Eye Color: Hazel/Dark Green
Hair Color: Auburn and Chocolate
Height: 5’11 3/4
Weight: 189 lbs.
Place of Origin: Andor (farm)
Philosophy: The Flame and the Void
Father: Dandar Hael
Mother: Endwena Hael (Deceased)
Siblings: Dalima Hael (male, age 20, Luneasa Hael (female, age 14)
Note: Ages in the following history vary for purposes of storyline. Above ages would be considered “current” as of the end of the history.
Wrap me in a bolt of lightning
Send me on my way still smiling
Maybe that’s the way I should go
Straight into the mouth of the unknown
Success, wonder, adventure and love, fun-filled days and restful nights: a farm and a family; having the biggest barn and the fattest sheep; tilling the best land and producing the largest crop; having a watchful dog and rolling hills bountiful with grass and the seasons’ future harvest. Small things like rolling down a hill and laughing with an older brother. Caring for a smaller sister who reveres you like a king. Perhaps these small things are what most boys raised on a farm could dream of. But the days in which particulars such as those seem but a mere misty memory, lost in the depths of a greater adventure, a larger crop. They pale, in fact, when compared to the thrill and excitement and nerve-racking, jaw-clenching, sweat-dripping tension coursing through the young man stalking softly along the edge of the trees, his footsteps only louder than a whisper drowned out by the wind rustling through the grassy hills.
Ahead, Tavin could just begin to make out the slender shape skulking around the base of the next copse of trees; Dal motioned him to the ground as he took to one knee. Picking up a nearby twig and handing it to his brother, Tavin slowly scraped clear a small patch of semi-hard earth, taking care to disturb as little of the natural foliage as possible. Making several hasty scratches in the dirt, Dal motioned this way and that, depicting the current position of the two of them in comparison to their quarry, and how each of them would approach the clearing. Nodding to himself, Tavin wiped away the scratches and attempted to replace the natural foliage of the forest floor; he had never been as good as his father at hiding tracks, but he was a fair bit better than his sister and almost a close match with his brother Dal. Checking the pouch at his waste that contained his precious bowstring, and re-adjusting the quiver at his side, Tavin flashed a quick smile at Dal, eased onto his belly and looked at his brother. Dal performed a quick check of his own bow and quiver, and smiled back. Then he was gone, moving swiftly through the trees, flanking what they hunted. Nodding to himself in time with the sound of his thoughts, Tavin counted a slow count of ten, taking measured breaths in time to try and slow his pounding heart down. Why anyone should not be able to hear his heart drubbing in his chest all around him, he did not know. Still on belly, Tavin began to slither between the forest edge on his left and the grassy mound to his right, towards the small clearing he knew to be ahead. The clearing was a prime camping spot, and it was close enough to the road that any but a blind fool in the dark would stumble into it. Then again, he thought wryly to himself, a blind fool still might not easily find his way even if the sun were scorching overhead.
As Tavin approached a tree, he slowed ever further, taking the utmost care to disturb nothing in his path; the element of surprise was critical, and he was not about to ruin the set-up now that they were so close. Hunting the shape ahead had taken nearly all day, following trails and subtle marks. Whoever was covering its trail was doing a good job of it. But not quite as good as they could have, he thought with a silent chuckle.
Sliding up beside a tree, he eased himself to his knees and quickly removed the small bow from his back. Tavin had bought that off of old hermit Bayal, when he and his brother visited only a few days gone. No one was really sure about Bayal, but it was generally agreed that he was from some place called Illian far to the south of anyplace he knew. Lifting open the flap of his pouch, he quickly strung his bow. Checking his quiver once more, Tavin risked a peak around the massive trunk of the old gnarly tree he was leaning on.
Quickly, his eyes picked out many potential pitfalls in their plan; there were too many twigs; the wind was not right for his brother, he would surely be caught; there was no sign of anyone else, but the bushes looked thoroughly disturbed as if by more than one person. Taking a claming breath, he eased himself back around the tree. In a few moments, his brother would approach the lone figure he had seen laying against another tree on the far side of the clearing, apparently sleeping, and catch them unawares. What they would do then, neither had thought about in depth. All their focus was on catching their quarry.
Straining his ears for any sound or signal of his brothers’ approach, he waited, painstakingly still. For what seemed hours but was surely only moments, Tavin stood there as stiff as a rock, waiting. Patience had always served him well; patience for his turn to food usually saw him eat first, as both punishment to his siblings and reward for himself; patience for being the last one fishing, the others long gone, and yet he usually returned with the most fish, if not always the biggest. Patience, even now, in waiting for the right time to spring into action. Then he heard it. The subtle crack of a twig. He thought it was the direction from which his brother had come from. Otherwise, they had trouble.
Dalima Hael was considered to be the most light-hearted of his family; although not as smart or as swift as his younger siblings, he certainly made up for his lacks in his sturdy build, brute strength and woodcraft ability. He and his father had spent time in the woods since early childhood. Now was the time to put his fathers teachings to the test. Looking over a small bush into the clearing, Dal decided he liked what he saw; a small figure wrapped in a blanket was sleeping up against the tree. He also saw a flicker of movement on the far end of the clearing. This was a good sign. It meant that Tavin was ready and in place. Casting about, he quickly came up with a small dry twig and – after putting sparse effort into it – snapped the twig. It had been quiet as twigs snapping go, but he was confident his younger brother had heard the signal.
Starting slowly forward, Tavin brought his bow to bear, sideways, so as not to hamper his crouching advance. He had an arrow knocked and the slack partially drawn up in his string, ready to draw at the slightest twitch of his surroundings. He approached the small, hooded figure wrapped in a blanket leaning against the tree, cautiously crossing the open space, avoiding as much forest debris as possible. Stalking up to the figure, he stopped, looked about for any sign of danger and, finding none, eased his bow down on the ground. Glancing one last time around the sun-dappled shadows cast by the surrounding trees, he reached forward and tapped the figure on the knee. Looking up out of the depths of her hood, Luneasa Hael smiled that beautifully lopsided and childishly innocent smile at him. Tavin could not help but smile back. His smile was gone as quickly as it had emerged when a strong arm encircled his neck. Frantically reaching for his bow but already knowing it was too late, his hand met a boot, pressing his only defence into the tree loam.
Cursing under his breath, Tavin struggled for all he was worth. His heart was in his throat and the big, sinewy arm encircling his neck was cutting off his supply of air. Kicking wildly, his leg lashed out and connected with something hard. He heard a muffled grunt from behind him, but the arm did not slacken. Knowing he was defeated, he was mildly surprised when the arm slowly loosed its grip on him and rose behind Tavins head, out of sight. Wonderingly, Tavin turned to peer into the warm and smiling face of his father Dandar, who was rubbing his shin ruefully. Peering back at his sister, who hadn’t really moved, Tavin shook his head and thought about how his father had managed to sneak up behind him without so much as a sound. Glancing behind Dandar, Tavin found the reason his fathers grip had loosened. Dal was standing there, firmly pointing his knocked arrow at his fathers back, only about three paces behind. “Thanks. I owe you one.” Tavin said with a slight shake of his head and a smile. “Whatever do you mean, dear brother?” Dal replied cheekily, “You owe me three!” Laughing at his brother’s sudden grin, Tavin was surprised to suddenly find himself on the ground, gasping for air. What had happened? He could see his brother Dal also on the ground, clutching his wrist and groaning. With a roar of laughter, Tavin’s sister danced over and plopped herself down beside him. “Silly Tav, did you really think you could beat ‘pa at his own game?” She said as she poked him with a stick. “Didn’t ‘pa ever tell you its not polite to poke people with sticks?” Tavin replied. His father offered his hand then, which Tavin accepted gratefully. “The lesson learned here today, my sons, is never to let your guard down, even if you think you have been freed by a friend and are safe. Had you kept a closer watch on me, I would never have been able to put myself between you and your brothers’ bow. You’re lucky that the arrowhead was only a cloth ball and not a hunter’s barb. There’s trouble everywhere, these days, and you must be constantly aware of your surroundings.” He lent a hand to Dal, heaving him upwards. “That’ll bruise a bit, but there’s no real damage done, lad.” He said, turning his head back to Tavin. “Just you remember what I said.” Grinning, Dal held out his hand, and Tavin shook it. “We almost had him that time, Tav! We were so close!” Dal put his arm around Tavin and the small party of four began walking home together. “Next time.” Tavin agreed. “Next time he’s ours, for sure.”
Exactly one half and three days later, the Hael family was gathered around their kitchen table. Luneasa was telling her brothers all about her adventurous day, while their father scooped out soup for each of them, bringing three bowls at once, arms laden with their meals. A small fire crackled in the hearth – they never really let it die out completely. It was easy enough to light a new fire, but easier still just to toss another log on and blow at the coals a little. It was not a mark of laziness but rather a practice of consistency that kept up this behaviour. The polished wooden walls of their house dimly reflected the light of the fire, blanketing everything in an omniscient natural orange-yellow glow.
Tavin thanked his father for the soup, and waited until everyone had theirs and Dandar had taken his place. “The Light shine on us, and the Creator shelter us in the palm of his hand always.” Dal intoned respectfully. Tavin didn’t fully understand what it meant, only that his ‘pa had said it since they were children, and then Dal took it up one day, long ago. “That saying brings luck, my boy!” That’s what Dandar replied whenever Tavin asked more about it. “You just remember that saying. Someday, Light, you may have need of it. The Light send it not so.”
“And daddy guess what?” Luneasa squeaked excitedly. “While I was down by the far back pond, I found a rabbit! It had hurt its leg badly, so I picked it up! I wanted to help it. I don’t know why, but all I did was run my finger gently over its broken leg and then it suddenly squirmed, landed and bounded away as if it was never hurt at all. Isn’t that amazing?” A look of innocent wonder crossed her face.
Dal had just slurped his first bit of soup, a grin on his face at the reprimand his father promptly gave him - “Mind your manners now, son. Your mother would not approve.” That was when it began. Luneasa made an odd choking sound and the blood drained from her face. It was understandable, since their mother had been long gone from this world for many seasons. She was a difficult subject at the best of times. She put her head down, coughing, and murmured apologies between racking sobs. She was clutching her arms to herself. Between breaths, she managed to ask to be excused to get some air, and with her fathers nod, she stood up. So quick was she that her chair almost toppled over backwards.
After the door closed hurriedly behind her, the men exchanged worried frowns.
It was unlike Luneasa to become so ill begotten at the mere mention of their mother. It was a difficult line of thought, to be sure, but this was unnatural of her. Slowly, Dandar went back to sipping on his soup. Dal just sat there, staring hard at the door, looking like a coiled spring ready to unleash on a moments notice. It was the thump that sent all three to their feet, scrambling for the door. Snatching a pot from the counter, Dal surprisingly outpaced the others and nearly tore the door from its hinges in getting outside. Dandar quickly followed. Tavin was behind them, although he covered the distance a little more slowly. The bright light inside the house made the black of night seem even darker than was natural. “Its’s just my bloody imagination,” he thought aloud. Stepping carefully outside the door, he stopped and allowed his eyes to adjust.
There, on the ground, was his baby sister Luneasa. Little Luna, who he had comforted during thunderstorms and read to on rainy days. Luna, with whom he had played in the grass with, and taught to shear sheep and milk cows. Luna, who was sprawled on the ground shaking, the tremors racking her body up and down. Dal cradled her head in his lap and Dandar had dashed back inside to fetch a cloth and the herbs they bought from the city that would supposedly cure mild stomach ailments. He rushed back to his daughters side and laid the cloth across her forehead, brushing hair from her eyes and whispering in her ear.
Tavin just stood there feeling numb. He had been just a little boy the last time he had seen anything like this, and that had been the last time he saw his mother alive. Dal remembered, although they seldom talked of it. Luna had been much too young at the time. Suddenly he became aware that Dal was looking at him funny, and his father looking at him expectantly. Desperately he racked his brain for what he had not really heard. Then it came to him. Dashing inside, he went to fetch blankets for his sick sister. The next day, Luna was up and about as if nothing had happened. A tension remained in the air however.
Luneasa did not, however, stop having these sicknesses coming down on her. They came a separated seasons at a time, at first, but then became more frequent. Too frequent. One day, Luna didn’t come down to breakfast. They found her shaking in her bed, blankets thrashed aside; no matter what they did, she would not open her eyes. The fever took her, this time, and nothing they tried seem to make her any better. “Have you ever seen anything like this, ‘da?” Dal asked his father, a worried frown now permanently etched on his features. “Only once, my son.” He sighed in response. “And I fear that it was my pride and her stubbornness that made her leave this world.” That last was quiet, probably meant only for himself, but Tavin just heard it. He shuddered.
That was how Tavin, Dalima, and Dandar found themselves taking turns driving the cart pr caring for a sick and near-delirious Luneasa in the back while the others walked onwards to Tar Valon, where Dandar said they would find someone who could make her fever break. Who could make it all go away. He also said it was as good as loosing their sister, his daughter. Neither of his sons understood, but Dandar assumed an air of grim determination and it soon became apparent that he would say no more.
One night, a night that none of them would ever forget, they sat by a fire in silence. Perhaps it was a measure of their weariness that they never heard the approaching footsteps of hunters in the night. Perhaps it was that. Regardless, they scrambled to their feet as the sounds of shouting men fast approached. Dandar quickly shoved his sons towards the trees, yelling in a hoarse whisper that they hide and keep silent. They all three worked to heave their sister out of the back of the cart, away from the warmth of the fire, and safely into the thick bushes on the fringe of the oblong clearing.
They watched first in fear and then in horror as four very large, very mean-looking men, surrounded their father, each with a knife or a sword or a clube; they looked on as Dandar explained that he was by himself, just a weary traveler trying to escape hard times. Tavin knew it had gone sour when one man, who seemed to be the leader, spat in Dandars face and brandished his bared steel blade by his throat. Dandars’ hands went up in defenceless process, explaining that he had a family to return to ahead. Then their leader slit Dandars throat. With a sickening thud, his body hit the ground, his eyes staring unblinking at the stars. Dalima cursed before he could catch himself, and the bandits turned their heads sharply to listen. Silence. So they left, with the cart and donkey, in search of more easy prey. So Dalima and Tavin brought their sister back to the fire, and the bloody scene. So they grieved. So they became lost.
After burying their father, they agreed that although they might meet more bandits, their sister would surely die if they didn’t press on. Without their father, they had no way to know where this Tar Valon was. They had some coins, though, and would ask for directions. Using tree branches and their fathers old cloths the pair fashioned a litter and bore their sister to the next town, where they stole a small cart. They pulled the cart themselves, though – stealing a cart was one thing, a living animal a whole different matter – and carried on.
What happened next, Tavin was never really sure. Everything blended together into this nightmare. After many restless nights and long, tiresome days; after many asking of directions and many nights under the stars, the trio reached Tar Valon, desperate and ragged from their long journey north. They had long since run out of coin and lost a lot of weight when they could not afford to eat. A stream with fish or a rabbit caught in the woods was not always available; sometimes it was roots and berries, if anything at all. The healing ladies - Aes Sedai, they were called - said they would help her, but they needed to take her away where they shouldn’t follow; they would only be distractions. Grudgingly, they acceded and eventually found their way to an inn. Thankfully, the Aes Sedai had given them enough coin to buy a decent meal and rooms at an inn. The whole scale of the city would have awed them, if they were not so numb from their journey. They still gawked a little, but only a little, at the amazing palaces, golden domes and shining walls dominated by the awesome presence of the White Tower.
The next morning, Tavin awoke with a start. His cloths stuck to him with sickly chilled sweat – he knew he had been dreaming, but couldn’t remember what it had been. The memory of his heart pounding as he ran was still fresh in his mind. Rolling out of his small bed, he pulled out some mostly-clean clothing from his pack. He washed at the small washstand before going to look out the solitary window. Not even noticing the white-washed walls of his room, nor the splendour of the marvellous city around him, his eyes locked straight at the tower. I’ve never even been beyond my home and yet here I am, taking in palaces and inns that would fit the inn in the nearest village to his farm three times over. He thought ruefully. Eyes still riveted on the white tower, he wondered what hand had created such a great work. In the same moment, he knew he would go to the tower and explore, if only a little, while he waited for his sister. Glancing over at his brother, still soundly asleep on the other bed, Tavin ran a hand through his hair and eased out into the small hallway of the inn.
Wandering about the streets in the general direction of the White Tower, but in no particular hurry, he let his feet guide his footsteps wherever they pleased. Upon reaching the tower, he mounted the steps and entered the broad, open doorway, where sunlight filtered through windows further up and danced on the ground. After a time, a girl dressed in white with many colours on the hem of her dress asked if she could help. After explaining his purpose, she told him to wait and she would be back. Eventually she returned and informed him his sister was recovering, but would still need some time. Nodding to himself, he thanked her with an awkward semblance of a bow and left the large, round room. Once outside, he decided to meander his way towards the sound of rapid clacking, like wood striking wood repetitively.
Passing underneath a stone archway that shone with the sunlight and then rounding a corner, Tavin’s eyes beheld quite the odd site. Men of all ages stood all around the yard; some were shirtless and trying to hit each other with sticks – shaped like a sword! He had only ever seen a real sword once before on a merchants guard when the Hael family had visited the city – while others jogged in groups around the open area. Older men, looking hard and imperiously around the yard watched silently, standing as implacable as a stone, barking the odd command or showing a younger man – boy, really – how to hold himself differently. It took him a moment to realise his jaw was open before he closed it with a slight click of his teeth. Soldiers. They must be soldiers.
That’s how Tavin Hael found himself in the training grounds of the infamous Warders, Guardians of Aes Sedai and the White Tower. What happens next? We’ll just have to wait and see.