8 Shaido

Raimund watched as five veiled aiel warriors cautiously approached him. Their spears were held ready in their hands and Raimund could see death in their eyes. One wrong move and they would end his life. Carefully he placed his sword on the ground and raised his hands. If they had wanted him dead they would have attacked immediately. He knew some of the Shaido were darkfriends but because they had just attacked the myrdraal, and in so doing had saved his life, he figured that wasn’t the case with these five. Fighting them would be more foolish than fighting the myrdraal, he probably wouldn’t last five seconds against them. The five warriors surrounded him at a safe distance, then one of them approached.
“I see you wetlander. Your passing in these lands have given me and my brothers many opportunities do dance the spears. Many of us have left the dream because of you.”

One of the other warriors pointed a spear towards Raimund. “He lead us in to an ambush, our tribe has lost more men than it can spare. If we find Sevanna she will not be pleased. We should either kill him or make him Gai’Shain.”

The other warriors seemed divided on the subject of what to do with Raimund. As they stood there several warriors voiced their opinion.

“We cannot make him Gai’Shain. He is a wetlander and he is unarmed. It is not done.”
“Sevannah has changed things. We can take what we want. Wetlanders are cowards and are weak.”

“We should end his life. The blood of our brothers demand it.”

The aiel man who had approached Raimund stopped the argument by raising his hand.
“Wetlander, were you the one who killed Roal outside of his camp a few night ago?”

Raimund hadn’t known the name of the darkfriend he had killed but he knew that was the man they were talking about. “Yes, I am. He was a darkfriend. He had sold one of your slaves to a myrdraal and I punished him for it.”

The man nodded. “Roal a shadowwalker? Maybe. It is true that one of his Gai’Shain disappeared not long ago. If he indeed was a shadowwalker you were right in ending his time in the dream. Had we known we would have done so ourselves. Also, you have no toh for leading us in to the ambush. We should have been more carefull and no one is responsible for actions of the shadow.”

“So you believe me?”

“I do. That does not mean I will let you go however. We still need to decide if we will make you Gai’Shain.”

“If you do I cannot promise to serve you the way they normally do.”

One of the other warriors raised his spear again. “See, he admits to having no honor. Let us kill him and be done with it.”

Raimund shook his head. “I cannot promise to serve because I already serve another.”

The leader pointed at Raimund’s cloak. “You serve an Aes sedai, no? The girl that just left here, was she the Aes Sedai you serve?”

“She isn’t. But yes I serve an Aes Sedai.”

The man turned back towards is companions. “It would be like trying to make a Gai’Shain of a Gai’Shain. Not possible.”

“Then we kill him?”

“No. A man on a quest for a wise one must be left alone. This man is not my enemy and he has no toh towards me.”

To Raimund’s surprise the other aiel warriors repeated their leader’s words. All except the one who had been so bent on killing him.

“I do not care that this man serves an Aes Sedai. He is a wetlander and has brought death to our tribe. I will end his dream here and you have no right to stop me.”

The aiel leader turned towards the man. “I do not. But we will not help you either. If you want to see this toh repaid it is up to you.”

Raimund had followed the exchange of words between the two warriors and had guessed it’s outcome. He had already moved away from his enemy and had carefully released the straps around a second sword he carried, the power-wrought blade he had received from Grimm. As the aiel warrior finally attacked he acted without thought. His blade sprang from its sheathe and connected with the wooden hilt of the spear. The indestructible metal won and the spear broke in half. The Shaido warrior quickly danced away from Raimund. With obvious disgust he looked at Raimund’s sword as he pulled a second spear from the quiver on his back. Again he attacked and again Raimund defended himself by trying to sunder his enemy’s weapon. The second spear broke and once more the Shaido was forced to create more distance to reach for a new weapon. As angry as the man had been at the start of the battle, now he was furious. Hatred flowed out of his eyes as he looked at Raimund. Just a little push and he would attack without thought, forgetting the most important rule of battle, leave your emotions at the side. Raimund decided to try and get his enemy over the edge.

“I have told you aiel time and time again to start using real weapons. Children play with sticks, real warriors learn how to wield a blade.I think I have just proven why.”
Raimund’s insult made the man’s eyes grow wide and as expected he charged without thought. Raimund was prepared for the attack and tried to move aside. The man’s speed was amazing and even though Raimund had been waiting he only barely managed to get out of the way. With the man’s back now totally exposed finishing the fight was easy. Raimund’s blade pierced his body and heart, ending the man’s life swiftly and as painless as possible. As he turned towards the remaining aiel he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his side. The fight had opened up his wound. The Shaido warriors had noticed and their leader grinned as he turned to Raimund. “It looks as though your dream may still end here today. You have no toh towards me wetlander, but I have none to you either. You are neither my enemy nor my friend so do not expect any help from me. We will rejoin our clan now, do not follow us.”

The other warriors picked up their fallen brother and moved in to the forest. Before the leader disappeared between the trees he turned to Raimund one last time.
“My name is Rogan. I am certain we will meet again wetlander. In this dream or the next.”

After the aiel had left Raimund tried to stop his wound from bleeding. Now that the adrenaline was gone he felt tired again and he knew he would pass out again soon from blood loss. If that happened he was as good as dead. As the colors faded and the world got darker Raimund wondered how far off Nealyn was and if she would come searching for his body once he was dead. He hoped she wouldn’t, but knew better.

For the second time in less than two days Raimund woke up after losing consciousness. This time however he was no longer in the same place he had passed out. Gone was the forest and it’s dry trees and withered plants. The soft forest floor was replaced with hard cut stone. In the distance Raimund could not see any sky, nor clouds, sun or stars. Darkness was all that surrounded him, except for a small fire that burned not far off. It took Raimund a while to realize where he was. The ways. He was laying, wrapped in his cloak, on the floor of a small island that connected several bridges in the ways. As he tried to get up he noticed Méllia laying next to him with her head on his chest again. Something was clouding his mind and numbing the sensations of his body. His movement woke up Méllia who sat upright and immediately began to inspect him. She felt his head and examined the wound in his side and on his shoulder. The expression on her face made it clear that she did not like what she saw. Raimund still had problems forming a coherent thought and could do nothing but let her continue. Finally, when she was finished, she brought a cup towards Raimund’s lips and helped him drink it. It was cold, clear water but to Raimund it tasted like the best wine he had ever had.
“Easy now, don’t drink too much too soon or you’ll get sick.”

“How…? Where…?”

“I came back. I… I am sorry I ran away in the first place. It’s just, he scares me so much.”

Her face turned red with shame as she urged Raimund to lay back.
“I found you unconscious near the gate. I dragged you here and cleaned and bound your wound. It had already stopped bleeding on its own. I found some herbs on you and made some tea with them. I recognized them from a book I once read. They take away pain right? The wound in your side is deep but I don’t think it is infected. The small cut on your shoulder is a different matter however. It is only shallow and although the wound is clean it still stinks and the skin around it has turned black. You also have a high fever and I think the wound is responsible.”

Raimund had heard only half of what the girl had said but slowly it got through to him.
“Yes. Myrdraal’s blade is poison. Must get to Aes Sedai. Nealyn will heal me.”

He tried to get up again but Méllia easily forced him back down. “Not yet. Let’s get some more sleep first. That way the herbs will have worn off and you’ll be able to think more clearly. Although I think I like you better this way. It makes you much easier to handle.” She laughed at her own joke but saw that Raimund had already fallen asleep again.

A few hours later Raimund woke up again. The fog that had clouded his mind earlier was gone so he could think more clearly now but pain had taken its place. Without the soothing effects of the herbs Raimund now fully experienced the pain his wounds caused him. He felt the wound in his side throb, his head hurt and he switched between freezing to death and sweating because of how hot he felt. The thing that worried him most however was that the cut on his shoulder, the one from the shade’s blade did not hurt at all. Méllia handed him some more water and helped him get up. The world turned upside down and he had to try hard not to throw up but finally he was able to take a few steps. He tried to call upon his body’s reserves only to notice they were gone. He was finally reaching his limits. For about fifteen minutes Raimund managed to walk upright by himself. Méllia walked a few feet behind him, her disapproval clearly visible on her young face. When Raimund finally tripped and fell she was there to catch him however. The rest of the day she supported him as they made their way across the bridges. As always Raimund remained quiet. He did not know the girl he had rescued, and who had rescued him, and he had to focus hard enough on placing one foot in front of the other without falling down. Besides, small-talk had never been his thing. Méllia however talked almost the entire time. She never raised her voice above a barely audible whisper but she went on and on about her family, her education and her future. Raimund was glad she did. It gave him something to focus on when the darkness tried to swallow him up again. His bond with Nealyn felt strange, distant, as if she was on the other side of the world. Raimund figured the ways caused this strange effect. After what seemed like an eternity they reached an island on which the waystone mentioned a gate Raimund thought stood near Cairhien. As they opened the doors and passed through the strange veil Raimund thought he heard a voice in the distant but the Black Wind was too late, they were safe.

8 Shaido

Wheel of Time Smiling_ST