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Tea on the Brain (Tala)

Posted: February 6th, 2020, 9:51 pm
by Mim
It was less than a tick before her scheduled mediation session with Cairhienin High Lord Hyert and Andoran High Lady Gwendolen, and nothing was ready.

That shouldn't have phased an Aes Sedai with as many years of experience as Iolanthe Eddin, but here she was, seconds from plunging her hands into her towering curls of burnished bronze hair, widely set blue eyes half-filled with tears - or well, the illusion of them, because Aes Sedai, Iolanthe knew, did not cry. Not in public. Not after the first seventy years or so. It scared the children, and well, after your hundredth birthday, weren't they all children? Still, the flaming High Lord and the rather irritating High Lady were some of the final cogs to Iolanthe's grand plan to unify the breach between Cairhienin and Andor, and getting them here, together, at the same time, had taken compromises and concessions that she wasn't happy with or proud of. Light above, but even getting the use of the good parlour in the Grey Ajah quarters had taken more strategy than she liked, and she was well-ranked. She might ascend to Sitter status - if she ever quit puttering about half in and half out of the Tower, that was. Also, they were probably still angry about that time she'd gotten war declared on the Grey Tower, and nobody was letting her forget that, even if it had been sixty years ago.

"In a crisis," Iolanthe said aloud, startling herself, "go back to basics." What did you actually need to host a successful mediation session? You needed a comfortable, safe space. It was here, where the Wards were set up to eliminate spying eyes and ears, on the Tower's sovereign ground, where neither High Personage had any power over the other. What she really lacked, Iolanthe decided, was tea. Where was Ola? Her personal maid was usually in attendance, bearing quill or ink or wax and seal, but she was nowhere at all to be found today. Iolanthe refrained from biting her lips in irritation, mostly because showing irritation was a bad sign indeed, particularly when everyone was watching, and rang the bell in the sitting room corner. It went to the Kitchens and it would summon a child - likely a novice, worse than nothing at all, but perhaps the child could be entrusted with the Grey Ajah's Sea Folk porcelain? You took any port in a storm, she supposed.

To her surprise (not that she showed that) she got an Accepted, and the child brought tea.

"Talaitha, yes?" Iolanthe asked, studying the girl as she poured tea from a sturdy, striped teapot into the Ajah's special porcelain. "You've an interest in the affairs of nations, I hear." She didn't usually interfere with the education of the younger set, but for a good negotiator, she might make a little time. "You might like to stay for this," she said, in an off-hand fashion. "Perhaps you could learn something of the art of the deal."

She'd been smart enough to know that tea made the world go 'round: perhaps she wasn't a total loss.

Re: Tea on the Brain (Tala)

Posted: February 7th, 2020, 12:46 pm
by Lou
Talaitha stood with her back against the wall just outside of the Grey Ajah halls. She was there to serve in any capacity she could until it was time to head to her bed. She did not mind these duties, as when she was not called to serve food, or take notes, it left her with time to think about lessons and the things she had learned. And maybe a handsome Soldier she had met. Though that was silly, as they had only spoken a few times, but still he managed to slip into her mind from time to time, especially when she was not expecting it. But he had been one of the first people in the Tower to look past what she had been born to against her. He had found her interesting, and had seemed to enjoy her lunch quite well too. She had no chance to cook any more as an Accepted she only got Kitchen duty if she was in trouble, and Tala did try not to get into trouble.

"Accepted, you have been asked by Iolanthe Sedai to serve tea in the main parlour for her and two guests. Royal guests, so best behaviour."

Tala, brought out of her reverie by the sharp toned voice of Mercina Sedai, Talaitha automatically dipped into a curtsy, though the woman before her had only been raised for a month. Time did not matter when someone was raised, you curtsied the rank, not the person. "Yes, Aes Sedai." She said without missing a beat, before she made her way down to the kitchens to collect the tray. It was a silver tray, laid out with porcelain sea folk china, the pot full of hot Kandori sweet tea, and a tower of small nobbles. Talaitha took it, and made her way, carefully, up the stairs and into the Grey Ajah halls. She followed the grey silver floor tiles, and came into the main parlour. It was a grand room, but also comforting also.

It also held Iolanthe Sedai. Talaitha curtsied, and placed the silver tray down carefully. "Yes, Aes Sedai." She answered the woman as she asked her name. She began to pour the tea, and then paused to look up at the woman as she continued to talk. "I do, Aes Sedai. I visited most of them as a child growing up, and I was always fascinated by the different customs of each." She told the woman, as she set about laying the cups out, and the treats also.

When the woman then offered her to stay during the meeting, Tala's eyes almost bulged out of her head. "I would love that, Aes Sedai. I promise I will not talk or interrupt." She said eagerly, before she tried to calm her nerves and stood there, her hands clasped at her waist. "Thank you."

Re: Tea on the Brain (Tala)

Posted: February 12th, 2020, 12:22 am
by Mim
Of course the girl would neither interrupt nor interfere: Iolanthe wasn't going to allow her to! The girl was Tuatha'an, a mongrel at best, but she did wash up well, and the Tower considered her a vessel of potential. She wasn't likely to find good mooring in the Grey, where most of the ladies and indeed, the gentlemen, were ranked in the courts of nations: perhaps the Blue, they did hand-outs and the like. The Tinkers didn't have a country, and if they did, they'd probably rob it blind. While singing. Iolanthe considered this with a small frown, wondering if she had made a sensible choice. The Sitters had been after her to include the Tower youth in her machinations, but perhaps she'd chosen a challenging one to start with? Still. There was little harm one could do serving tea, and her banded skirts would make a powerful reminder to the lord and lady of the moment about the Tower's not so hidden strength. It would likely be fine.

Anyway, it was too late to change her mind.

The High Lady arrived first: women often accorded the Tower more respect than their counterparts. Iolanthe was certain that was because the One Power had never been much of a matter of fuss among women, except the Tairen. Fine, and that scabrous lot from the sea, the Seanchan. They were foul. The Aiel, though, revered their channelers, and the Sea Folk, and even the Andorans did. Cairhien was not far behind, and the royal house had sired many very fine female channelers (and a few male ones, too.) But that was a recently allowed topic for many men, and they still did not come for testing in the same number as women did. Neither did they consult the Amyrlin Seat, or even the M'Hael, although both were available to them. This was, according to Iolanthe, a prime piece of evidence proving that most people were idiots.

"Gwendolen," Iolanthe said, moving to greet the sun-haired woman, who was far too long of face to be considered a beauty but vied for the title nonetheless. "Welcome to the Grey Tower. Could the child take your cloak?"

Gwendolen dithered a moment, clinging to the travel-stained velvet. Then, she slipped it off. To her credit, the Accepted made it vanish. Hopefully, Iolanthe thought, not for good. The Tower did not have coffers so deep that it could afford to lavish velvet cloaks on noblewomen!

"Come and have some tea," Iolanthe invited. "We are still waiting on Lord Hyert."

The noblewoman accepted a seat on a small couch. As the tea was poured, Iolanthe noticed that she watched the Tuatha'an Accepted with curiosity.

"This is Talaitha," Iolanthe said. "Talaitha is exploring the life of a Grey sister today."

"Does she enjoy it?" the noblewoman asked.

Iolanthe paused. She couldn't tell, which meant that she jeopardized her oaths by guessing yes or no with the child so close and so capable of answering questions. "Perhaps she could tell us," Iolanthe said, accepting a cup of tea. "Sit, child, and tell the High Lady Gwendolen what you think of the Ajah."

Re: Tea on the Brain (Tala)

Posted: February 20th, 2020, 9:49 am
by Lou
Tala was ready to help in any way she could, and really she tried to ignore the way the Aes Sedai was watching her, like she was about to slip on the silver candle holders into her skirts. She knew the rumours about what people said about the Tutha'an, but they were not thieves, and they were not children stealers either. She had thought that opinions would be better here in the Tower, but no. There had been jests about her being a thief when she was a Novice, and though she did not hear them now as an Accepted, it did not mean that they were not said. And with the ways some Aes Sedai looked at her, well, it seemed those prejudices did not fall away when donned a shall.

As the High Lady arrived, Tala moved forward and stood ready to accept any bags that may come her way, but all she took was a cloak, after a curtsy to the Lady, that was a little dusty and stained from travel. Embracing Saidar, something that came so easy to her now, she used a little water and air to remove the dirt and dust, as she hunt it up. It now looked cleaner than it may have done when the garment was purchased. That done she followed the two women over to the table, where she stood ready to pour tea if it was requested. As she had expected, Iolanthe offered, and the lady Gwendolen accepted.

Tala bent as she poured tea into the cup, and held it out along with the tray with honey, lemon and cream for the lady to choose from. She had tried to cater to all possibilities. As she was introduced more than just Girl this time, Tala curtsied once again and smiled to the high lady, though she hardly noticed as she asked Iolanthe if Tala liked being in the Grey Halls. It seemed to be a typical noble thing to do, ask someone else how a servant felt. But Tala kept her face smooth, though her green eyes did widen slightly when Iolanthe directed the question to her, asking her to join them.

"Thank you, Aes Sedai, High Lady." Tala curtsied once again (that was one thing she found here, too many curtsies were never moaned about) and moved to sit on the spare sofa, the one that was waiting for the Lord Hyert. SHe smoothed down her skirts as she sat, and looked to Gwendolen as she had asked the question. "Yes, High Lady, I do." She paused, getting her thoughts in order. "I have seen most Nations in my life, and I have a love for all of them so far. I find that we need peace and harmony in the lands to prepare for the eventual up coming battles, it is the only way we can defeat the Father of Lies." She paused again and frowned. She was still torn between Grey and Yellow, but she would not say that now.

"I believe there is a solution to all troubles in the land, and all it takes is conversations and an open mind." She paused, "And having this chance to learn at the gracious Iolanthe Sedai's hand will leave me eternally grateful." She smiled to the high lady and the Aes Sedai again, and hoped she had not said anything out of turn.

Re: Tea on the Brain (Tala)

Posted: March 19th, 2020, 11:30 pm
by Mim
She needn't think flattery was required of her, but the girl prated on anyway. She had put a pretty barb in her comment, too: Iolanthe had noted that with a bit of surprise. She hadn't been expecting the girl to take a stab at answering the question in any manner but the most simplistic. Instead, the girl - Talaitha - had neatly turned the experimental dig at her status into a positive comment, and then capitalized on it. She might have a future as a mediator, if she could learn to sink the hook in the flesh more neatly. It wasn't an easy skill to learn, and there was no natural talent for it anywhere. Still, it was an appreciated bit of trickery, and she'd done it without losing her smile. How soon to the shawl? Iolanthe could ask, but not this child: no one ever knew their own time. Perhaps she would, later.

The High Lady seemed to think Talaitha great sport: she addressed her next question to the girl directly. "What do you think of marriage alliances? I know the Tuatha'an do not own land," Gwendolen continued, "and therefore, they don't have to choose which of their children to leave it to, or settle any on their daughters for dowries." Iolanthe resisted the urge to nod in agreement: it was true, and delicately stated. Some people didn't think the Tuatha'an actually had a formal marriage ceremony, but that was not the case. It just wasn't...the same as everyone else's. But then, one could make quite a study of wedding customs the Westlands over. It wasn't Iolanthe's field. "So, then, they must only marry for love," the High Lady finished, "which means that some of the customs of the Grey Ajah must be most repugnant to you. For I," Gwendolen admitted, showing more brain and quite more cheek than Iolanthe would have credited her for, "am to be engaged to Lord Hyert, although I do not care for him. But our lands adjourn."

There were worse reasons to marry than a good, solid alliance, in Iolanthe's thinking, but it was obvious that Gwendolen wanted to fuss about being kept from flipping her skirts up for pretty guardsmen and messengers from the Queen. Hyert, at least, was a stolid, stalwart man. A few fine sons and both Houses would prosper! And who'd remember to thank Iolanthe Eddin? Nobody! As usual.

"I believe the High Lord has come," Iolanthe said, rising from her seat to admit the newcomer. "Do answer the High Lady Gwendolen: I find your opinion...refreshing."

Perhaps a bit clumsy, perhaps in need of refinement...but not bad, considering. Not yet, anyway.

Re: Tea on the Brain (Tala)

Posted: April 8th, 2020, 12:42 pm
by Lou
Tala had no doubt that she would pay for he little barb to the Aes Sedai, but she had enjoyed answering the question, nonetheless. It was rare to be given an opportunity like this, and Tala was going to make the most of it, and show this woman that she was serious. It was still a toss up between the Yellow and Grey, but truly she did not think Yellow to be the best fit. Though she had lots of time to explore this after all, she would not be raising to the shawl any time soon. She snuck a look over to where Iolanthe was standing, and she was sure she caught a hint of surprise and may admiration? But she turned her head back to the High Lady, who was nodding along, as if she agreed with her. Strange indeed.

When the High Lady directed her next question to Tala directly, she blinked, surprised herself now. She focused on the woman before her, catching her question, but then she was off rambling about the Tuatha'an, or what she thought she knew, and then managed to bring the whole mess back to her. Tala was not surprised that a noble lady had managed to bring a question directed to Tala turned around and made into a comment about what the Grey Tower wanted her to do. Tala was about to answer, but she heard the door open and started to rise to go and take Lord Hyert's cloak, but Iolanthe stopped her, and directed her to answer the Lady's question. She did not miss the fact that she found her opinion refreshing, and she guessed she would be in for some serious lectures when all this was over.

"Actually, High Lady, we do have arranged marriages, between bands of us." She said softly, making sure to keep her tone soft, not like the was lecturing the woman, though that was what she was about to do. "Each band of the Tutha'an are made up of a number of families. So of course they have to be careful about marrying into themselves too much. Sometimes the Mhadi, the Seeker, the leader of the Band will arrange marriages between the young peoples between different bands, to spread the families apart. If they choose to marry an outsider then that is not worry." She paused, to swallow and add a bit of moisture back to her mouth.

"And while we may not have land, the Mahdi is always a man. If the Mahdi only had daughters, he will look to another band to marry her to someone, so when he passes to the Light, there is an Heir to take over. My older Brother was married to another band, and is an apprentice Mahdi to his wife's Father." She paused, "But to answer you initial question, High Lady, I believe that if you are blessed to be in a position to help those under you, then a marriage of alliance is a good thing. Love can come later, once you are friends, as this seems to make for more of a long term and stable marriage in the long run." Her studies had also shown that romances that start hot and wild have a tendency to end in tragedy or just fizzle out.

She looked up to see Lord Hyert and Iolanthe Sedai looking at her. Had she pressed her luck too far? She stood and curtsied to the High Lord, "My Lord, would you care for tea? My Lady, Aes Sedai would you like me to refresh your cups?"