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A Bond of Redemption (attn. Myrrhi Aes Sedai)


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.. Sitting Together in the Tarasin Palace Gardens ..



In the Tarasin Palace Gardens they stopped in front of a bush of beautiful red roses and the young Aes Sedai commented briefly on them. From her voice and her smile, it seemed to the Warder that she had some interest in these flowers, they seemed to bring her some joy, they were not flowers she had haphazardly stopped beside and commented on. He guessed that she had spent some time in the Gardens in her days here in Ebou Dar and had enjoyed being among the flowers and the trees and the greenery.


Next they stopped by a small fountain. It was with a dolphin in the center, beautifully sculpted, water streaming upwards through its mouth. Myrrhi pushed her hands in the water and seemed to play with it for a while. At the same time she spoke, telling him some of the Palace’ history. The Tarasin Palace, where the Queen of Altara sat on the fabled Throne of the Winds, was a place steeped in history. He knew parts of the Palace from personal experience, deadly experience in fact, and some of its history from before, but enjoyed listening to her voice which gradually became more confident as she talked. She jumped from one interesting anecdote to another, impressing Elessar with her knowledge, and when she laughed at one point in her rendition, a genuine warm laughter, it made the Warder smile.


Then, with her sparkling blue eyes turning from the fountain to an old olive tree not far away, she pointed to a small bench set just behind the tree where they could sit down. To Elessar it seemed a well chosen spot; somewhat secluded and private, but still with a good - open - view to the rest of the Gardens.


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


He nodded, returning her smile, touching her hand for a moment, and they seated themselves on the bench. For a while neither of them spoke, and they just enjoyed the fresh air and the smell of grass and flowers in the Gardens. It also gave them time to gather their thoughts. The Gaidin found that he still did not have the words he needed to explain what he wanted.. to make Myrrhi understand.. and so he dug into his memories of their previous encounters for help and inspiration..



He remembered..


..Trying to put some deliberate levity into his words, he had asked: "Has it been a busy week for you in the White Tower? Any rest at all? Tell the Mistress of Novices from me", he added jokingly, "that though it is true that work builds character, she must keep in mind that men and women can be pushed too hard."


He grinned slightly, imagining in his mind the Mistress of Novices’ face if she were confronted in such a manner. She would not.. be amused. Far from it.


He looked at Myrrhi’s face, a twinkle in his eye, to gauge her reaction to his statement.


It pleased him to see her laugh.


She did not seem to be able to stop herself as peals of laughter erupted and made her shake with open delight. Some of her inhibitions dissipated, removing much of her shyness at least for a moment, and Elessar was glad to see her more relaxed. She could obviously see the hilarity in his fun proposal to confront Valeri Aes Sedai, the more or less renowned Mistress of Novices in the White Tower. Her clear laughter resonated in that part of the Yard, making a few nearby trainees turn in her direction. They did not say anything derogatory, though they looked somewhat amused. A good thing they kept silent, thought the Warder wryly. Any insults towards this young woman and he would have them thrashed.



As she was almost finished laughing, she said, with merriment in her voice, that she would surely tell the Mistress of Novices that. Or, she added wisely, she would just keep silent and hope the Mistress of Novices would forget about her. She grinned but her tone of voice was a little grave as well and made the Gaidin understand some of the cost of the rigours she had been through. He saw her rub a hand against an obviously sore lower back and his suspicions were confirmed when she added a question, asking if he had ever been strapped before?.. a hurtful experience. She seemed to become a little distant then, as if lost in deep thought, her eyes taking on a faraway look, and he waited patiently and considerately with his reply, giving her a moment to gather herself..


.. A little later, there was a silence between them for some moments as neither said anything. Myrrhi started fidgeting a little and it gave Elessar the impression that their conversation was coming to an end. The Accepted had gotten more answers to her questions and probably had errands to do, classes to attend. His suspicion was confirmed when she met his eyes and said that it was very unfortunate, but she had to wish him a good evening. She stood up and curtsied, adding that it had been a great pleasure to talk to him, she felt better now. Elessar smiled and stood up, giving her a respectful Warder’s bow in return.


"The pleasure has been mine, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen". He said politely and earnestly. "I am glad to have been of further assistance answering some more of your questions." He added. "And I have enjoyed our conversation. I wish you a good evening - and the best of luck in your training."


She had smiled back at him, a little shyly but sincerely, a slight flush in her cheeks, appreciating his kind words. Once again she went on her way, trying not to look back. She walked carefully across the uneven ground in the Yard,as if to make sure she did not fall and embarass herself nor stain her white dress. Soon she had passed through the gates at the end of the Warders Yard and Elessar’s eyes shifted back to the Warder training going on down the Yard..



“It feels like a lifetime ago that you first came to the Warder’s Yard with your many questions”, Elessar began with a thoughtful smile.


It seemed a safe opening, he thought. It would be best to stay off the topic of the Bond for a while. He did not want this conversation too to end in anger and tears.


“If you could have returned to that Myrrhi..”, he added , “what question would you now have asked?”


He waited for her to reply, enjoying her nearness and their sitting together there in the beautiful, peaceful Tarasin Palace Gardens.




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The Gardens were quiet. Myrrhi appreciated it. She didn't want to the place to be too crowded. Here are there, a visitor or a patrolling guard passed by, leaving enough room for little birds to fly in and land on the Gardens fountains to play without being scared away.


She spent some time looking at her surroundings, not knowing what more she could say to the Warder. She was afraid she would say something bad, something that would make him leave the Palace. She felt appeased when she heard the Warder talking.


"It feels like a lifetime ago that you first came to the Warder's Yard with your so many questions," Elessar started. She laughed at the memory. Indeed, she had had so many questions. It seemed to her that she still had a lot of them. A part of her would have enjoyed wearing a Brown shawl, she knew it. She had always been very curious about the world around her. She turned her face towards the Gaidin and saw him smiling.


"It was a lifetime ago," she agreed with such a low voice that her words came out as a whisper. So many things had changed in her life since then. She had been an Accepted, a the time. All her thoughts had been centered on one thing : her raising. She had sacrificed a lot for it... even the friends she had made a Novice. The Gaidin had become the only person she had been able to talk to, besides her teacher and her classmates who had never seen her as someone worth knowing better.


Thayetta, I am so sorry, she thought. The girl had been her roommate for the best part of her Novicehood. Myrrhi had been raised to the ring before her Andoran companion. She had had to move in another part of the Tower, leaving her friend behind. Slowly her duties had made her completely forget about her. When Thayetta had become an Accepted, Myrrhi had been too busy working for her raising that she had not even tried to spend time with her old friend. Other faces passed through her mind. She had been very lonely... until her raising. Joining the Greens had been like finding a new home for her. A home full of Sisters.


"If you could have returned to that Myrrhi," he added, "what question would you now have asked?"


The question caught her unaware. She blushed as many questions passed through her mind, with among them some she would not dare to ask in the open.


"It is a very good question, Elessar Gaidin," she managed to say after a small pause, once her heartbeat came back to a more regular rhythm.


She took a deep breath, thinking about her options. It was only when she saw another guard appearing in the Gardens that she found her answer.


"I would probably have tricked you into teaching me how to defend myself with a weapon." she laughed. "You taught me so much, yet for this... as essential as it is, I had to find someone else to teach me."


Her sparring lessons came back to her mind. It had felt strange to have another man teaching her something. She had been very happy - excited even - about the class but all along it had felt as if something - someone - was missing.

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.. Balancing Past and Present ..



Myrrhi replied with laughter that she would probably have tricked him into teaching her to defend herself with a weapon.. He had taught her so much, she added, yet for that essential part.. she had had to find someone else to teach her.


Her words made him think of one of their encounters in the Warder’s Yard when the conversation had turned to Aes Sedais with weapons.


In his mind, he was back with Myrrhi in the Yard..



"You asked if I have encountered Aes Sedai who could do it all?” he had said.


Nodding to himself, he remembered. "One of my Bondholders was very adamant that I understand that no Aes Sedai is omnipotent. However arrogant, determined and strong in the One Power a Sister may seem, she said, she is only as strong as her weakest point. There is always a danger in overreaching".


"Leandreen was her name".


He paused, studying the Accepted’s face to see if she took offence from his words. It was difficult to read the young woman’s reaction. She kept her feelings to herself.


"Even so", he went on, "she was a strong channeler - and she also was a decent fighter with combat weapons, particularly the sword. She felt having some combat-skills was an added protection and wise for Sisters in Battle. Not many Aes Sedai saw the use or necessity of being able to use a sword, she told me, since they had the One Power to protect them and, often, Warders."


"So fairly few Aes Sedai learned combat-skills from Warders; and according to her some Sisters even scorned those who insisted on learning. But she did not care. ‘Let them!’, I remember she said defiantly to me one night, her Emerald eyes glittering dangerously in her slightly oval face, her fiery hair streaming behind her, before she started to laugh hard with glee.. I joined in her laughter", he added with a touch of mirth, "caught up in the moment.."



The memory with Myrrhi made him smile, and he tried to ignore the pain inside that almost always accompanied his thoughts of Leandreen. Green Aes Sedai would always have more need of combat skills than other Sisters, and he thought he recalled Leandreen having also hinted at combat weaves that Battle Ajah Sisters were skilled at.


So it did not surprise him that Myrrhi had been interested in some weapons-training to complement her skills with the One Power. He remembered her interest in the dagger as well. The one that she had dropped. What did surprise him though was that she had found someone else to teach her that part, without asking him first. It shouldn’t have mattered much to him, main thing was after all that she gained the skill, but Elessar found that it did. He should have been the one to teach her those skills as well. He tried to push unbidden thoughts of jealousy out of  his mind, focused on humour and replied with some mirth.


“Well, I couldn’t teach you everything”, he grinned. “That would have made all the other Sisters too envious.”


She joined in the laughter, but reading his face saw intuitively that there was ambivalence in his features beneath the mirth, as if he had.. missed not being there for her. His next words made her certain that she had read him correctly. “If you still need some teaching with weaponry”, he added, ”I can always give you a helping hand.” The words were said lightly, but both knew the offer had been genuine.. and important to him.


A small black and white bird of southern origin landed on the ground just in front of them, peered curiously up at them for a moment, before wandering off to the neighbouring grass area, probably looking for something to eat. They followed the bird with their eyes and watched it in silence for a while, neither eager to say anything that might disrupt the pleasantness between them.


Finally Elessar broke the silence.



“Do you ever think about the ‘Tar Valon incident?”


He asked, referring to the frightening attack they had experienced together, also with a Red Sister, several years before. It was a shared experience, however painful, and they had not spoken much about it afterwards.


Even as the words left his mouth, the memories flowed in his mind, taking him back to that dramatic episode, as day was turning into evening, in the dark Tar Valon alleys..



...The deadly knife had whistled through the air, making a wooshing sound that slithered through the near-darkness, embedding itself with an emphatic thud in the building within a hairsbreadth of Elessar’s upper arm!


It had been instinct, perhaps, or mayhap a feeling of imminent danger - an added sense which Warders often possessed - that had made him cry out a warning to the Accepted and the Red Sister just in time. In the same motion he had thrown himself at them, pushing them hard to the side, out of danger’s path, shielding them with his own body, as they had rolled onto the ground by the building..


A little earlier, as twilight had begun to encloak Tar Valon, the wonderous city of the Aes Sedai, Elessar had, by chance, come across Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen and an accompanying Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah in a small side street in the city. He had been out in the city for a little walk, having worked hard with the sword forms in the Warders Yard earlier in the day. They had, it turned out, been on a late errand for the Tower and the Warder had been reluctant to approach them, but then the Accepted had spotted him and had, impulsively, waved him over, in spite of the Red Sister’s visible disapproval. Elessar had crossed the street to join them and had given the Aes Sedai, a tall dark-haired woman with a somewhat hard face who wore her red-fringed shawl proudly, a formal bow and greeting - receiving barely a nod in return. He had also given a respectful nod and greeting, coupled with a small smile, to the Accepted. She had been somewhat formal in her greeting to the Warder, probably due to the Aes Sedai by her side, but he thought he had seen a smile in her eyes.


It had been several months since he had seen Myrrhi in the Warders Yard, when they had talked and he had helped her with her enquires for her studies, and she confirmed his suspicion that she had been very busy with her studies, classes and chores over the months. She introduced the Sister to him and it had been obvious that the Red Aes Sedai cared little for his company. Even so, the Sister had not protested when he had joined them in their walk back towards the Tower, after he had informed that it would be prudent since there had been some troubles in the streets lately.


They had been heading down a darkening corridor, a shallow road with dark alleys and small buildings on either side, parallell to one of the main streets, when the attack had come out of nowhere! ..





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“Do you ever think about the ‘Tar Valon incident?” Elessar asked.


For Myrrhi there had been more than one incident in the city, but it didn't take her long to understand what the Gaidin was talking about.


The first thought that came to her mind was that she had been inexperienced and foolish. She would have handled it way better, would it have happened after her raising. She had been scared, felt powerless event...


The Gaidin seemed to have made a jump in the past. His eyes were fixed on a point, as if to help him concentrating on that grim night.


"I think I have thought about it right after it happened," she said. "It happened so long ago."


She brushed the skirts of her dress with a delicate hand. "And, so many things have happened since then." She smiled. "You should see how I can handle myself in a battle more."


Even though her words could make her sound cocky, it was nothing but the truth. She had now a wide range of very destructive weaves at her disposal, and a training she had not had at the time. The fact that she had been through the raising ceremony was proof of that. Of course, Elessar wouldn't know about that... unless one of his previous bondholder would have hinted at things.


Letting the Warder leading the conversation, the young woman commented further on the event, analyzing the moves she and the other Aes Sedai had made.


"But I don't think I could have done better. I was still a child by then."


Without giving Elessar the time to react to her last sentence, she jumped on her feet. She really appreciated talking with the Gaidin, but she was afraid that the conversation would turn towards an unwanted topic. Tar Valon, Aes Sedai, protecting each other could lead them again to the bonding proposal. And that was something Myrrhi wanted to avoid. She had finally found some peace in her heart, she didn't want to spoil the efforts she had made so far.


"So," she started. "You were interested in giving me a hand for my training?" she asked.


Elessar nodded.


Before making her next move, Myrrhi looked around. It seemed that the Gardens were empty now. No soldiers patrolling, no visitors. Very well, she thought, a grin on her face.


She opened herself to Saidar. She quickly wove thick threads of Air, happy that the Warder would not feel her channeling.


"Why not starting now?" she asked.


As she said those words, she pulled Elessar's sword of his scabbard. The man had excellent reflexes. Even if he had been surprised, he had only missed grabbing it back by an inch.


Then, laughing, she started to run as fast as she could to the place where she had had her combat lessons.







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.. Caught Unawares by a Mischievous Green Sedai..



Elessar was still partly lost in memories of that Tar Valon evening when Myrrhi replied.


He heard her voice, the words she spoke, as if from a far distance.. even as pictures of the past flashed in his mind..



.. From where he lay, half-crouched, Elessar checked on Myrrhi - she lay a little off to his left, partially stunned but seemingly uninjured - before raising his head to look across at the Sister nearby. The Aes Sedai appeared fine, seemed to give him an angry look in return, not much in the way of gratitude in any case, but he ignored it. Men had never been very popular among most Reds, even in the best of times. He then gazed carefully down the alley from where the knife had been thrown. It was hard to see anything in the dark surroundings, and he did not have the slightly enhanced vision, the strengthened senses, derived from a Warder-Bond. Even so, he had long experience as a Gaidin in combat-situations and was able to aptly gauge the threat and danger.


Just then, as he was considering their options, a second knife flew through the air and barely missed the Warder. He twisted aside at the last moment, his Warder instincts serving him again. Retrieving it carefully from the wall beside him, touching only the handle, close up Elessar could see the black poison on the blade. “It’s poisoned!” He hissed, to let the others know. Cursing inside, Elessar threw it away in disgust. Staring hard into the darkness, as the moments lengthened, Elessar suddenly thought he saw some movement on the other side of the alley. It was as if there was a.. Shadow among the Shadows..



..And then Elessar jumped them! With a massive leap he threw himself at the two men and his great momentum and speed carried them both crashing to the ground, with the Warder partly atop, grunting and cursing as they tried to gain their feet. The Warder was faster though. Half-crouched he smashed a fist into the head of the larger man who slammed into the stones beneath him, and landed a blow in the stomack of the second, smaller man before he could get his balance. The man stumbled backwards but kept his feet. There was an undefined sound a little further back in the alley, where the women were hiding, and as Elessar turned in that direction for a split second, the first man gained his feet and slashed at the Gaidin with his short sword which he had managed to pick up from the ground.


It was only a Warder’s instinct and reflexes which prevented the blade from drawing blood, he managed to twist aside at the very last moment, but he was carried off balance and had to shift his weight to regain it. As he faced the large brute, his own blade striking out, he saw from the corner of his eye the other man disregard him and move down the alley toward the Accepted and the Aes Sedai. Elessar cursed inwardly. He had expected that the two men would come at him together and try to eliminate the threat he posed before going after the women.


There was nothing he could do about it now, however. He had to take care of this bigger threat. This man, a big bearded man with a long scar along his cheekbones and a weathered face, obviously had some sword skills and took advantage of his shorter, lighter sword in several attack moves aimed at the Warder. He was more proficient than Elessar had presumed - and the Gaidin had to use his experience, deftness and skill to defeat him..



"I think I thought about it right after it happened," she said. "It happened so long ago."


Her words echoed in his mind.. and brought him fully back to the present.


Yes, it was long ago.. he thought silently.. but I remember it as if it were yesterday.


Nodding to her, he waited for her to elaborate as she thought back on the incident.



She brushed the skirts of her dress with a delicate hand. Then she added, with a smile, that so many things had happened since then, and that he should see how she could handle herself better now in a battle.


Her voice sounded unusually confident, he thought, almost a bit cocky, which he was not used to from her. On the other hand, he was pretty sure that she had gained skills in more than one way as she had trained for - and gained - the Shawl. He led the conversation as she commented further on the event, analyzing the moves she and the other Aes Sedai had made. She finished by saying that she did not think she could have done better, that she was still a ‘child’ back then. The Gaidin refrained from commenting on the last part, but wondered at her choice of words.


Then, suddenly, Myrrhi jumped to her feet! The motion startled him.


"So," she started. "You were interested in giving me a hand for my training?" she asked.


Elessar nodded, surprised at the turn of events but trying to hide it. He saw the young Aes Sedai take a quick glance around and a small grin came upon her lips.


"Why not starting now?" she asked. Her words were said almost playfully..


He did not have time to react to them, though a puzzled look came upon his face.. and the thoughts


Now!? What do you..


..flashed in his mind.


At the same time, though, he sensed his sword being pulled from its sheath..


What the..!?  


..a quick, bewildered thought.. and a split second later he saw the blade in her hand..!



As an experienced Warder of many years he had excellent reflexes - and though caught unawares he missed grabbing the sword back by an inch.. but she had been too quick for him.. aided by the One Power. She had channeled.. she would not be quick enough to snatch his sword away in any other way.. He gave her a wry look and a lopsided grin; her reward for her somewhat devious act.


But then, without saying another word, laughing, with Elessar’s blade in her hand, in a very un-Sedai like fashion she ran off and away through the Palace Gardens almost as if she had the Dark One on her heels! The Warder had only a moment to gape at her, completely taken aback.. and then he stormed after her, thinking as he ran..


 Foolish woman! Get back here..!


She had a good lead on him though, and he cursed inside but at the same time could not escape seeing the hilarity in the situation. She ran through a side-gate, now with the Gaidin only a few feet behind her, headed along a wall toward a secluded part of the grounds, a fairly empty area from what Elessar could see, and came to a sudden stop, breathing hard. She grinned widely with an almost wicked look in her eyes as a somewhat winded, partly exasperated Warder came to a stop beside her.


“You want weapons training, eh..? You mischievous Green Sister..!” he said with a Dark grin, rolling his eyes, ignoring her station for a moment.


A moment later he could not prevent the chuckles that escaped his lips, however, and she joined him in laughter, seemingly very pleased with herself.


He walked a few yards away, chuckling, shaking his head at it all. Finally he turned back toward Myrrhi.


“Come here then”, he added determinedly as their laughter gradually dissipated. “I will show you how to hold a sword properly.”




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“Come here then! I will show you how to hold a sword properly.”


Myrrhi grinned at the Gaidin's words. She had hoped for them. The sword training would work as the perfect distraction, an activity that would allow her to be free from the awkwardness she felt since his refusal but to still enjoy his company.


She handed back Elessar's weapon. "There you are," she said. The sword was a bit too heavy for her. Of course, she could have kept on cheating and used threads of Air to lighten its weight. But she decided against it. She had to improve her skills, and that would only happened if she concentrated on her arm and foot work. Saidar would only distract her.


She didn't immediately cut herself from the One Power, though. She channeled a last time to pull one of the swords from the weapons rack that was standing close to the door. It was a shorter sword, one that could easily be juggled from one hand to the other. She tested it as soon as it reached her hand. For a while she hesitated about getting a second blade, so she would have one in each hand just like that character she had read about in one of her books about famous female warriors. But, she abandoned the idea. Since she had never tried that setting before, she decided that it was better to leave it for later. She didn't want to make a fool of herself.


"I think I know how to hold a sword properly," she said raising an eyebrow. As she said so, she let herself drop in the guarding position she preferred. Blade up front, her left foot in front of the right one. From there she would be able to quickly counter attack.


As she waited for the Warder to set himself in a fighting position, she imagined herself back in the Warders Yard.


I am not sure I would have tried to fight there, she thought. Training in the Yard would have meant hours of practice right in the middle of the other Gaidins and under the scrutiny of the Aes Sedai who liked to come watch their Warders fighting against each other. I don't think I would have done well as an Accepted under such a pressure. Myrrhi had to admit to herself, once again, that she didn't like to fail in front of others.


Maybe things would have been different if we had become closer? Maybe he would have accepted by proposal?


Elessar would have been a perfect Warder, she told herself with regrets. I just hope I will find someone who's at least a tenth of what he is.


To prevent grimmer thoughts to cloud her mind, the young woman pushed the bonding proposal out of her head. She needed to empty her thoughts of anything that could distract her. Yes, having the Gaidin here to teach her how to fight better was something she had wished for, deep down, since their first meeting. But thinking about the past would lead her to places where she would not find it in her to fare as well as she did during her training with the Guardsman. She wanted Elessar to be proud of her. And that would be a tough job. She had seen how strong and skilled the first time they had met, the battles they had shared, if they can be called so, had only confirmed what she had known from the start.


As her eyes met his, she wondered what he was thinking about.

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.. Some Sword-Training & A Gleeman’s lass ..



He grinned crookedly inside at her confident remark that she did know how to hold a sword properly - he knew from experience how many beginners taught by less proficient sword-wielders held and balanced the sword wrongly -, but nothing showed on his face as he watched her take up a guard stance with the shorter sword in her hand.


It was wise of her to choose a smaller, lighter sword that she would be able to handle better and juggle from hand to hand rather than the heavier blade he had. The look she had had when she had handed back his sword had been mysterious to say the least.. but at least it seemed her cheating with the One Power was in the past.


As he watched her guard stance, his thoughts went back to his younger days, when he was a Warder trainee in the Warder’s Yard with his Gaidin-teacher.. He remembered..


His old teacher had begun by teaching him ‘The Flame and the Void’.



“Close your eyes”, the teacher had said and Elessar had complied. “Imagine a single point in front of you and focus all your attention on that point. Concentrate on that point and feed all your thoughts into that point.” This Elessar was not able to do, though he tried to do as his teacher said. “Close your mind to the world around you”, the Gaidin continued. “Feed all your emotions into this single point.”


“It is not working, Master” Elessar said in frustration.


“Don’t worry”, the teacher answered, “this is your first lesson. You need several more before you accomplish this. The single point will for many seem like a flame which they feed all their emotions into. Others see this as a void where they empty all thought into. Enveloped in this coldness of focus, they become one with themselves and one with everything around them, making all distraction go away and giving them full focus on any task at hand, as the sword and man flow in the dance of the sword.”


The poetry of those final words reached the young Elessar and what he at first had shrugged off as strange and a little too philosophical for his taste - he wanted solid reality - now seemed more relevant and important. In fact, when he thought about it - in the long pause after the teacher’s last words - it sounded vital somehow.


Once again as if reading his mind, the Gaidin said “Yes, many will say that this is the essence of the Warder”. Staring at his pupil, he added “Not all agree, of course, but you remind me of myself when I was a trainee many many years ago.. for you this will be the path to follow, as it was for me.” Elessar saw the strange mix of pride and humility in the older Gaidin and gave a small bow of respect. “That is all for today”, the teacher had said as he dismissed the young man. “Think about what we spoke of here today, try it yourself when you are alone, and we will continue the lesson tomorrow.”



It had taken him many days and many lessons to accomplish this - and now, as he met Myrrhi’s eyes, he knew that they did not have the time to teach Myrrhi the same, but he hoped she could understand some of the principle involved, since she would no doubt have had to learn focus and concentration on her path to becoming an Aes Sedai.


He nodded to himself and then walked over to her, putting his own blade aside for the moment. He explained in short a little about focus with a blade, then came behind her and put his hands carefully on top of hers as he showed her how to hold and balance the blade properly. She seemed to him a bit impatient ‘to get on with it’, but he took it step by step as he had always done when teaching her. He then asked her to show him some moves that she had learnt, and afterwards commented on what he thought was good and what needed some more ‘polish’ as he kindly put it. Then he showed her with his own heavier blade how to unsheath his sword in one flowing motion, how to strike, how to slash, how to defend and deflect and how to combine a few simple sword forms. He made her try with her own shorter sword, making certain she managed one aspect fairly well before moving on to the next. He got the impression that she appreciated his teaching though at the same time wanting to move quicker.. but he kept at it at a slow pace, watching her every move, thinking ‘be patient’.


They took a break a little later, relaxing off by the side, in mutual silence, as they both contemplated the lesson and how it had gone. Elessar was pleased, he had enjoyed teaching her again and was content to be in her company, and she also seemed content or at least that was his impression. It could, of course, also be because this sword-practice kept them safely away from the somewhat dangerous topic of the Bond.


Then they trained some more. This time the Warder faced her with blade in hand and they did some easy duelling, taking special care not to injure one another since these were not mock-blades. He could see that she had learned some rudimentary swordwork before, added to what he now had shown her, and for a beginner she did fairly well. She would, of course, need much more practice over a long period of time to become better with the sword - Warders spent years perfecting the art and even Aes Sedai could spend months, and perhaps even years, becoming fairly proficient, at least to a certain intermediate level, with swordwork - but it was a good start. Moving from stance to stance, she confronted him and blade touched blade as they tested each other in the motions od the ‘dance’. He showed her how to adapt to facing an opponent with a longer, heavier blade, how to move her feet quickly enough, how to move inside someone’s guard, and how to combine patience in combat with necessary audacity.


When they were finally done, he thought she had done quite well for a beginner and told her so, a pleased smile on his face. She smiled back, thanking him, pleased at his praise though he still thought there was a glimmer of wicked mishcief in her eyes. Looking into those sparking blue eyes he wondered at her thoughts. She is determined, he thought as he put his blade away, and will definetly want to keep practicing to get better.



It was early evening, twilight descending over Ebou Dar, and Elessar sat in the Common Room in the ‘Golden Seagull’ inn, his thoughts on the events of that day. After the sword-practice session in the Palace Gardens they had parted, she going inside the Palace and he heading back to the inn, with the shared understanding that they would meet the next day in early afternoon in the Mol Hara Square. He had the impression that they were both relieved to have avoided the difficult topic of the Bond and his refusal.. though both knew it was something they would need to speak of again at some point. Taking a sip from his ale the Warder glanced about at the gathered crowd. There were many locals present, some foreigners and a busy innkeeper who kept running between the bar and the tables, talking to cutomers as he ran. Soon a gleeman was to entertain them all and the Gaidin, always enjoying a good performance, looked forward to seeing and hearing the stories this man would share.


The Warder from Kandor was half-way through his glass of ale when the gleeman finally appeared. He was a dark-haired man of about middle age with a round face and a short beard, wearing a cloak of many colourful patches. He carried a flute as he came upon the stage in the Common Room and all attention switched to him. Making a quick bow to his audience he swiftly started by playing the flute, playing a jaunty tune that the locals seemed to recognize and enjoy. A few melodies later he began his storytelling. A couple of heroic stories from times gone by made some, but not much, impression on this crowd, and so he finished those stories sooner than anticipated by making an elaborate bow amid some very cautious cheers.


A loud cry then went up at the bar.


“Giv’ us a bawdy song!”

“A fun melody!”

“Yeah, you know which one!”

“The lass..! We want the lass!”


Lewd, indicent comments followed, making no doubt as to what kind of song they wanted to hear. The gleeman nodded with a wicked grin; the crowds he performed for at the various inns he visited were often different, appeciating the varying aspects of his repertoire, and some times the crowd tended to favour the bawdier, raunchier songs. That seemed to be the case here. Subsequently he began to sing the first verse of a Southern bawdy song which Elessar recognized immediately. He had heard it several times before, and he especially recalled an enjoyable rendition by a gleeman in Murandy at an inn he and Carys, his then Bondholder, had visited.  ‘The lass on my lap’ was the name of the melody and Elessar grinned contentedly as he enjoyed the performance. The woman’s part the gleeman sang in a properly wicked woman’s voice, making the crowd in the ‘Golden Seagull’ inn cheer enthusiastically..





The lass on my lap


There once was this man from Tear

Who nibbled so much on my Ear

That I slapped him, and Said

“No way, Mister! - I’m Wed”

“You’ll find no benevolence Here.”


But the man did not care for the Slap

He grabbed me right onto his Lap

“Now hear, little Wench!”

Said the man with a Wrench

“You’re my lass, so stop with that Crap!”


I gave him a kiss out of Spite

“Let me go!”, I said, ready to Bite

“Oh my lass, teach me Sin!”

Said the man with a Grin

“Of you I will many songs Write!”






Edited by Elessar
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The young woman found herself disappointed when the Gaidin set aside his blade and walked over to her. She had imagined that he would have wanted to start a duel immediately, just like she did.


Still, what he did was not completely useless. Elessar took the time to explain her the principles about focusing with a blade and to give her tips about the way she should hold a weapon. There were some things she hadn't known before, and she immediately committed them to her memory.


She started to appreciated his introduction even more when he came behind her, his hands on hers, to help her out. The proximity made her feel happier than she had been in days.


Then, the Warder asked her to show the moves she had learned so far. There were a couple she knew already, so she concentrated on the ones she found the nicest. As she performed in front of the Gaidin, she felt her movements being not as fluid as she wanted them to be. Elessar seemed to agree with her. To emphasize what he meant by the comments he had made about her needing to polish her moves, he took his own blade and showed the first basic moves he had learned as a Warder trainee when it came unsheathe, strike, slash, defend and deflect. He tried some combinations afterwards, encouraging her to repeat them during her spare time as he did so.


Myrrhi followed the Gaidin's guidance and repeated what she had seen him do with her short sword. Even if she found herself satisfied with what she had done, Elessar asked her to re-do some of the moves until they were good enough for him. Time passed and the young woman understood that the one against one fight she had in mind would not be for that day. Instead, before the end of the lesson, the Warder proposed some kind of soft exchanges. He asked her to move slowly and not to hit too hard, insisting on the fact that the blades were real one and not practice swords. He also asked her to use only the moves they had worked on that day, so that she practice with them some more.


The exercise went better than the young Green had imagined. She actually enjoyed it more than she had thought she would. She even found herself beaming when Elessar told her that she had done well for a beginner. Of course, she had had to master her impatience all along, to take time to measure her movements and to remember each response to the Gaidin's attacks, without trying something new.


When they parted, Myrrhi couldn't help but grin. She felt that the Warder would want to see her again to help her with her sword wielding skills. He didn't like to leave things half done.




It took some time for the young woman to be able to focus again. When the Warder left, she came back to her rooms where she settled herself on a small balcony to enjoy one of the numerous books she had borrowed from the Tarasin Palace's library. It was only in the early evening that she found herself fit enough to go downstairs and to meet Deana. Her cheeks had lost their earlier flush and her muscles felt less sore than they had a couple of hours before.


The Brown Sister seemed to be very happy to see her. "Where have you been Myrrhi? I was looking for you!" she started. It was usual for the Brown not to pay too much attention to formalities and Myrrhi decided that it was better not to react to the way the other Aes Sedai had talked to her. Some other Sisters would not have appreciated though, being talked to as if they were still Initiates.


"I happened to meet one of the Tower's Warders today," Myrrhi explained. "We had some practice, you know us Green we like to fight." The young woman didn't know whether or not it was a good thing to tell so much about her whereabouts. On another hand, she couldn't have lied. Let's see first what she want with me, she thought before giving any more piece of information.


"Why were you looking for me?"


The Brown Sister first answered by scratching her head, one of the signs that meant that what she wanted to say would not be well received by the person she was talking to. "There are those news, I just received...." Deana explained that she had met a noble from Illian in the library that day. He had been interested in the books she had been working on and had volunteered some extra information.


According to him, very interesting books on the same topic could be found at his cousin's place - he seemed to be a collector of some sorts - and the man had offered to have some copies made as soon as he would return home.


"Except that it can't wait! That man will stay at least a full month in Ebou Dar and I need the information as soon as possible!"


"What about your work here, Deana?" Myrrhi asked a bit confused.


"Well, that's why I have been thinking about you..."


The Brown Sister explained that she trusted Myrrhi enough to go to Illian to make those copies. Would she leave as asked, Deana would have enough time to finish her work in Ebou Dar and to leave for Tar Valon where she would start the analysis of all the data she had collected so far.


The young woman's reaction was first to deny the Brown's request. She was not an Accepted anymore. She only answered to the Captain General of the Greens, the Keeper and the Amyrlin... and the Hall of course. Leaving to Illian for Deana was not something she wanted to do nor that she wanted other people to know about.


Seeing her grimacing, Deana tried to plead for her cause. She would be ever grateful, she said. She'd do whatever it took to make up for it.


At the end of the Brown Sister's monologue about how this was important to her Myrrhi felt a pang of guilt big enough to make her agreeing on going.


"All right, I'll go but I won't stay much longer than I need. I also need to be back to the Tower."


It was the other Sister's turn to grimace.


"What is it? Myrrhi asked.


Deana explained that her Warder had seen Elessar on the Palace's grounds that day and that he had inquired about his presence in Ebou Dar. It seems that the group he had accompanied was gone, back on their way to the White Tower. The unbonded Gaidin was free to accompany Myrrhi in her travels.


"You should ask him," Deana said. "He has nothing else to do here, and you know what the Amyrlin thinks of idle Warders... "




Later than evening, Myrrhi found herself in front of the Golden Seagull's door. What have I put myself into? She wondered feeling that she had been manipulated by the Brown Sister.


She took a deep breath before entering the inn, hoping that the Warder would agree on going with her. The other Aes Sedai had seemed to be quite insistent on the fact that she didn't like to see Gaidins wandering alone.


As the young woman passed the door she heard a bawdy song resonating in the room, she laughed imagining Elessar singing along.


Now, speaking of him, where is he?






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.. Waiting for a Conversation to Begin ..



The applause after the bawdy song was substantial, cheers resonating in the room and several guests banged on the tables in appreciation.The gleeman bowed theatrically to the crowd, far from displeased by the positive reaction, and walked off the stage for a short break. Elessar had been among those applauding and now as things quieted somewhat down and people focused on their drinks and conversations again he glanced casually around the Common Room as he sipped from his ale. It was a fairly typical crowd found in most inns; locals and foreigners; good-natured folk and semi-drunkards; some potential troublemakers but also well-behaved guests enjoying an ale or two after a hard day’s work.


By the entrance-door two bouncers stood keeping an eye on things; big, heavy-shouldered, grim-faced men that it would be unadvisable to get into an argument - never mind a fight - with. The innkeeper ran between tables, taking orders and shouting to a pair of serving-girls who helped him out on busy evenings. One of these women was a brown-haired beauty in her early twenties with a gorgeous face and long eye-lashes who received more than one lewd comment - and an occasional slap on the rear - on her runs between tables. She knew how to respond in kind, though, and Elessar thought she seemed more than able to take care of herself.


Suddenly his eyes were drawn to the entrance door as it opened.. and he thought he must be mistaken, because silhouetted in the door was.. Myrrhi. He looked more closely and saw that it was indeed her.


What is she doing here? He wondered.


He would not have expected her to come to the inn, especially since they had agreed on meeting the next day in the Mol Hara Square.


Had something happened?


He half-raised himself from his chair and waved in her direction and after a few moments, as she looked around the Common Room, she saw him and slowly walked across to his table. They quickly exchanged greetings and she took a seat opposite him. He waited for her to speak, to explain, but she remained silent for a moment as if she were considering her words.



As he waited in silence, looking into her ever-sparkling blue eyes, his thoughts went once again back to one of their earlier meetings and lessons.. at the beginning, when he had taught her horse-riding..


It seemed ages ago..


..The Gaidin had not said anything at first but had let the silence calm her a little. He gazed up into the sky and saw that more clouds were coming in from the west. Parts of the sky were still ocean-blue though and it remained to be seen if there was to be rain later. Rain would hamper their lesson somewhat if they got as far as the woodlands, of course, but Elessar thought they would likely not get that far on this first day in any case. The priority now was to find out if Myrrhi was afraid of horses - measures would have to be taken then - and if she had ridden a horse before.


The Warder debated with himself if he should approach the subject tactfully, with the greatest care, in a roundabout way, or if he should just ask her straight out. Asking her directly could, of course, cause her some embarassment.. but he needed her trust if he was to succeed with the assignment and he needed to know in order to structure his lessons. The silence between them stretched and he made his decision. He hoped she would understand and take it well.


"Myrrhi Morrigen, no disrespect intended". He began carefully. "But I have the impression that you are.. uncomfortable ..with the situation. As your teacher for this ‘class’ I need you to please be honest with me".


"Are you wary of - afraid of - horses?"



She had paused. Then she had replied:


"Those lessons are going to be tougher than you expect... " Said the Accepted.  "As I am not sure I am willing to approach one of those beasts..." She didn't finish her sentence and decided to look defiantly in his eyes.


His suspicions had been correct. The fear in her eyes had betrayed her. She was afraid of horses.. or beasts.. as she called them derogatorily. And now the ‘mountain to be climbed’ had become even steeper. Had the Mistress of Novices known? Was that why she had used the words ‘to perform wonders’ with regards to the lessons? It could have been coincidence, of course. Or perhaps not. He met Myrrhi’s defiant look with a kind but neutral one. There was no point in antagonizing her unnecessarily. At the same time, he considered in his mind how to approach this challenge. I need to put here at ease, he thought. Then I need some time to think.


A smile came upon his lips after a few moment’s silence. "Ah, these.. beasts are meek as a lamb once you get to know them", he said, exaggerating a little, wanting to reassure her. "Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. We’ll take it one step at a time." He hid the concern he felt, knowing that teaching someone to ride always was much harder when the person in question had fear of the animals or hated them. Still, it could be done. You just had to find the right way about it..



And you succeeded in the end, Myrrhi, thought the Gaidin contentedly and with some pride.


She had succeeded, gaining some riding-skill and also learning to befriend horses.


Now then, he considered as he met her eyes, is there a new obstacle for you to overcome?


He smiled encouragingly, waiting for her to begin.




Edited by Elessar
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Myrrhi brushed the skirts of her dress with her right hand, summoning as much confidence as she could. She didn’t want the Warder to imagine she had come to insist on the bond. It meant that she would have to show some kind of emotion on her face, something clear enough that he would understand that she was not trying to play him. Unfortunately, she didn’t know which one yet.


Should I show myself disappointed about having to go to Illian ? Should I act as if I am happy about it ? Should I tell him that I am been sent on a mission by Deana ? Or should I tell him that I have agreed on helping her ? Will he take me for a child if he learns that this mission is not my own ?


She didn’t have much time to decide, especially since she had already entered the inn.


She innerly cursed when she saw that Elessar had seen her before she had seen him. The Warder had half-raised from his chair and waved at her inviting her to join him.


Well let’s try the « decided » look.


The Gaidin seemed surprised. Indeed, they had seen each other only a couple of hours before and, when they had parted, they had only agreed on seeing each other the day after.


The young woman left the entrance of the inn and advanced between the chairs and the tables.


As she came closer to him she saw that surprise was slowly replaced by worry. In a way, she found herself reassured. He must be thinking that something bad has happened, she thought.


« Elessar Gaidin, » she said.

The Warder greeted her in return.


His eyes were fixed on her, as he was waiting for her to explain what she was doing in the Golden Seagull at this late hour.


First, she picked a chair and sat down. She took the time to look around the common room. The atmosphere looked particularly cheery that night, it was very different from what she had witnessed so far. During the day, the inn had always been much more quiet.


« I have to go to Illian, » she said at last.  « I am not sure I can give you much specifics about the context of the mission. »


The Warder smiled encouragingly at her. She found herself smiling in return. Part of her apprehension at having to talk to him disappeared.


« I don’t think the Tower would agree on seeing me taking the road all by myself, whatever my skills may be. Would you accompany me ? » she asked.


She hesitated about telling the Warder about the half threat that Deana had made about idle Warders, not knowing if it would upset Elessar or motivate him into accompanying her. She didn’t know much about his behaviour as a Warder of the White Tower. She knew him much more as a friend and as a teacher.

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.. Destination Illian: The Beginning of a New Journey ..



Finally she spoke.


Meeting his eyes and his encouraging smile, she smiled back.


She told him that she had to go to Illian. She was not sure she could give him specifics about the context of the mission.


He nodded softly without commenting. He had a feeling where this was heading.


Looking at him, she added that she did not think the Tower would agree on seeing her taking to the road all by herself, whatever her skills may be.


“Would you accompany me?” Myrrhi asked.



It was what he had suspected when she had started explaining.


He found that he was of two minds with regards to her request. A part of him wanted to accompany her, to protect her, keep her safe, seeing as it was also his duty as a Warder of the White Tower. Another part, smaller but insistent, screamed caution though. Was this a clever attempt by her to make him see the sense of a Bond? Did she propose this journey travelling together to get him used to the idea?


He hushed down the sceptical voice inside. Whatever Myrrhi had in mind, she was not trying to manipulate him in any way. That well he knew her. It was probably difficult enough as it was for her to be here and ask for his help, considering the delicate situation between them after his refusal of the Bond and what he might think of her request.


Is it not my duty in any case to assist her? He thought. I am a Gaidin. And I serve no other purpose here in Ebou Dar. I stayed behind because of her.. and to get to grips with myself. Can I let her down?


He knew deep down inside that he could not, no matter his partial unease with regards to the question of the Bond.


Meeting her eyes, he kept the echoes of disquiet off his face as he smiled.


“I will accompany you, Myrrhi Aes Sedai,” he said in a kind, determined voice.  “It will be an honour.”


He gave her a nod of respect.


And the smile she gave him was reflected in her sparkling blue eyes.



It was mid-morning, the next day, under a sapphire-blue sky, with a few sparse clouds here and there, that Elessar Gaidin and Myrrhi Aes Sedai left the the city of Ebou Dar behind, bound for Illian. A soft breeze came in from the sea and a southern wind blew in their faces as they rode slowly through the streets of the city. Elessar rode slightly ahead of Myrrhi, in his traditional fashion, his eyes everywhere in the way of Warders. Not that he expected any danger; it was more out of habit.


He wore his colour-shifting Warder’s cloak and his longsword fastened to a strap on Stormbreaker’s, his faithful black stallion’s, right side. The Green Sister rode her placid mare with seeming ease, her eyes studying the streets they passed through, her green riding dress flapping slightly in the wind. The buzz of the city surrounded them and with the busy streets it took them a while to get to the Eastern Gate. Finally they rode through the gate and picked up speed as they cantered along the Illian Road eastwards towards the Rhannon Hills.


They spoke little as they journeyed, both appeared to be lost in their own thoughts. As they headed away from the city, and the hours passed, the road gradually became empty of travellers with only the odd horse-driven carriage passing by or a lonesome traveller walking steadfastedly along. The next town was many miles ahead according to a map Elessar had checked some distance back and the Warder figured they would camp outside for the night.


In his mind, as he rode, he went over what he knew of the nation of Illian.


He had been there before, but it was probably one of the countries he had only visited on a couple of occasions through the years. He recalled some of how Illian was described in history-books..


..A Nation east of Altara and west of Tear, situated where the Manetherendrelle flows into the Sea of Storms. The city and capital of Illian, which bears the same name, boasts the largest port in the known world - a giant circular harbour. To the west sprawls forests and olive groves. The far north is quite mountainous, bulwarked by castles and hillforts. To the east is a vast marshland finally opening up to the Plains of Maredo. The city's immediate surroundings are made up of these swamps and therefore do not need any protecting wall..


..The capital of Illian is one of the largest in the lands and is penetrated by lots of little channels. It also boasts of the great Square of Tammaz where the Hunters of the Horn gather to swear their oaths. Two opposing but similar Palaces, one for the King (who wears the famous Laurel Crown) and one for the Council of Nine - both of whom are said to rule the nation - may be found adjoining the square. The council's Palace is just a bit smaller, but the two Palaces are said to have born witness to the ongoing power-struggles in Illian over the ages..


He remembered the great Square of Tammaz and the two Palaces.


An impressive sight for sure.



They rode until late afternoon, covering many miles, past the Rhannon Hills and the region beyond before stopping to make camp in a woodland area off the main road. The weather had turned for the worse and huge patches of clouds now filled the sky, though no rain had come yet. The wind had also gained in force and sent swirls of dust around them and made their cloaks flap heavily as they headed for the somewhat secluded area among the tall trees.


Once there, they dismounted and Elessar tethered the horses, gave them an apple each, which he had brought from the ‘Golden Seagull’ inn, and then made a quick scouting of the area. He did it almost without thinking, a habit from his years of travelling with his Bondholders, before returning to where Myrrhi sat in the middle of the small makeshift camp beside a small fire. He seated himself opposite her, handed her a strip of cold mutton and some water, before taking some himself.


They sat in silence for a while, eating and drinking a little, but mainly resting, as dusk settled around them, before Elessar spoke. Putting his water-flask to the side, he said: “We have come a fair distance today.” He added. “The weather seems to be changing though.” He stared upward through the canopy of trees surrounding them.


“I think it’s a good idea that we decided to rest here until tomorrow.”


He chewed on the piece of mutton in his hand, thinking back on the many times he had camped with his Sedais in similar woodland areas throughout the lands. He realized that the partial unease he had felt at accompanying Myrrhi on this journey, almost like her Warder, had diminished.. and he enjoyed being on the road again.


It is good to be travelling again. He glanced at Myrrhi and smiled inside. I will not fail her, whatever happens.




Edited by Elessar
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Myrrhi had been surprised to hear Elessar agree on her request. She had imagined that she would have to fight and convince him about going.


Now, here she was, ready to start her journey. She had had a last breakfast with Deana Sedai. It had seemed to her that the Brown Sister had understood how complicated the situation was for Myrrhi. The fact that she had said "yes" could be interpreted a thousand ways by the other Sisters and so she had tried to find compensations.


"You will see when you are back in Tar Valon," Deana had promised. "I will find you a copy of that novel I told you about, you remember the one about that Aes Sedai who could fight with her bare hands. And I'll hunt down the Palace cook to get you the recipe of that tea you liked so much..."


In the end the young woman feared that she had gained so much by going to Illian that her Brown companion had become the one who could be in trouble.


Should I tell her about it? She had wondered for a while. No, I can't cancel now. Myrrhi didn't want Elessar to think her a fool. She had asked him to go, so she had to take the journey.


They had met on the Mol Hara Square, both with their horses and packages ready. The Gaidin had taken care of the food and the drinks, there had been no reason to stay any longer in the city.



They rode in silence, slowly at first as they had to cross busy streets then a bit faster after they had reached the walls. The young woman found herself lost in her thoughts. She remembered the guardsman and felt guilty for not having said him goodbye. She also thought about Deana, and the White Tower. The mission itself took part of her focus.


It is only in the late afternoon that they allowed themselves a small break. As she climbed down her horse, Myrrhi checked out the sky and made a grimace. The many clouds she saw were the sure sign of a future rain. She sighed hoping the trees around her would offer a good enough cover. As he had done so many times during their riding lessons, Elessar thanked the horses by giving them an apple each. The young woman smiled fondly at the memory.


Soon after they share some food and water. It was far from what she liked best. The plain water left a bitter taste in her mouth and the mutton was very chewy but she didn't let her face show what she thought of the food. After days of eating in the Palace, she had grow accustomed to a complete different style of evening meals. I would love to have some wine... She smiled thinking that the Warder would probably not agree with her having that kind of drinks while traveling. 


The silence was broken by Elessar a moment later. "We have come a fair distance today," he said. "The weather seems to be changing though. I think it's a good idea that we rest here until tomorrow."


Myrrhi nodded. "I leave you the choice of our camp sites," she said. "As long as I don't find myself with only a choice of wet clothes to meet our contact in Illian."


The Gaidin laughed.


"And the fact that I know how to handle threads of Air to dry myself shouldn't be taken into account," she added.


They jested for a bit, they both were in need of some distraction to relax.


Taking a last look at the sky, and seeing it wouldn't rain immediately, Myrrhi asked the Warder to go forward with her weapon training.



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.. Arriving at the ‘Southern Badger’ inn  ..



Myrrhi nodded and replied that she would leave the choice of their campsites to him. As long as she did not find herself with only a choice of wet clothes to meet their contact in Illian, she added wryly.


Elessar returned her lopsided grin and laughed at her comment.


"And the fact that I know how to handle threads of Air to dry myself shouldn't be taken into account," she added.


The comment seemed almost mock-serious.. and made them both laugh even harder. They were, in fact, both in need of some distraction to relax and so they jested for a while, sharing jokes and funny tales.


“Here’s a good one”, the Gaidin said grinning, after a while. “I heard it in Murandy many years ago. I remember it because one of the serving women in the inn, a voluptuous local wench, that time laughed so hard at the joke, told by a local performer, that she dropped a tray of ale right atop a couple of guests, causing quite a commotion I might say..”



He chuckled, remembering the incident. “Well here goes..” he began.


One day a man passes by a farm and sees a beautiful horse. Hoping to buy the animal, he says to the farmer: "I think your horse looks pretty good, so I'll give you ten silver crowns for him."
"He doesn't look so good, and he's not for sale," the farmer says.
The man insists, "I think he looks just fine and I'll up the price to twelve silver crowns."

"He doesn't look so good, and he's not for sale," the farmer repeats.
The man insists even harder, "I think he looks just fine and I'll up the price to fifteen silver crowns. That should do it!"
"He doesn't look so good," the farmer says, then adds "but if you want him that much, he's yours."
The next day the man comes back raging mad. He goes up to the farmer and screams, "You sold me a blind horse. You cheated me!"
The farmer calmly replies, "I told you he doesn’t look so good, didn't I?"



Myrrhi shared in his laughter and added another joke of her own.


Some time later, after they had rested some more by the fire and before darkness covered the woodland area, Myrrhi glanced up at the sky between the heavy layer of branches and nodded to herself. Facing the Warder she asked him if they could do a bit of weapons training before it became dark and, perhaps, raining. Elessar thought it a little late in the day for that, with the light slowly waning, but seeing the eagerness on her face he nodded and walked up to a sack he had brought. Inside were a couple of knives and the short sword from the Palace in Ebou Dar. He had brought it for this exact purpose, but also so Myrrhi would have a weapon she had some experience with in case it would be needed. Grabbing the short sword he handed it to a grinning young Battle Ajah Sedai and then headed out from their makeshift camp to a spot nearby where there was more light and space. Facing her, he unsheathed his own blade in one smooth motion and nodded for her to begin.


He wanted to see how much she remembered from what he had taught her. She tried some tentative strikes which he parried easily, then slashed high and then low in good moves which made him defend. He used some simple sword forms going on the attack and she deflected decently, he thought. Then she looked for an opening in his defence and attacked, a good move but he reacted quickly and stopped her momentum. Back and forth it went for a while, him of course holding back to give her a chance, and it became a good spar session. They took a break then, gathering their breath, before Elessar continued the lesson, talking about her moves and the importance of not over-extending oneself in a sword fight. He also showed her a couple of new swordform combinations that could be used with success and they duelled some more before finally calling it a day. Darkness was now gradually enveloping the forested area and they returned to their camp. The Gaidin praised her kindly, saying that he thought her lessons were coming along nicely.


“Even so”, he added with another løpsided gin, “I wouldn’t try going up against a swordmaster any time soon. As I have said many times, it takes time and a lot of practice to become proficient with the sword.” She seemed to grin back, though it was hard to tell for sure in the darkness, but did not reply to his comment. Soon they found their blankets, after Elessar scouted the area one final time without finding any danger, and they slept through an uneventful night.



The following day, in early morning, they washed themselves in a neaby brook, ate and drank a little, tended to their horses, talked a bit about the next part of their journey, and then packed up their things and left. The weather had cleared up somewhat, the rain that had poured down over the woodlands partly through the night - fortunately without drenching the young Sister - was gone, though some clouds remained in the sky. Even so, Elessar thought the weather would improve later in the day (and he was right). He rode slightly ahead of Myrrhi, as before, as they cantered along the dusty road eastwards.


For the next few days they kept riding, had a few sword lessons inbetween, and slept in makeshift camps in woodland-areas or hill-country. The Gaidin was pleased with their progress and, in truth, relieved that he still felt fairly comfortable with Myrrhi, keeping those somewhat darker thoughts of the Bond out of his mind. He enjoyed their travelling together, though they rode much in silence, glad of the companionship on the road. Even so, they were both pleased at the prospect of sleeping in a proper bed in an inn the coming night. It was early evening, under a layer of dark mist, when they reached the small Altaran village of Destra. Truthfully it could hardly be called a village, with its few dozen worn houses along the one main street, a handful of shops, a blacksmith’s place and the “Southern Badger” inn. An old wooden sign hanging above the entrance door depicted a grinning badger and from the outside the building looked worn and scruffy. Still, it was more tempting than sleeping outside another night. Seeing the glance in Myrrhi’s eyes, he was pretty sure she was thinking the same thing.


He nodded to her as she dismounted and then took the two horses to the back of the inn where there was a small stable. A scruffy-looking young stableboy brightened when the Warder threw him a copper coin for taking care of their horses. Elessar spoke to him for a few moments, to make sure he would do his job diligently, then returned to the front of the inn where Myrrhi waited. Together, now with the Aes Sedai one step ahead of him as was proper, they entered the inn, which unsurprisingly also looked worn and scruffy on the inside, and went to talk to the innkeeper, a bald, quite round-figured, middle-aged Illianer wearing a half-dirty apron who welcomed them eagerly, eying the pair closely:


“Do be welcome to the Southern Badger, Masters” he said in his Illianer fashion - and gave a small bow, a glint in his eyes.




Edited by Elessar
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Myrrhi found herself quite happy. The evening was one of the best she had had since she had left from Tar Valon. She felt relaxed and Elessar seemed to feel so as well. They had told each other jokes and other funny stories for a while, then they had started to train.


The Gaidin had picked some knives and the short sword she had used in Ebou Dar. The young woman smiled as she recognized it. I wonder how he managed to get that one, she wondered. I hope he didn't steal it... Her smile turned into a grin when the Warder gave her the weapon. Pointing towards a small clearing, wide enough to serve as training arena, he invited her to follow him. It was only when they faced each other that he unsheathed his own blade in one smooth motion.


Elessar nodded, inviting Myrrhi to begin.


Focused, she dropped into one of the guarding position. From there, she tried a first strike that the Warder parried easily. She tried a second, that he parried again. She moved slowly trying to be as precise as she could with her slashes. One went high, another low, then it was the Warder's turn to attack. He was looking at her, straight in the eye, she noticed. Unlike her, he didn't look where he wanted to hit. That is cheating! She protested. Still, she managed to deflect most of his blows.


Analyzing his moves, she finally saw an opening. It was not her turn to attack, but she felt tempted... very tempted to attack. She tried a simple stab towards his chest, taking advantage of Elessar's arms to be out of the way, and saw that the Warder was surprised. The point of her blade didn't touch him though, the excellent swordsman that he was reacted in a heart beat and pushed her weapon aside. The exercise slowly became a sparring session. The young woman was so concentrated on her attacks and defenses that she forgot who she was for a while, only her short sword existed for her. It felt good to have her mind empty.


Then, came the time to stop. Myrrhi was thankful for the break, finding herself in need of gathering her breath. The Warder saw how tired she was and instead of resuming their sparring he decided to do something a bit less intense. He told her about what he had seen, gave her advice and even showed her a couple of new sword forms. When it became easier for the young woman to breath, he made her have a try at them. They tried a little extra duel at the end of the lesson, since the young Green was feeling better.


"Let's call it a day," the Warder suggested. Myrrhi looked around and saw that darkness had fallen on the forest. She had not noticed it until then, as she had been so focused on the lesson.


As they returned to their campsite, Elessar praised her for the lesson.


"Even so," he added. "I wouldn’t try going up against a swordmaster any time soon. As I have said many times, it takes time and a lot of practice to become proficient with the sword.”


It made Myrrhi grin. "You think, Elessar Gaidin?" she asked, laughing.





Before closing her eyes to go to sleep, the young woman looked up, towards the sky hoping to see the moon. She liked to know that she was up there, watching. It often gave her strength. Unfortunately, she didn't see her. The cover of clouds was too thick. I hope this is not a bad sign, she thought.


Myrrhi turned her head toward the Warder's back.


She wanted to thank him for the day, but she didn't know whether or not he was asleep. She was also afraid that starting to talk now would lead her to dangerous areas and she didn't want to upset Elessar.


Sleep well, she thought before falling asleep herself.






The next day came. Myrrhi was disappointed. The closeness she had felt with Elessar seemed to have disappeared. It was just as if the small wall that was almost always between them had come back, once more. 


They had taken turns to wash themselves at a nearby brook. The young woman would have loved to surprise the Warder and to push him in the water but, since she was not sure he would appreciated the move, she decided against it. They ate, tended their horses, packed and got ready to leave again, all the while talking about the next part of their journey.


Days passed.They were quite similar: they slept outsides in makeshifts camp after a whole day of riding and some extra sword lessons. The young woman didn't dare to talk much. The proposal she had made about the bond was still in her head and it made her feel uncomfortable at times. She spent minutes sometimes to think about what she might say, just to be sure that it would not lead them to any dangerous topics. 


At last, they arrived to a small village called Destra. Myrrhi hadn't known about it but Elessar seemed to have been there before. The village in itself was very small. It counted only a couple of houses and shops, and an inn. It was called the Southern Badger. A name that made the young woman laugh. Finally, she thought. A place that has beds to sleep in! And maybe... it has a bath! 


Elessar nodded to her as they dismounted. He had understood how excited she was about being able to spend the night in an inn.


And I won't forget to make you bath, too, Elessar Gaidin. You smell like you could need one.


The Warder took charge of the stabling of the horses. He went to talk to a young and scruffy-looking boy and paid him to take care of the horses. Myrrhi was waiting for him a few steps away. She was fighting hard not to imagine the scene happening in a parallel universe where Elessar would have been her Warder.


When he told her that everything was taken care of, they advanced together towards the inn door. 


The innkeeper was behind what looked like a bar. The man was bald and round around the waist. The half-dirty apron sent shivers to the young woman's spine. She didn't trusted dirty innkeepers. She liked to see them in clean clothes. "I hope there are no bugs in the beds", she whispered to the Warder and crossed her fingers behind her back.


“Do be welcome to the Southern Badger, Masters” The innkeeper said before giving a small bow, a glint in his eyes.

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.. Reflected in Echoes of the ‘Soldier Amyrlin’  ..



“We do be honoured to have Aes Sedai as guests, Mistress” said the Illianer innkeeper politely, after Myrrhi had introduced herself, though it was hard to tell from his voice and posture if he really meant what he said.


Views were certainly mixed in the Southern nations when it came to Aes Sedai and the White Tower, some places people were fairly hostile, and Aes Sedai did not have the utmost respect from all people and rulers that they had in the Borderlands. Not all dared share their critical view though and would put on a diplomatic face when in contact with Sisters.


Myrrhi asked about the available rooms and amenities and brightened visibly when told of the baths the inn provided.


They soon had adjoining rooms on the second floor of the inn. Elessar could see the excitement in Myrrhi’s sparkling blue eyes at the prospect of a bed to sleep in and - perhaps even more - an enjoyable bath. He looked forward to both himself as well, he had to admit.


The Warder carried all their belongings up the stairs and into their rooms. From a quick glance Elessar noted that the rooms were small and rough-looking, as he had expected, but after days on the road sleeping out, these rooms would be a welcome change even so. He nodded kindly to Myrrhi and left her to unpack as he went to his own room and closed the door behind him. Checking the bed, thinking of Myrrhi’s whisper downstairs, he wondered if there were indeed bugs in the beds. It would not be unheard of, and certainly not unexpected, in this rather shabby-looking inn. He hoped, in that case, that Myrrhi’s bed would have fewer bugs and of the less intrusive kind.



Unpacking his belongings, he then sat on the bed, thinking of the journey so far. They had agreed that Myrrhi would enjoy a bath first and afterwards she would knock on his door to make him know that it was his turn. An indirect comment, accompanied by a glint in her eyes, that a bath ‘rejuvenates’ every traveller had made him grin; he probably did not smell like roses after their many days on the road. And true to her word,  she knocked on the door to his room a little later. He heard her voice from the hall outside, saying almost playfully that she had made his bath so he better hurry before the water went cold. She sounded happy, he thought, and he grinned. One should never underestimate the joy a woman feels at having a nice warm bath to clean herself after days of toil, dirt and sweat. He thanked her, echoing her playful manner, and soon after lay in the bathtub enjoying the warmth and the relaxation.


His thoughts returned to that day, some days before, when he and Myrrhi had shared funny tales and jokes. They had both been relaxed and had their guard down and Elessar had enjoyed their friendly banter and seeming close companionship a lot. It had felt like similar enjoyable situations with Leandreen in the past and had been good for his soul. The following day he had withdrawn a little, however, his guard up again, focusing on their journey and what they had to do. He could not help his muddled feelings and had tried to look ahead. He had sensed Myrrhi’s disappointment at his seeming distance again, but she had said nothing and it could be he had imagined it.



After the bath he relaxed for a while in his room. For some reason his thoughts centered on Carys, his former Bondholder of the Yellow Ajah. He wondered how she was doing in Tar Valon. Probably taking charge in the White Tower Infirmary, he thought with a warm smile. Even if Carys gradually had gotten accustomed to travelling and journeys and some missions for the Tower, he had always thought her most comfortable and at ease ‘at home’ in her Infirmary.


Thinking of Carys made him recall a conversation they had had at one time. They had exchanged some stories from their past and Elessar had spoken of his youth in the Borderlands.


Words of the past.. whispered on the wind..


“..Ah, the joy of youth”, Elessar had said when Carys had finished speaking. “How much simpler life was back then.” He took a quick sip of water and leaned back in his chair, a pensive look on his face. Memories from his early years in Kandor reached out to him. “I remember one time when I was young, I was eleven years or so”, he said. “Valdherien, my elder brother by a few years, and I were playing in the yard outside the estate where we lived in Kandor. It was an ordinary day, just like any other day in the Borderlands. But I remember it vividly. Of a sudden Valdherien stopped playing and gave me a questioning look.”


“Do you.. really want to become a soldier, Elessar?” he asked me. “I know father wants it..”

“Of course, Vald”, I replied, rolling my eyes. “Father pushes me hard so that I can fulfill my dreams.”

“I thought you wanted to become a poet”, he added with a raised eyebrow. “Or at least so you said..”

“Ah, you know nothing”, I replied with a sigh. “I will become one of the best swordsmen there is. That is my calling. And the poetry, well, ..that, no one can take away from me.”


“Valdherien gave me a nod and a smile”, Elessar explained, remembering. “Though I am unsure if he really understood.” The Warder’s eyes slowly lost their far-away look, and he wondered if life truly ever was simple.


“And does he understand now?” Carys asked, referring to his brother. “Have you returned home to show him that you are indeed an expert swordsman with a poet’s heart?” She smiled again and winked as he looked back at her. A small grin passed his lips at her reaction.


Ah, you know me too well, lady, he thought.


“I returned to Kandor some years ago”, Elessar said. “My Sedai and I were on a mission in the Borderlands and we passed my brother’s estate. We stayed there for a night and Valdherien and I sat and spoke until very late about how our lives had turned out. He understood better now my choices and praised my skills, as I praised his.” The Warder’s eyes had taken on a pensive look once more as he for a short time had lost himself again in memories..



Later that evening Myrrhi and Elessar shared a decent meal in the Common Room of the inn. It was half-full, with a mixture of locals and visitors, and Elessar was pleasantly surprised when a gleeman entered the stage and began to perform. The man - who was of below middle age with short blond hair, a beard and the look of a peddler - wore a cloak of many colourful patches, typical of his profession, and certainly had talent, the Warder had to admit. He played the flute, several jaunty tunes, before putting the instrument aside and singing a few songs. Those present applauded when he was finished. After a short break he returned and made a theatrical bow. Now he would tell them the story of a brave woman.. a leader.. a fighter.. a legendary heroine..


“Here is the story of Rashima Kerenmosa”, he said, and his voice changed slightly for emphasis and dramatic effect.


Ah, the Soldier Amyrlin! Thought the Gaidin. Brave Rashima..


Elessar remembered having recited the poem to Myrrhi a long time back. Rashima being one of the greatest heroines - and role models - of the Green Ajah through the Ages, he was sure that the young Battle Ajah Sister remembered as well. He had also seen it performed at several inns up through the years but, as with all poetry and song, history and myth, he enjoyed every retelling.


The Gaidin nodded in satisfaction. “Well, if you keep up this weapons training”, he said with a playful grin, looking at Myrrhi, a glint in his eyes, “you might end up another Rashima Kerenmosa yourself, one day.”


He did not see her response to his words because right then his attention was grabbed by the gleeman as he began his tale - and everyone in the room were soon captivated, as he sang of the bravery of the almost mythological figure of the ‘Soldier Amyrlin’..




Honour to the ‘Soldier Amyrlin’


Brave Rashima Kerenmosa! Valiant Sister of the Green

The Flame of Tar Valon, boldest Leader ever Seen

A Sister of Battle, she the Shadow fought with Might

In the Trolloc Wars she battled, gave her Life for the Light


A General, a Politician - her Talents were There

She handled situations with Tact and with Care

But as a Military Leader she was Respected by All

She led the Ten Nations through Fire and Gall


When Aridhol fell and Manetheren as Well.

Rashima restored morale in the Compact, they Tell

She led the defence of Tar Valon with Strength

When Trollocs attacked the Sedai city at Length


Victories followed at Kaisin Pass and Larapelle

The Sorelle Step, Tel Norwin where many soldiers Fell

In the middle of Battle, the Amyrlin fought Strong

To vanquish the Shadow, the Evil, the Wrong


The Battle of Maighande was the Beginning of the End

For brave Rashima, though they Conquered, my Friend

The back of the invasion they Broke, the Shadow’s Plan

At Maighande, where ‘the Victory of humankind’ Began


Rashima died a hero, with her five Warders Near

Valiant as few! Battle Sister, Honour Clear.

‘Round their bodies a wall of Trolloc corpses’ Stain

With many dead Fades and nine Dreadlords Slain


Brave Rashima Kerenmosa! Valiant Sister of the Light

The ‘Soldier Amyrlin’, a Star shining Bright

A Sister of Battle, she’ll be Remembered by All

In the Turning of the Wheel, until Darkness’ Fall






Edited by Elessar
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Myrrhi looked at her room and sighed. It was small and very different from her room in the Tarasin Palace, but at least she had a bed. She decided to take advantage of the fact that Elessar was unpacking in his own room to run to her bed and jump on it. She landed flat in her belly, arms wide open. "It feels so good!" she told herself. Remembering that there might be bugs around, she scrambled back on her feet. The young woman opened herself to Saidar and used the awareness it provided to chase any sign of life form that was not her.


An Aes Sedai couldn't get lice!


The innkeeper showed up a moment later to show her the bathroom. "Do not send any visitor in here for two hours at least," she told him, slipping a coin in his hands. "Of, course, Aes Sedai," he replied bowing. 


The bathroom was small and as shabby looking as the place where she was supposed to sleep. It had enough room to house two tubs and a fireplace, which was good in itself. In many inns, visitor would take their baths in their rooms...


It didn't take long for the servants to bring in hot water and soap. She thanked them and immersed herself in the warm water. She enjoyed it as long as she could, reheating it with the One Power. A part of her knew that the Warder was waiting for her but she didn't want to leave the place too soon.




Eventually came the time to get out of the tub. Her skin was all wrinkled on the tips of her fingers and her toes. It made her feel like an old woman. She took the time to put on her dress and rearrange her hair before leaving the room. First, she went to meet to servants to ask them to replace the water, then only did she went to knock on the Warder's door.


"It is your turn," she said with a playful smile on her face. "I have asked the servants to bring in new water."


She grinned and started to sniff the air around the Gaidin. "I would hurry if I were you", she said. If you don't wash this smell away, you'll smell like that forever.


Elessar laughed. It was nice for the young woman to see how relaxed he had become day after day. Of course, he had become darker every now and then. Especially after such enjoyable moments... But, Myrrhi had decided not to press him. She took fully enjoyed the good moments they had together and tried to ignore the others, as best as she could.




The evening became even better when she and the Warder took their meals in the common room of the inn. Elessar had come out of the bathing room with a smile on his face and he had kept it for the best part of the evening. It made Myrrhi feel at east. The gleeman that had made his appearance while they were finishing their plates was a real surprise, a surprise that made her even feel better. She had found herself singing along some of his songs and tapping rhythm with her slippered foot. Seeing how the Gaidin applauded, he looked like he was enjoying the show as well.



“Here is the story of Rashima Kerenmosa”, the gleeman said, modulating his voice to add some dramatic effect.


"You recited this one to me," Myrrhi said, placing her hand on Elessar's sleeves. "I remember!" she added laughing.


The Gaidin nodded in satisfaction. “Well, if you keep up this weapons training”, he said with a playful grin, looking at Myrrhi, "you might end up another Rashima Kerenmosa yourself, one day.”


"I am counting on that!" she added, with mischief in her eyes.




Time came for both of them to go back to their room. Myrrhi paid the innkeeper and slowly they climbed up the stairs, commenting on the gleeman's performance.


As they arrived in front of Elessar's room door, the young woman stopped. "Thank you, for this evening, Elessar Gaidin. I really enjoyed myself. Much more than I had in Ebou Dar, I have to say."


She smiled. "I hope you enjoyed yourself as well..."


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.. Remembering the Thin Line between Life and Death  ..



Several days later they passed the border and entered the nation of Illian, on a late afternoon with clouds blanketing the sky in all directions.


They had ridden all day and weariness was evident in both their faces and postures as Elessar and Myrrhi lead their mounts into the woods from the main road to make camp. They were too far away from the next village and they needed rest and shelter. Dismounting quickly the Warder lead his black stallion Stormbreaker in among the trees with Myrrhi still atop her mare right behind him. After fifty paces or so he stopped and waved for her to dismount. They were in a small clearing but with sheltering tall trees around them, some large rocks and a decent place where they could set up their makeshift camp. Elessar tethered the horses, gave them a good brush-down, and then set out their blankets and belongings while Myrrhi set to making a small fire. Soon the Gaidin joined her and they shared a quick meal consisting of dried mutton, some onions, vegetables and water from their flasks. They ate in silence, enjoying the rest but also the companionship.



Placing a piece of mutton in his mouth, the Warder glanced across at the young Aes Sedai and wondered what she was thinking.


He remembered how glad and seemingly carefree she had seemed in the inn that evening of the ‘Soldier Amyrlin’-performance. She had smiled and had laughed as they had paid the innkeeper and slowly climbed the stairs to the second floor. They had both commented playfully on the gleeman’s version of the tale, on the bravery of Rashima all those years ago, and on the question if there would ever be another Rashima in the White Tower. As they had arrived in front of his room, she had stopped and had thanked him for that evening, confirming that she had really enjoyed herself, much more than she had in Ebou Dar, she had added. "I hope you enjoyed yourself as well..." she had said, smiling, and he had replied that he had. It had been a good evening, in truth, both seemingly relaxed and at ease and enjoying each other’s company.


The next day after a decent breakfast they had continued their journey, leaving the village behind, again riding for the most part in silence. They had gotten provisions for this next leg of their journey and were well stocked for the coming days. Elessar’s light mood darkened a little, however, though he kept his thoughts to himself. He tried not to show his mixed emotions to Myrrhi but she probably sensed his intermittent unease and kept her distance. They made good progress that day, in fine weather conditions, but the following day was filled with rain and stormy winds and muddy roads so they only made half the planned travelling distance. The Gaidin’s mood gradually brightened though as they rode steadily eastwards, smoothing over his inner misgivings, focusing on the positive in his situation. For he did enjoy the company of Myrrhi and their ‘working together’ on this journey to Illian, her smiles and efforts gladdened him, even if his emotions sometimes were clouded by his age-long guilt and his thoughts of the Bond-refusal. He hoped he somehow would overcome those darker thoughts in time. He knew deep inside that he would need to conquer his inner demons if he ever were to gain peace of mind and soul.



After their small meal, they sat silently staring into the flames of the fire as twilight slowly descended on the woodland area. Rain had not come yet though Elessar guessed it was on the way. The wind had also picked up and it could become a somewhat chilly night.


Glancing at Myrrhi again, he was reminded of their shared ecperiences through the last years. Of his many memories, one that stood out was the dramatic incident during their horseriding-lessons when she had almost drowned in a river.


He remembered it all as if it were yesterday..



..Riding like the wind after Myrrhi, he had been only thirty feet or so behind the mare when she had suddenly crashed into something - he could not see what! it was not the hill or rocks, of that he was certain - and had gone down as if she had hit a stone boulder! Myrrhi flew through the air, stunned by the impact and the shock, off the side of the path and out of view!


Cursing inside, Elessar brought his horse to an abrupt stop behind the fallen mare and jumped off in a hurry. He disregarded whatever had caused the incident but checked quickly to see that Moonray was still alive and seemingly uninjured despite the heavy knock and shock to her system, then looked carefully over the cliff-face; it was easily eighteen to twenty feet steep, but he could see nothing down there. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he suddenly glimpsed something drifting downstream and when he looked more closely he saw what looked like the Accepted’s white dress!




He reacted instinctively. Throwing his sword aside, he ran far along the cliff-face, among the trees and brush there, watching the pull of the stream. Fortunately it was not that strong, he could see the swirling waters from his side and about fifteen feet across to the other bank, but the young woman was carried further away by the second. He ran the last bit with great strides and then as he crossed a hillock close to the water, seeing that he had overtaken the floating young woman, he dived into the stream, his body straight as an arrow, hitting the cold water smoothly.


He pushed with his legs as soon as he was under water, ignoring the coldness that crashed into him, and came up to the surface in almost no time. His eyes looked everywhere for the Accepted and finally he spotted her not that far away, a little off to his right. Kicking hard with his legs for speed he used all his strength to swim over to her and catch her in his arms, before she drifted past. He swam hard for shore and thankfully there was a spot by the cliffs with hard ground before a slope where it was possible to bring her in. Gasping from the exertion, water dripping from his hair and clothes, he carried her out of the water and placed her carefully on the ground. Her head was bruised and he saw some blood on her face; she had probably hit the cliff-face, he thought, when she had fallen from the height into the stream. He pushed some strands of wet hair tenderly away from her face, looking for further injuries.



Kneeling beside her, he checked her vital signs.


She was not breathing! Her heart had stopped!


Oh bloody hell!


Her face was deathly white and her eyes closed.. Immediately he tried to get her heart going, pulling the front of her soaked dress to the side and pressing down on her chest in a regular rhythm, as he breathed air into her mouth.


No response!


He repeated the procedure several times, listening for her heartbeat at given intervals, so focused on the task that he did not have time to panic or grieve.


Inside though, anger and concern mingled and made him almost want to scream.


Still no response from her!


He kept at what he was doing fastidiously though. Part of Warder-training, it was something which he had had vital use of before. Another young woman, a Borderlander wench that they had come across on one of their missions, having fallen into a river in Saldaea, many years before, had been saved in the same fashion. Elessar remembered it well.


Everyone had thought her dead, but he had not given up - and she had survived; brought back from the Darkness of death to the Light of life.


He pushed at Myrrhi’s chest with his palm in the prescribed way and breathed more air into her lungs..


And finally-




-after what felt like an eternity.., there was a faint heartbeat, her eyes came slowly alive and she took a first hoarse breath..


…she then coughed hard and water spewed out of her mouth from her lungs as he placed her on her side. Her heart beat stronger now, pushing essential life-blood around her weakened body.


His relief was palpable.. and joy came unbidden into his eyes.


Thank the heavens!


She kept on coughing and once she had emptied herself  she looked about her with wide, uncertain eyes. Covering up the front of her dress, she then saw him. Recognizing his familiar face, a worn but glad smile came upon her lips. Impulsively, without thinking, he clasped his arms around her and hugged her to him, speaking encouragingly to her. She held onto him, wetness in her eyes, feeling warm and safe in his arms. Then, after a few moments, he realized what he was doing and - feeling slightly embarassed - he pulled away from her, giving her a sheepish smile.


"I am glad that you are back.. and safe," he had said, not without emotion, handing her his Warder’s fancloak. Though soaked he hoped it would give her a little added insulation - a little added warmth - against the cold. She had wrapped it gratefully around herself as he turned away, looking up the cliff-face and at the trees far above. "That was a close call. Too close..", he had mumbled softly as he had tried to look everywhere but at her. He could not tell if she had heard his words..



A spark from a piece of burning wood in the campfire brought him back to the present.


He had never talked about the river-incident with Myrrhi. He imagined it had been a very tough ordeal for the young woman and the Warder had considered it a sensitive subject that he had stayed away from. Much time had passed since the incident though, and Elessar thought that she might now be ready to talk a little about it.


It was a shared experience.. of pain and relief.


Of Life and Death.


Of Rebirth.


Meeting her eyes now, he said carefully, “Do you ever think about that dangerous river-incident back when you were an Accepted?”


He could not totally hide a touch of emotion in his voice. To lighten the tone a little, he added with a small smile, “The one that oficially never happened..” She nodded slightly though he could not see her features clearly in the waning light. Elessar picked up a small twig from the ground and ran it between his fingers. “That was a close call.”


A moment of silence followed.


In a whisper he added, “Sometimes there is a thin line between life and death.”


He did not know if she had heard.


Staring hard into the flames, he thought about life-changing events, as he waited for her to reply.




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Illian at last... Myrrhi had never been on a mission there. She wondered if the people she would mean would be as interesting as the ones she had met in Altara. The face of the Guardsman who had taught her the basics about sword fighting passed through her mind. She had not known much about him but it had been nice to spend time with him. Even if he isn't as nice as Elessar, the young woman thought hoping she was not blushing. It was only late afternoon and darkness had not fallen yet. It would be easy for the Warder to notice her cheeks coloring.


The weather was not so nice. It was cloudy, and Myrrhi ached for some sun. Just like in Ebou Dar.


Following Elessar who had taken the lead, the Green Aes Sedai allowed herself to daydream. Her companion had taken the lead and she felt perfectly safe behind him.


What if I had stayed in the Tarasin Palace?

Would I have gotten to know my Guardsman better?


It was only now, after days of travels, that she managed to fully appreciate the free time she had had thanks to Deana. She had been able to meet new people, people who were not from the White Tower. It gave some freshness in her life.


Time passed and the Warder signaled her that it was time to stop for the night. She sighed. She didn't like to sleep outside when there were so many chances of rain. Still, she answered positively to Elessar's invitation to dismount. They quickly set up a small camp, before sharing a meal. They once more started to eat in silence. Myrrhi was too tired to start a conversation, she wanted to sleep more than anything else, and hoped that the Warder would not think that she was angry against him.


She was done with her food when she felt Elessar watching her. She raised her head and her eyes met his.


 “Do you ever think about that dangerous river-incident back when you were an Accepted?”


Myrrhi was surprised to hear a touch of emotion in the Warder's voice. It made her want to reach for him. But, she fought against this embarrassing urge. She didn't know whether or not he wanted her to notice that touch. Indeed, he immediately added with a small smile, “The one that oficially never happened...”


"Of course," she said smiling herself. She nodded then looked away.


The event replayed in her head. She remembered that she wanted Elessar to feel proud of her, that day. She remembered all the efforts she had made to impress him. It had been hard, she had not been very comfortable with horses by then. Then the "incident" happened. She had felt scared, pretty much more than she had ever been before. Scared to hurt herself, to hurt the horse but also to disappoint the Warder.


And that all for nothing, she thought bitterly. It's not like he thinks of me as bonding material...


She nodded, waiting for Elessar to go on. “That was a close call," he said then he made a break before adding  “Sometimes there is a thin line between life and death.”


"I thought a lot about it," she said. "Right after it happened. I felt guilty and ashamed. No matter what you tried to convince me of." She laughed. "Then I put those memories in a little drawer, that I locked, so I wouldn't have to think about it anymore. As an Aes Sedai, it is better not to dwell on your failures. You have to feel brave, powerful, worthy..."


She saw that Warder reacting to her words. He had not expected her words. She knew she was hard with herself, but she had told the truth - the Oaths would not have allowed her to lie. She didn't dare to start talking about the Warder himself, as she feared she would say too much.


"I am glad that everything ended up well... and that I managed to become a better rider," she added with a grin, using the same tactic as him to cheer up the atmosphere.





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.. To Run like the Wind ..



"Of course," Myrrhi said, smiling herself. She nodded then looked away.


She added that she had thought a lot about it - the almost fatal river-accident - right after it had happened. She had felt guilty and ashamed. Then she had put those memories in a little drawer in her mind that she had locked so she wouldn’t have to think about it anymore.


“As an Aes Sedai, “ she ended, “it is better not to dwell on your failures. You have to feel brave, powerful, worthy..."


Elessar thought her overly hard on herself and some of his reaction must have shown. Leandreen would have had a few poignant words with the young Green as well, he thought. He did not say anything though, feeling it would be wrong to judge. He knew too well what it was like to be hard on oneself. He had always set almost impossible standards for himself in his eternal striving for excellence.


He had never learned how to forgive himself either.


"I am glad that everything ended up well... and that I managed to become a better rider," she added with a grin, lightening the tone of the dark subject like he had done previously.


He nodded in silence, giving her an encouraging smile, wondering inside how scarred this young Aes Sedai really was from that near death-incident.


She kept silent after that, staring pensively into the flames, and he found nothing to add to the conversation and so he remained silent as well. After a while, as darkness descended, they found their blankets, Elessar having completed his usual scouting of the camp-area, and had an early night. Only mild rain came that night for which they were grateful.



The next morning, under a partially blue sky and a rising sun, they ate a quick breakfast consisting of dried mutton and some vegetables, saw to their horses, packed their belongings and continued their journey toward the capital of Illian. It lay many days’ riding to the south-east, but as they travelled the main road putting leagues behind them they both felt they almost had their destination in sight. Dust swirled in their wake as they cantered swiftly down the roads, the wind in their faces, their eyes slightly wide, blood flowing in their veins..




”Run like the Wind

And become One,

With Life.”


Old Saying, Unknown Origin



..At one point, a broad grin upon his face, Elessar suddenly hit Stormbreaker’s flank hard and he surged ahead in full gallop. A few moments later Myrrhi caught up with him, glee on her face as she pushed the mare hard to maintain the high speed. They sped onwards down the road, like two spirits carefree of the world and its troubles, until at last the Warder slowed down and they came to a halt at a bend in the road.


They both laughed, exhilaration in their faces, and Myrrhi’s smile warmed him.



That evening they reached their first village in Illian. Myrrhi was far from displeased at the thought of sleeping in a bed that night, Elessar could see it in her face, and though he was used to life on the road after years of travel he had to admit that he preferred sleeping inside too. Perhaps I am going soft, he thought with a lopsided grin. The village was called Talgar and was somewhat larger than the one they had visited, on their journey, in Altara.


This village had several tree-lined streets with shops and houses and also two inns. They chose the southern-most of the two; it seemed slightly more affluent from the outside, as if it saw fairly regular maintenance. “The Wild Boar” read a sign above the entrance door, with a picture of a white charging boar on a background of blue. They dismounted and Elessar took the mounts to the back of the inn, giving them each an affectionate pat on the back, and handed them over to an eager Illianer stableboy. Her told the boy to take good care of their horses, handing him a copper coin. Then he returned to the front of the establishment and followed Myrrhi inside.


That night Elessar had trouble sleeping. His thoughts were filled with memories and images of his former Bondholders.


Leandreen. Carrain. Carys. Kathleen.



They spoke to him.


..laughed with him.


..admonished him.


..smiled at him.



His mind travelled again on the many journeys across the nations, as memories flowed into one another, in an endless tapestry of colourful images.


And when sleep finally took him, far into the night, his dreams were filled with rememberance.






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.. Arrival and Reappraisals in the Capital city of Illian  ..



Several days later, and many leagues to the south, under an ocean-blue sky, a soft southern breeze  and with the glowing sun high in the sky, the Warder and Aes Sedai rode into the city and Capital of Illian.


It was a city buzzing with life.


They rode slowly down the city streets, along the multitude of water channels - or canals - that criscrossed the Capital, over bridges and marble steps and roads of paving stones. Magnificent buildings, many of paled dressed stone, shone in the sunlight and fountains and statues adorned plazas and squares alike. Passing shops and vendors and stalls by the dozen, with shopkeepers and customers arguing prizes, haggling expertly and with hidden smiles, discussing also other daily matters, Elessar was reminded of his last visit to the city.


He and his Bondholder at the time had been in a Tar Valon party on a mission for the Tower to recover some artifacts of value. It had been on a similar day, under a blazing yellow sun in the sky, that the two had ridden through the city heading towards a Manor House in the eastern outskirts. On that day they had almost been run down by a black carriage pulled by six white horses, leaving a cursing Warder and a not very amused Aes Sedai in their wake..


Today there were no incidents as they manouvered carefully through the busy streets until at last arriving at their destination, the ‘Eastern Swan’ Inn. Dismounting in front of the building, Elessar lead both horses to the back while Myrrhi waited patiently for his return. She did not have to wait long. Soon he returned, giving her a small nod to indicate that their horses - and faithful companions on the road - were well taken care of. Entering the inn, one step behind Myrrhi, he carried their belongings over to a set of stairs and waited while the Aes Sedai spoke to the Illlianer innkeeper. Soon they were in their rooms, which were of fairly good standard and size, on the second floor resting for a bit before taking care of that day’s business. Myrrhi had not shared many details with him but he understood that she was going to meet someone here in the city, possibly to collect something. They would meet downstairs in the Common Room later that day and he would find out.



The journey southwards of the past days and week had been fairly uneventful. They had ridden under changing weather conditions, speaking a little more than earlier in their journey, sharing smiles and laughter, and it seemed to the Warder that they were both more at ease now, something which both appeared to appreciate. They had made their camps in woodlands and had enjoyed the odd comfort of an Inn, passing an increasing amount of travellers along the dusty roads as they gradually neared the outskirts of the Capital city. They both naturally felt some weariness from the long ride, but closing in on their destination seemed to give them both renewed strength and motivation and Elessar could see the bright smile on Myrrhi’s face when they had their first glance of the Capital in the far distance.


..A visitor could in his or her mind’s eye imagine the splendour of the city and its many beautiful canals, its huge circular harbour and port connected to the city proper by the Bridge of Flowers, and the famous Square of Tammaz in the heart of the Capital with the King's Palace on one end and the Great Hall of the Council on the other..


Now, as he lay relaxing in his bed in his room at the Inn, he went over in his mind how the whole journey had transpired from their departure in Ebou Dar a good while ago. Sitting up in bed, staring at the wall, he thought of Myrrhi who relaxed on the other side in the neighbouring room. Had they been Bonded, he would have been able to pinpoint her direction blindfolded and would have felt her there on the other side.


He remembered the strange and almost undescribible feeling of the Bond.. of feeling someone inside your head.. it was a kind of unity.. a togetherness.. that was hard to explain to those who had not experienced it first hand. It was something.. shared.. between a Sedai and her Warder.. something.. precious…something sacred..


So why am I so afraid of it then? He wondered, brushing his hand through his hair. Or am I?



He felt the inherent doubt inside, the guilt, the eternal fear of (another) failure.. but it was weaker than before, almost as if he were slowly, gradually coming to terms with himself, accepting his fears and trying to deal with them, readying himself..pushing himself towards a resolution of sorts..


Travelling with Myrrhi had been very much like his previous journeys and missions with his Bondholders. So much so that he had at times almost caught himself thinking of her as his Bonded Aes Sedai.


Would that be so wrong, after all? He mused, staring thoughtfully at the wall. If she trusts me and has faith in me, why can I not trust myself?


And who else, a small voice added in his head, would you rather kept her alive and safe?.


He knew the answer to that last rhetorical question.


Laying his head back on the pillow, his eyes now fastened on the ceiling of the room, his hands clenched at his side, he thought for a long time about his former Bonds and Bondholders, about lifepaths and choices.. about successes and (fear of) failures.. about guilt and losses.. and about second chances..but most of all he thought about a blond-haired young Aes Sedai with a warm smile and sparkling blue eyes.




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So many days have passed and I still don't feel completely comfortable around him, Myrrhi sighed. She watched Elessar's back. Once more he had taken the lead leaving her the opportunity to be distracted by the busy streets they had to go through. So many shops attracted her eyes, the young woman knew that she should have order a couple of fresh dresses before going back to the Tower.


At last they stopped in front of a very elegant inn called the Eastern Swan. She waited for the Warder to dismount to glide down from her horse. The man smiled to her before taking the reins from her hands. "I"ll lead the horse to the stables," he told her. "I'll be back in a second."


Myrrhi smiled back. As she waited for him, she tried to empty her mind. She wanted to get rid of that strange sickness she had been feeling in her stomach the whole day.


It must have been that silly dream, I should forget about it... Before he notices anything.


Thinking back about the night before, she blushed.


As promised, Elessar quickly came back to her. He gave her a small nod to indicate that their horses were well taken care of. "Thanks," she said, before moving towards the inn's entrance. She had not had the time to reach it yet when the Warder placed a hand on her shoulder. She turned towards him, surprised by his touch. The look on his face was clear : she should let him take the lead. Who knew who was in the inn? Myrrhi grinned and winked at her companion; showing him that she didn't think it necessary to take any kind of precautions. Elessar didn't move for a time then nodded once more inviting her to go ahead.


And so they entered the inn, Elessar a small step behind her.


"Welcome to the Eastern Swan," the innkeeper started.


Myrrhi was pleased to see that the man was impressed by the appearance of an Aes Sedai and a Warder. She quickly made a deal she deemed very well balanced. For a very decent price, she got themselves two bedrooms of a very nice size and a meal that included grilled eggplants. A delicacy she was very fond of. She would have to take her meals in the main room in return, something that she was ready to do. The innkeeper was so happy to have them as guests that he even gave her all the indications she needed to for her mission.


"Elessar?" she asked as she entered the room assigned to the Warder. The man turned his head from the bags he was emptying. "I have to go to take care of that business I talked to you about. I'll be back for dinner".


Not leaving the Warder the time to protest, she added "I'll take care of myself, don't worry."


They exchanged a couple of words and she left with a smile on her face.





When Myrrhi returned to the inn, she felt proud and happy. She had managed to get the books she needed - including some special ones for herself - and had received the best assurance that the inn Elessar had picked had the most delicious food in the City. She met the Warder in the common room with a bright smile on her face.


"Good to see you, Elessar Gaidin," she said.


The Warder seemed to want to ask her about what she had done, but she didn't want to give him too many information. She had done errands for a Brown Sister, tasks that could have been performed by an Accepted, and she was not ready to diminish herself in the Warder's eyes by telling about it. Instead, she commented about the food and the gleeman who had just made an appearance. The food, the drink and the music helped her to make some of her walls disappear. At the end of the evening, she even found herself laughing to tears at some of the gleeman's stories.




With Deana's mission completed and that evening in the Eastern Swan behind her back, Myrrhi finally managed to enjoy herself more on her way to the Tower. The riding was not always easy  the weather kept on changing and she didn't like cold nor windy weather but at least Elessar and her talked more, shared more smiles.


Soon they arrived to the Capital City where they stopped to another inn. The innkeeper was less impressed this time and they only received small bedrooms. The young Green was exhausted after a long day of travel and told Elessar she would retire early. The Warder told her that he would to the same. He wanted to stay fit for the journey ahead.


Myrrhi was drifting to sleep when strange images passed through her mind. They were so disturbing that she found herself running to Elessar without taking the time to put a dress on her shift nor to knock on his door.


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.. In the Middle of Storms of Every Kind  ..



Elessar was lost in thoughts for a long time.


If truth be told, he had not been best pleased that Myrrhi had decided to go on her errands on her own that day. When she had told him, his instinctive reaction had been to protest. The Capital was a huge city with all the inherent dangers that such cities had, and it was prudent for him to go along to keep her safe. That was his duty as he saw it, Bonded or no. But she had been adamant and he had seen in her blue eyes that she seemed confident and that it was unlikely she would be persuaded otherwise. Had he been her Bonded Warder, he probably would have insisted, perhaps unsuccessfully, but it was his place as a Warder to defer to an Aes Sedai’s decision, unless he felt assured she was walking into danger, and he had to admit she would in all probability be safe on her few city-errands. He also had to respect that she might want some time in private after all their time together on the road. And so he nodded to her with a smile when she assured him not to worry; she would take care of herself. They exchanged a couple of words and then he watched her leave with a smile on her face.



Later he met her in the Common Room as planned. She had a bright smile on her face and Elessar presumed that meant she had been successful with her errands. She greeted him kindly and he greeted her back in turn. “Good to see you too, Myrrhi Aes Sedai”, he replied with a smile. He was somewhat curious about her errands and to learn more about what had brought them to this city, but he respected her silence on the subject and did not inquire. She would speak of it when and if she were ready. A look she gave him made him think that she had almost read his thoughts. Then her eyes gazed around the Common Room for a moment before meeting his again. She commented about the food and the Gleeman who had just made an appearance. As time passed they enjoyed the food, drink and the music. When darkness enveloped the southern city more and more guests joined them all in the Common Room, appreciating the Gleeman’s performance and a drink or two or ten with neighbours and friends. To the Warder it seemed that Myrrhi became even more at ease as the evening was coming to a close and he smiled warmly, feeling glad inside, when he saw the Aes Sedai’s happy laughter - even to the point of tears - at some of the Gleeman’s stories. He joined in her laughter, enjoying the evening and the good company.



Elessar lay in bed, close to sleep, when the door to his room was suddenly thrown open. He was out of his bed in a second, his Warder body and senses reacting instinctively, facing the possible danger. He stopped his forward momentum, seeing in a split second that it was Myrrhi, and looked behind her to see if there was any threat. He saw no one and walked over to the door, peeked down the corridor, then closed the door before turning to meet the young Aes Sedai’s weary eyes. She was only in her night shift and Elessar deduced that she had left in a hurry, not taking the time to put on a dress. He handed her one of his big shirts from a small wardrobe which she thankfully placed over her shoulders, then he asked her, with concern in his voice, what had happened. There was a disturbed look in her eyes as she told him that she had had a dream.. and that it spoke of imminent danger.. She mentioned some images.. among them a Black Raven and a Bloodied Knife.. and that she feared for them both.


Elessar listened in respectful silence, taking her words seriously. He knew Myrrhi would not have been so concerned.. disturbed.. if this had been an ordinary dream or nightmare. He knew also that people could have premonitions and that warning signs should be taken seriously. Some people were.. sensitive to such things.. he recalled Leandreen touching on the subject at one point.. and it would be foolish to dismiss warnings even if no threat seemed imminent. Many people in the world were hostile to Aes Sedai, after all, and Darkfriends lay in Shadows in places both big and small. The Warder shared his thoughts with the young Sister, thanking her for sharing her concern with him, and added that they would take necessary precautions in the days ahead. She seemed to appreciate that he took her dream seriously and seemed to the Gaidin calmer and more at ease as she left his room and returned to her own room. For a time after she left, he lay awake in his bed thinking about what these portents or signs.. if such they were.. meant.. and how to prepare for an unknown danger.



It was several days later that it happened.


And the attack - the danger - came almost out of nowhere!


They had taken all possible precautions, they believed, on their long ride in the little frequented woodlands outside the Capital of Illian that day, but sometimes fate takes a hand. Stormy weather had quickly come in from the south and caught them unawares. They were half-way back to the city, having decided to return swiftly rather than to seek shelter - a decision the Warder was beginning to regret -  when lightening suddenly plummeted down from the unruly skies, turning huge oak trees into burning torches along their path. Elessar’s attention was in part on the way ahead, in part on Myrrhi who rode close behind him, in part on their surroundings and in part on the sky which was on fire.


It was a chaotic situation!


As they rushed through the woods atop their skittish mounts, avoiding low-hanging branches, trees, bushes and rocks, trying to escape the mayhem around them, Stormbreaker suddenly stumbled when a bolt of lightening hit a nearby tree and Elessar was thrown to the ground amid thunderpalls above. Myrrhi’s mare shied abruptly to avoid running straight into the falling stallion and Myrrhi was thrown also. She landed hard, losing her breath for a moment. Elessar climbed slowly to his feet some way off, trying to get his bearings after the knock, and he looked toward Myrrhi. Quickly he was beside her helping her to her feet. Stormbreaker was also gaining his feet while Myrrhi’s mare had ran off in fright.


Just then Elessar sensed some movement behind some brush and some trees off to his right. He looked more closely, wondering if it was an animal, when suddenly a glint of steel caught his eye.





Several men came hurriedly towards them and Elessar cursed inside. Damn outlaws! And here of all places. The brigands, the ruthless outlaws were probably lying in wait several places throughout the woods, he now thought darkly, and the two had by chance come upon one such band.


It made the Warder think of dark Omens.


The men were armed and they wasted no time before attacking. The Warder screamed a warning to Myrrhi, hoping she would hear above the roar from the heavens, then unsheathed his blade in one smooth motion and threw himself at the nearest brigands. If he could, he would avoid killing them, but he would stop them one way or another. The first man did not know what hit him as Elessar’s sword sliced into his side, not lethally but taking him out of the fight, then the momentum carried the Gaidin into the path of the second man who parried well but was unable to avoid Elessar’s quick follow-up move. The man screamed as the Warder’s sword-hilt smashed into his face, breaking his nose. He fell to the ground clutching at his bloodied face. Two more men came at Myrrhi from the side but Elessar could not aid her since he was just then confronted by a huge bearded man with a swinging battle-axe and all his attention was caught by this new threat.


The man was a better fighter than his outlaw-brothers and pushed the Warder hard, but Elessar was a near-Blademaster and his skill overcame his bearded opponent who fell to the ground, incapacitated. Elessar turned quickly then to see if Myrrhi was safe and saw two men lying behind her as she met his eyes with a determined look. Well done, Myrrhi! He thought with relief. Giving her a quick nod, his eyes full of praise, he turned to see if there were any more brigands out there. He saw no one at first, but then there was small movement behind a tree some distance away. A glint of a shining knife blade caught his eye and in that moment, in one flowing motion, he threw one of the knives he carried at his side toward the partially hidden man. He knew it would hit its target.


At the same time, however, he saw the man’s deadly knife begin its flight through the air toward Myrrhi.


Time slowed down at that moment.., everything happening in slow motion..



-On a branch high above them, a Black Raven stared coldly down at the Warder and Aes Sedai.-


-Lightening flashed across the skies.-


-Fires burned.-


-Ripples in time.-





It was like a whisper in his mind.


An echo of life.


And in that split second, Elessar reacted. His Warder-instinct of protection propelled him forwards.


Screaming another warning, in three long impossibly swift strides he threw himself headlong in the path of the knife, in front of the young Aes Sedai, shielding her with his body!


Feeling time almost stand still, he brought her crashing to the ground, the Bloodied Knife embedded deep in his back!




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  • 2 weeks later...

This is definitely not the way I had planned to travel”, Myrrhi mumbled under her breath. The change of weather was unnatural, and she could sense Elessar had similar thoughts when she watched him. “And now it bloody starts to rain ... again! Great, this keeps getting better and better.” The skies were turned into brightest daylight with every bolt of lightning. It was surreal. A flash of lightning nearby blinded her, and she didn’t realize what had happened until she was on the floor, gasping for air.  Looking up to the side, she could see her mare run off. Coughing, she slowly turned her head towards the other side, trying to see what had happened to Elessar. Blinking, she saw the Warder get up. “Good, he’s safe”, she thought. Within moments, he was next to her, to help her up. The feeling of his hands on her helped her regain some spirit. They were alright.

Myrrhi was nearly on her feet when she sensed Elessar tighten up. “What’s wro…”, she started, but there was no answer. Well, there was no spoken answer. The Warder lunged himself at two dark shapes, which she hadn’t noticed before. Startled, she realized those shapes were attackers. Bandits, brigands… whatever, or whoever, they were, they were not there to talk. Quickly jumping to her feet, she looked around. Her blood was pumping, fear trying to get a grip of her. “Myrrhi, stay calm. Focus. You can do this”, she told herself. Drawing in a deep breath, she looked at the Warder. He had just knocked 2 men down, their eyes met for a split second, then she saw the Warders’ eyes shifting to her side. “Thanks for the warning, Elessar”, she thought, and opened herself to Saidar. Weaves of Air were the easiest and quickest to do, especially with the current weather. A wall of air surrounded her, something her attackers clearly hadn’t anticipated. Both hit the protective ward hard, and were knocked back. Myrrhi used the few instants her ward bought, trying to see what was happening around her, judging her terrain. She noticed a very large branch overhead. “That’ll do”, she thought, and used another weave of Air to bring it down on one of her attackers. Thinking about a large hammer, she concentrated on her weave. It flowed together, and came down on the branch with a loud crack. The attacker could only look up in time to see what was happening, and the only word, barely audible, was “Bloody...”, before he got knocked down, the piece of wood hitting and splitting his skull open.

The young Green now looked at the second attacker. He was watching his companion, then turned his gaze upon Myrrhi. “You bloody witch! I’ll gut you for this!”, he screamed. The man took his long knife, and started running towards the Aes Sedai. Instinctively, perhaps aided by the rain on her face and clothes, Myrrhi opened herself to Saidar once again, this time choosing Water. A Weave surrounded the attacker, swallowing him in water. The man panicked. He tried to free himself, but the water wouldn’t go away. He was drowning, on land, and he knew he would die.

The Aes Sedai maintained the Weave, until her attacker hung limp in her weave of water. Only then did she let go. The body fell to the ground with a thump, the noise lessened by the heavy storm still raging. She looked around, and didn’t see any danger nearby. Catching her breath, she looked at Elessar. Determined they would survive this, their gazes met once more. Both seemed to be alright, and the Warders’ nod and tiny grin seemed to confirm that. Myrrhi turned around to see if her mare was close by somehow. “Must have been scared to death, poor thing. I hope we can find her soon enough, so we can get out of this bloody weather”, she thought. She turned towards the Warder, seeing him throw a blade into the bushes. Time seemed to slow down….

The Warder looked at her, shouted a warning at her and started running. A glimpse of metal caught her eye when another flash of lightning lit up the sky. Myrrhi froze. She didn’t know what to do. Then she saw Elessar, and the glimpse of metal was nowhere to be seen. The Warder fell down in front of her. The young Green looked down, and saw something sticking out of his back. Dropping to her knees, she panicked. “No. No, no, no… this isn’t happening.” Her voice trembled. She remembered her dream. Or… was it a prophecy? A bloodied knife... “What do I do, what do I do?” Trying to get her thoughts sorted, she took a deep breath. “Stay calm, or you’ll surely get him killed.” Looking back at the blade, she realized that this was beyond any of her healing skills. “And this is why I am not a Yellow”, she protested to herself, cursing. “I have to get him out of here, and fast.” The blood from the Warders’ wound was starting to paint a puddle red.

Myrrhi was relieved to find Stormbreaker close. She carefully took the reins and patted the horse on the head. “I need your help, please come with me.” The horse obeyed and followed her. Concentrating on weaves of Air, Myrrhi carefully lifted Elessar onto the horse's’ back. She wouldn’t have been able to lift him, even if she tried, and she could have made his injury worse. If that was even possible. Thankful for the rain dying down, she covered the Warders’ injury with pieces of cloth she cut from one of the brigands’ cloaks, the cleanest one she could find. “Let’s get going, shall we. But careful, we both need him alive, alright?”, the Aes Sedai  said to the horse.

Trying not to go too fast, the young Green hoped to find a shelter soon. Shelter, and aid. Bandits never went far from villages, or so she hoped. The wind started to die down as well, and the unnatural storm seemed to had passed. A raven called from a tree next to her. It startled Myrrhi, and she threw a glare at the bird. “No, you can’t have him!”, she screamed towards it. The raven, then, flew away, cawing in a near mocking fashion. The Aes Sedai stared as the bird flew off, and nearly stumbled due to a hole in the road. “Argh, darn it. Pay attention, silly girl,” she told herself.

After a few hours, which felt like an eternity, she noticed smoke from behind the trees. Smoke… chimneys, perhaps? “Come on, boy. We got to hurry, we’re close now.” Urging Stormbreaker on, she was relieved that she had been right. With the shaggy looking inn in sight, her spirit lifted. When they came close, she saw someone coming out of the building. She started screaming: “Hey! Over here! He needs help!” The startled man looked in their direction, turned his head towards the stable and shouted something she couldn’t understand, and came running for her. Leaning in to Elessar, she whispered “We’re safe, we’ll get help here, and you’ll be good to go in no time at all. Stay strong!” 

“What happened to you, young Lady?”, the man asked, not recognizing the Aes Sedai standing in front of him. “We were attacked on the road, during the storm. This Warder got the worst of it.” The man nearly jumped back. “Warde… Forgive me, Aes Sedai, I didn’t mean to be rude.” “You are forgiven, dear sir. But he needs to get inside, also I would like to meet your healer or the person who serves as such in this area." She made a small pause. "I'd be most pleased if someone could send word to the White Tower. Tell them Myrrhi Sedai needs assistance.” “Yes, m’lady”, the man said, and bowed. “Garain, go fetch the healer, and tell her to hurry”, he ordered a stableboy. Without questions asked, the boy ran off. “Good”, Myrrhi thought. “If he is on foot, their healer is not far.” The Warder was slowly helped off the horse, and into the back room of the Inn. It wasn’t worth taking the risk of carrying him upstairs with a blade in the back. There were few people in the Inn, for which the Aes Sedai was very grateful. No need to draw any further unwanted attention to them.

Within a short time, the boy called Garain returned with a middle aged woman. “Ok boy, now take our fastest horse and to go to Tower. Here, take this piece of parchment, and  be one your way.” On the parchment, Myrrhi had written a request for aid. It would be more believable than just a boy knocking on the door of the Tower. The woman calmly walked into the room. Nearly as calm as a Sister, Myrrhi noticed. “I’m Lisin, let me look at your Warder, please.” “This way,” she said, inviting the woman to follow her. “I will do what I can, Aes Sedai,” Lisin replied. Myrrhi stayed silent not wanting to comment on her poor healing skills. Lisin advanced towards the laying Gaidin. She took away the crude bandages and looked at Myrrhi. “I suggest you get some rest, my Lady. Oren, maybe you could show the Aes Sedai a room where she could clean herself and rest for a while?


The man who helped carry Elessar in obeyed Lisin without hesitating. “Yes, of course,” he said, and turned to Myrrhi. “Please, follow me, Aes Sedai. I have a good room for you.” The Green Sister didn’t resist even if she wanted to claim loudly that she was in no need of rest. She didn't want to look weak but she didn't want to look childish either. "I'll wash my hands and see what I will do afterwards," she told herself. "No need to start a fight." She knew Elessar would be looked after and was feeling her strength flowing away from her. When they reached the room, she turned to Oren. “If there’s any news about Elessar Gaidin, please, let me know. You needn’t worry to disturb, I will not mind.” “As you wish, Aes Sedai,”, the man bowed, and left.


Myrrhi locked the door behind her. No more surprises. “That’s a fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into”, she thought. “If only they had rested somewhere, seen the storm coming sooner… if only…” She had a hard time keeping her emotions at bay. “Oh Elessar…. I hope you’ll be alright.” A flash of memory came to her. The Bloodied Knife. The Raven…. “It was foretold. Wasn’t it?” She couldn’t think about that now, took off her riding boots and let herself drop onto the bed. Sleep overcame her, and this time, no nightmares were haunting her.


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.. Lost in Confusion, Blackness and Hallucinations  ..



Elessar stumbled in and out of conciousness, lost in Confusion, Blackness and feverish Hallucinations, as he was carried away from the storm-filled woodlands.


Darkness enveloped him, a numbness of body and mind, and he was for part of the journey thereby spared the deep pain in his dangerously injured back. At other times the pain streamed through his back and spread through his entire upper body until he blacked out again.


Half-aware, Elessar mumbled almost incoherently, his mind often slipping into a world of confusing hallucinations.



He was back with Leandreen again..


..and he looked at her, staring deeply into her so familiar Emerald Green eyes as she smiled back at him from atop her dark brown horse among the tall trees..


“We will soon be there, Elessar”, said the fiery haired Aes Sedai confidently in her passionate and musical voice. “We will get him before he escapes..”


The Warder looked at her and his eyes showed his confusion. “What…” he muttered softly.


“He is in the next village”, she added. “Soon he will be in our hands.”


“Who..” he mumbled confused, trying to understand what she was saying.


Her smile widened, as if she understood his doubt.



Sunlight flashed in his eyes - and he caught his breath.



Closing his eyes for a moment, his head buzzing of a sudden, a tingling in his hands, he felt cold fear running down his back.


Opening his eyes again, he saw empty stretches of land around him. Hillsides in the distance. The forest of before was gone and so was Leandreen. Looking down from the horses’ back he saw someone.. who? .. lay on the ground a few yards away and then his eyes widened.


He recognized the figure. Blood seeped from its back in red rivulets..


It was himself.




A dark cloud descended on his mind.. and he screamed as he fell onto the ground.. into the ground.. pulled downwards until he could no longer breathe..


Neverending Darkness..



He awoke from a dream..


..Or was this the dream? A twisted dream?


Thunder crashed. Lightening flared.


But he could not tell whether it was just in his mind.


Where am I..? he thought confusedly. Leandreen.. where..?


Illuminated before him..shrouded by dark mists.. was the contours of a body..




Silence crashed through him.


All sound disappeared.


It can’t be..


As he watched spellbound, the mist slowly turned into flames.. with yellow sparks which flew toward the black heavens. Focusing his bewildered eyes, holding his breath, he slowly was able to make out a funeral pyre burning bright. His face brightened at the way the pyre lit up the darkness, as if in defiance of the shadow of the night, but then he saw who lay there on the pyre - and sadness entered his soul.





A whisper in his mind screamed confusion.. but he hushed it down..


Despite the intensity of the flames he could see her clearly, almost as if she floated a few inches above the pyre, untouched by heat or flame.


Oh Myrrhi!


Something made him look more closely.. and now he saw that it was not Myrrhi, it was Leandreen..




Yes, it was her. How could he have mistaken her!?


He ran his hand through his short dark hair, wondering at his constant confusion.


Were those eyes blue? Or brown perhaps?


Why brown? Where had he seen brown eyes..


His thoughts wandered.. but then he focused again on the woman.


The dead woman.


She looked so regal laying there, so serene, her Emerald eyes closed and her fiery red hair embracing her so familiar Aes Sedai face, ready for the final journey..



Elessar clenched his fists, ever so slowly, as if to crush the anger and the pain he now felt in his soul at Leandreen’s death..


Leandreen is..dead?


Another confused thought.




He shook his head, almost in denial.


.. but then a solitary tear streamed down his cheek..



Looking down at his Bondholder, he blinked as he saw the dead woman’s features.



They were not those of Leandreen.


Myrrhi lay there..




He felt her pain.


Or was it his own pain?


He could not tell.


He now heard voices as if from far away..


Someone calling him..


Calling his name.





Shaking his head, lost in constant hallucinations, he closed his eyes.


Why are you dead, Myrrhi!? Did I fail you too?



Loss and Despair.



Speak to me, please!


Then, opening his eyes again slowly, he gasped!


The dead woman’s eyes opened!


They were Leandreen’s!


The Emerald orbs in her face shone with an inner fire.



A Fire of Judgement.



Meeting his eyes harshly, she said condemningly: “My Gaidin: how could you fail me?!”





His heart stopped!






Are you safe..!?


His delirious thoughts tumbled over one another.


Talk to me!


Thunder crashed again..


.. as his body and soul went rigid..



Time passed in the real world, but for Elessar his life existed in moments.



Seconds or an Eternity.



It mattered not.


Blackness and awareness.


Life and Death.


Pain. Sound. Voices.






More voices.


Are you there..!?


Heat. Cold. Shivering.



-His fever increasing.-



Thunder in his mind.



..And then-


- after an endless period of time-


-he tumbled relentlessly - carried by fateful whirlwinds as the poison from the knife flowed through him - into the darkest corners of unconciousness.




Edited by Elessar
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  • 2 weeks later...

The young woman scratched her head. She didn't know what to do. The healer had not yet arrived and something deep inside her told her that she had to act quickly. Elessar was feverish, sweat ran down his forehead. He was muttering incomprehensible words tossing and half turning in the bed. "Hallucinations!" she thought. At once, she made him roll on his side to check his back. The cut was looking bad. The flesh around it had swollen. It looked dark, almost black.


"No, no, no! It's poison. His wound would not have evolve that way in such a short time," she told herself. She had not expected it. "Why poison? Isn't it the weapon of assassins? Where these people sent after us specifically?" So many questions filled her mind. She decided not to lose any time trying to answer them. The Gaidin needed her help.


Looking around, she didn't see anything that might be of help. The only thing she found were a pitcher of water and a mug that one of the serving boys had brought in a hurry. She sniffed at the liquid hoping that it would have been mixed with some herbs but it hadn't. It was just plain water.


Not wanting to call for help,that would have shown to the occupants of the inn that she - an Aes Sedai - was helpless, she tried to think hard about the best course of action.


Of course, she could make him become more resistant with a bond, but the Warder had refused her. She had to respect his wish, at all cost. What would he think of her if he survived this ordeal?


Trying to empty her mind, she summoned all the lessons she had had about the Arts of healing. Slowly she opened herself to the One Power and wove threads of spirit, just to check on his condition. It would not be enough to give her all the details about what happened to the Gaidin's body but it would help her to have a general understanding of the situation. Indeed, it didn't take her long to discover how fast the poison was advancing in his already weakened body. Channeling further she tried to fight against it, just like she had been taught in class. It was not easy for the young Green. Destroying tiny particles of poison was a herculean task. The unfamiliar weaves demanded a lot of focus and energy.


Even if she managed to stop the poison progress for a while, she knew she would not be able to save her friend. At one point, she would be too tired to resist.


Images crept to her mind. Images of her past, Elessar's first smile in the Warder's yard, Elessar's face as she opened her eyes right after her accident in the river, their first combat training.


"Don't you dare dying on me!" she told him defiantly.


"You don't have the right!'.


Still keeping the poison at bay she sent another weave directly towards him. One that would wake him up for a little while. He would probably pay for it dearly, and be even more exhausted after their little chat but she needed to know what to do. She needed to know what he wanted and have him fight against the poison.


The weave did his work. She had not learned it to help out patients. She had learned it to wake up prisoners and interrogate them on a battlefield. it was the best way to get the information you needed and go forward with your battle plans if you didn't have a yellow sister at hand.


The Warder breathed it deeply as if he had been pulled out of the water. His face looked so gray and his eyes so sunken that Myrrhi started to feel guilty. It was too late to back down though. She had given him that new fire in his heart and she needed to make the best out of it.


Elessar looked around trying to make sense out of it. "What... Wha..!" As he clutched his head with his hands, the young woman heard her friend moan out of pain.


"We don't have much time," she told him putting her hands on him. "You have poisoned. I don't know what it is but it's moving. It's invading your body. That's the only thing I can tell... and... I ... I can't fight it".


The young woman felt tears forming in her eyes. "A healer is coming but it's taking too long. I am afraid he will come too late. Please, tell me what you want me to do!"


She didn't dare to mention the bond. She only hoped that after all his years as a fighter he would know what to do. He had been bonded to a Yellow Sister, maybe he knew tricks that would help her.


As she tried to get him talking she felt his body shivering. The new fire she had given him would not last long. She hoped it would not be too much for his body.

Edited by Chaelca
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