Training

Raimund awoke the next day to the smell of hot tea. He opened his eyes and found himself lying in a bedroll next to the fire. His possessions were lying next to him and Edwing was busy saddling two horses several feet away. The smell came from a pot which was dangling over the fire and Raimund found an empty cup in his now full backpack. He poured himself some tea and ate some of the bread he found lying on a rock nearby. His dizziness was gone and his head only hurt a little any more. The soup from the night before, the tea, the bread and the good night’s sleep made him feel better than he done in days. When he had finished eating Raimund got up and walked over to the horses. Edwing had ignored him up to now although Raimund knew the man had heared him move around camp.

“Where did you get the horses?” Edwing checked the last of the saddle’s straps and turned around smiling. “They were here all along, you probably just didn’t notice them. Are you feeling better? I hope you don’t mind but I moved you a little closer to the fire last night. You didn’t even wake up. I also used an ointment to take care of your head, I have some more of it so the pain should be gone in a day or two.”

“Thanks. Thanks for everything. I know you mean well but I have to keep moving. Your sedative is gone and I can feel her calling again. I need to keep moving north. I noticed you gave me some supplies but I don’t have anything to pay you with right now. If you ever need anything though, just let me know.”

“Well I need some better directions than north if we intend to find this Aes Sedai of yours. My guess is that we need to head towards Murandy and Andor, maybe even Tar Valon itself. It all depends on how much this Aes Sedai likes you. Most would hurry to find a Warder who’s bond has been passed on because your kind usually doesn’t last very long on it’s own. But if you were past on to, let’s say someone from the red Ajah, then… And I doubt we are going to find her in Ghealdan. Nothing much to find there but the ruins Logain left behind.”

Raimund couldn’t help but smile. He had hoped Edwing would accompany him but had been too ashamed to ask. “I know she is coming this way, I can feel it. We need to head north-east” “Good, that means Murandy. We are close to the border. I think we will reach the Manetherendrelle before nightfall. There we will stop and I will teach you a few tricks. Things they don’t teach you at the Tower.”

Raimund nodded and walked back to the camp. He collected his things as Edwing put out the fire and drank the last of the tea. Edwing had already mounted a black stallion by the time Raimund hung his sword on his hip. He pointed at the larger grey horse. “Biter there is for you. He has a mind of his own though so keep his reins short. He belonged to a soldier that fought for Logain. The man is dead now and although Biter was trained for combat I managed to get him to accept other riders. Show him you are worthy and I am sure he will serve you for the rest of his life.”

The two men rode north through the pine-forest until suddenly the trees stopped and made room for steep hills covered with long green and brown grass. In the distance a road could be seen winding through the hills. Edwing moved on and started to follow the road north. “This is the main road from Ebou Dar to Lugard, the capital of Murandy. From there it’s a straight run all the way to Caemlyn. The trip from Lugard to Caemlyn will probably take the better part of two weeks and if we hurry we can be in Lugard in 3 to 4 days. We will probably meet up with your lady friend somewhere near Lugard. Think you can hold on until then?” Raimund couldn’t decide if Edwing was mocking him or if he was genuinely concerned. The trip through the forest had only been two or three hours but nothing had been said the entire time and so Raimund’s thoughts had gone back to Grianne. He had felt fine that morning but now the depression was setting in again. Edwing had obviously noticed.

“I will be fine. Just keep moving, we are loosing daylight just standing here.” The horses were urged on and mile after mile of road passed beneath their hooves. Edwing kept Raimund’s attention away from anything Aes-Sedai related by telling strange tale after strange tale about his adventures in Altara, Murandy and Ghealdan. Raimund decided that the man would have made an excellent gleeman. Most of Edwing’s tales that took place in Ghealdan were about fighting against the false Dragon Logain although as far as Raimund could tell he fought with him on at least two separate occasions. Edwing’s stories made the day pass quicker and Biter made sure that Raimund kept his focus. The horse tried to pull his reins loose every half-an-hour and wanted to stop to eat the long grass as soon as Raimund gave him the chance.

When Edwing finally steered his stallion off the road to make up kamp Raimund was surprised to see water glistening several feet away. “Is that the Manetherendrelle already? I thought the sun would be setting by the time we got here. Can I go take a bath or do you want to do those exercises you were talking about this morning first.” Edwing got off his horse and methodically started to prepare the campsite. He tied up the two animals nearby, took off their saddles and scrubbed them dry with some of the long grass Then he dug a small pit and filled it with the dry wood he had taken from the forest to build the fire. “You can go and take a bath if you like, the tricks I am going to teach you do not require any physical exercise. Just stay where I can see you. I won’t let you drown yourself in a sudden flash of depression.” His last words made Raimund grumble on his way to the river. The water felt great against his bruised and chafed skin and he could feel the knots in his muscles disappear. Only a warm bath would have been better. When he was done he found a set of clean clothes waiting for him on a rock even though he hadn’t heard Edwing put them there. Not for the first time did Raimund wonder how good this man really was. He returned to camp and arrived just in time for Edwing to hand him a piece of roasted meat and a some bread and cheese. The meat was rabbit and where Edwing had gotten it was a mystery for Raimund. The two of them ate in silence and prepared the camp to go to sleep afterwards. When their bedrolls had been spread out and their possessions were packed to head out the next morning Edwing sat himself down across the fire from Raimund.

“It is time for your lesson. I promise you that what I am about to tell you will make you a better Warder but I will only tell it if you promise me that you will listen to me until I am finished. No interruptions whatsoever, you will not speak a word until I say you can. Agreed?” “Agreed.” “Good.” Edwing stretched his arms as if to get more comfortable but Raimund could see he moved his axe to a position where he could get to it more easily. Edwing even shifted his weight. It was clear that he anticipated problems.

“Your Aes Sedai died because of you. You killed her as much as the real murderer did. We Warders have but one goal and that is to protect our bonded Sister with our life. We have no other use. And you my young friend, failed in that goal. She left the safety of the Tower thinking she had a shield to protect her but in the end it turned out that shield was made of paper.” Raimund was shocked. He fell back in horror as he heard Edwing’s words. He wanted to protest but Edwing’s face as he opened his mouth reminded him of his promise to keep quiet. “But that failure isn’t the worst thing you have done the last couple of days. Oh no. Most Warders revenge their sister after she dies, but you ran away. You let the murderer get away with his crime. I understand that you needed to get to the person who now holds your bond but that urge can be resisted. You didn’t even try. That brings us to your final and deepest failure. Wen I found you yesterday you were a sick little boy. You asked how I could sneak up on you. Anyone with even a little bit of woodland experience could have done that. You were wallowing in your self-pity hoping that the end was nigh while you should have pulled yourself together for the sake of your new charge. You have failed so utterly once and if I hadn’t come along you would have done so a second time. I understand the pain you went through but there are only two ways of dealing with it. Either you kill yourself right here or you decide now, on this very moment, that you will live on for the sake of the woman who is racing south to save your life. Your previous life is gone, but you have a new life now. Your slate has been wiped clean. Decide now.”

Edwing looked expectantly at Raimund. Raimund knew that if he drew his sword to kill himself the man would not stop him. Edwing was right, he needed to make a choice. He would be no good to his new charge if he was constantly distracted. The man’s words had not ha the expected result. Raimund thought he would have been reduced to a quivering child but instead a strange acceptance started to grow inside. Not knowing if he could speak Raimund simply drew his sword and placed it next to him on the ground nodding as the metal touched the earth.

“Good choice son. I realize you can’t simply forget about what happened but you need to learn how to deal with it. Here is how you do that. First of all you need learn how to meditate. Simply sit down on the ground and remember what happened and what I just told you. It helps if you have an item belonging to your previous charge, a picture says more than a thousand words after all. Through this exercise you must come to accept your failure and you must vow never to make the same mistake again. Do this every night and soon you will get control over yourself again. This meditation doesn’t have to take long, just ten or fifteen minutes. You understand? You can talk again now.” Raimund crawled back to the fire and sat back down. Somehow he knew what Edwing suggested would work. “I understand.”

Edwing smiled and poured himself another cup of tea. The suddenly he looked around like he had heared something. For a moment he sat there listening to the wind and then shook his head. Finally he got up and walked over to his backpack. Raimund thought he could see him shake his head as he pulled something from between the rations. Was he whispering something? It sounded strange as if he was hissing through his teeth. It sounded like he was saying: “I won’t give it, I won’t”. But as he turned around he was still smiling.

“Seeing as how you have done so good I have something for you, a present of sort. Amella Sedai, that was the sister I was bound to, gave this to me on my birthday years ago. She wanted me to use it but I never did. It may help you on your travels, may help you to get past what has happened.” Raimund started to shake his head but Edwing handed him the small parcel none the less. Wrapped in cloth was a small book bound in black leather. On the cover, etched in the leather was a drawing of an open book and a quill that was writing in it. “Amella always said that I kept things bottled up too much, said I needed to let things out now and then. She wanted me to keep a journal. I’m no good with words however so I just kept it with me. You could use it, I know that is what Amella would have wanted. Write down what happens to you and I am sure you will feel better”. Raimund looked at the book. He couldn’t take it, he couldn’t accept something this personal. But refusing the gift would almost certainly insult Edwing.

“I’ll take it and put it to good use. Thank you again, for everything.” Edwing smiled but his smile didn’t reach his eyes. Raimund put the book away. How would he feel if he had to give away one of his last links to Grianne? Neither of them said a word as Raimund tried to meditate nor when they crawled in to their bedrolls and went to sleep. The next morning Edwing seemed alright again however, he started telling his tales as soon as they were on the road and didn’t stop until nightfall. That night Raimund could tell the Aes Sedai who held his bond was close.

“One more day.”

Training

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