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Late Arrival
Tue Dec 5, 2006 03:21 (XFF:

The sun sank slowly behind the tree line as Tain, for the last time, placed arrow to bowstring. Taking a steadying breath he leveled the longbow he had borrowed from the armory, on the target. Before drawing fletching to cheek, he paused a second, taking a moment to just enjoy the feel of the bow in his hand and the heat of the sinking sun on his neck.

It has to be perfect, he thought, drawing fletching to cheek, No mistakes!

He released in a single fluid motion, sending the arrow streaming toward its target to score a hit, burying itself in the head of his, would be attacker. Tain had moved on from the regular targets, earlier in the day, to the practice dummies and had practiced with them non stop for the past seven hours straight. His mind was focused on improving his ability to hit all of the different shaped targets, just in case he should need such a skill in the trip to come. He expected there would be some sort of competition involved and he was not about to be at any disadvantage. The trip had been planned by Jield Gaidin and was to include a group of Aethan’Tar, Sei’Tar and Gaidin, along with a much smaller retinue of Aes Sedai. It was a trip into one of the most dangerous places a man could go, the Borderlands. Tain had been one of the first to jump at the chance and, upon hearing of the trip, had hurried to find his Mentor and secure his name on the list of Aethan’Tar that would be allowed attend. He had been glad that Jield had not turned his name down, but why should he have? Tain was a fine student… wasn’t he?

“I’ve never been in trouble once since I’ve got here, I work hard, I show due respect to all and treat my equals properly! Im a good student aren’t I?” he ran a hand through his thick, curly beard, in thought. Why do I care so much? he wondered as he set off down the Yard to collect and return the arrows to the quiver.

He had just enough time to catch a meal in the Mess Hall, after returning the quiver and bow to the armory and before all of the staff in the Kitchens had left for the night. Not wanting to keep the Kitchen staff waiting too long, he grabbed his meal, which consisted of a large chunk of bread and a lump of cheese and headed out of the Mess Hall and toward his favorite spot in the gardens.

Tain sat in the centre of a large clearing, bathed in moon shadows, his back propped against the fallen trunk of a tree. “Could be my last night in the Tower, if what I’ve heard about the Borderlands is true!” he thought, as he ate the last of the meal.

He was not afraid of what might happen in the week to come, in fact he relished the opportunity to get that close to the fabled Blight. He had been fascinated by stories of this place, all of which told of a place where death was a way of life and where there was not a civilized soul to be found. he pulled his pack onto his knee and rummaged inside for a few seconds, before pulling out a plain but well made flute. He weighed the flute in his hands momentarily and sighed sadly. This was not his flute! He had had to sell the last flute he had, one he had worked long and hard to earn, so that he could make his trip to Tar Valon, now three years gone past.

It was for the best! I could not have stayed in Ebou Dar for much longer, not without ending up married or dead!

Shaking his head softly and laughing gently, he raised the flute he had had made upon arrival in the Tower, to his lips and began to play. A soft eerie melody sprang from the instrument, reverberating around the clearing. Music was one of his tamer releases from the physical world! When he played the flute, he felt himself floating on the wings of each note, his blood dancing in his veins to the rhythm of the music that issued from his instrument. As the last soft note hung over the clearing and faded away, he dropped the flute from his lips and sighed happily. He had come to love Tar Valon as his home and playing his flute somehow made him feel happier and his heart feel lighter. He slipped the pipe back into his pack, which he moved down off his knee. Grinning happily to himself, he lay back against the log and closed his eyes. Drifting in darkness, he began to slip away into the waiting embrace of sleep.

“Nothing could possibly ruin my night!” he laughed, cradling his head in the crook of his elbow as he drifted off into a pleasant dream.

The moon hung high in the skies above, drenching the clearing in soft light. A soft, pleasantly warm breeze whispered through the trees above. The shadows moved through a stately dance across the crystalline surface of the lake, by which the clearing was situated. He stared out across the surface of the lake at the large silvery moon hanging above its surface and sighed contentedly. It felt just like home, sitting here with only the darkness to keep him company.

As he sat, he began to sing in a soft, but clear tone.

Though I have traveled far,
My heart remains at home!
Where each and every night,
My love waits for my return!

I have traveled far these past moons,
And I travel farther still!
Following my dreams like a shining star,
But my heart remains at home and always will!

I have dreamed of a life of travel,
Of adventure and the open road!
I have dreamed of my love these past nights,
And of my feelings left untold!

I have traveled far these past moons,
And I travel farther still!
Following my dreams like a shining star,
But my heart remains at home and it always will!

“Barely out of your home and you wish to go back?” a soft melodious voice drifted as if on a breeze, to his ears, as he finished his singing.

Tain stood slowly, still keeping his eyes firmly glued to the moon. “There is nothing for me back there now. I was just remembering the good times is all!” he did not bother to even turn to the woman, he knew who it was that stood behind him.

“You have a wife at home?” Marie was a pretty woman, with long golden hair and soft blue eyes in a pleasant heart shaped face, much of an age with himself.

“A wife?” Tain laughed slightly, shaking his head. “Sadly no! I’m afraid I have never had much luck with women.”

“Yes, you have nothing any descent woman would look for!” Marie took a step forward, standing beside him, staring out across the lake.

“So blunt! But yes… you are right!” Tain turned slightly to study his new companion.

“I mean your not handsome, or strong and talented. Your not intelligent or gifted in anyway!” she turned her gaze from the lake to him and smiled up at him shyly, stepping closer to him. “And a pretty, little, defenseless girl like me, wouldn’t feel at all safe in such strong, muscular arms!” she ran her hand up his arm to his shoulder and, with little urging, turned him to face her. “It is cold!”

Tain wrapped his arms around her tightly, staring deeply into her eyes as he pulled her closer. This close he caught a faint hint of lavender, which mingled freely, with the pure clean scent that was this beautiful young woman he held tightly in his arms, to intoxicate his mind. He felt her move against him encouragingly. Her hands came up, tilting his head down to hers. Their lips met and the world drained away!

Dawns first light struck the sleeping figure of the young Aethan’Tar. He had slipped completely into the dream and had forgotten everything, as he was lost in the past. As he blinked sleepily, he sat up, rubbing his eyes and staring around the clearing.

What the… Oh Light! I am meant to be getting ready for the trip! If I am late Jield will skin me! he jumped to his feet and scooped the pack of the ground, turning and setting off at full tilt toward the Barracks.

As he ran the dream he had the night before popped into his mind. This dream had become quite regular and he had no idea why. He felt like it had a meaning but he could not say what that meaning was.

Maybe it means I am lonely! he thought with a small smile. Well whatever it means, I can’t be late!

He ducked out of the gardens and into the morning sun.

Tain stood breathing heavily, his pack slung over his shoulder, his hands pressed to his sides to stop the ache that was forming there. He had run the whole way from the gardens to his room and had burst in the door to find Dante, the young man he shared the room with, ready to leave. They had not spoken as Tain washed hurriedly and pulled on fresh clothes, taking enough time to make sure that everything was in perfect repair and spotlessly clean.

He was not wearing his finest clothes, as to do so would be foolish. What he did wear was sturdy and warm and suitable to be worn outdoors, yet he had made sure that the clothes also looked respectable. He wore a pair of tough black leather boots and a black pants, a clean white shirt and a dark green longcoat, over this he had placed a heavy green cloak with a deep cowl.

When he had been dressed fully and had added a few extra items to his pack, namely a thick needle and thread and his flint and steel, they had dashed out of the room together, swinging by the Mess Hall momentarily to grab something on the run, before sprinting to the designated area.

It was there they now stood, at the back of a long line of people, who were stepping forward and giving their names to a Gaidin. Tain shot a quick glance around, looking to see if he could spot anyone he knew. He was amazed, firstly by the number of Trainees attending and secondly by the number of Aes Sedai. It was not often that the Trainees of the Tower mixed so freely with the Aes Sedai.

Wonder what this trip truly entails! Tain thought, shooting the Head Gaidin a quick glance. What are you up to?

Dante stepped forward and gave the Gaidin his name, before stepping out of his way. Before stepping forward, Tain looked back over his shoulder and cursed silently.

Bloody Light! I am last as usual!

“Name?” the Gaidin said in a brisk voice.

Tain gave the man his details and assured him that he was indeed on the list before dropping a low bow to the Gaidin and stepping out of the line, toward Dante.

“So this is really it Tain? We get to see the Borderlands?” the young man asked excitedly.

“Yes Dante we really get to see the Borderlands!” Tain sighed in exasperation, he had told the boy as much fifty times over.

“Do you think we will get to see Trollocs and Darkfriends and Fades and…” Tain shut out what the boy was saying and sighed deeply.

I feel that this trip is going to tire me! he shot Dante another quick glance, before turning to survey the rest of the people gathered!

OOC: Hope this is okay

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