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Taste of Anticipation...
Fri Dec 1, 2006 14:19
80.189.6.245 (XFF: 172.20.24.56)

“Oh, for the wretched love of Grace and Glory.”

Alasdair’s groan sounded clear across the gravelled yard, ringing in the ears of his opponent. Breathing heavily, the youth signalled for a pause, leaning despondently upon the staff in his hands. Blonde hair damp and heavy with sweat, Alasdair shook his head, his narrow, purposely expressive features the very picture of misery.

“Ah, it is no good. No matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, I cannot, under any glorified circumstance, grasp how to Fight. Yes, you teach me, I have the most clever, knowledgeable teachers in the land, and yet it does not seem to sink in. I might as well give up.” The Sei’Tar grunted dangerously, the young Cairhienin looked up hastily. “Oh, I never will- I was just saying, I might as well.”

Shaking away strands of hair, Alasdair tilted back his head, feeling the slight bitterness of the cooling winds, enjoying somewhat the thought of the poetic picture he made in the autumnal scenery. He could hear his opponent, a hefty Taraboner, crunching across the gravel towards him. Alasdair closed his eyes, expecting perhaps some words of wisdom. The cuff to his head came quite unexpected.

Eyes shooting open, the young man looked ruefully to the Taraboner, who grinned.

“You needed that.” The Sei’Tar hefted his quarterstaff, prodded Alasdair with it teasingly. “Tell you what, get yourn self signed up for this expedition. Put some… nobility … in yourn life.” The man grinned again, clearly enjoying the gentle jibe at Alasdair’s widely known dreams, and scrunched away.

Standing up straight, Alasdair left his body sway slightly, pushed by the wind, as he considered the man’s words. A chance to find out… to learn, of what it is really like to serve the Aes Sedai. Fate has offered this up to me, something perhaps to change me around, put me back on the right path. His lips curled a little, eyes slightly narrowed, one side of his mouth a little lopsided- a quietly happy, knowing expression, Alasdair knew. It fitted perfectly.

“I shall join this expedition. I vow this; to try, to learn, to gain. I shall go.”

And with that, the bard-trained young Cairhienin strolled lightly away, to add his name to the slowly growing list.

~

“I cannot miss my fateful chance!” Alasdair gasped, jumping from sleep to wakefulness in the space of a snapped moment. Sat bolt upright, he glanced about the room. Lumps of trainees slept in the couple of other beds, snoring gently. It was still early, the sun not yet roused, and by all rights Alasdair should be asleep. Yet today, he must rise, prepare, and wait to join the expedition. Yawning, he slid from the bed, shivering at the delightful chill of the floor on bare feet. It was still dark in the barracks, yet no one awoke as he stealthily lit a flame.

Padding across the wooden floor, Alasdair smiled at the feeling of such silence. None of the other trainees knew he was awake. In this dark morningtime hour, he could accomplish anything it seemed, without the punishing clumsiness he had in his lessons. His sleepy, fawn eyes frowned at that thought. He tried his hardest, he really did. Mimicking the fluidity the best he could, attempting the dance as he saw shown to him. Yet he was making no improvement. Now gazing into a cracked, grubby mirror, Alasdair shook his head at the reflection. What use are negativities on such a day as this will be?

The water in the ewer was night-cold, and Alasdair shivered as it dripped onto his underclothes. Yet it rinsed away slumber and drowsiness. His long fingers rubbed the water into young skin. Alasdair looked at his reflection philosophically, as he was prone to do, and his thoughts meandered from place to place- though the underlying theme was the glory of serving Sisters of the White Tower.

Washed and dressed, the young man let a secret smile slide across his face, brushing away light hair form his eyes. Little did the sleeping men know that Alasdair was a bright, shining bubble of Hope. Pleased with the image, he crept from the barracks, out into the dawn.

For a long while, the gardens wrapped their leafy arms about Alasdair. He wandered the paths, sat looking thoughtfully charming upon benches, felt the soft coolness of fallen leaves. Until the moment he judged it to be time for to be heading towards the meeting place.

There, he gave his name along with the other trainees. Anticipation was cold and hard inside his belly. When he spoke with other young men, his hands and face flickered with animation. Alasdair truly believed this would be a turning point in his training life.



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