Writing Challenge, day 2, a WoT fanfiction

Bear with me, everyone, this one was long!  Of course, it took me quite a while to even begin to figure what kind of fanfiction to do.  So, for your reading pleasure, a Wheel of Time fanfic set in the Fourth Age.

 

The Wheel turns and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend.  Legend fades to myth and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.  In one Age, called the Fourth Age, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind swept down the Dragonmount.  The wind was not the beginning.  There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time.  But it was a beginning.

The wind swept down the steep sides of the Dragonmount to whirl over the island city of Tar Valon.  It wasn’t what it had once been, it was more than it ever was.  Through the city it whistled, around buildings as ancient as the end of the Second Age and buildings whose Ogier masons still toiled.  On it blew to hurl itself against the White Tower.

In the previous Age, it stood tall and unblemished, a beacon in the growing dark.  For some it had been salvation, but for others, terror.  In that time, the Tower had only opened its doors to women channelers, before the Dragon Reborn, Rand al’Thor, and the great sister of the Yellow Ajah, el’Nynaeve ti’al’Meara Mandragoran, had cleansed the Dark One’s taint from saidin.  In the days of the Dragon Reborn, a second Tower was built, the Black Tower, and men gained their training there.  Now the two Towers stood as the One Power, together but with separate purposes.  Sometimes they stood in accord and others…  Well, other times they tended their own.

But today none of those concerns were a matter for Shatesse Tournam.  She was tall and wide-hipped, heavily built from her years of training with the Warders of the White Tower.  Saldaea was stamped on her face in the high cheek bones and slanted green eyes, and in the burning red of her hair.  Despite being surrounded by thousands of channelers, she gave little consideration to the One Power.  Most days she had little time for anything except her training.  Most days.

But tomorrow was Bel Tine and even the strictest, most stuffy Aes Sedai wouldn’t stop the joyful welcome of spring.  Why, just that morning she’d seen a full contingent of shawl-wearing women tittering like novices over some of the older trainees.  Those who eyed her male compatriots amused her and the female Aes Sedai and Accepted – and occasional Novice that slipped to the training fields – that preferred her and the other Silverbows made her blush.  Silverbows were women training with the Warders, so named for the first female Warder. Of course, the male Aes Sedai made her uncomfortable.  Some like to joke and tease, but others would just stand and watch.  She felt sympathy in those times for her brothers-in-arms that spoke of being hunted.

Today, though, her lessons had finished early and the Master of Arms had canceled her afternoon class to co-opt her students, all first year recruits, to help set up for the feasting the following night.  Before he could find chores for her idle hands, she slipped into her barracks for a quick wash and change of clothes before slipping out again.

She’d been in the Tar Valon and the Tower for five years now and she knew her way into places where trainees like herself didn’t belong.  Some halls had to be walked as if you belonged, while others required a stealth that would make her teachers proud.  If she wasn’t sneaking into the male Accepteds’ garden.  If they knew she was here, she’d likely spend a month wilding in the northern territories.  She grinned at herself as she took a moment to survey her surroundings.  Better the northern territories in summer than winter and a visit home was never amiss.  Besides, the punishment was well worth the risk.  She moved through the deep shadow of a spreading oak, her eyes searching for movement on the lower floors of the walkway that faced the garden.  Seeing no movement, she hoisted herself onto a lower limb and climbed until she settled herself comfortable in the notch of two branches.  She could see the door she was looking for as well as three others that led from the Tower proper to this set of bedrooms.  She gave a soft sigh of contentment and prepared to wait for her quarry to appear.

She dozed without meaning to and had to spend several moments reorienting herself and figuring how long she’d slept by the shifting of shadows, as she had no clear sight of the sun.  She was deciding her chance wasted when a quiet hissing sounded just below her.  Before she could shift to locate the source of the sound, a hand closed over her ankle.  She struck out even as she considered it might well be an Aes Sedai or one of her instructors.

When her foot struck flesh, though, she recognized the masculine grunt she got in return.  Her chuckle spilled out, warm and bright and when he released her, she slipped down to where he knelt, frowning and rubbing his ribs.  “Mother’s milk, Tess, you could’ve killed me,” he grumbled with only a hint of his homeland in his voice.

Jomash Degor was tall for a man of Andor, but there was little else to mark him different from his fellows, his hair was a rich brown, shades darker than his eyes.  He claimed to have come from the Two Rivers, the same lands of the Dragon Reborn, Lord Perrin Aybara, and General Mat Cauthon, but she wondered how many Andoran boys first from home also made the same claim, especially those who wielded saidin.  Still, she never challenged his claim; she rather liked him, all the same.  When he finally had exhausted his colorful vocabulary, she batted her lashes at him.  “Should we rush you to Nynaeve Sedai?  Have I broken you so, my poor Jom?”  Though her tone was sweet, he was as well aware of her teasing as she was herself.

“Enough of you, silly girl.  And here I came to wake you before one of the others found you and reported you to the Master of Arms.  Or worse, the Mistress of Novices!”  That he sounded genuinely more impressed with the Mistress of Novices spoke of his place within the Tower as much as her own belief that the woman couldn’t be as bad as the Master of Arms in a rage.  He did his best to regain his dignity, of which he possessed much, she had to admit, even as he tried to still her amusement with a slanted look.

“You will have to practice much harder if you are to achieve the Aes Sedai imperiousness, Jom.  Or maybe you will never have it with me.  I too easily remember the boy set to scrubbing pots in the kitchen for setting fire to a fellow Novice’s dress because she pulled your hair or some such.  It makes it hard for you to maintain your dignity with me, however hard you try.”  Her words held no cruelty, but there was no doubt of the laughter that bounded through each phrase.  In truth, she’d seen him silence an entire class of tittering Novices with the same look, every one looking as if he or she had swallowed their tongue the minute he’d turned that flat stare upon them.  But he had come to the Tower a mere year before she had arrived and was hardly more than that older than she.

He gave up his glaring and gave a world-weary sigh, as if much put upon.  “I don’t know why I put up with such a mouth as yours, or why I ever expect proper respect from a Saldaean farm girl.”  She saw amusement begin to fill the depths of his eyes even as she debated being offended by his words.  She gave him a shove and leaped from her perch to the ground.  He followed her with less grace, but no less competence.  She admired the way he moved and that, though he was a scholar and a wielder of saidin, he did not forsake martial arts as some Accepted did.  As they both straightened in the enclosed branches of the oak, she appreciated the way he was able to stand over her.  He was no Aielman, but he still managed to dwarf her.  He reached out and toyed with the ends of her hair almost absently.  “I do hope that you were planning on saving me a dance tomorrow night,” he finally murmured.

With another warm, rich chuckle, she leaned against him lightly.  “Well, I was considering it.”

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