A/N- This has been edited, the first version was a little bit choppy and rushed for my liking. That's what happens when you just want to finish a chapter so you can get to bed. I've rarely been able to leave a chapter unfinished, it's annoying and feels wrong.
This is mainly for Ta'al, and those who aren't familiar with the WOT universe. Lews Therin is a voice that Rand hears in his head because he is partially mad. It's actually the voice of his previous past-life, who went mad as well and killed all of his family.
This story won't be as
explanatory as the last one. It would be best if most people had read
WOT to understand this. To those who were a fan of my HP stories,
think of this as trying to read an AU COS or whatever, without ever
reading the original. Almost impossible…if you do want explanations
for most of my things, my other story has most of them littered
Leaving the horses standing, he started toward the sul'dam and damane with Cadsuane and Nynaeve a little distance to either side of him. Logain, hand resting on his sword hilt as if that were his real weapon, strode along on the other side of Cadsuane, Narishma and Sandomere beyond Nynaeve. The small dark woman began walking toward them slowly, holding her pleated skirts up off the damp ground.
Abruptly, no more than ten paces away, she . . . flickered. For an instant, she was taller than most men. Garbed all in black, surprise on her face, and though she still wore the veil, her head was covered with short-cut wavy black hair. Only an instant before the small woman re- turned, her step faltering as she let her white skirts fall, but another flicker, and the tall dark woman stood there, her face twisted in fury behind the veil. He recognized that face, though he had never seen it before. Lews Therin had, and that was enough.
"Semirhage." he said in shock before he could stop the word, and suddenly everything seemed to happen at once. He reached for the Source and found Lews Therin clawing for it too.
of Dreams, Book 11, Robert Jordan)
Each of them jostled the other aside from reaching it, as Semirhage flicked her hand, and a brilliant bar of liquid fire erupted from it and sped towards Rand.
Semirhage watched calmly as the column of men approached her slowly. She lay cloaked beneath a mask of illusions, hidden by Saidar that no man could see. As the column got closer, she gestured for the damane and sul'dam to move. None of them knew who she truly was, and Semirhage waited impatiently, her nerves tingling and Saidar flowing through her, a tight grip around the power. Morridin had given her orders, but he did not know how much danger Semirhage was placing herself in. To let herself get captured…it was almost unthinkable. But Morridin had ordered her and the orders of the Great Lord only outranked him.
Suddenly Semirhage sensed a woman channeling, then two, and her mask of illusions wobbled. Surprise etched her every feature and buzzed her mind as she strained to keep the illusion up, before hammers of Saidar broke away the illusion. Rage and fury filled her as she drew herself up, raising a hand, and she stared into the eyes of the Dragon Reborn. Those eyes, which had never seen her before, were staring at her with a shocked recognition, and suddenly Semirhage felt very afraid as the gaze of Lews Therin stared back at her.
She channeled her Saidar as those steely gray eyes burned into her mind, and suddenly she threw aside any plans and plots. She had to destroy him, before he destroyed her! She thrust her hand out and a bar of balefire, gleaming liquid fire, seared the air as it burst from her palm.
Rand could not leap aside: Min stood right behind him. Frantically trying to seize Saidin, he could only watch as the balefire drew ever nearer. Suddenly Lews Therin gave up, a disgruntled and panicked roar echoing in Rand's head. He knew what balefire was as well. Rand raised his hand, but he knew that no shield or power could block balefire, and he dare not move. He channeled, his head swaying and dizzy and sickness pounding in his stomach. An identical bar of white-hot fire burst from his own palm, just as Semirhage's balefire struck him. Balefire met, and the world turned white and misty. Rand could distantly hear the sounds of battle, the ground exploding beneath damane and lightning erupting from cloudless skies. Tiny glowing motes flickered and surrounded him as both his balefire and Semirhage's balefire ran through him. The world faded and Rand could hear Min's anguished screams. In Caemlyn, Elayne suddenly gasped out loud and dropped her cup of goat's milk as the bond that she had formed with Rand snapped and withered, before disappearing. In the Aiel Waste, Aviendha suddenly stiffened and let out a scream of anguish as she clutched her head. Sorelia and Amys clamored around her as she fell to the ground, her head shaking dazedly. Perrin and Mat, fellow ta'veren, also felt the loss. The colours burst into their vision, mutlicoloured sparks surrounding their minds before fading into a deep blackness that made them shiver.
All Rand could feel was something burning and burning into him. His life flashed before his eyes, his moments of joy in his childhood, his anguish as he left the Two Rivers, his determination to do what he had to do to win, his stony coldness that had kept him sane during his journey. Like the Portal Stones, he suddenly heard a booming voice his head that reeked with smugness and triumph.
I HAVE WON AGAIN LEWS THERIN!
Rand could only treasure the love he felt for Aviendha, Min and Elayne as he felt himself die. It felt like an eternity, but was probably seconds, as he felt his body burn away. Suddenly he could feel disbelief and shock in the gigantic voice.
NO! WHAT IS THIS? NOT EVEN I CAN STEP OUT OF TIME!
Colours whirled in his mind; brilliant golden and red sparks that showered his vision. His mind whirled and he could have sworn that he felt a rushing wind as the darkness lifted, and a strong smell of trees and his childhood drifted into his scent as Rand finally shut down
Rand pounded his fist on his thigh. Snug in the farmhouse, with a fire and blankets, plenty of water and willowbark; he might have been willing to wait for daybreak before hitching Bela and taking Tam into the village. Here was no fire, no blankets, no cart, and no Bela. But those things were still back at the house. If he could not carry Tam to them, perhaps he could bring some of them, at least, to Tam. If the Trollocs were gone at all. They had to go sooner or later.
He looked at the hoe handle, and then dropped it. Instead he drew Tam's sword. The blade gleamed dully in the pale moonlight. The long hilt felt odd in his hand; the weight and heft were strange. He slashed at the air a few times before stopping with a sigh. Slashing at air was easy. If he had to do it against a Trolloc he was surely just as likely to run instead, or freeze stiff so he could not move at all until the Trolloc swung one of those odd swords and... Stop it! It's not helping anything!
As he started to rise, Tam caught his arm. "Where are you going?"
"We need the cart," he said gently. "And blankets." He was shocked at how easily he pulled his father's hand from his sleeve. "Rest, and I'll be back."
"Careful," Tam breathed.
He could not see Tam's face in the moonlight, but he could feel his eyes on him. "I will be." As careful as a mouse exploring a hawk's nest, he thought.
As silently as another shadow, he slid into the darkness. He thought of all the times he had played tag in the woods with his friends as children, stalking one another, straining not to be heard until he put a hand on someone's shoulder. Somehow he could not, make this seem the same.
Suddenly his vision burst into colour and he let out a loud grunt of pain as his mind bent and snapped. Sparks filled his vision as brilliant light, liquid-white and as hot as any fire, surrounded him. He managed to look down, feeling the searing heat eat away at his body, but no light burnt, no fire was present. Suddenly, he remembered. At once, his stance changed from prey to predator, and Rand raised his hand to prepare a counter-attack against Semirhage.
What is this? Lews Therin moaned in his head. The man was confused and bewildered, and as scared as Rand had ever felt him.
Rand ignored him and tried to seize Saidin. He failed the first time and could only feel confusion as he tired again, and again. Finally, he grasped it firmly and glanced around as liquid fire pounded into him. Strangely, the dizziness and sickness was gone, but Rand reared in horror as the filthy rancid taint burnt into his bones, filling his mouth with death and decay. Rotten carrion filled his nostrils and Rand swayed, almost losing his stomach on the ground. The Void wavered, but Rand held Saidin firmly as he straightened.
The Wheel, the Great Wheel…Infinity, ever-lasting, Lews Therin muttered. He fell silent as Rand recognized the farmhouse where he had grown up, just beyond some trees. The moon shone brightly as Rand stared at the sword in his hand and then down at himself. Light! What was happening? He could recognize the brown pants and shirt he wore as what he had worn when he was years younger! And the sword…that had been destroyed long ago! He swiveled his head and spotted Tam lying in the brushes, his eyes closed and breathing deeply, and he could only stare in shock. He remembered this moment. This had been when he had first been dragged from the Two Rivers, when Trollocs had first invaded, when Tam had been stabbed.
There had been theories, experiments, in turning back the Wheel of Time. Lews Therin said suddenly. But no man or women would dare use balefire in such a careless manner…both Light and Shadow had forbidden it. Light, what have I done! What have we done?
Rand listened closely as Lews Therin wept softly, but the dead man had nothing more to say. Annoyed, Rand blocked him out as he patted down his body. The wound in both his sides, from Padan Fain's dagger and Ba'alzoman's staff, they were both gone. He had never felt better in his life, the constant weariness and aches and pains that he had gotten so used to that they had felt like a part of him, they were all gone. For a single minute, he breathed in deeply and just reveled in the feeling of being alive. He pushed away his shock and confusion and the thousands of questions in his mind and as he gazed upon the farmhouse, he recalled what happened next and his eyes glinted coldly. He strode back to Tam, not caring if anybody heard him. Let the Trollocs come, Rand would welcome them with fire and lightning. Tam was resting, his eyes closed, and Rand grimaced at the wound. He knew no healing weaves; he had never bothered to learn them. But…Moiraine was in the Two Rivers. His heart gave a twinge at the mention of the first women who had ever died because of him, because of his mistakes. But he would not make mistakes now. He channeled slightly, just a touch of spirit, and Tam immediately relaxed as he fell into a deep sleep. A silver and black portal sliced through the ground, spitting a tree in half, which fell to the ground with a loud crash. Beyond the portal, the town of Two Rivers was visible through the small patch of trees that Rand had chosen to form his portal. Some lights still glowed and occasionally one would dim and disappear. The Two Rivers was almost asleep. Rand heaved Tam up, mindful of the views that people had towards Saidin, and walked through the portal.
On the other side, Rand lifted a heavy Tam through the bushes. As he approached the town, he released Saidin and the portal merged with the darkness of the night as it disappeared. He made his way through some of the darkened houses, Tam in his arms, until he came to the Inn. Moiraine would be inside, she would be able to heal Tam. Climbing the steps, Rand shouldered his way through the door. Inside, Master al'Vere looked up from the wizened man he was talking to.
"Rand, what are you…?" He started, before he noticed the burden Rand was carrying. "Jorin, fetch the Wisdom! Now!" He boomed out. The man stopped talking and stared at the entrance. He quickly pushed past Rand and sprinted outside as Rand gently dropped his burden onto a couch.
"What happened boy?" Master al'Vere asked as he bustled around the couch, a faded blanket in his hand.
"Monsters," Rand uttered shortly. "With the eyes of humans, and the snouts of goats and ravens and bulls. They had curved swords- Tam called them Trollocs."
Master al'Vere went very still as he gazed at Rand with utter seriousness. "You had better not be jesting," He said softly.
Rand shook his head silently, just as the man and Nynaeve burst into the Inn.
"Where is he?" Nynaeve asked briskly and Master al'Vere gestured to the couch, standing back. Nynaeve wasted no time in any more talk and strode briskly through the room.
"Move Rand," She ordered curtly and Rand stood back as Nynaeve frowned, running her hands over the wound in Tam's side. She flinched as she inspected it, and took a small pouch of herbs she kept and applied them in the mangled flesh. She quickly bound it with a strip of white cloth, but her eyes were sad and her face white.
"What happened?" She demanded as she continued binding.
"A Trolloc stabbed him, just at my farm." Rand answered quietly. Nynaeve glared at him, but her sharp words died and she shifted uncomfortably at the hard and cold look in his eyes and swallowed. Certainty filled his gaze, and Nynaeve shivered as she glanced down.
"I've applied some herbs, but the wound is deep and probably infected. I will need to cut him open, there may be a chance that there may be something still in there." She informed him.
Rand nodded slowly. "Find Moiraine," He ordered as he turned from her and prepared to leave.
"What? Lady Moiraine?" Nynaeve asked incredulously. Her hand tugged on her long braid but Rand, who had stared down Ishmael, the demonic Forsaken, who had cut down Trollocs and Myrddraal and killed so many of the forsaken that he had lost count, easily brushed it aside and strode from the room.
Outside, Rand breathed in deeply as he stared at the sword in his hand. He had long ago reached the level of Blademaster, so he would try to defeat these Trollocs without revealing his power. Moiraine was still an Aes Sedai, no matter what quest she was on, and if she felt that he were a threat…Rand did not want to think of what she might try. He could easily defeat her in terms of skill and power…but could he lift a hand against the women who had died to save him? He thundered down the steps noisily, just a tall and bulky figure sprinted down the streets. Rand tensed, but relaxed as he recognized the armored figure as Lan.
Next to him, a petite woman was concentrating and as Rand made his way towards them, he could feel the goosebumps prickling up on his skin. Suddenly an orb of light surrounded her and the features of Moiraine, dark eyed and short, almost made Rand gasp with shock. Until that moment, Rand had not been sure that this was not a dream of sorts. Lan suddenly shifted and his hand gripped the hilt of his sword as Rand approached.
"It's me, Rand al'Thor." Rand said, watching Lan closely. Inside his head, Lews Therin was strangely silent about Moiraine. Perhaps he remembered her, or perhaps he was still numb over the events, but in any case the man retreated further into his head.
Lan stilled eyed in warily, but Moiraine frowned slightly, her eyes thoughtful.
"What are you doing here?" She murmured, but shook her head and glanced over her shoulder. "Get inside, danger is coming. There are…"
"Trollocs. I know," Rand interrupted and stepped forward closer. The sword in his hand gleamed and Moiraine glanced down at it, her eyes suddenly serious and speculative. "They attacked my father and I as we were going home. Tam beat them off, but he was stabbed."
Moiraine nodded slowly, her eyes flickering over the orb she held in her hands. "Are you not surprised about this?" She asked.
Rand shook his head. "I know a lot of things, Little Sister." He murmured, and as Moiraine frowned Rand inwardly winced. He had to watch his tongue now, even more than he usually did. Rand suddenly felt a vague rotting taste in his mouth and from behind Moiraine, a snarling figure leapt forward. Lan's sword flashed and a loud scream echoed throughout the streets as the still snarling figure died. Moiraine turned around and she raised her hand. Curling in her fingers, she drew back her hand and a fireball erupted as she hurled it through the streets. The flickering flames illuminated the houses around it and for an instance; dozens of dark and bulky creatures were illuminated from the shadows, before the fireball exploded with a loud roar on one of them, blowing the Trolloc apart.
"What is this?" Somebody demanded as one of the house doors opened, just as a building the other side of town exploded. Rand could feel the wave of heat from where he was standing as flames lit the air until it was like early morning. The Cauthon house burned brightly as men and women clamored from their homes. One of them screamed as the horde of Trollocs descended and for a moment there was chaos as Lan moved forward. His sword flashed as he cut down three in his path, while lightning suddenly struck from the cloudless night. Rand held his sword up as the Trolloc's broke past Lan and Moiraine and approached him. He slid into the forms with a practiced ease, his mind in the Void, and Hummingbird Sings became Slicing the Silk became River of the Rocks, and four Trolloc collapsed as Rand struck forward, his sword biting into throats and past their chain mail. Nearby, he saw old Cenn awkwardly wielding a pitchfork as he kept a Trolloc at bay, and two arrows whistled through the air, biting into another. The Two Rivers quickly became a war zone of men versus Trollocs, with Rand at the center of it. He lost sight of Lan and Moiraine, but lightning flashed through the air at times, and the ground rumbled slightly once. Guttural roars and snarls met desperate and angry yells. Rand wielded his sword just as much as he wielded Saidin. His blade bit deep into flesh while invisible blows of air struck at any Trolloc around him. Bodies were piled up against him in the tens, until there were no Trollocs left.
He was standing alone on an empty street, bodies littering the ground. Rand was relieved to find that no humans lay among the corpses, but he could hear the sounds of fighting in the next streets. He sprinted along and peered across a house at the back of a two-dozen or so Trollocs, which were battling against Lan and several Two Rivers men. Moiraine was nowhere in sight, but Rand saw lightning strike further ahead and a plan formed in his mind as it struck again. As it struck for a third time, Rand channeled Saidin, and with Moiraine's blast came a dozen of his own in quick succession. The ground rumbled and the air reeked of ozone as Trollocs died where they stood, burnt to crisps and hurled aside at the mighty blast. Rand stopped channeling, leaving only half-a-dozen Trollocs alive, and at that exact moment, Moiraine struck with her lightning again. Lan would think that those blasts had come from her, and he quickly jumped forward as Lan and the Two Rivers men charged forward. For a moment he glimpsed Mat with a quarterstaff and Perrin with his axe among the crowd, and the Trolloc's retreated right onto Rand's blade. Three died before they knew what hit them, and a fourth died when he tried to turn around. The last two were quick to succumb to the sword of the Malkier king. Behind him, seven Two Rivers men, Mat and Perrin included, muttered to each other as Rand approached them.
"Rand," Mat greeted, leaning slightly on his wooden quarterstaff. "Light, it's good to see you…and where did you get that?" He finished, his eyes glued to the blade Rand was holding.
"It's my father's." Rand said, his eyes on Lan, who was gazing at him with a new respect. "Come," The tall man said suddenly. "There are more Trollocs left. Will you join us shepherd? We could use a blade like yours."
Rand nodded and fell in beside Perrin and Mat. For two minutes, the group sprinted until they turned a corner, where the fiercest fighting was going on. From the roofs, Rand could see Ewin and others with longbows, arrows streaking into the air. Trollocs roared and snarled, spurred on by fear, and the men of Two Rivers met them with pitchforks and knives and rusty pikes. Moiraine was in the middle of the fighting; whirling around Trollocs and men, and a black-cloaked figure faced her. Fire spat from her staff and met dark shadows as the Myrddraal hissed angrily, its sword flicking wildly in the burning fires.
Lan surged forward, jumping for Moiraine, and his sword met that of the Myrddraal with a shower of blue sparks. The rest of the group joined their kinsmen and friends, and the Trollocs roared as they were pushed back. Bodies fell, none of them human, but Rand stayed back as Moiraine turned her attentions onto the bestial hordes and Lan was forced to fight two Trollocs simultaneously. The Myrddraal stood unattended and alone, and Rand smiled coldly as he stepped forward. He embraced Saidin and the Myrddraal jerked, it's head swiveling around, just as flows of air tightened around it. It flailed about as Rand dragged it to the shadows with his flows. Nobody had seen its capture, but the Trollocs started fighting more and more desperately as a surge of fear and panic flowed through them. Rand raised his sword and with a quick slice, the head of the Myrddraal bounced to the ground, its eyeless face showing shock. The Trollocs howled angrily and broke apart. Any sense of strategy that they had held was gone, and they were slaughtered in minutes as Lan pushed forward, Moiraine by his side. Fire spurted from Moiraine's staff as she hurled it at the retreating Trollocs, while Lan appeared to be in seven places at once, herding the Trolloc away from the houses and into the darkened woods. Rand just hovered over the dead body of the Myrddraal, his hand tightened around his sword. A boy, maybe his age, almost looked as if he would approach him as Two Rivers folk cheered and hollered in their victory, but the cold smile and the dark glint in Rand's eyes made him stay away.
As the sun came up, tendrils of smoke arose from blackened houses. Men milled around, some still carrying rusty pikes made generations ago, casting wary glances as if they expected the Dark One himself to leap from the shadows and strike them down. Other men and women, carted off Trolloc bodies to the giant bonfires, where they were thrown in without ceremony or regret. Rand was among them, helping Mat and Perrin lift a particularly heavy Trolloc clothed in bulky chain mail. Glazed eyes stared from a face frozen in mid-snarl. Mat grimaced at the sight of the monster, but Perrin moved steadily forward and strained to lift the Trolloc by its arm.
"Light Mat, it's already dead." Perrin muttered. The calmness had always surrounded the Blacksmith until they had left. Rand couldn't remember when Perrin had grown golden eyes, or when his growls of anger sounded like that of wolves. "Unless you would like me to get Kenley to help me…I'm sure he would be impressed,"
Mat grimaced at that, he had never liked Kenley, almost as much as he didn't like old Cenn. Grumbling, he moved forward and with Rand's help, the three of them lifted the bloodied body and dumped it into the cart.
"Rand," Perrin said as the three of them got back on the cart, which was packed with five dead Trollocs. "When did you get so good with a sword?"
Rand said nothing, but offered a small shrug. "Tam is a Blademaster," was all he said. Let them take it as they would, let them assume what they thought was obvious. Rand was right as Perrin nodded as if that explained everything, and Rand could only sit back. Even now, he was resorting to the Game, even in his home village, even when nobody knew who he was. But he would use his friends; he would do anything to keep himself from repeating the past mistakes.
You are dangerous. Lews Therin whispered. But so am I. Everybody I love, killed by hand! Light, why? I was proud, too proud…I thought I could fix what the creator started…pride killed my love…Light! Burn me and let me die!
Rand shook his head. "Shut up," He muttered angrily to himself.
"What?" Mat asked, a slightly hurt look appearing on his face. "I was just asking if you were alright."
Rand felt a flash of irritation, not for the first time, towards Lews Therin. Light, why couldn't he have gone back to where he had came from? The sickness, the rot had left him, but it seemed that the madness had lived on. "I wasn't talking to you," He muttered. "Just…thinking,"
Mat nodded slowly, casting a wary and concerned look at Rand as he herded the mare towards the large bonfire. Lan was directing the disposal of the bodies, and for a moment Rand observed the older man. He had always counted on Lan as a friend, a companion and a fellow warrior. They were alike in many ways, and Rand let a bitter smile twist his face. Or they were. Lan's face, while hard and chiseled from stone, was not as cold as Rand remembered; his eyes were not as dark with grief as they had been ever since Moiraine died. Even now, Rand felt a twinge of sadness at the mention of Moiraine.
"Are you going to sit there all day?" Mat asked Rand, and he blinked as he scrambled himself from his thoughts. Mat and Perrin were pulling one of the Trolloc bodies off the cart, with the help of Ewin Finngar and…was that Elam Dowtry? Light, it had been so long since he had been in the Two Rivers. He got off the cart and helped the struggling boys, they were just boys really, heave the Trolloc closer to the fire. Heat suffused the air, along with the smell of burnt flesh and Rand could feel his face grow hot, but he did not sweat. He merely ignored the temperature, a mind trick that all Aes Sedai and some soldiers knew, while the others around him gagged at the smell of burning Trolloc. With a grunt he pushed with all of his strength, together with Mat, Perrin, Ewin and Elam. The Trolloc went flying into the flames, and the slight smell of burning flesh just got fresher. Ewin went green and quickly walked away, and while Mat, Perrin and Elam went back to the cart for another one, Rand caught Lan's eye.
The older warrior nodded to him and walked over, his eyes always alert and his walk arrogant and bouncy. Rand knew that Lan could have his sword out in a flash and have killed three Trollocs within the first second. "It is a disgusting job, but it must be done." Lan said calmly.
"Better burning them than letting them rot out in the sun." Rand said, and Lan cocked his head at the cold look in Rand's eyes.
"You wielded the sword very well," Lan remarked quietly. His eyes flickered over the hilt sheathed at Rand's side and Rand knew that they spotted the carved heron. "I though it might have been a heron-mark blade. Only Blademasters, true swordsman of great skill, carry those blades. You said that your father gave it to you?"
Rand nodded silently.
"Strange, to find such a blade in a small village like this," Lan mused softly, his eyes watching Rand very carefully. "And the skill that you wielded, strange that a farmer would have that skill."
"Strange, but not impossible." Rand said wryly. So, Lan did not trust him? Some part of him was slightly saddened, some part would miss the tall and hard man as a friend, as a brother. "My father was a Companion of Illian, he served in the Whitecloak war and the two wars with Tear. He always said that a sword could come in handy, especially if you knew how to use it."
Lan nodded, his brows furrowed slightly. "I have a message for you, from Moiraine. She would ask that you meet her, along with your companions Mat and Perrin, in the Inn. She has some rather starling news that she needs to tell you."
Rand nodded. "I think I already know what it is," He said and turned around, aware of Lan's speculative gaze on his back.
"Light, what does an Aes Sedai want with us?" Mat muttered for what had to be the fifth time. Perrin flanked his side and barley rolled his eyes as together with Rand, they approached the Inn.
"I don't know Mat, that's why we're going to find out." Perrin answered, and Mat scowled in his direction.
Rand was silent, his face brooding and his thoughts wandering.
They have the nerve to call themselves Aes Sedai. Lews Therin grumbled in his head. They are half-trained children; girls who will never be complete without their male half. Their tricks are pitiful!
Yes, that is why the little girls overpowered us in Cairhien and shoved us into a crate. Rand snapped in annoyance, and Lews Therin bristled.
I was not…Mad, I must be mad. Talking back to the voices that talk to you…but madness is all that I deserve…oh Ilyena… Lews Therin faded away, his cries of grief just beginning to ring in Rand's head.
"What's happening?" Perrin asked, a little in wonder and a little in dread. Rand lifted his eyes and noticed that they had arrived at the Inn, where a crowd of angry villagers stood with torches and pitchforks. In the center, invisible winds blew back Moiraine's hair and her staff blazed with fire, her eyes dark and mysterious and her voice low and chilling. Rand could feel the goosebumps as Moiraine channeled Saidar, and she appeared to be as tall as a tree to everybody else. What had Lews Therin called it? Mirror of Mists?
"…Never again did Manetheren rise. Its soaring spires and splashing fountains became as a dream that slowly faded from the minds of its people. But they, and their children, and their children's children, held the land that was theirs. They held it when the long centuries had washed the why of it from their memories. They held it until, today, there is you. Weep for Manetheren. Weep for what is lost forever."
The fires on Moiraine's staff winked out, and she lowered it to her side as if it weighed a hundred pounds. For a long moment the moan of the wind was the only sound. Then Paet al'Caar shouldered past the Coplins.
"I don't know about your story," the long-jawed farmer said. "I'm no thorn to the Dark One's foot, nor ever likely to be, neither. But my Wil is walking because of you, and for that I am ashamed to be here. I don't know if you can forgive me, but whether you will or no, I'll be going. And for me, you can stay in Emond's Field as long as you like."
With a quick duck of his head, almost a bow, he pushed back through the crowd. Others began to mutter then, offering shamefaced penitence before they, too, slipped away one by one. The Coplins, sour-mouthed and scowling once more, looked at the faces around them and vanished into the night without a word. Bill Congar had disappeared even before his cousins.
Rand watched as the crowd dispersed, some throwing shameful looks at Moiraine, who merely stared impassively back at them. She caught sight of Rand, Mat and Perrin and her eyes flashed with something, maybe determination, as she approached them. Her dark eyes bore into Rand's head; eyes that had made him dance to her song long ago, eyes that appeared in his mind as a sign of his guilt, his failure. He fidgeted; avoiding her gaze and saw Perrin and Mat do the same thing for a different reason.
"So, you are the three." Moiraine said with an air of satisfaction. "I thought you might be."
"What are we?" Mat asked, and swallowed nervously as Moiraine smiled slowly.
"You are the three that the Shadow came for last night," Moiraine answered simply.
Mat flinched as if he had been struck and even the calm Perrin swayed on his feet.
"T-That's ridiculous!" Mat scoffed.
"Is it? Did you know that three houses were targeted specifically last night?" Moiraine asked idly. "The al'Thor farm, the Aybara farm and your house. Three targets among a chaotic raid that Trollocs took the time to attack first before having their fun."
"Is it that…that black-cloaked man?" Perrin asked hesitantly. "We all saw this man, with a black cloak on a horse. When he looked at us…it was as if he hated us with all of his being, that he would not rest until he had hunted us down and killed us."
"You saw a Myrddraal? When?"
"A Fade?" Mat spat out in shock. "But…they're twenty foot tall with fire for eyes and…" He trailed off as Moiraine shook her head.
"They are exaggerated stories made up by people who have never seen them before. But they are no less dangerous. If I had known…I would have bought a dozen sisters, even if I had to drag them by the scruff of their necks." Moiraine muttered to herself. "I wish I knew who had killed it last night, but in the chaos nobody seemed to see what happened, save that the Myrddraal lost its head."
"You want us to leave." Rand said bluntly, ignoring the way Moiraine's eyes washed over him as she mentioned the Myrddraal. oh, she was suspicious alright. Truth be told, he was getting tired of this conversation and acting like he did not know what was happening. "In case they come back for us, you want us to leave so that the Two Rivers is safe."
Moiraine eyed him thoughtfully as Mat and Perrin gaped at her. "Yes," She answered at last. "It would be best if we traveled to Tar Valon. I do not know why they shadow want you, thought I have a suspicion. In any case, what the Shadow wants is what I will keep out of its grips."
"I'll prepare my horse." Rand said abruptly and left, not noticing Mat and Perrin's eyes go wide with astonishment at his apparent acceptance, or Moiraine's eyes narrow in careful thought and speculation.
She is Aes Sedai. They are not to be trusted…but she might be trustworthy. She did kill Lanfear… Lews Therin muttered.
A single lantern, its shutters half closed, hung from a nail on a stall post, casting a dim light. Deep shadows swallowed most of the stalls. As Rand came through the doors from the stable yard, thirty minutes after his meeting with Moiraine, he did not fail to miss Egwene, hiding in the shadows. She looked strangely innocent, with her braid done up and her dark eyes fathomless and deep.
Aes Sedai! Lews Therin snarled, but he was confused.
No, not yet. Rand told him, as Egwene stepped from the shadows, her eyes narrowed at him.
"You're leaving, aren't you?" She asked softly. "Don't deny it, I heard you and Moiraine Sedai talking near the Inn."
Rand nodded and Egwene planted her hands on her hips. "And you weren't going to tell me?" She demanded, a slightly hurt tone in her voice.
Rand shook his head. "I saw you listening in Egwene," He explained. "You're coming with us, aren't you?"
Egwene dropped her mouth open in surprise, shock flooding her face. For a second, Rand relished the moment in making the stubborn and infuriating Aes Sedai…future Aes Sedai…be complete flabbergasted, just as Moiraine walked, Lan in front with his hand on his sword. Mat and Perrin trailed after him, and they all blinked at the sight of Egwene. Mat's lips curled up in a suggestive smile, but Rand walked past Egwene and saddled his mare.
"She's coming with us," He said.
Mat's lips quickly formed into a shocked and disbelieving look as Rand got on his horse and dulled out the background noises. He needed to form plans…the Forsaken were bound for the moment, but they would soon be free. But Rand had the advantage this time, he had knowledge and he knew how to use the Power just as well as they did. What should he do first? Firstly…he would stay with Moiraine until Shadar Logoth. Mat would never get the dagger, he would be careful about that. And Padan Fain…he would kill him as soon as he saw him. That was two problems out of the way…
"Rand, we're going!" Mat called out and Rand blinked, seeing that everybody was on a horse, including Egwene. His lips curled into a dangerous smile as he led his horse out of the stables, his mind abuzz.
A/N- Just to make sure, nobody has seen Rand channel.