Cadvan was alone. That was the first thing the he noticed, followed shortly by the warm bed that he was laying in and the familiar feel of being in Nelac's home. He woke slowly as his memories of the past days came to him. They'd arrived in Norloch, Nelac had healed him, and then he had slept. Maerad and Hem were fine and probably somewhere in the house.

He tried to organize his thoughts. The moment would come soon when Saliman and Nelac and others, the First Circle of Norloch not being the least, would need to know certain parts of their tale. When that time came it would be imperative for him to be able to communicate it without hesitation and with enough knowledge of his own heart to conceal his feelings, if he should need to. Would he? Maerad was an enigma in more ways than one. Had there ever been a being who drove him to such lengths before? She frustrated him, amazed him, scared him, and much else besides.

He remembered his first sight of her. She had looked slightly out of place as she milked the cow in that worn down cowbyre in Gilman's Cot. Her dark hair and blue eyes set against the paleness of her face had drawn his attention, then she'd seen him, and their adventure had begun.

Maerad was…different. That was the best word that Cadvan could find for her, and it marked them as kindred spirits in a way. He'd always thought of himself as different. He'd been different as a child in Lirigon, even before coming into the Speech. In his mind's eye, he pictured the little boy with dark hair who could scarcely decide between the adventures of his older brothers and those of days gone before. He had been a well-rounded child, as likely to cause mischief as to read about it, and looking back at the way he had sought after music and lore, he wondered if perhaps his parents had suspected the great and terrible truth of his gift.

There are many throughout time who have pointed out the flaws involved in dreams of life without end. They have spoken of watching loved ones die, of becoming irrelevant to the world around oneself, of seeing the sun set on the time that was allotted for a life and facing the cool, dark, strangness of the forever that lies beyond the place where that life should have ended. Cadvan understands their points.

How much different is a lifetime extended by two spans from one that is eternal when so much that was loved is gone after the first of those spans? Cadvan saw his parents and his brothers and his sisters wither and die like flowers. They ran towards the Gates, while Cadvan could only follow slowly, burying the pain of their losses like stones in a garden, stones that would never be seeds no matter how long they were watered by his tears. He avoided his nieces and nephews without meaning to. The span of three lifetimes gives time to witness three generations. Cadvan had seen enough after only one, at least as far as the family of his birth was concerned.

There was however another type of family. The once foreign world of the Bards and their Schools had welcomed him. Nelac, and Saliman, and Dernhil, had welcomed him. Malgorn, and Silvia, and others too had welcomed him. He'd formed for himself a kind of family stretched across Edil-Amarandh. There were so many kind hearts in the lands he had wandered. The Light and the Speech had returned all that they'd taken. If he had not been a Bard, he would have missed all that he now fought for. He'd never have seen and done so many of the things that had shaped him. He'd have never met with this strange young waif to who would soon bear the weight of a world only barely her own.

Maerad.

So many of his musings seemed to circle back to her, the last love of a dear friend, the last daughter of a fallen School, the last hope for the Light. She was so young and so unused to the concept of her own freedom, her own power; a young Bard with such potential, and yet so unlike his Ceredin. Where she had been trusting, Maerad was cautious. Where she had preferred weaponry, Maerad preferred books and studying. Yet, by the Light, he could not help but begin to see why Dernhil had found himself rushing in his advances towards her. He could not help but hope that this young woman might be the Fated One, Elednor, if only so that he might have reason to linger with her.

Already, in her presence, he had born witness to the hidden the sacred, and the impossible. He had seen Ardina, and the city of Rachida, and he had survived encounters with both a kulag and a wight of the abyss as a result of his powerful and astonishing Charge. Who would not hope to continue traveling with one who made for so fantastic a journey? She was different. Touched by the wildness of the elementals, the pride and power of the house of Karn, and the very hands of fate how could she not be? Brave where others faltered, stronger than even she knew, how could Maerad not be different?

As Cadvan lay there, resting and thinking, it occurred to him that if and when they met with the Bards of Norloch's First Circle they would have to convince them of Maerad's difference. They would have very little time to see what others had had days and weeks to observe. For some moments Cadvan wondered if it might take some inner oddity of one's own to see difference in others. He dismissed that thought. The men and women of the First Circle were rare individuals of power and certainty, they were different. Even if they were not, Cadvan and Maerad were; and in the best and worst of ways. Because of that, the Dark could never truly hope to win the war.

As Cadvan began drifting slowly back into sleep, he thought, with a sad smile, that it was good that Maerad was different, especially from himself. Perhaps she would avoid the mistakes he'd made, would never be tempted by the Dark or take an innocent life. Perhaps she might come through this war unmarked and perhaps Cadvan would live to see that. He slept and dreamed of a time beyond pain and grief, a time to express the feelings that were beginning to stir in him towards this extraordinary girl. He dreamed of a time that was different.


Hey everyone, I had some free time and I wrote this rather than study. So, I finally wrote about Cadvan. How'd I do? Please tell me, because while I do intend to go back to writing about minor characters it's good to know whether or not I can get more major characters right.

The idea for this fic took over my brain while I was re-reading The Naming for the first time and I had to write it before I went insane.

Thanks as always to my reviewers and alert people, and even you phantoms that read these and never quite seem to review so I know that you're there. You all rule, some more than others.

Thanks and see you next fic. (maybe one about either Silvia for BTW or a one shot about Ardina, not sure yet)