To the Waste

Tyrin and Mat set off next morning. Since Elayne had never been to the Thunder's Nest, she had someone make a gateway to the closest spot they could find. Equipped with two horses, eight water skins, and anything else they packed, they stepped into the abandoned Three-Fold Land.

Tyrin had ignored heat for years, but the sun was relentless in the Waste, worse than any summer he had seen. Within seconds he and Mat were both sweating buckets. "I never did like this place." Mat muttered as they rode. "Hot, desolate, empty. Nothing at all like a good tavern…" He trailed off, lost in his fantasy. Tyrin wished he could have gone somewhere colder, like Shienar. It was a really pleasant place to him, especially with all the Shadowspawn gone.

They camped for the night underneath a rocky alcove, checking for scorpions and the like. The temperature dropped incredibly fast and far, and had they not brought three blankets, they might have frozen to death. The next morning came, and they set off once more.

A few days into their journey, they found a water hole. They re-filled their skins and gave the horses a drink. Opening his pack, Tyrin grimaced. "Running a bit low on food, Mat. How are your rations?"

Mat checked. "Same. We need to restock soon. I used to hunt a lot when I was younger, back in the Two Rivers." Tyrin thought of his own past, growing up somewhere deep in the Braem Wood. He'd been hunting game since he was six.

"Well, let's stop here and rest for a day or two. With a water hole like this around, plenty of animals should come here to. Rest the horses, ourselves, and restock our food supplies." Tyrin said. Mat nodded at the idea. They made camp on a low hill not far from the hole. Before long, a large boar-like beast came to take a drink. Tyrin used his bow and killed it from their camp. Mat glanced curiously at the bow.

"Where did you get that? That's a Two Rivers bow." He asked.

"I visited the Two Rivers a few months ago. When Perrin found out I was your friend, he was excited and offered me a gift. A true bow, he called it, not the shortbow you have now. Well, after a week or two of training, I had it down pretty well. It's saved my life multiple times already." He explained. Mat nodded.

"So how is the Two Rivers doing? I heard rumors and stories, but nothing completely solid." Mat asked.

"It's prospering greatly. Many people go there, and it is becoming quite a trade center. Perrin is doing a fine job of being a High Lord. I just…ah, never mind."

"Never mind what?" Mat asked sharply.

"Nothing. Just wishful thinking about something Perrin has and I don't that would be really helpful…" he trailed off once more. Suddenly he stiffened. Was that…yes it was. "Hey Mat?" he murmured.

"Yeah?" Mat responded, lowering his voice.

"Don't look around or anything like that, but we're surrounded." Tyrin whispered.

"Are you sure? How many?" Mat asked.

"Eight, I'm guessing. Not overly hostile or they would probably have attacked already. Just keep your weapon ready and attack on my signal." He finished, then stared off into the distance. On the outside, he was as relaxed as he could be, which wasn't very relaxed, but on the inside, his mind was flying, analyzing fight scenes, planning out the whole fight before it began. With a sinking feeling, he realized that there was only one out of twenty or so outcomes in which they could win.

He memorized that one, discarded the others, and laid out a scope of the surrounding area. There were eight, and they were getting closer. He thanked his father for teaching him those skills and yelled, "Now!"

He and Mat leaped up and rushed the Aiel slowly approaching. They rose from the ground to return attack. Drawing his sword, Tyrin whirled among them, blade flying. He was a whirlwind of steel. He felt a solid jolt as his sword crashed into a spear. His foot lifted of its own accord and kicked the spear's owner in the stomach. Spinning, he swung again, but felt something hard hit him on the inside of the wrist.

The sword dropped from his hand, but he launched immediately into fist-fighting. His foot connected with the side of an Aiel's head, dropping him. "Agh!" Mat's cry echoed behind Tyrin. He spun around to see Mat slammed into a boulder, an Aiel pressing a knife to his neck. Tyrin took two steps forward and felt someone grab his shoulders. He instantly bent over forwards as far as he could and rolled. The Aiel on his back flipped with him, and Tyrin landed on top of him.

Tyrin scrambled to his feet but before he was all the way up, a fist crashed into his stomach, knocking him flat. He rolled on his back and attempted to struggle to his feet. He groaned as someone stepped on his already hurt wrist, then froze as he or she held a spear to his throat. "Who are you?" it challenged in a female voice.

"Tyrin and Mat." Tyrin responded. He was not about to mess around with an angry Aiel who could kill him before he could blink.

"What are you doing in the Three-Fold Land, especially this far south?" she snarled.

"What are you doing here? I thought the Aiel were the police of the world now." He responded, and she increased pressure on his neck.

"Don't try me." She growled. "Now tell me, why are you here."

"We lost a friend and we're trying to get him back." Mat said before Tyrin could say anything. "Just killed a boar for our troubles. What did you do today?" Tyrin rolled his eyes.

"He has spirit."Another Aiel said.

"Hey, wait a minute!" the one with a knife to his throat said. "This is Matrim Cauthon!" She released him immediately with a laugh. "Matrim Cauthon, it's been too long. How have you been?" They all smiled at him.

"Oh, you know. Just trying to help my wife rule a bloody kingdom. Or kingdoms, more like." He grimaced, touching his throat. "But really, why are you guys here instead of policing the world?"

One of them looked a bit grim at this. "Trouble has been brewing here. We came to see what was happening." She said. Tyrin glared impatiently at Mat.

"Uh, Mat? A little help here?" he asked, aware of how his hand was going numb from the Aiel woman's boot. Mat nodded at her, and she stepped off him. Tyrin sat up and nursed his wrist back to awareness.

"Who is this?" she asked.

"I'm Tyrin." Tyrin answered, climbing to his feet.

"You fight well. Better than any wetlander I've ever met." She said approvingly. He grinned.

"Thanks. I needed pretty much all my life." He told her. "Are you guys camped nearby?"

By now, all of their veils had been lowered. All but two were women. One of the men answered, "Yes, we have set up camp just beyond that ridge." He said pointing. Tyrin noticed a bruise blooming on the side of his head. "Come with us, and bring all of your stuff. We have stuff to discuss."