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Abroad The River Cloud


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Taking a firestone and some dry tinder Aeveryn quickly produced a small flame to light the candles in her room. Some of the other accepted gave her strange glances for not using Saidar for simple tasks like that. But she could not stifle the feeling she was wasting Saidar. And besides, it helped her remember her roots and keep her feet on the ground.


Opening her book she considered her notes. Studying shadowspawn had been far more difficult then she had imagined and the creatures of the dark one kept her awake many nights as she tried to puzzle out how they worked and how they had been created. Either that or she felt to ill to sleep. Someone with a twisted mind had created them. Not for the first time she wondered if surrendering to the dark one took a weak mind or someone being insane. When she did not think about the shadow’s creatures, she contemplated those that had chosen to follow him.


She knew she was far from knowing more then a fraction there was to know about trollocs. She probably could spend all her life studying them, and never know all there was to know. The human body offered more then enough surprises, a trollocs body was far more alien and strange and slowly she began to wonder if she would ever come to some kind of conclusion. It was only as she was rereading her notes from the previous night that she noticed that her mind had travelled. Instead of noting down her thought about shadowspawn she had made assumptions about the state of mind of someone creating creatures like that. And about the state of mind of someone joining the shadow.


She had known two people serving the dark one. But thinking about them was still difficult. She could accept now that she had been just too inexperienced and young to know the man she had wed had been a darkfriend. She no longer blamed herself for not realising it had been him pulling the strings leading to her family’s demise. And the memory of him humiliating her no longer made her feel dirty and ill. Her husband and the one, horrid day their marriage had lasted was as much part of her past as her time in the tower. But her memories gave little away of his state of mind, other then him being cruel, evil and horribly greedy. But had he been like that before he joined the dark side?


She could not deny the fascination she was experiencing. She had grown worried discovering her own interest in details of the shadow until she realised it wasn’t so much an interest in joining the shadow herself, but a dark curiosity as to how someone could sink so low to turn himself over to the darkness freely.


A sudden rap on the door made her jump. Cursing herself for her easy temper she opened the door with her hand. The novice on the other side did not meet her eyes. She had spanked the girl just the day before for repeatedly not adding the word “Sedai†when referring to a sister in the woman’s absence. Aeveryn did believe in pain being able to shape a woman is words could not, and she followed that believe even if she was certain she was not making friends.


“There was a messenger in the entrance hall from the harbour, accepted. He was saying there is a delivery for you on the ship River Cloud. Apparently it comes from Mandalyn Sedai and stems from the borderlands. But the messenger said the dock authorities will not let the boxes pass without opening them. But the captain is saying he has strict orders and…†The girl was not done, but Aeveryn already understood. She completed the other’s statement: “…he will not let the authorities touch the boxes. And now they want someone from the tower to have a look and confirm the boxes contain goods ordered. You did well, girl. Thank you.â€


This time she did use Saidar to extinguish the candle. She even used the source to shut the door behind her. It was necessity. She had to hurry. The trolloc corpses in the boxes were kept fresh with a keep spell und would stay fresh forever, but she did not want the men at the harbour grow impatient and open the wooden boxes on their own. For all she knew they would go mad and burn her valuable objects of study.


The way to the north harbour seemed to be longer today then ever before. But she had no eyes for the people milling or the beauty of the buildings. Determined she hurried past, struggling to keep to a quick pace and not break into an eager run.


Huge ships were being unloaded in the harbour. Well, at least she assumed they were huge. Ships were still strange objects to her since she was not very familiar with water having grown up in the foothills of mountains far away from major rivers and in the confining depths of mines.


The River Cloud was an impressive vessel. It looked chunky and sturdy, not as slender as some other ships anchoring, and there were numerous men going about their tasks, loading and unloading. One of the men she approached. “I am Aeveryn Yewlis, accepted from the white tower. I am here to speak to the captain and the harbour authorities about a shipment to the white tower. Can you show me where they are?â€


The man just bowed, low enough to suit a full sister and gestured her towards one of the many storage houses. She was still too preoccupied thinking about how she would convince the officials to just let the boxes pass to pay the man much mind. She did not even notice that he had opened the door leading to a storage house for her or the fact that his face was holding a cruel expression as he was shutting the door again.


The room she was now in was nearly dark, only through some creaks in the roof and walls fell some light. “Where are the…†was all she was able to say before something hit her head hard. The gloom faded into perfect blackness and she was gone before she hit the ground.

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Dorian wandered the streets of Tar Valon almost aimlessly, enjoying the unaccustomed freedom of a day to himself. No training, no chores, just himself and an abundance of time, and some money. He was alone as he ambled the crowded market, none of his friends having free time today, and Dorian had been loathe to miss his opportunity for escape.


Handing over a few coppers, Dorian accepted the steaming hot beef pie from the vendor at meandered on, not going anywhere in particular, just enjoying the sights and sounds of the city as it bustled, even the crowd jostling him did little to hamper his good mood. Finishing his pie, Dorian paused in the shade of a shop front, licking the last of the pastry from his fingertips when a vision in white caught his eye.


Dumbfounded he turned, following the woman with his eyes. She was beautiful, blonde hair framing her angelic face, her figure lithe and slim. Her dress was banded with colour though, an Accepted, not a novice. Without thinking, Dorian followed her, brushing his hands on his tunic and running his fingers through his dark hair, putting some semblance of order into the locks.


Dorian had seen plenty of pretty girls in and around the tower, indeed even some of the Aes Sedai were incredible, but none had ever caught him like this, entrancing him with just a glimpse, the way she walked, not looking around, but intent on her goal. Did she even realise how pretty she looked? The way she was oblivious to the stares aimed her way, her hips rolling gently as she walked. She did not appear voluptuous like some Dorian had seem, yet he could not take his eyes from her.


He was pondering what kind of name a vision like her would have, when she stopped and spoke to a man. Dorian blinked in surprise, finding himself at the docks. This was indeed a rough area to be in, even for Tar Valon. Perhaps he should introduce himself, offer to escort her on whatever business she had, but soon the man was ushering her into a warehouse, so Dorian missed the chance. Still, perhaps he would wait outside, if only for the chance to see her again. And perhaps then he would introduce himself, learn her name.


Dorian leaned against a nearby wall, watching the door for her return, losing himself in his imaginings. Dorian had always focused so much on his training, on being all that Yrean expected, that he had allow little time for girls, yet now he smiled to himself as he continued pondering her name. Elena? No, not nearly pretty enough for an angel like herself. Celeste? Zemindra? Light, but she was taking a long time. Dorian fingered his belt knife, wishing he hadn't left his scimitar in his dorm. Should he go to the door, pretend like he was lost, make sure everything was ok?


Just as he battled silently with his sense of propriety, another flash of white caught his eye. Light, but it was her, in the arms of that man! Jumping, Dorian dashed out from where he stood, in time to see the man take the groggy looking girl aboard a ship, set for sail. Suddenly thankful for all the running Yrean made him do, Dorian chased the man down, though he had quite the head start. Leaping from the edge of the dock, Dorian landed unceremoniously on the deck of the ship as it pulled away from shore, panting heavily from the exertion. About to climb to his feet and hunt down the wretch that had captured the beauty, he froze, eyes focused on the blade held at his throat. "Captain, we have a stowaway!" Yelled the sailor, not taking his eyes from Dorian.


Still breathless from his mad dash, Dorian shook his head carefully, trying to protest. "No...man....brought girl on....board." He panted, looking at the men with desperate eyes. "We have to...help her!" He swallowed, catching his breath, though the blade did not waver. "Please!" He grunted, rolling away from the blade as the captain of the ship stepped up to Dorian, eyeing him menacingly.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Her brain felt as if it was packed in wool. Bits and pieces of sounds and shards of vision drifted past her awareness. But mostly she was caged in a dark prison that did not give away where she was, what had happened or why. And still, she wanted to wake. She was determined to strive the oblivion from her mind and wake from this strange gloom. Her head hurt to the point of splitting. She felt ill and the room was rolling and turning around her. She was just coming to the conclusion that waking had not been a good idea when someone shifted. “She is waking!†A hazy voice called. And then the darkness returned. Had she been aware of it, she would have been pleased to be relieved of the intense pain and the throbbing urge of needing to puke.


But when she woke the next time the feeling had not become better, but worse. She was still feeling ill. Actually she was feeling worse then just ill. She and she was moist, as if someone had poured cold water over her head. But the liquid did not lessen the pain in her head she was suffering. The headache she was experiencing was incomparable to anything she had ever endured. It trickled her mind down to a crawl.


And the voices were back.


“Are you sure she can’t channel?†A man demanded. “You keep asking the same stupid questions, idiot. Absolutely. She is no full sister, and besides, not even one of them would be able to touch Saidar in her state.†Aeveryn did throw up then. But nothing would come, as if she had already thrown up while she had been unconscious. Vision faded again for a moment before her eyes adjusted to dim light that still hurt her eyes. “Disgusting.†The woman said. And then added. “Calm, you fool.†The man did sound nervous. “I don’t want to be roasted by some novice.†The woman snorted. “She is no novice. She’s an accepted. And you’ve hit her head twice. I am glad you did not crack her skull. And she has been bleeding, too, like a pig before they take the guts out. Trust me, she can touch Saidar as much as a fish can.â€


Slowly her eyes were struggling to focus, but she could not make out more then two indistinct shapes. There was only little light, as if the room had no windows. And it was rolling. Only then she realized. Her senses were not playing her tricks. Well they were, but the shifting sensation was not part of it. She was abroad a ship. For a moment another fear entered the confusion of her mind. She could not swim.


But then something pulled her up, by her hair. She could not stop the scream from escaping her lips. It felt as if the other was removing her skull from her brain. “You are just a weak girl. I had expected more.†She tried to get her feet beneath her body, but her limps seemed to be made up of jelly. Finally she caught the hand holding her up, but moments later a harsh blow took her back into the world of darkness. At least for a moment.


“What do you need her for anyway? Can’t we just kill her?†The man inquired. Aeveryn realized she was sitting now. Slowly the room started to become clearer. Well, the cabin. It was tiny and only one oil lamp provided some light. “That is quite simple… Ahh… she is waking again. Good.†Then Aeveryn noticed that her banded dress had been shifted up all the way to her hips. Also the stockings she had worn had gone. Her legs and feet were completely nude. What did that mean? What did they intend? She had been raped before, once, what seemed a long time ago, but she still wore her smallclothes.


“Who are you?†She inquired, the question earning her another hard blow in the face. The room was still shifting when suddenly intense pain shot through her body. Only when it lessened was she able to focus it back to her left leg. For a moment her vision cleared and she could clearly see the man and woman. The man was pinning her down on the chair, while the woman was holding a blood covered, slender blade. “Good… Pain is a wonderful thing, isn’t it, accepted?â€


“What…†She started again, but the blow came quickly. The room was now rotating around her. And she wanted to throw up again. “Your name.†The woman demanded. “Your name!†The pain coming from her leg intensified. “Your name, accepted!†It felt as if the woman was pushing the blade through skin and flesh. It felt as if the tip was grating her bones. She struggled and screamed, but she was too weak and they too strong. “Aeveryn… Aeveryn Yewlis!†she finally yelled.†The pain lessened. It did not leave her. But it waned a lot. “What a pretty name for a stupid cow like you.â€


“Why are you doing this?†She managed to say before the man struck her face again. The woman too was starting to become rather irritated now. “When will you learn to shut up? We pose the questions, you, answer.†The pain flashed back. She screamed, loud until the forced something in her mouth. It tasted like some old, dirty rag. Aeveryn was shaking from pain when the woman asked: “What to do you need the trolloc corpses for?†Slowly it bloomed on her what they were after. They were darkfriends. That much had been clear from the beginning. But only now did she realize what had drawn their attention. “You don’t look as if you want to talk. Well maybe this will amend your mind.†Again her leg flamed up and for a moment she drifted into unconsciousness. “What do you need the trolloc corpses for?†Pain. “What?†More pain. “Speak!†The pain was too much. As if they could read her mind they pulled the fabric out. “I study them.†Her voice was no more then a rasp.


The break lasted only a moment. “Good girl. What do you hope to find?†She was able to look down for a moment, and was shocked to see that her left leg had been turned into a bleeding mess. The floor was covered in blood too. For the firs time she tried to reach for Saidar. The possibility had not even occurred to her before. But it was pointless. The source was as distant as the tower surely was from her now. “Answer!†The pain started anew. “Stupid girl, answer. Why are you studying trollocs?†Pain. It was her leg the woman was administering, but her entire body was a searing mass of pain. “Speak, Aeveryn, speak. Speak freely and it will be over.†The pain was so strong her arms were shaking out of control.


And then something snapped. Not in her mind. It was her leg. Even as she drifted into unconsciousness she was aware that it had been broken. Sadly the blackness did not last long. The man was roaring: “Now what have you done? I thought you had some skill.â€

â€So what?†The girl replied. “You bloody broke her leg! Is that what you were taught? Why don’t you continue with her belly anyway?†The sound of a slap followed, but this time it was not her that was hit. “Shut up†The woman commanded. And then the pain was back at her leg. “I am in charge here, and you do as I say.†Someone shook her face. “And you tell me what you hope to find.â€


Aeveryn’s eyes cleared for the moment, as she started right back at the girl. She was somewhat pretty, and nothing from her appearance hinted at the fact she was a darkfriend. “I hope to find a way to rid this world of them, along with vermin like you and him!†Her tormentor just stared back at her silently, but then twisted the blade in her wound, the pressure making the broken bone shift against its other side. “I should let my friend here rape you, tower slut. Maybe that would amend your mind. Now…â€




“… tell me…â€


More pain.


“… exactly…â€


She only realized she was screaming because someone stuffed the cloth back in her mouth.


“…what you…â€


She needed to pass out. She wanted to pass out. But she could not.


“… intend to find.â€


She hated herself for being so weak. But she could not bear it any more. “A way to fight them more efficiently. Something, maybe a disease, maybe a unknown weakness… anything.â€


Had she hoped they were done with her now she was mistaken. “And what have you found?†Not for the first time she tried to get away from her captors but the man was strong. Too strong. Kicking out the blade slid deeper into her leg and pleasant darkness surrounded her.

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