|Created by||Jansin Tearsin (player)|
|Affiliation||The Grey Tower|
Janis, who prefers to be called Jan, cuts a very imposing figure indeed if you don't know him. He is six-feet-four-inches tall, his athletic figure is corded with muscle testifying to a life of rigorous training, and his blonde hair and ice-blue eyes mark him as Aiel from a mile away.
His stride is the confident gait of a warrior born, and his hands bear the callouses of a man completely familiar with weapons and battle. Once you get to know Jan, however, you get an entirely different perspective.
The big Aielman is a jovial, friendly sort of fellow who is always ready with a smile or a laugh. He is rarely seen without a grin on his face, and he always seems to play the optimist, regardless of the situation he is in. All of which are amazing considering the events that led to his crossing the Dragonmount.
Jan is always ready to lend a helping hand, indeed, he often quips that he "lives to serve". It is very difficult to anger the big Aielman; Jan is able to shrug off most insults, even outright verbal attacks, with a laugh and a wave. The Aielman has a strong sense of justice, and of honor, and simply cannot abide a bully. He has often gone out of his way in the past to help out the weak and oppressed, even going so far as to become a vigilante of sorts before coming to the Tower.
Jan is also a talented musician, and can often be seen walking the Tower Gardens strumming on his harp and singing in a rich baritone. Jan dresses simply, preferring black or brown woodsmans garb to some of the more flamboyant fashions seen in the tower; although he always wears a ring of White-gold on his left hand.
His one distinguishing mark is a long, thin, white scar running from wrist to elbow on his left arm. When asked about the scar, Jan just says it was the result of a "minor altercation in my younger days." And, Although the look in his eyes when he speaks of it says there is more to the story than he reveals, the wise questioner does not press the issue.
My name is Janis Tearsin, and I was born into this world as an Aielman. My father, Keeirin, was a prominent Stone Dog in the Chun'hio Sept of the Sharad Aiel; my mother, Jenna, was a former Maiden who had given up the spear when my oldest brother had been born. I had two brothers; both older than I and both Red Shields of no small prowess in battle. I also had a single sister, Ellillae, who was five years my junior.
When I reached the appropriate age, my family began to teach me the ways of the Aiel. I learned how to wield a spear, how to hunt for my family, and how to follow the way of Jie'toh. Before my eleventh year on this world, my one desire in life was to live as a warrior should, and to follow Jie'toh to perfection.
I still find it amazing how a single night can change your entire outlook on life. The memories of that night still stand out like a beacon in my mind, despite my many efforts to be rid of them. My Sept was traveling through the three-fold land to a newly discovered oasis near Rhuidean. We had pitched our camp beneath the shadow of a sandy hill; the sun had just disappeared behind the horizon, and with the perimeter guard set. We were all of us expecting nothing but a peaceful night.
More fools we.
To this day, I still do not understand how it was possible for Aiel warriors to be taken so off guard. One second, all was peaceful and quiet; then the air was filled with the screams of dying men, and the war cries of their attackers. Our camp exploded into activity, and I can recall my father's voice calling orders to his warriors. I remember Charin, my eldest brother, whispering words of comfort to my sister and myself as he caught up his spear and rushed out of our tent. I remember the cries of the wounded and dying as clearly as if I was still witnessing them. My father and brothers were slain as they rushed to meet our attackers. My mother tore a hole in the back of the tent and pushed my sister through, calling for me to follow them. I moved to follow, but something heavy crashed into our tent, collapsing it on top of me. I remember crying out in pain and confusion. My mother died on the end of a spear as she tried to protect her children with her body. I remember my sister's screams piercing the air like a knife. I struggled to free myself from the remains of the tent, but only succeeded in further entangling myself in its coils. Then I struck my head against something hard and unyielding, and my vision blurred and went dark.
When I woke up, and extricated myself from the tent, I found myself alone in a scene of devastation. The image before me was burned onto my mind for all time. Dead bodies littered the ground around me, familiar faces I had known since birth stared at me with empty eyes. No child should have to bear witness to such a scene, no child should have to see his friends and family lying dead in a pool of their own tepid blood. I found my father and my brothers among the warriors of my Sept, stabbed in a dozen places. My mother was behind my destroyed tent, her face a mask of anguish that had not eased in death. Of my sister, there was no sign. The rest of the day was a blur. I don't remember how long I ran, nor how far, nor do I know which direction I went. I only know I wanted get away, away from the staring eyes of my dead family, away from the stench of battle and death.
And so I ran into the desert, with no water or food, with nothing but the clothes on my back. I don't know how I expected to survive; I don't know if, after the horrors I had born witness to, I truly wished to survive. I wandered the desert for six days and nights; walking often, running seldom, crawling when I could do neither. On the seventh day; my strength gave out, and I collapsed to the sand. By rights, I should have died out there in the wastes. I was at the end of my strength, my health was non-existent, and all my eyes could see were the faces of my dead kin calling for me to join them. I wanted to die.
But Melchior found me before I could find death. He was a grizzled old man; lean and wiry, but with muscles corded around his thin frame. His crown was bald; as if all the hair had migrated from his head down to his chin, and the huge set of snowy whiskers that hung there. His eyes were dark; not black, but almost so. And there was a spark in those eyes I have yet to see equaled in another man. I saw none of this. Nor did I feel his strong hands lift me effortlessly from where I had fallen. Nor did I know that he was carrying me back to his home; a small cottage in a secluded gorge, well away from the eyes of the violently inhospitable Aiel.
Melchior took care of me for the better part of a month, nursing me back to health and treating the wounds I had accumulated in my flight. During that time, I drifted in and out of consciousness like the ebbing and flowing of the tides. I was never quite sure of where I was, I was not even sure whether I was still alive. When finally I was able to regain my senses, Melchior told me all that had transpired since he found me. When he had finished, I told of the events that led me to the old man. I could not explain it at the time, but something drew me to Melchior, even as he was drawn to me.
As my strength continued to return, our friendship solidified. By the time I was back on my feet, Melchior had become like a second father to me. Melchior, before becoming a hermit in the wastes, had been a Gaidin; a perfect warrior from beyond the Dragonmount. He never spoke much of his life beforehand; from what he did say, though, I gathered that he had lost someone very close to him. That loss had almost broken him, and he had fled to the wastes to escape his past life. I think I was an outlet for Melchior, something that he could focus on that would take his mind from the memories that had been his only companion for so long.
As soon as I was fully recovered, Melchior presented me with a choice. He told me he could easily guide me to an Aiel encampment where I might be accepted in again. Or, he continued, I could remain with him. Remain with Melchior and train as a warrior in the fashion of the Gaidin. I had grown to love the old man, and though I still clung to Jie'tohr I had no desire to live as an orphan with a Sept I did not know. I stayed with Melchior for eight years.
Despite his age, Melchior was still a superb warrior. His cottage walls were lined with weapons of all shapes and sizes, and he could wield each one with expertise. He was deadly even with his bare hands, so skilled in combat was he. For eight years, he trained me in the arts of warfare. I learned how to handle a bow and arrows, I trained also with spear and axe. Melchior and I sparred with nothing more than our fists and feet, and I learned the way of the sword. At first, my very soul rebelled at the thought of picking up the forbidden blade. Melchior insisted that I learn the basics of each weapon, however, and did not yield. In the end, we compromised.
The former Warder fashioned two stout poles the approximate length and weight of a broadsword, and I trained with those. My honor was safe, for I had not touched an actual sword, merely a hunk of wood made to serve as one. I never became as skilled with my weapons as Melchior, though. After all; he had lived his whole life with his weapons, and I was just a child. But, as the weeks passed into months, and the months grew into years, so did my skill grow. Slowly but surely, my skill grew. By the time I was nineteen, I was no longer a frightened little boy. I was six-foot-four of muscle, bone, and sinew. My blue eyes sparked like frozen flame and my face shone with the brightness of warrior pride. Melchior had taught me well.
I could wield each weapon in his arsenal with at least a degree of skill, and I even managed to best my mentor every now and again during our many sparring matches. And I still had my honor, for never had my hand felt the weight of a sword, only the grip of the wooden training sword.
But Melchior did not just teach me the art of weaponry. My friend and mentor, it seems, was something of a musician. When I tired of my weapons and battles, Melchior taught me to play the harp and the flute. Never had I heard such beautiful music as when the old man played his battered old pot. The Aiel battlesong could not even come close to it's beauty, nor could the songs they sang for the dead. For eight years, I was happy and content (despite the fact that I went to exhausted to bed each day).
But, as the saying goes, "nothing lasts forever." As I was far younger, and my eyes far sharper, than Melchior, it fell to me to provide the board for our table. This I accomplished through frequent hunting trips into the waste, often staying gone for days at a time in search of game. On one such occasion I was fortunate enough to come across the trail of one of a wild pig, a large specimen of a particular species found in parts of the waste. I tracked the beast for three hours, knowing that it would feed my mentor and I handsomely if I could bring it down At the close of the third hour, I caught up to the beast. I nocked an arrow to the string of my long bow and aimed carefully. The bowstring hummed and the arrow buried itself up to it's fletching just behind the pig's ear, a mortal wound. The pig dropped to the sandy earth with nary a sound. I gave a whoop of triumph and pride at making such a difficult shot. I pulled out my knife, striding forward to butcher the animal.
My hunt had led me farther away from the cottage than I had originally intended, and by the time I had butchered and cleaned my kill, it was nearing dusk. I gathered up as much meat as I could carry and started back for the cottage at an easy lope, savoring the stretch of my muscles and allowing the strain of the past few hours tracking to bleed out of me.
As the night darkened, I made out a dull reddish glow from the direction of the cottage. My first thought was that Melchior had set out a signal fire to guide me home. My heart turned to ice in my breast as I realized that there was only one thing in that gorge that could fuel such a blaze. I sprinted forward, the meat forgotten in my fear. I ran for an hour, continuing on long after it became too dark to see more than a step in front me. When I reached the gorge, I could not keep the horror from my face. The cottage was gone; in it's place was a blackened hulk that mocked it's former state. Two of the walls were still smoldering, providing enough light for me to view the whole scene.
Melchior was lying face down in front of the cottage; a score of wounds marking his old body. His blade was still clutched in his hand; it's shining surface now dull and stained red with the blood of his attackers. My eyes moved about the grisly scene, automatically noting every detail. I didn't want to believe it, but the evidence was unquestionable. The wounds on my old friend's body were ones I was very familiar with. I had reason to be, for they were the same kind that had marked the bodies of my family. A party of Aiel numbering more than thirty had attacked Melchior. Even so outnumbered, the old warrior had not gone down easily. My eyes marked more than a dozen spots where a body had fallen. But the numbers had taken their toll, and even Melchior could not have lasted forever against so many.
The scene reeled before me, and I fell to my knees as tears flowed freely from my eyes. My stomach clenched and I vomited into the bloodstained earth. When I was finished, an ironic thought stood out in my mind. Twice now I had lost my family, twice I had been orphaned by the people I had called my own. I stumbled into the wreckage of the cottage, not quite sure why I did so. The weapons were gone, even the poles my mentor and I had used for swords had been taken from the building before it had been put to the torch. As I turned to go, my eyes caught the glint of metal beneath a fallen beam. I shoved the burnt wreckage aside, and my breath caught in my throat.
It was a sword.
Somehow, the sword had escaped the destruction of the cottage, even it's leather scabbard only bore a few smudges. The crosspiece was made from gilded silver, and the hilt was bound with black leather. The pommelstone was also silver, but shaped into a circle and etched with a curious design; two teardrops running in to each other. The blade was a two-edged piece of blue steel half-again as long as my arm, and the handle was shaped in such a way as to be wielded either single or dual-handed.
I knelt down and stared at the weapon, a battle raging within me. On one side was honor, and everything I had been taught by the Aiel. On the other side was the knowledge that the Aiel had destroyed my life twice now, and both times without a rhyme or reason. My hand reached out for the hilt. A voice in my mind was screaming at me not to touch the thing; that my honor would be shattered, that I would be an outcast in my own land.
My hand closed around the hilt, and the voice fell silent. I had lost my honor, I had broken the greatest taboo in the Aiel culture. I could never go back, now. And it felt good. After what I had seen, after what they had done to me, I had no desire to go back. I buried my friend behind his cottage, marking the grave with his sword as a headstone, then I gathered up what little possessions had been left by the Aiel and walked out of the gorge.
I left with my bow and arrows, my spear, and the sword which was now belted around my waist. I walked for two days, eating when I got hungry, drinking when I was thirsty, and sleeping only when I had to. By the end of the second day, I had reached the Dragonmount. I stopped and stared up at the mountains; my thoughts no longer dwelling on the past, but on the future that awaited me beyond those peaks.
My last act in the Three-fold land was when I broke my spear over my knee and threw the pieces to the wind. The last shred of what was Aiel in me went out with that symbolic gesture. I had forsaken everything my people had held dear, and my soul was now a blank slate. I knew not what awaited me on the other side of the Dragonmount, but I resolved I was about to find out.
Melchior, in one of the few times he had spoken of his past, had described a place of good and righteousness in the wetlands called the Grey Tower. I figured that it was as good a place as any to aim for. I didn't arrive until six years later, but the reason for that is another story altogether.
- Gaidin Captain