Posted by Barid Bel on March 10 and 21, 1998 on WoT Alliance BBS
Category: WoT Third Age

Barid's PoD Prologue

Version 2

The Story Part 1:

Min had never been so happy in her life, had never been so worried, never so full of fear. She paced the length of the room for hours already, she doubted if she could stand still without exploding. As usual Rand filled her thoughts. Even before she made him admit that he is in love with her, being near him was all what she needed to make herself overjoyed. Now that he said he love her, she felt as if her heart will beat itself through her chest whenever he was near. He had tried to deny his love to her, and to Elayne and this Aviendha she never met before, but she rushed that by, it was easy. She really didn't want to think about it. But he had as much choice as she herself had; none. She had done it at least a hundred times since he had gone with his Asha'man to kill Sammael, eight or nine hours ago, but she had called all the memories she had from him, every last one. Sad or happy, she summoned them all.

She met him first at Baerlon, when he came together with Moiraine and Lan and Perrin and Mat and Egwene. She liked him from the beginning, even before see saw that she is going to fall in love with the man. She had never seen anything about herself not before nor after. Nothing! Why the only viewing she had ever had that had some meaning was of three women crying over his body. How could she love a man while she knew he was going to die? But after she talked to him in the first time she already knew, already started to love him. It was madness!
She knew practically nothing about the man, except that he was going to tear the world apart. She had always wished to find herself in some kind of adventures, but certainly not one that was going to make her name hated for ages. Lews Therin Kinslayer died three thousand years ago and was still mentioned as the main cause for the breaking, the last thing she wanted was to be in love with a man that will do it again. And it only become worse after they all left in the middle of the night. And when she thought about it afterward the only one thing that could make any sense that she thought about was that Rand must be the Dragon Reborn. The thought made her laugh then, she never thought that the horrified Dragon Reborn would be a backward farm boy.
But she did go to the library on Baerlon; small one but they had a tatter copy of the prophecies of the dragon. And she read all of them, she meant to find some prove that he wasn't Lews Therin Kinslayer reborn. Only, the things she read there only confirmed her suspicion. She saw a sword that isn't a sword and a laurel crown with swords around him. And the others, the things she hadn't told him.
The dragon's fang and the flame of Tar Valon joined together on field of blood. And a heron flying over his head. She knew that he could channel since the first time she saw him. A black aura that was visible to her alone spoke of madness and death that would follow him wherever he would go. And that wasn't even the worst thing she saw. She learned long ago that when she know something it happen, but to have to share a man with two women she never even saw. A fair hair and blue eyes woman with dignity that could have easily match the sun, the great serpent ring on her finger and a green shawl on her shoulders. An Aes Sedai, but no Aes Sedai would even think of helping any man that can channel, even if he was the Dragon Reborn.
And a woman with red hair and blue-green eyes, in dark silk and an ivory bracelet she held while she cried on Rand's corpse. The bracelet was important to the woman more than her life that was all she understood from that viewing. But she had no intention of falling in love with a man that was going mad if he wouldn't gentled. And no intention at all of sharing any man at all with any other woman. But she hadn't have the choice, and as the days passed she started missing him, she saw him for less than two hours, and was in love with him. Tied to him as much as his belt. And then she got the letter from Moiraine, commanding her to come to the White Tower. She went there as much because of she want to know what happened to Rand as because of the Aes Sedai's command. She half feared to find him there, the red would have gentled him no matter who he was suppose to be. And half expected to see him there.
And in the Tower she found one of the women that came with Rand, Egwene. She loved him then, and he her. But she had known that they didn't belonged to each other. And a second woman, Elayne Tarkand, the second women she saw when she looked at Rand.
She had tried to treat it like a joke since the day she first saw it. It wasn't possible that the Dragon Reborn would love a woman, no matter what she felt for him. And it was less than possible that she let herself caught by a man that was as good as mad or death.

She tried that for a very long time, she even succeed to make herself laugh at that once or twice. And for all her determination to not let herself even think of Rand, when she saw him on Falme; when he walked across the skies, setting them aflame, all her stubbornness of not letting herself loving the man faded.How could she let herself doing so? But that was that, she couldn't laugh at it anymore. And she watched him fight with a man who had a face from fire, watched him walk on screens of fire while a golden and crimson creature that glitter as the sun waved behind him. She had understood then that all that left for her was to surrender. The wheel weaves as the wheel wills. And for some reason the wheel wanted her in love with that man, though she had no idea why. She saw the fight on the sky, watched Ba'alzmon speaking words that terrified her thought she didn't understood their meaning, watched Rand answering him in the same way. Saw how Ba'alzmon's spear stabbed the man she loved, saw him disappearing from the sky. And only then she became really aware of what was going on around her. The Seanchans fought against the Heroes of the Horn, she saw Artur Hawkwing cutting off the head of a soldier of his offsprings. Saw Gaidal Cain with his two swords and Birgitte with her silver bow, and the man that fought with the sword of the sun must have been Amaresu. She saw all the heroes she heard on the stories, but she barely noticed that more than one moment or two. As soon as Rand and Ba'alzmon disappeared see felt something dragging her as if she was tied with a string. As she was, in a manner of speaking.

When she reached Rand and saw him, she first felt joy for him being alive and than worry when she understood that he might not stay that way long. She dragged him into a servant's room in the building she found him. And saw Lanfear, during her days on the Tower she read every thing she could about Lews Therin Telamon, and she knew that Lanfear was once his lover. She had never even considered that the woman might want her lover back, more than three thousands years after he died in sorrow of killing his wife. She also never considered what would happen, had the woman known what she felt for Rand. The books only said that Lanfear hated Lews Therin's wife, and she didn't think that the woman would accept easily that she had more chances than the Forsaken to be Rand's wife. But one thing she viewed on the woman, that made her stomach to icy stone; Rand would have to confront her one-day, and she didn't see anything that would hint on the winner, only that Lanfear would hurt him.

When Nynaeve and Elayne and Egwene arrived she hid it from them, hid it from all save Moiraine. Which only listened and said nothing, sometimes the Aes Sedai 's serenity made her want to strangle her. She had stayed near Rand when he slept, stayed till Moiraine told her she could go to sleep or be dragged to bed. And she was back as soon as her eyes opened. Rand woke up only four days later, when they already were in the mountains of mist. And when he saw how the others in the camp treated him he could not even stay near them without wanting to vomit. She understood him, maybe more then she wanted, she could have pictured easily how she would have done if anyone would look at her as if she was the light itself.
She and Lan and Moiraine and Perrin was the only ones which treated him like a human being, and she was the only one that was never afraid of being around him. After the Trollocs attacked the camp, after she saw how Rand behavedÖ she had 0never seen him so hopeless before, nor after. Never so ready to die and end it all.
On that night he disappeared, going to Tear in the hope he could touch callandor, and she went to the Tower to inform Suian about it. To inform the Amirlyn, that was all what she intended to do, but she stayed there, trapped because of a man and love. And during all her time in the Tower she saw nothing that could point out even one black sister. She cursed him a lot during those seemingly endless days. She hoped desperately for something that might get her out of the Tower and near him. Though she hadn't prayed for what happened. But Suian and Leane were both stilled, and they escaped the Tower. Suian, Leane, Logain and she, fleeing Elaida and the Tower as fast as they could. And the only thing that kept her from going as unaware of the world as Logain became was a viewing she told nobody of. Elaida stand, with dozens of others Aes Sedai, in front of a tall, reddish hair man. Rand, she was sure thought she couldn't see his face, and screamed as if her soul was taken away from her. She thought it could be for kneeling to a man, after all Elaida was red.

After they fled the Tower and reached Salidar she met Elayne, and told her what she kept hidden for so long. And they had agreed that they would share Rand, though none of them knew who the third woman might be and none of them liked the idea of sharing him. And when the embassy went to Rand she went with them, she could have stayed in Salidar. Had Elayne asked her she would have, she thought she would have. The urge to go to Rand might have been too great for her to refuse it. But Elayne never asked, and she thanked the light for that, she only asked her to give Rand a letter.
So she went to Rand then, and he told her of Elayne and of a woman called Aviendha. He never mentioned herself but she was sure, sure beyond any reason that he loved her too. She thought her heart might stop when she realized that the joy and the shock she felt she had barely hid. But all that gone in flush when Rand said that he didn't see her as a woman! The bloody man thought of her as if she wasn't a woman! With anybody else she might have pass it by, she really didn't what others thought of her. But him! She wanted him to think of her as a woman, wanted him to see her as one. Had the man slapped her face for hours he couldn't hurt her more than that little remark had.
But just being near Rand had a strange affect on her, she couldn't be angry on him for long, not for any reason. The hours she spend with Rand passed as quickly as the hours away from him refused to pass. She had great pleasures from teasing him, and she could find something to fill the hours away from him. But when the Aes Sedai decided to challenge Rand, for a reason he and she still didn't know, and when the number of the Aes Sedai had reached thirteen, she felt fear as she had only once before, when he told her what thirteen Aes Sedai can do to any man in Falme, when she thought he was going to die. He told her then that he will send her away for her to be safe, she didn't understood why this mad her feel so warm inside and in the same time so angry, but when he added that he would cut off his hand before hurting herÖ She knew that he couldn't view, nobody else save her seemed to be able to do that, but she suspected that he might have a foretelling, if Aes Sedai could foretell why not man that could channel. She saw a hand when she first met him, a severed hand that she thought was his. A hand that she knew will be severed because of something he would do for one of them, the three woman that love him.

On Cairhien she felt that life slow down, Rand met nobles, and ruled the country. She teased him and kissed him, every thing seemed to go well, save that he sometime became bleak, and in others he seemed to be talking to something nobody save him could hear. She could do nothing in both cases, so she tried to ignore them both, without really succeeding. But beside that she doubted if life could have been better, maybe if she finally manage to make him admit that he is in love with her. She spend the days trying to satisfy both him and the Wise Ones, she thought that if viewing had taken a physical effort she might have collapsed the first day. As it was, she did collapse, from tiredness as much as of discussing of all the things she saw. Rand set there beside her after that, as she had done when he fainted when he closed the waygate to Cairhien. Then she thought of a hundreds ways to tell him that she loves him, thousands ways to make him admit that he loves her. Every last one of them would have make her aunts skin her and him, in strips and very slowly. When the Aes Sedai kidnapped him she actually considered trying some of them!
The Aes Sedai caught her in her way to Rand, and for days she didn't even know they held him too. She was sure he would come to save her, sure of that. And when she found out that they held him too, about three days after they gone from the city, she worried too much for him to be miserable as she was before. When he found that she in the camp, thoughÖ she shivered and told herself that it was long past now. But the pictures welled up in her despite her efforts to ignore them. Rand being beaten after he had gone mad and killed the warders, Rand stuffed inside the small box. The Aes Sedai had beaten him every morning and sunset. They beat her too, for not answering as they wanted, but they made her watch when they had beaten Rand.
But far worst was the day when they were attacked, she was left without a watcher and as soon as she could she went to Rand, if there was a time to help him free himself it was then. Only, when she reached the box she heard something exploding and piece of the chest hit her hard enough to trample her down. She recognized it and her heart became empty, a vast waste. Tears streamed down her face and grief that she thought would crush her, a bleakness that was so strong it left nothing else. Colder from inside than she ever believed anyone could be, emptier than she thought possible. Rand was the entire world for her, filling her from inside in life. He was gone now, never to return. She never even told him she loved him. She was turned by someone, she didn't care who or why, she didn't care for a thing right then. Rand is dead! The thought bought another wave of sobs, and returned tenfold stronger. Rand is dead and I never even told him I love him!
She stared at the one who turned her over without really seeing him till now and then she gasped. Rand! Alive! She said something then, after that she could never remember what, she only remember the warmth and joy that came instead of the grief she felt earlier, came ten time as strong as the bleakness. She still cried, but now the tears were of joy and not of that deadly empty feeling. He burned the cords that held her, and help her stand; he looked so weak then. So unlike the Dragon Reborn in a tatter shirt and breaches; yet his face was expressionless and cold enough to make winter heart look worm; and his eyes were full of concern and fury, the concern was for her, the fury for the Aes Sedai. He seemed to relax when he saw that she was fine, he didn't even care for himself, a strange oddity in him, he never seemed to care for his own life. She had never saw something more beautiful than his face while he helped her to stand, her knee trembled, the relief had weaken them. But even with weak knees she was still stronger than he was at the moment, so she wrapped her arms around him to help him stand. What she really wanted was to be sure he wasn't only an illusion, to be sure that he won't disappear.

He straightened and moved from her, his face was all calm again, as it always was when she saw him channeling. He scanned the border of the camp, and whenever he looked at an Aes Sedai she fell from her saddle to the ground. She wanted to leave this place; she didn't understand why he didn't just make one of those bloody holes in the air and jumped through. The Aes Sedai might just lock him again if he would stay there long enough. But the Aes Sedai fell and chaos took over the camp. Aiels and Cairhienins and Mayieners were every where suddenly. She clutched Rand and she could almost see the thought on Rand's head, he looked everywhere with eyebrows up. From him, while he channeled, it was like somebody else fainting from shock, and then glanced at her and shocked his head slightly. Obviously he thought that he might had gone mad, but decided that he isn't when he saw that she saw the men too. A group of Aiels came close to them; one of them raising a spear as if to throw it on them and flames suddenly burst out of them, burning them down. And Gawyn appeared in front of them, offering her a way out of the camp, as if she would have take it without Rand. But Gawyn didn't know that she love Rand; Rand himself didn't want to admit it. When she told Gawyn that his sister is in love with Rand she felt Rand stiffening, she couldn't understand why. He was in love with her too, why did he refuse to admit it. She passed the memories of the battle on Dumai's Well quickly, she didn't really want to remember how the earth raised to kill the Shaido, or the day after the battle, when Rand searched through the bodies for the maiden that died in the battle. She also really didn't want to remember what happened to Colavare.

But she did dwell upon her memories after she found what the once queen had done to herself. They were the memories she treasured most. But the way Rand reacted to what they didÖ she hadn't even thought of resisting him, why did he thought he raped her?
He had closed himself from the world for four days and would have more hadn't she came and talked with him. She didn't understand why and didn't think she ever would. She came and talked to him, she hadn't even linked his shutting himself of the world to what happened, but to find out that he thought he raped her was a shock. But when she considered what to do then she knew that just telling him that no matter what he had done it wasn't rape and never could be won't work with him. He would just assume that she lied in order to make him feel better, so she pretended to be angry with him, well she didn't have to pretend much. And the look on his face was priceless!
But then he said that he loves her and all the anger drained right out of her. That he said her what she dreamed of hearing from almost the first day she knew him made her want to kiss him, to hugged him, to comfort him again, to scream from the pure joy she felt. All at once and all jumbled together so she could decide what to do first. After he said he love her she felt as if she walked on clouds. The pleasure she felt when she was near him seemed to be doubled since he admitted that he loved her, and doubled again when she could finally tell him that she loves him too without fearing that he would try to send her away. He tried it anyway, of course, but it wasn't really hard to make him see that he needed her with him. So she stayed and he went to the Sea Folk's ship. Not before he made her tell him about the viewing that she had hidden from him, she still didn't understood why she gave up in that fashion. She feared that the viewing will make him bleak again, he became bleak too often as it was any way, but instead he laugh! The man would have probably laughing had she told him that he was going to die tomorrow! He never seemed to care one little bit about himself! Didn't care when he was wounded or hurt or too weak to stand! But letting her to try to make something when he thought she was unable to do it, that he can't allow, she might hurt herself. As if he wouldn't have done twice in her case as she would have done, going to kill Sammael when he could barely stand! Had she taken a cold he wouldn't have let her ten paces out of the bed! And it was worse because she could do nothing to stop him whenever he tried to make sure she was safe. And she would do it, the foolish things that woman did when they were in love!
He never explained her what he thought was funny in that viewing, and she couldn't ask him. And when they went to the See Folk; and every thing seemed to be going all right. Every thing. But then he came out with the bloody idea of going to the rebels, that nearly killed him, and the scar he got from Fain's dagger hadn't healed yet. It did eliminate the rebel in both Tear and Cairhien, but she didn't care if another rebel would have started on Andor too if she could forget those horrible two days when she thought he might die any moment. To forget the even more frightening hours she had at the moment. Hours she spent thinking about any thing that might have gone wrong and leave him to the Forsaken's mercy. She and Rand talked about many things, and one of them was the Forsakens, and from what she understood none of them had that particullar quality.
When her mind pictured a hundred disasters, and there was no way to know what happened, no way to know whatever he was even alive. She thought before that when he lied on the edge of death was the worse in her life, now she found out how much she mistaken that. That she didn't know what happened drove her to the edge of madness. She continued pacing the length of the room, her thoughts full of Rand and worries. The sun had already disappeared from the horizon when the door opened. And to the room entered the last two women in the world she could have think of.


The Story Part 2:

Aviendha leaned on the wall of the throne room in Illian watching a woman in livery rushing out of the room, they might have been a little to rush with her, but only a little, though. Her knees were week from relief. She was so wary for Rand alíThor, so afraid he might be dead by Sammael and his own stubbornness. Why did he need to hunt down the Forsaken when he was barely able to rise from bed? Why the mighty caríaícarn hadnít had the slightest bit of care for his life? Those were questions she doubted if she would ever find answers for.
But Rand bloody alíThor was safe. After he had worried her and Elayne and Min half way to death. Burn the man! She thought grimly. He had no right to make me that frighten, Iím not a girl anymore. That was true enough, she wasnít a girl anymore. Only a woman in love, and when she will see Rand al'Thor again she was sure she would posses less common sense than a child six years old. Elayne and Min were with her, but none of them showed any sigh that they were affected by what they just heard from the servant. Rand al'Thor is the king of Illian, and Lord Brend, Sammael was death. This wasnít the sort of news Aviendha could have taken without being shocked, though she tried to hide it. And was sure that she succeeded far less than her near-sisters. She pushed herself from the wall firmly and started trotting toward the gilded doors of the throne room., Elayne and Min gave a start when she started moving but followed her stride for stride. None of them wanted to delay their meeting with Rand.
As they walked on the halls of the palace they were silent, none wanted to talk, each wrapped in her own thoughts. They had talked enough when they waited for Rand al'Thor. And only three hours after sunset it was when she suggested that they might want to go to Illian, to see if Rand al'Thor was safe. If he was, they were just torturing themselves. She had done enough of that when she had to pretend that she felt nothing for Rand al'Thor when her heart ached when she was near him. When she had to fight herself for every heartbeat not to tell him how she felt for him. It was enough for her entire life, more than that. The thought came dryly, but she pushed it away roughly, she didnít wanted to remember.
But if Rand al'Thor had lost for the Destroyer of HopeÖ they might be able to help him if he was still fighting. Or ant least try to revenge him if he lost. That was a way she didnít want her thoughts to take, she would have prefered to be stilled and not to lose Rand al'Thor.
She didnít want to remember all the time she had been forced to be near Rand al'Thor. The memories were too painful, to live in lie wasnít a thing she could do very well, or enjoy of. And for the better part of her time with Rand al'Thor that was exactly what she had to do. It wasnít that there werenít happy moments with him, but that they were too few. Far too few, and nothing she could do about it. Nothing that jiíeítoh would have allowed anyway, and she wouldnít have broken jiíeítoh. She tried to force the memories down but they came anyway, without her wanting it, she would see Rand al'Thor soon, she could finally tell him what she felt for him. Tell him that she loved him, tell himÖ
She loved the man so much for such a long time, never telling him that she loved him, always cold and bitter. Most of the time she was near him she tried to make him hate her and her worse fear was that she managed to do that. Memories welled up, also about Rand, his smile and face, the way he moved. Every memory she had on him crossing her head.
She sank deeper on the soft bed, almost sleeping and let Rand cross her mind. She knew that she will fell in love with him since the first day at Rhuidean. He belonged to Elayne, yet the rings never lied, and she fell in love with him. All that was needed was to be near her for the journey to cold rock hold, after that she was caught. Caught in a leash the bloody man put around her heart without even to notice. However hard she tried to make herself hate him, she always found out that he somehow managed to make her love him. And however hard she tried to make herself hated in Rand alíThorís eyes the more he seemed to like her. He tied her emotions in knot, had shaken her whole world and the man hardly noticed. She wanted to make him her, she could have done it. In that she was sure, all that she needed to do was to tell him she was in love with him. And the hours and the days she spent arguing with herself about it. He belonged to Elayne, she had the first claim and no matter what Rand had done to her heart. And on the other hand was that she couldnít be near him nor be away from him without wishing to be boil alive by Trollocs or fades. Compared to what the caríacarn had done to her it would have been pleasant.
What she didnít understand was why he liked her; he couldnít even suspect what she felt for him. And all she ever shown for him was hated or anger or cold, she hated the man and the more she hated him the more he liked her. But she had tried on Rhuidean to be away from him and what happen was that she felt as if he had taken a limb from her, felt an emptiness inside her if she was too far from him for too much time. And when she found Ishandre in his sleeping chamber, she thought that he was ready to go to bed with the woman. She would have killed them both without hesitating a moment. No woman save Elayne could have him. None. Not even she herself, and the man protected the wretch woman. And if the man dared to enter some woman to his bed, any woman at all save Elayne she had no doubt that she would kill her. She had hard time enough about stopping herself from him for Elayne, she would not for any other woman. jiíeítoh gave no other choice, for her the only chance to get him was to become a sister wife of Elayne and but what she managed to understand from Egwene there wasnít really a question of it here. Wetlander women donít share men. So there was no hope for her, save trying to convince Elayne to share Rand despite the customs of the wetlanders.
After that night the wise ones mad her sleep in his tent, and she learned what a torture was. Being close enough to touch him, only three paces from him and not stepping to him almost drove her mad. And every night she had to sleep with his breaths in her ears, listening to him, knowing that she could be in his embrace if jiíeítoh hadnít stopped her as well as a stone wall was the worst thing that ever happened to her. And it all became more difficult in her sleep; he hunted her in her dreams and never let her go, always following her no matter what she did.
And the tortures of being in his tent after what had happen to them in the snow were nothing compared to what she had to do to stop herself from coming to him every night. She knew that doing this will be a mistake, even that one time was a mistake even if a pleasant one. She had toh toward Elayne for that time, and she would not shame herself more in doing it again.
Yet every night she dreamed of it, it was the worst time in her life, and the sweetest till now. Now she could tell Rand that she love him, she wouldnít have to pretend that she was near him just because the wise ones mad her to. Unwanted, uninvited, a memory caught her, she could have as well ignore it as well ignore her needed for air.
Since she couldnít have taken a sweat tent in the city she thought Randís way of washing might worth trying. Only, when she was ready to begin Rand entered to the room, shocked as much as she, he stood there goggling at her and fear took her in his hold. She heard herself mumbling something, but what she saw was Rand, how he looked at her and saidar opened to her. She was never able to remember what she had done then, only that she was suddenly running through stabbing cold from him. To shield her honor, she had to run as far as she could from her. But he followed her even to here. And the cold slowed her down, and however hard she was trying to run she was slowing.
Frozen cold became solid when she suddenly found herself inside a river, the cold overwhelmed her body and she gave up eagerly, any thing at all was better than what chased after her. She felt the cold sipping into her, she was going to die and she couldnít make herself care.
She was on the edge of dying when a hand grabbed her hair pulling back to the air, back to life. She felt warm flesh touching her frozen, and Randís voice talked to her, about Elayne and a woman named Min, about his plans for the future and the last battle. About every thing he thought important and every thing the wise ones told her to find out.
But though the words burned on her heart all she was really aware of was his arms around her, her head lied on his chest and she could hear his heart beating. When she opened her eyes her body moved as if by its own, taking his head in her arms she pulled him toward her to kissed him. And the world was gone in pleasure, after some time, she wasnít sure how much only that it was considerable amount. She lied on his chest again, filled with warm and love that overpowered even saidar itself.
And only then she rose up from his embrace idly fingering the old wound in his side. She understoond that what they had done didnít really change anything. Only mad her toh toward Elayne far bigger than it was before.
She still had to hide what she felt for him, and though she managed to be more comfortable around him while they both were awake. The nights were far worse than before, and in her dreams she lived that night again and again. What really bothered her was how he was able to pretend that nothing changed between them, and how he was at his ease around her, while she felt as if she sat on a sharp rock.
She crossed the time between the night in the snow and the battle with the Shaido in a flash, there were only endless torture in those they. And on the day when the battle began the maiden managed to convince Rand to go to the tower with her and Egwene, instead of rushing to the battle like a fool. What really amazed her was how easy it was to make him change his mind, usually he was fool enough for any five men she had ever met, and stubborn enough for ten, well maybe twenty.
Until that day she had never seen Rand channelling enough to judge his strength, but on that day she saw him channel practically for all the day, and by the thing she had seen him doing there he was more than three time her strength. And in that day the man scared her more than she ever thought she could twice! When Sammael tried to kill them and she thought him dead and when she saw him arrive. Looking more than half death and collapsed like a corps. Moiraine healed him then but even the Aes Sedai couldnít be sure that he hadnít gentled himself. And the hours she sat there worrying about him. From what she heard about gentling and stilling they were only crueler than death. And on that time sitting on a pallet watching Rand sleeping with the gleeman, both locked in their worries and fears. She really didnít understand why Rand kept that man near him.
On those hours she understood that she didnít only loved the man butÖ it wasnít exactly respect but that was the closest term she succeeded to put on it, a respect that had nothing to do with that she loved him. She respected him for what he was, for what he had done. He ignored half a dozen wounds, and the weariness that came from channeling so much of the power, ignored every thing to do what he had thought was his duty. It didnít matter to him that what he had done almost killed him, on those seemingly endless hours when she watched him breathing, not knowing whatever this one might be his last, something changed in her. She was hopelessly in love with the man for a long time, but on those hours she understood that she would be able to live had he die. Had something happened to him some part of her would die, the part of her that belongs to him. But with all those feeling something else stayed in the back of her mind, he almost killed himself and that mad her so angry that she considered killing him herself. He had no right to do this to her, no right at all.
And when he did waked she was so relieve to see that he hadnít harm himself and so frustrate at his stubbornness that she want to hugged him and to slap his face till he look like ten sunsets. And after that when he walked into the great hall in the treekillersí palace, she watched him dominating the room, she felt so Ö proud of him. But then something happened there; his eyes grew stonier with each noble coming to him till his eyes shine with dark light. She saw that cold glint in his eyes and barely hid a shiver, she saw him like that before only when he tried to follow Sammael.
After that day she had to watch him closely. A stream of young women had tried to enter into his bed. She had rather enjoyed making the woman she found on their bedchamber running half-naked. And it was even funnier to make Colavare stop sending the women. But beside the women she had to chase the days were almost pleasant. Had she could have find Elayne and convince her to share Rand with her those days would have been perfect. But though Rand seemed to continue liking her all that end the day they all gone to Caemlyn.
When he had learned that Elayneís mother was dead she saw something that she had never thought of seeing in him, he usually had a good control on his emotions; but when Matrim told him that Morgase was dead, she saw fury strong enough to destroy the world. Yet even so she hadnít fear from him, she never feared him.
And the day after that she met Lanfear, she had never felt so vulnerable in her life. Never felt pain as much as the Daughter of the Night made her feel. But even when Rand cut off the flows that she could see but was in too much pain to even think of reaching saidar and sever them she felt fear that was no where near to what she felt when she thought she was going to die. The Forsakenís offer made her feel more pain than any that she felt when she was tortured. If Rand had accepted what Lanfear demanded of him she was sure she would have died. Through pain that only started to fade she saw Randís face when he answered Lanfear. His face frozen as they almost always was when he held saidin but his eyes was full of hate and scorn. She couldnít understand the answer, she thought it was in the old tongue, but from Randís face and the Forsakenís she could have guess what it was. She never felt that proud of him as she did then, never before and never after. And then Moiraine died and she was with Rand near the place where he made a hole into utter blackness and when she looked at his face she could have seen that he loved her, see what he felt for her as well as he felt it.
But on Caemlyn he disappears suddenly. One heartbeat he was where she could have seen him and the next he was gone; vanished into the air. But even when the fight went on she couldnít stop worrying about him. And then he came back, throwing those bars of solid fire all around him and the Trollocs gone he hugged her, swinging her into the air. That was the last time that he was ever warm toward her. Since that day he was always cold around her, always so hard. She hadnít understood any of this. But that was almost the last time she saw him showing a human emotion to her.
In the nights, when she watch his face silently, hard enough to be used as an anvil even while he slept she thought she found the answer. She thought at first that he was trying to avoid her to her safe, keeping her away from him so she couldnít be hurt by someone who want to strike him and might get her. That reason made her feel both angry enough to box his ears and warm enough so she wanted to kissed him.
It had taken her months to realize the real reason. And when she did, all what she wanted was to sit down and cry as a broken heart child. He hated her. She was sure of that. On the day the gray man try to kill him, she lectured him about toh and duty ó Hadnít the gray man appeared she would have told the man that she loved him, telling him everything. And he looked at her with expressionless face and eyes that shine as a morning sky. Looked at her and bit by bit his eyes become stone, and, only for a moment so quick that she could have imagine it hate forge up in his eyes. Never touching the face, the same look he directed to Lanfear. She couldnít stay there with him, not after that, and she practically run away from his presence, after she reach the garden she find a place where no one will find her and cried.
She cried until she had no more tears, until she almost fell asleep from exhaustion. There was no other way to hurt her more. Yet the worst of it was that she know that she deserved it, for the better part of the time she was near Rand she had tried to make him hate her. She had acted as if she hated him, no matter how much it hurt. jiíeítoh left her no other choice. She had tried to make him hate her and apparently she had done just that. She only wished that it hadnít hurt her so much.
And when she tried to come back to Randís rooms she almost cried again when she saw him, the man she loved, the man who hated her, he was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. And he hated her.

That thought hadnít left her, couldnít have left her. She fell asleep in the moment she was in her pallet, and dreamed about Rand, about that night when she run away from him. Only when she open her eyes in the dream she wasnít in Randís embrace. Randís body lied near her already stiffening lost forever for her, lost for what she had done. She woke to the sound of screams; screams that she first thought belonged to her. But it wasnít her that was screaming; Rand was there sleeping in the bed and screaming as if his soul had taken away from him. She was there as fast as she could, waking him up. No matter what he felt for her she still loved him. And to see him screaming was beyond her, but when she did succeed to wake him he only sat there holding her as if she was the last thing in the world. With face twisted in pain that she never even thought possible and eyes that looked as if saw every horror that ever happened to a man or a woman since creation. He started to talk to her, in voice that made his face and his eyes look cheer. He told her about the War of Power, about the forsaken and the Dark One. He talked about Parran Disen and the Hall of Servants and a hundred other places. He talked about Lanfear and Ilyena, about saidin and the taint. About the time he forsook the light and had gone into the Pit of Doom to swear fealty to the Dark One on the third year of the War of Shadow. He spoke about how he led armies of shadowspawn and shadowrunners in numbers that she could barely imagine to a trap that save the light. He talked about the arguments on the Hall of Servant, about a woman he called Latra Posas. He said her name with as much hate as he gave Ishmaelís. He told her about the day when he gather the Hundred Companions to attack Shyol Ghul, and the taint that was the result. About how he killed all those he cared about and cared about him. He talked about the Betrayer of Hope. And that he had been healed to see what he had done. He told her that he killed himself for that when he understood what he had done in madness. He even told her about the world of dreams, about waking form what he wanted to be an eternal sleep. Without dreams or nightmares to make him relive that day when he lost all what he had. About endless years without end or dying, about grave that had eaten him. He told her all that while tears streamed down his face and sobs shaked his body. Crying on her shoulder he finishes his story. She stroke her fingers through his hair, whispering words that she knew were useless. Rocking back and forth with his head on her shoulder she had put her head on his shoulder and cried quietly.
Not for all those long dead men and women he cried about but for the man she loved. For the man that had to carry all that weight on him for so long and for all the things she could have done differently to change the outcome of the events. She felt him falling asleep on her shoulder, and covered him gently with a blanket. Then she sat herself on the bed, cross legs and put her chin between her hand and watched him. She couldnít decide with whom she talked with. Was it Rand who had cried like a child in her arms, she couldnít believe this, she had seen Rand angry and in fury, saw him showing any emotion save hurt. As far as she could tell he didnít even felt it, she saw him with eyes that shone like the skies with fury or hate and even love, but he never cried, never. Or was it Lews Therin Kinslayer himself? Had she talked with the dragon himself, with the man that reborned as Rand? Or was it only the madness in working that talked?
Yet the most frightening thing in all that was that in the morning Rand remembered none of it. She had tried to question him about it, and he denied any such thing. All while wearing face as if her being near him hurt him. That was almost the last time they talked.
The next time she talked to him was when he stepped out of a gateway, smiling smugly and looking almost as if her presence hadnít bothered him. When she understood why he was smiling about she felt stab of fear and another one of hope. She might not come back alive from her meeting her toh to Elayne but she might also come back with Elayneís approval. Yet whatever outcome will come from that she would accept. One way or another she wonít have to pretend any more.
It had taken her very small time to convince him that she needed to see Elayne. And most amazing than all was that he looked regretful of her leaving. Maybe he didnít hate her, maybe he only pretended to, as she herself had done so long.
And so she went to Elayne and told her that she is in love with Rand, told her that she had spend a night in his arms, and from the look on her face she read all she needed to know. Elayne would refuse to even consider her as a sister wife. She would probably kill her too. She closed her eyes and fingered the bracelet that Rand gave her in Cold Rock Hold, in what seem a thousand lifetimes ago. The bracelet was her most precious thing in the world. She would have preferred losing a hand or an eye than losing it. She held Randís face in her mind, as he looked like on that night in the snow, if she was going to die she would die with him. And then out of the blue Elayne had told her that they could share him, giving her own thoughts back. But even more startling than that was the discovery of Min. That another women loved him, that there was another woman that she had to share Rand with. And then there was all the time away from Rand. All the time when she felt as if she was uncompleted and tomorrow it would all end, tomorrow she would see Rand again. She could tell him that she loved him. She would make up for all the time she had to pretend that she didnít like him, she would.
All that flashed in Aviendhaís head in moments. And she found herself standing with Min and Elayne in front of the kingís rooms in Illian; bleak faces had hid any emotion. But there were still things she could read in them. The slight tightness of Elayne mouth and the way Min walked talked about tense. She had no idea what mad Min so tense, they knew Rand was safe. But she could have guessed what the other thought of, Elayne didnít really liked having to leave Birgitte behind. Even when her warder insisted on that, Birgitte refused even to listen Elayne in that matter.
I wonít meet Lews Therin, Elayne. Not before he will know about me, Lews Therin was a friend for long time, but he still might know me. Sometimes things passed from other lives, and he saw me in this life. Let him know who and what Iím first. That was what she said to Elayne then, after a moment she continued in hesitated voice. You can tell him about me. He needs to know, and I wonít hide it from him.
A thing that made no sense at all, but Elayne seemed to understand what Birgitte talked about. Though Elayne insisted about telling Min and Aviendha also. Aviendha had no idea what it was, Elayne just looked at her oddly when she asked her, and told her that she could tell her only after they would see Rand.
Elayne led the way, she had been in Illian before, and she knew where the king rooms were. And that if the servant had told them the truth and Aviendha doubted if she would have dared to lie to them after what Elayne had almost done to her was where Rand was. The gilded doors of the king rooms were drowned in shades, and two of them became real.
Two black clad men, one in his middle years and having the look of a soldier and another barely more than a boy. Aviendha gave a start at first, and saidar filled her. She had nothing to fear while she held saidar, unless one of the Forsakens was still around. And she doubted that very much, none of them would risk being near Rand. With the power she could smell the perfume from both Min and Elayne, she felt every stir of the air against her skin, saw the pins that decorated the menís collar. A silver sword, perfect with blade and hilt shining against the daítsang black.
The light of saidar surrounded Elayne, and she felt the same weaves she meant to weave. Air to bind hands and legs, if this was the guard Rand had placed to keep him safe he was more than the fool he sometimes act like. Anyone could pass those two guardiansÖ. Her thought stopped sharply as the two men tensed, as if they could feel the power in her. That wasnít possible, no man should be able to feel that. No man saveÖ the True Source was gone from her as the men shielded her, the light of saidar was gone from Elayne, and she staggered and had to lean on one of the walls of the hall to keep herself standing. Aviendha heard herself grunting, fear babbled up in her.
Those two men must be of the Black Tower, those who came to Rand to learn to channel. They could channel! And she was caught in their weaves, it was far different with Rand al'Thor. She had never feared him.
"Aes Sedai." Whispered the older man, there wasnít fear in his voice nor hate. As it was usually in menís voices when they talked about Aes Sedai. He merely mentioned facts. ďWhat do you trying to do, Min? TakingÖ those to the Lord Dragon. And how did you get here anyway, we left you on Cairhien?Ē
Min glanced at him in surprise; "Rand will want to see them, Flinn. You can be sure of that." The men still looked doubted but the shield was gone from her and they motioned them to enter, she didnít touch saidar again though. There was no reason to be foolish. They entered the room, Elayne still peering over her shoulder to see the two men, though Aviendha didnít understood why. They just melt back into the shadows, their cloths making part of it. She could understand easily why they reacted that way when they felt them channeling, what Min told themÖ she meant to find the Aes Sedai Rand and these men had captured and make them regret for ever hurting her Rand.
The throne room or whatever it was called in Illian was empty but when they entered the bedchamber Rand was there, a young reddish hair men with blue gray eyes that was usually as hard as stone. She stepped into the room, toward him, eagerly. And stopped short after two steps, and dismissed the 'young', she was in Rhuidean and some of the objects there were old. Very old. Rand could make them look young; he had been aged since she saw him last. Aged in more than the month or so she was away, he looked ancient. He was so beautiful, her heart ached and her knees trembled. Rand was smiling, and he glided toward them, rising from the chair he was sitting on and putting the cup of wine aside.
"So hard, oh light. Heís so hard." Murmured stunned face Elayne.

~Barid Bel



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