(Yes, the Naruto fic is still being worked on, have no fear. But plot bunnies have odd demands, and are harder to understand than a hormonal woman. And I'm a woman. So, I had to cave. This, for those unfamiliar, is from Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series. It defines "epic.")

This is not the original plot bunny. This is actually the Son of the Plot Bunny. Papa Bun will be mentioned in the story as a contextual thing at some point, I imagine. So it goes, ne? Anyway, I suppose it's my own version of a post-TG Randland. Everyone has their own thoughts and ideas. This takes place about 200 years post TG, give or take. So, some familiar faces, most new. A changed world, with some consistencies.

Being written in the first person (not my usual pov), there's a lot of exposition in this chapter. It was supposed to be a prologue, but ended up. . .long. Maybe the longest chapter we'll get. I dunno. But, I wanted the background, plus getting to a certain point.

So, enjoy, comment. Flames will hurt, at first, until I give them thought, at which point I'll laugh for a long time. ^_^

I don't own Wheel of Time, and never will. probably a good thing, b/c if I did, Rand wouldn't have three wives, he'd have two husbands and maybe a wife or two. Aren't we all relieved, now? Oh, and making no money off this. Too bad. . .

Little Prayers

Chapter One: Lessons of Tanchico

Warnings: Mention of Rape, killing. Oh, and did you know I have a habit of having spiritual/ religious undertones in my writing? Yeah, so, watch out for those. . .

My earliest memories is one of the few I have of my father. It was the last time we saw him-- nighttime, somewhere that wasn't home, his eyes wide with fear and love. Fear for whatever was happening, love for my little brother and me. Tally was only seven years old at the time, myself only eleven, and we had no idea what was happening. Even now, I'm not sure I completely understand.

In that memory, he shoves a bundle of cloth at me and a small leather pouch. He tells me to go to Manetheren, to a place called Emonds Field, and ask for the Lord of Wolves. He tells us that he has given us a great treasure, but we should only show it to the Lord of Wolves or, if not him, the Tamrlyn at the Black Tower. No one else is to know. We are to tell no one our names until we reach the safety of the Lord of Wolves. He says one final thing, then, a verse learned when we first could speak, words etched in my memory even if I didn't understand:

Golden eyes shine

Where Grandfather grew

That's how you know

The Wolf Lord is True

Shadow Jak's soldiers

With red hands on white

these good men bring

good luck to your fight

Princes and peasants,

soldiers and toys,

The Dragon protects

all wandering boys

I didn't understand, then. Didn't understand that the words were as much a treasure as the cloth and the pouch. He told us he loved us as he bundled us in the carriage. He told us to find the Tamrlyn, or the Lord of Wolves, and they would help us. As the carriage sped away, I saw the manor we'd been staying at engulfed in flames, a great to'raken sweeping overhead as damane brought lighting down. I clutched Tally's hand as we sped away, knowing even then that we'd never see our parents again.

Of course the carriage was noticed, and the raken-borne damane brought a rain of fire, which spooked the horses. It was night, and in the darkness and panic, neither the horses nor the driver saw the cliff. One minute we were bumping roughly over the road, the next we were falling. I don't remember much-- I squeezed Tally's hand, held tight to the bundle Father had given me, there was a flash of light and then . . . nothing.

When I awoke, it was light, and we were on the shores of a river, great cliffs above us. Some ways off, I could see the remains of what might have been the horses and carriage, but I didn't look to closely. Tally was right next to me, and he was alright, and that was what mattered. Even so young, I knew we shouldn't have survived that fall. But I couldn't spare time to think about it. I really wanted nothing more than to sit down and cry, but with Tally depending on me, that simply wasn't an option. Not then, at least. The people who had attacked my parents would be looking for us, so we had to be as far away from where we were as quickly as possible.

The manor we had been at stood above a town that was on the banks of the river, and it wasn't hard to make our way downstream to the docks. The attack of the night before had everything in chaos, so it was surprisingly easy to find a captain who wasn't suspicious of a couple of young lads needing passage anywhere that was away. We were but two of many such, many of the others also youngsters like ourselves.

I found coin in the small pouch Father had given, along with a ring. I paid the captain with the coin, and then had Tally hold on to the pouch with the ring and the bundle. I noticed as I handed it over that that it felt like something was within the cloth, but I figured it best just to leave it folded up until we got to Manetheren. Tally wasn't the sort to cause trouble, being of a quieter nature, and if given a task, would do everything possible to complete it. So his job was to guard our treasure, and my job was to guard him.

Unfortunately, the next day I fell ill. I'd never been so sick in my life, and it was Tally who had to take care of me. I don't remember anything from those days, only that Tally somehow convinced the Captain that I wasn't going to make the rest of his men- or the other passengers- sick.

I vaguely remember getting off the boat. It was the end of the river, and pretty much the end of our coin. I remember the salt smell in the air, the cries of gulls, and the look of the sea. The captain told us we were in Tanchico, and he hoped we had someone to go to. I told him we did, and walked away, Tally following behind.

We didn't know anyone in Tanchico, but Father had mentioned the Tamrlyn, so I thought that if we found the local Guardians' House, I could get the Asha'man there to take us to the Black Tower. I suppose I had no idea what we looked like. Two small boys, one clutching what might have been a blanket, the other looking disreputable at best, and we come knocking asking to be taken to the Tamrlyn. Looking back, it's no wonder they thought us runaways and sent us away.

The first lesson I learned in Tanchico is that no one important pays attention to street rats, which is what my brother and I had become in such a short time. So while the Asha'man thought we were runaways, or else trying to play a prank, at the same time, the Blood didn't even see us. And as I was pretty sure it was some of the Blood who had killed our family, I counted this a good thing.

Tally and I spent the night huddled together in an alley way. The next morning, we awoke to find ourselves surrounded by other street-rats. They had questions, of course, who we were, where we were from, but in the end, we joined up with them. I knew that Tally and I had to get to Manetheren, since the Black Tower seemed out of reach, but the fact was that neither of us knew what direction Manetheren was in, and even if we did, we had no way of getting there. In the meantime, we had nothing but the clothes on our back, and the treasure Father had given us. Even at eleven and seven, we both knew this might be our only chance for survival. So Sweet Saro and Fair Rett took us into the gang they led, and told us we'd have to earn our names which, as we weren't about to use our true names, was fair enough.

That night, as we settled down in the abandoned warehouse the others had made their home—called by us The Hole, Tally finally broke down and cried. I wanted to, so badly, but I felt I had to keep it together so protect him. So that night, and in so many nights that followed, I swallowed my tears as I held him close, balling up my sorrow and fear and showing it as far down inside me as I could reach. My brother was the only thing I had left, and it was up to me, the eldest, to keep him safe.

I expected to catch grief from the others, but we never did. I suspect they understood, because right away they started teaching me the more dangerous things, while Tally was kept behind for what few chores there were-- cleaning, some cooking, sewing clothes from what rags they had, and scavenging the area around the warehouse. I was taught how to steal things-- purses and fruit, at first. Tricky Mickey had the job of teaching me the way of the streets. A part of me was afraid of stealing, but I really didn't see much of a choice. None of us had much coin, and I needed to make sure my brother had something to eat.

Once I proved adept at nicking purses and pretty much anything else laying about, some of the older boys – Rett and "Badger" Ed-- taught me to pick locks, and a whole new world opened before me. First it was other warehouses for food, or fabric for blankets and clothes. We had to be careful, of course, to not get caught, but I found I was skilled with my hands, and it was rare that I met I lock I couldn't open at will.

That summer, a plague swept through the city, and about half our group died from it. It pains me that I cannot remember many of their names-- I only recall that Ed and Mickey were two-- but all their faces are still etched in memory. Tally exhausted himself everyday, caring for those among us who were sick, but there was little anyone could do. I heard on the street that even the Aes Sedai and Asha'man were having trouble treating the disease, and if they were having trouble, then there was little a child like Tally could do. So he sat by them, and mopped their brow, changed their bedding when he could, and stayed with them until their breath stilled, their moans finally silenced.

I gained a new level of respect for him during that time. I myself could hardly bear to be in the room with those who were infected, their pain-filled cries cutting me to the bone. But he stayed when I fled, and he never lost his calm, not until it was all over and he once again collapsed weeping in my arms.

I didn't cry, I just got better at what I did. The two leaders of our group-- Rett and Saro-- started taking me on their runs, where people paid them to steal things. It turned out I had an eye for jewels, always knowing the real thing from fake with just a glance. Soon I had my own runs, stealing jewels from rich merchants or nobles-- I was one of the few thieves in the city that had no problem with stealing from the Blood. Light, I'd even take a cut in my commission for the chance to steal back even a little of what they'd taken from Tally and me.

It wasn't long before my street name – N'er 'Sean – came to the attention of those who desired more intangible things than jewels or documents, or else deeds they hadn't the stomach to do themselves. Things started to get real dangerous, now, but I was getting better all the time. Saro had taught me how best to use my knife – he was one of the best in the city-- and with those new runs, I needed it more than ever. But it soon became clear that I too was one of the best, and it was all to easy to become cocky.

The second lesson of Tanchico is: Keep to the peninsula you know. Our little hole was on the Verana, above the Panarch's Palace. Out gang pretty much had the run of the Verana, and we all knew every crack and crevice therein. We often took jobs on the mainland, and the little ones often rode in the races. The mainland was, overall, a decent section of the city. Some of my runs had taken me to parts of the Maseta, but they were quick, in-and-out things. No one from our gang ever spoke of running on the Calpene-- it was too rough, even for us. But I was confident, and I took a job there, despite the pale-faced warnings of Rett and Saro.

I don't remember anymore what the job was, but I'd done it and, so very pleased with myself, I never noticed the sailors until they had me surrounded. A swift blow to the head stunned me enough that they took my belt knife and my belt as they dragged me into an empty alley and. . . well, I suppose you can imagine. I didn't know at the time what was happening, only that it hurt worse than anything I'd ever felt. They took turns, and at some point I just stopped being me. It was like I was shoved aside, only watching, as something else came forward to take my place. Eventually one flipped me over onto my back – he leered that he wanted to see me cry as he took me-- but he didn't realize that in so doing he'd freed my hands, the effects of the blow had worn off, and I certainly kept more than one knife on my person.

I can't say I even felt anger when my arm flew across his neck. I was a bit . . . distant . . .from myself at the time. I kicked him off and immediately leaped for the closest of the lot, my knife striking deep into his chest. They all shouted in surprise, and for some reason, that's what sparked the anger-- though I felt it distantly, like a bonfire an acre away. I took a third down before they managed to flee, and I snarled at their backs, too weak to give chase.

I found where they'd thrown my breeches and pulled them on, recovered both the knife they'd taken and the one still stuck in the second guy, and then left as fast as I could. It was difficult to walk, and I could feel blood and other slick things staining them, but it was night, and I was taking the ways no one took. No one who would care, anyway. I had to stop to empty my stomach a few times, but again, there was no one to care. Not even myself.

It was midnight by the time I got to the meeting place on the Maseta, near the King's Circle. I gave my employer the information he wanted and when he tried to get me to go back and get more, I told him there was no way in the Pit I'd do that. He got angry then, and it must have startled me, because the next thing I new, my blade was sticking out from the base of his throat. I didn't remember reaching for it, nor throwing it, but there it was. And there he was, a forth corpse for the night.

I ran then, unheeding of the pain. I'd never killed a person before that night, and no matter how hard a person becomes, suddenly becoming a killer will have an effect. I stumbled and fell after a few blocks, but I was far enough away that the Watch wouldn't find me.

I finally got back to our hole shortly before down, Tally and Saro and Rett all waiting. They noticed where the blood stains were, and paled. Between the pants, and my still damp shirt, I told quite a tale even without speaking. Tally's lips thinned, and he pulled out the rarely used tub and filled it with coal-warmed water, insisting I get in. I had no energy to fight, so I did as he said. Saro came in and gave my brother a small pot of salve for my injuries. I closed my eyes as Tally washed me-- I knew he was crying again, and if I fell apart, I feared I'd never be able to put myself back together again. Yet again, everything-- the pain, the anger, the fear-- was balled up onto a hard little stone and shoved deep inside, with the other me.

Somehow, I knew that he knew what had happened-- the rape and the killing-- but all he said was, "'Seanney, promise me you'll never go there again. At least, not alone. . ."

I promised him, as I'd already promised myself. Of course, I made him swear the same in return and he did. He was always a good person, and a good brother. I hardly deserved such a brother anymore, but he was also the only thing that gave my life meaning anymore, the hopes of Manetheren mixed in the collection of everything else I'd buried inside.

Rett brought in "new" rags for me to wear, the old ones too bloodstained to salvage. I slept all that day and the following night, and then continued with my life. I still had to protect Tally – now, more than ever-- and I couldn't do that if I lost myself in my growing numbness.

I didn't take anymore jobs west of the Maseta, and few even there. I was still one of the best, but more cautious than ever. But I was getting paid enough that I didn't have to take every job that came my way, and I started taking one day in seven to just wander around, to actually see the city without having to steal anything I happened to lay eyes on.

It was on one of those wanders that I came across a group of Whitecloaks in a courtyard in the Panarch's Palace. I sat in a shadow near the stables, and watched as the older men drilled some of the younger in their sword-work. I hadn't seen the forms worked in the years since I lost my family, but the names came back as I watched. Threading the Needle into Leaf on the Breeze, Dove Takes Flight into Two Hares Leaping.

I might have whispered the names out loud, because suddenly there was a man sitting next to me, unmindful of his pristine cloak getting covered in dust.

"Not the average street urchin who knows the names of the forms by sight. . . " he mentioned.

It wasn't an accusation, just a comment and, for some unknown reason, I didn't feel like lying at that moment.

"My father showed me when I was younger. He was pretty good with them, although he tended to prefer pole-arms."

He was silent a moment, pondering the tense of my verbs. "I'm sorry for your loss. May he rest gently in the hand of the Creator."

"I don't believe in the Creator," I blurted out. Not a very polite thing to say to a man whose life revolved around vows to said Creator, but there it was. I was surprised, then, when he chuckled.

"No," he said. "I imagine you don't. Understandable, I suppose. You must have lost more than just your father, by the state of your dress."

"Almost everyone," I answered.

He was silent again as we watched the drill. Eventually, "You could come to Mayene with us. You and whomever else you have. We would take care of you."

I must have startled like a goosed cat. That they were based in Mayene was a good sign-- they were the sort of Whitecloak who didn't sneer at everyone else-- but they were still a large group of very strong men who had not earned my trust. No way was I trusting Tally's safety with them.

"No." I knew I was being short with him, but he wasn't my brother, and the only courtesy I owed him was not killing him for the suggestion. "I need to get back."

"Wait." he stood as I moved to leave. "I can see that you are trying to protect someone, and I will respect that. Would it bother you if I prayed for you and whoever that person is?"

I near snorted in disbelief. He was free to waste his breath in anyway he chose. "And what would you pray?" I asked, barely able to keep the scorn from my voice.

He didn't seem to mind, only smiling. "Well, it is said that the Lord Dragon, Light shine on him, protects young people alone in the world. Perhaps I will pray that the Creator send His Dragon to your aid."

"Well," I shrugged. "I can't see what harm it would be. Go ahead. . ."

"No," he replied. "It is never harmful to pray for the well-being of others."

I left then, and dismissed the incident from my mind. The next day I was back to work, and I started talking to the gang about getting someplace a little nicer to live. Saro, Rett and I were bringing in enough to pay for someplace nicer, and the little ones brought in enough that we were decently fed. Not well fed, but decently.

But all that was dashed to ruins when I returned early one evening. I'd finished a small job for jewels, had lifted a few for myself, and had decided to come home, for once not going to find another job for the night. Our hole was strangely silent. I was immediately on guard.

In I crept, and soon found Rett and Saro, dead on the floor, the little ones piled around them. But not Tally. A sound from the next room caught my attention, and I burst in, finding Tally surrounded by several roughs, about to do to Tally what had been done to me that night on the Calpene.

A red haze soaked my vision, and then my memory grows spotty again, as I was shoved aside my myself. The next thing I knew, Tally and I were out on the street, watching as flames devoured what had been our home for the past several years, Tally shouting my name into my face.

"Seanney, Seanney! Come on, come back! It's okay now!"

I blinked. "Tally, oh Light, are you alright? Those men, did they--"

"No, Seaney." He smiled then. "You saved me, and I saved the treasure." He looked back at the fire, and swallowed. "You saved me."

"And you torched our home to cover the evidence?" I was trying to figure out how fire came into the situation, and why the water brigades were having such trouble putting it out. Were they really calling in an Asha'man to help?

"Uh, well, no, Seaney, the fire was you. You stabbed a few of the men, but then sort of. . . blew up, I guess. . ."

"I blew up?"

"Yeah. A bit. Mostly them, though. Lotsa fire and mess. Luckily, they hadn't torn our treasure off me, so I didn't have to run for it. Once I realized you were kinda. . . asleep. . . I pulled you out here."

The Asha'man was staring at the fire with an odd look on his face, but beneath his eyes, the fire petered out. I eyed his back warily.

"We need to get out of here." I muttered. Tally agreed, and in no time were were blocks away, and I was exchanging my extra jewels for some coin. That night, we stayed in an inn for the first time in years. And as Tally slept, I whispered my first prayer into the night.

"Look," I said. "I don't even know if you're real, or if I'm just talking to myself. But, if you are real, and if you do hear me, and if you even care, then I need your help. I can't protect Tally all on my own. It doesn't need to be the Dragon, though that would be great. But I'm sure he's busy a lot, so maybe one of his helpers, or someone he knows. Tally deserves something better, some life better than this, and I don't think I can do that for him. So please, if you could, I need your help for him."

That done, I curled up behind him, and slept.

The third lesson of Tanchico is: It doesn't matter how much gold or jewels you steal, if there's no food, there's no food. Four summers after we arrived in the city a blight swept through the farmland to the east, causing severe shortages in crops. It wasn't so bad at first, but as harvest came and went, it became more and more noticeable. There hadn't been enough to build up stores for the winter, and shortly after Firstday, the first of the food riots erupted on the Maseta, in the King's Circle. In the end, this only made food harder to come by, and no amount of jewel-thieving or well-paid murders could change that.

The other problem was, I was taller than I had been the last time I'd had to steal food, and so more noticeable. Merchants kept a sharper eye on their stalls, as well, until pinching a turnip was almost more trouble than it was worth. We rationed our food carefully, but in the end, it didn't matter. The days became more frequent that we had nothing to eat. Tally never complained, always stating his confidence that I was doing my best, but that only made me feel worse. I could see him getting weaker before my eyes, no matter how cheerful he tried to be. I could protect him from the evil of men, but it seemed I couldn't protect him from the cruel face of nature.

One day, after two days of failure, I was finally reaching the end of my desperation. I stood near the end of an alley way as I watched a baker across the street put a sparse number of steaming rolls to cool on a sill, well guarded by glass and wrought-iron lacing. They might as well have been on the moon for all my ability to get to them. But even across the street, I could smell them, their warm-yeast scent drifting easily on the chilly breeze, and I had to swallow several times to keep from drooling. My breath steamed in the air, the bone-piercing cold made worse by the hunger.

I really wanted those rolls, so very much. I couldn't bear to return empty-handed to Tally once again, and those rolls really would be quite a treat. So soft, so warm! I stared at them so long I thought my belly would chew right through my spine and then suddenly, with no warning, two rolls disappeared from the sill, and reappeared in my hands!

I was so startled I fell over into the alley behind me, the two rolls before my disbelieving face. I quickly scrambled up, tucking them into my tunic as I ran away. I was so distracted by my joy – two warm rolls to bring back!-- that I never noticed the braided man in black, following me on perfectly silent feet.

Tally and I were in a new hole, a small abandoned shop just big enough for the two of us, and I scrambled in with a grin.

"Tally! Look what I got!"

He raised his eyes with a grin which got wider as he caught the roll I tossed him. I watched as his mouth opened to take a bite, but he suddenly froze, eyes focused behind me.

I became aware of warmth in the air behind me, a shadow reflected in Tally's eyes, and drew my knife a I spun, intent on a damaging blow at least. But it never landed, my entire right arm and hand freezing mid-strike as the air solidified.

Before my nose stood a tall man, dressed in solid black. I craned my head to look up, noting the large fiery diamond set into the silver sword, the red enameled dragon on the other side of his neck. Asha'man. Here, in our little hole. And he'd stopped my blade with a thought.

"I'm afraid I can't let you finish that attempt," he chuckled. "Although, I must admit, had I not been able to stop you, that would have been quite troublesome. Quite. Flinn would never let me hear the end of it, and the man talks enough as it is."

He stepped around me, the silver bells in his twin braids sparkling in the afternoon sunlight that made its way into our hole. I had no idea why he had come in, but I did know that he had just stepped between my brother and me.

"You stay away from Tally!" I snarled, twisting around enough to nearly dislocate my arm. No matter how much I pulled and tugged, my arm remained caught in the air like a fly in amber. No matter-- I'd killed people before without touching them, and I knew – I knew-- I could do it again. I reached, and pulled, and pushed-- and felt everything sliced neatly to pieces.

"Hmmm, protective. . ." he mused, eying me like a wild animal. I suppose part of me was a wild creature at the time. "Do not fear, boy. I have neither intent nor desire to cause harm to yourself or your . . ." he looked at Tally. "He looks to be your brother. I do not wish to harm either of you. I was simply wondering who it was who had channeled."

I growled, but Tally cocked his head, shrugged, and bit into his roll. "It makes sense, Sean," he mumbled around the bread. "And if he wanted to hurt us, I think he would have started by now." He looked at me then. "And he's got no reason to try to lure us into a false sense of security, either. Being Asha'man and all. . ."

I took a deep breath. Tally had always been good at reading people, and prone to thought when I would rush in. I admitted that he had a point. But that man was still between myself and my brother, and the mere idea made me twitch.

"Let me go," I said, sullenly. "If you mean us no harm, let me go."

Slowly, gently, my arm was released. I still wanted to gut the man on general principle, but he'd shown that would be impossible.

"So, you were just curious, and followed me all the way back here. " I rubbed ruefully at my shoulder. "Well, you've seen me, you can leave now."

His eyes didn't waver, but the dark depths seemed to spark with warmth as smiled. "Just like that? I don't suppose you've ever given thought to training that ability of yours? Or was that the first time? If so, the sickness will catch up to you eventually. . ."

"Nah, he already did that--"


Tally blinked, then scowled at me. "He did! After our-- well, after, there was a cliff, and everyone but us was smashed to pieces, but we were alright! But then, on the boat, Sean was really sick, almost all the way to here!"

"Impressive," the man nodded his head.

"And then, later, there we these men one day, who came by when Sean was out, and killed our whole gang except me, because they said I was the prettiest and--"

"Tally!" What was he thinking, telling a stranger all these things? But then, he frowned at me, again, and continued right on.

"-- and they were gonna hurt me, but then Tally came in, and he used his knives on the first few but he was sooooo angry he blew them up! And our home, but we got a new one and he protected me, which is why he's the best big brother anywhere!"

I saw how the man's expression stilled when Tally mentioned me "blowing men up." It was a haunted look, one that told me he knew exactly what Tally was talking about. His eyes were considering, now, as though weighing me on an invisible balance.

"You blew them up?"

I shrugged. "They were gonna hurt Tally." I made myself meet his eyes without flinching, and he seemed to come to a decision.

"You can protect him better with training. Come to the Black Tower, and no one will ever think to cause him harm again."

Tally nodded to me. For once he held his tongue, but I could hear him thinking that since we had intended to eventually go there anyway, this was our best chance. But still, this man had his own reasons, and I didn't trust him.

"What's in it for you?"

He laughed, then, the bells in his hair tinkling as his shoulders shook. "What's in it for me," he replied, "is that my lord won't have to skin me alive for abandoning an orphan in the streets."

There was more to it than that, but it's generally not wise to accuse an Asha'man of holding out on you. The hope he held before my eyes was the most tantalizing thing I'd seen in years, but trust is a hard thing for me to give. The family motto flashed through my head, and just barely tipped the scales.

"Fine. But we stop by the Court of the Lord of Wolves in Manetheren first."

Tally grinned, seeing my idea right away. Maybe I could trust this man, maybe I couldn't, but the Wolf Lord would know. And I was sure he'd help me. Father had been insistent on that point.

The Asha'man's face grew considering again, as though seeing me for the first time. "Manetheren? The Wolf Lord. . ." he looked into Tally's hopeful face. "Well, it's not entirely up to me, but I don't see my companion having much of an objection. I think we can do that. Is it a deal, then?"

"Hn." I grunted, then spat in my palm. He echoed the gesture, and we shook on it. "By the way, Sean, Tally, my name is Jahar Narishma. Most people call me Asha'man Jahar, but you needn't be so formal. Just Jahar will do."

It was only a few minutes before we were ready to leave. Tally was already set, our Treasure strapped to his back beneath his shirt as always, and I only needed to pick up the rest of my knives –some of them had once been Saro's, my backup lock picks, and a small pouch of jewels. Useless in a famine when a turnip cast silver and bread often cost gold, but useful in more normal circumstances. The knives were tucked away various places, the jewels down my tunic, and the lock picks up my sleeves. And at last, the roll which I hastily crammed in my mouth as I moved to leave.

I thought I'd be sad to leave our little hole, but as Tally took my hand, I found myself slightly hopeful, for the first time in years. At long last, there was a small chance that we might make it to Manetheren. And the shine in Tally's eyes made it quite easy to go. Perhaps, perhaps, we might finally find our way to safety.