He listened as he pulled at the bread in the broth, tearing of small chunks to chew upon in thought. He did like Ulthwin well enough, he just had the knack of turning up to try to embarrass him at the worst times. Alrim didn't begrudge that, he just didn't want to hear another rendition of 'The Ram and the Wall' - or whichever title it had now. Tia's words were true enough though, he had to admit. Alrim found it far easier to form bonds with the fighting men than most channelers he knew. They were set part, somewhat.
"I would think she would be right," he conceded, "I like the man, even if he is insufferable at times. Grizzled bear" he shook his head.
"As for comraderie, perhaps something could be done about it. I don't think they really think about it. Maybe someone just needs to tell them. Never was one to believe in divisions. However small" he stated simply, filing away the thoughts for later conversation with a few people. He ran them through his mind and blinked at himself. Not too long ago he'd have exploited division. Strange how time changed things.
He heard the first few words of the knife and spoon story, along with the grumbling and asking for newer stories, and smirked as he continued to eat, looking up to regard Tia when he wasn't shovelling things into his mouth. He was hardly the most tutored of eaters but then he had never had to be. The inevitable question came in the end, as he knew it would do. It always did. Briefly his face had a sad, almost pained expression to it before it vanished beneath his usual countenance and smiles. His gaze flicked to the side, to the soldiers who if tradition was proof would start moving into gambling, drinking and singing soon enough, seeking answers that would like as not never arrive.
"In short, I didn't," he sipped from his ale, "whatever Ravak Gaidin says. He talked about choices with me a while back. Agreed with him once. Think he was talking a load of rubbish to keep me at the Tower these days" he leaned back, a piece of cheese in his hand before he looped it up to catch it in his mouth.
He eyed her, using the convenient break to decide how much to say, if anything. She was a nice Aes Sedai and had been quite open with him. Seemed only fair, as he swallowed, that he gave her the same.
"I came to the Tower under duress. Family wanted me gone. Too much trouble. Petty crime, shame, the usual reasons. Although, if I say so myself, I did a much better job of being disreputable than most," he sighed, "wasted life. It's what my father said. He was right, of course. Sent me to the Tower"
"Doesn't matter now. It was all an act. Or desperation maybe. His one last attempt to make me make something of myself that wasn't all about gambling and crime. I still gamble but these days I try to be the best that I can be. I came here, to the Citadel, for that. Protecting others, sure. But only one way to get better at fighting the Shadow and that's to do it. I've no illusions what my future will be - Blightborder, Greens and soldiers either side. My kind of redemption, you could say" he finished, beginning to eat once more.
It was difficult not to feel that opening up inside, that ever deep hole that never seemed to get filled. The knowledge that he'd never see them again. Estates and money meant little to him. He'd have given it all up if it brought just one of them back. Instead he did what he always did, hide it away as best he could, hope it wasn't noticed and generally march onward and do his job.
"I would imagine that you always knew you'd be doing what you're doing now, no? With a lineage like yours I can see it being practically in your bones. Ever wonder what life'd be like if you'd just done something simple?"