“No, no, no,” Lexandre snapped. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying his best to keep his temper in check because these thick-headed children weren’t following his directions. How had he gotten roped into teaching again after all this time? “I know you boys think you know every bloody thing there is to know already, but if you don’t do what I tell you, you’re going to end up dead. And while I don’t really care,” not exactly true, but best if they didn’t know that, “I’m pretty sure your fellow students might, which would stunt their learning and lead to more of you runts burning out.”
The group of five young men, ranging from seventeen to twenty-six, shuffled their feet under their teacher’s black glare. The Asha’man had a reputation as being very fun and engaging when he wasn’t instructing someone. He was an exacting teacher who demanded perfection and did not suffer foolishness. The focus of his ire, a Kandori Soldier called Eodred, reddened like a maid. “My apologies, sir. I was just -”
“No excuses.” His voice was hard but not heated. “Just do better. I’ve seen what happens to a man when his concentration slips while seizing saidin. If you had...well, you would never let that happen to you.” His face softened just an ounce. “Or to one of your students.” Not that Lexandre had ever allowed a student to be so harmed in his charge, but he had seen it when he himself had been a Soldier.
Eodred snapped to attention. “Yes, sir.”
His fair face smoothed into a mask as he fell into the Void. And, suddenly, the boy bristled with danger and energy and yet his expression never changed. After maintaining his grasp on the One Power for two minutes, Lexandre told the Soldier, “Okay, enough.” Eodred sagged as he released it and looked hopefully at his teacher.
WIth a tight smile, Lexandre nodded. “Much better.” As the kid stood straighter with the sparse praise, the Asha’man let his own mind wander. He hadn’t gotten much sleep last night. Katty had kept him up for a long time, and when he had slept, his dreams had been interrupted with a message from Charic. It wasn’t the clearest communication, but he gathered that the man and his father were visiting today.
Well, that meant he should get ready to greet his friend. Lexandre the Smith receded for now, putting away his rigorous teaching tools, while Lex the Gentleman moved forward. That he and Jhanic remained friends after all these years pleased him in a way he couldn't easily express. Few had made such a lasting positive impression on him that the ones that did - Jhanic and Kieron in the Waste, Iridal and Jahn and Benwaine here at the Black Tower - always held an elevated place in his life. And he knew if Jhanic was coming here, it was for a reason rather than a social call.
“Enough for now, lads. Now run along,” Lex insisted, shooing them off to whatever chores awaited their day. He stomach growled and reminded him that he'd only eaten a leftover bowl of porridge this morning. Well, his hunger would just have to wait. His friend would arrive as early as he could. He tugged at his slim strip of a beard along his chin before shrugging on his black coat. He didn’t bother buttoning it up, though, so at least his bright blue shirt added a little color to his outfit.
The morning was cool, with midday still a few hours off. Spring was creeping back across Andor, though hadn’t come into full swing just yet. Last week, the hard frosty nights made him think that maybe they were in for another snowstorm, but the cold only lasted a few days. He didn’t much care for that - the pattern was an odd one for this part of the world - but he had no skill with Listening to the Wind and so only had experience to draw on. But there was something was not quite right, even if he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Ahead, near the traveling grounds, was a stir. Two men, who stood at least a hand taller than the rest and each with a bright shock of red hair atop those looming heads, strode through the gawking crowd. Many of the younger students at the Tower had never seen an Aiel in person, nor had many of the visitors. Jhanic looked bored as he scanned across the grounds, but that was typical for the man. Rare was the change in his expression.
Lex didn’t bother going to meet his friend; his white hair made him stand out nearly as much as Jhanic’s red. Instead, he leaned against the building he’d been teaching in, pulled out his pipe and pouch of Two Rivers tabac, and grabbed the One Power to light it. By the time the Aielman reached him, Lex had a proper cloud of smoke swirling around his face. “I see you, Jhanic. May you find water and shade.”