Posted at the Scriptorium February 01-March 08, 1999
Category: WoT Third Age
Author: Garatt Jax (Michael Hiler II)

The Story Behind Garatt Jax

Prologue: The Curse Of saidin
Chapter 1: Chachin
Chapter 2: Capture
Chapter 3: Dark Dreams
Chapter 4: The Rescue
Chapter 5: Painful Discoveries
Chapter 6: Whispers In The Dark
Chapter 7: Healings
Chapter 8: Garatt Jax
Chapter 9: Answers By The Lake
Chapter 10: Escapes
Epilogue: The Journey Begins

The story of Garatt Jax is one that is based on the world and universe of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. Garatt Jax is a character that I made up and has nothing to do with The Wheel of Time, nor has Robert Jordan given me permission to use his story. This is not, however in violation of any copyrights, for the story of Garatt Jax, and the name of Garatt Jax has been approved by the creators of the web page Dragonmount.com, which is the home of a Role Playing game that is also based on Robert Jordan’s story.

I have the greatest respect for The Wheel of Time, and all the books therein. I am a big fan of Robert Jordan, and have tried to do the best job I can not to screw up his story. The story behind my character, which is presented in novel form, even though it is based on Jordan’s work, it does not follow the basic story line. It has the same back-ground, the same names of places and certain people (ex. Aes Sedai, Whitecloaks, Wolfbrother’s, the Dark One, and the Light--things like that). Many of the characters in this, however, are from my mind, and not the story Jordan made.

Although all of this is laid down, I must say that this still is based largely on Robert Jordan’s works, and, even though I am considered a fairly good writer by some, I can only hope that I do not "step on the toes of The Great Robert Jordan himself," so to speak. I use his books as a reference, and some of the official web sites as well, but I am still prone to make a few mistakes in the history and names that Jordan worked so hard to come up with. I can now only hope that this story will entertain any who read it, and that they know for a fact, that this, compared to the mind of Garatt Jax, is only the measly words of a blind man... on paper, of course!

-Thanks, and enjoy!


Prologue: The Curse Of saidin

As the sun sets in the west, the sky seemed to have caught on fire, for the clouds were a bright red, yellow, and orange. The colors were so bright, that it was almost as painful as the sun to look at. The light from the clouds also lit up the land of the Caralain Grass. Together, both the clouds and the Grass seemed to be on fire. It was so beautiful...

At least, that’s what the man standing there, looking across the Grass thought. A sharp wind came down across the expanses of the Black Hills, which blew his cloak back. He quickly wrapped himself again and looked away from the Grass and the bleak, dark rock of the Black Hills.

Charien Mer’dalle looked back the way he had come. So far, it seemed to him. To think, he told himself, that it was only two weeks since he, his wife, and his then unborn son chased out of our own village.

Morgaise coughed and he turned to look at her, concern mirrored in his eyes. It’s getting worse. "Are you all right?"

She nodded, and even tried a weak smile, but he knew that she wasn’t. He slowly shook his head. She had come down with this fever just days before, and it had gotten bad. Very bad. Then one day, it just stopped. He thought that the worse was over, that it had gone away, yet now it seems to have come back. This time with a vengeance.

"You sure?" he asked. "We could stop now and rest for the night and I could build a fire..."

"No, Charien," she said firmly. "No. If you do that, some one might find us. And you know just as well as I do what that would mean..."

He nodded his head slowly and continued walking, tugging the reins of the horse that carried his wife and newborn son. He remembered all too well. They would come out of the night and ambush them. They would make a lot of noise and spook the horse and themselves, yet, oddly enough, they didn’t seem to do much else. They would come out of the dark, much as if they were apart of it, and force them on their way.

Charien’s brow furrowed in thought at that. It was strange that they never did anything to us. They just seemed to try and spook us and send us running. He has never thought about it before now. And now it made him think. How did they find us every night for five nights in a row? And when they did, why didn’t they steal anything? They had enough time, and they certainly looked like thieves... Charien frowned. He was liking this less and less. It did seem to him that they just came out of nowhere, and all they seemed to do was just scare them off. Yet that wasn’t what caught his mind. They had left for the valley’s north of Andor and they haven’t seen any villages for miles to come. They were just moving through empty space.

Where did these people come from?

At first, he thought that their village must have sent them--Light, they sent word to every village from Baerlon to Four Kings describing them, but he didn’t think so, and he quickly brushed that thought aside unless he wants to get all upset again.

So, where did they come from? And why were they herding them off in the direction of the Grass and the Black Hills? That is what they were doing, he was sure of it. Why? And why did they just stop two nights ago--which was at the same time that the Black Hills came in view?

Of course, he had a theory, but he would sooner cut off his tongue than even think it was somewhat true.

Morgaise lightly kicked him on the back and looked down at him like she was ready to cut off his tongue for him. He looked up at her with a questioning look, then gave a slight start when he realized that he had stopped moving. His face slightly colored. He shook his head and started forward again. Then, only a few moments passed before she coughed again, this time much rougher. He looked back at her again, but this time she gave him a look that stopped what he was going to say before it even came out.

After a little while, he looked back at her and gave her a smile. "How’s our son doing?"

She gave a little laugh as she answered. "He’s doing just fine. He never cries. Even when he’s hungry. He’s strong, just like you." She gave him another smile.

Their son was born only six or seven days ago, at the same night that the raiders came, and on that night, hours before they were chased off, he can never remember his son ever crying. The only time he has ever heard him was just after he was born. Charien smiled at that. Strong like me, eh? Never cries, except for that one time, eh?

He looked back at his wife and smiled anew. Until that moment, Charien thought that the most beautiful thing in the world was his wife. He still smiles when he thinks back to his youth, when he used to sit down at the village green and just stare at Morgaise all day long as the other women in the village teach her how to bake and clean, dreaming of the day that he would marry her. And he would, he told everyone. There was no doubt in his mind of that. All the women in the village looked at him with discuss, and with wonder. Even the Wisdom seemed to think that he was serious about marring Morgaise.

He smiled again. Then his son was born, and everything in his life faded away to nothing, and it was just him, and his son. Morgaise was still the love of his life, but his son was his life.

The smile soon faded as he walked the horse through the Grass, the sun slowly disappearing on the horizon. Memories of what had led to this moment caught up to him, and his joy was very rapidly replaced with rage.

Those bloody fools, he thought. Sending me and my wife out of our own village like we were rabid wolves! Screaming at us, throwing rock. Ohh, how he could remember their taunts, their accusations. He could remember them all too well.

It seemed like just yesterday that their doors were busted in and they were thrown out like thieves, flung out of their own house. There were given only one weeks rations and a horse for Morgaise to ride in, because she was almost dew. He pleaded for them to wait until she gave birth, time enough to prove that what they said was wrong. But no. They flung them out and chased them off.

To think! he told himself. They accused me of being able to Channel!

It was stupid, he kept telling himself. He would have known if he was able to Channel the One Power. Yet the whole village seemed to have made up their minds. The whole village seemed to believe the Council, and the Council believed in that crazy old man that cam into the village just days before. He just arrived, one day he was almost being thrown out, and then next he was being asked to take over as Mayor!

Those bloody fools! Burn them all! Blood and bloody ashes, burn them all!

That old man said that he saw him Channeling, and everyone believed him. Then the Council said that they now know what happened to Goodwife Wikker’s barn. That they now know who set it on fire. Charien!

Of course, he said that was outrageous. He told them that he was having an argument with the Mayor at that moment, and that he couldn’t have set it on fire.

The old man said that that was when he used the One Power. That he was so upset, that he set the barn on fire.

That was it. That was all the evidence that the people needed. The next thing he knew, he was being thrown out of his own house! It all made him sick. He couldn’t channel. It was all just a coincidence. It had to be! It just had to!

Yet... At the same time, he did feel something strange...

No! I refuse to believe that! I can’t Channel!

So what if his father could?

This time Morgaise’s coughing almost made her fall off the horse. Charien noticed that they were near a small spruce of trees and thought that this would be a good place to stop for the night.

"Okay," Charien said. "Time to stop. And build a fire." When Morgaise tried to protest, he just shook his head and said with a firm voice, "No arguing. You’re sick, and you need rest, and a fire. So does the baby. I don’t care if they see us again, even though they haven’t in the past two days. I doubt that anyone else is this close to the Dark Hills anyway."

With that, he helped his wife out and set her down on the ground. She didn’t like to be helped like that--she was always strong like that--but she did need it. After he started a fire, she and their son was fast asleep.

Charien sat there and stared at them both as they slept for long moments until he felt too tired, so he rolled himself in his cloak and tried to sleep. Yet sleep didn’t come as fast as he wanted it to.

All he could think about was his father, and how he was able to Channel, how the Red Ajah came over from Tar Valon and gentled him. What makes him think that he couldn’t do the same? What make’s him think that his son won’t be able to either? It chilled him to the bone, but he had to consider it. It could be true. Still, he thought, they still could have waited until Morgaise had given birth...

Morgaise’s screams awoke Charien with a start.

At first, he had no idea what was going on, or where he was. He had just awoken from a very wired dream. He had dreamed that he was standing in a field with a large castle to his right, and two women were fighting to his left. One was dressed in red, the other in white. From the castle, Charien felt a strange sense of despair, of hope lost. From the two women, there was only rage. At what, he could not tell. They were fighting over something, a small bundle of white cloth. A large thunderstorm was raging above them.

He walked up to the tow women and tried to ask what was going on, but nothing came out. He tried again, but this time the thunderclap drowned out his words. Yet he could hear some of what the two women were saying.

"No! You can’t have him! He is mine!" the one in white screamed as she wrestled with the other.

"No! He’s mine! I have to see if he’s the one!"

"My fellow Followers already know he’s the one!"

"Nonsense! Even if you did know, you can’t have him!" the one in red screamed.

"Aagh! The Light burn you! All you will do is to use him for your own propose!"

Then Charien tried to speak again, but once more, nothing came out. He took another step forward then stopped once he saw the bundle of cloth at the women’s feet move.

What under the Light is that? he thought. He looked down, trying to see what it was through the darkness of the storm. Then a lightning bolt flashed and the cloth bundle was reviled for just a fraction of a second. Charien took a step back, his hand to his mouth.

A baby! He thought in horror. They are fighting over a baby! And not just any baby, but mine!

His son looked up at him and opened his mouth and gave a blood curling scream, the same scream that woke him up. Charien looked around sleepily to see if he awoke his wife and son as well, but they were no where to be seen.

At first, Charien just laughed. Where is she now? He looked around him again, but he still didn’t see anything. Just the small grove of trees that they were able to find on the Grass. There was nothing there but the light shadowy forms of trees and bushes. He laughed again. Why me? He was about to call out when he heard Morgaise scream again, this time it was a scream of pain and worry. Without even thinking, Charien was on his feet, sword in hand, and was rushing off into the trees towards the light flicker of a fire that burned in the distance. Then something huge seemed to just rise out of the ground and with a hart-stopping roar, rushed at him, a strange, dark sword held ready.

Charien had his sword out as fast as he could, but not fast enough. With a lunge, the shadowy figure slammed into his body, knocking him down. The wind was knocked out of his body and he began to see bright spots before his eyes. With all his strength, Charien heaved up with his legs, catching the shadowy figure square in the ribs, knocking him on his back at least four feet away. He got up and held his sword ready, the shadow charging him once more, but this time he was ready, and whatever it was fell right into the tip of his sword, then the rest of the blade sank in. The weight of the creature was enormous, and they both hit the ground with a loud thud.

Charien kept still for a few moments before he realized that whatever it was is dead. The smell of it was repulsive and he had to breath through his mouth to keep from gagging. Then he pushed up and the body fell off to the side. Charien rolled away and slowly stood up, looking around to see if there were any more of those things around. When he was satisfied that there were no more, he walked over to the body and was about to pull the sword out of its body. His hand gripped the hilt of the sword and was about to pull back when he saw the face of what attacked him in faint moon light. He gave a slight yelp and fell back, the sword in hand.

"By the Light, it can’t be! It can’t! Blood and bloody ashes, it can’t!"

At Charien’s feet, slain by his own hand, was a Trolloc, it’s snout was all bloody and one of its goat horns was broken.

Then Morgaise screamed again, only this time it was filled with intense pain. Without hesitation, Charien ran off once more in direction of that fire, his head spinning and his heart pounding.

By the Light! A bloody Trolloc! Oh, burn me! Morgaise!

He then pushed himself harder as he got closer to the small fire that showed momentarily through the foliage. As he got closer, he noticed several shadowy shapes that were surrounding the fire. Then he burst out into the clearing, his sword held ready. As he landed with a thud, over a dozen Trollocs turned as one, the surprise apparent on their face’s.

That was when he saw her.

Morgaise was being held up by her arms, a Trolloc on either side, each pulling on her arms in a tug-of-war. Her dress was slightly torn along the seams of her dress where the sleeves meet the body, and light speckles of blood staining her armpits. Charien gave a roar of defiance and terror and started running towards them, his sword held high above his head, ready to cut down the two Trollocs that was holding his wife, no matter how many were in his way. Then, after he took two steps forward, he noticed something moved slightly in the deep shadows of the fire, and he just got a glimpse of a hand raising, and he couldn’t move.

The person in the shadows moved its fingers as Charien tried to scream, and nothing came out. It felt like something had wrapped around his throat with iron. He couldn’t believe it. His legs were held tight like they were wrapped in jelly! The Trollocs all laughed and then turned back to look at Morgaise. The two Trollocs started to pull again, and she gave a loud moan of pain. By the light, I can’t take it any more! His wife was being torn apart right in front of him, and there wasn’t anything he could do to stop it! He tried to scream again, but nothing came out.

The Trollocs then started to pull harder, and Morgaise’s screams rose again, this time more urgent.

"Charien! It hurts too much! Make it stop! PLEASE! CHARIEN!! PLEASE!!!"

The Trollocs then began to chant, throwing their arms high in the air, as if they were encouraging the other two Trollocs to pull harder. Then the two gave a final, violent heave.

"CHAAAARRRRIENNNNNN!!!!" she screeched.

Then she stopped screaming and fell silent. The two Trollocs fell back, each holding an arm. Morgaise’s body fell to the ground, landing in a pool of her own blood, still and lifeless. Charien felt his whole life fade away at that sight, like the Trollocs stripped his own heart out of his living body. Then he felt something else, something growing inside him like a fire. A burning that never stopped, but kept going, seeming to grow on forever. Charien was so caught up in his own grief to notice this burning, or notice that the hand that was raised to hold him jerked back in pain, nor did he notice that his body glowed in an ever increasing power.

"MOOOORGAAAAISSSE!!!!!"

All the Trollocs took a step back in shock and fear--even the person in the shadows took a step back--and everything was lost in a pulse of white light that radiated from his body, consuming the Trollocs and the shadowy figure, the dead body of Morgaise, and turned them all to ash...

With a grunt, Charien fell to the scorched ground, the light leaving his body like a candle burning out. He couldn’t believe what just happened. He looked slowly around. Everything was burned to a crisp; the trees, the grass, even the dirt. Even the bodies were nothing but piles of dust.

Morgaise...

Charien fought back against the tears that threatened to come to his eyes, but it was no use. She was dead. That was the only thing that came into his mind. She was dead. He had used the One Power--how under the Light was he able to do that!--and had killed her!

No! he told himself. Those Trollocs killed her! She was already dead! He killed the Trollocs, and they are the ones that killed her... My wife... That’s what he did. Not her. Never her. Never his wife, his love, his life. He could never... kill...

"Morgaise..." he whimpered as the tears came running down his face. He brought his hands up to his face and his shoulders shook with hatred and sorry, the sobs uncontrollable.

"By the Light... Morgaise..."

Then Charien was hit in the back of the head from behind, and everything was lost in the bright flash of light that sparkled before his eyes, then darkness.

When he came to, Charien was laying on his stomach, and he was held down by unseen hands. They had to be from Trollocs, because he felt that one or two of the hands that held him was a hoof. He tried to move, but he couldn’t, the hands holding him fast. He looked up and saw a Trolloc standing in front of him, holding his son in one hand, and one of their strange blades in the other, held back and ready to slash down at his son. He wanted to scream again, but nothing came out. He just sat there and cried again, the tears running down.

"No!" came a strange hiss from the darkness.

The Trolloc gave a start, then looked at the babe again, then back to where the voice had come from.

"Drop that child, Trolloc! I command you! This child will be useful, and I see great potential in him... as well as great danger."

The Trolloc lowered his sword, then dropped the babe. It hit the ground with a slight thud, but it never made a sound, even after it hit the ground.

"Stand the human up!" it hissed again.

Charien was pulled up by several Trollocs and was forced in the direction of the voice from the darkness. Then, to his shock and dread, a Myrddraal walked out of the shadows and stood before him. As it stood there, the fading moonlight highlighted its pasty white skin and eyeless face. It was only a few inches shorter than Charien, yet it seemed to stand above the frightened human, its eyeless gaze looking right into his soul.

"My," it hissed. "You are powerful, human. Yet you do not know this yet, do you? You cannot control it. You killed twenty of my Trollocs, and for that I should kill you where you stand, but the Great Lord wants you alive. And alive you shall stay." It then grabbed Chariens shirt and hoisted him up a foot above the ground. "But mind this, human! Even though it is taking almost all of my power to keep you from touching the True Source, do not think that you can escape! If you even think about it, I will kill you myself!"

He dropped Charien on the ground and then smiled. "Soon, you will call me ‘Lord,’ and The Dark One, ‘Master’!"

Charien had one last look at his son before he was surrounded by a strange blue fire. At first he thought that he was going to be burned, but then he knew that he would never be killed. No matter what the Myrddraal said, he would never die. His fate will be much, much worse...

Right before he disappeared within the fire, he looked at his son and was allowed one last thought; I never even named him. Then they all disappeared in the flash of the blue flames.

In the empty clearing that was all burned by fire and covered in the ashes of dead bodies, the only noise that broke the silence was the crying of the babe that had never cried before...

[top]

Chapter 1: Chachin

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose from the Black Hills. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

In the small clearing, the silence was broken for the first time in over four hours by the crying of a child left in a clearing in a small spruce of trees. The ground around it was charred as if a fire had raged there not so long ago, the trees and even the dirt was burned to a crisp. Then a small band of Tuatha’an wandered into the clearing. There, they saw the young babe, crying, apparently abandoned. They took petty on him, gathered him up, and then left the area. No one bothered to search the area for any other survivors, nor did any of the Tuatha’an bother to see if they can find out what happened. The smell of charred flesh spoke for itself.

The boy, whom the Tuatha’an named Gertallon, was raised as one of them. From the moment he was brought in, they taught him The Way of the Leaf, yet other things as well. He lived with them for five years, and he was already smarter than many of the adults. He had learned things in the five years that he was with them that had taken others years to even grasp.

Yet, soon after, he began to cause trouble. He began to start things with the other children. He began to push the boys and pull the hair of the girls. He wouldn’t do what the older people would say, and he often cursed; something that he learned from travelers that stopped by. They told them that it was wrong to do these things, and when he said that he was sorry, they let him play with the others again, yet he kept on pushing and pulling hair.

Finally they had enough and everyone in the camp decided that they should drop him off at the nearest town, that he was Lost. By now they were in the Borderlands and at each town that they stopped by - the wagons never came close to the towns or farms, so they sent out one or two men with the boy - they were told to turn around, that would never take a Tinker in. No matter what.

So each day they sent out one or two men with the boy in tow, and at each town or farm - even at some cities - they were told to turn back. They were even chased out in some. Finally, they came across the city of Chachin. As they approached, the two Tinker men were almost desperate.

“And what makes you think we want a boy that is so much trouble that even Tinkers don’t want them?” a guard shouted from atop the gates.

“Please! We beg of you to take him! Each time he is in out camp he makes two more people become Lost! Please! We can’t handle this child anymore! He is causing total chaos!” they shouted back.

The gatemaster told them to wait there while they go get the Mayor. The Tuatha`an waited patiently, but eagerly. This was the best they have received yet. All the others turned them back as soon as they found out why they are. So the Mayor came up to the gate, a Matrium Wiellis, who asked why they wanted to get rid of him. After the Tinkers told their story, the Mayor looked at each of the men before settling on the boy. The Mayor thought over a second, then frowned, and the Tinkers gave a sigh. They turned around and walked off, apparently thinking that the Mayor will tell them no. But the Mayor said, to their surprise, that it was okay. That they could let the boy in. The Tuatha`an gave another sigh, then all but pushed the boy in the small opening in the gate.

After they left, the Mayor wasn’t able to think of where to place the boy. Not many people would look after a young child in Chachin. Then he thought of putting him in a temporary foster home. But who would do that for a child that Tuatha`an had given away? At last he thought of Master Ferhiel, their master sword-maker. He had always wanted a child, but every time he got married, his wives always got divorced. No one really knew why, but he had a guess. Master Ferhiel always liked to drink too much...

Yet who else would take him up?

So he had no choice, and he gave the boy to Master Ferhiel. He started out liking the boy very much, but he refused to call him by him name - the name that the Tinkers gave him. So he simply called him... Boy. The Boy started out living a good life. He was taught how to forge a sword - even though it was just the basics, and he was never allowed to actually do the work because of his age - yet he was grateful for this. For a time he was even able to get along with the other kids. Yet only for a time.

Soon after, his foster father began to drink, and then come home drunk and beat the Boy senseless. It was soon after did the Boy begin to hit on the other kids. He started to get into fist fights with some of the younger kids - and sometimes even the older kids. Then he began to steal. It wasn’t bad at first, yet as the days, weeks, months, then years went by, it became worse.

Then one night that the Boy was home, and his foster father came home drunk, he decided to do something about. He has been planning for weeks, but never knew he could do it... Until now. He put a long bladed knife up his sleeve and waited for Master Ferhiel to come home, knowing what he was about to do, and was happy - happy! - that he is going to do it. After all... everything that he was taught by a master sword-maker hadn’t gone to waste...

With a loud crash, the front door came open, and Master Ferhiel, with his eyes all glazed over and the stench of strong brandy over his body.

“Come here, Boy!” Master Ferhiel slurred the words, and he almost didn’t understand what he had said - like he could when he was sober. His Illianer accent was stronger than most. The Boy stood up and looked up at his foster father, the same way he had for the past four or so years that he had been beaten. Ferhiel came up to the Boy - stumbled is more like it - and then reached out for him, then pulled him up to where there eyes met.

"You really aren’t afraid of me, or you Boy?” he slurred. The Boy just stared at him. He almost had to suppress a smile. It always made him mad when he didn’t show any emotions. Master Ferhiel’s eyes were all rage, but he held his tongue. Instead, he looked the Boy up and down. Then he asked how old he was.

“Ten,” the Boy replied, then, almost as an afterthought, added, “Master Ferhiel.” With a grunt, he threw the Boy down hard and then stomped over to a thick wooden cupboard and took something out. When he turned back, Master Ferhiel was holding a thick, dark wood paddle.

“You know what, Boy?” he asked. “My da used this here paddle to make me be nicer, and it do build me character. And I would no be a good father myself if I no did the same to you.” Then his eyes became harder, if that was possible. “I do hear that ye do be starting fights with the Cautorn boys. Do you no hear what I tell you? No, of course you do no.” Then he slowly walked up to the Boy, and he was lightly smacking the paddle on his hand. “Do you no so any emotion Boy?” When he just stood there, looking at him with an expressionless face, Ferhiel roared, “Answer me, Boy!!” But he just stood there, saying nothing, thinking nothing.

With that, Master Ferhiel launched himself at the Boy, the paddle raised above his head, yelling at the top of his head. As he reached the Boy - faster than he thought was possible - and then he was hammering the paddle on his head over and over again. Spots were forming in front of his eyes and the Boy was on his knees before he knew it, the blows still hitting his head. He felt no pain, only the dim awareness of the paddle making contact. Then he reached for the knife - By the Light, am I really doing this? - and was about to thrust the knife home when Master Ferhiel heaved up once more with his large, massive arms and then the paddle hit his temple, and everything turned black...

When he came to, the Boy was on his back. He slowly looked around, and was almost on the edge of tears his head hurt so much. He didn’t even need to touch his temple to know that there was a huge welt forming.

How long have I been out?

Then he remember the knife. Disregarding the pain in his head, the Boy got up on his hands and feet. He was in the middle of the living room in the house, and the knife wasn’t in sight. Oh, burn me!

That was when he saw Master Ferhiel. He was standing at the entrance to the living room watching him. His hands were behind his back, and had this evil look in his eyes. The Boy stood up slowly and just stared at him. Then he saw that Master Ferhiel had the knife in his belt. The Boy just looked at him, his face unreadable. Oh, burn me! He knows!

“Well now,” Master Ferhiel said, his voice sounded sober. “This do be the first time that someone has tried to end me, the Light burn me if it’s no.” His eyebrow raised. “Yet I did no think that you of all people would try it.” The Boy still stood there, his face all bruised where he was hit, the welts turning dark black.

“And yet you stand there as if I were talking of the weather, fortune prick me if it were no so.” The Boy stood there.

“Burn you, Boy! Talk to me!” The Boy made no move.

“After all that I have done to help you, Boy, to love you, this is how you repay me?!”

“Love?!” the Boy said. “You call this,” he pointed to his face, then his temple, “love?! I doubt that you even know the meaning of the word...”

Before he could the words out of his mouth, Master Ferhiel rushed towards him, the knife held ready. The Boy just stood there and waited until he came close enough, and when he was , he grabbed the knife right out of Master Ferhiel’s belt, then he did a back flip and landed on the other side of the room. Master Ferhiel didn’t know what to do then, he just stood there, looking at the Boy. “Burn you, Boy! Come back here! Burn you!!” Then ran towards him once more.

The Boy just stood there, his hands raised up, ready to thrust the blade home. When he was in range, the Boy just raised the hand with the knife and let Master Ferhiel fall into it. With a loud thud, they both landed on the ground, the weight of Master Ferhiel on the Boy caused his breath to leave him. After he waited there a moment before he pushed the man off him. Then he got up and looked him over.

Buried to the hilt, the knife was inside his foster father’s belly. The Boy just stood there and looked at him. Foolish man, he thought. He should never have underestimated me, no matter what I looked like. No matter how old. Then he gave a start. Had he said that? Shaking his head, the Boy walked over to the window and opened it up. Then he gave another start.

It was morning! He was out all night. He looked over at the body of his foster father and then shook his head again. Foolish, foolish, foolish. He walked over to the cupboard that was next to the entrance and when he opened it, he gave a relieved sigh. The sack with his clothes and foodstuffs was still there. A loud banging started at their door, and he gave another start.

“Master Ferhiel?” someone said outside the door. “Master Ferhiel, are you all right? I heard something that sounded like screaming... Master Ferhiel?” Then they began banging on the door again.

The Boy looked around and walked over to the body of his foster father. He reached down and pulled the knife out, then ran to the window. He opened it the rest of the way and then stepped out onto the street. He got out at the same moment that someone burst open the door.

Then he heard screams coming from inside the house. He began running down the streets with the bloody knife in hand, just in time to hear someone yell out, “Get the Master at Arms!” The Boy ran down the streets towards the gate, the knife in hand, the shouts getting closer...

At the sounds of the screaming, Mayor Matrium of the city of Chachin came running out, still in his small clothes. Why are there screams? he thought to himself. At first he thought it was another Trolloc raid, yet the screams were coming from inside the city walls. It was impossible. Trollocs inside the city walls. It was almost enough to make him laugh - or cry.

Some people ran past him, one of them slightly bumping into him. He snorted. Here they are, running like fools, then bumping into me like I was a simple beggar! They don’t even bother to give the proper respect to the mayor of their own city!

Shrugging his shoulders, he started walking up with them - trotting is more like it - and then wrapped himself in his dark robe. As he got closer to the source of the yells and screams, his heart began to drop. The Shadow take me! Not Master Ferhiel’s house! Then as they came up to the house, with everyone surrounding the door, and the Captain of the Guard telling people to get back, it was all he could do to keep standing. No! Please, no! Not Master Ferhiel!

The Mayor tried to cut a path through the crowd, but he couldn’t make it more than two steps at a time. Then the Captain of the Guard yelled to everyone, “Everyone, MOVE!” And everyone moved.

The Mayor nodded in satisfaction, then walked up to the door. “What’s going on, Captain of the Guard?” he said formally.

“Perhaps we should talk inside,” he almost whispered. The Mayor nodded and they both walked into the house. When they were both in, the Captain closed the door and walked in the living room. Slowly, the Mayor walked in with him then gave a start when he saw a shape in the middle of the room covered in a white sheet.

“Is that...” he almost got out, then swallowed and started again. “What is that?”

The Captain of the Guard looked very disturbed. “The Boy killed Master Ferhiel, Matrium.”

Without even knowing it, Matrium put a hand to his mouth and was taking one step back. “So... It’s happening...”

The Captain shook his head sadly. “Yes. We shouldn’t be that surprised, though. We were told that this would happen...”

“True. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it... or make it any easier to live with.”

The Captain took his cloak off and sat down on the couch, and let out a long sigh.

Matrium shook his head and then sat down with him. “It seems like just yesterday that we were given the Great Lord’s message in our sleep, that a boy would come, discarded by a band of Tinkers. We were told to look after him until he kills for the first time, then we are to let them go.” He sighed again. “That is when our usefulness will come to an end...”

The Captain looked over at him, then the body, and then let his head sag. “I never once thought that this bloody day will come, Matrium. Never in a million bloody years...”

“True, but now that it is here, we need to do what we are told to. If not, then we will suffer a million years of pain beyond any we could think of, and then another millions years wishing that we could face it again after what they will do with us...”

Shaking his head, the Captain got up and walked over to the door, and Matrium got up as well, joining him. The Captain opened the door facing the crowd, then said, very loudly, “As you wish, My Lord Mayor. We will catch this murderer and deal with him.”

Lord Matrium spoke up as well, louder if not as loud, “True, Captain. Find this Boy, and then deal with him. Promptly.” Then he walked down the stairs and melted into the crowd, yet not until they both looked into each other’s eyes, and a look passed through them, each knowing that this will be the last time the saw either of them alive.

The sun was just starting to set, the twilight hours just beginning when the horse drawn carriage creaked up out in the middle of the field, two or three miles from the city of Chachin. The two lamps bringing only a few feet of light in the quickly deepening darkness. The three armed men fanned out around the carriage, their swords held ready, almost expecting an attack.

Shaking his head, and thinking that you can never be too careful, the Captain of the Chachin Guard walked out behind the carriage and pealed off the colorful draping to revile a large cage with thick bars. He walked back to the front and took one of the lamps and then returned to the back. He held the lamp out in front of him enough to inside the cage at the small boy who was inside.

“Well, Boy,” he said. “You got off lucky, yet you seem to be important to a great many people.” He walked up and put a large, rusted key in the large lock, twisted, then pulled the lock off. He opened the gate to the cage slowly, then steeped back. The Boy stood there a moment, then looked out into the open. He slowly crawled up to the opening, then hesitated. He looked back up at the Captain, then back to open.

“Look, Boy,” he said impatiently. “You can either go, or just stay here and try to saw your way out with that knife of yours, but make up your mind, because we haven’t all night.”

Then, light a cat, the Boy jumped through the opening and ran out into the night. The Captain stood there a moment, looking in the direction of that the Boy ran - he couldn’t see him anymore - and then shook his head.

He got back up on the seat of the carriage, then whistled everyone else on. Once they were, he got the two horses moving again, and then looked up at the night sky. Every start was in sight now, and the Captain found himself almost wanting to cry, knowing that it was the last time he would. Even knowing that, he was shocked when the black creatures jumped out of the night and then converged on the small carriage. The screams could be heard over a mile away.

Several hours after sunrise, in the city of Chachin, the people were gathering towards the house of their Lord Mayor, ready for their weekly debate on city issues at the court. Yet when he never showed, they all went over to the manor, near the center of the city. They banged on the door, yet he never opened. Then one of them tested the door, and found it unlocked. He told the others not to move, and he went in. Several minutes later, that same man came running out, screaming bloody murder, and then emptying his stomach right in the street.

Several other people went in as well, and they all ran out screaming, demanding that the city gates be sealed and the army be called in. They all said the same thing went asked; when they went in, they saw nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing was missing, nothing was out of the ordinary. When they went up the stairs, and then in his room, they saw that the Mayor’s body, or what was left of it. His arms and legs was propped up at the small table in the center, his head up on the bed, and his body all of the room.

Later that same day, several hunters who had left before the gates were closed came running back, screaming to the gate masters to open the gates, saying that there were murders in the country. As soon as they were inside, they all got down off their horses and they all emptied their stomachs, practically at the same time.

When the High Commander of the Guard asked them what they had seen, a stout, slightly aged man named Gramm Fignor said with a breathless voice, “Y-yes, C- commander... We were out in the southern edge of the country when we... uh... noticed some ravens circling in the sky.” He swallowed deeply before continuing. “As we approached, Commander, we saw a carriage. We didn’t know why a carriage was doing way out in the middle of the country... So... we approached it.” He gave another deep swallow, but said nothing.

The Commander looked around, then yelled, “Well? What?!”

Fignor looked like he was about to empty his stomach again, but he swallowed again. “Dead bodies. Everywhere. You could barely tell what it was, and if it wasn’t for the stench, you wouldn’t have guessed what it was... Arms and legs, feet and hands, eyes and stomachs! Everything, everywhere!” Then he did empty it again.

The Commander, looking around to see if anyone noticed his face draining all his blood, said under his breath, “Under the Light!”

“That’s not all, Commander,” Fignor said.

The Commander looked back at him. “Well, out with it.”

Gramm Fignor looked around again, yet it was another man who answered. “A message, my Lord Commander.”

Then he told them of what was carved on the side of the carriage, and this time it was the Commander’s turn to empty his stomach. He then told them that the Mayor was murdered in his home, and that the same message was place on the walls of his room, written in blood.

The message read;

“In the Shadow of the Night
The One Who Follows is set right,
The Day of Return is at hand
And the Shadow will fall upon the Land.

The Chosen will break free
And across the Land, there he will flee,
Among his enemies shall he learn
Among his nightmares shall he burn.

Yet the One Who Follows will be right
For through his enemies he will have might,
Yet the Day of Return is at hand
And the Shadow will fall upon the Land.”

[top]

Chapter 2: Capture

It’s not that hot out, the Boy thought to himself as he wiped the sweat from his forehead. Not that hot out at all...

Any other day, the Boy felt like he would enjoy this kind of day, a day where the sun was out, no clouds in sight, the grass, where it was, green and the birds flying high above him. Yet not now. Perhaps not ever. He had killed... Worse, he had murdered. But he didn’t just murder anyone, he murdered his own father! So what if it wasn’t his true father, and who cares if it was in self-defense. He still murdered...

After he was let out by the Captain of the Guard - at least, he thought that was him - he ran out into the open like he was running from the Shadow itself. Several times he wanted to throw the knife he used to kill his stepfather into the nearest lake, yet each time he was about to, he didn’t. He always thought that there were enough small lakes in the Borderlands, so he told himself that he could throw it away later... Always later.

The Light burn my soul! he screamed in his head.

Then he noticed movement behind him. The Boy stopped dead in his tracks, looking behind him. Did he really see it? - No. It couldn’t be. There’s no one behind him, the road was clear, at least, what was left of the road. He quickly looked around the surrounding area, but found nothing but light, brownish-green grass covered hills to his right as far as the eye could see, and a decent sized grove filled with tall, tightly packed trees some few hundred paces away to his left. Nothing. No movement... Nothing...

He shook his head and continued to walk down the dusty road south. Must be seeing things, he thought to himself. The road was shimmering with the heat, and that could have caused him to see things that were not there. Then again, it could have been the dreams as well.

Despite his resolve not to, the Boy began to think back on the dreams. They began the day he was set free, almost three days ago. He ran hard for two hours straight until he collapsed and fell asleep next to a single tree by the road. The dreams first came then. They weren’t as bad as the other dreams, but it was bad enough.

He was walking up to large city of white, on the middle of an island, with smaller cities all around it. He didn’t know what was going on, but he kept on walking towards it. Yet the closer he seemed to get to it, the further away it was. Then he started running at it, but the city and the smaller cities never came closer.

Discouraged, the Boy stopped, then noticed that a dark storm was coming closer. The first thing he thought when he saw that storm was that it was danger, that he had to get away, yet he couldn’t move. He just stood there, and the storm got closer, and closer. Lightning began to strike all around him, the noise clashing right up to him, but he hardly heard them. A small voice in his head was telling him to flee, to run away, to go anywhere but there. While another voice told him to go up to the cloud, to embrace it, yet never to trust it. To flee the moment the time came.

Then the cloud seemed to come down to him, the clouds taking the shape of a woman, her arms out, as if to embrace him. He walked up to, unable to help himself, and held out his arms.

Remember! the second voice said to him. Flee the moment the time comes...

Then he felt the life drain away from him, but before he died, he heard the voice once more, saying, Too late...

That was when he awoke, drenched in sweat. The Boy shivered at the memory, and at the knowledge that the others were even worse. He quickly looked behind him once more, but he found nothing, only the level ground, the dusty road, and the waves of heat coming off of it. He looked back and continued on the road, thinking of the other two dreams, and feeling cold, despite the heat.

The second dream was much like the first, he walked through a field, with a bunch of smaller cities surrounding a larger one, made off all white. Towers were everywhere, and there was no people at all, no animals, no nothing. Yet he kept on walking, and he noticed that the cities were not getting smaller, but getting closer. He began to smile, thinking that he was actually going to make it. Then, when he was about a hundred feet away from the massive, and slightly ajar gates, he heard thunder.

He quickly turned around and saw the storm again. This time the storm was coming on faster. This time he heard the same two voices, the first still telling him to run, but the second one said something different. It said, Go, embrace, learn what you must to survive, then flee!

This time he noticed that the lightning bolts were random, and they struck just about everywhere. He had to jump away more than once to escape being fried. Then the storm was closer, and started slowly going down. The Boy, not knowing why, but walked up to it, and let the cloud’s arms touch it. But instead of dying, he began to learn. He didn’t know what it was that he was learning, but he didn’t back away.

He then looked around, and gave a start. He knows now what he was learning. He could now tell that there was a pattern to the lightning, and he could anticipate it. Then the second voice came back. Once you’ve learned enough to survive, flee! - So he fled.

He started running towards the massive gates, which still hung slightly ajar, walking past the lightning bolts without ever being touched, knowing just where they would strike. Then he made it to the gate, and was about to go in when he heard a woman scream. He turned around and saw a woman in red running after him, screaming a name that he didn’t recognize, with two other women behind him, one also wearing red, the other in blue, both with scared looks in their eyes. The first in red was screaming, “Garatt! Garatt Jax!! Come back!!!”

Then she raised her arms and a hundred, no, a thousand bolts of lightning and hail and rain came running towards him, seemingly at random, as if they were searching for him. Not waiting another minute, he dashed into the gate, and then it slammed shut behind him. After that, he heard someone laughing, a maddened, hateful laugh, then everything turned dark.

That was when he woke up the second time, also bathed in sweat.

He quickly turned again, but again found nothing. Why do I bother even looking? he thought to himself. There’s nothing out there. The second dream wasn’t much better, it wasn’t as weird as the first, but it was strange. After he ate his dinner of roots and berries, he fell asleep and then found himself in the city. Not the smaller cities, but the one they surround. It was beautiful, like someone caught a wave of water and made it into a wall. He never saw anything like it before in his life.

He began to walk through the city, and then noticed a large tower in the middle of the city, with buildings around it that make the ones he was in seem like roughly made cabins. He wanted to walk up to them, to look up at them in awe, but something told him never to go near that tower, to never go in this city again.

Then he noticed that someone was following him. He looked behind and saw the woman in red, looking all around her, apparently not able to see him yet. He picked up his pace and started running down the street. He looked back and saw the woman still behind her, still looking around as if looking for him. He quickened his pace and saw a bridge up ahead, so he started to cross it. After he took three feet on the bridge, he heard the woman scream and then she had her arms wrapped around his legs. He screamed as well, trying to beat her over the head, but she seemed ten feet above him, and she lifted him up and threw him over the side of the bridge. He began to scream as he fell, then darkness overcame him. Yet before he awoke, he heard a voice say, Never be caught! It means death!!

Weird, he thought to himself. He had no clue what these dreams mean, but he was sure that they were no ordinary dream, that they had some meaning. He just didn’t know what. Almost casually, and almost as an afterthought, the Boy looked over his shoulder and saw someone walked down the road at least half a mile away.

The Boy stopped where he was and looked behind him. He didn’t know what to do, so he just stood there. Where had he come from? He should have seen him before now, and he knew that it was only a few moments sense he looked behind him before. There is no way that guy could have gotten this close to him without being seen. He stood there for a while and watched as the person walked up to him. He was still at least a quarter of a mile away until he saw the Boy, and the Boy him, and he gave a start. Why, the Boy said, surprised, it’s an old man!

The old man also stood there a moment, then continued walking towards him. He was extremely old, the Boy thought. Too old. His skin, as far as he could tell, was all wrinkled and seemed to hang on his face. His clothes seemed the same way as well, but it was difficult to tell from this distance. It took a while for the old man to get to him, mainly because he couldn’t walk that fast because he was practically hanging on to a walking cane to keep from falling off.

Then he was just a few feet away from the Boy, and he stopped. They both stared at each other for a while, then the old man spoke. “Hello, there, youngin’.”

The Boy just stood there, looking at him, his face like stone.

The old man cocked his head to the side, a slight, toothy smile forming on his face. “What’s the matter, youngin’? Cat caught your tongue?”

“Why are you following me?” the Boy demanded.

The old man took a step back in surprise, but then caught himself and his face became amused again. “My, my, but you are direct, aren’t you... Boy.” With that last line he leaned forward as if to see into his eyes.

The Boy took a step back in spite of himself. There was something very wrong with this man. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but he knew that this man was dangerous. Something deadly... Then he seemed to get his wits back together, and he drew forth his knife, holding it out towards the old man. The old man just seemed to look at the blade, then up to the Boy’s eyes, then back. He gave a slight smile and then a laugh, then looked up into the Boys eyes again.

The Boy took a step forward, his knife only inches away from the old man’s face. The old man never took his eyes away from the Boy’s eyes. He thin smiled the most wicked smile the Boy had ever seen.

“My, it looks like you know how to use that blade, Boy. Don’t you?” Then he seemed to look at him more seriously, if that could be possible. “You really, truly do, don’t you? Interesting.... Very interesting.”

The Boy just stood there, the knife held ready.

The old man looked the Boy over, then, with that same smile, said, “My, but you’ve come a long way, haven’t you, Boy? All the way from Chachin, isn’t it?”

The Boy took another steep forward, the knife now a fraction of an inch from the old man’s nose.

“Who are you?” he demanded.

The old man’s smile was deeper this time, and he put a finger to his mouth, and he seemed to be thinking of something, then he looked into the Boy’s eyes again and said, “I have many names, but the one that I favor the most is also the one I’m the most known by.” He smiled again. “I am called, at least by some, Asmodean.”

The Boy just stood there, no emotion showing in his face.

Asmodean blinked, then shook his head. “Didn’t you hear me, son? I said I am Asmodean.”

Again, the Boy just stood there, not saying anything.

Then Asmodean blinked again. “What is it, Boy? Are so dumb that you have never the name before?”

“Yes, I’ve heard of it,” he said.

Asmodean blinked again, opened his mouth, then closed it, then opened it again, then closed in again. He looked confused. “Then... why aren’t you... uh... afraid?”

The Boy had to suppress a smile, but he knew that if he kept a straight face, then he would get the old man - Asmodean, he guessed - angry, then he might learn what it is that he really wanted. It was something that Master Ferhiel taught him... He also had to suppress a sob from coming up his throat.

“Why?!” he demanded. He was getting angry. “Why should I?”

“Why...?! Why... s-should... I?!” He turned around, cursing and spitting all over the road in a language that the Boy had never heard of before.

The Boy couldn’t help it, so he had to put a hand to his mouth to keep the snickers from coming up. “Because I don’t believe you.”

This time Asmodean’s face turned red. “Y-you d-don’t... believe... in... m-me?” He could barely keep his anger down; his eyes were almost out of his head from the effort. It also took all his effort not to kill this Boy right here and now, no matter what the Great Lord said.

“No, I don’t believe you. Asmodean was real, you’re just not him,” the Boy said calmly.

That made Asmodean stop, and then smiled at the Boy. It was a cold smile, a smile that made the Boy’s blood turn to ice in his veins. It was an effort to keep the emotions from his face.

“You don’t, do you? You really don’t? Hmmmm. Very interesting. Very, very interesting... Well now. That changes everything, doesn’t it?” He seems to be talking to himself now, blabbing to himself in that strange language of his. Then he seemed to regain himself, and smiled again. “Very well. This does change everything, but no matter. This was unexpected, but I think that I can go around this. We thought that you would believe me... But no matter. It looks like we will have to do something that will make you believe in me. We will have to... stimulate you... into believing me.” He smiled again, then turned around and walked back up the road to the north until he just disappeared.

The Boy just stood there a moment, completely shocked. What, under the Light just happened? he thought to himself. Why was one of the “Forsaken” following him? And who is this “we”? And what does he mean when he said that he will stimulate me into believing him?

The Boy shook his head and walked down the street again, thinking that his life was getting too complicated for his liking. All he wanted to do, after all, was be a little boy and watch the birds. That’s all. Nothing more...

Later that night, in a small alcove in a few trees, with a small grove of trees a few feet behind him, he made a small fire and was eating another helping of roots - these actually taste good - and some more berries. He washed it all down with a helping of water from a makeshift water skin. Despite that meeting with that old man who said he was one of the Forsaken, he had a pretty good day. He had made good time, even though he had no idea where to go. He guessed he would walk to Andor and work his way there. He hid a yawn behind his hand as he laid back and closed his eyes. In moments he was asleep.

Strong hands covering his mouth woke him with a start. He looked around, but another set of large hands was over his eyes in an instant. He tried to scream, but nothing came out. Then he was forced to his feet and was hauled head over heals into a large bag.

Right before he was put in, the hands from his eyes came off and he noticed who was handling him. He had been in the Borderlands long enough to know what they were; everyone did. They were Trollocs. And wherever there was a Trolloc, there was a Myrddraal as well. And sure enough, he saw one in the shadows, all black and pasty white, eyeless skin. Yet he saw something else that froze his blood. There, standing next to the Myrddraal, was the old man, nodding in satisfaction, and smiling like a fox. Then he felt something huge smash into his head and he saw all black.

[top]

Chapter 3: Dark Dreams

The Boy had no idea how long he was out, or that he was out at all. He couldn’t seem to think straight; everything was hazy. He didn’t dream, he didn’t think... Except that to him, one minute he was in total darkness, the next he was awake.

He had no idea where he was, just that he was awake, and therefor alive. He noticed that he was in a small clearing in grove full of trees, and that he was tied to one of those trees. It was night - how long was I out? - and the stars were out, yet he couldn’t seem to focus on them, or anything else for that matter. He noticed that a large fire was burning a dozen or so feet away with several large bodies around it. Where was I? he thought. What happened?

Then he noticed the old man and the Myrddraal talking to each other on the other side of the tree he was tied to. They were talking in a hushed tone, and he barely was able to hear them, especially with that pain lancing through his head. The old man’s, as well as the Myrddraal’s voice, which both sounded like a snake dragging its old body through dead leaves, didn’t help much either.

“What are you saying, Great Master?” the Myrddraal hissed, as meekly as they could sound. “Are you saying that this boy... that he is the Dragon Reborn??”

“Of course not!” the old man who said he was Asmodean said angrily. “Are you so dumb! He is not the soul of Lews Therin reborn, but the Great Lord has plans for him yet. He will hunt him down for us. We will no longer need the Followers.”

“But Great Master,” the Myrddraal hissed again, sounding confused. “From what I know, from what the other Chosen and the Great Lord has chosen to tell me, is that the Followers were--”

Then the Boy noticed that the old man was staring at him. “The Boy’s awake,” he simply said.

Then, like lightning, the Myrddraal lashed out at him with a club produced from those dark black robes of his and the Boy saw nothing but darkness once more.

Once more he stood in a field with a bunch of smaller cities surrounding a larger city. There were trees all around him and birds were flying in the air; their songs a sweet melody in his ears. And not more than a few feet away was the gate that lead to the beautiful city. He was so happy he didn’t know what to do. Was I dead? he thought in wonder. Was this the afterlife?

He quickly looked around and saw that there was no storm clouds coming towards him, and he gave a long sigh. Freedom! Yet even as he said it, he fled something inside him telling him to be wary. He looked around once more, but nothing was there. Nothing.

He shrugged his shoulders and then walked away from the gates and sat down on the grassy hill, looking up at the birds flying above. He was so happy that he lost himself in the moment, and it seemed that he flew with the birds, so free, so wondrously free.

Yet, despite all of this, he still felt... something. He couldn’t quite tell what it was... it was like someone watching him with nothing around him but the sky and endless hills. Nothing. He couldn’t quite explain it, even to himself. Then he noticed that he was being followed. He came back from his thoughts of flight with birds like a tight string being cut. He got up slowly and looked around, not seeing anyone, but knowing that they were there. Somewhere. Looking for him.

Then he heard that same voice say, This is a warning.

He started walking towards the gates - Now why had I done that? That just doesn’t make much sense! - when he felt a slight breeze behind him. He turned and his stomach sank. The storm was back, and it was coming towards him faster than it ever had before. And there was something else, too. That woman in red was running in it’s wake, looking right at him, screaming at the top of her lungs with murder in her eyes.

He turned around as fast as he could and began to run to the gate. To his horror, the gate never seemed to come any closer, despite how fast he ran. Then, ever so slowly, it began to rain. At first the Boy thought that it was just apart of his imagination, but then it began to come down rather hard and fast. Even so, he paid it no mind.

He chanced a quick glance over his shoulder as he ran, and almost fell over. The woman in red was about fifty feet away, and closing fast, all the while screaming and yelling for someone named Garatt Jax to come back here, that it was pointless to resist. Then the Boy slipped in a puddle of water and he fell face first in the mud.

He got on his hands and knees in short order, but stayed there. He looked down at a small puddle of water that seemed to stay completely still despite the downpour. He slowly let his face fall into line right above it and peered down. Then he was given the start of his life. That is not my reflection in that puddle!

He looked down once more, and, sure enough, he saw the same thing. It wasn’t him. The person that was looking back at him was older than the Boy. Much older. About in his mid thirties, unless he missed his guess. And he was ragged looking to him; his hair was long - about to his shoulders - and his eyes had a haunted look to them; like a man who looked as if he had seen too much of life. There was also something else to the other man... He had burn scars all down his neck. The Boy couldn’t tell, but he was sure that those scars went all the way down. He had no idea how far, but it was more than his neck.

This is a warning, the voice told him.

Then he looked back and saw that the woman was right behind him, still screaming at him - no, at this Garatt person - and with that, the Boy heaved himself up and broke towards the gates at a dead run. To his surprise and delight, the gate was only two or three feet away. No sooner than he had gotten up was he inside the gates, which again slammed shut behind him.

Sighing, he slumped up against the closed gate. Free. Well, not really, he felt like he was being followed again. He had no idea how, but it was still there. He wiped his face off, letting the rain drip from his hands when he noticed that that wasn’t his hand. He looked at them, and noticed again, that they were not his.

He quickly looked down at himself and noticed that he was a lot taller than he used to be. And then he noticed that he was wearing the same thing that that guy in the puddle wore. Could it be... No. Of course not. He also noticed a sword at his hips with strange birds on the hilt - Light but how I like birds - and he also wore a torn and dirty color-shifting cloak that looked as if it hadn’t been properly washed in years. Could it be that that guy was... an older... me??

He shook his head again, saying that it was impossible. He walked down that same street that he had before, with the white buildings that looked too much like waves in the background, and, like last time, no one showed themselves. He walked down and noticed a tower down the street that was different than the others; it looked like it was scorched with fire, and parts of the tower itself seemed to come off.

A warning, the voice said.

Strangely enough, he was compelled to go in. He slowly walked up and when he was close enough, the door seemed to open itself up to him. The dark opening seemed to be calling him to walk on in. After he did, the other door slammed shut as well, shutting him off from the light.

“Come!” a voice seemed to shout.

The Boy jumped up and almost yelled in surprise. Where under the Light did that voice come from?

“Come!” the voice said again.

The Boy noticed that he could see the stairs slightly in the darkness. He slowly began to walk up the stairs. As he walked up, the voice never seemed to want to say anything else. He knew that it wasn’t from anyone in the area with him, or he would have sensed someone. Then he walked up and stopped short. There, right in front of him, was a great iron bound door with two slits in the stone walls for windows.

He walked up to the windows and looked out. From there he could see that he was no longer in the city, but in a land that was all smoke and red fire. He could hear women and children screaming, and the noise of snorting, much like a pig. But he knew that what made it wasn’t a pig, but Trollocs.

“Come! Fulfill your destiny!” the voice boomed.

The Boy then noticed that the door had a large key hole in it.

“Come! Fulfill your destiny!”

Then there was a large, rusty iron key in his hands.

“Come and open the door to your destiny!”

Why not? he thought himself. He walked up and put the key into the door and turned. The door slowly opened, the door protesting all the way. He walked in and slowly closed the door. He turned around and looked at the room.

Then a man all in black grabbed him by the front of his shirt and hauled him up a foot off the ground. The man’s face was nothing but fire, and his eyes were as dead. The man smiled, a mean smile that never left his mouth.

“Thanks for the help,” the man said. “We never could have done it without you.” Then Shai’tan laughed, the fire coming out of his mouth and consumed him, and before he was consumed once more by total darkness, he heard the voice once more.

A warning...

[top]

Chapter 4: The Rescue

The Boy awoke with a scream of pain, the Trolloc knife going deep within his stomach, yet far away from any vital organs. The Trolloc seemed to laugh at the sound of the Boy’s scream of pain, and then pulled the knife out as slowly as it could, then pushed it inside on another side of his stomach.

When will this end? was the only thought going through the Boy’s mind.

For two nights he has been prodded at by the Trollocs and their knives, and he had come close to dying at least four times, mainly from the lack of blood, but each time he was brought back from the depths of death itself by the man who said he was Asmodean. He never saw him do it, but he was sure that he did; if he is who he says he is, then he’s the only one who can do it.

The blood that caked his body has dried up and began to itch - that is, when it wasn’t roaring with pain. The Trolloc slit it’s bloody knife in its belt and walked up to the nearby camp fire to sit down with its fellow Trollocs.

Sighing, the Boy began put his head back down, trying his hardest not to cry again from the pain and keeping the nauseous feeling of the lack of blood from him. Then he heard a rustling of grass and looked up to find a Myrddraal walking up to him.

“Ahh,” it said in its scratchy voice. “Does it hurt, Human? Well, too bad. Get used to it. One of the Chosen said that you were to feel as much pain as you can and still stay alive. And so you shall. ” He turned around and melted away into the shadows.

The Boy let his head fall down and cried. The tears felt like his soul was draining from him

To die... Oh! To die...

The Boy was awakened again at midnight by three Trollocs pulling at the ropes on his hands. He tensed again, ready for the knives to slide into his stomach. They never came. Instead, he felt the knots loosen and the Trollocs were lowering him to the ground.

He looked around and saw that the Trollocs were still around, all gathering around the large camp fire. To his surprise, he was tied up again and his hands and feet were put on a large branch, then hoisted up in the air.

What... what’s going on...? he thought. He couldn’t think straight, but he knew that he wasn’t going to like this.

Then he screamed out in pain and shock as he was placed out over the fire. Oh, Light! Not this! Oh, Light, not this!! Yet it was already too late. He could feel his skin burning, could smell all his hair singe, his skin curl, his blood fry. “Aaaaaggghhhhh!” he screamed in pain. He looked down at his body, seeing all his skin turn pink, then black, and let out another small cry.

All the Trollocs seemed to moan slightly with pleasure, knowing what was about to come.

Meat! they were thinking. We are going to have meat tonight!

The Boy had no idea what was happening. He was bombarded by a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, thoughts and feelings, everything that he ever thought or felt or saw or did danced before his eyes. He couldn’t make any sense of it. He had no idea if he was awake, asleep, dead or alive.

One moment he was standing in a deep meadow, filled with trees and a big lake, laughing and joking, and in the next he was fighting them off with a sword. He had no idea what was going on. Was this a dream? he thought to himself.

In the next he was standing in a deep and dark dungeon. He had a large sword with a strange bird on the blade and hilt in one hand, and a thick iron key in the other. A Myrddraal was standing next to him, its pasty white skin and eyeless gave staring at him in astonishment, a deep cut going across his face. It just stood there a moment, shocked, then raised its deep black sword and rushed towards him. The two swords met with a clash of lightning and sparks...

...Then he was standing with the Myrddraal again, this time he was smiling and they were shaking hands. The Myrddraal was also smiling, and he had the key in his hands.

With a flash of lightning it was over. He noticed that the heat was gone... the pain was still there, but the heat seemed to have stopped. What happened? He could still smell the burned hair and skin, he could still feel the burns radiate pain all throughout his body.

He couldn’t hear the Trollocs anymore.

The Boy moved his head slightly so he could see around and his heart almost jumped out of his chest. There were dead Trollocs all over the place. He quickly looked around -- or at least as quickly as he could - and then saw a man in a color-shifting cloak fighting the Myrddraal. Their faces were both locked in concentration as black blade met white.

Finally, the Myrddraal launched itself at him, paying no mind to the other man’s thrusts, and buried the dark blade into the man’s gut. With a loud scream, the man swung his sword madly until the Myrddraal’s head was off and it began to swing its hands around, trying to do anything but die. Then, longer than he thought was natural, it was still.

The man put a hand on the Myrddraal’s sword hilt and slowly began to pull it out of his stomach. After he had finished, then man walked up to the Boy and used a knife he found among the dead Trollocs - from what the Boy could tell it was his own - and cut the bonds that held him.

As the Boy was slowly let down, and before he fell into unconsciousness he heard the man say, “Be at ease... You are with the Followers...”

Then Blackness.

[top]

Chapter 5: Painful Discoveries

Loud, hoarse coughing brought the Boy slowly awake. He sight was cloudy, and he could hardly breath, but he knew he was alive. How, was another matter altogether.

“Under the Light, Boy!” a voice sounded beyond his foggy eyes. “I thought you were long dead!”

Then he felt cold water over his face and his eyes were no longer clouded. As soon as he blinked the rest of the water out he saw who was talking. The man who had saved him from the Trollocs and killed the Myrddraal was on the ground next to him, a saddle bag at his feet, as well and the man’s color-shifting cloak and sword with the strange bird on it.

“Light, but I didn’t think you were going to make it,” the man said, relief in his eyes.

The Boy tried to move, but the man stopped him, saying that he was damaged too much. Then the Boy tried to talk, and again, the man stopped him. The Boy let himself be laid back, then looked down at himself. He was clothed again somehow - he remembers that his cloths was burned off by the Trolloc fire - and that he was bandaged from his neck down, yet the bandages were now soaked in blood.

“Looks bad, doesn’t it, Boy?” the man asked, a pained look in his eyes. “You should have seen yourself after I cut you loose. It was a miracle that you survived at all, much less long enough for me to save you.” The man coughed again, this time with blood on his lips.

Then the Boy remembered the Myrddraal blade that was put in him, and he said, “...You...” right before he doubled over in pain. The man got up next to him and helped him up, placing a strange smelling hurb up to his throat.

“Light burn you, Boy!” the man said, turning slightly red when he realized what he just said. “Boy, you shouldn’t worry about me. You are the one that needs to live, not me. I’m not even sure I deserve to live.” The man look down at the Boy, a faraway look in his eyes. “And besides, it is too late for me anyway. I’m as good as dead. That was a Myrddraal blade that got me, Boy. Do you know what that means?”

The Boy slowly nodded, then doubled over in pain once more, the coppery taste of blood coming to his lips. The man pushed him back and made him swallow some bitter-tasting liquid, shaking his head. “You need to be Healed,” he said softly. “But I can’t very well send you off to the likes of them, now can I?” He sighed, a deep, painful sounding rumble in his chest. “But I can’t very well let you die... You could, after all, be the One.” He began shaking his head. “Yes, you just might be...” Then he noticed that he was talking out loud, and cleared his throat - even that sounded painful.

The man seemed to be studying something in the distance for a while, then shook his head as if coming to a decision. He began to go through his bags for something. “Look here, Boy,” he said. “You need to be Healed, you know that. You need it, or you will surely die by tomorrow if not sooner. I can’t help it if I am sending you to -” He looked down at him, seeming to be working something out. “Do you know what an Aes Sedai is, Boy?” When he shook his head, the man seemed to be satisfied. “Good. Its better if you don’t. At least not these kinds.”

The man got a small sack out of his bags and then unwrapped them, revealing a dirty, wicked-looking root. He held it up to the light so he could see it, then brought it down to the Boy. “Eat this when I tell you to, but not until.” The Boy took it and looked it over. “That will stop any pain that you might have, yet it all but stops the brain.”

Slowly, he helped the Boy up, wincing at each inch they go, until they were both standing. The man smiled, but he looked paler, and his skin seemed to be wrapped tighter around his skull. When he smiled, it looked to the Boy like it was a skull smiling at him.

The man reached down and wrapped the torn and dirty color-shifting cloak around his shoulders. He held up his sword with those strange birds on it up to his chest and then said, “Eat the root.”

The Boy put the root in his mouth a chewed. Almost instantly the overwhelming pain that was about to cause him to faint was gone. The man put his sword on the Boys back and then shoved him off to the west.

“Now remember, Boy,” the man said behind him, who was making no move to join him, “That root stops the pain, but also your mind as well. Keep moving. Don’t ever stop, and keep moving to the south where you will come across a small stand of trees. Inside the trees you will meet two Aes Sedai and a couple of Warders. Once they see the sword and cloak, they will know what to do.”

The Boy listened, but he didn’t hear anything. All he knew was that he needed to walk out of this small forest and walk into another, where he was to be healed - or something like that. Where was he to walk? The south? No... it was the west... right? He needed to keep walking, that was the trick. He had no idea why, but if he stopped, then he knew he would be dead.

Then the man said, “This will be a test.”

The Boy hardly heard.

The man sat back down on the ground, the wound in his gut almost causing him to black out, but he refused to give up. That Boy might have been the One. He shook his head. Who would have thought that this Boy might be the One Who Follows as told of in the Prophecies of the Followers!

The man shook his head. The chance of that happening were so far off that it almost made him laugh. It was probably all staged. The Aes Sedai he was bonded to is Black Ajah, after all. No telling what they knew.

The thought of who had send him here made him spit with distaste. The day he decided to bond with that woman, he had no idea that she was Black Ajah. Had he known, he wouldn’t have sworn to obey her at all cost... On second thought, he wouldn’t have even bonded with her. The man shook his head again. That was well over twenty years ago. She had made him do some things that would make even Darkfriends sick... And all because of that bond...

And he was sending the One Who Follows, the One that he and the rest of the Followers have been searching for ever since the Breaking. Searching for the One who will help them find and Follow the Dragon Reborn.

It was a long and very dangerous lifestyle. Fewer than a hundred are in the Followers at any one time, and the only ones who can be a Follower is one that was born to a Follower, if even then. He shook his head again, thinking of what brought him to this day and age.

He was one of twenty who was sent out in the world twenty-five years ago. It was something that was never done before in the history of the Followers. Twenty people were sent out to get jobs in all corners of the world so they can search for the One Who Follows... And he, a man who had chosen the profession of Warder to the new Aes Sedai, a man who was dumb enough to be bonded to a woman who was of the Black Ajah... The BLACK!

He spat again. And he was sending the One Who Follows straight to the same woman who had bonded him, the same woman who sent him out here to die - he was sure of it! - and the same woman who was serving the Dark One... He was almost positive that the Aes Sedai who he was bonded to had received a message from the Dark One to send him to save the One Who Follows. He was sure of it.

But, why? What good would the One Who Follows be to them?

The man snorted again. It was all too simple. “It was all to get their hands on him,” he said to himself. “Why? Because they need someone to help them track the Dragon Reborn... and then kill him!” He snorted once more. “Under the Light,” he said to himself. “How could you be so blind?”

“Too true,” a voice sounded from the shadows.

The man swung around and brought up a set of knives he had buried up his sleeves. “Who’s there!” he demanded. “Show yourself!”

Then an old man walked out of the shadows, his frail body leaning on a grim looking walking stick. The old man smiled to himself as he saw the other man’s reaction. “Now, now. You shouldn’t lower your guard like that. I might look old, but I’m far more deadly than you could ever imagine!”

The man brought the knives back up in a flash, studying the older man like a hawk. “Who are you?”

“That doesn’t matter. What does, mind you, is that I know you. You are one of the Followers.”

The man’s eyebrows shot up and he brought his knives back, ready to throw. “Who are you?!”

The old man smiled. “My name is, at least by some, Asmodean.”

The man’s stomach turned over and over again at the sound of that name. He swallowed deeply, and it was all he could do not to fall down from the pain in his gut. The damage that was done by the Myrddraal’s blade was catching up to him.

Asmodean smiled, the lines across his aged face deepening. “I see that you know of it...” Then he laughed. “Yes, I would say you do!”

“What do you want?” the man said uneasily.

Asmodean looked amused. “Can’t a man just have a normal conversation any more?” Then he laughed again. “All right. I can see that you can’t be saved now, Follower, so-”

The man’s hand with the knives came up and his eyes narrowed, the sweat rolling down his pale, drawn face was dripping off. “What did you say?” he demanded.

Asmodean’s smile deepened. “You are a Follower of the Dragon, aren’t you? Well then, what’s the problem?”

“How do you know of the Followers?” he demanded again.

This time Asmodean’s head fell back and he roared with laughter. “Oh, my lord! That’s rich! Ha! You should really see your face!”

Then the man, without caring what happens, let his knife fly. Asmodean stopped laughing and the knife seemed to stop in midair, the tip stopping just an inch from his chest.

“Now that wasn’t very nice, now was it?” Asmodean asked, still smiling. “That wasn’t that bad, though. Very well done.”

“You Forsaken scum!” the man breathed.

Asmodean stopped laughing and looked dangerously at the man. “Mind your tongue, Follower. You are now expendable. You can no longer serve us any longer.”

“‘Serve’? We don’t serve you, Forsaken! I am a Follower of the Dragon, and no matter what happens to me, there will always be a Follower to look after the One Who Follows, no matter where you place him. Hey! What are you doing! Stop laughing! Stop it!”

Asmodean was now hanging on his stick, trying hard not to fall over. “I-I’m sorry...” he said in between laughs. “I really am. You are so messed up! Ha! Do you know how I know of you Followers? Uh? The same man who founded you.”

The man’s face darkened. “What are you talking about, Forsaken?”

“Ha! It’s so funny, I can barely say it! The Followers of the Dragon was founded by Ishamael.”

“LIAR!” the man screamed. Had he been able to move, he would have killed the man, no matter if he was one of the Forsaken or no.

Asmodean took a step towards him. “You would like to think that! You fool! Ishamael did form the Followers so they can track the Dragon Reborn for us! The agents of the Shadows! Why? So we can kill him. You are supposed to track the Dragon when he was born; that was the whole purpose of you being here was that! He had to have been born by now. Do you know what that means?” He moved forward again, this time a dangerous look in his eyes. “You aren’t doing your job.”

But the man didn’t hear that part. One of the Forsaken made the Followers so they can keep tabs on the Dragon Reborn. Oh, Light!

“My, you seem distraught.” Asmodean said.

Indeed he did. The man put his head back, wanting to lay over and die. All my life, all the lives of every other Follower was used to serve the Shadow! Then he coughed violently, blood slightly flowing from his mouth.

Asmodean just watched as the man’s body wracked with coughs, blood coming out of his mouth faster and faster. Then his body began to wrack again, only this time from laughter.

“Oh, Light! All my life I’ve been a Darkfriend and I never knew it!”

“And you find this funny?” Asmodean said incredulously.

Then the man started convulsing, his head bouncing all over the ground, blood oozing out of his mouth and nose. Then, with one more jolt, the man was still. Dead.

Asmodean looked back into the shadows and motioned. A man walked in and kneeled in front of him, his hand to his chest. “You shall report that I will follow and observe this child to the other Dreadlords who are called by the Great Lord.” The man’s face darkened with that name. Most of the Dreadlords hated to be called that, but Asmodean didn’t care.

“As the Chosen commands!” the Dreadlord said, then he turned around and made a Gateway to the upper Borderlands.

After he was gone, Asmodean walked off into the trees, wondering how the Great Lord will take the news that the Boy cannot channel. He never said as much, but he knew it was true. He knew that the Dreadlord also knew.

What is worse is that it was he who was told by Ishamael to find this One Who Follows... How he knew that it was real, he had no idea. After all, as far as he could tell, Ishamael had made the whole thing up so when they were all sealed someone will keep the search for the Rebirth of Lews Therin alive... Then again, he had heard that the Untold Prophecies had something to do with this... Maybe Ishamael just took a part of that Prophecy and said it was a whole new one...

It didn’t matter. He would follow this child and, when the time is right, he will bring him to the Shadow. He had to, for if he failed, then it was his life... The Prophecies had to be true!

They just had to!

From the Untold Prophecies,
A fragment of the Foretelling of the Aes Sedai
Gilliam Deruim Cannon of the Gerdrail Denar ajah
The Second Age.

“And yet, through the fire and knives of his enemies, through the knowledge
taught by his enemies, One will be Born to Seek out the next Dragon, and with
it he shall look unto the World with great Power, and with an unforeseen past,
shall he search and save the Dragon that is Reborn...”

[top]

Chapter 6: Whispers In The Dark

With a flash, the dark clouds were lighted up. The distant, long rumbles came shortly thereafter. It was a cold day, much colder than normal. Yet things are no longer normal. Not by far.

The man in black shook his head. Everything’s becoming more and more abnormal ever since the seals started to weaken.

Another flash of lightning and peal of thunder sounded, sending a chill running through the man’s spine. There was the sound of pigs squealing and goats baying, yet the man ignored it. Bloody Trollocs! he thought to himself. Nothing but mindless killers...

The sound of thunder and the flashing above them came closer, the ground beginning to shake.

Burn my soul! Why am I so bloody afraid?!

The man had to laugh at that. Sure... say that now... He could still remember the time all those years ago when this meeting was arranged.

***

He stood up in the field of rocks and the storm was raging above him. The lightning was flashing and the thunder bombing.

Burn my soul, he thought to himself. This is the worst dream I have ever seen in my life!

Then a man walked out of the darkness to stand in front of him.

The man blinked and stared at the other man standing in front of him. “And who are you?”

The other man just stood there looking at him, his face covered by a red cloth and a cloak that looked as if it was stained in blood.

“I said who are you? Answer me!”

The other’s eyes seemed to have turned to fire.

“You fool! Would you dare to oppose me? Shai’tan?!”

The man was on his knees faster than he thought was possible, muttering “Master,” under his breath.

“What news have you to report of me?” Shai’tan said.

Burn my soul! I heard that the Great Lord of the Dark meets with His generals in Tel’aran’rhiod, but I never thought it was true!

“We’ve found someone who could track the Dragon Reborn for us, Great Lord.”

“I see. Who is he?”

“He has no name at this time, but we were able to capture his father who can channel. He is very powerful, yet he has no clue what he can do. His father could channel as well, yet he was cut off from the True Source.”

Shai’tan eyes blazed even hotter. “Can this child that you seek of channel?”

“I don’t see why not, Great Lord...”

“And you are sure that he will find the Dragon?”

“The Followers of the Dragon had a page of the Untold Prophecies, in which it states that ‘One will be Born to Seek out the next Dragon, and with it he shall look unto the World with great Power, and with an unforeseen past, shall he search and save the Dragon that is Reborn.’ That was about all that was mentioned about the one they call the ‘One Who Will Follow.’”

“Very well... Bring this boy to my slopes and I will see if he is what the Untold Prophecies are true prophecies.”

The man stood there, seeming to want to be anywhere but there. “Uh... he isn’t in my possession, Great Lord.”

“Then where is he?”

“In the hands of the Tuatha’an, Great Lord. But, we know where he is at all times!”

Shai’tan’s eyes seemed to glow less. “Very well. I will send one of the Chosen as soon as they are free. The day that you have him, or any of my other followers, you will bring them to me. I will need someone that can channel to help me look for the Dragon.”

“As you command, Great Lord!”

Then the world seemed to wink out, and he woke up.

***

Then man shook slightly at that memory. He had no idea what he was going to say to the Great Lord when he comes. He shivered again. He looked over at the two other generals who were also called to this place high in the north of the Borderlands. They were called Dreadlords by the Lightsworn. Many of them hated that title, but he never much minded. He shook his head. The Great Lord will not talk to any of them... Only himself...

Maybe he wont come after all....

Then, as if to answer, a bolt of lightning struck no more than ten feet away, then another, and then another. Soon, the whole valley was being struck, the air was being sucked away. The man could hardly stand it. The Trollocs were going crazy, jumping and screaming. More than half were incinerated by the bolts that were blasting away around them.

Then, just as fast as it started, it ended. The valley was shrouded by a strange dark shadow, and there was no sound.

Burn me...... He’s here......

Without thinking, he was down on his knees, his head lowered, almost touching the ground.

As one, what was left of the Trolloc fist were all on their bellies, groveling like worms. The other men in the group was also on their bellies, as well as a few Myrddraal.

Then something seemed to move in the deep shadow. It was hardly anything to look at; just a slight movement of the actual shadow. Then the shadows seemed to form into a cloud of darkness. It was like nothing the man had seen before... The cloud seemed to absorb the small amount of light that was around it. It didn’t seem to look like anything special, but then there seemed to be another movement, then a deep red fire burst out of the shadow and formed into two eyes....

Oh, burn my soul....

--what say you--

The voice was a painful shutter in his mind, and he was almost on the verge of tears.

“W-we f-found someone....”

--and is this person the Dragon--

“N-n-no... G-g-great L-lord...”

--then what say you--

“W-w-we found someone w-w-who c-can f-find him....”

--I know of this man... it was in the untold Prophecies that the Chosen have told me of--

“Y-yes.. Great L-l-lord... One of the C-chosen f-found him...”

--bring him forth--

“I d-d-don’t have him...”

The ground shook with furry.

--and why not--

“He is not ready yet!” the man said, searching for a way out. “The C-chosen is watching him! He follows close behind, Great Lord! But... I know that he hides something...” He shut his mouth quickly, cursing him and his big mouth. If the Great Lord knows that the child cannot...

The ground shook again.

--and what is it--

“He cannot channel!” he screamed, unable to help himself, his hands coming up over his head. He knew that with those words he condemned both his life and that of the Chosen’s. In the Prophecies, it is said, or supposed to say, that the One Who Follows can channel. He knew that this is the worse news he could have given to the Great Lord, and he knew that he was going to die any moment...

Silence.

--and you are sure of this--

“Yes my Great Lord! If he could, surely he would have done it by now!”

The ground shook again, and this time that cloud took on the shape of a man.

--come closer... I command it--

Then man got up and walked over to the Great Lord until he was almost at his feet--if you can call it feet. He didn’t bother to look at the other generals, he knew that with him out of the way they would all get a better chance of becoming Chosen as well...

--for this outrage, you will die! not only your body, but your soul as well--

The man let out a scream, then was silence as his skin fell to the ground like silk cloth. No bones at all in him.

The Dark One looked at everyone else, and each one cowered like whipped dogs under his stare.

--you will each dedicate your lives to finding this child and then turning him towards my bidding! With, or without his knowledge is your own choice! Now, be gone--

The shadow lifted, and the Dark One was no longer there... Some would say that he was never there to begin with.

[top]

Chapter 7: Healings

It was a great afternoon, the sky was clear, the weather was warm - not too hot, not too cold; just right. Birds were singing in the sky and on the few trees that were around. They were magnificent creatures of song and color. The grass was green, the dirt was brown, the flowers were just right. It was, for a lack of a better word, perfect.

Yet the Boy who was slumping across the hills barely alive hardly noticed. He hardly noticed the sky, nor the tress, much less so for the grass. He didn’t even notice the birds.

Must... keep... walking...

If the Boy could look down at himself at that moment and was able to understand what he was looking at, he would have screamed out in misery. He had no clothes on to speak of, just rags that were wrapped around his lower body, slightly dangling down past his knees, and the strange torn and dirty color-shifting cloak and sword with the birds on it. His whole body from chin to lower legs was wrapped around in bandages, worn with wear and soiled with dry blood; they looked ready to fall off at any moment.

As it was, the bandages were not doing much good. Blood was oozing down through the bandages and onto the grass, the burns all throughout his body were already beginning to burn again from the sun and the slight breeze. In fact, with all the blood and dirt and the Light alone knew what else, those bandages were only causing more damage.

Yet the Boy who was slumping still through the hills hardly noticed that. He hardly noticed anything at all. He couldn’t think, he couldn’t feel, he couldn’t do anything but continue walking.

Why am I walking? he thought.

Yet he kept on walking... were was it? ...south? No, it must be west... He had no clue, but it had to be west. Why was he walking west? He couldn’t remember anything, but he knew that he had to keep on walking. Something in the back of his mind told him he had to keep moving, even though he had no idea where or why. He had no idea what was to the west, except that life was in that direction.

Why don’t I just sit down and half a nice rest...

NO! He had to keep moving. The Boy had no idea how he knew, but he knew that if he stopped, even for a second, he wouldn’t be able to move again.

The Boy stumbled off to one side, jerking his way back to the path he was walking just moments before. His vision was blurred and his mouth dry and his body weak. He would be dead long ago from the lack of blood if it wasn’t for that root that that man had given him. The taste was still in his mouth as there is no moister left in his mouth to wash the taste away.

He looked up and saw a small grouping of trees... He had no idea what they were called... He thought that he used to know what many things were called, but he no longer did. Yet despite all of this, he felt as if he just reached home. He was safe! He had no idea why he felt this way, but he knew that if he just made it to that grouping of trees he would find help. Somewhere deep in his mind he could just barely recall the memory being told to walk to this grouping of trees - a grove, he thought it was called - and he would be Healed.

At this point he no longer cared. He would have slumped down on the ground if it wasn’t for that root from seer exhaustion, so he just put one foot in the other until the shade of the tree’s canopies covered him. Then he continued to walk. This... grove... was much bigger than he first thought, but he soon noticed a small grouping of tents in far side of the grove, a small lake not more than a few dozen feet away.

Not knowing what else to do, he just kept on walking. Once he was inside the camp he noticed that a few people were in it. There were four men in dark garbs sitting on rocks and sharpening swords near tow women, one dressed in blue, the other red, and a slightly aged man. They were all watching him, each with an expression different from each other, though he couldn’t tell what.

Then everything happened at once. The four men were up in a bound and were surrounding the two women with their swords held ready - the Boy also noticed that they were all wearing the same color-shifting cloak that he was - while the two women were yelling and screaming at the men, full of anger and fury and even fear, while the slightly aged man - the Boy couldn’t really put an age to his face; he looked about fifty or so - was just staring at him with amusement and even shock.

Then the aged man said something and everyone else stopped and was looking over at the man, then over at him with widening eyes. The woman in blue pushed past the four men while she said something to them and they quickly sheathed their swords.

The one in blue was looking the Boy in the eye now, but he saw none of it. He was just glad that he had stopped, that he could rest. He wanted to sit down and sleep, but again, something stopped him. The woman said something - it was all gibberish to him - to the aged man who only nodded, then said something else that made the woman jump slightly, especially the woman in red who was still hanging back behind the men.

The woman in blue said something to the men and one of them came up to him and tried to get the cloak off his back, but the Boy let something escape his mouth. He didn’t know what it was, only that it might have been loud, and it did cause the man to jump. He looked over at the blue dressed woman, then tried to take his sword away, but the Boy only clutched it further, letting that same noise come from his lips.

The man took a steep back and threw up his arms, then walked back to stand with the other men. The woman in red screamed something at the men who all looked at her with stony faces, while the woman in blue was just looking at him.

Then she seemed to come to her senses and told the woman in red something. She seemed to hesitate, then, after saying something else, shook her head and the woman in blue dashed away and in a small tent in the other side of the small camp.

The four men came up to him and picked him up and walked him into the biggest tent in the camp. They placed him on a table and the woman in red was screaming at the men who were trying to get the sword and cloak off, but to no avail. Then they gave up and walked away.

A few moments later the woman in blue came in, the tents flaps moving aside, showing that the aged man was no longer there. The woman in blue had with her a bowl of water and some more bandages. The two women were talking now in low voices, then they both placed there hands on his chest where he was suddenly filled with a numbing cold, and everything disappeared in an endless scream...

The slightly aged man looked over at the woman in blue and said, “That’s right. The Great Lord himself wants this person taken care of, but he is to never know that you are Darkfriends.”

The woman in blue shook her head. “It shall be done, of course, but I don’t see how it will help him in his search for the Dragon Reborn.” She sniffed and wiped a slight tear from her eye. She was still upset from the loss of her Warder, whom she felt die only hours before. She had cried, but as soon as this man showed up, she kept it all under wraps. This man was, after all, as high up the chain as Darkfriends get. He might even be on the level of the Chosen.

The aged man smiled. “The Great Lord has his reasons. It is not up to us to question him.”

The woman in red snorted and he looked at her with contempt. He really hated her. “You defy the Great Lord?” he asked coldly.

The woman in red looked at him like he was insane. “Of course not! I just don’t see why we should be debunked from traveling the Borderlands in search of other Darkfriends who can channel so they can become generals all the way down to baby sitting some child!”

The aged man shook his head. He really hated her. “You are not supposed to know the Great Lord’s meanings. If he wants you to clean the floor of a dessert with your tongue, you better start lapping!”

The woman in blue sniffed again, and this time the woman in red looked scornfully at her. “Oh, stop that this instant! That man never wanted to be your Warder in the first place! You tricked him into accepting the Bond, and then you used him, just like all the others here. And besides, you still have Gannon.” She sniffed again, then looked over at the four men who were sharpening their swords. “And you still have those four, if they can even be called Warders. Just a bunch of riffraff farmboys who you bonded one day without their will. Why, if it wasn’t for Gannon, they wouldn’t even know how to hold a sword--”

“Shut up, burn you!” the aged man yelled. He really, really, really hated that woman. He looked off towards the four men who were still sharpening their swords, not paying any attention to any of them when the child staggered in.

At first the aged man thought he was imagining things, but then he looked again and the Boy was still there. Amazing! he thought. Simply amazing! How did he get here this fast! I was almost ready to send the two Aes Sedai to look for him... Never this...

Then everything happened at once. The four men dashed in front of the two women - well, at least in front of the woman in blue; they didn’t much like the one red either - while the two women were screaming.

The one in blue was screaming, “Ah! How did he get in here with- hey! You four were supposed to be guarding the camp and the grove! You can’t just slack off because I sent out Gannon as well as-”

While the woman in red was screaming, “You four oafs! You will never be full Warders, no matter how much Gannon trains you! Gannon and the other one are the only true Warders with us! Burn you all, how I hate men! Blood and bloody ashes--”

“That’s him,” the aged man said, almost before he knew it was coming out. Everyone stopped and looked over at him, then at the child.

The woman in blue pushed her way through the four men, coming up to the child, saying, “Put away your swords! Now!” behind her. She walked up to the child and asked, “Are you sure?? This poor child looks barely alive! But it has to! Look! He has his sword and cloak!”

The aged man nodded, then said, “That’s him. And he’s almost dead. Quickly, you two need to Heal him, feed him, take care of him. And fast! If he dies...” He left the threat unsaid. He didn’t need to say anything more. The two women jumped.

“Okay, but he can’t do a good job while he holds on to those.” She pointed to one of the men and said, “You. Take them off, please.”

The man walked up and tried to take the cloak off, but the child grabbed it tighter and let out a deafening scream. The man jerked back and looked at the woman in blue. When she urged him on, he then tried to grab the sword, but the child pushed it closer to his chest and again let out a deafening scream. Finally, the man gave up and threw his arms up. “It’s useless. He wont let go.” Then he joined the others.

The woman in blue looked at the child for a moment, then gave a start. She looked over at the woman and said, “You think we can do this with him holding those? Should I get a bowl of water and bandages?”

The woman in red gave a start and then nodded. Then the woman in blue hiked up her skirt and ran to the small tent with the supplies. The four men got the child up and carried him into the largest tent.

The slightly aged man watched as the woman in red run in with a bowl of water and bandages in her hands, and in a few moments, the four men walked out.

Well, he thought. I guess its time to go. He turned around and started walking out of the grove of trees towards the hills. He wouldn’t leave this child in the hands of these misfits. Never. He couldn’t do that, for they will surely screw up, and it will be his life on the line. His, and theirs, but they would never think that far ahead. So, he will keep tabs on him. After all, he will surely learn of who they are, even if he doesn’t understand what it means... He will eventually, because they have a camp full of Warders who are Bonded to an Aes Sedai of the Black Ajah against their will, or knowledge, or both. Someone will let it slip.

He then turned around once he was a few feet inside the grove the slightly aged man channeled a weave of Air and Earth and Spirit, making a shield around him that makes him invisible. Making him blind in with the surroundings. It wont be easy, of course, but it had to be done. And it had to be done now. After all, he wasn’t getting any younger.

Smiling at that, Asmodean rubbed a hand over his face.

Well, perhaps I am.

[top]

Chapter 8: Garatt Jax

The light of the early morning sun was magnified almost tenfold by the pure white tent covers. It was so bright that at first the Boy thought that he must be dead.

Is this what it’s like being dead? he thought to himself. He couldn’t remember anything after he was thrown into that bag by the Trollocs. Everything else was a blur... He must be dead. He must. Nothing else made sense.

He looked around and saw that he was wrapped up in a bed inside a tent. Well, he thought, I guess that means I’m not dead after all. He sighed and tried to sit up, but was forced back by a wave of intense pain going through him. What’s going on?

The Boy pealed off the blanket and looked down at his body. He blinked in confusion. What’s going on? He was covered with white bandages from his neck down to his feet and the smell of medication wavered up to him. Why was he bandaged up?

Again, he tried to get up, but this time the pain was too much and a moan escaped from his lips. Light! What happened?

The tent flaps opened and a woman in blue came in bringing in a small bowl full of water and a handful of bandages. She gave a start upon seeing him awake and trying to get up. She put the bowl and bandages down on a small table and walked up to him.

“Are you all right?” she asked. “Do you need to be Healed?”

The Boy blinked, not understanding. “Where... where am I?” He was shocked at the rough sound of his voice. His mouth felt as dry as a desert.

She hesitated, then looked around. “You... you don’t... remember?” The Boy tried to swallow and the woman in blue blinked, then gave a start. “Of course! I’m sorry, you must be thirsty. I... I’ll go get some water.” Then she turned around and left, leaving the Boy to just sit there and stare.

What under the Light is going on? He looked around again and saw a torn, dirty color-shifting cloak and a sword with a bird engraved on top of it laying on another table just inches away. Why does that look so familiar to me? he thought.

And then it hit him, and the memories came flooding back at him.

The memories of killing Master Ferhiel, of running away from the city of Chachin, of being tortured by the Trollocs then burned alive, ready to be eaten, of being rescued by that man in the color-shifting cloak, and then of walking in on this camp. Everything. It made him want to cry.

Without even thinking, he ripped off the bandages and looked at his naked body before him, and he did cry. His front body was just one big black and dark red scab, the burns covering all of his body from above his neck to the bottom of his upper legs.

Letting the tears flow, the Boy reached up and grabbed the sword and cloak tight against his scabbed body.

The tent flaps pushed apart again, and this time both the woman in blue and the woman in red came in. The woman in red almost looked afraid of him, and when she saw him on the bed with the covers thrown back and the bandages all over the floor, holding the sword and cloak against his naked scabbed body, she was terrified.

“Burn my soul!” she said. “Heal him! Look at him, fool girl! He needs to be Healed!” Then she pushed the other woman towards him, and the Boy moved back a bit.

“He doesn’t want it! Look at him! He’s terrified, the poor child...”

The woman in red gave a loud snort, looking almost ready to slap the woman in blue’s face.

The one in blue walked towards him slowly, holding out her hands as if not to frighten him. “What’s your name?” she asked in a soft, kind voice.

The Boy just looked at her for a moment, a dangerous look in his eyes. Shouldn’t she know? he thought to himself. Never taking his eyes off her, he slowly said, “I... I... have no name... People just call me Boy.”

The one in blue tsked and shook her head. “That’s no good... We need to give you a name if we are going to raise you...”

The woman in red grabbed the other’s arm and said through her teeth, “Let’s step outside and have a little chat.” And with that, she all but dragged the other woman out the tent, leaving the Boy alone, the tears flowing down his face.

As the two women came out, the one in red almost slapped the other. "What ever do you think you are doing?!" she demanded.

One of the men looked at them, but once he saw that she noticed, he quickly turned away and faded into the bushes. Good, she thought. Gannon got to them. She hated men, but Gannon was the only man she could tolerate. Ever since the other woman’s Warder died, he is the only true Warder left in the camp.

"What's with you? All I was doing was making him feel comfortable. What's wrong with that?"

The other woman just stood there and stared at her as if she was the dumbest person in the world. "He isn't some silly kid who you can make them do whatever they want by promising candy! Look at him! He survived things that Warders would have died just thinking about!"

"So?"

"So?" If the woman in red wasn't mad before, she certainly is now. "That boy has a direct tie in with the Great Lord! You heard that guy who was here a few days ago! He says that not only does the Chosen wants this Boy taken care of, but the Great Lord Himself! Doesn't that tell you something about what he is?! He most likely has the Great Lord’s own luck!”

The woman in the blue dress just lightly wiped away the forming tears in her eyes. "Yes. It means he needs special care. If the Great Lord wants him taken care of so that he can do His bidding, then I want to get on that little boy's good side."

"Good side! If the Great Lord wants him, then that must mean that he doesn't have a good side!"

The woman in blue just stood there a moment, then shook her head. "But he looks so sweet and kind... Like the kind of kid that I always wanted."

The woman in red just sniffed. "If you ask me, men are all woolheaded. They should all just stay away from me.”

The woman in blue smiled at her. "We are so opposite, yet we get along so well... Why is that?"

The one in red just stared at her. "I have no idea."

They just stood there, outside the Boy’s tent, just looking at each other.

No answers came to them...

The Boy had made the decision, so he put on the shirt and pants that were laid out for him in short order, then strapped the sword on his back and wrapped the cloak about him. They both were too long for him, but he didn’t care. It wasn’t going to bother him any more...

Well, he thought, there's no way this can be done just sitting here. Not with those two women out there. They might just do what they did before... What was is called? Healing?... after he gets done. And he doesn't want that.

Slowly, he put the knife that he always carried, the knife that killed Master Ferhiel, the knife that he help him make, and then put it in his belt. It hurt, but that too will no longer matter much longer.

Taking a deep breath - which hurt his lungs, even the clothes hurt as well, but it wont bother him soon after--he parted the opening on the then and stepped out.

The two women looked at him, the one in red just stared, while the one in blue looked relieved. “It looks like you have decided to get dressed. Do you feel any better?”

The Boy just nodded.

"Well now," the one in red said. "Now what do we do with you?"

The woman in blue thought a moment, sighed, then shook her head. “How about a name? You do need a name, and I’ve got just the one for you.” The woman in red looked at the one in blue, a stern look coming across her face. “Yes. I think it would do him justice. How about the name... Garatt Jax?”

The Boy just stood there a moment, not knowing what to say, all the while thinking of how much these clothes hurt. Finally, after thinking that it wouldn’t hurt, that it wouldn’t make much difference, he shook his head again. “Sure. Why not?” The woman in blue beamed with pride, while the one in red just looked at her. “Say, do you know where I can wash up?”

The woman in blue smiled and said, “Yeah. Right over there is a small lake... A big pond, really.”

The Boy - Garatt Jax - walked off towards the lake in search of answers, as well as the courage to do what needs to be done...

[top]

Chapter 9: Answers By The Lake

As Garatt Jax walked up to lake near the small grove in the lower Borderlands, he knew what he had to do, but he didn’t think that he could do it. But I have to! he thought to himself. It’s better than I deserve!

He looked around quickly as he looked to see if anyone else was in the area. The last thing he needed is for someone to see him to this and then run off to tell the two women. He walked up to the lake’s edge and then dropped to his knees. He felt the scabs on his knees tear open, but he tried to ignore it. In a few moments it wont matter...

Garatt Jax slowly drew out his knife and held it ready just a few inches away from his heart. He knew what he had to do. He knew that he deserved it, he knew that he needed to do it. What other punishment is fit for his crime. Then why is it so hard for me to do it?

Garatt gritted his teeth and tightened his grip on the knife, the knife that his foster father, Master Ferhiel, helped him make, the knife that he used to kill him... Slowly, ever so slowly, he closed his eyes and the knife moved away a few inches, then it plunged quickly towards his chest...

flicker

In that instant, his whole life flashed before his eyes; at least all the bad things in it. He was standing at the gates of a big city - it must have been Chachin - with two other brightly dressed men. Then he was standing with his foster father for the first time, then he was standing at Master Ferhiel’s store where he was taught how to make weapons. Then he displayed the knife he had just made to him, and saw him beam with pride.

And then he was pulling the knife out of Master Ferhiel’s chest.

flicker

Now he was standing on top of a hill over looking a moon lighted valley. At first he had no idea what he was watching until he saw the carriage lumbering out onto the valley floor. He was standing there watching the dark shapes close in, he watched as the screams got loud. He watched, but did nothing.

flicker

He watched as the Trollocs took him and stuffed him into a bag. Watched as the Forsaken laughed as the Myrddraal ordered the Trollocs to “break” in their own knives by practicing on him. He watched as they strung him up to a branch and set him to roast...

flicker

The tears were beginning to sting by now, and the knife had stopped just barely from penetrating his skin. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t do half the things that he should... half the things anyone who is half brave. He isn’t anything close to that.

I’m a coward...

You are only a coward if you let your failures over shadow your triumphs

Garatt blinked. Where had that voice come from? He looked around and saw that he was alone. No one was there to speak. Maybe I’m mad as well as a coward.

Everyone’s mad... It’s just that some are more mad than others

Garatt blinked again. Are you in my head? he thought.

Nothing.

Well, he though. I am mad. He sighed deeply. What was he going to do.

Survive

All right! he thought. Are you in my head? What do you mean, “survive”?

Survive... learn until you can survive

What do you mean?

The voice seemed to hesitate before answering. Maybe you are mad... What part of “survive” did you not understand?

Garatt shook his head. He has gone mad. Here he is, almost ready to kill himself with a knife that he made, then killed the only father that he ever had, and he’s arguing with a voice in his head. Okay... how am I supposed to do that?

Learn as much as you can, then when you’ve learned enough, leave.

Learn... yes... that sounds right.

Of course it’s right! That’s the only thing you can do.

What then?

What do you mean?

What do I do after I learn?

Survive

Garatt Jax shook his head. He had no idea what this voice is, or who, but it was right. He needs to learn... He needs to survive.

Slowly, he lowered his hand with the knife.

“It’s about time you put that down,” a voice said behind him.

Garatt turned around and gave a start. Right in front of him was a the biggest man he had ever seen. His shoulders were almost a wide as Garatt was tall. He had on a deep greet shirt and matching pants, as well as a sword at his hip and a color-shifting cloak. The man’s face looked like it was chiseled in stone. He had deep set eyes and a decent sized nose, and a beard that was cut close around his face.

“Who are you?” Garatt asked.

“My name is Gannon,” he said. “It looks as if I will be teaching you a great deal of things in the years to come.”

Garatt just looked at him. “You mean I can’t just pick up and leave?”

Gannon just shook his head and snorted. “No, you can’t.” Then he laughed bitterly. “Once you get tangled up with them, it isn’t easy to get lose.”

Garatt blinked. “You don’t like them?”

The other man snorted again. “No, I do not.”

“But you serve them?”

This time Gannon looked him right in the eye. “I have no choice, Boy. That is something that I will teach you sooner or later.” He hesitated a moment before saying, “I can’t very well keep calling you Boy, now can I? What is it that the Aes Sedai call you?”

Garatt hesitated as well before saying, “Garatt. Garatt Jax.”

Gannon looked taken aback, then shook his head, saying a slight curse then prayer under his breath.

“What? Does that name mean something?”

Gannon snorted. “Yeah. Garatt Jax was the name of the Warder who saved your life.”

Garatt took a step back. He felt like someone just punched him in the gut. The man who had saved his life... That was who he was now named after. Strangely enough, he felt like that was the least he could do for him.

Gannon snorted again. “It looks as if I will be teaching you a lot. Come, everything will not make sense overnight.” He put a hand on Garatt’s shoulders and started leading him back to the camp.

Thus, it began.

Through the weaves of Air and Earth and Spirit, Asmodean shook his head. That Boy wasn’t going to be that easy to control... Especially with that Gannon fellow there. Then again, no one else could teach that Boy what he needs to know.

There was just no other way.

Slowly, Asmodean let the weaves of Spirit and Air and Water go; the weaves necessary to put thoughts into someone’s head. All he really needed to do was to keep this up. There was no need to kill Gannon... at least, not yet.

Silently, Asmodean made a prayer, that through the grace of the Light which he had abandoned so many years ago and through his hope of salvation and rebirth that as long he lived, he would always look after this child.

Always... At least, until he no longer proves useful.

That almost made him smile.

Almost.

[top]

Chapter 10: Escapes

Sweat rolled off Garatt Jax’s body as he swung his wooden sword in the move called Boar Rushing Down the Mountain. It wasn’t the best of moves in this situation, but it was the only one he could do without having his adversaries own sword strike his side. He hated losing, especially to Gannon.

Gannon smiled and countered with Parting the Silk, then he thrust with a move that almost always made him cringe with fear. The sword lashed out to his left shoulder, then very quickly swung and arched to strike him on the left shoulder. It all happened so fast that Garatt could never follow it if his life depended on it.

Garatt let a scream of pain escape his lips, and he let go of his wooden sword and grabbed his shoulder. Light, but it hurt! “Burn you, Gannon!” he cursed. “Why did you have to do that! Light! That hurts like nothing I’ve ever flaming felt!”

Gannon threw his head back and boomed out laughing, slapping his knees. “Light, Garatt,” he said in between laughs, “I’ve used that move on you so many times it should almost never even hurt any more!”

Garatt snorted, still holding his arm. “Easy for you to say. You haven’t been hit half a dozen times in the same flaming shoulder all flaming day!” That brought another round of insane laughter from his teacher. He hated it when Gannon got the best of him... which was just about every time they sparred. That move was only to be used as a last resort, yet it seemed to him that Gannon used it every other move. One of the things that he was taught by Gannon over the six or so years he has been with him is that that move, which he called Hawkwing’s Death, was a move that, according to him, has never been seen since Artur Hawkwing’s death.

By the time Gannon had stopped laughing, Garatt put on his shirt, covering his chest that was deeply covered in burn scars that disappeared below his pants. He got the torn and dirty color-shifting cloak and heron-marked sword that he was never without off the ground, wrapping it around his bruised shoulders.

Gannon sighed deeply, wiping tears away from his eyes, putting his own shirt over a heavily muscled chest. “You learn much too quickly, boy. Much, much too quickly.” Then he sighed again.

Garatt shook his head. “Just because I have a great teacher.”

Gannon smiled at that, patting his shoulder. Garatt winced slightly, which almost caused him to start laughing all over again. “Come on, now. It’s time for lunch. Then I’ve got to think of something else to teach you.” He laughed again. “Those Aes Sedai no longer seem to want to teach you anything else, boy. You seem to absorb everything they say and say it like you know better than they.”

Sighing, Garatt started walking back up to the tents, looking around the forests of the Borderland nation of Arafel, taking in the sights. It was so beautiful in the Borderlands that it was hard to describe. He looked back to find Gannon only a few feet away from him. “So,” he said as casually as he could manage; and as soft. “You think today might be the day?”

Gannon didn’t look right nor left, be straight ahead. He didn’t say anything. He just shrugged his shoulders and kept on walking.

Garatt sighed deeply and kept his mouth shut. He really shouldn’t have asked that, but he had no choice. He needed to know when he could chance an escape. For six or so years he had asked, and each time it was always the same answer; “No, Garatt. Not yet. Later.” That sort of thing. It never made much sense to him. Why couldn’t he just walk on out? Of course, that was when he was young. He knew better than to ask that so anyone else could hear.

The voice in his head told him that much by itself. It’s never there as often now as it was in the beginning. It would always say that it wasn’t time, that he needed more training. It would always say something like that. He still had no clue what that voice was, or where it came from. At first he thought that this voice was just all in his head, but soon he found out that it wasn’t. The voice would teach him almost as much as Gannon and the two Aes Sedai would, but it would teach him differently than anyone else in the camp. The Aes Sedai named Amies Fingold, who always wore blue, taught him about ethics and manners and things like that, while the Aes Sedai named Verdin Ashlin, who always wore red and never seemed to like teaching him anything, taught him diplomacy and concentration techniques, while Gannon, on the other hand, taught him how to use the sword and other weapons as well as history and languages, mainly the Old Tongue. The voice, however, was something different.

He had to think long and hard about that voice in his head. He never understood it, but he knew that it was trying to help him most of the time, and the other he tried to push him to know things that even Gannon said no one understood anymore; like the Old Tongue. Gannon had a passing knowledge of the Old Tongue, and he said that hardly anyone else alive knows more than a few words at best. While the voice in his head, who had said his name was Joar Addam Nesossin, knew the Old Tongue like he knew his hands... that is, if he had hands. He had helped him learn the Old Tongue to a point where, as he said one day, “no one alive save myself and a few others could match.”

Understanding the Old Tongue wasn’t that hard, but it wasn’t that easy. With the voice and the Aes Sedai and Gannon, he had no room for anything else. According to Gannon, he was as best a sword fighter as he had ever seen, and even though the Aes Sedai would never admit it, he knew just about as much as they did on almost anything that wasn’t tied with the power, and even with some things that were, even though he couldn’t touch the One Power, which seemed to disappoint the Aes Sedai to no avail, despite all the horror stories he has heard of what happens to men who could channel. Joar’s view on his knowledge of the Old Tongue when without saying of course.

As they walked in on the camp, the four men in black clothes snapped into attention from where they were sitting down. Gannon shook his head in disgust, spitting on the ground.

“You boys are like nothing I have seen. You should be better than Garatt in every way sense you have been with me far longer, but you’re not. You make me sick. Go wash up, its time to eat.”

They all looked as if they were ready to tear out Garatt’s heart from his chest, but they all left anyway. Once, long ago, he wondered why they did anything to help those women who were Friends of the Dark, but that all disappeared shortly thereafter. They have ways of making you do things that you normally wouldn’t do without thinking, and if you didn’t jump when they say jump, you feel pain like you have never felt it before; even Amies, who used to be of the Blue Ajah can do things as bad if not worse than Verdin, who was once Red Ajah, whose soul purpose was to hunt down men who can channel.

Shaking his head, Garatt put his wooden sword down next to his tent, then buckled his heron-marked sword on his belt. The things we put up with for knowledge.

Gannon snorted. “The things we put up with because we have no other choice.”

Garatt gave a start when he realized that he had spoken out loud. Shaking his head again, he gladly excepted the bowl of what smelled like a sort of beef broth from Gannon. He murmured a thanks then buried his face in the bowl, lost in thought as he sat down on the ground.

Gannon took a seat next to him and they ate in silence.

Through his shield of Air and Earth and Spirit, Asmodean started humming a favorite tune he once heard all over the lands. That was such a long time ago, it was a wonder that he could remember at all. So many things are gone that were taken for granted... What he wouldn’t give for a--

He was so caught up in reminiscing that he almost didn’t see the slit of light until it was too late. He quickly dropped the shield and embraced as much as saidin as he could and prepared to kill whoever walked through that Gate. The slight tingle on his skin told him that someone was using saidar to open the Gateway.

Then a woman walked through and stood before him. The Gateway closed and they stood there and watched each other. Asmodean thought that she was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen, and if she wasn’t who she was, and if he wasn’t who he is, he might have asked her to dance. But he knew that Mesaana was one of the most dangerous women he had even met.

“Release saidar, Mesaana,” he said, his skin still tingling.

“Release saidin, Asmodean,” she told him, looking him square in the eye, not moving an inch.

They both looked at each other and the tension was thick enough to strike sparks. Then, reluctantly as he had ever done anything before, he released saidin, and Mesaana did the same.

Mesaana smiled, but the smile never left her lips. “So, Asmodean. This is where you hide yourself. You keep interesting company.”

Asmodean smiled just as warmly. “What do you want, Mesaana.”

“The Great Lord is tired of waiting, Asmodean, and quite frankly, so are the rest of us. We need to find Lews Therin, and we need him to do it.”

Asmodean gave a soft laugh. “Are you sure he’s the one. He can’t channel, after all.”

Mesaana laughed as well; there was nothing warm about it. “He is the one that Gilliam Deruim Cannon Foretold of. He is destined to find and Follow the Dragon Reborn.”

“What’s your point.” His voice was very cold.

“Watch your tongue, Joar Addam. I do not take kind to such a tone.” Hers was even more colder.

Asmodean snorted. “You do not scare me. You might as well go back to where you came from. He’s not ready to go anywhere yet.”

“That’s not your decision to make anymore, Asmodean. By the order of the other Chosen, you are to return to Shayol Ghul so we can take the child to find Lews Therin.” She nodded in satisfaction.

Asmodean’s face had turn to stone. They can’t do this! They can’t! Ah, burn me! What can I do? The boy isn’t ready yet! If they take him now he wont do them any good! I need to train him some more, but as long as I keep him in the camp of those Darkfriends, the other Chosen will know where he is! “Very well,” was all he said.

She just looked at him a moment longer, then she channeled and a Gateway opened up back to Shayol Ghul. She steeped through and the Gateway snapped shut.

Asmodean just stood there a moment, stunned. He had to get him away, but he had no idea where. What was he to do? He had to get him away...

Amies Fingold was sitting down in her tent writing a letter to a few of her other Black sisters when the tent flap was pushed up and Verdin Ashlin walked in. She looked around and then glow of saidar surrounded her and she made a ward against eavesdropping before slumping down in a chair next to her.

“What’s wrong?” Amies asked, going back to her letter.

“It’s that child, Garatt Jax.”

Amies looked up and put the pin down. In the beginning, Verdin always called him Boy or something like that, even after the Boy started calling himself Garatt Jax. It was hard to get her to use that name, but it got easier with time, until just a year ago, Amies noticed that she called him that without even blinking. But now, when she said that name, it was like saying that fire was wet. “What about him?” she asked.

“He’s learning too fast with on so many things... I’m beginning to think he is more than he appears to be.”

Amies managed a soft laugh. “Oh, Verdin. You never change, do you? Of course he’s more than he appears to be. The Chosen themselves have taken an interest in him. I think that he is apart of some sort of Prophecy.”

Verdin shook her head slowly. “I’ve read every copy of the translated of the Karaethon Cycle, and there’s no mention of anything like this.” Then she sighed, a deep sound, almost like a moan. Verdin didn’t like not knowing what was happening. “Maybe he’s apart of some unspoken Prophecy, or something like that that was lost in the Breaking...”

“So what do you want to do?” Amies asked softly. She knew what was coming. They had had this conversation several times before.

“We need to put him to the question,” Verdin said softly. Amies sighed, thinking on how she never gave up. “We need to find out what he knows. You know as well as I do that he knows who and what we are by now. Gannon has made sure of that by now.”

She spat that name like it was a curse. Amies shook her head just slightly. There was once a time when Verdin thought that Gannon was the only reasonably intelligent man she ever knew. But times change minds as often as seasons. That was the way of life. The way of the Wheel.

“So,” Verdin’s soft voice brought Amies back from her fancies and she looked at the other woman. “What do you think? You think that if we question him, the Chosen wouldn’t mind?”

She shrugged. Who knew what to believe when it came to the Chosen? She would grovel before any of them like a pig just like anyone else with a brain, but she still questioned them. Oh, not openly, of course; no one did that and lived. She had her own reasons, and no one, not even Verdin, a friend of hers for well over thirty years, knew why.

Verdin nodded, looking pleased. “Good, then. In the morning, we will question him. You have such an... interesting way of getting information.” With that, she rose and bid her a good night then walked out of the tent, leaving Amies alone to ponder her own problems.

Garatt

The voice slid over his mind as he slept, tossing and turning in a nightmare of fire and knives; the same dream every now and again. He really hated fire and knives. He guess that he always will...

Wake up, you fool child

Slowly, ever so slowly, Garatt opened his eyes. That voice. It was back. I was beginning to think that you were gone, Joar. How are--

Never mind that! Quickly, get dressed and go! Get what you need to and go! Leave everything else

Garatt blinked. He had never heard that kind of tone coming him before. He couldn’t quite put a finger to it... He thought it was... fear. What’s going on? he thought.

They’re coming

He didn’t have to know who he was talking about; he already knew. That was one of the things that he and Joar talked of. This Untold Prophecies, and he knew that the Forsaken were looking for him so he could lead them to the Dragon Reborn. Without waiting, he got out of bed and put on his shirt and pants then grabbed the torn and dirty color-shifting cloak and heron-marked sword and then put a small purse in his pockets. It wasn’t much, only a one ore two gold crowns, a dozen silver coins, and a couple more coppers, but it was all he had. I’m going! Good-bye, Joar. It’s been nice knowing you... If you are real.

Of course I’m real! And what do you mean? I’m going with you. You will never see my face, but I will always talk to you and give you advice

Garatt smiled as he crept out of the camp. He looked around and he didn’t see anything, so he kept on walking out. Soon, he was trotting down the hills to the south, ready to go out in the world and prove to himself and anyone else that he was the best. At what, that remained to be seen.

But he knew it would be a grand adventure!

As he started to run down the hill, the only eyes that followed him were those of Gannon. He stood there on the hill overlooking the one that Garatt was running down. His mouth moved in a silent prayer as he wished to boy off, hoping, praying, that Amies would not send him out to look for him, knowing that if she did, he would have no choice but to go. No one had ever escaped him. Ever.

Then again, no one had ever out did him in almost every way, as did he.

My, but it would be a grand adventure.

[top]

Epilogue: The Journey Begins

As Mesaana walked in the camp she knew that something was wrong. She couldn’t figure out what, but she knew that something was. She walked on and two women came running out of one tent, both looking furious, then, upon see her, they both threw themselves on the ground, begging for forgiveness.

Irritated, Mesaana snapped, “Stop that, you two, or I will kill you myself!”

They both stopped almost at once, both murmuring, “Yes, Great Mistress.”

“Now,” she said as cold as she could manage, “What’s wrong here? Where’s the child. I am to send him to Shayol Ghul at once. What? What’s wrong? Stop that crying! I said stop at once!”

But they kept on crying, tears pouring down their faces. “He... he’s gone, Great Mistress!” one said softly.

Mesaana’s heart missed a beat. “W... what?” she finally asked. “What was that?”

“He’s not here, Great Mistress! He must have fled at night! I know we should have set up warders against that, but we didn’t think! We--”

She was silenced by the sudden shaking of Mesaana’s body from head to foot. Both of the women each took several steps back, each holding the other and crying more that before. They probably thought that she was mad with them, but that wasn’t what made Mesaana shake like a babies’ doll in the wrong hand. It was fear.

She had never been more afraid in her life. Never. Burn my soul! she screeched in her mind. What am I to do?! Oh, blood and bloody ashes! I’m dead! Oh, ashes, the Great Lord will not only kill my body, but my utter soul!!

It took considerable effort to stop her shaking. She looked at the women and they both gave a little yelp, then moved back a few more feet. “Don’t move.” She was almost shocked at the hardness and cold in her voice. Had she not been so terrified she would have cringed herself. “I’ll be right back.” Then she channeled and wove flows of Air around the two women’s bodies and then tied it off.

She turned slowly and walked down past the camp to the bottom of the hill. She channeled again, this time weaving flows of Spirit and Fire, making a noise that none other than Shadowborn could hear. She sat there and waited for seemed to be an hour or so until enough came to her.

She stood there and looked at the things gathered around her. At least twenty fades with two fists of Trollocs, a dozen or so Darkhounds, at least thirty Draghkar, and half a dozen other things that she didn’t even want to think about. She knew that this wouldn’t be enough, but it was what she had. Nothing can be enough!

Slowly, and with a steady voice, she told everything there what she wanted them to do. It was easy, at least the actual job, but not the part where they had to stay hidden. The Darkhounds she needed to communicate in another form other than talking, so she used the One Power to talk to them; they understood talking, but it might be mistaken, since words usually are when it comes to Darkhounds. When it was all done, she said, “Go, and do not even rest before you do this.” And with that, they were all gone.

She stood there a moment, thinking what she should do. She had failed the Great Lord, and that would mean death for sure. Her head was spinning as she walked up the hill again and then stood in front of the two women, who were still crying and quivering in terror. A part of her wants to join them, she was so afraid.

She knew, of course, that nothing she sent will make up for this mistake. She could send out a million Myrddraal, with a thousand fits of Trollocs each, but they will never find them in time to save her. She could send out a billion Draghkar, but that wouldn’t be enough to track him, nor would a trillion Darkhounds. Nothing would. Nothing. She was doomed.

Of course, the only thing she could do now was to search for him herself. But not alone. Never alone. She had to have help. She looked down at the two women who were crying into each other’s shoulders, still watching her. She would have to use them, which means that she couldn’t kill them yet. Yet. Yes, of course. Not yet. She would, though. But not yet. But there are worse things than death...

“Now, what to do with you?” she said, then let a smile cross her lips. This smile did touch her eyes.

If it were at all possible, they just cried harder.

FIN

Michael Hiler II (aka Garatt Jax)

Sequel: The Journey Begins


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