Black Tower Blues [Mattyyy~]

The World outside the Grey Tower is a vast place.
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Black Tower Blues [Mattyyy~]

Postby Elan » Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:25 am

Brendon Nolaisen
Asha'man of the Black Tower

It was raining again, though Brendon barely noticed the chilly dampness seeping through the wool of his black coat. Days like these, when rain blurred the landscape and made everything grey and a little unreal, he felt like a ghost haunting the Tower grounds; not quite dead but not quite alive, either. For all that anyone noticed him, he might as well have been one. He’d never been popular before and now, after everything that had happened with Alastair, he’d been tolerated at best, only called upon when his skills were needed.

He’d never been popular, but before he’d thought he was doing something worthwhile, if only in enabling Alastair to continue his fight for a better Black Tower. Brendon didn’t know that he’d ever believed such a thing was achievable, but surely trying had counted for something? Now Alastair was gone, his followers either dead or scared into hiding, and Brendon was left with neither friends nor allies, simply… existing, for however much longer he could find reasons to keep getting out of bed in the morning.

It was not much of a life, but for the moment it was easier than actively seeking death.

The rain picked up, plastering his hair to his scalp and turning the training grounds to a muddy mess. The latter was not helped by the fact that a group of Soldiers were busy tearing the ground up in waves of explosions that made the earth shake. Supervising them was a decidedly unglamorous job, more suited to a Dedicated than an Asha’man of over half a century in the service of the Black Tower, but Brendon knew why he was there. The official version was to make sure there was a Healer at hand if anything went wrong. As if anyone here really cared about training casualties.

The rain showed no sign of letting up by the time the bell rang, announcing an end to the training for the afternoon. Brendon waited barely long enough for the most slow-witted of the Soldiers to cease their channelling before he turned on his heels and strode towards the residential district, thinking only of getting out of the rain. He needed a drink.

Unfortunately, fate would have it otherwise. He'd not gone far when the sound of boots splashing in the mud caught his attention. He didn't stop, though; not until the other man called his name.

“Nolaisen!” The voice belonged to an Andoran Asha'man who claimed the name of Taravin. Brendon knew there was nobody in the House who matched the man's age or description, but that didn't seem to matter here; if a man was sufficiently useful and malleable, the M’Hael would let him go around claiming to be the heir to the Seanchan Empire for all he cared. “Wait up!”

Brendon suppressed a sigh and turned to face the intruder. “What can I do for you?”

The fake Taravin was approximately half his age and a head taller, with red-gold hair and an unfortunate boyish look that he likely wouldn't grow out of until his hair started to turn grey, if even then. It made him difficult to take seriously, and by all evidence he wasn’t anywhere near sophisticated enough to turn it into an advantage. Now he was looking at Brendon as though already expecting the Cairhienin to refuse whatever it was that he was about to ask; beneath the all too transparent surface, the Andoran was almost gleefully waiting for an excuse to make it an order, to name drop whichever officer had put him up to this, to assert his dominance.

“The rain needs to stop by tomorrow morning,” the fake Taravin said.

Brendon did sigh, then; a small, carefully moderated, irritable gust of breath. “And you think I can do that,” he replied, not bothering to put enough inflection into his voice to make it a question. “Look at those clouds. It doesn’t take much Talent — which I don’t have — to tell you it’s not going to happen.” A simple affinity for Air and Water didn’t mean he could work miracles with the weather.

Fake Taravin was grinning openly, now. “That’s your problem,” he said. “Or,” he added, clearly trying to make it look like an afterthought, “you can always take Carridus. That should do it.”

“Carridus?” Brendon repeated, frowning; the brute of a Mayener had no more Talent in Cloud Dancing than Brendon did.

“The other Carridus,” the Andoran said with an audible sneer. “It’s not like that big hairy lump is good for anything else. He may as well earn his keep.”

* * *

Brendon found 'the other Carridus' where ever Nate is to be found at this time; he’s big enough to be difficult to miss. Brendon had never talked to the man, never had a reason to — and plenty of reasons not to, because the first Carridus, the Reuben version, generally kept an eye on his brother and was not a pleasant person. Now, however, that would change. Brendon wasn’t intimidated by either Carridus — what was the worst that they could do to him, anyway? — but dealing with difficult people could get very tedious.

None of his misgivings showed on his face, however, as he approached the long-haired man. Big hairy lump, he thought wryly; looking up at the Mayener, the fake Taravin’s description seemed apt enough. But why was he supposedly no good for anything but dealing with the weather? Did he have no skill with anything else? Reportedly he was reasonably strong in the Power. Was he untrustworthy? By all evidence he’d left the Grey Tower to join his brother in the Black Tower, and someone higher up the food chain had to be convinced of his loyalties because he was allowed to go unchecked about the Tower. Of course, the Grey Tower past was not easy to overlook, no matter his present behaviour.

“Nathaniel Carridus?” Brendon said, putting in just the necessary inflection to make it sound like a question though he knew very well whom he was addressing. “I’m Brendon Nolaisen. I hope you didn’t have any plans for the evening; the powers that be want us to fix the weather so looks like we've got a date.”

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Re: Black Tower Blues [Mattyyy~]

Postby Matty » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:51 pm

Nathaniel "Nate" Carridus

It was raining, just as Nate had known it would. The Asha'man was pretty accurate with this, and the novelty was yet to wear off for Reuben or indeed many of the other Asha'man at the Black Tower. But this warred with the general consensus that they leave the Grey Tower castoff to his own devices. Even if they didn't care for that, Nate wasn't an idiot and he knew Reuben wasn't a very popular fellow. Who was to say Reuben's big little brother wasn't the same sort of man?

But he wasn't, and over time Reuben had grown slightly less insistent on being around Nate at all times, so he had managed to make a few acquaintances over time. Normally though, Nate kept himself to himself, doing whatever Reuben needed help with or taking part in some exercise or other. He needed to keep ship shape with the hammer after all, and at the Black Tower he had very little to do apart from teach Cloud Dancing to those with potential. It gave Nate plenty of time to work on his strength, and he gained some satisfaction from being so obviously stronger than his older brother. Luckily Reuben hadn't forbidden him from his training, probably to keep him out of trouble. I miss getting in trouble.

Brendon found Nate at a good time, for Reuben was away on business for the rest of the day, and he trusted Nate to keep to himself at the Carridus house. Nate was normally there, doing his personal training in the small yard area, not caring who saw. He'd just finished his training, a bit of simple weight movement using a shield of Air to keep the worst of the rain off him, though his vest was sodden with sweat anyway. He was just drinking some water and wiping down the metal when the other Asha'man approached and, like the good host he was, Nate just stomped on over to the gate with a smile.

"Brendon," he repeated warmly, looking down at the man and sticking out a thick hand to shake. "Good to meet you. You can call me Nate." His deep voice was pleased at the interaction with other Asha'man, whether it was wanted or not. "I have no plans but, ahhh, it ain't so simple to change the weather." The Mayener shrugged and went to grab his shirt and coat, peeling his vest off in an awkward motion as it was a bit snug. Once out of it he tossed it aside, turning back to face his visitor as he shrugged into the black shirt and started fiddling with the buttons. "When you change the weather too much in one place, it ripples outwards and has an effect on everywhere around it. The more you change, the worse it can be... I mean I can probably shift it a bit but to avoid that sort of trouble it'll take me hours. And probably more skill than I have." Nate knew he wasn't the best, there'd been a few people at the Grey Tower better than him. Not that it was worth thinking about in any way, he was at the Black Tower now and he was probably their best bet. It was quite nice to be needed actually, did this mean they trusted him a little more now? The orders hadn't come from his brother, they'd come from some stranger Nate had probably seen around the Tower but certainly didn't remember. His memory was a bit fuzzy lately though, remembering things didn't come so easily. Maybe because he wasn't thinking as much?

"In any case if that's what the Black Tower wants, then a date it is, though I normally expect to be given dinner." Nate chortled a little, shaking his head as he put on his coat and tied his long hair back with some leather cord. He gave Brendon an expectant look, "are you any good at handling the weather, or is this another test from up above?" The man gave a somewhat exasperated sigh, "I've changed the weather plenty of times before, what do they need the rain clearing for?" Still, an order was an order, and Nate would do as he was told. He gestured for the other man to lead on, "let's find a bit of high ground." It didn't necessarily make it easier, but it did get them somewhere less cluttered, and it did help some with getting an idea of how the weather was working in a wider radius compared to standing in a town.
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Re: Black Tower Blues [Mattyyy~]

Postby Elan » Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:13 pm

Brendon

Unlike his brother, this Carridus had manners. Brendon had to adjust his expectations a little bit as he shook the offered hand; the other man’s grip was firm and his voice pleasant, even friendly. Oh, it was possible that it was all a show, but Brendon didn’t believe it. Pleasant manners could be faked, even friendliness to an extent, but the fake was easy to spot when one knew what to look for; it was often too smooth, too polished, too bright, too calculated, trying too hard in any number of ways. There was none of that in this… Nate. Was this man really Reuben Carridus’ brother?

That was ultimately irrelevant. Besides, two people could share blood and even have the same upbringing and still be wildly different in character. The next obvious question was what had made this Carridus leave the Grey Tower to join his brother here; if it was brotherly love and loyalty, why had it taken this long? If he hadn’t enjoyed his life in the Grey Tower, why had he stayed this long? The question might be obvious but the answer wasn’t, and it might be that the true answer was known only to Nate himself.

Brendon shrugged when Nate asked why the rain needed to be gone. “Maybe so they can parade the Queen’s Guard around tomorrow without anyone muddying their fine boots?” he suggested. Traditionally, the Black Tower had to allow the Queen’s Guard to inspect the premises whenever the Queen wanted to send them, though in practice the Guards visited but a few times a year and the Black Tower always showed its best face on those days. “I have no particular Talent for working the weather,” he went on, “though I’m familiar with the theory and can assist without getting in your way as long as you do the heavy lifting.”

There was a plot-conveniently placed hill just west of the main Black Tower grounds, and that was where Brendon led his new acquaintance. The Black Tower compound looked dark and forbidding from here despite the saidin-powered lights that illuminated the area. Maybe it was the rain. Maybe it was Brendon’s mood affecting his perception of reality.

“This should do for a location,” he said, gazing at the deep purple clouds that hung heavy over the land. The clouds simply didn’t speak to him; he could tell they were rain clouds, because it was raining, and he’d seen a lot of rain in his life, but he had no particular instinct telling him what to do about clearing them. He had to assume it was different for someone with the Talent. “Where do we start?” he asked. Once Nate started channelling, he should be able to pick up on the pattern of what the other man was doing and then add in his efforts. It was a pity they couldn’t link, but such was life. “If we get this done in decent time, I’ll even buy you that dinner.”

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Re: Black Tower Blues [Mattyyy~]

Postby Matty » Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:44 pm

Brendon seemed friendly enough, nicer than the other Asha'man Nate had encountered so far. They normally treated him with contempt, disdain or just plain blanked him. Some were getting pretty civil, and maybe over time people would forget where he came from, and be more friendly with him. It just wasn't the same as the Grey Tower...but I'm happy here! he reminded himself, and just like that he was content again.

"Whatever it's for, I know I don't have much choice," he said with a shrug, and off they went. "If you don't have the Talent that's fine, you won't be able to mess anything up but I don't know how much help you'll be. Still," the man smiled, "it's better than me doing all the work on my own, so I'm not complaining. Maybe you just haven't had the right teacher." He took easy, long strides up the hill, not minding the rain as his thick hair soon grew wet, and he cooled off from his exercise. Truth be told he wasn't all that keen on changing the weather but he was under orders, and he was in no position to be questioning them. It just... felt right, how things were right then.

"It's a shame to move the rain," he muttered, "makes my nose itch." He gave Brendon another small smile, "the way I think about changing the weather like this, is like... you're trying to stroke a cat the wrong way. You have to be real gentle, otherwise it bites back. But if you're careful enough, it'll never notice." He gestured upwards, "I can feel where the clouds have come from, where they're going, and how long we're expecting rain for. Sort of. I need to coax it to behave differently and if I do it wrong, the Queen's Guard will be inspecting us on boats." Nate rubbed his hands together and seized Saidin, pointing up at where he was forming thick, long weaves of Air and Water. Neither of these were Fire, his preferred element, but they felt right as he began to cast the broad net across the sky, catching at the clouds and starting to shift them just so. He couldn't explain what he was doing so much as he was acting on a sensation, but it had to be similar to how people felt when they explained Healing to those who couldn't Heal? Maybe? Nate was happy to channel, drawing on as much of Saidin as he could to get the job done, though there were no visible changes for some time.

With a look of concentration on his face, Nate made a few quiet remarks about moving clouds and what the air pressure was doing, but for the most part he was quiet. He moved his arms every so often through habit rather than need, and when he was more into the process he just folded them. "This would be quicker if I could link with a woman," he told Brendon. "Though there's not so many here compared to what I had at the Grey Tower. Still, I think I can do it. Can you feel the pressure in the air lessening?" It was starting to feel more like the end of a rainstorm than the middle of it, a subtle difference Nate wasn't sure Brendon would fully appreciate. Or maybe he was well aware and Nate was confusing what was his Talent and what was just normal behaviour from a person.

"So this dinner," Nate went on, his mind turning to things other than the roar of Saidin in his veins and the struggle with molten ice and frozen fire that made him feel more alive than ever before, "what'll it be? I think we're making good time on this rain, you know."
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Re: Black Tower Blues [Mattyyy~]

Postby Elan » Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:51 am

Brendon

At first Brendon tried copying Nate’s weaves, but it soon became obvious that no matter what he did, the weather simply didn’t respond to him in the same way and so he left it to his companion and just watched and listened with fascination. It was not so much that he was interested in the subject matter, though it was always a pleasure to watch someone who knew what they were doing, but more that this Nate was so much nicer than he’d expected. It was… refreshing, in a way, to have something resembling normal human interaction again.

He gave a small shrug when Nate asked if he could feel the air pressure growing lighter. “I’ve no idea what that’s supposed to feel like,” he said lightly, “but I’ll take your word for it. Though,” he added, almost surprised to hear a touch of real humour in his own voice, “it would have been entertaining to make the Queen’s Guard row here.”

Though Brendon couldn’t tell the difference, it was clear that Nate was optimistic about the progress on the weather. “What would you prefer?” he asked in return. “We may have to go to Caemlyn for that dinner, though.” The cooks in the tavern that operated in the Tower grounds knew only one type of food, and that type was 'smothered in grease'. Life in the Black Tower taught one to eat basically anything, but that didn't mean you learnt to enjoy it.

He glanced up at Nate. “Or it doesn’t have to be Caemlyn,” he added. After all, distance was a non-issue with Travelling at their disposal. “We can go anywhere. If it’s ice peppers you fancy, we can go all the way to Saldaea. Or something. I don’t mind.” And he didn’t, really; any excuse to leave the Tower for a little while, to get away for a little while was worth taking and it didn’t matter where they were going. It was not that Brendon needed an excuse — he was free to come and go as he pleased, at least for the moment — but there just didn’t seem to be much point in going anywhere, most of the time… So maybe he needed that excuse after all.

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Re: Black Tower Blues [Mattyyy~]

Postby Matty » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:49 pm

Still Nate ermagurd

There was an awkward pang in Nate's chest that came and went in an instant, sliding across the edge of the void. Dinner in Caemlyn or Saldaea sounded great, and Nate had never cared about where he made a Gateway to or from before, but things were different now. Now, he was at the Black Tower, and not allowed to leave. It was most awkward, but then it had become such a habit for the former Blue that when he replied, it was in the usual easy, unaffected manner. "Oh, I'm not allowed to leave the Black Tower," he said lightly. That he was allowed on this hill was only on a mere technicality. "You'd have to bring something back, or we can go eat at the usual place. It's not as good as I'm used to but hey... those are my orders."

Nate continued to clear the weather, which took much of his time, and provided an opportunity for more silence than he preferred. Eventually the clouds were clear enough that, if left to it, they would continue to disperse. The rain was a mere trickle now (though Nate was thoroughly wet), and by midnight it would be a clear sky. Nate hoped. He might have to wake up early and coax it along some more but he couldn't feel any imminent rain in the next day or two. The man released Saidin and looked pleased. "Alright, that's the weather doing its thing. We won't have any rain tomorrow, but it'll probably make up for it in a couple of day's time. As long as they know... you can't just remove something from where it should be without some sort of gap, a remuneration. Nature will gets its way in the end."

Hands on his hips, Nate looked at the sky, satisfied, before scooping his hair up into a ponytail to wring out. Reuben wouldn't like it if he traipsed back muddy and soaked, and he was in no rush to return either. "So listen," he said, "sorry I can't leave but if you still wanted to go somewhere on Tower grounds we could, no problem! As long as you don't mind being around one of those old Grey Tower trained men." The man gave a smile and a shrug, "it isn't popular with most people, but I promise I'm not all bad. Besides, I'm here now and, I like the Black Tower." There was barely a pause before he said that, a shift in his expression from beseeching to perfunctory. The smile and the statement died off as one and he gestured back down the hill, "it looks kind of muddy, I'll go first - otherwise if I fall I'll take you down with me and I can't Heal a splinter."
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Re: Black Tower Blues [Mattyyy~]

Postby Elan » Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:39 pm

Brendon

Brendon frowned slightly as the other man said he was not supposed to be leaving the Tower. Why? Full-ranked Asha’man generally had no such restrictions placed on them, not under normal circumstances, and as far as he’d heard, Nate had caused no trouble since his arrival. Does his brother think he’ll run away? Nate didn’t seem like he might harbour such thoughts, but it was still possible that he was simply a good actor… however hard Brendon might find that to believe.

The rain continued to gradually slow down as Nate coaxed the weather into cooperating. The man mostly worked in silence now, and Brendon didn’t mind; silence was easy, one could sink into it like into the ocean; even the most awkward silence required less effort than trying to fill that silence with something meaningful. He let the silence wrap around him, like a cloak or a Ward, until it was almost jarring when Nate spoke again, stating that the weather was as fixed as it was going to get. “That’s good enough for me,” Brendon replied. He didn’t care a whit either way, but if the powers that be wanted to show the world that it’s always sunny in the Black Tower, who was he to question it.

He listened patiently as Nate explained again that he wasn’t allowed to leave the Tower. There was something very open and honest about the man, and the more Nate spoke, the less Brendon was inclined to believe that he was simply a very good actor and out to deceive everybody, his brother included. Was the restriction meant to simply assert the other Carridus’ power over his brother? That wouldn’t have been terribly out of character for what Brendon knew of Reuben. But… I'm here now and, I like the Black Tower.

Brendon snorted softly. “What’s not to like?” he said. “People are so nice to each other, the Queen of Andor loves having us on her doorstep, oh, and the weather’s amazing.” That was probably uncalled for; Nate was at least trying to be civil, unlike so many long-time residents of the Black Tower. Brendon sighed and clasped the taller man’s shoulder briefly. It wasn’t Nate’s fault. “Don’t mind me. Sure, we can just head to the tavern, I don’t want any trouble for you.”

He followed Nate back down the hill and into the Tower grounds. To this day, there was nothing to properly call a ‘tower’ within the compound; the first M’Hael had built a palace for himself and his favourites, and those who had claimed the title after him hadn’t bothered to change that, only expanded the palace as needed. Soldiers and Dedicated were housed in massive, blocky buildings just off the training grounds, and an odd sort of village filled the rest of the compound. Some men still brought their families along and lived with them in houses in the village, but in Brendon’s experience, those marriages rarely lasted longer than a few years. When you were suddenly faced with the reality that you were going to outlive your wife and children by centuries… That kind of thing changed a man. After a while, most wives just took their children and left, quietly, without a fuss. Most husbands let them.

The tavern in the Tower grounds was called just that, the Tavern, and most people didn’t even bother with the capital letter when referring to said establishment. It wasn’t the only place to eat, or drink for that matter, it was simply the only one that had been consistently open through the decades Brendon had been in the Black Tower. Others came and went as people decided operating in the Black Tower grounds wasn’t quite as glamorous as they’d expected, but the Tavern remained.

The current proprietor was no channeller, though Brendon could have sworn she’d not aged a day in the past twenty years at least. “What shall it be, boys?” was her default greeting regardless of rank or, indeed, age; all Asha’man were ‘boys’ to her.

“Food for me and my friend here,” Brendon replied. “And… whatever he wants to drink; I’ll have the same.” He found a table and sat down, looking at Nate. Why did you come here? Why are you so content to be confined to this miserable place? But he couldn’t exactly voice those questions; besides not being any of his business, it was all kinds of rude to question Nate’s decisions like that, and he didn’t want to be rude. “You don’t have many friends here, do you?” he asked instead. That was possibly no less rude, but then, Nate had all but admitted as much himself. “But… at least you have your brother, right?”


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