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A Bond of Redemption (attn. Myrrhi Aes Sedai)


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Myrrhi smiled at her reflection. She turned a last time in front of the tall mirror that decorated her bedroom, then gave a small tug at her skirts.


She had put on the riding dress she had bought the day before. To have gotten it on time was a small miracle. Usually, it took a couple of days to get a dress properly fitted but the seamstress she had visited had been so happy to have the chance to work  for an Aes Sedai that the poor woman had worked the whole night to get her master work ready by early morning.


She had sent the package to the Tarasin Palace, ordering the delivery boy to give the precious dress to Myrrhi Sedai and Myrrhi Sedai only. The young woman had fought not to laughed when the poor kid presented himself at her door, shaking like a leaf and asking a proof that the lady in front of him was indeed Myrrhi Sedai and no one else.


She had shown her Serpent ring and reminded the boy that Aes Sedai couldn’t lie. Still, she had had to glare at the boy to make him abandon his parcel in her hands.


The dress had been designed to be comfortable even during travels on horse back. The sleeves were not too tight and the cleavage not too low, so that Myrrhi could bow on her horse without fearing that anyone would see things they weren’t supposed to. The skirts were wide enough to cover her legs when she would be riding. And on top of it, its colors made it even more special. The shade of green of its fabric was so close to the blue that sometimes, depending in the light, it was hard to guess its exact color.


It’s time to go, she though after a while. She fastly braided her hair and set herself on her way. Elessar would be waiting for her. They had agreed on the fact that they had to talk and decided that the best way to do it would be to go on a ride.


Far away from the city and prying eyes…




The path to the Golden Seagul’s stables was familiar to the young woman. She had come to the inn a couple of times now, and it was enough for her to move without having to think about what turns to take.  


She felt calm. The many hours she had spent in the Palace library with and without Deana had helped her. They had allowed her to see her situation from a different perspective.


As a Sister of the Battle Ajah, she couldn’t be mined by a single refusal. She was a fighter ! Or a least, she was supposed to be.


I am Aes Sedai ! I’ll cry for no one !




As expected, Elessar was waiting for her in the stables. He’s always the first one to arrive, Myrrhi commented to herself as she thought back about their previous meetings, lessons, appointments, …


It made her smile fondly at him as his eyes met hers. The Warder smiled back and they greeted each other. To her surprise, Elessar seemed to feel less comfortable than she was. It made her want to question him but she decided to wait a bit. The stables were definitely not the kind of place for an Aes Sedai and a Warder to talk about their private life.


« Stormbreaker ! » Myrrhi said with a smile as she advanced towards the Gaidin horse to give him a big rub on the nose. « I have missed you, » she said tenderly.


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  • Elessar


.. Betrayal of a Sacred Duty and Heartwrenching Guilt  ..



Myrrhi’s warm smile made him smile fondly back, though he was unable to fully hide his inner apprehension at their ‘talk’ that was to come. It was good to see her though, as always, and he tried to put his concerns away, at least for the moment.


She was wearing an elegant, stylish green riding-dress, he thought, that suited her well. Her Blue eyes sparkled as they often did, perhaps masking her inner thoughts - he could not know - but he saw kindness in those eyes, above all else, and, perhaps, a portal into her soul.


He smiled when he saw the young Aes Sedai greet his warhorse in an affectionate manner, giving Stormbreaker a big rub on the nose and whispering how much she had missed him. It made a huge contrast to the time before he had taught her horseriding, and to care for horses, the Gaidin thought pensively. Back then, she would not willingly have come within ten yards of a horse.


Soon she sat atop her own horse, reins in hand, and Elessar mounted Stormbreaker, ready to set off. They exchanged a quick silent glance, the Gaidin nodded once and then they headed down the street, away from the ‘Golden Seagull’ inn, moving along in slow, measured steps toward the city centre.



Elessar and Myrrhi left the city behind, riding slowly westward past the cliffs where the Warder had spent some time in serious contemplation not that long ago, and toward a secluded woodland area a little further inland. It was a very small forest area, so small in fact that it was often omitted on regional maps, but it suited his purposes well. He hoped it might remind Myrrhi of the woods outside Tar Valon where he had taught her how to ride, putting her at some ease. Likewise he hoped the wood sounds and smells and memories of their time together would calm him a little as well, making their coming.. ‘talk’ a little easier to handle.


The weather was lovely, the sun shining down on them from a sapphire-blue sky, with only a soft wind coming in from the east, and the pleasant ride appeared to soothe them both. Elessar rode slightly ahead of the young woman, as had been their normal practice before, keeping a vigilant eye on their surroundings as he rode. Stormbreaker, jubilant to be outside and in activity again, was in a frisky mood so he had to keep him under control using the reins and his legs. The mare that Myrrhi rode was calmer in temperament and the Aes Sedai seemed to manage the riding well from what the Gaidin could see. They passed a few other locals along the main road, men and women on their way to and from the city, and at one point an opulent brown carriage drawn by four white horses rushed by - some local Nobleman or other on his way to an errand no doubt - but for much of the ride the road was empty.


Some time later, with the sun a little further along in its daily path in the sky, they left the road and rode down an adjacent path that soon lead to a wooded area. Taking a side-path that lead somewhat northwards they picked up speed, cantering along beneath tall trees and amid bushes and sprouts, taking some small pleasure in all the signs of nature around them. Finally they came to a halt in a small clearing in the woods, a grassy area with only a few interspersed smaller trees and bushes, surrounded at a distance by taller oaks. Elessar dismounted quickly and tethered his horse to one of the nearer trees and watched the Aes Sedai do the same.


Aes Sedai. He thought contemplatively. Yes, she is is one now.. And she is a little older, a bit more self-confident, a bit more sure-of-step. But in many ways, she is just like I remember her when we first met those years ago.


Indicating that she should follow him, he lead the way toward a grassy mound a little way off. There he sat down and she sat down beside him. He breathed in the clear forest air and tried to assemble his thoughts. Though the woods calmed him a little, the wariness inside him was there, everpresent, almost like a shadow waiting to spring.



The silence between them stretched, almost as if each was fearful of breaking the calm. The safe haven of non-speaking. Elessar picked up a few long grass straws in his hands and ran his fingers along their smooth surface. A birdcall could be heard from up in the taller trees some way off, a lark Elessar thought absentmindedly. He broke one of the straws in half and looked at the two separate parts. He held them together so they became almost one again. Almost unbroken. Throwing them aside with an inaudible sigh, he lifted his face to the cloudless sky above. Minutes went by in silence. The Warder gradually felt his composure eroding.. and to give himself time to settle, to prepare, he started talking. At first he spoke a few sentences. Then a few more.


He had not planned on speaking of.. her.. far from it.. but somehow it felt right to share his memories now.. it felt necessary..




A few words..


And then..


..almost as if floodgates inside him had been opened..


..the words rushed out of him.



“She was a young Green, Leandreen.” He said, reminiscing. “She had popped around the Warder’s Yard a few times, one of several Greens often visiting, but I never got the impression that she was particularly interested in me. I was just one of many eager Warder trainees regularly in the Yard. Time passed and I finished my Warder training, happy with the accomplishment, satisfied with the achievement.” He added.  “But it was only the beginning of my journey. I was from the start waiting for a Sister to offer me a Bond, and I hoped, if possible, I would become a Green’s Warder since they, among all Aes Sedai, travelled the most in the world on missions for the Light. With a Green Bondholder I would best fulfill my purpose, I thought, and be able to strike directly at the Shadow, which had been my dream since youth.” He nodded. “Some trainees do prefer to stay on as Tower Guards in Tar Valon once they are promoted, and I respect that choice, but I was always certain that it was being a Warder and Protector to an Aes Sedai that was my mission - or destiny - in life.”


Myrrhi listened in silence while he spoke on, understanding that letting him speak and sharing this personal part of his life with her was very important to him. And, in a way, to her as well, if she wanted him as a Warder.


His voice was double-edged as he continued, echoes of joy and sadness coming through, but he was unaware of this as he was lost in his old memories.


“And one day.. she was there.”




“I was on my way to the Warder’s Yard”, he said, “and this stunning, flame-haired, young Emerald green-eyed Aes Sedai of the Battle Ajah stopped me in my tracks and took me aside. She looked long into my dark eyes, as if to measure whether I truly had the mettle or fortitude for what she had in mind, and then she told me her name and asked straightforwardly, without any preamble, if I would be her Warder, in the Light.”



His voice shook a little, his body tensed and he closed his eyes for a moment. He clenched his fists and focused to regain his composure. “We walked off together, to have a long talk.” He went on, his eyes open again.


“I was honoured to be asked to Bond, it was my destiny as I saw it, but I wanted to learn more about this young Sister of the Green.” He added. “As she spoke of her important work as an Aes Sedai, of her duty, as she saw it, to protect the weak and needy, and of her life-long fight against the Shadow, I saw the passion for her cause in her fiery Emerald eyes, the glow in her voice, the heart she displayed. And I knew right away that she reflected my own thoughts and desires and passions for my honoured duty-to-be as a Warder.” He paused for a long moment, his eyes shining. “She Bonded me shortly thereafter.” He added with a small, proud smile.


Oh Leandreen..


“She trusted me.” He said, his face darkening, his voice slowly becoming unsteady. “Trusted me to protect her, to keep her alive, to watch her back always, to be the shield that kept her safe on all the missions and journeys that we shared for the Green Ajah and the White Tower, so that she could do her duty in the Light.”


His eyes filled with bitter sorrow and his face froze.. his features twisted.


“And in return.. I failed her. My Leandreen. She died in my arms years later.” Echoes of the Bond snapping reverberated in his mind. There was endless sadness and guilt - unending selfrecrimination - in his voice now. His eyes tightened even further. “I promised, I gave my oath, my life before hers. A Warder’s Sacred Duty.”


A single tear ran down his chin, a solitary stream pouring out from the deep well of his glistening eyes.


A Sacred Trust.


“And I failed!”



His hands started shaking, his heart beating faster, cold sweat running down his back, and he got up quickly from where he sat, trying in vain to gain some self-control.


“The ultimate betrayal by a Warder. The ultimate failure.” He whispered darkly. “Unforgivable.”


There was anger and spite in his voice now, directed at himself, the young Aes Sedai understood, and without another word or backward glance, Elessar walked resolutely away toward the larger oak trees a little way off, needing for a moment to be alone with his personal grief and heartwrenching guilt.




Edited by Elessar
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As she sat atop her horse, Myrrhi raised her head toward Elessar and saw that he was looking at her. So many things seemed to pass between them as their eyes met. Somehow, Myrrhi felt that the Warder was remembering how afraid of horses she used to be and that so many things had changed since their first riding lesson. They both knew that the young woman had fought hard to get rid of her fears, finding pride in the way she managed to overcome the apprehension that still haunted her heart.


Elessar nodded, indicating that he was ready to go. Myrrhi nodded back and they left the Golden Seagull for the busy Ebou Dari streets. Their horses advanced slowly, one step after the other towards the city center. Not daring nor wanting to talk, the young woman let her gaze travel from one shop to another, she really liked the southern city and was not looking forward to go back to the Tower.




It took them a while to reach the city outskirts. When they did, Myrrhi felt a big weight lifting from her heart. The road was less busy there, which allowed her to ride at Elessar's side in some places. She didn't like to be behind him for too long. It made her feel like a child that Gaidin had been ordered to lead to a place she didn't want to go to.


More than once, the young woman opened her mouth to say something but quickly she closed it not sure about how she should start the conversation. The Warder was keeping his full attention on the road ahead and she feared that it was because of some inner fights. Taking about trivial matters could make things worse or simply look ridiculous.


And so, they went on. They passed the cliffs that laid westward of the city to enter a small wooded area. It reminded Myrrhi of her riding lessons. Indeed, at the time, she and the Warder had spent a lot of time in the forests near Tar Valon. Has he picked this place on purpose? She wondered, smiling. Should I take it as a good sign?


To her disappointment, Elessar didn't show any sign that it was time to stop. Instead, he went on further starring up head. Compared to the roads surrounding the city, the place was almost empty. They only encountered a couple of travelers, but it didn't make things easier for Myrrhi to talk. The urge to say something to Warder amplified, but she still didn't manage to find what to say.


At last, they arrived on an empty side-path where they could pick up speed without risking to hurt anybody. Without having to exchange even a glance, they both reached a fast canter. Myrrhi enjoyed the speed. For a while it even helped her forget the reason why she was there.





They came to a halt in a small clearing where they dismounted and tethered the horses. Before joining Elessar, Myrrhi bowed near one of the bushes near by to pick a purple flower. She needed something to toy with and hoped that it would bring her good luck. She had never seen a flower with such a color before.


Still silent, the Warder invited her to follow him. He led her to a grassy mount where he sat down. Myrrhi sat beside him playing with her flower and leaving him the time to assemble his thoughts.


Mirroring her in a way, Elessar picked a few straws of grass and ran his fingers along their surface. The young woman decided to look away. It's his time to talk after all. I have told him everything I had to... well almost everything, it is his turn...




A tear fell down her cheek. She had not imagined such a tale. The Warder had talked about his first Aes Sedai, Leandreen. He had looked so happy when talking about the way they met and about their bond. Then, a darkness had come to his face and he had talked about what he called his failure.


Elessar had stood up at the end of his speeck, then had walked away towards a large oak. He needs some time alone, Myrrhi thought looking at the big man's back. And so do I. She understood some of his feelings, even if she didn't agree with them. Part of her training as a Green Sister had been about how she had to embrace death and not fear it... A Battle Sister had to know that some battles didn't have a happy outcome.


When she judged that enough time had passed for him as well as for her, she got up. With fast gestures, she rearranged her hair and smoothed down her skirts. Then, as lightly as she could - she didn't want to disturb the silence - , she advanced towards the Gaidin. When she arrived at his level she placed a hand on his shoulder. He immediately turned at her touch, to face her.


"Death is inevitable. We will all die and, and the only thing we can hope for is to make our the best as long as we are alive. Our purpose as a Green Aes Sedai is to fight... We know that death is a risk. Leandreen will always be remembered for what she did. We are lucky to have had her at our side." Myrrhi began, using "we" for the "Green Ajah" she was now part of. She had seen how the woman was remembered and loved by the Sisters she had left too early.


"We all cried for her and are still crying. You shouldn't think of what happened as a failure. It will only be one if you let it destroy you."


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.. When Not being able to Forgive oneself   ..



Elessar had never learned how to forgive himself.


Ever since he was young, he had taken blame upon himself for perceived failures. His brother’s death in the river in the Borderlands for one. His father still blamed him for that, for not taking good enough care of his brother when they went swimming that time, but in truth it had been an accident and something Elessar could not have been expected to prevent. Even so Elessar had blamed himself for not preventing what happened. The same with his mother. She had died of prolonged illness, something a young Elessar never could forgive himself for not preventing, even if he had no blame in it at all.


He had also blamed himself when not improving enough in his sword training with his father in his youth, setting impossible standards and focusing so much on excellence and achieving perfection that he forgot that it is human to fail, to underachieve at times, and to not always reach one’s goals, or that it takes a long time sometimes to fully succeed at a difficult task.


And his greatest self-inflicted blame, guilt and self-recrimination, was with Leandreen’s death. An ultimate failure, as he saw it, for which he could never, ever forgive himself. He had betrayed a sacred duty, a sacred trust as a Warder - to keep his Aes Sedai safe and alive and, if not, at least to die honourably fighting in a last attempt at protecting or saving her. My life before yours. He had succeeded at neither, to his everlasting shame.


A Yellow Sister, skilled in cases of mental wounds and illness, would probably have explained that his special vulnerability or inability to forgive himself for all his failures as he saw them, was, in part, a result or consequence of his Broken Bond after Leandreen’s death and his subsequent period of mental instability bordering on madness, but also that it was a part of his personality, the way he had always been, ever since he was a young Borderlander boy.


To forgive himself, to understand that he could not take every burden onto his own shoulders, that was an important lesson that, despite all his years as a Gaidin, Elessar had yet to learn.



She does not understand, thought the Gaidin sadly, as he listened to Myrrhi’s words.


She placed a hand on his shoulder as she spoke. She said that death was inevitable for everyone, and that all that could be expected was that one did the best one could in the time one had.


It is not death I fear, he thought, considering her words. A Warder knows that he courts death in his duty and service for his Bondholder. It becomes part of life. But my Sedai’s death is something completely different. I pledge my oath to keep her alive and safe. It is my sole purpose as her Warder. To fail at that is unforgivable. Some might say a Gaidin’s ultimate sin.


She added the risks the Green Ajah knew they were taking in their service to the Light, and that Leandreen, a chersihed Sister, would be remembered - and honoured - for her service. He should not feel blame for what happened to her, she said, nor look upon it as his failure.


"It will only be one", she added, "if you let it destroy you."



Part of him saw the logic in her words, it was words that could have been spoken by any of his former Bondholders, but his soul was mortally bruised and so he was unable to fully embrace her words of comfort. Even though Aes Sedai and Warders were close in many ways, working closely together and understanding more than any others what sacrifice and duty was involved, he did not think Sisters quite understood how incredibly sacred a Gaidin’s duty was for him when it came to his Bondholder - and thereby how endlessly devastating - and unforgivable - it could be for a Warder if he was unable to protect his Aes Sedai as he was oath-pledged to do, especially if it resulted in her severe injury or - even worse - death.


A neutral Aes Sedai observer might also have pointed out that this sometimes overprotective Warder attitude was, indirectly, somewhat demeaning to Aes Sedai, who were far from helpless or powerless women themselves, and who knew very well what they let themselves in for in their service for the Light. They were willing to make the necessary sacrifices and were ultimately responsible for their own lives and well being, though aided well by Warders in honoured service. Leandreen had touched upon the subject on occasion, sometimes a little frustrated by Elessar’s periodic overprotective - and almost paternal - attitude as she saw it, but he had ignored her words, brushing them off, confident as always in his set views and attitude with regards to his duty.


Now he looked into the young Aes Sedai’s blue eyes and said earnestly, "I know you mean well". His body tensed and his eyes tightened. "And there is some wisdom in what you say." He added. "But you have to be a Warder to understand." His voice was strained and the pain in his soul was acute. He touched the hand she had placed on his shoulder a moment, then added more brusquely than he had intended that they return to the horses. Myrrhi followed him silently back to the grassy mound, seemingly lost in her own thoughts.



They untethered the horses, giving them an affectionate pat on the back, and mounted quickly. Elessar lead the way as they rode at a slow canter back to the wooded area closer to the main road. The Warder needed some more time to think, and to let his words to Myrrhi sink in. It was not his intention to return to the city yet, but to ride for a while, in silence, and run matters through in his mind. He needed some more solitude and believed the young Aes Sedai would discern that.


What concerned him, however, was that, though she clearly saw some of his pain and the reasons for it, from his explanation, he did not think she quite understood how impossible - and soul destructive - it would be for him to face another probable failure in service, as her Warder.


To have her die in his arms, like Leandreen, would be.. simply unbearable.


The cold sweat continued to run down his back.




Edited by Elessar
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Myrrhi had not been trained to believe that there were things she would not be able to understand. Most of her life in the White Tower had been guided by the idea, that somehow, would she study enough, she'd manage to know everything she wanted to know.


I have to be a Warder to understand, what kind of non sense is that? She wondered. Have I not listened to the flaming man? Don't I understand what is it to live for the Tower?


The young woman went back to her horse, fighting the urge to talk further. This silly man wants to go back to the city? Fine, let's go back to the city... I prefer to be in the library than to hear that I am not smart enough.


Out of frustration, she let the purple flower she was still carrying fall on the ground. She would have preferred to throw it away, but the gesture would have revealed too much about her emotions.


She also felt anger, mostly at herself, for not seeing this coming. She had been convinced that the few words she had told Elessar about death and Leandreen would have been enough to set his heart at ease.


More importantly, she had hoped that whatever would have happened that day, she would have gotten the chance to spend the day with the Warder. She would have been happy to talk to him about a thousand other topics than bonding, Aes Sedai and Warders. After the chaotic days she had had, she had needed some emotional rest. Instead, they would go back to Ebou Dar, which would probably raise more questions with Deana. The Brown Sister must have noticed by now that something was going on between her companion and a man. She couldn't have missed the small trips Myrrhi had done to the jewelry store and the seamstress. If she would come back earlier than expected, what would the Aes Sedai think?


She'll think I that I am a fool  ...


As Myrrhi untethered her horse, she tried to remember the Gaidin's words but she always came to the same conclusion. The man didn't want to listen nor understand what she had tried to say. He didn't want to let himself be convinced and the young woman was not good enough with words to make him see how they good they they could be to each other.


So many stories she had been told had convinced her that proposing a bond to a man was a wonderful experience. The Green Sisters she had talked with had always been very enthusiastic when describing how they had gotten to bond their Warders. Thinking about it, she didn't even think that a Warder had ever refused an Aes Sedai ...




The ride back to the main road was uneventful. Myrrhi stayed in the rear, watching Elessar's back and hoping that something would happen so that she wouldn't have to return too early to the Palace.

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.. Entangled in a Maelstrom of Frustration  ..



“I cannot Bond you! Can you not understand..!?”


Elessar’s almost desperate voice rang over the cliffs, where they stood, like a ‘clarion call to woe’.


His fists were clenched, cold sweat kept running down his back, his eyes were wild. All self-control was lost.


“I cannot..!” He was going to add ‘lose you too’, but he stopped himself at the last second.


His burning eyes cried out for understanding, for empathy, for peace of mind and soul, his entire body tense and alarmed. He threw a Dark stone he was holding, whuch he had picked up a little earlier, angrily into the sea below, cursing inside.


“Go and find yourself another Warder!” He almost spat out. “I am sure there will be plenty begging for the honour!”


He said it bitterly, anger at himself making his words sound harsh and unforgiving. But he did not care. She would be better off with someone else. Someone who would manage to keep her alive and safe. Someone who would not fail her. Someone she could trust.


Someone who will care.. less.


Myrrhi stared back at him angrily, mostly frustrated, and now unable to hide her emotions. This was simply too much!



They had arrived at the cliffs some time before, having first ridden, in silence, in the woods along paths close to the main road for a while. Then Elessar had headed for the cliff area, still mulling over in his mind how he was going to make her understand. Once there, he had quickly dismounted and indicated that the young Aes Sedai do the same. She had at first seemed a little relieved, perhaps glad that they were not returning to the city straight away and had another opportunity to talk, but then she had seen his tense posture and very disturbed look and much of her relief had evaporated.


He had pointed the way to a large rock off to the side, not too close to the edge, which they could  lean against and they had seated themselves, neither speaking for several minutes. It had seemed to the Warder that Myrrhi several times had been about to say something, but had changed her mind. He had remained silent, considering time and again how to put into words what he wanted to relay. Finally, when he understood that he would probably never find the perfect explanation no matter how long he thought about it, he had faced her and had repeated what he had said before.


About a Warder’s Sacred Duty, his Sacred Trust. About unforgivable Failures. About Betrayals. About unacceptable Consequences. About unending Loss.


About unforgivable Deaths.


When he was done, Myrrhi having listened to him in silence, and he looked into her deep Blue eyes and saw that she still did not seem to understand what he was trying to say, or get the important message behind his words - she just seemed confused to him and somewhat irked - he sprang up and threw up his arms in exasperation.


“Light, can you not see..!?” He had shouted, his temper getting the better of him. Light, what is it with this young woman! Why is it so difficult for her to understand..!?



Gazing hard out to sea now, past the point where his Dark stone had entered the water, all the way to the sweeping waves flowing far into the distant horizon, struggling to keep his anger under control, Elessar felt her eyes bore into his back.


Go and find yourself another Warder! His bitter words had a ring of finality about them - and they echoed gravely in his mind.


He waited for her angry retort.


He doubted she would be able to keep her Aes Sedai-calm now.




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“Go and find yourself another Warder!” Elessar spat out. “I am sure there will be plenty begging for the honour!”


The way he said those few words was just too much for Myrrhi. He had never spoken to her with so much bitterness nor anger. The only thing she managed to do was to stare back, her right fist clenched. Something deep inside her was pushing her to slap the man for that last line. There were so many ways to interpret it. Maybe they were other Warders who were interested in a bond with her but, it was hard to believe. Elessar was the only one with whom she had talked and interacted as an equal. She had barely exchanged a couple of words with the other Gaidins since her arrival in the Tower and those words had always been related to a mission or a chore. 


Elessar's words could also sound like a reproach. Does he think that I am taking this lightly? That any Warder could do? How can he believe this? Tears welled up in her eyes. She brushed them away with her sleeve not wanting the Warder to see her cry.


As she did so, her gaze met the rich fabric that covered her forearm. It made her think back about the dress she had bought to meet him that day. She had spared no expenses to look as well as she could. Is it a way to criticize the attention I put on my appearance?


It was so hard for the young woman to be reasonable in her heart and in her head. Still, she managed to resist the urge to send her hand to the Warder's cheek.


"Fine," she eventually managed to say, feeling red coming to her cheeks.


"You didn't have to bring me all the way here to tell me this. I don't know what is your problem with me, but I don't need to be humiliated like that!" The sound of her voice had raised so much through her sentence that she was now shouting. She knew her behaviour was not the one expected from an Aes Sedai but she didn't care about it, at least for the moment. Later that day, she would probably think back about the scene and feel regrets, she could see it. That will be for tonight ... she decided.


Not trusting herself - she was so afraid to do an unfortunate gesture - she slowly backed away from the Gaidin. As soon as four feet separated them, she went on.


"I'll go back to the city and I forbid you to accompany me." She said, finger pointing towards Elessar's nose. "I don't want to see your face anymore. You may stay here with your dead..."


As her words left her lips, she understood how mean she was being. But I won't take it back, she added to herself. If what I said hurt him, then we are even ... She turned her back on Elessar and advanced towards her horse. As she step away from the man, she felt sickness reaching her stomach. It was the first time, as an adult, that she had been voluntary mean to someone and it had only made her feel good for a couple of seconds.








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.. Tales and Sadness on a Road to temporary Oblivion  ..



Elessar was Drowning in a Sea of self-loathing and misery. 


Staring coldly, bitterly, out to sea he considered for a split second throwing himself into the cold waters, just to end it all. He knew though that he would never do it. No matter the pain in his soul, the anger directed at himself for his endless failures, he was not a man who would resort to suicide. Not because he was not desperate enough, or depressed enough. Rather because his proud Borderlander heritage would not allow it. It would somehow be the ultimate failure, a step too far in all ways.


Even so, he hated himself at that moment. For his Broken Soul. For his endless guilt and self-recrimination. For the Darkness within him, that he had never invited in but which had entered the cracks of light in his soul after Leandreen’s death and his subsequent near-madness and which had festered inside him with each perceived ‘failure’ since. Most of all, he hated having hurt Myrrhi. He had seen the shock, the devastation in her eyes, and that broke his heart. Clenching his hands into fists he cursed inside as he stared hard and unrelentlessly into the far distant horizon.


She did not deserve my spiteful anger. He thought regretfully. She did not deserve those harsh, bitter words.


But he had been unable to stop himself, like a splintered rock which the waves had crashed upon one time too many.



An echo of her harsh parting words resonated in his wounded mind.


"You didn't have to bring me all the way here to tell me this. I don't know what is your problem with me, but I don't need to be humiliated like that!" She had shouted, anger evident in her voice.


She had slowly backed away from him, as if suddenly wary of him, of what he might do next. Then she had added,


"I'll go back to the city and I forbid you to accompany me." She had said, finger pointing towards Elessar's nose. "I don't want to see your face anymore. You may stay here with your dead..."


She had stopped before finishing the sentence, but her meaning had been clear.


..with your dead Leandreen.. your dead, oh so dear Bondholder.


Her words had hurt him, as he had presumed they were intended to do, but he ignored the feeling of pain inside and just stared passively back at her.


I deserve whatever she throws at me, he thought bitterly, past caring. I deserve it all.


She turned her back on him then and advanced towards her horse. Without another word or glance back she mounted her mare and rode off in the direction of Ebou Dar. He gazed after her long after she was gone, too lost in himself to consider for a second that she might not be all that safe on her own on that road. Cursing, he smashed his fist into the rock and ignored the pain and the blood on his knuckles, in fact welcoming the pain. Kicking several stones angrily over the edge into the windswept sea below, he leaned heavily against the tall rock and shut his eyes, his heart beating fast, his pulse high. When he some time later finally composed himself, forcefully pushing away the Dark anger clouding his mind and body, it was too late to ride after her. She would just have to manage on her own.



Mounting his black warhorse Stormbreaker, Elessar set off at a full gallop eastwards, away from Ebou Dar, rushing down the road like a ferocious wind, gaining some small relief from the speed and exhileration that came with fast riding, from the powerful muscles in the horse’s strong body beneath him, from the rush of emotions that always came when he rode Stormbreaker hard. With the sound of pounding hooves on the road and whirlwinds of dust in their wake, the unBonded Warder from Kandor sped ever eastwards, away from the city.


Away from her.


It was several hours later, with the sun much lower in the horizon, when he returned to Ebou Dar, tired and empty in mind and body, sadness and hopelessness and finally numbness having taken the place of anger. Avoiding the Rahad this time, he rode the long way around and entered the city by a more north-western gate, riding slowly up and down the Ebou Dari streets until at last arriving at the ‘Golden Seagull’ inn. Handing his tired, sweating horse over to the young stableboy, he walked inside and with a curt nod to the innkeeper made his way swiftly up to his room. Once there, he threw himself down on the bed, arms wide, his eyes closed, his mind and body needing some rest.



Later that evening, after another meal tasting like ashes in his mouth, Elessar sat down in the Common Room drinking ale. He had never been a heavy drinker, far from it, but on occasion he had found drink to be a very good means to gain momentary oblivion. And he needed that this night. And so he drank one ale after another, not caring. After the fourth glass he began to feel a little drunk but welcomed it, wanting to lose himself and his pain. A gleeman entered the stage not long after but the Gaidin hardly cared. The sound of the flute permeated the room, but hardly entered Elessar’s mind. In his thoughts, echoes of Myrrhi’s parting words came back time and again, almost as if to haunt him.


"I don't want to see your face anymore. You may stay here with your dead..."




She is probably right, he thought darkly, hopelessly. Perhaps I do belong with my dead..


The locals - and a few foreigners - present enjoyed the gleeman’s performance and clapped enthusiastically when he was finished. The gleeman, a middle-aged, dark-haired man of below average height and slim of figure, wearing a cloak of many colourful patches that bespoke his profession, bowed gratefully in thanks, putting aside his flute for the moment, and then started to sing. Listening to the gleeman’s song did not brighten Elessar’s mood, however, as such an event usually would. The epic historic tale of joy and sorrow, of battles and heroes in ‘Bygone Years’ had a somber edge to it that matched Elessar’s somber mood, and he kept drinking his ale, and after a while also stronger stuff, while half-listening to the story, as if all his troubles and woes would disapperar from his heart and soul if he just drank enough.





’Bygone Years’


Let me sing of bygone Years

Time of heroes and of Fears

Of the Shadow and of Tears

Tales of war from Bygone Years


Let me sing of valour Great

Time of struggle , hardship`s Weight

Memories of land and State

Not forgotten , be it Late


Let me sing of hope in Heart

Time of yearning for a Start

To a peace for land and Part

Joy and laughter from the Heart


Let me sing of rose in Night

Scarlet-coloured, stunning Sight

Shining strongly, burning Bright

Precious beacon for the Light


Let me sing of Sword and Flame

Heart and soul, they sang his Name

From the northern hills he Came

Conquered darkness, purged the Shame


Let me sing of Southern Queen

Fairest Maiden ever Been

Lead her armies to be Seen

Washed her lands from evil, Clean


Let me sing of soldiers Brave

Hardened men with lives to Save

Honour great, for freedom Crave

Fought the Shadow to their Grave


Let me sing of bygone Years

Time of battles and of Tears

Of redemption and of Fears

Tales of war from Bygone Years






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The ride back to the city was a tough one for the young woman. So many thoughts were passing through her head, and she felt guilty for it. As a fully-raised Aes Sedai, she was not supposed to find herself in this kind of situation. Aes Sedai were supposed to be, or at least to appear, emotionless. Unfortunately, she was far from it.


She knew that her face and her body language mirrored the chaos in her head. Cold sweat ran down her back when she didn't feel her cheeks burning with anger. It was a good thing that her mare was one of the gentlest animal she had ever seen, since she was barely paying attention to her riding. Other horses may have wanted to take advantage of the turmoil she was in to make her fall from her saddle.


No one can see me like this, she thought as the walls of Ebou Dar came into view. She didn't know whether she could be demoted, but would a Sister see her in this state she would definitely be in trouble.


Quickly, she dismounted and led her mount to the side of the road. She advanced till she reached a group of small trees that formed the perfect barrier against unwanted eyes. There, she waited a couple of seconds, to be sure that no one would come. By chance, no traveler seemed to be around. The only one she had seen before had strictly kept to the main path.


It took her a while to concentrate, she had to fight to empty her head. But, in the end, she managed to lock away all her passion, fury and sadness into a little drawer, far away in her mind, long enough to allow herself to opened to Saidar.


Thanks to it, she channeled a single thread of Water to freshen up her face. It helped her more than she had anticipated. The sweetness of the One Power coursing through her veins and the cold liquid on her face pushed her to give less weight to the day events. Slowly, she started to feel able to concentrate on herself.


Not daring to stay too long out of the Palace - she didn't want Elessar to be able to catch up with her - she decided to go back on the road as soon as she felt able to keep her composure.




The city was even more busy than it had been when they had left, a few hours before. This time, she summoned the most serious face she could wear as she didn't want to lose time fighting to advance through the crowd. Unsurprisingly, her scowl added to her bearing and her rich dress did wonders. The people around her immediately understood that they had to part to let her move forward.


Eventually, she reached the Mol Hara Square and the Palace. The place had looked so beautiful before. Now, it looked colorless and grim. So many things have changed since my arrival, she thought. Sighing, she dismounted. She would lead the horse to the Palace stables and ask one of the servant to bring it back to the Golden Seagull. She didn't want to go near the Tavern. Meeting the Gaidin there would hurt too much.




"Myrrhi? I was not expecting you so early." Deana advanced towards Myrrhi and hugged her. The Brown Sister seemed to have become more affectionate since their arrival in the city. The young woman didn't know whether it was because she was feeling more comfortable about her junior or whether she knew some of what was going on for her.


"My plans changed," Myrrhi replied with a smile. "Is there anything I can do for you?"


Deana replied that she wanted to go to the quill shop they had already visited as well as to a well-known armorer for her Warder. She needed a break, she said, after so many hours spent in the library.


"It is a marvelous idea," the young Green replied. "The wares at that quill shop were of such a nice quality..." She made another smile. "Maybe I can go to the library and copy one of the books you showed me?"


"If you have the time for it, it would be most helpful." Deana's eyes shone. She was obviously happy to get some help. She must miss the Tower. I bet she's looking forward to be on her way back to Tar Valon, Myrrhi told herself. Well, I have to say that I would not mind being away from this flaming place...


The two Sisters exchanged a few more words then parted.


Still focused on her appearance, Myrrhi went through the Palace corridors hoping she would not meet any other Aes Sedai. By chance, the way to the library was almost empty. She only met a couple of servants who were so busy with their tasks at hand that they didn't even pay attention to the young woman.




There were only few occupants in the library and they were all busy reading. Not wanting to attract their attention, the young woman hurried to reach Deana's table, in the far back. No one would disturb her there. 


Myrrhi took one of the books that laid at the bottom of the pile. It was an obscure book about the history of a scholar who was interested in the anatomy of several rodents. It was definitely not her kind of reading but it would do a perfect job to distract her.


Focusing on her writing, she lost herself in her work. She knew she had a good hand to write, she didn't bother with extra flourishes but made small and harmonious letters. To get them all even needed time, though... and concentration.




Myrrhi didn't sleep that night, the day's events filled her mind. Each time she replayed them, she tried another combination of words or of actions, hoping that she would find a way to change the past. It was impossible though. What was done was done... 


Then dawn came and with it, a new thought. It is time to move on and stop this childish behaviour.

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.. Recollections and Memories in a Time of Need  ..



Elessar hardly remembered getting back to his room on the second floor. It was all a gigantic blur but he thought someone had helped him upstairs. With all the drink he had consumed during the evening he had, no doubt, been unable to climb those stairs all on his own, and a picture of a man - the innkeeper? - helping him up the stairs flashed in his mind. Had he been more himself he would have been ashamed by such a public display of drunkenness, and more than relieved that no Aes Sedai had seen him in that state, but as things were he cared not the slightest bit about the matter.


His head hurt, as if it had been pounded by a thousand fists, and he felt sick as if he were about to throw up any minute. Opening the window in his room, he leaned out and felt a cool breeze on his face and warming rays of sunshine. It did not better his mood though.


Life was miserable - a bottomless pit of chaotic emotions and misery - and he just wanted to go back to bed and close his eyes to the world.



Many hours later, in late afternoon, a slightly fitter - though far from fully recovered - Warder left the Golden Seagull inn and walked quietly down the city streets of Ebou Dar. He passed the many shops and stalls along the main streets, with vendors and buyers talking and shouting and haggling over price as was common in cities, and finally stopped before a palace which was richly decorated with tall spires and domes in the shapes of turnips, emblazoned with bands of crimson, blue, and gold. It was not as magnificent as the Tarasin Palace, of course, but certainly had splendor and opulence in abundance.


A well-gardened green area in front of the building, with several resplendent flower beds and smaller trees with some benches around set almost like a miniature park, added to the grandeur. Elessar sat down on one of the benches and closed his eyes. His headache was almost gone, thank the Light, now only a minor pounding in his head, and his stomach felt more at ease though he would wait a few hours before eating again. Curse all alcohol! He thought. But it was himself he wanted to curse, himself he blamed for his unending misery.


I cannot go on like this, thought the Gaidin as he watched a pigeon land on the ground some feet away from where he sat. Perhaps I should just return to Tar Valon.


But even as the thought entered his mind, it was quickly disspelled. He knew he could not do that, not as things stood. Sorting out his.. business with Myrrhi was something he just had to do, no matter the pain and discomfort. He did not know how, but he had to find a way. He had impossible choices. He could not Bond her, as he had told her several times now. But at the same time, he could not just walk away either. She deserved more than that.


Gazing at the lone pigeon, a white-grey creature that now studied him and walked up to his feet probably in the hope that he had some breadcrumbs to feed it, he thought again how uncomplicated life would be as a bird that could just fly away.. Receiving no food from the tall strange man, the hungry pigeon walked past him and toward a patch of grass a little further away. The Gaidin followed it with his gloom-ridden eyes as his thoughts mulled over his hopeless situation.



He began to think about his previous Bonds; perhaps he would find his answers there, or at least some understanding to help him out of his current quagmire.


He pushed quickly past his Bond with Leandreen, there was too much pain and hurt there, but considered his Bonds with Carys and Kathleen. They had not been total failures, of course, although in his depressive moods he only focused on the negative aspects though, in truth, they had been few and far between. He recollected their faces, their voices, their eyes and the passion for their work which had been reflected in those eyes. Carys with her passion for healing and the Infirmary in the Tower; Kathleen with her passion for life, for helping the needy and the weak, and for standing ready for the Last Battle. Different passions but also, in a way, the same: a passion for the important work of the Aes Sedai, in all its facets, in loyal service to the Light.


Thinking of Carys brought back memories.. and with his special knack for remembering detail, it was almost as if it were happening - again - right in front of his eyes..





..Elessar turned his head quickly again to see how Carys fared..


She was facing another man, this one unmasked. He radiated danger. Elessar almost ran to help her, but just then the third figure attacked the Warder again and he was forced to defend himself. He brought up his right arm to deflect a blow, then smashed his left fist into the man’s side which produced a grunt of pain. The man was resilient, however. He took one step backwards and then struck out quickly with his left fist. Elessar twisted his body at the right moment, an instinctive move which made the blow glance off his shoulder, and then he let the momentum carry him forwards, striking the man hard in the chest with all the force he had. The masked man was thrown backwards, crashing into the bedpost. He slumped to the floor and lay there, unmoving - eyes staring into the beyond.


Elessar walked over to him and checked his pulse. He was dead. Blood was running from the man’s head where he had hit the bedpost with lethal force. Catching his breath, the Warder turned his head to check on the Aes Sedai. He saw her standing alone by the doorway and from what Elessar could see she seemed fine. He sighed in relief. Turning his head, he looked hard at the man laying, half on the side, panting in pain on the bed. Let’s see who you are, he thought. Eyes tightening he bent down and wrenched off the man’s mask. Hard eyes looked back at him from a bloodied face. Throwing the mask to the side, Elessar glanced at the man’s crushed nose and nodded. From the way he held his chest he guessed that several of the man’s ribs were cracked as well. Pushing him on his back - the man cried out in pain - Elessar bound his hands together using the bedsheets. He would take no chances with this man, injured or no.


Louder sounds came then from outside the room and Elessar heard the innkeeper’s voice. And then Carys’. No surprise the innkeeper had wondered about the ruckus upstairs. The Aes Sedai would deal with him. Checking himself for injuries, Elessar found that he had no serious wounds. Most of the blood on him was theirs. He sat down on the edge of the bed, ignoring the pains in his body. I did not fail this time, he thought to himself with great satisfaction as he watched Carys enter the room. The protesting voice in his head was very muted now. I did not fail, he repeated in his mind. He almost smiled.

Rubbing her temples, Carys sat down on a padded chair by the end of the bed. “I’m beginning to think they want me dead, Elessar.” She said with a grim smile, “But you keep coming in between and you seem to do that well. What would you think if I asked you for a Bond?”



It was not all a failure.


Recollecting, a small part of him tried to hold on to that thought, as if wanting to show him that there were successes, positives, also among some (perceived) failures. The greater part of him resisted, but a small crack of light shone into the darkness of his inner being..


His thoughts turned then to Kathleen. His last Bondholder. He thought of her letter which she had sent to him in Tar Valon, of her guilt, however misplaced. A part of him saw the parallell, how misplaced guilt could shape a person. But he was not yet ready to forgive himself, and so the greater part of him looked past the similarities.


Memories returned of their leaving the City of the Aes Sedai for the North..





..The proud banners of Tar Valon - wonderous city of the Aes Sedai -  rippled strongly in the wind atop the huge city walls as Kathleen Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah and her newly Bonded Warder Elessar Telcontar of Kandor rode out of the city and soon onto one of the six majestic bridges, more than a mile long and gracefully arching from the island to the shore, connecting the isle to the mainland.


The River Erinin, within sight of fabled Dragonmount, flowed by below, with urgency and intent, and reflected some of the sun's rays falling down from a cloudless blue sky above. Had it not been for the strong breeze, which made their garments - Elessar's colour-shifting cloak and Kathleen's green travelling cloak - flap behind them, it would have been perfect travelling weather.


They were beginning a northward Journey to the Borderlands - in the footsteps, as it were, of Kathleen's second Warder, Nevuel Gaidin, who had left, on a personal errand , for his home nation Arafel almost immediately after Elessar's Bonding with Kathleen - and they had a long way to travel.


Seated atop his faithful black stallion Stormbreaker, feeling the life pulsating in the graceful beast beneath him, Elessar's mind was partly on the journey ahead, and partly on his new Bond and its consequences.


It was only a short time - ..had a week passed, or perhaps a fortnight? he wondered; time was somewhat muddled for Elessar.. - since his Warder Bond had been passed from Carys Aes Sedai to his new Bondholder Kathleen, and the multitude of strong conflicting emotions that he had felt were still inside him, though presently buried under the surface. He would have to deal with them at some point, he knew, but for now he was content to focus on the pleasure he felt to be out on the road again, to be 'Free', to feel Needed again, and to be Allowed to carry out his duty and service as a Gaidin of the White Tower.


He felt Kathleen in the back of his head - and he smiled inside.


So many changes in his life, so many paths he had walked. Now he was upon another new path - and in his mind's eye he thought he saw a Light of Destiny..





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Another day had passed for Myrrhi. I can't wait to be out of here, she thought as she turned from one side to the other in her bed.


Like the say before, she had tried to spend as much time as possible in the library. Deana had been well pleased with the younger woman's work. She had kept on copying books from the early morning till late in the evening. She had taken a couple of breaks, to eat and drink, but they had not been long.


As long as she was working, she would not think of Elessar.


The flaming man...


She didn't know what to think of him anymore. He had been a real friend, and now he was the last person she wanted to see.


Again, she tried to closed her eyes. She needed sleep.




Is this a ... dream? Myrrhi wondered. She was back in her old house in Andor. She was wearing a red dress with a neck so deep that it made her cheeks flush.


"Myrrhi?" A voice called. It was definitely her mother's.


"Yes?" The young woman replied, looking on her bed for a scarf to cover he cleavage.


"Are you ready?"


"What..." It came back to her mind, it was her birthday. Her mother had wanted her to celebrate it in a nearby tavern.




The tavern in which she stood looked rich, richer than any building she remembered seeing. A gleeman was signing a song that sounded very familiar to her. It was song about an Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah, whose name she didn't remember.


A big mug of ale had been planted on the table, right in front of her by a servant. "Drink!" her mother ordered.


Myrrhi brought the mug towards her lips but didn't swallow the bitter liquid.


"What do you think of this man?" her mother went on, pointing at one of the oldest customers. "He has been looking at you since you passed the door..."


"I don't know, mother" was her only reply.




The old man had left his chair to invite her to dance. Her mother had pushed her out of her chair. "You have to dance," she had said with a sharp voice, not leaving Myrrhi any kind of choice.


Now, she and the old man were dancing. He was telling her about marriage and bonds. His hands descended on her body, low enough to scare her. Panicking, she pushed her dancing companion away and fled.




Her legs had led her to the White Tower. The Mistress of the Novices was awaiting her arrival.


"You are late, Child!"


Myrrhi looked behind her. Far away in the distance, she heard the voice of her Sisters begging her to come back. "Come back home," they pleaded. "You have to help us." The young woman didn't dare to move. The Mistress of the Novices scowled at her. " You can't go back, you know that."


"I know, Aes Sedai." Myrrhi replied.


"Now, go to my office, it is time for your punishment."


Myrrhi nodded then curtsied. She entered the White Tower, crying for the siblings she left behind.




Myrrhi was an Accepted now. Aes Sedai of the different Ajahs were pushing her from one side of a room to the other, never letting her moving on her own.


"Stoooop!" she wanted to cry out.


And then she woke up. Sweat had ran down her face and her back.


This is driving me crazy... She sat up on her bed. Brushing away the hair from her face, she sighed. Is this what has happened to me so far? Have I never been the master of my own destiny? I need to think...


It was still dark outside but Myrrhi didn't care. She went out of her bed and got dressed. Instead of picking something fancy, like she had done the days before, she chose the simplest dress she had. This will do, she thought as she gathered her hair in a bun.


She grabbed her cloak and left her room.


Things do need to change...


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.. Another Echo of a Windfinder’s Call  ..



Elessar was restless the entire day.


Over and over he reflected on his past Bonds and on the successes and failures he had experienced, and he knew from his memories that there had been a lot more positives than negatives. Even so, he resisted, as if admitting the truth was deceitful. His guilt-ridden conscience would not accept it yet.


Sitting now in the small private library in the Golden Seagull inn he looked out the windows at the sun shining and wondered when his soul would embrace its warmth. He was alone in the library which suited him well since he needed time on his own and in silent solitude. He thought back to the time, not that many days before, when he had stormed out of this very room after Myrrhi’s proposal that he Bond her. Shaking his head, he put his hands in his lap and wondered for the hundreth time what had transpired to bring him to this state. Was it the near-madness after Leandreen’s death? Was it his many perceived Bond-failures? Had his psyche been fragile even from childhood, waiting like a spider to spring when at the weakest? Or was it pure exhaustion, mental and physical, after many hard years in service as a Warder?


It was not talked about openly, but few Warders who survived their Aes Sedai’s death returned unchanged from the ordeal. Some managed to kill themselves in a death-quest of revenge against the Shadow, which had been Elessar’s intent before he was stopped, while others became mad from the ordeal and never truly regained sanity. Some strong - in mind and body - few were able to return close to unchanged but they were in the minority. The strength of the Bond, the closeness where Aes Sedai and Warder were, worked and acted as one, meant that when it was severed it had serious consequences for both parts. Thoughts of his days after Leandreen died were painful for Elessar, and though he did not doubt that something had died inside him as well that day - a grievous wound of the soul that he might always have to carry around - he turned his thoughts to fonder memories.


He remembered fondly his trip with Carys Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah, his Bondholder at the time, to the Windfinders at Toman Head and beyond.


That was no failure. He thought reflectively. We had some challenges along the way - mostly from the Atha’an Miere - but I think we handled them well.


Together.. in our sacred Bond..


In his mind’s eye, embracing the memories, he was back in Falme on that day when they arrived, Carys and he..



..They arrived in Falme just as the sun was setting, colouring the sky a beautiful red. The Warder and Sedai had ridden throughout the day with few stops and were very weary. Arriving at their end-destination, however, brought a touch of relief on their faces. It had been a long journey in many ways and it was good to be in Falme. They found an inn fairly near the waterfront - the Ocean Sweeps inn a sign proclaimed above the main entrance door - , handed their tired mounts to a young stableboy who seemed only half-awake but who lead the horses dutifully to the back of the establishment, and went inside to get two adjoining rooms for the night. A rather sour innkeeper brightened at the sound of coins in the pouch they carried and quickly got them the required rooms. A quick meal followed in the Common Room, alongside a somewhat rowdy crowd of locals and travellers from all over the land, and then they headed for their rooms and a very welcome nights sleep.


Their journey from Whitebridge had been a long one. They had travelled north-westwards in the direction of Baerlon, a small town in far western Andor, where they had arrived one late afternoon under a dark and cloudy sky. After spending a night at a local inn they had continued onwards through the Mountains of Mist north-west of Baerlon on the road that lead to Katar on the other side of the mountains, a city on the north-eastern edge of Paedish Swar, the Darkwood to the east of Almoth Plain.


Their passage through the mountains had been arduous, not the least because of days of rain and bad weather, and they had been happy to see the back of them. From Katar they had headed westwards towards Toman Head and Falme, at one point leaving the main road that lead to Bandar Eban, the Capital city of Arad Doman.


Much of the time they had ridden in silence, focusing on travelling as many miles a day as possible, but inbetween they had spoken a little and had conferred on practical matters. Elessar had continued his daily scouting-routine, even though no danger of any kind had been apparent, and they had continued their - by now - regular camp-routines when no inn had been close by. Life on the road had felt pleasant, compared to the more restricted life at the White Tower, but at the same time tiring.



The next day they saw what the city of Falme had to offer visitors. Elessar had been there once before many years ago, with his first Bondholder Leandreen, a travelling Green, but the place seemed.. different, somehow, this time. It was hard to say exactly what it was that gave him that impression, but the feeling persisted as they made their way through the city streets.


The Warder knew Falme’s history well.


Falme was a harbour on the Aryth Ocean which lays to the west. It was the largest city on Toman Head and on the Almoth Plain, though actually it was only of moderate size and some would, perhaps, rather call it a town . The city was formerly known as Miereallen while a part of the nation of Safer - ruled by  King Eawynd according to history records - during the Compact of the Ten Nations.


The next country to control the city was Darmovan. It is likely that the residents of Falme participated significantly in the famous “People’s Uprising” that squashed a rebellion against High King Artur Hawkwing. After the War of the Hundred Years, the nation of Almoth came into being. It controlled most of the Almoth Plain, as well as Toman Head and thus Falme. In time this country too faded away, as most nations do after a period of time ..



The Warder and Sedai continued down the street toward the harbour in the distance. Carys was to meet one of the Atha’an Miere, or the Sea Folk as some called them, a Windfinder from one of their huge ships. Elessar only knew the bare details, but he did know that his Bondholder was on an important mission for the White Tower and he would do all he could to help her fulfill it.


It was several days later, when the Warder remained standing by the quay-side, amidst ships of all sizes, gazing with interest at the buzzing life around him. Carys had been in talks with the Atha’an Miere daily since their arrival, but now she stood at his side on the stone docks, face serene, silently watching the surrounding activities with him. He sensed her through the Bond also. And like on so many previous occasions this remarkable Warder-Sedai connection made him smile inside.


The Borderlander-bred Gaidin’s gaze finally shifted to the sea. Staring thoughtfully at the endless sapphire-blue waters of the great Aryth Ocean, the ardent whispers of the south-eastern wind, touching the waves brushing insistently against the stone-based harbour docks of Falme, sounded to Elessar almost like An Echo of a Windfinder’s Call..




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"When are we leaving?" Myrrhi asked to Deana as she closed the book she had been working on the whole morning.


"I don't know, Dear." Deana replied, her eyes still on the sheet of paper she was reading. "Are you done with your business in Ebou Dar?"


"I am." The young woman smiled. She brushed some of strands of loose hair away from her face with her right hand. "We can leave for the Tower any time you want, as far as I am concerned."


The Senior Sister sighed. She didn't like to be away from Tarvalon - Myrrhi could feel it - but some books still needed to be copied. Deana could do it all by herself. However, that would mean staying at least one more week in the southern city. She could also ask one of the Palace scribe to do the work for her and be on her way to the White Tower the next day.


"I will have to think about it," the Brown replied. "I don't want to force you to stay in Ebou Dar, if you need to return to the Whiter Tower... "


"It's alright," Myrrhi said, placing a hand on the other Aes Sedai's shoulder. "Take the time you need."


On those words, she stood up. "I will be in the garden, if you look for me."


Deana nodded and resumed her reading.




Myrrhi walked for a while, then stopped in front of a bush of yellow roses. She had never seen flowers of such a rich color before.


The roses in the Tower gardens were beautiful as well but it seemed to her that their colors were less vivid than the ones on the flowers that ornamented the Tarasin Palace.


The memory led her to think about the time she had spent there, as a Novice. It is in the gardens that she had found the perfect spot to practice her channeling in secret, between an hedge and one of the Tower walls.


She had felt so powerful at the time. She was not one to break the rules for pleasure but she had felt that urge to work on the threads she had seen in class to master them faster than anyone else.


Things had changed when she had been caught by Jagen Sedai. What was the worst part? she wondered. The trip to the city? the chores that follow or that time with the stable boy? This one had hurt her feelings, not as strongly as Elessar had done, though. Still, she remembered it as it was yesterday.




"What are you up to, girl?"


Myrrhi almost chocked. A stable boy! She had not heard him coming. He was standing near the entrance of Vega's box and seemed to be very happy to have been able to startle a Novice, or so his grin - going from one of his ear to the other - told.


Trying to copy Jagen Sedai's ways of moving and talking, Myrrhi straightened her back and tried to look down at the new comer. It was not an easy thing to do, her head arriving barely to his shoulders.


"Jagen Sedai has asked me to take care of her horses and to clean them.", she sniffed. "You are not supposed to disturb me, I have many things to do", she added pointing the brush she had in one hand at the stable boy's nose.


"A horse is NOT cleaned like this" he told her. "and you can drop the act if you want me to help you." The new comer raised an eyebrow, his grin deepening.


Myrrhi scowled and hesitated, she really wanted to be fast about her chores and to go back to her studies as soon as possible. Surely, Jagen will not be angry if she learns that I have received some help. The Sitter will want her horses nicely taken care of. I will do the main tasks, and maybe let that boy do the dirtiest work... 

The Novice sighed. "Well", she replied " Show me how it is done."


Unfortunately, the hour that followed became one of the hardest in Myrrhi's life. As expected, the stableboy had been helpful, he had given her good advice and the horses did look perfect, now.


But - and this was not what the Novice had expected - she had had to do all the work, even the heaviest parts, all this under the watchful eyes of her new "friend". The "boy" had been sitting on a barrel, pointing at what she had to use and doing nothing more than describing what she had to do. He had kept on ordering her around, stopping only to make fun of her and her clumsiness. She had gotten angry many times, but it had not taken away the stable boy's smile.


He had laughed even more when she had fallen into a pool of water and manure, covering herself with brown goo from head to toe.


Never I will go near a horse again, the Novice had sworn to herself.


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.. Reminiscence and an Attempt to Learn from the Past  ..



Elessar’s thoughts remained fixed on his past all that day.


And on Carys.


And on their Bond.



Darkness was descending on the city of Ebou Dar, blanketing the sky and the ocean, but the Warder from Kandor lay awake in his bed in his room on the second floor of the Golden Seagull inn, deep in thought and memories.


The small part of him that tried to push against his heavier, darker, guilt-ridden side, whispered that there were positives to be taken from his past Bonds.. there were things.. benefits.. important lessons.. to learn from the Past.


Small pinpoints of Light slowly, ever so slowly entered through Cracks in his self-imposed Darkness..


In his mind, he was back with Carys on their fateful southern journey those years ago..


He remembered..



..Elessar had checked the bindings on the man and had then sat down on the edge of the bed. He had felt exhausted and something must have shown in his demeanour because Carys had found her feet and had placed her hands on him and soon after torrents of fire and ice had rushed through him, making him gasp, as weaves of Healing had swept away his pains and cuts and bruises. The Aes Sedai had reeled backward then, so exhausted she had barely managed to make it to the chair before her feet had given out. Elessar had looked up from the floor, his gaze cautious. She had blinked at him sleepily. “I'd like one night of peace now”, she had said. “Just one is all I'm asking. But the farmhouse awaits.” She had fallen asleep at once and Elessar had let her sleep where she was, putting a blanket on top of her.


Men had arrived in the night and had carried the bodies away without a word. No.. friends of their prisoner had come during the night, whether as a strike of luck or for whatever reason Elessar was grateful, and the Warder had gotten some watchful sleep. And in the morning Carys - looking much the better for the sleep - had taken care of matters with the innkeeper.


Now as they rode at a slow trot along the dusty road, Elessar watched everything in that way that Warders did so proficiently, gaze sweeping watchfully over the surroundings without seeming to. His colour-shifting cloak blended into the background, his sword fastened at his side. His mind should have been on the Darkfriend and on the danger that might be facing them at the farmhouse. Instead Carys’ words from the night before kept playing again and again in his head. 


“You're right I suppose”, she had said. “That should not be the first thing that we discuss - not that that means this matter is closed. Worrying about the other during a fight would be much easier if we were in the other's head.”


A Bond.


He remembered well the advantages of “being in the other’s head” as she had aptly described it. Of being Bonded. With both his Bondholders - Leandreen and Carrain - he had experienced the benefits. Knowing where your Bondmate was directionwise, knowing if he or she was alive. As a Bonded Warder he had also gained strength and endurance, better resistance to injury and a greater capacity to resist evil. Sometimes Elessar had also felt a feeling of.. shared and common purpose.. coming through the Bond, but he had never been quite able to decide whether or not that had been his imagination.


A Bond. And a Promise..



..They had only walked a few yards into the farmhouse when time suddenly slowed for Elessar. Something is wrong, he had thought. Everything started running in slow motion.. He was just ahead of Carys, stepping carefully around a corner, his eyes watching in every direction, when he suddenly heard the snap of a thread.. the wooshing sound of a drawn bowstring.. and then as his eyes widened in understanding the world stood still .. A trap! He had triggered a booby trap! Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement - something coming toward them - and with an instinctive protective reaction, he pushed the Aes Sedai out of the poisoned knife’s path. It all seemed to take forever..


He was, however, unable to move fast enough to avoid the knife himself, as well as a second knife which embedded itself in his chest with deadly precision. Elessar tumbled to the floor, bleeding hard. He got a knock on the head as he fell and as he opened his eyes a storm of pain enveloped him. He struggled to breathe and sensed paralysis overtaking him. Poison! The thought flashed in his mind. He sensed rather than saw a presense beside him. Who was there? Everything was so confusing.. He felt as if he were falling into blackness.


I am dying!


A final thought. A bitter thought.


The darkness beckoned seductively. The light in his eyes started fading..



..Elessar awakened to life.


He stared around him with wide eyes, his emotions tumbling over each other, his senses gradually returning. He felt very tired and it took a great effort for him to stand on his own. His whole body felt heavy but there was.. something.. which lightened his burden.


The Bond! Of course!


He could feel Carys - his Bondholder now - in the back of his head just as he had felt Leandreen and Carrain years ago. It was a strange feeling and one that could not well be described in words to someone who had not experienced it. Through the Bond he felt Carys’ exhaustion; bringing him back from near-death - he was certain that he had been lethally injured by those poisoned knives - must have cost her much. Even so, she projected some strength into him through the Bond and he knew that he would have been even weaker without it..



..He had been almost unconscious when she had brought him back to life. Plunging headlong into darkness, a never ending fall, his mind had somehow registered her voice. Somehow her words had reached him, pushing through the confusion and the excruciating agony. Panic had raced across his eyes as his feeble mind had understood what she was asking, followed by extreme pain. He had coughed, blood dribbling out of the corner of his mouth, and only when he was still again had he nodded his assent. As far gone as he had been, his survival instinct had taken over. What she had to do, she had to do, to save him. That was enough. That had ended all discussions.


Flashes in his mind. That was what he remembered from the Bonding and the Healing that Carys had performed to save his life. Flashes. He had shuddered and had shaken like a leaf in a storm, swept away on ferocious torrents he could not control. Flashes of Light and Darkness. Time and again. An eternal spiral from which there was no end.. And then waking.. as if from a dream..



Elessar checked the farmhouse for more booby traps, walking ever so carefully around so as not to spring another trap - he had not been careful enough the last time, not alert enough - but found none. Returning to the where Carys rested he shook his head in explanation - to which she nodded - and then remained standing close to her.


Finally, after a period of silence, he spoke. “Carys Aes Sedai, I want to thank you. You have saved my life..again.” He said. He was silent for a few seconds before he added,


“We seem Bound, you and I. We have walked into danger, time and again. Sometimes it almost seems that we are drawn to it.”


“For whatever reason”, he had added earnestly to Carys, “perhaps a Bond.. is what we Both need to stay alive.”




Edited by Elessar
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"We will return to Tarvalon in two days," Deana smiled. It seemed to Myrrhi that the Brown Sister had found a scribe she could trust. She would take care of a last book and let the scribe finish the work. Once done, he would personally come to the White Tower to bring the products of his work.


"Thank you, Deana." Myrrhi replied with a smile. "This will leave the time to finish the book I am currently reading and to return it to the Palace library." The two woman exchanged a couple of words about what Myrrhi was reading. Deana was surprised to see that the younger Sister could enjoy such a light reading. Indeed, so far, she had seen her deep down historical treaties or essays about the art of War and Combat. A novel about a scorned lover was very far from those more serious choices.


"Are you sure you don't want to borrow something else?" the Brown Sister inquired. "You can borrow some of the books I have taken along... Otherwise, there's a very interesting wing in the library about..."

"I will have a look, Deana," the young woman replied with a smile. "This one is pretty satisfying so far." She made a small pause. "Now, if you will excuse me?"


She wished the Brown a good afternoon and promised once more to go looking for more interesting material to read.




The Palace garden was as beautiful as it had been the days before. The flowers equally colorful as if time had not passed. Even if Myrrhi felt better and more confident than she had a couple of days ago, she still had not found the strength to get out of the Palace. She was afraid she would meet Elessar in the Ebou Dari streets, and she was not ready for that.


"Good day to you, Aes Sedai."


The young woman turned her head and saw a guard. The man seemed to be of the same age as her. To him, she would probably look very young, though.


"And to you, Guardsman." She replied. It is so surprising, she thought as she looked at the newcomer. He looks so much like that flaming Warder who refused me... Suddenly, an idea came to her mind.


"Guardsman?" She asked, with a small smile, hoping it would put the man at ease. She didn't want this one to refuse her as well, even if here she would not ask for a bond.


"Yes, Aes Sedai. What can I do for you?" Myrrhi appreciated that the tone of the Guardsman voice had not wavered. He had raised an eyebrow, surprised that an Aes Sedai was talking to him, but no fear emanated from him. Very good, she commented to herself. This is exactly what I need...


"I am in need of training... combat training." She specified, straightening her back. "Now, you have to understand that a lady of my station, can't do that in the open. Would you be so kind as to find a training area and practice weapons?" She said, making her question sounding like an order. "I will tell your superior that I am in need of your help, so that you can be covered for the remaining part of your shift."


"This will be a great honour, Aes Sedai." The man's face was like stone. If he had been surprised by the young Aes Sedai demand, no one would have known. "I am actually on my way home. My shift has just ended."


Myrrhi smiled. Losing herself in combat was something she thought she needed, new challenges would keep her mind busy.


The Guardsman indicated where they should meet and left to get the weapons Myrrhi had asked for.


As she crossed the Palace corridor to reach her training area, she thought back about the meetings she had had with Elessar in the Warders Yard. He had never really given her combat lessons. He had talked about some basic moves and helped her to build a better physical condition. He had taught her to ride, as well. It had been such nice times, but she had to build up new memories.





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..  ‘Flames of Saidar burned her Soul’ ..



“For whatever reason.. perhaps a Bond.. is what we Both need to stay alive.”


The whispers from the past, echoed in Elessar’s dreams that night and when he woke early the next morning he found that the message would not leave his mind.


We needed each other.. A moment of silent reflection. Together we were stronger.




He brushed the thought away, ambivalent feelings running through him, as he washed himself and quickly got dressed, but remnants lingered in his mind as he headed out into the city.



He had some errands to do but all the while, as he visited shops and vendors across Ebou Dar, his thoughts were on Carys and on their time together in their Bond. Those memories would not go away, as if his subconcious played upon his mind, guiding him in a given direction, and his thoughts and reasoning became.. equivocal.. confused.. as he mulled over his predicament.


It was a rainy day, one of very few this far south during this particular season, and he brushed the wetness away from his face as he somewhat haphazardly - his errands completed -walked down one street and up another. Soon, without being aware of it, he had re-entered the Rahad and kept walking down the alleys in the worn-down neighbourhood, lost in thoughts, as tears from heaven poured down on Ebou Dar.


He was back with his Bondholder Carys again in his mind..



..A tray had plopped down on the end of the table, steam from Elessar's breakfast mingling with the tangy scent of fresh fruit from Carys’. The innkeeper doled out the dishes and then placed the tray under his arm staring at them. The Warder returned the stare, wondering what the innkeeper wanted. He saw the Aes Sedai give the man a questioning look as well. The innkeeper opened his mouth to say something, closed it, opened it again, and then finally closed it again before walking away. Elessar grinned wryly, shaking his head slightly, and then began on his breakfast. It was delicious.


They ate in silence, though congenial. The food disappeared faster than it had taken to arrive. After a while Carys cleared her throat and began talking again. She said that she felt that she should tell him a bit about her past, as he had told her so much of his. She said that it was not a story filled with nearly as much, or the same kind of heartache, but it was hers to tell. Elessar nodded and leaned back somewhat in his chair to listen. It would be good to learn some more about his Bondholder. Their Warder-Sedai partnership depended on trust, on knowing each other well, for it to succeed. Now it was her time to share.


“I grew up in Altara, though I'm Andoran”, she had begun. He nodded to himself. From her fair complexion he had guessed that she might be from Andor. Then she told of her early years and of the apprenticeship with the Wise Women. Elessar learned a lot about the woman by listening to how she spoke about her past. It had not been an easy upbringing. ..We all have had our burdens to bear..., he thought. “Those women truly became my family”. She said. From her voice, Elessar could hear how much the Wise Women had meant to her.



She had had a small room to herself over the shop and there had always been a Woman on duty that stayed with Carys. “Apparently”, she said, “the shop was an.. affiliate of the Yellow Ajah.” Elessar understood what she meant. Leandreen had also spoken of such “affiliates” during their travels; not much since it was Ajah business as she had called it, but enough for him to get the picture. “When I turned fourteen”, she added, “an Aes Sedai stopped by to meet with two of the Wise Women. She found that I could channel and whisked me away to the White Tower the next day.” Carys spoke of how the Tower truly became her home as it was the only place in the world that she could fully and utterly devote herself to healing - and Healing people and animals. It was all she had ever wanted to do.


Carrain had said much the same when she had spoken to him of her passion to Heal. It was why she had joined the Yellow Ajah. Leandreen, on the other hand, a Battle Ajah-Sister to the core, had left him in no doubt from the very beginning that her mission in life was to fight the Shadow to the Last Battle and beyond. ..Your fiery hair matched your fiery spirit, Leandreen!.. he had thought with pride but also some sadness.


Elessar understood how Carys’ life had been centered on Healing. In Tar Valon. In the Infirmary. And how her life had been turned completely around by recent events. No wonder she felt a little out of her depth. “All I know”, she had said, “is that someone is killing innocent people and I've been charged to stop it. It's like the ultimate Healing, as if I'm bringing someone back from the dead, just a little earlier than necessary...” She trailed off.., then had added: “Anyway. I just thought you might want to know something about me since you're in my head and all.”


He had met her eyes and had nodded with a half-smile. “Thank you for sharing your story, Carys Aes Sedai”. He had said formally, as had always been his way, appreciating her honesty and trust..


My Bondmate..





Suddenly realizing where he was, the Gaidin began to pay more attention to the street and the rough neighbourhood through which he was walking. Because of the pouring rain there were few others about, but he felt - as always in the Rahad - eyes watching from the windows and alley-corners and knew it was prudent to be watchful.


Some time later, he crossed the street and went down several adjacent alleys that lead away from that quarter of the city, soon returning to the city proper. It was a drenched Warder who entered the familiar inn later that day, a very wet and mentally tired man who immediately headed up to his room for some needed rest.



That evening, with thunder crashing across the Southern skies, Elessar sat alone in the small library in the Golden Seagull inn. He needed to take his mind off his intense, weary, and confusing thoughts of late.. and he could think of no better way than to lose himself in stories and poems of the distant past. He had always had a passion for history, stories, legends and myths, and had read countless books on the subject. One such, a familiar book, now rested in his lap. He leafed through the pages, a smile upon his lips.


The book was called “Memories of Bygone Times”, a rare collection of stories and poems by an Andoran author called Gardar Norwelyn. The Warder had read it on a visit to Caemlyn some years before, but was pleasantly surprised to find a copy of it here in Ebou Dar as well, especially in this small inn-library. Perhaps an Andoran guest had brought it and donated it to the inn at some point in time? Who could tell.. For whatever reason, Elessar was pleased to see it and he swiftly leafed through the book, near the end finding what he was looking for. Another of his favourite poems.


It was called “Rose of the Sun (The Fall of Manetheren)”, author unknown, and was an old heroic and sad story about the ancient nation called Manetheren, in what was now a region of Western Andor, and its legendary Aes Sedai Queen Eldrene ay Ellan ay Carlan (the “Rose of the Sun”) who, together with her husband and Warder King Aemon al Caar al Thorin, led them in their valiant fight against the Shadow. Several, but not all, historians considered it authentic material, but whether fact or myth, or a mixture of the two, it was a great story, Elessar thought, and one he always enjoyed.


He soon lost himself in the dramatic, powerful - and above all tragic - story of brave Manetheren and its fall..





Rose of the Sun (The Fall of Manetheren)


“Carrai an Ellisande!” For the honour of the Rose of the Sun!

The Shield against the darkness, the Hammer weight to Stun.

The Sword that could not be broken. Was shattered in the End.

As valiant Manetheren, no longer could Defend.


Brave fighters of the land. Fought with pride and with Heart.

Under Red Eagle banner, they resisted Shadow’s Start.

Until Mountain Home was taken. No one came to their Aid.

Weep for Manetheren!, all their allies were Afraid.


King Aemon and his men ran to aid from Field of Blood.

Countless miles they covered, daring river huge and Flood.

Slaughtered beasts of Shadow. Crying battle cries of Might.

“Carrai an Ellisande!” echoed everywhere in Sight.


Brave warriors, brave King! They fell to Darkness’ Yoke.

When Aemon husband died, Queen Eldrene’s heart Broke.

Woe to the Shadow! With anger, grief and Pain.

An Aes Sedai of might, she struck out like Insane.


She filled herself to bursting. The Power oh so Sweet!

The Sa’angreal beside her, glowed brightly with its Heat.

She was an awesome figure. Her arms she lifted High.

And then she threw her Balefire and Storms of Lightening Nigh!


A harbinger of death. She destroyed the Shadowspawn.

The messengers of Darkness disappeared from Battle’s Lawn.

But her body came on fire. Flames of Saidar burned her Soul.

In her agony she cried out, for Manetheren, her Goal!


The destruction levelled all. Old Manetheren was Dead.

The Rose of the Sun, she was gone, it was Said.

But she would live forever. In many people’s Hearts.

And Manetheren’s bravery, is eternal in its Parts.


Oh Ellisande! Greatest Queen, we won’t Forget!

Your fight against the Shadow and the death you Met.

Mourn for Manetheren! The bravest place of All.

Honour to the Mountain Home! Your enemies shall Fall.






OOC: Another of my poems included / re-used above. I wrote it many years ago, inspired by Moiraine’s awesome retelling of the Fall of Manetheren in “The Eye of the World”.

Edited by Elessar
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Myrrhi brushed her hands away from her face with her finger. I shouldn't have insisted on training with my dress, she thought.


She had followed the Guardsman to a training room, never thinking about her outfit. She was wearing a regular green dress of Andoran cut that day, definitely not the kind of dress to wear while practicing combat moves.


"You have to watch your steps, Myrrhi Sedai. Move your feet at the same time as you move your arms."


The young woman focused her trainer's advice. Attacking with the One Power didn't require her to move a special way while she wove. Fighting with a bastard sword was completely different.


"Are you sure you don't want to have a break? We can stop for a while, you know."


"I am not tired!" Myrrhi protested. She felt her heart beating faster than usual. She also knew from how warm she was that her cheeks were red. "Are you?" She asked the Guardsman with a grin.


"Of course, not." he replied, smiling. The longer she stayed with him, the more Myrrhi found him good looking. Was it the sweat, sticking on his hair? Or only the fact that she had finally the time to look at a man without having other Aes Sedai behind her back.


Swords clanged against each other. Myrrhi took a defensive position, making a step back.


"Head!" the Guardsman announced. Immediately the Green raised her right arm and blocked the sword coming at her. "Leg!" Myrrhi made a step aside and shielded her leg with her blade. "Neck!" she replied. She made an upward arc with her weapon. The Guardsman was quickly pushed her sword aside.


For a while they went on fighting. The young woman knew that the man was paying attention to his hits. He didn't want to hurt her. But, he still tried to trick her when he could. Probably trying to impress her with his skills.


Time passed and the training room got darker.


"I think we will have to part, Myrrhi Sedai. The night will be upon us soon."


"And I think you are right," she replied, feeling her stomach protesting at having been empty for so long. She felt tired, more than she had expected, but she also felt more peaceful inside. Elessar had been away from her mind for the best part of the lesson and she had appreciated it.


She handed her sword to the Guardman. The man took it, and placed it on a well furbished rack.


"Will you be here tomorrow?" she asked, trying to sound casual.


"I will Aes Sedai. ... And it will be my honor to train you again."


Myrrhi made a small smile. "I wish you a good night, Guardsman."


"And I you", she heard her companion replying, as she left the room.

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.. Sowing tiny Seeds of Hope and Redemption ..



Another day dawned in Ebou Dar, the sun rising in the horizon, sending its golden rays down on the blue-green waters of the Sea of Storms. Elessar was already up and about, practicing his sword work in the yard behind the Golden Seagull inn.


It was a routine he had gone through many times before and he used many of the same sword forms but also combining them in inovative ways. Unsheathing his sword another time, the opening move flowed into Low Wind Rising, a diagonal slash which began low and rose cleanly, which was followed by The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain, a vertical slash starting high and which in this case altered course in midswing, paired with Tower of Morning, a verticle slash but this time beginning low and ending high.


In the Void he felt complete calmness, all his concerns about Bonding and his confused thoughts regarding Myrrhi gone for the moment, and truly felt one with his sword, a participant in a never-ending dance of motion. A few pearls of sweat beaded on his bare chest, arms and forehead as he moved efficiently through the forms, his focus all on his imagined opponent before him.


The Falling Leaf, a swift and effective move, and then straight into The River Undercuts the Bank, a bold move involving dropping to one knee in order to make a horizontal cut at the enemy's abdomen or legs. Flowing from one stance into the next, his blade swung high and low with deadly precision and speed, in the way only an experienced Warder of near-Blademaster skill could manage.


For quite some time, as the glowing sun rose slightly higher in the sky, he continued moving from one form into the next, smoothly and expertly, until at last he ended the session with Folding the Fan, sheathing his blade. The sword was smoothly swung around from guard stance and sheathed, all in one motion. He breathed a little heavily, but that was to be expected after this prolonged exertion, and he was well pleased with the double practice session, not the least because it had also taken him away from his worries for a time.



Later that day, under a light blue southern sky, the Warder stood by the seafront and watched the waves crashing upon the rocks and the beaches. His thoughts were back with his former Bondholders, again, his memories playing over and over in his mind the endless amount of moments and instances, great and small, that he had shared with them.


He remembered well his first meeting with Kathleen.




He had been going through the sword forms in the Warder’s Yard when she had come upon him. He had recognized her Green shawl which had made him think of his dead Battle Ajah-Sister. He had much respect for the Green Ajah and had greeted her politely. Without thinking, he had whispered: “We stand ready”, and he thought he had seen an almost imperceptible nod from the Sister.


"Good morning to you as well, Gaidin.” The Green Aes Sedai had replied. “You hold your form well." They had shared some idle chatter, Elessar downplaying his skill. He had then mentioned Leandreen, gaining a strong first impression of honour and integrity in this woman of the Green before him, and had opened himself up to her and told her of his former Sedai’s life-long fight against the Shadow - and her death.



"A cause worth fighting for. A cause worth dying for." Kathleen had said in reply. Seeing the pain and loss in his eyes, she had added, "We still fight that fight where ever we go. We pick up from where the others left off and we carry on to complete their mission as long we can.  Even if our travel companions and our methods may change over the years. We carry on the pride and we carry on the fight, in our own ways."


He had studied the woman before him, the Battle Ajah-Sister. He did not think he had seen her before that day. The Green Ajah had many members and he only knew of a few from his time with Leandreen many years before. This woman’s Aes Sedai-face had been ageless but something about her eyes had spoken of some age and life experience, or at least that had been his impression. Suddenly he had realized something. Shaking his head slightly, he had faced her squarely.


 “Forgive me for my lack of manners, Aes Sedai.” He had given a Warder’s salute. “I forget myself. I am Elessar of Kandor.”


"I'll forgive yours if you forgive mine," she had smiled, "It is been good to meet you, Elessar. I am Kathleen, Sister of the Green Ajah, as you have clearly picked up on."



Kathleen’s voice echoed in his mind. Telling him that they had to pick up from where others left off and carry on to complete their missions as long as they could. Even if their travel companions and their methods may change over the years. They carry on the pride and the fight, in their own ways.


Am I dishonouring your memory, Leandreen - by giving up? He was thinking now. Was Kathleen right after all, that we should carry on the mission against the Shadow, also to honour our fallen? I believed so once, and did so with Kathleen, and also with Carrain and Carys of the Yellow, who in their own ways - through Healing the Pain and Wounds in the world - fought the Darkness in all its forms. Why should it be any different with Myrrhi, another Green Sister? Why am I so afraid of failure? Why am I so afraid of another Bond? Is this not my sacred Duty?


His thoughts tumbled across one another in his mind and he closed his eyes for a moment, his fists clenched. A breeze came in from the sea, the soft wind touching his cheeks and his face. The pain in his soul swept over him, as it often did, but at the same time small pinpoints of light - of hope - weakened the pain somewhat, as he considered Kathleen’s words again and again.


He stood there for a long time, deeply lost in memories and reflections.


His self-imposed guilt and his wounded soul were, of course, still present as he finally left the seaside and headed for the Golden Seagull inn; they had festered over several years and would not disappear over night. But a slight doubt over his negative, destructive thoughts had arisen in him - and tiny Seeds of Hope and Redemption were slowly, ever so slowly, beginning to grow inside him.




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Myrrhi tried to smile as she lifted her spoon. "The soup is excellent," she started. Her back was still hurting from the training she had had earlier that day. As a good Sister of the Green Ajah, she had tried to pay attention to her physical condition but never had she had to work out that hard since her time as an Accepted. The spoon seemed to weight tons.


Deana raised her head from the parchment she had been reading since she had sat at the table.


"Is it?" The Brown Sister said raising an eyebrow before resuming her reading.


"Are we still leaving tomorrow?" the young woman inquired after a while.


Again, the Brown raised her head from her parchment and sighed. "It's ... a .... complicated." She made a pause. As if to find support, she looked around. Her eyes settled on her Warder and she went on. " I indeed told you we would be leaving tomorrow but, when we last spoke, I didn't know I would discover such an interesting material ..."  Words flowed from her mouth at an impossible speed. One would have thought that Deana Sedai had made the discovery of the century by simply picking up a couple of bound pages from a dusty shelf. "So, I would love to stay two more days," she concluded after ten good minutes.


"It's alright, Deana." Myrrhi answered. "I don't mind. There's something I need to take care of, before going back to Tar Valon. Those extra days will be of great help."


The Brown's eyes shone. "Very well then. Two more days..."


Feeling that her Senior wanted to go back to her studies, Myrrhi left the table and, by a small sign of the head, allowed the servants to take care of her plates.


On her way back to her room, she took the time to think about what had happened to her during the past few days. She was finally feeling she was "herself". She had been able to make her own choices. It is only because she had wanted it that she had trained. It is because she wanted to stay in Ebou Dar that she was still there. Indeed, she had discovered that other Aes Sedai  - who had been staying in the city - were bound to the Tower on the morrow. She could have joined them but had decided against it.


She had felt so happy after her time with the guardsman that she had wanted to prolong her stay. She had hoped that Deana would have wanted to stay in Tarasin Palace as well. Indeed, the woman had not had the chance to comb the entire library yet and it was something she had wanted to do, or so she had told on their way to Altara. Seeing how she had talked at the dinner table, the young woman was pretty sure that those extra two days the Brown had asked would easily become four if not five.


The young woman eventually arrived to her apartments. As she passed the door, she saw a serving girl still busy changing the flowers. A very good coincidence, Myrrhi thought.


"Could you tell Guardsman Cyrill that I need him to be of assistance again tomorrow?" she asked, focusing on keeping an emotionless face. She didn't want the girl to think that his assistance could be anything out of the ordinary.


"Guardsman Cyrill you say? Of course Aes Sedai." The girl curtsied, quickly finished to arrange the flowers and rushed away.


After a quick toilette and donning a new silken shift, Myrrhi climbed on her bed. Laying down seemed to be the best option for her. Her muscles were cooling down and they were getting stiffer every second. She took a book and read for the best part of the evening until she fell asleep.




Her dreams were a strange mix of everything that had happened to her so far in Ebou Dar but the face of Elessar seemed to be everywhere. She met him in the library to help him out with his studies, she found him in a tavern where they both ate and sang, she found him again on the city outskirts wandering near dangerously high cliffs, she had him training her with swords in the palace courtyard...


Why am I dreaming about the man when I should forget about him? She wondered when she woke up at dawn. She tried to empty her mind, concentrating on the book she had been reading before going to sleep, as she closed her eyes again. But it didn't work. She fell back asleep and dreamed about the Gaidin once more.

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.. Adrift in Dreams twisting Past, Present and a possible Future ..



That night Elessar was lost - adrift - in Dreams and Memories..



He was together with Kathleen again, visiting, sitting in her chamber in the White Tower, having just recited to her one of his favourite poems.


Her voice flowed through his mind..


"A lovely tale, and quite an impressive memory on you!” Kathleen quipped. “You'd do good to avoid the Browns, I'm sure they'd snatch you up if they caught on."


Elessar could do nothing but grin at that remark. A Brown Sister had, in fact, once, a long time ago, ‘pounced’ on  him when she had discovered him in the History section of the great Tar Valon Library, seated at a table all on his own with six thick volumes of Sethad’s grand “History of the World: Truth and Myth” before him, intently reading. Whether her interest came from the oddity of seeing a Warder in the library with a nose deep in a set of thick books, something which might give her reason for intense study for the next few years, or from his impressive memory when he recited a long and intricate poem by heart when she asked, something which also would make for a deliciously long period of study for the Brown, Elessar did not know. In truth, he was just as glad when she was gone. Being Warder to a Brown had to be a very.. interesting.. experience.. but Elessar was frankly not quite sure he was up to it.


"They almost snatched me up and all,” Kathleen continued. “I was quite suited to the Browns, before I made a turn for the Gray which landed me here in the Green halls." Kathleen let out a laugh, not even trying to hide it. "I suppose if I could have had the Tower training without being able to channel I would have ended up in one of the two. Studying up, soaking up the information, I couldn't get enough. But I wanted to do something with it, and since I can channel I thought I ought to use that gift to the best of its abilities. So with information, a will to keep the peace and seek justice and a heart of desire to make things explode with wave of my hand, here I am, right where I belong!"


At one point Kathleen’s face changed into Myrrhi’s.. and then back again.. and despite being in his reality with Kathleen.. he was at the same time aware of the strangeness before him.. As she spoke, her voice also changed into Myrrhi’s for a few sentences.. before turning back.. and Elessar’s mind grasped at this weirdness while listening to Kathleen talk..


When she finished, he grinned broadly at her passionate statement..



..He was drawn into her eyes.. deeper and deeper.. and then.. sunlight streamed across the Borderland skies, as they stared upon his hometown in Kandor.


"I would love to see the places which hold special life to you."


Myrrhi’s words echoed in his mind.. no, they were Kathleen’s, weren’t they?.. as he pointed out yet another special feature of this Borderland town. The wind was picking up a little later as they walked down the ridge and onto the road that lead through the center of the town. Locals walked by, children looking at the fearsome warrior and the graceful lady with some awe - as children often were wont to - while the adults for the most part kept their eyes on the road ahead and at their business at hand. Elessar saw a few Borderlanders from neighbouring lands as well - a Shienaran man with a charcteristic shaved face and wearing his hair in a topknot hurried past them down the road while another man, an Arafellin by the looks of his clothes and the bell in his hair, strode by with a polite nod to Warder and Sedai both. None of the passersby had the hoods of their cloaks up, of course; all knew that no one may go among Borderland towns or cities with their face hidden, by law. A strict rule perhaps, or at least some Southerners thought so, but it was a necessity this close to the Blight and the deadly minions of the Shadow.


"There is something I want you to see". Elessar said, as he lead his Bondholder.. Myrrhi? .. to the ruins of an old building-structure on the western part of the small town. It had been a stables of sorts once, paired with a small building that had housed a smithy, but now it was all worn down and had been abandoned long since. "Father used to take us here on occasion when I was a boy". He explained, gazing at the ruins as memories came back to him. The Aes Sedai studied him as he spoke. "My brothers and I would play outside while my father talked with the owner inside. There were horses here and a smithy as well. I remember picking up bits and pieces of metal that had been discarded by the blacksmith and pretending it was a warrior’s sword I was holding and that I was a famous warrior, swinging the blade heroically against imagined opponents of the Shadow. " An amused smile came upon his lips at the adventurous dreams of young boys. "This was always one of my favourite places in this town and I always begged father to go here whenever we visited."


Elessar showed his Bondholder.. now it was Kathleen’s face beside him..  a couple of other places in town that also had special meaning for him, before they returned to the ‘Northern Blade’ inn. There they saw to their horses - the Warder gave Stormbreaker and Myrrhi’s mount - Myrrhi’s? Not Kathleen’s..? - there was confusion in his mind, his dream twisting time and what was with what could be.. as he gave the horses a carrot and an apple each to enjoy - before sharing a lunch in the Common Room and then retiring to their rooms..



His eyes met hers.. sinking into them.. and his surroundings changed again..


It was another evening at the Telcontar Estate, with Kathleen and Elessar seated opposite each other in the pair of ancient wooden chairs in the octagonal room which was otherwise filled with old paintings of prestigious Telcontar ancestors. They had come to enjoy these daily talks in the library, a part of the estate a little secluded from the rest, a refuge - at least for Elessar - from the tension that permeated the family and its surroundings.


It distressed the Warder that his father was still - after renewed attempts - totally opposed to a reconciliation and Elessar was, in truth, beginning to give up hope that the situation would be resolved any time soon. His and his Sedai’s time in the library was a way for him to get away from his present emotional distress, if only for a moment, but he also enjoyed the conversation with his Bondholder and felt that they were, step by step, gaining better understanding - and trust - of one another.


Elessar’s hands were clasped before him as he shared another story, this one from the time just after he had passed Warder-training in the Tower, with Kathleen.. Or was it Myrrhi? The woman’s face seemed to change as he spoke. Back and forth several times.. After she had shared one of her own stories with him, she quieted and pulled back in her chair. Then she spoke but there was a added seriousness in her voice this time. He met her eyes and listened attentively. She explained that she had a favour to ask of him, and that she would understand if he was not comfortable with it, and if that were the case he should say so and she would not ask again. As she spoke on the Warder listened in silence. He nodded to himself as she explained, attentive to the words and to the meaning behind them.


"And, if I have weakness or doubt you should know it, for you cannot protect what is vulnerable if you are unaware of its existence", she said, and he appreciated her honesty and the truth of her words.



Myrrhi .. no, it was Kathleen.. spoke about how she had enjoyed their Bond so far and their journey, as well as the hospitality of his family estate, but that she was concerned that she was feeling.. out of practice.., that she had over a long period in the Tower inadvertantly ‘let her skills slip’, as she put it, something which now was coming to mind during their travels. Elessar nodded, understanding well what she meant, knowing also that she was telling him this because this was something that could - and would - affect their functional work as a Warder-Sedai team.


He intuitively felt where this was going, but let her speak on, out of respect and integrity, without any interruption.


"Not that I long for battle, of course"; she added a little later in the explanation, "more that I long for reassurance that my instincts and skills are still sharp."


He understood perfectly. She was Green, a Battle Ajah Sister, and just like for Gaidin skills needed to be honed, to be polished, ready for battle.


Myrrhi.. Kathleen.. also Leandreen .. he looked at her and could not distinguish between them.. the Green Aes Sedai.. took a deep breath and seemed to struggle with the words then, as she explained how she recently on several occasions had felt.. rusty.. with poor reaction timing.. Elessar understood that this was difficult for her to admit, and it made him appreciate her words and the trust and faith she put in him all the more. She ended her explanation by saying:


"So, enough of the moaning and onto the favour. Gaidin, will you train with me?” The voice was Kathleen’s, with an echo of Leandreen’s, but the eyes were.. Myrrhi’s. “If you agree, I will work around your plan to sharpen my skills with reaction timing, I promise a fair fight...most of the time."



His intense Dreams inter-mingled all night, as he lay restless in bed, tossing and turning, old memories and fresh memories and.. possibilities.. tumbling over one another in his mind, in no particular order.. twisting Past, Present, and a possible Future..


And his various Sedais and Bondmates.. and Myrrhi .. came to him, spoke with him, shared their time and travels with him, their voices and faces and eyes changing, their features different, their personalities individual.. but always the same woman.




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Myrrhi brushed the sweat away from her forehead. No one in the Palace would have recognized her in this state, with her hair sticking to her skull and her tunic stained by big wet patches.


Three hours before, she had received a message from the Guardsman, inviting her to come to the "same spot as yesterday". The message was accompanied by a small parcel tightly wrapped in a piece of green fabric. The young Aes Sedai had laughed as soon as she had noticed the color. It was of the exact same shade of green as the fringes of the shawl she had been wearing in Ebou Dar.


She had waited for the delivery boy to leave the room to open the folds of the fabric. She had wanted some privacy, not knowing what Cyrill had wanted to give her.


It was a training outfit of Andoran cut, green of course. The breeches had been cut to be comfortable for a female fighter. The same could be said of the tunic which was a bit larger for the chest and at the hips.


She had donned them immediately, giggling like a girl. It had felt strange but also exciting to receive a present from someone she had only met the day before. He probably wants me to find a job for him at the Whiter Tower, Myrrhi had thought. Well, if he trains me well enough... I may decide to give his name to the Tower Guards hierarchy.




Now, she knew why she had received the outfit. It had definitely not been a present meant to seduce her nor anything of the like. She had needed it for the lesson. She had jumped, run, danced, jumped again  … the training had been much more serious than what she had expected. It would have been impossible to go through it in a dress.


«Now, back to the guards. What are they, again ? » the Guardsman asked with a grin.


Summoning her Aes Sedai composure, Myrrhi straighten her back and recited the list. When she was done, she moved her arms and sword to show every guarding position one after the other.


« Well done, Myrrhi Sedai. And, What about the basic moves ? »


Once more, the young woman recited her lesson. Each time she gave a name, she moved her sword, arms and legs to show what she had learned.


She was barely done when the Guardsman suddenly rushed towards her, blade raised up high above his head. She met his sword with hers in a big clang. Myrrhi made her blade glide alongside the Guardsman's weapon till she blocked it with her hand guard. She pushed it then on the side.


"And now, Guardsman, what do you think of this?"


"I think," he started, then made a pause. "That you still need more training." With those words, he dropped his sword, pulled a dagger from behind his back and thrusted it towards the young woman's throat stopping an inch before reaching her skin.


"That is cheating," Myrrhi protested. Her face white and her heart beating so strongly that it could have jumped out of her chest. She opened herself to Saidar, its sweetness giving her back some assurance. She channeled a thread of Air to push the Guardsman away from her.


"And that is cheating too," he replied still grinning.




The night came and Myrrhi found herself wanting to walk in the city. The training had been hard but she felt good - not too tired and quite confident. She didn't fear to meet Elessar as much as before. She even felt that she missed him. Indeed, she had things to tell him now, things completely unrelated to the bond she had proposed.  I'd love to try some of those sword tricks with you, silly Gaidin, she thought as she grabbed her cape.


The Warder was definitely a better swordsman than Cyrill, but the Guardsman had showed her things to surprise opponents. Special moves that no one would expect, especially from an Aes Sedai, and give her precious time to attack. Of course she had the One Power to defend herself but it could ... one day... not be enough.


She felt as if having someone new to spend some of her time had also opened her eyes. If Elessar didn't want to be her Warder, she could find someone else. His refusal was not the end of her. As she was reflecting about ways to tell him all that, her feet took her towards the Golden Seagull. It's only when she reached the front door of the inn that she noticed where she was.


What am I doing here, she wondered. Quickly, she looked around hoping her eyes would not meet any known face. Seeing none, she turned away almost as quickly and went back to the Mol Hara Square.

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.. In the Lee of the Statue of Queen Nariene ..



Staring down the busy Ebou Dari street, Elessar’s thoughts were elsewhere.


He was thinking about the multitude of intense - partially twisted - dreams.. memories.. of the night before.. and about all his Sedais and Bondholders..


Most of all, he thought of Myrrhi.


Her sparkling blue eyes flashed in his mind.


He had awakened that morning feeling exhausted, his head heavy as boulders and his thoughts muddled, and it was only some hours later, after a decent breakfast and a walk outside in the fresh air, that he had started to feel somewhat better.


His thoughts kept returning to those dream-memories though, and to his many years as a Bonded Warder.


To his sacred, honoured duty.


As a Gaidin.



He recalled a conversation with Kathleen about Aes Sedais and Warders.


About stereotypes - and duty.


And sacrifice.



Her voice echoed in his mind..


“Though, you surely live with that same stereotype each day, being a Warder as you are.” She had added, after explaining about stereotypes of Sisters of the White Tower.


She was right. Most common people had stereotype-views about Warders. A Warder was a soldier, a warrior, a man who primarily used brute force - albeit with great sword-skill - to protect his Aes Sedai against the Shadow. Those who knew more about Warders, who knew of the Bond and of the service performed by the Gaidin, knew that there was much more to being a Warder of the White Tower.


“You are right about the stereotype”, he said facing the Aes Sedai. “A Warder is to many people simply a kind of ‘bodyguard war-machine on two legs’. Of course, there is much more to it, as we know well.”


“I remember what my old Warder-teacher, Andrian Gaidin, said on the subject in a class we had many years ago”, Elessar added after another sip of his drink, drawing on his strong memory.



“’We all bring what we are into the role of the Warder”, he said. “We are all individuals and that diversity enriches us, it makes us stronger, it makes us wiser. And then through training we learn more and gain experience and wisdom in all the ways important to make a good Warder. And in case some of you think all that matters is to be proficient with a sword,  think again! A Gaidin must besides being a proficient fighter and warrior be knowledgeable about the world since he and his Sedai will travel often in their service, he must know survival in the wild, first-aid, several languages, history, politics and all the other things necessary to become a Sedai’s protector, advisor and trusted friend. That is why Warder-training is rigorous and only the best of the best manage to come through it to gain the Gaidin’s fancloak.”


A young Elessar had listened intently, taking the shared wisdom to heart.


“Let me return, for a moment, to what I said earlier.” The old teacher had said a little later. “Many do believe that a Warder’s chief attribute is his strength with a weapon, but that is not so! Your mind is your strongest weapon. With your mind you can reflect, you can make a decision, you can choose a path, you can control your passions, you can make for the best protection and the wisest course. With your mind you can control urges of endangering pride or ferocious viciousness; you can keep fear and emotions in check; with your mind you can focus on the task at hand and nothing else. And cloaked in the Oneness - embraced by the Flame and the Void - you can direct you sword where you want, in the perfect and controlled Dance of the Blade. The Strength of a Gaidin comes from his mind .. and it flows into his Sword..”



“Remember,” the old Gaidin added finally, ”in our service to Aes Sedai and the White Tower we give willingly, we are dutiful and strong; we serve humbly, dutifully, loyally, honourably, strongly - and through our protection and service - to death and beyond - we give the Aes Sedai the opportunity to serve the Light and the World.”



“My old teacher was a very wise man,” Elessar said to Kathleen when he was finished. “I agree with his sentiment.”


“It’s what every Warder should strive for.”


“Though”, he had added half to himself, “I think the White Tower has yet to house the perfect Warder..”



Elessar spotted her from the street corner.




 He was about to cross the street to the Golden Seagull inn when he saw her approach the inn’s front. Though she was some way off, he recognized her immediately. She halted in front of the entrance, seemed to consider her next action for a moment, and then taking a quick look around she turned on her heels and returned down the street from where she had come. An instant’s doubt made him hesitate, but then his legs carried him after her, parallell to her on the other side of the street.


He needed to talk to her.


No matter how confused and ambivalent were his feelings about the Bond, he needed to speak with the young Aes Sedai.


We need to speak, Myrrhi..




Just before the Mol Hara Square, he hurriedly crossed the street, barely avoding an oncoming carriage drawn by four black horses, and headed after her. As she entered the square, some ten yards or so in front of him, he shouted, “Myrrhi! Wait!” The sound carried above the noise in the street and she stopped in her tracks, turning at the sound of his voice. He came to a stop before her and gave a polite, respectful nod, his face slightly flushed.



“Thank you for waiting, Myrrhi.. Aes Sedai”, he added as they faced one another.


Behind them, in the center of the square, the famed Statue of Queen Nariene, her expression peaceful, her light gray hand stretching out toward the sea, remained as a Beacon of Hope.




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Back to the Mol Hara Square, Myrrhi sighed. She didn’t want to go back to her apartments yet but she didn’t know where else she could go. Deana had no need of her at this hour. They had scheduled a meeting early the next day, but in the meantime the Brown Sister had asked to be left undisturbed. She had to work on something « very important » she had said, without giving more explanations.


The young woman hesitated. She could walk some more, hoping that this time her feet would not lead her to any tricky part of the city, or she could go back to the Palace gardens. Strangely the sight of its colorful flowers always managed to make her feel particularly well. In a couple of days it had become her favorite place in Ebou Dar. Since the air was warm enough to stay outside, she could go there, pick a bench and spend some time reading.


She was almost half way through the square when she heard someone calling for her. « Myrrhi! Wait!».


Her heart tightened, the voice resembled Elessar’s. She didn’t dare to turn around immediately. Maybe I have imagined it… He’s not here. It’s another man calling another woman… Unfortunately, the young Green had to admit to herself that there were few chances that another « Myrrhi » was nearby. Especially since she had never encountered someone wearing the same name as hers.


Slowly, she swept her surroundings with worried eyes. Please, it can’t … But, there he was. The tall Warder was standing, a couple of paces away. What is he doing here ? she wondered. She hoped that he had not seen her in front of the Seagull. She didn’t want him to know that she had hesitated to come to talk to him. It could be seen as a sign of weakness - walking to a door only to turn her back and go away - and, most of all she wanted to show herself as strong.


The Warder advanced quickly. With a few steps he closed the distance between them. Then, he made a small and polite nod. Myrrhi noticed his cheeks were slightly flushed, just like hers.


« Thank you for waiting, Myrrhi…Aes Sedai » he added after a short break.


« Elessar Gaidin ! » Myrrhi replied, trying to sound cheery. She smiled.


It felt strange to have him so near. He didn’t look angry at her not disappointed. He seemed to be same as before, before that last time when he had refused her so vehemently. Still, there was something different about him. Myrrhi didn't know exactly what but she decided she would inquire.


She noticed that she didn’t feel angry herself. "I am happy to see you," she said.


As the words left her lips, she thought about the Three Oaths. Even if she had cursed him so many times in the past few days, she was genuinely happy to see him.


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.. Some first Tentative small Steps ..



"I am happy to see you," Myrrhi said.


From the look in her face, Elessar thought she meant it - and that made him glad inside.


He guessed that she too - like him - had some hurt, confused, ambivalent feelings after the way he had rebuffed her offer of a Bond, but right now she hid those feelings well. Aes Sedai were good at hiding emotion, but even so he felt her expression was genuine. He also found that he was pleased to see her again. His doubt and uncertainty with regards to her and her offer were diminished, and when he replied that he was happy to see her too, he meant it.


They stood near the center of the square, with the famed Statue of the Queen not far behind them. People walked by, giving them a customary glance, but the two did not notice. Elessar saw that her cheeks were slightly flushed just like his and for a moment he was caught in her sparkling blue eyes. Then, focusing, he nodded toward the magnificent Tarasin Palace in the distance.


“Let’s walk to the Palace”, he said in measured tones as he stepped in that direction. “We can find a bench in the Gardens and talk a little.” She nodded and followed him, though it was difficult to read her expression.


As they walked, Elessar’s thoughts went back to the first times he had met the then Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen in the Warder’s Yard. She had had some questions she needed answered. At one of their meetings, when they had talked, she had asked to see the dagger he had among his weapons..



"Is that your dagger?" She had asked him of a sudden. She tried to show a small smile and seemed to him a little less edgy. She was indicating a long dagger among the equipment he had grabbed earlier. Elessar, taken by surprise, gave a slight shake of his head. "Yes," he answered, somewhat confused. "Can I have it?" She asked. "Just to hold it, mind you. Not to kill you with it." The Accepted giggled - an impulse of youth, he thought - and Elessar was hard pushed not to grin at her comment. Though often serious in nature, he enjoyed good jokes and humour. Warders were not as stone-hearted as some thought. Not all of the time anyway.


Wordlessly he handed her the dagger. It was a simple dagger, but of good Murandian workmanship, with a pommel in the shape of a thick circle. The leather bands around the hilt had recently been replaced due to tear and wear. It wasn’t a weapon he often used, in truth, but it could be handy in a close combat situation and it was prudent of him to practice with it at times. He had brought it with him this day because he had neglected practicing with it for a long period, having focused on other weaponry.


Perhaps she had read about daggers in books or had seen Warders or trainees practice with them here in the Yard. Perhaps his story of Leandreen had inspired this young Accepted to get a feel for a weapon. Perhaps she was a Green Ajah, Battle Ajah-Sister in the making.. For whatever reason, she showed great interest in the weapon, her blue eyes shining with seeming eagerness. He watched her carefully, keeping safety in mind, as she tried to balance it on her forefinger. She placed it so her forefinger would be right under the connection between the blade and the hilt. Abruptly the dagger shifted and fell to the ground.


"I am so sorry", said Myrrhi as she went down on her knees to grab the dagger. Elessar reacted instantly, knelt down swiftly and holding onto her arms helped the young woman back to her feet. He took the dagger carefully away from her, giving her a mildly lopsided grin as he said wryly: "I’ll take that. Balancing different kind of weapons needs some practice as you can see. Best I keep hold of this dagger, just in case: we wouldn’t want you to stab me in the heart with it, no.." She had blushed again though he pretended not to notice, hoping his attempt at humour in the situation would lessen her embarassment over her perceived clumsiness somewhat..



He had a good feeling inside, his multitude of doubts about himself and a Bond, and his inner guilt and self-recrimination, momentarily quelled, as they walked through the Palace gates and onto the extensive grounds.


They had walked in pensive silence from across the square, as if in unspoken agreement with a view to the spoken words that were to come, with Myrrhi a step or so behind him. As a Sister of the White Tower perhaps she should have been a step or so in front of him, but they both seemed to fall into the common routine of before with him leading the way. Now that they were on the Palace grounds, however, the Gaidin slowed his step and let the Aes Sedai take the lead. She might know of a good, somewhat secluded spot, among the trees and flowers where they could sit down and talk.


Elessar went over in his mind what he would say. As they arrived at their destination, he had still not decided how to put his thoughts into words.




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Myrrhi was happy to see that Elessar was glad to see her as well. The way he said it, his body movements, reassured her. Before talking further, the young woman took a deep breath. She looked at the Warder and noticed that it was hard for her to look away from his face. Him being here, next to her, made her feel safe. She had forgotten about how good it was to have him around. In a flash, some of their previous conversations passed through her mind. Long talks about history, war, poetry... It was a real pity that they had to fight about the bond.


The Gaidin nodded, pulling Myrrhi away from her thoughts. "Let's walk to the Palace," he said, smiling. "We can find a bench in the Gardens and talk a little." The young woman nodded. She had wanted to smile and to comment about what she thought of the Gardens but she didn't dare to do it. She decided that it would be best to keep a small wall between the both of them... at least for a while.


Following Elessar, she looked around. They had been standing near the center of the Mol Hara, near the statue of the Queen Nariene. It was an exquisite piece of art. Many people seemed to be drawn by it, as they came by, they raised their head as if to salute her.


It is a good thing that we are going somewhere else, the young Green thought. Even if the statue attracted more attention than her and her companion, she didn't like to stay in the open like this. Who knew what could happen to the two of them that day. But this time, whatever happens, I won't cry !


As they arrived near the Palace entrance, the young woman's eyes swept the faces of the Guardsmen. She was hoping that Cyrill, the guard who had trained her was not around. She didn't want the man to comment on their training in front of the Warder, as she didn't know how he would react. Would he be impressed by those lessons? Would he be disappointed in her? First, she wanted to see how he would react to some hints before telling him everything she had done this past few days.


By chance, all the Guardsmen they met were complete strangers to her.


She smiled, good! Her smiled transformed itself into a grin, as she noticed that walking one step behind Elessar allowed her to walk freely without having to control her face. Of course, as an Aes Sedai she had learned the tricks to keep her face as emotionless as possible but the Warder knew her. Some of those tricks would not work on him.


As they went further into the Palace grounds, Elessar slowed down. The young woman wondered why at first. What is he doing? She thought. But, when the Warder gave her a little nod as she arrived to  his level, she understood. She was supposed to take the lead. No danger were supposed to be around and she was supposed to be in charge. She nodded back and hurried her steps. Walking in the front felt less comfortable. She tried to show her strength by straightening her back and raising her head.


Fortunately, the Gardens were not far, once one had passed the Palace door.


In a few minutes they arrived to their destination. Myrrhi first stopped in front of a bush of one of her favorite roses and commented briefly on them. Flowers had started to be a good distraction for her, lately. She hoped that it would help her feel a bit less tensed.


Her second target was a small fountain. She pushed her hands in the water and played with it for a while. This time, she talked about the Palace history. Slowly, it became easier to talk. Jumping from one anecdote to another, she even managed to laugh.


Then, she pointed at a small bench, set behind an old olive tree. It was sufficiently on the side to give them both intimacy without having them totally hidden from the Gardens visitors. A perfect and very respectable spot.


"Maybe we could sit here?" she asked, smiling as she placed one of her hands on Elessar's forearm.



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