Ebony Doll
by Millia

Summary: Crossroads of Twilight from Tuon's POV. What exactly made her come with Mat? And why is she always smiling that smile?

Disclaimer: Everything belongs to the large, ingenious head of Robert Jordan, and I am only a poor student passing the time I should be studying by writing this.

She had looked at every wall of the small wagon countless times; every lamp, bed, book, table, cup, piece of dust. Every overly decorated piece of furniture. She had even counted the planks of wood.

She was angry. And she was not accustomed to being ignored. The heir to the Seanchan empire had been rolled into a tapestry, thrown across a saddle, tossed into a tiny wagon, had her fingernails cut off, and thrust into an overly-large sack that some might think passed for a dress. She could feel her fingers, which felt awfully light, tapping the binding of the book sitting open on her lap. She had to work every second at keeping her composure about her, and continually dismiss thoughts of throwing open the door and marching up to someone and finishing the fight she had started nights ago—only with a slightly different ending; someone who, she was sure, had been avoiding her since he stuck her in here.

She frowned at the book in her lap, having read the past sentence at least twelve times without seeing anything. Her thoughts kept drifting, from her last time in Seanchan to her arrival at Ebou Dar to the night fleeing it.

She looked up and caught Selucia's eyes, and was comforted by the small smile offered. She was relieved that Selucia had come, as well; she would have felt lost otherwise. Selucia didn't quite look the same with the scarf wrapped around her head; she had been indignant when she was told to shave her head, and Tuon had had to placate her.

Setalle Anan was busy sewing, sitting on the small bed to the other side of Tuon. She had introduced herself to them, wearing a small smile and telling them that she was there to "guard" them. Her presence had also been a relief, providing conversation just when Tuon was about to give in to the temptation to throttle someone. Tuon often found herself wondering at Setalle's composure and bearing; she claimed to be a simple innkeeper, though she did admit she was not from Ebou Dar. She also apparently knew Mat Cauthon when he stayed at her inn before moving into the palace, although she didn't say any more about it or him. Tuon knew, though, that Setalle had had some part in helping Mat and the others leave Ebou Dar, though she had no idea how or why. It was also apparent that she was fond of Mat.

Currently, Tuon was unable to concentrate because her anger was finally getting the better of her, due to a certain story Setalle had told her. She had been beside herself with fury when she heard, but it had simmered into something worse, something seething and building up as each day passed. He completely avoided her, but he spread tales that she was a servant who was being punished for stealing? While it might have seemed a reasonable tale, she couldn't believe that he had absolutely no imagination to come up with something else. Furthermore, apparently he and Egeanin were lovers fleeing her husband. That didn't even merit a comment.

Frustratingly enough, she found that in the silence her thoughts continually turned to Mat Cauthon. She still did not know what to make of him, and the omens. It was the omens that brought her here, she told herself continually. He had to know something, too; after all, he was never planning to bring her along until he learned she was the Daughter of the Nine Moons. She could still remember the shock on his face. It had meant something to him, and from the dread that followed—which she somewhat resented—it meant nothing pleasant.
And he had claimed her as his wife . . . he obviously had no idea what Seanchan custom entailed. And he knew nothing about her own fortune she had heard, or the omens he carried. She wondered what he knew, what he had heard, and resolved to get to the bottom of it. That is, if he ever came by.

She heard voices outside, followed by footsteps up to the door of the miniscule wagon. Without even bothering to knock, the man she had just been thinking about walked in, as if summoned by her thoughts.

Originally posted: April 10, 2004