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View Full Version : A Different Wheel - Ch.2


st122
07-23-2011, 01:25 AM
A/N Here’s the next chapter. I’m not sure if I’m posting this correctly for theoryland. So please correct me if something’s wrong.

The first 4 chapters move quickly and are very close to the actual story. Once they are in Caemlyn things will begin to differ drastically.

As they cantered a light mist swirled around them, though not dense enough to keep a Draghkar from circling relentlessly above. Tigraine heard no sound except the rhythmic thumping of horses’ hooves on the damp road to Tarren Ferry.

She could hardly remember riding a horse this hard. She had, of course, but years ago on her family’s estates in Andor. Back then it had been the actions of a spoilt Daughter Heir. It had taken her brother, Luc, to save her. His strong arms had caught her when she had slipped from the saddle.

His life before hers, he’d always use to say and he had meant it. She could only hope he had not done anything foolish in her absence and that he had returned from the Blight. With each stride, the pounding of hooves vibrated through her body and assaulted her ears. What had become of him? In her haste to learn of Galad she had forgotten to ask Moiraine about her Luc. News of him was scarce at the best of times, even in Caemlyn. Being in a distant village meant no news had ever reached her.

Some travellers might have known, but how could she have asked? A simple rural woman did not know nor ask about such discrete nobleman such as Luc. With a Trakand on the thrown and House Mantear remaining quiet, he would be even more withdrawn.

The group rode ever harder with the Dark One’s minions nipping at their heels. Despite her wandering thoughts, she managed to stay on her horse. None in the group, besides Thom, paid any notice. The Gleeman was no fool and knew the skill required to ride a horse as smoothly as Tigraine. She wondered again at how much the man knew.

The night grew colder, the moon a sliver less than full, bathed them as they crested a small hill absent of mist. The Draghkar, shrieked high above them. The creature unnerved the younger people in the group and their riding grew erratic.

For a brief moment Tigraine closed her eyes, trying to remember something more pleasant. Galad! Her mind cried out. Would he ever be able to forgive her? It was difficult to think clearly as the Warder increased the tempo to a gallop.

The death defying race through the night coupled with her own fears occupied too much of her mind. Damp mist soaked her clothes. Her uncomfortable leather saddle chafed at her skin and her hands, tight around the reigns, cut into her lightly gloved skin. And yet, every few minutes she could see Galad. She wondered if he tall and proud, like Rand, with a face irresistibly handsome, like his father. Dark hair, perhaps long, framed a boyish complexion.

Tears threatened and then leaked from her eyes. A hand wiped at wet cheeks, hoping the others would think her face wet from the moist air. They did not notice, each too busy handling the horse beneath them.

She should have been joyful as each minute riding brought her closer to her oldest son. Yet, each stride brought with it sadness in the knowledge that she had left him behind. Was Rand better than Galad? No. Did she love Rand more? Never. She loved both sons equally, despite never returning to Galad. Something in Rand, perhaps the strangeness around his birth had forced her to seek a quiet life. The reasons behind her decisions had grown murky over the years, but a feeling deep in her chest had kept her away from Caemlyn.

Before she had thought them near Tarren Ferry they had arrived. They did not wait long in the town. The villagers were suspicious and anxious, but most of all greedy. A pouch full of silver had them working hard and soon they were on the barge across the river. Once on the far side of the river Moiraine set a false trail. Then they endured another short, but hard ride, till they reached a camp prepared by the Warder days before.

Tigraine almost slipped of her horse, her body and mind numb. She felt almost as tired as the horse appeared. She managed to pat the horse while whispering to it quietly. “You did well tonight.” The horse made no indication it heard. It’s breathing, hard, made her worry that she’d ridden it to death.

With the horses ready for the night, they crawled into a hollow where Lan had prepared a fire. The covering seemed thick and no light escaped for Darkfriends to see.

Tigraine, Rand and the boys were last to enter. Moiraine sat with Egwene, who had done nothing for her horse and they were talking in hushed tones. The glint in the girl’s eyes could mean only one thing.

“She can channel,” Tigraine whispered to Rand who was crouched beside her. The low ceiling making it near impossible for him to stand.

“What?” He almost shouted. A thump followed his question as his head collided with an overhanging root. “Aghhh!” Rand cried out.

Tigraine tried not to laugh. Holding it in the sound came out as a very unladylike snort.

He eyed her angrily, before staring at Egwene. “You’re joking, right?”

She dearly wanted to tell him that this was all a dream; the Trollocs, the Draghkar and now his childhood friend being able to channel. She could not. “I’m sorry, son,” she whispered placing a hand on his shoulder.

He sighed, but then to her surprise he actually smiled faintly. “I’m happy for her,” he said at last. Unlike the other boys in Emond’s Field, Tigraine had taught him that most stories concerning the White Tower were only myths. Aes Sedai were manipulative, practically untrustworthy, but they were not Darkfriends.

Of course he had asked her how she knew all this. She never answered the question. How could she tell him that she had spent a few years locked in the White Tower as a Novice who could not channel?

Well, not channel was too strong a description. Like so many queens before her, she had the ability to touch saidar. The trickle of power, however, was too weak to do anything with. Those had been frustrating years. Each time she’d been close to doing more than just rattle a cup, to truly feeling saidar within her she’d been left wanting – panting for more. The day she left Tar Valon she had sworn to never try again. She had kept that promise.

She smirked. “I knew I raised you right. Already you are seeing the world from the point of view of others.” He glanced at her curiously. “Others might fear her or begrudge Egwene her abilities, but you are actually happy for her.”

He ducked his head in shame. Then glanced away. “Or you’re just glad that she won’t be courting you anymore.” He refused to answer. “Never mind, you are still genuinely happy for her. I can see it in your eyes. You care for Egwene. Still, loving a person does not mean you have to marry them.”

“I…” His grey eyes appeared vulnerable. “What if…”

“What if you never meet someone else?” She smiled knowingly. “A man like you will never be in want of admirers.” Especially not, she thought, when people discover that he is Rand Mantear, the son of the previous Daughter Heir.

“What?” He asked. “I know that look, mother. What are you thinking?”

“May I not have my secrets?”

He grumbled something about her having too many already and then he stalked away to go talk to his friends. Mat already seemed half asleep and Perrin sat with a large axe on his lap. The boy seemed frightened of it. That was good, she thought. Better to be afraid of a weapon than to love it.

Lan disappeared out into the night. He had passed with only the slightest of nods. “At least I’m getting that much out of him,” she sighed. That was more than most.

She had studied the Warder while sitting with Tam in the inn. For long whiles Lan had stared out the window of the room. His face had been soft and there had been tenderness in his gaze. Each time he turned back to the room, the look vanished and once more the hard, angular, face became unreadable.

Tigraine, being the woman she was, glanced passed his shoulder once. The square outside appeared abandoned except for a lone woman sitting on the stone wall. Her long braid hung across her shoulder, while one hand gripped the end – Nynaeve.

She never mentioned what she saw. This far from Emond’s Field Tigraine had seen something else in the Warder’s expression – loss. How could the man have begun to like the Wisdom so quickly? What had happened while Tigraine was on the farm?

Love, however, was one great mystery. Her husband, Taringail, had shown her nothing but charm and then ultimately deceit. Janduin, though loving her, had left her to fend for herself this side of the Spine. Then he disappeared, leaving her alone on the slopes of a freezing mountain to give birth to Rand. Tam alone had saved her, and since then he’d loved her like a daughter or sister he never had.

The soft swishing of a dress pulled her from the memories. “Are you well?” Moiraine asked after the younger group had fallen asleep. “You look troubled.”

Tigraine nodded slightly. “As well as can be expected for a mother who was never loved.” She sighed, letting her head drop. “And one who had not seen her son in twenty years.”

“Perhaps you will meet him within the next few weeks,” Moiraine tried to lighten her mood. “We will be passing through Caemlyn on our way to Tar Valon.”

“I know,” Tigraine moaned. “But, Moiraine, how can I look at him. He’ll hate me!”

Moiraine sat in silence for a few minutes. “Galad is a good man. I doubt he will see what you believe. I think he will see a mother who has returned home.”

She wanted to believe the words of the Aes Sedai. The words of a long lost friend. What Moiraine said she obviously believed to be the truth, but were they words of hope or conviction? Tigraine shook her head. “I don’t know, Moiraine. I just don’t know if I can handle seeing him.”

An arm wrapped around her shoulder. Tigraine leaned against the proffered shoulder and tears flowed. The situation brought back memories. How many times had she ended up crying on this woman’s shoulder? How many times had Moiraine’s brother broken Tigraine’s heart?

“I’m here,” Moiraine whispered. “I’ve always been here for you.”

//**//

The soft sound of someone crying woke Rand. He felt terrible, every inch of his body protested from the abuse of riding hard for so many hours. He did not move, instead he carefully opened his eyes. In the near darkness of the fading fire he was certain no one would notice him.

Fortunately, the cries were in front of him. It took a moment for his bleary eyes to focus. He almost sat upright. His mother sat beside the Aes Sedai. Her head on the woman’s shoulder and Elayne was crying.

He watched for a few more minutes. They said nothing and Rand could only think the hard ride had brought the tears. Still it was not like her to cry.

Eventually his mother stood whispered a thank you and went to sleep. Moiraine sat for a few minutes alone. She did not take her eyes off Elayne. The look did not bother Rand. There was sympathy in the Aes Sedai’s gaze. It reminded Rand of how Mat and Perrin watched their sisters. No matter how much they denied it, their siblings held a special place in them.

The Aes Sedai stood at last only to lay down on her own set of blankets. When Moiraine closed her eyes, so did Rand. He was too tired to think and with nothing to see, he fell asleep. The next day would be hard enough without having to experience it without any rest.

//**//

Tigraine watched the next day as Lan began to teach each of the boys how to use their weapons. Mat was already rather good with the bow, so Lan just touched on a few finer points of the art. Perrin proved difficult for the Warder, but after a few minutes he had the blacksmiths apprentice working through a few intricate movements with his axe. She could see them for what they were. Each form was designed to improve balance and control. Perrin would not be winning any prizes for elegance. Yet, with his powerful arms and shoulders the axe only had to make contact for it to bring down a trolloc, let alone a man. Tigraine hid a smile remembering her own Aiel training with spear and knife.

“Sheepherder!” The Warder said harshly to Rand. He had begun calling him that since the woke this morning. The vehemence was no doubt due to the Heron marked blade hanging from Rand’s hip. Tigraine felt sorry for Rand. She should have told him more about the markings. It had been a foolish oversight. One born in the hope no one would ever discover them. She frowned at her own foolishness.

Rand stood straight, his eyes distant. Tigraine shivered, she hated it when her son grew so cold. He was in the void, a mental state free of any external distractions. Tam had taught Rand the technique. Within the void, all he visualised was a flame. His reactions were sharper with movements swift and almost effortless.

“Let’s see if you deserve the blade you wear so casually on your hip.” Lan said rather harshly.

Rand made no reply. Instead he flowed into an opening stance. The Warder unsheathed his sword and struck in the same flowing movement. Rand’s sword met his half way with practised ease. There was a moment’s stunned stillness in the air. Each face hard as stone stared into the other.

“Impressive, Sheepherder.” Lan spoke eventually. “Let us see if you can continue.”

Then it began in earnest. Sword and man moved. Forward then backward in a never ceasing dance. Shining steel glinted in the sun. No quarter was given. It took nearly a full two minutes before Lan managed to get the point of his blade past Rand’s. He inhaled behind a sweat covered face. Greys eyes still cold and intense.

Tigraine clapped enthusiastically. It felt like being back at the palace, watching guards or the occasional Warder practising.

“How did your son become so proficient with a sword?” Moiraine asked. There was a distinct note of respect in her voice. “There is a roughness to his style, but he is talented. Almost like we was born with blade in hand.”

“Tam,” Tigraine replied. “During the wars, he never said when, he defeated a blademaster in single combat to claim the sword.”

“Still Tam is a farmer and had been one before becoming a soldier. He would not be good enough to teach a boy so much, despite having earned the right to wear one.”

Tigraine sat a little straighter, proud of Rand and Tam. “Rand has always been special, Moiraine,” she said the words confidently.

“Perhaps he is,” the Aes Sedai whispered.

Tigraine felt uneasy about Moiraine’s words. There had been a weight to them, almost solemn. As if she did not want to utter them.

“What do you need from the boys?” Tigraine asked.

“It is not what I want,” Moiraine answered before standing to go talk with Lan before he skewered Rand. It proved unnecessary. By the time she reached her Warder the anger in his eyes had turned into respect. She smiled, Rand had won the Warders confidence. Her son had just made a powerful ally.

“Until next time, Sheepherder.” Just like the smile he gave, his voice held no scorn. The name had now become a friendly joke between equals.

Tigraine relaxed. Having a man like Lan helping her son would be a very good thing indeed.

//**//

The next few days passed in relative calm. The Trollocs and darkfriends had long since lost their trail. Each evening was spent watching Lan teach the boys. Rand, with the most to learn from the Warder worked hard on various new forms. Unlike the ones taught by Tam, which were effective in battle, these forms were designed to hone a man’s balance, to increase his strength, and to allow him to fully come to terms with being one with a sword. Lan performed these alongside Rand.

Tigraine had always thought Rand perfectly balanced. She should have known her memory of Warders and Aiel had become rusty. With Lan as a new reference, the flaws in Rand’s technique became glaring weaknesses ready to be exploited. However, within only a few days those deficiencies were fast becoming strengths as the Warder drilled them into Rand. Lan seemed obsessed with perfecting Rand as a swordsman.

“Mrs Al’Thor,” a quiet voice called from beside Tigraine.

“Yes, Egwene,” Tigraine answered. The girl seemed hesitant and Tigraine had to remind herself that Egwene was a young teenage girl away from home for the first time.

“Sit,” Tigraine spoke in a motherly voice as while patting the grass next to her.

Egwene sat hastily, sighing in relief. Then she said nothing. Instead they watched the four men practise. The Gleeman, as he mostly did, sat beneath a tree practising the flute. At other times it was the harp. He distanced himself from the group. Tigraine could still not fathom why he had come, but now that he was here Moiraine would not let him go.

The poor girl was having a hard time starting the conversation. “Is this about Rand?” Tigraine asked, deciding to pull the girl out of her misery.

Egwene nodded as her fingers worked nervously as they picked grass. “I want to become an Aes Sedai,” she said eventually in a quiet voice. “And, Rand…”

The girl halted. Tigraine understood. “If becoming an Aes Sedai is what you want and if you don’t love Rand then…”

“I do love him,” she burst out head jerking up at Tigraine. Then her face clouded over in confusion. “I mean…” She stuttered, hands frozen above the ground.

Tigraine smiled warmly. She would have to be Egwene’s mother for the day.

“Loving a man does not mean you have to marry him, Egwene. Love is more than just marriage.” Egwene did not seem to be following. “I was married once,” Tigraine began. The girl immediately sat up. No one from Emond’s Field, a part from Tam and Rand knew anything about her past and even they knew little. “It was years ago. I had thought myself in love. He was young and handsome…” she sighed. “I was mistaken. The man used me. When I left he just married the next girl in line.”

“That’s awful, how could a person do such a thing?” Egwene said fiercely.

“Oh, where I come from that was probably the least of his sins,” Tigraine added.

“What does this have to do with me?”

A motherly smile graced Tigraine’s lips again. “What I mean to say is. Do not chain yourself to a man if you do not love him.” Her eyes flashed dangerously for a fraction of a second. The protective mother of her son took over. “You will end up doing to Rand what my husband did to me.”

Egwene stared wide eyed up at Tigraine. Her hands went up to the braid she had finally begun to wear on Winternight. Like Nynaeve, she grabbed hold of it, giving it a soft tug.

“If it is any consolation. Rand loves you, but in the same way you love him.” Egwene looked hurt, almost like a rejected puppy. “You two were meant for great things, but your paths are diverging.”

“What?” Egwene asked, with eyes growing misty.

“In a town like Emond’s Field, the two of you were the strongest, the most determined. Rand, destined to become mayor. You, the head of the woman’s circle or perhaps even Wisdom if Nynaeve had her way.” Egwene’s forehead wrinkled as she frowned. “This is a common concept outside small isolated villages. Power is attracted to power.”

“You mean we were attracted to each other because we saw a similar strength in each other?”

“Nothing so basic, but in some ways, yes.”

The girl said nothing more. The tears that had threatened to fall were held back as she watched the men finish their training. “I guess I should leave you in peace.” Egwene stood. “Thank you,” she whispered.

She only took a few steps before Tigraine heard her stop. Moiraine’s voice spoke softly to her. Then Egwene left.

“I assume as Daughter Heir you know what it means to be loved for one’s power and future status,” Moiraine said as she sat in Egwene’s stead.

“More than I care to know,” Tigraine replied bitterly.

Moiraine’s dark eyes studied her. “Does Taringail still hurt?” She asked.

Tigraine made no reply as Rand approached. His shirt clung to his body emphasising muscles more defined having just worked them. His red hair dripped beads of water from washing his face.

“You look unwell, mother,” he said, giving Moiraine a cold stare.

“I’m as well as can be expected I guess,” she answered. “I think you need to go talk to Egwene, son.” She added. Rand looked away in the direction of Egwene. “You need to sort things out with her before we reach civilisation again.”

“I…” Rand replied, unsure of himself. “What should I do, mother?”

“Tell her the truth,” she answered tiredly.

He said no more and left.

“I’m sorry for my family,” Moiraine said soothingly. “The Damodreds have never been known for being good people.”

“I knew that before I married, Taringail. Light, Moiraine, I knew everything about everyone!” She said with sudden anger. Not at Moiraine, but herself. “I thought him to be different, I thought him changed because he loved me for me, not the crown.”

“Still, I’m sorry”

Tigraine breathed in deeply to quell her growing anger. “Thank you,” she whispered.

//**//

“Egwene,” Rand called out.

She froze mid-step turning to face him. “Yes, Rand?”

His mouth worked, but he had trouble speaking. “We need to talk.” He eyed Mat and Perrin who were coming over. “Alone.”

He took hold of her elbow and gently led her away from the camp. Only when the no one was in sight did he stop. The walk only managed to make him more nervous.

“Egwene…” He paused. “You and me…”

“I know, Rand,” She said almost inaudible.

He recoiled slightly from her. “You agree?”

“I spoke with your mother, and she explained things to me.” Her voice had not grown any louder.

“Oh,” he said. Of all things, he did not imagine that this would hurt so much.

“We were two people forced together by the confines of a small village.” She began to sound more confident. “But, Rand,” she took hold of his hands. Her eyes stared up into his. He could see the same pain in them. “We were never meant for one another.”

He knew it to be the truth, his feelings were the same. Even so it felt like a knife piercing his heart. “I know.” He whispered. His hand let go of hers, allowing his fingers to wipe away the tears that rolled down her cheeks.

He bent down and placed a soft kiss on her lips. Their last kiss. It was hard letting go of a woman you had been thinking of marrying for years.

“I love you, Egwene, despite this.” He whispered, his lips barely a hair away from hers.

“I know, Rand, I love you to.”

Then she ran away.

He collapsed to the floor, allowing his own pains to overwhelm him. It was over, he could move on. Still, it did not lesson the burning in his chest.

//**//

Tigraine found it odd watching her son and Egwene. Having just broken up she would have expected them to stay far away from each other. That had been the case the previous evening. Today, however, the rode alongside each other talking and laughing together.

“I see the dam has broken between them,” Moiraine said from her horse.

“Yes, Moiraine. Being together, but not wanting to marry strained their relationship. Now that they are friends I think they can just enjoy each other’s company.”

“They are much alike,” the Aes Sedai said. “If that girl doesn’t end up as Amyrlin within the next fifty years I’d be surprised.”

“Perhaps… but what of Rand?”

Moiraine seemed to go slightly tense at the mention of Rand. Only an Aes Sedai or one trained in their ways would notice it. “I guess that depends,” she replied cryptically.

Did Moiraine mean it depended on whether Tigraine revealed herself as Tigraine Mantaer or for whatever reason they took the boys from the town? There was little point in asking, she would never get an answer from the Aes Sedai.

It took only a few more hours to reach their destination, Baerlon. Tigraine had not been to the town since she passed through with Tam. During that time she had been tired and her attentions were more on baby Rand than on her surroundings. Still she noticed some differences. For one it was much larger. It had also gained a wall and wooden watch towers.

It was a bustling city to the wondering eyes of the younger people in the group. The others, like Tigraine, found the town to be rather mundane and small.

“Would you look at the size of that wall!” Mat exclaimed, pointing at the palisades. She wanted to tell him that they were a quarter of the size of Caemlyn’s and wood not stone.

“I didn’t know people could make such large walls, nor such tall buildings.” Perrin said next.

Even Egwene stared wide eyed. “Are those inns or houses? How can a man live in such a big place?”

“Wait till she sees your old home,” Moiraine said in a low voice.

Tigriane burst out laughing. Everyone turned to face her. “This is nothing, child,” she managed to say in between breaths.

Egwene glared at her but said nothing. Rand gave his mother a curious glance, then turned to start his way towards to the town. His friends followed, including Egwene. She still looked irritated at Tigraine’s outburst.

Lan passed her just behind Moiraine. “What about your home?” She questioned as he came alongside. For the first time she actually saw him grin.

“A mere humble shack compared to yours, my lady,” he said while giving a slight bow of his head.

She laughed loudly again. “Lan,” she said loudly. “That was… unexpected!”

The entire column turned to face them. Despite his usual stern exterior, he was actually laughing. Moiraine, no doubt, feeling his mirth through the bond smiled joyfully.

“What was that all about, mother?” Rand asked once they finally got going again.

She gave him a knowing smile. “Oh, just some humour between us old folk.”

“Teasing us for thinking the town grand?” He questioned.

“Partly,” she said shaking her head. “But we were actually teasing ourselves more than you.”

Rand grumbled under his breath like the young man he was. Her broad grin eventually had him moving away to continue his grumbling with his friends. Ahead they rode in a tight group, their whispers barely audible above the noise of the horses.

“I had thought you had no humour,” Tigraine said as she rode alongside Lan and Moiraine.

“Oh, I have humour enough, Tigraine. There is, however, not much to be joyful about these days.” His eyes stared ahead at the three boys.

For the hundredth time over the course of the past few days she asked herself about the boys. What made them so important for the shadow that the Dark One would send Trollocs all the way to the Two Rivers?

Like the times before she did not ask. Answers would have been given by now had Moiraine been willing to give them. What had her so afraid? Tigraine shook her head, the laughter of earlier forgotten. With just those few questions she could understand Lan’s lack of humour. The world was at war and he fought it every second of every day. From what she knew, he had been doing that since the day his parents died, he had been but a baby.

They entered the town before the gates closed for the night. Apparently these folk were taking no chances with the night and what it might bring.

“Lady Alys,” The gatekeeper called Moiraine. Even Lan had another name. Apparently this town disliked Aes Sedai almost as much as they hated darkfriends. They passed through with little hassle after a small bribe to the gatekeeper.

Moriaine led the way to an inn called the Stag and Lion. Inside the inn keeper showed them to their rooms. Barely minutes passed before Tigraine made her way to the bath room. She desperately needed a bath. The men would need to wait for the women to finish first.

Being the young impetuous girl she was. Egwene already lay neck deep in the water by the time Tigraine entered.

“I hope the water is warm,” Tigraine said in a firm voice to one of the serving girls as she eyed the water. “It does look a bit on the cool side.”

The girl jumped slightly. “I’ll have it warmed, my Lady,” she said hastily, before exiting the room.

Tigraine removed her travel dirtied clothes before sinking slowly into the warm water. A sigh escaped her lips, and every muscle relaxed as she slid deeper into the bath. “A little too cool. Just as I thought.”

“How do you do that, Mrs al’Thor?” Egwene asked from the other bath.

“Do what, Egwene?”

There was a moment’s hesitation before Egwene asked. “Walk in to a place and command people. The serving girl barely looked at you before she called you a lady.” She paused and Tigraine was about to respond, but Egwene continued. “You did the same in Emond’s Field. Being far away on the farm was the only thing keeping you from leading the Woman’s Circle.”

“Is that so?” Tigriane asked, despite knowing as much.

“Yes, mother always said that the only reason you weren’t was because you lived so far out of town.”

“Probably,” Tigraine agreed. She said no more, instead trying to relax in her warm bath and hoping Egwene forgot her first question. It was not to be.

“So?” Egwene urged. She rose slightly and leaned over the edge of the bath to study Tigraine.

“It is easy really,” She sighed. “It is all about presence. You have to project an image of yourself that might not be true.” Egwene still studied her with keen eyes. “It is more than a loud voice or straight back. You have to make it seem as if you are used to better…” she trailed off. “Oh, perhaps one day I can teach you. It is easier to show than to tell in any case.”

Egwene’s shoulders sagged but she accepted the answer.

“I’m sure the White Tower will teach you how,” Tigraine added for Egwene’s benefit.

A few minutes later Moiraine entered. A young girl with short hair followed closely on her heals. Tigraine blinked, if the girl’s hair had not been so short and if her clothing more feminine, Tigraine would have better guessed her age on first inspection. The woman was far too old to be a girl, and Tigraine estimated her age in the mid to late twenties.

“Elayne, Egwene, this is Min,” Moiraine said while undoing her own dress. She eyed the bath suspiciously.

The door opened again and the serving girl returned with a pitcher of near boiling water.

“This bath’s too cold,” Moiraine said sternly. The girl jumped.

“Of course, my Lady.” She then hastily poured Tigraine’s water, nearly scolding her. Then she hurried off again.

“I hope she does a better job filling my bath,” Moiraine said tiredly as she slid beneath the water.

Min took a chair from the corner and sat on it. She eyed Tigraine curiously, her head cocked slightly to the side.

“Tell me, Min,” Moiraine began. “What’s happening in town?”

“Nothing much,” Min shrugged. “There are some Whitecloaks walking about, but the mayor ensures that only a few enter the town itself at a time.”

The room fell silent. Tigraine found it odd for Children to be this far from their homeland in a country that did not support them

“That is odd,” Moiraine said in a low voice. “Anything else?”

“Not really, except that people are frightened of the night.”

Egwene huffed in annoyance. Just like Nynaeve, she grumbled about peoples foolish fancies even though she had just seen Trollocs herself. Tigraine wondered if perhaps Egwene was just too frightened herself and did not want to be reminded. Min made to continue. The talk proved too much for Egewne so she stood to dry herself. Before more could be said, she left.

“Thank the Light,” Moiraine said to the roof after Egwene closed the door. “Min, what have you seen in our group?”

By sudden change in Moiraine’s voice and the way Min shot her a glance, Tigraine knew they had come to the true reason for the girl being here. “But, Moiraine?”

“Elayne is to be trusted, fully.” She said firmly. Then turning to Tigraine the Aes Sedai said. “Min can read the pattern. She sees auras around people that tell her what will happen to those people in the future.”

Tigraine nodded and Moiriaine waved for Min to speak.

The girl seemed unsettled, but she began to talk. “A shadow over all of you and sparks flying that are trying to fill the darkness.” The girl went quiet for a second. “You are all part of something dangerous.” This was Tigraine’s first clue as to what Moiraine wanted. For some reason the boys were key to fighting the shadow. But how?

“Lan still has the usual seven towers and a baby in a cradle holding a sword and you are a mess, more so than any Aes Sedai.” Moiraine almost took it as a complement.

“With the Gleeman, I see a man juggling fire, that’s not him. I also see the White Tower.”

“I see a flame over Egwene, but I am not sure what it means.”

“Around Perrin I see a wolf, a broken crown and trees flowering around him.” She frowned, obviously finding the images as odd as Tigraine.

Moiraine waved for her to go on. “With Mat, I see a red eagle, an eye on a balance scale, a dagger with a ruby, a horn and a laughing face… Those are really odd.”

“They always are, Min. Please continue child.”

“Rand…” she sighed, looking almost like a lovesick puppy. “A sword that is not a sword, a golden crown of Laurel leaves.” Tigraine sat up at the mention of a crown. “A begger’s staff, him pouring water on sand, a bloody hand and white-hot iron.” Her frown deepened. “Three woman standing over a funeral bier with him on it. A golden lily. Black rock wet with his blood. Lighting around him, some of it trying to strike him,” she said finally in exasperation.

Only when the last word died in the air did Tigraine release a breath she did not realise she held. “So much, and so much… pain.” She said in a soft voice.

“What do you see over her?” Moiraine said pointing at Tigraine.

She narrowed her eyes. “I see a lion prowling over the land, she beside it.”

“Is that all?”

The girl shook her head. “There is more, but the auras are too faint for me to make out.”

“You did well, Min,” Moiraine said. “You may go now, but I expect to see you at dinner.”

“Yes, Moiraine Sedai,” she said with a slight bow before leaving. Min gave Tigraine one last look before leaving.

“That was rather interesting,” Tigraine said deciding to rather talk about what she’d heard.

The sound of water moving and the sudden disappearance of Moiraine in the tub was the only reply. Nearly a full minute later the Aes Sedai’s head returned. Her wet hair clinging to her face.

“I knew all three were significant, but I had thought only one of them important. Now it appears all three boys need to be carefully watched.”

“Yet one is really of more importance,” Tigraine said voicing Moiraine’s thoughts. “Rand, he is central to all of this. Min’s viewings of him are more telling.”

Moiraine turned her dark eyes to Tigraine. “Are they? I find myself unable to see clearly these days. Too many worries are clouding my judgement.”

“What is this really about?”

“I wish I could tell you,” she answered. “I fear that we must just look over the boys and things should be alright. For the moment that is.”

“And why them?”

The Aes Sedai took a moment to consider her reply. “All three of them are ta’veren, Tigraine. The patterns weaves around them, together they are the most powerful force to have ever existed.”

Tirgraine breathed in softly. “No wonder the Dark One wants them so badly.” Moiraine nodded with closed eyes. “But there is more isn’t there?” Tigraine asked.

“Much,” she agreed and then fell silent.

The last few minutes in the water was spent relaxing. With so many worries it was best not to think about them now. They would sort themselves out in due time.

With the water growing colder and her fingers already shrivelled, Tigraine left the room to lie down in her room.

//**//

After Rand had bathed he found himself standing alone in their dark room. Night had fallen. Outside he could see Mat and Perrin sitting having a drink. Perrin seemed somewhat out of sorts, but Mat had managed to get him downstairs.

“Why are you standing here all alone?” A feminine voice asked form behind.

He turned quickly, surprised. Leaning against the door frame stood the young woman he’d seen earlier talking to Moiraine. “You are Alys’ friend?”

“Oh, I’ve known Moiraine for years,” she replied with a gentle voice stepping into the room as if being tugged towards him. The door closed behind her.

Rand felt slightly uncomfortable being in a room alone with a woman. Fortunately the dark room hid his discomfort .

“I’m Rand,” he said trying to fill the silence.

“Min,” she replied coming to stand next to him. She too studied his friends outside. Her gaze moved to him before long. Rand felt unsure of what to do. Min made him feel uncomfortable. Yet, it was a good feeling in some way.

“Are you from these parts? Or just passing through?” Rand asked, trying to break the silence.

“No, I’m not from Baerlon, but neither am I passing through.”

Faint light from outside bathed her skin. “You are interesting,” he whispered, as he fought the temptation to brush her cheek.

“Am I?” she questioned. “I guess one day you will find out more about me.” She took a step away and glanced out the window.

“Why do you say so?” he replied beginning to like the girl.

She shrugged. “I just know that we will be good friends one day.”

He made to move closer, but she moved away and with a muttered cry she said. “Light burn those fools!” Min seemed apologetic. “I’m sorry, Rand. I would’ve liked to talk with you more.” She bit her lip and said. “Hold on to the Golden Lily.”

Rand was about to call after her, but he paused. Outside he noticed Mat and Perrin walking back towards the inn. All that Rand could do was exhale in frustration. A few moments later the pair entered the room.

“Why so glum?” Mat asked jumping onto his bed.

He did not feel like answering, but if he said nothing the Mat would continue to pester him. “Tired, I suppose.”

“I’m exhausted,” Mat sighed loudly, sounding the exact opposite. “But this place, it’s huge! Think of all the woman walking around here. Think I could get one that enjoys a good cuddle?”

“I doubt it,” Perrin said in his usually slow tone. “You couldn’t even get a cuddle in Emond’s Field.”

Mat stared at him defiantly. “That was different, Perrin. Girls there judged me. Here, Perrin, we are free to flirt and tease to our hearts content.”

“I think they hit just as hard, Mat.” Perrin laughed.

Mat crossed his arms angrily. “I doubt I will need to worry about such things.”

Rand sighed irritably and fell back onto his bed. He stared up at the ceiling while his friends continued to argue. Min’s large dark eyes haunted almost as much as her last words. They appeared so desperate for him to like her and yet it was almost as if she knew there could never be anything. It was almost like a part of her knew she liked Rand, but the other half was fighting it.

He closed his own eyes, wishing sleep would come. It did not. Between Egwene and Min his mind was occupied. Women were such a mystery.

“I wander why Rand over there doesn’t want to talk,” Mat said. Immediately Rand’s bed moved as a body fell on it.

He opened his eyes to find Mat looming over him. “Perrin, I think young Rand here has found himself someone.”

“Leave him alone, Mat,” Perrin moaned. “He’s just exhausted.”

“Too tired to talk about woman after he’s just broken all ties with Egwene. No, he’s found himself someone.”

“I have not,” Rand grumbled, trying to push Mat off the bed. All Rand had found lately was a confusing mass of feelings.

“Proof!” Mat laughed while pointing at Rand who sighed. Perrin did not deny him this time. “Rand,” Mat said directly into Rand’s face. “If you’d not met someone then you would’ve laughed with me!”

Rand again tried to force him away. “Go to bed, Mat, or go get drunk since you have nothing better to do.”

Mat laughed harder. “Tell me. Is she one of those nice plump serving girls? Or perhaps the cooks assistant, she is one fine thing.”

Rand remained quiet. To further ignore Mat, he turned on his side to face the wall. Why had min come to see him?

Still chuckling, Mat eventually left him in peace. Rand glanced at the window, remembering Min bathed by moonlight. Why had he called her interesting? She was more than that, but why did he have to say it? He hardly knew her at all. Worst of all were her last words about a Golden Lily. What could that have meant?

He tried to sleep. It was not to be as a familiar voice shouted from downstairs.

“The Wisdom!” All three of them said together.

Mat was the only one who could find his tongue thereafter. “Blood and ashes! How did she find us here?”

Rand grabbed his cloak and ran out the door towards the angry voice of Nyneave.

//**//

Outside Rand’s room, Min stood silent in a dark corner. Her mind knotted with confusion. He had liked her, or at least she thought he did. Slowly she slid down the wall until she sat on the ground.

A minute later, Mat and Perrin came bounding up the stairs and into the room. Mat sounded energetic. She sniffed at the fool boy’s arrogance.

Their hushed voices were inaudible until Mat shouted loudly. “If you had not met someone then you would’ve laughed with me!”

The words caused her to sit straighter. She’d never had a viewing about herself before. Why did she have to have one now when it only told her that a man would never love her.

She shook her head. She liked him as she knew she would. He was important and she had a part to play in his future. A sighed escaped her lips, but as a friend. Well she would meet him again someday.

Standing she made her way downstairs. She’d viewed auras about people loving each other, but never before had she viewed a friendship. If what she had viewed about them all was to come to pass then her friendship with him would be important. Perhaps on one his adventures she’d meet another man.

“Tomorrow,” she whispered. “I’ll find out what Moiraine is really here about.”

//**//

“I want you take these boys back to Emond’s Field immediately!” Nyneave said gripping her braid in anger. She turned her withering gaze on Tigraine. “And let me not start on you!” The Wisdom pointed an angry finger at her. “Of all people, Elayne. How could you follow this woman?”

“I trust the Aes Sedai,” Tigraine replied calmly.

Nynaeve sputtered. “Then she obviously has you cursed.”

“Cursed?” Moiraine said. It was the first word she had gotten out since the Wisdom’s arrival.

Nynaeve glared at her. “I want to know what you are doing with those boys and Egwene?” The Wisdom ground her teeth. “That fool of girl will get herself killed.”

“It is not what I want from the boys,” the Aes Sedai spoke. “It is what the Dark One and his followers want with them.”

“Nynaeve,” Tigraine said in a low voice hoping to calm the situation. “Listen to her. She tells the truth.”

The young Wisdom, still holding onto her braid seemed unsure of what to do. She was a strong woman, but between a Daughter Heir and an Aes Sedai she stood little chance of dominating a conversation.

Nynaeve sat on an open seat. “Where are you taking them?”

“To the White Tower where other Sisters and myself will be able to look over them.” Moiraine answered. Tigraine bit back a retort. It was more a case of studying and controlling them to ensure the boys meant no harm to the world.

Still she had to trust her old friend. Moiraine would mean no harm to the three boys if it could be helped. “Even if she were to let the boys go back, Egwene would need to continue,” Tigraine spoke.

“Why?” Nynaeve asked, her voice going slightly angry again.

“Egwene can channel the One Power,” Moiraine replied. “If she does not go, then she could be killed by the Power before she can learn to control it.”

There was something in the way Moiraine spoke that made Tigraine sure that crucial information was not being disclosed. She did not ask. If the Aes Sedai had reasons for withholding things then it was not Tigraine’s place to object.

The door to the room burst open. Rand, Mat and Perrin entered. “Out with you!” Nynaeve shouted. The added glared from Moiraine and Tigraine herself had them out the room faster than they entered.

“Well at least you taught them to listen,” Nynaeve grumbled in respect. Tigraine chuckled.

The room fell silent. The Wisdom still stared at the closed door. “Someone with sense will need to ensure they don’t hurt themselves,” Nyneave said.

The door opened again. This time, however, it was the young woman called Min. She studied the Wisdom, then blinked in surprise. Min knelt beside Moiraine and whispered into her ear.

Moiraine turned to Tigraine. “I suppose another member of the group won’t do any harm.”

With that, the Aes Sedai left the room. Min followed closely behind.

“Why?” Nynaeve asked softly.

“I do not know, Nynaeve.” Tigraine answered. “Light, sometimes I wish I had known.” The Wisdom did not need to know that Tigraine spoke about what happened more than twenty years ago. Years before even Rand was born.

Lan stepped through the open door. He gave the Wisdom a quick look. Tigraine fought back a grin. How could such a hard face look so soft? He turned to leave. Never once had he looked at her. The man had eyes only for Nynaeve.

“Fool of a man,” Nynaeve grumbled standing. “Following that Aes Sedai round like a dog on a leash.” Tigraine was surprised at the hurt and longing in the Wisdom’s voice.

It was the first time Tigraine had entertained the thought that the young woman returned the Warder’s affections.

//**//

Rand woke with a start in what had to be the early hours of the morning. “Get up, Sheepherder!” Lan ordered.

Rand stood groggily. “Waz hapinen,” Rand slurred.

“We need to leave now.” The Warder answered.

Rubbing his knuckles against his eyes, he cleared his vision. Mat and Perrin were nearly dressed and ready to go. He knew then that this was serious sd Mat was not complaining. Hurriedly he dressed and a few minutes later they were all gathered together in the inn’s stable. Even the Wisdom stood dressed and determined to leave with them.

There was little talk between everyone and before long they snuck out of the town and were well on their way towards a place called Whitebridge.

A/N So what do you think? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I think I got most of the WoT facts right, please pm me if you think something might be wrong.

Thank you for reading.

Rand Sedai
07-29-2011, 01:18 AM
Hello. Though I'm a new poster, I have often browsed Theoryland's forums and am familiar with its 'Your Fiction' section. I must say that your fan fiction is very entertaining, particularly your integration of Tigraine into the plot. All I can say is that I eagerly await your next chapter. Happy writing!:)