Submission 18 - Bill Garrett


\\//            \\//
//\\ Entry #18  //\\
\\//            \\//


1. A Cold Wind Blows

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legends. Legends fade to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age long past, an Age yet to come, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist, blowing down across the fields and forests of a proud land once and again called Manetheren. The wind was not the beginning, for there are neither beginnings nor endings to the Wheel of Time, but it was _a_ beginning.

Perrin awoke with a start. With his cloudy vision he could make out the outline of his bedroom window, the a gray pre-dawn light flowing through it. Faile was already up and about; she noticed him sit up in bed. He shivered despite the heat and squeezed his eyes tightly shut. His head felt like it was stuffed with wool. The Wolfdream had come back again, more powerfully than it had in a long time.
"Bad dreams again, Love?" asked Faile. She walked over to the bed where he lay. "I've been up and worrying about you for almost half an hour. Are you okay?" She leaned over to place a gentle hand on his head.
"Yes, I'm okay, Love." In fact, Perrin was feeling better already. The sight of her bending over him, dressed only in a loose shift, exposing to him her perfect pale breasts, reminded him of how much he loved her. She was simply beautiful and her scent, one of roses and fresh water, filled his nose with a pleasant aroma. He reached up with his strong arms and pulled her body tight against his.
"Oh, you _are_ feeling alright," said Faile with a chuckle, after Perrin finished kissing her a few times. "Aren't you at least _tired_ after all that thrashing around this morning, not to mention last night?"
Perrin blushed at her mention of the night before. Faile chuckled again and Perrin immediately felt silly for blushing at such a thing as that. Faile was his wife, after all. Why should he feel shame?
She rolled onto the other side of the bed. "Tell me about your dream?"
Perrin's smile faded as his attention was brought back to less pleasant matters. "It was the Wolfdream again, but I suspect you already know that. It was fragmented... shifting scenes... conflicting images. Hopper was there. He showed me a river wharf near some big city -- I think it was Cairhien -- where there were charred wagons and blood as if from dying people. Nobodoy was there, though; the dreamworld always works like that. 'One of the dead lives while one of the living dies,' Hopper told me.
"Then Hopper took me to a large gray tower in the middle of a wood. I'd been there before, when I was chasing Slayer. Hopper had told me not to go there, but this time he led me there. 'The Daughter of the Night is trapped, but not for long.' I'm not sure what any of that meant. How is Lanfear trapped? Who are the living dead? It just didn't make much sense. It never does."
"You certainly don't seem much worse for the wear," she said as she arose from the bed and straightened her shift. "Are you still opposed to our trip to Saldaea?"
"Hmm?" Perrin hated the way Faile would change the conversation so abruptly. It was like she was always trying to sneak something past him, especially her idea about visiting her family.
"I just don't think it's a good time to go," he said, getting out of bed. "The townsfolk still haven't finished rebuilding the houses destroyed by the Trollocs because they've been building that light- lasted manorhouse for us. There are still crops to plant and sheep to raise, not to mention preparations for war."
"But other people can take care of that for you, Perrin. They don't need you to help them do everything, and you know it. Bran al'Vere was a good mayor for many years, and Tam al'Thor knows how to lead soldiers. I'm not sure where he learned that, but he certainly knows his business. Anyway, the point is that everybody will do fine, even if they have to suddenly learn to take care of themselves without you holding their hands."
Perrin had to admit that she was right about the townspeople, but somehow he knew -- he _knew_ -- that traveling to Saldaea this season would bring disaster. "But what about Loial? and Bain, Chiad, and Gaul? We can't just leave them here.
"They'll go with us if they wish." Faile was struggling to button up the back of her blouse, and Perrin walked over to help her. "Loial has already expressed an interest in meeting my family. Besides which, _Blacksmith_," she added with mock anger, "I have to present my husband to my father. If you won't go with me, I'll have to tell him I've married Loial."
"Loial?!" gasped Perrin as his hands stopped halfway up the row of buttons on Faile's back. "Your father would never believe that you married an Ogier!"
"Well, that's what he'll have to believe... unless you plan to come with me."
Perrin sighed. She had won again. Abel Cauthon's advice about dealing with women had sounded good when first he heard it, but it just never seemed to work right. Rand and Mat were probably having better luck. * * *

2. An Empty Leash

Nynaeve stepped out of Tel'aran'rhiod and back into her room in Salidar. Birgitte was there, still drowsy from the after-effects of the sleeping drug she had consumed. But when she saw Nynaeve appear, she practically lept out of her chair.
"What happened?!" she demanded.
"Many things. But first things first. Moghedien is here among us in Salidar! No," she said as Birgitte inhaled sharply, "it's okay, for now. She's asleep at the moment, but we must find her quickly. She's one of the three women who rode the boat down the River Eldar with us. Come, quickly, and I'll tell you about Rand and Rahvin on the way." The two women stalked out of the cottage and into the busy late-morning streets of Salidar.

"Sheriam, where is the a'dam?" Nynaeve asked curtly as she barged into the inn where the former Mistress of Novices was quartered. "I need it, and several strong Sisters quickly!"
Sheriam rose from her chair. "Just what do you think--"
"There is little time for me to explain, I'm afraid. One of the Forsaken is here in Salidar, and we must get to her before she can escape."
"Forsaken? Child, you had better calm down and--"
Sheriam's mouth froze in place as Nynaeve channelled Air. Her frozen expression was one of surprise, at the sudden speed and strength of the flows. "I will not say this but one more time. Moghedien is in Salidar. We--must--catch--her! You may cooperate with me or stay here like this; I will not permit you to interfere. Are you with me?"
Sheriam's face cycled through a variety of harsh expressions as Nynaeve loosened the flows a bit, but after a moment of silence her words were positive. "I will cooperate, but for your own sake, you had better hope you're right!"

"Nynaeve, come with me quickly," said a young Warder whom Nynaeve didn't recognize. Word of the hunt had spread quickly, perhaps to more mouths than Nynaeve had wished. She jogged along behind the young man toward a house on the edge of the village. Elayne and Birgitte joined her a moment later.
"This is where the three women were quartered," said Sheriam. "As you can see, it looks like someone has left in a hurry." Sheriam gestured to the room, but Nynaeve needed no help to see the scene. A bed with its covers in disarray, an upended table and chair, and a shattered lamp on the floor.
"The two men out back are dead," Torim reportedly quietly. "There are no wounds about them. It's as if..." Torim paused uncomfortably while he struggled with his words, " if they were killed by... by an Aes Sedai." His voiced trailed off to a rough whisper.
"Any sign of where the murderers went?"
"Yes, Aes Sedai, they went off to the Northeast, two people dragging a third."
"Then we must chase them until we find them!" shouted Nynaeve, briefly letting her anger at losing Moghedien flare up. * * *

3. Not Above the Law

"The river's only about 15 minutes' walk ahead of us now, my Q-- Morgase," stammered Tallanvor.
"Any sign of an armed patrol like the one you spotted earlier?"
"No, m--Morgase."
Morgase didn't like the way Tallanvor was looking at her. He was obviously uncomfortable about calling her by her first name -- and why shouldn't he? -- but it was something she had specifically requested him to do. Still, there seemed to be something more, something he was holding back. She was tempted to say something to him about it, but worried that the problem might be purely in her mind. 'The surest way to find trouble is to go looking for it,' Lini had always said.
"I think we'll be safe enough going to a city once we cross the river," said Lamgwin, peering left and right from beneath heavy eyelids. "We're far enough away from Andor now, and with how well you disguised yourself even back in Caemlyn, I don't think anyone will recognize you."
"There'll be one trouble in Amadicia, though," added Breane. "No, not that Great Serpent ring which you already wisely chose to hid. I mean that women in Amadicia are expected to defer to men. You are a very strong woman, and where we're going, that could get you in trouble."

"Be careful with how you man-handle me, you brute!" shouted Morgase in uncharacteristic anger.
"The magistrate, he can have you branded or worse if you do not calm down and come along peacefully," said the bailiff.
Morgase was about to hit this foul man with the best swing she could manage, but a dark and foreboding stare from Tallanvor, following a few steps behind, made her reconsider.
"You're already in enough trouble, so just try to minimize the difficulty now," he intoned gravely.
Morgase opened her mouth to say something harsh at him, but another sharp look, this time shared by Breane, made her decline. She closed her mouth with a snap and stared angrily down at her feet as she walked. The bailiff still gripped her tightly by her left arm. She still didn't understand the charge, but she was sure there couldn't be much punishment, if any. At least her friends were allowed to go with her to the Magistrate. Ah, the Magistrate would certainly be a man of reason, unlike this irascible bailiff, and she would be able to smooth everything over with him. At least she was dealing with the local government, not with the Whitecloaks....

"You stand charged with theft from Master Allert's fruit cart," Magistrate Jenklins summarized. "Allert says he saw you try to take an apple, but he doesn't have any witnesses. Your friends here claim that you are innocent. The bailiff reports that you were not exactly cooperative." He added under his breath: "Although what can we expect from the human rabble that flows through our streets nowadays?
"All of this notwithstanding, I am willing to be lenient. We do not normally excuse outsiders for breaking our laws, but these are trying times. I sentence you, Margaret, to a week in the public stockades."
Morgase fixed him with a look that could kill a deer at fifty paces and opened her mouth in anger -- and not because of the name 'Margaret', which she had given him -- but Jenklins interrupted.
"_If_ you have anything else to add, I can certainly increase the sentence to branding!" * * *

4. Old Friends and New Acquaintances

"I think it's about time fer us to be headin' home," rumbled the massive Joni. "I don't like bein' on this side of the Eldar fer too long." Children and not a few adults steered a wide berth as he passed down the dusty street. Healing had long since obviated the need for the bandage he had previously worn around his head, but his gruesome visage was something that no Aes Sedai Talent could cure.
"One more stop first, my old friend," replied Gareth Bryne. "We told some men we'd meet them in the inn, and I don't plan to break my appointment. It's just ahead, past the town commons." The two men walked onward.

"Joni, hold a moment. Look at that woman over there, the one in the pillary in the commons." The two men approached.
"By the Light!" said Bryne in a hushed tone of astonishment. "Of all the things I least expected to see..."
"What's you problem?" snapped the woman clamped wrists and neck in the stock. "I'm just some lowly fruit-snatcher, unjustly accused, but sentenced to stand here in public ignominy. I'm nobody you know, so leave me be."
For all that her dirtied face and bedraggled clothes made him doubt his first guess, her voice and attitude convinced him twofold. He resisted an impulse to drop to one knee; this was no longer Andor, and she was no longer his Queen. She had sent him away as a traitor, on pain of death.
"Alas, I may have been mistaken," Gareth lied. "I thought you might be an old friend, and thought I could get you free from your current predicament. I was mistaken, and am sorry to have troubled you."
"Wait!" Morgase hissed. She swallowed her pride. Her memory of what she had done to Gareth was foggy, but she knew knew she had done something terrible. Something terrible enough to deserve his sarcasm now. "I am who you think I am, Gareth. And I think we need to reconcile our differences. I did some things to you in the past that I revile."
Gareth studied her for a moment. Yes, she was the same person he had loved and served for many years, but could he go back again? No, it could never be the same, and he served different masters now. She deserved at least _one_ courtesy, though.
"I have some small amount of sway in this town. I will see that you are set free. You may come with me; I have some interesting friends for you to meet." Bring her to the den of the Aes Sedia... was that revenge? He quirked his lip in a wry smile and marched off toward the Magistrate's office.

"Nynaeve told me that Rand holds the throne right now," Elayne told her mother. She, Morgase, and Bryne were seated about a table in Bryne's house. Morgase had slowly become infuriated at the story of how things had fallen apart in Caemlyn, but this -- a man sitting on her throne -- was surely the worst.
"Who is this 'Rand', and why do you speak so fondly of him?"
"He's the Dra--" Elayne paused. Could she tell her mother? "He's the Dragon Reborn. And I'm in love with him."
An uncomfortable silence swept over the three people, broken finally by the entrance of a fourth. "Here are your shirts. Master Bryne."
Siuan dropped a stack of over-starched and poorly pressed shirts on a dressing stand in Gareth's room. She turned briskly and stomped toward the door.
Morgase, sitting in a chair facing Bryne, turned at the sound of the servant's harsh voice. She caught sight of the woman's face, and her eyes widened to the size of plates. "Mother?" she asked incredulously.
Siuan Sanche stopped abruptly and turned to face Gareth and Morgase. "No, you are mistaken," she snapped and stalked away.
"But that was... Surely it must have been..."
"Yes, it was. It's a long story, and one of which I don't know all the details. I'll tell you now, and then I'll have to introduce you to another... old acquaintance." Gareth chuckled at the thought of introducing her to Thom. He wasn't sure for which of them it would be worse.

Nynaeve, Elayne, and Birgitte sat quietly on the bench in the common room. Behind closed doors, sealed from prying by the One Power, seven full Sisters were discussing their fate and, Nynaeve hoped, planning a hunt for Moghedien and the two Black Ajah.
"Don't fret so much, Nynaeve," Birgitte consoled her. "You did what you had to, and certainly they'll recognize that."
"I'll have to admit, I would have done the same thing," said Elayne, "even though the penalty in any lesser circumstance would probably have been stilling." She shuddered. No channeller liked to think of being permanently severed from the Source.
"I'd like to see them try it anyway!" Nynaeve grumbled. In the weeks since Moghedien's escape, things had gone about as poorly as they possibly could. Few of the Sisters believed her story about Rand, Rahvin, and Moghedien. Sheriam had barely forgiven her for what she had done. Morgase's story corroborated parts of what she had told them she had learned from Moghedien, but that was the best that had happened.
A commotion outside the door to the inn drew her attention away from her misery. One of the young warders on guard opened the door and stepped inside, and was almost trampled by the large man pushing past him. "Lan!" Nynaeve said in a rush and fairly lept out of her chair to throw her arms around him.
Lan embraced her warmly. "It is good to see you again, Nynaeve al'Meara."
"And you, too, you big oaf. I was worried sick about you! I thought I might never see you again. That's no way to treat a woman, leaving her in suspense like that."

"Peace, Nynaeve. I did not come here for you. Moiraine has died, but had previously arranged for my bond to be passed to Myrelle. I doubt that we will ever be together, you and I. Perhaps it is best if we separate now."
"Curse that foul woman!" Nynaeve muttered to herself. In the grave, but still she ruins my life!

Next submission, previous submission, Table of contents.