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Stranger on the Sands
Sun Apr 9, 2006 14:18 (XFF:

Menaihya was awaiting a peddler. By schedule he should have arrived in Rhuidean two nights ago, but one could never lay dependence on a wetlander when relating to punctuality, especially when traveling across the Three-fold Land was the situation. Wetlanders seemed to face tedious hardships when making the journey across the sands, getting lost more than logically possible—how exactly could they walk in circles so much?—and dying of heatstroke even before they reached halfway to their intended destination. ‘Wetlander,’ she said now, when she hadn’t used the word—even by thought—for a great deal of time; but it was strange how the Aiel mindset fought to claim her outlook of things once again now that she was here and among her people. Of course, her people saw her halfway as a wetlander herself.

“You ran off to that White Tower,” Berys, Wise One of the Nine Valleys sept of the Taardad clan had commented wryly on the first day of her arrival, “when you could have remained here and received all the training your heart desires.”

“I did what I must,” she had said by way of answer.

Berys had peered at her in a most shrewd manner, her long, fiery hair streaked with white shifting against her shoulders as she shook her head. “Whatever the case, girl, you have come back, and as long as you have you are under our—”

“I am Aes Sedai, Berys.” Her voice had been distinctly cool, her green eyes unblinking. “I have attained the Wise One’s status in Tar Valon, in the White Tower. I will not be told otherwise.” The Wise One’s face might have shamed a Warder in its stoniness, but a second past the iron set of jaw relented a fraction in a tight nod. And that was that.

But she was awaiting a peddler. She and Terrian had parted ways back in Mayene, both having had to see to Division business elsewhere—they would rejoin each other sometime in the ambiguous future—, and from there Menaihya had sent a pigeon to the Shining Walls. It had been to a Brown, Neslie Boden by name, a diminutive Kandori with whom she had been Accepted, in request of certain research materials she had inquired of before her departure from the White Tower; Neslie Boden had promised to look into the Depositories, and by the time Menaihya reached Mayene she had hoped the sister would have it ready to send it to her. Therefore she had sent in the request by pigeon and Neslie Boden had affirmed that she had sent everything in a letter, which would be delivered to the Aiel Waste by a certain peddler Jachin Masson.

So when he finally found her, or rather, she found him as he was meandering up the slopes with his peddler’s wagon—it was him; the Far Dareis Mai had reported a peddler in the perimeter earlier this day. He was carrying a man. “Aes Sedai!” he said, and though his voice was in all sense frantic, it was little higher than a hoarse whisper. It must have been taxing carrying the weight of the man up the bluff, but Menaihya suspected it was more to prevent the risk of anyone else from hearing. What was such a horrible secret, then? “Please help me. I… I didn’t know. I never, never knew. I wouldn’t have—I wouldn’t have cut him down if I’d known that he’d been tied there for a reason, and…”

A ball of lucid light sprung up to hover over Menaihya’s upturned hand as she motioned for the peddler to lay the man down, and in doing so she noted his condition with surprise. Fighting a sand leopard with bare hands might have earned less scratches! “You should have come for me straight away without touching him,” she snapped at the peddler who was still whimpering some excuse that he didn’t know. He didn’t know what? “Have you never been taught that moving a man with broken bones will only make his condition worse?” Even she, who was little learned in herblore, knew that much. In the darkness she shook out her pale sheets of hair behind her, and kneeling beside the lain figure, she placed the weaves of Delving into him.

Light. This was clearly beyond her Talents of Healing. Anything would be, she thought to herself a touch caustically, when she could Heal little more than a bruise. Still, she plunged her weaves into the surface of the man’s skin, and Healed what scratches she could. “You,” she called, and the peddler was instantly by her side, “Master Jachin Masson, stay by this man’s side until I return. Do not worry—I am coming back with Wise Ones who are better versed in herbs than I. Keep to his side. I will be back soon.”

She was true to her word. But a few minutes later she returned with Berys and two others, who were carrying with them bags of various sachets and splints and the like. She knelt by the man again as the Wise Ones swiftly carried out their work, shaking their heads as they attended to his multiple wounds that looked….cruder than what a spear might have done. Menaihya had never seen such wounds before, and she had seen quite the collection of human hurts. At one point the man stirred to consciousness as Berys was pulling on a tendon in the leg, but although he moaned and blinked up at her a few times, Menaihya could not have been sure whether he saw her or not. Sometime in the night, she pulled aside the peddler to have a word with him.

“Where did you find this man?” were her opening words, and as if having expected something of the sort, the man called Jachin Masson flinched back.

“Back there, Menaihya Sedai. To the….east from here. It’s an hour away.” To him, yes. To them, a few minutes at most. But that was besides the point.

“And you just found him? Hurt and bleeding on the ground?”

“He was tied up to a stone, Aes Sedai. Oh, but I didn’t know!” Tamping the urge to smack some sense into the man, Menaihya pursed her lips.

“Stop that! You did not know what, man?”

“I just saw him—well, no, I heard him first, and all that went through my head was that I was helping someone in need. It didn’t occur to me….that he must have been tied up for a reason. He must have been! But if you speak to them, Menaihya Sedai, they will listen to you—”

“Do not be so assumptive, Master Jachin Masson,” she interjected, “If it had been the Aiel who did that to him, they—” she nodded towards the Wise Ones, “—would not be helping him right now. And I would know of it.” She peered at him in the darkness with narrowed eyes. “Tied to a stone, you say? And what stone is that?” The peddler had opened his mouth to answer, when a cry sounded behind them. The man’s voice. “He is awake,” Menaihya observed, and with that they went to see to him, the mysterious arrival.

OOC: There you go. I’ll leave the letter-opening to my next post.

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