|Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah
|The Grey Tower
|Spirit, Air, Water, Fire, Earth
Nykkolaia stands about 5'4" and is of average weight. She has 'average' features with blue eyes and long blonde hair, but for the scars that climb over the left side of her face. They span from her hip to her hairline, but most of them are covered by her clothing. She doesn't care who sees, for she feels that her beauty - if she ever had it - is damaged beyond repair, so why bother to hide it?
Personality wise, she is a quiet and introspective young woman. At times, she is silently resistant and stubborn, while at other times she is strangely subservient. Some of her opinions are firm, as well as her sense of justice in terms of other people, but she is still finding her way when it comes to the same concept about herself. There is a woman deep inside her, strong and smart and kind, trying to get out, but she has been walled off from Nykk's conscious mind by the recent years of her past. The Nykk the world now sees is often flat or uncertain, and she has a bad habit of drifting off in the middle of conversations for a few moments before coming back around.
The girl who walks into the room is average in height, standing perhaps sixteen hands tall if you measured that way. Her figure is feminine and enough to distract a man's eye for a time. Her face is of a similar appearance to the rest of her in being average. Her eyes are like half circles of a rich blue shade, nose is small and mouth is full. Stretching to her waist is straight blonde hair that she keeps tucked behind her ears. She might have been pretty, except...
Crawling up the left side of her face like a fiery vine of ivy are thin scars, tendrils of destroyed flesh forever emblazoned in red, perpetually raw, from her jaw to her hair line, around her eye and over her cheek bone, and you can see that it continues down her neck and disappears into her blouse, leaving you wondering just how much of her body that vine covers... though you aren't sure you'd want to find out. When you glance at her left hand, you see the vines spidering out over the back of her hand. Her right hand is scarred as well, but more like pale red blurred scales.
She sits down in the chair across from you. You can't take your eyes from the scars for several moments, but when you do and you meet her gaze, you can tell that she knows. She doesn't seem to care, though there is a lingering haunted look there. It's not for you, or about you. In fact, you can see that it doesn't have anything to do with your presence at all. It's an old look and has been there for a while.
"My name is Nykkolaia Zeran," she says. Her expression is flat, but for the look in her eyes, and her voice matches it. "I was born in Caemlyn to a cloth and ribbon merchant named Merik who owned a modest shop. My mother's name is Ulisa and she was a seamstress. The shop not only sold the pieces, but my mother would make things from them upon request and this was how my family survived. I was very close to my father in particular." She pauses. "I suppose the term would be that he doted on me."
A sad shadow passes over her face, but is gone again in a breath. "I remember having a good childhood. I was a happy child and I had friends that I could play with. We weren't rich, but we weren't poor either. I didn't want for any necessity - I always had food and a roof over my head, clothing and a warm blanket for my bed." Her mouth curv es upward in a faint smile. The scarring on her cheek wrinkles a little with the motion and perhaps is what inhibits the smile being anything more.
"I was fourteen when it happened, at that age when girlhood begins to turn into womanhood. I hear for some it's like a sudden explosion, for me it was a slow, fading process. It just happened over time.
"Walking down a street like any other in Caemlyn, I was taken. It was a busy street with a large crowd and I suddenly felt an arm around my shoulder. Before I could say anything or even turn my head, a hand was over my mouth and I was being roughly guided down a side street that was absent of anyone. The hand clamped down harder and I couldn't breathe. I passed out."
Her upper body moves with the concerted effort of a deep breath. Nykkolaia lifts her chin slightly as she exhales. "When I awoke, I was in a place I had never been before. It was damp and it was cold. The walls were all stone and there were no windows. I was in a cellar of some sort. It was small, seemingly just big enough for the table I was tied to and a person to walk around it. It was lit by only one lantern that hung over the table.
"I felt strange, like I had eaten or drunk something that made me feel funny." She glances away from your gaze. "There was the smell of flour and yeast from above. There was bread being baked above me and there always would be. I was in the basement of a baker's shop." She pauses. "I can't smell the scent of baking bread without going back." Nykk lifts her eyes to meet yours with a distant expression. "Do you know how that goes? It's strange that a scent should tie your memory to something that way, but it does." Her expression goes from curious to sad. "It does."
Stopping for a moment, she looks down at her hands folded in her lap. "He came to me that night and told me I was to call him Master." She frowns, pale brows drawing together. "I don't like that word now, and now I'm surrounded by it." A delicate shudder passes through her and the frown that takes over her face pulls the scars inward. Your eye is led there by strange fascination. "I do not know his name. I had never been to the baker's shop. I couldn't even be sure I was still in Caemlyn, though I found out later that I had been.
"He didn't do anything to me, in the ways of men and women. He never touched me in that way during the eleven months I was with him. Sometimes, I wished he had and that it had been only that. I think the rest was worse."
While her head had been moving, several clumps of hair have slid from behind her ear and she now pushes them back. "Since coming here, to this Tower, I have heard from some of the other girls of a thing called the Black Ajah." Her heads tilts with a curious frown. "I wonder if I should tell them that there are darknesses in the world that have nothing to do with that. I would, I would warn them, but I doubt they'd believe me." She shook her head with a sigh. "And what good if they did? It would only give them bad dreams.
"Master was not a member of this alleged Black Ajah, nor was he a devotee of the Dark One. He was... I cannot explain him. He was curious, and I was a means to an end. He kept me alive and would sometimes reward my good behavior with an easing of the pain." She pauses, her gaze turning inward thoughtfully. "He had a collection of bottles. Some had liquids and others had dried herbs. When he was there and brought those bottles with him, the room would fill with strange smells.
"He gave them to me, at different times and in different measures and in different ways, to see what my body would do with it." Her hand rises and gingerly touches the scars on her face. "One of them did this. I don't know which one and I didn't know until I saw the scars in the eyes of my mother that they had happened at all. I knew the pain when they happened, but was unaware of its permanence."
Lowering her hand, she carefully cleans her nails with the nails of the other hand. "I was scared at first and could only think of my parents. I wanted to get home, but after a long while passed, I lost hope for that." A weak smile curves her mouth. "Master was good to me, sometimes. He would say kind things to me, like how he loved me for being so good and for allowing him to learn the things he wished to learn. After a while, I wanted to please him. I learned to tolerate the pain and learned how to describe it for him. He liked that.
"After... it was over, I learned that it had been roughly eleven months since I had vanished. A woman in the bakery had heard my voice. Apparently, I cried out in my sleep and she had spoken to the guard and they had come and found me. Master was killed by one of their swords while trying to keep them from taking me from him." Her hands freeze in their movements, seemingly having forgotten what they were doing. "I never knew his name," she whispers. She visibly swallows, looking sad for an instant. "I never knew his name..."
Pausing for a moment, she meets your eyes again with a somber expression. "Do you know what it's like to spend almost a year in near total darkness? Do you know what its like to spend most of your time tied to a table, and when you're allowed to walk to be tied by the ankle to that table and only go through one small room? Do you know what it's like to lose all pride and then all hope and cling to some one thing, whatever is there, as your only chance for anything?
"When I was brought out of that cellar, the sunlight of a cloudy day burned my eyes and I couldn't open them for a goodly while. I was forced to hear the gasps of my mother and those others who saw the scars on my face from the poison that crept through my blood, and those on this hand from the substance placed on my skin." She held up her right hand, showing what appeared to be burn marks but not created from fire. "My muscles ached with more exertion than they had known for a year, except for pain contortions... and now Master was the most maligned creature in my world.
"I was told that he'd been evil and about how horrible he was. And some part of me knew all that, because I remembered the girl who was taken into that cellar." She pauses, suddenly wary and wondering if you will understand or will look down on her, too. "But he was all I had for all those months." A faint sheen covers her eyes and this is, perhaps, the most emotion you've seen her show since coming in. "He was all I knew, and then suddenly I was told I had to hate him."
With a swift exhalation, she smoothes down the white fabric of her skirt over the tops of her thighs. "After I spent days floating in and out of consciousness, recovering and becoming healthy again, I was told that my father died while I was gone. His heart gave out, because they could not find me... and my heart almost gave out to realize that I had only been three streets away." She pauses and then whispers, "I miss him. I miss them both." Her eyes flicker around the room. "I know what you must think of me."
A long silence takes place then while she looks around the room. Just as it becomes very uncomfortable, she begins again, though she's looking at something off to her right and you have a very clear view of the scars. She seems immune to this knowledge, or apathetic. "We moved to a village in the country side when I was sixteen. I think my mother thought it would help me come out of this misty land my mind had been trapped in. It did, a little, I suppose... although perhaps not enough for her. I was not who I was any longer.
"Near my seventeenth naming day, a woman came to the village. She was beautiful in a way I'll never know, and she was followed by a man who was like a wolf contained in a human's skin, and only just barely at that. Even to me, they were fascinating. I don't know why they were in town, but my mother invited them to our home. I heard her talking to them in the kitchen while I was in the loft. She thought I couldn't hear.
"She was imploring the woman to do something. Soon I realized that she was trying to convince the woman and the man to take me somewhere. My mother said something about not being able to handle me anymore, and that maybe they could help. I wasn't sure what she meant, because I thought I behaved well... Looking back, I suppose I wasn't easy to live with." She sighs. "The woman agreed to test me. I didn't know what this meant. I was called into the kitchen and the woman did something while standing behind me. It neared close to memories I didn't want to visit, things that came in my dreams. If she had touched me, I would not have been able to stop them, but she didn't.
"Then she said something that made my mother very relieved. The woman said that I could be taught. It wasn't until after I saw my mother's reaction that she followed up with what this meant, which was that I was to be brought to this place... this Grey Tower. It should have scared me, but it didn't. My mother trying to get rid of me should have hurt me, but it didn't. I obeyed and was traveling with them the next day, which is when I learned that their names were Selenirra Sedai and Benar Gaidin.
"She was one of the Aes Sedai. I had heard about them. Who hasn't? Once I knew that, I understood. I suppose the prospect of my life to come should have scared me, but it didn't."
Nykkolaia brings herself to sit up a little straighter and smooths her hands over the Novice whites that she wears. "That's how I came to be here and talking to you. It is strange to be here and I don't feel like I belong with the other girls here, but I suppose I'll have to get used to that. I don't think I'm going to go anywhere for a while. I can't share with them what I've shared with you." Pausing, she frowns. There are hints of fear, wariness and pleading there. "You won't tell anyone what I've said, will you?"
- Accepted (26 February 2010)
- Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah (21 April 2010)