|The Grey Tower
|Spirit, Water, Air, Earth, Fire
Dendhra is a tall woman standing at 6'1. She has a willowy body structure and skin the same colour of bronze. Her eyes are startlingly emerald, and though she seems the typical Aiel, her hair is slightly darker than that which is common in the Waste, and its hue is that of blood. She is more handsome than beautiful, her face seeming very angular and harsh at times, and there is little softness in her demeanour. Her personality is very difficult to comprehend. She is as stubborn as a mule and seems to suffer from chronic disobedience. She blunders about making choices and statements without ever thinking about the consequences, and rarely sheds one moments concern about it.
Dendhra finds it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible to trust anyone apart from her mother, and though she claims to obey no one she is unconsciously indoctrinated by her mother to follow her command. Dendhra's mother is the former Keeper of Chronicles, a Green Aes Sedai Deranih currently being held captive by a small renegade formation of Tardaad Aiel in the Waste. The two of them are very similar to each other both on the outside and the inside, and especially so as far as fierceness goes.
Though Dendhra gives off the impression of being particularly nasty and unsympathetic, she can be kind at times as long as she is not ordered to do anything by anyone. She is good at solving problems - if she can spot them - and carries a great deal of confidence around her. Having grown up as an outcast with the Aiel people, she has seen many horrible things and has witnessed a lot of death and destruction. Because of this, Dendhra thinks very poorly of war and fighting, as well as discrimination against those who are considered different.
Fiery and passionate though often foolhardy and obstinate, Dendhra is not an easy person to get along with, but in times of need, when it is absolutely necessary she can be a levelheaded person to rely upon.
There was the sound of footsteps near the tent. Dendhra didn't move. She opened one eye drowsily and peered between her dark eyelashes towards the source of the sound. Reason told her that it was not very likely that there should be someone all too dangerous skulking about, but she did not think twice before searching and finding the dagger beneath her pillow. Her hot fingers felt the cool surface of the thing and at once she was overcome by a sense of relief.
"Dendhra," whispered the familiar voice of her mother. The girl sat up slowly, her face intent now, the feigned lethargy disappearing at once. Deranih entered the tent in one smooth motion and sat down beside her daughter, holding a small bag in her one hand. In the dark shadows of the night the old woman's face seemed frightful. She was a gaunt, wiry woman with an unsmiling, angular mouth and one blazing emerald eye shining like hellfire in her dark bronze face. A dark cloth concealed the place where her left eye should have been but was no more - something of which Deranih never spoke about. And Dendhra never asked. Her mother was a proud woman despite her position with the Aiel.
"Be quiet and listen to me, please." Dendhra crossed her legs and leant closer to her mother, more alert than before, but now concerned. There was the merest flicker of anxiety upon her mother's emotionless and ageless face, a flaw in her stony demeanour, rarer than water in the blistering desert.
Similarly to her daughter, Deranih crossed her legs beneath her bulky skirts and leant closer to her daughter, their heads almost touching. At this proximity, Dendhra could see signs of her mother's cropped fire-coloured hair turning white, which added to the growing suspicion of the girl that her mother was older than she said. Odd, that there should be no signs of age upon her face though.
As far as Dendhra could remember, Deranih had always looked the same. Always cool, always levelheaded. Always ageless. No matter how much blood she bled she never flinched, never shed a tear. She never smiled, never spoke unless it was absolutely necessary. The Aiel treated her like a slave, a prisoner without dressing her in white, yet even so all the warriors and some of the younger Wise Ones bowed whenever they saw her, they moved out of her way, cringing, faces split between admiration and apprehension. Fear. The Aiel feared her; even the Wise Ones did though they pretended they did not. But Dendhra could read their faces of trepidation. They watched her mother as they would watch a lioness threatening to break free of her bonds, at any second now, ready to take her revenge out on the ones who caged her.
"It's time for you to go." Deranih said simply, staring at her daughter in silence as if expecting her to nod and start walking at once. Dendhra did not say anything. The silence between the two women hung like a pungent odour in the air, overbearing and nauseating. Deranih glanced over her shoulder, wary as always, always waiting for the next attack, the next payment in blood.
"I'm sending you to the Grey Tower now, it's time. You must remember everything I've taught you, understand? Don't forget anything." She was speaking quickly now, and there seemed to be sweat forming on her forehead. Dendhra felt goose bumps run down her spine. "There is no time to explain. I will contact you. Do not forget who you are," she took a firm grasp on her daughter's shoulders at the same time as she shoved the small bag onto Dendhra's lap. "Do not forget who loves you and who doesn't. You are yourself, and not be defined through the torment of past times." Dendhra had never received a proper explanation as to why she and Deranih were not Aiel, even though they both clearly were.
Deranih and Dendhra both were tall and wiry, their skin as dark as the sunset. Deranih had hair the same colour of fire, whilst Dendhra's took the colour of dark blood. They both had brilliantly emerald eyes, Dendhra almost more so than her mother, something that Deranih would explain in a mumble during her occasional stupors was because of Dendhra's father, whom otherwise was rarely mentioned. In any case they were both clearly strong Aiel descendants, but Deranih refused to call herself such. As did all other Aiel. The two women were outside society, outside ji'e'toh in some fashion. They did not even qualify to be called da'tsang. They were beyond despise.
"Do not fear. Do not take orders from anyone unless you must. Do not believe everything you hear. Do not trust anyone. Do not trust your dreams. Do not-" her voice seemed to tremble for a moment. "-Don't worry about me. I will speak to you when I am able to reach you. There is no more time now, it is time to go." Deranih let go of her daughter and listened to the sounds of the night for a few seconds. She glanced at her daughter and sighed, seeming to remember something. "There should be- a small chest of sorts that was once mine. It should be somewhere in the vaults, it's guarded by a very powerful ward that only you and I can break as you know. Find it and take care of it. It's yours." She did not meet her daughter's eyes now. "I am going to channel in a few seconds, when the Gateway is open you must jump through as quickly as you can, I wont be able to keep it open for too long, because they'll notice. But there should be time for you to get to the other side." Dendhra swallowed heavily, her jaw clenching shut.
"There are things I want to say." Dendhra said in a rushed whisper. Deranih glanced at her child, and for a second there seemed to be a distant affection in her callous eye.
"I know. There will be time for everything. I will explain, but now you must go." Dendhra nodded and stood up, flexing her arms and legs to prepare for action. The pace of her heartbeat quickened at once as fear seeped into her brain. All the questions she wanted to ask bundled up in her head like a vicious fur ball, gathering like a storm inside her, but there was no time. Deranih was going to channel any second now.
Dendhra held her breath in anticipation, waiting for the warm feeling and glittering light that announced that her mother was channelling, using the One Power. She hardly ever did, the Wise Ones usually kept a very strong shield, held by at least four of them at all times of the day. Except when they needed Deranih's powers. The shield must have broken somehow! Dendhra bit her lip and stared at her mother.
The light engulfed the older woman at once, appearing so quickly that Dendhra was left half blinded. Deranih wove so quickly that her daughter had no time to gather any idea as to how the Gateway was woven.
A horizontal slash of light appeared in midair, opening into a wide Gateway with a dark, different landscape on the other side.
"Go," Deranih said vacantly. Dendhra reacted at once. She skipped through the weave, and had only one second to hear shouting outside the tent before the Gateway closed behind her and the Wasteland.
Dendhra found herself in the middle of a forest; her heart was pounding, threatening to burst out of its cage of ribs. Her mouth fell open as she stared at the great trees. She had been told of course, of what the Westlands were like. But she never could have imagined it would be this beautiful.
In the distance rose the great, looming structure of the Grey Tower. A vast pillar, jutting up towards the heavens like an obstinate fighter against its foe. Its dark shadow made the night seem even blacker and as the young girl began to walk towards the Tower a cold wind swept through the pines, sending her long hair fluttering behind her like fierce bloodied wings in the murky woods.