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Presents!
Fri Feb 17, 2006 12:39
63.156.214.155 (XFF: 24.71.27.219)

As always, thanks to Dawn :)


Soradrelle slipped quietly off into the woods - it was clear his sister needed time to think, to sort through things, but he hadn’t lied when he’d said he could use some time to think, either. He felt awake, alert, the more so for the contrast of his recent amnesiac existence, but he had much to reflect on. Once or twice in his life he’d had a dream he hadn’t been able to immediately forget, or even want to. Not nightmares, but dreams which had provoked great thought. He felt that way now, not because of the dream he’d dreamed that night, but because his memory of the events of the past several weeks - ever since he’d laid down in the inn after the departure of Arya and her enraged father - had taken on a dreamlike quality.

He knew they’d truly happened - there was no doubt of that in his mind, but they also felt like one of the dreams which had occupied his mind for the whole day after he’d awakened from them. It felt as if he’d had a dream in which he hadn’t known who he was, had channeled to defend Allael - his sister, his mind added, and he smiled at the thought - and sought an identity and home among a band of Tuatha’an before being told he didn’t belong there. And he didn’t belong there - he saw that now, but he felt a brief pang for Adria. He wished he could go back to the band and tell her he was fine, but they would have no wish to see him again.

And so his mind turned again to thoughts of purpose. Purpose he’d been seeking ever since he woke up not knowing his name, and he wondered why he hadn’t sought it before. Why had he left the Tower? Closing his eyes, he laid a hand against a tree, and saw in his mind again the Trollocs storming the village. Then his mind went back to the brave Da’shain Aiel who’d stood in the face of fire to restore the mind of Aisor Kithar to him. He had fled to preserve the Way of the Leaf, but that was not the Way. There was more to the Way than simple peacefulness. The leaf did not flee from a terrible wind - such an idea was ridiculous. The leaf remained always where it budded - it stood in it’s place until it could stand no more, and then it fell. But its falling did not mean that all leaves would fall, or that new leaves would not bud again. The Da’shain had had a purpose, and he’d been shown that purpose within the Arch. He too had a purpose, greater than being a simple Tuatha’an Healer. He’d had that chance, and in the death of his Mahdi he had seen a greater path. And at first sight of a Trolloc he’d fled that path. Sora shook his head in frustration with himself. He’d made it all the harder, but he would return. He had to. There was no purpose for him out here, in the wilds.

But his departure hadn’t been an entire loss, either. Indeed, reflecting over his time with Allael, Sora realized it hadn’t been a loss at all. He wasn’t sure of the implications yet, of discovering the sister he hadn’t known he’d had, but he couldn’t ask for truer family. Even if she hadn’t been his Sister, he would have called her that, for her treatment to him. Perhaps that was what it meant - that his brothers and sisters weren’t limited to the Tuatha’an. The Tuatha’an kept the Way as best they knew how, but even they kept only part of it. Allael - and the courageous Aiel - also kept a part of the Way, and they were also his brothers and sisters. And the Aes Sedai, as well, though to them he was yet a child.

Sora nodded quietly to himself, and smiled. He had a home to return to, but first, a family to know and love. After looking about him once more and offering a silent prayer of thanks to the Creator for the blessings bestowed on him, Soradrelle turned and walked back to the camp. Something else had been shown to him, in that dream that was not a dream. He’d been given a second chance to look at the world for the first time, and Sora promised himself he would never stop seeing it afresh each day.

When he reached the camp again, Allael looked a bit pale, and somewhat shaken. Sora smiled reassuringly at her, but her return smile was tremulous. "Would…would you like to know about your family? And what…what you were called when you were born?" After a second’s pause, she hastily added, "I wouldn't expect you to change your name after all these years. I know you're Soradrelle. I just thought. . . that you might like to know. . . brother."

Sora approached her smoothly. She seemed to have accepted that he was her brother, but she did seem shaken. "Yes, I would, thank you," he answered, half out of simple politeness, to provide a direction for her to follow which might steady her. When he was near, he brushed her cheek lightly. "Are you feeling alright?"

"Yes, I'm fine. It's just…It's all so…Light! Burn me if I thought I'd ever be struck speechless." She laughed at that, and Sora thought he detected a catch in her voice that she’d managed to keep down during her normal words. Then she was hugging him, tightly, and he quickly returned her embrace. Yes, she was crying, and he felt the tears which slipped off her cheek running down his neck, but feeling her laughter within her sobs he determined that she was, in fact, happy beyond words, rather than distressed. Smiling both in relief and in appreciation of her happiness, he squeezed her still tighter.

For several moments they remained thus, in a wordless communion and silent understanding. At length, she quieted and released him, moving back a few steps. Giving him a light smile, she said, "I'm sorry. I'm not usually this emotional." She laughed sheepishly, and Sora joined in - he’d spent the past week with her, and had gotten a fairly good picture of her emotional stability, and he nodded in understanding.

They began to prepare their breakfast, and said nothing more for a few moments until it was ready. Finally, as they sat down to eat, Allael began. "Well, our father is Eldin al'Cantar. And our mother's name was Camille. When we were born you were called Tobin. Father is still living, as you know, and Mother…she died a few weeks after we were born."

As his sister fell silent, Sora leaned forward to hug her and offer comfort. Though she couldn’t have known her mother any more than he did, she had never had a mother growing up, as he had, and that made the mother they’d lost all the more hers, and the loss all the more painful for her. Finally, he spoke the obvious question quietly.

"How did she die?"

And after a sigh, she told him. "Mother was Aes Sedai, and Papa was her Warder. When we were born another Aes Sedai had a foretelling, telling Mother that the Way of the Leaf would be our salvation. So they went in search of some Tinkers, and found a band here in Andor. They were going to give us to them, to be raised as Tuatha'an. But some Whitecloaks evidently found out about it, and attacked, hoping to kill the 'Tar Valon Witch.' It was bloody - the two of them killed most of the Whitecloaks. But Mother was fatally injured while Papa was protecting me." Soradrelle nodded. That would explain her hatred of the Whitecloaks he'd heard in her voice on more than one occasion. Then a quiet sniffle alerted him to the fact that she'd stopped talking, and he glanced at her. She was staring at the ground, and Sora guessed the trajectory of her thoughts. He was about to say something when she continued. "One of the Tuatha'an women ran off with you, and when Papa found her, she said you'd died. So he buried Mother and settled in Andor to take care of me." Again she fell silent, her mind apparently still preoccupied, and Sora moved over next to her, and put an arm over her shoulders.

"I was a Healer among the Tuatha'an, but when the Mahdi - my foster father - fell ill, I couldn't heal him. Perhaps if I'd gone to the White Tower to learn, I would have returned able to heal him. But I didn't - I stayed with the Tuatha'an until after he died. But we can't know the consequences of our actions, and our mother's death is on the Whitecloak's hands, not yours."

She let out a relieved sigh, apparently accepting his words. "Thank you Soradrelle. You have no idea how much better that makes me feel." Sora smiled back reassuringly at her, he himself reassured by his own words - he'd known what to say, when to say it. He was back to his old self, the friend and comforter he'd been before he stepped through the cursed arches.

Sora listened as she talked about her childhood, laughing with her, and empathizing with her, as well. She was a Traveler as well, though no Tuatha'an or Da'shain. She also reminded him of Tira, stubbornly refusing to become someone she wasn't. And like him during his time in the Tower.

He also considered her story, the true story of how he'd ended up with the Tuatha'an. So, it was true then, that Tinkers stole children, and the remark he'd made in jest years ago about being the child who was stolen had more accuracy than he'd imagined. He felt a little shame at that, at first, but he wasn't truly Tuatha'an, any more. He had transcended that, without becoming lost. Though, he smiled slightly at the thought, he had been very lost, for a time, and in more ways than one. And it had been his Sister who had found him.

She interrupted his thoughts with a question about his own past. "What about you? What was it like to grow up with your foster family?"

And so, thinking back, he told her briefly about life in the wagons. His mind wasn't there, though. It was already drifting back towards the White Tower that had been his home for nearly eight years. It was still his home, in a way - all his family, aside from Allael, was there. He finished softly, "But you know, even though I left, I'll have to go back."

Her answer was abrupt - something in her tone suggested that she felt the White Tower to be. . . unsafe. "If you left, then why do you have to go back? And more importantly, do you want to go back?"

Did he want to go back? That was an interesting question. But, in his mind, it didn't really matter. He had to. "Once I was a simple Tuatha'an Healer. I could have remained such, but when the Mahdi died, I caught a glimpse of something. I could learn to make a difference, even more than I already did. So I went to the Tower to do something, to learn. But when I left, I was running away from something - from the threat I perceived to my way of life, to the Way of the Leaf. I was wrong, then - the threat is only as deadly as I let it be. More importantly, the Way does not consist of running, not truly, despite what the Tuatha'an nowadays do. There was a time when those who followed the Way had a purpose so strong they would walk towards certain death, unafraid. And I have a purpose too. . . I'm not sure what it is, but. . . but I wouldn't be following the Way if I ran from it. I can do the most good if I complete my training, and become Aes Sedai."

His sister nodded, but her response still seemed reluctant. "Well, if you still want me to, I'd be happy to travel with you to Tar Valon. But…" Sora looked at her expectantly. Perhaps now she would reveal the source of her discomfort. "Winter is coming, and it won't be long before the snows come. I thought we could spend the winter with Papa. He'll be thrilled to see you, to know you aren't really dead. But if you're in a hurry to return to the Tower. . ."

"Oh!" he exclaimed. So that was what was bothering her. He shook his head quickly to reassure her that he was not, in fact, in a hurry to return to the Tower. He'd already set his heart on spending time with his family - with his rescuer and her father, actually, but the fact that they were his kin was an added incentive. The White Tower could certainly wait a few more months. "I didn't mean right away." He smiled reassuringly. "I would love to spend more time with you, and meet your. . . our. . . father. And you don't have to go with me when I return to Tar Valon, either." His smile widened. "I remember the way, now. Though I would be glad of your company." If it was the city of the Aes Sedai that bothered her, she could now forgo that journey if she wished, but he was relatively certain her reluctance had been due to her desire to return home, and her fear that she would be too late. Well, if her - their father, Sora again corrected himself - was ill, he would be able to help, perhaps.

His suspicions were confirmed when she answered with her own grin, and with relief in her voice. "It's my pleasure to go with you. It's one of the few cities I've never visited-I've only ever seen it from a distance. So it'll be a new adventure for me. Besides, I've thought my twin was dead for nearly thirty years. We've got a lot of catching up to do." She laughed, and Sora laughed with her. A lot of catching up, indeed. But he already felt like he'd known her for years. "We've got lots of daylight left," she continued. "Our farm in only about four or five days walk from here. I'm even more anxious to see Papa now. Do you want to head out and see how far we can get?"

"Of course. I think I've slowed you down enough." She grinned at that - or had she ever stopped grinning? Sora didn't think he had. It didn't take them long to break camp - without horses, they'd been traveling lightly - and soon they were trotting briskly down the road. The day was cool, though not too cold, and there was a fresh autumn breeze. The leaves were beautiful, just beginning to change color and fall - they always shone most brightly in their last hour, like the Da'shain of old. The clouds floated above them majestically, and Andor stretched out before them. Had the world ever been so beautiful?

His sister once more pulled him out of his thoughts as they walked. "Happy Nameday," she smiled. Sora returned her smile - he'd found his memory, and a sister he hadn't known he'd had - two excellent nameday presents - and he couldn't remember when he'd had a better one.

"Happy Nameday, Sister," he answered quietly, and laughed for pure joy. "Happy Nameday."

  • Happy NamedayAllael al'Cantar, Mon Jan 23 15:42
    Soft rays of morning sunshine filtered down through the sheltering trees, lightly caressing the braided blonde hair of the sleeping woman. With a sigh, Allael turned over in her sleep and woke... more
    • Presents! — Runaway Soradrelle, Fri Feb 17 12:39
      • The Light's MercyAllael al'Cantar, Thu Feb 23 18:49
        The days after Soradrelle regained his memory seemed to go too quickly for Allael and she took great joy in her brother. As she no longer had to pause and explain the meanings of the simplest things... more
        • As it Once Was. . .Runaway Soradrelle, Wed Mar 22 18:18
          The first several days after he regained his memory, Soradrelle simply drank in the moment, thinking of neither future nor past. He knew he would return to the White Tower, eventually, but for now it ... more
          • There's no place like homeAllael al'Cantar, Thu Mar 23 16:52
            Allael woke up that morning feeling refreshed, and glad to be home. She'd given Sora her bed, so she'd slept on the floor-but for a person who was used to sleeping out of doors for the last few... more
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