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What Would Warders Wonder?
Mon Dec 11, 2006 13:58 (XFF:

Kat bowed as a Gaidin moved forward, the fancloth spilling behind him with the motion of his forceful stride; the Aes Sedai with plain features and hair that seemed to have little life in the thin strands followed at a stately pace. "Kat Sei'Tar, as part of this expedition, you will be given a bond emulation in order to assist this Aes Sedai where she requires it."

The announcement came as something of surprise, her eyes going wide at the statement and then over to the homely and skinny woman. The Aes Sedai's eyes were the same as every other one of her Brothers or Sisters—that sense of immense maturity through their longevity, but a smile turned her lips upward. "Really? Well that should make things interesting." Kat observed, watching as the Aes Sedai's lips twitched in what could have been amusement.

"Alakemeti Sedai, may I present to you Ekaterine Tenzin Sei'Tar." The Gaidin gave a small flourish of his hand and in the pause between his announcement and their murmurs of pleasure in meeting one another Kat bent for another bow and Alakemeti Sedai gave the briefest nod of her head. "Well now, I'll leave the temporary bond to you, Aes Sedai, and make my rounds. Kat—I need not tell you to act as if you were a Warder to this Sister."

"Yes, sir." Kat responded promptly, snapping her heels almost instinctively at his back. Turning to the Aes Sedai, the woman's dark eyes studied her with some curiosity and expectation and Kat looked back with some amount of confidence in her abilities to protect a woman who looked as if she hadn't seen the sun in five decades. "Well—"

"I suppose we should get started." The Aes Sedai interrupted smoothly, but it was such an echo of her own thoughts that Kat stood in place while the woman remained where she was. Before, when Kat had been under a bond emulation with an Accepted, she'd been touched, but this time she felt nothing except for an odd tingling along her skin, a warmth suffuse her and then the distinct impression of the Aes Sedai in her head. Alakemeti tilted her head, eyes considering her. "You're not surprised or thrown off by the feeling."

Something in the woman's question felt odd, just a strange trembling along the bond, but Kat had never been through such a thing with a man or woman bound by the Three Oaths. Shaking her head, "No, I've been through an exercise—a bond emulation between myself and an Accepted."

"Ah, well that will make our jobs easier then." The Aes Sedai didn't smile, but she sensed the satisfaction in her. "Ekaterine was your name? That's something of a mouthful."

Around them were the sounds of men and women first exposed to the sensations of the temporary bond and it was enough to distract and disarm Kat into speaking frankly. "And Alakemeti isn't?"

The woman laughed, the sound was rich and amused. "You can call me Meti. I can't be blamed for the name bestowed upon me but I can do what I can to make it more attractive."

Again, Kat felt the strange trembling along the bond, the odd sensation as if someone had tapped a tuning fork on a table and held it to her ears. "And I go by Kat most times. It's easier to shout when you're angry at me. Otherwise it feels like you're about to start dressing down a prissy girl in skirts."

The Gaidar who had been helping Xanathic Gaidin called out, "All right everyone, let's move out!" She barked instructions to the Aethan'Tar to remain near the front, placed the Aes Sedai and Sei'Tar in the center of the group, with the Gaidin and supply carts bringing up the rear.

"Are you much of a rider?" She noted the way the woman held the reins in her hand, fingers loose, grip firm, and how her knees guided the dainty mare almost unconsciously.

"I am." Meti responded with a smile. "Or at least I obviously think that I am. I had a lot of experience spending time in the saddle, going from city to city and town to town. It was either learn or fall off with a back end so sore I wouldn't want to sit for weeks."

Kat laughed. "I know the feeling. When I was in—" she broke off, suddenly sheepish.


"Oh, I didn't want to bother you with boring stories about my time in the Queen's Guard." Kat shook her head, self-conscious.

Warmth suffused her, a reassurance that came through the pseudo-bond between them. "Please share with me, Kat, I would be interested to hear your stories." The honesty of the answer and verification through their shared bond surprised Kat. "So astonished, Sei'Tar? Is that how you believe Warders and Aes Sedai act—that we don't share some sort of friendship on top of the responsibilities of keeping one another safe?"

"I—I honestly don't know, Meti Sedai." Her confession was heavy with her own lack of knowledge. "My experience in seeing bondmates together has been limited to one, and she's a Green." A spike of amusement struck Kat in the section of her mind where the Aes Sedai was housed. "And I'm not saying that because she's a Green that her bonds are unusual, only that I know that it sometimes differs from how other Aes Sedai view a bond."

"Interesting…do you mind me asking you to elaborate on what you mean?" Again, Kat was surprised by the offer and a little self-conscious to share her own ignorant views with a woman who was probably three times older than herself. "I would be interested to hear what you'll say, Kat, even if you feel it's uninformed."

The woman's calm and easy demeanor threw Kat off, she wasn't sure how to take it. "All right, well…won't this be fun and uncomfortable?" She felt Meti's amusement through the bond—a sensation Kat was fast becoming used to. "From what I understand, Aes Sedai seem to choose their Warders for a variety of reason, most of which depend on the competency of their skills with weapons. It seems that Greens tend to seek Warders they'll be friends with, sometimes lovers. Sometimes they seem to marry all of them, despite convention—but that's just a rumor I heard."

"I think that most see it that way for Greens. Many hold the opinion that they choose a lot of Warders they love too. What do you think?" Meti looked to Kat and there was an intensity in the woman's eyes, the bond blurring slightly so that Kat couldn't quite feel the woman's emotions, as if she did it on purpose.

"Me? I—well, it seems that if you're counting on someone to protect you, in some respects having a lover, husband or wife for a Warder would be the best protection you could have. But on the other hand it could be the worst." Meti pinned her with another questioning look and Kat shrugged. "We prepare to give up our lives to save yours, Meti Sedai, coolly, dispassionately and if I were to love someone, I might make a mistake. No, I wouldn't want something like that."

The Aes Sedai gave her mare a little nudge, the amusement gone from the bond, but a quiet satisfaction radiating from the woman's frail back.

The first night of camp was an interesting affair for the Aethan'Tar and Sei'Tar—even Kat, used to the equal share Demetri Sedai had taken when camp was set up, wasn't used to the look of pure, blank amazement from ageless faces as the Trainees looked to their Aes Sedai to lend a hand. Meti Sedai reacted in the same way the others had—eyes wide on a plain face before settling in front of a circle of stones meant to be the fire. Each of the Aes Sedai, a mixture of men and women, formed a second perimeter in expectation of the fire an Aethan'Tar was in charge of starting.

Pulling her own and Meti's packs from their mounts, she heard an Aethan'Tar innocently ask, "Can't you just channel a fire for us? It would be so much easier!"

The silence was heavy enough to break the back of a s'redit (fantastic beasts she had heard of by rumor); Kat kept currying the horses' coats as the Trainee went about his business gathering kindling to start the fire himself.

With the horses rubbed down, fed and watered, it was time to see to her "bondmate"; the woman looked up with her large dark eyes as Kat approached. "Aes Sedai, I don't suppose you know where your tent has been packed?"

Meti glanced over at the other Aes Sedai, all of which seemed to stare into their teacups at precisely the same moment. With a aplomb that could have done the Amyrlin Seat proud, Meti replied, "No, I'm not sure it was even packed."

The bond provided Kat with no evidence the woman was jesting with her. Calm exuded from her countenance, from the bond. Grumbling something about finding the tent, Kat stalked off, irritated that the woman couldn't even bother to care if she'd have shelter or not. And after a quarter of hour of precious searching, it seemed that whoever had been in charge of providing shelter for her Aes Sedai had failed spectacularly.

Returning, Kat was welcomed by another round of curious, blank stares, this time the deepening firelight washing their faces with a warm glow. "Ah, Meti Sedai—" Kat bent down to her knee before the woman and leaned in close to speak softly. "Your tent was never packed."


"It wasn't packed. Can you—well, I've seen things done with Air, maybe you could use that tonight until we can make other arrangements?" Kat hated asking the woman this, wincing as she did so.

"Out of the question." The response was sharply spoken, but not toward Kat. At least she guessed it wasn't. "My strength isn't in Air."

Sighing, Kat rose. "All right. I'll set up my tent for you, it's not as large as you would have, but it'll be something at least. Walking off, Kat tried not to think about what sort of chill would be in the air tonight without the shelter of her own tent.

Her swords rose and fell as they came through the air, each blade acting on its own yet spiraling in a dance with the other. It was like saidin and saidar, each separate and alone and yet not complete without the other half. Cat Dances on the Wall cut both her blades through the air, a series of slashes and thrusts, parrying imaginary swords. The Kingfisher Takes a Silverback paired The River Undercuts the Bank. Step turn. Leopard's Caress danced along Kissing the Adder.

Back and forth she danced through the forms. Arc of the Moon and Black Pebbles on Snow, Cutting the Clouds moved alongside The Rose Unfolds. Each form was performed with skill, though Kat knew that it would be many years before she'd call herself an expert in her dual blades.

When her arms couldn't take any more, when the blisters popped after spending too little time with the soft leather wrapped hilts, Kat sank to the ground in an easy squat, watching as the Aethan'Tar sparred with their lathes, as other Sei'Tar matched themselves against opponents. None of the Gaidin or Gaidar were in anything less than full motion, their bodies lithe and fluid as they practiced at swords, quarterstaffs, even using just their hands and feet. It was fascinating to watch them move, wondering if she would ever become like them and if Aethan'Tar watched her with the awe she held for the Gaidin.

Sheathing her swords, the darkness complete except for the fires that dotted their camp, Kat propped herself up next to the tent that was hers, but she didn't occupy, feeling Meti inside, asleep and at peace. It was a feeling that Kat didn't feel as she tried to keep one eye always open and alert for danger she knew wouldn't come. Not with a group of Aethan'Tar still green behind the ears.

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    • What Would Warders Wonder? — Kat Tenzin Sei'Tar, Mon Dec 11 13:58
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