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Gateway to a new age.


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OOC:  I realized that I was diluting the intent of The Last Battle thread so I created this one.  This thread will take place as Randland is reeling from the affects of the Last Battle.  A new age is approaching.  The best memories of the Age of Legends and the lessons learned during the Third Age will provide building blocks for the Fourth Age.  The gateway to that wondrous new age is closed.  Post your visions of what it will take to get it to open.










Some of the background (Jake and Sandy) can be found in the Tinker RP.

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Tired.  Hungry.  Dirty.  No, not dirty.  Filthy!  And not hungry.  Starving!  Tired?  More like totally exhausted!  Jake was sure that he could not take another step.  Sahandra had been saying for hours that she was positive that Rhuidean was just a little farther.  She seemed driven to get there at all costs.  This "Ji" thing must be very important to her.  For the thousandth time he told himself that it was the will of the Pattern that he was traveling with this lunatic instead of sleeping in a nice warm wagon every night.  With plenty of food and water.  And no aching muscles.


There really was no reason to complain.  He had not really made a choice to take this trip.  The will of the Pattern could not be overcome.  Had he not asked Sandy to go through the columns with him, somehow he still would have ended up in Rhuidean following her in.  There was no doubt in his mind.  But, why couldn't he have waited.  The wagons were headed there.  Maybe he could have just met her at the entrance or something?  That was all moot now.  What was done could not be undone.


Sandy popped over the top of the hill that he had been struggling to follow her up.  She stopped dead in her tracks.  Maybe she was going to let him catch up?  He continued to trudge his way up through the loose sandy gravel.  Three paces gained him one as the loose soil slid out from under his shoes.  When they got to Rhuidean he was going to trade those shoes for a pair of Aiel boots regardless of how ridiculous they would look with his filthy clothes.  He should get those cleaned somehow, too.  Panting and feeling like he could collapse at any moment, Jake caught up to Sandy.  Then he did collapse.


Far off to his right stretched the lake that Sandy had told him about.  He still had trouble believing that all of that water really did exist here in the Waste.  Seeing it helped some.  To there left were some wagons of the People and beyond them were some Aiel tents.  In front of them lay the ruins of Rhuidean.  Charred stubs of blackened buildings jutted upward here and there.  A few buildings appeared to be untouched.  Some still billowed smoke.  Sandy collapsed beside him.

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OOC:  I might not be online much this week.  Son-in-law and daughter want kitchen remodeling help.



GrandpaG and Roy (the young Ogier from the Last Battle posts) sat relaxing beneath the reviving Tree of Life.  It was still hard to comprehend how it had ended up here of all places.  From clippings rescued by the Daishan some three millenniums ago to this sprawling giant in the Aiel Waste.  Most trees here would not make a good sapling in the Wetlands.  Roy seemed very learned on the subject.  It felt great to bask beneath it's branches.


Conversation with Roy came easily.  For being a relative youngster he was very well versed.  Alert.  Polite.  Interesting.  Patient.  He had many virtues that led to a casual, pleasing chat.  He told several stories about events occurring in the presence of the Dragon Reborn that he intended to include in his book.  Since GrandpaG had accompanied Rand to the wagons of the People to tell them about the Song being in Rhuidean, Roy and he had common ground.


"I wish I had a way to bring The Green Man's tree here.", Roy stated as if thinking aloud.  "Perhaps if it were here by the Tree of Life we could find a way to revive him."

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He wiped out the sweat from his face as he channeled the Earth and Fire,he was one of the Hundred Asha'man assigned to help in rebuilding the Rhuidean.Huge blocks of stone were put together by the power.Ogier shaped them as soon as they were put in place.He didn't wanted to be here.He assigned to help in researching the new Terraforming waves that Lady Elayne discovered and that were used in growing new plants and Trees in places that were wasted in the Last Battle.But they told him that his talents could find good use in rebuilding the Rhuidean.It was hot,the Windfinders  din't changed the climate here  yet.There were other places that needed their help more urgently.In the Lord Dragon's newly founded Empire there was much starving mouth that needed to be fed,and so every farmer was given a land to grow food.Sea Folk windfinders and some Aes Sedai and Kin were ordered by Lord Dragon himself to help sustaining the perfect weather for growing plants.

There was no use in complaining,he was happy that he is still alive after all that happened

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Ghina did not act like the confident Wise One that GrandpaG had gotten used to.  The discovery that Shellee was a darkfriend had thrown them both for a loop.  Ghina said that she did not blame GrandpaG for planting his knife in Shellee's throat but she still looked at him strangely sometimes in an almost blaming way.  How could she blame him?  There had been no time to think.  React.  That was all the time that they had time for.  Or, maybe Ghina felt "Toh" because she had shielded the fiend?  Aiel could be funny about that kind of thing.  But that was past news, now.  What was done could not be undone.  Today's worry was that Ghina did not decide to let it slip that she worked for the "Great Lord of the Dark" like Shellee had.


Picking up the pieces of what was left of Rhuidean was a monumental task.  There was no government.  No organization to take control.  No TV, so there could be no telethon asking for aide.  The few Wise Ones and Clan Chiefs that remained or who had wandered in after the battle were far from united in their effort to begin the rebuild.  None of them had any real ties to this place other than the common ground of the glass columns.  Those were very well protected, indeed.  Nobody was allowed near them without a chief or wise one present.  Even Roy.


Roy had spoken with Al'Thor about what took place inside the columns.  Apparently the lad had not been too outspoken and Roy only had sketchy details.  Ghina wouldn't speak of them at all.  In fact, she stared daggers at the mention of the topic.  Roy did say that the Song could be heard in there.  And, he said that the ancient stories about the Green Man growing crops were true.  What a wonderful thing it would be if somehow that practice could be resurrected from the Age of Legends.  But Roy said the Green Man had been killed in the Blight.


"Need.".  Ghina looked as if someone had strangled the word out of her.  She could not have blushed a deeper shade of red and she appeared to be trying to find some way of rewinding time beyond the point that she had uttered it.  How could that one word be such a great secret?  GrandpaG just had to know.


"Yes?  Go on.", he tried to urge her without seeming pushy or desperate.  "What do you mean...'NEED'?".


Ghina looked around to be sure that they were alone.  Then she looked at Roy as if actually wondering whether or not she could trust him.  Not trusting an Ogier was like not trusting ...uuhhmmm ...an OGIER, for crying out loud!  "Sometimes, dream walkers use 'need' to find what they seek.  In the world of dreams.  Water.  Shelter.  A lost child.  Perhaps Roy could use something similar to find the Green Man?".


Roy nodded.  "An Aes Sedai friend told me once that she believed that the Green Man could only be found if the need was great enough.  The problem is that I don't feel that it is really necessary for me to relocate him.  It seems to me to be more of a want than it is a need."  GrandpaG nodded in agreement.  It was not vital that they find the Green Man.  They were not even sure that he could be revived.


Ghina shook her head in the negative quite emphatically.  "No.  You are WRONG, young Ogier!  This is NOT a mere fancy that you are chasing.  You NEED to find the Nym.  I have seen the dance and the song in the columns.  I have watched the Ogier singing with the Daishan while the Nym danced.  I have witnessed the miracle of the growth of new crops before my very eyes!  Our new age will NEED this ability in order to overcome the devastation of the Last Battle.  No.  This is NOT want.  This is NEED!".  She shook her head in the affirmative.  There could be no argument against her logic.  She was a confident Wise One once again.

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Sahandra practically staggered as she entered the ruins of Rhuidean with the Lost One Jake.  She had pushed him hard to get here.  For being a soft wetlander, he had done fairly well at keeping up with her.  And he had kept her warm on many a cold night.  Not as warm as her spear sister would have, but still he had done well.  And for what?  Now they are here.  They have completed their journey.  Why?  Just to find a blackened pile of rubble?  This could not be happening.


Not far from the burned outskirts of the city, they came upon a bubbling fountain.  Neither of them hesitated.  They quickly crawled into the midst of the falling water and let it sooth them.  There was no shame to be felt for the two of them were the only ones to see such behavior and since they were both participating that made it OK.  Besides.  It felt SO good!  She took a huge drink and let the excess run down her cheeks.  Anywhere but here that would have been considered wasteful.  This used to be the city of clan chiefs and wise ones.  Maybe they kept it secret because of the water?


Jake and her had barely climbed out of the fountain and begun to drip dry when she spotted movement nearby.  She grabbed Jake and forced him down to hide beside her behind the fountain.  Peeking cautiously over the rim, she could make out three shapes in the shadows nearby.  One of them was big enough to be a trolloc!  Maybe they were still here!  She readied an arrow on her bow.


"Wait.", Jake whispered.  "That looks like an Ogier, not a trolloc.".  The fool had almost half of his head exposed above the rim of the fountain.  He was going to give them away for sure.  "And the old man looks like a gleeman.  Is that woman a wise one?".


Sahandra had to admit that the Lost One had a good set of eyes.  She caught the flutter of some patches on the old man's cloak.  And that did look like jewelry hanging around the neck of the woman in Aiel clothing.  Bracelets.  Yes.  A Wise One.  Feeling slight Toh toward the Lost One for overlooking those details, Sahandra offered him a slight smile and nod.  The blamed fool grinned back at her in a most shameful manner.  She would enjoy beating him for that someday.  But, that was for later.  "We should approach them.  They might have news to share.", she told the ignorant lad.

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OOC: By the way, is this set after the last battle?





I'm not sure.  My gut tells me that the Last Battle could still be in progress but winding down maybe?  In a way it makes sense that you should not rebuild until you're done tearing down.  Another part of me says that rebuilding can begin before it's all over.  Maybe mankind is so tired of fighting that they just want to be done with it all so that they can get back to living normally?  During the trolloc wars and the hundred year wars I'm sure that several newly rebuilt structures were newly destroyed as fast as they were put up.  I would like to see it end with the beginning of the new age.  I guess it would be up to the person doing the posting.  I'm not sure.

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"Are you positive that this is what you want to do?", Ghina asked while glancing back and forth between Sahandra and Jake.  "This has never been attempted before.  Entering alone is trial enough.  Taking a Lost One with you could be...deadly.".  This time she stared at Sandy waiting for a reaction.  Jake held his head high defiantly staring at the overbearing Wise One as she openly ignored him.


"I have no fear of this thing.", Sandy replied calmly.  "Jake and I have come far to do this thing together.  It needs to be done.  I have Toh that can be met no other way.  He seeks the Lost Song for his People.  We have no choice.  If the Pattern wills that we awaken today, so be it.".  Her attitude said that she did not expect that to happen.


Jake had to smile.  Sandy had stood up for him in a way.  They had developed a unique relationship over the course of the past few weeks.  Perhaps, if they came out of this thing alive, they just might learn to be more than friends?  Just because she enjoyed the company of other women didn't mean that she would not enjoy being with him.  Time would tell.  First things first.  He took a deep breath and turned to face the gleeman.


"You are a brave man, Jake.", GrandpaG said to him.  "Of all of the People who the Dragon Reborn visited, you will be first to test his theory that the Song can be learned in this place.  If you succeed, it is possible that a part of the Age of Legends can be regained.  A part that we desperately need to rebuild what has been destroyed.  I wish for you complete success and a speedy return.  May the Light illumine your path.".  The gleeman completed his speech with a sweeping bow and a ruffling flourish of his cloak.  Jake nodded back respectfully.


(gotta go watch grandkids...TO BE CONTINUED).

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Like a couple of young children heading off to pick berries, Jake and Sahandra joined hands and strode casually...confidently...into the mass of glass columns.  Jake hoped that Sandy couldn't feel the sweat in his palm.  And if she did, he hoped that she would think that it was just from the heat.  He really did want to be brave.  For her.  She always seemed to have so much self-confidence and self-control.  Even though she could sometimes be on the bossy side, overall he admired her strength.


As they got further into the columns, his steps grew shorter and less confident.  He didn't really hesitate, but he didn't hurry, either.  He tried very hard to avoid looking to Sandy for reassurance.  After all that they had gone through to make it this far, now was NOT the time for him to ruin it all by being "a soft wetlander".  With determination driving him, he took another step.






Taking one last glance back toward the wise one Ghina, Sahandra took Jake by the hand and headed into the columns.  It was good to feel that his palm was sweating as much as hers.  She did not want him to think that she held more fear of doing this than he did.  Had his palm been dry she would have felt much shame.  Just as two maidens would head out to hunt lion on a bright sunny day, the two of them headed into the unknown inside the columns.


Sahandra could not get over how her feelings toward this Lost One had changed since they first met.  When she first saw him running and screaming in that area so thick with trees she thought that he must be full of fear and that he just had to be weak.  The journey from there to here had been difficult and he had complained very little.  He did seem squeamish about her taste for rabbit, but that was to be expected of one who does not eat meat.  Overall, he showed great strength.  He was not what she had first judged him to be.  As far as men go, he might be one of the finest that she had ever met.


And now, here they were entering the glass columns of Rhuidean together.  Ghina had explained that until now this had been a rite reserved for Aiel wishing to become a clan chief or a wise one.  She had not been specific about what to expect, but she had warned that only the strongest survived.  Many never returned.  "Everyone awakens from the dream some day.", she had responded to Ghina bravely.  At this moment as they got far enough into the columns that they could no longer see where they had come from Sahandra wished that she could recapture some of that bravery.

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"I don't know, Yak.", Dat said to his brother who was squirting some molten animal fat onto one of the wooden bearings to provide some lubrication.  "We might have to consider asking for more money.  This wooden prototype just isn't telling the whole story.  If we could spend a little more to have some metal parts made, I'm sure that it would work better.  Anyway.  The Lord Dragon said that he liked our idea.  That should free up the purse strings some.".


Dat frowned at the smoking bearing.  He was certain that metal would be better.  Getting the money from the Academy to buy what they needed was not such a certainty.  Even if they were the famous "Sun brothers" did not mean that master Lorisium would allot the funds they needed.  Sometimes that old man could be tighter than the bark on a tree.  Why couldn't he see that this new river craft would revolutionize the trade?






The rhythm of the large wooden paddles hitting the water was like music to Dat's ears.  As a child he had dreamed of a faster way to haul cargo up river.  Trade cogs could make decent way going down stream with the current.  Trying to sail against that same current was slow at best.  Even the fast ships that the Sea Folk had did not do well going upstream.  But this boat of his dreams did very well.  At least, he thought that it would work if he could get beyond the testing stage and actually build a working version.


Using oxen to drive the paddle wheels was another issue that caused his stomach to churn.  They required large amounts of hay and fresh water which both took up valuable cargo space and added to the weight to be moved.  Yak had suggested that they try to use that new steam contraption that "The Crazy Man" was trying to use to propel his wagon in place of horses.  Dat didn't even want to think about how much wood would be needed to keep that thing going.  That would be just as bad as hauling oxen.


Something in the back of his mind kept trying to come to the front but couldn't quite make it.  It had something to do with the time that he had found a spot where lightning had struck the stinky black goo that puddled in the bog near where he and Yak had grown up.  The bog had almost burned up.  That slippery goo made a hot flame.  Maybe there was a way to harness that heat?  It would be great if Yak Sun and Dat Sun could find the answers needed to make this new river craft work efficiently.  There just had to be an answer.

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"I'm sorry, master gleeman, but I don't think that this is going to work.", Roy almost mumbled.  With Ogier voices being as deep as they were it was hard to tell if Roy was mumbling or not.  "Perhaps we should try to find a Portal Stone instead?".  His ears twitched nervously.  He obviously did not have fond memories of his prior use of Portal Stones.  That was fine with GrandpaG.  He had absolutely NO experience with them and was in no large hurry to try something new right now.


Ghina made her offering in a most unusually subdued manner.  "Maybe if we worked together like we did to form the dome of air?".  She almost blushed.  She acted as if something intimate had taken place during that linking.  GrandpaG did not remember anything sensual.  Maybe her experience had been different?  That was all another topic for another day.  Right now, they needed to find the Green Man.  That thought sparked an old idea anew.


"Ghina.  You said something about dreaming and 'NEED'.  Is there some way that you and I could send Roy into the world of dreams to use his 'need'?  Would that work better?".  Ghina turned white as a gaishain's robe.  "NO!!!", she all but screamed.  "That is NEVER done!  One does NOT enter the world of dreams in the flesh...EVER!!!".  She glared back and forth between GrandpaG and Roy until she was sure that they both got her point.  Then she nodded in self-satisfaction.


"I was just trying to offer help.".  GrandpaG tried to sound sincere and rueful at the same time.


Roy appeared to be thinking very hard.  He was purposely not looking toward Ghina.  After several silent moments, he looked up.  "Maybe it's different now.".  He paused and thought some more.  "Maybe I would NOT have to have NEED to find him.".  Some more patient silence and thought.  "Before, he moved around.  Now, his tree is stationary.  It might not move.  It might be right where we left him.  Anyone who can find that place should be able to find the tree.  Yes!  I believe that it might just be different now!".


Ogier are normally very calm and do not get excited easily, but young Roy seemed to be getting more enthusiastic about his idea.  As he went on his ears twitched more and more rapidly until they practically fluttered.  He really did believe that he was on the right track.


"Would you be able to lead us there?", GrandpaG asked.  "I can make a gateway to most anywhere at all, but it would help to have some idea of where we are going.  The idea of blindly channeling into the Blight does not seem wise to me.  Hard telling where you could end up and who might sense the weaves.".  GrandpaG gulped at that last thought.  "I think that being ready to form a really big link of men and women might not be a bad idea.".  He glanced at Ghina to see if she caught his drift.  She did.


"I could probably get you very close to where we camped beside the lakes and towers in what used to be the kingdom of Malkeri.  From there, I could guess at the direction and distance to where I sang to the Green Man's tree.  WAIT!  THAT'S IT!!!".  Roy was excited again.

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Blacksmiths are similar to Wise Ones when it comes to battles.  They normally stay to one side and do not get involved.  But this battle had been different from any that Jerodile had ever witnessed before.  This battle had not been between clans or septs.  This battle had been against shadow beasts.  That in itself made it acceptable for him to get involved.  And that was just what he had done.


Rhuidean had not been his roof for long, but it was still precious to him.  There had been a time long ago that he had considered following a different path through this dream.  As a young man he had thought of some day making the trip to Rhuidean to see if he had the right stuff for becoming a chief.  Lorina's wedding wreath dropping at his feet changed all of that.  She wanted to be wed to a blacksmith.  He wanted her.  He became a blacksmith.  Simple logic.  Now, they lived here in Rhuidean.  Or at least in what was left of it.


His own forge had been totally demolished during the fighting but he had been able to salvage some of the metal pieces to aid the rebuilding process.  This time, instead of building near the outskirts of the city which were the first to fall to the trollocs, he chose a site closer to the center of the city.  From here he could see the Tree of Life, The Glass Columns, and the wide divided avenue running the length of the city to the lake in the far distance.  This would be a good place to practice his chosen profession.


Nearby, a multitude of men wearing black clothing were wielding the One Power to help some Ogier build an ornate palace that would replace the demolished Roof of the Maidens.  It seemed to be a waste of time and material.  The maidens usually demanded little.  They were a practical bunch for the most part.  As long as their roof did not leak they were happy.  But, they now carried the honor of that awful Al'Thor heathen so they should have at least some privilege.


As he watched some of those Ashamen performing their tasks he could almost sense what they were doing.  At times he could have sworn that he also SAW the power that they were using.  But, that was impossible.  In order for that to happen he would have to be able to channel and if that was the case he would have long since gone crazy and headed off for the Blight.  Naw.  He couldn't learn to channel.  Not as old as he was now.  Could he?  ::)

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Sahandra could still see Jake but it was like looking through the heat rising from a fire.  She still held his hand.  That felt distorted, too.  Something about these columns made things appear to be different.  Her own footsteps were totally silent and she could barely sense the ground under her feet.  At times it felt as if she were walking on Air.  Maybe she would need to get some new boots when all of this was over and done?  Maybe.


She turned her gaze away from Jake and looked in front of her.  She reached for her belt knife then realized that it had been left behind with the rest of her weapons.  Her feet and fists were all that she had available to defend herself.  She normally relied heavily upon her awareness of her surroundings as a protection against surprise attacks.  Here, that awareness seemed fuzzy.  Dull.  She could not focus.  Kinda like drinking too much oosquai.  Only different.  The image of the lion in front of her became gradually clearer.  But, she felt as if she was no longer Sahandra but someone else.  Indeed.  She was Donella...her mother's mother.  And she was still a Maiden of the Spear.


Donella signaled Trysdal to move around to the other flank of the lion.  From there they would have the beast in a cross fire.  Their arrows would pierce it from both directions and it would not know which enemy to attack.  Trysdal smiled behind her veil and nodded ever so slightly before beginning her move.  Today's hunt would be a success.  Donella smiled.




Jake couldn't smell Sandy any more.  Strange that he should realize that of all things.  She was all blurry as if his eyes had gone out of focus.  He could barely tell that he still held her hand.  All of his senses seemed to be working at half speed or something.  For the hundredth time he considered turning around and running back the way that he had come from.  But, for the hundredth time he took another step forward instead.


He was sort of feeling his way along.  It was like walking in an unfamiliar river.  Feeling with the toe of your boot to tell if there was a rock where you were about to step down.  The one time that he had tried to look down at his feet had made him dizzy enough that he knew that he would NOT do that again.  Shuffling forward he took one last fuzzy glance at Sandy then looked in front of him.


Tears formed immediately in Jake's eyes.  The scene before him was sadness in it's purest form.  An entire group of wagons of the People was blackened or burning.  Bodies clad in brightly colored cloth were scattered everywhere.  Dogs.  Mules.  Oxen.  Horses.  Men.  Women.  Children.  Every living thing except him.  But, it wasn't him.  He was seeing through the eyes of Jamus, his father's father.  Jamus had seen the trouble coming and had ran.  Now, he and the few others who had escaped had to take care of those who had not.

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Sahandra felt Jake's hand tighten on hers.  She turned to look at him.  His eyes were red and full of tears.  She squeezed his hand to reassure him.  He turned his face to her and smiled sadly.  She nodded.  He turned back to what he had been looking at.  His eyes widened and he crouched down as if to hide.  His grip on her hand grew tighter.  She crouched, too, but could see nothing in front of Jake.  After a few seconds, she turned her gaze back in front of her.


The scene had changed.  Instead of her being her mother's mother on a lion hunt, she was now Jake's father's father.  Somehow, through Jake's memory, she could almost remember what the very old man had looked like before he awakened from his dream.  She could also feel Jake's sense of loss.  And this man was looking at a scene of slaughter.  Lost Ones lie motionless everywhere.  All of their wagons had been looted and burned.  Even the children had not been spared or taken Gaishain.  There was no Ji earned by those who had done this.  Great shame would follow them forever.


Jamus.  That was who Sahandra had become.  A young Tuatha'an who was now without a group.  Or a family.  Or a wagon.  The last of his band.  WAIT!  NO!  He was NOT the last!  From several directions he could make out brightly clothed People making their way back toward the wagons!  The Light be praised.  There would be someone to help him with the bodies of those who had not ran quickly or fast enough.  Someone to help with salvaging whatever could be salvaged from the remains of the wagons.  Someone to help rebuild.  Someone to share memories with.  Someone to carry on the search for the Song.  A remnant of what had been.




Sandy's gentle squeeze of his hand and reassuring nod made Jake feel better for the moment.  He still felt the deep sadness that his "ottbah" had known so long ago.  But he also knew that his father's father had awakened from his dream after many, many happy years following the Way of the Leaf.  The massacre had been part of the Pattern's design to make Jamus strong.  Feeling somewhat relieved, Jake turned back to facing forward again.


The shock of what he saw sent him to his knees.  There, not fifty paces from him, was a LION!  The burning wagons were gone.  The carnage was gone.  In it's place was this HUGE lion!  And the scenery was different, too.  He and this lion appeared to be somewhere in the Aiel Waste.  Reflexively, he reached up slowly to be sure that his veil was still raised.  Wait a minute.  Not HIS veil...HER veil!  Jake realized that he was seeing through the eyes of Sahandra's mother's mother!


She wore cadinsor.  She felt absolutely no fear from being so near to this beast.  She had been on many successful lion hunts in the past.  It was routine.  Just part of her job.  And, she was not alone.  She could now see her partner giving the signal that she was in position.  Donella signaled back to open fire on the count of three.  One.  Two.  Three.  She quickly drew, aimed, and released the arrow that she had already placed on the string earlier.  Knowing that her arrow would find it's mark, she quickly placed another, drew, aimed, and released.


The great beast lunged skyward and reached back with it's front paws to try to claw the first two arrows free...one from Donella, one from Trysdal.  The second arrows from each shooter found their marks as the cat reached it's zenith upward.  Landing on it's feet, the lion tried to roar but made more of a howling sound as the third arrow from each hunter struck home.  Wearing a pattern of three arrow points and three bloody arrow tips protruding from both front shoulders, the mighty hunter realized that it was now the prey.  Still reaching to try to remove the arrows, it fell to the ground.


The arrows had been placed very well.  The animal did not suffer long.  Causing this great hunter a shameful agonizing death had not been the reason for this mission.  There was no Ji to be earned by such actions.  This was pure economics and survival.  Goats were a primary source of food, fibers, and water skins.  If the lion was allowed to kill the goats for food, the Aiel would suffer.


This successful mission did earn Donella and Trysdal some Ji.  They would also both wear fine new lion skin boots, have strong new string improvements for their bows from it's tendons, and each would receive a souvenir ear from the Wise One Denora that would be displayed proudly as a necklace.  Many bellies would delight tonight as they welcomed some delicious lion stew.  Very little of the animal would go to waste.  Donella smiled and lowered her veil.  This would be a day to remember.



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"Yes, Lord Dragon.  It shall be as you command.".


Carumba bowed as elegantly and deeply as possible.  Even though he was now a High Lord in the newly reorganized kingdom of Tear, he still was not used to being around a man who could channel.  He had witnessed with his own eyes what that kind of beast was capable of.  The Stone.  The mighty everlasting Stone of Tear.  Gone.  Nothing but a heap of shattered bits for the scroungers to haul away one chunk at a time.  Male channelers had made fast and easy work of demolishing the Stone early into the Last Battle.  Filthy mongrels.


Now that the dust had settled and the Last Battle had moved elsewhere, Car and his fellow High Lords were tasked with cleaning up the mess.  The King was busy with "other priorities".  Rebuilding Tear was left for the "lower stations" to manage.  Which, actually, was just as well.  This new king had no real experience with the intrigues of the Tear nobility.  He didn't know what it really took to get things done quickly and right.  He knew how to "entertain"...especially that wench of a witch that he hung around with.  Oh, well.  If she kept him occupied, he couldn't cause trouble.


Today's visit by the Al'Thor lad had been quite disturbing.  Normally Car could maneuver around the youngling quite easily.  Even with that awful Ta'veren thing tugging at him.  But, not today.  This time the boy had almost made sense in what he demanded.  A common currency.  One that would be accepted everywhere, including Seanchan and Shara.  That could be advantageous.  Hard to implement, maybe.  But, if it could be made real, it could be handy.


Naming this currency after a bird was NOT Car's idea.  It actually didn't matter what the stuff was called, but named for a bird for crying out loud?  And such a sad bird at that.  LOON.  Why did the kid pick a loon as the symbol for his new coin?  He could have called them dragons.  They could have had the ancient Aes Sedai symbol on one side and that sinuous creature on the other.  But a loon?  With an olive branch on the back?  Oh, well.  The good would out weigh the bad.


It would take some careful planning to compute what the exchange rate would be.  Probably the Tar Valon pieces would change for the highest amount of loons.  In the old days, Tairen gold would have ranked second.  Nowadays it will probably be Andoran or possibly Kandori.  Car would have to research the Seanchan gold weights to see where they would fit in.  They might even be worth twice as much.  Double-loons.  Doubloons.  ;D

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"THERE!!!  OVER THERE!!!  I told you that it would work!".  Roy almost drooled from the excitement.  He was bobbing up and down and pointing with that huge sausage of a finger.  If he kept on this way, every worm in the blight would be here shortly.  GrandpaG had to find a way to calm him down pronto.


"Yes.  So it is.  You were right, Roy.  I see it.  Please.  Settle down a little, will you?".  The old gleeman glanced around nervously.  The plant growth here was enough to give any sane person the creeps not to mention some of the animals.  That giant crow with the head of a snake had almost caught them by surprise.  Ghina had made short work of it but her channeling could have been a homing beacon for who knows what kind of witch.  "Lead the way.  And try to tramp down as much of this...stuff...as you can, please.".


As a precaution, Ghina was leading a link that GrandpaG had entered along with a volunteer Ashaman who said that he was tired of helping the Ogier rebuilding effort and needed some real action.  Ghina had brought along a "few" wise ones to help.  Like, maybe thirty?  They were in the link, too.  GrandpaG couldn't tell which one of the link members kept glancing at his buns but he enjoyed the attention.


The string of gateways had brought them surprisingly close to their mark.  Going strictly on "that way a few miles" directions from Roy, the group had skipped across the blight to this location.  Roy would let out a low-pitched moaning sound that he claimed echoed back to his ears from the massive oak tree that he had sung to after it grew from the Green Man's acorn.  It had not been precise but now that they were here it proved to be accurate.  The giant lone tree was in sight.  GrandpaG's heart skipped a beat just thinking about what this could lead to.

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Jake's grasp on Sahandra's hand was so tight that it almost hurt.  He stared at her with eyes that were opened very wide.  His expression reflected shock.  Obviously, he had seen the lion hunt and was still unable to fully accept it's necessity.  She, herself was having trouble with the emotions that she had experienced while she was viewing the massacre of the Lost Ones.  The feeling of being alone had been very unnerving.  In all of her life, even after a major battle, she had never had to worry about being the last survivor.  She tightened her own grip on Jake's hand and drew him nearer to her.


They stood staring at one another for several long moments.  Actually, it was hard to tell how long they stood there.  Time did not feel the same in this place as it did at home.  There was no sun to check.  She felt no need for sleep or food or water.  There were no other people to see.  The only things that existed were her, Jake, and the visions.  Time did not matter.  Jake stared at her and she stared at him.  They had plenty of time.


After a while Jake's expression softened.  He acted like he wanted to speak but couldn't.  Sahandra tried speaking.  She couldn't.  There had not been any reason to teach Jake Maiden Hand Talk.  What they had to say to each other would just have to wait.  She pulled him closer still until they were standing side by side.  He smiled meekly at her and she returned a small smile.  They blinked simultaneously.  When Sahandra finished her blink she was in a new vision.  Jake was still by her side, she thought.  That notion gave her courage.


Lustrina had always been a good girl.  Spirited.  Mischievous.  Never bad.  She had too much pride to do something that would bring shame to her or her family.  Tonight was no different than any other night.  There was no reason for her to do something tonight that was shameful.  But, it happened.


She woke from a frightening dream, wet with sweat.  Most of the dream was gone except for vivid fragments that she soon discarded on purpose.  With no hope of going back to sleep soon and having a very strong thirst from the loss of all of that sweat, she got up and went outside to get a drink from her water skin.  When she tipped it up she remembered that she had intended to refill it earlier in the evening but had been interrupted and then forgot to do it later.  Offering a less than pleasant oath, she headed down the path toward the water well.


Partly because she was in a hurry and shivering terribly and partly because she didn't think that it would do any harm, instead of going all of the way down to the well she stopped part way down in front of the roof of Dromira.  Dromira had her water skin hanging out in the cold just as everyone else did.  Lustrina did not think that Dromira would mind if she took just enough to allow her to go back to bed.  Just as she tipped it back down from getting her drink, she felt a hand grabbing her shoulder from behind.


Her first reflex was to strike with the belt knife that was quickly drawn and held tightly in her hand.  It was a good thing that she decided to see the face of her assailant first.  Besides, she had no veil.  As she spun and knelt to a good springing position she looked up and saw Rodejar the Red Arm.  She sighed in relief and replaced her knife to her belt.  "You startled me.", she told him.


"You will accompany me to tell Rose of your crime.".  His voice held no emotion.  He did not try to regain his hold on her.  He simply turned and led the way.  There was no doubt in his mind that she would follow.  And she did follow.  To do otherwise would be very shameful.  Lustrina never did anything to bring shame.  Soon she and Rodejar were in the main room of the wise one waiting for the gaishan to bring her to them.


"You know the penalty for stealing water.", Rose stated unemotionally.  Rose was Lustrina's mother's mother.  "Remove your clothing.  Take one skin of water.  Leave this hold never to return.".  The judgment was final.  No explanation was asked for.  It would have brought great shame for Lustrina to plead for mercy or to offer an explanation.  What was done was done.  The price must be paid.




Jake still couldn't believe what he had just witnessed and felt.  PRIDE!  He had experienced satisfaction after killing.  Justification.  It all just did not make any sense at all.  There was NEVER a valid reason for killing.  Yet, seeing through the eyes of Sandy's ancestor, he had felt that it was necessary.  By him, or rather her, killing that lion, her family could continue to survive in the Three Fold Land that tried to kill them every day.  Jake could not imagine what his expression must look like to Sandy.


She must have recognized his shock because after a few seconds she clutched his hand tighter and drew him closer to her.  He tried to tell her that she was hurting his hand but for some reason the words would not come out.  She must have realized what he was trying to say because she let up a little on her grip and moved closer until they were touching at the hip.  That felt better.  He smiled and she smiled back.  That was nice.  She blinked and so did he.


When he opened his eyes again, Jake was at a celebration.  There was a large campfire and it appeared that a huge feast had taken place for the evening meal.  There was music.  Laughter.  Dancing.  Oh, how he missed all of those things.  It seemed as if he had been away from the wagons for years!  Then he realized that these were not his wagons.  Some of them looked familiar, if painted differently, but the People were not his People.


He was Putrick.  These WERE his People.  Putrick Al'Racko was Mahdi to this group.  As of today.  All of the events leading to this moment came crashing back into Jake's memory as he began to see through Put's eyes.  He felt the weight of the entire Dragonwall slowly settling firmly on top of his shoulders.  A heaviness grew in his chest.  His palms sweated and his knees felt like they wanted to let him fall.


Two days ago the wagons had chosen this place to stop because there was a lake and a clear stream nearby along with a heavy growth of trees for shelter.  Others had camped here over the years with no troubles.  The Pattern had proven to have other plans for then Mahdi Jeremiah Rookes and his People.  Their stay would not be so pleasant.


Shortly after setting up camp, three heathens from a nearby farm came to tell Mahdi Jerry that the wagons were not welcome here and that they would have to leave.  Jerry had convinced them that his People would cause no harm and that they would leave at first light.  The men had breath that reeked of burned meat.  They must have washed it down with wine.  And their clothes smelled as if they had been worn for several days.  They were even more repulsive than most of the unclean ones.


That night, while everyone was enjoying the music and dancing, a daughter of one of the farmers snuck away from her house and came to the wagons.  She joined the fun and spoke with some of the young women her age.  By the end of the evening she did not want to leave.  She said that she would learn the Way of the Leaf and become one of the People if we would teach her.  None are turned away who wish to find the Song.  She stayed.


The next morning as we were making preparations to leave the three men returned carrying weapons.  This made Jerry's wife Terry anxious but Jerry reassured her that the Pattern would make everything well.  He went alone to find out what the men wanted.  The men insisted that Jerry return the one farmer's daughter to them.  Jerry explained that the Tuatha'an did not recruit new comers but that they did not turn away anyone.


The three men became very angry.  They had obviously been into the wine already this morning.  Two of them shouted terrible things.  The third stood, staggering, poking Jerry in the chest with his finger and slurring some unintelligible gibberish.  Jerry took it all with dignity.  He answered their challenges politely.  He stepped away from the poking finger.  He even helped the one poor fellow to regain his balance when he stumbled.  Patience and wisdom had always been some of Jerry's strong points.


When it finally appeared that a diplomatic solution would not be reached, Jerry informed the trio once more that the girl could stay with them if she so wished and he had one of the women bring her to within earshot.  When asked what she desired, the woman answered that she wanted to go with the wagons to learn the Way of the Leaf and to find the Song.  Before Jerry could turn back toward them, one of the wine soaked men lopped off his head with his sword.

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Thirty seven.  Thirty seven name days.  So very long.  And yet, those years had sped by Helen like clouds in a storm.  Sometimes it seemed that her service as Regalia's wind finder had lasted her entire life.  Other times she could clearly remember the first day that they had met.  And now, today, she had to say goodbye to her old friend.


Regalia had tried to keep her ship free of the world wide catastrophe that everyone was calling the Last Battle.  There was still honor and wealth to be earned by carrying needed goods from one port to another.  And that was what he had been built for.  He was a trading vessel, not a warship.  Regalia's sword master Gimp had done well by the crew.  He was a shrewd trader.  West Wind had been a good home.


Cooremor.  Caracarn.  Dragon.  Helen really didn't care what they called the madman who had caused all of this trouble.  Before he came along her world had been just right.  She guided West Wind gently to his next destination.  Gimp earned enough trading to give West Wind's crew a decent living.  They all had what they wanted and needed.  Then the giant whirlpool of this dragon person caused the world to spiral downward into the depths until it drowned at the bottom of the ocean.  Things could never be right again.


West Wind's crewmen hauled the gangplank back aboard.  Gimp stood beside Regalia looking toward Helen.  He offered a small sad wave.  Regalia did not.  She stood with her feet firmly planted on West Wind's planks and her hands firmly planted on her hips.  Her face was hard.  She was not happy to have her world torn out from under her, either.  Helen had served her well for a long time.  Not long for a wind finder, actually.  They often served for several hundred years.  They often outlived several fine ship mistresses.


Helen tried to smile but couldn't.  She did manage to return a small wave to Gimp.  And a wink to her favorite pillow partner.  It was all that she could do not to run and try to jump back on board.  Her heart pounded fiercely as West Wind inched away from the pier and slowly made his way back to sea where he belonged.  Helen quit trying to hold back her tears.  She deserved them.


"Are you Helen?", a young man asked her.  She nodded and begrudgingly turned away from West Wind to face him.  "I thought you must be since you were the only one who got off the ship.".  He smiled proudly.  "Welcome to Ebou Dar!", he announced as he bowed and presented the surrounding buildings to her with a long slow sweep of his arm.  "The ladies of the Kin are happy that you will be staying with them.  Elder Kareena said that she looks forward to talking with you.  She would have came herself, but she had other pressing matters.".  He made a cup around his mouth and whispered.  "The Seanchan.".  He nodded at her as if she fully understood what he meant.


"Lead the way, boy.  And don't waste any time.  I yearn to be done with this and back to where I belong.".  She saw in his expression that she had unleashed unnecessary wrath upon him.  "Forgive me.  I don't mean to be rude.  This is difficult for me.  Please.  Lead on.".  The lad recovered quickly and motioned for her to follow him.  It was good that she had a guide.  She was lost after the first few turns.


Just as Helen was beginning to think that they would never reach their destination, the boy turned into the doorway of a tall building.  The room inside felt like the common room of an inn.  Helen had been in some of those on occasion.  A maid saw the two of them enter and turned to enter a room at the back.  Shortly, she returned with a short, overweight, white-haired woman.  Helen could sense that the old woman could channel but that she was not strong in the One Power.


The old woman offered Helen a chair at a table then sat herself.  She introduced herself as Minnie.  She apologized that Kareena could not be there but assured her that the two of them could proceed just fine.  When refreshments had been properly placed, Minnie began explaining what the next few weeks or months would entail.


"The Seanchan do NOT like the idea of ANY woman who can channel being allowed to be free of one of those adam things.".  She shuddered.  "Filthy things THOSE are, believe you me!".  She scratched at her neck and shuddered again.  "But, after working here with us to try to defeat the shadow forces they have seen that most of us can be trusted.  They even offered to free some of their damane but most of them prefer to live the way that they have gotten used to.".  Another shudder.


"Anyway, to get to the point," she touched her neck again, "they have agreed to leave us to live our lives as we have for the past three thousand years provided that we prove to them that we can be trusted.  When you have achieved their trust, you will receive this.".  Minnie pulled up her blouse sleeve to expose a tattoo at her upper heavy muscle near her shoulder showing a raven clutching a lightning bolt.


"This is NOT an easy thing to earn, I must say.".  She drifted off into deep thought for several seconds.  Helen imagined that she was remembering the price that she had paid for her freedom.  "But, it does keep the peace.  And it allows us to live freely.  Somewhat.  If you want to be allowed to rejoin your crew and continue your craft then it is indeed best for you to pay your dues.".


Helen could hold back her anger no longer.  "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS!!!  What kind of Amyrlin Seat would ever agree to such a thing!  We who find the wind have stayed to ourselves for all of these centuries and now we will be no better than puppets to the Seanchan and the White Tower!  The temptation to FIGHT is STRONG!!!".  Helen found it hard to resist the urge to bring the weather finding One Power into herself.


Minnie looked down at the table then raised her head and stared Helen straight in the eye.  Her own temper was beginning to surface.  "Watch your tongue, girl!  This has been EASY for NONE of us!".  She took a deep breath then exhaled slowly.  "The world is changing.  Things will NEVER be the same as they were.  Some, such as the new Emperess, may she live forever, and the new Amyrlin Seat believe that we will soon enter a wonderful new age and that these changes will be needed.  Our descendants will accept them as normal."


Helen was still not happy.  She did not crave change.  Her old world had been just fine.  What did SHE care about the Emperess or the Amyrlin or a new age?  All she wanted was to guide West Wind safely to his next port.  That life was fine with her.  But, the first time that a Seanchan patrol pulled them over and she had no tattoo, West Wind would be taken into custody and the entire crew would suffer.  What could not be changed had to be endured.

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OOC: Since the Last Siege thread is locked, i will continue Pherno's storyline here, as i had planned.


IC: The man staggered across the dusty waste. Who was he? What was he? He thought to himself. where was he? The last thing he remembered was a blinding flash of light and waking up in the middle of tis dusty plain. Wait, no.... something was coming back to him... but it was vague... misty..


He was powerful, he killed many enemies... he was standing over a fallen enemy general... an important one, who he remembered hating for some reason... the man raised his hand.... he was unarmed... how did he kill without weapons? Suddenly there was a blinding flash of multi-coloured light, coming from the north.... he remembered feeling a great void inside him... like something important had been ripped from him... he was shocked... people cheering... people screaming... the man had screamed as fire surged through his veins.... there had been another blinding flash.... then... nothing.


How odd, the man thought to himself. The dust spread as far as the eye could see in all directions, broken only be the occasionally rock pile or withered tree. No, wait... there was a dark patch on the horizon! He could see towers... faintly. He was so, so thirsty. If he could reach the city, maybe they would help him! Breaking into a staggered run, the man headed for the city, and what he hoped would be his salvation.

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