A/N: ToM spoilers. Based on Aviendha's vision of the future.
I am dead. Don't notice me. I am dead. He thought, lying on the ground, immobile as a corpse. That was what he was pretending to be. A corpse. Like the ones strewn around him, mangled and blood-stained in the battle-churned dirt. If they found out he was alive, they really would turn him into a corpse. The sun was at its apex, sending rays like daggers to scald his abused body. Light that dazzled his mind and made thinking difficult.
"Shall I burn them?" asked the slurred voice of the sul'dam. He could not see her. His face was buried into the back of what had once been his friend Nickelson. Even as one fragment of his mind focused on the voices and on surviving this ordeal, another part mourned loudly in the recesses of his mind for what had been lost this day. "One of the men was a channeler. I couldn't see any flows. We should get rid of the shadow-tainted vermin!"
Saidin is clean! Aaron thought irately, through the haze of heat and light. The Dragon Reborn and the Great Healer of Malkier cleansed it!
"Whoever it was that channeled is dead," said a weary, gravelly voice. From his manner, Aaron understood that he was in command of the Seanchan troops that had destroyed his companions. Bloodlust crept into his thoughts, like tendrils of the Shadow itself.
Nickelson, Orvil, Pate, Eginor, Verindrail…So many! Light, all of them! Gone! Dead! They should die too! Those bloody Seanchan! Why should they continue living?
"Come, let us ride. If we hurry, we can make it to Cairhien before nightfall," the gravelly voice of the commander continued. Aaron painfully stuffed his grief away to listen. "No need to burn the bodies. We don't want every bandit in the vicinity to know we're here. And we may start a forest fire."
"That's an order," the commander said curtly, "The Queen has commanded our battalion and several others to reach Cairhien with all haste. And since your Kali is too weak to weave a gateway, we must use horses. I will not tolerate any further delays!"
Aaron heard the sound of hooves and knew that the commander had ridden away with the others. He didn't need to see her face to tell that the sul'dam was affronted. An insult to the strength of her damane was an insult to her. But she too left with her captive channeler, following the group, leaving Aaron injured and bleeding in the dirt that was littered with carnage. Leaving Aaron alive.
He was too numbed from the events of the last hour to feel much relief. He had been the lone channeler of his group of about sixty men. They had been on their way to the Traveling ground from where they would journey to a secret meeting of some of the surviving Asha'man. The Black Tower still lived. It had not been attacked as heavily as the White Tower had, and factions of the broken Tower still continued to fight. But he was in no condition to go anywhere now. And his absence would be noted. The meeting would be moved in case any information he possessed had been compromised. No point in any of it now. In all likelihood, he would die anyway. He had already lost a great deal of blood from the gashes on his arms and face. One of his legs was broken and pains in his chest told him that at least one of his ribs was in a similar state. I should have killed them. He thought again. But it did no good. The battalion had caught them completely off guard. Running into a Seanchan patrol on this of all nights, when they had so short a distance to travel! He cursed his luck. He had tried to channel, but the sul'dam and damane had noticed right away and had destroyed his men within the hour with lightening and earthquakes. Nickelson, Orvil, Pate, Egin...
There. Movement. Were they back? His mind was too hazy to make sense of the figure that ambled among the dead, bending down beside each man. Nickelson. He began again, listing the names of his departed comrades. Orvil, Pate…
With a start, he realized that he was on his back, a face peering at him appraisingly, shielding him from the blazing light of the sun, which looked absurdly like a halo surrounding her. He closed his eyes to the sight. He felt gentle but sure fingers on his wrist, testing for vital signs. He heard a gasp, and suddenly his whole body jerked like he had just been doused in something cold. His teeth chattered and his eyes opened long enough to make out a young woman with long, dark tresses, her face obscured and holding promise of something unknown.
"Shhh, you're safe" whispered the girl, the Aes Sedai, after he tried to open his mouth. "I am Stephania Malone. You will be tired after a healing like that. Go to sleep." Her voice was kind and soothing as bonds of air took him lightly around his waist and arms and legs and a gateway for Skimming opened up in front of them. Aaron said goodbye to his friends before his eyes closed and he fell asleep in the bonds.
"The Aiel," began Queen Solvinia, but she was cut off by the man who reclined across from her.
"Another effort must be made to exterminate them," said the man, either unaware or uncaring that he had just interrupted the Queen of Andor and Cierhien, and the de facto leader of a third of the lands this side of the Spine of the World, descended from the Dragon himself. He was the leader of the Deathwatch Guards, answering only to the Empress herself or one of her Seekers for Truth. Solvinia let it go. "My scouts tell me they have begun to breed again and are upsetting trade to Shara."
"I see," answered Solvinia coolly, quashing the urge to raise her hand and touch her golden hair or her dress. The man gave her chills. The way he talked of people as he would animals and how his eyes and his tone never changed even as he contemplated killing on such a vast scale made her want to run from him. "Is that why you took the liberty of commandeering my soldiers? I hear that you sent out a summons to many of my troops in the vicinity. I was not consulted."
"I did not think it necessary," he stated in that same cool tone.
"I merely meant that you and I should be on the same page. It will benefit all of us if we work together."
"I will do what I feel is best for the benefit of the Empress, may she live forever."
Solvinia said nothing, but inside she seethed. The Dark One take his bloody Empress!
A/N: Tell me if you think I should continue. I own nothing.