Fanfic:A New Beginning (Serrah Trimak)
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"Brenna! Come here!" called a rough male voice, "I need you in here now."
"Coming!" called the girl Brenna. She stopped kneading the bread she was working on and wiped a piece of her chestnut hair out of her face, leaving a smudge of flour on her brow. She walked through the kitchen door wiping her hands on her apron.
"Yes Cal, what is it now?"
"You know not to call me that Serrah. I don't care if your mother is the Wisdom here or not."
"Yes, Master Hollid. Forgive me," said the girl humbly.
Cal Hollid was a portly man of middle age. His short stature only drew attention to his weight but his age brought the attention to his worn face and thatch of salt and pepper hair. The apron he wore was stained from working around the alcohol behind the bar as was the white linen shirt he wore underneath it and the dark wool trousers. He looked extremely disturbed for some reason.
His eyes roamed the girl in the front of him only a minute. He was used to her medium height and matching hair and eyes. He had even helped with her delivery when she was born. Just proving he had known the girl for fifteen summers.
"Now Serrah I need you to do something special for me. Today is a great day for celebration."
"And what and why would that be Master Hollid?"
"Well we have a very special visitor today Serrah. Today we have an Aes Sedai staying with us."
Her eyes filled with fear. Her mother had warned her about this. She could still hear her mothers tone from that day,"Now remember Serrah. Stay away from any Aes Sedai that passes through here. You will be tested and taken away to that infernal Tower."
"Don't worry Momma. We haven't seen any Aes Sedai here in town for quite some time. I'll be perfectly safe at the Inn."
"Don't think for a moment you're safe there, Serrah. No one is safe from an Aes Sedai."
Serrah shook her head clearing it of the thought, "Surely, Master Hollid you're not asking me to take care of her personally?"
Cal nodded his weathered head causing the lamplight to shine off his sweat covered pate, "Of course I am Serrah. You will be personally responsible for everything she needs."
"But you know what my mother will say to that!"
"Of course I know girl! But you're the best server I have. Your mother's opinions on Aes Sedai will just have to keep. I need you for this. Now quickly go fetch her luggage and take it up to her room."
Serrah sighed resentfully, "Yes, Master Hollid."
Cal smiled as he watched her walk out the door, "Good girl." he said to no one in particular.
Outside Serrah walked to the stables, cursing the entire way, "Bloody Cal and his bloody assignments. I hope he burns in the Pit of Doom for the rest of his days because of this."
She looked at the stables as she rounded the corner of the two-story Inn. She saw a man in a disturbing cloak standing there tending to two horses. Serrah avoided looking at the cloak as it seemed to continually shift colors making her want to retch. She walked purposefully toward the stables though with an air of grace and approached the man.
"Excuse me. Are you with the Aes Sedai that has recently arrived here?" she asked the man looking up slightly.
The man turned causing the cloak to shift again and Serrah averted her eyes, "Yes are you here to pick up the bags?"
Serrah nodded her head. The man had handsome features which contrasted his dark hair and green eyes. He, of course, was a few hands taller than she, so she expected he was from the borderlands, "Good," he said and handed her two saddlebags, "She has been waiting for these."
Serrah nodded again still unable to speak and quickly rushed through the back door of the Inn with the bags. As she passed back into the common room she wondered why anyone would want to stay here. The Gleeman's Tale was not the best of places in the area. Its common room was small with several oak tables placed around a dark hearth for the middle of spring. The vaulted ceiling would surely echo any and all noise in the room when it was full. The oak bar that Cal stood behind was against the northern wall and sat up to almost the nape of his neck. The rickety staircase leading to the sleeping quarters were right next to the end. Cal looked up from the glass he was cleaning and wiped his hands on the apron.
"She's in the best room we have, over the kitchen so she'll stay warm without needing a fire."
Serrah nodded her head as she walked up the stairs with the saddlebags. She walked down a short hallway with only three heavy walnut doors.
'Best room my foot. There are only three rooms here and each are equal to the others. Except that this one is slightly larger than the other two.'
She hefted the saddlebags onto her shoulder one last time and knocked on the door. A kindly voice replied, "Come."
Opening the door Serrah saw a woman of small stature, Must be Cairhien, with long golden and grey hair done up for travel, and a chamomile-shaded dress with divided riding skirts. She was seated at the round oak table on a stool that had been placed in the room for her particular use.
"Ah, good my bags. Drop them over there, child. Then brew a pot of tea." said the Aes Sedai.
"Of course, Aes Sedai," replied Serrah as she walked over to the corner nearest the bed and dropped her load into it.
"Good. Now go and be quick about it." the Aes Sedai said briefly.
Serrah walked out of the room and back into the kitchen preparing the tea. After it was finished she brought it back up. Placing it on the table she got a curt smile from the Aes Sedai, "If you need anything else Aes Sedai I shall be pleased to fetch it for you. All you need do is ask."
"That will be all for now, child. I will require you again in the morning. If the keeper has no more work for you today I would suggest going home. It will be a long day tomorrow, and I want you here promptly at sunrise."
Serrah curtsied, "Of course, Aes Sedai. Thank you, Aes Sedai."
"You may call me Merine Sedai. I have a feeling I will become familiar to you soon."
Serrah curtsied again, "As you wish, Merine Sedai. By your leave," Serrah turned as Merine waved a hand at her. Shortly after her departure from the room, the man with the cloak moved revealing his location.
"Do you have something up your sleeve, Merine?" he said.
"I thought you knew me better than that, Markus. Although I believe this will be an interesting stay."
Cal looked up from his cleaning to see Serrah walking down the stairs. She was in the process of untying her apron, "So what else is she having you do?"
"Nothing until tomorrow. And if you don't have anything for me to do I'm going home."
"Go ahead. I've got that new girl coming in shortly to take care of the supper crowd."
"Yeah some crowd. I'll see you in the morning."
Serrah walked out of the Inn and to home. She crossed the front yard to the door of their modest two-story farmhouse, and opened the door. The sweet smell of a meat pie wafted through the hallway from the kitchen directly opposite the front door.
"Serrah is that you?" said a female voice from the kitchen.
"Yes Momma I'm home."
"Good. Set the table. And how was your day at the Inn?"
"Well I have been told by Cal to assist an Aes Sedai that has come to stay," Serrah said as she walked into the small dining room. The maple table that stood in the center of the room was immaculate and shining. Four chairs made of the same wood sat around it. Another doorway leading into the kitchen was on the back wall. The room obviously gained it's light from the two open windows in the room which faced out to the fields.
Serrah's mother poked her head out of the kitchen door and into the dining room, her hair was the same color as Serrah's except with a few strands of grey. Her kind face held the same kind of Andoran features as her daughters, and the same eyes. One would almost think that her mother was only an older sister. She stepped out into the dining room revealing a light blue apron over a blue wool dress.
"Aes Sedai? From which Tower? What's her name?" her mother's voice sounded agitated.
"I don't know what Tower," Serrah said getting agitated just by her mother's tone, "But she said her name was Merine, or something like that."
"Light I told that blasted woolhead of a man to not let an Aes Sedai stay there. He knows my reasons."
"As do I Merille." said a stern female voice from behind them both.
Both turned to see Merine standing in the dining room doorway with Markus right behind her. She was still dressed in her riding clothes and looked as if her stare could freeze water on a hot day.
"Merine. I should have known you would follow her home." Said Merille.
"Ah yes the privilege of working with you was you could always predict one's moves," said Merine.
"Serrah go wait outside and make sure your father doesn't come in from the fields."
"I said go!" shouted Merille.
Serrah slumped her shoulders and walked out of the house rejected. She knew better than to argue with her mother. But for some reason her mother knew Merine Sedai. She did not know how though and it bothered her. She snuck around the house to the window in the dining room to listen to the conversation.
"How dare you intrude here. I thought I made it very clear to everyone I was not to be disturbed."
"Light, as if any of us still knew that you were out here lurking about. For all we knew you were long dead."
"If I was dead you would most certainly know about it, Merine. After all you are the best."
"Flattery will get you nowhere, Merille. You know why I'm here and what it will take to get me to leave."
"No you can't. Not to there."
Serrah noticed her mother remained incredibly calm. But that had always been a feature Serrah had loved about her mother: her calm under pressure. She hoped one day to inherit that quality.
"Merille just listen to her, please." Markus was trying to keep the peace.
"Please, do you think I would take her there?" said Merine almost indignantly, "They are so narrow-minded. Do you even know what has happened since you left?"
"No I don't and I don't really think I want to for that matter."
"You never have wanted to think. And it is a shame, but you're going to hear about it anyway. They split, Merille. There is a faction now from Salidar and another in the Mountains of Mist near a town known as Elman's Creek. They work alongside the men there, now that the Taint is cleansed. There are no ignorant Reds there."
"Salidar? Elman's Creek? What are you talking about?"
"There's a new Tower. A Grey Tower. The Fang and Flame are reunited for the first time since the Age of Legends. She will learn better there than anywhere else. They are open-minded and achieve wonders that were never imagined in the old Tower. She will learn alongside the men to better understand them and not be like those of us from before all this nonsense began."
"How am I to know that? I left because I didn't trust anyone anymore after what happened. Now you waltz through my door and expect me to pick up that faith?"
Merine sighed, "Look Merille, we worked together for a very long time. We almost grew up together; you could say..."
"Yeah but you were older than me."
"No matter. You know you can trust me. I know it is a difficult decision to make but please do this. Not for me. Not for you. But for her. She must know what she's capable of. You know as well as I how strong she would be, how strong her children, your grandchildren will be if she takes a man there for her husband. Think of the larger Pattern. Consider how the Wheel weaves . . ."
There was quiet in the house for almost an eternity and Serrah sat down on the grass digesting all of what she just heard, Grey Tower? What are they talking about? And how do they know each other...
"Serrah! Come in here." cried her mother's voice.
Serrah returned to the dining room keeping her eyes locked on the floor.
"Now, Serrah, you know I love you. But unfortunately we must part for now. I'm sending you to the Grey Tower for training."
"In what mother?"
"You never told her?" asked Merine.
Merille shot the Aes Sedai an icy stare, "The use of the One Power dear. The gift which I bestowed you at birth."
Serrah looked shocked. This she had not expected. But now the warning made sense.
Merine Sedai got up from the chair she had taken during the argument and looked at Serrah, "Well, child. I shall travel part of the way with you and then point you in the right direction for the rest of the way."
Merille looked bewildered as Merine started for the door, "Remember your instructions, child. Be ready to ride at dawn. We leave for the Grey Tower at first light."