Disclaimer: I do not own the Wheel of Time. I am simply a writer looking to explore different possibilities in the late Robert Jordan's world.

A Different Beginning

Chapter 1 – Meeting Moiraine

Rand al'Thor was an ordinary country boy in many ways. He lived outside the village of Emond's Field on a farm. He was a shepherd and helped his father, Tam, with other tasks on the farm. However, when Tam's wife Kari died, Tam revealed to Rand that they were not Rand's real parents.

Tam had informed Rand of his service in the army of Illian, and his finding of Rand on the slopes of Dragonmount after the last battle with the Aiel. Rand had been surprised and dismayed after learning about his parentage, but he had put it behind him. Tam was close enough to a father to Rand. However, Rand had not let this secret out and everyone thought he was the son of Tam and Kari al'Thor.

Rand had one other secret, and not even Tam knew. For several months strange things had been happening when Rand seized the flame and void. At first Rand thought it was coincidence, but he now knew that he could channel the male half of the true source. He had felt saidin while practicing archery. In secret for the last month, Rand had practiced channeling in secret, so he would not kill himself.

While this was almost always in the front of Rand's mind, at this particular time it had been moved to the back. It was the day before the big festival and that night was Winternight. He had just helped Tam unload barrels of cider with his friend Mat. Bran al'Vere, the village innkeeper and mayor had needed the barrels for the inn.

Mat was excitable as usual. He had apparently covered Master Luhhan's dogs with flour, which had led to a very dirty kitchen for Mistress Luhhan. Mat was also rambling on about a caught badger and the prospects of letting it out in the field. Mat was amused at the thought of the girls preparing for Bel Tine running all over the field shrieking. Rand thought Mat was lucky no one had over heard him.

While Rand in the past might have gone right along with Mat, in the last couple of months Rand had really matured. Some of the village women already wanted to place Rand on the Village Council. The women also were trying to push Egwene al'Vere, the mayor's daughter at him. While Egwene was very pretty, Rand did not see her in a romantic light. However, Egwene liked to follow Rand around and was completely besotted with him.

It was at this moment that Egwene chose to make her presence known. "Matrim Cauthon, you will do no such thing. You can be such a woolhead sometimes." Apparently Egwene had heard Mat talking about letting the badger loose. Mat just wasn't a very lucky person.

However Egwene wasn't done after reprimanding Mat. "Rand, I hope you are not going to be involved with this madness." Suddenly her face took on a kinder and more hopeful countenance. "Rand, will you dance with me tomorrow?"

Not surprised, Rand had an answer ready. "We'll see Egwene. I may be busy tomorrow. I am in the archery and swordsmanship competitions." Egwene let out a sigh and ran off.

Rand had mastered archery ever since Tam had taught him the flame and the void. For the last couple years the competition had come down to Rand and Tam. Tam had always beaten Rand in the end, but Rand hoped his fortunes would change this year.

Rand was participating in the swordsmanship competition this year for the first time. Ever since Kari had died, Tam had dedicated himself to teaching Rand the sword. Tam was a blademaster and had always won the village tournament easily. However, this year he would not be competing.

Soon after Rand had learned to channel, he had defeated Tam and had earned the title of blademaster. Naturally, no one in the village knew, but Tam had presented Rand his heron marked blade and told him that he could teach Rand no more. Rand wore the sword around everywhere he went. This was the only main difference between him and the other people of the Two Rivers, besides his two secrets.

While Rand was pondering his chances in the two competitions, Mat had continued to talk. "What did you say, Mat? I did not hear you."

As anxious as usual, Mat started talking about the gleeman that came into town and two strangers that had come. "Rand, Moiraine is a lady. And Lan, he could be her warder. He has this color shifting cloak on."

Rand dismissed the warder talk as one of Mat's fantasies, but was interested in the pair. However, he was more interested when Mat mentioned seeing a stranger in black on a horse at the edge of town the previous day.

On the way to Emond's Field, Rand had spotted a stranger on the road. However, as soon as Rand had taken the void, the stranger disappeared. He had informed Tam, but Tam did not seem overly worried.

Rand told Mat about seeing the black horseman. Both of them shuddered and talked about the peddler that was supposed to be coming into town. However, as they rounded the corner, they almost walked into a huge man in a gray/green cloak with a sword at his side.

Rand thought that this must be Lan, the man Mat had been talking about. Next to Lan was a beautiful lady in a blue dress. She was petite, with dark hair and dark eyes. However, the most striking features Rand noticed were her ageless face and a Great Serpent Ring on her finger.

This surely meant that this Moiraine was an Aes Sedai. Tam had told him about Aes Sedai and their ageless faces. He had also read about Aes Sedai wearing Great Serpent rings. He was shocked that one would be in the Two Rivers. However, he was more concerned about concealing his ability to channel. Apparently gentling, led to the death of men who could channel.

He knew from his books that he should call her Moiraine Sedai, but he did not want to draw attention to himself, and the village would be in an uproar with their false perceptions of Aes Sedai.

Suddenly Rand realized that she must belong to the Blue Ajah, who were meddlers in world affairs. Rand let out a sigh of relief. She would not gentle him unless she came to the Two Rivers for that purpose. Rand did not know that she had come for the exact opposite reason, to encourage him to channel.

After realizing that Moiraine Sedai must be Blue Ajah, Rand decided to be bold. "Good morning, Moiraine Sedai." Mat gasped and turned to look at Rand. Rand noticed Lan rest his hand on his sword handle. Rand noticed Moiraine narrow her eyes at him suspiciously.

Mat jumped in apologetically, "Lady Moiraine, Rand didn't mean anything. He must be mistaken. We mean no disrespect to you Lady Moiraine. I hope you are not angry."

Moiraine switched her gaze to Mat for a second. "How can I feel angry, when the charge is true? Leave us now, I wish to speak to Rand alone." Mat gulped, took a nervous look at Rand and scampered off.

Suddenly Rand's skin tickled as the Aes Sedai turned to him. Moiraine began speaking, "I do not believe we have been properly introduced. I am Moiraine Sedai as you said of the Blue Ajah. Now who are you?"

Rand simply replied, "My name is Rand al'Thor."

Moiraine quickly asked, "How did you know I was an Aes Sedai? Most of the people around here are clueless when it comes to Aes Sedai, thinking we are darkfriends. Obviously you have the different, true belief."

Rand stated, "You have an ageless face, which clearly marks you as an Aes Sedai, or at least a channeler of saidar. You are also wearing a Great Serpent Ring, which marks an initiate of the tower. My father told me about Aes Sedai, since he served in the army of Illian during the Aiel War and the ring is in a book I read about Aes Sedai."

Moiraine listened to his answer with interest and when Rand mentioned the Aiel War, her eyes lit up for a moment before returning to her normal countenance.

Moiraine seemed to ponder a response before asking, "Rand, would you be interested in coming with me to Caemlyn. I have an errand there, and I believe you could enlist in the Queen's Guard if you wished. I see that you have a sword."

Rand thought about it. She was Aes Sedai, but she was of the Blue Ajah. Obviously he was important to her in some way. She would not let him become an ordinary soldier, he just could become one. He had been wishing to leave and see the world, and he knew that this could be a great opportunity, especially if she was taking him, so he would not have to pay.

Rand answered, "I must talk this over with my father, but I believe I will come with you. As for joining the Queen's Guard, we will see. I don't fancy myself as a soldier, even a privileged one. A blademaster should not be an ordinary soldier, and I am a blademaster. I must go now, Moiraine Sedai, I will inform you of my decision tomorrow morning."

With this Rand walked off feeling good about himself for being strong in the face of an Aes Sedai. This was the perfect opportunity. He just didn't want Moiraine Sedai to know it.

As Rand left, Moiraine stared after him. He was certainly the one she was looking for. And a blademaster as well. Interesting. The boy certainly had strong will power and was confident. That was good.

He was a puzzling young man, but Moiraine was certain. Rand al'Thor would stand before the world as the Dragon Reborn.

She had expected to find three candidates in the village, with all of them possibly being ta'veren. However, she had viewed Mat and Perrin Aybara and they were not ta'veren or candidates for the Dragon Reborn. There was only Rand al'Thor.

Lan shifted next to her. "What did you think of the boy, Lan," Moiraine asked.

"A strong man. That sword belonged on his hip. He did not seem to fear us at all, and most importantly he was holding the void the entire time."

This reply from Lan was unheard of. Lan hardly ever gave out praise. The fact that he had held the void the entire time was even more impressive. He was clearly farther along than she thought. Maybe her task wouldn't be so difficult after all. If the boy was already somewhat prepared, the announcement of his destiny would not be so poorly received.

However, she was concerned. Rand had known she was Aes Sedai and had decided to let it be known that he knew she was Aes Sedai. She was certain he knew the ramifications of that getting out in this village. That fool Mat would undoubtedly spread the fact that she was Aes Sedai.

The boy obviously had some motives that she was unaware of. That was okay. They would be revealed in time. She would take him to Caemlyn. While she wasn't planning to go to Caemlyn, the boy probably would not want to go to Tar Valon. She needed to lessen Elaida's influence over Morgase anyways. They would go to Caemlyn in the morning.

She was confident the boy would go with her. He just didn't want her to know that he really wanted to go. She just hoped the trip would be smooth. Her hope happened to be misleading. Go figure.

This fic contains a powerful/intelligent Rand and an independant, headstrong, loyal, and powerful Elayne. This is my second fic. I am also working on With the Daughter of the Night. I will continue to work on both of them, but am concentrating on this fic at the moment. I will work more on the one that is easier to write and recieves better reviews. Please review and let me know what you think of this story.