Added on December 14, 1998
Dragon's Library Fiction Contest 1998: Honorary Mention
Category: WoT Third Age

Towers of Midnight:
Logain's Forsaken

Aran'gar paced the borders of her prison for the Great Lord alone know how long. A small room, made of wood, with a single bed and a door that had no lock.

She had never faced such prison before, for the tenth time, she walked to the door and open it. Outside, there was freedom. She couldn't make herself walk through the door. She had no desire to do so.

It was very annoying. Not even a Mindtrap could imprison a person as well as this Logain had imprisoned her. You could always choose death, no matter how good you were imprisoned. But the thought flashed in her head for instance only before she denied it. She could think about killing herself, all she could do it think about, she wasn't used to be stopped in such a way. Nothing ever stopped her half as well as this cursed weave did. She pictured the weave in her mind again, going through every last possible result. Not the first time she had done so, she was sure it wouldn't be the last time she would do so. Again, she found no way to escape. There was just too many possibilities, it may take days for her to understand all of it. She wondered idly if Logain understood it completely.

It was the best trap she had ever encounter. Bonding, that was how Logain had called it, but it went far deeper than it was with a bond made by saidar, as far as she understood it. She would do, happily, everything she would be commanded to do by Logain. She couldn't harm Logain, she would give her life for him , if needed. Shadow consume her soul, she would give the man her life, knowing it was the bond helped not a bit. The only comfort she had so far was so small it didn't even count. Trust, the bond had force loyalty into her, there was no dog more loyal then her in the world. But it forced Logain's thinking too, she suspected, he would trust her with his life, or more. A cold part of her mind whispered her that he must had a good reason for it. She pushed it back, hard. There must be a way out, and she will find it.

In the back of her head, she could feel Logain, feel him as closely as she felt her own body. It was very disturbing all together. Since the time she felt the gateway being opened in the Amiralyn study, while she was busy tying the girl, Egwene, even more strongly to her, nothing seemed to be going fine. Logain was as strong as she was in the power, something she certainly didn't expect to find. Nor that strange method of forcing her to obey to his will. At least he hadn't taken advantage of it, save one kiss. Yet. She was afraid of what he might do when he will decide to take the advantage. The bond force her to trust him, forced her mind to a certain pattern. She couldn't lie to him, or even give him a false image of what she was saying. Hiding things was allowed, as long as she hadn't been asked directly about it. She shivered, not stopping to pace, hugging herself tightly.

She didn't want to think about it. So many impossibilities. A simple order left saidin as far from her as the moon. She could feel the light of it just behind her shoulder. But couldn't make herself touch it. Since the first time she touched saidin the urge to draw it was constant. Now, she thought she might even survive being severed, she had no desire to touch the source. Another impossibility. Logain came closer, she could feel him coming to her, he was troubled. And she hate herself for being concerned about him, about wanting to know the reason for this, to smooth his worries. Another affect of the bond, but it was as real as if it was truly her own emotion. The bond changed her very being. And there was no bloody thing she could do about it. She wished she had something to drink beside water. Maybe it was all a nightmare, maybe. Aran'gar continued pacing the length of the room, twelve feet from one end to another, pacing endlessly, waiting excitingly for the man who caged her. She refused to admit it even to herself, but she wanted to see him. She began to curse, she wanted to cry.

Logain came closer, barely ten miles away. It took another two heartbeats before a dark slash opened in the air just outside the door. A hole into a darkness that seemed to swallow every shred of light. Two women walked through the gateway, one of them she recognized, Leane. Clad in one of the Domani's dress the woman seemed to be so fond of in green and blue. The other woman she hadn't recognized, ageless face of an Aes Sedai and hard eyes. The woman could have been pretty, had she had a spark of warmth in her. Logain followed them, the gateway winked out.

"Halima," Logain said, he was stony determined now. He had made his mind about her, "This is Leane, and Toviene." He gesture at each woman in her turn. "Leane, Toviene, this is Halima," The man held saidin to the point the sense of life became meaningless, where only the struggle against saidin was important, where a mistake would cost you your life. Dancing was always sweater on the edge of the sword, and touching saidin, was always like walking on the razor edge. "My new warder." Leane gape at him, and then at her.

The frost on Toviene's eyes melt away when her look touched Logain. "Are you going to bond every woman you lie your eyes on?"

"I doubt it," Aran'gar said dryly, "I also doubt that he likes to have me bonded to him any more than I like being bonded to him." Logain simply stared at her, she didn't care, he could hurt her no more than she could hurt him. That was also something that was forced by the bond. "I belong to the Shadow, Toviene. Few are deeper in the Shadow than I am. I'm one of the Forsaken." She said the last coldly. Anywhere in the world, her words would have brought her death. Logain was the only one she could say such thing to that she knew she was completely safe with.

Her skin prickled, one of the women or both was holding saidar. "Enough! All of you!" Logain barked angrily. "Leane, Toviene release the source! You have nothing to be afraid of Halima!" He crossed the space between them, face twisted in rage. He was burning fury inside. He caught her with one hand under her chin. Hard enough to make her wince, she had no need to hide anything from Logain. And it was useless beside.

"What are you planning to do, Logain Albar?" She asked him, she wasn't afraid, she couldn't be, of him. "Kill me? You can grow wings as much as harm me." For a long moment, he stared at her. Angry enough to kill her, without the bond, she would have died in an instant. With a curse, he pushed her away. Sending her flailing until she hit the wall, it took her a moment or two to arrange her breath again.

Logain was seating on the bed, his head between his hands. "Come!" He ordered, she had no choice but to obey. At the same time, Leane and Toviene came close. "What am I going to do with you, Halima?" Logain asked, he was no longer angry, only the calmness of k'doi, the emotionless quality of a man touching the True Source. She began to answer before realizing he hadn't directed the question to her, he asked himself the question. Apparently finding no answer. "You're my warder, Halima. And a woman that can channel saidin. Not to mention being a darkfriend for sure, and claiming to be one of the Forsakens. What am I going to do with you?"

"Release me from the bond." Aran'gar replied. She very much doubted if he would, but she needed to know if this was even possible.

Logain snort in contempt, "Don't try to play the fool, Halima. I wouldn't even if this could have been done."

"It's forever?" She whispered, forever being bound to that man. Forever being caged. No way out. The next thing that she was aware of was lying in the bed, Logain holding her hand and feeling concerned a worried. Leane sat next to him. He was arguing with Toviene.

"...must be dealt with, Logain. You have no other choice, she is a darkfriend! The Light burn your soul." Toviene was quivering with fury.

"Take your knife and kill her then." Logain said, his voice hard, his eyes dark storm. "See if you can do more than drawing it. No even an order from me would change it. Neither one of us can harm the other, not the slightest. You should know this by now."

Burn her soul, that was not what she needed to hear. "Logain," She said weakly, he squeeze her hand tightly. "I agree with Toviene. The Light can burn your soul." For some reason, it made him laugh.

"Who are you?" Leane asked, "What where you doing in Salidar?" She shivered suddenly. "You were the one that released Moghedien!"

"My name is Aran'gar." She answered, "and I was." Logain closed his eyes shut. He regretted bonding her, very much regretted it, by what she could feel.

"Tell me everything about yourself." He asked, there was a difference. She thought she could refuse to this, she could resist him this time. She hadn't, the Aes Sedai of this days, ignorant children of the most part, regarded their warders as both their property and part of themselves. She began to understand why, her life belonged to him. Her future, her very soul. For some reason, it didn't bother her half as much as it should have. "You're beginning to see, Aran'gar." Hearing the name from him hurt her, "the bond take some adjusting to both of us. Nothing of any importance, usually, small things to make life easier. But with your case, I fear very much the adjustment will change your entire way of thinking. And mine." Logain's voice was soft. He bent to kiss her forehead. "Sleep," He whispered the command to her, and her eyes closed instantly. Aran'gar fell asleep almost as quickly. Chest rising and falling more and more slowly. Logain hunted her dreams.

Halima walked slowly, she didn't want to wake. Logain was saying the nicest things to her. "Do you mean to wake anytime in this age?" Toviene's sharp voice was all the encouragement she needed to wake up fully. She looked up, Toviene smiled at her unpleasantly. "You slept for a whole day," She said, then fell silent, and looked at her more closely. "It happened." She muttered angrily. "Nothing to be done about it now."

"What happened?" Halima asked, there was a change in Toviene's voice. Almost warmth. It occurred to her suddenly that the woman could touch the source, and Logain's command still blocked her off saidin as surely as any thirteen women could.

"I belonged to the Red ajah for more then a century." Toviene didn't seem to understand the joke she was saying. But on the other hand, very few would. Ajah rarely lasted more than a year at most cases. "Yet I'm a warder to a man that can channel." Her eyes were sad suddenly. "What I'm now stands against everything I was, everything I've lived for from the day I've reached the shawl." Halima sat on the bed, someone took her dress off and covered her, she doubted if Logain was the one who had done it. He wasn't that kind of man. Silencing quickly that small part of her mind that mourned of Logain not being the one to undress her, she began to search for her clothing. She wasn't about to walk around in a shift. "It's not enough to be forced to obey Logain, you know." Halima didn't, she hadn't the faintest idea what the woman was talking about. But she let her talk, the more Toviene talked, the more chance there would be less pitfall along the way of being Logain's warder. She didn't even wonder how she got so accepted to the idea of being his warder, it wasn't like her. "The bond change the way you act, the way you think. It change you in more ways than I could believe possible." Halima considered it for a second.

"Not even Compulsation can be so deep," she said, "and at the same time, leave you fully aware of the changes that had been done to you. It works both more deeply and more efficiently than Compulsation, and at the same time, it can not be used for ill cause." If she had to be on a leash, this would probably the best she could be leashed on. Of course, she would have preferred not to being leashed at all.

Toviene gave her a strange look, "You know Compulsation..." She began, "Of course you do, being who you are." Halima rose a hand tiredly. She didn't want to talk about it now, or ever. Toviene seemed to understand, "Later," Toviene murmured. "What was I was talking about? Oh, the bond. It's not only what you've seen so far. It means to be used over lifetime, with any red, it's supposed to be impossible. The changes are being forced into you. Often without you being aware of it until it's too late. Not that there is anything to do about it anyway. I doubt that even Logain can do something about it." Halima closed her eyes, she traced the weave Logain used to bond her again, she had missed that. What else had she missed.

"I see," Halima said weakly.

"It's not that bad, not really." Toviene wasn't very good in cheering her up. "The bond takes care of this too. There is little enough the bond doesn't take care of." She sounded bitter, but only a little bit. "Logain said he is unable to control it, changing us. The bond was created to last a lifetime." There was a small smile on Toviene's face as she repeated her words. She didn't seem to be aware of it. "The bond changes us, so Logain would be able to live with us without going mad with having to have us around him."

Halima laughed suddenly, "The bond makes us into women Logain can live with. Isn't it right? Women that would be his ideal." It was funny, in a way. She had to laugh at it, or else she will began to cry.

"Not quite," Leane said, she came through the door, gliding forward swiftly. Logain wasn't anywhere nearby. She would have known if he was. "I would have came before, had I known you're awake." She hadn't had her dress with her, Halima began to wonder about it, sooner or later, Logain would return, it wasn't pleasant, to have him away from her. She thought it must be unpleasant to him too, and she wasn't going to welcome him in her shift. Leane carried a pitcher which she tossed at her, water. The sweetest thing she had ever tasted. Now, if only she will find something to eat.... "You don't understand," Leane said, a troubled look on her face "the bond is not a chain of bondage. Although it can be used that way, I think. Logain, at least, would do us no such thing. I know this for sure."

Toviene said something that wasn't quite audible. "Consider what we are doing now, Halima." She said, "I'm suppose to kill you, by the Three Oaths, I can. By Tower Law, I must. I'm not supposed to chat with you like you were a childhood friend. I'm not supposed to like you." Halima blinked at the woman's words, "Another gift from the bond, Halima. You will, or already have, began to like me and Leane." The woman sound bitter.

"What would you have?" Leane asked softly, "Without the bond making us like each other both of us would have been on each other's throat long ago. Even without Halima's... problem." She titled her head, "I don't know what we're talking about this. We can change nothing about it."

"I'm glad that at least one of you can be reasonable." Logain's voice made all of them jump, Halima felt her cheeks warming. Another thing that shouldn't have happened. Cursed that bond, and cursed that man too. He was clad in black, as he always seemed to be now. For the first time, Halima observed him, not simply looking, but staring at him and searching for every detail she could find. He was huge in every dimension. Taller than even Leane by a head, and twice as wide as any of them. He had black hair that reached his shoulder, and almost black eyes. Despite the sharp words, his tone was soft. And he was... strange inside. Troubled to begin with. "What were you talking about exactly?" He asked, he carried a large box in his hands, and tossed it to the floor without even looking at it. He stood, towering over them. He should have frighten her, he captured her so easily. Turned her loyalty to him as easily. And her loyalty was to him, and as strange as it sound, to the Light. He was more than handsome, in black shining silk. The sword on his hip was tossed aside as he sat on the bed, catching her chin with one hand. Making her eyes meet his. She clutched to the blanket that covered her in death grip.

"The bond messing up with our mind!" She answered him sharply, had she had anything to throw at him, she would have. But she hadn't made any move to make him loose his grip in her. He had no right making her feel sorry she couldn't lie her head against his chest and hug him as hard as she could and... The smile on Logain's face was all too... knowledgeable. "I can see no difference from making us your slaves. The bond making us into women you can like. What is the difference between this and making us your dogs?"

For a long moment, Logain simply looked at her flatly, emotionlessly. He let his hand drop, "I couldn't even begin to count the differences, not in a single lifetime, Halima." He growled at her, "But maybe it's time you will learn exactly what the bond does, and why."

"You never bothered to explain it before," Toviene said, "why now?" Leane sat on Logain's side. With Toviene on the other, and her on the bed, it made a scene that made her want to laugh, or cry.

"You never asked," Logain said with a frown. "That is why, Toviene. Ask! The bond is named so for a reason. It binds you, but also binds me, maybe even more than it does you." Leane sniffed in disbelief.

"What it does?" The Domani woman asked, "I'm asking you, humbly. Asha'man Logain." If this was what she considered as humble, even Logain would cowed when she would decide to be arrogant.

"It doesn't change you, not in the way you are thinking of." He said, he rose from the bed, continued to talk as he paced the length of the room. "Not really," He closed his eyes for a moment, remembering. "The bond," He said after a moment, "was created by Deral in order to make sure he wouldn't harm his wife if he will go mad. That was what he is meant to do, at least at first. But Deral hadn't expect the... side affects." Logain was frozen inside, full of saidin, fighting it, filled with life. His stomach burned as the taint turned it over. "As far as I understand, and none of the Asha'man truly understands everything the bond does, not harming his wife was in itself a side affect of the weave Deral discovered." His eyes were still close, he sounded almost amused, almost. "The only harm I can make you now is with words, believe me, even if I will go mad this instant, you will be as safe as in your mothers' arms. Safer, the bond also forces me to protect you. But that is off topic. The ability to tell each other's emotion, each other's physical state is the main advantage on the bond. I assume that Deral didn't felt... close enough to his wife." Now he was certainly amused, Leane and Toviene watched Logain as closely as she herself did. Catching every word. "Trust, loyalty, they are also part of what the bond does. I will give my life for you," It didn't sound like something he didn't mean to. "I already put you before everything else," Another saying that sound true. "And the same goes for you." Logain opened his eyes, watching their reaction to his words.

"Carry on," Halima said, "what is the worst part?" She stilled herself for the worst she could think of.

"It's not that bad, not really." Logain sighed, but he was certainly... worried of their reaction. "The bond doesn't really change who you're, Halima. What it did was... removing the parts in you I couldn't live with. Belonging to the shadow, for example." He hadn't continue, he had no need of it, much else had change in her. And his words hurt her already. "You're still the person you've always been, only..."

"Gentled," Toviene said, "that is what it does to us." Logain took a deep breath, gentled was the word they used this day to describe the severing of a man from the power. He somehow survived this, he was severed and somehow lived the pain of not touching the power. "Cutting away what you don't like, you told me how it pained when you were gentled. How could you do such thing to us?"

"You are a red," Logain's words affected Toviene like a slap on the face, "And Halima tried to kill me, I bonded her to save my life."

"I agreed to be your warder," Leane said, "although I think I might be beginning to regret it." She sound as if she was trying to cheer him up.

Logain snort, "You can't, another thing the bond take care of, nor can I, if you were about to bring this up." He turned his eyes to Toviene, Halima clutched the blanket harder, and prayed that he wasn't lying about the bond preventing him from harming them. He was so angry... "As for what you said, I have no answer for this. Maybe you're right, I don't know." He sounded so tired suddenly, deadly tired. Leane rose swiftly, gliding at him, Halima saw her making men do whatever she wish. Now she seemed to try to do the same with Logain. At least in order to cheer him up. The way she walked would certainly made any man watch, but there was nothing in Logain as he watched Leane coming closer to hug him. Logain's arms went around Leane, softly. "All I know that there is nothing to do about it. The only thing I can say about it is that as much as you may be angry at me at the moment, remember that the bond affects me in much the same way." He rose a hand to silence Toviene, "Think! The bond doesn't change who I am, it simply take away every restriction I've for you."

"I don't understand," Halima said, "if you can't live with a... darkfriend," she had to make herself say the word, "then I can understand why it changes me." She smiled at him suddenly, he showed no affect that the smile usually had on men. "I'm grateful of that, that I don't belong to the shadow anymore. Of course, it's the person you've changed that is happy about being changed, not the one that died." Aran'gar did died soon after Logain bonded her, she didn't even thought of herself as Aran'gar anymore. She became Halima. "But if the bond removes your restrictions to me once being a darkfriend then I shouldn't have changed." She was grateful of not being of the Shadow anymore, but she wanted so much to understand, so much wanted him to stop thinking of her as a darkfriend. One again, she understood the way the Aes Sedai of this days behaved toward their warders, both as their property and as a part of themselves.

Logain considered her words for a long time, Leane hadn't made a move to walk away. "We meet in the middle, more or less," Logain said, "you see, the bond can't change me too much, only so I would agree to..." He hesitated for a moment, avoiding something. "It can change you, and it did, but even as you are, I doubt if I would agree to have you as my warder if I would have the choice. It changes you as little as possible, only so I can live with you without hating myself for ever bonding you, and changes me so I would be able to..." Again he hesitated, avoiding something again, the same something, Halima was sure of, but what it was. He stepped away from Leane, to Halima's relief, she had to suppress jealously for quite a time. He seemed to be trying to look at all the three of them in the eye. "In the Black Tower, the bond is usually used between husbands and wives." He said, "That was what it was meant to be used, the bond change you so I could live with you for a long time without hating myself," why was he repeating himself? "Not love you, simply live with you without wanting to kill you. And then it change me so I can... like you."

Leane blinked, and Toviene simply stared at him, face aghast, maybe they didn't understood it to the end, she thought she did. "We are changed only to the point where you are ready to let us stay near you. And your idea of what kind of woman you can love is changed to fit us. Isn't it?" She should have been furious at him, all she felt was... affection.

"And it's not only this," Toviene said quietly, "one of the changes in us is to make us love you, isn't it?" Her voice was flat as a stone.

Logain murmured something too low for them to hear, "No, that is the only thing it doesn't do." He said, "It doesn't force you to love me, it does force me to... like you, in a way, it does. What it does do, when the adjustment is being done, is making me love you, and..." He signed and gestured sharply in the air, unable to speak suddenly. "I don't have the words for this, you can say it make me act the way you want to, but it's not what the whole of it. It doesn't force you to love me, Toviene. It simply happens, not a result of the bond." So he loved them, all three of them, somehow, the idea seemed right for her.

Leane took one step toward from him, Toviene rose to her feet, fury blooming on her face. Her gaze hard enough to break through stones. Logain sighed again, sadly. "I have the words for you, Logain." Halima said, she sat, wrapping the blanket around her, for some reason, she feared him seeing her in her shift. She didn't feared him, she knew his words for true. He couldn't hurt her, she doubted if he could even think of commanding her to come to him, and the bond has nothing to do with her feeling about it. He wouldn't have done it. She simply know he wouldn't. So way she felt ashamed of him? "The bond will make me see you as someone I can fall in love with, it doesn't force me to love you. Only make me consider the idea, and then it affects you so you will be more... loveable. I still have the decision, but in the same time, I don't."

Logain nodded sharply to her words, "Very good, Halima." He said, "But this conversation, as pleasant as it may be, is not here nor there." Toviene growled something, she relaxed a little after the explanation Halima had offered, but Halima didn't doubt that the woman was still angry about Logain. I should be angry about him too! Halima thought, she wasn't. He admitted that he loved her, and Toviene and Leane too. What did it matter why he loved her, her own feeling for him came from the same source. Leane's eyes were soft, she breath hard. "You," Logain's fingered stabbed in the air toward her, "are going to be a trouble."

Halima blinked, "You are more fool than you look like, Logain." She told him calmly, "If you haven't realize this from the start. But just for general curiosity, what did I did?"

"The Lord Dragon want to see you," Logain said, fear stabbed her heart, not even the Dark One himself could make her be as afraid as facing Lews Therin. Light, she had to escape, had to. She rose to her feet, letting the blanket fall. Panic had her, she ran to the door of the small room. Unaware that she was dress in her shift alone, barefoot.

"Stop!" Logain's roar stopped her on her track, her muscles refusing to obey her. "Come to me, now!" The man that had her commanded again, coldness in his voice to match a grave. She came to him, what choice did she had? "You will never escape from me like this again," He whispered harshly to her. "Never! For no reason!" Then, as if he noticed for the first time of her fear, he embraced her, supporting her shaking knees. "I will let nothing harm you, Halima! I promise!"

She pushed him away, hitting him with her fists. It had no affect of him, she could have attack a rock with the same results. But he did let her go. "Don't you understand?" She shouted at him, her cheeks were red, with anger, and fear. "He's Lews Therin! There is nothing you can do to stop him from getting what he want! Not from him!"

Logain fell silent for quite some time, then he rose her eyes to meet his. "You might be surprise at what I can find possible," he said finally. "Now, as long as you're out of the bed, I suggest that you will take a bath, there is a pool not far north from here. After you've washed, and ate, we can talk. The two of you can use a bath too," Logain said to Leane and Toviene. "And you can eat a horse right now." Leane and Toviene looked nothing alike. But staring at Logain with frozen faces, they were mirror copies of each other. The glares slide past Logain to no affect. She did need a bath, and the sooner the better.

"What are we suppose to wear?" Halima asked desperately, she had her shift only. Her dress was nowhere to be seen, and she saw nothing to indicate that Leane and Toviene had anything but what they stood in. She thought she might be blushing, this was something she hadn't expected. It shouldn't have bother her the slightest. But it did.

Logain blinked, surprised for a minute. "There are some towels I left near the pool, big enough to cover you from head to toe. I will... take care of your clothing later." It wasn't a suggestion, somehow he managed to order them without using the bond. He rarely used it, as far as Halima could see, a true relief. They obeyed, not because they had to, simply because Logain didn't look as if he was ready to argue with them. Logain guide them to the pool. The ground was cover with snow. And as she was, barefoot and in her shift only, she shivered her way forward. Did he really believed that they would take a bath in a pool that was probably more ice than water? She refused three times to Logain's offer to help her. The forth time, he hadn't ask. Simply picking her up from the ground as if she weight nothing. It took few minutes before they reached a small building, much like the one where Logain left her. This one, at least, had a door. Now she thought about it, Logain must have wards to keep the warmth in and the cold out. The cabin wasn't warm, but it was frozen either.

"You seem to know this place quite well," She said to Logain. Anything to make herself forget that he held her in his arms. "Where are we?"

"Altara," Logain said curtly, "this is a place I came to when I learn that I could channel. For a very long time, it was all my world." A flow of Air opened the door to the cabin they were heading to. As soon as they were inside Halima began to sweat, it was warm! A pool ten feet at length and twice that in width. Maybe five feet deep filled most of the cabin. "Here," Logain said, setting on the ground. She had no reason to regret him leaving her. No reason at all! The warmth came from the pool, it was steaming! In midwinter! Logain regarded each one of them with a stern look, he seemed to be trying to memorize them. "You can take your bath here. I will be back when you're done." With this, he went to the door and walked away before any of them could say a word. Both amused and angry to no end.

"What is wrong with him now?" Toviene murmured. But Halima paid her no mind, she needed the bath. There was everything she could hope for there. Some kind of soap that gave a smell of strawberry, of all things. And Logain didn't exaggerate about the size of the towels. She sank to the bath with a relieved sigh. It wasn't as hot as she expected. It took some time, but finally all three of them were done. Logain was no where to be seen. Just thinking about wearing the dirty cloths again was enough to make Halima curse.

"It's not as if we have a choice," Leane said, wrapping a towel around her like a robe. "He does not seem to be willing to come."

"He is not that type of man, Halima." Toviene said gently, reading her emotion more clearly than she herself did. "The Light knows that he could have enter me to his bed simply by ordering it, long time ago. But he hadn't done so. He is a good man." Her mouth clamped suddenly shut, as if she hadn't mean to say this words.

"That he is," Leane whispered, "That he is." Halima wrapped a towel around her, she felt like she was clouding herself in her own shroud.

"You agreed to be bond?" Halima asked the taller woman, that was what Leane said, before. "why?"

"He showed me that you can live without the power." Leane said, her voice pained. "Logain reach the point of dying, and returned. Without him, I would have killed myself long before Nynaeve has a chance to heal me. Not to mention that without him, there would have never been healing for stilling." Halima doubt if the woman was ever so straight forward in her life. She couldn't lie to Logain, apparently, she couldn't lie to Leane or Toviene too. And vise versa. Leane seemed to be deep in the past. "He came to my tent one night, simply appearing from the night and scaring me half way to death. I thought he might have returned to avenge." Leane shock her head, making long air swing. Seemingly young features lost there expressionless quality. "He came to thank me, it was Suian that took him from the Tower, the White Tower, that is, but he came to thank me. A man of honor is rarely found. I don't know why I've done this, but I suggested him to be my warder. A the time, I didn't care a bit of him being able to channel." Leane avoided looking at any of them, "you can guess the rest." Instead of bonding Logain, she agreed to being bonded by him. With everything it meant, Halima wondered if Logain bothered to explain Leane what being his warder meant. But then again, he hadn't misused it, yet.

Toviene wrapped a towel around herself too, and they were heading toward Logain, using the bond as a guide. He was lying on the bed, fully clothed. Sound asleep. Three perfect sets of clothing beside him, green and blue and silver. They were frozen. But inside the hut it was warm and almost lovely. The cloths were exactly in their sizes. From shoes to dresses. There was also a tray with enough food to feed a pack of rabid wolves. They attacked the food eagerly. Halima thought they must have ate and chatted for an hour or so, speaking in low voices, Logain continued to sleep. He needed to sleep.

"Light!" Logain cursed suddenly, his eyes opening wide. He scramble to his feet and was half way toward the exit before he noticed them. Seating on the floor, the empty tray near them. "I forgot you," He said, guilt burning him. "I finish readying everything and you weren't done yet. So I just lied down for a moment. I'm sorry," He apologized, all three of them looked at him with wide eyes. None expected this. "I shouldn't have done this."

"Who was the seamstress that made this dress, Logain?" Leane asked, trying to change the subject, not the most gentle way. But it worked. "I would have like to talk to her, I never saw sewing so delicate."

"You're talking to the seamstress." Logain said, Halima nodded, that was what she thought.

Toviene laughed, "With those hands of yours?" Logain did seemed too big to be able to make any sewing. Logain's sewing was something she couldn't quite picture in her mind.

"I don't have to use my hands to do this." Logain said, face twisted with half smile. "That is why I've the power." Halima was forced to smile. That was something she never considered to put the One Power to, making cloths. Logain sat on the floor near her, close enough for her to touch him, had she wanted, what she didn't, of course. "Now that you've washed and ate, tell me why you're afraid so much from Rand al'Thor." And Halima knew that the moment she feared had reached.

"What do you know about me? Really know about me?" Halima asked Logain. When she will finish, he will turn away from her, hate her. But she had to tell him, she couldn't lie to him, but she thought he might let it go if she will tell him she doesn't want to talk about it. She couldn't do this, not to him, not to herself. The idea of living in lie wasn't so strange to her not two full days ago.

Logain hesitated for a long moment. "You're my warder, Halima. That is what matter to more than everything else, beyond everything else. And the Light burn my soul if few words can change this!"

"They can," Halima murmured sadly, and they will, soon enough. She took a deep breath, and began to talk. Hiding nothing, she wanted him to know everything. Everything at all. Or else she wouldn't be able to live with herself. She talked in a law voice, looking at her shoes and never rising an eyes to look at Logain, or Leane, or Toviene. She knew what they would say, do. She revealed anything. From the reasons that led her to turning into the shadow to every last crime she had committed since wakening and before. She took no mercy on herself. She could afford none of it. She was a different woman now. But it didn't matter, she had been changed, something that was outside her control. She shivered and feared the actions she herself did, long ago, and not that long ago. But she forced herself to tell it all. It took more than three hours. And her throat was dry, her voice cracked, by the time she finished. Logain handed her a wine cup, she had no idea where did he took it from. He gave Leane and Toviene cups too, but poured none to himself."Well," She asked, she could read no expression on Logain's face, and he was emotionless inside too. Leane was green in the face, Toviene had both hands against her stomach, her face was bloodless. "Does none of you going to say something?" She was on the edge of tears. She never cried, never!

"What are we suppose to say?" Logain asked, "Whatever you have done is already done. Nothing can be done to change this. And you will not do this again," He was right, only thinking of what she had done was almost enough to make her cry. "The bond will take care of that, already took care of that. You're not the woman I've bonded, Halima. And Rand will know it, you have no reason to be afraid of him." But Leane and Toviene still had those looks in their eyes, as if they only know really saw her. She hadn't dare to look at Logain.

Halima took a deep sip from her cup, and threw it on Logain. She cursed him with every vile word she knew. Saidin caught the cup in mid air, and the wine that spilled in the air gather itself into a ball. The cup settled down near her. Logain made no attempt to silence her, or showed that the curses disturb him in anyway. Leane and Toviene looked at her wide eyes, some of those curses were ridiculous. The rest were impossible. She stopped to breath, and to calm herself. She always hated herself for those tantrums, but she never been able to control herself when fury held her. The bond made nothing to affect her in this area. Apparently Logain didn't mind being angry at. Or didn't mind it that much. Logain was half asleep. Leane and Toviene talked in quiet voices, the three simply ignored her. "Don't you understand who he is?" She said after the fury faded. After she could control herself again.

"He's the Dragon Reborn, Halima." Logain said, not opening his eyes, "That is all I care."

Halima's anger gone, of course, he didn't knew. No one could. "Before the War of Shadow," She said, "I was an historian." Logain nodded, she already told him much about herself, soon after he had bonded her. "It seem I've a chance to be one again," She liked being an historian, but time had changed, and she wanted to make history, not write about it. "Lews Therin was the most known man in the Age of Legends," She began, she liked the name people had given her he, although they remember so little of what was. "And for good reasons."

"He was the most powerful man in the Age of Legends," Toviene said, she and Leane stopped talking as soon as she began. "And the First of Servants. He had to be known." Halima blinked at her, she didn't expect her to know this. "I'm a red," Toviene said angrily.

"Not anymore, Toviene. You're not." Logain's words were said in a quiet voice, but they held absolute sureness.

Toviene glared at him, then the glare fade, and she bow her head slightly. Inclining Logain's words, "I was a red, if this is what you like, Logain. Every red is required to learn everything we can about men that can channel. Lews Therin caused the taint, he's the obvious start point." Logain's face changed not a bit. But fury well in him like a flood.

"Lews Therin was not responsible for the taint, Toviene." Halima said, "He did what he did for reasons that still hold. He had some knowledge of what might happen, but would you like him not to try it? It was a matter of months before the Shadow victory. Without his actions, the world would have been under the Dark One's control." Halima shivered, once it was a shiver for pleasant, now it was for fear. She didn't want the Dark One to win. Not now, before, she did want it, with all her heart. Now, she doubt if there was a price too high to avoid it.

"Tell me about Lews Therin, Halima." Logain was not sleepy anymore. Interest shined in his eyes. "I've always wondered about..." He fell quite for a minute, "Tell me everything you know about Lews Therin. Why are you so afraid of him?"

She closed her eyes, and remembered. Let herself remember an age of glory and beauty more than anything this age could offer. She began to talk, quiet voice, almost calm, but she grieved inside of all the beauty that died, all the glory that vanish. And she let herself remember Lews Therin, you couldn't talk about the War of Shadow without talking about Lews Therin. And you couldn't talk about Lews Therin part in the War without knowing the man. "Lews Therin always demand from himself ten times than anybody else demanded from him. Reaching his full strength in half the time it usually had to take. He was the fastest student in a hundred year or so." Halima began, Before the opening of the bore, Lews Therin was already the most known man in her age. "In every area he was interested in, he was always the first, always the best. It never came easily to him, but he was ready to push himself half way to death in order to be the best he could be. The best, always the best. No wonder he was envied." She laughed softly as she remember one incident when Lews Therin's argue to be the first got in his way. She gave as short summery as she thought Logain would allow of Lews Therin's life, she wanted to see Logain's face when she will tell him what she had in her mind.

"You know that Lews Therin and Lanfear were lovers?" She asked, one of the few things they knew this days about the war that ended an age of beauty. She hadn't waited for their nods, "Lews Therin and Lanfear were lovers for more than two hundreds years. Since they were students learning about the power and until about fifty years before the opening of the bore. After he left her, Lanfear wasn't ready to see him with another woman. She had tried more than once to kill him, whenever he was with another woman."

Logain smiled faintly, "It can be... troubling, sometimes." He said, "I remember once that ...." He fell quite suddenly, his face frozen, grief inside, "It was a long time ago, and it matter nothing now." He said with a sigh finally. "So Lews Therin was stubborn, it isn't a big surprise. Nor that he wanted to be the best in everything. You might have not noticed, but many want the same."

"Let me give you an example," Halima said, she couldn't ask for a better opening. "About twenty years after the bore was open, Lews Therin had a... suggestion to the Hall of Servants." A demand, more than a suggestion, "It would take too long to explain what it was about, but it applied to the laws of violence, Lews Therin claimed they needed to be changed, since they didn't fit to the changing times anymore. Looking back, he was right, but this was something unheard of. The head of those opposing his plan was Ilyena Moerelle Dalisar -"

"Ilyena Sunhair," Logain murmured absently, as if he wasn't aware of it. "Lews Therin's Ilyena, supposedly an Aes Sedai easily as strong as Lanfear, and she hated Lanfear as much as Lanfear hated her. During the War of Shadow they engaged each other more than once. It's said that 'The hate between The Daughter of the Night and Ilynea Sunhair was bested only by the hate between the Betrayer of Hope and The Lord of Morning.' " The last he said as thought quoting.

"Burn my soul!" Halima gasped, "How you can know it? Nothing remained to even hint it!" But he was right, and the quote was right, both the words and the meaning. Toviene and Leane goggled at the man.

Logain moved uneasily under their gazes, the first time he looked unnerved. But inside he was calmed, if they bothered him, they didn't make much impression. "No one bothered to hinder a dead man, isn't it?" He said, fury held him, he seemed to be wanting to leash out at something. "And I was a dead man after I was... gentled, you only waited for the corpse to lie down and died. Nobody thought it's wrong for me to read a little, even those records you Aes Sedai doesn't usually let anyone save Aes Sedai read." Leane moved her gaze from him quickly, her cheeks burning. Toviene didn't, there was something in her eyes, something Halima couldn't recognize. Affection? To a man that could channel? Even with the bond, Toviene was red.

"I... see," Halima said when the quiet lingered for far too long, she hadn't expected Logain to know this. "Ilyena opposed Lews Therin, but at the end, Lews Therin's suggestion were accepted, although barely." She had no interest in the business of the Hall at the time, she hadn't much interest in anything save drinking and women at the time. Of course, this was when she was still a man, still an Aes Sedai in the age that must be the most beautiful age of all. But later, she learned everything she could about Lews Therin, it was only reasonable, Lews Therin was the enemy. She have heard the Grea- Dark One saying, more than once, that Lews Therin, The Dragon, was the true enemy, not the Light. "Lews Therin didn't like to be angry on," Although that at the time, it was almost a fashion, hating Lews Therin. It always seemed that he was getting everything he wanted, and that he worked twice as much as everyone else mattered nothing. People always envied those above them, and always will. And a man that reached the top in every last area he had the slightest interest in was an easy target. She had to admit now, with the bond either clearing or clouding her thoughts, that Lews Therin gained nothing he hadn't deserved, but at the time, even him working harder than most others seemed arrogant. "So he went to Ilyena, I would have give my soul to know what they talked about. All I know of that he left Ilyena with lightning practically on him." Ilyena usually had a good control on her temper, in many ways, although none of them would admit it, she and Lanfear were much alike each other. Lews Therin was the only one that seemed able to drive both women over the edge. She had envied this self control more than once, her own rages had cost her dearly.

"That I didn't know." Logain said quietly, leaning forward, "What did he do?" Until now, he was merely listening to her, trying to understand why she was so much afraid of Lews Therin. What she told him was not the slightest, it wasn't the Lews Therin of the days before the war she feared of, it was the Dragon that turn her stomach into ice. The same man that send thousands to die if he thought he would gain something worth the price.

" 'Emotions are no part of any battle', that was what Lews Therin said, after Paran Disen." Halima murmured, "And I'm almost sure that at the time he had no emotion for Ilyena. But she was the very first to turn him down in such a way."

Logain laughed suddenly, "I can understand why he was envied." He seemed to want to say more, but she let him none of it.

"Think of who he was, at the time, he was the most famous man in the world, the strongest in the power ever to be seen. And he could be very... charming when he wanted. Of course no woman would have refused to him. Until that day, Lews Therin never had such an incident." She took a sip from the all but forgotten cup in her hand, she felt the need of it. "What would you do, Logain?" She asked, and regretted it when he smiled at her, a very warm smile. She could feel her pulse racing, and he did nothing save smiling at her! Leane laughed suddenly, an amused laugh that made her even more angry. "Never mind that," She whispered angrily. "Lews Therin might have been hurt by this, but he was no fool, and he was more stubborn than any mule that I've met." And in this age, she certainly met far too many mules. Why couldn't they reserve the memory of how to make a simple jo-car? "He tried once more with Ilyena, with the same results, before he left his studies to take a new one." She fell quiet for ten heartbeats, she had to lecture many times in the past, usually to crowds far bigger than this three people she would share her life with, but she felt pleased that she could still make her crowd tense. "For the next twenty five years, Lews Therin studied women." Logain had just took a sip from his wine. He spluttered the wine all over at her words. The affect on Leane and Toveine was just as great."Women!" Toviene exclaimed, "How can any man study women?"Leane nodded in agreement to Toviene words.

"Usually," Logain said, staring at his stained coat with cold eyes, Halima had no idea who he was angry at, her or himself. "That is all what a man can do with women. What I want to know, is how you can study women?"

Halima smiled, the affect of her words were even better than she hoped it would be. Maybe there were some advantages to this age. Everyone knew the story about Lews Therin and Ilyena in her own age. And of course, Logain is in this age, a small voice mocked her. That had nothing to do with what I feel! She thought angrily. Logain had nothing to do with the please feeling inside her, nothing! "For almost twenty five years, Lews Therin was a worse lecher than I could even dream of being." Logain rose an eyebrow to this, then frowned as he remembered what she told him about herself. She had hard time accepting her new body, she still felt... peculiar, remembering the times when she was a man.

"That is no way to win a woman's heart, the worst fool in the world should understand it." Leane comment calmly. The woman believed her, but she didn't believed

"Maybe Lews Therin didn't know it," Halima answered her, "I don't know, all I know is that for twenty five years Lews Therin seemed to drown himself in women. From every rank, from every land and city. Whatever they could channel or not, he rarely spent more than a week with the same woman, never more than two. Lanfear was furious, somehow, she felt Lews Therin was doing it to avenge him on her."

"What did Ilyena?" Toviene asked, she seemed to be as curious as Leane and Logain were.

"She was even more angry than Lanfear, if that was possible," Halima smiled to herself, "until she rejected him, Lews Therin wouldn't have even dreamed about doing it. The worst of it, from her point of view, was that everyone knew that Lews Therin did it to win her. Of course, at the time, no one knew what Lews Therin was doing, he simply seemed trying to drown himself in women."

"Not a bad thing to do, when you need something to cheer you up," Logain murmured, almost too law for her to hear. Toviene glared at him, Leane leaned to touch his knee, whispering something Halima didn't caught. Halima stared at Logain in amazement, whatever Leane said, Logain cheeks flushed like two suns. Although he was amused at the same time. He said something back to Leane, Halima would have gave much to know what the two said to each other. Whatever Logain told to Leane in return, it made her laugh, although she, too, blushed as furiously as Logain had.

Toviene snorted, attempting to enter true disgust into her voice, and failing miserably. "Carry on, Halima. They can continue doing this for hours." There was a hint in the Red's voice, she was interested in the two's words as much as she herself was.

Halima cleared her throat, for the forth time, before either Logain or Leane paid her any attention. Both looked startled, Leane blushed again, Logain only looked ashamed. "What were you saying, Halima?" Leane said, "Something about Lews Therin being a lecher."

Halima tightened her mouth, one of the things that always made her lose her control on her temper was losing the listeners' attention. "We're sorry," Logain said, he was sorry. It surprised her deeply, she hadn't thought he care about her feeling. Being who, and what, she was. "You said Lews Therin wasn't a fool, if Rand al'Thor is close to Lews Therin in any way, save being him reborn, of course," He smiled shortly at that, could you be any more closer than that? "Thinking about the Dragon as a fool is a mistake I'm not about to do. Why under the Light would he do such a thing? It's worse than madness!"

"He needed to understand why Ilyena rejected him, and apparently he decided that this is the best way to learn how." Halima answered, at least she had his attention now. It surprised her how much she wanted it.

"He won her heart, in the end, but..." Logain signed deeply, "I wish I could talk with Lews Therin," There was a far off look in his eyes.

"You can," Halima couldn't stop a shudder, "I met al'Thor only once, and I don't remember much of it. Death tend to make strange things to your mind," It surprised her that she could laugh at this, it was the most horrible incident in her life, by far. "Death is not something I would choose, Logain Albar," She said in a quiet tone, certainly not when she already knew what was expecting her, "I've died once, I doubt if I'll have another change, and there is no one who know better than me what is waiting from me, but believe me when I say you this. I will kill myself and not let Lews Therin have me," She rose one hand tiredly, she was so tired suddenly, "Rand al'Thor is Lews Therin, you can see The Lord of Morning staring back at you when you look at al'Thor! I've seen them both. And there is nothing that can frighten me more than death save being in the Dragon's hands." She shivered uncontrolled now, what Lews Therin had promised to do to her... She could still remember cold hard eyes, staring at her through the miles that separated them, saidin filled her that day, and a day that should have been victorious became horror. Lews Therin cried, she remembered, cried over a young woman's body, one of those heroes he had adopted that she had killed. But his voice held the coldness of saidin itself when his words seemed to echo throughout the world. He promised to avenged her. And say whatever you wanted about Lews Therin, he always kept loyal to his word. "He promised me... something," Even now, so many years after that day, she couldn't help trembling at the memory, "and he will keep what he said. I would die before letting him have me, I will!" Why was she so tired suddenly?

"Lews Therin died long time ago," Logain said to her, "Rand may be Lews Therin Reborn, but he isn't Lews Therin himself. He can't remember something that he hadn't lived. You have no reason to-"

"I've looked at your Rand's eyes, Logain!" Halima shouted, she jumped to her feet, tried to, she was so weak suddenly she could barely move, Logain caught her with flows of air, or else she would have fall back. "He's Lews Therin, oh Light, why can't you understand-" Blackness took her, she didn't have the power to open her eyes.

She caught Logain muttering "I'm sorry," before the darkness had her fully. No power remaining in her body.

Halima woke slowly, she lied on a hard wooden chair, something soft were tuck behind her head. "I will not allow it!" Logain said, he was standing near her, she could feel his hand on her shoulder. "Not even you can demand it from you, Rand al'Thor! Not even you have the right!" Controlled fury held Logain. "Is it not enough that you've nearly killed me and her both, cutting her off from the Dark One?" Halima felt weak, almost as weak as she felt when she fainted, too weak even to open her eyes. But she noted the absence of the her bond. Something that she hadn't truly felt until it was gone. Something she was happy to be rid of.

"She is asleep because you've drain away almost every bit of power she had." A cold voice answer Logain, the accent, the choosing of the words, even the pauses between the words. The voice itself was different, but in anything else, it was Lews Therin who spoke. "What you can take, you can also give. And don't you dare tell me you've not thought about it. She will answer the questions I've, or else..." Lews Therin fell silent of less than a heartbeat, enough to make her imagine the worst. Lews Therin and the Dark One were feared equally, in her heart. Both could make her wish to die again, she, who know what was waiting for her. She felt Logain hesitating, fear, angry and worry battling in the back of her head. In the back of her head, she could feel the knot of emotions that were Logain beginning to warm up, glowing. Warmth flowed into her, it felt a little like what she felt when Logain had bonded her. Opening her eyes, she stared at the room.

Logain stood next to her, one hand on her shoulder, another running on the long hilt of his sword, he didn't seem to be aware of it. He held saidin to bursting. Flows of Air and Earth and Fire ready inside him, he could weave them instantly. A shield of some sort, Halima thought. She had no doubt that Lews Therin knew it too. It touched something inside her, Logain sided her, even when it came to confronting Lews Therin. She knew herself well enough to know that had their cases been reverse, she wouldn't have do the same. She suppress the stab shame she felt, it was no time or place to think about her flaws. Logain wore black, as usual, but he was coatless, his coat making a pillow for her. She was in a large room, the walls were smooth by the One Power, maybe she was in some sort of a cave. Few chairs were scattered all over the room. And two tables she could see. One loaded with maps to bursting, the other's content was hidden from her eyes by a tall women with red hair and green eyes that stare at her flat eyes. She wore blue and gray, strangely enough, she wore breaches and coat in a man's style. Halima was sure she had seen her before. Aviendha, was that was her name? She noticed that she did anything to avoid looking at Lews Therin. But she was force to stare at him. "Eval Ramman," The man's voice came in a hiss, so much like Lews Therin's voice that she shuddered. She was in Lews Therin's hands, unable to channel. The man stood in front of her, slightly taller than even Logain. He had red hair, not deep brown, and blue-gray eyes instead of almost black. The way he stood, the way he eyed her coldly, even the way his mouth twisted at the sight of her, everything hinted about Lews Therin. The man that promise to make her pay in the ways that could send chill even into Semirhage's heart. The man wore blue coat, and she could see muscles moving under his coat as he walked slowly toward her. "It has been long since that day in M'Jinn." The last confirmation she had needed. He remembered, she was becoming stronger with the moment. But she could rise from the chair for her life. Fear stabbing through her life a knife.

Logain flowed between her and Lews Therin, "You will not harm her, I agree that you will question her, and she will answer you. But you-will-not-harm-her!" Lews Therin eyed Logain coldly. He was stronger than Logain. Halima doubted if Logain had the advantage of superior knowledge, if Lews Therin remembered the only time she had met him before she forsook the Light, what else did he remembered? If Logain would face him, Logain would die. And she couldn't allow it. Logain and Lews Therin stared at each other, none of them wanted violence, both were ready to begin it. She rose to her feet unsteadily. And both men turned to gaze at her. Logain moved to support her. "You will not harm her." He repeat, "I will not allow you to harm her."

"You have my word on it, Logain Albar." The woman, Aviendha, said suddenly, walking to lie a hand on Lews Therin's shoulder. "He will not harm her." Lews Therin turned to look at the woman.

"What in the name of the Light you think-?" He began angrily. The woman said something, Halima's skin tingled. She should have heard something, the woman must have erected a barrier against eavesdropping. Lews Therin and the woman in blue and gray talked for few moments. Halima knew that Logain's life, her own, maybe even Leane's and Toviene's as well were in the stake her. Neither she nor Logain made any sound.

"As you say, Aviendha." Lews Therin said, the sound of her voice gave her a start. Halima gave this Aviendha a second glance, who was she, to have such affect on Lews Therin? Ilyena might have succeeded in such task, but none else Halima could remember.

Before he could turn to her, Halima spoke, directing her words to Lews Therin, "I will answer your question the best I can, Lews Therin." Her bond to the Dark One gone, the hunters were already set, the Dark One wouldn't let her slip away without a punishment, she didn't even want to consider what that punishment would be. Giving herself to Lews Therin might be better, but only might.

"You've better had," Lews Therin said, his voice mild. The look in his eyes gave the true meaning. She swallowed hard and moved away from Logain, she doubt if she could stand for long. She sat down as gracefully as she could. No use trying to seduce him, with other men, it might have worked, with him... He hadn't wasted all those years studying women. She have seen him make women fall in love with him while not an hour ago they proclaimed their eternal hate to him. She had heard stories about Lews Therin, some were rumors, some were not. She knew of three times for sure where it was said he had broken men in moments. Even Semirhage couldn't be that quick. She had run a spying network, a network of eyes and ears that equaled, if not bested, Moghedien's. She knew much more the the Light thought, much more the the Light feared. She knew what Lews Therin was capable of doing, more than any other of those who belonged to the Shadow did. Her fear had it's reason. Lews Therin looked at her, a hawk watching a rabbit. She had ignored Burning Heats and Freezing Chills for time longer than memory, but she began to sweat under the gaze of those blue gray eyes.

It was more than eight hours later when Halima left the room where she had been questioned. Lews Therin had probed out of her anything she knew. Everything about the Dark One's plans. Everything she knew about Osan'gar, her guesses about Naeb'lis, the man who called himself Moridin. Simply everything she knew. Logain had a hand around her, supporting her. She had no idea how he held on. Save the catnap when she had taken that bath she needed so much, he hadn't slept since he had bonded her. "Everything will be fine, Halima." Logain reassured her. She laughed softly to this, and tripped her own feet. Logain didn't even bother to ask her, he took her up in his arms like she was a child. As if she weighted nothing.

It was very nice, being so close to him. Faintly, she could her his heart beating. For some reason, she felt safe when he was near. He would let nothing harm her. She wasn't sure about her name anymore, she thought about herself as Halima now, an interesting side affect. But she had other names. Names that she had more right to bear than Halima. But she had no wish to bear them. Aran'gar, Balthamel, the name she once had, weren't something she could continued to be called. And she had lost every right to her own name, all but forgotten, Eval Ramman. Eval Ramman died with Balthamel, Aran'gar died with the bond, now I'm only Halima. "I wish I could be so sure myself, Logain." She whispered, his arms tighten around her for a heartbeat. "And the hunt after me already began." She was tired, exhausted, both in the body and in the mind. Being near Lews Therin for so long, close enough to touch him had she had any wish to do so had its affect on her. And she still hadn't recovered fully from Logain drawing her strength from her. He continued to send his own strength into her, but even this wasn't enough. He kept a steady flow of warmth, but he couldn't make it stronger without emptying himself. "Few survived the Dark One's fury, Logain." She murmured. His arms were so strong around her, but at the same time so tender. Logain said nothing to this, there was nothing to say. She hadn't regret him bonding her. She only regretted the pain that would be cause to Logain. "What was that last bit, Logain? Why Lews Therin wanted me not to hear it?"

"He told me that you could be either be his, or die." Logain said grimly. His pace hadn't slow, but she felt anger in him.

Halima struggled to get to her feet, but Logain held her easily. "You're going to give him my bond?" She have heard it was possible, with the bond Aes Sedai created. She had never dreamed about Logain doing something of the like to her. She didn't even want to dream what life would be, eternity bound to Lews Therin.

Logain halted immediately, her struggle made no impression on him, but her words seem to hurt him. "Even if this was possible, not even to save you life, or mine, I will not give your bond to another." It had the sound of an oath, in a way, it was exactly this. "Halima, this is something not done, not for any reason. It'll be more merciful to kill you. For both of us."

"Then what did you mean then?" Relief drowned her, she wouldn't be Lews Therin's warder, she would remain near Logain. It troubled her to find out that the last bother her more than the first.

"He didn't like the color of your dress, Halima." Logain said, he began trotting again. She made no move to escape his arms. It felt too good. "You're going to be an Asha'man." He laughed suddenly, "The only female Asha'man ever, so it seems."

That brought another question, a question that was vital for her. "Logain," She hesitated, but only for a heartbeat, "when are you going to allow me to touch saidin again?'

Logain sighed, she could feel saidin pulsing in him, "At the moment, I can't let you touch it." He said, his voice trying to be gentle. She stiffened, fine, if he doesn't trust me, burn him! "As far as I understand, Halima," Logain's voice hadn't changed a hair, but she bite back sharp words. "Your bond to the Dark One had protected you from the taint. If you will draw saidin now, you will draw the taint too. I would have rather have you avoiding the taint."

"And when will it be safe for me to touch the power? When it will be cleansed?" Her body stiffened again, Logain said not a word. He didn't even try to hide what was clear on his face. "Is he mad already?" She asked breathlessly, "And you too? There is no way you could reach half the power needed to cleanse saidin, not a tenth of was is needed, that is to say you know how to do this."

"I believe that it can be done, Halima. And even if we will fail, it still worth trying." Logain said absently. He seemed to be thinking deeply.

"When?" Halima knew there was no way of convincing him not to take part of this. She wouldn't even try, but...

"The day after tomorrow, Halima." Logain carried her through a wide corridor now, and waved Air to open a door. He seemed to think that she couldn't walk by herself. He moved through three or four rooms. Modestly decorated, as she noticed when he passed quickly through them. He took her to the bedchamber. The flow of warmth, of strength into her faded slowly. She had no idea how tired she was the moment she couldn't lean any longer on Logain's strength. All she could do was to seat down on a bed big enough for seven or eight people while Logain undressed her, leaving her with her shift alone. He tucked her under a blanket and walked out the room, muttering something about a bath. The bed already contained Leane and Toviene. It seemed that there was only one bed in Logain's rooms. She could worry about it another time, she fell asleep before Logain was outside the room. She didn't even had the time to wonder whatever Lews Therin would get her note, she feared to tell him what she guessed in his face, and feared almost as much not telling him at all.

Aviendha poured herself a cup of chilled wine. She could feel Rand's eyes on her back. She was surprised to realize how adopted she became of dresses. Returning to breaches and coats look almost... unnatural to her. But breaches and coat were far more comfortable than any dress could be, thought not as pretty. "What did she meant, Rand? Asking whatever you can still hold saidin?"

"It's a joke, Avi." Rand replayed, his eyes never leaving her, it felt good, very good, to have him looking at her that way. It was even better when he used her honey name. "A very old one, 'When you can't find saidin around a woman, it's already too late to run," He stopped as she slumped on his lap, trying to look casual. He took her face with his hand and kissed her. Somehow, she managed both being kissed and not spilling a drop of her wine.

"What is the only thing you can do?" She asked her, her cheeks felt like fire. Light, but she loved the man with all her heart.

" 'Marry her.' " Rand murmured, his mouth almost touching hers. Careful not to spill the wine, he embraced her.

"Here is a nice idea," She smiled at him, it always stunned her to see, to feel, what a simple smile could do to him. His eyes turned soft, morning skies eyes full of love. Inside, he was filled with the senses of her, her touch, her smell.

"But I can still hold saidin near you, Avi." His grin vanish as she hit him in the ribs. Not hard, he could take almost anything, but the pain inside him had nothing to do with the body. They were the only weak spot in his armor. The only one he opened his heart to, revealing secrets Aviendha sometimes he had hidden from himself. She kissed him, just so he would know what she feel for him. A man had the right to know this, after all.

She broke the kiss to give him a level look, "Rand, are you sure it's wise? What you're about to do?" She thought it was madness, but she, too, saw no other way. "You listed the dangers yourself, what if something will go wrong and - "

Rand kept one hand around her waist, the other he put against her mouth. "Avi, what if I will do nothing?" She bite his hand, hard. He had no right to be reasonable just when she wanted him to be gravely wrong. He said it himself, he was going mad, and it was either cleansing saidin, or risking him going mad before the Last Battle. Either way, the world would might pay dearly. But when one path offered hope, although small one. Another held nothing save fears and pitfalls and constant worry, with even less hope than the first one.

She desperately searched another topic to talk about. Maybe it was the best time to try Min's advice. Kissing the trouble away. When Elayne asked her where did she found out about it, Min claimed that it was Rand's method. And a method that certainly worked on her, and Elayne. Suddenly she remembered the piece of paper Logain's warder had given her. She had no intention of getting off Rand any time soon. Touching saidar momentarily, she wove Air and a paper float in the air at her direction. "Halima gave me this, Rand." Aviendha said, Rand's face turned to stone in less than a heartbeat. "She said you will need to read it." She already taken a look, few sentences, scribed hastily in the Old Tongue. She knew little of the Old Tongue, not enough to read what it was said.

Rand had taken the sheet of paper from her hand and eyed it with cold eyes. His face became pale slowly. "Ilyena," He whispered, "No, it can't be! It can't be!" He rose to his feet suddenly, send her, the wine and the paper to the floor. He even ignored her startled shout. Fury and anger and grief and sorrow and hate battled into him, along with other half a dozen emotion she had no name for. Rand rose his hand, Aviendha saw tendrils of flames between the fingers. He rose his hand, ready to destroy everything he saw. He rose his hand, and saw her. He looked at her as if he didn't know her. The world was lost, he had gone mad. with only few days remaining until saidin will be cleaned. The world was lost. She only thanked the Light for being the first victim, not having to watch the disaster. "Light," Rand gasped, sliding to his knees next to her. He sat directly on the wet spot where the wine had spilled.

Aviendha didn't trust her feet, relief and fear made them too weak. She crawled to Rand, hugging him. Giving him what comfort she could. "What is wrong, what the letter says?" If the woman did it on purpose, Aviendha would made her eat this paper. Former Forsaken or no Former Forsaken.

"Ilyena," Rand whispered, "Ishmael said he can give her back to me. But I refused, and died. Balthamel think that she might be back." Aviendha closed her eyes. What do I feel about it? She had no idea. "Cyndane, Balthamel says she is easily as strong as Lanfear," His hands went around her slowly, did he felt her trembling? She feared the very memory of the woman. "And there are..." Rand took a deep breath, looking up at him, she could clearly see unshed tears in his eyes. "There are other evidences why it can't be Lanfear. And only my Ilyena was as strong as Lanfear." Aviendha could think of a hundred reasons why this couldn't be, the strongest of them, men had more than hard time, trying to guess a woman's strength. They could, roughly, by trying to shield a woman and measuring the resistance. "Avi," Rand whispered to her hair, "what can I do?" She had never seen him helpless before. "What can I do?" She had no answer for him.

Halima woke slowly, a dream hunted her. She hugged Logain even more tightly, and tried to go back to sleep. She was suddenly awake, Logain's arms were wrapped around her, and she had her own hands around his neck.

She still had her shift on, and she thought she could dimly remember how Logain slipped into the bed. She was half asleep when he did it. But she remembered him staying well away from her. It was she who moved to embrace him. Save sleeping in his arms, nothing happened that shouldn't have. Save everything, of course, she thought, the bond should have never been created. Some part of her mind mourned what shouldn't have, mustn't have, and wouldn't have happened.

She lied with Logain's arms around her, hugging him, arguing with herself for hours. In this area, the bond has almost no affects, but it never once occurred to her that she could simply move away. Not even once.


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