“You are a Warder?”

Raimund’s surprise could easily be heared in his voice. Slowly he tried to sit upright. It took him longer than he liked and he had to fight the urge to throw up as the world started spinning again but finally he managed to place his back against a nearby tree.

“I guess that explains how you could sneak up on me but why are you out here, and alone at that. Are you on a mission for the Tower? I know they sometimes send out some of us on solo missions but that is rare.”

The man grinned as he took a small metal cup from the fire and handed it to Raimund. “Full of questions aren’t you. Drink this and shut up while I talk for a while. My name is Edwing. I was a Warder, like you, a long time ago. I served my Aes Sedai, may the light shine on her soul, but she died. For a while I didn’t know what to do with myself. I tried to get myself killed but that didn’t work. I went mad but ultimately I got better. The madness faded and I could determine my own fate again. I still mourn her though, I still think of her every day. The way she died in my arms, the way…”

Edwing’s eyes became glazy as he seemed to stare in the distance. Raimund wasn’t sure but he could swear Edwing wiped away a tear from his left eye as he got up to remove his cloak. “I came out here to get away from it all. I thought nobody would find me out here but it seems fate always catches up. Can’t outrun the turning of the wheel can we.”

An eerie silence hung between the two men for a few minutes. Raimund drank his soup in silence and Edwing seemed content with just watching him. As Raimund set down his cup the man started talking again. “Now it is your turn to clarify a few things. I already know you are a Warder and by the way you are treating yourself I can guess that the reason you are travelling alone is that you lost your Aes Sedai as well. What happened?”

Raimund coughed and suddenly became more aware of his discomfort. The roots of the tree were bruising his legs and the bark was chafing the still fresh wound on his head. The ground was hard and cold as was the wind and the fire was too warm. For the first time since Grianne had died he was forced to face what had happened. The smell of her blood returned and he could almost hear her laugh from the night before. She was gone. He fought the tears that suddenly tried to overwhelm him. In his panic he reached for the support of his bond as he had done so many times before. That what responded was different though, not her. Someone else was there, someone north of him. The feeling didn’t reasure him like it usually did, it scared him even further but also made him angry. Why had Grianne done this without asking him, how could she have handed him over like he was a toy to be borrowed or lend. Why wasn’t he allowed to die like most Warders did who lost the Sister they were bonded to. Like most Warders? Raimund frowned as he was forced to re-evaluate what he knew. Edwing hadn’t died. He had found a way to keep on living without a bond. Raimund looked up and became keenly aware of Edwing who was still sitting a few feet away just staring at him. Raimund wondered how long he had been quiet. “She was murdered about ten days ago at the royal palace in Ebou Dar. I woke up as our bond ended and found her lying next to me in a puddle of her own blood. I tried but I couldn’t find her murderer.”

“You didn’t try very hard now did you? If she died ten days ago and you are already out here you can’t have looked much longer than one or two days. Some investigations take weeks before the culprit is found. But I understand. What are you? Shienaran? On your way to die valiantly in the Blight?” Raimund’s anger started to grow even further but before he could react he felt his feelings melt like ice in front of a raging fire. His anger, guilt, sadness and frustration all disappeared as if the wind had blown them away like an autumn-leaf. He could even feel his new bond being dampened, the compulsion to keep traveling fell away and no longer could he tell in which direction he could find his Aes Sedai. Raimund knew something wasn’t right, he knew he should be worried but his worries kept slipping away. Edwing had noticed Raimund’s confusion.

“I slipt a mild sedative in your soup. This way we can talk without you constantly bursting in to tears or yelling in anger. I can help you. I know what you are going through and I know how to work through this. You can go on and die if you like but with my help you can live on and have your own life again. Think about it, what would she have wanted for you?”

“I am not…” Raimund fell his eyelids become heavy again. Edwing had probably put too much of the sedative in his food. “I am not heading to the Blight. I wanted to but she wouldn’t allow it. She is calling me to her, that is where I am going. That is where I am needed.” Raimund’s last words were little more than a whisper and as soon as he had finished his sentence he fell asleep against the tree. All of the color had disappeared from Edwing’s face however. This man was still bonded, still a Warder bound to the will of the Tower. For a few minutes he paced around the fire, considering what to do, weighing his options against each other. Finally he sat back down and accepted his fate. He pulled a small ring from his breast-pocket and kissed it gently. The ring had the shape of a serpent biting it’s own tail.

“Can’t outrun the turning of the Wheel Amella. Soon the time of justice will be at hand.”


Wheel of Time Smiling_ST