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Fulfilling A Dream
Sun May 21, 2006 14:25 (XFF:

The sun was burning. Riani brushed away a sweaty, dark strand of hair; her hair was smooth enough that keeping all of it tucked neatly away was difficult, no matter how hard she braided her waist-long hair. And it was tightly braided; it stung at the top of the Aethan’Tar’s head where hair was connected to tanned skin.

“One more arrow,” she murmured softly to herself, “and then it’s time to go to that falconry class. Better not be late for that one, didn’t Harina say she was a General or something like that?”

With a good portion more skill than she had had when she took her first Archery lesson from Jield Gaidin – not that that said much – the Aethan’Tar drew an arrow from her quiver. Making sure her body was in the proper position was as natural as breathing, now, as was checking the arrow for any fallacies before she lay it on the bow’s string. Keeping her breath calm and steady she aimed, and-


“Mother’s milk in a bloody cup,” the Aethan’Tar muttered to herself, under her breath, of course. Some of the Gaidar and Gaidin were absolute death on trainees using that sort of language, and Riani had no wish of writing lines, raking garden paths or whatever they would device.

“Yes,” she replied instead, managing to keep most of her annoyance out of her voice, “how may I help you, Tarien Sei’Tar?” She turned and bowed; the man might be rude in the extreme to her, but the Light itself wouldn’t be able to help her if she returned the favour! Calling out to her as she was about to release an arrow from the bow!

“I saw you here, and I thought I’d remind you that that falconry lesson is today. I know how much you looked forward to it and didn’t want you to miss it.”

Light, Riani thought, wishing she dared rolling her eyes, how can you think I would forget that? I have only been telling anyone who would listen – including you, my dear Sei’Tar, back when you still deigned to talk to me outside lessons – how upset I was because my 17th birthday was nearing, and I wouldn’t be able to follow my father out to learn falconeering.

She said nothing, of course, well nothing but a polite ‘thank you’ delivered with a medium deep bow, fit from Aethan’Tar to Sei’Tar. Still, Tarien seemed to catch up on her mood; he had been a friend of sorts while they were both Aethan’Tar, but both of them had felt it uncomfortable when he was raised around half a year after Riani’s arrival to the Training Grounds. Since then he had barely spoken to her at all; this was the first time he had come to tell her something since…well, months ago, certainly.

The mews were full of birds. Some of them Riani recognized from her father’s books; the Peregrine, for instance, had always been her favourite. The Aethan’Tar didn’t know why, it just…was.

A few minutes after Riani had taken her position, already almost freezing from the intense wind that had not been present in the field where Riani had practised her bow, the bell tolled high. And then…
That must be Demetri Sedai, Riani thought to herself as the tall, somewhat imposing woman stepped forward, confirming seconds after that yes, she was Demetri Sedai and of the Green Ajah. Her dress was a foresty green, much like Riani’s own clothes; she had finally gotten rid of her brother’s clothing, buying herself some that actually fit.

Riani bowed before replying to the Aes Sedai’s question. “I am Riani Seruam, an Aethan’Tar, Aes Sedai. I have been interested in falcons since…well, since I was a child, but my father refused to teach me how to do it until my 17th birthday, and since I left home to come here when I was 16…” she shrugged, walking up to the Aes Sedai, accepting the glove given to her and making another deep bow.

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