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View Full Version : A Different Wheel - Ch.4


st122
08-02-2011, 10:15 AM
A/N This is the chapter where we will begin seeing the story start to diverge, at first only a little and by the end each character will be in a place they’ve never been in the WoT. So I hope you enjoy. Oh, and the story will begin to slow down as the backstory comes to an end and the world moves into AU.

Rand stood wide eyed in the middle of a wide street in Caemlyn. To the side and a few paces away, Mat ogled the crowd around them. Neither Rand nor Mat had ever seen so many people in one place before and nearly all of them were here to catch a glimpse of a single man.

Rand and Mat had slept the night in an inn Thom mentioned in Whitebridge, ‘The Queen’s Blessing’. There they’d met an Ogier called Loial. At first Rand had been frightened, thinking the being a Trolloc. Loial turned out to be a friendly and truly remarkable being. Ogier were far from Rand’s thoughts at the moment, as he together with Mat wanted to get a good look at Logain, the False Dragon.

Ever since leaving Whitebridge, word of Logain coming to Caemlyn had been on the tips of everyone’s tongues. A day’s journey outside Caemlyn the streets had become crowded with peasants coming to see to the False Dragon. Once inside the crowded city he’d learned that people had been flooding into the city for days in order to get even the smallest glance at the man who could channel.

The appearance of Logain could still be hours away. The more pressing issue for Rand was all the people walking around with either red or white pieces of cloth. Rand had still not asked anyone about their significance, but they held some important meaning.

“You should probably hide your sword,” Mat grumbled as another group passed them warily. Rand winced as he remembered the Heron’s on his sword. The blade was another worry he had to think about. Lan, had told him of the marks significance and apparently everyone here did as well.

“Couldn’t Tam have given me something less recognisable?” Rand moaned as his studied the mass of bodies around them. At first he tried to throw his short cloak over the blade. This only made him appear more suspicious. Being tall with red hair did not help the situation. It was as if he had been born to be different.

“Not working, Rand,” Mat laughed. “You should probably get one of those red or white pieces of cloth people are wearing.”

Rand narrowed his eyes slightly, trying to decide if it would work, but Mat’s suggestion made sense. Some people used their cloth to cover swords or other items. Grinding his teeth in frustration, Rand stomped towards to the first store he saw and bought a red piece of cloth. It had been the cheaper of the two. The owner spat some rude comments at Rand about bloody loyalties, but stopped once he noticed the sword around which Rand was wrapping the cloth. The store owner’s mouth opened and closed a few times and then he fell completely silent. Rand grinned, at least the sword could be useful at times.

With the Herons hidden, Rand and Mat filtered back into the crowded streets. The mass of bodies grew steadily more dense with the imminent arrival and the closer they moved towards the main street. Eventually the crowd grew so dense the pair found themselves being pushed backwards.

“At least people aren’t staring as much anymore,” Mat remarked. “That bloody sword of yours is more trouble than it’s worth you know?”

Rand shook his head. Mat knew only what it meant as a blade, not that it was a part of Tam. A piece of the man who had raised him like son. “It’s worth more than you think, Mat.” Rand replied curtly.

“Is that so?” Mat said slowly. “Sell it. I could use the coin for a game of dice.” He rubbed his hands together eagerly. “Last night…”

“Go blow a horn or something!” Rand said angrily, pushing Mat away from where his hands were reaching for the blade.

“I would if I had one that could get an annoying friend to sell a sword.” Mat laughed. He jumped at the cold stare Rand gave him. “Blood and ashes, Rand!” Mat shouted. “I’m only fooling. You don’t have to sell the bloody sword.”

“I’d appreciate it if you began to joke about something else.”

“Or about someone else,” Mat grumbled.

Rand turned to say something more. Perhaps Min had been on his mind too much lately. Before he could open his mouth to retort a man lunged out of the crowd with a loud screech of a shout. Light glinted dangerously off the edge of a blade. Rand reacted instinctively. Rocking backwards, like Tam had shown, he avoided the sharp point. His hand came up in a short sharp jab to the assailants throat. A sickening crunch reached his ears and the form crumpled face down onto the ground. Rand could only stare. The man looked vaguely familiar.

“Blood and Ashes!” Mat shouted loudly this time while trying to scramble out of the way. The words only left his mouth after the man lay still.

The crowd parted around them. “He just attacked the poor beggar!” One man cried out pointing at Rand.

“He tried to kill me,” Rand replied in a stern voice. The people backed away fearfully and an open space formed around Mat and Rand.

“Murderer!” Someone in the group called out. Rand hated how people reacted when they were in a group.

“He is not dead,” Rand shouted impatiently. The people did not relent. Some even pointed at his red cloth as if it explained everything.

“Rand,” Mat whispered. “As much as I disagree with these charming people, I do think it’s time for us to run.”

Rand gave the growing mob a quick glance, then he turned and fled. Despite Rand’s haste, Mat still managed to be a few strides ahead. From behind the sound of incensed cries began to fade and eventually he stopped against a stone wall to catch his breath. Glancing upwards and then to the side he decided the wall would provide a nice view of the road on which Logain would be travelling.

“We’ll get a nice view from a top there,” Rand said pointing at the wall. Mat was, however, already halfway up a tree on the far side of the small road.

“I think this tree is more than good enough for me,” Mat proclaimed proudly.

Knowing the tree to be the better option, Rand obstinately climbed the wall. It proved more difficult to climb than he expected. The hard stone made small cuts into his skin and his knees bumped against the hard surface numerous times, but he made it to the top nevertheless.

Sitting on the wall he decided the climb had been worth the effort. The view from the top was spectacular. The main road, filled with people, was clearly visible. Mat sat a short distance below him in the tree.

“What can you see from up there?” Mat called.

“The world,” Rand laughed and to him it was almost as good as seeing the whole world. The wall was high and had a commanding view of half the city.

Rand was about to turn to see what lay on the far side of the wall when the crowd began to grow restless. The False Dragon had arrived. He stood tall and proud looking nothing like the beaten man Rand had expected. The people, sensing this, backed away slightly whenever he neared them. Then again the crowd might have parted more for the large group of Aes Sedai who surrounded Logain. When he was at his closest. Logain glanced up to where Rand and Mat were sitting. Then his head rolled back and he laughed. It was so loud and unnerving even the Aes Sedai began to move nervously.

The sudden reaction from Logain surprised Rand and his hand slipped from the root which had held him firmly to the wall. The last thing he remembered was a feeling of weightlessness as he fell.

When his consciousness returned he found himself lying on his back. His gaze fell first upon a girl a few years his junior. With a groan he swivelled his head only to notice two men. One of them seemed to be about his age the other was at least a few years older.

“We should call the guards,” the older man said. Despite not wanting anything to do with guards, Rand could not fault the logic. The man who had spoken stood commandingly. He had black hair and eyes as dark as Moiraine’s. He looked nothing like the other two. His body was poised to strike and his balance was set to move in any direction in a moment’s notice. The sword on his hip was most definitely not for show.

“Please.” Rand tried to sit up. “I mean no harm. I was sitting on the wall watching Logain’s passing when I slipped.” He spoke honestly, and hoped the truth would be conveyed to them.

The older man did not appear convinced. Still he did not act in haste. It was the girl who spoke up first. Rand blinked a few times, she was breathtakingly beautiful. Wavy golden hair hung past her shoulders, and blue eyes, brighter than he could possibly have imagined stared deeply into his own. His mother was the only person with such eyes. Rand felt his mouth begin to move, but no sound escaped them. The only thought was of being near her. Her lips looked soft and inviting and her cheeks held a tinge of rouge. Was it powders or more natural? Rand could not decide.

With an effort he closed his eyes and imagined Min. He liked Min, perhaps even loved Min, not this overly dressed noblewoman. Then why did she make him feel the same?

“Galad,” she began. Rand opened his eyes and felt his heart stop again at the sight of her. It was not her beauty, it had already gripped his mind. It was the sudden feeling of knowing her. “He is wearing red.” Rand could do nothing but nod dumbly at her words. Looking away and fighting the desire in his chest, he saw only visions of a golden haired woman, older than this girl, with soft skin and a loving smile.

“He could be an assassin.” the younger man countered. The two men were oblivious to Rand’s obvious desire to kiss the girl. It was light blinding madness! Why would he want to entangle himself with a nobleman’s daughter?

There was only one thing for Rand to do, he slipped into the void. Only within its safety could he think clearly. The void took with it the strange visions of a long forgotten woman. It all started during their escape from the Trollocs. They had boarded a ship with Thom and thankfully it was going down river. It was a few days sailing to Whitebridge. During a moment of insanity he had climbed the tall mast. He had felt as if he could accomplish anything, it was liberating and exhilarating. It had taken Thom to get him back down in one piece. Nearly every day since then he’d been having visions of a golden haired woman. The colour of her hair was the exact shade of this young girl’s.

His eyes closed again and he tried hard to figure out who this woman was and why he kept remembering her. Surely he would have remembered meeting someone so fine with such love in her gaze. His heart beat in his chest and his throat constricted slightly at a terrible feeling of loss.

“I love you.” He could remember the words spoken by the woman. Her voice was soft and caressing.

“Are you alright?” Another soft voice asked from somewhere outside the void. Her voice was not the same as the one speaking in his head.

With an effort he glanced up, while pushing away imagines of the other, it was the young girl who was speaking. She sounded so alike, but different. With an effort he straightened himself. “Please, My Lady,” Rand said hoarsely. “Could you be so kind as to tell me where I am?”

The three stared at him incredulously. The girl was trying hard not to laugh. The man about his age looked confused, almost as if he were trying to find the joke in Rand’s words. The eldest on the other hand had moved his hand closer to the sword on his hip.

Rand lifted his hands in the air. “My Lord, I am new to Caemlyn and I am lost.”

The girl gave him an adorable look and Rand was immediately flung back to a time when his own hands were running through the length of that very same wavy golden hair. He was whispering words of endearment and the woman giggled playfully.

When his senses returned to the present the three were watching him intently. “I think he must have hit his head hard.” She spoke. Rand wanted her words to be the truth, but he knew the images of the older woman had been with him for a few days. He wanted to believe himself going mad, except the images he saw were too detailed. The world he saw was too different to be the imaginations of a madman. There were things flying about, people wearing strange clothes. Then there was the part which disturbed him the most. The man whose eyes he saw through could channel the One Power. Even now he could still see the flows of saidin as they were woven by the man.

The girl’s voice broke through his memories. “We’ll take him to mother. She can decide what to do with him. What do you say, Galad?”

The oldest man nodded in reply. “You are right. We should let him appear before mother so he can be judged properly.”

Rand did not like the word judged, but this was not the time to argue. He had fallen into their property after all and nobles were not very lenient to trespassers or so his mother had said once. The two younger people seemed to be waiting for something. Galad eventually moved towards Rand, his eyes remained fixed on Rand. Were they watching for any signs of a threat?

It was a surreal moment. To Rand it felt like they were having a conversation. At first there was hardness in both their eyes. One born of distrust. This slowly dissolved into curiosity as a kinship began to form. Then Galad’s stare turned into pity and Rand knew he was doing only what needed to be done. In the few seconds it took for the man to help Rand up onto his feet they had formed a sort of friendship.

The other man held out his hand for Rand’s sword. Rand made no effort to give up the blade. “This is my father’s sword. I will give it to no man.”

Galad strode between them. “This man is still innocent until he has had a chance to defend himself before your mother.”

To Rand’s surprise the girl also came to his defence. “He is my guest, Gawyn. I’ve treated his wounds and now you want to take away his sword before he has been proven an enemy.”

“He could be dangerous,” Gawyn spoke as he placed a hand on his sword.

She shook her head. “He’s done nothing to indicate himself a threat.” She strode between the three men with all the grace of a queen. “Now can we just get on with this so that he can go home.”

Rand felt an ever growing fondness for this young girl who would risk not only her life, but her brother’s anger for him. Rand only hoped her mother held such a kind heart and that she was not too powerful a noblewoman in Caemlyn.

They walked quickly down a pathway. The garden and high walls began to unnerve Rand. He knew himself to be within the manor of a very reach nobleman. The journey proved too short for him to figure out the puzzle.

Eventually the group arrived before a pair of large doors. “Show proper respect for your Queen and you might get out of this without being harmed or punished.” Surprisingly it was Galad who spoke. There was no harshness in his words, he was stating simple a fact.

Rand nearly tripped, but no one would have noticed anything. The movement had been to sharp. “The Queen!” He whispered out to himself.

Galad looked pityingly at Rand. “Just be honest and I’m sure you will be judged fairly.”

“Open the door,” the girl commanded. Then it struck Rand. She was Elayne Trakand, the Daughter Heir of Andor. The guards at the door hesitated when they noticed Rand, but they obeyed the commands of Elayne.

Rand took a deep breath and walked into the throne room with his head held high. He would not be intimidated by a simple title. At the far end of the room stood an older woman, Queen Morgase. She had reddish golden locks of hair that framed a face with Elayne’s beauty, but ripened with age. Something about her presence reminded Rand of his mother. The way she stood and studied the people around her. Morgase commanded without needing to say a word. Rand’s mother did the same.

“What is the meaning of this?” Morgase demanded in a clear commanding voice. Despite her anger at the disruption, there was still a warmth to her voice. Her daughter’s had the same note to it at times. Rand shook his head, he liked Min, a normal girl. Getting involved in the plots of nobles was not for him. He shuddered slightly, Moiraine already had him wrapped up in her plots.

The situation dawned on Rand and immediately he dropped into a very formal bow. One his mother had taught him years ago. “By your leave, you Majesty.” Rand spoke only after rising again. “I am but a poor farmer new to Caemlyn and I made the grievous mistake of climbing the wrong wall to view the False Dragon. The Daughter Heir was kind enough to tend to my wounds, but they requested I be judged by the Queen.”

The throne room fell silent. “You speak well for a farmer. I would think you more a learned man.” Morgase replied. Rand mentally kicked himself. Acting formal and then calling himself a farmer was a sure way to cause problems.

“I was raised in the Two Rivers, a distant part of Andor. My mother, however, came from these parts and taught me much.”

Morgase took a step towards him. Her eyes lingered on his sword and the cloth around it for a moment. “Why hide your scabbard?” Rand cheeks threatened to go red. “Most people place them around their waist or arm.” She gave a dangerous glare and commanded. “Remove it.”

He was trapped. Still he removed the red cloth as instructed. Cries rang out around the room and the guards immediately pointed their spears and swords at Rand. He did not blink, nor did he reach for his own sword. Even the slightest hint of aggression would end his life.

“My father fought in many wars. He earned the right to this blade in single combat. He trained me as a youth and he gave me the sword a few days before I left home.”

“That is a feeble tale,” Morgase said harshly.

Galad stepped forward as did a large man who stood by the throne. “The sword belongs to him,” the man said. “He might be too young to claim rights to the title, but the sword is his.”

Morgase turned angrily towards the man. “Gareth Bryne is not lying.” Galad said firmly. “I believe this sword belongs to him.” The glance he gave Rand clearly stated that he would be wanting answers later.

The Queen glanced between the two men who had partly defended Rand. “Elaida Sedai, what do you think?”

Rand grimaced. He had not noticed the woman before, but seeing her now he could not fathom how he’d missed her. Aes Sedai, though not evil, were dangerous and unpredictable women. The older woman glided across the floor to stand before him. Her dark eyes glinted in the light shining through the open door behind Rand. He hoped she was like Moiraine.

“This I Foretell and swear under the Light that I can say no clearer. From this day Andor marches toward pain and division. The Shadow had yet to darken to its blackest, and I cannot see if the Light will come after. Where they had wept one tear, it will weep thousands. This I Foretell.”

She took a step closer to Rand and continued in a loud voice.

“This, too, I Foretell. Pain and division comes to the whole world, and this man stands at the heart of it.”

Elayne and Gawyn stepped away from Rand. Galad alone stood his ground.

Elaida turned from the one to the other. Rand could tell her keen eyes sensed something. She spun round to study Morgase. “I say behead him this instant and save the world this torment.”

Galad took a step towards Rand. “I cannot allow this,” he said loudly. “I might not agree with him going unpunished for trespassing, but he has done nothing to deserve death.” He studied the Aes Sedai. “Besides, you just foretold what he would do and still you think you can harm him.”

“Galad,” Elaida snapped. “I would not stand so tall nor speak such words if I were you.”

Before more could be said a guard came running into the Throne Room. “My Queen.” The man bowed deeply. “I bring urgent news.”

He stood and glanced about nervously. For a moment his eyes flicked towards Galad. “Speak Captain Tallanvor.” Queen Morgase ordered.

The captain was no fool. He immediately sensed the tension in the room, and noticed how it was centred on Rand and Galad.

“I would advise that the Lord Damodred be disarmed before I continue with my message.”

Rand and Galad both flinched at the words spoken by the captain. Queen Morgase gave Tallanvor a level gaze and then whispered her orders to Gareth Bryne.

“Seize the two of them,” The man ordered loudly. Both Rand and Galad shared a look and nodded to each other. There was no point in fighting. It would only mean death. In unison they lifted their hands slowly and let the guards remove their swords.

“Your suggestion better be backed by the news you bring young captain.” Morgase said in her queenly voice. “A slant such as this will not go unpunished if proved to be unfounded.”

The man nodded confidently and Rand got a sinking feeling the news would not be good for Galad.

“Our allies have turned against us, your majesty.” The man began.

The room fell silent and when the Queen spoke a slight tremor could be heard in her voice. “Why would the other Great Houses turn against me? There are no real threats to my position despite the unrest in the city.”

The man shifted uneasily, again his eyes drifted to Galad for the briefest of moments. Rand suddenly remembered why he hated court politics. He flushed, he’d never been in a court before. Still he could clearly remember sitting on a thrown like seat proclaiming judgements. These memories were not good.

“My sources tell me that last night Tigraine Mantear returned to her ancestral home in Caemlyn and has let it be known that she wants the crown.”

“What!” Galad exploded. He was grabbed roughly by two large guards. Galad knew enough not to fight, instead he glared at Tallanvor. “Do not tell lies! My mother died…” He trailed off and Rand knew why, no one ever knew what happened to Tigraine Mantear. According to Rand’s mother the Daughter Heir had just vanished one day.

“It must be true,” Morgase said coolly. “Otherwise the Great Houses would not have turned their allegiance.”

“I must go,” Galad said, but with single gesture the doors closed and the guards tightened around Galad.

Rand stared up in shock at Queen Morgase. “Let this man go! His mother has returned.”

“Silence!” Morgase’s voice echoed commandingly around the room. “Galad you know why you cannot leave.”

Galad nodded, but by this time he was standing tall and proud.

“Throw them in the dungeons. We have more important things to discuss than foolish peasants.”

The guards grabbed hold of Rand and together with Galad he was forced down into the dungeons. “I’m sorry you cannot see your mother,” Rand spoke as they were herded along.

Galad did not speak. His eyes remained fixed ahead. “I will see her yet, Rand. She owes me an explanation. And I will fight until I hear the reasons from her own mouth.”

Rand laughed. “For her part it better be a good one.”

To his surprise, Galad actually smiled. “Light protect her, it better be.”

//**//

As Galad was thrown into one of the dungeons he could feel his own eyes blaze with anger. His mother was back and he was locked in a cage. The piece inside of him which held him upright broke and he collapsed to his knees. The hard cold stone cut through the cloth and bit into his skin. Despite the rolling tempest of anger, he could not lift his gaze from the dark corner into which he stared.

He wanted to shout out, but the sound was caught somewhere between his mind and throat. Instead he balled his fists and slammed his one hand into the wall. The pain brought with it a sudden clarity.

“Light burn the rules. Morgase will suffer for this. After all the years how could she deny me this?”

“I think she needs you as a hostage,” Rand replied thoughtfully.

Galad jerked his head up and round in surprise. He had not expected them to place Rand in the same cell as him. Hiding the pain behind the void he used for sword training, Galad got to his feet.

“There is no other explanation for her actions.” Galad sighed as he rested his back against the wall. “I can honestly not find fault with what she’s done. Even if it angers me.”

“But knowing your mother is out there in the city must be difficult.”

For the first time Galad studied the young Rand al’Thor in the dim light of the dungeons as he sat calmly. He had the look of a strong man, someone who would not be broken easily. In those grey eyes Galad could clearly see the man whom Elaida Sedai foretold about. He knew he should have been frightened and cautious.

“It is,” Galad answered truthfully. Tired, he slid down the wall to sit on the floor. “I haven’t seen her since the day she left Caemlyn.”

Rand stared off into the distance. “My mother told me a short version of what happened. I’m truly sorry that you had to go through life without your mother.”

Galad made a slight gesture of thanks. “You get used to it I suppose.” Even as the words left his mouth he began to doubt them. It was what he had thought over the years, but now with her back in Caemlyn he felt a longing in his chest to see her. He had to wonder if he’d ever gotten over the loss of his parents.

“I never even knew my father,” Rand said bringing Galad back to the present. “My mother nearly died during child birth and we were saved by a man called Tam al’Thor.” Rand continued to speak and Galad wondered what was making Rand speak.

“Then you are not Rand al’Thor?” Galad asked in honest surprise.

Rand stared into Galad’s eyes and he felt that same companionship he did when they were out in the garden earlier. “I suppose I’m not, but it is what I’ve always been known as.” The tall red haired man shrugged his shoulders.

“Who are you really then?” Galad asked. “If you don’t mind me saying, but you look a lot like what I pictured an Aielman.”

Rand nodded. “I’ve heard that one before.” Again he shrugged. “My mother has never been very forthcoming with her past or who my father was.”

Galad gave a wry smile. “Perhaps she fell in love with an Aielman during the war. They are men just like the rest of us, perhaps not even so savage as we believe.”

Rand chuckled. “Maybe, who knows with my mother? The woman has more secrets than I care to think about and then there are probably a hundred more I haven’t even considered.”

“Sounds like your average Aes Sedai,” Galad replied. “Or Queen.”

“Does Queen Morgase keep things from her children?” Rand asked na´vely.

“Does she hide things?” Galad laughed. “I’ll let you know if I can remember the last time she said something out straight.”

They were interrupted by a feminine voice. “You two seem rather friendly.” Galad glanced up to see Elayne standing outside the bars keeping them locked in. To his surprise she had eyes only for the red haired man. Well he should have known by the way she kept tending Rand’s wounds earlier.

“We were trying to catch up on lost times,” Galad joked and Rand laughed as well. It felt strange, but being with Rand made it feel like Galad had found something he’d lost.

“I hope you’ve come with a key,” Rand asked jumping to his feet eagerly.

“No,” she said with a shake of her head, but her blue eyes never wavered from Rand. “Mother would kill me before I could reach the safety of the White Tower if I freed the pair of you.” She turned to Galad. “From what I’ve heard mother say, you alone will keep Tigraine at bay.”

Galad nodded, he would be the pawn which would secure Morgase’s thrown. He had to ask himself why his mother was doing this. Surely she would’ve known him to be in the palace. Why not send a messenger to call him before announcing herself? He shook his head. Politics had never been his strength. Galad Damodred was a soldier maybe even a Warder or general. He was not a politician.

“Light!” Rand groaned. “Is every woman I meet going to end up being an Aes Sedai?”

Elayne perked up at this comment and her eyes narrowed. Galad shivered, a glare like the one she was giving had never been a good sign. “Better have a good reply for that comment, Rand.” Galad spoke up in warning. Elayne’s gaze shifted to him and he held up a hand defensively. “I’m only helping a man in need, Elayne.”

Rand chuckled. “Before you ask, I do not meet a lot of girls and not all that many end up going to the White Tower. It’s actually only one.” Rand frowned thoughtfully. “Maybe two who will end up going to the White Tower.”

“Explain,” Elayne said tapping her foot impatiently.

“Like I told your mother, um the Queen, I come from a small town called Emond’s Field in the Two Rivers. Life was pretty normal until an Aes Sedai arrived. She then took one of the girls, a woman I was once betrothed to from the town to become an Aes Sedai. She should be a Novice in a few weeks time.”

Elayne smiled ruefully. “Then I will probably meet her, as I’m to be a novice in a few weeks.” Then her eyes narrowed to thin jealous slits. “Why aren’t you betrothed anymore?”

Rand coughed. “We broke it off on our journey to Tar Valon. I don’t think we were ever meant for one another. Our marriage was planned by the Women’s Circle, an arranged marriage of sorts.”

Elayne’s eyes blossomed and even in the darkness of dungeon Galad could see her eyes sparkle once again. “I will see what can be done for you Rand al’Thor.” Her eyes dropped and then she spoke to Galad. “I’m sorry. There is nothing I can do for you.”

“I understand,” Galad answered. Elayne never liked him much so he doubted if she would even try to free him.

“Good bye, Rand,” Elayne said finally. Her voice was low and enticing. Galad felt the urge to roll his eyes. She did not say farewell to him.

“Sit,” Galad commanded. “Before you trip over your own love struck limbs.”

This sobered the young man. “I am not in love.” He defended. “I was only thinking.”

“Sure and I can channel,” Galad said bluntly. Rand stared at him and something in his gaze made Galad shiver. Then the younger man sat.

There was an awkward silence for a few minutes until Galad asked. “You mentioned there to be a second woman who could channel.”

Rand stared at him blankly. “No, umm.” He looked extremely confused and his hands shot to his temples. Eventually after a long pause he said, “yes,” behind closed eyes.

//**//

He could not answer Galad. His mind was a mass of confused thoughts. More than his few years could have contained. At the moment Rand kept getting flashes of a woman almost identical to Elayne. The only real difference was the colour of her eyes. They lacked the intensity of Elayne’s blue. The name kept eluding him. What became of her? Rand still felt a loss when he thought of her. The answer to her mystery lay in his mind, he knew it.

The simple truth was he knew she could channel. So to answer Galad’s question, he knew a second woman who was very close to him who could channel. He wanted to answer and then he thought of Nynaeve again. Why had she come to mind when he thought of Aes Sedai? He opened his mouth behind closed eyes and sighed, “yes.”

Rand wanted to laugh. Nynaeve could channel. It was obvious now. Her healing had always been too effective. One problem remained, how did he know she can channel? Then he did laugh. What would the Wisdom think of being able to channel?

Before Galad could ask more the doors to the dungeon flew open and a man was forced roughly into the cell opposite them. He was accompanied not by palace guards, but by Aes Sedai.

“Logain,” Galad whispered in what sounded like awe mixed with a healthy dose fear.

Rand nodded dumbly and felt himself being drawn towards Logain. Galad stood as well. Eventually they were standing shoulder to shoulder staring at the False Dragon being herded about before them.

Logain stood tall and proud with his back to them. He radiated power. Most of the Aes Sedai had left, and only two remained to look over Logain. “What are you staring at?” the one Aes Sedai snarled at them.

“Not you,” Rand said indignantly. The woman took a step towards him, but the other held her back with a calming hand.

They said no more and the one who had been angry soon became an image of calm perfection. They both stood staring at nothing.

Rand kept shivering and beside him he noticed Galad rubbing his forearms as well. “Is it me or did it suddenly get cold in here?” Rand asked Galad.

“It’s not cold,” Galad answered. “Those Aes Sedai are working on my nerves, however.”

Logain turned slowly, and he shielded his eyes slightly. It looked like he was staring into a bright light. “Are you shivering a bit there?” he asked. The Aes Sedai stiffened at the sound of Logain’s voice.

“Must be a draft in here,” Rand answered. Logain shook his head and he laughed. It was a laugh to chill the bones of every male channelling fearing person. To Rand it sounded like the cackles of a madman.

Then Logain stopped laughing. “The world stands poised and still it won’t know what hit it.” He then stared intently at the two of them, his voice dropped to a whisper. “And you’ve got goosebumps on your arms.”

Galad lifted an eyebrow and then turned to Rand. “Poor man,” he shook his head. “The taint on saidin must have gotten to him.”

Rand nodded. He could not help but feel that there was something else. Slumping to the floor he closed his eyes for what would be a long day of nothing. Being still for the first time since these odd memories began meant he could go through them in his mind. Hopefully he would learn something.

//**//

Moiraine and Lan stood in the entrance hall of House Mantear, both with narrowed eyes. Behind them stood Egwene, Perrin and Mat. In contrast their eyes were wide with astonishment.

“Where are we?” Egwene sighed in awe. “This place is enormous. I think my father could fit his whole inn into this room.”

“This is House Mantear,” Moiraine replied sternly. “The home of the oldest and most powerful family in all of Andor.”

Mat moved forwards, “Think there are any pretty maids, Perrin?”

A slap echoed through the hall. “Ouch!” Mat cried out clutching the back of his head. “What was that for?” He tried his best to glare at Lan.

The Warder gave him his usual hard look, but Mat continued to stare at him defiantly. “There was no bloody reason for that slap.” He crossed his arms in frustration. “I was perfectly happy in the inn where Rand and I stayed.” Then he stuck out his bottom lip. “And there was a nice serv…”

Another slap rebounded of the walls. “Blood and ashes, Egwene!” Mat bellowed. “What was that for?”

“To teach you to keep your tongue, Matrim Cauthon.” She gave him her usual haughty stare and Mat would have tackled her right there and then if it were not for the powerful arms of Perrin. The blacksmith’s apprentice held Mat back with ease.

“Just let her go, Mat,” Perrin grumbled, his eyes averted. “You know how she can be at times.”

“And how am I?” Egwene huffed out. Perrin swallowed, but said nothing.

“Quiet,” Moiraine said in a low commanding voice. “We are guests.”

This sobered them quickly enough. Moiraine took a slow deep breath which would go unnoticed by any except the most trained eyes. Being with these children felt like babysitting.

“What are we doing here anyway?” Perrin asked in his deep voice while scratching at the week old growth of beard. He was not looking anyone in the eye and Moiraine was becoming worried over him.

“We have come to see Tigraine Mantear,” Moiraine answered.

The servant, who had opened the door, returned and was followed by an older man. He gave a formal bow in respect. One which was much more polite than the previous one. “Lady Damodred,” he began. “If the servants had known you to be who you are…”

“No need for apologies,” Moiraine cut him off. “Is the Lady Tigraine in residence?”

The man gave a quick nod. “She is, my Lady. She has asked me to inform you that she will be down shortly and that you are to wait in the sun room.”

“Thank you,” she replied and immediately began to move towards the room.

Egwene shuffled beside her. “How do you know where to go? This place is vast and surely there are countless rooms.”

Moiraine did not turn to face the girl nor slow her pace. “I’ve been here before, Egwene. The Lady Tigraine is my sister-in-law.”

“So you must be a pretty high up on Cairhien society if your brother married into one of the most powerful families in Andor.” Egwene asked again. It was a very astute statement. One that was obvious to anyone from these parts, but bearing in mind the girls origins it meant she had a mind for court politics.

“I am a Damodred,” Moiraine replied.

Egwene missed a step and shrugged her shoulders at Mat and Perrin in confusion. “What is that supposed to mean?” Perrin mumbled.

Lan caught up with them. “It means exactly what she said. Moiraine is from House Damodred. Her family holds the thrown of Cairhien. In terms of politic power House Mantear and House Damodred are the two most powerful names this side of the Spine of the World.”

“Blood and Ashes!” Mat exclaimed tugging at his hair in an attempt to flatten it out into something respectable. For once Egwene did not reprimand him and Perrin let loose a few choice words himself.

They eventually entered the sun room. Moiraine remembered quickly why it was called so. The sun baked this part of the manor, as a result it was very comfortable during the cooler months of the year.

She took only a few paces into the room when another servant entered. The woman gave a low bow and proceeded to ask Moiraine to accompany her. Lady Tigraine wanted to see her in private first.

Lan made to follow. “It is alright,” Moiraine whispered to him. “You know who I am to see.” Her gaze swept over the three younger people. “Make sure they are still in one piece when we get back.”

“As you command,” he replied looking none too pleased at having to babysit.

“Thank you, Lan.”

It proved a short walk to where Tigraine was waiting. Moiraine entered and was immediately shocked at what she saw. Gone was the farm wife image of Elayne. Dressed in the latest Andoran fashions made of the finest cloth, Tigraine looked radiant. It had been said that Queen Morgase was one of the most beautiful woman in all of Andor. Tigraine would soon be seen to be nearly as, if not more, striking.

“I’m glad to see you in good health, Lady Damodred,” Tigraine began.

“As am I, Lady Mantear,” Moiraine replied.

The two women studied one another and in those moments Moiraine saw what she was looking for. Tigraine had the strength to do what she wanted. Even if her actions were not exactly what Moiraine had in mind.

“Was this wise?” Moiraine asked.

For the first time during this brief encounter, Tigraine appeared unsure. “I don’t know the answer to the question.” She replied truthfully. With deliberate slowness, the previous Daughter Heir moved about the room. The only sound came from her rustling dress. “I entered the city and it was as if something changed inside of me. I was no longer Elayne al’Thor. When I saw the people in the streets, people wearing red and white, I became what I was raised to be.” Her hand brushed along the length of a long wooden table as she closed the distance towards Moiraine. “I didn’t think, I didn’t even know where to begin looking for Rand and so I did what my heart told me to do.” Her face went pale. “I don’t even know what I’ve done to Galad.”

“Your heart told you to seek out your family home and start a civil war,” Moiraine stated. “Galad is in the palace. An informant has told me that he is locked in a cell with a red haired Andoran farmer from the Two Rivers.”

“Do they know who Rand is?” Tigraine asked.

Moiraine shook her head subtly. Tigraine relaxed and had the decency to blush slightly. “I knew this might start a civil war. I just forgot what it actually meant.” The woman appeared so unsure suddenly. “What should I do? It’s been so long since I’ve played this game.”

“Withdraw your bid for the thrown. Use your influence to back Morgase.” Moiraine answered. “You will free your sons and strengthen Andor.”

Tigraine shot her a hard look. “And give up what is my families!” The woman shouted. Then her shoulder slumped. “I do not know if I can do that.”

“Is this all necessary? Do you really want the problems of a crown?”

“I’m not sure,” Tigraine replied. Then her eyes lifted and her back straightened again. “I am not like you, Moiraine. I never ran from my destiny.” Her eyes grew harder than any Aes Sedai’s. “I embraced my destiny.” Then she look passed Moiraine. “Besides being here would force the issue in any case. By not playing the game I’d still be playing.”

Moiraine understood. Tigraine had told her of Gitara Morosa who had given Tigraine a message, or rather a prophecy. “I…” Moiraine wanted to say that she’d never tried to run away from the thrown. The problem was she had. “Perhaps I did run, but I believed the search for…” She stopped, eyes fractionally wide.

“Search for?” Tigraine pushed her eyes narrowed. “You are in my house. Answer me Moiraine.”

Moiraine took a slow deliberate breath and walked about similarly to Tigraine. It was an old means with which to forestall giving an answer while allowing yourself time to gather your thoughts.

“During the Aiel war, near the end. Gitara Morosa died while giving one last foretelling.” She paused and stared directly at Moiraine. “She said that the Dragon was Reborn and that she could hear his cries.” Then her gaze grew hard and Tigraine turned pale. “Where was Rand born?”

“On the slopes of Dragonmount,” Tigraine answered immediately. “Are you saying my son is the Dragon Reborn?”

“It has to be him. I also think he has the ability to channel.” She did not tell Tigraine of her suspicions of Galad being able to channel. The man had to be able. She was sure that like Nynaeve, Galad had the ability hidden within him.

“Light have mercy on his soul.” Tigraine whispered in shock. “What can we do, Moiraine?”

“He is the Dragon Reborn.” Moiraine began. “We must do whatever we can to get him to Tarmon Gaidon alive so he can fight the Dark One himself.”

Tigraine nodded solemnly. “Then we must give him the strongest support he can have.”

“And that is?” Moiraine asked raising an eyebrow.

“We give him the full support of both queens of Andor and Cairhien.”

“But Cairhien has a king.” Moiraine said, but she already knew where Tigraine was going with this. The Damodreds held the thrown.

“Not for long Queen Damodred.”

Moiraine’s eyes grew dark and hard. She knew, however, that Tigraine was right. By taking the thrown of Cairhien while Tigraine held the thrown of Andor Rand would be a near unstoppable force.

“All he needs to do is get the sword which isn’t a sword from Tear.” Moiraine added.

Tigraine smiled knowingly. “That will of course give him the support of not only two, but three of the richest nations.”

Moiraine did not say what she knew as well. Sitting in the White Tower was an Amyrlin Seat who would be stilled before turning against Moiraine and the Dragon Reborn. Moiraine’s friend who had been searching for Rand just as long, Siuan Sanche.

“We will have the support of the White Tower.” Moiraine added after a moment’s silence. “After Rand wields Callandor.”

Tigraine gave her an astonished look. “How?”

“That is not for me to say,” Moiraine smiled.

Tigraine gasped and Moiraine knew she was thinking something. The only thing she said was. “Rand will have more power than he ever dreamed of.”

“I just hope we can control the raging fire we are about to let loose.”

Tigraine remained silent and so did Moiraine.

A few minutes later. Moiraine said. “We can still give him Andor without you needing to start a war.”

“How?”

Moiraine smiled, “I believe there might be a young and pretty Daughter Heir who might be in want of a husband.”

“No!” Tigraine shouted. “I will not force him into a marriage.”

“Perhaps there will be no need for forcing.”

Tigraine shook her head. “I will not push my son into a loveless political marriage.”

Moiraine pursed her lips. “It is an option, Tigraine.” Then she added. “My source told me that Elayne has already begun showing an unusual amount of interest in Rand.”

Tigraine sighed, but there was a glimmer in her eyes. There had always been talk of merging the lines of Trakand and Mantear. “But it will have to be his decision. Not mine, and only if he believes he could love her.” The former Daughter Heir smiled ruefully. “There is another for the throne of Cairhien.”

Moiraine’s eyes grew darker still. “Galad.”

Tigraine sat thoughtfully. “And then we have Lan who can unite the Borderlanders.”

“Perhaps the eastern Borderlands. Saldea and the western nations will not bend to our will so easily.” Moiraine added and Tigraine nodded in agreement

“All we need are the Aiel,” She laughed. “Then all that stands against us this side of the Moutains of Mist is Mayene.”

“Is his father Aiel?” Moiraine asked knowing the answer, but wanting confirmation.

“Janduin, he was a clan chief and the man who led the Aiel out of the Three Fold Land.”

Moiraine tried not to show her shock. Rand was the son of powerful people. From the little Moiraine knew of the Aiel, that which Lan had told her about, the clan chiefs were the hardest of a hard people.

“Is Rand anything like his father? Moiraine dared to ask.

Tigraine met her gaze. “At the moment he is not as hard as the Aiel, but I think he is much stronger than any Aiel I’ve ever met.”

“Light forgive us for what we are going to do.” Then Moiraine changed topic. “So what happened to Elayne al’Thor?”

“She returned home to Emond’s Field after being trampled by a Mantear nobleman’s horse. House Mantear was kind enough to take Nynaeve in and provide her passage to the White Tower. This offer will naturally be extended to Egwene.” Tigraine answered. “Nynaeve knows the story and she is willing to go with it. She understands the implications.”

Moiraine nodded thoughtfully. “What of the boys? They are almost as important as Rand.”

“Let them stay in the inn and enjoy their time in Caemlyn. We need to get Galad out of the palace while ensuring no one knows that Rand is my son.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“I think we need to go to the palace. Just like I’d planned on doing.” Tigraine’s eyes glinted. “But since you’re here, I’ve gained much.”


A/N Thank you for reading. As you can see things are beginning to slow down and diverging from the original plot of the WoT. Any suggestions/ideas are welcome.