Gnawing at the roots

A Wheel of Time fic by Gigi.

Disclaimer: I only own one copy of each Robert Jordan's (R.I.P.) published Wheel of Time books. No more.

Chapter 3: Finding a Purpose

A/N: So I'm finally updating this, which is such a relief to me. I'm reading The Gathering Storm bit by bit at my bookstore, because I really don't want to pay thirty dollars for a book that's hardback, thus throwing off my entire collection of his books. I need my balance. Anyway, I'm really in a Wheel of Time mood, so I hope you are, too. Enjoy!

Leane had spent the night in an inn just outside the Tower grounds, wearing a disguise that only vaguely resembled her true appearance, making it rather difficult to retain. Her hair, instead of her own dark, shoulder-length locks, hung in short ringlets of brown tinged with red and gold. It was a unique color, but her sister had such hair, so it was legitimate enough for a Domani woman. If there were anyone's example to follow when teaching the art of seduction, it would be her sister, Marlene's. Almost from her nameday, Marlene'd had suitors tail after her all day.

Making her skin darker and her eyes larger, Leane found the weave easier to hold with every passing hour as the lingering effects of her last dose of forkroot before the attack slowly wore away. By the next morning, after going to sleep with a tied-off semblance of her disguise from the day, she'd regained almost all of her strength, especially after eating a hearty meal from the homely innkeeper.

As soon as she finished her breakfast, she paid the innkeeper with money from a small account she'd managed to hide in a secret pocket in her dress. Checking her remaining money, she saw she had enough money to buy a new dress. Maintaining a weave on clothing could be sloppy business, as it was very subject to flicker the true garments underneath, and a Domani woman petitioning the Amyrlin to teach the novices very well couldn't be wearing a dull brown woolen dress. That type of dress would announce to the Tower that, despite her disguised features, Leane was free from the cells.

On her way out of the inn, Leane glanced at the clock sitting on the mantelpiece of the common room – clocks may have been considered a luxury in any other city inn, but almost all Tar Valon inns had at least one. She wouldn't have time to get a dress made, and hardly any store would sell already constructed clothes; that would be wasteful. Leane heaved a deep breath and stepped out into the streets of Tar Valon.

Leane walked into the first shop she encountered and quickly scoped out the seamstress herself. The woman was slender, about Leane's size, which was fortunate, with pale yellow hair that hung down her back in a thick, intricate braid. Her large blue eyes sat well with her small nose and rosebud mouth, which spread into a warm smile upon seeing Leane. "Good morning, my Lady," she greeted. There was a slight hesitation in adding the title, because while Leane's face and carriage conveyed nobility, her drab woolen dress most certainly did now.

Nodding in acceptance, Leane allowed a small smile of her own. "Good morning," she replied. "I am in urgent need of a dress. I am on my way to speak to the Amyrlin, and last night my room was broken into while I was at dinner. So now I am left in my last and rattiest travel dress, and there would be no dignity in addressing her in this." The seamstress nodded thoughtfully, understanding and relief flashing in her eyes at having addressed her correctly. "I hope you can help me. I have no time to get a dress made, you see." Realization made those large blue eyes widen ever so slightly. Buying the dress off a woman's back was hardly proper, but nevertheless, the woman cocked her head to the side in consideration. "Under normal circumstances, I would never ask such a thing, but I would be more than willing to compensate for your troubles," Leane added. "I can pay you the price of sewing a new dress if you would be so kind as to let me purchase yours."

After a few more seconds deliberating the woman finally nodded. "Okay," she affirmed. "Let's go in the back and see if any alterations need to be made."

8D

Egwene had two new Red attendants following her today. Katerine, obviously, was no longer available to watch "that al'Vere girl," from sunup to sundown. What happened to the other Red, the Tairen, Egwene could only imagine, though, out of the two possibilities she had in mind, neither were quite pleasant to think about.

When Egwene entered the dining hall, the novices were all abuzz with the news of the disaster in the open cells. Apparently, those who had discovered the scene had very little grasp on the concept of discretion and had allowed it to become common knowledge. Internally, Egwene tsked at the poor handling of the problem. Bigger events had been sealed to the Hall, more catastrophic occurrences had been hidden from the novices, the Accepted and the majority of the sisters in order to prevent a panic. As she passed by the girls all clad in white, she picked up on the air of unease that surrounded every table. A hundred girls, children, in a panic would do absolutely no good to the situation in the Tower. They needed to be handled before the situation progressed to such a state.

A novice stood next to Egwene's usual seat, marked by a battered cushion, holding a tray with Egwene's breakfast. Egwene smiled in appreciation, moved aside the cushion and took her seat at the wooden table. The novice, Alrenne, set down the tray in front of her and bobbed a curtsy before moving to sit at her own place. She stopped, however, and quietly approached her again.

"Mother," she addressed softly, "there has been talk of an attack on some of the sisters down in the open cells."

Egwene motioned for the girl to sit. This was not a conversation to be had standing up. One needed support when discussing something so grave as this. "Yes, there was an attack."

"Does that mean that the…the Black Ajah really exists?" Alrenne's voice dropped to a whisper for the last half of her question, as if saying the name would bring a Black sister down on her.

"This attack proves nothing, child," Egwene said sternly, "only that everyone should tread more carefully."

"Then do you know who was behind it?" Alrenne pressed.

This gave Egwene pause as she debated what exactly to tell her. "I have my theories, but I fear the reason behind the attack should be of more concern than the who."

"The reason, Mother?"

"Any of the rumors that have sprouted because of this will indicate that it was relatively small-scaled, an aimed assault with a purpose," Egwene answered solemnly. "Until we root out that purpose and resolve it, the attacks will not cease, no matter how many of the offenders we catch."

Alrenne left soon after to go to her first class, leaving Egwene alone to contemplate her own words. She was right in assuming there would be another attack. She just hoped that others, Elaida and the Hall in particular, would be so wise as to assume the same.

A/N: There you go. I hope you enjoyed this chapter, but I really won't know until you press that pretty button and REVIEW!