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A Bite of Porridge
Sun Oct 15, 2006 13:45 (XFF:

Breakfast left something to be desired. Home in Paedrig Rill, Evie had been ripe with choices. A colourful display of fruits was within arm’s reach, and waffles and butter and foodstuffs of the fried variety were there. Not a noble’s breakfast, no, but a damned good one. And here . . . well, here, it could hardly be different. Taking a bite of her porridge, Evie barred a sigh if only by the skin of her teeth. Cold. Cold, lumpy, bland, and, yes, cold again.

Until I learn to heat it with the Power, I’d best develop a taste for it. Stomaching another bite, Evie knew it would not be so easy as that. Developing a taste for this rubbish would be like developing a taste for tree bark, or for lead.

Turning absently to her side (for Evie’s interest in breakfast had suddenly eluded her), Evie peered at a red-haired woman with a sizeable braid. She was a solid woman, eating steadily from her bowl, not even making a face. It was morning within the Black Tower, but the other Soldier did not seem affected by this. “Does it taste better heated?” Evie asked, taking another stab at conversation. She’d tried it time and time again since arriving here, yet to really find success. “It tastes like . . . like old milk. I’m not usually so querulous, but it’s awful. I can’t eat it.”

The red-haired woman eyed Evie. Bracing herself for rejection, she paused in bated breaths, but she was pleasantly pleased. “It tastes the same whether warmed up or not. Nobody likes it in their first week, anyway. It’s not until after then that you realize you can weave away the taste with saidar.” The woman’s voice was deep and even masculine, but it was touched with a buoyant lilting accent that made her words pleasant.

Evie blinked. “You can?”

“It’s a weave of Earth, Water, and Air, and it completely absorbs the taste from anything. It’s like eating thick water.”

It didn’t sound much better, but it was favourable to some slim degree, she supposed. As she couldn’t heat her breakfast in the least, trying the other woman’s suggestion out would be an impossibility, but she kept the notion safely tucked away in thought until then. “I’m Evie, by the way. Evie Holinshed, from Paedrig Rill. It’s near the south of Andor.”

“Marietta do Druthery a’Islick from Inishlinn, Murandy.” Marietta leaned forth and extended a hand, a token of graciousness. Evie was stunned to silence, but wasted no time in the least in accepting this gesture. The two women shook. “I was right in saying that this is your first week?”

“Absolutely. It’s . . . it gets better from here, right?”

Marietta made a sound of consideration in the after end of her throat as she took back another bite of porridge. “Not really. You become conditioned, though, so it seems easier. I’ve been here for all of a month, and it doesn’t seem so bad, but nothing’s really changed. The pace you adopt on your second day seems to be the pace you’ll face for your entire time as a Soldier, so at least there are no surprises.”

Evie tucked this little knot of information into the back of her skull. “Listen, I don’t mean to be clingy . . . but could I follow you around if only for today? Everywhere I go, it seems like I’m not doing something right.” She laughed. |That’s the way people keep looking at me, anyway.”

“Eh, that’s how they always look,” she muttered with the final bite of her breakfast. “But if you’d like to tag around, it’ll cost you that porridge.”

Staring at the sickly concoction, Evie laughed again, and even a smile curved across Marietta’s pale cheeks. “Oh, goodness, that’s a tax I’d absolutely love to pay.” And she slid the bowl down to Marietta, watching the woman eat it, too.

After the pair departed from the Dining Hall, they stepped out into the autumnal sunlight, and Evie folded her arms. It was chilly. Marietta mentioned something about a sword lesson, and Evie wasn’t about to object. Dedicated Abram had given her a quick demonstration with the sword, and she hadn’t been all too adept, and weaponry didn’t really appeal to her, anyway. Light, but she’d come here to learn of the Power. It was a shame there were other aspects of this curriculum.

Arriving at the lesson, Evie was quick to note three female Soldiers hastening up to Marietta. Her friends? It was an unusual moment, for Evie was suddenly on the outside of something, watching the four of them interact in hushed murmurs. Before Marietta had a chance to introduce her to the trio, the Dedicated spoke. Introductions went around the class, and when it came time for Evie to respond, she did.

“I’m Evie Holinshed. I don’t really have any experience with weapons. I tried using a sword the other day with a Dedicated, but I never really learned anything.” Wasn’t that the truth?

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