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Author Topic: Signs and Portents  (Read 1374 times)

Robert Laurel

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Signs and Portents
« on: August 27, 2015, 06:07:38 PM »

Robert opened his eyes as the first hint of the dawn came through the curtains, a habit learned from years of service in the Tower Guard. A dainty snore came from beside him, his wife Delia was a notorious slugabed who really hated to get up in the mornings. He got up, put on a light robe and went to the plate glass door that opened out into the garden and pulled open the curtains to look at the coming day. It would be a nice spring one, he thought to himself, not a cloud in the sky which would be a blessed relief from the rains that had been falling over the past tenday. The sun was still not visible; it had yet to rise high enough to shine onto the lower levels of the White Tower. The garden was a riot with flowers from every part of the Westlands and beyond and the birds were greeting the day with song; soon the gardeners would be out tending the fragile blossoms. Paths wound their way through with shade trees giving the occasional bench cover from the elements. He heard a sight noise behind and turned with a grin to see his wife glaring at him. "Close the damned curtains so I can get back to sleep!" He chuckled, making sure Delia couldn't hear, as he shook off his robe and made his way towards the bath.

Coming out after his shower she was finally sitting up in bed, her hair falling in a golden glory around her shoulders. Not saying a word, she slipped out of her nightdress and made her way to the bath to take a considerably longer time to start her day. Robert started to put on his uniform, laid out by the servants beside the dress that Delia would wear for the day. During his years in the Tower Guard he had learned to do for himself, but Delia's dresses always required a maid to help her into them. He had just finished zipping up his uniform jacket when she came out of the bath and called for her maids to assist her. They slept in rooms just down the hall and came right in; they had been waiting outside for their mistresses' call. As the maids came in Robert pulled on his pistol belt and shrugged it into place, automatically checking the cylinder before he settled the weapon into its holster. It had proved handy several months ago when someone had tried to murder him in his own office, the man had died in the exchange of fire and so therefore could not be questioned. There had been nothing in his clothing or personal effects to identify who he was or where he had come from.

He could smell the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting from the kitchens as he settled in a chair to watch his wife dress. She was wearing a loose white dress with green trim; her pregnancy had started to show a few tendays ago and a Yellow had informed them that it would be a girl. They both had been pleased; Robert looked forward to having a daughter to spoil and as for Delia, having a girl solved an enormous number of political problems.

Delia was the most powerful woman in the Westlands in centuries. She was the only surviving descendant of Elayne Trakand, and was therefore the Dragon Empress. She was also the most powerful Aes Sedai alive and so had been elected Amyrlin Seat. The resulting concentration of power made many people understandably nervous.

He could hear servants outside the bedroom door bustling around; they would be getting breakfast ready for them in the small dining room they used for themselves. Workers were preparing a nursery next door and it was already overflowing with the gifts had that started pouring in with the official announcement of the Amyrlin Seat's pregnancy. Some of them might even turn out to be useful.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2019, 06:56:10 PM by Robert Laurel »
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Robert Laurel

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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2015, 02:09:43 PM »

Delia finished dressing and they went out to break their fast. There was hot bread right out of the oven with crocks of butter and jam and hot tea with sugar and honey to sweeten it. Scrambled eggs and bacon and sausage for him; porridge sweetened with raisins and fruit for Delia along with fruit juices and milk. The Yellows had been nagging at her to change her diet. No audiences for her today, it was catching up on her paperwork and endless meetings. For him it was the same, the top of it being his once a tenday briefing from the head of Imperial Intelligence. Delia would get the same briefing later. Lately Elaine had been getting more and more gloomy in her assessments. Robert and Delia would get together at the end of the day to compare notes and brainstorm. Tonight they would be going over to his sister's home for dinner. Erin was a notable cook and preferred to spend time in the kitchen when she could get away from running the commercial empire she had inherited from their father. Robert let her run his share; she was much better at it than he could ever be.

When they finished their meal they made to leave, parting with a kiss. They had scandalized Tar Valon with their open displays of affection at the start, but now it had become accepted, even lauded, as a model for other marriages. In one of her first acts upon becoming the Amyrlin Seat, Cadusane the Wise had openly encouraged aes sedai to have children. Marriage was optional. She had read in the old accounts that in the Age of Legends the percentage of people who had some channeling abilities was about ten percent of the population; in these times it was only a fraction of that, and the main reason was the reluctance of channelers to produce offspring. Cadusane and the leader of the Black Tower, Logain Ablar, met and encouraged their followers to marry and have children. Many did, with the Reds taking the lead. The other Ajahs had followed suit and soon the White and Black Towers were overrun with children. The percentage of people who could channel was going up, but it would take time to reach the proportions from the Age of Legends.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2015, 05:37:16 PM by Robert Laurel »
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2015, 08:27:02 PM »

Delia's office was only a few steps away; Robert's was in the section of the White Tower that had been assigned to the War Ministry. The place was huge and there were parts that still didn't see much use. All they had had to do was clear the dust away and bring in new furniture. The sentries stationed at the door to the Amyrlin's Suite snapped to attention as he exited the apartments; he returned their salutes with a wave. There were guards all around the lowest level of the Tower, a new precaution since the murder attempt on him.

The hall was lit by the cheery glow of light weaves that darkened automatically at midnight and brightened up again at six. The Sisters had discovered many things they could do with their powers and had basically remodeled the White Tower. The entire building had had a modern plumbing system installed, so now every room in the place had access to hot and cold running water and showers and flush toilets. Other weaves kept the building cool in hot weather and nice and cozy in the winters. There were now angreals in every home that provided light as well as heat for cooking and warmth in the winter and cooling in the summer. There were also angreals for food preservation, so provisions could be kept for years without spoiling. The standard of living for the overall population was the highest in centuries, a monument to the three centuries of the Dragon's Peace.
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2015, 08:33:59 PM »

Robert entered the War Ministry section, the guards snapping to attention as he walked past, their Armory rifles gleaming from all the polish. In this section, besides his office, were the offices of the high ranking staff officers, along with his chief of staff and Deputy War Minister, along with the offices of the Tower Guard. That organization was now a full part of the Imperial Army and was the headquarters that controlled the units recruited in the Tar Valon region. It was headed up by three-star general who was also a Green. There were only a few who took up a soldiers' life, but those who did were very good at it. A Green was also his Deputy War Minister; she took care of the administrative details that he didn't have time to see to these days. He kept the post of Commander-in-Chief for himself. Unfortunately that called for meetings on such things as budget estimates which had to be presented to parliament. The Amyrlin Seat was an absolute ruler when she wanted to be, but she had delegated her authority to act in certain matters to The Keeper of the Chronicles and through her to the Prime Minister, who came from the largest party in parliament. The budget hearings were wearisome with MP's constantly trying to find nits to pick so they could score points with the voters from their ridings.
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2015, 10:00:54 PM »

Delia could feel her husband's exasperation through the bond, she sent back a little trickle of amusement. They couldn't read each other's minds, but in the way that all married couples develop each could tell what the other was thinking without much effort. She had just finished her own ordeal of meetings, this time with ministers who felt that their pet projects needed absolutely priority NOW! She leaned back in her chair, easing her back. It was coming up on lunch, she was eating healthily like the Yellows insisted, a salad with vinegar and oil along with fruit and bread and cheese. She would dine well enough at dinner tonight at Erin's. She set a very good table and there would be nice fresh fish from the river. Weaves were wonderful things; it was amazing how they purified the river and kept the water safe to drink and safe to eat fish from. Dinner was when she would have the one glass of wine she was allowed each day.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2016, 08:40:16 PM by Robert Laurel »
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2016, 08:59:15 PM »

The rest of their day was routine, or as routine as the days of royalty could be. The briefing Robert received from Elaine was that there were definite signs of stress in New Seanchan. The Emperor wanted to go back to Old Seanchan and reclaim the continent; General Gavin Pavol wanted to expand, but wanted to go to war against the Dragon Empire to do it. So far it had just been talk, but Elaine spoke of her concern that Pavol was starting to find supporters at the highest level of the Seanchan government. One more thing for him and Delia to worry about.

Their work done for the day, the two of them walked down to the Tar Valon Opera House for their presentation of Turandot.

Back in the beginning of Cadusane's reign, a group of Brown sisters found a cave in the base of Dragonmount which hadn't been there before. Gaining entrance, they found thousands and thousands and thousands of books. They were from an age before the Breaking. They came from an age where no one even had any idea of what channeling was. The most valuable find was a complete set of something called an 'Encyclopedia'. And in that Encyclopedia they found a hoard of knowledge. The set of books was dated 1910 in their reckoning, and contained all of the knowledge of their time. It told of practical things, such of how to shoe horses, how to make a carriage, etc. But it also told about how to make things which the Westlands hadn't even come close, such as steam-powered riverboats, firearms, railroads and even flying machines. There were also printing presses of an usual type, that could print and collate hundreds of books in a short time.

Now then, it would have been very easy for Cadusane and the Tower to hide this trove of knowledge. But she decided on something different. She, in consultation with the Sitters of the Tower, decided to reveal almost all to the public. Only a very few things, such as in the making of weapons, were to be kept secret until needed.

The public took to the new knowledge like a baby duck to water. It sparked a badly needed renaissance in culture and knowledge. Entrepreneurs took and ran with the knowledge revealed, and soon there were all kinds of new machines on the streets and roads and in the farms and oceans. That, along with the new ways that had been discovered of using tear'angreals, led to a rapid increase in the quality of life. Better sanitation led to a badly needed population increase; but since the farms now required less people to work, some of the surplus went into the former Blight to start their own farms, while others went to the cities to work in the new factories that had sprung up almost overnight.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2017, 09:13:49 PM by Robert Laurel »
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2016, 05:25:04 PM »

Nobody knew where the cave and its contents had come from. Many people felt that the Lord Dragon, before he perished fighting the Dark One, had placed it there. However they had gotten there, the books had had quite an influence upon the World. The works on the sciences, engineering, construction, philosophy and so on had inspired the creation of many seats of learning and many volumes had been produced to discuss those effects.

In one thing Rand al'Thor had played a very bad joke on the world. Some of the books he had placed were from a genre known as romance novels. They were dreck as far as he was concerned, but the populace had snapped them up avidly. They began creating their own. He had started to read one and wound up throwing it against the wall, much to Delia's amusement. But some, from the science-fiction genre, had been very interesting. While the dates on reference works had been around 1910, the copyright dates on many of these were in the 1950's leading up to around 2010. These had contained references to men and women flying through the air in heavier-than-air aircraft and traveling through space to other worlds. Some of the stories were no doubt exaggerated, but some of them had been scientifically plausible and men and women of learning were experimenting. So far those experiments hadn't gotten very far.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2016, 10:16:51 PM by Robert Laurel »
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2016, 10:35:15 PM »

He and Delia chose to walk the mile from the Opera House to his sister's home, followed at a discreet distance by two bodyguards from the Amyrlin's Own, the elite formation that served as Delia's bodyguard here in Tar Valon. He himself was in uniform wearing a pistol. It was about nine in the evening, but the streets, brightly lit with ter'angreals in lampposts, were still busy with men and women on bicycles and riding the street cars up and down the avenues. Horses, unless diapered, were forbidden the city. There were steam-powered trucks carrying deliveries for the next day as well as the occasional private car. Those were still expensive but were coming down in price so it wouldn't be long before the average family could afford one. The shops were closing for the evening, but the restaurants and inns were busy as workers who didn't cook at their homes got their final meal of the day.

People called out their greetings as they passed and Delia returned then with a smile. She was dressed in a cream-colored pant suit with a white blouse, with her hair hanging loose behind her. She had left her marks of office at home and the only jewelry she was wearing were her engagement and wedding rings. Fashion being what it was, if the Amyrlin wore something it would be selling out in the shops the next morning. Robert smiled to himself. Nobody paid any attention to him, which was just the way he wanted it.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2017, 09:52:26 AM by Robert Laurel »
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2017, 07:22:51 PM »

Delia thought it was a very nice dinner at her sister-in-law's townhouse. Also present was Elaine's only child and heir, Juliette. She had reached her age of majority at sixteen about half a year ago and was alternating between continuing her schooling and learning how to run the family business. Erin had temporarily given up her posts as business head when she became Minister of Commerce and Trade. The previous minister had had the bad habit of using the public's money as his own and it had been decided that the way to avoid that was to appoint someone who was so rich they wouldn't steal from the public purse and couldn't be bribed. She had also been sworn in to the Privy Council so she could advise Delia on matters outside her portfolio. Juliette was allowed to sit in as a learning experience; it was probable that she would be not only head of the business but also a government minister at some point in the future.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2017, 10:09:27 PM by Robert Laurel »
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2017, 10:39:15 PM »

All too soon, the dinner had to come to an end and Delia and Robert had to leave. At this time of night they had sent for an enclosed carriage to take them back to the White Tower. Soon they were back in their suite; the servants had already turned down their bed and set out their clothing for the next day. Fortunately, it was a rest day and neither one of them had much of anything planned and were hoping to just relax and hope there wasn't an emergency. He planned to catch up with his reading. There had been millions of volumes in that cavern. He had gotten interested in a genre called science fiction. Some of the plots bordered on the impossible; others, not so much. They had given him ideas and he was not the only one. Delia planned on getting together with close friends that she had had from when she was a novice. It was one of the few times she could let her hair down.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2019, 07:25:09 PM by Robert Laurel »
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2019, 07:33:39 PM »

<<Illian, Palace of tjhe Seanchan Emperor>>

All was peaceful as the guards walked their rounds to protect the royal family. Suddenly a great ball of yellow fire erupted, sending out a wave of destruction that incinerated everything within half a mile. Fire alarms sounded all over the city as the bells and sirens of fire engines raced toward the scene.
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2019, 08:06:15 PM »

<<Imperial Embassy, Illian>>

"Blood and ashes!" the aes sedai ambassador exclaimed as she was awakened from a sound sleep by a tremendous explosion. Putting on a light robe, she ran to the window and opened the curtains to reveal a scene of devastation. She hurried to the door and threw it open, shouting for her aides. "Burn all the papers in the embassy. Send one of our spies out to find out what has happened. In one hour I open a gate to Tar Valon."
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 01:32:05 AM by Robert Laurel »
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2019, 08:31:30 PM »

<<Imperial Embassy, Illian>>

<<One hour later>>


The weasel-faced man slipped back through the embassy back door and came up to the ambassador, who was standing in the courtyard watching the last of the embassy papers being put to the flame. "The entire royal family is dead. Gavin Pavol has formed a 'Council of National Salvation'. He is blaming the explosion on uncontrolled channelers."

The ambassador snorted. She knew where that line was leading. She turned and opened the gate to Tar Valon and ushered everyone gathered there through it, and stepped through herself, closing it behind her.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 01:32:39 AM by Robert Laurel »
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2019, 06:15:58 PM »

<<Illian Harbor>>

Unnoticed by anyone in the Imperial embassy, the Seanchan High Seas Fleet slipped out pf the harbor headed east.
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Re: Signs and Portents
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2019, 10:13:40 PM »

Robert woke at the insistent knocking on the bedroom door. He looked at the clock on the wall and groaned. Good news never came at 0300. Beside him. Delia was beginning to stir. He put on his robe and and walked to the door. Standing there, hugely pregnant, was the Minister of Security, Elaine Treherne. Delia had gotten up and put on her own robe and was standing behind him. They listened as Elaine explained the news from Illian. Robert ran his hand through his sleep-tousled brown hair. Delia was the first to react. "Summon the cabinet for an 0800 meeting." Elaine nodded. "Activate General Headquarters and tell the Chiefs of Staff I want to see them at 0600," Robert said. Elaine nodded and left. Robert sighed. No sleep for them the rest of this night. "Tell the kitchens that we'll have an early breakfast," he told the duty officer. He closed the door and began dressing.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 03:54:42 PM by Robert Laurel »
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