Disclaimers: I do not own Wheel of Time, neither the characters nor items related to it. Though the babies are mine! And any other character you don't recognise. They all, unfortunately, belong to Robert Jordan. The excerpt at the beginning is taken from the start of every Wheel of Time novel.
A/N: This is dedicated to all my faithful readers!
I Will Find You
EPILOGUE – Fragrance of Love
"The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, and Age yet to come, and Age long past, a wind rose in the Blight. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning."
There was a gentle calmness caressing the rolling hills, the snow-capped mountains and waning autumn trees. It was like the air itself knew what was happening and prepared itself for it. A fiery array of yellow, orange and red met the blue-purple sky dotted with white fluffy clouds, clashing in a beautiful display of the slumbering life before the great winter. Somewhere, a soft breeze set out from the north, seducing the leaves to join in a mystical dance across the landscape, giving inspiration to fantasies of dryads and elves to little ones.
Bound southward, the wind swept on carrying the traces of winter in the far north, bringing it ever closer to the regal mountains among the countless lakes and waters. It glided over the waters, ripples expanding from the shores and out into the deep end, disturbing gently the peaceful animal life within the deep. Bubbles broke the surface as the fish came up to sniff the air before disappearing again, by crickets singing the song among the sleeping water lilies and straws. From its nest in the undergrowth by the shore, near a weeping willow leaning over the water, rose a crane in search of food. An unfortunate fish was caught in its beak and brought back to the crane's mate.
Unhindered by this display of nature's way of life, the breeze rolled past the thousand waters and rose up over the hill, catching the drying grass in its grasp and ruffling it like green-yellow ripples up and over the ground. There was no ill content in the wind's ministrations, no disdainful emotion behind its mask. It was just a carefree breeze from the north, telling tales of the winter that was yet to come, enjoying the life it lived.
As it reached the top of the hill, the wind blew upwards, the valley opening up before it in a magnificent picture of life. The rolling hills covered in drooping willow trees, the tall regal mountains in the distance already carrying the first sign of white substance, and the grand lake at the base of the chain of mountains. Leaping forward and whistling softly, a tune it had known forever and yet never, the breeze surged down into the valley and over the landscape. Its destination was unclear, only taking the first turn it met or parting in two and going on, but there was a place it did want to visit.
At the shorelines of the grand lake, willows drooping lazily over the waters, lay a town. The houses were of no different shape than the wind had seen elsewhere in the immediate south as it every year travelled south until it met the sea that stretched on forever. Tall roofs with eaves almost reaching the ground, all of stone foundation and wooden walls. They were meant to last here in the mountains, the wind knew, so it held nothing back as it danced around the corners and took hold of the people's dresses and hats, sweeping them along as it flew over them.
The two-legs the wind encountered treated it with great respect, which pleased it. They knew what message it brought, what kind of change they had to expect. It was thrilled to feel them smell it, touch it and look where it came from. There were so few who did that further south. Grim faces was left in its wake as the wind swept on, the two-legged creatures returning to their business with the knowledge of what to do afterwards.
Giving the town another whistling tune, the breeze soared upwards as it met the mountains and careened back along the ridge stretching out beside the town. There, along the ridge new stone foundations were standing erect into the air. Many years ago, they had been smaller, more vulnerable to the wind as it met the rocks and pushed with all its might, but now they were stronger. The wind wondered if the life had finally returned to the stone walls, as it pushed and pushed, and yet nothing fell apart. Last time the wind did this routine had been different. The stones had fell easily then. Now they withstood, which pleased the breeze.
Full of life, the wind curved around the seven stone-peaks, happy with the resistance and knowing its message had been received. Now it fled to the mountains again, over the rolling hills and thousand waters, going further south than where it was.
And in its wake stood a woman upon a platform high above the ground, leaning the palm of her hands on the simple, but beautifully carved railing. The platform was connected to one of the stone foundations, stretching so far above the ground the woman could see all the way north to the Border. Dark tendrils of hair caught in the tail of the dancing wind, flowing around her as if she was laid down in water. Eyes were closed, but if she opened them, one could see they were as dark as her hair, full of life and passion, but still gentle in her moments.
The woman stood eerily still as the wind passed and continued south, her smooth lines ageless as she focused. It was like meditation, but of a different kind. Her hands were calm, her skin growing cold in her nightgown despite the heavy over-cloak she had put on, but she did not notice. She was trapped in the confinement of her mind, listening through an ancient ritual to the wind's tellings. What she heard worried her.
Blinking her eyes open, they fell immediately upon the line of mountains in the distance that composed the Border. It had been weeks since he went up there with his army. Weeks she had spent worrying, raging and weeping in the confinements of their apartments. Nothing had given her ease of mind, unless she count the two precious lives sleeping peacefully in their cots in the adjoining room. She wanted desperately to leave for the Border when no news had reached the town since he set out, but her advisor had kept her from going. The means she had used were too degrading for the woman to think about; it still filled her with an indescribable fury and humiliation.
Gritting her teeth, the woman reached up to catch her free hair in her hand, bringing it to the front of her chest. She always wore it down in private, at night, to remember him. He loved to stroke through the free strands and caress her scalp tantalizingly, even tease her sensitive skin with it; enough to make her burn with passion. It warmed her cheeks even now, just to think about it, but it was all she really had at the moment. Until he returned to her again.
At least this time she knew he would eventually return. Not like last year, when her future had been so utterly bleak and grey until he shockingly showed up again. The woman smiled at the memory, her fingers running through the soft dark hair. So much had happened in the two years since the Last Battle, or what was supposed to be the Last Battle, but in reality was only the beginning of the end for the Dark One and his minions. Even though she and the Lord Dragon Reborn had expelled the Dark One from this world on a permanent basis, the traces of him were lingering and raging havoc. Only in the past year they had fought three major battles, the first of which she had given birth to their two sons right afterwards.
And there had been so many things happening in-between the battles. So many happy occasions, not like the gruesome, harsh reality of bloody fights between Darkness and Light. Perrin's mysterious sleep broken and allowing him to awake; Faile's birth to a healthy baby girl that totally swept her father of his feet; the wedding in Ebou Dar between Mat and Tuon before they sailed away into the horizon to pursue another life in the distant world of Seanchan; the continuing improvement of Rand's eyesight and his children's adorable pudgy faces as they celebrated their second birthday with cream cake.
Then the Crowning ceremony.
She had been so happy at that time, even though her nerves were frayed from little sleep at night because of the twins and trepidation of not becoming a proper Queen. But he had calmed her fears, like always, and as they sat down beside each other and listened to the cheers ringing through the grand hall, he gave her a real smile, dimples and all. Of course she ruined it by crying. She still was embarrassed about that.
In the ancient tradition of Malkier, the highest-ranking people among the new-founded society came to the throne room where the new King would be elected. Even though his parents had sworn the oath of kings in his name, her husband refused to take the place unless the rods fell in his favour. Blue for al'Lan Mandragoran, son of late King al'Akir Mandragoran, and red for his rival, one of the noble men who'd survived the attacks when the Blight swallowed Malkier. Some of those highest-ranking men and women were generally opposed to the idea of undergoing such an election, but Lan was firm in his demand, so they obliged.
The rods were all blue. The people all knew the story of his brave parents, of him and his endeavours since he was brought to Fal Dara as a child. No one could ever believe there would be anyone else worthy of the responsibilities and honour of being King of Malkier.
Regarding the nobles, the woman reminded herself, she would have to see if the meeting with the newly elected Lord Alric of the House Feldragon could be pushed back an hour or so tomorrow. One of the servants had developed a worrisome fever and she wanted to check his progress tomorrow before the meeting. Though she was Queen, she just could not let go of her affinity for Healing and care for others. It had given her the unofficial title of "Queen el'Nynaeve the Gentle", which was a paradox in itself as her anger was now very well known throughout the Seven Towers (and the country).
She released a laugh before sobering up as she watched the darkening clouds in the distance. The wind had spoke of early winter this year, among other things. Caught up in business by the Border the King had not given a date for his return, and with the increased enemy activity reported by messengers, she was very worried. It tore her heart having to stay put here and take responsibility of the day-to-day activities that came with ruling a country. But he had asked her in earnest, the emotion in his eyes and those sent through their golden Bond capturing her in his inquiry. She had not dared to say no.
But the sense of danger was tightening its grip on her soul, making her unable to sleep and gain comfort from a dream world where there were no worries in their paradise. Only the other day her advisor had reprimanded her for staying up and out in the cold at night, almost threatening with further actions should she continue with this habit. The woman was sure Sharina would have someone check in on her tonight, but the ripples in her ward around the apartments spoke of no one entering the private dining chambers yet. Once it did, she would make sure whoever coming in would get a surprise they would never forget. She had grown up with Mat Cauthon after all.
Closing her eyes, Nynaeve found the small bundle of emotions at the back of her head that was Lan. It was almost like just a flutter in the distance, as far away as he had ever been all those times she had checked. Not that she could really pinpoint his location from just their Bond. Though, from what she could tell, he was sleeping; resting for another moment while the battles paused. Or it could be he was just embracing the Oneness, ko'di, and was completely enraptured in the moment of fighting. She hated not knowing. She wanted to feel the truth, but the only times she was able to, Lan was less than a mile away. Now there were only uncertainties.
From inside the rooms, beyond the glass doors leading to the platform, a whimper broke through the silence. She gave the distance and the Border a final look, sending whatever golden emotions she could through the Bond, and went inside. The room was spacey, tall under the roof by four-five metres and equipped in a true style of royal eccentricity. A mix of Malkieri and Two Rivers furniture, as well as Cairhien and Seanchan wall hangings (gifts from her other royal friends), filled the room with a feeling that made Nynaeve feel at home. It was comforting to see the new pair of chests Tam al'Thor had built and sent for her children, consisting of the few things they managed to find intact in her cottage as well as replaced items. From the Grey Tower came exquisite Sea Folk porcelain, compliments of the Amyrlin Seat, and one of the local carvers in Lacha had given a set of beautiful cribs for the new princes. Nynaeve had loved them at first sight.
Heading over to the pair of cribs in the next room, moving past the tall four-poster bed that was her and Lan's, the red hangings made of imported Shara satin, Nynaeve tugged the fistful of hair in her grasp out of old habit. The whimper grew stronger, so she hurried past the open door and to the crib standing furthest away from her. The fireplace gave off a warm, golden light, shadowing the carvings at the sides of the crib. A pattern of mystical animals was dancing around the crib, broken only by the tiny mark of a crane flying over a lake.
She smiled as she stepped up to the crib, taking in the sight with a delightful chuckle. After a year of motherhood, she had most certainly softened, Nynaeve thought as she reached a hand down to stroke the soft dark mop of hair on her firstborn son's head, her lungs releasing breath as she began to hum. As if realising she was there, the whimpering stopped completely, stunning her as it had once been quite difficult. After their father's abrupt leave for the Border, the twins had noticed his absence and given their complaint in full force at night. Tonight seemed to be an exception, though. The first in a fortnight.
"Shh," she spoke softly, gazing at the beautiful pudgy face of Maric. "Mama's here." The little boy turned in his sleep, his tiny fist coming up to grasp her finger. It was a strong grip, not that she needed reminding, as her hair had often been the victim of his strength. Maric would grow up to be strong, just like his father, Nynaeve knew. Though it both thrilled her and annoyed her that she wouldn't know at this point if any of her boys would inherit her temper. She hoped none of them would, although Jael had given sign of being quite the stubborn boy.
Calming Maric took less time than she expected, but as always she stood for a longer time just studying his features. It was mesmerising to gaze upon the fruits of a life she and Lan had led, always taking the breath out of her. She could stand for hours just watching the twins, but in her heart she knew Lan would stand even longer.
Fatherhood had quite changed him, as if he wasn't already changed from her marriage to him. He often surprised her with new revelations of his soul, of new and gentle actions that made her love him even more. Once she had heard him sing a lullaby to the twins, the words unknown but no less alluring to listen to. Lan hadn't noticed her standing in the doorway, or he had but never told her he knew, but Nynaeve did not keep up the night time eavesdropping. It was his moment of intimacy; he would share it with her in his own time, even if she were tempted to box his ears once in a while for being a dim-witted mudfoot.
Releasing the fist of Maric, she smiled and leaned down to kiss his forehead before stepping away and turning. The second crib was carved in the same way as the first, with the symbol of the crane dancing in the firelight and looking as if it was alive. Nynaeve looked down at her second darling boy, entering this world just a few minutes after his brother. It struck Nynaeve then, that she dearly hoped the two brothers would grow up without rivalry, although boys were known to compete against each other. She was worried that the crown, even with the King's Election ceremony, would be the cause of discord between them.
It is too early to get grey hairs over this matter, girl.
She knew the little voice was right, so she dropped the line of thought and returned to admire her baby boy. Jael, like Maric, also had dark hair and a strong grip, but where Maric's eyes were dark, his were blue like the clear sky as his father. And he had taken to suck his thumb at night lately, which was really quite adorable. Sharina insisted it was a habit they should nip in the bud, but Nynaeve thought it was good for their teeth. Needless to say, Nynaeve had lost the debate.
Gently, she reached down and pulled the thumb out of Jael's mouth. His lips did a frantic search for it, threatening to prove his lungs were working, until she stroked across his hair and made soft humming noises. Like Maric, he immediately quietened as the familiar action rolled past her lips. It was the lullaby Lan used to sing when he was here, the one she had eavesdropped upon and never mentioned to him. No wonder the twins hushed so easily. Both were their father's sons.
Breaking off when she knew Jael had calmed, Nynaeve withdrew from the crib and the room, leaving the door ajar and escaping to the royal four-poster bed. Calmness had fallen over her again, as it used to do after visiting her sons. She took off the over-cloak, her skin noticing the warmth creeping into it as she climbed into bed where the servants had put a bed-warming pan at the end. Burrowing herself in the covers, she turned to the empty side of the bed.
More than a year before, she had lain awake at night, her tears drying on her cheeks as she once again told herself she would never see her husband's face again. Now, it was easier to imagine Lan was lying next to her at night. When the darkness fell over the slumbering city, the real world gave way for dreams and fantasies, and while Lan was away, Nynaeve always woke clutching his pillow. It smelled of him, even after a fortnight, and it was heavenly. Nynaeve inhaled the scent of his covers and pillow, relishing in the intimacy she experienced as she smelled his fragrance lingering there. Like the fruits of their love, their sons, it gave her comfort and reassurance.
I know now, beloved, after an extremely horrible lesson, that whatever happens, you will find your way home. Always.
Nynaeve smiled into Lan's pillow, clutching it tighter in her arms. Finding the bundle of emotions at the back of her head, she sent every ounce of love and comfort she felt, and knew that far up in the north, he felt the same.
The wind came to the northern border at the waning light, the camp beginning to slumber in the uneasy peace that could be broken any moment. Up on the walls of stone, the guards were changing watch, those already done theirs going to fetch some sleep. The others stood alert at their post, gazing out on the vast darkness before them. Torches were lit, giving a bit of comfort in an otherwise comfortless world. A tense atmosphere lay over them, only growing heavier as the wind passed them. It would be an early winter this year.
Standing on top of one of the towers, the man ignored the blistering breeze as it caught hold of his cloak. He was dressed in thick, warm shirt and pants underneath the armour, though the cold managed to sneak into the creeks and joints of the armour. One of the men had offered his spare cloak to him earlier, but he had refused. The men did not need to go freezing when there were battles to fight. He was fully able to go back to his tent and pick up the cloth buried deep in his saddlebags.
He caught one end of the cloak as it flapped in the wind, holding it between his thumb and finger, caressing the soft cloth in remembrance. A ghost of a smile brushed his lips, memories of how he had acquired this cloak returning to him. It had been on a visit to his wife's old hometown, upon which they had gone to join the naming ceremony of the Lord and Lady's young baby daughter, born just a few weeks before. The ceremony resembled that of old Manetheren customs, mixed with a few elements from Saldaea's court. In his opinion, it was an honourable way to welcome a newborn into the world.
It had been likewise when his boy twins were named. Somehow his wife had learned of yet another long-lost Malkieri custom, this one involving the naming of a child. Applying for both royal and common, she had believed it would be the perfect way to mix both their heritages. Of course he agreed, but he doubted the gift giving between mother and father was really necessary. Not that he did not enjoy the sturdy Two Rivers hunting shoes he had been given, but he had somehow failed to realise the substance and importance of the gifts, which did not fall in his wife's good graces upon receiving a simple quill from him. He had been forced to sleep in a separate room for almost a fortnight.
But in the small prosperous town of Emond's Field, the naming ceremony had gone smoothly and to the joy of many. After the ceremony they stayed additional four days, experiencing the common life like it was only yesterday they had been in the town before a fateful Winter Night. During their stay, however, he had insisted on burying the final axe between him and his wife, making her take him to the cottage in Westwood. To take him to the place and time where she lived for a while after Tarmon Gai'don, hiding from the world and burrowing herself in sorrow.
The cottage had been snug, a little worn-down at the edges and still sporting the giant hole in the back where his wife had escaped the Trollocs. Creaking in the slow wind, the door almost fell off its hinges as they stepped through, in his arms the tiny body of their firstborn. His wife held the second boy, standing outside and not daring to go in. She did not want to see the place where she had experienced so much sorrow. But he forced her inside, dragging her gently into the darkness and persuading her to light a blue-white flame that cast a cold and bitter glow on the broken room.
He had realised then how much of a life she had made for herself. That even in her sorrow, she had tried to go on with life as it could become, preparing herself and the world on the arrival of her two baby boys. Broken remains of a crib, a couple of chests containing ripped clothing too small for either of them to fit into (meaning it were for the children), her herb collection, rugs and linen, reading chair and pots and pans, the one-man sized bed inside the small bedroom. That's what was left of her life there now. He was happy she was making a new one elsewhere.
Yet it hurt her, he saw, to see the place she had made her hope and life line ripped to pieces. In their new home in Lacha lay the few items that had not been broken, fetched that day she took the awful weed that eventually released them both. Silently turning the baby in her arms to him, she went into the bedroom, staring around it all before beginning to dig into the shredded mattress. After a little while, drying her cheeks from wetness, she returned with something wrapped in cloth. He was refused when asking to see it, only gestured to follow outside and into the woods.
She took him to her special spot on top of the hill, where she used to watch the sun rise in the morning. It was magnificent, holding such beauty he couldn't express with words, but awarded his wife with a smile and guiding her close. The two babies lay on top of his cloak, sleeping without a care in the world, breathing deeply. Feeling finally contented with himself, and she with herself, they gave each other a kiss in the sundown. A confirmation of letting go of the past. Once she withdrew, she leaned down and picked up the cloth he was not allowed to see before.
It was the cloak he was currently wearing. Sturdy brown wool, with a slight tint of green and grey, lined with silk trimmings. Holding her fragrance. She had made it herself, she said. One of the things she had held secret during the Battle and aftermath. It was for his name day. Or later, for when he returned. Though she forced herself to believe he would never return, the fact that this cloak had been with her until she was forced to flee Two Rivers, spoke of trust and hope of such magnitude that he dared not compare it.
Lan drew out of his thoughts, looking out on the vast dark plains before him. It would not be long before the snow came. He felt it in the wind. Just like the attacks by Trollocs had intensified in the past two weeks, the winter would fall strong and cold over the Northern border.
It had been quite sudden, the attacks. One day there was peace and quiet in the Seven Towers, enjoying watching his sons crawl over the carpet and Nynaeve's wonderful laughter, the next riding off to the north with reinforcements. The Ogier-built walls had held fast where the construction was complete, but there were still vulnerable unfinished gaps, like the one he stood next to right now. He had tried to send the Ogiers away from the battle, but they insisted on finishing the job. Nothing he said could convince them. They had too much respect for the nation Malkier to leave them a defenceless border.
Turning slightly away from the dark dead plains, Lan looked through a crenel in the wall and down upon the battlements below. Palisades built in strong, yet frighteningly young, Malkier wood were strung along the unfinished stone walls stretching to the next tower some hundred yards away. The Ogier had sung to the trees and made them sturdier against attacks, but experience had shown them enough pressure would eventually make the palisades collapse. They had had no choice, however, to use the less than two year old trees in Malkier as bringing trees from the Southern Borderlands would take too long. Yet another reason why the Ogier were so dedicated to finishing their work.
The task of building a strong wall along the Northern border of Malkier stretching across Tarwin's Gap from Mountains of Dhoom in the west and Spine of the World in the east should have commenced shortly after his Crowning ceremony. As it were, most agreed the Shadowspawn was likely to try invading the Westlands again after the Lord Dragon Reborn killed their Master, but many reasoned it weren't necessary as the Trolloc forces had been scraped thin during Tarmon Gai'don and its aftermath. Not to mention the resources were absolutely needed elsewhere as the Borderlands stumbled back on their feet and Malkier rose from ashes.
Lan had agreed with this hesitantly, persuaded by the people of Malkier, knowing the land needed everything it could scramble for building a society worthy of the growing masses as men and women sought back to their ancestors' lands. But at the back of his mind he knew that one day he would regret it. Nynaeve had tried her best to ease his worries, even proposed border outposts in the mountains on the other end of Tarwin's Gap. From there they would see a possible invasion, and the updated warning system of lighting pyres along the ridge of the gully would alert them in time to send troops out to face the Shadowspawn.
Today he both regretted and not his decision to wait with the construction of stone walls in Tarwin's Gap. The resources saved in the last year had been brought to good use and had even doubled with the founding of stone quarries and woodcutters at the base of Mountains of Dhoom. The Malkieri people had strived, the society had grown and the living standards had risen considerably since the early foundation of Lacha and the other settlements. This year's harvest had been a good and prosperous one. And then again, the blow had been swift and hard once the enemy attacks finally bore down on their doorstep.
After the first attacks had been staved off, a period of calm came and Lan didn't wait for it to pass until he ordered commencement of the postponed plan. And so the Malkieri started the slow process of raising stone walls, towers and battlements across the gully and after a while the Grey Tower had sent Aes Sedai with affinity for Earth to strengthen them. But when the second volley had come and seriously delayed the building process, Lan had been forced to seek out help from other communities as well.
The most welcomed surprise had been the arrival of the Ogier builders some months ago and they had set to work immediately, spreading out across Tarwin's Gap and working towards the middle. Lan had sent all his men to cover the gaps where tall and sharp palisades had been raised, as well as protect the Ogier as they worked seemingly around the clock.
Below the Gate House where he stood, the outer walls stood high above the ground and bore obvious signs of being a work in progress. On the outside of the wall, darkness spread across the plains and dead grass, swallowing the land of the enemy as a last spite against their Master's demise. The inside, however, was spread in a soft light from torches and fires along the wall as the tall Ogiers hammered on rocks, sang lowly, or worked on the many finesses and parts of the battlements and towers. Groups of soldiers mingled around and among them, tense and swords at the ready as each listened for the warning bell from one of the bastions along the wall or the Gate House itself signalling enemy attack.
All that was left of the Northern defence were the walls between this tower and the second Gate tower currently being constructed about thirty yards away, and the two next bastions to the east. To encourage enemy concentration to one spot, as well as give the defenders an opportunity to ride out on the plains to fight with spears, the Ogier had insisted on building a large, strong gate in the middle of the gully. Thus forming the immensely large and towering complex of the Gate House on which Lan was currently standing on top of.
For the moment, everyone slept in either tents or inside the finished bastions and Gate towers, just within reach of the battlements and outside enemy archer range. Supplies and horses were stowed away in the larger barracks constructed along the inner wall. In the future there would be stables and smaller buildings for the supplies, but for now everything was operated according to what was available. All in all, the Northern defence lines were intimidating even in its construction, only weeks or months away from completetion depending on delays and enemy attacks.
However, Lan thought, they would have to finish before the snow fell, unless the Aes Sedai he had asked for came in time.
Lan tugged the cloak tighter -- the only sign the cold wind was affecting him -- and stepped away from the eastbound crenels towards the northern crenels. The darkness was bothering him, the unusual calm reminding him of a storm in the making. Had Nynaeve been here she would have told him whether a storm was coming in the near or far future, but his experience and sense of danger told him it was the former. The Shadowspawn had attacked again this morning; they would do so again very soon.
Lingering a moment longer on the memorable features of his beatuful wife, Lan's thoughts wandered to the little bundle of emotions at the back of his head. Just flutters, hints of what was going on in wee hours of the night down in the safety of the Seven Towers. Images of Nynaeve changed to his sons Maric and Jael, imagining what they looked like in their tiny cribs. It would be a lie to say Lan didn't experience a warm sensation in the depth of his being.
He turned towards the south for only a second, sending his golden love and emotions towards the people he was fighting to protect. Not just the Malkieri people as a whole, but most of all his little family now sleeping soundly in their beds. Hopefully. Unless one or both of the boys were keeping Nynaeve awake. Or her own worries.
Chuckling lowly at the likely situation, Lan turned back once more to the darkness, thoughts of happy days at the beach line of the Thousand Lakes mingling with a soldier's hardened alertness and worry for his comrades in arms. The night was still young and until morning broke just a flash of fire in the sky would be enough to signal the smell of blood.
Soon, he reckoned, very soon.
The wind caught hold of his cloak and tugged at it, causing Lan's hand to shoot out and bring it within grasp again. A sweet fragrance drifted through his nostrils as the sturdy fabric swept past his face. Lan smiled in the darkness, looking out into the unknown, tense as a warrior waiting to spring. Seasoned Borderlanders read the wind as channelers Listened to it. The wind had come from the south, danced around the mountain tops of Arafel and the Seven Towers, played at the willows by the Thousand Lakes and eventually journeyed further north.
Nynaeve's fragrance was on the wind. Comforting, enticing, telling stories of her hair dancing around a beautiful face as she let it down to its full length. Just as he loved it.
Suddenly the sky lit as balls of fire shot through the gully from the outposts in the mountains.
Lan looked sideways and saw how the towers along the walls lit up from the warning pyres, the sound of bells clinging in the near and distant area causing men to shout out and armour catching the light of torches in their gleaming steel. He cast one studying glance at the vast darkness stretching beyond the walls to the north, knowing his men were just waiting for the order to fire a few volleys of red-hot enflamed arrows across it to seek out the enemy's position. Hand on sword hilt, Lan turned and went towards the ladder leading down into the Gate House. He spared another southward glance, to where he knew the Seven Towers resided among mountains and a thousand lakes.
I'm coming home soon, my heart. No matter what, I will find the way. Always.
(T R U L Y) T H E E N D
A/N: Although I have technically marked this story as 'completed', I never felt it was truly finished. I always had an epilogue resting at the back of my mind, and here it is, after many years. Thank you, thank you so much to everyone who has read, reviewed, and favourited this story! I do not think words can adequately describe the pleasure and joy I've experienced, and continue to experience, all these years whenever a little positive message arrives in my inbox concering "I Will Find You", or when I read the story stats. It's utterly incredible how so many have embraced this story! I never believed it would be so popular! So thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for those of you who have followed me from the tantalising beginning (the grammar mistakes and bad plotting of "Nynaeve's Decision") through the discontinued rewrite (marginally better "Nynaeve's Decision Rewritten") and to this final installment of my little AU take on the WoT universe. This epilogue is dedicated to you!