Reposted by Barid Bel on May 12, 1998 on WoT Alliance BBS
Category: WoT Third Age

Land Of Madmen

(Diary Of A Stone Portal Traveller)

What would have happened if... in the Fires of Heaven Aviendha would have taken Rand into the Land of the Madmen instead of Seanchan.

Rand tried to listen to Aviendha's heart, but its beating came slower and slower. She was dying and there was nothing he could do about it, he would have been overjoyed to see Moiraine popping out of the air to heal Aviendha, he would be even glad of Semirhage. But he didn't know how to heal. And Aviendha was dying, unless…
Bits and pieces of things he had just heard about came to him, he didn't know this either but he could have guessed, using all the power he could master he wove Spirit. One of the most complex weaves he had ever woven, he had only little knowledge about what might happen if he would succeed, but suddenly he could feel Aviendha. Feel his body and her's; it was supposed to help her, though he had no idea if anyone had tried this before on women. The warder bond he had created should give her the power to survive wounds that would kill any other, he just hoped that it would work on her too. Prayed that she wouldn't die from freezing, of course, if she would survive he probably wouldn't.

She had made that gateway to run from him, he had no idea what she would do when she would find out that she was tied to him. He put his ear on her chest again, searching for heartbeats, he thought they were a bit stronger, only a bit. But he could feel her weakness, feel what she felt though she was unconsciousness. And she was ice in his arms, through the small knot of emotions and senses in the back of his head he could sense her weakness. Trying to cut his line of thoughts, he really didn't want to think of what might happen to Aviendha, and trying to stop himself thinking that he had a woman with no cloths on against his body, he started talking.
He talked about the first thing that came to his mind, Elayne and her letters, unfortunately the thoughts of kissing Elayne in the Stone also came with it. The last thing he needed now was to think about kissing, he tried to talk about Min for a while. He had no idea what he felt for her, no more than he had about what he felt toward Aviendha and Elayne, but he liked her. Don't think about women, you fool. He thought furiously, the void trembled and he barely managed to avoid being destroyed by saidin.
Rand's hand started stroking Aviendha's hair, glimpsing damply on the dim light of the flames he wove before. She was warm he understood, very warm. He should move away from her, but he had as much chance to fly as to force his body away from her. Her eyes opened, clear green eyes staring at his without even a touch of the anger that was so often there when she looked at him, he started moving away from her and she caught his hairs in painful grip. He couldn't move away without leaving a bald patch on his head.
"I promised my near-sister that I would watch you for." She seemed to be talking more to herself than to him, in almost expressionless voice. "But the rings do not lie, and I can run no more." Her voice firmed noticeably. "I will run no more!" She clutched his head with both hands and pulled his mouth to her. The void was gone and saidin fled from him as she kissed him, it was certainly strange to feel the kiss as she did it, strange but certainly pleasant. The last logic thought he had was that he could stop neither her nor himself.

Rand watched Aviendha while they walked toward the gateway she created. Saidin filled him and he channeled fire to melt them a path. He glanced back at the snow hut, some part of him hoped that he could have just stayed forever with Aviendha there. The small knot of emotions in the back of his head, Aviendha, told him nothing he could understand. Not that he expect anything, if he couldn't sort out his own feeling why should he expect that he could sort out Aviendha's.
The warder bond worked both ways, and now Rand started having a very uncomfortable feeling. Aviendha was more than good in reading his mind before he bonded her, to save her life, now she probably be able to know what he would think.
After they… he raked a hand through his hair and tried to push the memory away, only half succeeding. She nearly took his head off when she found out that he had bonded her, he thought he could find a way to move the bond to someone else, if not to break it completely. He only half understood what he was doing when he bonded her. But he could only move the bond to a man that could channel; the only choice she had save him would be Asmodean. So she would stay bonded to him, surprisingly it wasn't the bond itself that seemed to worry her, but that she now had a part of him that Elayne didn't owned.
He had more chance to understand how to escape the taint on saidin than to understand Aviendha; or any other women at all. If he only had half from what Mat knew. He had just enough time to throw himself at Aviendha, walking angrily at his side and muttering about frozen water and her current opinion about the car'a'carn. And not those he would have liked to hear from her, before a ball of fire as big as a horse or two passed right where their heads were before.
At the same time he had woven flows of fire and earth, no time to be gentle or sophisticated, just simple weaves that would make the Forsaken that had attacked them sorry he hadn't stayed hidden. It had to be one of the Forsaken, the ball of fire had been made by saidin. Though he did expect something more from Sammael, only Sammael would attacked him so, Demendred was too careful to challenge him if he thought he had the slightest chance to loose or had other choice. He thought that lesson to the Forsaken on Parran Disen. And Asmodean was too weak to risk such simple attack.
The source of saidin faded, it could mean that the man had released saidin but Rand thought or hoped that this meant that Sammael was dead. It had to be Sammael, no one else would have done it, he thought grimly as he helped Aviendha to rise.
"What do you…" she started as soon as she was on her feet, the glare she gave him could have melt the snow by itself, without needing saidin, and then she saw the tree that this ball had burned on its way to them and swallowed hard. "Thank you." She murmured finally. But he barely heard, he could see the gateway she had created, but he didn't walk that way, he had to make sure that the Forsaken was dead.
He hurried to the place he had felt saidin being woven, with Aviendha not a step behind, of course, now a big hole in the ground.
"No!" he whispered when he saw the body that was lying there, it wasn't Sammael or anyone of the Forsaken. "No!" A young man only little older from himself; with dark hair and eyes staring at the sun without blinking. He had never seen the man but knew more about him than he ever wanted to know. Men who can touch the male half of the True Source are becoming mad and then they are starting to rot, creating horror with the One Power. That was what stories told, that was the fate expected for him.
A path that the man he had just killed had already met, the eyes were whole but almost everything else in the face had already given up to the rotting, he could see white bone through blood red gushes in the face and the hands.
He heard Aviendha emptying her stomach behind him, and didn't blame her at all. Without the void he would have been doing the same. He didn't regret killing the man, this was probably the best service he could have given the men, "At least it would explain why I thought the earth was shaking, half explain." He realized that he had said it aloud only when Aviendha grunted and stared at him, she was wiping her mouth but now she seemed to try to match the sun. Of course, he wasn't spared from that too, his cheeks felt like fire, even inside the void.
He turned away from the man, there was nothing he could do for him or himself. "Rand," surprisingly, Aviendha sound hesitated, a thing she never was before. But there was fear inside her now, he could feel it as much as he could feel his own. If he would go mad… there was a reason for the title "kinslayer". "You could do nothing." Aviendha continued.
He turned his face to her, not stopping trotting, but his glare just slide from her. "I know, Aviendha. The light help me, that I know." The words was bitter, if he would go mad… he didn't want to think what he might do. If he would manage to lay a hand on callandor or worse, the male ter'angreal he had kept on Rhuidean… he didn't needed to complete the thought. There would be no world after that. And the fury that babbled inside him was for that he was helpless as a baby against the madness as much as it was for the Dark One for tainting saidin.
On the Age of Legends they had tried to clean saidin, that he knew, right then he didn't care how he knew this. Of the three trying one had created the Dragonwall and the second the Mountains of Dhoom. Three times the Aes Sedai on the Age of Legends tried to clean the taint from the male half of the True Source. Three? And only two failed? What in the name of the light was the third? He thought as he understood what he was thinking, he could already see the gateway, Aviendha followed him with worried glances, did she thought he might go mad right now?
His laugh made her jump, and she laid a hand on his shoulder, "Rand al'Thor," she started, and then gasped when the gateway she made closed. The tingle, that told him she was holding saidar, faded for the first time since she saw the man, she would have been sagging to her knees hadn't he was holding her. He carried her through his own gateway, he thought she had fainted, not into his room but into utter blackness, he had cut the weave that was holding her gateway open. They weren't going to his rooms, the platform started moving as soon as he was on it.
He laid Aviendha on the platform, making her as comfortable as he could, and sat on the floor. His destination was the blight, and even skimming took time.

Aviendha could stand by her own when Rand opened another hole in the blackness that surrounded them. The shock she felt when she saw that their only way home had gone was too much for her, going on the top of what happened last night between them. Not to mention the bond between them, she could feel Rand, and that was both pleasing and shaming. He belonged to Elayne, but Aviendha wanted him for herself. Ji'e'toh left her one choice though, and she never even considered breaking it. She followed Rand into the Blight; she had no doubt in that. She had been in here before, what could Rand want in the Blight she had no idea, Rand just ignored her questions.
Rand stopped in front of a tree she didn't recogniz, one that hadn't given up to the corruption of the blight. The tree had the look of one that had been here for a long time. Rand laid a hand on it, murmuring something that sound like a prayer. In the back of her head there was sadness and grief, "What is so sad about this tree, Rand al'Thor?" she asked sharply, she had enough from not knowing so much.
"It's the grave of the Green Man, Aviendha. Somatsa was a friend of mine."
Her breath caught, "So this is the Eye of the World, but what you're seeking here, what is it?" The look he gave her was so innocent she almost believed he came here to visit the grave of the Green Man, "I can feel this, Rand al'Thor. What-are-you-seeking-here." She was loosing the hold on her temper, but right now she didn't care. She had more than enough reasons to be angry.
Now she could see a building, on the arched door there was a symbol half-white half-black, divided by sinuous line. The ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends. Rand entered the building without even slowing, for herself; Aviendha allowed herself to scan the building Rand entered to for a heartbeat before she entered inside it. You couldn't be too careful in the Blight.
Rand was seating on the floor, holding a small green stone, his angreal, there was sweat on his face, and she felt the taint inside him. "This was once a place where a part of saidin was kept," he sounded as if he was talking to himself more to her, she didn't care, she needed answers. "One hundred men and women created this place, they had somehow learned how to clean saidin but they hadn't the power to clean it all. They kept the part they manage to clean, I destroyed the Eye the first time I came here. You asked what I'm seeking Aviendha, isn't it? I'm seeking the way they had found, and believe me I will find it." And use it even if it will kill you too, thought Aviendha. Egwene told her what happened in the Eye when she and Nynaeve and Rand and Moiraine came here. But whatever weave were used here to clean saidin were three thousand years old. There was no hope for Rand in his search here, as if he had read her mind he continued. "Saidin and saidar turn the Wheel of Time." Now there was more beads of swear on his face and he breathed too quickly, "I have a… trick, you may call it so, sometime you can see what happened in the past." As if his words were a sign a mist began to form itself from nothing, creating the image of men and women standing, she needn't need to count to know that there were a hundred of them. "Going that much back is more then difficult." The light of saidar surrounded the women while the men were surrounded by a blackness that somehow didn't stop her from seeing through it. She saw the weave they used, or only half of it, the half that were made by saidar. Rand was watching them closely, and Aviendha copied him. It was interesting, if Rand could find a way to clean saidin, if he could escape the madness and the… the picture of the young man Rand killed would hunt her many night.
The mist image was gone, and Rand was on his feet, another hole in the air open behind him as he offered her a hand to help her rise. "Where are we going now?" She asked. Rand's smile sent a ball of ice into her stomach, those men and women died trying to clean a small part of saidin, what was Rand planning to do?
"To Rhuidean, of course, to clean saidin."

~Barid Bel

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