Wheels upon Wheels
Chapter 6 : The freedom of Logain
Disclaimer : Wheel of Time belongs to Robert Jordan, and no one else. This story may not be used for profit by anybody, not even me.
It was barely a minute after Shevat left through the doorframe that I rose up, intent on my saddlebags. No wobbly legs... Good. My head still hurt, but I could ignore it. It was better under Avendesora, though. I'll return there before stating to channel, for sure.
I took off my horse the few things for my world I had kept. Notepads and sheets of paper, with pens and pencils. I grabbed those and made my way back to where I was, under the Tree of Life.
I then passed an hour remembering and noting everything pertaining accessing the Source for men. I remembered how women did it, too, remembered doing it that way, but that would be useless for me now. I could only channel Saidin now.
I then retranscribed my notes in a more readable format. My notes tended to be jumbled things. I intended on using these notes to teach others, later.
Making these had another benefit. It made all my memories of reaching Saidin leap forward, to the forefront of my mind. At that point, my headache was barely a buzz in the back of my brain, and I had been waiting for that.
It had taken a lot of my willpower not to try to reach for the Source the second Shevat was gone, but my caution dictated that trying with a headache might be more than counterproductive. Now though...
I put in practice the mental exercices I had just written about, trying to empty myself the way male Aes Sedai were taught during the Age of Legends. It was difficult, but I eventually managed,and at the right time, the one I knew to be right. I reached for the Source.
I held it for a second, maybe, until I dropped it from shock. But that was enough.
Gods ! It felt... felt like... It was indescribable. I understood at that instant why those stilled died, the simple fact that I hadn't know that feeling before made the rest of my life seem empty. It was pleasure and strength and joy and energy and...
And the taint. I had something to described that. It flashed to me at that instant, straight from one of my favorite movies : 'crawled to freedom through five-hundred yards of shit smelling foulness I can't even imagine...' That felt right, even if barely. That was the taint.
The worst thing was that, even with that foul thing, I had to stab myself with my nails to kept me from trying again. I had never taken drugs, but I guessed that was how an addict felt. Knew how sick it was making him, yet couldn't wait for more, even if it killed him.
I did try again, though, as long as I could. I try till I could hold it inside, and not be swept away. As long as it took for me to be in total control. I shattered the void whenever I was getting out of control, emptying the power out of me into the air. The results were varied.
Sometimes the very air took fire for a instant, another a whirlwind cut up a few branches of Avendesora. I shook Rhuidean more than once, but in the end, I managed to get in control, still holding the source yet not overwhelmed. I just held it.
I hadn't thought of what to channel, and when I did a hundred memories assaulted me, wave after wave of weaves I remembered.
I had no choice but to sort through them, as half were female in nature. One struck out quickly.
It had been barely a thought, but it made memories of making heartstone surge in my mind, above all the others. Memories of making different kinds of the stuff. 'Different kinds ? I didn't know that.' It took me a while for me to notice that small differences in the weaves... I guessed they accounted for different colors.
I built the weave and used it many times. The first three failed, the stones I used crumbling to dust. It took me thirty minutes between each of those, to have control of the Source. The next one succeded as did all those that followed. It seemed that the capacity for power was similar to the talent : Like Rand, I only needed to do a weave once prefectly to repeat it perfectly afterwards. I was soon surrounded my cuendillar stones.
I then tried to twist that weave, to try for another color. It took two tries, but I added another color of heartstone to my repertoire.
I then ate and slept on my successes, as working the One Power had made me hungry and tired, and my last meal seemed years ago. I don't know how long I slept.
I woke up with Shevat still missing, and immediately got back to channeling pratice. I first cycled through all the colors of cuendillar before eating, then, during breakfast, started wondering.
Did I have the same strength as Rand, or was I different ? I had said 'as strong as the Dragon Reborn'. Tests had to be made.
And test I did, starting with the weaves I knew he used most. Traveling came easily, though I didn't go farther then the other side of the city, but Rand's second most used weave, Balefire, refused to form.
It wasn't that I didn't know how it was made. The War of Power in my mind gave me many exemples, most of them gruesome, but it just wouldn't form. Unexpected and potential disruptive, that.
I kept trying for more than an hour before giving up, having, on my last try, burned my hands. I'd have to use something else against the Forsaken. Bad, that.
And it wasn't the only weave I couldn't form that day. Most more than basic offensive weaves, like the lightning weave Rand would use in Tear or an attack weave from the Age of Legends called Blossoms of Fire, just refused to be. I could toss fireballs like I wanted, or lightning the same way, but difficultly any more than that.
I had dined and eaten supper while I was trying that, and, by the middle of the next day, found myself with no more weaves to test. It wasn't that I had tested everything I remembered. No. It was that most weaves needed something to test it on. Compulsion, Healing, Weather... There were a lot of weaves like that.
I had found out one of my strengths, though. Warding. I had memories of thousand of differents wards in my mind, and I could cast them better, bigger and faster than anything I remembered from the previous Age. They formed easily, as easily as did the weaves for cuendillar.
It was then I first turned towards the Ter'angreal field.
Rhuidean was a sanctuary for objects of the Power dating from the Second Age, as all those in the hands of the Aiel were here. I remembered making some of these : That chair was a binding chair, kind of like an oath rod for men. A few Angreals here and there. The redstone doorway, too. But others were alien to me, either because of memories I had forgotten, or because they had been made after the Sealing of the Bore.
I walked toward one of the ones I did not know about. And gasped as soon as I touched it. I knew, twirling the specified bracelet in my hand, what it did. A compulsion, making one who would wear it unable to do violence. It was like I could feel the weave inside the material.
That must have been one of the talents I received from my bargain with the foxes. I glanced at the doorway. Shevat was still inside.
Focusing on the bracelet, I realized that I probaly would be able to replicate this Ter'angreal easily. I channeled Earth on a whim, making a crude bracelet out of the stones on the ground, then twisted it, imprinting the weave inside the material. Done.
I looked back at the original to realize I had made a mistake. A simple bad strand. I could probably fix that.
I twisted again, trying to realign the weave correctly. It just... Unfolded, in my hands. The stone bracelet fell into many pieces, at my feet. Oops.
My second try was more succesful. I donned my newly-made bracelet, and test it, to find it did exactly what I had seen : I was unable to cut up my skin with a knife. It aslo did something I had hadn't realized : I was unable to remove it.
I now realized the different twist of the weave inside, an extra compulsion against removal. I tried pushing, pulling... My hand would lose all it's strength as soon as I thought about removing it.
I ended up having to do the same thing as I did with the flawed bracelet. I twisted the weave it contained, using the power, and it crumbled like the preceding one. A waste, but that knowledge might be useful, one day.
I continued making Ter'angreal, specifically compulsion related ones. I'd need a way to find out liars, if I wanted to hunt the Black Ajah.
I was still making ter'angreals when Shevat came out. He didn't fly out like me but walked out of his own power. And his walk... It was different, smother, more fluid.
He quickly noticed my presence and sat down beside me. He had a smile of his face, and seemed more relaxed than I ever seen him.
I released the source.
"Thanks." Thanks for... Oh, ok.
"No problem." He gave me a weird look, at which time I realized that he hadn't understood what I meant by that. "I mean, glad you got what you wanted."
"You want to know ?"
"If you want to tell." I was burning with curiosity, though
"First," he smiled, rising, "The skill with the blade of the greatest swordmaster." He then flowed from stance to stance, with a fluiditiy I envied. It was a dance, all right.
"Second," he stopped, and a minute later Saidin was in his grasp. I could tell. "A way to cure the effects of the taint." The weave he spun, right in front of me, was a tapestry of intricate difficulty in three dimensions. I sat unmoving as he laid it on me.
The effect were subtle, but I noticed them. Like a soapy rag cleaning the soul, the effects of my recent channeling, that foul taste lingering, was gone. I looked at him, eyes wide, unbelieving.
"Third, " His smile was more pronounced, now, "I cannot be cut from the the source."
"No way." There was a limit to what I could believe.
His smile became a smirk. "Go ahead. Try." He had noticed I held the Source before, then.
I did, taking a minute to reach the source, then pooling all the power I know I could handle and sending it, like an axe, at his link to the source.
An inch from his link, my axe of Power dissolved on his own. I knew I was more powerful than Shevat, even if I didn't know by how much. He could probably beat me, now.
"Seems you got a good deal, too." I realized, also, why he seemed more relaxed. A way against the taint, a way against stilling, and something against warriors or soldiers. He was a powerhouse, now. And I hadn't even started teaching him !
"And you ?"
Truth deserves truth, so I explained everything I knew from what I got in the doorframe. I showed him a few weaves, mainly the most used ones, like binding with air and shielding. I ended up by handing his one of the ter'angreal I had just made. It was a variation on the bracelet, except that it forced the wearer to answer fully and truthfully all questions demanded. And, unlike the original ter'angreal, this one could be removed, but only by the person who had put it.
I also demonstrated my ability at destroying ter'angreals, breaking one of my prototypes (one of the tries at a different compulsion) right before his eyes.
We then ate supper, with me discussing our plans. Hopefully Logain would not be in Tar Valon yet, else it would be a very bloody battle getting in. Shevat mostly listened, only adding a few words here and there.
As soon as we were packed, though, I opened a doorway, one we could use to skim to Caemlyn.
Shevat was surprised at the hole in the air. He had seen the weave, though. "What in the Creator's name is that ?"
"A shortcut." I simply answered, leading my horse through. The former thief, to his credit, wasted no time in following.
We stepped out a short while later in the burned-out alley, site of our battle against the Andorian Thief Guild. It was the only place in Caemlyn I could thing as being empty, and where we could step out with being seen. There were signs of more recent use, though.
I let a stunned Shevat lead me back to the White Queen. Once we steeped out of the alleyways, I quickly realized I had miscalculated.
The streets were packed to the brim with people, so much that some even ventured in the alleys to have some space. Everyone with a weapon had it covered with a a piece of cloth of some kind. Most were white, but some red was apparent.
I knew what it meant on the spot : the parade hadn't happened yet. A few words with the innkeeper, once we were back in his inn, confirmed it : Logain was coming to town tomorrow.
Shevat and I ended up having the inn's private sitting room for a chamber, as everything else was full to the brim. It even cost me a pretty penny. It did allow us peace, so to speak.
"So, how do we go at this ?" Shevat asked as soon as the diner was had asked for was finished.
"About Logain ?"
I thought a short while, looking for the best time to strike. "Probably the day after the parade, at night. We'll go in, grab him, and leave through a gateway."
"A thing like the one we used to come back to Caemlyn ?" he sounded eager.
"Could you teach that to me ?"
"Sure." I grabbed the Source (Only took a few seconds this time.) and opened a gateway to a place were I could use Saidin with any possible interruption. It was at one of the Portal Stones where we stayed a night, that one bordered by a river. To the east were the high peaks of the Spine of the Dragon.
We stayed there a few hours, during which I taught to Shevat everything that might be useful in the coming days. Traveling he picked up quickly, as he did healing. In that domain, he outshone my meager talent by large. I gave his the sheets of paer containing my notes on grabbing the source, and we returned in Caemlyn in time for a good night's sleep.
The next day found me in the streets of Caemlyn, waiting with the population for the parade. I would need to be able to recognize Logain, after all.
I stood on a barrel, peering over the crowds, when the Aes Sedai started to appear. I disliked most of them on the spot. Most were strutting, riding along as if the attention they had was owed to them. Like a parade like this one was the least the world could do for them. Despicable.
Some didn't look that bad, though. Some stared ahead like the parade was something annoying, which I could understand since it was awfully loud. Some glanced at Logain out of the corners of their eyes, wary.
And Logain. I remembered the books saying he looked like a king. It was something like that. It was as if he wasn't defeated, as if the parade was in his honor as much as else.
He was wary, too. Even more than the Aes Sedai. So wary that, if you'd have given him one of those color-shifting cloaks, you'd have believed he was a warder even in that cage.
Logain suddenly turned his head, and then started laughing. And not any kind of laughter, Jinnai-type laughter. Laughter like your ennemy had just given you the victory while trying the exact opposite.
I looked the same way he did, peering at the crowds, until my eyes rested on a man sitting atop a wall.
I knew his description very well because of the books, but even with I would have know it was him. At the moment I saw him, it was as if a hook got caught in my soul, with a steel wire leading back to him. Ta'veren pulling Ta'veren. I had forgotten about his presence altogether.
He fell from the wall, but I barely glanced in his direction, ducking in the first alleyway I could find and Traveling to our training ground. I was raging inside.
Even there, I could still feel the binding between him and me. He surely hadn't noticed, but I had.
I grabbed the Source and hurled the biggest fireball I could, simply out of rage. I had planned everything I could, and now the biggest wrench had put all my plans in doubt.
It was a few hours before I returned to Caemlyn. Most of them I had spent destroying and restoring the countryside, but I managed to squeeze enough tests of Weather weaves to realize I was useless in that domain. I was still angry when I reached the inn room Shevat and I shared, but it was a cold anger now.
Shevat noticed it, and immediately asked questions, though mainly about the plan. I told him the plan when on, and that was that.
We both went to sleep late in the night, or early in the morning as it was. Preparations for the following day. I spent the time before bed building a new type of ter'angreal, one that kept a person from the Source, while Shevat seemed to be calming himself through the sword.
Thing were not going well
The only we both did alfter rising up the day after the parade was continue as we had been doing. I had three bracelets that would cut someone from the source, all unable to be removed by other than the hand that put them. Shevat was flowing through his forms.
We left the inn after most people were asleep. Everything we owned I had already moved to our training ground. We had decided that was going to be the place we would use as a base.
The Aes Sedai camp was a few miles out of Caemlyn, and it was well and truely midnight when we arrived. I weaved illusion on both of us, and we looked like members of the Tower Guards. That was how we walked in plain sight, yet unstopped.
The tent that held Logain was easy to spot. It was the most guarded one. Four warders stood in front, all like springs ready to jump. I weaved compulsion, four times, and these men were now oblivious to whoever would come close to them.
I nodded to Shevat and we both prepared shields, each of us handling three. If there were more those would be Shevat's to take care of, as would be our escape gate.
We stepped in between the warders and they didn't bat an eye. Good. We then stepped inside the tent.
Six Aes Sedai were sitting on benches, each of them stuck in his own thoughts. they didn't have time to blink before the shield were in place.
And then it all went to hell.
A loud bellow sounded, and the warders guarding the tent dashed inside. Luckily for us the warders were still under complusion and we were still invisible to them. The Aes sedai that followed wasn't, though.
I tied my shields instinctually (I was the first time I had done so) and slapped a shield on the newly-arrived Aes Sedai. A red, I think. Shevat, on his side, was trying to shake Logain awake.
"Doorway, quick !" I could see quite a few Aes Sedai outside, and if they linked, we were doomed.
The very air sliced, and a hole grew out of that slice. Shevat tossed a barely-awake Logain through the hole with Wind. I followed right after lifting walls of earth around the tent, just to buy us some time. Realizing I had forgotten something, I turned around, only the witness the portal closing behind Shevat. Damn.
Logain was awake now, and reaching for the source. I slapped a shield on him so fast even I was surprised, and bound him with Air.
"Now, you listen to me, Logain Ablar." I said, staring with anger at his face. He paled. I supposed I shouldn't be passing my anger at myself on him, but that was beyond me at that moment. "You're gonna sit here and hear us out, or I'll be skinning you alive."