Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Trying to Write Through Pain

   This week's musing is not so much about writing but how pain can affect my attempts at writing.
   Several weeks ago I injured my left knee doing things a sixty-four year old shouldn't be doing. Even with medication, the pain made it difficult to sleep and definitely affected my concentration while trying to write. I did manage to squeeze out a scene for last week's Saturdayscenes, but my lack of concentration showed in the quality of the writing. I also managed to make it through an edit of a short story I sent to Karen Conlin and wrote last week's blog post. I accomplished a few things but not as much as I wanted.
   I finally got in for an MRI on Saturday and unless you're a medical student or doctor, the findings are written in a language foreign to me. I did pick out several words such as torn, sprained, excessive fluid and degeneration. I talked to my family doctor today and he believes that at my age, surgery wouldn't be necessary, but I'll find out for sure when I get a chance to talk to an orthopedic surgeon.
   The point of all this is aimed at my younger readers. Protect your knees while you have the chance. The overall poor condition and damage to my knees is the result of working for years in the construction business not wearing knee protection and carrying more weight than I should. Proper lifting technics kept me from hurting my back but put an excessive load on my knees. Always wear knee protection of some sort when working on your knees and make more trips with a smaller load each time or find someone to help you when moving materials.

OK, enough lecturing! Here is another scene from my Fan/Fic. It's a little longer than the others but couldn't find a spot to break it up. Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading.

This is not how it was supposed to be, Alanna grumbled. Somehow that man, Rand al’Thor, had reversed the Warder bond she laid on him. The idea had seemed so simple at the time when she thought of it. She would put the Bond on him and gently guide him to his destiny at the Last Battle. The reality was that she had tried to tame a raging torrent and felt like a mouse desperately clinging to the back of a charging war horse. Some aspects of the Warder Bond worked as they should since she was always aware of his emotions and could sense where he was even when separated by hundreds of leagues. What wasn’t part of the Bond was the nagging desire to please him.

When the small gate had opened just above her writing desk and deposited a letter with her name on it, she had been too stunned to move. Not only by the suddenness of the letter appearing but by the overwhelming presence of Rand. Everyone had been on edge since he disappeared days before. Ripping open the letter in unseemly haste for an Aes Sedai , she let the envelope drop as she scanned the contents. As she had known, it was from Rand and asked her to pack quickly and meet him in the Heart of the Stone in five minutes. He had an important mission for her that he couldn’t trust to anyone else.

One part of her silently fumed at what she was doing. She was Alanna Mosvani of the Green Ajah and had been Aes Sedai for over fifty years yet here she was in the Borderlands, hiding behind an illusion and spying for the Dragon. The rest of her was filled with a peace and a sense of rightness like she had never felt before. The Bond with Rand was now a ray of pure sunshine that warmed her and filled her with hope. A sharp point of jealousy stabbed her heart when she saw the golden veins of love that coursed out to the other women who had bonded him. She was old enough to understand that some things could never be changed no matter how much she would like them to.

Rand explained how he needed someone to inspect the Borderlands and give an accurate and un-biased assessment. He was especially concerned about the progress of his good friend Lan Mandragoram, who was traveling to Tarwins Gap in Shienar to attack the Trollocs massing there. Rand knew that Lan would attack whether he was riding alone or with an army. Either way he was planning on riding to his death. Rand needed enough advance notice to make sure he could deliver an army large enough to prevent that from happening.

Alanna traveled first to the Silverwall Keeps at Firchon Pass. The Keeps were built to protect the border between Kandor and Arafel and covered both sides of the pass. Only a small opening between the two Keeps allowed passage. The number of Malkieri she found gathered there was astonishing considering the fact that the nation of Malkier had been destroyed by the Trollocs about the time that Alanna had first worn the shawl of an Aes Sedai. During the intervening years, the Blight had continued to spread south completely consuming what was left of their nation.

Casting the weaves to hide her ability to channel and mask her ageless Aes Sedai face did nothing to change her attitude. Dressed as a Lady from a minor House with her glossy black hair and penetrating dark eyes, people reacted to her with respect and honor. Her attitude expected it. She was Aes Sedai after all. The reality was that she was in the Borderlands where all women were held in higher esteem than in the south.  

“Peace my Lady. The King will arrive when he arrives. Where else will he go? He must travel through the Firchon Pass if he means to attack at Tarwin’s Gap.”

The elderly man and his equally graying wife were patiently leaning against a wagon filled with supplies along with their children and grandchildren. All were wearing bits and pieces of armor scavenged from attics and barns and all had a weapon of some kind. What confused Alanna was the fact that these people were from Shienar and she had seen folks from all the other Borderlands as well.

“Master Fredo, I can understand why the Malkieri are gathering but why do I see people from all the other kingdoms here?”

“For the memory of Malkier, Lady Alanna. When I was a young man neither Arafel nor Shienar were Borderlands. Malkier stood between us and the Blight but we always sent men north to join the Lancers of Malkier when Trollocs threatened. The last King of Malkier rides north to battle and we are honor bound to join him.”

Gliding from group to group, Alanna discovered a truth hovering just under the thoughts of everyone she met. All of the farmers, tradesmen and fighters were gathered here for only one reason; to die. They weren’t here to answer the call of the Dragon Reborn. They had come to ride behind the banner of the Goldren Crane, the last King of Malkier and to take the battle to the enemy. An undercurrent of sorrow could be seen in the faces of the women as they tried to encourage their men, hiding glistening eyes behind their smiles. Some had chosen to fight and die alongside their sons, husbands and fathers rather than to live without them.

The earth began to tremble as waves of sound radiated out from a point just past the gates of the Keep. Thousands of voices were raised in cries of hope and joy. It took Alanna a moment to pick out the actual words from the roar as the crowd settled into a chant. The Golden Crane! and Peace Favor the King! So it begins.

The southern end of Firchon Pass erupted into organized chaos as horses were hitched to wagons and people began striking camp. In short order, wagons and men on horses began lining up to pass through the gates and follow their King. Having commandeered a seat on a supply wagon driven by a youth from Arafel, Alanna stayed with the army for the two days it required to reach the fortress at Fal Dara. Once there, the word came down that the army would attack Tarwins Gap on the morning of the second day.

Now that Alanna knew when Lan was planning his attack, she needed to hurry and inspect the borders of Kandor and Arafel before returning to Rand. Having spent the last couple of nights inside the wagon, she knew it well enough to open a gate to a small stand of trees about a league west of Chachin, the capitol city of Kandor. The skies here were darker here than anywhere else she had been. The underbrush showed no signs of life and the trees were dry, bare skeletons, their branches hanging limp. Littering the ground were the bones of small animals who had called this spot their home. As she hurried away from the death and decay, she couldn’t stop brushing her hands against her skirt in a vain attempt to wipe away the evil she felt.

The time for secrecy was past so she removed the weaves that hid her features and her ability to channel. Alanna knew that there were Aes Sedai with the army camped around the Capitol and they would be the best source of information.

She strode, unchallenged, through the rings of sentries surrounding the camp and after receiving directions from a young officer, approached a large isolated tent. A privacy weave had not been raised since she could hear voices from inside the tent which meant she wouldn’t be interrupting. In a normal voice she announced, “Alanna Mosvani of the Green Ajah. May I enter and speak with you?”

A moment of silence from within, then the tent flap was thrust aside revealing a tall, fiery haired woman with a boyish figure, a multitude of freckles and wearing a dark green dress.

“Alanna!” she exclaimed with a smile lighting up her face. “It really is you. Light be praised! It’s wonderful to see you again. Please come in. We have been in the dark for so long, hopefully you can separate truth from rumor for us.”

Alanna relaxed and returned her smile, “Candance, what a relief to find a friendly face. I will tell you what I can but my time is short. I was sent to assess your situation and report back quickly.”

Entering the tent she scanned the faces of the women gathered inside. It appeared that every Ajah was represented by at least one woman. Graciously accepting a chair and a cup of tea handed to her by a young Yellow, Alanna relaxed even further as she recognized every Sister there and none were on the list of suspected Black Ajah that the Amyrlin had been circulating.

“To avoid wasting your time and mine by asking me questions I might not have answers to, I will tell you what I know to be truth. The White Tower is whole again and Egwene al’Vere was properly raised as Amyrlin. She chose Silviana Brehon of the Red Ajah to be her Keeper of the Chronicles. Let me assure you, Egwene may be the youngest Amyrlin the Tower has ever had but she is no one’s puppet. She has already defeated one of the Forsaken in a direct confrontation and managed to un-mask the Black Ajah. I will see that the list of known Black Sisters is sent to you. Also, Rand al’Thor, along with Nynaeve Sedai, cleansed the male half of the Source which means we no longer need to fear men who can channel. The Dragon has gathered all the armies of the south and plans to send them to the areas of the Borderlands which are in greatest need. Possibly as early as tomorrow he plans on traveling directly to Shayol Ghul , break the remaining seals and confront the Dark One.”

 Alanna paused to take a sip of her tea and wait for the Sisters to absorb what she had just told them. She knew they would have questions even though she had asked for none.

Candance glanced at the other Aes Sedai, stood up brushing her skirt and then cleared her throat. “Alanna, my old friend, we are here because we disagreed with the Tower’s intention to guide and control al’Thor. The Prophesies are clear. The Dragon must be free to fight this battle in the way he decides. We believe that the Aes Sedai will only play a supporting role in the upcoming battle. So, how can we assist you in accomplishing your mission?”

Alanna saw nothing but determination in the faces of the women around her and a real desire to help.

“I have heard that some of the Watch Towers north of here have gone silent. Do you have any estimate of the number of Trollocs moving south or when they might attack the Capitol?”

A few of the women lowered their heads while several raised tea cups to pursed lips but none would look her in the eye. A moment passed in awkward silence as Candance sat down, then answered Alanna in a quiet voice.

Heath Tower, which is about halfway to the Blight, was the last tower to be heard from and they went silent last night. None of the other towers have reported in days. We’ve opened small gates by several of the towers to send out scouts but none have returned. We could see Heath Tower in the distance and it had a column of smoke rising from the top. The other towers appear dark and deserted.”

Alanna surged up out of her chair, threw her cup to the floor and glared at every one of her fellow sisters. “Why has no one traveled to Heath Tower to bring men and supplies or at least check for survivors? How can you sit here and do nothing when you know that men could still be alive out there?”

“Alanna Mosvani,” Candance fired back. “Do you think we would just sit here if we could do something for those men? I am the only one of us strong enough to open a gate and then it’s only large enough for one person. The Queen decided it would be a waste of lives to try and send men through one at a time.”

Scorn dripped from her voice as Alanna surveyed the room. “Have I discovered a tent full of Novices? Since when do Aes Sedai listen to the whims of a Queen. Bloody ashes, Candance. There are enough of you to link and form a full circle which would enable you to open a gate large enough for a full squad of men to pass through.”

Earlier she had felt Rand move to a spot not far to the south which meant that he was at the Fields of Melinor and would need her report before meeting with the rulers gathered there. She was running out of time.

1 comment:

  1. Great advice to wear your safety gear and take care of yourself. Sadly we really don't think long term when we are young.

    You build amazing mystical worlds. I love how much I learned about the world and did not feel like you were shoving information down my throat.