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Toil and Trouble...


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#1 Grimm

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 08:32 PM

Baran stumbled into a large room safely within the Asha'man's Quarters within the Stone of Tear with the last crate of Ter'Angreal gleaned from the Great Holding in his arms, sweat covering his face. He carefully laid his burden on one of two tables requisitioned specifically to hold the Ter'Angreal before they were sent to the Black Tower. He stretched up, his back arching as he pushed his fists into the muscle just above his hips and resisted the urge to yawn.

Other men in the room were doing the same, Soldiers for the most part, all of them tired from another day of fetching and carrying Ter'Angreal from one room to another. Baran looked around the room, his lips compressing in distaste as he realized that he was the only Dedicated in the room. Eight Asha'man lounged indolently in rough circles at each table, pawing through the crates as they made rough examinations of each suspected Ter'Angreal.

"Good work, men. Dedicated, find these Soldiers something to eat and a place to sleep. There's more work to be done tomorrow." One of the Asha'man said, waving a dismissive hand at Baran after a quick glance at the Sword pin on his collar. Schooling his face to stillness, Baran saluted and turned to the Soldiers, his mouth open to issue commands. His charges, however, had been here as long as he had, and knew where to find their food and beds. They had already assembled into a rough line and were making their way to the kitchens. Baran felt an odd sense of satisfaction that his men knew exactly what to do. He hardly registered his nod as he turned around to salute the Asha'man again.

"Halt!" The Asha'man who had spoken before rounded on Baran with an expression of cold arrogance. Behind Baran, the line of Soldiers stopped. "Your men moved without your command, Dedicated. It seems they need a lesson in discipline. We don't want them wandering off deciding what to do in battle, now do we?" He shifted his gaze to address the Soldiers. "Now, why don't you men grab another two more loads before you go to your supper? Maybe that will teach you to listen to your commanding officer before going off and doing what you think should be done!" The last bit was shouted loud enough to drive spittle into Baran's upward tilted face, forcing the younger man to blink or be blinded by spit.

Grumbling, the Soldiers obeyed. After a moment, Baran turned to follow.

"Dedicated."

Fighting back an irritated sigh, Baran turned back to the Asha'man and saluted. "Asha'man?"

"Your men must lack discipline because you do not enforce it strictly enough. Bring back a third load by yourself before sleeping."

Baran nodded and saluted again, very carefully making sure he was out of earshot before beginning to grumble about the fellow.
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#2 Grimm

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 09:57 PM

The next day, Baran was thankfully free of Soldiers to order about. Most of them had been sent back to the Black Tower to continue their training, now that the need for heavy lifting had passed, at least for the moment. Now, Baran and a handful of other Dedicated were in charge of moving and labeling each Ter'angreal as it was inspected and labelled according to the discoveries of the Asha'man who had examined it. The ends of each table were growing a bit cluttered with inspected objects of the Power, though most sat on top of papers that spoke of yet another failure in identifying the purpose of the object.

So Baran worked, carefully moving the papers and their objects into small crates for temporary storage, doing his level best not to mix anything up. It was difficult for him though, as he had only just learned to read since coming to the Black Tower. A miner didn't need to know how to read, after all, just where to put the earth he dug up. Leave it to the foreman to tally and to men smarter than him to label and ship things. No, Baran hadn't needed to read before coming to the Tower, and he was still painfully trying to pick up the skill.

He was looking at one of the labels, a small ring with an amber stone set in it in his other hand, trying to sound out the words, when his work was interrupted by an outburst from one of the Asha'man. Baran lifted his head, looking over at the older man, who was rubbing his temples and glaring balefully at a familiar looking disc sitting atop the table. Of course it would be that one. Baran saw the Asha'man preparing flows of Fire, Earth, and Spirit, sending them out to probe at the thing in an attempt to get it to activate. Though something told Baran all those would do is give the man an even greater headache than the one he was experiencing.

With that in mind, Baran trotted over to the Asha'man. As he approached the man, he straightened as much as he could and slammed his misshappen fist to his chest. "Asha'man, if I may have a word?" The Asha'man in question looked up at him, irritation plain on his face. Obviously, the man hadn't expected the normally quiet Baran, of all people, to interrupt him in his duties.

"I hope you have a very good reason to speak to me, Dedicated. Are there Trollocs in the Stone, perhaps?" The Asha'man rubbed at his temples again, closing his eyes to sigh for a moment before looking back up at Baran expectantly. "Well?"

"No, Asha'man, there are no Trollocs. I was only going to inform you that that Ter'angreal might not respond well to your probes. Perhaps Air and-" The rest of Baran's advice was cut off by an eruption from the Asha'man.

"You interrupted me to tell me how I should do my task, Dedicated? Perhaps you wish to tell me how I should do the rest of my work as well! I do not often find myself in the position of being ordered about by lower ranking men. What makes you think that I would even entertain listening to anything you have to say at this point? Go back to doing what you've been ordered to do, Dedicated, and leave the job of Asha'man to an Asha'man!"

The other Asha'man had taken notice of the disturbance by now, and most were smirking as Baran was shouted down. Some moved around the table to get a better view of what was going on. Baran, for his part, was just relieved that he had self-control enough to not let his own anger show on his face. Instead, he simply nodded and stiffly turned around, intent on his boxes and papers. Let the man have his headaches then, let the fool choke on them!

"Dedicated, have you forgotten something? Something that should be said? Perhaps something along the lines of 'Yes, Asha'man'?" Baran stopped at the sound of the other man's voice, doing his best to keep his anger in check. In a last ditch effort of defense, he formed the Void and used it to shield himself from his anger. Inside the Void, he knew what must be done and did it.

"My apologies, Asha'man. I will remember in the future." His voice sound cold to him, distant, but inside the Void, it didn't really matter what was said. His anger was outside of him, walled away behind the Void. Still, he could feel it scraping the surface, trying to find a way in as it seethed outside of him.

"Yes you will, Dedicated, because you are going to move these Ter'angreal out of this room by yourself when we are done with them, but first you are going to watch me successful activate this one now turn around and watch! You can do the rest of your work later. Possibly during mealtime." The Asha'man seemed to enjoy taking away food as punishment, but Baran had grown used to that. He hadn't lost too much weight, but there times when he felt like he should have. Still, he turned and watched the fool stubbornly batter the thing with Fire and Earth in vain, each time clutching at his head anew.

Hours later, Baran finally could take no more. The Asha'man had by this time reduced himself to crouching on the floor, glaring at the Ter'angreal as he continued his attempts to force it to work. The fool refused to even try what Baran had tried to tell him to do, refused to even touch the thing with Spirit, but Baran had a growing feeling that it was either Spirit or Air that would get the thing to work.

Suddenly, the Asha'man dropped the Ter'angreal and covered his eyes, letting out a scream of pain and frustration. Baran didn't even realize what he had done until he had Seized Saidin and channeled a Shield around the Asha'man. He thought to himself that perhaps he had spent too much time training new recruits as every Asha'man in the room suddenly looked at him.

The first club of Air caught him across the back of his head, knocking him to his knees. In the space of seconds, too more to the same spot found him on the floor, and he quickly fell into merciful unconsciousness as the pummeling continued.
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