Don't Have to Love
Wed May 17, 2006 19:52 (XFF:

He didn’t ask the man’s name. He didn’t ask anything of him. He probably had a name, Sirestes suspected, and a life, and goals, and aspirations, and everything that he himself shared. Sirestes still would not ask for his name. The anonymous man in question had dark eyes and light, ash-blonde hair, with a nose bordering far too much on aquiline for him to be considered conventionally handsome. Or maybe he had been; after all, it had been dark, and Sirestes had not stopped to look. The man did not stop to look, either, as he tread coolly from the barracks.

Sirestes didn’t suppose the man had been an Aethan’Tar, certainly, and he most definitely hadn’t been an Accepted or novice . . . not with the accented, drunken slurs he bandied about on the topic of “witches” and the like. No, this man had likely been the son of an innkeeper. Naught more, naught less, and naught else. Whoever he’d been in life, Sirestes did not ask. Man, woman–he never did. Their only purpose to him was to serve as some giddy excuse for pleasure in the dead of the night. It did not fulfill him, but Sirestes did not ask to be fulfilled. The man with no expectations could hardly be disappointed.

I want a girl who’s too sad to give a damn, he thought, and a boy who’s so drunk he doesn’t talk.

The light stung his eyes as he dressed himself, pulling over the light tunic over himself as he performed that same ritual of redundance. Half of the Aethan’Tar already had departed into the early morning mist and light–the eager ones, he did not doubt, who hardly had been there a month–while the other half appeared to be holding back, lingering. None cared who made love in the next bunk so long as they were quiet about themselves. He smirked. The creaks and groans of the mattress hardly made that feasible, and even still, none argued.

The sun was a ball of molten gold as it crested the horizon, and Sirestes still blinked away, much preferring the evening’s dark recesses. It was only dawn, though the Gaidin still barked their orders. He was a tall man, Sirestes, with a length of red hair. That he had Aiel blood was evident in his skin tone, which was gradually darkening again each day he spent in the sun, and his green eyes. Changes since he’d enrolled as an Aethan’Tar were evident. Physical ones, at least. Four years as a novice had wheedled away at his “seaworthiness,” as Jonavon might have said. Four years doing anything was too long. Bloody Light.

And it was with this mood–not smiling nor scowling, but rather stone-faced–that he trudged off to the day’s first lesson. He decided that he wasn’t hungry, and the crowd that did not usually wake as early as possible most often missed out on breakfast. Something to be endured. Soon enough, once he was bonded by some Aes Sedai or another, Sirestes would not feel so many pangs of hunger, and then maybe things might be simpler. Less meals sounded simpler to him.

Sirestes recognized the Sei’Tar as Harin instructing the lesson he approached. The fellow had manned an axe lesson not too long ago, he remembered, if only for part thereof. Folding his arms, Sirestes peered hither and yon, eyeing up many of the other recruits, none of whom seemed very alert. Light, but he doubted that he himself appeared very alert. It had, after all, been a late night.

“Right then. Wake up! I know its early, but if I don’t get your full attention and efforts in this lesson make no mistake that Jield will know, and he'll be even more unhappy that I will be.” The Sei’Tar smiled, though Sirestes didn’t find any especially compelling reason to follow suit. It wasn’t that he was a pessimist. He was just tired.

“To wake you up properly,” Harin continued, “I have a little game.” From a shed he then retrieved a ball bound in leather. Well, it certainly didn’t appear to be the most formidable weapon, so it really did have to be a game. “The game involves throwing this ball around. If you are hit by it, you are 'on' and then need to hit someone else with it. In case you'd lost the incentive to dodge the ball.” Letting his sentence trail off, Harin eyed one Aethan’Tar in particular. Giving a thrust of a throw, Harin hurled the ball the Aethan’Tar’s way. The sound of impact was loud, suffice to say, and a red mark appeared on the man’s sleeveless arm where the ball had come in contact.

Bloody heavy ball, Sirestes regarded with an amused smirk and a laugh.

“So you see, its worthwhile trying to dodge the ball, it might not look heavy, but it is, and if that hits you . . . well . . . you'll know about it. Oh, yeah, and you’re it!”

It was a vicious game. No other world could as well describe it. Though Sirestes could not count himself particularly light or spry on his feet, he did have endurance to boot, and so he was still hastening about the field several minutes later while few others were lagging doggedly–not that he did not sustain a wound or two. Most barely grazed him, leaving an unpleasant memory in the stead of a more noticeable injury, though he did get a ball to the thigh on one occasion–the back of his thigh, too, so he’d not been able to throw it at him. When he did get the ball, though, he only hurled it as hard as he could at the nearest Aethan’Tar. The game, in the end, turned out to be a fun distraction, if only for the moment.

OOC: Third paragraph taken roughly from a Bright Eyes song, Lover I Don't Have to Love. I'd feel guilty if I didn't pay any credit. *grins*

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