The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legends fade 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 pass, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings or endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

The wind blew south across the mountains until it hit the walls of the great city of Amador. There it rose up and encircled the towers of the Fortress of the Light. It made the spotless white cloaks of the guards rise up behind them before heading east across the river Sharia. As it left the broad meadows of Amadicia it carried with it the muffled curses against the dark One uttered by dozens of Children of the Light. The wind blew on, following the river all the way to Ebou Dar where it witnessed the solemn departure of a procession of royal guards. These men felt their duty way heavy on their shoulders for they would be away from their homes for many weeks. And yet they were honored because they were chosen to escort the dead body of an Aes Sedai to her final resting place at Tar Valon. The wind ruffled the many banners and flags and picked up a few notes of the sad funeral-songs that accompanied the soldiers ’ departure and carried them north, deep inland, to deliver their last dying whispers to a man sleeping restlessly beneath a tree in the wild pine forests of Altara.

Music. A cold dry wind cut across Raimund’s face and blew several dead leaves up against his still closed eyelids. Wearily he opened one eye. The sun was floating high above which told him he had already wasted several hours of daylight. His head was still filled with the fog of sleep. He grunted in pain as he stood up, his muscles stiff and sore. The world seemed unreal in a way. The sounds were dampened, the colors more grey than he remembered, the light threw deeper shadows than it should. Concentrating was difficult. Raimund was tired, exhausted. He didn’t know how long he had slept, but it wasn’t enough. He didn’t even remember going to sleep. All he remembered was running, going north.

“Come, I am waiting”

The fog in his mind lifted and in a flash of light and pain everything returned. The world snapped back in to place and his memory resurfaced. North, he was heading north. Raimund checked himself and his possessions. His clothes had once been of exceptional quality, the shirt had been made by the personal tailor of Gareth Bryne, but now they were filthy and torn. The backpack he carried was empty except for a cloak that was folded carefully. His rations had run out a week ago and he had lost most of the rest of his belongings when his horse had died. The last item Raimund checked was his sword, a traditional hand-and-a-half sword with a large blue sapphire at the end of the hilt. Even though the scabbard was covered in mud the weapon itself was sharp and clean. Near the base of the blade an inscription was set and Raimund slowly moved his fingers across the writing as he slid the weapon back in to place. Onward, he needed to keep moving. As he compelled his aching muscles to start running he could feel how weak he really was. He had been travelling for nearly ten days now. Or was it eleven? The first part of his journey had been the worst. Sure he had been rested and he had a horse and enough food and water but the pain had been fresh. The normal feelings when mourning a loved one combined with an ice-cold emptiness deep within his mind where she used to be. It had almost driven him mad. His horse had died on the fifth day. The noble beast had given all it had to give and more but it’s body finally gave out not because of thirst or hunger but out of pure exhaustion. Raimund could not bring himself to care. He had bought the stallion as a foal and had broken him in himself but a horse could be replaced. He had continued his voyage on foot, running. The last few days had turned in to a blur of hunger and fatigue. Thinking became difficult but at least the hazy waters that covered his mind kept out the constant reminders of his failure. Raimund’s left leg trembled as he took another step and with the next one his right leg buckled. He hit the ground hard and rolled on a few passes before finally lying still at the foot of a withered silver-fir. His stomach growled and made it clear he needed to eat before he could go any further. But he didn’t have anything and he probably didn’t have the strength necessary to hunt. How long had it been since he had eaten? One day? Two? He could feel the fog returning in his head, his eyelids were becoming heavy again. He couldn’t stay still, he needed to keep moving. It took Raimund ten minutes to crawl to the silver-fir and use it as support to get back on his feet.

“Come, You are needed.”

Raimund sighed, “I can’t, not anymore”. His words were little more than a whisper. He sank to his knees. “I am sorry, I have failed you. We have never even met and I have already failed you. I…” Raimund swallowed the last of his words. Something had changed in the surroundings. The birds had fallen silent, someone was coming. He was several leagues from the nearest town or even road. Who would venture this far in to the woods. Outlaws. Bandits. With his last strength he pushed himself back to his feet but as he drew his sword he fumbled and dropped the blade a few feet away from the tree. So this is how it would end, not a heroic last stand in the blight, not a second chance to die while performing his duty but killed by a couple of criminals who normally wouldn’t dare to look at him twice. With weary eyes Raimund looked through the bushes, trying to find his enemy. Suddenly the sound of a ruffling cloak came from behind and while he turned something hit him on the side of his head. As he fell to the ground Raimund wondered who had hit him. It could not be a simple ruffian. The ground gave away and Raimund started to fall again, deeper and deeper down a dark hole. The forest became a tiny little light at the end of a tunnel. Who could it be? Almost no-one could sneak up on him, on someone like him,... on a Warder.


Wheel of Time Smiling_ST