My name is Lanfir Leah Marithsen. Yes, I know. Nice name, eh? It’s the reason why I go by my second name these days. My first name, Lanfir reflects the first two and a half years of my life. I remember nothing of it, of course, save from some blurry, dreamlike ideas, but I've been told what happened. I was born in Whitebridge, Andor. My parents were Darkfriends. Pretty high in rank too, I am told. Especially my mother is said to have been a fanatic, in secret of course. She really believed in what she was doing. I do not know what exactly she did, or how my father spent his days, but I think I don’t want to know.
They must have liked me, because they named me after a Forsaken. Of course, the name is not totally the same, they would never have gotten away with that, but the pronunciation makes people wince every time I introduce myself.
I was almost three years old when they were caught and hung on the central square in Whitebridge. Our neighbor, an older woman named Marisah, took pity on me and took me into her house to raise and nurture. I owe her everything. My morals, my life, everything. Her husband had died a year earlier. Marisah she had taken over the grocery store, and could therefore provide for the two of us. She did her best to make my life as happy and content as possible, aside from the beatings and taunts I suffered from the kids on the street. With such a name and such a lineage, surely a child can only grow up to become wicked, right? I’d like to believe that Marisah, the light bless her, proved them wrong.
When I was thirteen, I was helping Marisah out in the store whenever I could. As she was getting older, she was having a harder time lifting boxes and standing on her feet all day, and I did not mind at all. She had taught me how to read and basic maths, and I could help her out just fine. Our grocery store was situated on the main square in Whitebridge, and we had a lot of customers that were passing through the town. One of them was a regal looking woman in an elaborate green dress and silvergrey hair. She had intense dark eyes and regarded me sharply.
“Is there anything wrong, lady?” I stammered, uncertain under her piercing gaze.
Before I knew, I was on the way to Tar Valon. The woman was an Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah, named Miraina Veladar, and I was born with the spark. I had to go to Tar Valon to study the One Power. Even though it all sounded mightily exciting and I could get away from the kids in town that had taken it upon themselves to beat me up and make my life hell, it pained my heart to leave Marisah behind. But the old woman smiled and told me that this was my chance to prove myself for what I was worth and that I could leave my heritage behind. I could start a whole new legacy, and make my name one to love.
With that advice in mind, I immersed myself into Tower life. I turned out to be a very strong channeler and a quick study. My teachers doted on me, and I loved my life in Tar Valon. I quickly made friends with my roommates, Nymphia Marisa (I took her last name as a sign of good fortune) and Lyssa Delgidan (who later ran off as Accepted because she had gotten herself pregnant). Because of my quick studying and my grasp of the One Power, my time as a novice lasted shorter than average.
It was during my testing to become Accepted that I resolved to try and join the Green Ajah. Throughout my life, I always had to fight for anything I wanted. Now, all I wanted was to fight for the Light, and reject whatever my parents had stood for. I had the feeling that I could fight most effectively when I would join the Green Ajah. My Healing capabilities were good, but my morals did not allow me just to preserve life. I wanted to preserve life AND fight the Shadow!
Miraina Sedai was my mentor, for which I am still glad. She and Daeralle Sedai have taught me so much in the ways of battle and strategy and conduct – I had not realized how much until I found myself in battle eventually. Most of the Green Ajah members were rather old, those days. I am not sure why… maybe not much novices and Accepted had felt the call to battle in the decades before me. Nymphia and I, and another friend of mine named Morgan, resolved to change that.
Of course, it did not go that easily. When I finally entered the room of the Head of the Green Ajah (who turned out to be Miraina after all), she told me calmly that I was not ready yet. I thought it had to do with my age, because I was still shy of fourty years old, but as the months progressed and I chewed on my disappointment, Daeralle and Miraina spent lots of time with me and taught me all they knew about battle. Then I understood. It was Miraina who finally told me that if I’d try for acceptance once more, I’d be accepted into the Green Ajah.
Delirious with happiness I tried again, and rattled off a breathless heartfelt speech about wanting to fight for all that was good in the world, about spitting in the Dark One’s eye and preserving the Light, and before I knew one of the Sitters laid the shawl around my shoulders and I felt hot tears of relief streaming over my face.
I had finally found my destiny. I worked hard, bubbling with energy when I got up every morning. I placed myself in harder situations every time I had learnt something. I trained and learnt, I volunteered for every request for a Green Sister, and I did all I could to make a good impression. I wanted to prove myself badly. In those first years, I never even thought about bonding. Oh, sure, I was looking around and even had a brief affair with a young ward called Degan, but it did not last for very long.
It was Jaksyn who was my first warder, when I took over his bond after the death of the White Aes Sedai he had been bonded to. It had happened without his explicit consent, to save his very life. At first he hated my guts, but as time progressed we both realized that our natures were too compatible to stay mad for long, and we became very good friends.
At the same time, the Green Ajah started to bloom again. Morgan and Nymphia were both raised within the same year. Not long after that Mandi, Ladria and Ryell followed. Ryell and I hit it off great. Workaholics as we both were, we got up every morning at the crack of dawn and we would work out, hone our skills, and talk about battles and strategy and men. Ryell had a fearsome appearance, but behind her soldier-like look there was a woman with a great sense of humor and knowledge of battle that exceeded mine by far. I learnt from Ryells past in the army in the Borderlands as much as I had learnt from Miraina, I think. At the same time, she learnt as much from me in the way of social behavior and politics.
The Green Ajah had a whole new generation, and it bloomed once more. Miraina died rather suddenly in a horrible way; she fell down a stairway. I nearly cried my eyes out over that: it would have saddened her so much if she would have known she’d leave us that way. Miraina was a soldier by heart, much like Ryell, and she had wanted to go out in battle. My eyes were still swollen and red from crying when I was summoned by the Sitters.
Up until this day, I am still not sure why they raised me. Sure, I was good at what I did. One of the best. My strength in the One Power ranks with the top five percent in the Tower. But I was young, laid back, friendly… not at all stern with people. I was very busy with proving myself and had never thought of actually leading an Ajah. Still, they wanted me to do it, and ambitious as I was, I accepted.
I had never realized the burden it was. Paperwork and politics took up most of my day. I nearly drowned in it, but I simply refused to let myself be bogged down by it. I fought myself through the politics and the paperwork, and I simply did my best. Jaksyn was the one who got me out when things were growing over my head, and he was the one to suggest field trips to hone my battle skills some more. They were growing a bit rusty over time, while my political skills were growing. Yet, politics have never been my thing.
I like to make things nurture and grow. This is also the reason why I spent so much time with the novices and accepted in the Tower: I loved to teach and to coach the novices into a future they would fit in, into an ideal they would be able to follow. Maybe it was because of my attention to the younger generation in the Tower that the Green Ajah blossomed even more. A lot of talented young woman joined my Ajah, and I was happy with their additions. Mierin, Taya and Lyanna were such women. I spent a lot of time with them, teaching them the things I knew.
In the same period, I met Souvan, a young ward with a sweet smile that simply melted my heart. We fell in love. Hard. A passionate relationship and a bond followed. My warders were my strength, my mentees and my Ajah were my pride. I worked and lived, and if I look back, I think I did a more than decent job of it.
What made it all go wrong then? It was some time after Jaksyn’s untimely death when I had sent him to Cairhien to check up on some Eyes and Ears reports that it all came crashing down upon me. I was a sniveling wreck, and Souvan felt my pain and shared it as much as he could – until it began to drive a wedge between us. Maybe it was jealousy towards his dead bond brother, maybe he had something else, maybe I was wallowing in self-pity too much. I will never know, I guess.
I just know that in the midst of that hellish battle in the Borderlands, Souvan forsaked his vows and left me. The battle ended in a draw, I think… officially. Yet my personal losses were even greater. I had not won the battle. I had lost Souvan to whatever had driven us apart, and I had lost Ryell Jagad to something I can only call insanity. She had broken inside somewhere, when I had wanted to take her to the Borderlands. She had not wanted to return, and I had pulled rank on her and took her. And she lost her mind.
The young sisters I had taken with me survived. Taya, Kaylan, Lyanna, Mierin… they all proved themselves over and over again. I lost Gytta, the niece of the Keeper of the Chronicles, and that created a rift between the Keeper and I that was never mended. I lost too much in too short a time, and I could not handle it anymore.
It still pained me to write this down, but I failed.
I looked in the mirror and saw the same look in my eyes as I had seen on Ryell when I had last seen her in Fal Dara, before she disappeared. Feverish. Pained. Tired. I could not find any rest in my head, nor in my duties. And it was then that I resigned as Head of the Green Ajah and resolved to leave the tower in search for Souvan. I never found him. Three years after I stopped searching for him, I felt the last remnant of the bond between us dissolve. I’ve never been able to find out what became of him.
And so my life outside of the Tower started. Too torn and shamed to return, too cowardly to end my life - I have lived in twilight for years. Until now. They offered me the tavern because the tavernkeeper, Jaiden, is resigning. He is old, and he cannot handle the stress anymore. After leading an Ajah, the politics of the tavern feel like pure bliss to me. I think I am going to do it. I think I need it. Just to do something positive again… my life is not over yet. I still got time enough.
~Lanfir Leah Marithsen.
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