A/N: Here's another update for those who read this story.
to my Beta, Tobang, for reading over this. It has been a while since
I've updated. Real life + School work + School Camp + potential
girlfriend Lack of time. I could explain it in terms of x and y,
using Pythagoras Theorem and Anti-differentiation, while graphing it
using cubic and vector plots…but I would barely understand
it, and I'm taking the damn class!
"Run!" Thom shouted as he jumped forward. His hands, blurring as if he were performing one of his many tricks, had one knife appear in each them. With a bouncy stride, unfit for a man such as he, Thom hurled himself forward, towards the Myrddraal, who stepped back in shock from the unexpected bold move. A flash of blue sleet lightning, rang threw the air as they collided, the impact making both of them tumble into the square. Mat, who didn't need to see anymore, fled, one hand in his clothes, reassuringly gripping a metal hilt laid with rubies. He was sprinting towards the Caemlyn road, trying to get away from Whitebridge as fast as he could.
At that same moment, Rand was hundreds of leagues away, where life died beneath the sweltering sun and massive dunes of yellow sand. There was no sign of civilization, or life in any direction. No plants grew beneath the grainy sand and the only thing that could be seen was a faint haze that shimmered as the sun beat down in sweltering proportions. Once this had been a seabed, where the famous port town of Shorelle had been built around, but three thousand years after the breaking, it had become a region of land known as the Waterless Sands, a place where no water existed, it was so difficult to live here that even the Aiel stayed away from it. In these sands, there was a metallic wreck that was half-buried beneath the harsh terrain. It was in remarkable condition after three thousand years, it had probably been built using the One Power. Rand supposed it was some type of boat, it had the vague hull outline of one, but it was gigantic, easily dwarfing any Sea Folk ship he had seen. There were large spaces that were big enough to hold several houses at least! Inside one of these darkened spaces, a small sparkling ball of pure white light shone, illuminating the lying figure of Rand, he was listening to Lews Therin recount one of his visits to Shorelle.
You should have seen Ilyena in a bathing suit! Lews Therin laughed in one of his saner moments. The blasted thing wouldn't fit, even when Renoll adjusted the size…she was furious! I almost thought she would lash out with the power, but she had better control than that. Still, she had a wicked tongue that could be just as bad sometimes, and a temper that could soar as high as a Sho-wing!
Rand could almost feel that man's amusement at the whole situation. Lews Therin had used several terms that Rand didn't know, but the names sometimes provided a detailed image in his head. In this case, Rand could see something flying in the sky that had a long sleek sliver body with wings branching off of it like a hawk's would.
Are you sure Ishmael won't find us? Rand asked Lews Therin again. From what he knew, Ishmael could find a ta'veren through the ripples that they created in the pattern. Hence why Rand had come to one of the most remote locations in the world.
I told you, unless you channel a large amount of Saidin without inverting the weaves, he couldn't find you! There is nothing for the pattern to ripple in these blasted lands and…
Lews Therin went silent, his exasperated tone suddenly halting, before it returned with suspicion and anger laced into it.
You almost had me…I see now…I've grown careless, and I…So, you thought you could trick me! You are nothing but demons in my head…voices of insanity…be gone! Be gone or I will destroy you!
Rand ignored the voice, which seemed to freak out like this every time Lews Therin had just started becoming friendly. He laid stretched out on a soft and billowy flow of air, which he had tied off once he had done channeling, and had inverted the weaves so nobody could sense it. Well, Lews Therin had done most of the more complex channeling…even with all of Asmodeans teachings; Rand still did not know all of the tricks with channeling. All he was good for was destruction and death.
Sighing out loud, he seized saidin; channeling only a trickle of the burning warmth, but with is came the searing taint, a wave of unbelievable sickness and fatigue. He probed the complex and hidden wards around the metal contraption, making sure that they were all in order, before he dropped the power and rolled over to his side. Sweat dripped from his forehead as he closed his eyes, the subtle movement had sent waves and pounds of dizziness throughout his head. Trying to ignore the shivering and shaking movements he was making, Rand tried to get some sleep. He still had a week or so to recover from the prolonged power acquisition sickness, and he needed his rest. He only hoped that Perrin and Mat were okay. Without Rand to target, Ishmael might concentrate his efforts on them.
The Queens Man loomed up ahead of Mat, who sighed in relief. His head was pounding and his face was pale, but he had never felt more relieved to see an Inn before in his life. He only hoped that Thom's instructions were right, and that there was a bed in there that he could get some sleep in. He also wouldn't mind seeing the False Dragon, but he would have to do that tomorrow. Ignoring the way people avoided him, and the darkness that seemed to radiate off him, Mat strode into the Inn, his mind already half-twisted by the dagger.
The Aiel Waste: The Waterless Sands
"So, this is where you fled to hide like a rat!" Ba'alzamon laughed mockingly, his red cloak swishing in the hot desert winds. The dreaded Forsaken did not seem to mind the blistering heat, or the sand that slashed at his cheeks as it flew past in the harsh winds. There was a faint crackling glow in the air, an aura of blue, purple and silver shards that flickered and wavered, the remains of the wards Rand had set up that Ba'alzamon had swept away with considerable ease. His eyes were furnaces, and while his smile was mocking, there was a degree of anger and fury in it. "You thought you could hide from me? You almost did…but the threads of ta'veren are different from those of other people! It may have taken me some time, but I found you, just as I always will!"
Rand didn't say anything as he stood on top of the wreck, some hundred paces away from Ba'alzamon, or Ishmael. He had been resting, idly thinking of his next moves, when the wards had sang with warning before they had been blow away by the True Power. Now, he stood and confronted one of his most dangerous enemies. The thing in front of him might have once been a man, a twisted and a poor excuse of a man yes, but still, he might have once been a man. Now, after three thousand years of being partially trapped in the Seal and the use of the True Power derived from the Dark One, Ba'alzamon was half-mad and even less human.
"It could end," Ba'alzamon continued, studying Rand intently. "Join me, bow down to me! Acknowledge the Great Lord of the Dark as your master, and everything you have ever desired could be yours!"
"How many times must try to recruit me for the shadow Elan?" Rand asked roughly, his voice harsh and guttural as Lews Therin spoke through him. He inwardly cursed and shook away the disembodied man, his mind tightly wrapped around saidin, the pulsing and harsh warmth mixing with the dirty and searing taint that threatened to eat away at his bones. The sun that shone high ahead barely bothered him, sweat did not appear on his face, as he stared across at Elan…No, Ishmael of Ba'alzamon, who stood on a sand dune with a tight and gleaming look in the furnaces he called eyes.
"I will continue until you have joined!" Ba'alzamon whispered harshly, his voice carried along with the wind. It got steadily louder and louder as he continued. "This conflict between the Light and the Shadow…they have existed for thousands and thousands of years, since the beginning of the Wheel of Time! And you…your soul…it is always yours that is the bearer of Light, the savior, the Dragon!" The last word was hissed out, as if the very name was a stain on Ba'alzamons soul…if he had one. "In many of those times, you have been killed and the Wheel was reset as Shadow triumphed. But in other battles…you have joined the Great Lord and you have become his Avatar, an Avatar of Darkness! In those times, you ruled! Now, at the very end, you have a chance to make a decision! Die, or become the Avatar you are destined to become!"
Rand didn't say anything, but saidin roared through him as he channeled from the True Source. A tall, narrow cylinder of fire grew from the sands around Ba'alzamon, a total of three in total. They were gleaming red, with flickers of yellow and orange, which raged inside an invisible tube that compressed the searing flames. A low humming sound, which grew in pitch as the seconds passed could be heard, and Ba'alzamons eyes expanded in unison with the Blossoms of Fire, and the compressed flames erupted from the cylinders into giant discs of roaring infernos. The sand dune exploded in a roar of power and fire and sand melted and fused together as the red-cloaked form vanished beneath the roaring fires.
It is never this easy! Lews Therin mumbled worriedly.
Rand could only agree with him as the fires flickered away, a roaring firestorm limited to nothingness by a lack of fuel. Suddenly a blast of black lightning burst from the center of the dying flames and Ba'alzamon strode out on the air, a large crater beneath him, looking unaffected by the fires that flickered over him. Anger was etched on his face as lightning pulsed from his hands, arcing towards Rand. Rand threw out his own hands, and a glowing blue orb burst from them, which expanded into a spinning circle of glittering power that hovered off the ground just in front of Rand. Lightning burst onto the shield, and splotches of red appeared where black cackling energy stuck the shield, but they were deflected and blocked as Rand tied off the weave and channeled again.
From the clear skies, lighting burst down, striking in wild patterns. Ba'alzamon laughed, a roaring sound, and the lightning bolts that had came close to him sizzled out and disappeared. Rand sent another volley and opened a gateway behind him. As Ba'alzamon swatted away the lightning with an almost careless ease, Rand inverted the weaves of the gateway and stepped back into it, leaving the Waterless Lands and the roaring snarl that washed over the biting winds and was lost in the deserted sands.
Ducking to the left and back into a dark alley Mat tried not to squirm. Finally, with an almost inaudible sigh, he wiped his brow. He wasn't at all surprised to see a coating of sweat on his hand when he bought it down. He was being followed, he could tell. The eyes…they never stopped watching him…the Whitecloaks…the Queens Guards…they could all be Darkfriends! Light, he was alone, and there was nobody that could save him from the shadow…except himself. He convulsively gripped the dagger's hilt, almost heaving a sigh of pleasure as his hand tingled at the mere touch. It was becoming part of him, another arm or limb, and no matter how hard Mat tried to resist its sirens call, he was never strong enough. Vaguely, in the back of his mind, he could remember the distant warnings of Rand, the horrible tales of Moiraine and the shadow less figure of Mordeth and his Mashadar, but he just didn't care anymore.
Suddenly, cheering and booing started from the outer walls, so loud that even Mat could here them from his darkened position behind a stone building. Mat grimaced and glanced around. He wanted a look at this False Dragon, but he wasn't stupid enough to go into the crowds. Oh no, that's what all the Darkfriends and thieves wanted him to do, Mat Cauthon was no fool. A mocking grin fell onto his lips as he glanced around, but the grin died almost as soon as it came when he felt the unseen but ever searching eyes on him again. A startled and hoarse growl leapt from his throat as he scrambled away from the alley, running as if the very whips of a Myrddraal were on his back.
A moment later a grimy dirt covered figure sulked into the alley, but despite his outward appearance his eyes were alert, curious and half-mad. A touch of darkness seeped through this man, not as somebody who fought the evilness of Shadar Logoth, consciously and unconsciously, with all his being, but one who embraced it and welcomed its touch. Padan Fain stared through the alley, licking his cracked and blistered lips nervously as he sniffed hesitantly, like a bloodhound. The tainted one had been here…he could smell it! And he was closer, oh, he was so close now that he could sense the item, the item that had been taken out of Shadar Logoth and belonged to him! Once he had it…the Dark One would never use him again! He would be nobody's whipping boy and faithful dog…he would reap vengeance upon those who had ever harmed him…and that damned al'Thor would be first!
Mat didn't stop running until he had left the darkened alley far behind him. He twisted through buildings and streets, ducking away from people and avoiding the burning sunlight. Spring had yet to pass and the winter sun was cold and horrible, but to Mat it was blinding and scorching, threatening to destroy him where he stood. But he didn't stop running, until he had made it up the many levels of the Outer city and eventually, had reached the gleaming white walls that surrounded the inner city, the homes of the Lords and Ladies and the Queen of Andor.
"Come and find me now!" Mat muttered, a taste of victory on his mouth. His eyes roamed the walls and flickered back to the buildings of the outer city, a frown appearing on his face. He did not seem bothered that he was talking to himself and scowled angrily. "Blood and Ashes! I wanted to see the False Dragon!"
As his eyes roamed across the great city of Caemlyn they fell on the walls he was standing next to. A faint mischievous grin appeared on his face, a faded echo of what it used to be. The walls were strong; they had stood for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. In all that time the rain and wind had done some light damage to them though, enough damage to create grooves and cracks along the surface. It was a high wall and it would be a hard climb, but the Sand Cliffs back at the Two Rivers were higher and tougher, and he had climbed those before. Without a second thought, Mat scrambled up, his fingers expertly searching for grooves and cracks. He bounded up the wall like a cat up a tree, and within twenty seconds he was at the top, staring out into the parade of red and white soldiers of horses. In the middle of it all, a single mare was pulling a cage. In the cage was a tall defiant man, with dark hair and dark eyes. He was dressed in fine clothes, which were dirty and rumpled, but he stood with the confidence of a King, staring emotionlessly down at those who booed and jeered at him. Surrounding him were six women whose features were too hard to make out from this distance. They all stared at the man as if nothing else in the world existed, seemingly unaware of their surroundings. Their Warders surrounded them, they had to be Warders for no other soldiers dressed up in that shimmering cloak that blended in the background and twisted in the light, they didn't stop watching the crowd for one moment, as if Trollocs and Darkfriends were bound to leap up at them any moment.
"The women must be Aes Sedai, but what are they doing?" Mat mused out loud, his voice scratchy and rough. He chuckled softly, a low cackle that was unsettling to his own ears, and reached into his coat, gripping the dagger tightly. He partially closed his eyes, a throb of pleasure rushing into him, and a soft sigh wheezed through his lips, dirty and dry, followed by a round of hacking coughs. Perhaps it was that reason why the two people hidden in the tree above him didn't say anything, but just watched the dangerous man silently.
As soon as Rand appeared in Caemlyn he could sense Mat, the saidin wards that Rand had placed throbbed in the distance. Rand left the secluded area he had traveled to, a small space at the back of a shop in the middle of the outer city that had been chosen because of the remote chance of anybody actually being there. He could feel Mat moving towards the Inner City so he quickly drew his cloak tightly around himself and started pushing through the throngs of people, ignoring the jeers and boos that he could here. He had considered freeing Logain, but had decided that first he needed the man to be gentled. Once Logain was gentled, he would lose any arrogance or delusions of power that he had and Rand would pick up a broken man, who would be all too eager to serve Rand once he had healed his gentling. It was harsh, but Rand didn't care. He would use whomever and whatever he had too, as long as he won properly this time.
After ten or so minutes Rand had tracked Mat to the walls of the Inner City, he could see him sitting on the wall, almost in the exact same position as he had been sitting so many years ago…Light, how long had it been? Even with all of the confusing business with time and balefire, Rand could barely remember the event. It was back in a time when Rand had been so innocent and naïve of the world and his destiny. He absently shook away those thoughts and moved forward, clearing past the shrubs and brushes that hid him from viewed
"Mat!" Rand called out loudly as burst into view. Mat looked down and gave a start, his body visibly shaking, before he waved his arms around in the air frantically as he lost his balance. He slid from view, panic just blooming in his face, and fell backwards, over the wall and into the ground behind them, which Rand knew were the Palace Gardens. As a ta'veren, Rand was used to altering chance. Luckily, the ability was no where near as strong as it had been, but even then, there were some things that the Wheel of Time would weave, some events of talks. Light, this had to be one of them. As he stood there, there was a rustle from the trees and Rand's heart clenched painfully as a beautiful girl, maybe three years younger than he was, appeared from behind the leaves and branches. She was younger, but Rand would never fail to recognize the Daughter-Heir, one of the loves…former loves of his life.
"Your friend is hurt," She called down from the trees. Rand almost shivered, just as the mere sound of her voice, but he hid his feelings behind a hard and stony wall of determination. No, he was not going to do this again. Not with Elayne. He was not going to get Morgase killed again; he wasn't going to ruin Elayne's life for a second time. It was as Lan said, better to die rather than love men look themselves.
"Climb over and help me," Elayne ordered as she jumped from the tree, disappearing from view. Rand noted Gawyn following his sister and grimaced at the sight. Last time Rand had seen the man; Gawyn had been determined to slice him open in revenge and anger, because he had believed that Rand had killed his mother.
"Are you coming?" Elayne called loudly, Rand hesitated momentarily before finding the nearest groove and crack, slowly climbing the wall. He had done it before, but it seemed a lot easier this time as he clambered forward, before he reached the top and looked down. Mat lay on the ground, moaning dazedly as he rubbed his head. Where his fingers touched his head, crimson blood smeared all over the appendages. Next to him, Elayne removed her belt pouch as she knelt down beside him, and Rand had to stifle a flash of jealousy at the way her pale fingers gently pressed down on Mat's head. Gawyn stood next to her, his stance relaxed but protective as he gazed at Mat as if he were not quite sure about him. What really caught Rand's attention though was the gleaming golden hilt that he could see protruding from Mat's cloak, and the faint taste of rotten meat, similar to the taint on saidin or the presence of shadowspawn, but a different…flavor, that would be the best word Rand could come up for it. He knew this flavor though; it was the same one that had lingered in his side after Padan Fain had stabbed him.
"Stay away from him!" Rand barked loudly, his voice leaving no room for questioning. The tone, which had crumbled the High Lords of Tear, the Nobles of Cairhien and even Aes Sedai, impressed such an urgency that Elayne automatically stood back as Rand jumped from the walls, landing on the heels of his feet, an Aiel trick that he had learnt. He got to his feet, his face stony and hard and one hand on the hilt of his sword.
"Rand…" Mat muttered as he staggered up, shaking his head in a daze. His smile, which had once been so mischievous, shone with an unholy light, suspicion and paranoia etching every line of the young man's face. "It's good to see you alive! Light, I though that the Trollocs had got you." His smile faded and his eyes flickered from Gawyn, who as standing in front of his sister protectively, eyeing both Rand and Mat with an icy gaze, and Rand, who was staring at Mat with traces of anger.
"You fool," Rand said quietly. "Didn't I tell you? Didn't Moiraine tell you? Everything from that place is tainted…tainted, Mat! Even taking a pebble would have been disastrous, but you took a dagger!"
Mat was no longer smiling, and his hand was clutched around something…the dagger most likely, in his cloak, his eyes narrowed and a look of utter rage of his face. "I'm a fool?" He exclaimed, cackling softly, his voice hoarse and wheezy, as if another person was speaking through Mat. "You're the one that left me alone in that place! I had to find a weapon and this was all I could find! But maybe...you left me alone on purpose!" He took a step backwards, watching Rand warily. Comprehension was dawning on his face as Mordeth twisted his thoughts, bending them to paranoia and suspicion. "You…you wanted me to die, didn't you Rand? Were you working for the Trollocs? Did you make a deal with them? It would explain how you got out alive! Maybe…you set them in the Two Rivers, didn't you! Light, you're a Darkfriend! Of course, it all makes so much sense now! You changed that night Rand…I thought it was because of your father…but you bent to the Father of Lies! You Sheepspit Darkfriend!" Mat yelled the last part, his eyes wide and his breathing heavy.
Elayne and Gawyn were looking decidedly confused, Elayne's royal composure was slipping and Gawyn's cool exterior was cracking. Most likely, they hadn't understood half of what Mat had said, but they had definitely understood the words Trollocs and Darkfriend, and were now regarding Rand with great suspicion and tiny amounts of fear. Gawyn had his hand on his belt knife and was very carefully backing away, Elayne's arm in his grips.
"Who are you?" Elayne demanded, throwing her head high as she glared at both young men. Her blue eyes flashed with defiance as she regarded them both, her initial willingness to help Mat gone. "You had better leave, before the Queen's Guard comes! Take your fight somewhere else!"
"Are you part of this?" Mat snarled at her, with such force that she blinked and Gawyn moved forward, his hand at his belt knife and his eyes wary. "Are you a Darkfriend too? You must be! You're conspiring with Rand to kill me! But I won't let you!" He chuckled softly, madness sung into his voice, a darkness that only Rand could sense was multiplying and growing even as Mat spoke, as if Mordeth was redoubling his efforts.
"The Daughter-Heir of Andor, a Darkfriend?" Gawyn said incredulously. "Light, Man, you are mad!"
"Not mad, just twisted by the darkness of Shadar Logoth." Rand said quietly. He strode forward, one hand out, "Give me the dagger Mat, and we can heal you. Moiraine can help you…"
Mat went absolutely mad at the mention of the Aes Sedai, and with an insane scream of frenzy, he pulled his dagger out and leapt forward, the tip of the blade aimed for Rand's heart. Rand's hand blurred and the air swooshed as his blade swiped, deflecting the first stab. Mat stabbed again, his eyes closely resembling those of a mad animal, and Rand easily sidestepped out of danger from the unskilled attack, bringing his sword down from above his head and onto Mat's dagger with such great force that it was knocked out of Mat's hand. Mat scrambled for it, just as Rand bought the hilt of his sword down on Mat's head softly, while at the same time, seizing saidin and channeling a tiny weave of spirit into Mat's head. The reaction was instantaneous, Mat's limp body crumpled to the ground, appearing to have been knocked unconscious by Rand.
"Sorry Mat," Rand murmured as he approached the dagger gingerly, one hand holding his sword. He reached into his cloak and pulled out a dirty strip of cloth. With careful movements, he gingerly wrapped the cloth around the dagger, making sure not to actually touch the tainted blade with his flesh. When the dagger was safety wrapped, Rand wove wards of saidin, spirit, fire and air creating a sphere of red crystalline power only visible to those that could channel saidin. The ward would block the taint from the dagger, if only for a little while. It was like the ward that Rand had woven on Mat, but seeing as Mat had just tried to kill him, Rand didn't place too much trust in it. He placed the dagger in his cloak and turned to regard Gawyn and Elayne.
'Such hair…Ilyena…just like Ilyena's…Light, what did I do? I did it madness…does that redeem me?' Lews Therin muttered softly, sorrow and anguish in his voice.
"I'm Rand al'Thor, of the Two Rivers. Lying on the ground is Mat Cauthon also of the Two Rivers" Rand introduced. He didn't know what he could actually say, not after what the both of them had just witnessed. "And you are Elayne Trakand, of the House Trakand and Daughter-Heir of Andor, while you are Gawyn Trakand, of the House Trakand, and the prime candidate for the next First Prince of Andor."
"I am." Elayne said, her eyes flicking to the sword that he held. Her voice was cool, and she sounded as if she were in perfect control of herself and the situation, something that Rand couldn't help but smile over. "What just happened, Mister al'Thor? I think that you have some explaining to do?"
Rand nodded slowly. He could not tell the truth, he trusted Elayne…or he had trusted her, but Eladia was still the Aes Sedai advisor at this moment, and Aes Sedai had a way of drawing information out of people. "My friend and I were traveling and we came across a deserted and ruined city that wasn't on our recent maps. We camped inside the city and just as night was approaching, I managed to find the name of the city on one of the maps from the Trolloc Wars. Aridhol…Shadar Logoth…I had heard enough rumors and stories to know that we should leave at once. Do you know of Shadar Logoth Elayne?"
Elayne nodded slowly, a hand at her mouth and her cheeks pale. "Oh," She whispered, while Gawyn grimaced beside her.
"As we were leaving, we stumbled onto a man, who called himself Mordeth. He said he needed help taking some treasure beyond the city walls…" Rand said, and smiled wryly as Gawyn flinched.
"Mordeth, as in the Councilor from the Trolloc Wars?" He asked with a dawning horror.
Rand shrugged. "I suppose he was. You see, he took us to a treasure pile, with gleaming gold coins and gems the size of eggs and weapons of beautiful make and design…such as the dagger you just saw. But I noticed that he didn't have a shadow, not even in the torchlight, so we fled, but when we got outside again, it was dark. And Mashadar…the deadly mist was loose. In the confusion, Mat and I separated, but we agreed to meet in Caemlyn if we could. And here we are."
"That is an incredible tale," Elayne said slowly. Her eyes flickered to Mat, and she frowned slightly. "What is going to happen to him?"
"If he is left unchecked he will transform into everything that Shadar Logoth stood for, and will bring death and destruction to this side of the blight, before he would start fighting the Dark One. Mordeth is evil, but an evil that is just as much as enemy to the Dark One as we are." Rand answered. "But, if we could get him to an Aes Sedai, she might be able to heal him. Of course, it had to be one of the Yellow Ajah…any other would kill Mat just to be safe."
Elayne nodded slowly, just as the sounds of running footsteps echoed in the garden. Red cloaked soldiers, with swords and bows in their hands, stormed through the arches and doorways, their eyes grim and their faces serious. Rand almost grimaced as they surrounded him, but suddenly he realized how this must look, him holding a sword over a fallen man in front of the Daughter-Heir. One of the guards must have seen it that way too, because an arrow sleeked through the air towards Rand
"No!" Elayne shouted, her voice loud and commanding. Rand seized saidin in the split second before the arrow would hit him, and light pulsed in his mind, mingled with taint. His senses stretched out, and he could smell the beautiful fragrances from the flowers booming in the guarding, the scent of perfume from Elayne, the smell of sweat and oil from the guards and their weapons. He could see everything, from the small freckly nestled on Gawyn's face, to the texture of the arrowhead that was whizzing towards him, suddenly slower and more sluggish than it had been. He raised his sword, he was one with his sword; he could feel every particle and every vibration that ran through it, he could felt particles of air slicing away as the sword was raised, and the tip of the blade touched the point of the arrow. To the others, his sword was a blur and suddenly the arrow flipped upwards, spiraling away before Rand's hand darted out and suddenly it was clasped in his left hand.
"Light!" Gawyn breathed in awe as Rand pretended to examine the arrow, studying the design, as Elayne took a position in front of him with her arms spread wide, shielding him with her own body.
"Do not attack him! He is my guest!" She commanded coldly, her eyes boring into the guard who had shot the arrow, who was shuffling between nervous looks at the Daughter-Heir and awed looks towards Rand. At once the arrows were lowered, but the swords stayed still as…Tallanvor, Rand could barely remember his name now, Tallanvor stood forward nervously, eying Rand strangely.
"Milady, a maid heard crazed shouts from the gardens." He started, his eyes flickering towards Rand worriedly for a few seconds, as if couldn't believe what he had just seen. Of course, the best Blademasters had been fast enough to deflect arrows with their swords, but not from that range. Saidin was a useful weapon sometimes…
"It was merely my guests friend falling off the wall." Elayne answered and lowered her arms as if she had intended to do so all along. Her gaze wandered around the guards and she frowned. "My guest did not see him fall, only heard his screams, and he thought he was under attack. So he jumped the wall with his sword out and only found myself and Gawyn trying to tend to his wounds."
Tallanvor nodded slowly and sheathed his sword reluctantly. "Milady, we will have to take the…guest…into custody, as per your mothers orders."
"I will go where my guest does." Elayne said, smiling like she had won a battle. "Do you think to bring me to a holding cell? Will you drag me off by force?"
Tallanvor looked uncomfortable, his hand shooting to pull at his collar and his face ashen and pale. "Um…Well…I…It isn't…My Lady, please!"
Elayne stood still, her chin up and her blue eyes calm and collected, almost as good as any Aes Sedai, until a red and white armored man darted past the throng of guards and whispered something into Tallanvor's ear. Tallanvor's face regained some color and he suddenly looked very pleased with himself.
"Never mind that," He said with satisfaction. "The Queen has demanded your presence."
Elayne suddenly lost her swaggering look, her confidence vanishing, while Rand marveled at the consistencies of the Wheel of Time. Some things just had to occur, it seemed. As two guards picked Mat up, Rand fell in beside Elayne, as they were escorted from the gardens and towards the Palace.