied it as soon as possible, hadn’t she? Light, she hoped no one from the Black Tower could overhear their conversation . . .. Ah, the innocence of youth. What trouble it could bring!

“So you’re like a Novice, then!” Afailla nodded, smiling. They didn’t seem to understand what danger their mistaking her as an Asha’Man could have put her in, so she let it pass. Perhaps the Aes Sedai allowed their Novices to pretend to full rank, but certainly the Black Tower did not. For that reason, it seemed unlikely that their White twin did, either. “Funny, that I wear white and you wear black.”

That earned a laugh – the child was observant, if a little naïve. Before Afailla could comment, though, Ryell was shrieking delightedly and pointing at something in the distance. She bid the Accepted to follow her, and then took off running. Afailla and Tsuga were left behind, stunned, and exchanged a quick glance before Sonja began making apologies and asking if they knew where the kid had gone.

“No, sorry.” She looked around briefly, searching for the too-familiar tang of violence in the air that would tell her if there was trouble brewing. She sensed nothing unusual – nothing more than what was normal for such a gathering of folk, at least – so maybe that meant the child was safe enough. Sonja ran off, and after a brief glance at Tsuga, Afailla realized something surprising. Her sister seemed more concerned for the young Novice’s welfare than any of them. It only took a moment of consideration for Afailla to agree to plow through the crowd in the wake of the run-aways. After all, if Ryell was in trouble, she’d need all the help she could get, wouldn’t she?

With both White Tower members lost to their view, Afailla and Tsuga wove through the crowd, inquiring after the girl. They were pointed in a relatively consistent direction, until it switched back into almost the complete opposite way. Stifling a sigh of frustration – wanting to help the kid was one thing, but this was ridiculous! – Afailla plunged into the currents of the crowd again, trailing after her little sister (and how had this happened? She was the Soldier; shouldn’t she be leading?).

“Have you seen a little kid? She’s in Novice whites, and she’s about as flamboyant as anything . . ..” They were pointed off again, and Afailla began to wonder if they wouldn’t end up exactly where they’d started from in just a few more steps. Abruptly, Ryell popped out of the crowd in front of them, and after a few rapidly chattered words, grabbed each of them, each of her hands grasping one of their arms. They both allowed themselves to be tugged along, but Afailla couldn’t stifle her own curiosity – perhaps the Novice was rubbing off on her.

“Where’s Sonja?” Ryell shrugged, babbled something about the Accepted being too slow, and then all at once, the other White Tower initiate was with them, muttering under her breath between admonitions directed at the Novice. Afailla shot the Accepted an apologetic look – they were all equally powerless in the grip of the little girl, though all for different reasons. Of course, any of them could have freed themselves easily, but then what would hey do with themselves if something happened to Ryell?

At last, they all came to a stop in front of two more unfamiliar faces. Well, at least I’m meeting some new people, Afailla thought briefly. That was what festivals were for, right? They were greeted with a curtsy, to which Afailla gave a slight bow. Curtsies didn’t exactly work in breeches, after all. Khaji made a brief introduction of herself following Ryell’s dictation of the names, and Afailla found herself nodding sympathetically.

“That’s certainly understandable. After my first Gateway, I was sick for months! Of course, it turned out that it was my Talent finally manifesting, but I didn’t know that at the time.”

Tsuga broke in, then, which Afailla suspected was because she could more relate to what was being said. “You’re new in the Tower, then? Well, don’t worry. You’ll settle in before long. I’m a Sei’Tar. Been in the Tower for going on four years, now. After that long, it’s almost hard to remember living any other way.” She laughed a bit, and Afailla thought she might detect a hint of resentment, though she may have been mistaken. In any case, it passed quickly, and the conversation continued.

As the others chattered around her, Afailla was granted the luxury of examining the people speaking nearest her for the first time. The Novices and Accepted showed no hint of violence on them; there was no stench coming from them at all, which was a wonderful relief. Tsuga had a very faint, almost nonexistent reek, which after a bit Afailla interpreted to mean either that she had either just committed a very minor violence, or a very major one quite a long time ago. With her sister, either was possible. But the other Soldier . . . now here was something of a fascinating study.

Not only did Darius, as he introduced himself, not stink, he almost smelled . . . pleasant. Most people that had not committed some heinous violence simply had no smell, or a very faint one. But Darius seemed so totally unmarked by violence that he practically put off a flowery scent. It was odd, and certainly something she needed to look into. Perhaps he was destined for Healing, and never killing. The only times she’d been around Healers, there had been so many injured around that it had been impossible to tell if the Healers produced the stench themselves or merely had the stink of others linger with them. Curious, that.

“I’m Soldier Afailla. I’ve been here a little while . . . I suppose close to a year now. And I still haven’t gotten used to it, really.” Tsuga chuckled slightly at that, but Afailla wasn’t ashamed to admit it. As a channeler, there was a good deal more to adjust to than a mere Trainee would face. There were a few beats of silence, and then Afailla couldn’t stand her curiosity any longer. “What’s your Track, Darius?”

  • Excitable Friends?Darius al'Ceer, Wed Oct 25 16:20
    Darius had wandered up again to Khaji, as noone else showed any reaction when he got near that was positive. Most were outright fear and bigotry, as though they wished the had a pitchfork and torch... more
    • Like squirrels in the maze. — Soldier Afailla Dafrin, Wed Oct 25 18:37
      • So . . . is she the squirrel, or the acorn?Tsuga Sei'Tar, Wed Oct 25 18:38
        After bidding her new acquaintances to wait for her, Tsuga plowed off through the crowd, following the bobbing beacon of Afailla’s red mane. Before too long, they had caught up with each other, and a ... more
        • Squirell Returns... With a sweet tooth.Darius al'Ceer, Wed Oct 25 19:29
          Darius smiled at his fellow soldier, but as he was about to state his track the Aethan’tar revealed she was really a Sei’tar, and he bowed his best bow. She was equivalent to a Dedicated in rank, and ... more
          • Oh great! Angry Asha'menNovice Khaji Nagora, Thu Oct 26 21:42
            “You’re new in the Tower, then? Well, don’t worry. You’ll settle in before long. I’m a Sei’Tar. Been in the Tower for going on four years, now. After that long, it’s almost hard to remember living... more
            • On the scent.Soldier Afailla Dafrin, Sat Oct 28 08:51
              Afailla seemed to have found in Darius a somewhat kindred soul. When he admitted to being a Healer, she found herself grinning from ear to ear. So it was him she smelled, then! Abruptly, a short... more
              • Making friends?Tsuga Sei'Tar, Sat Oct 28 08:52
                Tsuga blinked in surprise as Darius bowed. She would have pulled him upright, but he straightened quickly enough. Damn fool – several people stared and giggled before turning back to their own... more
                • Festival Games..Novice Khaji Nagora, Sat Oct 28 20:46
                  “Actually, I know exactly what you mean. It took me about three years to get over that feeling, and it actually only happened when Afailla showed up. Hard to hate people that can channel when your... more
                  • One Last TimeDarius al'Ceer, Sun Oct 29 12:38
                    Darius was beginning to like Afailla. She had been here longer than he had, and he was interested in this notion of Sniffing. Also she said he had smelled nice, and he grinned slightly at the... more
                    • Laughter and games. What are we, nine?Tsuga Sei'Tar, Sun Oct 29 15:01
                      Tsuga cringed at hearing her own words thrown back at her, but then realized that Khaji was only being friendly, poking fun at her as she deserved. “Besides, I know I am not crazy, despite the... more
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