The Chair of Remorse
In his Accepted's quarters, Sven busied himself sorting the few things he could call his own. Finally he had received his sword again, and he held it to the wall with tied off weaves of Air over his bed. A simple rug lighted from the Jerim place lay over the middle of the room near his bed; next to the window a dresser, an assortment of daggers spread about upon it, waiting to be ordered and stocked within the drawers.
And next to the dresser, a wash basin with a large stand mirror, cornered by a wardrobe with different Accepted tunics, as well as a few of his own suits. But the image in the mirror was what now caught his attention.
Through his tunic, little of his bulk could be seen, but every time he undressed, he saw himself in the mirror, lumpy and thick, not the hard man he once was. Sighing, he would rub his gut and make a promise to have it gone soon, but he hardly ever found the time to exercise.
"Why not now?" he thought out loud, and shrugged, doffing everything save his under shorts. Lying out on the rug, he began to do stomach crunches, grunting at the strain. Next free chance he got, he would have to begin his daily sword practice.
It wasn't long, however, before the monotony of stomach crunches got to him, and he quickly moved to push ups, which didn't last long either. Muttering, he stood and picked up a pair of daggers, twirling them in his grasp as if they were nothing more then sticks. Holding them both with blades pointing down, he moved into a stance not unlike that of a brawler's.
His blade would sing as it sliced through the air, moving upwards, and the other would respond moving diagonal. He would move his hands so quick they blurred, and wherever his opponent would be, he would have been sliced to ribbons.
Twirling the blades again so their tips pointed up, he thrust them both forward at the same time. It was a blessed release to do what he did best, and he lost himself in the swipes and slices, the coinciding movements that would incapacitate or kill an enemy.
When finally he had done this long enough, he gracefully slid until he was in a near bow, as if in a duel, twirling the daggers among his fingertips as he straightened, catching them finally by the blade and holding them up. With a small smile, he tossed them on the bed. It was then that he heard the knock, and grumbled. Arwyn had been bugging him for a while now.
"Damned Light-blinded harlot," he said, gripping his handle. "Whatever it is, piss off, because-" he stopped as the figure he expected turned out to be Soutrik, raising her brows at his figurative language. Muttering about his luck, he motioned for her to enter. "Please, be at home," he said with a small, wry smile.
Her nightmares had all but ceased, yet they had been replaced with dreams of Sven GoldenSwan. Always in these dreams he was her protector or she his, from some unseen darkness that surrounded them both, stirring in the shadows waiting to swallow them. Some moments they fought together, some moments against each other, but always ending with embraces and loyalty to each other rather to anyone else. She had felt these dreams were very odd when compared with the nightmares, and she was looking forward to meeting with Aeilla Sedai to discuss dream interpretation. Sven had agreed to come with her and tonight seemed as good a night as any to discuss this with him.
Her day had been a long one and she stretched her back and shoulders wishing she had had a chance today to get some exercise in. Lessons were interesting but she had never been one to be idle. Living aboard the Sea Folk vessel and working in the rigging was hard work. Her body was well toned, but these last few months at the Tower had really not lent themselves to intense physical labor like the rigging work did. Sighing about her inactivity she made her way down to the Accepted’s wing and started counting doorways. She had asked some snooty Accepted Arwyn which room Sven’s was as she had never been to his Accepted quarters before. The woman was snooty and nosy asking questions as to why Soutrik was going to see him. Being that Soutrik had been ingrained over the last year to always answer questions put to her by her superiors, and Arwyn being Accepted was her superior. She had curtseyed and politely told the Accepted as little as she could about Sven being requested for a meeting with Aeilla Sedai tomorrow, and that had been that. The Accepted hadn’t even waited for her to rise from her curtsey before dismissing her without another thought. Soutrik shook off the unfriendliness of the snooty Accepted Arwyn and counted the doors as she walked down the hallway.
Reaching Sven’s door, she rapped upon it briskly as was her fashion. From inside though she heard vehement cursing, "Damned Light-blinded harlot! Whatever it is, piss off, because-" Sven stopped when he opened the door and realized it was Soutrik. Muttering something about his luck, he motioned for her to enter. "Please, be at home," he said with a small, wry smile.
Soutrik was not at all shocked but she was intrigued, “And to whom may I ask were you addressing that little rant?” Her eyebrows raised in a questioning yet teasing look.
“Ah…ummm…” Sven mumbled and turned to give Soutrik space to enter his room. She swished past him towards the center of his room near his bed and came to stand upon a beautifully crafted yet simple rug.
“It is not necessary for you to answer every question I put to you, Sven. That way you will remain my man of mystery.” She smiled at him sweetly and crinkled her nose. She realized he was wearing only his under shorts and that she was staring at them. She blushed deeply and looked up at his face. He still wore the earring that she had given him in his left ear, and it made her feel fabulous, and wanted.
As he turned to shut the door he twisted from the waist up, through his upper torso, and obviously pulled some muscle that was already sore and sucked a little air through gritted teeth. Soutrik looked at him and realized he was in some kind of pain.
“Have you hurt yourself? Come let me rub your back and neck….it looks like you are favoring your left arm. Here lay down on the bed and let me rub it.” He winced a little as she shooed him towards the bed and mumbled something under his breath. “What? Oh, never mind, I know you love to grumble at me under your breath.” She laughed at his grumbles and thought them quite charming.
Reaching down to the back hem of her dress she pulled it forward through her legs to the front side. Then she pulled it straight up and tucked it in her white sash belt that she was wearing to creating voluminous short pants that were hiked up to well above her knee exposing most of her legs. “Here, lay face down on the bed, and let me rub your back.”
Sven lay face down on the bed arms at his sides and slightly out, still in his under shorts. Soutrik crawled behind him on the bed and sat just below his bottom wrapping her legs around his upper thighs so she could put pressure on his back easily.
Beginning with her hands flat, fingers facing, but not touching the spine on Sven’s mid to lower back, Soutrik began to press up Sven’s back to his neck, where she turned, circling the shoulders, and returning to the top of his back fingers pressing his sides. She went down towards his waist and returned to her original position at the small of his back.
She enjoyed the smoothness of his back while her hands glided across it. But, what she enjoyed most of all were the little moans that came from him indicating to her that she had found some spots of tension and pain, and she was relaxing them so he did not hurt any longer. She repeated the circulation movement ten times. The last few times through she varied it a bit by rotating her hands in tiny circles as she returned along the sides of his back.
Soutrik knew from somewhere deep back in her memories that she had done this before and was highly skilled at this type of massage. She also knew that pressing the back was probably the single most dramatic stroke in massage. Like circulation, back pressing engaged all three of the large muscle groups. In a few impressive passes it can relax a massive part of the body, the center of the back and at the same time it stimulated the spinal nerve bundles. Additionally somewhere in her memories, she knew that there was a direct connection between the spine and all internal organs.
“Sometimes using the Power to Heal is unnecessary. Simple massage can indeed improve the health of the patient.” A woman with a high-pitched monotone voice lectured while rubbing the back of a person laying face down on a massage table. She continued, “Massaging this area of the back can profoundly affect the health of the entire body, and certainly improve circulation.”
Soutrik started again at the base of Sven’s spine using the heel of each of her hands. Pressing up moderately hard along the parallel ridges of muscles and into the indentation next to spinal cord itself. She leaned forward as she pressed, turning at the shoulder blades and returning as she did before in the circulation stroke, except this time working her thumbs into the indentation between the spine and the muscle. Again she repeated this motion ten times.
She watched as Sven shuddered slightly and moaned with what she perceived to be delight when she pressed up along his spine. As was common, one side of Sven’s back was stiffer that the other. She concentrated all of her pressure on the stiff side of his back, his left side, by pressing just that side with one hand on top of the other. She used her thumbs along the spine on the press stroke as well as on the return feeling each vertebrae roll off the end of her thumb but concentrating most of her pressure in the valley between muscle and spine.
“Sven, I need you to breath with me.” His back was rising and falling evenly, rhythmically. She saw that giving him this pleasure with her hands this way was kind of a dance really, One partner active, the other passive, two bodies moving together in time and pleasure.
Pressing her hands flat at the base of his spine one more time she held them there timing his breaths and hers. Without moving up his back she pressed her hands down with each exhalation and let it rise as his took his breath in. “Okay, now, I need you to exaggerate your breathing, Sven.”
She began to think back and the voice in her head spoke to her, her training coming through it, ”All life is motion. Let your partner take a deep breath and press up the back. Push air out of his lungs. Turn at the top of the back and, when he begins to inhale, pull back up along the sides. Press down again into the stroke when he begins to exhale. You can follow the breathing until you’re in time with your partner. Dance together in the oldest rhythm: breath.”
She began to do all of her different back massage techniques: The Press, The Crab, The Rocking Chair. She tried Back Compression- Hand Together and Hands Opposed, and Deep Stroking the Back, Swimming, Kneading the Back, The Scissors, Rotating the Shoulder, Shoulder Curling, Shoulder Kneading, Thumbs Strokes for the Lower Neck, Kneading the Back of the Neck. Sven was too tall and heavy for her to try the Back Lift so she skipped it and did Warming the Back, and then Back and Body Brushing.
“How do you feel, Sven?” She leaned over him from behind and whispered softly in his ear.
“Hmmmm, that feels SO good? Where did you learn that?” Sven sounded very relaxed and by resting her hands on his back she could tell his muscles were now very loose.
“If I tell you, how do I retain MY mystery.” She threw her head back and giggled lightly, swinging her leg over his back and briefly kneeled beside his laid out body on the bed. She stepped onto the floor and stood upright stretching herself in her normal fashion. Her eye caught a glimpse of a curved dagger on Sven’s dresser and she walked over to it, eyeing it before picking it up.
Sven rolled onto his side and propped his head up on his hand and looked at her as she appraised the curved dagger.
Sliding off his bed, Sven marveled at how loose he felt, working his shoulders and giving a snort of approval. He walked over to Soutrik as she eyed one of his daggers, bashfully putting a hand on her shoulder as he stood behind her.
"Nice craftsmanship," she said, and he quirked a brow. Indeed it was good craftsmanship, but it took someone well versed in weaponry to tell that.
"Its all right I suppose," he said and watched her as she examined it. Picking up a long thin throwing knife, he walked to the wall and leaned against it, still watching her curiously. "What do you know about knives?" He asked condescendingly, but gave her a grin to show he was joking. Apparently she knew something. Smirking, she held the dagger in a stabbing position and walked closer to him.
"Oh, not much, being a woman and all." She said with a wry grin.
"Is that so?" He said with a smirk and pushed off the wall. Walking past her, he suddenly turned and struck at her, blade aimed at her chest. He wasn't very shocked when her arm shot up to block him. Smirking, he moved back, spinning so he faced her. Channeling Air (and regretting it a little) he covered the dagger in a protective shield; the worse it could do would bruise her. He told her to do the same.
Standing still, he awaited for her to attack, but at first she just moved about him with that swishing walk that had a tendency to distract him. It seemed she noticed, for she put more swish into her walk and smirked. Finally she leaped forward, dagger striking towards his neck like a viper. His arm met her wrist and pushed it away, and he stepped in to stab at her stomach. Gracefully, she spun to the side, their arms parting.
From the corner of his eye he saw her move forward towards his back, and he stepped aside so her dagger arm went past him. Again he hooked her arm in his, this time pulling her so she spun like a top. Both of their arms wrapped around her, and he put the Air shielded blade against her throat. Grinning triumphantly, Sven looked down at her. Before he could say anything, however, he felt her elbow slam into his ribs, and he moved back with a cough. She didn't even turn, and kicked him in the solar plexus.
The air rushing out of his body, he stumbled back and looked up at her, seeing her in a new light. Sucking in air, he channeled another dagger from the dresser to his other hand, and she did the same. Wrapping the new dagger in Air, he held himself ready. She did the same, in a stance he had never seen before, one hand hanging over head the other down at the side, like a scorpion ready to strike. Lifting his brows, he smiled at her.
"This should be interesting."
Soutrik watched Sven’s light and easy grip on his two blades and assessed his balance. She felt for a man of his size and weight that his balance was good, but she could see that he was favoring his left side as if protecting it. Her concentration was not as it should be though, due to his state of undress. She eyed him from head to toe. His gleaming black hair hung around his neck and face, and his wonderfully bright green eyes squinted at her as if assessing her too. His broad chest and large pectoral muscles had a few scars, and there was one noticeable, rather large scar on his left side ribcage.
Ah, he has been stabbed in the ribs before! For another moment her feelings for him flooded into her. She wanted to ask if he got that scar on his side from some duel or bar brawl. She wanted to reach out to him and touch the old wound, and ask about the pain he had felt, and how he had survived have a knife stuck in his side like that. The part of her that longed to Heal people, and especially him, worried about if she should continue with this little play fight. She did not want to re-open an old wound. He knows what he is doing! He is perfectly fine with this. Don’t you go soft now! She struggled to regain her focus and looked at him again. Oh, he is beautiful!
The thickish matte of black curly hair on his chest shouted his manhood despite the gut that loomed below it. She could not look lower and she felt her cheeks flush. Soutrik shook off the feelings that were again starting to rise, and readied herself, considering her options for attack and methods of defense against an opponent Sven’s size. He was much taller than she, and considerably muscular. He will have strength to his blows, but might not move as quick as I. I will need to use my diminutive size and my speed to my advantage.
Somewhere in her memories she a man’s voice described how to attack an opponent that had the advantage of height, weight and strength. How to turn the perceived advantages to disadvantages was her tactical mindset. Soutrik thought about it and decided that she was going to attack his left side and only his left. That should through him off balance, ay? The voice echoed in her head….
Aloysha’s father strode around his kneeling teenage daughter, with two curved daggers in his hand. She was dressed in her tight pants, and tank top like shirt. She was waiting for the attack to begin, fingering her own two curved daggers, and knew he was lecturing her and pacing to throw her off guard. “Aloysha, when you know that you are out matched, you strike and can create a stalemate, and thus all your moves prove to stop the other persons attacks, but never gets you to winning position.” Her father took a step towards her slashing with a dagger and she blocked it with and upward swipe. He stepped back and continued to lecture. She continued to kneel waiting.
Aloysha thought I am out matched by father’s size. If I can just stay a head of him making him attack and defend on his weaker side again and again, I may be able to wear him down. He might then become tired, and let down his guard. Then I shall attack with full force!
“I see, daughter, planning my demise are you. Always the tactical mind. Good. Now, defend yourself!” Her father lunged at her and she heard him suck air through his teeth as she hit him in the ribs with her elbow.
Soutrik focused on Sven blocking her feelings for him and concentrating on planning his demise as if he were a blood-sworn enemy. Well of course when you are the smaller person you must use tactics rather than brute strength! Aloysha’s voice spoke to Soutrik and caressed her mind. Soutrik rubbed the side of her nose without the nose chain with her thumb, extended her arm towards Sven, and gave him the ‘bring it on’ backwards finger wave.
Sven twirled his blades in a threatening way, standing straight with his arms out to his sides. Soutrik did a little foot shuffle, and swished her hips to tease Sven, and distract him. Her skirt was still tucked in her sash and her curvaceous supple legs were fully exposed. She hoped to use that to her advantage, too. She stood posed with her right arm over head holding the curved dagger outward to the right side with her left arm down a her side and the other curved dagger point outward and forward to the left. Strike the pose of Impending Death!
Sven looked at ease with his arms stretched out at his sides and pointing down a little, blades held loosely. With her fastest speed, Soutrik jumped forward, shifting her weight and sliding onto her left knee across the floor in front of Sven, extending her right leg and foot in a swiping arch towards Sven’s left ankle, to trip Sven's left leg, bringing her right dagger down and under towards his ribs on his left side while raising her left arm in a defensive position. If he fell, he would be ‘injured’ in the same spot that she had noticed had the large scar. She thanked the Light that he had bound the blades with a cushion of Air and would not really hurt him. She hoped he would not fall so easily. I want a man that is worthy of sheaving his blade in my heart. Strike hard, Sven, and defend yourself. Her mind raced and she focused intently grunting a Sharan attack phrase all the while.
Sven, seeing no way around this sort of attack that he was unfamiliar with, retreated backwards a few paces out of range. Ever on the offensive with a secret defense in tow, Soutrik tucked into a forward roll and came up with both arms extended towards Sven's groin and left leg, daggers forward.
I must stay low to the ground and use his height against him. Make him fight downward not outward. Sven leaped over her, hitting the ground and rolling across the crapped Accepted quarters and onto the rug in front of his bed, coming up on the other side of her. Turning, he threw out his hands and held the daggers ready.
Soutrik jumped up from the crouching roll position and kicked outward towards Sven’s head, using his nose as the target, to force Sven backwards. Sven grabbed hold of her foot and pushed it up and back towards her. Soutrik seeing her error, threw her weight up with her other leg and did a split leg back flip in mid-air recovering in a springy standing ready position facing Sven. She smiled at him thinking about how good he was on the defensive. She watched him flex the muscles in his arms and chest slightly, and calculated the risk of another forward attack. Thinking better of it and not really wanting to egg him on into attacking her, she again extended her arm and gave him the ‘bring it on’ backwards finger wave, but this time she blew Sven a kiss with it.
Sven snorted, and grinned at her with a quirked brow. Soutrik tossed the Air bound daggers onto Sven’s bed and swished towards him. “Let’s save this for another day. Okay, then?” Sven’s grin turned to a smile.
Quirking his brow as she walked to him, he tossed his daggers to the bed as well.
“Let’s save this for another day. Okay, then?” Wagging his brows, Sven nodded.
"I'd say a nice session is in order," he said wryly. "That t’was quite interesting, and I would be delighted if we could explore this again. Soon, hopefully." Grinning, he walked forward and past her, Cat Cross the Courtyard, towards his bed and collection the daggers. Slicing the weaves for the shields, he set them on the dresser where they belonged.
He heard her move around behind him, and when he finally turned she was swishing towards him with a sly grin on her face. Lifting his brows, Sven stood still as she advanced.
"Something I can help you with, lass?" He said wryly, and she nodded. Snorting a laugh, he began to move forward, but she blocked his way. "Light," he grumbled nervously and looked at her. Sighing, he put his hands on her shoulders and leaned in. It was then that the door was knocked on, and Arwyn entered without an invitation. "There's the bloody harlot," he grumbled, looking up at her. Soutrik turned to, a disappointed look on her face. Arwyn's was classic.
"What are you doing in here, Novice?" Arwyn said to Soutrik in an angry tone. The novice began to answer uncertainly.
"My guest, Arwyn," Sven said, and Arwyn sneered for a split second. "If you'll excuse us, I was having a conversation with the novice Soutrik." Arwyn pursed her lips before nodding and making an exit. Turning back to Soutrik with a sour look on his face, he shrugged his brows. "Some people you have to slap in the face to get your point across." He looked at the door where Arwyn had been. "Of course, sometimes it takes more." Soutrik chuckled, and he drew in a breath, looking down at her. "So, where were we?"
"Of course, sometimes it takes more." Soutrik chuckled, and he drew in a breath, looking down at her. "So, where were we?"
Soutrik smiled as she looked up at him, his beautiful green eyes sparkling in the lamp light. They shined so brightly that the emerald studded golden hoop earring that he wore in his left ear seemed dull by comparison. Soutrik reached up with her dainty hands and twined a strand of Sven's raven black hair around her fingers, still staring deeply into his eyes. She sighed at him. He was so wonderfully beautiful to her. He filled her with excitement, and a thrust for adventure. In her memories, she could not think of man like Svenson. He was special and different somehow.
Sven leaned in close to her and lightly brushed her cheek with his lips, goatee tickling her slightly. She hugged his broad chest to her closely and his arms entwined around her petite frame. Soutrik's hand went to Sven's neck and shoulders and rubbed them while he held her in his arms stroking her back.
"Magic fingers, no?" Soutrik purred into Sven's ear.
"I would like it if we had a date to spar. You have wonderful reflexes, darling one." Soutrik continued to work on Sven's neck and shoulders with her hands while she tilted her head to the side so that Sven could continue to nuzzle her neck. "I should hope not to hurt you though when we do spar." She giggled lightly and the nuzzling on her neck stopped and Sven looked at her with a wry smile and a quirked brow, his hands still caressing the small of her back.
"Perhaps you can Heal me after you beat me?" Sven said in a slightly mocking tone, smiling at her and widening his eyes in mock surprise.
Soutie narrowed her eyes at him and pinched his cheek. "Such a sarcastic one are you?." She smiled as he rolled his eyes at her with a snort. Grasping both her hands in his, he gently kissed her fingers, then palms. "Mmmm, you really do have magic fingers." He nibbled at them lightly, "Tasty too." She giggled. Sven asked, "Where did you learn that?"
"Would you like me to teach you how it is done someday?" Soutrik delighted in Sven's gentle affection.
"Aye. Now?" Sven said as he continued down Soutrik's wrists and arms towards her neck again.
"Well, we really don't have time right now for that." Soutrik wished they did have time, for that and other things, but she had come here originally intending for him to come with her to Aeilla's study. Ohhh, but I don't want this to end! "We should get going to Aeilla's to discuss the dreams."
Sven relented, reluctant as Soutrik. "Then I guess that we have yet another date...of a different kind." Soutrik smiled at the tall, handsome man she had in front of her, not wanting this moment to end, but knowing that it must. "May I help you get dressed?" She grinned as she quirked her brow and eyed the mostly naked Sven before her.
Blushing, Sven snorted and quirked his brow back at her. Without waiting for a response, Soutrik swished to the armoire and opened it, removing a tunic and leggings for him. She made a mental note that he liked long coats, and black.
Soutirk swished back to Sven's side, Accepted's attire in hand, and held out his clothing for him. Sven gladly took it and dressed. Soutrik tried not to eye him while he got into his clothing, but it was especially difficult for her. Her memory flashed back to the evening he had chased her naked through the GateWay, and she blushed at remembering how he had watched her put on the bodyguard's clothes. "Tit for tat." She said under her breath with a mischievous grin. Sven looked at her a little wide-eyed, imitation shock on his face.
Grabbing her in one more hug, Sven inhaled deeply and said, "Okay, let's go." He snuffed the lamp with a Flow of Air and the pair left his Accepted's quarters and headed for Aeilla Sedai's study.
They walked mostly in silence holding hands down the empty Accepted's corridor until they reached the main passage and Sven let go of her hand. Soutrik looked up at him and wondered if it were not acceptable for them to be holding hands. Two Aes Sedai wrapped in conversation passed them, and Sven bowed, and Soutrik curtseyed. They continued to walk to Aeilla's study, and when the Aes Sedai were out of sight Sven picked up Soutrik's hand again and gave it a small squeeze. She understood perfectly.
Approaching Aeilla's door, Soutrik turned to Sven, "Thank you for coming with me. There may be some difficult things for you to hear in this room tonight." She squeezed his hand tightly and beheld the determined yet comforting look on his face.
"Allow me." Sven reached up and knocked three times on the door to the Keeper's study, determined and undaunted.
Sighing, Aeilla put her papers down and opened the door. She really did not need to be disturbed now; but what could you do? When she opened the door and found both Sven and Soutrik outside, she accepted them in without question. Madeline had already let her know that Soutrik would visit her sometime soon, and it was about time, in Aeilla's opinion. And besides, Aeilla wanted to know what was going on with Soutrik. Perhaps she could discern some of the truth for the girl.
"Soutrik. Good to see you. How are you doing?" she said, speaking the usual welcoming phrases, "Are you content in the White Tower?" Soutrik glanced at Sven, and beamed. He smiled shyly. "Do sit, both of you." She indicated two chairs standing in front of her desk, but she motioned for them to move the chairs over to the fireplace. A large, soft chair was already standing by the unlit inbuilt fireplace, and in this Aeilla seated herself as the two trainees dragged the chairs to the fireplace.
Embracing the Source, Aeilla channeled briefly into the fireplace, Fire to light the logs within. A flame began to build itself on the wood, and soon they were encompassing all the logs in a merry, warm dance. The Keeper let go of the weave, and still the flames danced. But she kept saidar firmly in her grasp. She wondered what Soutrik would think of this act, but she did not care. If this alter-ego of Soutrik appeared, Aeilla would have to shield her at once. She was ready for such actions.
"Soutrik," she said. "Madeline Sedai has alerted me of your wish to speak with a Brown Aes Sedai. Well, here I am. I know of your problems; but I wish you to relate them to me as carefully as you can, tell me what you know, to give both you and me a clear view of what we are facing here."
Soutrik took a deep breath and began to explain things, the only way she knew how…from the beginning.
“Well, Aeilla Sedai, I don’t have many memories, or understanding of the memories I do have from my life prior to when the Sea Folk found me floating in a barrel. Apparently, I come from Shara, although I really can’t say that I know that I do for certain. For some reason, which is still unclear to me, I was on a boat about a year and a half ago along the trade route between Illian and Shara. Working with Accepted Melanna, who by the way is going to make an excellent Brown Sister, she says she owes most of her training to you, she has helped me piece together that aboard this ship, I was some sort of a prisoner or captive, or stowaway. Anyway, aboard this ship, I was shield from the One Power by some rather inexperienced woman. She shield me, many hands held me down, and I was gang raped.” Soutrik paused and held back tears as the memories filled her mind. Sven reached out and grasped her hand that was resting in her lap.
She tried smiling at him, but it was difficult. She was happy he was there though to lend her support from his great internal strength. She continued, “I have memories of working on the badly constructed knot, but I don’t know how I did it. I probably could not do it again right now, but my former self could, and thus I have memories of that and of using Pharma’shutil, I believe you call it balefire, to free myself from these people who were hurting me. I don’t remember how, but I came to be floating in a barrel. The Sea Folk found me, and adopted me as their own. I have lived as one of them for a little over a year now. They brought me here after a sleepwalking incident aboard ship. I channeled and disturbed the crew.”
Soutrik felt a slight squeeze from Sven’s hand. She continued on relating her first days at the Tower, and the mishap in the Fountain Garden with the Gaidin in Training, Brazz, and Lyra Sedai. She went on to relate about how Madeline Sedai had placed Accepted Melanna in her quarters to watch her, but how that did not stop what had happened the night that she had opened the GateWay.
“I am very lucky that Accepted Sven was there that night, or I may not have survived the ordeal. Sven, would you mind telling Aeilla Sedai about what happened?” Soutrik was struggling to hide her emotion, and she didn’t know if she could relate what happened to Mattile, or the Ayyd without crying. Her heart was pounding and her shook slightly recalling the man who knifed her in the stomach, and Sven’s bravery in saving her. She looked up at Sven for some emotional support.
Giving Soutrik's hand a squeeze, he sighed a breath and nodded to Aiella Sedai.
"That night, I was walking through the Tower, and I came across Soutrik walking about in a trance. When I approached her, she called me by a name I didn't recognize, 'Jackobar.'" He felt Soutrik squeeze his hand. "She thought I was this person, and out of curiosity, I played along. She called herself Aloysha, and spoke of Ayyad, and various other things.
"We began to argue, a heated discussion about what I cannot remember, and she turned to run. I grabbed onto her shift to stop her, but the thin fabric ripped apart." He managed a wry glance at Soutrik, who blushed slightly. "Anyway, she channeled a GateWay open and leaped through. Accepted Malanna held it open and I followed Soutrik, into some well furnished building." He remembered killing the guards, and pondered on whether to tell her of that. His better judgment prevailed. "We had to fight three channelers, who were Ayyad from what I've gathered from Soutrik.
"Soutrik and I linked, and we fought the Ayyad back with Soutrik's bracelets."
"How did you fight them back?" Aiella asked, and Sven sighed.
"I killed them," he said quickly, watching closely Aiella's reaction. "We made our way back to the GateWay, and Soutrik was attacked as we were. I healed her as best I could, but she needed the attentions of a serious Yellow. The last thing I remember that night was crawling back to my room, too exhausted to do more then turn out the lamps." With that, he let go of Soutrik's hand, not pleased with having to relate this story to an Aes Sedai.
Giving Soutrik's hand a squeeze, he sighed a breath and nodded to Aiella Sedai.
Soutrik was sure that Sven was not happy that he had to relate that story to the Aes Sedai, but she could not see why he did not see his extraordinary bravery in rescuing her from certain harm or death. He did not see his courage and his thoughts of her safety regardless of the cost to his own. Did the man not know how special that was, that he could set aside care for his own life and go after her into a terrifying unknown land? Soutrik felt him release her hand and she looked up at him with a concerned face.
“Aeilla Sedai. I owe my life to this man.” Realization of the entire situation hit Soutrik like a ton of bricks. Her dreams! She owed this man, Svenson, her life and in her nightmares she murders him over and over again.
“What I am about to tell you, makes me very worried and upset, Aeilla Sedai.” Soutrik looked from Sven to Aeilla with an extremely serious face. “These dreams that I have. They do not feel like dreams. They feel like reality. They are real in everyone way save one. This is what makes these dreams so disturbing. I feel I must related them to you, clearly.” Soutrik looked at Sven and he was looking down at Aeilla’s Sedai’s desk. Not smirking, not snorting, or mumbling, just deadly serious. Soutrik began to relate her first dream….
Soutrik finished relating the dream. She took a breath and looked at Aeilla Sedai squarely in the face and began to tell the second dream. Finishing the second dream, Soutrik realized that Sven is looking at her. He had an odd expression on his face. She put her hands to her stomach. She knew that it would only get worse. She had told Sven the dreams contents, but not in every detail before. Having to describe that last part to Aeilla was very painful for Soutrik, and that Sven had to sit and listen to this. He was so being so caring and understanding. Her heart pounded as she had to tell the next dream.
Practically reliving the dream in a trance like state, Soutrik could not help herself and she screamed out, “Oh, Light! Save him!” She gasped and blinked and realized that she had fallen into a trance when telling the story and had gotten caught up in the emotion of the experience all over again and lived her last thoughts out load instead of in her mind. She grabbed a quick breath.
“I am sorry Aeilla Sedai, Sven, this is very difficult for me.” Soutrik shivered a little. The dreams were real. This was her past, or was it to be her future too. What dark force like the Ayyad could force her to hurt Sven or betray him? Was this some Foretelling, or was she actually reliving her past.
Soutrik lowered her head and shook it gently from side to side putting her left hand over her eyes. She did not want to cry. She just couldn’t cry about this now. She couldn’t. She looked up at Sven, and what she perceived as a deep look of concern and caring across his eyes, made her want to weep for him. How can I put him through this? How can I let him know my hideous and evil past? I have hurt so many innocent people? Can I tell the next part? I know this to be real, I know it to be real?
Soutrik finished her final dream and Sven had begun to grip her hand again lightly. His eyes were almost unreadable to her. Was that concern? Worry about her hurting him? Was he disgusted by her? She hoped that he could forgive her of such thoughts. His death at her hands twice in a row. Her fear of him and the shadows that surrounded him in the first dream. Of there passionate love making and conceiving of a child that dies in the womb? What evil was within her to think of all these terrible visions?
Soutrik knew in her heart that she had down all of those things, not to Sven though, but to her beloved, and to thousands of innocent men. She really hoped Aeilla could say something anything that would mean it was not about Sven per se. That she couldn’t do those things to Sven. She just couldn’t. Soutrik’s heart pounded with the realization that her feelings for Sven had gone deeper than she realized. Friendship, respect, admiration, companionship, mutual understanding and likes, to protective, caring, ardent, adoring, passionate, and for Soutrik just now….loving. Her heart raced as she held his hands stared into his strong face, full of comfortable compassion.
“Can you help me, Aeilla Sedai?” Soutrik sputtered half breathless. Tears welled in her eyes. Whatever pain she must bear, she must if she is to learn the truth about herself and her past….or possibly her future.
Aeilla strove hard to keep her feelings in check. The veil hid any unwanted spasms that she knew must have been there while Soutrik, or Aloysha, was talking about her dreams. To dream that, every night, and then having to retell them, in front of the one she killed, night after night.. The serene-looking Keeper forced an involuntary shiver to a halt.
What little the Browns and Greys had gathered as knowledge about Shara Aeilla now possessed. And what the girl was describing, the rituals and the way of life, the ranking system and just about everything, fitted with what Aeilla had learned. "Child," she said softly, trying to comfort the pained girl, "what you tell was your dreams. You have not committed murder against this man, Svenson. He sits right beside you, and none of us can blame you for these dreams. What is intriguing about them, however," she made a small pause, trying to figure out how to best say this, "is that what you are describing fits with what we know of Shara extremely well.
"So we know you are - or was - the Sh'boan of Shara. Something has obviously happened to you so that you forgot this fact. What I am saying here is that something vile very probably happened to you, and that these dreams you are experiencing may be the result of what happened."
Aeilla studied Soutrik and Svenson carefully. They were clutching hands, and silently Aeilla wished them the best of futures. Svenson seemed to be retaining a silent pain, a slight glimmer in his eyes that said that he, too, wished desperately to find out why his dear Soutrik was dreaming of murder, of his murder. Aeilla could hardly blame the man. Poor souls, she thought, and continued.
"These dreams.. They seem too detailed to be just the ordinary dream. A normal dream is almost never a story told in a decent timeline, almost never sensible. And then we have these dreams, and they are a clear story, it makes sense." Soutrik started to protest. "They do make sense, child. They may seem incomprehensible, but that is only because we do not know what is causing them. Why is Svenson in your dreams? Why is he there in a setting of your native homeland? Soutrik; please tell me why Svenson is so important to you right now that he is switching place with a man that would otherwise have been black-skinned and a Sharan. You said it yourself in that last dream; the man you were to kill was fair skinned and white instead of ebony black, as he should have been. Why is Sven so important to you?"
Soutrik sat there piecing together everything that the Keeper had said. I was indeed Sh’boan of Shara, Aloysha Delphic, 23rd daughter of the Delphic line! These are not dreams, but memories! I murdered my beloved, I murdered him! I took the life of a man I loved, and thousands of innocent men, too. My own child! Oh, Light! Please say these things aren't real. I killed my husband and my child! No! No! Sven! Sven! AHHHHH!
Tears poured forth from Soutrik’s little slanted eyes and she crumbled to her knees out of the chair on to the floor still gripping Sven’s hand. The Keeper’s words sent strange shocks through her body.
"They do make sense, child. They may seem incomprehensible, but that is only because we do not know what is causing them. Why is Svenson in your dreams? Why is he there in a setting of your native homeland? Soutrik; please tell me why Svenson is so important to you right now that he is switching place with a man that would otherwise have been black-skinned and a Sharan. You said it yourself in that last dream; the man you were to kill was fair skinned and white instead of ebony black, as he should have been. Why is Sven so important to you?"
“Why?!” Soutrik cried, “Why do I kill him? I cannot kill this man! He has saved my life, and comforted me in my pain and grief. He is a strong mountain firmly planted while I am but a swish of air, every changing and flowing in and out without purpose. He roots me to this place, or I would have left before this. Why do I kill him, I do not know! I would rather I be torched from the pattern of time itself than have harm befall him.” Soutrik spoke her words between sniffs and pants and shudders that froze her in her kneeling slump of a position in front of her chair. “Aeilla Sedai, I know not what those dreams say of who I am. They are moments out of time from a lifetime without form or timeline in my mind. Who is Sven replacing? Why was that man so important to my life then, he was my husband, and father of my child! Why is Sven so important to me now? Why you ask me?” Soutrik gripped Sven’s hand and placed the other over her heart. It was aching and she felt like she was going to die.
Aeilla Sedai would not be put off, “Why is Sven so important to you?" Aeilla’s voice was a tad more forceful than it had been and Soutrik looked up at the Aes Sedai quickly as if responding to a command.
“Because I love him!” Soutrik words burst forth and she gasped as she said it with her eyes wide open, she sputtered and coughed and gasped. She had never acknowledge it to him, and here it was out in the open in front of Aeilla.
Soutrik shook slightly and the gold nose chain touched here moist, tear-ridden cheek. She turned and looked up into Sven’s eyes, hoping to find sanctuary for her feelings in his green pools of calm and comfort.
During the rant, Sven held Soutrik's hand tightly, trying to calm her, and paying little attention to what she said. Her final words came to him like a punch in the gut.
"Because I love him!"
It seemed as if the sound in the room was sucked out by some giant vacuum. Gaping, he looked at Soutrik, but when she turned to look into his eyes, he found he couldn't meet her eyes. Turning away, he gazed at the desk.
"I'm sorry," he said weakly. "I believe I need to go," he stood, still gripping her hand. He looked down at their entwined fingers, and despite himself, sighed with a look of pleading to Aiella Sedai.
"Um, I think you need to stay, Svenson," she said, and relief roared through him, and he sat, giving Soutrik's hand a long squeeze.
Light in heaven, Svenson, what in the holy bloody damned hell is going on? He thought with a shudder. Forget her, dammit, you don't need anyone! You're the GoldenSwan, and you fly alone.
Damnation boy... damn, damn, and damn.
He noticed he hadn't been speaking, and only listened to his heart beating. He knew he couldn't forget about her; he knew he hadn't wanted to see her for any physical reason. Light, Sven, you've grown soft enough to feel for this girl? He had, actually. Has the Swan fallen to an arrow of love? That inner voice was mocking. He didn't answer that question.
Sighing, he lifted Soutrik's hand and kissed the back of it, encompassing it with his other hand as well. It was frightening; he had never had anyone care for him, yet Soutrik did. Doesn't many sense, eh? No. Well, that's women for you. It seemed he and Soutrik were going to need to have a talk soon. With a snort, he relaxed back into his chair.
"Well, shall we continue this meeting?" Once again, he gave Soutrik's hand a squeeze.
Gaping, Sven looked at Soutrik, but when she turned to look into his eyes, she found he couldn't meet her eyes. Turning away, he gazed at the desk.
"I'm sorry," he said weakly. "I believe I need to go," he stood, still gripping her hand. He looked down at their entwined fingers, then sighed with a look of pleading to Aiella Sedai. Soutrik’s amazingly strong fear of rejection and abandonment kicked in.
“Um, I think you need to stay, Svenson," Aeilla Sedai said, and relief roared through Soutrik, and Sven sat, giving Soutrik's hand a long squeeze.
She felt the little squeezes from Sven’s hand and hoped that they meant he was staying for her and not just because Aeilla told him to. Soutrik shook ever so slightly, as if she was very cold, a shiver moved her and she could not control it. She looked down at Sven’s hands. How strong they look. Are they strong enough? Is he? Can he face what I have just laid before us? I don’t know if I can face it. Does this mean that I will destroy him like I obviously did my ‘beloved’? With that last thought she searched for anyplace to stare in the room other than at Sven. She could not think of herself hurting him, in any way, shape or form. It was kill her if she hurt him.
Oddly, she was glad that she knew why he plagued her dreams so. She could not believe she said it. She was certain there was something there for Sven, something in her heart. BUT she would never had thought it so plainly before, nor had she admitted it to herself, or anyone, namely Sven. What has Aeilla pulled from me? How do these Browns do this to me? Firstly, Melanna and my rape, now Aeilla and this? Will I ever learn of something not horrid from my past?
Just then, Sven sighed and lifted Soutrik's hand and kissed the back of it, encompassing it with his other hand as well. She was frightened; she had never had anyone care for her, yet Sven did. Doesn't make sense, eh? No. Well, that's men for you. It seemed she and Sven were going to need to have a talk soon. With a snort, Sven relaxed back into his chair.
“Aeilla Sedai,” Soutrik’s was weak and her voice trembled slightly as she stumbled worth in her words, “I don’t know what to say. This is all, so very, odd, to say the least. I believe what you say is true, and I do believe that is has brought forth the truth,… out of me.” Soutrik paused and looked at Sven as she said that last part, “I need to know, I need to know reality. I must know what I have done, and what crimes lay at my feet, or I cannot go on professing myself a servant of the Light. I must know my crimes, and answer for them. Who is to say I will not repeat them if I don’t know. I do not know why I came to leave Shara, but if I was running from justice….I can not live this new life knowing that I am a fugitive running from my well deserved punishment, a purveyor of heinous crimes.” Sven looked gravely at Soutrik. Aeilla Sedai was silent. Soutrik was not sure what she was asking this Brown Sister to do for her, but Soutrik was sure that if Aeilla knew of a way, she would use it. She is a Brown, she has to know of a way to help me, Browns know about things of this nature, don’t they?
Soutrik looked between Sven’s gorgeous green pools that were his eyes, and the veiled Keeper of the Chronicles. This was tension at its highest for Soutrik. It seemed her fate weighed in the balance. Her new life in the Light, or her old life of death and Darkness, foreshadowed in her dreams. Was the Sh’boan of Shara, an evil woman? Many Empresses, and Queens and not good people. Who’s to say? Could Sven love her when the truth of her bloody entanglements was revealed? Soutrik waited for the words that may decide her fate.
Aeilla knew there was a way. But she was VERY hesistant to even suggest the matter to Soutrik. "Soutrik," she tried, but could not go on at once. This needed further discussion with Madeline; Aeilla could not make this decision on her own, Keeper or no Keeper. "Wait here for a second, Soutrik, Sven," she said, and stood from her chair. She crossed the space between her and the door that led to Ariana's chambers quickly.
Without knocking, she entered. "Ariana, I need to borrow one of your messaging ter'angeral. You have one connected to Madeline, yes?" Ariana looked up at her Keeper, amusedly. Then she nodded, and pulled out one of the tablets.
"What do you need it for?"
"You know Soutrik, the Novice?" The Amyrlin nodded. "She needs to find out of her memories, and so far as I know, there is only one safe way to do that. But I can not make that decision on my own, I need to ask Madeline first." Ariana showed no emotional outburst, only a tightening at the eyes.
"Are you talking about the Chair of Remorse?" Aeilla nodded, and grabbed the tablet and stylus from Ariana's unresisting hands. "Well, do I have any say in this?"
"Of course you do," Aeilla murmured absentmindedly, and seated herself in one of the chairs in front of Ari's desk. Maddie, she wrote on the tablet, it is Aeilla. Please answer fast.
Almost at once, only with a slight pause, words began to appear in Madeline's neat writing on the tablet. Yes Ail? What can I do?
You sent Soutrik up to me, for me to help her as best as I can. Now she needs to remember - figure out - her memories. And the only way I can think of doing so is the Chair of Remorse. What do you say?
There was a pause. Are you certain? The Chair inflicts great emotional stress and pain -
I know, Maddie. But she has stated that she is willing to do whatever it takes to know more about her past. And that mental block in her brain is as bad as any block hindering a Wilder to Channel, only there is no focus for it. I see no other way than placing her on the Chair.
Well Aeilla, if that is your opinion.. I guess I agree with you. But be careful with her! And I would say to bring a Yellow with you as well, in case she needs it afterwards.
Agreed. Then I will do this. Thank you. Then she erased the words from the tablet with the stylus, and gave it back to Ariana. "Thank you for letting me borrow it. Good day." With that, she left the Amyrlin's office, and entered her own again. To the awaiting trainees, she said; "We will be trying the Chair of Remorse."
"We will be trying the Chair of Remorse." Aeilla's voice was calm, but the name of the object made Soutrik's skin crawl.
"As you say, so shall I do, Keeper." Soutrik wasn't sure what would happened next. She felt a small squeeze from Sven's hand. She herself had never heard of this Chair of Remorse, but maybe her had. "What do we need to do, Aeilla Sedai? Are there other's that need to be present for this?" Soutrik inclined her head towards the Keeper and hoped that she would indeed let Sven stay. She needed him to be strong for her.
Soutrik was sure that she could face her past. Well, she was mostly sure that she could. She wanted to know about her past with every fiber in her being. She needed to know the truth, even if the truth hurt. This Chair of Remorse sounded like something that would make her 'see' or relive her past in some way. She wondered if it would only let her see the times she should be remorseful for her actions. The name sure did sound like it.
She waited for someone to say something. She felt the world slow down around her as she contemplated the horrors that she could very well see. Flashed of herself wearing a white robe covered in blood flooded her mind. She held a dagger and cried. She pushed the thought away. That is what you may face. If you can't face it now, how will you face it on this Chair of Remorse? Whatever the cost, I am ready.
Soutrik did not realize that she had spoken that last bit out loud. Sven looked at her with a dire stare. He looked pained. She wanted to reach out to him and clasp his head to her bosom, but could not do such a thing in present company. Soutrik looked back and forth between the Keeper and Sven, the tension so thick in the air, it held them motionless....waiting for something to happen.
Madeline struggled to keep the knot of worry in her stomach from growing. She didn’t like this one bit, but she knew it was necessary. The Chair of Remorse… The Tower rarely used it, and only for criminals. Madeline had seen it but once. The Chair was something left to the Greys, or the Blues, but she had stood by as it was used on Pel Gravin, nearly sixty years ago. She had come very close to dying because of him, and she had needed to find out why.
Her blue eyes flickered over to Cara Sedai, a dusky slender Yellow with black hair tied in intricate braids. She returned Madeline’s look with a raised eyebrow.
“We shouldn’t be doing this,” she said firmly, for the third time in an hour. “Not to a novice.” Madeline sighed, giving a nod to a young Brown as she passed. Aged paintings and tapestries lined the walls of the Brown Quarters, depicting scenes from hundreds of years ago. One in particular caught Maddy’s eye, a wide canvas with cracked paint showing twelve men sitting in a circle, with a woman at the center.
“…we just don’t know what it could do her,” Cara was saying, in the lilting tones of Murandy. They stopped in front of Aeilla’s office, and Madeline shook her head. Cara wouldn’t challenge her, considering her youth and Madeline’s station. Not to mention that this was the Keepers decision. But she was one of the Yellow’s strongest, with a Talent for Healing that few could match.
“I understand your concerns, Sister,” Madeline said gently. “But this must be done. You understand Soutrik’s position, and if we continue to sit and watch, the results could be disastrous. This is a risk, but one that we must take. Soutrik is willing to do this, and I believe that will make a difference in how it turns out.” The chair was designed to pull out memories, and there was no telling what Soutrik would see this day. Considering her recent dreams, and the fragments of her past she did recall, the memories might not be pleasant. But they needed to know.
Cara regarded her silently for a moment, then nodded. Madeline gave a reassuring nod, and knocked on the door, pushing it open at Aeilla’s reply.
There was a notable tension in the room. The Keeper sat at her desk, her features calm and serene, but there was a tightness to her eyes. Soutrik sat near Svenson, clutching her white skirts. Sven gave her a concerned glance, then nodded in greeting to Madeline.
Cara tapped her foot impatiently. “Shall we be about this?” she said, her voice cutting into the silence. Aeilla stood.
“Yes, I suppose there is no more reason to delay. The chair is in the second basement, in the southern end of the Tower.”
And so off they went, descending into the deep, dark and daunting depths of the deepest part of the delightful and dependable Tower.
The walk to the second basement did not take long. Soutrik’s heart pounded in her chest the entire time, making her slightly lightheaded. The five of them had walked in utter silence, the echo of their feet in the lower basement chilled her to the bone. She had found no words to say. No way to express what she was feeling. She would see, she would feel, she would know her past now. Maybe not all of it, put enough for more understanding. . Soutrik knew that this was the only way. She knew it to her toes and back again. She knew it every time that she looked into Sven’s eyes and she had flashbacks to the dream/memories she had of killing him. This Chair of Remorse was going to be illuminating, enlightening, and mind blowing.
The quintet reached the door to the room that held the hardly used ter’angreal. Aeilla Sedai unlocked the door, and channeled a blue globe of light above their heads. She entered the room and the rest followed her. Soutrik looked at this thing that rested somewhat in the middle of the room. It does not look like a chair? Soutrik pondered the name of the object, the Chair of Remorse, although it looked nothing like a chair, just a large rectangular block of gray stone. The top of it was slanted, and it looked like it was sold marble of some sort, heavy, unyielding, devious. It was odd to say the least. The only break in it’s smooth surface was a palm sized rectangular hole open in one side with tiny notches spaced unevenly around it.
“That is it, then?” Soutrik’s voice was strong yet bleak in spirit. “What must I do?” She focused her mind on remaining calm. Deep breathing in soothing rhythm calmed her nerves. She looked at Sven and he quirked a brow as he examined the object.
Her eyes focused on the block and she heard one of the Sisters tell her to undress down to her shift and sit against the slanted part of the Chair. Soutrik had focused on the Chair of Remorse, she did not give the order a second thought, and did not even acknowledge which Sister had said it. She stripped down to her silk shift, which was apart of the set that her adopted mother Janitca had given her; a match for the one that Sven had ripped the night of the trip through the GateWay. The very same trip that had began all the nightmares, and the fluttering of memories she could not deal with. Now, the shift was all that lay between her and the cold block of the ter’angreal.
Soutrik sat leaning into the molded slanted top of the block chair. She had her hands in her lap. The tips of her toes barely touched the ground. She did not look up, and was ready to begin when a thought occurred to her. She looked up and noticed the three Aes Sedai talking quietly to themselves. Sven leaned against the wall, his face in shadow, but his green eyes seemed to sparkle with the light from the blue glove that hovered in the center of the room. She turned back to the Aes Sedai and said, “Pardon me, Aes Sedai, but I have just had a thought, a concern really, about my bracelets.” Soutrik paused and knew that this next part was going to be difficult for Sven to take. “If this chair is activated by the Power, than, these bracelet ter’angreals and sa’angreals that I wear are going to be activated by its use through me. I am worried that this may cause a problem. Mackenzie Sedai had told me that not many ter’angreals can be used in the same room together. Additionally, Mackenzie Sedai has informed me, that these bracelets are flawed in a way.”
Soutrik paused again, as a look of acknowledgement spread across Madeline Sedai’s face. Soutrik remembered very well the night in the garden when she had linked with Madeline Sedai to catch the three novices who were planning to flood the Tower. Madeline had drawn through the bracelets and it had weakened Soutrik significantly. But, Soutrik also remembered that when she had linked with Sven and he had channeled through the bracelets, she was fine. She took a deep breath and explained to the Aes Sedai her thoughts. “Mackenzie Sedai and I have discussed the possibility that maybe I am only able to channel through these bracelets without hurting myself when I am linked with a person channeling saidin. Every time I have linked with a woman, I have been injured in memory, or body. I have linked with Sven twice and have not been hurt either time.” Soutrik turned and looked at Sven who still looked relaxed, but whose jaw was clamped shut tight so that the muscles stood out in his neck. She could not tell if he were angry with her, or frightened for her, or for himself, or just outright stunned.
“I don’t presume to know how this Chair works, but I will say that I do know that if another channels into my bracelets I don’t know that will come out of this well with the Power of the Chair working through me.” Soutrik looked down at her feet. She felt like she was going to heave. She stared at her toenails that Hesper had helped her paint last night; a pretty pink color. She smiled at them trying not to think of what she was going to have to say next.
“I cannot ask you to put yourself in possible danger for me, Sven. I cannot tell you what I might experience when under the Power of this Chair. If you were to link with me to protect me from the effects of the bracelets, I cannot tell you want you will feel from me through the link, or if you would experience my memories, or….your own.” Sven’s eyes grew a little tight and he squinted as if trying to see off into the distance. She felt he looked concerned, but she wasn’t sure. He did not say anything. None of them did. Soutrik looked up at Sven and sighed, then turned to the Aes Sedai.
“I am ready to face what might happen to me. Curse these bracelets.” Soutrik mumbled the last part, and looked down at them hating their vary presence. Her mind worried slightly that Sven had not stepped forward yet. What if he didn’t step forward to help her? What if what Mackenzie Aes Sedai said was true, ‘It is amazing that you have so many ter’angreals and that they work together. Most ter’angreals do not work well together and in some cases have been know to kill, or still the Aes Sedai trying to use them, will giving everyone around a blinding headache for weeks.' Soutrik wondered if Mackenzie Sedai had been exaggerating, but then she remembered a rumor that a Novice had almost been lost inside the ter’angreal that was used to raise Accepted. As if thinking about her future on this Chair of Remorse wasn’t bad enough, now she began to worry about the test for Accepted.
She shivered slightly and felt light feather brush strokes on her now slightly wet cheeks. She knew what it was. It was Sven. He was channeling and stroking her cheek to reassure her. She looked up, and the tightness in his eyes seemed to have vanished. She looked at him with antici- (OOC: SAY IT SAY IT) pation. She hoped that he had made up his mind. She leaned forward on the block and stared at him while the Aes Sedai continued to talk quietly. He nodded his head yes, and a blossom of hope bloomed within her barren soul.
The Power of the Chair of Remorse over Soutrik’s mind was intense. She felt her mind bending and churning. She was a bit dizzy and struggled to maintain a grip on the reality she saw around her. Soutrik somehow sank into the ter’angreal somehow, and it molded itself to her tiny frame. A fine sweat began break out over her body. She opened her eyes and saw Sven still leaning against the wall. She could feel his emotions clearly, and her own. He was concerned, worried mildly over her, and only a little self-concern. She spasmed and saw double of Sven, the room spun, his feelings of concern for her increased. She closed her eyes and her eyelids fluttered, and a strangled moan ripped from her mouth.
Chair of Remorse Wrought Memory #1
“News has come from the Ayyad!” The courier’s footsteps patted softly on the carpeted floors of the Delphic family manor house. The distinguished Delphic family crest, the silhouette of a swan in flight emblazoned on a rising sun surrounded by two curved daggers, glittered brightly on the courier’s black doublet. The Daughters of the Delphic symbol, seven entwined roses was stitched around the hem and the seams of the black doublet. The courier dropped onto a knee in front of Sampasi Delphic, Lord & Master of the Delphic family estates, and former bodyguard of the Sh’botay. Sampasi Delphic, and all the men in his family before him, had been bodyguards to the Sh’botays of Shara, where as one daughter in every four generations was given by the family in tribute to the Ayyad, that she may be chosen Sh’boan.
Sampasi’s three daughters, Aloysha, Tamara, and Chiape were of the fourth generation, and one would be Sh’boan upon her 17th birthday. All three girls had been tattooed around their wrists and ankles on her first naming day anniversary, and every year after that until their seventh, when their entwined rose tattoos would be complete, marking them Daughters of Delphic.
The three daughters knelt and waited at the news from the Ayyad. Aloysha was eight years old, Tamara seven years old, and Chiape a mere two years old, and they sat at attention on their knees waiting for their father’s command.
The news has come from the Ayyad! We will know. We will know, finally, who is to be the Sh’boan. Aloysha did not know if she wanted to be the Sh’boan or not. She really did not know what it meant completely. It was a tremendous honor for her family, and was talked about among the elder women who were of the third and second generations who were not eligible. They too had the entwined roses on their wrists and forearms, and they smiled and circled the room eating puffed pastry, jealousy oozing from their pores. Aloysha could feel their eyes upon her. She wondered if this was the turning point in her life. It has come so soon. What will happen to me?
Sampasi grasped the gilded paper in his hands and snapped open the seal. The gathered crowd in the grand room hushed their chatter. Sampasi read the message and closed his eyes, smiling, lifted his hands to the ceiling and said, “The Light be Praised!” He paced behind his daughters. Aloysha could feel the stomps of his feet behind her on the carpet. He walked behind her and her sisters, but she really could not feel where he was, only the vibrations. She closed her eyes and the vibrations stopped. Her father’s voice boomed behind her, “And here is our future Sh’boan of Shara,” he paused in his speech, and Aloysha felt a swoosh beside her. She opened her eyes to see her father scooping her sister Tamara into his arms as he smiled and said, “my precious daughter, Tamara, 24th Daughter of the Delphic line.” The crowd knelt as he set the girl on her feet. She giggled as her own father knelt before her. “All hail the Sb’aratian Sh’boan Tamara Delphic.” Clapping and roars of congratulations rallied the room into a stomping frenzy of joy. The instrumentalists in the corner began to beat their drums play their flutes, and tambor chimes.
Aloysha knelt in stunned silence. She was the oldest, and they had not chosen her. She did not know if she was relieved, or disappointed. She did not know if the eldest had ever been skipped before. She wondered if they doubted her devoutness. She stood and hugged her baby sister, congratulating her. The crowd gasped and Sampasi backhanded Aloysha as hard as he could across the face sending her whirling. A woman in the crowd gasped, “She touched the Sb’aratian Sh’boan! What insolence?!” Murmurs in the crowd arose, and Aloysha fought back the tears that welled in her eyes. She scrambled for the door and ran as fast as she could to her quarters, flinging herself down on her bed and cried.
Her father burst into her room, “Aloysha, you must realize what your destiny is and what Tamara’s is also.” He sat on her bed and patted her back. Since his wife’s death his relationship with Aloysha had worsened. “Daughter, listen to me. Your duty is calling you. You must remember that our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds, and now your destiny is calling you to deeds of glory. Glory in being your sister’s bodyguard. The first Daughter of Delphic trained as the Sh’boan’s bodyguard. The honor and prestige that go with that are unparalleled. Do you realize how many people live their whole lives dreaming of speaking with the Sh’boan and Sh’botay? You will be her bodyguard. What an honor. Do give your life in defense of hers without a thought.” Her father continued to talk about her training and Aloysha realized that she had better learn to like it and excel in it thoroughly or suffer extreme disgrace and dishonor.
End Chair of Remorse Wrought Memory # 1
Soutrik’s eyes fluttered and opened and she beheld Sven kneeling on the floor in front of her on all fours, with his head down breathing heavily and shuttering. She was worried for him and wanted to say something, but was shaken by the Chair and it pulled her back into the sloping surface. Her eyes slammed shut and she writhed with pain and felt and energy pulse through her body.
Chair of Remorse Wrought Memory # 2
Aloysha’s father strode around his kneeling teenage daughter, with two curved daggers in his hand. She was dressed in her tight black pants, and black tank top like shirt both stitched with the Daughters of Delphic roses around the hem and seams, the Delphic family crest on the chest. She was waiting for the attack to begin, fingering her own two curved daggers, and knew he was lecturing her and pacing to throw her off guard. “Aloysha, when you know that you are out matched, you strike and can create a stalemate, and thus all your moves prove to stop the other persons attacks, but never gets you to winning position.” Her father took a step towards her slashing with a dagger and she blocked it with and upward swipe. He stepped back and continued to lecture. She continued to kneel waiting.
Aloysha thought I am out matched by father’s size. If I can just stay a head of him making him attack and defend on his weaker side again and again, I may be able to wear him down. He might then become tired, and let down his guard. Then I shall attack with full force!
“I see, daughter, planning my demise are you. Always the tactical mind. Good. Now, defend yourself!” Her father lunged at her and she heard him suck air through his teeth as she hit him in the ribs with her elbow.
He came at her again after he had regained his air. She struck out at him with her kicks, as usual. They spared daily, and this was nothing new. She tumbled at him, kicking for his head, high jumping kicks followed by whirling slashes with the daggers. Spinning and jumping and kicking out to take his head off with her black leather Sharan kick boots. Steel toed with spikes on the tip that ejected forward when she stomped her heel just so. The perfect unseen weapon, and she had one in each tip of her shoe.
She whirled again and this time caught her father’s forearm with the dagger and he stifled a cry. She stopped and rushed to him, “Papa, I am so sorry, I did not intend to cut you so.” She cut the leg of her pants with one of the daggers and tied it around his arm to help stop the bleeding. He mumbled something under his breath and staggered slightly. He flung out his arm and threw her to the ground.
“Weakling! Never give in until your opponent is dead. Fight on! You should have gone for the kill! You train to protect Tamara’s life. You are trusted with an honor no woman has been given before, and you do not act like you understand the situation.” He gripped his arm to himself. “What if I was some crazed person out to assassinate the Sh’boan, would you stop to ask if I was okay when you sliced at me?”
Aloysha shook her head no, and looked up at her father. He continued to rant at her, “Do I not attempt to make this real for you. We practice with real knifes to know real danger.” He stood over her. “I do not know if you know your station child. But I will make sure that you learn it.” Sampasi whirled and a straight dagger shot from his hand and into Aloysha’s thigh, straight through it, just missing the bone, the point sticking into the wood of the practice room floor.
She gasped and grasped the hilt of the dagger as it sat flush against her thigh, blood beginning to well around it. She sputtered and a strangled cry came out of her mouth. “Mattille, help me.” Mattille, Aloysha’s maid servant since birth rounded the corner in a run and stopped dead when she saw the teenager pinned to the floor by the eight inch dagger’s blade, and her father over her gripping his arm to his chest, blood running down his front. The slave turned on her heel and ran down the hall calling, “Ayyad Teresa, come quickly, there has been an accident.”
“You and I know what has happened here. You have failed me yet again, and in turn, failed your Sh’boan. I will not speak of it further. You disgrace me. You should be a tiger, a predator, a fighter, a killer of the dangers that could harm Tamara, and what are you? Weak! You have no heart! This is your destiny! This is what you were meant for and you deny it. You have strength and speed, and an intelligent mind, but you are soft. You have not killer instinct. That is why you were not chosen Sh’boan in the first place. What kind of leader would you have made?” Sampasi spit his words at his daughter with a tight anger in his eyes.
“I hate you!” Aloysha screamed at him.
“Hate is the coward’s revenge for being humiliated!” He spat in her face, and began to move off towards a chair to sit in. He seemed dizzy at the loss of blood that pumped from his arm wound.
Aloysha growled! Nobody calls me a coward! She yanked at the dagger in her thigh with all of her might and it came out of her thigh with a slick swoosh of steel dripping in blood. She rolled and was up on her good knee, grunting slightly. Sampasi turned, and Aloysha flung the dagger out towards his stomach, where it struck true. It’s eight-inch razor sharp double-sided blade stuck into his gut easily. He collapsed in the chair with a thud, and raised his head to stare at her, “Now there’s the spirit I am talking about.” He gurgled a little and hissed a long breath and his eyes glazed over. He died with a proud smile on his face. She ran to him and removed the dagger.
“What is going on here!?” Ayyad Teresa rounded the corner.
“We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us.” Aloysha collapsed to the floor, as the blood continued to flow from the gaping wound in her thigh. She looked up at the Ayyad’s tattooed face, “What’s done is done.” She lost consciousness.
End Chair of Remorse Wrought Memory # 2
Soutrik’s body shook and she moaned as he felt the dagger enter her thigh then sucked air as it left her body again. She was living it, the pain, the anger, all of it. She could feel Sven’s anger, and pain as well. Different than hers exactly, but there nonetheless.
Madeline clutched her hands together tightly, her blue eyes locked onto Soutrik. She could not like this, nor could she silence the doubts that were creeping into her thoughts. She was Mistress of Novices, and it was her sworn duty to see that her charges were kept safe. No novice had ever sat in the Chair of Remorse, and least, so far as she knew. Her heart ached at the sight of Soutrik twisting in the chair, her eyes clenched shut in anguish. Tears shone against her cheeks, and her knuckles were white as she gripped the chair. Svenson knelt before her, trembling in anger and pain.
Aeilla was channeling a steady flow of saidar into the Chair, focusing her weave on the rectangular symbol in the side. Her face was set with determination, but her eyes shone with tears. Suddenly she gave a start, and her gaze swung to Cara. The slim Yellow stepped forward, saidar shining brightly about her.
“What has happened?” she demanded. Aeilla only shook her head. “She has been stabbed in the knee. By her father.” Cara gasped, and Madeline shook her head sadly. Aeilla continued. “They were practicing at sparring, and he chastised her when she tried to help him. He called her weak.” Her last words came out in a whisper. “She has such…rage. It sweeps through her like fire.”
Madeline spoke, looking gravely at Svenson. He was curled up into a ball now, gripping to the Chair of Remorse with a shaking hand. “How is she doing? Is she experiencing any effects from the bracelets?”
Aeilla shook her head. “None that I can see. We should not stop now, I don’t think.” Madeline nodded in agreement, whispering a silent prayer to the Light. Aeilla continued her weave of saidar, and Soutrik suddenly cried out, wracked by the continuing visions.
Leaning against the wall, Sven didn't look at Soutrik. It was hard enough to feel her fear and pain through the link. She became increasingly more frantic, until he was surprised she wasn't screaming. Closing his eyes, he suddenly saw images, and knew what was coming. Falling to his knees, he didn't fight the Power.
Sven’s Visions of Remorse
The dining room of the palace was large enough to hold hundreds, but now it only held a select few. Sitting near the end of the table, GoldenSwan sat. Of course to these people, he was known as Joren. Sipping his wine, he hid a smirk as he watched Lord Gozar finish his meal. Soon, he would start to shake and spasm, and then his heart would start to beat fast, until it collapsed, and then Lord Gozar would be dead.
It began quickly, with Gozar complaining about pains. Soon his body started to quake, and he reeled back out of his chair. It was a sight to see such a fat man fly. People scurried to see what was the matter, but what they saw was Gozar shaking on the floor, and then... stillness. Standing, Joren walked away from the table, unseen by any.
Guards were kicker, it seemed, because the only exit was cut off. Sighing, Joren continued towards them, two men in Gozar colors standing at the doorway with pikes. One guards began to speak as he came closer, but a small dagger piercing his neck silenced him. Before the other man could cry out or attack, Sven moved to the side and twisted his left arm. A long, thin throwing dagger fell into his palm, and with a flick of the wrist, the dagger flew and struck the guard in between the eyes.
Laughing, he leapt through the doorway and ran.
Opening his eyes, Sven gasped at the relived memory. Pain bloomed in his neck and face, and he thought his body was shaking. Panting, he fell forward onto his hands, and groaned as pain wracked him. Another image came to him.
On the practice yard of Lord Kern, GoldenSwan sparred with the son of Kern, young Master Li Kern. He was quick with the blade, but had no form. Sven easily knocked away the lad's attacks, while following through with his own halfhearted jabs and thrusts. The boy actually believed he was doing well.
Grinning, he didn't bother thinking about his attacks. He had spent the last three months in the Castle of Kern, Lord of Saldea. And, ironically, sworn enemy to Lord Jerim. His mark was the little pissant in front of him, flailing about with the sword. A warning was almost always more fun then a political hit.
Lunging forward, Sven dropped the facade of poor swordsmanship, and bypassed a thrust from the boy. Bringing his blade up, the point stabbed into his lung, and Li cried out and fell. Dropping the blade, Sven grinned down at the dying boy, and wiped the dust from his hands. Turning, he left the empty sparring grounds.
Vision doubled, and Sven held back his shouts of pain. Sweat dripped from his hair and soaked his body. Shakily, he tried to stand, but fell back forward. Growling, he bit back his howls as another memory came over him.
In the bar, Sven sat in the corner so he could see the room, and knocked back another shot of some hard liquor. Nobody appeared suspicious, but Sven never let his guard down now. Pouring another small glass, he sipped it and watched drowsily.
"You going to nurse that bottle all night?" A serving maid asked by his side, and he turned to glare at her. His eyes were red and baggy, and stubbled covered his face. The GoldenSwan was not as golden any longer.
"Piss off, wench," he muttered, and knocked back the rest of the drink. With a haughty huff, she put her hands on her hips.
"I think its time you left," she said angrily, and his glared deepened. Standing, he grabbed her arm and growled.
"I said piss off!" He said, and pushed her away.
"Hey!" A man called. Turning, Sven found three bouncers facing him. Chuckling he he sneered at them all. They were bigger then him, but he had something they didn't at his side. The Power. The first man moved forward, and he was struck down by a club of Air. Not waiting, Sven seized another man with bonds of Air, and threw him back ten paces against the wall. Tying him to the wall, he tied off the weaves and turned to the other man.
He didn't know what to do beyond using Air. Drunkenly, Sven moved forward and struck at the man with the Power. He wasn't sure what he didn’t, but a white light flashed, and the man flew back into the wall, and through it.
The room had cleared almost totally, and Svenson stumbled towards the door. Striding outside, he emptied his stomach, from the Taint, and the realization he could channel.
Gagging, Sven held back from vomiting, and pushed himself back against the wall. Gasping for Air, he cried out at the pain that roared through him. The world faded into darkness. Another vision came, certainly, but Sven blocked it from his mind. He blocked it all.
Soutrik could feel Sven’s pain, and anger flowing through the link and she could feel him recoil from the memories. Is he seeing and feeling mine, or is he living his own? She opened her eyes to see him panting and sweating a tortured look on his face. How can I put him through his. I have no heart.
Soutrik turned her head and looked at Aeilla Sedai who was also sweating and breathing heavily. Madeline Sedai looked utterly horrified. Soutrik sat staring at them and hearing no sound but the beating of her heart which rang out loud and clear in her ears. She turned back to look at Sven and a violent quiver ran through her.
She screamed out in the High Language of the Ayyad for help and release, and her eyes clamped shut and she was again within her own mind and memories.
Chair of Remorse Wrought Memory # 3
Her full length black leather coat rubbed the top of her ankle high Sharan kick boots as Aloysha strode down the dungeon corridor, her boots made clicking sounds on the stone hallway’s floor. Her face twitched with anger and her blood boiled with fury. Gripping her whip in her black leather gloved hands she thought of the treachery that had befallen the high office. The Sh’botay had been murdered and now her sister Tamara, Sh’boan of Shara was a widow. The failure of her family stung her greatly. Her two older brothers held the high honor as all Delphic men did of being the Sh’botay’s bodyguards. She snorted at the thought of her father rolling over in his grave when the news of the Sh’botay’s assassination spread. Ayyd Teresa had said that it was the Will of the Wheel.
“Not on my watch!” Aloysha hissed under her breath as she approached her destination. The guard outside of the door bowed to her deeply and saluted her. She opened the highly polished black door and strode in grim, determined, and out for the truth.
The Sh’botay’s assassin sat in a chair bound by chains. His mouth taut with a gag, one eye swollen shut and dried blood crusting his afro. He looked up as she entered. He was twice her size, but those who knew her, knew that size mattered little when dealing with Aloysha. She paced in front of the man looking at him in his one good eye. He looked proud and unafraid.
She smacked her whip across her hand, and he did not flinch. “You will tell me who you are and why you have killed the Sh’botay!” Aloysha stood with her leather fists upon her hips pushing her leather coat out of the way to reveal her sash that held the curved daggers of her office.
The man shook his head no. She did not flinch at his determination. She reached for a curved dagger and extending her arm cut off his left ear. The man wailed behind the gag. She repeated her demand and again he shock his head no. She took the dagger and placing it in his left nostril, pulled back slicing it open. Again he wailed but still shook his head no. Striding away from the man, she turned towards the potbelly stove and opened it. The coals shone brightly in the depths of the stove. She placed a poker in the fire.
“That poker will become quite hot, and I plan to use upon you if you do not tell me.” She was calm and she removed his gag.
“I will not tell you!” He screamed at her in a raspy voice and spit into her face a bloody wad of mucus.
She wiped it was without emotion and picked up her whip. She thrashed him several times across the chest, face, and thighs. She repeated her question. The man yelled no.
Aloysha crossed the room and removed the white-hot glowing poker. She held it close to his face and he recoiled from the heat. She slowly moved it around his body trying to decide where she would strike first. It must be a place where I can exact much fear and pain, but leave him able to speak. She repeated her question and this time the man hesitated before shaking his head no.
Aloysha put the white-hot poker against the man’s bare chest and seared off his left nipple. He screamed and screamed and she did not stop until he said he would tell. He shook and cried and began to reveal a story that burned her ears more that the poker had burned his chest. Her two older brothers had paid him to kill the Sh’botay and had let him enter the palace to do the job. Her temples pounded, for now she realized that she must order the execution of her brothers.
Her anger filled her and she drove the white-hot poker into the assassin’s heart and watched him convulse in the chair as his life drained from him and his horrific screams died away. She left the poker sticking out of his chest and returned to the guard outside the door.
“See that his traitorous head is placed on a pike outside the palace walls and leave his body as carrion for the vultures. Send for Jamal and Altec to meet the Sh’boan in her audience room. Do not alert them to my presence, go now, scurry!” Aloysha watched the guard look into the room and witness the horrors within, turn back to her and run as fast as he could in the opposite direction to obey her commands.
End Chair of Remorse Wrought Memory # 3
Soutrik’s eyes popped open as the memory lifted and she cried and wailed for her lost innocence. With that memory came the realization that Jamal and Altec were also traitors and that she HAD ordered their execution, and their heads were also placed on pikes and their bodies were also left for carrion. She shuttered at remembering more that she had bargained for. Her mind whirled as more memories told her that her sister Tamara, the Sh’boan herself, had been apart of the plot, and was executed as well, thus making her, Aloysha the Sh’boan. As if thinking about her own rise to power made her heart ache, it caused another violent shaking. Again, her eyes snapped shut and she relived her past within her head.
Chair of Remorse Wrought Memory # 4
The bells, chimes, and flute music filled the air. The temple where Sh’boan’s ascended to the throne was filled to capacity with people of all walks of life, from all over Shara. Aloysha knelt before the alter, her arms raised out to her sides. The Ayyad next to her lifted her from her kneeling position from her under arms and placed at strap across her naked chest that hoisted her off the ground until her feet dangled free.
Aloysha stared out among the crowd and found her youngest sister, and only remaining sibling, Chiape whose face was wet with tears. Chiape attempted to smile, but knew what had brought about this accession to the throne. Aloysha gulped a breath and tried not to look at her sister’s face again, but found it quite hard. She struggled to maintain calm and held her arms and legs out for all to see.
The Ayyad approached and using their ceremonial daggers they sliced open Aloysha’s wrists and ankles where she was tattooed with the entwined seven roses, the signal of the Daughters of Delphic. Her blood flowed out of her wounds, dripped upon the temple’s alter, down the steps, and onto the sacred soil of Shara. She began to feel weak as the river of blood flowed from her body.
Ayyad Teresa spoke, “The Wheel of Time is so vast, and so ageless that the life of one woman can only be justified by the measure of her sacrifice.” The golden gong to the left of the alter was struck and the people knelt as one.
“Do you Aloysha Delphic, 23rd Daughter of the House of Delphic, wish to sacrifice all for the people of Shara?” Ayyad Teresa’s Power enhanced voice echoed across the temple.
“I do!” Aloysha’s voice sprang forth from her throat. The brown tiger’s eye bracelets were then placed upon her arms and ankles over the long bleeding gaping wounds. The stones seemed to swirl as the bracelets latched closed and glowed red with Aloysha’s blood.
“Shall you protect Shara’s water?” Teresa continued.
“I shall.” And the blue sapphire bracelets were placed on her body as the brown ones were.
“Shall you protect her fertile valleys, and mountains?”
“I shall.” The green emerald bracelets were placed on her body.
“Will you seek enlightenment for the spiritual health and well-being of the people of Shara?”
“I will.” The white diamond and gray opal bracelets were placed upon her body.
“Shall you offer yourself in sacrifice to the Will of the Wheel, giving bone, and blood, life, and liberty for the benefit of the people of Shara?”
“My life is for service to the people who have wrought me from their very being. I will honor them with my whole mind, my whole body, my whole soul.” The yellow and red bracelets were placed upon her body and with that, the long gashes in her arms and ankles were covered by the bracelets. The bracelets glowed red with her blood and pulsed in many colors of the stones and then turned an ivory white color.
Aloysha was lowered to her feet and Ayyad Teresa grasped her head with her long bony fingers, deviling for any other injuries. Aloysha froze as the Healing washed over her. Teresa released her and motioned to the other Ayyad who brought forth white flowing robes and placed them around Aloysha covering her nakedness.
“All hail, Aloysha Delphic, Sh’boan of Shara!” Ayyad Teresa’s voice echoed across the temple.
The people prostrated themselves and waved their hands in front of their eyes, palms up to the sky. “Highest honor to the Sh’boan. Thrive Shara!”
End Chair of Remorse Wrought Memory # 4
Soutrik shook and sputtered, clutching the Chair of Remorse as she could. Her sweat soaked shift clung to her and her nose chain trembled with the writhing of her body. She wiggled and tried to rise from the Chair, but it held her down and crushed the air out of her. She groaned as she clamped her eyes shut then popped them open. She turned to Aeilla and Madeline and mouthed a pleading “Stop this”.
Aeilla Sedai released the weave that was upon the chair. “Child, are you alright?”
“I am alright, Aes Sedai. I am just so thirsty.” Soutrik smacked her lips together and looked at Sven who looked up at her. She felt concern through the link. She rose from the Chair of Remorse and stumbled at the weakness of her legs. She approached Sven and grasped his face in her hands.
The pain in his face was real, and he looked gutted like a carp. She spoke softly to him, “I am so sorry my darling one. So, sorry.” He grabbed her and held her to him. The warmth of his embrace and the shared anguish through the link racked her with violent tears. He held her in his strong arms and rocked her back and forth. She clung to him seeking and end to her realizations.
“I am a cruel monster, Sven. How will I ever be worthy of you?” Soutrik’s words sputtered forth and she pulled back from his embrace to look into his face again. He was looking at Madeline Sedai. Soutrik looked over her shoulder and saw the three Aes Sedai staring at them as they embraced each other kneeling on the floor.
In the darkness, Sven glared up at his cieling. Light but he could not get a wink of sleep! With a deep growl, he tossed back the blankets and stood from his bed. In his sleeping shorts, Sven slipped on a pair of slippers and grabbed his robe off the back of a chair.
Tying the robe, he quietly opened the latch and left his Accepted Quarters. Strolling around, Sven listened to low snoring, or low talking, and watched the halls for any Aes Sedai. Sneaking around was always a way to relax, or get his mind off something so he could sleep.
His wanderings took him from the Accepted Quarters, and through the rest of the Tower. With a small grin, he loped like a ghost through the Yellow Wing, and then snuck past the Amylrin's office. Almost chuckling, he continued on.
Suddenly, he found himself in the Novice's Quarters, and wondered what had brought him here. Soutrik He thought to himself, and smirked to himself. Finding her room was easy enough, next to Hesper's. The latch squeaked a little, but Sven doubted anyone could hear it, and silently slipped into her room. The first thing he noticed was the intoxicating Sea Folk perfume.
Taking a deep breath, he made his way to her bed and stood there a moment, watching her in the dark. She was breathing easily, on her side with her back facing him. Smiling, he tugged the blankets further on to her.
Sitting against the wall beside her bed, he began wondering what he felt for her, then tried to stop himself. You're trying to clear your mind, you goof. He chastised himself. Letting out a low sigh, he looked over at her again.
Suddenly, the lamps in the room flared alight, and Soutrik leaped from her bed. Eyes widening, Sven rose as well, and was shocked when Soutrik attacked him. Catching her arms when she punched, he began to tell her to calm down, before he felt her knee in his gut. With a grunt, he moved back to the wall.
"Soutrik!" He whispered harshly, and she stopped.
"Sven," she said in a sigh, and rubbed her eyes. "What are you doing here?" She asked, and he shrugged, not having an answer. Running a hand through his lengthening hair, he looked at her in her shift, and sighed inwardly. Light, what a beauty. The thought shocked him.
"I, um," he began. "I couldn't, uh... couldn't sleep." He said, and she looked somewhat confused and concerned. Grinning a little, he walked forward and put his arms around her, hugging her. "I thought I'd come and bug you." He said wryly, and she chuckled. "We haven't had much time to talk lately." He said.
"So you thought we would have a nice chat in the middle of the night?" She said with a grin, looking up at him. Shrugging his brows once, he nodded.
Soutrik sat reclining on her elbows on the tiny cot in her fastidiously clean Novice quarters. A stick of Sea Folk incense burned in its holder and Soutrik watched the smoke float, twist, and spiral across her small room. She sighed after her long day of lessons and research in the Library on Shara. It was nearing lights out and many things weighed heavy upon her mind.
The experience of the Chair of Remorse had been grueling to say the very least. Madeline Sedai had been extremely supportive. Unfortunately, the extraction of those painful memories had caused Sven to be a little distant. He had hardly spoken to her since. She had wondered if it was all too much for him to handle. She did not know if he had relived her memories with her, or his own. Aeilla Sedai certainly looked at her different now. Who wouldn’t? I pierced a man’s chest with a white-hot poker and had found it enthralling; torturing him until he told me the information I needed to know.
Madeline Sedai suggested that Soutrik do some soul searching by writing about what she had learned in a journal. Soutrik knew that Madeline was right and that it needed to be done. IF nothing else, she could ponder what to do about the Sven situation. She was terribly mortified by the incident in Aeilla’s study, and then horrified by the revelations that all her dreams were realities, AND THEN, by the visions of her past actions while on the Chair of Remorse. Yes, indeed there are a great many things I need to consider: Sven, my own cruelty, my responsibilities. I need to do some charity work, or something to redeem myself, and my soul if I plan on serving the Light! Images of the people of Shara prostrating themselves to her and seeking her guidance flooded her mind. She felt she had deserted them to the wicked Ayyad and could not bring herself to face the tangibility of the evidence before her. She felt so utterly responsible for the death of those thousands of men, and her own husband, and her newborn baby son, regardless of the Ayyad’s control over her.
Soutrik rolled over and began to write in a leather bound journal that Madeline Sedai had given her. The Mistress of Novices was an extraordinary woman, and Soutrik hoped that one day, she too could be like Madeline Sedai. She sighed at the thought, the almost impossibility that she would ever be suitable for the Shawl after what she had just seen. She began to write in the journal she had named Aloysha, after her forgotten self.
What can I tell you other than I am utterly disgusted with myself. I may not have committed any crimes by the law of the land of Shara, but crimes against the Light are a different matter. I feel dirty, Aloysha. I feel unworthy of all the White Tower has offered me, and completely undeserving of any affection that Sven might ever show me.
Ah, my darling one, Svenson. Aloysha, his name brings joy to my heart. These past weeks that he has not spoken to me, ever since that fateful day I told Aeilla Sedai that I loved him, have been wretched. He must have such great contempt for me now so as to never want to touch me, or talk to me ever again. I can’t say that I blame him, but it does not make me love him any less than I do. He is my savior. He has risked his own life for mine without a thought to his own mortality. He has endured excruciating pain while linked to me during my experiences on the Chair of Remorse. He has comforted me emotionally, and we have laughed and cried together. Light, Aloysha, I have even punched him across the face! How under the Light, the man can even stand to be in the same Tower with me is beyond my understanding.
Here upon these pages I can tell you, Aloysha, what is unutterable elsewhere. How can I tell him what I went through now that I know the truth. I am a ruthless murderer. A heartless general of a secret army that stands ready to kill at my very command! Well, thank the Light I am not in Shara anymore. Damn these cursed bracelets! Damn those wretched Ayyd! Why me? That’s all I want to know. How did the Wheel weave its Will in such a way as to make my mind, body, and soul a plaything for the grotesque!? What am I but a walking testament to all things wrong with my homeland? Three thousand years of unbroken peace my ass! The people of Shara are blinded to the truth that is before their very eyes and I am a part of the monstrous conspiracy.
How do I rid my soul of it’s debt to mankind? How do I, the aberrant, anomalous, freakish, Novice of the White Tower, fix all that I have done wrong in my life?
Aloysha, I have come to the conclusion that I need to speak with some of the Yellow Sisters. Maybe if I were to seek the Healing Ajah, I could set right the wrongs I have done by Healing those that need aid? I don’t know. Even Healing won’t help fix what I have ruined with Svenson.”
With that Soutrik closed her journal and snuffed the lights with a miniscule Flow of Air. She knew that she should not channel but she didn’t want to get out of bed, the floor was so cold. She rolled over facing the wall and could hear Hesper breathing through their secret speaking hole.
She dozed off with thought of war games, and practice battles. Twirling daggers and espionage filled her dreams. The faces of her brothers, Jamal and Altec, as the executioners axe removed their heads. Her sister Tamara’s execution. Her own rise to Power. They filled her mind while she slept, her breathing slowing into a gentle rising and falling of her chest.
The sound of movement within her room woke her but she did not move. She could feel someone standing behind her and her mind whirled. An assassin has found me. The Ayyad have come to seek revenge for Sven and I killing Teresa. Soutrik readied her defenses and continued to breathe as if she were asleep.
Leaping from the bed wearing only her shift she channeled the lamps on in her room attacking her assassin with lightening kicks and chops not caring if it were a man or a woman, only looking for weapons and her own escape from their clutches. Images of Jamal and Altec flashing before her eyes she did not see who it was that was there to claim her life until she kicked and punched out and her new name.
Soutrik!" Sven whispered harshly, and she stopped.
"Sven," she said in a sigh, and rubbed her eyes. "What are you doing here?" She asked, and he shrugged, not having an answer. Running a hand through his lengthening hair, he looked at her in her shift. She felt tingles all over her body and delight rushed through her. She almost felt faint at the very sight of him. He has come to me!
"I, um," he began. "I couldn't, uh... couldn't sleep." He said.
Soutrik was somewhat confused and concerned. Grinning a little, Sven walked forward and put his arms around her, hugging her. "I thought I'd come and bug you." He said wryly, and she chuckled. "We haven't had much time to talk lately." He said.
"So you thought we would have a nice chat in the middle of the night?" She said with a grin, looking up at him. Shrugging his brows once, he nodded.
"Indeed." Sven said and pulled her close into another hug.
Soutrik world spun and she thought that maybe she was dreaming. She pinched herself and sucked air between her teeth as the pain rang true. “And what, pray tell, shall we chat about?”
"What shall we chat about?" She asked, looking up at him. Grinning, he shrugged and took one arm from around her, leading her to the bed and taking a seat.
"I don't know, I thought something would come up," he said. Pondering, Soutrik leaned against him.
"Well, what have you done lately in manner of lessons?" She asked. Raising his brows, Sven recalled his past group of lessons, and went into talking about them. He spoke of the Spirit lesson, as well as the Fire and Earth that he failed. Sighing, he shifted on the bed, leaning back against the bedpost. Soutrik lay down across the bed facing him, propping her head on her hand as he spoke.
"I couldn't get that damn swan right," he muttered, and she grinned a little. Smirking himself, Sven yawned and crossed his arms. "And you, my lady?" He asked with a grin, and he chuckled a little as Soutrik blushed. She told him of her own lessons, and the hardships of each.
"Why can't you sleep?" She asked in concern after her story. Shrugging, he yawned at the word sleep. His eye lids were feeling heavier.
"I'm not sure, I just haven't been able to get a wink for a week or two now."
"Bad dreams?" She asked, and he shook his head.
"Nay. Whenever I crawl into bed, I just feel as if I need to be doing something, or that I'm forgetting something important." Shrugging with a sigh, he lowered himself a little on the bed. As he continued to speak, he noticed his eyes were closed.
The movement on the bed told him that Soutie was shifting, but he felt her body lay down next to his. Barely though. Light, she's a tiny thing. He thought to himself offhandedly. He continued droning on about his insomnia, not completely paying attention to his words. Yawning continuously, he shifted in the bed a little. Why is it this bed is more comfortable then mine?
"I don't know," he heard Soutie say in slight amusement, and realized he had spoken aloud. Shrugging his brows indifferently, he moved closer to her, feeling the warmth coming from her body, and the delightful Sea Folk perfume. It was only a slight surprise when he felt slender arms encircle him, and finger delicately stroking his hair. Giving a contented sigh, he felt himself drift into sleep. Before unconsciousness took him, he heard Soutie whisper to him. "I love you, Sven," she said, and he wondered almost momentarily if he imagined it. In his half asleep state, his thoughts barely registered, save one that almost shocked him back awake.
Oh Light! I love her too! He thought frantically. He knew he should leave, should get up and run away from what he felt, but he was far too comfortable, and strangely content. Soon enough, he was fast asleep.
Soutie listened to Sven lament about the loss of sleep, and about his failures in his lessons. She had never before her him reveal so much about himself. It moved her and her heart pounded that he had indeed come to seek her out as a confidant. She felt awed by his need for her to listen to him. She shifted in the bed and snuggled close to his chest, taking in his intoxicating smell, and resting her cheek against his satin flesh, and soft black curls.
Yawning continuously, he shifted in the bed a little. “Why is it this bed is more comfortable then mine?”
“I don’t know.” She said with wry amusement. Maybe because we are in it together. She thought internally. She was happier at this moment than she had been since being found by the Sea Folk alive and floating in a barrel. Yet, still, she felt he needed her and she encircled her arms about him.
Shrugging his brows indifferently, he moved closer to her She felt the warmth coming from his body, and the delightful as his arms embraced her and held her closely to him. She stared adoringly as his expressions began to soften and he looked almost sweet. She brought her finger to delicately stroke his hair. Sven give a contented sigh, and he began to drift into sleep.
Soutie wondered if he could still hear her, and she finally spoke the words to him that she had wanted to weeks before when she had blurted it out in Aeilla’s study to the Aes Sedai. She caressed his cheek and brought her lips close to him, "I love you, Sven," she said. He did not move and continued to breathe slowly, and Soutie felt sleep take her and she clung to her man in the night.
In the predawn light Soutie awoke. It was her normal routine to wake, rise, meditate, and stretch. Sven still slept. She could see his fatigue and insomnia had taken a lot from him and she did not wake him as she left his side, aching to still be touching him.
She turned from the bed and moved to her dresser. Finding a match she lit the one small candle and stick of incense. Kneeling in front of the dresser and then setting herself down on the floor she crossed her legs, her feet coming to rest on top of her thighs in the Ayyad forms of Padmasana and then Sukhasana. She sat on the floor and crossed her legs. She placed her left palm on her left knee and her right arm behind her right hip, palm flat on the floor. On the exhale, she twisted toward the right looking over her right shoulder. She remained there for several breaths, lifting up through the crown of her head as she inhaled, and increased the twisting as she exhaled. She twisted in the other direction and began her meditative softly humming singsong chant under her breath.
She used mantra style meditation. She repeated her mantra in the act of japa. She felt transfixed as the chanting washed over her. Soutie believed in the creative power of sound and its potential to transport her to an expanded state of awareness. She had learned this from the Ayyad who were considered, rishis, or ancient seers. They taught her that all of creation is a manifestation of the primordial sound Om, which is the seed sound of all other sounds, and thus the basis of her mantra. That and the thoughts, “I am at one with the Light, and at peace with my soul.”
She moved her legs forward and began to take on the Dandasana the third of her morning ritual poses. She kept her back very straight, and unfolded her legs, stretching them straight out in front of her. She placed her arms at her sides, hands flat on the floor, back a few inches from the line of her hips, with her fingertips facing forward. She contracted her thighs and lifted her kneecaps. She then flexed her feet, drawing her toes back toward herself and her heels away from herself. She lifted her chest and rolled her shoulders back and down. She bowed her head and looked down at her chest. She breathed in and exhaled watching her chest fall in the pale light.
Soutie moved from pose to pose, next came Janusirsasana, then Chatushpada Pitham. Chatushpada Pitham was also know as the four-legged platform or table pose. She continued to chant under her breath. She bent her knees and placed her feet hip-distance apart with her toes pointing forward. She then moved her hands back about a hand space, 6 to 8 inches, behind the line of her hips, separating them a little more than shoulder width. Keeping her fingertips pointing forward, she inhaled and chanted a little louder. Bending her elbows slightly she inhaled again. As she exhaled, she peeled her tailbone up from the floor bringing her torso into a horizontal line, parallel to the floor. She let her head tilt back and closed her eyes, chanting and inhaling and exhaling and feeling renewed. She straighten her arms and kept her wrists in line with her shoulders, her ankles in line with her knees. She then contracted her buttocks, maintaining a pelvic tilt. She held this position for 3 breaths, and lowered down as she exhaled.
Rolling herself over onto her stomach she stretched out and put her legs out far behind her, raising up on her toes and her hands out in front of her and did about twenty quick push ups. Stopping on her knees, she rose up into a triangle shape, into the position Adho Mukha Svnasana otherwise known as Downward Facing Dog. Her neck was relaxed between her arms, and her spine was lengthened. She held her thighs firm, and straightened her knees, pressing her heels down and holding her buttocks in the air.
“Now that’s a view I could wake up to morning after morning.” Sven said as he rested his head in his palm upon her fluffy pillow while he lounged in her bed.
Soutie tried to ignore him to finish her morning ritual and found it difficult not too look at his intoxicating smile. She walked her feet forward and bent completely in half in the forward bend or Uttanasana pose.
“Now that one is just too tempting.” Sven’s voice was mocking her and she again tried to ignore it but it called to something deep within her. Her knees were straight and her forehead was pressed against her ankle bracelets, her palms on the floor.
“Bet you can’t do this, Sven-dahla.”
“Bet you I won’t be goaded into trying it either.” Sven said as he patted the bed next to him.
She stood upright and swished to him standing in front of the window, the dawn’s rays gleaming from behind her. She would not sit, and looked down at him in her bed with great pleasure. He gazed up at her, and sighed and then she realized, he could again she straight through her shift. She immediately got goosebumps all over her and lingered in front of the window wondering if it was her own excitement, or Sven was pulling one of his touchy feely moves like he had done at the Blue Ajah lesson.
“I take it you slept well?” She smiled as he nodded his head at her and patted the bed again for her to sit.
She sat next to him as he stretched out and filled her tiny little bed. He grabbed her in an embrace, tight to his chest with his strong arms and hugged her to him savoring her scent. Her hands went up to his lengthening black tendrils and she curled them about her finger, his hands caressed her back. She sighed heavily, his touch only teasing her, for she knew this could not happen, he had to go, sneak away so they would not be caught together, no matter that nothing had happened between the two of them, this would still not look good to any of the Aes Sedai. Her heart ached at the thought of him leaving.
She needed to remind him that today was the day that he had agreed to help her with Hesper’s ‘balance’ training in the water garden, but as she opened her mouth to tell him, he pushed his finger to her lips, and gave her a low, ‘ssshhhhhh’. She kissed his finger and he raised an eyebrow at her. She wondered what he was thinking. She knew what she was thinking, Oh, Light, I love him so much. How can I wait until I am Aes Sedai!?”