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The Path Turns
Thu Feb 1, 2007 14:49 (XFF:

Time went by and it seemed the creator smiled down on this small band of travelers. Tira became a part of the group, sharing in the chores, joys and sorrows of the people. Several weeks into their meandering journey, an older man passed away, and the traveling people celebrated his life with dance and song. The leaf did not resist when it came time to fall to the ground and nourish new leaves, and Tira was beginning to understand that the Tuatha’an did indeed fear violence more than death. Weeks melted into months, and in that time there were marriages, babies, and many happy times despite the bleakness of winter. Tira knew this idyllic time would not last, but she took things in stride, keeping her eyes and ears open and watching for any sign that things might take a turn for the worse.

The feast of lights had come and gone, and it didn’t seem possible that spring was only a few weeks away. With their slow pace they only managed to travel a few miles per day, but the route they were traveling had taken a more southern turn, and Tira knew that while things were warming up where they were, back in Tar Valon, and her homeland of Kandor, winter still held its icy grip. It was a particularly warm late winter day that found Tira and Gia, a young woman about her own age who she‘d become close friends with, sitting together in Gia’s wagon and admiring the young woman’s new baby.

“She’s beautiful Gia. I just wish I could have been more help during the delivery.” Tira said, remembering with a grimace the many hours of pain her young friend had gone through.

“It’s alright Tira. It’s done now, thank the Light.” Gia said softly, as she cradled her new born daughter in her arms. “I thought all Aes Sedai had healing powers. It never occurred to me that different Aes Sedai might have different abilities.”

“Aes Sedai are like anyone else, with different strengths and weaknesses. It’s a common misconception though; there are some out there that think Aes Sedai can fly, or find water out of solid rock.” She and Gia laughed, then they both turned at the sound of a knock on the door. Turning to her friend Tira said, “You rest, I’ll see who it is.” When she answered the door, her eyes widened in surprise. “Aneirin? Is there something you need?”

“Galen needs you to come right away.” He said urgently, his normally amiable expression gone, replaced by worry.

“Of course,” she replied, and hurried from the wagon after a quick good bye to Gia and a promise to send her husband along if she ran across him. The men were probably still congratulating him and offering advice on parenthood. Aneirin began to lead her away from camp and into the forest and she shot him a puzzled look, but continued to follow him without speaking. When they entered the clearing a short time later, Tira gasped aloud and put her hand to her mouth. Sitting there, looking dazed, was a child. The girl couldn’t have seen more than her tenth name day at most, and the most shocking thing was that she was covered in blood. Her initial reaction fading, Tira’s mind began to work furiously as she went to the child and knelt to examine her.

Running her hands along the girls body to check for wounds, she spoke swiftly to Galen, who was sitting there with his hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Where did she come from?” She asked. Her anger was concealed beneath a mask of Aes Sedai coolness, but the chill in her voice conveyed her wrath to the nervous Tuatha'an.

Galen sighed heavily. “We couldn’t get much out of her, but look at her clothes, Tira Sedai. She's a Tuatha'an."

Light! It’s begun! Instead of voicing her fears aloud, she focused on the child. Gently putting her hands on the girls face, she turned her so that she was looking directly into her eyes. Tira could not heal, but she did know a calming weave. Spirit and Water came together and settled into the girl, making the small body tremble slightly. Her eyes blinked and seemed to see Tira for the first time since she’d arrived. Watching her carefully, Tira asked, “Child, tell me your name please.”

“Crysella.” The child began shaking, and Tira wrapped her arms around her.

“Alright Crysella, my name is Tira. No one is going to hurt you here. Please, tell me what happened to you.” She said, her voice steady and coaxing.

“Men,” Crysella said, in a small voice. “Men came, wanted us to follow the dragon. Father told them we follow the Way, that we helped the Dragon by following the Way. They said the dragon was the only way.”

Dragonsworn. She’d heard reports, barley to believed from the safety of the tower, about these dragonsworn killing, raping and pillaging in the name of the dragon. She knew now; knew what threat she had to protect the tinkers against. Knowing didn’t make it any easier, and her anger only flared the hotter. Looking up she said quickly, “Aneirin, please get me some fresh clothes, blankets, and something warm to eat and drink for Crysella.”

Aneirin nodded, “Of course, Tira Sedai.” He said, then quickly left for camp, his long stride taking him out of sight within seconds.

Turning her attention back to the child, Tira continued, “Alright Crysella. You’re doing well. I know this will be hard for you, but can you tell me what happened next? If you can't remember, that's alright, but I'd like to know.

“Everything happened so fast.” Crysella said, clinging to Tira. "One of them shouted something, and all of a sudden the wagons were burning. Then one of them grabbed me. He started fighting with another one about who would get me first, then they attacked each other, and I ran away.”

That explains the blood. Tira thought. That then led to another thought, This blood is barely dried. When could this have happened? “Crysella, I just want to ask you one more question. And then we’ll be finished. When did this happen?”

“Last night. I’ve been running all day, like Mama told me to. Is Mama going to be ok?” She asked, and Tira didn’t know what to say.

“I don’t know child. All we can do is wait and hope.” About that time Aneirin returned with the items she’d requested, as well as the Mahdi’s wife, Chesna. Gratefully she turned the child over to Chesna, suggesting that they clean the girl up before bringing her back to camp. Then Tira took Galen to the side. “Galen, you are all in danger. Those men can be anywhere; we must take some precautions.”

Galen, with great patience, merely shook his head. “Does the leaf take precautions against the autumn wind which blows it to the ground? No, we will go on as we always do. If it is meant for us to stay away from these men, then we will.”

After many months among them, Tira should not have been surprised by his answer. But it still angered her. “You are the Mahdi of this band, and you would willingly walk them into danger?”

“Of course not,” he replied, his own expression darkening. “We will keep our eyes open, and if there is danger we will run. Do you think that I don’t have the safety of my people in mind? That is why we travel the direction we do. I told you when you first began to travel with us that we were trying to reach Seanchan lands. There we will find safety and can search for the song in peace.”

Knowing that further argument was futile, Tira stormed out of the clearing. When she returned to camp, she made her way immediately to Aneirin’s wagon. He had not yet returned, and Tira stormed inside and began slamming cabinet doors and pacing back and forth in the small space. So engrossed in her own anger, she never saw the door to the wagon open, and she crashed headlong into Aneirin when he entered. He caught her easily, and managed to keep them both from tumbling to the floor. After awkward apologies and much stammering, Tira at last sat on the bed, still fuming over her discussion with Galen. “If it were you Aneirin, what would you do?”

His answer was calm, but his eyes seemed troubled. "It is not me, Tira Sedai. Galen is the Mahdi, the Seeker, and we follow him. The Way has led him, and he has led us, for many years. I am not wise enough to question his decisions."

It was impossible to pace with Aneirin inside the wagon, so she began fidgeting with her ring instead. “But if it was your mother, your sister…?”

Aneirin’s expression became more pained; his eyes yet more troubled. “You should not ask me these things Tira Sedai. I’m not a good Tuatha’an anyway.”

“That’s preposterous. What do you mean, saying something like that?” She replied, confused at his odd remark.

Their eyes met, and though he didn’t shout, his pain was clear in his voice. “Because I was once an Aiel. And when I saw that girl and heard her story, the desire to dance the spears with the filth who did that to her and her family filled me. I couldn’t have been more relieved when you asked me to leave the clearing, for I was afraid that everyone would see the violence written upon my face.” He sat down again, and put his head in his hands. Sighing, he looked back up at Tira. “I haven’t thought about the spears in a long time. I had hoped that it had left me.”

“Oh Aneirin, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pushed you, it was wrong of me.” Unsure how to mend things, Tira crossed the small space to sit beside him, the turned and put her arms around him. A hug from Soradrelle had always made her feel better, and she hoped that her embrace would help Aneirin. “It doesn’t matter what you were, only what you are now.”

He returned her embrace, but Tira's thoughts were already far away. She knew now what she had to protect the Tuatha'an from, but she still had to figure out how to protect them. And that would be no easy task, with the Way to consider. Finally, she returned to herself and shook off her fog, and murmured something indistinct about preparations. Gliding out of the wagon, she left Aneirin watching her with an odd expression on his face.

OOC: More thanks to Will for his help with all the posts in this string.

  • Slow and Steady is the PaceTira Chakima Aes Sedai, Blue ajah, Sat Jan 13 20:57
    Several evenings later, Tira sat at the fire with the Tuatha’an, watching as some of the women began a dance. Even the cold did not stop Tinkers from dancing, and the young ladies whirled around the... more
    • The Path Turns — Tira Chakima Aes Sedai, Blue ajah, Thu Feb 1 14:49
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