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Part II: Building Blocks
Wed Nov 15, 2006 12:21 (XFF:,

Jairelle Harmond had only just raised her sword above her head to come chopping down at her invisible opponent with one fell swoop when she was interrupted. The Void came crashing down upon her world, unfastened and uncontrolled, as a Soldier came shouting up toward her. Jairelle blinked. A Soldier! Interrupted for a Soldier! Oh, Light, if that wasn’t just the most annoying thing in the world, she would eat her braid. Every last black strand of it.

“Dedicated . . . Jairelle, right?” She nodded dully, thankful at least that she had been interrupted by someone knowing who she was. If she’d been disturbed by someone inquiring after Dedicated Whuzamacallit, she did not doubt that she would slit the poor boy’s throat. “Dedicated Ceto Amaya is requesting your presence. Something about a Soldier with a block.”

She blinked. And she smiled. Oh, Light. She forgave the Soldier immediately.

Approaching the classrooms at the brisk pace, Jairelle was excited by the sheer notion of the activity before her. Breaking a block was like some incredible intricate blacksmith’s puzzle, and each piece of metal had to be properly checked and examined before the correct one could be properly manoeuvred. Was it luck that Jairelle had earned a reputation as a budding block-breaker? Mayhap. It had started with Soldier Kilo, who, after instructor after instructor after instructor, had yet to truly see any success. That was when Jairelle stepped in, and suddenly, with no more than the scent of tuna on her breath, she broke it. A peculiar block, but one broken nonetheless. Another Soldier was assigned her way, and she succeeded; and when a Dedicated with a block lingering from her Soldier days approached Jairelle for guidance . . . ? Well, she’d had her successes, suffice to say.

“She didn’t say anything about wanting it to be broken for today,” the Soldier said, attempting to keep step with her brisk paces. “Only that it could be identified for the day, and maybe you could take a crack at breaking it another day.”

“Duly noted.” Identifying the block was half the fun, and always a wide array of ideas and assumptions began gallivanting about in her skull.

Upon her arrival, Jairelle shooed the Soldier away, and entered. Ceto Amaya and the Soldier, a young woman with short blonde hair and a hideous wreck of a nose, were waiting there. The Soldier appeared to be growing impatient, though Ceto Amaya was fine. Jairelle shifted. She didn’t much care for the woman’s complexion, really. All the Sea Folk. Skin that dark wasn’t becoming.

Ceto Amaya briefed her shortly, saying that the girl–Evie Holinshed–wasn’t all too impatient but did really seem anxious to channel, and that she hadn’t attempted anything yet. With that, the woman was off. That was it. And Jairelle was set to untangle the puzzle.

“Dedicated Ceto Amaya said you’re Evie,” Jairelle said. “I suppose that will do for name. Sounds kind of common, but whatever. Now, don’t think I’m shallow–it’s only that I’m keen, see. Keen. We all have our traits–your shoulders, for example? You’re a strong girl, I think. A bit of a gorilla, but strong nonetheless. I suppose your shoulders fit your nose, though. It’s rather large.”

The girl’s hands were now ashen white for the sheer ferocity of her budding anger. Jairelle smiled. “What the bloody–”

“Now. Embrace.”

“Why should–”

“Don’t interrupt me, you stupid harlot! Embrace! Embrace!”

The girl closed her eyes at once, concentrating. Twenty seconds passed, and the girl opened them again. Nothing. “Well, it’s not anger that sets off your block,” Jairelle mused. “Sorry about that. It’s just . . . well, you know. It was for the block. Now, do you drink much?”

The pair of them left the classrooms behind, making their way toward the Dining Hall. Jairelle explained her plight to the cooks, though they seemed not to believe her. Figures. After flagging down an Asha’man and explaining the situation to him, she was able to hold in her hands a half-empty (suspiciously half-empty, even) bottle of rye.

“Do you like rye?” Jairelle inquired as she guided the girl to the gardens, handing her the bottle. “Drink up, now. It’s delicious. I promise.”

Well, of course that was a lie, and Soldier Evie didn’t appear stupid enough to honestly believe it, but the girl made a laudable attempt at drinking it nonetheless. Jairelle looked on as her charge flinched with every sip. Even the hardened drinker didn’t much enjoy sipping on this stuff straight, nonetheless chugging it as Jairelle attempted to compel the younger woman to do. Sip after sip, gulp after gulp, and the pair of them was now sitting in the gardens amidst flowers and various briars.

“Shtuff tastes like a garbage,” Evie remarked wisely, chugging heartily from the bottle nonetheless as she rocked gently on her bottom. “Don’t . . . don’t much likes it, no. Like a garbage.” It was evident that the girl was now heartily drunk, what with the bottle so considerably drained as it was. Jairelle embarked on the difficult task of compelling her to attempt to embrace, but even when it looked as if the drunken girl was giving it an honest effort, it did not work. Light. Focusing her efforts on Healing, she began to attempt to Heal the drunkenness out of her. It was possible, or so she’d been taught, though it only seemed to speed up the process of being drunk. By the end of it, the now-sobre Evie Holinshed was flinching, clutching her head. Hangovers, on the other could, could not be Healed. In this new state, Jairelle compelled her to attempt to embrace, but it wasn’t much good. Being hungover didn’t seem to be the condition of her block, either.

Nor did having dirt thrown in her face. Nor being paddled with Air. Nor cooled with Air and Water. Nor being heated with sudden flows of Fire. Nor being suspended from the Traitor’s Tree. Nor being forced to run a complete lap around the Black Tower without halting. Nor being fed goat’s liver and old, stinking cod-liver oil. Nor staring directly at the sun. Nor staring at the bottom of the lake with her head plunged right therein. Oh, Light. What a day.

By now, Evie was instructed to constantly be attempting to embrace, even as they were idly gambolling around the grounds. Light, by now, Jairelle was hoping that something out of the blue would stimulate the block. A pretty boy. A frightening Asha’man. A handshake from a stranger. Anything.

They winded around the Blasting Grounds, and Jairelle was launching through the most boring anecdote she could think of–something about old proletarians on her neighbour’s estate approaching her family offering to purchase a fraction equal to half the divisible amount of her house of the land in exchange for nine payments of grain imported from some place with a really dull, plain-sounding name. Boredom did not stimulate the block, it seemed, and Evie was continually attempting to touch the True Source. She was.

At once, a high-pitched sound erupted from the Grounds, and the two women turned. Their eyes widened at the sight of an orange-and-yellow-and-red fireball positively screaming toward them, spinning out of control from its creator. Embracing saidar in the slimmest second, Jairelle channeled, weaving Water and Spirit and slicing through the flows directly. The fireball spluttered out of existence no more than half a pace from them. Half a pace.

Her heart was still beating from the shocking reality of coming so close to death when she turned, spying Evie. A halo of gold blossomed around the girl, and her blue eyes were wide. She had done it. She had done it. “Danger,” Jairelle whispered. “That’s it, isn’t it? You have to be in immediate danger, right?” She put it to the test. Forcing Evie to relinquish her hold on the Power, Jairelle channeled an invisible razor of Air, pressing it gently against the Soldier’s neck. “Embrace now lest I slit your throat.”

Evie blinked. “That doesn’t seem very–”

Jairelle pressed her flows forth, and the girl’s eyes widened; the imminent danger of it must have just come crashing down on her. Suddenly, it happened again. The halo appeared around her. She had embraced. She had embraced.

Upon their return to the classroom, Jairelle instructed her in channeling. She composed each thread in the order of her own elemental strengths: Water, Air, Spirit, Fire, Earth. Letting each of them hang suspended before her for but a moment as she named the specific element off, she progressed, until all of the Five Powers had been demonstrated. “It’s your turn, Evie. Your strength in each element will be available by how thick and strong the thread is. Tell me your elemental strengths from strongest to weakest and you’re free to go.”

  • Attempt Number, um, Thirty Million?Soldier Evie Holinshed, Sat Oct 28 12:24
    Evie swallowed the information as though she were taking spoonfuls of difficult yet desired medicine. The Dedicated, her skin varying however minutely from the black threads she wore, explained this... more
    • Part II: Building BlocksDedicated Jairelle, MuC, Wed Nov 15 12:21
      • Light Beyond LifeSoldier Evie Holinshed, Wed Nov 15 12:22
        It was more than exhausting on her body. That much had been expected. Coming to the Black Tower, Evie had known that this was the life. Swimming. Sword-swinging. Running. Light. And while the test in ... more
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